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Our First Mini Break as a Trio: What We Brought & How it Went

For our family, October is a great month of celebrations, Its George’s birthday month & our wedding anniversary too. We hit the 3-month milestone with our baby in October so we decided to celebrate all of these great events by going on a mini holiday. We wanted our first trip to be easy and as stress-free as possible. That meant no aeroplanes or long car journeys.

One of our favourite places to visit is Vancouver Island, we love it! We would usually go camping & hiking on the island but with the time of year and with a 3-month-old we decided to stay in a nice hotel instead. Victoria is such a great city. We visited during Easter this year for an extended long weekend. We also have friends in Victoria which is another reason why we love to visit there.

The journey from our home in Kitsilano to our hotel in Victoria took about 5 hours total travel time. This includes waiting for ferry. The drive to the ferry in Tsawwassen was about 40 min, the ferry ride is under 2 hours and the drive from the ferry to the hotel was about 35 minutes. This was enough driving for us as our baby was never keen on car journeys from day one.

The week before we left for our trip, we tried giving her a soother for the car…it worked, she didn’t cry for the whole journey. Previous to that she would last all of 5 minutes until she got bored and screamed the house down until I took her out of the car seat. This was the first time we used the soother and it has been a great tool since.

The journey overall was stress-free and the baby was so well behaved. It helped we could get out of the car and walk around on the ferry. There were great family changing rooms and quiet areas on the ferry too. Baby slept on me for part of the ferry ride both ways. We had a muslin blanket and some of her favourite toys for the ferry ride. She laid down on a seat and she played with her toys. This also helped to tire her out;-)

We tried to bring as little as possible with us and it worked. We believe we brought the essential items and we used everything we packed. We had a carry-on suitcase for baby’s essentials, diaper bag & a stroller. In the suitcase we packed:

  1. Diapers (we usually use reusable diapers but for the trip, we brought decomposable diapers instead)
  2. Wipes (We usually use reusable but for the trip we brought disposables)
  3. 6 tops
  4. 4 pants
  5. 2 sweaters
  6. 2 pairs of socks
  7. 1 pair of soft shoes
  8. 10 spit clots
  9. 2 soothers
  10. 2 warm blankets for walks & naps
  11. Her favourite toys (to have for the ferry ride and playtime in hotel)

We asked the hotel to have a crib in the room for us, we were a bit nervous she might want her own crib but she slept fine. It may have helped that we brought her blankets. Usually, in the morning, our baby likes to sit in her chair, instead of bringing her chair we propped her up on pillows at the same angle or sat her in her stroller upright. These were great alternatives than having to bring her chair.

Regarding food, our baby is breastfed, so we didn’t need additional items for that, just Mum;-)

Overall the trip was great, we ordered room service for food as it was easier to entertain baby in the room than trying to do it in the restaurant, we went for strolls around her nap times and went to the pool for the first time as a trio. Easy, stress-free & fun.

The one thing we would do differently next time is that we would get a hotel room with two rooms as when the baby napped we had to be super quiet…..she also likes white noise which really gets to me after 10 minutes;-) I think air b&b would be cool the next time in a 2 bedroom apartment and we would bring food & a travel crib.

We enjoyed our first holiday so much and were delighted that babe adjusted no problem to the different space & the car journeys went well.

Now that we have the first trip down and it was a success, we are excited about our big trip in December when we go back to Ireland for 6 weeks. So, looking forward to it & we feel much more confident about the journey now. I’m travelling solo with babe on the way back so fingers crossed it all goes well.

That’s it for another week.

Have a lovely week & we will chat soon.

 

Theresa xx

 

Using Things Up: Declutter Your Life

Over the past 3 years our purchasing of consumable goods has decreased dramatically. In the past I loved buying skincare, make-up & haircare products. I was attracted to the next shiny “must have” cream, spray, lotion….. The old items would be pushed to the back of the cupboard, out of sight & would sit there for months/years. Resulting in a bathroom cabinet full of stuff, 90% of which were not being used.

