Our first DIY project: Christmas Mini Session

Every year since the kids were born, I would take them to a professional photographer for their annual Christmas card photo.  This year, most photographers booked up well in advance (as early as late September) for any mini-Christmas photo session.   We had an amazing photographer back in London, Ontario and since moving to the GTA, I haven’t found someone that I love as much as I did back in London.   As I was struggling to find any photographer (for a decent price) my husband suggested that we do it ourselves.  I thought….why not?!  I was up for the challenge.

I did some research, mostly on Pinterest, and the first thing I learned that the mini-session required some sort of theme.   Originally we were going to do it in our backyard as its very wide with lots of beautiful trees, but daylight is limited during this time of year.  So I thought, why not incorporate a theme of red and gold around our fireplace?   I already had some decor from last Christmas (the trees and pillows) and the rest I picked up from Homesense.  I found a beautiful argyle blanket, wooden present boxes and a banner.   We dressed our boys in red plaid shirts and voila!  We had our mini session.
The other key is to have a decent camera, although most cellphones today have pretty good ones in them.  Fortunately, we have a pretty decent camera (a Rebel Canon) and I used my husband’s MAC to edit the photos afterwards.

It was fun and it lasted about 10 minutes.  The key to get kids to cooperate during a photo session is to make sure that they are well-rested and fed, so we did ours after dinner.   From experience I learned that a mini session will not work if your child is tired, cranky or hungry.  We played some Christmas music in the background and had fun.  Really, all we wanted was one decent photo for their Christmas card this year and they all ended up being phenomenal.  I am really glad that they turned out well and this is perhaps a new Christmas tradition that we will continue in our new home.

The wrath of those nasty daycare illnesses

One parents experience 

These past two weeks our household went through a variety of illnesses- pink eye, ear infection, gastrointestinal virus, and pneumonia to name a few.   It got so bad to the point that our youngest was admitted to hospital due to severe pneumonia.  Thankfully, we got there on time and things are on the mend now.  These past two weeks have been extremely challenging on us.  Having my youngest son in hospital triggered so many memories of my oldest’s time in the NICU.  It is awful to see your child in pain and as parents, all we wanted to do was to take it away and make him feel better.   However, thanks to an amazing paediatrician who sent us to hospital and a great support system at home, we got back on track.  As soon as we got admitted, my son was hooked up to an IV and things started to get better.  As quickly as his pneumonia came, it also quickly started to disappear when the antibiotics started to take it’s course.

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As soon as October comes around, we try to “mentally” prepare for another brutal cold and flu season.  You would think that after a few years of being in daycare we would be better prepared, or immune to say the least. We prepare as best as we can:  giving our kids proper nutrition, and taking daily multivitamins.  We practice good hand-washing and hygiene at home and put the kids to bed early.  We even get the flu shot yearly, as my oldest was preemie and his immune system was compromised for a while.   However, when your child is in daycare, they catch different bugs, no matter how well-prepared you are.  Research has shown that children get sick on average of 8 to 12 times a year, at an average of 10 days per illness.   So in laymen’s terms that means that they are pretty much sick for 6 months of the year!

Last year we thought we experienced it all- hand, food and mouth disease, strep and so on.  We were hopeful that their tiny bodies developed a better immune system for this upcoming cold and flu season, but boy were we wrong!  

It started with my youngest developing an upper respiratory virus and was at home for 7 days; then my oldest and I had a gastrointestinal bug for a few days.  Then my husband caught a nasty virus and eye infection.  Then my oldest got sick again with fever which ended up being bronchitis and an ear infection.   Then my youngest developed pneumonia and in less than 24 hours he was in hospital.   It was an awful feeling but we got to the right place at the right time, and here we are, on the mend, all healthier and happier.

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Although it was challenging, as my husband was on call and I was trying to manage things at work, we were able to work things out.  When your child, or children get sick, my advice is as follows:

Have a support system in place:  
I was fortunate enough to be granted time off from work to watch my kids. We also had lots of help from my in-laws.  I am grateful to have a good support system around when times like this happen and that’s important, especially when your little ones get sick.   Have an emergency list at home of family and friends who are available to help when your child gets sick; especially if you have more than one child at home.  It’s nice to have someone available to help run out and grab some groceries or watch one of your children at home if you have to take one to the doctor’s office or hospital.

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Proper nutrition and sleep:
This is key- any person, let alone a child, is healthier when they eat and sleep well.  Try and encourage good eating habits at home and set a bedtime routine.   I also stock up on homemade chicken soup and keep some broth in the freezer in the event a fever is brewing as it has lots of nutrients.   Not only is good nutrition and sleep good for children, but it’s  beneficial for you as well.  I got sick a lot last year because I was not sleeping enough, despite eating well and exercising regularly.  Some things like laundry just have to take the back burner because sleep is more important.  Research backs that up!

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Keep a list
Keep a list of important phone numbers such as your family doctor (or child’s paediatrician) handy in the event you need to make an appointment for a sudden illness.     I have our doctor’s office phone number stored in my phonebook and also in my Outlook.  Know where your nearest urgent care centre, walk-in clinic or hospital is if you have an emergency.   Also keep handy a list of important phone numbers such as family members, friends, or neighbours in the event an emergency takes place.  

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Practice good hygiene 
This is common sense, but good hand washing and sanitizing will prevent the spreading of illnesses.  If you are sick, stay home from work or school as illness can spread easily.   I also like to wash linens and towels weekly.

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In a cruel way, it’s ironic that a respirologist’s family all developed pulmonary illnesses, including himself.  However, we survived.  We hope this is the end of those nasty daycare illnesses….for now.



For the love of coffee: A look at Commonwealth Coffee Company

This past week I’ve been in London, Ontario for work. During my down time, I’ve been going around town, checking out the restaurant and cafe scene. I can’t help but notice that a lot of new restaurants and cafes have popped up. This is very positive for London. The city has been going through some major renovations, including road work throughout the downtown core. Fanshawe College’s renovation of the old Kingsmill department store is complete and boasts a state-of-the-art culinary school. South London has lots of new updates as well: including a modern, brand new YMCA and lots of commercial developments as you go down Wonderland Road South.

During my break, I came across Commonwealth Coffee Company by fluke. I was greeted by a sign that read “coffee is always a good idea.” I knew I had to pop in.


When I walked inside Commonwealth Coffee Company, I was pleasantly surprised! This place is tres chic and sadly my pictures don’t do this place justice. The staff was super friendly and made my cappuccino just right. The staff advised me that the cafe opened up about a year ago.


I could have easily spent my whole afternoon here. This seems like a great place to get together with a girlfriend or to go on a date. In addition, this place would have been an ideal location for working on my blog. There are definitely lots of reasons to come back here! In a city that boasts amazing coffee houses- Fireroasters and Black Walnut to name a few, Commonwealth Coffee Company definetly adds some flair to the mix!