Loving the Pace of Summer

Happy Wednesday, Friends.

And happy smokin’ hot summer days!  At least, if you live in my neck of the woods.  I am soaking up every last drop of this summer.  It has been tremendous not only in terms of what we’ve been doing but also in terms of weather.  And before anyone makes a smart crack about the humidity, I just want to remind you of this:



SERIOUSLY.  THIS. ^^^^^.  Don’t even try to convince me that six feet of snow and five layers of clothing is better.  Because it just isn’t.  Actually, I take that back.  I love winter up until Christmas.  And then it just goes downhill from there all the way through late March.  Verdict?  Summer.   Longer days, warm nights, sun-kissed tans, no parkas.  Verdict?  Summer.

I find it fascinating that I live in a part of the world that goes from -35°C in February to +35°C in July.  Five months ago I could walk across the lake at our cottage and now I can comfortably swim across it.

Mind blown.

Speaking of comfortably swimming in a lake and returning to the point of this blog post, I’ve rather been enjoying the slower pace we chose this year.  We made the conscious choice to avoid scheduling much during July and August.  I read an incredible article this spring that inspired me to schedule less but not necessarily do less.  In fact, we’ve been pretty busy. We just choose our busy-ness as we go.  Based on the whim and fancy of what we want to do that day.

Want to build a fort?  Sure!

Want to play Scrabble?  You bet!

Want to play tag in the sprinkler?  Last one in their bathing suit is IT!

The kids are in two separate weeks of day camps (one in July and one in August) but other than that, there is nothing.  No organized sports.  Few play dates.  No “bucket lists”.  Just inspired by what the day brings and what we feel like doing.  We’ve accomplished a lot.

I’ll be honest that in the beginning the thought of it seemed daunting.  Nine whole weeks of unscheduled open-ness?  I thought for sure I would crack….and I fully admit to enjoying a white wine spritzer in the afternoons on the back porch as the kids run around {virtual fist bumps for the spritzer!}.  There are days the kids get bored and I had to be okay with that.  I also had to be okay with not filling that time for them.  I asked them to come up with their own activities and most times they do without *too* much complaining.


Here are a few ideas for those families looking to do less yet connect more in August.  Most of these activities cost little to no money and require little to no preparation in advance.

  • Build a fort (inside or outside)
  • Take a hike
  • Read a book (we love Chronicles of Narnia and are taking a few weeks – if not months – to finish it as a family)
  • Paint rocks
  • Garden
  • Go geo-caching
  • Count stars at night
  • Go to a drive in movie
  • Catch bugs
  • Go swimming in a lake or a river or the beach
  • Run in the sprinkler
  • Blow bubbles
  • Watch clouds float in the sky
  • Make a scavenger hunt in your backyard
  • Climb a tree (and please, get up there with them!  It’s fun!)
  • Play board games (we even made our own)
  • Go to the library
  • Make homemade popsicles
  • Make paper mache
  • Lemonade stand
  • Go fishing
  • Do yoga in your backyard 
  • Go on a picnic
  • Be a tourist in your hometown
  • Go on a day trip and let the kids decide when & where to turn (see where they take you!)
  • Hit up a provincial/state park
  • Make homemade ice cream

The ideas are simple and endless.  And thoroughly enjoyable.  And most importantly, we’ve found that we are seriously connecting with our kids more.  Sure, they still watch a movie here and there.  And my iPhone isn’t always turned off (how else do I share the photos of our fun but by posting them to Instagram!).  But I do find that we’re having more fun than we have in past summers.

AND with five more weeks of summer left, I’m looking for other ideas too – would love to hear about what you’re doing with your kids over the hotter months!

To the Awesome Ladies In My Life (You Know Who You Are)

I am really really grateful.  So grateful I could burst.  I have managed, through no coincidence I assure you, to surround myself with some incredibly amazing women in my life.  When I think of these women, I remember this meme.


First and foremost, I have my mom.  She’s been there since day one.  She’s the one who knows me better than anyone else (save for my husband, who might tie her in that category.  But since this post is about women, he doesn’t take top honours).  She can call me on my bull crap when I need to be called on it.  She knows when I’m taxed.  She even knew when I was pregnant with my third child before anyone else (again, save Tom) knew.  She raised me, for a good part of that time as a single parent.  I think of the days when I’m exhausted with three kids running me ragged, coming home late from work, hungry, and all I want to do is escape into my bed with a glass of wine.  I look at Tom and think, “damn…she did this on her own”.  You did good, Mom.  (I know that’s grammatically incorrect…she’s also the one who will call me within twenty minutes of any blog post and tactfully point out to me the grammatical errors I’ve made).  I’m proud of you.   I don’t tell you enough but I want you to know that I love you.

Mom & me in 1979.

Mom & me in 1979.

Then I have these amazing groups of women who I get to hang out with or chat with on a regular basis.

