Archive for the ‘just me’ Category

The Death of a Bedtime Buddy

When you have kids you sort of expect you’ll have a few years of sleepless nights but after the infant stage the novelty of waking up at night (for me at least) starts to wear off, quickly. My 4-year old hasn’t slept through the night since, well, forever. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the solid nights have been few and far between.

To try to appease my daughter I had given her a musical lamb that my mother-in-law had given my oldest daughter (she found it at some sale). My two older kids had no real interest in the lamb so it’s just sat on the shelf but my youngest daughter is more of a stereotypical child; she would play with toys they way manufacturers designed them to be played with (and a majority of other kids play with them). My older two were never like that as kids.

I gave the daughter the lamb, which she could wind herself, and she loved it. She would play it over and over until she fell asleep. The best part of course, no 1 a.m. wake-up call. I was feeling pretty good about this new routine so of course something had to go wrong.

Tonight as I’m getting my 4-year old into bed, I pulled out the lamb, ready for the start of an easy, solid night sleep. I tuck my daughter in, lamb resting in her arms. My daughter is in a defiant ‘I can do it’ stage so of course I didn’t even suggestion winding the lamb for her. I left to say goodnight to my son and check on my oldest daughter only to hear wailing down the hall. My 4-year old was upset that she couldn’t wind up her lamb. I tried and it wouldn’t wind either. And it wouldn’t play. I tried to find something else to entertain her but it didn’t matter, it wasn’t her lamb buddy. I sat with her as she tried to settle, sniffling and sighing between tears.

The lesson I should have walked away with: maybe teaching my daughter to rely on a toy to help her sleep isn’t the best option.

The lesson I ended up walking away with: I need to buy my daughter a new musical lamb.

Hey, if something works for you, why change it (if only the lamb still worked).

The Best Vacation and Why

The memories of our recent visit to Hawaii still linger in my mind (excluding the disappointing start with United Airlines). I’m sure most people would agree that any vacation is a good vacation but a good vacation isn’t necessarily the best. As a family we’ve taken quite a few vacations but my husband and I both agree that this last trip was by far our best.

But what makes this trip so much better than our last trips? What should we plan next time to ensure we have one of the best family vacations? Here’s what worked for us:

Time and Timing
We were away on vacation for about 10 days, much longer than our regular vacations. I know with school schedules and work demands, taking an extended vacation can be difficult but if you can swing it, do. Flying to Hawaii took us 15-hours, 3 planes and a 5-hour timezone change. It took the family almost 2 days to really get settled into vacation mode, including adjusting from jet lag and loosing all the stresses of work and home behind. And you know prior to a vacation ending your mind will already start thinking ahead to what has to be accomplished when you get home. An extended vacation ensures you still get quality vacation time after these adjustment days. There’s nothing worse than going away for a week and just getting settled in when you have to head home.

We also like to travel on non-peak times. This usually means during school time but it also means less crowds (and usually less heat). Visiting Hawaii at the end of January, also their winter, is a low season but the weather was perfect, sunny yet not too hot. It can also be their rainy season but we were fortunate and didn’t get hit with one bad weather day; that’s saying a lot for a 10 day trip.

Location, Location, Location
Well you can’t go wrong with visiting Hawaii in general I’m assuming. We had never been before so we just stumbled upon the Island of O’ahu, Waikiki specifically. Most people commented on how we should have planned our trip to the Island of Maui, that Waikiki was a little too touristy. But for a first time visitor I think Waikiki is perfect; it offered a nice transition from the big city to a taste of paradise. Perhaps another time will get a chance to visit Maui but I don’t regret our Waikiki visit at all.

Our hotel, the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, offered both great access to Waikiki Beach as well as the bustling atmosphere of Waikiki itself. The Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach is located right on Waikiki Beach. We could walk off the elevator right out to the sand. And out the front door of the hotel was Waikiki’s main street, with restaurants and shops and entertaining street life. It was wonderful.

