When the Garbage Trucks in Town

My boys are big fans of the garbage truck.

Big fans.

You know how Kayne loves Kanye? That’s basically how my boys feel about the garbage truck.

The garbage truck is king.

The garbage truck is the centre of the universe.

Now, I always imagined what we would do if we come across their one true love in the flesh.

I imagined it would be as follows:

1. Wave.
2. Look.
3. Move on with our day.

But that’s not how kids work, you guys. That’s not how Kanye loves Kanye.

When you meet your idol you gotta go all in. You don’t just wave and look.

So today, when the garbage truck passed us on the streets, I did what any sane mother would do for her kids, I chased that sucker through our entire neighbourhood while hauling my kids behind me in their wagon.

You should know, I was a track and field superstar ages 11-13. I had participation medals plastered all over my walls.

But chasing a garbage truck in the dead of winter is an entirely different ball game, guys. It’s no basic track and field meet.

First of all, the trail of smells made me gag. Hard. And as I was gagging the cold winter air was literally setting my lungs on fire.

As I gasped for stinky, cold air I continued to press on, hopping over puddles, dragging 50 pounds, maybe 55 – there were full diapers – of impatient and ecstatic little boys in a not-exactly all terrain little red wagon behind me.

Finally, FINALLY, after brute force and determination, we caught up to the darn garbage truck.

And wanna know what my boys did?

Nothing.

They did nothing.

They stood frozen in stardom.

They hardly made eye contact with the big, beautiful stinky beast before them.

And I nearly lost a lung.

Now, we’re back home. I’ve only thrown up once from overexertion and my boys haven’t stopped talking about the garbage truck we chased down this morning.

So, if you live in my neighbourhood and saw a lady in a big red coat running wild with a little red wagon behind her, that was me just trying to catch the garbage truck.

BIG, BIG NEWS ALERT

IT’S HAPPENING!

You know how people tell you that you should shoot for your dreams? This year, after far too long of mulling over it, I went for it. I launched myself towards them and I didn’t look back.

I’m so excited (and quite honestly, in a bit of disbelief) to announce that I’ve signed with an AGENT and MY BOOK is officially underway. It was written about motherhood for YOU. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, it’ll look a lot like what you see here – and I hope you’ll love it.

My agent and I had a chit-chat this morning about next steps, and he will be pitching it to publishers come January.

Keep your fingers crossed, send your prayers, and your best vibes.

I’m so excited to share the next stretch of this journey with you and am forever grateful for your support and friendship. ❤️

All my love, always.
A

P. S I see you, Maxwell.

Holiday Toy Guide for the Kid Who Doesn’t Need Toys

I know…the title is a bit contradictory – but hear me out.

We have family members who would love to give our boys a gift this Christmas. And I have to admit, I don’t want to take that away from them. I want them to be able to give our boys something special – it may even be something our boys grow to fondly remember years down the road.

I’m the first to threaten to throw the next toy through my door straight into our donation bin – but I’ve decided to be a bit flexible this time of year.

We’re raising our boys with important morals and values. We’re raising them to understand the true meaning behind this magical holiday season and all that comes with it. With that being said, I’ve put together a list of vetted toys that I will allow to enter our home.

If you’re looking for a list to pass along, this may suit your criteria the way that it suits mine.

Music

The Melissa and Doug Learn-to-Play Piano.

We’re huge fans of music in our home, and our living room often transforms into a dance floor. When I was a kid, my favourite Christmas gift and past time was playing the piano. This colorful upright piano features 25 keys and two full octaves. The littlest musicians will enjoy exploring concepts of high and low notes, loud and soft. More experienced “maestros” can follow the color-coded songbook to learn nine child-friendly favorites!

Learn-to-Play Piano

Melissa and Doug Band-in-a-Box

Again, music. I’m supportive of all things music in the home (as long as it’s not drums). I think it’s a wonderful way for our kids to express themselves – and this Band in a Box musical instrument set has everything preschoolers need to form a kids’ marching band, launch a solo career, or just enjoy exploring music and sounds! The set includes a tambourine, cymbals, maracas, clacker, tone blocks, and a triangle, plus a sturdy wooden storage crate. Strike up the band and spark a lifelong love of music with this unique wooden set of wooden instruments.

