Thursday, 7 April 2016

I Have Moved!

Greetings faithful readers!

If any of you have me bookmarked (I should be so lucky!) I'm here to announce I will no longer be updating this blog.  I have consolidated all my ideas and moved to WordPress!

Please follow my new blog at A Modern Mom's Life.  I am still having my Mom musings as well as posts about things going on around town, my book, and product, reviews as well as following along my daughter Emma's acting and modelling career in my new, streamlined space.

I am also still the same on Twitter, FB and G+.  I'm also now on Instagram.  Please do follow me on all these platforms so you don't miss any of my ramblings!

Hope to see you on the new blog!

~Jess

PS - I have a new email too: modernmom@jessicafoley.ca  Drop me a line and say hi.  I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

New Domain Coming!

Alright readers, I'm going to make the switch.

Since I already have a domain (jessicafoley.ca - you can go there, but it's just ads today) I'm going to make the switch to WordPress for my blog.  I'm incredibly nervous about switching, but it will be better in the long run, I'm sure.

I'm toying with the idea of just having the one blog and using categories or tags to then break down the content.  So if you don't see posts from me for a while, this is why!

Emma also has a domain (emmafoley.ca) so I'm going to try to integrate that as well and follow along with her modelling and acting on that page.

If you have tips or ideas, or know of some great plugins or anything else that may be useful knowledge for me, please share in the comments.  I'm even undecided about carrying over my old posts, or just leaving them here and starting fresh.

My social media will all be updated as soon as I have this figured out.  I'll still be using the same accounts so if you follow me there you'll see my new posts and such, they'll just direct to my new platform.

Wish me luck!
~Jess

Monday, 28 March 2016

Book Review: After The Kill - A Jake Roberts Novel

After the Kill is the fourth novel featuring Jake Roberts.  The former police detective certainly attracts trouble wherever he goes.

This instalment picks up minutes after the previous novel, After the Goode, ends.  The introduction of the new characters is a bit long-winded, but necessary for the important plot points.  The killer in this book is a copycat in the style of Lori Powers, who we met in After The Evil.

I liked how all the books in this series tied together.  Characters carried over from one book to the next, even though their main jobs were done in earlier stories.  And Jake Roberts becomes an author throughout this series and they refer to the previous books inside this story which was a great sense of amusement to me.

Has Cary Allen Stone created more stories in Jake Roberts' universe?  I'm not sure.  He sure could.  The writing of these stories has gotten progressively better throughout the series.

This poor guy has been through enough crises and heartbreak in these books.  I hope, if his stories carry on, that Jake can find a quiet life after all the strife he's been through.  I know that doesn't make for a dramatic story, but I think Jake Roberts deserves his happiness!

Rainy Easter "Monday"

Today is "Easter Monday."  Not a holiday, not a "real" Easter related day.  Just a day where there's no school but there is work - for a lot people at least.  For us there's no daycare either (she takes it as a day for herself, to which I say "good for you!") so I took the day off.

And guess what?  It's raining.  Boo.  Yesterday was almost 20 degrees and sunny.  We had a fabulous time being at hubby's sisters eating and sitting around outside.  The girls got bubble guns and had a blast with them.  It was a great day.

Today I thought maybe we could get the bikes out.  Or at least the kids could go outside to play.  Looks like maybe that's not going to happen after all.  We do have plans to go visit some school friends this afternoon, but that's 5 hours from now.  That's a lot of time to fill.

On a different note, I'm actually happy to see the rain.  Hopefully it will wash away any remnants of snow and help my tulips grow.  They've been peeking through the soil for a week or more but it's just not their time yet.  I'm dying to get out into the gardens - it's only March though, not time yet!

Maybe I can get the girls to help me tidy away the Easter stuff (we have about 25 bunnies that only come out for Easter play) and return our living space to a room with, well, space.  But I think that will involve bribes with their own Easter treats.

What do you do with your school-aged kids when you're stuck inside on a rainy day?  My girls are 4 (almost 5 if you ask her) and 7.  They get tired of colouring but we did get some painting crafts from aunties yesterday - maybe we'll give that a try.

For now I need to find myself some breakfast and deal with some laundry so they're going to get tv time until I'm ready to find them an activity.  Enjoy your day readers!

~Jess

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Book Review: A Place Elsewhere

If you like internal monologue, stream-of-consciousness type writing, this is the book for you.

Nigel Joslin is an adventurous hiker whose wanderings take him through the Scottish moors, as well as through many topics of speculation in this book.  I found it a really interesting read.  The only drawback I found was that I couldn't focus on his words for a long time - the deep thoughts required breaks for mental digestion.

With a fiction story I can usually gobble up the chapters and I often have a hard time putting the books down.  This book didn't work that way for me.  I did feel the drive to read it, but it wasn't a story I could get lost in.  Too much philosophizing for me to concentrate on for a big chunk of time!

The topics Nigel discusses are hugely varied, and he approaches and explains his thoughts quite clearly.  Even though he delves into a lot of science, introspection, and even the meaning of life, he doesn't lose the reader (unless they're like me and just need to step away for a few minutes to assimilate all the information he's presenting.)

I didn't know what to expect from this book.  I opened it only knowing it wasn't a work of fiction like most of my other reads lately have been.  The layout is a year in Nigel's life, and each chapter is a month.  The book opens with - you guessed it - a new beginning.  He does reach back through the months as the year flows along to return us to ideas mentioned earlier that he then delves deeper into.

For those of you who like to get inside other people's heads, I'd recommend this read.  Some of the topics and ideas Nigel pulls up and explains do sort of blow your mind.  While this wasn't my most favourite book of the last year or so, it does have the distinction of being the most thought provoking.

Until next time!
~Jess

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Three Thoughts I Had At The Dentist Today

Today I had a cleaning at the dentist.  I like going to the dentist.  Sure sometimes they poke and scrape a bit more than I'd like, but running my tongue over my super clean teeth is pleasure I greatly enjoy.

As a mom I really look forward to my visits to the dentist chair.  While I was there today I came up with 3 thoughts most moms likely have while reclining in the comfort of the dentists chair:

  1. Nothing - if you're a Mom (or a Dad) sometimes a few minutes where no one needs your attention is like a vacation.  Going to the dentist is definitely not a vacation, but if you can close your eyes, tune into the elevator music playing throughout the place, and block out the fact that someone has their arms in your mouth practically up to their elbows, you can almost pretend you're relaxing in a beach chair
  2. When's (fill in child's name here)'s next appointment?  Mom-thinking never turns off.  I was lying in the chair today thinking about my kids next appointment, and then mapping out the day's plan for that day (next month, as it turns out!)  I'm so excited to meet them at school, and rush them down to the dentist while manoeuvring around school buses and 10,000 parents also picking their kids up from school.  Always fun.
  3. Why do hygienists ask so many questions?  And they're never "yes" or "no" - they usually require a sentence of response.  So you fixate on the question and miss the second half of the story they're telling you and why the question was important, while waiting for the extraction of hands from your mouth so you can speak.  Conversation is hard in the dentist chair.  But you also relish the time to chat with another adult about anything!
Are there other things that run through a reclining parents mind when the kids aren't fighting nearby, or talking to you non-stop?  I'm sure there are.  If I missed any funny ones please add them in the comments!

Now that my teeth are squeaky clean I think it's time to start staining them up again with a nice cup of tea.  Oh ya, and no cavities!!

