Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Don't leave a license plate renewal to the last minute

It's that time of year - my birthday - that license plate renewals on both of our vehicles are due.  It's an expensive birthday to say the least.  Add a parking fine, that Hubby "doesn't remember getting" to the bill and well, it costs a small fortune to have these vehicles on the road for another year.  It would have been only sensible for me to have gone to renew them what, 2 months ago? when I received the notice in the mail, but no, we like to leave things to the last minute around here.  It must be something to do with the thrill of living on the edge with a license sticker that expires the next day. *SHUTTER*

So I took my sorry butt to the mall to the nearest Service Ontario Kiosk because you know, they are "making it easier".  After going through the motions I successfully renewed our license plate on our newer vehicle that Hubby drives.  The older car that I drive and that has been giving me hell this week (old battery) would not be accepted.  Why? Well it needs an emission test, duh.  You'd think they would make the read asterisk a little larger for my apparently blind eyes to see. *SMACKS FORHEAD*. 

I promptly googled the emission centre on my phone and called and made an appointment for the following day right then and there. And so today, I snuck out of work during my lunch break to get it done.  As I squirmed and sweated in my seat while waiting for the results, they came back to tell me that the car passed without any issues. Phew, dodged a huge bullet there.

Back to the kiosk tonight, but this time with E in tow. It only took a few minutes last time, surely it would be the same.  We happily skipped hand in hand through the parking lot and into the mall, not knowing what we were about the be faced with.

Three people stood ahead of me in line.  Ok, I can handle this.  The man using the kiosk is squirmy and panicky, visibly intimidated by the long line-up behind him and apologizing, saying he is almost done.  Two more people join the line and wait behind me.  I keep my cool, although it royally sucked.  I let E happily play around me pushing the buttons on the vending machine and photo booths, but then it gets too busy around us and so I pick him up and put him on my hip. E is not happy and repeats, "Put my down, mommy! Let my down!" I smile. I got this.  The line will move quickly in no time I reassure myself.  Then the guy in front of me gets royally pissed.  He asks the man using the kiosk if he is almost done in a snide manner.  Patience is a virtue I remind myself.  The man at the kiosk bickers back telling impatient dude that he has every right to be there and they exchange unkind words. Great, just the show I wanted my toddler to see. E continues to squirm and makes me to drop things.  Slowly he is turning into a little devil child and my arm is becoming numb with pain as I try to hold him as he trys to escape my arms. I am losing my cool, but I smile at the man at the kiosk as he gathers his receipt and leaves.  He didn't deserve the unkind words shouted his way from Mr. Impatient.  Finally it's our turn and I've got everything ready to go. Promptly punching the buttons with my license plate number, insurance info and emission test codes. All the while E squirms so much I want to scream, but I ignore him while he climbs all over me.  I  feel the pressure of onlookers and I start to sweat.  E tries to pushes the buttons and I feel like I am doing some kind of martial art trying to jab at the buttons and pin down his hands at the same time. He keeps yelling, "No, Mommy, no!".  Finally, everything is done, payment is punched in and a little time ticker shows up.  Then the screen goes blank and says "OUT OF SERVICE".

You. have. got. to. be. kidding. me. 

Instead of crying I pulled my child to the side and told the man behind me that I was sorry and what had happened.  I gathered my things and starting walking away. He called me back and told me that the machine was back up, but I told him and the others to go ahead and I would come back.  I couldn't hold Satan's spawn like that again. My arms were numb. So I took E for a walk and rode the escalator up and down again and came back to square one.

E was still restless so I did what any desperate mother would do.  I am not proud of my decision, but it was the only thing that would allow me to fulfill my mission.



I bought the kid a lollipop from the magazine store across the hall. I had to do it. It would be my saving grace.

Back at it, I went through the motions again. E happily licked his sucker while standing beside me, holding my hand. I get the to end of the process AGAIN and this time it doesn't accept my bank card.  Dear lord, why, why me! E got restless again and I pick him up. This time he's sticky and makes juggling him even trickier. Papers fall, I just want to scream or cry or yell out profanities.  Please someone save me.

A third time and ding, ding, ding, we've got the sticker. Thank the high heavens. I gathered my stuff, grabbed E's hand and marched out of the mall an HOUR LATER. While we stomped rather than skipped back to the car, we hit up a garbage can and tossed that half-licked sucker out and I texted Hubby to tell him that I was about to snap.  It was a frustrating evening and I stayed as calm, cool and collect as I could, but nearly lost my mind. Let that be a lesson to anyone considering leaving this task to the last minute.

Monday, August 29, 2011

40 years strong

Sunday celebrations for two love birds,
Time flown by, love beyond words.
Ruby anniversary, ruby decorations galore.
Open house, family and friends at the door.
Nothing but congratulations,
Given to this couple for inspiration.

Happy 40th Anniversary Mom & Dad!

I'm joining Capital Mom today by blogging about a moment from my life based on a theme she has provided. This week’s Monday Moment theme is Strong.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Champagne Birthday


It's my champagne birthday today. 28 big ones on the 28th day of August.

