Lil’ Gardeners Club at the Royal Floral Conservatory

This winter my girls and I have had the pleasure of participating in the Lil’ Gardener’s Club with the Regina Floral Conservatory.  It has been such a great place for the girls to get in some sensory and messy play (that I am not interested in doing in my own home) and a beautiful place to hang out one afternoon a month!

So far, the girls’ favourite activities are tea party (which of course is the one activity we actually have at home) and the water table (which is one I totally don’t have at home during the winter). I also love that each week they get to plant a plant and take it home and there are so many crafts set up.

For cuteness – here are pictures of my girls at Lil’ Gardener’s Club.

If you’re interested in checking it out, the next session isn’t until fall but you can keep updated on their website at http://reginafloralconservatory.ca/lil-gardeners-club/

The Floral Conservatory also has some amazing photo spots and great events so make sure you check them out!

It’s Time For a Change (But I Just Didn’t Make It Happen)

This journey with Readiness has changed me. Not physically, like I had hoped. But my mental game is different. I feel different.  I think differently about food and exercise than I did before.  This journey reminded me that women can support one another and women do support one another and a gym can be a safe place to go.

I fell off this program awhile back. Probably somewhere around week four was when it really started to get hairy.  I fell off and didn’t get back on right away. I said “I’ll get back on tomorrow,” but I didn’t.  Then I said “tomorrow,” and I didn’t again.  And so on and so forth.  And then I skipped my workout and then I skipped it again and then I stopped booking workouts because I just didn’t want to go. And then I bought a case of pop for my house which is something I said I was done doing because it’s one of my very worst habits.  And then I put my LBD recipe book on the shelf in my kitchen instead of leaving it out in the open like I had been for weeks. It all just derailed.

Tomorrow I am going for my after photos.  There isn’t going to be much of a difference in my body. Maybe a little less bloat. Maybe.  But otherwise, pretty much the same.  I am disappointed in myself. I am sad that I gave up. I am sad that I couldn’t figure out how to get out of my head and just make it happen. But I’m not going to dwell on it – I am going to move forward and work on my head stuff before my body stuff.  I need to work on my head stuff so that I can get out of it.

I didn’t work the program so it didn’t work for me. That’s on me. But there were some pretty incredible parts of it either way. For me, the biggest thing was the feeling I got when I was in the gym.  I have never left a class in the past at any gym in any facility and felt accomplished. I have always left dwelling on the things I couldn’t do, how goofy I must have looked making my body do that, how tired I felt afterwards, and how weak I was compared to the other people in the room.  When I left Readiness after a class it was different. I felt good. I was proud of what I was able to do. I was proud of the fact that I showed up and I put in the work.  And it was the other women in the room who did that for me – they made me feel strong, and successful, and proud. They made me feel welcome and like it really, genuinely, didn’t matter what I could or couldn’t do, but that fact that I showed up was enough.  It was a really, really good feeling.

So I am not a success story like I had hoped. I don’t have amazing before and after photos to show you like I had hoped. I am not the person who will inspire you to change the way I changed like I had hoped.  This didn’t go as I’d hoped. But it went and I learned and I really, really believe in what it was all about.  There are plenty of women with incredible success stories on the Readiness website and I encourage you to go feel inspired by them like I was at the start of this program and continue to be.  I encourage you to take a leap for yourself and for your body and for your health and for your family too.  That leap doesn’t need to happen at Readiness, but it’s an amazing option if you’re up for it.

Thanks for following my journey, mamas. Thank you for your encouragement and your support. I’m sorry I let myself down, and in turn, let you down.  But I’m grateful that you’re still here anyway.

Take care of yourself, mamas. Much love,

Jaclyn

When I started this journey with Readiness Fitness I was so incredibly motivated. I was ready, I wanted it, I truly believed I was worth it. The first week of the Little Black Dress program was amazing. I was feeling better, I was eating well, I was sticking to plan.  The second week continued to be good. The food was delicious (including the recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes that I shared on my last post) and it felt so good to be showing my girls was healthy eating looked like.  I wasn’t perfect in those two weeks, but I was proud of how things were going.

