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Posts Tagged ‘kids’

The Justina Jar


Sometimes it feels like once we’ve solved one set of problems with the kids, another one pops up.

One of the things we’ve struggled with is instilling in our kids a sense of gratitude and giving. It’s difficult for kids to truly understand how blessed they are when they live in a good middle-class neighbourhood where all their friends are in the same boat. They play sports, go to birthday parties, have birthday parties, get presents, have food on the table, clothes on their backs. We donate and collect gifts for the needy and do extra during the holidays. Their schools do various charity drives throughout the year that they actively participate in. But often that gets forgotten as the year goes on and whining for new Lego (um, when did Lego become so freaking expensive??) or Frozen swag becomes the focus.

So this year we decided to ‘adopt’ a little girl in Zambia. We were able to see her picture and see exactly how our monthly donation would help her and her family. Because we wanted this to be a family project, we set up a collection jar in the kitchen and we all have to contribute during the month. At the end of the month, the eldest (8YO) will count all the money. We thought that was important because we didn’t want this to just be mom and dad adding another expense onto the credit card. We want this little girl to be a part of our daily lives. Her name is on the jar, which sits on our counter.

The kids immediately ran to their piggy banks and filled up the jar and are excited and proud. It’s a damn fine way to start the year ;-). Oh and that paper you see in the jar? The 4YO drew her a picture and put it in-I think she thinks we’re physically mailing that jar to Africa every month :). And there’s the minor problem of the 4YO thinking that we’re taking a trip to Africa soon to meet her…oh well, one problem at a time, lol. 

It’s a start. It’s one way we can help out, but obviously there’s so much more we can do as a family. Right now, this clicked with the kids and it’s something they can both understand. This little girl has become real to them and they refer to her by name. They wonder about her life and what kind of house she lives in, about if she has clean clothes and food to eat. The 4YO was whining about a pair of pants that she hated and didn’t want to wear when we were going out for dinner one night. I left the room and told her she wasn’t coming to the restaurant unless she wore the pants. Then I eavesdropped with my husband as the 8YO went in and told her she should wear them because “think of Justina, who has to wear mud pants.” Okay, we probably should have corrected that, but it worked because then they started talking about her, the 4YO wore the pants and they stopped thinking about themselves.

What about you guys? Any family goals or projects you’re working on? Any traditions or interesting ways you give back as a family?

The Monday Rush…

It was another packed weekend over here.

I love that Saturday mornings-even though the days of sleeping in no longer exist-there is no school rush, no lunches to be packed, or racing out of the house in the frigid winter temps. I love having that extra cup of coffee with my husband while listening to the kids play (or argue) in the other room. I love winter mornings-well, I love being inside on winter mornings, especially if there’s snow on the ground or falling from the sky.

This Saturday we also had some good friends over for coffee-during the day. This was a new one for us. We always used to get together with this couple in the evening, but now they have their own wee one. They have an adorable 5-month old little boy. And we haven’t seen them in ages and the kids were dying to meet the baby. Funny how things change. This was a couple we’d enjoy having a few drinks with-he’s an absolute riot and I laugh in anticipation before he even starts telling us one of his crazy stories. But now we all have kids and this visit was fun and very family oriented…but different.

Sunday was lunch at my parents house-Nonna and Nonno’s house. Sunday lunch is sacred-you miss it and you will be guilted forever-Italian mother’s have mastered the ability to guilt. :).

Sunday night we had another couple come over, this time after the kids were in bed. It was catch up with all the friends we hadn’t seen in a few months.

It’s still amazing to me how fast life is going, especially with kids. We had a funeral to go to last week and it just made me stop and think about how we really need to embrace each day. To see the joy in each day-and be grateful we’ve been given another day with the people we love so dearly.

I also managed to cram in some writing time. I’ve got a super packed schedule this year-some projects that I haven’t announced yet, but I will soon :-).

If I can find something decent in the current book I’m working on, I’ll post a teaser tomorrow.

Hope you all had a great weekend.


Hello Toronto, nice to see you again.

Toronto PostcardSo we recently headed into downtown Toronto with the kids for a visit with my brother. He’d moved to a new condo and we were dying to see it. The three year old hadn’t been on a train before, nor had she been to the city so this was an epic day for her. Along for the ride was my mom, the seven year old (who loved imparting many words of supposed wisdom of his many trips into the city), myself and the three year old.

