A Pastel BabyDear Diary

For many years, Mother’s Day was a holiday that made me feel left out, a reminder of everything I wanted and couldn’t attain (take this as a reminder to reach out to friends who are yearning for a child, struggling with infertility, or who have recently lost their moms on May 9th!)

Now that I do have a daughter of my own, I believe more than ever that it’s important to shower the moms and mom-type-figures in our lives with a little bit of extra love one day a year – this job is TOUGH, unpaid, and so often thankless. I’m also a big supporter of any excuse to eat extra special food, and spend time with family, and give gifts!

Gifting is my love language, and though I’ve been slacking on blog gift guides since becoming a mom, I truly love putting them together. This gift guide features so many of my favourite products, and most of them are from Canadian small businesses too! But first…

Pre-done gift sets to consider //

With all the shipping delays and added stress this year, a curated gift set could be the way to go! Four different versions caught my attenton:

The Cross Mom Boxes

I’ve had a love affair with The Cross for so many years, and it’s no surprise their Mother’s Day gift boxes this year check all the boxes for all different kinds of moms. They were kind enough to send me the “Cooking Mom Box“, a sweet little set that includes a ceramic berry bowl, tea towel and beautiful bottle of hand soap. There are four options created to fit any budget and spoil any mom on your list!

The Gift Refinery Spring Box

This Canadian company puts together gorgeous into a seasonal box that’s delivered to you! You can sign up for a whole year, or purchase an individual box to keep or gift to someone else. They were kind enough to send me their spring box and it would make such a perfect surprise delivered to your favourite mama’s door.

Crying Out Loud “Mother of The Freaking Year” Care Package

This awesome box from mental-health focused Toronto store Crying out Loud is the perfect way to remind the moms in your life to take a moment for themselves! Plus a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Mamas for Mamas to support moms and caregivers in need! Find all three options here.

Mother Mother Shop Mama Self Care Bundle

This set is available all year round, but it’s such a good one for expecting parents and pregnant people! They also do an amazing Postpartum Recovery Bundle that’s a must-have for new moms.

Individual gifts //

Find the shopping links here //

1 / Mala Sundays Candle

2 / Land of Daughters Aroma Spray Palo Santo

3 / Mandy’s Gourmet Salads Cookbook – https://bit.ly/3tq0bHf

4 / Bee Friendly Seeds – https://bit.ly/3dpjv24

5 / Bluboho 14k gold Mama Script Necklace (look for a giveaway on my Instagram page this coming Sunday morning!)

6 / Well Kept Safety Razor (Pairs well with their Shaving Oil too!) 

7 / Blume Blue Lavender Blend Latte Mix – https://bit.ly/3doIthM

8 / Pedestal Planter – https://bit.ly/2P0NDaE

9 / Mumgry Peanut Butter – https://bit.ly/3dqtdkC

Ok and just a few more favourites because this is too fun!

The best comfy all-season Lululemon sweatshirt

Organic Canadian-made super soft sheets by Tuck Bedding (my gift to myself this Mother’s Day)

What’s on your list for Mother’s Day gifts this year?

A Pastel BabyDear Diary

I’ve been wishing I had this piece published on the blog for over two years now, so it’s about time I’ve finally done it! One of the best parts of sharing my story so publicly has been the ongoing messages I still receive from others who are considering becoming single parents by choice too. It feels like every other day I’m connecting with new people who have just stumbled across my account and are either seeking advice, or hoping to delve deeper into the details of my story. With every new DM or email I kick myself for not yet having created a resource with all of the information I’ve put out into the world about my experience in one convenient place. So here it is. You’re welcome future Alyssa!

Now aside from wanting to put all of the links related to my story in an updated roundup post, it also felt like a good opportunity to do a little update and circle back to some of my opinions from early on that have shifted over the past two years and nine months (give or take). Like everyone loves to remind expecting parents, there’s no way to know how much having a baby changes everything, and that rule definitely applies to single parents by choice too! Here’s a bit on what I’ve learned, and a touch of advice for those who’d like to take it too.

