Instant (Matcha) Mom

I've come to the realization that I'm an Instant Matcha kind of mom, and I'm totally okay with that. What does that mean!? For me, it essentially means that momlife is freaking hard, and sometimes that makes healthy choices even harder!! I confess, I struggle hardcore with emotional / reactionary eating. If I've had a terrible morning with unexpected mom probs and disasters, you can bet that I'll stuff my face with the quickest and easiest thing available...good or bad. 

IMG_8007.JPG

Photo evidence of a testing morning = me getting out of the shower to my diffuser taken apart & spilled everywhere, the living room wall was nicely "decorated" because I forgot to put the Crayons away, and we were  likely late for a play date or something. Definitely a little stressful, but he still managed to look so dang cute!!

In that moment, I was probably wishing I had a Cinnabon to shove in my mouth to help me move on. In reality, I likely settled for a Diet Coke, which is just as bad if not worse, but addiction is addiction and those mom choices are hard. Newsflash, I don't always make the right one. Enter Matcha...

IMG_8761.JPG

 

I was floored to receive this adorable bottle of Instant Green Tea Matcha to sample from 10th Avenue Tea. When it comes to teas and other speciality beverages, I leave the barista stuff up to Starbucks. Ain't nobody got time to make & steep the perfect brew (unless you're my husband on the weekend, taking decades to make your posh coffee in your pour over). I joke, but I love him dearly. I think it's probably because I'm just not a coffee person.  I like to keep it simple. I NEED to keep it simple. If it's not sparkling water, (or my DC guilty pleasure) it's tea for me please! 

I admit, I was a little skeptical of this instant matcha at first because the label says you can just shake it over hot or iced water to make your tea. That's it, 3-4 shakes and bam!! rink up!! Matcha is also a powder which means no messy tea leaves and no steeping.  

Now I know some people love to do the whole milky Matcha thing with almond milk, or whatever other milk tickles your fancy. Me, I'm apparently super basic so I just like to stick to Matcha in water...iced. Grab, shake, and go is totally my style. That's exactly what I've been doing lately. They made the bottle portable too by its cute size, and silicone reusable lid once you'v cracked the seal.

IMG_8769.JPG

Why choose matcha...or this brand!? No fuss is always a perk for busy humans, but matcha also has 10 times the antioxidants of regular green tea. It's pure so no fillers, sweeteners, or hidden weirdness. 10th Avenue Tea goes the extra mile to make it Eco-friendly. Each bottle has 45 servings, and you can recycle it when it's finished. Crazy fact, most instant tea bags come in single serve packets and take 200-400 years to break down in a landfill. Who knew!? 

IMG_8770.JPG

Huge thanks to 10th Ave Tea & my gal pals at IHELPMOMS for hooking me up. As a thank you for reading my matcha mom confessions, here's a code for you to get 20% off this tea so you can enjoy it in your home too! Also comes in other flavours if you're not sold on the matcha thing, but love the idea of simplified and Eco friendly tea on the go! 

Use code: mom 20 to save 20%

ihelpmoms.jpg

THIS IS AN IHELPMOMS.COM APPROVED BLOG.

Top 10 Millennial Momlife Perks

I wrote this post almost a year ago and just let it sit. Finally getting around to publishing it today, and it feels like I just wrote it. That's momlife for ya!! Sometimes livin' that parenting life gets so busy that I'll run into someone I haven't seen in a year, and they may be secretly offended that it's taken so long to hang out again, but I actually feel like I just saw them yesterday...because that's just how fast time flies for me.

When I wrote this, I was so overwhelmed with the fact that I had a one year old, I wasn't even able to blog about it seriously. #blogmomprobs? Looking back on my journey, I am so incredibly thankful that I am doing #momlife in the era of millennial motherhood. Like any other parenting niche or era, there are extreme pros and cons to this type of child-rearing culture and overall reality, but at the end of the day, I'm happy to be a millennial mommer. 

This post is dedicated to all the other sparkly and special unicorn moms out there who are determined to be moms, world leaders, IG moms, YouTube stars, or CEO's of their own multi-million dollar empires that they earned from home. Is it possible?! Are you a millennial? Then yes!  

scrapbookingmeme

10. Project Life. Traditional old school baby books & scrapbooks seem like way too much of a hassle to keep up with. As much as I love counting milestones, I prefer to collect memories, and that's why I love the Project Life platform. It's essentially scrapbooking for hipsters, and way more fun. Still sound too complicated? Try Chatbooks! I'll be sharing peeks into my Project Life world in another post. 

Update: My Project Life routine is struggling. I'm still on Orson's first week in the hospital. So if you're all about that simplicity and getting that documenting done, I'd do chatbooks.  

bloggingmeme

9. Blogging. Whether you love or hate the average mom blogger, it can be super therapeutic and simple to do. It's fantastic for mamas (or anyone) who loves to write and get their thoughts out into the world. Also helps that mat leave time go by once you've already downed every new release on Netflix. Don't pretend like you haven't been there.  Gone are the days when you need to sit in Starbucks with a laptop to write. I'm currently typing this on my iPhone with my car parked in the driveway while Orson naps in the back seat, because the car is his magical palace of slumber.  A mom blog or any other kind of blog is a great way to feel connected to your peers both near and far, express yourself, stay linked to your passions, or challenge yourself in new ways. It's also free entertainment, and we all know moms love free stuff.

twitter-tweets-holiday-greeting-cards-christmas-season-ecards-someecards-share-image-1479836361.png

8. Twitter. Do you ever have a funny little moment from your day but don't want to be one of those Facebook moms that does a full narration of your child's day in Facebook statuses and then lose all your friends? Well then, welcome to Twitter! I love sharing my 140 character moments with other moms on the interwebs. It's also super entertaining to search other common mom hashtags that you're positive you invented, and the. read the baby antics of complete strangers and then realize you're not alone. I'm not an avid Tweeter, but I like to dabble the odd time. 

selfcarememe.jpg

7. Self Care = Survival. Self care as a mom is so important, but we often feel super guilty doing it. The reality is, if we don't make time for self care...we fall apart. Millennial moms are expected to have super-human strength to somehow rear a family, take care of their homes, and change the freaking world all at the same time! Sometimes self care looks like an extra long bath, early morning workout, or my personal favourite...creating something fun, but it can also be difficult and honest conversations with yourself or someone you love. Self care = self love. It's like the wise RuPaul says time after time, "if you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna' love somebody else!?"

bloggingmeme.png

6. YouTube. My guilty little pleasure. I could happily spend ALL DAY on YouTube. It takes great discipline for me to not lose myself in a YouTube binge. Even more than Netflix! Yes. I even watch mom videos, mom reviews, momvlogs, and mom unboxings! I've even debated starting my own YouTube channel of vlogs. We filmed bits and pieces of Orson's first year of life, but I wish we filmed more!

WebMDmeme.jpg

5. Web MD. This is a double edged sword!! I love it for myself and now for my babe. I can certainly diagnose anything and everything that ails us...good or bad. Orson had a really pink eye once (ew gross I know) and so I just popped in the symptoms to the app and BAM! Pink eye indeed. Okay that one was too easy, but you get the point. I still recommend REAL doctors over the internet ones, but man, the internet is so smart. Be careful though, it's easy to accidentally diagnose a simple cold for some scary fatal disease. 

googleskillsmeme.png

4. Google. Our moms didn't have Google. How did they live?? I seriously Google everything! You can find everything and anything on Google. I like to think I've perfected my searching abilities over the past year. Try to think of the most obscure mom-type question, Google it, and I guarantee someone has already asked it. It actually makes you feel a little more normal. 

if-my-wife-was-a-transformer-her-name-would-be-amazon-prime-c6296.png

3. Amazon. During those first few months of mom life (especially if you're recovering from a c-section), online shopping is everything. Almost all of my baby accessories including things like toys, diaper bags, bathtubs etc. were all from Amazon or Well.ca

It may or may not become an addiction. 

I am currently in recovery...just kidding. I just subscribed to Amazon Prime! 

IMG_7782.PNG

2. Mom Boss Life

You caught me, I'm a mom boss and proud of it. For so many years, moms were forced to make a choice between family or work. Heck, I want both! My years in the traditional workforce also taught me that I don't do well as an employee. I am a hard-wired boss/leader/entrepreneur. Can't escape it. I'm 110% a team player...I just want to hand pick the team myself...and that's exactly what I get to do!

