Personal Posts

New Year’s Gratitude Projects

New Year’s Gratitude Projects

Posted By on Dec 30, 2013

I’m big into Gratitude and the Law of Attraction. I believe strongly that what you think about comes about, and that the best way to predict your future is to create it. These are my favourite quotes (coincidentally, they are both Oprah quotes):

courage gratitude2

I try to teach Gratitude to my kids. One of the ways we’ve done this in the last few years is doing our “Bucket List Tree”. Every New Year’s Eve, we sit down and write down a bunch of things we’s like to do or accomplish in the next year, and beyond. We write them on tags, and hand them on our Bucket List Tree. It’s visual (like vision boards), crafty, and starts great conversations.

Bucket List Tree

You can see more on The Bucket List tree in my blog post from last year.

In addition to the Bucket List Tree, we also did a Gratitude Jar this year. Throughout the year, we wrote down things we were grateful for and stuck them in the jar. On New Year’s Eve (or Day) we will open it, and read through them all.

Gratitude Jar

We also do High/Low every night at dinner – going around the table and saying our favourite thing and least favourite thing from the day. This year Charlie has taken the reigns from Bella being the one who starts it off every night, and I was so proud when he started it on our Christmas Day dinner at his Auntie & Uncle’s house – for a table of eighteen people. That was awesome.

I’m also working on my Vision Board. I do one every year and stick it in a frame on my desk so I see it every day. I love the DreamBoard on Oprah’s Website. It saves your work automatically, so it’s easy to go back and update it. I put things on it that I want to accomplish this year, and in my lifetime. Things like doing some kitchen renos and going to Bali. Both would be nice if they happened within the next year, but they might not!

And to balance the ‘wants’ with ‘gratitude’, this year I am starting a Gratitude Journal. A real, live, paper journal. I toyed with the idea of doing another Project365 with pictures of something I was grateful for every day, but I already take so many pictures, that I want to force myself to actually sit down and write stuff down. If you are interested in an app though, check out HeyDay. It takes your iPhone’s images and puts them into an electronic journal automatically. You can go in and add text if you want. I really love this.

I made my Gratitude Journal after I found the ARC notebook system at Staples. This is really cool people. It’s like a binder, but cooler. I bought a leather cover one that I use as a catch-all on my desk. It holds all my important papers and notes.

IMG_3685 (Copy) IMG_3686 (Copy) IMG_3689 (Copy)

This is the hole-punch thing you buy to punch papers to fit in the disks. The disks come in 3 sizes depending on how thick you want your book: ARCIMG_3678 (Copy)

Update: I’ve created a weekly planner printable for my Arc! Click HERE to get it for free!

Arc template

For my Gratitude Journal, first I made and printed off the sheets. I bought really nice, heavier stock paper for this, and printed off about 100 pages. I’m not going to write in it daily (too much of a commitment), but I’ll be happy with 100 days of Gratitude!

Gratitude Journal

Then I made the front and back covers from cardboard and fancy paper:

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journal

The ARC System has different type of insert pages that I also put in the  journal to hold little keepsakes:

Gratitude Journal Gratitude Journal

With the hole punch, I can also punch photos or just about anything to add as I go as well. Can’t wait to get started. Hope I can keep it up. I’m leaving it beside my bed to remind myself to do it before going to sleep. Might cut into my Candy Crush time, but it’s for the best. 😉

I also did another ARC book for our Christmas Journal. I’ve kept a Christmas Journal since 2004 – Abby’s first Christmas. I write in it every year – things like when we put up the tree, what we did throughout the holidays and it’s where I keep a copy of the Santa picture and a copy of our family portrait or Christmas Card. I was able to take the pages out of the old journal, and punch them to fit into the ARC disks. I also made tabbed dividers with pockets to hold letters from Santa, or whatever!

Our old Journal. Yes, those are foam stickers. I wasn’t all that crafty back in 2004:

Christmas JournalI cut the pages out of the old journal:

Christmas Journal

The tabbed dividers with pockets:

Christmas Journal

Old Christmas Cards and Photos with Santa: Christmas Journal

And the cover:

Christmas Journal

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My Elf is Famous

Posted By on Dec 1, 2013

Elf on the Shelf Calgary
Back in 2011, when we first brought Henry the Elf home, I was very excited. I plotted and planned, and came up with some pretty neat ideas for that darned Elf. I took pictures every morning, and sat around basking in the glory of being such a creative genius.
He came on November 7th the first year. Yes, NOVEMBER 7th.
I wrote a blog post about it here.
Admittedly, by December 24th, I was happy to see him go. I was exhausted. And you know what? I dreaded his return in 2012, and this year as well. The ‘beacon’ for the elf to come is the Christmas tree being set up. So I would’ve been happy to put it off as long as possible this year, but my super awesome helpful husband surprised me last week, and put it up while I was out. Wicked.
You see, I set a precedent that first year. My kids have expected brilliance from ‘Henry’ ever sense. I wasn’t going to be one of those ‘slacker’ parents, who just moved their elf every night. Oh no. I was way too clever for that. And now I’m paying for it. Every.dreaded.night.

