Charity and Spoiled Kids

The Christmas season is among us. Festive music is playing, stores are buzzing with shoppers, and there are colourful lights everywhere. It’s especially exciting when you have little ones to celebrate with because they get so excited about Christmas presents and family get-togethers. My children are very fortunate to be spoiled with gifts every holiday season, as was/am I as a child/adult.

This past year I’ve done a lot of reflecting about all of this “stuff” that we accumulate and the connection it has to our happiness. The happiest I’ve seen my kids is when they’re playing with family members, when we are reading together, or when they are helping me decorate for a birthday party. The happiest I’ve been is when I’m with my family in those moments where nothing else matters but just being there with them. In the past couple of months I’ve found the ability to savour those moments and make more of them without the stress and worry that usually occupies my mind. And in those moments, I realize I’m not missing a thing.

This year what I want to give my children the most is a lesson in charity and giving. It’s been weighing on my heart and mind and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be struggling to feed or clothe my children. I’ve always had all of my needs, and usually my wants, meant without question. I’ve always had a living room full of presents to open on Christmas Day. I’ve always had plenty of new clothes in my closet, tons of good food in my fridge, and a beautiful warm house to enjoy my family in. The only thing I am asking for Christmas this year is that people make donations to a local charity to help someone else out this year. I don’t need anything new. I’ve already got everything (and more) that I could possibly need and want.

I’ve also been researching the best ways to possibly show my children the importance of charity and giving. Today’s Parent lists 9 ways to teach your kids about charity. This year I will be taking my kids with me to make a donation to the food bank. I hope one day they will understand how lucky they are to grow up so loved and so blessed.



There is no Modern Mommy in the world who hasn’t discussed this subject: Sleep.  It’s so important for every single human being to have an “adequate” amount of sleep in order to be healthy and high functioning.  I love sleep.  Enter babies.  Life changes.  Suddenly our own sleep isn’t the problem.  It’s not staying up partying all night or binge watching your favourite show that has caused those bags under your eyes.  It’s someone else’s sleep habits that have suddenly become the focus of your LIFE.

I got a lot of sleep with my first baby.  She was pretty good (other than the initial first two months which I’ve blocked from my memory).  I knew nothing about baby sleep habits and I’d never even read an article about proper sleep habits for a baby.  Then came #2 and now I can recite every method ever created for how to get babies to go to sleep, stay asleep all night, and nap on a schedule.  I’ve bought books, I’ve researched, I’ve asked around… I would consider myself an expert… except for the fact that my kids don’t sleep through the night.  And while I get more sleep than I did two years ago, I’m still often sleep deprived.

These are my TIPS about babies/kids sleeping:

  • Bedtime routine – keep it simple, keep it calming, keep it consistent. All experts would say this and it holds true to any type of child.  I just started throwing in some bedtime yoga for my youngest because she’s super active and needs to be crazy before bed, while my oldest needs quiet cuddle time. But bath, snack, stories work for both.
  • BE CONSISTENT – kids actually love routine and knowing what to expect.  But they can be moody and will challenge you.  As the adults WE need to be the consistent ones.  If you start out by rocking them or lying down with them, be prepared to do that every night or make a plan to ease out of it.
  • Limit sugar – duh!  Sugar makes kids nuts.  Sugar makes people nuts!  Don’t give it to them before bed and expect them to chill out immediately.
  • Choose what method works best for each child and learn to adjust to changes – Whether you choose to let them “cry it out” or rock them to sleep every night, every child is SO different.  Every day is so different!  Two weeks ago, my youngest was sleeping soundly through the night, one week ago she was up once a night crying for some unknown reason, and now she’s sick so I’m sleeping in a recliner in her room as she wakes crying every half hour.  We have learned to “go with the flow”.  I’m still consistent with the routine but I know I’m not going to be getting much sleep for the next couple of nights.
  • Take care of yourself – Mommy needs her sleep too!  Sometimes it seems impossible, but every week I promise myself that I will try and get more sleep.  Right now, that means giving up on a super clean house before bed, skipping the eye make-up (but caking on the concealer), and going to bed a early as possible.  And when it comes to sick kids, everyone is different, but I end up rooming with the little booger factories because it means getting up less at night for BOTH of us.
  • Do what you need to do to survive – In the end, I have certain boundaries but flexibility comes in when it means that everyone gets the most amount of sleep.  A well rested household is a happy one.

