Talking about: French Immersion

Discussions between spouses once you have kids become injected wth things you never thought you would talk about in your day-to-day. Not that we don’t chat about the things we used to before! It’s just that now, our conversations include things like “did you read the latest anti-vaccination article going viral on Facebook?” or “The Baby Centre email I got today talked about tantrums – what good timing, hey?” In the last few months, we’ve revisited the topic of immersion programs and whether or not that’s a road we want to go down when it comes time to enroll Theodora in school.

Initially, each of us were split on the subject. I was all for it, coming from the perspective that the younger you can expose a child to other languages the better. They are sponges at these young ages, after all. Alex, on the other hand, was a little more hesitant, more so from a practicality point of view – what language would we choose, and would she realistically use it?

I grew up in a bilingual household with Greek being my first language. As a result of this, my fluency today is all thanks to those early years of listening, learning and speaking the language, and my French studies came to me quite easily and enjoyably in my school years. My French now is nowhere near being able to strike up a conversation, but I could probably get by. And this isn’t to say that my current level of Greek couldn’t use any improvement; it definitely could. But it has really cemented for me how important it is to start as early as possible if I want our child to pick up on a second language. Since I’m with Theodora 95% of each day, I’ve been speaking to her in Greek pretty much from day one in hopes of hearing her little voice speak a word or two in the near future.

We have decided to go with it and have chosen French immersion as our program of choice (we’re ahead of the game, I know, but her school days will be here before we know it, I’m sure – sob, sob!). Now, maybe part way through, she’ll hate it and ask to participate in the regular stream, at which point we will of course discuss and proceed accordingly. Not everyone is a languages person, and we would hate to place that kind of pressure on her. On the other hand, maybe that will be her normal and she’ll embrace it like a champ! I am also of the firm belief that the more languages you know or are exposed to, the easier they come.

Time will tell, but I’m curious – have any of you with kids had similar discussions? If you have enrolled your kids in an immersion program, has it been valuable? Have you had to re-learn the language yourself in order to help with assignments?! Clearly we have a bit more homework to do…no pun intended ;)

Easter Parts One & Two

For those who may not know, Easter is the biggest religious celebration for Greek Orthodox Christians (it’s bigger than Christmas). Growing up, we have always celebrated Orthodox Easter, with certain festivities and family gatherings spilling over onto Western Easter, depending on how close the two fall if it’s not on a year that they coincide completely. Confusing, I know! You can read about the differences and why they are sometimes celebrated on different days here.

This year, we celebrated both. Western, or Catholic Easter, presented an opportunity to get together with family for an outdoor egg hunt at my aunt and uncle’s farm. This was a place where my sisters and I spent a lot of time in our younger years and it was so fun to go back now with Theodora. It’s not hard to see that she had a lot of fun filling her basket with the help of her older cousins, pointing out where the eggs and other Easter goodies were hiding!

She was clearly done at this point. With the egg hunt, and all of the pictures!

Orthodox Easter, which was just this past weekend, consisted of a lot of church-going and looking forward to the meat-filled feast that would break our 40-day fast. This typically includes a big lamb roast, but because not everyone was in town for the weekend, we opted for hosting an equally satisfying, but simple, brunch on Sunday morning. I vowed to take more pictures throughout the weekend, but failed miserably, getting caught up in the busy-ness of everything. I did, however, manage to take a couple on my phone – of Thea’s outfits that we dressed her in for church. Priorities, right?! Here, friends, our Orthodox Easter in Thea’s #ootd, or Outfits of the Day.

One of my dreams is to one day celebrate Easter in Greece – to really experience the richness, beauty and mystery of the holiday. Until that time, we will continue with carrying out the traditions we knew and loved during our childhood, with a whole lot of fun along the way!

I hope you’re having a great week!

xo
Kassey

Also…

Although an old article, Rita Wilson’s take on Orthodox Easter is a really personal and beautiful read, if you haven’t come across it already.

