Hawaii honeymoon

A summertime emergency kit

You know what’s fun? Shopping for crayons. You know what’s especially fun? Shopping for crayons you don’t plan on letting your kids use.

Staples is doing a promotion with Visa Checkout and I was offered the chance to build a summertime emergency kit. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that when it comes to this whole parenting thing, I’m pretty much always game for an emergency kit that will make this gig easier.

I’m a little anxious about school ending for Connor. He does better when he’s busy and active and challenged, and I’m concerned about what our days might be like when he’s not at school all day. Or more specifically what my evenings might be like, because I already get him at his most excitable and there are times I can barely get through dinner without eyeing the garage and wondering if anyone would notice if I duct taped him to his chair. With some stuff to keep him occupied, and some activities we can do on weekends when our time together is more, shall we say, in need of help, I’m feeling a little better.

So I went shopping on the Staples website. For starters, when I searched “Crayola” I got a ton of results. I had no idea.

I bought art supplies and paper and craft kits and paint and finger-painting kits. (I know. Paint. The whole idea of an emergency kit making me a fantastic mom might have gone to my head.)

I bought sketchbooks and glue sticks and construction paper. I might also have bought the 64-pack of crayons with a built-in sharpener and I might not let the kids use it. (Oh, who am I kidding? Connor claimed that one right away.)

6 pack crayons

But I did get them a crayon meltdown art set, so maybe they won’t notice.

Connor loves it when boxes are delivered and loves opening them, especially when he can get his hands on the goods, so this is a hit already.

colouring

Ethan likes to make stuff. He also likes to write on things like walls and floors, so I’m hoping the plethora of paper options will keep him from causing an emergency of another sort (the kind involving a Magic Eraser and mama saying some bad words).

doing crafts

I like to colour, so I figure the contents of the emergency kit will set us up for some good summer days. And if the finger-painting goes sideways, well, at least there might be a Mother of the Year award in it for me. Even if it’s just the E for Effort category.

***

I shopped online at Staples.ca and bought the supplies using Visa Checkout and a Visa gift card that was given to me. I’ll admit to being a bit wary about how easy it would be to use, but I needn’t have been. It was super easy.

It’s not finicky like other pre-paid cards I’ve tried, and Visa Checkout makes it especially easy because you can create a single account sign-in that can be used across all devices (and no need to keep re-entering the card number or address either).

VISA CheckOut Button_4

Here’s a quick how-to for all you Canadians out there. There are just three steps on http://checkout.visa.com:

  • Step one: Create a username and password.
  • Step two: Enter your payment and shipping information. (You only have to do this once)
  • Step three: Look for the Visa Checkout button when you’re shopping online, enter your username and password, and go!

That’s it. Seriously. It’s secure and Visa’s Zero Liability policy applies in case of fraud.

You can use Visa Checkout at many of your favourite Canadian online stores, with many more joining each month. For a full list, visit https://checkout.visa.com/shopping.

And bonus! If you want to create your own summertime emergency kit, there’s a way to stock it extra full. From now through May 12, 2015, Canadians who use Visa Checkout on Staples.ca will receive $20 off when they spend $100! More info at http://www.staples.ca/VisaCheckout.

Giveaway

Want to start stocking up with a Visa gift card of your own? Enter to win one here. (Just promise to keep some unbroken crayons for me.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Penmanship

“Look, I did a really good 6.”

“That is a really good six. Good job, buddy.”

He looks over at my side.

“Your numbers are really good too.”

writing-numbers

I’ve been really sick the last three days and have barely ventured out of my bedroom. Yesterday, Connor asked me if I would put him to bed, and, in a moment of maternal optimism, I agreed. And then bedtime came around and it was clear that was not a good idea. When I told him Daddy would have to put him to bed instead, he cried and cried.

Funny how these things—when Mom has been a bit MIA and you’re catching the same bug and will be throwing up by morning—can seem like the end of the world.

It took a while to get him to calm down, but he enthusiastically agreed to my suggestion that we sit together while Daddy put Ethan to bed. He brought his new erasable mat so he could do some writing practice and generously agreed to let me do some of them.

It was nice. Better than bedtime stories, even.

And apparently I’m good at writing inside the lines.

iPPP button

 

Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

Finding Slow Amid Fast

It’s 10:30 p.m. as I write this, a good hour after I had intended to be asleep. The boys were both up at 5:30 this morning and, after busy days both yesterday and today plus too many too-late nights, I’m desperately tired. But Connor is asleep next to me and I don’t want to move him just yet.

When I left work tonight the sky was almost dark – the sort of fading light that comes right before the sun disappears entirely until morning. By the time I wound my way around the roads and through traffic and reached home it was dark dark. Inky blackness all around, with only the lights from cars and street lamps showing the way.

snowy field

This is the way it is now. The sun is just finishing waking up as I leave in the mornings, its rays stretching, reaching out to tinge the clouds with golden pink. My boys are finishing their morning rituals as I exit the house – eating the last few bites of breakfast, choosing clothes for the day, brushing teeth.

When I pull my car into the driveway at night the sun is gone. By the time I get home the boys are finishing dinner and are ready to start heading to bed. We reverse the morning’s routine—getting undressed, putting pyjamas on, brushing teeth—and then the day is done. The night has come. It’s somehow even darker than before, and quiet.

