Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

This week has been a decent week for all of us. There was nothing too dramatic but our days haven’t been boring either. I worked a bit, did the mum thing a lot, felt tired a bunch of the time and had some good giggles with the kids. This week I’m lacking in girlfriend meet ups, as is often the way when I’ve worked a bunch in a row. I am really craving girlfriend chit chats over glasses of wine in the evening while the children are sleeping and I’ll be putting that on my ‘to do’ list for next week.

My 5 Things

1. I’ve got the sweetest friend Jenna who made my pregnant sister a gorgeous baby blanket and matching knitted hat. It is purple with grey and white and it’s so soft and made with love.  She also made both of my kids baby blankets and they use them all the time.

2. My oldest sister is having a baby and I couldn’t be more excited for the sweet babe to arrive. I’m a big time baby lover and am even more so when it’s one of my sisters babies. She could literally have the baby any time now and I’m feeling super pumped that I’m headed over her way this long weekend. I can’t wait to meet this baby.

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Snuggles with my first born. Those early days and weeks are hard but they are so memorable at the same time.

3. Dear Baby, please come this weekend. It would be super awesome timing.

4. Remember my younger sisters fantastic birth story? It made her local paper and got its own blog post!

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Sweet baby Alice

5. I get asked all the time if I am having more babies and my answer hasn’t changed over the last 2 years. I don’t know. I am on the fence and I feel like I could be swayed either way. My husband is the same, but part of me feels he is leaning more towards baby #3 one day down the road. I just know that pregnancy is hard on my body and made more intense because I live with  type 1 diabetes.  No matter what, I love babies! That is for sure.

This week I’m linking up with fellow Vancouver blogger Tairalyn of Little Miss Mama who is co-hosting Five Things with Diana from The World Around Her.

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In our home we have easy days and we have crazy days and we have a lot of routine days that are just filled with life. Off to school, back again, swim lessons, night shifts and two year old tantrums.  When it comes to dinnertime, I sometimes wish that I could sort of fast forward the whole process.

I don’t love to cook and mostly do it out of necessity more than for the pure joy of cooking up a meal for people that I loved. Often when the kids are ready to eat dinner, 5 PM or so, my husband is still busy working which makes the sit down family dinner difficult to happen on a regular basis . This causes a disjointed and drawn out supper affair that isn’t always ideal. I’ve never been great at getting too creative with dinners and still find it difficult to come up with dinner ideas that will please everyone and are nutritious at the same time.

The other day I was at the grocery shop and spotted that had pre made pizza dough ready to go. Seriously perfect. Not only would I feel sort of crafty making our own pizzas, everyone would eat it and be happy. I grabbed some stuff to make an easy homemade pizza sauce, some ham and mozzarella and called it dinner. When the kids saw me unpacking the groceries they asked if they could help make dinner and I thought, bring it on!

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Who knew that I’d end up feeling like such a rockstar mom after making pizzas with the kids. Both kids were totally enamoured with the fact that they could sink their fingers into the pizza dough and both enjoyed liberally sprinkling the mozzarella on top of their pies. I didn’t feel an ounce of stress about making dinner and the pride the kids had when their pizza were ready to eat was totally awesome.

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Some cheese for my pizza. Some cheese for my tummy.

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‘Mum! It smells delicious!’

I swear that making pizzas together had the same calming effect on my kids as making them take a pre dinner bath for a case of the grumps. Do you like to keep cooking with kids simple or have you attempted to create some fine dishes together?

I’ve got a truth for you: I’m still breastfeeding Josie who is now 2 years and 3 months old. HOLD THE PHONE! That might seem sort of crazy to some of you reading this. My plan all along was to nurse her to 2 years old and here we are! I didn’t really have a plan for  what I was going to do once we got to the 2 year mark, I was just going to see how things went.

A favourite nursing photo with my and my first born. Sweet memories.

A favourite nursing photo with me and my first born. Sweet memories.

Some of you will cringe at the idea of me still nursing a child that is no longer a baby. It will make a few of you feel some weird feelings and you’ll wrinkle your nose and wonder what the heck I’m doing.  I can ensure you, I’m not still nursing a toddler to make you feel uncomfortable.

