Archive for the ‘working from home’ Category

So It’s Official, I Have a New Job

Okay, so maybe NEW isn’t the correct word. I’m still working with EverythingMom.com but my role has evolved. Since I started working for the online company in 2009, I have been a big supporter of everything the site and the company and the founder, Michelle Davies, has stood for. I believe EverythingMom offers its members, writers, readers and marketers a great environment to connect and learn and share. It’s because of my belief in the company and Michelle that I became a partner in 2010, albeit a silent one.

With the new relaunch of content, site design and ad network, my role as Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief has been made public. I will still be overseeing editorial content on the site but as a partner I’ll also be working with Michelle to carry the site forward into a prosperous future. What a thrill to be able to be part of a company that is supportive of its community, its contributors and staff, as well as the world around it.

Here’s to a fun and fulfilling 2011.

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5 Ways Your Kid’s Toys Keep You Fit

I know that adding exercise to your daily routine is a great way to keep healthy and energized and believe me, with 3 kids I need all the energy I can get. Starting a routine is easy, especially at the start of the new year; keeping a fitness routine can be harder. It doesn’t help that I work from home and have my 4-year old with me at home for half the morning. I actually thought having my kids start school would free-up my time but the whole half-day kindergarten is turning out to be more inconvenient than I thought. Now I wouldn’t change that but that’s another post.

All said and done, my situation isn’t going to change. At first I would bemoan not having time to do my workout but the more I thought about it the more I realized I’ve been working out all this time. If you have kids, you probably are too.

So here are 5 Ways Your Kid’s Toys Keep You Fit:

  1. Video Games. It may seem like 30-minutes of saving the alliance from the dark forces but if you’re like me and really get into playing videos games (especially on the Wii or Xbox Kinect) you’d be surprised how much of a sweat you can work-up. Bonus: you’re kids might even think you’re kinda cool. Kinda.
  2. Obstacle Course. My 6-year old son loves his hot wheels cars. He received a track extension set at Christmas which means he can make his own track with loops and jumps. Forget the standard loop with a hoop jump at the end, my son loves to make tracks that go over chairs, under book tunnels, around stuffies, all the way down the hallway on the second floor. Creative right? Sure, unless your office is on the third floor and the courier arrives and you have to dash and jump and swerve down the hall and stairs without killing yourself or ruining the track.
  3. Game Cupboard. I thought I was being smart, setting up our sideboard as a family game cupboard. The idea was that kids could easily pull out a game to play together or on their own to use right on the dining room table. This would cut-down on the requests for me to pull out a game and tidy them up. In theory this is great if you only have a few games but over the years we have amassed quiet a large collection. It’s like a puzzle to try to get something out of there and fit it back in, which means I end up back into the routine of digging out and putting away the games. Who wants to play a game after 20-minutes of digging out from the back of the Jenga game cupboard?
  4. Clean-up Chase. My 6 and 8-year old are pretty good at tidying up after playing with their toys. My 4-year old, however, is a work in progress. This usually involves me running around, looking under beds, in closets, behind doors, to find my hiding 4-year old. I think she takes the expression ‘out of sight, out of mind’ a little too literally when it comes to putting her toys away.
  5. The Clean-Up. Like I said in point four, my older two kids are pretty good at tidying up but no one’s perfect. This means there are books in the bathroom, boats and plastic sharks in the tub, pencil crayons and play dough pieces under the table and Lego everywhere. You can get a good workout slipping on, stepping over, bending down to pick-up, sorting out, reshelving these items all over the house.

Even if your kids are super tidy or don’t have toys, trying taking them grocery shopping. A trip to the grocery store can be a workout on its own (with or without kids). If you’re looking for more of a structured workout, checkout these hi-tech options on EverythingMom.

So next time you’re picking up the umpteenth piece of Lego buried in the shag carpet, remind yourself that this is for your own good, that you’re giving your body a workout so you can be around for years and years (and years) to come and your children are still living in your basement, unemployed. Hmm, maybe I’ll rethink this workout craze.

