Dec 4, 2009

Cheap & Cheerful Christmas Decorating

I read a great post by Simply Frugal today about decorating for Christmas on a budget. There were some fun creative ideas for using items in a new way to create a holiday feeling in your home.

Since I have always loved Christmas, the kind of love that requires 8 large tupperware containers full of Christmas Crap, I thought I would share some of my budget saver decorating ideas too. I have been a SAHM for almost 3 years now so the days of splurging are few and far between, but that doesn't mean that I can't find ways to deck the halls (and splurge on a few things).


I went to Michaels, the girl's version of a hardware store...I head in for one thing and come out with a shopping cart full...and I grabbed some Christmas scrapbook paper. I used the frames I already had in our living room, picked my favourite coordinating patterns and grouped them together:

I also hung these two:



This is the only time you will hear me say those words. I'm talking plants of course. They 'live' forever, look great and are no maintenance. I bought these three at Ikea with the red pots. I replaced the candles in my lanterns and my beachy room is now Christmafied. Ignore my reflection please. Santa should really buy me some photography lessons.


If you want to brighten up your kids room paint them some winter art on a canvas. It's a lot easier than you think and they will love the new addition to their space!

I painted these Santas using pieces of driftwood 15+ years ago and even though they are a bit 80s, I still like the rustic look. You can use any pieces of old, worn wood for this project.


If you find something you really love and can't live without, treat yourself. I found these stockings at Pottery Barn Kids for my boys. They match the tree topper that I bought there last year. I love them.


(photo from

Christmas is going to be really tough for my family this year and, in many ways, I just want it to be over. The one thing I am grateful for is the distraction that all of these little projects have offered. They have kept my mind busy and I hope has made our home a cheerful place for my boys.

I wish you and your family a very happy holiday.

Nov 17, 2009

Thank You Mom

Lately I find myself thinking of all of the things I wish I had said to Dad. I said it all in my goodbye to him after he was gone and I like to think he heard me and I hope more than anything that he already knew.

I guess what I discovered is that you think you have all of the time in the world to show people how much they mean to you, but now I know that is not true. So I decided to write a thank you letter to my mother and tell her how special she is. I sent it via snail mail but I've included it here:

Dear Mom,

I never realized until I had my own children how difficult (and wonderful) being a mother is. I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you for sharing your love of the ocean. There is no better place to be then at the beach. I owe that feeling to you.
Thank you for introducing me to the word of books. One of my favourite things to do is escape into a great read.
Thank you for decorating my room with Strawberry Shortcake. I loved it!
Thank you for laughing at my mistakes instead of judging them (Moooom, I did something really bad).
Thank you for the Easter treasure hunts. I can’t wait to try that with Cooper and Jacob.
Thank you for painting the mural in Jacob’s room with me. I am sure I would not have had the guts to do it alone.
Thank you for your love of music. Randy still thinks I’m crazy when I crank my tunes, but I know where I got that from.
Thank you for baking the Christmas cookies we decorated every year.
Thank you for loving me even when I was obnoxious (which I know I was a lot).
Thank you for raising me to believe that I could do and be whatever I wanted, with the confidence to try new things and to go new places.
Thank you for being there when I needed you with advice, a recipe or a great teaching idea.
Thank you for being such a great example. It is because of you that I tried to be a loving, creative and fun teacher.
Thank you for the long drives by the ocean and the stops for ice cream.
Thank you for the thoughtful gifts you have bought me. You have great taste.
Thank you for letting me come into your classroom and work with your students and trusting me to go into your friends’ classrooms too. It made me feel I could do that one day.
Thank you for the sacrifices you made as a parent, working full time.
Thank you for being my Euchre partner.
Thank you for baking Come and Get ‘Em Cookies.
Thank you for how much you love my boys. I can’t tell you how much I love the relationship you have with Jacob and will have with Cooper.
Thank you for making me peanut butter sandwiches with a heart in the middle when I was sick.
Thank you for being there whenever I call with a question, no matter how trivial. Like “How do I boil an egg?”
Thank you for helping me with school projects, even when they were last minute.
Thank you for all our family Christmas traditions. I love sharing them with my family.
Thank you for the times we spent with Grammy and Big Em. I always loved those visits.
Thank you for having a sense of humour and loving to laugh.
Thank you for countless trips to the beach for lounging, walking, reading, chips and, if we are brave, dips in the water.
Thank you for the birthday cake making tips.
Thank you for time spent playing Shanghai and building puzzles.
Thank you for introducing me to jigzone. What a great way to waste time.
Thank you for coming to visit Randy and I in London. We loved having you both there.
Thank you for giving me advice on being a kinder person. I am working on it.
Thank you for being here for the birth of both of my boys. Having you here kept me calmer and less afraid (believe it or not).
Thank you for all of the great Kiss of Death Tour memories.
Thank you for introducing me to Coronation Street.
Thank you for all that you did for my wedding. You made it so special when you said your speech.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for a million things, for everything. I don’t know what I would do without you. There are so many more things, small things, big things.

I have to say it again, Mom. Thank you with all my heart, and I want to tell you that I love you so very, very much and that I am so proud to tell people that you are my mother. I hope that I can do a great job being a mom just like you are and have been to me.

