Back At It

Hello again family and friends!
It has been almost 13 months since my last blog post.
I had put this blog to the side for a time being
in the hopes that disconnecting
would help me reconnect.

I don't know what else to say
except that I believe that was a great decision for me. 
2016 was an incredibly difficult year.
I won't go into details in this post,
but there was a lifetime of loss and grief all packed into 12 months.
Or so it seemed, anyway.

Letting go of this blog also gave me the space
to pursue other passions.
One of them being working alongside
Eran at the Good Mother Project.
This has been on a volunteer basis and has
been incredibly rewarding.
It opened up doors for me to share
my own Post-partum journey and 
walk alongside other women in their own 
journey of being a mother, 
and yet not losing a sense of themselves as individuals.

In June, at what I would consider to be the height of intense grief,
I began to purge. 
Somehow it helped me process and work through my pain.
One afternoon, I grabbed a garbage bag and just began filling it with stuff.
I started in the toy room and filled the bag to the brim with
toys that hadn't been played with in ages.
I filled more garbage bags with just that,
It felt amazing to clear out the space physically
as I also cleared out space mentally.
I spent that time thinking and praying.

A short time later I went through my closet.
And then through our household items.
Since June I have cleared out at least 
one garbage bag full of stuff.
There were things I had that 
we moved to Portland and back again 
and still hadn't been used.

The process of clearing out unwanted or unused things
felt so good to me.
Soon, by November, I noticed something.

Not only was our physical space becoming less cluttered,
I realized how much stuff we can really live without.
How much we had been hanging on to for no reason at all.
Once I let go of the guilt of hanging on to certain items
(you know, oh but so-and-so gave me this and they would be so sad if I gave it away).
Or saying no when people offered me hand-me-downs I know we/I wouldn't use,
I freed myself up to really start narrowing down our material possessions.

Soon I realized that there was a name for what I had 
been doing the last 5+ months.
Minimalism isn't what you may think.
It isn't having one chair, one lamp and an end table in a room.
It isn't having absolutely nothing on your kitchen counter,
or a fridge free of your kids' art work.
No, it isn't having all white walls displaying one simple piece of art.

It is simply removing clutter.
It is removing all of the STUFF.
All of the distractions that are keeping us from living a full and meaningful life!

Having two small children 
I never imagined that I would start having more free time.
That I would crawl out from under piles of laundry
or dirty dishes.
But guess what?
I am doing it.
I am nowhere near where I want to be,
but I am starting to see the light
and let me tell you, 
it is beautiful.

Adopting a minimalistic lifestyle has made room for so many positive things in my life.

1) My kids. 
We play! We roll around on the bed and giggle.
 We sit on the floor playing Barbies. We have ukulele concerts, we make and play with play doh, we paint, we colour and we play games.
It is so incredibly freeing to sit for an hour playing Sorry with my 5 year old and not have a gnawing feeling that I should be doing 10 other things. 
No guilt. 
We make tea, we sit and we play. That is it.
I can go for a walk with my 2 year old and
listen to her nonsensical chatter about nothing and everything.
 I can smile and laugh because I am really tuning into what she is saying.
I appreciate her silly sentences because I am listening to her.
I am not thinking about the list of to-dos waiting for me at home. 
I lay in bed with them at bed time and read and talk without thinking about all the laundry I have to do afterwards. It is a beautiful gift.

2) My marriage.
Through everything we experienced last year,
making time for my husband has been my #1 priority for 2017.
I am so thankful that throughout last year he made it a priority for the two of 
us to get out alone and connect.
Once again, freeing up time has allowed for us to continue this.
The evenings used to be a time for me to clean up the kitchen and do laundry.
I'd fall onto the couch or into bed exhausted because
I hadn't allowed myself to rest after the kids went to bed.
Or, if I did, I couldn't do so guilt free because there were dirty dishes
waiting for me the next morning.
No more. 
Now we watch shows together, without me distracted while finishing a chore.
Or we make tea and play cribbage together.
We can talk uninterrupted and give one another our full attention.
Once I had kids, I never thought this was something I'd get back until they moved out.

