Mom Story: Chantale from Montreal
Bonjour, hello! My name is Chantale and I’m of Korean descent born and raised in Montreal, Canada. I’m a graphic & product designer, currently working full-time as well as running my own freelance graphic design biz at home. I’m also mom to a spunky, imaginative & very sweet girl Keira-Mae and I blog about her adventures over at Adventures of Skinny Mini Kiki. I’m currently working on an exciting project that I’m helming as creative director for a new and soon-to-be live brand called Missie Sunshine Couture – a lifestyle beach wear brand for girls (toddler to teen) started by a long time friend who has made her dream a soon-to-be reality. Look for it going live this spring! In the meantime, you can check out their blog.
What kind of house do you live in – are you and your family happy here or is there anything you find lacking or would like to change?
My husband, daughter and I live in a suburb of Montreal in a very nice neighborhood. It’s actually a mix of golden agers and young families. In fact, many of our neighbors with young families have their grandparents living very close by. We do too!
In the past 2 years, there has been a huge construction boom of trendy new restaurants, beautiful public spaces and shopping, all within walking distance of our home. I really love that. This summer, I’d like to get new bicycles for the kiddo and I so we can officially ditch the car!
Do you like to spend time decorating your home and your child’s room?
I do love re-arranging our furniture but when it comes to a choice between spending time decorating or heading out for family activities or fun time downtown, I usually choose the latter. Funny enough, my daughter has recently caught the re-arrange furniture bug too and has been moving around the furniture and things around the house. I woke up one day to find everything changed up in her playroom!
My daughter’s playroom is in the same room as my ‘office nook’. I don’t even keep my computer off limits for her. I don’t want her to grow up thinking things are too precious or be afraid to touch anything in the house. I do teach her to respect things and show her how to work the computer. She’s just not interested in it right now and prefers using paper & crayons and that crazy little thing called, ‘imagination’. Of course, I’d love to keep the other areas of the house toy free but things have crept into the other rooms…apparently of their own free will. Lol.
Where do you look for interior inspiration, favorite magazines, websites, or blogs?
Lately, I’ve looked towards Lonny mag (the original and best) & Pinterest. It’s so easy and addictive! I love every print shelter magazines but my fave is Milk magazine. There so many blogs I adore too but for kid’s interiors/fashion/products, I always go to Pirouette, Bloesem (!), Kenziepoo, Schlitzohren (now also Rawr), Paul & Paula (and much more) and for art…KLT Sketchbook. I also love Old Brand New blog because I love the photography and vintage finds there.
Some tidying tips? Does your child tidy up after herself?
Sadly no! My daughter is a whirlwind walking disaster. Her imagination takes over and from one day to the next, I don’t know what I’ll find in her playroom and bedroom. One week, everything will be set up as a bazaar and she will cry out, ‘Pas cher! Pas cher! Qui veut acheter quelque chose?’ (Cheap! Cheap! Who wants to buy something?), the next day she will have everything stuffed in one corner and a big open area with foam squares in it as her canoe, on a big river adventure. The day after, it’s re-enacting Sharkboy & Lavagirl movie. Once in a while, when she sees me cleaning house, she will surprise me by cleaning up her space. Believe me, it really is a shock!
What places in your neighborhood do you like to shop at?
I love going to a little home interiors shop nearby. It’s filled with decorative items, furniture and lighting that is beautiful and affordable. I have found myself shopping there for gifts and my home. The decorative owls in my home come from there.
Although I wanted to live directly on the island of Montreal, I must admit that living where we are, in the suburbs has so many advantages. Namely, the clean open spaces, the myriad activities and clean parks for the kids and great schools. What I find most lacking though, is cultural diversity.
What is your idea of a perfect day with your child?
A perfect day with my daughter is any time spent together. Our last mother/daughter time was last week where my 7yo showed me how to ski the small bumps on the ski hill. That was the best!
What do you do on the weekends?
Our weekends are always packed full of activities. We try to catch up on paperwork, little things to do around the house and errands all timed around the swimming, skiing and ballet lessons of our daughter. In the summer, we head downtown for drinks and supper at the many incredible restaurants Montreal has to offer. There are so many choices, we almost always can’t decide!
Are you a crafter or DIY person?
I’m much more of a DIY person. I’ve sewn almost all the curtains in the house, created make-shift simple book shelves and recently, I’ve acquired a vintage mannequin to start sewing my own clothing in earnest. I’ve already created some simple dresses for my daughter, I’d love to start sewing some skirts for myself.
Does your child have friends over often? If yes, what activities do they do?
We have a play date almost every weekend at our house. They’re usually impromptu. In the winter, I love to get them outside in the snow, whether it’s in our backyard creating snow forts or heading to the nearby park to go sledding. In the summer, anywhere outside! If we’re stuck inside, they are never without an over-active imagination. I let them at it and supply the drinks and snacks.
What kind of sports do your children like to do and are you involved?
