Monday, 30 December 2013

Sing Me To Sleep

In the early days with Molly and Jack, around months 3-9, we had a regular weekday routine.  In the morning I'd feed them, give them a bath, we'd enjoy a walk if the weather was nice enough, go home for some more food and tummy time and then I'd put them into their baby swings in the kitchen and listen to music while I tidied up and they watched.  One of the most frequently used CDs in this morning routine was an indie lullaby album that Chris bought for me after the kids were born called Sing Me to Sleep.  This morning routine was one of the many things that helped keep me somewhat sane during one of the more challenging phases of parenthood I have faced so far.

Fast forward a year and a half.  Chris was attempting to better secure the fish tank pump cord  to an extension cord and decided that it was time to pull the fridge all the way out and give it a good spring clean.  While he worked he discovered a set of Josten's school photo proofs for one of the children who lived in our house before we bought it, a fluorescent orange golf ball that is bedazzled with duct tape and tiny jewels that neither of us recognized, a toy car with Gremlin's Gizmo behind the steering wheel and the Sing Me to Sleep lullaby CD that had been long forgotten.

We chastised ourselves a little for being such poor housekeepers, gave Jack the golf ball to play with* and I cleaned off the CD and put it in the player to see what would happen.  As the soft voice of Amy Millan filled our living room something strange happened.  Our active, always busy toddlers stopped what they were doing, walked over to the table where the CD player was and stood, silently and intently listening to something that was familiar, but they hadn't heard in a long, long time.   They remembered.  I couldn't believe it.

I often wonder what Molly and Jack will remember about their childhood, particularly from when they were very small.  For now one of those memories is the soft music from this album and a routine that has been gone for over half their lives.  I will try to keep better track of this CD and bring it out for moments of quiet with the kids.  I have to wonder how long will they remember this for and what treasures lurk behind other appliances in our house.

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*It was a big hit.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Long December

I thought I'd share some photo highlights of our past few days...

 Watching Papa grab gifts from the car on Christmas Eve.

 Frosty the Ice Cream Cake

 After a 3 day fight over peach bunny...suddenly he went missing.  Where could he be?  I think he must be hibernating.

 Opening presents after a breakfast of clementines, coffee cake and pickles.  Pickles were Jack's request.

Three days nap free means cranky Molly and Jack and mom and dad, but it also means they slept in until 9:40am this morning.

I hope you all are enjoying a little extra family time with your loved ones this late December as much as we are!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Ice Ice Baby

As the Ice Storm of 2013 has descended upon Toronto, I feel lucky.  We didn't lose power, we stayed warm, we were able to connect with our loved ones and make sure that they were okay.  Our neighbours, friends and family helped each other and despite the cold, the spirit of Toronto seems more Christmasy than usual.

I thought I'd share, on Christmas Eve, some Christmas Day traditions past, present and future and wish everyone a warm, safe and happy holiday!

The Christmas Goose
My in-laws owned this giant metal goose that they would put out by their fire place as part of their Christmas display.  For some reason, unknown to all of us, the goose has a secret compartment that opens with a little metal trap door.   Perhaps so you can stuff it for Goose-tur-ducken?  For as long as I've been around my husband, Chris, made it his Christmas "duty" to hide the Christmas Goose or place it in unusual locations around his parents house, often giving the Goose a time-out against some random wall for "foul" play.*  A couple of years ago my mother-in-law gave us a beautifully wrapped gift which turned out to be the metal Christmas Goose.  We are still deliberating on what naughty behaviour the Christmas Goose will engage in this year, perhaps a visit to Mississauga or even embark on a chance to fly south for the rest of the winter.

What is he storing in there?
 That's a bad goose!

Coffee Cake for Breakfast
Growing up, my mom was a big fan of healthy breakfast, except for vacations and on Christmas when she'd let the rules slide a bit.  Each year, after stockings but before presents, we would indulge in a breakfast of coffee cake, orange juice, coffee and tea.  We will continue this tradition with Molly and Jack beginning this year.

A Family Activity on Christmas Day
This year we're going to watch a new kids movie DVD on Christmas afternoon.  In a couple of years we're hoping to go somewhere together for a family activity to one of the few places open on Christmas Day: bowling alleys and movie theatres.  I can't think of a better family activity to wear off some turkey malaise than a game or two of five pin or a Blockbuster movie and some popcorn.  For a number of years we would all head out Christmas Day to watch a movie from The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, a tradition enforced by my then 80 something year old grandmother.

Christmas Day is Games Day
My family is a big fan of games and we'll often play board games together on Christmas Day.  It's easy to make time for a fun classic, like Yatzee, or try out a new game someone got as a gift.  Yesterday I learned from a friend that her family sets up puzzles all around their house on Christmas Day and picks away at them while they eat, drink and be merry.

What are your some of your family's traditions on Christmas?

*Pun sort of intended.  Geese are in fact fowl, I looked it up.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Rock a Bye Baby

Christmas Eve has always been a bigger deal in my family than Christmas day.  Maybe it has something to do with anticipation, but many of my fondest Christmas memories are actually from Christmas Eve.

Here are some Christmas Eve traditions past & present I thought I'd share:

Christmas Eve Road Hockey Game
This started a number of years ago and has evolved into the annual In-laws vs. Outlaws street hockey game.  My father plays net and you have to circle back and cross a sewer grate to make sure the orange, hard as a rock ball is in fact in your own possession.  It's super violent and usually isn't over until my sister, brother or brother-in-law elbow someone in the eye and get into a "game related dispute".  It's usually my sister and my brother and it gets extra weird when they are on the same team, yet still fighting.  Last year it got so intense I may be joining my kids and the nieces for a less violent mini sticks version in the driveway, likely with 20% less crying.

Special Christmas Eve Dinner
We each used to pair up and then do a draw for courses for a grande meal preparation.  The dream team was always on appetizers and they wrapped everything in bacon or ensconced it in cheese.  After the grand-kids entered the picture we wanted to go simple, so now our grande meal is takeout Chinese. No fuss, no muss!

One Gift on Christmas Eve
As kids we were always allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve, it was usually pyjamas to ensure that we were appropriately stylish for photographs the next morning while we poured over all of our presents.  There was always one catch though, we'd need to complete a scavenger hunt created by my father before we were allowed to open our "select" gifts.

