Much needed

There’s something to be said for taking a break.

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go (don't worry, I brought clothes too...)

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go (don’t worry, I brought clothes too…)

A breather.

Oh, hi, beautiful double bed and room all to myself.

Oh, hi, beautiful double bed and room all to myself.

A few steps back.

Hotel pillow mints have NOTHING on Laura and her welcome handmade card and wee box of chocolate

Hotel pillow mints have NOTHING on Laura and her welcome handmade card and wee box of chocolate

A rest.

The view out my window

The view out my window

And this past weekend I got to do just that. I got to go away, kid-free, husband-free, responsibility-free, and go up north a ways to a beautiful bay and take 48 hours to myself.

The cottage was beautiful – four bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and my absolute favourite feature, a wrap-around porch (my dream house has a wrap-around porch).

Adirondack chairs on a wrap-around porch in cottage country. Heaven.

Adirondack chairs on a wrap-around porch in cottage country. Heaven.

The itinerary was ideal and perfect – hang out with five other Christian ladies, eat, drink wine, enjoy each other’s company, play games, get silly, run, sleep, read, write and do a bible study (we focused on Loving Well by Beth Moore – I really enjoyed it).

Gift journal from Laura, because she loves us.

Gift journal from Laura, because she loves us.

The weather was perfect – hot sun and cool breeze on a black sand beach. Glorious.

Does this look like the end of September? It didn't feel like it.

Does this look like the end of September? It didn’t feel like it.

And it was just what I needed.

How I spent my (weekend) vacation - laying and sunbathing and reading and writing on the beach

How I spent my (weekend) vacation – laying and sunbathing and reading and writing on the beach

I needed some grown-up time. I needed time to cry with friends. I needed time to hug crying friends. I needed time to pray in a circle of women that get it. I needed to connect with other mothers of littles and biggers, ones who have been where I’ve been, who are where I am, who are living the life I aspire to.

Sunset with incredible women

Sunset with incredible women

I met a marathon goddess who has defied great personal loss and is filled with more strength than I ever knew existed. My heart breaks for her and is in awe of her.

I met a stay-at-home mom who is living a little life, a life much smaller than she dreams of, yet does it with such grace. I hope my little life looks half as graceful as hers.

I met a mother of FOUR, including twins, who has her SECOND book being published. She gives me hope that the drips and scribbles of my writing could eventually, one day, make it past my computer and my notebooks and live in published form without sacrificing the family I love so much.

I got to know a woman of God, of faith, of hard work in the church, of solid marriage and soul. She is working so hard to have balance at home and in love and in life and she’s successful most of the time and I hope that one day I can work in faith again and have that balance.

And I got to fall in love even more with my dear friend Laura, the mastermind of the weekend, the woman who brought the six of us together, who was brave enough to lead a bible study and loving enough to be the hostess with the mostess this weekend. THANK YOU.

I even snuck in a 8km run...in cottage country...at the beginning of fall...serious heaven.

I even snuck in a 8 km run…in cottage country…at the beginning of fall…serious heaven.

I got home last night, sleepy, content, missing my family, and restored for another round of this thing we call life (chaos, mayhem, bedlam).

There really is something to be said for a break. Hallelujah.

~ Julia

PS. GIANT shout-out of love to Ben who held the fort down for the 48 hours I gallivanted about. THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU. You rock. ❤

Advertisements

5 ways to take the suck out of life

Life has recently not been so nice…or rather I am finding it more and more difficult in these hard and pressure-ridden times to smile.

So here are my five ways to give you a giggle or make you smile when things suck balls.

From the blog inspirefulness.wordpress.com

From the blog inspirefulness.wordpress.com

1. Laugh.
Laughing manically can help you in several ways. One of which is sending endorphins to your brain, which can make you feel a bit better… or it can scare other people around you, and then their scared faces can give you a chuckle.

2. Do something nice for someone else.
When you do something for other people, it can take your mind off the crap that seems to be raining down on you. When you are there for others, you stop thinking about yourself for a bit. It gives you the space you need so you can actually think about your problems from a new light.

3. Take joy in the little things.
There a ton of good things in your life and when life gets you down, you need to take a step back and count out the awesome things. For example, I just got a really awesome colour of nail polish given to me, or the fact that the days are getting cooler, the sky is the perfect shade of blue, and the leaves are turning the most beautiful colour.

4. Go on stupid road trips with your best friends.
It could be long road trips or little road trips, but if you have your best friend in the passenger seat then anywhere you go is awesome, and everything you do is wonderful.

5. Build a fort of solitude (blanket/pillow).
Not even going to lie. You should do this. Build a fort! Then hang out in said fort. No one can touch you in your fort of solitude! It’s magical that way.

This what I am doing to stay sane and to make sure I keep smiling. Feel free to comment and give me more ideas!

~ Andreah

The one year feat!

In the world of epilepsy they calendar milestones in years, although to an epileptic a day could feel like a year. For instance, you lose your license when you have uncontrolled seizures of any kind, something about automobiles and seizures not mixing? I am not sure, but the MTO in Ontario states that if a person has been seizure-free for a year then they may reapply for their license.

 To this epileptic this year was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am proud to announce I am one year seizure FREEEEE. 

I thought, what better time to look back on where I was a year ago?  Most people were starting school again and I was facing starting a new medication and talking about whether surgery was in order to further find out WHY I was not responding to any medication. There was a theory that was not very popular with my neurologist – I could be possibly be taking too much medication. It was a scary thought, to be over medicated. How could that even be? Modern medicine teaches doctors to treat symptoms, but what if it is a vicious cycle of treating a symptom that is being caused from a medication with more medication?

So I made a decision. I was going to get healthy on my own, sorry Doc!

I was going cold turkey, people. I was…what the fuck was I doing? I was being bold? I was being brave? I did it for me! For future babies!  For Cody!  For my family. I did it so when I called in sick to work, it would be simple – I was just sick, get better! Rather than “Are you home alone? Do you need me to come over? When will Cody be there? Does your mom know?” Hey, I am not complaining – I put this in place. I told my workplace what I needed medically and they were all in. I guess I am just that darn special! I did it for so many reasons and I kicked this year’s ass.

