Date Night – We’ve Officially Found a Babysitter!

I’ve been dreading and waiting for this moment all at the same time.

While it’s a huge load off my mind when a family member watches our kids, it’s also really stressful. I always feel like we’re burdening them. I’m sure they have better things to do than spend a few hours on a Saturday night trying to stop a two year-old and a five year-old from destroying our house, because THIS:

MessBut as much as I love cleaning up after my boys, it way better when I get to clean myself up…and the best part, blow-dry my hair *gasp*…maybe even put on some nail polish. Whaat? I know right? What’s next? A haircut? I dream BIG people.

We’ve already been to this restaurant two time this year, but I just can’t get enough. I know you’re dying to see our dinner so here we go:

First time eating at the bar. Same great food and service. Bonus: Lightning fast drink delivery!

At the bar

Seared Arctic Char with Caramelized Onions, Asparagus and Fiddleheads. My new favourite dish here, and that’s saying a lot since I’ve tried almost everything on the menu. I dove in so quick that I didn’t get a shot of the whole dish. I remembered right before the last bite! Guess I’ll have to order this again next time to get a nice photo for you.

Artic Char

Mushroom and Escargot Tart with Microgreens. The filling was beautifully rich and tender inside the crisp and buttery shell. A nice contrast to the light and bright fish dish we had before. Mushroom Tart

Mona Rose. A mix of Ginger, Grapefruit, Tequila, Cassis and Ginger Ale on ice. LOVED IT. Now I have two drinks I have to order when I come here.Mona Rose

Plus the bottle of wine.

Wine

It was a great night!

Oh! Almost forgot the dessert…

Dessert

So all that to say, WE”VE GOT A BABYSITTER! She’s amazing. We still made our dinner reservations for 6:00PM, but I’m kind of loving it. We’re home by 9:30PM, the kids are fast asleep, the house is spotless (seriously, she even washed the dishes in the sink!). She gets to go out with her friends and we still have time to rent a movie. I think this is going to be a regular thing. I’ll keep you posted.

Character Inspirations

About a month or so ago, right in the middle of some revisions from hell, I got stuck. I think what drove me crazy was the fact that I knew exactly what I needed to fix. I just didn’t know how to do it. Or anything I’d write sounded awful as I read it back, over and over, until I scrapped most of my new words and started again. My characters needed more, well, everything. Layers, depth, warmth. You name it, my characters lacked it.

Then, while “researching” online as we all do, I came across Polyvore. That’s when I felt it. A flutter of excitement starting in my chest, spreading out until I couldn’t scroll through the options fast enough. The reason I became stuck in the first place was because I couldn’t figure out my heroine’s next step. On this website, I took a minute to revisit Alyssa. I guess it was kind of like filling out those character questionnaires before starting your story.

Back to Work - Alyssa

Only this time, I woke up with my character in the morning. Decided how she might dress. How would she style her hair. What colours would she choose?

I know this all seems really superficial, but it’s not. For example, below you’ll find a character sketch I created for Alyssa and Max’s first run in after years apart. Every choice I made helped me piece together Alyssa bit by bit.

Her blouse and skirt are sexy but at the same time modest. She’s still a little uneasy in her new life, but the structured clothes make her feel like she’s in control. Even though she’s panicking on the inside.

So then I thought, “Hm. I can do this with all my characters, even the secondary ones.”

Next came Emma…and then Elaine.

It’s surprising where inspiration hides from you sometimes. I hope you can always find yours.

Stay-at-Home Mom?

I have a dilema.

In January I had no choice but to pull my twenty-month-old son out of the daycare he attended. I can send him to the daycare my five-year-old is enrolled in, but only when he turns two. That’s in September. I made the decision to stay home with him rather than leave him in a daycare I was unsatisfied with. As hard as it was to quit my job, my boss shocked me the following day. He offered to let me work from home four days a week as long as I came in once a week for meetings and returned full time in September. I convinced my mother-in-law to help me out once a week and called him back to accept his offer.

I thought I’d never be able to be at home full time. Being at home is about a thousand time harder than being at the office. Trust me when I say I’m not exaggerating. There aren’t any coffee breaks with the girls or peaceful lunch hour errand runs. You don’t realize how nice it is to be able to type an email without a curious toddler slamming your laptop closed over your fingers until that luxury is gone.

But here’s my problem. Tonight, for the first time in my career, I had a moment of dread. Tomorrow’s Monday. My day in the office and my immediate thought was I don’t want to leave him. But soon I won’t have a choice. I need my job. We’re not in a place financially where I can stay home with the kids. So my next decision becomes whether or not I start actively looking for a job that I can do from home. Sure I can do my job as a freelancer but I need clients. I need referrals. Then the avalanche of questions start. Do I need a website? How much will it cost me to work as a freelancer? Will I have to drive around the city? I need a whole lot of time do prepare these items that I already don’t have.

I have a lot of thinking to do, but I’m pretty sure my life will take a drastically different turn by the time winter rolls around again. Wish me luck…

Saturday Date Night

Free time is a luxury. Between work and the kids I don’t have much. I try to use the few moments I have to get some writing done. I work on the relationships on my page. I stress over them and wonder how I can get them to their happily ever after.

But recently, I realized how long it had been since my husband and I had worked on our relationship. For that matter, I couldn’t remember the last time we spent any time together. Sure, we saw each other every night (or rather most nights as he travels a lot for work). We caught glimpses of each other while we cleaned up after dinner, gave the kids their baths, put them in their beds and everything else in between. Even after that, he’ll want to watch the hockey game while I want to write and watch the Big Bang Theory so off we went on our separate ways. Him in the living room as I settled into our bedroom to get an hour so of quiet time in before the baby woke up.

I’m tired just typing this up. It’s my life everyday and I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there who feel the same way.

We’ve been married for the past seven years and had our first child five years ago. Between work and life, we let our connection falter a little. The good thing is I know that we’re meant to be together, as annoying as we find each other sometimes. So, in order to get things back on track I’ve reinstated a once a month required Saturday Date Night. Now I know this sounds super scheduled and restrictive…well it is and too bad. We needed it! We needed to force ourself to give each other some time together, just us two in a nice restaurant with nice cutlery and alcohol.

Our first scheduled date was last week and I’ll be honest, it almost didn’t happen! Once again we were about to let life get in the way, but we pushed through, drove the kids to Grandma’s house and headed our for our 6:30pm reservation. YES, I said 6:30pm and I’m not ashamed (although the restaurant was pretty empty when we arrived!) This gave us plenty of time to relax before we had to pick up the kids at around 9:00pm.

Guys. This is the best thing we’ve done in years. We didn’t talk about anything important. Nothing about money, bills, daycare, work. I can’t even tell you what we talked about because for the most part we were just joking around, and most importantly eating. Oh it was SO good. I forgot what it was like to go to a nice restaurant.

And it was exactly what we needed. Some time together without outside stresses. Enjoying each others company instead of struggling to get through the chores of the day.

It’s so easy to forget how much work a relationship is, and not just in a couple. Siblings, parents, friends, coworkers, neighbours, the list goes on and on.

What do you do to keep  your relationships on track? Girls night with your best friend?  An after work cocktail with coworkers? With everything we all have going on, how do you find the time to fit everyone into your busy schedule?