Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The End of the Century - 2014 New Year Resolution Year End

In the beginning of 2014 I set out with a series of resolutions, now that the year is nearly over I thought I'd reflect on how I did.  To take a look at my official resolution list click here.

camping crib with babies
Photo from camping 2013 courtesy of A.W.


Here's my progress from the last bit of 2014.

Read More Stories to Molly and Jack
Reading becomes a bigger part of Molly and Jack's lives every day which both Chris and I find really exciting.  On weekend days when Jack wakes up earlier than Molly I find myself on the couch with him reading two or three books and taking our time examining little bits of the story and pictures together - it's some of the best one on one time I get with my Jackie Bear.  Each night we get to two or three stories and over the holidays, particularly since Jack's been feeling under the weather, we've had two or three story times a day.  Favourite books right now are Pinkalicious, The Pigeon Needs a Bath and The Duckling Gets a Cookie.

Read More Books For Me
I like to think that the looming December deadline for my Public Relations final thesis was the main culprit behind my lack of extracurricular reading the past few months, except I haven't picked up a book over the holidays either.  With the three (plus) books I read over the past few months I read 20 books this year doubling 2013's 10 which I consider a big win.  Here's what I read recently.

Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness One Celebrity at a Time by Rachel Bertsche - This is a one year journey of self-help where guinea pig Rachel takes on one celebrity at a time where she tries to be fit like Jennifer, a superstar supermom chef like Gwyneth and a stylish fashionista like Sarah-Jessica.  An interesting story with great narrative, but I would have really liked some pictures about the journey and some highlights of what she learned including what habits stuck post-project.

Fan Girl By Rainbow Rowell-  The Queen of Teen showcases a relationship of identical twins in their first year of college.  Moments of brilliance include incorporating an S.E. Hinton's Outsiders reference and some tender real moments between the main characters. It was a solid read, but the ending really felt like a non-ending to me and left me a little underwhelmed.

Adulting, How to become an Adult in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown  - A nice easy quick read with some items I already knew and forgot and some great tips on not sweating the small stuff, like "Will I care about this in six months, In a year".  I felt about ten years too old to have read this book, but enjoyed it all the same.

My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me by Hilary Winston - I really wanted to like this book, but after three solid attempts at it and it sitting in my purse for nearly two months I tapped out.  I just couldn't get into her writing style and expected a lot more humour in this than I got.


Have More Dates With Chris
We've managed a couple of dinners out over the past few months.  Something as simple as an hour or two at a record shop followed by a coffee shop or pub for some great conversation can reconnect us and remind me that we still like each other and why we're together.  It can be hard to remember these things when you're surrounded by two little ones all the time.

Book More "Me" Time
I have been good with getting more "me" time, but it's a tough balance when you also want time with your kids and your spouse.  This will continue to be a priority moving forward.  I have come to the realization that "me" time doesn't always have to occur at a yoga studio, coffee shop or spa, it can be as simple as trying out a new recipe and blasting Adele on a Thursday night, which is something I'm excited to focus on more next year.

I've begun the resolution list for 2015 and will share it in the next few days.  While there are going to be healthful items like "drink more water" I doubt I'll report on that publicly  In 2015 I plan to focus on promoting and publishing my writing elsewhere and putting myself out there.  I also want to use my writing as an inspiration to drive more memories and activities with my family.  This is the first year I've stayed connected with my resolved changes, even when I haven't been so successful and it was an awesome exercise.  What is the best resolution you ever had?  Do you have any planned for 2015?

To view my three month check in click here.

To view my six month check in click here\.

To view my nine month check in click here.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Yule Shoot Your Eye Out

Annual photo diary of our Christmas festivities.  

What Santa and his reindeer ate.

Jack inspecting the missing snack.


My Christmas Flowers

Molly insisting on wearing ALL OF THE CLIPS in her hair.

A new holiday tradition, Christmas Bowling.

Backyard hockey, while mom and dad (finally) put away the lawn furniture.

Hide and Seek.


Happy Holidays, I hope each of you get to enjoy some extra time with the people who mean the most to you, I know we're really enjoying our time with Molly and Jack!


To view last year's Christmas photo diary click here

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Misunderstood

Molly and Jack are changing every day, growing up and becoming fiercely independent.  Although we record so many moments in my writing and in photographs there are many things that we forget about as they slowly outgrow them.  Chris wants us to focus a bit of time making sure we get some video and audio recordings of the kids voices, the way they play and Jack's infectious, gruff little giggle.

As a child of the 1980s I grew up watching programs like America's Funniest Home Videos and Kids say the Darnedest Things and even as a kid I thought they were pretty cheesy.  That being said, Molly and Jack have been bursting with funny sayings and antics lately that I don't want to forget as they outgrow them and I thought I'd share below.

Wrong Words

Molly's second favourite type of fruit is "Honey Dude Melon".

Jack's favourite cookies are, "Budgeeos" more commonly known as Fudgeos.

When Molly asks you for "Hayden Crackers" she means Wheat Thins....we still don't understand this one.


toddler in time-out



Toddler Logic

Jack has three green monsters.  One is named "Aap" and the other two are both named Green Monster, naturally.

Molly gets really angry if you tell her that she is a human or person or that humans are animals.

Jack has a black plug that belongs to some sort of toy sink.  The plug's name is "Bammo!" and Bammo is constantly upset and getting scrapes and injuries.  Jack needs to comfort him, sing to him, kiss him and rub baby powder on his scrapes.  Bammo also likes to dance.




Rude things that it's hard to keep a straight face over

This past weekend while we were watching Elf on TV, Molly turned to Chris and repeatedly asked, "Daddy, are you a bitch?" We pretended we didn't know what she was talking about and it seems to have passed.

When I was trying to help Jack climb up onto a slippery piece of playground equipment he became frustrated and wanted to do it himself, but I wouldn't let him because it was dangerous.  He turned to me and yelled, "Scwam Wabbit (Scram Rabbit)" in my face.  When I put him in time out for being rude, I had to turn the other way so he couldn't see me laughing.


What are your most memorable toddler moments, mistakes and mishaps?

To read about the Truth Bombs I want to lay on my toddlers click here

Thursday, 18 December 2014

I Want to Be a Bear

Chris often calls me "Mama Bear" particularly when I get overly protective of him, Molly, Jack or anyone who's made my inner circle.  Normally this title is something that I take as a compliment, like how the minions call Tigress from Kung Foo Panda "Mama Tiger".  She's strong, loyal, protective (albeit a little bit bitchy), but I take the association of strength and motherhood as a sign that I'm doing something right...most of the time.