Band-in-a-Box - Clap! Clang! Tap!

Imaginary Play

Melissa and Doug Let’s Play House! 

Okay – can you tell that I love Melissa and Doug yet? Their toys are durable and made from wood and designed to spark imagination and wonder. They’re really some of my favourites. This adorable little cleaning set is one of the top items on our list. Our two-year-old loves to help me clean and while I have no problem handing him the vacuum, there are some chores that should be left for mum and dad. This six-piece play set gives kids all the housekeeping tools they need to keep it clean! Sized just for kids and built to last, the broom, mop, duster, dust pan, and hand brush are comfortable to use and easy to store–just hang them from the sturdy cords onto the included stand for neat, compact storage. (The dust pan can also snap onto any of the handles.) Natural-wood handles add durability and a classic look; bright pops of color keeps lots of fun in the mix!

Let's Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop!

Developmental

Lace & Trace Pets 

Perfect for developing fine motor skills (and super affordable), this wooden set contains five sturdy, double-sided lacing panels, plus five color-coordinated laces! Develop hand-eye coordination and attention skills with this great activity.

Lace & Trace Pets

Construction Building Set 

Again, our two-year-old really loves to figure out how things work. He’s in this phase where he likes to take things apart and put them back together again. To keep him from taking a door off of its frame, we’ve put this construction set on our wish list. With 48 wooden pieces (including nuts, bolts, drilled bars to connect, and a child-size screwdriver), this classic building set gives kids all they need to tinker and build! Printed right on the sturdy storage box are building plans for a crane, motorcycle, airplane, and race car to get the fun started. With some imagination and a few creative twists and turns, kids can make hundreds more amazing structures, too! Any time kids play with this durable set, they’ll be building fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. Included extension activities guide parents to educational activities that also build early math skills.

Construction Building Set in a Box

Outdoor

Okay – this one is pricey – but if some family members wanted to go in on this together, this would be our top gift. All I ever wanted as a kid was one of those electric ride on cars – they were the coolest. Should someone feel inclined, we’re in LOVE with this double ride on (with seat belts) Peg Preggo Polaris.

The all-new Polaris Ranger RZR 900 is the perfect riding vehicle for kids who want to have fun! They’ll drive around the yard in their own RZR, hauling everything imaginable in their large sport bed with tie-down anchors. Foot pedal with automatic brakes. The 2-speed shifter with reverse allows them to drive at 2½ or 5 mph on grass, dirt or hard surfaces. Parents will appreciate the adjustable bucket seats and the 5 mph lockout that prevents beginners from going too fast. 1

Radio Flyer Wagon

With two boys and a lot of crap to haul around, we asked for this red Radio Flyer Wagon last year and have been in love. It’s perfect for bringing to parks, picnics, and even for a spin around the block.  We really love the protective cover to keep the boys safe from the sun, and the storage compartment under the seats make it easy to pack snacks and drinks.

he Radio Flyer Deluxe All-Terrain Family Wagon is designed with air tires for a smooth ride, and a UV blocking canopy for sun protection. With features that make it a very versatile wagon, there is endless fun. The 5 seating and storage options include: 1. seating for two, 2. flatbed, 3. covered storage & ride, 4. activity surface, and 5. XL storage & ride. The wagon also features seatbelts for safety, child and adult cup holders, and a fold-over handle for easy storage.

Radio Flyer Deluxe All-Terrain Family Wagon Ride On, Red

 

I Won’t Miss the Mess

Fun fact: I cleaned my house yesterday.

Like spent a solid few hours cleaning my house.

I did the tidying thing.

The vacuuming thing.

Heck, I even did the wiping the finger prints off of every surface thing.

