Share Thanksgiving #Halifax!

Hey! Psst. If you’re in the Halifax Regional Municipality, this is for YOU. I need you to read it and think on it. I am calling you to action. I’m challenging you. And if you’re a reader who isn’t in the HRM, I encourage you to keep reading too. Maybe it will inspire you. And who couldn’t use a little inspiration on a beautiful Wednesday?

Have you heard about Share Thanksgiving yet? I wrote about it last year too. Last year it was a national program. This year, unfortunately the national program didn’t happen but that didn’t deter Nova Scotians. Engage Nova Scotia was the driving force being Share Thanksgiving in Nova Scotia last year and they’re doing it again this year. Because Nova Scotians are wonderful and welcoming people, that’s why.

Share Thanksgiving invites newcomers to our province to be paired up with welcoming locals to share in a Thanksgiving meal. It is an absolutely amazing experience that creates friendships, introduces immigrants and foreign students to our culture, and fosters a sense of community.

Dan carving the Share Thanksgiving turkey.

A photo posted by Laura O’Rourke (@lauralorourke) on

Last year, the response was absolutely amazing. We had so many people willing and eager to share their tables and their meals. And while most hosts participated out of a sense of welcoming and kindness and sharing over this holiday of plenty, most hosts actually came out of the experience with a deep sense of blessing and gratitude. I recently spoke with Laura Churchill Duke of Valley Family Fun who is so excited to make room at her Thanksgiving table again. Her experience last year was so positive. She told me that her family knows what it feels like to be welcomed in new places so she is incredibly driven to do Share Thanksgiving.

Last year there were approximately 70 newcomer families who were looking to be paired with Nova Scotians. And Nova Scotians responded just like you’d expect they would – with open, welcoming arms and full tables! This year there are approximately 140 newcomer families. And as Thanksgiving weekend draws close, they are still approximately 15 host families short in HRM.

So, while registration is closed for the rest of Nova Scotia, if you are in the HRM, please consider adding a couple extra chairs to your Thanksgiving meal this weekend. Please sign up ASAP – now – TODAY! – so that the best match can be made. I know that Engage Nova Scotia is hoping to wrap up matching by the end of the day.

As we come up to an election time when politicians are trying to divide us and cause us to be fearful of our neighbour, let’s come to Thanksgiving with open and welcoming hearts. Let’s do what we can to strengthen our communities and be the people that the world knowns Nova Scotians to be. We’re kind. We’re nice. We’re welcoming. And we know how to throw a good dinner party.

Need that link again? SIGN UP HERE to be an HRM Share Thanksgiving HOST!


(This post is not sponsored.)

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Spice Up a Seasoned Marriage with an At-Home Date

Remember back in the summer when we were on vacation and I was spending all my time with my family and my husband wasn’t working and we were in a really good place?

September definitely brings everything back to reality, doesn’t it?

Tonight I looked at the clock and realized that I had been managing children for 13 and a half hours without stopping. And of course, that doesn’t include the four times I was up with the baby during the night before those 13 waking hours began ticking. I got a child to and from school, a husband to and from the bus, I went to the grocery store with two crazy kids and a baby on my hip, I got a child ready for swimming lessons, brought him to swimming lessons, and quite literally held his hand through it (I was wearing jeans.) Then, we came home for dinner, I put the baby to bed (twice) and the big kids to bed (more than once). I debriefed with the husband about his day and then he went to bed and I came here, to my keyboard and my glass of wine.

September is hard, yo. (That turn of phrase might be the wine talking).

I miss the freedom to just enjoy my family. I miss having more control over my time and I miss downtime. I miss long road trips where we have nothing but each other and podcasts and audiobooks to keep us entertained. I miss always having my husband in arm’s reach. I miss going to bed at the same time as him.

I never understood the point of a vacation when you’re a stay-at-home mom. Doesn’t it just mean shifting your resposibilities somewhere else? But I get it now. A vacation is about a changing pace and focusing on relationships. If you can make that happen while still caring for kids, then you’ve figured it out.

If vacation is about slowing down and family time, September has us speeding up and barely finding time for one another.

So the trick, I suppose, is about making time. Except sometimes it feels like you really need some sort of trick to make it work. Is there a magical abracadabra word to make the time, money, and will appear for a time-out together?

Last night’s movie night selfie! #homedate #streamteam #movienight

A photo posted by Laura O’Rourke (@lauralorourke) on

In September we managed to have a home movie date. Well, half of one. And it might have been a bit tense because my husband and I cannot choose a movie we both want to see to save our lives. When we were dating he told me that movie dates were cheating because you didn’t need to talk during it. And apparently that was just as well because now we know how hard it is to choose movies we both like. I’m glad we didn’t base our dating life off of movies because we are not movie compatible. He chooses movies based on ratings only, and rarely pays attention to what the movie is even about. I just want to laugh, because life is hard enough as it is and if I’m going to dedicate two hours of my life to only entertainment (totally unproductive), I at least want to feel good coming out of it. The last time I tried to mix both of our movie-priorities, we went to see the well-rated Trainwreck with Amy Schumer. Dan thought it was aptly named…

Still! Sometimes I need to remember that being productive or insisting on the movie I want to watch isn’t the most important thing.

