Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mommy Moment's Birthday Bash

Many of you have given us great feedback for our blog template.  We got it from Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates.  I love her designs.  I use them for all of my blogs.  Lena, the designer also blogs at Mommy Moment.  They are celebrating their Birthday Bash over there.  As part of the celebration, Lena is offering a custom template giveaway!  I would love to win this prize, I'm sure any of you bloggers out there would too!  Check it out here!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


A friend of mine is having a baby today, like right now.  In fact I can also tell you that she's 5 cm and they will be breaking her water soon.  How do I know all this?  Her husband keeps updating us on Twitter which feeds into Facebook. 
I received some other good news today, a great friend of mine got engaged last night.  How do I know this?  She called me this morning to let me know. 
This got me thinking about the age we live in and how we share information.  How do you share stuff?  Maybe I'm letting my generation show a bit, but I don't tweet.  I do update my Facebook. 
And how much do you share?  Are you like my cousin who always has an amusing joke on your updates?  Or, does everyone know what's happening with your kids because of yours?
I'm one of those that share things like my son's hockey scores or my 3 year old's anectodes.   But I know everyone on my Facebook in real life.  I have high security settings. 
My friend who is letting us know his wife's labouring progress has a big twitter following.  He doesn't know everyone personally on his list.  He's also about 10 years younger than me.  Is it a generation thing?  Do those younger than me just not think twice about that sort of thing?
My friend who called me this morning to share her news had yet to make the big Facebook announcement, she wanted to tell everyone that was important to her herself.  She's just a couple of years younger than me. 
I know this isn't as much of a parenting topic as usual, but it does have me wondering about the generation of kids we are raising.  What is life going to be like for them?  How much information should be going out online?  How much should we be sharing about our kids and our lives online?  I don't have any solid answers, but I know what I'm comfortable with.  How about you?

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Perfect Sippy Cup

 "My blessings are in front of me
It's not about the land
I'll never beat the view
From my front porch looking in

There's a carrot top who can barely walk
With a sippy cup of milk
A little blue eyed blonde with shoes on wrong
'Cause she likes to dress herself
And the most beautiful girl holding both of them
And the view I love the most
Is my front porch looking in, yeah"

-My Front Porch Looking In by Lonestar

I love this song and I laugh a little because I'm already thinking of how Jill is going to roll her eyes reading this post.  She is not a country music fan, at all.  I am.  I love the imagery of this song as it captures a special time in the singer's life.  You can see it can't you?  The little guy toddling around with his sippy cup?

The is my 3rd go round with a toddler clutching a sippy cup.  We've had many different kinds in our house over the years.  Some great, some useless.  Here's my take on some of the sippy cups that are out there, including my new personal favorite, dare I say it?  I've found the perfect sippy cup!

This was the first kind we ever had.  It is the Nuby gripper.  I liked it when we first had it.  We used it when my first son was about 4 months old.  What I liked about it was that even if he chewed on it he was getting water out of it.  This issue we ended up with was that it easily began to leak.  Every time he would shake it he could get water out of it.

We moved on to the Playtex sipper.  I really liked this cup.  It was easy to use and easy to clean.  I liked how the handles on it were part of the lid.  It had one removable part inside to keep it from leaking.  We did have to buy replacement valves as the originals wore out and would come out if the cup was dropped hard.  Unfortunately, we had bought these cups before all the sippy cups with BPA were recalled and had to get rid of them.  They do sell these style again BPA free. 

These Gerber cups are another kind we used before the BPA recall.  I liked that their stoppers were one valve only.  They were easy for my kids to hold too.

After the BPA recall we bought all new sippy cups.  My husband's one request was that we get all of the same kind of cups.  That way you aren't fiddling around looking for the right stopper to match the cup.  Because we bought about 10 cups at once, I wanted to find something that was cost effective.  These Nuby cups were great.  We used these until all of them were lost or broken.  I honestly thought these were the last of the sippy cups.

