Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Website/Blog

Okay, it's official.

I finally have a new website!

I can't believe how much there is to learn when it comes to a WordPress website! I am such an amateur, and all of this tech-stuff is so confusing, but at last, the initial set-up is complete. Over the next while I'm going to be playing around with the design and layout as I learn more about how to. 

But I'm excited to get back to blogging regularly and so here is my new site!



Please take the time to check it out!

Thank you very much, 
Cole

Thursday, November 7, 2013

1 Year Blogiversary and Big News!



Today is my 1 year blogiversary!

I had originally planned to throw a giveaway today, but I am in the process of transferring my blog and have decided it would make more sense to wait until it's completed. 

Since this gives me a little bit more time to figure out what a great giveaway prize would be, I would appreciate any suggestions you may have!

What would you be interested in?

Thanks,
Cole

P.S. - Winner of the $25 Target GiftCard has been drawn. Congratulations to Lisa Brown!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

15 Easy Ways to Help Your Child Learn at Home



Sidney brought home her first Report Card for the year.

I've always been really hard on myself when it comes to school. Anything below a 90% is a disappointment in my eyes. So it's kind of difficult to not beat myself up over Sidney's Progress Report Card (which is different than a regular Provincial Report Card).

Not that I have much to be disappointed about. A lot of G's for good and an E for excellent. 

But I can't help but wonder if I had spent more time with Sidney on her school work if she could have done better? Isn't it my responsibility as a parent to help her succeed to the best of her abilities?

Luckily the point of the Progress Report Card is to show her progress for the beginning of the school year and point out what Sidney is doing good on and what we could work on.

Since Sidney got average marks, I suppose we could do a little bit of work on everything. So I started to think of different ways I can help Sid learn at home and this is what I came up with.

15 Activities to Encourage Learning


Reading:

1. Weekly library visits! We are more likely to read every night when we have new books to read. Even with Sidney's growing book collection, it gets dull and not nearly as exciting.

2. Get to bed earlier! Some nights when we're pressed for time and are simply too tired to read, we will skip it altogether.

3. Select books for her age. If a book is too difficult, Sid gets frustrated. If it's too easy, she's not learning anything. I find it's a good idea for her to test a page or two at the library or book store before taking the book home.

Writing:

1. Don't rush! Sidney often rushes through things and when it comes to writing, she gets sloppy. It's important to get her to slow down and put more effort into the neatness, and the proper spelling.

2. Activity books! These are awesome. They cost a dollar, they have Disney princesses on them and she has fun working out of them.

3. Journals and notebooks! I've been journalling all my life, and just this year Sidney started, too. I tried to make it a nightly ritual, but I found it too difficult to make her to do it every night and it took the fun out of it. Instead, I encourage her to write in it when she has something really awesome to say about her day and it helps her with her writing

Math:

1. Again, activity books! Cheap, fun and you can select which level to buy. Sidney gets the grade 1 level which has simple addition and subtraction that she can almost do by herself with a little bit of help.

2. Computer games! There are a ton of free games online that help with adding, subtracting, graphs and everything else. Plus, it helps Sidney learn how to use a computer which is super important in today's society.

3. Add it into every day activities! Math is one of those subjects that many people don't really enjoy, but when your children are still young and doing simple math equations (that you can still understand) it's easy to incorporate it into every day activities. For example, you can count toys as you tidy up. You can add your food, "I have three carrots and five apple slices. That equals 8!" Sidney actually enjoys that one. 

Visual Arts:

1. Don't just doodle! Doodling is fun, but it's not challenging. I find that when I give Sidney a task, or a specific thing to draw like a giraffe, or a portrait of me, she concentrates more and does a better job.

2. Get creative! Being creative is a huge part of visual arts and children are still naturally very creative (or at least the ones I've been around are). Get out your craft supplies; pipe cleaners, googly eyes, buttons, stickers, construction paper, glue, scissors, recycled toilet paper rolls, dry beans, whatever you have around, and go crazy! Create macaroni sculptures, make a birdhouse out of Popsicle sticks, or use things from nature to create a landscape picture by gluing things like leaves, grass and twigs onto cardboard. Help your child think out of the box!

3.  Take your time! Sidney seems to rush through things, so I've really had to help her slow down, enjoy the process and to put effort into her artwork.This way she can think of how she wants to do things, and we can discuss why she chose to do it that way to help her understand her own art better.

Other Things:

1. Kitchen science expirements are a lot of fun for kids. Something as simple as cornstarch, water and food dye is a great way to explain solids and liquids while having fun.

2. Getting outside to play really helps with physical activity, balance, coordination, health, etc. Go to the park, bring a Frisbee or a soccer ball, get on the jungle gym, play tag, or whatever else you like to do. Sidney's favourite activity at the park is going on the swings.

3. A few other things we need to work on as a family is to keep things neat and tidy at home. To help her organize her desk and toys, to teach her to clean up after herself and to enjoy it.

I need to encourage her curiosity, help her explore the world around her, to try new things, to look for new opportunities and experiences. Children are really amazing. It blows my mind how much she wants to learn, and by tweaking little things here and there throughout the day it can really help her grow.

What are some things you do at home to help your children learn?

Thanks, 
Cole

Monday, November 4, 2013

Accepting Your Parenting Style

Everyone is different. We all have our special talents, our likes and dislikes, personalities and behaviours. Nobody was raised the same way. Not even my sisters and I. We all have different backgrounds and histories. We all have different DNA. Our minds, our thoughts, the way we think, are different too.

Sometimes I have a difficult time remembering this. I judge myself too harshly. I criticize myself more than I should. I want to be a better person and a better parent becuase I see how other people raise their children and I assume I must be doing something wrong.

But the truth is, there isn't just one way to parent your children. There really is no one right way. 

I don't necessarily enjoy sitting down to play dolls. I get irritated whenever I let Sidney help me in the kitchen. I hate messy crafts.

It's true that there are many things I don't like to do and I used to think that it made me a bad parent. That a good parent would just suck it up and do it anyway. 

But there are other things that I do enjoy! I enjoy watching movies with her, particularly nature documentaries. I like going for long walks outside. Visiting the market, the library, vintage shopping. I don't care for messy crafts, but I like to sit and draw with her.

