It is time to prepare for summer!!

itistimetoprepareforsummerThe talk on the playground is that nearly everyone is ready for summer to begin. Perhaps it was the harsh winter we had, however I am so totally ready for summer break. Breaking free from some of the routines, not having to walk to school and back, scheduling absolutely everything and getting out and exploring. I find it harder and harder to get the kids in bed on time, we are all longing for this break. Around here that is still 5-6 weeks away, however here are a few things to do now to make the most out of this summer.

  1. Host a family meeting – Take the time to brainstorm as a family and create a rough draft for a Summer Bucket List. Ask the kids what they hope to do this summer and write it all down. For example, we inherited a telescope that we have yet to try out, so I hope this summer we will gaze at the stars.
  2. Plan a family vacation – We are headed to Ottawa this summer for our family vacation. The kids are really getting excited about exploring our Nation’s Capital and it will be a really fun road trip.
  3. Stock up – This is the time to load up on sunscreen, bug repellant, bandaids and first aid supplies. I am also stocking up on bubbles, sidewalk chalk and outdoor activities for the kids, as well as water toys for the beach and fruit freezes for the warm days.
  4. Mom time – I find it really tricky to find time for me during the summer. I love love love having my kids at home, hosting playdates and being active all summer however I do need to figure out a better way to have some time to rejuvenate. Most summers the ENTIRE summer goes by and I do not see Suzanne, that is how focused we end up being on our families.
  5. Clean the vehicle – This is something I am dreading! It has been a LONG winter and our vehicles desperately need a good scrubbing before we go on any road trips. I also plan to get the husband to look everything over before hitting the road to ensure we are safe.
  6. Yard prep – Now is the time to get the yard kid ready and sparkly! We have started by getting the deck furniture out and raking, but we still have some work to do before summer officially begins.
  7. Birthday parties – I have two summer birthday children, and I have traditionally hosted the oldest birthday party before school ended for the year. That ensured all her friends from school could attend, especially with so many families going on vacations. I will continue that tradition for my youngest now that she is in school.
  8. The last day – When my oldest started there was a group of moms that would meet at a local restaurant with all the kids for a Last Day of School Summer Kick Off lunch. It was so fun, unfortunately that tradition faded away. I would like to figure out something, even if it is just with my own kids, to mark the occasion.

Ok looking at this list I still have a lot to do!!! Are you excited for the summer vacation to start? Do you prep in advance?


Now that the kids are all in school – Remaining a stay at home mom

remainingastayathomemomNow that all three of my children are in school, I have been asked a lot when I am returning to work. I have considered it, I even seriously looked at getting a graduate degree in my field. Ultimately, we have decided that I will remain a stay at home mom for now.

This is the first year that my youngest has gone to school. I somehow imagined it to be different than what it has become. It has been a lot harder on her and me to make the transition from home to school. She did attend very fun and laid back, preschool however most of her interactions have been with her siblings and older children. We have stumbled and fumbled adjusting to her peer group and have found some wonderful friendships along the way.

I miss my children when they are at school, and yet I thought I would get more accomplished while they were there. Granted I spend a fair bit of time, volunteering at their school (which I enjoy doing for the most part). Large parts of my “free time” are spent prepping, shopping, cleaning and managing our busy household. There is still so much I want to do, painting, renovations, DIY. My Pinterest is overflowing with ideas and wants and desires.

I will remain a stay at home mom so that my children have less hurried lives. They can enjoy big chunks of time that have no responsibilities, there is no where they have to be. The children learn how to entertain themselves. Although I am home with them, I do not design their play nor do I entertain them with structured activities all the time. Over the summer, my children typically do not attend day camps, in part because they are expensive, more importantly because summer they have a chance to explore what they want to explore. We go to the beaches, we play in the backyard, we go for bike rides and hikes.

