travel

Travel Series: Niagara Fall and Niagara-On-The-Lake

Flat Rock Cellars

We are freshly back from out first little kid-free getaway in Niagara Falls and Niagara-On-The-Lake and I don’t think I have felt this well rested in a long time. Our recent trip to the cottage in Calabogie was relaxing, yes, but we definitely didn’t have a good catch up on sleep while we were there. This was our one and only night since being parents that we had no responsibility of waking up through the night and absolutely no alarm clock in the morning. It was fantastic. 

Niagara Falls is fairly close to where we live so we do get to go quite often. We normally go for our anniversary in November but between Baby T and Covid it’s been a while since we’ve been able to go. Of course it was very different this time around and seemed very empty compared to normal, which was sad considering the area is usually bursting with tourists, but we still made the best of our one night there. 

We stayed at the Embassy Suites right on the falls and got a great deal through Groupon that included some vouchers for nearby restaurants. The Keg is right inside the restaurant but since we took this trip so last minute we didn’t have reservations and they are allowed very limited seating so we decided to do a take-out order and enjoy it in our room. We weren’t too disappointed, as we had a feeling this would be the case. They did such a great job with the take-out, the food all tasted exactly the same and was so fresh. 

There of course wasn’t really anything we could do after dinner but we were well prepared with some wine to share, a Toronto Maple Leafs Game on the TV (a book for me) and some chocolate for dessert. We had a great sleep and an even better sleep in! 

After leaving the hotel we took a drive around the Falls, like I said we live fairly close and have seen them so many times growing up but they’re still amazing to see. If you’ve never been to see them I definitely recommend it, no amount of pictures can do it justice. From there we headed to Niagara-On-The-Lake to visit a couple of wineries. 

Our first stop was Wayne Gretzky Distillery and Winery. It was a very cool place, especially for hockey fans; it even had a spot for an outdoor skating rink in the winter. The drinks were good (especially the Salted Caramel Cream), however our experience in general there was kind of ruined by our bartender. The nice thing about tastings is learning about what you’re tasting and learning about their process, and I guess we looked a little too young to care because she didn’t bother talking to us about anything (she did explain everything to the other more mature couples in the room so I guess we did kind of get the information secondhand). 

Anyway, leaving her behind, and really needing to have a happier ending to our trip we made our way to Flat Rock Cellars. Our experience there was amazing. We each were allowed four choices, and when I asked Tate (our bartender/wine expert) for his recommendations, he said he could actually give us all eight of the wines on the menu and then we could each share them and taste all of them. He then continued to check in with us as we were making our way through the wines and took the time to answer questions we had and explain to us their process for the wines (including the fact that they are one of only thirteen sustainable wineries in all of Ontario). The wine’s were so delicious we tried to pick only two to buy afterwards but ended up picking three. This was the wine tasting experience we needed to really top off the end to a great time away. 

I will leave links to all of these places down below. This post is not sponsored by any of these businesses at all we paid for the whole trip ourselves. However, if any of them want to send me some free wine, as usual I would not complain. 

Link to Embassy Suites

Link to Wayne Gretzky Estates

Link to Flat Rock Cellars

lifestyle

The Perfect Getaway

We just recently got back from a week away, the perfect week away I would say. We booked our favourite cottage in Calabogie, Ontario back in November before there were any talks of a second lockdown. We planned to go with two of our closest couple friends, one of whom has a baby boy who is only a week and five days older than Baby T. 

As the date got closer for us to leave, it was very touch and go whether we would be able to still go on the trip. With the lockdown, there were no short term rentals allowed and also you weren’t allowed to see anyone outside of your household. Thankfully, the week before we were leaving, the region that the cottage is in was put into green zone (meaning short term rentals were allowed again, and gatherings of up to ten people) and our region was put into orange zone (which also allows gatherings of up to ten people) so we were good to go! 

The cottage is on Black Donald Lake which is just over a five hour drive away for us. I was very nervous about how Baby T would do on the drive but she was amazing! She didn’t sleep as long as I was hoping but she was perfectly content to sit in her carseat and watch Frozen 2 and Cocomelon the whole way there.

The cottage itself is amazing. We’ve been there a number of times now and walking in the front door felt like walking into our second home. There are so many memories from there before having kids and we were so excited to make new memories with the kids this time around. 

After being away from people for so long it did take Baby T some time to adjust to a full house and having another baby around, but eventually she was fine venturing off on her own and giving her little friend some bigs hugs and kisses (we gotta watch out for this girl in the future). 

Most days included a walk outside and some tobogganing, day drinking for the adults only of course, and snow man building. I’ll share a picture of the fire the other two girls built in the snow that made for the perfect afternoon outside with some warmth and whiskey sipping looking out over the frozen lake.

