family

Sponsor Profile- PINK OWL PLANNING

As I begin write this post all I can think of is “Hi, my name is Brianna, mother of one and I am a serial procrastinator.” I know I have always been the first person to put something on the back burner saying “oh I’ll deal with this tomorrow” or “I’ll get to this later” whether it was homework, projects, or even putting the dishes in dishwasher, and I can tell you it hasn’t gotten better since having my son. I’m not saying my house is a disaster, and that I never finish everything, but I AM saying when my son is napping I’d much rather take a nap or catch up on my favorite TV show then do laundry, or knit the blanket I have had sitting half finished in the corner for MONTHS!

Meagan Fraser however seems to be the complete opposite! She is a mother, an entrepreneur, a designer, and one might even say a little crazy, but only in the best way possible! Meagan is the owner and operator of not ONE, but TWO businesses based out of Saskatchewan! My Pink Threaded Owl is a clothing shop specializing in mother and baby clothing, and Pink Owl Planning is her graphic design company.  She is so driven and creative!

 
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Meagan started The Pink Threaded Owl back in 2014 when she was pregnant with her first baby. “I've always had the entrepreneurship gene in me, but I had no idea what to do with it. When pregnant with my first baby, I pulled out my little blue sewing machine that I got in high school to make some receiving blankets. I put the machine away for many years after that to focus on my new baby and continue on to get a post-secondary education as an administrative assistant. I took little blue out for another spin when pregnant with my second little one – and I fell in LOVE. It's taken off from there and I've grown tremendously from baby blankets to where I'm at now with children and women's clothing.”

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Meagan loves creating new clothing, but if you ask her what her favorite thing to create is she cant name just one “That is a tough question! My favourite thing to make changes often – one day it will be a baby romper because they are so cute and teeny and another day it will be a women's hoodie because I feel so empowered to be able to make myself and other women clothing that are well made and fit great. An easy to put on and take off romper has always been an admired addition to any little one's closet but hoodies will always be a staple piece in most of my customer's wardrobes.”  

As a mother I know that I have spent many hours looking for comfortable, quality clothing, for both me AND my son and Meagan’s products definitely delivers both. You can tell that she puts a lot of time and love into each and every piece.

 
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Now, any normal person would stop there! However Meagan is not your average person, I’m starting to believe she may be super human! As I said she owns and runs another business Pink Owl Planning.

Pink Owl Planning “is Saskatoon's newest in fresh and modern graphic design and has been up and running for only a couple busy months.” She's even done designs Kings Court Events, you may recognize work for the “Spring into Summer” event coming up April 28th & 29th.

I had to ask this super woman what made her decide to start her second business, and it turns out that she was following her dreams. “Embracing my true passion for graphic design and entrepreneurship was a longer road than I thought. Deep down, I always knew I wanted to be a Graphic Designer, but I spent many years doubting myself living within my comfort zone. Working on the logo, branding visions and website for my clothing business gave me the confidence and that final boost that I can do this” Meagan has a passion and love for creating “all things branding. I genuinely love bringing other creative entrepreneur's branding visions and designs to life by creating unique, strategic and cohesive designs” What more could you ask for when searching for someone to create art for your business? 

Meagan will be at the Modern Woman Show this weekend, don’t hesitate to stop by her booth to see her amazing locally sewn and designed items, and if you need any graphic design work done- she's the lady to ask!

 
Be sure to stop by the  Modern Woman Show  this weekend for a chance to win this prize package generously donated by Meagan!

Be sure to stop by the Modern Woman Show this weekend for a chance to win this prize package generously donated by Meagan!

 

Happy Shopping!

Presence please as a new chapter begins

By Wendy Winiewski

It's been more than two years since the day we found out I was pregnant and 17 months since my daughter was born. I can comfortably say I was at peace with my body for nearly a year after her birth. Although I didn't conceive naturally I carried a pregnancy to term, easily recovered from a cesarean and kept my girl alive exclusively from my body for the first six months of her life through breastfeeding and just recently at more than 16 months of age, we finally had our final feeding.

 

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It's a job I've enjoyed. It was tough the first few months as I fed at her beckon call whether my tired body or aching boobs wanted me to or not. As the months have worn on breastfeeding became one of our favourite times of the day. After a long day of work for me and a long day of toddler-ing for her, it was our moment. The world slowed, our eyes would lock, her free hand felt smooth and light as a feather as it rubbed lovingly along my arm. I've spent the better part of 66 entire days feeding her according to my rough calculations. In our final months it would happen as naturally as most daily tasks. My lap and my legs knew exactly how to fold, my arms found their positioning and her baby body would slide into its spot like a hand in a pair of well worn gloves. Until her final day, we hadn't missed a single day since she was born. I appreciated our feedings as it's something my hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) ridden body shouldn't even have been able to do. 

Uncertain if she will be the first and last baby I ever have, I hesitated to eliminate this bonding time, if it weren't for that lingering question that's been bouncing around in my brain increasingly in the past few months - "will my cycle return when I stop breastfeeding?" 

