January 14, 2022

A Clean Home by Mad Maids

 Did anyone else get overwhelmed over the holidays with ALL of the things?! From Christmas shopping, to keeping kids entertained, to cooking meals, to trying to keep the house clean, to making memories...it is A LOT and my house was worse for wear by the time the new year rolled around! So when Mad Maids reached out asking if I would like a deep clean of my house in exchange for this review, you better believe I did a little happy dance in my (then dirty) kitchen!

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with Mad Maids, and I was very happy with the cleaning job they did on my house, so I wasn't worried about working with them again. They still continue to work in teams of two, bring their own cleaning supplies and will use eco-friendly cleaners if you select green cleaning on your form. And one of the most admirable parts of their business? For every cleaning job they do, they donate a portion of their proceeds to the World Food Program! 

Booking your cleaning service is super easy as it can all be done online. Pricing is fixed based on how many bedrooms you have in your house and there are no hidden fees. You can book a routine clean, a deep clean, or a move in/out clean. And according to my last blog post from 4 years ago, their prices haven't increased at all! 

mad maids cost

Anyway, getting the house ready for the cleaners was a BIG job. Our home was over due for a huge decluttering and tidying spree. We worked for a solid 3 days before my cleaning team arrived, making sure that the team could focus on deep cleaning and not moving around piles of stuff. At one point my husband thought we were crazy for putting in so much work ahead of time, but I promise it paid off in the long run! And I asked on Instagram if this was normal behaviour before a house clean and I was assured it was 100% normal! You want your cleaning team to CLEAN! Not tidy! 

When Anita and Tess arrived on Tuesday morning, they did a house tour with me and they explained how they approach a room (top to bottom while working in a circle) and pointed out all the things they would tackle - like baseboards, doorframes, doors, windowsills, dusting, ceiling fans, etc. My husband stayed home to work in the office, but Emmy and I left to get out of their hair. 

When we returned home and I walked into our clean home, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Sure, I clean here and there and tackle chores I'd rather not do, but it's very very rare that my ENTIRE home is clean all at once. Actually, it's not even rare, it doesn't ever happen because it would take me an entire day of cleaning without interruptions and that is not happening lol! And there's something really magical and peaceful about having your entire home clean. Especially after the chaos of Christmas holidays. I didn't realize how much of a mental burden an unclean home had been for me. And I'm starting to realize that perhaps budgeting for Mad Maids to come in regularly might be something Jim and I need to seriously consider. 

Also, when you get back home, your team likes to do a walk through with you to explain what they cleaned and to ensure they didn't miss anything. I loved this part because some of the things they did I might not have noticed, but I sure did appreciate! Like dusting the top shelves of our master closet! 

Ok! Let me show you some before and afters! I found it difficult to photograph some of the befores, so just trust me when I say our home was far from clean! 

And some afters!

They even did a sweep of our basement - vacuumed underneath the couch cushions and on top of them, vacuumed the carpets and cleaned the bathroom we have down there!

Amazing right?! I joked that we were going to stay in a hotel that night just so we didn't mess it up right away, haha! 

But it gets even better! Mad Maids wants to give the gift of a clean home to one of you, so head on over to my Instagram page and enter to win one of 4 gift cards! Mad Maids covers Calgary, Edmonton, Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks, Bragg Creek, Chestermere, St. Albert and Sherwood Park, so if you live in one of those areas, go enter! And in the meantime, you can also use my code Brie15 for 15% off any cleaning service you book! Yay for clean homes! 

August 24, 2017

SeaWheeze 2017 Half Marathon Recap

SeaWheeze Race Recap
It's hard to believe that my first half marathon has already come and gone. When I registered for the race (which was the most nerve-racking thing to do ever!), I was still pregnant and I really had no idea how well prepared I would fell for running a half marathon 7 months after giving birth. But, SeaWheeze is one race I've always wanted to do, and I always wanted it to be the first half marathon I ever did. When Becky also showed interest in doing it (also her first half!), I knew we both had to try to get in. We've ran several races together and I knew that in order to complete this race, I was going to need her support during training and the run.

