Thursday, 24 September 2015

"I've been there" she says.

The clock is nearly striking midnight and I'm as anxious to be home as Cinderella at the end of the ball. Although that is probably the only similarity that she and I share on this day. It's almost midnight and I'm walking my sick four year old into Shoppers Drug Mart. It's that time of year when days still radiate with the last warmth of the summer sun but evenings turn chilly in the blink of an eye. My kid is in a t-shirt because earlier, in the hospital, he puked on his sweatshirt. It's too cold to be out without proper defences to the elements. Especially with a pneumonia. So I'm wrapping him in the adult sized sweatshirt I had in the car. He is whining and crying in protest.

The woman in the car next to me stares for a moment too long. She sees how disheveled I look. Remember when he puked earlier? There are remnants of that on my pant leg. And my right shoulder is painted with his snot and tears. Because hours earlier I held him after he was woken from his sleep strapped into a chest x-ray machine. Terrified. As I pulled him from the necessary contraption he sobbed on my shoulder. And so here I am. It's midnight and my body is a canvas of puke and snot art. And I'm losing the battle to get my kid into an oversized sweatshirt. And he probably should be at home in bed anyway. But there is medicine that he needs and it's in that store. I feel her eyes on me and I dart mine in her direction. I narrow my eyelids and dare her to open her mouth. She just shakes her head and walks in the opposite direction.

Mac at CHEO earlier in the night

Inside the pharmacy we walk to the counter. Kid, who is getting on the big side to be carried but still fits relatively comfortably, is slung over my shoulder and prescription papers are in my hand. At the counter I hand over the sheets and the pharmacist looks at them without looking up at me.

"Will you be waiting for these tonight?" She asks. I open my mouth to answer yes but before any sound comes out she interrupts me and says "oh, yes, I guess you must be." The kid needs steroids, and antibiotics, and new asthma medication to start a new protocol so that perhaps we won't be here again anytime soon. I need the medicine to start in the morning so wait we must.

"It will be 45 minutes to an hour" she says. All business. And I want to cry. I think I do a little. How am I supposed to entertain this child in a pharmacy for an hour at midnight? Especially since he slept from 7 to 10 PM so now feels refreshed after such a long "nap." And how many people will see me during that hour? The mom who drags her kid "shopping"with her at 12 AM. With puke on her pants and snot in her hair. In the span of a day, in the span of this day especially, an hour is not of great consequence. But this hour that she has laid out ahead of me feels like impending misery.

She looks at me a little closer now. Maybe she sees the snot. Maybe she sees the exhausted desperation in my eyes. "Just give me a minute" she says. A minute turns to five and like a fairy godmother she returns with a bag of medicine. "I've been there," she says.

Parenting is no fairytale. There are small people with lost shoes but those shoes are rarely glass slippers. There are damsels in distress but that distress is generally because the blue cup is too blue or the toast was cut in triangles instead of squares. But sometimes there are heros. Other parents who have been there. Who know the true length of an hour at midnight with a sick kid. Who take pity and save the night.

So thank-you fairy pharmacist. I'll do my best to pay it forward.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

First Day of School

For years I've seen the photos of smiling (and crying) small children heading off on their first day of school. My reaction was a pretty standard "aw that's cute." But I never fully grasped the enormity of that moment for the kids and for their parents.

Over here we are all mostly ready for this transition. Mac is an only child and he is lonely. My ability to stay in character while playing dinosaurs or having a magical pony tea party is not note-worthy. He is craving more child interaction than the park and playdates can provide. And I think I will enjoy playing dinosaurs and having tea parties much more when they happen for a few hours in the evening rather than ALL.DAMN.DAY. Also, my business is really busy. Which is a really fantastic problem to have but it's also really hard to find balance. Most days you can find me editing photos until the very wee hours of the morning and then I'm woken-up by Mac, full of energy and ready to start his day, just a few hours later. With him in school all day I can hopefully get more work done during daylight hours and actually spend more quality time with my family.

So, for all of these reasons, we are very much looking forward to the first day of school tomorrow. But then, there's the reality that I'm sending my whole heart off into some kind of unknown wilderness. My sweet kid who has been somewhat sheltered in his 4 years on this earth. Who hasn't yet learned that "pink is for girls" and "blue is for boys." Who is as likely to ask for fairy wings as a toy truck. Who still says "did you notice that?" instead of "did you know that?" which makes me smile every.single.time. What changes are in store for all of us in the months ahead? Will the teachers be kind to him? Will the kids be kind to him? Will he be kind to the other kids? Will he be able to hold onto his goofy and sweet personality? There's a lot of questions.