Want to know something really sad? I had to use a calculator to double check my age. I'm serious.  I actually forgot how old I was turning until someone asked me if it was my champagne birthday.  If that doesn't show how much I need to take more time for myself, I don't know what does.  How depressing. 

Truth is, I don't really remember too many of my birthdays.  There are only a select few that have stayed with me.  Birthdays have never been a big deal for me.  I really need to change that going forward.  Celebrating the day of your birth is amazing - atleast I've discovered that since becoming a Mother. Speaking of which, E is 28 months this month, neat!

I'm spending today with my whole family back home, because it's not only my birthday today, it's my parents wedding anniversary (remember, I'm lucky #7?).  They are celebrating 40 years (!) and have invited friends and family to spend the day with them. We will toasting them on their huge milestone and maybe, just maybe, the family with save a few cheers for me too.

Oh happy day!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

This week I'm grateful for...

Amanda from Let's Take the Metro started a Graditude post link-up every Saturday. She writes, "I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?" This is just what a needed. What a great habit to get into and a great excercise to participate in to remind myself just how fortunate I am!

This week I'm grateful for:

1.  Making homemade play dough with E.  Remembering the many times my Mom made it with us. Sitting back and watching E discover and create his masterpieces by rolling and smacking the bejeebus out of that purple dyed dough. 

2. Wednesday nights playing baseball with some great friends.  Laughs in the outfield and cheers on the bench.  Hot dogs on the portable bbq and a cold beer after the game. A few extra minutes to just hang out and not rush home.

3. Continued easy bed time routines with E and evenings to myself.

4. Hubby's confidence and success in his workplace, even though the extra time he puts in keeps him away from us.

5. My sister flying in from Victoria yesterday and spending the weekend with us.  Chatting about her adventures and future plans. 

What are you grateful for?

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Friday, August 26, 2011

The other really fun farm

Mention the word farm and E is totally game.  This past weekend he was a bit confused as to what farm he was going to.  Grandma and Grandpa's or the Agricultural Museum? It was neither - I switched it up and we made a trip to the Valleyview Little Animal Farm.

We arrived when the line was forming for the Valleyview Express train ride and stayed long enough to catch a puppet show. E loved both activities, but loved exploring the playground the best. 

He looked through every window and nook he could find,


he went down all the slides all by himself and drove the Tonka trucks around the sand,


he loved running and jumping through the tunnel,

Mad concentration, serious height achieved.

and feeding the goats.


Pet?

We hadn't been since last July and I think E had much more fun the second time around. Being that much older and able to roam and climb on his own, he had a blast.  Just like last year though, he drove every play truck and tractor there was and played in each play house and barn.  It was so fun seeing how this place will never get tiring!

This visit was kind of last minute and I didn't have it on my Summer of Awesome list, but it is definitely a place we will visit each year.


July 2010 and August 2011


July 2010 and August 2011

July 2010 and August 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25, 1996

It’s funny.  I don’t remember many small details from my childhood. I have a terrible memory.  My younger sisters will come up with the craziest of stories and it baffles me how they remember them.  They often have me laughing with tears in my eyes because they have truly awesome memories and because I wished I remembered them on the spot too.  If it wasn’t for them reminding me, I often think I wouldn’t exist.

However, there is one tragic memory that I remember almost every second of. And it was on this day, 15 years ago.

It was 3 days before my 13th birthday and I was preparing to start the 8th grade the following week.  My oldest siblings, especially my oldest sister, were ruling the roost because my parents were very far from home. They had travelled to Holland for their 25th wedding anniversary – their first time to my father’s birth town and to visit his relatives. It was a much deserved vacation for my parents and technically their first honeymoon.  They had not been given the time to honeymoon following their wedding since my Mom’s mother was bed ridden and ultimately passed away two days later. They deserved this.

My oldest sister had her work cut out for her with my youngest brother being only 3 ½. I’m sure she had a list of instructions and rules, but I was too young to pay too much attention to them.  I do remember being told to help out with meals, etc, but I’ll never forget the cardinal rule – no going to friend’s houses.  I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now. My parents wanted us all home together, safe, and easy for my older siblings to keep track of.

It was Sunday and we went to 10am mass, as usual.  After mass, my cousin asked me to come over to her house to hang out and my sister and Aunt decided it would be okay. After all, they were family and my parents were due to be home in a week. The rest of my family went home.  My brother, his girlfriend, and their beautiful little girl, baby M, were in their own little home – built just adjacent from the family house on the farm.

I remember that day pretty vividly...

My Aunt being on the phone with my sister. My Aunt telling me to sit down. My Aunt telling me that baby M had passed away, but not knowing how. Hugging each other and bawling and feeling so weak that I couldn’t hold myself up. Driving home to the farm. My second youngest brother running to the car to greet me and to tell me that M was dead (such an innocent little boy who didn’t understand). Hearing that baby M was sleeping in her swing at the time of tragedy. Hearing stories of my brothers girlfriend screaming for her baby. Hearing that my oldest brother did CPR. Hearing that the ambulance had come to take them to the hospital. Hearing that my other brother had sped off behind them in the old blue farm truck. Still not knowing what happened.

