Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Dairy & Soy Battle Continues

This morning little E had his long-awaited appointment with the allergy specialist. She performed the same prick tests she did in May 2010 and there was a slight change. He showed a reaction to dairy which he hadn't last time (because he didn't show anything last time she said he probably had a mild protein allergy that he would grow out of).  This time, she called his reaction "borderline"  because the little red bump on his arm was only 3 x 3mm.  Either way, she said that at 2 years old he should be showing progress and it seems that his reactions are getting worse.  In this case she has referred us to the Gastroenterology department at CHEO since most of his symptoms are gastro related and which means we will need to wait even longer to get to the bottom of his issues.  

The allergy specialist still thinks that he has a protein allergy and that he will grow out of it.

The last time I trialed little E with dairy was in Dec 2010 and he had the worst of his reactions.  I am going to continue his non-dairy diet until our new appointment.  Soy, however, I may give a try again.  The allergy specialist told us that he shouldn't have reactions to soy lecithin in foods - which he clearly did.  The prick test today didn't even show the slightest inkling that he may be allergic to soy.  So it could be an extremely mild case or he could have grown out of it.  I think I will do a trial next week.

We also talked about lactose intolerance and she gave us some handouts. We told her about Hubby's trial and that he has the same reactions as little E.  Basically she told us that the quickest and easiest way to find out if Hubby has lactose intolerance is for him to drink lactose free milk.  If he doesn't have a reaction - he has lactose intolerance.  If he does - he has a dairy allergy or another gastro issue and we will need to get to the bottom of this. 

She also asked us about a history of celiac disease in the family.  We did not know of any history.  I've read more about this and it's relation to dairy since coming home and I have found that untreated celiac disease can cause damage to the intestines and can cause a lactose intolerance. Hmm.

Lactose free milk for Hubby.
Soy milk for little E.
Gluten free diet for Hubby? (Definitely will get on him to make a doctor's appointment now.)

There is a lot more to look into and so it continues...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {And the little one said...move over!}

We have been having a hard time getting little E to go to sleep in his bed the last couple weeks.  I wished Hubby good luck before leaving for my soccer game on Monday evening and sure enough came home to this bedroom scene.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Moving & Purging

Two weeks ago I got the spring cleaning itch and did a big purge.  A week later was when I got the call from our landlord.  I guess it was perfect timing.

So we are moving - in 2 months. We have been in our current place for 3 years and have really enjoyed it here.  We were planning on staying here for another year or slightly less, but our landlord has decided to sell.  So rather than moving on our own terms we are being pressured to move.  It's too bad and we have nothing against our landlord.  She has been great and really liked us at tenants, even offering us lower rent each year to encourage us to renew our lease.

I have already done a couple runs to the clothes donation drop box and dropped boxes off at the Thrift Shop. Where did all this junk come from!

Hubby comes from a "chuck it" family who rarely saved items unless extremely sentimental. I come from the opposite. Our closets were full of clothes we grew out of to be passed down to the next sibling in line. Gift boxes, wrapping paper, toys - you name it, my Mom had a place for it in a closet somewhere. So with every item I need to carefully consider it's use in my future. 

I find it's easier and more motivating when you are moving.  Instead of thinking, "Will I ever use this?, I think, "Do I really want to move this?"

I have also decided to get rid of a couple pieces of furniture that I know I don't want to take with us and have listed them on Kijiji. 

The next big thing is WHERE ARE WE GOING TO MOVE? This is pretty scary.  We are not really ready to buy.  We were hoping for another year of saving.  We don't really want to rent again, but it may be something we need to do. 

We are both leaning towards the outskirts of the city.  Right now we are just dreaming until we get the ball rolling with a mortgage approval, etc.  Hopefully we can find something with the right price and where all the stars align. 

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dinner Diaries

Plain and simple...this is what we are eating this week!

Monday - We were lazy after a busy weekend and ate out tonight
Tuesday - Chicken with mushrooms, brown rice and asparagus
Wednesday - Tex Mex Shepherd's Pie with corn and black beans
Thursday - Home made pizza and salad
Friday - Vegetarian pasta sauce (frozen from last week) over whole wheat pasta

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fancy That! Friday

Here are some things that either caught my eye or got me really thinking this week...

