Saturday, April 24, 2010

Since Kris Asked . . .

and I also have a few pairs of little boy pants to mend, I thought I would post a tutorial on how to patch pants so that the patches will stay put. Its here at my craft blog since it seemed to fit better there. Let me know if you find it helpful.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

But you turned out okay!

I am a child of the 70's. My mom loved me lots and did everything in her power to take the absolute best care of me (and my brother). She was educated on infant and child development and followed the advice given to her by professionals. I'm now a 21st Century parent. I too love my children and am doing everything in my power to take the absolute best care of them. I too educate myself on infant and child development and follow the advice given to my by professionals. So what's the difference? The difference is that we have been given different advice.
My mom raised us in a time when long term breastfeeding was not an encouraged practice. Bottles and formula were the thing. Parents were told to give their babies cereal at a few weeks old as it would help fill them up and they would sleep longer.
I'm raising my kids at a time where long term breastfeeding is recommended and encouraged. The formulas that we give our babies are more scientifically designed and much healthier for our babies. We are told to hold off on all solids for the first 6 months (even that advice changed since my oldest was an infant, 6 years ago the recommendation was 4-6 months). So what's the difference? About 30 years of research. So what's the problem? Many grandmothers, Aunties and well intentioned older ladies love these babies too and want to help you out. They do what women do best, give advice (notice I didn't say meddle or interfere?). The problem is the advice they have is 30 years out of date and like most women, many will get incensed at the idea that they could be wrong about something, often responding, "well I did that with you and you turned out okay!" (or your husband, or whoever). There is a very kind way to deal with this. My favorite comes from a letter I found from Dr. Sears:

Attention all Grandmothers:

Much has been learned over the past thirty years about infant nutrition and development. Many practices that were common three decades ago are now known to be unhealthy, maybe even dangerous to a young infant.

I know that the experts told you to start feeding your babies cereal after a few weeks of life; and you followed their advice because you loved your children. Now we know that an infant's gut is not ready for solid foods until around six months of age. If you start a food too early, he is much more likely to become allergic to it. This can result in damage to the intestines, weight loss, blood in the stool, and malnutrition. You might argue, "Well, my kids started solid foods at three weeks, and they turned out just fine." The truth is, very few adults have perfectly working digestive tracts. Just look at all the commercials for heartburn remedies and stool softeners... "ever feel gassy and bloated after a meal?"

Here is what the experts are saying now:

* Breastfeed for at least one year.
* Start cereal and other solids after six months of age.

Grammy, please let your daughters follow this advice, because they love your grandchildren as much as you do.
Dr. Jim

I love it. Perfectly worded, and by an expert in infant and child development. Remember these lovely ladies are not trying to frustrate you, they are trying to love your kids. You are the mom now. Make your wishes known (politely, we're not trying to start WW3 in the family) about feeding your baby, especially if they are going to be the baby's caretakers once in a while, and be ready to back yourself up with facts. It's quite possible that the reason we are seeing more people our age with bowel issues like Crohn's disease relates back to incorrect infant feeding when we were infants. Just be ready for both responses. Hopefully all will be well and you'll be greeted with understanding. But you also need to be ready for the opposite. It's okay to disagree here, but you are the parent, you are the one who is the key decision maker here. Be polite but firm. Look at all the other advice parents were given 30 years ago that doesn't hold true today:
-babies were put on their tummies to sleep (My sister in law was putting her baby on her tummy to sleep, because that's what she knew to do...until her pediatrician told her that 2 babies in the area had died recently from SIDS who were sleeping on their tummies.)
-car seats and seat belts were optional (I actually remember when wearing a seat belt became law in my province. I can't even imagine not wearing a seat belt today, have you ever walked into a room dealing with automobile trauma? My mom has, she was an OR RN for over 30 years, it ain't pretty.)
-women were allowed to smoke and drink during pregnancy (Have you ever met a child with FAS or FAE? I have. I've taught a few in my career, a very preventable diagnosis that these children will have to live with for the rest of their lives.)
Really, we all have the same interest in mind. We love these children passionately and want the best for them, sometimes we just need to keep ourselves and the other around us educated about what the best is.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I take it back

Last week I posted about pants patches for my little guy. Yes, they were easy to do. Apparently they are easy to undo as well. Every patched pair of pants had become un-patched by day's end, so now I need help. I will have to break out a needle and thread and patch them by hand. (no, I don't have a sewing machine). Who knows about sewing? What kind of material should I get? What should I do? Any and all tips appreciated!

