OH, Canada...

July 1st is Canada Day, a day most Canadians celebrate. It's the day we are reminded just how lucky we are to be living in this wonderful country, land of the home and free. Whether you're celebrating Canada Day at the cottage, having a backyard BBQ, or setting off fireworks, it's a day to reflect on all the reasons it rocks to be Canadian.

Why it's so awesome being Canadian:

We all live in igloos. Yup, we do. And it snows here, like 365 days a year.

We don't consider an inch of snow a national disaster.

We know how to shovel.

Our money is colourful.

The Tragically Hip. This is my number one favourite Canadian band, and I love, love, love their music. So many of their songs bring back special memories, or specific instances, and they are just so very Canadian.

We have universal health care.

And freedom.

And maple syrup.

Poutine. Enough said.

Our national anthem. Oh, Canada!

We're polite. We are overly familiar with saying Please, Thank You, and Sorry.

We're beautiful. From the mountains on the west coast to the fisherman towns on the east coast, from wheat fields to the Canadian Prairies, we are a pretty picture, even during the cold, dark, winter months.

We are the peacekeepers.

Hockey. It's our game. Our national pastime. And it's damn fun to watch. Especially during the NHL playoffs. Songs about hockey give me chills, every time I hear them. Like this one. Chills.

Gun laws. We have them.

Wayne Gretzky.

John Candy.

Ryan Gosling.

Anne of Green Gables.

Barenaked Ladies.

Blue Rodeo.

Dan Aykroyd.

Too many fabulous celebrities to name.

The fact that we're known, but not overly well known.

I don't even know what street Canada is on.
- Al Capone

The fact that no matter where I am in the world, I can proudly wave my Canadian flag.

In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect.
- Bill Clinton

And happy 4th of July to all my wonderful American friends. I love you, USA, and all your fabulousness, too!

Happy celebrating, everyone...


After a totally stressful I-want-to-rip-my-hair-out visit to the grocery store with my children a couple of years ago, my car was stolen right before my eyes in the parking lot. As if that wasn't enough to turn an otherwise good day bad, it was also the day John Hughes died.

John Hughes, the man responsible for 85% of my favourite movies, had passed away. The man who made movies we could all relate to (after all who hasn't had to deal with unrequited love?) was no longer alive. Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The Breakfast Club. Sixteen Candles. Pretty in Pink. Sigh. And other classics like National Lampoon's Vacation, Plane, Trains, and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, and of course, my youngest son's favourite movie, Home Alone. All these movies are thanks to John Hughes, who nailed it, with each film. The actors. The sountracks. The humour. The heartache.

The man was a genius. So was Nora Ephron.

Nora Ephron was a brilliant writer, producer, and director who brought us some smart, funny, and memorable movies, like When Harry Met Sally, one of the best romantic comedies EVER. Seriously. It is perfection, complete with flawed characters that you can't help but fall in love with. The movie deals with friendship and romance, and of course, features the legendary Meg Ryan fake orgasm scene. "I'll have what she's having..." Nora Ephron also brought us Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail, two movies I love to pieces. I am a fan of movies with happy endings, and she just delivered.

The unmeasurable grief we feel when we lose a loved one is a pain so huge it can't really be described in words, but the pain we feel when someone dies who is not really in our lives, but a part of our lives hurts the heart as well. When we find out a celebrity we once loved is no longer living it shocks us, and makes us remember.

It also makes me wonder how much more awesome these people could have created, if they were only given more time.

"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." - Nora Ephron

The Comfort Zone

I've gone out of my comfort zone many times, either by choice, or by force, and most of the time, the results haven't destroyed me. After all, some things are worth taking a risk for, don't you think? We only live once, and all that jazz.

I am not the biggest risk taker, and I would never willingly jump out of a plane. However, I love roller coasters and the awesome feeling that comes with being on rides at amusment parks. I love the thrill.

I like to ski, as long as I know the hill I'm on. But as soon as I'm on an unfamiliar hill, I freeze, and fear takes over. Like the time I was on a double black diamond hill and didn't even know until my friend told me and I decided to sit and shuffle my way down? Yeah, I was totally out of my comfort zone, and I hated it. But looking back, it wasn't as bad as I thought. I survived. And now, I have a story to tell.

I went snow tubing once, which was most definitely out of my comfort zone, and the time I went white water rafting? I didn't even know I was going to get wet. Level 4 rapids? You're going to get wet. Very, very wet. Was I out of my comfort zone? Absolutely. Was I scared? Of course. Did I have the best time ever? Without a doubt.

