Communication Skills, Happiness, Learning, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, time management

A Tool for Parents Interested in Better Time Management and Lifestyle Design.

Takeaway: This article shows how to gain some awareness (and better choices) in your schedule by becoming more aware of your speech

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Have you ever been at a friends’ house for a playdate and you wind up observing the interactions between your friend and their partner, noticing the differences, or maybe similarities in how they talk to each other versus how you talk to your partner?

It’s easy to observe others talking, but with practice, we can turn this same observation on ourselves, and in here is massive personal growth and self development.  The technique of becoming an observer of your own speech is powerful when it comes to better time management and lifestyle design.

Read on, especially if you struggle with saying yes, or you find yourself frequently overcommitted or overbooked and frustrated that you don’t have the space to act on things that are of higher priority (or interest) in your life.

If you think about it, we walk around with many thoughts and ideas in our head.  More than 40,000 of them in a day, actually.

Out of all of those thoughts and ideas, which ones do we choose to put out there into the world?  Which ones remain our “inside voice” ‘and which ones become our “outside voice.”  When you think about it that way, you realize that speech is powerful.

Nobody knows what is going on inside of us until we speak.

Technically ,we don’t commit to anything in our outside world, or bring our future into existence until we speak.

When you think about next week, you’re just visualizing it.

When you talk about next week, you are designing next week by talking about things, committing to things, speaking next week into existence.

We design our life by speaking, and there are a few “speech acts” that commit us to our future.

Making a declaration (next Tuesday I am going to a playdate with X.)

Making an offer (would you like to go to the zoo next Wednesday with the kids?)

Making a request (I’d like us to get outside more next week.)

Making a promise (I’ll get that back to you by next Thursday.)

 

An example is today, we are getting outside with our kids for some fresh air. Thursday is designed.  When did it become a plan versus a thought in my mind?

Last week.  Last week I said to my husband,

Me: we need to get the kids out for fresh air (vague request.)

Husband:  I’m off on Thursday, we could go out in the morning (declaration.)

Me:  How about we go to the zoo? (offer)

Husband:  Great idea! (accept)

So I:  *Put it in the calendar.

There you go.  An idea floating around in our heads that we both agreed on.  Then we designed our upcoming week with speech acts (a variety of them in this conversation.)

As you begin to think about this, and watch yourself in conversations this week, notice what your tendencies are.

Reactive Tendencies:

(your week is planned and you are left asking yourself, why do I have all this shit on my schedule that I don’t want to do?)

Do you make promises or offers to other people?

Do you tend to plan your week based on other people’s requests (that you’ve said “yes” to) or their declarations (letting them take the lead.) 

Proactive Tendencies:

You don’t make promises or offers.

(You declare your priorities and what you have capacity for and want to achieve in the upcoming week – yes that means putting it out there in speech 🙂 and you say No as well as Yes.)

You plan your week based on your own and your family’s requests (which brings me to an interesting point, do you KNOW what you need in your upcoming week and do you have the speech skills to not let other things get in the way? Can you say NO to other people’s stuff, so that you can protect and experience your own stuff?)

 

Questions for you to take away:

This week, I simply invite you (with this knew knowledge) to observe yourself and what your tendencies are.

How do they influence how your days and weeks unfold ?

If you are interested in designing a lifestyle and a future that works for you, how do your speech acts work for you in designing that?

How do they work against you?

 

 

Podcast

The Great Parental Leave Podcast – Episode 001

Show notes for the Great Parental Leave Podcast, Episode 001

In Episode 001 of the Great Parental Leave Podcast, I share my story and journey into parenthood, and what drove the creation of the Great Parental Leave Blog.  I believe that parents do not have to ‘survive’ parenthood and that they can ‘thrive.’  We do this by ensuring that we ourselves continue to grow, evolve, and dedicated ourselves to personal development.

LISTEN BELOW!

The Great Parental Leave Episode 001

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Right click here to save this episode to your computer.  

Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, health coaching, Physical Wellness, Working Mom, Working Parent Life

Returning to Work from Maternity Leave and Depression at One Year Post Partum.

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Currently I’m working through a hard season.  I’m in a disease flare-up (severe exhaustion and pain) and a depressive episode.  The two intermingle and make it a very difficult time mentally, emotionally and physically. The gravitational pull is hard to overcome and this is where self-care checklists feel almost impossible to accomplish. You’re just in an entirely different head space, mood space, and body space where any one of the checklist items that used to make you feel good, that you logically know will help you, just don’t appeal enough to overcome the total lack of vitality.

I’m not writing this post to have a giant complaining session, because there’s an important point I want to make at the end when you’ve read through this.