What's your take on the new car seat regulations?  Little E is almost two so I am not worrying about it now...but I think they are going to have to start redesigning car seats.  We moved him around at 13 months because he was getting so tall that his legs were really cramped which was making it really uncomfortable for him.

Little E is fascinated by You Tube videos of animals lately.  His favourite are of crocodiles, cows and spiders.  The only problem is with You Tube there are a lot of inapproprate videos for children.  Crocodiles viciously eating other animals, people screaming over a spider and cow tipping are things I don't really want him to see.  I found this link for Zui Tube through Twitter and it is great alternative!

Do you have a lot of stuff? I've been de-cluttering like mad lately, but there is still a lot to go.  Spring is a perfect time to ship out your clutter and I'll be working really hard on this in the next couple months since we will be moving (more on this topic later, sigh).  I was talking to my sister  the other night and she told me she is working on the whole minimalst thing.  Her friends are all buying the newest gadgets and she seems to be regressing by getting rid of things like her cell phone.  I like it.  I can relate to this article on being a minimalist mom and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Hubby is obsessed with sushi lately and I came across this recipe to make my own. I think I may have to try it even though I'm not a huge fan.  To his surprise, not even a fancy lunch date at a sushi place won me over.

This article was a gentle reminder to be a mindful parent.

The Pregnant Chicken did it again.  Last time it was weird maternity photos, this time she showcases the oddest and creepiest baby shower cakes.  Hilarious.

What jumped out at you this week?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Cleaning brought to you by Vinegar

Growing up on the farm, we used vinegar as a household cleaner mostly for glass and windows.  The smell of it instantly brings back memories of cleaning inside and out of the farm house windows and my Mom teetering on the ladder on the other side.

When I was pregnant with little E I became more conscious of the toxins in our house and the first thing to go was household cleaners.  I started using brands like Green Works and Method.  Now I use Nature Clean for dishes, but for my everyday all-purpose cleaner I use vinegar. 

I picked up a couple of spray bottles from the dollar store and filled them 1/2 with water and 1/2 with vinegar.  I keep one bottle in the kitchen for the counter tops and all purpose cleaning downstairs.  I keep the other bottle in the bathroom upstairs and also use it after showering to spray down the shower walls and curtain to prevent mold and mildew.

I remember purchasing a ton of cleaning products when I moved away from home for the first time.  It's funny how I have come back full circle again.  My Vim and Windex (and their expensive prices) days are long gone.  A 4 L bottle of vinegar costs me somewhere around $3 and when diluted with water I can get many spray bottles worth.  How's that for saving money and not to mention, my family's health?

Another thing I axed when little E was born was plug-in air fresheners.  To be honest, I used to be obsessed with them. It was hard letting go with a dog and smelly hockey equipment in the house, but I've found an even better solution.  A coworker once told me she boiled her brussel sprouts in water and vinegar and it gave me the idea to research vinegar as a natural air freshener.  Turns out a pot of water, vinegar and some cloves on the stove does wonders for a clean refreshing smell when the dinner smell is lingering.  It worked especially well for fajita night and to remove that Lonestar smell from our small house that seemed to creep into our clothing and bath towels. Yuck. So say goodbye to toxic Glade, Air Wick and Febreeze!


I've only recently discovered the use of vinegar as a fabric softener.  Although, I have tried to stay away from using dryer sheets for little E's clothing, I wanted to remove them all together in our house.  1 cup of vinegar goes in the washer and seems to be doing the trick.


And how about 2 weekends ago when little E and I came back from the farm smelling like a skunk? A little extra vinegar went into the wash with our clothes and blankets and the smell vanished. A skunk is living under my parents veranda and got into a tiff with a barn cat - it sprayed late one night before we went to bed and the smell lingered around the farm for hours.  We thought we were safe until we returned to Ottawa and realized every thing smelled like skunk!

There are many other items I use, like baking soda and cornstarch.  For a full list of natural cleaning ideas, check out the City of Ottawa's website under Safer Alternatives for Household Products.

