The Wonder Years

"... Growing up happens in a heartbeat.One day you're in diapers, the next you're gone, but the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a time, a place, a particular fourth of July, the things that happened in that decade of war and change. I remember a house like a lot of houses, a yard like a lot of yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. I remember how hard it was growing up among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how hard it was to leave. And the thing is, after all these years I still look back in wonder." Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years

What does your past say about you? My past is full of great memories. I miss the days gone by, sometimes. I miss my school days the most.

I miss carefree days, skipping class, bathroom gossip sessions, making new friends, study sessions in the library that were really about catching a glimpse of the boy you were crushing on, and the playboy room.

I miss the days where I could actually sleep in on the weekends, the days of crop tops and mini skirts and wearing push-down socks. I miss ski trips, school assemblies, and after school activities. I miss my Tretorn running shoes and my Esprit and Benetton wardrobe, and thinking I was cool in my Stussy baseball hat.

I miss dances that took place on Friday nights that would leave you wondering what would happen come Monday morning when you saw him again. (Answer: Not much. Perhaps a nod in the hallway, perhaps a smile, but certainly nothing as extravagant as your overactive imagination thought up over the weekend. )

I miss the time I had to read, the time I had to do nothing, the time I had to play dominos and card games in the cafeteria when I should have been in class. I miss classes and teachers, too. I still remember my grade 9 English teacher, Mr. Wiley, who loved Dead Poets Society as much as I did and reminded me so much of Professor John Keating.

I miss my first car, the school parking lot, and the smoking section, where  all the "cool kids" would hang out. I had some of the best conversations in between classes with friends because of the smoking section. I have no regrets, none.

I miss track and field, relay races, and gym class, even though I was so not  sporty. I miss organizing fashion shows and Remembrance Day assemblies, and being in charge of the music, making the programs, and selling tickets.

I miss days that were free of stress, where time stood still, when we were young, and could do... anything we wanted to. The world was our oyster. The world was ours.

Yes, life happens after high school, but those high school days? When we knew a lot, but not nearly enough? When our hearts weren't breaking every day from sad stories, when we didn't have the worries that come with parenthood? Or the bills to pay? When our part-time job and the money we earned went towards new tapes, CD's and concerts? Those were some damn good times. We were fearless.

So many firsts, so much freedom. The first day of school. A clean desk, and a new pencil case. The promise to make this year the best one yet. Exams. Essays. Study sessions. Yearbooks, and the comments we would write each other. It's all we had, those days before the Internet. Just a pen and our words with our phone number written down with promises to stay in touch over the summer.

Graduation day turned into prom night turned into a summer where we were too busy getting ready for university, and then, university... a whole other world of wonder, four amazing years with even more memories.

I'm 35 now, and can hardly believe it. Of course I'm okay with growing older; I feel sexier, I'm more sure of myself, I know what I want, and what I love. My childhood friends are still my very best friends today, and that makes me so happy.

The greatest and most wonderful part of my life happened well after my school days were behind me. Becoming a mom is my greatest accomplishment, and I love knowing that my boys will now experience all the amazing and sometimes heartbreaking things that will come with their school years.

I will be watching, from a distance, memories intact, with a smile.

"Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary." John Keating, Dead Poets Society

With A Little Help From My Friends

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As you all know by now, I'm part of the Miracle Moms Network.

I am trying to raise awareness and funds for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and my goal is to reach $1000. I'm currently at $640, thanks to you, for being so generous, and for supporting this amazing cause.

There is nothing, in my opinion, that is more worthwhile than supporing the Children's Miracle Network. Money raised for these hospitals go to help the children who need it the most, and having had a son in CHEO, I know first-hand how helpful this money is. I am so thankful that I live in a city that is home to one of the greatest children's hospitals in Canada, and I'm thankful for the incredible care my son received when he was admitted.

This video about the Children's Miracle Network brought a few tears to my eyes... I'm sure it will have the same effect on you.