First, that you are not alone, and second, that this kind of stuff is a great gift.  I know, that sounds ridiculous, but read on…

xo

 

I’ve been through both before, but this time it was compounded by driving myself into the ground at work. And truth be told, this round doesn’t feel straightforward to get out of. There is a deeper matter here of who am I and what does my soul need?

I think THIS is the million dollar question that we must ask ourselves, when we find ourselves in a state of dis-ease.  Not just disease (illness) but not at ease.  Unhappy. Dissatisfied.  Frustrated.

With my return to work, I came back to the same pace I had always gone at.  Except, this time I was ill, tired and also the mum of three kids.  I jumped straight back into my old habits . I just kept working bigger, better, harder, faster.  I stopped taking breaks, or self care, or anything.  I love what I do, I truly do and that’s why it was so easy to get back into that crazy unbalanced work mode.

But here’s the thing. My symptoms don’t discern between work I love and work I don’t love.

They discern between  I am taking care of my soul and I am not taking care of my soul. I beginning to suspect that disease + depression are so closely intertwined with whether we are on the right path for our souls at any given point in our life’s journey, or soul’s journey.  I believe they are a reliable indicator that we are ignoring our own intuition, and the body’s best way to yell at us to pay attention 🙂

I had returned to work in the summer fresh off my disease diagnosis, surgery, 3 kids under 5 and major passion for my side projects and full time work.  I was excited that I had negotiated to work 4 days a week for the first few months.

Then, it began to all fall apart.  First, I was feeling great so I came off of my SSRIs. I think that was not the wisest choice in hindsight.  If you are on anti-depressants, no matter how good you think you are feeling, do not come off of them in a major transition!

As I found myself back at a desk and in pain, I began to struggle with a level of exhaustion that I’ve never known.  It was so bad that I desparately sought out places to lie down on breaks, struggled to put my socks on (immobility) in the mornings, a few urgent care trips, and increasing panic at work with every additional meeting, or project in an already full schedule with people waiting weeks to get one of a few coaching slots. I have an hour commute each way, and each commute was filled with this horrible impending sense of dread – dread that work demands were far exceeding what I was capable of.  Doubts that I could keep up to others as a mother of three That I couldn’t handle my own life. Usually, this is a pretty good sign to buckle down and take care of oneself.  Except, I was so far in, I couldn’t even claw back the time for ANYTHING that fuelled my spirit. Nor was I motivated to.  Being outside in nature. A social life. Creative expression.  My happiest places couldn’t lure me back.  Mostly, I just wanted to lie still, sleep away the pain and exhaustion and shut my panicking mind down.

My days became – Just drive to work. Work like a madwoman (keeping up the standards of a worker without 3 kids.) Buy unhealthy snacks and a crazy amount of coffee to keep me going.  Drive home. Make dinner. Put the kids to bed. Pray for no-one to wake up. Go to bed at 9. Repeat.  This is the story of so, so many people out there. 

Nothing was keeping my soul afloat, and I could tell that was making the disease worse too. Yet, I couldn’t clamber out, because in my mind I would say to myself “ah, you’ll get through this just start going to the gym, get an extra nap, etc.” You know, the usual self-care checklist. But I literally couldn’t move past the exhaustion, pain and total lack of desire to do anything.  I ignored intuitive alarm bells.

And that friends, is depression.  You feel so utterly overwhelmed and exhausted that you want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world. You don’t know where or how to begin, because nothing you knew before, seems to work this time (or it still does but you’re in a bleak place and totally unmotivated to do them, and the gravitational pull of the bed / rest is too intense to overcome.)

That is depression and auto immune disease intertwined.  And this, for any of you parents out there reading this,  is when you get your ass to your doctor, and a psychologist and be KINDER and more LOVING to yourself than you have ever been before. That is when you dig deep and listen to what your soul really needs.

It’s time to start listening closely to your intuition in the moments when your brain stops panicking and rushing.  The Universe has been sending you hints all along as to what is right for you, it’s just that you’ve been ignoring them.

So at this point, it is sending you MAJOR hint bombs that what you are doing is not ideal for you at this stage, place, moment in your life’s journey and that change is ahead.

Depression and disease can be one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever receive because on the edge of massive shifts for the better, is suffering.  Suffering prompts us to shift, to change, to grow, to listen to our intuition and get one step closer to who we really are.  Yes, it’s a shitty process, but it is one where pain overcomes fear.  Suffering forces you upward and forward and will not allow you to stay where you are.   There are always, always gifts and rewards from the hardest moments and that knowledge is never lost, even in tough times like these.

 

time management, Working Mom, Working Parent Life

Time Management is about Letting Some Things Go. What I’ve Learnt about Trying to Clean the House with 3 Kids

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Let’s get into REAL time management skills for REAL parents.  I’m not going to list a bunch of life hacks and tips and tricks.  We all know that if they worked, none of us would be struggling and frantic and thinking how the F do I keep up with my life right now with these little kids and all of the things?

