May 13, 2015

mother days

When one of your children is born just a few days before Mother's Day, it's pretty hard to top that! But this year, my sweet girls (and their fabulous Daddy) gave me one that was just terrific.

Leading up to Sunday, the girls would give me little hints about the crafts and surprises they were making at school and daycare, struggling to keep the secrets for nearly a week! The newly minted 4-year-old, Lady A, kept telling me that "Mother Days" was coming on Sunday, and it was so cute that I tried not to correct her too often!

Sunday morning began with the girls telling me I had to stay in bed, and I could hear all of the effort that was being put into my breakfast just one floor below. Perhaps Lady M was down there helping (or directing) Cal, but Lady A spent much of the prep time up in my room telling me exactly what breakfast I could expect - chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, strawberries, bananas and tea. When she got tired of me being in bed, she asked if I could come play Mouse Trap with her, and so I did - and hustled back to bed when I heard the others coming up the stairs with my special delivery.

With kids who are 4 & 6 I truly think the best part of Mother's Day is the homemade crafts. Lady M proudly gave me a handmade potted plant, paper flower and a necklace with three handmade charms: a star, a heart and a flower. Lady A gave me a variety of paper crafts including a big flower pot with a picture of her in it, a paper purse that had all of 'my favourite things' in it, and a handmade card. I loved each thing they made for me, and I love even more how excited they are to give it. I was even serenaded with a song that Lady M learned in school - listen/watch here!

These homemade gifts really are special. To this day, my dad still has a giant tie that my older brother made for him one Father's Day hanging in his walk-in closet. If I remember correctly, it's an acrostic poem that Greg wrote using Dad's name, Richard. Goes to show that these sweet crafts really do mean a lot! My brother is 36 after all...

As a quick aside since we are on the subject: I would be remiss not to mention that my Dad doesn't seem to have any of MY Father's Day creations adorning his closet. Might have to have a conversation with him about that. Maybe mum has some of my things hidden in her drawers, little gems she's been keeping safe since the 80's...

In any case, back to this year's crafts! Here are a few of the adorable items I received:

Lady A's gift bag for me

The inside of Lady A's card

Handmade charms by Lady M

My flower from Lady M in my office window 
The sweet note from Lady M

We spent the rest of the day together as a family, and had our usual Sunday adventures to the pool (kids swimming lessons) and the baseball diamond (adults softball game). It was a perfectly lovely Mother's Day made absolutely wonderful by the two little ladies who made me a mum, and my sweet husband too.

May 6, 2015

toothless wonder

At 6 1/2, Lady M has been waiting (not-so-) patiently to loose her first tooth. Approaching the end of grade one, she was frequently reminding us that she was the only kid in her class who hadn't lost a tooth, and to my knowledge, everyone else had lost at least two.

They have a tally posted in her classroom, and each time one of the 18 kids in her class bids adieu to another tooth, it is symbolically replaced with a tally mark. Sadly, and much to her dismay, Lady M, had contributed nothing to the 33 marks adorning that chart.

But all that changed on Monday afternoon...

When I went to pick Lady M up on Monday after school, she proudly displayed her bright smile, reached to her bottom tooth and began to wiggle it. Finally! She had a wiggly tooth, and an excitement that was palpable! Monday night, after Irish dance class, she spent the remainder of the evening with her fingers on those pearly whites, wiggling away, in the hopes that the tooth would come out. But no luck.

On Tuesday, Lady M headed off to school and I found myself wondering all day if she would have a gap in her teeth when I picked her up that night, but nope - still just a wiggler!

Driving home Tuesday night, Lady M asked if she could have a piece of gum, then thought better of it, saying "oh, maybe I shouldn't because of my tooth". To which I offered "or, it might help your tooth come out faster!", so in she popped the gum.

Minutes later, just before turning the final corner to our house, she exclaimed from the backseat "my tooth came out!!!". There in her hand was the tiniest little tooth, and buckled in her booster seat was the happiest little girl of all time.

Before bed that night, she thoughtfully bundled up her tooth in a paper towel, and tied it together with a yellow hair elastic! She wrote a nice note to the Toothfairy letting her know that she really wanted to keep her tooth, and tucked into her bed.

My toothless wonder woke up this morning, ran into our room to show us the $5 that the Toothfairy had left her, along with the precious little tooth.

Today she went to class, and proudly added her first tally mark to the class chart.

baby girl turns 4!

It's hard to believe that it's been four years since our littlest lady completed our family of four. All 9 pounds, 2 ounces of her came barrelling into this world at nine days overdue and she's provided us with smiles and laughter from that moment forward.

