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Help the Halifax Boys Honour Choir get to MusicFest Canada in Toronto!

Halifax-Boys-Choir

The Halifax Boys Honour Choir (HBHC) is having a fundraiser to help raise money for their upcoming trip to MusicFest Canada, a “by invitation only” Canadian music festival, in Toronto.  The choir won their invite after receiving Gold Standings at the Rotary Music Festival, in Newfoundland, in 2013 and are very excited to have the opportunity to compete at this prestigious festival with top performers from all across the country.

The fundraiser is with JK Apparel – the coolest leggings ever!  Come and pick up a pair of super funky leggings and support these boys in this amazing experience!  $5 from every pair sold will go directly to the choir.  Another bonus…the event is being held at Joelee’s Cafe, a great local coffee shop, on Dutch Village Rd, in Halifax.  Shop, support the HBHC, while enjoying a java and perhaps a yummy treat!

Where:  Joelee’s Cafe, 3471 Dutch Village Rd, Halifax

When:  Saturday, April 25th, 11:00-1:00pm

Legging Info:

“One size” – fits up to ladies size 8-10, $25

“Curvy” – fits up to approximately ladies size 16, $30

**CASH ONLY**

(Scotiabank right across the street  :-D )

Please pass on the information to anyone you think would be interested.  Bring a friend, your mom, your daughter and help the Halifax Boys Honor Choir raise the money they need to get to MusicFest Canada!

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Friendships and Motherhood

FriendshipsandMotherhood

Perhaps it was because we moved around a lot when my children were younger that I used to find it so difficult to find women to have a deep friendship with. However, talking to other moms over the years it seems to be a common theme and is often compared to dating. Ugh. I hated dating. I wasn’t good at it at all, I was awkward,shy and found it difficult to be open.

Now I am very fortunate to have found a small and amazing group of women that I have truly bonded with, shared my joys and sorrows and never fear being judged. I like it this way, I am not the type of person that needs a large group of friends. Especially since my focus is my family most of the time, more friends would be difficult to nurture. In fact my closest friends are just like me in that their focus is on their family. We typically spend time together when our children and spouses are at school and work. It may be huddled conversations while we wait for our kids at the school, long runs through the park or coffee dates, these times are when I regain my sanity, laugh, cry and feel like maybe just maybe I will get this parenting thing right.

In fact, I have been super lucky along the way, I have met some amazing moms that I was able to make that connection with. Yet there are just as many moms, if not more that I haven’t connected with. I used to feel that sting of rejection pretty harshly. Why didn’t they like me? My kids? Now I realize that it has much more to do with their own insecurities than mine, that is not personal that there is not a connection. In addition, our kids can be besties and the parents don’t have to be. In fact my best friends and our kids don’t hang out. They all like each other and get along, but my friendships are completely separate from my children.

As a stay at home mom, I know it would be brutally lonely not to have a core group of friends. When my kids were younger and we were new to this city, I was very very lonely. It affected the way I parented and my relationship with my husband. I found some friends, but none that clicked completely or they moved. That is when I started running. I would run and swim my loneliness away, or at least the negative feelings associated with being lonely. Then something pretty amazing happened. Suzanne (the co-author of this blog) approached me over Facebook to see if we could run together. We found that not only did we have larger families, we liked running, yarn arts and writing. We share struggles that are similar with parenting and anxiety. My other closest friend and I bonded with running and fitness as well.

It can be so difficult when we are running a household, managing our children’s lives, helping our husbands and perhaps working, to find the time to make and nurture friendships. There are times I am totally torn, do I meet with Suzanne or tackle that pile of laundry? Yet I almost always chose to nurture that friendship, like I would almost always chose to spend time with my kids. Like the time with my kids is valuable so are my friendships. Besides the laundry is always there, waiting and growing!

I never realized how my hobbies would attract similar people and how those friendships would grow into these deeply bonded relationships. I feel so blessed to have the friends that I do. This past week has been a harsh one, therefor my friends shined even brighter.

