How to survive weird work hours

Along with having pretty random jobs, I have also had pretty random hours for shifts.

At one point doing school portraits full-time and working at a gas station part-time I would be up for hours on end and sometimes days with only small naps in between – and let me tell you, that doing an overnight in any kind of work is hard, and requires certain key things in my opinion. So I give you my…

Four Must Do’s to Survive Weird Work Hours!
1. You must find something to keep you AWAKE: I am talking caffeine people! I know this one is pretty self explanatory, but honestly, I used to go for the energy drinks, and still in a pinch I will pick one up if I really need the boost, but you can crash with energy drinks, especially if you are not used to drinking them. Coffee. Tea. Whatever is your thing? DO IT. Keep those beverages coming!
coffee
2. Sustenance to keep you from the overnight shift hang-over: The first time you EVER do an overnight your brain feels so funky the next day, I find that you can counteract some of the funk the next day by drinking plenty of good fluids and eating healthier options throughout the night so your brain doesn’t feel quite so bad. You may be depriving your body of sleep and depriving it from a routine that you have been in pretty much your whole life, you should not deprive it in other areas when it is in it’s hour of need.

3. Always have a task: The trick here is to not think about the fact you are up, you think about what you can do next. I find I can process and do more things in the middle of the night than throughout the day if I just stay on task and keep moving.

4. Have some awesome people to work with: Whenever I worked overnight at the gas station, my boss would be in super early in the morning, and she was awesome. Even the guys delivering fuel in the middle of the night were awesome. At one point I even started recognizing the middle of the night regular customers. It helps that even in the job I’m in now when I work evenings, I still get to hang out with some awesome people.

Now these are my must do’s when I work weird hours, what are some of yours?

~ Andreah

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Days like these

If you had asked me when I was younger what my life would look like in my 30s, as a mother, as a wife, I would never have been able to guess it would be this.

That my house would be a complete disaster every single day, unless company was coming over, and then it was a minor disaster to be put on hold for a small number of hours.

All the dishes. All the time.

All the dishes. All the time. (That dishwasher is there purely for aesthetic.)

That I would go to bed thinking about all the laundry I need to fold, wash, put away…yet never ever get to.

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch?

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch? (That chair is tipped over because Isaac likes to climb).

That I would be a stay-at-home mom, walking babies to school, cooking all the meals, in charge of all the cleaning, and watching my hard-earned degree gather dust on our wall.

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

That I would be forced to negotiate with the most unreasonable creatures on the planet just to put on their shoes so we could go to the park FOR THEM, or eat their food because they were the ones sobbing at my feet hungry, or to go to bed and sleep because all of the hysterics that they are currently stuck in are because they are tired.

Waiting for snack time...weirdly patiently.

Waiting for snack time…weirdly patiently.

That I would not get a hair cut in over a year simply because I would need to orchestrate a child-care/salon hours/extra time formula that only works once every 15 months or so.

Can you see my kitchen table? I haven't either.

Have you see my kitchen table? I haven’t either.

That I would donate all of my dress pants, skirts, blouses because I don’t need them anymore – my uniform consists of durable material, wash-and-wear ensembles with denim being the star.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac. And the random dirty sock.

That we would not go to church in months simply because we are too sick/too exhausted/too worn-out to get to one more place on time.

That sitting on the couch and zoning out for an hour, followed by an early bedtime is my idea of the perfect night.

That eating hot food is an anomaly so rare that I regularly burn my mouth whenever the opportunity does present itself.

That I would drink and seek out and need coffee to fuel my day, every day.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

That the feeling of not having a body on me or near me or touching me would be more alien than having three children piled on and around me.

That sleep would be the most precious and most scarce commodity in my life, so much so that on days where the babies are overnight somewhere, sleep is all I can think about.

That when planning our 10-year anniversary trip, that it’s a legitimate toss-up between Europe and an all-inclusive tropical resort because all I want to do is SLEEP.

That I would be fulfilled by the feeling of a smooth, not sticky counter, kitchen table, coffee table, floor.

That I would find pleasure in finding miracle cleaning products that worked instead of just made me work.

