Saturday, 24 August 2019

Day Dates For The Entire Family, Featuring The TD Summer Reading Club

It's so hard to believe it’s August already! How many of your little ones are feeling the summer slide?!

We definitely are.

With school right around the corner (eep! the first year of school! I can't believe it!) we've been trying to up our brain activity and give Elliott little goals to work towards, like reading and writing, which he has been enjoying so much.

Elliott loves to read, and we’ve been avid readers from the time he was in the womb.
I remember our first book purchase was titled Grumpy Cat. It always reminded us of Luna and it’s still go-to read with both Elliott and Noelle.

It’s so important to develop early reading habits with kids. Studies have shown pre-schoolers and toddlers who are read to regularly have a larger vocabulary, a better understanding of everyday life and wider knowledge of different topics that can help them embrace school life down the road.

I really believe our enthusiasm for reading has rubbed off on Elliot because he is already a book worm, which has helped him get better at writing each and every day.

Example: He is great at spelling his first name, but his last name needs some work. I have a family photo hanging in the kitchen that says, "The Clarkes" and I kid you not after I pointed out that our last name was right there, he caught on to the Clarke spelling in two days!

He’s so eager to learn, he’s gone through our personal book collection at home a few times over.
To help us expand our current book collection, we decided to join the TD Summer Reading Club. We’ve also been looking for a family-friendly day date, something educational and fun for all ages so we spent the day at the local Sackville Public Library.

As soon as we arrived, we were warmly welcomed at the reception desk and lead to meet Shelby, the youth programmer and library assistant, who is also a TD Summer Reading Club librarian.
Shelby was very sweet and had already set aside a few books she thought the kids might like -Thanks, Shelby!

Babies and animals for Noelle - she was so engaged from the get-go! (that's when I realized we need to make this a weekly date) and superheroes and dinosaurs for Elliott.

Both the kids were able to sign up for library cards which made them feel so special, swiping their very own cards at the checkout. It was such a great day for the whole family!

Before leaving we made sure Elliott picked up his TD Summer Reading Club booklet to record the books he reads. The library staff were all so friendly and patient, they encouraged him to sign his name in the booklet and talked to him about setting reading goals to help build excitement about learning.

If you haven't heard of the TD Summer Reading Club, I'm going to break it down super quick so you can get involved and keep it on your radar for next summer!

The TD Summer Ready Club is Canada’s biggest summer reading program. Even better, it’s FREE (bonus, there's also incentives for kids to join!).

It’s offered at over 2,000 public libraries across Canada, and celebrates Canadian authors, illustrators and stories. It’s designed to focus on helping kids stay engaged and explore reading in their way, creating that lifelong love of reading.

The best part is you can participate in the TD Summer Reading Club almost anywhere!
At local libraries, at home, and even online. There is something for everyone including individuals with disabilities and preschoolers.

Kids can:
· Join activities happening in libraries
· Read books online and get reading recommendations
· Track their own reading progress, collecting stickers and online badges
· Connect online to share jokes, stories, book reviews, and more with other kids across Canada

You can learn more about the program by clicking - here 

The TD Summer Reading Club is an initiative supported by The Ready Commitment, TD's corporate citizenship platform, with the mission to help create a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow.TD's corporate .

 You can read all about the TD Ready Commitment by clicking - Here 

*This Blog Post is in Partnership with TD

Monday, 19 August 2019

18 months to become a homemaker!

I haven't really mentioned much about Nick and my plans for our upcoming maternity/paternity leave.  It all seemed like such a distant dream but we are officially getting down to the last 2 weeks before baby arrives and as unreal as it seems, everything is full steam ahead!

It is annoying because you can't file for mat/pat leave until the baby IS born so I have this constant feeling like someone is going to tell Nick, "NO! you cannot take that much time off" but realistically I know that's not going to happen, I just can't believe we are both going to be off work for such a long time - concurrently!

In Canada you can take a paid mat/pat leave for up to 18 months, this has been in the political talk for quite a while and I was waiting for it to go into effect before we had any more kids.

I think it officially started in Spring 2018 or sometime around then, Noelle was still quite young so we had some time to think it over.

It's not an easy decision to make because although you get 6 more months off work, you actually don't get any more money than if you had taken a 12-month leave.

People are already stretched thin on mat leave as it can work out to be about half of your paycheque vs physically being at work.

If you're lucky you get a top-up, my work tops up our mat leave to 93% of your paycheque for 17 weeks and then you drop down to the EI portion only which is like I said, about half your regular pay.

Nicks work tops up for much longer, Nick can take 9 months off work (pat leave) and receive 93% pay for that entire time.

As parents, we had 12-18 months to play with for mat/pat leave and we can share, split, take separately or overlap that time off.

We decided Nick will take 9 months off 93% paid, I will take the 17 weeks 93% paid and then I will take the remaining 14 months off as leave without pay.

Confusing, I know lol

There will be around a 5 month period where we will only have Nicks 93% income coming in.
(After that he will return to work and can pick up some overtime to balance my missing income on the remaining months)

That's a scary move, we're millennials we've had student loan debt and poor housing markets, high cell phone bills (lol) for as long as we can remember, saving mass amounts of money or choosing to be a stay at home parent isn't exactly an option we ever thought we would have.

But at the end of the day, we both decided we could work through a tough few months of budgeting, downsizing etc because it will be sooooo worth it in the long haul.

Getting that time with the kids will be irreplaceable and let's be real, 3 kids, daycare costs, it hardly makes sense to have 2 working parents in that situation. 

18 months!
What are we going to do with 18 months! (Nicks only getting 9! hahah sucker!)

