Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Travelling Christmas Tree - Home

No matter how many places I travel to, visit and explore there will never be any place like home for the holidays. It might sound cheesy but 'tis the season to enjoy each of our crazy families, wonder about old friends and send well wishes to loved ones we tend to only catch up with at this time of year.
I look at Christmas as a season that begins about mid December and goes all the way to New Year's Eve. Of course there are highs, lows, busy points and relaxed ones all mixed in this period but that is exactly what seasons do... they bring change and transition from one thing to the next with some elements being extremely predictable (like the leaves changing colors each fall) and other elements being a surprise (like the Mr. starting a new job last spring). For the past 9 years I have celebrated Christmas in Belledune, New Brunswick and in Baddeck, Nova Scotia (alternating years, with the exception of one year we spent in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland) with my family and the Mr.'s family. It is even more important as you get older to put things in perspective and celebrate the entire season when spending Christmas Day with your family is not possible. After-all isn't it way more fun to have multiple Christmases??!!

And then there are the traditions... the things that just don't change no matter how many people in the family love them and how many people in the family hate them. They are the little things that making having Christmas at home really "home".

In Belledune,  my brother, sister and I have been taking pictures on our staircase leading us to the basement (where the tree is) for as long as we can remember. 
Christmas 1992 - Dad, me & baby brother (pre baby sister being born!)
We have always done things a certain way that make sense to us that I never questioned until spending a Christmas with the Mr.'s family in Baddeck. For example: we have always had breakfast (cereal at the very least) before going to open gifts... according to my Mom this was the appetizer before the all you could eat chocolate that would ensue. We would then gather on the stairs and pose for a group picture before being let loose into the basement where all the gifts and filled stockings were set up waiting for us.
Christmas 1999 - Yes, I know my hair is awesome!
We sit in the same place every year around the tree, open stockings first and only start opening gifts once Mom has the video camera set up and Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers playing in the background. At her signal we open gifts! But, in an organized way... we take turns, pose with each gift so Mom can take pictures and pass all the gift wrap to Dad who puts it in a big box or bag as we open to make sure things stay tidy. Not the typical "go wild and jump in" you were expecting right?!
Christmas 2006 
The first time I spent Christmas in Baddeck their morning routine seemed straight out of a movie! The normally laid back family became "kids on Christmas morning"... they were up early and opening gifts without eating breakfast, without posing for a picture and without Dolly & Kenny playing in the background. It all seemed ludicrous to me, but now is normal to me and I have since realized they were the normal ones all along... we were the weird ones!

Last Christmas was pretty special for us since it was the Little Dude's first Christmas, my brother and V were engaged at the time (they are now married) and thankfully we all still fit on the stairs!
Christmas 2015 - Little Dude's First Christmas!
Ever since 2011 (the year the Mr. and I got married) we have been buying the annual swarovski snowflake ornament each year as a small tradition of our own. We wrap the star and open it together as the first gift we open (at our home) each year. The tree is starting to really shine with an additional piece of crystal being added each year! Last year, we added the large snowflake with the small one to match to mark Little Dude's birth year and first Christmas - these are the ornaments that we will cherish forever with their beauty and meaning.
Snowflakes 2011-2015
This year is shaping up to be even more exciting! We are spending the season with both families in both villages yet again and get to be with our niece (Sweet E) for her first Christmas! Little Dude and Sweet E are sure to be the stars of the show keeping us entertained and reminding us what family is all about. I am drooling already thinking about the sweets and the turkey meal we will eat in Baddeck and absolutely cannot wait for the seafood casserole and sugar cookies in Belledune! 

No matter where you hang your hat this Christmas season, from my family to yours, we wish you a very blessed Christmas and New Year ahead filled with health, happiness and love.


My shoes for that: Sorel tofino boots to keep you warm through the holidays

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Travelling Christmas Tree - Hopewell Rocks, NB

It is the middle of December - there are 12 more sleeps until Christmas morning which means 12 only 12 more shopping days! I have to admit, Christmas is one of my absolute favourite times of the year. That being said, this year more than others, it feels like the days are passing by faster than ever. I have most of my shopping done (thank goodness for online shopping in the middle of the night!), some things wrapped, I haven't even thought of baking anything and feel a little overwhelmed by the season this year. I now have such an appreciation for other mom that have pinterest perfect pictures to share of their baked goods, perfectly wrapped gifts, and most of all for my mom and my mother-in-law who have done everything for us our entire lives without ever making it look like they could have used a helping hand.

