Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stress, hello.

It's just after midnight and here I sit, working, er, typing away, on my computer. But since typing on my computer, or rather, laptop, technically is working, here I sit, working, trying to tie up a dozen or so loose ends before I leave for BlogHer in a few days.

I am not writing a post about BlogHer, since I've already done that, and since you've all seriously read enough BlogHer posts these last few weeks, it's almost making you NOT want to go, because can't we all shut-up about BlogHer already? In related news, I almost had a heart attack reading Marinka's latest post, in which she made me think she was quitting blogging with her cleverly titled post, Good-bye. Could be that I'm just really tired, too.

I seriously haven't been talking about BlogHer too much, I swear. The fact that I am willingly leaving my husband and children for three nights and four days is not keeping me up at night or causing me to have a severe case of anxiety, making my road rage a little more ragier (if that's not a word, it totally should be) than usual. No, not at all.

Okay, I'm lying. As my mother would say, WHAT KIND OF MOTHER LEAVES HER CHILDREN FOR THREE DAYS? Oh my goodness. ONLY THE WORST KIND OF MOTHER! ME! Sob.

Okay, okay, I know I'm not a bad mom, but still. The worry! The guilt! The panic attacks! I'm hardly able to focus on anything more than: "What will I pack? What will I wear? How many dresses do I need? Is one suitcase enough? It almost wasn't, last year... do I need more shoes? Will the boys have enough clean underwear? Will they forget about me? Remember to pack their snow globes in the suitcase, not carry-on, in case I have to deal with stupid people at customs. Dear God, don't let me forget my Ativan. Will I have to talk to Mario Lopez about my period? Ew."

I guess I'm a little stressed about leaving for so long. Yes, I consider 3 nights away from my children a long time to be away. I know they're not babies and I know they'll be in excellent hands with their father, but still... I'm a mom. And I worry. And damn it, it's more than a one hour plane ride, so maybe I should drink something um, with alcohol in it, to wash down my Ativan?

Right. Time to go to bed now, where I will stay awake for another hour or so trying to forget that to-do list of mine that is somehow not shrinking.

I think I need a vacation. Somewhere warm, with a lot of nice people, by the ocean. Like maybe California?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A weekend to celebrate!

Last Friday after work, I rushed home to see my boys and spend some time with them before going out for drinks with some friends, one of whom is an award-winning parenting author. Ahem. Whenever I go out with these girls, we always have a great time.


The night was fabulous, and the laughs were plentiful. It was the beginning of a very good weekend...

I fell asleep at 2 a.m., and then the phone rang. At exactly 5:30 a.m. Nothing will shake you out a hangover faster than your mom phoning at an ungodly hour to say:

"It's mom! Your sister is in the hospital, her water broke! Get the kids and let's go let's go let's go!"

After hanging up the phone, I rolled over and fell back asleep. Chances were very good that no baby would be making an appearance before 9 a.m. Certainly not before I had my coffee!

When I woke up I went into nesting mode on behalf of my sister, and spent the morning cleaning my house from top to bottom, while at the same time playing with my children and planning all the things we had to do that day to get ready for my son's 6th birthday party the next day. That's right. Hosting a big birthday party the same weekend my sister was having her baby and also the same weekend my in-laws were leaving for Greece for a few months, one week before I leave for San Diego? I guess you could say things were a little hectic!

I was brave enough to venture to Michael's, Bulk Barn, and the party store with my children to pick up the things we needed for the next day's festivities, all the while feeling incredibly anxious for my sister and mentally checking things off my to-do list while trying to not buy 2 giant Dora balloons for my three year old, who had a melt down in the balloon aisle. Of course, I bought the balloons, which he then proceeded to let go of so he could watch them float away into the sky. Just like that, fifteen dollars escaped his little hands and floated up, up up...

I dropped the kids off at home (my husband was on stand-by!) and I went to spend some time with sister. She wasn't having her baby, so my mom and I went for lunch. As I left and headed for home, I received another frantic phone call:

"Hurry back! She's having the baby!"

I rushed home to pick up my family and made it to the hospital just in time.

