Tag Archives: Lena
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It’s My 3 Year Blogiversary! ($100 Giveaway!)

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, and there’s so much I’m thankful for – including the fact that today, my little ol’ blog is 3 YEARS OLD!

Now I just happen to know a few readers who’ve been tuning in since October 8, 2008 when I published this little review on a Rimmel Eye Pencil (see? beauty obsessed even then) and to those very special peeps, I am humbled and incredibly touched by your support.

To the new readers who have joined in along the way – I love interacting with you, reading your warm and illustrative comments, and of course, liaising with the prize winners. What an awesome “job” I have.

And I’d like to propose a toast:

Cheers to me for finding something I love to do. I’ve worn a lot of hats over my career, and blogging is the only role that I’ve consistently poured my heart and soul into. Yes, I do wake up at 6:00am to blog, and no – I’ve never hit snooze on the alarm clock. I’m THAT addicted to writing.

Cheers to my family who not only support – but encourage – my little side business. Blogging has brought about many exciting and profitable opportunities, but my husband has been behind me since day one, when I wrote simply to have an escape from the suburban mom lifestyle. We giddily declare on a regular basis, “Who knew?”

Cheers to my friends (the girls and online buddies) who support my habit with witty comments, forwarded e-mails and timeless banter about shopping, family and the possibility of a patented coffee IV drip.

and of course…

Cheers to my readers who keep this blog relevant, keep me authentic, and keep coming back for more! *Blushing!*

Muah! Muah! Muah!

So what are my goals for the upcoming year?

I’d love to continue with the status quo… reviews, recipes, family and fun. A few awesome giveaways when the opportunity presents itself; a few random rants when appropriate and very necessary.

I’ve also teamed up with a spectacular brands – Fisher-Price, General Mills, Urban Barn, MTF Price Matters and more… so look for suggestions, tips and featured products from the companies I love.

Finally, although I’ve always maintained that the look of my blog really does reflect my personality (neon and bubbly) – I do feel that it’s time for a change. One that reflects how I’ve grown; and how my blog has matured and transitioned. Therefore I’ve enlisted the incredibly talented Sprout Abound (who is a new media designer, modern gentleman and overall good guy) to work with me to create a new Lena-inspired look. As I’ll also be making the big-girl move from Blogger to WordPress, let’s all join hands and hope the transition is a successful one!

And to round out this Blogiversary post, my very good friends at ShesConnected (thank you!) have decided to help me celebrate by offering my readers the chance to win a $100 Visa Gift card!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling everyone what you’re thankful for this year. I’ll draw for a winner at the end of the month – that $100 will come in handy for holiday shopping, I’m sure!

musings

Tell Me Something Good: Lesson Three

Hey hey, it’s the continuation of my “Tell Me Something Good” series, aimed at providing tips and techniques to help improve your communication skills. (And it only took about 5 months in between lessons! Yikes.)

Lesson One was to Speak with a Smile in Your Voice; a small change which yields great results… and something everyone is capable of. Lesson Two focused on one of the most frequent exchanges in communication – Asking.

Today I’ll like to teach you a thing or two about flirting. That’s right; good old fashioned eyelash-batting, sidelong glancing, giggling-like-a-schoolgirl flirting. What does flirting have to do with communication? Everything.

Now before you go all shy on me and say, “I can’t flirt!”… of course you can. Are you married? Have a boyfriend? Ever been on a date? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, YOU CAN FLIRT. I know so because it takes flirting to put a ring on it, put a bed under it, etc. etc.

But why should you incorporate flirting into your daily communication? Technically, it’s not really flirting you’re after, but rather the little tricks and techniques that come together to successfully “reel in your catch”. And for the purpose of this article, your “catch” can be anyone from the UPS dude to a potential employer; a little g-rated flattery can (and should) be applied generously and often, to both women and men alike.

(Flirt with a woman? An employer? YES! Flirting doesn’t always have a sexual or provocative undertone… a large component of being a flirt is simply engaging people in a charismatic way.)

Whenever I meet someone new, I like to flirt my way through my 5(+) C’s:

1. Confidence. Your level of self-esteem and confidence are highly in your control. I’ve never liked hearing the phrase “he/she shattered my confidence” because truly, you – and you alone – have the power to make or break your stride. Confidence is an attractive trait that people are inherently drawn to; in terms of communication (or “flirting”) it shows that you are proud of who you are and what you have to offer. Stand up straight, look people in the eye and have the courage to tell yourself that you’re a Pretty Big Deal (PBD). Just don’t confuse confidence with arrogance – it is possible to love yourself without being overly proud or insincere (see: Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino).

2. Charm. Paging Captain Obvious; you can’t be a good flirt if you’re not charming. And why not charm people? It takes so little effort to smile, pay attention and show that you’re interested. Charismatic, captivating people have open and inviting body language – they make eye contact; lightly touch people’s hand or arm when telling a story; toss their heads back when laughing. In short, charming people are both desired and desirable.