That I would write more, clean more, cook more, and walk more with babies hanging off of me, screaming at me, crying on me or asking a million things of me, than not.

He's not really a fan of this blog post.

He’s not really a fan of this blog post.

That I would love my babies more fiercely than anything ever. That I would do all of the above and more for them because it’s ingrained in my DNA that they are mine and I must fight for them.

That I would get up and repeat over and over and over again, regardless of the fact I make no money, have no sick days, and no vacation time.

If you had asked me then, I wouldn’t believe you. And yet, it’s the most natural thing today.

~ Julia

Are we home yet? – Baltimore Trip Pt 3

We did it…. well they did it, but I like to think our specific cheering squad helped boost morale. If you could HEAR the screams from Ben, and how Toni almost lost her voice, then you would think the same too.

I don’t even know how to write this seeing as we are no longer in the play offs as the Patriots defeated us. Isn’t sports lingo great – defeated – how extravagant!

I was placed with the task of writing about our way home – but I didn’t want to.. I still don’t want to. I want to still be there, still walking around with the rest of the fans, basking in us winning, us still being in the playoffs, still seeing Ben jump down the streets with so much energy that he had to do push ups in the hotel room in order to get some energy out.

However, we came home…we drove…for forever…and ever. I almost got sick – seriously I suck at car rides. I had Gravol, fresh air and I am sure everyone was thankful for that.

There were some highlights of the way home, so maybe I should just let you know about those. Because I wouldn’t personally like to read a sad blog about coming home from a vacation where we were stuck in the car for hours on end!

In the morning, the bakery attached to our hotel had chocolate croissants that were FRESHLY made that morning. As everyone was packing up and getting ready for the day, and to sit in the car, I went to the bakery and got coffee and croissants and brought them back to our meeting point of the trip, Julia and Ben’s room. Now do I have pictures of these delicious amazing, goooooeeeyy flakey yummy pastries? No I do not – because we ate them before I could get a picture of them. They were so good – so darn good!

JUST KIDDING!!! Of course I have a picture – jeeze this isn’t amateur hour, we bought more!

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Yum-O look at those eyes!

We even bought more for the drive home, so the beautiful picture you see above is our second batch of delicious treats.

Another highlight of our whole trip was how friendly everyone was – even as Mike was setting the GPS for home, a man who noticed Mike walked up to the open window and asked if he needed help to get any where. He then proceeded to tell us the completely wrong way to get home, but that was not the point. The point was he wanted to help – he told us to go from his house, which we were no where near, to get to Canada.

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The way home was long, like I said before. But with a great seat partner, which I had, and a request to go SHOPPING – it was made more bearable!

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Seat partner extrodinaire – who even held my hair when I thought I was going to throw up!

We stopped in Pennsylvania to stretch our legs, get food and to get some shopping in. We stopped at Victoria Secret where Julia found the love of real bras again since she has stopped nursing, Toni also bought little goodies, and I bought comfy pj’s. I also had my first Macy’s experience where I found and bought a dress for my wedding shower, and Julia and Toni tried to figure out how to steal a very large mirror that was sitting in the change room.

seriously ... can't take them any where!

Seriously…can’t take them anywhere!

After we were thoroughly scolded for wanting a car break from the men who failed to book off the next day, we were scurried to Subway where the option for “double meat” was asked very cordially. I declined…and I am happy to report for all our heart and waistlines’ sake, no one got double meat.

We were then shoved back into the car and whisked back to the border. The car ride home was uneventful – we tried to get home as soon as possible for fear that the rental fairies would turn our Tahoe back into a pumpkin.

The rest of the trip was a blur of…

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And this…

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With maybe a little bit of this…

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All in all it was a great trip – and I leave with you this amazing entrance picture of the great Suggs. Seriously, how bad ass is this picture!?

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It was a great trip, an amazing trip – and by far the best present I have ever given to Cody – even though the picture evidence that I have doesn’t really show it.

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This was after we won…I swear he loves me! Just kidding, love you babe!

~ Jacqui

Game Day! – Baltimore Trip pt. 2

Waking up in Baltimore on game day was a bit surreal.