Scavenger Hunt
This was my father's ingenious way to have us wear off some hyperactivity on Christmas Eve, in hope that we wouldn't stay up all night  in anticipation of St. Nick.  Random written clues by my father, often targeted towards certain children so they'd be "age appropriate", led to other clues until finally, 8-20 clues later, we were allowed to open our select gifts.  We were most excited the year that my father wrote a clue in my mother's lipstick on a bathroom mirror.*  To provide an example of how my father's mind works, here's a clue from the 1990s: "Scary Rebecca".**  Nowadays clues are geared to us and our children.  Needless to say it can be a lengthy ordeal.

Twas the Night Before Christmas
My dad used to read it to us, now he reads it to our kids.

What are your favourite Christmas Eve Traditions?  Stay tuned for my Christmas Day list...

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*She was unthrilled to say the least.
**The answer, logically of course, is the baby cradle that was in the basement, because Rebecca De Mornay was "scary" in the movie The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Blinded By The Light

This post is quite literally being transcribed by Chris as I dictate it to him.  It all started Saturday night when Jack projectile vomited all over his crib while we had company.  I bathed Jack while Chris stripped the sheets, got out clean pyjamas, and began to launder Jack's collection of now soiled stuffed bears.  Sunday, we were housebound with a snowstorm and two kids with the runs, but the wheels really fell off after nap time.  Chris was changing Molly on the change table while I dressed Jack on the floor of the nursery.  Jack caught a glimpse of a laundry basket full of clean bears, got really excited, yelled "Bears!" and thrust his finger outward to point at them.  The only issue was that my face, mainly my eye, was in the path of his finger.  I dropped to the floor screaming and writhing in pain.  Chris asked me to leave the room because I was scaring the children and, after I got over the initial shock, we tried to move on with our evening.  The next day, my eye was completely swollen shut, watering profusely and it felt as though a thousand tiny knives were stabbing my eye socket.  After a referral from the doctor, I was sent to Emergency where under their special blue light they determined that there was a scratch on my cornea in the perfect shape of a toddler's fingernail.  For the past two days I've been stumbling around the house while Molly repeats "Mama hurt" as I lay an ice pack over my eye.  I am finally able to open my eye a bit this evening.  Tomorrow I will go to work with an eye-patch and sunglasses on, so if you think you see a cool-guy pirate on the subway, don't be alarmed.  It's just me with yet another toddler induced injury.

Chris and I had a bet as to who would get injured sufficiently to send us to the Emergency room first.  I said Molly, he said Jack.  We were both wrong and I got the prize.

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Friday, 13 December 2013

Brass Monkey

I want to start off by saying that I don't have a sponsorship deal with IKEA, but I really like the store.*  From their "easy to put together items" to the endless sea of  couples fighting over which shelving unit to buy in the show room and market place, to the child's play area or the complimentary diapers available in their washrooms **: I think it's tops.

Last week I went to IKEA and I ended up finding some great deals on some holiday gifts that I thought I'd share, all for under $13.00 Enjoy!

Gifts for Toddlers

 I paid $4.99 for this cute owl puppet for Molly - apparently this weekend it's on sale for only $2.49!

We got these two for Jack.  Perfect for acting out some of our favourite bed time stories (perfect compliment alongside Robert Munches classic The Paper Bag Princess, "HEY DRAGON!"$3.99 each.

Gifts for Older Kids

Remember your first IKEA couch?  It was cheap, yet stylish and made you feel like a grown-up.***  They now sell IKEA Dollhouse furniture sets in classic signature styles $12.99!  We bought this for my 9 year old niece as a part of her gift.

Know a kid who wants to play with some dolls or action figurines on the go?  Enter the portable dollhouse book, $3.99, we bought this for my 5 year old niece!

Need something to go with that IKEA wooden train set?  How about this awesome bridge?  Just $9.99, I'm itching to go back to IKEA and grabbing this for Jack.

This year Santa is Swedish for Common Sense!

To look at other ways to save money on your holiday shopping click here

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*IKEA if you want to offer me money to review products or create a fictional children's series about Darwin the Monkey I swear I'll fill my house with Poang chairs.
**But no wipes, what gives?
***Chris and I had our first IKEA couch destroyed by a house guest who who passed out and "over-stayed their welcome all over the couch", wish I was joking.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Pork Soda

It's been a while since I've posted some of the minions "artwork" and I feel that this is something share-worthy. We received a big pile of masterpieces a week or two ago when they transitioned the fall display into the Winter Wonderland that is currently gracing the walls of daycare.  Molly is onto our "game" of recycling a great deal of their artistry and yells, "My art, My art!" as she encourages us to oooh and ahhh over her creations.  To my family members and dear friends, if your gifts this Christmas include finger paintings from my children, please respond with an intense amount of adoration and we will never speak of it again.

Among the most recent items that came home is the creation below, care of Jack.   I believe that the children selected the foods that they would choose for a Thanksgiving feast if they were in charge of the meal.

Apparently Jack is one part Homer Simpson (donuts, ham, some sort of pie waffles and pork cutlets) and one part woodland creature (berries and mushrooms).

Much like their father, the children will be forbidden from unsupervised grocery shopping for at least a few more years.  Coming soon, I'll be posting emotional photos of fictional families from magazines that they've turned into collages.  Spoiler alert, these are being given to my brother, perhaps in frames, for Christmas.

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Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Every year from the end of November until mid-January our grocery cart contains a wooden crate filled with clementines.  On our first Christmas together Chris insisted on going out to the fruit market to get "Japanese Oranges".  I didn't know what he was talking about, told him that this wasn't a real thing and mocked him for inaccurately labelling fruit with a nationality. I don't call kiwi "New Zealand Green Fruit",  his retort; "What about Florida oranges?" Well played.   Then I brought this up with a couple of friends who were raised on the west coast and apparently I was wrong, this is a thing in BC and has been for 120 years: Japanese Mandarins.  Apparently these were a huge deal and a great Christmas gift, particularly in war times and the depression era, with the wooden crates being converted into sleds, shelves, doll beds and other useful items.

In our family the smell of peeled citrus fruit has replaced the cheap chocolate of dollar store advent calendars and this makes me happy.  If I can encourage even one holiday tradition that doesn't result in the onset of type two diabetes, I'll consider it a victory.

An attempt at a Christmas shot last year.

On a daily basis the minions will insist upon at least one "Japanese Orange" each.  Molly likes hers divided into halves, not segments, where she sucks out all of the juice like some sort of fruit vampire (Bunnicula anybody?), handing me back the husk of fruit proclaiming, "Here Mom, gross!" and then demanding more orange.  I've been informed by daycare that Jack can get so excited about whenever they have oranges that he tries to eat the peels.*

Last year I was a little sad that family allergies have prevented us from getting a real tree anymore.  Nothing beat the smell of a real pine tree in the house to tell me that it was December and Christmas was coming, until now.  I am so happy that sticky sweet fingers and the smell of oranges will remind me of the holidays with Chris, Molly and Jack. 

