The First Trimester

How do I describe my first trimester? EXHAUSTING!

I am beyond fortunate that I am not one of those women who experiences morning sickness, but what I do have is unimaginable exhaustion… like instantly. That was my first clue that there may be a little on the way when I no longer had the energy to even marathon Netflix let alone think about blogging, along with maintaining any level of parenting. The exhaustion was so much stronger this time around, mostly because unlike during my pregnancy with Monkey I am not really able to sleep until noon on the weekends and nap after work, because my toddler is more into play time than nap time.

Adding to the exhaustion was the INSANE number of appointments. Due to Monkey’s prematurity and the complications that arose after his birth my medical team wanted to be sure of our dating to make sure if we are faced with a premature birth again that baby will receive all the medical care they need. As frustrating as it was going to so many appointments and having so many ultrasounds in the first trimester, I am thankful to know exactly how far along our little one is. According to the dates the majority of doctors use I am 3 weeks further along than what I actually am. As a Mama practicing NFP I was off by a single day… but we all know what it can be like talking to doctors about something that they don’t always understand or doesn’t fall into a textbook situation. But in the end I was right and I am glad that baby will get what they need in the end if necessary.

So for those of you who are wondering my first trimester was full of napping when Monkey was napping, heading to bed early and getting myself organized so that life will run a little smoother.

First Trimester Details:
Loves: Naps
Hates: Rotisserie Chicken and Bulk Olives in the deli section of the grocery stores
Favourite products: Vichy Normaderm 3 in 1 Scrub + Cleanser + Mask
Cravings: Tomato soup and Vanilla milkshakes
Weight Change: 0kgs
Baby Size: Size of a lime
Exciting Moment: At 12 weeks I felt baby move for the first time. It was slight and fast and only felt it a few times, but now that I know what a rolling baby feels like I know that’s what I felt.

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It’s been a while but…. We have some big news!!

Yes it’s been a while since I have posted… I kinda of fell, off the map a bit mid vacation but I promise it was for a very exciting reason.

This summer after our first road trip as a family we learned that our family table would need an extra seat! We are so excited to grow out family and for the adventures that will come with this new life.

A Fresh Take on Meal Planning

This post contains affiliated links please see my disclaimer.

One of the things I have always taken pride in is what I manage to create in the kitchen.  Coming home at the end of a long day at the office one of the most relaxing things for me to do was scrole through Pinterest while digging in my crisper drawer and pantry to find the perfect combination of fresh local foods to make something incredibly delicious. 

But now that I am back to work and my time with Monkey is so precious I can’t possible spend that kind of time every evening unwinding at the stove when there are Beat Bugs to sing along with and bath time to enjoy. Even though I may not have the time (or enegery) to think up creative meals, it doesn’t mean that my family doesn’t deserve amazing dinners. This is where my friends at Hello Fresh come to save the day.

I was sent a Family Plan Box which included 3 perfectly proportioned meals for a family of 4 with kid friendly recipes to review with my little family. 

The food arrives packed in a thermal box to keep everything fresh on its travels. Inside the thermal box you will find recipe cards, and 3 boxes containing everything you need for each recipe making meal prep a breeze! No more rooting through the pantry or fridge only to find out you are out of one essential ingredient.

Even Monkey was excited to get in on the action!

Our first night we had Seared Italian Sausages with Veggoe Succotash and Tomato-et Orzo.

This was awesome meal, everyone loved it and it was very filling. I had alway seen orzo in the grocery store but thought it was more of a soup pasta it is was amazing in the sauce!

The next day we had Pulled Chicken Sliders with Tangy Cabbage Slaw for lunch after a long morning at the Market.


This made a great lunch that we ate over 2 days. 

The last meal we had was a Seared Steak and Crispy Potato Salad with Tomatoes, Green Beans and Shallot pan Sauce.


I was excited to take the left over to work the next day for lunch!

I love how all the ingredients are pre measured so there is zero food waste. All the recipes took about a half hour to prepare and were enjoyed by everyone. 

I can see myself ordering again when things get busy during the holidays or when I just need some new ideas for my repertoire. One of the things I loved about Hello Fresh is that you are not only provided with the ingredients pre measured but the recipes so you can repeat the meals you love again and again… You should see the huge bag of orzo we bought this week, we will be repeating one of these sometime soon!