It’s ok to have boundaries //

When I first started trying to get pregnant, I was so eager to share my story. I felt so empowered and proud of myself for taking my dreams into my own hands, and I assumed my “why” would really resonate with people who had similar dreams. What I didn’t expect was the focus on the “how” that came hand in hand with sharing my news, and as my story picked up steam, the questions only got more personal. Truth be told I was caught totally off guard, like I was being asked to validate my story by proving that I went about getting pregnant the “right” way. When I was open about using a known donor instead of a clinic, the scrutiny only intensified.

Let me be clear – there is no correct way to become a single mom by choice! Whether you purchase sperm and go through a clinic to be inseminated, DIY getting a known donor’s semen into your body with something you read about on the internet (oh hey menstrual cup), or have wildly enjoyable sex with your (consenting!!!) next door neighbour, you are just as much a SMBC as anyone else who made the choice to dive into parenthood without a partner. I recently had a follower ask via DM’s if Summer was actually even planned because I got pregnant outside of a clinical setting, and though I was a bit offended, it solidified the judgement I’d felt in the passive remarks and endless questions I’ve received since announcing my “non-traditional” pregnancy.

In retrospect, I wish I’d kept the door shut when it came to that part of my journey – it felt private and too sacred to share, but I panicked and answered the questions in the moment as best as I could for fear if I didn’t, those asking would assume I was covering up an accident. No one asks heterosexual couples exactly how they got pregnant – imagine asking someone if they needed clinical help conceiving with their husband? Or what position they were in the moment they conceived? You wouldn’t, because it’s private! Just because the way you got pregnant isn’t “the norm”, or wasn’t necessarily with someone you romantically love, doesn’t mean you owe anyone an explanation! Especially because sharing details when a known donor is involved could jeopardize anonymity. When I get similar questions about DIY insemination now I advise doing your own research online, speaking to your doctor, and following one golden rule: whatever way you feel most comfortable getting semen into your body will probably work just fine!

*not totally related but I recently came across this cute new syringe product specifically created for at-home inseminations and I love that a brand is making that route more accessible / acceptable!

You can prepare, but you won’t ever be fully prepared //

This point applies to ALL parents, not just the SMBC / SPBC folks. I did everything I could think of to prep for having a baby, and for the first few months, it worked. Aside from my unexpected c-section, life with a newborn was blissful – I could work whenever I wanted, she slept very well from day one thanks to the SNOO, I was free to go pretty much anywhere I wanted with her strapped into a carrier on my body, she napped on the go when necessary and breastfed on demand.

But once she started moving, so many of my plans went out the window – a lot of the support systems I had carefully put in place fell through and I hadn’t really made arrangements for daycare or a nanny because I didn’t think I’d need it as someone who works from home and has such a flexible job. The reality is, being a mom is a full time job. Period. Even with a career path I had specifically chased because it was so well suited to being a solo mom while still making a living, I learned the hard way how truly impossible it is to work full time and mother full time without some form of childcare in place. I would call this my biggest blind spot when it came to planning for single parenthood, and I’m still struggling to find a balance that works for us (suggestions welcome – I’ve been on a waitlist for the only affordable daycare I could find over a year and there’s still no availability in sight!)

There’s no such thing as “too soon to tell” //

So much about my journey to motherhood was not traditional, but I did stick to the old “wait until you’re out of the first trimester” to share my pregnancy news, and looking back I wish I’d had the bravery to break that taboo. First off, I think it does birthing people a huge disservice to encourage the isolating practice of keeping a pregnancy secret, when that person is likely to need support and understanding, especially in the case the pregnancy doesn’t make it to term. In other words, we don’t expect parents to stay quiet about miscarriages anymore, so why is it still the norm to keep pregnancies a secret “just in case”?