And then the beginning of week three hit.  And I don’t know if I got lazy or got bored or what it was, but I started to fall off. The win in week three was that I got back on every time I fell off.  Which is not something I can say for myself in the past. Every time I have ever “fallen off” a plan in the past, it was permanent. I fell off and couldn’t get back on. I guess by couldn’t I mean I chose not to.  But this time, if I made a poor choice in a meal or a snack or a drink, then the next thing I put in my mouth was on plan.  I also met my water goals 6/7 days on week three – which was awesome! I honestly sometimes forget how important water is until I drink as much as I’m supposed to and I feel so good.  ANOTHER success over the previous three weeks was learning not to punish myself or hate myself for a bad choice.  In the past, I have allowed bad choices to make me feel like a bad person or I am destined for bad choices for life.  But I’m not. Every time I make a choice I can change the way the day is going. I don’t have to turn a bad breakfast into a bad day.

Week three went on… stuff started to slip. I was in a bad place with my depression.  My meds were wonky and I was low and when I’m low I feel so out-of-control of everything, including my food.  It was a bad week and I allowed myself treats that I knew weren’t good for me. I allowed myself “just a bit” which turned into more than just a bit.  And turned into craving the bad stuff again.  It definitely wasn’t the worst low week I’ve ever had as far as food and exercise go, but it still wasn’t as good as I would like to be. A goal of mine is to learn how to manage those tough weeks better.

And week four I just felt right off the wagon.  No excuses. No reason. I just did. I chose to.  I had three days of consuming garbage.  Indulging in garbage.  And by bedtime on day three I was so sick.  Like throwing up sick.  And on day four I woke up so sick.  Like cramping, throwing up, headache sick.  And I knew it was because of my bad choices.  I momentarily considered food poisoning or the flu, but then took responsibility for my actions and acknowledged that my poor choices led to this.  And I made myself a green smoothie and drank a litre of water and got up off my ass and cleaned up around my house and quit feeling sorry for myself. It was hard, and all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and indulge in how shitty I felt.  But I didn’t. Because my mindset is changing and I am learning that it’s okay to fall. And it’s okay to make mistakes. And they don’t need to doom me.

After that, I had a good day. I made good choices. I drank all of my water.  I felt so much better going to bed than I did waking up. I slept well.  When I woke up in the morning, I was determined to have a good day. It didn’t go quite as I had planned, but I still made good choices and I still drank my water. And tomorrow will be better. Because this isn’t just about weight loss or inches lost or whatever. This is about getting out the mindset that I’ve been in and it’s about stopping feeling so shitty all the time. And it’s about showing my kids what good choices are and that we feel better when we make good choices.  In my first post, when I talked about how I’m done being fat, it wasn’t just about the physical existence. It was about the mind. I am stuck in a fat mind, if that makes any sense. Stuck in a mind-frame where I’ll probably just be fat forever so why even bother. But I don’t have to be.  I don’t have to lose 30 lbs today or this week or this month.  But if I end this year 30 lbs lighter than I will be better off than I am now.  And if it takes me ten years to get to my ‘goal weight’ then it takes me ten years, but I’ll still be far better off by then than I am now.

My brain is changing.  I’m not perfect. This journey hasn’t been perfect. But it’s been what I needed. The support from Tracy, the team at Readiness, and the other women in the program has been incredible for me.  It has felt so good to go to a place where I feel welcome and supported and truly not judged.  It has also been amazing to have someone check in with me on a regular basis and hold me accountable.  Tracy emails everyone involved in LBD every week to check in and asks us particular questions about our progress. I love that I can tell her more than just “things are going well” or “I had a shitty week.”  I can be honest and open and talk about my struggles. And she gives her advice and sometimes she gives tough love. Just kidding. She always gives tough love. But she keeps it real without making it personal and making it hurt your feelings. Which, when it comes to this journey, is so important to me because my feelings are easily hurt when it comes to things I’m insecure about, which I’m sure you can relate to, and my journey to health is something I’m insecure about.