During the school year, I enjoy being here everyday after school. We invite friends over, I also care for a few amazing kids after school that have become part of our extended family. I know all of my children’s friends, and they all feel welcome here. I have gotten to know a lot of the parents at the school and I know my kid’s teachers well. I sit on the Student Advisory Committee, so that I have the opportunity to be involved at the school. After school we cook and prep dinner together, we do homework and extra work, we listen to music and we always read together. I cherish this time with them, the screens are off all week and we are truly bonded as a family.

I am fortunate to be good friends with other mothers that have made the same choices I have. Witnessing Suzanne stay at home with her older kids has been very inspirational and comforting for me. Quite often the message from society is that we should want to return to work. People tell me how bored they would be at home and I am at a loss for words on that comment. Seriously, I have yet to be bored now that the children are older. I do confess when they were babies, there were some mind numbing moments when I was watching the clock waiting for my husband to return from work.

Mothers with older children also have shared that as the kids get older, they feel that they are even more needed at home. Children entering their tween, teen and even adult years benefit from the support of having a parent at home. When I have asked my kids if they want me at home, without hesitation they want me to be here.

This is not a debate which is better, staying at home or working. This is just my experience and what we have chosen to do. Every family is unique. This is just what works best for us at this time.

I look forward to the next few years, as all of us get used to this transition of the children being in school. I hope that I can balance the time even better, so I can pursue more of my personal interests and prep for more enhanced learning opportunities with the kids. As I said this first year was much harder than I was prepared for. I think that is in part because I took too much on, and due to being so heavily emotionally invested in my children’s well-being. Seriously, I wouldn’t have it any other way!



5 Important Nutrients to Supplement in a Vegetarian Diet

A few weeks ago, Raechelle wrote this post about her oldest daughter deciding she wanted to be a vegetarian.  It must have been something in the snow this winter because my oldest daughter decided the same thing shortly after Christmas.  I was completely shocked at first because she’s always enjoyed meat and I couldn’t imagine her passing up a nice steak or yummy roast beef, but the choice made sense to her, so we went with it.  (Look at me…rockin’ the letting go thing!)

When she first started, I knew very little about eating vegetarian – other than not eating meat. I made sure we had an alternative for her to eat when we were having meat and we also worked more fish and seafood into our meals, which is a good thing for everyone.  As time went on, though, she became more committed to it and I could see I would have to dig a little deeper into how to make sure she’s getting the essentials in her diet that had previously come from meat.

For anyone who knows me, they’ll understand my first thought…”UGH!”  Coming up with one meal to cook every night is pretty much the bane of my existence at the best of time, let alone coming up with an extra dish every night!  However, I’m very proud of her commitment and even though I can’t imagine ever giving up meat myself, we’re behind her 100%.5-Important-Nutrients-to-Supplement-in-a-Vegetarian-Diet

Here are five important nutrients to supplement with vegetarian eating:

  1. Protein – This was the first thing that popped into my head when she announced she was no longer going to eat meat.  I found, though, that there are lots of ways for her to get the protein she’s missing from meat, and bonus – they’re not all strange things that we (as a family of rather plain, pretty much “inside the box” eaters) would never have house! Eggs, peanut butter, almonds and hummus are great sources of protein and are almost always in our cupboard. Phew! Greek yogurt, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa are also good sources – we may not always have them in the house, but have started buying them more frequently, to give her a little more variety.
  2. Iron – As a female, I am acutely aware of making sure my girls and I get enough iron.   Normal-ish foods that are significant sources of iron are eggs, salmon, tuna, leafy green veggies, tofu, dried fruits, and iron-fortified cereals. Iron from non-meat sources isn’t absorbed by the body as easily as when we eat meat, so it’s best to eat these with vitamin C (tomatoes, broccoli, oranges and strawberries).
  3. Calcium – At this point at least, my daughter has only eliminated meat and not all animal products, so I don’t have to worry too much about her calcium.  We’ve already made the switch from cow to almond milk, so that won’t be an issue if/when she takes it further. In addition to dairy, green leafy vegetables, yogurt, tofu and calcium fortified orange juice can all help to add necessary calcium to your diet.
  4. B12 – I think of this as a “feel good” vitamin, so I know how important it is, especially as a female.  I didn’t realize, however, that it was something to supplement in her vegetarian diet.  Eggs are a good source of B12 (which I had no idea) and she loves loves loves eggs, so that was a relief.  Dairy, fortified breakfast cereals and fortified soy milk are also great ways to get additional B12.
  5. Zinc – I had no clue how important zinc is to a body!  It essential to your immune system, improves sleep and energy levels, is an antioxidant, promotes brain health…the list seems to go on and on! Most people get their required zinc from eating meat, but for vegetarians, they can supplement with dairy, fortified cereals and breads, nuts and tofu.

