Happy Birthday Avital!

To my darling little girl, on her first birthday –

A year ago you entered our lives and changed it in ways we could have never conceived. I had dreamed of being a mother ever since I was a little girl, but our lives with you in them are far greater than any dream I could have ever dreamed.

We spent almost ten months together, just the two of us, and I thanked God everyday for the miracle He was crafting inside of me. I spent those months day-dreaming about you. Would you look like me or like your Abba? Would you have his silly sense of humour or inherit the stick that is forever up my butt? Would you be shy and cautious or outgoing and friendly? I wondered what kind of relationship we would have. Would it resemble the relationship I had with your Safta? Would you pay me back for all those teenage years? What would we call you? Abba and I were forever disagreeing on names and I was worried that we would never find a name we could both agree on.

But from the moment I first saw you, I knew. You were Avital Chana – no doubt about it. In that single moment, you forever changed our lives.

In one short year you have taught me so much about life. Being a mother has taught me that I really knew nothing at all before this. I thought that I knew what love was, but that first look we shared taught me about more love than I had learned in twenty-three years. Not the kind of love you read about in fairy tales, but the kind of unconditional, all-encompassing, stand-in-front-of-a-bus kind of love. You taught me that all those no’s that your Safta so generously shared with me, especially in those teenage years, had meaning and purpose. That no one knows what her daughter needs more than her mother (even when she’s halfway across the world). Suddenly all those years of teenage angst had so much clarity. Suddenly my life had so much more purpose and meaning.

But with all those fluffy, happy feelings, came feelings of anxiety too. Any mother that says she hasn’t had even a glimmer of anxiety is lying. I worried how we would fare, just the two of us, when all the visitors had gone home, Abba had gone back to work and it was just you and me against the world. I was anxious about the first time you would cry inconsolably and how I would handle it. Would I know what you wanted and needed from me? I hoped that years down the line, when I faced the payback for the hell I put my mother through, that I would do right by you; that you would know in those moments how much you were loved.

Watching you grow and develop has brought me so much joy and so much pride. I will never forget that first smile we shared, the first time that I made you laugh or the look on your face when I come into your room every morning. I love the special relationship you have with your Abba and with your puppy dog. Watching from the corner as you interact with them never ceases to fill my heart.

Every moment of discomfort during the pregnancy, the twenty-four hours of labour and sleepless nights were all worth it for those moments every day when you look up at me with those big beautiful eyes and that wide smile with those two little teeth.

Thank you for giving me a gift far greater than I could have imagined – the gift of being your Imma.
Thank you for teaching me about the world in ways I could have never thought of before.
Thank you for teaching me to stress less and love more.
Thank you for teaching me to stop and smell the roses, because those moments are always so fleeting.
Thank you for inspiring me to be my best, because you deserve nothing less than my very best.

Thank you to God for watching over you and our family for this last year, for providing us with all the blessings in our lives.

I pray that in the years to come I will be able to merit the gift I have been given. I pray that you will always know that while I can’t always protect you, I will forever be a safe space to come back to. I pray that you will know that in those moments when you don’t understand, I am always doing what I think is best for you.

Happy Birthday to my sweet little angel. I love you.

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New Years Thoughts

I have to be honest, New Years for me doesn’t really hold much significance. My New Years eve was the definition of #momlife. Ira was working late, Avital was sleeping like an angel in her room and I didn’t even realize that midnight has passed.

I took a 6-month hiatus from this blog, partly because I just needed to take time to re-evaluate. If you’ve been following me, you’ll know that almost a year ago I gave birth to our little girl, Avital. We had been living in a new community that I was still adjusting to, setting up our new home and now I had to adjust to this shift as well. Every time I thought I was getting a hang of this parenting thing, Avital would go ahead and develop a new skill. I finally feel like I can handle whatever she decides to throw at me. (We’ll see how well I fair when she starts walking and climbing on furniture.) And now that I feel like I have a handle on that, I want to take time to set some new goals for myself. Like I said, New Years is kind of meaningless for me, but I guess January 1st is as good a time as any to set some new goals for myself.

