Tablets

Some of you may have known that I purchased an iPad 2 last month. I have to tell you that once you have a tablet you can never go back to not owning one. I personally chose the iPad because I am an iPhone fan and an iPad would just be natural for me to use. In my opinion, the apps are still the best on iOS but I am sure that there are some good apps out there for Android and the Playbook.

I think it is awesome that I can use my iPad instead of my laptop most of the time when I am at home with my wifi. I can even connect to my work PC by using VPN on the iPad and then remote desktop. That is just so fantastic that I can just switch on my tablet and be able to connect without starting up my computer with minimal loading time.

Right now I am actually typing this post in the WordPress app on the iPad. I have done this before on the iPhone as well but typing on a larger screen resolution than my phone is just so much better.

I am also really liking some of the photo editing apps on my iPad. I just paid $4.99 for the Snapseed app 2 days ago and I am loving it. If I wanted similar photo software on my PC I would probably have to pay at least $30 for the filters.

Anyhow, I think that the future in computing will be the movement towards tablet devices and less of laptops or PCs. I can even plug in a Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad and use my tablet with a netbook-like feel (without mouse though). I am definitely planning to get an external keyboard sometime.

I wish I could have gotten my hands on one of those $100 discounted HP Touchpad. I would definitely recommend tablets as a productivity tool.

To end off, below are some of the pictures I have edited with Snapseed on the iPad. It may seem like a lot to pay $5 for an app but if you think about that is less than the cost of eating out for lunch. The last picture was taken and edited with the iPad. Not too shabby right?

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PNE

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We have attended the PNE every year for as long as I can remember (last year was the only exception though since we had a new baby). I even remember going to the PNE when my first son was about 3 months old and we would carry him around in the baby carrier. We probably would have gone last year if the “free admission” day wasn’t on Sunday.

Anyhow, we went on opening day Saturday and surprisingly it was not too crowded. Still a lot of people but not as busy as it has been in the past (maybe that is because we have usually gone on the free admission days!).

The boys had a good time of just strolling around the fair grounds and of course enjoyed all that food at the fair! When I think of the PNE I usually think of junk food like corn dogs, fish and chips, hot dogs, wiggle chips, fried donuts, cotton candy, candied apples, funnel cakes, whale’s tails, and everything else deep fried. Let me tell you this, the PNE is definitely not a good place to visit if you are on a diet. We ate calamari, fish and chips, garlic fries, cotton candy, a whale’s tail, and a slushy. Way too much deep fried and sugary items. Oh well, you have to indulge at the fair otherwise it just isn’t fun. I guess I will be eating salads for the rest of the week.

Some of the activities that we did (besides eating all the time) were:

  • We ate lunch by the water fountain area. The kiddies loved walking in the fountain bare-footed (in fact, both of them didn’t want to leave and we had to drag them away so that we could visit the rest of the fair grounds).
  • We visited the barn (children just love the farm animals).
  • We watched the Superdogs show. Sometimes I want to train my dog to do tricks like that. Dogs are such amazing animals.
  • Big J went on a couple of Playland rides in the Kidzone area. He rode a boat and a car. He said he really enjoyed the rides.
  • Big J played a fishing game and won a stuffed penguin. For some reason he picked the bright pink one.
  • We walked inside the Marketplace. We always go there to check out the products. Nothing too exciting this year. I did like the Zoku popsicle makers but they were ridiculously expensive at $75 to make 3 pops at a time.

The PNE is definitely a fun day for the family. We definitely plan to make this an annual event. Have you been to the fair yet this summer?

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What’s in Your Purse & a Coach Wristlet Giveaway!