Just to be safe, I grabbed a multi-vitiman for her.  I would much prefer for her to modify her eating habits and get the nutrients she needs from actual, real food…but then, I remember she’s a teenager and the mulit-vitamin will at least give me some piece of mind. Getting her to pay attention to all of this will be a challenge (you can lead a horse to water….), but I’m hoping as she learns more about the process, she’ll start to realize how important it is for her to balance her diet and get what she’s missing.

Stay tuned for some vegetarian recipes that come highly recommended – I’m hoping everyone in my house will love them so I can avoid making two meals now and then. ;-) If you have any recipes your family loves, please send them along – I can use all the help I can get!


Seriously Decluttering Your Digital Life

Seriously Decluttering Your Digital Life copyI am at constant odds with myself, wanting to be organized and ultimately being a free spirit. Honestly, the time spent to be truly organized, I tend to think is better spent out in nature, at the gym, painting, creating, reading or writing. Yet being organized is good for my emotional well-being and I want to teach my children that there can be a balance between being creative and being organized. Constant odds!

I have yet to find a system to keep my digital life organized. I am clearly an email, hoarder. If the emails I have sitting in my in box where on paper, I would be seriously overwhelmed and completely buried in the chaos. That is what it feels like in my mind when I open Mail and see the crazy 2000-3000 emails sitting there. Since it clearly is weighing on my mind, I have decided to full heartedly attack this pile of chaos.

I feel like I need to start with emptying the email so I can start fresh. Once I get there, I want strategies that will help me keep it to a minimum.

So I took the first step and moved ALL 2000 emails to another folder. I cannot bring myself to delete them but they are out of sight for the moment. My goal is to have no more than 20 emails in my inbox at any given time. In order to achieve this I am going to start using the following strategies.

  1. Stop using my email as a to do list. I find I do not delete something right away because I want to do it later, like go to a sale or use a coupon. So I am going to create a To Do folder if I absolutely need to revisit the email. I will also try to delete the contents of the To Do folder nightly.
  2. I am going to use the Delete button, a lot.  When I read something that doesn’t need my attention or action I am going to delete it an drove on.
  3. I am unsubscribing to emails that do not interest me anymore. I collect email subscriptions like some women collect gorgeous shoes!
  4. I will respond as soon as I read an email. All too often I have the time to write a quick response, yet I put it off to do when I can “truly focus”. It is rare that any response needs more than 2 minutes.
  5. Turn off email notifications on Facebook. I am on Facebook often (perhaps too often!) that I do not need email notifications as well. I could not do this on my phone, so once I was home I went to Facebook > Settings > Notifications > Email.

Rather than feeling like I am being buried and chaos, I feel calm, peaceful and wonderful when I open my Mail now that there isn’t over 2000 emails looming there. Now to tackle my digital photos!

Have you ever been overwhelmed by your email or other digital items?


They Like Each Other…They Really Like Each Other!

 I was starting to think it would never happen, but they’re coming around!

theylikeeachother-1Our oldest two children are very different people.  So much so that sometimes, it’s hard to imagine they came from the same two parents.  He’s the rule follower, careful, people pleaser, while she’s more of a bull in the china shop, throw caution to the wind, and get ‘er done person. In spite of their differences, they were very close when they were younger.  We lived away from home and as it was just the two of them most of the time, they always had each other and had so much fun together.  Their differences in personalities never seemed to make a difference, or hinder their relationship at all.

