Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Day!

So, it's snowing outside and you don't really feel like taking your toddlers out - what will you do with them for an entire day at home?!?!

Here's a list of a few things I do with the kids, mine are aged 2-4 so all activities are based on those age groups:

1. Sticker Pictures! I always keep a huge bag of stickers around for moments when I need to get something done (like make lunch or dinner). This is something that is quick to set up (20 seconds) and even a 2 year old can do on their own. It doesn't make a mess either so no real clean up - bonus!  Just give each kid a stack of stickers, some crayons or makers and some paper and see what they come up with.

2.  Crafts, crafts and more crafts. Really, they'll do anything so what I usually do is go to this site: pick out a craft that is season or holiday related, and then get them started on it. There's a ton of selections on crafts to make and you can pick the ones that are age appropriate for your kids.

3.  Get them to help out around the house. If I feel like we're getting stuck for something to do I pull open a cupboard that needs to be cleaned out and get the kids to help me. I give them small tasks like tell them which pile to put each item on but place the piles a little ways away so they have to get up and run to the pile. I get organized and they get a bit of fun out of it. Truthfully they usually get bored after about 7-8 minutes but by that time I have my piles sorted and just need to put them back in order.

4. Make a fort. Seriously, it will take you 1 minute to get a blanket and strategically place it between couches or chairs and they will play in that thing forever.

5. Shaw on Demand. Yep, once again if there's something I need to get done and they're getting bored for having been inside all day I start up Shaw on Demand and put on one of their favourite shows. I sometimes tape a show and then reserve it for days like this so that it's new and exciting for them and allows me 25 minutes to get something done!

6. Get them to help you shovel! We bought 2 little shovels and we take them outside and get them to 'help' us. Though really somethings they cause a little more work for us they love the feeling that they're helping out with an adult chore and it gets them outside for a bit.

What are some things you do with your kids on snow days?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Traveling with Toddlers

So, we survived our trip to the Dominican with two toddlers. I can't really say that we're in any way rested but the kids had a good time so in a family trip I guess that's what it's really about.

Before we left I asked many people for advice on traveling with toddlers and got all sorts of responses. I thought I'd compile a list of things that worked for us, and maybe a few things that didn't!

1. Talk about the trip with your little ones a head of time. I talked to them about how we were going on an adventure on a plane and we were going to the beach. I just happened to tape an episode of Caillou where he goes on a plane so that helped for them to watch it a few times before we left.

2. Packing luggage- because we were going somewhere where diapers weren't readily available I packed diapers in DS's carry-on, and enough in his luggage to survive 2 extra days. It took up a lot of space but the good news was the space was used up on the way back with souvenirs! 
   - Packing carry-on, we went to a cheap store and bought each kid their own carry-on luggage with themes they would like (DS got Thomas the Train and DD got Tinkerbell). Inside the carry-on I put the things I knew they would want most such as their favourite blankies, a few stuffed animals, a pillow (small travel sized ones they had been using prior to the trip), and then an extra set of clothes each.
   - Toys/Entertainment - There were all sorts of suggestions I got but the one that was the most valuable was to take a portable DVD players. We didn't own one so bought one and it was a LIFESAVER. We had 4 flights and there were times we were in the airport for hours. It was easy to pull it out and let the kids watch a favourite show or movie if they were getting restless. Even on the plane where there's tv, the tv didn't work for almost an entire flight so we were thankful to have the DVD player to entertain them for a while.  We also bought them each a Nintendo DS. We called them early Christmas presents and again, they were lifesavers. The kids loved playing with them so we would take them to the restaurant with us at night. The kid's meals always came right away where we had to wait for ours, so the kids would be done eating and would play with their games while we were able to eat our meals in relative peace ;)
  I also packed several sets of stickers, for each new flight I would pull out new stickers so they had something new. I also did this with a few cheap books and it worked well. Some other things that worked well were crayons/colouring books, and those magic pen games you can buy as they're not messy and kids seem to be fascinated with them.

3.  Try to keep them on their old schedule - loosely.  We recognized that with the time change and all the excitement it was going to be difficult to keep them on schedule but we found that as long as we loosely tried to keep their normal schedule of when they slept and ate they were able to adapt to the new beds and situation fairly easily.  We did try to avoid our son's nap time but after a few days realized he still needed it and on the days he got it he was much happier in the afternoons.

Some things that didn't work:

1. Having any expectation that it would be relaxing for me! For hubby it was something completely outside his normal day so he found it to be relaxing at times. But for me it was doing exactly what I do at home but just relocated to somewhere warmer with a beach! I got 1 afternoon to hit the spa for a massage and pedicure and that was it. The rest of the trip was doing what I do at home but with less structure so next time I know that unless I actually book time away from the kids it won't be a very relaxing trip.

2. Three course meals. We tried this a few nights but the kids always got their meal on the 1st course so would be done while we were eating appetizers. The DS Nintendo games would keep them busy until about 1/2 way through our meals but would never last until dessert. I learned that you need to keep it to two courses or if you're desperate for dessert - get it to go!

3. No matter how many times I tried to explain to DH about the dangers of little kids and water I just don't think he got it. He would put them in the kiddy pool and sit on a lounge chair and do a crossword puzzle; , on the other hand, would sit in the pool with them. The water only came up to DS's waist but even then there was 2 times he lost his footing and fell backwards. Both times I noticed it instantly because I was watching him diligently. I was able to reach him within seconds, even so his head went under water for a second and he got scared - understandable for a 2 year old.  My point being that when it comes to toddlers and water you can't take your eyes off them for a second, and you can't be lounging on a pool chair while the kids are in the pool. So, talk to your significant other and make sure you both have the same understanding about what 'watching the kids' means.

All in all I'm hoping that next time we go the kids will be that much older that it will make things a little easier. Or maybe we can just convince the grandparents to come along to help share the load ;)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Want to Help and Don't Know How?

Have you ever wished you were more involved in your community and doing something to make a difference? But then you sit back and think you're not sure where to start, where to find opportunities, or you just don't have the time to search for what you're looking for. If so then  I hope I can help :)

When living in Calgary I started up a volunteer group. Once a month I would research and arrange a volunteer outing and anyone that could attend would do so. Generally I tried to find opportunities that fell on a weeknight or weekend as that's when most people could attend, but occasionally I'd find something on a weekday for the people that found that to be better for their schedule.

The outings we did were things like the following: packed goodfood boxes for the United Way (a program that allows lower-income people to purchase produce at a reduced cost), we hosted a birthday party night for seniors in a seniors residence complex, we wrapped Christmas presents at the Mustard Seed, served meals in school to children from lower-income families, and we put together information kits for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

As of January I'm hoping to put together a group like this in Edmonton and wanted to know if anyone is interested in joining. Nothing much is required of you to join, I just need your e-mail address if you're interested. Each month I'll simply e-mail you the volunteer opportunity I've arranged and you let me know if you can make it. Volunteer outings will vary but feel free to put forth any suggestions or ideas on where you would like to volunteer and I'd do my best to accommodate it.

Please let me know if you are interested, either leave a comment on here or DM me on twitter (my handle is joeyjojrshabado) and I'll add you to the list for when I have our first opportunity set up.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Cold! Help the Homeless & Working Poor!

As you recently experienced it can get MIGHTY cold in this province. While we experience it when going from our car to our house there are those that experience it all throughout the day and worse, the night. Even the working poor can’t afford proper mitts/toques/coats/socks while they wait for a bus or work in the cold.

The Mustard Seed Edmonton has put together a Christmas Wish-list of items they are hoping to collect to help get the homeless and working poor though the winter and I was hoping you could help me collect some of these items.

I’ve attached the wish List for your perusal but some of the top items they need are the following:

Long underwear
Winter Coats
Bus Passes
Wool Blankets
Pocket Hand Warmers
Travel Mugs
$5 Coffee gift cards
Hot Chocolate
Lip Balm

Some of the other items on the Wish List are also geared towards small children and teens if you are more interested in helping out the children.