Summer Camp makes Me Sad

This is a big summer in our house this year. Yesterday we took our oldest 8-year-old daughter to the bus drop-off for camp. She’s off to sleep away camp for the week, 7 days! This isn’t the first time my daughter has been away from home; she did go away for a weekend with her Brownie troop in May (Mother’s Day weekend I might add). I had some difficulty dealing with that too. But this camp, she’ll be away for a whole week, at a camp, where she doesn’t know anyone.

The days leading up to camp I helped my daughter label and pack everything. I was trying to stay upbeat and excited for her. I mean this is exciting stuff, going away to sleep in a cabin, rock climbing, camp fires, lake swimming. It all sounded great. It would be great. I told her it was okay to be nervous or a little scared about a new adventure, other girls would be experiencing the same feelings. Her response to me was ‘Nervous? I’m not nervous. I wish I was already there.’ I’m glad she’s not scared but I must admit the response wasn’t one I was ready to hear.

Even when we took her to the bus (we could drive her right to camp but she insisted on riding the bus and singing songs and making friends right away), she was eager to say goodbye and find her seat. It was us, her parents, who kept going on and off the bus to give her that one last kiss, again and again. We waited in the hot sun until the bus pulled away and watched it enter the highway.

I’m sure she’ll be fine. She’s a lot like her dad in that she likes meeting new people. My oldest daughter has always had the gift of finding people who are shy or new or nervous and drawing them in, making them feel at ease and comfortable. I mean the whole bus was practically empty and where does she choose to sit, right beside another first time camp girl. Before the bus had even pulled out of the parking lot the two girls were absorbed in my daughter’s Worst Case Scenario Book: The Weird Edition.

This is my daughter’s first real summer camp experience; this is our first real summer camp experience. I don’t think it’s uncommon for any parent to wish the best for their children. Last night, with tears in my eyes, I laid in bed thinking about my daughter, hoping she would have cabin mates she would enjoy hanging out with, that she wouldn’t be excluded or encounter any bullies, that she would enjoy every aspect of every camp day from when she wakes up to when she closes her eyes.

I’m sure when we pick her up next Saturday she’ll be disapointed to leave camp but will be brimming with stories.

As if dealing with my oldest daughter being away for a week wasn’t enough, my 5-year-old and 3-year-old started day camp today. My son is moving into the big kid camp and he’s thrilled. He’s always been very independent; even as a baby he slept on his own at 2 months and enjoyed it that way. It was no surprise to see him say goodbye and march into camp on his own, not a worry or care.

Then it was time for my youngest, my baby, to go to her camp. This is the first year the city has increased the camp hours for the 3 to 5 year old group. It use to be a half-day but now it’s a full day. My 3-year-old has spent all her time with me, no preschool, no other programs with the exception of swimming class. I’ve always thought of my youngest to be more like me, shy and introverted. If anyone would have issues with separating from me, trying new things, it would be my youngest. But she proved me wrong today. She was quick to say goodbye and head up the ramp to her camp. There was no running back for a last minute hug and kiss, no tears, not fighting and pleading for me to come in with her or stay for just a little bit. Nope, she’s been looking forward to this and she was gone.

As I walked home, alone, I couldn’t help but start crying. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for my kids to experience summer camp. I’m thrilled that they are adventerous and comfortable with themselves to take these steps without me. So why am I so sad? Why am I crying right now as I write this? And I’m not a big crier (though I did cry when my son graduated from Kindergarten this year and even when I watched and reviewed the new Toy Story 3 movie).

Working from home it’s kind of nice to not have the fightening in the next room or to run to the school for lunch pick-up. But it’s also so quiet that I’m having a hard time concentrating. I miss hearing their voices, even if it’s a dispute over Lego. All this independence my kids are showing is great and is a sign that they’re growing up. I guess I’m just not ready for that yet. So bear with me if I breakout into uncontrollable tears this summer. At least I’ll get lots of practice in before my 3-year-old starts school for the first time this Fall.

Grocery Store Workout

Squeezing a workout into my day can be hard at the best of times, but when grocery day comes along, it’s next to impossible. Or so I thought.

