About Me

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I work in the city but I love living in the 'burbs so much we moved there - despite my crazy commute. The closer I get to home, the more relaxed I feel.
 
This Mama can't wait to share all the fabulous finds and 'must have' things that come my way. After all, if something's great I've gotta tell everyone! 
 
Join me as I share the ups and downs of suburban living, my journey to be more creative and organized (even with 2 super active little boys) and a whole lot of this and that. While I live in Fraser Valley, B.C., it's easy to translate the suburban experience to pretty much anywhere - and even city folk love to leave the hustle and bustle sometimes!
  
And living in the most expensive corner of the country, it takes a little savvy to keep it all together.  I'll share what I've learned - and hopefully you will, too!
 
 
 
 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Time Out! - For Mommy...

Time out... wow - those two words apparently strike horror into the hearts of some kids (mine included).  Funny how being made to go sit in a chair away from all the action can result in pleas and tears with enough fussing that you'd think the end of the world was near.  Me?  Frankly I'd love a time-out.  Just think about it - a chance to go sit in a chair AWAY from all the action.  Peace, quiet, maybe a book?  I'm not really seeing the downside of this, are you?

OK, granted I'm not 3 years old and desperately in need of calming down. I haven't hit anyone over the head with a light sabre, thrown a car at anyone's eye, "accidentally" taken some one's stuff or told anyone they smell like farts. (yet) But I do think that I could benefit from some serious downtime.  Quality downtime would work, since I know quantity isn't really in the cards for me.  It's not often I get to remove myself from the hustle and bustle of being a Mom who works full time outside of the house, commutes forever (seems like it anyway), and spends all the rest her time doing her best to be with her kids, husband, and pets while trying to keep the home in some kind of order.

At work I help people in conflict (I'm a mediator and informal conflict management advisor by day) and I think I kind of do the same at home being a referee between 3 & 5 year old boys.  I'm a Mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, caretaker of my home, etc. etc. etc.and a writer.   Notice that my passion is last - that's what sometimes happens when our lives get busy.  Our passions go by the wayside. 

So this weekend I'm taking a time out.  I'm grabbing my netbook and heading to the local Starbucks to spend a few hours sipping a chai tea latte (or 3) while dreaming, plotting, planning and, yes, writing.    I'm gonna think up some stuff for my blog and then, when I've got those ideas out of my head, get back into the novel I'd like to finish.  It might take a long time to get there, but I think with a few time outs here and there (and I'll be naughty to get them if I have to!) it'll happen.


p.s.   this post was written while said 3 & 5 year old yelled and screamed at each over a pair of fireman's pants they both wanted - swords were involved, ninja headbands were worn and a brief break was taken by me at the end to comfort the one who got smacked in the nose by his brother with the aforementioned sword.   Seriously... I need this time out.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Minimize Monday - claiming my space

I've been staring at my office wondering how on earth I can make everything fit into this small space.  I store all the kids clothes in the closet (clothes to grow into - Nanna is generous, there are 7 bins - and I'm not complaining since I never shop for kids clothes!)  art supplies, books, office supplies, wrapping paper, my wedding dress, boxes of projects, more boxes of projects.  more 'stuff'...  Did I mention it was a very small space?

When I put my boys into the same room, I took over the little bedroom.  Then I went to IKEA. It was kind of putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, as I bought furniture and had a vision but needed to thin out first.  Have you ever assemble a sofa bed futon thing that you have to pull out to assemble in a space that barely fits anything in it?  Yeah.. let's just say it's tricky and I should have taken care of some stuff first. 

My goal is to remove the secretary desk with hutch that I have.  I love it, but it doesn't fit.  In order to do this some stuff has gotta go and I need to streamline here.  I will still have to use the closet for storage, but the room itself I want to be a space for creativity.  A place to relax and read, to write, to scrapbook and to sew.   Right now none of that is happening.  Well, I'm blogging, but that's all the writing that's taken place here in the past few months.

