Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum

Lyla is six weeks old and I finally feel like I’m emerging from the postpartum fog. I expected birthing her to be hard but I was not prepared for the unique and unexpected trials of postpartum life. Of course, I’m so happy to have my sweet daughter but I’m not enjoying the challenges postpartum has brought to me personally. Everyone’s recovery and experiences are different but I want to share my experience in the hope that if you are pregnant or postpartum we can support each other in our journeys.

Continue reading “Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum”

Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2

To read Part 1 of my birth story click here

We arrived at the hospital at 1 pm and met our primary midwife in the maternal triage area (we also had a second midwife assist during the birth). She lead us across the hall to the delivery room where I changed into a gown and laid down on the bed. I looked out the window and noted our nice view of autumn coloured trees covering the city. The distraction was a good way to start the day.

Continue reading “Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2”

What to Eat While Breastfeeding

A few posts back I wrote about Healthy Pregnancy Snacks and some general guidelines of what and how much to eat during pregnancy based on recommendations from Health Canada and Registered Dieticians.

In response to that post, I was asked to create a followup post on what to eat while breastfeeding. Like pregnancy, lactation requires increased calories + nutrients to support milk production. Since I am planning to breastfeed Baby K I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some insight on how I plan to stay nourished while lactating.

How Long Should I Breastfeed?

First, off Dieticians of Canada recommends that breastmilk alone be given until six months of age and then in concert with other foods till at least 12 months of age (although Health Canada and the World Health Organization recommend breastfeeding until age 2). As mom is the primary food source for at least the first six months it is imperative that her diet contains an adequate amount of calcium, healthful fat, fibre, fruits, vegetables, and water. No matter what type of diet one is on, such as vegan it is still possible to fortify the body with these nutrients. If you are having trouble planning an adequate diet be sure to speak to a Registered Dietician. EatRight Ontario is a great place to get started in contacting a dietician or to ask a question by email.

You may not be aware of this but breastfed babies also require a daily vitamin D supplement in order to prevent a deficiency which could lead to rickets. Formula fed babies are exempt from this recommendation because their food is fortified with this vitamin. Vitamin D drops for infants can be found in the vitamin section of the pharmacy.

What Should I Eat While Breastfeeding?

One recommendation for lactating mothers is to consume about 500 more calories per day than pre-pregnancy. Although for some women this may be too much or insufficient. One’s caloric intake depends on how active they are and how much body fat is present.

As more calories are consumed more nutrients are provided to the body. Furthermore as one breastfeeds the metabolism becomes more efficient. Plus the extra pounds on a new mom will also be used to supply nutrients while breastfeeding.

Overall eating a balanced and varied diet is essential to providing one’s body with the proper nutrients.

Balanced diet: eating an adequate amount of protein, carbohydrate + fat, each macronutrient plays a different role in the body, brain, and metabolism.

Protein: meat, fish, eggs

Protein can increase metabolism and is needed for neurotransmitters in the brain

Carbohydrate: fruit + vegetables

Carbohydrates provide quick energy by raising blood sugar levels

Fat: olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds

Fats keep us full, help with brain function and impair carbohydrates from entering the bloodstream too quickly. 

Varied diet: eating different types of food or trying a new food each week

Try these easy substitutions to add more variety to your diet:

  • using quinoa in a casserole instead of rice

  • making lasagne with zucchini strips instead of pasta

  • subbing in roasted sweet potato for regular potatoes

  • making muffins with half whole wheat flour and half regular flour

  • trying plain yogurt in your smoothie over flavoured

What if I’m not Eating Enough?

The milk produced for baby is made from nutrients within the mother’s body and the food she consumes. If for some reason the mother is not well nourished her body will provide the needed nutrients to produce milk for the infant. In fact in scenarios where mothers were close to malnutrition the milk produced was adequate enough to supply the child and allow proper growth.

Furthermore feeding when baby initially shows signs of hunger (rooting, rapid eye movement, flexing arms or closed fists, sucking on hand) or feeding on cue is imperative to establishing not only an adequate milk supply but to give baby enough food throughout the day. However, each baby is different and as time goes on parents will begin to recognize their own child’s feeding cues.

Crying is a late sign of hunger and could make latching more difficult.

Are There Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding?

Besides the obvious of alcohol and smoking, there are not any specific foods to avoid.