I ask myself this all the time, and then, very often about 30 seconds after I ask myself this, someone will ask me how I manage to have a career, a creative side hustle, co-found and scale a company and run a podcast with my husband – and have a lovely family life with my husband and three children under five.  Then I get a bit of perspective and realize, I must be doing something ok.

My answer to that question? The truth is, I don’t try to do it all and I consciously practice not doing things.

Some days I let go and accomplish nothing, others I am doing all of the above and loving it.  So, my first answer, is go with the flow of your energy and what feels right.  Experiment with gearing up and gearing down in your life, become flexible and adaptable and able to.  The day you feel like you can’t relax or gear down is the day you KNOW you need to practice that more.  Lately I’ve struggled with that and I let it go far before practicing it again.

My second answer dives deeper and it explores what we do with our time…and…equally important…what we don’t do with our time.  As a time management specialist, I see more issues with the latter.  Everyone’s trying to do more, but at the same time, struggling to decide what to let go of, in order to let other things expand.

The code for modern parents is kind of like the olympic motto “citius altius fortius” which means faster higher stronger.  Except our code is basically more of everything, much faster, and on a bigger scale of accomplishment.

I’m getting better with managing this…  I am becoming increasingly selective over where my time goes, and my children gave me that gift, as they have for you.  You’ve realized with kids that those windows of free time are so limited, and you are way more purposeful about it, right? You are using that time to really act out that future life you want, right?

I am SO proud of you if you are making progress in that direction, and if not, this is a wonderful personal development piece to try out and practice that will benefit your life hugely.  You’ve got this blog to help you get there 🙂

Let’s break it down…

1.) Identify the things to keep and spend more time with:

One of the best things you can do is sit down and reflect on your values, the things that are deeply important to you. Yes this will take a deliberate and conscious effort to carve out the time to do this on pen and paper.  Less thinking.  More writing it, speaking it and doing it. Don’t let them fade away into the mists of your consciousness for the 100th time.  Write them down somewhere.

To prime your brain and tease out your priorities and values, you can answer these questions:

At my eulogy, what would I want people to say about me?

In the last month, where have I felt most happy, creative and inspired, what was I doing in that moment?

When do I wish time could stand still?

What are the most important values I want to pass onto my kids?

What do I admire most in other people? 

What my idea of a perfect day with my family and what are the feelings that come up when I imagine that day? 

What do I say “hell yes” to? 

Identify your “hell yes” categories.

They do change and develop over the years.  Just a few of mine I have written down are:

Time in and appreciating nature

Learning

Kindness

Serving others in elevating their lives

Authenticity and openness

Creative expression 

 

2.) Identify the things to let go and examine why you struggle to let go of them:

As Steven Covey says, the most important thing is to have the YES categories burning inside of you.  When you have those, it is easier to set boundaries and say NO to other things.

That is the other side of the time management coin:  Saying no to things which do not align with those priorities you sat down and clearly outlined.  These are the pieces where you practice the art of letting go.  I fully appreciate that this is harder than it sounds. Most of my clients really struggle with this piece and it takes practice.

Where have I let go?  My house.

I don’t often have people over (or if I do it’s a close trusted circle) because truthfully, it’s much messier than the average house and I don’t care to spend huge chunks of my day cleaning it, neither do I have the means to hire housekeeping right now.  I know my house bothers some people, others it is no big deal.  I want to say it’s easy and that I am okay with that piece and I’ve let go of any and all challenges around that – but that’s not how life is – we have to work at it, acknowledge our internal struggle and then make the choice that aligns with us (not others’ priorities FOR us.)

Yes, I still have to work through the inner shame that activates in me all the time, but I can make a choice now instead of act unconsciously.

So I choose to rebel, ignore the judgements, perhaps not have the people over that don’t feel comfortable with our house, and embrace the ones who embrace our crazy house style.  Let me tell you, it’s freed up so much time to deepen what I really care about.

Instead of feeling guilty I’ve explored it enough to know it is on a level, “learned shame” because a messy house does not align with how I was programmed:  Growing up,  society’s expectations in general (check out people’s houses on social media, there’s only a few brave souls who show their house au naturel,) family and outside judgements that continue to this day, not to mention the remnants of general gender roles and unspoken expectations.

But with awareness there’s something else you develop.  Choice.  You’re human and will feel those feelings, you will feel the fear of judgement, and then you can shake it off or cave to it.  Which lines up with who you really are?

Do I cave to other people’s judgements and spend hours cleaning my house over and over to maintain what is largely a facade of a clean organized house?

