Monday, 30 June 2014

Proud to Be a Canadian

When I was in my late teens/early twenties I was taken aback by all of these people, usually guys, who were branding themselves with very "Canadian" tattoos.  The number of variations of maple leafs, flags and other iconic Canadian imagery blew my mind - particularly since I didn't feel very patriotic: and how "un-goth" is a tattoo that is bright red, white and perky anyway?  As the years passed and I spent more time outside of Canada and over 12 years in jobs that focus on helping both Canadians and internationally trained professionals begin their Canadian careers, my love and patriotism grew.  There is something drawing people to Canada, a lot of it being the warm hearts of a population that welcomes so many. I don't think I'm going to run out and get some red and white ink tomorrow, but my heart is definitely home.

My Canmerican friend's patriotic tattoo.

In Celebration of Canada's 147th Birthday Here are 47 of the reasons why I am proud to be Canadian:

  1. I don't care what they say, Size does matter and Canada is huge!  Canada is 9984670 km² and the world's second largest country
  2. People call it monopoly money, but they're just jealous of our rainbow coloured bills, don't even get them started on Canadian Tire currency!
  3. Ambiguous Spelling.  Sometimes we like to spell the UK way sometimes US, if you call us on it, you're wrong, but we'll be polite about it
  4. We name our Adirondack chairs by the province: in Alberta they're called "Camps", in Ontario "Muskoka Chairs"

  5. This land is your land, this land is our land: Canada's population density, at 3.3 inhabitants per square kilometre (8.5 /sq mi), is among the lowest in the world. 
  6. We're too cool for rhyming...even in the alphabet song, "zed" is a letter I assure you
  7. Diverse Population: Today, immigrants represent over 20 percent of the total Canadian population, the highest proportion among G8 countries
  8. The way we obsess about weather.  It's as if we are an entire nation of meteorologists

  9. Openness to culture, religion, sexual orientation and sharing our experiences.  When I look around Molly and Jack's daycare and see flags from all over the world and crafts coordinated by the ECE workers celebrating where they came from and what their traditions are it makes me so happy to know that they are being taught love
  10. Landscape Diversity: Canada has 288 mountains, 3 oceans bordering, prairies and 561 lakes to explore

  11. The insane decadent one upmanship of food offered at the Canadian National Exhibition.  Who is ever going to forget chocolate covered bacon or the Cronut Burger (even if it did make people sick)
  12. The documentary Let's All Hate Toronto
  13. They're called Beaver Tails, not Elephant Ears
  14. Degrassi: The Street, The Jr. High, The High and The Next Generation
  15. Maple Syrup - I can't wait to take the kids to Pioneer Village to experience this for real
  16. Alexander Keiths - Canada's answer to Guinness for "National Beer"
  17. Totem Poles

    Totem Poles Stanley Park

  18. Terry Fox
  19. Douglas Coupland, Mr. Generation X, Mr. Canada.
  20. Hockey Night in Canada may have been the only thing that kept us and Molly sane during colic
  21. Our love of big things as road side attractions.
  22. Montreal Steak Spice
  23. Red Rose Tea
  24. Patio season
  25. The Canoe

    attempting a portage over a beaver damn

  26. Our celebrities make wine: Dan Akroyd, Wayne Gretzky
  27. Ketchup Chips
  28. Our Health Care System: After having twins via C-section and seeing the care that my father received post-heart attack, I heart Canadian Health Care
  29. Parental Leave: Although I'm a little bitter that I didn't get 100 weeks because I had two kids at once, being able to spend 13 months at home when Molly and Jack were first born was amazing
  30. Gay Marriage
  31. Canadian Music: Feist, Sloan, The Stars, Metric,Tegan and Sara we love you all!
  32. Craft Beer: My personal all-time favourite is Moncton's Blueberry Cream Ale
  33. Canada has more clean water than any other nation
  34. Bryan Adams
  35. Poutine
  36. Loonies and Toonies (or shrapnel in my pocket as our Welsh friend likes to call it)
  37. Kinder Surprises
  38. Jedi is an official sanctioned church in Canada
  39. The Log Driver's Waltz
  40. Canadian Bacon, and regular bacon - we really like bacon
  41. Jack Bower is really Canadian (so is his daughter)
  42. Our apologetic nature: We are so sorry for Nickelback, Justin Bieber and Rob Ford
  43. Anne of Green Gables
  44. Narwhal - Unicorn of the Ocean
  45. Leonard Cohen
  46. The people who live here, want to live here and are proud to be from here!

What makes you most proud to be Canadian - please share!

