Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Toilet Paper Roll Family Craft

E is really into make-believe and puppet-type play these days.  He will frequently come to us holding two toys, handing one over and while wiggling the other toy around ask, "Who are you?".  While I hold a cow and he holds a sheep, we can go from being astronauts to hockey players to farmers to just plain ol' cows and sheep again.  He loves acting out the conversations and I like to try to make them as silly as possible.

I love following his lead when it comes to his current interests.  Puppets are now definitely on his Christmas wish list. But in the meantime, I wanted to find a creative way to expand on this. I've been keeping a lot of recyclables in a big craft bin, including a stack of toilet paper rolls.  The inspiration from this craft came from one I saw on Pinterest. How cute would it be to make believe with little craft versions of ourselves? With only a small list of supplies, you can make one too!

Toilet Paper Roll Family

Supplies:
Fabric or felt
Glue
Scissors
Pictures
Yarn or other embellishments


Our Toilet Paper Roll Family
What do you think?

Thanks to my Mom for letting me raid her bins of fabrics last time I was visiting.  And props to E for some great gluing and wardrobe decisions.  He decided we were all to wear jeans to start.  And he picked Hubby one styling shirt and that brown belt really finishes the outfit.  Cowgirl Mommy is looking pretty in her glue stained silk shirt and E decided he wanted to be dressed in just plain blue.  I was happy to dig out a picture of the dog too. Our family is complete (for now - we'll need to add a baby roll in May).

This family craft was made for the Kids Create! Kids in the Capital November Craft Carnival. It's really easy to join in the carnival - so check it out! It has given me a great excuse to dig in and get creative with E. Stay tuned to Kids in the Capital for my next post, re-capping this month's crafts and announcing December's theme!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2011 edition of 25 days of Christmas

Andrea at a peek inside the fishbowl got me hooked last year on a 25 days of Christmas activity calendar.  I had so much fun planning it with our little family, but have to admit I was a little over ambitious. This year, with Hubby's work schedule in mind, I'm toning it down a bit.

Here is our list for 2011 in no particular order.

1. Attend the Illumination Ceremony on Parliament Hill on Dec 1st.
2. Write and mail little E's letter to Santa and walk down the street to put it in the mailbox.
3. Have a Christmas music dance party in the living room.
4. Go to another Santa Claus parade. E and I already went to the Kanata one, but we will need to take in another one as a whole family.
5. Decorate our tree and house.
6. Make cookies for our daycare and work friends.
7. Make paper snowflakes and decorate our windows.
8. Make homemade banana ice cream with yummy toppings.
9. Make homemade Christmas ornaments for our tree and for gifts.
10. Watch a Christmas movie in our pajamas.
11. Sing Christmas carols.
12. Paint some gifts for family and friends at Gotta Paint.
13. Purchase and donate a toy for Toy Mountain.
14. Watch classic Christmas TV shows together.
15. Have a candlelit dinner.
16. Walk or drive around to see all the houses lit up with Christmas lights.
17. Make Christmas cards for our families.
18. Have a family Christmas on the farm and get a picture of E and all of his little cousins together.
19. Go sledding down the hill at our local park.
20. Go public skating.
21. Curl up with blankets and read Christmas stories and drink hot chocolate.
22. Make a snowman.
23. Go see a movie at the theatre. I'm thinking Happy Feet 2 and it would be E's first time in a theatre.
24. Watch a personalized Magic Santa video.
25. Make Christmas pancakes.

What family activities do you have planned this month?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Closed

At the top of Whistler Mountain
I'm sorry, I can't be bothered right now.

I'm either sleeping in, gazing at the beautiful mountain views, getting some much needed exercise by walking around the village shopping, eating delicious food and ordering with only myself in mind, or relaxing by the fire in my hotel suite.

If you are inquiring about wifely and motherly duties please try again on Wednesday.

***
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 Closed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mom's Birth Stories

If you're new to my blog, you may not have come across the fact that I am one of eleven children. Yes, ELEVEN! It has been a blessing growing up in a large family and the more I grow as a parent myself, the more I appreciate my mother. Because being a mother is not an easy job, as many of us have come to learn.

