Parenting/Life

An open letter to last minute holiday shoppers

It’s only days before Christmas and the stores are jammed with those getting their last minute shopping done.  Normally I am one of them, but luckily this year, aside from a Secret Santa gift, I am completely done.  I know what I need to get and where to get it and will be in and out in hopefully less than 10 minutes.

Over the years I have seen 2 different types of last minute shoppers.  They are:

1. The “I never meant to leave it this late.” Shoppers

These are the shoppers that truly did not ever want to leave their shopping this late.  They hate the crowds but life sometimes gets in the way and schedules don’t always fall into perfect place.  They have their list ready, they know what stores they want to hit and knowing that it is this last in the game, they have a back up list in case  the items they want are not available.   They go in with a mission and do not stray from that mission.  They are patient, they are courteous and they try to make the entire experience pleasant as possible for everyone involved.

2.  The “I don’t care about anyone but myself.” Shoppers

These are the shoppers that quite frankly, feel like Christmas is more of a nuisance than it is about family and giving.  They can’t be bothered to think ahead, make a game plan, they leave it all to the last minute without a care for anyone else it may involve. They don’t have a list so they wander aimlessly, completely oblivious to anyone around them.  Then when they decide they know what they want to buy and subsequently find it is not in stock, they huff and puff and are rude to the staff in the stores.  They expect everyone to stop and serve them regardless of the inconvenience it causes others around them.

These are the shoppers that I have a real issue with.  The holidays are a busy time for EVERYONE.  Being rude and obnoxious because you left everything to the last minute just makes it bad for everyone.  Yes, not finding what you want can be frustrating.  I started looking for a few certain items in the beginning of November and found they were already out of stock then.  So leaving it until the week before and complaining to store staff because everything isn’t readily available is uncalled for.

And fighting with people in the parking lot over spots, come on people!  The holidays seem to bring out the worst in some people, when it should be bringing out the best.

I don’t work in retail and it is times like this that I am thankful for that.  I really have to give credit to those that do.  Having to put up with people that don’t care about anyone but themselves and don’t care if they are rude and upset others has to be stressful.  They work longer hours and have very little time off for the holidays so that people can get their shopping done, so give them a break and remember that a little kindness goes a long way.

So there is my rant for the holiday season.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and kindness and love reign over you.

Note:  This post was originally published in December 2016 but has been updated.

Parenting/Life

Surviving the holidays when sharing custody

holidays

Sharing custody of your child(ren) can always be stressful.  Add on the hussle and bussle of the holiday season and the stress levels can skyrocket.  This can be especially true if you and the other parent do not have a positive co-parenting relationship.  Even if there is a great relationship between the 2 parents, sharing custody will always mean that there are times that the child(ren) are not with you and this can make for upset, stress and confusion for the children as well.  Surviving this stress without excessive upset to anyone needs a lot of patience.

I definitely don’t claim to be anything close to an expert in this subject, but having been doing this for 9 years now, I feel I can share a few things that work for me and what doesn’t work for me.

Santa/Gifts

I think typically if you share custody, then you alternate years for who has Christmas eve/Christmas morning.   In my home, regardless of where my son wakes up on Christmas morning, Santa will always have visited our home.  On years that my son arrives to my home in the afternoon on Christmas day, his stocking and gifts from Santa are waiting there for him.  I explain to my son, that Santa knows that he celebrates Christmas in 2 homes so he drops gifts off at both homes.    In the years that I have my son on Christmas Eve/morning, we open our family presents on Christmas Eve day so that he can have time to enjoy playing with them and then Santa gifts on Christmas morning.

Events

Only having my son 1/2 the time, inevitably there are events that we will be invited to that fall on times he is with his father, that he won’t be able to attend.  We are used to this and although neither of us like it, we deal with it.  Of course, depending of the significance of the event, one can always try to negotiate with the other parent  to switch times/days.  Sometimes this can work out or ultimately cause further stress and upset.  Over the years, I have learned what battles to fight and which ones to let go.  I just hate my son missing out on things due to his parental situation.