I was not there to witness it. I wasn’t even on the farm. There’s still a part of me that thinks that I should have been there when it happened. We all have our stories of that day of where we were and how it affected us.  I can only imagine how it affected my older siblings who were much more involved. I often wonder how my brother and his girlfriend survived so much pain and how they were able to move on with their life.  I often wonder how it affected my oldest brother who was called to perform CPR.  I often wonder how deeply it affected my parents losing their very first grandchild.

I remember that week like it was yesterday...

My parents cutting their short trip and catching the quickest flight home. My youngest sister asking my Mom why she wasn’t crying and my Mom telling her that she cried for the whole plane ride and she had no more tears left in her eyes. Baby M looking like a perfect little china doll in her baby casket, wearing the beautiful white gown that my Mom made out of her wedding gown and that we all wore at our baptisms. Walking to a bead store in between the wakes to make a tiny bracelet for baby M to wear. Finding out that the doctors were ruling baby M’s death as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

It was the first time someone so close to me was taken away.  It was the first time my heart ached.  I'll never quite understand it.  I'll never quite come to terms with it.  

We only had 4 months and 8 days to enjoy her.  Every year on her birthday and on this day of her death I think about her full head of dark hair, her sweet little smile, dancing with her to my Dance Mix 92 CD, and the way she always held onto the side bar of her baby swing with one hand. All of the sad memories will stay with me, but these happy ones are the ones that I try to focus on the most.

Thinking about you today and always, sweet little baby angel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Toddler Chores & Responsibilities

E's new repetitive saying is, "Can I help?" He loves being involved in everything we are doing around the house and I have taken this opportunity to teach him some valuable life lessons. I think it's important for children to learn that they need to contribute to the household and do their part. While E may seem too young, I believe it is a perfect age to introduce these little tasks when he is so young and willing!

Cleaning up after himself
Before we head upstairs for a bath and bed, E is reminded to bring his toys back to his play room or to tidy the toys off of the floor of the playroom and placed in the toy bins.  I don't stress about the toys being around the house during the day, but at the end of the day we've started a great routine of tidying up.  It's even better when we sing the clean up song! And so much better than having to do it all on my own.

Tidying the shoes
E knows that shoes are not to be kicked off anywhere in the house.  He has gotten in a great habit of placing his at the front door beside the rest. He has started a new skill of lining up his toy trucks and puzzle pieces and so our shoes have now followed. If he notices a pair of shoes lying around the house he is quick to return them to their proper home.

Setting the table
When eager for dinner to be ready I have recently distracted him in helping me set the table.  Now he asks to set the table as soon as I start cooking.  While I don't usually pass over the breakable plates, he can easily set the utensils and condiments on the table and is so proud to help. 

Putting the dishes away
We keep the non-breakable and plastic tupperware dishes in a low drawer for E to access.  When emptying the dish rack or dishwasher he loves finding a home for each dish I pass on to him.  I've recently let him help him put the utensils in each of their specific spots and it has turned into a great matching game.

Feeding the dog
After watching me go to the cupboard as soon as we got home to get the dog food everyday for almost a year, E decided it was his now his reponsibility.  One day he went straight to the cupboard, dragged the dog food bag over to the dog's dishes and starting scooping the food out.  It's something I let him do everyday now.  He has gone from grabbing handfuls of food to now slighty tipping the bag just enough to fill the bowl. 

Doing the laundry
When getting changed in the morning and at night, I encourage E to put his clothes away or in the dirty hamper.  In the evening he helps me carry the dirty clothes down stairs and stands on his stool in front o the washing machine to load it with the dirty clothes.  I just need to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't throw and darks in with the lights!

E is such a good little helper and although my chores can sometimes take a little longer when I let him help, knowing that he is learning so much through these simple tasks makes me so happy.  How do your children help out around the house?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dreaming...or how it should be

I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up so I picked a college course I knew would interest me. Within three years I landed my now full-time career in what I always felt was something I was good at and enjoyed.

A few years later I became a mother. And like many women experience, my focus shifted to my son. My passion and commitment to being a mother grew and my passion and commitment to my career suddenly escaped me. And new passions were realized.

I've been back at work since the end of my one year maternity leave and for 16 months now I have struggled. I have a full-time responsibility in being a mother and a full-time career outside of the home and it's nearly impossible for me to do both to my full potential. I know I'm not alone. I don't know a mother out there that isn't looking for that elusive balance in life.

I feel like I am slacking at work because working late isn't possible any more with day care pick-ups. I've felt a big difference in my work ethic and my attitude. Putting in exactly eight hours has never really been my style. If I had deadlines approaching I would work through the evening at the office. Now, I don't have a choice to stay late. I don't like my attitude of oh well, it will get done tomorrow. My career has clearly taken a fall from one of my top priorities. It feels lazy and it's stressful because I feel like I'm always a step behind. I no longer feel like my career is what I was meant to do.

I've always believed in doing what makes you happy. If you don't like what you are doing, do something about it. I could never work in a job that I hated no matter the pay. Even though my pay isn't great, I've always enjoyed most of my responsibilities in my job and they compliment my strengths but...

