{FAMILY} This Is How We Do Spring In Vancouver

May Quote

For me, May is the month of milestones. It’s the month I gave birth to both my first born, and my littlest bee. It’s the month we celebrate the birth of my mother, and the gift of motherhood. It signifies the start of my writing career, and the anniversary of our move to BC’s North Shore where we now call home.

May is not just about the flowers that bloom after April’s showers, it also marks the beginning of a slew of sunny days in Vancouver – and we plan to take full advantage.

Spring Vancouver

River dipping and berry picking in Peekaboo Beans – perfect for a day of outdoor play

This weekend, we did just that. We toddled along the tippy rocks that decorate the river’s edge. We dipped our toes in the icy cold water, and watched as river bugs and tiny fish splashed past our feet. We picked salmon berries from the bushes that line the river’s long and winding corridor, and we turned our faces to the sun and soaked up its warming rays.

Cloey's Outfit: Peekaboo Beans

Cloey’s Outfit: Peekaboo Beans

 

Spring Vancouver

Spring Vancouver

Gavin’s Outfit: Peekaboo Beans

After a quick lunch at home, we headed back outside for some old-school fun on our new trampoline. The weather was so warm that we decided to set the kids up with a fun cool-off-in-the-sun activity that we used to do in our childhood days – we set up the sprinkler under the trampoline, put the kids in their bathing suits, and hours of fun ensued.

Springfree Vancouver

Springfree Vancouver

 

As the day cooled off, we wound down with a little quiet time before heading in for dinner. My hubs and I sat back and sipped on ice cold beers while we watched our little ones bond – enjoying every moment of Spring in Vancouver.

Spring Vancouver

 

We had a full day outdoors – and it didn’t cost a thing.

I can’t wait to see what else May has in store for us. With this beautiful weather and so many more milestones on the horizon, May truly does make it seem as though all things are possible.

Epic Quotes From My Angsty Teen Years

My closest friends and family roll their eyes at me whenever I share a story and say that it ‘happened in grade 9’. They claim that everything I talk about ‘happened in grade 9’. They mock me, but it really was a monumental time in my teen years.

Grade 9 was the year that I fell into a full-blown stage of teen angst. That stage when you hate your parents, your boy crush doesn’t know you exist, your friends are your world, and your self confidence is at an all-time low. You’re consumed by how much your life sucks, and how no one understands you. You’d do anything to fit in, and you long for nothing more than to find yourself.

Grade 9 was a long long time ago for me now, but some of these quotes, shows, songs and moments, will stick with me forever. Because these moments – these epic quotes from my angsty teen years – bring me right back to grade 9. And they remind me of my ‘so called life’ as a teen.

My So Called Life

Long before she played Carrie in Homeland, Claire Danes epitomized my teen self in what will always remain my favourite 90s show of all time – My So Called Life. Swoon-worthy scenes of Jordan Catalano – his perfect coif grazing the brow of his crystal blue eyes as he pulled on Angela’s heartstrings (and ours). One does not get over Jordan Catalano. Not ever.

my-so-called-life-j-leto-and-claire-danes

Ugh, she tried to play it so cool in this scene. Poor, poor girl.

The Cranberries

To this day, whenever I hear an old song by The Cranberries, I am immediately transported to my best friend’s bedroom, where we used to sit together and cry as we sang along to the angsty lyrics of songs like Linger and Zombie.

I’m sure our parents just loved our off-key whining at all hours of the night.

teen angst

Pulp Fiction

The entire soundtrack from Pulp Fiction brings me back to the early 90s – everyone had the soundtrack – and I played this CD on repeat (yes, I said CD). Tarantino was a movie producing superstar – responsible for not only Pulp Fiction, but also Reservoir Dogs, and Natural Born Killers. There are so many great quotes that I could pull from this movie, but this one summarizes the teen rebel that I thought I was at the time.

teen angst

Clueless

While I thought I knew everything, I was completely and utterly clueless. And this quote was basically the worst insult you could possibly give to a clueless, emotional, angsty teenaged girl like me at the time.

teen angst

Reality Bites

Winona Ryder pretty much owned the 90s.

teen angst

And so did this movie.