Anyway, the race was on Saturday, but we arrived in Vancouver on the Thursday. I was staying with my sister, and my plan was to leave Emmy with her for the morning and have them meet me at the finish line. Adding to the pre-race jitters, was my anxiety over leaving Emmy for roughly 5 hours. Even though she takes a bottle, there's always that fear that that one time she won't. The afternoon and evening before the race, we just hung out in my sister's apartment. I needed that time to pump a couple bottles for Emmy, and after a total pump fiasco, I didn't get to bed until midnight the night before the race.

Somehow, I managed to sleep well, waking at 5am to eat breakfast, get dressed and then feed Emmy in her sleep one last time. I had called a cab when I woke up to pick me up at 5:40am to take me to the Sea Bus and of course the cab was not there when I stepped out of the apartment. Instead, I was greeted by a skunk sauntering down the sidewalk! Thankfully he disappeared into a hedge, and after two phone calls to the cab company (they got the street wrong by one number), I made it to the sea bus just in time!

SeaWheeze Recap
I briefly met up with Ange, Lindsey, Chad, Mary and Becky, grabbed a group photo, used the porta potty and then Becky and I made our way into the corrals. We were warned by our friends not to start too far back regardless of our perceived pace because it could take up to an hour to cross the start line otherwise. We lined up with the 2:20 pace beavers (wishful thinking for sure!), and two feet in front of me, I spotted my friend Natalie from Edmonton! What were the odds of finding her in a sea of 10,000 people?!

SeaWheeze Half Marathon
{hi natalie!!}
I honestly wasn't really nervous at all waiting to get started. I went into this run with a very open mind. I knew my training was lacking, I knew I wasn't really physically ready to run a half marathon with a great time and I knew that since it was my first time, I truly didn't know what to expect. I chose to cling to all of the optimistic advice I had received leading up to the race that it was going to be fun no matter what (debatable), that is wasn't really a "race" (um, also debatable), and that there were going to be so many other people walking it (not really - I think I was honestly expecting to see droves of people walking!). Sometimes I will grasp at any ounce of hope to make myself believe I will be OK.
SeaWheeze Half Marathon Review
SeaWheeze start line
Knowing that my training was weak, I was prepared to run the race alone even though I originally had hoped to run it with Becky. We did decide to start off together though, agreeing that at anytime she could move on without me. I do regret not getting in more training runs. Becky and I run a very similar pace and it's definitely nice to run beside your friend. We talked about running 10 and 1 intervals so as not to burn out too soon. But our start felt strong and we ended up running the first 6km straight before taking our first walk break.

I chose not to carry any water with me, but I did have a granola bar in my pocket for fuel if needed. I was really impressed with the frequency of water tables, which also offered Nuun water and GU gels. Some stations even had half bananas. There were also porta potty's at every station, but the lineups were huge! Thankfully, my stomach didn't bother me at all during the race.

After we ran down the Kitsilano bridge and hit the turnaround, I decided to walk back over the bridge since it was a steady incline and I knew it would kill my hip flexors and quads if I ran it so early on in the race. This was around kilometre 10, and I was still feeling pretty good. Thankfully, I was able to catch back up with Becky for the next few kilometres.

