Things I Love Thursday! Holiday Prep Edition

The holiday season is upon us and if you celebrate Christmas you may have already started trimming the tree and hanging the lights, if not, chances are you’re getting ready to!

Sitting by the tree last night I was thinking about what I love about the lead up to the Big Day! Thus, this edition of TILT (Things I Love Thursday) was born!

First of all, I love love love being able to really change the look of my home decor for this one beautiful season! Adding in poinsettias as a pop of color with their beautiful red hues. Twinkling lights in places that are normally just a part of the everyday structure. Sprigs of holly, pine cones and personal momentos from the holidays we collect each year.

Adding to the full on transformation of the regular is the addition of beautiful Christmas tree (or trees) ! The ambiance of the lights, coupled with the fresh smell of pine lingering in every crevice of the house instantly triggers Christmas spirit for this girl! I love trimming a tree with my girls with all their fun ornaments and ones that were mine in my youth as well. Their anticipatory excitement and joy as we reminisce of years gone by or debate who gifted who which ornament. It’s the hot chocolate moustaches and candy cane kisses that make this mama so happy!

Next, I love the “fancy tree”. There tree that I get to decorate in ribbon and beautiful bulbs and the most treasured ornaments. The one that is the centrepiece of my holiday decor. The one that allows me a little OCD in the midst of the merriment and chaos. The one I sit in front of, with a glass of red, and wrap presents with my hubby. I LOVE that tree.

I also love the sense of community during this time! Tree lighting ceremonies and holiday parades! Children’s Christmas concerts and holiday parties! We are given so many opportunities to connect with our friends, neighbours, coworkers and families. That is a gift in and of itself! I love that people who we think of often but hardly speak to send cards and letters and we do the same. I love the warm fuzzy feeling I get in my whole heart when I open a card or an email from a friend.

And lastly, what I love most about holiday prep is knowing that in just a few short weeks, we will all be enjoying time with family. Not just a few minute or an evening, but serious, quality time with the people we love most. We will make memories; Eat too much food; Drink too much wine. We will laugh until we cry and we will cry for those we miss or who are no longer with us. We will have lazy mornings and bustling evenings! So really, what I am saying is that what I love most about holiday prep is the beauty of the season in general. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Things I Love Thursday : Disneyland Edition

It’s Thursday again and I am back from vacation, ready to share with you my LOVE for all things Disney! More specifically, Disneyland California because to do a list about Disney as a whole would take a LONG time and I’m not sure I’d be able to narrow it down !!

Last week we had our first visitors from home and we had a helluva week! But we kicked off our family vacation in style with two days at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure!

One of the things I Love most about Disneyland/California Adventure is that they are quite literally in the same area! With Park Hopper passes you could literally go back and forth all day long! It’s just a hop skip and a jump across an open ticket purchase area (also a great place to see the fireworks) and boom! You’re in the other park! This makes it convenient to be on Splash Mountain one minute and Seeing Elena of Avalor make her Grand Arrival right after!

My next favorite thing about Disneyland was that we got to meet Moana!!!! Ok so, she may make appearances at Disneyworld as well, but when we were in Florida she wasn’t there yet! This made my girls over the moon excited!! Heck, I even posed for a photo with her I was so pumped!!!

Another Disneyland exclusive that I LOVE is the fact that you can actually explore Sleeping Beauty’s castle and relive her infamous story as you go! I loved this! It had an old school feel but the fact that I was “in the Castle” was tremendous!

Speaking of the castle, can we talk about the Christmas Lights?!?! This Castle was exquisite at night! It looked as though Elsa had worked her frosty magic on Sleeping Beauty’s home and it was absolutely breathtaking! What a backdrop for the amazing fireworks show at night! Beyond beautiful!! And heck, it even snowed!!

Another ride that I LOVED all decked out for the holiday season was Its A Small World! This ride is definitely not usually on my “must do” list but holy moly it is spectacular all lit up for the holiday! I have never in my life seen that many Christmas lights in one place! Disney does Christmas right!!! They mean it when they say “the holidays start here”! Just wow!!!

A Disney staple, no matter which park you’re at, is the Dole Whip! Pineapple soft serve deliciousness!! I literally had one for breakfast on our second day there! Yummmmmy!

California Adventure has its own fun for all ages! But one of my favorite parks of that park is the fact that you can have an adult beverage while you walk around!!! Yes friends, beer, wine, spirits! Cheers to some adult fun! I had a Mimosa Flight for the evenings water spectacular show and it was sooooo good! The best part, no one seems to take it too far and the adults can enjoy a bit of grown up fun or take the edge off a busy day!

