Tuesday, September 07, 2010

My summer vacation

I think I took a blogging break there.
We kind of took a break from everything. Well, not work, but anything structured went out the window. My kids spent 2 months with no planned activities. Their days were centred around visits to the playground, eating popsicles, staying up late and watching tv.

Call me crazy, but when you're 2 and 6 that's how it should be.


Maybe if they'd wanted to go to a camp we would have looked into it, but anything I suggested to Matt was turned down.
No apologies here.
And Chloe ... she's 2.

She is driving us crazy, and I didn't particularly want to send her anywhere.


And, suddenly, September happened.
And we are back to schedules. And homework. And trying to remember to sign all the necessary forms and make sure Matt has all the stuff he needs for school.



He's ready.
I'm not.
But I don't have much say.


You just do it.
One of the highlights of this summer for me was watching my kids play with their cousins.


It's a 5-minute drive to my sister's place. In a way I take it for granted. But, not really.
We chose our house, and the fact it was so close to my sister played a role in that.
We have spent the summer having sleepovers, playdates, drop-by's you name it.
I don't think any of the parents think twice about disciplining the kids (i.e. "Matt. Stop.") nor do the kids really differentiate between us much of the time.
It's not unusual to find Matt playing lego in my sister's bedroom or Kyla watching Camp Rock in my living room.

I've loved watching my younger niece, Paige (5) hanging out with Matt (6). We had a sleepover the other night and I came upstairs to what I thought was 2 sleeping kids. Instead they were reading a book together, and laughing at the jokes.
It was late. I probably should have told them to go to sleep.
But instead I went back downstairs, and remembered that it's those moments that make summer special.
Maybe next year I'll put my kids in camp.
But this summer was just what they needed.
No pressure.
Lots of laughing.

And enjoying being kids.


So ... how was your summer?

Monday, August 02, 2010

A Weekend to Remember ....

I had a long to-do list for this long weekend.
There was laundry to be done. Bathrooms to be cleaned. A house to be tidied.
I did none of it.














Instead I started the weekend off with friends ...














Where we spent an evening laughing, chatting and having a couple drinks. (and cooking up a great plan) And of course watching Pretty Woman which really is one of the best movies. With funny lines. "Be still like vegetables. Lay like broccoli." Or "Big Mistake. BIG.HUGE"

Love it.















I also spent an amazing afternoon with one incredible niece. We got our nails done. We laughed. We chatted. We discussed our favourite episodes of Wizards of Waverly Place.
We spent Saturday evening at my parents' place. We were celebrating my sister's birthday. Matt decided to show us his amazing gymnastics skills on the trees. 
Chloe and Paige also enjoyed some cousin bonding time on the couch. Each with their own baby doll. Don't think for a second this was bedtime. No no. This was just a little break to give them enough energy to zip way past bedtime.

The other highlight of the weekend was taking the kids geocaching. I'll admit. I wasn't the biggest fan of it. Until I started watching everyone hunt around for the prize. And I couldn't resist climbing around a park downtown Oakville on my hands and knees, looking for treasure. That's my niece holding the treasure.
Awesome!

And then the was today. The bonus weekend day (ha ha. not to be confused with the Bonus Jonas).
We decided to go to the beach.
I'm not a big fan of going into Lake Ontario. But, even I got into the action.
No really. That's me waving. I KNOW! 
It was kind of a perfect lake day. I say that despite myself. 

Even Miss Chloe got into the action. In fact, I'd have to say that she may possibly have had the best time of all the kids. She loved hugging Kyla in the water and jumping into the waves. It was adorable to see. (and of course she was in a life jacket with adults hovering).


Life has been a little overwhelming lately. I'm tired. And I needed a break. Add in watching Julie and Julie, an amazing run, a 12 hour sleep on Friday night and a nap this afternoon ... and I'm feeling human again.

Life isn't perfect. But sometimes it's nice to take a break from it all and just watch your kids enjoy life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Running and Life or Something Like That

m not even going to explain the lack of posting. Blame it on summer, nothing and everything to write about and being busy. And life has just been a little much lately.

The one thing I've been doing more lately is running. not long distances but enough to clear my head, take a deep breath and not wallow in stress.

Last night I had an amazing run. It was a perfect night. I was exhausted and overwhelmed and for some bizarre reason, after putting chloe to bed I decided to put on my running stuff.

I had decided to do my shorter route. But oddly enough when I got to the turn I decided to extend it. My pace was good, nothing hurt. Why not.

When I was running I was thinking about the first time I entered a race. It was hard. It was a 5k but let's face it - for me 5k is a marathon. And the route goes uphill to start and then you turn and go downhill.

When I was running the uphill part I was struggling and I started to cry because I had worked hard to get here and I wasn't going to make it. I walked a minute then ran a minute and I was not happy. I felt like a failure.

The thing is just when I was really about to give into a good cry I passed by a group of people clapping. And it was so unexpected. And amazing. And I ran 2 more minutes. And there were more clappers. All they did was clap, shout and cheer me on. But it was what I needed. I RAN.

It seemed like every time I stopped I'd look up and there was someone screaming for me to keep going.

Often when I run it's not fun. Everything hurts. I run to escape stress. And there are a lot of nights I throw pace out the window and run everything off. I'm soaked with sweat and I know I can cry and the sweat masks it. I love that.

And sometimes I'm tired and wish those clapping people could pop out and start cheering me on. (The fact they'd probably scare the shit out of me is a little irrelevant)

But last night when I was running I kept thinking that sometimes we just have to do it alone.

You know the dumb thing about life is that sometimes I feel I'm so reliant on other people. Do I think I would have made it through that race without the clappers? Probably. I'm pretty sure that at some point I would have told myself to snap out of it and just finish. And that's what happened last night.

The truth is the clapping people probably couldn't have cared less if I made it through or not. There were lots of people to cheer on.

I'm kind of tired of basing who I am on what people tell me I should be. I'm kind of tired of needing people to push me on and cheer for me. And dare I say it - I'm a little tired of being needed so much.

Sometimes you have to give up and throw in the towel. We all wear masks of who we want to be. And the thing is often when I'm not faking it - that's when people think I am.

And maybe I'm talking around some stuff that's really bugging me. Partly because I don't want to post a bunch of personal stuff for the world to read. But when it comes down to it - there's a reason I love Julie Powell.  (You know Cleaving and Julie and Julia). It's because she comes to an amazing conclusion - sometimes life just is. And sometimes at the centre of it you aren't going to find the pot of gold.

You're going to find a whole lot of nothing.

My take? Sometimes knowing that is okay. And maybe, just maybe, a first race is a first race. And after that you're on your own, baby.

And that. Well I guess that's called growing up.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to be Mother of the Year (for Lettuce)

My friend is about to have a baby. I'm thrilled for her. And I think it just a little bit funny that she asks me for advice because I feel a little under qualified. But, still ... it makes my day. And I'm honest. So there's that.
So, in honour of my friend "Lettuce" having a baby I wanted to share some of my parenting advice. Or, more specifically some stuff I've learned over the last (OMG) 6 years.

