March 29, 2018

Why We Didn’t Throw Our Daughter a Second Birthday Party

Whoever invented Pinterest is a sheer genius. It can help you pass time while waiting to see the doctor or on your long commute to work, tell you what to make for dinner, provide step-by-step toddler activities when stuck indoors, design your dream house and even has the potential to take a blog post viral (such as this one). It is a visual buffet at your finger tips. 

But, on the flip side, it is also so genius that it is evil. If that at all makes sense. Pinterest has the potential to waste away the hours and money you don’t have and create a sense of envy for the unrealistic “perfect Pinterest life”. It can make you feel utterly “pin-adequate”. 

That last reason is the perfect example of why we did not throw our daughter a second birthday party.

As Morley’s first birthday approached, I knew I had to go big. It had to be the best first birthday ever. So naturally, I turned to Pinterest for some party inspiration for her big day. Being the end of winter and still bitterly cold, I settled on a Hawaiian Luau theme - complete with luau-inspired food and drink, decor and a smash cake. It was, as they call it, a “pin-worthy” party.

But despite how good it looked on the outside, what didn’t show on Pinterest were the hours spent stressing over table decor, how to decorate her high chair, finding the perfect smash cake, worrying about having enough food, and, one exhausted mama. 

Last week we celebrated Morley’s second birthday. “Are you having a party?”, was a common question from friends and family in the weeks leading up to the day. “I haven’t decided,” was always my answer. 

Blame it on being 21 weeks pregnant and exhausted, blame it on being broke as we prepare to move into our first home, or blame it on being someone that no longer cares what others think and just wants to see a smile on her little girl’s face. Whatever the reason (or combination of), I decided to let myself off the hook and not strive for over-the-top birthday party perfection.

As we a result, her birthday celebrations (and yes, there were multiple, as we have three different families to celebrate with) were kept fairly low-key. Instead of a big shebang, we went with experience - she had a paw-tastic day at PAW Patrol Live! with mom and dad and then indulged in her favourite food (and lots of cake) with close family. Nothing crazy, nothing over the top, and definitely nothing “pin-worthy”. Instead, it was simple and it was fun. It was mom and dad and it was Morley. It was just what our two year old ordered. 

I am happy to report, I did not open Pinterest once, even for a small peek at toddler birthday gift inspiration. Did it make me feel like a bad mom? Not for a second. The girl wanted to eat cake, and so, we let the girl eat cake.

I will never completely close the door on Pinterest, after all it is a big driver for readers to this here blog, and therefore a part of my livelihood (thank you readers). But, I have learned to not let it drive my need to create perfection or be a cause for social comparison. I am no Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker, nor will I ever be. I am enough.

So, we may not have had any perfectly-posed photos or pin-worthy table-scapes last week, but you know what we did have? The happiest little two year old on the planet. And that was all that mattered.

What is your idea of the perfect birthday party? Is Pinterest involved? I’d love to hear!


March 27, 2018

The Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy

*This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

The Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a pretty wild experience - mentally, emotionally, and physically. But that shouldn't come as a big surprise - you’ve got a little human growing inside you, after all. With that little human comes some crazy hormones that do some interesting things to your body.

There is no way to be fully ready for pregnancy. With every pregnancy being so different, there is only so much you can do to prepare, so much advice others can give you and (sadly) so much you can read on the internet. 

Today, I’m getting real and talking mom to mom about the things you may experience during pregnancy, including the pros and the cons, the interesting and the unexpected.

The Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy

It can get emotional.
There is so much focus on the physical changes in pregnancy that the emotional ones are sometimes overlooked. Hormone shifts during pregnancy are common and can leave you with unexpected bursts of anger, sadness or anxiety. So, if you suddenly find yourself crying over a commercial on TV, rest assured, it’s (unfortunately) 100% normal.

Beauty perks.
With the growing belly comes many other body changes that you may not be aware of, such as your skin, nails and hair. A great beauty perk is that your hair will look shiner and thicker than ever, thanks to an increase in estrogen. Just the other day I had a coworker mention how luscious my locks looked. Pretty good compliment considering I’ve been too lazy and cheap to do my hair for the past 8 months. Another perk? Nails. Nails also grow stronger and more rapidly - a great excuse to get more manicures and pedicures! 

