Christmastime

I love Christmas every year that it rolls around, but there’s one particular Christmas that stands out from the rest.

 

Back in 2005 (hard to believe that’s over ten years ago), my family and I celebrated Christmas and New Years in Greece. It was a chance to spend some time with all of our relatives there, and also to see Greece at a very different time of year. When you hear of Greece, most people think of islands, or beaches, world famous sunsets, or ancient ruins. Souvlaki may also come to mind. But life is different during the winter months. At least, it felt that way to me after only having seen it in the summer months when the aforementioned are most prevalent.

It was like we were part of the country’s regular programming; where citizens were out and about getting ready for Christmas, rushing from one gathering or party to the next. The traditions we preserve and practice here at home were visible and alive everywhere, surrounding us like the richest chocolate around a hazelnut. The most memorable and meaningful part was that we got to experience Christmas the way my dad did growing up as a kid.  It was, without sounding childish or cliche, magical.

In amongst all of these lovely, festive moments, there were also some eye-opening parts of the trip. Like the fact that homes aren’t heated in the same way during the winter like our Canadian homes are. Let’s just say that when the firewood has been used up and it’s the middle of the night, you layer with every sweater and blanket in site! Or when we were driving up a narrow, village road that was covered in ice, we had to accept the fact that our little rental car couldn’t hack it (it seriously couldn’t; we spun out multiple times, and even lost control as we headed towards the roadside…with no guardrail!) But, my uncle’s old, Toyota pick-up truck could! Strap some chains around the tires and away you go, is how it’s done over there.

It was a trip to remember, in spite of the differences. The true gift in all of this was experiencing something so rich, and so cool with my parents and sisters, and with relatives that are so far away. Now that I have a family of my own, I can’t wait to experience something like this and create our own version of this in the future.

greece-december-16-2005-to-january-7-2006-013

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a holiday season full of love, laughter and lots of restful family time. See you in 2017!

xo! Kassey

//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

#yeg Spotlight: KidsFringe!

The Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is a well known and seriously loved summer festival not just by Edmontonians, but by theatre goers around the world. We had the opportunity to check out the KidsFringe last week, a branch that is fully dedicated to activities and entertainment fit for the 12 and under crowd, and had a great time!

There were drummers from the Booming Tree Taiko Drum Group. These guys were a hit, and Thea has been re-enacting the drumming ever since.

 

There was a craft and coloring area, and a Book Nook where Cinderella and Belle themselves conducted a little story time break. (I really thought I’d have a hard time tearing Thea away from her dream Disney princesses, but that blue balloon was much more interesting to her. Go figure!)

 

And, it’s not pictured here, but there was also a Tent for Tots, which contained a variety of toys and activities for little ones aged five and under. A magnetic attraction drew us to this particular tent, so needless to say, we spent a bit more time in there.

It was really neat to take in the Fringe Festival a little differently this year. It’s a summer attraction that we have enjoyed in the past, with the outdoor vendors and performances being reminiscent of Europe, in a way. The shows, of course, are something to see as well, with incredible talent coming alive on stage. As the festival celebrates its 35th anniversary this summer, it was especially fun to take it all in and see the success of a true, grass-roots Edmonton success story. The KidsFringe runs the full ten days of the entire festival, so there’s still time to check it out (August 11-21).

We will definitely be back!

 

Hope you’re having a great week!

xo

Kassey

Beating the Heat

What a summer! And I’m talking about the heat. It seems like our summers have gotten hotter, in general. Is it just me?! I always say that the really hot days are still too few to justify installing an air conditioning unit in our home. Except that those really hot days are increasing in frequency and temperature, and I’m about ready to bid our fans adieu, and just go for the real deal. I blame a few things for this (my Mediterranean-living, heat-loving friends and family are rolling their eyes right now, I just know it!). One: I think it comes with age. I not only have become less tolerant of heat, but I physically can’t handle it like I used to in my 20s. Gone are the days where I could spend hour after hour being a slave to the sun. I get the shakes, I get weak, and I turn into a big mess if I don’t have a hat, a bottle of water and some shade nearby. Sigh. Two: 95% of my day is now spent running after and keeping up with my two young girls. My pre-kid self might relish in these soaring temperatures a bit more. But kid wrangling and +30 degrees…I’m sweating just thinking about it.

