You’ve got mail

You’ve got mail

you've got mail early-onset dementia

I was feeling sad tonight and decided to introduce my oldest to a cult classic of the 90’s.  I figured a feel-good romantic comedy would be just the thing to cheer me up whilst participating in the cultural education of my daughter. 

What a trip down the rabbit hole that was!

Remember the infinite star scroll screensaver of Windows 3 point something?  The screeching of the modem while you not-so-patiently waited to be connected to the Internet.  AOL and Yahoo chat rooms to meet with like-minded folk who may or may not be serial killers or your next-door neighbor.

The feeling of comfortable nostalgia set in – and then the empty store scene came up, the one where the mother and daughter are twirling.

That’s when I lost it.

I bawled like a child who’s been denied a piece of candy.  Full-body ugly cried while trying to tell her that really I was OK even if I’m not, really.

You see, my mother has early-onset dementia.

The feeling of comfortable nostalgia set in - and then I lost it #earlyonsetdementia Click To Tweet

I’ve been watching her slowly slip away for the past few years and the doctors are just now confirming what I have suspected from the sidelines is actually happening.  I hoped and prayed I was wrong.  That it was all in my head.  That I was making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Except she’s changed so much.

For the first time in a long time I feel like there’s really no one I can talk to that understands.  My circle of friends isn’t exactly riddled with people who could understand the struggle of raising three spirited girls, trying to juggle all the balls and failing miserably… and when you need your momma the most you can’t turn to her because even if she’s still here – she’s not, really.

Not the parts that matter to me, anyways.

The parts that would wrap me up in her arms, rub my back and tell me everything will turn out just fine.  The parts that would say it’s silly to get all worked up over three fucking little words – You’ve Got Mail.  That it doesn’t matter how many people I’ve hurt or pissed off in the past year, that we all make mistakes, that we all go through shit and this too shall pass.

Because even if I can go down the stairs and climb up in her bed beside her, the woman that lies there tonight is my Mom.

And tonight?  Tonight, I need my momma.

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Traveling to Key West – An Insider’s Look & Pro Travel Tips

Traveling to Key West – An Insider’s Look & Pro Travel Tips

Welcome to Key West

Ann & I were in Florida for TBEX and decided to knock an item off our bucket list while we were there.

Driving down hwy 1, crossing the 7 mile bridge, was like falling down a rabbit hole and finding a mysterious and wonderful secret world. Time… doesn’t * exist * on the island.  It appears that it slows to a halt right after that bridge, making the lower keys the ideal place for a truly relaxing getaway.

The only time that seems to exist is the scheduled departure for your sunset cruise.  Just saying.  But don’t worry, it comes back around tomorrow night.  Meanwhile, head to the boardwalk and take in the sights.  Every night is a celebration and the sunsets are spectacular regardless where you’re standing.

The first thing you’ll want to do as you step out of the car is turn your face to the sun… soak up some therapeutic rays, breath in the smell of the salt in the air, and listen to the waves crashing against the shore.

That’s the island’s song and it may just seduce you.

It certainly worked on me.  So well, in fact, that I’ve been back from Key West for 4 months now and I still can’t write about it.  Writer’s block.  It’s never convenient.

I found a piece of myself on that island, a piece that’s made it hard for me to put pen to paper. I’m finally able to share some of the more memorable moments of our trip and my tips for making the most of your visit to Key West.  You won’t find these in guide books, so stick around.

Size Matters

The island is bigger than it appears and if you’re not careful you’ll end up in the most gorgeous hotel by the ocean a quarter mile from everything else.

This Canadian girl managed to screw up the conversion.

Key West The Inn at Key West

Going the Distance

When planning your trip to the keys remember – Location, Location, location.  ‘Waterfront’ or  ‘Ocean front’ is not synonymous with ‘close to the action’.

We stayed at the gorgeous ocean front Inn at Key West without realizing 1/4 mile was a 15 minute cab ride downtown.  Our cab fares averaged the same amount for a daily rental car.  Best to do the math before you leave home.

sebago key west

Shopping

Mallory square is a great place to find unique items, official Conch Republic souvenirs, and gorgeous jewelry. On Duval st you’ll be able to find fashions of all kind… for all kinds of bodies.

Explore

Once you’re done feeling sorry for yourself ‘cause you can’t have this year round you should head to Duval St and Mallory Square where you can shop, dine, and stroll to your heart’s content.

Mallory square is a great place to find unique items, official Conch Republic souvenirs, and gorgeous jewelry. On Duval st you’ll be able to find fashions of all kind… for all kinds of bodies.

conch republic key west
mallory square key west street food
conch republic key west

Pro Tip

If you love steak as much as I do and you either don’t like the high price tag or the huge portions order a steak salad or a flank steak appetizer. It’s served BESIDE the salad, not on it, and the portion is perfect.

Add a side of steam veggies or mashed potatoes and you’re eating like a king without mortgaging your kids.

Key West food

Missed the Sunset Tour?

You now have the perfect excuse to eat at some fabulous restaurants. Many have ‘happy hour’ specials when drinks and apps are ½ price. Can you say… Yum?

Key West sunset tours

So. Much. Fun.

My favorite part of the day is was parasailing.  I’m afraid of heights but when that parachute lets go and the rope unravels all you feel is freedom.

It’s like floating through the air on a cloud.  I was so comfortable I would have stayed up there all day if I could.

Key West Sebago Watersports
Key West Sebago Watersports
Key West Sebago Watersports

Forgotten Contact Lenses

We were brought out to the coral reef to snorkel and I chose to dive in blind for fear of my glasses ending up in the ocean. I have no idea what the reef looks like, I couldn’t see jack-sqwat, but I was told it was gorgeous.

Key West Sebago Watersports

Wearing Glasses?

Don’t let that stop you!

I was hell bent on parasailing so I maguyvered some holders to make sure I got the best view from the top.

Soon everyone was making holders with yellow duct tape.

The captain said it best – it takes a Canadian to come up with the best ideas. 

Undead to Unclothed

Our trip coincided with Fantasy Fest think… Mardi Gras on crack.

Upon our arrival on the island we were greeted by 10 thousand zombies and 2 police officers 400 metres from the airport entrance.  Needless to say I called budget and told them the zombie apocalypse was right outside their door and we would be late returning our rental car.

Never in a million years have I imagined the words ‘If there weren’t so many zombies around I wouldn’t feel as safe’ would escape my mouth.

Flip-Flops & Flooded Streets

Some things can’t be unseen. A fella with nothing but red glitter paint on his crotch. A very old couple baring all save the world’s largest spray painted bush. 

Just don’t look down, mkay? You’re welcome.

Key West fantasy fest 2015

Got Wet Feet?

High Tide. Full Moon. Flooded streets.

Forget looking down to see if what you just stepped in is water or a gross mix of something else.

Looking down means you have to look back up and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with a full-frontal.

The George Clooneys of the island must have stayed home all kinds of bodies were on display.

Key West fantasy fest 2015

Your Flight Awaits

Key West is truly a magical place and I can’t wait to go back! I hope you’ve enjoyed the video (missed it? At top of page ;)) and the pictures. Armed with the best Key West travel tips you won’t find elsewhere, start planning your dream adventure. You deserve it!

context travel in montreal
key west sunset gorgeous

Explore Key West

Sunset Ceremonies - Daily

Every night crowds gather at the pier for the Sunset Celebration, a nightly arts festival at Mallory Square.

Mermaids playing the yukelele, sword swallowers telling tall tales and fresh-made-right-in-front of you guacamole are just a few of the highlights well after the sun bids farewell.

Conch Republic Independence Celebration

With events ranging from wacky bed races, to a lighthearted sea battle featuring tall ships, the Conch Republic Independence Celebration is a 10-day birthday party showcasing the independent and eccentric spirit that characterizes Key West.  The event is held every year in April.