I still worry about the end of the world, which is totally probably going to happen in a few months, you know. The idea of the world ending scares me, but some things are just out of my control. Like every time I step on a plane? That's a fear I have that doesn't go away, no matter how many times I fly. That's me forcing myself out of my comfort zone, but I do it, time and time and time again. Being in my comfort zone goes hand in hand with the feeling of being in control, and when I'm on a plane, I've got no control over anything, except what to drink.

Realistically, though? When I step outside my comfort zone, I find I'm stronger and braver than I thought I'd be. I've had to face my fears many times before, and I've always made it through okay. I went to California and moved to D.C. when I was in my early twenties, both times for internships at big television stations. I was out of my comfort zone, but it was so worthwhile.

I stepped outside my comfort zone in a big way when I become a mom, by choice, and by force. My world was turned upside down and my heart exploded with a love so fierce I never dreamed possible.

Every day, as a mom, I learn something new, I take risks, I make mistakes, and I try to do the best job I can. Motherhood has taken me out of my comfort zone, sure, but it's now a familiar world to me, the only world I know, and a world I love more than anything. Life is a great adventure, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone makes me feel alive.

The more I push myself, the more I learn, the more experiences I'll take with me, and the more stories I'll have to share.

Life is worth living, risks are worth taking, and getting out of our comfort zone? It's totally, absolutely worth it.

Thanks Mama Kat for another awesome writing prompt!


Thanks, Dad...

Here's something I can finally admit, because I'm no longer a child. My father was always right, about everything. I've written about my mom before, but I don't think in all the years I've been blogging I have ever written in any length about my dad.

From the talks we'd have about studying harder, learning French, arriving to work early, not spending all my money on clothes and shoes and make-up,  and being respectful of others, he was always right.

We may have banged heads when I was growing up, and especially during my teenage years, but he's always been there for me. He is the one, after all, who put up with me while I learned to drive a stick-shift in a 1980 white VW cabrio, handed me the keys to my first car, and the one who was first on the scene of every car accident I have been in. (Not that many, but more than a few...) He never got mad at me, even when I was at fault, only caring for me, and not the reason behind the accident.

Since I've become a mom, he's proven to be the best grandfather there is, never missing my son's soccer game and coming over a few times a week to take care of my boys when I'm at work. If I can't find him inside my house, I find him outside, building new shelves in my garage, cleaning out my car, or pumping air back into my bike tires. He's come on many family vacations, and enjoys his time with my boys on the beach or in the pool.

He's always teaching them something, much like he would teach my sister and I when we were younger. Yes, I've got a lifetime of awesome memories of my father, and now, I love seeing the same thing with my boys and their daddy.

This morning my boys were almost more excited about spending quality time with their dad than they were with me on Mother's Day, but I don't take that personally. I love seeing the bonds that have formed already, and how much my boys look up to the man who loves them more than anything else on earth.

Happy Father's Day!

Mad Obsession

True story. Once you start, you won't be able to stop. It took me a while to get into it, but man, once I started? Once I let it take me over? I instantly fell in love. I became addicted. I was obsessed. And now, it's all I think about. When I'm in the shower. When I'm in bed. When I'm walking down the street, feeling like I'm living in the wrong decade. I even apply my lipstick differently now. And I dyed my hair red .Okay, not yet, but I'm thinking about it...

I'm finally—finally—watching Mad Men. My husband told me I should start watching a long time ago, and I never got around to it. Then Ali told me I had to start watching, and one night, I did.

My mistake was watching the last three episodes of Season 5 first. But now, I'm in the middle of Season 1 and I'm hooked.  I think I'm even walking like Joan today. Minus the sexy outfits, I'm just wearing jeans. I have been staying up past 1 a.m. every night this week, catching up with a show I should have started watching a long time ago. Oh well, now is better than never, right?

With each episode, I fall more in love with the characters, and their dark, twisted, lives. I love how beautiful they are, I love the brilliant writing, and I love the clothes. And the smoking. And the drinking. And, and, and... it is brilliant, from start to finish. I'm in love...

What is it about Mad Men that keeps us coming back for more? (Besides the obvious...)