My body hasn’t changed much.  I don’t know if I’ll reach my physical goals in the timeframe I originally set for myself.  I haven’t worked out as much as I’d hoped and it hasn’t gone as smoothly as I was determined for it to. But I’ll get there. It’ll take time. It took me 29 years to get here – I won’t get somewhere new overnight. I am working on changing the way I think about food and changing the relationship I have with it.  I am teaching my kids to think about what they’re putting in their body in a positive way.  I might still make the choice somedays to eat McDonalds or go out for ice cream or order in pizza on a Friday night.  But I refuse to continue to allow those choices to control me. I control those choices.  I am allowed to make them, but then I live with them. I don’t blame them on someone or something; I just own them.  And then I move on and make different, better choices next time.

In my experience, weight loss is about so much more than the weight. It’s a head game for me.  And I need to win the game. I will win the game. I’m working on winning the game.  And thank YOU for being part of that journey.

 

If you are interested in checking out what the Little Black Dress program at Readiness Fitness is all about or how it might help you on your own journey to health, go here. If you have any questions or want to know more because you are interested, talk to me. I am more than happy to answer your questions. If you’re looking for a safe place to work out or try something new, I genuinely think that Readiness is a great place.  Look into it.

I had a really challenging breastfeeding journey with my first daughter.  When E was born she came out with some problems after a long labour and ended up being in the NICU for a couple nights. I didn’t really get to see her until about five hours after she was born and I was so exhausted and had lost so much blood that my focus was being present – breastfeeding wasn’t even really a thought that first night.  By that point, the nurses in NICU had already given her a sucky and a bit of formula since I couldn’t be with her.  Then I went back to my room and slept for 12 hours straight.  I didn’t see her again until morning.

We didn’t get the chances we needed to start a strong breastfeeding relationship. Once we did finally give it a go we realized that she struggled to latch and my milk supply wasn’t coming.  I saw a lactation consultant in the hospital and she recommended a nipple shield because it turned out I had flat nipples that I didn’t really realize would be problematic.  The nipple shield didn’t help and we went home, continuing to do skin-to-skin and hoping that breastfeeding would magically start working.  It was horrible.

The first couple weeks at home I pumped every three hours with a huge double electric pump and I supplemented with formula because pumping sucked and I spent the first couple weeks at home really stressed.  Then someone, I honestly don’t remember who, recommended I try a different size of nipple shield (because apparently that’s a thing) and it was like MAGIC.  Milk came. She drank it. She had a full belly.  I cried with joy.  Then came the concerns about using a nipple shield.

Nipple shields can affect supply because the good hormonal things aren’t all happening the way they should with a shield, so lots of lactation consultants (LCs) recommend not to use one solely (the ones I talked to at the time, anyway) because it can slow your milk supply.  Well jeez. Now what was I supposed to do? I spent the next four weeks stressed about the nipple shield and making sure we got rid of it and doing everything I could to get her off of it.  (It wasn’t just that reason I wanted to get rid of it – it was messy and it made nursing in public a huge inconvenience.  It was a pain in the butt).  Anyway, eventually we got rid of it.

At this point, honestly, the only thing that was keeping me going was the cost of formula.  I did not want to pay for it. I had no attachment to breastfeeding – honestly, I hated breastfeeding at this point. It was a huge drain on my body. I was exhausted. She was ALWAYS nursing. I was uncomfortable.  I was just tired of it. But I didn’t want to pay for formula so I continued.

THEN came the “Mom, I don’t want to be under a cover while you nurse me” fight. She ripped it off everytime. I was tired of fighting. It was summer. It was fricken’ hot under there, for both of us.  So I learned the two-shirt technique and went forward with that one.  At first it made me uncomfortable feeling so ‘exposed’ in the world, but I quickly got over it, realizing that my baby needed it and it made life easier.

I went on to nurse E for about a year.  The first few months were so, so hard. And I didn’t have the supports I needed. Not because I couldn’t afford them or because I didn’t want them; I just didn’t know any better. And I think that’s true for a lot of moms.  As time went on, breastfeeding got easier. And my relationship with it emotionally got better. I went on to really enjoy nursing and really feeling that (what felt like early-on, mythical) strong bond and connection that breastfeeding creates. I went on to successfully nurse until E’s first birthday when she weaned herself because I was three-months pregnant and she was never really into it anyway (she was too social to spend too much time on my boob).

