On Turning 40

Welp. I can’t believe I’m finally putting this one into words. Having summers off as a teacher is a double edged sword, because even when you’re super relaxed, you’re also bored and have tons of time to ruminate on your life and the direction it’s going in.

So….I’m turning 40 in October.

And it’s literally consuming my thoughts, because holy f*@# you guys; I’m old. Like, emotionally I used to feel 25, or maybe that was just pre-Covid times, but now I actually feel old. In my body. In my brain. In my BONES. There’s nothing like a year and a half of instability and parenting around the clock with no social outlet to make you acutely aware of all your grey hairs, aches, pains, wrinkles and general misery.

Whenever I tell people I’m turning 40 this year, they say, “oh well, at least you’ve accomplished a lot.” And yes, this does bring me some comfort. I’m happily married with two kids, a 9 year old girl, and a 6 year old boy. I have the “Million Dollar Family,” as they say, and now I also have the million dollar home, because we upgraded from a townhouse to a large, newer detached home two weeks ago, and I’ve never been more proud of us. I’m well established in my teaching career, having been at the same school since 2010, and of course now I also have this well established social media life, and surely that gives off the illusion of having my shit together.

But being accomplished doesn’t detract from the number being a hard pill to swallow. I want my age to stay with a 3 in front of it, not a 4. The 4 is symbolically a new chapter for me, and one step closer to real, legit middle-agedness. Many say your 40s are amazing, as your children gain newfound independence and you get some freedom, but I don’t want it. I want my babies to stay little forever, and I don’t want to age, and I don’t want my parents to age either.

Anyway, I’m going to plan a massive rager at my new house in October. If you’re reading this, you’re invited, because only 3 people will read this. We all know I don’t actually have any friends. I think I’ll rent a food truck, and do some sort of Mexican themed fiesta with tacos and margs and honestly, it’s gonna be LIT. And yes, I’m aware that 40 year olds can’t say that word, but since I teach teenagers, I will use the Gen Z slang forever, and I’m certain it’ll be okay.

Okay, off to get Botox and fillers, k thx for reading…bai!

At least I don’t look 40. Right? RIGHT? RIGHT????

2021 Thus Far

First blog of 2021. Damn, that’s hella embarrassing. In the spirit of transparency, I’m only writing today because I was charged my annual fee for the domain this morning, and it made me realize I need to actually use this blog. So, here we are.

Going into 2021, I had so much hope. Over Christmas last year, I read that Canada was going to get vaccines in January, and I felt such relief and optimism for the year. Little did I know, that the vaccines would barely arrive, take months to be administered, and then have the second doses be delayed for 16 weeks instead of the 3-4. We were in lockdown then, and I don’t think I could have predicted that many months later, we’d still be in lockdown, due to a massive surge in cases because of deadly Covid variants and a premature re-opening in February and March. Ontario is literally such a shitshow.

The shitshow was magnified exponentially when I suffered a pulmonary embolism in February. For those who don’t know, a pulmonary embolism is when you have a blot clot, and it travels to your lung artery and cuts off blood flow. It can be fatal if not caught early. I suspect you’re going to want to know my backstory for this, so here we go. Last June, I went on birth control. I’d never previously been on it because I already have existing risk for clots due to a chronic condition, but every doctor I consulted told me it was okay to take it. So I took it. In early February, I went for my usual deep tissue massage. My RMT is incredibly strong, and I have a high threshold for pain, so we’re a perfect pairing. Or at least, we were. The next day I woke up with debilitating pain in my side, and I thought she had dislocated a rib. It was a few days of pain and spasms, but I pushed through and even kept teaching, because going to the hospital during the second wave of a pandemic was something that sent my anxiety through the roof. The pain subsided, and I had about a week or maybe even two of relative normalcy, until I didn’t. One morning I woke up with shortness of breath. As the day (days? It’s a bit of a blur) went on, the shortness of breath got worse, and I started to get chest pain in my left side, just under my heart. Again, I pushed through, shot some content somehow, until I called my mom and told her I thought I was having a heart attack, and she told me to go to the hospital.