Building on this point, I also wish I’d had the courage to share how much I wanted children before I started trying. As someone who hasn’t had many long term relationships and spent a lot of her time single, I often felt like my desire to be a mom was misplaced because it’s frowned upon to be open about parenting dreams when you’re single, especially in the hetero world. In an effort to avoid being labelled “baby crazy” and turning off potential partners, I mostly kept quiet about how much I wanted to be a mom, and looking back I regret keeping my goals to myself until they were well underway. I say, let’s normalize people, especially young single women, being open about wanting kids without it being attached to the word “crazy” or becoming a deterrent. If it’s acceptable for women to be anything they want, motherhood shouldn’t be an exception to the rule. It should be just as celebrated to talk openly about wanting to be a mom as it is to talk openly about wanting to run your own business, or be a basketball player, or whatever you care deeply about doing!

Acknowledging my Privilege //

I’m constantly learning, and over the past couple of years I’ve re-examined the way I originally discussed my path to parenthood. When it comes to this conversation it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone is able to make this decision, and that I was able to make it for myself from a place of privilege. Yes I worked hard to get here, yes I built my career on my own and saved up to be able to support myself, but that doesn’t mean being white, cisgender, and non-disabled didn’t impact my ability to make this decision in the first place, and that should always have been a part of the dialogue.

Ready for more? Scroll down for every link related to my story that I could find…

Written on this site //

Early days Q+A

Halfway There Pregnancy Update

My Birth Story

Written Articles Elsewhere //

Flare Magazine Announcement

Flare Magazine Dating While Pregnant

Huffington Post Article

FASHION Magazine Interview

Toronto Star Article

Parent Canada

Happiest Baby Blog

Podcasts //

Knix Faces of Fertility Podcast

The Fill Your Cup Podcast

*This one is the most recent interview I did, from Spring 2020!

Other Media //

That time my story was up for discussion on The Social

Global News Mini Video

If I’ve missed anything else, please send me the links in the comments and I’ll add to the list!

Photos by Scarlet O’Neill

Dear Diary

After a strange and exhausting year, most of us are ready to throw in the towel and kick our feet up – but staying home to recharge doesn’t have to mean missing out on the most wonderful time of the year. Instead of getting swept up in the holiday hustle and bustle, I’m focusing on two things: Get cozy, and gift cozy.

Since moving to BC back in March, I’ve learned a lot about getting back to my West Coaster roots, and a big part of that has been rediscovering my love for lululemon! Growing up when the brand first launched, everyone I knew grew up in lululemon leggings because they were comfortable, well made, and designed right here in Vancouver! Turns out while I was away in Toronto growing up, lululemon was growing too, and their stores are now stocked with everything from soft knitwear and luxe sweatpants to velvet tank tops and cute makeup bags (and of course, they still make the best leggings in the business). I have basically lived in lululemon since moving back, so when I started making my Christmas list for the ones I love in BC and beyond, it only made sense to start at my favourite store!

With free shipping and returns on every order, extended gift return options, curbside pickup, and free video chat shopping assistants available to answer any questions you might have about fits and fabrics, lululemon has made it easier than ever to stay home, stay safe, and still get your shopping done. Need to stock up on stuffing stuffers? Shop small gifts here! Can’t spend too much? There are plenty of options under $100 here! Need some inspiration? Just scroll down!

If there’s one thing I love to do, it’s curating gifts for the people I love – I’m not ashamed to admit I’m the person who keeps a gift idea list for all their friends and family year-round! Instead of doing a gendered guide or splitting my picks into personality types, I’ve put together my tried and true favourite items, plus some top picks for my loved ones here in Vancouver (essentially, my Christmas list meets theirs!)

1 // Pink Mittens

2 // Alpine AirKnit Finger Gloves

3 // Alpine Air Beanie

4 // All Yours Fleece Crew

5 // All Yours Tee

6 // Everywhere Belt Bag

7 // Warm Down Jogger

8 // City Sweat Pullover Hoodie

9 // Smooth Seamless Hipster Panties

10 // Flow Y Bra

11 // Align Legging

Other items featured in photos //

Love Crew T-Shirt (shown in “Briar Rose”)

Daily Stride No Show Sock Set

Cates Cropped Tee

At Ease Crew

Perfectly Oversized Crew (shown in “trench”)

