Make this your best year ever!

Ahhhh the smell of a brand-new year! Hello 2019!

new year 2019As always, the air is ripe with the scent of almost everyone discussing their resolutions. What are these resolutions? Get fit, lose weight, spend less money, be more patient, make a better effort at staying in touch with friends and family …the list goes on.
I thought about posting a blog on a few of these resolutions and my thoughts on them, especially since I have definitely had many of them as my own resolution at one time or another. But instead I decided that making one big promise is probably not always the best idea. I’m not suggesting that all resolutions are failures. Often, they serve as the one big catalyst that most people need to get important things moving! What I am saying though, is I think it’s important that during our quest to be successful at our resolutions, we remember some things that may seem small. But are actually very important.

sparklerHere are a few:

Live in the moment and be present. How often are we having a conversation with someone, but we are only half listening because we’re caught up in thinking about what we need to do next. Making that mental list of items that are running through our mind like a hamster on a wheel. Take a moment and think about quieting that part of your mind and just being present. Enjoy what you are doing, whether it’s having a cup of tea, chatting with a friend or family member, or enjoying the walk that you are on alone. Which brings me to my next point.
Be kind to yourself. If you’re anything like me, you may still be reviewing the past year and thinking about a few things you should have accomplished. Mistakes were made, projects not completed. It’s all about being human. Moving forward and allowing yourself to set new goals is the best thing you can do for yourself. Maybe at night you lie in bed and think about the day and what you could have said or done differently, consider not doing that anymore. What does it really accomplish? Feelings of anxiety? Regret? Anger or sadness? You don’t deserve that. Being kind to yourself may also mean, heading to the gym, getting that manicure or facial, curling up with a book and a cup of tea. Do it! Don’t feel guilty. Be kind to yourself. Without being kind and taking care of yourself first, how will we ever be kind to others?
Surround yourself with the people that make you feel great, suggest a workout at the gym with someone you enjoy being with or perhaps a coffee or lunch date. There are people out there that naturally exude happiness and positivity and literally feel like a sunny day. Positivity is the name of the game for these folks. Revel in their golden glow! It will rub off on days you can really use it. Heck you may even learn a few of their strategies.

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I wish you a happy healthy 2019, full of laughter, love and all that makes your heart glow.

Blessings xoxx
Maryse

See how she loves..

Being a Mother is a forever role……
A few years ago, I was having a late-night chat with my sister Holly. It was one of those profound moments when the eldest sister (me) seeks the youngest sister and spills her guts. I wondered if I was doing everything right as a Mom. Even though my children were adults, it is a forever role that is always evolving.
I wasn’t sure if what I was doing or saying at times was right. Was I making myself available enough? Or too much? Was I there for them when they needed me? Or nagging them when they needed space?
I was questioning every aspect of myself for a job I was doing for well over 25 years. A job I wasn’t trained for and I took on at the young age of 23.
I was saddened that at times I felt like the wicked witch of the west, constantly reminding and asking questions, phoning and texting.
Being a Mom is a rewarding yet confusing job. Our discussion inspired my sister to write the following piece, which I have read time and time again. It always makes me feel better about myself as a person and as a Mom. Last night I needed to read it again, for the first time in a long time. It is my pleasure to share it here with you:

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To the Mothers 

(by: Holly Bacchus)

To the mothers
Who were mothers before they ever
Imagined they would be.
Who accepted the challenge
Who put their own lives on hold
To create new ones.

To the mothers
Of children who are a bit different than
So-called “normal”
Of children they can only see as
Beautiful.
Who not only embody strength and courage, but
Who bestow it too.

To the mothers who didn’t think they’d
be doing it alone
But who do.
Who are two people where only one
Stands.
Whose lithe bodies become strong enough for piggy backs
10-yard hail marys, and
wrestling holds.
Who sustain sideways looks and snide comments
Who are told they ‘breed criminals”. But
Whose childhood dreams were never of
lone queens in castles.

Who are strong enough to dream anew.

To the mothers

In the quiet of a dark night
You do the toughest secret job
No one knows you do

Lying awake in a sleepy house
Contemplating tomorrows upon
tomorrows
While everyone else is drowsily,
dreamily, happily asleep.