How? Well, I said no. I said no to a lot of things. I said no to when I knew it was too much to handle, I said no to trivial small things. I stopped sweating the small stuff, and it really is all small stuff. I said yes to me. I said yes to going to bed early if I was tired, I said yes to the cues my body was giving me. I said yes to spending more time with people who supported me instead of tearing me down. Who were looking out for my well-being as well as their own. I have an AMAZING support system all around me.

I started to watch what chemicals I was putting into my body in terms of processed foods. I said yes to more whole foods and tried to get rid of as much processed crap.

Let me tell you this journey was not easy. I am a people pleasing person, I like to do what you want me to do, I like being asked to do things and being leaned on. But when my own health became backseat, I had to kick everyone out of the bus.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS without the support of your neurologist. If you are reading this and think that this may be your case, then talk to your doctor first – do not throw out your medication because NO two epileptics are the same.

I commemorated my one year feat with a permanent reminder that I came out of the darkness – but I am not out of the woods yet. I am still very much an epileptic, and I can’t live life thinking I am invincible. Every decision I make, everywhere I go, everything I do, I am epileptic. I have epilepsy. BUT IT DOES NOT HAVE ME!

~ Jacqui

If you would like more information in regards to my journey, leave us a comment and I will be happy to email you.

IMG_1892.JPG

7 ways to use your horn

To celebrate Jacqui’s monumental 1 year anniversary of being seizure free, her and I ventured into the great city of Toronto to have the incredible Alana Mule of Adrenaline Tattoo Toronto fulfill Jacqui’s wish of permanently marking the occasion.

During our journey there and as we got closer to the city, our language got more colourful, stress levels (and pee levels, to be honest) raised and the use of my horn became more frequent.

Between the drivers that clearly don’t understand that the fast lane is not for driving, the ones busier with their phones than the gas/brake pedal/steering wheel combination in front on them, the ones following entirely too closely, and the ones that plain should have never been given a license (EVER.), our conversation was quite comical and quickly became a running list of the ways you could use your horn.

Seriously though... how do they pass?!

Seriously though… how do they pass?!

1. Marking your territory: This use can be applied in two ways – a) to avoid the side-swipe- when a driver doesn’t check their blind spot and decides that the side of your car looks miraculously the same as the scenery and road and assumes it can drive there, the quick, yet firm pump of the horn wakes them up and reminds them abruptly to use their neck AND eyes when changing lanes and b) to let road bullies know that you are not going to be pushed around by their aggressive lurches towards your car and that you are in fact using the lane you are currently occupying in current space and time. Thank you very much.

2. Saying hello: I might be alone in this and even at the risk of sounding nerdy I will tell you that I get pretty excited when I see friends and family passing by or out and about while I’m driving. This use of the horn is one of my favourites – a few little taps to acknowledge that we’ve seen each other and maybe shared a smile that can brighten any dreary day.

Guilty...

Guilty…

3. Expressing emotion…all of the emotions: The horn can be used when happy, sad, irritated, aggravated, hungry, helpful, mad, grumpy, excited, elated and especially pissed the fuck off. The problem is that the horn’s intent can often be misinterpreted – unless laced relentlessly, that one is pretty self explanatory – and is left up to the perception of the receiving or intended party. Due to the array of intents, I believe vehicles should come equipped with a range of tones and intensities. That way you can specifically say “eat it” to the jackass that wouldn’t let you in, yet somehow still ended up behind you – and he’ll know EXACTLY what you mean. 👍 win, wi…er…

See?! I think this is a great idea!

See?! I think this is a great idea!

4. Celebrating: Attending school in and then later moving to Cambridge, I quickly learned what the celebratory use of the horn was all about. While I have always been a soccer fan and supporter of Portugal in any Euro or World Cup, growing up in the country I  had no concept of the celebratory use of the horn in the true sense. Then I moved to my neighbourhood, which I lovingly refer to as “Portugalt” and when my national team won a game – hell, sometimes even tied one and mingia! You knew about it.

5. Speaking ‘big city’:  In a small town, even in a smaller city, you rarely, almost never hear horns honking, especially the quantity of horn usage that you do in cities like Toronto, Montreal and New York. It’s like the language changes between people and patience runs dry once you cross the border into a metropolis area and everyone there is pretty damn immune to it. I on the other hand still find it abrasive, annoying and for the most part neccesseary. I mean, I can understand one person honking at a person who is blocking a portion of an intersection, but all 50 people that have to edge around!? Excessive.

Makes total sense.

Makes total sense.

6. Announcing your arrival: This is one of those uses that I contend the appropriateness of. If you are old friends, close family members, best buds from back in the day, forever coworkers, etc., then YES, appropriate. If you are not as familiar with the person, for example you are picking up, say the woman you have only been dating a few weeks? Then, NO, absolutely not appropriate. Just ask Michael how this went for him… er, actually maybe don’t…

7. Providing a warning shot: Much like a warning shot in terms of fire arms, the horn warning shot rings the same message – “Your ass is about to get served to you personally”, whether that be a verbal schooling, or in the extreme cases, a physical altercation is about to take place, you may want to tread lightly if ever on the receiving end.

It runs in the family...

It runs in the family…

~ Toni

Introducing…

In our house, we are allergic to everything.

Let me rephrase.

We are allergic to everything with fur and feathers. Cats, dogs, bunnies, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, cows, horses, chickens, ducks, mice – allergic. Sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose, disgusting, unhappy, uncomfortable – allergic.

I am the most allergic between Ben and I, but even he gets a little runny and sneezy around dogs and cats.

Ben has a house rule: if someone (directed mostly at me) brings home something that we (again, mostly me) are allergic to, he will cook it for dinner.