The other day we went holiday shopping with my folks and the minions.  After Molly and Jack had picked out their Christmas gifts from Nana and Papa we went out to Swiss Chalet together for dinner. About half way through our meal a young man, about 15 or 16 years old approached our table.  He was wearing a white button down shirt and a pair of black pants and I assumed that he was a junior staff member or busboy.  He asked me if I was I was the mom, to which I said yes.  Next he asked me how old the minions were, what Molly and Jack's names were and then how to spell them.  I suspected this was for their dessert or something that came with their kids meal.  Next he turned to me and said, "Does he have a syndrome?  Because he really looks like he has a syndrome."

baby and giant stuffed teddy bear
Jack poses with Barney the Bear at Grandma and Grandpas.

"Mama Bear" came with her claws out and paws a swinging.  I very curtly, and loudly, said no and asked him, "Could you please leave our table right now?".  I was incensed, I was furious.  He said okay and walked back to his table where his mom was sitting, he was holding a doll, that I hadn't seen previously.  It was then clear to me that he did not work there and that perhaps the a-hole had been me.  His mom had either not noticed "the incident" or was pretending that she had not noticed.

My parents turned to me, asked me what was wrong with me, told me to lighten up and calm down. Although everyone else at the table had also assumed the boy was restaurant staff, they figured out that he was a person with a learning disability around the same time that I got angry.  It finally dawned on me after I had asked the boy to leave,  that he sought Jack out and was trying to connect with him because he thought they had something in common and I had shut him down because of my own insecurities about Jack and his language and social development. Jack was unphased and continued eating his chicken and fries and my family continued to "poke the bear" asking me why I am so mean.  I debated going over to the table to apologize, but the boy seemed unbothered by my response so I decided to just let it lie.

Almost every time I fill out a form for Jack about his speech therapy and our new learning goals I have to fill out a question about what concerns me most.  Lately I've been putting in things like, Jack being left out, Jack not being included with other kids, Jack not being able to relate to other kids.  Basically, I want him to make friends, be happy and feel included.  I'm coming to realize that while Jack definitely needs speech therapy  to increase his social skills and better interact with his peers, the person who's most stressed out over his inclusion in "all the reindeer games" is me, not Jack.  These are my issues, not his.

One evening a few months ago Molly kept on saying that Jack was dumb and calling him dummy.  I tore a strip off her, big time, in a way that was probably over the top - because of my own "Mama Bear" fears that others will call him names.  Logically I know that Jack is a smart little guy and that, as his sister, it's Molly's given right to give him a hard time.  If my mom went all Grizzly Bear on us every time we teased or called each other names, she'd have spent a heck of a lot of time disciplining us.

I didn't want to write this post, but then Chris talked to me about why it's important for me to share this sort of thing.  Parenting can be an exercise in getting over your own insecurities and even though there are a number of things that I won't and don't share, avoiding this would be inauthentic.

I think I've found my first New Year's resolution: To take a deep breath, assess the situation and keep in mind that most of the time people mean well, no matter how much what they are saying upsets me before I go Kodiak on someone.  That's not to say that "Mama Bear" is in hibernation mode.  Don't mess with her cubs!

To read about some of the important things I've learned in our journey with Jack surrounding speech and language therapy click here.

To read about our first language assessment click here.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Market Town

One of our December traditions started just a few years ago: The Distillery Christmas Market.  We took the minions there this past weekend and it did not disappoint (and it's open until December 21st) if you want to go.

Here are the 10 best things about the 2014 Christmas Market that add to a great day out with your family!

distillery district toronto Christmas Market


  1. You can buy tasty hot apple toddy that you can carry around with you while you shop. Cinnamon stick included.  If you need something else, Mill Street Brewery is just a stumble away.
    1. If the hot toddy isn't enough all of the decorations, art and the upside down Christmas tree display will get rid of all of your bah humbugs.

      distillery district toronto Christmas Market
      Hot Toddy Booth.  I used my cinnamon stick as a straw....just saying.
    2. They have a carousel.  (Cost to ride is $4.50 per turn - kids under three feet tall can have their parents accompany them.
    3. If you're over three feet tall you can also ride on the Ferris Wheel.
    4. This market has been coined as the closest that you'll get to a "real" European Christmas Market with fresh baked goods, ornaments and treats and gifts for sale (we don't leave the continent much any more, ha, so we'll take everyone's word about the European feel).
    5. There is art work everywhere...Including some items that the kids can climb.

      distillery district toronto Christmas Market
      Molly and Jack enjoying the climbable artwork.
    6. You can visit Santa and take your own photos, and the cost is an optional donation.
    7. There are warming stations with heat lamps and some indoor artists spaces where you can shop and take a break from the cold if you need to.
    8. Hot corn beef sandwiches on pretzel buns...We spent the majority of our time in line waiting to see Santa removing excess mustard from Jack's face, hands and winter coat.
    9. The Kinder Smile booth...where you can get free chocolate.
    distillery district toronto Christmas Market, distillery district santa
    Molly and Jack get ready for their visit with Santa.



    distillery district toronto Christmas Market, distillery district snowman
    The lovable snowman!

    To read about the naughty Christmas Goose click here

    To read about a healthy holiday tradition click here

    Tuesday, 16 December 2014

    Black

    People talk about the nesting instinct during pregnancy, but they don't talk much about the nesting instinct of children and their growing need to make a space their own.  While Molly and Jack aren't organizing shelves or actively participating in spring cleaning they most certainly want some input on the world around them, particularly their room.

    When I was eight years old my mom involved me in the re-decoration of my bedroom.  The result was me designing a bedroom that looked like pastel rainbows threw up everywhere.  Years later, when I was 15, I covered up Cloud Cuckoo land with two walls of posters and magazine clippings of everything Grunge.... and wrote what my family coined as "emotional poetry" on my bed spread in a laundry marker (It was actually mostly lyrics from Pearl Jam's Black, which I can't claim as my own work) .  My mom applauded my creativity through gritted teeth as she knew that any criticism of my room decoration would elongate the winter of my discontent.

    The nursery has been in an endless state of decoration rotation this year.  Several months ago Jack asked me to take down the "Boys Don't Cry" poster that was hung in the nursery because it was scaring him and it occurred to me that the space that I had created during pregnancy nesting no longer belonged to me.  It belonged to my two little minions and they had a different vision for their room than I did with my storybook theme.  The Jack and the Bean Stalk print that hung above Jack's bed has also been removed from the wall because it was scaring him.  We bought Molly and Jack a Frozen poster for their birthdays which they enjoyed for a number of months until Chris was asked to take this down because, Jack informed us that "it's bugging me".  The Princess Bride print above Molly's bed was broken one afternoon (during an attempt at a nap) when Molly tried to "make monkey fly into the sun" - this is partially our fault since we installed an IKEA light fixture that is designed to look like the sun.  Monkey just couldn't handle the heat, but don't worry Monkey's okay...I wish Wesley and Buttercup could say the same.

    skeleton sock monkeys
    It was Pink Monkey (aka Icarus) who tried to fly too close to the sun.

    I wanted to keep decorative control over the nursery for as long as I could, but I now know I'm fighting a losing battle.  Kids have such little control over their own schedules, meals and everything else in their lives that it's nice to give them some space that is designed by them, for them.

