School Daze

Snuggle Bugs

It’s early. I’m sipping my luscious latte (I love that word…luscious…I’ve used it several times this weekend…oh dear, distracted again! LOL! Like I said, it’s early. 5:30 and I’ve been up for an hour.)

As I sip, I’ve checked the schedule and plans for the week. Thought about priorities and things that need to get done. I smile at the remembrance of a very “luscious” weekend of connection and being with people I love. August draws to a close, with warmer weather and for me, a little bit of sadness and a little bit of pride.

Each year, they change so much. We measured yesterday and both of the “little guys” have grown over 1 1/2 inches since their winter birthdays! She is much taller than me, and he isn’t far away. And my oldest tells me he’s starting to look for a place of his own and he’s got a few job ideas and plans in mind. She’s excited about high school and the youngest is ready too. I didn’t have to stress at all about getting them ready; we’ve done all that. They mostly did it themselves.

They are happy and content for the most part. In fact, yesterday, she posted a pic on FB and said, “Click like if you’re having an awesome day like me”. She has been watching apparently. Learning to appreciate the good days and accepting and moving through the not so good ones. My boys don’t stress about anything much really. They are happy if the women in their lives are happy. LOL! I’ve trained them well 😉 Seriously though, they are just so good at going with the flow. I am grateful for healthy, happy children. I’d like to believe that I’ve had some part in that.

I do reminisce this time of year. I no longer regret the years passing by though. I am more “in the moment” most days, so I remember more and feel like I’ve really lived. I feel like I’ve been a part of my kids’ lives and for that I am grateful. I have no regrets about school days passing. The rush of the school year can make that difficult, I know because I’ve been a mom for almost 23 years.

Each year, I let them bloom a little more; relaxing my grip on their childhood. Some days, this is easy and some days I want to hold so tightly to a moment that takes my breath away. I pause, I take a mental picture, I say thanks, and I let the moment be. Sometimes I write down those moments, sometimes I don’t. But I remember and I smile each time I tell the story.

School begins again and another year is passing quickly. No regrets, my friends. This is a new year, a new chance to make changes. Breathe, love and LIVE these moments. Don’t be in a SCHOOL DAZE and miss out on the what is right in front of you.

I swear that this year will be different….
And every year, it’s the same thing:
    • Over-scheduled extracurricular activities
    • Homework incomplete
    • Too many late nights
    • School paper overwhelm
    • and I can’t wait for summer…and it’s only October!
Yep, we feel the same way you do! This year WILL be different!
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3 Ways to Stay Sane this School Year

 

Sometimes You Have to Just Go With the Flow!

adventure

 

It was Saturday morning; I had just finished a run. The sun was beating down on this beautiful summers day. I drove to the grocery store to pick up supplies for pickling the 40 pounds of cucumbers that I was to pick up later in the day from the U Pick farm. I was thinking of all of the things that I ‘should’ do this weekend to catch up as summers coming to an end. Then my phone rang. It was Shawna. “I have an idea”, she said. Uh oh, I thought. Usually when she says this it is some amazing plan for the business that also means a lot of work! 😉 It wasn’t about work though. She was heading up north to pick up her kids that had been staying at her sister’s all week and she was wondering if I wanted to come along with my kids. She said we would have a road trip and head to Jasper and do some exploring. Whatever we wanted to do really. My immediate response was I can’t because I have to pick up these cucumbers and get them all done up before they spoil. I have so much to do! I was thinking of  school supplies that I still had to get, yard work etc. She knows me well and said I will give you a few minutes to think about it. She must have sensed the panic in my voice! After several texts and phone calls with her and my hubby, we figured out how to make it work. Hubby encouraged me to not stress and just take one thing at a time. Shawna patiently listened to my concerns of just leaving all of my plans and as always she jumped up and said “I can go get your veggies” (which were out of town) “while you pack and get ready”. Still feeling a little hesitant and excited I started to get us ready. My daughter got her and her brothers stuff. I was still all icky from my run and hadn’t even showered. Anyways as you can tell I don’t do spontaneous or unplanned well. My OCD just doesn’t work that way!