We were actually going to an NFL game! A critically important-for-the-home-team-game. A game that both of my brothers-in-law and man had only dreamed about before this Christmas present plan was hatched. A game that a few short months before had been just that – a plan.

The sisters BBM’d our good mornings, agreed to meet shortly and got to getting ready for a hearty breakfast in preparation for an afternoon of beer and football.

Gathering in the hallway outside of our well-accommodated rooms in a row, conversation covered the beds in The Lord Baltimore hotel receiving mixed reviews, with the sirens and interesting screams from the streets below gaining a collective dislike. We were clearly in need of coffee and sustenance.

We decided to try out The French Kitchen, one of the in-house offered restaurant choices, for breakfast and quickly fuelled with coffee, eggs, steak, bacon, and of course carbs in the form of croissants, pancakes and lemon cake.

The internal entrance from the hotel

The internal entrance from the hotel

Our waitress was awesome and extremely friendly, we had the restaurant to ourselves, and even better the food was quick and delicious (and for the record did not have the side effects as the Hardee’s excursion of the day before).

Our fantastic waitress!

Our fantastic waitress!

The French Kitchen was a win in our Canadian books!

It even had this amazingly placed bush...

It even had this amazingly placed bush…

At this point containing the men’s anticipation for getting down to the stadium was next to impossible, so with a few last minute preparations to outfits to get game ready, we headed out on the short jaunt to Raven’s Walk for paraphernalia purchases and our first exposure to tailgating.

I would like at this point to revel in the fact that we were wearing t-shirts and jeans – IN DECEMBER – and at one point I even broke a sweat. In a t-shirt. In December. Best weather for game day, ever.

Best Ravens' fan vehicle, ever.

Best Ravens’ fan vehicle, ever.

We were quick to locate a vendor that sold the jerseys the boys wanted and one carrying the sweatshirts and must-have Raven’s face tattoos that the ladies desired and then headed towards the stadium with the growing swell of energy-filled fans.

All geared up!

All geared up!

This is my nightmare...

This is my nightmare…

Such an awesome moment

Such an awesome moment

Seats and beer acquired, kickoff was one cheerleading and one big-band performance away.

Now, here is where I am going to lose the part of our reading audience that came here hoping to read a play-by-play of what turned out to be a thrilling, once in a Ravens fan’s dreams type-game, however my ability to recall these details is lacking. Also, there are many websites dedicated to such a task.

What I do remember were the giant smiles on all of our faces as kickoff took place, and the cheers, screams and bellows that came from our row of 6.

These people <3

These people ❤

I remember the Browns’ fans in our section taunting us, the confused fan not knowing what team his loyalties laid with, the hot dogs that made Jacqui so happy and the beer that gave me the giggles.

Browns family, Raiders hat, Ravens jersey.... So confused

Browns family, Raiders hat, Ravens jersey…. So confused

Stadium dogs - cheers!

Stadium dogs – cheers!

I rememebr being worried in the third quarter as we lagged and it didn’t seem a win would be in our corner on our mini-vacation.

Worried in the third...

Worried in the third…

And mostly I remember the screams, cheers and excitement that came in the fourth when Flacco started throwing and we made a run for the win.

The best moment though came when the Ravens did win and it was announced that Kansasa City had defeated San Diego, meaning the Baltimore Ravens were headed to the playoffs.

They did it!!!

They did it!!!

The sound and feeling of the crowd of 72, 000 hometown fans erupting in celebration will forever be ingrained into my brain and heart – what a feeling! Even more to that, I got to experience it and celebrate it with 5 of some pretty damn important people in my life. Amazing.

Fans celebrating, players and families rushing the field

Fans celebrating, players and families rushing the field

Even writing about it now, I can feel the rush that came with those moments.

The walk back to the hotel was filled with play-by-play recaps of the most exciting movements both on and off the field and of course a pit stop for coffee. The satisfaction of the day still fresh on our faces, we returned to our weekend home-base and quickly decided on an evening in to cap it off.

We split off shortly to change into our comfies and reconvened back in Julia and Ben’s room (as it was most conducive to community hang outs) where we settled on taking a chance with room service.