Four is a big age! Lady A is very chatty and full of stories, prints her name, her alphabet and lots of other words, sings along to her favourite songs (Uptown Funk!) and cares for her collection of babies with more love and affection than you could possibly imagine.

This week I even went and registered her for Junior Kindergarten. Despite how grown up she's seeming some days, it's hard to imagine dropping my baby off at school in September. Where has the time gone?

My cousin and I were joking last month about how every veteran parent wants to tell rookie parents this one thing: "it'll all go by in a flash"! And while you'll (hopefully) never hear those overused words pass my lips, it's very true. These four years have gone by in a blink.

Birthdays are big in my family; always have been. We love to celebrate them well, and most importantly, celebrate them on the actual day (right, Dad?!). Lady A's birthday fell on a Saturday this year which was a nice treat, so that afternoon our immediate family all went out to lunch together. Then we spent a nice evening at home, just the four of us. A chance to relax, and get ready for Sunday's "friend" party!

On Sunday Lady A had a group of friends to a local dance studio where they had an hour-long dance class, followed by lunch (chicken hot dogs, at her request!), cupcakes and then a few games and present opening to cap off the two-hour block. The theme of her party was The Octonauts, which is presently her favourite show (though seems to be in the process of being replaced by Sofia the First at the moment...

All of the celebrations made for a great (albeit tiring!) weekend. I think our little girl felt very special, and she is certainly adjusting well to her new position in life as a four year old.

March 11, 2015

and then it was spring...

I'm really not sure where this winter has gone! Though it felt excruciatingly long at times, it's now March, the sun has started peeking out again, and the mountains of white snow are slowly melting. Looking at my blog, I just realized that I haven't posted anything since the New Year - apparently it's been a busy couple of months.

And it has! My sweet girls are both doing so well. I wrote a few months ago about Lady A and her 'big' reactions (read: tantrums) and one day a few weeks ago I realized that she just hadn't had any lately. It seems we've come out the other side of Tantrum-Ville, mostly unscathed. All of a sudden my little girl seems a little more grown up. No more tantrums, telling eloquent (and hilarious) stories, and keeping us in stitches all the time. The other morning she came to me, as I was doing my hair, and said "Can you make my hair straight like a Mummy, please?" - apparently she equates my stick-straight hair to all mummy's, and wanted me to straighten out her curls to she could look like me, and Lady M too. Life will Lady A is filled with sweetness, snuggles and a lot of laughter.

My budding 6-year old has become quite the linguist. Listening to her speak in French after 6 months of pure French school is really incredible. She's enjoying her language studies, and is really loving an in-school science program she's participating in right now. Each week she comes home with a new trinket from her science lesson, and is really getting into it. (Having read many articles on the lack of women in Science, Match and Technology professions, I'm all for her pursuing this passion!) She started Irish Dancing back in September, and continues to do so beautifully, and with a beaming smile on her face. And her calf muscles are amazing as a result of it!

Calvin has had a very busy few months as he works to launch a business (on top of his full-time job) with a few of his colleagues. He's been working tirelessly nights and weekends with the team to get everything ready, and will hopefully be launching the new company soon. However, he managed to sneak in a weekend in California for a Trade Show and nearly a week in Daytona for this year's Daytona 500, so at least he's finding some balance!! For a sneak peek of what's to come in Cal's world, check this out:

I've been working to finish up my current Masters course which wraps up at the start of April. Then I will jump right into course #10 - my last one! My 5+ year journey to this degree will be finished the last week of June, and the very next day, we're heading south! In 2007 when I attended my Bachelor of Education convocation, Lady M was just a wee little 9 month old. My favourite picture from that day is one my Dad took of Cal, Lady M & I, with me in my graduation gown. Throughout this whole M.Ed, I've often imagined the picture with now the 4 of us, and me in my gown once again. I love that my kids have been able to see my educational process and be a part of it in some way, and believe me, that picture is going to display proudly in my office when all is said and done!

So, as we sit on the cusp of spring, visions of warmth, no snowpants and outdoor activities dance in our heads. Life has not slowed down for my little family of 4, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

December 27, 2014

the apple doesn't fall far...

In the third week of November, Lady M received her first official report card. The reports received in kindergarten covered important details such as skills at the sand table, in the bean bag chair library and in the house centre. So, this one was exciting. This one was going to cover the real crux of my daughter's educational journey. This one was going to set her on a path to greatness.

Ok, not quite. But, I was curious to see what her teacher chose to say about her. I had my hunches, of course, but not getting to be a fly on the wall in her classroom each day, I was eager to read through her report.