What I wanted to share was that sometimes you have to just go with it. Take a chance or you miss out on things. Don’t wait for the ‘right’ time or to get caught up.

 

This was once instance where if I would have stuck with my plans I would have missed this:

 

How blessed were we to be able to enjoy this beautiful Canadian land?!
How blessed were we to be able to enjoy this beautiful Canadian land?!

 

And this… quality time with my young ‘uns!

 

How lucky were we to be able to enjoy this beautiful Canadian land?!
A great experience to share with my kiddos! 

 

 My favorite stop along the way. Sometimes we get so caught up in getting to our destination that we forget to enjoy the journey along the way. Not this time though. We had plenty of stops to enjoy nature’s beauty. 

 

What is it about waterfalls that is so magical?
What is it about waterfalls that is so magical?

 

And let’s not forget my favorite quote from the entire weekend from my little guy! 

 

A quote from my 7 y.o.
A quote from my 7 y.o.

 

 And I can’t forget our actual destination.

 

From 30 degrees celsius to 8 degrees on the ice. So pretty tho!
From 30 degrees celsius to 8 degrees on the ice. So pretty tho!

 

So… what did I learn from letting go of my schedule and throwing caution to the wind?

  • Not everything needs to have a detailed plan.
  • Sometimes you have to trust your heart and listen beyond your mind.
  • When what you really need slaps you in the face. Go with it. 
  • Adventures can be found anywhere. 
  • We can learn things from children of all ages.
  • When you can’t think clearly at home. It’s time for a get-a-way.

Thanks Shawna for knowing just what I needed and for the memories! And thank YOU  for coming along on my adventure!

 

live

10 Things to Smile About

me and bruce-small frame

Don’t ya just love my big smile!? (He’s kinda cute too!) 🙂

10 Things to Smile About:

  1. Working with my best friend, my husband at a place like Health Street where I get to help people every day!
  2. Working with my best friend, my BFF at a awesome, fun biz like Simple Life Celebrations
  3. Having my kids on a little vacation away from me – makes them smile too! And we love each other that much more when they come home
  4. Feeling the grass between my toes
  5. Eating a handful of raspberries
  6. Listening to good music, running or riding, in the country on a warm, sunny day
  7. Hearing any kid laughing. Doesn’t matter if I know them or not, it makes my heart sing
  8. Finding a comment or a share or a note from a SLC fan saying that we helped in even just one way. That totally makes my day!
  9. Getting goofy texts from the gaggle of girlfriends that usually escalates into a vast array of emoticons and smiley faces!
  10. Curling up with a great book, a cup of coffee and a quiet morning with my loved ones near. Really, that is the best, don’t you think? 🙂

Now it’s YOUR TURN! Today, I think this is a fun idea for all of us to try and it’ll help you practice gratitude.

Thanks Mama Kat from http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/ for this great idea!

Write down at least ONE thing to smile about 🙂 in the comments below! Come on, you want to make my day don’t you? (see #8 above!)

Comparison and Vulnerability

After my run yesterday, during my cool down walk, I decided to record my thoughts. It’s out of breath, raw and vulnerable.

The Thinker

Thank you all for being here, being part of this community. Who do you compare yourself to? Why? Do you struggle to remember how far you’ve come? I’d love to “hear” your answers in the comments below or on our FB page: www.facebook.com/simplelifecelebrations

Transcript:

“My biggest issue right now is comparing myself to others. Why can’t I be as fast as my husband or my girlfriends. Go as far as they are. I mean, it’s silly. We all have our own goals, our own demons to run from but I keep comparing myself to them and I forget how awesome things are. I mean, I never thought I’d ever be a runner in the first place for crying out loud and here I am running 12 kilometers today in the hot sun. I may be out of breath but I frickin’ did it.

