Wednesday, February 23, 2011

These are the days...

These are the days of the endless summer
These are the days, the time is now
There is no past, there's only future
There's only here, there's only now

These are the days now that we must savour
And we must enjoy as we can
These are the days that will last forever
You've got to hold them in your heart.

Van Morrison

I have a little voice inside my head. The little voice inside my head tends to repeat itself often. Usually it's to yell at me for something I did wrong, but it also says things that are reminders for me to stop and enjoy the moment.

These are the days, it says.

And I say it over and over again, in my head, and out loud, too.



These are the days.

I look at pictures of days gone by, and I smile, and tears come to my eyes.

I wake up to a beautiful sleeping child beside me, and I sigh, these are the days...


I look at the clock about to lose my temper, wondering why my children are still awake. Then I hear a giggle, and I'm reminded that these are the days, and I sigh, and hug them one more time.
I know these days won't last forever because time goes by too fast.


My oldest child is five. My baby, three. Five and three, when only yesterday they were babies.


It's still very true that each day they do something to make my heart burst. They amaze me, with their smartness, and even more so with their kind hearts and sweetness. They're caring. They're loving. They're growing up.

My three year old, fiercely independent, is taking showers on his own. There is nothing he can't do and he expresses himself more clearly than children double his age. He is also a hilariously funny child with so much character, spunk, and enthusiasm. Listening to him talk to himself makes me smile hard.

My five year old, always the studious one, spends hours learning about the history of the world. He doesn't want to play with dinosaurs, no; he wants to examine their fossils. My little Ross!

My two boys build forts together, ride their plasma cars together, and plot to mess up the house together. They're partners in crime, enemies, and best friends.



Despite yet another unravelled roll of toilet paper in the bathroom or markers on the kitchen table, I am sucking in the present so it can last and last.


These really are the days to cherish, right here, right now.

These are days you'll remember,
never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be as warm as this.
And as you feel it, you'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky.
It's true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.


These are days you'll remember,
When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour.
You'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky.
It's true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.


These are the days you might fill with laughter until you break.
These days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face.
And when you do you'll know how it was meant to be.


See the signs and know their meaning.
It's true, you'll know how it was meant to be.
Hear the signs and know they're speaking to you, to you.


10,000 Maniacs

Monday, February 21, 2011

Choose to be kind

The other day, my friend and I were out for lunch at a popular shawarma place downtown. We bumped into a friend, someone that we see from time to time at social events.

Before our friend left, he came by our table and dropped off 2 deserts for us, just like that, for no good reason, other than just to be kind. It was a nice gesture that got my friend and I talking about when the last time we did something nice for someone else was.

I'm not talking about typical day-to-day kindness that goes on between you and your loved ones. The kind gestures we do at home are always there - I often come home with little surprises for my children, or give them special treats for no good reason at all. And I'm not talking about spending quality time with your kids, either, because I think that's a given. I love being engaged with my children, playing with them, going to the museums and local attactions, and being totally involved with them when I'm not working - being together as a family.

I'm talking about doing something out of the ordinary. Showing someone else - someone who is very deserving - how much they really do mean to you.

I'm talking about doing something nice for a complete stranger.

I'm talking about helping your favourite charity.

This week, the city I live in is celebrating Kindness Week. People all across town will be doing something extra kind for other people all week long.


Like bringing in baked cookies for co-workers. Dropping off food at the local food bank. Helping the elderly. Buying coffee for the person in line behind them. Giving their magazines to a doctors office. Putting change in an expired parking meter.

The other night, out for dinner with my friends from the Yummy Mummy Club, I realized I didn't have my wallet with me. Luckily my friend quickly came to my rescue. It's those little gestures that are much appreciated!

What am I doing for Kindness Week?

First, I'm going to thank my grandmother for coming over almost every single morning to take care of my children while I go to work. I don't think she understands how much we appreciate and love her. She's at my house by 7 every day, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my boys, always with a smile on her face.

This week I'll be treating her to a gift certificate to her favourite salon to show her how much she means to me.

I'm also going to go to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) to drop off a few bags filled with almost-new toys and books that my children no longer need.

