8 TIPS FOR PICKY EATERS

One of the most frustrating things for a parent to deal with is supper time with their kids. The curse of the picky eater. It’s easy to get fed up with, well, getting your kids fed up. Along the way it becomes easier to give in to their dinner demands by becoming a short order cook. Here are some tips and tricks I use to helping curb my picky eater’s food aversions and how I get my toddler excited about trying new things.

1- The language we use : We all do it. When your toddler reaches for the thing you are eating that may be a little too spicy or a little too pungent the sentence “I don’t think you’re going to like this” escapes your lips making their mind up for them. Instead of encouraging the trial and perhaps error of trying that stinky blue cheese or overly sirachaed chicken wing, their curiosity is stopped by the dismissive phrase. This is something I have caught myself doing on numerous occasions, and something I’ve had to curb others from saying to my kid as well. I’ve found that embracing her interest and curiosity by eagerly allowing her to take a bite of my food has had a positive result on her willingness to try new things. When out at a restaurant, my husband and I try to use positive language about what the other orders. We will say “that looks good” when the food arrives and ask “may I try a bite” to demonstrate that willingness to try new things. In the end, kids are always watching and listening to their parents. When we speak, it’s important to use that positive language so that they feel comfortable enough to try new things.

 

2- Listen to your kid : Kids like what they like. They make up their minds and stubbornly stick to their opinions no matter how irrational, so I’ve found ways to wield that stubbornness in my favor. Using flavors or foods that have already been established as tasty, I’ve been able to get my daughter to try a wider variety of foods. I have a basic list of staple items : cheese, ground meat, taco seasoning, guacamole (not avocado), salsa, sausages, eggs, breads. For the most part, if it appears in a taco it is a safe assumption that it will be well received. Now that I have these base items and flavors, I have been able to coax her into trying new things. The other day I was even able to get her to try jackfruit! I’ve also found that if I’m willing to listen when my daughter says she doesn’t like something, she is more willing to at least try it. Of course we have a small chat about what she doesn’t like about it (sometimes she can tell me, sometimes I get no more than a “yucky”), but knowing that I won’t push her if she honestly doesn’t like something definitely helps increase her desire to try.

3- Get them involved : The best technique I have found to get my child to at least try a new food is to get her involved in making it : putting on her little apron, showing the steps, cutting the veggies, using the machines, stirring & mixing, watching it bake and finally getting able to taste it. Including my kiddo gets her excited about the food we are eating. It is not always a hit, but nurturing that curiosity and positive relationship with food is always the main goal. Going back to the language we use, one day I was making egg muffins and my daughter reached out to taste some of the raw onion we had just chopped together. She was so excited to try what we were making that she reached out that little hand, scooped up some onion and tried it. I fought the urge to discourage her as raw onion is so pungent, and I am glad I did because, to my surprise, she actually liked it and that small taste made her even more excited to taste the final product. Furthermore, presenting them with options and allowing them to choose things like breakfast and snacks makes them feel more in control and secure when it comes to their palate.

4- Variety, variety, variety : Kids get bored easily. Their likes and dislikes are constantly evolving. Some days my kid will sit down and be my bottomless pit, other days, she’s happier to just graze which is why I find a variety is key. In the morning, together we fill an ice cube tray with snack options. I found one with a lid at the Dollar Store which has been a great addition to getting my kiddo’s diet in check. I keep a variety of healthy snacks for her to choose from. We will fill the small compartments with fruits, veggies and grains and she will be able to nosh throughout the day. I have found that having her feel responsible or in control of her eating limits the amount of daily battles around food stubbornness. I also make sure to have a few options on her dinner plate–especially when I am trying to coax her in to trying something new. Different flavors and options always lead to more meal time successes in the ArEsse household!

5- Dip it : I firmly believe that dips are a parent’s greatest ally when it comes to the success of meal times. Condiments, humus and guacamole have all helped in getting my daughter to eat. Again, you are using tastes that have already been established as okay in your kiddo’s eyes, and you are wielding them in your favor. Now, I have started actually using the dips as a way to sneak in new flavors as well. The other day, I made a beet humus. Because of it’s similar consistency to a chic pea humus there was less hesitation to try it and the beautiful pink color didn’t hurt either!