I have my accountability girls every other Wednesday morning.  Karen and Amy and I have been talking weekly or biweekly for over two years now.  We met at a seminar a few weeks after Maggie was born and bonded.  We share our wins, our challenges, our frustrations, our fears, our good days, and more with one another in complete confidence that we will listen – without judgement – and love one another for every strength and weakness we have.  We offer advice, give virtual high fives over Skype, and learn from one another.  We all started in a similar place – practicing chiropractic – and over time we started to embark on different professional adventures which has taken our accountability call in a different direction.  I want to see these women succeed both personally and professionally…but most importantly I want them to be happy in doing so.

I have my long-term friends from grade one.  Yes, grade one.  Maybe two.  I can’t really remember when they all entered into my life but certainly it was early on in grade school.  We don’t talk as often.  But I know my day brightens when my cell phone lights up or an email appears in my inbox from one of them.  We’re in different parts of the country and we can go weeks or months without being in touch but we can pick up from wherever we left off.  There’s no shaming or frustration for lack of communication…it’s just understood that we’ll be there for one another until we’re well into our senior years.  Even if our memories aren’t well enough to remember who is lighting up our cell phones at that time (will we even have cell phones at that time??).

I have my chiropractic girls.  The girls who I went through school with or met after graduation at a seminar or in passing.  Or we may have just gotten to know one another over Facebook.  Either way, they are there to connect with at seminars.  And to refer to when one of my most favourite patients moves away and I need to get them another amazing chiropractor in their new town.  They are there in so many ways that can’t be counted and yet are so appreciated.

My next group of amazing women is my CrossFit ladies.  This group isn’t a specific group…it changes day to day, week to week.  But often it’s the morning group that have bonded over the last few months and in some cases years.  What I love is that regardless of our physical capabilities, size, marital status, children status, work status, etc. we all support one another at doing better in the gym.  I can be in the middle of a really heavy lift, about to fail, and have one of them look me in the eye and say “You’ve got this” and it gives me the extra bit of strength to lift that weight over my head.  They’ve got my back.  They are there to support me.  And I’ve got their back and I’m there to support them.  One of the coaches calls it a “female wolf pack” and it’s true.  I can walk into the gym and see one of them and instantly I know it’s going to be a more fun workout because they are there.

And finally I have my new Desire Map book club girls.  They are all crossovers from CrossFit, which tends to be a thread that has weaved through many of my relationships.  But these book club girls are tremendous.  I feel like I’m diminishing it by calling it a book club…it’s so much more…we’ve nicknamed ourselves something that can’t be posted here but I assure you it perfectly describes this group of ebullient women.  I can be honest, open, raw, authentic and real with them in person.  They don’t make fun if I cry.  I like that.  Because the first time we got together, I recounted one of the most difficult times in practice for me, and they didn’t even blink when it caused me to tear up.  We only get together in person monthly but we’re there for one another through text and online as need be.

So so grateful.  Each of these women play an important role in my life.  I’d be less without them.  I wouldn’t be where I am without them.  You know who you are, and I appreciate you for who you are.  Thanks for being in my life.

Much love, andrea

Why Being Selfish is Good

I think we’ve likely all been there.  The feeling of suddenly realizing its February 12th when if someone had told you it was only February 5th, you would have believed them.  I feel like the last week has been an absolute blur.  Or maybe it’s that each day feels like the one before lately and so I’m losing sense of what day is what.

My oldest daughter has been home for two weeks from school because of a nasty cough that at one point had escalated into fever, vomiting and ear pain.  For most of these two weeks though, it’s been alternating between a dry hacking cough and a wet congestive cough.  She has great energy.  She is eating well.  She sleeps through the night.  She’s happy.  But she spends half of her day sounding like she’s about to cough up a lung.

So we’ve been laying low.  And by laying low it means that we’ve been cooped up inside the house for basically two weeks.  When the other two are home from daycare and school, life gets a little batty.  The three altogether in the same house become like caged wild animals.   It’s been extremely cold outside so playing out in the snow hasn’t been a priority.  And even kids get tired of board games, books, movies & hide and seek.  Tension levels rise, including mine.

We need to get out.  And I am craving a little freedom.

Here’s what I’ve discovered.  Not just as a mom, but as a human being.  I need to respect and put a priority on my values and feelings.  When my life is feeling a little like it’s overloaded, I need to get back to the basics of what makes me tick.

*my morning power hour is crucial.  Even if that morning power hour is 5 minutes long.

*my workouts at the gym.  I set some pretty substantial goals for myself at the gym at the beginning of the year.  I’m a few more workouts away from being able to do my first pull up.  I’m looking forward to posting that video for you.

*quiet time.  I am an introvert at heart.  I feel much happier if I have been able to carve out just ten minutes of quiet time each day.

*chiropractic adjustments.  I’ve been checked more often in the last two weeks for numerous reasons.  I know that I adapt to stress much better when my nervous system is clear and with zero interference.

*essential oils.  There is something so beautiful about diffusing serenity, balance, onGuard and Breathe at different times throughout the day.  Add in some Elevation, Citrus Bliss, eucalyptus, Wild Orange, and Lavender and I’m pretty much covering all of my bases between supporting my immune system, adapting to stress at a better level, and making my soul happy.

