Friday, 30 January 2015

My Favourite Things

Most of the time I have a few "break in case of emergency" items in my mom purse, which right now is shockingly smaller than I'd like it to be.  Lately, I've been forced into carrying a Wonder Woman "side bag" in addition to my purse to hold parenting supplies (acetaminophen), books and my lunch for work.  Note: there isn't anything wrong with Wonder Woman, she's awesome - it's just I need a new, larger purse.

When we're out with the kids and forced to wait at doctors offices, the subway to pick up dad or in the queue at the pharmacy (ahem) while I wait for my much needed birth control prescription, the kids can get a little nutty.  Sometimes the book I have in my bag, or box of raisins that's been sitting there for nearly a month isn't going to cut the mustard, so it's time to release "the big guns" and bust out the phone or tablet - something that we try to avoid most of the time.

elmo chair
Miss Molly "inspecting" some diaper cream on her Elmo Chair.

Oprah is allowed her list of favourite things, this is Jack's list, of things that will distract him when you need it the most.  They usually work on Molly too, but she'd never request them.  Behold, three parental "life-hack" videos to get you through the line, mostly, tantrum free (no guarantees).

Elmo Song - This break in case of emergency tune is perfect when you need three minutes of time.  I busted this out last weekend at the barber when Jack didn't want the to use the electric razor on him. It was the perfect lengthed distraction.

If Jack is feeling a bit cranky, Domo Hungry always makes him laugh.

We came across this one by accident because of Jack's affinity for the Gingerbread man in Shrek. Chris hit the "Googles" and found Jack's new favourite, the Classic story, The Gingerbread Man, as read by The Office's John Krasinski.  Once it is done, you generally get served a five to ten minute game where you pretend to be the fox while Jack runs away from you giggling, "You can't catch me, I'm the Ginger Cookie Man".

I hope I've bought you three minutes (or nine minutes if you parcel these all together), made you and your little one smile and avoided a tantrum.

What are your parenting hacks (digital cheats) to get 5 free minutes?

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Raise Your Glass

A while ago a friend sent me an article about the challenges of kvelling, Yiddish word that means bursting with pride or bragging.  The article speaks to being a parent of a child who isn't the "traditional" academic achiever, star athlete or beauty queen, but has faced hurdles that other kids don't have to.  This is something I have struggled with when sharing parental victories about Jack, because we celebrate different things for him, even compared to what we boast about Miss Molly.  I am so incredibly happy for my friends' children's achievements and want to celebrate alongside them, I find that sometimes when I share about Jack surrounding some of our challenges, progress and wins I get a look of pity when all I want is that same level of support.  I am damn proud of both of the minions and bursting with pride.

As many people who follow my blog or are an active part of Molly and Jack's lives know we have been spending a lot of time over the past year working with Jack on his language, emotional and social development.

Yesterday was his mid-point check-in meeting with the daycare staff and his special needs consultant who has been working with him twice a week for a number of months now.  I tend to go into these meetings with butterflies in my stomach about how my little boy is doing. I know with all children there are peaks and valleys in behaviour and development.  It's just that from my limited exposure to parenting it feels as though that the pendulum tends to swing farther in both extremes for Jack.

beer garden Evergreen Brickworks Toronto
Jack and Chris at Brickworks

I am happy to report that I received the most positive progress report that we've had since we began this journey with Jack a year and a half ago following his first assessment.  Jack and everyone around him has worked so hard to help get him here and I am so incredibly grateful.  Jack's obsessive tendencies have been on the decline and he is now one of the kids that the other pre-schoolers seek out because he's so much fun playing games and using his imagination in the drama centre.  Jack's transgressions seem to be lasting for a day or two compared with the week or two we were seeing just a few months ago.