    Last month we bought Jack a print of Mickey Mouse camping that we found at Good Will and Molly selected a painting from our hallway, which my grandmother Alice painted for us as a wedding gift, that we hung above her bed because it reminds her of Cinderella.  We had to rearrange the nursery a few weeks ago because a plug outlet that was close to Molly's bed was scaring her.  The following week we had to reconfigure the room again when Jack used the new layout of the room to climb up onto their wardrobe and rain down all of the "stuffies" (stuffed animals) onto the bedroom floor during nap time.


    Jack chillin on the nursery floor.

    In the summer when we move them from toddler beds to bunk beds we will have them pick out their own twin sized bed spreads - it's going to be interesting to see what they select.  Hopefully it will be a few more years before they write emotional song lyrics on them.



    Monday, 15 December 2014

    Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

    When we were expecting Molly and Jack, and even when they were our two sweet infants, Chris and I smugly spoke about the things that we would never do as parents.  One thing that sticks out in my mind is when parents say, "I love you, but I certainly don't like you right now."  Chris and I scoffed that we would never utter those words to our little ones....and we haven't, yet.  But this weekend was the closest I've ever come to saying something like this to one of the kids.





    We've been trying to allow the minions to go free-range when, in public. The minions free-range status is based on a three strike system.  This weekend at the grocery store Miss Molly insisted that she wanted to walk and help us shop and for the first ten minutes of our trip she was great, then things started to unravel.  First she asked me if I would carry her, which in my experience is the launch code towards detonation of "the Molly Bomb" and you have roughly five to ten minutes to deactivate or evacuate.  I suggested that she jump into the shopping cart with her brother, but she wasn't having it. Next she started running ahead of me and bumping into other people and their carts like a demented pinball.   I asked her to stop, so she rolled around on the floor.  Then when I asked her to stand up, she started crawling and informed me that she was a horse.  I gave her another warning and she then started licking products on the shelf.  Finally her dad and I picked her up and strapped her into the grocery cart beside her brother who was calmly playing with Chris' car keys at this point "the Molly bomb" went off.

    She started thrashing, screaming and crying uncontrollably for over ten minutes.  Chris suggested I disengage.  He manned the cart while I started running and grabbing the remaining items on our list. In line she upped her game.  She began yelling and screaming about how no one in the family loved her.  ABSOLUTELY NO ONE HAS EVER UTTERED ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE TO THESE WORDS TO HER, ever and she was screaming this, loudly, over and over again while we stood in line captive to her tantrum.

    I was embarrassed, I was hurt, I was mortified and I felt completely helpless in the wake of "the Molly bomb".  After spending so much time as parents encouraging our kids to talk to us, to tell us what's wrong when they're upset, it's problematic that the entire time I stood in line at the grocery store it took a ton of strength to not yell, "SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!" at the top of my lungs.

    I hate being embarrassed. In public situations like this all I want to do is run away, but I know I have to get over this because these are the times when we need to teach our kids coping skills.

    Here are some things that I researched (and know from logic) that may help when you have a three year old screaming in your face.


    1. You are an adult, they are the child.  Try not to take what they are saying to heart.  When you are calm (and they are no longer going ape-crap crazy) use this situation as a learning tool to explain to them how words can hurt feelings.
    2. Even though you feel like everyone is staring at you and judging you, they probably aren't staring at you and judging you (okay maybe they are) but feeling ashamed and worrying about the opinions of others isn't going to make the "incident" go away, it's only going to raise your anxiety level and make things worse. 
    3. Remember they're trying to tell you something (even though 90% of the time it's probably - I need a snack or I need a nap).  Afterwards talk to them about being angry and the various levels of anger. (i.e. I was annoyed when you were rolling on the floor.  I was cross when you started licking items on the shelf of the grocery store and I was incensed when you started screaming that nobody loves you).
    4. Have a plan.  Even if it's a time out and a conversation when the "incident" is over.
    5. Keep in mind that you love them....even if you don't always like them.  Once we were in the car, and post time out, we gave Molly a hug and reassured her that we love her so much.

    What's the meanest thing your kid has ever said to you?  What about your parental word regrets?

    To read about the time that I vowed to never go grocery shopping again click here

    To read about positive discipline click here

    Friday, 12 December 2014

    Graceless - Canadiana Book Gift Ideas

    I didn't realize until I was an adult how patriotic I am to Canada and how lucky I am to have been born and raised here.  So much of my Canadian experience has been driven by the books I've read.

    All through December I have been highlighting specific areas from my gifting that reflect

    1) Something they want
    2) Something they need
    3) Something to read
    4) Keepsake gifts/memories and gifts that inspire the true holiday spirit.

    Today I am going to highlight books as gifts that are truly Canadian (and also amazing reads).  I have recommended ages but really these are great gifts for anyone, any age.

    Books for Little Ones (aged 2-5)

    Just One Goal by Robert Munsch

    I have always been a sucker for Robert Munsch as are Molly and Jack.  His books are quintessentially Canadian and offer a cultural diversity that you don't see in enough childrens books.  Besides, what could be more Canadian than a book about a girl in Hay River Alberta who plays hockey and builds her own rink with some help from her dad.

    just one goal Robert Munsch
    Image Courtesy of a Pinterest Post.

    Books For Older Ones (6-12)

    Booky by Bernice Thurman Hunter
    The first book in the 'Booky" series was read to me in the second grade during weekly visits to my primary school's library.  I fell in love with Booky and how her family got by in 1920s depression era Toronto.  This is a great read-out loud book.  Booky supplied an honest take on everything from trading food stamps for Coca Cola, bed bugs to kitchen tonsil removal.   I tore through the entire Booky series a year or two later and have re-read them a few times over the years.

    Booky by BT Hunter
    Image Courtesy of Goodreads

    Tweens - Age 10 and up

    Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
    Anne is an orphan with fiery red hair and a temper to match.  Find out what happens when she's adopted by the Cuthberts, who expected a boy who could help with farm work and got Anne instead, as she tries to fit in a sleepy town in PEI.  Anne embodies the awkwardness of being a pre-teen and a great gift to read, or re-read.  Guilty admission...My good friend KM and I used to recite monologues from Anne of Green Gables for hours in my room after school in middle school.  I think I just answered the question in my head about why boys didn't like me until well into high school.

    Anne of Green Gables
    Image Courtesy of Tourism PEI

    For your Favourite Historian or Lover of Toronto

    Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.
    What Can-Con list is complete without a mention of Canadian writing royalty Margaret Atwood? This is by far my favourite Atwood book.  I especially love the Toronto setting around Islington and Dundas (where I grew up).  I haven't read it in years, but want to re-read it.  Here's the Wikipedia description which is going to have me reaching for my bookshelf soon, "The story is about the notorious 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Upper Canada. Two servants of the Kinnear household, Grace Marks and James McDermott, were convicted of the crime. McDermott was hanged and Marks was sentenced to life imprisonment. Although the novel is based on factual events, Atwood constructs a narrative with a fictional doctor, Simon Jordan, who researches the case. Although ostensibly conducting research into criminal behaviour, he slowly becomes personally involved in the story of Grace Marks and seeks to reconcile his perception of the mild mannered woman he sees with the murder of which she has been convicted."
    Alias Grace Margaret Atwood
    Image courtesy of Wikipedia.