After reading a post over at Bits and Bites with Tina, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and now I'm going to commit to decluttering one thing at a time (more is good, but one is a must) each Monday.   Today I took out the bin of summer clothes.  Put them all into my boys dressers and then packed up a lot of old clothes of theirs.  Winter clothes are ready to be packed away, the too small stuff/ no longer needed stuff will go in a bin in the shed for the October kid's stuff swap meet that we'll attend.  ( a great declutter incentive!) So today I'm packing up one winter hat (too small) one winter coat (will be too small next winter), a bunch of t-shirts (also too small), a pair of winter boots (will be too small) and just to add in something I have some papers I'm recycling because they are no longer needed.

A good first Minimize Monday, I think. If I think of it tomorrow, I'll take a picture to add here.  But I think you can get a visual with the above description.   Feels good to say goodbye to a few things and now I can pack up the 'to keep' winter stuff nicely in the closet without adding a bin because I'll use the same one the summer stuff was in.

What are you going to part with?

ps.. I just saw that Mommy Moment is also doing this!!  Go there, too, for more inspiration.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Till Tales - Have you been overcharged??

Let's face it - shopping can be an exhausting experience.  And if you add in a couple of kids who, by the time you hit the cash register, are tired and fighing, you are just too distracted to pay attention to everything going through the scanner.
But you should.  And here's why.

True Till Tale #1

I got a call from my Dad today.  You won't believe what happened at the grocery store today, he tells me.  So I bite and ask for details.  It seems he paid his bill for the stuff my parents usually buy, and it seemed a bit high to him. Before he left the store he stopped and went through his receipt.  Sure enough, he noticed that the chocolate covered raisins - of which he bought about 500g - rang up at over a kilogram.  So off he went to stand in line at customer service.  After they went back to a checkout to weigh it, they found he was right - it was over 900grams overcharged.  So they gave him back his money.  As he started to walk away, he took another look at his bill - and he was charged a rather large amount for lollipops (for my boys).  So he turned back and said that he thought he'd been overcharged on all the items that went through the scale. 

He was right.  Every single item was wrong.  He got back over $36.   When he suggested this might be happening still and maybe others had been overcharged, he got a vague reply that maybe it had happened. Seriously - that makes me steam.  Just think - a couple hundred people have been through that lineup - and if the average amount overcharged is $25 - that's $2500 of overcharging that could have occured.  Likely more.  Since everything was charging close to a kilogram over, that's a lot of error.

After speaking with friends and coworkers, I was surprised at how many people don't watch as items go through the scanner.  And how many of them had no idea that things regularly ring up wrong. 

True Till Tale #2

For a long time now I've been most retail stores biggest pain in the butt.  I know who participates in the Scanning Code of Practice  and I watch them like a hawk.  I was first introduced to this when I bought a moisturizer and it scanned at $2 over the shelf price.  The woman at the customer service desk refunded the difference then gave me back the rest of my money.  I was surprised and she explained to me that when something scans wrong you will get it free up to a maximum amount of $10 and only on the first of an item that scanned wrong.  

I was hooked!   Some stores do it automatically, but if they have this posted on their door or at the till, and something scans wrong, I recommend that you call them on the wrong price and then remind them of the scanning code of practice. (nicely of course!) At the Real Canadian Superstore one manager actually told me that they only do it when the customer asks for it.  They've been better lately but I was floored when I heard that.  So now I watch and pretty much every time I shop there I invoke the code for them.  It's amazing how much doesn't ring up right. And it's not just there, it happens everywhere.  This is especially true on items that are on sale or clearance so watch those really closely. 

So the moral of my Till Tales?  Learn about the Scanning Code of Practice or if you live elsewhere, investigate what might be there to protect you.  And watch that register.  LIKE. A. HAWK.  If you can't watch it all go through - don't leave the store until you've gone over the whole receipt. Once you leave it's pretty hard to show you only bought a pound of something instead of 3lbs. Or that you only bought one unit of an item and not 10.  I'm willing to bet that by doing this you could save yourself around $10 a week on overcharges. 