I walked the dog tonight – late enough and dark enough that it felt as though I shouldn’t have to go out again. And it was cold, the kind that bites at your cheeks and leaves them red. It was snowing, and the flakes looked like silver glitter falling from the sky, slowly falling and twirling. But when I caught them with my camera they appeared to whizz, like shooting stars, determined and fast. It felt like an apt metaphor for my days: I’m slowly moving, dancing, twirling, but when I stop to look I realize how fast the days go by.

snow flying in the dark

With the dog walked and one more thing checked off my list, I came back inside and got ready for tomorrow—tidying and making lunch and checking to-do lists—before sitting on my bed with a cup of hot chocolate and my laptop. It’s quiet here, just the way I like it after a day at work, and my LED-light candles glow in the corner.

I suspect that’s what attracted Connor, and why he is now asleep next to me.

LED candles in the darkness

He made a request earlier for a pyjama party with mama and the glowing candles, but Ethan wiggled at bedtime and needed extra cuddles and Connor was in bed by the time I was done. Tomorrow night, I promised him. We’ll have a pyjama party and turn on the candles tomorrow.

The promise wasn’t good enough, apparently. I heard his door open and his small feet coming down the hall. He looked in slyly, expecting me to scoot him back to bed; I didn’t, and when he crawled up on the bed and put his head in my lap I knew he would go back to sleep.

So here I sit. I’ve shuffled him off my lap to get him under the covers and so I can tuck my own feet in, too. He’s nestled against me and if I listen hard I can hear his quiet breathing, but mostly he is silent. It’s a moment of slow in a life filled with fast. It’s unusual, and I relish it.

 

I’ve joined Greta from Gfunkified as co-host of #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. Link up below!

GFunkified

Embracing Easy with Just-Eat.ca

I’ve now been back at work for a month, and just about everyone I know has asked me how it’s going. The truth: It’s going pretty well. I’m enjoying using my brain in a different way again (and am pretty happy about having a Starbucks in the building too).

The other truth: Life is kind of overwhelming. No one told me being a working mom of two is infinitely harder than being a working mom of one, and I think I underestimated the logistical crunch having two kids would bring to my working life.

I think I’ve found a groove for the busy mornings, though of course now that winter has decided to come to Calgary I have to build frost- and snow-removal time into my routine. It’s the evenings that are tough.

My commute is 45 minutes each way, and I work until 5 p.m. Ethan is usually approaching meltdown stage by 6 p.m., which gives me a very small window to get home and have dinner before transitioning into baby-sleep-whisperer mode. (As we all know, tired babies do not necessarily easily transition into sleeping babies.) Then I still have to do dishes (Rich cooks) and tidy and walk the dog and ignore the unfolded laundry and so on before attempting to get to bed at a reasonable hour so I can do it all again the next day.

I won’t lie. I’m tired and most nights my brain is ready to explode.

Chinese food takeoutSo…I’ll happily take any efficiency tips you care to share and in trade I’ll offer you one of mine: I’ve recently been introduced to Just-Eat.ca and I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

On weeknights Rich has been fantastic at getting dinner ready in time to feed Ethan before he totally loses it and so I can eat before my second shift (as it were), but there are some nights we just don’t have our dinner ducks in a row. And when it makes life easier we don’t hesitate to order in.

We get a little sick of pizza though, so Just-Eat.ca has been a great solution. Enter your postal code on the site and it will show you the places that will deliver food to your area at that time (and if they’re not open then but will be for dinner, you can preorder). All the menu items are listed so you can add them to your order with one click, and you can add a tip for the driver as well.

The first time I looked at the site I got lost in all the possibilities. With Thai food, Mexican, Italian, Indian, and more, it was easy to break out of our pizza rut. In the end we ordered Chinese food on a busy Wednesday, which is the night I’m on the hook for all the evening stuff because Rich goes to an art house event.

Italian takeoutEmbracing the easy way to take care of a weeknight dinner saved a little bit of my sanity (and bonus – no dishes!), so we tried ordering in on a Sunday as well. Rich was working (he’s getting into freelance illustration work, which is very cool and which I will share more about another time) so I’ve been doing kid and dog and laundry and grocery and dinner duty (on top of trying to get a run in now and then and still blog and do other freelance writing) and some Sundays the last thing I feel like doing is getting dinner ready while I’m trying to prepare for the week ahead. On this particular Sunday we ordered Italian (and discovered a place we hadn’t tried that serves zucchini sticks, which are a sentimental favourite for me). It was delivered exactly when we had asked for it and for a reasonable price fed the four of us with a good amount of leftovers for lunches (another bonus).

Telling you all this – with my good job and a husband who stays at home and family in town who support us – feels a little first-world-problemish. But you know what? Life is busy and it’s never going to get simpler if we don’t embrace the things that can make it easier. So I say lean in to ordering in. Your sanity is worth it.

 

This post was generously sponsored by Just-Eat.ca, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, including ordering information for Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Waterloo, Kitchener, Guelph, Ottawa, London, Montreal, visit www.just-eat.ca. (There’s also an app.)

On High Standards and Hating Myself

A couple of years ago I wrote a post for Just.Be.Enough with this title.  It sounds sensational, but it pretty much summed up much of my experience with PPD.

Motherhood is hard enough without the movie-perfect baby and the Mommy Wars, but when we add those things in and still believe we should be able — effortlessly, flawlessly, and with a smile — to live up to our own high standards for motherhood, we’re pretty much doomed from the start. I was anyway.

In any case, I reflected on that in my post, which I’m thrilled to have had published on Mamalode. Come and reflect with me, won’t you?