"Return" is an interesting concept to me. How can something that hasn't happened naturally for me in more than a decade "return"? I began taking oral contraceptives in 2007. My last 'natural' menstrual cycle would have been immediately before that. Somewhere in there my body lost its rhythm and I'm hoping that the surge of hormones produced during pregnancy, will have been enough to kick start my reproductive system. Nothing I've read scientifically proves this happens, but we've all heard the story about so and so's friend who conceived via reproductive technology then, voila, got pregnant with another child out of the blue. 

The pressure to have a second child is heavy. Not nearly as heavy as the pressure I put on myself and others put on me, to have a first child, but it's still heavy nonetheless. Realistically, it's the only reason I've eliminated breastfeeding. 

We're building a new house. It has three bedrooms on the second floor. It doesn't escape me that tradespeople we encounter during the building process refer to the bedrooms as "the kid's rooms". After-all, any true family has at least two children, right? Many of those within my circle of friends who had children around the time Aeralyn was born, are now pregnant with another. It doesn't escape me that I'm not. It doesn't escape me that I may never be. My cycle may not miraculously return. The remaining embryo, Aeralyn's sibling/twin, waiting for us at our clinic may not survive being thawed. I may not have it in me to go through infertility treatment again.

And so here I am, caught in this place where I wanted to hang onto these special moments with a child who is possibly my one and only, yet knowing I needed to move forward to explore whether we can have a second child.

While it's difficult to enjoy the present while feeling restless about the future, I have managed to do just that. I fully and wholeheartedly breathe her in every. single. day. I put my cell phone away, our television is off during her awake hours, I try to complete the majority of my daily tasks while she's napping, and this allows me to just be present with her. I'm present. It's something I struggled to achieve pror to Aeralyn's birth. It's something I still struggle with now in other elements of my life. Somehow though, I have found present-mindedness, with her.

This poem is one I read years ago:

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It's one I bring to mind often when my days seem busy or my girl is standing in the kitchen reaching up to be held with a book in hand and I have a list a mile long that needs to be completed. Before long I find myself sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor with Aeralyn in my lap, food on the counters, and Old Mother Goose - nursery rhymes animatedly rolling from my mouth... because I never know when it will be the last time.

Her last time nursing is a moment I'm comfortable with. I've been weaning her ever so slowly since roughly eight months old. Eliminating feedings one at a time, and the last feeding, the one before bed literally being eliminated over the course of a month and a half getting progressively shorter each day. I breathed in the moment. My heart fluttered. My emotions came to my eyes but didn't spill over because I know the end of one journey means the beginning of the next.

Now a new journey begins, and that's the journey to growing our family. I hope to be present. Wish us luck...

Meet The Sponsors: Barndog Productions

The Modern Woman Show & Expo is fast approaching and it just wouldn't be possible without the major sponsors that make it happen behind the scenes. Today I'm talking about Barndog Productions, SK's largest one-stop shop for audio, video, lighting, stages, and technicans; they are the force behind The Runway fashion show that makes the production so fabulous. (Well, aside from me of course. #hairtoss)

From the lighting to the set design, their attention to detail elevates this fashion show from any run of the mill runway stomp, to something that is a yearly event to attend. 

Modern Woman Show & Expo 2017

Modern Woman Show & Expo 2017

Perhaps I should stop here and disclose: This is my family's company. So while I can sit here and write all kinds of accolades, people may wonder if I'm bias. The answer is probably. My parents, Al and Cheryl Vickaryous, and their hard work have afforded my sister and I many securities in life that most people would take for granted. The thing with growing up in a family of small business owners you learn firsthand what a serious work ethic looks like. While I don't quite breathe, sleep, and eat at my desk like my dad, anyone who knows me knows I've been nose to the grindstone since I could first work. Entrepreneurship doesn't come easy, but its well worth the freedom. And by freedom, I mean we get to choose which 18 hours a day we work, but we don't answer to anyone. Except the government that is. #sigh

So why do we do it? Big shocker, I don't like anyone telling me what to do. In case you didn't know, my way is always the best way. Ha.

Cheryl says she does it for the fame. Al says he does it for the chicks. 

But, I digress.

The business was founded in 1987 when owner and then professional musician, Al, decided to come off the road to be with his family. A tour bus isn't really a the best place to raise a kid, although it probably laid the groundwork for how cool I am. He started with one small audio system in our home, renting it out to local bands,  growing business organically from there, eventually having his wife, Cheryl, leave her full time job to join him as the business became larger. The most common question...  Where did the name come from? It was after our very first family dog, Barney, who sported the nickname "Barndog". That dog also ate the entire interior of our car. #funfact

Since then, they have grown to the only company of its kind in Saskatchewan that can offer all requirements of event production in one place without subcontracting or outsourcing to other businesses. With a community minded mission statement and an actual brick and mortar storefront and warehouse, Barndog is accessible to all customers to come in and discuss their needs with experienced techs, physically see what they are getting, and ensure that all aspects of their rental or event are managed and operated as required. 

