Mom Friends

I recently sat down at a table full of young moms (and one first time mom-to-be). The dads were all in charge of the kids which meant they were on the couch watching Cocomelon and we were trying to share our “mommy” wisdom with the new mom-to-be. 

Through the conversation I came to the realization that there’s a lot of things moms don’t openly share with each other. I don’t know if it’s fear of not holding up to the social standards for moms, otherwise known as the ‘Instagram Mom’, or that we feel like these less than stellar moments of mom hood are ours and ours alone. 

The truth is, most moms struggle. It’s not always easy to have the full-time responsibility of little humans being dependant on you for everything. We all get frustrated, we all get worn thin and we all lose our patience sometimes. It’s just a part of life. But spending time with other moms helps me realize it isn’t just me who gets burnt out and needs a break more often than I’d like to admit, and it’s not just me who feels like I’m walking a thin line between sanity and insanity during sleep regressions. It happens to the best of us, and we all feel bad about it. 

It’s important to me to take the time to acknowledge this, to know that things won’t always go perfectly. Each day is a new day with Baby T and sometimes all we both need is a little reset. 

So one thing I will always recommend for new moms is get some mom friends who you can have these chats with and bring each other back to your middle grounds. Being a mom doesn’t necessarily get any easier as time goes by but if you have your mom friends by your side you feel a lot more understood and normal. 

Little Humans with Big Personalities

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych on Pexels.com

Something I think we all look for as our babies grow up is the physical similarities to people in our families. Baby T came out looking exactly like her daddy at the start, but as she’s gotten bigger I see a little bit of her Nanny, some of her Papa, she even makes one face that reminds of my Uncle. She doesn’t too often look like me and I still have my fingers crossed that her hair will go curly like mine, but one thing I find we’re pretty similar on is her fiery little personality. 

I recently said to my husband that most of the time she’s a happy, caring, loving and fun little girl but man oh man can she turn on the sass when she wants to. She will make it very clear when she doesn’t want to do or eat something and look down her nose at anything green and ‘healthy looking’. As soon as I said this, I realized she is me. I get that some of these qualities are a lot cuter on a one and a half year old than a  twenty eight year old but I swear I do it all politely. 

As the days have gone by I’ve seen more and more similarities; she takes a long time to wake up in the morning, she’s very shy and will be quiet for the first twenty minutes or so around new people, and she doesn’t like dirt and grass on her or her clothes. One day, one of our couch cushions was not in its usual spot so she went up to it, straightened it and continued on her merry little way. She loves books, music, dancing and quiet time to watch a show. 

Watching her settle so well into her big personality is something that I hold near and dear to my heart. The similarities help me to understand her and her needs a bit more, and give her the space and patience that she needs to work things out for herself. I don’t know why she does half the stuff she does but she’s always very determined to do whatever it is so we just let her go at it. 

One day when she’s older and knows more words, I’m sure my lovely stubborn personality will shine through even more and I’d like to hope that I’ll continue to give her the same space and patience that she needs. Whether that’s a cuddle on the couch watching her favourite show, dancing in the kitchen together or straightening all the cushions in the house, I’ll be there for her. 

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

Nap Time Diaries: My Top Three Movies

In the COVID-19 age, there’s been a lot of movies watched even multiple times. These are my go-to movies when I’m not sure of what to watch. To preface, I’m not one for scary movies or depressing movies. I prefer ones that will make me feel better on a bad day and leave me smiling or crying happy tears. Also, ones that leave an impression on me or that I would happily restart as soon as they’re over if there wasn’t a household to keep together. These are those movies for me.

Frozen and Frozen 2

I know what you’re thinking. Evie, I thought you were a 27-year-old mom, what are you doing putting two Disney movies as your top favourites? Hear me out.

In Frozen 1, Elsa is expected to hide her powers from the world and keep them under control thereby hiding her true self even from her own sister, Anna. When all this goes to crap and Elsa is out on her own she not only learns the true beauty of her powers but also to accept them and herself. Now, I’m not going to go on some huge thing about being bullied in high school but I have always been a little bit different from everyone else. Even now my big interests are very different from my friends, for example, these movies, the music I like, reading books and not being a huge outdoors person. I’ll just say it, I’m a little weird. Obviously, as I’ve gotten older I’ve gained confidence in myself and who I am as a person but watching Frozen really hit home for me. When I was younger I used to suppress who I really was and my interests because I didn’t want people to call me weird (which they still did). Once I got out of my hometown and found friends who, even though they have different interests, accepted my weirdness and have a weirdness of their own. That’s when I really stepped into the person I am today. I’m not afraid of being myself, going off to read a book or talk about watching these movies for the 100th time.