3. Courtesy. Or complimentary. Or conscientious. Or Christ-like. In other words, be nice. I should probably direct y’all back to Lesson One – Speak with a Smile in Your Voice – because this one line pretty much sums it up: “people REMEMBER nice folks just as much, or more, than they remember nasty peeps.” When I was young, magazines instructed girls to be aloof; to act disinterested and often rude to suitors in an effort to play hard to get. I never quite understood this reasoning and rebelled against it, going out of my way to be sweet and smiley to everyone I met. Turns out I’ve always been “in demand”, both on a platonic and hey-baby-can-I-have-your-number? level.

4. Conversation. To be a good communicator, one must be comfortable starting – and leading – conversations. Brilliant conversationalists are not born everyday, but there are a few easy steps to honing your own skills: make eye contact, speak clearly and coherently, use language familiar to the listener, stick to the topic, know when to speak and when to listen, express an interest in what’s being said, and know when to excuse yourself and move on. Of course, if you can do all this while incorporating 1. confidence, 2. courtesy and 3. charm, my work here is done!

5. Class. Whether flirting for kisses or flirting for a new mortgage rate, keep your words, actions and demeanor classy. Remember, interjecting a little fun and coyness can do wonders to improve your rapport with others, but only if you keep it light and cheerful.

There you have it! A few solid examples of how you can incorporate the principles of flirting into your everyday life to make you a better communicator.

Tell me – are you a flirt?

family

Hold on My Heart

A few nights ago, while lying in bed, I whispered to my husband, “They wouldn’t remember me. They wouldn’t know me.”

Having being aroused from his slumber, he blinked his eyes and asked ”Huh?”

“If something happened to me tomorrow,” I clarified. “Ryder is only 3; he would perhaps have selected memories of me, if any. Reid would remember nothing.”

“Go to sleep,” my husband ordered.

But I couldn’t let it go. I became obsessed with the idea of writing a letter to my boys. A letter that speaks to them today – but one I’d want them to read much, much later in life. Perhaps even after I’ve passed. Just a little note that gives them insight into my feelings, at this exact moment, while they’re still babies and will likely have no recollection of this time.

I also wanted to write a letter that tells it like it is. Because I’m not perfect. And they’re not perfect. But for better or worse, this is a snapshot of our time together. It goes something like this:

“Dear Ryder & Reid,

I’ll start this letter by addressing you both at the same time, because when writing about how much I love you, my feelings apply both equally and unconditionally. You are my LIFE. I have vague memories of a time before you, but at this very moment, every waking moment is consumed with thoughts of how fiercely I love you. Having children has both defined and justified my existence.

For Ryder:

Oh, where to begin. Dude, you cry waaay too much. It’s almost insufferable. Just shut up and calm down already; no, you can’t have jujubes for breakfast and yes, when I say stop jumping on the couch, I mean it. There are times when I really think you will break me; that I will throw my arms up in defeat and check into the hotel for bad mothers.

But at other times, I see this light shining in your eyes which reveals a beautiful, kind spirit. I see a playfulness and naughtiness that every child should hold onto for as long as humanly possible, before rules are established and routines are kept. Your smile is like warm sunlight on my face; it dazzles me and makes me incredibly aware of the quirky little man before me. I fantasize about the man you’ll become, and the lucky people who will bask in your glow. You are my first true love.

For Reid:

Just give up the boob already. What you’re doing is purely for show now. And I get it; it’s nice to have a warm, soft booby nearby. Remind me to mention this to your future girlfriends. But enough already; demanding “ne-ne” twenty times a day and then latching on for 2 minutes before you walk away does neither of us any good. You suck (literally) and it’s time to stop.

But I can never say no. I’ve got this unhealthy obsession with you. Perhaps it’s because I see so much of me in you, or because by nature, you’re just the sweetest little thing. But from the moment I held you in my arms, I realized that I could fall in love a second time – and just as hard. From your uncanny intelligence to your ever-ready smile, you pull at my heart and bring me to life. I’m not sure what I did to deserve you, but I will spend the rest of my life giving thanks.”

As you can see, it’s not all roses and lollipops. But it never is, is it? Still wouldn’t trade them for all the tea in China.


Have you recorded your thoughts & feelings in a journal – or post-dated a letter to your child? If you take the good and take the bad, what would it say?

musings

2nd Annual ShesConnected Conference in TO

As mentioned in an earlier post, I recently joined ShesConnected as a Community Manager. I’ve been helping to plan their conference (including being privy to all the juicy shoe party details!), liaising with the awesome sponsors (woot!) and tweeting all day long – you can catch me on their two Twitter streams – @shesconnected and @SCConference.

And if you do follow my tweets, you’ll see that there’s an enormous amount of buzz surrounding the conference, especially among Digital Women in Canada.

