the thirties grind

get up, go to work, raise kids, pay bills, sleep. repeat.

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Top Vancouver Mom Blogger Posts for 2013: 3 Chickens and a Boat

As I mentioned, over the coming days, I’ll be featuring guest posts from some of my favourite Vancouver Mom bloggers. They have agreed to share their top post of 2013 with all of you!  Enjoy!

The recipe for happiness

Post from Julie Nowell,

I “get” that I talk about happiness a lot, I do, but the thing is, we are happy.  It is really hard not to ooze happiness when you are filled with it.
But, it has got me thinking, as I write here, and I work with clients over there; is there a recipe to happiness?I think it comes down to a few key points that we seem to forget over and over again. Things that take away, rather than add to our life… even though it may not seem like it at the time.

1. You don’t need that.

Whatever it is you are considering buying right now, you don’t need it, you really don’t.  It won’t make your life better, it will probably break after 5 minutes of use and trust me, nobody really notices your shoes.

We spend so much of our time and energy purchasing things we don’t need, then we spend even more time and energy feeling guilty about it, or cleaning it up.    Keep it simple, and buy what you need. And when you do, spend the money on good quality purchases that will stand the test of time, use and children. Less is more people. LESS IS. MORE!

2. Do what you are good at.

They say work shouldn’t feel like work, and I agree. When we start doing what we are really good at, we feel success day in and day out.  Our “work” is a smooth ride, and what we are doing is productive and enjoyable.  We spend a huge portion of our life working, at work, thinking about work and creating work, so do what you are good at, and do what you love.  If you can enjoy those moments in your life, it will spread to all the moments you aren’t spending “working”  It will also release you from the dreaded countdown to “RETIREMENT”. Enjoy your life. All the moments, even the “work” ones and don’t count the moments into you are free. Be free now.

3. Be with the people you love.

Spend time with the people you love. Clear up problems, resolve issues and love the people you are with.  And that means, if you don’t love the people around you, deal with it.  Resolve it, end relationships, release people from your circle.  Feelings are usually mutual and our lives are too short not to enjoy our personal interactions.  BE present with the people you love and smother them in kindness.

4. Share your thoughts.

People are always quick to share feedback (constructive, “of course”) and corrections, but we are less likely to share our positive thoughts with others.   If someone has done something nice, or thoughtful, don’t just mull it over it your brain (“wasn’t that nice!”)  TELL THEM!  If you enjoyed something, if you think your hubby is handsome and your kids are beautiful, TELL THEM.  If you appreciate your co-workers, or enjoyed the smile from the sales clerk at the grocery store… TELL THEM.  We spend so much of our inner dialogue saying nice things about other people, and too much of our verbal communication doing the opposite. Switch it around and start telling people what you think and feel, you will be amazed and their reaction. Spread kindness, and you’ll share the happiness.

5. Say no. 

As much as we need to say no to the negative people in our life, we also need to say no to the negative things, and actions.  If you can’t do it, say no.  Eliminate the tiresome and stressful bits by sitting on a maybe. Deal with the issues, and be honest with yourself.  Do your accounting, exercise, and choose wisely the way you spend your time. Say no to excuses, and resolve issues today.  Let go of the things you messed up by acknowledging them and facing them with honesty.  Allow yourself to learn from your mistakes.. and then learn and act. This is your time, so use it responsibly

6. Say Yes.

I often encourage people to “leap” into life.  Embrace those stomach dropping moments, the ones that make you feel you are teetering on the edge of a cliff dive. You will surface and be stronger for it. Stop living within a state of static comfort. . . push your boundaries and your limits and leap outside of your comfort zone. We all know that is whereall the fun happens, right!  Take chances, say yes, and see where it leads you.

7. Let go of perfect.

Be okay with the extra dollop of cake batter in the pan, or the off sized cookie.  Get sweaty and spend the day laughing so hard you can’t re-apply your makeup.  Get ready in a hurry, go away for the weekend with only a change of underwear, close the computer for a few hours, and allow yourself to make mistakes by doing something new.  Perfect is pretty to look at, but no fun to hang around with, so let go and stop maintaining it and be human and fallible.  As my brilliant 9yr old says, boys don’t like the girls sitting on the beach, they like the ones playing in the waves.

recipe for happiness

So, I am heading to the waves, and will probably come home with sand in my suit to eat cookies for dinner. I expect to laugh this evening, and tomorrow too, since I am spending my days with people I love, doing what I love.

