Uninspired.

As I sit here to write this post I struggle to write anything. I have struggled for a while. The world has been especially plagued over the past couple of months with acts of hatred and death tolls that I never imagined to even be possible. Natural disasters that have ruined homes and families and taken lives. And as of yesterday, the loss of a Canadian icon who in the grand scheme of things is just one person compared to the aforementioned significant tragic losses of 100’s of lives, but we lost what he represented – unity and hope. And at this time in our lives, we need that, a lot of it. How do you follow that with a post about your top ten favorite movies or hair products? You can’t.

I struggle to write about anything that could possibly seem worthwhile right now when there is a world full of hell closing in on us and world leaders that are making sure it stays in your face everyday by using social media as not just a way to communicate but to spread their childish shit. Imagine thinking there would ever be a day where people actually used a forum that only gave you 140 characters to speak in as a professional mode of communication. Or that you would ever have a world leader communicating with people where it involved a hashtag or an emoji.

What I should have written about today are healthy Halloween treats or something nice and happy. But I can’t. Maybe tomorrow, but today I can’t. I guess at the end of the day, we need people to continue being positive and inspiring to make up for the complete and utter deficit that is happening everywhere around us.

I will, however, leave you with this. So you don’t feel extra depressed after reading this post. How adorable is my little gnome circa 2015.

 

 

Grief 2.0

Spoiler alert, there is no real thesis in this post. English gurus would say I need one but sometimes thoughts don’t make total sense. And today, here are my thoughts.

photo cred: Brady McCloskey Photography

With grief on my mind this week, as it’s the 2nd anniversary of my dad’s passing; I think about the victims, families, helpers, witnesses, and everyone in Las Vegas. Thousands of people are heartbroken, confused, upset and mourning. I remember the extreme difficulty of the days, weeks and months after Dad died and now I feel helpless in knowing there are so many more people who are in that situation right now around the world.

 

I don’t know why the shooting in Las Vegas feels more…. personal? (is that the word?) than other tragedies. Is it because I have been to Vegas and I love country music and I could see myself at a music venue? Is it because I have death on my mind this week anyway? Is it because it occurred on the heels of the terrorist attack in Edmonton, which is not that far from Yellowknife? Perhaps it is the combination of all. I find myself reading articles about the victims, the heroes and the aftermath of a mass tragedy.

Jimmy Buffett concert, Vegas, Fall 2013

As life passes, I forget details of the little things (what year I went to Bali, the address of my first apartment, etc.) but I don’t forget a lot. There are a few wow memories that I have with my Dad that I would like to share, to help me heal and to help all those who loved him too.

  • Waking him up at 5:17 am to get me to 5:30 am swim practices. This was such an act of love. Who wants to get up at that hour! (and then back at 7:00 to pick me up) But it’s a strong memory for me because we had fun on those rips to the pool and sometimes we would even run a red light or two….shhhh…  (Also, I was hardly an athlete so all these extra practices weren’t going to make or break my swim ‘career’. I could organize a hell of a bar/house crawl though. #goodatotherthings)
  • The first time he dropped an ‘F’ bomb. I was maybe 7 and he came home from work and there was no peanut butter left. I remember feeling shocked that my Dad knew how to swear.
  • His twitter account. When Dad got twitter, he liked to believe all the tweets he was reading were sent just to him. So in the mornings, he would say, “let’s see who tweeted me today”. His hashtag game was on point and his love of twitter was pure joy. 
  • Roadtrips. We went everywhere as a family. He (and momma!) instilled a love of travel in my siblings and I. To never stop exploring- be curious, be kind and be open to new things always.
  • His love. He loved life. He loved my momma, my sibs,his family and everyone I loved. One of my last great memories is when Jeff and I were home on PEI and we had a ‘drop in’ night at my parents place for my friends. He helped teach my friends how to shuck oysters, he had some drinks with us and it was so much fun. Having my parents, Jeff and friends all together at my childhood home was magical. What a night to remember- or forget. Dad was never stingy with the tequila in a margarita either.

