At Least There Was Cake?

It was my birthday on Tuesday. I turned 33. It was not quite the birthday I had expected. 

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I love birthdays. Mine, the kids, other people: doesn’t matter. I. LOVE. Birthdays. A chance to celebrate, to get together, to share your love for someone? PERFECT. So, typically I’m one of those people who always has a birthday party. Sometime after kids, I skipped one because, well, kids. And one I skipped because I felt bad that I was one of the only people still having birthday get together. And then I figured SCREW IT birthdays are awesome and we don’t see people we care about often enough anyway. 

So, I was determined to have a party this year. For Ianiv too, actually, who had his 35th in October. Well. Life happened. We bought a cottage (crazy, stressful, amazing). Aiden started school (amazing, so great, an adjustment on our schedule). We had weekends packed with events (which I love, but still crazy). I had a lot of ups and downs with work (mostly ups). Damien started potty training. And dropping his nap. And both kids were sleeping like crap. Put it all together and my birthday just crept up too quickly and I never did get around to planning something. 

The day of my birthday involved a feverish 5-year-old and a potty trained 2.5 year old who withholds for painful periods of time, with much stress and tears and anxiety along the way. 

But at least there was cake? And beer advent calendars? 

As Aiden’s teacher kindly reminded me, moms and celebrations don’t often mix! ;)

Home Offices Are Necessary

Ianiv and I have been working from home in some capacity for about 9 years now. We both left our ‘corporate’ jobs to start our own company and also work with local start-ups in Vancouver, him as a software developer and me as a marketing & blogging & social media consultant. Our roles have varied through time, but through it all we’ve always required a place from home in which to work. 

When we lived in our small apartment in Kitsilano, our “office” was our living room, him on one side of the room and myself on the other. It worked and we fit an amazing amount of furniture into such a small space. But we both found that it was hard to ‘stop’ work when the day was over, since our computers were always within sight. The laptops often traveled to the couch with us. 

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When we purchased our current house, which had 3 bedrooms and a ‘den’ on the third floor, we set up two separate offices. I took the top floor with the window view while Ianiv took an office on the bedroom level. Since we had our two boys, we’ve had to merge offices. Since my office space was larger, and actually contained a couch at one point and a spare bed at another, it made sense to use the upper floor. 

We have shared this office space for a couple of years now and it’s served us well. We are currently looking to  build a custom desk to minimize the ‘stuff’ and maximize our space, which has been my motto for the past year (see my Pinterest board for my inspiration ideas). But I will say this – I am so glad our office is high up. 

When you have kids, they naturally want to be with you. If one of us is up here working, we can (mostly) ensure that the chaos of the kids stays far away from the work space. Sometimes little feet come running up for attention from the other parent, but mostly we try to avoid that. Though the noise does travel, the physical space acts as a boundary both for us (mentally) as well as for them. I find it much easier to get into the headspace of work in a dedicated office, as well as to mentally release from work when I leave. 

If you also work from home, how do you manage the work / life balance as well as the physical space issue? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

To My Damien on his 2nd Birthday

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Dear Damien,

Happy birthday my wonderful, giggly, amazing boy! It feels like today you go from being my baby to being a little boy, though to me you will always remain my special little man. 

Just as last year we celebrated your birthday with parachutes and balloons, again this year we celebrate all you are with a lollipop party full of colour and vibrancy and enthusiasm, all words I would use to describe you.

Damien, your love for life is infectious; you end each day in fits of giggles and smiles, grinning from ear to ear as you stare lovingly into my face. You shower all those around you with your cheery personality, ready to run at the world and see what it has to offer you. Nothing is holding you back now, my Damien, and I hope you continue to rush at life with such passion – as long as you let me hold your hand, sometimes. 

Music fills your soul, and it brings me such joy to watch you hum, sing, dance and tap out the rhythms of your life. You sing because it’s a part of you. You see the world as your giant drum or stage, taking your songs with you as you go. Toys don’t hold much sway for you yet, you’re more than happy to spend a few moments here or there, exploring and thinking and smiling. Sometimes you invite me into your world, sharing some recipe you’ve created or bringing me some toy or game you want to explore together. 

My Damien, you have taught me so much this year about how to see the world. About how to be filled with joy and excitement. About how to love with your whole self, the way you love all of us, especially your brother Aiden. 

