Sunday, 30 October 2011

To Keep or Not to Keep?

My son Sam had his 2nd birthday on October 11 and it was so much fun!  Sam is the only "baby" in our family at the moment (the next one closest to him in age is my stepdaughter Emily, and she's 11), so Sam really gets doted on...who am I kidding, we spoil him rotten.

Anyway, after a couple of weeks, the dust has settled and the multitude of new toys have found their place in various spots around the hous,  The new clothes have been untagged, washed and put away, and even though Elmo still hangs on the wall and the Sesame Street balloons are still floating through my living room, our house has somewhat returned to it's pre-birthday party state.

So, tonight I sat down to write my thank you cards.  As I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate the small things and I've turned into a big believer in hand-written thank you cards... cards in general actually.  I get this from my mother who sends cards to everyone for every occassion (she sends out her Christmas cards in November!). The truth is, we all love to receive mail that isn't bills.  Even though my 69 year old mother is on Facebook and has her own email account, snail mail is her forte and frankly, I'm enjoying carrying on this particular tradition. 

I have a horrible memory (just ask my husband) so when receiving gifts I like to write the gift received in the card that it (normally) comes with.  This task accomplishes many things for me.  First, I love re-reading all the cards after everyone is gone so I can concentrate on the thoughtfulness of the card.  Some people put a lot of thought and effort into choosing the right card (I am one of those people), so I feel the need to give the card my full attention.  Second, sometimes the gift opening happens so fast that I tend to miss a lot of what happened, who gave what, etc.  Third, sometimes gifts get misplaced amid the chaos, so it's a good way to keep things organized until I can sort it all out at a later time (especially gift cards or gifts of money).  The last reason, and most important reason for me, is so I can personalize the thank you cards.

The question is, now what do I do with the birthday cards?  I've read them twice, used them to write the thank you notes, and now what?  Do I keep them?  Do I throw them out?  This is an ongoing dilemma for me... the problem of "keepsakes".  What is worth keeping for Sam and what isn't?  I'm not into keeping many things, except maybe pictures.  I believe my mom has one bin of my "stuff" from growning up, but I think I threw out everything else.  Do I regret not keeping some of my old things like my high school cheerleading uniform?  Some days yes, but most days no.  However, I'm feeling very conflicted on what to do with Sam's stuff.  Will he hate me when he's 40 and he realizes that I didn't keep every single card he ever received?  I don't think so, but what if...?  When he's gone away to college, will I regret not having these things to look back on?  I just don't know.

I have kept a few things of his.  For example, I kept his baby blanket from the hospital and the hair they had to shave off his head in the NICU when they put the tubes in.  I've kept his Baptism outfit, the first picture Emily drew for Sam, and the first picture Sam painted in nursery school. I have also kept all the cards from his 1st Birthday.  But do I really need to keep the cards from every birthday??  I had to make make a decision and ultimately they went in the trash.  Let the guilt set in...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Family, Friends & Fundraising = Happiness

Wow!  I can not even tell you what an AMAZING weekend I had... actually I can tell you, and I will tell you, but first a little bit of background.

Ever since Arbonne found me almost a year ago, I have done a lot of soul searching and thankfully a lot of growing.  With much thanks to Arbonne and their love of "bettering yourself to be a better leader", I've read some wonderful books, taken part in many inspiring workshops and even attended my first Canadian National Training Conference in Calgary this past September with Keynote Speaker John Maxwell. 

Now, I have always known (and fully admitted) that I am spoiled rotten.  I am the youngest in my family (by 9 years... can you say "oops!") and therefore, I was pretty much handed anything I've ever wanted. I get spoiled in so many ways, that most of the time I don't even recognize it. 

So, when I was finally able to quit my full-time sales job in the travel industry this past summer, I knew that I wanted to devote more time to thinking less about me and more about giving.  Please understand that this is not an easy task when you've been spoiled.  My former sales job took me out of town, out of province and out of the country often and I LOVED IT...when I was single.  But having a husband and a toddler changes one's perspective.  I really want to be home... and I want to stay home.  Don't get me wrong, I still want to travel, but I want to do so with my family, not for my job.