Babies and kids may seemingly be the coolest accessory around to the older millennial crowd. It's crazy and cool that anyone can make money from raising their child and sharing it on the interwebs. Okay okay, as someone with firsthand experience, it's A LOT  more complex than that, but let's keep it simple for the sake of this post. 

This is the era of mama bosses. Mompreneurs have taken over the world with their monetized blogs, Etsy shops, network marketing businesses, and other home based initiatives. There has never been a better time to make money while doing "all the things". I'm so proud to be part of this movement. Also equally proud of the mom bosses out there in the work field killin' it for their families and bringing home the bacon! 

Wanna try the at-home thing? Need help? Gimmie a holler and i'll tell you all my secrets...well...most of them. 

IMG_7784.PNG

1. Instagram

Have you ever creeped anyone back to the very beginning of their IG feed? Mine is saturated with photos edited using mainly X-Pro II filter with the black boarder. I was so edgy *cough*. From day one of using the app, I told Matt that my dream job would be sharing pics for a living and somehow getting paid for it. Said dream actually came true last year!! 

I loved it at first, but then instantly wanted to dial back to a simpler time when IG wasn't so structured and perfect. I'm certainly not structured and trust me, i'm far from perfect. I must say though, some of my best friends have come from IG. I love all the soul sisters i've discovered from around the world who wake up and do life with me every single day. IG is so much more than playing with your kids and posting it for others to see how great a parent you are (or aren't).

IG gets the number one spot in my books because it's all about meeting new people, making new friends, sharing your struggles & celebrating each-others success. It's taking a snapshot or video clip and using that to pave the way for genuine dialogue.  Although the internet is home for many trolls and weird people looking to judge and insult, it's also a place to find some of the most warm and caring people looking for genuine connection outside the walls of their home. It's a peek into your world and sharing a peek into mine with the hope to inspire, challenge, share, and encourage. IG has done so much good in my life that it far outweighs any bad.

Millennial mamas, I look forward to seeing you in my newsfeed. Better yet, in my DM inbox :)

 

 

 

Baby Bests (0-3 months)

Fresh babies and the cutest bumps have been dominating my newsfeed lately, and I'm absolutely smitten with all of them! I'm still in total shock that I have a one year old already. In order to help me process my first year, and maybe help out a few new mamas along the way, I've decided to round up my personal "bests" in all baby related items that are best suited for each stage of baby-hood (in my humble opinion as a first time mama). Feel free to add your own favourites in the comments!! Each mama has her own unique taste. 

 

Amie's Baby Bests for 0-3 months 

Today's post is all about that glorious 4th trimester when baby is finally earth-side aka. 0-3 months. Mama's if you're currently in this sweet but exhausting phase... or about to be, soak up every little moment, because those sweet little babes grow faster than you can ever imagine!

Please keep in mind that these products are all personal favourites of mine and happened to work well for Orson and I.  Every baby is different, and with trial and error you'll come to know what suits your mama + baby vibe.

This blog post contains affiliate or referral links which may reward me in the event of a subscription or sale. You will never be charged extra (in fact, you'll usually get an added discount). I only promote what I use and love. No junk here. Ain't nobody got time fo dat. Read my full disclosure here. 

theovercompanycarseatcoverstripe

The Over Company

Multi-Purpose Cover

The Over Company is the original Canadian multipurpose breathable cover, perfect for mamas and their babes. These beautiful covers are amazing for car seats, nursing privacy (or pumping) & grocery cart riding without worrying about cold and dirty seats. I was thankful to have mine for Orson during the early months to protect him from windy and dusty air when traveling. 

Bonus: this product evolves through each stage. We currently use ours as a grocery cart seat cover! 

Ergobabycarrierkitchenermarket

Ergo Baby

Infant Baby Carrier

The Ergo Baby was gifted to me at my baby shower and it has been a huge lifesaver through every stage. I would recommend waiting until the umbilical cord skin has fallen off your wee one before using this carrier, or else it could irritate the fresh skin. You can purchase an infant insert for the carrier that provides added support for those fresh babies. You basically roll up your baby in the insert to create a squishy baby burrito, and the insert provides them with instant head + neck support. Once baby is older and stronger, this will be your lifesaver and allow you to make and prep meals, go on long walks, or even go to the bathroom with a little extra peace and back support. We've all been there...peeing while trying to hold a little one. The struggle is real.

Bonus: this design works from infancy to 45lbs. 

SkipHopMobyInfantBathtub

Skip Hop Moby

Infant Bath Tub

As a newborn, Orson was one slippery little seal! I was always afraid to bathe him on my own because I thought he would just shoot right out of my hands and across the room like a bar of soap! I was thankful that we purchased this tub because the built in baby hammock gave me so much added support, I didn't have to worry about him slipping without Daddy there to lend an extra hand. Orson has always loved baths and this tub has certainly evolved with us. The hammock insert just pops out and baby can sit in the tub. It also has a plug at the bottom for drainage, and a hook at the back for drying + storage. The whale design is super cute, so I just let it sit out as part of our bathroom baby decor. We also use it to store all of his tub toys! 

Bonus: this tub is good until baby physically outgrows it. 

Wubba Nub Pacifier

Infant Pacifier

This soother was Orson's absolute favourite, and we still catch him reaching for it every once in a while. It is calming, just like any other soother, but the added bonus is the stuffed animal attached to the pacifier. The weighted beenie animals provide extra balance, are easier for baby to eventually pick up, and are a lot harder to lose compared to small ones that are constantly being lost or forgotten. For a period of time,  if we traveled anywhere and forgot Orson's foxy, we were in big trouble! It quickly became his favourite comfort item to use as a pacifier, but also just to snuggle and be with just like in the above photo. This one is best for use up to 6 months. Orson still enjoys it as a little comfort toy every once in a while. 

munchkinnurserysoundprojector

Munchkin Nursery Projector & Sound System

Baby Sound Machine

This was another item on our baby registry that was thankfully gifted to us. We love this sound machine for it's variety of features and easy to use programming. Orson's favourite sound is the rolling waves, and we program them to stay on for 60 minutes, and set it to automatically restart if he cries. Once the waves come on, he's calmed and the sound helps him fall asleep faster. Lots of baby sleep gurus will recommend a sound machine with custom programming like this one. It has a nightlight feature too so you're not stumbling around in the nursery in the dark. It's an added bonus for me since i'm still very much afraid of the dark. As soon as I hear the waves, I know it's bedtime for me too! 

Bonus: This can last you years and years! Custom sound, projector (cute little animal scenes), and program settings. Best quality and value that i've found so far!! 

bestcsectionbassinethalobassinest.jpg

Halo Bassinest

Infant Bassinet

I can't recommend this enough for c-section mamas. The Halo Bassinest was on my registry and we wanted it in order to safely begin our co-sleeping journey with Orson directly beside our bed.

This bassinet allows you to get as close as possible to your baby while still maintaining a safe barrier. There is a breathable mesh outer layer that won't wake baby up if stretching or startled, and is safely designed so baby can breathe through if it they happen to press up against the side. I was very paranoid about SIDS so I was constantly checking him throughout the night.

It also has a handy nursing timer and little built in flashlight for those middle of the night feedings. At this stage, Orson loved the built-in vibration setting in the bassinet, and his favourite sound mode was the heartbeat. I would pull the bassinet right up to my side of the bed, and its even designed to overlap safely on top of your bed. It's amazing.

Watch the demo video here.

It was a total life-saver for me in those first few months post c-section when my body was sore, recovering, and lifting Orson was extremely difficult. Total game-changer. This will last you up to month 4 or 5, depending on the size of your baby, or how soon they are able to sit up and move around. 

kekaroopeanutchangervanilla.JPG

Kekaroo Peanut Changer

Diaper Chang Pad

The Kekaroo Peanut Changer is easily the best (and most sanitary) change table on the market. I was so thankful to find this in my quest for the best and simplest baby products. I hate doing laundry, yet Matt and I are also picky when it comes to germs. This surface is a cool unique texture with the right amount of comfort for baby. It is beyond easy to wipe and keep clean. Bum changes are a breeze! I can't imagine getting poop all over those cloth pads and having to wash them. No mess or stink here. It is a pricer item, but so worth the investment. 