Do you want to leap with me?

What is your recipe to happiness? 

julienowell-headshotA worker of magic, and a creator of awesome moments, Julie spends her time balancing multiple businesses that all work towards the purpose of creating community and providing unique engagment. An engaging speaker and trainer, a passionate (and positive) blogger and a digital publisher, Julie gets to work with brands and individuals who are looking to polish their ideas and create memorable experiences for their clients and customers. A “good influence” human, whose main goals are working hard and being happy. Simple really (but super rewarding). Julie Blogs about happiness and consults via

Top Vancouver Mom Blogger Posts for 2013: North Shore Mama

As I mentioned, over the coming days, I’ll be featuring guest posts from some of my favourite Vancouver Mom bloggers. They have agreed to share their top post of 2013 with all of you!  Enjoy!

Post by Jessica Blumel,

Today has been ‘one of those days’.

Madeleine has her first cold at 7 months old and has no idea why she can’t breathe.  Poor thing.

Portia, so close to 3 years old (with no visible signs of leaving behind the “Terrible Two’s” stage- please send help!) decided that it was a great day to just meltdown… for hours!

After a couple of nights of little to no sleep for Madeleine and Mommy, this mama is literally at the end of her rope.

Now, I consider myself to be a pretty positive person.  I am able to rationalize most ‘situations’ and recognize that whatever we are going through, we WILL get through it.  The saying “the days are long but the years are short” usually reminds me to hug my babies closer and appreciate every moment (and I may even shed a tear from time to time… *may*).

Today, I was unable to tap into that optimism and did what any self-respecting person would do…

… I vented my frustrations on Facebook!

As I don’t like to ‘worry’ my Facebook friends with cryptic status updates that leave one in a full panic (you know the type– “It just couldn’t any worse than this” or “Please send your positive thoughts my way… I need them today”, only to find out after multiple frantic text messages that all is good, they were stuck in traffic, and yes, all their family members are totally fine!), I did post an update out of the ordinary for me.  Here is how it went:

Sick baby. Tantruming toddler. It’s only 10:30am and I’m coaching myself through deep breaths of patience. First person who brings me a bottle of wine (and sits and drinks it with me) can have my first born (the tantruming one).

But it’s what happened in the hours that followed that update that gave me the energy to get up off my sunroom carpet, change into some clothes free of baby snot, make myself a hot cup of tea and… exhale… deeply… happily.

My Mamas reached out when I needed them most.

I was honestly venting and expected no response.  I actually thought I would maybe cause some friends to judge me, and I hit ‘post’ anyways, because I just needed to get it out of my system.  No shaking heads and no rolling eyes (at least from what I could see on my computer screen ;) ).

Instead, I was touched by the love that we Mamas have for one another.  What was WRITTEN in the comments were messages of “hang in there” and “we’re in the same boat in our home” but what was being SAID was:

Being a Mommy is hard work.
Everything is going to be ok.
You are doing the best you can.
You are not alone.

And it’s all the truth.  The truth that only other Mommies can tell you and the truth that matters most from the mouths of Mothers whom you respect greatly.

Thank you to my Mama friends.  I need you in my life and I promise to return the favour when you have ‘one of those days’ ! And to my own Mama who just picked up Portia so I could drink that hot cup of tea… THANK YOU!

One love.

jessicaJessica Blumel lives on the beautiful North Shore of Vancouver with her husband and  2 young girls.  North Shore Mama is a resource site for parents living both on the North Shore and in surrounding areas of Vancouver, but you’ll also find Jessica’s experiences as a mother, family-friendly recipes, Vancouver event information, giveaways and more.

Top Vancouver Mom Blogger Posts for 2013: Spokesmama

As I mentioned, over the coming days, I’ll be featuring guest posts from some of my favourite Vancouver Mom bloggers. They have agreed to share their top post of 2013 with all of you!  Enjoy!