Advent Calendar

We are not a religious family, but my son still likes to partake in the count down to Christmas with an Advent Calendar.  This one is kind of tough as he isn’t always able to open each window on the correct day.  Sometimes after being at his dad’s for a few days, he has a bunch of little windows to open and subsequently several little chocolates to eat.  It’s definitely not the best scenario and almost feels like it defeats the purpose when he isn’t able to open the windows on the correct days, but I am not going to take away a little tradition that a lot of his other friends partake in.  This year I actually created my own advent calendar and only made it for the actual days that my son is with me.

Traditions in general

This one is the one I have the hardest “surviving”. I would love to be able to have a Christmas Eve tradition and a Christmas morning tradition that we can do every year, but when he spends those days at his dad’s every other year, it’s a little bit difficult. Luckily, there are things like putting up the tree and seeing one of the local Santa parades, and pictures with Santa that we can work our schedule around and make traditions out of those.  We make the best of what we have and enjoy the season the best we can with the time we have.  It’s all about the quality of time we have together not the quantity.

Since we have a set schedule for the holidays, family always knows in advance when we can celebrate together and when we can’t.  It can sometimes make things tricky when we have to worry about the weather for travelling but we keep that in mind too and have contingency plans in place in case the weather decides not to cooperate.

This “sharing” the holidays is definitely not what I signed up for when I became a Mom, but I want my son to grow up enjoying all the love and excitement that the holiday season has to offer and  not having to do without.

Wishing you and yours the happiest and stress-free holiday season!

 

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Why I almost quit blogging.

I was on vacation last week and it almost pushed me to quit blogging.  It’s not even the blogging portion that I didn’t want to do anymore, in fact I actually enjoy the writing portion of blogging.  I find it almost therapeutic at times.  It allows me to get things off my chest in a manner that I normally wouldn’t.

What I really wanted to quit was the whole social media part.  Posting to Instagram, liking and commenting on the photos, posting and sharing things on Facebook, tweeting and retweeting.  I have said to others before, that keeping up my social media portion sometimes feels like another full time job.  We’ve all read articles about how important it is to be engaged with your followers to gain momentum with your blog.  But this week, I just wanted to enjoy my time off with my son.

He is why I would quit
He is the reason I would ever quit.

I am not going to lie, the few days leading up to my holidays I truly stressed about it.  I wondered how I was going to fit in checking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and yet not take time away from enjoying every minute with my son.  The only option I could think of was quit.  Give it all up, walk away, I quit.   Yes, I sound a little bit dramatic about the whole situation but it seems like it is constantly drilled into our heads that in order to keep our social presence relevant, we need to be active every single day and sometimes multiple times a day.

After a few days, and some pondering and considerations, I realized that the world was not going to end if I didn’t keep up with posting.  If I lost some followers, life will go on.  As much as I enjoy blogging and definitely want to grow my blog, I am pretty sure isn’t something that will allow me to leave my full time job.  And truth be told, I don’t know if I would want it to be.  Last summer when I was very, very new to blogging, I took a social media break and lived to tell the tale so there was no reason I couldn’t do it again.

I have to say it was quite liberating.  Sure, I still looked at Instagram and Facebook from time to time but as a general user, not as a blogger keeping up.  But I didn’t feel any pressure to post anything blog related.  Even now that I am back to work and “blogging”, I am still not keeping up like I used to.  Is this going to hurt me going forward, I don’t know.  But what I do know is that my time with my son is much more important to me.

I have seen other bloggers recently talking about the same thing.  And I wonder, is it because it is summer and everyone just wanting to take advantage of the warm weather and not stuck to their phones?  Or have bloggers in general just decided it’s too much all the time?  For me, I think it is a combination of both.  So for now, if I am not as active on my social media,  I will deal with the ramifications of it when the time comes.

Getting Fit · Uncategorized

Monday Motivation – It’s a whole new year

I decided that with a new year starting, it was time to change things up a bit here on the blog.  Instead of my Friday Fitness posts, I felt that Motivation Mondays were the new year to do things around here.  As much as my fitness and healthy eating are a big priority still, I felt that my journey was more a reflection of my motivation to be a better “me” overall.

I also decided that this will not be a weekly post, but bi-weekly.  I found that trying to post a weekly Fitness Friday a little bit stressful.  I didn’t want to just post for the sake of posting and not have any real, worthy content.  Every other week is probably a little more manageable to get decent, readable content out there.