 While we are all trying to get our heads around the horrible things going on around the world, let’s remember all the good things in the world too. I know this is far easier said than done on those extra tricky days. For all those who need it, I’m sending you love. Oh, and call your parents- tell them you love them.

 

 

 

Sleep: The most important word in the parenting dictionary

Sleep. Arguably the most important word in parenting. That might be dramatic but start losing sleep every night and you’ll be on board with my drama! If I could go back in time and tell my pre-baby self “bitch you ain’t that tired” every time I complained of being tired because I stayed out late drinking on a night before an 8am class, I would. That “tired” me wasn’t walking into door frames and throwing kettle bells at the gym because my hands couldn’t coordinate catching them.

The type of tired you experience when you have a child that does not sleep is the type that you could only understand if you went through it, its simply indescribable. I see now why it is used as a form of torture, it is very effective. I read an article stating that sleep deprivation costs Canada 21 billion dollars annually! As it turns out, people who don’t sleep enough undergo more physical and emotional stress and have compromised immune systems. Who would of thought, oh wait…..

Our journey started May 29, 2015, the day my son was born. He slept his first full night 10 months later after some tough love and sleep training (The Sleep Sense Program…incase anyone is looking!). It saved us. In the beginning of the book the author states that most couples contact her for help when they are on the brink of divorce, I get that. If my husband got 2 more hours of sleep than I did I would turn into a resentful, pissed off human. As if he did it on purpose  Obviously that didn’t do much for our relationship but it was the best I could do at the time!

After this, I started to feel like a real human again, for 8 full months I was a more functional member of society. And then a cold hit, croup, and an ear infection. Cue the two worst weeks ever where there were no rules for sleep, just cuddles on demand. We fucked everything. From that point forward our son would not go to sleep alone and rarely would sleep the whole night alone. We moved him from a crib to a double bed since neither of us are small enough people to fit into a crib! I turned into a co-sleeper, the type of sleeper I absolutely dreaded and did not understand why any other parent did it. I get it now, they did it because they were desperate for sleep and sleeping with their child was their only hope.

Four months later, here I am, writing this article. This past week we have seen the light again. We went back to the basics and showed some tough love and it has been a rocking success. I hate to even say that out loud. Next week I will likely be back here trying to take back these words.

To all you parents and caregivers out there. I get it. I am sorry you aren’t sleeping, I really am. I can only hope that there is a light in your future somewhere that will be your time to get some sleep. Also, I am sorry to the guy who was trying to get me to sign up for a MasterCard at the grocery store a few weeks ago. I owe a roofer an apology too. And my husband. I was tired.

H

Millennials and job hopping

I was talking to a friend yesterday about her teaching career that she is considering leaving if she does not get moved into a better position within the next 6 months. The reason: the work is not fulfilling, she doesn’t have a sense of personal growth, and finds it mentally draining. This led my husband and I to get chatting about how uncommon it is for our generation to stay in a job long term despite how perfect the job may be on paper. It seems so common for our parents to have retired from a job they were in for 20 or more years. To me, that sounds like pure hell and I am pretty sure I am not alone in that thought. But what is it that is leading our generation to not even be able to do 5 years without feeling completely stuck?

Now I am in absolutely no position to be pointing fingers, my resume is almost embarrassing I have moved jobs so many times in the past 5 years. In fact, since I graduated with my BSc. in 2009 I have done an internship for 6 months, a masters degree, changed jobs 5 times, moved internally 3 times within 1 of those 4, and lived in Ottawa, Ontario; Shenzhen, China; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Timmins, Ontario; and Charlottetown, PEI where I currently reside. Nothing about my resume screams “She is definitely an employee we will be able to retain long term” despite that I am in no way looking to ever leave a job or give the vibe that I’m here for a good time, not a long time. It just happens. The moment there is an opportunity for a new challenge or growth, I am all over it. Surprisingly enough, none of those decisions were ever financial based decisions.