Back to giving... I truly want to be a better person and this is one of the things I love about Arbonne.  They also want you to be the best person you can be.  Now, I'm not a bad person by any means.  I believe it would be difficult to find someone who thinks I am a truly horrible person, but we spoiled folk tend to be naive when it comes to giving and being sincere.  And we desperately want to be liked... by everyone.  I will be 40 soon and I still have a desire to be liked... but most importanly I wanted to be respected AND liked.  I want words like "fun, giving, engaging, funny, smart, caring & sincere" to be attached to my name.  "Yes, I know Michelle, she's a truly wonderful person".  Hmmm, maybe people don't really speak like that, but wouldn't it be nice for people to at least think it when they hear my name?  I would really like that... but more importantly I would like it to be true.  I certainly have many moments of "sincerity", but a lot of the time the selfish part of me asks: What's in it for me?  Will being sincere and doing things to make other people happy push aside my own selfishness?  Will it still help me achieve my goals for me and family?  How will it benefit ME??

The answer is simple:  Happiness.  I have found that when I do something for other people it makes me happy... truly, sincerely, crazy happy.

This weekend was the perfect example and the bonus is it was so much fun!  On Friday night my son stayed at my parents and my husband and I went out for dinner with his sister and brother-in-law (date night!).  Then I got to spend some quality time with my man, talking, laughing, catching up together on our recorded tv shows from the week.  We both did work around the house on Saturday, and then on Saturday night I left my husband and son to do some manly bonding and I went out.  I went out for a cause... a great cause!

My BFF Pat and I, along with two other amazing Arbonne sisters, Evona & Diane, attended Dressfest. Dressfest is a new charity fundraiser in London that supports the London Regional Cancer Centre Patient Assistance Program.  We, as Arbonne Consultants, sponsored this event and offered to do makeup and touchups for donations.  Why would we do makeup for a charity fundraiser you ask?  Well, the catch to this fundraiser is you have to come in your wedding dress.  Well yours, or borrowed, rented, or bought, etc. So, armed with wedding dressess and makeup cases in hand, we were able to showcase our product to approximately 100 ladies and we helped a charity that is very near and dear to my heart.

Dressfest is only in it's second year and it is growing by leaps and bounds.  The host this year was Q97.5 and they had a silent auction room with so many goodies I'm surprised I didn't go home completely broke, a free wine bar sponsored by Harrison Pensa, fun raffle prizes & draws, a delicious appetizer bar, and music and dancing.  It was so much fun to meet all these amazing women and see a room full of beautiful wedding dresses.  Some dresses brought back fun memories from weddings in the 80's & 90's with the huge puffed sleeves and hats with veils.  They even had prizes for the oldest dress, etc.  I believe one winner had on her dress from her marriage back in 1971.  Let me tell you, after 5 hours of non-stop talking, socializing, applying makeup and chit chat, I was exhausted.  But I felt elated on my drive home because we did something good for people in need.  I forgot my camera (duh) so I apologize for the grainy pictures taken from my cellphone.  I will be better prepared next year!!  www.dressfest.ca





My fantastic mood carried over into Sunday where my mom and I hosted an Arbonne Holiday party/fundraiser at my mom's house for the same charity.  I had cash and carry Arbonne items available plus I am raffling off the Arbonne Vanilla Amber Holiday gift set and all proceeds will be going to the Patient Assistance Program charity.  We didn't have a huge turnout, but I still made $50 for the charity and my good mood has continued to last me into a gloomy, rainy Monday morning. 

I am proud to say that this past weekend was my third charity fundraiser this year.  The first was the Yard Sale for the Cure back in May in which we raised over $800 for Breast Cancer Research.  I had the help of family and friends and raffle baskets donated.



The second was the CIBC Run for the Cure in September.  My husband, son and I raised almost $400 and walked together as a family.  We met lots of family & friends who were also walking for this cause.  My husband and I decided that next year we are going to put in our own team and my husband really wants me to Run, not walk.  My new goal for the spring is to start training so I can run the 5k with my hubby.


The best part is I spent the entire weekend with people I love the most.  My family and good friends.  I did some fundraising for charity and I feel truly great about myself.  I feel... happy.  Maybe there is hope for the spoiled me after all.  :)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

He still loves me! A "sleep training" success story!

