Friday, February 28, 2014

Everett Turns One!

My sweet little boy is 1 today. I only cried about 3 times yesterday. Okay, maybe 4. Or 7. I've said this before, but becoming a mother has made me so incredibly conscious and sensitive to time. I cannot believe a year has passed. Everyone told me, and it is true: the first year flies by. In a sense it feels like just yesterday I was laying in my bed staring at the perfect features of my newborn son. In another sense, I don't remember life without could I have only known him a year? I love him more than anything. He is so precious, and hilarious. I have loved every second of watching him grow and learn. Even when we weren't getting a wink of sleep. I swear! It really goes without saying, but I have to say that every second of pain and frustration has been absolutely worth it.
Everett and I have had a really slow and lazy week. Plans got changed or cancelled for whatever reason and we ended up spending a lot of time playing on the floor at home and just hanging out. I had a lot of time to reflect this week and the theme that resounds in all of my thoughts is gratefulness. I am grateful that Everett is happy and healthy. I am grateful for our loving and sportive families. Most of all, I am so grateful for Ty.
There is absolutely no way I could've weathered the last 12 months of my life without Ty. My husband is amazing. He has surpassed all of my dreams in terms of the type of husband and father that he is. When I was pregnant Ty, like most guys, I assume, didn't seem overly excited about impending fatherhood. Being pregnant, I spent every day thinking about being a mom and the type of parent I wanted to be. I felt connected and already totally responsible for this little life growing inside of me. I think for dads that it is different. The day Everett was born was the day that Ty became a father. He came alive. I had never seen him so exuberant and so brimming with joy. He must have gone up and down our stairs a hundred times those first few days, filling my water glass, heating up food. He took such good care of both Everett and I, never missing an opportunity to share how proud he was of me and how proud he was to be Everett's dad. As the months pass I've not only fallen more in love every day with Everett, but I've fallen more in love with Ty.
Everett's birthday is not only a celebration of a great milestone, but a celebration of the family that we've become. Happy Birthday, Everett! We love you!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tried and True! Subzero Edition

When October rolls around I find myself looking forward to winter. I love the snow, and it's always fun to change up the old wardrobe. However, once February hits I'm done. DONE. Ready for a break from the -26 degree stretches we sometimes endure here in Calgary. This type of stir-crazy is amplified now that I have a little guy to entertain. Ev and I love to get out and explore the neighbourhood. When weather permits, the only time we spend indoors is nap time! We're experiencing a bit of a cold stretch here lately and I'm so thankful for the things that bring Everett hours of entertainment and the things that keep us warm when we finally get a chance to venture out. Here are a few of those things:

1) Hape Pound & Tap Bench. This was a gift from Everett's Auntie Al. He is loving this lately. When we got back from San Diego he made a bee-line to this toy and has been playing with it nonstop ever since. I love that the xylophone is removable!
2) Janod Toolbox Trolley. Another gift! This one was from Ev's Uncle Thom and Auntie Stacey. I love that this toy has multiple uses. You should see the grin on Everett's face when he pushes this around the house. Adorable.
3) Padraig Cottage booties. My friend Kaela sent these from Vancouver for Everett's shower, before we even knew he was a boy! He wears these every single day! They are warm, soft, easy to get on and impossible for him to remove!
4) Burley D'Lite. In my opinion this is a must-have in Calgary. I love that on cold, snowy days I can bundle Ev up and seal him into the warm cocoon of this bike trailer/stroller. I just purchased the stroller wheel accessory and it makes it much more compact. Another plus is that Junior loves to take rides in this as well!
5) Tobbles Neo. This toy is just as fun for parents as it is for kids. The weighted 'eggs' are stackable in many different formations and are fun to roll and tap together. Everett has just figured out how to stack and this toy has been a great challenge for him.
6) Oxo Tot Flippy Cup. I love filling this with tiny snacks to occupy Ev while we're out running errands. And it's super cute!
7) Indestructibles. These books are impossible for babies to destroy. Everett is loving paper right now - I know, so random, but he'll do anything to get his hands on a magazine, paper bag or a stray receipt. I'm embarrassed to share how much paper he's ingested in the last few weeks. This book gives him the same thrill of crinkling and chewing on paper without driving me crazy!

What are you cold-weather moms doing to combat the cabin fever? I'd love to hear!