Making my soul happy.  Deliciously happy.

And making my soul deliciously happy is at least a step in the right direction towards freedom.  I may not be hopping a plane to paradise anytime soon (although knowing that our temperature is dipping to -31C with the wind chill this afternoon is making me second guess our choice of a ski trip this weekend instead of sitting on a beach somewhere) but creating inner freedom is good too.

The more intention I choose to place on my happiness and state of peace, I feel like the perceived monotony of life right now is more tolerable.  I make no excuses for being selfish with my personal time.  Caleigh may have had a cough but taking her to the gym with me on Tuesday morning meant that I could still get my own health and well-being taken care of.  Waking up an extra 30 minutes early in the morning, even though I could easily use some more sleep, means that I get to breathe a little deeper and plan my day before it begins.


Before applying the oxygen mask to the people who depend on you, attach your own oxygen mask first.  Sound advice.  And advice that I choose to follow in times where people are needing me to take care of them more than usual.  I’m choosing to also take care of myself.

And just like that, we’re done.

It’s been five days since Maggie has breastfed.  I didn’t even notice the first two days.  It just trailed off, quietly, and suddenly I realized that she was no longer asking for my milk.  It was our routine to nurse at night and first thing in the morning.  We would snuggle in bed, hers or mine, and she would nurse quietly.  She would take breaks and answer the questions I would ask her.  Or she would graze her fingers across my neck and upper chest.  She fit so perfectly, nuzzled into me as if we were one being and not two separate ones.

Maybe that’s what I will miss the most about breastfeeding.  It was our physical connection that was just ours.  That only a mama and her baby can experience.  An intimate bond that I will not experience again nor ever forget.

I breastfed all three of my babies.  Caleigh stopped at 18 months, Blake just at 12.  Maggie was my longest nurser, stopping just over 26 months.  It was as if she knew that I wanted to hold on to the nursing as long as possible as she is our last one.  To hold onto that connection….to be reminded of the dependence she has on me.  I loved that when she was hurt, sad, sleepy, or cranky I would be her solace.  I loved that she could call asleep at my breast while nursing and when I would try to gently pull her off, she would anxiously suck – in her sleep – as if she didn’t want to let go.  I loved how it was our first quiet time together, just me and her, when she was born.  I loved how it was our opportunity to escape from the noise and chaos of life.  I loved that I could nourish her and calm her simply by feeding her.

I’m surprisingly at peace with it all.  It may sound dramatic but I thought I would feel more attached and almost be in a state of mourning when she was done.  I think that it speaks volumes that it was two days before I realize she hadn’t asked for milk.  She was okay simply snuggling in with me in the morning instead of feeding. It was the right time for both of us I suppose.

When I got home from work today, she asked for milk.  I had not yet taken off my coat nor hat and so I told her no, not now.  My response didn’t faze her and she simply gave me a hug and told me about her day.  And just like that, I knew it was over.  We were done.




An IKEA Christmas

Two days after and the excitement of Christmas is slowly receding in our home.  With three children, ages 8, 5, and 2, the enthuasism was at an all time high leading up to the 25th.  The kids were so excited that they started to wrap up their own toys and gift them to one another a week before.  A sweet gesture that helped us, as parents, buy time until Christmas morning.


The night before, we set out some homemade cookies, carrots, and almond milk (hey…he could be lactose intolerant!).  We hung our stockings on the mantle.  Maggie fell asleep at 7:30 (truly, she had no idea what was happening…she was simply feeding off her siblings excitement).  Caleigh and Blake decided to sleep on the floor, together, in Blake’s room.  Wrapped up in their sleeping bags, they whispered in anticipation each time they clicked on the button of the Santa Tracker app on the iPad.  Finally, FINALLY, they drifted off to sleep around 8:30.

Then the real fun began.  We quietly went to work and pulled from the garage that which was to be wow factor this Christmas.  A month ago, Caleigh and Blake decided they wanted desks for Christmas.  A strange request, yes, but one that thanks to buying an IKEA kitchen for our cottage earlier this year, could be purchased on gift cards.

For anyone who has attempted to put together IKEA furniture knows, it’s a labour of love patience.  We opened a bottle of wine and emptied the bags of screws, dowels, caps, and allen keys onto the floor.  We knew instantly that what we had hoped would be a two hour project would be much, much longer.  We start to refer to ourselves as “Team Ryan” to boost the enthusiasm.

Blake’s corner desk was first.  Halfway through putting it together (and far beyond a point where we could take it apart), we started to wonder whether or not it would fit through his bedroom door.  Manhandling it up our staircase, that fear was confirmed when we reached his room.  Never mind the obvious detail of him and his sister asleep on the floor.  Shit.