I can actually ask this question of many things, but tonight I am referring to "sleep training" my son Sam.

If you look back at a previous post a few days ago, Sam has trouble sleeping. Well, that's not entirely accurate. Ever since our trip to Italy this past summer, my husband or I have been having to lay down in Sam's room until he falls asleep. That was fine for the first few months, not a big deal really. Just missing some average television. It actually gave me some time to catch up on my reading. However, lately Sam has been waking up in the middle of the night and wants us to lay down in the bed. Please understand that Sam has just turned two, and he has always been a good sleeper (we've been spoiled). Most of the time he will sleep right through the night, so these past few months have been exhausting, to say the least.

In hindsight, we should have started sleep training him as soon as we returned from our vacation. We actually thought it would rectify itself over time (WRONG!).   I also have to be honest, the idea of "sleep training" made me want to vomit.  I couldn't bare the thought of Sam crying himself to sleep. However, after one particularily exhausting evening of getting up with Sam through the night, I decided it was time. My husband and I read some books and articles on sleep training, discusssed which method we were comfortable with, and then chose our course of action.

This past Thursday night was THE night. We conducted our usual nightly ritual of bath, snack, brush teeth, books and bed, and then we left the room. Before I left the room I told Sam that I would leave the door open and I would be in my office (across the hall) and that I would come and check on him in a few minutes. He looked at me for a moment (I could see this processing, and he didn't look happy) and then it started. The crying. I continued to walk out of the room (with my heart sinking) and the crying turned into screaming. I went into my office and my husband went into our bedroom (to make sure I didn't crack). After a few minutes, I grabbed a tissue, went into Sam's room, wiped his eyes and nose, told him that I love him but it's time to sleep and I'll be back in a few minutes. And that's what we did for the next 46 minutes. Every few minutes, I would go in, wipe his tears and his nose, reassure him, kiss him, and then leave.

At 47 minutes, the screaming and crying stopped. It just stopped. I thought to myself "Good Lord, I killed him." My heart broke. I jumped out of my office chair and slowly crept into this room. As I made my way to the crib, I picked up two stuffed animals, his favourite blankie and his soother... all of which he threw at some point during the screaming fit. I approached the crib quietly and peeked over the rail. There he was, my beautiful son, laying quietly on his back, staring up at me. He didn't say a word. I tucked him under his blanket, gave him his stuffies and his soother, wiped his eyes and nose, told him again how much I love him and that it was time for sleep, and he closed his eyes and went to sleep.

I went to bed feeling horribly guilty and truly believing that that my son was going hate me forever. My husband told me he was proud of me, and although I truly appreciated his support, I still felt like a horrible mother.

Eight hours later I awoke with a start... I realized that miraculously we all slept through the night! I went in to check on Sam, fully expecting him to give me the cold shoulder, and he just looked up at me with those big brown doe eyes, smiled and said "Hi Mom". HE DOESN'T HATE ME! YAY!!

I am happy to report that for the past 3 nights Sam has gone to bed, on his own, without a tear, and has slept through the night. Tonight I asked myself a question: How did I not see it? Why did I not understand that Sam fully expected us to still be in the bed because that's where we were when he fell asleep? Duh! It's common sense! Now, because we are not in the room when he falls asleep, he doesn't look for us if he wakes in the night. He just puts himself back to sleep. Why didn't we do this right when we got back from Italy? Who knows... I guess some of us have to learn the hard way.

Now to figure out when to tackle the soother...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

BabySteps - Living Life One Day at a Time: Just who is in charge here?

BabySteps - Living Life One Day at a Time: Just who is in charge here?: It seems like just yesterday I spent 36 hours in labour to finally meet my son Sam. In the blink of an eye, two years has flown by and his ...

BabySteps - Living Life One Day at a Time: All About Sam - A birthday tribute to my son who t...

BabySteps - Living Life One Day at a Time: All About Sam - A birthday tribute to my son who t...: I can not believe how quickly the past two years have gone. I remember Sam's birth like it was yesterday. I have vivid memories of a very...

BabySteps - Living Life One Day at a Time: An Unproductive Rainy Day

BabySteps - Living Life One Day at a Time: An Unproductive Rainy Day: My day started like most days for us.. Paul leaves for work as I lay in bed waiting for Sam to wake up. Sam wakes up too early (6:30am), so...

