Friday, July 30, 2010

Balloon Pinatas

My son just celebrated his 6th birthday. He really wanted to have a pinata at his party. But, I just didn't have the time to make one and couldn't find one that matched his Super Hero theme in the stores. Then I started thinking, isn't there a way to fill balloons with candy? There must be. Here's what I did:

First - I cut off the top of a plastic bottle

Then I put the balloon opening over the top of the bottle top (this works best if you get the whole neck of the balloon around the bottle top top)

 I blew into the balloon a few times to stretch the balloon out, then I began stuffing treats inside (*side note - lollipops didn't fit, make sure you buy candy that can go through your bottle top, I put some stickers in too)

Once your candy is in, carefully remove the balloon neck from the bottle top (I did break one which was annoying, but only one).  Shake the balloon, then blow it up and tie it (*additional side note - if you are going to be using balloons for a party do yourself a favor and buy a balloon pump at the dollar store, it's worth it!)

The kids had a blast with this.  They sat on them and stomped on them to get their treats.  I had name labeled treat bags ready for their candy.  I loved that every kid who came got to play and all at once so that they were all busy, no waiting time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Living Stories Blogtour and Giveaway!

Clever Mamas was recently approached to try out a new iPhone app called My Living Stories.  I do admit that my kids love to use my iPhone for games and activities and I search out apps that I know they would enjoy and that I would want them playing.   My 5 (almost 6) year old loves to play air hockey and my 3 year old quite enjoys the hungry crocodiles. 
I had a look at My Living Stories this weekend and chose 3 for my kids.  Today we got to sit down together and try it out.  My Living Stories tells a familiar story in either French or English.  You can chose for the words to be read, or your reading child can read it on his own.  The story also has the option to record.  I really liked this feature.  We used it two ways.  One, I recorded the story for my kids to listen along with.  Two, my 5 year old recorded his own voice reading the story to listen along to.  He thought that was pretty cool.
I think this app would come in handy when we are out on the road.  Already, my husband and I have used a 'record' feature on our iPhones, recording a few of their favorite story books so that they can listen to their favorite stories while we are driving.  This app is similar in that way with the added bonus of the music, sound effects and animation.
The following stories are currently available for download at iTunes:

You can have the chance to win a $25 gift card for iTunes courtesy of Mom Central just by letting us know which story you would most likely choose for your child.  We picked King Midas, Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood.  Leave a comment in our comments section before August 6th telling us which story you would choose and your contact information and you are entered.  This contest is open to Canadians only (sorry my international friends).  You may see this contest on a few other blogs.  You are welcome to enter on all blogs you find it, but Mom Central will only give you the prize one time.

*Disclosure - I am participating in the My Living Stories program by Mom Central on behalf of Decode Entertainment. I received 3 free apps and a gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our First Award!

We are quite flattered as one of my (Kris) favorite blogs, Blue Cotton Memory has given us our first blogging award.  It is the Versatile Blogger Award.  We'd like to say thanks and pass it along.

The Rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!
4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

7 things about Jill
1. I find small children incredibly frustrating
2. I am a born storyteller
3. I drink tea first, then coffee in the mornings.
4. I love Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
5. I've always been terrified of having a daughter, but so far I love having one.
6. I always underestimate the amount of time things will take, consequently
7. I'm frequently late. 

7 things about Kris
1. I'm not nearly as organized as most people believe me to be (my husband will attest to that)
2. Even though I always wanted to have 4 kids, I've known since I was a little girl that I would have  two boys and a girl (and that's what I do have)
3. I enjoy Dylan Moran's stand-up, my favorite quote from him is:  ''you end up sitting in front of the television watching these programmes eating bread from the bag... dipping it in anything runnier than bread'' - he's funny, look him up on YouTube sometime
4. My dad always said I would be a teacher when I grew up, I fought that idea for a long time, but then I fell in love with it
5. I have lived on both sides of Canada and somewhere in the middle
6. If I could invent something fantastic it would be a working teleporter
7. Nothing says comfort quite like a good cup of tea

15 blogs we love
I know that the award said 'new to us', but some of these we've been reading for a little too long to be 'new'

If you haven't visited any of these blogs before, take a look, they are always enjoyable to read.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Does your Lego look like our Lego?

Our boys got Lego the best way possible, it was passed down to them from an older cousin who had out grown it.  He gave it to them for Christmas this past year.  They have a large Rubbermaid tub-full.  It's quite wonderful really.  They have been pretty creative with it and will build things for hours at a time.  Lately, however, my oldest son wants to build specific things.  Things like an X-Wing fighter or an AT-AT.  I don't know that we have the actual X-Wing Lego set in our big pile (I'm pretty sure we don't) and I'm not creative enough with it to make one up (I was the typical girl who played with Lego and built houses when I was a kid) so I looked it up.  Sure enough kind Lego geeks out there have made how-to build with Lego videos (check it out on You Tube).  I like the videos over the just word instructions as I'm pretty visual and like seeing that I'm doing the right thing.  One thing I've learned is not to be picky in terms of color of pieces and to adapt the design a bit when I can't find the exact piece I'm looking for.  My eyes go a big buggy sorting through it all.   It's a lot of fun really and a great way to spend time with my boys.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Letting Ilnesses Run Their Course vs Seeing the Doctor

So, we're all pretty yukky and run down around here these days. I had to go on a quick trip last week, and my husband was away part of the time I was gone, and has been away for an additional week. This has meant the kids have been tired and disoriented all week. On top of this, both boys had colds when I left them (I took the baby with me), and when I returned, the colds had settled in. I met two sick looking boys at the airport, one with an eye and nose oozing yellow yuk and a low grade fever.

