Monday, August 27, 2012

Vacations And Motherhood

My world turned upside down as soon as I become a mother. No matter how many books I read or how much advice I received from friends who were already parents, nothing prepared me for what I'd feel once my baby was placed in my arms. That love?

Intense.

My opinions, my views, my thoughts on everything shifted the day I became a mother.

I became a mother, and with that came a world of new responsibility. The life I knew before—going out for drinks every night with my friends, getting my hair done at my leisure, spending hours at the bookstore, weekly dinners out with my husband, watching movies in a theatre once a week, frequent vacations to sunny destinations where the only thing I had to care about was how many bikinis I was brining with me—those days were behind me.



A recent article written by a popular Canadian author was brought to my attention by Ali today and has caused some debate because the author left her 10 week old baby to go on vacation. I'm not a person who judges other people, especially moms, because I know there are many things I can be judged for too, and as a mother, I am all about supporting one another in our parenting decisions, whatever they may be. I do, however, feel strongly about the bond that is shared between a new baby and his or her mother, and to me, that means putting solo vacations on hold, at least for the first year.

I roll one way with the way I parent my children, and others roll the other way, and that's great. I know many moms that I respect and look up to who do things totally differently than me. They do things their way, I do things my way, and we do some things the same. It's all good.

I feel blessed to have a huge support system around me, from my parents, to my in-laws, to my grandparents. They are my children's caregivers, they're at every soccer game, and they are the faces we see around the dinner table several times a week. They help me take care of my house, and they're my "village." Being Greek is wonderful, not only for the food, or the family support, but because throughout the years it has shown me how much family is valued and respected. I know this is not unique to Greek people, not at all; but I do equate being Greek to strong family ties.

And with that, major guilt issues, of course.

I was on a plane before the age of one, and have been on countless family vacations with my parents. My mom left my sister and me for the first time when I was 18 years old (I swear there was no house party, mom!) and even then, she felt guilty. Which is probably where I get my guilt issues from. (I know, therapy, anyone?) I left my children on an over night trip when my youngest was two years old, and I felt terrible about it. Yes, my boys were fine, and yes, I ended up having fun, but going away without my children isn't somethinng I do frequently, and it's not something I would have considered before they were out of diapers.

I think it is healthy to go away a couple of times a year without the kids, and I DO, (I've been to Miami and NYC and Toronto this year without them) and I'm sure as my boys get older, I'll be able to go away for longer than three nights, but for now, this is what works for us.

Plus, I love family vacations that include my children. I want them to enjoy themeslves on the beach, swim with me in the ocean, explore new museums, and visit restaurants I love. We're a package deal! I feel that if I were to take too many vacations (different from business trips) without my children it would be selfish of me.

Yes, I believe a mother should be happy, relaxed, and have the ablity to get a away for an afternoon of shopping, dinners out, and mini-vacations, once in a while. We need to keep our sanity, after all!

But that first year of your baby's life? It goes by in the blink of an eye. Too quickly, if you ask me. I blinked, and my boys were no longer babies. I cherished those early days where even going for coffee without them hurt my heart.

To each her own in this wonderful world of motherhood... let's just remember that before we know it, our babies will be in university and off discovering the world on their own and well, that's a whole other blog post where I'm going to need a box of Kleenex to get through!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Love Letters

When high school came to an end, and my closest friends were going away to different universities around the world, we promised we'd stay in touch through letters until we'd see each other again. One of my closest friends moved to England, another friend went to Vancouver, and my best friend moved all the way to Australia.

Checking the mail was suddenly worthwhile because now I'd be getting letters and cards addressed to me, on a regular basis. I'd read pages and pages about the new adventures my friends were experiencing at univeristy, like falling in love, boyfriend problems, and living alone in new cities. I'd write back, updating my friends on the status of my life and what was going on. I cherished those letters and still have them stored in a wooden box in my closet.

Then the internet came along and changed the way we communicated forever. Letters were replaced with daily and frequent emails. The 4th floor at Carleton University had a computer lab that we'd all run to every morning to check our inbox. It was new, and really exciting. It replaced the old-school way of staying in touch, of writing hand-written letters on pages ripped out of notebooks, or on personalized stationary. And while I still totally love receiving emails every day, (a lot a lot!) letters and cards received in the mail are still more meaningful to me, especially from friends who don't often send things in the mail, like my best friend, who recently sent me a card the old-fashioned way, thanking me for helping her make the jump to start her blog. It was a big deal, because she's not much of a letter and card sender!