Happy Spring cleaning!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Me, Aself and Mine

I'm sure my mother grumbled under her breath that she wished I would have a child like myself some day.  Stubborn and maybe a little too independent for my own good.  Well, lookie lookie here.

We are a little less than a month away from little E's 2nd birthday and I am getting a real taste of his terrible two's lately. 

The last two months, words have been flying out of his mouth.  Most of these words are of power and control, independence and stubbornness.

He wants control the moment he wakes up besides calling for me to come get him out of bed. 

I sleeping he says when I ask him if he's ready to go to day care.

Aself! he says when he wants to do something on his own.

He is definitely my son. 

Lately, he is using all of my best tricks against me.  When he whines about wanting to do something, I tell him we will do my requested task FIRST and then he can do what he wants.  So what do I get now when I ask him of something?

I stand here FIRST.
I play hockey FIRST.
I sit here FIRST.
I sleeping FIRST (as he lays down on the floor and pretends to sleep).

A taste of my own medicine I guess. 

Or when I ask him to WAIT until I am done talking or done making dinner or done doing whatever I am doing at the time of this toddler's neediness...

Last night we went to the library in what turned out to be a trip from h. e. double hockey sticks.

WAIT! he yells when I try to steer him in a different direction and he drops to the floor rolling.
WAIT! he yells when he tries to escape the children's section and wiggles out of my arms.
WAIT! he yells when I tell him it's time to go home and we will see the waterfall next visit.

And all the way to the car in the parking lot...

WATERFALL! WATERFALL! WATERFAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!

Nothing I did could control this little wildebeast last night.  I am usually the queen of distractions, but man, nothing was getting by this kid! I hope it was just a poorly timed library visit or something he ate. It makes me a little hesitant to go out in public on my own again, though! Yikes, the terrible two's are freaking me out!


I do it.
I hold it.
I keep it.
I bring it.
My turn.
Mine.

Yep, he is all mine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Knowing Me, Knowing You - March 2011

I noticed a few others joining the Fairy Blogmother this month in her Knowing Me, Knowing You link-up so I decided to play along.

1. Do you consider yourself a foodie?

No, but I do love and appreciate food.  I love to cook and try new recipes almost weekly.  My friends and I have a monthly dinner club.  That's as close as "refined interest" as I get. 

2. Are you a spender or a saver?

Most definitely a saver.  I am not a buyer of stuff.  I carefully plan out what I am going to buy and plan for these purchases.  I am the complete opposite of a compulsive buyer.  Even before I make a purchase I need to hold the item in my hand and walk around the store for a while thinking about my purchase.  I ask myself.  Do I really need it? Will I get a lot of use out of it?  Can I find a better deal somewhere else? 80% of the time I will walk out of a store empty-handed intending to find a better deal or sleep on it. 'Tis the life of a woman on a budget.

3. What was the last movie you saw?

Kid movie - Madagascar with little E on Saturday.  He laughed out loud and giggled about it for a whole day when Alex the lion walked through a spider web.  That made my day.
Adult movie - Life As We Know It maybe 3 weeks ago with Hubby.  It was slow at times, but I liked it and I love Katherine Heigl.

4. What is the closest book to you?

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.  I borrowed it from a friend MONTHS ago and I still haven't got past the first chapter.  I've been meaning to read this series forever but there always seems like something more important to do than sit down a read.

5. Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Not really.  It is actually the anniversary of the date Hubby and I started dating and this year marked 10 years.  Hubby had to work so instead I dressed little E in all green to go to day care and for dinner I made green waffles and for dessert I made a fruit rainbow. I like the idea of celebrating the Irish culture because Hubby's family is Irish but I never understood the excuse for everyone to get sloshed.

That's all folks!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dinner Diaries & Roll-ups

Here is what we are eating this week:

Monday - Baked Potato and Bacon Soup, Sobb Salad
Tuesday - Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya with Brown Rice
Wednesday - Spaghetti Squash with homemade Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce
Thursday - Slow Cooker Beef Stew, Salad
Friday - Tuna Melt Sandwiches

I've been making a lot of roll-up snacks and lunches for little E lately.  We use whole wheat tortillas and lately the winning combinations are the following:

Natural peanut butter, ground flax seed and banana
Natural peanut butter, raisins, cinnamon, dices apples
Tuna mixed with avocado or mayo
Pureed black beans with salsa
Chicken with salsa or avocado

I'm looking for more suggestions.  What are your children's favourite roll-ups? Any veggie ideas?

