Hillcrest Glow Up

Since moving to Richmond Hill, Alivia and I have spent lots of time at Hillcrest shopping, walking and napping. The mall is currently going under a $90M renovation that includes a cosmetic face lift to the interior, updated modern entrances and a slew of new stores. Hillcrest’s transformation began in 2015 with the expansion of The Bay and the opening of Sporting Life and H&M. Today, the mall is already home to some of my favourite stores like Aritzia and Miniso. Tomorrow, there will be even more to love and I am seriously worried about my shopping budget.

Disclaimer: Behind the scenes tour of Hillcrest was organized by Matte PR. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine.

At the beginning of September, I had the opportunity to tour the new north wing, which will house HomeSense, Marshalls, Old Navy and Indigo. HomeSense and Marshalls opened on Sept 18 with Old Navy to follow in October and Indigo in November. Being a true pillar of the community, Hillcrest will be hosting a donation drive collecting housewares, toiletries, clothing and toys for Sandgate Women’s Shelter in support of domestic abuse survivors. Donations will be accepted from September 22nd to October 5th at the centre court display setup in partnership with HomeSense.

Another newly opened store I love is Westcoast Kids, which carries the cutest and some of my favourite baby brands like Uppababy, Louloulollipop and Babybjorn. They also host great events for parents like sleep clinics, product launches and CPR classes.

Also, Uncle Tetsu just opened!

Our tour ended with a visit to the Hillcrest honey bees, who live on the mall’s rooftop. The two hives produce honey flavoured by the neighbourhood and changes every year. We had the chance to get up close with the bees and taste the fresh honey.

Hillcrest’s transformation ensures that they remain the shopping destination in Richmond Hill and even beyond. I’m excited to see how the space continues to grow and what else is in store.

(Photos by @kaileemandel)

Hillcrest Glow Up
Hillcrest Glow Up
Hillcrest Glow Up
Hillcrest Glow Up
Hillcrest Glow Up
Hillcrest Glow Up


Happy 6 Months
Seemingly overnight, Alivia is 6 months old and I’m halfway through my maternity leave. Ok, not quite overnight but the weeks have flown by. I have a new understanding and belief in the phrase, “the days may be long but the weeks are short”. That’s how I feel every month as Alivia becomes more mobile and more interactive. Today, it was easy to write about Alivia, the words kept flowing and I could have continued for pages about her developing personality. I had a harder time writing about myself, because I feel stagnant. While she’s growing and changing, I’m not. And I wish I was.


Mind: Some days I feel like I could be a stay at home parent and love it. Other days I just want to hide in my room, alone. I don’t miss work and being quite the introvert I don’t miss the daily adult interaction either. I do miss feeling of being productive and accomplished. Oddly enough, the days I feel most balanced are the ones when it’s just Alivia and I. On those days I’m more focused, more task oriented and more mindful of my time. On days when I have help I feel listless and unmotivated, like I should be doing more than I am.

Body: The scale is moving so very slowly. I was worried that lowering my calorie intake too much would affect my milk supply. I think I’ve found a happy spot, now if only I could stay under it after months of bad habits. I’ve also upped my exercise more, which to be honest I should have done a few months ago. It is disheartening to see other moms in such great shape while I’m still 15 lbs over my pre-Alivia weight and 25 lbs away from where I’d like to be.

Balance: Going into my maternity leave, I had planned to devote the first 6 months 100% to Alivia and incorporate more self-care the second half. Now that I’m here, prioritizing myself more feels overdue. I don’t feel like I’ve lost my own identity, but I don’t feel like myself yet either.


Milestones: Alivia’s mastered sitting up all by herself and hasn’t toppled over in days. She’s doing her best to crawl and have figured out her leg movements but not her arms. There were a few weeks where she did the most adorable butt wiggling. Then scooting backwards, which resulted in lots of frustration as she got further away from her targets. Lately, she’s been perfecting her downward dog pose. I’m not ready yet for a fully mobile Alivia.

We’ve started solids at 5 months! So far, Alivia’s showing a odd preference for green foods (avocado, zucchini, peas) and not so much the orange ones (carrot, sweet potato). She’s tried apple and peach as well and seems to be loving fruit. Also, a total carnivore. I just introduced proteins this week and it was the first time I saw her smile with a new food. She’s also showing much more interest in feeding herself the past week and working on her finger dexterity to pick up foods. Now at 6 months, I’m hoping to transition away from purees and into table foods.

There’s so much learning and new vocabulary to being a new parent.

Sleeping: Both Alivia’s naps and overnight sleep has gotten much better. I feel like we’re making progress to better sleep for all of us, but it’s slow going. I haven’t felt the need to sleep train yet and I’m still bed sharing while Stephen has his space in the guest bedroom.

Win, we’ve managed to establish a consistent bedtime routine that does not include nursing to sleep! We’re attempting pick up/put down and Alivia’s getting better at self soothing. This week, she’s getting better and better at falling asleep by herself. Only one night of sleeping through though. But now I know she can.

Not Win, 99% of the time, she’s still waking up 3-4 times a night. I’m trying to limit overnight feedings to maximum 2 times. The plan is to move her to her crib after our trip in September.

Naps have become more consistent and longer, but I still nurse her to sleep. I am now usually able to sneak away.

Play: I have a hard time with playtime when it comes toys and I’m always wondering if she’s bored with her toys and what kind of toys to get her. Alivia loves her shakers now and to interact with her toys, mainly to chew on them and bang them around. She loves being read to, being swung, checking out her reflection in the mirror and watching bubbles.