I know Christmas is an expensive time of year for people, as well as a very busy one, but if you are able to donate ANY item off the list please let me know. I am HAPPY to pick up anything you wish to donate and then I'll drop it all off at The Mustard Seed. 

All items have to be delivered to The Mustard Seed by a certain date so I’m hoping to have all items dropped off to my house OR for me to pick it up at your house by Friday, December 10th.  

Hopefully together we can make this winter pass just a little bit easier for our fellow Edmontonians that need some help.

Thanks folks!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sucky Service

Ok. Is it me or has service gone waaaaay downhill as of late? 

Last Friday I went to shop at the Banana Republic Factory Outlet Store. While the clothing was beautiful and the store was clean, the service was simply non-existent. Seriously, there was no one there! Not one employee was noticed on the floor helping me or anyone else, there was no one in the change room for the first 3-5 minutes I waited for someone to let me in a room, and there was no one at the cashier when I went to pay so I had to stand and wait for someone to notice me waiting. I would have approached someone if I saw a single person that worked there!!

Then on the weekend we went to try the newly revamped D'lish Wine Bar and though the food was really good, the service was not. Our waiter had no personality, didn't sell us on trying anything on the menu and himself seemed not only unsure of himself but what he was actually doing on this planet. At one point he actually said 'we haven't had too many complaints about that'; so does that mean it's about 50/50 on the complaints? What's 'too many'?  We all agreed at our table we wished we had someone else to serve us as our guy was a dud.

Then today I took DS to Walmart to pick out some items for our upcoming vacation. We picked out a few DVDs, stickers, some paints as well. They only had 3 tills open (not nearly enough for a Walmart...why have 20 odd tills if you are only going to use 3?) and when I was at the till the manager was instructing the cashier to double check the cost of the DVDs as they were pulling at the incorrect prices. She checked all of them and as I was paying she DIDN'T put the bag in the cart (as she had done with all the previous bags) and so I left thinking I had everything when in fact I didn't. I got home and noticed right away the bag was missing so called promptly. I let the phone ring for 2 minutes and 45 seconds and no one answered. Customer Service fail #2 (incorrect prices and failure to put the bag in my cart #1). I waited about 15 minutes and tried again. I finally got someone and when I explained to her what happened she said 'oh yes, we found the bag. You need to come in and reshop all the items and then we'll run them through the till again and give them to you'. I was completely perplexed as it had only been 1 hour since I left the store, why couldn't I just come in and pick up that 1 bag? She said as soon as they find a bag they put all the items back on the shelves.

So, let me get this situation right. They didn't have enough staff to work tills but enough staff to put PAID items back on the shelves??? Were they hoping I didn't call? I wondered how they would know what I actually took home and what was in the bag if they put it all back and she said they documented it in a binder. So, have the time to document it, put the items back, but are not able to just leave the bag intact for someone to come claim it 1 hour after it was purchased?? Is it me or does anyone else how ridiculous this system is??

Anyway, this just adds to a long line of poor service I've experienced of late. I certainly don't feel that the 'customer is always right' anymore. Nor do I even feel that my business is valued and appreciated. What has happened to customer service?? Do people read the customer surveys I fill out?  Please Lord just say that it's not just me that this stuff happens to!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Me Time - Selfish or Necessary?

I was at a meeting the other day and we were discussing moms getting out and doing things for themselves. It made me think about how whenever I bring up 'me time' to other moms there seems to be two camps of moms: Camp 1. Me time? YES PLEASE   and Camp 2. Me time? No, I'd prefer to be with my family.

As a FIRM member of Camp 1 I have a difficult time understanding those moms that like to be in Camp 2. Since becoming a mom I've had a hard time establishing who 'Jody' is and making sure that other's also view me as more than just a mom, being a stay at home mom makes this even  more difficult. Why is it that some moms feel it necessary to distinguish themselves as more than just a mom and some believe the title 'mom' is simply enough?

Is being a mom rewarding in itself? Yes, at times it really is. When I see my kids do or say something I know I helped teach them - it can be a proud moment. Or those times they catch you off guard and say something very sweet, it's a moment to treasure. But there's the rest of the day where you are a chauffeur, a cook, a house cleaner, a human kleenex (if one more kid uses my shirt to wipe their nose I think I'll scream), a craft queen, a teacher, a disciplinarian, etc, etc. All the things you are that you pretty much never get credit for and that goes unappreciated. For me, those are the things that can be very mundane and draining, I will fully admit that I get bored after 2 minutes of playing with playdough!

So, as a member of Camp 1 I find it essential to my well being to get in my 'Me Time'. I volunteer, I read, I get together with girlfriends, join clubs, and work out. It's not about trying to remember who I was before kids, it's about defining myself WITH kids.

Now the question is, is that selfish? I'm sure some moms would jump right up and say that yes it is selfish to worry about myself when I should be taking that time to work with my kids on potty training, or spelling, or how to use scissors. I could be making homemade birthday cakes, making Halloween costumes from scratch and making sure I document all the things that my children so I never forget and can show them in the future. This is where I will fully admit to ANY man, woman or child - I am NOT a perfect mom, nor will I ever strive to be one. I am however a good mom that makes mistakes. I choose to buy that birthday cake because it saves me hours of labour in which I usually spend some of that time with the kids and some of it on myself.  I choose not to hand make a Halloween costume because again, it would take me DAYS to even figure out how to sew. Days I could spend with my kids at the park and nights I could spend doing volunteer work, or reading a book - things I enjoy.

The reason I do these things for myself is I feel it makes ME a better person. It allows me time to breathe, to express myself through my own interests and recharge my batteries that get drained throughout the day when I do all my mom jobs. If some call me selfish for that, I understand but I will not apologize nor will I change. It's simply what I need to do to get through the day and be the decent mom I am. Without those things, I'm pretty sure I'd have to go back to work full-time and let someone else watch my kids as I would be useless to them!

Me & my mom at a breast cancer fundraiser.

Me time or not? I wonder if this is something we are taught from our own moms? What I learned from my mom was to see her as more than just 'mom'. She worked part-time from the time I was 3 and started full-time when I was 6. She had women's groups she belonged to. She played softball. She also went on dates with my dad on a weekly basis. It made me see her as mom and also as Lorraine. So it seems I take after her.

Selfish or necessary? I guess it's up to each mom to decide for herself.

I would be most interested to hear from someone in Camp 2. If you fall into that category or know someone who does please comment and let me know what recharges your batteries, what drives you, and how you feel appreciated for your efforts.

Disclaimer: I personally hate the phrase 'just a mom'. As a mom I know that no one BUT a mom knows what it all entails so I feel able to use that phrase. But just a piece of advice, unless you are a mom I'd avoid using that phrase or you might get the snotty shirt mentioned above thrown at your head.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Bookies

After moving back to Edmonton last year one of the first things I did was put out some feelers to see who would be interested in joining a book club. I was in a book club in Calgary for around 4-5 years and loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not EVERY minute of it as one of the original members wanted to read the autobiography of Traci Lords and I wasn't super pumped about that. Luckily she bailed after the first month so I never ended up having to stand in line at Chapters with that in my hands!

Anyway, I was very lucky to find 5 other women who were interested in being in a book club so we formed 'The Bookies' (sounds kind of cool sometimes to say 'I'm going to see my Bookies'). Anyway, we've been meeting for the past year and have uncovered some gems (i.e. Water For Elephants) and also some duds (Ulysses - I suffered through that book and will never, ever touch it again. BUT I finished it so gave myself a certificate to commemorate that achievement).

In our book club we meet in October or November and pick all the books we're going to read for the following year. Being the practical person I am I like to read ahead so that if I get really busy one month I don't have to scramble to meet the deadline. We also skip meeting in December and July as those months tend to be really busy or people are travelling.  Because people have extra time to read that means we slot the larger books for January and August. We also try to slip at least 1 classic book in but last year we read 4 (not that I would count Ulysses as a classic but some schmo did so I included that in the count) so this year we only went with 2 older more classic books, The Princess Bride and The Third Policeman.

