6 Things Every Mom Needs to Hear

Since becoming a mom, I have realized that it is a lot more of a roller coaster than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that it wasn’t going to be perfect sunshine and butterflies all the time, but the lows can be lower than I thought they could go. At times I feel like this is just a me thing, or because of the Postpartum OCD but I really don’t think it is, it’s just more of an unspoken thing because it’s hard as a mom to admit that you’re struggling. There’s so much pressure to be a fun, happy mom and to make everything look easy and the pressure is was makes you feel even worse when you feel like you’re failing to hit the targets. 

On the low days, there’s a list of things that goes through my head of what I would tell a friend who was feeling the same way, things that I feel like I need to reaffirm in myself or be reassured of by someone else. They’re thoughts and feelings that I have that I feel guilty of having, but really shouldn’t because they don’t mean I’m a bad mom or that I don’t love my baby. So for anyone who needs it, here’s a few things every mom needs to hear: 

  1. It’s okay that you need a break. It’s okay that you feel like you want to pack a weekend bag and go sit in a hotel room by yourself for two days and turn your phone off, binge watch movies or play video games all weekend so you can reset. Even if you don’t get to actually do this, it’s okay that it’s what you dream of doing. That doesn’t make you a bad mom. 
  2. It’s okay to have a cry on a bad day even if it’s in front of your baby. It’s not going to mess them up, it doesn’t mean you’re a helpless mother. As long as you’re both in a safe space and you can take a minute to have a cry while still smiling and loving your baby, it’s totally okay. That doesn’t make you a bad mom. 
  3. It’s okay that you still have passions and hobbies that you want to do, and that you get annoyed if your baby doesn’t nap or doesn’t nap long enough for you to have time to do these things. We all need time to unwind, as mothers sometimes we don’t get that time when we need it most, and it’s okay to be a little annoyed about it. Just set it aside, take a deep breath and save it for later. 
  4. It’s okay that you double guess everything you’re doing with your baby and think maybe they’re not having as much fun with you, or that they’ll never eat anything you make them because they’re a pickier eater than you are. They’ll eat if they’re hungry, just keep offering them things. It’s okay if all they want for dinner is snacks and a fruit pack. And you’re their mother which automatically defaults you as their favourite person in the whole world.
  5. It’s okay that the thought of having another baby makes you want to hide and cry because you feel like as much as you love your first baby you’re just not cut out to be a mom and that some days you really wish you didn’t have the responsibility of even one, let alone two, babies because it can drain you so much sometimes. And that the thought of being pregnant again feels more like a chore than a beautiful miracle. This doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby (or that you won’t love additional babies should you choose to have them) and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. 
  6. It’s okay that you worry all the time about your baby, not just with their health but also about how they’ll be when they’re older. It’s okay that you see the little spark of defiance and stubbornness in a one year old and all you can see is a rebellious, angsty teenager who fights with you on everything. Or that you see the things other babies their age are doing and worry because they’re not doing that yet. Every baby is different. 

These are six of the things I try to convince myself are true on a bad day. If you’re also having a bad day and reading this, take it to heart, you’re not alone in your struggle through motherhood. 

Blog Challenge: A Book I Loved

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We’re back! I had a lovely little break which I will talk about more in Thursday’s post, but for now here’s another Blog Challenge Post!

I skipped a few on the Blog Challenge and jumped right to this one. I’ve been a bit of a serial reader lately and have been through a lot of books, but most recently I read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. 

It’s a story of a family in the 70s who pack up and move to Alaska with no money and no outdoors skills. The father it a Vietnam War Veteran and Prisoner of War who has PTSD and because it’s in the 60s there’s not any awareness of the mental affects those things can have on a person. He takes his anger out on his wife and when they move to Alaska they realize that there is more danger in their cabin during the winter months than there is outside. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, my husband bought it for me for our anniversary because he thought the fact that they were moving to the last frontier sounded pretty cool and he had seen it was on a lot of the top book lists. It’s probably one of the longest books I’ve read in a long time so between working and taking care of Baby T it took me some time to finish it. 

Even though it was long, it kept me intrigued the whole time. It made my jaw drop, it made me laugh and it made me cry my eyes out multiple times which is something a book hasn’t made me do in a long time (despite reading a lot of good books lately).  

My husband kept looking at me saying, “I’m sorry I bought you such a sad book”, but I told him that means it’s a good book when it makes you feel something. I also added that as long as it has a happy ending everything will be okay. 

I won’t spoil it for you whether it does have a happy ending or not, but I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a roller coaster read that gives you all the feels. 

Travel Series: Myrtle Beach

My parents started going to Myrtle Beach when I was in high school. I went with them for two or three years and then after I got married I didn’t go with them for about five years. Once we could afford to take a couple of trips a year we decided to go with them every other year and in the time that I missed it felt like it hadn’t changed at all. It is still one of my favourite places to go back to over and over again. 

With that said, I’m a creature of habit, so for me going to the same places, eating at the same restaurants and sitting at the same spot on the beach year after year is a dream come true (I get it from my Dad). 

We always stay at the Anderson Ocean Club with my parents when we go, it’s right on the ocean and close to the best shopping and restaurants. There’s not a lot of nightlife but the beach is where we spend most of our days and the mixture of sun and fresh air usually makes me ready for bed at 9:00 pm anyway. 

It’s probably the most relaxing and unwinding vacation you can take. The people we go with, including my parents, are very laid back and easy going. Everyone makes their way to the beach on their own time schedule (the husbands golf most mornings and make their way down in the afternoons) and if everyone feels like eating at the same place they go together, if they don’t, they go separately and no one is worried. When I think of Myrtle Beach I think of sitting on a beach chair, music playing, staring out at the ocean and thinking of absolutely nothing at all. 

A big part of our trip is the restaurants, and to me, it’s some of the best food I’ve ever had. My husband and I have found a couple of low-key places that we love, like the burgers at River City Cafe and the giant margaritas and burritos at Banditos Cantina, both within walking distance of our hotel. We always visit Carrabbas, Gordon Biersch and Greg Norman’s (I know a couple of those are chain restaurants but they’re not ones that we have in Canada so to us they’re a Myrtle Beach specialty). One year, one of the couples that go every year took us to Margaritas Mexican Restaurant which looks like an 80’s diner from the outside but we were assured it was home to some really good authentic Mexican food. It was amazing Mexican food and amazing gold tequila and true to its name amazing margaritas. 

It might not seem like the most special or exciting place in the world, but everything seems to slow down when we’re there and isn’t a break like that something we all need sometimes? To me it’s good beaches, good food and drinks, amazing people and one of my favourite places. 

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How to Get Through a Sleep Regression

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I want to say wine, but sometimes that’s not always the answer. 

Sleep regressions sound like a really bad thing… and they can be. A baby that sleeps pretty much perfectly for months can suddenly decide they want to keep you up all hours of the night. Here’s a few ways to get through them and keep your sanity and also a couple of things to keep in mind while they’re happening. 

When Do They Happen? 