And he’s really adamant and meticulous about keeping things that we (me) are allergic to away from us (me). I’ve only once been able to fool him into letting me have what should have been a never-in-a-million-years activity with a horse – we were on our honeymoon in Quebec City and they offer horse-drawn carriage rides around the Plains of Abraham. I told Ben that because we were outside and we were moving (i.e. there was a breeze), I would be more than fine. About five minutes into our tour, the lovely French tour guide said, “Madame, I’m afraid you might be allergic to my horse.” I nodded, while blowing my nose and wiping my eyes, and I said, “Maybe.” Ben was furious.

Ever since then his vigilance in keeping us (ME) away from all things allergen-filled has never wavered.

Now, you might have noticed that pets are quite popular among the Sisterhood. Toni has two sweet, giant dogs; Jacqui has two adorable breakfast-food/miniature dogs; and Andreah is cat-sitting. So, what the hey happened with me?

Short end of the genetic stick, I tell ya.

So, when events are held at either Jacqueline’s or Toni’s houses, allergy medication is taken, wooziness sets in, and all clothes, blankets, toys, etc. are washed when we get home. It’s just the way it is.

Through our pre-baby years of marriage, we were offered the chance to dog-sit a soft-coated wheaten terrier, a dog that is supposed to be hypoallergenic. We pocketed the offer and decided that after we had babies we’d consider it. We would hate to get a dog just to have to break-up and give away the dog because of allergies. That would be heartbreaking and a lot of trouble that could be avoided if we were just patient.

And then along came Sophie. Sophie who had an allergic reaction to the boxed rice cereal you’re TOLD to feed your babies as their first food. Sophie whose hands and wrists swelled up to more than double their size because we failed to wash a hand-me-down coat before letting her wear it. Sophie who gets licked by a dog and immediately gets welts on her skin. Sophie who can only have clothes washed in a specific kind of laundry soap or all hell will break loose. Sophie who gets itchy when she has too much dairy. Sophie, the queen of all things allergies.

Sophie clinched it – we would never, ever own a pet. Ever.

Or at least a pet that had fur. Or feathers.

But then…Sophie started asking for one. Asking why we couldn’t have a cat, dog, bunny, cow, horse, etc.? And when we explained that any and all of those things would make us sick, she would get heartbroken, which of course makes us (ME) a little heartbroken.

So, Ben and I had THE talk. The should we get a pet, talk. The our options are limited in what we can bring home, but should we bring something home, talk. And we thought about responsibility. And we discussed death. And we thought about cost. And we worked on timing. And we decided.

Yes. Yes we would get a pet.

A fish.

We didn’t tell the girls where we were going and on Friday morning, a school holiday, we drove to the pet store and made the magic happen.

We knew we wanted a fairly hearty fish who would survive living in our zaniness with 3 under 6 being their owners. So we settled on a Betta or a Siamese fighting fish. The downfall with these? They have to live alone, otherwise they’ll fight the other fish, so we were only getting one fish, which means the girls would have to decide on ONE fish, not one each.

After narrowing it down, both girls picked their favourites – Sophie a beautiful red, purple and blue one, and Lillian a lovely multi-hued blue fish. We brought in some big guns for the tie-breaker- Isaac. We held both jars with the fish in them over the stroller and Ben asked him to pick one. Within seconds we had our fish (for the record, that will be burned and will self-destruct (I hope), Isaac picked Lillian’s fish).

Oh, hello!

Oh, hello!

We bought a bowl, a net, some food, some water conditioner, the girls each picked rocks for the bottom, and Isaac “picked” a plastic plant. We were all set.

Once we got home, with the fish (and everyone else) in one piece, we set about getting our fish’s new home ready. Both girls opened their packages of rocks so we could rinse them off.

Bowl rocks are serious business

Bowl rocks are serious business

Next up, some lessons in sharing the sink.

Teamwork!

Teamwork!

And some lessons in not throwing rocks in glass house-bowls.

GENTLY.

GENTLY.

Isaac was super helpful during this process.

Isaac taking care of other business.

Isaac taking care of other business.

We double-triple-quadruple checked the water temperature and set up our fish’s new house, complete with landscaping.

Move-in ready

Move-in ready

Some prayers, held breaths, and finger crossing, and voila! Our fish was swimming around in his new home.

Reviewing the rules: no touching the bowl or the water or the fish. No holding the fish or petting the fish or moving the bowl. Look with your EYES.

Reviewing the rules: no touching the bowl or the water or the fish. No holding the fish or petting the fish or moving the bowl. Look with your EYES.

Now for a name.

We needed a democratic process because 4 out of 5 of us are very opinionated. Or at the very least able to articulate our opinions. (Sorry, Isaac.) So, over lunch, which the girls loved because we called it a lunch meeting ( so formal and fancy!), we each offered suggestions for our pet’s name.

Not sure if they're all winners...

Not sure if they’re all winners…

After careful deliberation, we narrowed it down to four selections: Blue, Optimus Prime, Superman, and Finn. How to choose?

We decided that as Isaac chose our fish, so he should choose the name. Ben came up with a simple process – give Isaac four blocks, each one representing a name. Whichever one he picks, that’s what the fish’s name will be.

Ben set up the test…

Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions

…and Isaac picked.

He grabbed two!  Always the rebel.

He grabbed two! Always the rebel.

And so, it is with great excitement, that we introduce the newest member of our family: Blue Finn.

I think it suits him.

I think it suits him.

It’s been three days and so far we haven’t killed him.

I think we’re off to a great start.

~ Julia

A day in the life: Andreah edition

I am currently the unemployed sister. Which, let me tell you, sucks. I hate sitting around doing nothing. Thankfully that won’t be the case soon, with a current job prospect on the horizon, but right now, my days are boring.

A typical day in the life of me right now is tedious and long and just plain redundant. Most days run into each other, so I honestly can’t tell you which day is which.

Thankfully though, the day I decided to do “My day in the life: Andreah edition,” was the day I needed to paint, but I am getting ahead of myself.