When we came upon English Bay, this is when the pain started to really set in. Around this time, we saw the electronic sign where family and friends could post encouraging messages for us to see. Jim had already texted me to say he couldn't figure out how to send one, so I wasn't expecting to see anything for me, but then a message from Ange popped up and I almost cried! It was seriously just the pick me up I needed. Shortly after this, around kilometre 13, I could feel that my sports bra was causing some serious chaffing right below my breasts. I decided to stop at the medic station for some vaseline and a bandaid and then used the flush toilets that were on the beach. Becky went on ahead without me and that would be the last time I would see her until the finish line.
SeaWheeze half marathon
By this point, my hip flexors and legs were screaming mad. I wasn't sure how I was physically going to be able to finish. It was a tad frustrating because my lungs and cardio felt so good! But my legs just weren't conditioned enough. I feel like I still maintained a slow jog for the majority of the rest of the race, but there were definitely a lot of walk breaks too. It was actually easier to keep up a shuffle, rather than go into a complete walk. I basically did whatever I needed to do to just keep moving forward. Thankfully, there are a lot of fun cheer stations throughout the course to pass the time! I actually didn't put my earbuds in even once and ran the entire race music/podcast free. I just focused on the task ahead and the scenery around me.
SeaWheeze Half Marathon Review
SeaWheeze Run review
SeaWheeze cheer stations
SeaWheeze seawall run
Somewhere between kilometre 16 and 17, right before I was about to run under the Lion's Gate Bridge, I spotted Becky in the far distance, but I texted her saying I would never catch up to her. Knowing she was still pounding the pavement, and wanting so much to be able to see her at the end, I kept on moving. Looking back, I'm not even sure how I willed my legs to keep going. The pain was unlike any I have ever felt in them. When I neared the last few kilometres, the 2:50 pace beavers caught up to me and my goal was to stick with them. While I didn't have a finishing time goal, I knew I wanted to come in under 3 hours.
SeaWheeze half marathon review
mermaid cheer station during SeaWheeze
The last kilometre was the absolute worst (as I find it is for any race). That one kilometre always feels like ten, and with all the winding we did during the last one in this race felt endless. The tears started to build up at this point - tears for the pain, tears for actually accomplishing this, tears for not giving up. While shuffling to the finish line, someone in the sidelines yelled out that there was only 500m to go, so I pushed through the pain and ran as hard as I could (which wasn't that fast given my state), but it felt good to give that last bit of my first half marathon every ounce of being I had left.

It's never felt so good to receive a race medal! And despite being bummed that I hadn't been able to cross over the finish line with Becky, I was so happy to see her face. My official time was 2:59. When the 2:50 pace beavers caught up to me, I wasn't thinking about the fact that they would have crossed the start line after me, making them faster than I was. I was SO thankful that I pushed just slightly ahead of them near the end as I would have been so disappointed to have finished at 3:01 or longer!
First Half Marathon review
I found the finish line overwhelming and chaotic. It's a narrow space and after getting your medal, grabbing water, sun glasses and a Vega protein bar, you're immediately corralled into the long line up to collect your free brunch. At this point, I was texting with my sister who was struggling to leave her place with Emmy to come meet me. I was exhausted and didn't want her to arrive only for me to be stuck somewhere in the brunch line, so I made the hard decision to ditch Becky and head back to the Sea Bus to get home to Emmy and my sister.

In hindsight, heading back to her place right away was the best decision to make. It' was so crowded, and by the time Becky and I finished the race, all of our friends had already left so there really wasn't much point in sticking around. Leaving when I did also ensured that I received my Saje finishers gift, which I wanted way more than the free brunch! I thought it was odd that the Saje gifts weren't handed out at the finish line though, and then I heard that some runners didn't get one because they ran out. Not cool, since I witnessed a few runners asking for an extra for "their friend who ran but was waiting over there".

SeaWheeze Race Swag 2017
{SeaWheeze race swag}
The walk back to the SeaBus was long and painful. Every step I took was felt in every inch of my body. I have to be honest and say I never felt that "runners high" that made me think I would want to do that again. I was damn proud of myself for finishing, but in that moment all I wanted to do was have a nap. But the race was over a week ago now and I often wonder would I do it again? Knowing what I know, it's tough to say! I feel like I can only improve on the next one, but I also don't know that I have it in me to fully dedicate myself to the training schedule unless I had a running buddy.  Your first half marathon is hard because you just don't know what to expect. But your second will also be hard because now you do know what to expect. I loved this race though and everything that went on along with it. The route is beautiful, running at sea level is great, and there is so much going on the day before and the afternoon/evening after the race. I do think if I was to do another half marathon, I would want to do this one again. Except next time I would fully embrace the entirety of it, something I didn't get to do this time around.

For now though, I'm just happy to be able to say I'm finally a part of the half marathon club!

SeaWheeze 2017 Race Recap
{because I took off so quickly, we never got an post race photo taken together,
so we had Jim snap this one of us at the airport when we arrived home}

If you've run a half marathon, I'd love to hear what your first one was like! 