  1. You're a better parent than you think. It's really easy to doubt yourself. But the truth is, no matter who you are, when they put the baby in your hands it's scary. But a lot of the stuff you do is by instinct.
  2. Some moms look at parenting as a competition. It's not. Some kids are good sleepers some aren't. Some babies nurse really well. Some don't. The list goes on. Nobody wins the parenting contest. I figure if you make it through the day without losing your mind you win.
  3. Be Selfish. Choose sleep over cleaning. Use soothers if you're baby will take one. Eat when you can. Accept offers of everything (holding the baby, a cooked meal, whatever)
  4. Play Dress Up with your Baby as long as you can. Let me explain. When Matt was a baby I was all about the cute little argyle sweaters and Osh Kosh overalls. That lasted till he was maybe 2 and discovered truck t-shirts. Chloe has been outfitted in head to toe pink and purple since birth. She's now rather demanding about what she wears (thankfully she loves princess dresses). The time you get to choose clothing doesn't last. Embrace it while you can.
  5. The first few months suck. It's great and everything to have a new baby. But you are sleep deprived, cranky and fight with your spouse. Just get through it. And know it gets better.
  6. Remember people care. I had a really rough first year with Matt. (It was far easier with Chloe). I couldn't have made it through without some people who were there for me. I had a friend who emailed me these incredible encouraging notes. I lived for those. My sister would literally just drive in and make me go for coffee. Sometimes you have to ask for help because people don't want to overstep.
  7. Finally, take pictures. Time really goes by quickly. Take lots of pictures.
Love ya, Lettuce! You will be an amazing mom!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tutus For Tanner

I don't exactly look like your typical runner. Nor do I look like a ballerina.
So, wearing running clothes with a tutu on top can best be described as a fashion don't.
But, fashion dilemma or not, on Thursday evening I ran in a 5k race. It wasn't my first one.
But, here's the thing ... this one was special.
I read about Tutus for Tanner awhile ago, before I'd signed up for this race, compiled a team of colleagues, or thought about what they may say about wearing tutus.
I knew I'd run this race in a tutu.
For Tanner. For Catherine. For myself.
The amazing thing is, when we got closer to the date and the team had been recruited, when I floated the idea of wearing tutus the buy-in was amazing. Not because of me, but because everyone read Tanner's story.
The first person to say yes, more like "hell yeah" was a friend of mine who made up his mind to run this race a year ago. Over the past year he lost 75 pounds and started running. 
And, when I told him the purpose behind this he embraced it.
And convinced the men on our team to run in tutus also. Because they could. And because as a team we could show we care.
Before I ran I knew I would write about it. Here, of course, on my blog. But I also had to explain over our company intranet why this team of people was running in a tutu.
A week before the event I wrote about it. And people loved the idea.
But the day of the event changed a few things for me.
On my daily GO Train commute, the train I was riding on hit a jumper. It's easy to joke about jumpers when you've never felt the impact as you're sitting on a train, seen the covered body, the mangled belongings, the bloody train.
But that's what I saw the morning of the run.
And it changed my perspective drastically.
As I sat with a friend (who thankfully was on my train) we were calculating the thousands of people who were delayed by this incident.
And I said to her, "imagine if just one tenth of the people affected by this, those of us who are saddened by this, had somehow shown that we care?"
She's used to me. She made me feel better by saying there was no way we could have known this person or changed the situation.

But, I realized that this is what Tutus for Tanner is all about.
Catherine has told us all that he is dying.
I can't change that. I don't have millions of dollars to put into research, nor do I have some genius scientific formula to cure what he has.
But, I can run in his honour.
I can't fix things.
But I can show him that I care. And that there's a bunch of people who are willing to stand out in a crowd to show that he's worth acknowledging.
Don't get me wrong.
I believe in magic. I believe in prayers. Most of all I believe in hope.
And I believe that, if nothing else, we can hope that no matter what happens in Tanners life, he knows that there are a lot of people out there that care and are thinking of him.
I am. And I was proud to wear a tutu to show that.
The amazing thing about this was my team. When I was overwhelmed by the amount of tutu making (seriously, 100 yards of tulle is a little scary) I sent an e-mail to a bunch of friends, including non-runners, and 12 people gave up a lunch hour to tie tulle to ribbon. Just because they cared.
So, the entire team didn't wear tutus. The people who were running for time (one of teammates came in third place!) decided not to. But, they asked for something to show they were part of the team. So, everyone wore signs to say what this is all about.
So, 5km per person and 11 people wearing tutus equals 55km in honour of Tanner. (and 4 people showing support).
It's not huge. But it matters.
And, it was one of the most amazing experiences ever.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

School

The end of the school year is close, and as usual I'm stressing about teacher gifts.
And honestly, I'm kind of just stressing about the end of kindergarten in general.
Matt will be done senior kindergarten this month.
I am honestly wondering where the time went. I'm also wondering how the heck I'm supposed to get some sort of teacher gift to thank the teacher that has done so much in Matt's life.
Two year's ago I met Matt's teacher, Miss K. I knew from the minute I met her that she was the perfect fit for Matt, and our family.
I was at a meet the teacher night. Chloe was really little (3 months, maybe) and Matt was 4. He was just out of daycare and at home full time with me. And everything was a challenge for him. His behaviour was out of control and I was terrified at the prospect of him going into school.
So I stuck around to talk to his teacher after we'd been told the classrooms, etc.
In about 5 minutes she made me feel at ease. And she said to me "I will work with you to make this work for Matthew."
And for the past 2 years she has done that.
I've seen Matt grow in so many ways.
This amazing teacher has not just taught Matt, she has loved him. He talks about her constantly. I know the other children, and parents, love her too.
I know that this is the best possible introduction to school my child, and I, could have ever asked for.
And now those 2 years are over.
And it seems like buying a gift card and a thank you note aren't enough.
I'm not sure what would be.
I'm not suggesting a million dollar gift. I just want something meaningful, something that says how much she means to us.
I was talking to Matt about it last night. He suggested that we either buy her a car or a zhu zhu pet.
Both good ideas.
But, I'm thinking they may not be quite what I'm looking for.
Any ideas?
Cuz I have nothing.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Maple Leaf Roundtable and a CONTEST!


For a long time I’ve been fascinated by the phrase “a perfect storm”.
I hear it a lot when things are described in the financial world, but I realized that it holds true anywhere.
The connotation of the phrase is worst case scenario. To define it even better, a perfect storm is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically.
August 2008.
Twenty-two Canadians died after eating food contaminated by Listeria.
That, my friends, was the perfect storm. A company that had good safety standards with a major crisis on their hands.
My family wasn’t directly affected. I was at home on maternity leave with a 4 month old and a 4 year old. I’d sworn off a lot of meat, deli meat especially, in pregnancy. And, since I was pretty sure that my son had ADHD, our entire family was on a diet that eliminated pretty much everything in an effort to try to control the symptoms. Nitrates were evil. (as was sugar, artificial colours, chocolate, juice … fun times in our home!)
I watched the news unfold with a sense of horror, and admittedly a little bit of elitism
“Not me.”
“Not in my house.”
“We don’t eat anything processed. My family would never get that.”
That was a year and a half ago.
If you look in my fridge now you may be surprised.
The nitrate-free organic items have been replaced by, you guessed it. Hot dogs. My kids beg for mac and cheese (and get it) and my fibre laced cookies have been replaced by whatever happens to be on sale this week at the grocery store. We eat a lot of processed meat because it’s easy.
And suddenly it hits me.
I was living in a bubble. I was lucky that we weren’t affected by this outbreak. I was lucky that this was a year and a half ago. Not today.
I’m back at work. I have a nanny at my house. My husband and I fight over who has to cook dinner. I throw stuff in my kid’s lunch and grab something on the way out the door for me.
And while I’ve been in a tailspin called life, the company responsible for the outbreaks has been working hard to ensure that we can trust them again. And know that they will stand behind their products.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend an event held by Maple Leaf Foods with other parent bloggers.
 Michael McCain, the CEO of the corporation spoke to us. You’ve probably seen him on commercials.
He was there to speak to us about food safety. And to talk about what happened in August of 2008. He said something that shocked me, “We killed 22 people.”
He took the responsibility, and placed it directly on his shoulders.
I was impressed.
It’s not easy to admit a mistake. It’s even harder to wear that mistake means you were responsible for the death of 22 people.
The other thing that I respected was that they are now working to educate people about food safety.  And believe me I was inspired to clean out my kitchen after learning about various food hazards.
One other thing they introduced to us was the Maple Leaf Food Safety Pledge. In this pledge they state their commitment to food safety. It’s something that they take seriously. And, if they are willing to take it seriously I’m willing to buy their products.
And just so I can feel a little less guilt about serving my kids processed meats, they now make Natural Selections products that are healthier. And, according to my six year old, yummy!
While we were at the roundtable event we had a chance to eat dinner and enjoy their products. And take some home to enjoy at home.