And speaking of the nighttime entertainment at California Adventure park – the water spectacular set to music is stunning! It is a breathtaking display of classic Disney images on hundreds of water “spouts” that shoot into the air up to hundreds of feet high!! It was beautiful and even brought me to tears at one point! Kids and adults both loved it! Pro Tip: get a spot on the bridge facing the Ferris wheel if you can – it will be worth the wait!

And last but not least, my favorite ride this time had to be Grizzly River Run! A wild trip in a tube for 8 people down a river rapids was both fun, exhilarating and we laughed so hard we had tears!!! All of us thoroughly enjoyed it and the best part was that we all got to do it together!!!

So that’s it guys, my round up of favorites from Disneyland and I will carry the memories from this last trip with some super special Friends who are Family, for the rest of my life! And that is truly magical!

Have a magical day!

~M~

Things I Love Thursday

This week has been full of house cleaning, kids with colds, packing for vacation and did I mention kids with colds ?!? So no big blog post from me this week but I cannot let the week pass without a “Things I LOVE” post!

This week I have also been on a DIY roll making shirts for our #halitocali #friendswhoarefamily trip to Disneyland! That being said, the first thing I am loving this week is my CRICUT!

This machine can make everything from cards to iron on “decals”, wall art, and personalize your decor! It cuts multiple types of fabric, paper and vinyl and you can create pro quality items all from the comfort of your own home! The best part … they are completely customizable! I’m not the craftiest of mamas but this machine keeps my DIY game strong!

The next thing I am LOVIN’ on this week is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, This Is Us. I know I am one in a bazillion people who LOVES this show, but honestly I am moved by it in so many ways. Lets go back to the Pilot episode…FREAKING EPIC?! Am I right? I was blown away but the entire thing and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better for a Pilot…BOOOM! The end twist was beyond words! I rewatched it recently with my hubby who had never seen it and it was torture not to tell him the big ended and to watch his reaction was priceless! He was floored and never saw it coming!

The shows writers and creative team are incredible and impress every.single.week. And while I could go on an on about all of the episodes I LOVE, I am particularly  loving the show this week because not only was it moving and heart wrenchingly beautiful, it continues to address challenging topics and gets people talking about them. This is the part of the show that almost makes it hard to watch. In my life, my husband and I lost a child at her birth, and the episodes that address this topic are so honest, that I almost don’t want to watch, but when I do, its almost therapeutic as it allows us to have healthy conversations as a couple and with our peers about the hardest thing we have ever coped with in our lives. Others may feel that way about the topics of racism, alcoholism, obesity, love, relationship, family dynamics, and so on and so forth. If it isn’t obviously already, I LOVE this show and each week I laugh, I cry, I am forced to think and reflect, and I am ultimately entertained.

Lastly, this week I’m gonna show some love to the beautiful people we are so thankful to have in our lives. Facebook, FaceTime, Skype, SnapChat, Insta, emails, texts, Whats App, are allowing us to feel close to home when in fact we are so so so far away. THis weekend we have some of our closest friends visiting for a week and this week we also booked  flights for my mom and step dad to join us for almost 3 weeks at Christmas! This is so exciting! We will be able to show people where we live, a little peek at our day to day here in Cali. We will also be able to make some amazing memories and spend quality time with people we love! Cherish the time you have with people, it is precious and priceless. Live in the moment, laugh so hard it hurts, and show love to those who you love. Embrace kindness and dish it out endlessly. And finally, allow yourself to be happy and fulfilled. Thats what makes life beautiful, people.

Have a wonderful week!!!

 

~M~

Things I Love Thursday: MilSpouse Edition

In light of Remembrance Day & Veterans Day, I am feeling all the love for being a military spouse. I always feel UBER patriot and BEYOND proud of the work my husband does as an Active Duty Military Member. I was also reminded today to be proud of the “work” I do as a Military Spouse (MilSpouse). And let’s be honest, some times it is “WORK”, damn hard work to be a Milspouse.

That being said my friends, I dedicate this weeks Things I Love Thursday to the things I LOVE about being the spouse of a military member.

I’ll start with the light stuff. I LOVE my “man in uniform”! Daayyyum! The Dress Uniform specifically is always a sight for sore eyes. But honestly, I enjoy the daily uniform as well. There is something innately sexy about the uniform. They way my spouse carries himself in uniform, the underlying “hero” aura that it gives, and I think I may have had a crush on GI Joe as a little girl. Walking on the arm of my spouse in uniform, is an amazing feeling! So, it may sound like its all about vanity or whatever, but in all honestly,  that is definitely one of my favorite  things about being a MilSpouse.