Recently, in a parenting group I'm in, someone really smart offered the following words of wisdom:

"Sending our kids out into the parts of the world we can't carefully curate is the greatest act of faith imaginable. Faith in our kids that they have the resilience and self-confidence to be themselves. Faith in humanity to recognize and celebrate their beauty. Faith in ourselves that we've prepared them for whatever is ahead."

And she is so very right. So that is what I'm trying to do - have faith. And my gosh it is hard!

So this one is for all the first time school parents out there this week. May we all keep the faith.

P.S. Thanks for reading! I know it's been a long time since I've written. There's a few reasons for that - one being that I've struggled to find the balance between public and private. And that gets more complicated as Mac ages and has his own personality. It's sometimes hard to differentiate between my stories and his stories. But the biggest reason is that Mondays with Mac Photography has just been so very very busy and I'm rarely ahead of schedule when it comes to editing. I'm hoping that Mac being in school will allow me a bit more time to write (both about my family and to share the images from the beautiful wedding and families I photograph). So it seemed like the first day of school was as good a day as any to jump back in.

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Review for And pretty much the most baring my soul post I've ever written.

Have you noticed it's been several weeks since I've posted a blog? There's a reason for that. I couldn't write another post until I wrote this post. And there's been a pretty huge disconnect between getting this post out of my heart and onto the screen. Because when I signed up to write this post I was feeling all brave and kick-ass. But being brave and kick-ass is sometimes fleeting. And one should learn not to sign-up for things in those moments. Or maybe one should. I guess it depends on your perspective.

Anyway. What the heck am I talking about? I'm talking about these pretty awesome  Merrell Women's Pace Glove 2s shoes from And my body. My post-baby, post-postpartum depression, post anti-depressant, body. And as I even write those words there's a tear in my eye. Because this is just such a raw thing for me to talk about with you - my friends, family, and the internet. But here we go.

Before I got pregnant with our spectacular Mac I had a pretty "average" body. I put average in quotations because I get that there's really no such thing. But it felt average to me at the time. If you need numbers to be visual I was 5 foot 7 inches and weighed roughly 130 pounds. I went down as low as 120 during a low carb stint. And I went up as high as 140 when in a steady relationship that encouraged lots of dinners out and movie popcorn. But generally I weighed 130 pounds. Feeling feminist and woman-supporting to my core I tried my best to speak kindly about my body. And although I wasn't always successful at that I was more successful at speaking kindly about other women's bodies. I've always appreciated women's bodies in their various shapes. I always wanted to support the women in my life to love their bodies and appreciate them as they are. Always the perfect size in the moment. You could hear me say things like "if you want a bikini body, put a bikini on your body" and "riot don't diet." But, if I'm being honest, those things felt easier to say in a 130 pound frame.

With Mac's other parents in 2010 before conception.
Pregnant with Mac I gained about 40 pounds. The nurse at my doctor's office mentioned once that it was a little too much. And I felt strong enough to put her in her place. "This body is growing a person and I'm feeding it lots of healthy food and if that's how much weight it needs to fulfill this task then please don't try to make me feel bad about that." You might have read that last line as if it was said with a bunch of sass and confidence, maybe even a finger wag at that the end. In reality I probably stammered and whispered my way through it. But I definitely stood up for myself.

In the months after giving birth about half of that weight came off without any effort on sincere intention on my part. And then my world got rocked. 

I woke up one day underwater. Postpartum depression hit me like a tonne of bricks. A tonne of bricks that I didn't see coming. Suddenly everything felt terrifying. Small decisions like what we should have for breakfast felt like they would have life-altering consequences. And they paralyzed me. Sometimes Tracy would come home and find me sitting on the floor in the dark holding Mac on my lap. Because I knew that if I just held him right there in the silence, with nothing sharp or suffocate-y around, then he would be safe. The responsibility of just keeping him alive felt immense. I sometimes imagined what it would be like if I had an injury. Nothing too big - just maybe a broken leg or something. That way someone else would have had to take care of him for a little while and I could sleep. I was sure they would have done a better job. I stopped sleeping and I started eating. A lot. Chocolate chip muffins gave me small moments of pleasure. So I kept eating them. 