Caffeine intake may or may not affect the baby. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding notes that “the amount of caffeine in five or fewer five-ounce cups of coffee (less than 750 ml) will not cause a problem for most mothers and babies.”  One must also consider the size of their mug (8oz or 12 oz) and all sources of caffeine such as carbonated drinks, some pain medication, some cold medication and other medications.

A baby that is alert, wide-eyed or fussy may be overstimulated by caffeine. However, in about one cup of coffee, the amount of caffeine transferred to the breastmilk is about 1%. Although it is important to note caffeine does accumulate in the baby.

Breastfeeding moms shouldn’t feel pressure to eat certain foods for their nutrient content. Other foods will also contain the same nutrients.

Additionally, milk consumption in the mother is not essential to producing milk. In fact, calcium can be received from many other sources. Such as chicken broth, where the chicken is cooked for an extended time to soften the bones. Other sources include canned fish (salmon or mackerel) that contain the softened bones due to processing, whole grains,  green leafy vegetable, tahini, almonds.

How Much Fluid Should I Consume?

According to La Leche Leauge drinking till thirst is a good guideline to follow. Most new moms find it helpful to have a water bottle nearby while feeding. As long as one’s urine is light coloured fluid intake is sufficient.

Furthermore drinking more than needed or drinking herbs does not help increase milk supply. Only the baby fully emptying the breast regularly and on cue will tell the body to produce more milk.

I’m Vegetarian or Vegan is My Baby Still Getting Enough Nutrients?

A vegetarian diet containing some animal products like eggs or dairy is usually adequate. although when these foods are eliminated as in the case of a vegan diet vitamin B12 must be incorporated somehow, usually through a supplement.

One benefit of eating a vegetarian diet is lower levels of PCB’s (environmental contaminants) within the body as these are stored in the fatty tissue. Vegetarians tend to consume less fatty foods than an animal product based diet.

What About Losing Weight, Is it Safe to Diet?

Generally, it can take up to a year to lose the extra weight accumulated during pregnancy. Part of the weight gained during pregnancy is used to meet the nutrient and calorie needs of breastfeeding. Therefore it is recommended to wait at least 2 months before trying to lose weight. During these first few months, the milk supply is established and the mom’s body is healing from birth. Finally, weight loss should be gradual, about 1-2 pounds per week.


For more information on breastfeeding in general and tips and advice on breastfeeding be sure to check out the La Leche League Website or the book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (I found this to be really helpful in preparing to breastfeed).


Breast-Feeding Success. (2017). Todaysdietitian.com. Retrieved 17 October 2017, from http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/100112p52.shtml

Canada, P. (2014). Breastfeeding & Infant Nutrition – Canada.caCanada.ca. Retrieved 17 October 2017, from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/childhood-adolescence/stages-childhood/infancy-birth-two-years/breastfeeding-infant-nutrition.html

LLLI | NB Maternal Nutrition during Breastfeeding. (2016). Llli.org. Retrieved 17 October 2017, from http://www.llli.org/nb/nbmarapr04p44.html

LLLI | What effect does the mother’s consumption of caffeine have on the breastfeeding infant?. (2016). Llli.org. Retrieved 17 October 2017, from http://www.llli.org/faq/caffeine.html

PFC Balanced Eating Part 1: What is PFC? – Dietitian Cassie. (2014). Dietitian Cassie. Retrieved 17 October 2017, from https://www.dietitiancassie.com/pfc-balanced-eating-part-1-what-is-pfc/

Breastfeeding can be challenging for any new mom especially when you're sleep deprived. One thing that shouldn't be confusing is what to eat while nursing.


To read more pregnancy updates check out the following posts:

2nd Trimester Update (21W2D)
3rd Trimester Update
Everything No One Tells You About Your First Pregnancy (Part 1)
Everything No One Tells You About You’re First Pregnancy (Part 2)
Baby K’s Birth Story + Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2
Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum
What to Eat While Breastfeeding

Loving My ADD Husband

My husband was diagnosed with ADD as a child.

As a result, he found it difficult to focus in a traditional school setting. The decision was made to homeschool him. He thrived being able to complete his schoolwork in the morning and expound his boundless energy playing the rest of the day.

His ADD wasn’t a bad thing it just required a few adjustments and some understanding of how his environment can help him thrive or struggle.

Although with age and maturity he has outgrown a lot of his ADD tendencies at times I can see evidence of it.

For example, he doesn’t like to sit still for long periods of time. Often he will pace the room while we’re having a serious conversation or start tapping rhythms with his fingers (he’s a drummer) when bored.