Lisa Loeb

That little black dress, those thick-rimmed glasses and those lyrics! Nothing got me through my make-believe heart break like Lisa’s words in her chart-topping hit Stay.

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90210

The real Beverly Hills 90210. So many epic scenes and memorable moments, but none like this one. My best friend and I still reenact this scene from time to time.

Wait for it…

Brenda: “I was always taught that if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck..”

Kelly: “Go to hell!” (storms out)

EPIC!

Do you have any epic shows, songs, scenes or quotes from your teen years that you want to share?

The Irony Of Bees

I’m known by many as ‘Bee’. My blog is called ‘Bits of Bee’, and my business is called ‘Bee Communications‘. It’s no secret that  bees have become a big part of my personal and professional brand, and in many ways it’s quite suiting. But to be honest, amongst all of the bee references, I have a confession to make:

I’m actually terribly afraid of bees.

Like – screech and run with my arms flailing and my head spinning when I see a bee – kind of afraid.

But I think where the irony really comes in, is that while that little flying insect terrifies  the buzz out of me, it also serves as a great symbolic representation of two things that I am truly passionate about – my blog, and my business. Because sharing my personal stories on this publicly-accessible, un-erasable platform terrifies me. And starting my own business – forfeiting the comforts of a full-time, financially-secure career to follow my dreams – is one of the most terrifying things that I’ve ever done.

So to become more comfortable around my little personal branding sidekick, I thought I would make a list for myself of the things that I have in common with the fuzzy little buzzers that get my heart racing, in hopes of calming my nerves.

Here are 5 things that I have discovered that I have in common with bees:

1) Bees have 5 eyes. Ok well technically I only have 2, Beesbut I’ve been known to also have eyes on the back of my head. Just ask my kids!

2) Queen bees lay around 1,500 eggs per day. While I only have 3 kids, it can sometimes feel like I have 1,500, so I feel ya sistas.

3) Bees communicate through special bee dances. While their main form of communication is through chemical scents called pheromones, I love that they also have their own dance. Dance has always been a huge part of my life, and I think one of the most effective forms of communication!

4) Bees are visual learners. Bees are not born with the knowledge of how to make honey. Studies have shown that they learn from watching the  older, more experienced bees. I too am definitely a visual learner – having someone show me how to do something new is much more effective than having someone explain it to me without visual support.

5) Bees get very little to no sleep. Samesies. While some scientists have declared that bees do not sleep at all, researchers have found that bees sleep in short bursts – for only 30 seconds at a time on average. But because bees are known to be such hard workers, after only 3-6 weeks after they first take flight, bees literally die of exhaustion, working themselves to death. Sounds like the life of a mom if you ask me!

So there it is. I have no reason to fear my fellow flower-loving friends. We have more in common than I may have thought, and like the bee, I love what I do.

Bees

5 Quotes To Get You Buzzing In 2015

A new year, a fresh start. A fresh page, ready for a new story to be written. How will you start your story?

While others are scribing their lists of new year’s resolutions, I’m keeping it real by sharing 5 motivational quotes that will hopefully get you buzzing about the exciting things to come this year. No unbroken promises to yourself, no unattainable challenges to face, just words that will hopefully light the fire within you to get sh*t done – whatever your sh*t may be. Enjoy!

Quote

Quote

Quote

Quote

Quote 1Don’t compare your successes to those of others, learn from your challenges, and don’t forget to value your own worth. That’s it, plain and simple.

Happy New Year and buzz on friends! XO

New Year

Embracing the happy chaos and letting go of the urge to achieve the perfect family photo.

 

I Just Blogged A Little In My Mouth

I’ve been thinking about my journey as a writer a lot lately. Where my journey began, why I love it, what motivates me to write, and where I want my writing to take me.