I have been nominated for Voiceboks 2014 Multiple Parenting Blog Awards - If you have a moment to spare: Click Here Now and cast your vote for Multiple Momstrosity #27, it's the little heart icon that pops up in the top right hand corner that registers a vote NOT clicking on the photo.  If you follow any of the other blogs or enjoy them like say HDYDI (#21) you can vote for them too - you can vote for up to five different blogs daily.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Deuces are Wild

Dear Molly & Jack,

I wanted to thank you for your bad behaviour last night when I was out for the evening at a work event and your father was taking care of you solo.  In the past when your dad takes care of you alone, you've behaved immaculately for him: you listen at daycare pick-up and drop off and don't run screaming into the path of moving cars on the road, you share with each other and don't fight over who got a bigger bowl of raspberries, you keep tantrums to a minimum and you refrain from drawing on the walls with pen (yeah I noticed that).  You make smaller messes and behave so your father can manage to run three loads of laundry, get the kitchen cleaned and sweep the floor with ease.  Usually when I return home your dad breezily comments on how easy you guys are to look after and how he doesn't understand why I find his business trips, conferences and other outings to be a struggle at times.  This makes me feel like I am both insane and incapable of parenting and maintaining a house that isn't a giant garbage dump of toys, crumbs and sippy cups.  Seriously why do you guys have so much stuff?

Twins at Jeff Healey Playground
Molly and Jack are both in this picture...their faces blend together (and people think they don't look alike)

But not last night, last night you brought it. When I returned home at 11pm, I found your father sprawled out on the couch, in a sweaty heap of exhaustion watching The Green Mile on cable TV. (As an aside Chris will often watch Tom Hanks movies when he's out of sorts - I can't tell you how many times I've seen Forrest Gump.  It's like his equivalent of a pint of Ben & Jerry's) The house reeked of compost and hot garbage because he was too tired to manage a tidy-up and hadn't turned on the air conditioning, laundry lay in the hall way in heaps, a casserole a friend dropped off was sitting on the kitchen table because he couldn't manage to get it into the fridge or freezer and the dishwasher had not been unloaded or re-loaded.

Turns out, when your father finally managed to get you into bed you stayed up a while and both decided to strip off all of your clothes and diapers.   When you had to go to the bathroom, you didn't call dad in to tell him you had to go potty, because that would be too easy.  Instead one of you decided to drop a deuce in the centre of the nursery floor (which he is almost certain you "handled") while the other thought that showering the sheets in urine was highly necessary.  Dad was unthrilled to say the least.

I'll admit it would have been nice to return home to a pristine house that had been cleaned by my husband while the children acted like they were inside a Norman Rockwell painting, but there is something to be said about being able to act smug and justified while you unload and reload the dishwasher at 11PM to ensure that your army of sippy cups are clean for another day.

Thank you to both of you for giving your father a sampling of "the mommy collection" last night and making your mom feel a little less insane.


I have been nominated for Voiceboks 2014 Multiple Parenting Blog Awards - If you have a moment to spare: Click Here Now and cast your vote for Multiple Momstrosity #27, it's the little heart icon that pops up in the top right hand corner that registers a vote NOT clicking on the photo.  If you follow any of the other blogs or enjoy them like say HDYDI (#21) you can vote for them too - you can vote for up to five different blogs daily.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Wizard

Today I received some wonderful news.  I was nominated for the 2014 Multiple Parenting Blog Awards via Voiceboks.  What makes this extra exciting is that How Do You Do It? Moms of Multiples Tell it Like it Is, a site I contribute to, and several of its other regular contributors have also been nominated for their individual blogs!  For the next 32 days I'm competing head to head against a bunch of very talented writers - some who I already know and follow personally.  Whoever nominated me and my favourite multiple parents, thank you so much for taking the time to put Multiple Momstrosity forward.  Also thank you to Molly and Jack for filling our lives with the 4 Es of parenting multiples (or any children):  Expensive, Enriching, Entertaining and Exhausting.

Every year Chris and I host a euchre tournament, where friends enjoy some drinks and cards....This past year one of the participants created a Wizard Staff out of his empties (made a giant walking stick out of beer empties and duct tape to "celebrate" his drinking prowess).  Surprisingly, Molly and Jack did not stir the entire evening of the tournament.  The next morning Molly and Jack awoke to discover the spoils...behold some photographic evidence as to why this is NOT a nomination for parent of the year.

Wizard Staff
 "I knight thee Coors Light of The Junction"

Wizard Staff
Yes, Molly is playing horsey with the wizard staff.

This is where I need your help as readers, friends, parents and bloggers!  The rules of this contest are fairly strict: 1 vote per IP address per day period and no shenanigans/giveaways or promotions to solicit votes.   Here's my pretty pretty please with sugar on top request:

Any of the following four things would help me get closer to my personal goal of making the Top 10! -

  1. Click Here Now and cast your vote for Multiple Momstrosity #27, it's the little heart icon that pops up in the top right hand corner that registers a vote NOT clicking on the photo.  If you follow any of the other blogs or enjoy them like say HDYDI (#21) you can vote for them too - you can vote for up to five different blogs daily.
  2. Vote daily or whenever you think about it.  If you're at another computer, cell phone or new IP address you can vote again.
  3. Send an email or three to a few friends, fellow parents, relatives, people you think might enjoy reading about the minions and include this link: asking them to cast a vote for Multiple Momstrosity #27. 
  4. Tweet, Post Facebook Updates, Google Plus things and share the word on the interwebs about how people should vote for Multiple Momstrosity:
Fellow Bloggers, if you could give me a shout out to get your readers to check me out and vote for me...well that would be pretty great as well!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


Chris and I bought our house in the fall of 2008.  As we entered the world of hydro bills, property taxes and buying adult things like new windows and weren't quite sure what to expect, we tightened our belts a little.  Part of this process involved us hibernating over the winter and watching the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from start to finish.