Until next time!
~Jess

Monday, 21 March 2016

Review: Freddie Atlas - Musician

Freddie Atlas is a NYC based pianist, singer and songwriter.  Born in Montreal (a fellow Canadian!) Freddie had hoped to capture people's imagination since his early childhood.  By the age of 8 Freddie was playing Elton John hits on his grandmother's old, dusty piano.

He attended the Berklee College of Music where he received two of his four academic degrees.  After his schooling, Freddie relocated to New York City and began his career as a background singer for some up-and-coming talent.  You can view more of Freddie's bio on his website.

An excerpt from his biography on his Facebook page: "Freddie’s vision is to capture people’s imagination with the sounds of the human experience; psychology, impressions, time, universal love, pain and dreams. His style and sound are polarized, bringing contemporary visuals to the classic ponders and orchestrations of humanity."

Freddie's sound is unique.  He strives to combine 19th Century piano sounds and impressions with modern 1990's music.  He currently has two songs on YouTube that he has asked me to review for him.

The first song I listened to was My Valentine.  The piano melody perfectly compliments the lyrics and mood of this song.  As a pianist myself I really enjoy a well played piece.  After a little researching I found this song was actually a cover of a Paul McCartney song from 2012.  I know, shame on me for not just knowing that, being a self-professed music lover!  Strangely I think I enjoy Freddie's version of this song, especially the melodic piano playing, better.

Wicked Game was the second song I was asked to listen to.  I love Chris Isaak's version of this song from 1989.  Freddie's version is very close so I enjoyed this song very much.  The piano work in this song seems more hauntingly appropriate than the full ensemble Chris Isaak has in his work.

Overall my music tastes, while being appreciative of almost every genre, lean towards rock and alternative bands.  That being said I really enjoy the piano work in Freddie's music.  He is obviously a very talented pianist.  His music is very low-key, good for a relaxing de-stressor at the end of a long day.  I've been listening to his songs (and the originals) over and over while creating this post and his music has grown on me very much.  I'm very excited to stay current with Freddie Atlas and see what he comes up with next!

*I received compensation in exchange for writing this review.  Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own*

Sunday, 20 March 2016

March Break Misnomer

Okay parents, I'm sure some of you are with me on this one.

Today is the Sunday following March Break.  I know that March Break is supposed to be a break for the kids.  Really, I think it's a break for the poor teachers who tirelessly deal with our kids every day!  But what it definitely is not is a break for the parents.  Well unless you're the family who takes time off work and travels to do something fun (and often expensive) over March Break.  We're not that family.

We have a swell daycare that takes our kids for March Break and Christmas holidays, plus PA days and all that.  She's great, the kids love her, and life is good there.  But there's something about these non-school days that makes me feel like we, the parents, should be trying to spend time with our kids when they're not at school.

This year we had sick kids over March Break.  Isn't it disappointing how often that happens?  So the Friday before the break one kiddo came home sick, then the other kid came down with it the Thursday of the break.  Luckily the second bout didn't include the vomiting that the first one did.

Since I have Wednesdays off, and there was no dance class for myself or my kids this week, I picked them up early from daycare and took them to see Little Ray's Reptile show here at the mall.  They love all the critters there.  I don't love the other kids in the way of my photos, or running around screaming through the mall.

My hubby's birthday often falls during March Break (and it did so again this year.)  He has an aversion to working on his birthday - and he usually has vacation days to use up this time of year - so he "stayed home" the Thursday and Friday of March Break.  He kept the girls home on Thursday - his actual birthday.  Well, "kept them home" isn't really what happened.  Despite Emma not feeling well, they went and did a build at Home Depot.  I think now he's stuck taking them to the builds there whenever they happen.  The girls loved it!

But despite the fun days, life is crazy busy all the time and that doesn't stop for March Break.  Sometimes trying to fit in fun around work schedules is so much more exhausting than the status quo of all the other weeks of the year.  Throw in some days when the kids are under-the-weather and life just doesn't really flow well at all.

I, for one, will be happy to get back to the busy "normal" weeks I'm used to.  Well, until next week when we have to start getting ready for Emma's next Fashion Show!

How was your March Break?  Go anywhere fun?  See anything cool?  Share with me in the comments!

~Jess

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Review - L'Oreal Preference Infinia Colour Booster

*I received this product free of charge so I could try it out and create this review - all opinions are my own*

It's been 2 weeks since I dyed my hair.  Where does the time go??  At any rate, today was the day for me to apply the colour booster product that came in my L'Oreal Preference Inifina box.

The instructions were straightforward - apply after shampooing to towel dried hair.  Great!  What it didn't mention at all was conditioner.  I applied it without (which I'm sure is correct) but now my hair doesn't feel "conditioned."  It's fine, but after I condition is has a more moisturized feeling that's lacking after this colour booster.

I was hoping the booster would help me hide the little areas I missed when I coloured in the first place.  I had managed to miss that little space just in front of my ears (where you'd grow sideburns if you were more manly!) so I managed to get this nice red colour booster onto those hairs.  I feel like it did deposit a little colour there, but since it deposited on the rest of my head as well it's still a "missed spot."  The mousy brown natural colour isn't quite so obvious though!

The booster was a success.  My hair is now more red like it was on the first day.  I guess that's why they want me using the hashtag #makeday1last!  Being a more introverted person I actually prefer my hair after I've washed it a few times.  But I do love the shine it returns to my hair.
Before Colour Booster
After Colour Booster
There's enough booster left for me do to this again in 2 more weeks.  And the conditioner that came with the hair dye has a ton left.  I'm supposed to use that once a week (and I did last week) to help boost the shine as well.

Overall this is a great hair dye package.  If you're looking for a dramatic change, I'd recommend it.  Obviously the darker your starting shade, the less obvious the colour will be.  The booster really does help you return to the first day colour, as advertised.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Book Review: After the Goode - A Jake Roberts Novel

*I was sent this book free of charge so I could read it and create this review*

After the Goode is the third book in the Jake Roberts series.  I have one more after this one to read and review.

This book is a story of what Jake Roberts gets himself into after retiring from the police force.  Seems these good detectives can't leave the detecting behind!

This instalment started out well, but with some characters I hadn't seen before.  This isn't a problem, I was just expecting to Jake Roberts to be more involved earlier on in the story.  He does show up, and he has a big role in the novel, but there was an adjustment period where I had to wade through a bit of slow character development with the new characters.

Once I got into it, the story rolled right along.  I was pretty hooked once the conflict (read: murder) happened, and all the characters rolled into one coherent storyline.

This is really the story of murder by accident; and then the intrigue of one character trying to hide it while the others are trying to solve it.  Heartstrings are tugged a little at the end.  And then it's left only slightly open for the next story. 

Again there were some (although less) editing errors.  An extra re-read of the copy would have been beneficial I think.  Now that I'm three books in, I don't notice the errors as much, but comma splices, incorrect quotations etc. are unfortunately still there.

I do look forward to finding out how Cary Allen Stone wraps up this series.  Jake is slowly growing older, and he's trying to leave his detecting days behind.  Maybe the last book will see him settle down somewhere more remote with his lady and have a quiet family life.  Who knows!  I guess there's only one way to find out.

Stay tuned for my review of After the Kill, coming after the book I'm wading through right now.