My husband dropped me off at the hospital alone, obviously, and I was seen immediately. They did an echo to check for heart attack, ruled it out, and then I had a serious of other tests. Eventually a CT scan revealed MULTIPLE embolisms of extensive size. Even the doctor was shocked, because he had said initially that I was “probably fine.” I was not. I stayed one night in the hospital, and came home with blood thinners, which I will likely be on the rest of my life because I’m now considered “a clotter.” Usually clots happen when trauma or injury occurs, but mine was considered a freak occurrence, and so I’ll need to be closely monitored to avoid recurrence.

Fast forward to present time. I’ve been off work since then, focusing on my recovery. I’m going back in 2 weeks, because I finally feel strong and healthy enough. I’ll likely be teaching virtually, but I wish I could go back to in-person teaching for even just a few weeks. I really miss it. Here’s a photo dump of some recent happenings because I’ve been keeping myself busy despite being off work…

Lots of walks with the kids to break up the misery of virtual school. They’ve been so unhappy not being at school, so I do my best to keep them afloat.
Instagram partnerships like this recent one with What A Bagel to ensure I still have things to do at home. I’m grateful for this little side hustle because it keeps me preoccupied.
Little outdoor outings here and there for sanity. I almost never go out, and the weather has been especially crappy, but if I see a friend from a distance for an hour, even just once a week, it fills my cup and gives me strength to come home and be with my husband and kids for every other hour in the week.
Finding solace in nature.
And CBD, obviously. And meditation. And journaling. And therapy.

Obviously there has been so much stress and trauma for everyone over the last year and a bit, but I really believe the long term implications of this on our mental health are HUGE. I try to remain hopeful and optimistic, and I’m really working to manifest the second half of 2021 being much better than the first half. The US is fully vaccinated and they’re already out there living their best lives again, so I know we will too…eventually. We just have to stay strong, and although strength has been diminished over this never-ending pandemic, the light at the end of the tunnel will make it all worth it.

Takeaways from 2020

Hi. It’s December 24, 2020, and I felt compelled to write a lil somethin somethin before this year of complete and utter misery is over. There’s no dancing around it; 2020 was horrendous. Over 1 million people died of Covid-19, and the entire world spent the majority of the year in lockdown. BUT, I think it was a year of self-reflection and growth for many, and today I’ve chosen to focus on these positives for me and my family. Don’t think I’m negating the sickness (both physical and mental) and devastation, because I’m not. I acknowledge it and mourn for all those suffering. But here’s what I’ll take away from this year.

  1. I can be a much more hands on mom (and wife).

Okay, so full disclosure, 2018 and 2019 were spent away from the home a lot. Once my Instagram took off, I got very excited when I was invited to events and tastings, so I’d go out REALLY often. Towards the end of 2019, I started experiencing Instagram related burnout, and became much more particular with what I said yes to. 2020 was great for me in that it forced me to be home and be a more hands on mother and partner. I did most of my collaborations from home, and was able to really bond and spend quality time with the kids. Yes they drove me crazy being in close proximity 24/7, but we all really became so much closer as a family. It’ll be interesting to see which direction I go in once this pandemic is over. I’m either going to go hard as hell (think, the TikTok that goes “Club, another club, plane, no sleep, another club…”) OR I’ll find a nice balance of being social and being out and still spend tons of quality time with my family. Only time will tell.

2. Exercise is truly the best way to alleviate my anxiety.

This year, I essentially bought a home gym. I got a spin bike, downloaded the Peloton app, and bought a weighted barbell and weights. Basically, my favourite form of cardio and my favourite form of strength training. Sure, they were relatively costly purchases, but I made peace with knowing I’ll likely never step foot back in a gym. And honestly, my workouts were my saviours. I don’t know what kind of headspace I’d be in if I didn’t have endorphins and sweat.

3. Alcohol is a destructive coping mechanism.

Dw Aperol; I still love you…

In those first months of quarantine (March to May or June, let’s be real), I was having a drink almost every evening, as a reward for surviving the day. This wasn’t healthy for my body or my mind. It’s funny how when I went back to teaching face in face in September, I started having a drink only on a Friday evening or not at all. When my mind and body are occupied, I don’t feel the need to imbibe (imbibe is the weirdest word, amirite?). Generally speaking, I think it’s so much more important to confront your feelings (anxiety, fear, stress, whatever) and not gloss over them with booze.

