Celebrating Amongst the Fishes

Ladies and gents, allow me to introduce you to my one year old daughter.

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Holy cow. The words "my one year old daughter" are still a shocker when they come out of my mouth.

This past weekend was full of celebrating little miss Morley. Saturday was filled with lots of family and friends. With the weather we've been having lately here in Toronto, our Hawaiian luau theme only seemed appropriate.  I can't wait to share more photos of the day, but until then, you can find a sneak peek over on my insta.

On her actual birthday on Sunday, we took a trip down to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. Morley has been there almost a dozen times over the past year, and each time she visits she enjoys it more and more.

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Her favourite part of the Aquarium is hands-down the Dangerous Lagoon and the 315 foot moving sidewalk that runs through the 2.9 million litre tank. How can you not love being surrounded by three different types of sharks, green sea turtles and thousands of tropical fish?

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Visiting the Aquarium with a now toddler is so different, and so much more fun. The shark crawl, three touch tanks (horseshoe crab, cleaner shrimp and stingray) and a dive show at Ray Bay kept her engaged the entire visit.

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

What a great day spent with family celebrating Morley's first with her fishy friends at the Aquarium.

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

On a side note, can we talk about the top I'm wearing in these photos? Like the majority of first-time moms, I've struggled with my post-baby body. When looking for clothes that would both fit my new body and be work-appropriate, I turned to PinkBlush, the place where fashion meets motherhood. This trendy online boutique's clothing is the perfect solution to help cover the problem areas both fashionably and affordably. They carry a wide range of maternity clothes that perfectly transition into after-baby clothes as well, such as this Pink Floral Knit Draped Cardigan.

This knit, flowy floral piece allows me to layer my wardrobe to cover the areas that I am most self conscious of (ahem, I'm looking at you belly and hips). Versatility is key in the land of motherhood and this piece easily transitions from work-wear with a pair of black pants to weekend-wear with jeans. And since spring is finally here, it adds a little pop of colour in my life.

How did you welcome spring? I'd love to hear!

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Disclaimer: I was provided product and/or compensation in exchange for this review. However, all opinions are 100% my own. Thank you PinkBlush!

On Your First Birthday

Dear Morley,

You entered the world on March 19th,
And to find out you were a little girl was beyond belief.

Arriving just after midnight, at 12:01 in the morn,
You slept like a baby, our neighbours though we scorned.

Eight pounds, two ounces and 20.5 inches long,
We knew right away that one day you'd be strong.

Becoming parents gave us quite the scare,
But over the next few months we learned how to take care.

In month one we had so much to learn,
Changing diapers and making bottles all came in turn.

Month two we started to see your easy nature,
And bring a good sleeper was doing mom and dad quite the favour.

Month three was filled with many exciting trips,
Your first plane ride, the Science Centre and the cottage for a dip.

Months four and five meant lots of summer fun in the sun,
You also started eating solid food before they were done.

Month six started many fall family traditions,
Picking apples, carving pumpkins and eating turkey that was delicious.

Month seven you celebrated your first Halloween night,
And dressed as unicorns, you and dad were quite the sight.

At eight months you paid a visit to the jolly man in the red suit,
And a family say at the Christmas tree farm was quite the hoot.

In month nine we celebrated your first Christmas day,
And to say you were spoiled would definitely be okay.

Month ten was filled with more great adventures,
Traveling to Niagara Falls and Cuba where you found beach treasures.

Month eleven meant daycare and back to work for mom,
And the start of a new routine was a challenge we'd have to overcome.

Now here we are, celebrating your first birthday,
But even though you're growing, our baby girl is where you'll stay.

The words time flies we now believe to be true,
And the past 12 months have been beyond amazing with you.

Happy 1st birthday to our little baby girl,
Mom and dad love you more than anything in the whole wide world.

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Unique 1st Birthday Gifts

The time has come to once again say my favourite saying of the year, "time flies". As of this coming weekend, we will have a 1 year old on our hands.

Buying a birthday gift for a child is difficult. Especially when that child can’t tell you what they want.

So, when people starting asking what they should get Morley for her first birthday, my honest answer was, “I have no idea.”

I have been so focused on making sure her first birthday party is special, that I completely forgot about her gifts. 

