Thursday, December 13, 2018

Advent 2018 #NarrativeOfJoy

If you follow me on Instagram (if you're not, you should! @sweetspontaneity), you would have seen that I set myself a challenge at the beginning of Advent in order to help immerse myself in the journey of preparing for Christmas. A few weeks before Advent began, I came across the hashtag #NarrativeOfJoy, which is mainly used by @rachnotes_ on Instagram. Her words are always so beautiful and they inspired me to be intentional about noticing and seeking out the joy within my own life. All too often, I find that at the end of the day all that I am seeing when I look back on my day is the negative. It's all to easy to list off the things that went wrong and have an internal dialogue of complaints, but I want it to be different. I want my default to be one of gratitude and joy. So, my challenge is to reframe my day. To seek out those little joyful moments that bring my heart such warmth. Now that I am done my finals for the semester, I am hoping that I will post these moments more frequently. I'll provide a full reflection around Christmastime, but I am already noticing the beauty of this exercise working on my heart.

I've shared a couple of my joyful moments here, but click on over to my Instagram to see the rest.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Our Wedding - Two Years Later

So, back in December 2016 when we got married I had the best intentions of sharing about it here on the blog. We know how that went.

Instead of just letting it slide without actually sharing it, I figured late is better than never. With that in mind, get ready for a few wedding posts in the coming days/weeks. And feel free to ask questions! Even though I am now two years past when our wedding actually occurred, the important stuff is still definitely fresh and I have had a LOT of weddings in my life since then.

In the coming weeks I will be sharing about our pre-wedding events, the bridesmaid dresses, the groom and groomsmen attire, my dress, where we registered, our engagement photos and photographer, our videographer, our wedding photographer, our ceremony, our reception venue, and our honeymoon.

In the meantime, here is our wedding video teaser by On Reel Media for you to enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What I Have Come to Realize About Daycare

My thoughts and emotions have run the gamut around daycare and its role in the life of my family. For our family, the reality is that I will need to return to work soon and my husband is also working, so our daughter will have to be cared for by someone other than one of us. This being a reality and pretty much our only option doesn't make it an easy decision, though!

My Dilemma with Working
I really enjoy working, but I would also LOVE to spend my days with my daughter and any future children we may choose to have. I look around me, and a lot of the women in my life have chosen and are able to stay at home with their babies. And it makes my heart ache to be like them!

However, as I inch closer and closer to my return to work, I actually feel super excited about it! There is something to be said about having a regular routine that is outside of the house, to have responsibilities that do not revolve around my child or my family, and to have this part of my day that is just for me.

Heading in to maternity leave, I knew that I would have to return to work, but a major goal that I set for myself was to figure out what I truly want in this regard. I was feeling quite conflicted, partly due to the pregnancy hormones, and partly because I didn't actually know what was best for our family, or what I even wanted. For me to stay at home, or for me to work. Even though I knew I needed to return to work this time, I wanted to know if I was returning in order to focus on my career, because that's where we wanted me to be, or if it was for the ultimate goal of staying home one day.

To be honest, I still don't know. But, I do know that I am excited to go back and that is in large part due to my recent feelings about daycare.

My Thoughts About Daycare (For Our Family)
We have all heard the arguments for and against daycare; "your children need socialization," "you don't want someone else to raise your children." No one is right or wrong, because everyone's circumstances are different. But to have all of these opinions thrown at you makes it really difficult to figure out what you think and what is best for you and your family.

I think I fall right in the middle - my perfect situation would be having Isabelle in daycare around 60% of the time, with me working 40% so I have a bit of time at home or in my week to do other things before getting to focus on her. But that's not how it is for us.

Something that really helped me to realize daycare is a good fit for our family right now is learning Belle's personality as she has grown. She is extremely social. I mean extremely. She waves and says hi to any person we encounter; she thrives off of playtime with her cousins and friends; if she is grumpy and sleepy but not going to sleep for some reason, I just need to get her around other people and her mood improves before having the best sleep once we get home; and she can skip naps and not be affected as long as she is with other people. I am so much the opposite. I am an introvert, through and through, and while I can totally handle quite a bit of socializing, I don't think I can handle nearly as much as she actually needs. Enter daycare. She can spend her days playing with other children and learning to take direction from another adult, all while I go to work!