Don Draper is mysterious and brilliant. Pete Campbell is a dick, but one I want to know more about. Roger Sterling is the boss man, and totally awesome. Joan is my idol, and absolutely sexy. Peggy Olson is smarter than you think, and easy to like. Betty is so pretty, but so very flawed. They're all flawed, really. Full of issues and dark secrets, and that's why they're so lovable. I love the glimpse into the advertising world of the 1960's, and all the pop culture references that are made (Volkswagon, Coca-Cola, Lucky Strike, and more) and how it all came together, back in the day.

Mad Men is without a doubt the greatest eye candy of a show, and intellectually stimulating. It moves slowly, but you won't believe how fast an hour goes by when you're watching.

I love that it takes place in a time where I used to think life was "perfect"—when people didn't have to deal with drama and issues of unhappiness and depression. Truth is, life wasn't more simple; life was just as dark. The illusion of perfection, though, was everywhere you looked.

I can't wait for what's next. Seriously, I'm so excited to be watching... finally.

How deep is your love for Mad Men? And if you haven't experienced this love yet, please tell me, what are you waiting for?

June Days

Summer is here, and that means summer blogging hours have begun. I don't have as much time to read all the blogs I love, and I don't have enough time to write as often as I'd like, but for now, that's ok. I'm not going anywhere. Although things are not dreadfully busy at work since I found out I was a surplus employee, (meaning that I am essentially laid-off, but able to stay at my current place of employement for one year looking for a new job—yay me) I am still busy with all that other stuff—you know, life? Yup. Although I crave more time online, I don't go near my laptop when I'm home with my boys. I love just being with them, without any distractions. They are all the entertainment I need, after all.

I've been busy keeping my shopping blog up to date, writing about summer essentials and the top five family friendly places to travel to this summer, and much more. Go, read... I'll be waiting.

Since hot, sunny days are here, we're always outside. Bike rides, park visits, and swimming in the pool take up most of our time. My boys are like little fish, and it continues to amaze me how great they are in the water. My dream of getting the Olympic gold in swimming is a torch I can now pass down to my children. I kid... sort of.

My almost seven (seven!) year old loves playing soccer even more this year, and my entire family attends every game, cheering him on.

Is soccer not the greatest sport on the planet, by the way? I'm heavily invested in Euro 2012 right now, never missing a game if Greece is on the field, even if means leaving work and watching at a bar by myself. Although the dream of  another Euro Cup win for Greece is slim (to none), the dream was only that—a far-fetched one—in 2004, too. Soccer Gods exist, and anything is possible with this beautiful game, the best sport on the planet earth, with the most passionate fans ever. God, I need to be in Europe right now.

June also means end of year school festivals and preparations for the last day of grade one, and getting my four year old ready for his first year of kindergarten, just a few months away. In September, both my children will be in school, together. It's amazing, and bittersweet.

Week nights are spent with family, and friends, dinners around the table, and just general craziness. I'm thankful my family is so involved in our lives, feeding us almost every night (since my husband and I both work) and having a dad who takes care of anything house related, like fixing my garage, watering my plants, and pumping air back in my bicycle tires when I'm at work. Family rocks, and I'm so appreciative of the bonds we have. It makes working outside the home a heck of a lot easier.

Last week I was flown in and out of Toronto (with Porter, my favourite airline) for a Coppertone Canada event, and although it was short and sweet, much like my day trip to New York City in the fall, I got to catch up with Ali, Lena, Jen, Sandy and Reeva, which is always fun. And also, I'm now fully stocked up on Coppertone products so we're set for summer, sunburn-free, baby!

How's June been for you? Are we in agreement that it's a terrifically busy month?

With Thanks and Love

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It has been such a great honour being one of ten bloggers selected to work with the Children's Miracle Network, promoting and raising awareness for the great things these hospitals to for our children, every single day.

I wrote at length about how much CHEO, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, means to my family and I, and how absolutely thankful we are for the great care our son received when he was sick.

My goal was to raise $1000 for CHEO, and I'm almost there. Thanks to my many wonderful friends and readers, we managed to raise over $700. I couldn't have done this without out, so thank you, for your support and love. Please know that 100% of the money raised goes straight to CHEO for them to help make more miracles, every single day. There is no greater cause, I think, than supporting a hospital all our children rely on. I'm so, so thankful.

If you wanted to, you can still donate, and help me reach my goal. It takes two seconds, and you can also pay via PayPal.

Thank you everyone... love to you all!

Disclosure: I am part of the MiracleMoms program and receive compensation for my participation in this program.  All thoughts and opinions reflected in this post are my own.
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