    For some of my absolute favourite book recommendations click here

    For book ideas featuring stories about the underdog click here

    To read my grown-up Christmas reading list click here




    Tuesday, 9 December 2014

    Been Caught Stealing

    Many years ago, in an apartment not too far away from where we currently live, Chris and I were robbed.  It was Mother's Day and we were returning from a dinner with my mom (aka Nana).  As we made our way into our apartment something was amiss.  There was a jar of mayonnaise broken in the centre of our kitchen floor.  Chris immediately asked me if I had broken it and just left it there before we left the house that afternoon (apparently I have a reputation for smearing condiments all over the floor and going out for hours that I was unaware of).  For the record: I had absolutely nothing to do with the mayonnaise on the floor, despite Chris' complaints that I'm the messiest person in the world.  Our cat Pan came to greet us and started mewing incessantly.  He led us to our office where we discovered that our entire back window pane had been removed.  By the window was our lap top and a few other things that were in the process of being packed up to be relocated from our place to a pawn shop.

    We had walked in on our robbers, which fortunately had stopped them from stealing everything we had of value, but we had not caught them before they had ransacked my jewelry collection.  Fortunately for them, at the time of the robbery, I had all of my wares neatly on display on my nightstand for them to easily sort and steal.  After the police report was filled and we cleaned up our place, mayonnaise, as well as some beer bottles and sparkling water that the robbers had helped themselves to, we set to work on making things more secure.  We installed extra deadbolts, our landlord helped us cut hockey stick jams to secure all of our windows and we put an extra bright light on the back entrance.  For a few weeks Chris slept with a baseball bat beside our bed, just in case.  We were really lucky that we didn't corner anyone during the robbery and that no one got hurt.

    heart necklace


    Unfortunately, they never located any of our stolen goods.  We had caught the thieves "mid-job", so they had only run away with my jewelry: the gold locket from my great great grandmother, the sapphire earrings that my grandmother had purchased me for university graduation, the watch my grandfather gave me from when I turned 20 and my mother's engagement ring that I was going to refashion into a necklace.  It was like they had specifically looked for anything with any sentimental value and taken it.  There were no buts about it, this sucked.  Ironically, I had left our grocery money in the cookie jar  (we don't keep it there any more) and it was  untouched.

    Earlier this year, when cleaning out a drawer in our office, I found a small jewelry box.  Inside were a few pieces of jewelry that were given to me as a child that I had long forgotten.  For Christmas this year, I have decided that Molly is going to get a heart necklace that my grandfather and step-grandmother gave me when I turned 13.  Chris and I debated maybe saving it for when she's older, but I've decided that I'd rather give it to her this year, because I know that it will make her happy  She's only three and will only be allowed to wear it for special occasions, but I'd rather see her wear it then it sitting out on a dresser somewhere.  I have a few other pieces from my childhood that I plan give to her over the years.

    What sentimental gifts do you have planned for the holidays?



    Friday, 5 December 2014

    A Little Bit Stronger - 30 Day Shred DVD

    About a month and a half ago I made an online pledge to record my attempts to get into better shape when I bought Jillian Michaels (of The Biggest Loser Fame) 30 Day Shred DVD.

    Below is the annotated, honest account of my attempt to complete the 30 day shred in 40 days, which actually occurred over 42 days.  Spoiler alert: I didn't work out 30 times, I worked out 19.


    toddler batgirl
    It's not easy being a super hero.


    Level 1 - Completed 8 times
    Workout 1,  Day 1 - There are so many jumping jacks.  Jillian Michaels makes a point of saying that there are no modified "moves" for jumping jacks and that if 400lb people on The Biggest Loser can do it, then I should really just suck it up and do it (okay she says it nicer then that).

    Workout 2, Day 3 - I can feel every molecule of fat jiggling as I do seemingly endless rounds of jumping jacks.  At least there aren't any burpees in level one.

    Workout 3,  Day 6 -  Took several days off because of soreness, but now I'm back.  During today's workout Molly tried to steal my purple yoga matt twice and claim it for her own.   I finally convinced her to go downstairs and watch Mickey Mouse, but not before she declared, "I like your purple carpet mom".

    Workout 5,  Day 12 - It's the day after Halloween and I'm convinced that I'm suffering from a candy hangover.  I managed to jump higher for jump rope and complete all of the moves despite being full of chocolate.

    Workout 6,  Day 15 - I managed my first weekday AM workout.  I'd like to say that it was because I'm extra motivated, but it's likely just that the time change has served me well.

    Workout 8, Day 17 - I'm no longer feeling muscle soreness, so it's time for level 2.


    Level 2 - Completed 10 times
    Workout 9, Day 19 - So much jumping!  Also, WTF is a plank jack?

    Workout 10, Day 20 - Answer, plank jack is something that hurts.

    NOTE: I have skipped nearly a week of workouts because of some issues with dental surgery.  Both minions have commandeered my yoga mat and are using it as a dance floor while they do "The Hotdog Dance".

    Workout 11, Day 24 - I probably should have sat out from this a little longer.  I can feel every impact throbbing where my dental surgery was.

    Workout 12, Day 28 - Chris joined me today for the workout and had to sit down for a while after we were done because he was so out of breath.  I feel very smugly satisfied.

    Workout 17, Day 41 - Today after my workout I watched level 3 on fastforward to see what to expect.  It looks like it's going to be tough - weights in hand for most cardio....but I'm excited (I can't believe I just said that).

    Results: I'm stronger and I'm sleeping better, I've lost just over an inch and a half on my waist and have more arm muscle definition than I've had in a while.  Since I've been playing these DVDs a lot, Molly keeps on telling everyone how strong she is, just like mommy which I think is the best possible result. Who knows what would happen if I actually did the 30 day shred in 30 or even 40?  I would definitely recommend this DVD - they say it's 20 minutes, but it's actually closer to half an hour.

    What's Next: I'm going to do level 3, hopefully, 10 times, in the next 16 days.   And I also plan on getting Ripped in 30 to help combat the holiday bloat.

    To read about my experience with the 30 Day Squat Challenge click here

    To read some of my commentary on body positivity click here

    Wednesday, 3 December 2014

    All I Ever Need Is You

    Recently I read an article on how to decide on what/how much to spend on your kids over the holidays that mentioned getting them: something they want, something they need and something to read - and that's it.

    All through December I would like to highlight specific areas from my gifting that reflect this motto with the addition of my own category of  keepsake gifts/memories and gifts that inspire the true holiday spirit.