It was very good, and she seems to be progressing quite well in first grade. Once I had a handle on everything that was said, I did my best to break down the lengthy commentary into an abridged, Coles Notes version so Lady M would know what had been said about her. 

There were two main things: first, she needed to improve in the area of 'personal responsibility' - I took that to mean that she needs to "pick up her stuff"; not surprising, as that's an ongoing challenge at home as well! The second theme that came up again and again was around leadership skills - she seemed to be exercising these skills quite frequently. 

"Lady M, do you like to be a leader at school", I asked her. 
"Yes. Today I organized all the kids into groups", she replied. 
"Did your teacher ask you to do that?", I queried. 
"Nope, I just decided to do it", she shared honestly. 

Clearly, my kid likes to be in charge...I have no idea where she gets it. :) 

I develop and deliver leadership programs for a living; so I am always thrilled when my daughters' show their tendencies toward natural leadership abilities; we foster and cultivate that skillset, but I needed to dig into this a little more. 

Every year when we head up to my camp, Lady M observes the leadership camp that I co-teach. So I asked her "Lady M, when we're up at camp, is mummy always the one leading the group?"
Lady M: "No"
Me: "Who else leads the group?" 
Lady M: Well, T and R (my co-teachers) do"
Me: "That's right - and who else leads the group?
Lady M: (pausing to think...) "The campers lead sometimes!
Me: "Yes! So, what does that mean to you?
Lady M: "I see mummy...I need to give others a chance to lead too."

EUREKA! Thankfully, she seemed to get it very quickly, and hopefully I didn't squash any of her budding leadership skills in the process; I just want her to know that there's a time to lead, and a time to let others do the same. 

So a week later, I headed to the school on a PD Day to have my first official parent-teacher interview. Another exciting moment in my mom career! Lady M's teacher is a lovely woman who has made a really positive impact on her so far this year. We discussed her conduct in class, and worked around to discussing the 'personal responsibility' piece that had come up in her report. As it turns out, this is coming from her penchant to travel around the class to ensure everyone else is completing their work properly, to the detriment of her own work at times. The leader strikes again! I'm told that many kids go to her for her opinion, assistance etc., so her tactics are working, but striking a balance is key...I just need to make sure my 6-year old is clear on that. 

It's true that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I'm more than happy to see her budding leadership skills...we'll just have to work to ensure she learns that the fine art of leadership consists not of telling others how to do things, but empowering them to become leaders themselves. 

Maybe that enhanced skill will be captured on her next report card!

December 26, 2014

christmas comes this time each year

Ahh, the magic of Christmas time. With a 6 year old and 3 1/2 year old in the family, this was one of the most exciting years yet, that's for sure. Lady M is enamoured with the holidays, and loves everything about it. This year, she happily helped her little sister remember the many traditions we have over the holiday season. Lady A didn't remember much from Christmas past, but this will be the year that she really starts remembering everything, which is super fun.

I could recount a million different stories over the past couple of weeks, but I thought perhaps I should make a little point form list to bring you up to speed on our Christmas season, and to serve as wonderful memories for our family when we look back on 2014 one day.

So here are some things that made our family Christmas magical this year, in no particular order...
  • Lady M's spirit of generosity (see: A Tale of Giving, if you missed it!)
  • Both girls singing duets of this year's favourite Christmas songs, including I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, and the 12 Days of Christmas
  • Holidays crafts - this year, along with some crafts done at home, one of my girlfriends put on an amazing craft day for Ladies A & M. She has two older daughters who my girls think the world of, and they were so excited to spend a whole day with them making ornaments, christmas trees, sparkle jars, and more! 
  • Our tree (though put up extremely late this year - we're talking, like, the 23rd of December) filled with beautiful handmade ornaments that the girls have made over the years
  • Lady M's Irish Dance recital - after four short months of dancing, she's rocking it! More importantly, she is sooooo happy when she's dancing...and super adorable. 
  • A visit to Mountsberg Christmastown with our friends - a very magical night filled with a horse-drawn wagon ride singing carols, cookie decorating, and capped off with a visit to Mrs. Claus and the big guy! 

  • Christmas brunch with my mum and dad
  • Our annual shopping bonanza day - Cal and I save it all until the 11th hour, then embark on a marathon shopping trip. Some people think we're a little crazy for leaving it so late, but seeing as I have a list that's been cultivated over a 2-month period, complete with gifts, prices, and order of stores we are going to visit, it's just a really fun (and well organized) day! Don't worry though, there are several random purchases that jump into our carts wouldn't be fun if it were totally regimented! 
  • Finding the girls' most-wanted gifts - this year, Lady M wanted holiday barbie (easy!) and Lady A wanted a stuffed hippopotamus - a little more challenging. But, we did it! Thank you, Hallie the Hippo from Doc McStuffins. (Last year all she wanted was a stuffed "baccoon"...let me tell you that raccoon was not easy to find...but we did!)