Ok. Sometimes it is the most important thing. But sometimes… it’s about the time we spend together, regardless of what we are doing or watching. Even if we’re watching a Superhero movie. Even if it is a sequel and my husband is totally shocked that I haven’t seen the first one. Even if our Internet fails us and we only get to watch half of it…

So yes. The date was a bit of a bust. Or maybe it wasn’t. Because it wasn’t really about the movie at all. Right?

Date Night Snacks |

I think one of the ways to really make home-dating work is to make it a bit special. Put it in the calendar so you can’t ignore it. Throw candles on the table if you’re sharing dessert together after the kids are in bed. Air pop corn kernels and laugh together as popcorn flies around your kitchen right before a movie date. Spice up your popcorn with real melted butter and your favourite seasoning, even if your husband hates Dill Pickle (he can have his own popcorn bowl). Drink wine. Whatever you do, be close to one another. Sit within arm’s reach.

And then, even if you can’t believe he turned on a movie that you haven’t seen the prequel to and you know you’d never hear the end of if you had done that to him!… make that reach. Put your hand on his knee or his arm and just let yourself connect.


I am a member of Netflix’s Stream Team and as such I have been compensated with a complementary Netflix subscription and a few other perks and goodies. Like the treats we ate during our movie date. The stories and opinions are all my own and have not been influenced.

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When You Have a Hard Time Letting Go

My baby starts kindergarten tomorrow. Not the real baby, of course. The fact that he sometimes sleeps through the night is a big enough milestone for him. No. It is my first baby. Cameron. The five-year-old. (How the heck do I have a five-year-old?)

Cameron looking at camera

(I mean. Actually how? I am twenty-nine years old. This reality does not compute in my mind when I actaully think about it. A kid in school. Three kids in total. I don’t feel adult enough for this!)

I seriously didn’t think school would be an issue for me. Yes, a year ago I sure freaked out about it. But as the time got closer, I thought I would really celebrate this new chapter in Cameron’s life. He is just such a smart little cookie that school is going to be awesome for him. I’m really excited for him and was looking forward to it.

But now, here we are, in the same week that school starts and, I promised I would never do this, but I just need to pause time and make him my baby again and then hold him tightly and keep him like that for a while. Oh, to kiss those round little cheeks again and to snuggle with my happy little boy who wanted his Mama.

Now, he would just like Daddy to drop him off at school alone, please. (Not gonna happen).

I drive by the school and I feel anxious. Friends post other first-day-of-kindergarten photos and I freak out. I try so very hard not to dwell on the reality because maybe that will keep me a little more level-headed about everything. (Or not.)


My life is full of things I can’t let go of. My husband tells me I have hoarding tendencies. (Wouldn’t it be kinder to just say I am sentimental about things?) Well, if we’re going to be critical, my husband likes to get new things so he has no problem chucking the old. He likes to spend, I like to save, and yes, that means saving everything around the house. What if we need it again? I don’t let go easily.


I will celebrate each new milestone, I told myself. I will enjoy their present, not dwell in the past, I told myself. I will remember that keeping them babies forever would actually mean that something is very wrong, that babies aren’t necessarily easy, that my goal as a parent is to help them grow up, etc, etc, etc.

But I want to hold on. I want to keep him to myself for a little bit longer. I want to hoard his time as he gradually grows up. There are no what if’s. I will never have Cameron-baby, Cameron-toddler, or Cameron-preschooler again.

It is times like these when I realize that milestones aren’t necessarily just new exciting things. They also represent a letting-go. A moving-on.


I recently got an email about what’s new on Netflix – and what is going away. The main thing that caught my eye was that Bubble Guppies will be done streaming on the service by September 22nd. To really understand how hard it is for me to let go, this news legitimately upset me. Bubble Guppies has been a staple in this household for a while. The songs are great. The kids interact with it and learn things. But most importantly, they love the show – especially Gavin. I can still picture him sitting on the couch and singning the Bubble Guppies theme song a year ago, as we were wondering about his verbal skills. As a family, we’re going to a Bubble Guppies live show this fall that I set aside important things in my day to ensure I got tickets that sold out quickly. And so, when I saw that Bubble Guppies will be leaving Netflix, I felt personally attacked. How could you, Netflix?

Except… I’m not quite sure when my kids last asked to watch Bubble Guppies. Sure, not having Bubble Guppies means that Logan won’t get to watch the show, but for my television-watching children now, maybe they’ve moved on without me even noticing it.

Cameron and Gavin at Wedding

Now, all I hear about is Dinotrux. Dinotrux is Netflix’s new animated series about dino-machines. It’s totally brilliant. In the same way that I have always said the creators of Dinosaur Train were geniuses for taking two totally unrelated things that children love and putting them in a show together, Dinotrux has done the same thing, and it is undeniably a hit.

My boys have moved on and I barely noticed it. And it seems as though they won’t notice as a show that we love slips from the Netflix lineup.


I think, maybe, raising children is all about these small little acts of letting go, mostly unnoticeable, in exchange for growth and maturity and new experiences. When the big, noticeable, first-day-of-school type milestones hit, all those things we’ve already let go of start coming into focus. But, let’s not miss what we’re embracing with these changes.

This anxiety isn’t about Cameron. He’s going to rock school. He’s going to love learning and making friends and creating and playing. I have no doubt about it.

When You Have a Hard Time Letting Go |

So, this anxiety is all about me. And I need to let that go.



I am a member of Netflix’s Stream Team and as such I have been compensated with a complementary Netflix subscription and a few other perks. The stories and opinions are all my own and have not been influenced.

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