Breastfeeding is one of the HARDEST things I have ever done – and the anxieties surrounding it are crazy.  With E, I ran into:

And then we did until she was a year. And she quit herself. And I cried the last time I nursed her – I remember it really clearly. I knew it was almost over. She made it clear that end was coming. And the last time I nursed her it was just so beautiful and wonderful and I cried with joy the way I did the first time that milk came out of that nipple shield. And all was right in my breastfeeding world.

Then came baby #2.  I wasn’t as stressed about breastfeeding with her because I felt pretty confident after E.  I was a bit worried about some problems we could potentially have and I was super scared for my birth after everything we went through with E. I was scared the birth could affect feeding.  And then H came. And it went so freaking great. The labour was manageable and reasonably short, the birth was quick, we got skin-to-skin immediately and she did the boobie crawl. It was ah-mazing.  After everything I went through with E it was such a relief for H to just know what to do.

The anxieties I had with H weren’t the same as the ones I had with E, but they were there – ever-present:

And we went through those things for a long time. I had lots of anxieties about what nursing my second meant for my first.  It was stressful.  And NOW we’re running into WEANING!  And all of the anxieties surrounding that.  I am ready to wean her. In my head.  It is uncomfortable lately; I think she’s gotten lazy with her latch and is chewing a bit.  My nipples hurt.  She wakes up in the night still and I want to sleep again.  She is clawing at me and grabbing at my breasts all the time.  I just feel ready. But then I think about doing it and it makes me so sad in so many ways.  I am sad to take something away from her that I know she loves. I am sad to think that this could be it for me. If we don’t have any more babies, this is the end of babyhood in my world.  And that makes my heart hurt.  Weaning her, to me, is the biggest sign that babyhood is now over.  Am I ready for that?  And how do I even wean? Do I do it cold turkey? Or do I take my time?  Will she hate me?

I know I’m not alone in all of these anxieties. And I am confident that every mother has their own sets of anxieties about it. Whether it came easily for you, it was hard, or it didn’t work at all. Or maybe you chose not to breastfeed and that gives you anxiety. Or maybe you have a completely different journey that has nothing to do with breastfeeding but with formula feeding.  Maybe you don’t have any anxieties and that is perfectly okay too.  Maybe your breastfeeding experience has contributed to postpartum depression.  Maybe your breastfeeding experience has been as magical as you had hoped.  Whatever your experience, this mom thing is hard. And the stigma and anxieties surrounding breastfeeding don’t help. At all. They make it way, way worse.  I tell moms all the time to do what they need to do for themselves to be happy. They need to make the choices that work for them and their families.  But I still carry my own shame and anxieties and worries about the way I am raising my babies and the choices I make surrounding their health. And breastfeeding has been hard.  And now ending will be hard.

When I was talking to my mom about it the other day, she laid down some good experienced mom advice.  In 6 years (or sometime down the road), I won’t look back and wish I had breastfed a few more months.  And babyhood might be over but my babies will go through so many more amazing stages that I will get to witness and enjoy.  And on a side note, babyhood might be nice to be out of.  It’s exhausting.  And it takes and takes and takes. It might be nice to get to the part of parenthood that gives back.

 

If you are having struggles with breastfeeding or you are having feelings surrounding it or you are just having feelings you can’t handle that aren’t related to breastfeeding, reach out. There are so many amazing resources available here in our community.  If you want to find out more, please contact me – privately on Facebook or via email at jaclynr@mommyconnections.ca and I can connect you with the resources you need.

Okayyy. So I’m a couple weeks into LBD now and I figured it was time to give you awesome mamas an update on how things are going.

It’s hard. So hard.

But good. So good.

