Friday, December 30, 2011

Having a Good christmas

What’s the secret to having a successful and happy Christmas? 
Well, it certainly isn’t the presents, the decorations or even the turkey dinner. 
It seems silly but it was  the message in a Christmas movie that the children were watching that actually got my attention. 
“Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to have a perfect Christmas.” 
Trust me, we’ve had our share of less than perfect Christmases over the past few years from financial woes, bickering,  fighting depression to downright unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our children. 

This Christmas wouldn’t have fared any different.  I started off December with plans to host both a birthday party and a cookie decorating party which meant I had to have the house cleaned and the decorations up in record time, I had to bake several dozen sugar cookies for decorating and figure out when I was going  to make my signature chocolate truffles.   Throw in a tonsilectomy, a 40th Surprise Birthday Party, after school activities and a new extended work hours and Christmas shopping in there somewhere and well … I’m sure you’ve been there and understand what I mean.  It seemed like every time I turned around I would remember someone else who I needed to buy a gift for.

So how did I get through it?  Well, a supportive husband helps but most of all it took checking my expectations at the door.  Laying off some of the pressure on myself and on the kids.  So what if some things didn’t get done.  So what if a pillow has hit the Christmas tree for the umpteenth time and the ornaments keep falling off and the garland looks atrocious.  The kids love it anyway.  That’s why we don’t put glass ornaments on the tree anymore.  Oh well that the cats keep messing up the tree skirt.  If it’s not the cats it’s the kids anyways.

So I didn’t get all of my chocolates done but I got enough to give to my family as gifts and the rest are in the fridge waiting.  I did get sugar cookies baked for the party but no other Christmas baking.  Who cares.  My mother does enough for both of us and I don’t need the extra calories anyways.  The kids still got to decorate cookies and that’s all they care about. 

So we had to wait until the last weekend before Christmas to do all our shopping.  We still managed to find everything we wanted and got the kids some really cool presents and we supported the local economy by not buying online.

My biggest tip for success is to keep the kids busy instead of expecting them to entertain themselves.  They are all hepped up on excitement for the big day.  Of course they are going to be a little crazy. Staggering out the activities over  several days really helped.

Taking more than one drive around the neighbourhoods looking at lights.  It didn’t have to be all on one night.  Grab a cup of hot cocoa and a cookie and we’re good to go almost any night after dinner.
AND.. we stayed home.  This year we visited with my folks on Christmas eve day and then stayed home on Christmas Day and did our own dinner with his parents that afternoon.  I really thought I’d miss being with my family but it was just so nice not to have to rush out anywhere.  It was a lot of work putting the dinner together but again, instead of fussing too much I opted for simple prep vegetables instead of getting all fancy.  Turkey tasted amazing and the rest of the meal was familiar to my picky eaters.

I’m not saying I breezed through it all without a care.  I had my moments of shame but mostly when it began to become overwhelming again, I’d just tell myself.. It doesn’t have to be perfect. 

It’s so true.

Zeemaid


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Keeping the kids busy

So what do you do with the kids when the countdown to Christmas is on and the kids are jittery and hyper from being too much inside and when you think you might just go crazy if you hear one more. “MOOOOMMMMMYYYY (insert name) is hitting/touching/bugging/looking at me”?

Why,you keep them busy.

First you ….

String Popcorn

DSC03743 DSC03744

Bake Sugar Cookies for Santa

copyDSC03751DSC03746

Make a  Gingerbread House

IMG00198

and then you clean, clean, clean and then clean some more.

I have to say it has worked well for me this week and more than once I’ve been thankful that we didn’t get to these projects earlier.  As soon as the rowdiness or fighting starts up, I whipped out another activity.  Of course, it’s the 24th and now I am all out of fun stuff to do (worn out is more like it) but we’re heading off to my parents today so I’ll leave it up to their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to entertain them. 

What Christmas projects has your family been working on?

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Own Domain

I finally did it.  I broke down and bought my own Domain.  You can now point your mouse to http://www.zeemaid.com.  Of course, my blog is still hosted on Blogger and all the old links still work but I'm really excited to have my own little parking spot in the big old internet universe.

I have been thinking for awhile now of changing my blog title to just Zeemaid especially since there is another blog out there already with a very similar title as mine (she's been blogging much longer than me). I've always felt a bit like a plagiarist about it even though I didn't consciously steal the title idea.  I think most of you probably know me more as Zeemaid but I'm just not sure.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chipwrecked

I can't believe we're taking the family to see another Alvin & the Chipmunks movie.  But everyone has been saying how great it is and it's rated G and Arthur's Christmas is no longer playing. The downside of living in a smaller community.

Still it's hard to keep the kids entertained over Christmas especially since J's recent surgery means anything more strenuous is out.  I'll let you know how it turns out.



What do you do to keep your kids entertained this close to Christmas?  Because I have to tell you it's almost like an episode from Kids Gone Wild in my house.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Girl’s a Trooper

115-1599_IMG  You are never quite prepared to let your child go especially when it comes to trusting relative strangers to care for her.  Especially when every tragic story relating to children and hospitals are running through your head.  Especially when your baby girl picks daddy to go with her down the operating room to hold her hand while she goes to sleep.  I have to admit that hurt just a teeny weeny bit.