5 Year Basic Tee

Baller Hat (shown in “pink pastel”)

This sponsored post was created in partnership with lululemon, but all opinions are my own. #ad

Dear Diary

As someone who prides herself on setting up and shooting a home reveal in record time, I’ll be the first to admit this one was a very slow burner. In the past I’ve rushed to set up a home and take photos before its been really lived in, usually with the help of a professional photographer who can capture the dreamy details in every room, even the ones with tricky lighting. This time around an abrupt move to the other side of the country where I have no photographer pals made me feel hesitant to reveal at all – did I want to share my home when it couldn’t be “perfect”?

The thing is, living alone with a toddler and two pets in a small space isn’t always picture perfect, tidy and styled. This condo is no #HeavenInHighPark, but it’s what works for us right now. No stairs, less square footage and a modern open-concept layout means I can easily keep tabs on Summer, and though it was a battle between my head and heart when apartment shopping, the practicality of something clean and safe beat out my love of older homes that need lots of work (this time around).

With space so much more limited than our last home in Toronto, there was much less in the way of big renovations and much more in the way of meticulous organization in every bit of space. Originally I was planning to wait to shoot and share my reveal until every closet and drawer was a work of organizational art, but I’m not convinced that will ever happen, so here we are!

There were a lot of challenges when it came to setting up this space – because it doesn’t have much room to grow, I knew it would likely be fairly temporary, so I didn’t want to pour myself into big projects or upgrades like I’ve done in the past. I also gained a lot of fresh perspective about “stuff” from living in Vancouver during lockdown with none of my creature comforts. Yes, it was incredibly difficult, but it was also a great lesson on what really matters to us vs. what was just clutter in our closets in Toronto. I made a lot of small practical changes, like swapping out my beloved pink fabric sectional for a faux leather couch that’s much more child-mess friendly, and re-purposing our little CB2 outdoor bistro set as a mini kitchen table instead of spending a bunch on fancy bar stools or an official dining table (let’s be real, we eat sitting on the couch 99% of the time anyway!)

With all of the uncertainty this past year has brought, I’ve learned a lot about finding the beauty in imperfection, and this tour is no different. I don’t know if this space will ever truly feel “done” to me because I don’t plan to stay long-term, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth celebrating the beautiful bits. I was so concerned I couldn’t make a condo feel cozy and colourful, but I’m proud of the way the space came together and how quickly it felt “lived in”. Though you may not be able to see all of the pet hair and cheerio crumbs in these edited shots, I can absolutely assure you this apartment is, more often than not, a bright, beautiful, imperfect mess.

Watch the full video tour on my feed here! Scroll down for still images room by room, and shopping links at the very bottom.

LIVING ROOM //

Chandelier from Make Moves Vintage

Abstract Painting by Veronica Baxter (find her work here)

The BEST Couch by AllModern here

Ikea LACK Shelving here

Rug is old Lulu and Georgia x Claire Zinnecker (similar here or here)

Floor Cushion from Mashi Moosh (similar here)

Coffee Table from Article here

Credenza from CB2 (actually a dresser!) – similar here or here

Planter by Hudson and Oak here

Cactus Silk Throw Pillows from Mashi Moosh (similar here)

Play Structures by Wiwiurka

SUMMER’S ROOM //

Ledge Book shelves by IKEA

River Doll by Wildflower Liberty League

Crib by Babyletto (on sale here!)

Rocker by Nursery Works here

Pouf by Mashi Moosh here

Swing shelf by Winter and Vine here

Change Pad by Bumbo here

Knit Dolls by Cuddle and Kind (similar here)

Mobile by Gisele Blaker Designs (similar here)

MY BEDROOM //

Custom Neon Sign by FUSE Neon

Portal Painting by Rebecca Chaperon (find her work here)

Headboard by Make Moves Vintage here

Linen sheets and bed things by Casper (similar here)

Rug by Mashi Moosh (similar here)

Planter by Hudson and Oak here

Mirror from Alma Home Vintage (similar here or here)