On a recent trip to the grocery store with my 3-year-old I quickly discovered how I had incorporated a workout into our trip without even realizing it. A little fine tuning and now I have The Grocery Store Workout. And because I’m the sharing type, I’m going to let you in on my fabulous new routine, absolutely free (did that sound infomercial-y enough).

THE GROCERY STORE WORKOUT

Dis-Organize Your List – If you’re the type to make a grocery list, you probably try to group everything into sections: fruits and vegetables, dairy, bread, meat, frozen, other, etc. The first step to the Grocery Store Workout is to stop being so organized. Instead write your list randomly and stick to it. So you start with milk (have you ever noticed this is usually the product furthest from the door), then walk all the way back to get a bag of oranges, then over to grab some frozen carrots and back to get bread…You see where I’m going, all over the place. You’ll get quite the workout just walking back and forth through the store.

Grab the Overstock – You know all stores have overstock shelves. These are usually the top shelves where extra product is stored for quick reshelving. Forget picking up the easily accessible chicken broth in front of you. Instead reach up, way up, to the overstock shelf to get the same product. Climbing up the shelves is a bonus workout.

Use the child – When I go shopping I usually have my 3-year-old in tow (I plan my trip when my two oldest are in school for obvious reasons). Like most preschoolers, my daughter is going through her defiant stage, better known as the ‘whatever mom wants me to do, I’ll do the opposite’ stage. I know, cute right? We usually start the trip with her wanting to walk and help, then she gets tired and wants to sit in the cart only to revert back to walking 5-minutes later. You would be amazed at how heavy a 3-year-old is, especially when you’re trying to wrestle her in and out of those shopping cart seats. Forget cursing under your breath when your child asks to get out of or in the cart for the tenth time. Instead, imagine the great upper arm workout you’re getting.

Push the cart – You know there’s a cart in that stack of carts with a defective wheel. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll find  it without even looking. These carts are great to use as part of your workout since they always seem to pull to the left or right. It takes a great effort to keep your cart from ramming into the little old lady shuffling in front of you or the giant glass pickle bottle display on the corner of the aisle.

Last minute items – The best part of the Grocery Store Workout is the last minute item sprint. These are the items that, as you finish unloading the cart at the checkout, you realize you forgot to pick-up and you MUST have them (potato chips tend to fall in this category). This is where you make a mad dash through the store, dodging other shoppers, to get your missing item(s). This works best if you think about the disapproving looks you will get from the cashier and other customers should you take too long and keep them all waiting.

Follow this what should be a twenty-minute but more like an hour workout and you won’t feel bad about missing the gym or not getting to your workout video that day. Remember, you bought chips when you were out right? A perfect way to cool down. And eat one, breath out, eat two, breath out.

Happy Shopping!

If it’s in print, it’s official. Right?

Okay, it’s not news that I’ve been working with Michelle at EverythingMom. I started working as the Review Editor last fall and have been really enjoying the work (and trying out new things and sharing my opinion, of course). At the start of the new year I was very fortunate to offered a more integrated role with EverythingMom as the Managing Editor of the site. This means I get a say in what sort of content appears on the site and when. I also love working with companies and public relation firms getting our members new products to try. Michelle made the announcement about my addition when it was official (I still blush when I read it) and I’m listed on the team page, but everything seems so solid when these little guys arrived. And boy am I excited!

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And so that was 2009

2010 is here and I’m excited but at the same time I can’t help but look back over the past year. I started this blog last Spring because I thought this would be a year of change and I wanted to record it. The year didn’t bring quite the change I was looking for but it did consist of a few (both big and little) important events.

We celebrated a few birthdays

My oldest daughter turned seven and I hosted my first kids birthday party. My middle child turned five and we surprised him (and everyone) with a trip to Disney World. My husband actually kept a secret and surprised me for my birthday (Disneyland‘s Haunted Mansion and I celebrated our 4oth birthday together). We even made a trip to Disney World just after my youngest turned three, but both her and her brother ended up sick (my oldest and I had to celebrate on our own)

We celebrated a few other milestones too

My seven-year old decided she wanted to two-wheel it and there was no going back. It was another summer of participating in the library’s Summer Reading Club, but this year we actually finished the program. My son started Beavers and my oldest daughter graduated into Brownies. My son is actually starting to read on his own. And we’ve been experiencing the ups and downs of potty training with my youngest.

