Command Centre

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Despite having a main floor home office, our home is lacking a good spot for a command centre to keep track of our family life. I caught a few minutes of Martha Stewart on the Today Show this morning as she was saying that it's important to have a good command centre to keep things organized once school starts. It was all that I needed to hear to get moving on my command centre project today (who can argue with Martha, right?).

There is one corner of our kitchen with wasted space. It once was the high chair area, then it became the spot for the plastic kiddie table and lately I had a small table used to store art supplies. Today, I cleaned it up and then I moved a square storage unit from my closet to this space. The storage unit wasn't being fully utilized in my closet anyway, and it was perfect for my command centre vision. I took the girls on a whirlwind trip to Target where I picked up everything else I needed plus I grabbed a few other things we already had around the house.

And voila, here is our command centre up and ready for the start of school!

The coloured thing on the top left was created by a speech therapist for Mia to help her control the volume of her voice for the sake of her vocal cord nodules. The whole vocal cord nodules issue hasn't  really been resolved but that's a story for a whole other post. Below it, is an Easy Daysies magnetic calendar. I haven't found this helpful up to this point but it may have more use once we have a daily routine with school.

The calendar and cork/whiteboard were Target purchases as were the magnets, push pins and other accessories.

I used my label maker to label the magazine stand "mommy" because it holds various file folders that I use to keep our family life organized (if the girls get too grabby with this I may have to move it elsewhere). Then, I labelled a binder for each girl, which I then filled with clear plastic sleeves. This was Martha's idea as a means to store artwork brought home from school. The girls can flip through their binder to admire their own artwork.

I also labelled the cubbies -- each girl has two cubbies of their own. The middle two cubbies are for books, crayons and puzzles which are shared by all.

I only wish there was space for hooks to hang their backpacks. We don't have a mudroom in our house and there is no great place for the backpacks to be stored. I'm not sure what to do about that... In any event, I'm happy with our command centre. I'm sure there will be tweaks as we adjust to our new normal in the coming weeks.

It hasn't been so quiet here on my blog since.... well, since never. The fast-approaching first day of school has left me with not much to say. I'm doing my best to keep my nerves and fears to myself though, and just let my little girls see my excitement for them. And I really am excited for them despite my mommy concerns about how they will be able to take care of themselves against dangers, mean kids and everything else they will face without me.

I picked up these adorable cookies for them on the first day of school. Now to pick up the Xanax prescription for myself (kidding!!! but actually the school does provide coffee and tissues for the first time kindergarten moms after that first drop off, sniffle).


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

This Fall, my husband and I will celebrate ten years of being together including six years of marriage. I had just turned 26 when we started dating and I remember feeling old at the time. It sounds silly; however, I was pretty "grown-up" for my age, working as a corporate lawyer on Bay Street and living in my own condo on the Toronto lakeshore. It felt like I had already waited a long time for love and in those early days, it was exhilarating to know that he was the "ONE". After all those years of waiting and wondering, my husband was right under my nose.

There's part of a book I'm reading which captured the way I was before I started dating my husband. I just started reading Emily Giffin's book "Love the One You're With". Recently, I had read her latest book "The One & Only" which was absolutely awful. I don't want to spoil it for you but let me say that the main "love" story in that book is skeezy!!! It may seem crazy to read another one of her books after disliking the last one so badly. It's like I'm trying to erase the ick-factor with a different one of her stories (plus I heard that "Love the One You're With" is one of her best books). So anyway.... this current book is about a happily married woman who runs into an old boyfriend and she starts to question her life. Now let me say, I don't mention this book because I have any thoughts about old boyfriends or anything along those lines. In fact, I'm grossed out by the thought of pretty much every single guy I dated before my husband and I feel like my husband is the perfect guy for me. The part that resonated with me was when the protagonist talks about being a young girl wondering about her future husband.

.... I remember sitting in that over-air-conditioned theatre, wondering where my future husband was at that moment in time - what he looked and sounded like... Was he the star quarterback or the drummer in the marching band? Would I meet him on a flight to Paris? In a high-powered boardroom? Or the produce aisle in the grocery store in my own hometown?"