Until we got these.  These we picked up on the fly.  I went grocery shopping with my kids and forgot to bring snacks and drinks along.  I had picked up a chocolate milk to share and bought these cups to that they could share them and I could get through the shop.  These are the Gerber tossables.  They worked great for what we used them for.  We kept these in the car for the unexpected times of sippy cup needs.  I wouldn't buy them for every day.  They don't have a stopper so they do spill easily.  They are better for the older toddler or pre-schooler to use for that reason.

A lot of parents rave about these straw type of sippy cups.  I was given one as a shower gift for my second son.  Maybe it's just me, but I didn't get it.  I didn't love it.  My son found it frustrating, so we moved on.

These cups were another gift to us.  I was really hesitant about buying them myself.  They are from the First Years.  At first I thought they looked to fragile for toddlers or preschoolers to use.  I thought the top would come off if dropped.  So far I've been prooved wrong.  These aren't permanent cups.  They are made as 'tossables'.  We haven't tossed any yet, but they are showing their wear after a year of use.

Ahh the Avent Magic Cups.  I think my sippy cup drawer would be full of these if I could afford them.  My 2nd son has one that he has had a difficult time relinquishing to his baby sister.  We got the first one on offer for free from Avent after the BPA recall.  We found a second just this past week at Toys R Us for an incredible discount (it wasn't in its packaging).  I love these cups.  I've never had a problem with them leaking.  My kids have found them easy to use.  The only thing stopping me on these are the price.  Like other Avent products these are not budget friendly.

I went back to Gerber with my daughter. I like the Gerber products being one valve cups.  They are sold in packages of 2 which is great.  This model is the Gerber Graduate Cup.  I haven't had any issues with leaking.  The handles make it easy for my daughter to use.  I do wish that the lids would thread onto the cup so that the sippy part is centered when the lid is on tight.  One of the ones we have the sipppy part lines up exactly with the handle when the lid is on tight.  I loosen it just slightly to make it easier for my daughter to drink from, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with this cup.

As promised, my version of the perfect sippy cup!  This is the NUK sippy cup (part of the Gerber family).  It has a soft spout which makes it easy for a learner to use.   There is no stopper, but so far, no leaks either.  The greatest part for me, is that the handle can be adjusted easily.  I love that.  It's also the clear favorite of my daughter.  She gravitates to this cup.  I would definitely buy this one again.

And for your enjoyment (or just to get Jill's goat) Here's Lonestar with Front Porch Looking In - Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Recipe for fun! - Play-doh, Bubbles, Goop and Slime

We are definitely at the house bound/spring fever stage of winter at our house. How about you? Here are a few recipes to get a little messy with your kids.

Kool-Aid Play Doh

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 packages flavored/colored Kool-Aid
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup boiling water

Mix together to soft consistency. Store in a zip lock bag.


2 cups warm water
1 cup liquid dishwashing soap
1/4 cup glycerin (you can get at a pharmacy)
1 tsp sugar

Mix together. Store in a container with a tight fitting lid


2 cups cornstarch
1 cup water

Gradually add the water to the cornstarch until the mixture goes from a solid to a runny consistency. This is one of our favorites to play with - it is both solid and liquid.


1 tsp borax
1 cup water
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white glue
food coloring as desired

Disolve 1 tsp borax into 1 cup water. Separately, mix 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup glue and a few drops of food coloring. Add the glue/water mix to the borax/water mix. Mix together (get your hands in there). This is a slippery slime that is a lot of fun to pull, stretch, and shape. Play with it on a surface that the food coloring can't stain (or you don't care if it does). Store in a zip lock bag in the fridge.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Celebrating Valentine's Day with Kids