They handle everything from  small rentals like speakers for house parties, weddings, business events, to large music festivals across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and everything in between; they are truly a one-stop shop for event production. They also provide installations for businesses, churches, arenas, and schools so that clients are able to have their buildings equipped with their own in-house systems. Or, if you are me, a house that can be heard from downtown if necessary. My neighbours may or may not hate my guts.

Their portfolio includes large scale events such as The Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, both the Juno Awards and Canadian Country Music Association Awards Fanfare, Dauphin's CountryFest, The Saskatoon Exhibition, Cameco Cares, and Rock The River to smaller community events like Word On The Street,  the Police Day BBQ, and many, many more. 

In addition to Modern Woman, they are sponsors of the Saskatoon City Hospital Foundation's Festival of Trees, the Children's Discovery Museum, the Saskatoon Royal University Hospital Foundation's Gala, SaskCountry Christmas, the Small But Mighty childhood cancer fundraiser, and of course, they lend their time to many local dog rescues. (I come by my dog lover status honestly.)
 

Barndog came to be involved with The Modern Woman Show & Expo working in conjunction with me in my position as the co-ordinator of the yearly fashion show, and are proud to support an event that showcases so many driven, hardworking entrepreneurs all in one place. 

VIP tickets to the fashion show on April 14, 2018 are available online at www.modernwomansaskatoon.com. Come check out the amazing stage, sound, and lights that make this show a must-see courtesy of Barndog Production's sponsorship. 

You can visit them at online at www.barndog.ca or in person at 149 Jessop Avenue in Saskatoon, SK. 

Until my next post friends, keep on keepin' on!
Katie
xoxo

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Excuse Me While I Disconnect

I am addicted to my phone. I’m the first to admit it and the first to get defensive when someone calls me out on it. My husband is the same. And a phone addiction does not bode well for marriage or family life. He would get mad at me for using mine and I’d get mad at him for his. We were at a stalemate. We both knew we had no right to complain about the other because we were both equally terrible; him for his games (I curse you Clash of Clans!) and Flipboard, me for social media and working outside of work hours. It was out of control. Plus, we were becoming increasingly concerned over how our bad habits were affecting our daughter. She’d repeat herself over and over because we weren’t listening and had recently started saying, “look up from your phone!” RED FLAG, right?

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Science is showing there’s huge issues with cell phone use and, specifically, social media. It’s time we start listening and doing something about it, especially if you have little kids who are always watching. The notifications we receive trigger the release of dopamine, the pleasure juice, in our brains. That little sound or symbol announcing someone has reacted to us in some way keeps us hooked to it, the same way people become addicted to drugs or sex: the pleasure dopamine releases keeps us coming back for more. Dopamine is created in many areas of the brain and is linked to many brain functions such as thinking, sleeping, mood, attention and reward. We’re a society addicted to instant gratification and our phones are the perfect tool to obtain it. We’ve become addicted to social media and its likes and shares. We’ve become addicted to gaming. We’re addicted to the “know”: if you need to know something -- anytime, anywhere -- Google it. I’m addicted to social media and the “know”, plus the habit of constantly looking at my phone mindlessly. It was becoming a serious problem for me but there aren’t steps or help available yet for internet/phone/social media addiction. I had to do something though so, after some careful research, my husband and I agreed to both implement some changes.

I have to believe there are many more people in this same boat: addicted to social media and the “pings” of likes and messages or hooked on games or obsessed with watching stocks or watching YouTube videos. So here’s what we did to start:

 

1.       Make folders on your phone. Organize your apps. Put them into the folders. Push them to the second ‘page’ of your phone. Dopamine loves colour and we now associate certain colours with certain apps (blue, anyone?) so keep your main page void of triggering and brain excitable colours.

The main page of my phone. Limited colour, no "fun" apps. 

The main page of my phone. Limited colour, no "fun" apps. 

The second page has all my folders and apps

The second page has all my folders and apps

2.       Delete the apps you really don’t need. Do you really need four recipe apps? For me this was Facebook, games and my Kindle.

3.       Turn off notifications. Don’t let those “pings” get to you!

4.       If you do a lot of work from your phone, download Hootsuite or another similar app to schedule posts. Take an hour to get them ready and scheduled and walk away! The app will do the rest.

5.       Start with a simple rule to get into the flow of change. For us, it was no electronics in our bedroom. This meant no more computers, phones or TV allowed. It also meant investing in an alarm clock.

These few rules were easy to get into. Logging into Facebook from my web browser felt more like a pain than it was worth so my social media time cut back significantly and immediately. I had thought turning on the Night Shift display on my phone wouldn’t trigger my brain as much so I was constantly using my Kindle before bed. But I quickly learned that the disease I thought I had from my constant, unexplainable exhaustion was in fact from using my device before bed. What a relief to know I wasn’t dying!