Have you ever struggled to make friends with other Moms? Ever felt lonely as a Mom?

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The Showdown is Over!

We’re usually a very tight-knit family, but when it comes to the playoffs, all bets are off!

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The race for an NHL playoff spot might be over, but it’s been a very intense two weeks in our house! The Bruins and Senators found themselves in a neck-and-neck race for a playoff spot and with each of my boys equally devoted to their teams, tensions were running high.

The loyalties of each of my sons to their favourite teams has been there for as long as I can remember. Our oldest was born in Ottawa and although he has no recollection of having lived there, he’s been a Sens fan for as long as he’s loved hockey. The same is true of our youngest, who I think, was born as the Boston Bruins biggest fan. We spent four years living in New Hampshire, but that was several years before he was born and still, he has always loved the Bruins. This season was a tough one for each team (and their fans) and as a result, they ended up in a race for a wildcard spot.

Every morning for the past two weeks, our 10 year old was up long before the rest of us, checking the outcome of the game the night before. If his Bruins won, he quickly made his way into his big brother’s room, to wake him and gloat. If he discovered a less favourable result for his team, he was very quiet, trying to avoid the inevitable “big brother” gloat that came when he finally got out of bed.

Regardless each game’s outcome, the two of them were like statisticians,  rhyming off all the stats and every possible outcome for each team,  depending on the results from the night before, and what had to happen for their respective teams to grab the coveted wildcard. It was so funny to hear them both talking happily together when Detroit and/or Pittsburg lost a game, since those teams were also vying for a spot.

As it turned out, we now have an ecstatic Senators fan and a very disappointed Bruins fan. It’s never easy for either of them when their team doesn’t make it, but our youngest really seems to struggle when his team falls short. Fortunately for him (and also for us!), the Bruins seldom miss the playoffs. :-D  I feel awful for him, but at the same time, I’m happy for our oldest who has remained a diehard Sens fan, despite their struggles over the years. He keeps reminding his younger brother how lucky he is to have been able to see his team win the Stanley Cup, when the best he’s had was when Ottawa won the conference title.

Even though they razz each other (a bit too much, in my humble opinion), I love how the race to the playoffs and then to the Cup can negate the seven year age difference between two brothers, which I’m sure will get even better as they get older. Our oldest was pretty hard on his little brother the day they realized the Sens were in and the Bruins were not, but our youngest was actually pretty good about it, proving that he too, is growing up. Now that everything is set (and the disappointment wounds are somewhat healed), the two of them will share their love of hockey and will thoroughly enjoy watching the playoffs together. Peace will be restored in the Burke house and we’ll be just a Senators family for as long as their run during the playoffs goes.  Fingers crossed our Ottawa Senators fan will be lucky enough to finally celebrate a Stanley Cup win for his team.

 

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I’m Letting Go….and it might just kill me!

At some point in time, every parent (especially the mom) is forced to start practicing the art of letting go. I’m at that point and I have to say, I never thought it would be so painful!

I'm Letting Go (1)I’ve written a few posts about letting go, in different contexts, but this one isn’t just about letting my kids start to do things on their own. This one is about truly letting go of them.  I have to face reality…my kids are growing up and whether I like it or not, I can’t control every situation anymore. It’s a particular challenge for me because we have two kids in our house who still need more focus and direction than the older two, who need us to start easing off on those things. It’s not easy to keep shifting gears between each stage of kids in this house. In earlier days, when my brain wasn’t so frazzled, I probably could have better handled shifting back and forth, but that kind of concentration is no easy feat for me anymore!