A typical day starts between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., depending on if I need the car, or if Joe wants 10 more minutes of ‘snuggles.’

I clearly don’t wear pyjamas to drop him off, because although I don’t have a job, I still may be asked if I could help, so I always wear dark clothes, and try to look awake, Which as you can see isn’t the case this morning.

Super awake face.

Super awake face

Then I feed our house guests, a.k.a. the reason why Julia can’t visit us at the moment.

Niko. And a can that was played with, silly cats!

Niko. And a can that was played with, silly cats!

Marley

Marley

We lock up…
20140916_090859
…and take the stairs, that totally are haunted. I don’t care if you think I’m crazy, I swear there is an angry old man in them.

Super creepy staircase.

Super creepy staircase

We get in Gladys, and drive to the shop to drop off the Joe.

20140916_094243
When I get back I usually start cleaning. Today is the bathroom…

All clean!

All clean!

…the vacuuming, mopping, and sweeping…

My vacuum.

My vacuum.

…and then the painting.

Before the paint!

Before the paint!

And then the after (Don't mind the dishes, they are for later)

And then the after (Don’t mind the dishes, they are for later).

Then I go through more of our stuff, decide what needs to go, what needs to stay, and then organize.
20140916_213801
Then around 6:30-7:00 I head to the shop, and wait for Joe to be done at work.

We come home, make dinner at whatever time we get back, and eat.

Apparently the sisterhood is doing chicken!

Apparently the sisterhood is doing chicken!

Then we watch a movie/season of a TV show/play video games. Relax, and talk about our days.

Nighttime snuggles!

Nighttime snuggles!

I know, though, that one day there will not be all the time in the world, I will miss these moments, alone, in a clean house, but for right now, I wish it was a little less lonely.

So there you have it, a day in the life of Andreah at the moment. Times are going to change and days will be completely different! Here’s hoping!

~ Andreah

A day in the life: Toni edition

This theme was an idea proposed to us by our Julia and at first I thought it would be a cute/light/fluffy/standard kind of post and was pretty excited to have an assignment.

But then it turned into a sub-conscience review of how I’ve been spending my time and where I dedicate myself.

Usually, I am a well balanced citizen – I work 8-10 hours a day in a Monday-Friday, office job. I exercise regularly, squeezing in a run and a workout as often as possible. I cook a healthy, hearty meal for whoever happens to be in the house that evening, or join a few girlfriends for a bite if Michael is working.

However lately it has been a bit of a gross imbalance and I’ve been a bit more of a workaholic then I normally am. There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, so I’m digging in, taking a page from my hero of overtime and putting in the work required.

That being said and without further ado, a day in the life of current Toni:

I usually set my alarm and successfully wake around 6:00am without issue, earlier if I am ambitious enough to squeeze in a morning run. But lately…

I can't believe I actually operated my camera properly... Already 10 min of snooze activated

I can’t believe I actually operated my camera properly… Already 10 min of snooze activated

Yes, I have to set two alarms, one iPod, one phone. I'm the worst.

Yes, I have to set two alarms, one iPod, one phone. I’m the worst.

When I ACTUALLY got into the shower :/

When I ACTUALLY got into the shower :/

In my defence, it is hard to leave this face, which without fail is sprawled out beside me (all person-like) every morning.

My gorgeous girl

My gorgeous girl

I’ve become a master of the braid for simplicity sake, but on this particular morning I was lucky enough to have showered post-run the night before which gave me a bit of time to properly get ready.

After a quick body shower for a wake up, I grab my makeup bag and wait for the first interruption of my day…

She's baaaack

She’s baaaack

Without fail, Adrian wakes up and wanders into our washroom wondering where I’ve gone, peering at me with her big hazel eyes, bucking my hands with her nose when I begin my morning routine and attempt to make myself look a little less tired…

Seriously though. Relentless.

Seriously though. Relentless.

After a few more attempts to lure me back for more morning cuddles with her and the handsome gent I’ve left behind, Adrian goes to find Rocky and allows me to put on my makeup, put a wave in my hair and get dressed.

Miraculously though, when I head back to the washroom for one final look over….

She is the sweetest pest, ever.

She is the sweetest pest, ever.

After a few more attempts to wake my fiancé, and a few more attempts on his behalf to get me to stay, I manage to make it to my truck – Billie – who on this particular morning, due to my lovely triple snooze and lack of K-cups, is on a life saving mission straight to the life juice…

Life juice - no-fancy-smancy- Frapa-waste-of-calorie-nothing, just a blonde blend with milk.

Life juice – no-fancy-smancy- Frapa-waste-of-calorie-nothing, just a blonde blend with milk.

You will notice that the life-juice for me was more important than the life juice for Billie…

Luckily it seems Billie warns me a great deal in advance of when she will actually be out of fuel, so I chance it and safely roll into the parking lot at work just after 8:15.

Although I secretly prefer to be quiet in the morning and ease into the day, I happily and cheerfully greet my co-workers milling though the kitchen, fill up my water bottle and head up to my desk, which in the morning looks like this…

This is about as clean as it gets, which for my OCD does not do well.

This is about as clean as it gets, which for my OCD does not do well.

My meetings began almost immediately – mostly reviewing details of upcoming events and planning for future projects that I will need to know about. After about the third meeting, shortly after 11:30, I excuse myself for an early lunch and manage to fit in a personal appointment.

Kuljeet – the most amazing aesthetician, ever – thankfully squeezed me in after trying to make my schedule work with hers for quite a few days. She is also conveniently located 4 blocks from my office – a win in my books.

Say hi to Kuljeet everyone!  She's the master of all things body care and aesthetics.

Say hi to Kuljeet everyone! She’s the master of all things body care and aesthetics.

After allowing Kuljeet to torture me for 20 min and then paying her for it, I jetted back to the office (yes, Billie jets) and lost myself in an afternoon of packing for a sales dinner, attending 3 more meetings, tending to our brochure and printing needs with my rep James, and answering the insane amount of email and requests coming my way without pause.

