Sunday, December 4, 2011

Time to Say Goodbye

Like all good things, Clever Mamas is coming to an end.  When we first set out with this blog project, Jill and I were 2 friends, living apart from one another, each parenting 2 small boys.  This seemed like a good way to support each other in our parenting ventures.  Along they way we each had another baby (both girls) and picked up a third contributor (Anna), herself a parent to 2 small boys. 
This past half year the blog has changed, kind of, for us.  We all have experienced several life changes.  I moved from a large city where I was running a home daycare, to a small town where I returned to my teaching job.  Jill also returned to the teaching workforce in her own large city and has found herself expecting baby #4 (coming Spring 2012).  Anna, went on her 2nd maternity leave with her own precious son.  All three of us are quite frankly, tired.  We had always maintained that this blog was to be non-pressure.  And now all three of us find we just don't have the time to contribute to it the way we would like to.  We have enjoyed the past 2 and a half years, but are ready to move on.  We hope that you have enjoyed our little blogging parenting venture and that you will continue to glean information from it in the future (be it a play-do recipe, or, some great breastfeeding tips!).
We all continue to blog on our individual blogs from time to time.
Anna can be found at:  Anna's Place.
Jill can be found at:  Life and Times of Jill
and I (Kris) can be found at:  Crafty Kris
Thank you all for your support!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

1st, 2nd, 3rd

I've shared before how I am the mother of three.  My eldest is now 7, my middle child is 4 and my youngest will be 2 in the New Year.  I was thinking this week how much we have changed as parents from child 1 to child 2 to child 3.  With Child 1 everything was new and exciting and sometimes nerve racking.  All stages were fascinating and we couldn't wait to move on to the next thing and note it down in the baby book.  Moments were shared very proudly with grandparents, great-grandparents and pretty much anyone who would listen.
Now that we are on Child 3 and knowing that she is our last I am finding we are holding on to every moment.  Not wanting her to get to the next stage just yet.  For example - my oldest was in a toddler bed at about 18 months.  It was exciting and he loved it.  Our youngest is currently 22 months and still in her crib.  I'm thinking probably around Christmas we'll convert her into the toddler bed, but there's no rush really.
We weren't nearly as relaxed with our first as we are now.  With our oldest there were lots of calls and questions to other parents and my own parents and our doctor asking, "Is he okay?", "Is that normal?", "Should that be happening?".  With our second and even more so with our third we would take note of their changes in behavior and think, "Oh that, you are doing that now".  And with those more frustrating stages of parenting knowing that there was an end in sight and it would probably take X amount of time to see it through.
It's so funny when I think back to the excited, nervous new parents we were taking our first home from the hospital in disbelief that they actually let us take him home to now when we feel like we know what we are doing.  We're now the people friends call to ask advice and ideas and spill their parenting questions to.  Somewhere along the way, we found our way and have become the so-called 'experts' - funny what experience does to you :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas Shopping Help! - Empire Theatres

My own personal deadline is quickly approaching.  You see I hate being out in crowded malls (some thrive on it, I know) so I try my best to get all my Christmas shopping done by the end of November.  I start planning early and give it a good go.  It still never fails, there is always someone on my list who I just can't think of anything really great and special for.  I'm sure you have those people too.  Maybe it's your Dad who really has everything and when asked what he wants says, "I'm sure whatever you get will be fine."  We have a 19 year old nephew who was much easier to shop for as a little guy who loved Legos, but now you just never know.  Even his mom doesn't know.  It's a mystery to all of us.  That's when I find gift cards come in handy.  If you don't know exactly what they would like, but have a rough idea about what they enjoy, why not get a gift card.
In the past we have found a movie gift card works great.  Who doesn't love to go to the movies?  That's why I'm pleased that Empire Theatres has brought back their Holiday Gift Pack this year.  In the past we have bought Empire Theatres gift cards for friends, teachers, co-worker gift exchanges and yes, our hard to buy for nephew.  We've even put them on our own wish list because, let's face it, date night is a rare and precious commodity as parents of three small children!  Here's what you need to know about how their gift card program works:

When you purchase $30 in Empire Theatres’ Gift Cards you will receive $30 in Empire Theatres Coupons. For example:
o If you purchase 3 cards for $10 each you qualify;
o If you purchase $60 you would receive 2 bundles.