Maternity pants rock.
A stretchy waist band is nothing to laugh about. Maternity pants are key. Invest in a good pair, or several. I still joke with my husband that my maternity jeans are probably the comfiest pants I own. I whipped them out of storage the minute I found out I was pregnant with number two, because I now had an excuse to start wearing them again.

Not a morning person.
That term “morning sickness”? Ya, throw it out the window. The joyful first trimester pregnancy sickness doesn’t wear a watch, and can make an appearance at any point of the day, and in any form. From mild to severe, nausea to puking, morning to evening, everyone experiences it differently (or not at all). With Morley, there was one day I felt nauseous, and it was something I attributed to the heat on our family vacation in Italy. But with baby number 2? Whole different story. The nausea would set in around 4:30pm - I’d battle through making dinner, barely eating myself, put Morley to bed and then pass out hard on the living room floor at 8:30pm. Like I said, pregnancy sickness isn’t always reserved for the mornings. 

Off balance.
Sure, having a big belly may make you feel a bit top heavy, but there are other ways that your body can be off balance during pregnancy, including your body’s pH.

Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection that comes with some unpleasant side effects “down there”. It can cause complications during pregnancy, so if you suspect you might have it, make an appointment with your doctor. And, if you do, no sweat - there are over the counter options to treat symptoms, such as CanesBalance®, which works to regulate your pH. (This website has more information on symptoms and prevention.)

The Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy

Pain in the butt. 
Literally. For many, with pregnancy comes the joy of hemorrhoids. Constipation is very common in pregnancy, and for many, the joy of hemorrhoids comes along for the ride. They may not be polite dinner conversation, but they must not be left off the list. Hemorrhoids are actually varicose veins in your rectal area. They are usually not dangerous, but as I’m sure many moms will tell you, they can be annoying. Try applying cotton pads soaked in witch hazel, or soaking in a warm tub with epsom salt to soothe your symptoms. 

Sweet dreams.
Nearing the end of my pregnancy, we were in full on Game of Thrones and Walking Dead binge mode. But, despite being in my third trimester (and carrying an extra 40+ pounds) and being extremely tired, I was not sleeping well at all. Thank you nightmares. You think those two shows are brutal enough? My dreams took them to a whole new level. Safe to say, we had to put them on pause until after baby was born.

In a fog.
You may have heard of “pregnancy brain” before. Well let me tell you, it is not a made up excuse for why you can’t find your car keys. Hormone shifts, sleep deprivation and emotions may all play a role in impairing your memory. I wish I had good news and could say it goes away, but after baby is born, it more so just turns into “mom brain”. 

The Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy

>> Capture your pregnancy memories: DIY Silhouette Maternity Photos

Ok, so pregnancy isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. But, the end result is a beautiful, incredible, amazing baby. One that you helped create. So enjoy that glow, rock those maternity jeans and get ready for a wild ride. It’s totally worth it!

Soon-to-be, first-time, or experienced mom? What surprised you most about pregnancy? 

*This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.


March 16, 2018

From a Good Sleeping Baby to a Terrible Sleeping Toddler: Stories & Advice From Real Moms

We thought we had it good, we really did. From day one, baby girl could sleep anywhere at any time, and mom and dad always woke up feeling rested. As she moved into the toddler stage, she would actually walk to the bedroom when she wanted to go to sleep. Seriously. We thought we were living the good life, and foolishly started taking it for granted.

And then one February evening, at 23 months old, the game changed. She got the stomach flu, and things were never quite the same after that. Since that awful night (I’ll spare you the gruesome details), I can count on one hand the number of times she’s slept through the night and/or stayed in her own bed. After establishing a solid sleep schedule, it’s been pretty frustrating to watch it all unravel.

From a Good Sleeping Baby to a Terrible Sleeping Toddler: Stories & Advice From Real Moms

Sleep regression? Maybe. Teething? Quite possibly. Or, has she just gotten a taste of how good she has it in mom and dad’s bed? Ya, I’m placing my bets on that one. Comfy pillows, warm duvet - some nights, I don’t blame her at all. And then some nights, I put all the blame on her for the kink in my neck the next morning.

