Shopping & Me…on Urbandig!

It’s no secret that I love to shop – the hunt and its tangential discoveries, the rush of finding it (on sale!), the promise of transformation, I love it all. And from J Brand skinny jeans to Rocky Mountain Foot Butter to a Goorin fedora, I’ve bought it all. I’ve been teased that Confessions of a Shopaholic’s Rebecca Bloomwood is loosely based on my life – except perhaps for the bits about the enabling roommate and that glossy pink (iLove!) Macbook. I do, however, own more stilettos than you can shake a stick at and have had my credit cards declined at Henri Bendel. Tres embarrassing!!

So enter Urbandig. Urbandig is a cool new app that delivers “off the beaten path” city experiences right to your smart phone and these experiences have been “curated” by hipsters in the know. I knew I had to get on board.

As for my curator credentials, I’m a born and bred Vancouverite and as mentioned, I love to shop. In fact, I believe I am a pioneer in the shop-tourism sector – having travelled to London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Marrakech, Toronto, NYC, Chicago, and San Francisco to name a few – like a UN Goodwill ambassador, only I’m spurring local economies. Secondly, I have four sisters and our favorite holiday of the year is Boxing Day. After the tree is trimmed, the turkey gobbled, doodads purchased, wrapped and then unwrapped for every member of our extended family, we wake up at 6AM, zip to Caffé Artigiano for a latte to go and then shop till we drop (dollar bills obviously!) And finally, living as I do, with 4 boys under my roof, there is not much I won’t do for a day out with my girlfriends. And so, as often as we can, my girlfriends and I come together to brunch, shop, spa, shop some more, drink & dance – and as such, planning Girls Days Out are somewhat of a specialty of mine.

With the malls of North America so cookie-cutter boring, there are really just two shopping destinations in Vancouver that I love to waste a day away at – Main Street and South Granville Street. For my Girls Day Out tour, I chose Granville Street as it caters to foodies, shoe lovers, and all shoppers who love good style as much as they love good labels, plus it ends at a world-class spa. Everyone’s a winner on Granville Street!!

So grab a girlfriend (or eight) and follow my Girls on Granville Tour on Urbandig. Meet over brunch at Café Barney or Luke’s Corner Bar (but don’t eat too many breakfast potatoes or you won’t fit into those skinny jeans you covet!) and take a wander down beautiful, historic South Granville Street, I’ll bet you’ll find just what you’re looking for!

Love Lucie

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To Do or Not To Do – that is the question

So I’m 6 weeks into my Princess year and I’ve gone to the gym 22 times, cleaned out 7 junk drawers and written exactly 1 blog post.

Obvious priority adjusting jokes aside, it makes me wonder why everyday for the past 6 weeks, I choose to tackle the minutiae that comes along with being a stay-at-home mom instead of focusing on what’s really important to me as my own person. While the low hanging fruit (do laundry, tidy house) offer easy (and gratifying) check-marks on my bulging to-do list, it leaves the tougher and so much more rewarding projects to go unpicked day after day.

To illustrate my point, this was my to-do list on Monday, which I keep track of my Things app for iPhone:
– Run
– Coffee w/ Grade 3 moms
– Buy Groceries
– Shower
– Talk to Lawyer
– Book haircut for eldest son
– Book doctor appointment for eldest son
– Book babysitter for Thursday night
– Write in middle son’s birthday book
– Buy birthday gifts for nanny, niece & nephew
– Send baby gift to friend in London
– Make lasagne for dinner
– Pick up kids
– Meet with youngest’s son’s teacher
– Take middle son out for birthday treat after school
– Write blog post

And despite my detailed organization, I somehow forgot that I had double booked my eldest son on an after school playdate. One at my house and one at another boy’s house. Plus I got so involved chatting with the other moms after school, I forgot all about my meeting with my son’s teacher. At the end of a long and stressful day where I was short with the kids and quick with my friends, I got it all done…aside from the blog post. And that has been the daily pattern for the past 6 weeks and perhaps even longer. This post I wrote in May 2009 suggests that some habits die hard, or at least, very, very slowly.

My to-do list for October 19, 2011
This is my Things to-do-list today:

With less minutiae and my most important task already behind me, I can look forward to the rest of my day. What are you going to do today?

Love Lucie

Love, Sweat & Tears – Kindergarten at last

As anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows, we got royally jipped in terms of heat and sunlight hours this summer. The only thing that got me through this bipolar summer of 2011 was the fact that my youngest son was starting school full-time in September. In short, this is my princess year. This is to say that for the first time since Dec 2000, I have 6 hours a day to myself. Just me, my thoughts and I (plus a few breakfast dishes). Every weekday. For 37 weeks a year. Delicious.