The coupon bundle includes:
o BOGO Admission (January 9 to January 31, 2012)
o $2.00 off any Combo - excluding Kid’s Pack (January 9 to January 31, 2012)
o $9.99 (Admission, Regular Drink, Small Popcorn) (February 1st to February 29th, 2012)
o Buy a Large Popcorn, get a Large Drink Free (March 1st to March 31st, 2012)
o $6.99 General Admission (March 1st to March 31st, 2012)
o Get $4.00 off a General Admission Ticket (April 1st to April 30th, 2012)

It's up to you what you want to do with the coupon bundle.  You can give it as a bonus gift for your friends and relatives, or, keep it for yourself to enjoy.  

For another dollar you can also purchase an Empire Theatres gift tin with proceeds going towards the Kid's Help Phone.

Gift Card packs are availble now until December 18th online and December 24th in theatres.  You can purchase them online ( or at the theatres themselves.  I know I've bought them at a special kiosk in the mall too.

I wish you well in your Christmas shopping adventures this year, hopefully this helps you out with that gift for that person (or persons) that are hard to shop for.

Disclosure – I am participating in the Empire Theatre Gift Card Holiday Campaign by Mom Central Canada.  I received compensation for my participation in this campaign.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Could this happen to you? - An Update!

A few months ago I first posted the sad, but true story of an autistic daughter in BC who was forcibly removed from the care of her loving, devoted father (original post here). 4 months have passed and little Ayn has still not been returned to her father, Derek. I have continued to follow the daily trials that Derek has been going through in attempting to have his daughter returned from the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development on a Facebook page that has been set up, called "Help Bring little Autistic girl back to her Daddy"  Today, Derek posted a media release on that site.  It is with great pleasure that I share this with you all. 