Thankfully, the one thing I was able to get done early was put up the Christmas tree. These #TinselTuesday posts have been such a delight to write - they give me a break from the regular holiday hustle and let me reflect on the things that matter, the people that matter, the places we've been and the memories we've made. This week we are not going very far (well, not very far for me...but if you live outside of New Brunswick you can add this to your list of "Things to do when I visit New Brunswick"). 

Off we go to Hopewell Rocks!
Hopewell rocks
 I have lived in New Brunswick the majority of my life, but the summer of 2015 while 7 months pregnant was the first time I ever went to Hopewell Rocks. I was meeting up with three girlfriends from University in Moncton for the weekend and we were trying to find something to "do" together so we could "do" something but still chat, catch up and experience something new. My brilliant bestie who always takes care of everything (and everybody) came up with the idea of going to Hopewell Rocks - and it was the perfect idea!
hopewell rocks friends
We spent the afternoon walking through the trails at a leisurely pace so even the 7 month pregnant lady could speak (me...), we had the opportunity to explore the rocks up close since it was low tide and take in the beauty of the area. Side Note: The trails were really quite easy (and short), so I would recommend this attraction to people of all ages and physical ability.

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you a little about Hopewell Rocks and what makes them so special - If you have ever seen a New Brunswick tourism guide they make the cover nearly every year, so they are something us NB'ers certainly promote. The rocks are also called "Flowerpot Rocks" and stand 40-70 feet tall. They are the result of tidal erosion in the Bay of Fundy where you will find the world's largest tidal range. Twice a day the base of the rocks are submerged in water at high tide (you can rent kayaks to get up close during those periods) and then at low tide you can walk right up to them. The rocks are part of nature's art that decorate Hopewell Cape.

And now, back to Christmas! Whether you have all your gifts purchased and wrapped, are partially there or haven't started yet it is the season to enjoy family and friends and all the little things Christmas reminds us of. Like I mentioned, I am feeling a little overwhelmed this year, but have come up with a few solutions. For those interested here they are:

1. Stop trying to be amazing - Most of my stress is coming from me... not a single person has asked if I baked cookies and spent hours decorating them...

2. Support local - there are tons of little unique things you can find no matter where you live! This weekend instead of travelling to get more shopping done I went to Aristide Toy Shop where they also sell hand crafted soaps, scrubs, candles, pottery, etc. and to Andrea's Confectionery where they sell the most amazing candy/chocolate/sweet arrangements! And lastly, I went to "Christmas in the Park" right here in the Belledune where there were baked goods, knitting, crafts, pottery ornaments and more for sale! I was amazed how much of my shopping (and baking) I was able to get done all while supporting local people.
And, finally

3. Be patient - The old Jenna (you know, the one who didn't have a child, was super organized and seemingly "put together") would have had Christmas cards sent out November 12 (or pretty close to it!). The new Jenna is stressing over which absolutely adorable picture of her son to include on a holiday card and has been impatiently waiting for photographers to get proofs back to her so there will be even more options to make the choice even more difficult. I am struggling with this last "tip" as it is not my style at all to wait until now to be going through pictures... but life happens and to all of you lucky enough to be on our Christmas card list - you will get a card...eventually!

Here is a sneak peak at one of my Little Dude's Christmas card choices (him running around the studio)... isn't he the cutest?!
Christmas card

12 days left people! Get out there and make Christmas happen!

My shoes for that: For those of you shopping for little ones these are the BEST sneakers! Champion Boys Infant Gusto Runner - they go on easily, stay on and work perfectly to wear around the house as slippers all year! Side Note: they will be perfect for when my Little Dude tours Hopewell Rocks next summer :)

Stop trying to be amazing. Support local. Be patient. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Travelling Christmas Tree - The Netherlands

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Cliché yes, but at the beginning of December all those who were waiting to put up real Christmas trees are finally joining those of us who have had our trees up for weeks, houses are decorated in colourful lights and Sinterklaas has already made his visit to the children in The Netherlands!

I am always reminded at this time of year just how small the world is and what a joy it is to work in such a global maritime shipping industry. Last week I was in Montreal for meetings where I was fortunate to see so many of my colleagues that I haven't seen for more than a year (since I was on maternity leave). At this time of year I always see friends from The Netherlands and am so thankful to have learned about their Christmas culture and traditions.


If you woke up in The Netherlands this morning Sinterklaas most likely paid you a visit and left some special presents, candies, etc. in your shoes that you would have left by the fireplace last night (December 5th). Tradition has it that today (December 6th) Sinterklaas will be leaving The Netherlands to return to Spain by steamboat through the Port of Rotterdam. This part of the tradition is my absolute favourite since my first visit to The Netherlands was to visit and tour the Port of Rotterdam, one of the largest ports in the world.