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's Friday, Friday

Please tell me you've heard that Friday song that has gone viral on You Tube? Yesterday, I heard about it so much that I woke up today signing it to little E.  I'm such a dork.

Well, this isn't exactly a Fancy That! Friday post, but here are some of the highlights of week.

With the beautiful weather and because I am working from home I was able to run to pick up little E up from day care with the stroller (I got the front tire fixed by the way).  I wish I could have counted the amount of double takes and odd looks I received as people realized that my stroller was empty.  I guess it does kind of look funny.  If they took the time to think about my situation they would have probably realized I was picking up or dropping off a child.  Or they could be thinking, "Um, excuse me lady - you forgot something!", or "Man look how fast that lady can run and she is even pushing a stroller for extra resistance!". Yeah, thinking up these little scenarios fueled my run. Dork.

I found this article/book promotion interesting since I am at the age where a lot of my friends are getting married/talking about marriage and some even avoiding the talk.   Hubby and I married young, but we seemed to have followed the right steps? "Are You A Little Bit Married?".

"Look at the Baby, Not the Scale".This is something I wish I was reminded of when little E was born.  The doctors stressed me out so much about his weight gain.  It is completely normal for babies to lose 3-10% of their birth weight and women should not be encouraged to supplement with formula and jeopardize their breastfeeding relationship if their baby is reaching other goals.

Today I Googled, "how to count to 10 in Spanish" because my almost 23 month old is and I would like to join along.  WTF? I was easily keeping up with 1-5 up until this week.  Dora the Explorer is amazing I tell ya. Today he also counted to 20 for the first time, but he leaves out 13 every time.  

I'm loving this idea. I had never thought of making my own finger paint before.  Check this recipe out! A perfect activity for these rainy spring days or for an activity outside in the park. 

I'm pretty excited for upcoming consignment sales because little E is growing out of everything and apparently Hubby thinks he needs new clothes because he is "wearing the same thing too often".  So sorry fashion police! OutGrow OutPlay announced their consignment sale dates and locations around Ottawa.  Mark your calendars!

Oh, and this You Tube video of a baby's reaction when his mom blows his nose is also going viral, in case you haven't seen it yet.  Now I'm trying to dig up a video I took of when little E had a similar reaction when our dog barked. Love it.

Yesterday was Thursday. 
Today is Friday.
Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards.

Please tell me this song is in your head too?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lucky

On this very day (and as I argue, in a drunken stupor)  I agreed to date an Irish boy.  We became high school sweethearts and look at us now, 10 years later.


We are lucky to have each other and continue to grow together.  We are lucky to have a home and jobs, friends and family.  We are lucky to have a beautiful child that makes us smile everyday.




Today I remind myself just how lucky I am.

P.S. These free printable posters and many more can be found here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {The snow needs to go}

I got out for a run with the jogging stroller last night in the mild weather.  We stopped at the park (after I realized I had a flat front tire) to splash in the puddles (with new rain boots) and play fetch.  Then little E had a long pop-a-wheelie ride home, "weeeeeeeee".

Hopefully the rain today melts away the snow so it will look a little more like Spring.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Look whose talking

Little E is learning small talk.  It's amazing how quickly he has advanced from 1 word demands, to 3 word phrases to full out conversations!  A couple weeks ago I found Sophie the Giraffe under his change table.  This is a conversation he had with they toy when they re-united:"Oh, hi giraffe. Hi. Hello. Hello, boy.  How a doin?". 

Luckily, his back talk is still manageable with his, "no way, Mommy!"

I am starting to really see the sponge-like effect of a toddler.  There is no talking over his head.  He is ALWAYS listening.  Like when I yell be quiet! or watch out! to the dog. Oops.  Guess who needs to practice their manners?

Speaking of the devil, let's talk straight here.  Lately, I have been all talk and no action. 