“The ShesConnected Conference is different than the typical conference. Women attending this event want to work with brands and are chosen based on their social reach, power of voice, and influence as well as requirements from the brands attending. This year we are pleased to be choosing 200 women, which has doubled from last year. If you’re selected, you’ll get to connect with top-tier brands and digital women over this two-day event.

The best part? You get to attend for FREE because the brands pay your conference fee!”

It’s a blogger’s dream – meeting up with peers, connecting with brands and learning from experts, all in a fun setting in downtown TO! For more information on the conference (September 29/30 at the Sheraton TO) please click here.

Just about all the conference invitations have been handed out, but if you’re a blogger – or someone who is very active across other social media platforms, like Twitter or Facebook – you can enter to WIN a ticket with me!

Simply click on over to this entry form and be sure to let us know why you want to come along. (Don’t you just love my Bobblehead? Nice boots!)

Good luck!

musings

Someone, Somewhere…

Last night, it took me a good two hours to fall asleep. In between staying up with Ryder (his tummy has been funny lately and therefore he’s been a bit clingy), trying to finally wean Reid (today is his 15-month birthday, translation: get off my freakin’ boob) and sorting through all the posts and commitments I have coming up, I was literally staring straight ahead for what felt like an eternity.

So I began to play the simple game I always play – a little time-filler I invented years ago while coping with a broken heart. It’s called “Someone, Somewhere…” and I begin by defining my feelings at that exact moment in time. For example, I may think:

“I’m so tired of shouting at the boys. Why can’t they just behave.” And then the little game begins… and I let my imagination run free.”Someone, somewhere is throwing up her hands in defeat.”
“Someone, somewhere took a positive pregnancy test and is screaming for joy.”
“Someone, somewhere just learned his petition to adopt was denied.”
“Someone, somewhere just reunited with an estranged child.”
“Someone, somewhere is holding her baby for the first time.”
“Someone, somewhere is kissing her child goodnight.”
“Someone, somewhere just lost custody of his children.”
“Someone, somewhere watched her baby take his last breath.”

Because that’s the way the world works, right? No matter what you’re doing, or feeling, at any moment in time, someone… somewhere in the world is either going through the exact same thing – or has it much better or worse. And I find it really helps put things in perspective for me; it allows me to feel connected to a lone stranger out there who’s on the same page; gives me hope that things will turn around; or it helps me look on the positive side knowing that it could be so, so much worse. Someone, somewhere thinks that I’ve got a wonderful life.

And for the moment… Someone, somewhere is lying on a beach. Sigh… one day.

What is your Someone, Somewhere…?

musings

Headlines

Hey Fabulous Readers!

I’m back from a much-needed blogging break. SO much to tell!

My head is swimming with details and I simply don’t know where to begin, so forgive me if I list the awesomeness via Headlines:

BLOGHER ’11 ROCKED
I spent 5 days in sunny San Diego, enjoying my first (and certainly not last) blogging conference. For bloggers wondering what the conference is all about, and what to expect, I’ll let Google handle your inquiries – you’ll find many amazing posts on the subject, all from unique perspectives that really are a must-read. For my part, I’ll just say this: GO. Go once. Go every year. Go because you want to. Go because you should. Just GO.

FORD CANADA RULES
As you likely saw from a previous post, I was sponsored by Ford to attend the event. Ford put together a wonderful group of ladies – including Donna Antoniadis from ShesConnected, Erica Ehm of YummyMummyClub fame, Dee Brun the Cocktail Deeva – and superstar bloggers from across Canada that I had the esteemed pleasure of both meeting and tweeting. More posts about my experience at BlogHer to come.

VASANTI ON MY CHEEKS, SKECHERS ON MY FEET
I was also lucky to have my makeup for the event provided by Vasanti Cosmetics, and SKECHERS outfitted my shoes for the duration of the trip (four stylin’ pairs to be exact). Yup, awesomeness all around… and posts on those fabulous sponsors to come as well.

THE END OF THE GIVEAWAY GAME
I embarked on the conference with an open mind and put much thought into the direction of my blog. And after a lot of soul searching, I realized that my true strengths – and desires, for that matter – lie in posts that aren’t necessarily tied to reviews and/or giveaways. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE giving back to my readers, and will likely review many more products in my time, but have decided to transition away from a “review” blog and get back to Listen to Lena! 101: shopping, family, recipes and fun. So after my final set of giveaways for the Summer Beauty & Fashion Guide, you’ll see more classic Lena posts; me just writing for the sheer pleasure of writing. To all my sweepstakes friends, thanks for stopping by! Hope y’all will stay for a good story or two.

SLEEP DERIVATION
With so much going on over the last few days, I need to turn in! Goodnight friends, back for more fun tomorrow!

beauty

Summer Beauty & Fashion – To Be Continued!

Whew! What a Summer Beauty & Fashion packed month! If you look to the right, you’ll see that THIRTY companies were featured in July, a feat this mommy blogger won’t be repeating again for a long time, ha!