So when the waiting was done and they called us to go to the recovery room, there was no way I was letting Dad take over on this one.  Thank goodness they let us both go in because I really needed his strong, yet silent support as I had to calm down my extremely agitated child.  It’s not so much as what he did as just by being there he helped me be stronger because I knew that I couldn’t show how much I was affected to my agitated child.  It may sound odd of me to say but it fills me with a sort of  motherly pride to know that instinctively I knew how to reach her and by stroking her hair and doing a quiet shushing sound like I did when she was a baby worked. 

Still it was difficult to watch her be in discomfort and was with relief that the morphine kicked in (although it’s somewhat scary to think of morphine being given to a child) and she was able to sleep.  Still it wasn’t for another 6 1/2 hours that we were allowed to take her home.  A very long night of urging sips of ice water on her and watching her doze.  I’m not generally an inactive person and I have to admit it was hard just to sit there and be quiet and yet it was so peaceful watching her.

Too it was funny watching her alternate between the worst day ever and how much she hates this place to being a not so awful day because she got a stuffed bear from the Hospital and then Westjet had come by with toys for kids and even though she was in surgery her thoughtful nurse saved a toy for her.  You should have seen her face light up when the nurse asked her if she liked Little Pet Shop. Boy does she ever and now she has a LPS Hotel just like her big sister.  Then the drugs wore off and it was back to “I want to go home”.  

My highlight was when I was telling her about how wonderful it was to have the surgery done because she was going to be able to smell things again and she told me “I can smell already” and gave a little sniff.  Hooray! 

Still through it all she tried her best to keep taking sips of water even when she  threw it all up later.  Even when she didn’t want to swallow I was still able to coas her into taking her medicine.  Her tongue is swollen which I wasn’t expecting and so she talks a little funny but it is the most adorable sound in the world. 

Now she’s back to looking pretty tired and I feel bad because I’m going to have to lay down the law and make her nap.  It’s bad enough being the bad guy making her take the awful medicine.  Still she’s so much better today and I’m thankful that we are through it and look forward to seeing her grow healthier day by day!

That’s my baby J!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holidays with Hallmark

I have had such a wonderful time this past year exploring all the great Hallmark products.  I have to admit that when I first signed on with this review opportunity with Hallmark that it was this particular holiday that I had been looking forward to the most. (Although Halloween did move up to a close second with all the great spooky stuff Hallmark had to offer.)

Of course, I just love decorating at Christmas and Hallmark has so many really neat items that it’s hard to just pick one.  So here’s what I’ve been playing with recently.

hat

Rockin’Talkin Hat Elf or Santa
Value Priced:  $19.95
MRSP:  $24.95
`The Rockin‘ Talkin‘ Elf‘ and Santa  hats ―dance‖ to music like Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Guaranteed to crack you up! The top of the hat actually moves and dances along to music. Lots of fun!

 

oke

Merry-Okee
Value Priced:  $14.95
MSRP: $14.95
Ever wanted to know how you’d sound like an Elf?  Well  this  microphone changes your voice so you sound like one (or a chipmunk).  It has six pre-recorded holiday songs to sing along to and comes with a book of original lyrics plus silly versions too! This was a lot of fun and a big hit with my kids.  I even used it to start an Elf-Oke sing off at my daughter’s birthday party in an attempt to get the kids to calm down.  (It didn’t work to calm them down but they had fun).

pup

Jingle the Husky Pup Interactive Storybook and Story Buddy
Value Priced:  $29.95
MSRP: $39.95

This is a Hallmark favourite,  and winner of 2 Dr. Toy Awards, ―Jingle the Husky Pup” is ready to bark, whimper and even sing when he hears the magic words.   Now available with DVD and mobile app
for downloading on iTunes. 

This is truly one of those magical toys for the kids. My three just love to listen to me read the story book and watch Jingle respond to the magic key words.  Lots of fun!

makeawish

Make-A-Wish ® Recordable Bear
MSRP: $24.95


A feel good gift for the holidays, this bear will record a message or wish to send to someone special.  A
portion of the proceeds will support Make-A-Wish® Canada, an organization that grants wishes to terminally ill children.

My six year old was instantly drawn to this bear.  He or she is unbelievable cuddly and soft and literally warms your heart.  When my daughter learned that we could record a message in the start, she asked me to record “I love you bubba J”.  Doesn’t that just melt your heart?  My daughter will be undergoing surgery this week and this is one bear that will be going along with us to the hospital.  When I can’t be there by her side, she will have her bear to remind her that I love her.   Best of all every sale sees a portion donated to the Make-A Wish Canada foundation.

ornament

Wayne Gretsky Ornament and Don Cherry Bobble-Head
MSRP: $ 24.99

A great gift for true Canadian hockey fans, The Great One will surely find a prime spot on the Christmas tree -alongside Grapes on the mantle – this year and
for years to come! 