Those five rules still apply but we’ve now gone deeper since. We’ve now decided no phones AT ALL after 7 pm. They get left in the kitchen and we walk away. Of course, if the phone rings we will answer it but it rarely happens for us these days! Once we are ready for bed, phones go on silent. I thought it would be a hard transition but the benefits are outweighing the discomfort. Here’s how:

1.       I never realized how addicted I was to my phone until I didn’t have it beside me. Now, when I’m in bed and I pause while reading or journaling, I will AUTOMATICALLY reach for my phone without thinking! How crazy is that!? Think of how many times I was picking up my phone unconsciously with it always so close! However, knowing this makes me fight harder to get over this and be more conscious when I do have my phone nearby.

2.       My quality of sleep has improved 1000%. Like I mentioned before, I was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong with me because I was so exhausted all the time. I was lethargic and foggy, moody and irritable a lot of the time but especially in the mornings. I changed my diet, bed time, number of hours I was sleeping, pillows, you name it only to discover it was using my phone right up until bedtime that was keeping me from a restful sleep. I sleep like a peaceful baby now and sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night blown away I have so many more hours to sleep because I will feel so rested already by 2am or so.

3.       My circadian rhythm is re-balanced. Similar to above, my body is more in tune with its natural rhythms and cycles now. Before we would stay up later than necessary only to find that second wind that would keep us up even later and in turn, we’d sleep in later than we wanted. We now go to sleep when our bodies demand it, usually around 9:30 and are up at 6am with no troubles. We wake up refreshed, energized and ready for the day! Also, a 6am wake up sets a really good tone for our day. We are usually up before our daughter so that means we can get some quiet, uninterrupted things done. For me, that’s typically a yoga session and a hot cup of coffee. For my husband, it’s stretching and a long, hot shower. We make a healthy breakfast now instead of mad dashing to the kitchen to throw smoothies together before running out the door as we did previous to our phone disconnection.

4.       My marriage is improved. Can you say pillow talk?! Lots and lots of pillow talk! My husband and I communicate so much more now that sometimes I look at him and think, “I’m still learning so much about you and its been over a decade together.” I feel like I’m falling in love with pieces of him all over again and learning new pieces that have since fallen into place in him. We actually talk now in the bedroom versus us getting into bed and picking up our phones. There’s no showing each other videos or articles, music with headphones or social media. It’s just chats and whatever else is supposed to happen in a marital bed! Our bedroom is more intimate and cozy now; something that wasn’t at its full potential with phones and TV in the way.

5.       Our family time is more meaningful and plentiful. We spend more time together as a family. We bake goodies, play board games, snuggle under the blankets with the occasional movie or TV show and we talk more. We’re currently teaching our daughter about gratitude and spending time each night to share what we are feeling grateful for that day. I don’t know if our more mindful presence is the contributing factor but our daughter is also a better listener and helper. I don’t have to ask twice for her to clean her room anymore!

Just one of our new family evening hobbies: baking! She's always so excited to lick the beaters!

Just one of our new family evening hobbies: baking! She's always so excited to lick the beaters!

6.       I’m more conscious of the time I do spend on my phone. I run my business, a non-profit and my blog from my phone so it’s easy to be a slave to it. I was so scared of losing business or readers or opportunities if I wasn’t available 24/7 that I kept my phone near me at all times. Now I know that I can operate on normal business hours and the messages and emails can wait until “open” the next morning. When I do want to surf because, let’s face it, social media and the internet can be really fun and informative, I set an alarm on my phone and will give myself an allotted block of time for it. Otherwise it’s easy to start scrolling only to look up and see that an hour or two has passed. It sucks you in! An alarm keeps me in check and knowing I have only 20 minutes makes me more apt to read articles that interest me (like mindbodygreen.com) than to scroll Facebook.  

7.       I’m already detaching from my phone. When I’m in public or with friends, I keep my phone put away now. This has allowed me to have nice conversations with strangers, witness beautiful things happening around me and be a more active listener for my friends and family. I’m actually annoyed now when I’m with people who are constantly texting/on their phone in my presence. Be respectful of your friendship/relationship and be present. In that moment, that connection is all that matters and it’s more meaningful than anything you’re seeking through text/social media/internet. BE PRESENT.

All of these changes began about a month ago so the transformation is quick and incredible. I can only imagine how life will be in a few more weeks or even months as we become even more present and mindful. If any of our addictive habits with our phones/electronics resonates with you, I urge you to adopt a couple of our rules and try it yourself. It really is a huge benefit to yourself and everyone around you.

 

Motherhood. It's #allofthethings

Last week my sweet baby turned one. He is a legit walking, talking (okay mostly babbling) little human being. A little human being who has amazed me, challenged me, and taught me more about life and love in the last year than I could have imagined possible.