The main thing that I’ve learned is that it’s only temporary.  EVERY SINGLE STAGE IS TEMPORARY!!!!  Even when it feels like forever, it won’t last.  Something new will happen of course, but they won’t be small forever.  I posted this poem on my bulletin board at work and on days where I come into my full time job exhausted (like today), I read it.  It sits there to remind me that it really doesn’t last forever and that one day, they’ll grow up and it will just be a memory and I will miss those little hands and the chaos of bath time.

Nothing lasts forever.  Enjoy every single moment you can.

Mommy Guilt

Dear Babies,

You girls are the light of my life. Everything about children being the love of your life is true.  I was in love with you from the time you were a little plus sign on my pee stick.  From the first moment that you were placed on my chest (after hours of labour) I loved your little baby parts, from your hands to your pouty lower lip.  You were both beautiful babies, big and strong from the beginning, yet so precious.  Josephine, you made me a mother.  You taught us how to be parents from “scratch” when we knew nothing.  Lucille, you were mine from the start.  You challenged me in ways I hadn’t experienced and showed me a different side of parenthood, just when I thought I had figured it out.

You girls have brought me so much joy over the years.  It’s been challenging but also so rewarding to watch you girls grow up.  I’ve tried to be a great mother and I know I’ve done a pretty good job.  But I’m not perfect.

Josephine, I’m sorry that I can’t always nurture your sensitive side.  I know that when I lose my temper when we are in a time crunch or when I can’t find my keys, or other unimportant things, I cause you sadness and confusion.  Your sweet little mind should never have to worry about adult issues.  When your big eyes look up at me, welled with tears, because you just want peace and happiness, I feel so guilty.  I wish I could always surround you with love and happiness, but we know that I can’t.  But I can tell you that none of our sadness, anger, or frustration, is about you.  I love your gentle nature and that when I need a hug, you are the first to comfort me.  You are the sweetest part of my day.

Lucille, I’m sorry for the many moments of impatience and frustration that you’ve had to experience with me as your mother.  I’ve been tired since you were in my stomach.  I’ve been sleep deprived since you were born.  And your stubborn independence has caused many moments of me pulling out my hair.  But you are truly amazing.  You are so smart and you observe the world with such intent and interest, ready to learn and then jump right in.  You are incredibly funny and while you make me scream, you make me laugh in the next instance.  You amaze me every day with what you are capable of accomplishing.  I’m sorry for the late night four letter words that come out of my mouth when you wake me up because even though I don’t know why you need me, you do and I promise to always be there.  And I’m sorry for my impatience with you when you are trying to do EVERY SINGLE THING by yourself because I also admire that you are so incredibly independent and I am amazed by you.

Ladies, I’m sorry for being tired, annoyed, and grumpy.  I’m sorry for wanting to be alone when you girls just want to be near me.  I’m sorry for not having the patience sometimes and then taking it out on you by raising my voice.  I’m sorry for bringing my adult problems home into your perfect little world of wonder.  You two will see that side of the world soon enough because you are only this little for such a short period of time and I only get to watch you grow up once.  And so mostly I’m sorry for not appreciating every single second that I get to spend with you.

I’m not perfect.  I’m only human.  I can’t always be the best part of your day but I’ll always try to be the best mother I can and I’ll always be the one who loves you the most.



AdamandChar blog

Cleaning in a Pinch


Modern Mommy Cleaning Caddy

Nothing makes me happier than being surrounded by a clean house.  I love when the floors shine and the sinks are white and the faucets reflect back at me.  I love when I walk into my house and there is no clutter and things are placed perfectly where they belong. But let’s face it: that rarely actually happens and when it does, it lasts for about a minute.