It’s pretty amazing really, if you look back at those things. My husband thinks I’m the love of his life. My kids think I’m mom of the year, most days. Some days they hate me, but so does everybody’s kids. My mom is still, mom and dad are still my biggest fans. They don’t understand a lot of the things I do, but, whatever I do, they support it.

So, I need to let go of this comparison thing. You know, judging myself. It’s bad enough I judge others, but I judge myself the most harshly. I need to back off on that. You know, how can I be successful if I keep forgetting how far I’ve come. I need to be grateful for all that I’ve done, where I’ve been, who I’m friends with, who I love. That’s the most important thing.

Anyway, those are my random after-run thoughts. Bye”

Please feel free to send this along to anyone you think needs to hear it. We are not alone with our “comparing” thoughts. We all do it. It’s nice to know that we can be grateful for all that we have.

We love our fans! Join us on our Facebook page for ideas for simplifying and enjoying life.

School Shopping Already -Yes I am Serious!

Be prepared this year!
Be prepared this year!

I know. I know! It is WAY too soon to be thinking about back to school where I live. I can actually feel the burning glares from all parents as I am writing this. But, hear me out. It is not too early to start researching and buying a few back to school things. Hey. If you are prepared and organized you may realize that you already have much of what you need; this will save you some shopping sanity! 

Retailers are already beckoning you to come and shop in their stores. Commercials are already saying don’t miss their fantastic sales. Is it just too soon? Well, I definitely will not start devoting every day of my coveted summer to searching all of the flyers, watching all the commercials, scanning the malls. I will however take some time every now and then to research what we need so that when the time comes I know exactly where to go to get what we need. You see I really despise wasting time going in and out of stores to the point where I would probably say “just buy whatever” so that we can get through this!

Hang onto your wallets! With the rise of “back to school” as a two-month marketing exercise for retailers, it can be a tough job to get the kids outfitted and supplies bought without breaking the bank.

What I have here are a few tips to not break the bank, and to save you time and therapy fees!

Scouts Motto: Be Prepared!

This is good advice for many things in life including school shopping. Make sure you have each child’s school list before you so much as set foot in a store full of smelly markers, glittery pens and personalized rulers. You can download lists from your child’s school website. Also, many supply stores will have lists on hand according to school and grade.

Shop at Home First

Shopping at home first will save you time and money in the long run!
Shopping at home first will save you time and money in the long run!

I always think that it is a total bonus when I can find things on the list that we already have. Don’t ya just love checking things off? 😉 So go through those pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, duotangs, binders, etc. See what you have before you pull out the cash. Designate a certain drawer, shelf, box, or area for all of your finds so that you know exactly what you have.

Budget, Budget, Budget!

School supplies are now usually set up in a way that appeals to our children – the characters on the backpacks, the pretty designs on the binders, the glitter pens and smelly colours are attractive but come at an extra cost. Kids are easy prey for consumers and this is where it is our job as parents to set limits. Consider compromising. For example, if you want that more expensive backpack then we will need to get the regular binders. This is a great time to teach your children some financial responsibility.

Once you know exactly what you need set your budget. Then you can shop flyers and search online. Try not to stray far from your list.

Shop Early….and Late

By shopping early you are assured to get exactly what you need. You will also have a little more time to compare prices and sale shop.  By waiting until a week or two before school is in you will be able to buy items at a clearance cost. It’s a win-win but remember by waiting too long you may have slim pickings. Stock up on a few essential items that the kids use every year. This will save you money next year.

As the Beach Boys Would Say – Get Around! 

Sometimes it pays to shop off of the beaten path. Grocery Stores, crafting stores, and dollar stores are also great places to find supplies. Most stores want a piece of the retail back-to-school action. What about asking on the buy n sell for supplies? You never know – it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I hope that school shopping for you is painless and dare I say fun?!… Keep these tips in mind and you are sure to be done before you know it!