 

Of course Hallmark has so much more to offer like the Prep and Landing collection (if you haven’t seen this Elf animated film, you and your children will love it) and of course, gorgeous cards like their cut-out Snowflake Christmas cards.

Be sure to check out Hallmark.ca for more great gift or decorating ideas!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's Happening too Fast!


My just turned 6 year old daughter is scheduled for surgery next Monday to have her tonsils and adenoids removed.  I knew it was coming, we've been on a wait list for over six months.  It's just when we finally got the call, I didn't expect it to be happening quite so quickly. 

I rashly agreed to the date thinking that, of course, we're available we've been waiting six months for this appointment.  Only afterwards I realized
  • she is going to miss the last week of school before Christmas vacation
  • which means she is going to miss singing in her Christmas concert
  • which means I now have to look after her when I'm supposed to be working with hubs
  • which means we can't schedule any vigorous activity for 1 - 2 weeks afterwards
  • which means going up the mountain and tobogganing is out.
You see where I am going with this?

Of course the benefits are going to be huge.  The circles under her eyes are going to disappear because she will finally be getting a good night's sleep, she is going to start gaining weight finally and just be all around so much healthier once it's done. 

However, I wouldn't be a mom if I wasn't just a teensy bit worried about my baby going under the knife.  Okay let's say a whole lotta worried.  I know, I know, it's just her tonsils (and adenoids).  I mean hasn't almost all adults my age had theirs removed?  Yet, I can't help think of how sometimes complications arise and of others who lost their children during so called "routine" surgery. 

Still if it wasn't for the fact that her overall health and development is going to be improved by this surgery we wouldn't bother.  Nowadays we're a whole lot more cautious before rushing to put ourselves through the dangers of surgery. It's funny how 30 years ago we didn't recall surgery as being dangerous.  At least I didn't, I was only ten and younger than that when I had my tonsils out and it seemed like they recommended the surgery at the drop of a hat.

Whereas now our family doctor is reluctant to send our oldest daughter for an x-ray at 8 years old because while yes it does appear she's missing a bone in her spine, if it isn't bothering her why expose her to radiation needlessly just to see.

Have you had to face surgery with your child?  How did you cope?

Crayola - Giveaway

Okay, so if you haven't already checked out my great Crayola Products Review, check it out here and then come back and enter the giveaway for the Crayola Fragant Bud Vase.


TO ENTER:

1.  MANDATORY:  check out my most recent Crayola Product review at the above link then come back here and leave a comment about which product you liked the most or any that you've tried etc.

2.  Extra entry:  Follow In the Mommy Trenches on GFC

3.  Extra entry:  "like" In the Mommy Trenches on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/zeemaid

4.  Extra entry:  Follow In the Mommy Trenches on Twitter http://twitter.com/zeemaid

Contest Closes:  December 16, 2011.  Open to Canadians only!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Need Gift Ideas? Check Out Crayola!

If you are anything like me, you’re having a hard time figuring out what to buy your children for Christmas.  After all, aren’t their rooms stuffed chock full of junk toys already?

Not only do they want practically everything they see but then we also feel like we should buy it for them.  Why, I don’t know.  So for the past two years, I’ve been trying to find more balance.  Buy less toys thereby teaching them less is more and also throwing in practical gifts like new quilts for their beds.  Things they will actually use.

Which is why I love Crayola! I have been so fortunate in participating in Crayola product reviews this past year.  It has been a great reminder of just how amazing their products are and how Crayola goes way beyond crayons and markers. 

Four products that I have recently had the opportunity to review are:

fabPop Art Pixies fab snaps jewelry Ages 8+  $9.99

This is a great creative product for older girls. My eight year old daughter loved this.  She made her own customizable bracelets and necklaces that simply snapped together.  Get bored with that design? No problem!  It’s a snap, and I do mean that literally, to redesign a new creation.  Which means that this is not just a one-time use kind of product.  It comes with 32 fab snap patches, 6 snaps, 2 necklace cords, 3 bracelet bands and 5 multi attachments.  What I liked about this product was that it gave my daughter an opportunity to make something pretty that didn’t involve gobs of glue or dragging out the sewing machine.  I basically handed her the box and she was off.. creatively speaking.

Model Magic Fragrant Bud Vase Ages 5+ $8.49model

I’ve actually tested the Model Magic Presto Dots before and I do mean, tested because this is a product that even grown ups can’t help but try out. What I like about the Presto Dots is that there is so much you can do with it.  It’s almost like using modeling clay but without the mess. The scented model magic; however, is new.  It’s a nice touch which makes the flowers smell almost like real roses.  A big hit for my six year old.

firetruckDry Erase Fun & Learning Firehouse Pre k –k  $6.99

Okay, I wasn’t a big fan of the dry erase crayons because the last time I used them I ended up with a big mess, but I love LOVE this item.  This is so great for my 4 year old son.  With two older children having to do homework every night, it’s been a struggle finding something that O can do because he wants to have home work too. The pages are bright and crayonscolourful and full of great activities from tracing letters to connecting the dots.  Best of all, when he’s done he simply takes the mitt included in the Dry-Erase crayon package and wipes it all off.  I just make sure that I’m there to clean up the crayon bits that get erased so that it doesn’t end up on the floor.  Sometimes, I just let him do his thing and do the “erasing” myself.  I’m sure you could use dry erase markers with this book if you prefer; however, considering my son is a scribbler I’d rather stick with the crayons myself, felts having been banned until he turns 21.