Or do I stay true to the values and priorities I set out for my self, in terms of how I want to spend my day? I know which one leads to the life I’ll be proud of.

And then… I take my kids outside.  To free play in the beautiful fall weather.

Because that’s the life I want, and that makes me alive.  Not spending more time cleaning my house, to avoid the judgment of others and keep up to expectations.

It’s truly not for me.

Kraft dinner comes out of shag rugs easier when it has dried and gone hard, anyways 😉

~

Moral of the story:

With better awareness comes freedom to make a choice.

With choice comes actions that align with who you are, and who you want to become, and the life you want for yourself and your family. 

Always, always before saying yes or no just ask yourself quickly in your mind:

“Does this align with where I want to go, who I want to be, what my future life shall look like? If it does, keep it.   If it doesn’t, let it go.  That is true time management.  

 

Gear for Kids

My Favourite Personalized Christmas Stockings and Christmas Sacks for Families and Dogs!

Need to get some personalized christmas stockings from Etsy for your family and fur babies?  Now is the time.  My kids are growing (1.5, 3, 5) and I can’t get away with their baby stockings anymore!

I know Halloween hasn’t happened yet, buuuuut I get these blogs up while the 3 kids are sleeping and THIS YEAR I AM NOT PANIC BUYING AT THE LAST MINUTE.  Anyone else joining me?

One of my true joys is finding fun and unique gifts, particularly for stockings.  I remember as a child being SO EXCITED to get up early and open Father Christmas’ gifts in our stockings, and then the presents once the grownups were awake!

So let’s start with that.  Since gifting is my love language and I go to town on the stockings (because they are the most fun) I’ve moved away from stockings and …well…umm.  We like Santa’s Sacks 🙂

Etsy is THE BEST Place to go for beautiful customized stockings at all price points, many of the sacks are priced between $25 and $50.  There are plenty of more traditional stockings, as well. The nice thing is they are usually one individual running the store and you get to communicate directly with them.  It is so much easier than dealing with a massive beast like Amazon Prime (though I haven’t had issues with Amazon Customer Service so far.)

Here are some favourites I’ve found on my Etsy travels (and make sure you explore the entire Eugenie2 store, her stockings are AMAZING!)

Personalized Christmas Sacks:

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$25 Etsy Shop:  Holiday Apparel

Personalized Dog Stockings

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$13 Etsy Shop:  My Embroidery Craft

Personalized Traditional Stockings (EXPLORE THIS ENTIRE STORE!)

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$53 Etsy Shop:  Eugenie2

Family Activities

Fun and Free Activities for Families in Calgary, Things to do in Calgary with Toddlers

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Hi everyone!  My husband and I are taking a class called “debt destruction” which includes lots of brilliant financial coaching and habit reconstruction.  One of the topics that came up recently was family entertainment expenses.

This summer, with a 3 and 4 year old, was quite a big shock to the system – why? We started getting them into registered programs.  We easily spent several grand this summer on that – we definitely accumulated some pretty good debt in the process. A  registration for September here, a camp there, summer school for two little ones and a few other things added up FAST on the credit card.  I endeavoured to pay these things off once I returned to work from mat leave but as you know, you are so busy playing catch up on other things, you don’t do it!

After that, my husband and I realized that we simply can’t (and don’t want to) keep up with the registered stuff with three kids, and we both like more flexibility in our schedules and spontaneity anyways. We’re all for free play and random adventures and hate having our schedules booked up.

So, if you are feeling the same after this summer, and have toddlers and young children in your house, here is a list of fun and frugal family activity ideas in Calgary!  Crafts deserves its own section because it is a passion of mine, so stay tuned for seasonal craft posts.  But for now, some ideas for fall!

Fish Creek Library (amazing section for the kids with free story and song times) 

Downtown library (visit the firetruck (Engine23) for stories read by real firefighters!)

Grab a copy of Calgary’s Child Newspaper, sit down with your iphone and add events into your calendar that capture your interest.  So often we simply forget what’s going on  / coming up.

Devonian garden and its fantastic indoor playground.

Calgary Police Headquarters Youth Link / Museum is AMAZING for the little people

Baking – no comments, not my area of strength lol

Community skating and toboganning areas

Cycle along the pathway in east village – there is an excellent playground by the East Simmons Building.

Go hiking

Tumble time / play time in community centres. Usually weekday mornings. Our favourites?  Lake Bonavista ($4 per kid, from 9:30 – 12:30) and Mackenzie Lake Community Centre.

Explore the many pathways, steps and gazebo at Reader Rock Garden

Many community churches also have parent-tot playgroups and non-denominational events.  Most of them are listed on Meetup! 

