What I Learned in August 2013

Strocel.com What I Learned Last MonthHappy Labour Day! While I’m off squeezing all the fun I can out of the end of summer, I thought I’d share my August monthly review. Monthly reviews are one of my favourite traditions. Here’s how it works – every month I come up with some things I learned, and not always the easy way. Then, I ask you all to join in with some recent revelations of your own. And we all learn and grow and what-not. Or at least share a laugh at our own expense, because some of these lessons are both hard-fought and funny. Sound good?

So, without further ado, here is what I learned in August – or some of it, anyway.

What I Learned Last Month

1. I discovered the joy of the Legally Blonde musical at Theatre Under the Stars here in Vancouver. Omigod You Guys, I loved it.

monthly review august 2013

2. Both of my kids finished their books for the library’s summer reading club, and got their medals. It was my five-year-old Jacob’s first time, and he was especially proud. I was, too.

3. I visited Playland and tackled the ride that scared the pants off me last year for the second time. I’m happy to say that this time it was much more pleasant. Talking to the ride operator about the safety features in advance proved very helpful to my mental state, and I would even consider doing it again.

monthly review august 2013

4. I ate the first tomatoes of the year from my garden, and the last blueberries. The harvest is sweet in August, indeed.

5. In addition to a day at Playland, I also spent a day at the Northwest Washington Fair and another day at the PNE. This means that I discovered just how much deep fried goodness I can eat. The answer, it turns out, is a LOT.

monthly review august 2013

6. At long last, the first of the renovations on my house started. At the moment where my sunroom used to be there’s a roughed-up frame covered by plywood and plastic, waiting on windows.

7. I watched my kids try their hands at fishing. They didn’t catch anything, but they proved more patient than I expected.

monthly review august 2013

8. I discovered just how much mess three children can make in my kitchen when I decided that baking double chocolate cookies during a play date would be a good idea.

9. I became the mother of a five-year-old boy. It’s pretty sweet, I must say.

monthly review august 2013

10. I learned that summer vacation calls for impromptu outings for fish and chips or ice cream, frequent visits to the park, relaxing your blogging schedule, cooking outside often and saying, “Forget this noise, let’s head to the lake,” once in a while.

I’ve shared what I learned – what did you learn in August? Leave a comment and tell me! Or, if you’d like to play along by writing a review post of your own, link to it in the comments. And please feel free to grab the button from the top of this post.

What I Learned in July 2013

Strocel.com What I Learned Last MonthMonthly reviews are one of my favourite traditions. Here’s how it works – every month I come up with some things I learned, and not always the easy way. Then, I ask you all to join in with some recent revelations of your own. And we all learn and grow and what-not. Or at least share a laugh at our own expense, because some of these lessons are both hard-fought and funny. Sound good?

So, without further ado, here is what I learned in July – or some of it, anyway.

What I Learned Last Month

1. I learned that while I’m afraid of turkeys in general (also Canada geese), watching them posture for me on the other side of a secure fence is both funny and fascinating.

what I learned in July

2. I attended my first Fourth of July celebrations, and learned a lot. I learned that small-town parades are awesome, I discovered just what the phrase lit up like the Fourth of July means when the neighbourhood was as bright as day for hours that night, and I discovered just how much red, white and blue can be draped on people, plants and buildings.

3. When I got to try out Nourish Mom for my job at VancouverMom.ca, I discovered just how awesome having a personal chef is. I was so sad when I finished all the food that she prepared for me.

what I learned in July

4. I celebrated my nephew’s third birthday, and also his family’s move into my community.

5. My family visited Lynn Canyon here in the Vancouver area, and we saw people jumping off the cliffs into pools at the base of the waterfall. Then I lectured my children sternly for hours about how they must never, ever, ever do that themselves.

what I learned in July

6. I booked a centre for a small retreat that my friend Joyelle is organizing, and got really excited at the prospect of getting together with some other women for a much-needed chance to focus on myself.