By roughly 3:00pm, my desk looks as though a bomb has gone off…

A little anxiety just looking at it like this...

A little anxiety just looking at it like this… And I tidied it for the picture…

After leaving the last meeting of the day I realized that Michael has messaged me multiple times, wondering if I will be home on time, stating that I obviously will not be and then contemplating a night out with friends if I wouldn’t be anytime soon.

I caught him with a call and apologized for another later than desirable night and we made plans for the evening. When we hung up I realized it was only 5:45 so I decided to answer just “one more email” and before I knew it, it was 7:00 and I was LATE.

7:15 when I walked in the door... Please notice the ever present Doberman requesting my attention.

7:15 when I walked in the door… Please notice the ever present Doberman requesting my attention.

Deciding I was too tired to whip up a from scratch meal as I usually would, we debated the quick and easy dinner at home, take out, or an evening out date night style. We settled on quick and easy and I whipped up a round of delicious chicken-bacon, grilled-cheese sandwiches for myself and my stud.

3 things:  1) thank goodness for this panini press - best gift ever.  2) too tired to remember to take pictures of my delicious creation in process 3) Michael was STARVING and demanded his food before I could take a picture of his too

3 things:
1) thank goodness for this panini press – best gift ever.
2) too tired to remember to take pictures of my delicious creation in process
3) Michael was STARVING and demanded his food before I could take a picture of his too

After we devoured our lazy and unhealthy meal, I eased Mike into the idea that I was not done for the evening and still owed my weekly post by promising to watch a movie with him. So we curled up to Wolf of Wall Street and I wrote the night away (read: was constantly distracted by Leo, and all of the boobs, sex, drugs and profanity going on).

Trusty iPad, sweats, a flick and my man

Trusty iPad, sweats, a flick and my man

Now, with the clock rolling over the 24th hour and creeping slowly into today, my day in the life post is complete and I desperately need sleep.

~ Toni

A day in the life: Jacqui edition

My morning starts with feeling Cody get out of bed. Some mornings it’s earlier than others, but on this particular morning it’s at 5:40 am. I hear him rummaging in our room which has not been cleaned in months due to work and life. Then he makes his way over to me and I get two kisses and an I love you before he leaves. Bacon then takes advantage of his warm spot and here is where the battle for me to get up begins.

Wake up....  notice it's dark out ... when did that happen?!

Wake up…notice it’s dark out…when did that happen?!

My alarm is set for 6:05 – I couldn’t tell you why I asked for the 5 extra minutes in the morning, but it doesn’t make a difference. I lie in bed with my two pups, Bacon and Hendrix, until the very last absolute second. They are such good cuddle buddies – it makes getting out of bed a lot harder.

Don't we look motivated

Don’t we look motivated?

More motivation

More motivation

When I get out of bed, it means outside time as the dogs don’t get up with Cody. I make my way downstairs and turn on the coffeemaker, make myself a delicious cup of “wake the hell up” and then me and the dogs head outside.  If I didn’t spend too much time procrastinating in bed and calculating my morning to leave me with JUSTTTTT enough time to get to work (most calculations fail as I am almost always late) , there may be a walk in the morning; however I am  not motivated in the mornings, and neither are they *thank god.*

Morning play time

Morning play time

After the morning stretch is done, it’s back inside to log on to work for a teensy bit and eat some breakfast. For the most part, it’s me looking at emails from the night before as the dogs lie underneath me trying to entice me to go back to bed – I must resist (I will probably fail horribly).

The morning continues with a shower and getting ready for work which normally includes me trying on 1000000 and one outfits and always settling on the first one I originally decided on only to notice I am now 5 minutes late for work. And here is the kicker -I live TWO…count ’em TWO…minutes from work. Literally.

I am standing out side my house - See where the light hits .... that is my work place.

I am standing out side my house. See where the light hits? That is my work place.

I am a Medical Review Officer Assistant at work, which means I get to talk to some pretty interesting people, but it’s the people I work with that make it a fantastic atmosphere. I have made some pretty life-lasting friendships. Ashley, who you all know, I met at work, and I also met Jessica, my pod-wife extraordinaire.

I took this picture without her knowing what was happening - this is my pod wife - ahaha love you Jess!

I took this picture without her knowing what was happening – this is my pod wife – ahaha love you Jess!

There are two areas in the department I am in and we are pretty secluded from the rest of the daily staff.  I specifically deal with people who have tested positive during their drug tests and are required to speak with the Medical Review Officer.

It can get pretty stressful at times, which is why I am so happy I have some pretty fantastic ladies who are there with a chocolate bar, a coffee, a hug and so much friggen support!

That's better!

That’s better! Jessica and Teresa! Two of the fantastic people I work with!

I work in a cubical – I have put in my request for an office with a view, but for now I guess this will do!

IMG_1853[1]

My desk – nothing special, but I spend more time here than at home, or in my bed…that thought haunts me!

Once work is done, I go home to relax. It’s goose season, so it means that Cody won’t be home when I get there and it’s up to me to decide on dinner! I recently bought this amazing recipe book called Looney Spoons, so tonight, since I have the house to myself, I have decided to tackle a new recipe! Baked Fried Chicken! Seriously you should go and buy the book, it has so many fantastic recipes. I have already made three and Cody loved all of them!

IMG_1824[1]

This chicken was fricken goooood.

Dinner is done just in time for the handsome fella to come home, which means dinner and couch time with our family to wind the day down.  Man I picked a good night to let you guys in on!  I know my life is pretty glamorous.

My family <3

My family ❤

And then off to bed we go, to do it all over again. Pretty fantastic huh? I live it and I love it.

~ Jacqui

A day in the life: Julia edition

I was the mastermind behind the “A day in the life” posts that you’ll see here this week. Mostly so I could spy on my sisters. And so I could see how childless and working and non-working people spend their time. I know how spend my time…and it always seems like a lot of running around for a lot of nothing. At least, nothing you can actually see. So, what does a day in the life of Julia, stay-at-home mom to three kids, ages 5, 3, and 1, look like? Here we go!