3) Me time.
Carving out time for myself has become easier.
This is still typically the one that can take the back burner the easiest.
But with everything I learned during my post-partum anxiety period,
I also know its very important, so I try to make it happen.
Being a mom is a full-time job.
Whether you stay at home or go to work and come home,
there are no breaks. 
Working around the clock is exhausting,
and I have learned to schedule in time for myself,
just like I would if I was at a real job.
Setting Jane up with an activity while I 
sneak into the living room to read my book for 10 minutes gives me
just what I need to keep up with my active 2 year old for another few hours.
Often times when Claire gets home from school,
the two of them will play downstairs for an hour,
and I will use that time to start dinner prep and then give myself the remainder of time 
to lay down and close my eyes to pray and rest. 
Or, I will simply just cruise Facebook and Instagram for a few minutes. 
It is easier for me to spend quiet time with God too.
Reading, praying and meditating have become practices that 
really ground me and set me up for a better day.

How does adopting minimalism cause all of these great results?
Getting rid of STUFF has given me the freedom to also clean and tidy less stuff.
The less stuff I have for my kids to throw about,
the less there is to clean up.
The fewer clothes we have, 
the fewer I have to wash.

I am the kind of person that sees clutter and feels overwhelmed.
Doing a complete overhaul and eliminating much of that clutter,
has freed my mind! 
I never realized how much mental space
all of that stuff was taking up as well.
It resulted in my reevaluating my time management.
I started taking a closer look at other aspects 
of how I spend my time as well.

Cooking is something I thoroughly enjoy.
So while I had heard several ideas in cutting corners in the kitchen,
I could never justify it because I actually enjoy preparing meals.
What worked for me was meal planning.
This has cut out a huge chunk of time trying to come 
up with dinner the day of.
Instead, I know what we will be eating for that week,
and I can be prepared.
I also spend a day every 3 months to make abut 30 freezer meals.
As a mom, there isn't always time in the day to make a home cooked meal.
Now on days that I know will be busier, I can take out a freezer or crock pot meal 
I have prepared and there is dinner, just like that. 

Each month I go through one area of our home. Toys, clothes and general stuff.
Sometimes, I do two or more.
Every single time I am clearing at least one large garbage bag of stuff.
 It amazes me how much can still be cleared.
Last month we removed large bulky furniture that
wasn't being used and simply just a place to store more stuff we don't need.

I organized and went through the girls' art supplies and put them into bins.
I rearranged furniture.
Its amazing how simply turning a shelf on its side can clear up space
and become more functional.

Minimalism isn't just getting rid of stuff.
Its also not bringing more stuff in.
It is so easy to scoop up a bargain, simply because its on sale!
I am a sucker for that red sticker and scoring a good deal.
That kind of mentality can be addicting.
A while ago I read a way to avoid that
is to ask yourself if you'd pay the regular price for it.
If yes, then buy it.
If no, then ask why you feel like you 'need' it.
Usually, its just because its too good of a deal to pass up.
And that friends, is not good enough!

Heading into this year my goal,
or resolution,
is to live with more intention.
In fact, intention is my theme word for the year.
I want to focus more on living with purpose.
Having every thing I say and do have a reason.
And ultimately,
having that reason be to glorify God.
Honouring Him and my family.
I truly feel like adopting and learning to practice minimalism will help
free up the space in order to do just that.

I am not sure what this blog is going to look like just yet.
And that is okay!
I won't be giving myself an expectation
for posting often or trying to engage a particular audience.
For now, 
it is going to be a space for 
me to keep posting my feelings on life in general.
Oh - and of course sharing cute photos of my girls! 


Until Next Time

A new year brings opportunity for reflection,
new goals are shifting of priorities.
Last year I was in the depths of my post-partum anxiety
and my blog served as a space for me to escape,
be creative and carve out some time for myself.
I had always wanted to attempt 
shifting our family blog to a lifestyle blog.

