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what would you do…if you could do anything?

I’ve read a lot lately about leaning in, opting out, contributing to your career community and being all in.  I’ve enjoyed a lot of the books, loved watching the TED talks, and been inspired for a moment or two by the eye of the tiger sentiment.  It’s a good set of messages. Get in there.  Put your best foot forward, fight for what you need, sit at the table, work like crazy, but also be a good mom, get exercise… oh and don’t forget – sleep is actually the most important thing.  Right. Got it.

I’m tired.

The big questions I think about on my daily commute are less about being an ‘opt in’ mom, or setting a differentiated career path, or making strategic choices…I think about passion, creativity, owning my future, and loving the journey to get to that place.  I think maybe you can accomplish parts of this within any career path you chose – I certainly can in my chosen world of branding.  But I also think part of it is how you fulfill that burning passion you have that you might often keep on simmer or worse – that you’ve quieted all together in order to get through and be “successful”.  What would you do, if you could do anything?

I’m not talking about the ‘win ten million dollars’ daydream.  You know you have that one.  I do too.  It results in a lotto max ticket purchase and a tense Friday evening at least once a month … but to me that’s never never land.  That might mean owning an island, or traveling around the world, or having a pet giraffe (seriously – will some big winner please offer that Danish zoo an alternative?) I’m talking about having just enough freedom to take real control of what you do.  I don’t know what the mix is, but I think the ingredients are: courage, drive, enough financial freedom to fall down, and a good support network…and faith.  Did I miss anything?

Coming back from vacation provides you that space and time to think (a little), and it’s made me really wonder what the answer is.  I’ve done a bit of a social experiment over the past couple of weeks ( i love those) and asked a number of colleagues and friends what they would do – if they could do anything.  More than 70% of the 36 people I asked answered “I don’t know”.  Whether out of embarrassment that their answer is tight rope walking, an ever changing desire, or out of a more common place of just not really allowing one’s self to think about it… it makes me a bit sad.  To be totally honest, I don’t know what my complete answer would be either – but I do know it involves a lot more time with my kiddos, and it involves brand work, public speaking, and creativity every day.   That’s why I write this.  To celebrate those creative moments, most of the time with or for my kids, that make us smile.

We have that Dr Seuss book – Oh the Places You’ll Go – and I read it to our son.  He has evolved his decision from hockey star to soccer player (goalie) that plays guitar when he’s off.  That makes me smile. I hope he doesn’t ever stop believing in the possibilities, and that mainstream doesn’t quiet his questions, or his songs.

So… what would you do – if you could do anything?

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hello there spring…

The forecast might be calling for 40 days of rain – but those little breaks and the rays of sunshine that come with it sure are pretty fantastic! Yay spring. Thanks for arriving.  It is amazing the optimism and freedom that Spring brings with it.  I’m crafting up a storm.  Cam is now smiling while raking pine cones and cleaning our garage out. Matt can’t wait to not have to wear a jacket outside.  Kate and Charlie are already running around, rain or shine, with chalk and strider bikes and scooters. It’s good.

To celebrate I ran out at nap time and filled our trunk, then our planters, with the classic bright colours of primula and ranunculus and fragrant favorites like hyacinths.  Just looking at those colours, even in the rain, makes me smile.

flowers just planted better primula

We have made an effort since the new year to try something new each week.  For those of you that know us well – that’s a bit out of character… but we’re making the effort – and it’s actually been really fun.  Our kiddos are not like some children with diverse palates and open minds – they eat lots of fruit and veggies, but variation is always a struggle (as is meat) so we are trying to *gulp* lead by example.  For me, that’s meant enjoying new twists on old favorites and a few fun surprises – I found out I’m a huge goat cheese fan and I actually do like olives.  For our kids it’s meant things as simple as new cereal, different kinds of crackers, fruit smoothies with new flavours and trying a bite or two of a new meal once a week.  Sometimes we win.  Sometimes we loose.  We are not above bribery with DQ dessert runs and oreo cookies waiting in the wings for those who brave the gauntlet of new flavours…. ahh parenting. Sometimes dinner is a disaster – but at least now we have beautiful spring flowers to look out at, and with any luck a few inside to brighten up the table as well.   The photo below shows another of our new dinner tricks – we’ll put out cheap craft paper and crayons to make those new dinner evenings more fun and festive…yup – I’ll try anything.

spring

We had a huge success last week with thai lettuce wraps.  I’d never made them before, and was surprised how easy they were.  I looked up a bunch of recipes, and mixed a few of them together to accommodate our tastes (not pork fans so we used ground turkey/chicken and no fish sauce) … the recipe I used is below.  It was awesome, easy and fast which was great for a work nights –  Matty Cam and I loved it, and the girls happily ate lettuce with chow mien noodles and cheese wrapped up so it was a relative success.