Be Consistent : I go through phases in my life where I go crazy and do something in excess, and then overwhelm myself and give up. This goes for cleaning, maintaining Avital’s schedule, cooking, etc. In the new year, I want to try to develop routines for myself that can be maintained.

Me Time : As women and as mothers, it’s so easy to put ourselves last. We’re so busy trying to be the best wife, the best mother, the best friend, the best sister, the best, the best, the best… that we often forget to leave time for ourselves. I have gotten back into the habit of reading and have actually finished a lot of books in the past month – I forgot how much I loved it! In theory, I know that taking time for myself will only benefit those around me, but it’s harder in practice. I want to take time to do some small things each day for me – to get dressed every morning instead of declaring every day a ‘PJ Day’, to put on some makeup, straighten my hair. Just little things that I do for no one else, but me.

Get Creative : As Avital is growing and developing, I want to create memories that will last her a lifetime. Mind you, she’s only 11-months old, but now’s as good a time as any. I want to start getting creative in the way I play with her, take her on outings and let her discover the world beyond the walls of our home. Years down the road from now, I’m probably not going to remember how many loads of laundry I did on a particular day, but I’m sure I’ll remember the look on her face the first time I take her to the zoo.

I am limiting myself to only three goals for this year, as I’ve learned from experience that setting too many goals is setting myself up for failure. My plan is to check back every month or two and see how I’m progressing.

I would love to know what goals or resolutions you have for the New Year, if you care to share below in the comments.

Until next time…

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NIGHT TIME SKINCARE ROUTINE | SUMMER 2016

Hey Everyone,

I’m back again, this time with a post about how I take care of my skin. I was blessed with fairly good skin, though I do get an occasional breakout here and there – especially in this Israeli heatwave. I have to admit, that I don’t remember to do this every night, but I do notice a HUGE difference in my skin when I’m consistent with it.

I start by cleansing my face with the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-One Waterproof Makeup Remover + Cleanser. I saturate a cotton pad and just do a gentle cleanse of all the grease and grime that has built up throughout the day. On the days where I’m wearing eye makeup I’ll hold two saturated cotton pads on my eyes for 15 seconds and then wipe away the eye makeup – it literally just melts away! I also take special care to swipe over my neck and décolleté, especially in the summer months when I’ve been sweating a lot.

Next, I cleanse my face with the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser. I once read somewhere (I think it was on Caroline Hiron’s blog, but I could be wrong) that you should always put your cleanser on dry skin and then add water. Caroline also says that you should NEVER buy a foaming face wash. So I rub it into my dry skin, then add some water gradually to create a lather and then splash it off. It’s super important to take your water directly from the tap and not from your sink basin – you don’t want to splash all that dirty water on your freshly cleaned skin.

I then saturate another cotton pad with the Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner and wipe that around my face and neck. At this point I stop to brush my teeth with my Oral-B Vitality Floss Action Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush. I love this tooth brush because there’s no need to replace any batteries, the charge lasts for a really long time and it has a timer so you never skimp out on your brushing. I use it in combination with the Colgate Optic White Instant and I can really see a difference in one brush.

I then move on to my last step, moisturizer. I use Nivea Creme moisturizer and I have to admit that I started using it because I grew up watching my mom use it. I’m pretty sure you’re meant to use it on your body but I love it for my face because it’s super thick and rich and a tiny bit goes a really long way. When I wake up in the morning my face is super soft. On my body I love using my Laline Fluffy Body Cream in Ocean (no longer available in this scent). I received it as a gift from my aunt when I gave birth in February and held off using it until the summer. The scent is so light and fresh and reminds me of the beach and the cream is just the perfect consistency for a summer night.

So that’s it, my night time skincare routine. I’m always looking to discover new products so I would love to know what some of your staples are in the comments below.

*This post isn’t sponsored. I really do like these products!*

Until next time…

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MOMMY’S ROAST BEEF

I posted this picture of my dinner on Instagram and Facebook last week and I got so many requests to share that I figured I’d share it here. I cannot take any credit for this recipe as it’s my mommy’s, but it’s so good it will quickly become one of the staples on your table for the holidays.