Once dinner concluded, we were treated to a royal rumble between Jacqui and…well, everyone that she could egg on. The wresting match between Julia and Jacqui – which ended in a throat jab and face slap delivered by Julia – turned into a wrestling match with Cody, followed by a double threat gang up attack on Ben, which his injuries might lead most to believe Jacqui and Julia won that match. Ben even treated us to handstand push-ups at one point due to a bought of pent up energy wherein he expressed his desire to wrestle again…

Our evening consisted of a lot of this:

The throat jab

The throat jab

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….this went on for some time…

Cody got sucked in too

Cody got sucked in too

Poor #7 nipple....

Poor #7 nipple….

And even more laughter than we thought possible.

We all went to bed satisfied and happy that evening, well-prepared for the long drive home the next day.

~ Toni

What I know

Close on the heels of my post about weaning depression, something I had no idea about, I thought I’d follow up with a post of things I do know for sure. And since it’s my 32nd birthday on Friday, I thought I’d give you 32 things I know for sure. Because I’m crazy that way.

1. Embrace coffee. Or green tea. Or something hot that kick starts you. I spent decades avoiding coffee and now, it’s one of my favourite things ever. Also, it makes me go.

Ryan-Gosling-Meme-Delivering-Coffee

2. Move. Go for a run. A swim. A dance. A walk. A yoga sequence. A gymnastics routine. Some parkour. Anything. Just get up and move. I didn’t understand as an indoor youngster, reading the books and eschewing gym class, but damn, it’s my new drug and I’m all for it.

3. Take care of you. No, seriously. Take a break. A rest. A timeout. A reading session. A napping session. A running session. A session that rejuvenates you. And when you need it, ask for help.

4. Say no. I’m working on this one, I really am. But say no to things. Your time is precious and sometimes no is the right answer and yes will just hurt.

No

5. Say yes. To new things. To happy things. To positivity. To light. To spirituality. To the future. To looking up and standing in the sun.

6. Family is everything. Blood family or life family, family is everything. It is what props you up, reminds you who you are, and helps you grow into who you will be. It’s everything. Don’t poo on it.

7. Make friends. Friends that get you. Friends that are fighting similar battles to you. Friends that will love you and your mess.

8. Be a truth-teller. Your truth. All of it. Every single messy piece of it. Even the parts that scare you. Tell the truth to yourself, to your family, to your friends, to strangers who will benefit from hearing it. Never stop telling it.

Mess

9. Eat your vegetables. And fruit. And whole foods. And things not purchased in a box or a package or are ready-made. I didn’t understand why our parents made us eat ‘real’ food when we were growing up, but I’m so glad they did.

Butter vs margarine

10. Eat a cookie. Or a brownie. Or some chips. Or that cheeseburger. Just don’t do it every day, all day. Your body deserves better. It does. But you also deserve a treat. Or two.

11. Have fun. No, seriously. Life is hard. Really hard. And it just keeps going and going, filling up your time and energy with hard things. So, cut loose a little. Giggle. Stay up too late. Play that game. Read that saucy book. Dance your own jig to your own tune. Enjoy your time here.

Daily Odd Compliment - sweat pants

12. Help. Your family. Your friends. Your neighbours. Strangers. People who are hurting in your town. People who are hurting across the ocean. People you walk in life with. People you will never meet. Where you can, when you can, help.

13. Be kind. In word and deed, be a nice person. You never know when you’ll meet someone again, or when you’ll need something from someone, or what they are battling. Be as kind as you need them to be to you. And then add some more. Because there just isn’t enough kindness in the world.

14. Learn to park. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to deal with a bad parking job. So, figure out your vehicle’s edges and length and depth and learn how to park. Countless people will be grateful.

15. Be polite. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. I’m sorry. Excuse me. Pardon? Small words, big impact.

16. Babies are hard. Really hard. Like life. They suck everything out of you all the time. They ask for things all the time. They are a 24/7 commitment that you’ll never be ready for. They are really, really hard.

17. Babies are worth it. Every second. Every minute. Every hour. Every hug, squeeze, kiss, ‘I love you.’ All of it. Worth it.

18. Mental illness is as serious as a heart attack. It kills. It hurts. It destroys. It can be beaten. It can be stopped. It must be.