CONTEST
And, there’s a chance for you to win some Maple Leaf Products as well. The gift bag, which is actually a thermal grocery bag, includes a Maple Leaf Apron, a meat thermometer, pen and coupons for approximately $20.00 of Maple Leaf Products!
How to enter:
1. Leave a comment here. Please tell me what is important about food safety to you. (please use a valid e-mail address)
Bonus Entry:
2. Follow me on Twitter @Lauraldawn or tell me that you already do.
Contest is open to residents of Canada and closes on Thursday June 10.

I was invited by MatchStick Inc in conjunction with Maple Leaf Foods to attend the Round Table event. I had dinner at the event and received a gift bag that included $20 in gas cards, some Maple Leaf products and coupons. However, this did not influence what I wrote in this post.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Let's Talk Meat

I've made no secret of my love of meat.
Afterall, I'm the crazy person who travelled 2 hours each way by bus to check out a butcher shop outside of NY. (fascinating, I tell you)
So, when I was invited to an event that combined my love of meat and the blogging world ... I was hooked.
Not too long ago I heard about an event with Maple Leaf foods where they are talking to bloggers about food safety. Remember the listeria outbreak of a couple years ago? Me too.
So, I will be attending a Round Table discussion with some executives where I will have the opportunity to ask questions about their food and how it's made.
I'm actually pretty excited about this because really, we live really close to one of their meat processing plants, and I've always wanted to learn a little more.
And, here's where you come in. Do you have any questions about Maple Leaf Foods? If you do ... leave them in the comments section. I'll be sure to ask.
As for me ... I have a bunch of questions. And perhaps for homework tonight I'll re-read Cleaving.
Check back and see what I have to say ... about MEAT!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Long Weekend

I'm not always the biggest fan of long weekends.
There I said it.
I know I'm not alone in this. Whether you're a working mom who enjoys the comfort of a quiet cup of coffee at your desk or a stay-at-home mom who enjoys the comfort of a routine, long weekends can throw everyone for a loop.
Kids included.
But this weekend was a little different.
Perhaps it was the perspective brought by seeing one of my favourite people in the whole world at the end of the day Friday. Or celebrating my birthday after post-haircut drinks. Or maybe it was the fact that I slept in on Saturday, had a relaxing birthday dinner with my family in the evening. Or maybe it was the family trip to Buffalo on Sunday. Or maybe it was Monday where I was up before everyone today and enjoyed coffee and tv while I woke up on my own terms. Or maybe it was watching Shrek at the movies while sharing popcorn with Matt.
Or maybe it was the fact that Mike and I made it through the whole weekend without arguing.
Whatever it was, or maybe it was all of it. But, this was the best long weekend I've had in a long time.
The truth is, life has been stressful lately.
Ridiculously so.
And I needed a break from it all.
And finally I had one.
Even though break wasn't exactly defined by relaxing. It was still fun.
The other day I was talking to my friend about kids. Specifically mine. And how it's so bizarre to see the different relationship I have with my kids. With Chloe, because she's 2, it's hard. I don't really get to chill with her and enjoy much fun stuff. Like, with Matt, we got to the movies early and we munched popcorn and chatted. And I loved it. But he's 6. Six year olds can hold conversations. I'm not at that point with Chloe.
But, I'm seeing stuff in the works. On Saturday we were at Walden Galleria and I took her to Sephora. It was exciting to see her at the makeup mecca. She's incredibly girly and it was absolutely adorable to see her running around the store dancing to the music and saying "makeup! makeup!" She was charming the staff, and when one of the girls asked if she could put some sparkles on Chloe's cheeks Chloe turned to her and said "Chloe's a princess" and proceeded to point out her new sparkly shoes.
And that's my girl.
I know parenting isn't all about the sparkles and makeup and bonding over movies, but there's something pretty amazing about finding out that you actually enjoy spending time with your kids. Cuz, really, I can't imagine going through life not liking them.
And I realized a few things this weekend. I realized that as confusing as life is sometimes, at the end of the day I need to trust my instincts. I need to remember that even though I don't know what's down the road that there's always something to look forward to - even if I don't know what that is.
And tonight ... well, let's be honest. The something I'm looking forward to is the Bachelorette.
Bring on the summer. I'm ready.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sometimes...

You know sometimes you want to do something.
And you think it over. And you wrestle with a decision until your small idea becomes huge? And then you second guess yourself? It's too huge. The answer will be no. I'm not worth it.
Sometimes I do that.
And that's where your friends come in. They tell you to just do it.
Or, as my one friend pointed out, the phrase "I'm not worth it" is quite possibly the dumbest thing that's ever come out of my mouth.
(unrelated conversation. but still)
To put your idea out there, and ask.
And I did that. One e-mail. One question. And a bit of a leap of faith.
Because sometimes if you really really want something and you have nothing to lose the best choice is just to ask. Because sometimes hearing the word no won't be the end of your life.
But hearing the word yes? That's a game changer. And that yes makes you believe that you are worth it. And it makes you believe that your story, your hopes, your dreams and even your mistakes are your story. And your story is pretty incredible - flaws and all.
Sometimes taking the chance is worth it.
Sometimes somebody will say yes. And that yes means more than you could ever explain or even understand.
And that yes is more than just a yes. It's a yes with a side of awesomeness.
I'm being a little cryptic because it's fun :)
And also because thanks to the power of google, it's amazing how when you post about someone specific you get lots and lots of people weighing in on your life.
Suffice it to say if you've been reading me since about January you can probably figure out what would make me as excited as I am today.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

So ... It's been awhile

I haven't posted in awhile.
Sometimes life gets a little bit in the way of blogging.
And even though a blog is about your life, sometimes there are things that you just need to not put out there for everyone to read.
I've had lots to think about lately.
Direction.
Friendship.
Love.
Sincerity.
I know I don't have all the answers. I do know that in life everything will be okay.
We learn, we grow and life keeps going. High points, low points, blah blah blah.
But next week is my birthday. And I LOVE birthdays.

As for everything else going on ...