Over the weekend, my oldest son and I spent an hour going through all his toys in his basement playroom, and he loved the idea of giving away things other children could get good use out of.

CHEO will always hold a special place in my heart, because my son was treated there several times, for a few kidney infections and for a severe case of pneumonia, a case so severe he was there for over two weeks and needed to go through surgery. The 4th floor, east wing is a familiar place for us and every year, I do what I can for CHEO. They are the one place I donate to financially, year after year.

This week, I will also go out of my way to keep a smile on my face, and will try to not get annoyed with people who drive too slow or come to complete stops going over speed bumps.

I will grin and bear it! I will be more kind! I will not fight with my sister! I will not yell at any family members! I will also buy the person behind me their coffee at Starbucks.

Thanks, Rebecca, for asking me to write about Kindness Week!

I'd like to ask you now... what are you doing for Kindness Week?

Even if you don't live in the same city as I do, perhaps you'll be prompted to do something extra kind for someone else in your life this week, or even for a complete stranger!

How will you be kind this week? How will you Pay It Forward?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Balance

The other night, I found myself baking cupcakes at midnight.

I promised my son that along with the special treat bags and Valentine's Day cards we made for his classmates, he could bring in chocolate cupcakes for everyone, too.

Of course, our weekend was so busy that the only time I had left to bake was at midnight, and I had to get up the next day at 6 to get ready for work.

The perfect work-life balance is intangible, in my opinion. It's an elusive phenomenon that we grasp at, but one that keeps sliding from our hands, like a slippery bar of soap.

Should moms put their careers on hold and stay home to raise their children? Or work outside of the home to help support their family? There is no perfect answer, and everyone has their own unique situation.

The one thing most of us have in common, though, is the constant questioning."Am I doing the right thing, staying home?" "Should I really be working full-time?" "How can I do what I love, get paid for it, and be actively involved in raising my children?"

I work full-time outside the home. I work because I need the money—I have a little shopping addiction, you see. I work because I enjoy getting getting dressed up every day and driving downtown. I love working in a nice office building, and I love the luxury of drinking my Starbucks in peace at my desk, reading my emails and planning my work day. I love that I can shop, do my hair, or meet up with friends over the lunch hour. I get a lot of done during this time, allowing me more quality time with my children when the work day is done.

There are a lot of benefits to working for the federal government, but it's not a job I'm totally passionate about—I'd rather spend my time writing, working in the media world, or being home with my children. (Or, fine, shopping.)

I was recently offered a radio job anchoring and reporting. Although I do want to get back into the media world again, I didn't accept the job because leaving the comforts of the government isn't a risk I want to take yet. Trying to balance work and life and passions is extremely difficult, and so is making the right decision for me. There are always a million things to consider, and of course, there is the feeling of guilt.

Being a working mom means I don't spend as much time with my children as I'd like to. I used to think that when I had children, I would be the one driving and picking them up from school, going grocery shopping during the day, going home to cook, writing in coffee shops, and then sitting down with my family to a home cooked meal around the dinner table every night.

That is how it was for me, growing up. Coming for a Greek family, dinner time was of the utmost importance, and we'd never miss a night to sit together, eat, and talk about our day, followed by homework and extra curricular activities, like dance class, guitar lessons, and Greek school.

I am thankful that my children receive the best care there is while I am at work. My mom, my in-laws, and my grandmother all share the baby-sitting duties.

Every day, someone comes over in the morning and I kiss my boys good-bye and leave for work. At five o'clock, when I pick them up, I have dinner served to me, because by then my boys are starving and, well, coming from a Greek family, dinner is always ready by five! Cue the mommy guilt!

When I'm rushing to work, or standing in line at the coffee shop, I notice other moms with babies in their strollers and my heart aches. Moments like those make me wish I was at home with my boys, enjoying the simple pleasures that each day brings. It's funny how many moms you notice when you're not with your children—in restaurants, walking to and from the office, in the mall.

Every time I catch a mother's eye, I smile, wishing I was in her shoes.

Perhaps she's wishing she could also trade places with me, too—maybe she's had enough of changing diapers and dealing with tantrums for one day, and would love the luxury of drinking just one cup of coffee in peace.