I actually didn’t get to all the features I had intended, as I ran out of time and quite frankly, am really burned out. So I decided to hold back six (6) giveaways for the middle of August, when I’ll wrap up my beauty event with features on some of the hottest drugstore beauty finds around. I’ve decided to call it my “Bargain Beauty” segment – tune in for giveaways from Rexall, Burt’s Bees, Hard Candy, The Dial Company, got2b and Joe Fresh!

Until then, I’ll be taking a short hiatus later this week – more on where I’ll be, and what I’ll be doing, to come!

musings

Blogging Just to Blog

Stop the presses! Could this actually be a post with no review or giveaway attached? Why YES, indeed it is!

As much as I love reviewing products and offering my awesome readers a chance to win, I’ve missed just jotting down my thoughts, rants, etc. So I decided to take an afternoon to just be Lena, and chat about some of the things that have been on my mind. Here we go:

1. I’m sick of summer. I know, I’m opening myself up to boos, hisses and strategically placed middle fingers when I say this, but the truth is, I.CAN’T.BREATHE. It’s so freakin’ hot! Every day seems to have a humidex value in the mid-thirties, and even with sun protection, I am burning to a crisp. Another little victim is poor Ryder – he’s been having massive nosebleeds on a daily basis that our pediatrician has attributed to the constant heat. I’m done with this season! “Paging: September.”

2. I just opened the fridge and was confronted with two 2L bottles: one was Coke Zero, the other, Coca-Cola. Even though the junk in my trunk dictates I should have reached for the Coke Zero, I decided to have just a sip or two of the real thing. When I twisted off the cap, a swirl of cold condensation looped out of the bottle, just like you see on TV. Diagnosis: delicious. 

RANDOM PIC: ISN’T REID A DOLL?

3. How many of y’all keep a pack of chewing gum in your car? I used to all the time, until I noticed a warning on my pack of Excel: “Do not expose to extreme heat.” With the temperature today comparable to hell itself, I would suggest yanking gum, plastic bottles and other perishable goods (obviously) out of your automobile. There’s some evidence (myth? fact?) that when aspartame is heated, it releases a toxic chemical. Not sure if it’s an urban legend, but if Wrigley Canada doesn’t want to take chances, neither should we.

4. How come you can’t tickle yourself? Not that I spend copious amounts of time trying to get in cheap laughs, but I do tickle the boys – a lot – and the other day, Ryder said “Mommy tickle you.” So then I had to tickle myself and fake ridiculous laughter for two minutes. (Not that women know about faking things…) But seriously, why can’t you tickle yourself? Perhaps tickling belongs in the same camp as massages – someone else needs to do it to work.

RANDOM PICS: RYDER’S NEW SMILE.
THERE GOES HIS MODELLING CAREER.
SERIOUSLY, WTH?
5. I need a recommendation for a good frizz-fighting product. I’m just about to put L’Oréal’s Frizz Taming Creme Serum to the test, but let’s just say my hopes aren’t high. I’ve yet to find a product that can counteract Treasure Troll hair. I have my hair trimmed regularly, use a quality deep conditioner, and always spritz a leave-in with SPF when I’m in the sun for long periods of time. Still, fuzz city. Seriously, any reco’s?

That was a nice break! Now back to the Beauty Event! xo

beauty

#WhatGodGaveMe

I hope everyone is enjoying my Summer Beauty & Fashion Guide!

Here’s a quick little beauty tidbit – in the last week (and likely because you’ve been subjected to too many of shots of my mug) – I’ve received many comments asking about the brand/colour of my contact lenses.

*Giggle* 

Well, I’m going to spill my secret – they’re my own! #WhatGodGaveMe. Yes, they’re a freakish hue. But they’re 100% Lena.

Thanks for being interested in me! xo

beauty

5 Essential Beauty Do’s

While I believe I’ve mastered the art of communicating some of the best beauty tips from the pros, I feel the need to put my own little spin on this beauty event – you know, offer up some Lena-inspired advice.

Now I’m not an expert (not even close), but I do know what makes me feel pretty. So I give you my 5 Essential Beauty Do’s –

1. Smile often. There is nothing prettier on a gal than a sincere, toothy grin. It does wonders to make you look fresher, younger, and above all, happier. (Before Victoria Beckham stopped eating, she used to smile too!)

2. Take the compliment. Are you quick to refuse compliments? Deflect them with self-criticism instead – “Oh no, I look terrible today! My hair is frizzy…” etc, etc. BAH. Just take the compliment, sister. People say nice things because you deserve them. A simple “thank you!” will do. (Of course, some people dole out insincere compliments. Recognize the source. They’re known as jealous b*tches.)

3. Find your perfect weight. Not everyone is meant to be a size 2, and no one should be a size 22. As long as you’re healthy and follow a good diet and exercise regime, learn to love your body. Stuffing your face with donuts is bad. So is stuffing your face with salad. Find balance and move on with your life.

