Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Having it All - Life as a Modern Momma

There are so many blog posts and articles about having it all. About achieving work life balance. About how moms in particular struggle to achieve the elusive equilibrium that allows them to have fulfilling careers, time with their kids and families, time to work-out and stay in shape, time to volunteer at their kid’s schools and time to be a great partner and wife.  These articles provide tips and tricks to make it happen, they provide  encouragement for letting go of expectations and the guilt associated with feeling like you should have it all, and they provide a shared perspective and camaraderie among moms.

But what does having it all look like? I admit that I always imagined myself with an ‘important’ job, a job where I would be missed and where I couldn’t be easily replaced. I imagined myself staying fit and continuing to hit up the gym and running and fitness classes. I imagined myself throwing Pinterest worthy kid’s birthday parties and cheering on little league soccer and hockey games. I imagined myself as the type of wife that takes care of the household effortlessly while also getting meals on the table every night. I think the key word here is imagined.

Fast forward to real life with a toddler. I have an admin job that doesn’t even come close to utilizing my skills or education, or ignite my passions. But it’s easy. It’s a 9-5 without ever being expected to do overtime. I have great benefits and lots of vacation time and I go home at the end of the day and don’t stress about work. I am never caught up on laundry, my house almost always needs to be cleaned, and I rarely have fancy meals on the table. I try to do weekly meal prep and keep the house tidy but I inevitably am always falling behind. I go to the gym a few times a week but often the intensity to do an actually hard work-out just isn’t there. While I have Pinterest boards pinned and have lots of ideas, parties and events tend to get thrown together at the last minute with some streamers and a boxed cake.

I have one child, and a stress-free low maintenance easy job. And yet home life still suffers from there mere fact that I am out of the house all day. It makes me wonder how having a job with more responsibility and more stress and longer hours might impact this further. Would having a job I’m passionate about make me more productive at work and at home?  What’s the saying…love your work and you won’t work a day in your life? Something like that.

I just got offered a new job. A job I am hesitantly excited about. It will be challenging. It will potentially require more hours at work. It will likely mean thinking about work when I’m home. It’s not exactly in my field but it’s closer than my current job. It’s a career instead of a job. I’m excited but terrified at the same time. And while it sounds like this might take away from home life, I actually think it will enhance it. It will hopefully get me one step closer to the elusive balance we all seek. 

Despite the dishes in the sink, the muddy paw prints on the floor and the Mount Everest of laundry that never seems to shrink, home is a pretty great place to be these days. This is one step closer to my imagined version of having it all. In ten years I'll be glad I took the risk and made myself a priority by going after my career aspirations as well as my family goals.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Love Where You Live

What a wonderfully productive and summery weekend here! This weekend reminded me why I love summer so much, and how amazing Hay River can be.

Friday night we had some friends over to celebrate Chris’ birthday next week and a friend’s birthday a few weeks ago. We BBQed burgers, smokies and hot dogs and hung out on the deck way past ours, and the kid’s bedtimes. The kids played and ran around the yard together, and the adults sipped beverages and had some laughs. It was so nice having a few of our ‘family’ friends over!  Most of our friends haven’t hit the baby stage yet and while I like to think we’re still young and ‘cool’, having a toddler is a total game changer when it comes to structuring social events. Having a few friends with kids makes it so much easier to host and attend toddler friendly functions without being the only ones with a toddler in tow. And as a bonus, all the kids get along great!

Saturday we took the boat out for the first time this year. We ordered pizza and had a floating pizza party with my sister and her guy. And of course Max and Penny came too. We went up river hoping to jump out at this little tiny beach (aka sandbar) that’s in the middle of nowhere so Max could play and we could hang out but the water was too high and it was nowhere to be found! The river gets ridiculously low in the summer since it’s usually pretty dry up here. This year though, we’ve had TONS of rain, which is great for boating and forest fire prevention.  We headed back down river onto the lake to find some sand and then headed home before the rain hit. We stopped to fish for a bit but had no luck catching anything for supper. It's still a bit early for fishing the river.