Bonus: This will last you well into toddler life until your wee one is potty trained. Also has a seat belt for the squirmier ones. Great for high or low change tables or even on the floor! 

Ubbidiaperpail

UBBI Diaper Pail

Stainless Steel Diaper Pail

While we're speaking of bum changes, the Ubbi Diaper Pail is fantastic. It's no fancy diaper genie or anything, but I like to keep my baby contraptions as simple as possible. This diaper pail comes with the option of specialized bags, but I love that it is compatible with any garbage bag. No specialty bags necessary. The stainless steel makes it easy to clean and keeps the stink inside. It has a baby proof lock and scent seal too. Let's keep the poop smell inside the can. 

Bonus: I like to use a drop or two of purification essential oil into the garbage bag or the bottom of the stainless steel can (stainless steel is compatible with essential oils). No fake air fresheners or chemicals needed here. Cleaning and sanitizing with plants is my jam. 

35745106166_7e42ef3ca8_z.jpg

Seedlings Baby Line

By Young Living

I cannot express how much I wish this product line was around during Orson's first three months of life. Infant skin is incredibly thin, delicate, and porous. Anything we put on baby's skin (and our own) gets into our system within seconds! That's why our babies deserve the very best! 

If you haven't noticed yet, I swear by Young Living Essential Oils and their oil-infused lifestyle products. This baby line is plant-based and free of those traditional baby products that are full of chemicals, preservatives, and harmful fragrances. Don't believe me? Check this out.  

This baby line is the real deal. No green-washing. Just plant powered goodness. 

Bonus: If you don't know where to start, I would highly recommend the baby wipes, baby wash + shampoo, and baby lotion. I can even help hook you up with my personal discounts and lifestyle support here.

 They even have products for older tots and kiddos including natural toothpaste, supplements, antioxidant juices and more! Babies + kids are the perfect motivation for cleaning up your lifestyle and ridding your home & body of harmful and un-necessary toxins.

I challenge you to use this app to scan some of your current baby and home products and see how what they rate on the toxin scale. 

IMG_5501.JPG

Little Unicorn Marindale 

Backpack Diaper Bag

Matt and I agreed that we wanted a gender neutral and convenient diaper bag backpack. We both agreed that the backpack style best suited our taste and new parenting needs. I love this bag it's easy to carry (for my short frame) and looks great on both of us. It has joined us on many parenting adventures. 

It can even convert into a crosss body bag if you're into that style. It comes with a ton of visible and hidden compartments perfect for those newborn and mama essentials. It's fairly easy to keep clean and spot wipe and holds a ton of stuff without looking tacky! Parenting win! 

 

That wraps up the 0-3 goods! Can't wait to share the 3-6 month faves with you in just a few weeks. 

Happy nesting! 

I have PCOS...Now What?!

PCOS (also known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a female hormonal imbalance that impacts 1 in 10 women of reproduction age. It also happens to be a re-occurring conversation in my life since I was personally diagnosed back in 2014. It seems like many friends of mine are hearing their physician hint at this because they are experiencing some of the associated symptoms or are having difficulty conceiving. Hopefully my journey can shed some light on this for anyone else who may share this imbalance. 

What is PCOS?

Let's keep this as simple as possible. We all have both male and female hormones in our bodies. Women with PCOS carry higher than normal levels of insulin and male sex hormones, typically resulting in irregular ovulation, conception, hunger, and weight gain

Common PCOS Symptoms

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Absence of periods
  • Irregular menstrual cycles / Difficulty Conceiving
  • Excess hair on the body (typically anywhere you don't want hair, or aren't supposed to have hair)
  • Small cysts on ovaries (which you obviously can't see, but you can certainly feel them if they rupture) 
  • Weight gain /Unexplained increase in appetite
  • Depression & Anxiety
  • Cystic Acne + Oily skin 


Diagnosis Process

Sounds pretty lovely, doesn't it?!  If you look over the symptoms and think this is definitely worth checking out with your doctor, then go do it immediately! My first warning sign that I should have noticed was when I was in high school. I had a cyst rupture one weekend. The pain was excruciating to the point where I threw up and then proceeded to faint. Warning signs are part of your medical history, and that's where the doctor will start in your diagnosis and will typically follow this path:

  • Personal medical history + family history (looking for genetic indicators, personal history of cysts and other irregularities)
  • Blood tests (looking for high amounts of insulin & male hormones, checking thyroid or other adrenal conditions, checking insulin/glucose) 
  • External + internal ultrasound (looking for cysts or abnormalities)
  • Weight and BMI analysis (looking for abnormal patterns) 

Yup, it's PCOS...now what!?

Management + Treatment tips 

  • Research, research, and more research (understand the effects on your body and the proper precautions to take, educate yourself on how this will impact your health, fertility) 
  • Get a second opinion/perspective (check out specialist or naturopath) 
  • Clean up your lifestyle (nutrition + lifestyle + toxins/chemicals) 
  • Remove the stressors (manage cortisol and other stress hormones) 
  • Fill your body with the best of the best in terms of food, supplements, natural products, and anything artificial that you eat or put on your body
  • Check your contraception (what method do you use? Is it PCOS friendly?!) 
  • Checks your meds (are your meds impacting your PCOS) 
  • Try natural therapies/management (herbal medicine, organic nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, Chinese medicine, aromatherapy...my personal fave, reflexology, and massage...another favourite of course)

Take Control 

  • Find accurate health information from trusted sources to assist your decision making
  • Treat the unpleasant physical symptoms of PCOS (ex. acne) - i'll be sharing my PCOS skincare routine next week. 
  • Discuss your mood and psychological wellbeing with your family + doctor
  • Optimize your lifestyle
  • Prioritize what is most important to you 

My diagnosis came when we were trying to plan a family. Do not let this discourage you! I am no healthcare professional, but I wanted to deal with this with minimal prescription medication. With family as our goal, I went off my hormonal birth control pills and finally conceived after one whole year. At one point during my pregnancy I had 3 cysts in my uterus along with the baby, but everything turned out fine. It is possible! You can read that story here

I'm happy to answer more personal or in-depth questions. I'm no professional or anything, I just know what worked for me and i'm happy to help shed more light on the entire process. Feel free to leave me a comment or email amiemariana@gmail.com 

Good luck on your journey. You are not alone! 

 

Summer Fun // Our Fave Baby + Tot Friendly Activities

Matt and I are self-proclaimed adventurers, taking every opportunity to explore new places both near and far from the comfort of our home. Last summer, I was a new mom, both over-tired and on the mend from delivering my son via emergency c-section. Even though I was stuck inside more than I would have liked, we made incredible memories as a family, and eventually headed outdoors once I was strong enough.

This list is a mixture of our favourites from last summer (with a newborn), and what we've tackled so far this year with our one year old explorer (in no particular order). 

Parks.

You're probably thinking "well duh" but I had to mention it because the park can easily be overlooked as boring or overdone, or we automatically think of playgrounds instead of larger parks with walking trials. Sometimes we just need to see the space in a new light.

Whether it's a neighbourhood playground, a city park or provincial park, parks are the place to be with little ones. Make the most out of them with picnics, walks, lawn games, and full out family playground time. Confession: last summer we were also avid Pokémon Go players. This was amazing on walks (and on car rides to and from the park if Orson was sleeping or attempting to sleep). 

 Summer 2016 Photo: We love trail walking with the fam jam. This is one of my parent's favourite places to walk @  Millrace Trail , St. Jacobs. 

Summer 2016 Photo: We love trail walking with the fam jam. This is one of my parent's favourite places to walk @ Millrace Trail, St. Jacobs. 

 Summer 2016 Photo: Beautiful views and awesome trails @  Huron Natural Area , Kitchener. 

Summer 2016 Photo: Beautiful views and awesome trails @ Huron Natural Area, Kitchener. 

 Summer 2016 Photo: Multi-tasking at it's finest. Family walk + Pokemon go all at once @  Riverside Park , Guelph.

Summer 2016 Photo: Multi-tasking at it's finest. Family walk + Pokemon go all at once @ Riverside Park, Guelph.

 Summer 2017 Photo: Orson in his favourite play tunnel @  Victoria Park , Kitchener.

Summer 2017 Photo: Orson in his favourite play tunnel @ Victoria Park, Kitchener.

Swimming.