Jack has become very aware of his own and other people's emotions.  During our review I was told a story about Jack from last week, following a particularly challenging session with his support worker, where Jack got frustrated and yelled at her.  He told her that he wanted her to leave him alone, that he needed a break and that he was angry at her.  I can't believe I'm excited at this, but this is such an improvement from rolling around on the ground and freaking out.  He is using his words when he's pissed off, which is a huge leap for him.  After his session was over, he had lunch and then a nap.  When he woke up from his nap he told one of his ECE workers about how he had yelled at the development specialist and had been mean to her.  He said he wanted to apologize with absolutely no prompting from an adult and because she had gone home and he couldn't say sorry, he only felt better after the ECE worker told Jack that she would send an email letting the specialist know that Jack wanted to say sorry.

I know there is still some work to do, and I'm so happy that Jack has been such a willing participant, doing most of the heavy lifting with a huge support group.  I also know that there will be bad days, bad weeks and tough transitions.  Onward and upward to Jack finally mastering toilet training before we start the next major change in our lives when the minions go to kindergarten next fall.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Garden Central

It's no secret to anyone that we, the royal we as in my entire brood, have been fighting the winter blahs.  This past weekend we planned a get together with the cousins and wanted to do something that would let the kids play and wouldn't cost an arm and a leg.  It seems as though my plea for some indoor parks has been temporarily satiated with a trip to a green house in downtown Toronto called Allen Gardens (less than a ten minute walk away from College Subway).  Allen Gardens is a park that hosts a free indoor botanical garden with six greenhouses in total.  It is open year round and added a bit of colour to our day.  We stayed for about 45 minutes before we moved outside for a quick play on their brand new playground situated behind the playground (I will write a review on the playground another time).

This is a popular location in the core of the city for people to get wedding and engagement photos, mainly because it's open from 10-5pm daily and it is nice and warm inside, year round.  The greenhouse also holds some nostalgia for Chris and his sister who would often visit when they came to Toronto for March break when they were kids.

Allen Gardens Greenhouse Toronto
 Making our way to the Greenhouse, there is some construction in the area, so not all of the entrances are open right now.

Allen Gardens Greenhouse Toronto
 Entering the First Greenhouse.

Allen Gardens Greenhouse Toronto
 Jack said his favourite part of the greenhouse was the toy train. 

Allen Gardens Greenhouse Toronto
 Molly checking out all the flowers.

Allen Gardens Greenhouse Toronto
There was some "discussion" about how we weren't allowed to pick the pink flowers.  The minions had to be reminded on a few occasions about the hiking adage: take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Allen Gardens Greenhouse Toronto
The other big "hit of the day" was the pond that had turtles and fish in it.  

What's your favourite way to beat the winter blues with the family?

Monday, 26 January 2015

Dog Days are Over

I've been thinking a lot about the month of January and why I'm not super sad to see it come to an end.  First our furnace broke, resulting in a pricey repair. I'm not going to pretend that Chris and I have been stellar on the furnace maintenance, we've been downright abysmal, but we've certainly paid our toll on that front.  Furnace maintenance will become a part of our mantra...lesson learned.

 Last week Chris and I both had a particularly draining work week where we were both clocking serious time, both in the office and at home at night.  Because of our schedule we were taking the minions to daycare earlier than usual.  This also meant it was dark outside during daycare pick-up and drop off.  One morning, when Molly asked Chris why it was so dark outside, he told her about The Dark Days of January, and talked about how cold it is, how there isn't a lot of sunlight and how sometimes this makes people feel sad sometimes.

baby with soother
Molly chillin out at 3 months.

For the past few weeks, in the evening, we have been subject to terrible moods from Miss Molly. There has been a lot of sulking in the evenings when she doesn't get her way, which sucks when we only get a few hours with her on weeknights. We figured it was just a phase and crossed our fingers that it would pass quickly. Then I read something in Cure for Boredom, a blog I follow, about the author reviewing old blog entries and discovering that January and February are particular months where pep talks are required to help her trudge through these dark days of winter.

This got me wondering about possible trends in Molly's moods, so I went back and looked at previous January's to see if there were any patterns.  If last year is any indication, it would seem that Miss Molly does not like January.  In 2014 the month brought us her bout of "The Go Aways", my fears that Molly was possessed by Batman's nemesis and her declaration of war on pants - and this was just what I was compelled to write about.

