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 draw...is 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 pieces...is 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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Practical Hostess

Over the past month we've had several guests stay with us so I thought I'd put in a few things I've learned about being a practical hostess.

First off, cook way more than you ever think they'll eat. And I don't mean there's 5 people for dinner so cook for 6, I mean if there's 5 people for dinner cook for 10. Nothing is worse than watching the food being passed around and realizing 3 people in that you don't have enough food. You can ALWAYS freeze leftovers but you don't have the time to make additional food once people have started to eat. You simply never know how much a guest likes to eat and I've definitely been in the situation where my plate has held 2 carrots, a 1/2 piece of meat and 4 pieces of pasta because I've run out of food and need to play the gracious hostess who really isn't hungry.

I also find it very helpful to actually write out how many meals the guests will be here for and then preplan what we'll eat for each to make sure I don't have to make any last minute trips to the grocery store, or simply not be able to make a planned meal because I'm missing a key ingredient. Those types of situations will make you feel flustered and you'll have to scramble to think up a new dish to serve, stress that's totally not needed when you have guests over.

If the guests are staying for a long period of time (say 5 days), take a look at the local events calendar and pick out a few things that might interest them. You don't have to plan every minute of their stay but you do need to be prepared for suggestions because they're looking to you for guidance on what to see and do in your city. If they know the city fairly well it's still nice to have 1 or 2 suggestions of special events/festivals, etc that are taking place so they can see something new.

I'm also a big believer in trying to go about your daily routine. Just because you have guests doesn't mean you need to give up doing the things you would normally do if they weren't there. Guests understand prior commitments and as long as you're not leaving them alone every day and night, feel free to go to that soccer game, or yoga class - it's only for a few hours and likely your guests will appreciate having some time to themselves to read, watch tv, go for a walk, etc - stuff they would normally do if they were at home.

This may sound odd but stock the guest bathroom like a hotel. It can be so embarrassing for a guest to have to ask for extra toilet paper, toothpaste, towels, shampoo, etc. so the best bet is to try to anticipate their needs and put together all the items they might need during their stay. I keep a basket of things that include a small sewing kit, shampoo/conditioner, feminine hygiene items, new tubes of toothpaste, new toothbrushes (keep them in the wrapping!), razors, bubble bath, etc,. That way every time I'm expecting guests I pull it out and put it where they can see it, when guests leave I replenish it and put it away until the next guest arrives.

Finally, your guests will want to use your tv and computer - almost everyone has their favourite shows they watch or they want to check their e-mail. So, give your guests a tour of the house and include a demonstration on how to use the remotes (everyone seems to have different ones), and set up a 'guest' account on your computer so they can freely check their e-mail without both of you feeling uneasy about sensitive documents on your computer (quick, hide all the porn! JUST KIDDING!)

Anyway, there's a few things I've learned that have helped make my experience with guests easier, hope they help you too!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oh no you didn't!

My husband joined my yoga class again last night. #*@! (I'm old-fashioned, I still prefer the symbols)

I hear people say 'that's so cute!', 'what a nice way to spend some time together' and as I'm listening to comments like that I think that I must be one selfish person because yoga was MY time away from hubby and kids and now it's turned into a couple thing. It's one thing if we were to play a sport together but yoga is just different, it's about letting everything go for 1 1/2 hours and recentering myself for the rest of the week. Kind of hard to do when part of my home life is right next to me trying like mad to contort himself into dolphin pose.

Do you know what I thought about for more than 1/2 of shavasana yesterday??? I kept thinking 'Is that David snoring? Should I wake him up? Maybe if I just stretch over I can reach his hand and gently shake him awake.' Not normal shavasana quite meditating thoughts at all! Turns out it wasn't him, it was the guy beside him but that was beside the point, I shouldn't be thinking of stuff like that- I should be in my own tranquil spot. If hubby hadn't been there and I was beside the snoring guy I might have just smiled to myself and would have went back to my own quiet reflection.

So, while I do enjoy the fact that hubby likes yoga and is interested in going I must say it's changed my experience. It's not horrible, it just means sharing a part of myself that for the past 6 months I've either done with the girls or just by myself. I've decided to try not to be too selfish, I'm not going to prevent him from going but maybe, just maybe I'll sneak my mat over a little farther away next time ;)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Money where my mouth is...

I have talked for AGES about starting a blog or a company called The Practical Bride, or The Practical Mom and I figured now was as good as time as any to get started on it. Since I've already passed my 'bride' stage I figured I'd just simply call myself 'One Practical Woman' as well, that's how I see myself in all stages of my life.

Mainly the reason I call myself 'practical' is because I'm the type of person who likes to tell it like it is. I'm not afraid to tell people of my failures and conclusions and hopefully they can learn from them - if they're interested!

So, I'm hoping through my life experiences people can learn about the practical side of being a wife, a mom, a woman, a volunteer, a planner/organizer, and all the other hats I wear through life.

Here's hoping I don't offend or bore too many folks ;)