And I noticed that when we do activities we both enjoy, it's a lot more fun than when I force myself to do activities I don't. And that Sidney has other people in her life who do enjoy doing those things.

Other times I feel like I let her eat too much junk food, stay up too late on weekends, I don't discipline her enough when she starts misbehaving. 

I'm guilty of all of these things, but I try my best to offer her a variety of healthy foods. Throughout the week she has a strict bedtime that we stick to. And maybe I am fairly lenient when it comes to discipline, but Sidney doesn't act up too much anyway. Or at least in my opinion, I'm sure my sisters and mom might say otherwise.

I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I'm not perfect. I'm going to make mistakes. But more importantly, I'm learning that I'm actually doing okay. I might not be the best mom, but I'm a pretty good one (even if I do have to put myself on time-outs now and then).

Do you criticize and judge yourself on certain things?

Thanks,
Cole

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Life Makeover - November



I feel like I set myself achievable goals for the month of October, and yet I don't necessarily feel like I've done a very good job at achieving them. I suppose I could blame it on my heavy school load this month, but that doesn't really feel right either. I think I just didn't pay enough attention to my goals.

What I feel good about:

I like to think I did more fun activities with Sidney this month. Our evening routine is still going well, and adding fun activities to our schedule has made our days more enjoyable. We like to do a lot of drawing, we play board games and watch Halloween movies. We got outdoors a few times, we went shopping a couple of times and Sidney got to spend a lot of time with other family members.

And Sid's party was a success! It was exhausting but a lot of fun.

I spent time with my family a bit more this month than in September. Sidney loves going over to play with her cousins, and I get to relax and hangout with my sisters and mom. It's relaxing at their house and I'm not sure why I didn't make time to go over there before.

Big Fail:

I haven't been eating breakfast every day. It's a hit or miss really.

And I didn't get any filing done.

I'm Okay With It:

Other than splurging on Sidney's birthday party, I really didn't spend any money on myself. I did have to pay a big chunk of money on my car which was quite unfortunate and took a big dent out of my bank account, but what can you do?

I managed to apply for a few awards and bursaries. There are still some others I can apply for this month. My assignments are all getting handed in on time, I haven't been missing any classes but I am still procrastinating a lot of my assignments.

November Goals:

1. Health: I need to start eating a healthy breakfast in the mornings! But this month I also want to start eating healthier in general. I need to spend more time on planning healthy meals and snacks and to cook more from scratch. I hate cooking and lately I've been making a lot of processed foods. Not very good, I know!

2. Parenthood: Our evenings are going smoother than before. We're making an effort to go out and have more fun. What I could really work on this month is to sit down with Sidney and help her with homework more often. She doesn't get very much homework, and we always get it handed in on time, but I buy activity books for Sidney to help her with spelling and math equations that I would like to spend more time on. And we should be reading more, too.

3. Relationships: This month I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for the Self-Love Book Club and there were a lot of really great ideas in there. For example, Remember Birthdays! This month I would love to email everyone I know to get their contact information and birthdays so that I can send out Christmas cards and wish my friends and family a happy birthday every year. I think it's such a great idea because I know how much I love receiving Christmas cards and birthday wishes.

4 Home: Since my filing goal last month was a huge fail I need to work on that this month. Problem is, I never learned how to properly do it. So, I'm going to have to do some research or even ask my mom for help and get it done! I think having a proper filing system in place will keep me much more organized and I can pay my bills on time.

5. Money: Continue to look for work. Find ways to make money. I need to replenish my bank account after that car incident which ate up so much money. Also, I need to call the bank and figure out my car payments because the place where I had my car loan was sold to another bank and I still haven't got that taken care of.

6. School: School is going well. Some classes more so than others. One thing I could work on top of my goal to stop procrastinating, is to pay more attention in class and take better notes. Every classroom has a giant Mac computer on every desk and I often find myself on Facebook and Twitter.

Overall, October was a fantastic month! Some things didn't get accomplished, but the ones that did were worth the tiny bit of extra effort. Now that it is November, and Christmas is coming up, there is going to be a lot of things to juggle. But in the end, it's all worth it!

How did the month go for you? Did you manage to accomplish any goals this October?

Thanks, 
Cole

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Daughter Turns Six!



Six years ago I spent devil's night in the hospital watching Halloween 3 on repeat.

An irrelevant little fact, but one that remains clear in my mind.

On Halloween in 2007 I gave birth to my daughter Sidney. It's crazy how fast time goes by. Looking back on everything I've done and gone through as a young parent and watching Sidney grow into this beautiful, smart and creative little girl makes me extremely happy.

So, today I just want to send out a big Happy Birthday to my little girl, who growing way too fast!

And to wish everyone else a Happy Halloween!

Thanks, 
Cole

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Self-Love Book Club - The Happiness Project


I have heard many great things about this book and was extremely excited to read it!

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is inspirational and motivating. It offers many terrific ideas and ways to introduce more happiness into your every day life. While some of her goals obviously don't match up to my life, many of them can be altered to better suit my needs.

One nice thing about her Happiness Project is that some of the changes are so small, yet have such a big impact. For example, hugging her husband more to help relieve stress and tension while boosting feelings of closeness. Or even remembering birthdays and taking the time to send short emails to wish friends and family a happy birthday. When you think about it, it's a small gesture but I know that I personally love when people remember my birthday. It makes me feel special.

Sometimes I often wondered how she managed to fit so many tasks into her daily life. All of her different clubs and organizations, making time for projects and new hobbies, added exercise, blogging every day, on top of work and raising a family. It seems so overwhelming.

One thing I've learnt by myself is that you never know what you are capable of until you try. I assume that if I were to design my own year-long Happiness Project, that adding new things to my schedule and workload gradually could actually work out.

All in all, this was a great book. It got me thinking about my own life and the different things I could work on to make myself happier.

For example, near the beginning of the book Gretchen wrote that she needed to take the time to figure out what made her happy, what she was truly interested in and who she really is, in order to design a plan that will actually work.

I think that is a really good idea, and so I've begun to ponder my own likes and interests to figure out what will make me happier.