~Remember when we had to walk to school uphill BOTH ways? Barefoot…in the snow? Kids these days have it so easy! 😉 

 

 

 

Do It Anyway

I heard him rummaging about in the kitchen (though he was trying to be quiet). He was making a quinoa meal for our lunch today. He was going for another run this morning.

Oh, those sheets were comfy. They were still warm where he’d been. I rolled over onto my belly. My body trying to convince me to just stay there.

I padded out to the kitchen and was wrapped in his warm arms.

“Good morning. How did you sleep”

“Good” – came my answer, muffled in his chest.

I slipped back to the bedroom. Collapsed on the bed and checked my phone for a couple minutes as my body woke up.

One more hug and then I pulled on my gear and kicked my butt into my workout.

He came down before he left for his run and asked me how it was going. I gasped out, “I suck!” and he just said, “Keep going”, and I did. Those last shoulder presses – I pushed through them. Reverse crunch? …grunt…O-N-E more!

Oh, I deserved that slow, methodical stretch at the end. Mmmmmmm, feels so good to stretch warm muscles.


I’ve been thinking about how I haven’t felt very motivated these past couple months. I’ve been kind of disheartened and afraid to push myself. What if I am successful? What will that mean? Where do I see myself in the next few years. Can I do all that I want to do? Do I have it in me? Am I ready for the work that will require?

sink

It’s waaaaay easier to just stay still, isn’t it?

It’s waaaaay easier to just stay in that warm bed, isn’t it?

It’s waaaaay easier to leave the dishes in the sink and watch TV, isn’t it?

It’s waaaaay easier to just eat the same food that I know isn’t good for me, isn’t it?

It’s waaaaay easier to just do it myself, rather than let the kids do it, isn’t it?

It’s waaaaay easier to do the same things every day, with the same people, isn’t it?

It’s waaaaay easier to stay in that job where I’m miserable, isn’t it?

It may be easier, but is it better? That’s the question I’m asking of me today. How about you?

Why I Try to Buy Second Hand

I think we can all say that we have bought something brand spankin’ new at one time or another thinking that it was da’ bomb. BUT…before you know it,  it has sat around collecting dust. It just wasn’t what you had hoped for or maybe it was too confusing to even use. Perhaps you tried it out and it wasn’t at all what you thought it would be. Sound familiar? We have all been there, done that. We feel badly for wasting our hard earned money.

I have been making a conscious effort in the last year to buy used. Whether it is furniture, an appliance, books, toys, or clothes there are so many reasons why it is good to buy items used.

First of all when you buy used you do not put a strain on the environment. You do not have all of the packaging that your product comes with. (The tape, boxes, bubble wrap, foam packing, manuals, instructions etc.) Also, you may be preventing things from going into the landfill when you get them second hand. Bonus!

I also just love the look of used, antique and vintage items. I think that things have more character when they are old. Have you noticed that people are refinishing old furniture and repurposing things all the time now? I love it!!! People are making beautiful, functional, artistic pieces out of old things. Ever noticed that old appliances and furniture were built to last not just to outlast the warranty?!

Another obvious reason for buying used is to save money. Why pay an insane price for something that you can potentially find in the same condition for much less money? It’s like when you buy something and then the next day you find that same item for sale. I always feel like I have been ripped off by spending more than I needed to.

By buying used items, you support local businesses (consignment shops/thrift shops). In my community much of the money from these items goes back into my community. Cool! Buying from Kijiji, Craigslist or the Buy n’ Sell also helps other people declutter. That make me feel good too. 🙂 “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-jsCyovGeI

When I buy used I always find that there is a sense of satisfaction knowing that I saved money and got a deal! Don’t get me wrong I not only buy second hand but I sell and donate a fair bit as well. Here is a list of some of the items that I have sold, donated or given away since the beginning of the year.

