29.3.19

Building Sibling Bonds


For the past few months, Corey and I have finally been able to step back and enjoy the relationship Rudy and Maude are forming. It's a sweet friendship that's mostly nurturing, occasionally jealous and often silly! Watching Maude copy her sister's antics or watching Rudy help Maude get dressed is now one of my greatest joys as their mother. It's so crazy to watch them forming this bond that (hopefully) will last long past my own lifetime.

Until recently, their play still needed a lot of intervention. Rudy needed reminders to include her sister and they both often needed reminders to share but these days they seem to regulate themselves quite well. Sometimes, when we are out and about, the girls insist on holding hands the entire time. It melts my heart!

Many people ask us what we do to encourage the girls to get along so well. My first instinct is to say "nothing" and assume that it's just luck and their temperaments... and it is those things to a large extent! But when I think carefully, I see that we made some deliberate decisions early on to help curb jealousy and create a bond. Now these things have become habits for all of us but I'll share some of the conscious things we have done. (Not that we're experts, because we're certainly not! I'm equally interested in hearing your tips!)

  • I remember when I was pregnant with Maude. We read so many books to Rudy and we made sure the books focused on the big sister more than the baby. We wanted her to feel really special in her new role.
  • The first time Rudy visited me in hospital after Maude was born, I made sure not to be holding Maude so Rudy could climb into bed with me right away. Then I could gently ask "Shall we take a look at your baby sister?"



  • In those early (newborn) days, "Baby Maude" seemed to find such cute little presents to give her big sister! Bribery works... and I learned this tip from my own mom!
  • When Maude was a newborn (and still pretty boring to a toddler) we sort of gave her a personality by speaking for her to make it easier for Rudy to relate to her. "Baby Maude wants to know if she can listen to a story with you!" "Baby Maude thinks that's funny!" "Baby Maude wants you to sing a song to her!""Baby Maude loves you!"
  • It goes without saying but we always make an effort to give them each individual time with each of us to show them how special they are so there's no need for them to compete for our attention. When either enters the room, they need to see our faces light up.



  • We often speak as if they're a team: "What are you sisters up to now?" "You girls are so silly and funny!" "You girls are such awesome sisters!"
  • We force them to share. If we are giving them a treat or even a snack, we usually give it to one and tell her to go and share it with her sister. This way, they get to practice sharing and they know it's their sister who usually brings them a treat.


  • They each have several photos of the other in their rooms as well as photos of the two of them together. We like to weave a family culture into their daily life.
  • We encourage them to kiss and hug their sister goodnight. Every. Single. Night. It's one of the last things each of them do.



  • Finally, we encourage lots of silly, rough play! I think they bond more easily while running through the house shrieking or while jumping on the bed bashing into each other than they do playing quietly.



So now I'd love to hear from you guys. What do you do to build sibling bonds? Have I missed any really good tips? I'd love to hear what has worked for you! I'm especially interested to hear tips that may help as they get older. I hear the teenage years are tough! haha

Five Fun Things


Hi and happy Friday! This has been such a busy week that most nights, I've found myself working until late at night and totally ignoring the time. My head is spinning but the longer days have me feeling energized and productive.

Today I wanted to share some things with you that have brought a smile to my face lately. One of my favourite blogs, Cup of Jo, runs a regular feature called "Four Fun Things" and I had intended to imitate the idea before realizing I couldn't narrow my list so I settled at five.


Nail Polish

Do you splurge on manicures? What brands of nail polish do you wear?

I have never been great about keeping my nails manicured. I find that my nail polish always ends up chipping so I can never seem to keep my nails nice with a regular manicure. I always wanted to be someone with lovely nails, but I was never willing to invest the time or money for maintenance. I started getting gel or shellac manicures last year and I was thrilled with how long they lasted but they ended up really damaging my nails.

I have finally found a great solution in Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro polish, which is actually just really good quality regular nail polish (I say this because I initially thought I'd need a UV lamp to cure them) that stays on forever without chipping. It also comes off easily so I'm sort of in love! Hint: Many colours are on sale right now at Sephora!


Kid-Friendly Youtube Videos

Let's talk about Youtube for kids! Corey and I have been pretty strict about Rudy not browsing Youtube on her own even before this Momo Challenge hysteria but there are times when we use it as a reward. Right now, Rudy LOVES this channel and I must say that I don't mind much because the videos are (weirdly) catchy and educational. Her favourites (currently) are the videos on the human body, specifically the stomach and the ear. She loves telling us the the cochlea looks like a snail!


