Monday, 30 December 2013

Happy Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! It's resolution time. I've started the last few years thinking I want to just be a little bit happier and a little bit healthier than the year before. I haven't really had one big resolution. I've mostly been afraid of not following through. Awhile ago I came across this post and was inspired to write my own list about what I'm excited about in 2014.
So here it is!

January
Join my work Pilates class
Host a Downton Abbey get together for the premiere of Season 4!
Read (and blog about) Cupcakes to Chemicals

February
Try this pin with S for Valentine's Day
Cheer for Canada in the Sochi Olympics (from the comfort of my home)
Paint our entrance way
Start reading the Divergentseries

March
See the new show at Mysteriously Yours
Visit my parents in Collingwood over March Break with S
Try (and blog about) a Snackbox subscription

April
Go to the Forest Valley Open House with S and Rob
Visit High Park to see the cherry blossoms

May
Find something to do in these or these!

June
Make this
Take Seb to the Science Centre 

July
Go to Red Deer, AB for a family reunion. S' first flight (gulp!)
Visit the Calgary Zoo
Go on a ladies retreat with my sorority
Read Naptime Is the New Happy Hour

August
Celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary. Should we go to Quebec City or NYC?
Take a family trip to the beach
Read Playful Parenting

September
Go to a TIFF party or see a TIFF movie
Go apple picking and make apple crisp

October
Celebrate my 1-year blog anniversary (woot! woot!)
Go on our annual pumpkin picture trip to Whittamore's Farm
Take S trick or treating

November
Watch Mockingjay Part 1
Shop for the perfect plaid scarf
Take S to the Royal Winter Fair
Take a family holiday photo for our cards. Pick one of the ideas here.

December
Make gingerbread houses with friends
Wear this skirt to a Christmas party
Go to the Toronto Christmas Market with my friend E.
Make personalized M&Ms for the holidays

What are your resolutions this year? Let me know in the comments, and I'll check in with you later to see how it's going ;)

xo
Jenn

Thursday, 26 December 2013

#icestorm2013 + The Next App You Are Going to Download

I hope the holiday celebrations have been going well in your home. Here in Toronto, we had quite the crazy start to Christmas. Overnight on Saturday, Dec 21st, there was a massive ice storm that hit the city and much of southwestern Ontario. Our power went out around 11pm on Saturday night and, like 300 000 other homes in the city, was still out the next day. It was getting colder by the hour and Toronto Hydro was telling residents to prepare for a 3 day wait to get power back online, so we started making alternative plans faster than you can say ice ice baby.

Our car was both A) covered in a layer of ice nearly an inch thick and B) blocked by a fallen, live wire so we weren't going to be able to drive anywhere. I found a kid-friendly hotel on the subway line that, thankfully, had a reasonable rate for a room with 2 beds. My parents, who were visiting for the holidays, headed home. Then we packed up a few bags, S and the stroller, and headed down to our hotel passing scences like this one:
(photo cred)

For more pictures check Instagram #icestorm2013.


S did not sleep well in the hotel at all, but although we were tired, my husband and I tried not be too upset because we were just glad to be in a warm room. Miraculously, when we checked with a neighbour in the morning our power was back on again, and we could come home.

It doesn't look like much, but here's a little info:
- the two cars on the opposite side of the street are still parked because both front windows were smashed in by trees and branches
- the wire hanging down blocking in our car (the silver one) was live. As were the other wires hanging down on the right
- our street at one point had police tape on both ends so you couldn't get in or out
- the cars were all coated a seriously thick layer of ice.
- inside our thermostat told us that the house got down to 9.7 degrees Celsius at one point.  (49.5 degrees Fahrenheit)

Later the large branch from our front lawn was moved into the street behind our car by some hydro crews and this sign was attached to it.

Christmas morning we woke up to the wires on our street removed. I am so grateful to the people who spent Christmas Eve working to clean up the city while I slept cozy in my home.


To get a sense of how just every single thing was coated in ice, my friend snapped this amazing shot of a decoration and tree.


Refinery 29 must have heard that the weather was getting a bad rep up north, because the day we got home, they posted this find on FB. For the Ryan Gosling fans, the new app Hey Girl Weather now allows Ryan Gosling to be your weatherman. The app is free and Ryan will give you the weather for the day, along with a Hey Girl quote. My friend E loves the Weather Puppy app and asked me to download it so I can send her the cute pictures. Weather Puppy and Weather Kitty are pretty darn adorable, but Hey Girl Weather may now be the cutest app on my phone (insert my husband rolling his eyes here).


Our experience in the ice storm was one of the more positive ones. There are thousands still without power and my thoughts go out to them. When we wished for a white Christmas, this isn't really what we meant. Stay warm. #extragratefulthischristmas

xo
Jenn

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Lessons from Nelson Mandela to my Son

When Nelson Mandela passed away, we started to hear many of Mandela's inspiring quotations and stories again, and I thought to myself, I really want my son to grow up knowing about Nelson Mandela. I want his messages of love, forgiveness, hope, and peace to seep into his soul and be part of the character he is building. Lofty goals I know, here are the lessons I hope he learns.