  • Lady M's holiday recital at school - her first in French. She sang Petit Papa Noel with her classmates, then they narrated a little play. Lady M had quite a long solo line, and nailed it! We listened to her practice her line (backwards and forwards!) for about two weeks, so she was well prepared! 
  • The beautiful fire burning on Christmas morning... ok, we don't have a fireplace, but this Netflix fire was the next best thing...

  • Putting up the Christmas lights - again, this one was done quite late this year, but the house looked festive, just in time! 
  • Christmas dinner with my family
  • Lady A squealing with excitement when she saw her new baby that Santa brought her
  • Christmas movies! My favourite has always been National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, so Cal and I watch that one on Christmas Eve every year while finishing wrapping our presents. Love Actually is my other favourite. The Santa Clause is a favourite with the girls, among many others! 

  • Matching Christmas pyjamas for the girls. I figure they'll grow out of this eventually, but I'll enjoy this every year I can until then! 
  • Annual Christmas cookie exchange with my girlfriends
  • Time off from work to spend time with my sweet family
  • The mess of toys in our home on Boxing Day, mixed with the happiness and exhaustion of the holidays
We are now blissfully worn out, and happy to be spending a day at home together with no plans at all. 

November 20, 2014

snapshots of 2014...the year in pictures

Here in Southern Ontario we've experienced our first snow storm of the year, which means that 2014 must be drawing to a close. Judging from my obnoxiously long commute last night (a typically 30-minute round trip to pick up the girls took more than an 1 1/2 hours), the winter is undoubtedly upon us.

Though I never post on my blog as much as I intend to, I find myself taking pictures year round with stories in mind. As you've likely noticed, my kids faces never appear on here (or in any other online spot), so my phones are always filled with pictures of the backs of them! I have lots of pictures of their sweet faces too...but they're just not for internet consumption. :)

However, as I scrolled through my photos, I thought I'd share a pictorial retrospective to let you in on the little happenings that I never ended up sharing in full this year.

Here is a snapshot of 2014...with a little commentary along the way:

Braving the cold out on family walks...

Celebrating Father's Day with my Dad and Cal - the girls were practicing their golf swing. And if memory serves, Lady M crushed me. Future LPGA'er?

 Waterfall walks and bike rides...

First independent swimming lessons and fresh haircuts...

I experienced my first week away from my girls in their lifetime. I've never been terribly good at leaving them, but thankfully Calvin is an awesome daddy, and I got to head to Lake Tahoe, California for an incredible conference with some colleagues. And the hugs when I arrived back at the Toronto airport were priceless...

 No summer is complete without a packed truck, and a trip to camp. (My little dancer is getting her camp-rope bracelet put on by my friend Trishy, and one of our awesome counsellors).

Lady A experienced her first pedicure on our mother/daughter trip to the spa. Lady M is a seasoned pro, and declared this past weekend "Mummy, I really need another pedicure". Ahhh yes, an absolute 'need' for any 6-year-old. But, let's be honest, I'll take her to get some cute Christmas toes in a few weeks. :)

Lady A's colourful tootsies
Lady M's flowery piggies
Mummy/Daughter spa date!

Lady M started Grade 1 with her snazzy new Hello Kitty backpack, which was really just a 'filler' until we could locate a Frozen backpack (which were sold out EVERYWHERE!). Hello Kitty now belongs to Lady A, because I ended up locating a coveted Elsa & Anna bag shortly into the school year. The first picture is at home, before school...the second is of her holding her teacher's gladiolus - Lady M was quite nervous about starting at her new school, but when her teacher allowed her to come to the front of the line and hold her flowers, she was good to go!

We celebrated my mister's 36th birthday in September with his favourite - carrot cake! 

Having built up a little courage to go away for a week thanks to my time in Tahoe, I took another week away to head to Florida with my mum. We were there to celebrate the wedding of my cousin Casey, and his beautiful bride Alex. Wedding, family visits, outlet shopping, sunshine and sleeping in - a wonderful week away!

Halloween this year gave us one Queen Elsa and one squishy little monkey. Cuteness abounded!
Lady M's homemade Elsa wig!

And with our first snowfall this week, we are into the thick of it again...

So, there's a little glimpse into our year - it's been a great one!