    Today's category features: something they NEED, that is also budget friendly.  I must admit for most of my childcare "NEEDS" it is easier to get Molly (and some of my nieces) what they need compared to Jack or my nephew because some children are more likely to get excited over new clothes than others.

    Two of my nieces had their ears pierced this year and one is prone to infections, so we went out and got her some cute keeper earrings that are sterling silver.

    We were able to get these earrings at Claire's for our soccer star niece (regular $12 but they sometimes have buy one, get one at a discount sales if you keep a look out)

    soccer ball earrings
     Earrings from Claire's.


    Pyjamas.  Chris scoffed at me for dividing up pyjama sets and may have implied I was being "grinchy"....but if you have some children on your list this year who are similar in size there is a great opportunity to save some cash with some two for one sets.  Target and some other chains are selling PJ sets are very reasonable prices....Here's a cute double set I saw online at Target.  You can quadruple up if you look for the BOGO sales many stores are offering up.

    minion sleep-set pyjamas
    This 4 piece sleep-set (or 2 sets of pyjamas if you're me) goes for $21.99 at Target.


    Where do you save on your "Needs" shopping for holiday or every day purchases?

    ONLY 2 DAYS LEFT....PLEASE VOTE TODAY!!!

    Thanks to your support I have been nominated for VoiceBoks Blog Influencer of the year. If you have a moment please visit and vote for me and if you're feeling extra generous share this message:  http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ You can vote daily.


    Monday, 1 December 2014

    Top Ten Records

    I come from a family with very athletic siblings and was always deemed the non-competitive one. I never really cared about trophies and was often the worst performer on any sports team, so I took this to mean that I was a passive opponent in every way possible.

    A number of years ago one of my closest childhood friends was getting married.  As a part of the festivities that proceeded in the months before the wedding, my friend's older sister had organized an Amazing Race Inspired Scavenger Hunt around the city that celebrated the relationship of my friend and her fiancee.  I LOVE this type of activity and was determined that Chris and I were going to win.  We worked together very well and were totally dominating the race.  As a matter of fact we were being a little too competitive and we were very close to beating the bride and groom in their own race.  My friend's sister, who has known me since I was seven, mocked me and my family for our competitive drive and asked me to take it down a notch, or ten.  I took serious pause. I had no clue that I was seen as a competitive person because I was always compared to my uber-go-for-the-gold siblings.  My friend and her husband won the event and we came in second mostly because Chris stalled when he was asked to eat some candied bugs as a part of a gross out competition. 

    What does this story have to do with anything?  

    Multiple Momstrosity has been nominated for Voiceboks Blog Influencer of the Year award and I am currently in 11th place. I want to secure a spot in the top 10.  The problem is, I am over 100 votes behind in the competition, we're very quickly running out of time and there are no amounts of bugs that Chris or I can consume to change my placement.  I have 2 days left to secure these votes and I need your help to do so.

    chickens at high park zoo, High Park animal paddocks
    Random Fact: Chris hates birds...while we were at the High Park Zoo someone dropped a chicken in his lap...this was worse than any bug eating competition, especially since he didn't want to freak Molly and Jack out.



    Here's what you can do to get me to my Goal of making the Top 10!


    1. Click Here Now and cast your vote for Multiple Momstrosity. There is a little thumbs up icon that pops up in the top left hand corner. Click on that to register a vote. Vote daily and if you've got access to  another computer, cell phone or other IP address please vote again daily.

    2. Send an email to friends, fellow parents, relatives, co-workers, enemies, anyone you think will enjoy reading about the minions and include this link: http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ asking them to cast daily votes.

    3. Tweet, share and like my Facebook and social media updates to help me get more votes.


    It's go time people...and I'm in it to win it!




    Friday, 28 November 2014

    Rich Friday

    It's black Friday today and on Monday it's officially December which puts people into a shopping frenzy.  Last week I read an article on how to decide on what/how much to spend on your kids over the holidays that mentioned getting them: something they want, something they need and something to read - and that's it.  I love this basic idea as a guideline to keep everyone happy (budgets included) and have tried to employ this into our shopping for the minions as well as ensuring that my gifts for the other little people in our lives (primarily the nieces and nephew) meet at least one of these categories, with the addition of one more category - a gift of nostalgia or sentiment.

    All through December I would like to highlight specific areas from my gifting that reflect

    1) Something they want
    2) Something they need
    3) Something to read
    4) Keepsake gifts/memories and gifts that inspire the true holiday spirit.


    Today's category features: something they want - care of Molly and Jack's wish list, that are fairly budget friendly.


    Frozen Dolls....Molly wants Anna and Elsa dolls, Jack wants Olaf and Sven....Buying the four pack and dividing it up saved us money and hassle...plus by dividing them up before we wrap them it means that Christmas morning won't be spent tearing toys out of their packaging.


    frozen dolls
    We bought our four pack from Walmart.


    Jack is in love with TTC buses and garbage trucks.  Unfortunately, we couldn't find TTC buses for sale anywhere (There is a huge market for this toy if anyone wants to design and sell it). Amazon supplied this Melissa and Doug Garbage truck for under $20 although I've noticed it's nearly doubled in price since we bought it a few weeks ago. 


    toy garbage trucks
    Melissa and Doug Garbage Truck


    What are the must have on your kids list this holiday season?  Where do you set the limit?


    Thanks to your support I have been nominated for VoiceBoks Blog Influencer of the year. If you have a moment please visit and vote for me and if you're feeling extra generous share this message:  http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ You can vote daily.




    Thursday, 27 November 2014

    Try

    There are all of these books that people read to prepare for the birth of their children and I'm certain that the "What to Expect" authors are thankful for all the people they've been able to help over the years.  There are other moments that no book can help you with, or provide comfort when you feel that nagging sadness that is sometimes unjustified, but that doesn't mean that you don't feel it just the same.

    Chris and I both know that we are very blessed to have two healthy and happy pre-schoolers in our lives and we truly are grateful.  All the same we have faced a number of challenges over the past year surrounding Jack and his speech therapy and it can seem like a bit of a roller coaster sometimes.

    This week a child psychologist came in and provided an assessment and feedback on Jack and his learning needs.  The report came back with no red flags towards the spectrum of autism and they are not worried about OCD, however there are some delays in emotional and social development with specific skill deficit areas as well as a hunch that we may be facing some learning disabilities (such as dyslexia, which runs in my family) down the road.

    toddlers on swing



    I really wanted to share some things we've learned, felt and experienced in our 16 month journey in the land of speech, language and social development because this is something that people don't really like to talk about, even though they probably should.

    Every time you have an appointment, brace yourself for...more appointments
    I am currently in the process of booking some time with our doctor to get a referral to a specialist in children's hearing testing and a referral for a private speech therapist so we can apply for some insurance coverage.