The People
Of course the people in our hotel were amazing, from the front desk to the cleaning and maintenance staff. They always had a smile on their face and a pleasant greeting. Matt, the gentleman who taught the cultural activities at the hotel, remember my kids and was so helpful and friendly; Ryan, our server at Hula Grill, remembered what the kids ordered and always made sure we were happy. But it wasn’t just the hotel staff; cab drivers, police offers walking the streets, shop keepers, everyone seemed very pleasant and happy to be there.

This was our first trip to Hawaii but I think after our amazing experience it won’t be our last. Be sure to visit the Family Travel section on EverythingMom over the next few days as I will be sharing more detailed reviews on the hotel, some of the restaurants we enjoyed as well as activities while visiting O’ahu.

Vacation Frowns Brought to You by United Airlines

The bags were packed. Boarding passes printed. Kids hyped about heading to Hawaii for the first time. All in all this was turning out to be a great vacation.

I’ll admit I’m not a frequent flyer. Most of my travel is vacation oriented with my family. I had never flown with United Airlines before either but we paid to upgrade to their Economy Plus seats for more leg room and to ensure we were all sitting together (we were travelling with three kids 8 and under). We couldn’t get a non-stop flight to Honolulu from Buffalo, the city we started our journey from, but we were able to book a flight with just one stopover in Chicago. When you’re traveling with kids in tow, the least amount of stopovers is ideal.

The 9-hour second length of our trip would be long but fortunately the 777 plane we were scheduled to fly was equipped with a centre row of 5 seats; I was able to book the whole family to sit together in one row, our own row. We’ve never been able to do that before so I was sort of looking forward to that part of the trip.

Then we arrived at the airport and smiles turned into frowns thanks to United Airlines.

When we arrived early for our 8 a.m. flight, we were told it would be delayed by an hour and half. This of course meant our initial connecting flight, tight but doable in an hour, would be missed. We were rerouted. Now instead of it being a 12-hour flight with a short, single stopover in Chicago, we were now head for a 15-hour journey consisting of a stopover in both Chicago and Las Angeles.

I know what you’re thinking, delays happen when traveling. And sure, if there had been bad weather, such as a snowstorm, I couldn’t fault the airline over that; they have no control over the weather. But snow wasn’t the issue; weather wasn’t the issue. It seems our plane was delayed arriving the night before. Safety regulations require that the crew receive a specific amount of rest before their next flight. This meant that they wouldn’t be able to fly out as originally planned. I have no issue with the regulation. I know how draining flying ca be as a passenger let alone someone who’s flying the plane. No, the issue I have is that United Airlines didn’t schedule another crew. By delaying the initial flight to Chicago, United Airlines inconvenienced hundreds of passengers, their customers. Connections would be missed, flights rerouted; the plane itself, if scheduled for a follow-up flight, would be delayed affecting a whole other set of passengers. It was a ripple effect.

How hard would it have been to schedule a new crew, inconvenience their employees not their customers? Perhaps I’m being naive but if their pilot became sick the night before would they just postpone or cancel all that pilot’s flights for the next day? I’m guessing not. They would have brought a new pilot on so what makes this case different?

Now on the remaining two legs of our trip we would have to negotiate with gate staff and other passengers to ensure we could not only get our Economy Plus seats we paid for but also ensure we could sit together as a family, or at the very least have each child sitting with at least one parent.

To make matters worse, just as we were getting ready to pull away from the docking platform the pilot announced that the tractor used to pull the plane out wasn’t working and they needed to get a new one. Plus the plane needed to be de-iced. This would mean an additional delay of 20-minutes. Now you would think that United Airlines, knowing that their customers already weren’t happy with the delay, would make every effort to ensure there were no further delays on this flight. Now there was concern that our already rescheduled flights would have to be rescheduled, again.

Thankfully our two stopovers were short and since the planes were domestic we didn’t need to worry about checking in again or collecting our bags. The gate attendants were very helpful in ensuring that each child was sitting with a parent. The rest of the trip went without any delays or complications. The extra delay pushed us from an afternoon arrival into an evening one. This made for very tired and cranky kids but at least we were there on the same day and our vacation was about to start.