Desk #1 left in the hallway, we go back downstairs for desk #2 which will now be assembled in Caleigh’s room…right next door to our sleeping children.  You would never guess how loud IKEA furniture construction can be until you’re attempting to put it together at 10:00PM on the 24th of December without ruining the magic of Christmas for your children.  Caleigh’s went together fairly easily and we were happy dancing our way around her room (at 10:50) when we realized that the box on the floor stated “Box 1 of 2”.  Deep breath.  Team Ryan went from happy dancing to nearly coming apart at the seams.

The second box, we discovered, was just the top shelving of Caleigh’s desk so in our wine buzz, we decided that it wouldn’t entirely ruin the magic if we put a bow on it and left it under the tree…a present for Mom and Dad to finish putting together on Christmas morning.  Lucky us.  Another glass of wine is poured…and I’m raiding the Christmas cookie plate in the kitchen.

We regrouped and returned to Blake’s desk sitting in the hallway.  The first challenge was to get Caleigh and Blake out of his room so that we could finish assembling it in there.  I carried Caleigh into her room and held my breath as she lifted up her head off of my shoulder and sleepily asked “Has Santa come yet?”.  “No, not yet, sweetie.  Back to sleep.” as I stood beside her new desk, praying she wouldn’t wake up and see her gift from the Big Guy who wasn’t there yet.  Tom took Blake down to our bed and let him sleep there until we were done.

Now to get the damn desk through his door.  We considered taking the door off the hinges but knew it would be loud as a hammer would be needed.  And quite frankly, it seemed like a lot of work and we were really getting tired.  We tried to bring it through upright, upside down, on it’s side, and on eight different angles.  Nothing was working.  Tom thought he knew how to do it.  I thought I knew the way to do it.  It’s possible that we both snapped at one another a couple of times when the other’s ideas didn’t work.  “I knew that wouldn’t work…”  “I told you it wouldn’t go in that way”  The final decision was to partly disassemble the desk.  Has anyone ever tried to disassemble an IKEA desk?  Those dowels don’t like to be removed.  And in the case of this desk, it would clear the doorframe if the damn dowels were removed.  (Time check 11:15PM)

Twenty minutes later, the desk is in the room and ready to be finished.  We’re pushing towards midnight.  And we are fully expecting an early wake up call with three giddy children.  I had long decided that third glass of wine was a bad idea.  My level of patience was waning.  We place the desk in the corner we intended it to go in and realize that the top part of his desk is blocking about 3 inches of the only window in Blake’s room.  I close my eyes and sigh.

“It will be fine.”  says Tom

“It won’t.”  I reply.

“It will.”  He says tersely.

“Nope, no.  Sorry.  I know this sucks.  But we have to shuffle his furniture around.  It’s Christmas.”  I put emphasis on the word Christmas as if my conviction will somehow soften his response.  Not so much.  If looks could kill, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been opening gifts with my kids the next morning.  But, being the awesome husband he is, we move the furniture around to make room for the desk in the opposite corner to where it was supposed to be.  I was actually quite pleased with the new arrangement but thought better of rubbing that in as Tom picked up four more dowels to put together the desk drawers.

Finally, finally…the last screw was tightened.  Time check 12:23.  There’s nothing like taking four hours to assemble IKEA desks for your kids and letting Santa take the credit. We place Blake back in his bed.  We quickly fill the stockings and place the other gifts under the tree.  Lights turned off, we collapse into bed at 12:45.

Fifteen minutes later, I’m awakened by the sound of footsteps running up the hall.  Blake crawls into bed between us, wide awake, and exclaims that there is a new desk in his room!  “Is it time to open the presents yet?”  I may have grunted something inaudible.  Tom rolled over.  It took an hour but he finally got back to sleep.  And the first gift to Tom and I was that each of our children slept long past the anticipated 5AM wake up call.

The look on their faces (kind of) made the night worth it.   The complete bewilderment that Santa or his elves were in their rooms while they were asleep was special.  Of course, the desks needed to be completed and eventually we got around to it.   I may curse IKEA and swear up and down that I will never EVER buy from there again.  But I already know that I forgot to buy chairs to go with the desks and a coat stand that we never used needs to be returned.  Damn you, IKEA, land of easy-to-purchase-not-easy-to-put-together furniture.  We will meet again.

Travelling with a Two Year Old Can Sometimes Suck

Heyyyyyy there.  So great to connect again.  For my out of country readers, I want to share a typical Canadian winter story…I was on this amazing family vacation down in Mexico and within two days of coming home, we got slammed with a massive snowstorm.  I’ve been outside twice today shovelling the walkway, only to come back inside to find another dumping of snow within a couple of hours of the last clean up. I actually don’t mind winter but it definitely came in blustery today!  But let’s focus on the positive. Mexico.  Mex…i….co.  Beautiful.  Warm  Hot.  Sunny.  Beautiful beaches.  And an all-inclusive bar.  It doesn’t get much better than that for a week.  A week of relaxation that was long overdue and very much deserved.  Down time. It was supposed to be complete relaxation with some family fun thrown in.  We had chosen this resort based on the kids club that it boasted thinking, that as in the past, all three kids would love this kids club and want to take part in its activities.  And yes, it was a tremendous kids club.  Except for one glitch.