I am super thankful to have found daycare arrangements for Isabelle that I am very comfortable with and confident in. That has been the biggest challenge and stressor for me, so I am happy to have it settled. I would offer to share tips, but I don't really think I have any, and each city seems to have a different landscape when it comes to daycare. However, if you have any suggestions or tips for others, feel free to share them in the comments!

What ended up being the best situation for your family? Or what do you think would be best for you one day?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Maternity Leave Bucket List

maternity leave, coffee, bucket list

With Belle getting close to being one year old, the end of my maternity leave is drawing near (I live in Canada and we are blessed with an entire year for maternity leave). It has been pretty great, I would say! I love spending my days with my girl and being in my home and making an effort to keep it orderly and running. I have done a lot outside the home, too, but I keep feeling like I didn't quite make the most of my time off from work. Reflecting on it, I know that's not true; I flew with Belle to Ontario, I have hosted playdates and we have attended them, we have gone to the mall numerous times, we have gone for walks, we have taken mid-week trips to visit my parents and my in-laws, we went down to Gravelbourg to see my best friend and her baby (who was born eight days after Isabelle!), we took a family camping trip, and so, so much more.

As a way to try and combat this feeling, I decided to compile a list of things I would like to try and do at least once (or one more time) before I head back to work. Is there anything you would add if you were in my shoes?

Maternity Wishlist

  • Playdate with both sets of nearby cousins (or all of them at once!)
  • Host a playdate with friends
  • Walk along the river - I specifically want to park where I would park when I was working downtown and walk a big loop of the river, early in the morning; while we have gone on plenty of river walks, we haven't gotten to this iteration yet.
  • Walk to the mall just for the walk
  • Head out the door right when we both wake up for an early morning neighbourhood walk
  • Coffee shop visits (We have done far less of these than I anticipated, but they are also harder to manage than I anticipated.)
  • Go to the Farmer's Market on a Wednesday morning
  • Do an early morning visit to Riversdale 
  • Mid-week trip to Prince Albert to see my in-laws
  • Mid-week trip to Regina to see my parents
  • Go to a public swimming pool
  • Make use of my sewing machine and sew something
  • Finally get my office organized and tidy - the goal is to have it safe for Belle to crawl into.
I'm sure more will come to me over time, but I think this is a good start to help me direct my days. Sometimes the whole day will fly by before I realize that I didn't do much more than simply care for Belle, which is fine! But, I would prefer that those days be intentional rather than accidental. 

If you have ever been on maternity leave, what were some of the things that you liked to do, or what do you wish you would have done?

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

On My Reading List - Fall 2018 Edition

Along with my recent post about what I've been reading lately, I wanted to share some of the books on the docket for the coming months. I am hoping that this will serve as a bit of accountability to actually get to reading these books!

The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery
We're reading this one for book club and the discussion is at the beginning of November. I just got started and I am loving it!

The Grace of Enough - Haley Stewart
This is another book club read that we will be discussing at the beginning of December. We're all really excited to read this Catholic blogger's new book!

I Heart Forever - Lindsey Kelk
The next (and final?) book in the I Heart series; I am super excited to read this one as I really enjoy all of the books I have read by Kelk so far.

That's all I am going to hold myself to, since I also have two very large textbooks that I need to be reading. I am also hoping to listen to a couple audiobooks, but I haven't picked those out yet. Any recommendations for a good audiobook?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Reading Lately: Volume One

I keep telling myself that I'm going to share all of the books I have been reading here on the blog, but it really hasn't happened. I think part of my problem was that I don't really want to dive in and do these full reviews or even explain the books, I just want to tell you what I've been reading. So, I decided to start a little series here that will most likely not be on any sort of regular schedule, but it will pop up every now and then when I think of it or when I have enough books to share.

Before I dive in to the books I want to mention today, though, I want to chat a little bit about reading in general. I absolutely love reading, and I have from quite a young age. I always had books accessible to me, and I definitely made use of them. I was that kid who ploughed through my moms collection of Nancy Drews once I was introduced to them, and I was also that kid who read the large Harry Potter books the evening they came out (I'm super cool, guys).

In recent years, my reading habits have been sporadic, but something that has helped me get back to my love of reading has been taking part in a book club that my friend, Brandi, started up a little over a year ago now. The group consists of twelve women from four different provinces and we meet via Zoom videoconferencing once a month. We are all quite different, but the main thing we have in common is that we are all Catholic mothers. Our book choices have sometimes been spot on for my style and tastes, and other books have pushed me outside of my comfort zone - sometimes becoming new favourites and other times just falling short. But it's not about the books. It's the conversations we have! Goodness, those meetings are just so wonderfully fruitful I cannot even begin to explain how much they mean to me.