Matt has his assessment for enrichment today. We have already established he's a very bright child. In order to be in the enrichment program he has to be in the 98th percentile for 6 year old boys. He just turned 6. The number is very high. There's nothing we could do to prepare him for this so we just have to trust that if this is meant to be it will be. I truly believe that he's capable of doing the program, but I have no idea what his score will be. I'm trying not to worry about it. I'm just so proud that he's being considered. Also, he wants to be an actor. Fun.

Chloe. So help me she's in the terrible twos. The word "NO!" is uttered a lot. But, I'm also loving this age. Adorable. Funny. And her hair is growing so between our nanny and I we have a lot of fun with her hair. I'm sure one day she'll want to cut it so why not enjoy it while I can.

Also ...

I have a friend with an amazing blog. I love her because she's an amazing person. I also love what she can do with her craft. She's having a contest on her site. So go check it out. Because really ... I can't imagine how she does what she does.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Proud

I don't talk about this often here.
Matt has ADHD.
It's been a long road for us with assessments and school challenges. We have been lucky. After a little over a year we have assembled a great team. Our school is amazing. Matt's teacher is phenomenal. The Resource team amazes me. Our psychologist and psychiatrist and family doctor have all been amazing. And every day I am grateful for them.
And Matt.
Who makes all the challenges worth it.
When you're dealing with ADHD there's a couple of things you dread - phone calls from the school and the millions of forms to fill out.
And then Wednesday I got a call. From the school resource teacher.
But, the call was amazing.
"I wanted to run an idea by you. For Matt. We want to consider him for some testing. For the gifted program."
That's right.
Gifted.
Just thinking about this makes me cry.
We struggle with choices. I second guess decisions. Should be be in public school? Should I switch him to French Immersion? Am I pushing enough.
The team is amazing.
But my kid ... he rocks.
So, the forms I filled in last night asked different questions. They weren't about whether my son was fidgety or loud or had tendencies to misbehave.
Instead the questions were about his intelligence. Does he constantly ask questions? Is he curious? Does he get excited about new ideas and concepts?
Yes to all of the above.
Nothing is confirmed yet.
The program they are looking at is new.
But, for me it's about more than that. It's about knowing that people are seeing in Matt what we've seen all along. We have an incredible amazing child with so much potential.
And that ADHD. It's a challenge, but one we can overcome.
This isn't about me and my choices. It's about Matt. And how my kid refuses to be any less than all he can be.
I love that kid!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Joy!


Remember the joy of losing your first tooth?
This is one of my favourite pictures of my baby boy.
My baby boy who turns 6 tomorrow.
Life doesn't always make sense. 
But this? This does. This child brings me more joy than I could have ever imagined.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two Years Old

Princess Chloe is two!
I know, everyone asks where the time went.
Me, not so much. I've enjoyed the last two years. But they've been long. And exhausting.
But, I like 2.
I like that Chloe is finally falling asleep pretty well.
 In the past few months she has graduated to sleeping in her crib - till about 4am.
I also like that she seems completely fearless.
 This may look like just a chair to you, but to Chloe it is a "scary jump" that she decided she'd conquer. And when she conquered it ... she laughed. And wanted to do it again and again.


 
Her personality. Wow. She's feisty. I like feisty. She will need it with a big brother like Matt.
And she's funny. Nothing cracks her up more than sitting in the car holding a boot in front of her face and "hiding" - a trick her big brother taught her.
And, she's a princess.
Well, let me clarify. She's not your quiet gentle princess type. But, she's loves a fancy dress and shoes. She's more Buffy than Cinderella.
And, speaking of Buffy, Chloe loves her monsters.
At her birthday she was far more excited to help me pop balloons than she was to play with them when they were blown up.
And whenever she heard a balloon pop she'd yell "Monster". (maybe we should re-think letting her watch all the Buffy)
Ahhhh ... Chloe. Coco. Coco Puff. Cookie girl.
I love how much she loves chocolate and candy.
I love that her first word was Matt. Then Chocolate. I love that she's growing up to be a girl who can kick some ass, but who can turn around and disarm you with a smile.
Life with Chloe will always be crazy. And fun. And exhausting.
I wouldn't wish it any other way for the baby girl who I desperately wanted and whom I love with all my heart.
Happy Birthday, Big Girl!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guilt

Today is my daughter's 2nd birthday.
I know I will follow up soon with a post of her happy and smiling, with Dora everything in the background.
But right now ... not so much.
Sometimes the guilt of everything eats away at me.
For some reason birthdays are hard for me. Birthdays, when you're a working mom, they kind of suck.
I don't regret that I work. I enjoy it.
But ... and here's a big but... somedays I feel incredibly guilty.
In 2 hours we're celebrating Chloe's birthday with my family. And, I'm so behind. My plans of making a fun family dinner have evolved into a pizza party.
I wrapped her presents today, and bought one of the presents yesterday. The decorations are hung, and are kind of pathetic.
And my heart isn't in it.
I just feel like I'm not quite good enough at this stuff. I do everything last minute. I'm not the mom who thinks for months about the perfect cake. Or a great party. I tried. I really did. And the cake is fine. I had her and Matt and my nieces help me. And I know she won't remember that I didn't get a Dora cake pan. Or learn how to use the special cake decorating method to do the cake.
But I will.
And, in 2 weeks it's Matt's birthday party. And I haven't really done much for that either. I haven't thought about about loot bags. I only have a couple of rsvp's. And the cake will be simple. My biggest decision was whether the cake should be vanilla or chocolate. It's great that it was that easy.
But maybe that's the problem. It was too easy.
And I guess I just don't feel good enough these days.
It's tough to divide my time.
And it's hard to come home when I'm exhausted and throw myself into playing with my kids, reading bedtime stories and enjoy singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 57 times until Chloe finally falls asleep.
Honestly, I don't think being a stay at home mom would be better.
I watch my sister. I watch my friends who stay home. And I don't want that for me. They are the super moms that I wish I could be and I know I wouldn't be. And I don't think it would benefit my kids.
At least when I'm at work people cannot guage whether I'm a good mom or not.
I like to think I'm a fun mom. But, lately ... it's hard.
I feel like the fun stuff is all pretend lately.
The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who is expecting. And we were kind of talking about the good and the bad. And there is so much good. So much. But then there is the bad. The guilt. The questioning of whether I'm good enough, if I'm doing the right stuff for my children. If they are happy enough.
I know they are happy.
But right now ... I'm not so sure I am.
So I guess we just keep going. get through this. Suck it up and know that really this is all part of being a mom. But, somedays. Like today. I wish I was better. At all of it.
Who knows.
Maybe one day I will be.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Creating

The other day I was looking for a card for a friend and I came across a magnet with a really cool saying:

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

Okay. So sure it's just a magnet from the bookstore. But, it's phrases like that that make me think stop and ponder life for just a minute.

It's funny because so often I try to figure out who I am. Or what I'm doing. Or why I'm doing something. I've read so often on blogs that people are trying to reinvent, or make themselves better or, yep, find themselves.

But, I like this. I like knowing that at the end of the day there's nothing to search for - it's up to you to decide and create and invent.

Something that people often say about me is that I'm fearless. Surely that isn't true about everything in my life. Fear can be crippling. But dare me to do something, to try something, to prove myself and I'm your girl. And, sometimes I figure, why not keep trying. Why not go day by day and conquer my fears? Hey, as Julie Powell would say "What could happen?"

Monday, March 22, 2010

You'll Have to Forgive Our Slayer Fest ...