Bottom line: I love summer, I really do. I just love it with cold water and even colder decaf, iced Americanos. Here’s what we’ve been up to and how we’re beating the heat:

A Rocky Mountain getaway back in June. That cool, mountain air was welcomed with open arms.

 

Lots of lake walks, refreshing slurpees every once in a while, and playing tour guide for my cousin who recently visited from North Carolina

I have also made it my goal to experiment with some different dinner recipes to limit my oven use on the exceptionally scorching days. So far, I’ve tried these summer rolls (a new family hit!) and a summer vegetable soup (very similar to this recipe).

Hope you’re enjoying the summer! Tell me about the ways your beating the heat and any tasty, summer dinner recipes you love 🙂

xo,

Kassey

Mother’s Day

Motherhood has been, and continues to be, the most beautiful and incredible ride. It’s fun, it’s fulfilling, it’s feeling and expressing a love you didn’t quite know existed, and it requires you to develop a thick skin pretty quickly in order to roll with the learning curves along the way. This Mother’s Day, my wishlist consists of things that are totally basic and simple, but are tied to the experiences I enjoy and look forward to having more of with my little family. Below is a round up of every day things, but things that take on new meaning once you become a mom.

Clockwise L to R: Oversized vegan weekender, Explore Alberta HoodieNike Juvenate, Signature home scent, Sugared & Spiced cake, Mug, Love Fresh lotion

Photo credits: Sole Society, Ole Originals, Nike, Anthropologie, Sugared & Spiced, Jillian Schecher, Love Fresh

Packing up and running off with my family for a few days is what my dreams are made of, especially as life gets busier and we get caught in the day-to-day of things. Everything I would need for a mountain getaway, tossed into this beautiful weekender bag, and off we go!

A mountain getaway needs this Explore Alberta hoodie. It’s casual and cute and just what I need to run around with my girls (also makes me feel Alberta proud)

As the girls get older and more active, I look forward to keeping pace right there with them. Why not do it in a pair of cute kicks?!

I love a signature scent for my family to associate with a warm and cozy home. This Capri Blue candle from Anthropologie is perfection.

The sweet tooth runs strong in this family. And just look at this cake…need I say more?!

Coffee is a necessary treat that I look forward to each day, and I absolutely love this mug that my dear friend, Justine Ma, designed with another sweet and talented gal, Miss Chrissy Charms.

By the end of each day, my hands are in need of some beautifully scented TLC, and this Lavender lotion from Love Fresh is just what my skin needs and loves.

Wishing a very happy Mother’s Day weekend to all of the moms and moms-to-be, and especially to my favourite – my own mom ❤

xo

//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

And Then There Were Four

We have been a family of four now for the last two and a half months (or if you’re counting the nine months of pregnancy, that would make it 11 and a half months!) and it’s been a whirlwind of embracing our newest family member with more love than we ever imagined our hearts capable of. It really has felt like Emmanuela has been part of the family forever, and it’s hard to believe she was only ten days old in these pictures. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Our newborn/family pictures with Kelsy Nielson started out with a mini-shoot of Thea playing with her headbands and bracelets (this happens on the daily around here!) These, coupled with the images of us all in our early days with Emma, are ones I will treasure forever. A million thanks to Kelsy for capturing these special moments for us again. She’s just the best!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy mid-week!

xo

Kassey

//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences\\

We are a family of four! But first…

Well, hello! Sincere apologies for my absence on here lately, but as you may remember, we welcomed our second daughter last month and we’ve been indulging in all of that newborn magic. And, let’s be honest, adjusting, cause a house with a toddler and a newborn requires adjusting. For the most part, it’s been going well, and I am now just emerging from the haze caused by lack of sleep and learning to divide myself between two little humans. But they’re so darn cute and lovable that it all works out in the end 🙂

Before I gush about how much I love that we are now a family of four, allow me to talk about our last couple of months as a family of three. Let me take you back to early November, when we decided to do some family photos that were somewhat twofold. Okay, threefold. One was to work with the amazing Kelsy Nielson again (she has photographed us since our days as two newly engaged, fresh faced kids!) Another was to capture us as a family of three, with my prominent baby bump. And finally, I wanted to use one of the photos for our Christmas cards. Sounds simple, and I expected it to be a simple and enjoyable process because we came to our photo location prepared: treats, toys, books, and tablet in tow. Everything Thea likes on a normal day. Except that it wasn’t a normal day because we skipped a nap and had something specific we wanted to accomplish. Our strong-willed two year old had different plans; plans that included things going completely opposite. Tantrums, hot chocolate stains, toddler wrangling and puddle battling were but a few of the happenings in that short time span, though you wouldn’t guess it from the pictures below. That’s all thanks to the magic that is Kelsy – photographer and kid whisperer extraordinaire.