       

6- Family meal time : Aside from it being a great habit to get into, and that it is quality time to sit and actually have a conversation in this increasingly busy world, parents are the best example when it comes to building a positive relationship with food. It also teaches good habits and table manners which will help on those nights when you get out to a restaurant. Another advantage of sitting at the table for meals helps limit distractions so your kiddo might actually eat their meal, and research has shown that it also decreases overeating.

7- Sweet Tooth : Let’s face it, as delicious as they are, sweets are called treats for a reason. It is hard though. I don’t want to create a situation with sweets that they are some forbidden fruit, so I find that having some form of dessert in the evenings does help with her over all relationship with sweets. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but overall we try to keep the sweets to be true treats; otherwise, these treats can become meal replacements and kids will be less likely to eat the more nutritious food available. Of course as a parent, sometimes sweets can be our life line to sanity, but I’ve found with my kid that a little creativity and being prepared with a healthy alternative can go a long way. Some of our favorites are : avocado pudding, fruit and yogurt dips, banana ice cream. I also find that substituting something tart will work too.

8- Make it fun : At the end of the day, if it’s not fun, your kiddo will be less likely to be excited about it. Cookie cutters are a great trick to getting my kid to try new things, colors and presentation all help when it comes to a meal time success. Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way one of those amazing bento box moms, but if I am introducing a new fruit or taste, a cookie cutter can go a long way for my mental health! I also find with my kid that something as simple as picking out her own cutlery (we recently picked up some cool new airplane spoons) or her own plate have an effect on meals.

PREGNANCY-TAKE TWO

Pregnancy is hard. Not as hard as motherhood itself, but it is not the sunshine and roses too often portrayed. Between morning sickness and seeing your mummy tummy expand, that illusive pregnancy glow is more like a faint light from a flashlight running low on battery power.

The only thing I really love about pregnancy is the end result. That beautiful tiny human that comes from forty (ish) weeks of being put through the gauntlet–preparation for motherhood. The flutters are pretty cool, but the idea that there is currently a teeny tiny person floating around my insides is just weird.

The first time around, there is really nothing I enjoyed about the process. The changing body was not something I accepted with open arms. The constant nausea and the fire of  non stop acid reflux were unfortunate side effects. The crippling prenatal depression–yup didn’t know THAT was a thing–left me unable to find joy in any bit of pregnant life. There was no glow, I was no Fleur Delacour and even likening me to Hagrid would have been insulting to him. Pregnancy was supposed to be this amazing experience so say the books which made me feel like a dud, and if I was a lemon as a pregnant woman, what the hell kind of mom would I be?!

With my first pregnancy the small simple things that bring so many people joy left me numb. I was not really into any pictures, but tried to keep up with the Joneses. The selfies were well angled and taken twenty times prior to being posted. I did not want to document that body because of the crazy delusions I was telling myself.

The lies, the nerves, the fears were all very real the first time around. While I know now that many of those thoughts and feelings were falsehoods I created in the vortex of my depression, the residual effects of those lies had me nervous for the second time around. I knew I wanted a second child, but the thought of living through that darkness was not one that had me jumping to the bedroom.

Fast forward to take two, and I told myself that this time around would be different. Well, that’s an easier statement than execution. All pregnancies are different, but this one did not start off on the right foot. The aches started earlier, the pain started earlier and the stomach sure grew faster. At eleven weeks I was told there was a slight cause for concern and that I had to take it easy. At fifteen weeks I found myself in the fetal position daily thanks to the pains from cramping, sciatica and chronic back pain. At twenty three weeks, I feel as I did when I was thirty three weeks with my first.

For weeks it took everything I had to make it through the day–to fake it–with my kid because these are her last months being an only child. I want to make this time with her count, but holy hell is it tough when you feel like you are crumbling, and when the pain is at times blinding.