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19. Stop judging covers. That chubby girl? She can run. That run-over-looking person? Doing their best. That human race, full of people? All them, showing up, doing their best. Even you.

20. Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps. We were broke growing up. And now, I’m living a one-income life with three kids. Money isn’t everything…but damn, it helps.

21. Love is everything. For each other. For yourself. For God. It’s everything. If you walk in love, if you work in love, if you act in love, you’ll never go wrong. Period.

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22. Put your damn cart away. No, really. I watched a woman who had to be in her 80s reorganize an entire cart caddy in a grocery store parking lot. She said, “If everyone would just put their cart away, we wouldn’t have this problem.” Never forgot it. Always put my cart away properly.

23. Listen. Not to respond, but to listen. To let someone else be heard. We all need to be heard. Make sure you’re doing your part.

Heard

24. Believe in the good. The bad will always be there, weighing you down, pulling you under. Believe in the light, in the good, in the hope. And look for it. Actively. Always.

25. Sit in silence. Turn off the news. Turn off the music. Turn off the internet. Turn off the chatter. Sit still. Breathe. Disconnect. Note that you didn’t die. Remember what it was like to be quiet? To not be plugged in? Take time to reacquaint yourself with it.

Silence

26. Sometimes it sucks. You’re asked/required/obligated to do something you don’t want to do. Sometimes you have to suck it up, grow up and do it. I feel like this one gets confused with number 3, Take care of you. Yes, you should take care of you, but you’re still a grown-up and you still have to do stuff you don’t wanna. Too bad. Get cracking.

27. Be creative. I had a boss that told me I wasn’t creative. He was an asshole and wrong. So wrong. I am creative, in the cards I make, the words I write, the mittens I crochet, and the songs I make up on the spot about going pee in the potty and wiping our bums and pulling up our pants because we’re soooo prettttyyyyyy. I’m creative, dammit. And it’s good for the body, mind and soul.

28. Don’t listen to assholes. You’ll notice them, quietly or loudly, obviously or passive aggressively shoving other people down so they feel bigger, better, smarter, faster, more successful. I’m not sure if they’ll ever ‘get theirs’, but I do know their opinion of you and your talent and your brain and your body doesn’t matter. Not one little bit. Don’t give them power. You have the power and you are awesome.

29. Make it better. Pick up litter. Rearrange some carts. Hold the door. Fix the mat so no one else trips. Pay for the person behind you. Don’t wait for a thank you. Don’t demand a thank you. Just leave this world better than when you got it.

30. Love with everything you’ve got. It’s going to hurt sometimes. And it’s going to be hard sometimes. And sometimes you’ll question your sanity. But, loving with everything I have has been one of the most rewarding things ever. I love Ben with everything, even though I want to kill him sometimes. I love my babies with everything I have, even though one of them lives in heaven and the others I want to run away from sometimes (at least once a day). And I get hurt. And bruised. And sometimes I don’t know if I’ll recover. But, I’m all in, baby. All. In.

Broken heart

31. Have dirty little secrets. Like the dirt you swept under the couch with your foot before your guests arrived. Like the smutty book you like to read. Like the so-bad-it’s-awesome television you can’t miss. Like the Oreos you can shove into your mouth without any children noticing. Any little thing that makes your life a little brighter, yet is probably not meant for public consumption? Keep on keepin’ on.

32. Celebrate your birthdays. I don’t get this “I don’t like my birthday” crap. I just don’t. And the whole, “I’m 29 again! Twelfth year in a row! WOO!”? No clue. You made it around the sun again. You are given a day that’s yours. There are people who want to celebrate you. You should celebrate you. Grab your cake and your glass and let’s toast the incredible things you did last year, like write potty songs and survive five-year-old fashion crises, and outlast the weaning engorgement, and all of the time spent loving and helping and creating and resting and just being.

Birthday hat

~ Julia

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!

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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!

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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

5 road trip essentials

While most people are busy bustling babies back to school, returning from vacations and stepping back into routine, Michael and I are off on another adventure together.