Motherhood is way more than I thought it would be. It's all encompassing and it's full of surprises. It's exhausting, its thankless at times and it's FULL of rewards.  In the last year I have experienced every emotion the human soul can, I've done things I didn't think I was capable of doing, I've felt like a superhero and I've been sure I was a failure. There are no parameters to motherhood, no hard and fast rules, and no way to be prepared for most of it. Motherhood is SO many things.

It's seeing the adoration in his bright little eyes when he looks at you like you are the only thing in his world.

It's eating bites of food off his highchair tray in between sips of re-heated coffee for breakfast. And sometimes lunch. And sometimes dinner. 

It's a top knot and sweatpants. And probably food / milk / puke on your shirt.

It's turning absolutely anything you say into a song to calm the crying. Or whining. Or both.

It's waking up at 12am. And 3am. And 5am. Its learning to power through on broken, interrupted sleep. 

It's seeing him take his first steps and cheering and clapping, and then bursting into tears. 

It's struggling to accept that your body is forever changed. It's leaning into and celebrating the change. 

It's being out for a much needed drink with your friends and praying the text that just came through says "He's fast asleep!" instead of "When can he have advil...?" #teethingmonster

It's wanting a break SO BAD and then missing him when you get it. 

It's watching him sleep and listening to him breathe instead of looking at your to do list. 

It's forgetting if you've done something/ bought something / called someone back.... seriously I can't remember shit... #imsotired

It's being exhausted and emotional and still being expected to be all of the things to all of the people. 

It's learning to sleep sitting up with him on you, or beside you, or between you, because getting him to sleep trumps where he sleeps that night. 

It's the feeling you get when he only wants his mama. 

It's playing peekaboo through the shower curtain so you can wash your damn hair (but probably not blow dry it).

It's missing out on plans, and parties and spur of the moment things. And being totally okay with it (like 95% of the time). 

It's asking for help. Because it really does take a village. And sometimes the village is family and friends.... and sometimes it is the Superstore click and collect and a Starbucks drive through #allofthecoffee.

It's your heart bursting and breaking at the same time. With love, and awe, and wistfulness at the time going by way too quickly. 

It's a 24 hour a day gig. And it's the best gig I've ever had. 

xo. 

Megan

photo: Nicole Romanoff Photography

photo: Nicole Romanoff Photography

What do you mean I can't have a baby?

It just doesn't seem fair does it? You spend a portion of your life learning the importance of properly protecting yourself from unplanned pregnancies, use all the contraceptives, or perhaps you even abstain. Like how many times have you had a pregnancy scare and felt like your world might come crumbling to a halt!?! Fast forward a few years, perhaps even a decade and you literally couldn't get pregnant if you tried....like really tried. Everyday tried. Millions of doctors appointments, getting poked by needles, scheduled intercourse, more appointments, monitoring everything, waiting, disappointment, and more waiting. If you could only make money off all the times you were told, "Don't worry it will happen when it's supposed to". F*^$& that noise. 

Que sadness, despair, resentment, and self-pity. 

Infertility is a real thing. It's a really sad thing and I know way too many people in my life that have experienced it. No one tells you that your dreams of being a mother might not come true. What do you mean my ovaries are blocked and I have never been able to conceive? That would have been great to know 10 years ago! Could have saved lots of worry and some bucks. Yes, adoption is an option but it's not the idea you had in your head. And to start it all off you will wait months before the doctors will even look at you, then spend zillions of hours with specialists, now testing, waiting, hormones- great!, and more waiting. How far will you go to get that family you envisioned? Is IVF in your cards? And more importantly, how much can you endure to get there?

In 1984, the estimated percentage of couples with fertility problems was 5.4% [MediResource Inc. ]. In 1992, this number increased to 8.5%. And today, the estimated prevalence (total number of couples with infertility) is up to 15.7%. So whats up with that? Sources say that multiple factors could play a role into why we have literally tripled our numbers within my lifetime. Most noted would be the fact that women are simply waiting to have kids and as we age we become less fertile. Obesity, chronic diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase which can also play a vital role in these growing statistics. 

Now, I personally don't know what infertility feels like - i'm speaking on behalf of the many women in my life that have recently gone through it. I do know what miscarriage looks like. It's equally as ugly. It is heart-breaking and in my opinion brings up a lot of the same feelings that goes along with it's nasty neighbor - infertility. My reproductive reality happens to be recurrent miscarriages. unexplained. I could simply get sneezed on and I will be pregnant. Keeping it just isn't in the cards. It has been one year to almost the day since the last one. I found myself in the same situation as the rest - trying to hold back the flood of emotion, keeping it together as essentially few people even knew I was pregnant, and just told myself to move one foot in front of the next. It's okay...you are a seasoned vet by now. It's gotta get easier, right?

