The Christmas struggle

A year ago I decided to join a Diet bet. I saw it on an instagram story from @ketoincanada and was intrigued! An online gamble to help you lose weight. You sign up, pay the $30 or so then you have 4 weeks to lose 4% of your body weight. With weekly weigh ins to keep you in track. If you win, you split the pot with all the other winners, if not… You lose your money. I’ve been doing them for a year to keep me accountable and it works wonders for someone like me who needs to be accountable. Sounds easy? Sounds fun?

The catch to my very first Diet bet was that it started in December and finished after new years. Which meant I would be essentially ‘dieting’ during the holiday season! This is unheard of. Christmas is the time of year for gluttony…. Right?

There is an unspoken rule that it’s ok to eat all and enjoy your holiday food. After all January 1st is just around the corner! Not that I don’t think you should enjoy all the many amazing foods your family prepares but put it this way…. Some of us have 2,3 maybe even 4 days of Christmas chaos and tables upon tables of delicious food not to be had again until next year! So we eat… And eat and eat. Usually feel full and bloated and tired after consuming all the things.

So what the diet bet did was make me conscious of my food choices. Oh I had pie, and my aunts yummy desserts and all the sides… But only a small amount of each. I knew I was weighing in that week and having that in the back of my mind helped me make better decisions. I didn’t want to lose money!

So here’s the thing. There is always going to be a holiday, an occasion or a reason to eat… Or overeat. If you are a “I’ll start January 1st” kind of person DON’T. Start today! don’t eat all the food, gain the 5 or 10 holiday pounds then spend the next month or more trying to work it off. Start today, get in the mindset and remember there is always going to be food and a reason to eat. It’s not your last supper there is one everyday. Start today.

Shift work Mom

Before I start, I want to remind you all that I really do like my job. I work with some fun and interesting people and many have become great friends. I started working at The factory in 2008. No kids, not many responsibilities and not many bills. Nick and I lived in a one bedroom apartment in London in the east end and our rent was just over $600 a month. We had no kids, no mortgage and no utility bills either. We were living the life. A great job and no bills equals lots of extra cash.

We were married in 2010 and in 2011 we had Phoenix and Declan…and on May 12 2012 I went back to work after my very first mat leave. This was the beginning of my love hate relationship with a great job.

Factory work is long hours and tedious, it’s repeditive and so hard on your body. BUT the pay is amazing and the benefits are out of this world great for anyone, especially a family as large as ours!

Here’s the thing…for two weeks of the month I am on “night” shift. not a regular night shift though….we start at 5:45pm and work until 3:15am. Oh and don’t forget to factor in the 2.5 hours of driving time. Granted, living so far away from the plant is definitely my decision but it doesn’t make it any easier to cope with. So two weeks of not putting the boys to bed, eating dinner with them or getting them their drink in the middle of the night. Nick is a single parent those weeks. I know it’s hard on him but he rocks it like the superstar Dad he is! It’s so hard not being there every night, putting them to bed.

The other two weeks is day shift. We start at 6:15am and go to 3:45pm, oh and the driving time. This makes for an early morning alarm clock setting and by the time I get home I am in full on zombie mode from lack of sleep. So yeah i get to see the boys in all their post academic glory but all I can think about is putting them to bed quickly so I can crawl into my own!

Let’s also factor in my spot on the board of directors of our local club, my two side businesses and my online courses I’ve been taking through George Brown College. If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know! My husband is amazing, understanding and probably the best Dad around (biased opinion) I couldn’t do it without him! He’s so patient with the boys, much more than I am, he keeps me…and them…grounded and sane (for the most part that is)

The Mommy guilt is real my friends. It’s a constant struggle between loving my job and thinking of ways to quit spend more time at home. Im afraid of the things I miss, good and bad but I also (guiltily) love the time I get at work to be Julie and not just Mommy…if only the hours were shorter and the plant was an hour closer to my doorstep!

Shift workers deserve a prize. I’m not saving lives or anything but man is it a hard gig!

Bad friend guilt

There is a time in life when your friends are your everything. You go to school to see your friends from junior kindergarten until high school…I mean and to learn of course but mostly to socialize. When you leave school and move out on your own you get to have your friends over and party and hang out as much as you want! Then you meet that special guy and the next few years are fun and full of stag and does, engagement parties, bachlorette parties and weddings. You are surrounded by friends.

