The Truth About Travelling with Kids

Here are the details: we took our 4 year old son (Ollie) and our 15 month old daughter (Jaime) to Europe for two weeks. We flew from Toronto to Paris to Stockholm, stayed for a week and then flew from … Continue reading

Small and big choices

we are our choices

Bed time routine is starting and your child needs a bath, they’re oozing dirt out of their little fingernails and you can smell the summer dust all over them. You’re having a super, hard time getting them to get into the bath. You’ve tried your whole arsenal of tricks and nothing is working, so now what? We like to call this, “the small and big choices”. Getting into the bath is a small choice, choosing to sleep at grandma’s house (big choice), picking pj’s (small choice), picking skating over swimming for Fall (big choice). Each choice, big or small has a result. Learning about “choices and results” is a very important step some of us sometimes leap past. 

The other night Ollie wanted to sleep at his grandmother’s house (she had given the ok, the ball was left in our court). We passed the choice onto the O-man, and told him that’s an example of a big choice he got to make.

Essentially the little choices we make easily, without whining, complaining, crying, swearing (oh yes, the O-man has mastered the F word – we’ll save that for another post) – little choices lead us to making big choices, all by our very selves! 

A lot of toddler/preschooler temper tantrums result from them feeling like they have no control over their own lives because so many decisions are made for them. Offering your child choices, big or small, whenever possible helps them to feel like they have more control. Letting them pick their own outfits in the morning, making choices for breakfast (within reason), picking the order of morning chores, etc – lets them feel like they have control of their life. If they’re part of making both, small and big decisions they begin to understand the concept of consequences. Life is about a series of choice and results and if we could all learn that from an earlier age we may have fewer regrets in our lives.

Popsicle

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I’m sure there could be plenty of puns I could have used for the title, but I’m pretty tired in all honesty and my writing fingers are sleeping at the keys. It would have been really easy if Oliver’s name was Peter instead. I think I had a pretty decent capacity for intelligence until I got pregnant with my first child.

Currently, this first child of mine, is really into Popsicles. We got a Popsicle maker as a gift last Christmas and upgraded the model this past summer to a larger one. It comes from a company called Zoku, they make some pretty cool gadgets, worth checking out. The whole popsicle making experience buys you about 20 minutes of entertainment, to me, that makes it a worthwhile endeavor. Even better is that we can sneak in one of those baby squeeze pouches made out of veggies. Oliver will have two Popsicles in a row, without a doubt, think about all those little veggies that are sneaking into his mouth and he doesn’t even know. This is the Popsicle (sneaky veggie machine):

zoku

 

Seasons Newest Client!!

IMG_3837I had my second c-section on May 11th at 12:45, it was a scheduled c-section. I’ve learned a lot of new facts about second c-sections and I think it may be worthwhile to share with moms who are anticipating going under the big knife again. Please note that all facts are based on my personal experience and every woman’s birth story is different….so use my knowledge but don’t hold me to it.

Here are 3 facts I now know about second time c-sections:

  1. Having a scheduled c-section is probably one of the most civilized way to give birth.
  2. The recovery time on your second c-section is definitely easier than the first time.
  3. It really sucks not being able to lift your first-born child, like really sucks.

Here are 3 facts I now know about second babies

  1. Second babies are easier, they themselves may not be an easy baby, but the shock of what has happened to your life is eliminated, it’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget.
  2. The hormonal roller coaster still climbs up the mountains and speeds right down, but you’re more ready for it, it doesn’t seem as looming, dooming and everlasting.
  3. The guilt, yes that’s right the guilt which I wasn’t expecting at all, hits you so hard in the face, the guilt of what you didn’t do with your first-born, your inability to spend time alone with them (especially if they are a toddler, as mine wants to jump all over my broken body). There’s mom guilt and then there’s new kind of guilt…it has a different a scent, one that knocks you over with sadness.

IMG_3866On the night of May 10th, which happened to be mother’s day, I spent most of the evening fighting back tears of joy, sadness and anxiety. It’s a strange way to spend your mother’s day, but what’s even stranger is knowing that the next day you’ll finally get to meet that teeny, tiny person who has been growing in your belly for the past 39 weeks.