I was a waterlogged child back in the day. I still love pool time tremendously! If we didn't have copious amounts of large old trees in our current backyard, I would likely insist that we put in a pool ASAP. Until then, pool time is a special treat for us.

My favourite summer pool is the Plunge Pool at Blue Mountain Resort that we get to enjoy during our annual Sider family summer vacation!

One of our favourite beaches is at Grand Bend. We also love their dog-friendly portion of the beach when we have Whiskey with us. Bonus parenting points if you successfully survive a beach day without your baby eating sand.

 Summer 2016 Photo: Plunge Pool @  Blue Mountain Resort .  You can't tell from this pic, but inside the yellow building is more pool and an amazing indoor splash pad and climbing area for tots. Did I mention it's also heated?! 

Summer 2016 Photo: Plunge Pool @ Blue Mountain Resort.  You can't tell from this pic, but inside the yellow building is more pool and an amazing indoor splash pad and climbing area for tots. Did I mention it's also heated?! 

 Summer 2015 Photo: Beach @  Grand Bend .

Summer 2015 Photo: Beach @ Grand Bend.

The Drive-In.

In our pre-baby days, we went to the movies all the time. During the Academy Awards season, we would always make a point of seeing all nominated films. The only reason I find myself in an actual movie theatre (since Orson's birth) is for Stars & Strollers Screenings at Cineplex (even then you don't fully enjoy the movie quite the same). Orson's first drive-in movie was last summer, the opening night of Finding Dory, and he wasn't even a month old yet! This summer we've been super busy so we haven't went as often as we hoped, but so far we've seen Wonder Woman & Baby Driver.

We are pretty fortunate to be within close distance to a number of Ontario Drive-Ins. Close enough that we usually browse what movies are playing and where, and then just drive out for the night to the best one. The following are personal faves: 

Guelph Mustang Drive-In (this is technically the closest to us so it makes the favourites list for that reason. It's also a really big screen). 

Hamilton Starlite Drive-In (this theatre has 3 screens which gives you 6 different movie options for the evening. Insert all the praise hand emojis). 

Grand Bend Starlite Drive-In (best vintage vibes at this theatre. They even boast a 25 cent refill on drinks & popcorn).

 Summer 2017 Photo: Hamilton Starlite Drive-In.

Summer 2017 Photo: Hamilton Starlite Drive-In.

 Summer 2017 Photo: Orson loving the drive-in vibes. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Orson loving the drive-in vibes. 

Local Hot Spots & Events.

We absolutely love our developing city. We live close enough to the downtown core that we can go anywhere within walking distance and find instant fun or delicious food. If you're from our neck of the woods, check out our favourites below. If not, research your city/town/area. You'll be surprised to find a variety of cheap or free family summer fun. 

 Summer 2016 Photo: Canada Day downtown Kitchener (view  from City Centre Condos). 

Summer 2016 Photo: Canada Day downtown Kitchener (view  from City Centre Condos). 

 Summer 2017 Photo: Our favourite vinyl store, X Disc C Kitchener. Matt browses for his albums while Orson and I hunt for the gems like Raffi & Fred Penner. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Our favourite vinyl store, X Disc C Kitchener. Matt browses for his albums while Orson and I hunt for the gems like Raffi & Fred Penner. 

 Summer 2016 Photo: Orson napping outside  Yeti Cafe , my personal favourite spot for summer drinks & food (they even have paleo options). 

Summer 2016 Photo: Orson napping outside Yeti Cafe, my personal favourite spot for summer drinks & food (they even have paleo options). 

 Summer 2016 Photo: Another summer favourite. Coffee for mom and Iced Tea for me  from Matter of Taste.  We like to drink our bevvies and chat up a storm while watching the fountain @ Kitchener City Hall. 

Summer 2016 Photo: Another summer favourite. Coffee for mom and Iced Tea for me from Matter of Taste. We like to drink our bevvies and chat up a storm while watching the fountain @ Kitchener City Hall. 

 Summer 2016 Photo: City Centre Balcony view of Summer Lights Festival, downtown Kitchener. 

Summer 2016 Photo: City Centre Balcony view of Summer Lights Festival, downtown Kitchener. 

 Summer 2016 Photo: Balcony view of Crusin' on King Vintage Car Show, downtown Kitchener.

Summer 2016 Photo: Balcony view of Crusin' on King Vintage Car Show, downtown Kitchener.

 Summer 2017 Photo: Kitchener Ribfest. Indulging our carnivorious sides. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Kitchener Ribfest. Indulging our carnivorious sides. 

 Summer 2017 Photo: Neighbourhood Porch Party! 

Summer 2017 Photo: Neighbourhood Porch Party! 

Anything with Animals :) 

Do I really need to explain this further!? This summer our home away from home is the African Lion Safari. It's a 30 minute drive to get there, but so well worth it. Orson loves the animal shows, train & boat rides, giant splash pad, and of course petting the animals. If you don't have anything like this where you live, look for a local zoo, or visitor friendly farm. Later this summer we are going to take Orson to the local donkey sanctuary. Animal ideas are endless! 

 Summer 2016 Photo:  African Lion Safari   

Summer 2016 Photo: African Lion Safari  

 Elephants @ African Lion Safari

Elephants @ African Lion Safari

 Donkeys @  Donkey Sanctuary  (taken from my last visit in 2015 just before Orson). We plan on visiting again before this summer is over.

Donkeys @ Donkey Sanctuary (taken from my last visit in 2015 just before Orson). We plan on visiting again before this summer is over.

 Summer 2017 Photo: Petting zoo @ African Lion Safari. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Petting zoo @ African Lion Safari. 

Day Trips (Close to Home) 

We love a good day trip. Thankfully, we live close to many cute and fun places both near and far.  We love venturing out to new towns, cities, and places. Of course we have our favourites too. Google what's near you or activities for babies and tots near you. You'll be surprised! 

 Summer 2017 Photo: This summer we ventured to Toronto a few times, and will certainly be back before the summer is over. There are endless day trip activities, and it's perfect for a short or long stay-cation too!

Summer 2017 Photo: This summer we ventured to Toronto a few times, and will certainly be back before the summer is over. There are endless day trip activities, and it's perfect for a short or long stay-cation too!

 Summer 2017 Photo: Total relaxation at the  Alt Hotel

Summer 2017 Photo: Total relaxation at the Alt Hotel

 Summer 2017 Photo: Canada 150 in Toronto 

Summer 2017 Photo: Canada 150 in Toronto 

 Summer 2017 Photo: Day trip reality with a toddler = living out of your trunk. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Day trip reality with a toddler = living out of your trunk. 

 Summer 2017 Photo: Making sweet memories at   Ripley's Aquarium Canada. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Making sweet memories at  Ripley's Aquarium Canada. 

 Summer 2017 Photo: Day trip shopping and exploring Elora, ON. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Day trip shopping and exploring Elora, ON. 

 It's hard taking photos of busy tots! 

It's hard taking photos of busy tots! 

 Cute little details in Elora. 

Cute little details in Elora. 

That' wraps it up for now! We are excited to add and discover more exciting activities for littles in the very near future. Until then, please feel free to add your local tips and favourites so we can try them out too! Not from our area?! That's okay. We may visit yours someday so we'd love to hear from you! 

Ditching Negativity

Ever feel like you just need to say, "bye Felicia" to all the negativity in the world?  

Side note/tangent: Even though that phrase is commonly used, I happen to know 3 Felicia's in real life (the name means happiness), and all three women radiate genuine joy & happiness. So no need to actually say bye to those kind of Felicias  

Back to negativity though...it's no fun. We've all read mean comments from people we know or trolls who dominate Facebook, YouTube, or even local online newspapers. All that hate, racism, biggitory, and downright meanness breeds negativity and steals a little bit of our sparkle every time we read it? Am I right!? 

There are also people in our lives who we can rely on for our daily dose of negativity, complaining, or judgement. Maybe it's a co-worker, a friend, a family member...or worst yet...maybe it's you...and the negativity is breeding in your mind! Ouch! 

I've dealt with my fair share of negative people and emotions. In fact, I went through a period of life where I let the negativity of those around me completely shape my sense of self and the world around me. It's honestly the worst thing ever! I'm constantly reminding myself to not let anyone steal my joy. Easier said than done, tttrrruuusssttt.  