4. I can do my job remotely.

And look like a major dork while doing it.

Never in a million years did I think I’d have to learn the technology that so many of my colleagues were already using. Google Classroom and Meet were so beyond my realm of comprehension. But I’m actually low key happy we were forced to work from home, because I *had* to learn, and guess what? The learning curve wasn’t steep at all. Turns out, if you can use Instagram to grow a following of 15,000, using Google tools to teach your classes is pretty intuitive.

5. I don’t NEED to be social.

Okay so I really LIKE being social. Not so much at work (hermit who marks whenever she’s not teaching 4 LYFE), but on weekends. Seeing friends for coffee, meals, shopping, drinks, etc. is a part of my life that I value. But I don’t NEED any of it. Sure, I miss my friends, but I’ve learned I’m an all or nothing kinda gal. You won’t catch me doing any sort of Zoom hangout ever, because it doesn’t fill the void of face to face interaction for me. In the early days of quarantine, I’d Facetime friends and family and do Zooms, but I stopped in April or May because it didn’t hit right. While I do hope I can resume semi-normal socializing at some point in 2021, I recognize that I’ll be okay if I can’t.

So there you have it; my 2020 takeaways. If you’ve read this far, many thanks and much appreciation. Cheers to 2021 – it can’t get much worse than this past year, so we’re all golden.

Absorbing the Mental Load

Forgive me if this is all over the place. So is my brain. Also, this blog won’t actually have any photos in it, so if you come here for the visuals, you should probably just press that little x at the top right of the screen right now.

I’ve been back at work full time now for about a month. During this time, Ontario has also entered the second wave of the pandemic, and cases are at an all time high. My kids are back in school as well. Truly, I savour every minute of knowing they’re at school, socializing (from a distance), and learning from a more qualified teacher than me (I’m great at teaching Shakespeare, but I can’t teach little kids to read and write). Every day we’re in school is a good day, despite the constant lingering fear that one of us will contract Covid. I mean, it’s in the schools. It could happen to us. I’ve stopped looking at that ever-growing list, because simply put, my heart can’t take it.

My first few weeks back were such a rush of excitement and exhaustion. Having been out of the building since March, it felt amazing to sit at my desk, greet my students in the morning (albeit half of them), and teach face to face. Even the afternoon virtual component of this hybrid model is fun for me. It’s crazy the types of engaging dialogues you can have with students virtually, when everyone is committed and invested.

But in the past week or two, the initial excitement has worn off, and teacher burnout has ensued. A big part of this is my students need me. I have 72 of them this semester (which is actually a small number compared to the 90 I’ve had in previous years), and they all email me with questions, requests for support, etc. I’m the one who they turn to not just for academic support, but emotional support too. I absorb their stress, burdens, and anxiety. I am their guide. And to be frank, during this time, that is entirely too much for me.

I’m really struggling to compartmentalize everyone’s emotional and physical needs. My students’. My own. My families’. Not to mention all the brands I partner with on top of all of this, which is essentially a third job beyond teaching and parenting. My brain can’t absorb this mental load, and I often wake at 5 am on the dot, panic-stricken at all I have to do that day.

So what gives?

Do I put my Instagram job on hiatus? No, because I’ve just been offered some amazing partnerships. Do I go to sleep earlier? I mean, you can’t go to sleep earlier than my already ridiculous 9 pm bedtime. I’m not really sure how to proceed without the inevitable crash. This isn’t long term sustainable. Usually I have a vacation to look forward to, but alas, that isn’t in the cards for a long time to come.

Basically I’m reaching out to all of you. Not to unload (well, okay, to unload a little), but to hear if you have any suggestions. I already practice so much self care, but it isn’t helping me stay afloat.

If you’ve made it to this part, I genuinely want to thank you for reading. Athleisure Teacher, out.

Gratitude – Pandemic Summer Edition

Hi hi hi! It’s been a minute since I last wrote a blog just for sheer pleasure, so I decided it was due time. Last week I was having the most lovely convo with a former student, and I realized “my purpose” for all of this public stuff, and it’s my passion for writing. After the conversation, I commit to writing more, in the hopes that I can one day compile all this nonsense into a memoir, or novel of some sort.