Once settled on the train I noticed with dread that we were seated in the section with all the emergency exit signs and pulls. Of course the kids noticed all the brightly coloured, green pulls as well. What ensued was me making a threat that if they were pulled, a policeman would come and put them in jail (okay, I know that’s harsh, but you should have seen the gleam in their eyes as they stared at those emergency handles). The rest of the train ride was uneventful, just the usual stuff like the 3YO refusing to hold my hand as we were disembarking, thus stopping the flow of traffic behind us which resulted in me just hauling her along crying.

We arrived at my brother’s condo which is in the heart of a gorgeous part of the city and on the thirty-seventh floor. Spectacular view-the kids were very impressed. We then headed out for lunch. And oh, I miss this so much about the city…being able to step out your door and WALK everywhere. We had a lovely lunch and wandered around and then went back to his place for a while before heading back to the train and the burbs…

I used to go to school downtown Toronto for two years and I never realized just how much I miss it. DH (from Toronto originally) and I used to go all the time. Since kids…not often. I had a moment while we were walking outside that just gripped me out of nowhere and it was that yearning for my ‘other’ self. The one I rarely think about. The twenty-something, pre-kid-pre-mortgage-version of myself. And even though it was just last decade, it seems as far ago as my childhood. I love my life now, truly I know how blessed I am. But do you ever get those moments where you remember who you were before the truly adult version of yourself?

The Second Time Around

old-82901_640I drove myself crazy before and the first few weeks during the release of THE BILLIONAIRE’S CHRISTMAS BABY.  Why?  Reviews.  I drove everyone around me nuts.  I had a nightmare that the night my book was to be released, I’d wake up to five 1-star reviews.  I questioned why I had ever entered writing, why I would willingly put my work out their for public scrutiny.  I never realized how insecure I could be.  It was terrifying.  But I had to be a big girl and come to terms with the fact that not everyone in the playground was going to be my friend.  Not everyone was going to like me.

It reminded me of when I was in grade one and too shy or nervous to talk to anyone at my new school.  So I’d stand by the fence at recess and count down the minutes until it was over.  It took me a year to make friends.  But I was six, and I’ve come a long way since then 😉  I’m not shy or introverted (though if I’m at a big party I’d still rather people-watch than make conversation with people I don’t know).  I would never want my kids to feel shy and to let their own insecurities stop them from fulfilling a dream (luckily I don’t think this will happen to either of my kids, who take after their father-the life of the party).

This time?  Yeah, I’m nervous again.  But I’m also a little tougher, a little wiser.  I’ve decided I’m a writer and I’m not going anywhere.  There will be readers and reviewers that don’t like my books.  But there will also be readers and reviewers that do.  I’ve connected with so many wonderful people and have had emails from so many lovely readers.  Every wonderful review that was posted filled me with excitement.  I want to be an example for my kids, to show them that it’s okay to put yourself out there, regardless of the results.  It’s okay to take chances, it’s okay to keep trying, it’s okay to face criticism.  All of that really does make you stronger.

In my upcoming book, my heroine has suffered some huge losses in her life-and taking a chance at loving someone again seems too painful, too risky.  But Holly needs to come to terms with the fact that in order to really live, she does need to love.  And love can be risky, and without guarantees…lucky for her I’m guaranteeing a happily ever after for them 😉

So this second time around, I’m going to gather up that courage that I’ve forced upon my heroine, and I’m going to be calmer and more Zen-like.  I’m going to take a little bit of the control-freak away and just go with the flow…

…and I’m going to work on that next book-or maybe clean the house.  Nah.  Wine!

My favourite time of year…

I’m so happy we made it to autumn.  This is my absolute favourite time of year.  Cool mornings and evenings, crisp air filled with the smell of freshly fallen leaves.  Oh, and kids back in school 🙂

DS started grade one at a new school last Wednesday.  This was huge for him (and me).  I think I may have been more nervous than he.  It took me an hour to pack his lunch (don’t ask) and all the while I kept thinking how fast everything flew by.  I could have sworn my little guy was just a baby a few months ago.  Now, he’s off to grade one.  He had a great first day, loved his class, and his ‘big kid’ school.  HUGE relief!  I still have the almost-two-year old at home with me, so the days are packed.

This wasn’t the best of summers, so I am happy to see it go.  Radiation for my dad ended the last week of August, and in December he will hopefully get the all-clear.  He’s looking good, so that’s a nice indicator that he should be fine.  We managed to squeeze in one last trip to the beach before school for the kids, so that makes me feel a little better that the boring summer for the kids ended on a high note.