What is your favorite – (slightly) off the beaten path dinner?  I could use the new ideas!

lettuce wrapThai Lettuce Wraps:

You’ll need iceberg lettuce, ground turkey or ground chicken, 1/4 C stir-fry sauce, soy sauce, 1 clove of garlic, minced, 1 tsp of ginger minced, one shallot or 2 TBSP onion finely chopped, 1/4C cilantro finely chopped  (or green onion if you prefer – flavour dependent), 1 TSP sesame oil (optional), chow mien noodles (optional)

Fry up garlic and shallot/onion in a tsp of oil, add ground turkey and cook until cooked through.  Add stir-fry sauce and a TBSP of soy sauce along with ginger and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Turn off heat, break up lettuce into the “wraps”, add cilantro to the pan and sesame oil if you have it

Serve with cold lettuce, white sticky rice on the side, and chow mien noodles add some crunch and fun for the kids if you’re inclined.

Aloha!

We left the snow and rain and grey behind for a vacation in the sunshine.  First time in three years. First flight for the girls. First success traveling as a five-ring circus (six with my mom for the first part).  It was amazing and wonderful and chaotic and tiring and relaxing and warm and sunny and at times a little painful … but mostly just awesome.

I learned a few things this trip – mostly thanks to amazing friends who also have multiple kids and were kind enough to bestow this knowledge on us – thought I’d share my top six…

1. For the six-hour flight and travel on either end: headphones by kidz gear (thanks Lucy! Awesome recommend) to go with our ipads and laptops so that everyone had their own viewing station for shows/movies, and apps.  We practiced in advance of the trip because the kids have never worn headphones before … needless to say it was successful

2. A borrowed maclarens double umbrella stroller for epic travel-day airport navigation evenings on vacation (thanks Lori!) – even if they didn’t always sit in it – it was a HUGE help on many occasionsairport home

3. On one not-so-awesome note: the friendly skies are really the fend for yourself skies these days.  We deliberately chose the airline that boasts friendly happy people – hoping for an awesome experience for our kids.  Super thankful we also planned in advance and have patient children because the service and attitudes of our crew both ways were horrendous. Granted we have three kids four and under so we must be every attendant’s (and passenger’s) nightmare – but we had people complementing us both ways on kids, while the crew complained openly about their working conditions (yes… on their way to Hawaii) Not super great for that brand.   Again – thankful for headphones and ipads (and Grammie on the way there!).

4. VRBO is fabulous. And what’s more, renting a place with a full kitchen and big deck were huge assets for the kids – it meant breakfasts and snacks could be breaks from the sunshine and breaks from restaurants and the deck meant we could spend nap-times evenings outside relaxing with a cold wine/beer.

5. Get floaty toys.  We went to the local mini-store a few days in and bought water wings and floating birds and it turned our some-what timid clingy splashers into full on swimming and jumping machines.  We even had to bring the floaty things home – the packing of them was supervised by one of our two-year olds.  They loved the water.swimming

6. Ask Questions.  We usually aren’t super social when we go away.  We have our hands full and never get enough time together alone so we tend to stay together as a little pack – but my friend and my sister both mentioned asking local hotels about music and activities so that we could plan when to go where. I did this on the first (very) early morning walk with the girls – and it was great!  We got to see sharks and stingrays, feed fish on the beach, watch an outdoor move, two live nights of great music, a Luau and more.  I got so into it that I started chatting up other people staying at the condos we were at – as a result we found turtles five minutes from our hotel, learned about the best local drinks and even got some grilling tips at the resident BBQs … people on vacation are friendly. It was great!

In my resolve to chat with the other guests I also discovered one other interesting tidbit:  I spoke with 14 guys who were on kid pool duty during the trip … about our respective kids, where we lived, local highlights, their jobs …  and not one of them asked what I did for a living.  If Cam was with me for the conversation – every single one asked him what he did.  I spoke with 4 women during that time and they all told me my ‘hands were full’ and I ‘must be done’.  None of them asked me if I worked either.  Don’t get me wrong – everyone was very friendly and very nice. I just found the perspectives, or maybe the societal expectations to be … interesting.

I’m super grateful we had the opportunity and ability to get away – we all really needed the quality time together, and some sunshine and I’m so glad it all worked out.  Can’t say enough about a sunny trip in the doldrums of winter.  Heavenly.  It was a wonderful way to reconnect with our amazing little kiddos and to spend time ‘relaxing’ together as a family.   Our only takeaway for next time was that we’d stay for even longer

family hawaii