To the mothers,
In the quiet spaces where
Little eyelids flutter
As sleep descends
Where dawn breaks through curtains
Onto heavy-lidded/adoring eyes.

To the mothers
Whose contributions aren’t writ large on
each day
But who instead
Quietly make each day happen

To the mothers
Whose children will never know
All they have done.

What you do,
Somehow exquisitely choreographed.
And yet impossibly agile,
Is a most beautiful, silent and humble
dance.

By: Holly Bacchus- www.hollybacchus.com

At the top of the 6ix

Recently my daughter and I willingly dangled ourselves 1,186 feet over the city of Toronto.  For fun! My mini me was turning 25 and I wanted to celebrate it in an unusual and exciting way! In my true mini me spirit, she is not afraid of heights and as I booked the event I was remembering her gleeful laughter when we went parasailing together over the sparkling, turquoise waters in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

IMG_9464The CN Tower Edgewalk gives participants the experience of walking around the CN Tower, suspended by harnesses. That would be 1,186 feet in the air, and a walk around the Tower itself.

CN TowerI pulled up the web page and booked it! Right after I did it, a little voice in my head said, “are you nuts?” My friends, parents and my son repeated the same phrase. I started to get nervous “wait, what??? Hang on, was this a good idea? Could I die? Could we both die? Good Lord, I’ve lost my mind.” Later that evening I saw my Husband and I told him I was scared, he shrugged and said, “It should be safe.” Yeah that’s right he said SHOULD. “I could die” I loudly said. “Nahhhh” he replied.

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On D-Day we were in traffic and arrived just in the nick of time. Which I suppose, in retrospect was a good thing, no time to think about the madness I was going to do! Aside from rushing, my daughter was a mixture of calm and excitement. We were greeted by friendly staff who gave us waivers which I signed and never read. What was the point anyway? They directed us to a room, where we were asked to put on orange jumpsuits and remove all jewelry, empty our pockets – even receipts weren’t allowed. They insisted on giving me an extra jacket as it was 9 degrees outside the tower. So, I put the jacket on over my orange suit and admired my extra padding, maybe I would bounce if I fell? Next, they administered a breathalyzer to all of us. Darling daughter loudly asked, “Mom did you pass?” Then collapsed in laughter.

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The staff in this room was incredibly cheerful and happy. I wanted to shout at them “I’m risking my life today!!! I COULD DIE! STOP ME! But I didn’t. I let them check everything on me. I asked one of them if anyone has ever changed their mind. They said yes, usually right in that very room we were in. She took that opportunity to remind me that the ticket is non-refundable.

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Once we took our group photos, the staff lined the hallway and clapped for us as we proceeded to the elevator. What the hey gone diddly was going on? It was like a scene out of Armageddon. I sorta felt like an astronaut on my way to the space shuttle. Yeahhhhh I got this! Slowly my nervousness was giving way to excitement. Go me! Needless to say, my daughter was pretty excited.
We met our leader for our walk, and she was incredibly bubbly and friendly. I was impressed that she took the time to learn all our names. Along with my daughter celebrating her birthday were two others, so it was quite the birthday bunch.
We were hooked up to harnesses and instructed not to touch the clasps. Honestly?????? I wouldn’t dare. Just to be sure, they zip tied our clasps. A good idea, I thought, you never know if someone might have plans on ending it all in a dramatic fashion! Our leader told us that once we were outside, we would be doing some tricks. Yes you read that correctly. I didn’t recall reading about tricks in all of the promotional material. How could I miss that??? TRICKS, almost 1,200 feet in the air. Of course!

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Mini me was at the front of the line and our line leader said she would go first right behind her. Hehehe. My daughter looked momentarily nervous but sucked it up. Gosh she’s brave! Then the doors opened and BOOM! OH MY GOD. No turning back. We walked outside, and our happy leader walked us out, calmly smiling and shouting at the top of her lungs “Hello Toronto!!!!” we all hung onto the areas of our harness that she said we were allowed to hold.
It was chilly outside, but sunny and beautiful. My hands were sweating uncontrollably, I definitely did NOT need the extra jacket. Nerves kept me warm.
As promised, our leader led us through tricks, putting our toes over Toronto, leaning forward, and leaning backward, she took videos and pictures of us. Each of us felt the nerves and we all cheered each other on as we took turns completing our tricks. As time wore on, it became easier and easier to be out there. Looking out over the City I grew up in, everything seemed so peaceful. Our leader pointed out places and landmarks to our group as we had a few people from the U.S. and Ireland visiting. It was absolutely incredible to be so high up and exhilarating to be hanging over the city. I became aware of how quickly my nerves settled and gave way to excitement and elation