My teens (and perhaps their friends) might say I tend to be a little more strict than some of their friends’ parents.  A big part of that is because that’s just who I am…I am never going to be the parent that says, “sure, go ahead…whatever you think/want…(just stay out of jail!)”.  In fact, I’m much more like the parent who wrote this awesome letter to her children. But I also recognize that I am often guilty of trying to prevent anything bad from happening…like, ever.  Not only is it a bad idea to try and make sure no one ever has to deal with disappointment, but it’s also not humanly possible for someone to sustain this level of “fixing everything”.  I’m quickly realizing that for their sakes and my sanity, I have to become more of an expert in letting go (I say, as a chill runs down my spine).

This revelation came to me last week when my oldest asked to go out for a bit (on a school night) and then came home later than when I told him to be home.  He often arrives home past the time I give him, so we argued.  After the argument, it dawned on me that next year, I won’t be there to tell him he can’t go out on a school night, what time to be home, or anything else, for that matter.  Also, and most importantly, I realized that if we keep doing this every time he wants to go out, he might just remember more of the arguing and me being upset with him, than all of the good stuff.  And there is so much good stuff I’d rather him remember!

So, I’m letting go – or rather, giving it my best attempt.  I told him I won’t say anything about him going out, as long as I know where he’s going and with whom.  He looked at me like I grew three new heads. :-)  I assured him I’ll refrain from telling him he can’t go out and, within reason, I won’t tell him when he has to be home (and just so you know, I think I die a little bit inside each time I smile and say that).  I won’t be able to restrict what he does when he’s away at school (God help me), so I might as well get used to it.  In all fairness, we have really good kids.  I have to remember that and trust in all the time and energy we’ve put into teaching them what they need to be successful on their own.

I have to start asking myself more often, “will it matter in six months?” and really think about the answer before I react because usually, the answer is no.  And if the answer is no, then why the heck am I spending so much time and energy arguing about something that doesn’t matter?  It’s a work-in-progress and I’m hoping it will result in fewer raised voices, frustration and negative energy in our house.  Our two younger children deserve to have as much of our focus as the older two had at that age.  If I can get better at letting go, I just might have enough energy to give them that focus. :-D

Funny story:  the next evening, my oldest let me know he was going out.  I told him that was great and to have fun…no time to be home (again, dying inside).  Oddly enough, he arrived home five minutes before the time I had asked him to be home the night before. Looks like hubby is right when he tells me that some things just aren’t worth trying to control.

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She wants to be a vegetarian …

shewantstobe

We are a family that has been working really hard to change our lifestyle and eating habits. It has been a slow, rewarding process that I am quite proud of. The other day, our daughter (10 years old), approached her Dad about becoming a vegetarian/vegan. His first reaction was “No”, then he told me later about the conversation.

My reaction was quite different that his, I felt a mixture of pride and happiness for my daughter and us as parents. We have this amazing, smart, brave child that has thought about the world around her and is longing to make decisions that feel right for her. As a kid I was never that brave, and I promised myself that I would support and help my child’s wishes and goals thrive.

This morning, I briefly talked to my daughter about her thoughts on becoming a vegetarian. She has amazing role models, her Aunt is a committed vegan and we have a few friends that have chosen to be vegan/vegetarian. I explained to her that it is a process that we will have to take slowly, to ensure she gets all the nutrients that she needs and that I would like her to be part of the education of what a healthy vegetarian needs. I love that this is something her and I can connect with, we can pick recipes and cook together.

While preparing for this post, I skimmed the information out there. It appears to be quite common for tweens and teens to explore being a vegetarian and/or vegan. I know with our daughter her compassion and empathy for animals is a huge part of her decision. I also think, since we are very concerned with eating healthy and making good choices, this is one way she can explore that as well.

We are going to first work on being a healthy lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes both dairy and eggs. I also suggested that at least for the time being, she continue to eat fish once a week or so. I also explained that there is no “wrong way” or failure, that she can make choices and desires and wishes change and that is totally ok.

I look forward to making some meal plans with her and doing research on being vegetarian. I am actually really excited that this change could challenge me to cook more variety and healthy options for everyone in the family. I will keep you posted how this evolves!