This led me to a web hunt, why do millennial have a permanent ‘it’s complicated’ status with their employer? As it turns out there is a term for millennials in the work force called “job hoppers.” Apparently, employers are less and less turned off by us Hoppers as well and seeing 52 jobs on your resume isn’t such a bad thing anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that employers are looking for a person who cannot retain a job for longer than 3 months but according to Forbes magazine moving around every 1-3 years is seemingly acceptable.

a survey showed that in the US 71% of millennials are not actively engaged in their work place.

How often are we job hopping? The average millennial is hopping 4 times within their first decade after finishing college/university and the younger millennials are even surpassing that. Why you may ask? Although I think that question still gets an ‘it’s complicated’ status, a survey showed that in the US 71% of millennials are not actively engaged in their work place. 71%???????? We, millennials, are a bunch of employable loose canons. What is interesting that in another survey the number one thing that millennials are looking for when applying for a job is the opportunity for learning and growth while compensation came in 6th place. Basically, we aren’t here for the money although its a nice touch.

I think us millennials get a bad rap for being lazy mooches full of debt and living with their parents. However, I think there is more to us. If wanting to find a career that is fulfilling and provides opportunity for growth is a bad thing, then I think we are doing okay as a generation. However, if employers want to keep us, recruitment and retention strategies may need to be at the top of next month’s agenda.

H

 

5 Tips to Guarantee a Stress Free Wedding Day

The other day I had my wedding rings buffed and polished for the first time since I got married 8 months ago. Not to throw out a complaint brag here, but going to the gym makes my rings look like crud. I hope to keep them shiny for at least another week. Getting a fresh set of rings got me thinking about my wedding day which got me thinking about how awesome everything went. That led me to writing this post because things didn’t happen to go awesome by accident. I implemented a few important strategies for the day to make sure it was pure bliss.

Delegate Everything

I got this amazing piece of advice from a friend who told me not to leave myself one, single, tiny, minuscule little task for the day of the wedding. She was right. The day of the wedding I woke up at 8:45am (see tip #4), had a shower, went and had my hair and make up done with all of my bridesmaids, went for lunch, and headed to the resort to get dressed for photos. It was seamless and involved zero errands or tasks. No pick ups or drop offs or DIYs. Notta.

Disconnect

This is a big one. You are going to have a ton of people congratulating you, wishing you well, and asking 100 questions about wedding details. Give the decorators, coordinators, chefs, whoever may be involved the phone number of a bridesmaid. All questions should be directed to her/him and they can pass on anything that they feel is crucial. If you are going to remember all of the small details of your wedding day 50 years from now then it is important to actually be present for them.

Eat

Wedding days can be tightly scheduled and the one thing everyone forgets to include is food! Have a plan in place for breakfast and lunch ahead of time so that if your schedule does not allow for cooking or dining out, that it does allow for delivery at the very least. Feeling fed will keep you happy and feeling good. If you can fit in a fun little luncheon with you and your besties it only adds to the memories. On that note, you may want to try hydrating as well.

Sleep

Although these are listed in no particular order, this one should be number one. Do whatever you have to do to get a great night sleep before your wedding day. I am not doctor and I am almost sure this is not recommended, but a gravol and a glass of champagne was the perfect cocktail to have an amazing pre-wedding sleep. And, if you can arrange so that you are sleeping in your own bed that night too, even better. I woke up feeling fresh as a daisy!

Remember that not everything has to be perfect for it to be perfect

I know that somehow we are all lead to believe that everything on your wedding day should be absolutely perfect. They key to that is not actually expecting perfection. So what if it is a little grey out, if things aren’t running on time I guarantee people will wait, and photoshop will take care of any stress zits. The day will only be as fun as the bride and groom make it, after all you set the tone for the day. Not every wedding has to be Pinterest-worthy for it to be memorable and wonderful and most importantly, stress free!

H

 

My Wedding Dress

“Don’t be surprised if you get the first dress you try on!”

