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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

On Retiring & Life as a Working Mother: Judy's Story

My Mum is my hero. She is an amazing, strong woman who I still look up to and appreciate (even more now that I have kids!). And even though my brother and I are all grown up, that in a way her job is done, she still does whatever she can for us, including helping me with the kids a few times a week so I can work. She loves us and supports us, and for those that know her, you know that Judy is one tough cookie. She has come through so much and continues to be a source of strength and inspiration for myself and others who know her. We've always had a good relationship, and of course there were bumps and times when things were tense or challenging, but our relationship has remained a close one overall. My Mum was (and is) always there for me, no matter how challenging I might have been, or how tough the situation, she always made sure I knew I could go to her. For anything. And I did. And I still do.

This past Summer my Mum retired at the age of 65. She had worked full time most of her life, including during the years she raised Steven and I. She's the lady who made sure I made it to swim practice 6 times a week and that my brother got to lacrosse; that we got to school on time, sat down for meals, and had our sh*t together as we got older. I'm just going to say it: my Mum is pretty much just downright amazing. And like so many others like her, she did what she did for her family, even when that meant sacrifices and juggling work/ kids/ a house/ a husband and everything else. Even though I've always loved and appreciated her, becoming a parent myself has given me a whole new respect for her and everything she has done over the years.  
I have come to appreciate her in new ways as I've grown up and started my own family, and as much as I think I understand all that she's done for us, I never feel like I express my love or gratitude enough. Motherhood is full of so many things and I was curious about her journey from her perspective, to know what challenges she faced and how she overcame them, how she juggled everything. To my Mum, thank you for everything. For all that you have done and continue to do. I am blessed.

Now let me introduce to you to my Mum, Judy, and her story: 

My daughter asked me some time ago if I would write about my life for the last twenty eight and a half years as a working mother. Looking back to when I became a mother, and how much my life changed overnight, I cannot believe that I have not only survived those years, but have somehow managed to retain my health and sanity!
After working full time since the age of eighteen, for forty seven years, I have just celebrated my 65th birthday and finally packed it in! I am worn out and tired, and am looking forward to a long and healthy retirement.   God willing, I plan to be around to celebrate my 100th birthday!
I returned to the workforce when my daughter was four month's old. I can still remember it to this day, as it was the worst day I have ever lived through in my life.   I cried and cried for many weeks, as back in 1987 working women were only allowed to take seventeen week's maternity leave.   A year and a half after returning to work, I took a six month leave-of-absence, as the stress of what I was going through along with feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, etc., had taken it's tole on me.   When I was able to return to work, I gave two week's notice and quit.
Unless you have actually experienced leaving your child in daycare all day, combined with the multitude of emotions a mother experiences, it is impossible for anyone to even begin to imagine what you're going through. There are no words to describe the overwhelming emotional pain a mother can experience when leaving her child with a complete stranger and then having to go to work for the day.   Some mother's are okay with it, they eventually adjust, but many like myself, are not, which is why I eventually found a way to earn an income working from home.
I was fortunate to have a husband, who was not only a tremendous support, but also did everything possible to help with everyday life and make sure that we shared the responsibility of parenting equally during those early years of motherhood.  It would be three years of sleepless nights before we were finally able to start getting a good night's sleep.   How we survived those three years, I do not know, as we both had to get up and work everyday with little or no sleep!
At the age of forty, my husband found himself unemployed with very little income, and I found myself financially supporting my family for a short period of time.   It was during this time that I got my license to operate a family daycare from my home to help us through this tough financial time.
The year I turned 45, I gave birth to my son, and within six weeks had resumed operating my daycare business, since paid maternity leave for self-employed women at that time was not  an option.   Life then became even more hectic, with a six week old baby, an eight and a half year year old daughter, and five daycare children to take care of.                
There were many years of juggling work with family life,  such as school drop-off and pick-up, sports activities both during the week and at weekends, daycare children coming and going, running a house, etc.   I eventually found myself doing the majority of the work myself due to my husband's work schedule, however, he did what he could to help me.   As for any time to myself, that was a joke; by the  time I had worked a twelve hour day, run here, there and everywhere, cooked, cleaned, done laundry, cut the grass, worked in the garden, and did maintenance around the house, and so on, I would crawl into bed at night, if I was lucky, by 11 p.m., only to get up at 6 a.m. the next morning and do it all again!   Holidays  were few, as by the time all the bills were paid, there was very little money left.   It's alright saying that you need to save every month, but as I'm sure many of you can relate, that's not always possible.
Surviving these years have not been without challenges, however, when my 65th birthday was approaching earlier this year, I decided that I'd had enough with this hectic routine and was going to retire.   Having spent the last twenty eight and a half years navigating through life with two children and coping with the many challenges of a working mother, I've finally arrived at a time in my life to do what ever I want and start having time for me!
Thank you to my amazing Mum for sharing this here. I love you Mum, so, SO much more than words. xx KP