I would love it if you could support me, and help me reach my goal of $1000 for CHEO. It would mean the world to me, and to the strong and brave children of CHEO.

Thank you!

The Days Of Summer

There's nothing I don't love about summer, except maybe the insects. And I've already been stung once this year by a wasp, so I think I'm safe for the rest of the summer. I mean, there's got to be some unwritten rule that says you can't get stung more than once a year, right?

Summer is finally here, and that means my status updates will be annoying because they're going to be the same for the next several months, all talking about how much I love the hot weather and how I'm swimming in the pool, or at the park, or on vacation, or watching my son's soccer game, or going strawberry picking, or going for a bike ride, or going out with friends and enjoying drinks on a patio somewhere. Yes, summer, my favourite season of all, is finally here. And it's still only May. Pass the sunscreen!

This past weekend is a perfect example of how much I love the days of summer. My son had his first soccer game of the season, and even though there was a sudden thunderstorm, it was a fun night having friends over, getting ready, and walking over to the soccer field. Later, we went out for dinner for a birthday celebration at our favourite Vietnamese restaurant and on Saturday, it was swimming lessons for the boys, followed by a visit to a local fair, and an entire day spent in the pool with friends and family. I cherish these days.

My best friend drove into the city from Toronto for our annual girls weekend, too. We went out to say good-bye to our other best friend who is moving to Dubai with her family. Exciting times, but we're going to miss her. Of course, we now have a new place to visit, a place with amazing shopping, and hot days and nights. We stayed out way past our bedtime, and I'm still paying for it today, because no matter how many hours past my bedtime I go to bed, my boys will without a doubt wake up very, very early.

Sunday was all about hanging out with friends, enjoying an afternoon play date, visits to the park, and saying good-bye to my grandparents who are leaving for their annual summer vacation to Greece. My four year old decided he was going to leave with them in the morning, too, and packed his suitcase. He was a little upset this morning when I told him he could leave his passport at home because he wasn't getting on the plane today.

I love the days and nights of summer, the memories that are yet to be made, and what's to come. It's only the beginning...

Smile Shop

I love it when the city I live in does amazing things for the people in our community. This weekend, I'm invited to Billings Bridge Shopping Centre to take part in the Smile Shop. Of course, getting me to smile in a mall is not hard at all, but for this event? I'll be smiling even harder.

This Saturday, Billings Bridge is giving away $10,000 in gift cards to people in exchange for a good deed.

Marketing Director Greta Bloskie wanted to do something fun that would help inspire people to come to the mall to make a difference in the community at large. The Smile Shop will be making a lot of people smile this weekend, I can assure you of that.

Here's how it's going to work:

Visit the Smile Shop in Centre Court on Saturday, May 26th, between 11 and 3 and choose a small, medium, or large deed you'd like to do to receive a $10, $25, or $50 Billings Bridge gift card, while quantities last.

A $10 deed? Buy your friend a latte. Make breakfast in bed for someone you love. Hand over the remote for the night. Simple, right?

A $25 deed? Give someone a massage. Clean the house. Buy ice cream or flowers for a loved one. Win-win situation.

A $50 deed? Invite your friends over for a BBQ. |Better yet, have the inlaws over for dinner. Or, you could be really generous and let your best friend pick something from your closet to wear and keep for an entire week.

You're already smiling, aren't you? Of course you are, because when you do something awesome for those around you, you feel good, and naturally, you'll smile. And smiling makes you look good! Shopping makes you feel good, too.

After you choose your deed, just sign in to Facebook using the on-site ipads to commit to doing your deed for someone on your friend list.

You will then receive the gift card that matches your deed. Just post a picture that you did your deed on the Billings Bridge Facebook page by May 30th at 6 p.m.

The best part? For each post, Billings Bridge will also make a donation to the No More Bullies campaign.

You can tweet using the hashtags #smileshop and #nomorebulllies to help spread the word, because of course this is something to talk about!