The babies were on the exact same schedule so nap time allowed for some Mario 3D World playing, board games or even time for us adults to catch up on our sleep and rest. After bedtime, if we had energy left after a full day with the kids, we would play ping pong in the basement just like old times. 

All in all it was a beautiful relaxing week with friends that was much needed after the long couple of months we’ve all had. It was nice to spend all day everyday with no masks on, no one else around us and barely even thinking about Covid; a little piece of normalcy that will get us through the next few months again. 

lifestyle

My Favourite Influencers

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

Social media has the ability to either make or break our days but we always have the choice of what we look at on Instagram, YouTube or Blogs that we’re following. I have always tried to make sure that the people I follow on these platforms have a positive impact on my mindset and I regularly go through and remove people who’s content isn’t doing that anymore. Sometimes that means taking a break from it as a whole which can be really refreshing, but whenever I come back there are some that I always enjoy following even years down the road. I’ll list a few of them and include their names in the platforms they have as well as why they’re my favourites. 

Lydia Elise Millen

Lydia is a blogger, YouTuber and Instagrammer in the UK. I’ve been following her for a few years now and even though we have nothing in common I find her content very enjoyable to watch. She’s very posh and buys brands that I could never afford but she still seems very down to earth. 

Her and her husband live in the countryside with their Bengal Cat and new Dachshund pup and their house (at least on YouTube) looks gorgeous and her decor style is right up my alley. Again, a lot of what she buys is not in my budget, but I’ve been able to get some more affordable options that are inspired by her choices. A little shout out to her husband Ali Gordon as well who does amazing creative content with Reels, definitely worth a follow as well! She also has a blog which I haven’t gotten to read a lot, but the posts that I have read are very well written. She’s a very positive and lighthearted person and that’s why I continue to enjoy her social media.

Instagram – @lydiamillen 

YouTube – @Lydia Elise Millen 

Blog – lydiaelisemillen.com

Victoria Magrath (In The Frow)

Victoria is very similar to Lydia Millen but more fashion focused. She is also in the UK and has the cutest little dachshund named Boe. Her style is very vibrant and colourful which is not really my style and again very out of my price range, but she pulls it off beautifully. She’s a very positive upbeat person and very creative with her content. Her Reels on Instagram is what caught my interest the most, I know Reels are fairly new but she has already mastered the art of them.

She has a big educational background in fashion marketing and it really shines through in her content and her name is actually very clever (I didn’t know what it meant until one of her recent Q&As on her Insta Stories). Frow is apparently a fashion world term for front row (at a fashion show), so In The Frow is definitely suitable for her social media platforms. Her blogs are also very enjoyable to read, she’s got a very conversational way of writing that I hope to master one day. 

Instagram – @inthefrow

YouTube – @Inthefrow

Blog – inthefrow.com

Shawn Johnson 

Most of the world knows Shawn Johnson as the USA Olympic Athlete, and now she’s a mom to a beautiful baby girl with baby number two on the way. I started following her when I was pregnant with Baby T and she was pregnant with her baby Drew. She gave birth a few months before me and the YouTube videos that her and her husband put out were so helpful with so many things. 

I think the nice thing about following her is that we’re about the same age and we’re in the same stage as life so the information and tips that she shares are very relatable and helpful. She’s not afraid to show you the good, the bad and the ugly and I think we all need someone like that on our feeds. She also just beat Covid-19 while being pregnant which is pretty bad ass. 

Instagram – @shawnjohnson

YouTube – @The East Family

Heidi Somers (Buffbunny)

I’ve been following Heidi since back in my gym crazy days. My husband and I used to go 4 nights a week together to the gym and I would spend a lot of my free time looking up new workouts to try and learning from people like Heidi who have been doing it a lot longer than I had (this was before Baby T). Not only does she write great workout programs (some of which are free), she also started a clothing brand in her house which has now grown to a thriving business called Buffbunny Collection. They make, hands down, the best leggings I’ve ever purchased. 

Not only is she a killer Boss Lady, she also seems very sweet and positive in all of her content. She’s always smiling and joking around which makes her YouTube channel very easy to watch. She’s also from Alaska originally so when she goes to visit her family the footage on her videos is breathtaking! I wouldn’t say I have a lot in common with her anymore since I don’t go to the gym as much but she’s still one of my favourites to follow and her latest free workout program is a goodie!

Instagram – @buffbunny/@buffbunnycollection

YouTube – @Heidi Somers 

Website – buffbunny.com

travel

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. 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
lifestyle, Momblog, travel

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/

lifestyle, Momblog, travel

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! 

lifestyle, Momblog

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! 

lifestyle

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. 

lifestyle, Momblog

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. 

lifestyle, Momblog

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?

lifestyle, Uncategorized

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/

Uncategorized

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

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
Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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

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
Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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

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
Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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

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
travel

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