Maggie wanted no part of it.

I couldn’t get within 20 metres of the door without her clawing at my shoulder and begging me to let her stay with me.  So, by “relaxing vacation” I mean, hanging out 24/7 with my husband and our two-year old, while the older two kids enjoyed the club.  The quality time we had intended to take together was interrupted by a two foot tall blond in a striped swimsuit and baby blue sun hat.

But hanging out with my husband and two-year old on a beautiful beach, taking turns floating with her or building a sandcastle was still magical.  And in reality, even though it didn’t end up the way we intended (there were times that it was a downright gong show), it was still a vacation and it was still amazing.

Here are a few things I learned about travelling with a two-year old.

1)  It doesn’t matter how many distractions I pack to keep her – well – distracted on the plane, she will ignore all of them and insist on climbing over and under her seat.  Multiple times.

2)  With only a one hour time difference, I had hoped for a relatively easy transition into a new bedtime.  I was wrong.

3)  I thought that keeping my two-year old busy all day, in the sun, by making sand castles, swimming, floating, walking, running, climbing, jumping, and swinging would wear her out by bedtime.  I was wrong again.  Instead, she was wired and ready for anything.  Except sitting still at dinner.

4)  Speaking of mealtimes, they’re awful.  Buffets that give a thousand breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices ranging from different proteins to a variety of fruits and vegetables all resulted in a desire for pancakes, french fries, and avocado.  I was all over the avocado…and eventually I caved on the pancakes and french fries.  Because a thrice daily emotional break down in the middle of a busy restaurant didn’t interest me.

5)  The a la carte restaurants were even worse.  At least in the buffets, we could get up easily and walk around.   We tried one a la carte dinner and vowed to not bring her back to a sit down restaurant until she was old enough to drive.

6)  Two year olds are smart.  And when they see other children walking around with popsicles, they realize that there must be – and in fact there is – an “any time you want” popsicle bar.  We visited there a few times.  And admittedly, I was binged on these too.  One can only have so many pina coladas before it grows old.  A fresh orange popsicle tasted mighty fine at 3 in the afternoon.  So do chocolate creamsicles.  Mmmmmmmm.

7)  The all you can eat ice cream bar she found on day 2 was another reason for a meltdown.  Over and over again. We rarely even eat ice cream at home, and certainly not soft serve (gross!).  When I cut her off, she worked her magic on her older sister who was tall enough to work the machine on her own.  An older sister who can easily be swayed by the idea of getting some ice cream herself.  Remember point #6…two year olds are smart.

8)  At night, when she would finally crash, I would look at her and think of how peaceful she was when she slept.  Thumb tucked neatly into her mouth, curled up in a ball.  So sweet.  I’d settle in next to her (because apparently the hotel’s crib wasn’t up to her standards) and we would snuggle and fall restfully to sleep. Then 5AM would hit.  And the peaceful being I slept next to would wake up as the Energizer Bunny.  It didn’t matter what time she went to bed…the wake up call was always 5AM.  Always.

9)  Recounting how the distractions on the way down to Mexico were pointless, I didn’t waste my time gathering books, stuffies, crayons and the like for the plane ride home.  They were there on the rare chance that she did choose to partake but I didn’t hold my breath.  Instead, I just braced myself for a very busy 3.5 hour plane ride home which put us into Toronto at 9PM…two hours past her bedtime.  Surely, she would fall asleep along the way.  And she did!  With twenty minutes to go before landing.  Awesome.

I will likely remember none of these points and insist that next year we try again.  Because she’s cute and sweet and I get sucked into believing that the next time could be – just may be – different.  If at any point I announce plans for a future vacation with the kids, someone please remind me of this post.  Although with another year under her belt, maybe it would be different?  Older, better understanding of good versus not so good behaviour, and better communication skills….so different, right?

I won’t hold my breath.


Growth Spurts

Okay, moms.  I am hoping that you can relate to me here.  Have any of you ever experienced your child’s growth spurt as a result of going through a period of sickness?  I’ve observed this since my kids were young and it seems right now that all three of them are going through this phenomenon.  We have been dealing with some health challenges over the last two weeks, as they cycle through our kids.  All three have had coughs.  As of this morning, now all three have pinkeye (Blake had it last week, it took Caleigh and Maggie out this morning).  Blake didn’t go to school at all last week and obviously this morning, with pinkeye Caleigh is staying home and Maggie won’t be going to daycare.

Since Blake has been under the weather, he has averaged 12 hours of sleep per night.

Caleigh has been going down at 8PM sharp (versus reading in bed until 9 or 9:15).

Maggie has gone to bed earlier and will sometimes sleep as long as twelve hours although this morning she was up bright and early at 4:18.  (I’m on my third cup of tea as of 6:48 AM….)

This morning, I noticed that all three have grown.  They’ve changed.  There is something different about them although I can’t exactly put my finger on it. It’s as if I put them to sleep in one form and they woke up as slightly different, slightly bigger versions of themselves.