Now the doctors will tell you that it is SOOO COMMON. Among women who know they are pregnant, 1 in 6 pregnancies (some studies say even 1 in 4) ends in miscarriage [NHS Choices. Miscarriage. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/Pages/Introduction.aspx]. Really? What is just no one talking about it then? After my first miscarriage I spent hours researching this bizarre phenomenon - but how does a fetus's heart just stop? I became obsessed....I had to know everything I could because I certainly didn't want to go through that again and I think I had to reassure myself that it was not something that I did. 

Here is what I know about miscarriage and/or infertility, like the #truthbombs:

1) If you have experienced either, you literally will resent people that announce they are having a baby. It's okay! If 1 in 6 of us are going through this just imagine all the fake smiles and forced (but also well intended) congratulations that are happening. You are not alone. Grin and bare it girl!

2) Having scheduled sex is hard on your relationship. And so is peeing on a stick every month to only see one line. Also those sticks are over priced and there isn't one that is better than the rest. Ohhh digital...must be more advanced...sure charge double. If it gives me two lines then sure! Let me try it.

3) You become slightly crazy after a miscarriage and/or fertility drugs. I'm not sure if its the combination of grief/anger and the hormone changes but like bat shit crazy nuts. It goes away, you will eventually feel normal again. Soon you won't cry at a drop of a hat or lose your mind because the laundry didn't get folded. 

4) It's 100% not easy and you are not alone (see stats above). There are forums, chat rooms, and support groups. It feels better to know that someone is feeling the same way as you. It takes a little bit of that pain away. Source one out or talk to someone that understands.

5) For those of you that haven't experienced infertility or miscarriages - thank your lucky stars and be mindful of others. It seems common to ask, "Why don't you have kids?" Just don't ever ask that. Like ever! To answer your question, they either don't want kids or are trying.

6) Life is precious. The experience makes you realize how bizarre this whole livin thing really is! Our bodies are so complicated and it really is a miracle to be able to conceive and give birth to a healthy human. Slow your roll and enjoy life. We get wrapped up in our own ideologies and "our plans" that we forget that today is as important as tomorrow. So live it. 

There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes - David Platt

Supporting those you know that have suffered a miscarriage or battling with infertility can be difficult but it's important for the healing process. Even if you don't know what to say making yourself present goes a long way. To all those that are fighting the fight - stay strong - we are standing with you. 

Chan XOXO

 

The Difference A Year Makes

Today I turn 34 years old (happy birthday to me!). Birthdays are milestones, and milestones cause reflection for me, this year perhaps more than usual.

Flashback to one year ago today- I had just days before my 33rd birthday found out I was pregnant (surprise!), and my entire life shifted in every way possible. The year to follow would turn out to be one of the most challenging and rewarding of my entire life. I met the love of my life almost 5 months ago... his name is Asher, he is an amazing and beautiful tiny human and he is my son.

Last March I was running a business, managing a team and creating jewelry on the side. Fast forward one year.... I spend my days nursing, changing diapers, singing rounds of "How funky is your chicken" and making faces to get giant smiles out of my little mister. I get puked on roughly 12 times a day. All of my clothes were black...now they are puke stained black. I am a different person now that I have a child. I didn't think I would be, but it is impossible not to be - I have another human being who is an extension of me. Through the ups and downs of the last year, going through a not so comfortable pregnancy ( that is a whole other blog post!), and navigating the early days of parenthood with my partner, I have learned many things - and many things have shifted.

Most of my life I struggled with saying yes - to people, projects, plans. I wanted to do #allofthethings, and I wanted to do them myself. Instead of delegating tasks and projects at work -something my boss had been trying to teach me for months (hi Anna!)-I hoarded them all because I wanted to be a part of everything. It wasn't really working for me then, and it very quickly stopped working for me when I became pregnant. It was then that I (finally) learned a very beautiful thing... I learned to say no. I learned to delegate to my team, and how to lift people up and help them grow by playing to their strengths. I learned how to put myself first, because now I really had to... and I learned that is not selfish, it is powerful.

Asking for help has never been my forte, in any setting. I could do #allofthethings myself, and handle any curve-ball life threw at me alone, why would I ask for help?! Another beautiful lesson that I learned this past year. You know what happens when you ask people for help? They help you. I know right?! Whether I needed help with a project at work, moving into our house before baby came, or now needing support in taking steps to deal with post partum anxiety - I learned asking for help means my people will help me. With love, and without judgement.

"Living in the moment" has taken on a new meaning to me. What used to mean spur of the moment plans, or turning a morning breakfast date into afternoon patio drinks and laughs with my bestie, became letting Asher nap on me for 2 hours and soaking in his little baby snores. It's pressing pause on writing this blog post 5 times to bring him laughing onto my lap and play with his little baby feet. While I miss those all day adventures, and staying up late laughing into the night, I know they will come again. This little man will not cuddle me all day forever (whyyyyy?!), and so I pause, and I enjoy. Most days don't go according to plan right now. Plans go awry, tasks don't get done on time and now? I go with it.