Lets dig a little deeper though. I LOVE the adventure. I love the idea that the military can take us, our family, anywhere in the world and we can see and experience different parts of our country and our globe as a part of this grand experience. Guys, I’d definitely not be living in Cali without this lifestyle. Is it hard to move? Hell yes! Is it hard to be away from family? 100%. But what is worth it, is the bigger experiences we are having as a couple, as a family, and the opportunities our kids are being given. My kids have seen and done things that I only dreamed of up until now. Being a MilSpouse and a MilFamily makes those things possible.

I Love having friends all over the globe. LITERALLY. I have supports, friends and amazing people that I know all over the world. Canada from coast to coast, USA, France, Italy, England, Scotland, Australia, Japan. It is overwhelming and AMAZING to think about all the love and connectivity we have globally. These are people, friends, who I would not have met without being a part of the familial military community. What a gift! That’s something to be grateful for right there.

I LOVE that military members, historically, are the heroes of our free world. I Love having my little stitch in the patchwork that is military history. My spouse has been away for some lengthy periods of time but we haven’t had to really deal too much with anything “scary” in terms of deployment, yet. But I am thankful for those who have fought for us and those who supported them.

As a military spouse, I am  in awe of the families who were left behind waiting for letters, hoping they came. No phone calls, no FaceTime, just nothing. And, lets be frank, that wasn’t that long ago. I have NOTHING but respect for those family members, and am fascinated by the history and evolution of the military spouse/family.

I LOVE being a military family and a MilSpouse because while I am presented with many challenges unique to this lifestyle, there are supports in place to help me navigated this unique world. How freaking incredible is that?! I mean not many other careers offer the familial support and understanding that the military families see, and I can really only speak for Canadian military, but I am seeing it here in the US as well. Military Family Resource Centres are a grass roots organization that was initiated by  the needs and efforts of MilSpouses in Canada who proved that “you signed up for this” isn’t a good enough answer.  I celebrate the efforts of every single solitary military family member who continues to advocate against that mentality. I have benefitted from the supports of MFRC’s, I have worked for them for most of my career, and I am a cheerleader and advocate for the critical work they do in the efforts to keep the families healthy and thus, our military members ready for duty.

I LOVE the personal growth I have seen in my friends who are military spouses and the growth I have seen in myself. This lifestyle comes with inherent challenges that include moving, deployments and often feeling alone. But guess what? These challenges, coupled with supports ,both formal and informal, continually help me to grow as a woman, as a mother and as a human being in the global community. I AM RESILIENT. I AM STRONG. And when I am not feeling that way, there is support to help me further my resilience and strength. Support from the Wing, Base or Unit my spouse belongs to. Support from the MFRC’s. But mostly, from that Global family we have built as our supports from posting to posting.

Lastly, the thing I LOVE most about being a military spouse, is the sense of pride I have wearing my yellow ribbon, my red on Fridays. The pride I feel when I can support a friend through a tough deployment. The love I feel when the same friend supports me through a challenging posting. I love the pride I feel when I finally feel settled into a new home, in a new country. I love the pride in my children’s eyes when they see their daddy in uniform. The tears in their eyes when he gets off that airplane after a long deployment. I LOVE that first kiss after months of separation. Mostly, I just love the hell out of my military member.

This Remembrance day, thank a member for their service. Remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. And, if you have a change, give a big hug or a high five to a MilSpouse you know.

They serve too.

 

~M~

“Things I LOVE” Thursday 

Let’s talk things about a few things that I love that help motivate me to go out and crush my workout!

Gotta start with an outfit that makes me feel gym ready! There are a few pieces I cannot live without!

On the bottom, my favorite leggings are the “Align” crops by Lululemon! I MUST have them! These pants come in a high waisted option and are so soft and comfortable you will barely remember you’re wearing pants!!! If you prefer something with a little more compression, these won’t be your fave for workouts, but they feel incredible for everyday atheleisure wear!!!! Also, you will likely have to size down in this crop, pretty fab right? Like AMAZING!

Sports Bras – I’m doing all kinds of different work outs from yoga, to HIIT, to running and kickboxing. I of course have a few different bras and varying levels of support but my #1 go to is again a Lulu product – the Energy Bra! Comes in a variety of colors, fits true to size and looks amazing under a tank!