And then I made the choice to go on anti-depression medication. I'm not sure how to write this part of my story. Because I don't know what would have happened if I didn't. And I certainly don't want to play any part in convincing someone who needs medication not to take it. It's possible this story would have a worse ending if I had decided to forgo the medicine. But it felt like with medication things went from bad to worse. I had an expectation that this medication would make me happy. It did not. If anything it just made me less sad. It was like I was a sour margarita. I expected that adding medication would be like adding sugar. Instead it was like removing the lime juice. Not sour. Not sweet. Just bla. 

And because I didn't really understand how anti-depressants work I kept asking my doctor to increase my dosage. Until I was at the maximum dosage allowed. And they came in this giant pill bottle the size of my hand that signified this girl is really depressed. And I was. 

As the dosage increased so did the side effects. Mainly an increase of sugar cravings and a slowed metabolism. I gained nearly 70 pounds in a relatively short amount of time. Not of baby weight. Of post baby weight. And in some swirling combination of new bodily realities and mental anguish I misplaced all that feminist, kick ass, body-positivity that seemed to come so easily before. 

The more weight I gained the less I liked myself. And perhaps because of the physical weight or perhaps because of my new less-confidant self, the world seemed to like me less too. I don't say that to be pitiful or look for sympathy. But walking through the world as a size 18 as opposed to a size 8 was a very different experience. I was used to going to stores and trying on clothes and having salespeople say "that looks so great on you" instead of "that looks so slimming on you." Living in this new reality was difficult. And I didn't know how to make it easier. 

Eventually, the fog lifted. Enough time passed and my hormones got back to some semblance of "normal." I weaned myself off of the medication and tried to pick-up the pieces of my life. That period of time did a number on every part of my life from my marriage to my self worth. And I've been walking around with this (literal and metaphorical) heaviness ever since. 

A few months ago I decided to try and lose weight. And I never wanted to talk about it here or on social media because I still want to be that body-positive person I was before all this. I want to be that woman saying "Hell yes I'm rocking this dress." I want to be a better role model for my kid and for anyone reading this blog. And I know that talk about dieting and weight loss can be triggering for women who love their bodies as they are and don't want to read about people changing theirs. I get all that so I've been silent on the issue. 

And maybe silence was the right choice. Maybe it was a kinder, more feminist, choice. In this moment, before hitting publish, I'm not entirely sure. If this post is making you uncomfortable maybe hop on over to somewhere like HAES (Healthy At Ever Size) for a while. 

For those of you still reading, I started to count calories. And I started to lose weight. I was feeling pretty good when sent me a message asking if I'd like to test out a pair of shoes from their website. I assume their intention was to pick out a pretty pair of heels but I had my eyes on some new running shoes. I thought maybe I could start running too. And thought maybe I'd be brave enough to blog about all this. 

So I said yes and I ordered these lovely Merrell Women's Pace Glove 2s. And I started a couch-to-5K. I lost 50 pounds. 

That was weeks ago but that moment of braveness I had when I agreed to this post has long since left. And I know that when I agreed to write this post I also agreed to post pictures. Of myself. And as I much as I want that to be easy and empowering it mostly feels really scary. And it feels awful to admit that. 

The problem with writing a narrative that is authentic is that it's not as neat and tidy as something fabricated. As time passes this isn't just a story about me getting postpartum depression and gaining a bunch of weight and losing a bunch of weight and loving myself. After losing fifty pounds I've since gained some back and am now struggling with that. It's a story about getting postpartum depression and gaining a bunch of weight and losing a bunch of weight and gaining some back and losing more - all the while trying to love myself and sometimes succeeding. It's messy. But it's real. And now it's down on paper. Errr- the internet. And it's out there. 

Like me, this story is a work in progress. And I don't mean that my physical body is a work in progress - I mean that the person I want to be is.  But at least I'm doing it in some fabulous shoes. asked me to pair these shoes with a styled outfit. So, in case you are wondering, both the capri yoga pants and the blue running shirt came from Smart Set. 

Things you should know about
- They carry a large selection of popular brands (180 and increasing!)
- They offer FREE express shipping anywhere in Canada
- They offer FREE returns and easy exchanges
- You can follow them on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram

Things you should know about Merrell Women's Pace Glove 2s:
- They are really comfortable
- They are REALLY light weight (I was actually going to capitalize really in the last point but then I changed my mind because I thought it would detract from the seriousness of this point. They shoes weigh practically nothing. It's weird. But awesome).
- They are really breathable and that keeps your feet nice and cool 
- They are VEGAN

Want to check out for yourself? Use the code JustForYou25 to receive $25 off orders of $100 or more. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

I don't know Ma. I just needed it.

