Monday, 31 August 2015

This Is Our Fight Song



I know that breast cancer awareness month is typically October, but this is a post that just can't wait. I recently found out that a friend of mine from high school has been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. In school, Jaclyn and I were good friends. We are the same age. I remember her as kind and funny, with a positive and energetic spirit. The Jaclyn I knew was a loyal friend with a warm heart and one heck of a gifted soccer player. But, as happens so often to many, we lost touch after graduation.

Then last week, this video appeared in my Facebook news feed. Jaclyn, brave in front of the rocks that face her, shared her heartbreaking story with the world. She is married and the mama to 2 beautiful little children. She is now in the battle of her life. For her life. Here is her story.





Tough as hell, Jaclyn isn't giving up yet, and she needs our help.

  • Please consider supporting one of the Jac Attack teams running this fall. There is one team for Run for the Cure and another at the Zombie Thrill Run
  • Or sign up to participate in either of these runs yourself. I will be signing up for Run for the Cure in Toronto on October 4th and encourage as many people as I can to join me. I am running for Jaclyn.
  • Share her video to help her raise awareness not only for her own fight, but for any other mamas fighting to have just one more day with their families because of cancer.
  • Consider becoming a volunteer for the Chemo Angel program. Through this program, you can get connected with someone just like Jaclyn and send a little light and love their way while they are going through chemotherapy. (Just today I received an email that Chemo Angels are actively seeking new volunteers willing to write to patients in the U.S.)
  • Go get your annual physical. It doesn't matter if you are 24, 34, or 64. This is no joke. Cancer in young women is particularly aggressive. Call your doctor today if it's been awhile.
  • Be kind to one another. I can't even imagine what Jaclyn's days must be like right now, but I can only hope they are filled with kindness, compassion, and love. Three things of which we can always use a little more. Everyone is fighting some battle within. We just don't always know what it is. 

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

Fight Song - Rachel Platten

xo
Jenn

#jacattack

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Save.ca App Challenge - How to save money on your weekly grocery bill!

Confession - I'm a lazy grocery shopper. For anything else, I'll comparison shop online for days before making a purchase, but I just don't do that for food. I don't have time to sift through the flyers that arrive at our house each week, and I won't go to multiple grocery stores for different items. I don't even use a single flyer to plan meals based what is on sale at the one grocery store I do plan on using. I have never price-matched anything in my life.

A typical week of grocery shopping and planning in my house goes something like this:
1. Plan out meals for the week. See what I have in our freezer that I can use up and keep in mind evenings that we're busy or I'm home from work later to make sure dinner is a bit "easier" that night.
2. Make a grocery list on paper of what I need still to prepare our meals.
3. Pick a grocery store near us almost at random, and go get the groceries.
4. Feel lucky if something I wanted to buy was on sale, because I sure didn't plan it.

Save.ca recently challenged me to use their new app when planning my weekly shopping trip. The goal - see how far I can stretch my budget of $50.

Planning 

 




Step 1 - Pick the flyers you're interested in and add them to your favourites.

















Step 2 - Tap the photo of the sale item you want to remember to buy to add it to your shopping list. SO easy!



















Step 3 - Add any other items you want to buy by typing them into "My List". (Note - all of the deals for these items will be easily accessible for viewing once you do this as well. I needed milk, and I instantly saw 23 deals on milk).














Step 4 - Check out the "Cash Back" items to see if there are any there of interest and add them to your list as well. With a three year old boy running around, we use Shout Stain Remover like it's going out of style, so it wasn't hard to decide that deal was perfect for me.













Shopping
Use "My List" when walking around the grocery store and then just tap the item to cross it off your list.



This app is well-organized and has quite a few features. I really loved that just tapping a photo in a flyer added that item to my list. Plus it was so easy to "cross out" items when I was shopping. No more fiddling with a pen and paper and no hard surface to actually cross out an item anyways.

I also really love the cash back feature. For this, you just take a picture of your receipt right in the app and upload that photo to make your claim. Save.ca pays out when you reach a cash-back threshold of $5. At that time you can redeem your savings and have the funds deposited into your Paypal account.




Armed with the app on my phone and $50, I went to Sobey's last weekend. Here's what I bought!



My total cost was $50.10. Not everything I needed for the whole week of groceries is here. Even with the Save.ca app, I need more than $50 to feed our family for the week. But, I made some really great purchases, including a lot of frozen meat that will be perfect for busy nights as the school year gears up again. Plus, using the app I saved $18.55. That's a savings of 37%!

In addition to my savings of $18.55, I also earned $3 towards my cash back. So, really my total savings was $21.55 which is pretty incredible on $50.

I don't think I'm ready for an episode of Extreme Couponing just yet, but I'd call this first attempt a win.

The Save.ca app is available for both IOS and Android.

Happy Shopping!
xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - This post was sponsored by Metroland and Save.ca. All thoughts and opinions using their great, new app are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Time Dawson's Creek Got It Right

Lately the Dawson's Creek theme song has been playing a lot in my head.....Cue Jann Arden..."I don't wanna wait for our lives to be over..."
Not because I miss the Dawson-Pacey-Joey love triangle (For the record, I'll always be Team Pacey), but because I find that Rob and I have been putting more and more things on our To Do list that we'll get to "sometime".
- Finally paint up the patches from electrical work done 5 years ago in the hallway? We'll get to it.
- Deal with the hole in our kitchen ceiling? Ya, we should do something about that.
- Date night? That's a good idea. One of us should text the babysitter.
- Family trip to Niagara Falls? Ya, that would be fun.
- A weekend away? Sure, when Sebastian is older. 