Nelson Mandela quotes - It always seems impossible until its done.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  
Some days life will be hard. There may be days or weeks or months in a row that are hard. You must. keep. going. Don't you dare give up. Keep working towards your goal, and when you look back to see how far you have come, you will be blown away.

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” 
Once you have finished something big, be proud of what you have accomplished. Then look around; there will always be more work to do. There will always be another mountain that needs climbing. But it's ok. You are not alone. We will be there to climb with you.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
Stay in school, work hard, and respect your teachers. Learn as much as you can, and share what you have learned with others. I often wonder what you will be when you grow up. I do know that whatever it is, acquiring knowledge and thinking critically will give you the capacity to be a unstoppable force of change.

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
It is ok to be afraid. Whether it's monsters under the bed, a math exam, or the death of a loved one, the trick isn't to never feel scared. The trick is to live life anyways. That is courage. To look at something scary and, "I can do that."

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
The Japanese proverb "Fall down seven times, get up eight" has the same message of perseverance and resilience. Even when it's hard - keep going. Even when you think you've failed - keep trying. Find that point where it feels uncomfortable and hard, push just a little bit further, and try again.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Let yours be the generation that eradicates racism. And don't just settle for tolerance. Settle for nothing less than acceptance. You don't have to be best friends with every person you meet, but you do have to be respectful and compassionate.

 "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
This one is long, I know, but the vice-principal of my high school read it to us once, and it has stuck with me ever since. Find your path of excellence and dive in. Nurture the leader inside of you. And leadership isn't always loud and over the top and in the spotlight. You can inspire others and contribute in a calm and quiet manner if you'd prefer, just like Nelson Mandela did. You have much to share with the world, and the world needs you to share your gifts with others.

“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation”  
I hope when I'm old and grey, I can look back and think I've done some good things in my life. You are absolutely one of them. But I hope you can be even greater. I hope that you can do even more good things. Learn from mistakes made in history and do it even better. I'm sure every mother wishes that for her son. Every mother looks at her baby boy and sees him as a king. Will and Kate don't get the monopoly on that ;)



“Appearances matter — and remember to smile.”
Be kind to others and remember the golden rule. Appearances matter in that if we are open, happy, and grateful with others, we may feel just a little better ourselves. On top of that, we are likely to make someone else feel a little better too. It is often said that people will not remember exactly what you said to them, but they will remember how you made them feel. So remember to smile :)



At Nelson Mandela's funeral, South African President Jacob Zuma said that Mandela was a, "fountain of wisdom, a pillar of strength, and a beacon of hope for all those fighting for a just and equitable world order." For me, the silver lining of his passing is that his messages are now again in the spotlight to remind me of what is important and what I want to model to my son.

xo
Jenn



Sunday, 15 December 2013

What to Read, Watch, and Listen to this week

Here is the next post in the series Les petits plaisirs. My goal for this series is to share things I've found to be little pleasures in life. It could be a quotation, a song, something I like to do, or even just a comfort item. Whatever makes me feel good inside, and I think may make you feel good too.

I've been coming across some great links online and want to share them with you. Here is what I recommend you should read, watch, and listen to this week:


READ - My Kid's Insane Christmas Wishlist, Annotated

The wish list of this 7-year-old girl is quite something (5 different North Face jackets - what?!), and her dad's annotated notes on each one are hilarious!

WATCH -13 Commercials Moms Love

Some remind us of the work we do everyday, and others just funny or heartwarming.
The P&G Olympic commercial reduces me to tears every time I watch it.



But the Swagger Wagon is pretty wicked awesome.  Check out the full list here.

This Coca Cola ad isn't on this list, but I saw it yesterday on FB, and I would totally add it.




LISTEN - Songza

Have you heard of Songza yet? A close friend told me about this app last year, and I've been addicted ever since. You can use their music concierge to choose the perfect curated playlist for whatever you're up to....working out....ladies' night....spending time with your kids...There are a ton to choose from, and they are always being updated.


I listen to the Acoustic Versions of Pop Songs playlist often, and the playlist The Golden Age of Boy Bands was perfect for when my girlfriends and I were getting ready for a New Kids on the Block concert in the summer.  But, it's the holidays, so I think I'll sip my gingerbread latte and listen to one of these:


xo
Jenn

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Tina's Top Ten for the Pregnant Mama! {Guest Post}

Today's post comes from Tina over at Little Waves. BigOcean. Bigger Love. She recently wrote about the top 10 items she'd recommend for any pregnant woman, and I asked her if I could share her awesome advice here. So, welcome Tina!



For the most part I had a pretty smooth pregnancy, but there were a few things that helped me along the way and I thought I would share with the other soon-to-be momma's out there.
 