I had read that sleep regressions can happen at 6 months, 8 months, 12 months, the list kind of goes on. If you’re wondering if your baby might be in a sleep regression they’re probably not because when it’s actually happening you know 100% you’re in the middle one. Baby T had a sleep regression when she was 8 months old, she was going through a lot of developmental leaps at that time as well as teething and a growth spurt. She also had a cold and managed to fall and twist her ankle while playing; it was basically the perfect storm. She went from going to bed on her own and sleeping 12 hours a night, to refusing to go to sleep and waking up three or four times a night. We would have to put blankets next to her crib and sleep on the floor next to her just to get her to sleep.

Sleep Training 

Obviously she was going through a lot at the time so we did give in and coddle her to get her through it, but after three weeks of barely any sleep we needed to change some things. We went back to sticking to our bedtime routines, made sure she was nice and comfortable and made sure she was sleepy. We decided to try a gentle form of sleep training where we did pop ins to let her know she wasn’t alone and to coach her through it. The first night was awful, she cried and cried and it broke my heart but in the end she went to sleep on her own and slept through the night for the first time in weeks. It only took one more night of pop ins and she was back to being an amazing sleeper. 

You know your baby best and if sleep training isn’t for you or your baby that’s 100% your choice. With Baby T it worked great and we’re very happy we did it. It takes a lot of patience and even though the crying is so hard to hear we had to make sure we were the calm soothing ones in the situation. I always took a deep calming breath before going in for a pop in because if she could tell that I was freaking out it would make her worse. 

When it Happens Again

Now she’s reached 15 months and has more teething and has been having a rougher time sleeping again. We did coddle her again because we understand if she’s in pain from teething it would be hard to her to sleep through the night on her own, but we reached a certain point again where she cried out of habit instead of actually needing us so we started the process again and even though it really really sucks its better for our family in the end. Everyone is way happier when everyone is sleeping soundly. 

If you’re in the middle of a sleep regression or sleeping trouble hang in there, do what’s best for you and your baby and it will eventually get better (hopefully before they’re teenagers). 

The Mom Bod

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The Mom Bod is something I think all moms know and stress about. It doesn’t matter how fit you are before your pregnancy it’s still a struggle to get used to the changes in your body after giving birth, no matter what there are differences. 

I know some moms bounce back pretty quickly from breastfeeding, and I fully anticipated this happening to me as well but it didn’t. I know some people will probably hate me for saying this but I’m not someone who struggled with losing weight before, I inherited my dads Dutch metabolism. Since having Baby T it’s something I struggle with physically and mentally, accepting that I do need to watch what I eat and try and exercise even though being a mom is already demanding on its own. 

It feels like everyone pays attention to how you look after your a mom and how you’ve bounced back from your baby body and sometimes it doesn’t matter how much people tell you that you look great, unless you believe it yourself you never feel that way. Women do have so much pressure from social media and entertainment to look a certain way even after having babies and it can be difficult to love yourself even though you know what amazing things your body has done to grow and nurture a tiny human. 

I think there should always be a balance between wanting to take care of yourself and be healthy, not doing extreme diets or exercising to the point of burning yourself out and accepting your new body as it is and appreciating the things it’s accomplished. Your baby will never look at your body and think anything negative about it, they see their comfort and their home. 

A mom bod isn’t something you should be ashamed about, but do what feels best to you. If you feel like trying to better yourself and push yourself a little to make yourself feel better then do that! If you have accepted your mom bod for what it is that’s amazing! We don’t have to be pressured to feel either of those ways, just do you, boo. 

How’s It Going?

We are just over three weeks into our lockdown here in Ontario, it was supposed to be ending January 23rd but they gave lockdown a new name (Stay At Home Order) and from that point extended it until at least February 11th. How’s that going, you ask?

At the beginning of lockdown I had plans of how to get through it and stay positive but that’s not always easy to do. You don’t realize you’ve taken for granted so much in your life until it’s all considered illegal activity and after a while it does start to get to you no matter how hard you try. Through lockdown I’ve learned to take every day one at a time, even though almost every day seems exactly the same. If one day is worse than the others I try to wake up the next morning and start fresh, finding something to smile about first thing in the morning like breakfast with Baby T and sharing tea and coffee with my husband before we start our day. 

At work, I can tell that the lockdown is getting to everyone, employees and customers. I work in a very small branch and with new policies and procedures that include screening customers at the front door it’s obvious that there is a new tension in the environment. As someone who stays as far away from conflict as possible, I find some of my days are very uneasy trying to avoid bothering people.

I consider myself lucky to be able to go to work part time at this point because at least it gets me out of the house and interacting with a handful of people, stay at home moms have it the hardest right now I think with no play groups to go to and no stores to go walk your baby around in. Even the two days I’m by myself with Baby T, I struggle to find things in the house to entertain her and with no where to go except for maybe a walk if you feel like bundling up in 5, and under, degree weather.

It feels like it puts more pressure on me to be more creative with activities for her but that’s hard when you’re not really a crafty or creative person. Sometimes I can sense that she’s as bored sitting at home as I am. 

All in all, I know this is a pretty down and depressing blog but also probably one I’ve needed to write for a while. It’s hard to put into verbal words sometimes how I’m feeling but putting them out there in writing is always very therapeutic. If you’re feeling the same way and need to put it down in writing feel free to put it in the comments, no judgements here. Also, have a look at my previous blog of getting through a second lockdown for a refresher of ideas and motivation to be positive, I might do the same myself. I will leave it linked below.

Speaking of writing being therapeutic, since I switched to only posting once a week I haven’t been writing as often as I’d like to. I have lots of content prepared for the next few weeks and I am already writing into posts for the end of February, so I have decided I would like to try posting twice a week… Monday’s and Thursday’s at 5 pm. That’s a bit exciting isn’t it? You get to hear more from me, hopefully less depressing!

Thanks for reading and keep your chin up (telling myself the very same thing in the mirror). 

https://evangelyntavares.ca/2020/12/27/lockdown-number-two/

7 Baby Things I Never Knew I Needed

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Even though there are endless lists of things to buy before a baby arrives at home, you never really know what you’re going to need (or how much) until the time actually comes because every baby and family is different. Here are seven things that I didn’t know I needed. 

Diaper Wipe Warmer – Our friends who had their baby six months before us got one of these and I remember thinking, “that’s a waste of money, babies don’t need that!” Well, six months later when we had our own teeny tiny baby that seems like the most fragile, delicate thing we had ever seen and she deserves warm butt wipes. She hated getting undressed and getting her bum changed it seemed like the last thing she wanted was something cold cleaning her up. While I still don’t think this is an absolutely essential thing for babies, I’m just saying don’t write it off because you will literally do anything to make that little baby’s life as comfortable as possible.