I was THAT girl who would wonder and fantasize about her future husband, how we would meet and what our wedding would be like.

My husband and I went to law school together. Technically, that's how we met. During that time, we didn't really socialize with each other. He actually dated a girl in my then-group of friends and so I discounted him as having no "dating potential". It was only after we both moved back to Toronto and were working at Bay Street law firms, did we run into each other by chance. We were both in the underground pathway system getting coffee and ran into each other while I was with one of our mutual friends.

What is even more serendipitous about our pairing is that we grew up in the same suburb and lived only 15 minutes away from each other. Well before meeting at law school in Kingston or bumping into each other in Toronto, we grew up in one another's back yard. I sometimes think about how there must have been some event or gathering at which we were both at and didn't even know it. Back then, there was one major movie theatre (Gateway Six in Brampton if you're wondering). There just had to be one night when we were growing up when we were both there, at the same time and completely unaware that we would fall in love and get married some day. Have you seen those stories in the news (like this one and this one)? That kind of happenstance could totally be us. We have yet to come across a photograph or specific time/place with us together before meeting in 2001.  The one thing that's for sure is we were clearly meant to be! 

And of course that the best part of our pairing is creating our two darling girls!

How did you meet your husband/partner/significant other? 

(Addendum: Before posting, I asked my husband to read this post out of concern that he would find it embarrassing. His exact words were "it's not embarrassing for me. It's embarrassing for YOU. It must have been pathetic just sitting around waiting to meet your husband". His charming sense of humour is just one of the things I love about him.)

Lunch Time Practice for Kindergarteners

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

If you're a regular reader, you may remember me posting last month about kindergarten gear -- click here for a refresher. I mentioned back then about how other moms suggested having practice lunches with my kindergarteners in the weeks leading up to school. On that advice, we started practicing lunches this week.

I'm going to miss lazy mornings with these two munchkins! 

Before getting to our practice lunches, I should mention some changes I made to the girls' kindergarten gear. Since that initial kindergarten gear post, I heard from mom friends about lunch bags which are specialized for kindergarteners heading into the school system here where we live. The lunch bags are separated into two sections. This is because kindergarteners don't have one traditional lunch break in the middle of the day anymore. With the new all-day kindergarten program, lunch is separated into two nutrition breaks. To clearly separate the food for each nutrition break, the lunch bag has two clearly marked zippered pouches (all insulated). And each section is labelled (either 1 or 2). You can click here for more about the lunch bags (This is not a sponsored post. I bought the the bags at Scholar's Choice and I'm sharing just because I think they're cool). Once I brought the new lunch bags home, I realized our bento boxes weren't a great fit. A friend suggested I get smaller bento boxes sold at Target for just $3. So that's where we stand now. Two different lunch bags, two different bento boxes and a myriad of other contraptions all of which I plan to test out by trial and error to see what will work for Mia and Alexa.

So far we have tested out the Target bento boxes in the new lunch bags. I set the timer for 15 minutes, gave the girls their bags and had them do everything themselves.

Here's what I have learned from our practices lunches so far:

- they can get everything in and out of the lunch bags
- they can open all compartments on the Target bento box
- they cannot open packaging on things like cheese strings, Goldfish crackers, etc. so I will either have to open things slightly or remove all packaging
- they are not good at throwing away their own trash
- as much as I like to use the reusable zippered pouches for snacks (such as the aforementioned crackers and things that they cannot open the original packaging), they can't remember to put them back in the bag so these would be at high risk for being lost which means until they're older I should only include things in the lunch bag that I'm willing to lose (Target has cute zippered plastic baggies)
- they were successful in finishing lunch in 15 (my biggest concern since at home they take forever to eat)

I was actually impressed by how well they did. We will keep practicing until school starts. In particular, I want to try the two nutrition breaks out at home (as opposed to just one lunch just to see if they understand the concept of the two different sections of the bag). I also want to try different varieties of food. I already worry about how to be creative in packing them a variety of healthy foods. This is a hot topic amongst me and my mom friends with kindergarteners. Check out these amazing lunches my friend Tanya has been packing for her son.

