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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Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017

Let’s face it, most Mom’s put their family first and don’t even bother purchasing the things that they would really like to get for themselves. Consider this when you are shopping for your Mom this Mother’s Day.  She may tell you don’t worry about a gift, that’s not true. Trust me she would love a gift! While there are many types of Moms out there in terms of what they may like,  I have tried to capture a few categories to give you a hand. Happy Shopping!

Athletic Mom

Below is a list of gift ideas for the Mom, who is all about the gym, yoga class or avid walker!

Fitbit

A yoga mat

A new gym bag

Work out clothes (No one can ever have enough work out clothes, trust me Mom will appreciate this)

Re usable Water bottle

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Pampered Mom

There are Moms who love to spoil themselves and they should!  Here is a list that you can use to help you choose a gift idea to keep this type of  Mom happy.

Gift Certificate to a Spa

Fancy silk pyjamas

Jewellery

Bath bombs, gels, body sprays, lotions and creams

Perfume

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Bookworm Mom

If your Mom is an avid reader there is so much that you can give her!

Books (this may require some research on your part, you will have to see what is on her list of books to read)

Gift Certificate to the book store

Kindle

Kindle cover

Reading Socks

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Social Mom

Gift Certificate to her favourite restaurant

Gift Certificate for a night at the movies

Tickets to a play

Gift Certificate to a cooking class

Wine Tour- Plan a day to either take your mom or arrange for someone to take her on a wine tour. While I have been to the California Vineyards, our Niagara Vineyards at Niagara on the lake is just as beautiful. Your mom will appreciate the day.

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Sentimental Mom

Something you made! A scarf, ceramic, painting anything that you made Mom will love!

A framed pic of you and Mom

Scrapbook- Suggested Titles, All about Mom or What I love about Mom

Photo Album of all your favourite moments with Mom

A home-made book that tells a story about your mom- With all the software available, putting together a small book like this is a lot easier then it sounds!

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These guides will hopefully give you something to start with, if it happens that your Mom is part of each of these categories…well Good Luck and spoil the lady rotten. She will always be there for you xoxx

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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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I am…. Auntie Maryse!

I love being an Aunt. Boom! That’s it. I just love it. It’s an amazing feeling. I am an Aunt to three wonderful boys. Like a true Aunt I can tell you that my three nephews are amazing, cute and sweet in their own adorable ways. There is something so special about holding the title of an Aunt that only another Aunt or Uncle can understand. I’ll try to explain it in a letter to my nephews.

Dearest Nephews,

I first became an Aunt almost 11 years ago, when the first one of you arrived. I was nervous… what was an Aunt supposed to do? I mean, I’m a mom but what do I do to be an Aunt? This is a different role! While your parents and grandparents were settling into their new roles, I decided I would consider mine by taking it one step at a time…

When you were born Hunter I marvelled that my sister could create someone so cute and special. To me she was always just my younger sister who followed me around. You arrived six weeks early and caught us all off-guard. I used to stare at you in the hospital and look at your tiny fingers and sweet little face and I knew that you would steal my heart. Today you are such a sensitive and thoughtful young man and I am so happy when you call to share good news with me or show me high marks from school. I’m even more thrilled when you ask me to pick you up for a visit to my house (although I know it’s because I have sports channels and Netflix but that’s ok). I love attending your soccer games and cheering you on. You even calmly handle it when I cheer you on loudly (ok and maybe embarrassingly) from the sidelines! I giggle to myself when I see how pleased you are when I drop you off to school or pick you up. I see your eyes sparkle when you steal a sidelong look at me. You’re happy I’m there and I’m happy too. In recent years watching you play with your younger cousins is so heartwarming. I see you trying to teach them good things and break up scraps between them. They love you and admire you and I adore watching your role as a person evolve all the time. Son, nephew, grandson, cousin, friend… I am especially glad that you are willing to always hug and kiss me still even in public. xoxoxo 