For the last 6 months or so I’ve been uncharacteristically silent about the fact that I am still breastfeeding. Like I stated above, my goal this time around was always to go till 2 years based on a few deciding factors, like the World Health Organization recommendations and my own beliefs around normal term breastfeeding. Breastfeeding a toddler has the same nutrition and health benefits that nursing a baby has. Human milk does not become less beneficial just because your child blew out 2 candles on their birthday cake.

So, what’s it like to nurse a child that can lift up your shirt/ ask for milk/ talk to you while nursing?

It is great! In all honesty, if I hated it I would not be embracing our nursing relationship at this point. Nursing a toddler is actually sort of HILARIOUS at times. Josie is a very verbal 2 year old and, like many toddlers that still nurse, has a name for breastfeeding. Since about 18 months old she has called it ‘boo boos‘ and that is what she requests in the morning when her eyes are still half asleep, when she is very thirsty after an afternoon in the hot sun or when she needs some extra comfort.

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Each morning I pull her up and into the big bed, into the warmth of the bedsheets, where we cuddle tightly and she nurses with her eyes closed. Sometimes she reaches up to my face to check if my eyes are open or closed. She rubs my arm and settles right next to me for 10, 20, 30, 40 minutes. She asks to switch sides, switch again and then switch sides again. As a tiny newborn she’d ask for the same thing but differently. Since my girl now speaks sentences she flat out says, ‘mama, I switch sides!’.

Sometimes we are even silly about nursing and when she asks to nurse I look at her and say, ‘okay, just a little bit‘. She responds with her sweet smile and tells me, ‘no mama , a lot!‘. My girl has a sense of humour she likes to say goodbye to the boobs when she is done and gets annoyed if I don’t play along with her. ‘bye bye boo boos!‘…’bye bye Jo Jo!‘. She is also a very considerate little one and says please when she would like to nurse. She also makes sure to cover me back up when we are done and she is ready to move on and eat more food/play/bother her brother.

Nursing in the park on Mother's Day. One of my favourites.

Nursing in the park on Mother’s Day with my 2nd nursling. One of my favourite photos.

Doesn’t it feel weird to have such a LARGE child nursing on you?

When I first nursed my sweet 9 pound newborn she seemed so big to me and my arms got tired holding things in place while we learned to breastfeed together. I cradled her head and her shoulders and tucked her body into my body,  she kept growing and filling up more of my lap and we kept on nursing. As a tiny baby she’d always cuddled right into me and when I nurse my 2 year old she cuddles right into me just like she did as an infant. She hasn’t changed, she is just growing. When I’m nursing her and look down at her I see my baby, my child and nothing feels weird at all about breastfeeding her.

This last year we’ve mostly nursed laying down in bed and haven’t nursed out in public in about 18 months, this is the process of weaning for us. Outside my girl is happier playing and climbing and keeping up with her big brother. If she has a fall or gets a bump and the tears start rolling she might ask to nurse but she also does just great with a big smooch and a cuddle in my arms.

You like to breastfeed. We get it. Are you going to judge me because I didn’t breastfeed/I couldn’t breastfeed/I stopped way earlier than you?

Nah! Just because I’m continuing to nurse my toddler does not mean I judge other mothers who aren’t doing the same as me in the breastfeeding department. How silly would that be? I am not nursing my toddler to prove a point or to make you feel uncomfortable. All of that sweetness I felt when she was 1 hour old, 6 months old, 18 months…well, at 2 years old it is all still there.

Nursing my toddler doesn’t define my motherhood. Instead, it’s just the way we are.  I’m aware that I am nearing the end of my nursing relationship with Josie and she is slowly weaning. She can go a couple of days without being bothered to ask to nurse, especially when I am away working but the next day she might want to nurse 2,3,4 times that day.

I am proud of my nursing relationship with my child and I am reaping the benefits of normal term breastfeeding. While I am not breastfeeding to prove a point, I am blogging to help normalize breastfeeding within a culture that has skewed ideas about what normal breastfeeding is. If this post encourages one mother, helps make a family member less freaked out about breastfeeding beyond infancy…then I have succeeded.

I’m linking up with fellow top Vancouver Mom bloggers who are sharing their own experience with full term breastfeeding!