My daughter loves her swimming and skiing lessons and last year, wanted to try ballet. She recently ‘graduated’ to Junior 3 in swimming! We call her the ‘torpedo’ because she’s very elegant and silent in the water but pretty fast. She’s also extremely competitive.
Are there musical instruments in your house?
Well there is a violin my daughter plays.. she hasn’t passed the squeaky ‘eek eek squeek’ part but she’s not bad at pizzicato. Lol.
What are some nice activities you can do with children in your area, and what would you recommend when people are visiting?
When in Montreal, I would definitely check out the website IspyMontreal.com. It is the best in finding all the current activities in and around the Montreal area for families and kids to do. In spring, head to the Botanical Gardens for the Butterflies Go Free where the gorgeous butterflies will captivate both you and your children. In autumn, also head to the Botanical Gardens to view the Chinese Lanterns or head to the different mountains up north or down south for a great day of hiking and picnic-ing. In the winter, to Parc Jean Drapeau for activities like tubing, sledding and skating! There is year round indoor skating at 1000 de la Gauchetiere as well. If your child is a little older and can handle a lot of walking, head to Montreal’s underground city where everything is connected for miles underground!
What movies do your children like to watch, is there one from your childhood you would love to show them?
Recently, I introduced my daughter to Sharkboy & Lavagirl and she has watched it so many times already! She also loves Spy Kids and of course, every single Barbie dvd known to kidkind. I would love to have a family movie night and introduce her to the Back to the Future trilogy! Who doesn’t love Marty McFly?? Self-lacing shoes? She’s also recently watched The Goonies at a friend’s house but they had to fast-forward some parts like the dead dude in the freezer part and she wasn’t exactly too keen on ‘Sloth’. To be revisited at a much later age I think!
Are you a ‘cook’ or ‘food lover’ or both?
I’m a food lover! But I hate cooking. I can do a mean bbq though and I love creating bento meals though lately, I’ve been lacking in that department. I also love trying new restaurants and checking out sites like Foodspotting. I’m lucky to have connected with some amazing and talented friends on twitter who create the most amazing & creative bentos & delicious recipes. But again, the kitchen is not the place I like to spend my time in. I am an oxymoron.
Do you cook together with your child? Does Dad cook?
My daughter loves to cook but she never stays focused on the job at hand. She will stir the pot and then leave when it gets too ‘boring’. Luckily my husband is a pretty good cook. Otherwise, we’d all starve.
Where would you like to go on vacation – with or without your children?
I am a firm believer in taking our kiddo with us on vacation. Whatever other parents do or believe in, I have no opinions to give out. I never had the opportunity when I was growing up to travel and so, I want my daughter to share my experiences with me and also, so she sees with her own eyes different cultures, sights and sounds other than what is immediately around her. I think traveling is one of the best ways to educate your child. It need not be so far away or an expensive trip. It can be a car trip to the next city!
Do you keep some sort of travel journal with your child?
Sadly no but my photography is a sort of photo journey and I also blog about it as well.What kind of souvenirs do they bring back home? Memories! Great wonderful friendships and memories to remember forever. With the occasional tschotkes too.
How do you prepare for a trip, any useful tips?
I usually start several lists: one for things to do a few weeks in advance (getting all hotels and flights checked etc) to 1 week in advance. I also try to keep it down to 1 bag per person and try to keep the clothing to a minimum by having clothing that could double for an afternoon activity to going out for supper at night. I’ve also started to invest in clothing that dry fast so that if you need to wash it while traveling, it dries in a few hours or overnight out on the balcony (have you ever tried drying clothing out on the balcony in Hawaii? Good luck!). Lolë has great clothing for traveling! I also love using Ziplock bags (It can also save space when you squeeze all the air out of them!) for socks, underwear & toiletries and keep an extra mesh bag for soiled clothing. It keeps everything separate and organized and you have a handy bag to bring to the hotel’s washing facility. Plus, if you’ve gone through security check at airports, I cant’ stand when they go through your luggage and touch all your clothing. With Ziplock bags they handle them without opening them up.
What place does your child love to visit?
Anywhere that has sand, sun & water. A lazy river or two wouldn’t hurt either.
What are your tips for traveling in a plane or on a long road trip with your children?
For traveling on the plane, it’s always a good idea to bring a bottle of water. This helps little kids when they’re not able to pop their ears on their own and it gets really painful when they can’t! So I get my daughter to swallow some water on take-off and landing. This year will mark our 3rd long road trip and what seems to work best is having portion-sized snacks ready, lots of cold water (I like to freeze big water bottles 2 days in advance) and use thermal water bottles for inside the car and of course, a portable dvd is terrific. This year, I’d love to invest in an iPad so that we no longer have to carry an iPod, separate dvd player, all the dvd discs, laptop computer etc. Everything would be in 1 place. We also divide our road trips in 2 days (for a 12-14 hour trip) with stops along the way to stretch out and walk around. And if all else fails, we play I spy with my little eye…
What a lovely Mom Story Chantale, thank you for sharing it with us!