Oh, and in case you want to check them out, three other women from the book club have blogs: Liz; Brandi's twin sister, Amanda; and my sister-in-law, Hannah.

Being new to motherhood, I haven't found how to balance my time to allow for very much reading yet, so most of the books I mention here will be from this book club. I'll be sure to let you know, though!

Something else that has aided me in reading a bit more lately is setting a goal on Goodreads. Something about being able to log my progress and check in on how many books I have to go really motivates me to sit down and read instead of engaging in some other form of pastime. It's also fun to see where my friends are at with their challenges. Feel free to add me on Goodreads.

Now, on to the books I've been reading lately. I'm not putting these in any specific order, and it's definitely not chronological for when I read them. It's kind of going to just follow the order that they pop into my mind or when I think of something I actually specifically want to share.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society - Mary Ann Shaffer
I LOVED this book when we read it for book club! We read this ahead of the movie coming out, and then a few of us had a little viewing party at my house once it was available on Netflix. I totally recommend this book as well as the movie. Note: The movie is slightly different, but not in a horrible way, and the casting is SPOT. ON.

A Girl's Best Friend - Lindsey Kelk
I am a fan of everything I have read by Lindsey Kelk so far. Her books are what I call "chick-lit" - a light-hearted read that really draws you in and makes you fall in love with all of the characters. There is some scandal without too much promiscuity, and there is always a good underlying message.

One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both - Jennifer Fulwiler
This was a recent read for book club and I am so, so glad we chose it! I bought the Kindle edition when it was on sale for $1.99 and it was clear that I wouldn't have access to the copy from my library in time for our monthly meeting. This was the first book I ever finished in ebook format. I was so proud! But it was actually so easy. This is the perfect definition of a page turner. This book definitely ignited something within me to really pursue my passions, but to first narrow down what is truly a passion and what is just "so-so" for me. We had some great discussions surrounding this book and I find myself talking about it and recommending it frequently.

The Secret Keeper - Kate Morton
I wasn't excited to read this book and I can't remember why, but I was so very wrong. It was great! There is an awesome twist at the end that I kind of saw coming, but not too early (so it just made me feel smart, rather than ruin it for me). This was also a book club read, and the conversation around it was really engaging! What made it extra fun was quite a few of us that are in the book club also have a mom's group and we had our annual Mom's Weekend while some of us were still reading the book so we actually got to have a few in person chats, too.

So, that's a taste of what I have been reading lately! What have you read lately? Have you read any of these books? What would you recommend?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Summer Travel: Guelph, ON - July 2018

In July I took Isabelle on her first ever flight to visit some of my family in Guelph, Ontario. I had really wanted this to be a trip that all three of us went on, but we decided to use Daniel’s holidays differently so Belle and I jetted off just the two of us. It’s been over four years since I last got out to see these family members (don’t worry, they make their way to Saskatchewan multiple times a year), and it was, of course, Belle’s first time visiting their home.

My cousin, Kathleen, has been living in Saskatchewan for a few years now, but she is a teacher so she tends to head back home to visit her parents during the summer. I have been wanting to make the most of my maternity leave and get some travels in while I am off, and this definitely fit the bill.

Isabelle was a champ! I honestly could not have asked for a better baby to travel with. And we switched up the timing for the flights. The Flight there left around 5:00 in the morning, so we had to wake her around 3:30 to leave for the airport. Our flight home left Toronto around 7:00 in the evening. She was great for both!

We had a wonderful time. It was slower paced than I am used to while traveling, since I had a baby with me and all. I had to work around her naps (which were on a perfect schedule there, by the way – what the heck??), so we didn’t have the ability to go do as many things. It was really nice just relaxing and visiting, though.

The Secret Garden Tea House, Home of the Tea for Two

Tea for Two in Elora, ON
Even though we got a lot of relaxing in, we still did a few fun things! My cousin has been wanting to take me to this cute tea house in a nearby village ever since she first went herself. Oh my goodness. This tea house was fantastic, but the village was even more amazing! It’s so sweet and quaint and you honestly feel like you stepped into a little European village. I had a lovely time and I would love to head back some day.