We love having her as a roomie, we really do. Hearing her talk in her sleep, seeing her crazy hair when she first wakes up and watching her excitement as she sees that we’re still in bed too are memories we’ll cherish forever. But, we’re ready for her to have her own room. And for us to have a master bedroom all to ourselves. Luckily, getting the keys to our new house is just around the corner, and with that, all of the new challenges the transition will bring with it. But, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

From a Good Sleeping Baby to a Terrible Sleeping Toddler: Stories & Advice From Real Moms

While I don’t have all of the answers, what I do have is the resources and support. In honour of today’s World Sleep Day, I’ve got some pretty great blogging mama pals sharing their stories, tips and secret weapons for baby and toddler sleep.

I used to think I had the sleep thing down pat...but 4 kids in, I can say for certain, what works for one may not work for the next. All babes' needs are different - one needed a sound machine, one needed his head rubbed for 15 minutes and two needed swaddling, two hated it, some needed soothers, some didn’t! My only tip would be to spend time getting to know your little person and tap into the cues (which is basically mama instincts), and you'll eventually figure the little darling out. ALSO ignore the "should be" advice (i.e. "should be able to sleep through the night at 3 months", "should be able to self sooth", etc.). They go by their own timeline and readiness.

Sunshine (Shinelily - @shinelily):
Tips that have worked for me: 1. Consistency is key - time to go down, get ready, routine. 2. We get them ready for bed with the night lamp on to set the mood, lol. 3. No high activity (like wrestling). 4. Reading. I also sing them a song and we take turns story telling. 5. My ultimate fave - I get them to talk about their day and I ask them what their fav part of the day was.

I had the worst sleeper ever - hired 2 sleep coaches and they both ditched us.

I think the sleep machine has helped a bit? And really dark black out blinds lol

I fear I’m no help! Morris, I sleep trained at 5 months, took me 3 days. So easy. Rose is 15 months and I’ve attempted sleep training 3 or 4 times and she has yet to sleep through the night!

Getting to know your little one has to be the only consistent advice. I’ve spent hours watching or attending sleep workshops and seminars, books etc. Piper is sleeping through the night but it took all sorts of experimenting and tracking. I’d say the only advice I’d say might help is to write down attempts/results, what happened leading up to bedtime, how you approached bedtime and what happened that night. And don’t get hung up on the idea of “this is how and when you should sleep train/this is how you shouldn’t”. What works for one baby might not work for the other!!

From a Good Sleeping Baby to a Terrible Sleeping Toddler: Stories & Advice From Real Moms

>> You may also like: The Terrible Twos Take Over 

If you’re a new mama or mama-to-be, this post is not meant to scare you. In fact, the exact opposite. The point of this post is to bring to your attention the fact that every child is different. Clearly, you have 6 very different stories, tips, etc. from 6 different mamas above. The important thing is to do what works best for you and your family. Yes, it may be hard and yes, it may be frustrating at times, leading you to need all of the coffee in the morning, but you will get through it. Phase or no phase, you will find what works best for you and your family and you will get through it.  

What is your experience with getting your baby/toddler to sleep? Any stories, tips or tricks? I'd love to hear!


March 14, 2018

50 Essential Outdoor Spring Activities

It's hard to believe that we are already mid-March - that awkward time when spring is just around the corner, but it still feels like winter. One day its sunny and you're finally able to dust off your spring jacket. And then the next, it is the complete opposite - grey, snowing and you can't leave home without your winter gear.

Despite what it may be doing outside, March 20 is the first official day of spring and my favourite season. Colourful flowers, baby animals and fresh air - what's not to love? 

50 Essential Outdoor Spring Activities + Sunglasses Review

Spring is also the season to break out of the winter blues, ditch your heavy winter jacket, lace up your shoes and get outside. I’ve always been a fan of making seasonal to-do lists, and can't wait to start crossing things off the list for spring.

Take advantage of the warming temperatures, longer days and the fresh air with these 50 essential outdoor spring activities.