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As our walk on the edge was coming to an end, we waited while a new group was coming out with their leader. We encouragingly shouted to them “It’s amazing! You will love it! So exciting!” You would have thought we hung out there all day long as opposed to half an hour.
When we came in, they unhooked us, and we went downstairs to return our suits and get our coats out of the lockers that was provided to us. They told us, if we looked in our left pockets of our jumpsuits we would find our tickets that included our entry to sky pod. I took my ticket out and looked at it with my first and last name boldly printed on it. I immediately looked over to a staff member and asked if, these tickets were there to help identify our bodies??? He smiled and said, “Oh no, we would use your teeth for that.”
The Edgewalk at the CN Tower was amazing. I was astounded that one event could put us through a myriad of emotions, fear, happiness, excitement, nervousness and many more. I would highly recommend this experience to everyone. It is safe as long as you listen to all instructions from the qualified and experienced staff. The checking, double checking and triple checking by different staff members was very thorough and eased my mind.

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This was an amazing and unforgettable way to celebrate my daughter’s 25th birthday. On the way out, my birthday girl asked about skydiving…. maybe…but for THAT, I’d fail the breathalyzer.

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Ticket- $225 each
Celebrating and time spent with my daughter- Priceless

maryse

Canada, I love you eh!

This month,  is the 50th anniversary that Canada opened her arms and welcomed my parents and myself. It would be amazing if I could just remember what that was like, I was a baby and the nervousness and excitement of it all was obviously lost on me.

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With changes to legislation regarding who could be admitted to Canada, the 1960’s saw a wave of immigration. Canada welcomed smiling faces from a variety of countries ranging from the lush green landscape of Ireland, to Africa, India, England, the West Indies, South America and many more places. Thankfully, my parents and myself were among these new immigrants that landed on Canadian soil. I can’t imagine how exciting yet scary it must have been for my 20 something year old Mom to have left the only home she has ever known with a baby and husband. Or for my Dad, to be bravely leading the way to a new and better life.

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Let’s be honest, most people would probably say that they live in the best Country in the world. I would of course agree with them, if that Country is Canada.

As a child I had the opportunity to embrace and experience the diversity represented among the people of this country. Growing up, my classmates were from different Countries around the world. The excitement of learning about their cultures, visiting their homes and quite simply calling them friend was wonderful. We were different, but we had one thing in common and that was the fact that we called Canada home.

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I’m incredibly grateful that my parents made the best decision to choose Canada as their home. I often tease my Dad that I wish he had chosen a warmer Country, but truth be told I love this Country! I could list at least 100 reasons why Canada is a wonderful place and why I am grateful to be living here, but I instead I will try to sum them up into three reasons that make Canada great:

  1. From coast to coast, Canada is simply beautiful. Every single province has its own beauty about it that makes travel memorable. For example: British Columbia has the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, and the easy going friendly and down to earth nature of Maritimers and the amazing abundance of fresh seafood.
  2. Often envied, our healthcare system is something I am always grateful for. While it isn’t perfect, it is better then some equally developed Countries.
  3. Racism is a word that is far removed in the vocabulary of Canadians alike. Sure, it exists (hey – nobody’s perfect) but on Canadian soil it is far less threatening and aggressive than in other countries. It is not nearly as corrupt as some other neighbouring countries.

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Thank you, Canada, for all that you have brought to my life, excellent education, the start of my own family and a future that continues to shine a beacon of bright light.

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51

Last weekend I turned 51. The last year flew by and, to be honest, I saw some changes.

The doc, advised me that I had hip and foot arthritis which led to a slow down at the gym, until the arthritic flair ups settled. This led to weight gain– slow and steady, hard to miss weight gain. Suddenly, I had a tummy! Or beer belly? Hell, I don’t even like beer! Getting back to exercise has been incredibly challenging, my metabolism taunts me, laughing at me and teasing me, refusing to help. It won’t move its sorry ass!