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Ingredients:
1 kg brisket
3 medium onions
1 kg button mushrooms
1 can of Coca Cola
1/3 c orange juice
1 pkg Knorr’s onion soup mix
1 c Heinz ketchup
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions:
1. Slice onions and mushrooms and place in the bottom of your roasting pan. Place brisket on top of sliced vegetables.
2. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over your brisket.
3. Bake at 180°C until internal temperature reads 65°C.
4. Allow meat to rest for half an hour, slice and serve.

Would love to know if you tried this recipe and what side dishes you served it with.

Until next time…

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MY FIRST MOTHER’S DAY

As I made my routine Mother’s Day phone calls this morning, I actually forgot that Mother’s Day is actually my day too now that my little girl is in my life.

It’s my first Mother’s Day and I don’t even know what to think. It took me a while before it hit me. But then I took some time to reflect about the women in my life, about the precious gift I had been given 3 months ago and about what it all meant.

Like most girls, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs with the women in my life as I’ve grown up. Of course, I always loved them, but there were definitely times when I didn’t like them or understand the decisions they made. At 18 years-old, I decided that I was moving halfway across the ocean to pursue a new life. I was by no means leaving behind the life I lead up until that point, but I felt a calling to live in Israel and I chose to pursue it. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I don’t know if it was the distance, the fact that I was growing up and had some more perspective and maturity under my belt, or now that I am a mother myself, but as time has progressed I have come to have nothing but love and admiration for the women in my life.

I know that girls tend to say about their mothers, “If I am only half of what you were to me I will be a very lucky woman.” That is the understatement of the year. The women in my life have gone above and beyond to educate me, protect me, and love me.

It’s crazy to think that you literally grow this little person inside of you for 9 (or 10) months and all of sudden in a matter of moments you’re a mother. Motherhood so far has not been without its fair share of struggles and challenges as I learn to adjust to my new normal. But there is nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for that little girl. I am so incredibly grateful for this little person I’ve been blessed with, so incredibly scared that I won’t do right by her, but mostly so incredibly filled with love for my little girl, my mother and all my surrogate mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there! Would love to know some of your favourite memories with your mom or with your kids.

Until next time…

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HOW I DO IT ALL

Here’s the secret, I don’t. But there are a few strategies and tricks that I use to help me feel like I do (most days).

As a stay-at-home/work-at-home mother, wife and housewife, there are a lot of balls to juggle. There’s a house to keep (somewhat) clean, schedules to manage, appointments to keep track of, bills to pay, not to mention my responsibilities as a wife, a mother and an employee (plus trying to fit in some volunteering and me-time). It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done on a daily basis, but with a few strategies, I promise that you too can feel like you’re (almost) on top of everything.

1. Be Realistic

The first step is knowing that not everything can get done on any single given day and being okay with that. You have to know where your priorities lie. Cleaning the oven can wait for another day. Grabbing that half hour to spend with my daughter is far more important. Once you get your priorities in check, life becomes a lot less stressful. It’s easier to manage tasks when you know what must be done, and what would be nice to have done.

2. Get Organized

Everyone has systems that work for them, but for me it’s lots of lists and lots of calendars. I thought pregnancy-brain was bad, but mommy-brain is worse. There is so much to manage and remember and if I don’t write it down I am bound to forget it.

I used to just write my lists on a piece of loose-leaf paper, but I found that they were getting lost all the time and creating a lot of paper clutter. (More about how I tackled that issue in a bit). I have lists for just about everything – groceries, books I want to read, things I need to pick up a the hardware store, shows I need to catch up on. You name it, I have a list for it.

The first trick is keeping your lists in a place that you’ll find them. It’s no use having a list on a piece of paper that you’re not going to find when you need it. I keep long-term lists that I might need to access in days, weeks or months from now on the notes app on my phone. It’s easy to access because I always have my phone in-hand, and I can ensure that it will never get lost in paper clutter. Any time an idea or a thought pops into my head, I can immediately grab my phone and jot it down on the appropriate list.