Do you have a vegetarian in the house? Has your child ever expressed interest in going vegetarian? How would you react?

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Crochet Easter Baskets

 

HAPPY EASTER! (2)How cute are these?!

Year after year, as we put away our few Easter decorations, my hubby and I are cursing the Easter baskets that don’t really stack, fold, and/or store easily…especially the handles! I made one of these super cute crochet baskets to hold pencils and pens next to our wall calendar and thought how cute they’d be as Easter baskets, in pretty Easter colors. Not only that, they are relatively small, soft and easy to store…a.k.a. stuff into a bin! DSC_0982

I made my way to Michaels and as luck would have it, I found this yarn on sale and in the perfect Easter colors…Loops & Threads Zoomba and it was on for just $3.99!  The colors I picked were passion, rapid, cascade, and lightening (purple, blue, green and yellow).

The basket pattern is Small Raised Box Stitch Crochet Basket, from 4 You With Love (you really should check out all the great things on this site!) and each basket took me about an hour.  I followed the pattern exactly as written (very easy to follow instructions!), but I added on two extra rows (an extra row 5 and 6), before starting the handles.  I wanted to make sure they were tall enough to fit enough treats, so the kids didn’t feel they were getting “ripped off” with the slightly smaller baskets (although, I did get one comment from my candy-loving 12 year old that maybe they were a bit small for Easter baskets, “don’t ya think?”).  I actually think they’re going to hold more because they’re taller. :-)

Besides that one comment, the kids seemed really impressed with them.  And, next week when my hubby is putting away the Easter stuff, he is going to think I’m a genius!

Happy Easter!

 

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Springing into Spring Decorating

springingintospringdecoratingWhile the weather outside is still a little frightful in our parts, (we received even more snow), my thoughts are on springtime. Despite the late winter snow storms, time has flown by and Easter is right around the corner (ack this weekend). I really should be considering some spring cleaning, instead I made some quick and easy changes in decor to lighten it up and welcome spring and Easter. I didn’t do much, however I considered it a win when my oldest saw the changes and sighed, “I love my house”!

It is so easy for me to get swept up into Pinterest, daydreaming away, pinning like mad. I am never ever going to be able to do most of what I pin! So when my daughter quietly appreciated what I had done, it made me realize that even the small little touches make a difference.

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The mantle.

The bunny is new, found at Marshals. The peep stuffies I sewed for the kids a few years ago!

 spring3I had to update the chalkboard, it may have still had a New Year message.

Have you been know to be a pin-aholic? Do you decorate with the seasons/holidays?

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Muir Woods National Monument – A perfect way to spend the day!

If you happen to find yourself in San Francisco looking for an inexpensive family adventure, I highly recommend Muir Woods National Monument!MUIR

I can often be heard complaining about my husband having to go away more often than I’d like – which, really, is anything more than one night at a time  ;-) .  Even I have to admit though, it’s not always a bad thing in that we’re often lucky to be able to go with him.

We were recently very lucky to be able to join him on a trip to SUNNY San Francisco.  It’s been a heck of a winter here on the East Coast, so the idea of traveling anywhere snow free was very appealing to all of us.  One perk of owning your own company is that he’s usually able to pick his travel dates as per what works for us and this was one of those times – we were able to book it around the kids’ March Break.

Our trip was fabulous, with glorious sunshine for 13 of the 14 days we were there.  So much sun made it easy to work in several outdoor adventures, requiring no boots, hats, mitts, or coats!  One of the best we had was our visit to Muir Woods National Monument.  It’s a forest of redwood trees along the Pacific Coast, just 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The drive to get into the park was amazing in itself…for me, “petrifying” more aptly describes the narrow roads and heights along the drive, but I tend to scare easily.  As long as I kept my eyes up, I was able to ignore the drops off the side of the road and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

When we arrived, we found parking to be a bit of a challenge.  The lots are not very big and the park is super popular (people come from all over the world to see these enormous trees!), so I recommend aiming to arrive at the park early…like, before 10 am. We got lucky and snagged a spot on the side of the road then made our way to the start of the park.