    A is no longer for Apple...it's for Autism
    One thing has been consistent with every single assessment or appointment we've gone to: the first thing that will be talked about is red flags towards the autism spectrum and whether or not they are suspected for your child.  If we had $20 for every time we heard, "There were no red flags towards autism, but..." we would have a lot more money for speech therapy.

    Expect to be emotional about things...sometimes
    I had a big old pity party after the last assessment and left the one last week feeling okay, whereas the hunch about learning disabilities really hit Chris with a sucker punch this time.  Not everyone in the family is going to react the same way at the same time.  You just need to give yourself permission to feel that way and then move forward.

    Enthusiasm is contagious 
    The more supportive we've been in our efforts with Jack surrounding speech and social development therapy, the harder our daycare staff and family and friends have worked to help us work with Jack.  People want to help, you just need to ask.

    People will say things that you don't want to hear
    I am very open about our lives and the hurdles that we face as parents.  That doesn't mean that it's an open invitation for someone to compare their child's development directly to my children's like it's progress in a race.  We all do it, and I'm guilty too, but please, just don't.  It hurts, even though I know you mean the best.  We can talk, we can share stories...but please don't line your child's achievements up against mine.

    You need to keep yourself in check
    I didn't realise quite how much pressure I was putting on Molly until Chris called me on it.  She had three accidents over the past ten days or so when she didn't make it to the washroom in time, and all three times she was on her way and I was a little harsh with her about it - Chris pointed this out and he was right.  It's not fair to put unrealistic expectations on anyone, period.

    No one is perfect, Even Mary Poppins
    Just because I wish that I was taller doesn't make it so.  We become who we are because of the journey, bumps, bruises, struggles and everything else included.  Just keep perspective. Most of the time issues you're facing as a parent pass, many children outgrow any development delays they experience when they are young, quite possibly Jack as well.


    To read what I've learned about managing anxiety, Obsessive tendencies and encouraging speech development click here

    To read about our first assessment  click here

    Thanks to your support I have been nominated for VoiceBoks Blog Influencer of the year. If you have a moment please visit and vote for me and if you're feeling extra generous share this message:  http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ You can vote daily.



    Tuesday, 25 November 2014

    Peace, Love and Understanding

    With only a month to go until Christmas the pressure is starting to mount.  This is the third post in my holiday spending survey where I focus on some alternative and charitable gifting.  To read part one of my survey on holiday budgeting click here. To read my post about tips on saving money click here.

    Here are some ideas that are a little "out of the box" that I hope help you with your gift giving this holiday season from people who tried them first.


    Have you ever purchased an activity or event as a part of your holiday giving?

    "We prefer doing this instead of buying toys.  They get enough stuff from other relatives and we like the idea of having family time vs. just another toy.  We encourage people to do the same." says E.

    "I've bought theatre tickets and memories or events as a part of my gift giving for family, but not for kids yet." says G.

    "One year we bought a family trip to Cuba. It blew her mind and was totally worth it!" says KM.

    Have you ever participated in charitable giving instead of exchanging gifts?

    When I read the reactions to this question I immediately thought of Seinfeld's character George Costanza and his fake charity "The Human Fund" that he made up because he was too cheap to buy gifts for people and giggled a little.  I think the key here to making charitable giving a success is to balance it with other family traditions and make sure that everyone is on board to balance the spirit of giving to others in need as well as your loved ones.

    George Costanza
    "George Costanza" by anticharisma.com. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of George Costanza via Wikipedia



    "Nope, we're greedy and grinchy." says Uyen.

    "One year I bought a goat for a family in need for my extended family in place of regular gifting.  It wasn't really well received and I wouldn't do it again." says Plover.

    "Sometimes, I feel guilty saying this, but the charitable giving isn't quite as satisfying as seeing my child's face when they open their gifts." says KM.

    "One side of the family started a tradition where we only buy gifts for the kids.  The adults each take $200 per couple and donate it to a charitable cause in place of gift giving.  We alternate who selects the charity of choice.  It alleviates a lot of stress and you're putting your money towards a good cause." says P.

    Would you/do you have your kids participate in donating old/unused toys to help clear out clutter for the holidays and encourage a giving spirit?

    "We donate stuffed toys that never really get played with, but for the most part we just end up moving toys to storage.  We need to clear things out more often." says Needs a Nap.

    "I would donate, or sell items they've outgrown at a yard sale to make some money for the next year's holiday spending." says Plover.

    "This is a spring cleaning activity for our family." says K.

    I don't think it's really ever too soon to start teaching our kids about giving to others, whether it's donating old clothes or toys or purchasing items for kids in need.  How do you plan on teaching your kids about the holiday spirit?

    Thanks to your support I have been nominated for VoiceBoks Blog Influencer of the year. If you have a moment please visit and vote for me and if you're feeling extra generous share this message:  http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ You can vote daily.


    Friday, 21 November 2014

    Love Cats

    It's not really a surprise to anyone that I clock a lot of hours watching children's cartoons.  In fact Chris and I deliberately avoided watching cartoons or children's movies for a year or two before we had the minions because we knew that our consumption of kids programming was going to rise significantly once we became parents.

    As I watch more and more cartoons with Molly and Jack, I have come to the unsettling conclusion that creators of children focused media content hate cats.  I would like to vocalize my distaste for the villianization of felines within the cartoon world.  When you put it all together, the portrayal of cats as miscreants is overwhelming.

    taby cat in drawer
    This was my cat Pan (named after Peter Pan)
     He loved to hang out in Chris' underwear drawer, hardly diabolical.

    Cats are Psychopaths
    Si and Am from Lady and The Tramp are like a cartoon preamble to Natural Born Killers Mickey and Mallory.  Okay maybe that's a slight overstatement, however they sing a song about their plot to steal milk from, and presumably suffocate, a newborn baby.  They are greater antagonists to this story than the dog catchers, cause at least the dog catchers are doing their jobs, whereas Si and Am focus on mass chaos and destruction for their own personal amusement.

    Cats are Bent on Domination
    Cats are portrayed as motivated creatures who will stop at nothing to get what they want.  In Kung Fu Panda, Tai Lung (aka Bad Kitty as per Jack) betrays his master, Shi Fu, because the need for power outweighs the good in his heart.  Shere Khan terrorizes the world of Jungle Book because of his hatred of man and in turn protagonist Moglie, leaving Baloo and resident wet blanket "cat" Bagheera impotent to protect him.  Scar betrays his Lion King family in his quest for the crown and forms an unfavourable partnership with a group of hyenas that jeopardises the prosperity of their kingdom.

    Or at least side kicks to those Seeking Domination
    Cats are the side kick of choice to a super villain in need.  In Inspector Gadget, Dr. Claw had Mad Cat, in He-Man Skelator fought battles atop his trusty cat Panthor and even The Smurfs bad guy loser wizard Gargamel had his cat Azriel.

    orange cat in bowl chair
    This is a photo of our rescue cat Tweaker.  He was deaf and screamed a lot.
    As you can see he was clearly focused on world domination.