Miracle Mom

When you become a mom, your life changes in a million different ways. Becoming a mom is a blessing and a miracle. It's also challenging, rewarding, thrilling, and, sometimes, downright heartbreaking. As a mom, I love helping children who really need help, and the one place I always donate to is the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

I am honored to be part of the Miracle Moms Network. The Children’s Miracle Network has teamed up with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and has two goals: to help children by raisings funds for children's hospitals, and to keep funds in the community.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals provide treatment and hope to millions of sick kids each year, in 170 hospitals in Canada and in the United States.

I have my own donation page, and I'd love it if you could please click the link and donate whatever you can, knowing that you're helping the precious, incredible, strong, and brave young children that are treated in CHEO every single day.

On a personal level, I have experienced having a sick child in the hospital. When my oldest son was 12 weeks old, he had a high fever and was rushed to CHEO, where he was admitted, and stayed for 14 days. I endured seeing him in pain, get daily blood tests, IV's, catheters, x-rays and ultrasounds. He was incredibly strong through it all. He had a kidney infection because of a condition called hydronephrosis, a fairly common condition most children outgrow by the time they're three years old. My son outgrew this condition, but was back in CHEO for five days with another infection when he was six months old. It was during these stays that I realized how lucky we are to have such an amazing children's hospital so close to home, where children receive the best care from nurses and doctors every day.

We were back in CHEO when my son was three years old. He had a severe case of pneumonia. Two weeks in the hospital, IV's, oxygen masks, blood work, and even more bad news... surgery, to drain fluid from his lung. I never thought I'd live through seeing my son being wheeled away to surgery. I don't know how I survived that day, but somehow, we made it through. After the surgery my son had a chest tube in him for four days. To say this was the biggest nightmare of our lives is an understatement, but again, every day I count my blessings, as again I was face-to-face with other children who were very sick and in CHEO for a much longer time. I was thankful for the care, love and attention we received from the staff at CHEO. My son made a full recovery, and is a perfectly healthy, incredibly smart, six year old.

This experience made me aware of how important it is to do everything in our power to help sick children. It hurts my heart that so many children get sick and to think that we can help make a difference? How could we not? I know what it is like to have a sick child in the hospital, and I know how helpless the situation can feel. We have the power to make a difference.

I spoke with another CHEO mom a few days ago, a mom who shared her personal story with me. Jennifer was a mom to a perfectly healthy three year old, Hunter. Hunter had a bad virus when he was three years old and he wasn't getting better. He was put on antibiotics, and Hunter and his parents went out for dinner because he was finally feeling better. He was promised a trip to Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's after dinner, a favourite toy store of his, but on the way, he told his mom he wasn't feeling well. He was pale, and his fingers were blue. The visit to the toy store turned into an emergency visit to CHEO, where he was admitted. Doctors discovered he had a heart condition and required a pacemaker, which was put in two weeks later. Needless to say, Jennifer was completely shocked with the news that her little boy was suddenly needing heart surgery. It was a lot to suddenly accept and deal with. Hunter is now a healthy nine year old, who has frequent visits to CHEO to make sure all is well with his pacemaker.

During the time that Hunter's heart problems were detected, doctors also discovered Jennifer had an unknown heart condition, and the twins she was carrying were likely to have a heart a condition as well.

Hunter's siblings were born prematurely, with heart conditions, and spent several weeks in CHEO. The twins have not needed surgery, and are monitored at home. They are, for the most part, healthy. Jennifer considers herself very lucky to have CHEO so close to home. "I feel immensely happy and in huge gratitude to the people who every day save the lives of children."

Of course this is just one of many stories about the children who go through the doors of CHEO. I would love it if you could support me and the hospital that helped save my son's life.

Please click here and help. I would be so very thankful!