1. YOGA PANTS.  Did I even need to say it?  I mean yoga pants are any woman's go-to comfy pant but when I was pregnant and not at work, I lived in mine.  I'm surprised I didn't wear them out.  My go-to pair was the lululemon groove pant, the ones I had were reversible and the waist band folded up to cover my whole belly or folded down to wear below my belly.  It being winter and the fact that I'm not really a belly baring kind of girl anyway,  I pretty much always wore them folded up.

2. LEGGINGS.  The best piece of maternity clothing, right up there with the yoga pant is the legging!  This is the perfect maternity piece, you can dress them up or dress them down. The best pair I found were in the states at Pea in the Pod. These black jersey leggings are so comfortable and are the only ones I could find that pulled up all the way over my belly and never fell down, they didn't stretch out at the bum or knees and didn't fade.  They are amazing and even great to wear after baby the super stretchy belly holds your tummy in making you feel a little slimmer after your baby is out.

3. A YOGA STRAP. 
Now you might be thinking, "Why on earth would I need a yoga strap?!" Well, if your pregnancy treats you as it did me in the last few months, you may look down and notice your poor little tootsies aren't that little anymore. My feet got substantially swollen, and by the end of the day all I wanted to do was lay on the couch with my feet stratight up in the air. This strap was great, I hooked it around the arch of one foot and held the loose ends, while I swear I could sometimes feel the water draining out of my foot and down my leg.

4. BIRKENSTOCKS. Speaking of swollen feet, that brings me to my next pregnancy must-have, Birkenstocks. Now for some, swollen feet isn't an issue while pregnant, but I can guarantee you will at least have sore feet at some point. Unfortunately for me, I had both and what was even more unfortunate was that I was due in March so I had to go through the winter months without any of my winter boots fitting me. Yup! I was officially one of those people who wore birkenstocks with socks. Big, thick, heavy socks, mostly to hide the fact that my feet were so huge, and so you had to look really close to see that, up...I was on the last notch. Who doesn't want to be a hippie for at least a few months of their life anyways?

5. COCONUT OIL. There are hundreds of uses for this magical oil, but using it as a belly moisturizer is key when you have a baby growing inside you. Every morning after my shower and every night before bed, I used coconut oil, not only on my belly, but on my hands that were extra dry, my feet, and even my legs. It made me smell like I was on the beach and kept my skin hydrated and so soft.

6. Recipe for Relief. Now, I just mentioned above that the coconut oil kept my skin hydrated and smooth, but what it didn't do was avoid the terrible pregnancy rash I had to endure for just over two weeks. Now this won't be a useful top item to for many of you out there. In fact, this rash only happens in about 5% of pregnancies, but if it does happen to you, this recipe literally saved my life. Every night I took a warm bath with two packs of Aveeno Oatmeal Bath , laid in it for at least 20 minutes, got out and lightly patted myself dry, stayed naked until I was totally dry, and then applied Aveeno Skin Relief Overnight Cream all over my body. Stayed naked till I felt like that all sunk in, put on loose pj's and tried to sleep. I had to wake up a few times throughout the night and wash certain parts of my tummy, back, and/or armpits with warm water and Dr. Bronner's Organic Peppermint Soap. The peppermint was nice and cooling. Then, when I got up in the morning, I had a shower and rewashed my whole body with teh same organic castile soap, patted dry, applied the Aveeno cream again and waited for it all to sink in before I put any clothes on. I was adamant on this routine. It was the only think I found that gave me an ounce of relief. So, I continued religiously and slowly the rash started to clear up. Two weeks after my initial appointment when the rash was in full effect, I was able to life my shirt to bare a cleared up mid section! Even my doctor was surprised, as this rash is supposed to last until at least the baby is born.

7. PILLOWS. You'd never think how such an everyday item would be so crucial to your sleep every night, but the pillow is just that. I guess I should say 'pillows' seeing as I needed at least 6 to get through the night. Never mind the last month, when my feet were so sore, and I took a big cushion from the couch, and propped my feet up with the hopes that they would be a little less swollen in the morning. Now there is the basic body pillow that is great if you only sleep on one side all night. But if you turn over, it's such a pain to bring the pillow with you and keep the covers on the bed, and it doesn't give you any support on your back, which you would be surprised you would need. I found this crazy one at Babies R Us which gives the between the knees comfort, but likes like it would be even harder to turn over with. Then I found this one, which seemed to make the most sense, but I am picky about what type of pillow I use under my head. I suppose you could just flip it so it connects at your feet instead of at your head, but I also had a hard time justifying buying a pillow for $135.00 just to use for a few months. So, instead I just used three pillows I already had at home and bought three more from the Superstore that were on sale for 9$ each. I placed two at my head, one tucked behind my back, one under my chest, one under my belly, and one between my legs. That way, when I flipped over, I just had to bring the one that was between my legs with me. The only problem I found was that my husband didn't fit in the bed with me.....