Then comes your first baby and the partying slows, the visits lessen because they don’t want to bother you and the new baby. You don’t go out as much because, lets face it, who wants a hang over when you have a small baby at home. The outings become more and more sparse as your family grows and the large group of friends that surrounded you every weekend gets smaller and smaller.

This is no blame game. Certainly understandable. When you have a sizeable group of pals these things happen. It is almost impossible for everyone to be at the same stages at the same time. I’ve had great friends, good friends and not so good friends in my life. Some have come and gone and come back again..or not come back again. I miss the times i’ve had and the people they were and I am constantly reminding myself to message them or go visit. Some may think it isn’t friendship if you have to force yourself to remember to call or visit but as a mom who sometimes forgets to put on deodorant, or to put a diaper back on the baby or even to put the coffee cup under the coffee maker…even something as important as socializing is a task. I think for the most part people understand life is busy, at least thats what I tell myself, but the friendships that have slipped through the cracks or are currently slipping, haunt my dreams.

You may get back to those times in your life where you didn’t have a care in the world and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning…or you might not and thats ok too. We evolve and so do our friendships. Some are in for the long haul and some were there for a time in your life that you needed them to be.

The moral of the story is, don’t be so hard on yourself…chances are if you pick up the phone tomorrow your friends would be there for you in a heartbeat!

Love

I wanted to share what I had written after my father in law had passed away. He was a great man and loved by many. His death was sudden and tragic and left us with a hole in our hearts. But one thing came out of this harrowing event and it’s that we learned so much about our friends, family and most importantly about ourselves. Life is short, shorter then you can sometimes imagine. Be kind, love one another and don’t take anything for granted.

Written October 29, 2017

“In situations like this you learn so much… If you ever wonder if there’s “a reason for everything” it’s situations like this that answer those questions.
Although these past few weeks have been the hardest our little family has dealt with so far there are a few things that are abundantly more clear for me.

Our kids are smart, kind and perfect little beings. If you ever needed the facts, ask a 6 year old who goes to church. “Grampa Ross is in heaven with Cooper and José. We can’t see him but he can always see us so we just have to talk to him and he will be there.” my children are my heart.

I’ve learned that my husband is probably the strongest, kindest most unselfish person in most likely the world. And I’ve learned that when he let’s his guard down I love him even more.

I’ve been taught… Or maybe reminded that we have the best friends and family in the world. We did not have to ask… There were no questions. Food arrived, babies cuddled, kids fed, alcohol poured, Hugs given, talks had, Prayers answered. Love is everywhere.

One thing I knew… But was thankful to be reminded of was… Ross was kind gentle soul. After all the beautiful words and stories in the past couple weeks it was nice to know that the Ross we knew was the Ross known by everyone. And it warmed my heart to see those exact qualities in all my boys… Especially Nick.

Death is a horrible, heart breaking, gut wrenching thing to go through. It breaks you down or it makes you stronger. But it can also teach you… Or remind you. Life is good, love is greater and to be surrounded by people that make your everyday better makes it that much easier.” ❤️

The unstable wagon

So there is a mind set in most humans, I believe, that the rich have it easy and the ‘skinny’ never had to work for it. (I don’t like the word skinny)

Im here to tell you that for me being a certain size/weight is definitely something that I am constantly working on. I changed my diet, I work out 2 to 3 times a week and I still look down sometimes and hate the way I look. I am the queen of self sabotage. I was at my goal weight this past weekend. For one second I was overjoyed, one second I was proud of myself for a major accomplishment. Then I looked at my saggy belly skin and untoned arms and let all that hard work be erased by small imperfections that came about by the four beautiful babies i carried and birthed in the last 8 years. I can’t put all the credit on pregnancies. In hindsight i should have been a healthier 20-something. Now that I have been working out for a year i realize the importance of it. I strive to be STRONG not skinny.

I ate like crap all weekend, fell off the keto wagon hard! And when I went to the gym this morning I felt it! Sluggish, sore joints and fatigue. When I weighed myself…my crap eating and self sabotage showed on the scale.

So here is your PSA for the day. I don’t think we will ever be 100% happy with our bodies. No matter how much we are told not to step on the scale everyday before we get in the shower, or that it’s ok to indulge every once in a while or that we don’t need to lose anymore weight. Do what makes you happy. But realize, falling off a wagon does not feel good. You will feel the effects for days to follow! So make the choice before you teeter on the edge…can I handle the outcome of a fall? Is the set back worth it? Chances are, it’s not.