You know sometimes you read a book and then you *have* to do something. Like, perhaps go on a trip to New York? Or maybe search out Ashrams in India or I don't know but you have to do something?
Please say you do.
Or maybe it's just me.
Whatever.
The point is, when I finish a really good book I rarely just sit and stew. I go and I do. And sometimes I do crazy stuff. Like start this blog. (really - that was after reading Knocked Up!) Or try a yoga class (Stuck in Downward Dog). I've tried different drinks (coffee or otherwise). Why not.
So, of course I went on my NY road trip after reading Cleaving.
I also decided to watch Buffy.
And, this weekend was Slayerfest 2010.
And if you got that reference you clearly are somewhat of a Buffy Fan.
Mike and I watched 22 episodes in 3 days. #AwesomeParenting FTW!
Really. We did.
I'd be lying if I said it was only at night. We watched all day. During naps. While the kids were playing. Matt had no interest in watching a show with vampires. But, he was more than happy to have the computer all to himself for most of the weekend. And Chloe loved dancing to the music. And shouting "MONSTER" every time I jumped.
And I am fully obsessed with the show.
It is wonderful and thrilling and hilarious to get sucked into a new show and know that you have hours of commercialess tv ahead of you. Full of Buffy goodness.
And the lines.
OMFG the LINES!!!!
They are wonderful.
Like this one from Angel.

"Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are. You'll see what I mean."
 

I think I have Buffy fever. It's a little shameful. But so good.

In case you're wondering ... I love Spike. I love Drucilla. Of course I'm a little in love with Giles. Buffy or Faith? Ummmmm ... haven't decided. And Angel kind of annoys me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Mischevious Mom at the Art Gallery : A Review and an Interview with the Author

When I decided to switch direction on my blog, and focus more on what I'm interested in - namely reading, and learning more about authors, I knew exactly the person I wanted to ask.
The thing is, when you have a favourite author it's amazing. What's even more amazing is when you e-mail that author and ask if you can interview her, and she says yes.
Of course my favourite author is Rebecca Eckler. I've been reading her since she was a columnist. When I read her book Knocked Up, I pretty much decided she was the coolest person on the face of the earth. What I didn't know is that she's also probably one of the nicest people you can meet.
I've read all of her books: Knocked Up, Wiped, Toddlers Gone Wild and Rotten Apple. I enjoyed all of them, and when she teamed up with Erica Ehm to write a children's book I was excited.
I could finally introduce my kids to her work.
Guess what? They loved the book, like I knew they would.

You can purchase her book now on Amazon. I bought mine at Chapters. Go get it. It's amazing!

The Mischievous Mom at the Art Gallery

The book is about a mother, Mischevious Mom, who comes home from work, puts her blackberry away, and takes her kids on an adventure. In this case she brings them to an art gallery. The kids think it will be boring until their mom brings them into a room with a sign on the door that says "Do Not Enter - VIP's only!" And from there they have quite a night.
It's a fun book. It's quick to read, and the pictures are amazing.
What I loved about this book: I could relate. I felt like it was written for me, a mom who works all day and then comes home and tends to mix it up a bit.
My favourite part of the book: I loved the story of course, but I also loved the dedication.

"This book is dedicated to all the parents who worry that they never have enough time to have fun with their kids ... We believe the best gift you can give to your kids is a love of adventure and a belief that anything is possible - if you have the guts to go for it."

If that's not the message I want to send to my kids, I don't know what is.

Interview with Rebecca Eckler

I had the chance to ask Rebecca a few questions about the book, and about her writing career.

You've now written books from several genres: Young Adult Fiction, Memoir and now Children's literature. Which was your favourite to write, and will you continue to write all three kinds of books?

My favorite book to write was The Mischievous Mom At the Gallery, our children's picture book. Why? Because it was just plain fun, from beginning to end! Writing it with Erica was fun, showing it to my daughter in the early stages was fun, editing each word with Erica was fun, choosing the illustrator was fun. Non-Fiction, my mommy memoirs, was a little less fun, but still fun. Because it was about my life, and then about my daughter, so I liked writing them, because some moments were funny in the book. I also liked them because, in Wiped! Life with a Pint Size Dictator, I really think I helped a lot of people suffering from PPD, which is rarely talked about. Same with Knocked Up. People rarely complain about how shall-we-say? uncomfortable it is to be pregnant, and how terrifying it is? So, the mommy memoirs, I liked because I felt like I was writing to other mothers, who could relate and learn they are not alone. As for the teen fiction and the upcoming adult fiction, well, that was HARD WORK. No matter how light and breezy the book may comes across, writing fiction is hard! That's why I admire any other who publishes a book. It's hard work, even chick lit is hard. Way harder than you'd think.


You've written memoirs about your life as a mom - from learning about being a mom and pregnancy in Knocked Up, to parenting challenges in Toddlers Gone Wild. Now in The Mischievous Mom at the Art Gallery, even though the mom is a fictional character ... she seems a little like you. (and Erica Ehm, and me, and a lot of your readers who are mothers). When you look at back at the past six or seven years, do you think your books reflect how you've grown as person - and a mom?

Definitely. Because I am not the mother of a baby, or toddler anymore. I'm now the mother of a little girl who understands emotions and talks and reads. Both Erica and I are the Mischievous Moms. Our children (don't hate us) are really, really well behaved. So they only make us look mischievous in comparison. I've grown up, definitely, but I also like acting like a child sometimes, with my daughter, because it's a magical moment and, maybe she won't want to hang with me in a few years. I think that's probably inevitable...so I want to enjoy every minute of this time in her life, which includes writing this book for her and her peers.

For those of us who have followed you since you were a columnist - we know you and love you as a bit of a shit disturber - and I mean that in the nicest way. Is that changing ... or do you still have some stuff up your sleeve?

Shit Disturber? Really? Joking. I am so NOT a shit disturber. We're talking A student! I work really hard. I prefer to think of what I do as starting conversations! You may not like what I have to say, or maybe you do, but it's good to get any sort of conversation going, don't you think?

Working alone - or writing with someone else. Which do you prefer ... and why?

Well, for my books for adults and teens, I prefer to write alone. I have very distinct writing style.  But I would, and will, write more children's books with Erica. We have the same work ethic. She's amazing to work with. Never say never though. If I could find someone like Erica, who was so easy to work with, maybe.

What's next?

Fiction book out in fall, called Clover and The Lucky Sperm Club. Kind of chik-lit, but better. Next up, a non-fiction book, but I can't divulge that right now. We're in the middle of contracts. And I'll start writing that in April. But you'll be one of the first to know, that's for sure! Also, the second part of the teen series is coming out soon. Right now, it's all about getting the word out about The Mischievous Mom Goes to the Art Gallery! And, praying, that people will buy it!


And completely unrelated to your newest book, but questions people really want to know

    * What is your favourite book or who is your favourite author?
    * Buffy the Vampire Slayer - love it, hate it or never watched it?
    * Current favourite tv show

Favorite book?  Lord of the Flies and The Romantic by Barbara Gowdy. (Also, all Margaret Atwood books.)

Buffy? Never watched. However, I do LOVE Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Favorite TV show at present? American Idol, anything on Slice, and pretty much bad reality shows (and any shows that go into diseases/siamese twins/obesity/19 children. I also have a sick fascination watching 16 and pregnant! BUT I CANNOT WATCH TODDLERS AND TIARAS! And I cannot wait for Dexter to come back!