I don’t have time to clean the way I’d like to.  I don’t even have time to write this blog.  I’m actually wolfing down take out in between sentences.  But in all of my craziness in life, I still have to clean and therefore have to find a way!  I follow some great blogs on cleaning and organizing the home.  These ladies seem to have a great system that they have MASTERED.  A Bowl Full of Lemons has a ridiculously clean and organized house that looks like it’s out of a magazine.  She gives great challenges to complete and give great tips on cleaning, both quick and thorough.  Clean Mama is another one that I follow and she gives a daily task to complete as a reminder.

I enjoy both of these as references but I will say, I march to my own Modern Mommy Brain drum and I get done maybe a fraction of what is shown on their sites.  But here are my quick cleaning on a time crunch tips (when hiring help is not an option):

  • Involve your kids in the cleaning process.  No, seriously.  My four year old now has “chores” to vacuum the bedrooms and scrub the toilets.  Yes, I have to supervise and follow up but while she is kept busy and engaged in her task, I am also running around cleaning and de-cluttering things so it’s worth it.  I sprinkle baking soda in the toilets and she goes around and uses the toilet brush to scrub.  And at the end of it, she feels very proud.
  • Clean the bathrooms (basic wipe down and toilet swish) while the kids are in the shower/bath.  It’s simple.  By the time they’re done playing, your counters, sink, taps, and toilets are clean.  If it’s done a couple times a week, it doesn’t take long.
  • Use baking soda and vinegar to scrub the kitchen sinks, then follow it with pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain to freshen it up at the end of the day.
  • Sweep often and use a steam mop.  A quick sweep doesn’t take long, and a steam mop makes everything look so nice with very little effort, and sanitizes the surface as well.
  • Have your cleaning caddy always ready to go anywhere.  If it’s all there, you have no excuses and no added time.
  • Use chemical free whenever possible because it’s cheap and you can clean with kids running around so you don’t have to “wait for a better time” because there probably won’t be one!
  • Clean a bit at a time and clean often.  I love doing a BIG deep clean once a week but it’s not realistic and it’s so much nicer some days to spend time enjoying my kids.
  • And my last tip… lower your standards.  Have some pride in your home, but be realistic with yourself. 🙂

Any tips for me would be awesome!

Staying Fit

It’s no secret that finding time for you as a Modern Mommy is difficult. Fitting in a hot shower can be difficult enough. So when it comes to shedding the extra mommy weight AND keeping it off, it can be almost impossible to fit in fitness.

I’ve undoubtedly struggled with my weight forever, but definitely since having my second child. I love food more than anything. And wine. I have to force myself to go to the gym. Let’s face it, does anyone actually REALLY like to go to the gym??? It’s exhausting and you’re already exhausted. And then you get all sweaty and that leads to ANOTHER hot shower which is just really pushing the alone time limits here!

In the past year though, I decided to make some changes. And here’s why: I was at an all time hatred with my body and my stress level was sky high. The thing about exercise and healthy eating is that it takes work and it takes planning. Luckily, it’s what we do best as Modern Mommies. Think about how many things we manage throughout the week to keep the house up and running. We schedule doctor appointments, dentist appointments, ballet class, soccer practice, etc. We make sure everyone gets to where they need to be. Something that is healthy for us, both physically and mentally, should be put into the calendar with the same priority as any other appointment.

So that’s what I did. And it turns out; exercise DOES make you feel better, eating healthy DOES give you more energy and being less stressed out DOES make you love and appreciate your family members more. Giving yourself that time to sweat out some of the many stressors in life is a great gift and one that benefits EVERYONE in the household. The kids did have to adjust to mommy leaving for an hour. It was a struggle sometimes just to get out of the house but in the end, I came back a lot happier and ready to give them my full attention.

My calendar now has scheduled GYM time in it just for me. I still have to drag myself there but once I’m in the middle of my workout, I remember why I came.