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*Extra fiber?

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Sound of Music

This weekend Chris and I had our first gift wrapping party after the minions went to bed.  And by wrapping party I mean Chris wrapped gifts while I wrote up labels, criticised the boxes he selected and drank cream soda while we watched The Other Guys on cable.

To get further into the festive spirit we have been cranking the holiday tunes daily.  Because of family rules we only listen to Christmas music from December 1-25th, so I really like to get my money's worth.

Worst Wrapping Job Ever!

Every year we look to increase our holiday music collection, but it's rare that we come across a complete gem!  Below are some of my favourites:

Indie(ish) Christmas Albums

Maybe This Christmas Tree - Compilation Album
This holiday treat from indie darlings from 2004 is my most played Christmas album.  It has the perfect blend of traditional songs and modern covers.  My favourites include a cover of Christmas for Cowboys by Jars of Clay and a melancholic version of Wonderful Christmas Time which can be sure to render the too many egg nog smoothies weepies in all of us.  The only song on this album I routinely skip is Lisa Loeb's cover of Jingle Bells because it's terrible.

Songs for Christmas - By Sufjan Stevens
I have been fighting with Sufjan since his self-indulgent concert of a couple of years ago that included a 27 minute auto tuned rendition of his song Impossible Soul.  This holiday album is so good that I've determined that I have to get over it and move on, I'm sure Sufjan was heartbroken.  Perfect for listening to while you sip morning coffee, or drink PBR ironically with your hipster friends.

Modern Party Classics

A Very Special Christmas 3 -Compilation Album
Proceeds from the sales support the Special Olympics.  This is a great album to put on and leave on.  A great mix of rock, light rap and pop(ish) country.  If I were to download just a few tunes from this album it would have to include: No Doubt's Oi to the World and Chris Cornell's haunting rendition of Ave Maria.  I also have a weird soft spot for Blue's Traveler's Christmas.

'Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets
A couple of years ago our friend dragged us to see EL Vez, the self proclaimed Mexican Elvis so we could celebrate Mexmas, I'm not joking.  This instrumental band opened for him and is a great instrumental option when you've had enough holiday cheese whiz but still want to feel a little nostalgic for everything red, white and green.

Classic Kid Albums I Grew Up With & Love

Merry Christmas Sesame Street
I can't even link to this one on Amazon it's so old, but it features songs and Muppet versions of classic holiday tunes and stories, Including a Bert and Ernie version of The Gift of the Maji involving a cigar box and Ernie's beloved rubber duckie.  If that doesn't have you longing for your childhood 1970's and early 1980's babies, Mr. Hooper is on this album.

A Christmas Together - John Denver & The Muppets
This is Chris's favourite holiday album and he was thrilled that we found it at Goodwill for $1.49 a couple of years ago.  A Muppet spin on all of your favourites.  Buyers beware, I was reading reviews on Amazon and apparently the most recent CD release is missing three of the classic songs.  You may do better searching thrift shops for this one.

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Friday, 6 December 2013

Silent Night

A while back we had Jack assessed for speech and language development and it was determined that he was a normal child who was a little slow to speak.  We were happy and we started to employ some of the tips and tricks we had learned to help encourage language and saw some slow but steady progress.  A couple of months passed and things started to falter: days went by without new words, he began to replace words he had already known with syllable sounds in place of the actual word.  He was getting frustrated and so were we.  Molly and other kids at daycare were belting out full sentences and we were lucky to get two words in a row out of Jack.  We never want to compare Jack to his sister or to other children, but he was falling behind, quickly and it was growing more apparent by the day.

We connected with our childcare providers, who have access to language and development assessment services that are covered by the city and one of the many benefits of licensed care within Toronto.  An independent assessor would come into the daycare and observe Jack "in his natural habitat"* several times, during different times of the day over several weeks, provide us transcripts of each observation and then eventually a recommendation report on suggested follow-up testing and/or learning plans.   

Part way through the assessment period our worker recommended that we record words that Jack says spontaneously and ones he repeats back after hearing.  So we did, when we remembered, in the evenings and weekends over a one week period.  Below is a sample of a three day period we observed on evenings.

Jack Spontaneous Words:
Box, Ping-Pong, Monkey, Bear, Pink Bear, Blue Bear, Temper, Open, Stuck, Beep Beep, Diaper, Powder, Balls, Coin, Bye, Time-out, Backpack, Coat, Shoes, Hat, Light, Necklace, Glasses, Fish, Cup, Cat, Coke, Pop, Thanks, Uh-oh, Bye, Banana, Apples, Tasty, in the box, Closed, Help, Molly, Jack, Bath, Delicious, Phone, Car, Truck, Mom, Dad, Nana, Poppa, Drew, No, Yes, Drums, This, Knock Knock, Milk, Cracker
Sings Ba Ba Black Sheep (disjointed), Sings Ring around the Rosie (disjointed)

Jack Repeated Words:
Hungry, Cookie, Bar (granola), bottle, pull, candle, juice, mushroom, elephant, soup, pasta, contacts, chicken, meat, brushes, broccoli, Katie, Erika, fork, doggy, treasure, potty

We noticed, happily, that in just a three day period Jack shared over 60 words (many more if you count the random lyrics of the songs he sings).  We also noted that over 57% of his repeated words were related to food!

On Wednesday I went in to get the results of Jack's assessment.  Once again they reported that he is a normal, sweet and social child who is slow to speak. He also participates in all aspects of his program at daycare well.  This sounded familiar, but there was more: he isn't picking up lower tones or sounds which could be as simple as cleaning his ears at the doctor, or could involve more testing.  He has trouble hearing in a room with a lot of noise and conflicting messaging, this could be a hearing issue or could be a focus issue on filtering messaging.  But what does this mean for us and Jack?

It means that next week his ears are getting checked (and likely flushed) by his doctor and then we'll see if we notice improvements.  It means more one on one sessions with Jack at daycare and home to help him get words and labels for things in his life.  It also means a referral to the waiting list for TPSLS so we can supplement the help from daycare if/when we need it.   It's going to be a lot of work and learning for all of us, but it is getting better and it's going to be worth it.  Chris and I can't wait to have a conversation with our little boy! 