Although Christmas day will be celebrated in The Netherlands, December 5th is really the "big day"... especially for the children. My little dude is especially lucky to be spoiled by people in Canada and our friends from around the world. This year Sinterklaas (also known as one of my favourite people in the maritime industry and good friends from The Netherlands) brought an outfit from Rotterdam Feyenoord for my little dude!

The true meaning of Christmas is being around family and friends, celebrating the birth of baby Jesus and making most of the season. Thank you so much to all of you for joining me this #TinselTuesday - I hope you are enjoying our journey around the globe (and my Christmas tree) as much as I am enjoying sharing it with you.

My shoes for that: Wooden shoes from Holland 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Travelling Christmas Tree - San Francisco

Putting up a Christmas tree is one of the most magical things you can do. In my case I like to put each ornament on in perfect sequence, stepping back to have a look after each one, inspecting to ensure the tree will be nothing less than a masterpiece. So if you are wondering, yes I like to decorate the tree as a family, however the boys watch me do the decorating and make suggestions along the way, haha.

I have to admit that as much as I love decorative trees I love putting up the travelling ornaments 100 times more. Each ornament brings back the memories from a trip that was either a work trip (for me or the Mr.), a vacation or a simple road trip. The ornaments really tell a story of our lives over the past ten years together - they show the places we have been, remind us how fortunate we are to have been there and remind us of all that we have to look forward to.

This week let's take a trip to San Francisco for #TinselTuesday.
San Francisco Christmas Ornament
The Mr. and I went to San Francisco in September of 2014 and we had nothing less than a blast! The city is so unique in its culture, its composition and its atmosphere. The city is built on 46 hills! Side Note: if you fact check this you will get different answers. We were told 46 by one of the Cable Car operators and took it as gospel - in my experience it is always the people "on the ground" that know a city the best. The point is... there are a lot of hills! No matter where you walk you are going up and down steep hills constantly! Using the Cable Cars and the trolly cars became very useful after a few days of walking the hills. Side Note 2: I am being generous... we didn't waste time walking the hills at all and went straight for the tourist attraction that is the cable cars... and LOVED it!
Golden Gate Bridge
Since I am writing this for you in the midst of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping I am going to keep my recommendations simple - here are my top 5 things to do when visiting San Francisco:

1. Go see the Golden Gate Bridge! Yes, it is totally cliché, but it really is awesome!
2. Visit Alcatraz - this was the first prison I ever toured in North America. Although far less creepy than European prisons there was a certain creepiness that went along with hearing the stories from the prisoners (via audio tour) and hearing from the tour guides around the grounds. Make sure you have enough time...this takes almost a day to do.
3. Go to a Giants game! I am not a huge baseball fa, but I LOVE baseball stadiums and the atmosphere that goes with each one. This ball park is "out of this world" amazing!
Giants Baseball
4. Enjoy dinner at Waterbar restaurant. This restaurant was recommended to me by a Public Relations college of mine from the Port of Oakland. I am so happy we listened to her! Sitting in this restaurant and watching the lights on the Bay Bridge was a fantastic way to enjoy a nice meal together.
waterbar bay bridge
5. Leave the city! Usually I would never tell you to do this since I love cities and love getting the change to enjoy a new one, but in this case it's a must. Take a day (or more...) and go see Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach at the very least. Enjoy the drive along the coastline, take in the views, enjoy some great seafood and just enjoy being a tourist in such an amazing surrounding.

Monterey canning

I narrowed down these recommendations to 5, but honestly just go to the city! Do wine tastings, try Anchor Steam beer, watch the sea lions at Fisherman's wharf and above everything else go to the Christmas store and buy a few ornaments to remember your trip by!

My shoes for that: Michael Kors Flats that are on my Christmas list :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Travelling Christmas Tree - Finland

There is no denying there are many things I love, but shoes, travel, wine and Christmas are at the top of the list! Side Note: All of these things are of course second to the Mr., my little dude, my family, God, etc... that goes without saying.
baby christmas tree

This holiday season I am thrilled to begin a Christmas Tree series of posts for #TinselTuesday where I will bring you for a tour around the globe as I show you some of the travel ornaments I have collected over the years.

For the past few years I have put up a huge Christmas tree in my tiny house. It honestly took up the entire living room... some might say it was excessive, while I felt it was absolutely perfect. the kind of tree you can only dream of having in your house with the most beautiful decorations collected over  several years until it looks just right. Then, my little dude came along. The big tree (9.5 feet tall) was ok last yer when he wasn't mobile, but this year I would be taking up all of his play area with a tree he is not supposed to touch - so, a 7.5 foot slim tree is what we went with. I thought it would look really tiny compared to the big tree (and it does), but it is the right size for our house! 