Before The Blog

When I was six years old, I wrote my first book. I remember stapling together a stack of lined paper, and wrapping it securely in a folded piece of cardboard. I had found a piece of burgundy velvet, and had glued it to the cardboard cover. I remember thinking it made the book look mysterious and exotic. I filled the book with stories and colourful drawings of a character named Garbanzo, each page neatly numbered, and each chapter cleverly titled. I cherished that book and was proud of its contents.

Throughout my childhood I journaled daily. I filled diaries with my thoughts, fears, dreams, secrets and desires. Writing was how I coped with teen angst, secret crushes, quarrels with friends, insecurities, and frustrations with parents. It was my outlet – a way to clear my head.

I remember writing my grade 12 final exam. While my grades had been average throughout my final year of high school, I had received such a high grade on my final exam essay that my English teacher had double-checked my paper. He was convinced that an error had been made.

When I went to University, I was convinced that I wanted to be a Child Psychologist, so my first two years of study were focused on Psychology and Sociology. But what I soon realized was that I was only excited about what I was learning when I had the opportunity to put my thoughts down on paper. I received the highest grades and more thoroughly enjoyed assignments that required essay writing. In my third year, I switched my focus to English Literature and obtained my BA Degree.

I Just Blogged A Little In My Mouth

As I moved through various careers (editing for a teen magazine, teaching English as a second language, and more recently, marketing and business development roles), I felt as though something was missing. I had stopped journaling and missed writing. I realized that I was frequently sharing stories (whether people wanted to hear them or not). I was thinking about writing ALL THE TIME – in the shower, as I fell asleep, any waking moment when I had a few moments alone with my thoughts.

I wanted to write again – to document my thoughts and let my creative juices flow – but I didn’t know where to begin. After a few popular Facebook posts and conversations with friends, I was convinced: I needed to start a blog.

The name came to me quickly, and after a few Google searches, I had my platform set up and ready to go. And then…I wrote. Words spewed out of my fingertips and across my computer screen. I wrote until my fingers hurt. I didn’t edit, I didn’t proof read, I just wrote. I was quickly transformed into a blogaholic, and it felt good.

Blog Quote

 What’s Next?

I want to step outside the blog world and expand my writing to other platforms. I want to continue to write freelance articles on topics that require research and creativity – that challenge me to write beyond the confines of my own thoughts. I dream of one day writing and publishing a novel – of hiding away in a bungalow in a small town in Greece like Leonard Cohen, and writing until my book is complete. I aspire to write a column for a newspaper or magazine, and to make a living through my passion. I want to continue to write, until I become a kick-ass writer. For as long as the passion flows through my veins, I will write.

 

Adoption: An Open Letter To Birth Parents

For most of my life, I hadn’t thought about my birth parents – where I came from, who they were, or why they had chosen to give me up. For me, the only thing that mattered was that I had parents who loved me – who chose to be my parents.

When I met my biological father just over three years ago, I was overwhelmed by his reaction to reconnecting with me. He spoke as though he had known me and loved me for my entire life – this “stranger” who hadn’t crossed my mind even once as I had transitioned through childhood and into my adult years. I felt a strong bond with him as our relationship started to blossom, but was sometimes confused when he became overcome by emotion.

When we reunited in person, his eyes would fill with tears. I could hear in his voice a certain desperation, as though he was holding himself back from bursting at the seams. This both comforted and scared me, as to me, he was still a stranger.

We wrote to each other every day for almost 2 years, and met in person half a dozen times – until he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Christmas Eve in 2012.

I feel like so many things between us were left unsaid. And after having spoken with friends who are birth parents and fellow adoptees, I feel like sharing some of those unspoken feelings through an open letter to birth parents, from the perspective of an adoptee.

Dear Birth Parent(s),

I am so thankful that you made the choice that you did – to carry and deliver your baby, and to choose to provide that baby with a home and a life that you didn’t feel you were able to provide on your own. This was the ultimate act of selflessness, and I’m sure it was the hardest thing you have ever had to do.