August 18, 2017

SeaWheeze 2017 Weekend Recap

Last Thursday, Emmy and I hopped on a plane and flew to Vancouver to see my sister and to run my very first half marathon, SeaWheeze 2017! When I first registered for this race 9 months ago, I was still pregnant, and I had no idea what this weekend would look like: would I go alone, would the whole family travel with me, would I bring Emmy along? When I booked my flight, I booked it as if I was bringing Emmy along just in case, but there was a time I was hoping I would be able to go out there solo. As the weekend drew nearer and nearer, I knew there was no way I could leave her at home. For one thing, I'd miss her too darn much! But she's also exclusively breastfed, and while she will take a bottle of expressed breastmilk, the idea of having to pump all of that milk beforehand, and then continue to pump while I was in Vancouver, just made no sense at all to me.

I'm glad she came with us though! We stayed with my sister in North Van and it was so great to catch up, hang out and have a mini girls weekend. Of course, some of that fun was interrupted by my race, but overall, I had such a fun weekend in one of my favourite cities to visit! My only real regret is that I barely took any photos during the whole weekend! I'm not even sure why, but I wish I had at least taken more of myself with my friends.

But let's back up...
On Thursday, my mom and Sully dropped Emmy and I off at the airport where we met up with Becky. She was on the same flight as us, which was super helpful when you are trying to get through security and into your seat on the plane! Emmy was a fantastic little traveller and slept the entire flight. When we arrived in Vancouver, Lindsey and Chad were waiting for us (they got in 30 minutes before us), and they helped me with my luggage as we navigated our way to the skytrain and into Yaletown where we stopped for beer and lunch.
Yaletown, Vancouver
Yaletown, Vancouver
Since my sister had to work that day and rush hour traffic is crazy, Emmy and I spent the day downtown with Becky. After lunch, we headed to Becky's hotel room where she had a nap. Then we met up with some other runners for dinner at Milestone's and once we got back to the hotel, my sister was there to pick us up.

On our way to her place, we stopped in at my aunt's for a quick visit and Emmy slept through the whole thing.

Friday we slept in a bit before making our way back downtown to pick up my race package. Since we arrived late, we met up with everyone for lunch outside. Of course, not one person thought to take a group photo! But it was so nice to catch up with Kaella and Tawnya at lunch since I don't get to see them in person very often. After a delicious lunch, I went and got my race package and then we quickly checked out the exclusive Lululemon store since there was no longer a line. It was pretty picked over, but I was not impressed with anything that was left. Our race packages were nice though! A drawstring backpack, a Lulu water bottle, nuun tablets (not pictured) and a coupon for a free coffee. I was disappointed to find out that we aren't given race bibs as I like to save those.
SeaWheeze 2017 Weekend Recap
We headed home to just relax for the rest of the day since I knew I needed to pump some bottles for Emmy to have while I ran my race. When I pulled my pump out, I realized I had somehow forgotten the tube that connects the pump to the bottle. Oh boy. We quickly walked over to the Shoppers and then the London Drugs, but neither had the part so I ended up having to buy a manual pump. Of course, once we got back home I was too stressed to pump any milk and I actually thought I might not be able to do the run if I couldn't get a bottle pumped! Thankfully, we put on a movie and I tried to relax and eventually I was able to pump enough milk. Phew!! Talk about a stressful evening before a race.

Saturday I was up at 5am to get ready for the race, but I will recap that in another post!

After the race was over, I headed back to my sister's apartment where we napped, hung out, showered and got ready to have dinner over at my aunt's place. My cousin Lauren also joined us, and we had a fun evening of eating dinner outside, catching up, and drinking far too much prosecco! We made it home around midnight and I literally fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Weekend in Vancouver
Sadly, Sunday I had to be at the airport for 11:30am, so we didn't get much time to hang out with my sister. In hindsight, had I just decided to bring Emmy at the beginning, I could have booked a later flight in the day, or even stayed an extra day or two. The visit was far too short and I was so sad to say goodbye to my sister again. Emmy was a rock star on the flight home and again slept the whole flight. The good thing is, knowing what a good little traveller is, we will be back to visit as soon as we can!

Tell me: What's your favourite city to visit? Any night before race mishaps you'd like to share?!