I also liked that she decided to do this project not in a time of stress or grief, but during a time when she felt she was already happy. It just goes to show that you can begin your own Happiness Project at any point in your life. Gretchen also talked about how she felt guilty sometimes, like she didn't have the right to complain when she already had it so good - loving family, dream career, caring husband, enough money, comfortable home, etc. - but she felt that it would be easier to try and be happier before a crisis struck, so when/if one did she would be better prepared to handle it. Which is a really fantastic way to look at it.

This is a terrific book and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to find ways to bring more happiness into their own lives.

Have you read this book? What makes you happy?

Thanks,
Cole

Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Wishes #9 - Stop Procrastinating!



Last week, and the week before, I really want to purchase a new backpack. Unfortunately, I am a very picky person when it comes to bags apparently! So, this will have to be an ongoing goal until I know I've found the perfect one for me.

This week's goal is to STOP PROCRASTINATING!

I realize this goal is pretty vague, but I am seriously so bad at this and I think that if I make a conscious effort to do things ahead of time instead of last minute, I might actually do it.

I've noticed there are several reasons I procrastinate. And here they are:

Last Minute Preparations:
I think I have lots of time to do things, so I hold off from doing it because other things seem more urgent. Next thing I know, it's only a day away and I'm not at all prepared.

For example: I have a test tomorrow in my Law and Ethics class. Normally I study on the bus to school in the mornings and I've been getting 96% repeatedly. However, last week I only got 88% and so I've decided I should probably be studying more. Obviously these grades are pretty good, but I know I am not putting as much effort into it as I could be by waiting until last minute. Maybe I will study tonight?

Wanting It To Be Perfect:
There are times I want things to be perfect and I have a difficult time starting. And then I realize I've held off for so long that I don't have any time left and have to rush. If I just got rid of the idea of things being perfect I would be able to start sooner and the end result would no doubt be better.

Example: I have an interview with Tara Jefferson from theyoungmommylife.com tomorrow evening for a class assignment, and I've been struggling to come up with good questions. My quest for having perfect questions is keeping me from starting and now I only have one day left.

Unorganized And Poor Time Management:
Other times I just completely forget about things because I don't keep track of my planner, or check my calendar regularly. Then when I do remember, it's usually right before! Why do I always remember last minute?

Example: Sidney had picture day last week. Normally I get her all dolled up that day but I completely forgot and so I sent her to school in her regular clothes. I didn't remember until we were already there and she was pretty disappointed that she wasn't wearing a fancy dress. Bad mom moment. This could have clearly been avoided if I only looked at my calendar the night before or even the morning of!
If I really want to accomplish this goal this week, I'm going to have to keep these three things in mind.

I also need to finish The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and write my review on it this week. I've been really taking my time on this book and I still have more than a hundred pages to read! I hope I can finish it on time.

The Nectar Collective

Do you have similar problems? How do you work around it?

Thanks,
Cole

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Passion for Your Program is More Important Than Grades


It's just past mid-term now. I can't believe how fast time flies when you're having fun! And no, I'm not being sarcastic.
 
When I first got accepted into the journalism program, after the excitement of actually getting accepted passed, I started to worry that I made a mistake. I started to doubt my decision. After all, journalists have to talk to people day in and day out, and I've never been all that comfortable approaching people.
 
In the second week, when we finally started handing in assignments, my first grade was a 60 per cent. It was on a hard lede we had to write as our first assignment in Newswriting. Seeing such a lousy grade made me think that I had made a mistake, that I was too stupid for college and I should just give up while I could still get a refund (like I've mentioned before, I'm a pessimist by nature).
 
Obviously I didn't quit. Instead I put more effort into my next assignment and got 100 per cent.
 
The truth is, college isn't easy but it isn't nearly as difficult as I had feared either.
 
But more importantly than my intelligent or skill level, is my passion.
 
I never knew I could like something so much before. I'm excited to go to school every day, and while I don't enjoy some classes as much as others, I appreciate what I'm learning and know it will be useful (ahem, Group Dynamics).

And so I've just recently noticed something. My friends and family aren't nearly as excited about journalism as I am! Can you believe that? Big surprise, eh? Unfortunately they don't seem to want to listen to me describe each class, and each lesson, and each assignment in detail.
 
At first I didn't even realize how much I talked about school. Until one day I was telling Nick about my day for a couple of hours, until he finally said in the nicest way possible that he wanted to change topics. I wasn't insulted or anything. A few years ago the tables were turned and I had to kindly inform Nick that I just couldn't listen to him talk about work any more.

That's not to say that the people in my life aren't supportive! Because each of them are in their own ways.

The point is, it was an eye opener.
 
I knew I enjoyed my classes but having someone point out that all I talk about is what I'm learning (even law!) must mean that I really love it. Good grades or bad (or really a mix of both), I know I made the right choice because it feels right.

Obviously aiming for high grades is extremely important as well. What I mean by this is that sometimes you might not get as good a mark as you had hoped, or you might not start out getting good grades right away. But if you have passion for your program you will want to study, to do the work and constantly seek new information which is bound to lead to amazing grades, amazing opportunities and an amazing life.

Have you ever gotten that feeling before? That you were doing what you were meant to do?

Thanks,
Cole

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Create a Vision Board - The How and Why



Learning to be grateful is like most things in life: It takes practice!

For some people it comes naturally. But for people who are like me, it doesn't.

Learning to develop an attitude of gratitude has many benefits though. That's why it's important to help train yourself to see how fortunate you are, and to think more positively. And for those of us who need to work at it, having visual aids does help.

What is a Visions Board?

It's a tool to help you visualize your hopes and dreams in a creative way, but it can also be used for inspiration and gratitude.

How to Make One:

1. A vision board can be on anything you want it to be. It can be a corkboard, your fridge, a poster board; anything you can attach images and words to. It can even be a digital collage used as your desktop background (I actually might try this!).

I decided to use a poster board. Poster boards are cheap to buy and I like cutting and pasting. It's a fun activity I can do with my daughter, too.

The important thing is that it works for you.