A Car-Free Christmas

Post by Lisa Corriveau,

It’s Christmas time in the Spokesfamily household & that means more shopping, more visits with family and friends, plus lots of fun holiday events. When I tell people that we don’t own a car, I get the impression that people think it’s complicated to get a family of four around, but it’s really not. Here’s how we get by during the holidays without owning a car.

“As the shoppers rush home with their treasures”

First off, we don’t really have a lot of people to shop for because we decided a few years ago to donate to charity rather than giving gifts to all the adults in our extended family.

Shopping online is another way that we get by car-free. More and more these days I don’t even have to leave my house to shop. It saves me time, I can find good deals and coupons easily, plus I can do it at any time of day, like during 1:00am breastfeeding sessions.

When I have to go to a store to get something, I take transit, generally. It’s so much easier to just walk a block from the Skytrain station or bus stop than finding parking & wrestling two small children into and out of car seats.

Occasionally I plan ahead & book a Modo car, but this is generally on weekends when Oliver is around, so one of us will walk a block or two to pick up the car and bring it back to the house while the other one gets the kids ready to go out the door. Strapping in the car seats takes a minute or two, then we’re off and away.

However, I don’t actually need to go far to do that much shopping, because I shop local a lot. There are tons of great shops within a 15-minute walk of our house. Bonus: few of them are chain stores, so they stock unique items that make great gifts. I rarely need to get anything bigger than my stroller basket can hold (our Uppababy Vista has a BIG basket) so shopping on foot is really doable.

“Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us…

We are able to walk to visit some of my family and quite a few friends, but for the ones who live in North Vancouver, Burnaby or Coquitlam we book a Modo car, because public transit is a bit of a pain to those places. It’s a tad more difficult to get the closest Modo car on very short notice during the holidays, but most of the gatherings are planned in advance anyway, so I just book the vehicle when I get the invitation.

“Have a holly, jolly Christmas

A big part of the reason we live where we do is because of the proximity to things like Stanley Park, downtown Vancouver, museums, galleries, Granville Island, etc. The same goes for a lot of our favourite holiday attractions like Bright Nights and the Christmas Train, the Vancouver Christmas Market are both just one bus away from home–no parking hassles for us.

“O Tannenbaum”

For the last few years we’ve bought our cut trees (see here for why they’re a greener choice than artificial) from the local tree lot at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. It’s a ten-minute walk from our house and not hard at all to haul a tree home. Last year we bagged up our small table-top tree and rested the trunk in the end of the stroller basket. Oli carried the top and I pushed Linnaeus in the stroller. This year, we bungied the tree securely into a wagon and the kids rode in the stroller.

As you can see, living car-free doesn’t mean we’re trapped in our neighbhorhood all year or spending hours a day on the bus. We can do everything we want to do without the expense and hassle of owning a car. Though our Modo bill is typically higher in December than other months, we still spend less than half what it costs to own and operate a car over the year.

An omission you might have noticed in our strategies for car-free holidays is cycling. Next year I’m looking forward to doing a lot more of these things by bicycle but our family cycling trips are on hold until Brontë is big enough to ride with us. Oliver still does some shopping and errands by bike, but I rarely get a chance to go out for a ride without Brontë.

What do you do car-free during the holidays? Have you got any tips to share? Also, for bonus points: which songs do each of my subheadings come from?

PS: for more updates on our car-free life, look for #carfreefamily on Twitter and Instagram

Lisa Corriveau PhotoWhen not blogging on Spokesmama, Lisa Corriveau can often be found in a park somewhere in East Van Instagramming with her two little kids, freelance writing, sewing clothing, tweeting, reading just about anything, performing on stilts, eating chocolate or drinking craft beer. (Sometimes several of the above simultaneously.) Living in a way that’s good for her health & the planet is important to her, so she usually gets where she needs to go by bike or on foot, sometimes transit & occasionally with Modo vehicles.

Vancouver’s Top Mom Bloggers Top Posts for 2013:

As I mentioned, over the coming days, I’ll be featuring guest posts from some of my favourite Vancouver Mom bloggers. They have agreed to share their top post of 2013 with all of you!  Enjoy!

