14.2.19

Do You Celebrate Valentine's Day

I couldn't resist sharing this photo of Maude from last year!

Do you love Valentine's Day? Although I love romance, I've never been a huge celebrator of the annual love-fest. Sure, I loved giving and receiving cards to friends and crushes in elementary school... which evolved into candygrams in high school. But so much of the magic seems to have left the day for me now that I'm an adult.

Maybe it's because this is the start of my busy season and I usually end up working most evenings or perhaps it has more to do with the fact that this is usually a time of year when we restrict our spending in preparation for (gulp) taxes. Either way, I find that I'd forget the holiday entirely if it weren't all over social media and if my fingers weren't still sore from tying teeny tiny bows on the cards for the girls' classmates. 

Before I start sounding like a Valentine's Day Scrooge, I'll get to the real point of my post:

I need to remind myself that not everyone is having a great Valentine's Day. Many people are alone or have lost loved ones, are having marital trouble or are just generally having a hard time. Instead of Valentine's Day, I wish this were "Be Kind to a Stranger Day" or "Self Care Day" because people who are in love pretty much have every other day! 

While I love Corey to pieces, we have more significant days to celebrate than this one so here's what I've been doing to "celebrate" the day:

  • I've found two new volunteer ventures in February, both of which I'm excited to start. 
  • I'm carrying around tiny Galentine's Day treats for any amazing ladies I happen to see this week.
  • I made plans to see a friend's delicious new baby next week... (squeee!!!)
  • I am having a drink with a friend after work.
  • I'm totally treating myself to a sheet mask before bed.
  • I'm making an extra effort to be supportive, helpful and kind to both friends and strangers.


I find that putting some positivity out into the world really lifts my mood and eases the mid-winter blues. Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Galentine's? I'd love to hear what you're doing.

Here are some fun links (You'll notice a theme!) in case you feel like browsing the internet this afternoon:

These earrings are on my wish list.

Santa gave me this hilarious face mask for Christmas!

Wouldn't this make the perfect Valentine's dinner?

I've always wanted to make these cards for the girls' classmates.

This ring is heartbreakingly beautiful and the story behind it brought me to tears. *trigger alert

If I were to marry Corey again, I'd want to do it here






So Happy Valentine's/ Galentine's/ Palentine's Day and remember to take care of yourself and those you love!

8.2.19

Confession


I bet you thought I'd totally abandoned this blog, didn't you? Well, you'd be right. I think the chaos of having two young kids while building my business meant sacrificing my writing time for bedtime stories or precious sleep. I recently got a good kick in the pants from an old friend to start back up and that's exactly what I'm trying to do.

I'm having some trouble though. I've changed so much in the past couple of years that I barely recognize the carefree, crafty girl who started this blog many years ago. Back then, I was new to real estate, we didn't have kids and were living in a two bedroom condo. We had zero responsibilities! As Madonna says, "experience has made me richer" and that's very true, but it's also made me more contemplative and perhaps a tad more serious. Don't get me wrong: I have had an incredible couple of years and I feel very fortunate but I also feel a little more adult and a lot less self-absorbed than my younger self. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm hoping my blog is still entertaining enough for you to read, but my post topics may change a little and I think I'll need some help deciding what to write about. I must say that it feels good to be taking a step toward blogging again. I think I've been using my Instagram account to share and write a little but it's not quite as satisfying!

While I didn't officially stop blogging until a year ago, I know my post frequency has been tapering off for a couple of years. Here's a recap of the past year:

It was early in 2018 that I started to notice that the anxiety and depression I had experienced during pregnancy, was creeping back postpartum. I loved my sweet Maude but I wasn't bonding with her the way I knew I should be and it was heartbreaking. I wrote an Instagram post on it for Bell Let's Talk Day and I'm happy to say that medication has helped immensely and I feel better than I have in years!


At around the same time I was being diagnosed with postpartum depression, Rudy was diagnosed with Autism. We had known Rudy was Autistic for several months but the diagnosis was a shock nonetheless and I spent a long time researching everything I could on Autism and speaking with Autistic adults before I was comfortable discussing it. Now, we are a proud, Neurodiverse family (Corey and I even got tattoos!) and Rudy knows she is Autistic and likes to tell people about her special Autistic brain!

As my real estate business has grown over the years, I have invested so much in my staging inventory that I now have my own warehouse filled with furniture, art and accessories. It is definitely fun to be able to post colourful photos of my staged listings and I love sharing and hearing decorating tips. In other real estate news: I decided last summer that an innovative, marketing-focused brokerage would be a better fit for me and the best place for me to learn from like-minded professionals, so I joined Sage Real Estate. Finally, Corey obtained his real estate license last summer and is now helping me and my clients in an official capacity!