Hello Fresh is not only for the culinary inclined, it is a great way for those who are a little intimidated by more complex recipes to try something a little out of their comfort zone with little chance of failure. 

If you are interested in trying Hello Fresh they have given me a promo code to pass along to all of you just use MCGILLS60 at the check out and you will receive $30 off your first and second box!! That’s a total of $60!



What ways do you try and save on meal prep time? If you have tried Hello Fresh, let me know about your experience! 

10 Things I love about you ❤️

2 years ago today I married an amazing man. I am so lucky to have him in my corner supporting me through all my crazy ideas and loving me through all my ups and downs.

I wanted to take this time to share all the wonderful things I love about him every day. 

  1. I love that every morning for the last 5 years you have brought me coffee (or tea) in bed because I am not a morning person.
  2. I love that no matter how many dishes I dirty during meal prep you always do the dishes.
  3. I love that I know you will be next to me every Sunday at mass, growing my faith and raising our Monkey to love the Lord.
  4. I love that you surprise me with flowers and not once have they been “I’ve messed up flowers”
  5. I love the way you push me to be braver than I ever thought I could be.
  6. I love that you let me be honest and never hold those honest thoughts against me.
  7. I love that you play guitar while I am making dinner and that you are instilling a love of music in Monkey.
  8. I love that you love parenting Monkey as much as I do.
  9. I love that we have had unbelievable adventures that will bind us when we are too old to adventure further than our rocking chairs
  10. I love that you chose me

Happy Anniversary Michael! 

The Mama who could have bounced…. but didn’t 

Motherhood almost instantly readjusts your priorities, at least it did for me. From the second Monkey was born Michael and I were making critical life or death decisions and focused solely on what was best for Monkey. This was a huge mind shift for me that affected my life in ways I didn’t expect. 

Growing up I was that girls that danced 4 hours a day 7 days a week and never felt thin or fit enough, I was but I always strived for more. Thankfully I found myself in a therapists office before I could do too much damage but I was always the type to push my body to its limits at least for period of time. 

Solveg – Academy of Classical Ballet 2000

When my dance life ended and I went off to University I took up running and the gym. This was a slow burn relationship with lots of ups and downs that I still struggle with but in the end I still managed to keep my weigh and dress size within MY acceptable range. It would be nothing for me to decided to chase the bikini body mid summer and decided that two classes a day was completely doable along with a “I only eat food that looks like it did coming out of the ground” diet… because if I am anything I am dedicated and goal driven. And I would achieve that goal… every… single… time….sometimes with a little time to spare.

So with all this type A personality engrained in my DNA and 14 years of ballet school discipline woven into my lifestyle “bouncing back” after pregnancy should have been a piece of cake right? And really it probably would have been if I had tried, but this post is not about how you can get your pre-pregnancy body back quickly if you just try hard enough. It’s about how that doesn’t actually matter.

When Monkey first came home I went to the gym a lot… to shower. Michael was workings away a lot, we were room sharing  and the sound of the shower would wake Monkey up. So I was there about 3 times a week to put Monkey in the day care, so I could take a quick walk on the treadmill to justify showering in the locker room. I am pretty sure I was in the shower longer than on any of the machines. I assumed that this would eventually become my routine and I would be there daily and rockin’ my ore wedding jeans before Christmas. That was not the case.

Once Monkey started to sleep in his own bedroom and showering at the gym was no longer required; that drive into town became less frequent, because I wanted to spend time with my son. Newborns are up basically 4 hours a day and I didn’t want to spend a significant portion of that time away from him while he was in the gym day care. It was so much more important that I spent my time at mommy and me and  practicing tummy time than pushing the calorie count on the step mill. 

At that moment my priorities had shifted from about how I look in that dress to how I looked in his eyes. I want to be the mom who will share some ice cream with her son and not worry about the consequences. I don’t want sit on the side of the pool because I am worried about the tummy rolls and cellulite that lets be serious no one sees but you. I want to have a relationship with myself that promotes memories with my son not one that makes him call the day care workers Mama. 