This summer has obviously been weird. Let’s just address that before I get into my spiel about how great it’s actually been regardless. At the height of the pandemic, everyone was saying, “summer 2020 is canceled,” and I was so depressed. As a teacher, my two months off are SO SO SO SO sacred. Like, I’d definitely sell my first born to ensure I can be a lady who lunches for at least 6 weeks. (Scratch that, you never read it, please don’t call CAS on me.) Anyway, I secretly mourned the loss of my summer back in April or May, so it was very surreal in mid-June when the economy started opening up, and we all realized, “WOW, we might actually get to enjoy ourselves to some extent this summer.” But, it’s obviously a smaller scale enjoyment, with many precautions and safety measures.

Despite staying local and wearing masks everywhere we go, we’ve been doing quite a bit! My kids have become accustomed to our new lives, and have been so happy 1. spending so much of the summer as a family, and 2. doing the things we didn’t do for four months, like patio dining at restaurants, as well as going into stores and seeing friends again. Seeing their smiling little faces as they get to experience some normalcy again fills me with so much joy. The things we took for granted before are now so cherished by all of us.

Liv's birthday

We enjoyed my daughter’s 8th (!!!) birthday on the patio at NextDoor, and they brought her the most indulgent chocolate sundae I’ve ever seen.

Nature Hike

My parents also bought her a Fuji Instax camera for her birthday, so we’ve been enjoying some nature walks to take some photos.

Now let’s talk travel. Obviously planes are not a thing this summer. I decided to forego my annual summer trip to NYC for a road trip to Bayfield, Ontario, population 62 (or maybe less, I dunno, it’s the smallest town ever). This was a tough one, folks. The frantic energy of NYC in the summer just calls me, and not going kind of hurts. BUT, I take comfort in knowing the city I love isn’t itself at the moment. A blogger friend of mine was there visiting and she posted stories of the empty subway, Times Square with tumbleweed rolling through, and stores and restaurants boarded up, and my heart broke. I sincerely hope the cities I love, and the world in general, can recuperate after all of this. Mentally, physically, economically, etc. It’s just all so tragic.

Anyway…Bayfield. Okay, so it’s not my fave little town and there are much cuter ones (Prince Edward County, Muskoka, Collingwood), but we decided to try something new. It’s a 2.5 hour drive, and there is one strip of restaurants and shops, but DANG the restaurants are amazing. Also, we snuck onto the private beach, and it was well worth it. No one was remotely close to us, and it was clean and quiet.

Bayfield 2

Just casually pretending I actually ruin my hair in pools.

Bayfield

The requisite blogger beach shot.

Bayfield 3

Y’all wish you had a forever work wife as amazing as mine!

July was honestly so fun and relaxing. I feel so grateful for all the little things we’ve been doing and it’s truly been the perfect balance of self-care/time to myself, and family time. August is shaping up to be amazing too. We have a little family road trip up to Ramada Jackson’s Point to celebrate my son’s 5th birthday, and we are also celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in late August, with a stay at a hotel downtown and dinner at an incredible restaurant! My philosophy this summer has been to LIVE. To be present, mindful, and soak it all in (safely), before the reality of “back to school” (whatever that will look like, let’s be real, a total sh*t show), and possibly a second wave.

Are you guys enjoying your summer and making the best of a really weird time? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Athleisure Teacha OUT.

Locked Up

Let me start by saying I wanted to write this blog ages ago. We’ve been quarantined due to a world pandemic now for 5 weeks, and just now am I mustering up the emotional and physical energy to craft this. Real talk, the first few weeks were mentally the hardest days of my life. I’ve been through things with my health, but damn, being trapped inside with so much uncertainty was way harder on me than even battling illness. I’m an extrovert. I thrive on face to face social interaction. I love going to restaurants. Events. Social gatherings. Even just the mundane routine of driving to work daily and being in that physical space makes me happy. So having my world pulled out from under me was a shock unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

But here we are. A month in. I went through my stages of grief, and emerged on the other side of it all. Stage 5 – acceptance. Acceptance of my new normal; this life that I never signed up to, of being a stay at home mom who also works from home. Of watching my two very well adjusted kids become emotionally unstable, at each other’s throats, and just generally prone to upset and non-compliance. I’ve realized that this is not a short term thing, and just this past week, I made a schedule for what I believe my next three months in captivity will look like, and guess what? I’m happy now. I have some semblance of normal again, and being back at work has helped tremendously. Yes I’ve had to navigate difficult waters with elearning, but I’m here, I’m present, and I’m making the best of it.