At other times he can be highly sensitive both emotionally and physically. I have to be aware of how I share something that’s bothering me in order to not be overbearing or insensitive to his feelings. On the physical side, he doesn’t always like to be touched while my love language is physical touch. He is also sensitive to the feel of certain fabrics and prefers very soft fabrics over anything rough, satiny or overly smooth.

Change for him provokes a lot of anxiety. Starting a new job, moving, me being 39 weeks pregnant are all things he is constantly concerned about.

He goes through phases of being very dedicated to certain hobbies or activities. Not to an extreme or unhealthy level but with a strong desire to be successful. Usually, this habit manifests through various types of games, sports or his cars.

His dedication also extends to me, family and friends. He makes connecting with others a priority. Whether it’s a text throughout the day or driving long distances, relationships are important to him.

Finally, he has incredible attention to detail and is skilled at spatial orientation. He can at times be a perfectionist, while I could care less if something is less than perfect. He is also a confident AZ licensed driver.

I may not understand all the aspects of his ADD but I can appreciate all the ways it makes him a great husband.

For starters, I’m happy being a homebody but he gets bored if we never go out. He encourages me to be more social and introduces me to active things we can do together like working out, going for walks or seeing a sporting event.

I also appreciate his go-go-go approach to life because it allows him to be a tireless provider when he has to work 12-hour shifts.

How He Helps me be a Better Person

Secondly, he has taught me to be a better communicator. At times I can be too brash or dramatic in expressing myself. Instead, I’m learning to state the facts, not get caught up in emotion and to have more empathy when needed.

Furthermore, although I don’t like seeing him worry or feel anxious about things I appreciate his deep care and concern for my wellbeing and our growing family. I know I can count on him to take care of us. Even if for him, that means starting a new, more challenging job while his wife is very pregnant and having to relocate soon after the baby comes.

Finally, when my husband commits to a task he’s all in and he will do his very best to achieve a good outcome. For example, I have never questioned his dedication or commitment to me. Every day he affirms his love for me. He’s the one who makes sure we resolve conflicts. He stresses the importance of our relationship with Christ over our relationship with each other. He prays for us, for me and for our life together. He encourages me in my pursuits. He stands up for me in front of others. He’s certainly not perfect but I know his commitment to our marriage does not waver.

Perhaps at one time, his ADD was seen as an obstacle to succeeding academically or otherwise. I don’t see his ADD as a flaw or hurdle to overcome. Instead, I see it as a gift that has made him into the most amazing, caring, sensitive, driven and talented husband and soon to be father.

I hope that our baby girl can learn these same incredible traits from her daddy.


My husband was diagnosed with ADD as a child. I don't see his ADD as a flaw or hurdle to overcome. Instead, I see it as a gift that has made him into the most amazing, caring, sensitive, driven and talented husband and soon to be father.

Baby K’s Baby Shower

I’m currently 39 weeks pregnant which means we are one week from my due date of October 17! I can’t believe how fast this pregnancy has flown by after the beginning stages feeling like they lasted forever. Alas, we are all ready for Baby K (thanks in part to the generosity of my baby shower) and are so anxious to meet her and introduce her to everyone.

Our wonderful church family hosted the most beautiful shower

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Me, my mom, sister and grandma’s <3
Baby shower for Baby K hosted by church. Learning to trust God in the midst of major life changes like moving to a new city with a newborn.
Such a beautiful and well-planned shower hosted by our church family! Baby K got spoiled <3
Baby shower for Baby K hosted by church. Learning to trust God in the midst of major life changes like moving to a new city with a newborn.
I can’t even handle the cuteness of this coat!

I’m also set to officially graduate on October 27! Currently, I’m unsure if I will be able to attend the ceremony. Yet I am going to try my best not to miss this monumental moment. Upon graduating and having Baby K I plan to take some time off. Although in the interim I would like to volunteer within my field, attend some networking events and a Home Economics conference in March.

Baby K is not the only change to our lives this fall, as Michael has started a new transportation job in a steel factory and as a result, we are moving. Although all these changes are good for us I’m also sad to be closing a chapter of our lives.

On the one hand, I appreciate that upon moving we will be less than 20 minutes from Mike’s work rather than an hour and he won’t have to traverse snowy, deer infested backroads anymore. Although moving is not fun, packing up our apartment has helped me pass the time while waiting for Baby K. Furthermore we will be closer to Mike’s family and still within an hour of my family.