We head home on United Airlines with the intention of flying with one stopover and sitting together. Hopefully our return journey will go much smoother, ending on a positive note.

Now on the remaining two legs of our trip we would have to negotiate gate staff and other passengers to ensure we could not only get our Economy Plus seats we paid for but also ensure we could sit together as a family, or at the very least have each child sitting with at least one parent.

This thought still fresh in my mind, the pilot made an announcement just as we were preparing to pull away from the docking platform. Now you would think that United Airlines, knowing that their customers already weren’t happy with the delay, would make every effort to ensure there were no further delays on this flight. I guess they forgot this when they announced there would be an additional 20-minute delay due to equipment malfunction (the tractor that pulls the plane away from the docking station wasn’t working) and de-icing. Now there was concern that our already rescheduled flights would have to be rescheduled, again.

Although our vacation started with stress and frowns and yes it could have gotten off on

Christmas Day: 12 Hour Photo Essay

We had great fun participating in Andrea‘s 25 Days of Christmas blog post. We sailed with Santa and ate with him too, did crafts and puzzles, even went to the symphony and many other things, some of which I just never got around to writing about. Instead of focusing on work and general household tasks, we actually took time to enjoy the days leading up to Christmas. I would definatly do it again.

Another activity Andrea did this year was create a photo essay of Christmas Day, capturing 12-hours of Christmas, one photo each hour, giving you a peek into what Christmas was like in her house. Christmas always seems to be over in a flash so what a great way to capture it all: the frenzy, the calm, the chaos. So I did the same thing, capturing one photo every hour on my iPhone starting at 7:12 a.m. and ending at 8:12 p.m.

Here’s a peek into our Christmas Day.

7:12 a.m. Bedroom Surprise, Puffle Gifts from Santa

8:12 a.m. The Token LOUD Gift from Relatives

9:12 a.m. Countdown Clock Christmas Greeting

10:12 a.m. Disney Princess Overdose

11:12 a.m. Chocolate and TV for Breakfast

12:12 p.m. Army Men Protect the Santa Train

1:12 p.m. Merry Christmas Greetings with Grandma via Skype

2:12 p.m. Enroute to Visit Nana and Gramps

3:12 p.m. Quality Street Chocolate just for ME

4:12 p.m. Driving Back Home

5:12 p.m. Tiki Inspired Rum and Eggnog

6:12 p.m. Turkey Dinner

7:12 p.m. What’s Left after Christmas Fun

8:12 p.m. Relaxing with a Christmas Vacation Moose Glass

I sort of thought I’d end up with a lot of photos of us sitting around but our day was actually pretty busy. I’m looking forward to enjoying this week and not doing too much. How was your Christmas?

25 Days of Christmas: Day 11 – The Not-So-Merry Rainforest Cafe Santa Breakfast

Breakfast with Santa is one of those traditions we started when my youngest was born. We use to go to IKEA for their breakfast but then we heard that Santa was visiting the Rainforest Cafe for breakfast. My kids love visiting the Rainforest Cafe, we even visited at the beginning of the month for my 4-year old’s birthday, so we had to book as part of our 25 Days of Christmas.

Breakfast started at 8:00 a.m. which meant getting everyone up early on Saturday, but some how going to see Santa was all the motivation they needed. At least having breakfast so early meant we could actually get a parking spot at Yorkdale in December.

When we arrived there was already a fairly long line outside the restaurant but the kids were easily entertained by a poor shopkeeper who was cleaning the shelves in the store’s window display.

We were taken to our seat but given no instruction about what to do or expect that morning. After looking around we found there were two buffet tables so we decided to grab our breakfast before things got too busy. When we normally eat at Rainforest Cafe the food offered on the main menu isn’t bad, I’m partial to their coconut shrimp, but their kids meals have always been poor. Even how they present them on the plate is disappointing, like someone just dumped the items from a microwave bag. The buffet was along the same lines: scrambled eggs, bacon, french toast strips (which were really more like deep-fried doughnut sticks), hash browns (those preformed shapes found in fast food restaurants) and pancakes so tough you could probably bounce them on the floor. The saving grace is they did offer little cereal boxes and apples.