Last summer, we introduced Maude to camping and went on FIVE short camping trips. We also bought an OLD tent trailer, which Corey has been fixing up!

Last spring, we adopted another feisty barn cat and now the two cats are thick as thieves! It was nice for them to have companionship when we lost our beloved Barkley in the fall. We missed having a dog so much that we adopted a senior beagle (Lola) who was found nearly dead on the streets of Mexico last year.


This past year has been filled with changes for our family! Now, we're finally in a groove and have found a good routine which allows me quality time with the girls even during my busiest times at work. Rudy and Maude are becoming so close and the two crack us up all the time. Rudy in particular says the most hilarious (sometimes unintentionally insulting) things to us... Like last week when she told me my hair looked like a yak, or when she asked me if the large, white blob person (photo below) was me and I almost threw out my oversized white sweater!


So now I need your help! What do you want to hear about? I think I'll still write a little bit of everything but I need a place to start! Are you interested in:

Real Estate market or staging posts?

What about home decorating tips, tricks and trends? Cool vintage finds?

REAL parenting and family posts? Posts about raising an Autistic child? Fun activities and crafts for young kids? Ideas for fun family outings?

What about adult crafts and hobbies?

Home reno posts? (Corey's about to gut our upstairs powder room!)

Help me out! In case you're curious, I'll link below to some of my most popular posts of all time:

My Condo Survival Series

Kitchen Reveal

Our Home Tour

DIY Climbing Wall

Ikea Hack: Toy Storage and Desk

How to Take Good Photos of your Kids Using Your Phone

Growing Baby Succulents

On Miscarriage

A Poem for My First Child

My Crazy Cat Story

Our Week in the Rockies


Thanks so much for reading guys and please please please let me know what you'd like to read. It'll be the kick in the a$$ that I need to resume blogging again!


7.1.18

Another Climbing Wall


Those of you who have been following Fresh Coat of Paint over the years may recall the climbing wall we built at our last house. It was one of my favourite projects ever and I was a little disappointed that we sold the house after enjoying it for less than a year! At the time, we asked our buyers if they'd like us to leave the climbing wall and they said they would. We were delighted to leave it but we knew we'd have to build a new one in this house!

Instead of the mountain theme we had last time, this time I opted for whimsical trees modelled after the Truffula trees, but with colours to compliment our family room.

To begin the project, we measured the space and bought a piece of plywood to fit.



Then, I roughly sketched the background (I practiced on paper first) and painted it.




Corey used 3" construction screws to anchor the board into studs in our wall. It left visible holes in the board, which we filled with wood filler and touched up at the end of the project.



Corey used 1/4" toggle bolts to secure the holds, which are available on Amazon and Ebay.


Rudy helped us place the holds and she actually loved being involved and kept tying to screw them into the wall herself! It was adorable and she was so proud that she helped!


Rudy loved the wall right away. She hasn't climbed too high yet but she keeps practicing. Each time she comes down, she claps her hands and says "Yay Rudy!"



23.12.17

Christmas Weekend Fun


It's almost Christmas and our gifts are finally wrapped and under the tree. Maude has been sick so we've been trying to stay close to home so she's comfortable.

Rudy had a blast this morning sliding down the hill in our yard and playing in the snow. There's something so sweet seeing kids all bundled up and toasty warm!

Earlier this month, we bought some plastic ornaments for Rudy to decorate. We use glitter and glue and tissue paper and it makes for the easiest craft. It might be craft time this afternoon!


While we were playing in the snow, we collected some fresh snow and made snow ice cream using this recipe.



Other activities we have planned for the next couple of days include baking shortbread cookies, tobogganing and watching this movie. Can you believe I've never seen it? We also may take this girls to see this festive street!

It has been non-stop action this month at our house between Rudy's Birthday, Hanukkah and now Christmas. I've also been really busy and work and Rudy started a new school this month. Our heads are spinning but we're excited to relax a bit over the next week.

What are you doing over the break? Do you have plans for NYE? Friends of ours are having a bunch of families with kids over and we're going to have an early countdown at 8 so the kids can crash after in the basement and the adults can stay up for the real countdown. Fun, right?

Season's greetings and have a wonderful and safe holiday! Happy Tibb's Eve, if you like to drink! ;)

28.9.17

35

Photo by Maria-Lise Young Photography.

