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.

Advertisements

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

 

The Problem with Mental Health Care: How Our System is Failing Mothers (and Everyone Else for that Matter)

As many of you know, I’m an open book. I’ll openly talk about my uterus, breastfeeding and  discuss the mistakes I’ve made over the course of my life. It’s why I started this blog. To share as a way to help myself heal, remind myself to laugh, and to hopefully inspire others do the same along the way. While I usually don’t leave anything off limits, I’ve never found the courage to openly discuss…the real me.

Every once and awhile I feel inspired to disclose my secret when I read a story by one of the many people who live, feel and experience life the way I do, yet I can never put my thoughts into words quite as eloquently. Because let’s be honest, anxiety and mental illness is hardly ever eloquent. Whether this comes out as beautifully written as a Shakespeare play or as confusing as a grade one journal entry, it’s time to create something with these words.

While I’m sure  through initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk Day and campaigns from the Canadian Mental Health Association you’ve become aware that mental health patients have few resources in our country, you may not be aware that our system is completely failing them.  Each and every day people seek help and fall tragically through the cracks. While you read this, here are some important stats to keep in mind:

  • 1.2 million Canadian children live with mental illness
  • In any given year, 1 in 5 adults in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness, but only 1 in 3 will receive treatment
  • 1 in 13 women report experiencing depression during the postpartum period

Mental health has long been recognized as a fundamental aspect of one’s health, however under our current health regime the majority of mental health services do not meet the eligibility requirement of “medically necessary.” Unless received in a hospital, psychological services must be paid for out-of-pocket or covered by private third-party insurance. This means that weekly visits to psychiatrics or counsellors come at one’s own expense. With the burden of paying for one’s mental health left to the individual, it is not surprising that so many Canadians put mental health concerns on the backburner.

We can’t do this anymore. We need to take a stand. 

So, here I am taking my stand and calling bullshit on the whole system.

Three weeks ago I was faced with a daze and emptiness I haven’t experienced in a very long time. Be it the collective emotions that came with my new role as a working mom, prolonged sleep deprivation and pregnancy hormones or hell, just the stress of living and thriving in our social media dominant, mess of a world, something caused me to die a little inside.

In a moment of desperation, I put my life on pause – an opportunity moms rarely have. I called in sick to work, brought my son to daycare and went home for a date with Netflix, a cup of coffee and my couch. Instead, when I walked in my house I wrapped myself in a blanket and I cried. I cried and cried, then sobbed, and then I hit rock bottom.

You should know, this is not a good time for me to lose it. I have a loving and supportive husband, a beautiful and healthy son, a silly and quirky dog (yes, I love you too, Louie) and a little bean inside my belly – all of them need me. Now is not the time for my mind, body and soul to scream “I’ve had enough.” But you can’t argue with truth.

As much as I want to wallow in self pity, life doesn’t pause and let you heal. Bills need to be paid and babies need to be snuggled. In an attempt to nip this overwhelming sense of… well….feeling overwhelmed, I did something I never do and asked for help.

I Googled “support for moms in Halton Region”, and results flooded my screen. There were mommy support groups, a crisis hotline, even a warm line at a local hospital that provides 24 hour support to moms in the first year of their child’s life. All incredible resources, right? I thought so too. Then I started dialing.

Between tears, I dialed numbers, trying to find a program to help me cope with all the unorganized thoughts and emotions flying through my mind.

I’ll save you my feedback on the 7 publicly funded organizations I reached out to – in short, they have a lot of work to do.

While initially it seemed like there was a world of help and support for an overwhelmed, new-ish mom like me, there really isn’t. At some point along the way, each and every resource let me down. They listened to me through tears, told me self-care was critical, and failed to provide any resources they promised to.

And here’s the sad part, I’m not alone. People used to say that it takes a village to raise a child. Today, some of us are lucky to have support from our extended family but this village you hear of costs approximately $2000+ a month in daycare costs, maids, nannys, therapy, takeout and bottles of wine (when mommy has just had enough).

Our society today provides moms with little to no support. We literally grow and birth a baby, get a high five and are sent on our way. No one prepares us for the worry (is my baby eating enough? are they happy? is their poop supposed to be that colour? why are they crying? why aren’t they crying? what is that spot on their leg? THEY HAVE THE MEASLES!). No one prepares us for the weeks, months, sometimes years of being up around the clock. No one prepares us for breastfeeding failure, drifting from our friends and partner, or coping with zero – and I mean ZERO time for ourselves. No one prepares us for the work + life + baby balance.  No one prepares us. We’re expected to shower, smile, eat, stay fit, work, clean, maintain romance, maintain friendships, maintain our eyebrows, raise a tiny army, run an envy worthy Instagram page AND stay sane through it all? Nope. Not happening. Maybe I’m doing something totally wrong. Maybe I expect too much of myself – but this whole system isn’t working for me.