Be sure to check out Crayola.ca for more gift giving suggestions.

*Disclosure note: I received the above products to try out.  The opinions and experiences herein are my own as always!*

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'ts Beginning to Look a Lot like....

Okay, okay.  I'm a little early in dragging out my Christmas Blog theme but if the stores can do it, I figure why not me too.  After all, I just had to decorate our store last week, we've already had Christmas light up ceremony in town last weekend and the annual Christmas parade is this weekend.

Of course, making changes is never easy when you work with Blogger and widgets.  So if there is something missing off my site that I'm supposed to have on here, please let me know so I can add it back on. Like if I entered a contest and posted your button and now it's gone.... this would be why. Thanks.

By the way... only a few more days for Canadians to take advantage of my Pizza coupon giveaway.  Be sure to enter.  I've only had one real entrant so far and there are four winners so chances of winning are pretty good!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Take A Bite out of Hollywood

TStands ENGHow would you like to star in a cameo on CBC’s hit show, Being Erica? 

Well on November 17th to the 19th McCain® Ultra Thin Crust pizza is hosting an open audition in Vancouver to give one talented Canadian their 15 seconds of fame by starring in a cameo on the show. Vancouverites are invited to attend TD Square from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily to audition and enjoy the delicious flavour and crispy, ultra thin crust of McCain’s newest line of pizza.  To ensure entrants are camera-ready, audition locations will be outfitted with a casting director, lighting and a stylish Hollywood-themed lounge.  You can also audition online by uploading a 15-second video to www.cbc.ca/15seconds from now until November 20th.

The Grand Prize is valued at $10,000 and includes return airfare to Toronto for two, 3-nights’ accommodations, and $1,000 cash.  Secondary prizing includes free “Pizza for a Year” from McCain® Ultra Thin Crust (valued at $400).

Canadians will also have the chance to vote for their favourite from ten finalists at cbc.ca/15seconds or facebook.com/McCainCanada from November 28th – December 12th.

To help celebrate the 15 second of fame auditions, McCain® is offering 4 of my readers a chance to try out their newest pizza line. That’s right, there are four chances for each of you to win two coupons each.

To ENTER:

Mandatory:  Leave a comment below telling me what your dinner strategy is on those busy nights.

Extra Entries:

Follow In the Mommy Trenches on GFC

“Like” me on Facebook Zeemaid

Follow @Zeemaid on Twitter

Leave a comment for each entry.

Contests ends November 27th. Open to Canadians only.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Santa Can Do Anything

listIt’s that time of year again when children turn their thoughts to Christmas which inevitably leads to Santa and their wish list.  Normally, I’m all for the list and even don’t mind them discussing it a little early so it gives me hints and ideas to keep an eye out for.

This year, however, I am in big trouble. 

E wants a parrot. A real one.  She has been on a parrot kick ever since her dad took her to the pet store and she saw this beautifully gorgeous one that’s rainbow colored.  We told her she could get a hamster.  She wants this bird.  Would you like to know how much this bird costs? 

$997.00

That’s right.  $3.00 shy of a full grand.  Why don’t they add the $3.00 and call it a day?  E was pretty disappointed that we couldn’t afford such an expensive pet.  Not to be daunted though, she said she’d ask Santa. We had a pretty good response to this and explained to her that Santa knows our situation and would know that we couldn’t afford to take care of pet like that cause I’m sure it’s pretty expensive to care for a bird like that.

That worked for about a week.

Now she wants a robot, rainbow coloured parrot that talks.  I told her that I didn’t know if Santa could get her that because I don’t know if they make that.  To which she replied.  “Santa and his elves can make anything, mom”  like DUh.

So basically …. I’m screwed.

How would you handle this?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Show and Tell

A while back I think I might have mentioned that I have found a new passion.  Rather I think I might have moaned and groaned and whined about how money is keeping me from pursuing this new passion.  Which is still true but I’m learning to wait.  While the early lightning bolt has somewhat diminished, it’s still smoldering and I know that eventually I will get there.

I mean, course, pottery making. pottery

Imagine the reaction when I told my sister-in-law that I had thrown my first pot.  It was complete and utter shock.  I’m sure she actually thought I had thrown a pot.  What bizarre ritual was this?  It’s amazing how quickly I slipped into a new language, forgetting that less creative people weren’t apt to follow my meaning.

Lessons were made affordable because I was able to pay for one at a time.  That and the fact that my “teacher” was busy with her own life made scraping together the $20.00 fee every few weeks easier.  I still love it so much that I am planning on taking a course at our local college when I can afford it. 