Through that shift I had the opportunity and pleasure
to meet some wonderful people!
I was inspired by some great woman
who were leaders and taking charge of their careers.
I met some amazing makers of all kinds of products,
held giveaways and met some new people along the way.
I am forever grateful for those opportunities
and feel proud of myself for just going for it
and seeing what came forth.

Now, a whole year later,
I am at a place where I am ready to release it.
Not permanently, 
but for now,
I am going to put my blog aside.
Instead of saying 'New Years Resolution'
I am going to call them my new ways of being.
For 2016 my new ways of being
have placed new priorities in my life
and my blog no longer fits into this.
Perhaps, if the mood strikes me,
I may come back and post some photos
or write out some thoughts.

This last year I had to make the incredibly
difficult decision to take care of myself.
Some of you may know what I mean
when I saw that it is difficult.
In January I had a 3 month old,
a 3 year old and a husband.
I was also floundering.
Through the incredible support of my husband and friends,
I decided that if I can't take care of myself,
I can't take care of my family.
We ( I say we because this required immense 
support in a few different ways from my husband)
sent me to see a counselor, to a naturopath 
and a low dose of medication for anxiety.
I took time for myself to write, 
to take baths,
to go for walks alone and 
join a gym.

There were times that I felt like the world
was against me.
When I was trying to get the girls out 
the door so I could go work out
and Claire would refuse. 
She didn't want to go
to the childcare at the gym.
Once we were there I would leave them
in the childcare and Jane would cry.
Oh she would cry!
It took everything in me to focus on my yoga practice,
or put in the headphones and get the endorphin's pumping through me.

There were times when I didn't want to take more
pills than I already have to.
I hated that I had to be on medication for my anxiety,
but I hated myself more for the thoughts I had when I wasn't on it.
To make a long story longer,
last year was a big year for me.
A year of change, of discovering who I am through
all of the mothering, anxiety, my role as a wife and a homemaker.

Now as we are in 2016
I am ready to release all of that 
and jump in with two feet to 
this beautiful life I have.
I want to be with my family,
really be with them!
To see what my girls see,
enjoy the time I have with them.
so that I can truly CONNECT.

This is where my blog comes in.
While it served me well in 2015,
it no longer serves me in 2016.
Thank you to those who faithfully read my blog.
I will continue to write for a Good Mother Project,
and hope to write for some other sites as well,
to keep pursuing my love for writing.
I will post those links on Facebook.

Happy New Year to you all, friends and family.
Thank you for your love and support.

Michelle xx

Photo by Michelle Cervo


Mommy Mondays: What A Year

On Saturday as I took down
the Christmas tree,
the pile of kids books
and the intricate and breakable decor,
my mind wandered to what 
would be next Christmas.

Next December,
(okay I admit it, November)
what will life hold for us?
What will have changed?
What will remain the same?

Will I look back on 2016
and feel proud of the changes we made?
The goals set be accomplished,
the ways of being I am promising to myself
hold true?

Next year,
as I unpack those boxes
I so carefully put away,
how will our family look?
Jane will be two
and Claire 5.
We will be in a new routine of 
all day Kindergarten
and how knows what else.

There are so many things
about 2015 I am ready to leave behind.
I am ready for the new year,
new change and 
a new way of being for our family.
The new year also brings a new year for me in another way.
It is my birthday today,
which causes me to pause and reflect even more.
A new calendar year, a new birth year
and another chance for a new beginning.

I am so ready for you! 


Women In Business, Review and Giveaway: GLITTER & SPICE

Glitter & Spice is a local company
that makes teething jewelry for mama and baby. 
They make everything from necklaces,bracelets and
teething toys that look just like Oreos! 
They are made from silicone that is completely safe
for your little one.
Unlike most teething jewelry I see,
they are cute enough to wear as well.
Sometimes I have worn my piece
even when I go out without my teething baby! 