But these are her last months being my only baby and I don’t want to squander that. I don’t want to make it any less special than it deserves. So I’ve been taking a step back. I’ve prioritized. Knowing I need to allow myself to break and bleed, I have let myself off the hook. While she’s up, I’m up. I’m playing with her, loving her, and soaking in all those giggles; however, when she’s asleep, I let myself breathe. I let myself heal. As a result, my house is less tidy, the dishes might be stacked higher than Everest, I just might be working through one or two series on Netflix instead of blogging (sorry about the absence!), but my heart is happy.

It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not do it all. It’s a lesson I am glad to be learning because it’s a reminder of what really matters in being the best mom I can be. Presence.

With this pregnancy, I am trying to be more present. I am trying to enjoy every flutter and kick, something I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for the first time around thanks to the darkness of PD. Even though I feel like a blimp, today I even made my husband photograph my bump, my bump, my lovely baby bump because the snow was too beautiful a backdrop not to.

This time around I am trying to be happy. Despite the pains, despite the tears, I am fighting to find the joy, and fuel that pregnancy glow, but in the end, I know now that not loving being pregnant is okay, and that there is absolutely zero correlation in your abilities to love that baby when they are finally out of your body and in your arms.

Working through the struggles and finding the balance is definitely what has been needed for me to enjoy pregnancy the second time around.

VANDUSEN GARDENS

If you’re looking to add a little wonder and magic to your holiday season VanDusen Gardens should be at the top of your Christmas list! With over 1 million lights decorating the botanical gardens, this is the perfect winter walk that would even make the Grinch’s heart grow two sizes. Beautiful, festive with activities for the whole family, this is a light display you won’t want to miss.

After hearing rave after rave of this spectacular light display last year, I decided to add it to our Christmas Advent and check it out for myself. Tickets are priced well for an evening with the family and we chose a weekday because I’ve pretty much decided to never do anything on the weekends if avoidable as they tend to be a tad more crowded–think Simba in a stampede of wildebeest. So a Thursday it was.

Pro to weekday excursions : less crowded. Cons : Traffic.

I’m going to be honest with you, arriving at VanDusen after driving for an hour and a half in weeknight traffic was not exactly the start to the evening I had envisioned. We arrived crabby, irritable, and with the sense of wanting to just turn back and leave. Needless to say we went from little expectations about our evening to extremely high expectations that that drive with a toddler had better of been worth it.

Though the festival opens at 4:30, parking was surprisingly easy. We arrived around 6:30 just as the early birds were beginning to leave. Walking up there were a few lights that were nice, but nothing special, and then we walked through the pavilion and entered the world of lights.

It. Was. Stunning.

Our bad moods melted away as our senses took in the sights. Lights for our eyes, music for our ears and fragrances for our nose. The air had a nice crisp chill to it which added to the winter evening and for the first time in a long time there was NO rain!

There are lots of displays to be seen from the Grinch to the dancing Christmas trees (the music is so fun) to the hidden tunnels and gazebos. One of my favorites were what looked like thousands of flowers, but upon closer inspection you can see that they are recycled water bottles.

We of course grabbed some delicious mini doughnuts at one of the trucks because for real what’s a festival without mini doughnuts? We rode the old carousel, played in the little houses scattered around the grounds, and were lucky enough to sit on Santa’s lap after only a five minute wait!

    

VanDusen does have a restaurant on site, though without a reservation you could be waiting a while. There are also a few food trucks, and for the adults mulled wine!

All in all this event was definitely worth the drive. It was dazzling and filled our hearts with a ton of Christmas joy. To me, an event is a success if I see the twinkle of wonder in my daughter’s eyes, the excitement of her pointing and running towards displays, and the hearty chuckle of pure delight. Needless to say, the VanDusen Festival of Lights will be sure to become a must do holiday tradition!

 

Open December 1st to January 7th starting at 4:30 nightly. Closed December 25th.

WHEN A MOM BREAKS

Two years ago, September pulled me into darkness. The floor broke beneath me and I free fell with an anchor tied to my ankles. It was terrifying, it was painful, but it also showed me the unbelievable strength that can be found in struggle.