Anyway, the Bookies got together last night and hashed out a new list for 2011. Here's the official
Bookies 2011 Book Club Selections, in order we're going to read them:

The Princess Bride – William Goldman  (then we're going to get together to watch the movie afterwards!)
The Room – Emma Donaghue
Half Broke Horses – Jeannette Walls
The Zookeepers Wife – Diane Ackerman
The Shack – William P. Young
The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien
Blood Meridian – Cormac Mccarthy
Ape House – Sara Gruen
The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
Still Alice – Lisa Genova

If any of you have read any of the above books and would like to make a comment if you like it or hated it feel free to add your thoughts, we like to know what we're getting into ;) Also feel free to read along with us and post your comments on a monthly basis when you see me add my book review.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Essentials

For the past 6 months I've been volunteering for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run For The Cure. In that time I've heard a lot of positive, uplifting stories and I've also  heard a few sad ones. It really made me start to think about my kids and what things I'd like to instill in them, what things I'd really want to carry over if something should ever happen to me. I know some of you might think that's a bit negative or morbid but it's just a reality that it does happen to some people and we just all hope and pray it's not us.

Anyway, here's some of the things that came to the top of my mind as the 'essentials' I hope my kids learn from me:

1. Kindness, empathy, and understanding. To me these things are more important than being the smartest kid in the class. I hope they will be able to look at all situations in life, all types of people, all types of religion and politics and view them with respect and compassion.

2. Manners - to me it's basic human decency to say 'thank you', to give a wave, to hold a door open, to give a smile to someone who does the same for you. My goodness what a different world this would be if everyone could do such basic things. I'm really hoping my kids will understand the value of being polite!

3.  Giving - this goes along with #1. I hope that my children see that by having empathy and understanding of others, you also really see the needs in our community. I want them to not just see the need but to feel a drive to help alleviate that need. It doesn't matter to me what projects they choose as important to them, but that they find organizations that speak to them and they feel driven to help them. 

4. Family and Friends. Nothing is as important as a strong family connection, they are the ones there with you for life. I hear of so many fighting families and I think it's heartbreaking, especially when some of the issues are relatively small in comparison to the years of work put into the relationship. Friends are along the same basis, some friendships grow more or less important over time but you never know when they could turn the other way and you might be in need of that friendship, or they might be in need of yours.

5. Love of everything non-academic! I know, it's probably the opposite thing that you'll hear from most parents. I figure they'll get enough pressure from David to perform in school but what I want to instill in my children is balance. Yes, doing well in school is important but so is reading novels, writing, sports, music, art, etc, etc.  You never know when you might have the next Mia Hamm, Hemingway, or John Williams on your hands, and you will never know unless you encourage them to explore the other things that they enjoy or just get them to try new things.

All in all I want my children to be well rounded and I hope this is something that they can learn from me. What things do you wish your children will pick up from you?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When Hubby is Away - The Kids Will...Go Crazy?

So, once again I'm alone taking care of two toddlers. I know there's many women who do this as their husbands work in the oil field (living in Alberta this is very common) but my hubby doesn't and this isn't what I banked on when we married and decided to have children. What I did marry though is a husband who is ambitious, hardworking, and yes - a little OCD when it comes to letting work lie at 5pm and picking it back up at 8am.

Sadly, when certain months roll around I just know that I'll be a temporary single mom and September is usually the worst. Well, it used to be the worst but it's hard to pick the worst month now as with his new role he has to do budgeting, and staff reviews, and all sorts of other things that he didn't used to have to do. Last month I looked back at a calendar and we went over 2 weeks without having 1 meal together as a family, and that was in August which should be a slow month. This month Hubby is going 26 days without spending more than 1 hour at a time with the kids - yikes!

We do our best to make it through but the kids sure react to his absence. Lately they've taken to pushing their chairs over beside his empty one and say 'Sitting beside Daddy!' over and over again even though he's not there. It's sad! (I've attached a picture of what the table looks like when they do this)When they get upset they've also started yelling for Daddy and if they wake up in the middle of the night they yell for him. I've also notice that they act CRAZY when they finally realize that he's not just working late or left for work early but that he's actually on a trip and hasn't been sleeping at home. They act up more, they get more emotional, they fight more. It's hard to explain it unless you have witnessed the change yourself.

It's hard enough to be left home alone a lot but it's a heck of a lot harder to be home alone with two toddlers. Without the support of my family I would of had a mental break down LONG ago!

Here's a few of my practical tips on surviving with kids while the hubby is away:

1. Make sure he calls them every day - they live for a chance to reconnect with him, even if it's just for a moment. Also, if they start to miss him and get upset you can remind them about the conversation they had with him earlier.

2. Get the kids to make him a craft. He might come home to 20 sticker pictures, or paintings but it makes them feel sooo good to think of him and make something for him (I think Dads also really like knowing the kids were thinking of them the whole time)

3. Break the routine. Do something different with the kids that helps take their mind off the normal bedtime routine (usually when they realize the most that Daddy isn't there). I go to a book store and buy them each 1-2 new books. Then during the bedtime routine if they start to get upset I show them the new book and we read those. Or if they notice Daddy isn't there around dinner time I get them to switch chairs, or we have a picnic on the floor.

4. Have people over for a visit, anyone really! I find the more people in the house the more the kids don't realize it's missing the 1 person they want there the most. If we've gone a day or two without Daddy and they're starting to get upset I find it helpful to be able to tell them who they DO get to visit next. They remember this and usually talk about it all day :)

Let me know if you have any tips to help kids from missing their dad or mom when they're away. I could always use a few new tricks up my sleeve!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Landscaping - The Play

J - me
DH- Darling Husband
LC - Landscaping Chick

Spotlight comes up to signal a new day. Stage is set with a kitchen table, chairs & window looking into a backyard.

Enter J & DH:

DH: It's time to hire the landscaper, let's go with LC.
J: Sounds good, she's coming over this morning to discuss it.

Doorbell rings & J answers the door.

J: Hi LC, we're so happy you can start work on our yard. We desperately need a safe place for the kids to play. What are your time lines?

LC: We will be starting in June and should be finished within 3 weeks providing the city approves the final grade within 10 days.

J: That's SO exciting. We can't wait!!

LC: Great, I'll get started right away.

Lights go down. 10 seconds later lights go back up to signify a new day. J is sitting on a kitchen chair looking out the window. Rain is pouring down the window.

Lights go down. 10 seconds later lights go back up to signify a new day. J is sitting on a kitchen chair looking out the window, head in hands. Rain is pouring down the window.

Announcer says:  One Month Later...

Lights go up. J is sitting on a kitchen chair, nose pressed up against the window and is on the phone.

J: Honestly, there's someone here!!! They're starting work on the fence.  Oh this is so exciting! Our yard is finally getting done! The kids will be able to play in it the rest of the summer! Isn't this fantastic!

Lights go down. 10 seconds later lights go back up to signify a new day. J is sitting on a kitchen chair looking out the window, running hands through hair and looking agitated. Rain is pouring down the window.

Announcer says: One Month Later...

Lights go up. J is standing in the kitchen looking out the window and is on the phone.

J: Yep, someone is here again today and they have TREES with them. Yes, I swear to God, they have trees, equipment and they're digging holes. This is so exciting, we're finally getting our yard done!! The kids will have a few weeks to play in the yard!

Lights go down. 10 seconds later lights go back up to signify a new day. J is closing the drapes to the window & snarling.  Rain is pouring down the window.

Announcer says: Several Weeks Later...

Lights go up. J is pacing at the window and is on the phone.

J: Ok, they're here. The clouds look like it might give them a window of a couple hours, let's see what they can get done. They couldn't get close to our house because of the Caritas lottery people and the builders from across the street who INSIST on parking across our driveway but I think the huge pile of mulch they dropped in front of that car should deter them from parking there for at least a day or so. That should allow them to start putting in the shrubs and plants. The kids should be able to play out there just before the first snowfall...oh. Never mind. It just started raining again.

Lights go down and do not go back up...yet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's Show Time!