I'm 35 today. I can no longer pretend that I'm in my early-thirties because I'm now as mid-thirties as you can get! How did this happen? When I was in my twenties I always hoped I'd one day grow up, find a great job, buy a house, have kids, maybe get married... I guess I just never pictured it actually happening. Sometimes I still think that it's crazy that Corey and I are attending Parent Nights at Rudy's school. Then I look at us and think "Who invited these dorks?" I guess that's how it happens to everyone: Your adulthood sort of creeps up and surprises you and by the time it happens, you're
teetering on the border of middle age... Okay, maybe I'm not at the border just yet but I can see it without using binoculars so it's closer than I thought. ;)

The Type-A in me uses birthdays to measure whether I'm meeting my goals and for the first time in many years I'm feeling quite content. Usually, in the aftermath of a birthday, I'm motivated to make a huge change: start a new project, try for another baby, buy a new house. This year, I can actually say that I have everything I immediately want and much much more than I need. Sure, we'll continue renovating our house. I'll always strive to improve at work; be a better mom; lose the baby weight... but at this moment, I couldn't ask for any more than I have and I'm feeling incredibly grateful.

This past year has brought us many good things like new friends, a new home and a new member of the family. It was also one of the most emotionally and physically difficult of my life. I wouldn't trade our amazing Maude for anything but I'm happy to put this past year behind me. Pregnancy was not easy for me and, while I love Maude fiercely, I'm tired of having a newborn and excited at the prospect of having two children rather than a child and a baby. As we're learning with Rudy, each year brings it's own challenges and worries but the monotony of life with a newborn suffocates me. I've come to realize that I don't need to love every stage as long as I love my kids and just accepting that fact has brought me a lot of relief.

On my last birthday, I was not yet pregnant with Maude and we had not even decided to move... although we bought our house one week later. What a difference one year can make!

I began the day at 5 a.m. after Rudy woke up from a bad dream and we let her crawl into bed with us to watch a movie. I'm ending it now after finishing some paperwork and eating the better part of a caramel crunch birthday cake (right out of the box) with Corey for dinner. Not exactly glamorous but I loved the extra cuddles I got from Rudy this morning and the cake was from friends who wanted to brighten my day. So, despite my day being long, it was filled with love and a lot of reminders that I have so much to be thankful for. There is sweetness in the exhaustion.



So that's how I've left 34 behind: thankful for all that I have (with my family at the top of that list) but also very happy to close the door on 34 and look toward the future!


14.9.17

Let's Get Real: The Truth Behind My Instagram Posts


Let's get real: Life with a toddler and an infant is raw and messy and exhausting. However, my Instagram page may tell a different story. There's been a push lately to raise awareness to the fact that social media distorts reality and can make us feel inadequate.

Browsing through my Instagram feed, I'm often in awe of people's picturesque vacation photos, angelic looking children, HGTV worthy homes and expertly plated home-cooked meals. How does everyone find the time? How does everyone find the money?? I realize that I am also guilty of showcasing an airbrushed version of our lives online. I crop out the mess, lighten the photo and for every photo I post, I discard several others. Nobody wants to see runny noses or dishes on the counter so I don't post them. I think for most of us, it's not an intention to deceive but rather to only remember the happy picturesque moments that's really behind our posts. Isn't it only natural to want to focus on the very best times?

The danger is that we sometimes forget that everyone is doing the same thing. With this in mind and drawing inspiration from a very honest blog post: It Ain't All Rainbows And Matching Pajamas: The Truth Behind One Mon's Facebook Posts, I'd like to share our own reality behind the photos. Here are some of my recent Instagram posts with explanations of what's actually happening behind the scenes:

Instagram Post: Before and after photos of Maude's nursery are up on the blog. Link in profile


Reality:  When I took this photo, Maude was a newborn and Corey and I hadn't slept in days. The nursery was supposed to be finished before she was born but preeclampsia complications resulted in an early c-section and my hormones made my disappointment at not being "ready" for Maude even worse. I only took a few weeks off from work and we wanted me to be able to enjoy Maude in a serene space so Corey and I (Corey especially) worked really hard the week after she was born to get this room in order.


Instagram Post: 🐶❤


Reality: I took this photo minutes after Maude's newborn photo shoot ended. Rudy had been an uncooperative two-year-old and I was feeling totally deflated since I feared that our photographer hadn't had the opportunity to capture a single good shot. It had literally been hours of tantrums and bribery while I tried to keep my hormonal body from sweating through my dress. I saw Rudy being so sweet and gentle with Barkley and I was determined to capture one good shot that day. In the end, my photographer captured many beautiful moments that morning but I didn't realize that at the time.