Blackout Curtains – These became an important purchase for two reasons. First, Baby T took all of her naps on me or on someone else for the first six months of her life until we finally trained her to take them in her own crib. When that time finally came one of the biggest tips was to make sure the room was dark which is obviously very hard to do on a sunny afternoon unless you have blackout curtains. Second, Baby T was born in November and where we live for the winter months it gets pitch black by 5:30, so whenever she was ready for bed it was nice and dark and there was no need for curtains. Once it got into spring and summer the sun would stay out until 7:30 or 8pm and her bedtime had moved up to that time. Having a good set of blackout curtains made it seem like it was nighttime in her room even when we were sat outside enjoying the sunset. 

A Laundry Bin – Not just any laundry bin, a big and sturdy laundry bin specifically for the baby’s room. There is a lot of laundry, and I do Baby T’s laundry twice as much as I do our own and keep it all separate so I can use the baby detergent on hers. It saves time on sorting everything out of one laundry bin. 

Dimmable Lamp – We have a little IKEA dimmable lamp on a table next to Baby T’s crib. The ceiling light in her room is a very bright white light and not very relaxing right before bed, so having this lamp which is a much more warm tone is perfect for helping her make the transition to bedtime. Before she’s even in the room to get ready for bed I turn off the ceiling light and turn on the lamp so that as soon as she’s in there she knows what time it is. The dimming is perfect as well for the odd time we have had to go in and check on her through the night if she’s sick and needs medicine, we only need to put on a little bit of light to see and we’re not fully waking her up. 

Lots of PJs – One thing I have always felt like I did not have enough of is pyjamas. For every size I have tried to have about five or six sets of pyjamas. When she was newborn we needed to make sure we always had extra incase she spat up on the ones she was wearing (which could sometimes happen multiple times in one night), and when she got bigger it helped to cut down on the amount of laundry I had to do. For a while, we only had three pairs in one size and I had to do laundry everyday to make sure I always had an extra set in case of a mess emergency. 

A Carrier/Wrap – There were some days that Baby T would not let me put her down and I thought I was going to go crazy. I wouldn’t be able to eat or drink because she was constantly falling asleep on me. My midwife recommended going to my local Babywearing Group (they were on Facebook), so one day my mother in law and I packed up the baby and took her. They had every different kind of baby wearing wrap and contraption ever made and they showed you exactly how to use them, they even had a lending library of wraps that you could take one home and try it out! After borrowing a woven wrap and trying it out I decided to buy my own and it was amazing! Whenever Baby T was fussy and clingy I would wrap her on me and she would fall asleep instantly in it so I could make myself something to eat and move around without disturbing her. I honestly wish I had gotten one sooner!

A Bassinet That Vibrates – My boss sold me a bassinet that she had used only a couple of times for her grandkids. I hadn’t really looked into bassinets but it was like brand new so it seemed like a good choice. Little did we know it also had a vibrate function that would save our sanity! I don’t know if this is a bad habit to get some babies into or whatever but Baby T put herself to sleep at as little as one week old in that bassinet because of the vibrating function! I would feed her, swaddle her up and lay her down and before I was even turning off our bedside table and climbing into bed her eyes were closing and she was out. It had a 40 minute time limit so if she ever woke up in the middle of the night and wasn’t hungry, I would turn it back on and she would go right back to sleep. We starting thinking that when she moved into her crib and didn’t have the vibration that she wouldn’t put herself back to sleep anymore but I think it actually made her so used to it that it wasn’t an issue!

These are just seven things that I found made life as a new mom a little easier on top of everything else that babies need, but like I said, every baby and mom is different so there could be even more little things that I don’t even know about. If you’re a new mom what’s something you didn’t know you needed? 

Hello 2021!

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2020 has certainly had its moments and it’s a year that has brought challenges and changes. It’s had its dark times as well as hopeful times. We’re ending it off in a Lockdown in Ontario of course, but I have some hope that 2021 will be better. 

A Year In Review

Obviously we all know about the bad things that have happened this year. It was also a year that I had my first beach vacation with Baby T in Florida, I learned that I am capable of taking care of my baby on my own even through some difficult mental health issues but at the same time it’s okay to ask for help when it’s needed, and also how to juggle working part-time with spending time with my family. 

The New Year

With a New Year comes new goals. You already saw in my last post my goals for the blog, but I also have some goals for myself for the year. Of course, like everyone else, taking care of myself physically is a priority including working out and eating better. There’s also making the most of the time I get to spend with the people I love, planning fun activities each weekend to do as a family and hopefully getting to go on some mini adventures even if we have to stay close to home. 

All in all, I hope that 2021 brings better and brighter times for everyone and brings us a little closer to some normalcy again. 

What to Expect from My Blog

I wanted to give a little update of my plans for my blog, we’re coming up on almost seven months of blogging which is honestly more than I even thought I would do. I appreciate the likes, comments and subscribers so much! It’s been such a fun passion project for me and I have every intention of keeping it going for as long as I’m able to! 

Blog Schedule

In order to keep the blog going I though it would be good to make more of a schedule for posting, so starting with my next post (next week) I will be posting once a week on Thursdays at 8 pm. I’m a working mom now and I want to make sure that I keep my time organized to make the most of time with my family as well as my hobbies (and keep on top of the house work).

Pinterest

All of my posts will now also be posted on my Pinterest page which you can also follow here > www.pinterest.com/evangelyntavaresca if you would like or by clicking the Pinterest symbol on this page. 

Blog Topics

I will still be covering a variety of topics including Mom-blogs, Parenting Tips, Travel Series and continuing my blog challenge. I’d also like to introduce an Affordable Fixes Series for Home Decor and Fashion where I will share my finds for affordable items in these categories. 

Again, I want to say a big thank you to those of you who have been with me since the beginning and such a good support and welcome to newer ones! I hope my blog continues to give you new ideas to try and most importantly, makes you smile! 

Lockdown Number Two

We live in Ontario, Canada where they have decided to do a second province wide lockdown, in the northern regions it will last 14 days and the rest (where we live) for 28 days. If you’ve been with me since the beginning you know that the first lockdown took a toll on me mentally, and while I’m sure this one will have it’s fair share of rough days, I feel better prepared for it. My husband and I are both also essential workers which means we still have babysitters for Baby T, and still get out of the house on a regular basis. 

So, how do we get through a second lockdown when we know from experience how much it sucks? I already did a post about things you can do with your spouse, here’s some ideas I have to keep my own sanity as well as Baby T’s.