It seems we'll always want what is on the other side.

I look forward to Sunday night because I know another work week is about to begin. Cue mommy guilt, again. But come Monday morning, the good-bye hugs to my children are extra hard.

It's a constant struggle, trying to find the perfect balance. All I know is I'm determined to make it work. Sleeping only five hours a night is something I've gotten used to, anyhow.

How do you find your perfect balance?

I wrote this post and then found out that it was also one of the weekly writing prompts over at Mama Kat's!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Annoyances

I don't have pet peeves; I have major psychotic f*cking hatreds.

(George Carlin)

Everyday, without fail, something will annoy me. I used to get really passionate about the things that annoyed me, (mostly politics) but a strange thing happened when I became a mom—certain things didn't bother me as much as they used to. I had bigger issues to deal with, like getting used to sleeping less than five hours a night.

However, I still have an extensive list of things that annoy me, and as my children get older, my list seems to grow, too!

Annoyances:

People who drive too slow.

People who drive too fast when it's snowing or raining.

People in mini-vans who think they're driving a Porsche 911.

Having to pay 5 cents for every plastic bag I need when I'm grocery shopping. Almost every store I go to is doing this now, and when I have two kids with me, and 50 items I just spent $250 dollars on, YES, I DO need some bags. Plus, I USE these plastic bags, so get off my case and stop ripping me off!

Parents who think they're superior and who think other parenting methods are wrong.

Parents who have too many rules for their children—in the end, your child is just as bratty as any other child. They'll still keep making the same mistakes, even if you give them a 3-2-1 countdown to stop their 'bad' behaviour, which, by way, isn't all that bad, it's just a kid being a kid.

Drivers who come to a complete stop before proceeding over speed bumps in parking garages. If my looks could kill, these cars would self implode.

People who walk way too slowly going down flight after flight of stairs during a fire alarm. Cut the small talk, and get the hell out of this potentially burning buildng, damn it!

People who think the BlackBerry is better than the iPhone. Some of my best friends still use the BlackBerry, and I don't understand how they can't see how much cooler the iPhone is. Sorry BB users! This doesn't mean we still can't be friends!

Whiny children. Mine included.

Children who say "Mine! Mine! Mine!" when my children attempt to play with their toys. My boys share all their belongings, and it makes me wish they could unlearn this niceness!

People who don't tolerate little children.

People who LOVE winter. I understand that sometimes it's fun to go skiing, or skating, or to build snowmen with your children. But to LOVE winter? Clearly, you're from another planet, because humans are not MEANT to live in arctic cold climates. We are made to walk around naked (think back to the original humans; they weren't wearing Canada Goose coats!) Having to put on 17 layers of clothes before going outside in order to NOT DIE is NOT NORMAL. Snow angels? Pfft. My baby was making sand angels in Florida.

Although I make plenty of grammar errors, I can't stand it when people spell 'your' and 'you're' wrong. It's time to learn, folks—you're not adding any new friends to your social circle if you continue to make this mistake! Also: 'There', 'Their', and 'They're'. I think we learned this simple grammar rule in um... grade five.

Moving on...

People who considers their pet their child, or compare their dog to a baby in a conversation.

Example:

"Baby Alexander kept me up all night— he was so sick, my poor child! I hope he doesn't have bronchitis."

"Oh, I know what you mean, my little Rufus was barking all night, I think he is coming down with something."

SHUT IT. Babies and dogs are NOT equal.

People who don't read books. I don't get it. I just don't get it.

People who only watch Friends re-runs, and don't like Grey's Anatomy, Gossip Girl, or Glee. Especially Glee. (I'm looking at you, sister.)

Brad from The Bachelor. This dude is a dud. How can so many hot women LOVE this guy?


Michelle from The Bachelor. Actually, wait—she's totally entertaining and I like her determination to win his love, as psychotic as she sounds. She's a go-getter, that one. And plus, I'm sorry, she's so hot.

Snooki from Jersey Shore. She sounds like a Gremlin, and she's SO unattractive. Even with a make-over, she'd always look like an over-processed old lady. The fact that she has a published book that I'm sure she didn't even write makes me angry. I bet she spells 'your' and 'you're' wrong, too!