An Unproductive Rainy Day

My day started like most days for us.. Paul leaves for work as I lay in bed waiting for Sam to wake up.  Sam wakes up too early (6:30am), so I stumble to his room and fall into the empty double bed, mutter for Sam to go back to sleep and pull the covers over my head to block out the sound of his groaning (one of his self-soothing methods). 

The next thing I know, it's 7:40am and I really have to go... of course my leaving the room wakes up Sam, so I grab him out of his crib we jump back into the double bed for a 10 minute Mommy/Sammy snuggle, which I LOVE!  "Mommy, watch Elmo?" My one eye pops open.  "Mommy, eat toast & peanut butter?" My other eye pops open. Ok, up and at em!  A quick diaper change (part of the deal-making process) and we head downstairs.  I set Sam up in his high chair with his milk, grapes and video of Curious George, while I make my coffee and wait for Vovo to come pick up Sam so I can start my day.

8:45am and Vovo is here, I pack Sam into the car with his clothes for the day and I run back inside and get started.  I throw in a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, clean up the kitchen.  My morning is becoming quite productive.  My sister calls from Texas and I grab my coffee and sit my butt on the sofa and chat for half an hour.  We never chat about anything overly interesting, but I love the sound of her voice.  This morning she does manage to irritate me by mentioning that my two career choices are probably not my best choices in life, but we get past that and move on to more pleasurable topics.  We hang up and I call my friend and Arbonne RVP Evona to discuss how my Arbonne business is going.  I have to admit, my October is slower than I would had originally hoped, but my November is shaping up nicely.  I tell Evona all about my big plans for Arbonne for the day, hang up, change the laundry, grab my water bottle, drop in half a tab of my Arbonne Essentials Energy Fizz Tab (much better than a caffine buzz), and make my way up to my office to start making calls and working. 

Six hours later I sit here and have not accomplished anything.  Well, anything noteworthy that is.  Unfortunately my two career choices, real estate & Arbonne, are both networking and marketing businesses and if I'm not "out there" or making calls, I'm not making any money. 

Today, I am no where near "out there".  I'm cleaning out my inboxes, filing away papers, cleaning my desk and staring at the large binder of Arbonne clients I should be calling to move my business... and I think my laundry has been sitting there for hours untouched.  I did, however, unpack my shipment of new Arbonne business cards and another shipment of John Maxwell's new book "5 Levels of Leadership".  I ordered the Mabel's Labels "Loot Bag" combos for Sam's "friend" birthday party on Sunday.  SHOUT OUT TO MABEL'S LABELS (I hope they get here on time).  I also sent out an eblast to all my contacts with some Arbonne Holidays specials and another eblast to my personal contacts regarding my new blog.  Oh, and I did manage to write something for this blog.  That's gotta count for something... right?

Ever have days like this?  Days where you do "stuff", but feel like you did nothing?  I blame the rain...

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

All About Sam - A birthday tribute to my son who turns 2 today

I can not believe how quickly the past two years have gone.  I remember Sam's birth like it was yesterday.

I have vivid memories of a very, very long labour.  I remember being so frozen from the epidural that I couldn't walk for 48 hours. I remember desperately pushing for well over 2 hours to try and get him out so he would be born on Thanksgiving (didn't happen).  I remember scaring the heck out of my family because after 36 hours of labour and Sam being sent to the NICU, I was terrified and exhausted and just wanted everyone to go home. I remember how scared my husband and my step-daughter were.  I remember my mom wearing sunglasses because her eyes were swollen from crying.  I remember being afraid to take Sam home from the hospital after 3 days because I believed the NICU nurses could take better care of him than I.  I remember sitting in the back seat of the car, draped protectively over the car seat, all of a sudden fearful that we would get in a car accident on the way home from the hospital.  I remember desperately trying to nurse this little creature at just 5 lbs 12 ounces who would NOT latch on no matter how hard I tried or cried, or how many people tried to help. I remember the first time our eyes met and he looked right into my soul.  I remember when I finally realized that I wasn't going to break him.  I remember his first bath, the first time he grasped my finger, our first kiss, his first laugh, the first time he ate cereal and giggled the entire time I fed him.  I remember the first time he rolled over and the first time he swatted at a toy dangling over his head.  I remember how my heart stopped when he fell out of his high chair (I was almost sick to my stomach from fear & guilt).  I remember holding my tiny little man while he slept soundly, rocking gently back and forth in the rocking chair in his room, in the dark, and being completely at peace.  I remember the day I realized that it's not all about me... it's all about him.