Since we started reducing our waste & simplifying our lifestyle we ensure we use up every last bit of product we buy. We don’t want items sitting in our cupboards for months or even years. As you know we live in a small 1-bedroom apartment so space is limited. In addition, we don’t want all the space filled with things, empty space is so calming.

We are finally getting to a stage that we have used up most items in our bathroom cupboard & are left with the items we use regularly. We have given some of the lotions to neighbours & have used up the other products ourselves. It feels so satisfying to completely use up a lotion. We cut the bottle in half to scrape out every last bit. No wasters in our home;-)

The idea of buying something to use for a special occasion no longer is an option. I would buy an expensive lipstick or candle and only use for a special night! Life is too short for that! No more red lipsticks though….1 is enough;-)

My make-up and skincare routine have been simplified. I know the products I love & I use every last bit before I repurchase. Simplifying these areas of my life has been great, I have less decisions to make every morning as nothing changes, I’m ok with that. Too many options for me is a bad thing. Keep it simple. Id rather save my brain cells for other more important areas in my life.

Decluttering our life has made a huge impact on how much space we have in our home & has saved us lots of money. We purchase what we need. Often we purchase items which are multipurpose like castile soap & bread soda, the only cleaning agents you need. I should also mention coconut oil as we use it for cooking & for skincare.

One area that I need to address next is the box of travel size lotions & potions I have collected over the years from hotels & travelling. These need a new home & we need to start using them up. That is one of my new habits is not to take the travel size toiletries from the hotel! I never use them and they are super wasteful.

Have a look in your cupboards & see if there are items which have the same function, try using the old one up first & promise not to impulse buy again. It takes time but the money & space you will save will be worth it. Put the money towards a holiday or dinner with friends instead. The best of luck with the decluttering.

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxx

 

 

Immigration And What It Means To Become A Canadian Citizen

Irish people have been leaving our island for hundreds of years, with millions having fled, starving from the famine in the 1800s.

Some, myself included, credit Saint Brendan the Navigator with discovering the New World a few hundred years before the vikings landed in Canada in the 11th century.

In the mid 2000s Ireland was booming and the Celtic Tiger was alive and well, devouring the housing market and everything else it could get its hands on. The city-scape of Dublin boasted tower cranes everywhere reaching to the sky like the nation itself reaching for heights it had never seen before.

Then sadly, it all fell apart. Leaving the country was necessary for me, as there was no work to be found in construction at the time. Many stayed and found jobs but many like me left.

On October 31, 2010 Theresa and I said goodbye to my cousin Wilim at Dublin airport and boarded a flight to Vancouver, Canada, not realizing that it would be two years before we saw family again.

The change was though, Vancouver is an expensive City and with no jobs we were running out of money fast but we both managed to find work and eventually, after literally years, began to establish ourselves.

Little did we know when we set foot in that first short term rental apartment on Victoria Drive that nine years later we would still be here, Canadian citizens with a Canadian baby.

Naoise is every bit as Irish as myself or Theresa, there is no changing blood and the blood that runs in her veins is Irish but I am also very proud of the fact that as much as she is Irish, she is equally Canadian, being born in British Columbia. She is a symbol of a new life and of new beginnings for many Irish families who are now raising young children in Vancouver. I know of at least three other young Irish parents in Kitsilano alone who are settled here and starting to raise a family.

It goes without saying that the most difficult part of living in a different country is not seeing your family. Naoise was lucky enough to meet her Granny (Theresa’s mother) when she visited and she will meet her Grandads, Uncles, Aunts and cousins when we visit home at Christmas but she never met my mother, which makes me sad. That is not a factor of immigration, simply timing.

I remember the only Christmas I visited home, at the end of the holiday, Theresa and I left my house to travel back. My mother could not get out of bed to say good bye. We did not know she was dying but we both felt something, a deep sense of loss as we walked out the door. She died within three weeks and we were lucky enough to make it back for the last week.