Being a woman and a mother these are my 5 “must-have” items in my purse:

  • Lip Balm or Lip Gloss - Something to moisturize the lips is a must.
  • iPhone - Let’s face it. I cannot live without my iPhone. It also works great to entertain my kids if I need a distraction for them (I know some of you are thinking “bad mommy” for letting your kids play with your smartphone. Well my kids are tech kids and they don’t always respond to traditional toys.)
  • Wallet & Keys - OK that is 2 items but they are necessities for obvious reasons (cash, credit cards, bus pass, locking the house)
  • Chewing Gum - Sometimes I like ordering the dish with the garlic or the onions.
  • Wysi Wipes - These are one of the greatest inventions ever. It is a biodegradable disposable wipe. They come in a small round pellet and expand when you soak them in water. They are fantastic at wiping up those yucky messes my kids make and when I am done with them I just toss them like a napkin.

So why am I sharing my “must-have” items in this post? Well because I am actually having my first blog giveaway ever! What am I giving away? A free Coach Wristlet for participating in the contest.

Abreva is sponsoring this post and has offered a free Coach Wristlet to one of my blog readers. Just a little bit of background, Abreva is a cold sore medicine and I do personally occasionally suffer from cold sores. When I do, I always keep a small tube of Abreva handy in my purse and reapply the ointment often to speed up the healing of the cold sore. I find that it works better than even the prescription ointment that my doctor usually prescribes for me. Cold sores are embarrassing so Abreva definitely helps keep the healing period to a minimum compared to other over-the-counter brands of cold sore medicine.

I also want to encourage you to visit the Abreva website www.abreva.ca to get your free $5 off coupon between August 15 and September 2 (they have limited quantities of the coupon so act fast!).

So how do you enter the Coach Wristlet contest? Simply comment on this post with 5 of your “must-have” items in your purse and you will be entered for the giveaway. Also leave me an email address where I can contact you should you be the winner. Contest closes on September 2. I will randomly choose a winner after September 2 and post the winner on my blog.

The contest is open to Canadian residents only. (Sorry my non Canadian friends but Abreva can only ship to Canadian addresses.)

What are you waiting for? Go comment and enter the giveaway now! Good luck :) .

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Disclosure – I am participating in the ABREVA program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline. I received a Coach wristlet as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Little J Pushes Big J in Stroller

My kids are hilarious.

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Harrison Hot Springs

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We survived our first road trip with the boys this long weekend. We did not initially plan to go away over the BC day long weekend however one of my co-workers had mentioned about his recent trip to Harrison Hot Springs with his 2 kids and that kind of sparked an interest when I brought it up with the husband. The last time we traveled with our 2 kids was when our little j was just 6 months old and we flew to Hawaii without much extra help. I won’t go over that trip again as it was definitely a challenging one with an infant, and therefore thinking about traveling again with my children wasn’t something I was too keen about. However, now that my little one is over 1 years old, it certainly made it easier this time around (and the fact that it was somewhat of a short car ride of 2 hours to get to our destination).

We left Vancouver city for Harrison’s on Saturday morning and arrived about 2 hours later. It would have been sooner if we did not run into traffic but what do you expect over a long weekend when everybody wants to get out of town?

Here is a summary of our activities during this fun little road trip:

Day 1

  • Lunch at Lakeview Restaurant. Small little family-owned restaurant. The food is decent (diner food) but the waitress is exceptionally friendly and helpful. We think she’s been working there for years (last time we went 4+ years ago she was already working there).
  • Check-in at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. They have 5 pools there which are filled with mineral water. Our room was pretty decent and clean.
  • Hang out at the beach. The boys just enjoyed playing in the sand. My oldest son liked going dipping in the shallow lake.
  • Dinner at Black Forest Restaurant. We had meatloaf and Schnitzel. The Schnitzel was good but the meatloaf was salty. The service was mediocre.
  • Ice cream at the Green Star Cafe from the Harrison Village Mall. We always seem to go there for ice cream in Harrison’s. They have delicious cherry ice cream.
  • Sleepy time for the kids.

