Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lunch is a 4 letter word

I knew having kids would change my life forever. I knew there would be sacrifices to make.  I knew I would be sleep deprived.  I knew my priorities would change.

I expected to hate changing diapers and be thrilled when the day came that they were potty trained.

I expected to get sick of reading the same story repeatedly and longed for the day they would expand their literary interests beyond The Cat in the Hat.

But one thing I never expected was how much I would loathe - and I mean LOATHE - having to make lunches.

I hate is the bane of my existence.  I would relocate my whole family to find a school where they served hot lunch if that was a viable option.

I have tweeted about my hatred of lunches...even offering $100 to anyone that would come and make them for me. (I was only half joking...)

I have whined about it to friends and family. I have heard the same thoughts from other parents who hate it as much as I do.

I know the way to get over it is to just get it done right away...I know that...really I do.

And yet every night...without fail...I find myself getting ready to go to bed (much later than I should be) and being hit with the realization that "Oh %$^& I still have to make lunches!"

I can't explain why I hate it so much.  It doesn't take me long. It's usually 2 sandwiches or leftovers and a selection of side dishes (most of which are pre-packaged). The most time consuming part is usually cutting up some fruit.

Recently my oldest daughter has given me even more reason to hate this task.  Almost every day this week her lunch has come home and she has barely touched it. Except for any 'treat' item I might have thrown in.

Yesterday was the last straw. I opened up her lunch box and found a full sandwich (with a few bits of crust pulled off), full water bottle and an unopened apple sauce. The damn Bear Paw was the only item missing from what ten complete lunch I had put it in her backpack that morning.

So I did what any frustrated parent would do - I zipped the bag back up and put it in the fridge ready for the next morning. She was going to eat this damn lunch if I had to send it with her every day for the rest of the week.

This morning when I told dear daughter what was what in the world of lunches she looked appropriately ashamed and disgusted. I know this will not be the last conflict in our war over lunches but I'm fairly confident I won this particular battle at least.

Unless she gets wise and pitches it all in the garbage rather than bringing home the evidence...

And that my why in my world...lunch is a 4 letter word.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Artwork Overload

I have a problem.  My kids bring home too much artwork from school/daycare.  And I can't bring myself to throw any of it away.

I fear one day it will bust out of all of the various bins, bags and boxes I have crammed it all into and bury us all.  I made valiant efforts when my oldest daugther started bringing home her creations from daycare.  I bought binders and page protectors and carefully filed everythign away.

Even the pieces where she made one solitary pencil line...her early attempts at modern art I call it.

And then I had baby number 2 and life got a little bit more hectic. Coincidentally that's when the amount of artwork coming home increased ten-fold because now she was attempting to write letters and numbers.

The binder system was overloaded and failed. Large plastic containers were purchased in an effort to save our kitchen counter from being overtaken by random pieces of construction paper, glitter and stickers. And the occasional piece of dried pasta, twig or leaf that broke free.

The plastic containers filled up fast and were sent into the back of a closet. New plastic containers were purchased.

When my second daughter started bringing home her own "one pencil line masterpieces" I knew I was going to have to start making some tough choices. I was going to have to be ruthless.

As piles of artwork caeme home I carefully combed through them to find ones that featured something special like a handprint or attempt to write a name or anything that I could actually figure out what it was.

But every time I threw away a piece of "art" I felt awful. Especially when my oldest found a few of her drawings in the recycling one day.

She looked at me like I was a monster.  "But mummy...I worked SO hard on this." she said as she held up the half coloured in outline of a bunny rabbit. "Its my favourite picture EVER!"

(Boy does that girl have a flare for the dramatic...)

So we rescued the bunny drawing and his pals from their doom and took them back upstairs to live in a plastic box in the cupboard.

That night I started looking online for help.  What I found was ArtKive.  Have you heard of this?

It's an app that allows you to take a photo of your child's artwork and store it online.  You can categorize each piece pretty much anyway you want making it easily searchable later.

I'm in the early stages of using ArtKive but so far I really like it. There are still some pieces that my girls bring home that I insist on keeping like this letter my oldest wrote to my grandpa who died before she was born:

But this sticker/feather/plastic hot mess gets ArtKived and then recycled:

Maybe a quick note to their teachers saying not EVERY piece of "art" has to come home would save me a lot of work in the end. Just sayin'...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Somebody's been playing with my phone

Found this series of pics while scrolling through my camera roll...

A lovely little reminder about how much being a mama truly rocks.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A day at the beach...

For the past several weekends hubby has been hard at work painting the daycare that our youngest daughter attends. That means we haven't seen much of him and the girls and I were developing a case of withdrawal.

Thank god for long weekends. The extra day meant that he could paint AND spend a full day with us.  And considering he leaves on Wednesday for a week long camping trip...we needed this time with him.

