Friday, December 28, 2012

The Year in Review

Pin It 2012 has been quite the year - a mixed bag for certain. It has been filled with so much GOOD - so much that I am thankful for. Yes- there were certainly stressful parts to it and parts that sucked so bad... but I am thankful.


We started the year with my husband still unemployed, living in a house with no yard and driving a van that was falling apart (literally- the sliding door kept falling off).

We have ended the year with my husband working as the manager of our local food bank, living in a house with a massive yard and a beautiful van that was gifted to us by dear friends.


We have continued to access great services for our kids and Aiden's diagnosis changed from Autism and ADHD to Autism and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It helps us to know what we are dealing with as we do our best to parent Aiden.


Owen was blessed with a phenomenal teacher last year who, along with our angel of a counsellor,  helped us access some much needed services. Owen was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder by our psychiatrist and is being tested for learning disabilities. He is doing really well right now because his current teacher is wonderful and supportive and he meets with our counsellor regularly and he is getting the help he needs.


Olivia's teeth were fixed by a really wonderful pediatric dental surgeon for free through a fantastic government program that we are so thankful we qualified for.

Aiden and Owen started swimming with the Dolphins Swim Club and they have the best coach in the world.


Olivia started dance lessons and makes an adorable ballerina.




I went to BlissDom in Nashville and a Dove retreat in Arizona and BlissDom Canada in Toronto.

And of course I worked like crazy.

We have been blessed with so very much. 

I am still thinking about what my One Word Goal for 2013 will be. I don't make resolutions but I do make goals and I am working on my list of those too.


How was 2012 for all of you?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Lovely People!

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 Merry Christmas to you all! 

These are the adorable pictures my kids left for Santa tonight...
To Santa, From Olivia


To Santa, From Owen

Picture drawn by Olivia, Note from Owen on behalf of all 3 kids asking Santa to say hi to Rudolph.

This is how our tree looks right now... I think it looks so pretty. And it looks so FULL of presents - the trick being to put the tree in between two pieces of large furniture and putting the BIG gifts right at the front. I think it will totally have the desired WOW effect :)


 Oh. And happy birthday to me too :)

 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Secret Santa Rice Krispie Treats

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Owen's class did a "Secret Santa" gift exchange this week and the rule was that the gifts HAD to be handmade. Owen wanted to make his partner special Rice Krispie treats. Owen and I checked out the fun recipes on the Rice Krispies website and thought the "holiday presents" looked like a fun and easy treat to make.  


I do think you should go and see how Owen's interpretation of a beautifully decorated present differs from the Rice Krispies Holiday presents though *snicker*.

*we made some of these treats with stuff Kellogg's sent me as part of their Kellogger's program*

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So Much Snow!

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We've had a lot of snow this week and our yard just looks so beautiful that I wanted to share it with you. I just took these pictures quickly with my phone :)

I tried to take a panorama picture with an app on my new WindowsPhone and it worked fairly well! This is most of our backyard with a tiny bit of our neighbours backyard on the far right of the picture. Our backyard goes all the way back into the trees and down to a little creek too. It is lovely.

 This is the space beside our house going towards the side yard...


 and here is most of the side yard...


This is another part of the back yard - the creek is just beyond those trees.




Thursday, December 13, 2012

Join the #WindowsPhone #HolidaySwap Twitter Party!

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Microsoft Canada (via Hart and Galla) is having a Twitter Party on Tuesday, December 18 from 8pm - 9pm ET. They are giving away TWO XBOX 360 gaming systems just in time for Christmas!




Join us for the FUN and your chance to win some great prizes this Tuesday night! Shannon from Shasher's Life will be asking the Twitter Party questions,  Jennifer from Hart & Galla will be there to chat about the #HolidaySwap Windows Phone Challenge and I get the super fun job of awarding the prizes!

Date: Tuesday December 18, 2012Time: 8:00pm - 9:00pm ET

Hashtag To Follow: #HolidaySwap

Prizes: TWO (2) Windows 8 Pro upgrades $39.99 each, FOUR (4) XBOX Credits $19.99 each, and TWO (2) XBOX 360 250GB Kinect Bundle gaming systems $349.00 each approximate retail value.

Hosted by: Make sure you're following our host @microsoftcanada

Moderated by: @hartgalla -- @shasherslife -- @tarasview


Other participants in the #HolidaySwap Windows Phone Challenge may also be there!


Bedhead - You Know You Love It

Pin It Aiden is home sick today from school - he has a nasty cough that I am really hoping doesn't get worse!