My first c-section was not an “emergency” but was imminent. I had labored for over 20 hours and never progressed past 5 cm. The doctors told me I could keep trying however it may result in an emergency c-section, at that point 20 hours in and no progression I opted for the surgery. My son was born at 2:30pm on August 19th, 2012 weighing in at a whopping 9.6 lbs. He was a giant, which is ironic given the size of me, I’m a whopping 5”2. The Drs informed me that I have CPD, Cephalopelvic Disproportion – which is a condition that is difficult to diagnose so whether it is the truth or not who knows. Either way, when I got pregnant with my second, it was advised that I schedule a c-section.

My Dr. suggested I try a “skin-to-skin” c-section which is a new procedure they have developed. The baby is placed on mom’s chest as soon as it comes out, trying to mimic natural childbirth as much as possible. Usually in a cesarean section they take the baby away for a few minutes before mom gets to hold the baby.

On May 11th, we arrived at the hospital at 10am and then the waiting game proceeded. Around 11ish we were taken into a room with one of the wonderful nurses. She prepared us for what was going to happen and ran through a series of health questions with me. Next, I was going to walk myself into the operating room, while my husband was prepared for the surgery. Yes, that’s right, the nurse and I walked down the hallway. The walk was probably the most surreal part of the entire experience. Down the fluorescent hallway in a barely fitting hospital gown I went, off to meet the tiny bundle kicking me like crazy. The anesthesiologist and a student came into the room, they told me what they were going to do and that the first prick would feel like a bee sting but after that I shouldn’t feel anything.

For those women that have natural births, you are like Gods to me, you are a different breed of women, as far as I’m concerned. I salute you, I tip all my hats to you and your amazingness. For myself, I welcome the drugs, cause boy do they feel good. Either way in my case, there is no option for a drug free cesarean.

For some reason the hospital decided that putting a reflective surface on the ceiling was a brilliant idea. For those of us strapped down to the table, having nowhere to look but up, it seems like an absolutely terrible idea. Who on earth wants to watch them slicing you open? When I commented that I could see what was going on I was told not to watch. Come on now….that’s like turning your head the complete opposite way as you drive by a car accident.

By now, my husband had entered the room and he was standing at my head, gently brushing my hair away and saying all the right things. They had started operating and I could feel pressure but no pain whatsoever. In total the actual surgery took 20 minutes, which is crazy, 39 weeks to grow another human being and 20 minutes to get them out. 20 minutes and voila the Dr says: “it’s a girl!” I had absolutely no feeling about what kind of tiny baby was in my tummy, none whatsoever. I had always pictured myself with boys so was pretty shocked that the she was a she, elated and shocked. I kept saying, “she’s a girl, she’s a girl”.

Although I didn’t end up getting to do a skin to skin c-section as the hospital was short on staff, I still got to see her quite quickly and do some skin to skin. We spent the first week of her life doing skin to skin pretty much 24 hours a day, I highly recommend it.

Newborn babies change your life in ways you would never suspect, they truly are little miracles of life and I’m so excited to watch JJ change, grow and develop. IMG_3843

Valentines Day Crafts

IMG_2989We’re prepping for a few events where we’ll be sharing some valentines day crafts, so thought we would share them here too! They’re not only easy but also very budget friendly! All supplies we’re purchased at the dollar store (minus the cardboard, which was rescued from our recycling bin).

Valentines Day Wreath

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Materials

Mason Jar Lid

Various Heart Decorations

Twine

Red Ribbon

Hot Glue

Directions

Wrap the twine around the Mason Jar lid, very tightly and hot glue both the starting point and the end point. Use whatever heart decorations you like and tie a ribbon at the top. Although this is so perfect for Valentines Day you could definitely use it as a Holiday Ornament too!

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Valentines Day Love Sign

Materials

Needle and red yarn

Square of burlap

red ribbon or rope

Felt

Scissors

Hot Glue

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Directions

You can get as creative as you like with your little burlap square. We kept it simple but would encourage those creativity juices to flow! We simply cut a heart out of felt and hot glued it to the burlap square. Then we used red yarn and a larger needle to write the word LOVE. We used a heart shaped sticker for the “O” and voila! A cute little sign to hang anywhere your heart desires.