I recently skimmed over an article that talked about how humans scientifically draw energy from each other, just like plants! Plants need energy from water, food, air, sunlight etc and so do we! There was a plant study in the article, where they confined select plants with other plants, and took away their normal energy sources to see what would happen, and the plants started to pull energy from each other in order to survive. This is just like us in social situations. Whether we like it or not, we feed off of the energies of those around us. Good or bad. We often don't think we have a choice. Do you ever leave a social situation (or particular person) feeling absolutely drained because you accidentally fed off or into their negativity? Yuck.  

Do they need your love and time? Yes, of course they do, and likely need it abundantly more than others. It's important that you don't just toss them aside or avoid them completely.  People are bitter and negative for a variety of reasons, but if they're not willing to let you in (or you don't see them changing this behaviour anytime soon) you'll need to protect yourself from future doses of that dreaded negativity.

Here's the thing though, you also need to give yourself permission to take a step back if you find that the negativity is rubbing off on you.  

Below are my personal tips that I've been applying to my life to combat negativity and ditch it in all of its forms. Is it completely unavoidable? Nope. Do I still have negative people in my life? Yep. Am I more prepared to deal with them while protecting myself!? Yes!  

Disclaimer: before I jump into the tips...this doesn't mean that you can never vent or talk about negative things. There is a time and a place to discuss negative life situations. We all need to decompress or get out a good venting session from time to time. Just make sure it's a consensual conversation. Added bonus if you assess the situation and seek positive solutions and restoration after the venting.

Now on to the tips! 

Tip #1. Pray / Meditate. 

Whether or not this is your jam, it totally works. I personally define prayer as talking (to God or the universe or whoever you choose to pray to). The key is the talking portion. Whether out loud or in your head, it's an expression of self. Get it out. Pray for the person, pray for the situation, or even pray for protection for yourself if applicable. I then definite meditation as silence. No talking. Just listening. This is a hard one for me. I'm a talker. Listening and silence are so healing and beneficial. Try it. I dare ya. 

Tip #2. Grounding  

Nature is the best. Nature heals. I truly believe that when God created the world (just my personal belief), he created it with everything we need. I swear by natural medicine in all forms  

Spending time in nature is incredible for those battling depression. Ever notice that rehab facilities are always in nature!? It really does heal!!!

That's why my newest thing to combat negativity is grounding. I'm doing it daily. I think I'll devote another blog post to it and go more in depth with the why and how. It's basically heading outside first thing in the morning, stepping on wet grass, and just walking around barefoot just feeling the blades of grass and soil underneath your feet and between your toes. It's carving out a tiny moment from your morning to soak in your environment and smell the earth (and my dog runs around the yard and does his business too). Try it, you'll love it. Tons of natural physical & mental health benefits. For free!!! Just don't do it if you have one of those pesticide lawns etc. Find the most natural and unadulterated earth space possible. 

Tip #3. Angelia Essential Oil 

Here in Canada, Angelica is recognized as a Natural Health Product. This means that if it is used as directed, it can be a good way to maintain or improve your health. 

I love Angelica because it is a soothing and protecting oil. It helps to create a relaxing environment when diffused (in an essential oil diffuser) or inhaled ( meaning smelled from inside the bottle).  It's also called "oil of angels," because of its calming aroma. Great for kiddos too. 

Angelica essential oil has been known to do the following:  

  • can act as a nervine and calmative which enhances relaxation.
  • to help relieve joint or muscle pain associated with sprains, strains & rheumatoid arthritis.
  • to help relieve headache.
  • when experiencing digestive discomfort can act as a carminative and antispasmodic.
  • to reduce the symptoms of cold & cough.

Bonus: Angelica oil is a great oil to help live up that mantra of "not my circus, not my monkeys," to help boot that negativity once and for all. If you're about to walk into a potentially negative  environment, put a little of this on your wrists or behind your neck and ears.

Tip #4. Make a Declaration

The words we speak over ourselves hold so much power. I've started to do these next two tips every morning before getting out of bed. For this tip, I speak declarations and words of truth over my life. I remind myself that I am blessed, I am loved, and I have value. 

You can even go as far to write them out if you need an extra prompt. When it comes to negativity, we have to learn what to do with it. I'm constantly declaring things like the following: 

"I declare and I decide that any negativity brought to me today will be transformed and used to help me grow stronger, wiser, and better."

Tip #5. Visualization 

This one is difficult for those who aren't naturally dreamers or creatives, but walk through your day in your mind before it happens. I like to visualize myself succeeding in my goal areas for the day. If it's eating healthy, I picture my meal prep and planning, taking my supplements and using my oils. If my brain sees it, I likely do it. On days when i'm too lazy or busy to visualize, my goals honestly slip. I'll reach for a cookie or a Diet Coke instead of apples & almond butter and my Slique tea. What does this have to do with negativity? If we aren't accomplishing things or adhering to our goals, it's easy for us to feel bad about ourselves and negative about the world around us. 

Extra Tip: If you are tired and grouchy, maybe skip visualizing your goals specifically for the day. You don't want your goals to get mixed up with negative emotions or your brain will confuse the two and you'll resent your goals. 

BUT, if you wake up feeling negative and grumpy, visualize what your day COULD look like without that negativity in your life. You have the power to turn your day around! 

I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become - as a woman thinks, so she is.
— Oprah Winfrey

Groceries Made Easy

I absolutely love grocery shopping...when I have the time. My favourite place to stock up on yummy goodies is at our local farmers market (and thankfully it's only a few steps away from our front door). In the spring & summer when we have a free Saturday morning, family breakfast + grocery shopping is one of our favourite activities. Otherwise, I can never get my husband to grocery shop with me because he hates it with a passion! 

 

Since having our son a year ago, groceries have quickly become a bit more challenging and a lot more rushed. I was recently introduced to a service that has been saving my life and precious precious time!! I shared it on my IG story a month or so ago and got tons of questions and promised I would share more with everyone. I always say that I wish I knew about it sooner (ex. those first few months of postpartum & c-section recovery). If you're a new mama or you know a new mama-to-be (or simply just don't have enough time in life) then this post could possibly save your grocery shopping sanity too! 

So what's the deal?

Click & Collect is a Canadian service (sorry to my American mamas) that is operated through the Zehrs/Loblaws grocery chain. It is an online order & in-person pick up system for all your family or personal groceries. You can search and click through their list of grocery and household items and simply select what you want in your virtual cart. When you are finished you can select the store that offers the service closest to your home. When you pay online at checkout, you reserve your order on a credit card, but when you go to pick it up at the store, you can pay cash, debit, or just leave it on your CC. You also have the option to link your PC Plus rewards to your purchase, making it faster and easier to get free groceries. Trust me, this adds up quick! I have already received at least $100.00 back in groceries since I joined. Just to review...

1. Shop Online & Reserve Order - get credit card ready for this. 

2. Select Store and Pick Up time - drive to your pick-up store during your selected time slot. It's $3 for slower times of the day and $5 for busy/prime times of the day. Personally, I always do the $3 time slot. 

3. Park in Pick Up Area - this is very well marked, it's a big red parking space. Then you call the phone number that's on your parking space sign, and soon a store employee will come out with your groceries and neatly pack them into your trunk. It's amazing!! They usually give me a free drink every time ANNNDD  at Easter time they gave me Cadbury Mini Eggs. I'm like BFF's with my grocery guy. 

4. Go Home & Be Thankful - that you didn't have to do that alone. My strategy in unloading is to wait until nap time, or I carry in all the fridge & freezer items, and then Matt carries in the rest once he's home from work. Team work makes the dream work! 

If this interests you, leave a comment below with your email - or direct message me on social media with your email. I have a personal coupon that gets you $10 off your first order (I have to  directly enter your email from my account for it to work or else i'd just post the code below)!! Once you sign up, you can share your own code with friends too and every time someone signs up, you both get $10. Woo hoo! 

Happy grocery day!! 

 

What happened to NationWares?!

I want to start this post with a public apology for leaving you all with so many unanswered questions for far too long. For those who missed the notice, back in the spring of 2016, the official online shop hosted at NationWares.com was closed/discontinued.

NationWares was built on the foundation of hope, love, & opportunity as it quickly became a leader in its time, helping to make a name for fair trade fashion & accessories in Canada and beyond. The designs, artisan handwork, and cultural detailing woven throughout all of NationWares products, connected ethical consumers to unique handmade pieces with a story of hope & opportunity. NationWares successfully connected artisans & small business owners in developing nations with North American consumers. I am still immensely proud to have fostered those relationships over time and walked alongside my artisan friends and partners while giving their business the boost it needed to grow and expand within their local community and context. 