Right from the beginning, before starting on any of the trails, we were awestruck at the size of the trees.  It’s so funny to see Huge redwood trees Muir Woodseveryone walking around looking up.  Before we left the house, I heard all sorts of “why do we have to go look at a bunch of trees?”, but I heard nothing of the sort after we arrived.   :-)  We picked the Ocean View Trail, hoping to get to the look-off over the Pacific Ocean.  The scenery in the park is breathtaking and the redwood trees are HUGE!  It’s really hard to imagine a tree could grow to be that big, let alone an entire forest of them.  They grow in clusters and act almost like a family, protecting each other and making sure the “family” continues to flourish…so cool!

Our chosen trail started on a wooden boardwalk, but quickly turned into a narrow and sometimes very steep uphill climb.  (Warning!  If anyone in your group has trouble with heights, you may need to do some coaxing to get them to keep going!) For the most part, thankfully, the scenery was enough to keep our minds off how narrow and steep the path was. The only complaint I have about the trail was the lack of signage…we walked up and up for well over an hour in search of the trail for the look-off and saw only one sign indicating how much further we had to go and finally ended up having to turn around to head back before we found it.  Back at the bottom of the trail, we promptly grabbed a map (don’t ask why we didn’t take one when we started!) to see how far we were from the look-off trail.  Turns out we had walked right past it!

Aside from our disappointment at not getting to look out over the Pacific Ocean, we had an incredible day…exercise, education, nature, plenty of sunshine and NO SNOW!  What more could someone from the East Coast hope for in March?!  Next time you’re in San Francisco, be sure to plan a day trip to visit Muir Woods – it’s a great outing that’s fun for the whole family!

 

 

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How to delegate when you are a Control Freak!

How-to-delegate-when-you-are-a-Control-Freak!I confess, I very much enjoy being the ruler of my universe. I clean, cook and organize everything absolutely perfectly. That is when I have enough time and energy to do so. Running a household of of five is a lot of work. When the children were young, it was easier to do it all myself, however now that they are 10, 8, and 5 it is time I let go of my reign of control, at least a little.

Here are some things I have tried and some I would like to over time.

  1.  Talk to other parents – Ask what chores their kids do. It blew my mind one parent told me that their children put away their own laundry. Seriously I stood there with my mouth gaping open. I could do that? For the last month or so, my kids have been responsible to sort and fold and put away their laundry. WARNING. The laundry is not put away the way I would do it. Yet it is extremely freeing to let it go.
  2. Talk to your kids – I have been really honest with my kids, letting them know that if they want to do more fun things, like going to the library or swimming or playdates, they have to help out. With meal prep, dishes, cleaning, laundry, snow removal, I seriously cannot do it all and be super mom and chauffeur to their every whim and fancy.
  3. Start small – It was so tempting when the laundry was a success to pile on more and more and more chores. I had to tone back and make sure laundry was the norm then I added other things into the mix.
  4. Let the kids do things they enjoy – My oldest loves, loves cats. For a long time now she is responsible for the health and well fair of our two cats, feeding, water and scooping cat litter as well as occasionally brushing their fur. My youngest really enjoys unloading the dishwasher, she gets a ton of positive attention. Bonus, it is usually just her and I in the kitchen, so it is quality time one on one together. My son is excellent at vacuuming. He is super particular and leaves no hair behind!
  5. Add onto old favourites – My kids have always cleared their own dishes from the table when they were done. Now I have added the next step, loading them into the dishwasher. It is not done “right” and after they are on their way I do have to reorganize however it is a step in the right direction.
  6. Switching it up – I want all the kids to learn to keep a household clean, organized and how to cook. I have started to bring the oldest in to cook, introduced my son to the art of cleaning a bathroom and the little one how to make her bed. It is easy to allow them to do what they are best at, however I think challenging them to do different chores is important.