Go forth and spread the word!  As consumers we need to be vigilant. It's more than a matter of principle, it's a matter of money in our pocket.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sweet Sleep

Getting Healthy - it's a goal I think most of us share, no matter what our level of fitness and knowledge is.  After all, the benefits are indisputable.  Who doesn't want to feel better, look better, live longer?   I'm struggling with it this year, though, and I think I might have hit upon why.  I'm tired.

Yes, I know, it's a parent's lot in life to be tired. But this goes beyond worn out from running around with the kids.  It comes more from deep seated need to get everything done - perfectly I might add - in an effort to keep up with what I think should be accomplished in a day. 

Have you ever looked at your 'to-do' list?  Is it longer than Al Capone's rap sheet?  Does it look more like Santa's list that goes on and on and on and... well, you get the picture.   It's never ending, too.  Laundry, for example, is one of those things that no sooner do you finish the last load than the baskets are filling up again.  Dishes are like that - and toys. 

You know what?  I think enough is enough on the overcommitment list.  I don't even have kids in sports so I can hardly imagine what some of you face on a daily basis.  Add to that a full work week crammed into four days and top it off with close to four hours commuting - each day.  Yep... I'm tired.  I stay up until close to midnight every night, wake up at 5am and often I'm interrupted by little feet coming to see me in the night.  It's not a wonder I can't get anything done.  It's not a wonder I sometimes find myself staring out into nothing.  My brain is tired, my body is tired, and it's hard to focus.

I've also read that lack of sleep is a contributing factor to being overweight.  I can see it.  You're tired, so you reach for the caffeine, the midday sugar fix (OK and the mid morning one and the mid evening one) and you make poor choices because you don't think clearly.  I also know that exercise is a great way to increase your energy.  But when you subsist on 5 hours or less of sleep a night, seriously - who wants to?

Perhaps it's time to turn off the light a little earlier.  Take the books out of the bedroom (and the tv if you have one - thankfully I kiboshed that when we moved to our house) and make the room conducive to nodding off.  There are so many benefits to getting sleep - your body has time to repair itself, your mind has time to quieten down, you begin to find a rhythm in your daily life,  your intimate moments with your partner (remember those?) make a come back, you eat less crap because you're not reaching for it to stay awake, your happier without the crankiness factor... Seriously, I could go on for hours. 

I am going to commit to heading to bed earlier.  Maybe not every night - but most.  I'm going to turn off the computer, put down the book, walk away from the chores I'm more staring at than doing, and let my head hit the pillow.  In fact, I think I might just take a page out of my kid's book and set up a routine that makes me prepare for sleep. Change into my jammies, brush my teeth, take a bath when I can (works for them, right?), have a quiet 5 or 10 minutes with a cup of tea and a journal and turn out the lights. 

I'll let you know how it goes.  AND I invite you to try it out.  Let's all head to bed at least 15 minutes earlier and work ourselves up to a good night's sleep.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

THE GREAT MYSTERY BOX GIVEAWAYS!


It’s not often that a Mom’s life has a whole lot of mystery in it – after all, we work hard to get our routines down pat, make sure everyone knows where everything is, and get everyone everywhere all the time.  It’s hard to find time for ourselves, let alone a little mystery (and secretly I think we yearn for it).  But once in a while something REALLY fun comes along…
I give you… the Great Mystery Box Giveaway!!!     I’m excited to be able to help promote this fabulous giveaway hosted by four of my favourite Canadian bloggers: The Knit Wit By Shair, Maple Leaf Mommy, Did You Know Canada and Talking Momcents.

I remember choosing grab packs as a kid. There was nothing so cool as getting that brown paper bag filled with… well… I didn’t know but I couldn’t wait to find out! And now – you have a chance to win a whole box! (way cooler than the paper bag)

The Great Mystery Boxes Giveaway!