The girls kicked off the day right by sleeping in until 8:30! Unheard of for them...especially on a day off. We talked over breakfast about how we would spend the day.  In the end we unanimously chose "the beach".

So we packed up the car with spare clothes, towels, blankets, snacks, shovels and pails and set off.  Destination: Crescent Beach.

gotta love little sand covered bums...
Daddy dug a deep hole and put her in it...she didn't seem to mind.
everything is a little more dramatic with this one. "Help...I'm stuck in a hole!!!!!"
then it was Daddy's turn

Finally hunger took over and we brushed off (most of) the sand and took a walk in search of sustinence.

After lunch the next logical stop was for ice cream...decisions decisions.

they had no idea they were about to lose some ice cream

At the end of the day we had a bathtub full of sand, exhausted kids and some great new memories. I'm pretty sure that's what long weekends are all about.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Reality Check

Last October we found out that our apartment strata was in desperate need of repairs to the tune of around $6 million dollars.

At the time we felt completely blindsided as we had already paid several thousands of dollars in special assessments since we bought in 2008. We were also completely pissed off because the situation was the clear result of negligence on the part of the property manager and previous owners.

So we got hit with this news in October and then pretty much heard nothing else from the strata since then. While they were silent hubby and I were busy looking at all our options. 

Could we sell? Should we sell? Could we re-mortgage to acquire the nearly $100,000 we would need to pay?

The answer - not suruprisingly - to all of those questions was no.  We were in a the worst position we could imagine.  So we waited it out...hoping that the strata council would figure out a way to make this all better.

On Wednesday night the owners were brought together again and the first thing we were handed as we walked in the door was a breakdown of the costs for the repairs showing our units share:


The meeting was - to be a frank - a joke. Some people were still bitching about what should have been done in the past but wasn't. Others - clearly in better financial sistuations than us - were basically asking where do I pay?

Mostly there was confusion.  We talked about the repairs that were needed (pretty much replacing everything above the foundation). We talked about how those repairs could be completed (all at once, building by guidnling or componenet by component).  We talked about financing and loan options. 

One owner suggested we just "knock all the buildings down and build 6 new high rises in their place" (yeah...because we have enough money to do that!).  And others talked about getting a full property valuation to sell off the land and buildings and walk away.

I kept looking around at the faces of my neighbours - some who I like quite a lot and other who I  wanted to punch in the face as they asked the same question for the 10th time - and I was struck by the enormity of the situation. Most of us were facing the very real prospect of losing our homes.

What a shitty bit of bad luck for all of us.  Because thats what it is - bad luck.

It could happen to anyone. And while it feels good to bitch and moan and place blame on others at the time it doesn't change the reality. Our buildings need repairs and we have to pay for them. Anyone who can't pay their share will have to get out - whether that's by selling at a loss or walking away completely.

I love our house. It's the only home my youngest daughter has ever known.  It is comfortable and familiar and cozy and perfect for us. But it is just a house. We will find another if we have to and we will make that place just as much a home.

Hubby and I have some work to do and some decisions to make and we will do what we think is best for our little family. Because sometimes that's what you have to do when you are a grown up. Make the tough decisions...


Side note: the morning after this meeting I received some very sad news about something a dear friend was dealing with that really put my own situation into perspective.

I love how life works that way sometimes. Just when you start feeling really sorry for yourself you get a little wake up call that reminds you just how good you actually have it.

I have a husband I adore and two amazing little girls that own my heart completely. I could live in a cardboard box and as long as I had them with me I would be okay.

Be happy for what you have.

Be grateful for all you have been given.

Remember what's really important.

It's easy to turn phrases like those into lip service...I do that myself quite often. But they are more than that. They are the simple rules by which we should live.  And I will work harder to do just that.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Love. Period.

Today is Mothers Day. I got to sleep in and awoke to the sight of my girls and hubby bringing me breakfast in bed.

Not too shabby...

The girls gave me the cards and presents they had made. Little one gave me a frame covered in glitter and foam hearts. It's not Mother's Day unless my bed winds up covered with glitter! 

Oldest had painted a small ceramic pot and planted a marigold in it. Unfortunately she put a few too many coats on and so the paint was still wet. So it's living on the deck for a while..,

After extending my lounge in bed time as long as possible...I finally joined the family in the kitchen where the kids had pulled out the play doh. 

Hubby had been asking me repeatedly what I wanted to do on Mother's Day and I was indecisive. But one idea had been percolating for a while - to get my first tattoo.

I have been considering getting one for years but couldn't decide on what it should be. I always thought it would include the girls names but I couldn't pick a design I liked.

Then I saw the perfect one on Pinterest. I knew it was the right one immediately. Simple and perfect. 

As hubby left for his soccer game and the girls and I headed out to meet my mum and Nana for brunch the idea kept growing. I wanted to get it today.

We had a lovely brunch - I'm always so happy when we get the four generations together. Especially how happy it makes my lovely nana to spend time with the girls.