I was a complete newbie to Buffy and her Scooby Gang, whereas Chris was already a die hard fan anxious to introduce me to Sunnydale.  I spend a lot of time thinking about role models for the minions and TV that is entertaining peppered with a side of life lessons.  I am looking forward to re watching Buffy when Molly and Jack are old enough!

7 things that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Taught Me About Life

Below are 7 Things That Buffy The Vampire Slayer Taught Me About Life

Please note - this list is riddled with spoilers, but come on Buffy's been off the air for over a decade now so if you really cared about what happened you would know by now!

Sometimes You'll Give Your Heart To Someone and They'll Turn into a Monster
"We’re not friends. We never were. And I can fool Giles, and I can fool my friends, but I can’t fool myself. Or Spike, for some reason. What I want from you I can never have." Buffy
This is almost anyone's worst nightmare and  happened to Buffy quite literally after Angel experiences a moment of true happiness and becomes Evil Angel - which is both terrifying and amazing (the first few times it happens).

Don't Forget to Bring Mr. Pointy
"This is my lucky stake. I have killed many vampires with it. I call it Mr. Pointy." Kendra
Life is easier when you show up prepared: Whether it's bringing a stake to slay vampires or a pencil to take notes.  Always be prepared.

You Don't Get to Choose Your Family, But Take Good Care of Them
"Killing things with wood? Ooh, scary vampires--they die from a splinter." Dawn
Dawn is arguably the most loathed character on Buffy, but as much as everyone loves to hate Dawn she's still Buffy's sister (kinda, sorta) and Buffy steps up to take care of her and bail her out of trouble because that's what big sisters do.

Bad Things Can Happen for No Good Reason
"It's stupid! It's mortal and stupid! And, and Xander's crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why." Anya.
When Buffy loses her mom to a brain tumour in season 5, there's no demonic force behind it, it's just life taking someone away early.  Buffy is thrust into the adult world and has to cope with it just like anyone else, slayer powers or no slayer powers.

You Can Be Your Own Worst Enemy 
"Well, we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but, gosh, we did that last night." Xander
My absolute favourite season of Buffy is season 6 because most of the problems the Scooby Gang faces aren't Hell Mouth related they are of their own making and feel very real.  Willow faces addiction and turmoil in her relationship with Tara, Buffy struggles to make ends meet financially and people like Joyce and Giles aren't around to provide sage advice and ground them.

Sometimes it Takes a Good Friend to Save You from Yourself
"It must be really hard when all your friends have, like, superpowers; Slayer, werewolf, witches, vampires; and you're, like, this little nothing. You must feel like Jimmy Olsen. " Cordelia to Xander
In the end of season 6 the hero is Xander (the one with no supernatural powers) who reminds Dark Willow of who she is and who she can choose to be when she's spiralled out of control.  I had a friend do the same for me when I was laying on the floor listening to Tom Waits on repeat during a particularly bad break up, not entirely apocalyptic, but relatable.

You Can Be Who You Choose to Be and Don't let Anyone Tell You Differently
"Yes, it’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after." Giles
One of my favourite things about Buffy is it's examination surrounding characters and their evolution throughout the series, particularly Spike, Angel and Anya who struggle to fight their demons figuratively and directly every day.

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Friday, 20 June 2014

Who Let The Dogs Out?

One spring day, many years ago, a seven year old Sarabeth was playing outside at recess in a small wooded area outside of her school* when the bell rang signifying the end of recess.  On her way to the doors she planted her sandalled foot smack into the middle of a giant pile of dog crap.  Her left foot, sandal and shin were covered in dog feces.  When she asked her teacher if she could go to the washroom - she was denied because she should have gone at recess.  When she tried to explain what had happened, she was cut off and told to go sit at her desk for a math lesson.  Forty-five minutes passed before she was permitted to go and scrape, the then hardened, sh%&t from her legs.  She was livid.

toddler with wolf statue
Pick up after your dogs people!

Something inside seven year old Sarabeth changed that day forever and from that moment on I refused to be denied access to a washroom because of the whim of an authoritarian.  Essentially I became scholastically disobedient** over certain rules that I felt were ridiculous on a regular basis.  This became the most common thing that I was disciplined for at school.  I refused to take no for an answer at a request to go to the washroom, or grab a sweater from my locker when I was cold.  In high school I was given a detention for calling a teacher by his first name after he blocked me from getting into my locker and made up some sort of childish rhyme about my name. That day when I arrived at detention and he asked me to write an essay about respect I am certain he didn't know how I would respond.  I wrote a concise 500 word essay about why he didn't deserve my respect. The incident was never mentioned again and that was the last time I received detention.