Since we went with a much smaller tree this year I didn't bother taking out all of my fancy ornaments... realistically my little dude is likely to be in the tree playing with whatever he can reach anyhow... so it was a perfect opportunity to use all of the travel ornaments the Mr. and I have collected over the years.
Finland Rein Deer Ornament
Finland was the first travel ornament I ever purchased. I went the Helsinki a few years ago now for my work. It was one of the international experiences I will never forget. Without dating myself it was before I had a smart phone and before all smart phones automatically worked everywhere in the world. In fact, I think it was the month following this trip that I got a blackberry "world" which was a HUGE deal at the time!

I landed in Helsinki alone and of course on a Sunday where not very many stores are open in European countries. I was on the search for a calling card so I could either connect to the internet or call home (which is really how all of my international trips began pre internationally functioning smart phone). In doing so I realized very quickly speaking English and French wasn't getting me very far in Finland! Eventually I found a corner store with a young person working who understood English and helped me get a calling card, in the mean time I toured basically all of "downtown" and the waterfront area of Helsinki. The walking was picturesque with beautiful scenery, amazing architecture and friendly faces.

Buying my first travel Christmas tree ornament in Finland was extremely fitting. The city had a certain Christmas feel to it and there are rein deer ornaments/decorations all over the place similar to how you see moose things in Canada. The most ironic part however was that rein deer was served at the restaurant we ate at one of the nights... although not a vegetarian I couldn't imagine eating it. It was too much like eating Rudolph for my liking.

If you ever find yourself in Helsinki here is my number one tip: Everyone will tell you to "go to the castle". You will take a small ferry and end up on an island and like me walk around aimlessly searching for the castle. Stop walking and remember reading this blog post... the island is the castle! Stop searching, look around and enjoy being in the castle everyone has been telling you about.

Stay tuned for next week to see where we end up!

My shoes for that: Finnish Lappish Boots (don't these just scream Christmas?!)
Picture from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/396035360961557301/

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shoes to build your confidence

I will never forget the first time I saw a pair of shoes with red soles.
Red Sole Shoes

Several years ago now I was planning to attend a shipping conference in Montreal. As usual, I had looked through the agenda and skimmed through the line up of speakers to 1) See if there was someone I should "meet" following their speech that might be a good business relationship or 2) See if there was anyone speaking that I would label as a "must see"/"cool person". In the shipping industry at the time there were not very many females attending these types of conferences and there were not many females that would be deemed worthy or "expert" enough to address the audience. But there was at least one. That lady was Ms. Madeleine Paquin.  

When I read Ms. Paquin's biography as provided by the conference organizers I was immediately impressed and deemed her speech as a "must see" based on what a "cool person" she had to be. At the conference I watched for her and waited impatiently to hear her speech, but here is the funny part... I don't remember a single word she said. I have no recollection of what the speech was about, whether she was part of a panel or a keynote speaker, but I do remember exactly what she wore, her mannerisms and her confidence.

Finally, I spotted her. She walked toward the stage gracefully in her all black pant suit with a white collared shirt (I assume the outfit was to fit in with the mostly all male executives...) and a pair of black stiletto heels. The red bottoms caught my eye and my attention immediately! She spoke as though she owned the place - her confidence and her extremely well articulated speech kept me mesmerized. However, like I said before, I don't recall the content - all I wanted was to be able to do that.

Naturally, my first step to speaking like a pro and having all the confidence in the world was finding out what kind of shoes these were and getting a pair. I was disappointed at first since the shoes were WAY out of my budget, but after some saving (and convincing the Mr.), he bought me a pair (with our money...lol) during a trip to Las Vegas around the same time as our first wedding anniversary. Not a bad gift right?!

These shoes, Christian Louboutin Simple Pumps (in black of course), are now at the root of my confidence. I have worn them many times, but always wear them when I am doing a presentation I am kind of nervous about or to an interview or a Board Meeting when I feel I need a little extra that day. It might sound crazy, but they work! Not very many people have ever commented or even noticed that these shoes are red on the bottom... to most they are a simple black high heeled shoe... but they make me feel like I can do anything. They are basically my form of a Supergirl cape.

All in all - find something that makes you feel the best you can be whether it's to do a presentation to a group of senior executives or attend a Baby Group for the first time. I have to say that in my case, attending Baby Group is WAY more intimidating than doing a presentation to senior executives. For whatever you situation or scenario... find the right shoes for the day, wear them with confidence and go get 'em!

"Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life."

My shoes for that: None other than Christian Louboutin Black Simple Pumps (100mm to be exact)

What shoes do you wear for a little extra confidence?!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I am really am a blogger... thanks to BlogJam

A friend of mine from university suggested that I attend BlogJam 2016 after she was the first person to encourage me to start writing a blog a few months ago. And boy, am I ever happy I took her suggestion and made the 5 hour trek to Halifax to participate!
Jenna Blog

Friday night when thinking about what I would wear on Saturday and what I would pack for the big event on Sunday it hit me. What was I doing? Did I really have the nerve to think I fit in with this group of elite, big city bloggers in Halifax? What would I possibly wear? As all of this self doubt started to creep in my head I kept reminding myself "Jenna, you can do this. They are nice people. They invited you. Seize the opportunity." 

As I have learned (by the Mr. telling me over and over) with anything or any situation that starts to feel overwhelming, I break it down into small pieces and just start rather than thinking about it. First step - what shoes will I wear? The shoes I choose anytime I want to feel confident and need a little bit inspiration under my soles - my black Louboutin simple pumps. My outfit and hairstyle seemed obvious after I chose my shoes and suddenly I felt like I should be going to BlogJam. Like everything else, there's a shoe for that.

The event began with a tweet up on Saturday evening. Basically a meet and greet reception where you are encouraged to tweet about the event and interact with each other both "in person" and "online". I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Colleen from Curtains are Open at the event. This was an immediate check mark to add to my list for the weekend... Colleen has done so many amazing things in the blogging community - she is a true inspiration to bloggers and aspiring bloggers like me.

The official conference event began with Erica Ehm as the keynote speaker. She spoke effortlessly and left the audience with a few key messages:

  • Everyone has the opportunity to make their own luck. People aren't lucky, they work really hard for what they get.
  • ASK for what you want.
  • Slow and steady wins the race; don't take shortcuts and work really hard.
As she described how she felt after becoming a mom and the "why" behind the Yummy Mummy Club I felt as though she were telling my story. I could relate 100% with the message and now (still on my high from BlogJam and the keynote address) am scouring through the YMC website learning how to become part of the club, contribute and read from others just like me.

There were many inspiring and information sessions throughout the day but other than Erica's opening keynote address my favourite presentation was given by Heather of Laptops to Lullabies. Heather spoke about "balancing your blog". To summarize, she spoke about how it is essential to be honest in your writing, to be real and to show the real you. As a blogger you are creating content, but as Ross Simmonds spoke about earlier in the day there is more content being created now than ever before. What makes you different as a blogger is simple - it is YOU! 

I went to BlogJam hoping to learn more about being a blogger, find out if I really am a blogger and how to be a blogger. Now, I am happy to announce after blogging for several months and my new found confidence from BlogJam, I am a blogger!

My shoes for that: The shoes you wear to inspire confidence in yourself. In my case, my Louboutin black simple pumps.

Special mention to these awesome ladies from BlogJam - Thanks for inspiring me, helping me and encouraging me to be the best I can be.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Ménage à Trois

Name: Ménage à Trois
Country: California, USA
Vintage: 2013
Price: $20 range

Why did I decide to try this wine? My new sister-in-law, V brought it over for us to try after she had it recommended by the "dude" at the liquor store. And, it was the first Hockey Night in Canada of the 2016/2017 NHL season... so a good excuse to have a glass or two of wine.

Would I prefer one glass or indulge in the bottle? Bottle. 

What shoes would I wear drinking this wine? I found these on pinterest and think they are the perfect combination of brown, black and classy. Ménage à trois - shoe version!

How would I describe the wine? This wine smells sour with a hint of sweet. The more you smell it the sweeter is smells actually. The taste is similar; not too sweet with a bitter aftertaste. This wine is very temperature sensitive in my opinion. It seemed the colder it was it tasted less sweet, but when it warmed up a little after being poured it became sweeter. That said, it was a great for V and I - colder for me and warmer for her.

Monday, October 31, 2016

My last day of maternity leave...

Today is my last day of maternity leave. It is bitter sweet because I know "real life" begins tomorrow... juggling my little dude, daycare, work, housework, exercise, alone time, date time with the Mr. and more. The past year has been wonderful in so many ways, eye opening in many other ways and has taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible. 

As I reflect on the past year the number one thing that has changed are my priorities. Yes, I still want to wear fabulous shoes whenever possible... but somehow seeking out and finding the most awesome Paw Patrol lunch box takes priority over scouring the internet for the latest fall fashion trends. 