Family Getaway

Monday, 18 August 2014

We just spent a few days in a resort town up north to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday. Other than some unseasonable weather, it was a perfect getaway. We really got to relax as a family.

Now that we are settled in back home I really cannot believe that my girls start school in two weeks. I have so many emotions about it and yet I'm speechless. Having nothing to say doesn't really make for an interesting blog post, now does it (maybe the words will come another day)?

For now, my focus is actually on getting Alexa well. While away, she was afflicted with a bacterial infection on her face (doc isn't sure if it's strep or staph but either way treatment is the same). She's feeling fine and in good spirits. We just have to get the antibiotics working so the spots clear up asap.

Mommy and Daughter Style Moments

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Lately, I have noticed that I have something in common with Kim Kardashian. That's not something I ever expected to say/type but it's true. Like Kim, I like to dress in coordinating outfits with my little girls.

Here are pics of Kim and Nori dressed alike:





And here are recent posts from my Instagram @lovingyouischerrypie chronicling some of my very own mommy and daughter style moments:


Maxi skirts



Dressing alike is one of the delights of being a girl mom, that's for sure. And I'm pretty certain that's where the similarities between me and Kim end ;)

The Boot Trifecta

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

I have been very forthright about how part of the "getting ready for kindergarten" process for me has involved shopping. It's like nesting before a baby is born. All of my emotions about this milestone are still swirling inside but at least I know we will be prepared in the physical sense.

Drop-in day at the library for the
new kindergarteners
For the most part, Mia & Alexa's school shopping wardrobes are complete. The latest thing on my mind is winter gear. What a thing to be concerned with in August?! It was already a month ago that we got mittens from Costco (my mom friends telling me the Head mittens from Costco are the best quality for the price). I have been keeping my eyes open for good deals on winter coats and boots but haven't come across anything just yet. Last year, I wrote a post about girls' boots. At that point, we had not purchased boots yet. We ended up with Sorel boots whereas the year prior we went with Bogs. And all of last winter I was cursing myself for not buying Bogs again. In our experience, Bogs were the easiest boots for little hands (while also being durable, warm and waterproof). While my 2 year old little twinsies could manage Bogs on their own, a year later when they were 3 they were completely useless when it came to the Sorels. My girls also had the cutest pair of Ugg boots last year. While not waterproof, Uggs were the perfect mix of style and warmth. They got so much use out of the Uggs and only wore the Sorels when it was absolutely necessary (which, quite frankly, was a lot during the brutal winter we endured up here).

For this upcoming winter -- especially now that they will be in kindergarten and walking to/from school every day -- we plan to buy Bogs. Unless I find a good sale, I will probably wait a while before purchasing these just to make sure to get the sizing right. I have taken risks when it comes to sizing on some other, more stylish, boots which I already purchased. Fringed suede moccasins for when we are trying to look hipster and knee-high patent boots for when we are trying to look posh. So there you have it, the boot trifecta!

First Time Camping

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Last week, I alluded to the fact that our family had an outdoor adventure planned.... we went camping for the first time! Well, it was Mia and Alexa's first time. Despite not being the outdoorsy-type, I have been camping a few times in my life. In fact, I even went with my hubby on a four day canoe trip in Northern Ontario back when we were dating. We were dropped on a lake in the middle of nowhere with a canoe, our supplies and nothing else! We had to travel by canoe over a lake and then portage (which is just a fancy camping word for CARRY) all of our stuff to find a campsite. It was a very intense but beautiful trip. While I would never do another canoe trip like that one, I have been open-minded about camping as a family because I wanted my girls to know and enjoy the experience of sleeping under the stars. We decided this year was the right time for a trial camping trip. We went with friends to a nearby provincial park for one night with low expectations. The campsite had water and power, and was a close drive home.

