Thursday, July 28, 2011

Life Is a Special Occasion

We look forward to summer all year. The kids are out of school, we can drag out our favourite summer wear, head to the beach and have fun. Only what's supposed to be relaxing ends up feeling rushed in a flurry of activity to keep the kids from getting bored. With the summer already half over, I'm reminded I need to slow down and enjoy this last month the kids have off from school.

Which is why I am pleased to be participating in a Press Pause Panel for Hallmark Canada. You may recall from a previous post that Hallmark is celebrating the fact that "life is a special occasion" and wants to remind Canadians to take time, pause and appreciate the everyday moments. Hallmark certainly has some clever and creative ways to get families to do just that.

lightningWith Hallmark’s Recordable Storybooks you can create a special memento that your child will treasure.  You simply record yourself reading the story and voila you can read to your child even if you’re not there.  This would be perfect for grandparents who live away from their grandchildren.  A lovely way to make a impact on a child’s life.  MSRP: $29.95family

With the Family Recordable Memory Album you can not only display your favourite photos but record a short story or memory to go along with it.  Perfect for keeping track of special events in their life. Bright and Colourful. MSRP: $29.95

Lastly, the Family Tree frame is a lovely way to show off the whole family by filling it with lovely framed photos and special mementos. I don’t know about you but my children love to look at photos of themselves and the Family Tree frame is an elegant way to display your favourites. 
familytree

It’s actually quite sturdy and there are a number of frames that you Purchase separately to adorn it.  It’s really quite striking.        MSRP: $69.95

Of course these are a just a few things that Hallmark has come up with to help Canadians “Press Pause” and enjoy moments with their loved ones.  Like the Beach Vacation Scrapbook with fun, embellished pages just perfect for recording all those sandy moments; or the Shadow Box Frame featuring a cotton clothesline with paper attachments to record your baby’s birth; or the Recordable Handprint Kit, where your child can leave their handprint on a heart and then record a message for a long lasting keepsake.

Check out Hallmark’s website for more special moment ideas!

Zeemaid

Friday, July 22, 2011

Have I Bit Off More Than I can Chew?

Making plans, I am great at.  Executing said plans, not so much.

It’s so easy to talk about all the things need doing and what you need to get them done. Last night in a fit of ambition, I declared to my husband that we were going to finish off the paint jobs we need done and paint E’s room. 

I managed to motivate him so much that we ran off to the paint store and began the painful task of picking paint for E’s room.  Painful because E has definite opinions and she doesn’t like it when suggest alternatives.

Of course, she doesn’t understand my concern about the cost and that if we don’t like how it all turns out that we can’t just go and grab another can of $30.00 paint.  The paint she chooses she will have to live with for quite some time.  She was almost near tears at one point as she asked us why were trying to make her change her mind.

Of course we weren’t.  I was actually trying to figure out which paint chips matched the colours we had sampled out on the computer at home.  It’s amazing how quickly you forget that a soon to be 8 year old has absolutely no clue as to the paint process. She didn’t realize we had to pick the colours on the paint chips BEFORE we picked the paint.

Once she understood that things went a little better and the very nice lady at the Home Depot paint shop showed E how they add the colours, let her scan the barcode and even turn the dial for the paint shaker.  The lady even made each of my kids a little paint stick fan with the Mickey Mouse paint stickers.  She made the whole process more pleasant for us. As you can imagine three kids don’t exactly have much patience hanging around a home improvement store. 

Anyways, it’s a new day today and after making four dozen cookies for tomorrow’s bake sale (a friend of ours is letting E set up a lemonade and cookie stand), we still have to clear out E’s room, figure out a float and make a sign for her stand.

On top of that the kids keep thinking we’ll actually get started painting today.  Just wait until I put them to work scrubbing walls.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fun With Crayola

Crayola BadgeWhen Crayola asked me to be a part of their Mom Advisory Panel again this year, I couldn’t have been more pleased.  I’ve always trusted Crayola products from their crayons to their water colors to their washable markers (so important with little ones around). 

It’s exciting to be a part of discovering just how creative Crayola is.  So much more than “just coloring”, Crayola brings a whole different level of creativity to kids. 