4. Make time for pretty. Unless you have an actual allergy to makeup, there’s no excuse to leave the house bare faced. Take all of 10 seconds for a sweep of bronzer or blush and a swipe of tinted lip gloss. You’ll instantly look softer and more feminine. Plus, you can find cheek stains and lip glosses with sun protection, so you’ll actually do your skin a favour.

5. Be beautiful on the inside. It does wonders for how people perceive your outer beauty.

Do you have any “Beauty Do’s” to add to my list?

musings

It’ Snot Fun, Said the Sickie

I’ve been sitting in front of my computer since 6:00am, trying to find inspiration to write a post. A recipe? A random rant? A review? I don’t know.

Staring out the window, I realize that it’s because I’m sick.as.a.dog. Now I’m not quite sure if I’ve got allergies or a summer cold (ewww, #losing)… but my head hurts, my face hurts, even my teeth hurt. I want my blankie.

It’s taken me about 52 minutes to realize that before my boys wake up, and the chaos ensues, I should really be curled up in bed with a nice cup of hot tea.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Lena time now; blogging later. Now why couldn’t I have come up with this post 51 minutes ago?

Be back soon, peeps – hope y’all have a wonderful day!

musings

I said a hip hop, a hippity hop…

If you have 1 minute and 20 seconds to waste today, you can view the following video of Reid bouncing to old school beats. Oh, and be sure to check out his head moves at around the 22 seconds mark.

(The husband just hollered “Upload the Big Daddy Kane video!” – I don’t think so.)

Far more interesting is the fact that he will ONLY dance to hip hop music, whereas Ryder shuns all genres except retro 80′s.

EPMD. Dr. Dre. Common. Outkast. Pop it in, and Reid will stop what he’s doing and start dancing. Lucky for him my husband has a whole library of crap rap (most of which he’s forbidden to play due to explicit lyrics – if Ryder ever says “G’s Up Ho’s Down” I WILL have a coronary.)

As for me? I’m down for a little Taylor Swift, thank you very much.

musings

The Sights, Sounds and Smells of Summer

Ah… blogging just to blog. After an obligatory run of giveaways (more to come) it feels nice to just unwind with a chillin’ post. Which brings me to the title: The Sights, Sounds and Smells of Summer.

Last week, the whole family went out for a late afternoon stroll. Pulling the little guys in their wagon, we traipsed through the neighbourhood, basking in the warm summer day. As we turned on to a parallel street, I heard the faint sound of ethnic music drifting through an open window. Immediately, I was filled with nostalgia… but couldn’t nail down the exact memory.

We continued down the block, and within moments I felt yet another throwback to my youth: the pungent scent of Middle Eastern food wafting through a screen door.

And then it hit me: air conditioning killed the sights, sounds and smells of summer.

I began thinking back to my childhood; of my neighbours, who always had every window open and a constant stream of Portuguese folk songs bellowing a happy tune. Of the college kid around the corner who spent all summer in his open garage, working on his motorcycle (I may have had a tiny crush). I remembered the elderly lady across the street, who unfailingly greeted Saturday morning with a spicy curry you could smell for miles. And of people – friends, strangers, children of all ages – lounging on their balconies or the front porch. Kids circling the driveway on bicycles, skipping with one end of the rope tied to a railing. And all just to catch a hint of cool breeze… because the thought of staying in a sticky, hot, sweltering house was just not an option.

But that day, walking down that street… you’d think every single home was unoccupied. Doors and windows closed tight, not allowing one inch of precious bought-air to escape. The eerie quiet of citizens locked inside, with only the hum of air conditioners heard every few paces. The sun beating down on the back of my neck was the only factor that tied my childhood to the present.

How I miss the sights, sounds and smells of summer. Almost as much as I miss that green, polka dot romper.
musings

I’m Back, Baby!

For the last 9 months, I’ve been feeling a little dark. Dark-haired, actually. For the longest time since I first started highlighting my hair at age 17, I sported my natural colour – a dark, reddish brown.

Nine months!!! Okay, this may not seem long to some, but for those who know me (and my frequent hair colour changes), the longest I’ve ever stuck to natural has been 2-3 months max… then it’s back to the bottle.

So last week, I succumbed to the call of a bright, summer hue… and had strips of blonde put back where they belong. Highlights, how I missed you so!

Unfortunately, it was pouring buckets on the way home from the salon, so my beautifully blown out hair turned into drowned out frizz. But, after a quick towel dry, I couldn’t resist snapping a pic. It’s good to be back, baby!

(Highlights by Jermaine Stewart at Donato Salon and Spa, Square One – he’s been doing my hair for almost 10 years!)

Look out summer, here I come! I think I’ll go a teeny bit blonder next time… didn’t want to shock my tresses with too much peroxide the first time around.