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“Don’t worry,” said one friend, “it’s perimenopause.” “Don’t worry” said another friend it’s “menopause.”  So now, on a regular basis, the terms perimenopause, menopause and post menopause are thrown around. All I know is that I don’t like any of them! I sure as heck didn’t sign up for all the exciting things that want to be a part of my life while this menopause gang hangs with me. In fact, maybe (depending on who you ask) I may have some mood swings, tiredness, skin breakouts and blazing hot as hell flashes etc.

I’ve also noticed no– actually I’m convinced I’m losing my hearing. “No, no Mom,” consoles my daughter “You just aren’t paying attention”.

Hmmmm… I don’t know. It seems to me that everyone is mumbling around me except my extra loud son and my loud middle nephew, who I can hear anywhere. I think they need to give the rest of the world a lesson on speaking up! I know, I know– That was a cranky old lady comment.

I’ve also noticed that my eyes like to fly open around 4 am and presto I’m wide awake! So wide awake, in fact, I’ve considered getting up and starting laundry or maybe washing the floors? It’s crazy! Then, if I do fall asleep, wild vivid dreams fill my sleep.
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Alas, the latter has invited dark circles around my eyes. I literally look like a raccoon most mornings. So, for the first time in my whole life, I’m actually wearing concealer, highlighter and foundation …. God bless you Mac Cosmetics.

And you know what else? Lines…. lines around my eyes. Especially when I smile. Recently I advised my husband that I just won’t smile anymore…that should take care of things. He found that amusing, because he knows me: I love to laugh, it will never stop.

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But there has been some pretty cool stuff this year that I witnessed:

  • I saw a family member deal with a health set back in a positive and admirable way and worked their way up to getting better and looking amazing. (So…gee maybe I can at least lose the weight and get back to a solid fitness level!)
  • I watched both our children turn 27 and 24 and make grown up decisions regarding their careers.
  •  I watched my spunky dog turn 14 (that would be 73 in human years)  but she’s still  young at heart, and chasing everything that moves in our yard… albeit slower, and a little out of breath!

The year went fast, and now that I’m 51, I think I can say I’m settling into this decade quite nicely. Each year will bring changes I know, but I am happy and grateful for every day and every experience.

There will be some upcoming goal setting on my part. Stay tuned as I introduce you to them one by one…. You’re gonna love it!

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Summer Solstice 2017

Today is officially the first day of summer! Woooo hoooo! Margaritas, sunshine and watermelon!  Also known as summer solstice. What is summer solstice? It is when the sun is at the most northern point and the longest day of 2017.

All I know is today is the day that summer officially starts! And not a moment too soon! Parts of the U.S. are so heated up that flights are being cancelled, however In Ontario and other parts of Canada – our days have had temps below seasonal values and endless rain. So much rain that flooding has been an issue.

Will the arrival of the summer solstice bring us a warm summer? Here’s hoping! Summer is one of the best seasons and promises many exciting things. What kinds of things you ask? Well – let’s take a look at a few of my favourite things!

Socializing! BBQ’s, picnics, pool parties and family get togethers typically happen in the sunny and warm summer months. For me, there is no better way to spend a nice warm evening than with a few cold drinks and some great company!

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Travelling! With the kids who are out of school for the summer, this is the best time to plan trips of any kind. Day trips, overnights or even a few weeks! Plane, train or automobile! A quick little getaway is sometimes all you need to reboot and refresh.

efe-kurnaz-242515 Happiness! Everyone is happy in the summer have you ever noticed that? There is something about that dose of Vitamin D that just puts everyone in a good mood. Positivity and smiles are everywhere. Embrace it and soak it up! Hey, why not smile at a stranger – you never know how it might change their day!

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Relaxation! In the summer, you can find bits and pieces of relaxation almost everywhere. Sitting around a campfire, stretched out on the back deck, swinging in a hammock, or dangling your feet in the water at the end of the dock at the cottage. Give your mind and body a well-deserved rest.

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Memories! The kids on their bikes, making a fancy cocktail, hanging out at the beach, a water balloon fight or sitting outside under a blanket of beautiful stars. Summer time is a beautiful time in many ways.