Thanks, Rebecca!
As I said ... Coolest person ever! Go get the book. You'll love it. And more importantly, your kids will too.

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I'd love your thoughts and comments. This is new to me, but it was really fun! I want to do more reviews and interviews, so if you have any ideas or suggestions - let me know.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish

I'm Irish.
Well, obviously first and foremost I'm Canadian, but part of me is Irish.
My grandmother was Irish. She never actually visited Ireland, and if we're being totally honest, I don't even know what percentage of her blood was Irish, but with shocking red hair, and a firey temper, the woman could claim that heritage one hundred percent.
My grandmother, Nana, died several years ago. She wasn't exactly a warm and cuddly person. I have good memories of her, funny memories of her. And honestly, she wasn't always the nicest woman. She said whatever was on her mind, and that could include stuff like telling me I was too fat (when I was 7) and that I wasn't Irish enough because I had dark hair (compared to my sister with red hair). There was even a period where I refused to go visit her because she was a little too harsh about my hair, clothing and body shape. (I was 13) I suppose I could dwell on that. But, on St.Patrick's Day I don't think about that.  Not really.
I remember the one holiday that made her really happy - St. Patrick's Day.
The woman loved her Shamrocks. There was nothing like going to her house in March and seeing all of the leprachauns, pots of gold and shamrock's decorating the small apartment she shared with my grandad. She always wore a Shamrock ring, and believed in the Luck of the Irish.
Kooky yes.
And maybe I have that side of her personality.
The side that's not afraid to celebrate and be a little crazy. The funny thing is, time heals a lot of stuff. And it makes you look back at stuff in a whole new light. And on St.Patrick's Day I love to look back and appreciate my grandmother, and all the crazy kooky stuff she passed down.
So, tonight I'll raise a glass. To being Irish. To being her grandaughter. And to remembering the good memories we all pass down.
Happy St Pat's everyone.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Not to Sound Cryptic

Sometimes I need to get over myself.
I need to get out of my head and realize that just because I don't agree with the opinion of someone else, it doesn't mean I don't like that person.
Or that they don't have something to bring to the table.
Last week I asked someone a question. My question was sincere. But, I wanted to know how 2 people could have such a completely different outlook on one particular issue.
My question - it was answered honestly, and more importantly, sincerely. And even though we will most likely never agree on the topic in question, I can say that I've learned something.
I've learned that discussion has merit. And I've discovered that you can disagree on one huge issue and still respect the opinion of someone else.
Cryptic much?
Probably.
Care to weigh in on a discussion?
I'm fascinated by this story.

PS I changed the look of my blog. It's not great - but that's what happens when I play around and delete my template. Oh well ... I guess it's time for a change anyway.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Le Boeuf - or Why I Leave Cooking to Julie (and Julia)

 (not mine - but let's pretend it is!)

You know when people say that the Oscars is their Super Bowl? That's kind of me.
It's nothing compared to the Olympics, but I enjoy the fashions, and usually the show is pretty good. This year not so much. It was a bit boring. But, I was determined to make it to the end of the show, mostly because my favourite movie (duh) Julie and Julia was in the running for the best actress category for Meryl Streep.
Confession: I never was the world's biggest Meryl Streep fan. But, I loved her as Julia Child. And, I REALLY wanted Julie and Julia to win - for obvious reasons.
I decided an Oscars party was in order, and there's nothing I love quite as much as a theme party. I really loved that I could make something from Julie and Julia (or really Mastering the Art of French Cooking). So, with a nod to Julie and to Julia I decided on the most obvious choice for the movie - boeuf bourgignon. And, of course the requisite gimlet.
If you've seen Julie and Julia you know the scene that features that meal. Judith Jones (Julia Child's editor) was supposed to visit Julie Powell. So, she makes Boeuf Bourgignon and then burns it. Then takes the next day off of work to make it for a second time. And then Judith Jones can't come because the weather is bad.
It's a big part of the movie.
And quite honestly, one of the only things I really had the inspiration to try cooking. Julie Powell I am not. I don't even own Mastering the Art of French Cooking (does that make me less of a fan?). I suppose I could have tried something a little more daring, like eggs in aspic, but GROSS! (that would be eggs in gelatin - I googled the picture for you)
But, the boeuf ... I wanted to try it.
I should also point out that since the kids were part of the party, I went with the decidely un-French pillsbury weiner wraps. A time-tested favourite in our house.
I combined that with some salad (from my mom), a chicken dish for my sister, and a little junk food since it's a party.
Let me tell you. I now know why Julie had so many kitchen disasters. This was not an easy recipe. I knew that going in though.
My cooking confidence - not exactly there.
I had Mike helping me and two children running around the kitchen. I was googling how to saute mushrooms the Julia way, and how to brown braise pearl onions. It was a disaster coming. And I knew it. But I persisted.
I was actually doing pretty well. I had browned the meat and measured the wine.
Disaster struck with my attempt to simmer the whole thing. It seemed really quite easy at that point. Just dump in a bottle of wine, and sit it on the stove. However ... apparently the container I made it all was not made for the stove. Who knew?
Not me. (or Mike)
Admittedly, the only pot that seemed adequate for the job was the pot from my slow cooker.
I thought something was a little bit off when the pot made a funny noise. And then CRACK. It just sort of dissolved into a giant pottery mess. A giant wine-pottery-beef mess.  The stove was covered in wine. I was kind of covered in meat and wine, and I had no idea really what to do.
Normally this would invoke panic or at least some sort of meltdown.
But ... my panic was replaced by my excitement over the fact that this was also the recipe Julie screwed up.
Crisis averted.
Recipe re-started.
Several hours later my boeuf bourgignon was done. Just in time for the Oscars. It was brilliant. Well, except for the fact that Meryl Streep didn't win.
And the consensus?
Surprisingly everyone liked it. Well, the adults anyway. The weiner wraps ... also a big hit.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Amazing Women

So as it turns out, Saturday was International Women's Day.
I didn't give it much thought at the time (admittedly, I didn't even know until I walked past an upscale lingerie store that had signs declaring the right thing to do for International Women's Day was to get a good bra fitting. Really?)
Ironically, I ended up spending Saturday with 3 different women: one I've known my whole life, one I met in highschool, and one I met just recently. All so different. Yet all who play such a big role.
My sister spent the day with me. I've been trying to reorganize my house. It's a disaster. And, as we went through my closets and drawers I realized that this is someone I can trust with anything. As I whined my way through Ikea and home depot and practically threw a temper tantrum as she made me sort through every piece of clothing I owned, I knew she could take it. And, unconditional love and acceptance is a wonderful gift.
I also had the chance to have coffee with a woman I've long considered a mentor. I met her when I was in highschool. Unhappy with the co-op placement I had (at a crappy newspaper) I begged my teacher to let me switch to a different placement. I found this woman from the yellow pages, called and asked if she would be interested in letting me learn from her. That was 15 years ago, and I still am learning from her. Not all the lessons are about work. In fact, I'd say that a lot of what I've learned from her is by watching her raise incredible daughters who are taking on the world. I can only hope that my children one day emulate them. And I can only hope that one day I can inspire someone the way she has inspired me.
Finally, I spent the evening having a drink with a new friend. She's younger than me. Her kids are younger than mine. And our friendship is still new. We don't have that comfort of old friends, and yet we connect on many levels - and sometimes the beginnings of friendships are really fun. The craziest part of it all is that she's a little younger and her kids are a little younger, and she asks me for advice - about schools and parenting and going back to work. Me. The person who can look back at my first year of being a mom and thinking I would never survive. And she's asking me for advice. I can't get over it.
And that to me is International Women's Day. It's not about whether you can relate to the feminist movement (I often can't) It's not about what you do. Or how well you do it. Or how many kids you have (if you have any).
To me it's about giving what you can - and taking what you need.
And if International Women's Day makes me appreciate the women in my life ... I'm all for it.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

And Away We Go ...