Instagram Post: 🛩❤


Reality: We were trying to kill time at the airport because we had arrived way too early and then found that our flight was delayed. We arrived so early because we were determined not to miss our flight like we had that morning. If you look closely, you can see that Rudy's airplane toy has a broken tail. This happened earlier that morning as we were racing for the gate and Rudy fell out of the stroller because I had neglected to strap her back in after security.


Instagram Post: There was no caption for this photo. I posted it in a group with others from the butterfly house.


Reality: Rudy loved the butterflies so much that she picked one up and injured it before I could stop her. I explained sternly that she was hurting it's wing as I pried open her fingers so she could let it go. She cried because I made her let it go. I felt terrible for the butterfly.


Instagram Post: There was no caption for this photo either but I posted several of Rudy and Corey on the beach flying her new kite at sunset.


Reality: Our evening beach walks in P.E.I. genuinely were beautiful moments but they were carefully planned around meal times and nap times and we often had to wait in the car for half an hour when we got there so Maude could eat. It was a beautiful but exhausting vacation and having two young kids while away made me feel like a plate spinning circus act where as soon as one was having fun or sleeping, the other would need something. Back and forth.


Instagram Post: We just can't keep this one out of her sister's crib.


Reality: Seriously guys, how do we keep her out? Now that Rudy can open doors and climb into the crib, I live in fear that she'll either break an arm climbing out of the crib or that she'll crush the baby.


Instagram Post: We had a successful morning of orientation at our new school. School officially starts tomorrow.


Reality: Rudy has had a successful transition to her new school. I'm so proud of how confident and brave she is! That doesn't mean I wasn't still terribly nervous for her first day. All the kids have to be toilet trained at her new school so naturally I was terrified she'd have several accidents the first day and they'd kick her out. (That didn't happen, by the way.) I was also nervous that the kids wouldn't be kind to her or the teachers wouldn't see how special she is and would be put off by the fact that she doesn't always listen. You know... regular parent fears!


Instagram Post: Go Rudy!


Reality: Go Rudy indeed! We spend a lot of time working on things like listening, following instructions and vocabulary because Rudy takes a little longer to learn those things. Sometimes it's no big deal but sometimes it can make new activities challenging. But there are many other skills that Rudy's learned even faster than her peers. We celebrate her strengths and climbing is definitely one of them!


Instagram Post: knee socks, cats and chilly fall mornings...


Reality: This was taken the morning of our worst zoo trip ever. Rudy didn't listen, Maude fussed and, while Corey and I genuinely enjoy parenting about 90% of the time, this day fell into the other 10%. At least Rudy and the cat were cute!


Instagram Post: We can't believe our little Maudezilla is two months old already. She's still mostly nocturnal but life with two is starting to seem more manageable. Maude smiles at us occasionally, relaxes in a warm bath, loves being read to and gets excited when we turn on her mobile. She is so loved and gets lots of "high fives" from her big sister. The cat likes to sleep on her crib but he's terrified of her.


Reality: Maude's first 6 weeks were so hard that we'd already forgotten them. At two months, we were just hoping to finally get some sleep.


Instagram Post: No caption for this one.


Reality: It pains me to look at my post-pregnancy face and body sometimes and it makes it so hard to pose for photos. Two giant babies, two c-sections and two rounds of gestational diabetes have taken their toll but I am making an effort to respect (if not love) the way I look and pose for photos so that the girls can one day see that my love for them was stronger than my vanity. Still, it's nearly impossible to get four people to smile pretty for a photo when one is a newborn and one is a squirmy toddler. We tried our best.


Instagram Post: 1 balloon= hours of fun for both Rudy and Cricket


Reality: I received so many compliments on our living room after I posted this photo. What you don't see here is the mess in the dining room or the fact that that rug has been shampooed more often than Rudy (Okay, not quite but almost!) because our senior dog can't always hold his bladder and our white rug is like a giant puppy pad!


Instagram Post: No Caption.


Reality: It scares me every time I see Rudy balancing on the arm of our rocking chair. She gets that balance from Corey! We left the tags on her ballet outfit (She didn't wear it to class but we let her try it on a few times at home) because she was so wild in her first class that we wanted to speak to the teacher before continuing. We love that she marches to the beat of her own drum and likes to make people laugh but raising a child with such a unique personality can be challenging and scary.


Instagram Post: No caption.


Reality: This picture is probably about as close to perfect as it gets. Sometime a photo really is true to life!

So let's raise a glass to injured butterflies, tantrums, dog pee inside and all the B-List family moments that don't make it to our social media pages. 

30.8.17

Prince Edward Island Family Holiday


Guys, we're back from holiday and you'll be relieved to know that Corey and I survived our first holiday as a family of four! 