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*I know I make it sound like Jane Goodall and the monkeys, but they really didn't describe it like that when they explained the assessment to Chris and I.  It's just if you spend enough time with toddlers you really can appreciate the jungle reference.  

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Much like Fiddler on the Roof's patriarch Tevye I am a huge fan of tradition.  The holiday season is always a wonderful time to create, hopefully, many great memories with your family.

Below are some of our pre-holiday traditions that I thought I'd share.  Some are ones Chris or I grew up with and others are ones that we've started over the past few years while we established our own little family.

Christmas Music
You are only allowed to play holiday music in our house between December 1st -25th.  Much like the McRib the limited time offer makes the festive tunes feel all the more special. 

Holiday Card Face-off
Chris and I have a competition each year to see who gets referenced first in the most Christmas cards (i.e. is the card addressed to Sara & Chris or Chris & Sara?)  Whomever gets mentioned first the most is declared grande champion and receives bragging rights for the year, although now that I proclaim this publicly I suspect a lot cards will be addressed to the children first, but we'll find a way to adapt the rules. 

Christmas Tree
The tree goes up on the first weekend of December, this was always the case in both Chris and my childhood home, so we decided to keep this one going.

1 Meaningful ornament Per Year
We select and name one "meaningful" ornament a year to reflect on the year that has just gone by.  Sometimes it arrives as a gift, other times we make something or go out bargain shopping post-Christmas to pick out something we really like.  Examples of meaningful ornaments are: the house key ornament from the year we bought our house or the two frogs on an engagement ring from the year we got married.

What are your favourite traditions to help you get into the festive spirit? 

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Monday, 2 December 2013

What's My Age Again?

Often times I'll get jealous about products for babies and I wish there was somewhere I could access these goods as an adult.  Then I think a little more about it and  I understand exactly why they don't offer the product to adults, because it's ridiculous.

Below are 5 items I often wish they offered for adults, but am secretly relieved that they don't and the reasons why:

1. Polar fleece lined jeans.  These are an amazing way to keep little bums and legs warm on a cold winter's day without the added bulk of snow pants.  When I'm standing at a street car stop on a gusty day and I feel like I'm being physically assaulted by Jack Frost, I long for these pants.  Although practically I know that for 90% of adults, wearing these pants would be a fashion no-no.  We would all look like we'd just had collagen injected into our thighs and rump implants, but we'd be warm. 

2. Snaps on your pants for ease of diaper changing/ bathroom.  I love these on my kids, especially now during toilet training.  I know they offer these to people larger than two feet tall, they're called tear-away pants but unless you are a semi-professional athlete, I recommend you proceed with caution when wearing these.  As a teenager who was on swim team, these were a Wednesday wardrobe staple, although as a common prank when you'd spot a friend in tear-aways, you'd pretend to tie your shoes beside them grab the bottom corner of their pants, pull and run as fast as you can.

3. Bodysuits with snaps at the bottom.  I hate when my shirt gets untucked as much as the next gal and I lived through the 1990's in all of it's spandex body suit glory, however after living through the wedding decade (aged 25-35) my tolerance for snaps, corsets, Spanxs and anything that makes going to the bathroom lengthier is highly unnecessary.  Unless there are professional photographers present, my shirt can come untucked and I'm not going to get upset, muffin top be damned!

4. Adjustable pant waists.  A lot of baby/children's clothes (jeans and trousers) have an elaborate button and elastic system which allow you to tighten and loosen the waist as often as you like. This is great because toddlers are shape shifters and clothing size can change by the day.  As an adult this would come in handy for big holiday meals, but would give new meaning to the phrase "mom jeans" and we're all better off that it doesn't exist.

5. Flannel sleepers or footie pajamas.  For a holiday photo these are cute in adult sizes in a novelty kind of way, but for everyday wear, a little less practical. As someone who changes into sweats (or yoga pants) and a t-shirt  the second I get in the door from work, wearing footie pjs would be taking it a little too far, even for me.  There is something about an adult in one piece pjs at 7pm on a random Tuesday night that says, "I give up".

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Friday, 29 November 2013

Grown Up Christmas List

Holidays can be stressful, duh.  This time of year I often pick-up a holiday themed book that will either help me work on a mental wrap up of my year or will act as a welcomed distraction from Jack trying to climb the Christmas tree as if it was his "Everest".

This year, while I was looking for my belly laugh I circled back to some of my favourites.  They make great "festive" reads, and also make good gifts.  Enjoy! 

Molly - Warrior Princess!

An Idiot Girl's Christmas - Laurie Notaro
Self-proclaimed ex-punk rocker nerd, Laurie Notaro, shares her holiday family shame in a series of essays about her family.  Learn what happens when you leave your (real) Christmas tree up well into summer.  I read it, loved it and then lent it to my mom who could somehow relate to having an odd-duck daughter, go figure.

The Stupidist Angel - Christopher Moore   
A seven year old boy is fairly certain he saw Santa hit in the head with a shovel and fears that he's dead.  Thankfully his prayers have been answered in the form of the Stupidist Angel, Archangel Raziel.  The more I think about this book, the more likely I am to re-read it again this year.  This is the first line, "Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe."  If that doesn't sell you, Molly may (or may not) be named after a crazed B movie actress featured in this book who hears voices and from time to time believes that she is, "The Warrior Babe of the Outland". 

For a story along the lines of Jesus meets Monty Python read Moore's Lamb - The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal and learn more about Jesus's missing years aged 13-32 featuring prostitutes, reanimated frogs and the first known Yummy Mummy - Mary.

The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog  - Jen Lancaster
If you feel like you've been spending too much time thinking about or trying to "keep up with the Joneses", read this book instead.  Jen tries to master everything Martha Stewart: from home decorating to holiday hosting, complete with her pack of dogs and rogue cats.  Highlights for me were kids jazzed up on sugar in an Easter Egg Hunt gone south and the quest for unholy underwear.

I fell in love with Jen years ago when I read Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office,  about a smart-ass executive's fall from grace and living it large as she plummets from her pent-house condo to the new normal.  In the beginning you love to hate Jen, by the end you just love her. 

 Any recommendations are encouraged!

 To see five of my favourite holiday movies to get you in the spirit click here

To check out more of my book recommendations from a previous post click here

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Thursday, 28 November 2013

These Boots Are Made for Walking

I'd like to say that we put off purchasing winter boots for Molly and Jack until the last minute because as a savvy shopper I'm trying to ensure that I got the correct size. Jack's feet grow like weeds or Pinocchio's nose when he's lying.  The truth is that it was the day before the first snow fall and I knew that daycare wouldn't be thrilled with a make shift solution of two pairs of thick socks and leg warmers crammed into Molly and Jack's rain boots, although I briefly entertained this option in pursuit of a little rest.