"Nov 4 2011

  It has now been over four and a half months since I have seen my daughter. I have given my all for her, from the first moment I laid my eyes on her in the delivery room I knew my heart was hers. I would never harm her, nor am I accused of such, I have done nothing except dedicate my life to try to nuture and understand her. She has been ripped from her family for no other reason then the misperception that she was an unmanageable deteriorating child. Nothing could be further from the truth, Ayn is a wonderful caring child. She is autistic yes and as such often has a hard time explaining what she wants; she has an astute understanding of body language and a very strong will. Though verbal and possessing a large vocabulary Ayn still struggles to share with others her desires, fears, and thoughts. She continues to ask for me, she continues to assert that I am coming... She knows I would not abandon her. Yet the Ministry of Children and Family Development continues to hold her from me. On Oct 18 the government sought court approval for temporary custody for 90 days, again I refused to consent to this, and since this is my continued stance an effort will be made to determine if trial is necessary or whether mutual consent can be achieved between the parties. This step is called the Case Conference and has been scheduled over 90 days away.... on Jan 23rd. If this is the case why ask for 90 days? Why even pretend to ask? My reasons for refusal will not be heard. I continue to wait for hearing after hearing, never being given the opportunity to even speak... at the conclusion of each simply another is scheduled, in effect you go to the back of the line struggling to merge schedules to obtain the next soonest date. 
Ayn has escaped from the care of the Ministry twice now in four months, the second time naked, drugged, wet and wandering as far as the "main street", police were called, Ayn discovered and returned. I will be told nothing or rather I will be told whatever the MCFD chooses to tell me. "It is under investigation" I hear, but the first time she escaped was months ago surely something is known by now? She was being watched and drugged while under the care of the MCFD by a 15 year old fellow foster child.... "still under investigation". Why was the window not locked in the bathroom where she was bathing unattended?... "under investigation". The MCFD is supposed to be trained to identify emotional abuse is it not? How can they ignore it when they are the source. Ayn was in no more danger here than her disability engendered, all I am asking for is her to be returned to me immediately. If they would like to do an investigation by all means, but we are over 4 months in now and as of yet no-one has been asked how Ayn was in the Home, the very place she is being kept from. She has been returned to the school where the "deterioration" was observed. She has been returned to their care from where she has twice escaped. They have offered me unsupervised access effective immediately... yet will not return her to me. This is a nightmarish power struggle with an institution whose named function is family development. Whose guiding principles are: "a family is the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of children and the responsibility for the protection of children rests primarily with the parents" (CFCSA 2b) and "decisions relating to children should be made and implemented in a timely manner" (CFCSA 2g).  
My life has been dedicated to my children, I continue to care for my sons, I do so happily and have never once complained about the tribulations I face raising 2 severely autistic kids. They are both happy and thriving children and there is nothing to suggest otherwise... I am angry, I am in pain, I suffer... and do you know what it doesn't matter... Ayn is all that matters. She does not deserve this, she is just as much a citizen as: the social workers involved, the different judges overseeing this, You or I. Yet she is being treated as chattel, her sadness towards my absence used against me, my advocacy for her to get proper services used against me, all the while she sits in a basement wondering where her family went, not knowing why this happened. Did she do something wrong? Do we not want her anymore? She has no ability to comprehend the ministry's legal wranglings, all she knows is she has been forcefully removed from those whom she loved and had spent every day of her life... Does it make it any better that she has been placed with an assortment of caregivers who may be very nice people? Having good people do the wrong thing is not a benefit. They are kept in the dark, as is the public.... as am I. And now to wait past her Dec 14th birthday, past Christmas... and into the New Year.... for a "case conference" where even there I will not get to argue for her return but will receive a date where that could happen.... a date which could in all likelyhood be a year or more later..... Is this why we created such an institution? Please Help Ayn to come home, she is just as much a person as you or I and should not be treated in such a manner. We love her so dearly... I will never relent... this will have been all for nothing; the only net result being a little disabled girl who will never know why or when she could be snatched again."

To find out how you can support Derek and Ayn please join this Facebook site:
You can also sign a petition in support of her release:
And support this family through your Tweets by following: @Justice4Ayn

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Soup Trick

Here's one of those "Mom Tricks" that will leave you thinking, "Why didn't I think of that?" (Of maybe you already did and I'm the one slow on the draw!)  Toddler Cup o' soup.  My daughter loves soup.  Absolutely.  But she's at that age of wanting to do it herself when it comes to feeding, and let's face it, a toddler with a bowl of soup is a mess waiting to happen.  So comes my brilliant idea of using the sippy cup for her own variation of cup o' soup.  Works like a charm!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Seventh Generation - Second Wave - Hestia House