What exactly * is * the Conch Republic?  Read here for more information!  I was fascinated by this little piece of history and invite you to learn more.

Fantasy Fest

Marketing geniuses decided October needed a party to keep businesses afloat during the slowest season of the year.

Fantasy Fest is a 10-day party in paradise for grown-ups, held annually in October.  Fun-loving revelers from around the globe bring their creativity and imaginations as they descend upon Key West each year in October for 10 days filled with costuming, parades, libations, and excitement!

Galleries

Key West is rich in culture.  Tour some of the many local art galleries to experience Key West arts.

Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum

The home of Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway, where he wrote many of his most notable works, is now a museum featuring some of Hemingway’s original furniture as well as artwork and his wife’s chandelier collection.

The grounds also host the descendants of Hemingway’s cats and beautiful gardens filled with Angel’s Trumpet, Hibiscus and Gardenias.

Bike (and more!) rentals

Rent a bike and explore the island on your time.

This budget-friendly option means you can reach all of the attractions in Old Town within five to ten minutes.  A great way to explore the island!  You can also rent motorcycles and Jeeps.

Free (ish) Things to do in Key West

Key West is a little piece of paradise that doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.

Visiting Key West on a budget is a piece of cake, or Key lime pie. Check it out!

Things to do - Kids

From a museum featuring shipwreck salvage to one of the oldest marine mammal facilities in the world, Key West is a kid-friendly vacation destination that is sure to create memories for the entire family.

So Much to See

None of the locals are locals, and as Ms Beth (one of our Sebago captains and all around awesome woman) would say people just fall in love and come back because they can’t imagine living anywhere else.  I can believe it!

They weren’t kidding when they said #FLKeys had the best sunset in the world @visitflorida #lovefl Click To Tweet.

They weren’t kidding when they said it was the best sunset in the world.

At the table next to us at the restaurant was a woman wearing nothing but a grass skirt and artful body paint.  Men were wearing what can only be described as leather nutsacks on a string and group theme costumes were all the rage.

Never mind shilling out beads for a flash – Body paint is the fabric of choice during these festivities.  I’ve never seen so many Nekkid people at once before.

The F Word – My thoughts on feminism

The F Word – My thoughts on feminism

#thefword video contest banner

#TheFWord - Feminism

Feminism, equity, and the intersection of perspective and reality

I’ve had writer’s block since I came back from Key West in October, but I’m working on a great video to show you my trip highlights.

Meanwhile, SheKnows Media along with the Ms Foundation put out a call for submission for their #TheFWord contest.  The winner gets $4000 CASH (USD!!! lol) and a trip to NYC valued at $1000. 

It appears  I had some thoughts on feminism and have been working tirelessly to create a masterpiece worthy of your time.

In order to create this video, I studied, acquired, and mastered several skills and new software.

I’ve learned whiteboard animation, I’ve successfully created several projects with Adobe After Effects, I improved my Premiere Pro skills, dug deep for creative wisdom and reached out to my community when I needed volunteers. 

The 18 year old me would have said I feel ‘all full of madz skillz’ right now.  And I do.

This project has left me emotionally drained so I’ll just put the video here for you to watch 🙂

Feel free to share it on YouTube and don’t forget public voting starts on March 21st.

Judges: Use the link below the embedded video to download an HD version of my submission.

For my daughters… may you always stay true to yourselves xox

Judges, Click Here to Download the HD Video

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A new year with netflix and unexpected gifts

A new year with netflix and unexpected gifts

Netflix starts Year 3 of #StreamTeam

and apparently I can be dense. oh well...

There comes a time in a blogger’s life where you feel like you’ve ‘arrived’.  You’ve made it.  Then 10 minutes later you hear about this great new high profile campaign that everyone but you seems to have been selected for and once again you are firmly grounded in the real world.

Milestones

I felt like I’d arrived a few times these past years.

But here’s one my favorite moments, one I’ve rarely spoken of publicly.

Last summer I met the #ShareYourCare team at a conference and signed up for their ambassador program.  National Share Your Care day was coming up and we were told that in exchange for posting we would get a piece of original Care Bears animation art.

This is what I was expecting, because apparently I’m really freaking dense:

disney parks vinylmation

I don’t know why ‘Animation Art’ translated to ‘Vinylmation’ in my head… but it did.  I was expecting some sort of vinylmation-type Care Bears figurine that my kids would adore.

Instead a stiff envelope marked ‘Do Not Bend’ showed up on November 25th.   What went through my mind?

OOOHHHHHHHHHHH, ‘animation art’.  A poster!  Of course!

Because, of course, I’m still dense and clueless at this point.

What I found inside brought me to tears.  I grew up watching the original series and I’m a huge fan.  When the show premiered on Netflix I just had to show my kids and share with the world.  

IMG_20151125_124711682

So when this priceless piece of history showed up in my mailbox I was rendered speechless and until now didn’t quite know how to express my gratitude in words.

Once I got over how the shock I had a good laugh over my denseness.  Of course ‘one-of-a-kind animation art from the original series‘ would be ACTUAL ANIMATION ART from the original series.  #facepalm

And now for today’s program…

Care Bears and Cousins are Coming Back!

Today I caught up on some emails and found out that Care Bear & Cousins Season 2 is premiering exclusively on Netflix February 5th.  The kids are, shall we say, excited ;).

Netflix & Chill (and yes, I know what it means)

Care Bear Stare doesn’t get your gander going on date night?  Thankfully there’s much more to Netflix than just kids’ shows.  Currently we’ve been streaming Brooklyn 99, a hilarious comedy set in Brooklyn’s NYPD precinct.

brooklyn99

Not much of a date-night thing, but Fuller House is also premiering February 26th and I’m beyond excited.  I am clearing my schedule for 3 days following the launch and if you can’t reach me you’ll know why.

Clearing my schedule for #FullerHouse premiere on @Netflix_CA #StreamTeam Click To Tweet

Are you excited for Fuller House?  What else are you streaming?

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A dream laid to rest with wrapping paper and rotten apples

A dream laid to rest with wrapping paper and rotten apples

Wrapping Paper & Rotten Apples

laying a Christmas dream to rest

Elf Duty

As I’m wrapping the many gifts that will be exchanged in the following week I’m thinking there can’t be any more, I have to be done.  Except I’m not because Oh!  Look – There’s that bag I had stashed and forgotten about!

We’ve been lucky this year – the blog has afforded us a bigger Christmas than usual.  Brands started recognized that you, the reader, actually care about what I have to say, about my opinions on just about anything – toys included.  By the way,  you can check out all the awesome brands I’ve worked with this year in my year-round gift guide!

The kids are getting 6 gifts from Santa, pajamas from Mrs Claus, and 2 gifts each from us; The kids have also each purchased a small gift for each other, their cousin, and their grand-parents.  50 gifts, all told, with the nice paper – the bows, and ribbons and all that crap.

50 fucking gifts I’ve been begrudgingly wrapping because the past week has been a special kind of hell.

Annabelle took a shit on my carpet.  The kids have been cranky.  Apparently I’m the meanest mom in the world.  Because instead of working or doing Santa duty I’ve been cooking up a storm of chocolate bark for teachers and friends, meticulously melting chocolate and candy canes into the perfect seasonal treat to share.  And I expect them to be asleep before midnight.  Mean, right?  The worst, I tell ya!

In between all this shitting, and wrapping, and baking Annabelle decided she wanted short hair and took to the scissors while drawing peacefully at the table.  So I’ve just spent 3 hours in a shopping mall on the last Saturday before Christmas getting an emergency hair cut for a 4 year old who just wanted short hair.  And thought taking matters into her own hands was better than telling me.

christmas haircut

With my back turned she escaped to the bathroom where she left me a mound of hair on the ground and quietly came back to her seat like nothing happened.