Happy Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day is one of those 'holidays' that has a lot of different reactions in people. Some husbands resent it, paying a mark up price of roses and buying the mandatory card, all the while complaining that it is just another marketing ploy by card companies to get your money. "Isn't it enough that I love you all year round, why do we need a holiday to tell me when to love you?"
Single abhor it, marking it as yet another time of the year to point out their singleness. I celebrated many a Black Friday (or Monday) when I was single dressed in black with my other single friends.
For kids however, it's a fun day to enjoy with their family and friends. Teachers love themes and Valentine's Day is an easy one to use at school. Chances are you spent a bit of time this weekend making sure all those little cards got filled out for the big card exchange today. My 6 year old son even brought home a huge sheet of red paper and instructions about a Valentine's Day mailbox contest. This is what he came up with, I love his creativity!
So what kinds of things can you do to help make Valentine's Day a little bit special for your kids? Here's what I have planned for today. Nothing to be over the top, just a few little treats here and there.
Breakfast was the first treat. Using a couple of heart shaped cookie cutters, I made them little cream cheese and jam sandwiches with a side of hot chocolate.
Once my 6 year old is safely at school my 3 year old and I are going to start on some Valentine's sugar cookies. Here's my favorite recipe. Add a few sprinkles or some cookie icing if you want too, but plain taste great too.
It is from Mrs. Field's Best Cookie Book Ever.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 325*. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt with a whisk, set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the egg and vanilla, beat until well mixed. Add the flour mixture, Blend on a low speed just until combined, don't overmix. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten the ball into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour until firm.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into fun shapes. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Of course cards are a special part of the day too. Give a Valentine to your Valentine's. I've already received my Aurra Sing card from my 6 year old this morning. (If you have a 6 year old boy, you'll catch the Clone Wars reference there). On Friday I went to a card making workshop to make cards for my family. Today, I'll haul out the construction paper for my 3 year old to make a few for the family too.

Later at dinner, I'm adding a few little decorations to the table, heart confetti and Hershey's kisses add to the day. And we'll have strawberries and chocolate with our sugar cookies for tonight.

Some of you are very crafty so I have to share this little easy apron craft I found at Flexible Dreams. It is soooo cute! I'm looking forward to when my daughter is big enough for me to make one of these for her. I might not wait that long, I think I'll keep an eye out for a set to make one for my 4 year old niece in the meantime.
Take a look here

Happy Valentine's Day! I'd love to hear what little treats you've got going on for today!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reducing Toddler Frustration

Beck, one of our faithful readers, asked about screaming or shreiking. Mostly her little guy is screaming when he is put in his car seat or has something else he doesn't like happen to him. Beck wanted to know if this was something that needed to be curbed, or wether it would fade on its own over time.

Well, Beck, it all depends on the personality of your child. My oldest son still screams and shreiks when he is frustrated, but he started screaming with frustration when he was about 2 months old, so you would probably know already if Thomas had a really high level or frustration. We still haven't figured out how to make our son stop it, and we often dread when we have to set a boundary because we know "the scream" is coming.

In older babies and young toddlers, however, the scream is often due to a lack of words. Babies are old enough to know what they want and what they are feeling, but they have no words to tell you. So they shreik.

There are two things you can do to make things easier. First of all, build a routine around things like going into the car, going to bed, or ending an activity. He is getting old enough that he can start to remember the routine and know what is coming next. So when it is time to get into the car, talk about going into the car when you are putting his boots on, and make up a song or rhyme about buckling him into his seat. When it is time to stop playing, tell him that it is time to say "bye bye" to his toys. Wave with him to his toys, so he has a chance to get the idea in his head that it is time to change activities. This will help him to change gears a little easier, and hopefully stop some of the screaming.

The second thing you can do is say what you think he is feeling. With our second son, Aaron, this would almost always stop the scream. I would say, "Aaron is angry that he is in the car seat and he can't move around." He would look at me as if I finally understood what he was trying to say, and then he would move on with his day. Giving babies and toddlers the words they can't say themselves lets them know that you understand them. It also helps them to have the vocabulary they will need later to tell you they are hungry, tired, frustrated or sad. Then when they are older, hopefully they will be able to say that they are sad, rather than shreiking at you.