Today, on the inter webs, my life with my elf has been featured on two major blogs. Check them out!
SheKnows – featured 5 of my ideas in a blog post about 25 Hilarious Ways to Pose your Elf.
Babble – my Friend Buzz Bishop wrote an article about the Unofficial Elf on the Shelf Rules. In which I play the poor sucker who overdid it the first year.

So far this year, Henry has been tied up with Loom Bracelets, left Christmas jokes and word searches, hid behind a tower of Kuerig Cups, and donned a Jersey for ‘Jersey Day’. Not overly creative. The best was on the first morning, he wrote a letter, specifying that if the kids rooms weren’t tidy, or their beds weren’t made, or if Charlie didn’t stay in his own bed, that he might not come. They are putty in my hands, let me tell you! That is about as much brilliance as I have left; manipulation.

Elf on the shelf ideas

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I think it’s over! At just over 4 years old…I think the tantrums are over. Now that I said that, I might be cursing it, but he hasn’t had a fit for over 2 months. Fingers crossed. Here, is what I’m hoping is my last installment of #CharlieLoves:

-Charlie Loves the Dentist’s Office



-Charlie Loves Dinner

-Charlie Loves high quality face painting

-Charlie Loves colouring

-Charlie Loves Cheerios

And it ended abruptly with this one, which was a rough one for Mommy too!
-Charlie Loves Going back to School


The entire collection of my #CharlieLoves images can be seen here.

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A few years ago, the motherboard went in my computer, and I lost everything. Everything except my pictures, which I’m pretty fanatical about when it comes to backing them up.

Yesterday, my Hard Drive failed in my PC. And it was okay. Here’s why:

  • I subscribe to Carbonite. For $60 a year, Carbonite backs up your files automatically, and you don’t have to do a thing. While my PC was in the ‘Hospital’, I didn’t have to miss a beat, because I could pull up any file or image I needed to through the Carbonite Website and bring it up on my Mac*. They also have a mobile app, which works the same as DropBox, but the files are there automatically. This is a pretty slick service.
    I just returned home with my PC fixed, with a new Hard Drive installed. I am currently trying to restore my files from Carbonite’s back up. It says it can take hours to days, but I was able to select the files I needed the most, so hopefully I’ll have Photoshop and my client’s images restored ASAP, so I can get to work. Thanks to Carbonite and Memory Express’s Priority Service – my total down time from editing: about 36 hours.
  • External Hard Drive. About a year ago, I stopped copying all my client’s images onto Disks because I fear they will be obsolete soon, and because it was a HUGE waste of time. If I hadn’t had Carbonite, it still would have been okay, because since then, I’ve been saving everything of importance to an external Hard Drive – including client files, my family’s images and anything that I’ve spent a significant amount of time or money on (Accounting Spreadsheets, Photoshop Actions, Christmas Card Templates, Resumes, etc.)
  • DropBox & Google Drive – these are my ‘catch-all’ on the internet. It’s where I save files that I share with others, and as extra EXTRA back up. Yes, all my Oprah related stuff is saved there, for extra safe keeping. As well as pictures of every single page of my kid’s baby books. Seriously. I’m afraid of losing things like external hard drives and baby books in a fire, so those are also saved on the Interwebs. Dropbox and Google Drive are a great place to

*Yes, I have an iMac, that is not much more than an Internet Machine. After 20 plus years on a Windows platform, my muscles are trained to automatically use Window’s shortcuts, etc. Not to mention the years and years of using Word and Excel. Also, I own Photoshop on my PC…not on my Mac. BUT, in the last 36hrs, I have decided to teach myself how to use the Mac, and will be signing up with Adobe’s Photoshop CC monthly subscription service. After having 2 PC’s fail on me in about 3 years, I’m about done.


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When Mom and Dad go on Vacation

When Mom and Dad go on Vacation

Posted By on Oct 18, 2013

Last year, Mike and I left the kids for a week when we went to Mexico for our tenth anniversary trip. We had travelled a lot in the year and a half before, but all of the trips without them had only been for 3 or 4 ‘sleeps’, not seven.

Naturally, my kids hated this idea. So, I came up with some things to make it easier.

Surprise Bags:

I made a bag of snacks for every day that we were away. They had to share what was inside, but it was things like chocolate, candy, and other treats they don’t normally get. They opened the bags every morning, and on school days, the girls would usually take some in their lunch.