Lakeview Restaurant

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Vienna Schnitzel

Day 2

  • Breakfast at Lakeview Restaurant.
  • Hangout at the pool. The outdoor family pool is heated to 26 C. So even though it rained this day, we didn’t worry about being cold outside. Just needed to quickly warm up with a dry towel once you got out of the pool though.
  • Lunch at Harrison Pizza. Small little shop with homemade pizza and pasta. We tried the Harrison pizza and it was very tasty. The kids liked it. The owner of the shop is really friendly and this is a good place for families.
  • Nap for little j and more pool time for big j.
  • We rode a 4-person bicycle from Jamie’s Quadracycle Rentals. We strapped the kids to the front and the husband and I pedaled the bike from the back. Big j enjoyed the ride, and little j got a bit overwhelmed when the sun and the wind started getting into his eyes. We only rode for 30 minutes but it was fun. Worth a try if you haven’t tried this before. (I wish I had taken a picture of all of us in that quadracycle. But the husband did take a video with his iPhone while we rode with the kids.)
  • Dinner at Morgan’s restaurant. Food is pretty tasty but is somewhat pricey ($25-30 per entree).
  • Ice cream from Chantilly’s. We tried Aloha surprise (reminds me of Hawaii!), black forest, and blueberry sorbet. All were very yummy.
  • Sleepy time for the kids.

Breakfast

He Built a Tower

Boys at the Pool

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Bikes

Mussels & Clams Appetizer

Chantilly Gelato

Day 3

  • Breakfast from the coffee shop inside the hotel. We ate our food in the hotel lobby. I think little j made a mess there (whoops).
  • Hangout at the pool. More pool time at the family pool. Might as well take advantage of that mineral water.
  • Hangout at the beach. One last time before we head home.
  • Quick lunch. We ate a wrap, a calzone, and chicken noodle soup.
  • Drive home to Vancouver.

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What I really enjoyed about the trip was just the time spent with my 2 little boys and my husband. Sometimes it is hard to believe that we have our own little family now. It was nice to see my boys have such a good time hanging out with each other and just enjoying the beach and the pool. Also, it was just nice to get away from the city. Even though the town of Harrison’s isn’t too big it was a delightful short road trip. As mentioned before, I didn’t know what to expect traveling with my 2 boys again but this time around it was much more enjoyable. Probably due to the fact that my little one isn’t so little anymore (they grow so fast!).

Well, now I am looking forward to more family trips again. It is still a challenge packing and traveling with children (you have to plan so much!) but hopefully we get better at it each time we try it.

P.S. Check out my Flickr set to see the rest of the pictures from the trip.

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Summer is Here

Well, we officially have summer weather here in Vancouver. It’s about time.

Last weekend was Canada Day long weekend for us folks in Canada. It was so nice spending time with the kids (and husband of course). Now that I am back at work full time, I really do appreciate my weekends. The hardest thing about being at work full time is that I get to see so little of my kids during the weekdays. I see them briefly in the morning and then I am in a mad rush to get to work. Then I rush home to see them for about an hour or two and then they go to sleep. I do appreciate my “down” time at home when the kids are asleep but I do miss spending time with them during days. They change and grow so much every day!

So back to the topic of the weekend, we spent Canada Day at Canada Place. We usually head out to Granville Island on Canada Day but this year we decided to head out to Canada Place since we read on the internet there would be events there. It was definitely worth the trip. We took the skytrain downtown (the kiddies enjoy the skytrain anyway) and it was fun checking out the festivities. It reminded me of the Olympic period back in February 2010. We definitely plan to go again next year!