Hillary with two Ls (please) ‘Full-term Breastfeeding or Yup, Still Breastfeeding My Toddler

Spokesmama Normal-Term Breastfeeding, or, “Mama can I have noms”

Lilahbility He Can Ask For It

Do You Wear Dresses?

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April 7, 2014 // Beauty

Apparently as a little girl I loved wearing dresses so much that I would fuss if I was forced to wear pants. I have vivid memories of wearing knee socks and leather shoes from England all paired up with various dresses (also from England). Even now, as a mid 30′s mama of 2, I still love to wear a dress and  find it the easiest piece of apparel that can make you look like you did the most for the least amount of effort. Putting on a dress takes about 10 seconds, the Spanx I require takes an extra 60-75 seconds, but even after all of that I still come out ahead time wise.

I will not wear pants!- Andrea, age 5

I have a few requirements about what dress style works the best for me and I’m afraid that I have to forgo short short dresses and prefer a dress that flows over my knees and ties in at the waist. I think that once I discovered what type of dress was most flattering on my body shape, I didn’t venture too far from a couple of select styles that worked best. Also, when you feel good with what you are wearing your whole sense of self really glows.

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‘One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.’ – Karl Lagerfeld

I will tell you one thing I dislike about wearing dresses, the inner thigh chafe from all that contact. While the warm weather makes wearing dresses so much fun, it’s inevitable that your thighs will meet together and cause a bit of a sensitive rub. A girlfriend once gave me a tip about applying deodorant directly on your thighs to prevent the chafe and it turns out this advice was bang on.

Now that I’m a mother and at any given time someone might be wiping their yogurt/boogers/peanut butter face on me, I really like a dress that can easily be washed along with all of the other family laundry and not sent out to the dry cleaners. Usually this means a dress made out of jersey which I find to be very forgiving and easy to care for. Some of my favourite dresses have been jersey and I’ve bought them from a range of shops, including Target. Funny enough, it’s my cheapie Target dresses that have been used the most and have maintained their shape.

I am already getting excited to switch out my wardrobe and pull out all of my dresses for Spring and Summer months ahead of us!

 Check out these sites for a little more dress talk and inspiration!

 

Choose the perfect dress for your body type

A different idea about how to prevent that thigh rub that can happen 

Check out how blogger Audrey takes a dress into multiple Seasons

 7 comfortable Jersey dresses for you

 

I love reading other bloggers ‘Day In The Life’ posts. Laura from Navigating The Mothership is a regular at posting on this topic, check her out here. While I didn’t get as many snapshots as I wanted to, I got a fair number to share with you. Have a sneak peek into a day in my life.

6 AM: Josie was the first to wake up and joined me in bed for a cuddle while everyone else slept on. I have a bit of a dislike for the morning rush and would rather take things slow, let my body wake up and take in some quiet moments before things get busy. However, that is just my wish and not my current reality. When I’m retired I can see myself savouring mornings and embracing the quiet.

7 AM: Soon the whole apartment was buzzing and coffee was being made and school lunch was being packed. We got out the door and off to school with not too much drama or fuss. Kids were in a good mood and no one whined at me too excessively!

9 AM: Today this toddler chose her own outfit and despite the gorgeous sunshine she chose  to wear her rain boots. I asked her to pose for a picture and she gave me her sad face cause she hates leaving her big brother behind at school in the mornings.

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10 AM: Grocery shopping with a green smoothie in hand. Before my night shift I go into a nesting mode and get groceries to stock my family up with. It was actually sort of fun just shopping with one and she was a pretty charming side kick, but really terrible about sharing her smoothie. We stocked up on supplies for lunch and dinner for the next two nights.

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11 AM:It’s not even noon and I feel like we have already done a lot. Back at home we unload groceries and I try to start on a few of the household ‘to do’ list.  Today that meant towels and cleaning bathrooms and tidying up the kids room, totally boring stuff that has to be done. I distracted Josie while I tried to get things done but gave up after about an hour and a half. I feel more on top of life when things at home are nice and tidy before I go to work. I’ve always been that way, even when I was a new 23 year old nurse living by myself in my West End apartment.