Welcome to The Great Mystery Box Giveaway! Brought to you by your hosts: Did You Know Canada, The Knit Wit by Shair, Maple Leaf Mommy, and Talking Momcents.

Now's your chance to win one of four themed boxes, chock full of awesome goodies and mysterious prizes! Our four hosts have pooled together to collect over ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS in prizes!! The loot has been divvied up into four themed mystery boxes,with a little something for everyone....

The four themed Mystery Boxes are:
Baby - think new born up to year. (estimated value $200)
Kids - toys, clothes and other assorted treasures. (estimated value $220)
Health & Beauty - lotions, potions and other related goodies. (estimated value $330)
Box of Intrigue - Mystery, Suspense, Intrigue! (estimated value $310)



WIN IT


Four lucky Canadians are going to win some totally fabulous products. 
Four winners will be drawn, each will receive one of the mystery boxes.
All of the prizes included in the mystery boxes are brand new.
The total estimated prize value is just over $1060.
This giveaway is open to Canada only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mommy's Gone CRAZY or Too Many Toys!

It finally happened.... yep... I lost my mind.  Somewhere in the sea of toys and 'stuff' it disappeared.  And with that loss came a revelation.  I can't take it anymore.  And I think I'm not the only one.  After going all crazy ranting raving fishwife on my kids this past weekend (as in CLEAN UP YOUR TOYS!!!  Just put them AWAY!!! - I think the neighbours down the street heard my wail) I realized something.

They are as overwhelmed by it all as I am.  My boys are very very lucky. They are the only grandchildren on one side and the only ones living nearby on the other.  My mother, particularly, loves to spoil them with toys and tidbits.  I admit to a passion for shopping, and, well, it adds up to a lot of stuff. 

On the weekends, they still get up early and the rule is they play in their room until we get up.  Because Mommy and Daddy get to sleep in until the amazing hour of 7 (and sometimes even 8!) this gives them time to get into stuff.  This weekend the result was the disappearance of their bedroom floor.  And since they'd asked so nicely to go to the playroom, well, you can imagine what happened there before we got up. 

After Daddy was amazing and spent two days organizing and cleaning, they'd managed to make it look like we'd been bombed in just over an hour.  And the resultant cleanup - it never happened.  That's when I lost my marbles.  I'd taken six bins of toys to sell at the local kid's stuff swapmeet, so you'd think that would have thinned out the rooms.  Apparently I was wrong.

Yesterday I dropped one off at school and the other at Nanna's and got busy.  Big rubbermaids, ziploc bags for sorting, my beloved lined post it notes and sharpie at the ready - and I started to pack up the toys.  Into the box went the big trucks, the zhu zhu hamster track, the Rescue Heroes, the doctor's bags, the veterinarian kit...   I filled up four big tubs of stuff, plus removed a few large items and rounded it out with a bin of stuff for the garage sale. 

I left the boys with their Lego/Kinects (I told myself it was because it was educational, but really, it was too big a job to pack it up), cars/trucks, colouring books, their batman set, puzzles, the Leapster and their wooden firehouse.   We've got a few games out and we've blocked in a Friday Night Games night on our calendar to make sure we use them.   I wanted to pack up more, but it took me all day just to sort out and bag all that up.  

And so far, it's working.

They've been playing with their Lego/Kinects stuff for the past two nights and putting it away.  Their room looks fabulous, they want to read before bed - and already I can see they aren't as distracted as they were before.   I'd planned to leave them with a few cars, colouring books and Lego, but Daddy said that was me going overboard.  I'm happy to leave it as is, as long as they keep it up.  If not, I'm not worried - the new rule is anything left out at night is gone by morning.  They can earn back things (they have to request the item) through good behaviour and respecting their toys that are out, and they have to put something into storage to take something out.  

I'm almost done with the sorting/putting away and I'll share pics when I'm done.  The befores are scary, that's all I say.

So Mommy went CRAZY - and finally change happened.  Next is my office - after all, if I can't model it, then I can't expect it, right?