And now he is a little man, just turning two, and I am the happiest I have ever been in my entire life.  I love to watch him play, learn, laugh, discover, make new friends and talk to strangers.  I love when he walks down the street with his arms swinging wildly. I love to watch him trying to learn how to skip, or run in the grass without falling, or trying to figure out his colours (when in doubt just say "blue") and trying to count his way up the 13 stairs in our house (he seems to forget numbers 4 and 5).  I love when he says "MUAH" loudly when we kiss, or "WEEEEE" when he goes down the slide.  I love watching his face as he tries to figure out his emotions.  How his little brow furrows when I say it's time to leave the park or how his face lights up when I walk into the room.  I love how enthusiastically he says "YEAH!" when I ask him if he wants to go outside and play, and when we are having a conversation and he says "Good Idea!".

I have a difficult time remembering what my life was like before Sam came into it.  I know I was happy, my husband and my family make me very happy, but I don't think I was fully satisfied.  Having Sam has given me something that I was trying to find for years.  Years of changing boyfriends, jobs and careers. Years of travelling and moving around.  Years of living in different houses, apartments & cities.  All the time searching...

I have found what I was looking for and his name is Sam.  I love you Little Man!  Happy Birthday.



Monday, 10 October 2011

Just who is in charge here?

It seems like just yesterday I spent 36 hours in labour to finally meet my son Sam.  In the blink of an eye, two years has flown by and his second birthday is tomorrow.

Not that I'm tooting my own horn... ok, I am tooting it just a bit (TOOT TOOT!), but I happen to think my husband and I are pretty decent parents.  Beside the odd accident here and there, Sam is growing up to be a happy, funny, polite, respectful, creative little boy (TOOT TOOT!).  We are far from perfect, however, and my two biggest issues, which I have admittedly been trying to ignore, have now come to the forefront.  Notice I said "my" issues.  Sam only has these issues because of me and I am the one that needs to fix them.  I've read lots of articles and books, and asked numerous people for advice.  However good my intentions are, my execution is definitely lacking.

Here is my first dilemma... when Sam turned one I said that we would get rid of the soother.  Well, his first birthday has obviously come and gone and we still allow him to use his soother for sleeping.  I have to say, Sam is very good about it, he puts his soother down in his crib before we get him out and we've been doing that for quite some time.  However, I've been noticing a fair number of older children walking around with soothers lately and I've been focusing on their teeth... crooked teeth.  I'm not trying to be judgemental, but this is something I do not want for Sam... crooked teeth.  So, for the past few months, I have been slowly tossing out the soothers and we are down to one at my house and one at each of the grandparents. 

I have been telling my inner circle that when Sam turns two, we will finally get rid of the soother.  I like to say these types of things out loud because then I have to hold myself accountable.  Normally this works for me, but as I sit in Sam's room waiting for him to fall asleep (we'll get to this issue in just a moment), I can hear him happily sucking away on his final remaining soother and I lose my nerve.  Who is the person in control here? 

Sam's second birthday is a mere day away and now I'm not sure what to do or how to do it.  Can you feel the panic set in?  Plan A was to have him throw it out himself, as many a parent has said can happen.  I've asked Sam numerous times over the past few weeks if he's ready to put "shushi" in the garbage and of course he says no... or rather "No Mommy, I need it." (sigh... he said need).   To my surprise and delight he actually said yes the other day and wanted to put it in the garbage himself!  Maybe this was going to be easier than I thought!!  YIPPEE!  We walked to the bathroom together and I opened the lid on the garbage for him, and then it happend.  He froze, "shushi" in hand, staring wide-eyed at the open garbage can.  I froze and before I could think of something positive and encouraging to say... he bolted...ran back to his room crying and put the soother in his crib.  "No Mommy, no garbage!  Shushi goes here!!" (inserting breaking heart here).  Geez, I am such a sucker.