Things looked good yesterday night. Someone could “drop-in” and I wouldn’t be ashamed.

My house was cozy and my mind was calm.

Man, does a clean house make my mind calm.

But then this morning the boys woke up in a needy mood.

Which is meant we were going to be late for our morning plans.

Which meant I would be rushing.

Which meant I wouldn’t be putting things away as I went.

Which also meant the boys would be tearing things apart as a way to express their frustration and get my attention.

So, everything I did yesterday? All those hours I put in? You wouldn’t even know.

I mean look at this.

The diapers on the floor. The tree missing ornaments. The random pieces of cardboard and clothing scattered about. Not to mention the banana smooshed into the floor and milk spilled on the couch.

Anxiety.

This is what my anxiety looks like in the physical form.

This is what my mind looks like trying to keep up with everything on my plate.

Look, you can tell me that one day I won’t have little munchkins to clean up after.

I get it.

I cherish my moments.

But this living in a constant state of chaos thing? It’s killing my nerves.

This constantly cleaning and stepping on toys and feeling like I’m always in the middle of the same mess, drains me.

My husband pulls his weight.

I pull my weight.

We have bins and storage compartments and we tidy every. single. day.

But we can’t keep up.

Not in this season of life.

With two youngsters, ages two and ten months, we tend to find ourselves up to our elbows in stuff. Physical stuff, emotional stuff, financial stuff, just stuff.

And we try to purge and we try to maintain and we try to manage.

But there never seems to be enough time. There always seems to be something else.

There’s always stuff.

Quite honestly, this season of parenting looks a lot like my living room. It’s a lot of disorganized chaos.

And every day I give my best and honest effort.

Some days it falls apart.

Some days we keep it together.

Some days it looks like actual humans live here rather than a village of monkeys.

Look, I get it.

I get what you’re thinking and I know it, too.

I’ll miss having my babies tiny.

But man, guys. I don’t think I’m gonna miss the mess.

Actually, I know I won’t miss the mess.

Because the mess sucks me dry.

It takes up my time and then creeps back up on me on the bad days.

It’s reflective of the days I simply can’t handle the chaos.

It’s my Achilles.

I can honestly, without a doubt say – I’ll miss my tiny munchkins rummaging on the floor but I sure as hell won’t miss the mess.

Shame the Shamers

I have something to say this morning outside of my typical mumblings.

Some may not like it, some might, but I feel like it needs to be said.

In recent weeks I’ve seen my words all over the internet which has been a huge blessing.

But with a larger reach comes a larger audience and not everyone is as kind as the people on this page.

I’m all about telling it like it is in my day-to-day.

Some people can relate, some can’t.

Which is normal because motherhood is different for everyone.

Some of us have joyous pregnancies, for others, it can be messy, scary, or even heartwrenching.

Labour and delivery is full of the unexpected with the end result always being some type of recovery for mom.

Then comes motherhood and our beautiful baby.

Some of us have the baby that latches, sleeps, coos, and smiles.

Some of us navigate colic, and nursing struggles, and have appointments lined up every two days.

Some of us have it “easy” and have postpartum depression.

Some of us have it “hard” and have postpartum depression.

My point is it doesn’t matter how it happens or why it happens or how hard it is or how easy it is we still need to feel loved and supported.

Last night I scrolled through the comments on a post and my heart sank.

“This woman clearly needs help.”

“She’s obviously battling PPD. I feel so sorry for her. Someone help her.”

“Ladies, her kids might be really challenging.”

“She’s so selfish to think she should come first.”

And on and on and on…

The thing that riles me up the most – a lot of these women are mothers and sadly, the mom war lives.

I shake these comments off. I know who I am. But I worry about the other mothers reading these comments.

Here’s the thing – not everyone is going to be kind and supportive and understanding in this big old world of ours but never EVER let that shame you.

Never EVER let that stop you from sharing your feelings and finding the friend who gets it.

Never EVER let that stop you from asking for help.

Do you know how many “me toos” I’ve heard since starting this page?