I've always found the little things in life to bring the most joy, and I've realized a new appreciation for those little things in the last year. A full cup of hot coffee, an extra long hug, five more minutes of sleep (any more minutes of sleep!). A partner who tidies the house as he walks in the door from work, a friend who sends a simple heart emoji in the middle of a rough day, a gummy baby smile from my son. I have found that these little things are the big things to me now.  A year ago I packed a million tasks and plans into my days, rarely taking the time to slow down and pay attention, opting instead for the self inflicted busy-ness I thrived on. In the past year, I have discovered a newfound appreciation for my partner, for myself, for time. These days I find supreme excitement in purchasing the stroller I wanted instead of new suede booties for myself, I plan Asher's outfits for outings instead of my own (because I will be wearing puke stained all black, obviously). Social engagements after 7:30pm require more planning and a breast pump and wandering the aisles at Superstore doubles as "me time". I find myself content and really, I wouldn't change a thing.... except the puke stained clothes.

xo,

Megan

 

 

 

HAVE YOU LOVED YOU TODAY?

It’s the day of love.

A day when the world tells you to appreciate your significant other by buying them a red rose, a piece of jewelry, and making a reso at a nice restaurant.  I love jewelry, flowers, and good food so by no means is this blog post about the commercialization of Valentine’s Day.  This post is more about the things I have seen over the course of my almost 34 years.  I came across a Facebook status yesterday that struck a chord inside me. It read “No Longer Looking”. It wasn’t that this person had found love but instead felt frustrated that they simply couldn’t, felt deflated, and wanted to give up.  I want to tell the world that the only person you need to love is yourself and here is why-

My opinion varies on the subject.  It seems to be in human nature and probably a lot to do with the culture we live in that we join hands and walk two by two-before you get too old or you are deemed faulty.  If you reflect on past generations we have certainly come a long way from marrying within your postal code and not skipping a beat to start your family. Today, there seems to be less pressure to marry in your early twenties and jump into the minivan.  I still hear women talk about the time clock, how they wish they could just find the “one”, and have kids.  It’s like the movie Pleasantville.  We are not fulfilled in life if we don’t have the white picket fence, perfect home, and a variety of charger plates for our dinner parties. And look at little Chantal’s view on her future….I was drinking the Kool-Aid.

My 10 year old self predicting the future...

My 10 year old self predicting the future...

Well it’s safe to say that my path didn’t quite end up with a cargo van of kids, a multi profession career, or the horses. I blame the Hasbro game “Life” …if you took the college route you made bank, throw in a few of those extra pegs and you were set to WIN.  Now, the storybook of my actual life had a bit of college, some travelling, and a variety of relationships including a short marriage. Far cry from the routine pathway I took in my favourite board game. 

What the game of life also didn’t teach me was it isn't as easy as falling on the space that said GET MARRIED- then place your appropriate gender colored peg in your car.  It was much more difficult.  I had a theme for over a decade- it was simply to pick the wrong guys. It has taken quite a few years to figure out the common link to each of them and in all my reflecting it was the lack of self-love. People simply have to be happy with themselves to be happy with another person.  I was also to blame because, staying or picking these types of men in my life was normal and I made it acceptable to be treated that way.  I lacked the love for myself. There was everything from mental abuse, alcoholism, dishonesty, manipulation, infidelity, oh the list goes on… over years I became a shell of a person. It was completely normal for someone to treat me with complete disrespect.  It became all I knew.  Even when I would end a bad relationship I seemed destined to arrive at another one.

I took a stand one day.  Told everyone around me that I was not interested in dating ever again. I was over it.  No one could be trusted.  I wasn’t willing to have my heart ripped out of my chest anymore.  Maybe it’s with age I started to learn who I was and that I refused to be mistreated.  By no means would I say that I have the world of relationships figured out but, I started to feel more confident and secure when expecting to be treated a certain way.  I wasn’t going to stay silent and just live with it.  I used to be so scared to stand up for my feelings. Fear that the other person would judge me and maybe they would walk away- be the one to leave me!  In the end…isn’t that better? To figure out that you’re not each other’s person before another 3 years goes by.  ‘Fake it till ya make it’ doesn’t work in matters of the heart.

When I look at all the people that surround my life I can directly pin point the ones in relationships that I believe are great examples-relationship mentors.  These individuals love themselves (not in a selfish, I only put my needs first kind of way) but in a I respect myself enough to choose a partner in life that treats me the way I demand to be treated and I also show that same respect back to my person.  I watch some relationships from afar and just think...if only you knew that you don’t deserve to live like that.  People had looked at me and I can guarantee they said the same thing. 

So in closing I want to reiterate that no one should ever feel like their life is behind because they haven’t found their person, started that family, with horses, on that acreage.  You will stumble, question your gut, then your heart, then your gut again.  You will curse the game.  But get back in that car and enjoy the ride.  Learn from your mistakes, no really….actually learn from them.  Recognize the red flags and the green ones too. 

So on this day of LOVE, I want to ask you...have you loved YOU today?