I recently teamed up with Hallmark (and very much enjoyed their holiday preview party in New York City a few weeks ago during BlogHer in the London Hotel!) to give away an amazing pack of greeting cards that you can send to loved ones and friends for special occassions. I received a similar pack and have been sending them out to people I love.

Just leave me a comment below telling me who would send a card to, and I'll pick a winner randomly on August 27th. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents. Good Luck, and happy card sending.

P.S. I also have a terrific Hallmark back-to-school giveaway going on on my shopping blog, too! Go enter!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From Summer Days to School Days

It feels like only yesterday I was listening to School's Out by Alice Cooper on the loud speakers at my son's school, as the doors opened, like right out of a movie, with hundreds of students coming screaming and running out with excitement. You know, like that scene in Dazed and Confused? Only with little kids.

How can it be that it's mid-August already? And why is it that the best season of all is the one that goes by in the blink of an eye? Why can't winter go by that quickly? Yes, I'm already hating on winter. Sigh.

We've had a great summer. We swam almost every single day. We went to the park, we went on walks through the ravine, we visited Lac Philippe, we went to south Florida with my mom and swam in the warm ocean for a week at our favourite Westin Diplomat resort, my oldest son turned seven, he played soccer for the third year in a row, and I went to BlogHer in New York City.

My family and I just got back from a great vacation to Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Great Wolf Lodge, too. This resort, you guys? It is Las Vegas for kids, and actually quite fun for the whole family. We all had a blast in the indoor water park, and even in the arcade. My sister and her family joined us for the fun, so that was an added bonus. It was amazing. The rooms came equipped with bunk beds for the kids, even though they ended up sleeping in the real beds, while my husband camped out in the bunk beds during our stay.


Now we're just enjoying the last couple of weeks of August by spending as much time as we can outside, inhaling the smells of summer, BBQing, and swimming, swimming, swimming. Before we know it, it'll be time to head back-to-school!

Sure, there is some excitement around that, because hello, staying home with the kids during the summer is exhausting, and thinking of something new! fun! and exciting! to do every day is... tiring. Getting back into a routine is something I think we are all craving right about now, right? I can't wait for my boys to go to school!

I'm also looking forward to back-to-school shopping. From new clothes to school supplies, I love taking the kids out to get new school stuff. Hilroy sent me a package of awesome back-to-school supplies for my boys.  From pencil cases to pencil crayons, my school supply shopping is almost done!
Hilroy is also giving away the same package to one of my readers, so if you have a little one heading back to school? This giveaway is for you!

Just leave me a comment below telling me why you are excited for school to start again, and I will pick a winner randomly on August 21st. Contest is open to Canadian and U.S. residents.

Good Luck, and I hope you enjoy the last couple of weeks of summer before school starts again!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

BlogHer, Take Three

Well, I'm back from my third BlogHer conference, and back from an incredible weekend in New York City.



There is always so much to process after returning from BlogHer. And a lot of sleep to catch up on. And a lot of laundry to do. Like, days worth. But hey, it's all worth it!


This was my third year attending BlogHer, and without a doubt, I'll be back next year for more. There is something about this conference that keeps me wanting more. There is never enough time to connect with all the people I love and am friends with, but it's just enough time so that when the conference is over, I realize how much I'm going to miss these fabulous 'online' friends I've gotten to know so well over the years.


I  attended BlogHer 2012 so I could see my friends, have a great time, learn a thing or two, and make new memories. I didn't even venture into the Expo Hall this year and as worthwhile as it is for BlogHer and for many attending, I spent that time on Fifth Avenue shopping in Saks with Ali and Jen and popping into Anthropologie, instead.

This year (not my) President Obama (how I wish he was!) opened up the conference with a live video chat. Bloggers are influential, smart, well-spoken, and clearly worth the time of the President of the United States of America. Hearing him address the crowd was pretty awesome. I saw Martha Stewart a few feet away from me, talking about her fabulous self and how she's not really bad at anything she does, making me feel pretty useless since I can't even cook a chicken, and I fell in love with Katie Couric, who made me crave a pair of Louboutin shoes real bad. The speakers? They were all inspiring. I sat with one of my favourite bloggers of all time, Liz, and with Stacy, my Mom 2.0 roomie. Thankfully, Marinka was nearby so I got to hug her real quick before Katie took the stage.

After pretty much the best night ever on Thursday, I woke up at 5 a.m. after a couple of hours of sleep to kick it with THE Rockettes. For the first time in my life, I packed running shoes in my suitcase, and ventured off to Radio City Music Hall to learn how to dance like a Rockette. It was... well, funny. And such a great experience!