It's hard for me to focus when I am at work; day dreaming about where I would rather be or what I would rather be working on. I feel like I am trying to escape my current reality. Every day I daydream about how I could make it work without having a full-time career outside of the home. Everyday I escape the thought of approaching work deadlines and dream of more ideas for my business plan and of self-employment.  I don't know whether I should slap back to reality and tell my self to shape up and get back to work or whether I should be following my dreams and following through with my escape plan.

I'm joining Capital Mom today by blogging about a moment from my life based on a theme she has provided. This week’s Monday Moment theme is Escape.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How do your popsicles mold?

On the farm we made a lot popsicles in the summer. We used a cheap plastic mold and usually made ones out of chocolate milk or Tang orange juice.  There was nothing like a home made popsicle on a hot day.

E is all about popsicles these days.  He asks for them morning, noon and night. But, I'm prepared with a healthy alternative to the convienent store bought, sugar filled ones.

I've actually tried my hand a quite a few fruity combinations so far this summer. Peach and ginger, blueberry and banana, strawberry and lemon, watermelon and lime - the possibilites are endless. And even better - you aren't limited to fruit.  I made cucumber with lemon and mint and have even sneaked some spinach into some.

But I am ashamed to say, I'm still using a cheap plastic mold.  I really need to invest in a silcone set or at least a BPA free.  There are a some really cool ones out there.  Here are a couple I've looked at so far.  
Kinderville Little Bites Popsicle Molds (set of 4)
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Stainless steel popsicle mold
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And although I don't like the waste that is involved with these methods (that I found on Pinterest), I do think they would be a great idea if you need to make a number of popsicles for a party.
 

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How do you make your popsicles? What are your favourite healthy combinations?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Belonging

Source

Yesterday, I read this post by Crunchy Betty about the "crunchy" tribe and it got me thinking.  I belong to a few tribes. Some that I know of and maybe some that I don't even know yet. When I discover that I am part of these movements and/or tribes it gives me a great sense of belonging.  See sometimes, you don't even realize it.  Sometimes, you are following your passions, your beliefs, your gut and you find out that there are others out there that feel and work the same way.  Knowing that you are part of a group, or flock, or tribe and knowing that you belong somewhere is reassuring.

For me, it's a confidence booster. I don't feel the need to necessarily defend myself for my decisions, I can just point to the fact I'm not the only one. My tribe's got my back.  I have friends who have sheepishly told me some of their parenting beliefs that they normally get criticized for.  I have commended them, which usually catches them off guard.  So you bed-share? Baby wear? Anti-CIO? Baby-lead wean? That is awesome.  P.S. Did you know that you are all part of a tribe?

I started blogging in an effort to connect with like minded women, to share my passions, to create an outlet and what I didn't realize was the immensity of it all. 

I discovered that my passion for natural birth and parenting was shared among so many women and I quickly jumped on the opportunity to join the Natural Parents Network.  Joining in their carnival of natural parenting has been so eye-opening and rewarding. I could spend hours reading posts by other members and I am thirsty for more.  I know I belong here.

Blogging has given me the opportunity to journal memorable moments and milestones of E's life that may have otherwise been lost memories.  I jumped on the opportunity when Capital Mom dedicated her Monday's to shared moments with her readers and fellow bloggers.  And although I can't possibly portray my moments quite as eloquently as she, I am honoured to be in her online presence and join along for the ride.

I discovered other parents in the city that are living their lives to the fullest with their families and children. They are exploring the city, sharing helpful tips and stories of adventures.  These are all things that I love reading and sharing with others. 

By creating a healthy environment for my family physically, emotionally and mindfully, I am part of a movement.  By finding confidence in my decisions, creating happiness and taking control of my life, I am part of a tribe. It feels so good to know that I'm not alone.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why, because, okay and our new bedtime routine

E learned the word because about a month ago. He knew it was typically used to answer a why question and would start off by saying, "Because..." but then his voice would turn into a murmur and would trail off because he didn't know how to end the sentence.  It was adorable. Only recently has he learned how to tag some words to the end of his sentence and the answer to everything in the evening usually ended up being, "Because I want to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed". 

This past week he learned how to properly use the word why.  Yes, we have already entered the why stage! But I have to admit it's pretty darn cute when he is constantly asking me why and you can almost see the little wheels in his head turning. 

Which leads me to the word okay.  He has been using this word for a while now and it just cracks us up everytime.  The best part of this word is that it shows how easy to please my child is.  Answer a couple why's, throw in some because's and you've got an okay from him in no time.  He obviously has his melt downs from time to time, but man is this kid happy-go-lucky. 

Why, because and okay have played huge parts in our bedtime routine for the past week.  E had been in a habit of making up excuses and fighting us to go to bed. He requested more bedtime stories, a drink of milk, that he had to go pee or that he was scared and he would always answer everything by, "Because I want to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed".  To add to that, he was always waking up once in the night and we would bring him in to snuggle, which I didn't mind, but I hadn't had an uninterrupted sleep in what felt like forever!