100 push ups challenge? Failing. (I keep re-starting it because I don't want to do it half-ass).
Working out? Fail. (Other than my soccer and ball hockey games).

I could talk the hind legs off a donkey with excuses, but let's face it; talk is cheap.  I need someone to talk me into some motivation! Won't you give me a pep talk? I need to start over.

I've had soccer the last two nights (we won the finals last night, woot woot!) so I think I'm going to roll with punches here and keep up with the exercise.  Since I have been working from home, I haven't been able to use the gym in my office building. And I really want to get out and start running again.  I'm not a cold weather runner, but now the sun is tempting me.  Maybe I can start taking little E out in the BOB stroller for runs in the evenings again (yay for daylight saving!).

Here's to talking the talk and walking the walk!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dinner Diaries and Rice Pudding

Little E and I had a great time visiting family back home for the weekend while Hubby was away for a work conference.  We got a lot of fresh air (and stinky air too) and hearty meals on the farm and I'm feeling refreshed this week.  Bring on spring!

This is what we are eating this week:

Monday - Ground beef curry with green peas over orzo pasta
Tuesday - Roasted chicken, zucchini and mushroom risotto, salad
Wednesday - Crockpot ham, sweet potatoes, asparagus, salad
Thursday - Quinoa and black beans
Friday - Chicken fajitas, quacamole, caesar salad

In the last few months, we have been sticking to Earth's Own ryza brown rice milk for little E.  It's the only brown rice milk I have found so far and it's much tastier and much healthier than the white rice milk we were getting before.  There is no sugar added and it is enriched with calcium and other vitamins and minerals.  Little E loves it and goes through it so fast. 

Last week, I made a rice pudding for the first time and it turned out great. I think it will be a regular dessert in our house from now on.  I found this recipe on ryza's website. It is dairy free and gluten free, but I bet you could use cow's milk instead if you don't want to go dairy free.

ryza Rice Pudding
4 cups Vanilla ryza
1/2 cup short grain brown rice
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Bring ryza, rice and salt to a boil over medium-high heat in a saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until rice is cooked through, about 50-60 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cinnamon, maple syrup and raisins. Cover and let rest an additional 10 minutes. Can be enjoyed warm or cold.

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Music to his ears

Hubby and I went for road trip last Saturday to visit one of his old friends. The hour long drive down winding dirt roads in the country was a perfect opportunity for us to chat and reconnect without little E as our main focus.

We popped in old mixed CD's and he hooked up his Ipod and we played the who sings this? and what is this song called? game.  As we listened to tunes, they brought back all kinds of memories.  Somehow, most of those memories were about little E.

One song we completely forgot about was "Don't Shed a Tear" by Paul Carrack.  This song was our saving grace during little E's first couple of weeks.  We watched The Happiest Baby on the Block and used the 5 S's to soothe him when were dealing with tummy cramps in the beginning (before we discovered the dairy intolerance).  When these calming reflexes didn't seem like enough, we opened up the laptop and played music.  "Don't Shed a Tear" for some reason had the most amazing calming effect on little E.  Hubby would hold him out and sway him back and forth and he would close his eyes and fall asleep.  It was like magic!

A couple months later we discovered the next best thing, "Peaceful Easy Feeling", by the Eagles.  Hubby is a huge Eagles fan and we have all kinds of Eagles CD's in the car.  We discovered the effectiveness on our first road trip to visit my family. As soon as the opening music started,  little E would immediately stop crying and fall asleep. It was amazing!  We made sure to have it in the CD player at all times and I can remember yelling at Hubby, "put it on number 9!" many, many times.  This song still works to this day.

In the last few months he has shown an interest in dance music. I have some pretty funny videos of him busting a move in his car seat to songs like "OMG" by Usher and "Oh Na Na" by Rhianna. 

Today, I also use the Name Your Tune CD that we gave little E for Christmas.  Road trips have never been so enjoyable.  Little E is perfectly content sitting in the back and looking out the windows while listening to his name in his favourite songs. 

When we get home at the end of the day, rather than turning a TV show on, I turn the TV to a music or radio station.  On Friday's, what better way to end the week than to have a dance party in the living room?!