2. Next step is the fun part, finding images and words to put on your vision board! I like to flip through magazines to find interesting pictures and inspiring words. For example, I cut out a picture of a room I really liked, some flowers because I enjoy gardening and a woman in triangle pose on a beach. I also cut out words like "create," "embrace the day" and "balance is a beautiful thing" because I find them inspiring.

Vision boards are great to help give you inspiration, but they are also good to use to remind yourself to be grateful for what you have. For example, I plan on putting a picture of my family from Sidney's first birthday party on it. It's a great photo of everyone dressed up in Halloween costumes, laughing and smiling and every time I look at it I am so thankful for my family.

3. After finding your images and words, you get to put them up. And you don't have to fill your board up right away either.
 
I've arranged mine all on one side of my poster board and left lots of room to add more pictures later on. I'm curious to see how it's going to look once it's full and to see how my goals, ideas and objects of gratitude change over the next little while.
 
4. Hang it up where you can see it regularly! It doesn't make much sense to create a vision board if you never see it. I put mine up in my room by my dresser. Now every day when I go to grab clean clothes in the morning I will be greeted by happy, positive images and words that remind me to feel grateful.
 
Have you ever created a vision board? How did you make it, and what are some examples of what you put on it?
 
Thanks,
Cole

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wedding Party Planning Is Easy With Target + $25 Target GiftCard Giveaway



When I was growing up I never considered getting married.

Even now I don't know if I ever will.

The funny thing is, I actually love weddings. I think they are beautiful and romantic. And as one of my best friends from high school plans her very own special day, I can't help but mull it over in mind.

But while the wedding is obviously the favourite part of getting married for the lovely bride and groom (I would assume!), it's the bachelorette party I'm most looking forward to!

A bachelorette party is the perfect opportunity to get all the girls together and celebrate their friend's soon-to-be marriage. It can be a tame, quiet night in or a crazy, wild night out! Either way, I love partying with my girl friends!

While the soon-to-be bride and groom will have separate bachelor/ette parties, no doubt, I know that both of their personalities and tastes will shine through in the d├ęcor and surely in the gifts they receive! (Have you ever noticed that after being in a relationship for a long time, you soon develop similar tastes?)

When throwing a bachelorette party for the bride there are certain things to consider, and you're going to need to do some shopping!

Target literally has everything, so it makes complete sense to start there when party planning and gift shopping!

Whether your plans are to stay in and play games, or have a few pre-drinks before hitting the club, these Libbey Classic Martini Glasses might just come in handy! And no matter what kind of party you're throwing, there's going to be food and so you'll probably want this gorgeous Tiered Pedestal Plate to serve your guests in style.

There are so many great gifts you can buy from the Target Wedding Catalog, too. Like this fantastic SwissGear rolling suitcase, perfect for them to take on their honeymoon! Or a cozy comforter, like this Threshold Down Comforter, perfect for snuggling and er, sleeping! Or if you're like me, I'm sure you can understand the need for a great cup of coffee in the morning and so a Keurig might just make the perfect gift for the newlyweds!

Target has offered to give one lucky reader a $25 GiftCard! Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

All you have to do is browse Target Wedding Catalog and let me know what item you would use for a party or give as a gift in the comment section below! And don't forget, if you're planning a wedding be sure to check out the Target Wedding Registry. Seriously, people prefer when you do a gift registry, it takes the stress off of selecting a gift.

 Follow along with #TargetWedding for more Wedding fun!


Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target.

This is a sponsored post.


Thanks,
Cole

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekly Wishes #8 - Backpack Hunt Continues

Weekly Wishes is a link-up over at The Nectar Collective, where people share their goals and aspirations for the upcoming week, and discuss any challenges they may have faced. Feel free to check it out and link-up yours, too!

Backpacks:

I missed last week's Weekly Wishes. Mostly because I failed my goal of buying a backpack.

I did look for one in several different stores. I even almost bought one! But I have been having a difficult time finding one that I really like. It has to be large enough to fit my laptop in, and all of my textbooks and it has to be good quality, pretty and an affordable price. I know that I will continue to use this bag well after college so I don't mind investing a bit of money into it, but I do have a budget of $100. I might even be willing to go over a bit if I really like a certain backpack.
 
The only backpacks I have managed to find are either - large, ugly and expensive or small but pretty, good quality and affordable. Either way, none of the backpacks I have come across met all of my standards. It's important to me to only buy things I absolutely love.
 
Since shopping in stores has proven to be pointless I will continue this goal and begin shopping online!
 
And perhaps I need to consider different options. If I can't find a backpack large enough for my laptop and my books, maybe I need to start looking for a separate laptop carrier. However, I really don't want to be juggling too many bags. Why is this so difficult?
 
Backpacks I am considering:
 
13" x 17" laptop bag/ Light-coffee Canvas-Leather Backpack/ Canvas backpack/Handmade bag/School bag

 
Super Large Genuine Leather Backpack / Travelling Bag / Camping Bag / Messenger Bag / Crossbody in Classic Black
 
HALLOWEEN SALE - Purple Canvas Women Backpack, Rucksack, Satchels, Messenger, Shoulder Bag, Tote, Hobo, School Bag - ESSENTI
Kinies

Blogging:

I've been putting more effort into blogging and because of that, interesting opportunities are presenting themselves to me. I'm not going to elaborate on that statement until things are more finalized. However, I am really excited to be back to a regular blogging schedule and hope to keep it up!
 
Because I didn't manage to check off all of my goals from Weekly Wishes #7, I'm going to stick with them over the next week and I hope to have better news next Monday.

And I would love if I could get some feedbacks, comments or suggestions for my backpack dilemma! Only thing is, I want a backpack, not a messenger bag because it hurts my shoulder.

Did you manage to complete any goals lately? Tell me about it!

Thanks,
Cole

Friday, October 18, 2013

9 Favourite Fall Activities


One of my goals for the month of October was to do more fun activities with Sidney.

The great thing about autumn is that there is so much to do, both indoors and outdoors.
 
1. Apple Picking
 
My mom and I took the girls apple picking over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Autumn is the perfect time of year to do it. Many different apples are in season this time of year and the weather is perfect for being outdoors. Plus, the kids just love being able to run around outside.