Sometimes these tiny people, and their capacity for assessing their own needs, amazes me. I mean, babies, toddlers, and children are generally well known for expressing their wants and needs. They don't worry about being pushy or selfish. They don't sensor themselves so as to appear agreeable. This isn't news to anyone who has ever been in the presence of a small child for even a few moments. But what does seem to surprise me from time to time is how aware they can be of the intricacies of their needs.

This week Mac has been a little "off." If you've ever been a regular care-giver of a toddler you know what I mean by that. He's not sick but he's just a little… different… he's a bit quieter, a bit more whinny, and a bit more clingy. 

So when we are headed to the park and he asks to be carried I am not that surprised. At almost three years old and a little over 30 pounds, carrying him in my arms for a long period of time isn't really feasible. But there is a trusty Onya Baby carrier in my closet that he agrees to. I snap the buckles around my waist, cherishing the clicking noise that I heard at least one thousand times in the first year of his life when he liked to be worn constantly. I bend down to let him climb on my back and he makes an unhappy face. 

"I don't want to go on your back Ma. I'm too shy today. I want to go on your belly." 

Now, if you know my kid you know that he's certainly not shy. But we all have our days don't we? With a swelling heart I scoop my boy up and snap the buckle closed on my shoulders. He's all legs and arms. They hang a bit awkwardly at his sides but in a few moments we've moved our bodies like a puzzle into a configuration that is comfortable for everyone. His head rests against my chest and my nose can't help but bend down and inhale the sweet scent. No longer the intoxicating smell of newborn skin but still the unmistakable smell of my child that will always be my favourite scent.

His declaration of not wanting to play at the park today is short lived. Twenty minutes of his heart beating next to his Mama's is all he needs and by the time we arrive at the play structure he is ready to get down and play.

Of course my Mama's heart is happy to see him feeling better. There are some new kids at the park and they have brought seahorse moulds with them. I love watching them sweetly offer Mac a turn with their treasures and seeing his eyes light up when he turns to me and says "the girls shared with me Ma!" 

But a small part of my heart feels heavy as he climbs out of my carrier. I am keenly aware that there are a limited number of "baby wearing" days left in our future. Each time I unclip him could easily be the last. And while watching him grow is such a joy there is still sadness in seeing each phase come to an end. 

Minutes turn to hours and it is time to head home for lunch. I assume he will want to sit in the stroller  but instead he surprises me by asking to get back in the carrier. This time he's feeling less shy and decides a back carry will suffice. 

I've had a long few weeks and the unexpected treat of holding my babe close to me today feels like medicine for my soul. Later, cuddled on the couch, I ask him why he wanted me to carry him today. 

"I don't know Ma," he replies thoughtfully. "I just needed it."

Me too kiddo. Me too. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

On Being the Mom He Knows

Hi friends! 

Voting for the  Ottawa Wedding Awards  ends TODAY (Monday May 12th). Which means this is the last blog post that will begin with me humbly asking for your vote. If you think that Mondays with Mac Photography deserves to win the category of best photographer please take a moment and vote for us! You don't need sign-up for anything or leave an email address. And you can skip over the other categories if you aren't familiar with the great ottawa vendors. 

Thank-you so much! 

OK, and now for today's post….

At the top of our stairs there are two photos from our wedding. One with our wedding party and one of just Tracy and me.

Sometimes Tracy likes to look at the photos with Mac and point out the people he knows. But when they get to me he throws a fit. 

"I don't like Ma like that. I don't like Ma like that."

Because the me on my wedding day looks little the me he sees everyday. My hair was longer (both naturally and thanks to the extensions my hairdresser clipped in for the side-do she created). Also, it has a big feather and rhinestone clip in which is not my usual around the house style. Instead of a t-shirt and pants I am wearing a long white dress. I'm thinner and tanned. And my nails are weirdly long. In that photo I am not the Mama he knows. 

"I don't like Ma like that. I like Ma like ttthhhhaaattt." He says while pointing to my current mom look. And although he's said it a bazillion times it finally clicks with me. I like to have my picture taken when I look like I did on my wedding day (you know, when I've spent months prepping for that one day of photos and I'm only about 65% authentic). But Mac thinks I'm much more beautiful when I'm chasing him around the yard in an old t-shirt. 