Wow, it's finally here. Tomorrow my little Turkey will be attending her first preschool class and I'm so excited for her...and for me! For the first time in 2 1/2 years I will have one-on-one time with my little Ham. Turkey already gets this time when he is napping and she had it before he was born. This is finally a chance to spend some quality time with my little man :) Plus, I'll admit that it is just so much easier to do things with 1 kid instead of 2 kids in tow!

Not sure how I'll react tomorrow,  I might surprise myself and shed a tear or two - not at the fact that I'm leaving her to attend class on her own but just that she's growing up and it makes me proud. On the other hand I also know I might skip to my car as until next May I have 2 1/2 extra hours, 3 times a week with only 1 child. That's how I spell 'managable'! I won't dread grocery shopping, running errands, shopping, or going to a playground. I might even brave Galaxyland, only 1 kid to watch and hold hands with - this might actually work!!

Anyway, as I put little Mable Labels on all of Turkey's stuff it makes me think of how much she has grown up. Just the other day she was able to write her name by herself and used the phrases 'give her a hand' and 'that's cool'. Wow. This is the little girl that started life out one month early and at a whopping 4lbs 6oz. Time really does fly, it doesn't seem like that when you're in the moment but it sure does when you're looking back.

I'll be sure to post her '1st day of school' picture here tomorrow :)

UPDATE: She LOVED preschool! She asked me when she can go back and I said Friday, explained that was the day after next and she said 'But my friends will MISS me tomorrow!' She's much happier now that I've explained they won't be there either ;)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Help! I'm addicted!!

Recently I've realized that I am totally and completely addicted to saying 'yes' when people ask for help. I'm not sure what compels me to always say yes but I almost always do, it's like a knee-jerk reaction! Them: "We are looking for some people to help..."
Me (as I either cut them off or don't read any further): "YES"

The other day I told my DH that things will TOTALLY slow down after Run For The Cure wraps up in October. He just looked at me, rolled his eyes and said 'Yeah, until you sign up for something else'. I laughed but then realized he was completely right, eek! There is just something inside me that can't stand to sit on my hands when someone asks for help.

It got me thinking about what else I'm addicted to so I thought I'd start a list. This is what I came up with:

1. Volunteering of any nature and donating to people raising money for walks/runs, their kid's hockey team, a new playground, etc. Whatever it is I can't say no!  Hmm, maybe I shouldn't have advertised that, I feel like my inbox will now be full of stuff like someone raising funds to try and find the Bermuda Triangle.

2. Starbucks Chai. Now lets be very clear, it must be a STARBUCKS chai. I've had chai all over the place and no one makes it like them. And even then I can tell you which Starbucks in Edmonton make it consistently the way I like it.

3. Books, especially ordering books on-line. I get so bloody excited to open the mailbox and see a key for I know it's my eagerly anticipated new books. It's to the point where I simply can't read as fast as I buy. I joke that someone needs to help me with this but I'd probably secretly hate someone if they tried to take away my on-line Chapters account from me!

4. Bubble baths. I have one almost every night, it helps give me the quiet time needed to read the above mentioned growing stack of books.

5. My Blackberry. I'm not one of those people standing in line for hours for the new IPhone because I don't want to surf the Internet, or play games, or download a bunch of apps, what I want is constant access to my e-mail and a super easy keyboard on the phone to type. I find it vital to have access to my e-mail at all times, I think this is because of addictions number #1, I've signed myself up for so many things it's like I have another full time job on top of my mom full time job and need to keep everything in order. DH didn't understand why I needed one but if you looked at my calendar and the # of e-mails I get an hour you'd understand just like he did.

6. Sonic 102.9.  I have it on in the house The first thing I do when I enter the kitchen is turn on the radio to Sonic and then turn on my Blackberry (at least I'm not addicted enough to have it beside me in bed!!).  In the car the kids take turns listening to cd's of the music they like; Doodlebops, Wiggles, etc, then I say 'It's mommy's turn' and I turn on Sonic.  I truly hope that my children grow to love alternative music rather than pop music!!!

Anyway, there's my dirty little secret confession of my addictions, don't hold it against me but feel free to supply me ;)  Except maybe addition #1 as I'm seriously overloaded and just signed up for another committee, it's hampering my ability to enjoy my other addictions!

Feel free to share yours as well...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Notes For A New Mom

As I know a few pregnant, soon-to-be new moms out there I thought I'd post some of the tips I give other new moms. These are just a few of the things that other moms never told me and I sure wish they had!

Hope they help.


1. Go on dates now, lots of dates. Especially movies, lots of movies and lots of dinners in restaurants you wouldn't dream of bringing a child to.

2. Pre-make meals now and freeze them or buy a bunch of frozen meals. You have no idea what kind of baby you're going to get, or what kind of mom you're going to be so be prepared. You simply might not be able to put baby down to make a meal for yourself so pre-made meals are the way to go for the first little while.

3. Negotiate NOW. Make sure DH understands that weekends need to be rest time for both of you. Likely you'll be the one getting up every night to feed and change the baby so you need 1 day to sleep in on the weekend just like he does. I negotiated for every evening (that he was home) off from 8pm - 11pm and then 1 night each weekend he had to get up with the baby if it cried and that morning I got to sleep in. That way we both got some sleep and a break from the baby.

4. Avoid buying sleepers that do up in the back, it's so complicated to figure that out at first. Do you lay the baby on their face? Do you try to do it when they're in your lap? It's confusing. Ones that snap in the front are usually pretty good because then you can just undo the bottom portion to change the baby and their torso doesn't get exposed & cold with every change.

5. You don't need 1 million gadgets, your mommy senses will tingle ALL THE TIME. You will now get 'mommy sleep' which means very little, wake at every, little sound - sleep.

6. Do buy a 3 pack of bottles and a small tin of formula and sterilize the bottles. If you don't use it, GREAT! Then all you wasted was maybe $15-$20. But you never know how breastfeeding will go and you need to be prepared to feed your child at 2am if your milk production suddenly stops or if it never comes in. I'm speaking from experience...almost no stores are open at 2am and we thankfully had some in the house, otherwise DD would have missed the 2am and 5am feeding as my milk simply disappeared. I had to get medication from the doctor the next day to start it back up again and even then it took a day for it to come back.

Post Baby

1. In the hospital bathroom you'll likely find a weird mesh looking thing...that's underwear. I swear to God. It's the underwear they ask you to wear. Trust me and just put it on.

2. Have a birthing plan A, a plan B, and a plan C.  Every birth is different and you never know what you're going to get so be prepared to change your original plan, and maybe even change it again.

3. EAT before you go to the hospital, you don't know when they'll let you eat again

4. If in your plan A, plan B or plan C you might have an epidural, upon arrival ask the nurse what their practice is for epidurals. Is there a list? Do you just get one when you want one? When's the cut-off point to request one?  Where I gave birth you had to put your name on the LIST and all c-sections and emergencies came before you, so you could possibly wait hours to get one. If and when you finally decide when you want one you do not want to be told it's hours away!

5. Going home clothes: you won't fit into regular pants yet so plan to wear maternity pants home. Also bring flip flops or slip on shoes as your feet can swell and it can be hard to get your shoes back on.

6. You will have a LOT of people looking at your private parts, you might be worried about this ahead of time but honestly, when you're in the moment and in pain - you couldn't care less. I still suggest you get a pedicure before the baby is due because for some reason most moms do notice their own feet, mainly because they're up in the air beside your face while pushing.

Post Baby

1. Take ANY and ALL help that is being offered. Seriously, you'll thank me later if it allows you an extra hour of sleep, 1 less meal to make or 1 less round of laundry.

2. After you bring the baby home practice putting them in their car seat. I might get some eye rolling from that but until you have this little person  in your arms you don't realize how hard it can be to get them dressed, changed, into 'outside' wear, into a car seat, that car seat into the car, then work the stroller on top of that. It can be daunting for a new mom so I always suggest you do it in baby steps. 1st. get the kid into a car seat and back out. 2nd after you feel good about that get them in the car seat, into the car and then go to something like a Starbucks drive-thru and back home. 3rd after you feel good about handling all that, take someone with you (a mom or MIL is always good) and plan an outing like the mall. Tell them you'll do everything (car seat, stroller, etc) yourself but you at least have them there as a back up if you can't figure out how to put something together or how to manage doors and such. Soon you'll be an old pro at it and won't think twice but it usually takes you a few outings to get to that point.