US

Have you seen US yet? Corey and I saw it last weekend and it sort of blew our minds. I feel like I could keep watching it over and over and see new imagery each time. Many people see it as a commentary on the current racial tension in America or perhaps a socioeconomic satire. What do you think? Here's a great article (SPOILER ALERT!) outlining some of the theories.



Kittens

Guys, we've been enjoying an adorable treat lately and I've been sharing snippets on Instagram and Facebook. My mom has been feeding a stray cat for a long time and we finally managed to catch her just in time for her to give birth to five adorable kittens! Squee!

Our family tends to adopt adult or older pets so seeing kittens up close is such a treat for us. I've been reading up on their development and they are just over a week old now and so incredibly tiny and fluffy! My mom is hoping to eventually have the mama kitty spayed so she can keep her and our friends are stepping forward offering good homes to the kittens. (I want to keep one too but Corey's putting his foot down.)

The girls have been delighted with the videos I've shown them and they are so excited to see "Nana's kittens" so we're hoping to take them this weekend. They won't be allowed to hold them yet but they can at least see them. I'm so excited!




Hidden Pictures

Blake Richardson offers an interesting take on photography. He digitally alters his images to create barely visible creatures hidden within the scenery. There's something almost meditative about studying his pictures and looking for the hidden animals. I'd love to show Rudy because she has such an eye for detail and I'd be so interested to know what she sees first. I suspect her autistic mind would likely find it easier to uncover the hidden details. What do you see in the photo below? It reminds me of my favourite feature in my Highlights magazine as a child? Who remembers Highlights? There's a Hidden Pictures app now!


Have a great weekend!

17.3.19

8 Great Sources for Affordable Art


This week, Corey has been working on organizing our staging inventory and taking photos of our art, accessories and furniture to make it easier for me to plan storyboards for each listing. It's a huge job, but will make our lives much easier once it's done. To give you some idea of the immensity of our project, pictured above is most (not all ) of the art. There's still furniture, rugs, accessories, throw pillows (which are so numerous they form a category of their own!) and more! 

A note about artists: While I'm posting affordable sources here, I'm all for supporting artists and practiced artists deserve to be paid top dollar for their work. While splurging on a few really special pieces is great, I think most of us need some budget-friendly options for the rest of our walls.

Many of you ask me where I get my staging art and I'm here to share some of my favourite affordable sources:


1. HomeSense almost always has some cool options and I've noticed some amazing nursery art canvasses there lately. I get a lot of my wall art that I use for staging from HomeSense. The two drawbacks are that you're unlikely to find something truly unique and that they don't post inventory online so you may have to check different stores to find what you want.

2. Etsy not only has originals and prints in all different media, you can also search for downloadable art that you can have printed and framed or mounted yourself to save on shipping costs! 

3. Society6 is a really cool website where you can shop for art prints but also textiles, phone cases, mugs and many other items printed with art. 

4. Target! It should be no surprise that Target is on my list. I love crossing the border to take a look at their goods but they also ship to Canada!


5. Structube is probably my second largest source of staging items that aren't vintage! 

6. Ebay can often be a great source for vintage paintings. I love giving a new life to vintage art and I've purchased lovely old paintings and drawings from ebay and had them framed.

7. Juniper Print Shop allows you to buy prints (They even have special sizes to fit in Ikea frames!) or digital files! You'll see one of their prints in my future staging photos.



8. Wayfair has everything. It can be a great source but you do have to sort through an impressive, yet overwhelming volume of inventory. The yellow framed print in the photo above is from Wayfair.

Enjoy refreshing your space for spring! For those of you expecting tax refunds, maybe this will give you some inspiration! If you do end up using one of these sources, please send me a photo of what you buy. I love seeing them!

Special thanks to my real estate photographer, Thea Menagh for the staging photos.

14.3.19

Why I Got My Nose Pierced at 36



I still giggle a bit when people ask me about my nose piercing. I still feel a bit like I'm sixteen and my mom might force me to take it out. For the record, she actually told me last week that now that she's accustomed to it, she likes it and thinks it's pretty!

I have always admired tiny nostril piercings when I saw other women rocking them but I had never really considered getting one of my own. My own personal style has always been pretty conservative and, with the exception of one piercing in each ear that I got when I was six and a very small hidden tattoo, I had not seriously considered anything as bold as a visible tattoo or a non-ear piercing. That changed last summer when Corey and I decided to get matching Neurodiversity tattoos.