Go on a Halloween scavenger hunt – print out pictures of pumpkins, ghosts, etc. and get the kids to point them out / cross them off.

Look at Calgary Meetups, Rad Mums YYC or Born to Be Adventurous Mamas YYC for Calgary Mom get-togethers outside in nature.  Free!

Take the kids and a few logs down to Fish Creek Provincial Park, roast marshmallows in a firepit.  If it’s snowy, take maple syrup and try making maple candy!

Sip a coffee at the Calgary Farmers’ market while your kids play in their cute little indoor playground (free)

Buy a 12 pack of submersible colour changing LED lights, make a GIANT bubble bath and pop a light in there for each kiddo.  This was a HUGE hit with my kids.  I like these ones on Amazon! – You can also pick them up in Safeway!

Attend the Michaels Craft Stores $2 kids craft Saturdays 10-12, sign up in store.

Download the Geocaching app, or buy a few cool things from the loonie store and do your own treasure hunt in the trees with the kids (they LOVE this stuff.)

City of Calgary pools have $2 family swim days, these are called “Splash Swim” – they are busy, but very affordable!

In Inglewood, visit Plant YYC and pick up some ‘terrarium supplies’ and a miniature figurine or two.  Your child will love collecting moss and making their own little house.

Make a fairy garden, you can buy cute doors at Michaels and spend only $5 – less if you use the weekly 40% off coupon (use the Flipp App)  – they have theme doors based on the season which is SO fun!

Book a visit to Calgary Children’s Reading House in Inglewood

Watch planes take off from the YYC airport runway (there is a great viewing area at the end of the runway) – the Edward Laborde Airplane Watching Area 

Set up a tent in your basement, the kids LOVE “camping out” in it!  You can even give them some LED lights for their ‘campfire’ and marshmallows on sticks.  These are easily available in Loonie Stores.

Go to Loose Moose Improve Theatre’s childrens’ shows and watch your kids hysterically laugh!

Snow?  Toboganning!  Check out this great toboganning park review by Family Fun Calgary! 

 

I hope these got your creativity going.  Get out there and enjoy! xo

Kids Activities, side hustles

How I Wrote and Self-Published a Children’s Book using Kickstarter!

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With small children, my days are filled with requests to read a book.

Especially before naptime or night time!

As a book lover, perusing stores for wonderful children’s stories has been a fun part of parenthood and I hope to instill a love of reading in my children with beautiful stories and rich imagery.

Do you remember in elementary school getting the little scholastic flyer with books you could order, and you’d get so excited waiting for your order of new books? Ahhh, such a good memory (if you liked reading of course!)

There are some amazing childrens’ books, and I’ve taken to buying independently published books like this incredible book by adventurer and photographer Chris Burkard. Check out his Instagram account, by the way!

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The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth, my Favourite Childrens Book That I Found on Kickstarter!

Truth be told, there’s some shitty ones on my bookshelf as well.  And my kids pull those to read alllllllll of the time, and I catch myself moaning and promising I’ll get rid of them secretly.

As a side note, never be afraid to get rid of the books you don’t like.  The whole point is to actually read to your children and if it’s a book that YOU don’t enjoy, it’s pretty unlikely you’re going to read it to them, right? 

Here’s the process of how I self-published a children’s book (step by step overview)

There are so many things we can decide to do with our money.  We all make decisions around where we want to spend it.  What if you took some of your money you were going invest in your child’s education, or toys, or clothes, or whatever, and created a permanent, long-lasting legacy for them, by writing a book just for them?  Honestly, it is such a cool thing to do, regardless of whether you want to sell the book later on.

I personally couldn’t find any beautiful fantasy-inspired children’s books with gorgeous artwork (I grew up loving fantasy stories, mermaids, Pegasus and other magical creatures) so that got me thinking, it would be nice to have one for my children.  I also wanted to impart some really important lessons to my children.

We all raise our children hoping to share the truths we’ve come to discover in our time on earth.  What legacy do I want to pass onto my own children?

-A beautiful, creative and magical imagination they can tap into and escape to.  I want my children to have a vivid inner world. I believe magic exists if you believe in it.

-A sense of stewardship and love for the natural environments they have the privilege of growing up in.  Our next generation are the caretakers of this earth.

A sense of adventure and playfulness.

-A connection with bravery and courage.  I want both of my children, both male and female to know that courage is being afraid and doing it anyways, and that the greatest rewards & growth come with the greatest challenges.

-The knowledge that they have a deep inner well of innovation and creativity.  I believe this is something no computer, no technology could ever replace, and it is our duty to encourage each generation to tap into their brain’s potential (the human brain is not used to its full potential yet, we have far to go.)

The importance of lifelong learning and the constant pursuit of gathering knowledge and wisdom.