I finally discovered a problem with my persuading. We almost always told him we were going to bed too, thinking that he would understand that it was bedtime. Wrong. It just made him want to be out of his bed and in ours even more.  And while I'm not against co-sleeping or lying down with him and have done it often, he can become easily distracted and it's hard for me to get anything done around the house in the evening when it happens night after night.  There's been a number of times that I have had to lie down with him and Hubby comes home to a war-zone in the kitchen because I fell asleep. 

So I tried something new. I told E that he needed to go to sleep because Mommy had to go downstairs and wash the dishes.  "Okay, Mommy", he said and rested his sweet little head on his pillow and went to sleep. Not a peep until 11 hours later. I thought it was a fluke, but then he did the exact same the following night and then two days later when Hubby put him to bed (I passed along the trick and it worked like a charm). The following night I put him to bed again and I thought he caught me.  When I told him I was going down downstairs to wash the dishes, like usual, he told me, "It's okay, Mommy, Daddy do it ready",  remembering the previous night.  I thought we were busted, but I was able to convince him that there were more dishes to be washed.

Fast forward over a week later and it has become our routine and he is still very content.  Here is what our conversation was last night:

Me: It's time to go to sleep. Lie down now and I'll put your blankets on you.
E: Why, Mommy?
Me: Because it's night time and you need to rest before you go to Mrs. X's house tomorrow to play with all your friends.
E: Okay, Mommy.  Where you going, Mommy?
Me: I'm going down to the kitchen to wash the dishes.
E: Because it's a mess, Mommy?
Me: Yes, honey. It's a total mess down there.
E: Okay, Mommy. You better go wash the dishes, Mommy.

Ahh, bliss. Evenings to myself. Content little angel.  Our bedtime routine couldn't be going more smoothly right now.  Who knew that washing my dishes could make my toddler sleep? Now there's a huge tip missing from all the parenting books!  I don't mean to brag I just really wanted to document this because I want to see how long I can keep it running! Any bets? 9 days and counting...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Can I come in?

Our weekday mornings are fairly predictable. The alarm goes off and one of us makes the first move - either leaning over to take a peek at the child in between us or peeking in his bedrooom door to see if he is still sleeping (depending on where he slept that night). When the coast is clear, that parent makes a mad dash to the bathroom to have an uninterrupted shower.  While that parent is showering the other cuddles and wakes the sleeping child, convincing him to get up because it's time to get ready.  The child is usually more interested in pretending to sleep with the blanket over his head and playing a silly game of peek-a-boo.  But eventually he will hop to his feet when promised his morning vitamins.  Instead of running to his room to get dressed he runs to the bathroom and the parent showering can hear his little feet approach the tub.  He pulls the shower curtain back and peeks in. There's no Good Morning or Hello, but always a, Can I come in?

I'm joining Capital Mom today by blogging about a moment from my life based on a theme she has provided. This week’s Monday Moment theme is Peeking.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Homemade Chocolate Peppermint Patties

Hubby and I are celebrating six years married. Six freakin' years! So I, like I do every year, looked up what the traditional and modern anniversary gift themes were. 

6th Year Anniversary
Traditional - Candy
Modern - Iron

Iron would be the perfect gift choice if I had a budget to purchase Hubby a new set of irons for his golf bag, but that certainly wasn't happening.  So candy it was because, really, it's OUR anniversary so we should BOTH enjoy the gift, right? And besides, I'm a traditional kind of gal.

Whenever we went go to the movie theatre, Hubby's treat of choice is Junior Mints or if he grabs a treat at the corner store he'll grab a Peppermint Pattie.  So, I looked to my latest obsession, Pinterest, to give me some ideas and I found a few different recipes.  I decided on this one - Homemade Peppermint Patties - which produced A LOT (I made mine slightly larger than a toonie and produced 6 dozen!).


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I made so many that I spread the wealth with some family and friends too. They were a huge hit at a friend's bachelorette party and my friend's made me feel like Martha Stewart, accentuating that they were, gasp, HOMEMADE! Hubby said they were BETTER THAN THE ONES AT THE STORE!, which made me proud and made all the rolling and dipping worth it.  

I was really happy with how they turned out and would definitely recommend you try them. Here are a couple of my tips for the recipe linked above:

1. Set aside a small bowl of icing sugar to rub on your hands each time you roll the little balls to avoid the mixture sticking to your hands, especially when you pat them into little discs (much like you would do with flour when kneading bread dough).
2. You may need to add a little more shortening to the melted chocolate. My chocolate mixture was too thick and I tried adding more shortening which helped a bit. I think it may have also been the type of chocolate chip I was using (PC Decadent).
3. Because my chocolate mixture was a bit too thick it was a bit tricky dipping the discs in the chocolate. The excess chocolate didn't run off easily either.  You will need to experiment with the right technique.  By the end of the batch I was literally throwing my peppermint disc in the chocolate filled bowl, fishing it out with a fork, taping the fork a few times on the side of the bowl and letting the disc slide off onto the tray.  Not so graceful - but it worked!
4. It is much easier to coat the peppermint discs if you take them out of the freezer right before you coat them. If you let them thaw at all, they are too difficult to transfer from your fork to your tray.