My day starts EARLY. Mostly because I need some Julia time in the day and by the end of the day I just don’t have the energy for it. By the time every little’s head hits the pillow, I SO want to join them. So my alarm is set for 4:45 a.m. and I’m usually out of bed by 5.

Then it’s get dressed to get sweaty, have some water and something small for pre-breakfast. The morning in question it was a peach!

Pre-breakfast of champions!

Pre-breakfast of champions

I’m out of my house by 5:15 a.m. and listening to a little CBC radio. This early in the morning it’s BBC programming, but it’s adult and talking and gloriously quiet and CHILD-FREE.

Proof!

Proof!

Then it’s off to one of two places: either running with honourary sister and my sister-in-law, Kim, or walking with my other mom, my mother-in-law Dianne (and Kim…she slept in that day…LAZY BUM).

Hello gorgeous!

Hello gorgeous!

Every weekday morning starts with something active…and I LOVE IT. Then it’s back home for just before 7, where I usually walk into the kitchen to find this:

What the...?

What the…?

My handsome husband Ben gets up with the babies, gets them dressed and breakfasted so that I can have a little me-time right off the hop. LOVE YOU, Sir. From here, I grab a quick shower (no pictures!), if I’m lucky, or get changed out of sweaty clothes into more respectable clothes (you know, hanging out in public with showered people clothes). Then, it’s the sprint for the door.

Multi-tasking babies - making block castles and putting on socks.

Multi-tasking babies – making block castles and putting on socks.

I make sure everyone has what they need for their day: Sophie for senior kindergarten, Lillian for potty training nightmares, and Isaac for eating, pooping, napping, and playing.

Oh, hai Mom! I'm just making a giant mess in the kitchen while you run around. No big deal.

Oh, hai Mom! I’m just making a giant mess in the kitchen while you run around. No big deal.

And I attempt to insert a little food and caffeine into me so I’m not a nightmare myself.

Coffee numero uno (aka most important coffee of the day)

Coffee numero uno (aka most important coffee of the day)

Usually by this point, everyone doesn’t want to leave and we are LATE. So, the fight out the door begins.

Fight number 1 - what shoes to wear. Answer: ANY SHOES PUT THEM ON NOW.

Fight number 1 – I WANT TO WEAR ALL THE SHOES THAT DON’T HAVE MATES. Answer: PUT ANY PAIR OF SHOES ON NOW.

On the day that we’re following me around for, Lillian had speech therapy, so we were driving to school instead of walking. You’d think this would make it easier, faster, etc. etc., but NO. Do not be fooled. Driving can sometimes take INFINITELY longer because of all the added packing into the van and packing out of the van and packing back into the van. Seriously. Walking out the door to go to school is so much easier. A double-stroller, three babies, one neighbourhood kid (who I walk and watch before and after school), the phone, some keys, and we’re off. Easy-peasy. The van? Appointments? SO MUCH MORE COMPLICATED.

Fight number 2: I WANT TO OPEN AND CLOSE THE DOORS AND CARRY MY BACKPACK AND I DON'T CARE THAT I'M CRAZY OR THAT WE'RE LATE. Answer: GET IN THE VAN NOW NOW NOW.

Fight number 2 – I WANT TO OPEN AND CLOSE THE DOORS AND CARRY MY BACKPACK AND I DON’T CARE THAT I’M CRAZY OR THAT WE’RE LATE. Answer: GET IN THE VAN NOW NOW NOW.

We live just over 1 km from the school, which takes us, complete with stick-picking-up, worm-examining, and various temper tantrums, 25 minutes to walk. To drive, 2 minutes. Maybe. With kids? 15 minutes, easy. We leave for the school around 9 to get there for the bell at 9:20. Kids are AWESOME.

Oh, hai, pack mule.

Oh, hai, pack mule.

Parking around the school is INSANE and people are INSANE, so we park on a side street and walk a little. The moment all the children explode out of the van, I become the carrier of all back-packs…which I don’t mind. The kids are so small and the bags are so big. AND they’ll run (not meander) if they’re not weighed down. Win-win.

Notice that the only kid wearing a backpack is Lillian...the kid who doesn't NEED a back-pack but demands to bring one.

Notice that the only kid wearing a backpack is Lillian…the kid who doesn’t NEED a back-pack but demands to bring one.

We drop off the neighbourhood friend first and then we wait with Sophie in her school line for the bell. At this point, Lillian goes to the fire hydrant and tries to scale it. Every. Day. Even though I tell her not to. Every. Day. My life is so glamourous.

After Sophie goes inside, with waving and hugs and ‘Have a good days!’, it’s the short, yet TAKES FOREVER walk back to the van.

Lillian is in that tree. No, seriously.

Lillian is in that pine tree. No, seriously.

On this walk back to the van, I had to flag down another mom to make sure Isaac didn’t roll away in the stroller while I got Lillian out of the tree (no, really), and then we could get in the van. Lillian was a butt. And crying. Because I made her get out of the tree. I’m such a mean mom. No, seriously.

We made it. Alive. Barely. But we're here.

We made it. Alive. Barely. But we’re here.

Once we get to the fabulous organization that provides Lillian with necessary auditory verbal therapy (AVT or speech therapy), the first task at hand is to get Lillian to go pee. AKA let’s pull out all of our sweet and nice and not frazzled voices to calmly coax the shy, ridiculous bomb of a kid who could go off at any moment to put her pee in the toilet instead of all over everything. Super fun times. I swayed her with the promise of pushing the handicap button to open the door. She took the bait and peed. Success. Off to hang out with Heather, our speech therapist extraordinaire.

