Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Swinging Away

We were back at the Castle Park this week...and this time most of the time was spent on the swings. I just love watching them play together and on this day the major joy was watching my oldest make her little sister squeal with delight as she gave her the coveted "underduck":

 Then it was on to the teeter totter and some interesting expressions...

...then I watched as little sister did the dirty work on the "spinner":

...and finally the pride on my oldest daughters face when she made it to the top even with me shaking the "pyramid" the whole way...

One of the joys of having kids is watching them enjoy every moment to the fullest.  It's a lesson we should learn from them...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Power of Social Media (or How Starbucks Made My Day...)

I work in marketing so I am well aware of the power of social media. I have seen it used in some truly ingenious ways...and some severely egregious ways as well.

Recently I was the lucky benefactor of what was - in my humble opinion - a brilliant use of social media.

I am a loyal Starbucks customer - a gold card carrying, daily coffee stop making customer. And I get very excited when the holidays arrive and I get my first red cup.

Also, as a marketing junkie I love seeing what the cup design looks like, what their 'tagline' and strategy is for the holidays and how that translates into the decor of the store. This year they are using this:

Share Joy...simple and effective...I approved.

One recent Tuesday morning - after a very rough night's sleep - I sent out this tweet:

About 45 minutes later I received this reply from the official Starbucks Canada twitter account:

I was literally blown away. Especially considering that in my original tweet I didn't mention Starbucks directly...just the hashtag of #needcoffee

I promptly DM'd my email address and received this email a few minutes later:

Once again...I was blown away.  I had expected a coupon for one free coffee...not a $15 gift card.  This was going way above and beyond...

Note the highlighted postscript at the bottom - a brilliantly subtle revenue generating strategy. While I'm happy and excited at the receipt of my own unexpected gift they gave me the chance to pass on the feeling and Share Joy with someone else. How could I not? And I bet I was not the only one that did.

I also spent the entire day sharing my story with friends, family, co-workers and social media connections. I couldn't say enough good things about Starbucks and what they had done that day to make me happy...

Of course I knew I wasn't the sole person that Starbucks had singled out to Share Joy with that day.  But I was very curious what it was about my particular tweet that got me I checked out their twitter timeline.

Turns out my choice of hashtag - #needcoffee - was a perfect example of right place, right time. All the other lucky recipients at the same time used the same one.

I dug a little deeper and found that the social marketing team also rewarded tweets that didn't even mention coffee at all!  There were people that missed transit connections, were studying for exams, kept up by crying babies, etc.

This one was a particular favourite of mine...

So well done Starbucks...for creating a genuinely engaging social media strategy that really managed to make an already loyal customer feel like a part of your community.

This is social media at it's best.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Oh how do I love thee new house? Let me count the ways... (Monday Listicles)

We have been in our new house for just over 3 months now. Wow...where has the time gone? I think it has flown by mainly because this house felt like home from the moment we moved in.

I had put a lot of pressure on this poor house.  I needed it to be so many things for me given my frame of mind when we moved.

I needed it to be comforting.  I needed my girls to love it right away.  I needed it to be the fresh start I was so desperately craving.  I needed it to be perfect.

And it is perfect.  For many many reasons...but for this week's Monday Listicles let's just pick 10.

10 reasons my house is the bomb:

1. It's a house.  After living in an apartment for the past 5 years (and a triplex before that) I forgot how awesome it is to live in a real house - with no one above us or on either side.

2. Our landlord.  She lives downstairs - so we do have to watch our 4 years stomping feet - but she is awesome.  She folds the laundry we always forget about in the dryer. She brings the kids treats on the holidays. She is generally fantastic all around...

3. Our yard. Another plus to living in a house is the outdoor space...we have a front yard that is all ours and the girls love to play out there.

There's even a maple tree to climb. The backyard is really supposed to be for our landlord but she's so awesome (see #2) that she has no problem with the girls being back there. There is a playhouse they can use and she even paid them $2 each the other day to sweep her patio. She defintiely overpaid for that labour.