Do you know how many private messages I get a week saying “that’s how I feel but I’m too ashamed to say it.”

Never EVER feel shame.

Motherhood is full of ups and downs, highs and lows and everything in between.

On the good days, we forget the bad.

On the bad days, we forget the good.

Let’s not forget there are people who understand what you’re feeling, whatever your case may be. You just need to find them. And the only way you can find them is by sharing and by speaking up.

And for what it’s worth – that mother who appears to have postpartum isn’t crazy. She’s one of the one million women who walk this path.

She needs the world to see that she’s human. She loves her babies and her life, her family and herself. She loves to laugh, she loves to cook, and she loves a good Hallmark movie, but sometimes the days are dark – and there’s nothing crazy about that. If anything, that deserves a “me too.”

The Upside of Down

Some of you may not know I have a job outside of wiping butts and boogers.

It’s true, there’s a life outside of cutting cheese into hearts and having an audience watch you pee.

During naps and after bedtimes, sometimes at three in the morning, I work on a magazine that I’m the editor of.

I’m also writing a book… And I work as a freelance writer putting together nifty little articles for some of your favourite spaces on the internet.

If you asked me when I became a mom if I could handle doing the working-mom-thing, the answer would’ve been no.

If you asked me when I actually went back to work after my first born, I would’ve broken down and cried in your arms.

At the time, it wasn’t right for me – but neither was the job.

I’ve been spending my entire life trying to find my place.

Navigating this big old world, trying to define myself, and redefine myself, and redefine myself once more as the world tells me I need to be more like “her”, more like “them”, more like that “mom”.

I’ve lost myself so many times trying to find the place I thought I had to be or be the person I thought I should be, that I completely lost sight of who I was and what I wanted.

The truth is, I love being home with my babies – but I also love being Anneliese. An ambitious, creative woman with a passion to better this world.

And what’s even more? I’m a better mom when I get to be that woman.

Working all hours of the night on my passions and all hours of the day on my babies can drain my soul sometimes – but it also lights a fire within me.

It pushes me closer towards the woman I always wanted to be.

When you start shushing the noise and start listening to your soul, your life comes alive.

And who would’ve thought I would’ve learned all that in a pit of darkness?

But sometimes, there’s an upside to down.

Moms Need Attention, Too

After my boys were born, there were appointments.

To check their latch.

To check their weight.

To check their hearing.

To check the colour of their skin for signs of jaundice.

There were appointments.

There were regular pokes and prods.

Their well-being was front and centre.

I’d say, when it comes to our health-care system, they were well taken care of.

Then there was me.

A first-time mom without a clue.

Engorged, bleeding, and stitched up.

Sent home with some painkillers and stool softeners.

Thrown into motherhood with the expectation my instincts would kick in.

That I would know how to handle colic and late night feedings.

That breastfeeding would come as nature intended.

That my husband would sense my spiral into depression.

That I would know how to live in my new and very foreign body.

That this stomach wouldn’t make me feel hideous.

And my mind wouldn’t make me feel less than they deserved.

No one poked me.

No one proded.

No one checked my stitches, my healing, or my sanity until eight weeks postpartum.

And even then, it was a pat on the back and I was sent on my way.

Our world forgets about mothers.

We slip through the cracks.

We become background noise.

And in that, we learn our role… our place in our family unit… to always come last.

Folks, we can’t put mothers last.

Our babies need us.

To be healthy.

To know that we are worthy.

To know that Motherhood, while natural, can sometimes feel like the least natural role in our life.

And that deserves attention.

That mothers deserve attention.

We need our world to fuss over us the way they fuss over ten fresh fingers and ten fresh toes.

We need to be seen.

We need to be heard.

We need someone to not only ask if we’re okay but to check time and time again, just to be sure.

We’re not just a uterus.

We’re not just a lifeline to a new and precious soul.

We’re mothers.

And we need someone to make sure we’re ok, too.

 

This post first appeared on Grown Up Glamour by Anneliese Lawton.