8. ONE GOOD MATERNITY BRA AND A COMFY SPORTS BRA. So near the end of your good ones from Lululemon to sleep in, and they have definitely been worth the money cause I've still been wearing them almost everyday since my milk regulated. I find them easier to lift up and and pull down when I'm nursing than the bras with the clips. The flap always got in the way. I could never master the technique of finding the little hook with one hand under my shirt while I held a squirmy baby in the other, and I also felt weird about my boob being framed by I window when I went to feed my baby.
pregnancy, I'd strongly recommend a good supportive maternity bra, but make sure you wait until the end to get one, cause your boobs are just going to keep getting bigger, and when your milk comes in, they will get bigger. You just need one cause you won't wear it for a very long time after your baby is born, but when you need it...you will know. I had to hold up my chest even when I walked down the stairs some days. It was kind of funny. Up until then I just wore sports bras and splurged on a couple of

9. COMPRESSION STOCKINGS. It makes me feel like a grandma just saying 'compression stockings', so I'll just say this, if you have a job that you need to be on your feet - these will help.

10. MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM AND OREOS. So this one you might not think is a 'must-have' but trust me...it is! Maybe it was just for me and maybe it was because cravign sweets if you are pregnant with a girl was the only old wives take that was true in my case. For someone who rarely ever eats ice cream, or cookies for that matter, this was the ultimate combination. That's all I can say.


Thanks, Tina! What were your 'must-have' items while pregnant? Add them in the comments below. For me, cardigans were a staple item in my closet because I could wear one of the few tops that were comfiest and closest to my belly and just add a few different cardigans in the week. A good pre-natal vitamin to take daily is important too, and maybe also a nearby washroom... I had wicked nausea!

And she certainly didn't ask me to do this, but check out Tina's blog here, and I'm sure she'd be grateful if you showed her some FB love here.

xo
Jenn

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stella & Dot GIVEAWAY!

I'm in full holiday shopping mode at my house right now. I like to do most of my Christmas shopping online because I find it just so super easy, especially with a 1 year old at home, and most places I shop have free shipping - done.

Last week I posted about hosting a Stella & Dot party and gushed over many of their pretty pieces, and I am placing a Stella & Dot order this week for a few last Christmas gifts.

As I was browsing their website for the millionth time, I decided to pick up one of these and will put a gift card inside for our housekeeper. Then I also decided I really wanted to do my first giveaway on the blog this holiday season.

So, it's your lucky day! I'm giving away the elephant pouf pictured below to one lucky reader, and so it doesn't arrive empty, I'm going to add some cute Christmas gift tags inside for you to use while wrapping your gifts.

What I actually really love is that when you open this pouf, it says "Hey There Beautiful" on the inside. Fun! :)

How to enter:
Comment below and tell me what you would put in this little bag? Mom or not, I think there are a ton of uses for it.

You can also earn a bonus entry for each of the following:
- Like my A Splendid Messy Life Facebook page
- Share this giveaway on FB or Twitter
- Sign up for email notifications from A Splendid Messy Life

Let me know in individual comments for each bonus entry you did!

Contest is open to anyone and closes Thursday, Dec 12 at midnight. Winner will be chosen by random.org

*While I will send the pouf out to the winner asap, I can't guarantee it will arrive before Christmas, so plan to keep this treat all for yourself!

Good luck!

xo
Jenn

Monday, 2 December 2013

Les petits plaisirs - Tiffany and Co.

Here is the next post in the series Les petits plaisirs. My goal for this series is to share things I've found to be little pleasures in life. It could be a quotation, a song, something I like to do, or even just a comfort item. Whatever makes me feel good inside, and I think may make you feel good too.



Tiffany's. I walk into this store and, for a few minutes, I am a princess. All of the sparkly lovely little gemstones. All of the shiny silver, platinum, and gold. The little blue box with that special bow. I channel my inner Audrey Hepburn and imagine myself in this or this or really...this.

The holidays are undoubtedly a busy time for Tiffany's, and every year Tiffany & Co makes a beautiful Christmas commercial. Here is the one they've made for this year, but below is my favourite.





Nothing beats a Tiffany diamond, but Rob gave me this little bean for my 30th birthday, which was just 3 days before I found out I was pregnant with S, so it was a perfect gift. For the mamas, this heavy duty bracelet won't get ripped off by a playful baby or toddler. Here are a few other pieces I like to admire:



Alas, these Tiffany & Co related goodies are more in my price range:

Breakfast At Tiffany's DVD, - Total classic! I heart Audrey.
Summer At Tiffany by Margorie Hart - This book is a really cute true story about the author's summer in 1945 working at Tiffany & Co in NYC.
Lavender shea butter soap from Etsy. I took my Tiffany obsession to a whole other level when I had our bathroom painted Tiffany blue, and now I've found some matching soap!