Hopefully these two little tips will help, and you guys can have more calm drives in the future. Hang in there, and if all else fails, pick up some earplugs or noise blocking headphones (Dave used to walk our screaming kids with his lawn mowing headphones on) to make your drives a little easier on yourself.

Keeping Young Toddlers Busy in Winter: Introduction

It is February, and I know that for most of us in Canada and the Northern United States this is a difficult month. Winter has already been here for two or three months, and we know there is at least another month or two until Spring. It is often the time of sub-zero temperatures (or -20 celcius), when it is really too cold to bundle little bodies up and take them outside to play. So the question arises, what do you do with your toddler all day long in the deepest, darkest days of winter?

Toddlers are busy, curious little people who have some pretty specific needs. They need to move and explored with their senses. They are into pouring, stirring, dumping, emptying and occasionally filling back up again. They love crashing, throwing and making noise. They need lots of touch and lots of repetition. The problem is that they are too big and curious to be happily carried around all day, but they are too small to play imaginativly by themselves for long periods of time.

If left to their own devices, a toddler will often be able to amuse themselves. But that amusement can come at a messy, aggrivating cost. Entire boxes of kleenex emptied out and ripped up around the house. All the books removed from the lower shelves of the bookshelves. Flour, cereal or something sticky spread all over the kitchen. Marker or crayon decorating the wall, the cupboards, the floor and the baby. When toddlers get bored, everyone suffers. They make messes, have meltdowns and become grumpy, difficult little people.

The thing is that this little person is trying to get their needs met. She is very much living inside of her body. And she is becoming aware of her ability to interact wiht the world around her. No longer content to just watch and learn through seeing, toddlers want to learn by doing. In my inexpert experience as a parent, I would say there are three things that a toddler needs us to give them in the winter that they miss from staying inside a long: movement, sensory stimulation and interactive experiences.

Plastic lights-and-buzzers toy makers tell us that if we just buy the right toys, our toddlers will be happy, stimulated and smart. But toddlers need real life. For their brains and bodies to mature well they don't need educational videos and toys. All they truly need are tactile experiences and loving people. We can use common things around the house and a little creativity to keep our toddlers, and ourselves, happy in the winter. Stay tuned for suggestions on how to help toddlers meet their need for movement, interaction, imitation and sensory imput.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Toddler Alert!

Hello, everyone! Well, Emma, my baby, is almost 15 months, and she has definitely hit the toddler stage. Suddenly she is getting into everything, babbling about everything, routine bound, stubborn, opinionated, and dramatic. She dances and claps when she is happy. She cries and throws herself to the ground when she is sad. She runs across the house when Dad or big brother comes home to greet them.

I remember when my oldest son hit this stage, I was both amazed and bemused. Where did that helpless babe in arms go? Who was this little person that had just entered our world? And what was I supposed to do with him? This is my third time around the toddler adventure, and I feel a bit more well equipped to know what I am doing (it is so much easier to post about this than the 6 yr old stage, which is all new to me). So I thought I would share a little of what I have learned, and am being reminded of, right now.

I thought I would write a few posts about Toddlers, this month, as I know February and March can be a tough time to be stuck in the house with a toddler.

I think one of the hardest changes at this stage, if you have been following an attachment style of parenting, is beginning to say "no". After all, you have spent time training yourself to tune into your baby and listen to their wisdom about their body and needs. But now things are changing. Toddlers are still aware of their needs, and they will often try to tell you when they are hungry, wet, tired, or bored, but they are also moving into a stage of testing and exploring. They are looking for you to teach them what is safe, what is okay to play with, what they should and should not do and where they can and can not go. The trust you have been building up with your child to this point will help them to listen to you. But that trust must change. Your job will become not just need-fulfiller, but increasingly safety patrol, reffaree, boundary setter and redirector.

Parenting a toddler requires switching gears and parenting methods, while still maintaining an underlying foundation of love, trust and guidance. I am going to start by talking about keeping toddlers busy in the winter, since they are so full of energy and get pretty cooped up by this time of the year (especially if they are old enough that they have been exploring the house since November).