7. My daughter attended two sessions of theatre camp, and I re-discovered just what a little performer I have. I also re-learned the anxiety of staying up late at night to put the final touches on a costume.

what I learned in July

8. I did a fun little stint as a model for a mom blogger event at the Nicole Bridger shop in Vancouver, and I discovered that if you can get over yourself, promenading around in borrowed clothing is a lot of fun. (You can see some of the photos here.)

9. My sweet, funny little boy finished up daycare, and geared up to start kindergarten this fall.

what I learned in july

10. I came up with a recipe for my ideal iced tea. I use 5 decaf English Breakfast tea bags and 1/2 cup of sugar with about 6 cups or so of boiling water (I fill up this teapot). I leave it to steep for about an hour, then take out the tea bags and add cold water to make 2 liters. I can’t get enough of this stuff!

I’ve shared what I learned – what did you learn in July? Leave a comment and tell me! Or, if you’d like to play along by writing a review post of your own, link to it in the comments. And please feel free to grab the button from the top of this post.

What I Learned in June 2013

Strocel.com What I Learned Last MonthMonthly reviews are one of my favourite traditions. Here’s how it works – every month I come up with some things I learned, and not always the easy way. Then, I ask you all to join in with some recent revelations of your own. And we all learn and grow and what-not. Or at least share a laugh at our own expense, because some of these lessons are both hard-fought and funny. Sound good?

So, without further ado, here is what I learned in June – or some of it, anyway.

What I Learned Last Month

1. I made my own cleaning products from a recipe for the first time. I’ll be writing a blog post to share how that went.

what I learned last month

2. I tasted the first raspberries and broccoli of the season from my garden, and they were sweet, indeed.

3. I learned that having your eyebrows threaded stings like nobody’s business, but it looks good in the end. Here, the fabulous Bianca gets hers done at Bombay Brow Bar in Vancouver.

what I learned last month

4. I watched my daughter perform at her school’s annual talent show, singing in front of 500 people while staying cool as a cucumber, and I learned a lesson in bravery.

5. I made my annual strawberry rhubarb crisp using local strawberries and rhubarb, topped it off with fresh homemade vanilla ice cream, and discovered once again that in the face of such deliciousness I just can’t stop eating.

what I learned last month

6. On our home renovation, I moved from excited anticipation to nervously waiting for this thing to get started, already. I’m hoping that I’ll advance to being supremely inconvenienced as my house is overtaken by workers in July.

7. I had a front row seat when the website I work for held their annual Top 30 Vancouver Mom Blogger celebration, and I was so excited for the fabulous ladies that we honoured.

what I learned last month

8. I felt very proud of my husband, who started a new job (at the same company) in June. It’s delightful when you can celebrate the achievements of someone you love. Plus, it’s easier than having to actually achieve something yourself. ;)

9. Jacob and I learned that when a four-year-old shows up at the farmers’ market dressed as Woody the cowboy pretty much everyone finds it charming, but the rancher who sells his beef at the market finds it really charming.

what I learned last month

10. Every year on the last day of school the kids and I go for Slurpees. It’s the only time we have them all year. This year, when Hannah and I were debating at what point she transformed from a second grader to a third grader, we came to the agreement that it happened after her Slurpee was done. Hannah now refers to this as the Slurpee test, and she made a very solemn proclamation when her Slurpee was finished. In the process I found out that sometimes little inside jokes you share with your kids are the very best kind.

I’ve shared what I learned – what did you learn in June? Leave a comment and tell me! Or, if you’d like to play along by writing a review post of your own, link to it in the comments. And please feel free to grab the button from the top of this post.

What I Learned in May 2013

Strocel.com What I Learned Last MonthMonthly reviews are one of my favourite traditions. Here’s how it works – every month I come up with some things I learned, and not always the easy way. Then, I ask you all to join in with some recent revelations of your own. And we all learn and grow and what-not. Or at least share a laugh at our own expense, because some of these lessons are both hard-fought and funny. Sound good?

So, without further ado, here is what I learned in May – or some of it, anyway.