Big stuff, right? I decided to put these into the story.

 

The project was daunting and in all honesty, I didn’t know where to begin. But it felt right.  And that’s an important point.  You can have the biggest bucket list in the world but you also need to have an intuitive sense of when the time is right for one of those projects, and the patience to wait if it doesn’t quite feel right. I thought about this for 2 years before I did it, and felt ready in 2016.  I consider this the biggest check mark off of my maternity leave #2 bucket list (I started it on mat leave #2 and finished it just before mat leave #3.)

 

SKETCHING OUT THE STORY LINE & WORLDS OF KINTARA + FIND OUT A WAY TO BRING THE IMAGES TO LIFE

I started with sketching out some visual representations of the images I had in my mind for this story (many are based off of recurring dreams I have had since I was a child.)

I turned to Deviant Art.com, an incredible community of artists, and found a spectacular fantasy artist who took commissioned work and who had a beautiful visual style that matched my vision for the book’s artwork.  Over a number of calls and emails back and forth, we decided on 8 different worlds and renderings for a negotiated price.

BOOK COST RESEARCH

Next, I researched how much it would cost to put the whole thing together and print it, using different size dimensions and options.  I went with a Canadian company to start with, because it felt right to do so for the first edition print which was for my Kickstarter backers, and it was also my first time doing it.  It worked out to a few thousand dollars.  On-demand printing seemed to be in the $30-$40 range through blurb.ca (eventually I’ll find a more affordable printer but in the beginning my priority was to just get it done!)

RAISE SOME FUNDS TO PAY FOR ARTWORK AND A FIRST PRINT RUN

Obviously, I don’t have thousands of dollars to throw around on mat leaves, lol, so I decided to put myself out there and launch a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds to pay for the artwork and print about 50 copies for backers.

I set the reward to be a copy of the book. It was my goal to cover the graphic design and printing with my campaign, which I set at $2000.  I really didn’t research Kickstarter a lot, I just figured it out as I went and looked at campaigns for books that I had bought for my kids and studied what they did.  I’m sort of glad I went in there so naive and overly confident.  It’s a lot of work to run a good Kickstarter campaign and once it got going, I threw myself in with daily updates, sharing of the story and development as it went along.

The Gates of Kintara Childrens’ Book Kickstarter campaign was successful.  To be honest, you really have to hustle hard on Kickstarter and social media to raise funds in time (Kickstarter prefers you stay within a 30-60 day window btw.)

Kickstarter also works on an all-or-nothing basis.  You have to meet your stated goal.

I was so grateful for my network of family and friends who were incredibly supportive and generous – they were the primary source of startup funds (95%) , with a few random donors  (5%) from the Kickstarter world!

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DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARTWORK:

The process was very fun, taking each image, developing the structure, then the colours, and sending each written page to the artist with an outline of the message I wanted to convey.   It is a surprising amount of work.

I spent every lunch time at work, over the course of a year working on the book, but what a cool way to spend lunch hour!

Here’s an example of the forest world.  In this world, the little girl (in her dreams) meets a magic being who encourages her to take her magic talents (caring for the natural world) back to her earthly life.

 

The little girl in this book is actually my daughter (I sent a photo of her to the artist) and each world is the landscape of recurring dreams I’ve had since I was a child.

PUTTING THE BOOK TOGETHER, FORMATTING AND PRINTING:

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This is where things got technical and if I’m being honest, super frustrating because this is where I hit a wall with technical ability. I simply couldn’t get the hang of how to use the Blurb Book formatting software or In Design software, and the terminology for the book dimensions and setup was like another language entirely to me.    Not to mention at this stage, I was very pregnant and about to go on maternity leave #3 and wanted to be done!

My brother has graphic design knowledge and totally helped me out with the formatting,  I pretty much sent him the artwork and he managed to get it all into the dimensions and pdf format for printing through Blurb.  The thing with blurb is that they offer discount codes of up to 40% so WAIT until one comes out and THEN print.  A 40% off code was conveniently released just in time and the second it came out, I jumped on it.  WITH the code it still cost over $30 per book, so anyone serious about self-publishing and selling printed copies should definitely consider other means, as you simply cannot compete with the children’s book market at those prices.

GETTING A BAR CODE IN CANADA:

In Canada, you have to register (free) for an ISBN Code (ISBN = International Standard Book Number) and all of it is done through the following Government of Canada website for no cost. Simply follow the steps and it is a very quick (less than 2 weeks) process start to finish.  I did this step right before formatting the final book for printing, as you’ll want to put the ISBN on your book cover (I put it on my back cover.)

PRODUCING AN E-BOOK

Once the hardest part is done (formatting for printing) I had to think abut formatting for an E-Book and possibly selling on Amazon.