50 Essential Outdoor Spring Activities

50 Essential Outdoor Spring Activities

  1. Go on a picnic.
  2. Give back to the planet for Earth Day.
  3. Go for a bike ride.
  4. Visit the local zoo.
  5. Fly a kite.
  6. Plant some seeds.
  7. Play baseball at the park.
  8. Wash the car.
  9. Go on a scavenger hunt.
  10. Enjoy the flowers.
  11. Go for a hike.
  12. Visit a farmer's market.
  13. See the cherry blossoms.
  14. Sit on the patio.
  15. Play a round of golf.
  16. Pick strawberries.
  17. Have a BBQ.
  18. Fill a vase with tulips or daffodils.
  19. Watch the sunset.
  20. Take a photo safari.
  21. Hang a bird house.
  22. Browse your local garage sales. 
  23. Explore a new area of your city.
  24. Enjoy the stars at night. 
  25. Grab a pair of binoculars and go birding.
  26. Check out a maple syrup festival.
  27. Go for a run.
  28. Play frisbee golf.
  29. Join an outdoor sports league.
  30. Take a walk on the beach.
  31. Visit the baby animals at a local farm.
  32. Clean out the garage.
  33. Host a garage sale.
  34. Go on an Easter egg hunt.
  35. Wash the windows.
  36. Visit your local playground.
  37. Feed the ducks.
  38. Take in a neighbourhood festival.
  39. Paddle the local river.
  40. Take the dog for a walk.
  41. Help clean up a park.
  42. Organize a shoreline cleanup.
  43. Plant a community garden.
  44. Awe over a long weekend fireworks display.
  45. Sit around a campfire.
  46. Look at the stars.
  47. Brave your first dip in the lake.
  48. Sign up for a race.
  49. Window shop.
  50. Enjoy the fresh spring air.

>> Plan ahead with these 50 Essential Outdoor Summer Activities

What are your favourite outdoor spring activities? I'd love to hear!


March 12, 2018

The Perfect Cold & Flu Remedy - Honey Lemon Ginger Tea

While spring may be slowly starting to creep into the air, sadly, cold and flu season has not yet started saying its goodbyes. Prepare to battle the bug with my family's go-to, this all natural recipe for Honey Lemon Ginger Tea.

All of the ingredients in this all natural, do-it-yourself tea have their own natural medicinal qualities and when combined, they create a calming and relaxing tea that can ease those dreaded cold and flu symptoms and boost your immune system. 

Lemon is high in vitamin C, which keeps the immune system strong and neutralizes the free radicals in your body, reducing inflammation and swelling. 

Ginger helps you sweat out the toxins in your body and is also helpful for settling upset stomachs, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats. 

And last, but definitely not least, honey soothes a sore throat, making it an effective and natural cough suppressant. The natural sweetness of honey also balances the tartness of the lemon and spiciness of the ginger.

The Perfect Cold Remedy - Honey Lemon Ginger Tea Recipe

Sweet, spicy and one of the best drinks to have during the winter, honey lemon ginger tea is power-packed with some incredible health and body care benefits.

Lemon Honey Ginger Tea

Serves: 1 

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 lemon, juiced (approximately 4 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp honey

  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add ginger and cover. 
  2. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes, covered. If you like it spicier, allow to steep for longer.
  3. Strain liquid into large mug of choice. Discard the ginger.
  4. Add lemon juice and honey, and carefully stir to combine.

The Perfect Cold Remedy - Honey Lemon Ginger Tea Recipe

Home Chef Tip #1: To get the maximum amount of juice from your lemon, place the lemon on a hard, flat surface and using the palm of your hand, roll like you are kneading dough.

Home Chef Tip #2:  If available, purchase locally cultivated honey. Not only will this help you support local small businesses, but it will also help conserve the honey bees.

How do you fight the dreaded cold and flu? Any homemade recipes? I'd love to hear!


March 8, 2018

Best of Netflix Canada: Toddler Shows

There are moments during parenthood where you just need your kids to sit still. True story. For example, dinner prep. Especially if there’s a hot stove involved. 

Our solution? A little bit of screen time.

Screen time for young kids may be a big debate these days, but you can't knock it until you try it. I’m not expert, but I know that a few minutes here or there won't make or break my child's future. Especially when I’m trying to get dinner on the table.

If you were to open our "Recently Viewed" on Netflix Canada, it would reveal a smorgasbord of shows. Some for mom, some for dad and some for little girl. Let me correct myself - mostly for little girl.

While quality definitely varies, the number of kid’s shows on Netflix Canada is nearly endless, and has gotten much better over the years. 

Not sure what to turn on for your toddler? Check out our 5 favourite Netflix Canada shows for toddlers below!

Favourite Netflix Canada Shows for Toddlers

Paw Patrol
Seasons 1-4

In this preschool favourite, six heroic puppies, led by a tech-savvy 10-year-old, pull off high-stakes rescue missions using humour, problem-solving skills and cool vehicles.