Fast forward to last month, and you may have noticed that blogging was virtually non existent on my end. Well, October was another roller coaster month. Granted not nearly as horrific as 2015, but hard non the less. You know the picture of the Cat in the Hat balancing on a ball holding twelve thousand things in his hand? That was me. Between being busy creating products for this month’s launch, attending seminars to further my professional development, taking on a seasonal night shift, dealing with extreme mom guilt and attempting to keep an active toddler happy despite the nightly sobbed question of “why are you leaving me?” October was hard. Add to it a heart filled by some really great news only to be turned around and shattered by a heartbreaking diagnosis, and I was still okay because I had to be…and then I met Neil Patrick Harris and my life imploded.

One of the things I learned at one of the seminars I attended was that in a crisis you can either look for the danger or the opportunity, but what was left out was that you also need to process your feelings. You need to allow yourself to break before picking yourself back up and being that ultimate beacon of strength people are depending on you to be. Sweeping things under the rug only feeds into the eye of the storm of emotions swirling beneath the surface.

Meeting NPH was like that final rush of adrenaline before your body begins to process the trauma of the car crash. The surge of energy overwhelmed my already shaken carbonation and just like the can of pop you foolishly put in the freezer, I exploded. All the emotions, all the heart aches, all the pressures I had been putting on myself, everything I had kept bottled up came rushing out in a very public, very embarrassing way.

When a mom breaks there’s not only the emotions from the why, but a horrible bout of guilt for not being enough. That awful feeling of not attaining the ridiculous illusion of motherhood perfection that is expected of you. While of course those expectations are bullshit, it’s still something that aches through you.

For me, the way I process emotions and work through struggles is through writing which was something I did not allow myself to do last month. I wasn’t brave. I was honestly afraid of what would come out and what I would be forced to deal with. Writing keeps me sane. It keeps me self aware, it allows me to let go of the toxic negativity that can easily build beneath the surface if left untouched, and it really allows me to let go, move on, and focus on the positives.

I hate the feeling of becoming a geyser. It really doesn’t do any good for anyone–especially me. I love that I found something that works to keep myself in check, and that helps me through the struggles, but I need to actually do it. I need to fit time in my day to actually take care of myself so that I can actually properly and effectively take care of others.

Strength isn’t about never breaking. It’s about picking yourself up, and finding a way to move forward. Strength isn’t about burying emotions, it’s about making sense out of hardships, clearing your mind to be able to face a problem head on.

The fact that you break isn’t what makes you weak, the only weakness is when you use that break as an excuse to not get back up again.

October broke me, but believe it when I say that November is going to see me rise.

RAINBOW MACAWRONGS

Today marks the first birthday of my best friend Tibby’s rainbow baby! It is wild to think that a year has gone by so quickly, and it is definitely a different experience watching a friend’s child grow. As quickly as time has flown with my little one, not seeing P everyday definitely makes the developments go by in a blink. One minute she’s a newborn, the next she’s a wild child walking around like a boss!

I remember living this day a year ago. The anticipation, the worry, and the sweet excitement when that little Squish (stubborn like her mother with two days of labor) entered the world! Not only was a child born, but a best friend too. When we got the invite to the hospital (because you WAIT to be invited, you don’t invite yourself) we packed up our own Little Love. With a special outfit on and a gift in hand, we were ready to introduce this future generation on BFFs.

On the weekend we celebrated P’s birthday. Tibby decided on a rainbow theme for her rainbow baby. It was beautiful! She made a wonderful rainbow cake, and decorated in colors as vibrant as her. Tibby asked me to make some macarons for the party, and then informed me of a nut allergy. Well, that kind of eliminated the macarons since they are almond based, so I decided to make up some macaWRONGS!

I started with my absolute favorite sugar cookie recipe–honestly, with Halloween parties and Christmas parties on the horizon, you are going to want to save this one. It is easy, makes a ton of cookies, and is oh so tasty! Next, I added a filling and sprinkles to create the illusion of a macaron, and I am THRILLED with how they turned out!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup softened butter

2 cups white sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

5 cups all purpose flour

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp salt

Filling

1/4 cup softened butter

2 cups icing sugar

1 tbsp vanilla

2 tbsp milk

Rainbow Sprinkles

Directions

In a large mixer with a paddle, cream together butter and sugar. Add in eggs one at a time and vanilla. Slowly add in dry ingredients until well mixed.