So like any good (desperate) parents we shuttled off to Walmart in that 45 minute window between dinner and bath time.  Molly and I went to the shoe department while Chris and Jack headed to the pharmacy.  After I explained to Molly what we were looking for, she got really excited.  She picked out a pair of pink and silver "moon boots" and tried them on.  Molly and the boots became fast friends and she refused to take them off, no matter what.  In favour of avoiding Battle Royale in the middle of the shoe department, I let it go. I tore off the plastic tabs connecting the two boots together so she could walk around the store, in peace, while I searched for Jack's boots. 

She paraded around the store calling out, "Look, ma Boots!  Molly's Boots!" and then did a little curtsy and kick of her leg for anyone who would pay attention.  Jack's boots were fitted and removed with out incident (although he insisted on wearing them on his hands all the way home).

We had to pick up Molly and shove her feet in the cashiers face so the boots could be scanned and paid for.  Although in retrospect I probably could have just torn off the price tag and handed it over.

The following morning I had to bury the boots in a bag and sneak them into daycare, so she wouldn't see them and insist on wearing them for picture day. Then yesterday evening we drove passed some girls crossing the street in boots that light up as you walked,  Molly was thrilled.  I guess I know what's on the shopping list the next time her feet grow.

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Monday, 25 November 2013

The Gift

It's officially a month until Christmas, check your calendar, take a deep breath, it's going to be okay.  Even if you have little children like we do, that Sears commercial boasting something to the effect of, "Even if they won't remember this Christmas, you will!" tugs at the heart strings of parents everywhere, even anti-consumer ones* in a way that makes you feel like a cheap louse for not showering your child in hundreds of dollars of crap that they don't need anyway.

Here are five ways to help save some money on gifts for your kids and provide some holiday memories that won't indebt you to Sears corporation for the duration of 2014!

1. Look into your rewards points: check out catalogues and what's available online.  If you don't see any items that meet your gift list, you can order some gift cards that will help pay for items or make great gifts for older kids on your list.  Be sure to order early as delivery can take 2-3 weeks.**

2. Buy gently used items.  From books to CDS and DVDs to toys, you can get some pre-loved items from local thrift stores, used book stores or sports equipment stores at a fraction of the cost.

3. Arrange for an annual "present trade" with parental friends and neighbours.  I purposefully don't remove price tags from items until my children are going to use them because you never know when the next growth spurt is coming. Because of this habit I have a gift drawer full of items that never fit Molly and Jack at the right season as well a few duplicate toys and books to re-gift.  Why not connect with some other parents and have a trading party to exchange items of similar value for something you can gift your own children this Christmas?

4.  Older kids can be given some memory based gifts rather than physical presents: swimming lessons, babysitting courses, indoor soccer league, dance lessons*** or a family trip to the museum, Lego Land or another pre-planned activity. 

5. Give the gift of giving back.  Get your kids to help you purchase a toy to donate to the less fortunate, have them clear their own toy box of things they've outgrown to gift to someone else, or help you select canned goods for your local food bank. 

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*Editors of Ad busters, I'm sure you can do something brilliant with this Sears commercial. 
**Two $25 Baby Gap gift cards are currently en route to my mailbox courtesy of my air miles points. 
***Note to Canadian parents, some physical activity programs qualify for a tax credit up to $500 per year, per child:

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Dog Days Are Over

It's getting to be that time of the year again.  The holiday tunes are blaring at almost every store you walk into and all you want to do is sit at home and curl up with a good book and cup of tea.  Or at least that's how I feel anyway.  This is one  reasons why a key piece to my gift shopping strategy involves books: either scouring the shelves of some local used book shops or ordering via Amazon from the comfort of my own home. 

Over the next couple of weeks I'll provide some book suggestions, that I think are great, for gifts or just general enjoyment for you and the little people in your lives.

Today's theme, one near and dear to my heart, books that celebrate the Underdog!

Stay Golden Ponyboy!

The Under-Puppy - Books for Babies and Toddlers

That Is NOT a Good Idea! by Moe Williems
Momma Goose meets a very hungry Mr. Fox and agrees to go to dinner with him, despite warnings from her chicks.  Will this dinner guest be the main course?  The repetition of the story and pictures has helped in encouraging Jack to talk.

I'd Really Like to Eat A Child by Sylviane Donnio
All crocodile Achilles wants to do is eat a child, but his parents keep serving him bananas.  What happens when he comes face to face with a real little girl?  Try reading it along with a crocodile puppet or plain old oven mit to emphasize Achilles's frustrations and get extra toddler giggles.

The Paper Training Years - Books for Kids a Little Older

Booky: A Trilogy by Bernice Therman Hunter
I fell in love with Booky when it was read to me at library story time in grade three.  Booky is based on the true story of Toronto's own Bernice Therman Hunter who grew up with her struggling family during the great depression. I re-read this book a few years ago and it held up wonderfully. Unfortunately it was destroyed by the great fish tank leak of 2007.*   I can't wait to read the entire series to Molly and Jack!

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Meet Peter Hatcher, big brother to supreme trouble maker Fudge.  This is the first of a five part series that saw me through the boredom of three bouts of a childhood stomach virus.

Big Dog Little Dog - The Tweenage Years

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
A classic about greaser Ponyboy Curtis and his friends after an unfortunate rumble with the other side of the track socs (socials).  This is the book I am most likely to talk about after a few glasses of wine at a party.

To check out more of my book recommendations from a previous post click here

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*Never store a 20 gallon fish tank anywhere near your favourite books.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Raspberry Beret (Barrette)

Long before Chris and I became parents we both emphatically agreed in our spawn's own right to embrace the unique zaniness of childhood.   We would not be embarrassed when they wanted to wear their Halloween costume to the mall.  We would not bat an eyelash when they insisted everything in their room be affixed with a giant unicorn sticker or when they decided that a giant long rat rail was "the new black".  In fact we would be present and supportive, smiling, nodding and taking as many pictures as we could for future family roastings and wedding speeches. 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure in supporting the whims of two tiny eccentrics and their journey towards individualism, sigh.  Give me a fork, because I am about to eat my words.

I am super supportive of project Unicorn*, unless it is a giant pain in the butt.

Back in the one hair clip days.