However leaving our quaint small town, possibly our church and an area that I’ve lived in my whole life to move to the outskirts of a large city with a newborn is not the easiest transition. That being said we did only move to our current location to allow me to finish University and knew that eventually, we would be relocating. Nonetheless, I will miss the walkability of our neighbourhood, our late night McDonald’s runs and the charming rural atmosphere of our community. Our first tiny apartment and wonderful town we’ve called home for the past year and a half will always hold many special memories for us.

To be honest, as I think about these changes I can often get wrapped up in my emotions. I want things to stay the same although I know that’s not the best for us. I wonder if we will be able to find the same community we experience now with our church, whether I’ll meet other young moms and make friends and how long we will live in this next location.

I can at times get too consumed with worrying and certainly hearing others concerns also makes me worry more.  Yet, at the end of the day, I quell my fears by trusting that a lot of what’s happening in my life is not in my hands. We prayed for God to open up this opportunity for a better position for Michael and he proceeded through the hiring process fairly quickly. Furthermore, He provided a larger place for us to live that we could move into not long after the baby comes. Plus Michael only has to commute a long distance for a limited time. Certainly, there are upsides to relocating and I don’t need to worry about the future.

I have to put my trust not in man, or my husband or other people but in God. I know that no matter what happens or where we move He will watch over me and protect me. The best thing I can do when I feel uncertain or overwhelmed is to pray about the situation. Only God can change hearts, or direct others steps. I may have an influence but God has the power to effect His will in our lives.

A man’s heart devises his way: but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I have to leave my anxieties, worries, and questions with God. I have to trust my husband and know that these next steps are what is best for us as a family, although it’s not easy for us, it’s good. As a wife, I want to be supportive of my husband.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phillipians 4:6

I’m not perfect at espousing these truths and sometimes my pregnancy hormones make me cry when I think about all the coming adjustments. Most of the time I am excited and look forward to the future but other times I feel uncertain of this new chapter. I will have family close by so that is a huge blessing for sure.

However, my deepest desire and comfort rests not in man but in trusting God through prayer and dwelling on His word.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
    He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to Him,
    for God is our refuge.

Psalms 62:5-8

3rd Trimester Update

In lieu of being 37 weeks tomorrow (third trimester) and officially early term over preterm, I thought it was time to give one last pregnancy update.

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I was thinking about my third trimester experiences compared to previous trimesters and I think this trimester just may be my favourite. Although at times I feel really uncomfortable, hot, tired and don’t sleep through the night because I’m up to pee around five times a night, I am sort of loving third trimester.

A few reasons why the third trimester has been my favourite are:

I finally look pregnant.

At my last appointment, the midwife noted I have a long torso and therefore I carry pretty small. Yet I’m still within the normal range of measurements at each appointment so there is nothing to worry about. Nonetheless, people have only started recently commenting that I’m finally showing in an obvious way. While I appreciate their comments I’m not bothered that I tend to carry small. As long as my midwife is not worried and I’m continuing to gain weight I’m happy with my bump.

On the plus side, I can still wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and don’t have too much trouble maneuvering around. Although sometimes when I lean forward to grab something my stomach hits the spacebar on my laptop and pauses Netflix :p

We’re almost ready for Baby K to come

In the last few weeks, we’ve set up our crib, stroller and installed the car seat. Plus we’re all registered at the hospital and I completed my breastfeeding class (which I highly recommend, it was so helpful having proper breastfeeding techniques explained and being able to ask questions of the public health nurse). Seeing all these visible reminders that soon there is going to be a baby here with us is a bit surreal!

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I still have to wash all of her clothes, we need blankets and newborn diapers but other than that we have lots of wipes, diaper cream, her bath, baby soap, and lotion among other essentials. I’m feeling mostly ready but I’m waiting till after our shower to see if there are any last minute things we might need.

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Shoutout to my mom for washing Baby K’s clothes for me <3
I can feel big movements from Baby K

In previous trimesters I felt little kicks, jabs, and somersaults from Baby K. Now I can feel her pushing against my stomach. Sometimes I can feel her little foot poking my right side. At other times she makes my whole stomach move almost in waves. It’s so cool knowing she’s growing bigger each day and is almost ready to come out.

Overall this third trimester has gone fairly well, especially considered to the first trimester, I really am feeling pretty good.

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I’m getting really excited to finally meet Baby K but at the same time, I’m anticipating some big changes. At times life feels a little daunting and overwhelming. I know that all these changes are good and definitely things to be thankful for.

Nonetheless having a baby for the first time is daunting because I’ve never done this before. However, I’m thankful to have a lot of support from family and friends.