We’ve taken a week, which almost never happens due to work demands and responsibilities galore. In fact, this week off is to blame for my MIA status last week on the blog. Ramping up to take a week off for me means pre-working an additional week into the weeks leading up to any time off. It’s the nature of my industry and a downside that often has me debating if time off is even worth it in large chunks.

That is, it often has me debating until I am actually off and free to spend my hard earned time in any way I so desire.

And I usually desire some sort of road trip.

There is something so exciting about travelling to a destination and having almost total control over where you wander on the journey – whether carefully planned with every detail laid out or spontaneously throwing a few bags in the truck and see where we end up, there are only a few essential ingredients to a successful road trip:

1. Tim Hortons: It doesn’t matter if we’re heading to Toronto for the day or the cottage 8 hours away for a week, our trip must begin with a hot, steamy, caffeinated beverage known fondly as a cup of Tim Hortons coffee. This essential must have is always the very last stop for us before we leave town.

Life-juice

Life-juice

2. A good playlist: While we don’t see eye to eye about the actual road trip itself, Jacqui and I do agree that a must-pack item is good music, allowing for hours of car-dancing, singalongs and general entertainment. A good playlist is mandatory for any length of car ride, road trips especially and can take the time spent in the vehicle from a 5 to a consistent 8-10 in all around enjoyment.

3. Good company: Whether your loyal fur-bestie…

Bear <3

Bear ❤

or your handsome husband-to-be…

<3

…a good road trip companion can make or break your trip.  If you’re stuck with someone who lacks spontaneity, a sense of adventure and is a creature of comfort and routine, your road trip’s fun factor will take a severe nose dive with little chance of recovery. Finding someone whose road trip style matches yours will definitely increase your chances of a successful road trip.

4. Pee stop understanding: Michael and I have such an understanding – I respect the amount of liquid, yes even the life-juice named coffee, that I consume on a lengthy road trip, and in turn he respects when I finally cave and ask for a break for my tiny, tiny bladder. While I pride myself in my ability to manage the amount of breaks I need, compared to Michael’s camel style bladder, I’m usually the one waving the white-flag long before our journey is over.

5. Snacks: Another way to make sure you enjoy your trip is by packing the right variety and type of snacks and beverages. For lengthier drives, paninis, fruit and veggies are wise. The food available to you on the road is often fried, greasy and fatty which can cause you to become lethargic and zaps your energy levels – not to mention the number it can do on your stomach.  Stick with good, wholesome foods that travel well and pack the appropriate treats for when cravings hit so you can enjoy your time along the journey.

Our home for the week

Our home for the week

I hope this week treats you all well. For Michael and I, it will be spent camping in Charelston Lake Provincial Park, relaxing, fishing and spending a little quality time together – making sure to enjoy the destination, but more importantly, the journey.

~ Toni

One day

One day I’ll go to the bathroom without Sophie running to say she has to pee too, or hearing fighting from the other room the moment I sit down, or having someone sit on the floor to ‘wait’ for me, or someone wanting to ‘help’ me with toilet paper and then have a tantrum if I don’t let them help the right way, or even…and this one is RADICAL…with the door CLOSED.

Mom bathroom

One day I’ll walk out the door at the time I absolutely have to leave with just my purse and keys and I’ll drive away without a fifteen minute process to get out the door and into the van.

One day I won’t have to do the mom math on when the last feed was, when the last pee was, when the last meal was, when the last snack was, when we gave Sophie, the puker, Gravol, how long it’s been since they had naps.

One day I won’t be well-versed in the delicate negotiation tactics required for getting shoes on feet (never mind the right feet), pants on bottoms, and appropriate wear on little bodies who will complain if they are too hot or too cold, but will make sure it’s the end of the world to get them to wear the correct number of layers for the current weather.

One day it will be quiet in our house, with no one screaming for food, or crying because they pooped themselves, or singing at the top of their lungs, or growling incessantly for NO DAMN GOOD REASON, or squealing because they can, or squabbling.

One day I’ll wear my hair in a style other than Messy-Mom-Bun.

One day I’ll stay clean for longer than five seconds because people who are eating with me won’t demand to cuddle, be on my lap, ask to go pee five times, or suck on my knee while eating a banana.

One day I won’t be asked to put shoes back on, look behind me, or retrieve various items from the van floor WHILE I’M DRIVING.