Unique 1st Birthday Gifts

While I’m sure Morley would be perfectly happy with a cardboard box and some tissue, we wanted to get her something unique. And if you’re looking for unique gifts, you turn to UncommonGoods. 

Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, UncommonGoods provides a platform for artists and designers. They feature unique jewelry, designer decor, kitchen and bar ware, tabletop items and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment without harm to animals or people.

Since our living room already looks like an amusement park, we decided that instead of buying her more stuff, we would instead get her something that we could use to decorate her first "big girl room" when we move into our condo later this year. Sticking with our animal theme, here are the unique items we chose from UncommonGoods for Morley’s first birthday.

Unique 1st Birthday Gifts

Cardboard Animal Head (Small Moose)

Since a real moose mount is not feasible, we’re sticking to a more animal- and environmentally-friendly design. This easy to assemble animal head kit includes numbered cardboard sheets and detailed assembly instructions. The cardboard is durable and made from 100% recycled cardboard in Virginia. The cardboard animal heads come in three different animals (moose, deer and elephant) in either small or large sizes. (Pictured here: Small Moose - Fred Jr.)

Unique 1st Birthday Gifts

Personalized Animal Print (Bear)

This print will fit perfectly on Morley’s gallery wall that already includes prints of a variety of other woodland/Alaskan animals. Inspired by the sophisticated graphics of midcentury children's books and the colours and patterns of vintage quilts, these animal illustrations blend winsome personality with impeccable colour and design. There are a variety of animals to choose from (swan, otter, rabbit, bear, fox, deer, llama, unicorn or sloth), and all are personalized, with your children’s name appearing in stylized white letters on the animal of your choice. (Pictured here: Bear)

Unique 1st Birthday Gifts

My Cinema Original Lightbox + 100 Letters (plus Extra Letters)

This lightweight, battery-operated marquee billboard-type signage is all the rage lately. You can find them all over social media, spelling out fun and creative messages. This Lightbox offers three slotted line to accommodate the included letters and symbols in a creative message. The Original Lightbox includes a total of 100 letters, numbers and characters and the Extra Letters pack (sold separately) includes an additional 100 letters, numbers and fun characters.

Aside from their unique gifts, one of my favourite things about UncommonGoods is that one-third of their entire collection incorporates recycled and/or up-cycled materials. They also give back to the community - with every purchase made, UncommonGoods donates $1 to a variety of non-profits. Since starting their Better to Give program, they have donated over $1 million to charities world-wide, including American Forests which protects and restores forests around the world.

So, whether you're looking for a unique gift for that one year old, geek, animal lover, wine enthusiast or jewelry-lover in your life, make sure to check out UncommonGoods.

What are some of your favourite unique gifts that you’ve received? I’d love to hear!

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Disclaimer: I was provided product and/or compensation in exchange for this post. However, all opinions are 100% my own. Thank you UncommonGoods!

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix

A sick babe (for yet the second time in a month - thanks again daycare) means plenty of cuddle time on the couch.

And what better way to spend the afternoon on the couch than with a good show to watch?

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix

There's no denying my love of animals and the outdoors. It is our hope that one day this love of Mother Nature that my husband and I share will also be passed down to our daughter.

I strongly believe that in order to protect something, you must love it. But in order to love something, you must first have a connection with it. However, it is not every day that a person can explore a vast rainforest, dive the largest coral reef or even hike the tallest mountain to build that connection. 

So if you can't go to the outdoors, how are you supposed to connect with it? The answer is, to bring the outdoors to you!

For those that love science and nature (like this nature nerd), or just want to sharpen your mind and learn a little more about the planet we call home, check out the 10 best Netflix nature documentaries.

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix
Planet Earth 
Year released: 2006
Number of episodes: 11
Length: 47-49 minutes

While this list is in no particular order, if it were, BBC Earth's Planet Earth would definitely be on top. This may be the best nature documentary of all time, not just on Netflix. 

Five years in the making, the BBC's Planet Earth was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC and also the first to be filmed in high definition. Narrated by the iconic David Attenborough, each episode features a global overview of a different biome or habitat on Earth

Exciting news! In 2016, the BBC announced a six-part sequel had been commissioned, titled Planet Earth II, the first television series produced by the BBC in Ultra-high-definition (4K). David Attenborough has returned as narrator and presenter.