Mom Duty

Yet… as I stab another piece of tape on an unruly corner of paper that refuses to cooperate I think back to this time last month.

At my age…. I don’t even remember when I last had a pregnancy ‘scare’.  And ladies, you know, right?  Until that stick turns blue you shut your pie hole and suffer in silence… because you don’t want the mindless, carefree, impulsive, sex that sends your toes curling to stop should The Man decide he is freaked out by something that may not even be a thing.

But there I was, mid-thirties, contemplating the realities of an unplanned 4th pregnancy.  The risk wasn’t ginormous but September’s Gallbladder turned Septic Infection fiasco has made a mess of my cycle and I just couldn’t be sure.

There I was, mid-thirties, contemplating the realities of an unplanned 4th #pregnancy Click To Tweet

Like ole’ faithful my body cooperated for the first time in months and I was left with conflicting and confusing emotions.  Sure, I felt relief… I’ve always wanted a 4th child but now is not the time or  place to even contemplate that possibility.

Surprising still was the wave of sadness and grief that washed over me.  Grief at the loss of the child that never was, that never will be.  The child I dreamed of a lifetime ago; a baby to soothe and nurse and love to the ends of the world and back.

A tiny life to sustain by the grace of God is a miracle that though unplanned and certainly inconvenient would have brought a ray of sunshine in an otherwise shitty situation.

But this child I speak of exists only in dreams of past and life moves on.

Christmas

I sip on my G&T while carefully placing wrapped packages under the lit tree and I spot something in the corner of my eye.  Upon further investigation I discover a half-eaten apple rotting away under the couch.  A half-eaten apple covered in a few locks of hair, likely from today’s scissor experiments that sent me in a mall this close to Christmas.

And let’s be honest.  This week’s fiasco has proved once again that I’m not the most patient person in the world and I’m certainly no spring chicken so it’s probably for the best that we’re laying the dream of a 4th baby to rest.

Reflections

So I sit back and take a moment to be thankful for the life I have today and the many blessings the universe has provided.  My Christmas wish to you is that you can do the same.  Celebrate the joy of the season with loved ones, honoring the memories and traditions of those who are with us in spirit.

The magic of Christmas heals the heart and warms the soul.  It gives us hope for a new season in life, if slightly more seasoned than the last.

And when that tear rolls silently down my cheek as I finger the gentle fabric of a newborn sleeper I will remind myself there’s not much left to my pelvic floor.  That after being pregnant or nursing for 6 years I’m finally – finally! – getting an average of 5-6 hours of sleep nightly, a rare treat after all these years.  That this precious 4th bundle was not mine to have, that I am blessed with three wonderful, bright, amazing, rays of sunshine we call daughters.

That some dreams belong to a lifetime long-ago lived.

Some dreams belong to a lifetime long-ago lived Click To Tweet

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Ford Road-Trips & The Luggage Whisperer

Ford Road-Trips & The Luggage Whisperer

Fun On The Road with Ford

The Expedition, Fiesta, and Convertible Mustang: Built for road-trips?

It appears this was the year of #KickAssRoadTrips.

First Christa & I drove to Prince Edward County for a bloggers’ retreat followed by  Ann & I #KickAssRoadTrip to NYC for #BlogHer15.  Ford Canada generously let us borrow the Ford Expedition for the ride.

Tee-hee.  What. A. Car.

Aside from the ‘jet’ for an engine (man that thing goes fast when you’re not looking!) and amazing little details like the step that comes down, the pedestrian and other obstacle sensors, the butt-coolers (yes my friend – AC for your bum!) and more the Expedition comfortably held our gear… coming and going.

Ford Road-Trips Expedition NYC

the @fordcanada #FordExpedition comfortably held our gear... coming and going #RoadTrip Click To Tweet

We wrote our hashtag and twitter handles on the windows with chalk markers.  Which was great until we got stuck in NYC traffic and we were making enemies just by trying to follow directions.

ford road-trips

People and cars kept coming out of nowhere. It was ridiculous.  Shorlty before we arrived at our hotel we were instructed by a police officer to turn left immediately.  Except the light changed 1/2 way through the intersection and out came no less than 1000 pedestrians.

Those sensors I mentioned?  They work.  Really well.  The sound comes from the direction of the obstacle, so the car was pretty much singing at us in stereo as we were stuck in an intersection with the wide-ass of the Expedition hanging out into oncoming traffic.

ford road-trips nyc driving

Still stuck in the intersection, letting the last of the pedestrians cross as they’ll do it whether you’re moving or not…

Thankfully we manged to get through that corner and soon after reached the hotel.  Ann firmly declared that * I * would be driving us out of the city.

Except we lost our parking stub and almost didn’t have a car to drive home in.  We’d forgotten to wash off the chalk marker before leaving it with the valet and it ended up being what saved us.  We were able to show that we had pictures of us in front of the car with the writing, and the car we were trying to take was the exact same one.

The gas tank on this beast is huge and this time we didn’t get stranded 15 minutes from home.

Florida Keys – U.S. 1 & the Overseas Highway

On our latest trip to Fort Lauderdale for TBEX we decided to take a few days and detour to Key West.  This time we had Ann’s university freshman daughter with us.  I’m not sure who had more stuff between the two, but one of them may or may not have had to switch things around in order to avoid airport overages.  Which means one of them had over 50 lbs of stuff.  Can you guess which of the two packed heavy?

Airmiles balance in tow we booked a rental car to drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West;  Airmiles balance running low we took the cheapest option, a red Ford Fiesta with all the trimmings.

It just so happens I was really tired and completely forgot to take pictures of our luggage in the car.  I will say that our 3 suitcases – 2 hard-shells and 1 soft-shell – fit comfortably (if snugly) in the caboose and everyone had plenty of leg room.

I love all the safety features in the Ford lineup including BLIS, the blind-spot sensor.  I usually have my mirrors set ‘just so’ that my blind spot is barely there but this was much better.

Safety features aside the Fiesta won’t save you from the zombies.

As we were driving to the airport to return said rental car we were attacked by 10,000 (yes, 10k) zombies 400 meters from the airport entrance.

Well, not… attacked per se, but we were made to turn around by a couple of laid-back officers who thought nothing of the 10,000 zombies blocking the airport.

Our @FordFiesta was attacked by zombies in #FLKEYS and survived #FantasyFest @FordCanada Click To Tweet

There should be a disclosure when calling the rental company for directions that it’s Fantasy Week in Key West and * today * is the zombie bike ride.  Which I told the guy when I called him back to say we’d be returning the car once the zombie apocalypse was over.

key west ford road-trips

Women drive Mustangs too

We had booked the same Fiesta to return to Fort Lauderdale a few days later but upon our zombie-free arrival at the airport we were offered a $20 upgrade to a Ford convertible Mustang.

Women drive @FordMustang too #RoadTrip with @FordCanada Click To Tweet

Now, I thought the Expedition was a sexy car… but nothing – nothing! – beats driving top-down in a bright yellow Mustang on the most scenic highway in America.

Oh…. WOW.  What a drive.  What a car.  Fast.  Bold.  Sexy.  Driving that puppy felt like I owned the road.

Nothing beats driving top-down in a @FordMustang in #FLKEYS @fordcanada #roadtrip Click To Tweet

Except I had to fit 2 hard-shells, 1 soft-shell, 1 carry-on, 2 backpacks, 2 camera bags, 3 purses, our combined purchased treasures and 3 full grown, full size humans in a car the may as well fit in the palm of my hand – or so it felt.

Mission Accomplished.  * I * am THE luggage whisperer.  I can fit anything in any car.   I did it in NYC 2012 with room to spare.  I did it in Chicago 2013 even if I was stuck in a hobbit hole for 17 hours.  And I’ve done-gone did it again.