Molly has become obsessed with accessories, specifically hair clips and barrettes.  A few months ago in an attempt to keep hair out of her eyes, I secured the clip and made a comment about how pretty her hair looked.  I did this in the hope of preventing her from immediately removing said clip, ramming it into her brother's eyes and then choking on it.  She immediately pulled out the barrette and threw it on the floor, refusing to let it muster her beautiful locks.

Fast forward a few months.  Now that Molly's hair is long enough that there is no real functional reason to wear clips, she's obsessed.   In the mind's eye of toddler logic if one clip is "pretty", a dozen clips are transcendent and epically mythical.  Each morning I develop carpel tunnel when adorning what feels like hundreds of clips to Molly's ponytail and each night before bath time I need to wrestle out all of the clips that she hasn't managed to lose through-out the day while she does her best crazed honeybadger impression...repeat.

My sore hands are proof that I support you my tiny little girl child snowflake!

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*The acronym for Project Unicorn (which I just made up) Unique Needs In Children's Oddities, Respect and Nurture.  Patent pending...yes you are all unique snow flakes.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Sweet Dreams

For as long as I can remember I have been afraid of snakes.  I don't think afraid is really a strong enough word to express how I feel about them: irrationally terror-stricken seems more accurate.  Maybe it's the inner Eve in me, although I prefer to think that it's my Indiana Jones traits shining through, but it's there and I've felt this way since I was very small.

There is a photo of me, in my stroller, while on a family trip to Florida.  I'm about three years old and  my older sister E is holding a giant snake with this idiotically proud grin and I'm coiled in the corner quite possibly wetting myself.

As far as I know I wasn't terrorised by a family of snakes as a toddler and am now scared as a repressed result. My direct contact with snakes has been quite limited, mostly by choice, on hikes or now as an adult when I go to take a peak at a small garden snake to help face my fears and get over myself so I can set a good example for Molly and Jack.

The scariest moment between me and a snake was at Santa's Village in Northern Ontario. I was about eight years old and there was this display marked "Baby Rattlers". I backed away cautiously, but my father and sister thought it would be funny to force me closer. They started talking about facing your fears and how if I didn't do it now than I would always be afraid and picked me up and threw me directly in front of the display case. I fought, I screamed, I pleaded, begged and I cried. When I finally opened my eyes I discovered that I was face to face with a display case full of ornate baby rattles. They thought it was hilarious and in my mind high-fived each other the way that 1980's bullies are prone to do. I was furious and my sister and dad were in HUGE trouble from my mom for being such complete jerks.

As a child I was haunted by two recurring nightmares, one of them involved snakes. I would wake up, imagine snakes everywhere and freak out in my bed awakening everyone with blood-curdling screams. There were many sleepless nights. Eventually my mom found a solution. We were out at a craft fair and someone had made this giant wool snake that was about eight or ten feet long. My mom made a huge production about how this was truly the biggest snake she had ever seen. She then bought it for me "to protect me" at night because it was the biggest snake in the world.* And it quite possibly gave my parents significantly better sleep** over the next few months while I recovered from the Santa's Village Incident.

Molly has started to have nightmares, or so she says, but as Chris has pointed out she will pretty much say yes to any question if the mood strikes her. At this point she is easily calmed down with a cuddle, some milk and a back rub before going back to sleep. As a child who loves to be chased, startled and surprised, I can't imagine what is haunting her dreams. That we ran out of raisins? That her brother stole her owl backpack and refuses to give it back? I don't know. For now I'm happy to comfort her, cuddle her and make everything okay. I'm just crossing my fingers that she doesn't develop my fear of snakes and that I can find a giant stuffed whatever to protect her dreams for as long as I can.

*Thankfully there was no internet yet and the movie Anaconda was still several years away from hitting Jennifer Lopez's resume.
**A note to my father and sister: revenge is a dish best served cold....27 years later I have not forgotten.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Can't Touch This

Every once in a while I am forced to face the fact that I am partial to  a hippy life philosophy.*  I graduated from an alternative high school that has a manifesto, not a motto or a slogan.   I believe in activism, not slactivism, but I'm older now and am aware that sometimes my actions (or lack of actions) are a little further to the right than I'd like: I don't volunteer, but I donate, I don't protest, but I sign petitions, I own a car, but it's not a mini-van/SUV and I walk and ride public transit as my main forms of transportation. 

Quite literally the school sign.

I often joke about educating my children via the "school of hard knocks" and subscribe to a Darwinsm approach of learning in an attempt to avoid the whole helicopter/bubble wrapped toddler rearing experience.  We put up so many safe guards and barriers for our children in the hope of protecting them that we risk leaving them void of many important experiences, like human contact.  I come from a very warm, fuzzy, affectionate family.  I believe that cuddles and laughter are often the best medicine for a bruised knee or ego. 

Teachers are not allowed to touch their students any more, I get that. I don't entirely agree, but I understand.  What I don't get is this BC School that banned their kindergarten students from touching each other during recess in a "no-touch policy" that suggests reliance on "imagination games".  Are you kidding me?  Apparently they are going to gradually allow touching again, but for now it's off limits because of some violent play at school.  How about just teaching them about appropriate levels of contact?  Why doesn't the school help educate them along with their parents?  "Listen Billy, It's okay to hug your friend when they fall and scrape their knee because I can't hug them for fear of a lawsuit, but let's try to keep the games of Red Rover/British Bulldog** off of school property."

I have heard from a number of parents whose children haven't coped well in the transition from daycare/nanny/parental care to kindergarten.  Perhaps this comes from going from an environment with physical human contact to one where this is obsolete and forbidden.  Molly and Jack have started hugging each other, cuddling and patting each other on the back when the other needs comfort.  They also tickle each other and rough-house sometimes, but they're learning, because they're kids.  Kids need touch and comfort, just ask Harry Harlow and his terry cloth monkey.   

Red Rover, Red Rover, I call public educators over....I think you need some cuddles!

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*Just replace my tofu with medium rare steak, magic brownies with sauv blanc, patchouli incense with Bath and Body Works Three Wick Candles and organic cotton/bamboo toddler clothes with gently recycled items from anywhere legal that fit my children.
**When I was a kid we used to get in trouble for playing this ALL THE TIME, which made it that much more fun to play. Who doesn't want to sideline that cocky little jerk who whipped a basketball at your head during a game of foursquare in an act of playground vigilante justice?  Clearly I still have some unresolved issues.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


This past weekend we took the minions to an Agricultural Fair:  The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (The Royal).  The Royal has been a staple of autumn in Toronto since 1922.  