So, Plan B is to cut a hole in it so it loses it's suction (also recommended my numerous parents).  Would be considered cruel on the eve of his birthday (insert arrow pointing to me, the wimp).  I have no back up soother so am I in for a long night?  Quite possibly.  Do I have the courage or don't I?  I know my husband would do it for me, but the last time we tried something like this, both Sam and I ended up in tears and Paul just got frustrated.  Poor guy.

This brings me to our second dilemma, which involves putting Sam to sleep, and actually goes hand-in-hand with the soother dilemma.  Is it smart to get rid of the soother when we're still having bed time issues? 

Allow me to explain.  From the time Sam was born, Paul and I decided to put him in his crib in his own room.  We also have a double bed in his room so when we were on our all night feeding schedule, I just slept in there so we wouldn't wake my husband.  Once Sam started eating infant cereal at 3.5 months, he would sleep through the night.  Sam continues to be a fantastic sleeper and my husband and I are extremely lucky (knocking on wood).  However, when we took a family trip to Italy this past summer, Sam slept with us in various hotel rooms for two full weeks. He was definitely suffering from seperation anxiety on that vacation, which has slowly gotten better over the past few months.  With one exception... since we have been back from Italy, he refuses to fall asleep by himself in his room.  He still sleeps in his crib and he's not trying to get out, but he will cry and cry and cry until he works himself into a complete dither.  To say I tried the "cry out" method would be a lie.  I have to be honest... I lasted less than 3 minutes.  I fully admit that I am the wimp here. While I am glad this method has worked for other people, I just can't fathom the thought (or sound) of my son crying himself to sleep... no matter how many glasses of wine I've had.

So, here I am, sitting on the double bed in my son's room, while he falls asleep in his crib.  I have put myself in a terrible position.  Sam now fully expects one of us, including the grandparents when they are Sammy-sitting, to sit and wait until he falls asleep.  I have created this "monster" of an issue and now I don't know how to fix it.  Some have suggested moving Sam to a toddler bed, but are we all ready for that?  On a positive note, this time spent waiting has allowed me to start writing my blog.  That's gotta count for something right?

So, with the big birthday looming... should I just take the plunge and shell-shock the poor kid into loosing both his soother and his crib?  Will I be able to stand my ground?  Stay tuned...

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one”
Jill Churchill


Friday, 7 October 2011

Getting Started

Well, I did it.  I took yet another leap of faith and started a blog.  I've been wanting to do this for over a year, but I have to admit, I'm a better talker than I am a writer, so be nice and please don't comment on bad grammar or jumbled thoughts... unless they are funny comments of course.
Frankly, I started this blog because I feel like I have a lot to say and I don't think that all my Facebook friends want to hear it all, cuz it's a lot.  I believe that there are probably a lot of people out there that may be having the same kind of day I am, or maybe they'll get a chuckle out of my many parenting and life mishaps.  This is going to be a place where I can write what I feel and not worry about Facebook backlash.  lol  Or so I hope.

So, I will start with a quick history on how my life has changed over the past 2 - 3 years and why I'm calling my blog Baby Steps.

I come from an amazing, loving family, and I admit, I was extremely spoiled and coddled... I still am actually (my dad still calls me "Mishy-Pooh").  So after college and working for 5 years as a legal secretary (borrrrinnnng), I decided to "take off" and try to figure out who I really was.  The following 7 years (4 spent in Mexico & 3 in Vancouver) were the best and worst I can imagine, but I learned so much about myself, people, and the person that I really want to be.

Fast forward a few more years, I moved back home to be closer to my parents and I am now married to an amazing man, living in a small town, with an 11 year old step-daughter Emily (who lives with her mom but we see her every day) and my son, Sam, who will be 2 on October 11th.  During this time, I quit my job in the travel industry (an industry I was in for over 15 years), got my real estate licence at the urging of my father, and started my own business with Arbonne.  I thought that all those years I was away "finding myself" would be the most interesting years of my life, but oh how I was WRONG!  My current life is waaaaaaaayyyyyy more interesting... but we'll get to that in another post.

Ciao for now!