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Noon: I started to get that night shift dread that always happens to me before my shifts. I decided to stop wasting the day doing boring housework and get outside and into the sunshine. This was the best idea hands down and it totally boosted my mood and made me chill out a bit. Even after being a nurse for over 10 years night shifts still get me a bit uppity. Also, labour and delivery is so unpredictable and can go from being sort of quiet to totally crazy in just 30 minutes. Josie insisted on bringing out her dolly for a seawall stroll and even though I knew I’d end up carrying the thing at least half the time I encouraged her.

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5 PM: I made an easy dinner of tacos and taco salad for me to take to work, played with the kids and got things ready to work my night shift. At this point I completely avoided staring at all of the remaining items left on my ‘to do’ list because, seriously, what was the point? My husband took the kids and dog out for some more fun in the sun and let me have a bit of time to get ready to head to work (love!).  I like to go into my shift feeling ready to take on whatever I need, so I like to make a point at trying to get my life organized so I don’t feel that external pressure while I’m busy being a nurse.

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7 PM: I’m at work ready to start my 12 hour shift. Happy to see that some friendly faces are also working with me all night long. It’s just so much nicer to work with colleagues that make you happy! The sun was still shining when I walked to work and I had my sunglasses on and everything. I really love that!

1 AM: Now I’m feeling the length of my day and I need some caffeine to push me through the next few hours. This is my ‘work mug’ that my sister gave to me last Christmas. I had told her my sad tale of how my coffee cup at work kept disappearing and how annoying it was becoming. So, she made me a bright extra personal coffee mug to keep at work and I love using it! Unfortunately, so do other people! Bah! How do you keep your work mug from becoming public property? Do you have to hide it far away?

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8 AM: I stumbled home, thankful for more sunshine and looking forward to going to bed for a few hours. When I got home I received major movie star kisses and hugs from my 2 kids. It’s amazing what you can cram into  one day. One day bleeds into the next and the night shift hangover haunts me for a good portion of the rest of the day. I drink water and coffee and nibble on toast but the only thing that really cures the night shift hangover is more sleep.

Feel free to link up your own ‘Day In A Life’ blog post in the comments! 

Oh my sweet sweet Josephine. She was my fastest birth, my easiest baby and she is my most challenging toddler out of my two. For all of the ease that she gave me during her baby years, she gives me equal mischief during her toddler years. The only constants between her babyhood and her toddlerhood is her love of eating and her ability to be a somewhat of a decent sleeper.

Josie turned 2 this past January and the girl can chat your ear off. She is very verbal and expresses her emotions, her opinions and is a keen observer. She  wants to keep up with her big brother and cries when I make her sit in her stroller instead of walking alongside with us. She will cry and whine to get her way, especially with me. She throws the classic tantrum if she doesn’t get her way and if she’s hungry or tired and sometimes just because. She has opinions on what she wears and likes to match me and carry a purse of a bag with her when she goes outside.

Whenever I ask her nanny how their day together went, the reply usually involves something about Josie being very social and getting people to notice her. She can shake her tooshie to the beat of a song and often requests Gangnam Style as her #1 song choice.  If the song doesn’t start fast enough she has been known to cue the waterworks.

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When Josie was an infant I felt at ease with her and easily slipped into the role of being her mother. It was a joy to parent baby Josie and my overall attitude was relaxed. I didn’t stress too much about how I was doing things and I felt confident with my parenting skills. Now that we have entered the second year, I notice myself sweating a little bit more. I’m a little more cautious now with how I choose our outings and our activities and I very rarely push her nap time.

Josie is super sweet and she also causes me to pause more along the way, I like to think of this as opportunities to learn how to better parent her and I like that there is no one set  of rules in parenting. We get to take things into consideration, like personality and temperament, while we think figure out how to best raise our children. So, I get to take my sweet baby Jo and learn how to deal with the challenges of having a kid that’s having an adventurous toddlerhood.

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Do you have any good tips/tricks/stories about raising a toddler that just might qualify for the ‘terrible twos’? 

Sisters: I’ve Got 2

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March 24, 2014 // Parenting

This past weekend I took the kids and went out of town to have a visit with my sisters.  We have always taken the time out of our work schedules, busy life schedules, kid schedules, etc to get together. We once joked that one day  when we are little old ladies we would all be spinsters together and have a house and a garden. However, we weren’t always each others biggest fans and we fought A LOT growing up.