 

I have been getting rid of lots of things!
I have been getting rid of lots of things!

I have made $1145.0 from the buy and sell it was stuff that no longer served a purpose in my family. Yes we have made purchases as well but the selling is outnumbering the buying. I may have to research and wait a few days or even weeks to really find what I am looking for but it is totally worth it! It also gives the kids incentive to let go of some toys when they can make a little money for themselves.

I would love to hear your reasons for buying used items! Drop us a comment below. Thanks!

 

 

Organizing Barbies!

All in one place!
All in one place!

Every week I like to work on at least one organizing project. Recently, my daughter purchased some Barbie items second hand; specifically the camper, car, and tent that you see in the picture above. The dolls and accessories were getting out of hand in her room. So Barbie and her entourage had to find a new home. They moved residence to the family room in the basement. After just an hour or two, everything was all in one place ready for Megan and her pals to play. I just love it when everything has a home!

Here are some more pictures of how I organized everything. (I sure wish that I would have taken before and after pictures of this process!) Next time.

This houses a ton of Barbies 'must haves'. :)
This houses a ton of Barbies ‘must haves’. 🙂

 

I had this storage unit that I initially bought for my son’s room. Then I moved it downstairs to hold stuffies. Now it is perfect for Barbie Doll stuff. Sometimes you have to play around with the storage that you have rather than buy new stuff all the time. I LOVE reusing things. If you are finding that you are needing more and more storage then it is probably time to do a purge. * Here are 10 Creative Ways to Declutter your Home.

 

The 'wheels' and the 'crib'.
The ‘wheels’ and the ‘crib’.

 

Beside the storage unit we have the Camper, V Dub Beetle, Tent, and House. I am sure that Barbie and Ken would be so happy with this living arrangement! 🙂

 

Using the top of the unit for a few more items.
Using the top of the unit for a few more items.

 

Using all of your space vertically is a great way to maximize the area. The smaller container to the left on top holds the shoes and purses. Good thing I don’t have this many shoes and handbags – I would be in BIG trouble! haha

 

Barbie Accessories Drawer

 

This is the top drawer of the storage unit that holds more accessories.  Here we have inexpensive clear containers (3 of them) that we got from the Dollar Store. This was the only thing that we bought ($2). I chose the clear containers so that my daughter and her friends could find what they want easily.

 

Barbie Clothing

 

Here are all of the Barbie clothes. I used a Zip Loc container that I had on hand. You will see in the container to the right that this has clothes from my Barbies from the 80’s. Yes they are a wee bit dated but everything comes back in style right?! Did anyone else have Barbie and the Rockers? The one that came with the Cassette?!

**FLASHBACK**

 

Barbie Sets

 

Here in the bottom drawer of the unit I have 3 sets that she received as gifts. (A barbie pool, pediatrician set, and hair styling set.) Gee, Barbie does everything doesn’t she?!

 

Barbie Suitcase

 

This small Barbie suitcase was given to my gal from Shawna’s gal. It is the perfect size for the dolls to fit in.

There you have it. I am happy with this system and it looks nice. My daughter is happy that she knows where everything is. Win-WIN. Yay!

For more tips head on over to Facebook for more organizing ideas, repurposing ideas, recipes and inspiration. We would love for you to share your organized spaces with us.

 

 

 

Fast Leftover Steak Fajitas

It was CRAZY hot here on Tuesday night. The usual 20+ weather became a muggy 35+! It was waaay too hot to cook, but Bruce and I figured out a great way to quickly use up some leftovers! This is another simple, budget-savvy and very fast weeknight meal. No need to turn on the oven or even the BBQ again! Just a quick warm up on the stove! Grab your team and get this done FAST!

fajita

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive or camelina oil
  • juice of one whole lime
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • sea salt & pepper
  • leftover steak – about two – sliced in strips, about 1 1/2 inches long
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion – we used white
  • 1 sliced and diced bell pepper – we used the last bit of orange & yellow & that we had in the fridge!
  • 4 tortillas
  • grated cheese

How To:

  • Mix the oil, lime juice & spices together in a bowl.
  • Heat this mixture on medium temp in a pan
  • Add steak and peppers and stir until heated through and peppers/onion are cooked to your tastes – we did about 5-7 minutes
  • Serve warm on tortillas with salsa, cheese and/or fresh guacamole (I basically mash an avocado, add some lime juice & salsa & voila, that’s the quickest fresh and good for you!)

