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.

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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

 

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.

Honestly, I Don’t Care How You Feed Your Baby, But I Want You To Know This…

Last week The Honest Company approached me and asked if I wanted join them in a conversation about one of the most intimate and important experiences in a family’s life: feeding their newborn baby. Without hesitation, I said yes. Honest presents judgement free stories on its blog covering moms from every walk of life. Today I share my story and a letter to parents in hopes to end the judgement and stigma that comes with the personal choices families make to feed their baby.

Before I dive into my raw and real  experience, I’d like to say I’m not here to argue breast isn’t best. Instead, I’m here to shed some light on why breast wasn’t exactly best for my family under our circumstances. I would never encourage or discourage a mother from breastfeeding, pumping, or formula feeding. I’m 100% in favor of supporting moms by advising them to do what they feel is best for their baby and family. It’s my hope in sharing my story that a mommy in need, a mommy who feels like a failure when it comes to feeding her infant, will know she’s not alone.

Dear Mommies,

Congratulations on your beautiful ray of light. You’ve just started one of the most incredible chapters in your life. With all new roles, this one comes with a period of learning. Actually, there’s a good chance you’ll never stop learning – and you’ll grow stronger because of it.

I was where you are only nine short months ago. I was living (and continue to live) a life that no amount of reading, watching videos or joining Facebook groups could have prepared me for.

I’m a mom who had a baby that was unable to latch – and there was nothing that could have prepared me for it. Most of my reading and most of my encounters with medical professionals, peers and family prepared me for breastfeeding my baby. No one ever mentioned failure. Of course, there was the option to choose other methods, though these methods were hardly addressed or explained to me.

As a new mom,  I was afraid of wronging my son and I was afraid of not giving him the best. Through pressure from myself and the fear of being judged, I sacrificed my sanity and well-being to make breastfeeding work.

I could talk to you about the visits I had with lactation consultants, months I spent attached to a breast pump, suck training, syringe feeding, jaundice, formula and nipple shields.  I could also talk to you about the the guilt, anxiety, frustration and heartache that came with the decisions I had to make to keep my son fed and nourished. However, I’m here to talk to you as a mom on the flip side of all of that. I’m the mom that has done it all – and every step of the way I felt some type of pressure, stress or guilt.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if one, some or all of these options work for you and your family. Sometimes, as much as we prepare,  life has a different plan and pushes us in a different direction than we initially imagined.

Whatever direction life has pushed you in when it comes to feeding your child, whether it’s what you expected or what you’ve had to resort to, as long as you are nourishing your child, keeping them fed and loving them endlessly, you as a parent are doing your job.

The best you can give your child is accepting your circumstances and making it work. Show them you can overcome adversity, adjust to change and go with the flow.

If there’s one thing I learned from crying on the bathroom floor at three in the morning from emotional and physical exhaustion, it’s that my choices were driven by love, not logic.

In all your parenting triumphs and struggles, there is someone else out there who gets it – and as one of them, I want to say I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for doing your absolute best.

In closing, I want to introduce you to my nine month old son, Jack.

See his smile? It’s not a result or being fed formula or breast milk, bottle or boob, his smile is a result of love. For for first week of his life he was fed breast milk by a syringe. For the first three months of his life, he was fed through a bottle filled with breast milk I pumped around the clock. From months three through four, he exclusively breast fed after finally latching completely out of the blue. From months four through six, he was fed both formula and breast milk as I struggled to maintain my supply. And lastly from months six and onward, he’s been formula fed (along with purees of his favourite Italian dishes) after my supply complexity dried up.

My biggest goal as a parent is to raise Jack to always be compassionate, kind and gentle. How he was fed as an infant will have never come up on first dates, university applications or job interviews. It has no indication of the type of person he is or will grow up to be.

Together, lets stop making moms feel isolated, hopeless and judged as they navigate uncharted water and raise their families. Lets answer questions rather than offer advice, lets offer support rather than sympathy, and lets be the generation of moms who end the mom war.

We’re all in this together, we may just be doing it a little differently.