Fun fact ~ It’s a sweet coincidence that I post on this topic today. Easter was my grandma’s absolute favourite holiday, and today is her birthday! Happy Birthday yiayia. You are still very much alive in my heart and memories <3

Woman Crush Wednesday: Olivia Wilde

Helloooooo! Or maybe I should rephrase that to “hello?” Anyone there? It’s been a while (sorry!), but I’m back and excited to reconnect with each of you. In my last post I talked about how I was starting some contract work from home, which has been all sorts of wonderful. I just wrapped up a project that was really fun and packed with learning, and perhaps the biggest lesson I took away was that of balance and ensuring I give proper attention to everything on my plate at any given time. I’m really grateful for opportunities like these because such lessons are something I will face at one point or another, so I always prefer to embrace them sooner than later. And the learning – my hungry brain does a happy dance with each new task I take on!

I thought it would be fun to come back with a #wcw, or Woman Crush Wednesday post. One where I talk about the big lady crush I have on this gal right here:

Olivia Wilde is someone I admire for a lot of reasons – her talent, style, wit and humor are but a few of them. She recently joined the ranks of motherhood, too, and I just loved her take on her post-baby body in the April issue of Shape Magazine. It can be an intense battle when you combine your own insecurities and the societal pressures of what women should look like after growing a human! But she comes along and casually injects these bits of hilarity that bring everything back to reality again. Bottom line for any woman nitpicking each part of their unique selves (myself included) – love the evidence of bringing a child into the world and have fun while getting in shape. And if you so choose, make like Olivia and dance your butt off!

Which woman are you crushing on?

Also…

Another dance themed fitness class that results in serious (but good) pain: Barre Body Studio Edmonton

Olivia has made a linked appearance on here before, on turning 30

Because Dove is amazing and does a great job of making women feel beautiful always: Choose Beautiful || Women all over the world make a choice

xo,
Kassey

Working Girl

You may remember me telling you about my new job as a full-time, stay-at-home mom, which is still something I’m loving immensely. In that same post, I also talked about a promise I kind of made to myself about finding ways to keep those other, non-baby parts of my brain nice and fresh. And so here I am, one month into a perfect gig that I can do from home, project managing for a public relations and marketing company. I am LOVING it!

It’s just what I was hoping for – new and challenging so as to push me, yet familiar enough that I can draw from my previous experience. All of this from the comfort of home with Theodora on my lap sometimes, and other times while she’s napping or asleep for the night. This also explains why I have been a little more absent from this space lately. It is not for any other reason than getting myself acquainted with this job. I have enjoyed blogging and everything that comes along with it too much, so I’m excited to inject some of what I learn along the way into the future of The Lovely Ordinary!

People have asked me if I miss my job, and I do miss certain parts. I miss working downtown, and I miss the people, but probably the strangest of all the things I miss is this: dressing up for work. Weird? I know! I have always loved dressing up, whether it was for work, or an event, or heck, even day to day. I’m not a hang-around-in-my-pjs-all-day kind of girl (although sometimes those days are necessary and enjoyable every now and again), so it’s very much a fun part of mine and Theodora’s day to get out of our pyjamas and don some cute duds for the day. I recently read something that I thought was so sweet, and really resonated with my dress-up desires. It was more of a fun tactic to keep the sparks flying in your relationship (it’s not what you think!!), but it reminded me of yet another occasion I consider fun and worthy of dressing up – going out for a night on the town with your husband/boyfriend/significant other.

Speaking of which, signs of love are going to pop up everywhere over the next couple of weeks as we near Valentine’s Day. If you’re stuck for things to do, check out this list of 20 things to do in Edmonton on Valentine’s Day. Some really fun ideas here, like my personal favourite – the Sweetheart Snowshoe through the River Valley.

Oh, and Happy Groundhog Day! What are you all thinking; will spring come soon, or will we endure winter for a little while longer? Hmmm….

Have a great week, regardless of the season Mother Nature grants us!

xo,
Kassey

Still Renovating. Oh, and a Giveaway!

I’m about to launch into a topic that has potential to completely dominate this little space of mine on the internet. But I won’t let that happen! I’ll keep it short and sweet for you guys, but also share our renovation story, as well as let you in on a chance to win something cool!