Truer words have never been spoken, at least to me, in the wedding dress shopping game.

Let’s back it up.

November, 2016. I headed to Calgary armed with some Pinterest saves, a handful of amazing friends and a vague idea of my dream wedding dress. My friend Jen magically got us some bridal appointments in Calgary on Friday morning. From there, we hit the ground running. Let’s be honest I was nervous! I don’t love dress shopping in front of a crew, I don’t love looking at myself in a million mirrors and I was anxious at the thought of not finding the perfect one, which meant, missing out on that moment that Say Yes to the Dress convinced me I’d have.

The first place we went to was The Bridal Boutique. It was elegant, modern and fun. They had great background music, the staff were on point, and I loved the intimate feel of being in smaller store. Sydney was assigned the task of getting me into my dream gown. I showed her some photos, and after a quick chat she disappeared into the sea of gowns. She reappears with one that I did not get too excited about, but, trusting the wedding gods (and Sydney) I tried it on.

I fell in love.

It was the most perfect dress. It was a million times better than what I could have even imagined. However, it was the first dress I tried on!  So, I tried on a few more at The Bridal Boutique. Then we left and headed to bridal destination #2.

The Bridal Centre is where we headed. It was big- mountains and mountains of gowns. No shortage of choices at this place! Staff were awesome, dresses were beautiful and I found one I really liked. But I couldn’t stop thinking about Dress #1. So, I made an appointment for the following day to re-try on my favourite dress at both places.

By six o’clock the next evening, I was back at The Bridal Boutique saying yes to the dress (without the chalkboard and other props.. not my style!). There were other shops- but none worth mentioning. I did learn a few things in my experience and allow me to share…

  1. Dresses that cost thousands will make you look good. This makes the decision so much more difficult. When a garment costs so much, it’s designed and built to look wonderful on a female body. Just be prepared- you will feel incredible  and it will be hard to stop. I was mentally prepared to be horrified by some dresses on me, but it didn’t really happen.
  2.  Communication is the key. At one point, the lady at The Bridal Centre was leading me down a puffy path of crinoline to which I couldn’t say no! I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, slash I liked trying them, even though it wasn’t getting me closer to my goal. Eventually, my friend Heather told me I had to tell her to stop bringing the wrong type of dress. I did, and the staff appreciated knowing where my boundaries were.
  3. Be prepared! They will ask what your budget for your dress is. It helped that Jeff and I had discussed this prior to, because otherwise, I think this question could catch a person off guard. Have some photos to show staff and have at least a blurry vision of what you are looking for.
  4. Have fun! My wonderful co-blogger at Ladies that Life, Heather, told me to have the wedding dress experience when I was making noises about ordering a dress online. I am thrilled I listened to her advice. Even if I hadn’t of found the dress on that trip, it was an amazing experience.

Last weekend I was able to try on my dress again, this time with my Mom, and I loved it even more. Louanna, the gal helping me this time, was equally as wonderful as Sydney. I was able to bounce ideas about hair, veils and accessories off of her and she was super helpful!

Overall, I loved trying on wedding dresses and I had such a positive and fun experience. Thank you to all who made it such a great time. To all those brides to be out there – I hope you love your time dress shopping as much as I did! Happy Shopping!  J

 

 

 

Kids Events: You Are the Absolute Worst

This weekend was a big one for us; that statement has a very different meaning now. I’m talking we spent Saturday morning at “Panda Fun” – think a MacDonald’s play place on steroids with small people everywhere. It would have been my idea of a pre-baby nightmare. Oh wait a minute, its my post baby nightmare also. Kids are screaming, some out of joy, some because their naps are overdue, some because they are just assholes. At one point I yelled at two kids as they bulldozed my angel over (you’re allowed to yell at other people’s kids right?) As our time came to a close, we did as all parents do, hauled their screaming toddler out of there because they were not ready to leave. Serenity now.