It is an absolute honour to have shared in such an incredible movement to support fair trade, artisan made, and ethically sourced fashion pieces. NationWares could not have accomplished any of its projects and commitments to sustainability & social justice without your support. The decision to close the online shop & discontinue events did not come about lightly. This industry is a very competitive space that comes with many challenges that can often seem insurmountable. Unfortunately, the costs, competition, and complications continued to increase with time as the market became saturated with similar ventures that made it difficult for us to ethically & sustainably create products that were "affordable" for our consumer market. In order to do business that met our code of ethics, we needed to carry price tags that were so high that they would be out of reach for the average young consumer that we catered to (myself included). 

In the end, it was essential to keep values & integrity in check, instead of sacrificing and succumbing to rising marketing costs, business costs, and other ongoing back end expenses that just weren't adding up to make the market sustainable enough here in Canada. Because of your support, many artisans (supported by NationWares in the past) have built foundations firm enough to continue their businesses and achieve success in their local markets. Hooray! That was always the intent.

The heart and soul of NationWares is also still alive in its founder...me! I will continue  to advocate for social justice & ethical work to bring people out of poverty at the local + global level. My passion and motivation in life, will always be Guatemala. My initiatives and plans for the future with Guatemala are not over!! Trust me, Matt and I are entering into a new season of hustle to make our plans and dreams in Guatemala a reality and I can't wait to share more as our future unfolds. 

There are some NationWares items still available for purchase and you can have access to them at incredible prices in Durham Ontario at Eckhardts Floral Treasures Flower & Gift Shop. I may even open up a temporary shop through this blog and sell off a few items. I'll be sure to share if I do. 

This is not a sad goodbye or farewell, this is an exciting fusion of "until we meet again" and "stay tuned". Although the NW site and FB page are no longer active, please feel free to keep in touch and send questions, comments etc by direct messaging amiemariana@gmail.com or on any of my personal social media. Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts for your faithful support to NationWares and for sharing the heart behind our products and continuing to support fair trade & international development.

xoxo, 

Amie (& Matt) 

Bye Bye Boo Boo!

With the blink of an eye, my ooey gooey newborn somehow became a 9 month old pre-tot! If you have ever witnessed this phase or experienced it first hand, then you know that it comes with lots of experimentation, crawling, pulling up, and of course bumps and bruises. Orson is an explorer like his mama, and sometimes his tumbles and bumps happen before I can prevent them.

I feel terrible when he gets a big bump, scratch, or bruise on his face. Naturally, I want it to stop hurting and be gone as soon as possible. I know I can't fully prevent his boo boos, but at least I can take them away as quick as possible with some help from mama's magical kisses + my homemade boo boo ointment. My tried and true recipe is below. It works amazing. If you make this yourself at home with proper high-quality ingredients, you'll see a dramatic difference overnight!! 

Bye Bye Boo Boo Ointment Recipe

1-2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil  (frank is cleansing, soothing, regenerative)

1-2 drops Lavender Essential Oil (lavender is calming, protecting, renewing)

1-2 drops Copaiba Essential Oil (copaiba is calming, soothing, and enhancing)

30-60 drops Young Living V-6 Oil Complex OR substitute with 30-60 drops Fractionated Coconut Oil OR 1 tbsp Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. 

Storage: Always store essential oils or essential oil-based products in a glass or stainless steel.

Notes: Never put essential oils on babies without a carrier oil like coconut oil in order to dilute the strength of the oils. It is also best practice to use the ratios I listed unless you're making a bulk supply. All essential oils I listed are baby-safe for ages 0-1 as long as you dilute 1 drop with 8-10 drops of a carrier oil when applying to the body topically. For ages 2-6 you can use 1 drop essential oil to 2-4 drops of carrier oil. If you have children ages 7-11 you can use 1 drop essential oil to 1 drop carrier oil. For ages 12 and up to adulthood, the oils I listed are safe to use "neat" meaning directly on the body without carriers. If you're an oil newbie, I still recommend a 1:1 ratio. 

All essential oils in this recipe (and any recipes I will share in the future) are Young Living Essential Oils that are recognized as a natural health product here in Canada, which means they can relieve symptoms associated with common ailments, as well as restore, maintain, and support good health when used properly. To get the exact oils in the recipe, click here. 

With that said, I simply cannot recommend topical (body) application of any other essential oils on the market due to safety concerns. Unfortunately, not all essential oils are sourced/created equally. Young Living has the best oils from tiny plant seed to bottle seal. Check out my before and after photo below to see the boo boo difference in under 24 hours. The bruise is almost non-existent after one good sleep and a morning of play! 

Let me know if you try this for yourself! Good luck and I hope you don't have to kiss too many boo boos. 

 

 

 

 

#30lists

For the month of March I've decided to indulge my creative side and participate in a listing/listography challenge. I've always been a lister... even before it was cool to list stuff!! I'm definitely not a type-A personality in the organization realm, but there's something therapeutic to me about CREATING anything - so that's why I love lists! Words + art + self expression...sign me up! 

I also must add that I am a weirdo in the sense that I get overly protective of anything I create, because my paper crafts or lists are super personal to me. I'm going to get over myself for this month and simply share and hopefully you'll be inspired to do the same. This challenge was meant to be done daily, but I don't always find time to keep up with a daily list. #aintnobodygottimefodat So I usually jot something down on my phone and later transfer it to paper. I also happen to despise my printing. Even my husband has nicer printing than me. Thankfully I'm also getting over that too. Po-body's nerfect. 

I will slowly share the cards for each day and elaborate on each list. You'll catch my drift. I haven't taken photos of each day yet (my camera roll is full) so I'll need a day or so to get caught up. Enjoy! 

I really like you!

I recently received a one sentence text from a friend that completely lifted my spirit in the middle of a "blah" week. It simply read, "I really like you!" I initially chuckled to myself thinking that I received the text by accident, and that it was actually intended for her husband. I thought this because Matt and I usually send funny little affirmations to each other to get us through the day, so I text back with an awkward "lol" and asked her who she was flirting with. 

To my surprise, she explained that she had been reading through some of my old blogs entries, and told me that she appreciates my friendship and what I have to say *insert warm and fuzzy feeling here*. I told Matt about the text exchange later that night, and we both reveled at how rare it is these days to receive such gratitude and genuine affirmations from friends or acquaintances these days. 

In the same week, my incredible 13 year old nephew was explaining his immense like for something we were showing him and said," wow this is amazing, it would get hundreds of likes on instagram!" and since his generation is the pinnacle of our online and social media oriented lives, it reminded me that we don't often say what we need to say in person or even over text. It's simply easier just to pop someone a thumbs up, or double tap and scroll on. I really appreciated that moment of genuine expression and connection from my friend, because it opened the door for me to reciprocate, and tell her exactly how I felt about her as well.  

Enter momlife...lately I've noticed that things can get pretty isolated quite quickly (if you let it) as a mom. Especially someone like myself who struggles with anxiety in social situations, but used to be a former extrovert who now lives with extroverted tendencies - but must have introverted re-charge time...and lots of it. Sounds kinda weird? Feels even weird-er. Social media can quickly feel like it is your only portal to the outside world. There are lots of mama's I know that could use an extra gesture of appreciation or a word or two (or three) of affirmation. 

Regardless of where you sit on the parenting spectrum, reach out to someone this week...anyone (bonus points if it's a mom) and simply love on them and affirm them just to be nice. Strengthen that bond and give someone that nod that you notice them, care for them, and love that they exist in your life. I promise you'll both feel better when you do. 

Condo Life

The Backstory

Almost 6 years ago on our second date Matt and I met for desserts & drinks at the Bauer Kitchener in Uptown Waterloo. After eating we decided to go for a walk and we ended up Downtown Kitchener at Victoria Park. We stopped halfway somewhere to get some Arizona Iced Teas. As we were drinking and chatting up a storm we walked by Kaufman Lofts. We both stopped and looked up at the building and virtually shouted out at the same time that we wanted to live there. We joked that maybe one day we would both live there...separately. Who knew only a year later we would be married and living in our first little dream home together! 