5 Ways To Help a Friend Through Miscarriage

Post from Bianca Bujan,

If I hadn’t lost my last pregnancy, I would look like this right now:


Alright so I’m not exactly Halle Berry, but seeing celebrities like her in the spotlight from the day they announce their pregnancy, to the day they deliver their new bundles of joy, makes me wonder: what do they do in the case of a pregnancy loss? I feel like I hear about starlets becoming pregnant on an almost daily basis, but with the exception of Jack and Lisa Osbourne’s late-term pregnancy loss, you just don’t hear about miscarriages in the media. And while I understand the sensitivity of the subject, I think it’s important for women to know that it is common, that it happens to everyone, and that it doesn’t have to be a secret.

As I approach what would have been my due date, I can’t help but think about what my life would be like at this moment in time if I hadn’t suffered a late-term pregnancy loss. And while I truly believe that this devastating event happened for a reason, I can’t stop thinking about the baby that might have been. The baby who would have come close to sharing a birthday with Halle Berry’s new baby boy.

Throughout my first two pregnancies, the thought of miscarriage didn’t even cross my mind. Not even once. I had no idea that 20% of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage – that it was as common as it is. I also didn’t know that so many women in my network of friends, coworkers and family had endured the same devastation as I had. If no one had shared their own stories of pregnancy loss with me, I would have felt so alone. But the circle of friends who supported me through it all, who shared their own stories and helped me through a dark time, made the grieving process so much easier for me.

So to hopefully help others through the same process, I wanted to share the top 5 things that I found to be the most helpful to get me through my personal experience with miscarriage.

1) Send flowers. While not everyone is as open to talking about their feelings as I am, I think everyone loves to receive a bright bouquet of flowers – it’s a nice way to say that you’re there for them, and you care, without forcing them to talk about their feelings.

2) Share your story. If you’ve gone through a similar experience, share your story with your grieving friend. While it’s unfortunate that miscarriage is so common, your friend can take comfort in numbers. Knowing that others in their own network of friends have experienced the same thing makes it easier to work through the grieving process.

3) Pamper them. There’s no better time for your friend to focus on taking care of themselves. A restful body will help to heal the mind. Gift your friend with a massage or a pedicure so they are forced to take time out to enjoy a little pampering. And if you can, join them!

4) Don’t try to tell them that it’ll all be ok. Unfortunately there isn’t really anything you can do to reassure your friend that they’ll get over it, that they’ll feel better in a few weeks or months. It’s a grieving process – one that affects everyone differently. All that you can do is lend an ear, hold a hand, and wait it out with them.

5) Don’t pry. While you may be wondering why it happened, what the doctors discovered, if your friend is going to try again – wait for your friend to share those details with you, don’t try to pry it out of them. They might not be ready to discuss the details with you yet, but if you let them know that you’re there for them and available if they want to talk, then they will come to you when they’re ready.

While I feel like I’ve healed both emotionally and physically, I’m realizing that suffering a late-term pregnancy loss is not something that just goes away. I had heard the heartbeat. I had seen the growing fetus. I had been told the gender and had chosen a name. While I have healed and grieved and moved on with an optimistic outlook on my life and my unfortunate situation, I have not forgotten, and I probably never will.

T8S1ZAY1iZdQn5sv7f_T2iZsQdXSs3i4vGEoMlx_6MwBianca Bujan was recognized as one of‘s Top 30 Vancouver Mom Bloggers in 2012, and enjoys sharing advice, quotes and anecdotes from a career mom of two through her blog Bits of Bee. After over 10 years of working in a corporate office environment, she has transitioned to the role of work-from-home mom, enjoying her current position as the Manager of Business Development for Crisp Media (host to hyperlocal online magazines for moms in Canada, including Bianca is also a contributor for, freelance writer and marketing consultant. In her spare time, Bianca loves to spend time outdoors with her family with lots of snacks and a fully-charged camera.

I get by with a little help from my friends…

Recently, my family went through a bit of a health scare.  We’re not totally out of the woods yet, but things are looking up.  Obviously, when things like this happen priorities shift and some things fall to the bottom of the pile.  Unfortunately, I have gotten way behind on maintaining this site.

