Friday, July 29, 2011

Turning the BIG 4-0

From the movie When Harry Met Sally...

Sally: "...And I'm gonna be 40!"
Harry: "When?!?"
Sally: "SOMEDAY!!!"

My birthday is coming.  Let me rephrase that - my 40th Birthday is coming (I don't even like typing that)!  While there are those that might say that age is just a number, 40 seems like an awfully BIG number :(  I didn't think turning the big 4-0 would bother me quite so much, but truth be told, I'm less than thrilled about it.  But I won't bemoan the reasons here...suffice it to say that I've made my peace with it :) 

I've never done much to celebrate my birthday. I'm excellent at celebrating for others - but my own is typically low key. 

A beautiful cake from my Sweetie
This will sound quite sad, really, but I've only had a handful of birthday cakes in my lifetime!  Like seriously - I could probably count them on one hand.  Truth be told, I'm not much of a sweets person, and only until recently have I learned to enjoy a really decadent, delicious cake :)  

I know more and more women are making big party plans for their 40th,  but that's just not my style.  However, if I could plan the ultimate "turning-40" girly-girl party, my dream birthday cake would look exactly like this...

That may be the very prettiest cake
(and believe me - I could stare at beautiful cakes and baked goods ALL day)
I have ever seen.

Do you do your own birthday up in lavish style or are you more like me and keeping it simple? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ingredient of a happy childhood ~ sidewalk chalk

"It is never too late to have a happy childhood." ~ Tom Robbins
 Are you soaking in these carefree, fun-filled days of summer?  Isn't there something so reminiscent of childhood about this glorious season?  Barefoot, carefree, popsicles and ice cream, swimming holes, and's a season of endless play, sunkissed and happy :)

And what can be more fun than pulling out a big 'ole bucket of inexpensive sidewalk chalk?  Summer fun needn't be expensive.  I'm all about old-school activities that build creativity, get kids off the couch and outside, and that foster their imaginations. 

After a long day in the office, plopping down on the cement sidewalk with my bucket of chalk along with the little guy and his friends and sketching out scenes of summer just makes my mommy heart happy!

You don't have to be an artist to have fun!  Write out goofy stories, with one person writing and the other doing the corresponding drawings.  Draw an old-fashioned game of hopscotch.   Write out a person's name - one GIANT letter at a time on each slab. Play tic-tac-toe, draw a map, trace your hand and footprints, how about a favorite quote or the lyrics to your favorite song, or draw a family tree!

There's virtually no end to the fun possibilities!  Let your mind wander, scribble away and let your kids get messy!  Grab the garden hose after and hose off those dusty, creative hands.

How adorable for people walking by your home to see your colorful, whimsical sidewalk :)

Have a wee little one that can't do more than scribble?  Draw some easy shapes that they can help color for you!

*Tip: If you're having a summer yard/garage sale, write some of the wares you'll be selling to attract passersby to stop at your house.

Don't have sidewalk chalk?  Do a quick search to find the easy recipe to make your own from plaster of paris and tempera paint!  (I'm SO going to try this!)

Grab some chalk and get outside! 

Each season is all too fleeting. 
Savor each of these moments that life has given us. 
Childhood never comes again,
but it's never too late to enjoy every blessed minute of it!

I'll end on one of my favorite quotes:

Walk in the rain, jump in mud puddles, collect rocks, rainbows and roses, smell flowers, blow bubbles, stop along the way, build sandcastles, say hello to everyone, go barefoot, go on adventures, act silly, fly kites, have a merry heart, talk with animals, sing in the shower, read childrens' books, take bubble baths, get new sneakers, hold hands and hug and kiss, dance, laugh and cry for the health of it, wonder and wander around, feel happy and precious and innocent, feel scared, feel sad, feel mad, give up worry and guilt and shame, say yes, say no, say the magic words, ask lots of questions, ride bicycles, draw and paint, see things differently, fall down and get up again, look at the sky, watch the sun rise and sun set, watch clouds and name their shapes, watch the moon and stars come out, trust the universe, stay up late, climb trees, daydream, do nothing and do it very well, learn new stuff, be excited about everything, be a clown, enjoy having a body, listen to music, find out how things work, make up new rules, tell stories, save the world, make friends with the other kids on the block, and do anything else that brings more happiness, celebration, health, love, joy, creativity, pleasure, abundance, grace, self-esteem, courage, balance, spontaneity, passion, beauty, peace, relaxation, communication and life energy to ... all living beings on this planet.
~ Bruce Williamson, It's Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dual Patriotism - Celebrating Canada Day and the 4th