Wishing you sleep + happiness,
Annie

Jack’s First Thanksgiving

This is a year of firsts for us. For Jack, everything is a first – which is why I’ve been trying my hardest to make each holiday extra special (even though my son will remember none of it). Earlier this month we dedicated an entire week to celebrating Thanksgiving. Lord help this child when Christmas rolls around. Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. Growing up, my parents would load our kick-ass, boxed style mini-van with a turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. There is only one Thanksgiving I recall not being there – a weekend when my Dad threw his back out, and coincidentally, our hamster Molly kicked the bucket (R.I.P).

The first year Dave joined our family for Thanksgiving at the cottage was in 2012. We were just two early-20-something’s in love.

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First came love, then came marriage, then came our dog Louie, and THEN a baby carriage.

To celebrate Jack’s first Thanksgiving and our first year of marriage, Dave took a week off of work, and I went into overdrive planning excursions.

We packed our small, hatchback Volkswagen with turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. We continued the tradition of spending Thanksgiving at the cottage.

20161009_110637 The cottage is home. It’s a structure that has weaved its way into my heart in way that could never unravel. I hope to weave this piece of my heart into Jack’s.

We spent three peaceful, warm autumn days laying fireside, watching movies, and hiking the wilderness (that’s really not that wild).

20161009_134305From there, Dave and I did the unthinkable.  We abandoned our 9 week old baby to spend a night alone celebrating our first wedding anniversary…in Blue Moutain. Fear not. He was with my totally-obsessed-with-their-first-grandchild parents, and I’d bet he was completely and totally smothered with love and kisses.

We started our night away with a beer tour at the Collingwood Brewery, a small, quite brewery about 20 minutes outside of Blue Mountain. I had the sampler – and after five small tasting flights felt like a 17 year old with their first taste of freedom.

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Childless and ready to party, Dave and I checked into the hotel and quickly made our way into The Village for an early dinner. After pounding pasta covered with primavera and washing it down with a cold glass of water, I crawled my way into bed at 9 o’clock (after pumping to keep my supply up, of course  – #momlife).

The next morning we grabbed a coffee and jetted up the mountain for an early morning hike.

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About a quarter-way up the mountain we stopped and hugged while we stood in silence. Between the chaos of a newborn and adjusting to life as parents, we remembered how to love but we forgot how to hug. Standing there with the sun beating on my back and my arms around my man was one of the most calming moments I’ve had in these last two and a half months.

After 18 hours of being away from our sweet, baby Jack, we craved him. Ditching our afternoon plans, we ventured home to scoop our kin from his dotting grandparents. “Do you think he missed me?” I asked Dave. “Of course” he replied. “Do you think he loves me?” I asked Dave. “Yes, he loves you” he smiled.

I showed up at my parents with tears flowing from my eyes… and my baby barely blinked.

To wrap up the week we did something I’ve always looked forward to – baby or not – pumpkin picking. Although this year I looked forward to it more than any year before. What two month old isn’t dying to pick a pumpkin? The answer: all two month olds, especially mine:

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We got a cute family photo –  though, Jack was less than impressed.

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To me, Jack’s first Thanksgiving was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It laid the foundation for tradition, gave this momma some much needed time to relax, and created some beautiful memories – that we will always keep in our heart and Jack can one day admire through photos.

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Jack | One Month Old

Dear Jack,

Today you are one month old. Life before you seems like a distant memory. Adjusting to having you in our world rather than in my tummy has been one of the most incredible experiences your Dad and I have had the privilege living. This isn’t to go without saying that having a newborn hasn’t been a lot of work.

Our new life has been complicated, messy and often unpredictable. Your Dad has quickly grown to resemble a member of the Nascar pit-crew. He approaches a diaper change with speed, precision and great care – constantly challenging his time  and improving on his method to avoid and combat disaster. While I on the other hand have quickly grown to resemble my pre-teen self. I enjoy 2 hour windows of sleep, have my very own brand of eau due parfum and wear pajamas as if they’re “what’s hot” this season. There are nights I seem to rock you endlessly, as you press against my chest while I whisper lullabys in your ear. There are days I drink my coffee ice cold because you’ve pooped on me for what will be the first of many times of that day. Then there are days I look at you and cannot believe my body was able to create something so perfect. That your Dad and I were able to create something so perfect.

