September 13, 2016

My Twins Started Preschool and I’m Mourning

 

fullsizerenderOkay, I know that using the word ‘mourning’ is probably dramatic – perhaps ‘heart broken’ would be better?

Either way, my heart is aching a little.

I know that I’m not the first parent to send my first born to preschool…but I suppose it is ‘my’ first time sending my first (and last) born to ‘school’.   Is this how it is going to feel every time they reach a new educational milestone? Ugh.

Maybe I’m a little sad because this means my ‘babies’ aren’t babies anymore?

Or maybe it’s because this is a big step that somehow feels like my time as a full-time mommy is changing? Am I ready for that?

Or perhaps it’s because I’m not sure preschool is really the right choice for our family. Should we be allocating this time and money to other activities that the kids have been asking for? After all, they do already have 13 years of school ahead of them. Is preschool even necessary?

I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m feeling a little down about the whole thing.

Of course Gray and A were excited and happy to start their first day yesterday. After all, our family has been talking about preschool quite a bit over the summer and all of us (including me) have had plenty of time to prepare ourselves.

When I dropped them off, I gave them both a kiss and told them I love them and they started to settle into their new routine right away. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see one of my close friends watching me (he was dropping off his 3rd of 4 children…who is entering his second year of preschool…so this is totally old news to him). He commented to me that he was just realizing that this is my first school drop off and instantly my eyes began to water. Thankfully it ended there and I was able to keep it together, but friends…it wasn’t easy. I could have easily sat down and had a good cry.

For now, I’m going to keep my chin up! I mean really…what else can I do? I’m sure over time I will get over this feeling and I will start to embrace having a few extra hours to have a little break (and by ‘break’ I mean childless grocery shopping before 8pm – OR – a trip to the motor vehicle registry without having to use the words ‘stop’, ‘no’, or ‘don’t’ – over and over and over…).

I do want to share with you something that I tried yesterday that helped me feel a little better: As soon as the kids were done their first class, I took them straight to our local Starbucks so we could enjoy steamed milk together. I put away my phone and I gave them my totally undivided attention while I invited them to share with me the details their big day! Of course, as they shared all of the exciting things they did, I couldn’t help but feel the contagiousness of their joy and excitement!

Hearing them tell it all over again to their dad, during suppertime, helped too!  …and, perhaps, so did the glass of wine that went along with it!

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September 3, 2016

Journaling their Special Moments

 

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I am a very sentimental person and I love preserving memories! I always have.

I photograph often, I keep special items (even if they are in a box in my basement), and I did buy and (mostly) fill out baby books for the twins. I’m just that kind of a person.

But, as the twins moved away from their first year, there were so many moments that brought us joy and I didn’t want to forget them. So, I decided to buy them each journals. I just found some nice, good quality ones that I thought would stand the test of time from our local Chapters/Indigo bookstore. In them, I record anything at all that I don’t want to forget or that I think the kids will enjoy learning about themselves later.

Here are some examples of things that I have recorded for them:

  • The first time the twins gave each other a kiss
  • The funny ways they used to put sentences together and the sweet ways they said certain words (for example, Miss A used to call Gray ‘Gay-Gay’)
  • The day they scored their first soccer goal in Timbits Soccer
  • That time I found Gray plunging his own face with a plunger (Yes, that happened…for real!)
  • The time Miss A put her own self in a time out after doing something naughty

I also staple in small paper memories that don’t take up much room in their journals. Little things like my favourite day home reports that we received or Gray’s gymnastics report card where he was praised for having such good listening and being a role model for classmates. Pretty much anything that makes us smile!

I know being a parent is extremely busy and little things like this can get lost in the shuffle. The one thing that really helps me stay on top of keeping the journals current is simply keeping them on my bedside table, along with a pen, so I can add a few quick notes before bed. I also store little notes in my phone if something comes up while we are away from the house that I want to remember – those get added at bedtime also.

After sharing that I do this with one of my friends, another mom of twins, I could tell she really liked the idea. So, we actually gifted her twins with their own journals on their birthday, so they could have their own collection of memories started. I know that at 5-years old they might have not put that at the top of their ‘favourite gifts’ list, but hopefully down the road they will be happy to have those keepsakes.

I know their mama will anyway!

August 23, 2016

Yeah, I Like to Knit!

Purple Mittens

I know this is pretty unconventional for a 30-something, but I like to knit.   Well, truthfully, I like to try. Really, I’m not a skilled knitter, but I find it relaxing and especially rewarding when my projects actually turn out.