For obvious reasons, our family needs a break…some well deserved “us” time.  So I’m taking some time off…to regroup, recharge and come back in 2014 ready to make this site the best it’s ever been.  In the meantime, and to ensure there is still awesome content here for you to read, I’ve enlisted the help of my Top Vancouver Mom Blogger colleagues…whom I am also lucky to consider friends.  They have agreed to share their most popular posts from 2013 with you all here on  I’m hoping you enjoy the variety…these are a diverse and incredibly talented group of women.  Show them some love, visit their sites and, perhaps, you’ll find something you didn’t even know existed out on the interwebs…

I’ll be checking in over my break to read your comments as well as will still be posting to Facebook and Twitter.  Keep the conversations going…I love reading what you all have to say!

A very Happy Holiday season to you and yours…and all my very best wishes for 2014!!

The Top 10 Absurd Vancouver Properties of 2013

Year after year, Vancouver housing prices remain crazy and 2013 was no exception.  Most of us sit back and laugh/cry when we cruise MLS, the Real Estate Weekly or flyers that come in the door from our local realtors.  Will 2014 be the year it lets up?  Don’t hold your breath…besides, if they did – I’d no longer have anything to post here!

Here are the top 10 Absurd Vancouver Properties of 2013 (based on page views).

#10 – April 4th, 2013

$1.6 million for this Vancouver “garage-mahal”…

$1.5 million vancouver house

#9 – March 14th, 2013

For $4 million, you could live like a chump in this bungalow…



#8 – June 27th, 2013

For $2 million you could own this old gal in Vancouver…or you could have purchased a strange naked portrait of Bea Arthur.


#7 – June 20th, 2013

This heritage beauty seemed like a steal for just under a million:

Absurd Vancouver Property

#6 – June 6th, 2013

I found this bungalow for $2 million and change.

vancouver june 6

It did have a new furnace, roof and air conditioning system but the listing said the inside of the house is in original condition and “needs updating”.  Wonder if it’s still standing?

#5 – May 10th, 2013

Compared to what you could buy in Ontario, this $2 million Vancouver bungalow was a shack:

absurd vancouver property

#4 – January 11th, 2013

In the “down” market at the beginning of 2013, someone still thought $2.6 million was a fair price for this:


#3 – September 5th, 2013

In the 3rd most liveable city in the world, $2.39 million gets you this:


It’s no acreage, but the lot is “huge” and there’s a “partial” view of downtown…hooray!  Money can buy everything.

#2 – April 25th, 2013

For a total of $1.5 million, this lovely Kerrisdale home could have been all yours.

absurd vancouver

This “charming and well cared for character home” has…wait for it…lane access (yippee!!).

#1 – July 11th, 2013

Compared to the homes of Hollywood power couples, we’re quite certain there will be no celebrity shagging happening in this $2.5 million Vancouver house:

vancouver $2.5 million


And there you have it, folks…the absurdest of the absurd!!  Here’s to another year of crazy Vancouver housing prices…after all, I need material!

Vancouver…are you f*%king kidding me??!!

Absurd Vancouver Property (December 19, 2013)

Dancing with the Stars’ Karina Smirnoff bought herself an early Christmas present this year.  The professional dancer purchased this gorgeous Hollywood Hills home for $1.25 million dollars.

karina-smirnoff-buys-home-2-610x457 karina-smirnoff-buys-home-6-610x457 karina-smirnoff-buys-home-8-610x457 karina-smirnoff-buys-home-10-610x457-1 karina-smirnoff-buys-home-11-610x457-1

The Mediterranean-style house, built in 2004, has views of the Hollywood sign from its 1,914 square feet of living space. There’s an eight-person jacuzzi for soaking in after a night performing on “Dancing” and a pool table and bar in the games room.

In Vancouver, for just $50K more, you could purchase this Crackhouse-style (it’s an architectural motif that is making a comeback for 2014) home:


Located on East 14th Avenue, this 4 bedroom house “still is livable”.  Hmmm…I’ll bet I could huff and puff this one down.

Vancouver…are you f*%king kidding me??!!


This guy wins Facebook

We’ve all received those annoying emails and Facebook “friend requests” asking for a sum of money to be wired in exchange for a huge sum of money. Most of us ignore and delete. Steven Galloway had another idea…which resulted in perhaps the most epic and hilarious Facebook exchange I’ve ever seen:

FB thread

There is more!! And I promise you it is worth the read. Click on the link below to see the entire dialogue. It gets really good when Scott Brunce Robert comes into the picture. He may or may not have been they guy that got Steven in trouble when they knifed someone in Montecarlo. I swear…this is one of the best things I’ve read in a while!