~Jess

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Moms and Migraines

This morning I woke up feeling like someone was scooping out my frontal lobe with an ice cream scoop. Not a nice image - and not really a nice feeling either. Despite the pain, I chose to get up and start my morning. Looking back, I think maybe that was a mistake.

I put my coffee on, eldest daughter came downstairs without prodding from me - always a bonus - and I got her started on breakfast. I also pulled out the fruit I thought younger daughter would eat, and I had a few pieces. I also had a big glass of water - sometimes the headaches are a dehydration symptom. I don't think the food was such a good idea either.

At this point every movement was sending shooting pains from my forehead through my skull and out the back of my head. I chose to go back upstairs and poke younger daughter. Luckily she was mostly awake, so I went and laid down. I knew that what little food I ate was not going to stay where I put it, but I also knew it wasn't imminently going to dislodge itself. Oh, and I had taken some ibuprofen as well.

Little miss number two came into my room on her way downstairs, and I suggested she grab a muffin when she gets down there. I was pretty sure getting back up was going to be a bad idea. I'm lucky I have a spouse who can take over morning duties on those (thankfully very few) days where I just can't do it.

The rest of the morning is a bit of a blur. I did have to throw up in the garbage can when hubby was in the bathroom and I was in the kitchen helping kiddos get organized to go out the door. I had actually gotten up to look for my Tryptans (migraine pills). So I think the ibuprofens went out that way, but I did feel better for a bit and so I took the migraine pill and then went back to bed after the kids went off to the bus.

After such a fun experience I came up with a few words of wisdom for other moms (or dads!) who also find themselves occasionally afflicted with such lovely things as migraines:

  • Ask for help! - Get your spouse (if applicable) to do more.  Or call your parents/friends/anyone you know who'd help you out.  The more you try to do, the worse you can feel.  It's okay to ask for help.
  • Take drugs! - If you have a prescription for your migraines, take it!  My parents and hubby are good at reminding me to do this.  Or take some ibuprofen or acetaminophen.  And take it with lots of water - see my dehydration comment above.
  • Caffeine can help - if you're addicted to your morning coffee or tea (or other beverage), try to have some.  I made my coffee this morning but I didn't drink it until 2 hours later, minutes after the pot turned off it's burner.
  • Go back to bed - after you take something to help move your headache along, try for some more rest.  It worked for me this morning, but it doesn't always work.
  • Try to do very little, even it you're feeling better - I fall into this trap all the time.  I stay home from work with a brutal headache but then I lay in bed and think about all the things I could be doing if only I felt a little better.  Those things can wait.  You can't look after everything and everyone else if you don't look after yourself!
  • Get some fresh air - Say you're feeling a bit better (like the ice pick has been removed and every step is not causing excruciating stabs through your brain).  Take a short walk outside.  If it's sunny and the light is hurting your eyes, you're likely not "better" enough to leave the house yet, but if you think you can handle it, stroll around the block.  This perked me up today too, although that's also because it was 10 degrees outside!

Keep in mind these are all suggestions and I am not a doctor - I just speak from experience.  If you suffer the same affliction and have other tips, please share with me in the comments!

By 2pm the headache was gone, and so was the foggy brain feeling.  I could have gone to work for a few hours, by at this point in the day it's really not worth it.  Lets hope this fun doesn't occur again tomorrow...

~Jess

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Sunday Bath Success (For Me!)

Today I relaxed in the bath.  This, in itself, is not really news.  The kicker today is my entire family was home at the time!

My baths usually happen when I'm home alone.  Solely because I can't really relax when the kids are fighting, hubby is bored and wanting to talk to me (or go out), or there's just an extremely high level of noise in the house.

Today, somehow, the girls were entertaining themselves (and making a big mess after just cleaning up a big mess), hubby was concentrating on something for work, and I was between regular weekend tasks.  I had just cleaned up from breakfast, actually washed out the sinks, and had laundry in various stages of completion, when I decided spur-of-the-moment to relax in the bath.

I didn't tell a soul my plans, for fear someone would kibosh my idea and suddenly need me to do something that couldn't possibly wait half an hour.  Also, miraculously, no one heard me running water, getting a towel from the squeaky door linen closer, or even walking around upstairs.  Is it possible my family is becoming less mom-centric?  Let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

Vanilla bubble bath, nice warm water, and a book.  It seemed like a luxurious idea.  And it turned out better than I had expected.  My book was a bit hard to get into, Rose had to use the toilet (so I had to hide behind the shower curtain, at her request), and hubby was looking for me - but only once - so  my 15 minute bath was hardly interrupted.  Much better than previous attempts.

Now I almost feel relaxed, I've got 3 loads of laundry to fold and put away, and I'm trying to get some blog stuff done.  I'm thinking this will have been a productive day.  And all I needed to get out of my own head was a bath.  A mostly un-interrupted bath.  Oh, and it helps that hubby took the girls out to "some stores" so I could have a few minutes to myself (and my blog.)

Do you other parents get uninterrupted time to do what you want to do to relax on the weekends?  Or any time for that matter?  Share your stories with me in the comments.  When I get back from switching the laundry I'd like to see something posted down there!

~Jess
Small Victories Sunday Linkup

Saturday, 5 March 2016

March Means Spring, Right?

I can't wait for the snow to move along.  It's March now, time for winter to make way for spring!  I can't wait to get outside, go for walks (without 3 layers of clothing on!), and get into the gardens.

Last summer I created a post about enjoying the outdoors and being in the garden.  You can read that here: http://modern-moms-life.blogspot.ca/2015/06/nature-loving-mom.html *warning - I talk about spiders in that post!*

This temperatures this coming week are all above 0 (after today, of course) and I'm imagining the kids going outside to play with less fights (and also less layers on), and sitting on the deck with my wine and whatever book I'm reading.  In reality it'll be wet and icky for at least a week and no one will go outside at all.  Hmm, on that note, where are the kids splash pants?  With any luck we'll need them soon.

We have another busy month going on: birthday party invitation for Rose to attend, first confession and mall fashion show audition (and rehearsal if they like her!) for Emma.  There are school field trips and March Break upcoming as well.  Throw in Dad's birthday and there's a full month!  Every month and season has it's busy moments.

The kids have mixed feeling about winter being over.  I don't blame them - we barely had "winter" as I remember it as a kid.  The snow didn't really come until well into January, and even then it melted between each snowfall.  We had some ice days and not many good days for playing in the snow.  At least they don't know what they're missing - in their short lives we haven't had a "good" winter for snow and sledding and all that.

I'll be glad if the snow disappears this week, with little slush-making and wet, cold days.  Maybe by March Break the outdoors will be calling to the kids, and the smushy wet ground will be dried out enough for the kids to go to the park.  I can dream, right?

What are you looking forward to this month, or this spring?  Is there still snow in your neck of the woods?  Are your kids sad to see winter go?  Share with me in the comments please!

Well that's enough musing for now - time to get ready for Rose's ballet class.  Maybe next week we'll be able to go in shoes instead of boots.  Bring on the spring!

~Jess

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Review: L'Oreal Preference Infinia VoxBox

*I received this product free of charge so I could try it out and create this review - all opinions are my own*

My VoxBox arrived on Tuesday this week.  How fitting that I'm off Wednesdays so I could explore this box and figure out what exactly I'm supposed to do!

My First VoxBox!
When I opened it, there were 2 boxes of haircolour in it.  Fitting, as it was a L'Oreal Preference VoxBox.  This haircolour has a new feature - a colour booster you use at 2 weeks and 8 weeks post colouring, to keep it looking like first day colour for a lot longer.  As today will be day 1, you'll have to wait for me to try that part and create my review part 2!