Even though the pouting and sulking isn't my favourite...knowing that Molly is quite possibly suffering from a case of "The January's" (kinda like the Mondays, but a whole month of them all at once) has made it a little easier to be abit more patient and understanding, most of the time.

Daycare hosted a Pajama Day on Friday, where all of the kids could wear their favourite PJs and Molly and Jack wore their matching teddy bear housecoats.  This seemed to lighten her mood and bought us some higher spirits for the weekend.  Only one more week until January is over.  Molly says, "good riddance!".

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Friday, 23 January 2015

Body Movin'

It's been a cold, but dry winter so far in Toronto.  Trust me, I'm not complaining about the fact that we haven't had to bust out the shovels too much, but this also means that we haven't been out tobogganing or building snowmen either, much to the chagrin of the minions.  I was speaking to a friend of mine the other night about outdoor time in the winter and kids - he grew up somewhere warm and was saying he couldn't imagine a winter without a lot of outdoor play time. Kids and adults could all use some more time in the fresh air or at least more activities that get our hearts pumping this time of year.  Most schools and daycare programs have rules where when the temperature dips below around -5C (23 degrees F) it's time for indoor play. I consider us very lucky to have Molly and Jack in a daycare that hosts a large outdoor playground for when it's nice outside and a large gym type area for indoor active play.

hiking with baby carriers
It's easier to stay active when it's nice out.  Hiking with our carriers and some great family and friends while we camp.

As most people in Canada know, Target announced that it was closing up shop north of the border. They are liquidating inventory and stores will begin closing in the coming months.  According to BlogTO, "The chain's 133 stores (including nine in the GTA) will be shut down this year, leading to the loss of 17,600 jobs across the country."  There is going to be space at malls all over Canada that is vacant again (we miss you Zellers!).   Apparently there has been interest from Good Life Fitness to look at this space, which is great if you're someone who has time to hit a gym regularly.  Most of my winter exercise is indoor, after dinner, via a DVD while the kids watch Dora on the TV downstairs. For me this means more gyms, unless they are ones that have classes that run in my area,fit into my schedule and offer Hatha yoga, don't inspire me much.   My needs are very specific, but there is very little that will get me out to an exercise class and away from Molly and Jack on evenings and weekends.

This week I saw an article in Metro News  that I wish I'd thought of myself because it's such an exciting concept.  The article is a request for more indoor parks, maybe with some playground equipment to fill in these huge vacant retail spaces.  It spoke about needing a place that isn't necessarily a pay to play indoor playground (I would still love to see more of these in the city), but something with greenery, maybe some playground equipment where kids can be kids and we can all get a little more active.  If in a mall this could allow for parents to divide and conquer some shopping while everyone gets a little more healthy.  If city sponsored this could also be great.

I know this is pie in the sky and not something that is necessarily financially beneficial to the people who are looking to lease property in Canada, but it would be nice to imagine a place where we canall going to be a little healthier in the winter.

Anyone who has any suggestions for physically driven indoor winter activities for families that don't break the bank....I'm's so cold out and the kids are climbing the walls, sometimes literally!

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015


There is a new favourite book in our rotation that Molly and Jack are going nuts for.  It was a Christmas present from Santa and has been requested regularly.  This past weekend, on a cold and blustery day, I thought it would be fun to incorporate some Pinkalicious baking into our afternoon story session.

Book Review of Pinkalicious by sisters Victoria and Elizabeth Kann

pinkalicious cupcakes

Why Santa Bought It
Molly's two favourite colours are pink, yellow and sometimes purple (depending on the day).  This must have seemed like an ideal choice.

Book Summary
Main character "Pinkalicious" loves pink (duh) and on a rainy afternoon when her mom suggests they make cupcakes she insists they make them pink.  The problem is, Pinkalicious can't get enough of these cupcakes and doesn't stop eating them, even after her mom and dad tell her she's had enough. When she wakes up the next day she discovers that she's turned pink.  After a diagnosis by her paediatrician it's determined that she has pinkatitus, something that can only be cured by eating a lot of green food. What's a pink loving girl to do..... Parental note: I'd like to speculate that the cake mix used in this story was bought at Willy Wonka's factory judging by it's magical and diabolical qualities.