Eventually our waiter came around to ask for our drink orders. It seems since we were already eating poorly the Rainforest Cafe wanted us to drink poorly too. You could have a Coca-Cola product or a small glass (as in shooter size) of apple juice. Milk you ask? Sure if you wanted to pay for it.

As we sat and ate the restaurant got busier, more tables filled. An hour into the breakfast (which was scheduled to run from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.) there was still no sign of Santa or Cha Cha (the Rainforst Cafe frog). I did start to notice a long line of people winding their way around the tables where people were eating. This couldn’t be people lining up for the buffet. Curious I walked to the front of the line to find a roped off area with two chairs. Turns out this is where Santa and his elf helper were going to sit. Of course no one told us we would have to line-up. Past Santa breakfasts we’ve been given a number and went up when we were called. Even the Santa Cruise we did last weekend we were given a group. When the group was called we could go and stand in a small line. That gave us the rest of the cruise to enjoy activities. At the Rainforest Santa Breakfast I was expected to rush through my food so I could stand in line and wait to see Santa like in the mall. And since I wasn’t told this is what we were suppose to do, the line was far too long for us to wait in.

We paid our bill (almost $60 Cdn) and left.

Sadly what should have been a fun way to celebrate the Christmas season turned into giant frustrating and disappointing morning. Even the cache of meeting Santa at the Rainforest Cafe couldn’t save this event. I think this is a great idea but the Rainforest Cafe could learn a thing or two from other successfully run Santa Breakfasts:

  • Better Communication from the Staff. Let guests know what to expect and when. People may be aware that it’s a buffet but the hostess should reiterate this, point out where the buffet tables are and invite guests to start when they’re ready or wait for their waiter, whatever the process is. Also, the kids are here not for the food but for Santa so maybe letting them know when to expect him.
  • Better Food or Price Structure. Just because a Santa Breakfast is aimed at kids doesn’t mean you should not think much about the food you’re serving. Try making fresh home fries instead of freezer hash browns. How about some whole wheat toast. If you must use a pancake mix, use one that requires you to add milk and eggs; the difference will be incredible. And if you do want to serve cheap, freezer food, then don’t charge me $11.99 Cdn ($6.99 Cdn). The food at IKEA’s Santa Breakfast is pretty low-end but at least I’m only paying $5 Cdn for each person, adults and child alike.
  • Better Organization for Santa and Cha Cha visit. Assign guests a number or group for their Santa visit. This ensures other patron’s aren’t bugged by families lining up all around their table (who can enjoy breakfast with their family when your table is surrounded by strangers). This also means guests can enjoy their breakfast and not be in a panic to shovel their food down so they don’t have to wait in a long line-up for Santa. And to be honest, if I’m paying $60 for the privilege to eat and meet with Santa, I don’t expect an hour-long line-up. There also didn’t seem to be any structure to the lines. Cha Cha the frog just seemed to be bombarded by guests with no staff to assist and the group of people made it difficult to get around the restaurant.
  • Better Inclusion of Santa at Breakfast. As I mentioned earlier, the kids are here to see Santa (or Cha Cha), the breakfast is secondary. The hostess or waiter made no indication as to where Santa was or when he would appear. When Santa finally emerged, halfway through the breakfast, he made a bee-line for his seat. There was no big announcement or grand entrance to let kids know. Wouldn’t you want to get kids excited that Santa has arrived. Santa didn’t seem to greet anyone or be happy to be there. Perhaps Santa could walk around and just say hi to people, toss out a ‘HO HO HO’, seem enthusiastic to be there, then go to his seat.

Will the Rainforest Cafe take into consideration any of these points to improve their Santa Breakfast next year? Probably not. But it also means we won’t be back next year either. And sadly the whole Santa Breakfast has sort of turned me off the Rainforest Cafe for a bit too.

How are you celebrating the Christmas season with your family? See what we’ve been up to for our 25 Days of Christmas.