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.Welcome back Summer! I hope you stay a while! We missed you xoxx

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Life…It’s a Wonderful Life!

Five years ago, my husband gave me a cute little plaque that reads “ Life…It’s a Wonderful Life” I remember feeling very honoured and special because there wasn’t an occasion for this cute little gift. He just saw it and bought it for me. I remember thinking “he thinks that life is wonderful with me?” It seemed an incredibly sweet thought. That plaque is always displayed somewhere, on a table, on a tray or often right at the front door. Every time I see it, I silently agree It IS a wonderful life!

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In my 50 years of living, (ha ha! Here comes the wisdom) I’ve often caught myself hurrying from one goal to the next. The list started when I was young: getting to university, finding the right job, planning the wedding, buying the house and on and on the list, goes. While goal setting is great and all, sometimes I think it distracts us from the here and now. We are so busy looking ahead that we forget to be mindful of NOW. Appreciating what we have and living for the moment is often lost in our quest to complete the next task on our list or fulfil the goals we set.

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I was always told that life flies by. No truer words were every spoken, but I wish I was told how truly wonderful life can be. If only we take that time to pause every now and again to be mindful of the present. Relish the here and now and don’t keep thinking that life will be happy when I have that house, car or promotion. Those are all just things.

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A wonderful life consists of living. It makes me wonder if that’s what my Dad was thinking this past weekend when he was quietly watching my daughter budget her first grown up paycheck. “That’s your first paycheck,” he told her. “Spend what you want, buy what you want! You’re only 23 and you’ve  worked hard and you have earned the right to spend what you want. Start budgeting from you next check.” I was surprised to hear that, and I had to do a double take to see if that really was my Dad speaking. As a child I was always taught to save and not spend money on frivolous items. Fast forward all these years and my Dad is giving different advice. Maybe he’s trying to teach her what took him years to find out. It’s a wonderful life…embrace it and enjoy it.

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Easter traditions galore!

It’s amazing how the concept of Easter evolves over the years for most people (including me). I remember thinking of Easter simply as a holiday from school and of chocolate bunnies! My mom would regularly remind us of the meaning of Easter as it is told in the bible. I would listen, but chocolate bunnies and the need to bite off their ears first was prevalent in my mind!

Getting older or maturing I should say, meant that as a Christian I give Easter more thought from a biblical aspect-shared with the chocolate bunnies of course! While raising the kids, Hubby and I combined the joy of the Easter bunny and egg hunting as well as the biblical meaning behind Easter for our children and made them aware of the true meaning of Easter. We attended church as frequently as possible, I’m not going to mislead you though there were years we missed Easter service and yes sometimes even the entire year. Regardless though, Easter was always celebrated at our home in the form of a yummy dinner with extended family.

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Today, Easter involves so much more, or so it seems. Maybe I am just more aware of all that this time of year encompasses. Getting older will do that to you!  The beginning of a new season, spring colours and flowers everywhere help to make the season cheery. Added to that, it is the first big holiday that our entire family gets together since Christmas. Honestly speaking, that’s the best part. Being surrounded by the people I love the most makes Easter such a treasured time.

The traditions are a blast! Who waits for Easter Sunday to eat all those yummy solid chocolate eggs wrapped in colourful tinfoil? Not me. I make sure and sample as many as I can in the weeks leading up to Easter!

Of course, there were egg hunts! They would start early on Sunday morning.  It was always interesting to find a missed egg in June in a part of the house!

Another tradition is egg decorating. Over the years decorating eggs has led to so many laughs and every single year I enjoy it more then the year before.  My lack of artistic talent is always on full display!

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A final tradition is the delight I feel when my kids ask me to make my hot cross buns in the days leading up to Easter. Mmm…the smell of them baking, cinnamon and raisins and the drizzle of icing…divine.

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Traditionally Easter Sunday dinner has always been held at our home. Everyone brings a dish or dessert and after church, the whole family comes over in the mid afternoon. We start with hors d’oeuvres and then buffet style dinner (because our family has grown).  Dessert is always full of yummy food and definitely not a time to worry about calories. The laughing, chatting and of course picture taking makes the occasion even more memorable.

I know as the years go by and the kids get married and begin their own traditions that there will be some changes. What I also know is that the love and beauty of their childhood Easter celebrations will not be forgotten. I look forward to the years ahead and the new traditions that will begin.