Love, Sarah Jane

I wanted to post this because I am hoping that this will spark/inspire one of you to write a letter to someone you love...a parent, child, husband, wife, friend, brother, sister, grandparent. Some of you know the heartache of losing someone you love: the missing, the wishing, the tears, so I think this will make more sense to you, but for those of you lucky enough to still have everyone you hold close in your heart please think of doing this can only lead to good. I found myself laughing and crying at the memories that came flooding back.

When I was debating whether to send the letter to my mother now, or to wait, my great Twitter friends encouraged me to send it now. One friend (thanks Consuelo @cbernardi)sent me this quote from Maya Angelou: 'I've learned people forget what you said and what you did but people never forget how you made them feel.' I am hoping this letter makes my mom feel cherished, appreciated and loved.

I'd love to know if you do choose to write a thank you.

Oct 23, 2009

My Dad

Nothing can prepare you for that early morning phone call telling you that someone you love is gone forever.

My older brother had the unbearable task of calling me at 5:40 in the morning 4 weeks ago to tell me that our father was gone. I did not know it was possible to feel so much pain. I was inconsolable. What kept running through my mind, and still does, was that he died 9 days before I was heading home to Nova Scotia to see him. 9 days. 9 days. 9 days.

My husband, who has been so amazing and supportive, had us all on a plane and home that night. We said goodbye to my dad two days later. I had a panic attack for the first time in my life that morning. How was I going to be strong for my mom? In the end I wasn't. It was such a shock to see my dad that I didn't handle it well.

My dad was out for a walk, doing what he loved. He didn't suffer. He lived for 17 years after quadruple bipass surgery. He walked me down the isle at my wedding. He met my two boys. All of these things should make me feel luckier than some, including my husband who lost his dad 8 years ago. But it doesn't. All I feel is heartbroken, cheated, angry and lost.

Most of all I feel denial.

It is so much easier to pretend that he is not gone and to imagine he is just out and will be back again soon. I wonder when it will sink in that he is really gone forever? I spend every moment on the verge of tears thinking of the what ifs and wishing it wasn't true. I didn't know that grief could be so physically painful. I took a pregnancy test today because I was worried the nausea was morning sickness. Thankfully I am not pregnant. That would have been too much to bear right now.

My children now have no grandfather. It aches so much to write that. I had so many images in my head of all of things Grampy would teach my boys.

There are so many things I will miss about him: the stories he told over and over and over until I could say them word for word, the silly jokes, the words that Dad made up like wrastle instead of wrestle, the way he said P O P instead of pop, watching him play with my son (his little buddy), going for walks together down Green Bay road, trips to the beach, playing Euchre and 'going blind', the Kiss of Death Tour (long story) we took every summer, going to the store to get me a treat even though I am 35 years old, his laugh.

I worry about my mom so much and wish I could take some of her pain away. I know as awful as I am feeling right now, it is so much harder for her.

I wonder if I will ever be the same, if our family will ever be as happy as we were.

I just want to also say thank you to each of you that have reached out with your kind words and support. It really does help to know that others care.

Oct 6, 2009

Mommy In The House

I am a stay at home mom.

That sentence can be interpreted so many ways. It can invoke happiness, envy, loneliness, gratitude and embarrassment. I waffle between a few of those depending on the day so here are my top 5 reasons I love and struggle staying at home with my little guys.

Top 5 Reasons I Love Being a SAHM

1. I love my boys more than I thought I could love anyone and I am genuinely excited that I get to watch each and every new discovery and achievement they make.

2. I am there for my little guys if they get hurt, are sick or need a cuddle.

3. I can stay in my pink cupcake pjs all day and no one gives a care.

4. I get to explore the idea of following the dream of painting art for children as my new career. If this baby ever gets into a routine I'm going to get right on that.

5. I think that I would be awful at trying to balance work with family. My husband works long hours so it would be up to me to do pick ups, drop offs and all that good stuff. I would resent him for that I think.

Top 5 Reasons I Struggle

1. Our family made a financial sacrifice for me to stay home. This can cause some major blowouts between my husband and I. He plans 5 years in advance and likes to pay off the credit card every month. I like to plan my next outfit and would shop all day, every day. We miss out on travelling and other luxuries we were used to.

2. It can be so very lonely staying at home. I worked at a great school with the most fun people I have ever met. I miss them and I miss the social interaction. Thank God I have friends that stay home too, that make me laugh and that have kids that my little boy loves.

3. I have felt a loss of identity having given up my career. I walked away from the best job I have ever had at the greatest school. I remember taking my son to a farm and seeing a teacher with her class and I wanted to say: I used to do that. I am a teacher too. But the truth is, I'm not a teacher anymore. That makes me sad.

4. I don't really get to leave the house on my own. I often think that if I worked, I could run errands with my hands free of strollers, diaper bags and sippy cups.

5. I could dress up more. I love clothes and although lululemon makes me very happy, I miss wearing pretty clothes.

Even though there are times that staying home is tough for me, I have absolutely no regrets. My boys are so much fun and growing up so fast that sometimes I wish life had a pause button. If my boys ever read this (oh look hubby, I'm planning for the future)I would want them to know that they are the greatest thing that life could ever ever give me. That doesn't mean that I don't have the occasional pity party with my good friend Ruffles but, hey, who doesn't.

Okay, phew, first blog post done. And yes, I am wearing the same pink pjs I have worn all day. These ones have polka dots though.