2017 is a biggie for me, as I will be turning 45.  Eeeks!!!  It’s about time I really focus on what I want in life and how I can achieve it, as I am not getting any younger and it won’t get any easier.  I want to make 45 my best year yet and this is giving me the motivation to eat better, continue my fitness routine (or even step it up a bit) and see what else there is out there for me to improve.

Like 90% of the population, I started 2017 with my “got to eat better and workout more” resolution.  I have been doing okay so far.  Not the best, but not completely horrible.  But today, with the boy back to school and I am starting to get into the groove of working from home full time, I can really move forward and get things going.

I am a creature of habit and when my day to day routine goes off track, so do I.  So hopefully this week with routine returning, my motivation and success will return as well.  One of the biggest ways for me to keep on track is to put my workout clothes on as early as possible in the day so that when the time comes for me to workout, there is no excuses, I am ready to go!   I also need to ensure I am wearing my Fitbit.  I have been really, really bad about getting my steps in since way before the holidays, so I need step it up.  Pun intended.

 

I talk about my Fitbit a lot, and if you don’t have an activity tracker, I totally suggest you look into getting one.  They are so motivating and it really shows you how active or inactive you are each day.  If you don’t know much about trackers, you can check out this article that compares and rates some of the more well know trackers out there.  They can be a bit of an investment, but again, totally worth it you are looking to get moving and motivated.

There is that age old saying “you are what you eat”.   As much as one exercises, if you are eating way more calories then you are exerting, there is no way you are going to ever lose any weight.  I decided to try following the 21 Day fix program.  I started following it loosely last week and this week I am really trying to really stick to it.  It has been a total eye opener in that I truly do not have a well balance diet.  I am way to carb heavy and never get enough protein. I am really trying to change this and hoping it will be a huge help in my weight loss journey.

I know that eating well and exercising rank highly on a lot of peoples New Years Resolution list, and I hope that if you are one of those people, that you are staying on track and keeping motivated.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

It’s almost New Years Eve and it is time to say goodbye to 2016.  I can’t say it was the best year of my life and I can definitely say it wasn’t the worst year of my life. Sure it had it’s highs and it’s lows and there are memories that I will never forget, but it just wasn’t a standout year.  Although it was the year that I did start this crazy adventure called blogging, in all honesty, it was really just another year.

As I say goodbye to 2016, I am entering 2017 already with a bit of change.  My job has changed in that I am still in the same role per se, but I now have the opportunity to work from my home office full time.  Being able to commute the 3.5 seconds from my bedroom to my office is definitely going to have it’s perks and I somehow think that leggings are going to become a staple in my wardrobe.  I am anticipating all the good things that can come from this change.

In 2017, I will be turning……eeeeks 45.  Yes, no longer my early 40’s but at that peak and heading closer to 50.  My goal is to say goodbye to negativity, drama and not always feeling good in my own skin and saying hello to happiness and becoming the best version of myself.  I want to stop the bad eating habits and exercise consistently.  This summer I want to be able to wear a bikini and not care that I am not a size 2.

I was doing quite well with my Fitness Friday segments but as the holidays grew closer, I let them fall to the wayside and all my good habits that I was starting to enjoy went to the wayside as well.  As I sit here typing, everything feels tight and squishy and I don’t feel good about it at all.  Time to get back in the saddle and do what it good for me.  Sure, I know 95% of the population makes resolutions to lose weight but this year just feels different to me.  I want to do this, I need to do this.

I also need to focus on being better to myself.  Being a Mom, I way to often turn my focus to other things and put myself and the bottom of the priority list.  That doesn’t mean I am going to make it all about me but I am going to allow myself to do things for myself guilt free.  Even if it’s a few minutes in the evening to read a book or give myself a pedicure,  I am going to enjoy that time and not feel the least bit bad about it.

My son is getting older by the second and soon hanging with Mom isn’t going to be so cool anymore.  I want to make this next period of our lives really count.  I want to enjoy our time together making memories, doing things.  Things that we both will look back on and be glad we did them, together.  What does that exactly mean?  I am not sure but we will sure have fun trying.