    Cats are Spoiled Sissies
    In Disney's cartoon version of Robin hood, Prince John is an indulgent, pampered tyrant who keeps his royal subjects in the poor house.  When things get tough he relieves his tension by sucking his thumb like a baby, so he's a joke - If Game of Thrones character King Joffrey has a Disney spirit animal it would be Prince John.  Cinderella serves four masters in her house, her wicked step mother, her cruel stepsisters and a big fat pampered cat named Lucifer (who is even named after the devil).  In the land of cartoons even the good cats are portrayed as wimps.  He-Man's cat Cringer is so fearful that he's constantly on the brink of a nervous breakdown, unless he is possessed by the Power of Greyskull and becomes Battle Cat.

    Cats are Crazy
    Maybe everyone is a little bit mad in Wonderland, but the Cheshire Cat (or as Molly says, "The Treasure Cat") is more than a few pickles short of a jar. In the world of reality, Alice's cat Dinah (bizzaro Cheshire cat) watches his master, Alice, fall down the rabbit hole with minimal effort to save her.  Dinah is no Lassie.  Madder than Wonderland's portrayal of cats is the way that cartoon sees the Hyena (yes they are cats, not dogs - I checked), stark, raving, mad lunatics, as portrayed by the hyena clan in The Lion King.

    I am aware that there are some outliers here and movies that focus on feline heroes.  What's the cat equivalent for "Every dog has his day"?

    To read 8 lessons I learned about business from Mr. Walt Disney click here

    To read about the black and white nature of children and cartoon teachings click here

    To read about violence in classic cartoons click here

    Thanks to your support I have been nominated for VoiceBoks Blog Influencer of the year. If you have a moment please visit and vote for me and if you're feeling extra generous share this message:  http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ You can vote daily.



    Wednesday, 19 November 2014

    Wednesday Morning

    I am going to try my hand at a wordless (or less wordy) Wednesday.

    Last night Chris and I had a chance to go out Christmas shopping for a couple of hours while Grandma and Grandpa (or the two Grandmas as Molly likes to call them - there are some issues getting the Pa out in Grandpa) watched Molly and Jack.

    We went to Goodwill and managed to get some sweet bargains.  I managed to get Jack a pair of black snow pants in his size for only $5.  How did I do on the holiday shopping?  I'm so glad you asked.

    For the description of the condition of my purchase I have used Ebay's Card Condition Grading Guide to communicate the level of wear and tear.




    One hardcover copy of Ian Falconer's award winning book: Olivia for Molly in near mint condition. 


    Image of Olivia Courtesy of Wikipedia.

    Retails at Amazon for $16.60, purchased at GoodWill for $3.04 - Total savings $13.56


    One soft cover copy of Robert Munsch's Alligator Baby for Jack in Average Condition.


    Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch
    Image of book Courtesy of a listing for the book on Ebay


    Retails at Amazon for $7.19, purchased at GoodWill for .99 - Total savings $6.20



    I hope I've inspired you on some of the merits of shopping pre-loved books!



    Where do you like to shop to save some money or buy used gifts?  What are your best money saving tricks?  Please share!  If you'd like to answer any of my holiday surveys drop me a line: multiplemomstrosity@gmail.com - subject line Holiday Surveys.


    Thanks to your support I have been nominated for VoiceBoks Blog Influencer of the year. If you have a moment please visit and vote for me and if you're feeling extra generous share this message:  http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ You can vote daily.



    Monday, 17 November 2014

    Penny Lane

    As we continue our quest to provide the minions with a fun and somewhat fiscally responsible holiday season, we are looking everywhere for ways to save a bit of moola.  This is the second part of my holiday spending series featuring a lot of ideas that can help all of us stay on track.  To read part one click here


    Christmas 2011

    Have you bought used toys, books or clothes for your kids as a gift? 
    Only about half of the people I spoke to have already incorporated or were open to the idea of purchasing used items as a part of their holiday gifting.  That being said, those who embrace the spirit of recycled or pre-loved gifts had some great feedback on getting value.

    "One year we bought a big Fisher Price castle set with all of the little people from a family that had posted it on Kijiji.  We spent a lot of time washing and drying everything, giggling and wrapping it up.  The kids thought it was amazing and didn't notice at all that it was used.  We would totally do that again." said Needs a Nap.

    "Yard sales are DA BOMB!" said Uyen.  I've personally seen a lot of near new, or never used items at garage sales, so they're a great option if you're willing to start your gift planning really early.

    This year I made a wish list of classic books, personal favourites and ones that received great reviews online that I can't wait to read to Molly and Jack.  I'm taking that list to our favourite used book stores and Good Will stores to see what I'm able to find to give to the minions from mom and dad!  Jack wanted some wooden puzzles for his birthday this year and a lot of used children's apparel stores (Once Upon A Child is one of my favourites!) also sell VERY gently used toys, books and puzzles, my mom was able to grab three puzzles for under $12 to give to Jack.  This stuff is in such good shape I know that there is no way that they'd ever accept any used goods from us, since the minions are typically pretty rough on their toys.



    What are some of your money saving holiday tricks that you have found most effective?

    "I like to bake for some people that normally I wouldn't buy for." said J.

    "Use cash.  If you don't have it, don't spend it." said KM.

    "Start shopping early.  That way you get sales and all the bills don't come in at once." said Needs A Nap.

    "Using PC points for groceries, not paying for shipping for presents for my family in another province. Buying through Walmart.ca and anywhere else I can get free shipping (saves me money)." said Plover.

    Chris and I have used air miles before for gifts or gift certificates to purchase holiday gifts, we've also set a family rule of only doing stocking stuffers for adults (gift maximum of $15-20 per adult). This lets us to get a little silly and/or go together on a gift with other family members for someone if we see something really special.  This is the second year we've had this rule for shopping with my in laws (and about the fifteenth year with my family).  All together it saves hundreds of dollars every Christmas. November is also a prime time to find some deals.  There are a few toy stores that offer gift cards back for every $40 or $50 you spend, we used our Mastermind Toys gift card from last year to buy some birthday gifts for our nieces and nephew this year.


    Where do you like to shop to save some money or buy used gifts?  What are your best money saving tricks?  Please share!  If you'd like to answer any of my holiday surveys drop me a line: multiplemomstrosity@gmail.com - subject line Holiday Surveys.


    Thanks to your support I have been nominated for VoiceBoks Blog Influencer of the year. If you have a moment please visit and vote for me and if you're feeling extra generous share this message:  http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ You can vote daily.

    Friday, 14 November 2014

    The Holiday Season

    I've been trying to ignore it for as long as I could, but it started before Halloween.  First it was a Christmas display at The Bay in late September, next they brought out the "festive" coffee sleeves at my morning watering hole and now with The Santa Clause Parade this weekend there is no denying it.  Winter is coming!  Okay, this isn't the world's most convoluted path to a blog entry about Game of Thrones, it's my acceptance of the fact that there are now only 40 days until Christmas.