Kids with Olympic Cauldron

Then on Saturday we decided to head down to Jericho beach. My oldest son loves the beach so we knew it’d be a hit with him. What we weren’t so sure of was how our youngest son would react. When we took him to the beach when he was a baby, he didn’t really enjoy it but now that he’s older he seems to enjoy playing in the sand and getting his feet wet from the water. I think we were relieved to discover that he does indeed like the beach because we (my husband, oldest son, and I) are definitely beach lovers! It was such beautiful weather. We also were able to enjoy low tide that day (the kids liked waddling in the shallow water by the shore). It did take a lot of planning when you bring along 2 kids to the beach. Everything from food, snacks, beach chairs, beach tent, spare clothes, sunscreen, sand toys, umbrella, etc. Anyhow, we’ll definitely be heading out to the beach more often this summer. So grateful that we live in a city where the beach is such a short drive away from home. It isn’t as breathtaking as Hawaii, but still pretty darn good.

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I am hoping the good weather will stick around for a while.

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A Safari Birthday Party

Both of my sons are born in the month of May. Since their birthdays are fairly close, we decided on a joint birthday party this year (my oldest one turned 4 and my youngest one turned 1). And of course, we always need a theme for a birthday party! We decided on a Safari animal theme since it was appropriate for both a baby and also a preschooler.

Below are some of the pictures from the party.

Birthday Banner

Safari Passports

Goodie Bags

Paper Banner

Balloons

Chocolate Cake

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It was fun but also a lot of effort to plan for this party. Mostly because I am an ambitious mother and had this grand vision of the kids doing all these fun activities, however during the course of the event the children just entertained themselves and I really should not have spent so much time thinking and planning activities for them (because little kids don’t follow rules you know?).

I had this vision of the kids coming into our house and they would be welcomed with a greeter which would take an instant picture of the kids (with my Fujifilm Instax camera that I purchased online) with the backdrop of our plants in our annex. Then the kids would pick out a Safari booklet that they could keep and place their instant picture inside – like a real passport. And then, the kids could fill out their info inside the booklets and also collect stamps by going around the stations that were set up. We had some games set up, but the kids weren’t really interested in them. We also had a craft area setup and luckily that was pretty popular with mostly the girls. The crafts were of course safari animal related. The instant pictures were kind of fun and I wish I had taken some pictures with the instant pictures installed inside the passport booklet (oh well!).

Here are some of my resources:

  • The animal scrapbooking decorations were custom made by Cute Cards (thanks Gloria!). That would be the paper birthday banner and the Safari Passport covers. I also had some cupcake toppers made, but I ended up not using them (we had small cupcakes which didn’t really work with the cupcake toppers – I’ll save them for something else).
  • Custom stamp for the passport booklets from Etsy.
  • I made the goodie bags with fabrics from the Alexander Henry 2D Zoo collection and I used this online tutorial.
  • Safari-themed balloons were purchased from Splash Toys.
  • Animal cake toppers are from Wilton.

Some of the items inside the goodie bags:

  • Animalz wooden toys
  • Safari animal temporary tattoos
  • Animal finger puppets (for the young kids)
  • Small Play-Doh tubs (for the bigger kids)
  • Candy!

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Safari Finger Puppets

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading!

P.S. I am officially back at work now. My boys and I are slowly adjusting but I am glad to announce that it is good to be working again. Yay for mental stimulation and for more income! :)

P.P.S. Today is my 8 year wedding anniversary. Crazy how much has happened within the last 8 years. 1 dog, 2 kids, 1 house, 1 car… 3 jobs for the hubby and the same job for me!

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This Is It

Well, tomorrow is my last day of mat leave. Then I officially start working again on Wednesday. Wow, time flies.

It is somewhat of a bittersweet end though as it was different being off work with 2 kids and with more help (my mom and nanny around). But I have to admit that I am definitely ready to go back to work. Kind of looking forward to being away from the kids for a bit. Although I bet you that I will start feeling guilty for being at work and not being at home once I am back in the office. But I know the type of person that I am and I am the type that NEEDS to work.

Now, I might start to whine and complain but I find that even in today’s modern society, us women have it much harder than the men when it comes to parenting. Yes, I know that some of you men out there do help out at home and do a lot with the kids, chores, etc. But for the most part, you have to admit that it is the women who still the bulk of the work at home. So not only do some of us have to work a full day at our regular job, but we also have to work harder when we get home and face the kids and the chores.