Chantal XOXO

I'm not your mom. I'm Chan

As we approach the fourth year of the Modern Woman Show; the blog team and I have decided to reflect on the last year’s growth and changes. For myself I have always found that your world can be turned upside down at a moment’s notice and we have to learn to roll with the punches.

Hand me a work issue, rental property mishap, or multiple chronic diseases, and I GOT IT (with a little wine and some grumbling).  Now, add a whole new dynamic with a little eight year old, call me dad’s girlfriend and see me squirm.  I’m a fish out of water. KIDS. Shit. This sounds scary. It’s a tough gig this ‘stepmom’ role especially when you don't have children of your own. You never really know how you will be accepted by the family, the existing friends, and most importantly by the kids. In what ways will this effect your future? Will you sacrifice your goals and plans? And don't forget the ex wife who might pop out of the bush at any moment - that is a whole other level of stress. What do you say? What do you not say? Don't screw this up! Everything is so delicate. 

It happened and now you're attached to the kid(s). You love them with all your heart and can't imagine life without them. But a nice dose of reality sets in. You are not their mother

Today i'm offering a little advice to those second in command. I'm not a counselor but I have had personal experience as a kid of a blended family and now in the reverse role. So i have compiled a little list of dos and dont's. 

* Support your partner’s parenting decisions. You are a united front. Offer feedback and conversation out of earshot of the children but remember that you are the co-pilot in this particular journey. Kids like stability, so provide that. You may not have your shit together but the kids need to think you do.

* Be a good listener and don't force the process of building a relationship – when you are yourself it tends to happen naturally. Kids feel the pressure of being loyal to their biological parents. Don't make it more stressful for them. This process does not happen overnight. 

* Understand and accept that your friendship is a valuable piece in this little humans upbringing and being a positive role model everyday will always have a huge impact on who they grow up to be. We all have gifts that can be shared with the world. Find those common interests. Mine happens to be love of hockey and Nutella by the spoonful. 

* This is not for the weak. It can often feel like life in the trenches. Unless you have been there you truly can't understand. Somewhat like an outsider. Especially so when you don't have children of your own. Keep open communication with your partner and it can be of great comfort to talk to someone who shares this same role.

* You can't fix what you didn't break and just KNOW that some battles can't be won or more importantly -shouldn't be won. Be supportive. Be kind. Be patient. Be honest. And sometimes going to the safeway starbucks to take a breather is needed. It can be your secret spot. Just make sure to save me a seat.

I really want to say kudos to all the stepmoms and stepdads, the girlfriends and boyfriends who accept the challenges of a blended family. It’s a tough job but you are nailing it. 

And remember...

LOVE MAKES A FAMILY

Chantal

Taking Care of You

Throughout the year I aim to take one or a few trips for myself. Most of them are work based. I feel it’s very important as an entrepreneur to surround myself with like minded people as often as I can. I generally like to go travel away from home to do this. So over the past few years I’ve hit the coast or abroad to attend workshops and retreats.

A few years ago I attended Pender Island on the west coast of Canada with a group of other photographers, none of whom I knew from a hole in the ground. I really just knew them as Facebook followers.

I was in between kiddos/nursing so I just hopped on the plane and went for it! It was a three day weekend, with the sun shining, ocean breeze,  long night time visits about marketing and different techniques. Daily photo shoots were organized by three fabulous woman that put on the weekend retreat.

It was heaven on earth. Not often do I get to talk shop all weekend and these people actually want to talk back about it. It was beyond amazing for my soul. SO much so that I went back the next year...only this time I was carrying along a 4 month baby bump with child numero 3:)

year one

year two

I also keep up with local blogs and blogs afar. The beauty of the internet is you can get your hands on anything from the comfort of your own studio.  I find great inspiration in what others have to say. It’s nice to stay current and on top of things especially in this”now” world we live in. I also love instagram. I find it a more positive platform than Facebook. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, but alas it’s great for work. I am finding more clients are booking through Instagram than Facebook. more interaction. If you’re not already, follow my shenanigans at @demophoto

 

I am excited to announce that I will be headed to Los Angeles at the end of January for a super intense 2 day workshop with Promise Tangeman and her GOLIVE hq team.

What is this you ask?

They are an unreal team of graphic design artists and the workshop is to launch a brand new website in 2 days flat. This of course is done with a month and a half of homework on my part beforehand. I have been wanting to attend this workshop for over 4 years now. But growing our family kind of put a hold on things for awhile. This workshop books up super fast so I jumped on it. I can not WAIT to show you all what we come up with. I am stoked to have a more cohesive and responsive website/blog that speaks more of who I AM. over the moon over here people!

In closing, I can’t state enough that my best self care is time spent with these beautiful littles and this handsome man of mine. We are counting down the days to our next camping trip. It can not come soon enough.

These sweet faces brighten my days and warm my heart.

(below images by: Jesslaine Elise Photography)

Joc XX

 

deMo Photography