Speaking of tanks, I’m a huge fan of fun tank tops for working out! I love them to have inspirational quotes, cheeky sayings, or powerful mantras! These can be found everywhere from Target to Kohls, TJ Maxx and Lululemon. If you’re crafty you can even make your own!!! Here are a few of my faves in my “collection”.

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So aside from the outfit, you have to got have good shoes! I’ve tried everything from Nike, ASICS and New Balance, but NOTHING compares to my Saucony Rides! I’m currently wearing the Ride 9s and am in love! Why do I love them so much? They are cushiony soft the have the perfect support for my neutral foot and they work for everything I like to do including running &  kickboxing! If you’re not sure what show is best for you, get professionally fitted at your local Running Room!

For workouts, I like to get in a good sweat sesh so Cardio for me is my happy place! When I am not running, I look for cardio workouts at the gym or at home. Right now my favorite workouts are Les Mills BodyCombat classes that are offered by MANY local gyms. It is an amazing total body workout and makes me feel energetic and empowered!

For working out at home, I have TWO must haves. First is if you’re into yoga and you aren’t already aware of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, you MUST follow her and do her workouts. She is amazingly motivating, knowledgeable and has yoga workouts for everyone and every body! I suggest trying one of her 30 day programs like 30 Days of Yoga or Yoga Revolution. These are FREE! It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Also, although I am not a Beachbody coach, nor do I use Shakeology or 21 Day Fix, I so have an annual subscription to BeachBody on Demand. For $99 for the year you get unlimited access to their workout programs, cooking show and all of the supporting information that comes along with their programs. My personal faves currently are Clean Week and Core De Force! I don’t always have time to get to the gym, so no excuses here, I can workout whenever and where ever!

For a post workout snack, I like to get in some protein and when I am on the run or in a hurry, QUEST bars are my protein of choice! Ok, so I know that actual, non processed foods are a better choice but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do on the go! My all time favorite flavors are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Mocha Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie. You guessed it, I LOVE chocolate! These bars have good ingredients, 20g+ of protein and less than 1g of sugar! Whats not to love? Also, ProTip – heat them for about 15 second in the microwave and bam they are other level yummy!

Lastly, you have GOT to stay hydrated, and personally I love a fun water bottle to keep me motivated to get my 3L in every day!. I found a few fun ones at Winners/TJ Maxx and Amazon. I have also had them made and am working on making a few myself but here are some fun ones from my collection!

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The thing about working out is that usually the hardest part of ANY workout is getting your butt out the door! Am I right?! So maybe having some of your favorite workout “tools” on hand will help get you motivated and help you achieve your goals!

 

Lets do this! Lets set some serious fitness goals this November, and CRUSH them! Who’s with me?!

 

~M~

Confidence, a work in progress

I want to talk about confidence. Building it, owning it, striving for it, getting it.

Confidence building is one of those things that I am simultaneously proud to say I am working on and ashamed to say I struggle with. What a mess of emotions that comes with struggling with self esteem and being confident. I have had times in my life where I have felt the highs of really owing who I am and the body I am in. Those times weren’t just when I was at my goal weight or when I was running half marathons. I have felt confident and beautiful at 275lbs. I have felt uncomfortable and awkward at 150lbs.

I am self assured in my ability to have quality relationships and I have also been burned by that tenacity. I know, without a doubt, that I am a good person and a fantastic friend. I care deeply and am a good person to have on your side. When I have had to end relationships, or someone ends a relationship with me, it always makes me question what I have done, if I was good enough. I tend to place that blame on my shoulders instead of looking at how the other person(s) was involved.

There are so many facets to self confidence. Body image. Social acceptance/confidence. Relationship confidence. Career confidence. Intellectual confidence. Parental confidence. Good grief! It’s a lot to think about.

As I look at being a strong, confident woman and role model to my two little girls, I have a two main goals I am striving to achieve.

  1. I want to be assured in who I am as a woman and mother. Not perfect. Not compared to others. But being MY best me.
  2. I want to be confident in my body . It shouldn’t matter if I have ten pounds to lose or not . Confidence is sexy and I want to feel sexy for ME. My hubby wont mind that so much either.

I found this quote on Pinterest that I absolutely LOVE and I think it will be part of my work toward building my self confidence.

Confidence isn’t walking into a room with your nose in the air, and thinking you are better than everyone else. it’s walking into a room and not having to compare yourself to anyone else in the first place. Author Unknown

I am such a comparer. It is definitely not one of my best qualities. I am consistently, looking at the successes of others, and comparing them to my own. I am a huge fan of social media, don’t get me wrong, but damn it can sure wreck havoc on my positivity and spirit. But that is on me. I need to look inward, not externally, for applause, for pride and for reminders of how awesome I am. Because at the end of the day, who better to tell me that I am fabulous, but me?!