The last two weeks have been really hard. Really hard.  They have honestly challenged me in ways that I haven’t challenged myself before but have also proven to me that I am capable, which has been amazing.  Going into this challenge, I was so afraid to let myself down.  I was so afraid I’d go into it, it would get too hard, and I would quit.  Because that’s what I’ve always done.  But I’m two weeks in (which is a win for me!) and I am seeing results and I am feeling very motivated to continue on.  Which again, is a win for me.  So, the two weeks have been super freaking hard, but super freaking rewarding.

Things I have learned about myself in the last two weeks:

I AM capable.

I CAN make good choices.

I control what goes into my body.

One bad choice doesn’t have to mean a bad day.

One of the first things we are asked to do in the Little Black Dress program is to set our affirmations.  Choose positive things that are going to help us achieve our goals. My affirmations are:

The program started with a couple days of detox, which honestly, were brutal. Day one of detox I just felt so sick and I went to bed at like 7:30 because I just didn’t want to be awake anymore. Day two felt better but I was so hungry. But I completed the detox, another win, and felt pretty proud of myself waking up on Wednesday. The rest of the week went well – part of LBD is being given a meal plan for 6 weeks, which has been huge for me because I like that the work of figuring out what I’m going to be eating has been handled. I hate meal planning.  I don’t mind cooking if I’m prepared, but I hate planning.  So the meal plan has been super helpful. These are some of the (surprisingly) yummy and satisfying meals I have enjoyed so far!

 

One of the MOST surprising things that I have enjoyed on this meal plan is Pumpkin Pancakes. Totally out of my wheelhouse but I wanted to have something other than a smoothie for breakfast and my girls and I wanted to cook, so we made these:

And I actually liked them so much that I want to share the recipe with you!

 

Pumpkin Pancakes

(this recipe comes from the LBD cookbook and is borrowed from Eileen at www.paleosimplified.com)

LBD Serving Size – 2 x 4.5” pumpkin pancakes

This recipe makes 2.5 servings (the extras make a great back-up snack!)

Ingredients:

¾ cup almond flour

¾ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

¼ tsp. cardamom

¼ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. baking soda

½ cup organic pumpkin (from a can)

¾ tsp. vanilla

Juice of ¼ lemon

1.5 TBS raw honey (can sub coconut sugar)

3 large eggs (beaten)

Coconut oil

Directions:  Mix dry ingredients (almond flour, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, ground ginger, baking soda) together with a wire whisk.

Pre-heat a large pan on the stove to medium heat.  Then, add the rest of the ingredients (pumpkin, vanilla, lemon, honey, eggs) and mix with a spoon.

Grease the bottom of the pan with a small amount of coconut oil, and ladle a few tablespoons of the mix into the pan like pancakes.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. AMAZING! Serve with fresh fruit and pecans.

If you’re interested in the rest of the LBD menu and getting hold of the cookbook yourself, stay tuned to www.readinessfitness.com.  LBD 7.0 Registration opens on February 1!

Remember that time I went to a Decluttering Workshop with Regina Clutter Coach and Robyn Michon and I came home soo excited to declutter my house? Yea! I do too! So the decluttering has begun.

One of the best things that Amanda – Regina Clutter Coach said that day that really stuck with me was that organizing doesn’t have to be pretty!  I know. So simple. But totally something that has held me back from getting organized. I have dreams of my Pinterest cupboards, and closets, and basement, and kids toys. I envision beautiful organizing baskets, sturdy shelves and cute little trinkets to accent the amazing organizing.  That’s just ridiculous.  To be well-organized, it just has to be organized! Who cares how cute the containers are that stuff goes in inside my cupboard?  So, I went out to the dollar store and bought some items to start with a space that I use everyday, but is SO disorganized – my spice cupboard.

I went to Dollarama and bought these spice containers and some labels.  I had a black pen at home that I wrote on the labels with.  Once I started cleaning the cupboard out, E was so excited to start being ‘a big help, mom’ and joined me with her little Peppa Pig chair at the counter.  She was an excellent help.

We started moving all of the spices out of bags into the jars and continued with the weird shaped and sized bottles.  E helped me open the containers, I filled them, she closed them up, and I labeled them. It definitely makes it more fun when I can do things that turn into a special time I can have with her.

