Let’s get it started

I took my daughter out to buy some reusable containers for both of us to take snack to school in. She picked out a couple of containers, a couple of reusable snack bags, and then as we browsed around Terra20 she started asking me when it will be time. She’s got all her supplies, she’s got some new clothes, she’s got her indoor shoes, she’s done the school bus safety course. She wants to know when it will finally be time to go.

I totally understand this. I was always the kid who loved school, loved getting ready, loved going back.

I’m thrilled that she’s so ready, I’m excited that she’s excited but right at that exact moment I found myself not so ready at all.

I did not cry in the store, I only almost cried.

I’ve spent so much time this summer thinking about how exciting it will be that I haven’t let myself mourn this part of our life that we’re losing. The waking up when we feel like, snuggling together in bed, choosing our plans for the day.

She’s so big, so grown up, but so little at the same time. When she uses words like startling and odd I forget that she’s only four. she only four. She’s smart and she’s tall, but she’s a little kid with little kid emotions and little kid fears. And little kid hopes and optimism.

She will love school. She will make friends. I have heard nothing but good things about her teacher, and even great things about her bus driver. She will be fine. She will still want to snuggle with me some days. She will still run to hug me when she gets off that bus.

When she needs me I will always be there, but this is the beginning of her not always being there when I turn around.

There she goes

There she goes

Running for a cure

This post was generously sponsored by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.CIBCrunforthecure.com 

Four years ago I walked the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure pushing a stroller, doing it for friends, fitness and my daughter.

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Finishing (photo by Sara McConnell before she was Sara McConnell Photography)

This year I’m going to do it in a walk/run, pushing myself to best my time –  I hit around the 45 minute mark – and run as much as possible. I don’t know at this point if I’ll be able to run the whole or even the majority of the 5K, but October is still three months away.

When I exercise my face turns bright red

When I exercise my face turns bright red

I’ve been pushing myself a little bit for a couple of months now. Focussing on health, pushing myself to run and finding that I can do things I never knew I could do (run for three minutes straight? Let’s try it I guess). One of my proudest memories is knowing how much my legs hurt during the second half of that walk four years ago and knowing that I pushed through it and I was okay. What I did that day helps me push through more now.

Of course, the strength that I’m building is about one half of one per cent of the strength that those who are diagnosed with breast cancer need to have. If you want to learn more about some of the women who are living that life, go read Laurie’s blog. She’s the one who recruited me to do my last CIBC Run for the Cure and she’s connected me to the stories of a lot more women who are living with cancer.

Participating in the CIBC Run for the Cure is my way of supporting those women, fundraising for research to help them and their families and all men and women who may face down this disease in the future.

If you’re up to it you can register to walk or run here, or if you’re feeling generous my fundraising page is here and I am currently at 20 per cent of my goal. You can also talk more about the run and breast cancer screening with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure on Facebook or Twitter.

This post was generously sponsored by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.CIBCrunforthecure.com 

Late nights

I should be asleep. It’s been a very long week. Lots of driving, lots of tidying, trying to get back to a normal life while preparing for our whole new life that starts in two weeks. The kid starts school, I start school, we learn a whole new schedule. I’m not sleeping, I’m lying here watching reruns of Project Runway and petting my dog.

I’m thinking about how I’ll handle everything this fall. Whether I’ll still be able to exercise or if I’m going to lose that part of my life again. Whether I’ll be able to feed and fuel myself and whether Ill be able to get the kid nutritious snacks to keep her going all day.

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I’m wondering what the stress of juggling all these balls will do to my marriage. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to keep my house tidy and make sure that dinner happens. I’m wondering if my budget will work out and I’ll be able to stay on top of things. I’m wondering if I have it in me to write a 20 page essay after seven years.

I’m excited about this new life we’re beginning, but the details are totally overwhelming. How can I stay on top of it all? Can I do the things I need to do and the things I want to do?

And most important, will my daughter suffer for the change?

Love, sweat and tears.

What I learned from Rupaul

I started watching Rupaul’s Drag Race as soon as it came to Canada. I have downloaded every season (legally) and watch them all over and over again. I look forward to every next season, I root for my favourites. I breathe it all in. There are many things I have learned over these six seasons, including a whole new vocabulary, and many things any woman should know:

1) Every body is beautiful

Drag queens study the female form and appreciate every body. They are all about emulating and beautifying. If only all women could see themselves as the beautiful objects drag queens see.

2) The appropriate definition of bitch

Straight from the lips of Ms. Latrice Royale: Being In Total Control of Herself. Call me a bitch.

3) When someone is criticizing you, remind yourself it’s like water off a duck’s back.

4) I am a Glamazon

5) It’s important to be able to laugh at yourself. And no one can make you laugh at yourself better than Bianca Del Rio

IMG_08516) If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?

 

She’s all Daddy

My kid is a performing. I’m not sure if this is her “thing” or if it’s a totally normal 4-year-old trait that she’ll grow out of, but holy man.

During a car trip the other day, one that took about half an hour, she performed songs, made up characters and cracked (terrible) jokes.

She sang Everything is Awkward to the tune of Everything is Awesome.

She pulled herself up to my seat – “Hey, mommy, got any grapes?”

(Apologies for the earworm).

Sometimes I can’t even wrap my head around this kid.

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She’s totally ridiculous, and she’ll tell you so.

Daddy's girl

Daddy’s girl

I don’t know what she’s going to do with her life, but she has a lot of energy to give whatever she chooses.

Dear Jack

You’ve been gone for three years as of today. It’s been a lot and very short time. We drove past Hudson on our way home and I thought of you and started crying. I couldn’t help it.