#CraftMom

Does anyone else try to do the “fun mom” thing?

You know what I’m talking about.

Paint. Crayons. Glitter. Water. Sand. Play-doh.

That sort of stuff?

It always seems like a good idea. You think to yourself:

“Today. Yes! Today, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna be that mom. I’m gonna craft this shit out of this day.”

And you confidently strut to the craft closet, or bucket, or nook, and pull out all those cool goodies you picked up at the store after being inspired by a bomb caterpillar made out of nothing more than an egg carton and pipe cleaners.

Easy peasy.

Or, omgosh. You can paint a giant mural. Your little Picaso can put his tiny, sticky, crayon craving hands to good use.

Yes.

This day is gonna be so fun.

#craftmom

So you roll out a big and I mean BIG sheet of paper for your kid to colour all over. He can’t miss it. The floor will be saved.

And some water to paint with because it’s not messy.

Woo! Super fun.

Then your kid pours the entire bucket of water on his head.

Still colours on your floors.

Eats the crayon.

And leaves you with a giant friggen mess to clean up.

You wonder where the heck it all went wrong.

Was it the water? The crayons? The attempt to be #craftmom?

Somewhere it all went astray.

You vow to never to be #craftmom again.

Then lo and behold, one rainy Tuesday….

Just Wait

There were a lot of things I was afraid of when expecting our second baby. A lot of things.

The things I read and people I spoke with with told me to “just wait”. That life would change and never be the same.

That I’d be stretched thin. That my husband and I would pass like ships in the night. That I might lose myself.

Things I read and people I met also told me this when I was expecting my first.

And each time I anticipated the arrival of my baby with anxiety and questions. So many questions.

Then my baby arrived and every fear was put to rest. For a little while at least.

You see, what some people warn you about and say is true.

Some days will be hard, some days will be long, some nights will be longer.

There will be a day where it feels like the honeymoon phase has ended and this baby thing isn’t what you signed up for at all.

There will be a day where you lose your temper with your husband. A day where you feel lost. A day where you feel lonely. A day where you miss your freedom and thin waist. A day where you want to throw your hands up and leave.

And it’ll be hard for that day, or that week and you’ll think “they were right”. And maybe during that day or that week you’ll come across a new parent and tell them to “just wait” for what’s to come.

I was tempted to do that today. To take to my platform and complain about this week. This absolutely trying and horrible week.

But as an “experienced” parent (and I use that loosely), I know if I “just wait” we’ll eventually turn a corner. I know if I “just wait” my sick and clingy toddler will soon start giggling and playing. I know if I “just wait” I’ll grow more patient with my husband. I know if I “just wait” we’ll make it out of this parenting lull and there will be periods of beautiful things.

So, to the parents afraid of what’s to come, and to the parents meeting their match of what-is. Just wait. The clouds will break.

Mompreneur in the Spotlight: Oakville Family Birth

Last week Grown Up Glamour kicked off an exciting new series focused on celebrating mompreneurs. The series, targeted at moms wanting to leave the corporate world and begin their own business, is intended to empower mothers as they navigate the world of mother-hustling. Entrepreneurship comes with highs and lows, and when you give up everything to start your own business while also raising your family, those highs and lows are even more intense.   We want moms to understand that mother-hustling isn’t a “get rich quick” opportunity but it is an opportunity to create balance in their life – and turn their passion into something to be proud of.

This week we sat down with Jaklyn Andrews from Oakville Family Birth. Not only is Jaklyn a dear friend of mine and an incredible human, but she’s also a kind, compassionate and supportive doula who has helped many women (and parents) in their parenting journey.

Read more below for the inspiration behind Jaklyn’s career change – and how she keeps it all together while building her empire.

Tell us who you are.

I’m Jaklyn! I’m a doula and childbirth educator and I own Oakville Family Birth. I’m also a lucky wife and mama (two kids and a dog, the suburban dream!).

What inspired you to start your business?

