September 27, 2016

Keeping the Marriage Alive – One Date at a Time!

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One of the hardest things about having kids is keeping the marriage alive. I’m mean, let’s face it…our bodies are different, our schedules are busy, our beds are sometimes not our own, etc., etc. I could go on and on – there are countless things fighting for our attention and challenging our time.

On top of all of this, if you haven’t hired a babysitter in YYC lately, I’ll let you know right now that the going rate is $10-$15/hour.

$10-$15/hour people!!!

(I do have a bit of a solution to this problem, but I’ll have to blog about that another day…until then, save up your money to pay for babysitting!).

A few weeks ago, I made a pledge that Darren and I absolutely need to make time for 1-date per month. No. Matter. What.

I know it probably doesn’t sound like much to those without kids, but anyone with offspring will understand that this might be a tall order! However, now I have said it out loud and made a commitment to our relationship (as well as the world-wide-web) so this definitely has to happen. If you aren’t seeing me blog about our YYC dates at least once per month, for goodness sake, please send me your hate mail!

The good news is, we did manage to squeeze a date out before month’s end. Last weekend, I was starting to panic (and feel the end of the month closing in on us) so I rushed to get something together last minute (way to prioritize ‘date night’, hey?). Embarrassing.

Anyway…we scored a REALLY NICE SUPPER for SUPER CHEAP (and I mean ‘cheap’!) at San Remo Ristorante in McKenzie Towne (if you haven’t been there, I would really recommend it…with or without kids). They have specials on each night but,  on Sunday nights, they have $10 pasta-night AND $10 ½ litre of wine night. Can you imagine??

So, we had one of my favourite appetizers (Truffle Butter Popcorn), fresh bread, two pasta entrees AND a ½ litre of wine (hello!) for under $40! I’m sure it’s hard to believe!

Anyway, it was really a nice evening and I had a chance to hear about some things that happened in my husband’s week that I don’t think we would have talked about had we stayed home.  We got to connect, without distractions (insert children, devices, Netflix, NHL Centre Ice…) and that’s exactly what we needed after pushing through a week of work, school, activities, hockey, and so on and so on (you know the list goes on forever). It was perfect!

I was really glad we made the time to get out together and I am already thinking about what we might do for our October evening out! If you have some fun ideas (in the Calgary area) – please send them my way!

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(Truffle Butter Popcorn, Spaghetti Bolognese, and Sausage and Pepper Penne shown above.  

Oh!  And as my husband would put it – also a ‘nice Malbec’!)

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 10, 2016

Our Family’s RV Options Wishlist

 

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Photo credit: Natureworks – Morguefile.com

I touched a little bit on the fact that I started making an RV Wishlist in my blog post Glamping – How We Got Started and I thought it might be helpful to share it with you.  So…here it is…

Our Family’s RV Options Wishlist

  1. Multiple lower sleep options for the kids

You can get bed rails for upper bunks, but we didn’t want the kids (who at the time were only 3 years old) falling down the ladder or stepping onto the other child when trying to get down in the middle of the night for a bathroom break.

  1. Power awning

My poor husband got into a losing battle while trying to bring in the manual awning on our rental. He didn’t have much to add to this list, but power awning was a must-have for him.

  1. Outdoor kitchen

When food gets cooked outside, it means there is less mess inside the trailer for me to clean up AND more cooking help from my husband who seams to be more interested in taking on cooking if it’s outdoors. So, basically everyone wins here! Or…on second thought…’mom win’!

  1. Bathtub

It was so nice to be able to give our kids a good soak at the end of a full day of being outside all day (which is basically every day). Hot water tanks on RV’s tend to be pretty small and showers need to be fast and furious…not ideal for trying to clean up extra dirty tiny humans).

  1. Accordion door/Curtain at kids’ sleeping area

We still planned to keep a bedtime routine and I felt strongly this would help. They don’t do much to block sound, but they do block some light. Also, I believed it made a big difference that the kids weren’t able to ‘see’ us sitting at the table eating snacks and playing cards. I’m pretty sure if they were laying in bed just watching us have our ‘adult time’, it would have ended with them at the table too (and me probably hiding in the tiny bathroom to catch a break).

  1. TV/ TV outlet

Sometimes it rains, so having the option to pop a dvd in on a rainy day is really nice! We took out some dvd’s with us from our collection. It was also nice to put those to use since they haven’t been touched since the era of PVR’s and Netflix.

  1. Power slides

Remember when I mentioned earlier to you my MIL (Mother-in-Law) calls me, ‘citified’?

  1. Air conditioning

While I like the heat, my husband doesn’t like it as much. It also helps you to not melt the food in your pantry (trust me, plenty of food items get crammed into the pantry since RV refrigerators are very, very small).

  1. Outdoor tap

It’s really nice to have something to spray off dirty children and outside toys, or to fill up a bucket of water for putting out your fire pit, etc.  Sometimes you can get a little extension-type hose for your outdoor kitchen tap. Some RV’s also have an actual outdoor shower-type spray with both hot and cold. Either way, it’s really nice to have.

  1. Outdoor-accessed storage

Storage that can be accessed from outside – because who wants to haul their outside stuff inside to put it away?

Bonus RV Wishlist Items:

  1. Outdoor speakers

Because who doesn’t love listening to great music outside?  It’s probably going to be where you’re spending most of your time, after all.

  1. Bluetooth

Listening to music is even better when it comes from your device…because it’s going to be the stuff you love!

**I should note a special thanks to my friends, Liane & Ericka, for helping me round off this list**

PS In case you’re interested to know, in the end, we settled on a Venture RV Sport Trek ST312VBHK.  We love it, so far, and know it will accommodate our family for years to come!

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.