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Johnny when you arrived, I was worried my heart may not have enough room for another nephew. But amazingly enough it grows and makes room and there is so much love. Holding you when you were a baby and kissing your face over and over again would make me so happy. Sometimes after a rough day at work, my car would automatically take me to your house and your big smile would change my whole day. Now almost 5 years later I am astounded when you sit me down and teach me about the solar system, detailing the planets and stars. I am especially nervous when you show me flags of the world and quiz me on some. I love when you name all the continents for me and excitedly name different Countries.   Truth be told, I am usually googling stuff before I know I am going to see you! You are a sweet sensitive bright and loving little man. Honestly, the joy on your face when I bring you a sprinkled donut far outweighs the trouble your mom gives me for it. I love watching you swim at swimming lessons and your face light up at the sight of a cake at my house. Recently your Dad told me that you are almost always convinced I have parties at my house all the time. Xoxoxo

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Harrison you rocked into the world just two years ago, on a Saturday night in the spring.  You quickly and curiously stared at me while I held you for the first time. I knew we would be good friends. You are a loving boy and have an incredible ability to put up with my incessant kisses and all the pictures and selfies I force you to take. It’s amazing that you have been able to say my complicated French first name since you were just 18 months old, meanwhile some adults still can’t pronounce it! I love that you waste no time and come running to see me when I walk in the door and you hug and kiss immediately. It makes it easy for me to sing your often requested “Wheels on the bus” over and over again. As the family all knows, you have the cutest puppy dog eyes and you manage to get me to do what ever you want. I must learn to shake this habit. Watching you wave and smile at me during swimming lessons or Sport-ball is amazing. Your face lights up like a Christmas tree when I wave back and I see you mouth my name. My heart melts like a puddle at my feet xoxoxo

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My dear boys, the path of life will have numerous bumps along the way but know that I will always be there for you. I don’t know if you will remember the hundreds of books we read together, the games we played, the walks we took or the hugs and kisses. But I promise you this: As your Aunt, I will always be here for you, despite where time, distance and the world may take us. A phone call will always connect us. I am grateful to my sisters for creating such beautiful human beings whom I will love forever.

Auntie Maryse xoxoxo

This letter is the very best way I can describe the fulfilling and awesome feeling of being an Aunt. Be nice to your siblings because oh boy, do they ever have the ability to really rock your world for the best.

My Cousin my Friend

They say that cousins are you first friends. Since both my parents come from big families I have a lot of cousins.  My cousin Sheryl Ann (Sher) and I are very close. We became fast friends at an early age as my family would holiday in Trinidad and this is where Sher lived. I was a particularly shy child and Sher was not. She was older then me and I was in awe of her. I was drawn to her dynamic and engaging personality and her love of adventure. As the summers passed we got into all kinds of innocent teen aged mischief and adventures that Sher managed to talk me into. Truth be told, I loved every single one of them!

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She always had an eye out for something fun to do! We stayed awake at night and would talk for hours and hours. We shared hopes, secrets and dreams. Some of those summers were the best summers of my life. Sher eventually came to Ontario to further her education at University. I was thrilled because it meant I could hang out with my cool, older cousin all the time. I remember the Summer of 1982 when Sher declared one of her ideas. She decided that we would go visit a boy from her class. She was sure I would like him. I told her I was not up for her cupid stuff and really resisted. She insisted and told me that she was sure I would like this guy. In true Sher form, this adventure turned out to be amazing and it hasn’t ended! Sher was right about that guy because later this year we will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary! As the years passed we remained friends but life handed us responsibilities, marriage and kids. Sher encountered a few set backs as she pursued her dreams with her husband. Some of these setbacks may have knocked many of us on our asses and there we would have stayed. I admire my dearest friend and cousin for finding the life that would make her and her family happy. It even meant moving countries a few times and trying out different occupations a few times. Her enigmatic and adventurous personality never kept her down. With the everlasting love and support of her hubby and children, Sher is now a successful lawyer and professor of law in England. I admire her for her determination and courage and never taking no for an answer. England may be far away but we are always in touch and manage to see each other quite regularly. We even joke that we were probably sisters in another life. I honestly do think there may be truth to that. Next week, Sher’s sense of adventure is taking her temporarily a little farther away from me. I’m excited that she will share her next adventure with me through Skype, Facebook and WhatsApp. I wish her happiness and success. I’m lucky to have such a wonderful friend in my cousin Sher. Another part of the world gets to experience Sher and oh how lucky they are.