Elora, ON

Note: When I went to look up the Secret Garden Tea House in order to link it for you, I see that they are closed as of September 30, 2018! This makes me sad. However, I would still highly recommend a visit to Elora, ON!

Outlet Mall
We made a day trip with Kathleen’s friend, Emilie, out to the Toronto Premium Outlets for some fun shopping. I almost bought a black and white Kate Spade purse, but it was right at the start and I didn’t want to carry it around. I had changed my mind by the end. I picked up a few items that had been on my wish list for a while.

Other than that, we just visited, went for coffee runs, played Settlers of Catan, and watched the first few Harry Potter movies – a half marathon, if you will.

Have you ever traveled with an infant by yourself? I hope to share my tips at some point, but if you have any of your own please share!

Isabelle and Auntie Kathleen

Thursday, August 9, 2018

It's Only This Way for a While

Gone are the days of sipping a latte slowly because it’s too hot while reading a book, praying, writing in my journal, or simply sitting and thinking, focusing on each sip, each breath. Nowadays I have a latte, whether made at home, picked up on the go, or on the table at an intentional coffee date, and I inevitably take a few gulps once it’s even slightly close to being ready to drink and then it sits there until it’s hours later or I’m about to leave the coffee shop, and I gulp down the remaining half cup or more in it’s icy state so as to not waste it. 

That was today. I met my friend Rebecca for a coffee date since she just (finally) moved to Saskatoon and we hadn’t seen each other in quite some time, and I had Isabelle in tow. My time was spent stopping Belle from emptying the diaper bag (she really wanted to play with her cloth wipes on the floor of the coffee shop), or looking down at my feet where Belle was playing to make sure she wasn’t getting into anything while trying so hard to listen to Rebecca and be present to her. As we packed up to leave, I kind of felt like I hadn’t really been there. I was about to step away from the table, and I saw my cup, over half full. Grab, gulp, and off we went. 

This is life right now. It’s a little bit chaotic, it’s completely different in the tiniest of ways, and I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Gone are the days of to-do lists actually getting checked off (or even written down, for that matter), of leisurely getting ready, of moving to my own rhythm. Right now I can’t find the time to go through my wardrobe, or to paint my fingernails. I usually get ten minutes to get ready instead of forty-five. It takes about ten times longer to get out the door than it used to (I’m still getting used to this, so sorry if I’m late when meeting you!). Everything is different, and I love it. 

This is just a season. This is just for a time. It’s only going to be this way for awhile, and I want to cherish it all. I’m not spending my time getting ready, because my baby wanted to sit on my lap and was grabbing for the mascara wand (not yet, sweet girl; wait a few years). I’m not leisurely sipping my latte because my girl wants to play. I’m not painting my fingernails because even if I had the five minutes to paint them, my little girl would inevitably cry right when I finished and need me and guess what? My hands that would lovingly pick her up and stroke her cheek would be far better used than by sitting and waiting for the polish to dry. 

I definitely still need things for me, in order to be the best version of myself. But that really needs to be intentional. I don’t have the luxury to not know what really makes me thrive and just try out all the things. Gone with the superfluous, and in with the life-giving, soul-nourishing good.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Meet Isabelle

Still in the hospital

Our sweet little girl joined us back in November, so I thought it was time she came to say hi! Isabelle was born a little over two weeks early at 5 pounds, 9.5 ounces. There weren't really any concerns or issues, other than being a little jaundice and of course her small size, but we were able to go home at the "normal" time for our hospital (the day after birth) and her health was monitored over the next week by visits from the Healthy and Home Nurses until we were in the clear. She is a feisty little one and super strong. She has a super sweet temperament, and is full of smiles.

Other than a mention here or there, you likely won't see much of Isabelle on the blog. If you know us offline and want an update or to see a photo now and then, let me know!

Isabelle at Six Months

Monday, May 14, 2018

What's to Come

This is just a quick post to let you know that as of next Monday, May 21, regular posts will resume on Sweet Spontaneity! I am so excited to get back into writing more and sharing my interests with you. As always, this blog will continue to be a lifestyle blog. You can expect posts about beauty, makeup, and skincare; pregnancy, motherhood, and babies; travel; and local Saskatchewan businesses and events, along with whatever else strikes my fancy. There will also be a series about weddings, where I will finally share about my own wedding that took place in December 2016. Better late than never, right?

Thanks so much for sticking around, and I hope you are excited about what's to come! Please comment below or send me a message with any post requests and I will do my best to add them to the list!
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