I had a fantastic opportunity this week to visit a place I have never been to before. Hestia House in Saint John, NB, Canada is an unassuming place. I've driven by it many times and never knew it was there. I knew of it's existence, but not the location. The location is purposefully hidden. Hestia House is a safe place, a shelter and support for women and children in crisis. This year marks 30 years of Hestia House. It's a bittersweet marker. I'm glad it's there, but I'm saddened that it is needed.
The purpose of Hestia house is to provide safe housing for women and children who need to leave an abusive home environment. They are looking for a way out and looking to plan for a better future. It accommodates 24 women and children, complete with a playroom and a secure backyard. The home is staffed around the clock. They provide counseling, referrals to appropriate agencies and support groups for emotional, medical, legal, employment and housing needs. There is a 24 hour hotline as well. Though it mostly serves women in the Saint John area, any woman is welcome there who needs the support.
As I learned more about what Hestia House does, I was really impressed with a partnership program that they have. The Animal Rescue League of Saint John offers a temporary home for pets of the women who turn to Hestia House. It is just one more way to encourage women to leave an abusive situation. As you can well imagine, it takes a lot of courage for these women to leave their situations and turn to a place like Hestia House for help. It's not an easy decision to make and often they leave with just the clothes on their back. That's why Hestia House welcomes donations of all sorts. People can help out with monetary gifts, gift cards, or practical items such as toiletries, clothing and toys. During my visit to Hestia House I was able to donate a box of diapers for them to use whenever they are needed in the future. The diapers are part of Seventh Generation's Second Wave Diaper Donation Program. During this past month, many Mom bloggers around the country were approached by Seventh Generation and Mom Central Canada to take part in this campaign. Their aim was aiming to reach their goal of giving away up to 240,000 diapers to 40 shelters in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Additionally, they asked Mom bloggers to donate diapers to a charity of their choice. Hestia House was the organization that jumped out to me as a place that needed to be blessed in this way. And it was a very moving experience for me. I can only imagine the stories that lie in those walls.
There are ways that you can be involved in this great act of love yourself. You can "Buy One Give One" - Seventh Generation Diapers to an organization you know could use them. To learn more about Seventh Generation and the shelters that they have supported this fall check out
To learn more about Hestia House, visit
If you or someone you know is living in distress, please call (506)-634-7570.
To make a donation to Hestia House contact: Hestia House Inc. P.O. Box 22080 57 Landsdowne Ave Saint John, NB E2K 4T7
Disclosure – I am participating in the Seventh Generation program by Mom Central Canada. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do Something Little, Help Something Big

I have a mom admission to make.  I turn the radio down when the news comes on and my kids are with me in the car.  It's not to pretend these things don't happen, it's just to filter them from it for a while.  I don't want them to become jaded, where the headlines that should shock and horrify just become part of their every day life.  And that really is what has happened to us.  The headlines roll off our backs, and set into the background while we get on with our day.  We shrug things off and think, well what can we possibly do about it?  Exactly, what can we do?
Maybe it isn't something big, maybe it's something little.  There is so much negativity in our world that it seems incurable.  So why not start small?
Remember that old commercial, if I tell 10 friends, and they tell 10 friends and so on and so on.  Well, that's how I'm thinking these days.  If I show some kindness to our world and teach my kids to do the same, how will that impact their lives?  How can that little ripple effect our world?
We have a couple of story books that show that idea off to our kids quite well, the first is The Grumpy Morning by Pamela Duncan Edwards and the second is Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud .  

I think they are great starters to get your kids thinking about how what we do and how our attitudes can have an effect not just on themselves but on others.
The other way I can teach my kids this concept is by living it out myself.  That's why I was excited to be asked to join the Energizer Blog tour "Do Something Little, Help Something Big".  They are pledging to donate $100 000 to Evergreen to make cities more liveable.  For each person that visits their site and makes a pledge of what they will do to help this world out in any sort of act of kindness, they will donate a dollar.  As I write this the pledge counter stands at 35 808 - so there is a ways to go yet.  I'd love to see them max out.
For my part, I am pledging 5 things.  5 simple acts of Kindness.
1. Donate what I'm not using - clothing, outgrown toys, books on pregnancy/babies - all of that can go to someone who currently needs it.
2. Turn out the lights when we aren't in that room - my 4 year old has really picked up on this one and has become the 'light police' in our house
3. Hold open more doors - you know what it's like when you are pushing a stroller around and the person in front of you lets the door shut just as you are getting there - so frustrating!  I'm trying to be more aware of who is around me when I'm out and about so I can help them out.
4. Smile and manners towards service people.  I honestly would hate to have their job because people can be so rude to store clerks, serving staff and cashiers.  I'm trying to put myself in their shoes, and remember that they are people doing their job.  A kind word and a smile can really make their day and their shift a little bit easier.
5.  Take charge of our recycling.  We don't have curbside pickup where we currently live so I'm making a point to drive it in to a recycling depot when I go to work.
That's it.  5 little things that can make a difference.  What 5 things do you think you can do too? 
To take part in Energizer and Evergreen's initiative visit

Disclosure – I am participating in the Energizer Canada & Evergreen “Do Something Little, Help Something Big” program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Energizer Canada & Evergreen. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.



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