Disclaimer: I am participating in the #MiracleMoms campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Very Thankful, Indeed

Being a mom is challenging, exhausting, tiring, heartbreaking, emotional, and impossibly hard. But it is also the best job on earth, rewarding every single day, and filled with so much love and laughter and moments of awe, it takes my breath away. I am madly in love with my children, and thankful every single day that I am their mother, because I think they're the most incredible people ever. My boys never cease to amaze me.
I'm thankful that I see my mom several times a week, talk to her a dozen times a day, and have her (and my father) care for my children when I'm at work. I'm thankful I have an equally amazing grandmother (and grandfather) who also take care of my children, my house, and me, every week. I'm thankful I have a mother-in-law (and father-in-law) who cook amazing food for my children, take them to and from school, and look after them, when I'm working my 9-to-5 shift, Monday to Friday.

I'm thankful to have a supportive husband who is a great father, and I'm thankful to have an awesome sister who makes me laugh. I'm thankful to have amazing friends; the ones who have been with me my entire life, and the ones I've been lucky enough to meet through blogging.

I'm thankful this week, because I was honoured at my son's school for being a volunteer, and I saw how proud he was of me when I stood up in front of everyone to receive my certificate.

I'm thankful that my four year told me he loves me so much he has hearts coming out of his head.

I'm thankful I had the chance to appear on CTV Ottawa Morning to talk about and show everyone some awesome gift ideas for Mother's Day. You can watch the segment here! It's always a blast, doing work on television, and I miss the days of working in a busy newsroom.

Also? I'm thankful that I've got two amazing Samsung cameras to give away to two of my readers, for Mother's Day. I take tons of pictures of my children, and this camera is so small, you can just slip it in the back pocket of your jeans so you're always ready to take those perfect candid shots. My favorite part about this camera is that it has built-in Wi-Fi! Total bonus, right? The Samsung DV300F talkes up to 16.1MP high-resolution pictures and 720p HD video, and has a a front-facing screen, too.

To enter to win, just leave me a comment telling me what you love about Mother's Day.

I'll randomly pick two winners on May 14th.

Good Luck!

And to all the moms I know, Happy Mother's Day. I believe we should celebreate motherhood every day of the year, don't you?

On Being A Car Girl


The keys to my heart have always had the initials VW on them. I have loved Volkswagen since the days of the original Beetle!

I've been a car girl my entire life, mostly because my father owned a used car dealership that sold German-made automobiles. Yes, my love for the finer things in life came to fruition at an earty age. I loved hanging out with my dad, watching him sell cars, and my first high school job was working in a car dealership after school.

I'd dream about the day I'd finally get my license, so I could get behind the wheel of a a VW. I drove my first VW cabrio when I was 16 years old. On my 18th birthday, I got the keys to an Audi 5000, which was okay with me. I learned to really drive in that car, and of course, I got into a few accidents. Picture Cher from Clueless behind the wheel. Yup, that was me. Maybe still is, sometimes... ahem.

When it was time to retire that car, I was in the parking of my dad's dealership, trying to decide what car I would drive next. Of course, the choice wasn't up to me. My father had a couple of used cars in mind for his little girl. Both were red. One was a BMW. And one was a VW Golf.

My decision was made instantly. But once I actually drove that VW Golf? Mad love. It's still my favourite car. It's the car I love more than all the other cars I've owned, the car that drove me to and from university, and later, college, a few hours away. It's the car I really learned how to drive stick-shift in, and the car I had before I became a mom. It was the car of my youth, and I have so many awesome memories I associate with my little red VW Golf.

My next car? A Jetta. Almost equal love, because the ride was smooth, and perfect. Two children later, I upgraded to a Passat. This family car took us on road trips to Montreal, Mont Tremblant, and Toronto. It had enough space in the back so my boys were always comfortable, and safety-wise? Well, you simply cannot go wrong no matter what VW you get behind. I'm back to a stick-shift Jetta now; I bought my new silver four-door last spring and it's in great condition. You know, minus the old Goldfrish crackers and juice boxes you'll find in the backseat!

Of course, my husband is a proud VW owner, too. I like to think I had a lot to do with his purchasing decisions, since he's gone through a VW Golf GTI, a Jetta, and now, a brand-new 2012 Passat. Yup, we are a Volkswagen family and I wouldn't have it any other way.