Love My Daughter’s Writing Mind: A Landscape Poem

I was visiting my eight-year old daughter’s teacher one morning. She was giving me an update on how she was progressing in grade three. No surprise she’s following my academic footsteps, doing well in math and sort of sucking in spelling. That’s my life story. But I was excited to discover her love of language too. I always knew my daughter had a thing with words, even when she was younger. Her teacher showed me a project she had the class work on recently. They had to create a landscape mosaic and then write a descriptive poem about it.

I love the picture but many of the kids did similar paintings. It’s obvious they were given direction on the style to paint. It’s still a wonderful painting. What really made my jaw drop was the descriptive poem she wrote to accompany her painting

Rough, jagged and empty. My heart sinks to my toes. No friends nor company only the sun and snow. I am attached to my neighbours like an apple is attached to its nurturing mother. The mountains beside me tease me because I am the only one who has a flat head.

The water is a navy blue diamond with blotches of emerald-green. The sun tries to evaporate it like an African desert. But the water is stronger. The water is a thick sheet of glass. Still…seaweed almost frozen to death sits on the bottom of the water.

The land is pink like a pink popsicle and emerald like a gem stone. Together they look like watermelon. They are very dry because all of their juice has made a very cold river. It’s seeds are so cold they were frozen into snow.

The moon is dark chocolate. whatever it sees it turns it into whatever chocolate flavour it wants, just like Medusa, except she changes objects into stone.

The snowflakes twinkle, twirl and shine in the moonlight. They make not a sound, nor a peep, but a soft landing. The snowflakes sparkle and shine in the night. The mountain just pricked one like a spinning wheel.

Part of my reaction is that of a proud mom. The other part is that of someone who enjoys language and seeing my daughter use it this way, reading her words, gives me goose bumps.

The Santa Claus Parade Favourites

Last Sunday we went to our local Santa Claus Parade, which just happens to be the biggest in the country. My husband and I have gone to the parade together almost 20-years (only the last 8-years have been with kids). It’s a different feeling seeing the parade with kids in tow. We sang Christmas songs, handed in letters to Santa, caught candy being tossed out by crazy clowns and enjoyed the somewhat commercialized floats.

When I go to the parade, the bands are my favourite, especially a band with bagpipes. Have I told you my deep down desire to learn to play the pipes? That’s a whole other post. For the kids, seeing the floats is their favourite. My kids enjoyed all the floats but it was obvious what their favourites were.

No surprise that my 3-year old went crazy for both the Tangled and Barbie A Fashion Fairytale floats. You may remember we had a chance to see the first Canadian screening of the Tangled move before it was released in theatres and the Barbie a Fashion Fairytale before it came out on DVD. You can imagine her excitement seeing her two favourite characters appearing before her, super-sized. She was thrilled beyond belief.

My son almost fell on the people in front of us he was so excited seeing the Lego float. My son loves Lego. Actually love isn’t nearly strong enough, more like obsessed. And it was a great float. Seeing the larger-than-life characters gave them a sense that they were indeed real, not just a toy. Of course after this float my son wanted to get home and watch the Lego movie The Adventures of Clutch Powers. I actually hope they bring out more Lego movies; even I enjoyed that film.

My oldest daughter was excited to see the Little Big Planet 2 float, though I didn’t get any photos of it. We’re a bit of a gaming family and that’s her game of choice. I liked seeing the Potato Heads. I missed them when I was at BlogHer in New York City but they found me here in Toronto not too long after my return.

But no parade would be complete without the jolly man himself, Santa. I love that both kids and adults alike, waved and wished Santa a Merry Christmas. And now that Santa has arrived, it’s now time for me to get ready for the holidays. Deck the halls and drink some eggnog, fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la!

The Ghosts Woke Me Up

I’m my own worst enemy. I haven’t had a full nights sleep in, uh, eight years. That’s a long time to be sleep deprived. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a night owl. Knowing that one of my kids will keep me from sleeping that night I really should go to bed early but my routine bedtime seems to be around midnight.

