On Siblings

The other day, my children walked together like this:

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It’s not unusual for them to walk hand-in-hand. My daughter adores her big brother and the feeling for him is (mostly) mutual.

I often wonder how long this adoration will last. If they will remain close their whole lives or drift apart. If the 4.5 year gap will mean they will have little in common for most of their lives, or if it will bring a level of closeness to them, having less to argue about.

I’m very close to my parents but, to be honest, I’m not particularly close with my siblings. We don’t have sibling brawls or tense holidays or anything, but, on a day to day basis, I really have no idea what’s going on in their lives. Part of this is the physical distance between us- jobs have taken my brother and I far from home- and part of it is also the fact that we’re all so different from one another.

But the thing about siblings is they lived the same childhood as you. They understand your upbringing and formative years in a way nobody else does or can. Your perceptions of your childhood could be different but you did experience it together. Your spouse arrives late into your life and parents may depart early, but, in an ideal world, your siblings will have been there for the whole ride and will always be there.

Life is changing. Families are living further and further apart. So, you choose a new surrogate family and create a sense of family wherever you are. In the new world, your friends are your family.

But, though I hope Reid and Ramona find people to love wherever they are in the world, my wish for them is that they won’t stay away from each other for too long. That they will always feel the bond they feel today. That they will help each other face life’s obstacles. My biggest hope and greatest wish is that they will continue to walk the path together, hand in hand, just like they did the other day.

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What do you do with your kid’s art?

If you have a child in daycare or school, or you are just one of those super awesome Martha Stewart-type moms that does cool art projects with your kids all the time, you may have amassed a large amount of children’s artwork by now.

I toss most of Reid and Ramona’s art. I can’t stand clutter and, though it feels wrong to liken my beautiful children’s creative projects to “added clutter”, I don’t know where to put it all without making our small house feel even smaller.

I’ve resorted to editing voraciously. I have a small bin and, if it’s something I want to keep, I’ll slip it into the bin. But even my bin feels like a looming project. Like, am I just going to keep these pieces of paper in there forever?

ArtkiveI came across this article the other day that suggested using an app called Artkive to help with this problem. I think this is such a great idea. Sometimes snapping a picture of your children’s art is not going to replace the real thing, but it does serve of the purpose of saving the picture and having a visual of how your child has progressed.

Have you tried Artkive? What do you do with your kid’s art?

Photo via iTunes Store

How did you choose your child’s name?

I’m always fascinated by people’s name choices for their children.

Some of my friend’s choices have been traditional. Others unusual. Some have come with a story. Others were a negotiation. Some have shocked me. Others had long been decided. But all names, of course, have suited the child in the end.

My children’s names are Reid and Ramona.

Choosing my son’s name was easy. After watching season five of the Bachelorette, I fell in love with the name Reid and my husband agreed to it. Of course, I didn’t mention I got the name idea from The Bachelorette, otherwise Reid would certainly not be Reid today.

My daughter’s name was a much longer negotiation.

I have always loved the name Ramona. My favourite childhood book was Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and I had always envisioned my daughter would be just like that Ramona- slightly dishevelled, always curious and forever adventurous. But, I suppose the name Ramona is somewhat polarizing- either you like it or you don’t- and my husband was a “don’t”. I can always tell the other “don’ts” when they ask me if Ramona is a family name, with a quizzical look in their eyes…

So, my husband and I made an agreement. If the baby came out with a full head of hair, she would be Ramona. And if she didn’t, she would be Paige. And, sure enough, she was a perfect little Ramona, with her full head of hair. She actually looks so much like the book cover that I know it was always meant to be. P.S. My husband came around to love the name (obviously).

Choosing a name is hard! There is so much pressure to “get it right” and, though there are so many possibilities to choose from, it suddenly feels like there’s no good options when the pressure is on. I like this article that goes through what expecting parents need to consider before make this seemingly monumental decision. So true.

Does your child’s name have a story? How did you choose?

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Photos taken by my sister-in-law and her photography partner, located in the Calgary area.

Weeknight Slow-Cooker Recipes

About two days into my new job, Paul and I started to wonder how we were going to put a home-cooked meal on the table every night by a reasonable hour. I’ve been a working mom before, but I was never a working mom battling GTA traffic. It adds a whole other dimension to the complexities of a dual income household.

Enter: the slow-cooker.

I love love love my slow-cooker. But so many slow-cooker recipes involve cooking a bunch of ingredients before throwing them in the slow-cooker. Doesn’t that negate the benefits of using a slow-cooker? My go-to slow-cooker recipes have one rule: they should require just throwing a bunch of ingredients into my slow-cooker and then going about the rest of my day. Most times, this means chicken recipes since ground meats usually need browning first.

Here are my five favourite slow-cooker recipes that require limited effort. Just add some simple vegetable side dishes and – ta-da- dinner is served before my kids melt into a puddle of tears.

Chicken Taco Chili

Pulled Barbecue Chicken

2 Ingredient Paleo Crockpot Chicken

Santa Fe Chicken

Mexican Flank Steak

Do you love your slow-cooker as much as I do? Link your favourite slow-cooker recipe in the comments. I’m always on the look out for new recipes to try.

Do You Have a Bucket List?

A recipe blog I read posted a 30 before 30 list. I thought that was cool idea so I decided to write my own. Sadly, I’ve already passed that age 30 mark, so I wrote a 40 before 40 list instead. That’s a lot of things- and not a lot of time- so I’ll have to work quickly (and maybe win the lottery, based on how many trips I want to take). Do you have a bucket list? Tell me- what’s on yours? 