 

 

 

 

 

After dissecting and re-hashing the incidents that unfolded (and after a few tears of frustration, if I’m being honest) I realized that, hey, she’s a two year old. That’s just how they roll – they’re happily cooperating and eating a chocolate chip cookie one minute, and then like the flip of a switch, losing their minds because we said no to puddle jumping (after she was already soaked from 20 minutes of puddle jumping)!

I love how Kelsy captured us here, and I look forward to sharing some pictures where she captured us as a new family of four with our sweet Emmanuela. Stay tuned!

xo,

Kassey

// Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

2016 So Far

A couple of weeks into the new year, and I’m just now getting around to this post! I hope the holidays were full of family and good food, and that you’re all feeling recharged, rejuvenated, and ready to take on another great year.

I am still one week away from my due date, so anxious and excited would be the biggest understatements to describe how we’re feeling about the impending arrival of our fourth family member! I, especially, am feeling beyond ready to welcome this little bundle of a girl into our lives, because if I’m being honest – pregnant and toddler wrangling on the daily is plain … hard. I just continue to remind myself that I physically can’t be pregnant forever, and before long, we will all be getting acquainted and getting to know the latest and cutest addition to our family.

With so much excitement (and adjustment, no doubt) awaiting us in 2016, I am looking forward to taking it all in in somewhat of a scaled back way. I will probably be a little quieter on this space for the next couple of months, for no reason other than to just focus on us as a new family of four. Stick with me, though, as I will remain active on Instagram and Twitter. and of course try my best to get back on here with updates and photos when I can. I’m also looking forward to sharing some of the plans I’ve been working on for the work side of my life. But you’ll have to wait until spring/summer for that one 🙂

Here are a few photos from the last little while. Enjoy, and hope you’re having a great week!

 

We celebrated Thea turning two with a Minnie Mouse themed day!

|| Cake by Jacqueline at Cake Affair & topper designed by Justine Ma ||

This cookie decorating station was a hit, and super simple to whip up.

She was really into decorating this year, and surprisingly wasn’t too interested in dismantling any of the tree after the fact – thank goodness!

On Christmas Eve, we decided to head down to the Legislature Grounds, and we’re so glad we did. You can’t really tell from these photos, but it was an exceptionally cold evening. It was a short-lived visit, but the beauty sure made up for it!

Our last Christmas as a family of three! Something tells me that the exact picture of this time next year is going to look a whole lot different!!

xo,

Kassey

// Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

#yeg Spotlight: Holiday Gift Guide 2015

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and I’m excited once again to share my list of a few local favourites that I will be shopping and gifting for the holidays (you can check out my round up of last year’s locals here, who are producing wonderful things yet again this year!)

I know not everyone gets excited about Christmas music immediately following Halloween, or the decorations popping up faster than you can say “boo!”. But, truth be told, I am totally one of those people that has Christmas movies and mugs on rotation all year round. Regardless of where you stand on the Christmas excitement meter, the task of shopping for the holidays can be daunting; even dreadful at times. But if you’re making a commitment to shop locally, and that’s something you enjoy anyway, then I hope to inspire even the slightest bit of cheer with my collection below.

Clockwise:

Transcend Coffee Subscription
Coffee. Delivered to your house. Need I say more?! This local shop has made gift-giving to the serious coffee lover so much easier. You select the type of subscription you want, length of time you wish to send coffee to the recipient’s home, and Transcend takes care of the rest of the logistics. I have almost signed myself up many times…

The Skinny
For all of those impeccably dressed little ones in your life. This shop carries everything from cute and modern swaddle blankets to outfits that make you want to request the same in adult sizes. All of the shop’s items are curated by the lovely (in every sense of the word) Erinn, and can be shopped either online or from their trendy, underground storefront in Vacancy Hall of the Mercer Warehouse.