Kaufman Lofts

 

Kaufman was always a hub to us, a place where we wanted to live and explore our local city, culture, food, entertainment and everything else it had to offer us. We are both very family oriented so even though we are drawn to urban areas and would likely thrive in a much larger city far away, we decided to establish our roots close to our families + core circle of friends. We often get asked what condo life is really like so we wanted to put together a little list of our favourite "perks" from 5 years of condo life. We also have some photos of our unit below for friends and family who simply live too far to check it out in person. Enjoy! 

The Perks

Someone else does the work! If anything needs to get done (shovelling, lightbulb changes, window cleanings etc) condo fees absorb that care. We are not huge "green thumb" people quite yet so it's been nice to not have to worry about backyard cleanup, gardening, and other responsibilities.

 Above Photo: Snapshot of our living room. A small and cozy space that perfectly reflects our eclectic style. The photos were taken on an overcast day so there's much more flash and artificial light than usual but my favourite was our place at night. You really have to see it in person.

Above Photo: Snapshot of our living room. A small and cozy space that perfectly reflects our eclectic style. The photos were taken on an overcast day so there's much more flash and artificial light than usual but my favourite was our place at night. You really have to see it in person.

Lifestyle: We were fortunate to get along really well with our neighbours and were at similar life places and spaces with most of them. Many were also drawn to our city culture. If we were out testing a new local eatery or using the local climbing gym we almost always encountered a neighbour or familiar face.

 Above photo: Our den area. This is what you see down the hallway when you come into our front door. Lots of books, a vintage chair for reading, bike storage, and a desk to get some "take home" work done. We utilized our storage space by turning our snowboards for example into decor. Matt's is tucked in the corner. 

Above photo: Our den area. This is what you see down the hallway when you come into our front door. Lots of books, a vintage chair for reading, bike storage, and a desk to get some "take home" work done. We utilized our storage space by turning our snowboards for example into decor. Matt's is tucked in the corner. 

 

Friendly Neighbours: We were blessed with awesome neighbours in both buildings. Everywhere we went people seemed to be looking to make friends or engage in random chats while coming and going. Our building culture was super pet-friendly too. Almost all of our best friends in the building had pets in place of children so we fit right in! Lots of puppy playdates outside, sharing tips on all the best local dog parks, some of our friends were even hardcore enough to recommend the best doggy daycares in case we ever needed it. 

Kaufman 224

Quick Commute: When we first moved in I worked in the Sportsworld area of Kitchener and Matt worked in the Beechwood area of Waterloo. My commute was just up the highway and I could do most days with decent traffic in 12 minutes (yes my speed was likely a factor as well but I didn't get any tickets). Matt's commute didn't really have a great highway route but only took him about 10 minutes. The best commute for me was a few years later when I worked across the street. 3 minutes from my front door to my work door. Awesome! 

Restaurants & Coffee Shops: Only steps away from our front door were a variety of great places so if we were too lazy to make food we always had back-up. Our favourite close spots include The Guanaquita (fresh El Salvadorian food), 271 West (fresh handmade pastas), Matter of Taste Coffee Bar, and Cafe Pyrus (fresh, local, and organic food & drinks). Thankfully our new home will still be quite close to all of them...just a slightly longer walk (or bike ride). 

Security: I always felt so incredibly safe when home alone. You know you're safe when you can watch Criminal Minds at night when your husband works late/closes. If I had to take the dog out at night all areas were well lit too. Matt is rarely away overnight for work but even those times too I knew our building security was awesome and we had solid reliable neighbours too in the event of an emergency.

 Above Photo: Our bedroom. Sliding closet door leads to a nice walk-in. Super spacious. We fit our whole lives in the closet pretty much!! The best part about small spaces is that it forces you to live clean and clutter free. No hoarding allowed! My snowboard also makes an appearance here.

Above Photo: Our bedroom. Sliding closet door leads to a nice walk-in. Super spacious. We fit our whole lives in the closet pretty much!! The best part about small spaces is that it forces you to live clean and clutter free. No hoarding allowed! My snowboard also makes an appearance here.

 

Amenities: Since our building is a refurbished shoe factory the amenities are nothing over the top like they are in most new condos these days. We had a cool meeting room and party room. We never actually booked either during our time there but our favourite feature was definitely the rooftop patio! 

Kaufman Rooftop Patio

Relationship Builder: Living in a smaller space can make or break a relationship. When you have high ceilings but "open concept" sliding doors that don't reach your ceilings there really is no escaping each other. It was both physically and emotionally impossible for us to go to bed fighting and we really grew together as couple in so many fun ways. 

Minimalist Mindset: Another hidden perk is not being able to stash junk and accumulate "stuff". There wasn't much extra room for random items so 5 years of condo life has taught us great habits as we move into our next full size house. Clutter is no fun for anyone and really doesn't serve a purpose. I would like our lifestyle to continue on the path to minimalism as much as possible. 

Rental Opportunity: Downtown real estate is worth hanging onto these days so we are so happy to be able to keep Kaufman as a rental unit with some other investor partners! We have our first tenant on a 1 year lease but if you're interested after that feel free to contact me anytime! amiemariana@gmail.com

Kaufman Lofts Unit 224

Breaking the Cycle

It's the day before Valentine's Day and admittedly this post is half epiphany and half necessity. I was lying in bed this morning and suddenly realized that I left one action item incomplete from my weekly "to do" list and that was the one that said "GET CARD FOR MATT". Since our condo is in disarray as we prepare to move into our first real adult family home/house, the printer is currently out of ink, I can't find my stash of homemade craft supplies, and I am much too large and uncomfortable to go Hallmark card shopping so my only feasible solution is to write an online declaration of love to my spouse. 

I've always enjoyed documenting life whether I do it through photos, journals, daily planners/agendas and anything else in between. I thought I would be a superwoman documenter for this first pregnancy but instead i've been slacking something fierce (confession, I think i've taken like two baby bump shots due to pure sloth and a full camera memory card). During some of my latest and greatest deep soul searching chats with my momma we've went over some pretty incredible things about life in general, about my personal life journey, and how I've finally somehow reached this incredible new stage of life. I don't want to forget that, and I certainly don't want Matt to forget the incredible role he's played so i'm considering this more of a public diary entry than a lacklustre electronic Valentines Day card. 

Since i've been married i've had this strange nightly phenomenon occur where I go to sleep normally, maybe fall into a dream or maybe not, and then suddenly I wake up in the middle of the night or early morning when there's just enough light that I'm still able to 100% forget where I am. This is not a pregnancy thing, is a daily (okay maybe monthly) thing. Not only do I forget where I am, but I forget who I'm with. Sound creepy? It kind of is. My mind typically gravitates to being single (this is not a subconscious desire) and i'm pretty sure it actually stems from a secret inner fear of being alone. I essentially wake up, forget where I am, and wonder if i'm alone wherever I may be. I quickly turn to my left and I see Matt (lately he's all smushed up against the wall because my pregnant body, human sized pregnancy pillow, and our little four-legged child take up most of our marital bed real estate). Sometimes i'm startled thinking "who is this other human?" but mostly a huge smile comes across my face and I fall in love all over again looking at the man that sleeps safe and sound beside me. In those silly moments of forgetfulness and pure absentmindedness, my sleepy brain reminds me that the man beside me is not just a sleeping partner, but he's also the incredible reminder that I am not alone, I have indeed married my best friend, and the person who "gets me", completes me, challenges and uplifts me more than any other human being... is in fact permanent. We are bound for life and he sleeps beside me not just because he has to but because he has chosen to do so forever. 

Looking back at my "life mate selection process" during my early adult years I knew finding someone to share myself with totally and completely would be quite a doozy! My parents are my everything and i'm a daddy's girl to the core who was fortunate enough to have a father set the bar so freaking high for other men that it was seemingly impossible to find a man that loved, cherished, and inspired me even remotely as much as my own father. When Matt initially admired me from afar (aka. stalked me on Facebook) my friend Deanne alerted him prior to our first date (a blind date on my side only) that Amie was a strong woman but shares an unshakable bond with her father...oh and by the way she also considers her dad her best friend. That didn't stop Matt, he was up for the challenge. To make a long story short, Matt obviously won me over, became best friends with my parents, a significant new member of our close-knit family, and quickly became the final and necessary piece to have in place to help me break the cycle of poverty for good. 