Perfect for: the dog-loving toddler

Splash and Bubbles
Season 1

Curious pals Splash, Bubbles, Dunk and Ripple have fun exploring new places, making new friends and learning all about their amazing ocean home.

Perfect for: the water-loving toddler

Llama Llama
Season 1

This Netflix Original animated show is based on the award-winning Llama Llama books. Llama, his family and his good friends have heart-warming adventures in a safe, friendly town. Fun fact: Actress Jennifer Garner is the voice of Llama Mama.

Perfect for: the animal-loving toddler

Super Why!
Season 1

Super Why! is a great adventure to get kids to "look in a book”. Wyatt and his pals, the Super Readers, solve problems by looking into stories and solving a puzzle using literacy skills - spelling, alphabet, fill in the blanks, etc.

Perfect for: the book-loving toddler

Peppa Pig
Seasons 1-4

Join plucky piglet Peppa and her family and friends for everyday adventures that prove there's learning and laughter to be had anywhere you look.

Perfect for: the family-loving toddler

What are your favourite Netflix shows for toddlers? Which ones can you not stand? I'd love to hear!


March 6, 2018

Spring Cleaning with a Toddler

My life is a mess. I mean that in the best way possible, I really do. Most days, I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Laundry is piled higher than my toddler, dinner is a last minute decision and in the morning, I run out the door with minutes to spare, breakfast in hand. It’s disorganized, it’s rushed and it’s downright messy.

You know what else is messy? Life with a toddler. I never truly experienced messy until I became a mom. 

Morley is at the age where she makes a mess of everything. And I mean, everything. Miss Independent is always spilling her food, walking through the house with her boots on and tossing her toy bin all over the floor. The phrase, “Uh oh, Morley make a mess” can easily be heard half a dozen times a day in our house.

And because she is at the age where she can tell us that she’s made a mess, we agree that she is also at the age where she can help clean up said mess.

Spring Cleaning with a Toddler

One way that we get her involved in cleaning around the house is by incorporating fun songs into the task. Little girl loves to belt out a good tune, so it seemed like a natural fit.

We get creative by taking an already existing song in her repertoire and change the words into something fun and relevant, such as “Mop, Mop, Mop the Floor”, sung to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. 

Really the options for songs are limitless, and all they take is a little creativity and enthusiasm.

Mop, Mop, Mop the Floor

This is the way we mop the floor,
Mop the floor, mop the floor,
This is the way we mop the floor,
Every single day.


Mop, mop, mop the floor,
Mop it every day.
Mop, mop, mop the floor,
Then (insert name) and (insert name) can play

Spring Cleaning with a Toddler

And while a helper is nice when it comes to cleaning, you know what else is handy? Quality products. 

The Libman Company knows their way around cleaning products. For 120 years, the family-owned business has made quality a priority so that you can get the job done right, and focus on the moments that matter, such as having fun with your toddler.

Whether it’s dust and pollen in the air or a messy toddler, every house is in need of a little spring cleaning. One product that we use throughout the house, and in multiple toddler mess cleaning situations, is The Libman Company Wet & Dry Microfiber Mop. The 360° swivel gets into the tough spots, making it ideal for cleaning hardwood and other surfaces. It comes with a reusable and machine washable microfiber cleaning pad, and can used for wet or dry messes.

Spring Cleaning with a Toddler

In need of a deep spring clean? Check out The Libman Company Wonder® Mop, with microfiber  GRIPSTRIPS™ that lift up to 20% more dirt leaving your floors cleaner. The power wringer allows you to remove more water from the microfiber mop head, leading to faster drying floors. The Wonder® Mop works great on all surfaces and can be machine washed up to 50 times.

The Libman Company Wet & Dry Microfiber Mop, along with various other Libman products, can be found in the cleaning products section at your local Home Depot. Don’t forget to take advantage of the $3-off coupon, available to those who sign up for The Libman Company newsletter, found here. 

Spring Cleaning with a Toddler

Ok, so getting her to clean the floor may not be perfect, and we may have to redo it all after the fact, but it is still good to get her interested and involved in the process. It also allows us to spend some quality time together, just what Libman intended.

Do your kids help clean around the house? What are your tips and tricks for getting them involved? I’d love to hear!

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