As the more crunchy one around here, I do tend to try and let the boys' illnesses run their course without too much medicinal intervention. If their fevers are low, and they are able to play quietly or sleep without disruption, I let the fever run its course and fight the infection. If steam, warm baths, tea, and extra rest on the couch for a few days seem to be bringing things around, then that is what we do.

In this case, I decided to give Aaron some antibiotic eye drops. These helped to clear up the yuk in his eyes, and along with some fever medication, had him up and running around in a few days time. I was feeling pretty satisfied that we had beat the cold.

But then yesterday he started to cough this deep, raspy cough. This morning, he seemed okay, so I delayed calling the doctor again. But this afternoon he actually came inside from playing and asked to sit on the couch and rest, about two hours after waking up from an early afternoon nap. Usually if he's napped in the afternoon it is a struggle to get him to sleep by 9, but tonight he was asleep at about 7:30. So tomorrow morning, its off to the doctors.

I am a little paranoid about antibiotics and super bugs. I also live in Canada, which means free health care, and problems with people clogging up the tight supply of doctors by visiting the doctor every time they have the slightest virus.

But I think I need to just bite the bullet and realize Aaron's cold is not going to get better on its own. So either I let him hack and cough and possibly end up in the hospital in a week or so, or I get him to the doctor to get him something to knock the bacteria on its heels and get him better fast.

When I put it that way, I guess it really is time to see the doctor.

How long do you wait when you child is ill before you go to the doctor's office?

Adventures in Babyfood

My 6 month old daughter has recently started eating solids.  And I have a confession to make, my first 2 children ate commercially made baby food.  I know, it's so not crunchy granola mama of me (but remember I'm the one who uses disposable diapers, Jill's the one who uses cloth).  Now that this is my 3rd baby, I've decided to go a different route.  I know it's easy to do, I've just never done it much before...I'm going to make my own baby food.  As much as possible I want to avoid anything that jacks up the price of something edible just because it has the word "baby" on the jar.  Am I going to be 100%?  Probably not.  I have no idea how to make baby cereal other than what is in the store, but the other stuff looks pretty easy.  The first foods that she has had have been.  Take bananas.  I already buy bananas for the rest of us.  How difficult is it to break off a piece and mash it with a fork until smooth?  Not very, and she loves it.  Okay, maybe that isn't the best example because pre-mashed banana is one thing I've never bought in a jar for my kids.  But how about applesauce?  I always have a jar of organic applesauce in the house, it's much the same as what is in the baby food aisle, but without the high price tag.  I also make a great applesauce that my kids love and I'm sure she will love too.
So then I tried my hand at basic veggies.  Peas and carrots.  Pretty easy, boil them and puree them.  I have a hand blender, it works like a charm.   Peas can be pureed with the a little bit of the water you cooked them in.  With carrots you have to watch out for nitrates, so discard the water (add a little fresh water if you need help getting the puree smooth).  Those veggies are now freezing in ice cube trays as I type, ready to be popped into airtight ziplock bags tomorrow.
I'm looking forward to the food possibilities that I can make on my own: squash, green beans, avacado, peaches...The world of fruit and veggies looks pretty good right now.  I don't know why I thought this was a lot of work.  It's a little later on when I try my hand at meats that I'm wondering about.  How finely do they puree?  Any tricks and tips out there?
One interesting side note is that of my picky 3 year old eater.  He surprised the heck out of me when he asked for a chunk of banana yesterday, and then actually ate it.  Remember this is the child that refuses all fruit and veggies in their natural form and I usually end up hiding in something for him.  I'm wondering if the sibling jealousy of watching his baby sister get attention over eating food is getting to him?  I'm kinda hoping the answer is yes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yes, i'm travelling with my baby - a Mama rant

We just got back from a two week vacation visiting relatives and friends on the other side of the country.  To get there we take 2 planes, and of course 2 planes to get home.  Usually the airline we fly (Westjet) does its best to fly families with small children close together.  And that held true on 3 of the 4 flights.  But on the 4th flight we were the only family flying with a baby.  My husband sat on one side with the 2 boys and I was on the aisle of the other with my baby girl in my lap.  As the other passengers were boarding I could see the fear in the eyes as they approached.  The look that said, "Please, don't let me be sitting next to that baby!" 
The first girl who was in the same section of seats was visibly pissed off that she was the chosen one.  The second girl (the one next to me) appeared to like kids and started cooing at our little darling.  Once the plane was filled, the flight attendant came up to the one in the middle (the one who likes kids) and offered to move her so that I could use the extra seat for baby room.  (Good on ya Westjet!).  It did piss off the other girl even more.  She clearly had the look of, "why couldn't I be moved?" on her face.  It got even worse when the gentleman in front of her fully reclined his seat and proceeded to fall asleep.
There are 2 ways of looking at this situation.  One, feel badly for the girl who didn't ask to sit next to a baby (who slept most of the flight BTW).  Or two, feel badly for the mother flying with the baby who didn't ask to be seated next to someone who clearly doesn't like small children.    Babies travel too.  And yes they cry on the plane.  They don't like being cooped up for hours at a time.  They don't understand why they have to stay in Mom's arms for that long.  They don't know about flight pressure on their ears.  They really don't like announcements waking them up just as they are drifting off to sleep.  They would rather be exploring.  They would rather play.  They'd rather have a smile back at them instead of a scowl.  And trust me, when my baby is crying on board, I know how terribly annoying that can be for you.  And yes, I'm doing everything I can to get her to settle and be happy!



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