A few weeks ago I came across an article that infuriated me.  A third grade teacher decided to teach their class the value of money by implementing a monopoly like game where students could earn money for treats and snacks OR use it to "purchase" hall passes to use the washroom during class time.  Not surprisingly kids were buying popcorn, peeing their pants and getting teased by their peers after being forced to wear gym shorts all afternoon.  Of course the parents of these children are furious about the issue.  The teacher has since been removed from the classroom and is being investigated.

Maybe some of my rage about this system has to do with the fact that I haven't spent countless hours watching toddlers use a potty only to have my work undone by some teacher who decides that they are going to show my kids about life in the "real" world.  Perhaps it's that most children and plenty of adults I know would also fail this bastardized version of the marshmallow test and select confections, wine or beer over a hall pass to the washroom - it's not like you get more candy for saving your money. Or, most likely it's because it brings me back to that primary school washroom wetting paper towels to scrub away the dog poo.  I learned a lot of things from my teachers and parents and was always respectful of my elders - when they treated me like a human being.  I think I would just encourage my children to save up their monopoly money so they could spend the afternoon in the washroom or buy a ton of candy and go Linda Blair all over the floor.  But what do I know, I'm just the little girl with dog crap on her leg.

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*I recognize that I make it seem like there was some sort of Enchanted Forest behind my primary school.  I assure you, there was not.  It was a small gathering of trees divided by a path that made it perfect for playing capture the flag.
**The grade school version of civil disobedience.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Rump Shaker

Like a lot of people I am trying to fit a little more exercise time into my daily routine.  I pretty much embody the Good Life fitness ads where people talk about working out so they can keep up with their kids (AKA stop them from their imminent death when they decide to run out into traffic AND be able to use the monkey bars at the playground without getting winded all in the same day).  Don't get me wrong - I am also hoping that my increased efforts also gets me a little more toned for summer.

In March I decided that I was going to attempt the 30 day plank challenge where I would build my core (alongside Chris) by gradually increasing my time planking from day one at 30 seconds all the way up to five minutes on day 30.  As nice as it was to have Chris's support planking beside me I found myself increasingly frustrated that his fast metabolism had given him a definition line down the centre of his core by day seven while all I had was a sore back.  We both got up to day twelve on two separate occasions before we both threw in the towel, the first time because of the flu (both minions and ours) and the second time because the idea of planking for five minutes seemed like an impossible feat.  Our day 13 rest day became a permanent rest day - twice. Essentially the plank challenge became my Everest.

About two months ago I bought a FitBit pedometer to track and increase my daily steps by fitting in walking whenever I can: be it getting off the subway a stop or two early, a lunch time walk or trip to the park with the kids.  I've been trying to reach and exceed the fitness industry recommended 10,000 steps a day as often as I can.

Then I decided that I wanted another challenge that wasn't too time consuming and  didn't seem as daunting as the 30 day plank challenge.  Enter the 30 Day Squat Challenge, a fitness challenge that would take me from day one at 50 squats up to 250 by day 30.

30 day squat challege
Image courtesy of  

Below is the brief annotated summary of how I did:

Day 1- This is totally easy...until the last ten.
Day 3 - Okay, it kind of feels like someone has used my thighs as a punching bag.
Day 5 - Since when were squats a cardio workout? Answer: TODAY  So out of breath!
Day 9 - This morning Jack saw me doing squats.  He immediately giggled and pointed at me.  Eventually  he joined in and did squats beside me.  He grunted loudly and shouted, "I'm pooping mama!" while I finished up.
Day 13 - Today was a really tough one...I'm really starting to break up the numbers into sets of 20-25 squats at a time with small rest breaks in between to ensure I don't lose my form.
Day 16 - I got complimented today by a coworker on how nice my new pants were...they are not new, but apparently are fitting better - YAY squats.
Day 17- I'm finding myself obsessed with checking out other people's butts...I assume everyone with a nice butt is doing squats because they have to be, right?
Day 18 - I cheated and only did 100 squats because I ran out of time and wanted to drink a beer in front of the Veronica Mars movie.  I'm not going to lie, it was worth it!
Day 22 - Just completed 185 squats.  By 70 I was hurting, by 100 I was breaking sets down to 15, by 150 sets of 5.  Today was the toughest day so far, wanted to quit so badly, but didn't.
Day 25 - I totally screwed up here and was convinced that I only needed to complete 210 squats instead of 225.  Tomorrow's will be even harder to complete, I'm certain.
Day 26 - Okay that wasn't so bad.
Day 30 - Mission complete!

If you need inspiration view Thought Catalogues 8 Best Songs about Butts.

I didn't take a before or after picture because I didn't think about it until day 11 - so there is no specific photographic tracking of my legs and tush - sorry and you're welcome!  That being said the most important thing to me was that I was actually able to complete the challenge.  I didn't lose any weight, however I noticed a lot less wiggle and a lot more tone in my legs and butt. I am very pleased to report a significant decrease in leg and butt cellulite - probably a better claim than any firming cream can make.  I am so happy with the results that I decided to embark on my next 30 day challenge, although I'm not ready for my Everest Plank Challenge quite yet.