While I start there, if you are new to parenting this age group, what questions do you have about toddlers? If you've been-there-done-that, what do you think are some of the most important things to remember while parenting a toddler?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

When Mama reaches her boiling point...

My dear sweet daughter has been cutting teeth. Her sleeping pattern has gone off, waking at all hours and up early. She's not napping well either. She is fine, sweet as pie as normal, but mama...well, quite frankly it's caught up with me and I'm exhausted. Usually, I can catch up with a nap when she does a lot of night waking, but this weekend there was no napping.
I knew I was getting to my breaking point. So how did I handle it?
First, I let my husband know where I was at. I think that is so important. Communicating what is going on helps release some of that anxiety. It also gets me some help. He told me he would take over the bedtime routine with our boys. Great! Now all I had to worry about was getting our daughter down for the night. She went down pretty easy.
My husband suggested I go to bed early. As tired as I was, I knew what I really needed was a little me time. So I took advantage. I picked up a book and ran a hot bath. I could feel the stress just start to melt away. After my bath, I headed down for a little mindless TV. The combination worked for me. I feel so much better now.
Often as parents we get so caught up in going, going, going that we can forget to slow down. When you don't take any down time, that's when you enter the danger zone in parenting. I know I don't want to explode on my children, or my husband, or myself. It's up to me to recognize where I'm at and what I can and cannot handle. That's why the first step I took was so important, telling someone else and asking for help. The next part, spoiling myself a little is important too. So much of my time is spent giving out to my family that I don't take for myself very often. I've learned that I have to get a little me alone time in to re-energize myself.
Now if you will all excuse me, I'm headed off to bed. Hopefully, little miss will sleep a little better tonight.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day!

I know I'm a great one for the day after you need it ideas!  But of course yesterday was a snow day around here, and most other parts of the US and Canada.  It's the first snow day school day off this year for my son this year and he was ecstatic!  I thought I would make it the best possible snow day that a kid would want to enjoy.  Here's what we did.
I let him (and his 3 year old brother) stay in their PJ's and watch the Family Channel for most of the morning.  This is a huge treat for my 6 year old.  He normally doesn't watch TV during the week and has a time limit on weekends (unless we are watching a movie).  We built a big living room fort using chairs, blankets and pillows.  They brought in a few of their favorite stuffed animals too.

Once they were dressed for the day, we got out the mini-sticks and had a bit of hallway hockey on the go.  They love this. It's one of their favorite things to do.  (the great thing with their mini-sticks is that they use foam pucks - their baby sister likes to chew on them while they play)

For lunch as a treat, I let them eat in their fort.  We're pretty strict about keeping food at the table around here, so they really enjoyed this.  They loved it even more when I made them a big bowl of popcorn to share too.  We popped popcorn and drank hot chocolate for our afternoon movie, Mary Poppins.  This was the first time I've showed this movie to my kids.  It was a bit long for my 3 year old, but they both laughed hysterically at Bert's antics and Mary Poppin's magic.  My 6 year old loved it. 

Once the movie was over, the wicked wind had stopped, so I bundled them up and sent them out to enjoy the fresh snow.  There is so much to do in a pile of fresh snow.  They started making a snow fort, but then got distracted to become archaeologists searching for long, lost treasure.  They finished it up with a small snowball fight before coming in.
Once they were in, I pulled out the fun foam masks I had left over from E's birthday last summer.  They decorated them and a few strips for wristbands and became superheroes taking over my house.
After they were superheroes, they decided to become wrestlers.  It was about this time I approached my husband and suggested that maybe since the snow had died down he could take them out for a car ride and pick up some supper. A much nicer alternative to the brother violence I could foresee happening.  So that's what they did.  They went on a burger run while I made fries at home and tidied up a bit. 

Once home, we had our burgers, got the kids into jammies and brought out their story books.  They happily settled into their beds that night, tuckered out and dreaming of another snow day.



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