I remember a particularly vicious  fight when I was around 13 or so, it was over a hairbrush and the fight happened while sitting in the back seat of the family car while it was parked in the driveway waiting to be loaded up. A tiny wire had poked up through the seat and as we fought and thrashed around  it snagged on my leg causing a deep cut with lots of blood and dramatics. That was the only fight I felt like I really won. I got all the parental attention and my oldest sis got in trouble for arguing about her hairbrush causing me to get a nasty gash.

“I was probably around 10 years old and wrote ‘FUCKYOUFUCKYOUFUCKYOU’ (in my own handwriting nonetheless) on the back page of my eldest sister’s Archie comic.  I was totally shocked and stunned when my parents figured out I had done it!”

There are 3 sisters with a 7 year spread between the oldest and the youngest. We grew up taking turns ganging up on the long sister, often playing 2 against 1 and rotating the enemy sister. Our hatred was often out of jealousy and the usual trails and tribulations of childhood. I’m sure like many of you, our behaviour displayed itself with ridiculous sibling rivalry antics. Much like the time when I was probably about 10 years old and wrote ‘FUCKYOUFUCKYOUFUCKYOU’ (in my own handwriting nonetheless) on the back page of my eldest sister’s Archie comic. I had the idea that my parents would find it, punish my sister severely, all while I’ giggled from the sidelines. I was totally shocked and stunned when my parents figured out it was me and I realized that my evil plan to frame my sister had backfired.

Years passed and over time we took turns moving out of the family home and that’s when things started to change with us as sisters and we started to see each other as friends. Eventually we started to want to visit with each other and spend time together. It felt comfortable and refreshing and we did things together that friends did. More years ticked by and soon babies started to join us and we bonded even more intensely over all of our children and our experience with motherhood.

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The more years that I get to live, the more I love having sisters in my life and I feel so lucky to have two. This weekend the three of us were able to take the time and meet up. There was the usual chaos with all of the kids around, but there was also lots of coffee and conversation and just hanging out . We got to have a little bit of relaxation at the spa, dinners out and just general ‘being together’. It’s sort of humorous to think back to how much we fought and how mean we were to each other. I’m pretty positive that the 10 year old Andrea would never have believed that she counts her sisters amongst her closest friends.

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Realistically speaking, it’s going to be about 2 weeks before the relaxation of having been in Hawaii will really kick in. What is it with traveling that makes you so tired? I swear it takes me just as long to unpack and settle back as we actually went away for.

While the laundry piles are extravagant and the children keep on requesting Lava Flows,let me take a minute to feel the love.

1. A few trips ago I discovered the local Hawaiian product line Malie and I love it all.  I am a big fan of their coconut vanilla room spray and body roll on. The first time I found this product we were in Kauai and I generously spritz the room spray all over my body before the store clerk came up to tell me it wasn’t body spray.  Apparently the organic ingredients meant my skin wouldn’t sizzle and the store clerk advised me that my faux pas was okay. This visit I felt extra splurgy on myself and bought the plumeria and the coconut vanilla perfume roll on along with the plumeria room spray.

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I love Malie! 

 

2. One of my favourite picture from this visit was sipping Lava Flows with Josie on a patio just before the sunset in Kaanapali. My kids are now professionals at ordering fancy restaurant drinks and always ensured that an umbrella would be coming with their beverage. I guess they follow in my footsteps.

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3. I officially gained 6 pounds in 10 days while dining on pulled pork and all the blended drinks one can think of. There was lots of salt and delicious snacks and we said yes to treats more than we said no. On the second to last day we broke our rule of not ordering pool side and splurged on a few over priced drinks. $22 for a Mai Tai…what??!

4. In the middle of our stay I bought Ben a really really really big inflatable pool turtle. It is literally the size of the roof of a 4 door car and I didn’t think how it would make it back to Canada, even all folded up. Luckily Ben has a dad that appreciates over sized pool inflatables and he took on the job of folding the turtle up. Now the turtle has secured his spot in our apartment for use at our pool. Oh the memories.