When we got home I asked hubby to call his co-worker that is a tattoo artist and see if the shop was opem and if they had any openings. They did. One cancellation. I was booked for 3:30.

Cue the nerves. Cue the excitement.

We decided to take the kids with us - they are both very curious and we want them to learn about things from us rather than others. And hubby could always leave with them if he needed to.

They were great. And the entire process was (relatively) painless. 30 minutes from start to finish. 

"really...because mine was licked on by kittens!"

she didn't know if she should be nervous or excited!

I am in LOVE with my new ink. And already thinking about my next one.

From my perspective this is what life is all about. Love. Period.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I have hit my first roadblock...and I am not happy about it.

On my run earlier this week I felt a "tweak" in my back. I came home, took a very hot shower, popped a couple of Advil and figured I had dodged that bullet. Not so much...

After my next run that "tweak" turned into full on back spasms. Which have spread to my hip and down my right leg. I'm now in agony every time I move. 

In fact it took me just as long to get off the couch as my 90-year-old Nanny. True story...

So instead of moving on to week 6 of my 5K training program and tackling my first 8 minute run...I am booking physiotherapy appointments and popping pain killers every 4 hours like clockwork.

And this is where my will and dedication gets tested...because this is where I would usually start feeling sorry for myself, get frustrated over being hurt and give up. But not this time. 

Because this time I know I can take the time I need to heal and just get right back into it. Even if it sets me back a few weeks...even if I put some weight back on...even if I have to start right back at the beginning again. I already did it once and so I know I can do it again...

And because I have some amazing ladies cheering me on and ready to run by my side again. Just as soon as I'm ready...

Hopefully I don't keep them waiting too long...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Growing up before my eyes...

This weekend the girls and I visited our "old park" as in the one near our old house. I miss that house and that park and that neighbourhood so much that I never turn down a request to visit.

This time - as my girls climbed one of the many structures together - I had a deja vu moment. 

And so I tried to recreate it: 

Top: Sept 2011 Bottom: May 2013

Oh what a difference 20 months makes...

(I am totally putting a brick on their head...and soon!)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Living in the Moment

This weekend was one of those that remind us Vancouverites why we live here.  A reminder that the reason we suffer through 9 months of gray clouds and rain is for days like the one that we woke up to on Saturday.

When the entire city emerges from hibernation to hit the patios and beaches and parks around the city. When everyone is wearing shorts and tank tops and flip flops…in May.

And because on days like this we know that it really is the BEST place on earth to live. (until it starts to rain again…which is supposed to be on Sunday…just in time for Mother’s Day…of course)

Unfortunately we had to enjoy all our sunny day adventures this weekend without hubby.  He was stuck inside all weekend painting the daycare…oh the things we do for our kids…but we know there will be many more weekends to spend as a family.  He was there in spirit…

The key to making the most of sunny weekends that sneak up and surprise us is that you have to be willing to throw all your plans out the window and go with the flow. For us that meant ditching gymnastics classes inside smelly old gyms in exchange for playing on the deck in the sunshine…

…and welcoming home aunties that had been in Mexico for way too long!...
They brought gorgeous little dresses back with them.  As well as their photobombing skills.
…and discovering new beaches…
…where we almost got swallowed by the mud….


 …but instead managed to surf our way back out…

...and up to the sandy beach...

After a great day at the beach we collected a tired hubby and drove out to a friend’s house for dinner.  Where the kids played in the yard…and the adults lounged on the deck with a cold beverage and good conversation.

The kids all played nicely (for the most part) and only one of them didn’t manage to stay awake until 11:30 when we finally had to make the call to head home.

It was my little love that couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore…and I’m pretty sure that’s because I suckered her into a cuddle on my lap under a nice warm blanket.

What can I say?  That is the one thing I miss most about the baby phase…there was no way I was giving up on this cuddle.

Sunday morning dawned just as bright and sunny as the previous day and we started it off with some homemade French toast. 
(I hate to cook so the fact they got offered anything other than cereal is a minor miracle…)

After breakfast – facing a day with no plans until swimming lessons at 5pm – I let the kids decide the itinerary.  They chose visiting the park by our “old house”…


…sushi for lunch...

Youngest pointed at this guy and said "They have a Frosty the Snowman here..." I was genuinely at a loss on how to respond to that one.
 …finding a new park we had never been to before…

…heading out to UBC to get some frozen yogurt for a treat (finally used that damn Groupon!)….


…where we discovered a little fountain that kept them entertained for almost 45 minutes….

…and I can’t believe that neither of them actually fell in since this is what they did the whole time...


Then it was home for a little rest before heading off for swimming lessons.

By the time we got home the kids were DONE! They didn’t even try to fight bedtime…

And that…my friends…is how you live in the moment.  You get in the car and just go. 

And just pray you are wearing the right shoes for wherever you wind up.