Frozen 2 carried through with that theme as well, but it also had a deeper level to it. When Frozen 2 came into theatres I had just had my baby and I did manage to see it in theatres thanks to the theatres “Stars and Strollers” program. It wasn’t until it was released for streaming, right at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown and right at the beginning of my Postpartum OCD symptoms that I really started to appreciate it. I won’t say any spoilers but one of the songs, sung by Anna at a very low point in her life, is called “The Next Right Thing”. It talks about feeling like you’re at the bottom, in the darkest place of your life, and the only thing you can do is the next right thing. On days when we were in lockdown and I started to feel the weight of everything coming down on me, I would think to myself, “just do the next right thing”. Whether that was going for a walk, having a nap while Baby T napped, FaceTime-ing a friend or even just taking Baby T to play in a different room of the house to change it up, it always helped me shift my focus and keep moving through the day.

The added bonus is the songs are catchy, Olaf and Sven are hilarious and there’s always a happy ending.

Hamilton

This is a new one for me, especially considering it was just released on Disney+ a couple of months ago. I’m not American so it’s not for patriotism although it was very educational. It’s a favourite for me for a couple of reasons.

First, the sheer talent in it is incredible. I underestimated Lin Manuel Miranda, to be honest. I had only heard of him because of Mary Poppins but when I watched Hamilton knowing that he wrote it made me realize he’s a bit of a musical genius. How do you take a history book and turn it into a hip hop musical with such intricate lines? Pure genius, that’s how. Not only is he incredibly talented for that but the rest of the cast still amazes me even though I’ve seen it multiple times and listened to the soundtrack on repeat. Each of the bigger characters has something amazing to offer like Renée Elise Goldsberry singing Satisfied and Leslie Odom Jr. singing, well, everything he sings. Possibly my favourite part though, because of the dry British humour, is Jonathan Groff as King George. Every time he steps out I start laughing, but not only is it funny, the fact that he can make it look so effortless hitting those big notes while also keeping his face so still and serious really shows his skill as a performer. Plus, he plays Kristoff in Frozen and Frozen 2 so it all comes full circle.

The second reason is one quote; “I wrote my way out”. Ever since I started writing this blog it’s been so good for my mental health with being a mom, dealing with Postpartum OCD and going through a pandemic. I feel like I can relate to that quote and others about using reading and writing to express yourself, better yourself and also as an escape when things get difficult. Obviously, if you know the story of Alexander Hamilton you’ll know that his life had a lot more difficulties than mine, but I still relate to these being helpful and important things in my life.

There we have it. If you’ve stuck around for this long thank you for reading, even if these movies aren’t for you I hope it was still enlightening and enjoyable to hear why I love them.

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing… and Other Things a Mother Thinks

I know I’ve only been a mother for ten months and I’ve got a long way to go and plenty more lessons to learn, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done (yes, including labour). Of course, it’s incredibly rewarding and Baby T makes me smile more than anything, but I think it’s important to put all the feels out there for everyone. What could be more interesting than my thoughts and feelings? 

A few times, specifically when Baby T is refusing to nap, go to bed, or up in the middle of the night, my husband has turned to me and said “what should we do?” First off, pat on the back to him for saying “we” in that sentence. He’s a smart man. Second, my answer is always “I have no idea”. The truth is, when you’re a new mom you think you have an idea of what to expect. You’ve seen your nieces/nephews and other family babies through good times and bad and read enough books and watched enough tv shows to have an idea of the lack of sleep and stress coming your way. NEWS FLASH! Even if you have a pretty chill easy baby like I did, you still have no idea. You’ve forgotten your body is raging with hormones, you decided to skip the section in the book about breastfeeding figuring you’ll have time to learn about it later, and you also missed the lesson at the hospital learning how to change a diaper that Dad got because you were too busy sleeping. There’s a lot of times I thought to myself “I don’t even know what I’m doing” but Baby T is still alive and thriving so I must not be doing that bad. Being a mom is kind of a guessing game. Baby T has changed so much and her needs and wants change all the time so I’ve learned to just roll with it and accept the fact that I may never know what I’m doing. 

Here’s a list of a few other thoughts I’ve had that hopefully, some people can relate to: 

“Oh good, she finally pooped!”

“Did I brush my teeth today?” 

“I need a drink.” 

“I hope her Nana is free tomorrow.” 

“Maybe I should start drinking coffee.” 

“She only slept for that long?” 

“She’s still sleeping??” 

“I wish she liked watching movies.” 

“When will Dad be home?” 

“I need a drink.” 

“Is that enough food for her?” 

“Will she be warm/cool enough?” 

“I love her so much.” 

“I need a drink.” 

If you can’t relate to even one of those I think you’re following the wrong blog and should just move along.

I’ve Been Converted.

No, I didn’t change religions or join a cult, but I have been converted to something I never thought I would. Let me give you some background here.

I’m from a fairly big city, I’ve never been a huge outdoors person, the most outdoorsy thing about me is that I listen to country music… outside. I’ve never really been camping, I remember only going to a trailer once in my life. We mostly stayed in cottages and hotels. My husband on the other hand went camping multiple times a year whether in a tent or a trailer. It’s his favourite kind of vacation.