VoxBox Unboxed!
In the qualifying survey they asked me about colouring my hair.  I said I do, since I did in October for my "halloween" costume.  There's a post about that here.  The colour was supposed to be 28 washes, but it's still growing out now so might as well colour away the roots.  And with 2 boxes of colour shipped to me I should be able keep this colour for a while!

Hubby and I - Rocky Horror Oct 2015 
Now that my hair is short, colouring it is "quick" and easy.  The whole experience today took me a bit less than an hour.  And I only used about 1/2 (maybe less) of the colour creme - I could have shared it with a friend!

Doing your hair yourself always has the potential to be a humongous mess.  I always do the towel on the shoulders stuff, and today I tried putting conditioner along my hairline to protect my skin.  I don't know if it made a difference, and it did cause me a little stress thinking that I got some on my hair and the dye may be splotchy.  Luckily it all turned out fine.

Now that my hair is re-coloured I may have to update my cut.  The short cut is getting "long" and I feel like its looking a bit chunky, or clumpy, I don't know how to describe it.  I'm planning to let it get a bit longer for the warmer weather.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive but I like to be able to do ponytails when the weather gets hot - and for ballet class too!

Colour Before (Natural Light)
Colour After
So stay tuned for my next haircolour post in 2 weeks time - when I try out the colour booster!  I'm not sure if it's for trying to hide roots, or just to pump up the overall colour and shine that tends to dull wash after wash.  Guess we'll find out!

This red is more "red" and less purple than my previous colour.  I apologize for the quality of this before and after photos - my cell doesn't take a fabulous photo.  I think they're good enough for a comparison, though.  The after colour looks darker in artificial light.  I'm happy with the result!

How Many Mittens Have Your Kids Lost This Winter?

It's March!  Winter should be shuffling off sometime this month.  I can't wait.

The thing I'm most looking forward to leaving behind (for maybe 6 months) is all the extra "outdoor clothes."  And all the "where's my _____??" that we do every morning.  Today we actually discovered Emma must have left her snowpants at her after-school care.  Lucky both girls have 2 pair!  (I will take some of the blame, as I do try to collect everything at the door, but some days the kids are so antsy to get outside that I just can't gather everything - time to learn to take your own stuff, kids!)

Today I want to gripe about mittens.  Do your kids lose mittens like crazy?  I can't say my kids "lose" them, more misplace and/or forget them.  We have to have about 3 pair of mittens or gloves (and I mean the cold/snow playing/nylon winter mitts) per kid, otherwise we'd be doomed to freezing hands.  And it was a struggle to buy a new pair each in early January (we're deep into winter so, of course, no stores have mittens) when we got holes in the ones from last year.  The new ones have holes now too, but that's another story.

I know my kids have cubbies and backpacks and their own spaces to keep things at daycare and at school.  So where do the mittens go?  Rose told me one day she left hers outside at recess.  Pretty sure it was cold out that day - why did you even take them off, kid?  (The answer to that was they were wet - ok, I'll give you that, but weren't your hands cold??)

Emma is a great helper for Rose to find things she's lost at school.  I'm not sure how many times Emma has gone through the school lost and found and retrieved items that belonged to Rose.  I tried at the beginning of the year to put our name stickers in every piece of clothing, but somehow that doesn't help them get found.  And then we had to buy 2 rounds of mittens over the winter and wear them right away, so I don't think they got labelled.

And then there's the storing of winter clothes inside my house - I have no room for hanging winter pants (2 pair each) and coats and then also store hats, mitts, scarves etc.  We have a tiny entryway - just big enough for the door to open - and then there's a set of stairs.  At the top of the stairs is almost immediately a set of stairs to go downstairs.

We use this little landing as our shoe and coat area.  It's not enough space for 2 kids in full winter gear to stand together and get boots on.  I've tried to organise with pigeon hole shelves and baskets, different types of shoe racks, and hooks behind doors and down the basement staircase.  We're as good as we're going to get there.  But all the mittens have a basket in my shelf unit that no one seems to know is there.  Hats and scarves go in another.  Grown-up winter gear has it's own slot also.  I know the system, I don't think anyone else here does.

This winter I've tried to get the girls to put their mittens on the heat vent.  You know the little cone shaped thingy that goes over the vent that you put your mittens on to dry out?  That's my landing space for any mittens worn outside. It's been working ok - until the morning that someone didn't do that (after I nagged 5 times the night before) and mittens are wet.  Cue the tears.  This is one of the many reasons we have extra (sometimes with tears in them) mittens around the house.

Anyway, the forecast for next week has plus 5 and 7 degree weather in it.  Let's hope we can downgrade to our fun knit mittens once the snow starts to fade away.  We have a ton of awesome knit "not for super cold weather" mittens that don't get much wear over the winter.  Guess they're our transition time mittens - although they don't work well in the wet weather of spring either.  Hmm...

Please share with me your family's winter solutions:  How do you keep mittens from getting lost or forgotten?  How you store all your abundance of extra winter outdoor wear?  How often do your kids forget snowpants or something at school?  I'd love to commiserate and share winter woes!

~Jess

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Book Review: Splintered by Kelly Miller

*I was sent this book free of charge so I could read it and create this review*

I thoroughly enjoyed Splintered by Kelly Miller. This thriller is told from five characters viewpoints.  Fast paced storytelling combined with short chapters made it easy to read, even in short bursts of time.  Ideal for a working mom like me!

A teenage girl makes up a story about an attempted abduction in hopes to win back her father's affections.  Her mother is emotionally absent and as a result the young girl doesn't have anywhere to turn when the story gets out that she lied for attention.

A young man was raised by an abusive father who abducted young girls to "play with" at his whim.  He now feels his ability to restrain those feelings in himself crumbling.  Enter the young teenager on the news who lied about an abduction attempt.

The teenage girl does disappear not even a week later, but police label her a runaway, due to her home situation and lies about a previous abduction.  Can she survive until someone finds her?  Will the young man become his father?

I found it took the book a little while to create the suspense required for a thriller.  The backstory was very well fleshed out, but by halfway through the book I started wondering where the "real" conflict is - what kind of climax was likely to happen and when.

The book did not disappoint.  Once the pace picked up and the stories of all the characters began to come together I had a hard time putting the book down!  And after finishing the story I wanted to find other titles by this author.  I really enjoyed this story and all the characters involved.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Snow Day or My Day As A Stay Home Parent

This winter was slow getting started, but February seems to be making up for it.  We've had two snow days in two weeks.  One of those days I was lucky enough to get to be home with the girls all day.

Let's be frank here - I love going to work and being away from the kids.  I'm almost never home alone with them for 8+ hours (unless you count overnight, which doesn't actually count.)  Now that they're older, and play together pretty well, it's not quite the stress-zone it used to be when they were completely dependant on constant adult supervision and interaction.

I'm happy to say my "mom anxiety" has actually settled down a bit.  I feel as though the girls are learning how to be independent, and slightly more responsible (post about that here), and sometimes they even can get their own food - as long as it's cereal or granola bars.

I took some pictures during our "snow day" so I could share with you all the joys of being home with the kids all day long.  I chose to empty the dishwasher in the morning and when I returned to the living room they had emptied the toy box completely, and every stuffy they own (except for the 100 they each have in their rooms) was on the floor.

