Monday, February 23, 2015

Saying Grace at Dinner

We are not a religious family in an organized and regimented kind of way. My mom and I go to church once a year at Easter. It is a tradition her and I developed after our family moved to Canada. It made my mom feel closer to all the family we left behind and it gave her and me an opportunity to bond in a new setting. But beyond the everyday commandments of don’t lie, steal, cheat and do respect your parents, there’s not much from the traditional religion that we uphold on the daily.

However, I would like to borrow the tradition of saying “grace” as a family before dinner.

I have been frustrated lately with ways I see our oldest taking for granted things in her life. The attention, time and patience of family, the warmth and comfort of a well set up home, the variety of food that’s available to her, nice clothes she has, the expensive vacations (notice my slide into everything material). I also think that I’m not alone in my frustration. I’ve spoken to many friends with children around my daughter’s age and it is an epidemic out there.

Huffington Post ran an article on saying “grace” with children at mealtimes. Reading the article I kept nodding my head [yes(!)] my family could very much benefit from a little more gratitude in our lives. We as parents can make these moments as involved or as simple as we wish, with little or no reference to religion. 

We all know the virtues of eating meals as a family, even a family with very small kids (here, here and tons more). It seems that taking a moment to be grateful at the beginning of the meal might help settle frustrations and arguments of the day and help set a more pleasant tone for the other discussions that we should be having with our kids at meal time. 

But also, I think saying “grace” would benefit the adults in the family too. Sometimes we are so run down with working and caretaking tasks that we forget to see the forest for the trees—to take the moment and be grateful for each other. Going around the table and asking people what they are grateful for today is a great habit for everyone (couple, individual, group of people, everyone (!)).

Will you try it? Are you doing it already?

PS. The article also gave the genius tip on teaching teenagers to be grateful for their shiny new smartphones. Get them the phone (you know you’re going to anyway) under the condition that they take on a “picture a day” project to documents what they are grateful for on daily basis. It might just make that smartphone worth it.

Links I want to share today:

Like everyone it seems, we’re counting days and hours to spring. This year we want to take up biking as a family in a serious way. We’re thinking the Burley D’LITE child trailer might be a great choice for us as we would also be able to use it as a regular stroller. My only concern is how easy it would be to unhook the trailer from the bike and install the 2-Wheel Stroller Kit.

I have been considering a gallery wall in our dining room since we moved in (need to find a new home for the fig first!). This spring/summer might be the time to do it. I’ve had my eye on these White Wash Frames for a while now and they are 50% off right now. Stars might be aligning in my favour!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

so... what have you been up to?

I recently read a blog post "You Are What You Share", and it turned into an avalanche of self reflection on my relationship with blogging. I was struck by author's words:

"The fear of being judged is palpable, and the digital trail we leave behind makes it feel more real and more permanent"


"Sharing an idea you care about is a generous way to change your world for the better"

This stayed with me, and somehow burrowed itself into my core. These lines have somehow become my call to action.

I have always admired bloggers who are able to introduce controversial topics in an unoffending way, inclusive of others' views and really open up the discussion. I also cannot get enough of opinion pieces where the author is contemplative and proactive about bringing their personal view forward. And while their opinion might not be everyone else's opinion, they take the opportunity to share and "change the world for the better".

This blog has lost its steam because we as a family moved on from the joys and perils of renovations. Our season in life is more intensely focused on our kids, on the society around us, on aging and health and all the joys of LIFE. And these are the topics that I, today, want to talk about.

I hope you might find something here that changes your world for the better.
I'm going to hit publish now, before fear stills my hand.

Links I wanted to share today:

Here is your rare chance to enjoy a 3 course prixe fixe menu for exceptional value at the best restaurants in Ottawa's ByWard market.

If you're looking to improve your photography skills, HERE is a great course to get you on your way (taught by one of Ottawa's very own!).

I suffer from terrible motion sickness made worse by reading on the move. Since I began taking the bus to work, I've been accumulating a library of audio books. THIS one is next on my to-read list.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

2 Weeks Progress: Planning a Room for Miss C

Miss C's old room
Despite knowing not to put anything in writing so as not to jinx things (time and money wise), I'm going to go ahead and talk a little about Miss C's new room at the townhouse.