3.  Don't sign up for every class in the world just yet. Give yourself a month or two of leeway time to get used to the baby. Signing up for classes the week after your baby  is due will just put extra pressure on you that you won't need. You'll be figuring out feedings, and lack of sleep, and all the other aspects to a newborn. Also, what you get from a baby in the first week or two does not dictate how they're going to be at the 1 or 2 month mark. The classes will still be there at the 2 or 3 month mark or whenever you feel up for some adventure with your babe.

4.  It's a hard, hard, hard job. You hear people say it all the time but you will not get a true appreciation or understanding of it until you're in that situation. Your whole world just got turned upside down so go easy on yourself!!!!!!! Have the phone numbers of your friends on hand because you will have tons of  questions and no one is better to ask than the people who know you and who have recently been through it. You get some awesome advice, tips, and help from other moms out there. It's an amazing network of bonding, use it!

The best part of all of this, you go home with this beautiful little person that you made. At times you’re going to want to pull out your hair because it’s so hard, but at other times you look at this amazing little person and they give you this look, or smile, or make a cute gesture and it makes it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Camping - The Aftermath

Sooo, where do I return my camping membership card? I got one in my late teens, used it quite frequently in my 20's but since I've reached my 30's & have 2 toddlers I'd now like to return my membership.

I should be clear here, I'm talking about camping with a TENT. DH doesn't think camping in a massive RV is REALLY camping so he likes to do it old school in a tent. Usually this declaration is followed with a 'When I was a kid' story that I soon tune out as I KNOW his family owns a cottage and was told they spent every summer there!

So, we did the family tenting experience and now I'd like the return my membership as a result. I'm not looking for a refund, honestly, just take it so I don't ever have to experience that again.

Some people think I exaggerate but then you simply don't know my kids or my hubby! Ask the people that stayed around us and they can give you a blow by blow description of it. Here's a bit of what happened to paint you a better picture:

1. 10 minutes in DS has scraped his hand and gotten gravel embedded in his hand.

2. 20 minutes in DH can't figure out how to set up the tent and has set it up wrong. Must take it down and start over. Kids are REALLY patient with that.

3. 40 minutes in tent is finally set up right but DS has already almost torn it down, has tripped over the tent pegs 4 times and skinned his knees, at least they match his hand - he's a Curious George band-aid king at this point.

4. 1 1/2 hours in...FIRE PIT...2 year old and 3 year old...need I say more??

5. 2 hours in, supper is over and I commence washing dishes, DS picks up a huge handful of dirt and rocks and puts it into the wash bin and all the dishes I'm washing are now filthy - oh well, I still use the water anyway as it will take too long to boil another pot.

6. 3 Hours in kids are tired and wanting to go to bed, it doesn't mean they actually GO to bed though. DS gets into DH's cell phone and plays with it until we find him and put him back in bed. 10 minutes later he's found DH's wallet and takes absolutely everything out of the wallet and spread it around the tent, it takes forever to find all the change, receipts and credit cards. He does this again with DH's toiletry bag, the kids' suitcase and mine.

7. 4 Hours in I'm sick of going in to the tent every 10 minutes to put them to bed so give up and go lay in the tent with them to try and keep them from getting up every 5 minutes. Yay camping.

8. 5 Hours in (around 9pm) DH comes in, puts in EAR PLUGS and goes to sleep while I stay up continuously putting the kids back down.

9. 6 Hours in DD finally goes to sleep

10. 6 1/2 Hours in DS finally goes to sleep. Promptly 10 minutes later someone pulls into the spot across from us to set up their trailer, starts blaring tacky music and a blender starts up. Swear to God, a BLENDER!?!

11. Throughout the night a car alarm goes off 4 times, blender goes off countless times, DS and DD are up over a dozen times (I actually lost count) and I get 2 hours of sleep while DH snores away with his EAR PLUGS.

12. Next day highlights.
- DS's hand look infected from the 1st day's accident. He falls into some shrubs and now both legs are full of scratches to match his scraped knees.

- He sticks his hand into a pop can and slices the heck out of 1 finger so he's really looking beat up now.

- DS throws probably the biggest rock he can lift and it hits DD right in the back of the head.

- DH takes the kids for a walk and is certain DS was stung by a wasp and DD is covered in mosquito bites.

- DD finds a knife and decides to play with it but I am able to stop her before she does any damage

- DH burns himself quite badly on the fire pit while showing DD (who is 3) how to put logs on the fire. Hate to say it but better him than her

- DH puts the kids to bed, they fall asleep with 30 minutes but so does he! After I wait for him I finally wake him up so we can actually sit by this stupid fire that is supposed to be so great. He BRAGS about how 'you just need to wear the kids out' before you put them to bed (OK Mr. EAR PLUGS) and then I'm quite satisfied that within 3 minutes of that statement both kids are up - HA!

- Kids are up all night again, yes that's over a dozen times again. Blender doesn't start up that night but the stupid car alarm goes off again multiple times. I mean really, is it necessary?!?!

13. Day Three. Oh forget it, I think you get the picture by kids are handful and so is DH. If I'd had any sense right at the start I would have taken those stupid EAR PLUGS and thrown them in the fire. That way he could have sat up with me all night long and understood why I was so tired and had a hard time managing the kids.

Long story short - if someone can tell me who to return my membership card to I'd appreciate it as I see it getting no further use. From now on I'd rather rent a cabin for a week and still get that 'great sitting around the fire' experience. And no matter what type of vacation we do in the future I think EAR PLUGS should be banned!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Family Outings at Their Best

This past weekend we decided to behave like a normal family unit and attend two of Edmonton's festivals: K-Days (yes, I will forever call it K-Days and hope that's what my kids will call it too), and Heritage Days.

Because of our DS who still naps all our outings take place in the afternoons. We decided to skip lunch and head straight down to the K-Day grounds after he woke up which turned out to be a good decision as we got decent parking near the entrance and the line-ups weren't too bad when we first arrived. Here's some of the things I learned from our family outings:

- ALWAYS take the 'Lost Child' sticker. It's uber sticky and they can't take it off themselves if you put it on their back. Put 2 cell numbers on there in case one of you doesn't hear your phone or loses it. And consider getting an extra sticker to put on your hubby if yours gets as wrapped up in the excitement as mine does ;)

- give you kids a set of rules. Since mine are so young we keep the rules simple: NO running away from mommy & daddy. That and 'No hitting' as that should just be a standard one that applies at all times

- measure the height of your child before you go. We were very disappointed to realize that our DS could only go on about 5 rides. We at least had enough common sense to measure him at the grounds prior to purchasing tickets or an all day ride pass at that would have been useless to him.

- the food on the grounds suck, everyone knows this. The only surprise every year is what new menu item have they added that will kill you faster than the last one. So, plan ahead to bring a few healthy snacks, eat inside at the food court, or simply resign yourself that after eating on the midway you will have little Tasmanian Devils on your hands until that junk food/sugar high settles down. (IF you time this correctly you can let them wear off that energy dancing to one of the free kids shows on the Telus stage, we did - SCORE!)

At Heritage Days

- since you're travelling with small kids remember to take the map that is provided in the Edmonton Journal a couple days before the event. It's best to plan out what food you know you'll love (and the kids will like) and map out your best plan of attack. I always plan so that I hit the ticket booth first, the Lost Kids tent second, and then various food booths and planned potty breaks. I saw one dad RUNNING with his kid over his shoulder to the closest bathrooms & another mom push her way past 30-odd people in line to make sure their kids made it in time, plan ahead and this won't be a worry

- LOST KIDS STICKERS - I know I mentioned it above but whatever event you attend it's best you scope this tent or service out. When I was volunteering for the Food Bank later in the evening one very distraught dad came running up to us to ask if we'd seen his 3 year old son - scary!