Our current ages range from 39 to 19. That's 20 years of pregnancies, births and breastfeeding.  She's experienced in many of the things I take great interest in and she's a gosh darn saint if you ask me.

I've written a bit about my views on birth.  Natural and informed birth is something I am passionate about. Looking back at my mother's stories eases my frustration slightly, because seeing how things were 39 years ago really does show that we have come a far way.

The thing that amazes me the most is how my mother endured pregnancy, birth and child rearing again and again with little support. Unlike me, she didn't have a mother to call to ask questions. Her mother passed away just two days after her wedding and never lived to see any of her grandchildren.  My mother was also the first of her siblings to have children.  She had a couple friends and distant family, but she was pretty much on her own.  Unlike me, she also didn't have the Internet or easy access to the many books I read from the library.  She read what she could get her hands on, but what like many people do she relied on her Doctor to guide her. As a farmer's wife, she also did a majority of the child rearing, since my father was always in the barn or the fields.  And don't even get me started with the negative comments she received as her family grew larger. She is a strong woman. I think you get the picture?

Last month, when I wrote about my views on Dr. Nancy's pending live-streamed birth, I mentioned that my mother gave birth eleven times and that it certainly doesn't get easier. After reading through some of those comments I realized that something I've always wanted to learn more about were my own mother's birth stories.  My mother kept a lot of notes and journals for each of her children and frequently goes back to them when I ask questions.  She can easily give me specifics from when her labour started to the date I got braces. She has pages and pages of frayed yellowed notebook paper in her binder listing milestone after milestone. I love her binder. But the one thing that is missing is her overall experience and her feelings and how giving birth shaped her into the woman she is today.

I have yet to write out my full 1st birth story. My goal is to write it out once I get through my mother's stories.  I'm planning to post each of her stories separately because we all know how unique each can be. I've given her some questions and now once she has written out a few stories, I have many more follow-up questions to ask.  I don't want to miss any important details. I can't wait to share her stories and more importantly, write them out for her.

What would you ask your mother about birth? What important details would you want to know?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Always smiling

During one of his nightly calls while away, Hubby reminded me that if I was planning on driving anywhere substantial that I needed to get the oil changed if I hadn't done it already. Oh bossy sprockets! I thought (Yes, that's a Thomas the Train quote). I didn't have time! Why do I leave everything to the last minute? I had to pack E up for Grandma's for the day, get the oil changed, go to a friend's bridal shower then head down to Kingston for two more events. Needless to say, I was up early Saturday morning.

Our first stop in the morning was the garage and E sat silently in the back as I drove stonefaced thinking of all the things I packed and may have forgotten. I was in good form I realized, only making one mental note to stop at the drug store on the way to Grandma's for more cough syrup for E's lingering cough.

That's when E piped up. Knocking me out of my frazzled state.


"Mommy?!"  
"Yes?"
"Um um um um um um um um um...I just want to kiss you!"

We entered the garage for our oil change and what is usually a tedious task had turned into an amazing learning adventure. I watched E as he sat in silence watching the mechanics' every move and as the large door was lifted and we drove out of the garage, the back seat came alive again. "That was so much fun! Let's do it again!"

Next was the drug store and we scurried hand-in-hand through the aisles and were soon out the door. As we walked out, the sun escaped from behind a cloud and blinded us.  E exclaimed, "Wow, Mommy look! Look at the sun. It's so comfy and cozy and so beautiful!"

Living in the moment.
Breathing everything in.
Appreciating the littlest things.
Teaching me always.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This week I'm grateful for...

Amanda from Let's Take the Metro started a Gratitude 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?" So here I am reminding myself to be grateful.

1. A new nephew! And I get to go see him this weekend! A safe and healthy delivery for my SIL is also something to be grateful for.  That makes 2 girls and then 6 boys in a row for my parents grandchildren so far. 3 more babies are currently cooking...