At bed time he usually asks for a "lull-a-bye-bye" before we place him in his crib and it's the perfect way to soothe him to sleepy land.

Has music played a big part in your child's life?  Did your baby react to certain songs? 

Maria Zarnayova / isifa/Getty Images
Four new-born babies listen to music through headphones in the maternity ward of the first private hospital in Kosice-Saca on January 3, 2007, Kosice, Slovak Republic. The experimental program started four years ago and reportedly enhances the new-born baby's well-being after their birth.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Postpartum Gift Ideas

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

A co-worker recently approached me for advice.  Her friend had just given birth and she was going to visit her at the end of the day. She told me she didn’t want to get the typical teddy bear or flowers.  She wanted to get something meaningful.  I encouraged her to bring a gift for the mother rather than for the baby.  Chances were that mama had already purchased or received everything she needed for baby.  After all, she had just gone through the most life changing and physically gruelling events of her life.  It was time to pamper her and help her on her road to recovery.

Here is a top 10 list of gift ideas that I came up with for mothers after giving birth:

10. Magazines, books or other reading material.  If she is in the hospital and must stay to recover, these gifts will be truly appreciated.  I remember my MIL dropping off some celebrity magazines and it helped me get through those last few hours before I was finally discharged. 

9. A keepsake, charm or figurine that will act as a constant reminder of this precious moment.  Consider one that you can build on in celebration each year.

8. Natural lotions, bath soaps, salts or candles.  Mama will most likely need some nice long baths to help her body recover in those first few weeks.  One of my most memorable gifts was from Hubby’s friend who purchased a basket full of shea butter soaps and lotions.  I really appreciated his thoughtfulness.  There are some amazing natural products out there.  Check out this lovely line by Earth Mama Angel Baby.

7. Something beautiful and womanly.  After birth you no longer feel sexy or glowing.  You are most likely wearing a moo-moo or an over-sized t-shirt and are yearning to feel beautiful again.   How about a nice piece of jewelry or a new nursing top?

6. Tea.  Red raspberry leaf tea (helps tones muscles in the pelvis region and uterus) or any of the Earth Mama Angel Baby teas are a great idea.

5. Snacks.  She will be hungry!  Natural healthy foods are preferable, but don’t starve her of chocolate and sweets.  She earned it!  Also, consider making a batch of these lactation cookies for the breastfeeding mama.

4. More food!  If visiting the new mama at home, don’t walk through that door unless you bring a meal!  Between physical pain, lack of sleep and constant feedings this mama might not have the time or energy  to prepare wholesome meals for her family.  Consider making a large hearty soup or casserole that she can store in the freezer.

3. Your time.  Do you have some spare time to come over and help with laundry or watch the older children so mama can get some rest?  Can you make a meal or watch the baby while mama has a shower? Consider making a homemade coupon offering your time and a list of duties you are willing to tackle.  If you’re lucky you will get some extra cuddle time with the baby in exchange.

2. A hand written note or card letting her know how proud you are of her and congratulating her in her new role. 

1. Your love and support. Let her know that you are there for her.  Share your stories with her so she doesn’t feel alone.  Support her in her early parenting decisions.  Love her for the powerful woman she is.

What do you bring to a new mother?  What is on your top 10 list?

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dinner Diaries and Why

Planning out my dinners during the work week has been working well for our family.  There are always times when things come up and we have to swap or switch around a meal, but for the most part I stick to the diary. The weekends are much more relaxed and we usually end up have one cheat meal and eat a lot of left overs and smorgasbords for lunches. 

There are three main reasons why we plan out our meals:

1) To save money.  I always write up our diary before heading to the grocery store.  This way we go to the store with a purpose and only get the items we need for the week.  This has cut our costs down considerably and we have been able to stick to our budget of $80-$100 week on groceries.  Last week, we only spent about $30 because we designed our meal plan around what was left over in our cupboards and fridge. I also try to remember to look at flyers and buy sale items in the store if possible.