The Tiffany FB page is actually pretty great. In addition to posting pictures of beautiful jewellery, they will put up some great messages like this one:

xo
Jenn

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The one with 1402 diapers

This is what 1402 diapers looks like:


After pledging to round up 1000 diapers in November, I was overwhelmed with support by my friends, family and colleagues. Earlier today, we dropped off the diapers to the Toronto Diaper Bank. As much as I love contributing $ to causes that meaningful to me, there is something different about making such a direct donation. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me reach this goal. 1402 is a lot of little bottoms that we'll be keeping clean and dry this winter.

xo
Jenn

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Personalized Gifts for Grandparents

Personalized gifts are the best kind of grandparent gifts out there. Here are a few of my favs.



1. Photo Calendar.
The photo calendar gift never goes out of style. I remember my mom making them for my grandparents when my sister and I were little....umm...20 years ago?! You can make them pretty much anywhere. Shutterfly (currently having a 30-40% off sale), Vistaprint, Snapfish, Black's (currently having a 25% off sale with the code CAL25), even Costco.






2. Today's Parent Magazine Cover
What grandparent wouldn't love to see their grandchild on the cover of Today's Parent? It's too late for this year, but keep this link bookmarked. We did this last year, and it was the cutest stocking stuffer. You can upload your pic and then pick the article titles you'd like to see on the cover surrounding your little one.

3. Personalized Photo Kleenex Box
I saw this idea on a blog once, and I had to try it. I had 2 made up last Christmas with Seb's picture and added "Welcome to our home. Would you like to see more pictures of our grandson?" While my mom tells me she still refills this kleenex box, I think Rob's mom is too delighted by the pictures to even open it.



4. DIY Painted Ceramic Pieces
This was one of my first Rookie Mom Challenges - paint your baby's feet. I made a framed ceramic tile with S' feet and his name when he was about 6 weeks old. Super cute. Then Christmas came around and everyone got painted ceramic pieces with decorated with little baby toes. In addition to the standard ceramic tile, we made this plate (inspired by this pin) and a Christmas ornament.



 5. Recordable storybooks
This gift is perfect for grandparents who don't live close to you. Next time you see them, they can record themselves reading the story and then you keep the book so the grandparents can 'read' a story to your little one even when they are not there. For older kids, another idea I've heard is to have each family member read a page or two of the book and then give the recorded book as a gift to the grandparents so they can hear your voices. We have a couple of these, and they are so cool.





6. Photo album
This one takes a little more work, but in the end you have an amazing gift and keepsake. When S turned one, I used Snapfish to make a photo album of his first year. I kept it for us, but really, it would be easy peasy to order another copy and give it as a gift, and I know S' grandparents would love one.

I've also heard of making photo magnets or even a DIY Andy Warhol Photograph of your kids, but I haven't tried either of these yet. Maybe next year.

Any other personalized gifts you think would be great for grandparents?

xo
Jenn

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Stella & Dot

Last week I hosted a Stella & Dot party. I had never heard of Stella & Dot until earlier this year when my cousin became one of their stylists. I am quite sensitive to certain types of jewelery so while I was happy for her venture, I was skeptical that their jewelery would be right for me. (My mom has the same sensitivity. We often joke that because we are so sensitive to many earrings and necklaces, my dad and Rob can only buy us expensive jewelery haha.)

Anyways, in May my sorority had a Stella & Dot party, and I was looking forward to seeing many of the pieces in person and hopefully finding something that I would be able to wear. Then I found the Petra Braided Bracelet, and it became my new BFF.


This bracelet really does go with so much. I've worn it with a grey t-shirt and denim cutoffs to a family picnic, and I've worn it with a LBD and this wine-coloured cardigan to work.

Since then, I've been to a few other Stella & Dot parties, and I promised Marlene I would host one before the holidays. She came over last Sunday and turned my living room into a full-fledged boutique. I am so in love with so many pieces of their collection, and better yet - every necklace and pair of earrings I've bought so far hasn't irritated my skin. What I love most about their pieces is that most of them can be worn more than one way depending on your outfit.





It was so fun to spend some time with friends and gush over the beautiful jewellery and bags on display. To quote one of my friends, "mmmmm... pretty things." 

I've already fawned over that clutch pictured above earlier this week. Here are my absolute favourites right now:

 

I've also been thinking about using my hostess credit to get the rebel pendant and these sparkly earrings for the holidays. And pearls are always a great addition to any wardrobe.

If you're interested in more, check out Marlene's stylist link here and her Stella & Dot FB page here.

And because shopping is always better with friends, my friend Nicole is also stylist with a link here. Nicole also has a Stella & Dot FB page here.

xo
Jenn

Monday, 25 November 2013

Les petits plaisirs - My Christmas Wish List

It's November 25th. Exactly one month until Christmas.  I love Christmas. I love the lights, the smells, the food, the music, sending cards, exchanging gifts, putting a little extra Bailey's in my hot chocolate. I love it all.

Have you started your shopping yet? I do most of the Christmas shopping for our family. In fact, really the only person Rob has to buy a gift for is me. And he recently told me he needs to start his Christmas shopping, soooo.... I know what that means.  Here is my wish list for Christmas this year.