Lillian and Heather chatting at the beginning of the session. I love that Lillian CHATS. <3

Lillian and Heather chatting at the beginning of the session. I love that Lillian CHATS. ❤

Lillian rocked, Heather was amazing, Isaac was a bum who tried to get into everything, and I cried. No, seriously. I think it’s because I was tired. And I had only one cup of coffee. And my period is coming. And the morning had been stressful getting four kids to school in the van and make it on time for our appointment. And I’m really worried about Lillian and her going to school. But I was talking about the various things I’m planning on doing to help Lillian get ready for school (another post for another day) and voila! Tears. Heather, a mom herself, was lovely and didn’t get scared. She talked me out of my tree and all was well. Whew.

After therapy, we went to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for lunch at Aunt Kim’s house. It was her birthday and we pinned her down for a lunch date so we could love on her. (Note: It’s also Uncle Todd’s birthday (they’re twins) but he had to work because he’s a grown-up and he lives farther away, so no date with him. Love you, Todd!) We got Caesar salad ingredients, a rotisserie chicken, and a giant loaf of French bread. Easy, yummy, and baby-friendly. I got another round of all of that for dinner that night so I wouldn’t have to cook/come up with anything at 5 p.m. Not just a pretty face, my friends.

On a mission for some birthday fun!

On a mission for some birthday fun!

We got to Aunt Kim’s (and Emma’s!) house at around 12:30 (traffic was nuts because of an accident and every route was a nightmare) and quickly set up lunch.

Hungry, hungry babies eating spatulas.

Hungry, hungry babies eating spatulas.

After we devoured the food, we got to eat delicious cupcakes baked by Kim for her birthday (she’s so super fabulous…and ridiculous).

So pretty!

So pretty!

Lillian loved them…

What do you mean icing isn't the same as hand cream?

What do you mean icing isn’t the same as hand cream?

…and so did Emma.

Do I have something on my face?

Do I have something on my face?

Next up, Emma went down for a nap and Lillian and Isaac decided to play with all of Emma’s toys, like the good cousins they are.

Ball pit, anyone?

Ball pit, anyone?

While all of that ‘fun’ was happening, I got to do this:

Hello, coffee number 2. I've been waiting ALL DAY for you.

Hello, coffee number 2. I’ve been waiting ALL DAY for you.

But, did I get a picture of the birthday girl? Nope. No I did not. Super photographer/blogger here.

Soon it was back in the van to go get the Sophie and friend from school. More packing just so we can unpack so we can pack again. Yay.

So sleepy. I feel exactly how they look.

So sleepy. I feel exactly how they look.

We got back to the school with 10 minutes to spare before the bell. You’d think that would be enough time…but some days, you’d be wrong. It all depends on Lillian’s mood. Are we running? Are we crying? Are we exploring? All very different speeds there.

Isaac didn't make it. Lillian had cupcake to burn off. Run to the school it is!

Isaac didn’t make it. Lillian had cupcake to burn off. Run to the school it is!

We made it in time and I got a text saying that our friend had a doctor’s appointment, so we wouldn’t be picking her up. One less kid to pack and unpack on a Friday afternoon. DEAL.

Since we didn’t have the friend and I already had dinner in the bag (literally) and we had the van (which means no walking home), we hit up our good friends the Bakers for a play date. Our other friends, Andrea, Baby Ben and Natalie were also there. It was lovely to catch-up since we hadn’t really had a chance since the beginning of the school year. (Schedules are hard, y’all.)

Isaac exploring the not-so-baby-proofed house

Isaac exploring the not-so-baby-proofed house.

After we played for a bit, it was after 5 and time to get home. Leaving a play date is always dicey. No one wants to leave and everyone is cranky (including me). So, it’s round up children, firmly, and over a period of TOO MANY MINUTES and leave with as few of them in tears as possible (including me). This time only one kid was crying:

I'm the worst mother for making her leave and then for taking this picture.

I’m the worst mother for making her leave and then for taking this picture.

School has been rough on her. The return to the schedule and no quiet time in the afternoons and no sleeping in has kind of run her over. She earns her bedtime every night. I’m hoping in a couple of weeks she’ll be back to normal and the freaking out will stop. Please.

We get home, unpack everyone, and go inside. I attempt to clean up the kitchen in lieu of cooking dinner, but someone wasn’t having any of it:

Dammit, Mom, pay attention to ME!

Dammit, Mom, pay attention to ME!

So instead, I sat down on the couch and chilled out with the babies until our saviour made it home.

Underneath babies, chilling out

Underneath babies, chilling out

Finally, finally, Ben came home just before 6. On days he bikes or takes the bus (because I need the van), he gets home just before 6. On days he takes the van, he can get home as early as 5:25. Those 35 minutes make all the difference in the entire world. SERIOUSLY.

He's here! He's here! PRAISE THE LORD!

He’s here! He’s here! PRAISE THE LORD!

Ben goes upstairs to shower and I return to the couch to wait for him. There’s no way I’m making dinner with Isaac losing his mind. Some days I can. And most days I do. But I’m just as tired as him and it won’t be pretty. Best to wait the 10 minutes and get Ben to help with dinner prep. He comes downstairs, he takes over dinner, and it’s like magic.

Children playing quietly and nicely around his feet. Tricky to walk around, heaven to listen to.

Children playing quietly and nicely around his feet. Tricky to walk around, heaven to listen to.

Then supper, where we talk about our days, the plans for later that night or, in this case, the weekend. A time for knock-knock jokes and I-spy and singing and reminding to sit on our chairs, eat over our plates, stop throwing our cups/food on the floor, get our toes off the table and for the love of god, finish eating! There’s nothing like a family meal.

It looks fairly organized...but don't be fooled.

It looks fairly organized…but don’t be fooled.

After dinner, Ben hangs out with the babies and I tidy up. It might seem like the 1950s have settled in our home after dinner, but the truth is I never get to clean up without ‘help’ during the day and I love the zen of it after a crazy, loud, constantly moving day. So Ben plays, which I do all day, and I clean, which I love because it’s without children hanging off of me or undoing what I’ve just done right behind me.