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Mistletoe Magic in the City

One of the best things about family visiting from out of town is the chance to play tour guide. I always think the beauty of Niagara Falls and the CN Tower will grow old for me, but it never does. I love visiting my city and the tourist attractions any chance I get. There is just something special and magical about getting the opportunity to forget about all your day to day errands, worries and concerns to temporarily immerse yourself in the beauty your city has to offer. Anyways, we took Hubby’s sister in law and his niece on a visit to the Toronto Christmas Market. Hubby and I were looking forward to this particular tourist attraction because we had never been there before.

It was a chilly evening so we bundled up with gloves, hats and warm coats especially for the visitors who hailed from Trinidad and Tobago – an island in the Caribbean that is blessed with sunshine and blue skies. Our daughter played the tour guide as she had been to the Christmas market many times before with her boyfriend.

Located in the Distillery District of Toronto (Mill Street and Cherry Street), I was downright impressed when I got out of the car and saw how beautiful the district had been transformed. This little bit of Christmas escape in the middle of a busy bustling city was AWESOME! The beautiful lights, the smell of chestnuts literally roasting on an open fire – allowed you to get in the spirit of what felt like a little tiny little Whoville. If anyone was missing the Christmas spirit you sure found it here. Upon entering you’re greeted by a massive Christmas tree, absolutely covered in beautiful twinkling lights and decorations. Naturally, we just had to take A TON of pictures. I was floored that Hubby was patient through it all. He posed he smiled and posed and smiled again and patiently accepted when the females in the group saw it necessary to delete and re-take countless photos, waiting for that perfect Facebook cover photo.

Christmas lights were everywhere and the beauty and feel of Christmas was evident. There were many activities for everyone young and old and the photo opportunities were countless and provided the perfect backdrop for family photos that would be shared this Christmas season. There was a big red heart that you and your loved ones could stand in, a big Hershey kiss, a forest of pink Christmas trees, a life sized gingerbread house and more. Scattered around were the cutest little stores that you could drop in to get some gift ideas or even just some warmth.

I enjoyed seeing many families like ours, babies in strollers, couples holding hands, and so much laughter. I felt pretty good when I left, regardless of your race, religion or whatever may be going on in the world; everyone was provided with that temporary escape and brought together under the beautiful lights of the Toronto Christmas Market. `Tis the season of love, laughter and happiness, to you and yours.

Love and laughter

M

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50 candles on the cake

I turned 50 recently. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I woke up on the morning of my birthday. Would the skies open? Would angels sing and then drop adult diapers and hearing aids from the sky? Nah! It was all good. I reached and accepted this milestone very well.  A milestone it is! Officially well past middle age yet at an age that a few of my friends did not make it to and for that I am grateful.

Something I have noticed is that conversations are different at 50 in comparison to what was important at 30. Now, we’re talking more about health and wellness, our adult or teenaged children, finding jeans that look great and for my female friends the challenges of getting through menopause with sanity.  Many are telling me it’s a new beginning for them. A time to focus on themselves and/or significant other, make a career change or set new goals.  Maybe even reinvent themselves.

So I created this blog with the hopes of sharing some information for those of us in our fifties and beyond, or at the very least hopefully I can just simply entertain you. From time to time you may even see a fabulous recipe I tried, or a picture of me modeling something I purchased that just rocks! It’s going to be fun! Stay with me.

Love and Laughter

M

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