People wonder why I don't sit down and watch a movie with the girls.  This was a perfect example.  They put on a movie (after cleaning up 10,000 stuffies) and sat and watched it until it was about 3/4 of the way through.  Then they turned it off and went upstairs to play.  Like what?  Who watches 3/4 of a movie?  I mean it's not like they hadn't seen it before (it was Toy Story 2), but man.  Luckily I was trying to sit and read so it didn't really impact my life much.  And they did return to it maybe an hour later and watch the end.  I'm still amazed how quickly kids can be distracted, or get bored, by what they're doing.  Odd ducks, kids.

Lunch was fine - random stuff, you know.  Carrot sticks, cheese and crackers, bagels and cream cheese, eat what you feel like and then go play.

Afternoon play included craft time.  Which, for my kids, is just another excuse to make a huge mess.  And this was the time I decided to take a few minutes outside to check the build up of snow/ice/water that was falling from the sky.  I got soaked, they created chaos.  But then they cleaned up - without a fight.  I did hope Rose would practice her cutting skills - so she came upstairs while I was showering (after getting soaked outside) to tell me she made one cut in one piece of paper!  That's great Rose, but that won't improve your scissor skills.  Emma is the great crafter in our household.  Rose would rather just look at everything, make a huge mess, and then go find something else to do.  In this case it was have a freezie.

While I was in the shower (for 10 minutes, at the most) Rose came upstairs to talk to me.  "Look at what I have Mommy!" she says.  How does she know I'm right in the middle of washing my hair, with shampoo about to run into my eyes?  And she's not the most patient.  "LOOK MOM!"  So I peek out around the shower curtain.  Now I have to point out that I wear glasses.  I can barely see clearly past the end of my nose.  So I look out, see that a small figure is standing there holding something.  I say "Cool!  What'cha got there?" and she tells me "Emma got me a thing from the freezer!"  Huh?  "Oh, have you got a freezie?" I ask.  "No, there was none, so Emma said 'You can have a frozen yogurt tube, or you can have nothing.'"  That sounds like Emma.  So she was eating a frozen yogurt tube.  I have never had success getting her to try one.  She gobbled it down like it was candy (but not before managing to dribble some onto the couch - where they are not supposed to sit with food...)  Sisters, eh?

After crafts they asked for a 3D movie.  My first thought was that I didn't know what I needed to do to play a 3D movie.  We have the tv and the blu-ray player for it, but I was worried I'd need to actually do something.  Well worry not, the dohickeys all work together and it automatically works in 3D.  Yay!  The hardest part was finding where the 3D glasses were...

Of course the movie they picked for afternoon viewing was Toy Story 3.  This is my 'guaranteed to cry like crazy at the end' movie.  So didn't they wait until almost the end to ask me to sit with them and watch.  And since I spent a decent part of the day reading my book (in the same room as them but not really engaged) I had to do it.  And so I watched, and the tears came, and it was sweet like it always is.  Then I had to make dinner.

Despite the crazy weather Emma's dance class was still on.  Hubby got home at a good time, we ate dinner and off they went to dance class.  I was actually quite impressed with our day.  Almost all messes were cleaned up without much fuss, and no major meltdowns occurred.  I got some reading done, and a book review created.  Makes me feel like I could do this full-time parenting thing, once in a while.  The only thing the day was missing was a nap - for me!

Friday, 26 February 2016

First Product Review Coming - VoxBox

Fun news!  I've been approved to try out a VoxBox!  This box is a L'Oreal hair thing - something about hair colour.  Not sure yet what it really is, but I'm totally excited!

It looks like I'll be colouring my hair - not really a big deal.  My "28 washes" colour from October is still hanging around, although growing out quite nicely.  I'm curious how this will work - are they just sending me hair colour?  Do I get a choice of shades?  Guess I'll see what arrives in this VoxBox.

VoxBox is just a name this influencer company, Influenster, gives to its giveaway boxes.  They send you qualifying surveys to see if you fit with their products.  The one I did about hair colour was probably a month ago, so I had almost forgotten about it!

This is my first non-book review type thing.  I guess once I get the box and "check in" with it I get further instructions.  There's also a Twitter party to participate in (let's hope they pick some time when I'm actually home!) and a survey to do when I'm "finished."

Sounds interesting.  I don't know how long until the VoxBox gets here, but I'm sure it'll be soon.  They have a "days to complete" on my profile page so let's hope it's on its way!

Watch for my review of this L'Oreal product - with pictures!  I hope it works out okay for me.  And I hope this means I also get to try out other new products, between books I'm reading, of course!

Okay, enough rambling about this - now I wait and see.  Stay tuned to see what really shows up with the VoxBox, and what I really need to do.  Til next time!

~Jess

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Book Review: Mind Over Murder - A Jake Roberts Novel

*I was sent this book free of charge so I could read it and create this review*

Reading Cary Allan Stone's next instalment in the Jake Roberts series was more enjoyable than the first one.  The story flowed coherently, the characters were well rounded (bonus - I knew most of them from the previous book), and the third person switches were much easier to follow.

I really enjoyed this detective story.  Another book where you know what happened and who's committing the murders right from the beginning.  It was very enjoyable to follow Roberts along in his quest to figure out "whodunit."

I'm not sure if it's due to the author having more writing experience, but I had a much easier and enjoyable time reading this book.  There were still some comma placement issues, and a few areas where I had to read a sentence over again, but much better writing and grammar use in this story.

There are 2 more books that follow Jake Roberts - I have both to read yet and I'm looking forward to them!  Mr. Stone has created a great character (and he's killed off a few great characters too!) and I hope his next "situations" are as riveting as I found this one.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

My Disrupted 'Me Day'

Wednesdays are my day for me.  I'm (usually) home, husband and kid free, for most of the day.  I use this time to do laundry, sometimes tackle an organizing project or area of the house, do some other random cleaning (or baking!), and on a good day also throw in some exercise time.  Oh, and I have at least one show I watch recorded from earlier in the week that I catch up on on a Wednesday.

This has been my schedule for a while now.  When I'm home alone I feel like I can be so much more productive.  And now I schedule in blog stuff on Wednesdays as well.  I aim to create one post and do 2 hours of reading of books I've been asked to review.  Oh, and I try to sift through Twitter and FB feeds of other people (and blogs) I enjoy, as well as visiting my influencer-style websites I've joined.  My days are pretty full up now, I guess, after I see it all written out!

Anyway, this past Wednesday started out just fine.  I shovelled out the end of the driveway (with hubbys help) and then I came in and had ice cream for breakfast - with bananas so it wasn't a total fail! - while I watched my show.  After that I spent a few minutes online, browsing through Twitter and other blog-related pages, and half-assed watching another show on tv.  And then hubby came home.

It's not especially abnormal for him to come home occasionally during the day.  Sometimes he needs lunch, or he forgot something, or he just had a half hour to spare between jobs.  But this week he was HOME.  As in not going anywhere.  And it wasn't even lunch time!  I hadn't done anything (besides the hefty load of shovelling) but put some laundry in and watch some tv.  I thought I might go for a walk with the camera and see what snow-related beauty I could find. (Did I mention we'd had almost 50cms of snow the day before?)