This however does not mean that thinking about my health is out the window, but that the focus has shifted. I will continue to love working out, but when it comes between the bench press and the park bench, you will find me at the park every time. I want to do what I can to make sure that I am around the share those memories for a long time to come and able to make more as we all grow older, but it won’t be at the expense of this precious and all too fleeting time.

How did your perspective change when you became Mama (or Dada)? Let me know in the comments below!

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The 3 things I knew before I became Mama

Before becoming a Mama I knew a few rules my littles would definitely live by, like no screens before 2, no sweets until preschool, and no cosleeping. Lol I love how I thought this would a realistic, it shows how young and naive I really was about this whole parenting gig.

The first rule, no screens stems from the barrage of Facebook parenting experts posting articles stating the screens are the root of all evil. That if your child even glances at a screen before the age of 2 you will be battling the screen issue for all eternity. These articles were not all anecdotal some of these sources were pretty credible like the American Association of Paediatricians, so with experts like that making the recommendations they must be followed right? Righ?!?

I have to say that this was a rule we were really good at for about 10 months, but for this Mama who was fortunate enough to have a full year of maternity, but lives 20 minutes out of town and doesn’t function well when the isolation starts to make her feel like a recluse, she needed a little more than the sounds of talk radio during breakfast. So the breaking of this rule was completely selfish, I needed Monkey to give me just 10 more minutes to think straight in the morning, and get just a little more tea in me before facing the day. This is when Studio K, and more specifically Scout came into our lives.


Scout is a purely Canadian show that will make any banjo loving, biodynamic eating, Hunter wearing millennial’s heart swell. The program is about 7 minutes in length and focus on the subject of mindful living and critical thinking through solving a daily mystery with 3 clues. The first time I watch it I cried and wanted Monkey to be a Gumboot Kids too. This was then end of no screens for Monkey. 

Now his screen time is still extremely limited, but he can have a little screen time to catch up with Scout in the mornings with a sprinkling of Paw Patrol and Beat Bugs from time to time when Mama needs a little more time. 

My second thought on parenting was no sweets before preschool, because in all reality no one needs chocolate, or ice cream or cake or cookies right? They are just refined sugar and have no health benefit whatsoever so why would I feed that to my little…. Ummm because if you only did things in life that had a physical, intellectual, financial benefits we would never have fun, or learn from our mistakes. 

For close to a year Monkey thought plain full fat Greek yogurt was ice cream. He ate is every day for dessert. Then one day, about a week before is first birthday when he was eating his dinner and I was eating a Blizzard I had picked up on our way home from a play date. Because vanilla ice cream looks like plain Greek yogurt he wanted some. This was the end of rule number 2. And how could you deny a little something that is this cute

And lastly the rule that we broke the fastest. Absolutely no cosleeping. We were not even really open to room sharing before Monkey was born. We wanted him to go from hospital to nursery. We thought why have more transitions than necessary, plus wouldn’t everyone sleep better if they were in their own spaces? 

Although I believe this is very true and if we are blessed with another monkey we will most likely not cosleep, there are so many benefits to doing so as well which is how we fell down the rabbit hole. When Monkey was discharged from hospital part of his discharge plan was that he room share. So we went out, bought a pack n play for him to sleep in. 


In the beginning we kept Monkey awake and when he woke up both Michael and I were both awake leaving no one rested for the day time. But eventually we all got used to one another and everyone was sleeping better. Then when Michael left to work out of town the cosleeping began, because it was just me and Monkey, all day for weeks at a time; and it was so much easier to just cosleep. 

And even though I believe there are wonderful things that can come from cosleeping, this is not for us. It caused far too many bumps in the sleep training road, but I am glad I tried it. 

After just over a year of Mommying I have come the conclusion that I was definitely a much better parent before Monkey came along! There are so many ins and outs and ups and downs that arise once your little comes you can’t even imagine how your points of view change. So for all you Mama’s to be out there, write your rules in pencil so you can adjust accordingly. And for all those Mamas out there adjusting their plan every day you are not alone… we are all making this up as we go along.

What was your biggest parenting misconception pre baby? Let me know in the comments below!