And those are the photos I should be taking. My reluctance to actually be in photos with him these days is robbing him of the memories he'll cherish. He may one day like to look at the photos from his moms' wedding but he won't remember those women. He'll remember us as we are today. And we should really be providing him with more photographic evidence of these days. 

So yesterday, at the park without make-up (or chapstick apparently) and in a t-shirt, I asked my wife to take a photo of Mac and me. Which, predictably, went horribly as he had exactly zero interest in sitting still long enough. But we'll keep trying. This summer I will be in more photos with my son. As the mom he remembers. Y'all can hold me accountable. 

Happy belated Mother's Day. I hope it was everything you wanted it to be. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Making Memories

Hello everyone! 

Before we get to today's post would you mind hopping over to the Ottawa Wedding Awards website and voting for Mondays with Mac Photography? We are so proud to be nominated and to make it to the final voting round! You can skip the categories that don't apply if you aren't familiar with other other amazing wedding industry folks in our city. Only one vote per device and voting closes on May 28th, 2014. Thank-you so much! 

And now for the blog post

My earliest memories come sometime after my third birthday. My mom was pregnant with my brother and I remember her big belly. I remember it as only a child can - from the underside. My memories only reach three and a half feet tall. Standing on the green carpet leftover from the seventies, my mother's hand on the bottom of her belly asking me if I wanted a little brother or a little sister. I wanted a sister so badly. And I was young enough to believe that my wanting it would make it so. 

Tracy thinks her first memories come some time later. She doesn't think she can remember the time before school started. When it was just her and her mom at home. She remembers feeling homesick at school and trying to hold back tears while sitting cross-legged on the carpeted kindergarden floor. So she knows there must have been happy moments to be missed. But they escape her. 

Mac is just two and a half years old. I feel like I have lived a lifetime in those months. The transition from myself to his mama was swift and brutal. It was beautiful and joyous. In one traumatic and miraculous day my new life began and I've done my best to preserve every memory since. Some with cameras and some etched onto the surface of my heart. But it occurs to me that, of this entire life we have lived with our precious son, he will likely not remember any of it. There will be photos and this blog. Some of it he may "remember" in that way that we create memories from keepsakes even though we didn't have the original recollection. But he won't actually remember the kisses and the hugs or the tickles and the laughter. 

Still, we try anyway. Mac has developed a love affair with a big purple dinosaur named Barney. There is a movie, that has been played countless times in my house, that is a recording of a Barney performance. I watch that movie with my son and long to give him that experience. To bring him to a show and watch him dance in the aisles, singing the songs he knows by heart at the top of his lungs. But his love affair with Barney has been facilitated through Netflix and old episodes. Did you know that Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez played friends of the big purple dinosaur as children? Me neither. These episodes are old. Barney is now a retired rockstar and google did not reveal a farewell or comeback tour. 

Then one day I was flipping through an issue of Parenting Times  and saw a full page advertisement for  a live Barney show in Ottawa. Well, actually, it was an ad for The Baby Show. But Barney was going to be there on stage. I blacked out the weekend on my schedule and waited for showtimes to be announced. As springtime photo shoots filled my calendar I kept the weekend as free as possible. My kid was going to see Barney! 

The day arrived and we headed downtown. Slow traffic and blocked roads, the result of a bicycle race, meant that we didn't make the 11 AM show and instead would wait around for the 2 PM show. But we were not deterred. The small town girl in me still feels like she is being kicked in the stomach when she has to pay city parking prices. But what's the cost of a mid-level bottle of wine in comparison to my son seeing Barney!? 

We got there early. Each taking turns holding our front row seats while the other browsed the Baby Show booths. I made the decision to leave my camera at home this time. With it in my hands I am constantly searching for the right light, the best angle, and sometimes that means that I miss what is right in front of me. I decided I would snap a few quick photos with my phone and let the rest write itself on my heart. 

Tracy and I were giddy with anticipation. So much so that tears welled up in my wife's eyes at the excitement of being able to bring her son to his see the purple dino of his dreams. I only found out about this after when she turned to me and said "did you cry a bit before Barney came on?" And when I gave her a quizzical look she said "ya, me either." And then added "don't tell anyone that." Which sounds like "I double dog dare you" to a blogger. 

Before long Barney was on stage singing the songs Mac knows by heart. But instead of dancing in the aisle as I had imagined he would he crawled onto my lap and sat stoically. All of my attempts to get him dancing and singing were met with "no Ma." The experience was overwhelming for our boy and he was just taking it all in. 