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The speed in which time has passed this month has terrified me. I’ve been warned that my life will flash before my eyes as I watch your life grow – and now it’s happening. As I fold your little newborn clothes and pack them into storage, my heart aches and celebrates the next step you’ve taken in your very fresh but very real life.

You have gone from our tiny 7 pound, 10 oz infant to our sturdy ten pound baby.  You have beautiful grey-blue eyes and have started to use them to explore your new world. You are beginning to recognize your Dad and I,  and you capture our hearts with each gassy smile. You love bath time, car rides and being rocked and swayed to rap music. It appears you have your Dad’s taste in music, we’ll work on that.

Jack Josef, you are the apple of so many eyes. You have brought sleepless nights and endless joy to this little kingdom you call home. Each and every day your Dad and I grow and learn more about you, more about being a parent and more about each other. The best part about having you here is the new purpose and thrill we’ve discovered in our lives.

This is only the start my sweet boy – of change, of learning, of the love we expect to grow within our home and family, and you are in the center of it all.

 

 

Feelings of a First Time Mom

This morning I found myself tuned into a talk radio show on pregnancy and parenthood. Like anything these days that has to do with parenting, my ears perked up and my attention was drawn. One of the hosts was weeks away from her due date and sharing her excitement of becoming a first time mom. My heart smiled. I feel you, sister. Her co-host laughed, quickly deflating her optimism with some real-life advice:

“Parent’s lie about how wonderful parenting is” he began. “We want other people to be sucked into our misery.”

The insight to the chaotic reality of parenting went on for minutes, officially ending with an awkward laugh from the pregnant host. For first time parents, the “end of life as you know it” comments are a dime a dozen. And as naive as we may be to the demands of parenting – in this moment, as our baby is safely swaddled in our wombs, we’re elated…and we’re terrified.

I remember the exact thoughts I had the day Davey and I found out we were going to become parents.

I can’t believe this is happening. 

Holy shit, a product of my broad-shouldered husband has to make it’s way out of my body in 9 months.

Who decided we were adult enough to be the sole providers for a human life? 

My life and my heart are officially complete. I’m so in love. 

And since that day, the feeling has relatively stayed the same.

20160511_215058The idea that the actions, words and decisions my husband and I make will form the development, safety and happiness of a human is daunting. The thought that we chose to bring a life into this world and are now responsible for the stable upbringing of a child is immensely overwhelming. I often question my ability to be a strong mother. Wonder how the hell my belly can grow any larger without exploding. Mourn the loss of Dave and I being “just us two”. Fear the pain, discomfort and unknowns of labour.

On the flip side of this fearful wonder is breathtaking thrill. A keenness to explore the world through a new set of eyes.  An appetite to teach our child about humanity and hopefully raise him or her to be compassionate. A wonder and imagination for the traits we’ll share and what they will look like. A dream about our new adventure as a family of four (we’re counting Louie).

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Between all my doubt, anticipation, wonder and excitement there is love. An emotional equation I believe all parents experienced their first time around. And although seasoned parents may snicker at my naivety – I know there is no shame in the naivety I hold.

I trust parenting won’t be easy. I trust my relationship will change, that I’ll go days un-showered,  live solely off caffeine and fondly reminisce the days of freedom. However, the concept of becoming a mother makes me so excited I could pee my pants (if I wasn’t already peeing a little from my baby’s pressure on my bladder).

So ease up, folks. Let us first time parents be naive. Let us be optimistic. Let us learn the hard way. We’re already afraid of what we’re losing yet so eager for what we’re gaining. In those moments of weakness, those endless nights of crying, we’ll need you to reminisce with us. We’ll lean on you to soak in those moments of chaos. But for now, just like we’ll live the world through a new set of eyes, relive your first time in becoming a parent through ours. Because for us, it is pure magic.