I’ve recently been sent three products to review by Crayola.  As always I’ve vetted them through my children and add my own “mom” view to each product.

prestodotsModel Magic Presto Dots Vehicle Asst
Create your own puffy vehicle with this unique Model Magic Kit. $12.49   Age 5+

This may say for five and up but since we received just one and my younger daughter had already received a different Presto-Dot for her birthday, I decided to let my four year old try this out.  While it gave my son and I a perfect opportunity to sit down and do something together, it wasn’t long before he had mastered the dots and was cruising along happily without any more assistance from me.  He thoroughly enjoyed this and while the control freak part of me would have everything look exactly like the photo (I must have been fun as a child), in the end I was amazed at what a great job he did.  Very easy to do and lots of fun.  One of the things that my son liked the most out of it was that he was able to play with his car.  It really has movable wheels.  What I like about it is after a while I can just peel of the dough and he can do it all over again if wants. 

DSC03269

He decided he liked the dots flat.

crGlow Explosion Sand Art Scenes
Crayola Glow sand lets you create awesome sand art that glows! Just activate each colour of Glow Sand and pour into the Glow Sculpture forms.
$ 11.99  Age 6+ 

I have to admit I was a little hesitant to try this product out.  I was already envisioning a huge mess and stressful explaining and re-explaining the instructions to three kids.  Because of course, while it may say 6 +, there was no way they were going to let big sister have all the fun.

Yet, it was actually relatively simply and stress free.  Of course, I was smart and we sat outside to do it so there was no sandy mess to clean up.  It comes with 8 art scenes and two sand collection trays.  The inside tray that holds all the stuff worked for a third.

Essentially you mix the glow sand packets into a pouring tray that conveniently closes leaving a hole at one end for sprinkling.  The kids then applied glue to the areas where they wanted the sand and then sprinkled the sand.  Considering all three kids have heavy hands with the sprinkling it was easy to shake back into the trays for the next use. 

It says to dim the lights when doing this product but since we were doing the project outside on a somewhat nice day, that was impossible.  However, I think it worked better this way because the surprise was all the greater for them when we went into the darkest room in our house, the downstairs loo, and looked at their creations.  My son kept saying “Wow, Wow” and they couldn’t wait to show their dad.  Sure, if they were older the project might have been more defined and sharper like the ones in the photo on the cover but still I say the results were striking and the kids had tons of fun.

DSC03381DSC03382

The Photos just don’t do justice to how cool it looks in the dark and we hung up the pictures in the kid’s rooms and they still glowed brightly.

Glow_Chalk1Glow Chalk
Pour the mixture into a mold and within 30 minutes kids will have their very own designed piece of glowing chalk!
$10.99    Age 6+

We had a harder time with this one project. Mainly because this is a project that works best when the sun sets and since the sun isn’t setting until almost 10 at night and our kids are already long in bed by that time. 

It’s actually really easy and fun to make the chalk and there were lots of tasks for the kids to help with.  Since my last testing of make your own sidewalk chalk, Crayola has improved the process by providing a funnel so that it’s easier to pour the water and powder into the chalk bottles.  It allowed the kids to assist and once the lid was screwed on, they all had fun shaking up the colors. After that it was a simple matter of pouring the chalk into the molds.  I think the hardest part was waiting the 30 minutes for the chalk to set.

DSC02470 DSC02466

Be sure to check out Crayola.ca for lots of great ideas. You will even find free downloadable coloring pages.

**disclosure  I was sent sent the above product to review and was not compensated in any other way.  As always the reviews and opinions held herein are my own and truly reflect my experience. **

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Don’t Come to Me in A Crisis

I have long suspected that I am no good when it comes to a crisis. 

When J wasn’t quite two, she fell and bashed her head on the window ledge acquiring a nice gash on the back of her head.  My response when I lifted her hair back to and saw the gash was to cry… “Oh my god, oh my god” and panic.  Thank goodness my mother-in-law was downstairs and so was able to come up and confirm that yes this gash was going to need stitches and stayed with E while I took J to the walk-in clinic.

When E was two she ran away from me, fell off the curb and smashed her mouth on the asphalt.  I cried along with her as she nestled her bleeding mouth into my white sweater.  I cried all the way home as well as lecturing her on how she was not to run away from mommy. 