After A LOT OF thought, we decided the kids should, at least at this point in time, have their own bedrooms. Miss C has a lot of toys that are a chocking hazard for little A and, as we will not be setting up an official play room, we decided to house all these toys in her bedroom.

Speaking practicality wise, A still naps quite a lot (fingers and toes crossed this continues) and I would really like Miss C to be able to have her own "quiet time" in her own room. I find that kids these days spend too much time with adults and generally in organized activities. When I think back to my own childhood, I used to spend a lot of time playing independently or together with my younger brother. And I'm hoping to recreate a happy environment for a few hours of independent play. We also have some sibling rivalry going on and I think it would be good for Miss C to have a place to call her own.

So, anyway, back to the bedroom. I have a few goals in mind: (1) use what we already have; (2) make it as practical as possible; (3) make it at least a little girly (my kid LOVE flowers, ruffles, pink, you name it) but in a way that will not make me want to poke my eyes out.

You might remember I toyed with the idea of ordering a roman blind from Tonic Living for this room. I even chose the fabric. But things never felt quite right. I wasn't sure if I wanted a functional roman blind, or a faux one. I didn't know if I wanted it flat or relaxed, and if I wanted banding. The price was also a sticking point for me. I wasn't sure I wanted to spend on custom window treatments for a room that my little girl might want to re-do in a few years. And, God forbid, if we end up moving(no we're not planning to move, but with us, you just never know), the roman blind (unlike regular curtains) will not be able to come with us.
So instead I chose a different fabric from Tonic Living and want to try and make a faux roman blind myself. My inspiration (above) looks simple enough, probably deceptively so, and I really want to try making it. The fabric is also much less expensive, so I feel much less pressure. My only concern is that the fabric work with the rug we already have.
In addition to the window treatment, there were other curious things with this room that had me scratching my head. There is a little nook in the room that I really want to utilize well. I debated between making it into a reading nook or a desk area. While I love reading nooks, a comfy bed with pillows can act like the perfect reading nook, while a desk will add much more functionality to the room. So desk it is. I'm thinking a floating one so we can adjust the height as she grows.
Miss C was gifted a gorgeous doll house for her birthday. I feel that I would really like to perch it up on something so that she's eye level with the toys, instead of them being too low on the floor.

Sorry for going on a tangent, but I just have to mention the dollhouse. It took me forever to choose one because of the type of play I wanted to happen as a result of it. While fairly expensive, the dollhouse I chose is gender neutral so both kids can play with it. It is expensive enough that we will be collecting pieces for the house for a few years to come (which is great to teach my kid to wait, instead of instant gratification). It focuses on family, there is a mom/dad/sister/brother dolls, PLUS grandma and grandpa, PLUS baby twins. And it doesn't make me want to poke my eyes out, which is always a bonus. So if you're in the market for a dollhouse pool all your gift resources together(which is what we did) and get this dollhouse.

In the spirit of working with what you got we will be using our current master bedroom night stands as a makeshift dresser. This idea came about for a few reasons. I am not ready to decide on a long term dresser for this room without buying her a new bed. So far, she's pretty happy with her toddler bed. Once A is ready for a toddler bed, we will get C a new bed and he will inherit the old one. And I think it would be smart to wait and get the bed and dresser together. I also really want new nightstands for the master as the ones we have right now were a stand-in. Win win? I don't know yet, we will how things settle once we move in.

So this is the plan so far. As I said at the beginning, hope I haven't jinxed anything by posting it. It's happened too many times before.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Life In Pictures

Last Christmastime I ran into a frustrating problem. All the best photobooks used Instagram photos. I didn't have Instagram. And I didn't sign up right away either.

It took me another couple months to register and another few to actually start using it. The thing I realized is that I take a TON of photos throughout the day. Which I share with my husband, practically hourly. It is this little thing we do. But these conversations are private. And the photos? A hassle to share with family. I am, what you would call, a late adopter. Which means that I'm wary of new technology, especially social media. But the ability to share photos instantly (ha ha) has me seduced.

I can't wait to do photobooks as Christmas gifts this year. If you're curious, you can see what I'm up to HERE.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Contraband Photos - Kitchen Install

Every time we stop by the townhouse I half expect the door to be locked. I actually hope the door to be locked. You know, in case vandals look for a place to put their stamp on. But I"m also infinitely happy when the doors are unlocked. Because we get to witness progress as it happens.