Ever since we’ve been married we’ve gone camping once or twice a year but only trailer camping for me, and it’s still was not my favourite. Fast forward to now with a baby. We went camping the other weekend with my husband’s family and his parents had just gotten a nice big new trailer. Baby T slept in her playpen next to my bed and the days were so simple and chilled. We spent so much time outside in the fresh air. With everything going on right now it was exactly what I needed. Who knows how long it will be before we can travel again, camping could be the only kind of vacation we get to take for the next few years.

So two days after coming home from that trip we bought a trailer of our own. I spent the next couple of days cleaning it and stocking it with supplies and a few decorative items to make it feel homey. We felt bad that Baby T’s early wake-up time affected everyone on our campsite so we figured having our own space would be for the best. Our maiden trip is next weekend and for the first time in my life, I am excited to go camping. Yes Dan (my husband), you read that right. Your wife is excited to go camping. You better take advantage of it while it lasts.

Travel Series: Ireland


Has it been a month already? Here’s my second Travel Series Feature; Ireland.

Ireland has a special place in my heart. Ten years before taking this trip I fell in love with Ireland. I loved how green everything looked and it seemed like a place that felt like home to me, it still does. So finally I had made it to Ireland and was ready to fulfill as many dreams as I could in a four-day window. The first stop was the Ashford Castle. Flashback again about ten years I got my hands on a travel book for Ireland that sold tours, one of which was a tour where you took a bus across parts of Ireland and spent one night in a castle. One of these was the Ashford Castle and I fell in love with it. Well, I finally made it there for a day visit and guess what, you can’t go look inside unless you’re staying in the hotel (which I believe would cost €800 per night which was just a tiny bit over our very small budget). We had driven an hour to go see it and I was trying not to be heartbroken about it. The good news was, you were free to explore the grounds which ended up being endless little secret gardens that we spent hours exploring and to this day is still one of my favourite memories.

From there we drove to Galway which was exactly what you would imagine an Irish city to be like. Music on the streets and lined with pubs and happy drinkers. We took a day trip while we were there to go see the Aran Islands. We had to drive early in the morning to catch the first ferry to Innismore (the largest of the three islands) and then we rented bikes to ride from one end to the other and back. We visited Dun Aengus and stood on the cliffs watching the ocean below and then we went to my all-time favourite place in the world. The Worm Hole. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up. It’s incredible. We had the area all to ourselves since it was fairly tricky to get to and sat on the rocks right next to the ocean to take it all in.

Driving back to Galway from the ferry we got lost and it’s the best wrong turn we ever made. We ended up on a winding little road in between mountains with a perfect little creek running down the middle and herds of sheep walking all over the place. It was picture perfect.

Following Galway we went back to Dublin where we had flown into and spent the last few days exploring the city and going to as many pubs as possible on Friday and Saturday night in Temple Bar. Because it was springtime all the pubs had their windows open so you could walk the streets and go into whichever one had the best music.

Ireland still has a special place in my heart and I don’t know when but one day I will take Baby T there and show her all these places that are now so special to me.

View From Dun Aengus
Gardens at the Ashford Castle
The Ashford Castle
The Aran Islands
Guinness Brewery
Temple Bar, Dublin

Nap Time Diaries: What I Actually Used at the Hospital

There’s lots of advice and lists out there of what to bring with you to the hospital and a lot of it depends on how your labour goes and what kind of person you are. I followed some of the advice and some of it was useful some of it was not.

Slippers vs flip flops. I purchased a pair of bigger open toe slippers I was planning on wearing in the hospital since my feet were huge. I packed them in my go bag but even in the cold November all I could wear en route to the hospital was my flip flops. The flip flops ended up being way more useful because I could wear them in the shower the next morning and whatever “stuff” got on them washed right off. I would also recommend socks because hospitals are cold and your feet might get chilly (but not nice socks because they will most likely get ruined; I learned that one the hard way, but at least my feet were warm for most of it).

Bring a towel and shower supplies. My midwife said I would be going home a few hours after giving birth because home is the most comfortable place to recover. Thankfully I still packed overnight things just in case because I ended up having some complications after labour that required me to stay the night and most of the next day at the hospital. I was able to get cleaned up in the shower the next morning and spend the day in my comfy nightgown which was better than, well, a hospital gown. I also brought larger clothes for the ride home because my good friend (the one who had done all this herself 1.5 weeks before me) recommended it. Your belly doesn’t just go back down to normal size. It’s squishy and I was still swollen and fairly large so big comfy leggings and a big sweatshirt were perfect. I think I actually lived in them for three weeks.

Snacks and Gatorade. Labour is exhausting. When you’re in it and in the zone you don’t think about it too much. I do think sipping on Gatorade helped give me the energy I needed to keep going and covered for the fact that I hadn’t eaten in almost 12 hours and was now running a marathon of sorts. Afterwards just having a couple of bites of granola bar was again all I needed or had until the next morning when I felt up to eating again.