What I Learned This Month

1. I learned what it feels like to be 37 years old. So far, so good.

what I learned this month

2. I signed papers for a significant renovation project on my house, and once again felt the mix of excitement over what the finished product will be like, and dread at the work and expense involved.

3. I watched my children duel with bubble wands / light sabers in the warm spring sunshine, and I thought that life is pretty good.

what I learned this month

4. I ditched my blogging schedule, and felt a renewed sense of freedom when I’m writing.

5. Target has come to Canada this year, and the first store in my area opened this month, so I had to check it out. Their kids’ shoes lived up to my expectations, I am happy to report.

what I learned this month

6. At work for VancouverMom.ca I oversaw the selection of the 2013 Top 30 Vancouver Mom Bloggers, and felt so much joy that I get to play a part in recognizing a diverse and amazing group of writers.

7. I took my children with me, and cast my ballot in the provincial election, and felt grateful that I have the right to do so, without facing any risks or hardships.

what I learned this month

8. I saw the first crops in my garden disappear courtesy of slugs and wood bugs, and felt great wrath.

9. I went salmonberry picking with my daughter, and once again tasted the sweetness of food that I neither grew nor paid for.

what I learned this month

10. I learned, for what feels like the eight millionth time, that putting on a kettle does not result in tea if you totally forget about it and it boils, turns itself off, and cools. Sadly, I fear I may learn this eight million more times in the future.

I’ve shared what I learned – what did you learn in May? Leave a comment and tell me! Or, if you’d like to play along by writing a review post of your own, link to it in the comments. And please feel free to grab the button from the top of this post.

Feelings … Nothing More Than Feelings

Book Review Happy Sad & Everything in BetweenMy son Jacob is four and a half years old. Right now, he’s learning a lot of tricky lessons about handling his feelings. This is all pretty normal stuff, and I know that. I’ve been through it before with my daughter Hannah. Knowing it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. Learning to handle strong emotions is challenging for my son, and for the people who live with him, too.

This is why, when I was offered a review copy of Happy, Sad, & Everything in Between, written by Sunny Im-Wang, Psy.D., S.S.P. and illustrated by Alex McVey, I jumped at it. Aimed at kids four through eight years old, the book aims to increase emotional literacy.

The main character is named Kai, and with ambiguous features my son swears that Kai is a boy and my daughter swears that Kai is a girl. This made the book easy for both of them to relate to. Kai is very obviously white, however, so I’m not sure if that would impact things for children with other racial backgrounds. I appreciated the gender neutrality nonetheless, because it also underscores that feelings are universal.

The book itself is more of a resource book than a story book. We did read it cover-to-cover, but it took us several nights to cover the whole thing. There’s an introduction, and then each page addresses one of 15 different emotions: happy, loving, scared, anxious, worried, tired, jealous, excited, sad, shy, embarrassed, lonely, calm, frustrated, angry and silly. There’s an explanation of what the motion feels like and some questions to consider (What embarrasses you? What do you look like when you’re feeling lonely? What thoughts do you have when you’re feeling angry?). Then, a box offers suggestions for how to help yourself handle the emotion.

book review happy sad everything in between emotional literacy

The book covers mindfulness in an easy-to-understand way, talking about sitting quietly and focusing on your breath. There’s an emphasis on how to feel calm, which appears throughout the book, especially when dealing with very strong emotions. Frankly, I can always use a refresher on that stuff myself.

I’m mostly using this book as a situational aid. For instance, sometimes when Jacob is upset now he’ll bring me the book and search out the page to describe how he’s feeling. Seeing Kai looking frustrated, and then reading through the suggestions for how to deal with frustration, is actually helpful for both of us. It lets him know that it’s okay to feel this way, and it gives me ideas for how to help my son when he’s overwhelmed by feelings.

While the age guideline is four to eight, I found it was more helpful for my four-year-old than my eight-year-old. My daughter Hannah has better vocabulary, more self-control and greater emotional literacy. While she enjoyed the book, I wouldn’t say that she got as much out of it as Jacob. I would suggest this book primarily to parents who can see that their children are having a hard time dealing with some of their feelings.