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Heart Wreath

Materials

Heart Shaped Stickers

Red Ribbon

Heart Decorations

Cardboard Circle (with circle cut out from middle)

IMG_2986 IMG_2987

Directions

Draw a large circle on a sheet of cardboard (I traced a plate to get that perfectly round circle) and then used a roll of masking tape for the circle on the inside. I cut the circles out using a box cutter, you could use scissors, depending on how hard your cardboard is. The fun part is next, even your toddler could get into this craft! Simply stick the stickers all over the wreath. I added some other type of hearts just to give the wreath a little texture but you could just stick with the stickers! Once it was finished I hot glued a piece of the ribbon to the back so that I could hang the wreath.

 

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Great Ideas for Wee Little Hands

We’ve been very busy with summer camp and our little Tots have been experimenting with all sorts of materials. We’ve been doing a ton of art and sensory activities. Each day at camp we have a new theme and then base our art/sensory activity on the theme. Here are a couple ideas you could easily do at home with your little one. Not to worry if you don’t have access to a proper sensory bin, any shallow container will really do, the dollar store has a great selection!

Craft Ideas

Boat Pictures

Cardboard, construction paper, cotton balls, blue tissue paper, blue, paper plates

IMG_0553Zebras

Paper plates (cut in half) black construction paper, glue, pompoms, cotton balls

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Weather Chart

This was an easy and fun craft. We’re learning about weather and seasons and so this craft fit perfectly. We traced the kids hands and then helped them to cut them out. They used different colour tissue paper depending on the seasons. For the winter picture they stuck on cotton balls.

Materials: construction paper, tissue paper, glue, cotton balls. IMG_0450Sensory Bin Ideas

Rainbow Foam – we used the recipe from this site:

IMG_0671Coloured Pasta

So easy to make! Simply put some uncooked pasta in a zip lock bag (add either icing gel or food colouring) and shake, shake, shake!

IMG_0685Volcano!

Our theme for this day was actually dinosaurs (you can see a couple tiny ones in the picture). We took a plastic container and covered it with plastercine and then all the kids helped by sticking rocks onto it. Then we made our volcano explode, over and over and over and over again (you get the point).We threw some plastic plants (dollar store speciality) in the sensory bin, sand and rocks

Materials: baking soda and vinegar. IMG_0910

 

Making Mistakes

Picture taken from http://www.rebormax.com

So this month my son is really into markers, particularly the lids (which is definitely better as it means less marker on the walls however, it does mean that we constantly have marker on our hands). I’m not sure why anyone ever thought that non-washable markers was a good idea (or really my thought should be about what possessed me to buy them in the first place). My son’s absolute favorite thing to do is put the marker lids on his on his fingers (which he then appropriately calls marker fingers) and then tries to play with his toys which inevitably results in frustration since he can’t accomplish anything with markers on his fingers. What gets me, is that he still tries every time. My son is a clever kid, I know all parents think that about their own children, so I’m ok with the eye roll at your computer screen. My question is that how come toddlers will try something over and over again regardless of whether or not they keep getting the same outcome? At what age do we start making those connections? I think maybe some of us never do, it’s like having a hangover (kind of), you wake up with that pounding headache and you swear you’ll never drink again and yet that hangover seems to somehow magically appear. Is it an innate thing in some of us, do some toddlers really learn from their errors? I happen to know they do, one of my girlfriend’s daughter closed her finger in the kitchen drawer and guess what, she didn’t do it again. Maybe it’s a male versus female thing? Or is it something we learn with age?

The truth is learning from our mistakes is an extremely important life lesson. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” (Albert Einstein). Some of the most difficult life lessons we learn stem from a bad desicion we made. Good judgement can come from the experience of having bad judgement. Learning from our mistakes teaches us to rethink situations, come up with different solutions and thus encourages us to think creatively.

