Monday, April 23, 2012

A bittersweet end to this chapter

It's hard to believe but I've been at home full-time for four years now (April 4 was my 'anniversary') and for three of those years, I've been working for myself.

As most of you know, I started working for myself because I wanted to stay home with the kids and because 'hey,  I can write so maybe I can pick up some work'. Honestly, other than wanting to be a stay-at-home mom, there wasn't much planning put into this career change.

And so, over the last three years, I've slowly built up a part-time business while being a stay-at-home mom -- something that has been, at times, quite a challenging balancing act.

And over the last year I have put more thought into 'the future' of my business. I've decided to try to make a (mostly) full-time go at it. I say mostly because, starting September, the kids will both be in full-time school but I intend to pick them up at 3ish instead of putting them in after-school care -- so that means I'll have, at most, a 6-hour work day.

But deciding to make a-go of it and actually doing it are two different things. And then suddenly, a whole lot of work fell onto my lap. And then a whole lot more. And then even more. And now, starting next month, I find myself in position of having about 25 hours a week of work from now until the end of the year -- four months ahead of schedule.

Great! Four months early is better than sitting on my butt doing nothing for the first four months of school. Except four months early means there isn't going to be enough hours in the day to work.

And so, starting July 1, I've hired childcare three days a week (May and June will be painful in terms of finding enough hours to work, sleep and be with the kids -- which means I'll likely cut out enough sleep and re-introduce movie afternoons several days a week.  But I really wanted this particular girl to do childcare and she's only available as of July 1).

I'm excited about these new work opportunities -- but it's a little bittersweet because in a way, I feel like I'm missing out my last few months with the kids. In Summer, when there's so many possibilities of things we can do together every day, I'll only get to spend Mondays and Fridays with the kids.

I know, I know, I'm lucky that I got all these years with them. So many parents I know don't get to be so lucky. I guess that as excited as I am by these new work opportunities, I'm a little sad to see this chapter -- the stay-at-home mom chapter -- of my life come to an end.

But hey, I hadn't exactly 'planned' on being a stay-at-home mom and that turned out pretty here's to exciting times in the next chapter!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A princess cake for my birthday princess

Last Tuesday was Alex's fourth birthday and we had her birthday party this afternoon. And since it was a princess party, and Alex loves everything to do with princesses, I made a Belle cake.

It was a lot easier to do than I thought it would be. First, I baked the cake in a Pampered Chef measuring bowl following these directions. Then, I coloured a whole lot of icing yellow and used an icing tip to pipe it onto the cake.

This was the best decision I made. It was super easy to put on and avoided the crummy mess you get from trying to slather the icing on top of chocolate cake.

Next, with a some help from Ryan, I added a little detailing to the skirt with a darker shade of yellow icing.

And finally, I added the piece which brought it all together -- the doll. But first she needed some clothes. So, using a glue gun and yellow ribbon from the dollar store I wrapped her in a dress. A little extra white ribbon, some beads from Alex's bead collection, the crown from her Belle Barbie and voilĂ ....Belle:

Most importantly, Alex was absolutely thrilled with her Belle cake.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A Great Aunt

I lost someone special to me this week. My Aunt Joan was 82 years old and last week she had a massive stroke. She died on Monday.

I want to tell you all a little bit about her. For starters, she wasn't technically my Aunt. She was my Great Aunt -- meaning she was my father's Aunt and my Grandmother's sister. She was 15 years younger than my Grandmother (my Grandma was the oldest of 6 and Aunt Joan was the youngest) and she was always Aunt Joan to me and my sisters (and to many, many, many others in the family). And in a way, for me, having Aunt Joan in my life was like having another grandmother.

To be honest, I don't remember much of her from when I was a child -- but that's to be expected. I was a child and, since I said she was 15 years younger than my Grandmother, when I was born, she was still busy being a mother.

It was only after my family moved to Ontario when I was 14 and she and Uncle Chris followed a few years later that I really got to know her. My family spent a lot of time with her and Uncle Chris and two of their three children who lived nearby with their children. We were all one big family.

And sometime during those years, I remember sitting with her at a family gathering and chatting about family genealogy -- about how exactly everyone at this family gathering was related to everyone else. There were first cousins and second cousins and first cousins once removed and aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews and grandmothers get the point. And she said to me "you all call me Aunt Joan but really, I'm Great Aunt Joan but that's because I'm a great aunt". (Can you see her face light up as she's saying that?)

Great as in extraordinary, magnificent, wonderful, awesome.

That sums up exactly who she was to me -- to us all. For me, especially as I got older and moved away, I was always happy when we were both at the same family gathering. She cared for everyone so deeply and was never afraid to show it. Her family included everyone -- no one, regardless of how distant a relative they were, was left out. When my sister published her first book, Aunt Joan proudly came to the launch party. When I got married, Aunt Joan danced the night away as if it was her own grandchild's wedding. When my other sister had her first baby after an extremely difficult pregnancy, Aunt Joan snuggled that little boy with such relief and gratitude.

There are countless other stories I could tell; as could everyone else in my extended family. Whether we were near or far, she cared for us all; remembered our birthdays and anniversaries, cherished every visit and listened enthusiastically when we told her what we were doing.

Goodbye Aunt Joan. You will forever be loved and forever be remembered. You truly were a great aunt.