So without further ado (haha j/k, I talk too much), here are my coping mechanisms for you. PSA: Coping mechanisms or not, you’re allowed to feel ALL the emotions during this. I’m tired of the “sad shamers” who tell you that you’re not entitled to grieve because people are enduring much worse right now. You can be grateful for being home and being safe, but you can also be sad. Mourn the loss of your canceled events. Mourn the loss of your social life as you knew it. Mourn whatever f*cking loss you need to mourn for and don’t let anybody tell you not to.

Okay. I’ll get off my soap box now and tell you what I’ve been up to and how it’s helped.

  1. Getting outdoors. Guys, I really hate going outside. I used to joke that if it was less than 20 degrees out, I wouldn’t step foot outside except going car door to door. BUT, life has changed so much this year, that I’ve basically had no other option. First I spent many days through the winter picketing 3-4 hours at a time, and well, that was frigid and no fun. Now, in quarantine, getting our steps in outdoors has been a game changer for everyone’s mental health. I even bought these weighted Bala Bangles to make my walks more challenging. It’s crazy how 1 lb on each ankle can make a HUGE difference. I’m obsessed, and I look forward to walking outside daily with the kids because of them.

bala bangles

2.  Going for the occasional drive. We do it maybe once a week, and it’s been great to feel some normalcy. We listen to music, we chat, and it almost feels like regular life, minus having a destination.

car drive

3. Daily workouts. This has probably been the biggest game changer for me and my mental health during this time. I LOVE the gym. Like really really really really love it. I adore taking group classes because of the loud music, the energy, and the sense of community. I like high intensity classes like spin, Body Pump, etc., and the sweatier I am at the end of that hour, the better. BUT, this was taking a toll on my body. I was perpetually in pain from doing high intensity activity 3 days a week, and suffering muscle pain and strain every damn day. At home workouts have completely altered this. Now I exercise 5-6 days a week, and sometimes only 20-30 minutes at a time. I do some lower intensity workouts like yoga and Pilates with Melissa Wood Health (I’m BEYOND obsessed and will continue to pay the monthly fee for her workouts when normalcy resumes and my gym re-opens), as well as LesMills barre classes. I still do Body Pump once a week, but with lighter free weights instead of the heavy barbell, and I do cardio like Body Attack and Body Combat, but I don’t run or cycle, which are the culprits of a lot of my muscle strain. And guess what? My body feels AMAZING. Not only am I pain-free, but I’m also getting way more fit, and my anxiety and stress is drastically reduced after these workouts. Can I get an amen?!

pilates

4. Keeping up with the kids’ school work. Keeping them busy is a challenge, and I’m so happy that school has resumed, albeit virtually, if only because it gives us all something to do. Both my kids LOVE learning and school, so reading daily with my daughter and completing her math work has been great for all of us. I thrive on productivity, and this feels productive to us.

reading with Liv

5. And lastly, healthy eating. We are eating GOOD during this quarantine. I’ve had many amazing meal/food deliveries, including this beautiful wild caught salmon filet from Papa Earth, a high quality meat delivery service. Eating at home daily (with the exception of once a week takeout on Saturday nights) has allowed me to really fuel my body with the proper nutrients that it needs to stay strong during this, and also to be able to track what ingredients are going into my meals, and control my portions. I don’t weigh myself, but if I did, I’d guess I’ve probably lost a pound or two through this, because I eat way “cleaner” at home than I do out. I don’t think I’m eating less, per se, I just think I’m making better choices.

salmon dinner

A Very Athleisure Teacher Summer

Good morning friends and happy Monday! I hope you’ve enjoyed the first two weeks of summer! I wanted to check in and let you know what I’ve been up to, because it’s been a minute, and truthfully today is the first day I’ve actually had some downtime to reflect on the last couple of weeks.

