October 15, 2017

Walt Disney World Adventures 2017



This is the fourth time that I have been to Walt Disney World -- the second for my son, and who knows how many for my husband. This time we decided to make it a surprise for our son, and we told him all about our adventure soon after we had woken him up to head to the airport.

I am by no means a Disney expert, but I noticed that this time around I was able to pay attention to more of the little things in all of the different lands in Walt Disney World -- I always describe it as a city with it's own transportation system and different districts to explore. Instead of being in awe of all the big things that grab your attention when you first go, I noticed things like how you can see Space Mountain and Cinderella's Castle from the top of Thunder Mountain Railroad. 

It definitely made for a different experience -- for those that think it might become quite dull going so many times -- and it made me appreciate the attention to all of the most minute details that the people of Disney take into consideration. It truly is a magical experience, and one that you must experience for yourself in order to understand what a wonderful vacation destination it can be.


*I also got to see the clock on the It's a Small World ride for the first time. I didn't even know it was a clock!





September 01, 2017

Forget Her Not: World Alzheimer's Month 2017



My grandparents lived in Australia for most of my life. They were ex-pats in search of adventures that took them around the world with their family, but life brought them back home as they began to age and wanted to be near family. Not too long after they moved back, my Grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and she moved into a wonderful care home where my Grandpa would go and visit her every day.

If I'm being honest, I never really knew my Grandma. Having lived in Australia and only visiting a couple of times until I was in high school, the opportunity to get to know her before the disease took over was never there. Most of what I do know comes from the stories my Grandpa and my Dad have told about her, as most of the time that I spent with her she didn't talk to me. She sounds like she was an amazingly strong woman with a fantastic sense of style. I love looking at old photographs of her as her posture suggests that she was sassy, fun and full of life.

What I do remember are little moments that I had with her, and parts of her personality that she used to conceal what was happening to her. I remember her laugh that she had when someone asked her a question she didn't know the answer to, and she would look to my Grandpa for help. Or that time I looked after her while my Dad took my Grandpa to the symphony, and she answered the phone upside-down and didn't remember that she had to say "hello".

The one thing that I know she had no difficulties with, until she lost her voice, was singing songs from yesteryear while my Grandpa sat at the piano accompanying her. They would be there for hours making music together, and I know this was a very special time for them because he would visit her at the care home and continue to play music for her to listen to -- even after she had passed, my Grandpa would continue to play music for the other residents, until he could no longer go.

It is this life. It is this memory of the most pure joy, the most pure love, that brings me back year after year for the month of September to donate 15% of the shops profits to the Alzheimer Society of Canada to provide support to those who are suffering from the disease and their families, and to promote research. Help support the cause and give a voice to those affected by Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Forget them not.



August 13, 2017

Read It: Go Set A Watchman



I started reading Go Set A Watchman last summer, and, as much as I enjoyed reading the memories that Scout shared from her childhood -- believe me, there was a hilarious story she shared with Jem and Dill that I still think about -- it was was one of those books that I easily put down in distraction of other books. But, I picked it up again this past winter and learned a few life lessons as I continued reading:

I found that there were some startling parallels between a book that was written in the late 1950s and what was going on at the time that I was reading it. It blew my mind that the world has not changed much in the 60 years since Go Set A Watchman was written, and that the things that has been sitting under the surface are still there. Harper Lee was acutely aware of things that a lot of people kept, and still keep, hidden in society.

One thing that a lot of people were upset over was the fact that our dear Atticus Finch is portrayed as racist in this novel. But, what some people are not remembering is that this book was written before To Kill A Mockingbird, which means he always was racist, it just wasn't evident when we first met him. To assume that there is not an ounce of racism in him simply because of his actions and words in To Kill A Mockingbird is unfair, and Go Set A Watchman shows us that we truly do not know the inner workings of the minds of others. To have put Atticus on a pedestal was a big mistake on our part, and Go Set A Watchman sets all of us straight, including Jean Louise.

I thought a lot of my childhood and the moment that I grew into my own person while reading the conversation that Jean Louise has with Dr. Finch, her uncle. That moment when you no longer hang on to the thoughts and ideals of your parents and realise that you have created your own. When you become your own person. It was when he called her a bigot that it really got to me, and I realised that I am the exact same way:

"Dr. Finch bit his under lip and let it go. 'Um hum. A bigot. Not a big one, just an ordinary turnip-sized bigot.'

Jean Louise rose and went to the bookshelves. She pulled down a dictionary and leafed through it. '"Bigot,"' she read. '"Noun. One obstinatly or intolerably devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion."...'

'...What does a bigot do when he meets someone who challenges his opinions? He doesn't give. He stays rigid. Doesn't even try to listen, just lashes out...You have a tendency not to give anybody elbow room in your mind for their ideas, no matter how silly you think they are." (p.267)

Reading that passage was a real "a-ha" moment for me, and reminded me of this article that I had previously read about false-consensus bias, people that believe in a different point of view than you, and the fact that our opinion might just be wrong. I am one of those people that does not give in easily when fighting about an opinion that I believe is right, and it is something that I am truly working on. -- "This is not to say the Other Side is “right” but that they likely have real reasons to feel that way. And only after understanding those reasons can a real discussion take place...And you won’t convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don’t respect their position and opinions."