Here are some things I loved about Blogher 2012:

My aweseome flight to NYC with my lovely friend, Ali Martell. Thanks to Ali I had no fear on the plane and we talked about apostrophe anxiety and how much we loved Mad Men for one hour, wondering why people don't still dress like Don Draper every single day of the year.


We also got to hang out with Justin Bieber at the Hallmark holiday preview party, and eat Christmas cookies.


Taking in the stunning New York City views. I've been to NYC six times, and I still cannot get enough.


Lunch at Sarabeth's near Central Park with my Canadian roomie Angella and Jen. Our waiter was shocked that we asked him how his day was going. "We're Canadian..." I told him.

Trying strawberry Pinkberry for the first time ever at the Sweet Suites toy party. (Thanks, Corine!) OMG. It's my new addiction, and sadly, it is NOT available in Canada.


Hugging Anna.

Hanging with my 2010 BlogHer roomie and good friend, Jessica. We had a great time and the talks we had were just... awesome. Like 2010, only the 2012 version.

Dinner at Tao with Titania and Jessica that took our night from good to fun-filled-too-many-drinks-consumed-incredible-conversation-with-tears-and-a-lot-of-laughter kind of awesome.

Seeing and talking and hugging so many fabulous, beautiful, smart people. Too many to name, of course, but here's a summary: Nicole, Tracy, Kate, Marinka, Jill, Karen, Sam, Elaine, Maria, Caitlin, Stephanie, Summer, Kat, Jen, Adam, Faiqa, Allison... the list goes on and on. I got to meet Burgh Baby, too, even though I don't remember, but here's proof:

That's a sign of a great night at BlogHer, no? Oh! And I finally got to hang out with Jim for more than one minute.


The entire conference was great. The city, the location, the people, the connections, the parties, the conversations, the quiet moments... everything.  It was wonderful.


I ended BlogHer 2012 hitting Duets in Koreatown for some karaoke. Duets was where we all ended up in 2010, but this year, I actually stayed more than ten minutes. Karaoke with a room full of amazing bloggers that lasted until 4 a.m. was a definite highlight for me. I got to the airport at 6 a.m., and somehow made it on the right plane home.

Was this conference worth it, worth three days away from my boys who were more than happy back home with their father and grandparents? Of course it was. Because I was happy, because I was learning, because I was doing something I love to do. Also because I was surrounded by some pretty great people who are smart, who are caring, and who get me. I love this community.

Till next year, my friends...

xoxo

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Seven

Seven years ago today, I become a mother.

Seven years ago today, my life changed in ways I didn't even know were possible. Seven years ago today, we welcomed a perfectly gorgeous newborn baby boy into our lives. Seven years ago today, I inhaled the sweet smell of my baby boy, and vowed to be the best mother I could be.

I haven't slept in seven years, but it's been worth it. All those sleepless nights, all the nights filled with worry? Worth it. One hundred percent.

My seven year old is a fish in the water, and has skills in the pool that make me think perhaps being the mom of an Olympic athlete just might be possible.


My darling first-born son is a very sensitive child and has a heart of gold. Sure, he's a mama boy, although not as much as his little brother is. My seven year old is best friends (in the whole wide world) with his father. The bond they share is a special one.



My big boy, he's smart, beyond measure. I'm positive he has reached a higher level of understanding math than I ever did, so for math homework, to daddy he goes. But when it comes to reading, he turns to me. We snuggle up together in his bed and he reads with me, or listens to me read to him. Right now we're almost finished the Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing series, which he's loved.

He loves learning, and he's always asking questions. He knows more about World War II than most children his age, and there is almost no topic we won't talk about with him, if he asks. He's my little curious man. He gets it.

He's always kind, being awarded student of the month over and over again for Good Citizenship. He is witty, too, making us laugh every single day.

He's also the greatest big brother.


He refused to attend camp for his age group this summer, so he could be in the younger group in order to take care of his brother. As boys, they're rough with one another, they fight, and they're very wild. However, they're best buddies. Their conversations make my heart want to burst out of my chest.

My seven year old is also very close to my mother, father, and sister. We see my parents almost daily, and the bond my boys have with their grandparents (my in-laws and grandparents included) is a special one. I'm so thankful my boys are surrounded by so much love.

I'm amazed how quickly seven years have gone by. How bittersweet.

Seven years... from bulldozers and diggers to LEGO and Minecraft... can't wait to see what adventures this next year will bring us.

Happy Birthday, little boy.

Mommy loves you more than you'll ever know!

Blog Designed by: NW Designs