If you're looking to buy a new or used car, get behind the wheel of a VW. I promise you, you'll fall in love, and then you'll be singing da-da-da... all day long. And can I just mention here how much I love the VW Darth Vader commericial? It's my favourite! There's just something so fun about being a VW owner, you know? If you don't know? You should find out.

Disclaimer: Volkswagen  Canada was kind enough to be my partial sponsor for the recent Mom 2.0 Summit that took place in Biscayne Bay, Miami. Thank you Volkswagen, my love for you is deep!

What's Next? (And All About Mom 2.0)

I had a pretty rough weekend. I was in Key Biscayne, Miami, at the Ritz-Carlton, with several hundred other bloggers and movers and shakers in the world of social media, the arts, and publishing for the annual Mom 2.0 Summit.

It is pretty inspirational how much we can do when we are passionate about something. The good we can accomplish with our determination and drive to make positive change is well... pretty awesome. This view from the Ritz took my breath away, and so did much of what I was lucky enough to hear, thanks to my amazing sponsors that made it possible for me to attend: Volkswagen Canada, IKEA, Tommee Tippee, and Kellogg's.

What did I take from this particular blogging conference? So much. I am still processing everything, and to be quite honest, listening to people like Brene Brown, Karen Walrond, Lee Rhodes, Liz,  Liz Lange, Gretchen Rubin, and Pilar Guzman (the editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living) speak was a bit overwhelming.

I left Miami feeling inspired, a bit scared, and asking myself the question: What's next? In my personal life and in my professional life, I'm excited, and I'm ready to take a risk. What does this mean, exactly? Like I said, I'm still processing it all. But one thing I have always found to be true is this: taking a risk, making the jump, and asking for what you want is never wrong. I tend to follow my heart, and I've found that by doing so, dreams can come true.

I enjoyed the intimacy of this conference, and I thought the location was perfection. I loved re-connecting with old friends like Jessica, (my very first BlogHer roomie... awww...) and spending more time with the Canadian crew, Kathy, Erica, Maureen, Nadia, Julie, and Candace. I find all these incredible women and moms to be beyond inspiring.

I was excited to be sharing a room with Marinka and Stacy, and am even more excited to report I never once snored, despite what Marinka may say, ahem. I did wake up with a pillow on my face one morning, but maybe I imagined that? We had a great time, and I loved sharing a room with these awesome ladies. We had some great discussions.

I was also so thrilled to finally meet the lovely Jill, who loves fashion and shopping as much as I do (kindred spirits, I tell you) and who had the most adorable outfits I've ever seen a pregnant woman wear. She is pure awesome. I loved seeing Nicole from Momtrends again, too, who is an absolutely beautiful person, and makes me want to spend the day shopping with her.

Of course, there were tears, because when are there not, at a blogging conference, right? I loved the 7 minute sessions and listening to these speakers on a variety of different topics was moving.

I attended my first blog conference in 2010, three years after I started my blog, and that BlogHer conference was quite memorable. My first Mom 2.0 conference was just as awesome. I've actually never left a conference disappointed, because I'm always surrounded by amazing poeple. Also, you make it what you want it to be.

I'm a little sad I missed Saturday night's party at the Versace mansion in South Beach, though, I always used to take pictures outside the house whenever I visited South Beach, and to have the chance to see beyond the front doors? Wow. I'm also bummed I didn't hear fellow Canadian funny lady Sam Bee speak. However, to be able to kiss my children on Saturday night was a bit more awesome than even a party at that address. I'm Queen of the Mommy Guilt club, in case you didn't know. Also, had I not left on Saturday, I wouldn't have by total random coincidence ended up on the same plane home as my parents, who were returning from Cancun.

If you're considering going to Mom 2.0 next year, GO. Just, go. It's taking place at the Ritz Carleton, Laguna Niguel. You have a year to make it happen, so you know, make it happen. You'll leave feeling like you can do more than you thought you were capable of.

Till next time!

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