I first heard about Glitter and Spice when
I read a review on my friend Codi Lynn's blog, 
She held a giveaway and I won!
I received the Kate teething necklace 
and completely fell in love.
Jane loves to chew on the beads 
while I am wearing or holding her.
They are a great way to always have
something for her to chew on,
and I feel good knowing that they are safe 
for her to have in her mouth.

Jane has her own teething necklace as well.
Their are so many options for colour combinations
I found it hard to choose.
I ended up going with 50 Shades of Greyson
because I knew then it would match with everything.
If you have a hard time deciding too,
there is also the option to create a custom order.

What I like about both the adult and kid necklaces 
is the easy snap off in the back.
If Jane pulls on the necklace hard it will snap
apart and come off.
This is very important when kids where jewelry.
Its also loose enough for her to pull over her head. 
Babies and children should never wear jewelry 
when unsupervised by an adult.

Glitter & Spice is giving the readers of Just An Ordinary Family
20% your purchase until January 8th. 
Use the coupon code MS20 at checkout.

In addition to the coupon code,
Glitter & Spice would like to gift one lucky reader a necklace!

Please follow these instructions to be entered to win!
1) Follow Just An Ordinary Family 
Glitter & Spice on Instagram.


2) Tag a friend that you think would like to enter as well, one tag per comment.

Don't forget to like Glitter & Spice on Facebook too!

So I had full intentions of having an adorable photo shoot
with Jane using her necklace and bracelet.
Some photos taken of her nursing and using my necklace
(it avoids her pinching me, thank you!)
Do you think my active 1 year old wanted to cooperate?
So I went for some candid photos instead.
Not what I wanted at all,
but at least you will see her using the products.
Jane loves them and wants her pieces on all the time.
Even big sister wants to as well!


Holiday Gift Guide: Your Best Girlfriend

Gift ideas for your best friend.
She's super easy to shop for,
because she likes what you like.
You share your closet,
shoes, you love all the same things-
that's why you're best friends!
In case you still need some ideas 
we have put together this gift guide! 
If you buy them for her, 
you know you'll get to use them too.
It's really a win-win.

1. the classic Elle Est Forte tee from SHE IS Clothing. Dress it up, work out in it, it is about as versatile as a tee shirt can get. Plus, you're stating a great message at the same time.

(Photo by Frances Eden Creative. Do not copy.)

2. A hands-on cooking class at the Dirty Apron cooking school in Vancouver. So much to learn, so much fun, so much delicious food! 

3. Earrings from Olive + Piper ,a Vancouver based company. Is she classy and elegant? Simple and understated? Trendy and fun? They have the perfect piece for every type of girl. 

4. Turn your Instagram selfies into magnets for her fridge. Then you'll always have a little #throwbackthursday! 

5. Everyone loves to get some fun, new make up! My bestie got me this Too Faced Melted lipstick. It goes on smoothly and really stays put.

6. Keep wawrm, keep cozy, represent our home and native land with these Canada mitts from Hudsons Bay Co. Check all of the items in their Canadian Olympic Team Collection


Style Post:Holiday Glam!

Tis the season 
for holiday parties,
special date nights,
performances and 
family get togethers.

The time we spend
dressing up and going out
is at an all time high
the month of December.
For some,
there is delight in the wardrobe
changes and excuses to get all dolled up.
For others, it can be daunting
coming up with a new outfit
or look for every occasion.

Thankfully Kenna
is here to help us!
She was kind enough to 
guest post on Just An Ordinary Family
and give us a make up tutorial
to put together a beautiful, simple 
holiday look for whatever occasion you
are attending.

What I love about 
the look Kenna has put together
for us is that its not overly done up.
It is simple, yet classy and glamorous.
Perfect for date night and a family reunion.

Watch Kenna below to see how she does it! 

Below are a list of the products Kenna used,
with the link on where to find it.

Thank you Kenna for 
your excellent tutorial.
For more information on
Kenna's Younique products,
you can find her on Facebook
or at her Younique website.