                     

Wrap all dough in plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 2 hours. I usually chill over night as I like my kiddo to help with the steps, and it gets to be a bit much to do all in one day.

Once chilled, I separated out the dough and added coloring. Though I always prefer gel food coloring, I used liquid today as it was what I had available.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pull apart into smaller balls and combine all dough.

This will give you that really beautiful jeweled swirl.

Coat counter in a layer of flour to prevent dough from sticking. Roll out dough to roughly 1/4 inch thick. Using a circular cutter (I found a shot glass was the perfect size for this) begin cutting out dough.

When placing it on a prepped baking sheet, your spacing can be pretty close as the cookies should not expand much; however, if your dough is beginning to feel too soft and warm, consider rechilling it to ensure the shapes are kept.

Bake for 6 – 8 minutes.

Use this opportunity to mix the filling. Begin by creaming the butter with the vanilla and milk. Slowly add in icing sugar and mix until smooth.

Once cooled, begin matching cookies. Add a dollop of icing to the center of one cookie and smoosh together. Roll the edges in sprinkles.

Serve and enjoy!

HUSH LITTLE BABY

Dear Imperfect Stranger,

I’m going to ask a favor. It’s pretty big, and might seem damn near impossible, but I believe in you. Would you mind kindly shutting the hell up?

The fact that my child is not a big talker should really be no concern to you, so repeatedly telling me that she NEEDS to talk and that I SHOULD be making her talk is extremely aggravating. I know I’ve asked you in passing to butt out of my child’s speech, but apparently I was being too subtle.

Silly me.

If you do your own due diligence and look at the charts, you will see the incredible range there is for children  to hit milestones. There are of course indicators of possible delays or issues, but who are you to diagnose my child in the five seconds you’ve spent with them?

As always, it comes back to trust. Trust that I am on top of my child’s development and that I am not hiding under the covers wishing. Trust that I am aware of the fact that my child is not very vocal, and that perhaps I have already looked into it, and am taking the appropriate actions. Trust in my ability to parent before bringing in the cavalry, and lynching me for a snapshot.

Sanctimommies and know it alls are too dominant in our society today. Mothers should not feel the need to explain themselves or their parenting to an absolutely Imperfect Stranger because trust me, as easily as you are able to nit pick a snapshot of my day is as easily as I could nit pick yours.

With a sincere desire to see the good in all, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that your “advice” is coming from a place of concern, a place of encouragement, and not a place of high horsery; however, this is the only tip your delivery will be receiving today. Quit being a Buttinski, focus a little more on your own little darling who, as luck would have it, is currently over in the corner pushing another child out of the way of the play kitchen, and leave the doctoring to my child’s actual doctor.

Am I so excited to hear the absolutely crazy shit that will come out of my child’s mouth? YES! Is speech encouraged through activities, reading time and learning? Every damn day. Is my child more of an observer and a listener than a talker? Yup. Has all this been discussed with her doctor and are we currently awaiting an appointment with a speech therapist for due diligence? Hell yes because despite what you are implying with your critique, I am, in fact, not an ostrich with my head in the sand.

Imperfect Stranger, I do have hope that you and I can one day come to a mutual respect, but in the mean time it would be a big help if you could just mind your own business, or take a cue from my little listener and just be quiet.

Hush little baby…

XoXo

 

HOLY HELL, I’M A MOM

Okay, so I know I’m a mom. After all, I WAS there when the ten pound medieval flail exited my body, but every now and again I am hit with the realization of “Holy crap, I’m actually a mom, and THIS is actually mom life!”

As amazing as it is to be a mother, it involves doing things you never hoped, never dreamed, never conceived you’d be having to do. Motherhood illusions and naive expectations are constantly being shattered by the realities of what really goes into being a mom.