Amazing growth spurts aside, to say the least, it’s been a long couple of weeks.  We have been doing everything to help support their bodies.  The kids have been adjusted.  They’ve eaten well (save some treats from Hallowe’en…).  They’ve been resting.  They’ve been taking supplements, drinking water, and using essential oils.  Sometimes though the stress of life can be emotionally overwhelming.  I recognize that we’ve had a lot on the go lately – the girls birthdays, Hallowe’en, a party this weekend to welcome their new baby cousin into the family, and more.

I think the universe is most definitely telling us to slow it down.  Funny thing is that I don’t really feel that we’re going that fast.  Isn’t it interesting how life can sometimes have a different opinion of this?   But life is always changing along with our needs.  So what worked for us in the past in terms of “busy-ness” is no longer serving us now.  I am apparently just not doing a good job of accepting this.

So this morning I cancelled out of the gym, kept my girls home from school and daycare, and just chilled out.  We baked some homemade muffins, watched Tinkerbell: Secret of the Wings (for the twelfth time this month), and while Maggie napped, I helped Caleigh with her homework.  I drank tea (surprise, surprise), wore yoga pants (surprise, surprise), and wrestled with my thoughts as I tried to stay present with my girls.

I had some wise words presented to me via email from one of my mentors this morning.  Maybe the illnesses of my kids was a sign from the Universe to simply do what I was trying to hard to do.  Slow down.  As if the illnesses weren’t enough – this weekend Caleigh fell about 6 feet out of a tree and landed on her back.  A trip to our local hospital and three films later, we ruled out any fracture.  But as if the coughs, pinkeye and runny noses of the last two weeks hadn’t been enough reminder knocks, this was a violent shove at me to encourage me to wake up.  Huh.

Now, to just to do that.  To shelve the less important things in favour of the things that matter the most.  I thought I had been doing that but maybe not enough?  Once again I find myself working through the internal struggle of wanting to be a mom and wanting to do my other work.  Tuesday mornings are usually my mornings to get in a workout and then get some writing done prior to going in to the office to see patients.  Here’s my guilty admission:  I love being able to take care of my kids when they need me but after a few days and certainly after almost two weeks of it, I start to long for the ability to do my work.  It’s an internal pull in me  and there are days I can’t decide what I want to do more.  Sometimes too, I think that I’ve chosen to take so much on in my life that I forget what it is like to just life live a bit more simply.  I have forgotten how to minimize, if not completely avoid, the chaos and the drama.  But each step I take in that direction, life feels better.

So just like my kids, I’m having a growth spurt.  Not physically but instead, emotionally and spiritually.  I’m choosing less quantity in favour of more quality.  I’m choosing to focus solely on the things that make me most happy and prioritize those above everything else.  I’m choosing to clarify exactly what it is I want.  I also choose to trust that this process will guide me towards the ideal life that I’ve envisioned for myself.

The big question though becomes: Am I willing to let go of things in order to trust in this process?


A Lesson for Blake or a Lesson for Me?

So today was one of the hard Mama moments in life.  Blake, who is now 5 years old, had made a decision that he did not want to go to school this morning.  It may have had something to do with the fact that we had to take down his blanket fort in order to have his room cleaned.  It may have had something to do with a long weekend full of fun and family and food.  Or it may just have been that he didn’t want to go to school.

I literally (LITERALLY) had to drag him out from under his bed (damn you, MALM bed from IKEA for having such a perfect hiding spot for children built right into you!).  He whined.  Kicked.  Whimpered.  He didn’t want any part of going to school.  He wouldn’t put on his shoes.  He wouldn’t put on his jacket.  We were late so my patience was growing thin.  I tried reasoning.  I explained that part of being a kid is to go to school.  Mommy and Daddy go to work, you go to school.  This is where you learn new things, play with your friends, and have fun experiences.

There was nothing I could say or do that was going to make school look any better to him today.

When we arrived at school, he dragged his feet to the kindergarten spot.  He put up every resistance.  Gave me every reason why he shouldn’t have to go to school, namely being that he just didn’t want to.  And that is when it started.  The tears.  The large, pleading tears and a quivering lip with the words “Mama, I just don’t want to go.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want to go to school.”

My heart broke.  He brought me to my knees just like that.

I looked up to see one of his kindergarten teachers at the gate.  I smiled, despite the feeling of my stomach hitting the ground, and quietly explained that Blake was having a rough start to his day and didn’t want to be at school.  At this point, the tears were streaming down his cheeks.  She smiled back, with an understanding nod, and got down to his level.

“Blake, tell me about Thanksgiving.  Tell me how your weekend was!”

Nothing.  He didn’t look at her.  He just kept quietly crying.  I could tell he was trying to hide it.  Trying not to show his friends that he didn’t want to be here.  Trying not to show how vulnerable he was at that moment.  So hard for a little guy who is quiet to begin with.

“Blake, why don’t you come with me.  We’ll walk together to our room.”  She gently took his arm, trying to reach for his hand.  But he just kept looking at me with wide eyes that were welling over.  He reached out for me and grasped my legs, almost pinching them in desperation to not go to his classroom.