Thursday, October 20, 2016

Telling Time in Style with JORD Watches {+ Giveaway}

Who else agrees: the right accessories finish make an outfit. They're the details that bring everything together. And be honest: how often do you notice a great pair of earrings, a hot pair of shoes, or an awesome watch before you notice the clothes? This happens to me all the time and so many times it's love at first sight. And this time, it's about a watch. One helluva of a beautiful, wood watch.

JORD makes timepieces that combine classic with contemporary with watches made out of a variety of wood including sandalwood like the one I'm wearing below. They've taken something traditional and made it a little more edgy, a little more of a statement. Something about the wood makes it jump out a little more than if it were a traditional metal piece. Even though they offer both men's and women's styles, I love that many of them have a unisex vibe- I don't think mine screams ultra girly and I love that. I can wear it with jeans and t- shirt or pair it with a dressy outfit and heels to add contrast. It's a heavier piece that you can wear on it's own or stacked with bracelets and it will look amazing either way. You just have to decide which one you want more, which I think is the hardest part! ;)

... And just in case you find yourself falling in love with these watches like I did, I get to give away a $75 shop credit towards a JORD watch for someone to splurge on themselves! Scroll to the end of the post to enter!

Outfit Details:
Sweater, jeans & boots- My own
Dark Sandalwood watch- JORD
Wood brimmed hat- Austra
Bracelets- Quinsco

About JORD
JORD offers handcrafted wood timepieces that make a statement and suit a modern lifestyle. Their watches are made from materials such as bamboo, ebony, and sandalwood (like the one I'm wearing) and are a fresh twist on a classic item with styles available for both men and women. Whether you're a watch lover or not, their pieces will have you putting yours on everyday.

Aaaand let's not forget about that GIVEAWAY I mentioned! I have a $75 e- voucher to give to one lucky reader and for a fun added bonus, everyone who enters (aside from the winner) will receive a $20 e- gift card from JORD!

Want to win a Luxury Wood Watch for yourself? Enter below!

Fallen in love with JORD? Check them out online for the latest news & styles!
JORD Watch website
Instagram: @woodwatches_com
Facebook: JORD Wood Watches
Twitter: @woodwatches_com

Photo credit: Janette Shearer- Ava to Zoe

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

F*ck Perfect: Why I'm 'Good Enough' and Proud of It

Last week I called one of my friends on the verge of losing it with Ari. I was edgy, my patience was gone, and I was gritting my teeth. I had reached my limit. I wasn't being the Mom I wanted to be; I was grumpy and stressed out, and it was starting to slip through the cracks for my child to see. My friend, being the amazing person that she is, calmed me down, gave me the advice I was so desperately seeking, and reminded me that we all go through this, that it's ok to not always feel like we've got our sh*t together. In those moments though, it can be hard to remind yourself of that, to remember that we all have moments when we're not the Mom or the person we want/ like to be, but that's ok. To that friend: thank you, you helped me in a moment of raw, vulnerable frustration.