For instance…

Last night, out of nowhere during our nightly snuggles, my lovable little bug managed to projectile more vomit than Sheila on the Santa Clarita Diet–for real, sour milk everywhere! As disgusting as it was, that was not the thing on my mind. The thing on my mind was my poor, confused child.

Without hesitation, everyone around sprung into action. We tag teamed stripping down our exorcist, cleaning up the couch, and destenchifying the air. In a matter of minutes, the laundry was in and all signs of undigested dinner had been erased.

Growing up I have a vivid memory of my mom. I was five years old and had just come home from a surgery. Before being discharged and despite being nauseous from the anesthetic, the nurses gave me a delicious purple Popsicle which of course I devoured.

Well cut to being at home sitting in a rocking chair and the nausea overcame me. I turned to the side and began throwing up. Why has this memory stuck with me all these years? Well because it contains my mom swooping in and cupping my purple puke in her hands–SO GROSS!

That memory has vividly stuck with me, and growing up I could never understand how she could do that because I never understood being a mom.

Now I can.

In the span of two hours I had been thrown up on three times, my husband drenched once, and I had climbed into a lukewarm bath to both clean and cradle my sickened daughter.

After finally getting her to bed, I woke up to the horror of a broken diaper…I will let you fill in that blank.

Do I now understand how my mom could ever catch my vomit in her hands? Yup. Despite the bowls that we had strategically placed, did I at one point have to use myself as a human shield last night? Yuck and yes. Did I give my poo covered child a much needed hug this morning because she was feeling so awful about the mess? You bet I did, because mom life is not all sunshine and rainbows my friends. Mom life is about being there for your child no matter what…it also involves dealing with far more crap than ever thought possible.

Despite the wardrobe change and a shower do I still feel as though there are lingering bodily fluids on me? Yes, but I couldn’t care less because if being a waste disposal system is what my daughter needed from me, that’s the kind of mom she got. I might cringe thinking about it, but that sure as hell doesn’t stop me from doing it.

Now, I’m not saying we need to make this a habit or anything, but holy moly, I’m a mommy, and being a mom means that sometimes (let’s face it most of the time) you need to set aside your ego, suppress your own nausea and be the calm in the storm.

…and take advantage of those naps to rubba dub scrub away the absolute ick of your day!

 

ARE YOU THERE BOOBS? IT’S ME, ANDREA

The other day I was talking with my BFF, and as is the norm now, our discussion turned to “For real, WHAT happened to our bodies?” We were reminiscing about the good old days prebody apocalypse and laughing about the realities of what I affectionately refer to as Deflategate.

Now Tibby is far more of a fit mom than my 30 minute workout DVDs allow me to be, but hearing her say “it’s just not the same” definitely makes me feel a little less alone on this island (aka social media) in a sea of mommy illusions.

News flash: Growing a human inside of you will alter you. It’s inevitable. Even those fit moms you see under headlines of “no excuses” will have some part of them forever lost to the miracle of child birth. Tibby being involved with bikini competitions and what not will tell you the same (phewf). Smoke and mirrors are not just for magic shows my friends, so just relax and stop allowing yourself to feel the pressure of illusions.

The thing we probably laugh the most about are our boobs. When we were young and naive with the perkiness of fresh curves it was hard to understand why anyone would ever get a boob job. I mean who needs a triple G anyways? That to me just seemed like way too much maintenance and I felt like they would always just be getting in the way. Well cut to losing those postpartimplants you got before your little leech drained you dry, and laying on your back flat chested with your boobs in your armpits,  and it’s safe to say your perspective will change.

For the record I’m all about loving the skin you’re in. I’m a big advocate in the flawsome mindset. That being said, I can now completely understand the appeal of a little lift. While I personally might not feel the need to look like a Barbie when I leave my doctor’s office, who am I to judge the people that do? Recently, I was able to get veneers on two of my teeth. I remember talking to my mom as young as eleven about my teeth and how much I hated them. I can lose weight, I can grow my hair out, I can do this, or that to alter my appearance if that’s what I feel like, but no matter what, I couldn’t change my teeth, so I can understand and appreciate the fact that some people may feel like seeking help.