I love Downton Abbey. I'm so excited to see season 4 start in January ....but sans Matthew :( . I'd love these little bath goodies to make me feel like I am actually relaxing in Downton Abbey this winter.

Graphic tees are super in style right now and this one rocks. It is soooo soft! I'd wear it with denim cutoffs in the summer and a cardigan winter. All US states are also available.

Audrey Hepburn knows her stuff. This is a great quote to read while I'm snuggling with some tea and a good book on a winter night.
 
To go with my Downton Abbey obsession, I also really admire Kate Middleton and the rest of the royal family. I also love little bits of interesting trivia, so I hope to see this magazine in my stocking.

Pretty stationery is a total vice of mine. I cannot resist. These cards would be an adorable addition to my collection.

Avalon Bracelet Clutch in Midnight Black
 I saw this baby at a Stella and Dot party I recently hosted and fell in love. To me it is the perfect date night clutch. I'm not a fan of wristlet purses so I was totally sold when I found out the strap can be removed and turned into a leather wrap bracelet.

Kiss Lock Frame Purse in Pearl Dots
This cutie has been on my Etsy favourites list for awhile now. It's not really big enough to be a clutch, but I would use it as a mini wallet in a smaller purse on a night out.

Openweave Plaid Scarf
I'm finally joining the plaid train for winter, and I think this scarf is super cute. Check it out styled here. It also comes in holiday green.

Cozy Robe by Victoria's Secret
I've had the same robe since high school so it's time for an upgrade. I love robes that are actually cozy and warm so this one fits the bill.


What's on your Christmas wish list this year?
xo
Jenn

Monday, 18 November 2013

Les petits plaisirs - Séan McCann and Great Big Sea

Here is the next post in the series Les petits plaisirs. My goal for this series is to share things I've found to be little pleasures in life. It could be a quotation, a song, something I like to do, or even just a comfort item. Whatever makes me feel good inside, and I think may make you feel good too.


For the better part of 16 years, my favourite band has been Great Big Sea. A full half of my life can be chronicled by their music. I have seen them live 5 times and even met them in a Tim Horton's the morning following one of those concerts. I once went to their concert only a week after an unexpected surgery while I probably should have been laying on my couch recovering, but I just couldn't fathom staying home with GBS tickets sitting on my dresser. There is always a GBS CD in my car. 

Great Big Sea recently celebrated their 20th anniversary as a band. This has to be a remarkable achievement in the music industry. God, I hope we're not still talking about Miley Cyrus in 20 years.

While I love all of the band members, Séan McCann has always been my favourite. I have always admired his infectious energy, his back and forth banter with Alan Doyle, and his addictive singing voice. At a GBS concert I am in a different, beautiful place, and Séan McCann has always been a significant part of that experience. I was shocked and saddened to find out last week that Séan will be leaving the band in the new year.

Séan and the other band members have always been fiercely private about their personal lives. He has made a few solo albums and has a wife and young children, so those are pretty good reasons to stick closer to home. Or maybe he has other new projects in mind? While I respect his decision to leave the group, I selfishly hope he still keeps a finger in the music industry.

In honour of Séan, today's petit plaisir is his music. I know I'll be listening to my Séan McCann and GBS albums a little more this week.

Here is one of Séan's classics - The Night Pat Murphy Died


And here is one of his more recent songs with Great Big Sea - Good People.

Be sure to also check out some of his solo music here and here. My fav is The Reply (the ballad of John and Mary). For the mamas, he also has a great lullaby album.

Enjoy!
xo
Jenn

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

What I would tell you about sleep for babies if we were BFFs


I already mentioned that sleep was my biggest challenge when our son was a baby. If we were BFFs, this is what I would tell you about a baby's sleep in the first year.

The saying "Sleep when your baby sleeps" is still true. 
As science and technology advance, many aspects of the world today change at lightning speed and sometimes age-old advice is not always applicable anymore. That is not the case with this well-known gem. So leave the laundry, turn off your phone and take a nap.

Sleep deprivation may lead to severe nausea.
While the doctors at the hospital really could not explain the extremely severe nausea that I encountered about 36 hours after S was born, I'm convinced it had to do with the lack of sleep on top of giving birth. It took nearly a full day to get under control and then came back again a few days later. They gave me some pretty strong anti-nausea medications, and they didn't work. The only thing that really helped was getting some sleep.

Top up your baby before bed.
Even if you are feeding more on a schedule than entirely on demand, top up your baby with a feed before bed.

Newborns shouldn't sleep with a nightlight. 
A public health nurse told us about this shortly after S was born. Babies are not developmentally able to be afraid of the dark, and using a nightlight with a newborn can be damaging to their eye development. We were told on a darkness scale of 1-5, a baby's room should be about a 4.