In the past few months I've gone through a personal journey. I spent a few months exploring some pretty deep, personal things and am now coming out of the experience feeling solid again; changed, reflective, and content as I move forward. It's strange trying to describe what I went through, but the best way I can is that I was combing through a variety of things I had pushed to the back of my mind. Tucking these things away was something I did thinking it was for the better, to help me stay strong, not realizing that I was actually setting myself up for a pretty rough experience when they all came tumbling out of the places I'd put them away.

I've come to terms with a few things and recognized some things about myself that couldn't have come from happy, pretty emotions; I had to be open and honest with myself, allow myself to feel pain and be vulnerable, in order to emerge stronger. I shared about some of this a little while ago (you can read about it in this post) and now that I'm feeling more like my usual self, the one who can see the upside to this messy, painful experience, I wanted to talk a little more about it. Not because it's pretty and has a happy ending tied up with a bow, but because we need to be real and honest about ourselves and our experiences- especially in a world where we see pretty snapshots everyday that show only a fraction of what's really going on. A close friend of mine and I were chatting recently about how we don't hear enough about the tough stuff, the real, raw moments that are as much a part of our days as the few snippets of highlights we see online. Well here I am openly saying: I wasn't ok, life didn't feel good for a while, and it was a really raw experience. But that's ok. We are built to experience a range of emotions, and sometimes we just have to allow ourselves to explore them. 

It took me a while to share about the topic here again, mostly because I didn't have the energy to try until now, to try and sum things up in a few paragraphs. It was an intense few months spent reflecting on many aspects of my life and I wanted to give it the time and focus necessary to properly sort through everything. And in those moments, you're not thinking about sharing them, you're just trying to get through. It's not until you've come through something that you may be able to share about it. I'm grateful for the life I have and the people in it, but I had to take a step back and look at a few things in order to understand why I suddenly felt like I'd been flipped upside down emotionally. One of things that I called into question was how I was performing in my various roles: as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, as a person. Was I the version I strived to be or a hot mess? Or some combination of the two? Was I- am I- good enough? And on that note: what's within my control vs what isn't? (and that, I think is a key thing to think about). 

To give you a little background info into what led up to this whole thing: after reaching a solid place with Ari's health towards the end of the Summer, it was like my mind realized I could relax a little and went whoomf! I fell down hard. I was emotionally exhausted. Burnt out. Looking back over the months and even the past two years, I can see the cracks forming, understand how I reached burn out, but it wasn't until I hit the bottom and climbed back out that I could see everything clearly. I'd given of myself for so long, not knowing when (or if) the end was in sight, so I kept pushing forwards, stubborn in my efforts to find some sort of answer. And as Moms, wives, women, people, isn't that what we do- we fight until we are satisfied? Ari getting some good news with her health was an amazing, positive milestone that I'd been waiting for, working for, for so long. So why did I fall apart then???

I think the best answer I can give is this: I'd been so busy, so focused, that I hadn't looked around me and realized what I was doing to myself (there were some other things that contributed to my stress, but her health and finding answers was a major factor). The same friend who offered me sage advice last week with Ari is also one of the friends I confided in over the past few months as I sorted through my broken thoughts and emotions, pulling myself back together (and to her and the other amazing women I am blessed to call friends THANK YOU. You know who you are and you've helped me more than you can ever know). After what seems like months of serious internal reflection- well, 3 months I guess- I've come to peace with a few things, and one of them is this: good enough is just that. It's good enough. Without realizing it, I had been striving for things to be a certain way and was exhausting myself trying to reach an impossible goal. Even though perfect isn't necessarily the right word to apply to this, I guess I can admit that I had a certain idea of 'perfect' built up in my head and I was crumbling under the pressure I put on myself trying to attain it. Even when I knew something was impossible I would stubbornly reject it and try to find a way around it. And this way of thinking, of being, was toxic. Out of everything I learned over the past 3 months, this is what I really wanted to share, because I think it's an ongoing challenge we all face in our own ways:

Good enough means trying. It means doing what you can, when you can. It doesn't mean you're lazy or not good enough. It doesn't mean if you don't get everything done, the way you want, when you want, that you've failed. Not reaching perfection- whatever that means to you- doesn't mean you or what you've done isn't good enough. You tried. That's good enough. Perfect doesn't exist. It just doesn't. It's impossible. Accept it, move on, and be at peace. Stop worrying about the things you don't have, the things you didn't do and be present and appreciate the things (and people) you do. That, in it's own beautiful, messy, imperfect way, is actually perfect for you, you just may not always look at it that way. 