One day I’ll be the sole backseat driver in our family and I’ll treat the position with the respect it deserves, unlike the five-year old who asks, “Mom, are you sure this is the place?” every time we go somewhere new.

One day I’ll sleep in.

One day I’ll be able to drink my coffee hot, from first sip to last drop, in one go, no microwaving.

One day I’ll be able to watch whatever I want whenever I want on TV (apparently Orange is the New Black is not suitable for children, go figure).

OITNB

Pornstache is completely G-rated

One day songs from incredibly awful children’s shows won’t be playing on a loop in my head…at 3 a.m.

One day I won’t have to worry about my necklace or my earrings or my bracelets or my watch getting stolen/broken/tugged at/yanked off/eaten.

One day I won’t have to calculate the mess-factor of foods before we take them on a picnic or eat them in the van or eat them in the living room vs. the kitchen table.

One day I won’t get yelled at for stopping someone from running into the street, or for making someone poop in the toilet instead of their pants, or asking them not to rock in their chair, or for stealing their boogers, or for telling someone that we have no plans for the day, or for reminding someone that no, Grammie or Nana or Daddy or any of the Aunts can’t come play because they have to work.

One day my shirt/pants/arms/legs/neck/face won’t be used as a booger catcher.

One day “This is disgusting. I’m not eating this. I hate this family.” won’t be the first reaction to the dinner I made.

One day carrying a baby on my hip while hauling a giant basket of laundry up the stairs won’t be the norm.

One day I won’t get bitten or pinched or head-butted or collar-bone slammed or smacked or have my hair pulled WHILE HOLDING SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO BE HELD.

One day my hands won’t go to sleep because I’ve been carrying a baby around the house.

One day the quietest moment in my day won’t be the time I spend walking around the van to my seat while all the babies are locked inside.

One day I’ll never have to potty train again…EVER.

One day I won’t be asked to push people on the swing only to have them yell at me, THEY CAN DO IT.

stuart

One day I won’t have to be super stealthy at night, dodging creaking floorboards, refusing to flush toilets that share a wall with a bedroom, and not breathing while checking on sleeping babies.

One day I won’t wonder where the day went because nothing has been accomplished and I’ve failed at housekeeping again.

One day I won’t wonder when the day will end because nothing has been accomplished and I’ve failed at housekeeping again.

One day I will miss little hands grabbing my pant legs to pull themselves up while I stand still as a statue and make dinner.

One day I won’t be the first line of defense against the owies or the bad days or the bullies or the crappiness that is life for my babies.

One day I won’t feel the tightest hugs, the biggest love, the most hero-worship of my babies every day.

One day I’ll have to call them or text them or email them or Facebook them to find out how their day was, how they are, if they’re eating vegetables, if they’re sharing nicely, if they’re okay, if they’re happy.

One day the trip to bed won’t include retucking and reblanketing and kissing and listening for breathing of my babies.

One day I won’t be given dandelions on every walk, pictures made just for me after every craft time, and birthday cakes made out of Lego and random toys just because.

One day our morning won’t begin with everyone snuggled in our bed until it becomes too chaotic and we’re forced to get up.

One day I’ll miss all of these days and wonder where the time went.

One day.

~ Julia

Date night, Mills-style

When you get married, people tell you that you should never stop dating each other – make plans, go out, talk, ensure you never lose that connection.

When you add kids to the mix, the advice gets louder – don’t just focus on babies all the time, make sure you take time for yourselves, remember to nurture the couple relationship you had before you became parents.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Now, you have to organize child care, steal time where there are no appointments or responsibilities, ensure no one is sick, and, the big one, rally the energy so you are able to not only stay up past 8 p.m., but be interesting past 8 p.m.

It’s a tall order for any parent.

Ben and I have been all right at keeping the romance alive while we are elbow deep in poop and potty training and tantrum taming and crazy wrangling. Not perfect (most months go without any date at all), but we’re doing okay. We make sure to go out on our dating and wedding anniversaries, spend time together on the 21st of each month (both of our anniversaries are a 21), and remember to look up every once in a while and say, “Hi! I know you!”