charcuterie

My summer began with a surprise delivery of the most incredible charcuterie/grazing box from Savourly Society. I don’t know what I did to get it, but I felt like the luckiest girl alive, and devoured that beautiful baby that evening!

splashpadwonderland2

We’ve also had a lot of quality family time, going to splash pads and Wonderland almost every weekend! It’s been fun, because the kids are becoming a lot more independent and don’t need us as much, and my daughter has even become much braver and started going on coasters!

welo2

Despite not having a spring at all, the weather the past few weeks has actually been super hot and sunny! I’ve been hydrating with my Welo watermelon lime cucumber probiotic drink, and it’s the perfect summer drink (other than say, margaritas or mimosas on a patio). I don’t think I’ve ever shared this before, but I’m an ambassador for this incredible Canadian company, and have a coupon code for you all if you want to order any of their delicious probiotic beverages or bars. They make adult sized bars AND kids one, and my kids are obsessed. To get 30% off your order on their website, use my code THEATHLEISURETEACHER30. Their products are already very well priced, but 30% off can’t hurt. I highly recommend the spicy pineapple drink, as well as the matcha almond bars. They’re both my personal favourites.

eatable

Another incredible opportunity I had was shooting a campaign for EATABLE, a line of alcohol-infused popcorn. We shot it at the waterfront down in Etobicoke, and it was such a fun experience! I haven’t seen the photos yet, but I’m excited for how they turned out!

bluestonelane

kost

kost2

I’ve also finally been able to try some of the restaurants on my extensive list of places I’ve wanted to go, but couldn’t, because…well, teacher life. I had brunch at Bluestone Lane, which is a really cool Aussie-inspired restaurant chain from NYC. They do iced matchas and coffee, as well as avo toast and bowls, so clearly it’s the restaurant of my dreams. I also went to KOST, which is some next level exciting ish for me. It’s on the rooftop of the Bisha hotel, and you dine poolside with legitimately the best view of the city. It was a gorgeous day, I had frose, and obviously endless photo ops, so clearly I was the happiest basic b*tch in the world. Funny story about my “belt bag” (euphemism for fanny pack, let’s be real). It’s from Aritizia (duh, obvs, sponsor me you cows), and it was “on sale” from $128 to $118. BUTTTTTTT some moron labeled the sale price as $75, and they had to honour it, so SCORE FOR THE ATHLEISURE TEACHER. Don’t be jealous.

pump2massage

Aaaaaand a summer roundup blog wouldn’t be complete without me addressing my self care routine. I’ve honestly felt so relaxed this summer. I’ve been working out 3-4 mornings a week, gone for a massage, and just generally been taking very good care of myself. There’s been no partying (yet…I feel like it needs to happen), and I’ve stayed consistent with my early ass bedtimes. The one thing I’ve been slacking on is my meditation, but I intend to resume that as well.

So there you have it. 2 weeks of my life, all shared in my typical mediocre way. I hope you enjoyed and see you again in another 2 weeks, k thx bye.

Cancun 2018

New year, who dis?

Happy 2019 friends! As I look back and reflect on 2018, I’m honestly so grateful I was inspired to start this blog in June. It’s opened the door to so many opportunities for me on Instagram. I’ve met so many wonderful new people, said yes to things that were waaaaaay outside my comfort zone, and even began a podcast all about self-care! Having a voice and a creative outlet has been so wonderful for my mental health, and it’s lead to me conquering so many of my fears and anxieties. I socialize and go out more often, drive downtown (where as I used to say no to things because downtown driving scared me shitless), and it’s just generally made me less self conscious in public (hello taking food photos with a ring light while other patrons stare at me). It’s also brought me and the hubby closer together, as he’s often my partner in crime on my foodie outings. He’ll take the photos (he has more of an eye for the aesthetics and plating), and then I edit and post. We’re quite the duo!