In the meantime, I thought I’d share the fruits of my labour.  While not perfect I am immensely pleased with the results.

DSC03418

While my husband was trying to be supportive, I know that he felt that this was just something that would have to wait, that the time for this wasn’t now and probably not until the kids are bigger.  I have to admit I felt crushed like someone just stepped on my dreams.  I had always wanted to try pottery, I just never expected how deeply it would affect me.  I didn’t want to wait years to do it again, not when my fingers are itching to get back to it.

Still I kept my hurt inside and told myself, when he actually sees what I have done he will think differently.

I was right.  He’s absolutely amazed and even now considers it something of a priority to make sure there is space for a pottery area if we decide to move.  If we don’t move, we are going to figure out how to make it possible for me to have the space necessary. He even apologized for telling me that this wasn’t the time for it. 

Of course, he can’t make money where there is none and so I still have to wait.  We are going through a terrible financial time right now.  I say this not to whine but would appreciate any supportive prayers from believers if possible.  We are facing the loss of everything if things don’t turn around but still I’m trying to keep my joy in the Lord and not to be bound by my circumstances. 

In the meantime, since we don’t have room for a proper wheel, I am going to buy myself a kid’s wheel just so I can keep playing.

What’s your passion?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

HALLOWEEN 2011

DSC03459I can’t believe it’s taken me a whole week to get these photos posted. It’s just been that crazy busy this last week.

The kids had a great Halloween from carving their pumpkins Sunday night, to dressing up and going trick or treating Monday night. 

Our street was a little quiet to begin with, I think we were like the first to be out.  Not wanting to be complete dorks by being the early birds we took a quick side trip down to the local haunted house to help kill some time.  We are friends with the people who host the haunted house every year and so feel we should visit despite the fact that even I’m a just a little too nervous to go through their haunted garage house.

This year though with our kids getting older it really hit home how we can’t really protect them from the more gruesome side to Halloween. We’ve tried.  We don’t let them dress up in gory things or let them watch scary movies etc. and I know they are absorbing the limits well when every time they see something a little gruesome even my four year old is pointing out to me “that’s not appropriate mommy”.   So it was a little harder visiting our friends this year because little eyes take in every detail.  Although I did turn one horror decoration into a nifty history lesson on the execution methods used in medieval England.  See.. there are lessons to be learned in EVERYTHING.

DSC03471

Disemboweling the pumpkin.

DSC03469

Pumpkin Brains mmmm

DSC03481

 A fairy, a Witch and a ?

DSC03501

 A Pirate, a Minnie Mouse and the Princess of Sheba

Watch where you’re pointing that sword Jack.

And I’ll leave you with a joke….

Why wasn’t the pirate able to watch the movie?

Because it was rated….

DSC03505

ARRRRRR!

How does your family handle the overload of candy? Do you dole it out sparingly or let them go crazy so it’ll be over with faster?

Friday, October 28, 2011

I've been Nominated

What do you know, little old me has been nominated to the Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs list on Circle of Moms.  I couldn't be more surprised or pleased. 


Of course, it's all based on votes and all that so I don't think I have much hope of actually making the list because let's not kid myself, there are a ton of Canadian mom bloggers out there with more followers than me. 


Still, a body can hope. So if you feel you can vote for me in good conscience.. please do so by clicking this link.  
  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting the Kids off the Street

Normally, I’d be all behind getting the kids off the street.  But this isn’t a case of finding productive or more fun activities for kids to do rather than hanging around street corners and playgrounds at night. 

No, we’re talking about good old Halloween.  A local elementary school is planning a Halloween event next Monday to “Get the Kids off the Street”. 

I don’t know about you but I have a problem with this.  Is this what it has come down to?  It’s bad enough we are so paranoid that we don’t allow our children to walk by themselves to school and shake our heads over those kids we do see walking alone.  Do we have to take trick or treating from our children too?  What about traditions. What about community spirit and good old neighbourly friendliness? 

Every Halloween my kids dress up and we go up and down our street.  Not the entire block, just our street.  Now I may not know all my neighbours by their first names but I do know that many of the older ones look forward to this time every year. Not only do they get to have a bit of fun and interaction with the kids but I am sure it also brings back fond memories of their own Halloween nights with their kids. 

What happens then if everyone decides to forgo the door to door trick or treating? Who tells the neighbours who bought candy and goes to all the bother of carving pumpkins and putting up spooky decorations?

Last year I thought the neighbourhood was a little thin of trick or treaters but then we were new but now I’m wondering if it’s a sign of things to come.

This year we have the option of going to a candy carnival at our Church, which is the Church’s way of allowing the kids to have fun without calling it “Halloween”.  Yet, I’m reluctant to take them. While I am up for letting my kids have fun, what about our traditions?  If we’re at the Church, who is at my house giving out candy? Who is going to admire our carved pumpkins?  Or will my house join those (who I call in my head party poopers) who keep their lights off and their blinds and curtains shut tight against the veritable cuteness that abounds this night? 

Honestly, haven’t we gone just a wee bit too far in trying to protect our kids?  Isn’t it enough that we can keep our kids safe by using some common sense? 