- Sunscreen, shade, sunscreen, shade. We always try to go with the grandparents or other people to help us keep an eye on the kids. This also helps when you need to take a shade break, some people stay to watch the kids in the shade while others go out and forage for food to bring back to the tribe.

- Bring a donation to the Food Bank! Even with carrying that stroller, and diaper bag, and sippy cups - we're parents so we're used to juggling multiple things, a few items for the food bank won't break the balancing act.

- Know when to call it quits. Yes, you might not have made it to that Hungarian tent for some langos but if the kids are whining and they're having a harder time listing to the few rules you gave them, it's time to pull the plug and get on a bus home.

Those are just a few of the things I find helpful when doing our family outings to some of the many Edmonton festivals. On a side note, I just wanted to say how amazing Heritage Days are. It was my favourite festival as a child, and it's my favourite festival as an adult. When I was on my volunteer break I was sitting on the hill people watching and it struck me what I love so much about this festival; it's about diversity, understanding, and acceptance. What better way to celebrate Edmonton and the people that live in it. I truly hope to instill this in my children and hope they see it & love it the same way I do.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Host or Attendee - Which Are You?

I've pretty much decided there's two types of people in this world; The Host or The Attendee. Now while people can be both at times, in truth they are almost always one more than the other. Think about it...when was the last time you invited people over or out to something? OR, when was the last time someone asked you out to an event or over for dinner?

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm most certainly in the Host category. Recently I've decided to try and test out the Attendee seat as the Host position is wearing me down.

For anyone that is a Host by nature I'm sure you know the work that is involved, what I'm not sure of is if the Attendees have any idea what it's like? Can an Attendee truly empathize with a Host in knowing what is all involved with planning an event or having people over?

Over the years I've found much enjoyment out of being the Host but usually there comes a point where I start to get fed up with the job. Usually this comes after many Attendees don't take even a few seconds to respond to an invite with a simple 'yes' or 'no', or even worse you plan a night out and after someone says no, they plan an event the same night as yours.

Now I know that technically there's no rules to the Host/Attendee relationship but I think there should be some simple ettiquete that everyone should adopt:


1. Reply. Really, is there much more that needs to be said to that?

2. Say 'Thank You' for the invite. Unless the person is inviting you to their 10th Tupperware party in the past 4 months there's really no reason to not show some appreciation for the fact that the Host wants to do something, and wants to do that something with you

3. After saying 'no' and listing the reason why as you can't find a babysitter, or you're sick, don't plan another event for the same night and invite the original host. Seriously, that's just bad taste.

4. Don't hijack the original invitation and make it your own. If no one wants to go to the original idea planned then talk to the Host and bring up some suggestions on alternative ideas, then together you can present it to the rest of the group.

5. Once and a while do a self check and realize that the Host has now asked you out for the past four outings you've done together...maybe it's your turn to play Host.


1. Don't plan something on someone else's big day. Be aware of people's birthdays/anniversaries etc. We can't avoid them all but at least try to avoid the big ones like weddings and 1st birthday parties.

2. Don't invite the same people to the same type of event all the time (i.e. Tupperware, Epicure, Pampered Chef, etc). It can get expensive for the guests as they pretty much always feel obligated to buy at least something least I know I do!

3. Be aware that not everyone can afford certain outings. Be polite and invite everyone but also understand that they might not be able to swing that group trip to Mexico or even that dinner at a 4 star restaurant. *side note - Attendee, please realize that it's likely the host knows of your financial situation but would rather send the invite to you than you feel even more left out for not being invited in the first place*

4. Take a hint, if someone is not responding to your invites...stop inviting.

If both Hosts and Attendees can adopt some simple rules like the ones above I think it can lead to a very healthy Host/Attendee relationship. Until then I'm going to try and break in my new Attendee seat...let the invites pour in for my perusal! Oh, who am I kidding - you all know I'll be back to Hosting or else I won't see half the people I consider my friends...that's what you get for selecting mainly Attendee types as friends.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Moments of Joy

Though you hear me talk a lot about how hard it is with two toddlers 14 months apart there are those moments that make your heart soar, tickle your funny bone, or make your eyes water with joy. My little people cause me a few extra gray hairs a day but they also provide me with those moments of joy where I just can't believe this little wonder is part of me.

There are too many moments throughout their 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years to list them all so I thought I'd share some of the things they do right now that put a smile on my face:

- They ask to visit Auntie Katie and Uncle Chris, & Grandma and Grandpa EVERY SINGLE DAY

- Jocelyn makes up songs about people and things, her latest song was 'Todd is over here, and Shilo is over there

- Cole's mischievous little grin - though you know whatever it is he has planned is probably going to infuriate you, the little grin is the cutest thing

- When they're shy around someone they hold each other around the waist and slowly walk up to the person while trying not to topple over (that moment makes up for so many of the times I have to break up their fights)

- Cole's cheeks. I now know why old ladies pinch the cheeks of kids so much; sometimes they are just so darn adorable!

- Jocelyn's bedtime stores she 'reads' you, they are full of imagination and it reminds you of all the things you made up as a kid

- How EVERY time we pass a new construction site Jocelyn asks if they're building a castle

- It may sound weird but when Mr. Cole was really sick all he wanted to do was sleep in my arms. I wish away the sickness but not that moment of closeness when only mommy could make it better

- How much Mr. Cole loves robots. Robot shirts, talking like a robot, robot toys - it's sort of adorable.

- When my Turkey says 'I luv you mom, you're my BEST friend'. or 'Mom, you're a genius!'

- When Jocelyn says 'Holy Macaroli'

- When Cole says 'ank you mom' or 'I vuv you'

- The look of ecstasy on their faces when they realize we're going to let them get dirty or wet; it's like in their minds they're thinking 'Greatest. Day. EVER'

Anyway, though I have my days where I scour the want-ads looking for an escape from being a stay-at-home mom; these are just a few of the reasons I choose to remain a stay-at-home-mom. I mean come on, people at work don't talk to you about castles and robots, and they never say 'I vuv you'; and if they do I'm pretty sure a harassment lawsuit is involved.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Road Trip - Remember When They Used To Be Fun?

Ahhh, remember the days when a friend would declare 'ROAD TRIP' and you would all scramble to get your stuff together on a couple days notice (or even 1 day notice)? Remember how much fun it was? Someone would think to make up a mix tape (GOD that made me sound old), someone would remember to bring snacks, someone would think of a couple good stops to make on the way. It didn't really seem to be where we were going, getting there was really half the fun.

Now the mention of the word 'road trip' sends shivers up my spine and makes me quietly back away from the conversation like it never came up; kind of hard to do when hubby is the one mentioning it and you're the only other person in the room.

For me road trips now mean multiple healthy snacks, Dora and Diego books, games, planned potty breaks, toys, Doodlebop cds, and Calliou and Barney DVDs. Road trips now mean endless versions of 'How much longer', 'I don't want to listen to Elmo', 'He hit me!'. They also now mean getting from point A to point B in the quickest most efficient manner as to limit the actual time spent sitting in the car. Gopher Hole Museum, who cares?!? We must get to our destination NOW!

All the enjoyment I used to get out of driving has now been removed from the vehicle. I used to love quite time to think to myself, and at times pumping MY music and singing along. Now I sadly know all the words to every childrens cd we own and even worse, find myself singing said songs even when I'm not around the kids. Egads!

Toddlers have sapped all my enjoyment of road trips. I truly hope that one day we can stop to view Pinter MacBean in Bow Island, or Susie - The Largest Softball in Chauvin, or even the World's Largest Piggybank in Coleman. Until then should you ever want to propose a road trip to me it must be presented in the following manner: 'Jody...girls weekend - spa; quiet time; drinks; 4 star restaurants. Want to go?' I'd also probably accept this alternative: 'Jody...couples weekend - wine tour; spa; quiet time; 4 star restaurants. Want to go?' Now THOSE are the types of road trips I can get excited about!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Rant From The Crazy Lady

Did you see that crazy lady in her PJ's getting angry at that construction worker this morning??? Yep, that was me. I've finally reached 'Crazy Lady' status as I just simply can't take it anymore! I think I've quoted the construction bylaw enough times I may just know it all by heart.