What does breaking the cycle mean? Ever since I arrived in Canada and met my adoptive Sider family, most would assume that the sad story of poverty should end there. Rightfully so, it does to an extent. I never thought about it until I became pregnant but this baby that I carry inside of me - this little boy (oh yes, it's a boy by the way) is the final step now in place to officially break the cycle of poverty within the Del Cid family (my birth family). I was the 12th child born to a mother of 18 children...with or without Matt the cycle would certainly have broken with me (the only child to fully escape poverty among all 18), but together Matt and I were not only able to break the cycle, but in turn create an entirely new path for me, for us, for our son, and our new little Eckhardt-Sider family. I look at Matt and can't wait to bring this baby boy into the world. It's an incredible feeling to look at your spouse and know that you have absolutely no doubts about how they will raise your child, how they will model their life, teach him, nurture him, know him, and love him.

My life dream and goal since I was a child was to combat poverty and I thank God everyday for sending me a warrior like Matt to join forces with me and together combat the poverty of loneliness, the poverty of inequality, the poverty of being unloved, and to finally work together to shatter that initial cycle of poverty that I entered the world in...the cycle of poverty that ends with me...that ends with us...that ends with our son. And for that I am eternally grateful. xoxo

 

  

 

 

 

Our Baby Story (to be continued...)

I wrote this post mainly for family members and those who have expressed a desire to follow our pregnancy and baby story as each new chapter unfolds. It's certainly been nothing short of an adventure thus far. We've experienced many unforeseen trials and tribulations but they have only affirmed that this baby growing inside me is one special little miracle. I also hope this can be a source of encouragement to those who are trying to conceive, or battling PCOS. 

Fall 2014: A few days prior to our Thanksgiving celebrations, our family physician diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) - a hormonal disorder that affects 5-10% of women of child bearing age. Looking back to my teen years, I experienced an ovarian cyst rupture around age of 16. I woke up feeling excruciating pain one morning and couldn't stop vomiting, shaking, or feeling faint. I came down the stairs and my usual tan face was white and green. My dad was home with me and asked what was wrong. I simply cried out, "my ovaries" and then proceeded to faint right in front of him. That was my first ovarian cyst rupturing entirely on it's own. A super painful day that I almost forgot about until my doctor sat me down while reviewing my medical history. She explained that young women with a history of cysts are more prone to developing PCOS, but there are also genetic and other factors that come into play.

In order to confirm her diagnosis I underwent a series of blood tests, ultra-sounds, and thyroid examinations. Upon confirmation, she discussed what this would look like during my future child bearing years. Given my history, she said it would be highly unlikely that we would ever be able to conceive naturally. At this time she confirmed that my body was not releasing any eggs at all and hadn't been for over approximately 6 months or more. After all the tears she chatted with me about exploring In Vitro Fertilization with Matt while ensuring that we understood that children would definitely have to be a "planning process" for us. She also wanted me to set a personal goal before that time to experiment with various treatments to try and balance my hormones before we could move onto plan b. I was also dually diagnosed with anxiety and depression which she assured me was commonly linked within women with PCOS. I was hooked up with hormones and anti-depressants from that point onward. That equation created one of the roughest fall and winter seasons of my entire life. Poor Matt was a champion through it all while probably secretly wondering where the Amie he married went. That time definitely put our "for better or worse" to the test. I'm so thankful and blessed to have married a man that was able to pass that test with flying colours. 

Spring 2015: I decided enough was enough with all the hormone treatments both natural and prescribed. Matt and I agreed that we both wanted a stress free summer so I went off the special birth control that was supposed to be balancing my hormones (against my doctors advice) and decided that if I was really and truly unable to conceive then it really shouldn't matter anyway. I also headed off to Guatemala and returned to Canada with parasites! I'm mentioning this simply because at the time I thought this was the most disgusting thing, but after conceiving I found a few articles online stating that sometimes contracting parasites can actually contribute to promoting contraception and implantation as the parasites force your body to change in order to combat them. By the end of the summer I was positive they were gone. 

positive pregnancy test

September 2015: The surprise of a lifetime! I'm pregnant! I actually had to text a photo of the positive pregnancy test (shown above) to one of my friends just to be sure. I was in absolute shock, especially since the idea to even take a pregnancy test came to me after chatting with that same friend earlier in the day after she told me she was pregnant and my mind kept thinking, "wow, i feel all of those things too, maybe I should take a test" and sure enough...positive! I naively assumed all was good in the world  because I had actually conceived naturally. A few weeks later I experienced very painful cramping, comparable to the time my cyst ruptured as a teen. Matt rushed me to emerg and after emergency blood work and ultrasounds, the ER doctor took us into a private room to tell us that there was nothing inside the sac where the baby should be. She said this was likely a strong sign of an upcoming miscarriage that hadn't occurred yet but tried to re-assure me that It was still very early so the best decision would be to book a D&C procedure to essentially vacuum out my womb to clear it of the baby and anything else with the intent to start over again trying to conceive. Naturally this made me very stressed so we went home feeling very defeated. We spent the evening with both sets of parents chatting, praying, crying, and hoping that this news could somehow change.

We got the news on a Wednesday from the ER doctor so she told me to come in again on Friday prepared to have the D&C surgery. Since it was too soon to do another ultrasound, all they could rely on was my blood work cell count doubling which would tell them that if there was something inside alive and growing, and if it was good news then the blood work would show that it had doubled within a few short days. After waiting for what seemed like forever, the doctor called us into his office and explained that the blood had indeed doubled and after reviewing more of my history, the cramping and pain was likely caused by late implantation which didn't align with my period and ovulation timing due to the PCOS, but assured me that the baby just needed more time to show up on the ultrasound. A few weeks later I returned for an ultrasound and cried anxiously almost the entire time, in the end the ultrasound tech was delighted to finally show me our little lobster looking baby on the screen. 

November 2015: Shortly after all of our good news and celebrations I ended up contracting a really bad case of bronchitis with early onset pneumonia further complicated by asthma. My current job has me coming into contact with individuals who are HIV positive, Hep C positive and so much more on a daily basis. I essentially work in a breeding ground for gems. Most of my coworkers during this season are constantly battling illness. Trust me, I wouldn't change it for the world, but my doctor and midwives have encouraged me to proceed with caution since I have a particularly weak immune system to begin with. The only downside is they will be running me through additional blood work throughout my pregnancy to ensure all is well and safe. After trying to slug through my illness I came to the point where I realized I needed to see a doctor again because the bronchitis lingered in my system for over a month. Once she said I had early onset pneumonia I knew I had to take it seriously so I was immediately treated with a round of antibiotics which didn't take, and then a second.

Somewhere in between the failed attempts I even fractured two ribs from my excessive coughing. Finally, as I write this after 3 weeks off work i'm finally starting to feel like myself again. I also forgot to mention earlier that I have 3 active cysts right now while pregnant. Initially this scared me but it's just a reality with PCOS. 2 are on my ovaries (one of the right, one of the left) and one is situated near the egg implantation site. My midwife told me that pregnancy hormones usually work overtime to weaken any active cysts so they should hopefully dissolve all on their own but further ultrasounds will let me know where they stand throughout the rest of the pregnancy. Whether this little one is a boy or a girl, it is certainly one tough cookie!! In fact, our most recent ultrasounds and sonograms show that it is one active baby! The ultrasound tech called it a little jumping bean because it didn't want to sit still for pictures because it was too busy doing flips. Baby also enjoys "swimming away" from the sonogram, but can be tracked down long enough to determine that it has a healthy heartbeat and is right on track for a late May delivery! 

Baby Eckhardt-Sider

We are almost at the halfway point now, and will know gender in a few short weeks. We are hopeful that this pregnancy will continue in a healthy way with minimal surprises. Just the other day we felt the first "quickening" movements. I can't stress just how blessed we are. I am also thankful for the network of people we have around us cheering on this little miracle.

Any PCOS mommas out there, I would love your advice and tips moving into this next phase. Anyone else who wants more info please feel free to reach out to me. I know not all stories like this end positively, but there is always hope. I forgot to mention that our original plan if we had not conceived would not have been to proceed with IVF, but adoption. We still may do this one day. Keep in mind, that no matter how a baby gets to you, that process is a miracle. 

There are only two ways to live your life. 

One is as though nothing is a miracle. 

The other is as though everything is a miracle. 

Albert Einstein