Camping for these three loves of mine

We really had a great time! On the positive side:

- the girls had fun and really enjoyed the newness of the experience
- the girls did fine sleeping in a tent and dealing with the rest of life on a campsite
- we lucked out with perfect weather
- me and my hubby had fun experiencing this as parents

Family fun

On the negative side:

- camping for one night is so much work -- you need just as much stuff as if you camp for longer, so it was a drag to put everything up one day and take it all down the next day
- we needed to bring more toys and games for entertainment
- next time we want to camp somewhere with a lake and for two nights... yes, I think there will be a next time!!

Two full vans of stuff for just one night

As a final note, I want to share the funniest part about our night. It was the middle of the night and the campsite was finally quiet when all of a sudden our tent was rustled from the exterior and woke us up, and then we heard a loud growl. We woke up in a panic! For a moment, I thought there were two bears fighting outside of our tent. What actually happened was that a large dog had escaped from the next campsite and came running into ours, hitting our tent in the darkness. It was so freaky! We laughed afterwards but in the middle of the night it was scary! The girls thankfully slept through the entire thing.

Do you camp? Any tips you would share for next time we try camping?

Nature + Family

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

I don't think Lauren would mind me saying that she and I are not exactly the outdoorsy types. That would be just one of many things we have in common. It's not like we dislike nature completely, we just prefer patios and beaches to campsites and hiking trails. Know what I mean?!

That said, we try to get outdoors with our kids and enjoy what nature has to offer. Last summer, we went hiking and had a great time even though we were swarmed by mosquitos (here for a refresher). This past weekend, we took the kids to a rural park for picnicking, hiking and fishing (the hubbies took care of all of the hiking and fishing, not gonna lie). So.Much.Fun. 

Not only are Mia, Alexa and Kingley much more independent than last year but we also had the newest member of the family with us on our latest adventure... Lauren's precious new baby boy, Theo.

This was our trio last year...

And here are the fab four this year...

It's so great that not only are we BFFs and family but that we also have three kids the same age for adventures like these. Theo has been a great little addition and I can't wait to see him chasing after his brother and older cousins next summer.

I have another outdoor adventure coming up (Lauren didn't get roped into this one LOL!) that you'll definitely want to hear about. I promise to share more soon!

Sink or Float

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

We all hear those statistics about how girls get disinterested in science and math as they approach their teen years. That was exactly my experience. Despite being a good student, I stopped taking science classes in high school around grade 10 because I found them harder and gravitated towards liberal arts classes where I excelled. I was a very good student in math in high school even taking advanced classes a year ahead. And then I pretty much gave up around grade 12 math (I was in grade 11) when it started to challenge me. I remember very vividly the only test I ever failed when I took advanced grade 12 math and scored a dismal 33% on a test. I had to bust my butt to get a decent mark in that class and go on to get a good grade for the basic amount of math credits that I needed to go to the University of Toronto (Sidenote: UofT had a math requirement even for those entering a Bachelor of Arts program. For those of you in Ontario that remember the OAC credits, after grade 12 math I took Finite Math rather than Algebra and Geometry or Calculus in order to squeak by in my OAC math requirement). My husband is far more science-y and math-y than I am, and I hope he can help my girls stick with these more challenging subjects when they are older. I decided it would be fun to create an age-appropriate, Daddy-led science project for us to do at home.

I used Pinterest to find a sink or float printable (click here) then I gathered a few household items. My husband gave a very basic lesson to M&A on why things sink or float. I'm not sure how much my girls understood but they were very excited and curious to try. We went one item at a time, having them guess whether it would sink or float and then dropping the item in the water. Once we made our way through the items I collected, we let them run around and pick a few items more to try.

Of course, they had no idea they were actually using the scientific method. They just thought it was fun!

Check out this cute scientific method chart for kids which I found on Pinterest (click here to download from the original source). We didn't use this or talk about the scientific method at all, just thought it was cute for the future.

I plan to get the girls Goldie Blox for Christmas, which is a toy geared towards building little girls' math and engineering skills. Just because my girls love princesses and ballet, doesn't mean they can't also love learning, building and construction toys too. It's my goal to continue to encourage these subjects so they don't give up on them later on like I did. Mind you, my parents were supportive, they discouraged me from giving up on math and science and I did it anyway lol! Oh the teenage years that we have to look forward to.....