Epic Facebook dialogue continued…

B.C. to change liquor laws: but, will happy hour be happy if kids are allowed??

kid beerToday, B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced support for huge changes to the province’s liquor laws, including allowing children to enter pubs and allowing happy hour offers.

“Families should be able to dine together in their neighbourhood pub. Consumers should be free to order whatever they want in a restaurant,” Clark said in a written statement Tuesday.

Under the recommendations:

  • Minors would be allowed into establishments that primarily serve liquor, for example pubs and legions, up until a certain time.
  • Happy hours would also be permitted, although drinks would be subject to minimum pricing, Clark said.
  • Customers in restaurants or bars which primarily serve food would not be required to order food with their drinks.
  • Customers would also be allowed to move freely with their alcoholic drinks from one adjoining licensed area to another — for example, between a summer patio and an indoor section of the pub.

I’ve lived in Europe, where it is commonplace to see children hanging out with their families in pubs.  However, I’ve seen lots of comments out there from people who think kids shouldn’t be welcome in these kinds of establishments…

Christy Clark needs her friggin’ head examined!  Let’s teach our kids to drink, shall we? What the hell is wrong with this woman?? Is there anything she won’t do for a dollar?  Does she think if she changes all the rules regarding alcohol the B.C. Liberals will pick up more impaired driving fines?  What an embarrassment you are, Christy Clark! – Defeated

NO no no no no. Keep the kids out of our pubs. It’s one of the few places we can go without being subjected to other people’s bad parenting. – Iknewthat

Good Lord NOOOO! No kids in Pubs. Please, for the love of all that is holy, allow us one place where we don’t have to worry about some child having a tantrum. I’m all for updating liquor laws. Happy hour? Great. Liquor sales in grocery stores. Fine. Whatever. But no children in pubs. The children have restaurants, diners, cafes, etc. Give the adults the pubs. – AnotherJaneSmith

I’m pretty certain that, as a parent, I know which kinds of establishments are appropriate to bring my kids to.  Local neighbourhood pub for a meal – okay.  Legion on bingo night (or any time for that matter) – not so much.  As for people “teaching their kids to drink”.  Please.  I’m pretty sure we’re able to do that at home, without paying the up-charge at a restaurant or pub.

What are your thoughts?  Will these liquor law changes be a good thing for B.C. businesses and families?  Or, are we surrendering our morals for the sake of being able to pound a few back with junior along for the ride?


A joy to give, but not to kids

Guest post by Darren Groth, BCLC GameSense Regional Team Lead, author and parent of two

I’ve seen enough holiday seasons (and movies) to know what gets made in Santa’s Workshop.

Lalaloopsy and Lego. Furbys and Flutterbye Fairies. Even the odd Nintendo XBox for the kids who have exceeded all “nice” expectations during the year.

Lottery tickets?

No, Santa and his elves know better.

132101412-3_BCLC_GS_NFK-BigBox-232x311Research shows many adult problem gamblers report gambling at an early age, some as young as 10, and often with lottery tickets. And contrary to the belief that gambling ranks pretty low as an entertainment choice of youth, consider this: studies indicate over forty percent of teens are participating in games of chance. Indeed, kids are more likely to gamble than drink, do drugs or smoke.

Do many parents actively seek out information regarding kids and gambling? Sadly, no. They often think their children are too young to gamble, don’t gamble or view youth gambling as no significant cause for concern.  Ninety percent of parents feel discussing other youth topics is more pressing than gambling and seventy-six percent of parents feel that games of chance among kids is harmless as long as no money is at stake.

In response to these findings, BCLC, along with lottery jurisdictions across North America, conducts a holiday campaign reminding shoppers to think twice about whose stocking they are stuffing. This year is BCLC’s sixth year of promoting this important message and, like the workplace standards in Santa’s shop, we hope it fosters informed decision-making and safe practice.

So, remember: the next time you pop by the local Lotto centre to fill up the Christmas sack, make sure you follow the jolly man in red’s example and keep the kids off the list.

bclc-logo_Tag_FVOThis post is sponsored by BCLC.  To learn more about kids and gambling visit





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