A handful of years before having the twins, I rounded up some friends to join me for a ‘Learn to knit’ class at a local yarn studio. It was a fun time…we started our projects, we pulled apart our projects, but we did it together. Eventually, once most of us had kids, we occasionally gathered at someone’s house after the kids were in bed and we worked on our projects while drinking wine and eating ‘adult food’ – which, at that time, was basically anything that didn’t have to be pureed.

I had put down my knitting needles for a couple of years but I recently became acquainted with them out again when I was looking to pack some activities to work on while camping (okay, Glamping) when there isn’t any WiFi around (which is pretty much always). I’m so glad I did!

For the first 5 or 6 years I wouldn’t tackle anything outside of the shape of a rectangle or square but, for the last little while, I have been braving up and taking some risks. My projects don’t really ever come out amazing, but I have been mostly knitting for the twins and that is one great thing about having 4-year olds – they think EVERYTHING is perfect and beautiful!

I just (finally) finished up a little pair of mittens for my little girl. She LOVES them! I think they turned out ‘okay’ but really, as along as you don’t look too close, they did turn out all right (they are shown in the image for this post above).

In case you would like the pattern (I’m sure yours would turn out better than mine), here is the link for ‘Snow Princess’ by Girly Knits.  I just used cheap yarn, and beads, from Michael’s (just in case they didn’t turn out), but next time I would brave up and knit a pair with something a little nicer (and probably warmer).

I did pay for the pattern (it is actually the only pattern I have paid for so far), but I have knit up 2 toques and 4 mittens from it and they all turned out well (for me)…and I know I will use it again…so I think it was money well-spent and I feel confident now that the pattern is reliable.  It isn’t expensive at all.

Anyhow, if you’re looking for a fun, relaxing and maybe even productive way to get in some ‘Me-Time’, I would recommend giving this little hobby a try. If you’re in the YYC area, and are looking to get started, I would really recommend Stash Lounge in Inglewood.  It’s not super close if you’re in the burbs, like I am, but it’s worth the drive. The owner and staff are beyond helpful and patient and they have lots of goodies, trinkets, and classes. It’s where I go if I am knitting something special &/or need a few good pointers.

Happy knitting!

August 19, 2016

Preschoolers and Pay Per View Don’t Mix

Zootopia Photo

Our kids have been able (and allowed) to order their own Shaw on Demand programs for a little while now. They just need to ask first. They know they are limited to certain Treehouse and Disney Junior shows and they are able to identify them by the little thumbnail photos that are displayed. Anything else they need permission to select and they are very good about respecting that TV rule.

So, a couple of months ago, they did just that. They asked their dad if they could order the ‘show with the fox and bunny’. He didn’t really know which show they were asking about but certainly a show with a fox and a bunny probably sounded about right for a couple of 4-year olds.

At some point very soon, he realized that they had ordered a movie – Zootopia to be exact. Shoot! It wasn’t free! Well, they did ask after all, how could we be mad?

So, we let them watch it 3 times to celebrate!

Nah, actually…we just wanted to get our $4.99 worth before it expired on the 24-hour mark.

Well played, children.

So, the lesson here, my friends…if your kids can order ‘free’ programs, they can also order pay per view. Maybe get ahead of us and add a password to your pay per view TV. While you’re at it, it might also be time to add a password to some of the channels you might have even just through your basic cable.

August 18, 2016

Boudoir. Yeah, I did it – Postnatal Body and all!

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Image by Breathless by reina procee 

Boudoir. Yeah, I did it – Post-natal body and all.

I almost didn’t though.

I almost didn’t because I was afraid. I was afraid of being embarrassed. Afraid of exposing my post-partum body which, after my twin-pregnancy, was sadly left with ‘twin-skin’ and diastasis recti. Afraid of looking like an angry clown despite efforts to look sexy, while a complete stranger photographed my mostly-naked self.

Thankfully I got over it, I took a risk, and I did it – and really, I’m so glad I did (and I think my husband is too!).

It all started last year when a photographer I know posted on Facebook about an out of town colleague who would be in YYC doing a boudoir marathon right before Christmas. The boudoir photographer was selling a package, which included onsite hair and make up (with false lashes – whoot!) followed by 1-hour of shooting at a modern hotel in downtown Calgary.

My friend (a fellow twin-mom, actually) and I were both curious about it and after some back and forth with the photographer, we both took the leap and committed.  Holy crap! The timing wouldn’t be right for a Christmas gift, but I could use the images somehow for Valentine’s Day and I would have some time to sort that out.