I approached the project as three parts:

1.) Develop the book (1 year)

2.) Get the first edition printed and Kickstarter pledges fulfilled (2 months)

3.) Share the second edition with the world 🙂

     This third and final step has a lot of pieces to it:

– Edit a second edition (I am picky and want to edit the fonts and story now that i           have read it to my children many times!)

– Find cost-effective printing to make it commercially viable.

-Share it on my Podcast, the Great Parental Leave (read it for the kiddos!)

-List the 2nd edition on Amazon as a paperback and E-Book

I hope this gives you some inspiration!  Of course this is a major bucket list item and isn’t for the faint of heart but truly, you can do anything your heart desires and if you approach it the right way, it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune to self-publish a children’s book.  I did mine for less than $500 net cost when all was said and done.

I have a beautiful book written for my children now (my daughter loves that it is her in the book!) and a permanent legacy to leave them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crafts, Kids Activities, Nature and Forest Play

Nature Crafts for Children and Toddlers – Autumn Leaf Wreaths for Kids

Up here in Canada, the days are touched with the cool air of autumn and we’ve even had our first snow (!) which says to me, beautiful autumn is going to be a quick one this year!

I wanted to share one of my favourite autumn crafts today.  I am passionate about nature-based crafts that get the kids outside.

This craft checks the box for getting them outside, out gathering all sorts of things, and it is also educational in that you can talk about colours. Also, they get to glue things.  If you are a toddler parent you know that anything sensory is a WIN!

So I present to you, fall autumn leaf wreaths.  By the way, this is a craft that costs nothing to do unless you need glue and pens!

Supplies:  -An old cardboard box, cut into a wreath shape and cut out some leaf shapes.

-Pens

-Glue

The best part of all of this is getting the kids outside to gather leaves, sticks, pinecones or whatever else they would like for their wreath!

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When you return from your walk with your bounty of autumnul goodies, have your kiddos separate the items by colour or sort them while you cut out a round wreath shape  and a few leaf shapes from any old cardboard you have kicking around (diaper boxes are great for this)

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Next, add some colours to the wreath and create some ‘leaves’ with pens!

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And then, the part they’ve been waiting for… GLUEING.  Kids love this stuff.

And eventually, you will have the sweetest little wreath (my kids added “icycles” since their nature walk involved picking leaves out of the snow!)

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Physical Wellness

What Bra Should I buy for Breast Reduction Surgery? Recommended Post Surgical Bras.

I typically get asked, what Bra should I buy for breast reduction surgery? What bras did you buy for breast reduction surgery recovery?

I’ve had quite a few messages on instagram also asking for an update on how recovery from my breast reduction surgery has gone in July – so here’s my first post, on bra recommendations!

I can definitely say recovery has gone very well! This past Saturday I was able to run 15 km down a mountain as part of a team for the Lewiston Ultra Trail Race in British Columbia. I wore a backpack that had straps across my chest, and a Lululemon running bra, and I didn’t have any soreness.  I feel fully healed at this point.

So let’s jump straight into the bra recommendations, I had two for post surgery that I spent money on (definitely not as much as my old, engineered bras from Addition Elle to contain my massive boobs, but there is a range of price points for post-surgical bras so I wanted to show you this and what I would have done with the power of hindsight.)

I got two bras:

1.) Clear Point Medical Bra $32.00. This is a general post-surgical bra with a front closure from ClearPoint Medical from my surgeon’s office (the classic comfort bra) that fit C Cups with a 42 band size.  I went into surgery about a 40 DDD/E and came out a C36.  $32 online.  Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 12.09.37 PM.png

The 42 band (bigger than what I am) was useful because I wound up putting gauze in underneath my breasts on the incisions, so you want something a little larger in band size.

The key is to have a bra with no underwire and a front closure  and the same cup size or down depending on how far you go down (to be determined with your surgeon, just ask them what cup size bra you should buy) – you’ll be swollen *and* you don’t want a tight or compressive bra.

You won’t be able to pull a bra over your head or use a rear-fasten bra the first 3 or so weeks.  It is cheaper to buy white or skin tone bras but I preferred black because then I didn’t have to deal with getting all sorts of stains off (and I could use it.  My Clear Point Medical one I wound up throwing out.)

2.) The other bra was a Glamorise Comfort Front Open Underwire free Leisure Bra which are pricey, at $40 and NOT available on Amazon prime, so shipping.  $$$.  I was all stressed about surgery and having a good bra so I paid.  Whoops.

Honestly you really don’t have to pay much for that post-surgical bra, which is why I added a third recommendation below.

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All you need is a comfortable, basic bra with a front opening.  With that knowledge in hindsight, I would have gotten one of these below in black!