Floating Pizza Party!
Penny :)

Sunday was rainy and dreary out. We had a super lazy morning but then ended up hitting up Home Hardware to get painting supplies.  We’re painting our master bedroom and I’m so excited! It’s a dirty beige right now and we’re lightening it up with a light mint / turquoise-y colour. Slowly and surely our house is being fixed up room by room.  There’s still a lot to do, but a fresh coat of paint goes a long way! It finally cleared up after supper time so we put air in the bike tires and had our first family bike ride of the year. It was a leisurely pace, I’m counting it towards triathlon training ha!
After a weekend like this I am reminded how amazing it is to live in the Canada's North. Our backyards are rivers and woods and trails and lakes. So much of our neighborhoods are untouched by humans and are still in their pristine, natural state. We don't have traffic or smog. The mosquitos are a different kind of problem ;) I couldn't help but think how fortunate we are to raise Max in a place where he gets to go boating and biking and swimming and fishing and dirt biking and skidooing on a regular basis. We are minutes to the beach and I can already see how our love for the active outdoors has permeated Max. 

And now it’s Monday, the start to another work week. With rain in the forecast for the week I don’t mind being stuck in an office all day.  This week should be a fun week full of triathlon training and time spent at home with my boys. I’m also hoping to hear about a job I interviewed for last week…fingers crossed! 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!

I'm so excited for the weekend! We're hoping to cross some things off our Summer 2016 Bucket list and spend time outside. And the best part? Chris is home from the mine this weekend! Weekends are just way more fun when he's home. Plus it's his first set home of the summer and his first set home as my husband! I have a wedding post planned but I'm still waiting on a few more pictures to come back from the photographer (aka Poppa Parkes).

Our plans for the weekend include a BBQ with friends tonight, boating, yard work and hitting up the beach with the toddler and the puppy.

So to celebrate Friday, here are some of my favorite things over the past week!


Max Enjoying a Kale and Avocado Smoothie. It's his favorite way to consume tons of leafy green things.

Waiting for Dad's plane to land. He decided to bring toy planes with him, one for each hand. It's crazy how much he understands now! 

Gardening his Auntie Ally. He's super helpful..for about 30 seconds. Rose bushes for days!

How I feel about my running buddy here in Hay River. Please note I am more often the dog of the duo. I laughed out loud when I saw this and it still makes me smile.

Some miscellaneous perennials I've got blooming. Anyone know the name of them? I'm sure I bought them last year. Why didn't I keep that plastic stick thing?

Spring Tulips! Tulips always remind me of Mothers Day. We used to pick yellow tulips out of my moms garden for her.


How the over glorification of motherhood hurts us all

Why I'm not trying to raise an exceptional child

10 truths of motherhood from a fathers perspective

My kids watch way to much TV and I don't Care

Signs of life

10 ways to make (and keep) friendships as an adult

A Place Called Freedom by Ken Follett (an audio-book I'm listening to and really enjoying! He's my favorite author!)

When you lose weight, where does it actually go?


All things rhubarb! I made these Rhubarb muffins this week and they've been a hit with the whole family.

I've also been munching on these protein pancakes and Max loves them too. I usually add some kale or spinach to them as well to up Max man's vegetable intake.  It was a recipe I found on Carrots n' Cake which I loosely followed and can't seem to find again.  It's nice to have a protein pancake recipe that doesn't require protein powders. They're expensive and not something I want to feed to Max all that often since they can have weird additives or sweeteners.

Oatmeal Protein Pancakes
In a blender, combine: 1 egg, 1 banana, 1/3-1/2 cup rolled oats, a handful of leafy greens (kale or spinach are my favorites).
Blend until smooth, pour into a frying pan and cook like a normal pancake! Top with fruit, yogurt, maple syrup, jam or whatever your heart desires.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Virtual Coffee Date

Hello Friends!