Then we moved back home and sadly, all that changed dramatically – I think, due to a combination of other kids in the neighborhood, starting school and just having such different interests (he loves hockey, she hates it…she loves horses, he’s deathly allergic to them!).  It had become pretty bad over the past several years and one of my biggest worries was that they’d never be able to be friends, even as they became adults. I never questioned their love for each other, but for the love of God, their bickering was enough to send me over the edge!

In recent months, however, for whatever reason, their relationship is starting to come around, full circle.  They talk.  They tell each other stuff.  And yeah, they even keep secrets from us (this one kinda bugged me, until hubby pointed out that them learning to rely on each other is not a bad thing. I can see his point, so I’m trying not to think about it ;-) )

One really cool thing is that their groups of friends (or “squads”, as they refer to them) have started hanging out together at our place. Given that they’re of different genders, I think it’s especially neat.  It’s so funny to see his friends flirting with her friends…and with her, much to her brother’s chagrin!  He really can’t seem to get over his friends flirting with his sister, even though his dad and I have been telling him for years it was inevitable. It’s providing us with such great entertainment – we can’t stop laughing at his reactions to it. Another really cool thing for us to see is how he (and his squad) takes care of his sister, quietly, so no one really notices.  He’s very aware and concerned of who she hangs out with, particularly the guys, and even though she makes a big deal of being frustrated with it, I think she loves knowing he’s got her back.

I have a great relationship with my siblings and I always wanted that for my kids. I think your siblings should be the ones you know you can always count on and/or go to when you need something…anything really, and I was worried that the differences between our older two were going to prevent them from ever enjoying that kind of relationship with each other.  I’m now thinking that’s one worry I can happily cross off my list! They still have their arguments and moments when each one simply cannot believe the things the other one does, but overall, they look out for each other and that makes me smile.

They’re already talking about her going to visit him at school next year – which hubby and I aren’t so OK with at the moment, but we’ll deal with that one when the time comes.  For now, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy this very bright side of them getting older and more independent.




Free Comic Book Day – 2015 #Halifax


Although we are not like hard core comic book fans, my kids do enjoy comic books and graphic novels. I too enjoy a well written graphic novel and throughly enjoyed the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. There is something very nostalgic when one reads a comic book. As a child I adored the Archie comics and MAD Magazine. Of course there was the Sunday comics in the newspaper that was always a joy to read.

I encourage the love of reading in all forms, and love seeing the kids getting excited about different types of stories. We have attended Free Comic Book Day for the past three years in Halifax and have always enjoyed it. The stores usually have a lot of cosplay characters (so cool to see stormtroopers walking around!), merchandise for sale, BBQ’s, face painting and so much more.

Tomorrow is the day and the following is a list of local stores participating in Free Comic Book Day. The Halifax Libraries also are participating!

Free Comic Book Day Celebrations: Free Comics and Photo Booth

All Ages

Celebrate your fav comics and find some new ones to love!


Keshen Goodman
Saturday, May 2/10:00 am

Halifax North Memorial
Saturday, May 2/10:00 am

Alderney Gate
Saturday, May 2/10:00 am


3132 Robie Street
(902) 446-8233
2089 Gottingen St
Halifax, NS, B3K3B2
(902) 429-2398
5110 Prince Street
(Corner Of Prince & Lower Water)
Halifax, NS, B3J1L3
(902) 425-2140
3 261 Pleasant St
Dartmouth, NS, B2Y3S1
(902) 406-2699
114 Woodlawn Rd
Dartmouth, NS, B2W2S7
(902) 401-5794
Will you be checking out Free Comic Book Day this year? Be sure to check out the Free Comic Book Day website for locations in your area!



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


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


(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!


Friendships and Motherhood


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?


The Showdown is Over!

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


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.



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.