Honestly, I cannot tell you how many laughs Tibby and I have had over our boobs. The fact that I can fit an entire fist in my once overflowing cup is astounding to me. You know those weight loss pictures you see of people standing in their starting point jeans? Yea, it’s like that except WAY less empowering when it’s a shrunken cup. The fact that I wake up in the morning not knowing if I should be looking for a bra or a belt is laughable, but one of the many joys that, once again, people choose to omit from their motherhood narratives.

Do I love my new boobs? Not as much as I liked them before. Will I be rushing to get a boob job tomorrow? Nope. Am I siphoning money away now just in case I change my mind later? I was a Girl Scout after all and as the motto goes it’s important to always be prepared.

The moral of the story is to not judge what you don’t understand. Young and naive Andrea didn’t understand the need or desire for perky boobs because I was a freaking teenager and had them. Now that I’m a little older, I get it. No judgement. No thinking anyone needs to alter their body with smoke and mirrors, but an understanding that if that’s what’s going to make someone happy then who am I to be a judge or juror. Having my teeth done was amazing. It’s a perceived flaw that I no longer see when I look in the mirror or at photos. It made me happy, and yea it increased my confidence. It was an area of insecurity that is no longer an issue and I could not be happier with the decision. That being said, it was not an overnight decision, and remember, like the Tweety Bird you got on your ass in high school, it’s a decision that is easily reversed.

Motherhood can leave you with what feels like a stranger in the mirror. It’s important to find a way to love what you have, laugh at what you had, and do what works for you. So fair well tatas of old, and hello flap jacks! I guess my boobs were just an easy price to pay for the best treasure in the world.

LEARNING STATION-SIMPLE HACKS TO MAXIMIZE FUNCTION

I am a BIG fan of maximizing our living area and finding the most function in a tiniest spaces.

I’ve shared with you my toddler art station already:

Toddler Art Station

Now I am sharing with you my Learning Station! I call it a Learning Station because you can never be too old OR too young to learn. I’m in absolute love with this desk area because it is so versatile. I can use it for so many things from blogging to crafting, and it is a place where I can lead educational activities for my kiddo too!

I had been searching long and hard for just the right desk for the area. As we are limited on space, I decided the best place (the only place) for a desk was the hallway. As a result, I needed to find a narrow one.

I found a lot of great desks online, but as luck would have it, this gem appeared on a mom group bidding site I belong to, and I snatched it right up. Steal of a deal! It was a dark brown when I bought it, but I repainted it to white because for my personal aesthetic I feel better when things are light and bright.

Next came the task of making it as functional as possible. My goal was to create a suitable space for a not only a blogger and DIYer, but a creative and busy two year old as well. I started with a basket. It is a perfect home to all those miscellaneous items that end up at your desk. Things that are needed, just not at all times: paper clips, highlighters, post it notes, etc. It also doubles as a platform for my computer which, in the long run, will save my neck and posture. To finish it off, I added some flowers to bring a little life to it, but also to hide the chaos within!

                     

My pen/book planter is actually a decorative shelf turned upside down. It neatly keeps things away from my work space, and I love that, just like the basket, it can be easily moved to create a larger surface.

                     

Borrowing from my art station hack, I covered the top with a layer of white erase adhesive paper. I cannot encourage this enough for a desk! It is not only perfect for  notes and to do lists, but it is a great place for hang man and tic tac toe.

                     

On the wall I have both a white erase weekly and monthly calendar. It is great to organize your thoughts, and every successful person I have talked to has said how important it is to write down your goals–or promises as my mentor would say–to stay focused and on track. Deadlines and planning easily accessible to better manage your time. I have also attached a little inspiration, and have the means to display either photos or my daughter’s artwork.

To fill the space beside my desk, I found this awesome organizer. I love it because each drawer clips closed which eliminates the loss of what’s inside. I call this my daughter’s “busy tower” because each drawer houses an educational activity I know she will love.