Enjoy!

This was my very first Pinterest creation. I'm so proud of myself for putting this obsession to good use. If you aren't on Pinterest and would like an invitation, send me your email address! You will not be disappointed, just distracted.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Six Years

Six years of ups and downs,
Six years of smiles and frowns.

Six years of happy tears,
Six years of hopes and fears.

Six years of patience and understanding,
Six years still standing.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Potty Training: 1 month down...how many to go?

It's been a month since I started potty training E. I decided to start the second week of July when things weren't so crazy.  By that time, the readiness signs I had been watching were pretty evident - he was SO ready.

I went out and purchased a couple packs of underwear.  Little size two Thomas the Train and Diego underwear on my little baby's butt are simply irrestible.

I started on a weekend and decided to have him go pants free.  We have hardwoods floors so messes are easy to clean up. He got a hang of it pretty quickly and told me MOST of the time if he had to pee, but SOMETIMES I would catch him watching a puddle develop on the floor in front of him, after which he would proclaim, "I'M PEEING, MOMMY!" For number twos - he always told me he had to go while he started pushing and grunting. Actually number twos is how he started, which apparently is a good thing and what most parents have a problem with once number ones are established.

The next full week he was at day care wearing pull-ups.  I didn't really want to use pull-ups, but Mrs. X thought it was the best way, and the way she did it with the rest of the boys until they are absolutely ready for underwear full-time.   I can understand that it's hard for her to catch him all the time.  (Side-note: I keep kicking myself for not switching to cloth diapers). That week was a bit different.  He told her SOMETIMES for number ones and NEVER for number twos.  So her strategy was to take him to the potty often.

Week 2 and 3 he was home with me while he was on holidays from day care and I took vacation time from work. He spent a lot of time in his swim suit and would USUALLY tell me if he had to go.  I didn't use pull-ups at all - only underwear when we were out and about or naked at home. I learned some great lessons and overall he did really well with me and was only wearing diapers to bed.

He was back at day care for the last week, wearing pull-ups.  I understand this might be confusing him, but I don't really have a choice.  He seemed to be regressing a bit. NEVER telling Mrs. X that he had to go, she was constantly asking him to go and putting him on the toilet. He was also forgetting to tell me at home and was waiting til the last minute.  Sometimes I could/can tell he is holding one in, but by the time we get to the toilet he can't hold it any longer and either pees on the floor or on me.

This week has been a bit better. He still isn't telling us as much as I know he is capable of, but I think it is just taking some getting used to the two different locations - home and day care and the two different enforcers - Mrs. X and myself. It can sometimes be hard to not show my feelings of disappointment when he  has an accident, but I'm trying to stay positive for both of us.

So we are a month in and I think I may need to up the anty. I don't really want to get into a habit of rewarding him with candy - is there healthier ways?  Stickers don't seem to be a hot enough commodity.  Maybe a sticker chart would work.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Potty Training: What the experts DON'T tell you

This is only the beginning of our potty training adventure.  1 month down.  I'm sure I'll have much more to add as our journey continues, but here are some of the top things that the SO-CALLED experts DID NOT tell me:

1. You may become obsessed. You will live and breathe for the next time your child needs to relieve themselves.  Watching them in the corner of your eye, listening to their grunting noises, constantly watching their body language. Obsessed.

2. You may risk getting a parking ticket or being towed for fear of your child soiling their last pair of shorts in their car seat.

3. You may need to enter really sketchy places in really weird neighbourhoods because your child is crying in the back seat that they HAVE TO GO PEE! You may need to run down the street with child in arms, reminding them to HOLD IT!

4. You may rush around too much, especially in and out of the car in a desperate attempt to get to a bathroom. You may drop and lock your keys in the car and then wander around like an idiot wondering what you are going to do since your Hubby is out of town with the only other set of keys. 

5. You may have to help your little boy "aim".

6. Your feet may get peed on. Your lap may get peed on.  Your hands may get peed on.

7. You may get overly excited when your child performs. You may sing and dance for pee and jump up and down for poo.

8. At this stage and in less than 3 years your brain functions will have changed drastically.  You will have gone from "Baby Brain" during your pregnancy to "Mommy Brain" once your baby is born to your current "Potty Brain".

That's right, I have Potty Brain. HELP!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer is almost over!

Summer of Awesome, hosted by Turtlehead

I love reading what others are doing for their Summer of Awesome. Summer is now half-way over and we're running out of free weekends, but I was happy to check off some of my activities on my original list while I was on holidays at the end of July.

To start it off, E and I spent a lovely morning at Mud Lake and I blogged about that here.

The three of us made a trip to Calypso one morning. E loved the wave pool and the lazy river, but we didn't venture too far from the toddler area. He especially loved the water hoses and going down the water slides. He was so brave by the end of the morning...running to the top and pushing himself down. I think it would be an awesome place to go with a group of friends so I can try out the big slides and relax in a private cabana.