2. A cleaner house.  Notice how I didn't say clean? It's just cleaner...that's all.

3. Another cute baby boy born to my friend yesterday. And sweet cuddles enjoyed at the hospital last night.  So grateful for being able to support her, but most of all so proud and happy for her.

4.  Hubby flying home tonight. Even though I said things may be easier around the house when's he gone, life in general is better when he is around.  Looking forward to our back-to-normal-craziness and a new outlook.

5. A jam packed day consisting of a bridal shower for a friend, wedding dress shopping with my best friend and an evening with my Mom and sisters for my Mom's birthday. Can't wait!

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Pregnancy Checklist - #2 maybe not?

I’m crossing off a list I made last year of things I would do differently with my second pregnancy. Last week, I talked about crossing #1 off my list.

I’m not sure why I was so set on this one a year ago, but I really don’t feel the same right now. 

"#2 - I will find out the sex. We kept little E's sex a secret, but we both strongly felt he was going to be a boy. It was important for me to keep it a secret for our first child, but the suspense nearly killed Hubby. I don't know why but I don't think we can do it again!"
We gathered enough gender neutral things last time that I can’t see why we can’t use them again.  Otherwise, why else do I need to know? I don’t need any more baby stuff that would need to be gender specific.  Even though we were both pretty convinced that E was a boy we packed a gender-neutral outfit for the hospital just in case. Maybe I would pack a cute little girly one this time,  just in case. 

The thing is I thought I would be really anxious to find out if we were having a girl this time. Turns out I’m not that interested in knowing.  Having another boy sounds just as exciting.

Another funny thing happened this week. Hubby’s Grandma asked me if I was going to find out this time.  This is the same woman that asked and asked and asked when I was pregnant with E.  The constant asking was clearly her way of trying to sway me into breaking and finding out, but I stood my ground.  When I hesitantly responded this week, telling her I’m thinking of keeping it a surprise again, she responded with a, “That’s nice. It will be nice to have a surprise again”. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. No rhyming off of the pros to finding out the sex! So that pretty much sealed the deal for me.  I think. I'm not sure if Hubby can hold out.

…to be continued.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sasha

After hearing the name Sasha come up again and again while E is playing with his toys, I decided to ask some questions.

Who is Sasha? My friend.

Is Sasha a boy or girl? A little boy.
Where does he live? At the farm with Grandpa.
What do you do together? We count on the puter.
When do you play with him? 6 firty.
Where did you meet him? At the hospital and the restaurant.

Where is he now? He is at the restaurant, Lonestar.
What's he doing there? He is playing there.
Is he coming to our house? At 6.

There was no hesitation in his answers. Straight up facts. So, is it safe to say that since I have never met or heard of a Sasha in E's life that perhaps my 2.5 year old has an imaginary friend?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

I'm a huge fan of Melissa & Doug toys. E loves to play pretend with his wooden play food and is becoming quite the pro with his wooden puzzles. This year for Christmas I have my eye on some more Melissa & Doug toys for him so when I saw this opportunity to spread the word about this deal, I couldn't pass it up. Enjoy!

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at MelissaAndDoug.com just for voting!



Monday, November 14, 2011

In my groove

Hubby is away for a week. 

Maybe I shouldn't admit to this and maybe this is insulting or a bad sign, but things are just easier when he's gone.  I have been wracking my brain the last few days trying to understand why? Why do I feel more at ease? Why is the house cleaner? Why is the dog not annoying the heck out of me? Why do I feel like I can do anything and go anywhere without hesitation?

I think I finally figured it out. It's certainly not easier physically in the amount of tasks I need to do in a day. It's mentally and emotionally easier because of my expectations. 

Expectations. They are a killer. 

When Hubby is here, work constantly calls on him.  And it stresses. me. out.  Work calls him while we are enjoying a nice day at the park together as a family. Work calls him when we are starting our Saturday morning lying in bed and making tents, looking forward to what lies ahead for the rest of the day. Works calls when we are expecting him home for dinner.  Work continues calling on him when I am waiting up for him to come home.