Making a call

Here’s something you may, or may not know about me. I like to talk…I need to talk. and when something happens that I don’t understand…you better believe I’m going to talk it out until I do.

So when I tell you this story it is not to shame or bring to light anyone with mental instability, it is to bring awareness and try to get answers…for myself….which I know is usually difficult.

I was driving to my son’s Dr’s appointment early one morning after dropping the older boys off at school. I was behind a truck driver on a rural road and he was going way too slow for my liking. On top of the overpass he slowed right down to almost a stop and I was annoyed. No blinker no nothing just slow. He pulled over and just as I was about to blow past him, I saw why he pulled over.

There was a woman, staring off at the busy highway. There was what seemed to be a lunch bag at her feet and she had one foot on the railing of the overpass. I kept repeating No no no as I pulled over onto the shoulder of the road, past the bridge and grabbed my phone. Cars drove past me and did not pull over. If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to pull over either but I did. I called 911 and stared into my rearview mirror. She had her other leg over the railing and I looked away. 911 was sending police and ambulance and all I could think about was getting out of there before they came. Selfishly. After all, I had my young child with me, what was I going to do? Right?! Someone else had stopped to help as well so I felt like the woman was in good hands.

I drove to the appointment and nervously drove home. Wondering if the road would be blocked off when I got back there. No one was there. Like it didn’t even happen. No one standing on the side waiting to tell people driving past that she was ok…or not.

I realize this may seem silly, to be shook up from something that almost happened. I mean I didn’t even get out of my car, right? I didn’t know her but i felt sadness for her. Still do. I hope she’s ok and I hope she will now get the help she needs. It’s awful that it can come to that extreme. that a person feels like there is no other option. I hope everyone knows they are loved and that there is always someone to talk to and that ending your life isn’t the answer, It mearly passes the pain onto the ones you leave behind…even if you think there is no one to leave behind…

BFF

Sit back and enjoy the ride, grab your Kleenex and maybe a bucket for the weak stomachs. I want to share with you the story of true love, a love like no other, a soulmate if you will. Let me tell you about a girl named Ashley.

It all started in grade three, approximately 27 years ago. Her name was Ashley, she had long hair…like real long….a Northern Getaway sweatshirt and Umbro shorts. (That was cool back then I swear) We ran in the same crowd and got along real well. Fast forward a few years, high school, then college and beyond. There was a few years here and there when we hung out with different people, different crowds but we always came back to one another. Stronger than ever, if you will.

Here’s the thing. Whenever I describe her to people, tell them she is my best friend they nod and seem unenthused. I feel like they don’t get it, they don’t get us. We’re like BEST friends. Like obsessed with each other in a completely acceptable, non weird way. Well i suppose weird to some…maybe most.

She is the one person in my life I can 1000% be myself around, I tell all my secrets to and she knows what I am thinking before I even think it! (And Vice versa of course) Having someone you completely trust is so reassuring, so uplifting , so…what everyone needs. But let me tell ya, these rare and amazing creatures are hard to find. I cherish my friendship with her, the love she has for my boys (including Nick) and the love and friendship we have for her and Justin is immeasurable.

We share a love of Sex and the City marathons, Mexican food and lazy Saturday nights in bed binge watching tv and eating junk food. We are one in the same, my friend and I.

I have a lot of great and amazing people in my life but only one that gets me as well as her.

Happy birthday to my best friend and soulsista! Xo

MY Gramma

When you think of a Gramma, I feel the general stereotype is a little old lady who knits and sits in a chair all day drinking tea. You visit with her and talk about the weather then go on your way until you visit again in a few months. I have a totally different Gramma then that.

I lived beside my Gramma for 14 years. We ran over whenever we could for visits, swims and when Mom and Dad were at work she babysat my sister and I. Now that I am back in my hometown her and Grampa are literally a 2 minute drive from my house! Myself, My parents and my Grandparents all live on the same street!