The fact that Eminem didn't win Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards. WHAT? At least he won Rap Album of the Year. He's amazing.


People who bite down on their fork.

People why are mean.

Stepping in wet snow as soon as you take your boots off. Most annoying thing ever!

What are the things that completely annoy you?

Monday, February 7, 2011

All vacations must come to an end...

The unfortunate thing about vacations is that they must come to an end.

That's the awful part about going away.





That, and the laundry that comes with the end of a vacation. The never ending piles of laundry that are reminders that only a few days ago, we were wearing summer clothes—little dresses and sexy shoes, flip flops and bikinis. To get back into winter attire is no fun at all.

I don't do well with change, especially when I'm on a tropical vacation enjoying myself in the sun, knowing that I have to return to the land of minus 40 degrees and snow and gloom and work.

In fact, taking a winter vacation to a sunny destination when you live in the frozen North like I do is downright... depressing.



My children, already seasoned travellers, having flown to Florida four times, to Bahamas once, and to Washington, D.C., and having gone on countless numbers of road trips—did great once again on this trip, and yes, it did help that they slept for the entire flight to Florida and back. Thank you, Gravol!
We all had a great time. As usual, I travelled with my entourage—my mother, grandmother, sister and baby niece were there, too. Travelling with extra helpful hands makes things a lot easier because going on vacation with my young children doesn't leave much room for me to relax!

I love the ocean and the pools and this resort that we've come to love, having stayed here four times in as many years.




Everything about the south Florida I know is clean and beautiful and warm and sunny and crisp and wonderful. I love being outside, and swimming in the ocean. I love shopping at Aventura Mall. I love having dinner at Carpaccio's in Bal Harbour and looking at the beautiful people.

I love driving down Collins Avenue with the windows down, surrounded by palm trees. It's a beautiful thing, and it really beats looking at gray skies and snows squalls.

My boys love the warm weather, too. They spent every day in the pool, swimming to their heart's content, napping in our room with the balcony door open, listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.

"Mommy, why don't we live here?" my five year old asked me while swimming one day. (I ask myself the same thing every day, I muttered under my breath.)

"Baby... I wish we did live in Florida, but we live in a great country, even if it is cold right now and we have to wear our coats and boots and hats and mitts and scarves just to go outside. Plus, in a few months it will be summer again where we live, too!"

I had a great time, no doubt.

However, gone are the days where I would just lie down for hours on end soaking up the sun, listening to my music, and reading trashy magazines.

When a mother travels with her young children, it's all about constant motion.

I lost five pounds in a week, mostly because I swam so much but also because children never stop moving!
My days consisted of:

Getting up at the crack of dawn.
Helping my children into their swimming shorts.
Getting some sort of breakfast in my children.
Going outside, slathering on the children's sunscreen and putting on their sun hats.
Getting in the lagoon-style pool (before 8 a.m.).
Swimming with my boys and getting splashed in the face repeatedly.
Breaking up a few fights.
Getting out of the pool to relax for a few minutes in the sun.
(First strawberry daiquiri of the day).Getting summoned back in the pool.
Getting out of the pool because son number 1 needs a break.
Getting back in the pool to swim with son number 2.
Getting out of the pool because son number 2 needs a break.
In, out, in, out, in, out.
Floaties on, floaties off. Sun hat on, sun hat off.
Re-applying sunscreen throughout the day.
Going swimming in the infinity pool, moving ALL our stuff with us.
(First Pina Colada of the day).Going to the beach, only to hear: "The ocean is just not working for me," from my three year old, after getting hit by a wave.

In all honesty, even though it was a lot of work, I have nothing to complain about. I loved every second. I loved looking for sea shells with my oldest son, and making sand castles on the beach. He even found a shark tooth! A rare find, and one that made him extremely happy.

The biggest observation I always make when we return home from a vacation is that my children come back wiser, more grown-up, somehow. We laugh at our jokes, look at our pictures, and start planning for our next vacation as soon as we get home.

It's hard getting back into the routinue of things, but I remind myself another vacation is just around the corner... and we can't wait to get away again!

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