After the spices were finished, we moved onto the other shelves. Did you know spices expire? I chucked all the ones that were expired or that I knew I wouldn’t be using anytime soon.  I then put all of my package of things in one basket (also from Dollarama), my baking sweets in one basket, and then the rest of my baking gear in another.  I did end up leaving a few spices/seasonings in their original containers because they have instructions on them that I need for dips, etc.

And voila!  I have an organized spice cupboard. It makes looking for items 100x easier and nothing falls out at me when I reach in.  AMAZING.

As a side note we also did the ‘junk drawer’ – which I’d like to add that Amanda said is TOTALLY FINE and acceptable to have!  I took everything out, garbaged the garbage, and sorted things into these awesome drawer containers I also picked up at… you guessed it, Dollarama.

 

Overall, for both the cupboard and the drawer, I spent about $25.  WIN.

If you’re looking for decluttering and organizing help, check out Amanda and Robyn at https://www.facebook.com/pg/amandalaiprofessionalorganizer/posts/ and http://www.robynmichon.com/.

I have been overweight my whole life.  Well maybe not my whole life, but my whole life as a teenager and adult.  I have always had a bad relationship with food and been an overeater.  I have done all sorts of dieting and plans and trying to change my mentality and I’ve lost a few pounds but then gained more back shortly after.  I love carbs and sweets and snacks and pop.  Basically I just love food. I hate going outside and exercise and doing anything I know in my head is good for my body. I honestly struggle so much with all of it in my head every single day.  As I’m eating McDonald’s I will say to myself “Jac, this is bad for you. You don’t need this. You feel like crap all the time. This isn’t helping. Blah blah blah.”  And it is like it goes in one ear and out the other and I continue to make the poor choices for my body anyway.

I am so afraid to teach my kids these habits and to make poor food choices the norm in our household. One of my biggest fears for my kids is to spend their life worried about their weight and focused on a number or on the size of their clothes. I want them to have a good relationship with food – one where they put good things into their bodies because it makes their bodies feel good and they understand moderation with treats.  I want them to feel healthy.  And strong.  I don’t want them to stress about getting pregnant, staying pregnant, nursing their babies, carrying their babies, playing with their babies.  I don’t want them to stress about becoming a parent because they are scared they won’t be able to keep up.  It’s all just so overwhelming and when I start to talk about it I just feel so damn sad.  I don’t want them to feel all of these things, yet I continue to do things to my body that make me feel this way every fricken day.

I’m done. I’m done feeling like crap. I’m done being scared of the day my daughters ask me to play on the parent’s team for their soccer windup. I’m done feeling sad about the day that we take my girls to Disneyland for the first time and I can’t ride on the rides with them. Or sit comfortably in the plane.  I am so done feeling like I need to nap with them everyday because I’m so exhausted.  I’m tired of dreading going back upstairs when I realize I’ve forgotten socks.  I’m sick of making sure I’m wearing the appropriate clothes for me to wrap my babies up in their carrier so I don’t feel super insecure about the way we look when my body is actually doing such an incredible thing carrying them.  I’m over the binge-eating and feeling sick to my stomach but still wanting to eat more.  I am just so done with being fat.

So I found Little Black Dress with Readiness Fitness.  When I first started reading about it I feared it was just another plan that I wouldn’t be able to follow and I wouldn’t follow through on.  But the more I read and the more women I found who have taken the program, the more I realize it isn’t just a program – it’s a full-on support system.  A team of women who have all struggled with their weight or their strength or their health. It’s a team of women who are all ready for a change.  The owner of Readiness Fitness – Tracy Read – is a former overweight woman herself and really understands what it’s like to struggle with her weight and to struggle with these changes that our bodies are begging for.  So she gets it. And everything I have heard about her trainers is so positive.  They are supportive and fun and accommodating. I have always been so scared to go to classes at gyms because I know I am not fit enough to do them the way they are supposed to be done but the positivity that comes from the women who have attended this gym make me excited to take classes and learn there.