So MY Gramma was/is so fun! She used to make us tin can telephones to play with. Zip line picnic baskets to the basement for lunch….speaking of lunch…She makes the best sandwiches. Tuna, salmon and egg salad. I don’t know what it is about them but they’re just so yummy…and comforting! Chicken and dumplings, apple pie, the left over crust from pie that she would make into a special treat, chilli sauce, the list goes on! She has this old adorable puppy cookie jar that even to this day I still go into for a cookie. As awesome as she was when i was a kid….she’s a thousand times cooler with my kids! Ever see an 80 some odd year old woman with two toddlers on their back while she pretends to be a horse? Or chase a one year old around on her hands and knees? Thats MY Gramma.

She takes my boys to sunday school, has watched all four of them until they went to school, at least one day a week. She makes them forts out of boxes and saved all the Styrofoam pieces from the raising up the furniture after a carpet clean to write out the alphabet and numbers to teach the boys their names. She taught them Crokinhole and Uno and she plays Checkers with them as well.

She loves the colour yellow, her birds, her plants, her Daniel O’Donnell tapes and her kids (grand and great grand too) I love stopping in after I drop the boys off at school for a visit while she drinks her morning coffee. I catch her up, she catches me up and I always learn something new about her and/or Grampa! Hours and hours I have sat and heard so many amazing stories of their youth, raising their family and all the things they have done in their lives. She could write a book and I’d buy 10!

Today is her birthday and I am so thankful for her. She is one of the most amazing women I know and hands down the best Gramma/Great Gramma too!

Gramma and I

Unfollow

I was recently watching a friends insta-stories when she was asked a question something like “how do you keep positive?” She has a huge following and always gives great ideas and advice on everything from kids, life and business. I always love her stories but this one hit home.

She told us to take the negativity out of our lives. Starting with social media. So I did just that!

I started by deleting all the news sources from my Facebook and Instagram. It was rarely ever local news stories and all of them were depressing. Having kids has made me much more sensitive to anything bad that involves children and weighs heavily on my anxieties.

I then unfollowed anyone on my friends list on all social media platforms that didn’t make me feel good…if someone’s posts constantly annoyed me or upset me they were gone. We all have a few friends on our Facebook who’s posts make us crazy. It may not even be their fault, it just triggers something in you that isn’t positive…they need to go for your own wellbeing. If a company I followed reminded me how much work I wanted to do to my house (that cost money) and gave me anxiety about saving money, they were gone!

I did this a couple of weeks ago and I can honestly say it helps! My news feed is full of things and people I want to see, inspiration, comedy and love… Try it! I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. Take the negativity from your life, all that you can and you can’t not lead a better life!

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Anniversary love

Today Nick and I celebrate eight years married. 12 years dating. 23 years as friends.

It only seems right that I share the story of the day he proposed to me!

Being young and no kids, Nick and I would often run off to Niagara Falls for the weekend to drink and gamble. It was (and still is) the perfect mini vacation away from the day-to-day. A way to regroup and spend time just him and I. So for our 3 year anniversary we did just that. We usually stayed in cheap hotels but because it was our anniversary we splurged on a “fancy” hotel. The Sheridan by the falls. It was an awful room and definitely not worth the hundreds of dollars it cost but none the less, we were there to get away and it was clean and the bed was comfy! There was no balcony so every time Nick wanted to have a cigarette he would have to go down to the street. I being the most awesome girlfriend kept going with him for company. It was our anniversary after all! He was smoking a lot. I was getting tired of being the “good girlfriend” and finally told him he could go himself and I would start getting ready for the casino. I was a bit annoyed by his constant smoking and traipsing up and down the elevator to the lobby and he was in, what seemed like, a pissy mood.

So he went down, I went into the bathroom to try to doll myself up for the casino and only a few minutes later I hear a knock on the door. My initial reaction was ‘ughhh he forgot his key!’ Annoyed I went to the door and looked out the peep-hole. I couldn’t see anyone but then again I am short and could barely see out the peep hole anyway! So i opened the door.

And there, on bended knee was Nick….holding a ring.

I never bugged him to get married, hadn’t thought too much about it yet so i was stunned…I kept asking if he was serious and nervously laughing and smiling. It was a moment true to our relationship. Funny, awkward and undoubtably perfect. The ring of course was gorgeous, exactly what I could have dreamed of, minus the size. It was a tad big so my darling fiancé wrapped a LCBO receipt around the inside of the ring and slipped it on! I walked around the casino with a balled up fist terrified of losing my brand new sparkly ring.

We drove home the next day planning, picked a date, a wedding party and started the guest list! I’m a planner, this was my Super Bowl!

Happy 8th anniversary Babe! To many more! xoxo