I consider my son to be extremely fortunate in many regards - one of which is his dual citizenship between the United States and Canada

I'm proudly American.  I love this country for its ideals and freedoms, it's beauty, it's melting pot of people, its resilence, its history, and its independence.  I joyously celebrate each 4th of July, reveling in patriotism along with my fellow countrymen.  As a child, the 4th was one of few occasions when my brothers and I were permitted to stay up late.  What child doesn't marvel at the sites and sounds of fireworks and sparklers?!  The 4th of July was completely magical to me!  Fireworks and patriotic songs still manage to give me goosebumps!

My husband is proudly Canadian. He loves Canada's diverse beauty, its  multicultural melting pot of people, its unique culture and customs, its tolerance and freedoms, and its focus on the welfare of its citizens.  Canada Day for him meant an all-day celebration along with his family and friends in his hometown of Ottawa ~ Canada's Capital.  Dressing in red and white, taking in the festivities on Parliament Hill, and partying well after the fireworks were over. 

Our son has the distinct hono(u)r of celebrating both! 

With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate) visiting Ottawa on July 1st for Canada Day this year, we decided it would be a very memorable time to visit.  With estimations of more than 300,000 people in Ottawa, we (bravely) celebrated Canada Day this year on Parliament Hill. 

My son getting a Canadian flag temporary tattoo.
Seeing the Canadian flag being raised that morning amidst a sea of red and white was an amazing and breathtaking event! 

Changing of the guard...

I'm all about dressing for the occasion!  Along with our Canadian t-shirts, I found Canada jibbitz for his crocs (he loves Canadian Mounties)!

I can't begin to convey the excitement of the crowd as we caught our first glimpse of the Duke and Duchess as they approached the Hill in their carriage! 

Here was our view of them once they made their way to the stage.

Canada's Governor General and his wife (left) along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (right).
 Canada's famous Snowbirds flew over so fast, I barely could snap a photo of them - only managing to catch one briefly!  The sound of them and the fighter jets that flew over us was just incredible! 

It was an intensely sunny and hot day to be crammed together with hundreds of thousands of people, but it's an experience I wouldn't trade for the world! 

Prime Minister, Stephen Harper addresses the crowd.

It was so difficult just getting from one place to another in the massive crowd.

There was such an air of excitement throughout the city.  It was so awe-inspiring to see people come together to celebrate their pride and love of their country!

The nighttime show was equally as exciting as we waited for dusk to fall! 

As we made our way back up towards Parliament Hill,
We listened to the musical performers as we waited for the fireworks to begin.

Newfoundland band, Great Big Sea performs for the crowd.
Will and Kate returned for the night show, as well! 
* Holiday Tip: stake out your spot for fireworks in advance. 
 If you aren't sure where they'll be shot off, ask a volunteer or a local for guidance.

It was extra special for my husband to celebrate in his home city along with his son on this very momentous occasion! 

We returned back home in Pennsylvania just in time to celebrate America's Independence Day!

Our plans for the 4th were much more subdued after our trip up north.

We BBQed, went for a bike ride,
and took things easy until it was time to head out to see

Decked out in American patriotism!


* Holiday Tip: buy your own glowsticks well in advance at discount or dollar stores.
I purchase them every year for both celebrations
as opposed to paying a ridiculous, inflated amount at the fireworks venue! 

...and then back home for sparklers and firecrackers in our own backyard,

toasting marshmallows and making s'mores around our firepit!

Contrary to what some believe,  celebrating our patriotism unites us and reminds us to put aside, if even for a day, our differences and quarrels as a nation.  It's a day of pure celebration, a break from the mundane drudgery of life when the sky is aglow with lights and our hearts aglow with pride!

Whichever patriotic holiday you celebrated,
I hope you and your family had a wonderful and safe celebration!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sweet 15

Happy 15th Birthday
to our beloved, faithful, loveable Westie,

I adopted Ollie as a puppy back in 1996, and he has been my treasured, loyal companion ever since.  For those of you that are furbaby moms and dads, you know how a pet truly does become part of your family.  And I can't tell you how delighted I am that Ollie has made it to the ripe old age of 15 today to become BFF (best friend forever) to my son, too. 

Happy Birthday, Ollie!
there will be an extra special celebration this weekend with cake and treats!