Finally, a baby was born! I spent the next hour holding my new nephew and inhaling the most delicious baby smell, thinking about how it was when I was in the same room giving birth to my children, and thinking about how quickly time passes. Baby fever? Almost, I'd say!



The next day, after spending more time with the newest member of our family, I was ready to celebrate my son's 6th birthday party with extended family members and cousins. (His 'friends' party is taking place next weekend!)




We were doing a pirate/treasure hunt theme this year, complete with pool party and big backyard BBQ. The best way to celebrate a summer birthday, right?

I loved seeing his expression when he saw the cake I ordered for him - this was one amazing treasure chest birthday cake! The best part? It tasted so good!





My son officially turns 6 years old next Monday. I have a blog post ready to go about that, of course. My boys keep me laughing all day long, and now with another baby in our family to love, my heart is pretty full of happiness. The fact that my sister had her baby a week early just for me (thanks, baby J!) makes me extra happy, too. (I still can't believe it's her SECOND baby in a year!) I'm glad I don't have to stress about missing the baby's birth when I'm San Diego for BlogHer next week. Now, I can officially (almost) relax by the pool, drink in hand...

Friday, July 15, 2011

BlogHer: What to expect!

With BlogHer only two! weeks! away! I thought it would be an excellent time to offer some advice about how to prepare for this conference. I wrote a Top 5 Reasons To Be Stressed About BlogHer post before I arrived to BlogHer last year, because I was a bit overwhelmed. (Keeping track of the party invitations alone was a full-time job!)

My fears disappeared as soon as I popped the Ativan on the airplane. I travelled with some awesome bloggers, so that helped calm down my mommy guilt, since it was my first time flying without my boys. This year, the 'party plane' as it's been dubbed, will be filled with awesome Canadian bloggers including the girls from Mom Central Canada!

In summary, BlogHer last year was an absolutely amazing experience, which is why I'm going again.

Without further ado, here is my BlogHer advice to you, if you're going for the first time:

If you want to meet someone, don't be shy. Run up to that famous blogger you love, professing your love for them and shoving your business card in their face. Don't forget to hug them really tight, too! The worst thing that'll happen? They'll stare at you like you're crazy and walk away, leaving you sobbing all by yourself, as you put your business card back in your wallet and head to the bar to drown your sorrows in a row of shots.

When you're at the Expo Hall, make sure to run to each booth and greedily say: "Is this free? Is this free? Is this free? Oh, look! A pen! Yay!" That's what networking is all about, and it's a sure-fire way to make great connections and to secure future business opportunities with the amazing companies who helped sponsor BlogHer.

If you're sharing a room with someone you really like, but have not met before, make sure to take hours in the bathroom getting dolled up, making them wait for their turn to shower and get ready. Leave your clothes scattered about, and keep the room as messy as possible, so you're reminded of the state of affairs back home, keeping your "I miss my kids!" tears at bay.

Take full advantage of the free cocktails at all the parties you'll be attending. Don't stop drinking! Nothing is more glamorous than when you're so drunk you can't even walk straight anymore. People will definitely remember you!
..............................

In all seriousness, just have fun, and be yourself. Yes, this is the number one piece of advice you'll hear from everyone else, too, but it's true.

Also, remember this: you're a BLOGGING conference. That means all 3,000 of us? We are there for the same reason. We love to blog. And it doesn't matter if you blog about fashion, entertainment, health, life, or motherhood—we share a common interest. And we're all a little geeky.

Introduce yourself to new people. Sure, you're hopefully going to see (and hang out with) the bloggers you've been wanting to meet, but you should also talk to the girl in front of you in line for drinks, or the people staying in the hotel room next to you. You never know who you'll end up clicking with and spending time with!





Exchange numbers with bloggers and friends you want to hook up with before hand, so you'll be able to reach them once you're in San Diego.


Don't be stressed about what to wear. Your best accessory is your smile and personality. Sure, I loved getting dressed up for the parties last year, and BlogHer is a great excuse to get that new dress or pair of shoes you've had your eyes on, but you don't have to shop for a new wardrobe before BlogHer. Wear what you love, and the fun will follow!