Going on a @FordCanada #Roadtrip? Meet the luggage whisperer Click To Tweet

Ford Road-Trips Key West Mustang

Look at it.  It’s a thing of beauty!  Not a wasted space; luggage versus human Tetris at its best.

I’d thought I’d be nervous driving such a muscle car but this may have been the most comfortable drive of my life.  Small car it may be the Mustang does not lack cohones.  Driving down the 7 mile bridge and zipping through Miami traffic it felt as big and powerful as the Expedition, no small feat I’m sure.

The @FordMustang felt as big as the #FordExpedition on the hwy @FordCanada #RoadTrip Click To Tweet

The verdict: Ford cars are build for road trips

In the last decade I have road-tripped in several Ford cars.  When my oldest was a baby we used my old 5-speed Ford Focus sedan.  Following the birth of my 2nd child (and through my 3rd pregnancy almost to the bitter end) we had a blast in our Ford Escape SUV.

I’ve already told you about our adventures in the Ford Expedition, the Ford Fiesta, and the Ford convertible Mustang.

With absolute certainty I can tell you each and every one of these cars were build for road-trips.  They were built for much more, sure, but they sure as heck made great road-trip cars.

Are @FordCanada cars built for #roadtrips ? @Shoeboxbegone says YES, all of them Click To Tweet

The smaller ones may need some creativity in order to cram everything and everyone in it but it’s worth the effort.

I’m getting a tired of the van – or rather, its lack of all-wheel drive and auto-start.  I have fallen in love with the Expedition we drove this summer and went online to ‘build’ my own… and came down with a small case of sticker shock.  All that means is we’ll be buying used again, but hubby already knowsthe Ford Expedition is our next car.

Ford Road-Trips

Did you know it fits 8?

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The Great 2015 Shitastrophy

The Great 2015 Shitastrophy

toilet paper

The Great 2015 Shitastrophy

That time my kid took a dump on the floor

Enough.

Enough is enough is enough. 

Because today my darling, loving, amazing 5 year old did #2 on the carpet.  Because she hates our toilet. Because the toilet at school is ‘shinier’.

Until recently she’d never even graced a toilet with her stench.  Ever.  She’d hold it in and poo in a diaper at night.  Then she’d ask to be changed, thus pushing back bed time even more.

 

We tried taking diapers away but that was a shit-show.  Once can only continuously clean bed sheets and child covered in dung for so long.

 

On day 8?  On crappy day #8 I gave up.

She held it in for 5 nights.  Five nights, waking up dry and clean every morning.  Then it hit the fan – and everything else.

 

8 straight days of waking up covered smeared in pungent, crusty, half-dry stools.

 

Hair, walls, toes, and everything in between had us wondering ‘how the hell did it get in there too?!?‘.   Followed by ‘OMG it doesn’t end!!!!

 

Poopopolypse.  Shitastrophy.  Explosive.

 

Night, after night, after night.

 

“Fuck it” I said, “Fuck all this shit, I’m done”.

 

So every day she poops at school and every night she’s in a diaper.

I felt so bad for her last night when she asked to go to bed at seven.  “I’m tired, maman, please take me to bed”.  The poor thing, I thought, she must be coming down with something.

She was coming down with something all right.

“My bum hurts”

Oh thank the Lord above!  “Ok sweetie, go to the washroom!” I’m doing the secret-parent-happy-dance in anticipation of the much awaited ‘Plop!’.  A good ‘Plop!’ means clean bum tomorrow morning.

Except she gets up and paces the hallway chanting ‘My bum hurts and nothing wants to come out’.  I plead.  I beg.  I bribe – Please, please go sit on the toilet for a few more minutes.  Just a few minutes, I promise!’

It happened so quickly – like a slow-motion action shot from your favorite movie.  Standing at the top of the stairs she could no longer hold it in and out it came.

The biggest lump (yes, lump.  There was no shape to this… thing) of doodoo shot out her bee-hind and onto my carpet.  It was moist, it was shiny, and its warmth could be felt through the multiple layers of paper towels I held on to as I attempted to clean it up.

And that, ladies & gentlemen, is how our anniversary celebration began. 

Anniversary Shitastrophy. That time my kid took a dump on the floor Click To Tweet

How was your day?

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Will you be #LifeReady when it hits the fan?

Will you be #LifeReady when it hits the fan?

Will you be #LifeReady when it hits the fan?

Life is messy.  Families are messy.  Money is messy.

We all wish we could confidently say ‘we’ve got this’ but lets be honest, most of us can’t.  Not 100% anyways.  We may feel #LifeReady in most areas but there’s always that one thing we know we should doand haven’t gotten around to yet.

We may feel #LifeReady in most areas but there's always that one thing we know we should do... Click To Tweet

Cause there’s plenty of time right?  right?!?  Crap on stick.

So maybe we take a step back to focus on our future.  What do you see?  School, marriage, kids, travels, death, illness, aging… One day it will happen and its easier knowing you have financial systems in place that any one of these events won’t cripple you.

My mom woke up one morning just over 4 years ago and couldn’t walk.  At all.  Within a year Mom was confined to her bedroom; my step-dad stopped working to take care of her.  She was hopped up on all kinds of meds, some necessary, some likely not, and her condition got worse.  She was depressed.  She was lonely.  She called herself Rapunzel because she was stuck in the bedroom – She couldn’t walk down the stairs, her husband had shoulder surgery, and he was unable to carry her downstairs.

Her old, tiny home was not made to be accessible.  Doorways were narrow, staircases were narrow, and going outside was nearly impossible.

It broke my heart to see her like this, and newborn baby in arms I arranged to get her an occupational therapist.  I paid for physiotherapy.  The OT helped her get a custom wheelchair through government programs, I bought her some mobility aids, and I stayed cheery.  Eventually, she was able to maneuver.

All those nights driving over to Mom’s to help them out.  Making sure appointments were scheduled.  Food in the fridge.  Were her prescriptions filled?  Did the floors need vacuuming?

A year ago Mom walked a few shaky steps.  She’s much better but though she still relies on her wheelchair to get around she can stand.  She can walk around in the kitchen, bake like she loves to, heck – even getting out of her chair to go sit on the couch!  Can you imaging 4 years without sitting in anything other than a wheelchair? Her progress warms our hearts daily.

We moved in August they came with us.  An apartment was created downstairs, her mental health improved.

Every day I see a bit more of the woman she used to be before this.  Every day I lose just a little bit more of the woman she is today.  Early onset dementia is the newest ‘thing’ we’re dealing with.  It’s certainly not severe, but her short term memory loss has declined tremendously in the past 6 months.

Today I take care of what needs taking care of.  I also focus on the future.  Her needs will increase over time.  I still have 3 amazing girls who need my love and attention, and a husband who’d like his wife to not be stressed around the clock.

Planning and looking forward to trips and conferences with my friend Ann helps ground me.  It gives me something to look forward to, something to get excited about.

I plan out the airmiles I’ll need for flights and car rentals, make strategic parternships with companies that can help us along the way, and break down the budget to the max.  I know what needs to be paid when, how much money I’ll need, when I’ll need it, and how I can save and still have a #kickassroadtrip.

Because these trips help keep me sane.  And I * need * to be sane.  And being #LifeReady is how I can keep travelling a few times a year.

Are * you * #LifeReady ? Take the manulife quiz and find out! Click To Tweet

Are you #LifeReady?  Take the Manulife Quiz and find out.  While you’re at it, start looking forward – is there anything you want to be ready for?

This post is sponsored by 360ACCESS on behalf of Manulife. The opinions are my own.

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Post-Partum to Normal – How I Crawled Out of The Darkness

Post-Partum to Normal – How I Crawled Out of The Darkness

Never Change, Embrace Change

My journey from post-partum depression to normal

Depressingly post-partum depression is still the tabooed elephant in the room.  It’s normal, we all go through it, yet we can’t talk about it.