Once I had committed, I went into a bit of a panic over how to prepare for the big day. What should I bring to wear? What colour should my nails be? Should I practice my ‘sexy’ look in the mirror ahead of time? I tend to sometimes be heavy on the details, and my nervousness about the shoot put me into overdrive.

Luckily, for me, the photographer did a pretty good job of preparing us for what to expect and anything that wasn’t covered in her info package (nail polish?) – she was able to answer easily.

In case you’re unsure (like I was), here is what I did to prepare:

How I Prepared for my Boudoir Photo Shoot

What to Wear

Although the photographer had made some recommendations for those interested in lingerie, that’s not really my thing so I opted to just follow her alternate suggestion of matching lacy bras and panties (I chose mostly black).

She did also invite us to bring other garments that are beautiful or meaningful. I couldn’t really dream anything up, but she was pretty great and had a few really nice one-size-fits-all items on hand. She had brought a beautiful vintage-inspired blouse (as seen above), a pretty sundress (as seen in the photo below), and a body suit and some other items I didn’t use. That was more than enough.

Oh, also noteworthy, I brought the highest heels I had!

Fingernails 

I stuck with neutrals and did a nude-type colour on my fingernails and a charcoal/black on my toes.

Practice Makes Perfect?

Honestly, a photographer-friend had suggested I practice a little bit in the mirror – which I think is good advice. I did try a few pouty-looks in my bathroom mirror one day but I felt like a fool so I gave it up. Honestly, the photographer did a pretty great job of directing a natural look. If memory serves me, there were a lot of deep inhales with exhales through a slightly parted mouth and also lots of looking down/down and away. It all worked out well and I luckily didn’t look like I was trying too hard.

On the Day of the Shoot

On the day of the shoot, I was totally nervous. You can imagine how embarrassing it was to check in at the front desk of the hotel – “Hi…I’m Dionne…I’m here for an…err…my 12:00 appointment?”. What? Lordy. Honestly, that was probably the hardest part of the 2-hours that I was there.

The hair and make up went beautifully and really gave me an entire hour to relax (special shout out the make up artist, Makeup by Erin Kilburn, who did hair and make up…she ‘was’ great and thankfully also made me ‘look’ great!).

What I Told my Husband

Luckily, since it was the holiday season, I told my husband ahead of time that I needed a day to get some Christmas shopping done. He thought nothing of it. Initially, I packed a bag with toiletries so I could shower-off the heavy make-up at my BFF’s house afterwards, but the make up artist ended up having a great suggestion on the day of – tell him I got a make-over at the mall!

It totally worked! Before I got home, I texted him to tell him they were doing free make-overs at MAC to showcase a new make up line and that they offered to demo an ‘evening look’ on me. When I got home, my husband didn’t even question the mani-pedi (thank goodness he’s not into details).

I was super happy to not have to wash-away the beautiful hair, lashes and make up I had had done (and paid good money for) but I did feel a little sheepish when I took Gray to gymnastics that night. I’m sure the other moms were probably whispering to each other wondering why I was looking like ‘that’ already at suppertime. Oh well. Lol.

All Said and Done

The photo-shoot went really well! The photographer, Reina, was super. She was very casual and full of compliments and assured me she was getting plenty of great shots. She had booked a suite, at the hotel, so we shot at different spots (on a large chair, on a chaise, on the bed, in front of the window) and I had multiple outfit changes. We actually wrapped up about 15 minutes early since she felt she had gotten quite a few great shots already.

In the end, the photos looked great! I’m sharing a couple of the more discreet ones here for you, but of course the rest are just for my husband.

I ended up making him a really nice photo book and presenting it to him for Valentine’s Day. He was so surprised and he really seemed like he loved it! It was nice to give him something special since, after almost 14-years of marriage, you start running out of V-Day gift ideas. This was unique and different than anything I had given him before. No button-up work shirts this year!

Also, I will say this. Although I booked the boudoir session with the intentions that I was going to give my husband a special gift…in the end, I also gave myself something pretty special. I was made to look and feel especially beautiful for a day. That day has been captured and I will have it forever. It was somehow empowering and gave me a renewed confidence…something I might have lost a little bit after growing and delivering 2 little humans at the same time. Now I had seen for myself that my postnatal, twin-bearing body could look sexy and beautiful.