And at this point, I became a Mom puddle.  I got down at his level, gave him a big hug.  Partly to comfort him and partly so that he wouldn’t see how upset I was.  He wouldn’t let go.  He pleaded with me to not make him go.  Asked me to let him stay with me for the day.  The tears kept flowing, and he choked them back.  I swallowed hard.

said “Blake, it’s going to be okay.  You need to go to school today and I’ll see you at dinnertime.  Daddy will pick you up at the end of the day.  You’re going to be okay.  I love you but I have to go.”  

And I stood up.  It took every ounce of strength to take a step back from him.  He looked up at me, defeated.  He knew he was going to school.  He slowly turned, still crying, and walked with his teacher, who knew that this was just as painful for me as it was for him.  But Blake didn’t know that.  I’m sure he just thought I didn’t care enough to bring him home.  But what he doesn’t yet realize is that I care too much to bring him home.  It’s such a fine line that I walk sometimes.  That line drawn between wanting to embrace them through every hard lesson and stepping back, allowing them to learn the lesson on their own.

I watched as he walked to the class.  His shoulders were forward, his head down.  The conversation in my head was just as difficult as watching him walk away.

“Would he be okay?  Will they call if he’s still upset?  Will anyone make fun of him for crying?  Does he know I love him?  Is he mad at me right now?”

I made my way back to my car and texted my girlfriend, a mom of two boys.  She put me at ease, kind of.  We all have those moments, she assured me.  It feels really, really awful.  Like shitty awful.  Feeling like a bad mom.  Feeling like I’m not able to be there for my son.  Feeling like I’ve let him down.

I kind of got over it.  I went to the gym.  I got my grocery shopping done.  Tom got home and over lunch I told him what had happened.  It was still gnawing at me.  I hadn’t heard from the school so I’m sure he was fine but that uneasy feeling of now knowing how he was wouldn’t go away.  And then my phone rang and the name of the school was on the caller ID.  It was his teacher, calling to reassure me that while he was incredibly quiet, waiting for the bell to ring, once inside he was himself.  He was talking with his buddies.  He answered questions about his weekend.  He was back to being Blake.

I know these lessons in life are as important for me as they are for my kids.  I just disliked going through this one as much as Blake did.  I can’t wait to get home tonight, give him a big hug, and rebuild his fort.  I want to build the warmest, coziest, pillow and blanket fort we can. Because there’s a part of me that knows it will make both of us feel better.



Short but sweet, on this beautiful Thanksgiving Sunday.

photo 2

“I am thankful for a lovely house.  I am thankful for a nice healthy meal.  I am thankful for a warm bed to sleep in at night.  I am thankful for a bit and healthy life.  I am thankful for a safe trip to school.  I am thankful for my big caring family.”

I, Caleigh, am thankful that you are such a thoughtful, sweet, caring daughter.

Pretty big heart for an almost eight year old.

Happy Thanksgiving.

My Six Step Punch to Knock Out Colds

Hi there!  I feel like I’m coming out of this hole that I’ve been living in for the last two weeks.  There’s been a lot of excitement with my nephew being born  and getting back to routine in September.  Sandwiched in-between those two events was this nagging sense of not getting things done, being disconnected from the world due to lack of internet at home, and this after-summer cold that my family has been hanging onto for a few weeks now.  It went from one person to the next and seems to be working its way out of our home (finally)!

I was sharing our story of this persistent cold/”viral thing”/”congestive annoyance” with another family in our office and they asked one of the most common questions I get in practice.  “What do you do for your family to beat infections?”

This is a topic that I’m very passionate about.  I’m a Mom (first and foremost) and I’m also a Chiropractor, who has a special interest in taking care of myself and my family as naturally and holistically as possible.  And I like to share what I have learned with others because over the years I have connected with so many amazing families, headed by mamas who are doing everything they can to support their family’s health with as little medical intervention as possible.

So, before I answer the question “What do I do for my family to beat infections?”, let me share some of my beliefs so that you understand why it is what I do.

1.  Your body (and those of your children) is intelligent.  The human body will always pick the perfect response to stress that it encounters.  For example, if your 3 year old daughter gets a virus then her body will do whatever it has to do in order to kill the virus.  It will raise its internal body temperature (read: get a fever) in order to destroy the virus as it tries to multiply.  Viruses love normal body temperature, they do not like higher than normal body temperature and will die off as a fever is produced.  Also, it will create an increase in mucous in order to rid the body of the virus.  Hence the gunk that is coughed out of lungs and the stuffy, runny noses that are draining.  Pretty smart of her body, right?

2.  Infections are a Normal and Healthy Part of Being Human  When we “get sick”, it’s not always a bad thing.  I have to look at a few things to determine whether or not this is my own fault out of conscious (or subconscious) thought and action OR if simply, this is my body (or my children’s bodies) growing a better defence system.  What do I mean?  I mean that if I’m burning the candle at both ends – not sleeping well, not exercising, not eating whole foods, not getting adjusted as often as my body needs, etc. – then I’m likely setting my body up for an infection.  It’s energy stores are depleted. I can’t possibly expect for my body to ward off a cold or flu if I haven’t been properly taking care of it.