What I feel I've come to peace with, what I'm focusing on, since this emotional adventure pulled the rug out from under me and shook me up in my 28 year old boots is just that: acceptance and being content with good enough. Perfection is a myth; we can drive ourselves crazy trying so hard at so many things that all we end up doing is draining and harming ourselves. We put invisible pressures on ourselves all the time without even realizing it, on top of all the ones we're aware of, that we have to face out of necessity as grown ups (yay for adulting!). But why? To impress who? And really, are you happier because you exhausted yourself trying to do one more thing instead of being satisfied with what you've achieved?

To end this post, what I want to say is this: that you, me, we are doing just fine. We're good enough. F*ck perfection and the pressures and stress it puts on us, it's way more fun being our crazy, imperfect selves. To everyone reading this, whether you're in a good place, a vulnerable place, or somewhere in between, cheers to you and this crazy journey called life that we're on. Let's make it a good one.

...Did I make my point? ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

#GivingBackisSexy: The Dare to Dream Soiree

We live at a time when we are surrounded constantly with information that can influence us and have an impact on how we feel- and let's face it, this isn't always a good thing. How many times do we see something on social media or another media outlet that takes us from feeling great to, well, pretty crappy. And it's challenging enough as an adult to process everything and keep it in context, but for kids this is even harder and it can have a big impact on how they view themselves.

Body image is something boys and girls alike both face and exposure to images in magazines and other media can have a profound impact on how they see themselves- including things like weight and body shape. Helping them develop a strong sense of self and ability to be aware of the influence of media can help, and there is a growing effort to bring attention to this important issue.

The Dare to Dream Soiree is coming up on November 22nd, a fundraising event to benefit Raw Beauty Talks' new "Free To Be Program", with a goal to empower girls & boys to reach their full potential through a variety of efforts including building positive body images and strength against social pressures.

The evening will include networking, appies, live performances, and a fashion show, all to help raise funds and awareness for the Free To Be Program. The goal is to raise $3,000  and tickets are available now for the event. See below for details and visit the Dare to Dream Facebook page  for more (plus keep an eye out for a giveaway soon!).

Event Details:
When: Wednesday, November 22 at 6pm
Where: Imperial Theatre Vancouver
Tickets: $35

Use code KATD2D5OFF to receive $5 off your ticket price

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Halloween Marshmallow Pops

Who's ready for the spooky fun that is Halloween??? A little while ago I got together with some of my local blogger friends for a Halloween dessert photoshoot inspired by all things orange & black (see some sneak peaks on Instagram here and here) where we all pitched in with some yummy treats all for this fun & spooky day. I opted to make marshmallow pops since they're a super cute and simple treat (based on those IG photos I'd say these were a hit! ;) ) and because I'm a total sucker for anything dipped in sprinkles. You pretty much only need 3 ingredients to make these and you can go as crazy or as simple as you like. Up the Halloween factor with some party straws in matching colours and you're set! I love how they turned out and had fun mixing up different combos of sprinkles (love the skulls & crossbones!). If you have a Halloween party coming up another cute idea would be to wrap these in cellophane with a pretty ribbon as a cute favour or for school parties. All you need is 10 minutes and the willpower not to eat them as you go! 