GIVEAWAY
I’ll start with the fun stuff first! The Edmonton Renovation Show kicks off this weekend and up for grabs is one pair of VIP tickets to Bryan Baeumler’s show on Friday, January 23 at 7:00 pm! For anyone that has undertaken a renovation project, large or small, you will appreciate when I say that getting ideas, tips, and inspiration from pros like Bryan can really help guide your process. He has led homeowners in tackling overwhelming projects on his hit shows House of Bryan, Disaster DIY, and Leave It To Bryan. Enter for your chance to learn, first hand, his tips on a renovation priority list and how to get the most out of your home. Simply enter a Rafflecopter giveaway
with your information, follow a few short steps, and I will draw the winner on January 21 at 10:00 am. It’s a short window of time, so be sure to get in there! *Contest is open to those who will be in Edmonton on January 23, 2015*

Back to our renovation saga…I mean, story! I speak genuinely when I say that it has been an extremely rewarding experience undertaking such a project. When Alex and I decided to buy his childhood home over six years ago, it was with intentions of updating it so that we could turn around and resell in a fairly short amount of time. However, taking on 95% of this renovation ourselves, we quickly learned that a) we had to do this gradually in order to stay within budget and b) this stuff takes time. A wedding, some travelling and a baby later brings us to today, where we still have a few odds and ends to tie up, as well as a main bathroom to completely overhaul. But you know what, we’re ok with it because with each coat of paint, and each piece of hardwood that was laid down, we have grown that much more attached to this home. There were tears along the way (just mine), and a whole lot of sweat, so this isn’t to say that it was a walk-in-the-park kind of task. It’s a huge undertaking, and without Alex’s patience and dedication to learn, as well as some help and elbow grease of a few friends and family, we wouldn’t have completed what we have today.

The coolest part about all of this is that Theodora now gets to grow up under the same roof that her dad did! It’s actually an exciting opportunity for all three of us to start making some new memories under Version 2.0 of this roof. And on that note, here is our humble home in before’s and after’s:

The Living Room

The Dining Room

The Kitchen

The Family Room

We tackled each space with the goal of making it usable. While we may not do all of our family lounging and relaxing in the larger living room, for example, it definitely is a space we use often, even if it’s just for Theodora to run circles (and for some reason, that area rug is a total hit with kids!) After all has been said and (almost) done, we are not in as much of a rush to sell the house as we thought we would be. We’ve updated it to our taste and really enjoy it and our neighbourhood. So we’ll stay a while.

If you have a chance this weekend, and you’re looking for some renovation inspiration, head over to the show to chat with the experts!

Hours
Friday, January 23, noon-9pm
Saturday, January 24, 10am-9pm
Sunday, January 25, 10am-5pm

Northlands, Edmonton EXPO Centre
http://www.edmontonrenovationshow.com/

Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Thanks, 2014. Hello, 2015!

I hope you all have had a restful, food-filled holiday with all of the family time your hearts can handle, and more! That is what the holidays are all about after all, right?

It has been not just a great holiday season for us, but a great year all around. We took in all of our firsts with Theodora, and got to enjoy an energetic Christmas morning full of laughs as we watched her destroy every piece of tissue paper she came across. Who needs toys?!

As we were nearing the holidays, I was really hoping to take a true break and unplug. It’s hard to do, since day to day life is full of digital distractions, but I was determined to completely scale back on laptop, tablet and cell phone time. And what a success; we did it! We had several festive events on our radar, which we managed to take in, but most of all, we just wanted to hang out with our families. Visiting with family and friends was of top priority, especially those that made it in from out of town, so we feel refreshed after having caught up with those that are dear to us, but live far away.

It should be all 365 days of the year, but at Christmas time we are reminded to acknowledge and count our blessings. Having just payed my respects at an old friend’s funeral yesterday, that reminder was especially clear to me. I do my best to recognize all of life’s blessings all throughout the year, even (especially) the tiny ones, but I will make sure that for 2015, I kick that up a notch.

For example, I’m going to institute a wear-matching-slippers ritual, like we did on Christmas morning:

Or take a regular stroll through the local zoo at night:

Have a snow day on a more regular basis:

Relish in all of the joy that this little one brings us:

Also worth mentioning – she not only got her two front (top) teeth for Christmas, but also mastered walking! This proud mom is filling in these milestones in the baby book!