The book is an easy and fun story to read out loud to children.

When I suggested to Molly that we each eat a piece of cucumber or broccoli before enjoying "Pinkalicious" cupcakes (to make sure we didn't turn pink) she suggested that I make some of the cupcakes green instead....Yup, outsmarted by a three year old.

What Molly and Jack Think of the Book
While this present was for Molly, Jack has been requesting we read it just as much as his sister.

Ideal Age
School Library Journal suggests that this book is best for kids pre-school age to grade two.  I'd agree, but maybe shorten the top end of the spectrum to grade one.

What We Paid for the Book:
The book currently sells for $11.28 on Amazon

Would Recommend for..
A fun story, with a moral at the end about how being yourself is the best thing to be.  I think we may be buying another book in this series for the kids for Valentine's day, likely Goldilicious because it has a unicorn in it and I mean come on, unicorns are awesome!  I would also buy this book as a gift for another child down the road.

Overall Rating

I guess we ate too many cupcakes (aka the icing ran).  Jack enjoys his pink fingertips.

To read my review of We Share Everything by Robert Munsch click here

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Neon Tiger

When I was in grade one or two, I can't remember which, there was a little boy in my class: let's call him T.  T was a fairly average, quiet boy with shaggy brown hair and no particularly notable characteristics as a fellow classmate, the exception being his penchant for a majestic grey tiger sweatshirt that he wore on a daily basis and often paired with a set of jogging pants.  T had it bad for this shirt.  Looking back from the perspective of a parent I can only imagine the amount of time and energy T's caregiver(s) would have spent laundering this prized article of clothing or whether they opted to have a closet full of grey Tiger Sweatshirts like he was some sort of super hero.

Photo day approached at our school and our teacher seemed hellbent on emphasizing the importance of looking nice for our class picture.  She made a point on singling out T and his majestic Tiger shirt in front of the class, lambasting him that a dress shirt and slacks was appropriate for photo day and a certain sweat shirt with a giant feline on it was not.  Even at seven I recognized how inappropropriate  this teacher's behaviour was, but hey this was the same lady who made me wait close to an hour post recess before she let me scrape dog crap off of my leg.  Teachers in the 1980s got away with stuff that they'd be disciplined for in two seconds flat today.

majestic tiger
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

On photo day T showed up for school in a pair of black patent leather dress shoes, grey dress trousers and a white button up shirt.  Over top he had the perfect "accessory".  He didn't wear a sweater vest, he didn't wear a blazer, he wore his trademark Tiger Sweatshirt. Well played T. you glorious seven year old bastard!

In less than a month Jack and Molly will participate in my brother's wedding.  The amount of braveness put forward by my brother and his bride by inviting not just one, but two toddlers into their wedding party is truly touching, albeit insane.  Molly is very excited about her participation in the wedding and looking forward to wearing an adorable dress as the youngest of four flower girls. She has excitedly tried on her dress many times and talks about how my sister E will put "brains" in her hair the day of the wedding (she really means braids).  The only outfit "snag" I foresee so far has to do with a request I received last night about which "princess gloves" she is going to wear at the wedding.

Jack is another story.  There have been several issues of comprehension towards his role as ring bearer.  The first one came about two months ago when he announced, "I'm going to be a ring bear, ROAR!", next he had a complete temper tantrum when we went shopping for a suit for him to wear at the wedding, where he yelled over and over, "NO MORE HALLOWEEN!" at the top of his lungs.  The act of trying on clothing in a store, particularly "costumes", has not gone well with Jack since this past October. We reluctantly purchased a cheap pair of dress pants, vest, shirt and tie.  Weeks later we had him try it on again, to which we endured the same response along with him frantically attempting to tear off his shirt like he was Clark Kent turning into Super Man.

We have spoken to the bride and groom about this set of circumstances to get their feedback. Essentially we can force Jack into wearing the suit, but odds are that he's going to roll down the aisle screaming and stripping himself all the way.  Thankfully, I think we've all come up with a solution that will work for everyone.  A special thank you to D & K for allowing for Jack's Tiger Spirit Animal to fly. Only time will tell what happens with the princess gloves.