2. Nature Walks
Autumn is a lovely time of year, especially here in Cambridge. There are many walking trails and parks to explore. The leaves are all changing colours to bright shades or red, orange and yellow and the crisp air allows you to comfortably wear a cozy sweater as you explore the outdoors.
 
3. Halloween Activities
In my personal opinion Halloween is probably one of the most fun holidays for both children and adults. Sure there's Christmas, but Halloween comes and goes without all the added stress that Christmas usually brings along with it's joyous festivities. In October you get to enjoy costume parties, pumpkin carving, haunted houses, and other fun and spooky activities. And you can't forget Halloween night! Trick-or-treating!
 
4. Crafts
The weather in autumn can be tricky. Some days will be warm and sunny, while other days will be cool and rainy. On those rainy days it's always a lot of fun to pull out the craft bin and get creative! And sometimes, get messy, too! And don't forget to incorporate the fall theme into your artwork with leaves, pinecones, Halloween crafts and colouring pages!
 
5. Baking
Everyone loves fresh baked goods! Apple pie, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin muffins! And don't forget to bake your pumpkin seeds, either with salt or brown sugar.
 
6. Visit a Farm
In the fall many farms will be open to families with corn mazes, petting zoos, hayrides and more. They will often have apple cider, candy apples and other goodies out for sale to munch on while you're visiting, too. I know Sidney absolutely loves going out to farms this time of year.
 
7. Scavenger Hunt
Getting outdoors as a family is important. It gets you away from the TV, the cleaning, the stress of errands, school and work. There's something peaceful about being outdoors, but sometimes it's fun to have an activity planned like a scavenger hunt. There are many things in the fall to look for such as different types of leaves, mushrooms, pinecones, lady bugs, crickets, etc.
 
8. Bonfires
Campfires seem like something to do in the summer, but they are actually really fun in the fall! Get all cozy in your sweaters, scarves and hats and creep up close (but not too close) to the fire to keep warm as you roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories. Well, maybe not ghost stories for children but I'm sure you can think of other things to talk about!
 
9. Movies
We're big on movies in my family. Not so much television shows, but every now and then it's great to just curl up and watch TV. Grab a cup of tea, or hot chocolate, and some popcorn and watch a movie. If you're anything like me, then October just screams scary movie time! But if you have kids, also like me, then you might want to settle for something more child-friendly and save the horror flicks for after the kids go to bed.

What are your favourite fall activities?

Thanks,
Cole

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reasons to Feel Grateful During College Crunch Time

 
 
Lately I've been feeling really stressed out with the amount of school work I have to complete.

Every night I have piles of homework, big projects and presentations with deadlines that are quickly approaching. And every day in class I try my hardest, but sometimes it isn't enough. Sometimes I don't get a very good grade, or I feel completely lost. School is tough at times.

But one thing I always remind myself, especially when my desk is covered in papers and my calendar shows I have two tests and a project due the next day, is that I am so happy to be in college!

I worked so unbelievably hard to get to this place.
 
And I am extremely grateful to be here.

Something I have learned recently is that the things that seem the most difficult, the things we have to work the hardest at, are usually the things that have the greatest rewards.
 
It's always good to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing instead of just thinking about how difficult it seems. And to always remind yourself that you are stronger than you think and you can handle more than you believe - so clear your head and just do it.
 
I know for myself that starting college was really scary. I kept thinking about how much everything was going to cost, how difficult it would be to balance school and family life as a parent, how I would get to school, if I was smart enough, and so many other worries were in my head.
 
One thing I knew for sure though was that I wanted to go to college. I wanted it so bad, and I was willing to work hard to make it work. And the funny thing is, I surprised myself.
 
Yes, now that it is officially halfway through term one I do have a lot of homework, assignments and tests, but I have also settled into a comfortable routine that makes everything balance.
 
I've never been good at time management, and I do still struggle with it, but I'm making it work! And I'm getting better at it every day.
 
All of the things that worried me don't even seem that bad any more. I mean, school is expensive and I have to be super careful with my spending, but I'm learning to budget myself and how to handle my finances better.
 
It's funny all of the other things college can teach you outside of your school work. While I'm learning how to use recording equipment, CP Style and Canadian law for journalists, I'm also learning how to better organize, how to manage my money, how to be healthier, how to multi-task, and even how to relax and have fun.
 
So I am truly grateful for this experience and all of the lessons I am learning along the way.
 
Did you ever experience a time you didn't think you could get through? How did you handle it? Did you come out stronger?
 
Thanks,
Cole

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!


Today is Thanksgiving Day, and so I would love to wish all of my Canadian readers a very Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Today is a day to be thankful for what you have, or in other words, to feel grateful.

I'm big on gratitude lists because it has been a life changing habit for me. And so today I want to write a list of what I have been feeling grateful, or thankful, for this weekend.

  • I am grateful that my mom and I took the girls apple picking on Friday. It was really a great experience for all of us. The children got to run around, picking their own apples right out of the tree as my mom and I tried to capture their excitement with our cameras. We enjoyed apple cider afterwards and pulled over the car on the way home to look at a field of cows that were grazing.
  • I am grateful that Nick came over on Sunday to cook Sidney and I big vegan Thanksgiving dinner, which was absolutely delicious! It's nice that him and I can come together and enjoy the holidays with our daughter.
  • I am so grateful for all of my family, and that I got to spend so much time with them weekend! And for all of their support and help they have given me throughout my life, but especially in recent years.
  • And I am truly grateful for all of my readers, and all of your lovely comments that make this blogging world so amazing and fun!
Thanks everyone! Happy Thanksgiving! Or at least, happy Monday!

What are you thankful for this holiday?

Thanks,
Cole

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Living Room Tour

When I first moved into my apartment back in May, I was really excited to decorate it!
 
What I didn't consider was how much money it could cost to do things the way I thought I wanted them done. Even though this place has always felt like home from the moment I first walked through it, it's starting to finally feel more and more like my very own space, even without a lot of money!
 
There is still a lot of changes I would like to eventually make, but I thought since I finally at least like my living room I would share with you it's current look, and tell you a little bit of what I would like to change.
 