When he is here I expect him to pitch in and it's disappointing when he can't.  When he needs to tend to work I am stuck, usually last minute - to take the dog for walk, to put the laundry away, to feed the dog, to make lunches - many of his usual chores.  When I get stuck with them time and time again it is emotionally draining. It's tiring and it puts me in a horrible mood. I can't and I try not to take it out on him. His job is important.  It's just unfortunate that it takes him away from us so often and makes things fall on my plate more often than not.  I am always trying to stay strong.  This is something that has taken me a long time to accept, but I can't deny that is still bothers me at times.

So while he is away this week, E and I are doing whatever we want whenever we want because we don't have to worry about being on call.  We have a great morning routine and evening routine.  I haven't seen my house this clean in weeks.  I'm getting a ton of sleep.  I am not letting anything get in our way. I feel free.

I think I need to take this approach even when he is here. If I don't expect so much from him, maybe things will be easier on all of us.  If I don't grumble every time I have to take the dog for a walk. If I don't pout every time I need to fold and put away the laundry or throw the garbage out. If I just expect to do everything even when he is home, his pitching in will be more of a blessing. If I assume that all the chores are already on my plate, like they are this week, things will be more easily accepted.  I know it doesn't seem fair, but it is our reality at this time.  Maybe it will work?

Have you ever found things easier when solo parenting? Seems crazy, right?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Pregnancy Checklist - #1 check!


About 11 months ago I found out I had another nephew* on the way and it prompted me to start thinking about what I would do differently with my second pregnancy. I really appreciated the comments that streamed from that post and have learned so much since then. So here I am, expecting baby #2 and checking my list.

The first thing on my list was:

"1. I will get a Midwife. With little E I had an OB, but with no doubt in my mind I will switch to a Midwife next time. I like the idea of going through the pregnancy with 1 or 2 midwives that work together and having them there with you on the day of birth too. With my OB, it was just whoever was on call from the clinic that day. I had a great OB, but the connection and assistance I needed just wasn't there."

I've had two amazing appointments with my midwife so far. I decided to go with a new midwifery clinic here in Ottawa that was started by five (I think) midwifes who are branching out from a collective to cater to a community in need of a clinic. Since the clinic was still under renovations in the beginning, my first appointment was at home on my couch. Amazing. E even got to chat with our midwife and sit on my lap and ask questions. It was such a blessing to have our family together at the appointment in the comfort of our home. 

My second appointment was at the new clinic which is conveniently close to my workplace. I'll take an appointment on a comfy couch over a crinkly paper covered examining table any day! My midwife is everything I have ever hoped for.  Caring, reassuring, easy to talk to, focused. My calmness with this pregnancy is amazing so far and although part of it is probably because I am no longer venturing into the unknown - having a midwife and knowing that I am not going to have to fight my way to a natural pregnancy and birth is calming.

We've had a dating ultrasound and got to see our little peanut and have heard the heartbeat a couple times. Initial blood work has been completed and these results I will discuss further at another time. All in all, Mommy and Baby are healthy and strong!

I am looking forward to documenting more of my feelings and experiences with this pregnancy, adding more things to my list and checking them all off!

* Since that nephew was born there have been 4 more pregnancies announced in my family. Can you say baby boom? We're taking over the world!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Big News!

I started the month off well and although I didn't commit to NaBloPoMo, I was hoping I could keep the streak going. I couldn't. 

My usual writing time is when E is in bed and I usually stay up WAY too late. I just can't do it these days. I. AM. EXHAUSTED. As soon as E is in bed, I either crash on the couch or head straight to bed. Yes, my house is a disaster and I don't care. 

All of this extra and much-needed sleep is actually a good thing and it's because I have been (literally) holding some really good news inside. 

E is going to be a big brother!

As you can imagine, I have A LOT to talk about this these days. It is a very exciting time for my little family and growing extended family so be prepared for lots of baby talk around here for the next little long while!