To read about Molly and the leggings debacle click here.

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

(What's the) Story Morning Glory?

I am a morning person.  Not the type of morning person who wakes up at the crack of dawn, or never hits the snooze button, but more the type who is wide awake, somewhat coherent and perky shortly after they awaken, to the point where it annoys others.  As a child, in a family full of self-proclaimed night owls, I was often told to stop singing at the top of my lungs at first thing, because in my mom's words, "It's way too early for you to be so loud!  Take it down a notch."  I'm also fairly certain that I was the reason for my parents rule that on weekends, unless the house was on fire, you can't leave your room until 8AM and you can't wake up mom and dad until at least 9AM.

As I grew up I learned to be lower key in the morning for the sake of those around me, particularly before they enjoyed their morning coffee.  This prepared me for life with my husband, Chris, one of the crankiest morning people I have ever met, someone who gets annoyed if he runs into someone he knows on the subway in the morning because, "It's too early for jibber jabber".  The thing is, Chris is somewhat capable of getting himself ready in the morning.  His offspring, Jack, is not. In fact more than a handful of ECE workers have told me that they actively avoid interacting with Jackie Bear (aptly named) until he's been awake for at least twenty minutes post nap.

baby in dino hat
Dinosaur Jack, His bark is far worse than his bite!

So, how do you wake a bear, and get him ready for daycare in the morning in fifteen minutes or less?

  1. BE VERY VERY QUIET....make sure that parental unit(s) are completely ready for work (i.e. lunches packed, make-up on) before beginning operation "POKE THE BEAR"
  2. If you have other, more morning positive children, get them ready before the bear.
  3. Lay out clothes in advance...maybe have a second set ready for when they randomly refuse to wear a shirt because it's yellow.  Hunting for socks in the morning is a huge waste of time.
  4. The most convenient thing about a child crying about not wanting to brush their teeth is that they've opened wide so you can provide "the assist".
  5. I often get Jack ready while he lays on the bed offering him the promise of two or three minutes of sleep if he cooperates, passive resistance I can work with.  It's when he starts undressing and telling me to, "Scwam Wabbit" that we run into issues.
  6. Be prepared for subtle manipulation.  Sometimes Jack goes in for a hug, which is nice, but he's really just trying to fall asleep again.  
  7. Don't engage in ridiculous arguments, it just wastes time....of course he can't have gum drops for breakfast, just ignore these requests and carry on.    
  8. Some juice and crackers in the car can double as "breakfast", particularly if you know they're being fed again at pre-school in half an hour.
  9. Pick your battles...If he wants to wear PJ's to school let him, princess costume, why not?...I let Molly wear a house coat to daycare one day and it inspired a monthly Pyjama day...cause we're trendsetters like that.
  10. Understand that they will make you late, especially on Wednesdays...

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Hold On

Nine months of the year Chris and I try to be as active outdoors as we can with the minions.  We go on hikes, we check out new parks, we go on evening walks, you name it, but during the winter we have a tendency to hibernate.

As a child I had two favourite childhood memories, 1) going to the local skating rink during Friday night Public Skate where my friend T. and I harassed the workers into playing one side of our Dirty Dancing Soundtrack cassette while we pretended that we were Baby and Johnny Castle (AKA Giggled maniacally and skated around) followed by hot chocolate and 2) Tobogganing for hours, also followed by hot chocolate.  Chris' favourite winter childhood memories have to do with cross country skiing along a frozen creek while listening to Wilson Phillips Hold On.  Chris and cross country skiing really has nothing to do with this post, beyond me enjoying picturing my adolescent husband singing, "Some Day Some body's going to make you want to turn around and say goodbye" at the top of his lungs in some Southwestern Ontario parkland while he cross country skis.

My concern lies with the fact that many places, townships etc. are banning one of my favourite childhood winter activities: Tobogganing.  What's next, a hot chocolate ban?  A Wilson Phillips Ban?

snowy tree

I understand that tobogganing poses a greater accident danger risk than say, puzzling, but I also know that there is very little that gets me, or my children, outside and active in the winter and that hitting a hill for an hour or two on a crisp clear day is fantastic exercise.