If we were having coffee today, I’d hope it wasn’t at the new lunch deli in town. My beloved She Takes the Cake CafĂ© has drastically reduced their hours and don’t open until 10:30am.  The new place opens at 7 so this morning I swung by to grab a latte on my way to work as a treat.  It’s not delicious. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to finish all $5.25 worth of it, but I’m not sure I’d order fancy coffee from there again.  Although in their defense, they are a) newish and b) they had donuts. I didn’t try one but donuts are the new cupcake so I applaud their trendy baking ways and will one day eat a donut and provide proof on Instagram that I’m trendy too.

If we were having coffee this morning, I’d tell you that I waiver between wanting to actually do this blog thing and giving up on it completely. Part of me wants to go all in, and get a real URL (sorry blogspot, you’re just not really legit anymore), some linked social media accounts, actually try to get some readership and consistently blog some real content that people might actually want to read. And then I think that I’ve been writing for the past month or so knowing that literally NOBODY is reading this, so what’s the point? Do I have to be all in or all out? Or can I just write here for the sake of it? I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to taking it on for reals, or being vulnerable and having my thoughts / writing advertised to the whole world. Do I even have anything worth reading to write? Anyways, I’m thinking about it. Pre-contemplation for all of my ‘stages of change’ peeps.

If we were having coffee this morning I’d tell you how excited I am for Chris to get home today! I miss that guy. Home is just so much better when he’s there. I love watching him with Max because they are actually best buds. I love working on house and yard projects together. He works so hard, and even when he’s home he literally never stops all day long. It’s also his birthday and Father’s Day this set out so there are extra things to celebrate! And the river is high this year which means we’ll get out on the boat and go to the beach and maybe even go camping.

If we were having coffee this morning I’d tell you how nervous and excited I am for a job interview I have tomorrow! It’s for a position as the food service manager at the hospital here in town. It’s a big job (19 staff, 3 kitchens) and I feel like it’s out of my league. But I do have internship experience as a food service manager and it’s technically a dietitian position. I’m so excited at the idea of being challenged at work again! And using my RD skills which have been in ‘retirement’ since I went on Maternity leave. But it’s scary too! This job will look amazing on a resume for when we’re ready to leave the North and I know I will learn so much doing this job.  But there will be a learning curve. I’m sure I’ll make a lot of mistakes along the way. I’ve always worked in Public Health since moving here and I’ll be sad to leave my co-workers here and work across town. I’m not sure I feel completely qualified either. But I still need to make it through the interview – I’ll keep you posted! Wish me luck!

If we were having coffee this morning I’d tell you about my garden! I’m a newbie gardener but I feel like I’m keeping things alive this year! I’m trying to create a self-sustaining low-maintenance garden full of perennials. I have way more in my garden then I thought I did! And see things bloom makes me so happy! I spent all weekend transplanting some stuff, making my baskets and cleaning up the yard and I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself.  I still have some big shrubs to move and want to buys some more flowering perennials and annuals to fill in some spots but so far so good! I also need to figure out the names of all the plants I have so I know what I’ve got. I’m hoping for some delphiniums this year and I just had some yellow poppies bloom yesterday for the first time! I should write a post on my garden but it’s pretty amateur right now!If we were having coffee I’d tell you that I started triathlon training last week.  So far I’ve got 3 runs and a bike ride under my belt.  This weeks plan: Monday-off, Tuesday-6 km run, Wednesday-45 min swim, Thursday-10 min bike, 5 km run, Friday-40 min Bike, Saturday-off, Sunday-something…not sure what.  I don’t have a structured plan yet but I have a friend working on one for me.

Have the most fabulous day! Coffee dates are my favorite J

Friday, June 3, 2016

Summer 2016 Bucket List

Summer is here! Hay River's annual track and field championships finished up this afternoon which means that summer officially starts TODAY in the North. It's a generally known truth that it's not safe to plant anything in your gardens until after track and that it won't be consistently warm until after track.  So I guess it's safe to say that track is our first day of summer, and I could not be more thrilled.  It was a long winter this year. I have been celebrating by spending the last few evenings pulling weeds and doing yard work and spending as much time as possible outside.