  1. Get outside (weather depending). We just had about 10 cm of snow where we live which doesn’t sound like a lot but it actually is a good amount. Thankfully, being the smart Canadian parents that we are, we invested in a good snow suit and pair of winter boots for Baby T. We got to go outside even if it was for a short amount of time and enjoy the fresh air and the fresh snow.
  2. Try to limit eating out and drinking during the week. I am all about supporting local restaurants during this time but I’m also about supporting my stomach. It always feels the best when we have healthy home cooked meals every night, and maybe one night of ordering in per week. For alcohol, I know it’s easy when you have to be home every night to crack open another beer or another bottle of wine and relax even if it’s only a couple of drinks, but for me it can make me feel more down about myself and what’s going on around me. A few on the weekends is a nice treat, but maybe try a nice herbal tea or good old water during the week.
  3. Exercise. Gyms are closed again of course, just as we were getting into a good routine of going back. Thankfully after the first lockdown we invested in some equipment for our garage like a squat rack, a bench and dumbbells. This time around we’ve had to invest in a propane heater so our hands don’t freeze to the bars. If you don’t have gym equipment there are so many other options; with a little motivation you can have a really good sweat session right at home. There are some really good workout apps and programs that involve no equipment like Kayla Itsines SWEAT and Alive by Whitney Simmons (by the way I am in no way affiliated with these companies or sponsored by them), both of these you have to pay for but if you can afford it sometimes the fact that it’s costing you money is the best motivation of all because you want to get your moneys-worth. There are also free options all over Youtube.
  4. Find a good book to read. Do you ever have those times where your eyes are straining from watching too much TV or scrolling on your phone too much and you just need a break from it? This is where all those books on your shelf come in handy. It’s easier on your eyes and if it’s a good enough book it’ll take you to a different place for a little while. If you’re into writing do that too! You can google ‘writing prompts’ for some ideas to get you started on Fiction and Non-Fiction writing.
  5. Find activities for your family to do together. I’m very guilty of just letting Baby T go with her toys and not doing anything that’s very engaging or fun for either of us but recently my husband and I have been trying to set up activities for us to do as a family. Thank goodness for Pinterest! There are so many ideas of activities for specific ages and a lot of them don’t even involve you having to buy materials, you just have to get a little creative with what’s already in your house.
  6. Keep the music going. Music often has a way of affecting your mood. First thing in the morning I turn on our Spotify to a happy, upbeat playlist to start the day. I’m not a morning person at all but it helps me to wake up and sets the tone for the rest of the day.
  7. Try not to watch the news. It’s good to keep up with basic information (like the fact that there is a lockdown), but watching the news all day everyday is never a good idea. It’s not a bad thing to forget about what’s going on in the world from time to time.

There you have it! Seven easy things to get through the next 28 days, if the lockdown goes longer than that then I guess we will have to think of some new things. I know readers on here are from all over the world, so wherever you are and whether you’re in a lockdown as well or not, I hope you all stay safe and make good choices! 

Comment below if you have your own ideas of lockdown activities for families! 

Nap Time Diaries: Bed Time Routines

In my last post about my daily routine, I mentioned that Baby T and I have a special bedtime routine that we do every night. Every baby is different, but I am a big believer in babies having a routine with most things, but most importantly bed time. I don’t know if it’s just my OCD but I feel like if it’s not done the same it won’t work. There is the odd night where I put her down to sleep at a friends house, do a short version of our routine, then when we bring her home she’s sleep enough I can just put her in her bed and not have to redo the routine. But the majority of the time our routine is exactly the same. 

So incase you’re curious, here it is: 

First I get her room ready for bedtime before she comes up. This includes closing the blackout curtains (even though in winter time in Ontario it’s pitch black by 5:30 pm already), turning on her humidifier, turning on her bedside lamp that is less intense then her ceiling light, and laying her sleep sack and pyjamas on her change table. We have been using a sleep sack ever since she could break out of her swaddle, I honestly love it and Baby T does too. I think it lets her know that it’s time for sleeping. When we first transitioned from swaddle to sleep sack we used the Nested Bean Sack (linked below) but now that it’s colder weather I bought one from Home Sense that is thicker and rated for cooler house temperatures. 

When Baby T is done playing we bring her up to her room and get her changed into her pjs and into her sleep sack, then she says goodnight to her Daddy and her and I sit in her chair to cuddle and read her bedtime story, which is the same story every night and yes I’m starting to read it from memory. At the end of it, it says to say goodnight to the animals you met in the book so Baby T points along with me as we say goodnight to all of them. I usually give her a bottle of warm milk to drink while we read the story. 

Next, we say a little prayer together followed by a goodnight kiss and I sing her the same lullaby I’ve been singing every night for the last year. It’s short and sweet and I lay her in her crib while I finish the last few words. I tell her ‘goodnight’ and ‘mommy loves you’ and turn on her white noise, turn off the light and sneak out of the room. Usually before the light is off she’s already rolled over to her belly and is snuggling into bed. 

She’s only been put to bed by someone other than me once, and she was only about two months old, so it’s our nice little time together every night. I like to think that she’s just like me and loves to have her own little routines, but it could also just be me who loves it. 

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Blog Challenge: What Is Your Typical Daily Routine?

Baby T usually has us up around 7:30, I go in to get her and give her some snuggles for a minute in her room since she’s slow at waking up like her mommy. After changing her we go feed our dog Marley, it’s Baby T’s favourite new chore. We get coffee and tea going in the kitchen and start breakfast which is usually toast and some fruit. 

While my husband drinks his coffee and watches Baby T with his breakfast I usually shower and get myself ready for the day. From then on it varies depending on whether or not I’m working. If I’m not working, Baby T and I usually spend sometime playing, run an errand, go for a walk or go visit someone followed by lunch at noon and then down for a nap. During her nap I usually try to get things done around the house or if I need to, I’ll just relax and do nothing. Once she’s awake a couple of hours (hopefully) later we spend the rest of the time playing and doing activities until my husband is home from work. 

If I’m working (three days a week), after we’re all ready for the day I take Baby T to her Nana’s, or we wait for her other Nana to arrive to watch her so I can go to work. My typical day at work at a bank is not too demanding and is usually done when we close at 5. From there, I go get Baby T from her Nana’s again and get the biggest cuddle when I arrive which is probably my favourite part of the day. In her own little way she tells me about her day. 

I’m very fortunate because whether I’m working or staying at home, after about 5:30 when my husband is done work he makes dinner. Yes, he cooks every single meal. He’s been doing this for a few years now and it works so well because he’s a better and healthier cook than I am! If it were up to me it would be chicken, potatoes and garlic bread every night. 

After dinner, if I had the day off with Baby T, she gets to play with her Daddy for an hour before bed while I tidy up and try to get things done around the house that I neglected to do while I was relaxing during her nap. If I worked, I usually do the bare minimum and then go down to the play room and join them. 

Between 7 and 7:30, Baby T starts rubbing her eyes and getting a little cranky. She says goodnight to her Daddy and I take her upstairs for our bedtime routine and put her down for the night. That leaves a couple of hours to finish up whatever tasks need to be finished, usually folding laundry or doing more laundry. We will watch a movie or a show together or play some sort of card game until one of us loses and decides they don’t want to play anymore. 

Then it’s off to bed. 

That’s my typical daily routine. If you’re still reading, I’m impressed. 

Blog Challenge: Where Do You See Yourself in Ten Years?

Hopefully back in a world where we can travel, go to concerts and sports games, and not wear a mask. 

Besides those obvious things, I honestly see my life pretty similar to how it is now. Location-wise I would maybe be in a different house by then, maybe one more in the country. I would still be married to my husband, Baby T would be eleven years old and she would have a little eight year old brother. 

I would probably be in the exact same job with the exact same company; why fix what isn’t broken? 