Just one day of crumbs and dirt and debris...jeepers.

Just one day of crumbs and dirt and debris…jeepers.

And now, the most wonderful time of the day: bedtime.

Isaac usually goes down with the girls. I nurse him while they’re getting pyjamas on, he might make it through one story, and then he’s whisked off to bed when things get too cranky to handle. But on this night, we had no schedule and no long naps, so Isaac was mad and tired nice and early. I left Ben to hang out with the girls…

Snuggle time with some TV

Snuggle time with some TV

…and I snuck upstairs to watch The Queen and nurse my tired fella.

I used to read while I nursed, but then he started grabbing the books...so now he eats and I watch a movie with captions on and no sound.

I used to read while I nursed, but then he started grabbing the books…so now he eats and I watch a movie with captions on and no sound.

After Isaac is down, it’s the girls’ turn. Pyjamas are put on, stories are read, babies are wrapped, blankets are layered in a very specific order, and children are tucked in. I LOVE what bedtime accomplishes. Getting there? Fighting to get them INTO bed? I hate it. But when they actually make it? Heaven.

We MADE it.

We MADE it.

Now, what do two parents whose children are all sleeping do with themselves on a Friday night? Ben always asks me what I want to do. And I never know. Or if I know, I don’t want to tell him because I want him to be able to do what he wants to do before I sway him with my opinion. So, this face happens:

"What do you want to do?"

“What do you want to do?”

And I tell him, I want to vegetate. I want to stop moving. I want to stay still. I want to zone out and watch TV. And that is all.

Out come the treats…

Don't tell Toni...

Don’t tell Toni…

…out come the pillows…

I'm laying down on a couch by myself. HOLLA!

I’m laying down on a couch by myself. HOLLA!

…and we decide on watching Modern Family episodes (they’re quick and not as long as a movie…because let’s be clear…I’m not going to make it through a whole movie).

Look at my date!

Look at my date!

After snacks are consumed and I’ve had enough time to enjoy being by myself, the (G-rated) snuggling happens, which is one of my favourite parts of the day…after bedtime and actually sleeping.

So happy together!

So happy together!

At 10ish, I decide I am all done. We turn off lights, make sure everything is set up for night feeds for Ben (we alternate night feeding so we’re both equally sleep-deprived. Romantic, right?), and head upstairs…which Isaac senses every. single. night. Without fail, he wakes up to eat right before I want to go to bed. BAH.

More nursing, more The Queen, only this time, in pyjamas

More nursing, more The Queen, only this time, in pyjamas

Once Isaac is back in his bed, Ben gets under the covers and falls asleep INSTANTLY. Which is crap, because that usually means he starts to snore INSTANTLY. I, on the other hand, need to read before bed or my brain won’t turn off. It will run every worry, to-do list, every missed opportunity, every forgotten item or task ever, and I’ll never get to sleep. I’ve been reading Annabel by Kathleen Winter, which is beautifully written. I love the language and the way the story is being told. It doesn’t hurt that it’s written by a Canadian woman, either.

Her writing is described as luminous, and I can't disagree

My sleeping pill

And finally, finally, it’s time for bed. I’m whooped. The day has been loooong and full. And tomorrow? Well, tomorrow I’ll get to do it all over again. Yay!

Waaaaay past my (ideal/desired/never hit it but wish and dream about it) bedtime

Waaaaay past my (ideal/desired/never hit it but wish and dream about it) bedtime

~ Julia

Can we try a little acceptance?

Remember the old saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’?

Well, I call bullshit.

It’s hard being plus-sized, and times don’t get any easier when younger generations seem to get harsher.

When you walk into a store, and hear people talk about you, your size and the way you look, it doesn’t hurt any less than when I was a kid and all my playground to high school bullies would comment on my size over and over again.

It hurts and the flashbacks aren’t any more fun than experiencing it the first time.

I am trying and working on loving myself, but when I hear from four teenage girls who I don’t even know, “Can she get any bigger?” I think it’s gone too far.

When you tell your child, while I am looking through the plus-sized section, not to eat too much because you don’t want to look like her, well I just say that goes too far, and although I don’t make a comment, and just try and brush it off, it still gets to me. It still hurts.

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

Made by epic designer Carol Rossetti

I just want to say one thing when people out in the world make me feel like a tiny insignificant speck of nothing – Screw you.

I like food, and although I am working on cutting down the fat, I love good, delicious, healthy-for-you food, and didn’t get this way by eating fast food. I got this way by having poor eating habits, not eating choices. I got this way by being severely depressed, wanting attention, and getting it through the wrong means. And yes, I am paying for it now, but I didn’t do anything to your child, you, or anyone around you, so why must you comment? Why comment on people’s lives, their weight, or anything else about them? Why can’t we all just be nice to each other regardless of what they look like, and why the hell can we not appreciate who they are?

That person who you are talking about? Yes, they may be overweight, but they can still hear you!

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

That person may be wearing outrageous colours, but maybe it makes them feel good, and what right do you have to comment on how they look?

Granted, I am a firm believer for dressing according to my body size, but just because I don’t think I can’t make a tube top work, doesn’t mean anything about you! It means that I can’t flaunt all of me yet. I will get there, and I will learn to love my body, but it doesn’t happen overnight and weight loss doesn’t happen in one swift moment. Trust me, I know.

But one thing that would probably make everyone’s lives a ton easier is to stop judging based on appearance.

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

Stop belittling other people because you think it makes you sound better than you are. One day those teenagers are going to learn what it feels like to be on the other side, and the next time I may actually say something. That mom in that store may one day have an overweight child and will learn to accept their faults and love them regardless.

I may not be able to teach you these lessons, but I hope one day we all can learn to accept faults in ourselves, because that’s where we should be looking first.

I do want to end this blog post on a high note – that no matter what I think of myself and no matter what anybody says, I know Joe thinks I am beautiful; he says it to me every morning when we wake up and every night before we fall asleep.

~ Andreah