  • We don’t accept baked goods from neighbours, which is a total shame because really a homemade cookie is so much better than one of this mini chocolate bars.
  • We use glow sticks necklaces and bracelets to try and keep our children more visible. 
  • We carry a flashlight and use reflective bags for collecting candy. 
  • At home we inspect the candy before doling it out to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with. 
  • We make sure costumes fit properly so our kids don’t trip and they can see through their masks.

Do we really have to curb their freedom too?

Maybe I'm just a homebody but I think I’d rather stick to our family traditions of staying close to home and making it a small yet fun event.  My kids don’t need to go to a big hyped up party where not only will they get over full on sugar but have to compete with crowds of other kids just to line up for activity booths. In the end they are tired, grumpy and miserable. 

Halloween may be all about dressing up and getting candy but I’d like to think it’s about more than that.  It’s not just about what you can get. 

What does Halloween mean to you?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Weekend Away–Sort of

trishI am going to a women’s conference out our new church this weekend.  I have mixed feelings about it.

I didn’t actually think I was going to get to go.  I was all excited when I first heard about and then I found out it costs $75.00 to attend.  I get it.  They are hosting a ton of amazing workshops plus they have this amazing speaker coming for the weekend and they are throwing in our meals. 

I just don’t have $75.00.  We are at an all time financial low, so low in fact I didn’t think we were going to be able to cover our business’s rent this month. 

So although I had expressed a passing interest to my husband which generally goes in one ear and out the other, I pretty much told myself maybe next year.  This last Sunday though, while I listened to our pastor’s wife talk about all the fun they were going to have this upcoming weekend, I couldn’t help but cast up a little prayer.

Then mid week I found out from my husband that he had signed me up for this weekend.  I was astonished to say the least and a little upset.  We can’t afford this.  He said that I needed it and just imagine a weekend without having to worry about the kids etc.  Well, of course, that appeals to me. 

I considered phoning and cancelling but then I was afraid that my husband would be disappointed in me because I was chickening out.  Which in a sense is what I’d be doing.  I hardly know anyone at this Church and am not good going into these types of situations on my own.

Besides it saddens me when I see the sense of community all these women have with each other because they’ve known each other for so long.  It seems like I’m always trying to fit in somewhere, trying to make new friends but can’t because there’s no room really for someone new. Let’s face it, it’s hard to make friends when you’re older.  Or is it just me?  It’s pretty much shaken my confidence in myself.

Besides it was nice that my husband actually put some thought into something like this for me and acted on it. Usually it’s the well I was thinking about this or that or I haven’t had time to plan or what do you want to do and it gets left up to me to decide. Like my 40th, I ended up planning my own dinner party just so something would be planned.

I told my husband that yes I wanted to go but that if I was to go then God would lay me on someone’s heart.. he said AHA, see, God answered your prayer.  He layed you on my heart.

Well, I can’t argue with that even if it isn’t exactly how I had hoped He would answer my prayer. 

Answered prayer is answered prayer.

So I’m going to have a weekend away.  Sort of.  I will still be sleeping at home but I won’t have to worry about kids or meals or husbands.  I’m really hoping that I will be able to relax and enjoy myself, not say anything stupid or embarrassing or too much and that I will make a friend. 

What are you planning for the weekend?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Traditions

I love this time of year.  If you live on the West Coast you learn to appreciate all the seasons because let’s face it… the warm and sunny season is by far too short. 

One of the reasons I love fall so much is Halloween.  Especially since I had children.  After all, Halloween is the one time of the year that you pretty much give yourself permission to eat junk food.  That and I get to raid the children’s goody bags. It’s sad they are getting so much older that they actually notice when the pile gets depleted.  Winking smile

I guess I’ve been too busy just living life and never actually thought my family was creating traditions.  It wasn’t until I was asked by Mom Central for the Allan Candy blog tour to write a post about my family’s Halloween traditions that I actually stopped and thought about it. What do you know, we’ve been making family traditions with our kids every since E’s first Halloween. 

One of the very things we do every year for Halloween is visit the pumpkin patch to pick out our pumpkins.  When we lived up Island, we used to drive to a farmer’s market an hour and half away just to climb over their mountain of pumpkins.  Then when preschool started we started visiting local farms where picking pumpkins now entails petting farm animals and feeding the chickens. 

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Deciding what costumes to wear also plays an important part but even in that we had our traditions. When E was two years old we bought a puppy costume at the 2nd hand store.  It was adorable.  It was fluffy and brown and had a wide bum so the tail wiggled when she walked.  Each of my children since wore that costume and when J came along we even found a second puppy costume, slightly different, and both my girls were puppies.  O was lucky because for his first three Halloween’s he was all set.  It was with great sadness when we finally let those costumes go because they no longer fit. 

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The biggest part of our Halloween traditions I think has to be our pumpkin carving.  Long before kids, hubs and I had fun carving out fancy pumpkins using stencils.  A lot of work but it was fun hearing all the wonderful comments on them.  Of course, once you have kids you have to give up some of the control and let them do what they are going to do.  Hubs and I still reserve ourselves each one pumpkin and let the kids get creative in their own way. And you know what?  Some of their pumpkins were pretty inventive.