The well rested baby


One of the best parts of navigating this parenting thing is having someone who is a little ahead to guide you, and someone who is a little behind you to impart your wisdom on. For me these were a great work colleague living just down the alley and the other is my sister in law, and after talking for hours with both of them we have all come to the same conclusion…

A well resrted baby sleeps best!

Now I know this goes against all the advice you were probably given when your baby first came home… At least it did for us. We had a ton of the “just keep them awake for as long as you can and then they will sleep through the night”, “don’t let them nurse to sleep you will never be able to transition them to day care”, “when my little first came home…..”. Thankfully Michael and I always responded to these comments with “Monkey was premature and has different needs than your child, but thank you for the thoughts”. 

And boy am I thankful we listen to our instincts on that one! At nearly 15 months old our little Monkey still sleeps about 4.5 hours during the day and 11 at night, and what I have discovered is when those naps in the day time don’t go so well, we find ourselves up a few times through the night and it can be a week or so to get us back on track. Leaving this Mama exhausted by the end of the turn around and usually a new tooth on its way to throw a wrench in the routine.

The key to our success was consulting with a sleep trainer in our area and choosing a plan that worked for us, because Monkey was not always a great sleeper. In the beginning he was a I will sleep well if we co sleep kind of sleeper, and this was not conducive to our family unit! In consultation with this amazing support we chose our method and stick to nap routine: 

  • Up at 6:30am
  • Nap 8:30am-11am (max)
  • Nap at 1pm until at least 2:30 but as late as he wants

Rules:

  1. Never wake baby unless it’s past 11am 
  2. Never vary from the routine during the training time

And I’ll tell you after about a week of this we were napping amazingly and only getting up once for a feed at night. Now that night feeds are no longer necessary we have a little who sleeps all night, the majority of nights!

In the beginning all this time sleeping had me worried that something was not quite right but my doctor reassured me that he is fine and to be thankful I have such a wonderful sleeper. What really made me confident about the well rested baby is when we get all our naps and uninterrupted nighttime sleep in we have a little who is happy the majority of the day (no high chair or car seat tantrums), who eats his meals and seams to learn so much so quickly. 

I know every parent needs to do what’s best for their family, but I challenge you to give it a try. Good long naps in the day time, for a few days and hopefully your little will be sleeping through the night too. I know the rule around our house is “never mess with the nap schedule” for a reason… a well rested Monkey means a well rested Mama! 


What are your tricks for a well rested baby? How did you get your little to sleep through the night? Let me know in the comments below!

Monkey at the Market: Frites and Sweets

A tradition I’ve had for almost a decade is waking up Saturday morning and heading to the local farmers market. No matter the city or province, I would wake up, grab a coffee to go, my grocery list and head to the market to pick up a bag of mini done doughnuts and my favourite guac and whatever I could find that looked yummy and local. 

Once Monkey was born it was a struggle to get out of the house on Saturday mornings to keep this tradition alive so this Saturday was my first one back at the market since October 2015!

Not only was this my first time back and at the new location but it was Monkey’s first market adventure ever!

While we were wondering around the market not only did it seem like there are so many more amazing vendors but we also discovered a new (to us) food truck, The Queen Bees Frites and Sweets. Food trucks and the amazing guac options are really what get me out of the house on a Saturday morning so discovering this little beauty made my weekend for sure.

The Queen Bees are twins sisters who love to bake and turned their nightly strolls and conversations into a successful staple in the food truck culture of Red Deer. You can read more about these inspirational women here.

This little gem has a the cutest spin on food truck dining mixing gourmet french fries and fancy French desserts like créme brûlée and macarons. 

The truck itself had a lot of charm and made me feel the way I think Paris would. It’s that perfect Parisian cream colour with the always present stripes that my imagination believes covers the streets of Paris. There is beauty in the details from the sold out sign for the macarons to the cute little prep station. 

We ordered just plain fries, primarily because Monkey and I would be sharing and there is only so much mess I can clean out of the stroller. They come in the cutest cones in the trucks signature colour, over flowing just enough and perfectly salted. 


Monkey actually ate the majority of the fries which is crazy because he is a little judge when it comes to fries and this cone is huge! I really enjoyed them as well and wholeheartedly regret not getting a side of aoli. 