We have, as Irish people been immigrating for centuries and I was humbled during the swearing in ceremony to be among 76 people from 28 different countries. It was an emotional day for us but we cannot understand the hardship some people have had to endure to come to a moment like this and we must be forever grateful for the rewards this great nation has given us.

Having visited Ireland Park in Toronto and seen the haunted faced of the statues representing the people who stepped off the coffin ships it truly hits home how lucky we are to be here and to have had such an easy journey to this point.

For a long time I wrestled with the notion of swearing an oath of allegiance to the English Monarch. Please do not be offended, I simply want to state that it was something I had to deeply consider. It went against my history and heritage but I decided that Citizenship was more important that past transgressions.

On further consideration I realized the importance of committing to the oath I would swear and taking it with meaning and intention. It would be an insult to the Monarch, the country, the ceremony and to the other people who were there that day not to give my full commitment.

I affirmed my allegiance and meant every word. From that day on I will respect and love the Monarch I am sworn to and if that makes me any less Irish than so be it but I do not believe so. We live in different times now and we must embrace one-another as friends or we cannot move forward as a nation, English, Irish or Canadian or as a race for that matter.

Becoming a Canadian Citizen is among the four most important milestones of my life. I am humbled by the friends both Canadian and fellow immigrants that we have made here and that have strengthened us over the years through difficult times.

I am proud that my family can stand with two great nations, Ireland and Canada.

Thank you for reading.

George

How to Care for Your Clothes & Extend the Life of your Wardrobe

For the past few years George & myself have been reducing the amount of clothing we purchase. We are consciously making an effort to take care of our current wardrobe so it last for years. There are several steps we are taking to help extend the life of our clothes.

  1. Read the care instructions on clothing labels

Become familiar with the fabrics your clothes are made from & how to take care of these fabrics. Look at the tags on the inside of each garment. Wash & iron accordingly. Use gentle laundry detergent, avoid all chemicals by making your own. Simply mix castile soap, borax & water. We use this for our clothes & it works perfectly.

  1. Do not put your clothes in the drier, air dry instead

We rarely use the drier to dry our clothes. The drier is harsh on clothing, it can misshape & shrink your clothes too. To extend the life of your garments avoid the drier. We like to hang our clothes on a clothes horse which we place in our bedroom. Our clothes dry within 24 hours.

  1. Iron, fold & hang your clothes

Ironing your garments according to the care label or material will keep the shape & style of your clothes. Compare a ironed shirt to an non-ironed shirt, it’s a much more polished & put together look. You will want to wear your clothes when you go to the effort of ironing them as they look brand new. After ironing make sure to hang or fold your clothes properly. Get hangers to fit your clothes & fold all knits so they wont loose their shape. Create enough of space in your wardrobe so your clothes can breathe. Donate or sell clothes you do not wear to create space. Have your closet looking like a boutique rather than a jammed packed thrift store. Not only is space good for the clothes, you will be able to see what’s in your closet too.

  1. Remove stains, mend & repair clothes & shoes

Don’t let stains sit on your clothes for days. Spot clean the stain immediately by using soap & water. If laundry day is not for a couple of days ensure to clean the stain well and maybe leave soaking overnight in soap & water. For tougher stains apply a more heavy-duty stain remover. Mend any missing buttons & tears in your clothing. Learn how to sew & repair tears. Practice is all it takes & maybe a few YouTube videos if you are like me 😉 Bring your shoes & boots to the cobbler for repair. The cobbler will extend the life of your favourite shoes & boots. Ensure to check all clothing & shoes at the end of each season before storing clothes away for any repairs that need to be done. Complete all repairs before putting your garments into storage.

  1. Wash your clothing less

We tend to wash our clothes too much. Items like jeans and knits don’t need to be washed after each time you wear them. Freshen them up by hanging them outside in the fresh air or in the bathroom after a hot bath or shower. You will see that the jeans & knits will last so much longer.