    This year we're paying particularly close attention to our budget and making sure that our holiday celebration focuses on what's important to us, family, rather than just the commercial aspect of the festive season.  Over the next few weeks I'll be providing some information on spending habits, ideas on saving cash as well as holiday traditions.  The first in my series focuses on the financial aspect of the holidays.  Thanks to a little help from some wonderful people, here's what I found out on holiday spending.  If you've never thought about holiday budgets, I hope this starts a conversation that will make your holiday giving a little less stressful.

    holiday photos
    Christmas 2012



    HOLIDAY SPENDING TRENDS

    Do you have a holiday budget?
    About half of the people I spoke with don't have a set holiday budget, but most people try to keep tabs on what they spend.  Everyone I spoke with wishes they could find more ways to save money during the holidays as budgets can skyrocket into thousands of dollars when you include the costs of entertaining, food, gifts, greeting cards and travel.

    How do you pay for your holiday gifts?
    It was a pretty even split between cash, credit to fund their holiday spending. Most people try to use cash when they can to avoid an unpleasant surprise when the credit card statement comes in January, others cash in reward miles to save.

    What's most likely to break your budget or increase your spending significantly?
    "Last minute shopping.  If we can get out ahead we're better planned and spend less." said CH.
    "Santa breaks our budget on big ticket items." said Needs Naps.
    "If I see something that screams someone's name then I'm willing to go over budget."said J.

    How much do you pay (per child) for holiday gifts (including Santa and stockings - please provide an approximate breakdown for each if you have this)?
    People are generally spending around $200-300 for their own children and between $20-$100 for friend's kids, nieces or nephews.  Most people spend around $30-$40 on stockings with costs going up to $100 per stocking for folks who buy practical items like underwear and socks.

    Where do you shop for most of your kids gifts (Discount chains, online, local shops etc)?
    Online (Amazon), Ebay, Etsy, small independent shops in the neighbourhood, Chapters, Toys R Us, Target, Joe Fresh, Once Upon A Child, Good Will, Gap, Old Navy, Joe Fresh.

    Stay tuned for my holiday series posts on alternative gifts, saving money and staying on budget.  If you want to fill out one of my holiday giving surveys drop me a line at multiplemomstrosity@gmail.com

    Thanks to your support I have been nominated for VoiceBoks Blog Influencer of the year. If you have a moment please visit and vote for me and if you're feeling extra generous share this message:  http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ You can vote daily.

    Wednesday, 12 November 2014

    Hit Me With Your Best Shot

    Disciplining children is tricky, it's a controversial topic with no one size fits all answers. For the past month it seems that Chris and I have been victims to Jack's ongoing Karate Kid montage.  He has been hitting and kicking like crazy and despite our best efforts it hasn't seemed to have let up on its own.  Our focus on Jack and speech therapy continues to help him better express his feelings, but that doesn't provide much solace when you've been hit three times because you've insisted that, "No, you can't have Halloween candy for breakfast today."  After a recent assessment at Toronto Pre-School Speech and Language the assessor commented, "I don't know if he has delays, or if he's just being stubborn.  This isn't going to be a very accurate assessment." This commentary highlights one of our main struggles with Jack as we question, "Is he struggling with language or just being a jerk."  Truthfully the jerk genetics in my family are super dominant, ask anyone.


    baby goat cut out
    Our Billy Goat "Gruff"

    One of the items that stands tried and true when it comes to children is the importance of consistency. The big stumbling block that we hit (pun intended) is that Jack's karate kid moments often happen when we don't have the time to properly apply positive discipline.    When we are trying to get four people out the door at 7:30 in the morning, we simply don't have time for lengthy solutions.  I am fully aware that you don't use a band-aid on a gaping wound, but sometimes I need ideas that can help us keep somewhat on schedule until we hit an incident where we have some time for teachable moments.  Most of the time I don't need 20 minute solutions, I need 10 two minute ones.  It took some digging but here's what I've found.

    How to Assert Positive Discipline in Two minutes or Less

    1. Consider triggers and time of the day and avoid the trigger as much as you can - AKA Polly Wants a Cracker
      This one is easy when it comes to a hungry child.  My purse and our car has become a travelling buffet and about half the time we just need to get crackers into the mouth of Jack to calm him down.  Bed time can be adjusted if you're dealing with an over-tired child.   The big Everest here is dealing with morning meltdowns.
    2. Stop the Blow, But Don't Retaliate 
      Basically block the hit, reinforce (as calmly as you can) that we don't hit and walk away for a minute or two.  In the mornings I generally use this time to get Molly ready because it gives Jack a chance to settle down a bit.
    3. Model Good Behaviour
      This one goes against every fibre of my being when I'm trying to get out the door and have just endured an upper cut to the jaw over insisting that my child wear socks.  We noticed a while ago that Jack often goes for affection after he's hit or kicked one of us and clearly he's struggling with getting positive attention and communicating what he needs.  Try saying "Hugs not hits", give a hug and then walk away.

      corn maze
    4. Redirection & Distraction
      Basically avoid eye contact, remove them from the situation  and let them calm down.   Another option is to offer them something to distract them.  "Look at this book while I go get you some apple juice, because you must be thirsty".  Leaving the room to focus on another task for a minute not only works on them, but it will help you chill out too.
    5. Time-Outs
      We usually don't have time for them in the morning (or more than one or two), but they're still an option.  Dr. Sears suggests saying, "If you hit, you must sit."  Since toddlers (especially mine) are big fans of rhymes, this will help them remember.
    6. Don't Demand an Apology
      This is another one that is tough for me.  I want him to be sorry and I want an apology, but when you're both frustrated all that this does is waste even more time.  It's suggested to delay this conversation, "Later you might tell your child, "That really hurts" or "That hurts my feelings. If I have done something to hurt your feelings, I would like to know about it so I can apologize. When you are ready, an apology would help me feel better." suggests Dr. Jane Nelson.
    7. Tag, You're It
      Sometimes when we really need to get moving it's best to have the other person tag in - if/when you can.  If they're not "mad at daddy" they're more likely to let him help them into their coat.  This also gives the other parent a chance to calm down.
    8. A Cool Drink of Water
      When the tantrum is over, offer a drink of water or a face wash.  If you're still heated have one yourself.  This will literally give your child a chance to cool down. (resist the urge to throw said water in their face and yell, "Snap out of it")
    9. Encourage Gentle Play 
      This is more modelling.  If you notice little Billy is beating the crap out of Teddy Ruxpin, suggest he hug him or give him a kiss instead.
    10. Counting Game
      Count backwards from ten and remember this too shall pass, and likely be replaced by a different, equally annoying behaviour.  

    What works best for you to stop unwanted behaviour from your toddler or pre-schooler?

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