If you have any tips for being a new mom please leave me a comment below. I am very open to any advice people want to give me, because I am very new at this and want to be prepared as best I can. 

I was thinking about my third trimester experiences compared to previous trimesters and I think this trimester just may be my favourite. Although at times I feel really uncomfortable, hot, tired and don't sleep through the night I am sort of loving third trimester.


For more on my pregnancy and postpartum journey read:
1st Trimester Update
2nd Trimester Update (21W2D)
3rd Trimester Update
Everything No One Tells You About Your First Pregnancy (Part 1)
Everything No One Tells You About You’re First Pregnancy (Part 2)
Baby K’s Birth Story + Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2
Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum
What to Eat While Breastfeeding

I’m Scared to Have the Sex Talk with my Daughter One Day

Can anyone else relate to feeling nervous about the sex talk? With the Whole Story, there is no need to fear. 

I know I’m a long way off from having to answer any awkward questions about sex just yet. Still, the thought of navigating this tricky subject makes me nervous!

As I’ve gone through pregnancy and the closer I get to having my baby the reality of parenting sets in more each day: I am actually going to have to teach this child about life. Right now I’m super focused on preparing to keep her alive. However, I know the infant stage is short and beyond that, I’ll have to learn other practical parenting skills. Like knowing how to teach her about her body and answering the tough questions like “where do babies come from?” and “what’s a period?”.

As an avid learner and a lover of research, I’m always on the lookout for resources from more experienced parents and especially moms on the best approach to teach Baby K about subjects that I’m not sure how to best approach. For me, the sex talk, puberty and growing up are all subjects that seem just a little bit more intimidating than helping with a math problem or teaching manners.

Puberty Was the Worst

To be honest as a child puberty was the worst part of growing up. I couldn’t even say the word “bra” without cringing. Being the oldest girl in my family I had to go through all those awkward changes first. While my younger sister who had no reserve would bluntly ask me the most awkward and personal questions about what I was going through. I found the whole process embarrassing, unpleasant and not something I openly wanted to talk about (even with my mom).

Although I had a few conversations with my mom about puberty, I was also given a book on the changes my body would go through and of course I learned a few things at school. Other than that I kind of just figured things out on my own. I know I wasn’t the only one!

Often times our own parents didn’t receive adequate information, so how are they supposed to know what to tell us?

I’m sure you can relate to not loving puberty and dreading having the “talk” with your own children. It’s not a subject that everyone feels super comfortable broaching.

The Whole Story Can Help

Thankfully things can be different! Plus they don’t have to be awkward either. What if you could approach talking about sex, puberty and growing up with your daughter in a way that is fun and low stress?

Perhaps you’ve heard of popular marriage blogger and speaker Sheila Wray Gregoire from to Love, Honour and Vacuum? I’m excited to share that she has launched a course led by her two daughters (who are the same age as me and my sister) all about puberty, sex and growing up. It’s called the Whole Story: Not-so-scary talks about Sex, Puberty, and Growing Up and it’s an online video course for moms and daughters to learn about puberty, sex and growing up. As followup moms can use the discussion questions to keep the conversation going.

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My favourite part of this course is that it doesn’t replace the mom’s role. Instead, it starts the conversation you may be fearing in a way that is fun, relatable and safe! Plus each video is only 3-5 minutes long.

Let’s face it our kids are going to hear stuff about sex from their friends, school, and the media. Shouldn’t we be proactive and make sure their primary source of information is us as parents? I know that if Baby K ever has any questions about sex or her body I would want her to come to me first. I don’t want her to receive confusing or misinformed information. Instead, I want her to feel comfortable about her body and confident in bringing me her questions.

I may not know where to start in talking about puberty with my daughter when the time comes, but I’m glad to have The Whole Story as a starting point. I wish I’d had something similar available when I was growing up!

The Whole Story: Sex Talk Resource
I also love that the course includes two versions: one for 10-12-year-olds and one for 13-15-year-olds. These age groups have different needs. Younger girls need factual, practical information whereas teens need to discuss and understand the more emotionally driven and nuanced topics like porn, masturbation, and dating.

The younger version covers:

    • her period
  • body changes
  • sex and how babies are made
  • boys and peer pressure
  • taking care of her body

The older version covers:

    • troubleshooting issues with her period
  • relationships with guys
  • how to handle social issues like online bullying, peer pressure, friends
  • honouring God while living in a highly sexualized world
  • styling yourself in a way that sends a positive message

If you’re ready to start the conversation about puberty, sex and growing up with your daughter in a way that is fun, low stress and way less awkward than when we had the talk check out the Whole Story!