As our 2014 chapter comes to a close, we excitedly await 2015 and all of the fun it has in store for us. We’ve got wedding festivities on the horizon, and the regular daily adventures that we call life, so that in itself is a blessing. Hug those you love extra tight, and I wish you all every joy and happiness in 2015. Oh, and ring in the New Year safely :)

xo,
Kassey

RIP JC <3

#yeg Spotlight: Holiday Shopping

The festive spirit has been evident in our home for a few weeks now, but my excitement really amps up the moment Halloween is over. Christmas is, without question, my favourite time of the year, and I have enjoyed holiday shopping this year with my favourite little shopping companion by my side. I really like to support local businesses as much as I can, so I turned to a few of my favourite local makers (and discovered some new ones along the way) when thinking about what we wanted to gift this year. Below, my go-tos and why I like them so much:

1. Justine Ma: Design & Hand Lettering
Can you remember a time when a handwritten note didn’t give you an extra special feeling? I can’t, especially when it’s this level of beautiful and perfect. Justine’s custom hand lettering is appropriate for pretty much all occasions and reasons for gifting, and will make a most heart felt and memorable gift. Her merchandise can be found in various local shops throughout the city, and she is a regular in the craft show scene, the details of which you can keep up with through her Instagram feed. It’s a gorgeous feed, and it’s sprinkled with appearances of her equally gorgeous family. You’re welcome :)

2. Sylvia Soo Leather, Art & Design
I haven’t really stopped gushing about Sylvia since I discovered her, and I have equal parts lust for her leather goods as I do her sweet personality. I first learned about her through an interview my friend, Gillian, did on her blog, The Noteworthy (you can read all about Sylvia here), and then I had the chance to meet her at the Make It Show last month. Clean, minimalist and impeccable craftsmanship are but a few of the ways I would describe Sylvia’s work. And while you’re perusing her site, I would encourage you to read about how she got started in leather making. It will move and inspire you in ways you probably won’t expect.

3. Jacek Chocolate Couture
There’s chocolate, and then there’s Jacek Chocolate. More than just a delectable, bite-sized treat, they’re nice to look at, too; I’ve actually heard of these being referred to as edible art! We upped our chocolate giving this year by grabbing a few beautifully boxed goodies, and in turn, we’re supporting a really cool local business. While I haven’t met the master chocolatier behind all of this, I’ve heard Jacqueline’s passion for the art is contagious. And by the evolution of her business, from home-based to storefront in the heart of downtown Edmonton, I’d say this passion injection is a good thing.

4. Duchess Bake Shop
I think all of Canada knows of Duchess Bake Shop by now, as they have truly established themselves as a prominent, top tier, bakery. It also represents all things beautiful and French, from the savoury Croque Monsieur to the pristine decor, it’s as if you’re hanging out in Paris for the day. Their cookbook, released earlier this fall, shares not only recipes, but tips, tricks and beautiful photos to help us recreate our favourites right at home.

5. Plum Home + Design
Beautiful things abound under the roof of Plum. For the antique lover, or the kitchen warrior, the crafting queen, or the office organizing nut, there is something for everyone. Each item in this store is perfectly curated to create the most charming shopping experience (online shopping is available, too!), making it really difficult not to walk out with something for yourself. Or that adorable baby in your life – Baby Plum is an expanding portion of this local business, and it’s a whole lot of soft, cute, and beautiful.

6. Evoolution
The wide variety of infused oils and vinegars available here make gift-giving a very smooth ride. I have been on the receiving end of an Evoolution gift, and I’m always so excited to put the new oil and vinegar pairing to work. For those Jamie Oliver types in your life, a gift set or individually chosen pairing just begs for experimentation. A sure win!

I would love for you to share some of your local favourites with me! I’m always looking to add to my list of local go-tos.

Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Images via:
http://www.plumhomeanddesign.com, my own, http://www.jacekchocolate.com, http://www.duchessbakeshop.com, http://www.evoolution.ca