As for my writing…well it’s been a challenge.  For the first time in a long, long time, I’ve really struggled with productivity.  The whole summer was filled with chaos, lack of routine, and those daily trips to the hospital.  And it’s taken it’s toll.  I feel like I’m finally getting back into the swing of things.  And boy do I need to…

I’m gearing up for a huge year-I’m working on a super secret project (I can’t believe I’m actually writing that), as well as finishing up a proposal that should have been done a while ago, and I’m waiting to hear on a proposal that was sent in during the summer.  My first book releases in November!  As soon as I have the title I’ll share…

Now that routine is back, I’m starting my 5am wake-ups again…and I do love them.  The trick to making them work though, is by being asleep by 11pm.  I know that this 5 am slot is my time, without any of the interruptions and unexpected duties that the day inevitably brings.  And it’s nice to know that some word count has been done by the time DD and I are walking DS to school.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, productive autumn….with plenty more blog posts!

Whatever happened to…

those lazy days of summer?  I haven’t seen one!  This summer has been filled with so much running around and juggling that lazy is the last word I’d use to describe it.  But we’re getting through it.  We’ve even managed to get out to a bunch of our favourite kiddie places, including the close-by Provincial park.  Kids love it (there are animals that they can visit and terrorize) and trails where we can try and get some good walking done.  Of course, we usually stop at Tim Horton’s to pick up a coffee, so we can actually have enough energy to walk 🙂

My dad’s treatment is going well, and he only has 3 weeks left of radiation.  The days have been filled with trying to juggle the kids, the hospital, housework, and oh, yeah, writing!  But we’re managing.  And we’re planning on celebrating with my dad on his last day of radiation.

I must confess though, I’m SO looking forward to September…


A state of emergency was called…

My coffee maker broke yesterday.  We had a house full of people and there I was, pouring the coffee when, SNAP, the handle split from the glass carafe and it crashed on the counter top.  Hot coffee spilled everywhere.  But that wasn’t the tragedy.  It was broken.  BROKEN.

State of emergency?  Well, yes.  Without coffee, children won’t be fed, dressed, bathed.  Chaos will erupt.  Word count goals won’t be met.  In essence, the house will cease to run.

So, bright and early, I got out my trusty little Italian, stove-top espresso maker  (yup, it was purchased in Italy, over a decade ago at a little ‘mercato’ in my father’s village) and brewed a delightful cup of Illy coffee…And then I grabbed the kids and hightailed it over to the mall where I purchased a gleaming, new, pretty-looking coffee maker.

Now, I’m not known for my skills of assembly or instruction manuel interpretation (my eyes cross over and the words suddenly look foreign), but I got this baby set up in record time.  And now, I’m sipping my second cup of freshly ground Ethiopian coffee…oh, and writing…

I promise, no more posts on coffee…

Bribery isn’t always wrong…is it?

My plan for getting writing done while away this week is to put DD down for a nap, and then take DS out to the little coffee shop in town.  The coffee shop is also a bakery, which all plays into my plan…

I have purchased a stack of colouring/activity books, a Cars 2 sticker book, new markers, new pencil crayons…all in the hopes that DS can entertain himself for at least one hour while I try and get some writing done.  I have also promised him a yummy treat every day at the coffee shop as well.  We’ll see if he can remain silent for longer than 5 minutes…

Pass the coffee, please.

Yawn…so how do you function when your sleep is cut up into small portions because your children (ages 5 and 16mos) should be sleeping through the night, and yet for one reason or another are up?

Our first child, started sleeping through the night more often than not by the age of 2 months-WOW.  We were spoiled and didn’t even know it because we were busy adjusting to life as new parents lol.  DD, our second child, has still not mastered the art of sleeping through the night and it’s slowly killing me…

Now, they have started taking turns.  One night it’s DD.  The next night it’s DS.

And then this morning, as I was pressing snooze on my alarm, wondering why I came up with the ‘brilliant’ idea of waking up early to write in the morning, I heard the pitter-pattering…actually no, more like the loud thumping of my son’s feet (I don’t know how someone who weighs like 45lbs could be so loud, but anyway…) in the hallway.  I ask him what he’s doing awake at this time of the morning (this is 5:15 am-remember).  So he says, “well, you wake up at this time, why can’t I?”  So I, of course tell him to go back to bed, using the “I’m a grown-up,” line.  I need to guard this time like a precious gem.  Seriously, now even my obscene waking hours are being threatened?


Well, it’s a good thing it’s one of my favourite times of year in Canada…Roll up the Rim!  I will be frequenting Timmy’s this morning…



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