Do you have any awkward experiences of going through puberty? 

What do you wish would have gone differently for you when learning about puberty, sex and growing up?


*affiliate link used

Why You Should Actually Say Yes More Often

It may seem counterintuitive but I really think that instead of saying “No” more we need to start saying “Yes”.

Why You Should Actually Say Yes More Often

Why Should I Say “Yes” More Often?

First off life is short. No one knows exactly how many days are left of their life. Therefore we should use our limited time to the best of our ability.

Additionally, we shouldn’t be selfish in how we designate our time. I love this quotation my mom shared with me this past week from Beth Moore: “God what will you have me do today?”. Instead of getting caught up with the stress of life and letting it dictate our day what if we started our day asking what God would have for us? A simple mindset change can make a huge difference in how our circumstances are perceived. Plus when we intentionally look for ways in how God can use us we are less likely to feel like our life lacks purpose. This also leads to more fulfillment and a less self-centred approach to life.

Here are a few simple ways God can use you today:
  • send an encouraging text to a friend
  • bring a coffee to a friend or coworker
  • donate to a cause
  • smile to the people who serve you and be genuinely kind to them
  • give a generous tip
  • be a courteous driver
  • write down what you are grateful for and why
  • pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru
Relationships Matter

Secondly, relationships are the single most important aspect of life. Our number one relationship is with God as He teaches us how to love, forgive and treat others. He teaches us all people are created equal, to love our enemies (how easy is it to just love those that are kind to us?) and to forgive as we have been forgiven. He doesn’t demand us to follow a strict set of rules instead He gently calls us to follow Him as he teaches us how to live an abundant life.

In addition to our relationship with our creator is our relationship with His created-the people around us. Our family foremost, our friends, our church, our communities. Instead of pursuing things and success more than we pursue others what if we made a conscious effort to connect with just one person a week. Personally, I am so bad about this! I haven’t made it a habit to sit down once a week and just text or message someone important to me. I am aware of this and working to reach out to others more often. One benefit of connecting is feeling more fulfilled and it’s important for my mental health.

Plus I want to share my life with others, I want to build a strong community of people who will encourage me and keep me accountable.

What Are We Saying “Yes” To?

Our Marriages + Families

I firmly believe that a strong marriage is the basis of a strong family. Furthermore strong families lead to better societies. When children know their parents love each other they feel safe and secure. Now, this doesn’t guarantee a perfect family but it does avoid a lot of potential problems.

Furthermore, parents are the primary model for their children’s behaviour. I know this may seem intuitive but I see parents all the time who yell at their child for acting out when the parent is almost acting worse than the child. Children will mimic the behaviour they see demonstrated in the home. As a mom to be this really weighs heavy on me as I think about the habits and behaviours I want to work on. Such as complaining less. I find it so easy to see the negative in situations and I don’t want Baby K to be the same. I’m almost at the point where I’m going to write down “complain less” next to “take vitamin” on my refrigerator whiteboard so I don’t forget.

In order to have a strong marriage and family, we have to be willing to say “Yes” to our families desire for relationship.

Just the other day my husband had an appointment in Hamilton and after he was going to a park to play Pokemon Go. He asked me to join him on his trip so that we could spend time together after the appointment. Although Pokemon is not my most favourite activity I said yes. I reasoned that we only have so much time together so why would I say no to spending time with him. However, I also said yes because I wasn’t committed to any other activities for that day.  We have limited time together during the week so I wanted to take advantage of the extra free time we could enjoy together. I am not advocating to be a doormat and always say yes to your husband. I firmly believe in “Courtney time” and “Mike time”, it wouldn’t be healthy if we spent every waking moment together. Yet under the circumstances, it was advantageous for me to say “Yes”. I also know my husband appreciates that I’m willing to join him in an activity he enjoys.

The Little Things

Secondly, it’s important to say yes to the little things. Perhaps your child wants to play a game with you or your sister wants to have a movie night together and buy snacks. The moments I most regret saying no to are others invitations to spend time together. I may feel tired or the activity sounds boring but once I’m doing the activity it often turns out to be more enjoyable than I thought. Don’t be afraid to do things with others that seem silly or a waste of time, because at the end of the day what matters is the precious quality time you were able to spend together.

What Are We Saying “No” To?

Saying yes to a relationship with others means we have to say no to other less important things.