Friday, April 16, 2010


I recognised the moment so well and took a pause because of it. My 2 boys were united, holding hands and encouraging each other as they faced the wrath of mom. I don't know if it's the lack of sleep (my baby has been getting up every hour from 3:30 on this week), or just the built up frustration of watching all their upstairs toys immigrate downstairs until the living room had been taken over, or just the general frustration of hearing them balk at the idea of cleaning up (maybe all three?). Whatever the reason, my usual tactics for managing my kids went out the window and voice raised, I had had it. I tossed every toy that didn't belong downstairs into a big pile in the middle of the room and told them it all had to be moved upstairs, ASAP or Mom would clean it up - they didn't want that to happen because who knew where the toys would end up. I'm not proud of my raised voice (let's face it, I was yelling). And no that doesn't at all line up with my theories of discipline and raising my kids. I think I freaked them out because they are not at all used to this kind of mama (crazy yelling mama). As they cleaned up, I heard it, my oldest encouraging his brother along, "It's okay, just keep cleaning up brother". And I paused. I'd lived out this moment before, only it was 1983 and I was 8 and my brother was 6. We were united too. Whatever we'd done to cause Mom to go over the edge we were paying for and we knew better. We also knew we better do whatever she said because we had definately gone to far.
Well, I'm glad I overheard that because I could relate to the other side. After the mess was cleaned up and I had them in bed for the night, I sat down in their room and apologised. They apologised too. We talked about it and became 'friends again'. After story they settled into sleep. I went downstairs and thought it over. Although it isn't great that I let that happen, I had to come up with a plan to make sure it doesn't happen. What was my part in that? Sure the toys had been piling up, but wasn't I the one who let it? Why didn't I enforce clean up before it got to that point? Sure the baby has been waking up nights, but why haven't I maintained a manditory house resting time so I can catch up a bit? Hmmm? Food for thought for me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Refocusing the Day

It was 6am and the boys had already been up for an hour. They were excited about the "Pirate Ship" they had built the night before out of blankets, bungee cords, cushions and blocks. It was huge and took up almost the whole living room. Having been up with the baby until midnight, I had sent them out to play on their ship at 5:15. At 5:30, I got out of bed and got down the cereal and milk and started a video for them. At 6am I was woken up by a carrot battle waging in and out of my room that almost trampled the baby. I emerged to find broken carrots strewn about the floor. As I cleaned up the carrots, I heard the water in the bathtub running. I went in to see all the quilts that had been "sails" being washed in the bathtub.

What did I do? I started nattering. "Its only 6 am and you've gotten me out of bed. I am tired. You are making disasters everywhere. Why can't you just sit and watch the video (ironic, since usually I hate it when they just sit and watch a video)? Why must you rampage around the house? Can't you use the play swords if you're going to sword fight?"

And then I stopped. I realized I needed to re-focus. Our day was quickly going downhill and it wasn't even seven o'clock. I went into the kitchen and took some breaths. I started the kettle for tea. I started water for oatmeal. I ate a cookie and drank some water. I breathed some more. And then I re-focused the boys. We read a book, and ate some breakfast.

Several times a day around here, we come close to a breaking point. I like to call it the "communal meltdown". If we're lucky, I manage to abstain from melting down myself. If I'm in a mood for dark humour I will mutter to myself, "Let the communal meltdown begin!". If I'm in a better head space, I can often sense the change in the wind and bypass the meltdown all together.

How? By remembering that I set the tone for our household, not my children. If I am setting the tone for our day, I will respond to my children rather than re-acting. I will notice the level of activity getting more frantic and out of control and think, "What do we need to do to re-focus?". Often this is the moment where I realize that it is snack time, or that someone needs to go to the bathroom. It might be time to go outside for a while or, in bad weather, pull out the legos or go throw balls in the basement. We might just need a break and a drink, or it might be time to declare it quiet time, and enforce our everyone-sit-on-the-couch-and-snuggle-under-a-blanket policy.