Friday, February 21, 2014

A San Diego Baby Shower

Everett and I were lucky enough to make a trip down to San Diego last weekend to celebrate Vanessa's baby shower. When I say that I needed this, it's an understatement. I miss these girls so much! There is nothing sweeter than seeing the people I love most in the world snuggling and playing with my baby boy. The weather in San Diego didn't hurt, either. Everett and I said goodbye to -25 temperatures and relished the 24 degree sunshine (sorry American friends, I'm trying hard to understand Celsius, and full immersion is the only way!). I am still mad at myself for my horrible packing job. No shorts and ONE tank top! What was I thinking!? Everett enjoyed going barefoot and loved trying his first (morsel of) In 'N Out burger! Vanessa's shower was gorgeous. It was held at the Brigantine in Point Loma, amidst marinas and sailboats. Of course, in true Vanessa form, she struggled to relinquish control and ended up doing all of the thematic planning herself! The theme was 'Ahoy! It's a boy!' and Vanessa was aptly spoiled. Carly and I threw back 'Baby Buoys' (mimosa's) and Everett dug into his first crab cake. We gathered close as Vanessa opened her gifts. Everett went nuts with the tissue and wrapping paper. In true visiting-your-best-friend fashion, the best moments were spent barefoot on the couch telling stories and busting each others chops. It went by fast. Way too fast. As quickly as we arrived, Everett and I said our tearful goodbyes - making a point to cement future plans, thus making the goodbye much more bearable. As I was leaving Vanessa noted 'the next time you see me, I'll be a mom.' Cue tears. Aside from sadness, when I say goodbye to my closest friends I feel pride. I am proud of the relationships we've built. I'm proud of the commitments we've made to remain in each others lives and to be there to celebrate life's greatest moments and rush to be there for our inevitable lower points. I feel a calm in the farewells, knowing that really, it's only just 'until next time'...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

La Leche League

Ah, breastfeeding. I never thought something that looked so natural and serene would turn out to be so difficult and intimidating for me. I'll share details when I complete 'My Breastfeeding Story' (you didn't think that Everett's Birth Story would be the only TMI post did you? You did? Sorry!!).
I knew about all of the support available for new mom's learning to breastfeed - I just wish I had been brave enough to reach out. As you may know by now, I believe strongly in the power of sharing. I honestly believe that the world would be a better place if we shared more. If only for the hope that maybe so many of us wouldn't feel alone in our individual struggles. So, when my friend Morgan invited me to attend a meeting of our local La Leche Leage chapter last week, I eagerly accepted. I was so curious about these meetings. I had no clue what they would look like, what they would feel like and how they could help me. After all, my baby is almost a year old. What questions could I possibly have?
Turns out...quite a few. And, it turned out that I was able to answer some questions as well!
For those of you who are wondering, La Leche League is an organization dedicated to offering breastfeeding support, mother-to-mother. La Leche League meetings are offered according to the age of your child. Morgan and I attended the 'toddler and preschooler' meeting. There are also meetings available for pregnant women and newborns.
The La Leche League meeting was held in the home of Susan, the local LLL leader. That's a lot of L's! Susan's home was warm and welcoming. We were greeted upon entry by several smiling moms and babies of various ages and quickly given some logistical information: agenda, location of bathroom, diaper changes, toys, etc. Morgan and I quickly made ourselves and our little ones at home.
Susan began the meeting by asking us all to introduce ourselves and to share how we felt breastfeeding affected our parenting. It was interesting hearing the other moms answer this question. As I listened to the women share how powerful and confident they felt in their decision to breastfeed, I reflected upon the impact nursing has had in my own experience as a mom over the last 12 months. I realized that because of breastfeeding I am much more able to tap into the intuitive realm of parenting that is necessary to access when making decisions for Everett. Because of breastfeeding, before I even felt like a mom, I was a mom. If that makes any sense. As we went around and shared, we also were encouraged to add questions or topics to the agenda for the day.
I read books about breastfeeding, watched videos, talked to friends and even attended a breastfeeding course - but I still learned SO much about nursing during the meeting. Did you know that after about 12 months a mother's milk supply is so established that she could take a month break from nursing and still have milk?? I loved hearing that! How amazing women's bodies are! How amazing the bond we have with our children! I also loved that it quieted the voice in my head that sometimes worried about my supply. We discussed nursing in public, family member support, weaning, nighttime routines and skin-to-skin contact. The atmosphere was relaxed, friendly, open and humorous. I left feeling supported, and as though I was able to offer support as well. Everett loved exploring a new place and playing with other children. It was a great way to spend a morning.
Since the meeting I have contacted Susan with a concern regarding my milk supply after a recent illness. She responded asking me to call her on her home phone line. LLL leaders are committed to assisting women, and they truly love the work they do. The intimate and personalized support offered to women through La Leche League is a beautiful thing. I don't know why it took me so long to access this wonderful resource, but I am so glad I finally did!
For more information on LLL, check out their website:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken

Has anyone ever seen the movie "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken"? It was my favourite movie when I was 8 years old. My sister loved it too. My mom would take us to Blockbuster (remember that place?) every weekend and we would just re-rent the same copy over and over again. At 8 years old, I had just discovered horses. I was obsessed. It's taken me a long time to understand the exact reason that I continue to love horses so much. I think I've finally found it. Horses make me feel like I am 8 years old again. It's pretty simple, huh? I think if we look hard enough, we can all find something in our lives that we enjoy simply because it has the power to take us back to a time of innocence and wonder, when we were carefree and truly lived in the moment. Before most of us understood the sinking feelings of guilt, shame and regret. Up until these pictures were taken I hadn't seen my horse, Lola in over 3 months. I know, I know, I am a bad horse mom. You don't need to guilt me, I'm hard enough on myself. What amazes me about Lola (and all animals, for that matter) is that she didn't care. She still rushed to the gate when she heard my voice. She still followed every step I took and warmed my face with her sweet muzzle. All Lola was thinking about in that moment was that I was there. And you know what? That's all I was thinking about as well. Just spending that short amount of time with Lola was enough to reconnect me to my 8 year old self. It was enough to remind me to let go of the useless feelings of self-judgment that I spend so much time hurling at myself. Lola reminds me to be in the moment, and that being me is enough.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Green Products I Can No Longer Live WIthout

For the longest time I was stuck in a cycle. I would use half of a container of a new fill-in-the-blank household cleaner, decide I didn't like the smell, or it didn't work, discard it and buy a new one. My choice was always based on attractive packaging and flashy claims. Now that we've narrowed the parameters in which we make consumer decisions, we've found products that we happily purchase over and over again. I'm so happy with both of these products that I just have to share! 

The first is Cinderella's Organic Housekeeping. This stuff is so great! The initial draw to this great all-purpose cleaner is the fantastic packaging. I love that the spray bottle and bottle of concentrate are glass. How many times have I purchased a certain name-brand glass cleaner only to have the spray nozzle break halfway through the life of the cleaner? TOO MANY TIMES!! This spray bottle has lasted over 2 years and continues to spray a strong, perfect mist on everything I clean. I also love the option to purchase a bottle of concentrate which will make 8 spray bottles. Our local natural food store offers a bottle exchange as well. There are only 8 ingredients, mainly natural oils, essential oils and water - and you can pronounce all of them! This stuff is safe enough to ingest, although I wouldn't suggest it. Most importantly, I feel comfortable using this spray on absolutely everything, including Everett's toys and play surfaces. It smells subtly delicious and cleans any surface. Cinderella's Organic Housekeeping is a small Canadian company from Nelson, BC. Read more about them here: 

My next rave is for Claudia's Choices laundry detergent. Claudia's Choices is a local, family owned company dedicated to providing families with safe alternatives in household and baby care. This detergent is phosphate free (y'know, that nasty stuff that's been causing major damage for our valuable natural water sources?), perfume free, hypoallergenic and free of dyes and fillers. Best of all, Claudia's Choices is safe for cloth diapers. This stuff seemingly lasts forever. We buy a new tub about every 3-4 months and return it to Green Calgary and receive $2 off of our next purchase. So cool. For more information check out Claudia's website: 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Ever since I can remember I've felt major twinges of guilt when engaging in the simple act of opening a garbage can and depositing something in it. I blame it on the week I spent at 'ranger camp' in Northern Virginia. Anyhow, it's the kind of twinge you can't ignore. A twinge that says 'acknowledge me!', 'do something!'. So, two years ago Ty and I made it our priority to become more 'green'. I like to say that we just started to become more aware of what we purchased. And then it became where we purchased. And how we purchased. And then it became why we purchased. Basically, our decision to become more conscious of the things we did and the impact associated created a domino effect in our lives. It's infectious. It's addicting. We now constantly find ourselves wondering what else can we cut out? Here's what we've done so far:

-eliminated any household and personal products tested on animals.
-eliminated the use of paper towels, paper napkins and dryer sheets
-cloth diapering and cloth wipes for Everett
-use vinegar and essential oil-based home cleaning products
-began using a greenhouse
-planted and harvested our own fruits and vegetables
-began using rain barrels and a pump
-began composting...everything
-reuse and recycle as much as possible-posted a 'no flyers or solicitations' sticker on our mailbox
-became members of a local urban produce delivery program
-attempt to purchase as locally and as ethically as possible
-dry laundry on our clothesline
-utilize a car-sharing program for short, one way trips
-walk everywhere, weather and distance permitting
-purchase products with limited packaging
-participate in bottle and receptacle exchange
-attempt to purchase second hand toys and clothing for Everett
-attempt to purchase necessary household items locally or second hand
-sell/trade/give away unwanted items locally or to families in need
-installed a Nest thermostat

Our family still has a LONG way to go. We both drive SUV's, our house is in NO WAY 'high efficiency' and we sometimes feel overwhelmed with the changes we'd still like to make. Some of our goals for the future are to:

-improve and add to our rain barrel water system
-utilize green energy for powering our home
-bring our own containers for take out meals
-begin work on our home to improve energy efficiency
-continue to find ways to reduce household waste and food waste

I get a lot of ideas and tips from others - I love gaining knowledge from other families with the same vision. I'm part of several online groups focused on natural family living specifically for my city. We live a block away from a non-profit organization called "Green Calgary" and have found that the staff offer invaluable knowledge in many different areas of eco-conscious living. I also follow a group called "Green Mom's Collective" which shares daily tips on improving your green lifestyle. I also frequently refer to the Environmental Working Group website to check out the safety rating of specific brand-name products. I will say, sometimes I feel like my head will explode with all of the information AND misinformation out there. It's important to start small. Think of one change you'd like to make and start there. I promise, it's way easier than it seems!

Stay tuned - my next post will be the first of many in which I share my favourite green products!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Neighbourhood Love

Have I mentioned that I LOVE our neighbourhood? Well I do. I love it. Everything about it. First of all, we can walk just about anywhere. This comes in handy on days when Everett and I feel cooped up and stir crazy. Days like that are often in Calgary as we frequently experience weeks on end of freezing temperatures and mounds and mounds of snow. We love walking to the park, the coffee shop, the grocery store, the library, the downtown core, the quaint shops of Kensington and the Bow River. Some days it feels that from our neighbourhood we could walk just about anywhere! Ty and I decided to brave the cold on Saturday and walk to eat at one of our favourite local restaurants, Dairy Lane. We bundled Everett in the Burley and walked 6 blocks in the winter twilight. It was beautiful. It was worth the numb faces and frozen fingers. 
We love Dairy Lane for many different reasons. We love how close it is to us. We love that they are local and independently owned. We also love that they support local companies, many of which offer organic and conscientiously raised produce and meat. We love that we can bring Everett, any time of the day. We love that we can enjoy beer and wine, local pop and lemonade and the most delicious milkshakes...any time of the day. We love the staff - everyone is friendly and welcoming. It's one of those restaurants that just feels good, know what I mean? We also love that Dairy Lane participates in the Mealshare program and that for every Mealshare item purchased off the menu, a family in need is provided with a meal. How cool is that? And how cool is it to have a gem of a restaurant like this just steps from my door? Pretty cool. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Library Card

I can't believe it took me this long to get a library card, especially since we live within walking distance to one! On Friday Everett and I made it happen. Walking into a library feels like stepping back in time. The smell of the books, the feel of their plastic jackets, ahhh - it's so nostalgic! If it weren't for the few computers scattered around and the self-checkout kiosk, we wouldn't have known what decade it was. Everett quietly scanned the multicoloured, neatly packed shelves, the reading tables and the diverse group of people all using the library for seemingly different purposes. I could tell that he knew we were some place special. The nerd in me took an embarrassingly long time picking out the design for our library cards. I chose one with a galloping horse on it, because...why wouldn't I? Everett 'chose' an animal themed card. We got to write our names on the back! I could hardly wait to use the self-scanner to check out our books. The librarian who helped us register took time to explain to me about all of the different resources the library offered. She even gave me insider information on getting registered for a spot in the highly coveted "Mother Goose" storytelling series. I barely held in my excitement when she told me that just for being a library cardholder I could access hundreds of free magazines (tabloids included, eek!) and thousands of free e-books. How had I not known about any of this?? I couldn't help but feel cheery and optimistic in the library. There was knowledge in here, there was acceptance in here, this was a place meant for a community. It was clear by the flyers and posters and sandwich boards peppering the space that there was something for everyone here. I can't wait to foster the same appreciation for libraries and books as my mom and dad did for me growing up. Everett and I left the library with 6 colourful board books. I may have jumped the gun, considering Everett still considers books a delicious snack, but considering the occasion I just had to.