How did you help your kids learn to deal with strong feelings? I could always use more tips!

What I Learned in April 2013

Strocel.com What I Learned Last MonthMonthly reviews are one of my favourite traditions. Here’s how it works – every month I come up with some things I learned, and not always the easy way. Then, I ask you all to join in with some recent revelations of your own. And we all learn and grow and what-not. Or at least share a laugh at our own expense, because some of these lessons are both hard-fought and funny. Sound good?

So, without further ado, here is what I learned in April – or some of it, anyway.

What I Learned This Month

1. I learned that while you never forget how to ride a bike – hence the expression just like riding a bike – that doesn’t meant that getting back on that bike after 20 years will be easy. I had the muscle pain to attest to it.

what I learned last month bicycle

2. Following my second gum graft, I found solace in Pride and Prejudice on DVD, re-affirming my belief that a good costume drama can help with almost anything. Especially if said costume drama features a young Mr. Colin Firth.

3. I had my first fancy salon haircut in years, and I re-discovered just how lovely it is to be pampered like that.

what I learned last month haircut

4. I lived with a pirate for the second half of the month, when my son Jacob decided that he would spend a few weeks wearing a pirate costume.

5. I put an offer on a house (which wasn’t accepted), and arranged for some quotes on home renovations. In the process, I re-discovered the stress of real estate, whether buying or owning.

real estate homebuying renovation

6. I’ve listened to the score of Seussical the Musical on repeat for the past few weeks, as my daughter Hannah practices for the school play.

7. I was delighted by my sister-in-law’s dessert sushi.

what I learned last month dessert sushi

8. I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, and re-discovered just how much I love the smell of fresh-cut grass.

9. I learned that while being on live TV can be stressful, having a pro do your makeup is really kind of awesome.

what I learned last month makeup room

10. I celebrated many birthdays – my mother’s, my mother-in-law’s, and my niece’s. And I confirmed once again that few things are quite as good as birthday cake.

I’ve shared what I learned – what did you learn in April? Leave a comment and tell me! Or, if you’d like to play along by writing a review post of your own, link to it in the comments. And please feel free to grab the button from the top of this post.

What I Learned in March 2013

Strocel.com What I Learned Last MonthMonthly reviews are one of my favourite traditions. Here’s how it works – every month I come up with some things I learned, and not always the easy way. Then, I ask you all to join in with some recent revelations of your own. And we all learn and grow and what-not. Or at least share a laugh at our own expense, because some of these lessons are both hard-fought and funny. Sound good?

So, without further ado, here is what I learned in March – or some of it, anyway.

What I Learned This Month

1. I discovered that my iPad isn’t only great for reading, it also makes a whiz-bang in-flight entertainment system for kids.

In-flight entertainment

2. I said good-bye to a dear friend of eight years, who just moved to Stockholm, and found out just how sad that made me.

3. I finished a sewing project, and learned once again just how satisfying that feels.

Blanket detail

4. My daughter hosted her first sleep over, and I discovered that “stay” over would be a more accurate term, as no one sleeps at all.

5. I started my seeds, and observed the miracle of tiny little seedlings once again.

The garden gnome is guarding our seed starts

6. I discovered that almost anything can be terrifying to a four-year-old, when my son decided that pretty much everything at Disneyland was too scary.

7. I learned that my daughter has what it takes to take on Darth Maul.

Duck!

8. I tried Dr. Pepper for the first time in some 25 years, and confirmed that I still really don’t like it. Then, in discussing my Dr. Pepper aversion with others, I found out that very few people are neutral on the subject. It seems you either love or hate Dr. Pepper.

9. I discovered that few things are cuter than a four-year-old in a Mozart wig.

Channeling his inner Mozart at music class

10. I learned that when you visit Disneyland in March, you should bring more than two sweaters with you. I also learned that telling children to try to keep their two sweaters clean is an exercise in futility.

I’ve shared what I learned – what did you learn in March? Leave a comment and tell me! Or, if you’d like to play along by writing a review post of your own, link to it in the comments. And please feel free to grab the button from the top of this post.

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