If you have a chance to treat your partner (and yourself) to something like this, I would highly recommend it! It will be scary at first, but you both will be so glad you did!

xo

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Image by Breathless by reina procee

August 8, 2016

Glamping – How we got started

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Glamping

Noun [glamp-ing]

Glamorous camping

Once she had young twins, she could no longer bring herself to ‘rough it’ and camp in a tent. She wanted to camp but with the same comforts as home. 

Before we had the twins, my husband and I used to enjoy the occasional summer camping trip (like, real camping…in a tent). Something about escaping from the busy city and sleeping in the fresh forest air was such a fun escape!

There were a number of times that we camped together with his cousin, whose family camped in an RV (recreation vehicle). It was so nice to be able to jump inside their travel trailer to visit or enjoy a board game if it got too chilly or started to rain (which it literally did every. single. trip.). We also really appreciated being able to use a non-public washroom. I always hated having to trek in the dark to the typically stinky, (and maybe even a little scary) common camping washroom (yes, okay, this is probably a good time to confess…I am very much what my mother-in-law – who lives in a very rural community in Saskatchewan – refers to as ‘citified’).

It was during that time that we first started talking about maybe looking into getting a travel trailer of our own. Unfortunately, at that time, we didn’t have great RV-towing vehicles PLUS we aren’t very good at making decisions about big purchases, so the thought got shelved.

Once we had the twins, we started to revisit the idea of camping again. My husband had grown up in Saskatchewan, where ‘going to the lake’ during the summer, in the family’s fifth wheel, was a favourite family past time. He has many great childhood memories from those trips and we thought camping would be great way to create memories for our family as well!

Really, more than ever before, there was an appeal to us to have some of the comforts camping in an RV (aka Glamping): running water, heat, a little bit of space in case we get rained in, etc., etc.

So…we stopped in at our local RV dealership and wandered around from trailer to trailer. To be honest, we were a little overwhelmed with all of the various sizes, models, options, and prices that were available and we really didn’t know what we wanted or needed. I finally had a brainchild that we should maybe rent one for a summer holiday to:

  1. See if our family even likes to travel that way…and…
  2. Get an idea about some of the features that might (or might not) be important to us.

So, last summer, when the twins were 3-years old, we rented an RV in Salmon Arm from Country Camping RV and booked a camping site at Sandy Point Campground. To be honest, the cost of the holiday was a little bit more than we wanted, but it was really worth it. The campground was waterfront with a sandy beach (and not an unreasonable drive from Calgary), the trailer was really nice and had been delivered/set up upon our arrival AND we got the experience we were hoping for. It turned out our family loved camping and we got a great ‘wish list’ of RV features and options started for our next RV dealership visit.

Once we had our wish list compiled, it made a great difference in our shopping experience. We decided to check out Bucars RV just north of Calgary based on a recommendation from friends. Literally, the first thing I did was present my list to the sales rep who was helping us. With this information, he was able to really narrow down the best RV’s for us (which made this dealership experience way less over-whelming than our previous RV dealership visits) and after a few visits, we finally bought a travel trailer!

PS The photo in this blog post was taken of us with our Venture RV Sport Trek ST312VBHK during our ‘Red Carpet Walk-through’ at Bucars RV…that really happens. See the red carpet? They roll it right out! Sounds cheesy (okay, it is a little cheesy), but it was memorable, that’s for sure!

 

August 8, 2016

The Inaugural Blog Post

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Wow! I can’t believe I’m finally here!

This tiny idea of having a personal/lifestyle blog has sort of become a bit of a project, so I am elated to finally be sharing it with you!

(starting a blog seems like it should be simple but, man, there are A LOT of things to consider before actually getting to put your pen to paper! That’s definitely going to have to be a blog post later!)

How it all began…

Over the last couple of years I have had a couple of friends loosely comment in passing that I should write a blog. I think it’s probably because I have been sharing our ‘trials and tribulations’ on facebook and social media with friends and family since the twins (Gray & A) were born. I usually have a pretty honest approach, sharing both the joys, as well as the ‘imperfect’ moments, often. I am a first time mom AND a mom of twins, so my husband and I really just jumped right in with both feet. As you can imagine, it has been beautiful, crazy, joyful and sometimes flat out chaotic.

Only people without children gift chapstick this bright to a 2-year old

I envision Refined Imperfection as a little space that I can share my journey of raising my twins, being a wife, and holding on to a little sliver of still being my own person – here in beautiful YYC.

Thanks for coming by and saying, ‘hello’!

Shampoo pumps work great when you only have 1 hand - also when you have 2-year old hands and a mirror

Shampoo pumps work great when you only have one hand.
They also work great when you are 2-years old and you are left totally unsupervised.