I’m done with that.  I’m done with silence.  I’m done with feeling less-than.  Post-partum depression is a side effect of the lethal mix of hormones we are subject to, and we all know #depressionlies.

So what does it look like?  Where do you find her?

In your mirror.  Because you, new mom, are the face of post-partum depression.  

The face of #postpartum depression is in the mirror. #depressionlies It's OK. You're OK. Click To Tweet

After 3 grueling pregnancies and extreme post-partum depression I failed. Failed at business. Failed at housework. Failed my kids.

I felt like I had failed life.

The baby was 18 months old and I still wasn’t getting better. My anxiety got worse with each passing week.

We were busy, sure – 1 car, a husband on shift work, little kids at home, ailing parents who needed increasing care, a successful business and career to manage. But I couldn’t.

I couldn’t look at my inbox because it was too hard to get dressed, to brush my teeth. I couldn’t face my inbox weeks later when my anxiety over replying to everyone made me hide under the proverbial rock.

My kids were fed, clothed, had activities, saw their grand-parents multiple times a week. They went to school and preschool, they had friends, but I rarely had time to just enjoy them. I felt my life was spent in the car running errands, in the car to go help someone, or in the house trying to make sense of the clutter.

Driving was a nightmare.

The kind of nightmare where you see a crazy driver go by and the accident that could have been flashes before your eyes: the mangled car, my kids splattered on the asphalt, first responders arriving on scene…

Let’s rewind a minute: I could see – clear as day – my children splattered and dismembered on the asphalt.

Horrible, right? I never meant any harm to my kids – EVER. But my anxiety was so severe I could see worst case scenarios all around me.

All the time.

Every day.

A train wreck you can look away from.

I know. Because I felt it. Every day. Every time I got in the car.

You can’t unsee those images your fucked up post-partum brain shoves in front of you. It’s disturbing. It’s horrifying. And like a train wreck you can’t look away.  The memory dwells and each time you remember you violently shake your head to try to get it to stop.

But the show must go on and I’d had enough.

I remember sitting in my Dr’s office, and telling her exactly what was going on. I’d always described it as ‘crazy thoughts’ but that could mean so much.

I was explicit. I wanted her to understand my pain and help me get better because I wasn’t coping anymore.

The house was a wreck, the car was a wreck, my business was a wreck, and let’s just say my marriage wasn’t exactly honky dory. I screamed too much and lived too little. I was a wreck.

We changed my medication, I spoke to someone, and I spoke up.

Spoke up about my needs, my feelings, my truth.

I put ME first for the first time in years and every day I felt just a little bit more me. My husband didn’t understand but then again he didn’t really believe depression and anxiety was a disease. I should have been able to push through it in his eyes.

I cancelled things. A lot. Family events, meetings, appointments… if the kids hadn’t slept, weren’t feeling well, or were fighting and misbehaving, I didn’t leave the house alone with them – I refused.

I burned bridges, business and personal, but I had to take care of me. Ultimately I’m a much better mom, wife, and friend if I’m not frazzled before even leaving the house, never mind doing groceries, shopping for a gift and a full-blown family affair an hour away with three cranky kids in tow, by myself.

It got better. I got better. Clients got booked, the kids & I went out more, groceries got done. I would put my foot down and insist on running errands on my own – I was entitled. Dads do it all the time!

I learned to talk about my anxiety with the kids; I couldn’t live with myself if they grew up thinking I was angry at them all the time. To the oldest, “I’m in a really bad mood right now. It’s not you. But this is what I’m feeling. You can help me by giving me a bit of space for 15 minutes.” To the younger girls, “Mommy is really cranky / has a bad headache. Its not your fault but I need you to help me get better by behaving / not screaming / etc”.

Today, the crazy thoughts are gone.  I’m happy, I smile and laugh, and our lives are much better.

I survived, and you will too. 

No matter how bad you think it is… talk to someone.  Anyone.  Please.

Depression lies, and post-partum depression is a beast of its own.  It doesn’t have to be like this.

You are OK. 

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#ShareYourCare – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

#ShareYourCare – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

#ShareYourCare Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

The Care Bears #ShareYourCare day was Wednesday September 9th.  I had all these big plans.  Social messaging.  Epic blog post.  Unicorns farting rainbows and all, y’all.  It was gonna be great.

Except on Tuesday night I ended up in the ER.  My gallbladder & I were not getting along and with the help of a great medical team we joined forces to evict the little bugger.

Clearly I missed posting about #ShareYourCare (I blame pain and narcotics) during my hospital stint, so bear with me (see what I did there?) a moment while I share today.

I’ve been known to help strangers and friends alike and it’s no secret I have a soft spot for animals.  Whether it be time, money, things, words… sometimes someone just needs it more than I do.  So I step in, I do what I can, I show up.  Because it’s the right thing to do.

Care Bears #ShareYourCare : Let's teach our kids the value of kindness and caring. Click To Tweet

Until the day comes where someone takes care of you.  A complete stranger does something so nice, so simple, that it makes your day.  After this week’s ordeals I honestly can’t remember what it was, but I remember telling my mom ‘sometimes it’s just really nice when you’re on the receiving end of random kindness‘.

It doesn’t matter what you do – buying coffee for the car behind you at Tim’s, covering the $0.05 a child needs to buy a special treat ’cause no one taught them about sales tax yet, or showing up unexpectedly to clean, organize, and cook.  It all counts.  It all matters.  

It matters to someone.

September 9th was #ShareYourCare day – but we should all share our care every day.  Because every time you give a random act of kindness you possibly change someone’s life.  You save them, encourage them, give them hope.

I hope someone showed you unexpected compassion when you needed it most, and that you paid it forward when you saw a need.

For an inspiring story of a child on a mission to change the world around him, read about Zach Kaplan and his philanthropist efforts.

Share your story in the comments!  I’d love to hear it.

Care Bears #ShareYourCare Day

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Teaching financial skills to your child – no matter the age

Teaching financial skills to your child – no matter the age

Teaching your child financial skills

no matter what age

Perhaps because of my upbringing, perhaps my unique high school experience, I’ve always thought it important to teach kids real world skills.  Those are the skills that have brought me where I am today, the skills that will one day help them succeed at whatever they put their mind to.

My daughters know the value of a firm handshake versus fish-hands.  They understand cause and effect – I am not that parent who will argue over a winter coat leaving the mall in a snow storm (let them step outside once instead of arguing – worked with all three!).

Respect – for yourself, others, and all things.  The art of story-telling and the pitfalls of superfluous details.  Money.

A lot about money.  Budgets, spending money, where it comes from and where it goes.  Because it’s important. 

So important that I recently spoke to the National Financial Educators Council on how I’ve taught my girls about money.  Teaching financial skills to your child – no matter the age – isn’t rocket science and can be a lot of fun.

Teaching financial skills to your child isn't rocket science & can be lots of fun! cc @NFEC_FinEdu Click To Tweet

Read the following article to see my tips as well as those of other financial experts to help teach your kids those all important real-world financial skills.

Thoughts?  Nuggets of wisdom?  Share below!

 

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3 secrets to surviving a day at the zoo

3 secrets to surviving a day at the zoo

3 Secrets to Surviving a Day at The Zoo

My kids like to drive me bonkers by jumping like monkeys and laughing like hyenas.  They growl and sneer when asked to do chores and have appetites that rival that of a bear.  It’s no wonder it feels like a zoo in here!

I was skeptical when J-F suggested we take all 3 kids to the Zoo Granbya whopping 2 1/2 hour drive away – for a fun-filled, holiday weekend Saturday, family day of f*ck.  Yeah, I said it.  3 kids.  1 zoo.  Thousands of opportunities for oh-shits and get-the-hell-outa-theres.  

