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[caption id="attachment_21030" align="alignleft" width="300"]www.christinaestebanphotography.com He didn't freak out![/caption] A few weeks ago, I published a blog I’d written about my fight against anxiety and depression. I’d actually written the post a couple of months before it went online, around the time of Robin William’s tragic death. It hung around in the back end of WordPress for a while until I found the nerve to put it out there for the world, or at least the West Island, to see.

  Our daughter comes in the world 12-30-10 008Many years ago I was told by someone whom I admired and cared about very much told me, “Only the strongest women birth daughters”! From that moment on, I thought about the intense pressure it would be to raise a young lady. I also knew that growing up as a girl in my day wasn’t easy due to so much pressure on females to be pretty, skinny and popular in order to achieve success and be liked. Combine those two items and the birth of my daughter, and WHAMO! I was thrust into a lot of thought as to what lessons I wanted to teach my daughter so she would grow up feeling self-confident, strong, and loved and ready to tackle the world!

The holidays are quickly approaching—count them—2 weeks until winter vacation! Woohoo! BUT that doesn’t mean that studying can completely stop for most high school students since they have exams to face upon their return in January. They are expected to clear their brains for two weeks and relax, and then come back and remember everything they’ve learned since September. These circumstances are not ideal to set up, even the most organized students, for success.

 
Never in my wildest dreams did I think finding a job in my 40s would make me feel as though I just got out of college.
My job for the past 14 years has been being a Mom to my two wonderful kids. Little did I realize that these kids grow up and start having a life of their own, which is great! This is exactly what we want for them but the less they need from me the more I began to wonder what can I do to fill my time?

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took our son for his very first visit to the dentist.  I was bracing myself for complete and utter disaster; protest, tears, uncooperativeness, utter mayhem.  I was certain that the scary mask, the loud tools and the bright light would be too much for my sensitive three-year-old to handle. So when the visit went off without a hitch and involved lots of smiles, giggles dentist_logan2and a fluoride treatment to boot, I was in utter shock!

[caption id="attachment_20780" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image 1 My first on air experience raising funds for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at age 15.[/caption] I was 8 years old when my Uncle Jeffrey lost his battle with Cystic Fibrosis. His life was cut short at age 27 but characterized by courage, determination and impressive accomplishments including graduating from Dentistry School.

There are one bowl recipes and then there's really cheating. This is a SUPER cheat recipe because it's ridiculously easy to make and amazingly delicious. Think of the possibilities for this dish: appetizer, cocktail party food, meatless Monday main course with some other sides, light lunch...the possibilities are endless. The mixture of these fresh ingredients will satisfy your tastebuds, your busy schedule and will feel good for your overall health. This recipe serves 4 as a main dish. There are also mini portobello mushrooms available in most grocery stores which would be great as cocktail treats.

First and foremost – I want to say how honored I feel to be writing for Wise Women Montreal!!! I think it’s such an amazing resource and I feel so lucky to be on that list of contributors. Now, for you up to date followers – I recently wrote a little piece all about why art was good for children. It was received really well and the lovely ladies at Wise Women asked me to contribute on a more regular basis! Yippee!!! I could go on and on about art and all that (and I probably will post a couple things here and there about it) – or I could talk about another huge passion in my life – MAKEUP!

So….I am proud to say that I survived the “terrible twos” that everyone seems to rant and rave about.  To be perfectly honest, the twos weren’t so terrible after all; a few short-lived tantrums here and there, a handful of embarrassing moments at the mall, a little sprinkle of defiance.  But nothing outrageous. Nothing as heinous or gory as I expected.  I have to say, I spent most of my son’s second year waiting for impending doom, thinking, any day now, I’ll be living with the kid from the exorcist.  But it just didn’t happen. I thought to myself, how lucky am I to have gotten away scot-free, avoiding that dreadful, bratty phase that makes you want to gauge your eyes out.