Technology

First off we need to say no to technology. The emails, tweets and Instagram captions can wait. I know a lot of families schedule a period of time where technology is not used.

Activities

Secondly, say “No” to too many activities. Another great tip I’ve heard is for families is to let each child participate in one sport or activity a season. This avoids overwhelming children with too many scheduled items and while allowing for spontaneous family fun. Additionally, parents should be aware of how much time they are committing to volunteering. Even if it’s a ministry activity, the families relational needs should always come first.

Say “Yes” to Quality Time and “No” to Wasted Time

Overall what I’m trying to say is that our time is precious. We don’t know how much time we have with those we love. Although it can be easy to not be intentional with our time it is imperative we make time for relationships.

My challenge to you is to say “Yes” to one thing somebody asks you to do with them this week.

Why You Should Say YES

What are some other things you think we should say “no” to?

How do you intentionally make time for relationships with others?

University Without Debt

Does graduating from post-secondary school without debt sound intimidating or unrealistic to you?

At first, it did to me too. With all the pressure to take out student loans, it seems like the norm is to graduate with at least some debt. However, have you ever considered that there’s another option and it doesn’t include a bunch of scholarships or working two jobs while in school?

It’s a lot simpler than that but it does take planning and intentionality.

Does graduating from post-secondary school without debt sound intimidating or unrealistic to you?At first, it did to me too.

I recently completed my four-year undergrad to achieve a BA in Human Ecology. I finished without any student debt in four years. While living away from home and getting married. Plus I didn’t have to work during the school year.

It is possible to not have student debt hanging over your head when school is over. Wouldn’t it be more advantageous to take the money you’re earning after graduation and save it for a house or car?

Keep reading to learn about the strategies I used to avoid the all too common student debt trap.

1. Work + Save as Much as Possible

The most efficient way to save money is by not spending it. While planning for school start working as soon as possible. I began working part-time in grade 12. I saved my meagre minimum wage paychecks. After a while, I had saved my first thousand, which was a huge milestone for me!

At the same time, I didn’t spend lots of money on clothes, makeup, entertainment or much else. It wasn’t the most fun. However, I had a goal of cash flowing school. My future would be more enjoyable if I made some sacrifices now.

In my final year of high school, I deferred my acceptance to university for one year. During my gap year, I went from a part-time to a full-time position (still minimum wage). Working 40 hours a week I put most of my paycheck into a savings account. At the time I still lived at home so my expenses were very little. My parents also supported my desire to pay for school without debt.

During that almost year of working full time from September to July I saved up enough cash to cover over two years of tuition ($16,000). As a result, I didn’t feel pressure to work part-time during school. Rather I could focus on my academics. I’m grateful I didn’t need to work because to succeed in academics I have to work really hard, the extra time to study was a great blessing.

2. Buy Used: Laptops, textbooks, household items

Laptop

On my first day of classes, the majority of students had shiny, new Apple MacBook Pro laptops. In contrast, I had a white 2010 Apple MacBook. However, I paid $500 for my used laptop off of Kijiji whereas the other students (or their parents) had paid upwards of $1000 for theirs. I’m still using the same laptop four years later and it works great! I’ve never had a problem with it. Plus I saved at least $500 while still getting a quality laptop.

Textbooks

Next, textbooks can be crazy expensive! Some sell for $150-$200 especially psychology ones. If you’re taking 10 classes over the entire year costs add up quick. A great way to save money is to buy used. To find used textbooks try to find the used textbook group for your school on Facebook. It can be helpful to post what books you’re looking for and then consider multiple offers to find the best deal.

At the end of the semester, you can sell your textbooks and hopefully break even or make a profit. Another great option is Amazon, although it’s not always cheaper than the bookstore, you can find good deals on used books.

Another note on selling your textbooks: don’t sell them during buyback days at the bookstore because you won’t get very much for them. It’s a lot more profitable to sell them on Facebook.

If you’re really strapped for cash professors often leave a reserve copy of the textbook in the library that can be checked out to complete each week’s readings. While completing summer school I utilized this option for one of my classes, although it wasn’t convenient I saved $150 for a book I would only use for 2 months.

Household items

Finally, when starting school you may be moving away from home and need some extra things. Instead of going out and buying everything new or at full price take your time and wait for clearance or sales. Since I had a year to prepare for school I was able to stock up on a lot of things I would need over a long period of time. One of the stores in our area closed, and I was able to score a lot of things at liquidation prices.