What's Neurodiversity, you ask? For us, it's the belief that many brain differences (like Autism, ADD, SPD etc.) are not disorders caused by something "going wrong" during development. Instead we (and many experts and Neurodiverse people) believe that these special brains are just a part of normal variation within the human genome. We often tell Rudy that her Autistic brain is different and special and that the world needs all different kinds of brains in order for people to solve all different kinds of problems.

Anyway, the whole point of getting our tattoos was to spark conversation with people and to show Rudy as she grows up that her brain is nothing to hide or be ashamed of. For this reason, Corey and I both got our tattoos in fairly visible places: Corey on the inside of his upper arm and me on my inner wrist. While initially a little self-conscious, I quickly forgot all about my tattoo and I no longer worry about judgement from other people. It's probably not something I would have been brave enough to do early in my career but now that I'm more established, I no longer feel pressure to look or dress to satisfy a certain stereotype and the feeling is very freeing.

While we were getting our tattoos, everyone in the shop was totally amazing (they even held Maude for us!) and I kept noticing the women with their edgy and cool facial piercings and I totally wanted one too. While I still don't see myself getting a septum or cheek piercing (although I think they're awesome) a tiny crystal in my nostril seemed mostly safe and still a teensy bit rebellious. While I didn't get it the day I got my tattoo, I was back a couple of weeks later for the big pierce and YIKES did it ever hurt! WAY more than the tattoo, in case you're curious! Corey says I didn't flinch but I was definitely screaming on the inside! haha

At the time, I wondered if it was some sort of early mid-life crisis but I think it's more a sign that I'm coming into my own. As I get deeper into my thirties, I'm feeling more and more free to be myself and it is awesome. I feel more confident now and even wear brighter colours instead of my old monochrome uniform.

The other day, I wore a new outfit and over the course of the day four strangers complimented my outfit. Each time, my initial thought was "OMG that's crazy. I am SUCH a mom. I'm not cool at all. I've gained so much weight since having the girls..." and then I remembered that I am a chic lady with a tattoo on my wrist and a nostril piercing and I smiled, looked them in the eye and said "Thank you!"

24.2.19

No Need to Sparkle



Last week, Katie Holmes posted a photo of herself and her daughter to Instagram with the following quote by Virginia Woolf:

No need to sparkle.
No need to hurry.
No need to be anything but oneself.
-Virginia Woolf

Now, I am rarely "in the loop" when it comes to the lives of celebrities (Katie Holmes included) but her IG post went viral and I thought it was so so lovely.

When I was pregnant with Rudy, I just knew she was going to be exceptional. When she was born, with all the hubris of a new mom I marveled at all the amazing things she did and I assumed she'd speed her way through all her milestones. And she did... until she didn't. It shook my world the first time I heard the phrase "severe language delay" and I was plagued with guilt and even a little shame. "Where had we gone wrong?" "How had I missed this?" When we realized that she's Autistic I remember feeling afraid that she wouldn't be able to keep up with her peers. I think there's a lot of pressure on parents for their children to somehow "measure up" and I think it's making us crazy! It took a long time for me to realize how silly it is to expect people to learn at the same pace when we're all so different.

As most first time parents do, we eventually learned the peace and relief that come when you finally toss away the invisible measuring stick. Instead of wondering why she didn't know fifty words, we celebrated when she knew twenty. Once we stopped worrying about what her peers were doing, we were able to enjoy watching her learn at her own pace. As soon as I stopped comparing and competing, I was able to see how beautiful and amazing it is to watch a little brain absorb and apply knowledge.

Even now, Rudy communicates well but we have learned that she learns language very differently than most other children. Most of Rudy's speech comes from a vast repertoire of scripts that she modifies to suit different scenarios. It's incredible to watch and so different from the way Maude learns.

While Maude was an infant, I worried terribly that I would compare the girls and I was terrified that I'd resent one of the girls if she were more advanced than her sister. As it turns out, I don't feel that way at all. The girls are so different and they each have their own talents and challenges. My job is to keep them safe and help them to become the best versions of themselves. I think that having a child that doesn't fit inside the box has allowed me to open my own mind.

I think the beauty is that when you stop searching for the sparkle, you realize it's there. Just maybe not in the obvious ways you expected to see it. It may not be as showy, but it's incredibly beautiful.

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!


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