I'm not sure that making decisions based on a quote calendar given to me by my local pub is the best idea. But when the quote happens to be: "Only those who will risk going to far can possibly find out how far one can go" (T.S. Eliot) - well ... I'll take it.
Pub calendar or not.
When I think about risks I think about courage.
I've always been fascinated by courage.
Do you want a definition of courage? "It is a quality of spirit that enables you to face fear."
I love that.
(and side note - my favourite thing to do when writing is either a) look up definitions of words or b) find relevant quotes - ever noticed this?)
The other day someone called me fearless. I don't think that's quite right. But courageous is a title I can embrace or at least aspire to.
When it comes to this blog I need to take courage.
I've been talking a lot about making some changes.
And here's where I'm at.
Mommyblogging - done.
I love my kids, and I'm sure I will still write about them. But, this need I feel to document their lives is not so necessary. I just want to be present with them and not worry about if that's bloggable.
Next step. Figure out what I love. Or, as Gretchen Rubin would tell me: Be Laural. Know what I love and focus on that.
Guess what I love?
Writing. More specifically, reading what other people write. And then meeting the authors. I have so much respect and love for authors. I can't imagine ever sitting and writing my own book. But, there's nothing better to me than being completely immersed in a novel, the sense of satisfaction when I'm done reading the book. And then googling the author. Meeting the author is the icing on the cake.
Two of the highlights of my life (besides, you know, getting married and having babies) have been meeting Rebecca Eckler and meeting Julie Powell. For me their writing was life changing, and I needed to say that. And know more.
And I realized that this is what I want.
To meet writers. To read. To write about what I'm reading. And then interview the authors.
I know this is ambitious. I know this will be a long shot. I know I'm asking a lot.
Want-Take-Have.(bonus points if you know where that line comes from)
We'll get there. I'll get there.
This process is evolving. Here is what I know for sure. I'm going to post more often. Julie posted 6 days a week, and as she said, don't think about it. Just do it.
So, expect more from me here.
And, please, let me know what you're thinking. Love it? Hate it? I can take it.
Any ideas? Please send them my way. And, yes, I know. The header is changing. Soon :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Direction

It's hard to believe the Olympics are over.
It's hard to believe this week is over.
Talk about a crazy week. I've said so much about New York and I could say so much more. But, so much love for New York. For Julie Powell. So much (and seriously, she commented on my blog. LOVE).
And the Olympics all tied into it.
There are just moments where I don't feel the need to say much other than sometimes life makes you happy.

The one thing that I've been thinking a lot about is the direction of my blog. I started this as a mommy blog, and even though my kids are obviously a huge part of my life, the whole mommy blogging thing isn't really what I'm focusing on lately. I know I want to keep blogging. And I know I have a lot to say. I guess I'm just getting tired of the whole "mommy blogger" label. And, as exciting as it is that in the coming months we will be potty training Chloe - I have no desire to share the stories of her pooping in the potty. I care - it's just not where my heart is.

So, be prepared for a bit of change. What I do know is that I want to write consistently. And I want to figure out where I'm going. But right now - I just don't know what that is. So... stay tuned! And if you have ideas. Please share.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What I Was Looking For

 
I'm back from a whirlwind trip to New York.
Maybe this is a bit cliche, but the trip was life changing.
If you haven't been following here, let me explain. I read the book Cleaving by Julie Powell. She made me look at life differently. She made me appreciate that life is messy and we need to embrace it.
I read about
 Cover of "Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, ...
Then after reading Cleaving I joined Julie's fanbook page and I found out that she was speaking at the Manhattan JCC. She was speaking with Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project. So, I bought the book, which is amazing as well, and long story short, I decided that I needed to meet Julie. Because what makes me truly happy
Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...
So, I booked a trip and went to New York.
Everyone was pretty amazing about it. Instead of being called crazy words like brave and amazing were used, and all of that melted my heart. You guys are amazing.
I decided to not only go to the speaking engagement, but also try to visit some of the places Julie talks about in her book. The place that was her solace was a butcher shop called Fleishers. As it turns out, this place has become quite famous. As it turns out, they are rockstar butchers. Who knew there was such a thing as a rockstar butcher. There is. 
So, off I went to Fleishers to see what it was all about. And they gave me a tour. Okay, I realized how off that sounds. But I was fascinated by the tour. And then they let me watch them cutting meat. Again, hard to explain unless you're in my head. But I had to do it. I had to understand this essential part of the book. As it turns out it was amazing. But, thankfully for all involved, I'm far more insterested in eating meat than butchering it. I'm good with that.
So, I left Fleishers around lunch time, and made my way back to Manhattan. I did a bunch of touristy stuff and then the big event happened.
Julie and Gretchen spoke with a moderator. Amazing. And then I was able to meet Julie.
Not the best picture of me. But let's all focus on Julie. Look how beautiful she is. Stunning and lovely.
The next day I just had a New York day. I went to Century 21, of course. And I got some lovely shoes. I also saw Ground Zero.  And tried to guess which building Julie worked in while writing Julie and Julia. And, I'm positive I passed it cause I got thoroughly lost looking for the store. Funny side note - 3 people asked me for directions yesterday. I pulled out my maps to help them. But it was funny since I was lost.
After Century 21 I stopped at Canal Street and got a Rolex for Mike. And some Chanel for me. (real, of course).
My final stop? Republic. This is where Julie drank gimlets. You can bet I had one. It was delicious. So so so good.
And I had a delicious lunch. Which I ate with chopsticks. And let me tell you several people helped me out with the chopsticks thing.
And then I had a lovely conversation with a woman a little younger than me. We talked about life, and chopsticks, and everything you can imagine. It was a moment that just happened. She was at the beginning of a journey. She wanted to write and follow her dreams. And, we talked about it. When I was leaving she said something to me that will always stick with me. She said: "Whatever you have found that brings you this joy - that's what I'm looking for."
That ended my trip.
It was a beautiful note to leave on.
And a pretty much perfect trip.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LIVE from New York