We would still hang out with the same people every weekend and hopefully go to the same cottage in Calabogie ON every year as well as Myrtle Beach with my parents, all inclusive resorts and Destin, Florida. 

We’ve spent the last ten years building the life that we have now and it’s one that I want to keep for the long term. I like to keep things simple and I’m more than happy to spend every day doing the same things with my family and friends for the next ten years. 

Blog Challenge: 10 Random Facts About Me

To start off our Blog Challenge I will be giving 10 Random Facts about me.

1. I have been married for *almost* ten years (I got married young)

2. My idea of a perfect date is snuggled up by a fire watching movies with dinner ordered in and a glass of wine (hint hint Dan)

3. My favourite international place I’ve been is Ireland; specifically the Aran Islands

4. My favourite place I’ve been in Canada is my favourite cottage in Calabogie, ON (it’s a place I didn’t make that name up)

5. I do not like the beach unless it’s attached to an all inclusive

6. I have been working in the banking industry since I left high school (over ten years)

7. I graduated one semester early because I went to summer school and had a credit for taking registered piano lessons and exams for 8 years and because I hated high school

8. My favourite meal is a full British turkey dinner

9. My dream job was to be a teacher

10. I have music playing in my house all day everyday; silence creeps me out

What are some random facts about you?

Blog Challenge

Okay we’re going to try something here. I have found 30 writing prompts for new bloggers on Pinterest so I’m going to give it a try to get the creative juices flowing. In all transparency I think the idea is for me to write and post everyday but I think we all know that’s not going to happen. Feel free to follow along and write your own, you can even put some of your own ideas in the comments section!

Here is a list of all of the writing prompts, I have also linked the original writer below incase you want to check her page out as well.

  1. 10 random facts about you 
  2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  3. What is your typical daily routine? 
  4. Your opinion on a recent news story
  5. A motivational quote and what it means to you
  6. A letter to your teenage self (that one could be a doozy)
  7. Express gratitude to three people
  8. What are your goals for this year? 
  9. A book you love 
  10. 5 Apps you wouldn’t be without 
  11. The meaning behind your blog name 
  12. Advice for people starting out in blogging/journaling 
  13. How to _______
  14. 5 Blogs you read regularly and why 
  15. Your top 5 productivity tips 
  16. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? 
  17. Who is your role model and why? 
  18. Best advice you received from your parents
  19. A wishlist 
  20. A favourite song lyric and what it means to you 
  21. 5 Books you recommend 
  22. If you won the lottery, what would you do? 
  23. What have you learned today? 
  24. An accomplishment you are proud of
  25. Create and share a vision board
  26. Somewhere you’d like to visit and why 
  27. What is one thing you want to learn? 
  28. Useful resources for people in your industry
  29. Describe yourself in three words and explain 
  30. Your current priorities in life

I’ll still share some of my own content in between these, but I thought this would be a fun way to close out 2020 and ring in 2021 blogging style! Once this is posted I’ll be starting a fresh page for Blog Challenge #1! 

Blog Challenge Ideas courtesy of http://www.kerryjohnson.co.uk/challenge-new-bloggers/

Nap Time Diaries: Fun Lockdown Activities with your Spouse

When Ontario went into lockdown in the spring a lot of couples found themselves spending more time with their significant others than they had ever before. For me, Baby T had just started going to bed at 8 which left a couple of hours for my husband and me to spend together every night for about six weeks. We’re very social people so this was a bit of a change for us to be home alone together every night. We found some fun new ways to spend our time together and it honestly brought us a little closer together. So today I’m going to share some of those and don’t worry this Blog Post is not rated R.

1. Games – The options for two-player games are endless whether it’s card games, board games or two-player video games. Our personal favourites are Monopoly Deal (a 15-minute version of monopoly that you can buy on amazon), cribbage and Mario Smash Brothers. The key to making the fun last with these is having mini-tournaments. Each night we did best out of three games with Monopoly deal and we kept track of who won the entire time we were in lockdown. Unfortunately, my husband won but I’ll get him next time.

2. Movie Night – We had a lot of movie nights. We’re not big movie people, but when you have that much time on your hands you become movie people. We watched some old movies that we both like and finally got to watch some newer ones that we had been meaning to watch.

3. Wine/Beer/Whiskey Tasting – This actually didn’t happen for us but I think it will definitely be on our list of things to try. Buy a few different mini bottles of whiskey, cans of beer, or bottles of wine and try them out.

4. Cook a Fancy Meal or Order One In – We can’t make a lot of noise in our kitchen when Baby T is sleeping because her room is right beside the kitchen so we didn’t do a lot of cooking after she went to bed, but we did postpone our dinner some nights and order in a fancy meal just because. Our favourite was a giant three-course pasta from a local Italian place, I’m kind of getting hungry just thinking about it.

5. Evening Stroll – This wasn’t something we could do after Baby T went to bed but we did go for lots of walks together as a family once the weather started warming up, and if you don’t have a baby evening walks are nice too. You could maybe even take a little drink with you in a mug or a flask whatever floats your boat.

6. Start a new TV Series – There are hundreds of shows to choose from and some providers were nice enough to release even more when everyone was on lockdown. We definitely went through quite a few including The Office for the 100th time.

7. Zoom Party with Your Friends – Even though it was nice to spent time as a couple, we missed our friends a lot. Before COVID and even before babies we had the tradition of going to Boston Pizza on Thursday evenings for a few drinks and appetizers so we kept up the tradition, at the same time on a Thursday night we would gather around the zoom table with a couple of beers and some snacks. We even got creative on playing some games together virtually.

The future still seems a little uncertain and in my opinion, another lockdown may be looming for us over the winter, so stock up now on games, movies, tv shows, whiskey, beer, wine and make sure your iPads or laptops are fully charged for zoom. Being stuck in a house with only those in your household doesn’t have to be the most boring thing in the world and doesn’t have to involve doing the same thing every night for weeks on end. In the grand scheme of things, this time will seem like such a short period in your life and one that everyone had to take a step back and simplify things in their lives. So take a step back, sit in your home with your loved ones and beat their asses at Monopoly Deal.

Travel Series: Destin, Florida

This month’s travel series feature is a place that I now hold dear in my heart for two reasons. The first being, it was our first trip that we took with Baby T, she was six months old and we flew there (with connecting flights and yes, we survived). The second is that this was our last trip before COVID-19 became a household name and took over everyone’s lives which sounds dramatic but we all know it’s the truth.

We took this trip at the very end of February 2020 with our family, our close friends, who have a baby boy the same age as Baby T, and their families. How did we fit 14 people in one place? Rent a beach mansion, which is surprisingly affordable when there are that many people going and it’s offseason. I will post a photo of the house below so you can see just how big it was. It was right across from Destin Beach which has gorgeous powder white sand (also pictured below) and while it wasn’t quite the warm beach vacation we thought it was going to be, the chill kept the crowds away and most days if we went for a walk on the beach we were the only ones around. It was mostly the breeze that was making it cooler so we spent most of our time in the pool at the house which was more sheltered from the wind.