I find social media particularly challenging when it comes to being a mom. On the one hand, there are lots of people posting about #reallife but more often than not people are posting the highlights of their life. Which makes sense right?! Who wants to post about the crap? But the problem is that some of us continue to compare our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel. So, try to be mindful of your social media intake, and how you take it all in. Make sense? It’s something I need reminding of all the time. So lets keep each other in check ok? I know I cant reach my personal goals of being confident in my mom-ability, if I keep comparing myself, in an unhealthy way, to everyone else.

Can we talk a little about sexiness for just a minute, please? One of my favorite quotes about feeling sexy comes from Halle Berry, who lets be honest, knows more than a thing or two about being sexy, am I right?

Sexiness is a state of mind. It’s about loving yourself in your most unlovable moments. Halle Berry

Well, damn! Girl has a point! Confidence, sexiness, tenacity, fortitude and fearlessness all have to come from within. So how do we get there? How do we start feeling confident from the inside out? I think it starts with a few things I have already talked about in previous blogs. So lets take a moment to refresh. We’ve talked previously about gratitude and vulnerability. I think in continuing to practice gratitude we can get to a place of feeling grateful for the body we are in and not just because it allows us to live. But feeling grateful for its beauty, the little nuances that make your body uniquely your own. Maybe its a scar, maybe a freckle (or lots of them), maybe its the stretch marks, maybe its your killer calves. But really start looking at your body and be grateful for all of its beauty. In my new fitness journal, each day it asks me to write down something that I am appreciate about my strong body and I have religiously been recording something each day. Even on the days where I’d pay anything to be able to be in someone else’s body. And you know what, it is helping. Some days, I have to be creative because it can be hard to appreciate your body. But I am definitely finding this practice helpful.

Vulnerability practice can only serve to assist with confidence as well. As one of my favourite social worker/authors/motivators, Brene Brown, who says..

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen. Brene Brown.

In practicing vulnerability, we are allowing ourselves to be seen. When we lack confidence, being seen is that last thing we want. Therefore, by practicing being seen, we allow our creativity to shine. We will then see change which will serve to be a positive reminder that we can create who we want to be in this world and as we see that come to fruition, we will feel confident in what we have accomplished. Therefore, being assured in who we are. Simple on paper, but more complicated in reality. But it is a practice, so keep on practicing! I know I will be!

Lastly, I talked recently about positive self talk. Linking positive self talk to building self esteem and confidence, is a no brainer. We HAVE to be able to be kind to ourselves, in order to love who we are inside and out. Simple.  If you’re not there yet with the positive self talk, keep practicing. Head on over to Pinterest and look up some positive mantras for you to rehearse. Try journalling your positive thoughts, anything that will help reinforce positive thinking. It’s a personal journey, so find what works for you!

Being confident is definitely key in terms of wanting to live your best life and being your best YOU. Join me on this journey of learning to love myself, by learning to love yourself. Share with me what’s been working for you, what’s not working for you. Share with me when you feel your sexiest, your smartest, your “mom of the year” moments and the moments when you’re needing a little bit of a boost.

You are beautiful, You are amazing and You are worth it!

 

~M~

Sometimes we just have to Push Pause

I had big plans for this week and today especially but this morning I am realizing I need to take a best and push pause for today. I have a few drafts of blogs I want to share with you, I have some personal admin that needs to be taken care of, and I have a mountain of laundry to fold and 2.5 bathrooms to clean. I’ve been fighting off the dreaded school cold bug that my kids have both had but this morning I woke up at 4am with a screaming sore throat! 

As a mom and a wife and as a woman generally, I harbour a lot of guilt when I feel like I can’t keep up to the demands of the day. Ironically, I place most of those demands on myself. I want my kids to have homemade lunches with cute lunchbox notes. I like to get to the gym while my family is at work and school so I don’t miss out on time with them. I prep healthy meals in advance. I try to connect with friends and family via social media and texting every day to stay connected. The list of daily To Dos can be intense. 

Today though, it’s a no go. This morning I’m pressing pause. I’m having a hot tea, laying on the couch and catching up on some reality TV Guilty Pleasures. I am hoping that by resting this morning, I can feel better for the rest of the week and be back to feeling good!

Remember friends, take care of yourself so you can help care for those you love! Love yourself too!

~M~