I consider the past year of self discovery as a journey and not really as a "leave" - I left work for a year, but I did the most rewarding and exhausting unpaid work. I learned how to be a mom to the most handsome little dude in the world (I know, every mom says that about their kid... but look at him! He is pretty adorable). 

The journey started a few weeks before my little dude was born. I was fortunate to have some "me time" before he arrived and since he was 11 days overdue, it was even longer than I had anticipated. During this time I made freezer meals, went for walks, did lots of colouring and really just did things around the house at my own pregnant/leisurely pace. I didn't realize at the time that was the last time I would do things at a leisurely pace for quite a while!

Then it happened. After 41+ weeks of waiting, my little dude finally arrived! I will refrain from sharing the details about his birth as I would like to encourage others to have children in the future and fear my little dude's birth story might deter you. All you really need to know is that we both survived, we are both healthy and he was/is worth it! 

The next stage of the journey was leaving the hospital and being a mom for the first month. I tried breastfeeding for 3 weeks and with milk never coming in it was a lost cause. Little did I know that even though I was feeding my little dude every 3 hours for about 45 minutes at a time that he wasn't getting anything. We realized when he was 5 days old and had lost too much weight - the nurse gave him formula as a supplement and he drank it in record time. For the 2 weeks after I kept trying to breast feed but was also supplementing with formula. After 3 weeks and still no sign of milk coming in we started feeding him exclusively formula. 

What I want you to take away from this part of my journey is this: you always hear about the amazing breastfeeding moments between mothers and their babies and all the nutrients breastfeeding  provides a baby. While I agree with those claims and encourage anyone to try it I have to say it was not for me. My case is a bit unique because it wasn't working and I was never comfortable to breastfeed in public, so the day I stopped trying although I still couldn't really go anywhere I felt free. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, I knew my baby was getting fed properly and if I wanted to go somewhere I had more than 2 hours to get there and back. For the first time in months I felt a little bit like myself again. The point of telling you this is for every mom to realize what works for someone else might not work for you and YOU know what is best for YOU! Make your own choices, be confident in them and be proud of what you are doing for yourself and your baby.

I found the first month to be the hardest in many ways - 
  • I wanted to talk about something other than the baby and that's all anyone wanted to talk about with me
  • I wanted to know what was going on at work and be involved
  • I was bored, babies sleep a lot and you are busy but spuratically. I was used to a busy lifestyle and found myself wanting to do "my stuff" but yet couldn't find time to do it. That was hard on the head for me... how can you be bored and not have time to do stuff you wanna do?
  • I felt physically and mentally exhausted. I remember thinking I would exercise right away etc, when in the end it felt like a huge accomplishment to shower and possibly sit in a car and not look totally weird for that month and more. 
Skip forward to my little dude as a 4 month old. He started sleeping 8-10 hours through the night all the time, he started sitting on his own, he became a lot more interactive and really developed into a tiny human (as opposed to a baby) at that age. Spring was right around the corner, the days were getting longer and I had lost 18 pounds making me feel quite a bit better about myself (again, both physically and mentally). Thankfully this joyful stage of my journey lasted quite a while. It was a fun time to be home, try new recipes, go for long walks during and time and enjoy playing with my little dude.

Then he started to move! From 8-11 months he was crawling... first only in reverse or in circles, then he figured out how to sit up in his own and finally discovered that if he used his toes he could move forward in an army crawl. It didn't take long after that for him to master going up and down the step between our kitchen and living room and eventually crawl on all fours. From 8 months to 11 months I could see my "me time" slipping away again as he was on the move all the time and his naps were getting shorter. My saving grace was the exersaucer/activity jumper and that it was summer time so we could be outside a lot of the time!

Little dude as a moving, crawling, walking, climbing, exploring baby the journey has become even more crazy. Since he was 10 months I started to think "ok, this is what everyone meant when they say <you'll be busy!>" and I started to think "I am near ready to go back to work". And, no... that doesn't make me a bad person or a bad mom. That makes me a mom whose loves her kid but also loves her sanity. 

As I look back at the past year there were many highs and many lows. I don't think I had post part depression, but I most certainly think I had the baby blues for quite a while. The Mr. now deserves an award for being the most patient, kind and loving person in the world! I know there were many days and possibly even weeks I was not a delight to live with, but he did and always with a smile on his face all while working a demanding job and also living with a newborn.

With new priorities, a new outfit or two and an office makeover underway I am ready for yet another fresh start as I head back to work. I look forward to writing about my experiences as a working mom and juggling real life... all while wearing fabulous shoes of course!