Make a "going to sleep routine" and stick with it.
One day (of many) when I had called my mother in tears because I just couldn't get S to nap I remember she said to me, "You're doing too many things to try and get him to sleep. Pick 3 or 4 things you do with him before nap and bed. Do them each time, and he will learn the routine." Since then we have some milk, read a few stories, sing 2 songs, cuddle, and he goes into the crib. It took some time, but he did learn the routine, and it works.

White noise is magic.
Rob discovered the magic of white noise a few weeks after S was born, and then we downloaded our favourite white noise app. Genius.

Sleep training a baby does not mean he will start sleeping through the night.
I have no idea who put this ridiculous idea into my head, but I thought once we sleep trained S (we used the Ferber method), that he would start sleeping through the night. Nope. While he needed much less of the sleepytime-baby-rocking-dance to fall alseep, he still woke a couple times in the night for a good few months.

Sleep training a baby involves sleep training yourself as well.
It may be awhile before you get a full night's sleep again. My husband and I experienced levels of exhaustion we didn't know existed. I'd get angry because I was tired. Our bedtime moved from 11pm to 8:00pm. Lots of changes happen but, you're a team, and you can work through all of the changes together.

It's ok to talk to your mommy friends about their baby's sleep....a little.
I found it helpful to have a close mommy friend who's baby was just days older than mine. We were (and still are) able to check in and see if we are facing the same challenges. This can be so reassuring. Just be careful not to compare too much and create new expectations for your baby. Too often, I found myself assuming S should be sleeping a certain way because someone else's baby was or because the book said so. He is his own little man, growing his way.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.
After 5 months of really struggling, I saw a psychiatrist who asked me this question, "How many hours of sleep do you get a night in a row?" My answer was about 3 or 4. She told me that I had to figure out how to get 6 hours of sleep in a row at night. Restorative sleep happens at 6 hours in a row. So we put some strategies into place to make that happen for at least a week, and it made a difference.

Before having a baby, I had completely underestimated what it would be like to not have family in the city to help us. Were our families supportive? Yup. Did they want to help? Absolutely. Were they a 5 or 10 minute drive away on a bad day? No. But we asked for help anyways. Even if it was more inconvenient for them and a longer wait time for us until they arrived, asking for help from our families, friends, and doctors always got us back on track.

Also, feel free to contact a sleep coach. I waited way too long to do this with Seb. Catherine, from Motherhand,  helped us put a plan into place when S was a toddler and having a hard time sleeping without us in the room. She also specializes in infant sleep coaching.

It gets (even) better.
Having a baby is awesome. I am not strong enough of a writer to express just how amazing I feel when he brings me a book to read, or when I hear him laugh, or when I see him sleeping peacefully under his favourite quilt. It is the most incredible thing I have ever done. It is also the hardest thing I have ever done. On the days that it is hard, I promise, it gets better. And then after that, it gets even better.

Anything else you'd share about baby sleep with your BFFs?

xo
Jenn

Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional. These are just bits of advice I'm sharing based on my experiences. If you have any questions about your little one, please check with your family doctor. I'm sure they will be happy to help and understand if you are feeling overwhelmed. 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembering

Today is Remembrance Day.  Last week at my work we had our annual Remembrance Day ceremony. Every year this ceremony never fails to bring me to tears. Now being a mom, this year was absolutely no exception. By the end, after the speakers, slideshows, and trumpets, the two minutes of silence is not nearly enough to feel through the overwhelming gratitude that is spilling out of me towards the men and women who serve or have served in our armed forces and protect so many lives. The sheer amount of time they spend away from their families is extraordinary. Maybe I should relax a little when Rob is late for dinner.

I can't get the images out of my head of a dad in the army coming home from deployment and holding his newborn baby for the first time in an airport. Or a mom in the navy who away on a sail and missing Halloween with her daughter. Or the son and his mother being driven along the Highway of Heroes following the hearse of a brave brave man who won't be coming home with them.

This year our ceremony had a focus not only on remembrance, but also on compassion. We were challenged to ask ourselves, "What would soldiers fighting abroad wish for us to take away from this ceremony?" It's likely what they want for us is to show just a little more compassion, a little more kindness to others that we meet.

If you aren't able to make it to a Remembrance Day ceremony today, or even if you are, I recommend taking a few minutes to watch this video.



Our lives get busy. And it can be easy to wish for world peace and forget the real sacrifice made by so many, but today, I'm remembering.

I had difficulty picking an appropriate photo for this post.  Maybe it is this one of poppies peacefully blowing in the wind....

(image)

Maybe it is this one that so clearly says the message we are remembering.....

(image)

But really, maybe it's this one. My sister. One of many men and women who possess the incredible amount of strength, courage, and determination to do what is right and necessary when it counts. That path is not for all of us, but I am so grateful that it is the path for some. Thank you sis.


xo
Jenn

Friday, 8 November 2013

Ladies' Night at Les Misérables

Les Misérables is playing in Toronto right now, and last night I was lucky enough to be able to go with my friend Kelly.