For Father’s Day, I thought that maybe I’d give both of us a present – a night out! I purchased tickets for us to go see Les Misérables at our local theatre, The Dunfield Theatre. I had seen the movie in theatre with Kim, sister-in-law extraordinaire, and Andrea, cousin-in-law extraordinaire, and LOVED it. I knew Ben would love it too, because he’s a band guy, so he’d appreciate the music, and the French revolution backdrop was action-packed enough to override the fact that the actors sing. The. Whole. Time. After buying the movie and having our own private viewing of it, Ben did indeed love it. So much so that he downloaded the soundtrack to listen to at work. The tickets to the local production were a slam-dunk gift – a night out AND a fun activity. Woohoo!

Two tickets to childless freedom!

Two tickets to childless freedom!

Date night, of course, means the usual getting rid of children. Now that there are three, the number of people willing to sit on all of them at once has gone down…considerably. Note to child-wanting couples everywhere: this is something to consider when figuring out how many kids you want. Thankfully, the grandmas are still both game, so the babies had a sleepover at Nana’s house with Grammie and Grandpa Mike pitching in. It was the first night that we had no children since Isaac had been born…11 months…normally we wouldn’t wait so long, but the three kid thing made it tricky. And at that point, only having Isaac at home and getting rid of the older two IS a vacation, so we had done that lots of times already.

Next on the agenda is the prettification of the parents. Also known as having uninterrupted showers. Or putting on clean clothes that have a good shot at still being clean after a few hours. I think we did an okay job.

We're so pretty! And clean!

We’re so pretty! And clean!

Next is the decision – have a rushed dinner first, then the play OR go to the play hungry and come home to a late, yet leisurely dinner. We ultimately decided on late dinner, easygoing to the theatre.

Touristy picture in our hometown.

Touristy picture in our hometown.

We literally drove for two minutes and were at the theatre. If it hadn’t taken us so long to ditch the kids and get gorgeous (taking layers of stickiness off of one’s person takes time!), we would have walked. Next time! We parked and found the Les Misérables van! Totally had to take a picture. And totally got dirty, incredulous looks from the couple that was waiting to park in the spot beside it. Whatever. We took the picture. They waited. The end.

Our seats were AWESOME. We were in the middle of the row, third row from the stage. We could see everything, even the spit from the mouths of the actors. (No, seriously.)

Reading over the program...no kids touching us...noting the "No Babes In Arms" rule...loving the grown-up time.

Reading over the program…no kids touching us…noting the “No Babes In Arms” rule…loving the grown-up time.

The production was INCREDIBLE. The music was amazing, the singing was perfect, and the story was well-told. It was beyond cool to see something so polished and familiar in our little local theatre.

For me, the stand-out player was Thom Allison who played Javert. He was awesome. I loved his voice and presence. He was far and away my favourite.

Thom Allison as Javert - my absolute favourite player

Thom Allison as Javert was excellent.

Runners up were the kids – I don’t know how they performed in front of such a big crowd…and the parent in me couldn’t believe how awake and alert they were since the show began at 8 p.m. and didn’t end until 11! Wonder children.

Brooke Bauer, the young Cosette

Brooke Bauer, the young Cosette

Drew Davis, spunky revolutionist Gavroche

Drew Davis, spunky revolutionist Gavroche

After we gave our standing ovation, it was time to go home. It was after 11, so we were considering not eating the meal that I had prepared and picking something up…but we chose wisely. We went home, Ben barbecued, and we ate a little-people-free dinner together. It was divine. And probably tasted even more incredible because of how hungry we were.

Steak and shish kabobs - YUM

Steak and shish kabobs – YUM

We went to bed late, woke up late, and had a decadent breakfast of banana bread toasted with butter and coffee, while watching some House (Yay for Netflix!). It’s the little things.

Holy yum.

Holy yum.

We had a super fun, adult night. It was exactly what we needed and the entertainment, food and company didn’t disappoint (Hello?! See how handsome my date was???). It was perfect.

And when we picked up the babies they were happy to see us and had suitably tuckered out both grandmas and a grandpa.

All in all, a date night success! Seriously can’t wait for the next one.

Seriously.

~ Julia