We tried out a new park and splash pad at Brewer Park. I can't believe we hadn't been there before. That park is amazing! E had a blast running from one play structure to the next and of course splashing around in the water on the hot, hot day. I even got completely soaked after a child aimed the water gun at the top of the splash pad at my back after I asked him not to. E was scared of the gun and I turned my back for a brief second to help him down the slide. Then bam! the little devil got me and chuckled while I ran out of the way. Not funny.

We checked out the Canadian Museum of Nature for the first time too. We went on a Thursday evening, when admission is free and the museum was packed! I had to park the stroller and let E wander to get through the crowds when we first got there. But nearing closing time it was much calmer and he was able to get up close and personal with the dinosaurs, polar bears and fish. His favourite part was climbing all the stairs, pushing all the buttons in the bird section to listen to all the different noises and playing in the boat.

E and I went to a friend's cottage for four days with some of my best friends and had an amazing and relaxing time. No cell phone reception = stress free. E waded in the lake from the time he woke up until bed time, only emerging for meals. And we made some pretty amazing meals and had lots of laughs. We swam out into the lake and E drove his little blow-up boat. We rowed the life boat together. He jumped off the dock again and again (into waiting arms). We tried to catch fish. We sang lots of songs (he seemed to have a new song to sing everyday, all day). And the best part - we slept in a tent. It was my first time "camping" with him and he was in heaven. I really want to do this again before the summer is over.

For the Civic holiday long weekend we went home to visit my family. It is the weekend of a big annual family ball tournament and happens to be THE weekend to be on Wolfe Island. We couldn't get enough players for my family's team this year so I played with my Mom's side the family and we won the B division! The following day we had our family reunion and E had so much fun playing with all of his cousins. A trampoline, bouncy castle, water balloons and kiddie pool - what more could a kid ask for? He also had a blast exploring the farm and testing out each of the tractors. That evening I was able to sneak out to a bbq at a friends cottage. We organized a reunion for everyone in our Grade 8 class. It was a blast catching-up with everyone that could make it.

This past weekend we visited with friends and family in Kingston.  We got to see all the huge boats for the Poker Run at the waterfront with friends and E had fun visiting with my sister at the park, visiting my brother at the market, and visiting with my friend and her daughter at an indoor playground while it rained.

Almost over and still so much to explore!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DIY All-Natural Laundry Detergent

Have you ever considered making your own natural laundry detergent? Seems a little hard-core, eh? I thought so too, but the more I saw recipes pop up the more I was itching to try them out. I finally got around to this while on holidays last month and made 1/2 batch for fear that it wouldn't be all it cracked up to be. Well, fear not my friends - this stuff is awesome!

So, why should you use an all-natural laundry detergent? There's plenty of information out there to make you squirm. Websites that break down all the chemicals and carcinogens that the brand name laundry detergents contain. Contaminants that cause cancer, liver and kidney problems, skin and eye irritations, lung damage, allergic reactions and reproductive and developmental effects...just to name a few. Remember, when I mentioned that I was no longer using dryer fabric sheets? Yeah, they can cause all of these side effects too. And not to mention all of the damage they do to the environment when flushed down the drain or thrown in the garbage.

While we have been using some mild laundry detergents lately to make a tiny step closer to all-natural laundry detergent, I know that this little step has now placed me much closer to my goal of switching over to all-natural household and personal hygiene products for good. And all it took was a little bit of planning, shopping and elbow grease!

The recipe below is from the side of the box of Eco-Pioneer washing soda I purchased, but the first time I saw the recipe was about a year ago. At the time, I thought it was a little too hard-core, ha! There are all kinds of variations out there too, like this one for a liquid version that I recently found on Pinterest. I might try that one out when this one is all used up - months from now!

Here's the recipe if you're interested in jumping on the bandwagon too!

DIY All-Natural Laundry Detergent

4 cups natural soap, finely grated
Finely grated is a must - anything larger won't dissolve properly. I've used pure soap and for my latest batch I used The Soap Works Tea Tree Oil Soap (tea tree oil is anti-septic and anti-fungal). I've purchased the soaps on Well.ca and at Rainbow Natural Foods for $1.99/bar. Each bar grates down to approximately 2 cups of shavings.

2 cups Borax
I purchase my Borax at Loblaws for $5.69/box. If you're not convinced that this is a healthy option, check our Crunchy Betty's research on Borax - something I wondered myself when I started using the stuff.

2 cups washing soda
I've been using Eco-Pioneer Pure Washing Soda, purchased on Well.ca for $8.19/box. You may also find Arm & Hammer Washing Soda in your grocery store (I couldn't find it until after I purchased the Eco-Pioneer online).

Essential oil (optional).
Some people add essential oils like lavender to add a nice scent to their detergent.

Mix all the ingredients together and voila!, you've got yourself a batch of cheap, all-natural, eco-friendly laundry detergent. And the best part - just use 2 tablespoons per load - that's it!I put my batch in a glass canister with a lid (best idea so it doesn't harden and clump together) that I picked up at a consignment store years ago. I think it looks pretty.

For those really soiled clothes, let your clothes soak a bit.  Or, use this awesome all-natural stain remover laundry bar from The Soap Works. I swear it works much better than the Shout spray I used to use.