  1. Store your seasonal clothes away at the end of each season

Find yourself some large vacuum zip lock bags or under the bed storage boxes from Ikea to store seasonal clothes away. Fold all the clothes nicely, ensure they are all clean & repairs mended before storing. Wipe down all shoes and store them in shoe bags with your seasonal garments. Before I store away large knits that I wore for a couple of seasons I will bring them to the dry cleaners so they are fresh for the following year. For large coats I will also dry clean but leave hanging in the coat closet with a protector cover over them. Removing seasonal clothes from your closet will create space & keep your closet current with fresh new styles. #shopyourcloset.

  1. Buy quality garments made from natural fibres

When purchasing clothes pre-loved or new ensure the quality is there before buying. Ask yourself if this garment will look good after 3 washes? What material is it made from? Does it have to be dry cleaned? (personally, I stay away from these) The materials we like to buy are cotton, wool, silk, hemp & leather. We find these materials last the best and are easiest to take care of.

These are our top tips for extending the life of your wardrobe. Remember quality over quantity, look for pre-loved clothing made from natural fibres & avoid trends so that we will have a timeless wardrobe that will last a life time. For more insights into clothing care & the capsule wardrobe check out uselessdk.com, Signe has loads of great tips;-)

Thanks so much for reading,

Chat soon,

Theresa xxxx

 

 

 

Worry – Is Your Free Time Being Hijacked?

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night thinking of something you should have done at work or something you missed? It’s human nature, it’s just a pity these damn thoughts pop unto our heads when we’re trying to have a good night’s sleep or enjoy our weekend.

I will often be at home, on a hiking trail or in a yoga class and an unwanted thought rudely invades my headspace. It could be work, it could be something else. It lurks around in the back of my mind, waiting for a time to pounce, just before I get too comfortable, then it jumps out and starts demanding my attention.

Obligingly, I take the bait and start worrying as I am expected to. There is so much out of our control, or more accurately out of our control at this time, right now. If we cannot deal with the issue that’s taken up residence in our headspace there and then, we can kindly ask it to leave.

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.

We can catch these thoughts and save them for later. If its work related I generally send myself an email, so there is a reminder sitting waiting for me when I get in. Otherwise, I make a note or if I’m driving, I ask Siri to set a reminder or send an email.

Unwanted thoughts don’t have to hijack our headspace. We can save them for a suitable time and place to deal with them. When you are in a position that you will not forget what has come up it is easier to stop worrying about it.

It can be tricky to catch these thoughts, it comes with practice. Daily meditation is so important. Start small and build up but be consistent, even if it is only a few minutes a day, eventually, you will become more aware of your thoughts and your state of mind when you’re not at ease. (See the end of the page for some of our previous blogs on meditation)

Meditation and concentration are the way to a life of serenity.

What if it doesn’t go away? When you affirm something, your brain listens to you. I often tell myself, “I don’t need to think about that right now.” My brain listens to me and I can dismiss the thought. It may keep popping back into my mind, especially if it is something troubling but repeat, repeat, repeat.

Your unconsciousness is not the one in charge, you are. You do not have to take all the suggestions the unconscious mind throws at you.

Beware of the procrastination bug also, you can only tell yourself “I don’t need to think about that right now,” so many times before it’s effectiveness will fadeThe defences against worry and preoccupation breakdown. Acknowledge whatever it is that’s bothering you and set aside dedicated time in the future to think about it. If you can do something about it there and then, it is best to act rather than defer but it depends on the situation. If a professional item pops up when you’re in the middle of family time you’re not going to drop everything.

If you can’t act on it or chose not to for a good reason, set something in place to remind yourself and tell yourself that you do not need to think about that right now. After time and practice, you will start to catch your uninvited worries sooner and more often.

The future can be a source of anxiety and stress and it is something we must think about and make decisions about but I believe in deliberate thought rather than background worry which in the long run will only add wrinkles to your face and grey to your hair. Allow yourself to set the worries aside for the right time.

Peace,

George

Further Reading:

Meditation Challenge: 40 Day Sadhana “Your Habits Define You”

A Daily Meditation Practice: Make It Work For You

Meditation: It Takes Two Minutes