I know we will be back again this summer for more frites and to try some of the sweets! 

Do you attend your local farmers market? Do you have booths you have to stop at EVERY TIME? Let me know in the comments below!

Spring Project Part 4

These past few weekends have been full of projects and updates around the house.  The long weekend we had our fence put up, thank goodness Michael won that conversation! We have been outside more in the last 14 days than last 18 months we have owned this house. Monkey loves it and thinks it’s his Fort, he is constantly checking the walls and peeking through the fence at the neighbors or into the alley. This is the only toy he needed for summer I guess.

After the fence went in Michael and I went on to plan the garden. We hoped to have raided beds but they are so expensive,  take time to build and the plants were in desperate need of being transplanted into the ground. This will hopefully become part of our fall landscaping project but we will see. 

For this year we did a plain old in the ground rows upon rows of veggies garden. It all started Saturday night when Monkey went to bed. Michael measured, steaked and dug up a 7 1/2 x 22 foot rectangle. He even cut the sod up so we could fix a small patch that had died under a chest, and give the rest away on the local Buy and Sell. He really killed it and made it look easy. 

Meanwhile I womaned the Bose, drank Spritz and transplanted the strawberries into lager pots.

On Sunday after mass, Michael hand tilled the garden and incorporated all the extras to help the soil be neutient rich so the plants would hopefully live and and I could fake this green thumb until I make it. I played with Monkey and tried to keep him out of the garden and the strawberries, while still trying to teach him a little about what we are doing. I think all he understood was “plants are yummy” because it took him all of 5 minutes outside to pick a strawberry and eat it.

Once Monkey was in bed for the night it was my turn to hit the garden. So with my Hunters on my feet and Michael’s work gloves on my hands I struck out on a mission to get my plants into the ground before the predicted 30 hours of rain began.

My mission was a success, I finished just as the wind began to pick up, meaning the prairie rain was on its way. 


I am really proud of myself in comepleting this project. I have never been one to do well with plants. I have a history of killing a cactus (from under watering) and managed to do it again even when Michael expressed his theory that people should first need to keep a plant alive, then an animal and then could move on to people… this  theory slowly died as I managed to murder… plant slaughter…. every single plant he had. We moved on to Desmond at the 2 year point point and hey it’s been 3 years and he is still alive, so that shows promise for Monkey right?

I started out this project with 5 packets of seeds and some egg cartons and now I have 20 tomato plants and 4 jalapeños plants. The only ones that didn’t make it is the sweet salsa peppers but that’s ok you can’t swim them all. 

I am really excited to see how they grow and if they make it in the ground!

How are your spring projects coming along? What do you have planned for summer? Let me know in the comments below!

See the rest of the story here:

Spring Project

Spring Project Part 2

Spring Project Update 
Spring Project Part 3


Barbecue Pizza

Since the weather had finally changed from cold and dreary to warm and sunny the last thing I want to do is cook inside. After last weekend’s barbecue fest I was inspired to try my Friday night pizza recipe on the grill. 

I started by moving the pizza stone from the oven to the grill. It was a perfect fit! Once the dough was made Monkey and I made a pepperoni pizza, vegetarian with pesto and some Atlantic Canadian Galic fingers. 


Once they had a chance to rise again they went on the stone and this was the final results


What I found worked this time was starting the barbecue about an hour ahead of time with the two middle elements on low and the two outside on high. This allows the stone to get screaming hot and give the crust that crispness you only get when you use a stone. 

Cooking time is closer to 10 minutes on the grill, compared to the 22 minutes it usually takes in the oven which is a really nice bonus. Be sure to whatch the pizza closely but don’t open the lid too often because you will loose too much heat and you won’t get the nice rise in the dough and golden cheese.

To make the truly Altantic Canadian Garlic Fingers I needed a little donair sauce on the side. This is something you don’t easily find in Alberta, so I went to Pinterest and found an authentic recipe here. All you need is a can of evaporated milk, some sugar, garlic powder and white vinegar. 

And after a few hours in the fridge you will have yourself some Maritime yumminess! 


What is your favourite non traditional grill food? Do you take to cooking your favourites outside so you aren’t warming up the house at meal times? Let me know in the comments below!