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At first they were hesitant about all the goo but eventually, they came to love it!
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Note the Boogie 
on the end---->
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I love Calvin & Hobbes!







And of course, Halloween, wouldn’t be complete without the candy.  Such an important part of the occasion after all.  Nowadays it’s even vital that we make sure we hand out not only yummy safe treats but treats that are peanut free. 

This year thanks to Allan Candy, I will be handing out their peanut free Halloween Treats in my neighbourhood.  A Canadian company, Allan Candy Halloween Treats are all made in Canada and are peanut free.  Celebrating their 77th year, their line up includes Allan Intense Jubes & Jellies, Allan Chewy Rascalz and Allan Fruit Buddies.  You’ll find these selections at key retailers, including Wal-Mart and Loblaws.

What are some of your family’s Halloween traditions?  Did you realize that you’ve been making them all along?

Disclosure – I am participating in the Allan Candy Company program by Mom Central Canada.  I received compensation (Candy)for my participation in this campaign.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting Creative with Crayola

Crayola BadgeAs part of the Mom Advisory Panel for Crayola, I get to or rather my children get to try out various products from Crayola every few months.  While Crayola sometimes challenges my inner picky neat freak, I have yet to be truly disappointed or unhappy with their products.  Better yet whenever I pull out the familiar green and yellow packaging, my kids get excited because they know something fun is in store.

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Pop Art Pixies:  Ice Chandelier 

Maya’s Ice Chandelier is a fun way to add a touch of cool class to any room. Create custom designs that crystallize like ice with the Ice Markers…then link it all together and hang it.  Retail:  $14.99  Ages 8+

 

My oldest really had a ton of fun with this.  It may look complicated but she pretty much had it out of the box and partway assembled without so much as a glance at the instructions or any involvement from me.  The biggest role I played in this was helping her pop out the silver discs from the sheet.  It’s amazing how pretty this looks. 

At first there was some frustration because she’d color the discs and then it would smudge because she wanted to assemble it right away.  After a quick look at the instructions, we realized we needed to let the ice marker dry on the discs before handling it any further.  It didn’t take long and then she had a smudge free decoration. 

There are a lot of discs to color and so to avoid that overwhelming feeling or need to rush to get done, we decided that this was a multi-day project. 

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It’s going to be very pretty when done.

75-2063-0-200_MLB_FINAL_COMPColor Wonder Magic Lightbrush        Mess-Free paintbrush that magically lights up in the color of each clear Color Wonder&trade paint! Now includes Color Wonder&trade Metallic Paper for extra shiny metal effects!                Retail: $26.49 Age 6+

Again another fun product.  My five year old daughter was thrilled to try this out.  It didn’t take long for her to grasp the few simple requirements to make things work well… like wiping the brush between paint colors and how to unscrew and rinse off the paintbrush tip when you’re done.  We set her up with some paper towel and away she went. 

What I particularly liked about this was that we weren’t dealing with cups of water like you do with water paints so there were no issues of too much water soaking the paper etc.  What my five year old liked about it was how pretty the metallic paper made every color look.  Now we didn’t successfully create the bright colours like it shows in the picture on the box nor was she able to do any finer sort of lines etc because the brush is quite broad but she was happy with what she was able to draw.  In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?

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oooh shiny

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Crayola Color Wonder Marvel Superhero Activity Book. 

18 page Marvel Superhero Squad coloring pad and five Color Wonder markers. Retail:  $11.65  Age 3+

If you have a little colourer like mine, meaning they like to colour EVERYTHING including themselves, this has got to be the miracle product of the century.  It is truly mess free.  I can hand this book and a basket of color wonder markers to my son and let him colour to his heart content without worry.  I have even taken to bringing one of these activity books to Church to keep my son occupied. 

Plus Crayola has a variety of themes from Handy Manny to Toy Story to Superheroes sure to please any boy and Tinkerbell and Princess themes to charm the little girl in your life.

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Do you Crayola?

Disclosure:  products for review are provided to me by Crayola.  I do not receive any other compensation and the thoughts an opinions herein reflect my true experience with the products.

 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Men are Clueless

cluelessI worked the evening shift last night.  After six and a half hours on my feet, I was feeling pretty tired. 

I came home to a completely dark house. 

Strange, hubs doesn’t usually go to bed before 10:00 and if he was planning on it he probably would have let me know.  That’s when the first suspicion dawned.

Instead of investigating by going upstairs to see, I chose rather to proceed into the kitchen and make my usual after work cup of tea. It didn’t take long of my banging around before hubs came downstairs. 

My suspicions were correct. Hubs apparently thought that after a long day with the kids and a six hour shift that I’d be in the “mood”.  Yeah, right.

To be fair, he picked up on my “I don’t think so” cues pretty quick and went back upstairs to put out the candles. I didn’t have to say anything which was probably a good thing and just continued on as if nothing happened.