I will fully admit that before we started building we knew that it was going to be a pain in the ass, but I just didn't understand how much of a pain in the ass it could really be - I was naive.

Silly me thought I would hear a fair amount of noise from about 8am until 8pm. Little did I know that the City of Edmonton actually allows for construction from 7am-10pm Mon-Sat and 9am-7pm on Sundays and holidays.

I sucked it up and adjusted to the new routine of lots of 'BEEP, BEEP, BEEP' of equipment backing up in the mornings, nails being hammered, construction workers blaring their awful taste in music, but what I will not adjust to is construction starting before that 7am start time.

Call me what you will behind my back (or to my face) Mr. Worker but this is where I LIVE and I WILL have you abide by that 7am start time and 10pm finish time. I am quite sure that if I came into your neighbourhood and made the same level of noise you make, that you would chase me off.

I've been pretty flexible in the past, if you start at 6:45am I won't complain but anything before 6:30am gets me all riled up! And come on, 5:50am??? Use your brain, can you see all the kids toys out behind our undeveloped yard - yep that means there's people that live here with little kids. Seriously, it's not that hard to figure out.

I can totally appreciate that the weather has not cooperated with your building efforts and so you try to fit it in when you can. But then how about instead of starting at 5:50am or finishing at 10:45pm, you cut down that 2 hour lunch break I saw you take? Or the 45 minute smoke break with your friends that came over?

Really, I'm not a bitch but I most certainly can be bitchy about this subject. I've put up with the endless amounts of garbage that ends up in our yard, the nails on the sidewalk my kids pick up, your peeing in front of my kitchen window, your swearing, etc, etc but I've finally drawn my line in the sand when it comes to the 5:50am start time. Now I simply give a fair warning, should you cross that line you will have to deal with the crazy lady in her PJ's, and possibly her rolling pin.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Practical Shopper

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm not a HUGE fan of shopping. I think it all stems back to when my brother, cousin and I got dragged around West Edmonton Mall every Friday night while our moms tried on clothes. Store after store after store our only excitement was to fight for the single chair by the change rooms so we at least had somewhere to sit. It was excruciatingly painful!!

People used to be amazed that I would only go shopping 4 times a year (yep that's right, once a quarter!) and were shocked to see how many bags I could carry at one time. People seeing me come out of the mall with my bags would always make oh so witty comments like 'shop much?' which I could easily answer with 'actually, no'.

I'll admit that I have eased up a bit on my dislike of shopping and now only call it an inconvenience. Truly I don't like going unless I have something specific to purchase but now with so many friends getting married and having kids (plus my own kids) means many more trips to the mall.

There's a few things I've learned that help me get what I need in a short period of time so that I don't get turned off shopping again. Here's a few of the things I find help:

1. Plan out your shopping excursion. Park at the end of the mall where you're going to do the majority of your shopping or where you plan on purchasing the larger items.
2. Save buying the larger items until last as you don't want to have to carry them around the whole trip.

3. Leave the kids at home unless you're only going for 1 thing. It's near impossible to push a stroller with 2 kids, plus parcels, plus sippy cups, and a purse, a diaper bag, etc.

4. If you are able to leave the kids at home it means you're likely shopping on a Saturday or Sunday so to avoid the crowds go the moment the stores open. Even at West Edmonton Mall it's relatively quiet first thing in the morning.

5. Bring reusable bags. Many stores are now charging for plastic bags - as they should be! So store a couple reusable bags in your car so you're ready to go.

6. Avoid the food court. Really, can anyone honestly say they've had a great food court experience? It will just make you feel gross and slow you down!

7. And finally, avoid eye contact with the kiosk vendors or you'll end up with some new skin cream on your face or a remote helicopter following you around!

Hope those help, if you have any additional tips feel free to post them :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To Camp or Not to Camp, That is the Question

Camping with children, either you have it in you or you don't. I'm pretty darn sure I fall into the latter category, at least until my kids are both potty trained, in big beds and no longer napping.

But first we should really clarify what camping is to you; is it a tent in the wilderness, or is it in a huge RV with running water, a shower, a toilet and a fridge where you back into a stall next to 50 other huge homes on wheels?

Two years ago DH was determined we try camping with the kids. Little man was only 6 months old and our Turkey was just over 1 1/2 years old. DH borrowed one of those above mentioned huge RV's so we didn't have to worry about it getting too cold at night, keeping milk cold for the kids, making formula bottles and sterilizing them, quiet places to nap, etc. Basically it was the easiest form of camping ever.

My SIL came along with her 3 and 5 year old daughters and decided to go the tent route which worked ok as neither child was still napping, they were both potty trained and sleeping in 'big girl' beds.

After many beers around the campfire that night, while listening to her children still fighting at 11pm, we both conceded that neither of us felt on vacation. We determined that camping with kids wasn't really a vacation, it was simply a relocation. Our husbands couldn't understand but really, could they ever? These are the guys that decide on the spur of the moment to go swimming so throw the kids in a car and start driving. It's the mom that will say 'Do you have their swimsuits? Do you have their towels? Sippy cups? Swim diapers? Coins for a locker?' to which the hubbies will answer 'No. Oh I forgot those. Can you get me that stuff?'.

Camping with an RV is definitely a step closer to the comforts of home so is less work and involves less concerns with travelling with children. But camping with a tent means so many more obstacles that you need to work out prior to departing. It was one thing when you were just a young married couple and would pitch a tent in the middle of the wilderness & sit and read books and stare at a fire for hours on end. Now with 2 toddlers that spells boredom and a huge safety concern!

Sure enough, DH is determined we try camping again this summer and wants to do it old style, that is in a tent. So while he's picturing fishing and sitting around roasting marshmallows I'm picturing a 2 yr old that is used to a crib and now has all this sudden bedtime freedom, and two toddlers with a fascination with fire, and how to keep the milk cold!

As I said before either you have it in you or you don't and I'm still quite certain that I don't; the very thought of camping shouldn't cause heart palpitations - right? Right?!?!

So, I'm accepting any words of wisdom, comments of support, or copious amounts of booze to get through the weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Home Remedies & Old Wives' Tales

So, I'm sure you've heard a few of them...chicken soup when you're sick, ginger ale that is flat when you have a fever, an itchy palm means money is coming your way, a rapid heart rate in babe means you're having a girl, etc. Have you ever wondered if any of these things are actually true? Have you ever actually tested any of them?

Yesterday when the little man could not stop coughing I finally decided to test one I had heard a while back: to stop a cough rub Vics on the soles of his feet. He actually thought it was pretty funny and I'm happy to say he actually kept his socks on, I was positive he was going to take them back off again to explore his gelled feet. The Vics didn't stop his cough entirely but I did notice a difference. He had been coughing non-stop (literally every 5-10 seconds) and I noticed it went down to about once or twice a minute, and then we had a period of an hour or so that he only coughed a few times. I'd probably do it again before I'd swear by it but I was happy to at least see SOME sort of change in him.

Anyway, I figured this would be a good place to ask you for your home remedies, or old wives' tales that you have tested or have found to be true. Let's hear 'em!

I bought 3 Lotto Max tickets and have yet to experience itchy palms so we'll see what happens after the there any way to MAKE your palms itchy???

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sick Kids = Survival Mode

He jinxed it!!! DH said 'They kids haven't been sick in a while' and sure enough now they're sick. I think there should be some sort of rule, the person that jinxes something should be the one that has to suffer the consequences.

So, the little lady has a cold and the little man has laryngitis. I didn't think laryngitis was such a big thing but it is for the little man as he could barely breathe for 2 days. They even did x-rays to try and make sure he didn't have Epiglottitis, which can be life threatening because the epiglottis can swell to the point where the tot can't breath. The doctor seems to be most worried about this as he gave me instructions about going to the ER should his breathing become any worse and he gave me an antibiotic to fight the bacteria that causes Epiglottitis.