So far the tile has been installed, all the cabinetry is up and the railing is rocking. I'm so excited about all of it, it's making me a little sick.
There is a point in every reno, or selection process, when you doubt yourself. Usually this is when things are about half way done and it doesn't look anything like you hoped it would. I'm in that panic-y, sick in my stomach state of mind right now.

While the kitchen cabinet colour is spot on what I wanted, the railing is their darkest stain (which I"m so happy about), the tile (not pictured) is making me a little queasy. It is a medium gray (like we wanted), but I worry it is too dark. I also worry the bathroom vanities (black) are too dark and it was the wrong time and place to let hubby have his way. Ha!
But at least the kitchen colour looks GOOD. I'm digging the basic knobs. They are fantastic with the gray and will work great with our appliances. Great choice for zero dollars. Not tempted at all to change these. Yes, changed my mind.
One more time from the living room. What am I digging? LOVE that we did extra cabinets instead of seating at the island. Love it. Love the black railing with (what will be) natural oak floors. Totally worth the risk we took ordering this.

Not quite happy with the upper cabinet above the kitchen sink that is a tad higher than the other cabinets. We did not discuss this with the builder and it is not exactly what I had in mind. At all. But, it is a building code thing and there isn't much that can be done. Just need to accept the fact that I am super picky and need to give it a rest (grumble grumble).

Overall, I'm SO happy with everything, nerves and all. I just want to move in already! 4 weeks before we get the keys.

4 weeks!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

5 Weeks Before Move In - My Progress with the Townhouse

We are officially 5 weeks away from moving. We have packed the non-essentials before showing the condo to renters so I'm not yet in the midst of packing things up. What I am doing is planning things to purchase and doing the purchasing. It is exciting (I've waited to do this for a whole year!) and scary because everything adds up to major $$$.

In an effort to pace ourselves and control spending I have been identifying things we cannot live without and things that can wait. Remember my post about window treatments?? I'm happy to say that we've ordered. Draperies only. As much as matching roman blinds would have been incredible, they were very expensive (understandably, they are an insane amount of work) and we just couldn't emotionally and rationally wrap our minds around spending that much in one transaction.
I was also not 100% sold on the roman blinds. The thing is, I love the layered look of bamboo shades under curtains. And was thinking that romans + draperies + bamboo shades might be a bit too much. I also couldn't decide whether I wanted to do faux or real romans. It was making my brain hurt and definitely not clicking. So we decided to let it go for now.

Instead we hope to go ahead full tilt with bamboo shades.
And here I have to tell you something else. I've agonized about this choice for a while. I still am, to be completely honest. As much as I love bamboo shades and bamboo in general, is it something that will work in Ottawa, in the townhouse, with our stuff?? To me bamboo is a no brainer in warmer climates. Yes, there it is a natural choice and is definitely in its element. But what about the 6 months of cold cold winter we get here in Ottawa?? Will bamboo warm things up, or just look out of place??
So far, I"m leaning towards getting the bamboo blinds because: (1) they are budget friendly and I have hubby's ok to go ahead; (2) I like the look of bamboo no matter what else I might think; (3) intuitively, this feels like the right choice, and I've done this enough to know to trust my instincts.

Do you think I've gone completely crazy??

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Condo Tour - A Final GoodBye

I"m sure you've heard this one before, but you know what the best camera is? The one in your hands that captures the moment. So you will have to excuse these pictures taken with my non fancy phone. We were waiting around for prospective condo renters to come and check out the place. So the condo was spotless and (if you will notice) I had contained my baby hurricane in a high chair with a cartoon (mom of the year) to keep him from tearing it apart.

You will also have to excuse my kids photo bombing every shot, but really?, they live here :) true story.

I took the photos to have a memory of our year here. The people who came to see the place ended up returning with deposits the next morning. So the place is officially rented out. It is a little sad, and a lot exciting. A huge weight off our shoulders.

This past year has been so incredible, such a gift in so many ways. We love this condo and are so happy to see it go to some seriously lovely people.

Enjoy the mini tour!

You can find more photos of the condo below:
Condo Dining Room
Our Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree is Growing
Condo Tour: Living Room
Condo Tour: Kids' Shared Bedroom
Condo Storage Solution - Using Ikea BESTA Units
Condo Tour: Kitchen