Which is probably why I spend so much of my time and effort into preventing a crisis before it happens. 

So it should come as no surprise that when our t.v. blew up the other day, I was once again pretty much useless.  K was upstairs checking on the kids when suddenly I heard a strange noise, the t.v. shut off and smoke was billowing out of it.  I stand up, yell “K, oh my god, oh my god” and think.. I need to do something.  K comes running down and says turn it off.  I go to press the off button which does nothing while he much more efficiently reaches down and flicks off the power bar. 

Yup, I’ll say it again, I’m useless in a crisis.

So our thousand dollar t.v. is toast.  We’d had it for less than five years. It was the last big ticket item we’d actually saved up for. We were very proud of the fact that we didn’t buy that t.v. on credit.  Now five years later, in a much rougher financial situation, it comes down to family holidays or t.v. ?  Ah who am I kidding, we probably can’t afford to do the family holiday anyways and so a new t.v. is definitely out. 

Guess we’re going to be stuck watching our movies for work on this…

disney

After our 42” television, it’s gonna be something to get used to.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Where’s Summer?

So my summer plans got derailed a little what with my grandma’s passing and with the complete change in the weather.  We’ve had nothing but rain for the past week and a half. 

I enrolled the kids in the summer reading club, took them to two reading times at the library but as of yet we haven’t filled out a week yet on the reading cards so we can enter into a contest.  Yes, we read tons to the kids but E has been less than eager to practice reading on her own and the one time she practiced sounding out to write something, it ended up in tears.  Hers, not mine.  I was the epitome of patience with her for a change so I just don’t get it. 

I’ve been reluctant to push the reading thing since then because I don’t want to make her more frustrated.  Plus, the good intentions I had with trying to cultivate more patience seems to have left.  I was doing really well, not perfect but oh so much better than I was before, and then grandma died.  Like I said, it’s effect shows in different ways.

Plus hubby and I decided to try the low glycemic diet.  Not only do we both need to lose weight, I’d love to get my diabetes in good enough shape so I can stop medication. 

A)I hate taking pills and constantly forget and

B) if I don’t take these the right way (after I eat) I feel like I have the flu not to mention Norwalk.  I’m talking afraid to leave the house in case I have to get to the bathroom.

I bought this recipe book called “Low Glycemic Meals in Minutes”. It gives tips and advice on how to “quick prep” your food so that you can have meals in minutes.  It’s a shop twice a week and prep twice a week sort of program. 

It’s actually a really great way of doing it.  I don’t have excuses anymore to not eat vegetables when I have a bin full of chopped veggies for me to snack on.  Plus they are ready to go for any recipe from salads to salsas.  The kids love it. In fact we’ve spent more money than usual this week because the kids and us have been going crazy noshing on the veggies.

The only hard part is that we are in “phase 1” of this diet which means no carbs or sugar so we can break the carb cravings.  It’s amazing to see how carb crazy we’ve become.  It’s actually difficult to figure out what we’re going to eat, the concept of just meat and vegetables seems so foreign.

But the results are definitely worth the initial struggle because I’ve lost eight pounds this week.  Of course, I can’t expect to continue to lose almost a pound a day but still having quick weight loss at the beginning does help to keep me motivated.  I’ve now lost 24 pounds since I found out I had diabetes last December. I lost some weight when I first went on the medication but then stalled for awhile.  My pants are getting looser already and I’ve actually tried on a few outfits that I had been hanging on to for awhile and they just about fit.  They all do up but are still a little tight.  So I know it will only be a few pounds more and then I can wear them again.  Yeah!

How’s your summer going?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye

carnationI don’t even know how to start this post. 

Quite simply, my grandmother passed away last week.  She was 80, she had some health issues but still it came as a complete shock to her family.  I’ve been quiet this week as I’ve tried to deal with the suddenness of her death. 

And yet, everyday life continues which makes it almost easy to push her death to the back of my mind.  With three children it’d be hard not to be caught up in their constant whirlwind and yet… its effect on me is there in so many small ways.