If I remember that I am setting the tone, I can anticipate some of my children's behaviors, and get them involved in something else before things get out of hand. At the very least, I can keep myself cool headed and focused so that I don't get caught in a power struggle.

In the past, when I could see that it was time for something new to happen, I would suggest a hundred things to my kids. "You should go outside or to your room or have a snack." or "You could play with stickers or get out your legos or play trains or . . . " This never seems to work when they are near the end of their rope. What does work is just getting out the sketchbooks and stickers and crayons and putting them on the table. Then re-focusing the children by taking them by the shoulder and leading them to their chair. Or pulling out the picnic blanket and laying it one the step and sitting down. Or putting them on separate ends of the couch and laying a blanket over them. Sometimes they take the blanket off and go get their legos, but the change in energy has still taken place.

This re-focusing comes from a reminder to myself. I am the adult. I know what they need, and it is my job to redirect them when they are unraveling.


My oldest boy is a very active little guy. He's 5. He loves to play hockey (goalie in particular) and Spiderman. As much as I try to convince him he doesn't have to slide on his knees, he does, a lot, particularily onto his right knee. As a result he has worn holes through the right knee of 5 pairs of pants in the past month. I am not, I repeat NOT, buying 5 new pairs of pants for him, but he still has some growing to do before he's into the next size. So what's a mom to do?

Then I remember a lovely invention called patches. Do they still sell these things? Sewing and ironing are not at all my domestic gifts. I managed to find a fabric store and sure enough there they were, iron on pants patches.

It's been a while since I'd ironed anything (I hate ironing).  So long that my 3 year old had no idea what the iron and ironing board were when I dug them out and dusted them off.

Attaching the patches were pretty easy actually.  Just press them on.  It would have been nice to have found some funky plaids but I would probably have to actually have a sewing machine and know how to use it to patch pants that way.

Clever Mamas is going Carbon Neutral

carbon neutral offers and shopping with
Clever Mamas was recently approached by a young team in Germany who are working to raise awareness of the impact of carbon emissions from internet use (specifically blogs) on the environment. To help counter this they will plant one tree for each blog that decides to join their program. If you are interested in participating click the link above this post.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Free Family Fun

We've recently moved to a large city. Moving to a big city opens up a lot of possibilities for a fun day out with the family, but also drains the budget quite quickly. My husband and I have been looking for creative ways to have family time that fits our family budget. One of the new discoveries (or rediscoveries as we both did this with our families as kids) is plane watching at the airport. No, you don't have to go in the airport and pay the rediculous parking fee. Really all you have to do is drive the perimeter of it and find out where the good runway spots are. Sound silly to you? There's actually a huge sub-culture of plane spotters out there. You'll find all sorts, from families like our own who like to imagine all the places these planes are going to or coming from, to the serious enthusiasts, complete with binoculars, fancy cameras and list of arrivals and departures in hand. Yesterday was a gorgeous day for plane watching and we weren't alone. Many, many families were out with their lawn chairs and cameras. Kids were playing soccer on the grassy field, stopping play to watch a 747 rush over their heads. We like to grab some subs and have a picnic as we watch and chat. The boys love it and each have their own favorite planes to look out for. They also like to keep tallies of the different airlines as they go past. Things to remember as you plane spot:
-The runways change patterns throughout the day. What may be a good plane watching spot one day, may not be at a different time of the day
-Look out for parking lots that don't mind you hanging out for a while.
-Make sure you are in a non-restricted area, outside of the airport - you'll be asked to move otherwise
-Protect little ears. Our boys like to stay in the car to avoid the noise. We also have ear-protective headphones that they could wear (easy to find in a hardware store)
It really is something else to see how big these planes are and how close you can safely get to them.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I listed all of our entries this morning and then used the true random number generator at to draw.
The first number drawn was #9 - Andrea!
The second number drawn was #7 - Heidi!
Fortunately they each wanted opposite prizes so Andrea will be receiving the "Mama deserves a break" prize and Heidi will be receiving the "Expectant Mama" prize!
Congratulations ladies, we will be in touch to get your details to send your prizes out. Thank you to all who entered, cheers!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Ultimate Blog Party 2010
Welcome visitors from the 5 Minutes for Mom's Ultimate Blog Party 2010! We are a pair of blogging mamas here. We call ourselves 'clever' because we feel we have to be clever to parent our kids. No, we are not more clever than you, in fact we love hearing how clever you all are too :o). Clever Mamas has been up and blogging for a year now (and you've stumbled upon us during our 1st birthday celebration, complete with giveaway that you can read about here. Jill and I (Kris) are 2 good friends who happen to live in different parts of the country. This wasn't always the case. We've found this blog to be a great place to be moms together. I look forward to visiting other mama blogs this week. Cheers!