Special Music Playlist. I’m huge into having certain music linked to big moments in my life so that when I hear them I go back to that place and remember every detail. For example, when we were on the Aran Islands in Ireland and were sitting right next to the ocean watching it crash on the rocks around us I played If I Ever Leave This World Alice by Flogging Molly on my phone next to me. To this day listening to that song takes me back to that place. Music also helps me focus and get into the zone. So I thought I’d make a playlist of songs I would maybe like to listen to at home during early labour and maybe at the hospital. Let’s just say early labour at home there was probably not a single music genre or song on earth that I felt like listening to. I didn’t get any more musically inclined at the hospital. I did have a separate playlist with cute little baby songs that I played when she had finally arrived and we were just cuddling, so that was nice. But yeah, there was no amount of pump up music that could have helped that day.

Onesie Pyjamas for the Baby. Another tip I got from my mom friend (she’s good with the tips) was to bring simple button/zip up onesie pyjamas for bringing the baby home. Before she said this I had picked out an adorable little shirt with pants and a matching hat which I did bring to the hospital along with the recommended pyjamas. Turns out, when it was time to leave the hospital we found ourselves trying to dress our baby for the first time, by ourselves. We were tired and overwhelmed and sure enough the pyjamas were the outfit of choice. We learned that we had no idea how to dress a baby much less pull a shirt over her giant head.

There you have it folks. Those were my top things I actually used or didn’t use for my hospital bags among the other obvious things like granny panties, pads and hair ties.

Nap Time Diaries: The “New Normal”

Well, it’s been a hot minute since COVID 19 showed up and ruined 2020 but the good thing is there’s a “new normal” that everyone seems to be adjusting to nicely. Weekends have become enjoyable and something to look forward to again as we start to venture out with friends and family. Last weekend we went for a picnic on a lake and despite not being on an exact schedule (*gasp*) Baby T did just fine having her nap in her stroller outside. It’s even gotten to the point that I start to dread Mondays again even though my Mondays don’t involve going back to work like most people.

Baby T and I have developed a regular weekday routine that has been really good for both of us. In the mornings she watches me make breakfast; she has baby pancakes with peanut butter and I have eggs and toast. We sit at the table together and eat our breakfast and I get to enjoy a hot cup of tea. After a little playtime Baby T is ready for her first nap of the day and I take full advantage of the free time to shower and get myself ready for the day. When she wakes up we have our lunch together and then do something different like go grocery shopping (she finds my mask funny so I guess that’s good), go visit someone or go for a walk. This usually tires her (and me) out nicely for her second nap. After that it’s more playing before dinner time, an hour or so with her Daddy and then off to bed.

Sometimes it’s boring doing the same thing over and over during the week, but finally being able to mix it up by going to visit Nana or going shopping just the two of us has been great. Something is working well for my Postpartum OCD because it only rears it’s head when I get overwhelmed, and thanks to the online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy I’ve been taking I have a better idea of how to handle it.

I finally came to the point where I’ve realized I have less than three months of maternity leave left with Baby T, and even though I feel like I’ll be ready to go back I still want to make the most of the time we have. She’s already almost ten months and the developments and skills she’s learning right now are a lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong, she wants to try and walk on her walker or climb on something ALL. THE. TIME. Including the side of her crib which led to a couple of sleepless nights until I taught her how to sit herself back down, then it wasn’t as much fun for her. I always have to be there to help her or catch her if she falls when she’s playing and it’s exhausting, but seeing that little two tooth grin when she accomplishes something new is just the best thing ever.

So that’s my “new normal” life in a nutshell right now. Only a few more summer adventures before fall starts to show up but contrary to popular opinion, I always look forward to it. The next post in the works is what I actually used out of my hospital bag when I had Baby T. I know you’ll all be waiting with bated breath.

Nap Time Diaries: Mom to Mom Q&A

For something a little different with this post I did a Q&A with my mom to compare answers from being a first-time mom now versus when she had her second favourite child thirty years ago (my older brother). Keep reading to see what I found out.

How did you find out you were pregnant?

Mom: We were trying to get pregnant so basically I skipped my period and knew. And then when I was far enough along I went to the Doctor and got a pregnancy test. They had store-bought pregnancy tests at that time but they weren’t that accurate so I didn’t want to waste the money when I could just wait a month and go to the doctor. I did have a feeling before I skipped my period because my gag reflex was heightened and I would throw up just from brushing my teeth in the morning.

Me: We were also trying to get pregnant so as soon as I started feeling anything different about myself I had a good feeling. My boobs got bigger right away and I started getting nauseated by certain foods too. Then we took the early response test as soon as we could and we found out!

Did you find out the gender? How?

Mom: No. We could have found out but we wanted to be surprised. It was definitely becoming more popular then to find out what you were having but it was probably 50/50 and there was no such thing as a gender reveal party.

Me: Yes we found out. Gender reveal parties are huge right now and there are so many different ways to do them. We popped a black balloon with pink confetti over our heads and it was so much fun. I found a lot of people my mom’s age were surprised I found out or recommended against it but I’m a big planner so I always wanted to know what I was having.