I did a little writing (beyond just this blog)

Not only did I participate in Writer Digest‘s Poem-A-Day competition, writing a poem each day in April based on a prompt, I completed it. I’ve actually met a lot of amazing people through blogging and twitter, one is Tara Lazar. I started participating in her weekly post idea Write a Review Wednesday and have enjoyed sharing great children’s books each week (and have met some amazing book publishers in the process). I even participated in my first book blog tour with Tundra Books Medina Hill book launch. Along with my weekly book reviews, I started writing a monthly book review post on Allie‘s amazing site No Time for Flashcards (she’s an amazing lady online and I hope one day to meet her in person) as well as a book review post every second week on the blog Best Tools for Schools. As for fiction writing, I submitted two children’s picture book stories and started an outline for a middle grader story. I wrote an article for Today’s Parent magazine also (it appeared in their November Toy Issue) and they even sent a photographer to our house for a photo shoot to accompany the article.

There were even some personal gains

It was hard, but I came to terms with becoming a van mama. I discovered twitter which as a work from home mom can be a lifesaver. I joined Mom Central Canada as one of their Canadian mom bloggers and test panel members (I had the chance to meet Kathryn, the head Mom Central Canada lady which was pretty awesome too). I spoke with and eventually met Erica Ehm, Yummy Mummy Club founder. And through the Yummy Mummy Club I’ve actually had the chance to meet some other amazing ladies. I even learned how to deal with ignorant parents with the help of my son. I started an additional blog on Michelle‘s mom site Everything MomMichelle also gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and offered me the position of Review Editor on Everything Mom, which I still enjoy doing. And of course I can’t forget about catering our Christmas dinner (okay, maybe that’s not a real gain, but I don’t regret it).

Yes 2009 has been eventful but now it’s time to move forward. And I have high expectations for 2010. I hope it can deliver.

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I work from home. I don’t miss rushing out the door to get the kids to daycare before my client meeting, which gets cancelled five minutes after it’s suppose to start, so the creative and technical team are pissed — at me, then it’s rescheduled for 5pm, which I can’t make so I try teleconferencing in but my phone battery dies halfway through the call…Well you get the idea.

If there is one thing I miss from working in the office and don’t really get from my home office set-up, I’d have to say the chatter. Not the noise, I can use a radio for that. No, it’s the casual chit-chat with people in the office. Exchanging a joke, an update or sometimes nothing of real substance at all. It’s fun and a break from work.

Then I found twitter. To be honest, it’s more likely I found via some other mom’s blog (‘cuz as you know from one of my previous post I just don’t live up to the standards that other moms set). Curious, I joined. Hey, this is what I was talking about, what I was missing at home, pure idle chit-chat; the exchange of ideas. I can pop in and out whenever I want. There’s always someone there willing to share. A tip on how to get my kids to eat veggies. A joke about cows. An link to an interesting article.

One such article that was posted bySharon DeVellis (of the YummyMummyClub.ca) intrigued me  – Twitter for writers http://www.theglobeandmail….

I love writing, that’s why I started blogging to begin with. The idea of trying to write something creative within the 140 character limit of twitter was a challenge I couldn’t pass up. It’s almost like one of those creative writing exercise you had to do in school. So I tried:

Before sticking the knife in he read the micetype, ‘artificial flavouring’. He dropped the jam on the floor and ran from the room screaming.

Ruff. She had to pee. Ruff. She scratched at the door trying to get out. He looked at her and sighed, ‘For the last time, you’re not a dog,’

She moved the pencil gracefully along the bottom rim of her eye. First the right. Then the left. RED LIGHT. Screech. She slammed the breaks.

Finally quiet. Warm mug in her hand. Sigh. A big sip. A voice. ‘Mom, where’s my science project? Urine sample? Sitting on counter?’ MMUPHHH!

I found it much harder than I thought. Some are good. Some not so good. Some pure crap. But I enjoyed it. It was fun. Give it a try and see what you come up with. And if you happen to see one of mine, let me know: Good, Not So Good, or Crap (that’s okay, I can take it).