Who’s with me? Anyone else going light for the warmer weather? Or, has anyone cut their hair in anticipation of hot summer nights? Woot!

musings

Happy Victoria Day!

For my Canadian readers, it’s the unofficial start of summer! What are you doing this Victoria Day long weekend?

Years ago, “May 2-4″ meant a lot of things to me – predominantly booze, barbecues and bikinis. Planning a trip to the cottage, lake or (if weather permitted) beach required much organization and resources, a task that is still undertaken by truckloads of teens today.

When my partying days were over, I looked forward to what every working gal does – a day off. There was still booze and barbecues… but rather than keep the party going through ’til Monday night, Victoria Day long weekend represented a chance to sleep in and unwind.

(For my American friends, Victoria Day is a Canadian public holiday that occurs each year in May to commemorate the birthday of Queen Victoria.)

Then, last year, a little angel changed my perception of this holiday forever…

Tomorrow is Reid’s first birthday! I must admit I’ve been feeling slightly alarmed (and heartbroken) at the thought of one year flying by so quickly. We’ve planned a small birthday party for him; family, a few close friends, and a handful of cute babies and toddlers. And after a week of endless rain, the weatherman is calling for nothing but sun on Reid’s special day!

Happy Victoria Day everybody!

musings

Stay Tuned…

Friends, it is physically impossible for me to blog right now.

Reid is wailing like a high-pitched siren, demanding more banana.
Ryder is trying to climb on top of me to watch “5 Little Monkeys” on YouTube.
The phone is ringing that annoying long distance chime.
A coffee is going down the path from lukewarm to cold.
My head is thumping with a migraine due to all the rain…

Exacerbated by the previous four points.

Waa. Waa. Waa.

Be back to blogging soon! In the meantime, stay dry! xo

musings

Tell Me Something Good: Lesson Two

It’s the continuation of my “Tell Me Something Good” series, aimed at providing tips and techniques to improve your communication skills. Lesson One was to Speak with a Smile in Your Voice; a small change which yields great results… and something everyone is capable of.

Today, I’d like to focus on the most basic form of communication – that is, opening your mouth and speaking. Or in this case – Asking.

Last year, I shared with you the story of Balmshell. Included in the feature was this quote from Jennifer Lees, co-creator of the company:

“‘You only get in life what you have the courage to ask for’. Remember that quote. I was watching an Oprah Winfrey show and one audience member stood up and asked if Oprah would come and visit her small hometown. Everyone in the audience laughed because they assumed there was no way that Oprah would go. Two months later, Oprah dedicated a full show on visiting that small town. The woman was so shocked when Oprah arrived at her door with a TV crew. When asked why she obliged that audience member’s request, Oprah said ‘You only get in life what you have the courage to ask for.’ I always remembered that.”

And I’ve been living my life by that motto ever since.

Because let’s be real – most of the time, things just aren’t handed to you on a silver platter. From a young age, you earn your education. Later, you earn your pay. And I’m quite certain you’ve even earned that “World’s Greatest Mom/Dad” mug in your cupboard. But along away, did you have the courage to ask for the things you wanted/needed? Did you ask for an extension on a paper? A raise in salary? Help when you needed it? On the contrary, have you ever wished so hard for something, but didn’t receive it… only to hear in the end, “Why didn’t you just ask?”

Now most of the time we’re not asking for a spare organ, or the rights to one’s first-born. But there are several reasons why people are reluctant to pipe up:

1. Fear of Rejection. Of course! Who isn’t scared to be shot down? Rejection makes us feel invalidated and frankly, kind of dumb. Plus, sometimes summoning up the necessary courage to ask for something is perceived as not worth the effort… which actually translates to “it’s not worth the embarrassment of being told no.” But if you’re already stuck on all the reasons you’ll be denied, chances are you’ll never go on a limb for what you want and/or believe in. So wrong!

2. Fear of Making the Other Person Uncomfortable. So maybe it’s not about you after all. Maybe you’re selfless; you just want to ensure that you’re not putting anyone in an awkward position based on your request. Two words: COP OUT. I can defend this argument for two reasons: 1) People in your inner circle – such as friends and family – are in your life to help out. And if they can’t, they will say so. If it makes them uncomfortable to speak what’s on their mind, surprise! They’re not in your inner circle after all. 2) People outside your inner circle take things a lot less personally than you perceive. Again, you’re not asking for a spare liver or spleen. If the “askee” can’t be frank and honest with the “asker”, without feeling backed against a wall… that’s not really your problem, is it?

3. We Don’t Know Whom to Ask. That’s a pretty serious roadblock to asking – especially if asking the wrong person means hearing the answer “no”. But it’s so simply solved – do quick research ahead of time to see if you’ve found the person who can best address your question. If you’ve asked a non-decision maker in error, ask to be directed to the correct person without delay, before you back down to due to #1.