My daughter asked me why I was crying and I told her it’s because I miss my friend Jack. I try to talk to her about you. Someone very special who wanted to make the world better.

“We should make the world better, Mama.”

I still want to be your legacy, I want my daughter to be your legacy. That’s part of the reason I’m going back to school in a couple of weeks. I’m finishing my honours and I’m going to get a Masters in Political Management so I can work in political advocacy and feel like I’m doing my part.

I do know that I won’t go a day talking about politics without relying on my experiences in your office. It was a privilege being one of your people.

There are times when I’m still overtaken but how unfair it all seems, to have hit that peak and then lost you, our leader, our guide.

But I watched you and learned from you and we shall move forward, because we have to. Ever progress.

Back to School!

A little #ThrowbackThursday for you: My first day of school

A little #ThrowbackThursday for you: My first day of school

I have always loved back to school time. I love shopping for fall clothes, I love comparison pricing school supplies – seriously, since I was a kid. I love new pencils and new notebooks. I love the fall. I love browsing the office supply aisles and I buy new pens just to try them out and see how they feel. I have a shelf full of blank notebooks in my office, waiting for me to choose them.

You remember that Staples ad with the song “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”? Yeah, that’s me.

This year is pretty special because I’m going back to university and my kid is starting full day kindergarten so there will be lots of firsts and figuring things out. I’ve already made a back to school pin board. I was very excited to take her out for her supplies – a new backpack, a new lunch box. This is the beginning of an annual tradition for us. Something special that we can do every year together.

Now it’s my turn to figure out what I need for my new life as a working mother and university student.

I am thrilled to have found the perfect backpack for me from Lug. I’ve got an iPad and a bluetooth keyboard to take great notes. And I’m thrilled to say that Staples sent me a new portable scanner that I plan to use to scan handouts from my classes as well as all the wonderful memories and artwork that my daughter brings home from her school days.

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As for other supplies, I have always been the prepared student. I carry tissues and water, I have a pencil case fully stocked with extra pens, pencils and erasers, a mini stapler and scissors just in case. For my brand spanking new pencil case I’m going to visit Staples to get one of their Me to We pouches. Proceeds go to Free the Children. I need highlighters, Post-Its and cue cards, cause that’s how I study – repetition baby.

Disclosure: Staples Canada very kindly sent me a Brother Mobile Colour Scanner. All opinions are my own. Yes, I do love back to school this much. And office supplies. Really. 

Times they are a-changin’

That moment that I thought would never come happened yesterday.

We went to a park before heading out on the road to start out trip home. I wanted to get going, I had a long drive ahead of me. I started my countdown. I gave her 10 more minutes. I went to get her to tell her it was time.

“But I don’t want to leave, can I please have more time?”

“Okay, how about five more minutes?”

“Okay.”

And off she went to play.

There was no meltdown, there was no yelling, there was no carrying her kicking and screaming back to the car. There was a conversation, politeness and an agreement. When those next five minutes were up she still didn’t want to leave but we did.

I used to cringe just thinking about getting her to leave a place. After a bad tantrum I used to not want to go to a park again. I used to wrestle her into her car seat and then slam the door and cry.

And now she’s 4 and starting kindergarten in two weeks and she’s grown up. And it makes me want to stop those moms with babies on the street and tell them how fast it goes just like other moms told me. So fast. I could get whiplash.

I have no doubt in my mind that she’s ready for the changes that are coming up. She’ll enjoy school and behave herself there. She’ll make friends. The teachers will love her.

But this is the end of an era. The her and me times. We’ve been such a great team the two of us, having adventures for four years. This is the start of a new life, living with school year and summer. I’m going to miss her, and mourn the times we’ve had, when I was a stay at home mom and she was always up for adventure.

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A delightful surprise from #TargetBacktoSchool

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I am very excited to be able to share something happening in my city today downtown. Just in time for back to school shopping (and I love back to school shopping) Target Canada is surprising shoppers at their Billings Bridge Mall location with special treats.

Starting at 11 am they will pick random guests and award them with rewards – anything from a cup of coffee to a free trip to Target. They want visitors to the store to be surprised and delighted. The surprises will stop at 4 pm.

Now I already took my daughter to Target for her back to school supplies. She doesn’t need much this year, but I still loved picking them out with her. Her crayons, her glue sticks and her very own lunch bag. Doc McStuffins, naturally.

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I have to go back to pick up some more clothing basics for the fall.

I also get to give away a $100 Target gift card to one of my readers, so comment below for your chance to win. I’ll pick a winner at random tomorrow (August 18) at noon ET.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post, but I am genuinely excited about back to school shopping.

 

ETA: Congratulations Kamerine – check your inbox

My country’s made of trees

I love this country. I am so proud and privileged to be a Canadian, and I rarely feel that more than when I’m driving across it. A decade ago I went west, Ottawa to St. Paul, Alberta (where it was suggested to me that I not tell anyone I was from Ottawa).

This year I’m driving east and I got to bring my daughter along. Now, we visited PEI last year but there is something so spectacular about driving – and thank you GM Canada for the Chevy Traverse that we are doing all that driving in.

It is all hills and trees and natural beauty and there are times, through Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that I wanted to cry.

I did cry when we got lost in Fredricton, but I digress…

On this trip we have stopped at the Hopewell Rocks and walked on the bottom of the ocean. We visited Peggy’s Cove and jumped around the rocks in one of my favourite places. We went on a tour of Halifax and drove up Citadel Hill. We went whale watching and got to sail beside four humpback whales.

This is my home, I love it so dearly.

We are by no means perfect here, and we’ll be the first to admit it. We’ll make fun of ourselves freely and debate over this that and the other thing, and we have the full freedom to do so.

O Canada, it’s a privilege.

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