If you looking to squeeze some workouts into a tight schedule, you could also try Body Rock TV. They give great workouts that are usually just 12 minutes long and you do as many reps as you have time for but you put all of you energy into each move. They’re tough but you modify as you go. And best of all, no one is watching you so you can sweat, stumble, pee a little, or grunt and you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed.

Another great tool if you are serious about losing weight and calorie counting is the MyFitnessPal app. It allows you to enter what you eat for the day and it calculates the calories for you. It also takes calories off when you exercise (so the treadmill equals a glass of wine!). Sometimes having to record it may stop you from indulging in seconds…

What do you do to stay healthy when you’re super busy?

Modern Mommy’s Top Pampering Products

EricaOstojic2403_Project 3This past weekend my kids were being oh-so-sweet and tame on Sunday morning so I took the opportunity to do a little pampering for myself.  For the Modern Mommy, this means taking a shower.  Alone.  Okay, not actually alone.  They’re right outside the glass doors staring at me, but I can ignore them.  Anyway, I started going through a list in my head about the different products that I absolutely love to use when I want to feel awesome, so here is my list:

  • Loofah Soap from Bean ‘Stock Inc. for great shower exfoliation.
  • Body Butter (and lots of it!) in Coconut, Shea, or Satsuma from the Body Shop.  It can feel pretty “greasy” when first applied but it will keep your skin moisturized for the promised 24 hours.
  • For dry and cracked heels I apply Peppermint Cooling Foot Lotion, also from the Body Shop.  I’ve used others and this stuff is a long time favourite.
  • Caryl Baker Visage is where I go for all things face.  My skin care line is the EmerginC Organics brand and features my favourite Eyelight Serum to help with those under eye bags.
  • I love make-up.  After moisturizing, I like to apply Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, which also helps fill in some of the extra lines and creases that seem to be appearing more and more lately…
  • Two must-haves for make-up is my Camouflage Concealer and my Mineral Pressed Powder, which I also get from Caryl Baker Visage.  (On a “no make-up” day I still wear these two things on their own.  If I’m going out at all, I add a bronzer and blush and I add eye make-up for work or when I really want to impress.)

There you have it.  That is how this Modern Mommy pampers herself!

How to Eat Real Food


This is a big trend right now. Healthy living is all about “clean eating”. Really? Do you know what “clean eating” actually means? It means you eat REAL FOOD. Imagine that…

I am not an expert on healthy living by any means. I LOVE food and even more than that, I love EATING food. In fact I just spent the weekend eating a TON of food for our Thanksgiving weekend. All of it tasted great, some of it was good for you, and I’m sure none of it was considered “clean”. So today, I am detoxing. This means back to “eating clean”.

This big new trend that is catching on sounds like it’s another strict complex diet but really, it just means that you eat… get this… real food. Food that comes from the ground, food that comes from an animal, food that tastes good…. The only stipulation is that it needs to avoid all of the extra processing and additives.  The problem is that our busy lives tend to revolve around processed food because we don’t have time to prepare everything from scratch. And we are surrounded by media that reminds us of how good sugary treats taste. And of course, there’s a Tim Hortons on every corner to tempt us…

This article from Fitness Magazine explains the basic rules of clean eating and breaks it down in a pretty simple way that even I can understand.

As a crazy busy mom, when I want to get back on track with the healthy eating again, I start out simple. I either clean out my fridge or cupboards or do a big grocery shop, or do a combination of both, and cut up a ton of vegetables for snacking (I’m a sucker for snacking!) and I store all carrot sticks, celery sticks, etc. in the fridge in Tupperware containers so they are easily accessible. I’ve never had to trick my kids into eating vegetables, and I know I’m very lucky for this. If they see me eating it, they’ll eat it too.

Next step, I gather up any other leftover vegetables to throw into a simple homemade soup. I always try and buy basic broths when they’re on sale (Campbells, no added salt chicken/beef/vegetable) and then they’re always available when I need them. My kids will ALWAYS eat good homemade chicken soup too so I try and fill the freezer with them, especially when chicken is on sale. But when I don’t have the time for the “from scratch” version, I use the pre made broth and add everything else. I usually come up with my own inventions which is risky but for the most part, someone will eat it!