There was just one thing standing in my way. Rookie moms.

Many of the sweet children in my son’s kindergarten class are first borns, or as I prefer to call them, guinea pigs. Being a veteran mom, I know from experience that saying that first goodbye cuts like a knife. Many a rookie stay-at-home mom’s secret fear is that our kids don’t actually need us and will head into the classroom with nary a backwards glance. And these kids, those sneaky devils, smell that fear in our hearts and use it to masterfully manipulate us. They wail, as if cued in a chorus, the moment the kindergarten teacher presents herself to steal our children. Veteran moms know that those first goodbyes need to be ripped off a band-aid, a quick kiss & a hug and they’re off to the land of learning. Some first-time moms however, do a Sally Fields, basking in the glory of “my kid really, really needs me” and joins the class for a kindergarten refresher.

After my first princess year drop off, I went running. As I ran, I vacillated between being joyous that I finally had “me” time and miserable that my baby was a fully competent and capable kindergarten kid. When I shared this with my husband later that evening, he thought it was time to see my therapist again.

On the third day of school, my son decided that he wanted his mommy to stay at school like all the others. So, he cried, clinging to my body, rubbing his luscious tears and dripping nose juices all over my new Lululemon pants. And being a veteran mom with my personal trainer waiting for me at the gym, I dragged him to his teacher so she could pull his little body off of me while I ran out the door. I was tough on the outside but inside, I was crying too, yet narcissistically reassured that he did actually want me to stay.

After a weekend at home, things got worse on Monday, as the other kids caught onto the crying game and more parents were being sucked into this loud emotional vortex. At her wits end, the kindergarten teacher had a chat with her little charges and announced that “mommies and daddies are no longer allowed in our classroom.” And so every day after that, my obedient son would stoically wait for the morning bell, his lower lip protruding, while tears would start to pool in his eyes. Feeling as though he was being betrayed by his own body, he would then stick his two fingers into his tear ducts (Three Stooges style) in an attempt to stop the flow. Pained, I would tell him that I could walk him into the classroom, but he would just shake his head and whisper “You’re not allowed”, and march down the corridor with the enthusiasm of a death row inmate. He was that good.

This push/pull on my heartstrings was causing me serious heartache. How was I to enjoy my Princess year if my Princes were not happy to give it to me? My older boys in Grades 3 and 5 didn’t want to be associated with me on the playground, but this was my baby, my parenting Mona Lisa. I couldn’t just leave him there with his fingers embedded in his eyeballs. What was I to do?

A dear friend recommended that we read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. This is a lovely story about Chester Raccoon who doesn’t want to go to school, so his Momma plants a kiss on his hand to take with him to school so that he can feel her love whenever he needs it. We read it that night and the tears stopped immediately. I think we both realized that I was going to be okay and that he didn’t need to make me feel loved by crying. And I have his kiss on my hand for whenever I need it.

I’m baaaack!!
Love Princess Lucie

Summer living is easy, working…not so much

Ahhhh, summer. Just when we’d given up and thought it would never come to Vancouver, it finally did. Waking up to warm, radiant sunshine reflecting off the glorious mountains and the endless sea, reminded every seasonally-affected one of us, why we choose to live in a rainforest the rest of the year.

So the kids are out of school and refuse to go to anything that smells like structure and/or has a teacher, ie. summer camp. And since we spending our first summer in Whistler, we are devoid of playdates and babysitters. So, in the meantime, I’ve become a Denny’s, open 24/7, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches at the ready, squeezing lemons upon lemons for their lemonade stand for which I’ve not yet seen a dime (I swear they are drinking their profits!), wiping counters and sweeping floors to keep the ants at bay. On a daily basis, I’m fending off the inevitable, “Mom, I’m bored,” or “MOM! He hit me!” or “MOOOOOMMMMMMM! He farted on my pillow and won’t say sorry!!!” with encouraging words to work it out for themselves and large glasses of pinot grigio.

There is no time to workout, no time to shop, no time for a much needed pedicure, no time to write, no time for me. As lovely as summer is, I’m counting the days till I get my beautiful life back.

Twenty-four.