I pack all my 'party' clothes and shoes in my carry-on, so that way, if my suitcase gets lost? I won't have to worry about the clothes situation once I arrive to the hotel. The fewer things I have to worry about, the better! Oh, and bring a big suitcase. Last year there was a lot of swag!

Bring lots of business cards—you will be exchanging cards with people you meet all the time.
(I'll be giving away business cards with Tiny Prints this week, too, so stay tuned!)


Don't worry about what parties you're invited or not invited to. The most fun can happen when you least expect it. I had a blast having drinks with Jessica, Pauline, Adam, Emily, Muskrat and Sam at the rooftop bar of Hotel Gansevoort. And going on a quest for a slice of pizza with Jessica at 1 a.m. was quite memorable, too!

Plenty of fun random get-togethers will take place in the hotel lobby or bar. I plan on spending a lot of time outside by the pool talking to friends this year. And working on my tan!

I'm not going to give you a list of all the things you should bring (or not bring) with you, but comfortable shoes are a total bonus. And don't forget your cell phone charger, a laptop, or your ipad. And money and a camera, of course!

I met so many fabulous people last year, too many to name here, and I can't wait to see new friends (like my roommate Lotus! Yay!) and see old friends again in two weeks.

I hope you have a great time in San Diego. Even if you spend some time solo, you'll be fine. You will learn a lot and you will have a fantastic experience if you make an attempt to do a few things that scare you. Smile. And have fun!


Oh, and if you need new amazing business cards? I have a $50 Tiny Prints giveaway just for YOU! Tiny Prints was nice enough to make my cards for me last year and again this year, and now they're giving YOU some business cards, too! Just leave me a comment below telling me how excited you are about going to BlogHer11 and I will pick a winner on Friday, July 22nd!


See you in San Diego...

P.S. I'd like to thank my friends at Mabel's Labels for partially sponsoring my trip to Blogher!


P.P.S. In case you didn't know, I'm a new blogger over at Yummy Mummy Club! My blog is all about what I love most in this world, after my children... that's right: shopping! And right now, I'm giving away a pretty awesome cosmetics gift from Luxe Box! Check it out!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Just for you...

A few of months ago, I received an awesome package from HP Canada—a very cool apron from Anthropologie, a gift certificate for the spa (hello, one-hour massage...), a few household items, and... the new HP Photosmart eStation All-in-One printer. This is no ordinary printer, yo. It has features that most printers could only dream of having. It is like the Manolo Blahnik of the printer world. Top of the line!

The HP eStation can also keep the kids busy. I know this is true because we put the printer in the children's play room in the basement and they've been occupied for minutes on end! These minutes allow me to empty the dishwasher, and to fold the neglected laundry. Precious time, my friends!

The printer acts like an 'online hub' of sorts, and offers different ways to stay organized and connected. The HP Zeen, a detachable, 7-inch, full-colour wireless companion, allows you to browse and print the web, watch movies, read books and listen to music. It's kind of like an ipad.

HP ePrint lets you print and share pictures, too. I can print off any pictures I want from my iphone, with just the a little click.

HP was nice enough to give me a printer to give away to one of my awesome readers, too! This printer is over $400, you guys—how awesome is that?

Just leave me a comment telling me what you love printing or how this printer will make life easier for you. I love printing off pictures of my children so I can quickly give presents to family members when they go away on long summer vacations.

This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only—to my American friends, feel free to enter if you know someone with a Canadian address!

Bonus entry: Tweet about this giveaway using the hash tag #HPCanada or #HPePrint.

Good Luck! I'll randomly pick a winner on July 20th.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Vacation

Half an hour into our drive to Ogunquit, Maine, my five year old asked the infamous road trip question: "Are we there yet?"


Yup, travelling with young children—whether by plane or car or train—is no walk in the park. Unless your walk in the park involves children, in which case, you know exactly what I am talking about.