29 weeks to go!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A classic dairy allergy

At the end of September, we had a follow-up appointment at CHEO for E's dairy allergy. We were referred to the Gastroenterology clinic because all of his symptoms have been gastro related.

The Doctor confirmed that everything I have done thus far is correct. Trusting my gut and eliminating dairy from his diet completely and stopping the "trials" was the right decision.  We had blood tests done and they confirmed that he is in fact allergic to dairy. She called it a "classic" allergy, although there is still a slight chance that he may grow out of it until about 5 years old.  I'm not even thinking about that anymore.

We are lucky E's symptoms are not anaphylatic or life threatening. But they do cause him discomfort and who wants to see their child in pain?  I'm very strict with the foods that E eats and I am extremely lucky that his day care provider is so accommodating.  It's our extra help, like family, that I need to keep a close eye on. If you have never had to live through an allergy, you don't think to double check the ingredients of every package and this is something we need to do.  The first thing I did was email and talk to those who watch him periodically to explain the findings and listed the ingredients to watch out for. It gave me piece of mind that they are now informed and it helped them understand a little bit more.

We've come this far and dairy is no longer something I crave for him. We have adopted a healthy diet otherwise and he is a strong healthy boy. If anything, I was happy leaving that appointment.  Someone finally agreed with me. We finally got answers. We can move on.

My lesson to new parents out there? Keep asking questions. Don't take no for an answer. You know your child best.

For more on our journey with this allergy, from the beginning when E was only a  few months old to now at 2.5 years old - you can check out the posts I've written on this topic in the last year:

It's no use crying over spilled milk
Crossing my fingers
Again
The Dairy and Soy Battle Continues
So(y), What?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Halloween does to a toddler

For the past few weeks E has been exposed to all kinds of creepy decorations and costumes and this has been the first year he has really understood what was going on around him.

I made a huge parenting mistake and decided to nip into the new Monster Halloween store down the street from his day care one evening.  I wasn't expecting to be bombarded by chattering skeleton teeth, spinning clown heads and crawling spiders.  Needless to say I took my boy out of there right quick as soon as he gripped onto my shoulder.  I thought there would just be a bunch of costumes hanging on the wall, honest!

At daycare some of the bigger kids wore masks one day and that REALLY scared him. That evening and the following few nights I was constantly reassuring E that they were just silly costumes. Eventually, he learned to reassure himself and while playing on the floor with his trucks I could hear him making conversation between his toys. "Roarr!!!", said one truck. "It's okay, it's just a costume", the other would reply.

Then one car would say, "Do you want to go to the Ween store?" and the other would say, "No thank you, it's too scary".

I scarred my child for life!

The Monster Halloween store had a costumed employee stand on the corner of the street promoting and encouraging drivers to stop during evening rush hour.  Unfortunately, this street corner is on our route home and E would ask questions and watch the costumed employee dance around.  The costume went from a werewolf one day to a monkey or a frog other days.  When we would get home and park the car, E would ask where the werewolf was. When we started walking up our front steps he would ask if the monkey was following us.  And when we got in the door he would tell me to shut the door so the frog couldn’t come in.  He would constantly remind himself about the costumes while walking up the stairs at home and never wanted to go to another room by himself. And while in the bath tub he was suddenly terrified of his wind-up swimming frog, had to have the shower curtain open and constantly asked, “What was that sound?”. When we would snuggle in bed in the morning and hid under the blanket tent he would say, “No one is going to scare us! No one is going to get us!”

Yes, this Halloween season has done a number on my child!

Last night the three of us went to three houses of people we know and E was super excited to go trick-or-treating. He got a couple handfuls of dairy free candy and was thrilled to see all the costumes and decorations and point out at the jack-o-lanterns. While some of them spooked him a bit, for the most part he was overjoyed and excited and all the spooky thoughts seem to escape him. I’m happy to see everything ended on a somewhat happy note – I was terrified that my child had been scarred for life. Now let’s hope everyone packs up their costume’s and decorations now and I don’t have to deal with this for another year!