As the tiny groupies rushed the stage for their moment with Barney we asked Mac if he wanted to get closer. He was unsure. And then the homebody boy after my own heart said "Ma, can we go home and watch Barney on my TV?"

It wasn't the heart-exploding moment of sheer joy I had hoped for. And yet this morning, after sleeping on the memory, he woke up excitedly proclaiming "You remember Ma? You remember when Barney touched my head?!?" And, for now, the memory of seeing Barney on stage is a magical one that he will tell everyone about for months to come. 

Although he likely won't remember the day, as the months turn to years, it will live on through my wife and me. And I like to think that even though he won't be able to access the details of these early days in tangible ways they will still exist in some way in his heart. And when he has his own little ones someday he will know what these years were like. He'll access that part of his heart and thank his moms for the memories he can't quite remember. Like I should probably do right now. Thank-you Mom and Dad.  


Did you skip over that bit at the beginning about voting for us (Mondays with Mac Photography) at over at  Ottawa Wedding Awards ? If so we would so appreciate your vote! And if you have already voted for us then thank-you so much taking the time - it truly means so much! 

Monday, 28 April 2014

Just One Kiss Mama

Hello everyone! 

Before we get to today's post would you mind hopping over to the Ottawa Wedding Awards website and voting for Mondays with Mac Photography? We are so proud to be nominated and to make it to the final voting round! You can skip the categories that don't apply if you aren't familiar with other other amazing wedding industry folks in our city. Only one vote per device and voting closes on May 28th, 2014. Thank-you so much! 

And now for the blog post

I sink into the corner of the couch. Legs pulled up to my chest. Phone resting on my knee. But the lack of space between my thigh and my torso always makes my son nervous. Nothing else should ever be on my lap but him. And when my lap disappears he wiggles his little arm into the empty space and pushes until there is room for his body. 

"Up please." The squeaky voice of toddlerhood. His many demands are now bookended with please and thank-you. 

Diego is on the TV screen and Facebook is in my hand. Our attention is diverted but we connect as I mindlessly stroke his soft hair. His legs curl until he's a ball of love on my lap. My thumb scrolls past a newsfeed of baby announcements and the gym tales. His body bounces and he pushes his fist in the air "vamanos!" 

Without thinking I rest my head on his and kiss that tender spot that still sometimes smells like baby. Which he is not. Seventeen kisses later he jerks his head away and turns to face me. A tiny crinkle forms between his brows. "Ma, why do you always give me so many hugs and kisses? I like you to stop doing that and just give one. OK?" 

And so it begins. My baby is putting limits on my mamahood. A one kiss maximum rule is implemented. And it takes everything in me not to hug and kiss him to infinity and beyond. This is the tragedy of parenthood. Your job is to teach them to grow up and away from you. And it's both joyous and too painful for explanation. 

This tiny human is understanding expectations and setting boundaries. He's negotiating. He's becoming someone. Not just my soft and gushy unformed being but his own person. I'm proud. And terrified. 

The next morning I greet him with "good morning" and before my lips touch his cheek he reminds me. Like a stern elementary school teacher with an important homework reminder. "Just one kiss Ma. Just one."

His lips are chapped but he wipes the balm away as quickly as I can apply it. In the car the dryness burns and his squeaky voice makes his discomfort known.

"You need stop the car and kiss my owie." He demands. And then remembers, "please."  I tell him that we are nearly home and as soon as we get there I will put cream on his lips. But he doesn't want cream. He wants a kiss. And immediately. We go back and forth until finally I remember that I'm not actually in a hurry to get home and pull over into the nearest parking lot. I open his door and give him, just one, kiss firmly on the lips. 

"There. That better," he says. And he means it. To his mind there is still magic in my kiss. The power to fix chapped lips and skinned knees. He believes that my love can heal his minor afflictions and like the velveteen rabbit that belief makes it real. 

And although my kisses are now being limited, I'm relieved to know that, for now, they are still magic. And as he's counting them I'll be sure to make each one count. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Nature's Path Review and Giveaway

If you are a regular reader here at Mondays with Mac you know that I'm very selective about the products I review. I get several requests every single day and only a handful of companies make it here each year. I need to feel good about the product I'm reviewing. I need to believe that if I'm recommending you spend a portion of your family's budget on a product it is one I would spend my family's budget on too. The company needs to respect my time and energy as a blogger and needs to value you, my readers, as their ideal customers. This perfect storm doesn't happen frequently. However, Nature's Path meets and exceeds that criteria.