Alivia’s all signed up for swimming lessons and we have our first trip booked for September! Stephen has a work trip to Seattle and I’ll be tagging along to visit friends. It’ll be an adventure for sure. I’ll also have a few solo days with Alivia in the city, any and all tips welcome!

Happy 6 MonthsHappy 6 MonthsHappy 6 Months


Melitta Pour-OverDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Melitta Canada. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine and not indicative of the opinions or positions held by Melitta Canada.

I am not a morning person. Regardless of when I went to sleep the previous night, 8pm, 2am, my natural waking time is 9:00am and I often don’t feel awake until 10am. This, of course, isn’t functional for most of day-to-day life, which is why my cup of morning coffee is a necessity. When I went to work, I would alternate between splurging at coffee shops and using the kitchen coffee machine. At home, I’ve gone through a handful of coffee making methods from drip to single-use pods to instant. Now with Alivia in the mix, and often less than optimal sleep, my coffee ritual has become even more sacred.

Our newest appliance is the Melitta Heritage Series Pour-Over™ Coffeemaker in pastel pink, which comes with a porcelain Pour-Over™ Coffeemaker and a 20oz carafe. Stephen and I have been using the set on weekends for a while now and it brews the perfect amount for two.

Although I’ve been making coffee at home for years, I never knew the importance the filter played in the process. Since inventing coffee filters in 1908, Melitta has only improved over time. Their filters are made from a bamboo pulp that absorbs the bitter oils and acids during the brewing process resulting in a smoother, richer cup of coffee. The cone filters also have micro-perforations that help extract more flavour and are guaranteed never to burst with double crimped edges. Brewing with the Pour-Over method and Melitta filters will help any brand of coffee taste better.

I loved how quick and easy the Pour-Over™ method was to use, great in my current sleep-deprived state, and with minimal cleanup, amazing when Alivia’s calling for attention. Just put in a filter, add fresh coffee grinds, and pour hot water. I’m sure Stephen and I still have a ways to go before we perfect our pour, but even with our amateur technique, the result is a solid cup of joe. The design of the carafe spout also helps prevent dribbles and the pastel pink colour is so pretty.

Melitta has been in Canada since 1960 and has just launched their new online shop, which contains all the #MelittaPourOver equipment and beans needed to brew a perfect cup of coffee at home. The new website has more information about the Pour-Over method, tips on how to brew a better cup of coffee at home, and even coupons. There is also a subscription program that allows subscribers to save up to 7.5% on Melitta coffee products and delivered right to their doorstep.

Visit https://shop.melitta.ca/ today and use promo code Xiao15% to save 15% on your purchase! #pouroverisbetter
Melitta Pour-Over


Happy 3 Months

I started this post on Alivia’s 100 day celebration and hopefully it only takes a few attempts to complete. It’s impossible to write an entire blog post in one sitting these days, but now that Alivia’s hit the 3 month mark and finished her growth spurt (*fingers crossed*), I have a bit more time in between her meals. It’s been a nice change.


Mind: Win, I feel like I know what Alivia wants most of the time. We’ve been very lucky to have had help from my mom and mother in law since Alivia’s birth but I’m feeling more and more confident in my own mommy skills every day. There may be some dirty dishes in the sink and dinner might be takeout pizza, but I’m not worried about taking care of Alivia by myself.

Not win, nursing still feels like a chore. Alivia nurses so much faster, but still frequently, especially during growth spurts. By the end of the day if she’s fussy with her bottle and bedtime, I get incredibly irritable at losing the little alone time I have after she falls asleep.

I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that being a mom isn’t a 9-5 role, but 24/7. I naively thought I’d be more productive on my mat leave. Ha.

Body: The past month, I’ve started focusing more on my food intake now that my milk supply seems to have settled. I’m loosely calorie counting and the scale’s started to budge! 5 pounds down, 25 to go. I’ve also started Mommy and Baby yoga and am dutifully taking Alivia on her daily walks. Every body part still jiggles quite a bit, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Balance: Win, finally got a haircut. Not Win, I grabbed dinner with a girlfriend just blocks away and Alivia had a bit of a meltdown. I haven’t missed a bedtime yet but have several events planned next week without her including a dinner downtown. *Fingers Crossed* I won’t cancel last minute from mom guilt.


Milestones: I’m amazed by how much she’s changing and learning everyday. It seems like every time I look away and look back, she’s picked up a new skill. Right now, she’s trying her best to roll over and I often find her on her side. Her two hands are her favourite chew toys, with a distinct preference for her left fist. She hasn’t found her thumbs just yet.

I’m trying not to track milestones too closely and just enjoy her development without pushing. The tiger mom claws are starting to come out already, I’m trying my best to keep them filed down.

Social: Since she’s learned to smile, Alivia loves to show off her gums. She’s laughed out loud a few times, but it’s not consistent yet. She’s just learned to squeak and squeal last week and between the two sounds, her raptor impression is impressive.

Sleeping: We’ve still had no luck introducing her to a pacifier, which means I end up nursing her to sleep a lot. On one hand, it’s easy. On the other, only I can do it and some days I feel pretty touched out. Although I’ve been able to read more books in the past 3 months than I have in the past few years.

Play: Her favourite play activity is to be swung back and forth or up and down, a great workout for my arms.

With the summer warming up, I can’t wait to take her on her first cottage trip and her first trip to the pool.
Happy 3 MonthsHappy 3 Months