3 kids. 1 zoo. Thousands of opportunities for oh-shits and get-the-hell-outa-theres. #traveltips Click To Tweet

Thankfully I have these 3 secrets to surviving a day at the zoo.  I accept wine and coffee as thanks 😉.

The first step in surviving a SATURDAY at the zoo?  Get there before opening time to get a parking spot that is less than 10 miles from the gate.  You don’t want the kids pooped before you even start the day!  Remember that a zillion other parents had the same idea you did; once inside the park skip the first ‘continent’ and go straight to the 2nd section – you can always loop back at the end.  It will still be busy, but your whole day will be less congested than if you spent it herding your way through with all the parents who showed up bright and early like you did.

The second step for survival when kids outnumber the adults is to bring food.  Lots of food.  And if your kids are a tad OCD like mine make sure every child has exactly the same thing.  Our cooler – which we put in the wagon’s ‘cargo hold’ area – had exactly 3 of everything for the kids.  Apples, drinkable yogourt, granola bars, nutri-grain bars, water bottle and juice box.  We also had 1 loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter.  We did buy them a treat mid-way but I wanted to save our spending money for the fun things, like camel and train rides.

Lastly, bring a wagon.  Any wagon.  I don’t care how old your kids are.  Ours (a folding number from On The Edge Marketing)  held water, food, extra kid’s underwear & pants, diapers, wipes, a light blanket, a neck pillow and from time to time a napping toddler or a tired preschooler.  Trust me, you don’t want to be carrying a 40lb tired toddler half way across the zoo.

We ended up having a terrific day.  As you can see from the pictures below everyone had a great time – mostly.  Though I will admit to reaching for the wine bottle when we got home I have to say the day was a success thanks to my 3 secrets to surviving a day at the zoo.

3 secrets to surviving a day at the zoo #kids #travel #tips #parenting Click To Tweet

What are your tips for surviving family outings?  Check out the image gallery below then comment with your suggestions!

 

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leopard eating a bone
alligator 'smiling'

Exploring the Big Apple with The Ride NYC

Exploring the Big Apple with The Ride NYC

Exploring the Big Apple with The Ride NYC

I’ve been to the Big Apple before but this time it felt like a new experience.  For one, I wasn’t a million years pregnant.  Let’s just say I saw WAY more than I did in 2012 even though our schedule was beyond jam packed.

I had tickets to 4 different events, two of which were overlapping conferences.  Normally I wouldn’t have had time to explore at all but knowing this would be an issue I came prepared: I purchased a VIP ticket to #BBNYC which included a choice of several experiences on the Wednesday afternoon, something I looked forward to with fervor.

I’m a big fan of tours but The Ride NYC is like nothing you’ve seen before.  Stadium-style seating, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an unparalleled view of the city.  With lights and sounds reminiscent of old Cash Cab episodes and seasoned entertainers you are guaranteed some laughs, lots of oohs and aahhhs, and some fun surprises thrown in the mix.

In the air conditioned greatness of the bus I got to take in some great sights.

The Ride NYC

I also got to take great pictures of a few landmarks from interesting angles.

Beyond our two great hosts we were treated to little extras along the way.  The first surprise was a dancing banker – vaudeville-style.

We were serenaded, attended a jazz concert, and went to the ballet – all without leaving the bus.  We even got to see some spectacular break dancing.

Experience NYC with @the_ride_nyc for some great fun and a memorable experience! #Travel #bbnyc Click To Tweet

We may have all broken into song and our lovely host – who reminds me so much of Anne Hathaway – gave us a stunning rendition of ‘All by myself’.

Some people think tours are tacky and for old people but I guarantee this one is unlike any other you’ve ever seen.  The Ride NYC has several routes you can choose from and they are worth every penny.

Enjoy your stay in the Big Apple, and get on The Ride!  You won’t regret it 😉

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Dragons: Race To The Edge

Dragons: Race To The Edge

Dragons: Race to the edge

My girls?  They.  Are.  Girly girls.

BUT!  They are also big fans of all things loud, dirty, dangerous, and geeky.  As long as there’s wipes nearby so they can clean off their hands right away.  We can’t let that princess dress get dirty – so they’ve told me.

J-F being a great ‘How to train your dragon‘ fan the kids have seen the movie about a zillion times.   With ‘Dragons: Race to the Edge’ the kids are excited for some new ‘mom approved’ streaming time.  J-F has some time off this month and they’ll be able to all watch it together as I pack up the house for our move.

Jasmine is already planing her binge-watching time (ha!) and the other two are playing swords with forks.  The cat is apparently a dragon and is being patient at the youngest’s attempts to ‘train’ him.  Such a good cat, my Owen.

So while I’m packing make sure to enjoy the new Netflix series!

Dragons

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Fake Fashion: Condoms, Socks, and Mushroom Clouds

Fake Fashion: Condoms, Socks, and Mushroom Clouds

Fake Fashion: Condoms, Socks, & Mushroom Clouds

My kids’ feet stink.  I mean – Farmer stepping in shit all day wash your feet BEFORE getting into the house kinda stink.

I don’t get it!  Mere hours after bathing them I fight the urge to Lysol the crap out of their feet.

In efforts to eradicate the problem I’ve spent the past week searching for girls’ cotton socks.  Easy right?  Sears, The Bay, Children’s Place, Old Navy, Gap, Joe Fresh, Walmart, Payless, Kiddie Kobbler, Souris Mini, Gymboree, Giant Tigre… Even the flipping dollar store.  

Nada.  Zip.  Niente. 

What I found instead was several poly-blends.  Polyester (up to 80%), Lycra, Spandex, Nylon… and 2% – 5% Rubber.

That’s right folks.  RUBBER. 

The same rubber that sheaths your man’s cockstand is now being found in fucking socks.

Does this condom make me look fat? #fashion Click To Tweet

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in * that * meeting.

“There’s not enough synthetic crap in our socks – we need something… something more!

“What about recycling old tires and turning the rubber into a cloth-like fiber?  It would certainly add to the plasticky feeling of polyester and nylon – Think about the planet! “

“OMG That’s genius!  Imagine!  Men’s socks.  Women’s socks.  Kids’ socks…. Unbreathable fucking rubber socks for everyone!”

The whole room erupts in applause; it’s a wonderful day.  The CEO sheds a happy tear at the good deed they are doing for the environment their fat wallets.

Between us?  The mushroom cloud that forms when my husband and kids take off their shoes will probably kill us all well before the millions of condoms lying on the ocean floor.

So where has all the cotton gone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Hello?

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#DeadRaccoonTO – The memorial that spawned a hashtag

#DeadRaccoonTO – The memorial that spawned a hashtag

#DeadRaccoonTO : The memorial that spawned a hashtag

As I sat idly, lurking the Book of Face, an article by Buzzfeed caught my attention.

“People in Toronto Created A Memorial To A Dead Raccoon After The City Forgot To Pick It Up”

A headline like this begs to be clicked on, and click I did.  Followed by much laughter and benign twitter stalking of the @Norm account.

I laughed so hard I almost pissed my pants and figured if I thought it was funny… chances are you would too.

So for you, dear readers, I share the Saga of the #DeadRaccoonTO – in tweets.  Enjoy 😉

#DeadRaccoonTO memorial spawns hashtag in wake of city fail Click To Tweet

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Thinking Out Loud – Is a kiss just a kiss?

Thinking Out Loud – Is a kiss just a kiss?

Thinking Out Loud - Is a kiss just a kiss?

It was late Saturday night (Sunday morning?) when I sobered up from too many Gin & Tonics and headed to home.  I turned on the radio, still reminiscing great conversations and much fun, when a new song starts playing.  The first few notes sounded promising so I blasted the volume as I took a drink of water.  Big mistake.

Cause the 3rd line of the song came blasting out of my speakers and make me choke on my water.

“Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love”

The visual this brought on was – um – interesting;  the kind of interesting that firmly ensconced me in the gutter.

Thinking Out Loud is a beautiful song by Ed Sheeran, an ode of sorts to his lover.  I laughed as I told Ann about this, until she said she always thought the line was about kissing, not blow jobs, and clearly I’m a bit of a pervert.

Take it how you want – it’s still a great song.  And with all the suggestive music out there if this was in fact about blow jobs it was done remarkably well – classy and sexy.

So tell me, what do you think?  A kiss?  or a “KISS”?  Leave your comments below after watching the video! 🙂

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Style Guide for the Conference Junkie Mom

Style Guide for the Conference Junkie Mom

Style Guide for the Conference Junkie Mom

My name is Angele and I am a conference junkie.  And a MOM of 3

Your body changes after kids; it’s different.  Not better, not worse – just… Different.

That being said I still like to look good when I leave the comfort of my home office pj’s.  I have to take into account the wider hips, the permanent belly-smile-with-old-man-belly-flap that’s right at my bikini line, and ‘The Ladies’.  Practical pieces are a must – specially in footwear – and all things undergarment must still find a way to be sexy AND comfortable.

I refuse to look matronly, but I’m not 20 anymore if you get my drift.

My style has evolved over the years, but I’ve always packed light;  Unless I’m going to BlogHer, Blogger BashType-A Parent, or other conference where there’s a guarantee I’ll need extra space to bring back swag.  In those cases, I bring an empty suitcase with me 😉

So what does one bring to a conference?

I’ve put together my Top 20 List of things that end up in my bags while traveling to a conference.  Ready?

nyc-2015-wardwrobe

Style Guide for the Conference Junkie Mom Top 20 Must-Haves

1.   Find pieces that flatter your body in fabrics that breathe.

This jumper from Reitman’s (or Smart Set, if you’re in the US) is really cute and looks great on.  I was surprised at how well it fit until I realized it came in Petite!  On my 5’2″ frame this was absolutely perfect.

2.  An over-sized t-shirt can be dressed up or down.

Pair with shorts and flip flops to go shopping or with leggings and cute flats for an afternoon of breakout sessions.

3.  It won’t be all business, all the time.  

Remember to pack casual pieces that go a long way like these cute denim shorts from Reitmans and black leggings.

4.  Session rooms and outdoor parties can get chilly.

Come prepared with cardigan or scarf that will match your outfit.

5.  Your (not so little) little black dress.

A great dress in a wrinkle-free fabric will serve you well.  Easy to roll up into your suitcase and pairs great with a cardigan or a pashmina.

6.  Don’t forget you can still be fun and flirty!

This ‘cold shoulder’ top by Michael Kors looks fantastic on and pairs well with jeans or leggings.

7.  Jeans!  The best, most comfortable pair you own.  

Cause lets face it you won’t have time to wear all 36 pairs.  Just bring one (OK 2 – if you insist) that make your ass look fantastic and allows you to breathe.

8.  The makeup bag.  The small, pared-down version of your makeup bag.

Concealer – Mineral Lights, Caryl Baker Visage; High Brow & Gimme Brow by Benefit,  Sephora.  Mascara – DiorShow, Sephora. Tinted Brow Gel – Anastasia Beverly Hills, Sephora.

Add a great lip stain – I love the Smashbox longwear lip lacquer – and some light gloss and you’re all set to look fresh and natural.

9.  Fantabulous sunglasses.

I’m bringing the DVF glasses I won in the BlogHer’12 Eyeconic challenge.  I do wish they would bring this promo back – It was a lot of fun and I absolutely LOVE those glasses. 

10.  A bright Pasmina.

Fits in your bag and very versatile.  Conference rooms get chilly with the A/C, and sometimes you just need that extra little bit of coverage.

11.  Stand out from the crowd with a great badge holder that doubles as awesome jewelry.

It’s not like you can go anywhere without your badge… may as well look good while at it, right?  I found this one on Ebay.  The seller graciously switched out the ring for a lobster clasp which will easily hook onto my badge. Her creations are amazing and fun – check out her pinterest board!

12.  Cute flats, like these Jeffrey Campbell ‘At Hashtag’ shoes I got from Revolve Clothing.

An easy way to add a punch of wow to your outfit without breaking your back.

'At Hashtag' shoes are perfect for any blogging conference! #BBNYC #BlogHer15 Click To Tweet

13.  A well-fitted, right-sized, convertible bra.

My favorite is the Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless Underwire Bra.  It holds’em up and doesn’t go anywhere – and I can choose to put the straps on if I want.  Bonus: it comes in my size, 36H.  I always feel confident the ladies will stay where they need to, and I don’t have to deal with straps digging into my shoulders.

14.  Underpants that go the distance.

Remember the belly perma-smile I mentioned before?  Well these ‘boy’ shorts from La Vie en Rose are perfect.  They look great on, and the panty covers the entire old-man-flap so I don’t end up with weird bits poking through the sides.  No one needs bikini muffin-sides.  Trust me.  It doesn’t hurt that your ass will look fantastic in these :).

Underwear selection matters! No one needs bikini muffin-sides #postpartum #motherhood Click To Tweet

15.  Simple jewelry that will make you feel fabulous.

This coral enamel bangle bracelet from Fossil looks great on, and I love how the enamel feels against my skin.

16.  An alternative to shoes for parties and the expo hall.

I hate wearing shoes, and sometime around day 1.5 my feet start to really swell up.  I relieve them by wearing Slippys Original socks around the hotel and conference area.  They are super cute, and no one is really looking at your feet.

Travel tip:  These are great to change into once you get on the plane.  Just slip your shoes into your carry-on and enjoy!

17.  Waist nippers and such.

I’m not a fan of spanx-type shapewear.  On my round-ish tummy all that smoothing just makes me look like I have a nice, tight, pregnant belly.  Instead I prefer waist nippers like the Maidenform Easy Up and the Maidenform Flexees Waist Nipper.  These really ‘suck you in’ in the tummy area and stay put all day.  Great for any form fitting outfit, but also when you’re feeling all bloated and hormonal.

18.  Feminine Wipes & Panty Liners.

Keep your lady-bits fresh all day.  You’ve had a few kids so the chance you can laugh without tears coming down your legs are slim to none.  Need I say more?  Oh, and neither will help you not piss your pants but at least you’ll stay dry and smell nice.

Panty liners, cause you probably cant laugh without tears coming down your legs #BBNYC #BlogHer15 Click To Tweet

19.  Breath Spray

There will be food.  Lots of food.  Foods of all kinds.  Come prepared with breath spray and spare your neighbors.

20.  YOU, in all your awesome glory

Cause really, that’s all the matters right?  Let us get to know the awesome that is you – be it quirky, weird, different, whatever.  We’re all a bunch of coo-coos anyways, so you’ll fit right in 😉

What are your must-have items? Any tips you want to share?

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Welcome Back Garfield!

Welcome Back Garfield!

Welcome Back Garfield

I love that my oldest loves the same things I did in my youth – The Baby-Sitters Club (and all things reading), Full House (OMG she’s obsessed!), and now – apparently – Garfield. 

And… She’s gotten the littles obsessed as well.  Garfield and his antics are still just as entertaining and with her developing wit she’s also ‘getting’ some of the nuances.  Its nice to see her appreciate both intelligent and no-brainer humour.

What retro (oh good god I can’t believe I’m referring to 80’s and 90’s stuff as RETRO.  Wasn’t that, like, just yesterday?) shows are you passing down to your kids?  Share below and check out some great throwback titles on Netflix!