What's Next:
This month I'll be undertaking the 30 Day Little Black Dress Challenge along with my continued dedication to getting more than 10,000 steps a day.  I will be modifying the challenge slightly to increase the number of squats and add in some weights for the squat portion of the challenge so as not to lose my momentum.  Wish me luck...I'll be recording my huffing and puffing and whining for your reading pleasure next month.

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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Once Upon A Dream: Movie Review Maleficent

One of my favourite things to do while we're on vacation (or staycation) is to catch an afternoon matinee while the minions are at daycare.  Last week we had a chance to go and see Maleficent with my parents.  We haven't ventured to a theatre with Molly and Jack yet, but were told that this movie might be a little too scary to be their first full screen/surround sound experience.  Below is my review.

Movie Review: Maleficent

Movie review Maleficent

Boy meets Fairy and they form a fast friendship that borders on romance, despite the fact that they come from two completely different worlds.  The boy grows up, becomes obsessed with obtaining the crown and lets his ambition get the better of him.   When he betrays his old friend, she vows revenge.

Best Parts of the Movie
Despite all of the post-feminist critiques I heard (and stopped reading) prior to seeing the film Maleficent aces the Bechdel test exploring a variety of female relationships.  A visually appealing movie where Jolie helps define the role of antihero to the bubble gum pink princess generation of the 2000's.   Lana Del Ray's version of Once Upon a Dream embraces a haunting take on Disney's original theme.

Worst Parts of the Movie
The movie is a modern take on a fairy tale and can be easily compared, with some predictability, to trailblazing reimaginations like Wicked.  Even though Maleficent is derivative of the "other side of the coin" formula for a fairytale including a (SPOILER ALERT Don't read on in this paragraph if you don't want to hear more about what happens in this movie and Frozen) reinvention of True Love's kiss that wreaks of Anna and Elsa.

When would I Let Molly and Jack watch this movie?
The movie itself is a little dark with a sublimely beautiful costume and set design that I wish Tim Burton could have captured for Alice in Wonderland.  I would say that the theme is a little mature, but not scary.  If Sleeping Beauty continues to be one of Molly's favourite movies I would consider letting her watch this at home when she's around six or so - as long as an adult was around to hit pause and offer an explanation when necessary.  As things stand now with Jack and his wild imagination I would hold off on showing him this until he was at least eight.

Overall Rating
I would rate this movie 4/5. It's predictable in content but the charm of Jolie and cast alongside stunning set and costume make up for it.  As an aside: I predict that Maleficent will be one of this year's "IT" Halloween costumes.

To read my review of Bad Neighbours click here
To read my review of Muppets Most Wanted click here

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Daddy Dearest

I want to dedicate my father's day post to my father who had a heart attack last week while stealing home at a baseball game in a game where parents challenged local pre-teens.  He was rushed to hospital, had to have a stint put in, an external pace maker and essentially scared the crap out of all of us.  In typical papa style he wasn't out of surgery for more than half an hour before he wanted to confirm with me that I had in fact received his answers to my father's day questions for the blog and boasted to all of his children about what a great game he had played that evening.  He was also insistent that Chris and I still go up north for a couple of days to the cottage we had rented with the minions because he knew how much we were looking forward to our time away with our kids and he was, "just chilling" (his words I swear).   After delaying our trip we decided to listen to the man, but only once the doctors said he was recovering well and we knew he was getting better when he expressed his concerns over the WiFi situation at the hospital because he didn't want to miss any of the World Cup.  The hospital doesn't permit or encourage visitors under 12 so we have been visiting without Molly and Jack.  They are going to have to wish Papa a Happy Father's Day over the phone even though Jack is asking to visit Papa hourly.  A special thanks to all of the hospital staff who have been missing their Father's Days to ensure my dad gets better and has access to this afternoon games on his iPad.

Below are some of my favourite answers to the Father's Day Questions I sent out last week featuring answers from many of the dads I know, including my husband and my own dad - all of the words below and the actions I see from all of the dads I know have made it very clear how much being a parent means to all of you.  Happy Father's Day!

father and daughter horseback riding
 Me and my dad - I don't know why I remember this but the horse I am on was named Bam Bam

What important life lesson have your child/children taught you this year?

Mike (father to two daughters): Patience, and that I don't have any.

Martin (father to pre-teen son and pre-school daughter): My children have taught me to take the needed time to listen to them. It can take a long time, especially with my pre-teen, but patience pays off.

Chris (my husband - father to twin toddlers): I’ve learned to prioritize things.  I used to obsess about work, bringing extra work home on the weekends, etc.  Now, there’s no question that if I can be spending time with my kids, that is my absolute highest priority.  When I have something to do that I can’t bring my kids, I try to plan it to minimize the impact it’s going to have and maximize the face time I get.  I enjoy my children far more than I ever thought I would.

Piper's Dad: Pay attention to your surroundings.

Ben (father to one year old son): You're going to be tired whether you maintain a social life or not. So, better to keep the social life and at least have fun while you're tired. Find a good sitter and use the heck out of 'em.

What is your proudest parental moment?  