4. We Don’t Know How to Ask. As children, we’re taught we can get almost anything our hearts desire with one simple word – please. “Can I watch TV please?” “Can I have some more milk please?” “Can I go to Sally’s house to play… please?” But somewhere along the way, we began to ask more theatrical questions (“If I jump off the balcony wearing my Superman cape will I fly into the sky?”) and were shot down cold. So we lost our desire to ask for things… but our moms had it right all along. Ask, with a polite demeanor and an open mind. You can’t control the answer, but you can have the courage (and imagination) to ask just the same.

5. Pride. Sometimes, we all want to be seen as self-sufficient, able… perfect. And anything less will lead to loss of respect. “If we ask it is an admission of lack of something. Since we in our pride consider ourselves to be perfect, any asking will lead to declaring our vulnerability and competence,” says Sanjay Behuria, author and life coach. But I disagree. I see speaking up – asking – as having confidence. I’m confident enough to admit my shortcomings, and seek help when necessary. And, I’m confident that whether I hear the answer I’m hoping for, I’ll still find a way to achieve my ultimate goal. Never let pride stand in your way.

6. Low Self-Esteem. Perhaps you feel you’re not worthy; your needs are not important. So why bother to ask? Well, I can’t help you here. Loving one’s self comes from within – not a tutorial!

Have you ever held back asking for what you want? And, have you identified with one of the reasons noted above?

Me too. But after reading the quote from Miss Winfrey, I actually made a commitment to start asking for what I want. And you know what? It’s not as scary as it seems.

Lena’s Life: Readers will remember that I had the opportunity to try The Fresh Diet last winter. At $1346 per month, it’s not cheap. And many readers wrote in to me, assuming that the company wanted a little bit of press, and therefore sent me a month’s worth of the diet to review.

Well, they did… but what you don’t know is that the ball started rolling with me – writing to the company and asking for them to sponsor me for a month. When I told my husband that I had just contacted a company and pitched them for about $1500 worth of food and services, he laughed.

“Are you kidding?” he said. “Who’s going to give you an entire meal plan – worth over $1000 – for free?”

I wasn’t swayed. I knew the worst thing they could do was say no, or ignore my e-mail, and frankly, my life wouldn’t change a bit. But having the confidence – the courage – to face rejection by putting myself out there, made me remember Oprah’s quote all over again. I printed it out and stuck it to the whiteboard in my study.

Days later, when I received a note from the company telling me that they’d be pleased to send me The Fresh Diet for 30 days, I realized once again what sets people apart… the power to ask for what you want.

What will you ask for today?

family

Little Boys (Enough Said)

It’s so funny that just over a week ago, my girlfriends and I were sitting in a restaurant discussing the merits of having girls over boys.

“Girls are expensive and there’s a 98% chance she’ll dress like a tramp,” one opined.

“Boys are always in the emergency room,” another counseled.

We laughed heartily, knowing full well that that all kids are a blessing, regardless of their gender. But it seems pretty coincidental that just 6 hours later, Ryder took a tumble which necessitated an emergency room visit. I made reference to it in my Dr.Oz post below, so I thought I’d share the details with y’all.

It all started in the wee hours of Easter morning. Ryder snuck into our room and climbed in bed with us on my husband’s side. As it’s a somewhat familiar occurrence he didn’t think much of it, and wrapped his arms around Ryder. (Usually he would have deposited him in the center of the bed, but that piece of real estate was already being rented by Reid! King sized beds = Worth every penny.)

Well, both my husband and Ryder shifted positions ever so slightly, and I’m assuming Ryder was dreaming, because he rolled off our bed with a flourish. I woke up when I heard a Thump! and sat upright, only to see Ryder calmly climb back in bed and snuggle up in the middle next to me (Reid had since transitioned to the other side – where a baby gate keeps him from falling).

We all went back to sleep without incident… or so I thought. About and hour later, I awoke to see Ryder’s eyes wide open, staring straight ahead.

“What’s wrong, honey? Why aren’t you sleeping?” I asked.
“Boo boo ear,” he whispered back hoarsely.

I immediately instructed hubby to turn on the lights – and encountered a trail of blood on the pillow. Oh no, I thought. I inspected Ryder’s right ear and saw a fresh, angry red laceration across the top of the ear, and a small degree of swelling around the cut.

Oh no.

(It was apparent that he had clipped the side of our night table on the way down – and likely bashed his ear against it quite badly.)

After cleaning his ear with hydrogen peroxide, I took him downstairs so I could ice the area. Not fun! He squirmed every time I came within two feet and cried in pain when the cold made contact. And even with my feeble attempts at keeping the swelling down, within hours the cartilage ballooned up an angry, purplish-blue,  and his ear proceeded to stick out at a 45-degree angle from his head.