So I signed up. I am doing Little Black Dress (LBD) 6.0.  I am so excited to have a team stand behind me and help me grow from where I am at, rather than expecting me to meet everyone else where they are at.  I am so excited to learn how to eat clean and make it delicious.  I can’t wait to feel better and to get a great kick-start on a path to a healthier version of myself who isn’t afraid of the park or the stairs or Disneyland.

I have decided 2018 is my year.  And I want you to follow with me on my journey.  I want you to follow for you and for me.  I want to show you wellness can be achieved, even when it seems so damn hard. And I want you to hold me accountable.  Share this journey with me.  I turn 29 next week and that means 30 is really coming up. I want to go into my 30s with a clear mind, strong body, and full heart and I am so excited to be starting this journey at Readiness Fitness!

The LBD 6.0 program includes:

Check out Participant Testimonials and more details at http://www.readinessfitness.com

 

Christmas has always been a big deal in my family.  My parents are divorced so I have spent my life alternating between my dad’s house and my mom’s house for Christmas Day. It never really mattered to me whose house we were at for the holidays because they were both all about the same thing – spending quality time with one another on the holidays.  Both homes have always made my heart feel warm on the holidays.  We play games, we eat food, and there are always lots of people around to spend the day with.  It has always filled my cup.  Then I had my own kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get warm feelings spending the day with my family and I look forward to it every year.  I eagerly anticipate waking up early and opening presents and seeing everyone’s faces when they see the awesome gifts I spent so much time finding for them.  And now that I have kids, there is added warmth. It is so fun watching everyone be so excited by them and it has brought true youth back to our Christmas festivities. But it is… exhausting.  I find myself leaving our Christmas festivities feeling so, so beat.  I find it over-stimulating and very overwhelming.  Again, I still love it. So very much. But now that I have my own children, I look forward to the end of it as much as I do the beginning.  So this year, I promised myself not to stress about the little things. Especially because this year I am hosting on three different occasions.

“Don’t stress about the small stuff” is always so much easier said than done.  I, like many moms, want the experience to be perfect for my children. I want them to look back on these events and think, “man, my mom nailed it,” and I want them to go to sleep at the end of the day knowing how hard I worked to make a great day for them because I love them so much.  But looking back on my own childhood, I don’t remember how well the turkey was cooked, what dishes were used to serve dinner, how nicely the ribbon was wrapped on the presents, or even really what was inside the presents.  I remember the warm feelings, and the love, and the games, and sitting around the table together feeling so safe and happy surrounded by everyone in the world who mattered to me.  I remember the parts that no one planned.

So like I said, this year, I have tried to stress less and love more.  I didn’t focus all of my time and energy on finding the perfect presents or prepping and planning the perfect meal.  We have already finished two of our Christmas events and they both went smoothly, even though there was nothing particularly special about them (besides the specialness of spending time with each other).  I still felt exhausted at the end of them, but not in the same way I have in the other two years of my oldest daughter’s life.  I felt tired and refreshed all at the same time.  I crashed hard but woke up ready to take it all on again.  I don’t dread next year.

I know lots of mamas can relate to these feelings, so whether you’re in the middle of your holiday festivities, at the very start, or nearing the end, I want you to remember these things for survival:

You’ve got this, mama.  Merry Christmas.

<3 Jaclyn

Sooooo. I’m not a baker. Or a cook. Or really much of a homemaker in general.  Because of this, being a work-at-home mom has presented some challenges in the stay-at-home mom portion of my responsibilities.  Honestly, I just don’t enjoy doing that stuff.  I try to like it more but I just don’t.  So when I got invited to what I consider to be the most MOM event of MOM events I have ever been invited to – a Christmas Baking Exchange – I was hesitant to participate.  But then I remembered I will be hosting both of my families at my house over the holidays and I should probably have a decent variety of treats. And I sure as hell wasn’t making all of them so…. here we are.

As with most times that I need a creative idea, I hit up Pinterest for some inspiration.  I stuck with a simple search of “Easy Christmas Baking” and got hit with a plethora of ideas.  I decided to go with a personal favourite of mine – Caramel Covered Marshmallows – and something that I wasn’t too sure about but looked simple enough – White Chocolate Covered Pretzels.