2) To eat healthier.  When it was just the two of us, Hubby and I used to plan out all of our meals and snacks.  We found not having to think about what to eat next kept us away from eating unhealthy foods.  Nowadays, we only plan out our dinners, but usually have left overs for lunches and snacks.  I have also been making sure to include a vegetarian dinner at least once weekly and planning out my meals also reminds me to try new recipes rather than sticking to old trusted dishes. Little E's allergies has also forced us to eat more wholesome and naturally.  A blessing in disguise.

3) To reduce stress and scrambling after work.  It is nearly impossible to think up a meal when you have an attention seeking toddler attached to you at the end of the day.  Walking into the house with a plan makes things that much easier.

Do you plan out your meals?  How has it helped you? How do you cut down on grocery costs? 

Here is what we are eating this week:

Monday - Ginger chicken and vegetable stir fry, brown rice
Tuesday - Black bean slow cooker soup, sweet potato rolls
Wednesday - Coconut shrimp and orzo salad with broccoli
Thursday - Home made chicken fingers, sweet potato fries, corn
Friday - something quick and easy or something on the road (heading out of town)

P.S. I am working from home again this week.  AWESOME.  Looks like I will be until the end of the month due to the extensive damage in my work office.  Going back to the office is going to be tough after this!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cut out to be me

I went to the mall and got a long overdue hair colour and cut yesterday.  When I say over due, I'm talking over 6 months.  It's bad when your regular stylist forgets you, right?  I'm loving the cut and once again I am wondering why I don't do this more often.  I stand taller. I smile more.  I feel so much more confident.  I am rocking this mom bob. 

While I was waiting for the colour to settle I was playing around on my phone, catching up on some blogs.  And then she walked in.  She was confident and carefree.  She spoke loud enough that everyone in the salon could hear her.  She just thought she would stop in, ya know?  See if she could fit in a quick cut and blow-out?

I envied her as soon as she parked her stroller beside me and sat down.  Her son, looked to be about 5 months, was happily sitting in his stroller, chewing on a toy.  She chatted about her hair and her vision with her stylist.  She talked about how her hair was so different now in texture and shine and the stylist confirmed that it was probably because she was nursing and the hormones after having a child.

I tried to pretend I wasn't listening, but I was just so intrigued.  No shit.  This women just walked into a hair salon and is going to attempt to get her hair done and her infant son is going to co-operate? I envy this lady.  Damn, she is ballsy.  There is no way I would even think about this.  I can't wait to see how this pans out.

Then, as I am staring at my phone, I came across this very timely blog post titled, "Mrs. Judgey McJudgerson at the Mall".  What a co-wink-e-dink!

Hmm, did I just judge her? She seemed like a typical trophy wife/mom when she first walked in.  She was just stopping in to get a blow-out, she said.  Really, who says that unless you have alot of time and money on your hands?

Yep, I judged her. I am not proud of myself.  I hope she didn't see my judgey eyes. This woman deserves a blow-out.  Good for her.  I don't know her story.  Why, oh why the judging?

Honestly, the more she talked, the more I envied her. I told my stylist when she went to the back that I never would have thought to bring my son to the salon.  Not because he wouldn't cooperate, but because it would be awkward and I would feel like I was burden on the stylists.  I would feel judged. That is why it took me over 6 months to get back there.  No time and no way in my mind.

What if he started crying?
She picked her son up and held him in her arms.  He loved looking at himself in the mirror. 

What if he got restless?
She handed him off to another stylist on a break.

I wanted to say something.  Like, good for you! Way to go Mama! Damn, she was good. I just sat back and watched her work her magic.

But, then I was over-consumed with worry. 
Who is holding him now? Where did he go? Why would those ladies take her son out of her sight? Why doesn't she care as much as I do right now?

Seriously, I have a problem.

My stylist said that it depended on the baby. I agreed, but looking back now I think I was wrong.

Some women just aren't cut out to be that kind of Mom. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fancy That! Friday

Here are a few things that caught my eye this week...

This article about the push for birth centres in Ontario for low-risk pregnancies. 

Little E's 2nd birthday is coming up in April and I am starting to think about presents and parties.  He always talks about the big boys "bap packs" so I think we will get him his first back pack  (I am still using a diaper bag).  This really cute frog one caught my eye.