Ingredients/ supplies:
- chocolate chips/ melts (I went for white, orange & milk chocolate)
- sprinkles
- large marshmallows
- party straws
- scissors (if you want to cut down the straws)
- parchment paper

1. Place a Pyrex jug in a pot and fill approx 2/3 with water; bring to a boil at high heat
2. Meanwhile cut your straws in half and insert into the marshmallows; pour your sprinkles into shallow dishes for dipping and tear of a piece of parchment paper big enough to place the quantity of marshmallows you want to dip
3. When water is close to a boil or boiling, pour your choice of chocolate into the Pyrex jug and melt
4. Stir the chocolate until it's melted & smooth and dip your marshmallows, then roll them in your choice of sprinkles
5. Place the marshmallows on the parchment to cool. When ready, transfer to your serving dish/ platter and enjoy! :)

Want to see how everything came together? See this post over on Creative Wife & Joyful Worker!

Dessert Table Photos: Creative Wife & Joyful Worker

Spooky Marshmallow Ghost Brownies: Kewe Clothing
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing: The Cheerio Diaries
Chocolate Peanut Butter Halloween Treats: Loving Littles Blog
Table Styling, Spider Cake & Drinks: Creative Wife & Joyful Worker

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Yoga Expo Highlights

Who made it out to the Yoga Expo last weekend at the Vancouver Convention Centre? There was a great variety of exhibitors with everything from apparel and accessories to healthy snacks up for grabs plus free unlimited yoga over the two- day event. It was a good start for this yoga- everything event in Vancouver and I hope next year that it's even bigger- especially since Vancouver is such a health and yoga- loving place. It's the perfect location for such an event and I hope organizers bring it back in 2017. Vancouver is known for one big brand in particular, but there is so much more to the city when it comes to it's yoga culture and community. 

I loved checking out some of the brands at the event and trying out aerial yoga (think acrobatic silks meets yoga) and came home after splurging on a few things- picking up some new leggings from My Inner Fire on sale pretty much made my day! Yoga has become a special part of my life and I loved chatting with others who are passionate about it as well. There's way more to this world full of mind- bending poses than I used to think and I'm loving learning all about it. See below for some highlights and info about the event (plus my shopping haul! ;) ).

I may have splurged a little... ;)

These beauties are made from reclaimed saries- how pretty would these be for a Winter vacation?

This was such a blast: trying out aerial yoga with Tantra Fitness! I've never tried anything like this before and I think I might sign up for a class- who wants to join me???

There was a great variety of brands at the event and I love me some retail therapy! ;)

Brands/ Companies shown (top to bottom):
S'Well | Hemm Fit

The Yoga Expo is held at various venues throughout North America, with the Vancouver event being the first 2- day Yoga Expo (how awesome is that?!). The events feature unlimited yoga and meditation programs, local and sustainable food to try, live music throughout the duration of the event, and a yoga marketplace so you can load up on everything you need. All levels of experience are able to sign up for the classes suited to their abilities, all you have to bring is your mat and dress in suitable workout wear. For full event details, including upcoming locations, visit the Yoga Expo website.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Keep Them Smiling: 7 Tips for Brushing Kid's Teeth {Review + Giveaway}

October is National Dental Hygiene month according to the American Dental Hygienist's Association which means it's a great time to brush up (no pun intended!!!) on how to help your kids keep their teeth clean and healthy (can I also point out how ironic this is with Halloween at the end of the month, but I guess also good timing since there might be a lot of sugar kicking around our houses in a few weeks?). 

Brushing teeth is an important part of our daily routine, even if the kids aren't always the biggest fans! I've teamed up with Eggie Baby to share some tips to help making tooth brushing easier, better, and more fun, plus I'm sharing about their wheat straw kid's toothbrushes and have a little something fun to go with today's post: I've got a $75 shop credit up for grabs over on Instagram from them! (Scroll to the end of the post for contest details) But first...

We've been trying out the toothbrushes from Eggie Baby when it's time to clean the kid's teeth and while Liam is still a little squirmy (why I don't have any photos of him here!), Ari is pretty good about sitting still while we brush her teeth. She also usually likes to have a turn after us, so she was perfect to help share about Eggie Baby's toothbrushes made just for kids.