I am a wife and mother to two sweet boys. I am a lover of all things beauty and have a true passion for enhancing women's natural beauty with the power of makeup.


Holiday Gift Guide - For the Little Ones and Giveaway

We are now a week into December,
and I am sure that your Christmas shopping is well
on its way.
If not, there's a special gift guide 
coming up just for you in a couple weeks.

This weeks gift guide
is for all the little people in your life,
and my favourite to shop for! 
Whoever they are,
chances are they will love 
at least one or two items
on this list! 
Read on below,
and don't forget to enter the give away!

1. Bath toys are always a hit and a great gift. Because these toys sit in water all the time, the turn over rate is higher than other toys. To help solve that problem, I would recommend one of these for storage. We have one and we love it. I am a big fan of Boon, and these Boon pipes for the bath look like so much fun! They suction right onto the tile and will make for lots of fun. There's one under our tree this year! 

Amazon.ca also sells Boon, so if you're a Prime member, you can ship it right to the recipient complete with gift wrap and a note! 

(image via booninc.com) 

2. Next on the list is the book of names and faces, customized to your own family and friends. For bigger kids, they have fun memory games with familiar faces as well. 

(image from pinholepress.com)

3. I have featured them here before, so my love for them is no secret! How about a bib that grows along with them? Maybe a cute scarf to protect them from the cold? Acorn and Leaf has some adorable prints for both of those. Their products are lovely, quality and Canadian!

4. Always a hit - you can never go wrong with a book or two! My kids love reading books and will request their favourites over and over. Chapters made a list of their top sellers for 2015 divided into age categories, in case you're stumped on what to buy. I can also tell you that Jane, our 1 year old, loves the touch and feel books. Especially the That's Not My... series. Claire loves imaginative books and thinks Robert Munsch is hilarious. We got here some of these mini Munsch books for her stocking this year. 

Of course I always encourage my readers to shop local when they can, but again, for convenience sake Amazon does carry several (and by several I mean thousands) of kids books that can be gift wrapped and sent directly to your recipient. 

5. For the teething littles on your list, I highly recommend the 'chewelry' from Glitter & Spice! The founder and owner is a local mama who is absolutely sweet. She runs the business out of her home and was one of the first teething jewelry businesses on the block. Since then she has been featured in magazines (like Vogue and Glamour), was at the giving suite at the Emmy's and word is spreading widely about how awesome her product is. We have the teething necklaces for mama and baby, and also a teething bracelet for baby. I love that the pieces are safe for baby to chew on and play with, no yucky material used and it is also cute enough to wear without looking like you are wearing something baby-ish.

6. Another big hitter in the local business game is bébé de luxe! Based out of Coquitlam, BC, this mama decided she wanted something organic, natural and free of yuckies for her baby. This is how her company was created. Bébé de luxe, along with Glitter and Spice, were part of the celebrity gift bags at the Emmy's this past year. Bébé de luxe specializes in milk bath and baby bath bar. Perfect for gifting and come highly recommended by moi.  

As a gift to our readers,
Bébé de luxe would like 
to gift one of our lucky readers
a package of Coconut and Oat bath milk! 
To top it off, 
I'm going to add another one to 
one of your friends!

The contest is open 
on Blogger and Instagram,
but is in no way endorsed by either of them.
By entering you confirm you are
at least 18 years or older,
and live within Canada or the U.S.A. 
Contest rules below-

If you are entering on the blog,
all you have to do is leave a comment below
with your email address,
and the name of your friend that you would like to win too.
Please make sure you have your friends mailing address,
 so that we can send them their prize as well.

If you are entering on Instagram,
all you have to do is follow both
Just An Ordinary Family 
Bébé de luxe,
tag your friends in the comments,
one tag per comment.

Good luck everyone!
Winner will be announced on Friday December 11th.

*The winner will have 73 hours to make contact,
after that a new winner will be chosen.*