  
 
  • So this is my couch. It's in pretty rough shape and I can't wait to buy a new one! But I'm the kind of person who won't buy something unless it's exactly what I want, or at least really cheap.
  • Like my end tables which were only $1 each!
  • And as much as I like the lamps, they are going to get replaced, too, because they don't really match my new style.
  • The paintings above the couch were done by Nick and Sidney a few years ago.
  • My awesome skeleton mirror on the right was a Christmas gift from Nick. It's from a neat little store called Grumblin' Granny's
 
 
 
  • My current TV stand is an old dry sink my parents gave me. I'm thinking about painting it, but I kind of like the natural wood look so I might just refinish it. For now, it stays the same.
  • On the right is a big old wire mess that needs a good solution, and on the left is my wooden elephant my cousin gave us.
  • There is a candle holder at the top that needs to be raised higher since switching my old crate for the dry sink.
  • My purple curtains are new, and I love them! And on the top are pumpkin lights for Halloween.
 
 
 
  • Inside my old dry sink I keep DVDs, a few CDs, my DVD player and my PS3. As of right now all the cables are coming out the front and it looks really messy but one day soon I will arrange it to come out the back so I won't have to look at that stupid wire mess!
 
  
  • This is my new shelf that I got for $10 today.
  • On the left is my fern which looks pretty sad, but is actually healthier than it was a month ago! If you can believe that.
 
And here are a few small details around my living room.
  • A Guinness tray which is currently a remote tray.
  • My wooden elephant up-close.
  • My peace sign candle holder, a Christmas present from my sister, with a Buddha beer bottle and a little elephant which was a gift from my Uncle.
  • My corkboard and calendar, which keeps me organized with my school assignments. And Nick's headphones that I need for my Broadcast Technology class.
My place is finally starting to change slowly, but every now and then I manage to find something that I like that makes my apartment feel more like home, more like me.
 
And I think that is really important. It's important to look around your house, and to feel that swell in your chest, that emotion that says, "Hey! I'm home!" And you can grab a beer, and relax. And lately, that is exactly how my living room makes me feel. No matter what anyone else thinks about it.
 
Thanks,
Cole

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Self Love Book Club - Red Hot and Holy



When I first started to read Red Hot & Holy by Sera Beak I had a difficult time staying interested in it. So I would read a couple of pages at a time each night, hoping it would get more interesting. And it did!
By the halfway mark I couldn't put it down. I would read it on the bus to and from school, in between classes and before bed. It still took me a while to read it, but that's because I like to read slow so that I can absorb the information and reflect on it as I'm reading. And I dog-eared many pages, and highlighted many quotes.
I think one of the reasons I had a hard time getting into this book at the beginning is because I'm not at all religious and I felt like I couldn't relate to what I was reading. After I pushed that thought of my head and focused more on Sera Beak's journey and how it related to her self, and not so much her beliefs, I found a lot of inspiration in her memoir.

One of the things I loved about this book was how honest it was. I loved how she mentions times when she felt tired, embarrassed, ecstatic, devastated - when she laughed, when she danced, when she cried.

Her honesty made her seem more real, and the story more real.

Sera talks a lot in her book about doubting herself and her beliefs, which is something I can relate to very well. I often doubt myself. I don't believe I can do the things I want to do, and so I don't even try.

Reading about how Sera felt similar, and also didn't want to try at a lot of things, but ended up forcing herself to do those things because she knew it was right, helped me to realize that sometimes things may feel difficult, or even impossible, but those are usually the things worth doing. Those are the things that most define us, the things that have the greatest rewards and importance.

And this book reminded me that I am human, that I am going to make mistakes and that it's okay to forgive myself.

I lost my book for a little while, but eventually found it under Sidney's bed! She had tried to highlight sentences on her own, which I thought was super cute.

Here are some quotes I found especially inspiring:
"The truth is, if I let myself unleash, if I did what I really wanted to do, I'd probably just mack on random people all day. I'd love their shit up..." - Page 60

This part of the book made me laugh, because similar thoughts have crossed my mind! I honestly think that if I let loose I would make a lot of people very uncomfortable. Actually I know I would, because every now and then I do!

"Skin yourself bare of what is not you." - Page 162
This quote really hit home. I often find myself thinking that I am too weird or strange when I'm being myself. That I might freak people out, or they just won't like me in general if I open myself up to them. But when I do this, I withdraw from social interaction and I just end up feeling miserable. It just feels better to be myself, which is something I have been trying to do more.

"Remember, the process is the point." - Page 245

Sometimes I forget that. I forget to enjoy the journey, to enjoy each and every moment.

Reading someone else's self-love journey has been really inspiring as I continue on my own journey towards self-love.

Thanks,
Cole


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Life Makeover - October

 
 
My goals for September were somewhat achieved. Some things I feel were accomplished quite well, and others were not.

 I Feel Great About:
One of the most important goals that I made for myself was a success! I wanted to develop a comfortable evening routine with my daughter. One that consisted of dinner, homework, and a suitable bedroom routine (bath, snack, brush teeth and hair, bed). And making lunches the night before is a major plus! Towards the end of the month, I even started adding some activities to make our evenings more enjoyable.

Making time to see my friends has been really great, too! It can get lonely living on your own with no adults around to talk to, so it was really important for me to get out and see people. Every weekend I managed to see at least one friend, sometimes way more! Sidney really enjoys getting out to see our friends, too.

Big Fail:
My big fail was not picking up my exercise bike, which means I didn't use it for 20 minutes a day.

I'm Okay With That:
My apartment got a bit more organized. I bought a few small things for around my place that makes me happy! And I did switch around some of the furniture. I didn't get nearly as much done as I initially wanted to, but I'm okay with the results.

My budget got done, but like I mentioned, it was pretty loose and I could have done a better job.

It's now October and I have new goals:

1. Health: I still want to get that damn exercise bike! It will get done this month! But my main health goal for October is to eat a healthy breakfast every day, which is something I've neglected to do since school started. Awful, I know! In the mornings I get Sidney all set up for breakfast and while she eats I do my hair and makeup. However, if I get up 15 minutes earlier and do that before Sidney wakes up then the two of us can sit down and eat together. Which is really good parenting, too.