My 40 before 40 list (in no particular order):

  1. Visit the Grand Canyon.
  2. Make an apple pie from scratch.
  3. Go to New York with my Mom.
  4. Go hiking in Utah.
  5. Take Reid and Ramona camping.
  6. Go to the beach in Montauk, New York.
  7. Rent a condo in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
  8. Make homemade gnocchi.
  9. Go on a family ski trip with Reid and Ramona.
  10. Take Reid and Ramona to Disneyland or Disney World.
  11. Take swimming lessons to improve my stroke.
  12. Participate in a triathlon.
  13. Go to Europe with the family.
  14. Finish my PR certificate.
  15. Take an art class.
  16. Take a cooking class.
  17. Learn to use the BBQ.
  18. Run in the Big Sur, California half marathon.
  19. Try canning jam or pickles.
  20. Cook every single recipe in one of my cookbooks (probably my Oh She Glows cookbook).
  21. Host a turkey dinner.
  22. Buy an original oil painting.
  23. Rent a cottage in the Muskokas.
  24. Go mountain biking in California.
  25. Have a professional decorator or designer decorate one room in the house (extra points if that designer is Sarah Richardson).
  26. Take a girl’s trip with my high school best friends.
  27. Bake a three-tiered cake that looks and tastes good.
  28. Do a DIY project in the house.
  29. Go on a trip with just Paul.
  30. Go to Kauai.
  31. Take french lessons.
  32. Learn to do a yoga headstand.
  33. Go to New Orleans.
  34. Complete the Whole30 program.
  35. Complete the Around the Bay 30K Road Race.
  36. Go apple picking.
  37. Host a games night.
  38. Start a book club.
  39. Rent a yurt in Algonquin Park.
  40. Take Reid on a City Sightseeing Bus Tour of Toronto.

Phew. It’s going to be busy. Have you been to any of the places I want to go to? I’ve been dying to go to Utah and Arizona to hike and bike for as long as I can remember.

(Photo in header via On Montauk)

The Mom I Want to Dress Like and the Mom I Actually Dress Like

Something happened to me last year. I started to get lazy.

It started innocently. When my daughter was a newborn, I ended up wearing workout gear at all hours of the day.

In my defence, it seemed practical. See, I knew I would go for a run later that day and, really, why change my clothes twice? Or take two showers in one day for that matter?

When I came to the realization I needed a yoga pant-intervention, I decided that the best approach would be to come up with a “uniform” for my maternity leave. This uniform would consist of a white t-shirt, jeans, and some kind of scarf and accessory. Practical, casual, yet still pulled together. And, since I’d be wearing almost the same thing everyday, I wouldn’t have to think too hard about what I was going to wear. Slowly but surely, however, I got lazy with the accessorizing, and ended up just wearing jeans and a white t-shirt everyday, which inevitably had stains on it because children touch dirty things and then touch you.

If it seems like I’m thinking too hard about my clothes, it’s probably because I am. But when I feel like I don’t look pulled together, I don’t feel pulled together- it’s as simple as that. “Dress for the life you want”, they say. I get it. It’s an energy shift.

So, with that, I pledge to up the ante on my casual wear for fall and here are five items I hope to pick up for my closet.

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Cable-Knit Boatneck Pullover / Wool Back-Zip Sweater

Tartan Plaid Scarf / Black Jeans / Plaid Shirtdress

Header Image via Marie Claire UK

What I Learned During My (Now Successful!) Job Hunt

I started looking for a job in May and got an offer in October. That’s six months. Maybe to you that doesn’t seem like a very long time. Maybe it does. To me, it felt like F.O.R.E.V.E.R.

But, now that the search is over, I have the benefit of hindsight. As Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” I guess you could say I am beginning to have faith that my dots will connect.

So, now that I can see the forest for the trees, here are three things I learned during my job hunt:

1. Never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” – Rob Lowe, via the Nerdist Podcast

After the second month of job hunting, I started to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?“. And after month four of the search, I became absolutely convinced something was wrong with me. I felt like I had lost myself and wondered if I’d ever be able to get my career, and my life, back on track. Social media only exasperated my feelings of inadequacy, especially because almost everyone I follow on Instagram is a successful business owner. Also, I have super awesome friends who are all doing super awesome things. But, as Mark Twain said, “Comparison is the death of joy.” Self-comparison truly was robbing me of my joy. The most useful advice I received is that we are all in different places in our journey so it is unnecessary to compare your progress to someone further along because you may eventually end up in the place you want to be anyways.

2. Let others help you.

My natural inclination is to not ask for help and do everything myself. But, if there is ever a time to ask for help, it’s when you are job hunting. I did things uncharacteristic to my somewhat introverted personality, like email people I didn’t know to ask if I could meet with them to learn about their career path. While some of my requests didn’t go anywhere, some of them did, and each of the meetings offered me a piece of advice I was able to integrate into my job search, whether it be a change to my resume or a recruiter to contact. In the end, some of the advice that was offered ended up being game-changing.

3. Your aren’t in it alone.

My husband calls me Eeyore (lovingly, I’m sure). He sees the upside of everything and always says, “Just try it.” when I’m listing five thousand reasons why something is a bad idea. His positivity sometimes makes me crazy because occasionally it doesn’t appear rooted in reality, but I’m certain our children will benefit from having a father that believes in them without exception. My husband was great at reminding me that I wasn’t in this job hunt alone- that we were a team who, as individuals, have a vested interest in each other’s success. Job hunting is a lonely journey, so don’t go it alone. Find someone who understands what you are going through- whether it be a friend or a person you met at an employment networking group- because you’ll need the support when the going gets tough.

Have you had to learn similar lessons? What were yours?

(Image by Lauren Proctor)