My marriage is over…..what now? Is this a question that you would ever imagine asking yourself?  It certainly wasn’t for me. I never imagined that it would be ME.
I had never thought that my marriage would end and that I would have to go through the steps to a divorce.
I knew this was something that happened regularly, too regularly, but not to me.  I am someone who always believed that I would be in a long-term marriage – sure there are ups and downs in every marriage, but if you had ever asked me 5 years ago if I thought I would end up divorced, my answer would have been a strong and bold NO!

I found this novel very interesting because it involved mixing the past with the future, by balancing rare books with technology.
Who would think that both could be featured seamlessly in the novel together?  It takes place before, during, and after September 11, 2001.  Many issues are brought up in the story that weave their way around two sisters, Emily and Jess, who lost their mother at a very young age.

[caption id="attachment_20439" align="alignleft" width="75"]My husband looking fit. My husband looking fit.[/caption] Almost two years ago my hubby decided he needed to get in better shape.  He started looking for different apps as a way to log all his activities and achievements. He decided to try a fitness tracker which were relatively new on the market.  He absolutely loved knowing how many steps he took, how many calories, and  how many hours he slept at night. He would go to bed with this little electronic device which I couldn’t help but tease him about it by calling him a cyborg.  He would get up in the morning and check his stats.  He would study the colourful charts of his activity and would plan his goals for the day ahead.
His fitness tracker really did help him stay accountable.

There is no shame in using sex toys!
unnamed-2So why do myths still abound surrounding the use of toys? Part of the problem is that as a society we still have trouble talking about sex and pleasure openly. Thankfully, I am noticing a trend toward more sex toy exploration for the young and old. This is evidenced by the rise in online sales of sex toys and the appearance of boutique-like sex shops in many neighbourhoods. Yet, still, a knowledge base is clearly missing for many.

unnamed-6I didn't ever really care about age... I always looked young, felt young and was often told that I looked like my daughters' sisters! All that changed when I received a birthday card with a giant 65 on it and I thought -that can't be for me!!!!! But alas, I am aging just like everyone else! I'm not complaining, really, I know exactly how fortunate I am to be healthy and actively involved in life. ..  I never forget it. It's just that it hit me- big time - I'm finally realizing that things are rapidly moving in that other direction.
So I had better take full advantage of my good health and fulfill some dreams!

Scars are intriguing and fascinating. Each one tells a story.
Some people's scars invoke a beautiful memory such as the moment they entered motherhood. Others may stem from a more somber place such as war, abuse, surgery, or other injuries. Scars should be celebrated. They remind us of our body's incredible ability to heal. They are badges of honor that we acquire throughout our lives. Many spend a significant amount of money trying to minimize or eliminate their scars. To me, scars should not be erased. This would be akin to tearing a chapter out of a book and still expecting to understand the story in its entirety.

I was never one to preoccupy myself with finding a husband and having babies, not setting deadlines for these life events.
It had always been something that would “happen when or if it was meant to happen”. I was turning 30 and my career in Human Resources was starting to take shape and I wanted to continue to focus on developing that, all the while having a nagging feeling that if I didn’t pay attention to dating someone seriously I may find myself childless at 40. I knew that I wanted a family of my own it just really wasn’t a huge focus like many of my peers. Fast forward a couple of years and I met my now Husband and within 2 years of meeting we got married and bought a new home. The following year we had our daughter and two years later we had our son.

[caption id="attachment_20164" align="alignleft" width="300"]Baby on an iPad Creative Commons license by Tia.[/caption] When my now 15-year-old twin daughters were little, we would pack crayons and paper for them when we went out to restaurants. Remember crayons? I challenge you to spot a kid using crayons next time you visit any family restaurant anywhere. Most of the diaper set will be swiping their ketchup-smeared fingers across touch screens, chewing on their parents' expensive smartphones, playing engaging games or watching videos on electronic devices. iPads are the new crayons and board books.