When we weren’t by the pool we would go shopping, play games or explore the harbour fronts. It was a very relaxed group to go with which is always a good thing. As for restaurants, we only ate out once or twice but our absolute favourite was Whale’s Tails. It was a five-minute walk down the street and right on the beach but we only discovered it on the last day of our trip so we went for lunch and dinner. The tacos were amazing and even though we completely filled the indoor seating for our dinner, we had the best time (and more tacos).

We all wholeheartedly agreed that we wanted to go back next year to the same place, but by the time we got home COVID-19 was quickly spreading and within a couple of weeks all travel was stopped and we were on our way to lockdown. Even though we headed home to tough times the memories we made there stuck with us and we know that one day, once it’s safe, we will go back and do it all again.

Beach Mansion
White Sand Beaches

Nap Time Diaries: Everything Is A Phase

As a mother, one of the most comforting and equally heartbreaking things you can ever hear is “it’s a phase”. When watching a baby grow you come to learn that most things they do are a phase whether they’re good or bad.

For example, sleep regressions. As new parents, you will always wonder if your baby is in a sleep regression when they’re having trouble sleeping but it’s not until it actually happens that you realize you have no doubt they are going through a sleep regression (we learned this lesson at eight months). It was a terrible, terrible few weeks that ended in us having to re-sleep train Baby T. And like everything else exhausting and not so pleasant she has gone through, it was also a phase.

Now, on the other side of that, there are things that your child will do that melt your heart and give you all the feels. There’s the cutest high pitch noise you’ve ever heard when they’re 7 months old, falling asleep in your arms without you even having to do anything at 3 months old, or being swaddled up like a baby burrito as a newborn. The sad thing about this is that you never know, with each of these things, which time is the last time you will experience it. It’s not until a couple of months later that you think “that hasn’t happened in a while” and then it never happens again. I’ll give you a second to dry your eyes from that realization.

It’s a fact of life that your child will change and grow for the next 20+ years, probably until they’re having their own children; the number of phases they will go through are an infinite amount. The thing you come to realize through all of them, good and bad, is that the more that you sit back and live in the moment of these phases the more you will learn from and love each and every single one. So, instead of wishing for an old phase to come back or a new one to come sooner, take a mental snapshot of where you are right now because one day they’ll be older and won’t need you to help them through the bad phases anymore or to wrap them up like a burrito and cuddle them to sleep.

Nap Time Diaries: Going Back to Work Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Going to Be a Mother Anymore

I don’t know why this is so hard for me to wrap my head around. My work world and being a mother have never mixed and it means all new routines and ways of doing things. Yesterday was my first day back to work after my maternity leave and even though I was excited to get back it surprised me how difficult it was in the moment to leave Baby T behind, then at the end of the day, I had to remind myself that I’m picking her up and the second part of my day was about to start.

For the last few weeks before going back every time I would think about it, it was hard to imagine going back to work and still coming home to Baby T and being a mom, not in the way that I wasn’t looking forward to coming home to her but more that it was hard to imagine these two worlds together. I had to keep reminding myself that when I come home from work she will always be there, I’ll still get to see her and spend time with her every day, I’m still the first person she sees in the morning and the last person she sees at night.

So how did the first day go? Well, I work at a small branch of a credit union as a Junior Advisor, so there was a lot of catching up to do on new programs, getting passwords and my profile all set up again and saying hi to the familiar faces and a couple of new ones. I hadn’t used a computer or my brain that much in a long time. I had all these plans to maybe write a blog during my lunch or read a book but none of that happened, it was a lot to adjust to and take in on the first day so all I did was go and buy a bottle of wine for the evening.

I don’t regret going back, it wasn’t a bad first day, but anyone who’s done this knows the first day back after a little over a year is more overwhelming than anything. The good thing is this past year has made me stronger and more confident and assertive in who I am so I know that just like I had to take it one day at a time as a new mom, I have to take it one day at a time with this new routine. I get to have the best of both worlds working part-time; a few days outside of the house seeing workmates and customers (safely since there is still a pandemic going on) and a few days home with my favourite one year old. We also have a new aspect to the blog as a working mom so there’s a lot to look forward to!

Travel Series: NYC

In October of 2018 I went to New York City with my mom for a long weekend and to this day it’s one of my favourite trips (sorry to my husband but it’s really not his kind of trip). Let me start with what made me want to go to New York so badly. Three words: Frozen.. On.. Broadway. The ultimate dream of any Frozen fan was to see it on Broadway in New York with Caissie Levy and Patti Murin as Elsa and Anna. If you’ve been to good Broadway shows you know they can take something good on screen and make it next level, like with The Lion King.

So I was dying to go to New York to see it but like I said it’s not really a trip my husband was interested in taking especially considering how expensive it can be for two people. That was when my mom stepped in and said she would go with me, thereby splitting the cost in half. My mom and I are big planners so we had everything planned out for each day way ahead of time and this was our first girls weekend together since I got married so we were pretty excited.

We flew in from Toronto and got an Uber to our hotel, the Hilton in Times Square which was the perfect location for everything we planned. The first night we had made reservations at this little Italian Place within walking distance so we walked right through bustling Times Square on our way there. It was already nighttime but the lights from the screens made it seem like it was daytime. It was packed with people and we were trying to quickly get to the restaurant while also taking it all in for the first time.

The restaurant we had chosen was one of the top-rated (affordable) Italian restaurants online called Patsy’s Italian Restaraunt and it has been owned and operated by the Scognamillo Family since 1944 (information thanks to a quick google search). We were so pleasantly surprised to be in this little cozy spot for our first night in New York. I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana and oh my goodness I think I still dream about that meal, I have never had authentic Italian chicken parmigiana and it changed my life. It sounds dramatic but I dare you to try it and have a different reaction. After our dinner, we took our dessert to go and took a more leisurely walk through Times Square on our way back to the hotel.

For our second day, we had booked a tour at the Metropolitan Museum. It was booked for later in the morning so we made plans to walk to the Museum through Central Park and picked a few spots along the way that we wanted to stop and see like the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain and basically all of the other places you’ve seen on Gossip Girl. Once we got to the MET we started our tour which was three hours long but also seriously fascinating. I don’t know about you but when I’m walking around a museum looking at artifacts I would read the plaque about it and think “oh cool” then move on, but with the tour, the guide went into so much detail and pointed out how different things in different sections went together to create a story from history.

That evening was our biggest plan of the weekend; seeing Frozen on Broadway. I was way too excited to eat a big meal so we ate light and went to the theatre to get settled into our seats in plenty of time before the show started. I had seen a couple of YouTube videos from American Breakfast TV shows showing ‘Let It Go’ and ‘For The First Time in Forever’ but seeing it all together live was incredible. The actors were so talented and by the time it was over I could have sat down again and watched it all the way through a second time.