I can’t imagine how difficult it has been to move through your life – the thought of that baby always living in the back of your mind. Wondering if they are safe, if you made the right decision, and if they are loved.

You may one day feel an overwhelming need to seek out that child – to look into the eyes of your offspring and tell them that you’re sorry, that you did what you thought was best for them, and that you have never stopped thinking about them.

They may accept you back into their lives, and you may feel an overwhelming urge to make them a part of yours once again – to make up for all of those lost years.

For an adoptee, reuniting with birth parents can be a mix of emotions: resentment, confusion, curiosity, fulfillment, forgiveness. While you may feel overcome by emotion – desperate to catch up and make that child a part of your life once more – the child may respond with hesitance, reluctance, and caution. Please don’t feel offended – be patient.

It will take time for them to find a place in their hearts for you. It will take time for them to understand the choices that you’ve made, and to understand your perspective.

Don’t push, and don’t pull back. If they have agreed to reunite with you, they will come around. Don’t overwhelm them – share your stories but also listen to theirs. Don’t pressure them into putting titles on your relationship – just go with the flow.

One final piece of advice: let them lead. As much as you may want to dive in, let them take the wheel. They may need to take things slowly. After all, choosing to reunite with some who had once chosen to give you up can be a confusing decision.

Where ever life may have led you – you are amazing. You have put someone’s needs before your own, and this is truly commendable. You have given someone the gift of life, and someone else a child to love. I wish you luck, love, and acceptance.

Sincerely,

An Adoptee

If you are a birth parent or an adoptee, I’d love to hear your perspective on your experiences with reunions.

 Adoption Quote

 

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2013

2013 has definitely been a big year for our family. A year full of new and exciting experiences, ups and downs. 2014 promises to bring new adventures, and I’m welcoming the new year with open arms. As a farewell to this last year, here are my 10 favourite blog posts of 2013:

Will You Tell Your Kids Everything About Your Past?

Dealing With Kindergarten Bullies

Top 5 Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails on the North Shore

A Disney Dream Come True

Vancouver By Water

Ask Mama Dina: Pretty Little Liar

He Put WHAT Up His Nose?

Back to the Barre: Adult Ballet Classes

5 Ways to Help a Friend Through Miscarriage

The Reveal

Wishing you all a new year full of adventure, love, rest, happiness, and inspiration.

new year quote

Ask Mama Dina: Raising Boys (Part I)

My first child was a girl, and for almost three years I truly believed that time outs, positive reinforcement, and a set of house rules were all that I needed to maintain a well-behaved child, and a “parent that has it all figured out” status.

And then I had a boy. And while I completely disagree with the negative connotations that tend to coincide with the naming of this gender (from the old nursery rhyme that boys are “made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails”, to the comments I often hear today from parents who insist that boys are wild, destructible and out of control), I truly believe that boys are just made differently, and as a result, they learn differently as well.

Equipped with this thought, I went to an expert – my very own Mama Dina. I asked her: “Is it true that boys need to be parented differently, and if so, why and how can I do this effectively?”

She responded with these quick tips:

1) Boys tend to require more physical activity
2) When it comes to parenting, boys need less words & more showing
3) Despite what we may think, boys need to be given more slack & less rigid type parenting
4) Boys tend to show their feelings through actions as opposed to words; parents need to read their feelings through their actions
5) Boys learn most effectively when moving around (associating lessons with actions)
6) Most of all, boys need to be loved & accepted for who they are

 

She then handed me this book: Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different – and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men by Steve Biddulph. She said the book includes some great points on how boys learn and how to parent them effectively based on the knowledge that they learn differently.

I’m going to read the book and write a follow up post on my findings – stay tuned for a Part 2 post!