I am going re-evaluate what’s important and focus on those things.   So as the clock ticks closer and closer to the close of 2016, I say goodbye to what was and hello to what is to come.

Getting Fit · Uncategorized

Enjoying the holidays with Bulletproof

elevate

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.  But it is also one of the busiest and stressful for most people, including myself.  And with the start of cold and flu season, it is a virtual trifecta for my body to stage a revolt.  For years I have let the holidays get the best of me and by Christmas day, I am almost always sick and miserable.

This year, I have decided to not leave everything to the last minute, trying to reduce the stress and actually enjoy the holidays.  I have also decided that although I am not even going to try and “diet” through the holiday season, I am going to try and be more mindful about what I am eating.  It’s not a holiday season without treats and rich goodies, but all in moderation.

Anyone who knows me knows my day doesn’t start without a coffee in my hand.  It’s always been double cream, double sugar.  Yeah, not the healthiest way to start my day but I need my fuel.  Could there actually be a healthier way to start my day and still have my coffee?  It’s not the actual coffee that is all that bad for you, it’s all the fatty cream and sugar that make it unhealthy.

I had heard of the concept of buttered coffee before, but Bulletproof coffee takes to the next level.  By using an upgraded coffee and blending it with grass-fed unsalted butter, and their Brain Octane Oil, Bulletproof is a low toxin, high performance coffee full of healthy fats to fuel you.

product

Don’t get me wrong; when I first heard about it, I was skeptical on several levels.  Could I actually enjoy a coffee that didn’t have sugar in it?  How could Bulletproof do more than just give me that of energy to get my day start that my daily coffee doesn’t already do?

From the start, they use a proprietary method in their coffee production to minimize the opportunity for mold toxins to occur.  As we all know mold can contribute to a number of chronic health issues and that is the last thing I want to worry about.  Their Brain Octane Oil which really differentiates Bulletproof from other coffees, helps burn fat, is a reliable energy source without the crash and is made from 100% coconut oil.    A coffee that helps burn fat, sign me up!

It’s a little more work to make than hopping in the car and hitting the drive thru but for something healthier in my cup each morning I am willing to take the time.

early-morning

After adding the Brain Octane and grass-fed ghee to the BulletProof brewed coffee you mix it all in a blender until frothy like a latte.

It was a bit of a different consistency then I had imagined, it was the oiliness from the ghee that made it different.  Not in a bad way, just different and I was surprised that I didn’t feel the need to have sugar in it.

Almost immediately I noticed that it affected me differently than regular coffee.  I didn’t feel that immediate burst of jittery energy; it was energy but not the jitteriness.  I felt more alert and ready to conquer my day.  Normally by noon, I am starving and but my hunger levels were definitely much more controlled.  And come 2pm when I normally seem to hit the wall, I was still going strong.

hot-cup

This past week, when I have had a busier than usual schedule due to holiday commitments and activities, this new found energy level has been more than helpful.  At the end of the day, I am not crawling into bed, I am able to enjoy my evenings and get things done.

So with only a few weeks left, I am hoping Bulletproof will continue the good it seems to be doing for me and I will be healthy and happy for the holidays.  I am looking forward to continuing to use Bulletproof into the New Year and incorporating it into my New Year’s resolution of more exercise and eating better.  With this energy, it should be a breeze.  And you should check out the Bulletproof blog to help incorporate more healthy living ideas into your routine.

elevate-the-holidays

This post is sponsored and although I was compensated, all opinions, comments and photos are strictly my own.

DIY · Uncategorized

A Very Penguin Holiday Season

With the holiday season upon us, it was time to start thinking about decorating our home.  I asked my son if he wanted a particular theme this year and his instant response was “penguins”.  I shouldn’t be surprised since his favorite stuffed animal that he always uses is a penguin.  So a penguin theme it is!

peckie-the-penguin

I decided I wanted to put my new Cricut Explore Air to good use and make some ornaments like  I have seen so many other crafters makings.  They looked so cute, and wanted to incorporate our penguin theme into them.  My first type of ornament I decided to make is often referred to as a “floating” ornament.  I was able to pick up these plastic clear balls up at my local DollarTree store.  Plastic is the only way to go in my home with an 8 year old and a very active cat.