So as mother, I find myself busy all the time with always more to do. Whether it be preparing the food for the baby, or sewing something for the kids, or shopping online for the kids. Everything seems to revolve around my children these days. Maybe it’s that motherly instinct that us women have. It’s always about the children. And when the kids are down for sleep at night, sure I have a bit of “me” time, but I find myself mostly doing stuff for them anyway. Because if I don’t do it, who else will?

I understand that men work hard at their work and when they come home they need to “wind down” but I just don’t empathize with that when all they do is watch TV and zone out until they go to bed. For me, whenever I am watching TV I feel like it is a waste of time and I just want to get on my feet and do something else. So most of the time, when I am watching TV I am multi-tasking and doing something else at the same time (on the computer emailing, cooking for the kids, prepping for other projects, etc.). But maybe that’s me. I just constantly need to be “doing” something and feeling productive or I am uncomfortable just sitting still. Perhaps I should though. Just do nothing for a day. But that would be impossible for me to do that. Do you know how much catch up I would have to do the day after?

So right now, I’ll be honest with you but I feel under appreciated as a mother and what I do for my children. Nobody will understand this feeling other than another mother. Anyhow, I need to sleep. One more day with the kiddies and then back to work. I hope I can survive without mid-day naps.

P.S. Been busy party planning for my kids birthday party this weekend. I guess this is something I take upon myself (I do like to plan for parties) but I hope the kids will enjoy the event. I’ll post an entry of the recap after the party. So it should be a more enjoyable post to read (no more whining – I promise!).

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Spring is Here

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Looks like spring is finally kicking in over here. The weather has been still kind of wacky (we even had snow last week!) but at least things are starting to look green around here and once in a while we get some warm sunshine when it is not raining.

I love living in Vancouver because one of the most beautiful things about this city are the cherry blossoms during spring time. It is just so magnificent seeing pretty pink blossoms all over town. How I wish to someday live in a house with a cherry blossom tree (or maybe I should one day plant one)!

A few weeks ago, my oldest son and I planted some grass seeds inside egg shells (see this post from last year). This is such a gratifying thing to do with a young child as you can see the results pretty fast! The grass started growing about a 2-3 of days after we planted them.

Once the “hair” of our eggheads got pretty long, my son then gave them a hair trim. Such a fun and inexpensive activity for the kids. I think this is an activity we might try to do every year as it teaches children how to care for plants and how to wait patiently for them to grow.

Cutting the hair on our eggheads

Speaking of hair, I finally got my haircut today. I really should get my hair cut more frequently but the difficult thing about going to the hair stylist is trying to make the time to go without the kids. Now my youngest son cannot pull on my hair anymore (well at least not as easy as before)! I also think my oldest son kind of preferred my longer hair, but I am just not the type of person who can do “long” hair.

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This will be my last month of maternity leave with the boys. Kind of sad but kind of glad to be going back to work. I am trying to enjoy every last moment of it these days. I hope I don’t cry when I am at work thinking about my boys! Thinking about it makes me emotional already.

I also have a big birthday party to plan for in May. Both of my boys are born in May. We decided on a joint party this year and so my oldest son will be turning 4 and my youngest boy will be turning 1. It is going to be a safari themed party. I have been busy planning it already… buying and ordering supplies. Stay tuned for pictures in a future post.

I have also been busy sewing a few items here and there. Perhaps I will also post about my projects in another post sometime later… Anyhow, I should finish one of my many unfinished sewing projects. Bye for now.

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Smartphones & Geo-tagging

I posted an entry about the dangers of geo-tagging on smartphones (like iPhones) on my other blog. Please read it if you can.

http://iamghislaine.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/geo-tagging/

All parents should read this in my opinion.

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