So that disrupted my whole day.  I didn't know what to do.  Do I make him lunch, or go ahead and have that entire freezer pizza I'd planned to eat myself?  Should I pretend to look more busy than I was?  I don't think he knows how much stuff I do checking up on all my blog related sites and pages and influencer stuff.  It just looks like I'm wasting time on the net (which I'm sometimes doing too.)

And then he wants to talk to me.  I'm trying to be wife-y and sit near him while I'm reading my book and he's "working" on his computer - which I'll say looks to me like what I'm sure I look like to him when I'm trying to catch up on other people's blogs and stuff - but then he wants to talk.  Not saying I don't like talking to him, but I'm reading here!  And for reviews even, so can I just sit and read?

Then we get the call that Rose is not feeling well at school.  So we collect her and bring her home, but at least she then goes to bed and sleeps for an hour or more.  But now I feel my day is shot.  It's 2pm, I've only got one load of laundry through, we might as well meet Emma at the bus so we don't have to schlep over to daycare later to collect her, and I'm thinking about what time I should start dinner so it's ready to eat before we have to take miss Emma to dance class.

My saving grace was actually being the chauffeur parent, and taking Emma to her Wednesday night dance classes (for 2 hours!)  I managed to sit quietly with some other Moms also doing work and finish reading my book and create my review.  I even got a chapter into my next book!  My dance teacher and some of the ladies from the Monday night adult ballet class thought I should join them for the Wednesday adult ballet (which is a level above what I do on Mondays) but I'm not ready.  I do love to watch them though!

Moral of the story?  Don't put too much stock into alone time - it doesn't always work out like you hoped it would!  At least not when you're a parent.  I survived my day, and did feel accomplished at the end of it.  And it gave me fodder for a blog post - so win win!

Leave me a comment about your botched "me time" plans (or lack of plans), or just say hi so I know you read this to the end!  Thanks loyal readers.

~Jess

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Book Review: The Military Communications Unit

*I was sent this book free of charge so I could read it and create this review*

Gordon Smith approached me and asked if I'd read his work of Australian fiction.  Of course, I couldn't say no.  I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but I'm willing to try out any genre as a book reviewer.

The Ministry Communications Unit was an easy read.  The story layout was clear, the approach and flow was straightforward, and I felt like it really could have happened just the way it's written.

I did have a little confusion with the characters in the beginning as the character development was lacking in some areas.  A lot of names without a lot of backstory can create a tough environment to keep straight.  Eventually the names became more clear which allowed me to follow the story more smoothly.

This book evolves over a very long time span.  As it takes place during the second world war, we are quite invested in the characters over the time of the war and it seems quite natural to follow the characters to their logical endpoint.

The only real issue I had is the proofreading and/or editing is absent in this book.  There are misused commas and semicolons, as well as spelling mistakes and just wrong word usage and grammar mistakes.  I think this book would have benefited hugely by having a few other people read it to check for errors before it was published.

As a work of historical fiction I think The Ministry Communications Unit is a very successful story.  The plot is well conceived, the characters actions seem fitting for the time and the background of the war provides an easily researchable and acceptable scenario for this story.  With a little editing I would say this book could be extremely successful.

Kids And Responsibility - We Must Have Done Something Right

I never imagined, in my wildest dreams, how "good" my kids would turn out to be.  In the beginning I (almost) thought we had made a mistake choosing to birth out our first tiny creature that consumed every minute of our existence for the first 6 months of her life.  The non-stop crying and nursing (and sleepless nights, and mom tears) I now see were totally worth it.

My first baby is now 7 years old.  We have had tons of struggles with her in the intervening years, but I am now starting to see her blossoming into her own person with her own personality.  Not to say she hasn't had personality since she's been born (because she definitely has!) but she has begun to display more independent and responsible traits.


Since my first baby we did create and birth out a second creature, but she's only 4 and is still a bit stuck on her toddler traits (like how she never leaves me alone and is always in my lap!)  This creature number 2 was not nearly as demanding as number 1 - or not until the last 2 years or so.  Now the two seem to get along very well (most of the time) and apparently are "so good" when they're out with anyone else.  Frankly, that's the highest praise you can give a parent - if my kids are going to misbehave, I'd much rather they do it with me!

Anyway, back to the 7 year old.  She has now taken on the responsibility of looking after the 4 year old.  I don't mean that in any "child labour laws" way, just that if we are out and creature 2 suggests she has to go to the bathroom, number 1 immediately suggests she'll take her.  Sure!  I do go and check on them after a few minutes if they seem to be dawdling, but usually they go and come back, and sometimes they've even washed their hands!

Creature one also takes direction very well.  She listens when I tell her the "rules" of a new place or scenario (and promptly tells when creature two is not following those rules), looks after her sister when they need to cross the road (or are in a parking lot), and has really learned to help re-direct a game when bossy little sis is mad about the way they're playing.

I'm not saying that my little miss #2 doesn't listen to rules and such, she's just very young yet and doesn't necessarily understand the importance of having these rules.

Every day I'm feeling more confident in creature one's level of responsibility.  She can can be bull-headed and easily distracted, and when she digs in her heels, watch out!  But overall I'm glad she's the first born.  I'm sure my second born will be more responsible and independent over the coming years, but she's also more easily scared, and more emotional than my first.  I think that's where creature two's clingyness stems from - she's a lover, but can also be a fighter.

Raising kids is such a roller coaster.  Every day is different, and sometimes it's hard to enjoy every minute of it.  I don't think I will ever lose my "mom anxiety" but I'm happy to report it does lessen as the years go by.  My next hefty mom anxiety time will be with dating and driving and all those other teenage year joys.

~Jess

Monday, 15 February 2016

Book Review: After The Evil - A Jake Roberts Novel

*I was sent this book free of charge so I could read it and create this review*

Cary Allen Stone has created a series of books around a character named Jake Roberts.  This is the first book in this series.  Cary sent me all 4 books in this series but asked for them to be reviewed separately.  Definitely not a problem for me as I have a few other authors waiting to be read as well - I can intersperse his novels with theirs.

The story of After the Evil is a police drama.  Not quite a murder mystery because you know who's doing it right from the first page.  But the story plays out about how you'd expect.

I had a very hard time getting "into" this book.  There was quite a bit of jumping from one character to another, and it was sometimes tough to realize who was speaking (or thinking.)  As the novel progressed, the scattered feeling dissipated so the storyline was easier to follow.

Another minor problem that detracted from the story was the punctuation and editing of the sentences and paragraphs.  Often times commas were incorrectly placed, opening or closing quotations were missed in spots and and other grammar items (contractions etc) were not used in the correct context.  Unfortunately all the grammar errors contributed to my not enjoying this story as much as I could have.  I had to re-read parts of some paragraphs just to figure out what was meant, when all it needed was a little editing.

Overall (once I got past the grammar issues) I thought the story was well thought out, and well executed.  The characters were interesting, the plot flowed quite smoothly and the end leaves you wanting more.  Good thing, since there are 3 more books in this series!

I'm looking forward to reading the next stories, and now that I know the editing could be a bit better I can try to gloss over the errors to get to the great storyline.  I look forward to seeing what Cary Allen Stone has in store for Jake Roberts next.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Cold Days, Cabin Fever and Reading, Reading, Reading

It's February.  It's cold (at least this weekend).  I'm suffering from Cabin Fever.

Yes, my birthday is in February, but that was 11 days ago - ancient history.  Yes, Valentine's Day is tomorrow but we "celebrated" yesterday (dinner and movie) - almost ancient history also.  Yes, there's a holiday this Monday - seems too far away to think about.