Did you use an OBGYN or Midwife?

Mom: OBGYN. Family doctors were delivering babies just before then but when they stopped because of insurance purposes you had to go to an OBGYN. Midwives were not very popular and I don’t believe they were delivering in hospitals at that time so it could be riskier for some people.

Me: Midwife for me. Nowadays midwives are more popular and can deliver at hospitals as well. They have a good rapport with nurses and doctors at the hospital so if there’s ever an issue they can transfer care right away to the on-call OBGYN. I just found the extra care they gave was amazing, our appointments together were longer and more in-depth and they provided better postpartum care including home visits for the first two weeks. I also had a million questions and they answered all of them patiently.

Did you take a birthing class?

Mom: Yes we did however they were very popular, basically everyone went to a class if they were having a baby. They did basic how-to stuff about babies, breathing exercises for delivery and what to expect. I found it very helpful. But you had to pay for them and they weren’t cheap. Your dad was a little bit clueless still sometimes.

Me: Yes. There were some free ones available but we ended up paying for one that our midwives recommended. It was through a physical therapy office that specialized in postpartum care. They gave us lots of information about coping with pain naturally since pretty much everyone’s goal was to not have an epidural and we used a lot of tips they gave. My husband learned how to do things like hip compressions and how to help me through labour (and he ended up doing great so I guess they worked). I would say birthing classes are maybe not as popular as they were 30 years ago but that is probably because there’s this thing called the internet.

What was the best new product when you had a baby?

Mom: Probably a baby monitor but with sound only. But they would go on a frequency so sometimes you could hear your neighbours which was fun.

Me: I would say the AngelCare Mattress Monitors and Owlet Sock Monitors that check you’re baby’s heart rate and breathing while they sleeping. I didn’t end up using one because we had Baby T in a bassinet next to our bed for the first four or five months so I could check her breathing myself through the night and I had heard it did a lot of false alarms. They seemed to be very popular though and highly advertised.

What is the one thing (product) you would recommend every mom to have?

Mom: I loved having a bassinet because when they were little you could have them right in your room beside your bed.

Me: I agree the bassinet is one thing I would recommend but specifically one that vibrates. I would turn it on and Baby T would go right to sleep all by herself. It shut itself off after about forty minutes but if Baby T woke through the night I would turn it back on and unless she was hungry she would go back to sleep no problem.

What was the best thing you did for yourself postpartum?

Mom: I went and stayed at my mom’s for a few days because I was a mess and I needed the help.

Me: Lots of baths. It was my quiet time to relax and felt so good. I used Shepherds Purse baths that my midwife recommended and also lavender epsom salt.

How did you get your baby sleep trained?

Mom: We didn’t really do sleep training by then but I tend to be a scheduled person so my baby’s naps were always scheduled and they always slept in either their bassinet or their crib. If it was bedtime the baby went to bed we didn’t wait to see what time the baby wanted to go to bed.

Me: Baby T was always a pretty decent sleeper but when it actually came time to try and have her sleep through most of the night (around five months) I just slowly weaned the nighttime feedings and let her cry it out. I also learned the difference between her cries, sometimes she’d have a really desperate hungry cry if she was going through a growth spurt so those nights I would feed her and she would go right back to sleep.

Formula or breastfed?

Mom: Breastfed. There was a lot of pushing for formula but I always found breastfeeding so convenient cause all you had to do what lift your top.

Me: Breastfed. We didn’t have any issues with getting started so I never was pressured to use formula. But nowadays it seems like people are doing 50/50, new moms are encouraged to just do whatever works best for them and their baby.

Did you put your baby down on their stomach, side or back for bedtime?

Mom: Side. You used to swaddle them, roll up a sheet and put it behind them. That was what everybody said to do, what was safest at the time.

Me: Back! Healthcare providers are pretty adamant about that. They admit that in the past it went from stomach to side and now to back. Once she learned how to roll over though she puts herself on her side or her stomach and who am I to go in and wake her up?

When did you start your baby on solid foods and what did you give them?

Mom: Around five or six months and I always started them on powder cereal or Farleys Rusks and bit by bit I would blend and freeze veggies to give them. I very rarely bought baby food. I would only buy big jars of unsweetened apple sauce.

Me: We started around the same time, five or six months. Basically when she started showing an interest in what we were eating and trying to grab it. We started with baby cereal and puréed veggies.

How did your husband do as a first-time dad?

Mom: Um good. He was always a very hands-on dad but he also had to work long days every day. Men were starting to be more hands-on back then, your dad was never afraid to change a diaper. He was always there to give hugs and kisses even though that wasn’t how he grew up, I always give him credit for that.

Me: He did awesome. He’s also a very hands-on dad and wants to spend lots of time with her. He loves it when she snuggles into his shoulder, you can tell he’s already wrapped around her little finger. He does help with diaper changes but will only do the poopy diapers if I wasn’t around or was 100% checked out.

Stay at Home or Working Mom? Which would you have preferred?