I think it started after I saw this post from Scary Mommy. I love Scary Mommy because they're edgy and controversial and help me not take myself too seriously. But when I saw this photo, I thought, I don't want to wait until Sebastian is 18 years old to feel like I can start living my life.


If this is our forever house, we need to finish up these renovations. At least the ones that just involve painting. If our friends invite us for a night away, we need to go. Date night once a month is not negotiable. A babysitter is not going to magically appear at our door with movie tickets and a dinner reservation. We have to figure it out. This is our life now. It's not going to start when Sebastian is an adult.

We're busy and tired and always worrying about disrupting the routine of our toddler, but I feel we're learning that he's more resilient than we think he is.

When Sebastian laughs or smiles his little three year old smile, it slays me. His whole world is what we choose to show him. What are we waiting for? This is our life. We've worked hard to get here.

There will always be nights at home when the clock strikes 8pm and the Netflix + wine combo is necessary. Parenting is such a battle between trying to get more sleep and having some time to do your own thing. But I want to try more to have that not be our night every night.

There will always be nights on vacation when our children aren't sleeping well in the hotel room. Does that mean we shouldn't travel? I hope not. There is so much to see and do and experience through their eyes. I don't want to wait until he's older. I want to start doing and seeing with him more now.

Faster than I like, Sebastian will be 18. I highly doubt I'll be done "parenting" then, but these moments won't be the same. They say the days are long, but the years are short. So, here's to making the most of the days and years we do have with our little ones.

xo
Jenn

Friday, 14 August 2015

Weekends are for Reading - Best Books for Toddlers



Here's a round up of the books that were read most often when our son was 2-3 years old!

I Spy Little Books
These board books were a fast favourite. I thought he'd get bored looking for the same things over and over, but he super loves these kinds of books. The key at this age is to get the "little" books so he can match the pictures and he doesn't need you to read the words like in the bigger I Spy books.



Hide and Seek Books
He quickly graduated to this line of books. It's the same idea, finding pictures on the pages, but the books is much bigger so it lasts longer. The only downside is that it's not a board book, so we're constantly repairing them. But we own all 4 in the collection, and they are still the most used books in our house to date.



Little Critter Books
I grew up reading these books, so it's fun to read them with Sebastian. They're usually a good length for a toddler attention span.



Marley Books
The author of the book Marley and Me, also wrote a number of children's books starring the famous Marley. Sebastian loves these books and all of the silly things that Marley gets up to.



Rookie Toddler Books
We went through a phase where these books were coming home from the library almost every week. Our son loved them. They are short, quick, easy to play with books that he enjoyed often.



Quiet Books
Because my mom is all crafty, she made Sebastian two beautiful quiet books. One with a variety of little quiet activities and another that was all about colours. They are stunning, and a really wonderful gift idea. I've tracked down a few on Etsy.






What books were read all the time by your 2 year old?
xo

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Cooking With Toddlers - Roasted Tomatillo Salsa {Guest Post}


Please welcome Kari from Cooking With Toddlers. She's here to share a recipe that's easy to make with your little ones at home. Thanks so much, Kari!

Husking tomatillos are irresistible to young ones. The papery cocoon that houses the sticky tomatillo is magical and something that must be investigated my three year old will tell you. Our bald tomatillo plants will concur since nearly all the plants in our garden lay bare, their protective husks missing. In a moment of maternal busyness, I noticed my little one systematically removing all the tomatillo husks only before it was too late. Since clearly tomatillos were of interest to my budding gardener and chef, we took it upon ourselves to channel his curiosity in a productive way. Roasted tomatillo salsa was decided upon and my little one was overjoyed to learn that he would be husking a pound and a half of salvaged garden tomatillos.  Working with these enchanted little fruits is an activity that will keep children occupied and fascinated for a good long while; a perfect way to spend a balmy summer afternoon.



Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • Juice from 1/2 a large lemon

 Directions
  • Broil the tomatillos and garlic until all sides are charred. You will need to turn the garlic and tomatillos every few minutes until evenly charred (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Blend the remaining ingredients with the broiled tomatillos and garlic until smooth.
  • Chill until ready to serve.







Kari writes at www.cookingwithtoddlers.org, a site dedicated to eating and preparing plant based foods with little ones. She has two boys three and under. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

My Favourite Photos from Our Wedding Day

This is one of my favourite photos ever. That's me in my mom's wedding dress and my sister in our aunt's wedding dress. We were pretty cute right?!

This Saturday will be Rob and I's 6th wedding anniversary. If someone was to ask me for one wedding planning tip I'd say that make sure you have a great photographer. We loved ours, and he really kept us organized on the big day. I always love looking back at our wedding photos.














These two pictures always make me laugh because it looks like my bridesmaids are naked! lol


















Looking back at these photos always makes me smile. I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into our wedding day, too!

xo
Jenn

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