I've included prices above to give you an idea of how much money you will save. With a couple more bars of soap I'm pretty sure I can make about 4 batches of the recipe. I'm currently keeping tabs of how many loads I am washing so I can do a final count and crunch the numbers once I'm through the canister.

Happy laundering!

Monday, August 8, 2011

I like to move it, move it

Without a babysitter I was forced to bring E along to a dear friend's bridal shower.  I prayed that there would be other children there. There was and I was relieved.  When we arrived, he wrapped his arms around my leg and hid his face in his usual "shy" behaviour".  I knew it wouldn't take long for him to warm-up to the group. 

It was tough to enjoy the celebration while I was constantly watching over him; making sure he didn't break something, act out, or make a scene when the future bride was talking. I shouldn't worry to much about what others think.  He was really well behaved.

As the party starting coming to a close I felt more relaxed as the crowds cleared.  We sat outside with a table full of stragglers and E kept busy in the yard, following my friends young niece, a few years his elder. We watched as he copied her moves and chased her around the yard. Climbing up the stairs and down. Crawling through the gazebo and on top of the turned-upside-down ice bucket. Spinning around in circles.  His excitement grew as he kept up. So thrilled with chase that he broke out in song and dance.  "I like to move it, move it! I like to movie it, it!", he chanted as he moved quickly around the yard and danced on top of the ice bucket. We all watched and laughed.  I laughed so hard, tears formed in my eyes. How quickly he went from not wanting to be noticed, to stealing the show.

I'm joining Capital Mom today by blogging about a moment from my life based on a theme she has provided. This week’s Monday Moment theme is Dancing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Top 10 Breastfeeding Tips for New Mothers {World Breastfeeding Week}

I'm suddenly a huge advocate for breastfeeding.  I didn't know that this was going to happen.  It's something that I became passionate about when I became pregnant. I always knew I would do everything in my power to breastfeed because it was normal to me.  My mother breastfed all 11 of us so I watched her nurse my younger siblings.  Growing up on a farm I watched the farm animals nurse their young.  There was no doubt in my mind that what came naturally was what I was going to do.  But that doesn't go to show that I didn't have my own struggles, heartaches and issues with nursing E. I nursed him for 16 months and I am proud of that, but a part of me also wishes I nursed longer.  In those 16 months I learned so much and I love sharing my experiences with other mothers who ask.  To me, being able to support or assist a new mother in breastfeeding is amazing.

To contribute to the communication of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would share my Top 10 Breastfeeding Tips for New Mothers based on some of mine and some of my friends experiences:

10. Set yourself up for success.  Much like educating yourself about natural birth, you must educate yourself about breastfeeding. Sure, it's supposed to come natural, but it helps to know the insides and outs and be able to troubleshoot if issues should arise.  Read books, take classes, ask other mothers' experiences, watch breastfeeding in person or through video.  Learn about potential booby traps. There is so much to do to prepare yourself. 

Some of my favourite books on breastfeeding that I read and highly recommend are:
9. Seek out a support system. Attend La Leche League meetings or breastfeeding classes.  Join a support group like Ottawa Breastfeeding Buddies. Ask your mother or others that you know that breastfed.  Contact a Lactation Consultant.  Attend breastfeeding drop-in clinics at your local community health centre or Ontario Early Years Centre.

8. Make the first hour after birth part of your birth plan to help start you on the right path.  Learn more about the "Magical Hour". This is something I didn't have and attribute some of my early breastfeeding struggles to.

7. It's all about supply and demand. The more you let your baby nurse, the more milk you will produce.  It is nearly impossible (unless you have medical reasons) for a baby to drink you dry.  The more your baby drinks, the more your body knows to produce more in the future. It may take a few days to notice the increase in supply and your baby will by instinct nurse more to prepare for a growth spurt. Nurse on demand. Don't limit your baby to a feeding schedule, it may make for a very unhappy baby and will cause issues in your supply.

6. Nurse often when your milk comes. It will not only encourage your supply, it will help relieve pressure and tenderness. The more you nurse, the better for both of you. You may also want to invest in a quality breast pump to help.

5. Allowing your child to nurse for comfort can be a good thing.  Not letting them "pacify" can damage your breastfeeding relationship.  Breasts are not only for milk, they supply comfort too.

4. Be adventurous.  Sounds funny, doesn't it? Try different holds - you don't always have to use the cradle hold.  Nurse while lying down to get some shut-eye.  Try nursing while carrying your baby in a wrap.  Nurse in public. Find comfort in your own way.

3. Always offer your second breast when sucking slows or stops on one side.  Try not to pull your baby off if they are not done.  If your baby cries when pulled off they are most likely still hungry! Don't stress if they don't drink from the second breast - sometimes they just need a snack!

2. If your baby spits up often or is fussy after nursing they may be sensitive to something you are eating.  Monitor and eliminate foods that may be triggering discomfort. 

1. Always do what you feel is naturally the best for you and your baby and take advice (including mine) with a grain of rice.  Find what works for you and enjoy and embrace this special bonding time with you baby.


 

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I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.
(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)