Mom: I worked part-time after being off for a year. We worked our schedules so that your dad would also take care of you a lot of the time so the amount we had to use a sitter was minimal. We had my mom too and she would babysit one or two days a week. Working part-time was perfect for me, I don’t think I could’ve managed full time. I enjoyed the little bit of time I had outside of the house. I didn’t need to have a career but I always enjoyed my job.

Me: I’m still off on a year-long maternity leave but I will be returning to work part-time in a few months. If financially I had a choice I do think I would still choose to do something part-time, maybe something with less pressure or something I could do at home. Regardless I feel like I’m ready to have a little break a few days a week. We’ll see if I still feel the same way when I actually go back to work.

What was your biggest fear as a new mom?

Mom: My biggest fear was the baby getting sick with something really serious.

Me: I agree with my mom but also feeling like you’re constantly doing something wrong and you’re messing up being a mom.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to any new mom?

Mom: Take the time for you and your baby that you need and let other people help with the other stuff.

Me: Trust your gut. You know your baby and you know yourself better than anyone else.

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between being a new mom thirty years ago and being a new mom now. We do have the internet that we can google any question we may have, but it seems like these older moms (now grandmas) also seem to know a thing or two. Might as well learn a little bit from them too, we survived after all didn’t we?

Nap Time Diaries: The Best Clothes to Have on Hand Postpartum

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning and I’m here to talk about the best clothes to have on hand for the first few weeks after you have your baby, and beyond. I ended up having to go out and buy, or order online, several items within the first couple of weeks and going out isn’t something that was my forte at that point. So here’s a quick list of basic things and also where to buy them. I consider myself a pretty frugal person so a lot of these items are very fairly priced especially if there’s a sale.

First, you’re going to need a good, comfy large pair of pyjamas. If you’re breastfeeding you’ll want something that has what I like to call “boobie access” for feeding your little one through the night. You’ll also want it to be very lightweight because if you had swelling like I did you might sweat profusely for the first three weeks in your sleep to get rid of all the water you were retaining (I’m talking A LOT like you might have to sleep on a towel). Mine consisted of a large thin sweater which usually ended up coming off through the night (like I said, sweaty mess) but was perfect for wearing in bed during the day or around the house, also a pair of large blue shorts that was one of the few items that still fit me at the end of my pregnancy. My husband got me both from Winners for $24 on a day when I was feeling down and needed a pick-me-up. He also included my favourite chocolate bar. Who knew that buying clothing for your wife that’s two sizes too big for her pre-pregnant body would brighten her day. I also had a soft button up nightgown that I brought to wear at the hospital that was so perfect, from Walmart for $20 give or take.

Next on the list is leggings. I wore my maternity leggings for the first few weeks because everything else pressed on my belly too much and didn’t feel so nice. I got mine from H&M for only $15 and they were fantastic. They were also one of the last things left that fit me at the end of pregnancy. After a couple of weeks, I graduated to some of my other leggings but only if they were nice and stretchy.

Moving on we have nursing bras. If you’re planning or hoping to breastfeed you’re going to need nursing bras, and quite a few of them. If you breastfeed for a year you have to wear those suckers 24/7 for months and months. I purchased one from Walmart a couple of weeks before my due date that fit me at that time but also had some room to grow. It was only about $20. After I had my baby I bought nighttime nursing bras that were nice and comfy bras with, you guessed it, easy “boobie access”. I still wear these every night 9 months later. They were also from H&M and were 2 for $35. Once I got more settled into nursing and had to leave the house more I bought another 2 pack of daytime nursing bras for $35 from H&M as well. A couple of things when buying nursing bras; if you’re buying them before you have your baby only get one or two since you’re not sure what size you’ll need until after your milk comes in and you start to regulate your supply and also make sure you buy bras with removable padding. I had clogged ducts throughout breastfeeding and would commonly get them after wearing a bra with padding which is one of the things you should avoid if you’re prone to clogged ducts. I wish I knew that before, but now at least I can pass on the wisdom. Fortunately, all of the bras I bought did have removable padding so I didn’t have to buy new ones upon this discovery.

Alright, the last thing on the list is nursing tops and sweaters. Again, if you’re planning or hoping to breastfeed you’re going to need a good supply of these. When you’re nursing outside the comfort of your own home, chances are you’re not going to be as comfortable lifting whatever shirt you’re wearing and having your belly all exposed. I purchased a 2 pack (gotta love the 2 packs) of nursing tank tops also from H&M for $30 and they’re so easy for wearing under shirts that you already have, so if you lift your shirt your belly won’t be out if you don’t want it to be. You also don’t have to wear a nursing bra underneath these because they have a support strap built-in. I also got a few nursing shirts that popped up on sale from H&M and also Thyme Maternity including a nursing sweatshirt which is perfect for putting on over the tank tops and doesn’t even look like a nursing sweatshirt. It is light and has two big slits down the side so you can just lift it and feed your baby. It can also be worn when your pregnant and will fit your baby belly. In case you didn’t notice I am very excited about this sweatshirt it was probably the best purchase I made for breastfeeding attire even though it was the most expensive. Unfortunately, it’s not available on the H&M website anymore but if you can find a nursing sweatshirt it’s a great purchase (GAP Canada currently has something similar), especially if you live in Canada and are breastfeeding through winter.