We were prepared for this eight hour road trip, though. Thanks to my good friends at GM Canada, we got to travel in the new Acadia Denali, a huge vehicle with plenty of room for all our belongings. The best part? The built-in DVD player that my children made excellent use of. That, and the ipad.

And frequent stops. And plenty of junk food.

The best part about travelling in a vehicle (versus flying on an airplane) is that there is no such thing as 'over-packing'. I kept sneaking things into the truck, just in case. Like that extra pair of shoes, just in case...

Packing for the kids is challenging, but I've learned from all our past vacations that the more stuff you cram into the suitcase for them, the better it will be. Because kids get... dirty. And they go through at least two outfit changes a day, even if the majority of the day is spent in the ocean or by the pool. Ice cream spills, spaghetti sauce all over crips white shirts, and chocolate melted into little hands rubbed onto shorts means it's best to over-pack for them, too.

I have to say, though, my boys did amazing on this long road trip. They always travel well.

Even though my three year old decided to fight with the customs lady, because he didn't want her to look at him.

"Stop looking at me! Close my window! ARGH! Right now daddy, right now!"
And even though I had to break out the hazmat suit to take my children to the bathroom in some random truck stop off the side of some highway, USA.

"It's okay, little D. You can use the toilet here just as long as you don't touch a single thing and wash your hands for 10 minutes after and try not to inhale, either. OH MY GOD WHAT DID YOU JUST TOUCH? Don't touch ANYTHING! Ready? Go!"

...

"What do you mean you don't have to go to the bathroom anymore?"
I think I'm still recovering from too much Purell inhalation (and the shock of finding out the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial on our drive down) but we all survived.

My boys became experts at playing Fruit Ninja and negotiating who gets the ipad for how long on the trip.

Even though those negotiations include yelling, hitting, and screaming. They've going to make excellent world leaders one day.

I'm thankful my husband drove the entire way, so I could nap when the children were busy watching movies and playing games on the ipad. (What? Isn't that what passengers do on long road trips?)
We had an amazing family vacation, blessed with perfect warm and sunny days.

Our resort was beautiful, with an ocean view and two pools the children made good use of.


We enjoyed the town on our nightly walks, visited the Nubble lighthouse in York, and looked at the boats in Perkins Cove.



We also found the most amazing Mexican restaurant a few blocks from our hotel, with huge open windows overlooking the ocean. I felt like I was in Mexico, only much safer!


We ate plenty of ice cream.


We took trolley rides, shared stories, and laughed a lot.


I watched my five year old become fascinated with taking pictures with my Canon, and I even heard him ask for a better lens. A great hobby to have, no?


Of course, no family vacation is complete without a bit (or a lot, depending on who you ask) of fighting and yelling. Even with that, I wouldn't have changed a thing. Except maybe I would have packed a few more dresses because while I over-packed for the boys, I really under-packed for myself this time.


If you've been to Maine before, you'll know that no visit is complete without several trips to the amazing candy shops that are on every second street corner!


I felt happy and relaxed on this vacation, and very complete. Being with my family, inhaling the ocean air, and allowing myself to eat carbs were all contributing factors to my happiness.


It really was a picture perfect vacation.


With amazing views...




And good times...


And memories to last a lifetime.

The only downside to vacation? All the laundry that you have to do when you return home. As soon as I'm finally finished putting away all the clothes, it'll be time for me to pack again... for San Diego!

Cue anxiety...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On vacation

5 shirts
4 tank tops
5 dresses
2 pairs of jeans
2 pairs of lulu lemons
4 bras
8 thongs
4 bikinis
2 one-piece J.Crew bathing suits
1 pair of little beach shorts
3 pairs of flip flops
2 pairs of wedge heels
2 purses
1 beach bag
1 'books and toys' bag
2 backpacks
1 lulu lemon bag filled with 'essentials', like Advil, Gravol, flat-iron.
2 very full suitcases
1 DVD player
1 DVD player in vehicle
1 iPad
2 iPhones
A cooler full of food
2 pillows
2 blankets

All this... for a 7.5 hour road trip to beautiful Maine.

All this... for five days!

I didn't overpack, did I?

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