ABOUT MAMA DINA:

Mama Dina is a consummate mother, adoptive mother, stepmother, foster mother and grandmother. For over 30 years, she worked as an early childhood educator, and is fully trained and experienced in the Montessori educational approach. She has over 15 years of experience as a foster parent to children from all walks of life, many of whom have special needs. She provides emergency respite care for the foster care system, and acts as a ‘baby whisperer’ for preemie twins on a part-time basis. Her educational background includes training in child psychology, ECE, infant-toddler development, and various areas of special needs (ARBD, FASD, ADHD). Mama Dina’s lifelong passion has been children. She understands typical and atypical child development and behaviour, and combines her magic formula of unconditional love and consistency to enhance each child’s potential. She is also my beloved mama, and I am so blessed that she chose me to be her daughter.

Parenting Quote

The Lowdown On Literacy – Teaching Your Child How To Read

Reading Quote

When my girl entered Kindergarten, I knew that part of the curriculum would include learning to read. But what I didn’t realize, was that her progress would be heavily reliant on the participation of her parents – that it would be our job to guide her through the tedious process of learning the life skill that is reading.

At first the thought of my little girl learning to read on her own was exhilarating. My daydreams were filled with visions of her sitting cross-legged on a patch of grass under an old elm tree, holding a classic storybook daintily in her hands. Spending hours lost in her own world of imagination – swirling down the tunnels of Alice in Wonderland, chasing the little white rabbit and celebrating unbirthdays. Lost in the stories of Anne of Green Gables, quoting and re-enacting the verses of The Lady of Shallot like Anne Shirley.

>But so far, I have to confess, teaching my girl to read has been…less than exotic.

When we sat down to tackle our first read, she came well-equipped with the sound that each letter makes, and how some letters make different sounds when read together. But the challenge with our oh-so-complicated language, is that we have so many silent letters, inexplicable rules, and seemingly nonsensical spellings, that it’s next to impossible to explain it all to a 6-year-old’s inquisitive mind.

I thought that this would be the one time that my Degree in English Literature, and years of experience as an ESL teacher would come in handy, but there is no skill that can prepare you for this milestone.

In the beginning I was patient. “Sound it out” I would coax in a motherly tone. “Good try honey, very close, try again” I would say between gritted teeth. Not only is our language a tricky one to master, but navigating through the rough waters of a frustrated 6-year-old’s temper is even tougher. “Tuh-oh-uh-guh-huh-eh-er?” – “No honey, -ou makes the sound -ow, and -gh sounds like -fff, and -er together is -ur.” What the eff, right?

And once Summer hits, us parents are on our own. No more skipping the odd nighttime reading, knowing that the content will be covered in class the next morning. No my friends, we are left to fend for ourselves.

Thankfully, the BC Library Association and our local public library have developed a Summer Reading Club – one that encourages early readers to read one book a day, and gives them milestones to reach, weekly gifts, games and resources, and a prize (they can choose between a trophy and a new book) for reading every night for the duration of the Summer. Motivation for the kids, and ammo for us parents.

My girl has now completed 5 weeks of the Summer Reading Club, and only has 2 weeks to go. She has become a more confident and skilled reader, and I have become a more patient parent!

Check out the great Tips For Parents page on the Summer Reading Club website, and don’t give up frustrated mamas and papas, I promise it gets easier!

Have you been having a hard time teaching your little ones how to read? Do you have any other tips for making it easier for us parents?

Bits of Autumn

Fall Quote

I know it’s a bit colder out. I know the darkness falls earlier and earlier, and there’s a winter chill antagonizing us when we step outside. But those leaves – those beautiful, colourful, oranges and reds that fall from the sky and decorate the ground – how can you stay angry at the weather when it treats your senses to views like this:
Fall Photos
I’m a huge fan of Fall. And while it may not deliver warm days on the beach, or earlier sunrises, it does deliver a different kind of comfort through cozy sweaters, hot drinks, and extra family snuggles. And that’s enough to put a smile on my face.
What’s your favourite season?
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