The second part of this is that getting sick can simply be a way for my child’s immune system to expand and get stronger.  Childhood infections of any kind are a great way to test, grow, and support the immune system.  If we never got sick, then we wouldn’t have a heightened immune system to protect us against future infections.  When we take medication or give our kids medication, it doesn’t allow for their bodies to properly and completely internalize the infection, build an immune response against it, and heal from it.  As a result, when future infections hit, the body is less prepared and more likely to get knocked down even harder.  Interesting concept, yes?

This all being said, when I or my husband or my kids are sick, it sucks.  None of us enjoy being sick.  It affects the whole family too.  It impacts our ability to do what we want.  It impacts our ability to work.  It impacts our ability to play.  I respect the whole process that the body has to go through when it’s healing from a sickness, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t sideline our lives.  Prevention is key but let’s be honest, even with the most organized plan to stay well, we still get sick.  So, let me share with you what it is we do once “something” sets in.

My Six Step Punch to Knock Out Infections

1.  Get adjusted!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Regular Chiropractic care is crucial to supporting a imageshealthy nervous system AND immune system.  The nervous system is the master control system of your body and directly affects how your immune system functions.  If there is interference to your nervous system then there will be interference in your immune system (read: your immunity is working at less than 100%).  Get adjusted.  Regularly for preventative reasons and to stay well…and then yes, when you feel like your immune system has been compromised, get checked immediately!

2.  Essential Oils  A relatively new addition to our family’s toolbox but one that I can’t believe we lived without up until the beginning of this summer.  I use DoTERRA oils and I’ve been amazed at how well they work.  Their purpose is not to “treat” your infection, but support your body through it.  That being said, I was shocked the other night when I used a couple of drops of OnGuard and immediately my sinuses cleared after hours of being congested. Find out how to order them for your own family.


  • OnGuard – An incredible immune support oil.  It’s Wild Orange combined with clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  I put a couple of drops under my tongue (very spicy, like oregano oil but wow, does it work!), put a drop on each of the soles of my feet, and dilute 3-4 drops in a tablespoon of coconut oil and massage it into the areas that need support (bridge of nose if nasal congestion, chest if coughing, across throat if sore, behind ears if sore, etc.)
  • Lemon – I add 1-2 drops in each glass of water I drink.  Another great oil for immune support.
  • Helichrysum – Helps to support healing.  I take 1-2 drops (with or without a carrier oil, depending on level of sensitivity…I use a carrier oil for my kids) and place it on the soles of feet and into areas that need extra support (see above with OnGuard).
  • Breathe – great to use if congested and having trouble breathing (also great support for allergies, asthma, and other breathing challenges!)
  • Peppermint & Lavender– We often don’t get fevers but when we do, they hit hard!  Fever has its place but it makes it very difficult to sleep, especially for young ones.  I will take 2 drops of peppermint & 2 drops of lavender & mix it in 1 tsp of carrier oil.  Rub onto soles of feet, back of neck, and down their spine.  It creates a cooling sensation that isn’t meant to kill the fever, just make it more manageable to live with.

3. Drink Liquids  So great to stay hydrated!  Water, water with lemon and warm tea (or even warm water) are images-1all easy ways to get fluids in.  Bone broth works by bringing oxygen to the cells that need it.  I make homemade bone broth once a month and then freeze it in small portions (1/4 cup sizes…or use an ice cube tray to make individual portions).  Simmer different bones (oxtails, bones of fish,  chickens, cows, etc. – just make sure they are organic!) in water for days (I stick it all in a slow cooker for up to 72 hours).  Breast milk for those who are still breastfeeding is exceptional for immune system support.

4.  Tone It Down  Hardest part especially for the “go go go” types like myself.  But it’s crucial to get into a quiet place.  Stay home.  Snuggle up on the couch or in bed.  Watch a movie.  Play quietly.  Read books.  Draw.  Our lives are so busy usually that for us, we really need to focus on just being as still as possible.

5.  Avoid Sugar and Dairy  Sugar is a feast for viruses and bacteria.  Eliminate it asap (it’s not good for us anyhow!).  Dairy is a congestant.  It will create more mucous than what is necessary.  So getting rid of all dairy products is a second nutritional change that has to be made the moment we are fighting something.

6.  The 24 Hour Rule   Did you go to bed with a fever and wake up feeling great?  Well, you’re likely not out of the woods yet.  The rule in our home is 24 hours without fever before heading back out into life.  It’s too easy for infections to rear their ugly heads again.  Your body is still processing!  I know that life is there and needs your attention – but I promise you it will still be there tomorrow.  Work from home, if you can.  Putter around the house.  Go for an easy walk outside.  But lay low for an extra day to avoid delaying proper healing.

So there you go!  That’s what we do to beat infections in our home.  Hopefully this helps you discover what works best for your family.