5. On our last night my husband and I booked a wonderful nanny from a local agency and went to the Four Seasons in Wailea for a dinner date.  This was all his doing and was a really nice surprise. We sipped cool blueberry martinis and watched the whales swimming in the ocean from our table. We had been busy with the kids while we were away and it was nice to take  in one last sunset as a couple. It was a pretty awesome date and made up for the epic illness that befuddled our plans this past Valentine’s Day too.

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Also, we were sort of surprised but impressed when Ben volunteered to go up on a stage at a luau and participate in  a dance. My husband said this was not something he did as a boy and I wouldn’t say I was that little girl who was eager to go out of my comfort zone too much. This is all Ben and we love seeing this in his personality!

 

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Anyways, as soon as the giant laundry pile clears up and the suitcases are stashed back in the storage locker, I’m sure I will stare back at all of our photos and feel that relaxed feeling that I know is there. In the meantime I’m spritzing Plumeria room spray wherever I go.

Mama In The Shot

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March 9, 2014 // Parenting

We haven’t taken as many photos this holiday as we have done in the past, which just means that we’ve taken a normal amount of holiday pictures and not the thousands of photos we have on file from other vacations. I think this is most likely because of our sweet little Josie who keeps us hopping with her hilarious toddler antics and her fondness for dashing off at top speeds. She is such a different toddler than Ben was, that’s for sure!

My husband and I went on a fabulous European holiday before Ben was born. About 80% of the photos taken were of me and the other 20% was selfies of us. Somehow my husband is able to hold his arm out and balance his heavy camera better than I could every do so he was always the one to capture our couple selfies. Since we became parents we’ve had significantly less photos of us as a couple, so he humoured me and snapped this silly photo of the two of us.

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When Ben was born we seriously had hundreds of photos of him within his first few weeks as a newborn. We even have a couple of fancy photo books of Ben’s first couple of years back when he was an only child. We captured so many great moments and so much cute baby chub and milestones. I still love taking the time to go through all of the photos and look at his early years. Then we had our second child and family photography was scaled way back. Things like making sure everyone was bathed and fed trumped the whole opportunity to take photos and if photos were ever taken there never seemed to be enough time to edit photos. This just means that Josie doesn’t have any of her own photo books and she has a lot less milestones and memories captured as a baby.

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I made a bit of an extra effort to get some photos of me and the kids on holidays and I’ve tried to take a few more of my husband with them too. I think we are often all so busy moving through the routine of our days that we don’t get the opportunity to capture daily moments with photos. I love the presence that photography holds in capturing memories and I know that in a week, a month or more I will really be thankful to have been in the shot with my kids.

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I’m so happy to have these photos of me with my kids. I’m also happy that I’ll have some material to put in the empty photo frames that hang on my walls.  There are the frames that I bought back in JULY (!!!!) and they’ve been sitting around waiting to get hung on the wall. Now my empty frames are ready to go and I’m ready to print off family photos and put them up to keep on being enjoyed.

Do you have many photos of you and your mom together? Are you usually behind the lens or the feature subject?

ALOHA!!

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March 6, 2014 // Beauty

We are on the island of Maui right now and in full on vacation mode. Which means blogging is taking a back seat to playing at the beach and enjoying the Hawaiian sun. This is my 4th time to Hawaii and my kids 2nd time, they are lucky children. Both of them are enjoying the double parental attention and I’m enjoying not feeling the stress of the daily grind.

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See if you can pick out what is false and what is true:

  • I drank a rum and coke out of Josie’s straw sippy cup while at the pool.
  • We’ve been sleeping in every morning and it feels great.
  • I’ve had my share of fish tacos and I still want more more more!
  • We have booked 2 different luaus because we couldn’t decide which one to go to.
  • I’ve been snorkelling every chance I get because I love feeling the waves crashing on me while swimming in the ocean.
  • I bought a $30 blow up pool turtle and decided to get it blown up at the shop without thinking about having to walk it (and the crappy travel stroller) back down the board walk.

The whole family absolutely adores Hawaii and I love it so much that I was even checking out real estate and condo prices. A girl can dream right? I also love having paid vacation from work and every chance I get I say to my husband, ‘I’m getting paid RIGHT NOW!’. With that being said, I’ve booked myself my very first cabana massage on the beach. Rules are that you should wear a bathing suit but I might have to bend those rules for a really good shoulder massage!

 

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