See you in September!
Love Lucie

Camping is not for Princesses – Part 2

When I told my fellow princess pals that I was going camping many gasped in horror, clutched my arm and said, “you’re so brave!” I tried to be casual about it, but inside I agreed, I really was brave. But was I crazy? What had I gotten myself into? What if my 5 year old gets eaten by a bear? What if the boys need a doctor? Do they have antibiotics out there? But my husband assured me that boys needed this ultimate Canadian experience, and so on I went, bravely amassing the mountain of stuff people need to survive a few nights out of doors.

I cannot believe how much gear you need for to camp! I realize now that getting away from it all actually means taking it all with you. I’m talking sleeping bags (X5), tents, tarps, chairs(X5), bungee cords, propane stove, propane, matches, rope, flashlights(X5), an axe, stuff for s’mores and beer (X alot) – these are the necessities, without which, it’s not called camping. Add to that some stuff to make the experience actually bearable like pillows (X5), outfits made entirely of fleece, toothbrush & paste, blow-up mattresses, iPod & speakers, personal insulated Bodums, Baileys, box of pinot grigio, changes of underwear, a soccer ball and suddenly my SUV hatch won’t close and I need to pop the Thule box on top!

Over the three nights of rain, rain and more rain, I learned to make a good campfire and how to put it out without water. I learned to enjoy the freedom of not putting on makeup everyday – hell, I didn’t even wash my face some days. I learned that my boys are most cooperative with each other when they are building a sandcastle. And I learned that nooky in a tent is more than I can handle.

Maybe next time?

Love Lucie

Camping is not for Princesses – Part 1

My eyes are crumby and my fleece jacket is pockmarked with burn holes. My hair smells like cedar plank salmon. The air is cold but heavy with morning breath. The orange walls that cocoon me are slick with condensation. Droplets flick onto me as my husband struggles to get comfortable on the leaky air mattress. I am wearing every piece of mismatched fleece clothing I own. I blink a few more times, wondering how I happened to fall asleep inside a pumpkin when it hits me, this Princess is camping!

Being the only female in a house of boys, there are some things I simply don’t do, like taking out the garbage, killing insects, and until yesterday, camping. I simply adore my king size bed, my snore-reducing pillow and my down duvet. But somehow, I got tricked into taking my boys camping this year. They are 5, 7 and 10 years old, and I guess I simply ran out of excuses to deny them, as my husband puts it, the ultimate Canadian experience.

Nature calls suddenly as it does in 40+ year old women and I struggle to sit up and move onto all fours toward the “front door” of the tent, causing my husband to pitch into the center of the mattress in the process. He moans in protest. I unzip the inner tent and then the outer tent, and voila, I pop out head first into the wilderness, fervently hoping that I don’t see a bear at the picnic table. The coast is clear and my bladder nearly bursting, so I do my best Charlie Chaplin impersonation to the bathroom one campsite away.

Making my way back to the campsite, I encounter a few fellow bedraggled campers. Eager to hide the most heinous morning breath (didn’t brush after those s’mores last night, did I?) and spectacular bed hair imaginable, I mumble good morning and scurry back. It’s just after 6AM, an ungodly hour for pleasantries, but those damn Blue Jays are awake and so are we. But thank goodness for my Mom and Dad, they’ve got the fire roaring already!

It has rained all night as the small lake by the foot of our tent will attest and the flat style tarp roof my husband Macgyver’d out of bungees and plastic sheeting served only to collect a good amount of rain before the tree bough gave way, loudly dumping it’s load every 5 minutes or so. But my kids loved it, splashing about as if their Dad had given them their very own waterpark. Thanks again to my Mom and Dad as soon everyone is happily munching on croque monsieurs and I’ve splashed some Baileys into my coffee, and so the world is good again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We are at Green Point campground in the Pacific Rim National Reserve, just outside of Tofino, British Columbia. Perched on very edge of the Pacific Ocean, it is a paradise to many – surfers, artists, foodies, whale-watchers and yes, virgin campers.

Where else can you wake up to this?

I think this must be what heaven must look like.

Love Lucie

Getting over the Canucks

OK I admit it. I’ve been hiding in a bit of a funk since the Canucks lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I was just so sure they were going to win. I even had champagne in the fridge and the beginnings of a celebratory post ruminating in my head.

But then they lost. And then there was that embarrassing, horrifying, ugly riot. And I just couldn’t write about that. I had been at Game 7 with my husband where the evening was an utter love fest, for fans and players alike. And although there were no Gary Bettman fans there, the crowd cheered vehemently for the Canucks and gave Tim Thomas and the Bruins a standing ovation. We had no idea that cars were burning outside until we were safely home.

It kind of ruined hockey for me, and for awhile, writing. I had all these great posts in mind, about how being a hockey mom is more Canadian than maple syrup, but I just didn’t care anymore.