Today the "high" temp didn't even reach -20C.  The kids asked to go outside to play and I had to say no.  "Maybe tomorrow or Monday" I told them.  I hope that's the truth.

This time of year I start to yearn for the garden, for the kids to just "go outside" without 15 minutes of preparation, and for the days of hanging out the laundry - although I did this last week during the unseasonably warm spell.

I'm creating my own "isolation" by saying yes to reading all these books for review.  And also by trying to stay warm, indoors.  Hubby took the girls to a movie this afternoon and I spent 2 hours reading.  Finished one book and created a review (yet to be published) and got 1/3 of the way through the next book.

Sadly I'm having trouble with these few books.  The editing is sub-par and they have a lot of grammar mistakes.  It's almost impossible for me to read "over" grammar mistakes.  I desperately want to correct them.  I have to practically turn off that side of my mind, but then reading is not as fun.

Anyway, the family is home, Rose is clamouring to be in my lap, and the laundry is in various stages of being done.  Oh, and dinner time is approaching.  I guess I'll make something delicious and healthy that no one will eat - that seems to be the norm these days too!

Enough Mom-griping.  I think the Groundhogs didn't see their shadows this year so spring must be on the way, right?  Until then I'd like some ideas of stuff to do, inside, to ward off these cabin fever feelings I'm hating having right now.  So share with me in the comments, would ya?

~Jess

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Blog Update - 9 Months In

Today's post is just a "what's up with me" post.

My blogging and social media world is going pretty well right now.  I feel like I have some "regular" readers (besides my family), my Twitter following is growing well (almost 1000 followers!), and I'm getting some more likes on my Facebook page.  This is all very exciting for me.

I've had lots of interest in my book review side of this "business."  So much, in fact, that I'm starting to feel a little pressure there.  And right now I'm reading a book that I'm having trouble with.  I can't get into this book and I really don't want to have to write a negative review.  I'm so not a negative person!  I can only hope that setting aside some time this afternoon to really give this book my full attention will help me enjoy it better...

And on the topic of book reviews, I've been approached by a website which wants to list me as a "reviewer resource" for his authors.  I was asked how much I charge for a review, so I had to come up with something appropriate.  I was actually glad to give a dollar figure as this is getting quite time consuming.  Once (if?) this gets up and running I'm going to have to start paying attention to this blogging stuff as an income source. (Which is what I was hoping would happen from the get-go!)

Something else of interest (I hope!) that happened to me in relation to my blog: My dance teacher asked me if I'd blog for them!  I said "Get me the details!" so now I'm waiting to hear what exactly they want.  I also sent an email to ask if I'm volunteering this service (which is likely, and totally fine with me) or if I could blog in trade for some free dance classes.  The blog will be either at the Kingston School of Dance website or the Tett Centre's website - or maybe both.  Stay tuned to find out how this plays out!

I've joined an influencer website and I'm finally seeing the potential as far as being able to review items.  I've gotten a few email links to follow and answer some questions about whether they'd like me try out items (sent to me at no charge) and then review them.  Similar to what I'm doing with the book reviews.  The last email I got sent me to a questionnaire about hair dye and whether I'd be willing to try out some hair colour and review it.  I said sure!  My hair colour from October could use some sprucing up.  I may have to join up with Instragram to share my photos of such experiments, but I'll deal with that later if I have to.

If anyone reading this is interested in helping me get further along with doing reviews or anything else that fits my "niche" my email is iamjess@gmail.com and I'm open to collaborating with or for any brands, other bloggers or similar.  I like to think I'm pretty friendly and flexible, and I try to check that email at least twice a day so I can stay on top of all my blog-related things!

Thanks for reading today's update.  I want this blog to stay as transparent as possible.  If there's anything you'd like to know about what I do (or don't do) please leave a comment or send an email.  And if you have a line on another influencer site or brand or anything I can join up with to further my blog "business" you can leave that in a comment as well.

Until next time!
~Jess

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Book Review: Wreck of the Gossamer

*I was sent this book free of charge so I could read it and create this review*

True to it's name Wreck of the Gossamer is the story of a shipwreck which takes place just off Cape Cod in the late 1800s.  Shawn P. McCarthy paints a vivid picture of a ship tossed by storms on the open sea.  It's what happens after the shipwreck that is the main content of this 202 page story.

A young lady discovers a puzzle box washed ashore amongst the wreckage, and by the end of this book she's only discovered a few of the boxes 27 secrets.  She has a few secrets of her own, and the end of this book sees her fleeing an abusive husband.

A man, a thief and a killer, is hunting down items that may have washed ashore from the Gossamer.  He frequents the bars and taverns near to where the wreck occurred, hoping to glean information from the locals about the folks on the boat and what may have been recovered from the sea.

Wreck of the Gossamer is the first in a series: The Puzzle Box Chronicles.  As Book 1 it fulfils it's niche as an introduction to some characters and creates some storylines I'm sure must connect as the Chronicles go forward.  I'm intensely curious what happens to the characters in the next instalment.

This book was a fairly quick read for me, It wasn't one I really needed to sit and concentrate on, so reading a few minutes here and there was great.  Some stories I've read really need my full attention because there are so many characters or such an involved plot.  This book has a very good plot but it also very easy to follow.

A good bit of mystery keeps the reader interested and involved in Wreck of the Gossamer.  I recommend it, especially if the next instalments are close at hand!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Primary Parenting or How Jobs Fall In Our House

My husband thinks, in our household, there's no such thing as a "primary parent."  I see what he's thinking but I'm convinced that's a natural thing, and no matter how you try there is always a primary parent.  I do think that the primary parent can change at any point - daily, seasonally, or even from morning to evening.

Of course I consider myself the "primary parent" most of the time.  Honestly this is just because I am at home the most.  I feel that parenting also encompasses household tasks.  We have pretty defined "pink" and "blue" jobs (please don't be offended, someone explained them to me this way I thought it was so fitting, if a little stereotypical) in our home.

My "pink" jobs are the laundry, the tidying up (after the kids mostly), and more than half of the meal prep.  His "blue" jobs are putting out the garbage, looking after the cars and the house, and mowing the lawn.  We both can, and do, perform all these tasks, but typically this is how they fall.

In my opinion my jobs are a bit more kid-centric while his are less so.  Doesn't make me a better parent then him - just makes me the one the kids ask for: food items, clothing locating, and any other "where is my..." question.  I'm happy to do those jobs, and sometimes be able to answer those questions.

His jobs allow the kids to "help" him - clean up the yard, tidy the basement (tools and stuff), and carry the recycling bins.  Still equally able to spend time with the kids doing these things, but less likely the kids will ask to take out the garbage, you know?

Dad, though, is also the one who takes them "shopping" the most.  I don't go "shopping" unless I have to.  Groceries are enough for me.  Hubby likes going out and happily lets the girls follow him through Canadian Tire or Home Depot looking at whatever they want.  And apparently he enjoys it and doesn't feel like it's "work" trying to keep track of the kids in a big store when they just stop without saying anything, or wander down aisles when you're busily trying to find either what you're looking for, or someone to help you find what you're looking for.  That's not fun for me.  The kids like to hide, and not listen to me.  This does not help me get my jobs done quickly and efficiently.