Fast forward to Sunday. We attended our very first Jack Frost Festival. We started off with a minor meltdown because my son didn’t want to wear his entrance bracelet, and then he didn’t want me to wear mine. Upon settling that major issue and ripping the bracelets off, we sat and watched everyone’s favourite Treehouse performers, Splash and Boots. It was actually a joy to watch how excited our little was watching TV somehow come to life. And then came the lines. The balloon animal line- 20 minutes. Face painting- 20 minutes. Bouncy castles- 20 hours. With kids E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.

I have always recognized that I was never really a ‘kid’ person. I mean I do love my own kid but I could take or leave yours. When I go to kids events, I hate them almost 100% of the time. But I do love seeing my own little one have fun. I am there solely for him and the memories, the photos, the giggles. This weekend truly solidified that you can have a child and love them and all that comes with them including their friend’s stupid birthday parties, Jack Frost, and Panda Fun even if you aren’t really a ‘kid’ person and if you think kids events are the worst.

Happy Monday!

H

 

Gratitude Journaling

 

I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful bestie named Jess. She is an international teacher, lover of photography, travel and all things stationary. Jess agreed to let me pick her brain about her gratitude journal for which she completed every day in 2016. This was my hope for this year- but it’s already February so maybe I’ll start in March? Eek.

A gratitude journal is a notebook/journal with a daily sentence expressing something you are grateful for. The benefits are plenty. Lower stress levels, overall feelings of appreciation, and an overall calmness before bed.

I asked Jess a few questions about her journaling adventure. Let her be as much of an inspiration to you as she is to me!

Why did you want to do a gratitude journal? 

My journaling adventure started a few days before the new year (2016). One of my New years resolutions was to intentionally focus on being more positive and happy. I know that in order to succeed at goals, they need to measurable, and so I figured writing down these moments would be a good day to reflect and make me smile at the end of each day.
I initially started by writing down my 10 favourite memories from 2015, and then proceeded to write down one moment from each day that brought me joy. I never wrote more than 1 or 2 sentences, because I didn’t want the journal to become daunting or to be considered as an extra task that was piled onto my already very busy schedule. I also used my journal as a sort of scrap book. I used some pages to paste notes, cards and other little keepsakes that were special that don’t always have a home. I printed some photos from Instagram and added little stories or notes of appreciation for the people in the pictures. When the year ended, I was left with the most wonderful notebook filled with pages and pages of memories to make me smile.

 

What surprised you the most during this process? 

The hardest part was pinpointing just one moment that made me happy each day. When I sat down to reflect at the end of each day, I was often overwhelmed by the tiny moments I remembered. Things that made me laugh, kind gestures, hang-outs and get togethers, delicious food, funny students, family and friends. There was often just so much to chose from.

Are you doing it again this year? 

Of course, yes!

Thank you Jess! Let her be an inspiration to us all !

Jess also has a website- jessicaohanley.com Go have a look and if you think her journal is amazing, her site is hella modern, visual appealing and massively impressive.

 

Veggie Valentine

I’m that teacher. The one who brings healthy snacks, particularly vegetables, for holiday snacks. But, guess what? The reviews from the kiddos may not be what you think.

For Halloween we celebrated with orange peppers and carrots. For Valentines we had cherry tomatoes and red peppers. I’m thinking broccoli and snow peas for St. Patrick’s Day? And we celebrate the whole month of June with our “Veggie of the Day Club”.

Let’s break it down.

In my school we have lunches provided as well as fruit for snacks, and the expectation is this: you don’t have to like it, but you must try it. We talk about food often and it pairs nicely with the ‘Mind Up’ program, which is a child friendly introduction into mindfulness and how the brain works. Turns out, cucumbers help your brain more than fruit roll ups.

For holidays, as mentioned above, we have an extra special treat. For Valentines Day this year, for example, they had to try a pepper before they could get their half of cupcake. Not one of them fought me on it, cried or made gagging sounds with fake throwing up actions. Mind you, I have had these students for at least five months and we have built a relationship. I have also noticed kids are  typically more willing to try things when their parents aren’t watching and when their peers are all doing it (the one time peer pressure can be a positive thing!)