                     

At the end of the day, you’re going to increase productivity the better you feel. It’s important to find the right desk for your needs. Things need to be accessible, but the clutter needs to be managed. Limit the distractions. Make it comfortable. Find ways to showcase accomplishments because you should be taking pride in your work. Be creative, think outside the box, and design a space that’s right for you.

Hopefully you found some tips and tricks to increase productivity and truly enable that love of learning!

If you’ve loved my look, but don’t have time to drive around hunting for those “just right” items, I highly recommend Wayfair. Similar items to all that I have shown you, shipped straight to your door!

XoXo

GOODBYE SUMMER

Summer isn’t officially over until September 22nd, but already the outside world is filled with pumpkin spiced everything to which I say RELAX! You might be ready to let go of summer, but I am holding on to every last minute of it.

Our last summer Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, but this dreary Sunday is the perfect occasion to reminisce a thank-you to the long, sunny days of June, July, and August.

This summer has been nothing short of amazing. WAY better than last year which was full of struggle, unknowns, and the selling and moving of our first home while also navigating life with a walking one year old.

So before I give in to the pumpkin spiced life (because let’s face it, I do love it as much as the next person), I am reflecting on all the wonderful adventures of a summer well lived!

Classic Childhood

We spent a lot of time outside this year. We lathered on the lotion, wore our hats, and sandal tanned our feet. Side walk chalk, backyard pools and sprinklers, sandcastles, and indulging in a first very own ice cream cone are all ways we created some truly classic childhood memories. It is easy to get carried away and think that every activity and memory needs to be above and beyond, over the top, epic, but it doesn’t. The best memories are the simple ones. The ones where everyone is engaged, happy and present. The excitement of screaming GO before dumping over the sand, the pride in learning to ride a tricycle, the chuckles at the first sight of ice cream, and fumbly hops of hopscotch are all moments that will be cherished.

       

Lake Life

Is there anything better than spending a day at the lake? This year we were able to spend some time with extended family at beautiful Whatcom Lake. Morning walks, jumping off docks, relaxing on floaties, paddle boarding and kayaking, and seeing what we could catch in our nets were all ways to make the day a great one.

         

Bon Voyage

In July, we were happy to be able to visit extended family and friends back in Edmonton. Although the plane ride brought a few tears (toddler and momma), it was definitely worth the stress. It is not easy moving away from a life and home you built from scratch, and it is also not easy to go back, but it’s a good reminder of strength. A few highlights of this trip: The local zoo, returning to our hood to splash and play in the spray park, and attending the wedding of two good friends.

        

Beach Days

Picnics are such a great way to fill a summer’s day, and with the sand and sea so close, it was only logical that that is where we would set up shop. My kid absolutely loves to dance with the water, the undertow and the waves–I swear one of these days Moana will no longer rule my life! We love to watch the boats speed by, and the tug boats dance. It’s calm, it’s actually peaceful, and most of all, it’s a great way to spend the morning!

           

Summer Haze

An unfortunate part of summer are the wild fires that rage through forests and towns. It is heartbreaking to think about the loss of habitat. Although the fires were not a direct threat to us, the smoke made its way to remind us to be grateful. The silver lining of the poor air quality was getting creative, and making our inside days as exciting as our outside ones.

          

Special Trips

One thing that we absolutely loved was spending the day at Cultus Lake Water Park. I was a little unsure at first as it’s a long drive, a bit pricey and it was a real risk if G would like it or not, but the risk was more than worth the reward! My cautious daredevil loved zipping down the slides, splashing in the spray, and having fun in the sun. Bonus that she had a great nap ALL the way home!

The PNE

Our summer would not be complete without a visit to the Fair at the PNE. This year, G was able to enjoy more of what the fair had to offer. The rides were fun, the Superdogs were classic, but the best was definitely the discovery farm! She loved harvesting, milking the cow and sorting out her treasures. The bunnies were a big hit as well!

           

While there are many more memories to share, there are still a few more days of summer to be enjoyed. Even with the rain rolling in, we are going to zip up our rain gear, strap on our rain boots, head out and dance in the rain as we gear up to welcome autumn with open arms.

Goodbye summer, thanks for the memories!