So, go on put those marker fingers on and try to pick up a train or a block, try, try and try again because eventually you’ll learn it’s not working and you’ll try a different way. In the mean time, I’ll just hope that the marker finger fad fades away (or washes out for that matter).

Craft Ideas for All Ages!

ImageI just did a talk on how to nurture creativity within yourself and with your little ones. It was for a great group of moms who were really keen on getting their kids crafting more (my kind of moms). Creativity is so important and will be more and more in the generations to come as standard employment positions will cease to exist and we’ll need to think more creatively in the job market, or for resources, etc. Being creative to children is so natural. Ken Robinson describes creativity and children so perfectly in his famous quote: “we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it”. It’s important we nurture creativity in our little ones as much as we can and we can do so by encouraging them to think outside of the box, to explore and to use their imaginations. Find a space in your house that you can designate to “creating”. Ikea sells the perfect “craft” table for little ones and let them get started!

For those of you that have kiddies who don’t like to craft, try presenting them with not your “typical” crafting ideas like gluing or painting. Getting a big cardboard box and turning it into a house is a great activity. Not only are they using their creativity to make the house but then it provides hours of entertainment after.

Here are some great crafts, that can also serve as entertainment after!

For your Toddler:

ImageToddlers love to sort things. This is a great craft because if you pick up a bunch of different coloured button bags from the dollar store, they can sort them into colours first and then pick some to glue onto the box. It also works on their fine motor skills, the sorting and gluing. If you purchase a few boxes that fit into each other this will definitely keep them entertained for a while!

ImageFor your Preschooler:

This craft is also very educational as you can teach your child about the life cycle of plants as well. I got this ceramic pot from the dollar store, you can use paints and glitter to decorate, make sure you seal it with something, like Mod Podge, as it will be getting wet from watering (or kept outside). If your plant dies, perhaps an opportunity to also teach them about the life cycle!

For your School Age Child:

ImageAnother dollar store gem! You could either turn this into a puzzle, have your older child make it for a younger child. Cut out some shapes for them to trace onto the pieces and then have them use paints or markers to decorate. Or buy some chalkboard paint and turn the pieces into an X&O game. The possibilities are endless.

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What Would You Do With a Time Machine?

Let’s be honest who hasn’t thought about what they would do with a time machine? I may ponder this thought more than the average person but I think it would be hard to find someone out there who has never had the time machine thought, even for a fleeting moment.

Of course, there are the big ticket items we all think about, stopping wars, preventing unnecessary deaths, etc but let’s eliminate those from our list of possible time travel choices. Let’s say, your time machine only takes you to moments in your own life and you can’t prevent anything from happening you can just have a chat with an earlier version of yourself, what would you say?

 Childhood Self

Play, play lots and lots, enjoy the fact that you can entertain yourself for hours with a cardboard box and a paper towel roll. Entertainment isn’t cheap in your thirties. I know that your big brother is a bit of a pain but trust me one day he’s going to be your best friend, you’ll even look up to him. Listen to your parents more often, they usually know what’s good for you. Enjoy every minute of every day, where your biggest responsibility is getting to the bathroom on time.

Adolescent Self

I would tell my young adolescent heart to relax, that although it feels like “true love” every time you kiss a boy it isn’t. Try not to let your heart get broken so often, some times it’s in too many tiny pieces to mend properly. Spend lots of time with your grandparents, lots and lots and tell them you love them, that they’re wonderful and great even in their old fashioned ways. Appreciate their old fashioned ways. Don’t stress too much about your grades, sure they count but they’re not going to make or break your future. Respect your parents. That weird company that just got founded called “Google” BUY THEIR STOCKS.

Early Twenties

This boy who you think you’re going to marry, you’re not, he’s so very wrong for you. Love him, enjoy him but don’t sacrifice friendships, time with your family or anything else important for this love, I’ll say this again to myself in my mid twenties. Be healthy, be safe and stop worrying so much about what others think, only care about those that care about you.

Mid Twenties

So that other boy you think you’ll marry, you won’t. Don’t let him disrespect you, you deserve more than that. You really don’t have any real worries, you don’t have a mortgage yet. Start saving for a mortgage. Maybe you should just start saving in general, but not saving all those birthday cards, old photos and ugly Christmas sweaters; you will really never need or use them again.