I feel for my mother who had been caring for my grandmother for the past several years. While she was still independent living in a small trailer on my parent’s property, she still needed some watching over. 

My grandmother was ornery, sometimes cantankerous and often blunt.  She drove my mother crazy at times and yet, I think it’s the most difficult people in our lives that we love the most.  It must be such a hole in her life right now, not having to think about grandma and what she’s doing.

I never viewed my grandmother as a warm motherly woman and yet, I enjoyed her gruff ways and her sharp views on life.  When my mother had me, grandma was still raising two children at home.  She really wasn’t the doting grandmother type.  She never told me she was proud of me to my face but my husband said in talking with her, it was more than evident that she thought a lot of me. 

She once gave me teacups that had been used to serve tea at her wedding more than 50 years ago.  Because I loved tea cups and she knew that of all the grandchildren, I would take care of them.  I have a note from her, in her scratchy almost illegible handwriting that I will keep always. 

Because life gets busy, it’d probably been almost a month since I’d last seen her.  Like most people who lose loved ones, I wish I had one more day with her. 

At least, the last day we did have was a pleasant one as she joined us for lunch at my mother’s and sat outside and chatted while we watched my kids play. 

My kids never caught on to the great-grandma bit and simply called her “old nana” (my mom being “nana”). When we told my oldest what had happened she was saddened by the fact that she now has no great grandparents on either side of the family.  She didn’t realize how lucky she was to have known at least one great grandma since most of us are having our kids so much later these days.

Of course, it could be worse.. she could have no grandmas… like me.  I miss my grandmas.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Big Plans for the Summer

todo_xlg07My husband laughs at me because of all the things I plan to accomplish this summer. 

You see, I want to make this the best summer for my kids this year. We can’t afford much in the way of vacations and haven’t done a whole lot in that sense over the last few years so I’d really like to plan some fun things for them to do.  Plus I tend to be a homebody so I usually opt to go out as little as possible. Which means we usually miss even the free stuff that’s out there.

I have it all set out in my mind how things are going to go.  I’m going to get up and not laze around in the morning so they can go outside as early as possible.  Then we will set some time aside each day to practice reading and math, something which E struggles with. I am determined that she will go back to school in a much better state than she left it. Without undue pressure on her, of course.

Then, I am going to plan out free events each week, we’ll alternate between parks and/or the library or museums (the cheap ones) etc.

Of course, spend plenty of time in the pool. 

Convince hubby to buy a tent so we can go camping.

Teach E how to ride a bike.   I feel so guilty we haven’t spent enough time helping her with this.

AND…. paint the upstairs.  We seriously need to finish painting the stairway and landing upstairs.  Plus the kids really want their rooms done too.

Of course, hubby would like to know when I’m going to get all this done.

What are your summer plans?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Retrospection

 

girlAs you know from my last post, I’ve been somewhat concerned about my daughter’s social life. What mom doesn’t want her child to have friends? 

I’m not talking about miss popularity here. 

After all, most of the popular kids I knew in school turned out to be not so successful/happy later in life.  Not to mention, they were the first ones in our age group to experiment with drugs and engage in sex.  So no, I don’t want that for my child.

Still concerned, I attended the beach day for E’s school.  When I got there, sure enough there is E playing by herself.  She was attempting to build a driftwood fort.  “Where are your friends?” I asked.  They were around somewhere but she wanted to build her fort.  I suggested that since it was the last day she might want to play with her friends since she won’t see them the rest of the summer. She sighed but made the attempt.  Only she didn’t get very far because she got sidetracked by the tidal pools and next thing you know she was on her own again.

I realized though that she was perfectly happy and content.  She is full well able to entertain herself and was doing what she wanted.  It didn’t matter to her that the others were off doing something else. 

In talking with another mom, she advised me not to worry.  E was happy.  So I sat back and tried not to dwell on it and just let her be.  Isn’t that the hardest thing for moms to do?  We want to jump in and help, to fix things but sometimes we just have to sit back and do nothing, let them be. 

I received the same advice from my mom and she added that in a few years, I will be glad she’s able to entertain herself and doesn’t just conform to the crowd when they start to face tougher choices.

I’ve been able to let go of some of my anxiety for her and I’m happy about that.