With little hands, it's always great when you can find a toothbrush that's easy to hold- especially for those kids who want to do everything, including brushing their teeth- all by themselves. Not only are these toothbrushes the perfect size for kids, they have a non- slip grip that makes them easy to hold onto. I also like that there's no rough/ square edges and that the bristles are tapered, to avoid hurting little mouths. 

Made out of wheat straw (which is still ok for kids with gluten sensitivities as wheat protein isn't present in the straw), these toothbrushes are biodegradable, making them an eco- friendly alternative to the more common plastic options. If you struggle with brushing your kid's teeth, the handle is in the shape of a cute giraffe, which might be just enough to distract a squirmy little one while you brush their teeth; it could also help interest them in this daily routine by making it a little more fun (sometimes these little details are what make the difference, amiright mamas?!). Available in 3 colours, each of your kids can have their own and know which one is theirs. Now the trick is making sure they brush everyday! And to make that easier, see below for some tips from Eggie Baby. Smile on my friends!

7 Tips for Brushing Kid's Teeth

1. Get your kids interested in daily dental hygiene. Even if it's not their favourite thing to do (and let's face it, for most kids it isn't!), make it more fun by choosing a toothbrush and toothpaste they like and will want to use.
Source: Oral B

2. Did you know you're supposed to replace your toothbrushes every 3 months? That's a lot of toothbrushes going into landfills! Try choosing an eco- friendly, biodegradable toothbrush to help lessen the environmental impact (even if it seems like a small thing, think about how many toothbrushes get thrown out regularly).
Source: About News

3. Brush children's teeth in the morning and at bedtime. Once they've turned 3 start using a pea- sized amount of toothpaste on a soft toothbrush to help against tooth decay (I've heard mixed information regarding using fluoride toothpaste, so I'll leave that up to you based on what you think is best)
Source: HealthLinkBC

4. Teach your kids the "2 for 2" rule around the time they turn 3: brushing twice a day for two minutes each time they brush their teeth. If they don't like brushing their teeth, try turning this into a game to make brushing their teeth more fun. If they like to brush their teeth on their own, teach them some good techniques for brushing such as using gentle circles (this helps avoid hurting the gums), and brushing from front to back to help them clean every surface of every tooth.
Source: aboutkidshealth

5. You can transfer bacteria that causes cavities through saliva, so avoid sharing toothbrushes and things like cutlery with your children. 
Source: HealthLinkBC

6. Kids who develop cavities in their baby teeth are more likely to develop them as adults. Visit the dentist to help keep your child's teeth clean from an early age and especially once their adult teeth start to come in. 
Source: Colgate

7. If your baby doesn't like having their teeth brushed and tends to squirm, give them their own toothbrush to hold so they feel more in control while you brush their teeth. If they seem interested, let them try on their own with some help from you so that brushing their teeth is a more fun experience. Look for toothbrushes with an anti- slip coating or grip to help make them easier for little hands to hold.
Source: Baby Centre

Product Features:
- biodegradable & eco- friendly: the handle is made from wheat straw
-non- toxic, non- allergenic and gluten free (the wheat straw doesn't store protein, gluten, or allergens)
- premium soft tapered bristles make brushing more effective by cleaning those hard to reach areas
- gentle on little mouths with a smooth curved brush head with no sharp edges
- recommended for ages 3+
- available in 3 colours: green, blue & pink

And now about that giveaway...!

Want to make brushing teeth & teething a little easier for your kids? Head over to the blog's Instagram page and enter to win a $75 shop credit from Eggie Baby plus one of their giraffe toothbrushes in your choice of colour! (This contest is open to Canada and US residents)

Eggie Baby offers a variety of teething products ranging from the toothbrushes featured in today's post to teethers and teething bibs (coming soon!). To view the full selection available, visit their website.

You can also find them on social media:
Facebook: Eggie
Instagram: @eggie_bb
Twitter: @eggie_bb