empty-ball

First I needed to make the clear insert to go into the ball.  The ball was about 2.5 inches in diameter so I just used a preset circle shape and made it 2.49 inches in diameter.  I then added a 1/2 inch square at the top and welded the 2 pieces together before cutting.

creating-the-insert

 

I have seen other crafters’ use acetate or overhead film to use for the cut out.  I used the plastic from the inserts in a photo album that I had laying around and it worked perfectly.

the-insert

I was having trouble finding the perfect penguin design that I wanted to use.  I finally came across a design on Etsy, that was exactly what I wanted.  After uploading my file into Design Space, I resized it so it would fit on to my circular cut out.

ds-penguin

Using Circut vinyl, I cut out each of the different colors and applied it to my insert.

penguin-on-film

Once the insert was completed, I rolled it slightly in order to fit it into the ball.

rolling-in

Now it was time to add some snow.  I used snow that I also picked up at my local DollarTree.  I taped the tab at the top of my insert to the bulb so that it didn’t end up slipping into the ball and getting stuck.  I used a spare piece of paper to make a small funnel to pour the snow into.  I must say, if you aren’t careful this snow goes EVERYWHERE.  I swear a week later, I am still finding little pieces of it around my craft table.

fake-snow

I ended up pouring snow on to both sides of the insert for a more realistic look to it.  I put the top back on and we were almost done.

almost-done

To give the ornament a little more festive look, I used my hot glue gun to add some ribbon and a bow.

adding-the-bow

And within just few moments, I had my first penguin ball ready to go.  My son loves it!  Now to make enough for the entire tree.

its-done

We also decided to make additional penguin ornaments just using card stock paper.  I used the same template but made it about 5 inches tall.  I used spray adhesive and attached all the pieces together to assemble our penguins.  put-together

From there I gave my son free range to decorate and bling them as he wished.  So far, these are what he has come up with.

blinged-up

I can’t wait to make more and get our tree set up and put our Penguin holiday theme into place.  My son is itching to put the tree up now, but I always wait just a little closer to Christmas as our lovely cat often dismantles the tree once or twice after it has been put up.  And I am sure I will come up with a few more penguin inspired additions as well.

Now it’s time to check out the other great Christmas Cricut Ornaments from my Canadian blogging friends!

13-christmas-ornaments

From top left, they are:

Christmas Garland from The Learner Observer

3D Christmas Tree from Woman in Real Life

Star Ornament from The Inspired Home

Penguin Ornament from A Boy and His Mom

Handlettered Ornaments from Teacups and Things

Paper House Christmas Ornament from Fresh Crush

Easy Christmas Ornaments from Sparkle Shiny Love

3D Snowflake Ornament from Brooklyn Berry Designs

Mini Deer Pallet Ornament from Love Create Celebrate

3D Gingham Trees from Rambling Renovators

Glitter Monogram Snow Globe Ornaments from Bawlers and Crawlers

Paper Geometric Christmas Ornaments from Life is a Party

Getting Fit · Uncategorized

Fitness Friday – The body is talking to me

new-fitness-friday-logo

I will be honest, I don’t have much to talk about today as my body has been telling me to take it easy this past week.   Between being a Mom, working, blogging and trying to have a social life, I have over programmed myself these past few weeks.  Things were starting to catch up with me and the body was complaining.

This past week, I still made it to the gym twice and was eating mostly healthy so it wasn’t a complete loss.  However, it was pretty evident that I needed to slow things down by Wednesday.  I woke up with an ear infection and upset stomach.  When my body needs a break, there is no subtle hints, it tells me loud and clear.

Making sure I stay on track and getting my exercise in, drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, making wise food choices and getting quality sleep are key.  Sure this all sounds good in theory but I need to make sure I actually do it.

I know with the holidays quickly approaching, I need to listen to my body and get the rest that I need now so that I am not sick then.  It doesn’t mean that I am going to live like a hermit and not do anything, I am just going to make sure that I am being much more cognizant of what my body needs and wants.  It’s always so hard to stay on track during this time of year and I know that I won’t even be remotely perfect, but I am going to really make an effort this year.