Garfield is on @NetflixCA - Just as good as I remember! Click To Tweet

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Prince Edward County – A Weekend in Pictures

Prince Edward County – A Weekend in Pictures

Prince Edward County - A weekend in pictures

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I Love You’s and Tequila.  And Vodka.  And maybe Brandy

I Love You’s and Tequila. And Vodka. And maybe Brandy

I Love You's and Tequila. And Vodka. And maybe Brandy

Alcohol.  It loosens the tongue, no?

“I shouldn’t say this but I want you” you say.  “Funny, I was thinking the same thing”, he replies.  You kiss, tentatively, and next thing you know you’re consumed with the taste, smell, and feel of his lips.  You make out on the hood of the car cause you don’t give a damn who sees you, cause you can’t be bothered to wait any longer.

That time you got drunk and made out on the hood of the car #lastnight @lspraggan Click To Tweet

One thing leads to another and you wake up the next morning feeling wonderfully relaxed.  You stretch out like a cat as you roll over to check the time and the proof of your wanton sex-god escapades is staring right at you.

Oh shit.  Oops.  Faaaaccckkkkk.

We’ve all been there, at one time or another.  Remembering what we said – or did – the night prior makes us cringe at the horror of facing our friends again.

Some call it Beer Fear.  Lucy Spraggan, a brilliant twenty-something singer / songwriter from the UK, says it better than anyone else.

Check it out:

A friend shared another of her songs with me – Tea & Toast.  Also beautifully written – though consider yourself warned: you’ll likely shed some tears.

Are you in love with Lucy Spraggan yet?  Thought so ;).

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Protecting Our Tomorrows, Preventing Disease

Protecting Our Tomorrows, Preventing Disease

Protecting our tomorrows, Preventing Disease

As a child, meningococcal disease was almost a myth.  The children of my generation – too young to really be considered gen x, and too old to be a millennial –  got vaccinated and that was that.

Old kids’ books told tales of twins with mumps.  There were stories of uncles who, decades earlier, had suffered from Polio or Meningitis.  The miracle of modern medicine was something to be grateful of, lest we forget the pain and suffering of our elders.

Thought Provoking Changes

Then the 90’s came along and parents of ‘true’ millennials stopped vaccinating their kids.  First labelled as crazy and irresponsible, then fearless leaders in a movement that would cause much debate, these parents did what they thought best for their family.

We think we are safe, that we did the right thing, that the risks outweighed the benefits.  We remain under the impression we’re making educated choices and we can’t possibly be wrong, can we?

Were we wrong to not vaccinate our kids? #vaccination #vaccines #health Click To Tweet

Dangerous Repercussions

Except we’re now seeing a resurgence of previously almost-extinct diseases.  More and more we hear stories of meningitis outbreaks in places there shouldn’t * be * any outbreaks.  This is North-America, not a 3rd world country, after all.  But the evidence is there.

Regardless of your stance on vaccination you can’t deny this practice has dangerous repercussions.  Don’t believe me?  Skeptic?

Anne Geddes illustrates the profound impact of meningococcal disease

Maybe after seeing Anne Geddes’ ‘Protecting our tomorrows: Portraits of meningococcal disease’ project you’ll understand where I’m coming from.  This global project allowed her to capture the stories of 15 survivors and their families.

I’m grateful I had the opportunity to interview Anne along with Dr. Fielding, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at the CDC.  Important topics were raised, incredible stories told, and great resources shared.

Check out the interview, and share your thoughts in the comments!  * Opinions are welcome, but comments that could be construed as bullying or harassment will be removed.  It’s a big playground, let’s play nice shall we? *

Watch this great interview with @AnneGeddesTweet & Dr. Fielding #protectingourtomorrows Click To Tweet

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STFU Dr Google, Before You Kill Someone

STFU Dr Google, Before You Kill Someone

STFU Dr. Google, Before you kill someone

In light of a friend’s very public mental / nervous breakdown I can no longer keep quiet.  I am shocked at how many of you – normal-ass people with no medical degrees – purport to know better than trained professionals.

Who * are you * to judge which treatments are best for her?

Who are you to judge at efficacy and safeness of one’s particular pharmaceutical cocktail without a full medical history?   Without a fucking medical degree?

Comments like ‘no need for drugs, they just numbs you‘ and ‘your dose isn’t healthy’ isn’t doing anyone any good.  And those chiming in that this advice should be taken seriously?  They’re just as bad.

Is your name followed by ‘MD’?  No?  Then STFU.

Are you a nurse-practitioner, psychiatrist, or psychologist? No? Then kindly stuff it where the sun don’t shine.

I happen to be one of ‘those’ people.

“Those” people apparently too weak to just to just breathe and center myself when the anxiety builds.  When it builds so high I feel like I’m losing control.  When I get so angry at the sense of losing control that I go bat-shit crazy at anyone or anything who dares give me the stink-eye.

I am of the ‘weak’ who take medication to manage the physical symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Trust me when I say that I’ve never felt better, I am NOT numb, and the extremes are gone.

When you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, so exhausted from being thrown from one emotional extreme to another in every waking moment.  When you’ve laughed and cried and screamed and freaked out and loved …. all at once… every day.  When you trade in your degree from the Google School of Medicine for a real one.

Then, and only then, should you voice your opinion on my current treatment.

You’re not 6 years old anymore, Dr. Know-It-All.  This is real life.

I get that you were worried – we all were.  I get that you were coming from a place of love and compassion.

But do you get that you could kill someone by telling them to go off their meds?  You could cause irreparable damage by encouraging them to self-dosewhether you think they are taking too much or not enough.

You and I both know that pharmaceutical therapies are not the only factor in preventing mental breakdowns.  We all know someone who was freed from the holds of depression through prayer, or diet, or some magic woo-woo what-not.  Maybe that was you!

And maybe you weren’t suffering from CHRONIC anxiety and depression. Maybe your case was unique, your story the exception.  Maybe.  Possibly.  But that still doesn’t make you HER doctor.

Shit happens.  Life happens.  Depression lies.  God & meditation can’t always save you when you’re going bat-shit crazy.

God & meditation can't always save you when you're going bat-shit crazy #depressionlies Click To Tweet

Worried about the safety of a loved one?  Encourage them to call for help, or do it yourself even!

But don’t tell her what she should or shouldn’t do with her medication unless you’re fully qualified to.  And even if you are, unless you’re privy to information that would help you make that judgement it’s really not your call is it?

Bottom line? shut the f*ck up about her meds – You’re not HER doctor.

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Philly’s Harbor Park a Real Gem for Locals & Tourists

Philly’s Harbor Park a Real Gem for Locals & Tourists

Philly's Harbor Park a real gem for locals and tourists

It’s a beautiful summer afternoon on the boardwalk.  You lean against the railing in this rare moment of peace and gently close your eyes; you turn your face up to the sun letting its rays warm your cheeks.

boardwalk

Father and son enjoy a spirited debate over a game of giant lawn chess.  Bystanders chime in from the sidelines as a crowd gathers; everyone has a winning war strategy.  A group of high school juniors play bocce ball; you smile, reminiscent, as a lad and his date flirt like – well, like teenagers!

chess-bocce-jenga

A family is enjoying a picnic on the lawn chairs;  large hammocks play host to a varied crowd.  A couple whispers sweet nothings while snuggling; a young woman is enjoying a novel.

hammocks

You imagine yourself lying there, listening to the rustling of leaves as the wind carries voices of children at play, the nearby fountain a refreshing backdrop to a bird’s song.

fountain

How easy it would be to just close your eyes for a minute, sinfully drifting towards the ultimate guilty pleasure, an afternoon slumber.

nap

Fitting, that the city of brotherly love would give us a repose from our hectic lives; a place where class, race, and politics are forgotten; a place to find your community once again.

philly

Welcome to Harbor Park, Philadelphia.  Stay a while, won’t you?

Welcome to #harborpark - stay for a while, won't you? @visitphilly Click To Tweet

Harbor-Park-10

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