Here are are my top 10 favourite things about our experience taking Molly and Jack to The Royal.  If you get the opportunity to take your kids to an Agricultural Fair like this, I highly recommend it. Enjoy!

1. The shrieks of simultaneous joy, excitement, and sheer terror from Jack as he fed baby goats and sheep in the petting zoo section.

2. The laughter of other parents as they snickered at Jack giggling and laughing hysterically while a five year old girl provided him a "demonstration" on the proper way to feed goats.

3. The way Molly looked at us like we were INSANE and said, "No Thanks!" when we asked her if she wanted to pet or feed the animals.

4. You get to see real, gigantic bunnies.

5. Your kids can get appreciation for where their food comes from beyond the grocery store/ fridge.  Even if said learning consists of mixing up all of the grains from the carefully segmented categories.

6. Three Words: Corn Feed Sandbox.

7. You can teach your daughter that cows, don't say Meow they say Moo!

8. The Marketplace (at The Royal) filled with neat foods and gift ideas: including a stuffed bunny which was purchased for Molly as a Christmas gift from Nana and Papa.  She promptly commandeered said Bunny.  His name is "Eye" (yes he is a boy, I asked her) and he wears a dress that says "Molly".  If you ask her what the name means, she'll poke you in the eye, so don't - we learned the hard way.

9. Kids under three attend for free! (at The Royal anyway, after 4 the cost is $16).

10. You support the farmers in your area who work hard to get fresh food from their farms onto your table.  Farmers Feed Cities! 

Live in the Greater Toronto Area: Check out High Park Animal Paddocks or Riverdale Farm with your little ones!

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Monday, 11 November 2013

Lost Together

Everyone enjoys the "lone-wolf" rebel, in fiction.  I mean who didn't love to try to figure out whether or not Buffy and Angel could overcome their star-crossed love while he brooded in the corner about his dark and terrible past?  Will he stay, will he go, will he turn evil and murder her best friend's gold fish? It's the unpredictability, the nature of the untameable scoundrel that makes this character so appealing.

My first experience with a "lone-wolf" was with my cat Monsieur Remy DePompeneaux.*  He was a polydactyl kitten (he had extra digits in his front paws, so they looked like giant mittens) who played by his own rules.  By played be his own rules, I mean that he would escape and run away, ALL THE FREAKING TIME.  There was one epic chase scene at my downtown apartment where neighbours, furniture delivery men and I  ran around all three floors of my building trying to corner him.  It was like one of those really annoying door skits from The Monkees, but with significantly fewer masks. Finally, he was cornered when an old man on the first floor lured him in with a fresh tin of tuna.  Eventually, Remy ran away for good despite our best efforts, hundreds of lost posters and Chris and I nearly getting attacked when we cornered a family of raccoons in someone's backyard because  I was convinced we'd found him.  I was heartbroken.  As a parent, I never want that kind of pain for Molly or Jack, but know that it's pretty well inevitable.

Molly and "Bear Mountain".  Pink Bear in bottom left corner.

When you have Girl/Boy twins, the first few months you will receive a lot of pink and blue gifts.  In our case it was bears.  Molly and Jack were given a giant sleuth of bears**, which until recently (for the most part) stayed perched on their bookshelf.  That is until about a month ago when Jack adopted ALL OF THEM.  We suspect he's building a colony of Lost Boys and he, of course, is their leader.  Right now he eats and sleeps bears.  He sleeps on a pile of them every night.  During the day we try to limit him to one bear, as it's hard enough to slug around two toddlers and their gear without an army of candy floss coloured bears.

When we're out and about Jack must select one bear to accompany him.***  He has  two favourite travel bears: a soft blue one with a long snout (for him to chew on, cause nothing says "I love you" like a little Hannibal Lecter style face eating), and a small, soft, pink Gund brand bear with a pink ribbon around its neck.  Completely adorable, right?

There is one problem: Pink Bear is a "lone-wolf".  He likes to wander and it's driving me crazy.  Pink Bear unexpicility will drop out of a stroller and have his own adventure almost everywhere we go. 

This past Saturday after a trip to The Gardiner Museum he went missing.  We ended up re tracking our steps to find him, as Jack sobbed.  We finally found Pink Bear: sitting on a bench, smoking a cigarette, in front of the museum.  Rumour has it he had just returned from the strip club and was all out of cash.  Pink Bear ran away three times the following day during a trip to The Royal Winter Fair.  Much like his owner, he too would much rather roll around the floor of a parking lot like a maniac than hold hands. 

Jack thinks Pink Bear can change, I have my doubts.

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*Yes that really was his name.
**That is the correct name for a large group of bears, I looked it up.
***Sometimes we give in and he takes two bears on the road with him.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Rick James Style

I am proud to be a Canadian.  I am usually proud to be a Torontonian.  Perhaps if you aren't from around here you've heard of this lovely city in the media, maybe on the Jon Stewart Show.  We are home of the CN Tower, The Toronto Maple Leafs and a mayor who admittedly smokes crack cocaine. 

As the media frenzy continues around city hall, akin to piranhas and a sacrificial cow, or crack addicts and, I guess, a giant rock of crack, I am sad and disappointed.  I feel ashamed for the city's name that he is tarnishing; I also feel terrible as a parent.  Somewhere in Etobicoke there is an eight year old girl and a five year old boy who are hearing all of this terrible, albeit true, information about their father who excuses poor behaviour because of being in a drunken stupor after months of lying.  This is their dad.  Suddenly getting teased because my mom sent me to school with my lunch in a Bi-Way bag doesn't seem so criminal.*

Mr. Mayor

I grew up in a middle-class family in Etobicoke.  I actually went to a rival high school of Mr. Rob Ford, only a decade later.  I was also a friend and acquaintance to the children of several public officials.  Even in the 1980's and 1990's people were keenly aware who these officials were and entire families were under a watchful social microscope. 

One child I knew had their parents base allowance on community activities, alongside regular household chores.  To earn your allowance these kids would have to shovel a neighbour's driveway or help that kindly elderly lady carry in and put away her groceries.  As angst-ridden, "alternative" 14 year olds this would warrant complaints about parents (aka the man) "using" their children for political gain. 

Fast-forward 20 years. From time to time I come across updates about these children of politicians via social media, or in person.  I notice their spirited sense of volunteerism and community within this city.  I see how proud they are of their parents contributions to the city of Toronto and how they in turn want to make this city great.  I see their parents support their life choices and everyone involved thrive.