The New Year is always a fresh start for a lot of people.  And this year it will be for me as well.  There are a few changes I already know that are coming my way and I am looking forward to them!

the-body-talks

Getting Fit · Uncategorized

FItness Friday – two steps forward

new-fitness-friday-logo

Well I can definitely say that I am feeling much better about my fitness journey this week than I did last week.  I wasn’t even remotely perfect this week but it was at least a step forward in the right direction.  Did I get my 10k steps in every day – NO, did I eat well everyday – NO, but did I do better – YES!!!

It’s all about moving forward and not dwelling on past mistakes.  It’s ensuring that each day I try to do a little bit better or at least get up and dust myself off if I’ve had a bad day.  No need to dwell on what I did wrong, it’s focusing on what I can do better moving forward.

What did I do better this week?  I made it to the gym twice and was able to get out and enjoy and nice long walk and enjoy the fresh fall air.  I did my best to follow the meal plan that I had planned out earlier in the week.  And when I got groceries, I only got what I needed and I definitely didn’t need any candy, chips or chocolate.

steps-forward

I decided that if  I didn’t get my steps in that day that I wasn’t going to get all upset about it, I just tried to do better the next day.  Some days it is just impossible to get the steps in due to what life throws at us.  And when I took my son out for a pancake breakfast date this morning before school, I let myself enjoy my meal with him and knew I would have to adjust my eating for the rest of the day.  What I am realizing is that I can’t always be perfect and beating myself up about it isn’t going to help me move forward.  I know I am not perfect and never will be.  Ensuring that I am moving forward is the key.  Always forward and not regressing completely back and ignoring it.

So again, another busy week ahead of me but I will keep pushing forward.

Getting Fit · Uncategorized

Fitness Friday – I am feeling like a fraud

new-fitness-friday-logo

Not going to lie, I am feeling like a bit of a fraud these days.  Not only to myself, but whomever actually reads these posts.  The past 2 weeks have been so far removed from being “Fit”,  it isn’t even funny.

The gym and I have been complete and utter strangers.  It’s like we have never met or we’ve had a bad break up.  We don’t see each other at all anymore it seems.  And I almost feel like I was the one who got dumped, because I have no idea why we aren’t seeing each other.

Maybe it’s the change in the weather or life has been just a bit more busy than usual, but my motivation to get to the gym is gone.  My motivation to do anything is gone.  I think the fact it get dark so much earlier now makes me just want to hibernate.  With it Daylight Savings time this weekend and the clocks going back isn’t going to help either.

All the things I have been telling myself and you that I would keep doing no matter what, have gone out the window.  I used to be almost obsessed with getting my 10k steps in each day.  Realistically, I don’t think I have gotten the full 10k steps done in the past 2 weeks.  One day I didn’t even bother to even wear my Fitbit.

I stepped on the scale this morning and it hasn’t moved.  No loss, no gain.  So in retrospect, this is a good thing.  I was not expecting good things to come from me stepping on that scale.  Any sort of gain would have probably made things even worse.  My only saving grace these past few weeks is I have been sticking to my #FitMamaPlanner.  The past 2 Sunday nights, I have sat down and planned out my whole week’s worth of meals.  It helped a lot with my grocery shopping.  I didn’t buy things I didn’t need.  Although most importantly, I think most nights when my motivation was at it’s lowest point, it gave me the guidance to cook what I had planned and not hit the drive thru.

So what does this actually mean?  Why I am I even bothering to write this down?  I told myself that if I was going to write a “Fitness Friday” segment, I was going to keep myself accountable to myself and to whomever is reading this.  I am feeling like a fraud and I don’t want to.  I don’t want to write some sort of garbage to make it look like I am this wonderful Mom who is keeping fit ALL the time, keeping on track and not having a bad time.  Let’s get real, I am having a bad time.

BUT, this morning when I stepped on that scale, it gave me a bit of a wake up call.  I hadn’t fallen too far off that wagon.  It was still in sight.  And although I have been feeling sluggish and my body has been reminding me that I am not treating it well, I can recover from this set back.  I can do this.  Never give up!

So to everyone reading this rambling, first off thanks for listening.  I guess it’s ok to fail once in a while.  Recognizing the issues and doing something about it is the key.  So time to rekindle the romance with the gym and feeling better about this journey.

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