I really want to take this time to enrich my life.
I could very easily sit down and watch Netflix for 18 months, call it a day!
(obviously, I will also be taking care of the kids lol )
But, since I do have a small case of adult ADHD I know that won't be enough.

When Elliott was born I started the blog.
When Noelle was born, I still did the blog and I started insta-stories.

Both of those things bring me so much joy, I know some won't see blogging or "influencing" as a great talent but I am telling you, I put a lot of time and work into this little slice and it fills my creative outlet in ways I didn't know I needed.

I can't imagine what I would be doing all the time if I didn't take the leap to start this bloggy, the post office is fine but it wasn't exactly my life long dream (papercuts and parcel pushing lol) and fueling any creativity...just a 100% NO WAY JOSE.

Since I've grown the blog/social media angle, I'm ready to develop some more personal habits/hobbies.

I can't wait to get back into reading, I've always loved books, I love holding them, smelling them, turning the pages.

I haven't had much time in the last few years, if I read anything its usually a blog but I am determined to read at minimum 6 - 10 books while off work.

I already finished my book about Laci Peterson.
It was written by her mother and she felt a little bit like she was cashing in on a terrible tragedy by writing but she donated the money to a victims charity and used the book as a platform for victim services/awareness which I thought was very sweet.

I already knew EVERYTHING about this story, its one of those never forgotten stories, she was so beautiful, 8 months pregnant, seemed like an all-around lovely wonderful person.

For that, I give the book an 8/10 because I just couldn't put it down,  the personal details lead me to know both families so much better.

But if you do already know the story inside out, you may find it a little bit draggy, there are no bombshell moments, we still don't know exactly what happened to poor Laci.

If you are interested, you can buy the book here >

I am DYING to learn how to knit!
You saw me sew those little leaves on the anniversary gift Nick had given me many years ago and my pathetic little stitches are something else...

It looks like the Etsy shop where Nick bought the anniversary tree is still up, its called Tailorbirds.
Search on Etsy or click right here for the link.

My Nanny is great at knitting and I can't believe she hasn't passed down that talent to ANY of us!
She use to make me so many sweaters and hats and mitt sets growing up, I loved it.

I still love it!
At 85 she just made Noelle this ear warmer last week and I want her to make a matching set for me and the new babe!

She can't see very well anymore and can only do patterns from memory >>>>>

Marley and Me walking in Newfoundland wearing my Poppys horse sweater that my Nanny had knit him years ago.

Cooking/baking is also high on my to-do list!
I'm not bad at these things, I just don't have the time!
So, I'm hoping we can work out a better meal schedule, maybe even make a food calendar we can loosely follow to simplify the stressful "WHAT'S FOR SUPPER?!!?!" routine.

I made this blueberry lemon cake last week, you can find the recipe by click-a-licking right here!

Ok, what else should I do on this little post office hiatus??
I need to finally live up to my Holly's Housewife Life namesake and do the damn thing!

What would you learn/do if you had the time???
Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Underused but not unknown names for baby girl...

I've been thinking of names my whole life, whether I would be a baby momma, dog mom, cat mom, fish mom, I knew I would eventually be naming something!

The names have changed a bit over the years but for at least 10 years I had my girls' names set as Noelle and Charlotte.

I mean, for years and years and years these were in my brain...
Then came the Royal Baby #2!

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge

Came in and spread the good Charlotte name like wildfire.. (Good Charlotte.. 15-year-old me flashback LOL)

I knew then and there my plans had to change. 

I love names that are known but not overused, names that have been heard of but not caught onto the trending list... yet.

Now, no one take offence to this!
Charlotte is a gorgeous name!
I think tons of the top names on the trending lists are!

Olivia, Sophia, Emma.
All considered and adorable.

But I am stubborn and determined to find that sweet middle spot.

Don't DM me about Elliott and Noelle, I know they're not groundbreaking in any capacity but I feel like we did get them both named just in the knick of time!

Elliott and Noelle are starting to rise on the list so hopefully, they will go to school with name twins but not be in the same grade as them LOL

*I was going to name my firstborn Elliott whether we had a boy or a girl, that would've been pretty special in 2014 but since then Elliott has risen in popularity for girls. 

Onto the list!
(in no particular order)

1. McKinley (this is Nicks grandmothers maiden name, a big contender on all our kids' name lists)

2. Eden (I LOVE E & N names)

3. Jupiter (Nick loves space)

4. Willow (we love Buffy but its trending now)

5. Drew (I love Barrymore)

6. Rowen

7. Tatum

8. Bryn

9. Noah

10. Halle

11. Malia (Nick and I both googled strong women and wanted to name her Michelle for Obama but its too common so we turned to their kids)

12. Veronica (Nick wants this, I like it but I don't feel it goes with Elliott & Noelle)

13. Juliette or Julianna

14. Nellie (but Noelle is nicknamed Nellie at daycare)

15. Brielle

16. Luelle/Luella

17. Ivy

18. Joy (goes with our Christmas theme!)

19. Wrenn

20. Blayke/Blake (I want this, Nick does not)

21. Blair (same as above)

22. Nora/Norah

23. Poppy

24. Andie

25. Tess/Tessa (this is one of my favourites, Nick doesn't agree)

26. Nyree (Nyree if you read this, its because I met you at Sunnyside Mall! :))

27. Nova/Novalee

28. Navy

29. Naomi (but then she would be Naomi Clark from 90201 LOL)

30. Neve (I LOVE N NAMES. Most underused names imo.)

31. Billie (my childhood dog)

32. Shirley

33. Jessie

34. Evelyn

35. Annie (Jillian Harris took it from me, Leo was also on my boy list because it's my
Poppy's middle name. I can't recycle names I hear daily on Instagram LOL)

36. Elle

37. Juniper (see Jupiter)

38. June