I also combed thrift stores for kitchen items like a utensil holder, mandolin slicer, and glasses. Additionally, my aunt gave me some old dishes to use. Honestly, when you’re a student it’s not about having nice things, that will come later when you can afford to upgrade.

3. Start Looking For a Summer Job Early

The number one way I have gotten all my jobs is through personal connections. Start talking to people that you know now if their company hires summer students. A lot of companies reserve spots for students entering full-time school in the fall. You could possibly begin working the summer before you start school.

Try your best to find a job that doesn’t pay minimum wage. Since you are only working for about 4 months it is imperative to make as much money as possible. Unless you don’t mind working during the school year. I ended up working in an automotive factory (that my cousin worked at) making double what I did on minimum wage. It was hard work but I had solid 40-50 hour work weeks plus overtime some weeks. As a result, each summer I was able to save enough for tuition plus around $5000 extra.

Thanks to taking a gap year I was already one year ahead on tuition so the money I made in the summer was for next year’s tuition. I had a nice buffer between each year of school and less pressure to have to work during the year. With the extra saving’s I planned on buying a car (with cash) upon graduating.

4. Live Off-Campus or At Home

Living in residence is insanely expensive. Yes it’s convenient and you don’t have to worry about cooking but it’s at least an extra $8,000-10,000 a year depending on where you live and what type of room you have.

If I could have lived at home I definitely would have. Instead, I went to a school an hour and a half from home so I had to move to that city. Thankfully my mom set me up in her friend’s basement where I paid $400 a month all inclusive. All I had was a bedroom, a bathroom and a tiny kitchen. Over 8 months of school I only spent $3200 plus about $30-50 a week on groceries.

Compare that to living in Residence and you’re saving at least $5000 a year! I didn’t have a huge space, but I lived in a safe neighbourhood, I had a quiet space to study, I controlled my food costs and I commuted only  20 minutes by bus to school. Plus I was able to live with a godly Christian woman who actually cared about me.

5. Apply For Grants + Bursaries

A lot of advice tells students to apply for scholarships but I have never had any success in gaining a scholarship so I’m not going to advise that. If you do get a scholarship that’s awesome they are a great way to cover expenses like textbooks.

Instead, I’ve had more success in getting grants from the government. In Ontario, you can apply for OSAP (loan + grant) or 30% Off Tuition (grant). While I was eligible I applied for just the grant portion and received around $1600 for my first three years. In my fourth year, I had been out of school too long and was no longer eligible. Instead, I applied for a bursary through my school and got $1300. I also applied for OSAP but only used the grant portion ($1150) and paid back the loan in full as soon as possible.

The extra cash helped cover living expenses, textbooks and went into savings.

6. Live Frugally

One of the overall points I’m trying to stress here is to live within in your means. If you can’t afford school than work until you can. I know that may seem very counter-cultural especially considering the boost that education provides socio-economically.  It’s better than having debt hanging over your head causing unnecessary stress because you were impatient.

Furthermore, don’t rack up credit card debt because you have to have all the latest makeup and clothes or go out every weekend. Make a budget and stick to it.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard regarding money and the future is from Dave Ramsey: “Live like no one else so later you can live and give like no one else.”. To me, that means suffering a bit in the short term to live financially free and prosperous in the long term.

In the last four years and especially since getting married I haven’t been able to buy all the trendiest clothes, I hardly ever buy makeup, I wear the same shoes every day and I don’t go to the movies or out to eat often. Yes sometimes it’s hard, but at the same time I’m not gaining debt, rather I’m letting interest work for me and building wealth. I know in five or ten years I’ll be a lot better off and won’t be putting my income towards a debt I didn’t need to incur.

Finally, education is a luxury, not a right. I would highly urge anyone considering going into student loan debt to work as hard as they can to save up the cash to pay for each year as it comes. Maybe for you, this means working part-time while in school or taking a semester off. Just remember there is no shame in taking time to work. In the end, you are going to appreciate your degree so much more and you’ll understand that it takes work to earn things. Your future will be so much more secure and prosperous if you make sacrifices now. It’s not easy but the reward is so worth it!

In Summary Remember:

  • Work + Save as Much as Possible
  • Buy Used: Laptops, textbooks, household items
  •  Start Looking For a Summer Job Early
  • Live Off-Campus or At Home
  • Apply For Grants + Bursaries
  • Live Frugally

For all my American friends be sure to check out Rachel Cruze for great advice on college planning and paying down student debt.


Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else