But inside, I was stewing. What was he thinking?

What is it with men and women that they are never on the same page at the same time. 

Take mornings for instance, men wake up raring and ready to go. 

I can’t speak for other woman but as for myself, I wake up stiff and sore and more often than not groggy. Generally we’re listening to the kids or the cats running up and down the stairs, rattling the bannister as they go or screaming at each other.  I’m not thinking much beyond getting up, using the washroom and getting my tea and feeding the monsters so they’ll stop fighting. 

But give men a perfect opportunity like an evening alone together at home and they do what? 

Surf the internet, watch t.v.

And yet, if I told him how annoyed I was that he chose last night to romance me after a late night at work instead of the evening before when we had the entire evening to ourselves, his feelings would be hurt. 
And cause he’s a man, he won’t actually tell me he gets what I’m saying, he’ll just get that look on his face, tighten his lips and say nothing cause he can’t do anything right. 

ARGGGGGHHHH

How about you?  Are you on the same page as your man?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Diagnosis

blogADD


This is the result of weeks of doctor’s appointments, blood work and filling out questionnaires.  I expected to feel some sort of relief knowing that there is something behind her often very frustrating behaviour. 

And yet….

There really isn’t.  After all, most kids have trouble focusing and paying attention and are easily distracted.  Aren’t they?  I find we’ve been dealing with the uniqueness of E’s personality for so many years that I no longer have a guage to guide me as to what is normal behaviour for her age level. 

I know the neighbour kid down the street, who also was in E’s class last year, no longer wants to play with her.  Whenever E goes down the road to play, she makes up weird excuses like having to go in for dinner at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, so she can’t play.  Fortunately it all goes over E’s head but eventually she will clue in.  I can’t help but feel that E is awfully immature at her age.  Is it her or have we been too limiting and not allowed her to mature?  Or should I just be grateful she’s more innocent than a lot of other kids. 

They keep harping at school how E plays with the younger kids but when I’m there, what I see is the younger kids coming up and asking her to play so she does.  After all she has two younger siblings, she’s used to playing with younger kids. 

So what does a diagnosis really mean?  Medication?  A cure? Life suddenly gets easier?

It doesn’t help me react any differently to her behaviour.  I still get just as angry even though now there’s a name for it. 

It doesn’t help to know that three years ago I would have fought tooth and nail before I’d let anybody label her as ADD.  The media is full of how kids are over diagnosed these days.

Yet after three years of struggling, I’m could practically jump at the chance to make it all just a little easier with a daily dose of medication. Doesn’t that sound just awful? 

That thought alone makes me question whether medication is the right option.  Maybe it’s us who need to adjust for her and not the other way around.

Unfortunately, I think I'd need a pill to accomplish it cause Lord knows, I’m not succeeding very well or I wouldn’t be so stressed out.

Has ADD affected your life?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Getting Spooky with Hallmark

Hallmark has such great stuff for every special occasion so it really shouldn't surprise me that they go all out for Halloween.  I had the pleasure to review a few of their "spookiest" products.

tp_template.psdHokey Pokey Skeleton
Special: $14.95 with each purchase of 3 Hallmark cards MSRP: $29.95

“Watch as this skeleton dances and sings to a parody of “The Hokey Pokey” song.”


This little guy really is adorable.  My kids have had so much fun watching him do the hokey pokey.  It’s a short tune so it doesn’t get a chance to drive you crazy.  In fact, it makes me smile every time one of them pops into the living room and pushes his button.  Even more fun in the fact that he glows in the dark.  I have a feeling he’s going to be a big hit with my trick-r-treaters come this Halloween.

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It’s the Great Pumpkin,Charlie Brown Book with Sound
Special: $9.95 with any Hallmark purchase MRSP:$14.95

Push the buttons and read along! Based on the beloved television classic, this new special book edition captures the story for all ages

Nothing like a little Peanuts to bring back memories and what a lovely way to share those memories with your children.  Reading together is so important and creates bonds that will last all their lives.  Not only do you get to read together but push the buttons and you hear actual clips from the show.  This has been a nightly favourite in my house.

tp_template.psdHocus Pocus Treat Presenter
MSRP: $14.95 Special Value/ Reg $19.95

This festive book holds “Halloween tricks and treats”. Open if you dare for unexpected, cackled greetings.

I don’t know if this is based on the movie or not but when I saw it, it immediately brought to mind the Hocus Pocus movie with Bette Midler.  I love that movie.  This book is such a fun idea.  It’s neat but not scary so it’s a fun way to present treats to the younger crowd, give them a giggle without freaking them out.


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Flickering Witch Candle
MSRP $19.95

This creepy candle for Halloween sets the tone for all things scary!

This candle is battery operated so it not only makes a wonderful Halloween decoration but it also could be just the perfect accessory to your witch costume. 
These are just a few of the Halloween items that Hallmark stocks for this spooky season. For more Halloween ideas check out their website Hallmark.

*I received these items from Hallmark Canada in order to conduct my review.  The observations and experiences contained herein reflect my true opinions. *