I struggle to delegate because I want it to be done right, I do not want to fight with them to do the chores and I am used to doing it all. Although, having the kids helps lightens my load at times (other times it is more work to do the chores along side them) ultimately I believe it is important that they learn these skills. Contributing to the household also makes them more a part of it and respect our space more. I find, especially with my son, when he has to clean his room, he is invested in it and keeps it clean longer.

Do your children do chores? Do you have chore charts?

 

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Snow Days and Battling the Winter Blues

Snow-Days-andToday is another crazy, beautiful snow storm in our neck of the woods. We have had more than our fair share of snow in the last few months. I have noticed that in general people are seriously miserable about it. I can’t help but wonder if by doing so we are allowing the “Winter Blues” to overwhelm us.

I tend to be quite positive about the seasons. I try, although I do not always succeed, to find something to celebrate. Winter is an amazing season. The snow is gorgeous, the air so fresh and crisp. I love going for winter hikes, sledding, and skiing. One of the best parts of winter, is coming in after being outside, warming up by the fire, with a steamy cup of tea. To curl up with a good book, while the weather is fierce outside is wonderful.

I was taken quite by surprise this winter when I experienced the winter blues. It was a brief spell, I was mildly depressed, I was binging on foods and wine, my workouts depleted and nothing seemed worth it. Outwardly I was still trying to be positive, especially around the children. It felt like a constant battle to do everything and it was exhausting.

Thankfully I have left the winter blues behind me, even if winter is still blasting us with storms and snow galore! For me, I think if I would have faired better if I had not allowed myself to veer off my healthy eating and workouts. Here are some tips to battle the winter blues, since clearly winter is so not over yet!

  1. Eat healthy – So hard to do when feeling down, there is a very good reason it is called “comfort food”. However, all that good nutritious food, greens and vegetables, healthy fats and protein will help your body and mind stay clear when the skies are cloudy.
  2. Get outside – Seriously, the wind is blowing, the snow, the ice … get out, walk your dog or even down the block and back. The fresh air will do wonders for your mood and if the sun is out that ever important vitamin D will be a blessing.
  3. Don’t let it spiral – In these parts they talk about “storm chips” and stocking up on booze before a big storm. While the occasion night of Netflix binge watching and chips is awesome, especially paired with a glass of wine, don’t allow it happen too often. I so bad for this, it is a mental thing for me. If I have a binge night, the next binge night seems inevitable.
  4. Work on a hobby – If the weather keeps you inside, have something creative to do. Knit, scrapbook or the like.
  5. Start Spring Cleaning – I always feel so much better when things are organized and clean. When the weather is nice the last thing I want to do is be inside. So I set out to clean and purge while stuck indoors this winter. While it was difficult to begin projects when I was feeling down, once I was into it and it was done, I felt incredible. Great boost!
  6. Sleep – Those long hours of darkness work in our favour to get more shut eye. This will help your overall well being and when I head to bed early I tend not to binge eat! Win win!
  7. Hang out with your people – Getting social is a great way to battle the blues. I tend to feel amazing with my girlfriends. When my winter blues were at their worst was when my besties were off on sunny vacations.
  8. Read a book – Escaping into a story always helps me elevate my mood and the dreariness outside.
  9. Listen to music – Crank up the tunes and listen to upbeat music, around here we are constantly dancing around to Taylor Swift and I really like Kelly Clarkson’s new song (strangely since normally she really isn’t my thing)
  10. Plan a vacation – While we cannot escape due to my husband’s schedule, we can start planning road trips and vacations that we are going on this summer. It is fun to decide where we will go and what we will see. This summer we are heading to our nation’s capital, Ottawa for a family trip!

While staying positive about all the snow didn’t totally ward off the winter blues for me this year, I do believe that if we think positive, it will help.

Do you experience the winter blues? Have any of these strategies helped you?