My dad (Father to three grown children, four grandchildren): For you specifically, that you grudgingly took and legitimately passed grade 12 math - only for me, as you often point out.  Other than that, I can't think of just a proudest moment, but rather an on-going pride that all of you have a strong work-ethic, are tolerant of others and think for yourselves AND that you have chosen partners with the same qualities (the better to raise our grandchildren with).

Chris (my husband - father to twin toddlers): Having my very first real conversation with my daughter stands out as a really special moment.  I also love watching my son work at figuring something out and having him solve a problem, oftentimes things that I would never think possible.

Martin (father to pre-teen son and pre-school daughter)When I see my 11 year old son and 3 year old daughter play together nicely.

What is your least proud parental moment?

From my dad (Father to three grown children, four grandchildren): Maybe it's senility, but I can't think of a least proud moment, unless you want to remind me of something.

Chris (my husband - father to twin toddlers): Least proud moment would have to be standing in line at the grocery store and seeing an old woman slip and fall down in a pool of my daughter’s vomit because the cleaning staff didn’t get there fast enough.

Mike (father to two daughters): Every time my patience runs out and I just get frustrated.

Ben (father to one year old son): When I decided that a questionable piece of avocado was probably still good.

strawberry shortcake toys, strawberry house
This photo is from Christmas morning...can you feel the magical holiday excitement?

What is the strangest thing you've caught yourself saying/doing with or explaining to your child?

Mike (father to two daughters): Explaining how Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person. Also teaching the kids the proper use of the word "awkward!" 

Piper's Dad: When we go to the grocery store and I talk to her about everything we're going to buy and where different fruits and vegetables come from.

Ben (father to one year old son): Catching myself wondering if cat food really does taste good?

Chris (my husband - father to twin toddlers): Conversations about the “differences” between boys and girls have been fun and typically very amusing.  The questions and comments coming from the kids are so candid and honest.

Martin (father to pre-teen son and pre-school daughter):  Creating a double braid for my daughter’s Rapunzel doll.

To view my two Father's Day Posts from Last year click here and here

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Read All About It - Book Review: We Share Everything

My parents are in the habit of taking advantage of their senior discount at the local Goodwill to keep us well stocked in a variety of children's books.  A couple of months ago they grabbed us a book that became a fast favourite: We Share Everything by Robert Munsch.

Book review We Share Everything by Robert Munsch
Book cover image care of Scholastic

Why We Bought It
Growing up my younger brother was a big Munsch fan so anything by Munsch, whether we already have it or not is on my parents must buy list when thrift shopping.  When we get duplicates we pass them along to friends or have a spare for when the minions decide they need to sleep with and systematically destroy  a favourite story.   Munsch trends towards repetitive themes and words which the kids love repeating.  This helps them (Jack in particular) build their vocabulary.

Book Summary
Amanda and Jeremiah are used to getting their own way until they enter kindergarten and learn that being in kindergarten means that we share, "We share everything" - even pink pants (which may also explain why Jack adores this book.)

The verse provides an easy story to read out loud to children with many opportunities for them to "read along" to choice quotes.  Jack in particularly loves the onomatopoeia sound effects in this and any Munsch book.  Try to say BLUMPH and GAWCK without smiling, I dare you!

What Molly and Jack Think of the Book
The kids request this book daily.  We hide it sometimes because we read it so often and often trick visitors into reading it to the kids so we can get a break.

Ideal Age
I'd say this book is best suited for kids 2-5 years old.  It would be a great gift for a child who is entering pre-school or kindergarten for the first time.

What We Paid for the Book:
My parents bought this book for 99 cents.

Would Recommend for..
A classic favourite.  Good for any preschooler or kindergartner collection.

Overall Rating
5/5 - it's not Munsch's fault that Jack requests this book daily, sometimes more than once.  On another note, Jack is convinced that Munsch is my father and screams "PAPA" whenever he sees the author photo on the back of  cover.

To read my book review of Oliver Jeffers Stuck click here

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Monday, 9 June 2014

In the Garage

My husband has always been a huge fan of garage sales and it's something I've never quite understood.  There is something about haggling over someone's once cherished personal belongings in their driveway that's always made me a little uncomfortable - I felt the same way when we were house hunting and the owners were home while we toured.  We've only ever held one garage sale with the purpose of raising some money to pay off our wedding, that was nearly 10 years ago and I vowed to never hold one again for two specific reasons 1) The bizarre middle aged man who purchased everything we were selling that had wheels on it for his own "personal pulley invention".  His likeness to a cartoon super villain plotting something evil was uncanny and I was not impressed with helping him in any way shape or form and 2) Chris immediately went to another garage sale after ours was over and purchased a giant set of neon orange lockers with our earnings making the entire sale pointless.