Becoming a mother, of course 😉

I always knew I would hire a doula for birth support but I never imagined the kind of journey it would take me on. My first birth experience was really challenging, the opposite of what we were hoping for, and the support our doula provided truly changed my life. I knew in that instant that I was meant to do this. At the time I had a great career in public health research and I knew absolutely nothing about business…it was very confusing, to be honest. I couldn’t turn it off though, the passion I’d discovered. It took over a year of exploring options and finally heading back to work after maternity leave (that was rough!) to eventually make the jump.

Tell us about your business.

There are a lot of misconceptions around doula work, so I’ll start with the very basics: a doula is kind of like a best friend who knows a lot about pregnancy, birth, recovery and baby care. We support families throughout the perinatal period as they prepare for and welcome their babies. Doulas listen, guide, teach, coach, and help expectant parents and young families. It’s physical, emotional, mental, and also practical support. A doula’s job is to make life easier for their clients through all the highs and lows of pregnancy, birth, and parenting.

I created Oakville Family Birth to support all kinds of families, all kinds of births, and all kinds of parenting choices. That’s my bottom line…I’m passionate about providing truly non-judgmental support. As my business grows, I plan to bring on other doulas and other birth and parenting professionals who share that passion.

What are the skills a mompreneur must have in order to be successful?

The first thing that comes to mind is organizational skills. Having systems in place to keep you, your business and your family on track can be the difference between success and failure.

Next is discipline. You will have to make sacrifices for the greater goal. You’ll have say no to some fun stuff and slug through some not fun stuff to get to the other side.

Finally, confidence. Yes, confidence is a skill! At the risk of sounding dramatic, google it… it changed my life.

How do you manage your time effectively (both with your kids and with your work)?

I’ll let you know as soon as I figure that out! I’m half-kidding.

I use a combination of part-time daycare, back up child care, friends and family and a little bit of Netflix (#sorrynotsorry) to get everything done. I also work for a few hours every night after bedtime. My husband is the main reason our household is still running but lately we’ve been considering outsourcing some of that.

I’ve become pretty good at time blocking. I have specific times for working when I hustle hard and tune out everything else. The same goes for family time: I try to be “all-in” when I’m with my little crew so that everyone’s love tank stays full.

Being on-call for births requires a few extra layers of organization. Any given day, our bags are packed and we’re ready to get where we need to go so that I can be with my clients when they need me. My kids are amazing and go with the flow, for the most part.

What’s the most difficult thing about growing your empire? What’s the best?

The highs and lows can be difficult. If you’re going to do this, you’re going to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. On your toughest days, you might regret the whole thing and wish you could go back to your old life (your pre-entrepreneur life and possibly even your pre-baby life!). What I’ve found helpful is to celebrate every little win – every website visitor, every inquiry, every client. Stay humble but hungry, as they say.

The best for me is calling all the shots. I can take on more or less at any given time, depending on what’s happening in the other parts of my life. I spend more time with my kids than I would have if I stayed on the path I was going down. Also I LOVE my job, so there’s that.

What role has social media played in growing your brand? What other marketing tactics do you use?

Social media has played a huge part in growing my brand from the beginning. Although my target market is local (Halton/Hamilton/Peel), I use social to share broader messages of encouragement, realness and self-love for young parents and parents-to-be.

I also make it a priority to be out in the community, forming genuine relationships and helping out other small businesses.

What tips would you give to moms wanting to leave their corporate job to launch their empire?

Believe in yourself! From the bottom of my heart, I know you can do it. You have something unique to offer that no one else can duplicate so trust that there is room for you in the market, get out there and show people who you are. Anyone can do this if they’re willing to work hard enough.

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Follow along with Jaklyn and Oakville Family Birth 

Website: www.oakvillefamilybirth.com

Social Media Pages:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/oakvillefamilybirth

Facebook: www.facebook.com/oakvillefamilybirth

Contact Information: hello@oakvillefamilybirth.com / (289) 813-4363

Are you a mompreneur with an inspiring story? Contact us to be featured.