Anyway, this post isn’t about my year in review. It’s about our trip to Mexico over Christmas. We stayed at a resort on the Cancun strip called Panama Jack, and it ended up being a solid choice. It was a last minute booking, and we weren’t disappointed at all!

mexico1

When we first arrived, we asked for a larger suite. The rooms are quite small, and we needed to accommodate both kids on separate beds, because we just knew they wouldn’t sleep well together in the same bed. So we opted for a room upgrade for about $50 USD a night. Pricey, yes, but worth it I think. It was still a smaller room, but we fit two beds in for them, had an ocean view, and also had 24/7 access to a VIP buffet that served tons of delicious food and top shelf alcohol. The room itself was super clean, modern, and had solid amenities. The only downside was it didn’t have a bathtub, so the kids had to shower, which isn’t their favourite, but it was massive and we made it work.

mexico2

mexico3

mexico4

mexico6

The food and the drinks were amazing. Generally speaking, the staff at the resort are very eager to please and provide amazing service. Everyone seemed happy and friendly, and the chefs were really into presentation of the food. Most of the food tasted as good as it looked. I mostly had omelettes made every morning for breakfast, and tacos for lunch. I drank mango margaritas mostly, but they also had this drink that I think is called a Miami Vice or something and it’s green, red, and yellow, and it was delicious as all heck. My daughter ate relatively well, but my son did not. He survived on fries, boxed cereal, ice cream, and mac and cheese. Some things they just couldn’t do, like Asian food night. It wasn’t working for me. Also, full disclosure, we did get food poisoning one night, which is pretty common in Mexico at an all-inclusive where the water can be contaminated, buffets have lots of hands touching things, and food might not be kept at the required temperatures. My other complaint is they only had 2 a la carte restaurants, neither which took reservations, which meant long line ups if you didn’t go as early as 5:15 pm! Other all-inclusives we’ve been to have had upwards of 10 a la carte restaurants with ample seating. But on the plus side, this was a smaller resort, with everything in close proximity, and we liked not having to walk far to the pool, restaurants, our room, etc. Especially because our bellies (okay just mine) were constantly full of tacos and margaritas, so frankly we were lazy af most of the time.

mexico5

They also had an amazing coffee shop in the lobby where I was able to get hot coffee and cold brew daily. This might’ve been my favourite feature of the hotel. The weather wasn’t great (extremely windy, overcast and rainy some of the days), so I’d often just sit at the coffee shop or get over-caffeinated and work out at the indoor gym.

The best part of this resort was how kid-friendly it was. EVERYONE there had young children, and those who didn’t chose the wrong hotel. They had so many amazing activities geared towards kids, and there was an amazing water park with tons of water slides that my kids had a blast going on. The kids club was for children 4+, but we lied about our 3 year old son’s age (let’s pray no one from the hotel reads that), and they took him along with my daughter. So every afternoon between about 1 and 3 or 4 pm, we’d drop them off and have some time to ourselves by the pool. They’d come back from the place with candy, face paint, arts and crafts, and other awesome things that made us confident with our decision to drop them off daily.

Overall, despite our illness (there was a doctor visit in there too in addition to the food poisoning, because my son got a high fever for a couple of days), we had a really great time. Because he was ill, he was pretty sleep deprived and miserable for a lot of it, and badly behaved, but we made the best regardless. Going to all-inclusives with kids isn’t easy, but I’m glad we did it, and I think we’d probably go back to one…

….without them.

mexico7

10th Anniversary of the Weird But True! Series

As an English teacher, I’ve always valued instilling a lifelong love of reading within my students. When I became a mom 6 years ago, I knew that it was so important to start reading with my daughter at a very young age, to ensure that she too fell in love with reading and books. Now, I read every evening with her and my 3 year old son, and it’s something we all look forward to after our busy days. Reading helps us decompress, allows us crucial bonding/quiet time, and just generally makes us all happy.

So when I was approached to review National Geographic’s Weird But True! series, I obviously felt it was a perfect partnership, as my values align nicely with theirs. This review is timely too, because it’s the 10th anniversary of the series, and 10 recently updated volumes have been released to celebrate! They’re available for purchase here.

nationalgeo1

My children had such a blast reading all the fun facts from the four volumes we received! In particular, they both enjoyed ones related to animals, including facts like, “a gorilla at a zoo in Germany can walk on a tight-rope,” and “male pandas sometimes do handstands to mark trees.” Pandas are clearly adorable animals, but apparently they’re a little crazy too. Also, my son is dinosaur obsessed, so he really enjoyed facts such as, ” a t. rex could bite with 8,000 pounds of force – the equivalent of being crushed by three stacked cars,” and “the meteorite that most likely killed off the dinosaurs was the size of San Fransico, California, USA.”