I was thinking about this summer and all the events and activities I am so looking forward to this year.  This summer is particularly exciting because Max is at an age where he understands more and finds so much JOY in all the little things. Everything will be new and exciting for him this year.  All of the family centered activities in town that we never fully participated in are now events to look forward to bringing Max to.

And since I'm actually obsessed with lists and have a million lists on the go at any given time, I present you with (drum roll...) my Summer 2016 Bucket List! I'm looking forward to crossing things off and adding more to it as the summer goes on.  This will be displayed in full force on my fridge all summer :)

Lots of fun things planned! I started training for the town's Sprint Triathlon this week so that's my major summer fitness goal. Otherwise I want to enjoy summer in the North to it's fullest! That means hanging at the beach, in the boat, fishing, camping, quading, bonfires. 

Can't wait!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Rio Olympics and Zika: Perspectives

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) released their public health advice regarding the Olympics and Zika virus. Based on their assessment, they stated that changing the location of the Olympics wouldn’t really change the spread of the virus since either way, there will be thousands of people travelling between Zika affected countries. While Brazil is definitely one of the more prominently affected areas for the Zika outbreak, it’s only one of 60 countries that have reported transmission of the virus by mosquitos.

Based on the WHO press release, the best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice. There is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games.

The WHO travel advice for anyone considering travel to the Olympics includes:
·         Pregnant women not to travel to areas with ongoing Zik virus transmission.  Their sex partners returning from areas with circulating virus should practise safer sex or abstain throughout pregnancy
·         Follow travel advice provided by their countries’ health authorities
·         Whenever possible, protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents and light coloured clothing
Practice safer sex or abstain during their stay and for at least 8 weeks after their return
·         Choose air conditioned accommodation where windows and doors are kept closed
·         Avoid visiting areas in cities and towns with no piped water or poor sanitation where the risk of being bitten by mosquitos is higher

With the Olympics and Paralympics kicking off in just 2 short months, many health experts have petitioned to have the games cancelled or postponed in fear of the virus spreading further and affecting poorer countries with inadequate health systems. I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue recently as I now have a background in both high performance sport and public health. I happen to know some of the canoe/kayak athletes competing in Rio and have been following both their journeys to qualifying and the epidemiological spread of Zika.

From a public health perspective, it appears to be a bit of a disaster. Despite the fact that Zika has already been transmitted in 60 countries across the world, having thousands and thousands of people travelling to a high risk area and then travelling home again is going to nothing but spread the virus further. Yes people travel globally every day and the virus will spread that way regardless. But this is an event that attracts thousands of people from almost every country on the planet. Zika isn’t the only public health issue with the Rio Olympics. It’s important to remember that money being funnelled towards the games could have been used  to help develop infrastructure, better schools and housing and to fund social programs that are so badly needed by the Brazilian population. And what about spending some of that money on their health care system to help support the families who have already been affected by Zika or have given birth to children with microcephaly?

Image result for Rio Olympics zikaFrom an athlete’s perspective, there is no way the games should be postponed or cancelled.  These athletes have worked so hard to qualify. For many of them, it’s a life-long dream come true to compete at the games. I can’t imagine being stripped of that opportunity.  I think it’s the athletes’ jobs to be informed about the risks, to be responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and to choose for themselves whether or not they participate.  Unfortunately, the health of our global population could potentially be reliant on these few taking the appropriate precautions during the games and once they return home. I think some responsibility also lies within the International Olympic committee to ensure that athletes are equipped with all the resources they need to stay safe. Bug repellent, air conditioned dormitories, condoms, etc.

If I were the WHO what would I recommend? It’s hard to say. While the Olympics and Paralympics are a really huge event, it’s definitely not the only international event drawing thousands of people that will be happening this summer. I’m not really sure they were ever in a position to actually cancel the games. I think they have done their job; they have provided athletes and the public a list of recommendations and have outlined the risks clearly. This is true for anyone travelling to one of the 60 countries affected. There has to be some personal responsibility involved in protecting ourselves. My hope is that these recommendations are practiced and the spread after the games isn’t substantial.  I also hope that Zika doesn’t taint the Olympic experience for those athletes who have worked so hard to get there.