I think my mind is conditioned to wake in the middle of the night now or 3 a.m. in the morning as was the case last night. My 3-year old who usually comes in to see me at that time was sound asleep in her bed, yet here I was awake. Or at least half awake. Maybe it was because I was only half awake, but I swear I heard something moving out in the hallway. I strained my ears (and eyes) a little to see if it was a small child shuffling down the hall or the cats chasing dust bunnies. Nothing. Actually the sound seemed to stop as I tried to determine what was making it. I would start to drift off and the sound would start again. This time I sat up (because we all now how much better our hearing is when you’re sitting). It didn’t help that my husband, who was sound asleep beside me, seemed to be snoring each time the sound happened making it impossible to determine what was causing this noise. It seems the laser beams in my eyes directly into his brain to get him to be quiet weren’t working.

Of course now that I figured out that it wasn’t a child or the cats my mind started filling with all sorts of other possibilities. I mean we live in an old house, built in a time when people were born…and died in their homes. I’m really not a big believer in ghosts but that didn’t stop my mind from freaking me out with thoughts.

So now I had to figure out this sound or I would be up all night imagining what it could be. I was wide awake now. I got out of bed and walked down the hall and waited. Was it rustling paper? Was there a mouse in the hall closet? Was that a faint outline of a small shadow person at the end of the hall? I stood at one end, straining both ears and eyes. Was that…rain? Heavy rain was hitting the back roof. It sounded unlike any rain I had heard before but it was indeed rain.

With my discovery made I was starting to feel tired again. I went back to bed. I closed my eyes. I started to drift back to sleep.

Then my 8-year old woke me up saying she couldn’t sleep. She heard a strange noise outside her room. Good thing my body is use to being woken up in the middle of the night.

Top Ten Tuesday: Making it a Family Christmas

I realize it’s been awhile since I’ve participated in Oh Amanda‘s Top Ten Tuesday blog meme but the holiday season is fast approaching and if anything called for a list it’s the holidays. Yesterday I talked about my mixed feelings about Christmas. I love this holiday, it’s actually my favourite, but I find I get so wrapped up in other things that I really miss the holiday lead-up. The next thing I know Christmas Day is here and over before I’ve really had a chance to enjoy it.

This year I want it to be different. This year I want to ensure I enjoy every moment of this wonderful season, spend time doing festive things with my family. I think Quiet Fish‘s Andrea Tompkins might have just the solution to keep me focused. She’s starting up another year of 25 Days of Christmas. The idea is to create an advent type calendar for the 25 days leading up to and including Christmas. Each day will consist of an activity to do as a family and they need to be fun activities (getting the house ready and doing Christmas shopping don’t count). I thought this was a wonderful idea and I’m so stoked about participating.

I’ve already talked to my kids about what they would like to do together to celebrate Christmas. So for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday post I’m listing 10 Christmas Activities to Enjoy as a Family:

  1. Pop some corn and have a Christmas movie marathon. From Elf to Nester the Long Eared Donkey and everything in between, we will set aside a day to just sit and watch Christmas movie after Christmas movie.
  2. Popcorn strings and paper chains. I’ve never made popcorn strings so this year we’re going to set some time aside to do just that. Hopefully we’ll get more popcorn on the string than in our mouths but I guess that’s half the fun. And my 3-year old will love making her little finger friendly paper chains.
  3. Fireplace and hot chocolate. We have a wood burning fireplace in the living room and I love it. Love the sound and smell of crackling wood. With a warm cup of hot chocolate in hand there’s nothing better than sitting around and just enjoying that feeling.
  4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas game. We have a huge game cupboard and one game only gets played during the holiday season, the How the Grinch Stole Christmas board games. Kids get to collect presents from Grinchy Santa and give them back to the Whos.
  5. Cookies to bake (and eat). I love baking for the holidays but usually I don’t have time or I end up doing at night after the kids have gone to bed just to get it done. But this year we’ll set aside some time after school to make and decorate cookies. And then of course there will have to be samples to try.
  6. Christmas Train. Not far from our house is a CP train line and the Christmas Train, traveling cross-country, passes through one night. The cars are all decked out in lights and when it stops ‘Santa’ appears singing some rockin’ tunes. We stumbled upon this last year and hope to continue the tradition this year.
  7. Snowflakes, candy canes and other crafts. The kids LOVE making crafts and the holiday season is perfect for this. Snowflakes are easy to make and gives them something to decorate their windows. Candy Cane crafts are easy to make too with coloured pipe cleaners. Basically sitting down and doing pictures and crafts and nothing else for an afternoon.
  8. Singing Christmas carols. We have a piano in our living room. Every time Christmas arrives I wish I could play it but that won’t stop us from singing Christmas carols. All of my kids love to sing and each morning at school they sing hymns and love it. Even without a piano we can still have fun singing some of our favourites (plus it will give us all good practice for carols at Christmas Eve mass).
  9. Neighbourhood lights. I love seeing the houses in our neighbourhood and other neighbourhoods putting up displays of lights and scenes for Christmas. We love to go for a walk around and sometimes even pile in the car and checkout other neighbourhoods.
  10. Pictures with Santa. We have a spot on our living room wall that consists of the kids and Santa over the years. I love seeing the kids at the different stages in their lives. And we usually go to different Santa’s every year, sometimes even out of the city or out of the country.

These are just a few of the things my kids want to do with the family to enjoy this Christmas season together. I’m sure we’ll be able to think of 15 other great ideas. And thanks to Andrea for the idea. This year is shaping up to be a Christmas season I will actually enjoy as it’s meant to be, spending time with my family, and for that I am grateful.

What’s your favourite Christmas activity to do as a family?

The Cycle of Self Doubt and Personal Fears in All of Us

When I was in my teens I was a nervous person, unsure of what my talents were, lacking in confidence. I don’t think that made me unusual but it did make for stressful high school years.

Now in my forties I thought those awkward days were behind me. I somehow envisioned that at this stage all those life experiences I had gone through, like school and finding a career and building a family, would give me more confidence and security in who I am. But I still breakout into heart palpitations when invited to a social event. I don’t take risks or chances in my professional life. I don’t give my opinion in discussions or offer to participate in round tables or presentations. I mean, who am I to share my knowledge and expertise or rather, what knowledge and expertise can I share that hasn’t already been covered.

Why am I scared?

What sort of example am I sending to my kids when I won’t take the chances I’m encouraging them to take?

But some recent reading has me doing a little thinking, specially Erica‘s recent Yummy Mummy Club post  A Weekend for Self Esteem with a Twist and Michelle‘s Mom Esteem journey on EverythingMom. These two woman are amazing. I have had the privilege of meeting and working with both of them. They are the two strongest, influential, outgoing and supportive woman I know and are great role models for women like me. So I was amazed to read their posts, admitting to everyone that they too have inner fears and self-doubt.

A revelation: I’m not the only one with doubts and insecurities. Actually that’s not really a revelation; I sort of guessed I’m not the only one feeling this way. What really stuck with me reading these posts is that even those people who you think have it all under control and figured out, those people sometimes feel the same insecurities I feel. Maybe not around the same issues but they feel them none the less. Perhaps I’m going about this doubt issue the wrong way. I will never be the outgoing, extrovert that I would like to be, but that doesn’t mean I have to beat myself up over it. It’s okay to have these doubts and fears, everyone does. The trick is not letting them take over your life, limit your experiences and potential. Admit to your fear and deal with it, work around it, face it.

These insecurities, these doubts, like it or not, are apart of my character; they make me who I am. I need to stop wanting to change that. Instead I need to accept that’s apart of me, accept that there are things I won’t be comfortable doing but at the same time try things that I’m uncomfortable doing. Sometimes this discomfort and insecurity is simply based on the unknown and if I don’t try then these areas will always be unknown, they will always be uncomfortable. As I have discovered from reading Erica and Michelle, taking risks is scary as hell but usually the end result is rewarding.

So I won’t be the belle of the ball but at least when I’m in a room with other women I can be sure I’m not the only one with heart palpitations.