When Mom and Dad go on Vacation

When Mom and Dad go on Vacation
I attached a letter to each bag, explaining what was going on that day for all of us. For instance, if Abby had gymnastics, I’d remind her of who was driving her. I’d also tell them what we would be doing in Mexico that day. Then I’d tell them how many days were left, and to have a great day, etc.

The morning we left, I displayed them on the kitchen counter, with a Sock Money for each of them, so they had a nice surprise when they got up.

When Mom and Dad go on Vacation

We’re going to Vegas next week, and my kids requested the gift bags again. Clearly that makes it just a little bit better for them.


Sleeps Chain:

This was really great for Charlie, who was only 3 at the time. He could count the chains and see how many more sleeps we were going to be gone for. The kids would rip on chain off very morning.

When Mom and Dad go on Vacation

But, living in the world of Apple Products, the kids were never more than a text or Facetime call away. It was ridiculous actually, and we’ll be putting more rules in place this time. The most absurd moment is when Abby texted me one morning to tell me my alarm clock was going off. I was in MEXICO!


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I’d Choose Gingivitis

I’d Choose Gingivitis

Posted By on Sep 9, 2013

I would give my last breath to make her perfect.

That confidence I wanted growing up…she has it.
The pure, raw talent that makes everyone take notice…she has it.
The wit, the charm, the sense of humour that I wished I had at 9…she has it.

I have it now at age 36…clearly.

My water broke at 32 weeks, and I went to the nearest hospital, only to be rushed to a different one better equipped to treat a preemie, and I saw my dad come out of the bathroom in tears. I thought, no…she’ll be fine. She’ll be perfect. I was 26 years old. Naive. We look back now and talk about how that should’ve been a lot scarier than it was for us. But she was our first. It was our normal to drive home from the hospital without our baby every day.
But she was perfect. Ten EXTREMELY tiny toes, ten itty bitty fingers. We fed her through a tube in her nose for the first few days (or weeks?), and then we had to teach her how to suck, swallow and breathe while she was nursing or taking a bottle, without her oxygen levels dropping. After a month, we went home.

She came when she wanted to. Blazed her own trail. No one was telling her what to do. There’s been nothing she couldn’t do. She swims like a fish, and was in a pre-competitive swimming group when she was 4. She could do perfect cartwheels, and swing across the monkey bars at the park like nobody’s business when she was 3. We’ve always said that everything she touches turns to gold. She’s a natural at everything. Well, everything except ballet…eek.

We fight. Oh man, we fight. I yell, she yells. We yell at ourselves. I yell at a nine year old me. She’s so like me it’s scary. Except all that natural ability stuff. She pretty much got all the sassy, cocky, sarcastic, bitchy, grumpy crap from me. That’s the me I yell at. A lot.

But now she’s sick. Still ‘perfect’ in our eyes, but with a bit of uniqueness all her own. She has an auto-immune disease that affects her skin called Morphea. It’s being treated with Methotrexate pills (the chemo drug) and high dosage Steroids, given through an IV. We visit the Children’s Hospital 3 days a month. The beautiful building on top of the hill that I used to tell my kids they NEVER wanted to go to. We go now.


But she’s also an amazing gymnast. I hate saying she’s ‘sick’. It’s just a skin disease, and mostly a cosmetic issue right now. In the grand scheme of things, if someone pointed a gun to my head and made me choose a disease for my kid to have…I guess I’d choose this.
Or Gingivitis. Okay…ya, that.


She shows off. I tell her to show off. I want to show her off. She’s a better version of me. I go along for the ride with every back flip and handspring. I hold her on my lap for every needle poke and she squeezes my fingers. She shows weakness, I soothe her. I get mad. She’s not weak. She’s my fighter. I stroke her hair and give her kisses when it hurts. I tell her she’ll be okay. Because she has to be.

She cries and says she doesn’t want to do this anymore. I talk to her about perspective, and we talk about how fortunate she is. We pass kids in the hospital halls who could live there. We see kids with shaved heads and wires and tubes and the beep, beep, beeping machines. And then I cry with her, and talk about how much it sucks, because however ‘fortunate’ we may be…its happening to her. And it does suck. And sometimes we need to wallow in our own pity for awhile. But then we quickly remind ourselves that it’s just a few pills, and a few needles, and a few hours of feeling really crappy afterwards, and it’s just for three days a month. And then we wallow again.

And then we tell Charlie to stop rolling around on the dirty hospital floors.

On her first visit, she made a button to wear that says, “I am Strong”. She wears it every time. I bought her a ‘Healing Angel’ in the hospital gift shop that she keeps in her pocket. I talk to her about positive thinking, visualization, and how ‘Thoughts Become Things”. On the nights of her treatments, I lay beside her & hold her while she sleeps, giving her every ounce of healing energy I have. All that, plus the nasty drugs, will fix her.

And then watch out. Because I have a feeling we ain’t seen nothing yet.

photo (5)



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