But I’m back. I’ve just spent the last three days camping in the rain, hanging around the fire with my boisterous boys, feeding them s’mores and Jiffy pop and I feel great.

Thanks for waiting.
Love Lucie

If you’re superstitious and you know it…

Very superstitious. Writing’s on the wall.

You don’t have to be a fan of Stevie Wonder to know that the professional sport is where the weirdest superstitions live, and fans are not exempt from this rule. I’m pretty sure accountants don’t wear the same underwear through tax season. But you only have to look at the decline in razor blade sales in the Vancouver and Boston this June to know that something is up. Even my husband has grown cheek fur for this Stanley Cup playoff run, and I’m not lying when I say if I could grow a beard, I would too.

If these behavioural eccentricities are considered normal in professional sport, then hockey’s netminders are the “normalest” of the bunch. Ever since Patrick Roy was just a rookie with the Montreal Canadiens, he seemed to get a lot of favourable bounces and the puck often hit the goalposts. According to Roy, that’s because he talks to his posts during the game. “They are my friends,” he said. Unusual, n’est-ce pas?

Hockey Fans are no less eccentric when it comes to supporting their teams. I have heard of pre-game rituals involving rubbing horseshoes or rabbit’s feet, lucky meals, lucky beers, sitting in the same spot, not washing your jersey, and no sex on game day (the last two may be related). My sister believes that she best helps the Canucks when she points all 10 fingers at the TV screen at a 90 degree angle, sending her energy to her beloved Canucks. She looks crazy, especially when in a bar, though I guess no more crazy that Roy talking to his goal posts.

Probably the most common way to “represent” and support your team is to festoon your body in team colours. Luckily for us fans, the Vancouver Canucks are no longer look to Halloween for their style inspiration. These days you will find fans bleeding blue, green & white – tattoos, bellies, hair and of course, their beloved jerseys. Thank goodness hockey owners have finally caught on that women love hockey too and that jerseys aren’t all that flattering on us. The wave of great new t-shirts designed to enhance the ‘twins’ (and I’m not talking about the Sedins) have made the local Dog’s Ear and Bang On the hottest businesses around town these days.

In this playoff run, I have bought 3 Canucks t-shirts. The first one I bought to celebrate the Vancouver Canucks sweeping (their nemesis) the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1 of this Stanley Cup Playoffs. Except we lost Game 4. And Game 5. And Game 6. Then I threw out the t-shirt and we won Game 7!

For the series against San Jose, Canuck fever had really taken hold of Vancity and I couldn’t show my face around town without some cheer gear on, so I bought another Canucks t-shirt. I had it on for Game 5 and we were down the entire game. With just 20 seconds left, Coach V. called a time out and I whipped off my unlucky shirt. As I watched the remainder of the game in my bra (luckily we were watching at home), Kesler scored 7 seconds later and Boom-Boom Bieksa put the Sharks away for good in 2nd OT.

My husband got tickets to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final and I had to get a new lucky t-shirt to represent and support my team. I searched for 2 hours before I found this beauty. I truly believe my shirt helped to ruin the Bruins.

Game 3 was just a small setback. I’ve washed the bad luck off my t-shirt and we’re good to go for Game 4! But if we don’t win tonight, I’ll be back in the market for another by Friday!

Yours in superstition,
Love Lucie

A Canucks fan is born

I fell into hockey like most Barbie loving girls of my generation, I had a mad crush on a boy who ate, drank and slept hockey. I found that the only way to register on his radar at all was to casually drop a comment about last night’s hockey game. This was 1981, when I was in Grade 8 and those Vancouver Canucks skated in those electric-orange Halloween-inspired costumes. I used to study those games, shushing my little sisters so that I would be able to recite some of Jim Robson’s insightful colour commentary or mimic Tiger Williams’ post goal antics the next day in Industrial Ed. I learned to distinguish the referee from the linesmen, the Blue Line from the Face-off Circle, and Richard Brodeur from Harold Snepts. While seeming to appreciate the conversation, the boy never did ask me out, but I transferred my crush onto Marc Crawford and along the way became a diehard Vancouver Canucks fan. The twelve year old franchise’s first-ever playoff run beyond the first round took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1982. Our beloved Canuckleheads surprised and pleased everyone, but much like new parents appreciating a toddler’s first steps, I don’t think anyone actually believed the Canucks were going to go all the way. And they didn’t.