I just wanted to show you all the fantastic bedhead he has going on today...


Also? Aiden is extremely unimpressed with how I spend my days. He has told me many times that my job (Virtual Assistant) is boring.

I had a skype meeting earlier and he stood just in front of my laptop with his hands on his hips glaring at me because I was talking too loud while he was trying to watch TV.

That darn work. Always getting in the way of my laying about and watching TV. The nerve! :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Gift To Myself

Pin It I can hardly believe that Christmas is in 13 days. Wow.

This past weekend Olivia turned six and we took Aiden and Owen to their swim meet and they rocked it! I took a bunch of pictures on my new Windows Phone that I am trying out...

Olivia and I during her birthday lunch.

Christmas Day is also my birthday and as my birthday present to myself I am going to give myself permission to write again.

I started this blog when I was pregnant with Olivia over 6 years ago... and in that time I managed to get myself a few people who felt the need to analyze everything I wrote and inform me of the various ways I am doing EVERYTHING wrong... and eventually I let that get to me. It got to the point where those voices were already giving me "advice" and "constructive criticism" in my head before I would even start typing so I just stopped writing because I didn't want to hear it. It hurt too much.

Aiden with awesome hair after his first day of the swim meet.

Some people are amazingly strong. They are SO SO SO good at handling the criticism of others.

I am not one of those people.

I don't need everyone to like me ( I really really don't, and I am under no illusion that they do)... I just am not super good at having all my faults laid out for me in point form on a daily basis. I find that I am actually fairly aware of how completely imperfect I am without the having others point it out to me.

Many years ago I was on an internship type thing and I had a boss who basically told me all the ways I sucked. I believe that his goal was to spur me on to be a better person and "rise to the challenge". What I actually did was crawl into the fetal position and feel horrible about myself. For years.

Aiden and Doug on deck at the swim meet.
Tough? I am not.

I have never claimed to be. One of the many reasons why I would not do well in the army. Or sports. Or anywhere where people yell your faults at you in order to make you stronger and more determined.


Olivia and I watching the boys swim.

I just end up crying or yelling and ranting trying not to cry and THEN crying. It is not a pretty picture.

Anyway. The point is I was done putting myself out there for awhile.

Owen wearing antlers at Montana's during our "You guys did AWESOME" lunch.

But I have missed writing. And I have missed this space. A lot. Sharing a few pictures a week just isn't the same.

Aiden drawing a maze on the table paper at Montana's during our celebration lunch.

So when I got a particularly cruel email last week from a particularly judgemental person I realized that you just can't avoid it! So I might as well put on my big girl panties, deal with it, and just keep writing because I love it. And because the vast majority of you people are wonderful.

Olivia having fun with her antler's at Montana's during our post-swim meet lunch.
Also... did you know there is only 13 days until Christmas? I really should get on buying some Christmas presents soon.

Cheers!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Swimming Like Pros

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It was Aiden's first swim meet and Owen's second this past weekend. These shots (taken by my husband) are of them doing their backstroke race. Owen is in the blue cap and Aiden is in the green. This was the only race they did side by side the whole weekend - usually they raced in different groups. They both did great and we are so proud of them!



Monday, December 10, 2012

The Barbie Sisters Cruise Ship

Pin It I was given the chance to review the Barbie Sisters Cruise Ship with Olivia and she was more than a little excited.



Olivia loves Barbie and thinks the cruise ship is amazing.



Here is some information about it:

BARBIE® SISTERS CRUISE SHIPBarbie® and her three sisters can take a magical trip on their family cruise ship! On the “water,” the boat features a steering wheel and space for two lounge chairs on the upper deck. When the boat docks, the side panel opens up to reveal another deck, an umbrella pops up, a fun swing that fits all four sisters flips out and a grand buffet rotates around. The back of the boat also pulls out to reveal a fabulous pool for the sisters to play in that features two slides for racing! For more splish-splashin' fun, a dolphin fountain puts water into the pool when filled from the top. When the day in the sun is done, flip up the deck to reveal two beds for the sisters to slumber in. Includes cruise ship, swing, pool, 2 water slides, buffet accessories, 2 fold-down beds, 2 pillows and 2 soft-good blankets. Dolls not included.Ages 3 and older $119.99 Walmart, Toys R’ Us, Sears 



Olivia was especially amazed with how BIG the box was and kept saying "it's as big as me!". It was pretty cute to watch.