And in my home, when it comes to bedtimes I'm still the first choice.  That helps me feel like I'm the primary parent.  Occasionally Rose will ask for Daddy to put her to bed, and I love that!  But mostly the story reading is all me.  I'm secretly sad when I don't get to put them to bed.  But also elated that someone else (Dad or babysitter) can get the job done well in my absence.

I mostly like feeling like the primary parent, but sometimes I just need to hand over the reigns, you know?  I don't want to do it all (and I don't.)  When the kids are constantly asking for "MOM!" I almost lose it.  This is why I started taking ballet class once a week - gives me a break from bedtimes and other "primary parent" duties, and allows hubby a different connection with the girls.

How do the jobs fall in your house?  Do you feel you suffer from "primary parent" syndrome in your house as well?  I'm always interested to hear other's stories, so leave me a comment!

~Jess

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Book Review: The Dragon Throne by Chrys Cymri

*I was sent this book free of charge so I could read it and create this review*

This is the first book which arrived at my home after I signed up on Tweet My Books.  I've had many, many emails asking me to review books, but so many of them only have e-books available.  As I've said before I'm a physical book person.  So I was glad to see this arrive in my mailbox.

I love fantasy stories.  My first "favourite" author was Terry Brooks (and he's still a favourite), and he wrote epic tales that I loved to get lost in when I was a young teenager.  Or even a "tween" (that's what pre-teens are called now, right?)

When Chrys approached me and suggested she had a fantasy novel that needed reviewing I was very glad to say yes.  And this story did not disappoint.

The Dragon Throne was an easy read, with good character development.  I got to know all the characters well shortly after they were introduced.  My only complaint was that it was a little unclear at the beginning that there were four kingdoms in this land that Chrys created.  I was about a third of the way through the book before I realized I wasn't following that part clearly.  However, a closer glance at the cover of the book revealed a subtitle: The Four Kingdoms Book One.  Oops, looks like that's on me!

If you like fantastic stories, this one has all the necessary components: dragons, unicorns, and a few kingdoms almost on the brink of war.  I'll be honest, at first I thought the unicorns were going to be a silly side story, but it really all tied together.  Unlikely allies are made, strange discoveries await the characters, and it leaves the reader satisfied but still curious as to what comes next.  In fact when I'm done here I think I'll send Chrys a message and see if I can review the next in this line (assuming it's a done deal already.)

Long story short - good fantasy story with mildly complicated plot lines that resolve this portion of the story while leaving you wanting to read more of these characters.  The book has 212 pages and this busy working mom read it in a week.  Chapters are long, but with those nice "space breaks" so you can pause in the middle of a chapter if you need to.

Great book!  

I'm posting a review also on Goodreads and Amazon

My Musings On Reviewing Books

I've finished reading the first book I received after joining up with Tweet Your Books.  I've had many more people approach me to do reviews, but only one other has already mailed me his books.  E-books are the most popular form offered to do reviews on, but I don't like to read on my electronic devices.  Guess I'm a bit old fashioned!

I also feel like authors don't create physical copies of their books for "testing" purposes.  As a reviewer who has to make time in my life to read the books with my full attention (as opposed to skimming it while kids are talking non-stop in the background) I don't like thinking that the authors don't value my time.  By that I mean that a physical copy of a book has to be created and then mailed (which costs a few pennies, I'm sure) while an e-book doesn't cost anything anywhere along the way.  I'd like to think my time is worth something, so I give priority to authors who are willing to send me a book I can sneak away and read in a quiet corner of my home.

To my fellow readers - there will be more book reviews appearing on my blog.  I hope to keep them well interspersed with my other posts and musings of the world around me.  I'm also reaching out as an influencer so I may be chosen for other reviews (products maybe) which I will also enjoy writing about.  I will always let you know if I'm being paid to talk about an item, or reviewing products I received for free.

Please let me know if you feel I'm doing too many "review" posts and not enough "personal" style posts.  I want to create content people are enjoying, so feedback is really important for me!

In case you aren't aware I do have two other blogs that I post to less frequently than this one.  One is Kingston, Ontario centric - talking about what's on around town and/or what we are about to (are already did) do as family activities.  That one is Modern Mom In Kingston.  The other blog reflects more about my daughters.  What they're doing, how they're growing and changing, and a little about Emma's modelling and acting "career" (where nothing has really happened yet...)  That blog is 2 Talented Daughters.

As always - thanks for reading.  My next post will be a book review but I have few half-formed ideas for other posts floating through my brain as well.  Stay tuned!

~Jess

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Work, Family, and Covering Vacations

This week (Tues til next Tues) my co-hort and fellow pharmacy technician is off for a vacation.  I'm very excited - and jealous - that she's getting away and taking time off and all that, but I'm not looking forward to the extra work that means for me.

If anyone out there reads me faithfully you know I take Wednesdays off - a hold over from when I used to work every other Saturday.  I liked the day off in the week so much that once I got away from working Saturdays I just kept the Wednesdays off as well.  It's been working so far.

Tomorrow, being Wednesday, would be my "catch up" and sometimes "me time" day.  This week, not so much.  As I said at work today: "It's no skin off my nose to work extra once in a while."  I stand by this statement but it doesn't mean I have to enjoy it fully.

We actually have a great work environment at the store - my co-hort and I have the more "tedious" tasks divided up fairly equally and we alternate "jobs" pretty well so it works for us.  Before she left we did a bit more intense work so there wouldn't be so much for me to try to stay on top of while she was away.

It's going to run very smoothly, of this I have no doubt.  Today was a bit hectic as there was a very time-consuming task that took one of the pharmacists away from the regular work for more than an hour.  That got us behind a bit, but we persevered.  I definitely felt the strain though.  When I'm leaving at 5 I want the people who have to stay that last hour to not have to catch up my tasks I didn't get to, you know?  Usually one of us is there until close so it's not an issue.

In a normal week I can get the kids to the bus 3 mornings without feeling rushed because I either don't go to work (Wednesdays) or I don't start until 9:30.  That's not in the cards until next Wednesday.  I can already feel the morning strain - especially if I want to sneak in a shower before work!

The girls get on the bus about 7:45 and I have to leave at 8 for the "early" shift.  But there is no way I can get them up earlier so I can, say, start their breakfast sooner so I can jump in that shower for 15 mins while they're eating.  They're not ready yet to get seconds or get another glass of milk themselves.  The kids are pretty time consuming.  Even when I'm not on "primary morning parent" duty they still can't get through 15 minutes without asking me for something while I'm in the shower.

I'm going to miss my quiet Wednesday tomorrow.  But the day will fly by, and luckily it's off week for dance (me and the girls) so there's one less stress - Emma doesn't have to be ready to leave for dance class at 5:30, which is the time I get home from work.

I've got a bet with myself as to which night I crack into a bottle of wine the minute I get in the door.  I'm thinking I can hold out til Friday (that's normal wine drinking day, isn't it?) but I almost uncorked a bottle tonight.  It might also depend upon how much fighting goes on with the kids over the week as well.  Tonight was all right - dinner was in the oven when I got home!  That was a splendid surprise, although the part where the furnace wasn't working quite right detracted a little from the excitement of not having to prepare dinner.

For the next week I have to remember to stop and take a breath.  If I don't get every little thing done it's not the end of the world - in fact it'll be there for me to do tomorrow.

Any tips or tricks for staying relaxed at work?  Share, please, in the comments.  Or just comment so I know you stopped by.  And thanks for reading!

~Jess