Do you read the 1000 Awesome Things blog? It's a pretty awesome pick-me-up everyday.  Yesterday, #296 was making a baby laugh.  Can't get anymore awesomer than that, can it?

I never would have thought that Kourtney Kardashian would prove to be a great role model for young mothers until now.

I made a quick stop at Shoppers this morning and took a gander at the baby aisle.  Do people actually buy these glorified jube-jubes and cheesies for their toddlers?

What jumped out at you this week?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Little Blog Makeover

Welcome to my newly designed space! 

I have been playing around with the blogger templates lately (I apologize if you clicked over while I was in the process, it was a messy process).  I think I found a better look for this blog; something a little more clean cut and less busy. 

I've written a new "About Me" page to give readers more of a preview of where I am coming from and what I like to write about.  I also somewhat re-organized my blogroll into categories.  If you have any suggestions, please send them my way.

So, what do you think? 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Twinkle, Twinkle little E

We are sleeping in this house again (most of the time) and it is awesome. 

It was about a month ago that I whined about our lack of sleep due to my laziness with bed time routines.  It only took about a week to get little E back on schedule.  I realized a few things; a) I was trying to do too much with him before bed which cut into his bed time routine and therefore, b) I was rushing through our most precious time together - bed time stories.

Reading books has always been our favourite quiet time activity and since I've made of point of it from the beginning, he is familiar with this calming down period.  Rushing through the pages of the book is not healthy, let alone calming.

We have returned back to studying each page and taking our time, but our reading line-up has changed.  He pushes away his bed time board books and reaches for longer "big boy" stories.  We have stocked up on a variety of library books after a period of just picking up a few when I could.  Although, repetition is good, there is only so many times I can read Franklin Goes To School without going nutty.

Speaking of Franklin.  He has become quite the key character in our house these days.  I picked up a few of the series at the library and little E was in love instantly.  Every single song we sing must include Franklin now.  Twinkle, twinkle little Franklin on the bus goes up and down, all through the town and Old MacDonald had a Franklin, didn't ya know?

Along with re-establishing our healthy bed time routine we made a few more changes.  I switched around little E's furniture so when laying down in his crib the door is not visible.  This helped since he couldn't see me leave the room.  I also picked up a package of those glow in the dark stars and stuck them on little E's ceiling which he thinks is pretty cool.  Listening to him sing Twinkle, Twinkle once I close the door is the probably most adorable thing ever.  And last but not least we threw in a bunch of his favourite stuffed animals and more "blankies" that he seems to be more attached to lately.  Thank you, Max and Teddy, for taking the brunt of the elbows and kicks these days.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Map

I'm on a de-cluttering kick again.  I guess you could call it early spring cleaning.  

In my attempt to clean out one of our closets I came across the mapThe map has not been forgotten; I think about it often.  I just can't figure out what to do with it so I keep throwing it back in the closet.


For my birthday (6 months ago) I asked my Mom for the vintage looking map of my hometown.  It is beautiful and unique and will be a perfect accent in my home.  As a member of the local Historical Society my Mom could easily get her hands on a copy, which cost a whopping $5.  The map has been rolled up in the closet for months because I have been procrastinating on getting it framed. I knew that custom framing would cost way too much, but I finally brought it in for an estimate a couple months ago.  With a Michael's 55% off custom framing coupon I was convinced that I could make a frame work in my tight budget. 

WRONG. 

Because the map is an irregular shape I had to give specific measurements (I couldn’t tell off of their price grid how much it would be) and the cost was waaaay off the charts.

Ready for it?


Over $700!

For a $5 map?!

I laughed out loud and thanked the sales associate for her time.  With my coupon I would still be spending well over $300. 

Now what to do? 

I would really like a thick frame around the map and maybe even with a mat.  Something like this is what I originally had in mind.
I’ve scoured all kinds of stores trying to find the perfect frame that I can cut the map to size, but it’s just not do-able.  I could plaque mount it, but I feel like the effect just won’t be the same. 

Recently, I've been looking for other inspirations.  Here are a few more ideas that I have come across:



I like these ideas of splitting the map up, but I am afraid some details will be lost.   

So crafty friends, any ideas?