Top Knot Style
I recently gifted one of these luxurious and beautiful cowls to my sister for her birthday, and it’s taking everything in me not to order one of everything else for myself and the rest of my family! All hand made, right here in Edmonton!

Pura Botanicals
I have yet to experience the beauty and serenity of Pura’s brand new space located on 124 Street, but what I know from pictures and experiences of friends of mine that have been, I can’t wait to discover more. Eco-friendly, sustainable, and effective skin care is a gift everyone must experience, right?

Berg and Betts
Stylish accessories made from the heart. This local company truly works magic with their hands as they transform scrap leathers into beautiful watches of various styles, and tassle necklaces that are highly coveted by any fashion girl at heart.

I don’t want to end this post without mentioning the holiday markets, because that is where you can get your hands on even more uniquely Edmonton goods:

Make It Edmonton – November 26-29
Cory Christopher Christmas Market – now until December 20
Royal Bison – November 27-29 + December 4-6
Shop the Loft – December 12

It’s fun and exciting to me to find that perfect holiday gift for the special people in our lives, but it’s giving, in general, that excites me the most. In keeping with our family tradition of giving back, this year we have decided to donate to the organizations that will be supporting Syrian refugees coming to Edmonton. An unavoidable issue in the news these days, this is something that lives very close to my heart. Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter, granddaughter and niece of immigrants, who faced similar struggles (though the circumstances for coming here were different, in some cases). Or maybe it’s because we have a young family of our own and can’t help but see our own daughter in the faces of the young children and their families on the treacherous journey to a better life. Either way, if my family’s contributions help make even the slightest difference, then it’s something we’re ready to dive right into. Here are the links to some information we found helpful, and where/how to donate:

Direct help in Edmonton: Mennonite Centre for Newcomers

Canadian Red Cross

UNHCR Canada – The UN Refugee Agency

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re having a great week! xo

Kassey
//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences\\

A Summer Recap

Yesterday started out as a rainy, September day, and it made me think “Hey, this would be a good time to reflect on how we spent our summer”. There’s no time like the present to share that with you, right?!

In short, it seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye, as the summer months tend to do. It was a busy one for us, but we managed to get away on a couple of small trips (pictures to follow below), enjoyed a lot of what was happening here in Edmonton, excitedly planned and celebrated my sister’s wedding (stay tuned for photos from the very talented Carmyn Joy), and all the while, I am growing baby #2. Surprise! Depending on whether you follow along on either my personal or blog Instagram accounts, you may have seen a few photos revealing a rapidly growing bump. We are SO excited to be expanding our family, and with another baby GIRL!!! This pregnancy has brought along its fair share of sickness and next-to-nothing energy levels, but thankfully I have left that behind in the first trimester and am happy to be feeling more like myself these days (save for a bad back).Life is going to get a whole lot girlier around here, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. January can’t come soon enough!

Back to the recap. Back in June, we took a trip down to Calgary for the annual Greek Festival that the community puts on. This trip was twofold – partly to perform with my Greek dance group and partly to have a little family getaway.

Here’s the dancing gang, Kyklos (that’s me in the top row, third from the left)

At the Calgary Zoo, trying to snap a picture with Thea before she runs away (something she loves doing nowadays)

Grabbing a coffee at the famously rich and satisfying Phil & Sebastian in Chinook Centre

We took the road down south again later on in the summer and spent August long weekend in Canmore. This was the first time I had spent actual, dedicated time in the town, and it didn’t take long for me to fall completely in love. It’s scenic, quaint, and has something for everyone. We can’t wait to go back, and perhaps experience what winter in the Rocky Mountains is like (mental note: sign the family up for skiing lessons first!)

While in Canmore, we hiked the Grassi Lakes trail which came highly recommended from a few friends. Despite not making it all the way to the top (thanks to my pregnant huffing and puffing!), we are so glad we did what we could. It was a scorcher of a day, so to conquer what we did was a pretty great feat! Here are some of the views we encountered along the way.

It was another great one for the books! We have said this more frequently in recent years, especially since starting a family of our own, but there’s something so cool and fulfilling when you can dive in and explore the gems within your own province; your own backyard, so to speak. And to think there’s so much more of this great province to uncover.

With summer officially behind us, I am ready to embrace the cooler temperatures and all of the beauty that fall brings. Oh, and Starbucks’ pumpkin scones 🙂

Happy Wednesday…xo

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 😉