Nature's Path is a family-run company out of Richmond British Columbia. They are a third-party certified organic, non-GMO project verified, vegetarian company with a motto of "leaving the earth better than we found it." And they manage to do all that while creating breakfast foods and snacks that even picky toddlers will eat. Impressed? You probably should be.

We received a gift pack of EnviroKidz products and Mac has been eating his way through the cereal and snack bars. His favourite being the Gorilla Munch. 

When you buy an EnviroKidz product, 1% of the sale goes to support endangered species, habitat conservation, and environmental education for kids. So far they have raised 1.6 million dollars! Each box focuses on a specific animal. The back and inside of the box offer trivia about the animal, tips for protecting endangered species, as well as fun word and drawing games.

The EnviroKidz line offers a lot of great breakfast and snack options for families but Nature's Path also offers a tonne of products for the whole family with something to satisfy every specialized diet (vegan, gluten free, low sodium, reduced sugar, whole grain, and wheat free). My gluten free friend says that the Pumpkin Spice Waffles are the best frozen waffle she's ever bought (including non gluten free products).

I would also encourage you to hop on over to their website, Facebook page, and Twitter page for more information on their products as well as environmental and health issues more broadly. If you have a question about one of their products don't be afraid to ask on their regularly updated social media sites. Have a look around and you will see that they really are a large company with an international reach who operates like a small family shop. Your questions will be heard and responded to quickly!

Interested in trying some of these products? Help us celebrate Earth Day by entering the giveaway below for your own gift pack!

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Disclosure: As the owner of this blog I may be compensated to provide my opinion on products and services. Although I may receive compensation, it will in no way affect my opinion or review. You will always read 100% truthful reviews on this site. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Making Babies the Lesbian Way. And why it might be good for your STRAIGHT marriage.

First things first, I should be very clear that lesbians (and trans men) get pregnant in a variety of ways. They might have sex with cisgender men or use anonymous/known donor sperm via a sperm donor clinic. They might use fertility treatments, including but not limited to, IVF. And that's not even touching on the options of surrogacy, and adoption, and children created in prior relationships. Others, like me, use a known donor to donate fresh sperm and do at home inseminations. But "Making Babies (one of the) Lesbian Way(s)" is sort of a weird title for a blog post.

So, anyway, where am I going with this? I have a friend. I'm going to call her Khaleesi because I just read that there are now more babies named Khaleesi than Betsy or Nadine in the U.S. and that totally blows my mind. But that's not her real name. She doesn't want her sex life broadcasted on the internet. I know, weird right? I mean, my wife doesn't want that either, but I can't really give her the same pseudonym treatment as Khaleesi without confusing everyone. Sorry Tracy.

So, a little while ago, Khaleesi sends me a message asking for specific details regarding our artichoke jar inseminations.  This throws me off guard as I know that she is happily married to a cisgender man. But sometimes people send me messages asking for information for their sister, coworker, hairdresser's cousin's BFF, etc. So I give her my standard reply with a few specifics and point her to The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth** which was basically my bible during my trying to conceive process.

A few days later she sends me a long response thanking me for the information and tells me that she and her husband have been trying to get pregnant, without success, for 10 months now. They have two more months to try to conceive "naturally" before their doctor will give them a referral to a fertility clinic. And in the meantime their marriage is really suffering. Sex has become a chore and they are both frustrated, grumpy, and on edge. Khaleesi is taking her temperature each morning in an attempt to predict her most fertile period. This is called charting your basal body temperature and it's awesome for seeing patterns overtime to predict when one is going to ovulate (in addition to identifying some cycle issues that may be impairing fertility). But, in general, it tells you when you have ovulated rather than when you are about to ovulate so there is still some guess work to be done.** And Khaleesi and Dothraki (also not his name but, hey, I figured I'd grab another Game of Thrones word and google gave me that one) are sick of the guessing game. Dothraki is really frustrated with the scheduled sex-on-demand that their attempts at baby-making are producing. And both of them were longing for the days when sex was spontaneous and fun.

To make matters worse, their work schedules don't line-up. She often gets home from work when he is sleeping and sometimes he needs to leave for work before she is awake. So, not only are they having sex that neither of them is enjoying, at least one of them is missing precious sleep to do it.

Enter - making babies the lesbian way. After my detailed explanation of how to insert "donated" sperm Khaleesi and Dothraki now have a system in place that is working much better for both of them.  During their fertile window Duthraki gently nudges Khaleesi awake and hands her a jar of fresh sperm and then heads out to work. She inseminates herself and then falls easily back to sleep.