The rest of the weekend we spent exploring as much of the city as we could; we walked down to see the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, the Financial District, SoHo, Brooklyn Bridge and Rockefeller Centre. We walked 15km every day for three days and even though I had bought new memory foam shoes special for this trip, my feet still felt like they were going to fall off. For two mornings in a row we went to the same New York Bagel place (Liberty Bagels) and split a bagel breakfast sandwich that was right up there with the Chicken Parmigiana which is the reason we went the second time. By the last night, we were too tired to go out for dinner so we ordered room service and a bottle of wine to share while we watched a movie on TV (The Greatest Showman if I recall correctly). It was sad when it was over, we always talked about when we were going to go back maybe the following year which obviously didn’t happen since I was 8 months pregnant in October 2019, but that was okay because it was the perfect trip and to this day one of my favourite weekends spent with my mom.

Bethesda Terrace
Times Square
Liberty Bagels
Frozen On Broadway

Nap Time Diaries: Wellness Menu

I know these are maybe the last words you’d like to hear but I’m going to say them; winter is on its way. For a lot of us, this winter is looking a little bit different because of the situation that shall not be named but we all know what I’m talking about. If you live in Canada, like me, there will be no warm, tropical or beach getaways this year which is normally something that helps boost our winter blues. So as a mom, who will be spending a lot of time indoors focusing on keeping a one year old occupied, it’s important to make sure that we’re taking time to recharge our batteries to avoid burning out for our little ones.

I got this idea from an Instagrammer that I follow who is also a mom of a one-year-old (@_brittanylupton, at least I think it was her if not she’ll just get a free plug from me). She suggested making for yourself a Wellness Menu so that when you feel like you need to take some time to rest and recharge yourself you can look at your Menu and pick something for you to do to take that time. It can include things like giving yourself a manicure, taking a candlelit bath, going for a run or watching a movie, but not things that are kind of like doing chores like organizing your linen closet.

So let’s give it a try, I’ll write my own Wellness Menu here and feel free to do the same for yourself!

My Wellness Menu

1. Make a cup of tea and read a book

2. Have a glass of wine in a candlelit bubble bath

3. Lift some weights

4. Take Baby T for a walk

5. Watch a movie with the fireplace on

6. Go to bed early

7. Visit a friend

8. Get a babysitter for the day and RELAX

We’re really not sure how this winter is going to go. It’s already a difficult season for some to get through and it could either be the same as it usually is, or maybe a little worse, but either way, make yourself a little list so when it starts getting you down and you need a little pick me up thinking of something nice to do is already done. Make an appointment to do something for you so you have the energy again to pour yourself into someone else.

Nap Time Diaries: When Your First Labour Leaves You Unsure of a Second

I sat on the examination table in the OBGYN’s office, naked from the waist down with my legs covered by a white sheet. I’d been here before, not this particular office, but being a woman and a mother I’ve been in this situation before. Having to strip down to have a doctor look at you is never something you get used to and even though I had given birth almost a year ago and had, I don’t even know how many people, looking down there I still fiddled my fingers nervously.

Nothing has really been the same since having my baby, physically or emotionally, but regardless I know the time for having baby number two is going to be approaching soon and since I’d had some complications after my labour I wanted to make sure everything is okay for when we decided to start trying again. The OBGYN came in and sat down, first she asked me questions about why I was there and about my pregnancy and labour. I explained to her what had happened after giving birth and that it had made me hesitant about doing it again. When she asked why I held back tears and just said it was all a bit traumatizing.

After taking a look she said everything was great and I had nothing to worry about, ‘on a scale of someone who shouldn’t have another baby to someone who could have ten more babies, I could have ten more babies’ were her exact words, but I think she knew it wasn’t the physical trauma that was the issue. What she said next was something I’ve needed to hear for a long time. She said, “I know it’s scary. You have this bad memory of what it was like, what the recovery was like, but it won’t be like that again. The chances of it happening the first time were so small, the chances of it happening a second time are even smaller. It doesn’t have to be traumatic again, it will go great and you will have a whole new way of remembering it.”

At this point, I had started crying (behind my face mask which actually made me less embarrassed about crying because at least she couldn’t see my whole face). She passed me a box of tissues and continued, “Some people like to drive the bus and be in complete control of everything, some people like to have someone else drive the bus for them. You seem like an accomplished woman who can take care of herself, but when the time comes you need to have people you can trust to take care of you and walk you through it. Pick a medical provider who you trust to hold your hand and reassure you through the whole thing because that’s what you need. You will be okay.”

Even after having my baby a year ago, the thought of having another and going through it all again has terrified me. Having people tell you it will be fine and that I didn’t need to worry didn’t really take that fear away. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside looking in to understand what you’ve been through and the emotional toll its taken on you to reassure you that even though you might be scared it’s not something you’ll ever go through alone and as long as you have people that you trust helping you through it, it will all be okay.

I’m not saying I’m ready right this minute to have a second baby after speaking with her, but just like with the first there may not ever be a perfect time to go for it. It’s nice to have your feelings and fears acknowledged and confirmed as legitimate by someone who is going to give it to you straight, and I don’t think she realizes that her words will stick with me now and through my next pregnancy, just not through another ten after that because that’s just not happening.

Nap Time Diaries: The End of a Long Weekend

It’s been a very busy few weekends for our little family and we finished it all off with a long weekend camping with our new trailer. Since it was a long weekend in October, in Canada, it was pretty chilly outside but this is always my favourite time of year. Plus, having a furnace in the trailer made it nice and easy to warm up.

We spent the weekend with friends and family having campfires and some drinks. Baby T did so good sleeping in the trailer and loved being outside all day. My husband and I both found it difficult coming home and realizing that the week was about to start yet again. For him, that meant another long week of working and for me, it meant another week of just Baby T and me most days. Sometimes that can feel a bit overwhelming especially since most of these days consist of the same routine over and over again, but in reality, Baby T is so happy and fun to watch right now that she always ends up making me smile most of the day anyway.

This was also my last long weekend and weekend away before I go back to work in November. The year has gone so fast and I thought I wouldn’t be ready to go back but I actually am. I’m not cut out to be a stay at home mom, I need some time for myself and I guess work will be that time. Maybe I’ll feel different once I’m back but right now I’m looking forward to it. I’m pretty sure Baby T’s Nanas are also looking forward to it.

So even though the end of this long weekend feels like the end of a number of things for us as a family, it is the start of a new season and new routines for us that I think will be exciting and fulfilling. October is my favourite month of the year and this year it’s no different.

Nap Time Diaries: 10 Reasons Babies and Puppies Are Basically the Same Thing

I had this thought the other day while sitting and watching Baby T eat her dinner. We got a lab puppy, Marley, within the first year of our marriage. We trained her ourselves and I’ve found there are some similarities between training a puppy and raising a baby. Here are ten of them. 