nationalgeo9

nationalgeo8.jpg

All the books in the series are so visually appealing and engaging. They’re vivid and uniquely laid out to keep the attention span of young children for quite a long time. Every night we read these, my children were able to stay focused and engaged for 10-15 minutes of reading, and they never got bored or lost interest. That’s a huge accomplishment for them, considering they’re relatively young.

nationalgeo7

Personally, I was most interested in the food related facts, because obviously I’m a foodie, and that’s what captures my attention. After reading this page, all I can think about is someone needs to order me a bouquet of roses made from bacon ASAP. K, thanks.

nationalgeo2

nationalgeo3

nationalgeo4

nationalgeo5

nationalgeo6

Overall, we really loved reading these books, and we think you will too! Generally I think they’re geared for children 8-12 years old, but we got a lot out of them as well! Oh also, National Geographic is currently running a contest for kids ages 6-14. Your son or daughter can submit their own accurate but weird facts about their hometown, province, or country here through January 31, 2019!

 

 

Thankful.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving friends! I know I haven’t blogged in forever, but the reason for this is threefold:

  1. I’ve been bogged down with planning and marking at school.
  2. I’ve been focusing on our podcast (episode 2 about food and nutrition as self-care is now available on the podcast app! Just search “Self-care with Lauren and Blair” to listen!)
  3. Aaaaand I just haven’t been inspired to write, unfortunately, and I didn’t want to blog for the sake of blogging.

But here we are, and damnit, I’ll try to write something relatively coherent and engaging for all of y’all, because I know my 5 loyal followers want it.

What am I thankful for this year? Like, a lot. It’s been a really good time both personally and professionally, and I need to make a list because I love lists and lists are awesome.

1. My health. Always first and foremost. How lucky am I that my body is healthy enough to allow me to do high impact exercise 3 days a week? To run around with my children? To get out of bed every day and live a productive life? I will never ever take this for granted. When I sit on that spin bike, I thank gd for my health multiple times. I also thank gd I’m not pregnant, because being in that body really freaking sucks, but that’s a whole other blog post.

2. My family. I mean, duh. I’m eternally grateful that my children are happy and healthy and not the spawn of Satan. I also feel so blessed to have a wonderful husband, the best parents, and the cutest of sisters eva.

appleorchard

Apple picking when it’s still hot out is fun too. (TB to a few weeks ago…)

3. My friends. I tightened my inner circle A LOT this year and it’s been very liberating. I have the world’s most patient friends, because for the last four months, my conversations, meals, and life in general have revolved around Instagram. They don’t get to eat until I’ve photographed (or rather, they’ve photographed because I’m a shitty photographer) their meals, and my conversations with them are a steady stream of follows and unfollows, podcast plans, and asking which picture to post. I’m sorry guys. I really truly suck. You’re all amazing for tolerating me.

4. Impromptu weekend trips to NYC. The fact the most incredible city in the world is just a one hour flight away is nothing short of amazing! I don’t want to live there, but every few months I just feel the pull of the city and gravitate towards it. It’s an addiction, I suppose, but the energy, food, nightlife, and shopping are beyond magnetic.

nycdresspic.jpgrooftopnyc.jpg

5. My job. I have the best students this semester. We have the most interesting class discussions, and they’re all so engaged and participatory. It’s rare to get a group where the majority of the students have strong opinions, so this is pretty much English teacher heaven for me! Also, in case people think teenagers are rude and disrespectful, I want to tell you that every morning, my students come into my class and greet me with a “hello” or a “good morning.” When they leave the class, they say “have a good day miss,” or “bye!” They’re such mensches! I really appreciate their warmth and kindness, because it keeps me in a good mood and sets a really positive tone for the day.

6. Refined carbohydrates and gluten. Pizza. Donuts. Tacos.

bacondonut.jpg

This maple bacon donut from Dipped Donuts in Kensington Market is pretty much the epitome of fall in Canada, amirite? I think I am most grateful for this donut. Like, I love my family and stuff, but…donuts win.