After over-dosing on pumpkin pie, wine, apple cake, more wine, and many other holiday treats, my number one trick is hydration. Simply drinking water will help flush the bloat and fill my stomach, but if I’m in need of a more effective method, I turn to the Jillian Michaels’ 7 Day Detox Drink to shed that extra five pounds of water weight and get back on track. It works every time and that little bit of room I have in my waistline is great motivation to keep going.

So skip the drive through, clean out your cupboards, and EAT REAL FOOD. It’s worth a try if it means avoiding that afternoon sugar crash!

The Day I Googled How Not To Get A Divorce


One day recently I found myself in a rut in my marriage. Nothing terribly dramatic. In fact, it never is dramatic. It’s just work, sleep (or lack of), kids, dinner, dishes, repeat. The same small arguments occur over the same things. It’s so lack luster that one day I found myself on the computer googling “How Not to Get a Divorce”. I told my husband about this later and we laughed. Sort of.

I met my husband 11 years ago and from the moment we had our first kiss, I knew that I would spend the rest of my life with him. I knew he was my other half. There were fireworks and passion and weak knees and so many amazing moments. There was a thirst for each other. We couldn’t get enough of each other, even if we tried. Even when we were married, I swore I would never be one of those wives who would ever deny him my love.

Fast forward to today and we have a house, bills, two kids, lots of boogers, even more messes to clean up, diapers, temper tantrums, and a whole lot of sleepless nights. Most nights if he makes it to bed before my four year old climbs in, he gets kicked out to her bed. Sometimes he just falls asleep on the couch. A far cry from sleeping entangled in each other’s limbs, as we once used to.

While I’m pretty much exactly where I said I would never be, I am okay with this. And more importantly, this is normal. Every article I read was identical to my life. (Read The Top Four Worst Reasons to Get a Divorce). Children can put a damper on relationships that you may never imagined could have happened. But having children can also strengthen a relationship. The platform that our relationship is based on now is stronger and more loving than ever. It’s a secure platform that is based on mutual love and respect. And sometimes we take that for granted. Sometimes we need to remember that love is a verb and we still have to choose to love each other.

What I learned from “googling” my problems that day is this:

  • I can’t change my partner (anymore than he can change me) but I can change how I am as a wife. Instead of focusing on his “flaws” (which are basically things that just annoy me because something else is annoying me), it’s important that I look at what I’m doing as a partner.

There was one day that I made an extra amount of pancakes and I saved some for when he woke up. Just sitting there, cold, on a plate, leftover pancakes. He thanked me later for saving him some and said “most days I feel like the family dog”. This resonated with me. He’s not the family dog. He’s my King. If I’m demanding to be treated like a Queen, why can’t I do the same for him? This Scary Mommy article hit the nail on the head about choosing your spouse to be “your person”.

  • Those “fireworks” do wear off. We will never go back to the first days of dating. It’s not chemically possible. But making an effort to date and do little things to keep the other interested and rekindle the fire a bit is always worth it. Because it’s still there. It just gets buried by life. And laundry.
  • It’s okay if he is not the best one to talk to all the time about my problems. He’s my best friend, my lover, the father of my children… He’d do just about anything for me. But he’s not a mind reader. And he’s not a woman. Sometimes a woman needs to talk to another woman who will cry with you or vent with you or who just gets it.

When I look at my husband now, I don’t see that man I first fell in love with. I see a more mature, more handsome, more amazing man than ever. And he still can make me weak in the knees.

The Modern Mommy – Having it All

EricaOstojic2403_Project 2

What exactly does it mean to be a Modern Mommy today?  My blogs are mostly written in reference to the working mother, although a lot of it applies to those who are able to stay at home.  I come from the juggle work, errands, kids, pick-ups, drop-offs, etc. type of life.  And I love it.  I have a job that I’m pretty passionate about, I love my home and take pride in it, and I am obsessed with my children and watching them grow up.  But there are those days… all mommies know those days… where I wonder how the hell I’m going to make it to bath time, and even fantasize about the moment that both my children will be sleeping soundly in their beds and I will have freedom once again.