The Blue Planet
Year released: 2001
Number of episodes: 8
Length: 48 minutes

The Blue Planet is yet another amazing nature documentary series created and produced by BBC Earth. It premiered in September 2001 and is again narrated by David Attenborough. Described as "the first ever comprehensive series on the natural history of the world's oceans", each of the eight 50-minute episodes examines a different aspect of marine life. The underwater photography included creatures and behaviour that had previously never been filmed.

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix
Frozen Planet 
Year released: 2011
Number of episodes: 6
Length: 48 minutes

In BBC Earth's Frozen Planet, David Attenborough travels to the end of the earth, taking viewers on an extraordinary journey across the polar regions of our planet, focusing on life and the environment in both the Arctic and Antarctic. This seven-part series was created as a comprehensive record of the natural history of the polar regions because climate change is affecting landforms such as glaciers, ice shelves, and the extent of sea ice. 

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix
Nature's Great Events
Year released: 2009
Number of episodes: 6
Length: 49 minutes

This BBC Earth nature documentary series looks at the most dramatic wildlife spectacles on our planet, showing how life responds to natural events which can dramatically transform entire landscapes.

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix
Human Planet 
Year released: 2011
Number of episodes: 8
Length: 48-49 minutes

In a bit of a different take on a nature document, BBC Earth's Human Planet explores the relationships between humans and their natural surroundings by showing the remarkable ways humans have adapted to life in every environment on Earth.

Growing Up Wild 
Year released: 2016
Number of episodes: 1
Length: 77 minutes

Disney's Growing Up Wild takes audiences to the wildest corners of the planet to tell the tales of five courageous animals as they tackle the very first challenges of their young lives. Featuring the stunning imagery and iconic storytelling that makes Disneynature's big-screen adventures an inspiring movie-going experience, this nature documentary brings home a special look at how similar and different these young lives can be.

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix
Tales by Light
Year released: 2015
Number of episodes: 6
Length: 23-24 minutes

Tales by Light is a Netflix Original documentary that follows renowned photographers as they travel the world, capturing extraordinary images that present nature and culture in a new light. View the trailer here

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix
Into the Drink
Year released: 2013
Number of episodes: 13
Length: 21 minutes

This documentary series follows Aaron Faulls, an American television personality, filmmaker, musician and marine conservationist. Into the Drink is a travel documentary-style series based on Faull's background as an underwater filmmaker and journalist.

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix
Changing Seas
Year released: 2009
Number of episodes: 4
Length: 26 minutes

Changing Seas is documentary series that takes viewers on an exciting adventure to the heart of our liquid planet. This documentary series lets viewers experience first-hand how oceanographers and other experts study earth’s last frontier, and it sheds light on how human activities are threatening ocean resources.

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix
Wild Ones
Year released: 2014
Number of episodes: 13
Length: 25-26 minutes

This wildlife series syncs with nature to explore the rhythms and habits of the strongest, fastest, cutest and most dangerous animals on the planet.

10 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix

And while I would much rather be connecting with nature outdoors with my family, sometimes the indoor calls. So until this nasty bug goes away, you know where you can find us - sitting on the couch, cuddled up in our robes, watching the best of Netflix's nature docs and connecting with Mother Nature.

*Please note, we are watching these documentaries on Netflix Canada. Listings may vary by country.

Do you watch Netflix? What are your favourite shows or documentaries? I'd love to hear!

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Keeping My Family Happy, Healthy and Hydrated

Let me tell you, having a sick baby is one of the worst feelings for a new mom. You know they're sick and you know they're hurting, but they can't tell you what is wrong.

Morley has always been a happy baby, a good sleeper and a very hearty eater. So, when her behaviour suddenly changed to cuddly, not hungry, cranky and tired, we knew something was up. (Especially the cuddly part. Girlfriend definitely takes after her mom the anti-cuddler.)

At first we attributed it to teething. I can’t imagine the pain the little ones go through when a tooth starts to break the skin. Or, was it just a cold? After all, there was a lot of snot pouring from her nose (thanks daycare friends). But then, the fever came and we instantly knew it was something more. 

It's not uncommon for babies to get sick a lot - especially ones in daycare. That’s one thing we were warned about before and one thing we learned for ourselves after she started.