My shoes for that: Tory Burch Riding Boots (as worn in the family picture in this post)

Side note: This post was written while sitting in a parking lot waiting for my little dude to wake up between his vaccination appointment and his doctor appointment. Multi-tasking and making us of any "free time" at its best!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sugarloaf Provincial Park, Atholville NB

Fall is my favourite season - the leaves change into beautiful colours making even the most "usual" of drives extraordinary. The temperature is ideal for outdoor activities and you get to cuddle up with a blanket on the sofa in the evening. Lastly, it's when my little dude was born, so the fall is even more special now. 

Fall temperatures are ideal for hiking in my opinion and with the colours to admire it makes any climb even more worth while when you get to the top of that mountain (you know, the one you were meaning to climb all summer) and see those colours! This leads me to today's destination - Sugarloaf Provincial Park in Atholville, NB (next to Campbellton, NB). 

Before our little dude came into our lives we made Sugarloaf Park a regular destination on Sundays. We would arrive around lunch time, climb the mountain and then stop at Moulin Cafe (as described in my Charlo by the bay post) on the way home for a late lunch/dinner.  Any hike deserves a good meal as a reward!

Sugarloaf is ideal for hikers and walkers of all levels. You can choose to walk around the mountain (4km) on trails suitable for walking, biking or even pushing a stroller. About half way around the mountain you will have the option to go up the mountain or continue around. Going up the mountain is a bit more difficult - so if you are not used to climbing or are not in decent physical condition you might want to save this trail for a future visit. But for those ready to take on the challenge - it's worth it! 
The view is a unique perspective of the Restigouche River and the estuary where it meets the Bay of Chaleur. You will look across at the Gaspé region of Quebec and see the Van Horne bridge which connects New Brunswick and Quebec. Take a snack with you to enjoy at the top, get some pictures and then head back down. 

We climbed sugarloaf this summer with our little dude. It was his first "real" hiking experience and the Mr. 'a first time carrying him up a mountain! They both did awesome! 

When you get to the bottom you can go into the lodge where you will find the T-bar restaurant. It's a great restaurant with many options (and lots of high chairs!). We don't usually stop here after hiking but have enjoyed a selection of their menu items for birthday lunches, work dinners and date nights. 
Birthday Lunch with Nanny - June 2016
The park also offers downhill mountain biking, camping and a variety of winter activities including both downhill and cross country skiing. I think Sugarloaf Park is one that we take for granted when we live nearby and forget about when we don't... so, consider this your little reminder to get out there and enjoy it!

Happy Hiking!

My shoes for that: Nike baby girl sneakers (not for my Little Dude, but how adorable are these?!)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Baby's favourite toys - Age 0-10 months

There are so many toys that we as parents know our babies need! Am I right??? When really, for the most part, they are happy playing with a remote control, an empty plastic bowl or other items you've had around the house since long before they were even born. Hopefully this post will serve as a guide of which toys babies actually play with (for more than a day...) and give you lots of pictures to enjoy.

About the pictures... I feel like I need to warn you before you start reading through this post. I had a great time looking through pictures of my little dude to go with this post, and, well... let's just say I had a hard time choosing between pictures of him with his favourite toys. Enjoy!

In no particular order - here is the list of my little dude's top 10 favourite toys from age 0-10 months:

1. Oball - I am cheating a bit because there are actually 2 toys by Oball that my little dude loves. 
The Ball Rattle and the Car
He has played with the ball ever since he could hold anything and has loved it ever since. It has worked to get his attention for many photo shoots, acted as motivation to encourage crawling and was his favourite toy to reach for when doing tummy time at younger ages.
Both toys have rattles in them helping to keep little dude's attention. The car helped him learn to play interactively and push it from one place to another (with the occasional throwing, tossing or kicking of it to make it "go").

2. Wooden Teething Ring - I received this as a gift from a friend of mine. She purchased it in Moncton, NB at Bean & Bear. It has always been one of the toys I carry in my diaper bag, brought to baby group and made it available at home. My little dude has chewed on it (ALOT), played with the crinkle material, taken it apart, etc. For something so simple it has provided more entertainment than I ever thought possible. And, it's from a local company!

3. Sophie la Girafe - Before even becoming pregnant I had heard other children's parents talking about Sophie and I had to know what the fuss was all about. I was amazed when I looked at the website and read about all the things Sophie does to encourage development etc. Basically, the website (to me) made it sound like you need Sophie for your child to live a normal healthy childhood.
I gave my little dude Sophie from a young age (1.5 months or so) and let him try to hold her, kick her to the ground, etc. until she ultimately became his BFF. Although I believe he would have developed just fine without this rather pricey giraffe - I am happy to report that he has certainly made the investment worth while. He still (at 11.5 months) looks for her occasionally as his favourite chew toy/squeek toy. Sophie has been a favourite through all situations... travelling in the car, watching football with the boys, playing outside and hanging out inside.