Again, not being super interested in baking and cooking, I am also not patient enough to follow a recipe in all of its helpful glory.  So I kind of read a recipe then just went with my gut! So here goes:

Caramel Covered Marshmallows

One bag of regular-sized marshmallows

About 3/4 cup butter (I didn’t have butter so I used margarine – it worked)

About 40 or so vanilla caramels (the ones that come individually packaged)

1 300mL can of sweetened condensed milk

1/2 tsp of vanilla

1 tsp of cinnamon

About a cup of Rice Krispies (you can crush if you want to – I didn’t)

Candy sticks (I bought mine at Bulk Barn, but had I been making them for just my family I probably wouldn’t have used sticks at all)

 

Get everything ready before starting to put this super satisfying treat together.  I put the cup or so of Rice Krispies on a plate so that it would be easy to roll the marshmallows.  I got the marshmallows ready to be stabbed with the candy sticks.  Lay out some parchment paper that the treats can set on. Once my assembly line was ready to go I went forward with making the sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Add cream, butter, and vanilla caramels together in a pot with the burner on Med-Low. Stir constantly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Once the sauce has started to melt, add in the vanilla and cinnamon and stir until it looks like gooey deliciousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Add the sauce to your assembly line.  Start by stabbing your marshmallow with the candy stick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Dip the marshmallow in the caramel sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) Roll the caramel covered marshmallow in the Rice Krispies (part-way through making mine I ran out of Rice Krispies so I used crushed up Cinnamon Toast Crunch on some of them and they were equally as delicious).

 

 

 

 

 

6) Put marshmallows upside-down on parchment paper and leave set for at least an hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I loved about making these treats:

They taste amazing

My 2.5 year-old daughter was able to help

They freeze well (if they last long enough to hit the freezer)

What I wasn’t a huge fan of with these treats:

The dishes. So. Many. Dishes.

 

Overall, these treats were super easy to make, didn’t require the oven where most of my stuff really gets messed up, and they were a huge hit at the baking exchange!

Stay tuned for my recipe for the White Chocolate Covered Pretzels and details about how the baking exchange worked!

The days are long but the years are short… True. The days are sooooo long sometimes. And all you want is a little bit of rest. Take it from this work-at-home mama who has babies 18-months apart – it’s okay to get the rest you need.  Here’s my fool-proof guide for taking 20 when you just really need some shut-eye.

Step One: Snacks.

Get some safe snacks ready for the kids.  In our house we like cheese and crackers, cheese strings, granola bars, and veggie straws.  Anything that you are fairly confident they won’t choke on.

Step Two: Drinks.

Fill their cups up. Make sure they won’t famish away while you close your eyes for twenty minutes.

Step Three: Safety.

Gate off any area of the house where they can’t be.  Secure cupboards that they shouldn’t get into. Put the remotes up high so they don’t mess with the TV.  Make sure anything of value is also out of their reach.  The safety of your material items is clearly as important as the safety of the human beings.

Step Four:  The Zone.

Strategically plan your spot on the couch so when you open your eyes just a slit you can see the children wherever they are in the room.  Get a comfy pillow and a soft blanket. My favourite is the Paw Patrol blanket from Costco.  The best.

Step Five: Netflix.

Paw Patrol. Peppa Pig. Whatever is the hit in your house at the time.  Turn the volume on low so it doesn’t interrupt your nap but the kids can still kind of hear it if they are really quiet too.

Step Six: Lay down.

Fall asleep as quickly as you can so you can maximize the time you have before they start to melt down or require assistance.  If the kids are feeling like they need a break, have them lay with you because that might get you an extra ten minutes.  Believe me, those ten minutes are GOLD.

Step Seven: Come back alive.

When you wake up, prepare for your house to be destroyed and your kids to have ALL THE NEEDS because you ignored them for twenty minutes of their lives.

 

How do you get in some extra rest on the days you need it?

 

*Please note: Jaclyn is not a sleep professional nor is she a professional mother. Please follow this guide to your own discretion and do not leave your children unsupervised in circumstances you don’t feel comfortable with.  Parenting is a tough gig. Do what you need to do to get by while always having your child’s safety as a priority.

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