Tonight I met Julie Powell.
Can you absorb that? Julie. Julie who I talk about all the time. Julie of "Juliequest 2010."
I don't need to go into the story. If you've followed me for awhile you know about this. And guys, tonight was amazing.
Remember when I said "live better than you dare?"
That's what today has been about.
In my last post I said I needed this and it's hard to explain how I feel. The truth is, I needed this experience. I needed to tell Julie what her book meant to me. And I did.
Of course I cried. Of course. I didn't mean to.
I went to hear her speak at the Manhattan JCC. And it was amazing.
And the thing is, Julie was amazing. She got it.
I know Julie Powell is THE Julie of Julie and Julia. But, really, it doesn't matter. I'm glad she had that success. Or maybe I wouldn't have heard of her. Maybe she wouldn't have written Cleaving. Maybe she woulnd't have given us all the message that Life is Messy, but we still have to keep going on living it and loving it and loving each other.
Fame is great. And I applaud her success.
But it's more than that.
I've been trying to explain this trip to people. To explain why I needed to do this alone.
It's not about whether I'm happy or not. It's not about meeting a celebrity. It's about believing that in life there's something important.
It's about knowing that there is this wonderful part about our existence that is confusing and complicated. But there's joy in every day.
It was funny because tonight was better than I had hoped.
I had hoped that I would be glean something from the experience. That I would leave understanding something.
What I got was so much more.
I had the chance to thank her for her work. And, you guys, she came over and gave me a hug. She got up from where she was sitting, at the front of a big audience. There was a room full of people who wanted to get their books signed, and to ask her questions, and she came over and gave me a hug. And thanked me for what I said.
There are moments when your heart just feels full.
When you feel like someone understands.
It doesn't mean life is perfect.
I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Honestly, there are storm warnings in New York and I don't even know if I will get home tomorrow.
But, what I know. What I left knowing is that life is a journey. And that there are some awesome people who make that journey so unbelievably incredible.
Julie is one of those people.
And life, right now, is just so good.
You know, I read her book. I visited Fleishers. And there are a few more stops I want to make tomorrow to see what she talks about in her books.
But, I know one thing for sure. This is my journey. And I'm loving it. And living it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New York

Tonight I leave for New York.
I'm spending 2 days in New York. Just me.
I need this.
There are no expectations on my part. Not really. Yes, it's being referred to as "Juliequest" by some of my friends. And that's appropriate. Because yes. I really want to meet her. And hear her speak.
Yes, my excitement is palpable. You may be feeling sorry for the people who have to work with me all day as I try to quell my excitement.
But, there's a line in Cleaving that explains how I'm feeling. There are many sections in that book where I can relate.
But, Julie Powell has one line in Cleaving that pretty much explains my whole life.
If there's one thing I've learned about myself, it's that passions don't tend to run out. Would that they did.
I get that.
She had Julia. She had her butchery.
I have this.
My expectations. They are of me. To absorb the moment. To appreciate what I'm doing. To come back with a better understanding of why I need to do these things.
Passions don't tend to run out.
True that, Julie. True that.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This is why I'm Tired

I often come to work on Mondays and say my weekend was exhausting. I love my kids. They make me laugh and make me smile. But they exhaust me.
So the other day we let Matt make a video. No exaggeration ... this is Matt - most of the time.
Mike and I cracked up when we started watching it because it's so him. Also note how calm our cat is through the whole thing.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Live Better Than You Dare

I've been talking a lot about going to New York.
I've been talking a lot about Julie Powell.
And, I was tossing back and forth the idea of travelling to New York to go to an event she's speaking at. I know. A little crazy. But, also pretty cool.
And I've been reading the Happiness Project which is pretty full of some affirmations and quotes. I'll admit that I'm not exactly a daily affirmation person - but I do love a good quote. And one of her quotes is "Live as Well as You Dare." I thought that was pretty great - until my good friend said it should be changed to live BETTER than you dare.
And it's true. It's one of those quotes I play over and over in my head. I mean, do I dare? Do I do things I'm afraid of? Do I push things just a little more than I'm confortable with? Well, yes and no. Yes, for sure a lot. (just ask the people I work with)
So, with this whole New York thing - I'm going for it.
I was thinking about what inspired me in Cleaving. Like, I pretty much fell in love with the whole book - what Julie Powell said about herself (life lessons there). But it was also about butchery. I'll never forget the conversation I had with someone when I was halfway through the book. This person is a friend, but doesn't know me *that* well, and I was knee deep in the book, and had decided that perhaps I should move to New York and learn to be a butcher. It wasn't a serious thought. It was more of a completely engrossed in a book kind of thought.
He thought about it and suggested that perhaps I take some cooking classes, or even just try buying meat from a butcher (other than the grocery store).
And I was mulling this idea around when I decided that OMG! I could probably find the butcher shop from the book. (it's called Fleisher's) And go there! And, then I thought that I can't exactly buy meat there but they have soup and stuff. So, if nothing else - I can fly to New York, take a 2 hour bus ride to the store, eat a bowl of soup - and EXPERIENCE.
And, perhaps buy a shirt!
Live better than you dare.
Maybe to some people that's insane. To me - that's living!
Also, before I go, my friend helpfully sent me a title of a book to read (about meat) and some butchers in Toronto that have a similar philosophy. Awesome.
I'm SO excited.
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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sleep and Happiness ...

Chloe is almost 2. We're about 6 weeks away from her second birthday, and the child needs to sleep.
I don't know what went wrong with her sleep routine. As an infant she slept well, but as she got older it got progressively worse till we hit that point that every night Mike puts her to sleep by rocking her and then lays her on the couch until he brings her to our bed where she sleeps for the night.
I know that sounds terrible.
The truth is, when you have an older child who is really exhausting, you take sleep however you can, even if that means horrible habits.
But, the other day I was left to put Chloe to sleep, and given the fact that I'm a foot shorter than Mike, and have significantly less arm muscle, it was really hard to get her into the necessary sleep strong hold. And I realized that something had to change.
So for the past few days I've been doing sleep training.
Matt goes to bed pretty quickly and has a great knack for ignoring his sister, so while he slept I somewhat patiently walked Chloe back to her bed over and over and over. And listened to her scream - over and over and over.
And, for the last 2 nights she has slept in her own bed.
This is a miracle, I tell you. A miracle. Tonight we had only an hour of the walking back to bed/crying routine.
What's the magic formula? Well, nothing. But I'll tell you what's made it easier - reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. It's a fascinating book, and it breaks down her resolutions for happiness into 12 months. I'm kind of reading a month per night. And, it's funny how when I read it, and I'm reading about things that were hard for her, it kind of makes the suckiness of sleep training more bearable.
Also, it's a good book.
And, I've finished reading the month of February and she's actually mentioned Julie/Julia. So there's that. And she says stuff like:
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
 And let me tell you, when you're feeling a little guilty about essentially just listening to your kid cry, stuff like that is amazing.
So sleep plus happy is making me happy right now.
And I'm hoping that by Chloe's 2nd birthday we'll have a sleeping toddler. Next step - toilet training.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Debating ...

Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, New JerseyImage via Wikipedia
Do you ever have those moments where you debate something? You know, wonder if you're compltely insane or have a really good idea?
Here's the thing.
I don't usually debate those things.
Someone once said about me "you always take the leap, and debate the merits of it after."
That's kind of true. In fact very true. I try not to be that way, but at the end of the day, it's what makes life fun, and it's what makes me me. And sometimes you just need to embrace courage.
And here's the thing.
I'm debating going to New York. For one night. On my own.
I *REALLY* want to go hear someone speak. 
I've been talking enough about Julie Powell. I've made all my friends read the book. I've been inspired by what she does. And, for me it's a matter of a relatively cheap flight and just going for it.
I should be able to get the time off work.
I've travelled to NY on my own several times, and can navigate my way around without any problem. I'm not particularly worried about any aspect of this.
In fact, I'm not even sure what I'm debating. I mean, yes, there's the one small issue of finding somewhere to stay, but it's one night... it's manageable.
And worth it.
right?
Or is it crazy?
Okay, and side note. My friend told me about a dinner party she went to where everyone there brought something from MtAoFC. I thought that was pretty much the COOLEST party idea ever. Well, next to my awesome 30th birthday fondue party.  But, you know, I have a birthday every year - and what's not to love about a pot luck - in the fancy french way!
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