There are lots of wonderful prizes this year at the Ultimate Blog Party, if I were to win I would prefer in order (all from the USC list): 22, 5, 6, 4, 12, 28, 23, 53, 63, 25, 8, 37, 36, 40, 44, 18 - but any prize would be a lovely treat :o)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Giveaway Alert - clarification *oops*

Like all good parents I can admit when I've made a mistake. Apparently, my writing about our giveaway wasn't very clear so...I'm sorry.
Here's what we're giving away:

-An 'Expectant Mama Package', tailored for you by Jill with a prenatal yoga DVD and homemade baby rattle. She's so ahead of me by posting a picture, (see the original post)


-A 'Mama deserves a break' package tailored by me, with a magazine, bubble bath and good chocolate (sorry no picture because Jill is more organized than me)

To enter (each of the following ways will earn you one entry making a grand total of 3 entries if you do all three) :

-leave a comment in our comments section (either on this post or the original celebration post) with your email address, let us know which package you'd like best

-be a follower of Clever Mamas and let us know in the comments

-link our contest in your blog and let us know in the comments

*make sure you leave us your email so we have a way to get in touch with you should you win :o)

Sorry if I wasn't clear the first time round about the 'let us know everything in the comment part of things'...we've noticed some new followers and will be entering them in the draw (which is what tipped us off)...this is our first giveaway, so we have some tweaking to do.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Clever Mamas! We're celebrating with a give-away!

Clever Mamas turns 1 today! Time to sit back, reflect and celebrate! When Jill and I first started out on this blogging adventure, it was done so to give us an outlet to reflect on what we have learned as 'moms'. We didn't name ourselves Clever Mamas because we think that we are more clever than anyone else...not at all. We believe that all moms have to be clever in order to survive. We've learned as we go and we still stumble along the way. We blog in spurts because let's face it, parenting is a busy time. When we first started this blog we were both moms of 2 boys, we've both added daughters to the mix as the year went on. (It's an odd phenomenon that we both have given birth 3 times, within a couple months of each other). Our combined children are now 5, 5, 3, 3, almost 5 months and almost 3 months old. We blog on what we know which is why we rarely write about children older than our own. We love hearing from you! We know that all moms have great ideas and have found things that work for them, so thank you all for your advice that you've given us when we've asked for it. We'd love to know what is on your minds as parents. Are there any topics you'd like to hear our take on? We like being challenged and knowing what is on your mind as well.

Now, onto the contest! Well, since we are a partnership of mama bloggers we are having a double give-away.
Jill is offering a 'expectant mama package'

She has a pre-natal excersise DVD as well as a Jill-made baby rattle in the package. Jill is a very creative quilter/sewer. I am fortunate to have 2 Jill quilts and 1 frog beanbag toy in my home. You can check out many of her creations on her personal blog found here.
I am not as crafty a person as Jill so there is nothing Kris-made in my package.

I am offering a 'mama deserves a break package' complete with a magazine, bath bubbles, and good chocolate (not the cheap kind we give our kids, so hide it from them) .

How do you enter? You can earn yourselves multiple entries.
  • First: make a comment (and tell us which package you'd prefer).
  • Second: be a follower of Clever Mamas.
  • Third: Blog about our little contest on your own blog and link it back to this post (put your link back in your comment to so we can find it - we will be checking).

Make sure you let us know all the ways you are entering, earning up to 3 entrires for yourself. Don't forget to include your email address when you enter so we can get a hold of you should you win. You don't have to be a parent to enter, you can enter with the idea of gifting someone you know in mind. You don't have to be a blogger to enter either. The give-away runs until Friday, April 9th, midnight EST. Winners will be announced on Saturday! Thank you for reading!



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