There you have it! My top affordable clothes to have postpartum. I wore all of these items every day for at least the first few weeks after having Baby T and I continue to wear the majority of them 9 months later. It’s best to get some good staple items that can go with a variety of outfits especially when you’re in it for the long haul and potentially more babies.

Travel Series: England

This will be the first of a mini travel series highlighting some of the places I’ve been and any little things I recommend doing if you get the chance to go (once travel is a part of normal life again). These will be posted once a month for the foreseeable future. First stop, England!

Good old England. We travelled here in 2014 with my husband’s family for a 20 day Europe trip which included England, Ireland and Portugal. This was our first stop on a very exciting trip. We stayed about an hour train ride outside of London and rode in every day to tackle as much as we could in three days. Some of my top memories are riding the tube and learning all of the routes, walking around the streets just taking in all of the beautiful architecture, the Tower Bridge (people actually say to walk on another bridge to get a good view of the tower bridge but I would say if you have the time, do BOTH) and Victoria Sponge Cake. There was a little Cafe we stopped at along the river, the Embankment Cafe if I remember correctly and I at down and had the best Victoria Sponge Cake ever, and I tried as many as I could while we were there.

Funny story if you’re a fan of the Beatles, we took off on the tube headed towards Abbey Road stop hoping to see the iconic crosswalk from the Abbey Road Album. This was one of the last stops on the track and it took us almost an hour to get to it. We stepped off the tube and were greeted by a big sign saying something along the lines of ‘if you’re looking for the Abbey Road crosswalk on the front of the album this isn’t it’. Turns out Abbey Road in this case wasn’t actually Abbey Road. The real Abbey Road was all the way back in London in St Johns Wood. So that was fun.

We also took a bus tour to see Stone Henge, the Roman Baths and Windsor Castle. Our tour guide was a graduate of Oxford (as we were told the entire day) and he told us all of his theories on Stone Henge according to what he learned at ‘Oxford School of Logic’. His words, not mine. Regardless he gave us a good laugh for the day and did actually have some very good facts to share with us.

We visited where my mother in law grew up and went to a pub that she went to when she was a teenager, The Ballot Box. Turns out it has the best roast dinner you can find in all of England. It was so good, we went there twice.

Where I live we don’t have a history like they do in England so being there and having all that history around us was incredible. I would definitely go back and do it again.

The Guards at Windsor Castle
The Tower Bridge
Piccadilly Circus (not actually a circus)
The Gates at Buckingham Palace

Nap Time Diaries: Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

We’re days away from Baby T being nine months and I can barely believe it! It’s been such a whirlwind and when I think of nine months in and nine months out it seems like a whole lifetime. I’ve talked about my pregnancy so you already know about the nine months in, here’s a few things I’ve learned and appreciated about nine months out.

Live in the moment. Baby T is constantly growing and learning new things. When she was a tiny little bean and couldn’t even roll or hold her head up I was always looking forward to the next thing she would learn to do, getting one step closer to independence. Once she got to the next big thing I would miss the last phase. As hard as it is I’ve learned to just appreciate whatever she does each day, even if it’s just a funny little noise she’s making. I know one day it will be the last day she makes that noise. Every few days there’s something new and exciting to watch her do.

Mom-ing is hard but rewarding. The days all seem the same when you’re a mom, baby wakes up, you change and feed baby, then you play for a bit, then they go for a nap and it starts all over again. Sometimes Baby T has a rough day whether it’s teething or not enough sleep and she can be a stage ten clinger; she’ll refuse to nap on her own or be put down. This is where I find that extra patience and empathy I didn’t know I had. I know that Baby T is usually a happy smiling baby, so if she’s acting like this there’s obviously something upsetting her physically or mentally. It’s my job as a mom to help her through it. These days are hard and tiring but when she snuggles in for a cuddle or a hug and I know I’m doing my job of comforting her, it’s the best feeling in the world.

You can’t care for a baby if you’re not caring for yourself first. There have been so many times in the past nine months that I’ve forgotten to eat, forgotten to drink any water, had barely any sleep while Baby T sleeps peacefully next to me or felt completely burned out. Getting to this point physically, emotionally and mentally doesn’t do anyone any good. I have a hard time focusing on Baby T and get physically tired very quickly from carrying her around to the point that I get dizzy and need to sit down. These are usually the days I end up calling one of the Grandmas to come and help so I can rest up. If I plan to take the time to rest or get other things done ahead of time, or preplan my meals for the day, have some easy snacks on hand and make sure I carry my full water bottle around with me then things go a lot smoother.