"This is seriously life changing." She admitted to me recently. "We do this really wacky thing now where we have sex WHEN WE FEEL LIKE IT and it feels like so much pressure has been lifted off of our shoulders. There's no more fake moaning to try and speed him up so that I can get back to sleep before I'm totally awake. Lesbians have the best ideas. God, make sure you change my name if you blog about this."

Of course, I am not saying that using this method of insemination is going to increase a straight couple's chances of getting pregnant. But if you are frustrated with your current attempts, and open to trying something new, this might help to take a bit of the pressure off. The general understanding is that inseminations done with fresh donor sperm are about as likely to result in pregnancy as heterosexual intercourse.

Curious about how to do it yourself? Keep reading.

What you will need (other then your bodies).
- a jar, bowl, or something with a lid to catch the sperm
- a needle-less syringe (most jokes about lesbian conception involve a turkey baster but a needle-less syringe is actually easier to use). The best size to use is 3-cc or 5-cc.

What to do:
Make sure the jar you are using is clean and dry. Encourage your partner to take his time producing the sperm. The more turned on he is the greater the volume of ejaculation will be. Decide how you want to do the hand-off. Is it less awkward if he leaves it on the counter for you? There's no right or wrong way as long as the sperm stays warm. Some people also think that sperm can be a bit sensitive to air and light so tell him to put the lid on the jar and dim the lights when he is done. When we did our inseminations Tracy took the jar of sperm from Andy and then kept it warm in her sports bra until we were ready to inseminate.

I haven't been able to find a definitive amount of time that fresh sperm is "good" for. In The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth Stephanie Brill suggests one hour (p.288) but other sources have said thirty minutes, ninety minutes, and even up to 24 hours. I am no expert so I can't give solid answer.

Make sure the cap is off your syringe, that there is no needle in it, and that you have pushed all the air out. Put the tip of the syringe in the sperm and pull the plunger part back (there's probably a word for that part of a syringe - I'm sure someone will chime in) so that the sperm is pulled up into body of the syringe. Lie on your back and insert the syringe deep inside your vagina. Slowly push the plunger part so that the sperm enters your vagina. When you are done, slowly pull the syringe out. Doing this slowly will help the sperm to not fall out. At this point you would do all the things that you would regularly do after intercourse. Some women like to lie with their hips up for twenty minutes. Others like to spend a few minutes on their back, stomach, and each side to help the sperm move around and find the cervix.

And that, my friends, is it. I want to be very clear that I am not a doctor, midwife, or in any way trained on matters of fertility whatsoever. So please don't take anything you read here as definitive. There are links to a few REALLY GOOD books below. Read those and talk to your own health care providers!

Good Luck!

If you are interested in the books or products mentioned in this post please click on the links below. They are affiliate links which means that should you make a purchase I will receive a small fee.


If you are a longtime reader you may remember that when I was trying to get pregnant I used the Ovacue Fertility Monitor. This little gadget does a pretty awesome job of actually predicting your fertile period.

OvaCue Fertility Monitor

If you are looking for a good book on how to chart cycles and understand fertility this is the standard recommendation.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

JORD Watches: Review and Giveaway

You will notice that this blog isn't heavy on reviews.  But even though I don't actually host a lot of reviews I do get a lot of emails asking me to review products. Ninety-nine percent of the time I don't. And that's because if I am going to show you something it has to A) be very cool and B) I have to jive with the company.

Enter: JORD Watches.

JORD watches are made from different woods from all over the world including bamboo, maple, sandalwood, blackwood, cherry, and teak. The glass is made from scratch-proof blue film glass. The best part is that each one is hand-crafted from natural materials making each one truly unique.

To clean your JORD Watch you mix two tablespoons of olive oil and lemon juice and apply the mixture to a cotton cloth and then to the watch. Jord watches are splash proof, meaning they will withstand some water being splashed from a kitchen sink, but they are not designed to be submerged in water.

The watch in this post is the Fieldcrest Series in natural green model.  It is unisex and comes in three design options at the affordable price of $120 USD. 

And hey, do you want one too? Excellent - enter below for your chance to win! 

When you get your unique Jord Watch don't forget to post a photo on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #JORDWatch for a chance to win cool monthly prizes! 

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Disclosure: As the owner of this blog I may be compensated to provide my opinion on products and services. Although I may receive compensation, it will in no way affect my opinion or review. You will always read 100% truthful reviews on this site. 

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