For years now I've groaned every time we walk or drive by a garage sale and Chris "just wants to check it out for a minute" until this weekend when I have to admit I got a little smitten with the idea of how much money we can save on some items that we regularly purchase for the minions.

toddler bat girl, toddler superhero
Bat Girl - Playing with some magnets

Below are my 6 money saving tips for garage sales for your children

  1.  Recycled Halloween costumes can be bought for dress up clothes, next Halloween or a few years down the road for a fraction of the cost you would pay in October.
  2. Know the difference between actual value and perceived value...It doesn't matter if the book is brand new if it isn't very good, same goes for buying things like used bikes and wagons that the seller puts a premium on because they've decided this is how they're going to get their money's worth.
  3. The more room that the item takes up in the sellers garage/basement/yard the more motivated they are to get rid of it.  This increases your buying power - which is how we managed to get a Dora the Explorer set of folding chairs, table and sun umbrella for $5.
  4. You can bundle services with your Internet and cable provider, do the same at a sale.  People will often give you a discount based on the volume you purchase.  Hello 4 DVDs for a dollar!
  5. The early bird may catch the worm, but the later bird catches better deals because the seller just wants to go inside and move on with their day.
  6. Don't be afraid to walk away...granted this is harder to do when your toddler has fallen in love with the item and physically won't let go.  
To look at ways to raise money beyond a yard sale click here

To look at ways to cut household costs click here

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Friday, 6 June 2014

Pour Some Sugar On Me

Diabetes Awareness Part 2
This is the second installment of  a multi-part series that includes the perspective of Martin and his 11 year old son Rehan and life after Rehan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  To read part 1 click here

diabetes wordle
Image courtesy of Yale Scientfic Magazine

How has diabetes impacted Rehan's participation in social activities/sports and school?
Once he recovered from the dramatic weight loss before his diagnosis we have tried to keep Rehan participating in extracurricular activities as much as possible. That usually means that we have to go along with him to help him manage his blood sugar. In the case of Scouts, this has meant that I go with him to scout camp to supervise his blood sugars. Even for school field day trips his mother goes with him. As he learns how to manage his condition better over the next few years he will have more and more independence.

What is the biggest misconception of Diabetes you and Rehan have faced since his diagnosis?
We have been very fortunate to have highly supportive friends and family. Most people just know very little about the disease, rather than having misconceptions. Often people are aware of treatment methods using injections only once or twice a day with dietary restrictions that are now considered out of date.

What was your biggest misconception as a parent?
Before our son was diagnosed I thought that diabetes was caused by sugary food and drinks. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease cause mostly by genetics combined with an unknown trigger. There is nothing known that anyone with Type 1 diabetes could have done differently to prevent, or even delay getting it.

Have you faced any roadblocks in educating teachers, parents of friends and coaches?
One huge issue we face is the lack of an Ontario wide school policy for diabetes. Each school board seems to have it's own policy that is often badly worded and incomplete. One of the medicines that Rehan carries with him everywhere is Glucagon. If he has an hypoglycaemic event and passes out it needs to be administered immediately, similar to an EpiPen for peanut and bee sting allergies. Unfortunately our school board has a policy of not administering this life saving medicine to my son, and instead wait the 20 minutes it will take for a paramedic. We are working with SOS Diabetes on the lobbying effort to fix this before an Ontario child dies due to these poor policies.

What's the craziest thing you've ever been told about diabetes, the weirdest thing anyone has said to you?
I think the craziest thing I have heard is that my son's teacher is not supposed to administer the life saving medicine to my son should he is pass out and clearly need it.

What have you learned from this that has made you a better parent?
I have a much better perspective on things. There are things that need to be done, and things that don't need to be done. With a child who suffers from a chronic life threatening condition, the boundary between these two is a lot clearer. I need to give my son the medicine. He needs to be supported to not hate the disease and refuse or interfere with treatment. These are important things. The other day he forgot his lunch at home. I had to drive 45 minutes there and back from work to go and get it so he could have it for second nutrition break. In the past this would have been a big deal. Now this is just part of life and the "new normal".

What advice or resources would you recommend to parents of children who have just received a diagnosis?
I would highly recommend that parents of newly diagnosed children reach out to local and Internet based resources for information. In particular in Canada the work of a group called 'I Challenge Diabetes' stands out as exceptionally supportive. But also the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JRDF) and the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) or the American Diabetes Association (ADA) outreach programs are critical. There are numerous parent support groups on the internet and on Facebook

Stay Tuned for Part 3 where we'll get Rehan's perspective.

To celebrate his 40th birthday and run for the cause Martin is running a 5KM to help fight the disease iva JDRF.  To find out more about the JDRF click here.  To support Martin click here

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Time Bomb

The other day it occurred to me that the minions are seriously misinformed about a number of realities of the world and even though we often try to correct them, they insist on their own unique versions of reality.

Below are 10 truth bombs that I would love to lay on my toddlers, should they ever believe me and it not completely shatter their worlds. 