4. 3 Bedrooms. For the first time our girls have their own rooms and they LOVE it. Our oldest is 7 and I guess this is the age where they start need some "space". She has a "DON'T COME IN" sign she likes to put up in such situations. Too bad our 4 year old can't read yet...

5. Driveway. Another plus of being in a house...parking 3 feet from the front door rather than in the downstairs parkade. I may not see this as a plus when we get our first snowfall...but for now I like it.

6. 2 Bathrooms. There are not enough words to tell you how happy we are to have 2 bathrooms. Especially when you have kids who don't tell you they have to pee until they "HAVE TO GO PEEEEEEE!!!!" And then they both have to go at the same time...of course. This is no longer an issue.

7. Our Deck. We have a wrap around deck. It's lovely to sit out there on a summer evening, on our quiet street and watch the sky turn red as the sun sets. Or to enjoy a few precious kid free moments with a book and a coffee.

8. 4 Minute Walk. That's how long it takes us to get to the elementary school.  Unfortunately I only get to do that walk one morning a week...for now.

9. The Fireplace.  It's raised up to eye level and I love that. Plus it has a big mantle that was a lot of fun to decorate. The perfect focal point for the living room. And I can't wait to make it a major focus mwhen we decorate for Christmas!

10. Did I mention it was a house? Yup...that's my favourite thing about it..

I didn't think it would be possible to love my house anymore...but after makeing this list I do.  Here's hoping we live here for a very, very long time.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Character flaws...

I like witty people.  I like to think that I am a witty person.  And in the pursuit of the perfect witty one liner I have been accused of being insensitive and sometimes even downright mean to the people I love.

I zing them. And it hurts.

I know this is true and I am not proud of it. Sometimes I just see the shadow of hurt cross their face and other times people come right out and tell me. In either case I always apologize profusely and say that I never meant to hurt them...I was just trying to be funny. Which is the truth but certainly not an excuse.

For most of my adult life I have been working on this character flaw. Trying to make sure I think before I speak and really consider the consequences of my comments. But sometimes...oh sometimes it is just so hard to not comment when someone has set themselves up perfectly. To not say the words that want to literally leap off my tongue.

I truly understand the meaning of "bite your tongue"...because I have done it on many occasions.

I believe there is an element of truth to everything we say. It may not be the absolute truth but it is the truth according to speaker. And that is a slippery slope.

Over the past few months I have heard many of these "truths" coming from the mouth of someone that was supposed to love me.

They have been the ultimate "zings" - cutting right to my core. Hurtful and cruel comments that made me question myself and my actions...and even my own self-worth.

Words are weapons...and we must be careful how we wield them.  I know that now and I can tell you that I will be much more cautious with mine in the future.

Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws and they are what make us human. Recognizing and accepting the fact you need to work on correcting your flaws are what make you a BETTER person.

Personally I'm learning how silence can be the loudest sound of all.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Planning my next step

With my first organized run coming up in just over two months I realized I was going to need to decide on what my next focus would be...and soon.

Enter the BMO Vancouver Marathon.  No...I'm not going to attempt a full or half marathon. (Not yet).  But they do have an 8k that sounds like a perfect next step.

Before I could give myself a chance to talk myself out of it...I registered.  And got a friend to sign up with me. And I'm working on getting everyone else I know to sign up as well.

Strength in numbers right?

After happily posting about my decision on Facebook (because...duh...that's what you do right?) I got a lot of responses from my running friends about how 8k is their favourite distance and how amazing the 8k BMO course is.

Naturally I had to check out the course map and hello?...we are running through Stanley Park? Um...yes please!

The 8k run starts at point 13...

Next on my list - buy new shoes and break them in before my January event.  Also - make a Snow White running costume.

The key element of my costume - the yellow skirt from Sparkle Athletic - has been ordered and is on its way.  Now I actually have to do some sewing...hmmm...

And's damn cold out there now. I run after the kids go to bed...and my lungs hurt halfway through...time for some motivation courtesy of Pinterest:

Just keep running...just keep running...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - The Castle Park

My girls have named most of the playgrounds we frequent on a regular basis.  There is the circle park, the yellow park, the blue park, the old park, the garden park and the castle park.