Most of my students report they do not eat a whole lot of fruits and veggies for various reasons. However, this appears to be pretty well in line with the rest of the world. In 2014, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 93% of US children ages 2-18 were not eating enough veggies and 60% not enough fruit.

As for our veggie themed parties, the results were shocking! They enjoyed the veggies and some of them were shocked at how great they tasted. To say they gobbled them up would be an understatement. And, I promise this is true, one little gentleman said, “I like this pepper better than the cupcake”. Hearing one student literally yell, “WOW! THIS IS SO GOOD!” is amazing. He had never had raw pepper before.  Parents sometimes don’t believe me when I tell them that their darling ate *insert veggie here*. But, that’s the beauty of a classroom. When it’s safe, inclusive and fun they are able to take risks. And the rewards are incredible.

There are tons of opportunity to open up your kids to health fruits and veggies and here are a few tips:

  1. As mentioned above, if you are a teacher or shaping young minds in some capacity, encourage your school to bring in healthy treats for special occasions or rewards.
  2. Encourage your school to do do healthy fundraisers beyond the typical chocolate bar and cookie dough. Here is a great list of ideas and the internet is crawling with more!
  3. If your school can swing it, try planing a small garden so kids can see the true process of farm to table. If not, try visiting a local garden.
  4. As a parent, try to keep your own thoughts (and possibly facial expressions) about fruits and veggies that you personally do not like, to yourself.
  5. Involve your kids as much as possible in the buying or preparation of the fruits or veggies.
  6. Eat together as a family. Siblings and parents can always be role models for good veggie eating habits!
  7. Make it convenient. Try keeping chopped up cucumber slices, carrot or celery sticks in the fridge so they are as easy to grab after school as a granola bar.
  8. Make it fun! Talk about the shape, the smell, and the texture of fruits and veggies to take the focus off of trying something new!

Yours in Health!

J & H

Life after marriage, does it change your relationship?

heatherjustin-9942  On July 2, 2016, I finally said the words “I do.” Marriage these days- its tough. As common as the word marriage is in a relationship, the big D is likely the next most common – divorce. I feel like I live among a generation of people fearing marriage solely because they fear divorce. Not that anyone goes into a marriage expecting a divorce, but when 4 of 10 marriages in Canada end in divorce….you have to question if you could be part of that 40%. If statistics aren’t enough, what about all of those people who say how much marriage changed their relationship or that they wished they had of never gotten married or they would still be together today. Womp, womp. Depressing. This gets better.

Since my wedding day, I have been asked many times “have things changed in your relationship since you’ve gotten married?” Read “is your relationship worse now that you’re married?” And my answer is……not at all. In fact, it is literally the exact same as before the marriage. I am of course more poor now, but that is just a small post-wedding detail. Here is the thing, before we got married we had lived together so we knew all of the annoying things that each other did day-to-day. We bought a house together, therefore money, down-payments, mortgage payments, etc. were all open book items (I should also mention my husband is my accountant, so there truly are no financial secrets in my world), we went through the ups and downs of pregnancy because trust me there are many of each, and then we went through figuring out how each of us parented and how we could survive doing it together.

After all that, what about an official ceremony could possibly lead to our relationship somehow getting worse as of July 3? We have been through a lot of the hard stuff already. For the record, I am in no way encouraging people to start having children and buying houses before they get married to see if they would make good life partners to one another. But I am saying have those very tough conversations about those very topics. If one partner truly does not want children, do not hope that getting married is going to change that. If one partner has not disclosed anything about finances ever or is very vague, do not assume, by default, that they in good standing order.

Now, I know what you are thinking. This B**** has been married 6 months, what does she know?! All I’m sayin’ is that there is no way that ceremony will be the blame for any changes in our relationship because those are coming with or without the “I Do’s.”

H