Like many women my age, my first major introduction to the music from Les Misérables was Dawson's Creek. Remember? Joey singing On My Own with Dawson watching from the side of the stage. Finally, he was figuring it all out. I still think Joey and Pacey made a better couple, but I digress...


I haven't yet seen the Les Mis movie, or even read the book (although it is on my bookshelf waiting patiently). To say I was blown away by what I have been missing would be an understatement. The music and power behind this story gave me goosebumps.

I am used to going to the theatre to see 'feel good' shows. Mamma Mia!, The Lion King, The Sound of Music. Those are the shows I've been to see. By the second act of Les Mis there are many deaths, and I start to wonder if I'm going to leave the theatre feeling totally depressed. But really, this is a story of hope, perseverance, and love. And each of those three things makes me 'feel good'.  I think Les Mis will be in Toronto awhile so check it out. You won't be disappointed.

“Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

xo
Jenn
 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Toys That Get Played With (0-12months)

Here is a list of the toys that got the most play time at our house during S' first year. I've already started my Christmas shopping, so maybe this list will be helpful if you are buying for a little one.

 


We were able to borrow an activity gym/playmat and an exersaucer from friends to save some $. I'd really recommend doing the same for these two toys because they are only used for 6 or 7 months tops.





Jump baby Jump! OMG the Jolly Jumper. S lived in this thing from months 4-8 until he physically grew too tall for it. I'd put him in, turn on Gangnam Style and let him go. It was amazing. Hands down his favourite toy as a baby. Even when he grew too tall to really jump, he taught himself how to just swing in it. Hilarious. Also, like the playmat and exersaucer above, we borrowed a walker from a friend. Not only does it save $, but in the end, it does lower the amount of baby 'stuff' you have to store.

BOOKS!
Stay tuned for a whole other post on the best books for babies, but they are absolutely to be included in the "toys that get play with" section. S loved 'feely' books. Any kind of book that had textures in it was a hit at our house. And board books are a must. S is perpetually teething, and he will actually chew the corner right off a book if we're not paying attention, so his books need to be durable.

NB - most of my links are to Amazon, but they aren't always the best price. Be sure to look around :)

Know of any other 'must have' toys for babies? Add them to the comments section below!

xo
Jenn


Monday, 4 November 2013

Les petits plaisirs - This too shall pass

This week's petit plaisir comes from Sara and Marlene.

This past week was rough at our house. After already feeling run down, and a 13h work day on Tuesday with a lot of talking on my end, I lost my voice entirely when I got home. Our superfunandtotallyawesome Halloween plans were toned way down, and as I lay in bed thinking of blog post ideas and Googling remedies for sore throats that feel like they are full of burning glass, I remembered:

This too shall pass

Thanks ladies for the reminder. I also love what Sara wrote in her comment to me - that this quotation gets her through not only the rough times, but also reminds her to enjoy the little moments that are so wonderful with her family too.

Happy week everyone,
xo
Jenn

Friday, 1 November 2013

My First Diaper Drive {Local Love}

It's November 1st. For many men, this means the beginning of Movember. For many women, this means a month of seeing awkward 'staches every which way we turn (but totally worth it for a really great cause of course).

For me, this November is going to be my first Diaper Drive. I first found out about this idea here from the Rookie Moms website. If you've never heard of a Diaper Drive (I hadn't), basically you try to raise awareness about the need for diapers in your community and round up as many diapers to donate as you can.

The Diaper Bank of Toronto has posted some pretty real facts about the need for diapers in the city. Here are a few:
  • 1 in 5 Canadian moms have experienced diaper need. (In Toronto, the number is closer to 1 in 4.)
  • 24% of Canadian moms cut back on clothing so they can buy diapers. Even worse, 16% cut back on food.
  • Babies are kept in wet and dirty diapers for extended periods of time, leading to increased fussiness and irritation. In extreme cases, babies are using diapers for a full day or disposable diapers that have been cleaned or dried out.
  • This may also lead to babies who cry more, have worse diaper rash, and may be at greater risk for developing infections.
  • A mother's physical and emotional well-being suffers. They report feeling guilty, stressed, like a 'bad mother', frustrated, and anxious.  
The Diaper Bank says that "providing clean diapers provides moms with a sense of pride, joy and connection to their children."

My goal this month is to collect 1000 diapers. They can be new packages, opened packages, or even just loose diapers. Any size will do. Unfortunately, cloth diapers are not realistic alternatives for families experiencing diaper need so only disposable diapers are accepted by the Diaper Bank.

If you'd like to participate (and I hope you do!), you can give the diapers right to me or Rob when you see us, pass them along to someone who will be seeing one of us this month, or you can drop them off at the door of our house even if we're not there. I think the timing is perfect, because I'm so excited to know that a few more moms in the city will be able to spend less time worrying about diapers over the upcoming holidays, and spend more time making amazing memories with their babes.

So bring me your diapers and help a mother out ;)
xo
Jenn



ShareThis