  1. Teething – Both puppies and babies have their teething troubles. We always had to have chew toys on hand for Marley so she wouldn’t end up chewing on something she wasn’t supposed to. With Baby T, we’ve done the same. Something we’ve found that works well is wetting the corner of a cloth and putting it in the freezer for an hour. It gives her something cool and soothing for her gums.
  2. If You Don’t Want Them to Have Something, Don’t Put It On The Floor – This goes for things you don’t want to be chewed up or eaten. I can’t tell you how many shoes Marley had to ruin before we finally learned to just put them away. Unfortunately, this included a pair of my friend’s Birkenstocks. With Baby T, things like remotes, cell phones, electrical cords all have to be put away otherwise she goes right for them. Even something silly like a little piece of fluff goes right in her mouth if it’s not picked up.
  3. They Keep You Up At Night – I have many “fond” memories of Marley getting sick in the middle of the night, needing to get out of bed to get the cleaning supplies, cleaning up the mess and get all of us settled back into bed, only to have it happen two or three more times if she really wasn’t well. Obviously, sleepless nights are no surprise with Baby T, thankfully none of them have involved big cleanups in the middle of the night… yet.
  4. They Can’t Tell You What’s Wrong – Marley can’t talk (obviously) so sometimes she will just sit there and whine at us. Her water bowl is full, she’ll have just eaten and been outside to do her business so we can’t quite figure out what it is she needs. Then there are the worse times when she’s just not herself, we can tell there’s something wrong with her and wish she could just talk human and tell us what’s wrong. It’s the same with Baby T. She can get fussy, irritated, sometimes downright miserable and we have tried everything to make her feel better, but we just can’t figure out what’s wrong. Sadly, because she’s less than a year old she can’t tell us what’s wrong.
  5. Fresh Air and Walks Are Good For Them – Marley loves walks and being outside like any dog does, and her being out is so good for her. Baby T also needs her Vitamin D. We try to go for a walk every day, Canadian weather permitting, and taking some time to get outside for fresh air and exercise is the perfect way to break up the day.
  6. You Have to Clean Up After Them – Yes, I’m talking about the poop. Neither Marley or Baby T are willing, or able, to take care of this dirty business themselves. Honestly, neither is their daddy (although he is able).
  7. They Need to Be Taught to Sleep in Their Own Bed – Everyone in the family needs their own sleeping space, other than mom and dad. When Marley was a puppy we started crate training as soon as we brought her home. It only took a night or two for her to settle in and make it her own. Baby T did sleep in a bassinet in our room for the first few months, but eventually, she ended up in her crib in her very own room. Like anything with babies (and puppies), there was an adjustment period, mostly my husband and I coming to terms with not having her right next to us, but everyone slept much better in the end. That includes Marley who does still sleep in our room.
  8. They’re Expensive – Marley has had two knee surgeries, two sets of shots and vet visits per year, bags and bags of good quality dog food and more stuffed animals than she can even count (if dogs could count). Baby T hasn’t had any knee surgeries and her healthcare is thankfully free but she does have a room full of nice nursery furniture, buckets and buckets of toys, drawers full of clothing, delicious food, diapers… the list goes on. Let’s not even get started on future costs like a car, schooling and a wedding providing her Daddy ever lets a boy in the house.
  9. You Can Teach Them Tricks – When Marley was a puppy she learned tons of tricks. She is a lab so she was very food motivated and it never took very long for her to learn something new. I remember teaching her a new trick during my lunch break from work. Baby T has also started to show off her own skills that we’ve been working on including waving goodbye, sign language for “all done” when she’s done her food and she even started trying to say “thank you” after we hand her something. Yes, we’re working on having a very well mannered child.
  10. You Can Use Positive Reinforcement – When training Marley we used a lot of positive reinforcement. Whenever she did something good she got a treat and a belly rub, especially with potty training. Baby T also responds really well to it. I mean, we don’t use treats and belly rubs with her, but clapping and cheering her on sure seems to do the trick! Hopefully this works with her potty training as well.

There you have it! Ten reasons I think babies and puppies are basically the same thing. If you have more ideas feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Travel Series: Portugal 1&2

Another month, another travel destination. This month we’re revisiting Portugal, twice!

Wine, beaches and sardines. We’ve been to Portugal twice now since we’ve been married. My Father-in-Law (hereby named FIL) is from a small town near Porto. The first time we went was in 2014 as part of our mini Europe tour. We went to Furadouro where my FIL’s brothers live. We spent a few days there visiting them and his father, who was in his late 90’s at the time. One day we took him for a drive into the mountains nearby and even though it seemed like our giant van wasn’t going to make it up the small winding roads (cliffs at some points), we could tell he loved it. You don’t need to speak the same language to tell someone is having a good time when they’re laughing and cheering all the way up. From the top, we saw some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen.

We also visited the Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira which my FIL had visited as a kid for school trips. It was so cool to have him show us where he grew up, his childhood memories and even the house he grew up in. His brothers and their families were nothing but kind and hospitable to us, again regardless of the language barrier.

The second half of the trip we spent in Albufeira which is in the Algarve. The Algarve is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Our hotel was in the middle of a steep hill; at the bottom was the beach and beachside restaurants and at the top was restaurants and bars that did everything they could to get you inside. One night this included literally lifting one of the guys and carrying him inside. It is also home to a Portuguese specialty that we craved long after leaving; chicken piri piri.

The next time we visited in 2019, I was four months pregnant with Baby T. We stayed in Ovar in the north which is a small fishing village still close to my FIL’s family. Sadly, his father passed away a couple of months before our trip, but again his brothers showed us the best hospitality. We went to a Porto soccer game and if you ever get the chance to go to a soccer game in Europe, it’s like a hockey game on steroids. We were also introduced to “Fire Water” by Uncle Titu which is not recommended for lightweight drinkers or pregnant women. We visited the city of Porto and even though it felt like you were walking uphill through the whole city, it did live up to European city expectations with the beautiful architecture you can’t find in North America.

Portugal also treats pregnant women like royalty. You get your own short lineups to skip the long ones and priority security and boarding at airports. Again, I was only four months pregnant at the time so I might have had to stick my belly out a little for them to realize why I was taking advantage of these things. One night we went to a very fancy seafood restaurant. I obviously couldn’t eat the seafood but tried to ask the waiter if any of the Portuguese words on the menu meant ‘chicken’. Once he realized why I was asking he said (rubbing his belly), “We will find you chicken, because of your condition”. Let me just say, that was some of the best chicken I’ve ever had at a restaurant.

We spent the second half of our visit in our same spot in Albufeira. Even though the bars didn’t have the same appeal when you’re not able to drink, there was still plenty of good food to have. The beach was still beautiful and hot but after having little to no shade the first day, my husband took me to the market to buy a cheap beach chair and umbrella to make me more comfortable. I wasn’t lying when I said he was a smart man.

Even though we don’t know when our next trip to Portugal will be, it will always be a repeat spot for us. We’re looking forward to taking Baby T and whatever other children we have by then along with us. As long as by then I can enjoy the €8 bottle of wine we get at every dinner I’ll be happy.

Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira
Golden Beach – Albufeira
Golden Beach – Albufeira
Golden Beach – Albufeira
Praia de Benagil
FC Porto Soccer Game
City of Porto