I also have a daily to-do list. Every night, as I’m winding down for the night, I write down a to-do list for the following day in my planner. I find it helps to do it in my planner because I can see what work assignments and appointments I have the next day and plan accordingly. I can also see if there are things coming up in the week that need preparation. I limit this list to a 5-item maximum. It’s not realistic (for me) to have more tasks each day because I know I won’t be able to accomplish them all. If there is something incredibly important that must get done that week, but I can’t fit it into that specific day, I make a note of it in the notes column on that week’s spread. These five items are very specific so I know exactly what needs to be done. For example, right now I’m working on getting my daughter’s Canadian citizenship and passport. Instead of writing Canadian Embassy in the to-do list, I’ll write something like print Canadian paper work, or take Canadian passport pictures. It helps me stay laser-focused and reduces the chances that I’ll become overwhelmed with a mammoth task.

I also LOVE calendars.  At any given time, I have 3 calendars running. The first is my planner. (Leave a comment below if you want to see how I use my planner). The planner is the command centre of our lives. It’s where I list all of the family’s appointments, my work assignments and my daily to-do lists. In addition to my planner, there’s a large calendar on our fridge and the calendar apps on our phones. The calendar on the fridge serves as a quick glance of the month ahead and only lists major events and appointments. Because it’s on the fridge and next to the grocery list, it serves as a visual reminder of the important things we have coming up. In the long run, when Avital is old enough, I plan on using it to help her keep track of school vacations, parties, assignments and the like. But for now, I’m really the only one who uses it.

The calendar app on our phones serves two purposes. First, it’s a quick glance for me if I’m out and about and have to schedule something and my planner isn’t nearby. But second, it’s a way for Ira to know what he has going on during any given week when he’s planning his schedule for work. Since Ira works shifts and puts in requests on a weekly basis, it’s easy for him to just glance at his calendar and see what he has going on for the following week.

You’re probably thinking that it’s a lot of calendars and a lot to maintain, but when you get into the habit of syncing everything up once a week, it really isn’t hard to manage at all.

3. Routine

I’m a creature of habit. Once I establish a routine, it’s really easy for me to keep it going. The problem is that I have a hard time getting myself into that routine. But slowly, I’m working myself into a daily schedule that involves work, some cleaning, some downtime and lots of mommy time. Some of the key things for me are going to bed with a clean kitchen every night and doing at least one full load of laundry a day. (It’s still a work in progress.) Incorporating these two things into my daily routine help maintain some sort of order and cleanliness in our home and make larger cleaning projects far less daunting.

I think the most important thing about managing it all is first managing your expectations. You can’t possibly do it all, all the time. Be realistic and stay organized, and I promise you that you’ll find a way to stay level-headed and sane.

I’m always looking for ways to make my life easier, so I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below.

And until next time…

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EVERYDAY MAKEUP | SPRING 2016

As a stay-at-home/work-from-home mother and wife, it’s easy to stay in the house for days on end and get stuck in the rut of wearing your PJs all day, everyday. There are a few strategies I’ve employed to help myself stay sane and feel human when we get into those weeks where we’re stuck in the house. One of them is getting dressed and applying makeup every single day. It’s still a habit I’m getting into, but on the days that I do, I find it makes such a difference. I’m not saying I apply a full face of pageant makeup, but just a little something to make me feel less hermit-like.

Here’s a peak at my spring-time favourites:

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Nyx Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer in Clear
Maybelline Dream Fresh BB in Light/Medium
Maybelline Fit Me Concelear in #20 – Sand
Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in #001 – Transparent
Rimmel Natural Bronzer in #020 – Sunshine
Physicians Formula Powder Palette Multi-Coloured Blush in Blushing Peach
Revlon Brow Fantasy in Dark Brown
Arbonne Eye Shadow in Sand
Mac Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Stubborn Brown
L’Oreal Voluminous Waterproof Volume Building Mascara in Black Brown

I would love to know what some of your makeup favourites for spring are, if you care to share in the comments below.

*This post isn’t sponsored. I really do like these products!*

Until next time…

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