4. Captain Calamari - It attaches to car seat handles, strollers etc. and is the perfect companion for "on-the-go". It has so many different activities all incorporated into one octopus that it is sure to keep your little one entertained. It kept (and still keeps) my little dude entertained in the car longer than any other similar toy (except for his fabric book when he was younger, but we'll get to that). This toy is colourful and has a great name...win win!

5. Books - There are really 3 parts to this one... The "fabric book" that attaches to things, books in general and "Good Morning, Canada".

The "fabric book" was a dollar store find that my little dude LOVED! There are many more expensive versions of these books, but it is likely more you (the parent) that likes the look of the more expensive ones better vs. what baby thinks. If you can find one of these I highly recommend picking one up! If you can't find the dollar store version, Lamaze makes a few very colourful versions that will work just as well.
I received a ton of books at my baby shower as it was requested that people give books instead of cards. That said, I started putting them around the house so they were available for my little dude to grab for instead of just taking one out at a time for "reading time". It ended up being a great idea! He is a pretty wild little child but he will sit (at younger ages) or stand at the coffee table and look at books for a good 30 minutes. I'm not sure about you, but there are very few things that I have found to amuse a baby for that long!

And finally, "Good Morning, Canada"! I was reluctant at first to put books out with pages he could rip, but then figured they are his books... if he rips them it will just add character. This book quickly became his favourite! He wants to read it several times per day, likes trying to turn the pages with his finger and he can find this book no matter where you put it or where it is in the pile of books that now live on my coffee table. It calms him down when he is upset... all in all, I can't say enough about this book. He LOVES it!

6. Hape Double Bubble Wooden Bead Maze - I bought this as a result of my little dude throwing his toys on the floor when sitting in his bumbo chair or in his highchair. He had shown interest in moving beads on his Activity Jumper and so I thought this might be a good solution. And, it was! He played with the bead maze from the time I bought it (when he was 6 months old) and still plays with it while we (his parents) are eating dinner or even when he finds it in his toy box.

7. Coo Coo Clock - It sings may different songs, makes fun noises and I am hoping that in the future it can be a fun tool for me to use to help teach my little dude to tell time. He plays with the buttons, tries to pull the bird out and seems to really like this toy. This Fisher Price Clock is a really good value for the amount of entertainment it has provided.

8. Sensory Balls - My little dude is shaping up to be a true little boy; he seems to like all things traditionally for boys. Playing with cars and balls are at the top of the list - these Little Tikes Sensory Balls are his favourite balls to play "catch" with. He loves to chase them around, hand it to you and have you throw it back to him or he will throw it and fetch it himself. They are easy to hold and provide for a fun way to play with your little one.

9. Pour & Float Froggy - Bath time just became WAY more entertaining for both you and your little one. If you are anything like me, by the end of the day (bath time), you are starting to lose steam from entertaining your little one all day (if you on maternity leave) or from a long day at work (if back to work). My little dude loves buttons and toys that sing, so this froggy from V-Tech is the perfect solution for bath time entertainment! We started using this toy as soon as my little dude started using the "big" bath tub and we use it at every bath time to this day. Oh, and did I mention it works well for the pool outside as well? Bonus!

10. Scout (or Violet) - This might be a situation where I have saved the best for last... Scout, by LeapFrog has been a fan favourite since my little dude was about a month old! He doesn't use it or play with it everyday anymore, but still smiles when he sees it and I assume he will play with Scout more and more once he figures out how to push the buttons on his hands.
Cousins at 4 months old (Little Dude) and 2 months old (Baby E) being entertained by Violet
Scouts key features that make him a favourite are: he plays bedtime music for 5, 10 or 15 minutes replacing other mobiles etc.; he has your little one's name, favourite food, favourite color and favourite animal programmed in so his messages are personal; and he sings all kinds of songs etc. making this toy "less annoying" for the adults listening. I have purchased Scout (or Violet) for a few people and everyone seems to love them!

I hope this list was helpful and gives you some ideas when buying toys for your baby, your nieces and nephews or any special little one in your life. Are there any toys that I missed that are on your baby's top ten list? Let me know!

If you found this post helpful why not share it with everyone you know shopping for little ones? It would make my day :)

My shoes for that:  Little Dude's FILA sneakers, since we are talking about favourites... these were the only shoes he would keep on his feet for quite a while!

Don't forget to share this post on pinterest :)
Baby's favourite toys - Age 0-10 months