I won't lie- we got off to a rough start. We missed our first flight (by a couple of minutes) and we had to go home for several hours before departing about 12 hours later than expected. The airport was rough (sooo much luggage for the girls as well as a stroller and two car seats) and by the time we boarded the plane, I wanted to cry. I really think that anyone who is brave enough to fly with a child or baby alone is a ninja parent. That being said, the rest of the trip was quite lovely. I'll share some highlights and photos with you if you're curious.


So this vacation almost didn't happen. We only booked it 5 or 6 days before we left because we weren't sure if we could handle a trip this soon after Maude's birth. I was terribly worried a trip would be more stress than it was worth. In the end, we decided to go and we chose Atlantic Canada because it's laid back and we know the people there are so nice so we wouldn't feel judged if both girls decided to have meltdowns during dinner... which happened once, by the way. It turned out to be the perfect choice for us! We're also eager to explore more of our own beautiful country and I really enjoyed teaching Rudy about the places we visited. We bought Rudy this atlas and before bed, we'd point out where we drove and which sights we saw. 

We actually flew into Moncton, NB and visited friends who have a hobby farm just north of there. Rudy was in heaven running through their house and "visiting" all the cats and dogs (there seemed to be a different cat in each room of their gorgeous old farmhouse) and they let her feed their chickens and pet their sheep and alpacas. After such a challenging start to the trip, it was lovely to just let Rudy roam free while our friends fed us and took care of us so we could just relax and visit. Rudy was so happy and comfortable there- I think the country life really suits her!


While in New Brunswick, we also visited the Hopewell Rocks. Rudy was so sure-footed, jumping from rock to rock over puddles. I was just proud to have completed the hike while wearing Maude.



After a couple of days in Moncton, we drove into P.E.I. via the Confederation Bridge. Rudy was excited to cross the bridge we had been pointing out in her atlas and to see her first lighthouse. We stayed in a cottage near Cavendish as our home base but we planned day trips all over the island. The scenery was just as beautiful as I had hoped.




Our trip had so many highlights. I loved collecting sea glass in Souris and visiting the Sea Glass Shanty there. It was a tiny shop but the owner was so sweet and made a necklace for Rudy with some sea glass we had found.



We also found the most charming toy store called The Toy Factory. They have the most incredible selection of toys (really well curated) and they're all out and unboxed for the kids to play with. We visited twice and spent hours there both times. Rudy got to make her own wooden car the first time and the second time, the owners (who are really lovely people) followed us out of the shop to give Rudy a little wooden toy she had been playing with. When you visit, don't forget to visit the bunnies in the front or the enchanting fairy garden behind the playground in the back.


We did some typical tourist things like visiting Cows for ice cream, visiting the Butterfly House, eating our weight in lobster and, of course, Green Gables. I probably love Anne of Green Gables more than an adult woman should admit to, so seeing some of the places described in the books nearly brought tears to my eyes.



We were about 20 minutes away from Brackley Beach and we went there several evenings because it was so serene and pretty. It's so rare for a beautiful beach to be nearly deserted and we really enjoyed the solitude. P.E.I. sunsets are even more spectacular set against the sand dunes.





Let's not forget to mention the people. The people on the island were so friendly and warm that we felt right at home. At first, we couldn't understand why they made such a fuss about Maude (strangers kept asking if we could come over or if we could turn her head so they could see her face) and it seemed a little familiar to Torontonians like us. Then we caught on to the fact that in a small population of less than 150,000 people on the entire island, newborn babies aren't as commonplace as they are in the city. People were genuinely excited about Maude because they don't see a dozen babies every day like we do. In Toronto when people stop me to comment on Maude, it's usually to suggest that we're doing something wrong "She's too cold. She needs to be covered" "She looks hot. Should you take off that hat?" "Should her neck be at that angle in her car seat?" but in P.E.I. it was more "Was she born on the island?" "How are YOU feeling?" "Good for you for being out and about!" -Now don't get me wrong, I love Toronto and Toronto people (who are mostly well-intentioned) but P.E.I. was a breath of fresh air.

But more than the sea glass, the beaches or even Green Gables, I loved giving Rudy the type of carefree holiday that reminds me of my own childhood. Rudy thrived on being off-schedule and just exploring in the outdoors and bumming around. She picked wildflowers, collected rocks and sea shells, ate junk food (We let her drink sooo much "chocky milk" at restaurants!) and jumped on the bed. We let her stay up late every night and one night we let her stay up until the sky was completely dark so we could look at the stars. Another night, we went to the beach for sunset and brought a kite to fly.



We had a lot of fun and made some of our first memories as a family of four. It was magical.


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