Scary to hear the little guy having such a hard time breathing, but I'm happy to say he is having less difficulty today so hopefully that 24 hours worth of antibiotics is helping to bring the swelling in his throat down.

There's a few things I learned from this I thought I'd share:

1. Always carry juice or water (I carry sippy cups) for tots as your proposed 30 minute trip may end up being a 3 hour experience

2. Always carry stickers in your purse. These are LIFESAVERS when you are stuck waiting in the doctor office, you can only play Eye Spy for so long!

3. Tic Tacs are one of the greatest inventions ever. For some reason my kids think they're treats and so I always carry a container in my purse. Again, another thing to distract them for a minute and yet its only got 'Less than 2 calories per serving' if I remember the commercial correctly.

4. Call the x-ray place before you show up. I took the kids to the closest location and they stated they don't take children under the age of 5 because they don't have the proper restraints to hold them in place. I offered to hold him and they still didn't let me do it. Went to another location and they didn't even attempt to use any restraints on him, they asked me to hold him!! What a waste of an extra trip.

5. Sick kids = survival mode. You can't do it all when the kids are sick so pick and choose what is essential to get done and what you would just like to get done. You might be disappointed you won't get to do certain things you've planned but there's no sense burning the candle at both ends with you might be up all night with a sick little one.

6. TV can be your friend when the kids are sick. Think about it, when you're feeling sick what do you like to do? Probably sleep, read and watch TV so why not let your kids do the same thing? You might feel guilty about keeping your kids inside on a beautiful day but if you wouldn't go out when you're sick don't force it on the kids. Again, survival mode. They'll be happy to sit still watching Barney and you'll be happy for a bit of a break since you've probably been up all night.

Anyway, every kid gets sick sooner or later so just keep your cool and use your 'mom' senses to make good judgement calls. Then after you get the kids in bed make sure to pat yourself on the back and indulge in some wine & treats for doing such a good job :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Practical Bride - as per request

As I do have a few friends getting married this year I will dust off some old practical things I learned while getting married. Depending on the size of your wedding some things may apply while others may not...take whatever nuggets you may find in this post :)

First and foremost...SHOES!!!! I simply can't stress enough how important the shoes are in your wedding, and I don't mean how they look...I mean how they FEEL! Some of my girlfriends suffered the task of bridal shoe shopping with me and looked on precariously as I waved shoes in the face of sales ladies complaining of pointed, 4 inch heels shaped like mini devices of torture.

All I wanted was a practical, comfortable shoe. Was that too much to ask for?? Apparently it was as it took me months to find a pair (and I secretly think they were actually meant for a high school graduation). Still, the shoe looked comfortable and the heel was manageable and yet by 7pm I was ready to cry with every step I took. My mistake, I only wore them twice around the house to break them in. Honestly, it would have taken at least 10 wears at several hours each time to maybe break them in. Wedding shoes are designed for looks, not for comfort - simple as that. I had heard of many women switching to flip flops part way through the evening but I ended up barefoot as I simply didn't think it would happen to me as I chose the 'practical' shoe with a low heel and a square toe - duh!

Learning from my sister-in-law the best way to approach the wedding shoe problem is to simply buy that stunning pair of shoes you must have that matches your dress. Don't put that shoe on until you're about 10 minutes from walking down the aisle. Then, as soon as you're done with the ceremony switch into ballet slipper type shoes, or flip-flops, or something UBER comfortable. Drive to your photo shoot, put your stunning shoes back on, finish photos, put comfortable shoes back on, keep doing this all night! When you do meet up with the rest of your guests at dinner walk into the room in your stunning shoes but have someone put your comfy shoes under the table so you don't have to wear them until your first dance. Once that first dance is done, those stunning shoes will go into the closet to be looked at about once every 5 years, or every time you move and wonder what's in that box.

If you're getting married in the summer and you are getting photos done outside, sunscreen is a must. You might think 'oh, we'll only be out for a short period of time' but trust me, a sunburn on your wedding day...when everyone wants to hug you to not a good idea. Better to smell a tad like sunscreen than to be super sore.

Photo shoots can be long and a bit boring so make sure you put someone, really anyone other than yourself, in charge of putting together a kit of items like sunscreen, towels (for man sweat, to cover dresses when you eat or to sit on), drinks, light snacks, etc together that can be carried from photo site to photo site - you'll use it more than you know!

Go over your guest list multiple times, nothing is more embarrassing than forgetting the name of someone as you try to introduce them to your family or friends. There might be a few people you haven't met before so even see if you can get a picture of them prior to the wedding so you have an idea who is who.

Your fiance is your co-planner. You decided to get married together so you should split up the work together. Men like taking care of things like music, and transportation but whatever you do, do not let them get out of the work of thank you cards. Thank you cards can get tiresome after the 3rd shower and then all the wedding gifts. Your new hubby can lend a hand. Give them a sample of what to say, if you don't do this they'll likely complain they don't know how to do it and try to weasel out of it. Some people like to split it up so wife takes care of her family/friends and hubby takes care of his family/friends.

The DJ can make or break a wedding reception. Good God take the 30 minutes one night to go see that DJ in action at someone else's wedding or you might end up getting tons of Celine Dion during dinner and 50 Cent and Lil' Kim as your first dance songs *shudder*. Though we took the time to meet with the company we hired, we didn't realize we were not getting the actual person we spoke to until it was too late to meet with them. We filled out a form giving SPECIFIC instructions that we did not want any Kenny G, Celine Dion, or anything of that nature, nor did we want rap music with the original lyrics (with swears). When Lil' Kim's 'How Many Licks' started playing the look of horror that crossed my face could have been used in any Hitchcock film, all I could think was 'My GRANDMA is listening to this!?!?'. Plus the DJ refused my mom's requests, yep - the Mother Of The Bride!! So, lesson learned - take the time to meet the DJ.

Cut down your toasts or find a way to incorporate them throughout the dinner so people don't have to sit through 2 + hours of toasts. I was at 1 wedding where 3 people, in 3 different toasts told variations of the same story about the bride. It was a pretty boring story to start with so to hear it 3 times was torture. Though, not the same kind of torture that my friend sat through when they listened to 4 hours (yes, FOUR HOURS) of speeches and then everyone just left - there wasn't even a dance to make you feel like you sat through all that for a purpose! Tell your family/friends to keep it brief, no more than 5 minutes. I'm sure they can make their point within that time limit and still make it a beautiful night for you all. Same thing with slide shows, they can be a really nice touch but as long as they're only around 10 minutes.

Here's a few other brief points to think about:

If you're going to have an open mike at your wedding, be prepared for someone to abuse it as someone always does

Consider having a donation box for when your guests ask you to kiss - we raised around $50 for the Canadian Cancer Society!

Eat that top tier of cake, I know it's meant for your 1 year wedding anniversary but honestly it's a gamble if it will last that long (the cake not the marriage :) . Instead save a bottle of champagne as that won't go bad!

Carry money in your purse, you don't think you'll need it but you would be surprised at how it will come in handy and then you don't have to borrow from other people.

Get the thank you cards out to people within 2 months. It is a shame when a guest doesn't get thanked for their contribution towards your home with your new partner. They WILL feel slighted.

If you have attendants recognize that even though it is your special day they are not made out of money. They buy their dress (or tux rental), they buy shoes, and jewelry and shower gifts and wedding gifts and throw you showers and stagettes/stags, and on and on and on. Get them something nice and personal, write them a letter letting them know how much their efforts mean to you and if you can - try to pick up the costs of the outfit they are required to wear as the only reason they are doing it is because they love you and you asked them to.

Anyway, I could probably write a book on this subject. I'm sure some of my suggestions are uncouth in the wedding world but I still do believe them to be practical ;)

Good luck to all of you!

P.S. MOST important, leave yourself a bit of room at the end of the night to actually reflect with your new spouse. You'll be surprised how you remember things a little differently or what moments were the most important to each of you. A touching way to finish off that special day.