To the children of Mr. Ford: I am sorry that your father acts more like The Kool Aid Man than an elected official, making a spectacle of himself everywhere he goes.  I am sorry that you will have to answer in the playground for what other people's parents are saying about your dad.  Not only does the city of Toronto deserve better, so do you!

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*I know, first world problems, right?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Save Tonight

Every parent has hot button issues of things that are absolutely unacceptable and will be punished drastically. In my family these were the things you would get in the most trouble for: lying, being disrespectful without just cause, being a bad visitor or house-guest, and not calling or leaving a note. I was also taught that it's rude to call anyone out on being a liar, hence I live in a family filled with pathological mistakers, and I'm okay with that. 

There are a couple of holes in this method of parenting though, when you pair the absolutes in thought processes for a child of "right and wrong" along with parents of three children who need to save a buck or two it is difficult to explain grey areas to young children. My parents used to lie about our ages in order to get a discount, or whatever it was they selfishly* wanted.   This made me crazy, especially when I was 12 or 13 and desperately trying to be more grown-up. Not only were they doing what they taught me was wrong (being mistaken aka liars), in my mind they were implying that I was not worthy of the adult menu with unrefined tastes that could only be satiated with chicken fingers and place mats that come with crayons.

 Sleeping Molly at her first Beer Garden while Spirit of the West Played (1 Month Old)

Now that I'm a parent I totally get their shenanigans. Taking children anywhere is ridiculously expensive and when there are meltdowns; you end up paying full admission to stand near the entrance for 15 minutes until you finally can't take it any longer and go home annoyed and a little more broke than usual.

Nowadays I will coupon, bargain and beg to save money any way I can.  Aside from planes, trains or any other form of transportation there is no way a two year old's admission should cost the same as a nine year old's.  With respect to transit, there is no situation where I could possibly fathom wanting to hurdle through the air at several hundred miles per hour with a two year old Molly or Jack sitting on my lap, pulling my hair and climbing me like a jungle gym.

So, when is it okay to be "mistaken" about your child's age for the greater good?**  Below is some convenient justification.
  1. If an activity costs more per hour for family admission than going out for a movie and paying for a babysitter, with popcorn:  I will lie about your age to save money.  I will bring soothers to stuff in your mouth to keep you quiet if I have to.
  2. If there is a beer garden, I will strap you to my chest in a hiking carrier and avoid the bouncers at all costs, I don't care if you are four years old.
  3. If my children cannot participate in at least 75% of the rides/play structures etc. at said "attraction" I will not pay full price, period.
  4. Molly or Jack will be whatever age they need to be to get said crown, prize, toy that is being given away for free.
  5. When we are at a restaurant and an adult wants to order something that is on the children's menu, a child will be ordering said item and "sharing" with the above-mentioned adult.

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*Yeah my parents trying to save money while taking me and my sibling out to dinner, what jerks.
**The definition of "the greater good" is highly debatable. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Come on Baby Light My Fire

As a parent of toddler twins we live, eat and breathe childproofing.  That's why  when we venture into a home of adults who have not faced toddler or child proofing for over 35 years, things can get a little hairy.  This past weekend we enjoyed our Inaugural Thanksmas Celebration (Thanksgiving and Christmas). When 11 of us cram into the family room at Grandma and Grandpa's several things are apparent, especially when 45% of us are between the ages of one to seven. 
  1. We don't cry over spilled milk, but we do cry over spilled Mimosas.  Children or adults who waste spirits will be dealt with appropriately (in time-out).
  2. The toy box is cool, but not as cool as trying to throw grandma's free-weights through the glass coffee table (Jack).  It's even cooler if you yell, "Bam-Bam" or "Pow" while you do this.
  3. If you prefer your brother's Thanksmas gift to your own, you can steal it (Molly).  Prison Rules Apply.
  4. You can also rename said gift Giraffe, "Bunny".  If you call it "Mine!" enough times your brother will actually believe you.  This is not the first time that Molly has been an Evil Over Lord to Stuffed Giraffes.  We're noticing a trend.
  5. Anything that a child can do that makes grandma and grandpa nervous is exponentially more fun.  The more warnings you receive, the more exhilarating.
  6. The glass table topped with lovely blown-glass ornaments and its proximity to ANY child is like playing "hot" and "cold" with mom and dad's blood pressure.  Pass another mimosa, please.
  7. Santa's workshop is in Grandma and Grandpa's basement.  We know this because we spotted the elves' saws laying on the ground behind a high chair (next to the pile of  BBQ lighters laying on the ground).
  8. All is fair in love, war and the battle over the last cinnamon bun.
  9. When Grandma asks, "You're not going to write about this on your blog are you?" you know your husband has your back when he says, "Well now I think she kind of has to."
Molly and her prisoner of war, Bunny - the Giraffe

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Splish Splash - A Halloween Story

It's raining like crazy today in Toronto and will likely do so all night, but that's okay.  Instead of building an Ark this Halloween I'm thankful for the expertise of veteran parents I know, the interwebs and the great strides and inventions that have occurred in Halloween related products since I was a child in the 1980s.  Below are the Halloween inventions/life hacks that I am thankful for, hopefully they will also help you this Halloween or next.

  1. Clear garbage bags for rainy Halloween nights to wear over costumes means no complaints from your kids that no one can see their awesome costumes under rain coats.
  2. Spray in hair colour that washes out.  In 1981 my mother and my older sister had an epic battle because my sister wanted to colour her hair orange to make her Bat Girl costume "more authentic".  My mom refused to let my then eight year old sister dye her hair orange, but instead sewed orange yarn as fake hair into the hood of the costume.  My sister looked more like a Muppet than Bat Girl, as did I five years later when I was Mary Lou Muppet  Bat Girl in my hand-me-down epic fail of a costume.
  3. Polar fleece and good warm long johns that can go under costumes.  This prevents having to put your butterfly wings on over top of your winter jacket. 
  4. Bright (neon) coloured tapes, arm bands, glow sticks and stickers to integrate into a child's costume so they can be seen by cars while they trick or treat.  I'll never forget the year my mom tried to convince me to wear an orange crossing guard pinny over top of my costume.  This is one of the only childhood battles I ever remember winning.
  5. Tea lights with watch batteries to fuel them instead of wicks. This prevent burns and rain or wind from impacting their glow.
  6. Travel mugs that parents can fill with warm tea or "Irish" coffee to keep us parents toasty while they take their kids out to Trick or Treat.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

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