Go Set A Watchman was more than just the "sequel" to a good book, for me. It surprised me by being incredibly relevant. It also taught me that I still have a lot to learn, and made me question if I have truly set my own watchman.

August 07, 2017

All About Food: The Valuable Lesson I Learned From My Visit To Cuba



When it came to what we were going to eat in Cuba, I didn't know what to expect -- see my vacation here. The reviews of our resort were mixed between saying that the food was bland, or that there was nothing wrong with it at all. I knew that we wouldn't be getting French cuisine while we were there, and I'm not much of a sauce person so bland food doesn't bother me anyway. 

What I discovered while we were there was a buffet full of fresh fruits, meats, and some vegetables. I am assuming that over time the resorts have figured out the kind of expectations that we have when it comes to food, and have tried their best to provide us all with food that it similar to what we eat at home as there were definitely foods that were imported -- like the jams and jellies that I liked to put on my crepe-like pancake as there was no syrup.

But this is beside the point. The food that I ate in Cuba was fresh and -- mostly -- local, and I lived my days eating foods that I wouldn't normally be eating at home. I ate very little meat and focused more on the fruits and salads, breads and rice that were available to me -- because there was no junk food for me to gobble up, except for colas.

What I didn't notice then, that I figured out once I was back in Canada, was that my body was detoxing from all the foods back at home, and, as soon as I started back into my old habits at home, I got sick. 

While I was laying at home sick on the sofa, I watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix -- I loooove documentaries on Netflix. One of them was a show about food and the effects that it has on our body called Hungry for Change

As I was laying there exhausted from the illness that I had developed from the food that I had eaten when I came home, and realised that I had been exposed to such fresh food -- and nothing else -- while I was away, I knew that I had to go back to what I was eating like in Cuba.

I'm not going to lie to you, I still eat chips, drink pop, and go out for supper to places that we really shouldn't be going, but my main focus is on vegetables and fruits. I eat salads and fresh cut veggies every day, and I eat fruit and nuts on my porridge instead of brown sugar. I have made little adjustments here and there in my diet that have made a huuuuuge difference to my body that I would have never figured out had I not gone to Cuba.

Most of you that have been following along for a while know that I have been going through a weight loss period for about five years now -- read the history here. While I haven't done a "Weight Update" in quite a while, you can consider this my newest one. 

Around this time last year I decided I wanted to lose a couple more pounds -- the last of my weight loss goal -- and I did it by counting calories, etc. It was difficult, and took me a long time to achieve my goal. Some days I felt like I was practically starving myself, but I never felt good, healthy. My asthma became a serious issue again during my pregnancy seven years ago, and I was still relying on my steroid inhaler a lot -- which is something I don't like to do.

Since I began making vegetables and fruits my main focus, I am so proud to be able to tell you that I have not used my inhalers -- steroid or Ventolin -- once since my visit to Cuba back in January. I do not remember the last time that I became seriously ill, and as soon as I feel myself becoming sick, I do a mental check and realise that I have been eating really junky and get back on track again and the sickness goes away. I have lost the last couple of pounds for good, and even a couple more that I was surprised about.

It's so hard to explain, and not sound super preachy about it. Just know that I learned a valuable lesson that I know has done my body good.



July 31, 2017

What We Love: Summer 2017



This romper has been one of my main go-to outfits so far this summer. I tried it on on a whim thinking that it wasn't quite my style, but ended up loving it. It feels like a dress, fits nicely in all the right areas -- I especially like how snug it is in the torso -- and is not so short that it reveals too much when you bend over. Plus, it is a romper that my husband actually likes.



I honestly couldn't tell you where I first hear this song, but I absolutely love it and think that it is a perfect song for summer. It's got a sweet beat that you have no problem dancing to. In fact, as soon as the song comes on, my body starts to move involuntarily.



I have always loved the water. I lived in the next door neighbour's pool while growing up, and enjoy taking my son to our local outdoor pool -- and the lake -- every summer. It wouldn't feel like summer if you didn't spend a little bit of time in an outdoor pool. This art print from Helo Birdie take me back to my summers at the pool every time I look at it -- it also makes me wish I was on a tropical vacation! 



July 09, 2017

Shop Update: Three Prints and Malala Fund



I am so excited to be able to share with you that not only are there three new art prints available in the shop, but $1 from every purchase of those three prints (Malala, Frida, and Nasty Woman) will be donated to Malala Fund which advocates — at local, national and international levels — for resources and policy changes needed to ensure all girls complete 12 years of school.

As you know, I am a big fan of Malala Yousafzai (Read It and Inspire Me), and, as I was trying to figure out which organization to donate proceeds from the Nasty Woman art print to, I came up with the idea to create a couple more art prints with quotations from the two woman that have inspired me recently and donate proceeds from all three to support education -- which is something that is near and dear to my heart as an Early Childhood Educator.



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