There needs to be more resources.

There needs to be more support.

And we can’t continue to treat mental illness like a separate entity to our health.  It’s not.

Our mind is our being, it’s apart of who we are and it’s a big part of how we love, laugh, function and remain healthy day to day. Our country can’t continue to turn a blind eye to the millions of children, adults and mothers who silently struggle every day, trying their very best not to lose it.

With all that being said, here’s my call to action: if you feel the way I feel, I encourage you to speak about it. More importantly, I encourage you to tell all levels of government about it. Demand they make changes to our system and stop failing our people. In the meantime, I encourage you to be kind to others, to kind to yourself and to bring back the village.

7 Reasons You Should Have Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Life

Plain and simple, I love vinegar. There are literally hundreds of uses for it. From cleaning your floors and counters to drizzling it on your salad, vinegar is natures secret weapon.

Apple cider vinegar in particular has been cited as the cure-all for decades. It has a wind range of benefits and some people have turned to it to help with health concerns including diabetes, high cholesterol and weight issues. Each and every day as part of my morning routine I take one tablespoon of Bragg raw apple cider vinegar. I’m actually pretty fond of the taste but if a shot of straight vinegar makes you as squeamish as a shot of straight vodka then I recommend mixing the vinegar with water. On the other hand, vodka pairs nicely with orange juice – but I digress.

Here are 7  of the many reasons you need raw apple cider vinegar in your life today!

  1. Lowers Blood Sugar
    By far, the most successful use of apple cider vinegar is to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.  Please speak with your doctor before using apple cider vinegar if you’re already on medication to lower your blood sugar.
  2. Help with Tummy Troubles
    Have an upset stomach? Apple cider vinegar can help alleviate some of the symptoms due to it’s acidity. Studies have proven it’s effectiveness for treating heartburn, acid reflux and improve digestion when mixed with water.
  3. It Could Help Lower Cholesterol 
    More research is needed to confirm whether apple cider vinegar is effective in lowering cholesterol – however, a study in Japan found that a half once a day lowered cholesterol in participants.
  4. Clears a Stuffy Nose & Ease a Sore Throat
    Apple cider vinegar contains potassium which helps thin mucus. The acidic properties are also helpful in preventing germ growth. Next time you find yourself fighting a cold, mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with water to clear your sinuses.
  5. Aids in Wight Loss
    Trying to trim your waist? Add apple cider vinegar to your daily ritual!The acetic acid suppresses your appetite, increases your metabolism, and reduces water retention.
  6. Boots Energy 
    Before you reach for the coffee to get you through the afternoon hump, try drinking 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water. Between the potassium, enzymes and amio acids, it’s the perfect recipe for a pick me up!
  7. Banishes Bad Breath
    Gargle it or drink it to kill odor-causing bacteria!

Mindfulness for Happier Minds

You’ve probably heard the term mindfulness being thrown around lately. Although it may seem like the newest fad, it’s actually been something that’s been around for a really long time.

With Millennials being the most-stressed out generation in recent decades, it was only a matter of time before this method of reducing stress came front and center in the media.

Research shows that mindfulness works. It can help you be happier, healthier and reduce stress. But if you’re like me, you probably think the whole idea of mindfulness is down right weird. Or, you may  think it does absolutely nothing.

Let’s start with the science.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a microbiology Ph.D. then teaching at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, was inspired in the late 1970s to apply the basic principles of mindfulness meditation to patients in a medical setting. His studies found that mindfulness was effective in helping alleviate the suffering of chronic and previously debilitating medical conditions such as chronic pain. Further studies have shown that the ways we intentionally shape our internal focus of attention in mindfulness practice induces a state of brain activation during the practice. With repetition, an intentionally created state can become an enduring trait of the individual as reflected in long-term changes in brain function and structure.

Okay, now let me break it down for you: mindfulness is a powerful and effective tool that can rewire your brain. As a result you can:

  • Improve learning, memory and cognitive function
  • Reduce anxiety and depressive episodes
  • Alleviate Stress
  • Reduce distraction

In even simpler terms, you’ll be calm, refreshed and happy.

Sounds convincing but…

You don’t have the time.

You don’t have the energy.

You still think it’s weird.

Let me tell you something…

Not picking up a phone and calling people anymore is weird.

Seeing someone on the street you never met but know their whole life-story based off their Instagram page is weird.

Investing in your health and happiness by doing nothing is totally not weird!

Trust me on this one. Mindfulness and meditation have completely changed my life and my attitude (ask my husband). The easiest way to get started is to have someone talk you through a session. For the days I can’t get out of the house and make it to a physical class, I love the Headspace app. It’s free, it’s wonderful and it works.

Namaste