Serves 4

This is really easy and doesn’t use those salty, chemically-laden spice “mixes” from the store. Use whatever “Mexican” spices you have to jazz up the sauce. I would have added fresh cilantro if I had any. It’s also a great way to use that leftover steak. You do not want to waste those expensive cuts that you always BBQ too much of!

Meal Planning and using up leftovers is what we do! Get our meal plans delivered straight to your email and eliminate the “What’s for supper?” question! Click on the badasses below to find out more!

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I Have All These School Papers – Now What?!

‘Tis the time of year when the kids are sent home with schoolwork, report cards, supplies, and anything else that may have been lingering in their desk or locker. (Hopefully you do not find a nasty, fuzzy green sandwich in your child’s backpack like I did one year. At least I think it was a sandwich?…)

Perhaps I should back up a wee bit… My children come home from school with papers in their backpack on a daily basis. These are forms, weekly correspondences, school newsletters, hot lunch papers and whatever other notices that we need to be informed about. I try to go through these papers as soon as they enter my home otherwise the paperwork can pile up VERY quickly; especially because I have more than one child plus my own mail and work stuff to deal with. The best thing to do is make an action pile for things that need to be looked at and dealt with soon. Another pile for the papers that you need but don’t need to be processed right away. A final pile will be the papers that need to be saved and filed. Here is a more detailed description of the categories of papers that can be placed in a temporary file or pile.

  • Take Action/Sign – this file is for forms that need to be signed, permission slips that need to be returned, teacher requests, PTA announcements, and flyers about events that need to be added to your calendar.
  • Short-Term Storage – this file is for forms or information that you don’t need to keep forever but will need to refer to at some point in the near future. For example: information on an upcoming field trip that includes a list of what your child is to bring or a flyer on an upcoming school event.
  • One per child labeled with the child’s name – this file is for each child’s special papers, progress reports, test scores, awards, certificates, or programs from sports, school plays or musical events.

So now the year is coming to an end and all of the action and short term papers have been dealt with. Now you are left with the keepers or the special papers that you and your child want. What do you do with them?

Here’s what I do…

Below is an example of storage that I bought for my daughter. It is a cute file box that has built in dividers. It actually has 12 for each month of the year. I will use one per year until grade 12; it works out great! And it was only about $15. As you can see in the bottom photo, I put the report cards on the top, then special certificates or awards, schoolwork, memory book and then the favorite art pieces.

I am sure some of you are wondering how it will all fit in there? The key is, every time your child brings home a bunch of artwork, lay them out on the floor and have them choose their favorites. If they want to keep absolutely everything, encourage them to choose their very best ones and take a picture of the others. They may or may not ever look at that photo but keep it for a while just in case.

So far this way of organizing everything is working out fantastically. I have 4 years in there. She does have a few items that do not fit in there and I do not stress about it. That stuff is in a really large envelope beside this box.

 

Finding proper storage is half the battle!
Finding proper storage is half the battle!
The handy dividers separate the years.
The handy dividers separate the years.
Decide what is important to you and your child.
Decide what is important to you and your child.

 

Find what works for you and your child. Some people use those plastic totes or hanging files in a box. Some people like to scrapbook while others may want to utilize a binder. It is just one of those things that you have to play with and have fun!

If you are needing help with setting up a station for your child’s school work let us know! We can get you on your way to having some organized memories.

 

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