Leslieville Flea
Jack and a "doggie" aka wolf statue at Leslieville Flea Market

10 Truth Bombs I Would Love To Lay On My Toddlers

  1. Any man with grey hair over 55 is not your Papa or Grandpa.  This became particularly awkward when Jack tried to sit on a friends father's lap because he wanted to spend time with his grandpa. 
  2. Just because the guy who installs the new hot water heater is a tall Eastern Asian man who kinda of looks like a friend of ours doesn't mean that they're the same person.  I'm pretty sure that he doesn't want to play with you and thinks you're a little bit racist.
  3. Those aren't your "Elmos" they're your elbows.
  4. Those aren't my "elbows" they're my breasts.
  5. Whenever you tell me that you're, "never going to cry again" I don't believe you.  Also when you're laying on the floor throwing a tantrum screaming, "I'm not a baby!" you're kind of being a giant baby.
  6. Your stuffed Bunny isn't really a bunny, it's a dog.  Sorry.
  7. That picture at Nana and Grampa's is of a Polar bear, not a dog.
  8. Your concept of ownership is ill conceived: The last time I checked that is not your car or your house, but we can share.
  9. Your assortment of candles, candle holders, wine corks and contact cases are not actually toys, they're random objects that you've collected like some sort of weird hoarder.  When you ask other kids to come over and play with your "toys" they will likely be disappointed.
  10.  That old man with the big bushy white beard who wears a red t-shirt and hangs out smoking in front of the local legion/recreation club is usually drunk and definitely NOT Santa.

To view my list of 7 Amazing Things Toddlers Believe About Their Parents Click Here

To view my list of 11 Ways to know You're A Grown-up Click Here

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Monday, 2 June 2014

T(w)eenage Dream

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend the afternoon in Malibu Barbie's dream house?  Or get a make-over from Clueless's Cher Horowitz?  Look no further.  A couple of weeks ago my brother's fiancĂ© K and I took my niece to Glama Gal Tween Spa as her sixth birthday present.  We purchased her the Mini Inspiration Spa Sampler ($30) and signed ourselves up for two Dessert Manicures (also around $30 each).

When I asked my niece if she wanted to choose a "stage name" for my blog review she informed me that I should refer to her as Olaf throughout my review, her second favourite character in Frozen, after Elsa - apparently the minions aren't the only Frozen fans in the family.

Review Glama Gal Tween Spa

The Decor:
The pink, black and white design that is embellished with candy displays, inspirational quotes and fake chandeliers looks like a collaboration inspired by Marie Antoinette, Barbie and Avril Lavigne. (I am almost certain that I am dating myself with the Avril reference).  This is what I imagine Candy Mountain to look like.

Glama Gal Tween Spa
Note the modern day version of "Tiger Beat" that my niece was reading. 

Our Spa Experience:
We were greeted at the spa entrance by the receptionist/manager who led us into a room where my niece was fitted for sparkly spa flip flops and where we were all given matching monogrammed robes.  We were then led to a room where the chairs were in the shape of high heeled shoes where we could indulge in Pinktinis (pink lemonade), mini cupcakes and select our nail colours.  A few minutes later one of the Glama Gal staff, a teenaged girl, came to greet Olaf for her pedicure.  After a lengthy discussion about how amazing Katy Perry is, the spa put Perry's latest album on just for Olaf.  

Glama Gal Tween Spa high heel chairs
The most comfortable high heels ever!

When Olaf's bubble gum pink pedicure was complete the Bath Bomb Sommelier presented a wide bouquet of  bath bomb scents for us to select from.  We respectively chose orange, grape and Tutti-Fruity.   We were then escorted over to a large counter where another Glama Gal joined us to help with the manicures.  First we soaked our hands in our fizzy bath bombed water.   We were then presented a giant bowl of hand scrub made to look like an ice cream Sundae for us to rub all over our hands and then rinse (hence the term "dessert" manicure). Finally we were given express manicures.  The staff took us all through some fun and dramatic diva inspired ways to wave our nails dry.  Note: Glama Gal Spa doesn't clip or trim nails and cuticles.  

After a few minutes of drying, Olaf was ushered to a giant circular couch so she could select lip gloss and perfume to complete her Spa Sampler package.  The staff then gladly posed for pictures with Olaf and presented her the opportunity to select a gift from the swag wall if we agreed to post something about our experience on their Facebook page.  Olaf selected a sparkley hair band.

Glama Gal Tween Spa pedicure
Fuschia Toes!

Best parts of the Experience:
The young ladies at the spa were wonderful, approachable and truly made Olaf feel like Queen for the day.  It was like being at an elaborate sleepover held by your best friend's "cool" older sister.  The spa offers everything from Mom and Me Packages to Sweet Sixteen Parties (complete with photo shoot) to Toddler and Tiara Parties. When I asked the staff about reactions to the spa, our Glama Gal told me that sometimes girls at parties get so happy they weep with excitement and don't want to go home.  Essentially it's like being at a New Kids on The Block Concert circa 1990.

Olaf's Review:  
When Olaf was asked what the best part of the day was, she simply replied: EVERYTHING! 

Glama Gal Tween Spa manicure
Olaf decided to alternate between pink and black for the manicure.

Value for the Money:
 I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate Olaf's birthday with her.  That being said I think there is an age expiration date for this spa experience.  As an adult I'd opt to bring a second child rather than partake in the dessert manicure again just because a high school student isn't quite capable of  providing me with the salon services that I've grown accustomed to as an adult.  Later that day I received a text from K informing me that her hands smelled like a "baby prostitute", but it didn't matter because we'd made Olaf's weekend.

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