2. Parenthood: I mentioned that my last month's goal for parenting was to develop a better evening routine, and that has worked out awesome, and I also mentioned we started to do more fun activities in the evenings and it's been a lot more fun. So that is my goal for October - do more fun activities with Sidney! It's October, the best month of the year! Walking trails are gorgeous, the weather is amazing and all sorts of fun things are happening! Corn mazes, haunted houses, apple picking! So much to do!

Plus, I have a birthday party to plan for Sidney, who will be turning six on Halloween!

3. Relationships: I've made time for friends, but I forgot to include my family. I haven't seen my parents or sisters all month! In October, I want to see family more often. And because Sidney and I will be doing all sorts of fun fall activities, I'm sure my family will want to get in on the fun.

4. Home: My redecorating and organizing has been going well - let's continue with that. But more specifically, I want to organize my filing bin and set up a more organized system for all that junk.

5. Money: Budget has been made! Now it's time to stick to it... My spending got a little crazy this past week. And I only sent out a few resumes. With the holidays approaching more places will be hiring, it's time to get looking for work! As a single mom, I need moneyyy!

6. School: I'm getting things in on time, and have yet to be late. However, I keep leaving projects until last minute so I need to stop procrastinating. And there are a ton of bursaries, scholarships and awards deadlines coming up in the next two months. I need to get my applications filled out and sent off to at least give myself a chance of getting some extra money for school!

Do you have any goals this month?

Thanks,
Cole

Monday, September 30, 2013

Weekly Wishes #7 Blogging + School

I haven't done a Weekly Wishes post in a while, but I feel like it's about time to get back into it. Having a weekly goal has seemed to be helpful, even with my Life Makeover goals going on at the same time.
 
For this week I want to go out and finally buy a backpack, one that is large enough to carry all of my books and my gigantic laptop! I can't believe it's already one month into school and I still haven't bought one yet.
 
As of right now I have been using the bag I used back in grade 10 - which was in 2006! It's very uncomfortable carrying my overloaded bag on my shoulder and it would be much better for my health to have a backpack.

Also, I want to get into the habit of bringing my laptop to school with me in the mornings. I arrive at school about 2 hours before my first class and usually I spend this time reviewing my notes, reading newspapers and trying to amuse myself. However, I often have about an hour of doing nothing and it would make more sense to spend that time blogging. Blogging is something I am passionate about, but as of lately my posts seem rushed and sloppy, which isn't good.
 
Other than that, I need to continue to work on my monthly Life Makeover goals and learn to love myself. These things are completely necessary.
 
What are you goals this week?
 
Thanks,
Cole

Friday, September 27, 2013

Week 3 Review of The Life Makeover

 
 
Time goes by too fast. I haven't updated since my Week 1 Review. So here's a bit of an update!

It's been three weeks since I decided my life needed a complete makeover and started working on some small changes.

So far I haven't noticed much difference in my life. I feel like I need to get out more, I feel like I need to get more organized and that I need to just do more. But, I'm only working on these goals right now.
 
September Goal Update Week 3:
 
Health: Well, so far I have just failed this one! I still have not picked up the exercise bike yet and if I'm being honest with myself, I probably won't any time soon. It's too hard to get around without a car! On the plus side, I do walk a lot.
 
Parenthood: My goal to maintain a good evening routine has been pretty successful so far. We manage to eat dinner, and get ready for bed just fine. And now that I have made Sidney a chore chart that includes bedtime, she's much more willing to go to bed and stay in bed. Recently I've been trying to do more fun activities in the evenings. On Thursdays I get home pretty early so we have more time together to do things. For example, today we went for a walk and collected leaves to use for crafts.
 
Relationships: Over the past year or so I haven't really spent any time with friends, or even family. I've secluded myself and I would like to start going out more. So far I've had my younger cousin and her boyfriend over once, my friend Sarah and I have gotten together a few times and I even went out with my other cousin last weekend. And I'm actually starting to get back in touch more with older friends, thanks to Facebook.
 
Home: I got two new end tables for free. I've changed Sidney's room around, and organized the big closet which is more like a storage unit. Still on the hunt for more furniture and such, but it takes time to find the perfect pieces.
 
Money: Errr... I did make a budget! A very loose budget, so that's probably not very good, but it's technically done... Yeah, I should fix it up more.
 
School: Maintaining good grades, handing in every assignment on time and arriving early every day. Assignments and tests are starting to pick up now so I really need to stay focused.

There's only a few more days left of September and I feel quite happy and confident with my progress so far.

However, October brings new and exciting adventures and I'm going to have to start thinking of new monthly goals. Seeing how things have changed, and reflecting on myself I have a few ideas of what needs to happen next. Time to mind-map again!

Thanks,
Cole

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gratitude and Learning to Accept Myself

 
I've been dealing with a lot of changes, and emotions are stirring around in my head that I don't quite understand. Sometimes I feel like it's too personal to discuss on my blog, but I enjoy sharing myself on here. So this week on Grad-itude 101 I'm going to share how I'm trying to feel grateful for who I am and to accept myself.
 
Learning how to be grateful has had a huge impact on my life. I can now look around and see how truly lucky I am instead of always feeling like I don't have enough.
 
One of the biggest challenges I face in life is accepting myself. I often feel like I'm not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, or whatever might apply to what I'm doing at the time.
 
For example, after I handed in my first news story to be graded I just kept hoping that I would at least pass. In my mind there was no way it would be good enough to even get more than a passing grade. I even talked to one of my classmates about it afterwards, and asked her for advice on how to write a news story considering she has experience. But when I got my news story back, I got a really nice surprise! And I was surprised, because I got 100%.
 
Even though I managed to get 100% on my first story, as I wrote my second news story and handed it in I kept thinking, "Man, I hope I at least pass. There's no way this is good enough to get more than a passing grade."
 
Well, I won't know for sure until later. But my point is, no matter what I'm doing I always feel like I'm going to fail and that I'm not good enough.
 
It's frustrating and I so badly want to at least like myself so I can become a better role model for Sidney and accomplish more in life. The way I see it, if you don't have confidence, you hold yourself back instead of pushing yourself forward because you constantly feel like you're going to fail. That's no way to live.
 
This week I'm going to write a gratitude list based on myself.
 