I get them mixed up all the time...they are not amused when we arrive at the wrong one.

This weekend hubby had a soccer game and it was - thankfully - located near one of their favourite parks. The aforementioned castle park...

I realized I had an opporutnaity to recreate a past photo (I love doing that).

What a difference 2 years makes:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sometimes you need to stop and chase the pigeons...

Today...after leaving the girls gymnastics class...we decided to take the scenic route home and drive along the river.  2 minutes into our drive we spotted two things that made the girls scream "STOP!".

One was a giant ship moving slowly along the usually empty river. The other a giant flock of pigeons swooping down on a car in the parking lot.

I stopped...we got out.  The pigeons thought we had food and they quickly swooped in our direction.

After a few screams the girls realized the birds were more afraid of them than they were of the birds.  Let the chasing begin...

the giant cargo ship was a momentary minor distraction....

After enjoying the chase for a little bit...we climbed on the rocks as kids are want to do.

And capped off the impromptu trip to the beach with a selfie.

All in all a very enjoyable 35 minutes on a Saturday afternoon...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How to Meet the Queen (according to my 4 year old)

The following is a transcript of a recent car ride conversation with my 4-year-old. It should be noted that this came up out of the blue and each sentence was spoken with the utmost seriousness and matter-of-factness by her.

T: Mummy...have you ever met the queen?

Me: The queen?

T: Yes. The lady on the money.

Me: No I haven't. I'm not that important.

T: How do you get to meet her?

Me: You have to do something really amazing and then she invites you to the Palace.

T: You should do that then.

Me: Do what?

T: Something awesome.

Me: I should do that...

T: Then she would call and invite you for tea. And you could bring me.

Me: I will work on that for you.

T: But not today. Maybe do something awesome on the next daycare day.

Me: Sounds like a great plan

T: What's for dinner?

And just another reason why having kids is super freakin' awesome and fantastic.

Because without kids what motivation is there to do awesome things so you can meet the queen?

Never change my little sweetheart...never change...and one day you will indeed meet the queen.

Friday, November 1, 2013

High Five For Friday - A rough week...

This week has been a slog...

Hubby has been taking an intensive course at work that had him up late studying every night and I - for the first time since starting my new job in March - had to work late to prep for a presentation.

Add to the mix the fact that it was Halloween and the kids had pumpkin patch trips, costume fittings, and trick or treating to do and I am one exhausted and mentally drained mama.

Of course, weeks like this - ones that I am happy to see the end of - still have their moments of awesomeness that need to be celebrated. In fact that is the whole point of High Five for Friday...celebrate the good despite the bad...

Pumpkin Patch with Friends

I went to the pumpkin patch with youngest earlier in the month but this was a chance for all of us to go as a family and with our closest friends. This was a much smaller pumpkin patch and way less chaotic - a nice change. Plus the weather was amazing and all the kids behaved.

Quality Time

The girls and I had some time to kill after they got restless watching hubby's soccer game. I needed caffeine and they are always happy to take a trip to Starbucks. It was all kinds of lovely to sit in the sun with my girls and chat...

Family Movie Night - 2 Versions

Oldest daughter's school hosted a movie night for all families. We were invited to wear our jammies, bring our pillows and blankies and watch Despicable Me 2 in the gym.  It was noisy and chaotic and we had a great time.

We decided to recreate that magic (on a much smaller scale) at home a few nights later. We pulled a queen size mattress into the living room and all hunkered down with popcorn to watch Hotel Transylvania. We will definitely be doing this again...

Notes from a backpack

Wednesday night - after a very long day and evening - I was annoyed to find that my oldest daugther hadn't emptied out her backpack after school. This is one of her only regular chores and  she routinely neglects it. I was grumbling under my breath about irresponsible children when I found this note.

And then it was all good...


As I have said before I don't love Halloween but I do love watching how much my girls love it. And they do love it...


While I'm still ready for this damn week to be over...I am grateful for each of these moments.

Happy Friday!

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