Damien, may the music in you always find a way to come out and shine on those around you. I will always be here, listening and admiring and supporting, as you write the score of your life. Happy Birthday my boy!

All my love,
Mommy

I Need a Post-Holiday Holiday

I love Christmas. I spend the whole year thinking about neat things to buy for people, keeping my ideas in a Christmas shopping app, and tracking all the little stocking stuffers I pick up. Come December, I’m usually mostly done shopping, although I’ve always had one major shopping trip to tie up the rest. This year, I did all of the “rest” online, so I only visited one store in the mall to buy a Christmas present, and made an extra trip to the brewery. Very neat and tidy. Neater than the 6 store visits it took me to find the materials for the snow globes below:

I treasure every moment of Christmas. All the outings, the lights, and picking just the right tree. I love looking at my tree all lit up and wrapping the gifts with care. In past years, I was known to make my own cards and wrapping paper. As a busy mom, I content myself with a beautiful photo card and the care and attention of meticulous wrapping with special attention to ribbons or special ornaments tied on in lieu of bows. 

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Although I’m close with my mom, we don’t have a large family here that celebrates Christmas. It makes me sad that we don’t have more get togethers with friends or with family at this time of year, because to me that is the essence of Christmas. To replace that, I try hard to include family when we do special outings. It doesn’t always work, and sometimes it’s quite a headache to organize, but it’s worth it. 

After the busy month preparing for Christmas, and the hectic day of presents, brunch with family, nap, then dinner with family, plus all the rush and tension and drama that always unfolds, it’s easy to feel worn out by Boxing Day. This year, my slump hit the day after Boxing Day. Granted, a little 19-month-old woke me 3 times last night, but I’m feeling tired today. 

My nose has been congested for about 6 weeks and I really really need a massage. The two combined is leaving me in agony from the shoulders up. So. MUCH. pressure. My ears feel ready to burst with it. My body was not ready for the emotional aftermath of Christmas and I’m feeling like I’d just like to take a day to just sleep and be lazy and appreciate some space (an ongoing issue for me). 

So, are you feeling like you need a post-holiday holiday too?

Struggling for Personal Space

One of the biggest struggles I’ve had to adjust to in having 2 kids is my need for personal space. This struggle began when Damien was born, who turned into another high needs baby, and was intensified when Aiden stopped napping (when Damien was 2 months old). 10 months later, parenting a 3.5 year old and a 1 year old, I struggle with this issue on a daily basis. 

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I’d like to tell you I love every moment I spend with my kids. But that’s the thing. It’s every moment. From the time they wake up, I have no time to myself until they go to bed. On preschool days, I sometimes luck out and Damien takes a longer morning nap. I use this time to relax a tiny bit, but mostly to work. Other days, Damien’s nap times are spent with Aiden having “special Mommy Aiden time”, which he really needs. He’s a cuddly kid who needs a lot of attention. 

Since Aiden still gets tired in the middle of the day, and so do I, Aiden is allowed to watch some tv during part of Damien’s afternoon nap. Thankfully, this nap is almost always over an hour (it wasn’t for many months). I used to sit with Aiden to watch his shows most days, but honestly I still felt overwhelmed. When I sit there, Aiden asks me a lot of questions (which is great to moderate the tv experience, I know) and often wants to sit in my lap. That’s not really giving me the space I need. 

Instead, most days I spend the majority of the tv experience doing other things: cleaning, organizing, having my lunch, doing stuff around the house. This time is interrupted many times by Aiden, who wants food, a drink, has a question, needs the episode changed, etc. It’s not a time I can go be by myself to read a book or even to work (I tried in vain for many months, it wasn’t productive). Our house is slowly getting more organized than it has ever been. And yet I’m still wound too tightly. 

I am lucky to have a husband who is very involved in parenting and often gives me a half hour to relax between dinner and bath time, who will drive Aiden to preschool to give me more time to myself when Damien is napping, who will play with both kids while I take a walk (schedule and weather permitting) or at the very least clean the kitchen and make coffee in the morning. 

Although I may struggle for ‘down time’, taking care of the kids full time and working, it’s this lack of personal space that overwhelms me. I don’t have a solution. Anyone else struggle with this?