3.) Carole Martin Women’s Wire-Free Full Freedom Cotton Bra $15

The best price / good review combo though, are the Carole Martin front closure cotton ones  available on Amazon for $15 (below)

Recommended Bras after breast reduction surgery

 

Once your boobs have recovered, the swelling is down and you are feeling good and ready for a rear closure bra, have fun! I cannot tell you how liberating it is to shop for bralettes, and pay less than $15 for a good bra.

Honestly I was used to having to pay $70+ for bras that could handle (and contain) my huge boobs before surgery.

I am enjoying the underwire-free life as well, that’s a huge benefit of reduction surgery, because your breasts are lifted along with reduced.   🙂

Good luck!  I don’t speak for all breast reduction surgery patients, only my own unique experience, but I thought by adding my voice and experience to the interwebs would be helpful to the larger dialogue.  This is (not) medical advice, so please consult with your surgeon / specialist, especially on sizing for a post-surgical bra!

Good luck, it is one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself.  The results are amazing! xo

Happiness

What to Do with a Baby and Toddler in Calgary in the Fall

You asked for it, and here it is!

Wonderful things to do with your baby and toddler in Calgary, in the Fall!

Esker Contemporary Art Foundation has events for little ones including a hands on art class for ages 3-5 and “bring the baby” exhibition tour & discussion with other mamas.

You can also attend Michaels Craft Stores Kids’ club on Saturday mornings. For less than $2 your kids can spend an hour doing crafts! This week they are making pumpkins.

Calgary Corn Maze, Kayben Farm, Heritage Park, Butterfield Acres and other attractions always have fun fall programming (paid admission) and are a beautiful fall day out.

Weekday discounted parent & tot swims at Calgary Leisure Centres, often $2.

Ghouls Night Out at Heritage Park Oct 25-28

Fish Creek library in South Calgary has a spectacular play area (and grab some books there!) or visit Fire Engine 23 (downtown library)

Buy terrarium supplies at Plant YYC (let your toddler pick out the figurines) and build a terrarium with them!

Pick up a fairy door & figurines from michaels and create a fairy garden under a tree.

Visit princes island park & playground. River cafe is nearby for gourmands – sandwiches to go maybe?

Go to Calgary Farmers Market – kids can play in the indoor playground. Let them pick out some vegetables and make a mixed vegetable soup.

Make warm apple cider or hot chocolate and go for a walk in Fish Creek.

Collect pine cones or go on a fall nature scavenger hunt with a printout of nature items or colours to match.

Visit Calgary’s amazing playgrounds – Calgary Playground Review has a playground map by quadrant!

Go on a hike – 10 hikes for preschoolers to do near Calgary (we love Alder Trail in Bragg Creek and Heart Creek Trail)

Visit the lovely reader rock garden (toddlers love the steps) and have a treat at the cafe afterward.

Rent bike gear & kids trailer from Nomad Gear Rentals (they come to YOU!) and ride the downtown parkways, 15km around Glenmore Resevoir (or) through fish creek’s pathways.

Visit the beautiful sensory garden(fragrant garden for the blind) outside the Canadian National Institute for the Blind Building.

Drop your little ones for the 2 hr yoga sprouts class (unparented) at Wymbin Yoga, have a pint at nearby cold garden brewery (kid and dog friendly.) or on Saturdays, join them for family yoga!

Drop in climbing & coffee at Boldr Climbing Centre. Playpen to contain little crawlers 🙂 amd very family friendly.

Enjoy the variety park playground and then throw rocks in the water at south glenmore park. Go for a warm treat at nearby goodearth cafe glenmore landing.

Book a visit to the spectacular Calgary Reads “Childrens Reading Place” House

Visit Treehouse or Hide n Seek for a toddler friendly indoor playground experience (but we prefer the less expensive tumble time community play dropins.)

Visit the kayben farms pumpkin patch and pick a pumpkin out

Balance biker? Visit the fish creek mountain bike skills park on bow bottom trail in the south.

Collect leaves of different shapes, sizes and colours. Buy googly eye stickers and put them on the leaves!

Don sweaters and toques and have a fall picnic in one of Calgary’s many parks with playgrounds. Our favourite is Pearce Estate Park. If you are there on a weekday morning, you can also feed the fish at Bow / Sam Livingston Hatchery.

Grab incredible baked goods from la boulangerie bakery on 4st then stroll along the river and again… picnic 🙂

Explore the Calgary corn maze with flashlights (Friday and Saturday evenings)

Take the kids for a romp at community play times, Lake Bonavista Tumble Time, West Hillhurst & Mackenzie Lake are our favourites! (Mackenzie lake has coffee available!)

Find a giant pile of leaves (often a great spot is city tennis courts or princes island park and confederation park.)