Late Twenties

So you’re engaged, life is grand. Marriage is fabulous but it will test you, be prepared for that. You guys wake up late on Saturday mornings and I’m not talking like 9am late, sometimes the clock has passed 11am before you’ve glimpsed at it…ENJOY IT. You go for brunch, brunch…what is that again? In your mid thirties this meal will cease to exist. You can go out with just one small bag and your clothes are not all covered in stains, enjoy the simple things in life.

Early Thirties

Sleep. Yes that’s right, sleep lots. Sleep in, go to bed early and then sleep late. What are you doing on the weekends? You should be sleeping. Buy clothes but remember they’ll never fill any voids in your life and you don’t need them, you just want them. Save some more money. Stop saving junk. Every time you move you have to move all that junk with you, remember that next time you’re at one of those vintage stores. Do yoga, meditate, it’s good for you. Eat more vegetables. That dream you have, of opening a centre, DO IT. Let me warn you though it’s not going to be an easy path and there will be lots of times when you want to quit, but you’re not a quitter (at least you’re still not at 35, who knows about 40).

Mid Thirties

So here I am, wondering what on earth my 40 year old self would tell my 35 year old self. I can think of a plethora of things, like floss your teeth more often. However, after reflecting on all my time traveling I feel that there really is just one thing I would say over and over again to myself, enjoy the moment you’re in, stop worrying so much about the ones you’re not in, about the ones you’ve already lived (because you can’t change them) and stop worrying about the ones that are coming. Enjoy this moment, this moment right now with the people you love and the ones who love you back.

Increasing our Creativity!

Creative projects have an endless amount of therapeutic benefits. Creating something with our own two hands leads us to sentiments of accomplishment and pride, these feelings are present in us even from the age of two when we draw our first circle or when we colour in our first picture. As we grow, our projects may increase in complexity but the feeling of achievement remains. Taking nothing and molding it into something allows us to gain confidence. We begin to value our self-worth and individuality the more we create, the more we put our ideas out there, the more we grow creatively.

Creativity can help to foster:

  • Self-esteem
  • Imagination
  • Determination
  • Assertiveness
  • Courageousness

Perhaps some of us are scared by the word creativity because it is often associated with artistic abilities, however, creativity and artistic ability are not necessarily a complementary pair. One can be extremely creative in something and yet have no idea how to hold a paintbrush. We can be creative in our finances, in sports, in problem solving, in writing and even in gardening.

We should all strive to try and increase our creative potential, because generally creative people are known to be more autonomous, independent, self-sufficient, emotionally sensitive, self-accepting, assertive, courageous, resourceful, risk-taking and adventurous.

So how do I become more creative?

Here are some great tips to help increase your creative potential:

  • When faced with a problem always try to come up with two different solutions, even if one solution is somewhat unrealistic (this will help you begin to think outside of the box)
  • Make a scrapbook or your life goals, be sure to even include those goals you think are improbable. Sometimes just getting the pictures out there helps us to visualize them.
  • Make a dream book. Cut out pictures from magazines of images you like, designs you adore, and clothes you want, anything and everything. Once your book starts to grow with ideas, so will your mind.
  • Take risks. Often we need to take risks in our creative quests; sometimes those ideas that seem the most intimidating often end up being the most creative!
  • Set realistic goals for your creativity time. Creativity like many things needs practice to flourish and grow. Put aside time each day, week or even month (depending on your schedule) for your creative projects.
  • Brainstorming. Remember those little thought webs we use to have to draw in school? Those are actually one of the greatest ways to generate multiple ideas for one topic, sometimes they are referred to as Mind maps. Start with your main idea in the middle of the page and just see where your web leads you.
  • Find your inner child. Think of something you loved to do as a child, skipping down the street, hopscotch, colouring books? Whatever it may be, treat yourself to an afternoon with your inner child.

So go on, get out there and try something creative! Don’t be scared, we all have it in us and we should all embrace it!