Bedside table by CB2 (similar here)

Ikea LACK Shelving here

Dried florals by Bespoke Blossoms here

Pink Candle by LOHN (sold out RAOP collaboration)

Light fixture from IKEA here

MY BATHROOM //

Compagnie de Provence Marseille Soap here

Perfume tray by CB2 (similar here)

Towels by IKEA (similar here)

Ledge shelf by IKEA

Shower mat by HomeSense (similar here)

Conch Shell (similar here)

Artifact skin and hair products

Pink Light Botanicals products

POWDER ROOM //

Hand Soap by The Bare Home

Towels by Drye (similar here)

Sunset Candle by PF Candle Co. here

Whale Potty by Coco Village (similar here)

KITCHEN //

Mountain Painting by Johanna Martin (find her work here)

High chair by Stokke (similar here)

Bistro Set by CB2 (chairs here and table here)

Pink Mixer by Kitchenaid here

Pink toaster (similar here)

Kettle by Le Crueset here

Nespresso Machine here

Glassware (similar here and here)

Ceramics by Studio Arhoj and YYY Ceramics

Marble pet bowls here

Tea Towel by Ten & Co. here

PATIO //

IKEA Loveseat here

IKEA indoor/outdoor Rug here

IKEA metal Coffee Table here

IKEA Pink Plant Stand here

IKEA Storage Cupboard here

IKEA Rattan Chair (not for outdoors unless covered completely!) here

Shell Pillows by Miss Garden Glory here

Plant pots (similar options here and here)

HALL CLOSET //

IKEA Peg board here

Palm Tree Scratch Post here

Wall decals by Urbanwalls

CREDITS //

I tried to break down the major items in each room or provide links to similar items for one of a kind / older pieces! If I have missed anything leave me a comment here or send me a DM on Instagram.

#ShopRAOPDear Diary

I’m a big dreamer, and one of my most constant life dreams has been to create a custom scent of some sort. As someone with no experience in the olfactory world outside of being an admirer, it seemed a bit far fetched to make a full career pivot, but I always hope the right scent collaboration would come along, and shout out to the universe, it did!

I’ve been a huge fan of Toronto-based LOHN candles for years now. A women owned and operated company, the ladies behind LOHN hand pour their coconut wax candles right around the corner from my old High Park apartment! Every product they create is swoon worthy, from the packaging design and scent notes to the custom risograph printing on their labels. I couldn’t have imagined a better pair to create a candle of my own with, and when they approached me it was seriously a dream come true!

We were originally in talks about this project last Spring, but I was so overwhelmed with newborn life that we decided it was best to push it, and so here we are, launching our limited run of perfect pink candles just in time for Mother’s Day 2020!

Tasked with creating a candle that captured the warmth and love of motherhood, I came up with “Penny“, named for my mom’s maiden name Pennykid. With top notes of black tea and bergamot, middle notes of honey and chamomile, and bottom notes of garden rose, this candle is sweet, delicate, floral and yet so complex. When I sniff it, I can almost feel sunshine on my face and taste a hot cup of Earl Grey tea on my tongue. Growing up, my mom, sister and I would all gather around my great grandmother’s table and share stories, while “Nanny Pennykid” popped spoonfuls of honey into our mouths and topped up our china teacups with Twinings Earl Grey. This candle is dedicated to those sweet afternoons.

The women behind LOHN translated my somewhat vague scent memory so perfectly, and my good friend / fellow mama Paige of Studio Bicyclette took over interpreting my design vision. The final result is a blush pink candle that delights all of the senses, complete with custom printed glass votive that can be used for fresh blooms, makeup brushes or odds and ends long after your Penny candle has burned through.

We’ve only poured 100 of these incredibly special candles, and they’re already selling quickly, so get your order in here! $2 of every candle sold will go to help families at Nellie’s Shelter, and LOHN is even offering contact-free drop offs within Toronto to ensure you get your Mother’s Day gifts on time!

Special thanks to Paige for the photos, and Bille Flower Co. for supplying the photoshoot blooms!