The boat was fairly easy to put together and we were all (my sons included) thought it looked pretty impressive when it was all done. The stickers were my least favourite part to put on and I am left to wonder why sticker? Why not just have them already on before the boat is packaged? Because honestly, those stickers are annoying. Olivia's only problem with it was that it didn't come with a special Barbie in the box though.

This is what the cruise ship looks like all closed up:


picture from Mattel

and this is what it looks like when it is all open and set up nicely:
picture from Mattel




You can actually do some water play with the pool part - there is a place where you can pour water into and it comes out the little dolphin and into the pool. Olivia LOVES that part.

Olivia has some trouble getting the boat open and closed on her own but I think she will figure it out with a bit more practice. She also finds the bunk-beds a little frustrating because her Barbie's fall off if she doesn't have them tilted at the right angle. Her suggestion is that they should have a bunk bed railing like her brothers' bunk bed does. An excellent suggestion in my opinion.



If you have a Barbie fan in your house than the Sisters Cruise ship would certainly make a fantastic gift! It gets the Olivia seal of approval :)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The #WindowsPhone #HolidaySwap and Me

Pin It My children are fascinated by the fact that I did not have my first cell phone until I was in my 30's. Actually they are less fascinated and more horrified.

Truth be told I have a hard time remembering what life was like before I had a cell phone... it makes me feel a bit panicky to be without it for any length of time. It is like an grown-up version of a security blanket... I don't have to be ON IT all the time (because really now people, that is just rude)... but I like to know it is THERE if I need it... you know... to make sure the internet hasn't gone away or anything drastic like that. *snicker*

Unfortunately for me I have an pathetic excuse for a "smart" phone... it is one of those phones that all the REAL smart phones point and laugh at. Sure... I can tweet from it... if you hold it in exactly the right way and the moon is lined up with the 4th star from Saturn's 8th ring at just the right angle and you turn around in circles chanting a special secret song to the phone-gods.

But mostly it just mocks me.

Considering I work as a virtual assistant and social media manager the fact that my phone continually mocks me is super inconvenient. 

I have been steadfastly wishing and praying with all that is in me for a REAL smartphone to come to my rescue... and LO AND BEHOLD... my prayers were answered!

I was asked by Microsoft Canada to swap my current (evil) phone for the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone to try it out over Christmas and see what I thought of it.

Oh you guys- let me tell you this phone is so pretty. It arrived all nice and shiny in the box and I gotta tell you I was a little afraid to take it out! But then I looked at my current craptacular phone and decided I was willing to risk it. 

Nokia Lumia 920
I am starting to learn my way around the phone... which is impressive for a smartphone newbie such as myself.

Here are some screenshots I took of how I have the phone looking right now... it is fully customizable so I might change how it looks tomorrow... because I know how to do that. Be proud of me.

Screenshots of my Windows Phone

There are a ton of cool apps - of course. (There were no "apps" on my other phone... told you it wasn't smart. Stupid un-smart-phone).

I have taken a whole bunch of pictures (the camera is great) and you can edit your photos right in the phone. Here are just a few of the pictures I've taken of the kids...

Pictures I took with the Nokia Lumia 920
One of the apps I found also lets me do some more editing and add some basic effects if I want like this...

Creative Studio app
Of course the best part of the phone for me is simply the ability to stay connected wherever I am. I can tweet or share the pictures I take (or screenshots of whatever is on the phone) at any time. I can update my status or check what is happening quickly. I can check email (on various accounts) without a problem. One small downside is that you can't use Instagram (or at least I can't figure out a way to) which is a bummer. But hey- I couldn't use Instagram on my old phone either so you can't miss what you never had.

I admit that it has taken me some time to figure out how to use the various apps but the more I play around with the phone the more it makes sense to me.
screenshots of some of the apps I use

 The kids have loved playing with the phone. You can set up a special place for them called "kid's corner" so they can't mess up your whole phone which is a very handy feature. Olivia has especially loved playing games and drawing pictures. I also got the Kindle app so the kids and I can read books on the phone.

I personally love the ability to stream music with the Xbox music Pass. It has been so fun to discover all sorts of new music that I normally don't get a chance to listen to.

Overall I would say it has been a bit of a steep learning curve for me... but TOTALLY worth it. I am happy to ditch my stupid non-smart phone and learn the ways of the Windows Phone!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Sick Day

Pin It My poor little Olivia is just not feeling well. We spent the day snuggling on the couch (in between her throwing up of course).


Olivia took this picture of us. She wanted me to show everyone that we took a nap with bunny today because our tummies hurt.





 
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