There are also those days when I get to the end of the day and wonder why I’ve put myself in an intense pressure cooker.  I mean, let’s look at what’s expected of the “Modern Mommy”:

  • Get up, showered, dressed, hair and make-up done
  • Coffee
  • Get kids up, dressed, diaper changed, hair done, teeth brushed
  • Make breakfast for… everyone
  • Coffee
  • Make everyone eat breakfast
  • Pack work bag/lunch bags/backpacks
  • Choose your shoes (this one always slows me down)
  • Get shoes on kids
  • Get kids in the car and buckled
  • Go through mental checklist to make sure nothing was forgotten
  • Drop off #1
  • Drop off #2
  • Go to work
  • 8 hours later… Pick up #1, pick-up #2
  • Go home
  • Make dinner
  • Make everyone eat dinner
  • Bath time
  • Snack time
  • Story time
  • Sit in the room until your stubborn toddler falls asleep time
  • Make lunches
  • Clean disaster zones
  • Prep dinner
  • Pajamas, remove make-up, brush teeth
  • Five minute conversation with husband
  • Pass out and prepare to do it all over again

Now that would be a typical day in the modern motherhood, but let’s not forget about other pressures that place upon ourselves, like keeping up our appearances.  Do you get your hair done?  Nails?  Waxing?  Facials?  And are you keeping in shape?  Because you also need to fit a workout in there at some point too.  And don’t forget about social media.  Have you checked up on the latest news on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?  It’s probably the only social life you actually get to enjoy often enough.

Why do we put SO MUCH PRESSURE on ourselves?  I often list the things I need to do and my husband looks at my like I’m nuts and gives me a verbal slap in the face to snap out of it and relax.  Do you remember the last time you relaxed? It seems that relaxing might mean falling behind.  And we’re modern women.  We can’t risk failing.  But somehow, we are own worst enemies.

Some days you just need to stare at your peaceful little sleeping wonder a little longer and remember to keep it simple.  But don’t move or make a noise in case they wake up.

Now if you’re REALLY having one of those days…. Spend some time reading the scary mommy confessionals page.  It will make you feel like you’ve got a handle on everything.  We’re all in this together.

Juggling in High Heels


Getting out the door. On time. That is always the goal of mornings.

Recently my oldest started school so that means there are some things added to my list to prep for mornings. Not only do I have to make my own lunch, but now I’m packing one for her. Gone are the days of one drop off at day care with messy hair, being somewhat dressed appropriately, and (sometimes) a full tummy. Now I have to think about her day as an independent child.

Did she eat enough for breakfast? Did I pack enough good food that she’ll actually eat in her lunch? Does she need a sweater or a coat? Is her hair okay? Do kids care about stuff like that?

I mean, no pressure here or anything, but we are sending our children in to the WORLD, the BIG SCARY WORLD, with no protective shell of family or caregivers. It’s terrifying.

But putting that aside, let’s discuss getting out the door in the morning with two kids, lunches, a backpack, my purse, a diaper bag, and some amount of sanity…

Here are my tips and what I’ve learned so far this September:

  • Shoes are everything. Sometimes you need to be able to sprint from the car to the front steps of daycare holding a thirty pound toddler and a diaper bag and then sprint back to the car. Maybe you can run in heels, maybe it’s time for old lady flats. (I opted for Clarks heels)
  • All lunches are made the night before. If they are not, hell will break loose in the mornings and you will be screwed. That’s just how it works.
  • Breakfast is whatever you can get your kids to eat… sometimes. Other times, it can be a glorious plate of bacon and eggs.
  • Choose your battles.
  • If the worst thing in the world is that you’re a few minutes late, be thankful you made it alive, and try again tomorrow. Being stressed out while driving through construction/traffic/school crossing zones is so not worth it.

What are your tips to make it through the morning rush?