Fast forward through high school and more heartbreaks on and off the ice. My sisters and I would watch the games, together if we were all home, alternating fervent prayer with pointing all 10 of our fingers at the screen to send the Canucks our energy when their plays seemed depleted. We developed mad crushes on a variety of hockey greats and argued over who was going to marry Trevor Linden.

In May 1994, I took a break from packing, having just finished grad school in London, Ontario to head to the Ceeps and watch a first round Game 7 between my Vancouver Canucks and their arch-rivals the Calgary Flames. I sat next to a classmate who was a diehard Calgary Flames fan. Just as my hockey knowledge had impressed the boys before him, I have to say it finally worked – we’ve been together ever since Calgary lost to Vancouver’s Bure/McLean that night. That magical playoff run also ended with an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. While the 1994 Canucks were a much more worthy team than the 1982 crew, the stronger New York Rangers were able to close out their 54 year Stanley Cup drought at our expense. Unfortunately, the fans expected more of our boys in blue this time and took out their Game 7 frustrations on the merchants of Robson Street. Carnage and mayhem ensued and beautiful Vancouver looked like sore losers.

You don’t need to know high level math to know that 2006 was supposed to be our year (1982/1994/2006) with 12 years between Cup Finals appearances. But we didn’t even make the playoffs that year. It was tough going for awhile for us diehard fans.

Add to that some Olympic sized karma – when Montreal hosted the Olympics in 1976, their Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1977. Similarly, when Calgary hosted the Olympics in 1988, the Flames won the Cup in 1989. As we all know, Vancouver hosted a fabulous Olympics just last year in 2010, do we really have to wonder who’ll be drinking out of the Stanley Cup this June?

As a mother to 3 young boys now, my love for the Canucks has necessarily mellowed as I can no longer be shouting profanities at the ref through the TV or passing along my zany superstitions but this year, this team cannot be beaten. The 40 year-old franchise and it’s loyal fans want, deserve and need the Cup. We’re the best team Vancouver has ever had the privilege of cheering for – we’ve got the President’s Trophy, the Art Ross winners Daniel & Henrik, the Jennings trophy, the Green Men, and Olympic Gold meal winner Luongo all on our team. Not to add to the pressure already on your big broad shoulders (Bieksa), but if not now, then when?

I’ll be one of the lucky 18,900 fans there cheering you on tonight. I’ll be in my lucky shirt, drinking my lucky drink, screaming at the top of my lungs, “We are all Canucks! Go Canucks Go!”

Love Lucie

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Growing up in Aldergrove, a small farming community on the outskirts of Greater Vancouver, was idyllic in many ways. I could ride horseback to school and had hectares of lawn to play tag on. But it was no place for a budding fashionista. Just as young Rebecca Bloomwood’s (from Confessions of a Shopaholic – not a must read by any stretch but a orgasmic must see for any fashionista who loves the thrill of the Visa swipe) shopping addiction was born when her cash savvy mother made her buy sensibly long-wearing school shoes instead of her longed-for bejewelled flats, my addiction was born in the dearth of clothing departments between the local SAAN and Otter Co-op. As soon as I was able to cajole someone into giving me an hour long ride downtown, I converted to the church of Robson Street and it’s cool stores became my drugs, my obsession, my nirvana.

Robsonstrasse, as it was marketed at the time, had a uniqueness all its own – chic boutiques with eclectic collections you couldn’t find anywhere else in town. It was Vancouver’s own version of Melrose Avenue, Canal Street, and the Champs d’Elysses. Long before Vancouver shoppers had Prada, Burberry and Michael Kors, we had Pandas, Chackas, and Parfait to remember a few. I remember buying a great nautical striped boatneck sweater from Panda in the late 80’s that is as close as I’ll ever get to Audrey Hepburn. I later discovered local designer Jacqueline Conoir at Parfait in the early 90’s and love the label to this day.

While I don’t think it was the intent of NAFTA, but over the last 20 years the US moved in and taken over Robson Street. Goodbye Alfred Sung, hello Banana Republic. Goodbye Parfait, hello BCBG Max Azria. Goodbye Vancouver individuality, hello Bebe and Guess and Zara. If you look down Robson Street today, you could just as well be in Anytown, USA. And as much as I love making a run for the border to buy the best that Target has to offer, I’m saddened that with Target’s purchase of Zellers in Canada, the homogenization of the North American shopping landscape is pretty well complete. No longer will I have to try and charm my way out of paying duty at the border. No longer will anyone shriek, “Where did you get those adorable flats?” because soon, Target will be EVERYWHERE.

Maybe I should take up a new addiction. Suggestions anyone?

Love Lucie