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A letter to my younger self

Dear Maryse,

I see you rushing around, hair in ponytail not a strand of grey hair and that youthful face. At 30 you’re busy, trying to keep up with your three-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, maintain the house and be a wife to your awesome Hubby of nine years. You love your little house in Whitby, Ontario. It’s the first home you and your husband have purchased. I know you are secretly dreaming of a bigger one someday.

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You’re constantly worrying if your chatty daughter will stop talking long enough when she starts school to actually learn. You are also worrying when your son will stop being such a picky eater. He seems to eat only four or five things and dinner time inadvertently means that you will end up making him something different for him from the rest of the family. Many say don’t do that, he needs to learn to eat the same thing as the family. You can’t do that. You make him something different. You’re just that kind of Mom. He just seems so skinny and you worry…and worry.

You stand in front of the mirror and wonder why you are still so chubby. Hell, it’s been 3 years since Kaitlin was born. You have to stop walking around and saying that you just had a baby! The stretch marks are terrible! Ugh!!!! I know you are considering another diet.

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Here’s the thing. Or things I want you to know. It’s now 2017 and you’re 50 years old and married almost 30 years now to the same great guy. I’d like to tell you what to do, but I know you, and you won’t listen. So, I’ll make suggestions.

  1. You are an awesome wife and your husband appreciates you now just like he did 20 years ago, if not more so. So, relax. Life is good for you now and will be good years from now, you’re lucky to have each other.
  2. Your chatty Kaitlin is 23 years old and still chatty, she learned lots in school so much so that she has her Masters in Criminology.
  3. Worrying about Justin being a picky eater is not necessary, you are constantly concerned that he is not getting enough nutrients because he eats five things. He’s now 26 years old, 6’4 and 215lbs. I think he’s okay.
  4. At 50 years of age you are still not at the perfect weight, but you have placed more importance on being physically healthy and you are regularly at the gym, yoga or meditating. The stretch marks didn’t go away despite numerous creams and wraps. You have finally accepted them as a badge of honour. You are proud of them.

Maryse, you’re worrying too much. I need you to be more care free and not sweat the small stuff. The house will never be clean enough or you will not catch up on ALL the laundry. Concentrate on relationships, with your husband, kids, parents, sisters and close friends.  These are the things that are the most important in life. This is where happiness lies. Everything will work itself out.

Oh, and the bigger house…you’re in it now. The funny thing is, Hubby and you will probably have to downsize when the kids leave home.

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Friday Favourite: Pad Thai

I love Pad Thai, and no matter how hard I try I am never able to find the perfect tasting Pad Thai at any restaurant. As a trip to Thailand is not in the cards at the moment. I looked to Pinterest and Google for inspiration to create the perfect Pad Thai recipe. I found it! Just enough flavour, not greasy or full of fillers like onions. The sauce is easy to make and there is absolutely no need to use bottled Pad Thai sauce. Try it! You will loveeeeee it!

This recipe is based on two servings, if you are vegetarian you can substitute the chicken in it for tofu or shrimp.

Pad Thai

Ingredients

16 ounces cooked flat rice noodles, cook per package directions.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts sliced up into strips (substitute tofu or shrimp) season with salt and fresh ground pepper and red pepper flakes

4 eggs

2 cups fresh bean sprouts (if these are difficult to find, packaged ones are fine)

½ cup diced green onions

½ sliced white onions

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Ground peanuts

Sauce

½ cup of ketchup

4 tablespoons of fish sauce

4 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic

2 teaspoons peanut butter

Juice of 1.5 limes

2 teaspoons of soya sauce
 

Instructions

  1. Season chicken (tofu or shrimp) with salt, fresh ground pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook the chicken in a large pan or wok over medium high heat. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Once chicken is cooked, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Stir together all sauce ingredients and set aside. Crack eggs in frying pan. Flip over and break it up. Once cooked add white onions and bean sprouts. Cook for approximately 5 minutes. Add chicken, sauce, and noodles. Stir until everything is properly coated in the sauce. Stir in green onions and cilantro. Top with peanuts before serving. If desired a slice of lemon as well.

This is sure to become a family favourite!

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