Don’t forget about your marriage. I’m not sure if you knew this already but making a baby takes two people. Raising a baby as a couple takes teamwork and if there’s tension in the relationship between a husband and wife who are also parents then things can get complicated. For the first few months, Baby T didn’t go to bed until midnight and my husband and I would be so exhausted that we would go straight to bed. We spent our entire day and night focused on our new little bundle which isn’t in itself a bad thing. Once Baby T started going to bed earlier it was amazing having some time in the evening to ourselves. Especially during COVID-19 lockdown, we would spend that time together watching movies or a tv show which we normally wouldn’t have done very often even before Baby T (I’m an early bedtime kind of girl). We grew a lot closer and our communication and teamwork have only gotten better since then. Shawn Johnson (former USA gold medal Olympian) put it so perfectly, speaking of her husband Andrew: “He is MY favourite person and our baby is OUR favourite person.” We are still allowed to put each other first while at the same time putting our baby first.

You might not lose all your baby weight from breastfeeding. I had this myth in my head when I planned to breastfeed, I thought, it’ll be great I’ll feed my baby and lose weight at the same time. I’d seen it done with other moms and thought it was just guaranteed to happen. It’s not. There are so many different factors with it and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. So here I am nine months out and I still weigh the same I did at two months postpartum. It’s a tough pill to swallow when before I got pregnant I was in the best shape of my life after working hard at the gym for three years and loving it. I was told that it takes nine months for your body to make the baby, it takes nine months to one year for your body to recover. So I’ve learned to just be patient with myself. I exercised back then because I loved it, not because I was punishing myself and I think it’s important to get back to that mindset because like I said, you can’t care for your baby if you’re not properly caring for yourself.

So there you have it, my last nine months in a nutshell. It seems like such a small part in Baby T and I’s lives but it seems like what we’ve both learned will continue to stick with us for the next eighteen to twenty-five years we have together under one roof.

Diary of a Postpartum OCD Mom

The biggest struggle I have had since having Postpartum OCD is feeling misunderstood and, at times, alone. It feels like your thoughts and feelings are yours alone and make you a bad mother. By writing about my experience I hope I can help other moms struggling with intrusive thoughts and Postpartum OCD to realize they’re not alone.

When I first started to notice my symptoms we were away on vacation in Florida, our baby was four months old and COVID-19 was starting to make its way around the world. Travelling is already something that makes me anxious and adding a baby and a looming pandemic to the mix was not the best situation. I started feeling obsessed with my baby; I felt like no one else could take care of her properly and became very possessive. I kept us on a strict breastfeeding and napping schedule that meant I barely gave myself time to relax and enjoy the vacation. I started having intrusive thoughts about my baby. We would be walking to a shop down the street and my husband would start running with the stroller trying to take the baby for a fun ride and I could visualize with vivid detail the stroller falling over and my baby falling out. Then I started thinking “what if I lose control of myself and drop my baby off the balcony” and I started to feel like there was something wrong with me.

When we returned home from Florida, I continued having intrusive thoughts and it made me struggle to feel close to my baby. I was scared of watching her by myself, scared that I would fall down the stairs while holding her or have a mental break and harm her. I felt unfit to be a mother and ashamed of the thoughts I was having. I even started to feel like my family would be better off if I just left.

I would become so obsessed with everything being so perfect to make up for my intrusive thoughts. The house had to always be spotless, our day always had to have the same routine for napping, feeding and bedtime. Everything had to be done a certain way and even my laundry was perfectly folded and put away in order every time.

I started googling the thoughts I was having and realized I wasn’t alone, some people even wrote about having the same thoughts as me. After some research I realized my symptoms lined up with Postpartum OCD. I decided it was time to tell someone about what was going on, so I told my husband. It was difficult for him to understand since he wasn’t very familiar with Postpartum Disorders, but after we talked about it and researched some more he supported me and helped me build up the courage to speak to my doctor about it.

Having intrusive thoughts is one thing, but having to talk about them is another. I was scared of being judged and having my baby taken away, but my family doctor was amazing. She referred me to a Postpartum Doctor who screened and diagnosed me with Postpartum OCD.

Following my diagnosis, COVID-19 became a full-blown pandemic and social distancing and quarantine set in. I had to face my fear of being home alone with my baby every day for 6 weeks straight. We couldn’t go anywhere; shopping was of course off limits and we were still on the tail end of winter so it was too cold to spend too much time outside. Thankfully, since I had opened up about everything I had an amazing support group even over FaceTime.

There were delays in getting the professional help I needed due to COVID but since things started opening up again I’ve started to get help from a few different resources.

Even though saying these things out loud (or writing them) is still difficult, accepting them instead of shoving them down and hiding them has made things so much better. I’ve come to realize that the thoughts and feelings I sometimes have aren’t from me and don’t reflect on me as a person or as a mother, they’re symptoms of Postpartum OCD and eventually, it will get better. So if you’re like me and can relate to any of this, don’t push it down. Talk about it with loved ones and talk about it with your Doctor, there are resources available to you for help. You can start with reading the book “Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts” (available on Amazon), then go from there.