I was scared. Courtesy of my husband’s UFC obsession, I had seen way too many MMA fighters with cauliflower ears after blunt force trauma. I Googled and found out that an ear can cauliflower after repeated blows… or just one, hard whack. Incision and drainage was necessary to protect the integrity of the ear, and must be carried out before the cartilage began to undergo changes due to the blood collection.

So although we were meant to spend Easter with my parents, we ended up taking Ryder to the Emergency Kids Clinic at Trillium Hospital (which, thank goodness, is open on holidays and after hours).

The doctor there gave us the best news – his ear canal was not affected at all. BUT, as for the bruising and swelling, he confirmed that a hematoma had started to form in his ear, and careful observation would be crucial over the next few days to determine if drainage was required. Follow up with our pediatrician within 24 hours was mandatory.

The next day, I brought Ryder to our pediatrician, who once again went through the steps to ensure Ryder’s hearing was perfect and examined the hematoma. And then he said something that completely blew me away:

“Ryder needs to see a plastic surgeon,” he advised. “He’s so young, we don’t want to take any chances, and he would be the one to perform the incision and drainage if necessary.”

(I must admit that at this point, I briefly wondered if I could ask for a 2 for 1 deal on an ear drainage for baby and boob lift for mommy. I know, bad mommy.)

So the next day I took him to a world-renowned plastic surgeon (there were a few hotties in his office but I couldn’t help wondering what they had had done) and I daresay Ryder was his youngest patient in the waiting room.

The surgeon’s verdict? He didn’t have to “slice it open” (his words, not mine) just yet; we’d still be on daily watch. He wanted to see if the hematoma would resolve by itself without drainage, because the cartilage felt firm and not squishy (as in the case with future cauliflowers), and he didn’t want to take the risk of secondary infection by performing an operation that wasn’t strictly warranted.

I met the surgeon at the hospital two days later, and arrived with newfound optimism due to Ryder’s ear taking a dramatic turn for the better. The swelling had resolved by about 50%, and the ear started turning blackish-yellow, a sure sign the bruising was on it’s way out too. For the first time in 5 long days, we received confirmation that drainage was no longer the expected prognosis. Woo hoo!

Today, his ear is still bruised… but not so noticeable unless you look for it. A less angry red line is still visible across most of his upper ear, but 95% of the swelling has resolved and it sticks out only minutely. Who knew a simple tumble could bring about so many complications?

But I digress… little boys do spend their fair share of time in doctor’s offices.

I couldn’t bear to take a picture of Ryder with his ear swollen… but here he is on Day 5 of recovery. As you can see, the injury hasn’t affected his demeanor at all!

RYDER, DAY 5
family

Thirty-Three Things

Since my very first job, I’ve upheld a tradition – I never work on my birthday. It’s too depressing to be chained to a computer on a day that I traditionally have cake and Coca-Cola for breakfast!

Last year, I posted a list of my thirty-two favourite things. Well, 365 days later, a lot of those faves still hold true… but I’ve made some amendments to reflect the wonderful changes in my life, and added another favourite thing, of course.

In no particular order:

1. Shopping at Wal-Mart early on a Sunday morning2. Listening to Reid babble away
3. Finding a Joe Fresh dupe for an OPI nail colour
4. Stumbling upon an unpublished sale
5. Writing with a 0.7mm retractable lead pencil
6. Drinking wine to get drunk
7. Quoting one-liners from Seinfeld
8. Checking items off a to-do list
9. Watching little boys play with cars
10. Seeing the rewards of generosity and kindness
11. Having some one else wash my hair
12. Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get. - D. Carnegie
13. Enjoying a ripe mango out of season
14. Watching Wipeout with Ryder
15. Finding a loonie or toonie on the floor
16. Hitting “Publish Post” when I’ve finished blogging
17. Playing Tetris, and beating my high score
18. Hearing Reid sigh and yawn as he wakes up
19. Checking The Weather Network and seeing nothing but sun
20. Listening to Ryder admonish Reid (“Reid! Don’t do that! Mommy get mad a’you!”)
21. The smell of crisp, clean sheets hanging on a clothesline
22. Finding a really great drugstore mascara
23. My three dudes on a Sunday morning:

24. Sampling goodies at Costco
25. Watching little girls skip double-dutch – and resisting the urge to join in
26. Laughing so hard I cry
27. The sound of rain tapping against a window
28. Giving myself a 5-minute manicure
29. Watching Telus commercials
30. Picking out a perfectly ripe cantaloupe
31. Receiving a phone call from a friend
32. Realizing my husband already cleaned the kitchen
33. Daydreaming

See you tomorrow!

food

Today’s Blog Posts Brought to You By…

… the Number 6. That’s how many times, on average, I re-heat my morning cup of coffee. I’ve realized that between getting Ryder’s breakfast ready and plated, breastfeeding Reid, feeding Reid his morning cereal, and squeezing in a slice of toast for myself… plus a few blog posts… it takes me about 1.5 hours to finish a cup of joe.

What would I do without my microwave?