Keeping My Family Happy, Healthy and Hydrated - Nalgene bottle review

While a Friday night trip to the emergency room was required, the antibiotics prescribed by the doctor were not enough to help her get back to her usual crazy form. Since she wasn’t eating like the Morley we know, keeping her hydrated with both milk and water was a priority to help eliminate the nasty bug that had taken over her body and return her to her normal happy, healthy self. 

Keeping My Family Happy, Healthy and Hydrated - Nalgene bottle review

This year, I have vowed to go single-use plastic bottle free. As someone who works in the environmental education and conservation industry and strives to live a sustainable lifestyle, you would think cutting out single-use plastics would be a given. However, it is easier said than done (especially when your plans include traveling to a country with non-potable water). But, we are doing the best that we can and I’d say so far, we have done a pretty good job.

One way that we are achieving this goal is by using reusable water bottles. 

My husband and I have always been Nalgene people, taking the iconic 32-ounce wide mouth bottles on our many camping, fishing and hiking adventures.  This large bottle makes it easy to keep track of how much water we’re drinking per day and holds up against the bangs, bumps and drops of our busy lifestyles. 

Keeping My Family Happy, Healthy and Hydrated - Nalgene bottle review

Now, we can also say that we are a Nalgene family, having recently introduced Morley to her new “big girl bottle”, the 12-ounce Grip-N-Gulp. This bottle passes all kid tests and is spill-proof, break-proof and easy to clean. It is also perfect for Miss Independent because it does not have a straw, making the switch from a standard sippy cup much easier.

All Nalgene bottles come in a variety of colours and are BPA-, BPS- and Phthalate-free to keep your family happy, healthy and hydrated. 

Keeping My Family Happy, Healthy and Hydrated - Nalgene bottle review

Within just a few short days, Morley was back to that crazy baby we know and love. However, I wish I could say the same for the rest of the family…

Oh the joys of daycare, and cold and flu season.

Have you ever used a Nalgene bottle? What are your tips and tricks for helping your sick babe? I’d love to hear!

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Disclaimer: I was provided with complimentary product in exchange for this post. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you Nalgene!

Battling the Bug: Our First Time

Number of full days of daycare completed: 10

Number of full days back to work: 7

Number of trips to the emergency room: 1

Never a dull moment.

Battling the Bug: Our First Time

I can still remember Morley's first day of daycare, walking into the room and seeing the other kids. Seeing the other kids laughing and having a good time. Seeing the other kids come over to Morley to check out the “new kid”. Seeing the other kids with snot pouring out of their noses… 

I had been warned, but I knew right then and there that Morley being sick would not be a once in a lifetime event, but more of a regular occurrence. 

Turns out, those snotty kids were a sign of things to come. Within just a few short days, she too had snot pouring from her nose. 

Battling the Bug: Our First Time

Let me tell you, dealing with a sick babe is one of the worst feelings for a new mom. You know they're sick and you know they're hurting, but they can't tell you what is wrong.

Was it just a cold that would pass, or was it something more? Should I take her to the doctor, or should I wait it out?

Initially I just brushed it off as a cold. There wasn’t a fever associated with the snot, so a trip to the doctor didn’t seem warranted. They probably would have sent us home anyways. 

It wasn't until after just my third day of work that I started to become a bit more concerned. She had developed a high fever. 

The questions in my head continued, and with a little help from my pal Google, I was able to get the answers I needed.

Was the onset sudden? Does your child have a high fever? Is your child's exhaustion level severe? Has your child's appetite decreased? Does your child have the chills?

Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes all equal... the flu. 

And that's the boat I was in that Friday night. The babe with a normally (extremely) hearty appetite wasn’t even feeling her favourite cookies. The fever continued and became associated with the chills. Poor girl had started turning blue. Those questions in my head immediately turned to alarm bells and my mom gut knew something wasn’t right.

So, to the emergency room we went.

Battling the Bug: Our First Time

Turns out, not only did Morley have a high fever, decreased appetite and the chills, she also had an ear infection.

Poor girl has her mom’s ears. 

Like the snot dripping from her new friends' noses, I'm sure this too is just a sign of what's to come. 

Oh, the joys of daycare.

What are your tips and tricks for helping your sick babe? I’d love to hear!

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