  1. I am grateful for my arms, hands and fingers that give me independence and allow me to do so many different things.
  2. I am grateful for my sight, so that I can see all of the beautiful things in this world, and all of my family and friends.
  3. I am grateful that I can hear music, and voices, and movies.
  4. I am grateful for my height, because I'm not too short and I'm not too tall.
  5. I am grateful that I am relatively healthy, and everything works good.
  6. I am grateful for my natural talent at drawing, which provides me with great pleasure.
  7. I am grateful that I have been getting really good grades in school so far.
  8. I am grateful for my sense of humour that allows me to laugh so often and at even the simplest things, because laughing is amazing.
  9. I am grateful that my teeth aren't too crooked even though I've never had braces.
  10. I am grateful to have the willpower to try and succeed no matter what.
This list took me a while to write. I had a difficult time coming up with things so I started with the basics, and the further I got down my list the more difficult it got but I refused to allow myself to lie.
 
How about you? What do you like about yourself?
 
Thanks,
Cole

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Art and Drawing

 
 
Last week I won a contest over at Daisy Bisley's blog! It arrived yesterday in the mail and I am really excited to start using my new pencils, drawing pens, ruler and sketch book! That is, if my daughter will let me. She kind of took over my sketch book and has been busy making her own artwork in it.
 
As much as I wanted to keep the sketchbook for myself, I couldn't stand the idea of not allowing her to draw in it.
 
Sidney loves drawing! She draws maybe 20 or more drawings every day. On the weekend she'll produce over 50 drawings. To say we go through a lot of paper is an understatement. It's a lot of paper, but why should I prevent her from expressing herself creatively?
 
I know from my own experience that art is an amazing hobby (or career if you're lucky ;) )!
 
Making an art piece takes a lot of work, discipline, concentration, creativity, skill and confidence. I'm not even exaggerating. If you have ever taken the time to complete a drawing, painting, sculpture, etc. you will know what I'm talking about.
 
Maybe later this week I will post some of the portraits I did at D3 Artworks Inc. And I hope to have some new drawings to share with you, too! Because I'm actually planning out a couple of tattoos I would like to get.
 
Do you enjoy art? What medium do you prefer?
 
Thanks,
Cole

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Changes Need to be Made


I realised something today.
 
While riding the bus to school I started thinking about who I am, and I realised that I don't exactly know who I am. I think that happens a lot when you're in a relationship for a long time. Whether it's with a significant other, or a best friend, or a family member - anyone you spend a lot of time with. You pick up little things here and there: hobbies, slang, mannerisms, opinions, etc.
 
Do you get what I'm saying?
 
And I realised that maybe I've picked up certain things on purpose because I don't really have good self esteem. It's difficult to say, but I have never had a good relationship with myself.
 
I feel like I'm always trying really hard to be something I'm not. And when I stop trying to be something I'm not, I withdraw from social interaction.

To say I'm confused is an understatement.

There are days when I feel confident and free to be myself - someone who is optimistic yet very negative, whiney, sarcastic and easily humoured by ridiculous things. I like to listen to the same song on repeat until I get sick of it, and I dance around like a fool over and over again. I like movies that make me think, that make me question humanity, and other times I just want to watch people getting killed in the cheesiest, goriest way possible. I like to laugh, I love to cry, and I enjoy being angry. Is that so wrong?

Then there are times when I stop to think about it, and I feel like no body likes those qualities in a person and I should change.

Whenever I try to change though, I get really frustrated. Sometimes I think I want to be someone completely different, and other times I absolutely love the way I am.

This has been an ongoing process for the past little while. It's so frustrating trying to be comfortable with who I am, to embrace my individuality and to accept myself. But it has to be done.

 
You are probably going to see a lot of changes around my blog as I learn more about myself and how to love who I am. And I will be sure to post more about this topic in the near future!
 
Thanks,
Cole

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Gratitude Journey From Pessimist to Almost Optimist

 
It's been a few weeks since I last linked up over at Erika's Grad-itude 101. These past few weeks have been kind of difficult for me for certain reasons, and I'm also doing my own little Life Makeover project that is much needed! However, I am super happy to get back into the gratitude link-up fun!
 
Gratitude is something I've been exploring for just over a year now. It's been a life changing experience for me and so I want to share how I first started learning about the benefits of gratitude, and how it's helped me.
 
Last summer while I was working at D3 Artworks Inc., I fell into a pretty bad depression. I had a ton of support from my co-workers, supervisors, friends and family but if you've ever experienced depression you know that sometimes other people just can't help you. I ended up seeing a doctor and got antidepressants which kept me neutral, but I wanted to feel happy, or even just content, not neutral. Sometimes neutral is worse than sadness, it's like you don't feel anything at all. You're just numb.
 
Finally, I realised that if I wanted to feel happy again I was going to have to do something about it.
 
So one day after work I went over to the public library and wandered around the self-help section. The first book to really jump out at me was The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I had heard about The Secret before. I knew there was a DVD, and my mom tried to get me to listen to the audio CD a couple of years before, but I had brushed it off. All of a sudden I found myself curious about it.
 
Reading The Secret helped me to view life a little differently. Mind you, I don't believe that just thinking things will make them exist. I truly believe in working for things and such, but I took what it had said and applied it a little bit differently to my own life. I started thinking that things were possible.
 
But I needed more than that.
 
 
And then one day I came across another book by Rhonda Byrne called The Magic and it was exactly what I needed. This book talks a lot about gratitude! It's the reason I got into writing gratitude lists. It has 28 exercises for you to do in 28 days. Things like; writing gratitude lists, feeling thankful for what you do have, and appreciating the people who are in your life.
 
For months I carried it everywhere with me, along with a journal and a pen. After I completed the 28 days, I would still flip through it whenever I felt I needed some inspiration, or if I was having a bad day. It was my reminder to feel grateful.
 
I used to be the most pessimistic person I know. I'm not even kidding!
 
Now I'm optimistic. Most of the time.
 
But I can honestly say that I'm happy more often than sad, or angry, or upset in any way.
 
Do you practice gratitude? How did you get into practicing gratitude? Is it something new, or have you been doing it for a long time?
 
Thanks,
Cole
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