I am a firm believer in modified "free-range" children.  Basically we try to eliminate the most dangerous items and situations from the minion's reach, but we let them take calculated risks to expose them to a smidgen of Darwinism/ the concept of "THAT IS REALLY NOT A GOOD IDEA!"  I think some of this has to do with my obsession with the show Bubble Wrapped Kids that I watched fanatically during the first year of Molly and Jack's life.

All of that being said, I'm still going to take my kids tobogganing and think that this is an amazing winter activity, especially when you take the correct precautions.

Here are some suggested safety tips, which include a lot of common sense,  for an enjoyable tobogganing experience (Please note: I assume no responsibility for some of the ridiculous stuff that other people's children do):

9 Common Sense Tobogganing Safety Tips

  1. Only toboggan during daylight (or on a well lit hill).
  2. Always sit or kneel facing forward.
  3. It is recommended that children under five are accompanied by an adult, or at least a big kid who can help them navigate the hill.
  4. Select a hill with a gradual slope, no obstacles (i.e. trees and large rocks) and make sure there is ample room for stopping at the bottom.
  5. Inspect your sled for wear and tear before you go out. Check to make sure that the brakes work.  Don't use a cracked or broken sled, just throw it out.
  6. When you reach the bottom of the hill, GET OUT OF THE WAY OF OTHER SLEDDERS.
  7. If the hill seems too crowded, it probably is.  Go somewhere else.
  8. Helmets are recommended for adults and children, but especially children.
  9. Leave your pets at home.  No one needs to worry about Lassie's whereabouts while they're hurtling down a hill.
Click here to read 9 important things to note when sledding with toddlers.

Click here for a listing of 10 places to toboggan in Toronto.

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Spoonful of Sugar

Before Chris and I had children, in the winter months, we started a "dinner and a movie" date night that we participated in every other Friday. Essentially how the date night works is that you alternate turns where one person selects a movie and prepares an appropriately themed dinner to go along with it.  Chris is much better at the dinner and movie selection than I am.  Personal favourites: Casablanca with a Moroccan Feast including sweet mint tea, The Godfather with spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread and red wine, or Cool Hand Luke with Southern fried chicken and a dozen hard boiled eggs.

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to make more memories with the minions and this is one of my first attempts.  Most Sunday evenings we've been enjoying a movie together as a family.  This weekend I decided to add a little more inspiration to our choice and offer Dinner and a movie for Mary Poppins. I wanted to ensure that I plan something that the kids will eat (or at least try) and that isn't so work intensive that it was going to take up my entire afternoon.

Behold our Mary Poppins inspired side dishes!

penguin eggs, edible penguins
Hard boiled Penguin eggs - made using black olives, carrots and tooth picks.

cheese umbrellas
Babybel Cheese "Umbrellas" (striped bendy straws can also be used).

spoon full of sugar Mary Poppins dessert
Dessert was a spoonful of sugar (Some leftover holiday chocolate that I melted, poured onto spoons and topped with sprinkles).

Other things to consider to pair with Miss Poppins: Mary Poppinscorn or Soupercalifragilisticexpialidocious Soup (preferably with alphabet noodles).  

Overall the kids enjoyed Mary Poppins, particularly the cartoon parts and the songs, but the movie was a little long for them to handle in one sitting, about half way through they abandoned to go make a pillow fort on our bed.  I'd forgotten, and was pleasantly surprised by the self-proclaimed no-nonsense sass that makes Mary Poppins so fun.  The kids ate most of the theme food, and the biggest hits were the penguins and chocolate spoons.  Molly licked her plate clean, sprinkles and all. 

To read my review of Saving Mr. Banks Click here.

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Friday, 9 January 2015

12:59 Lullaby

Over the December break Jack got sick.  For five days he had a fever that spiked randomly, a low appetite and a trace of a cough.  Fortunately, we were off work and able to endure some sleepless nights as we nursed him back to health shortly after New Year's.  One of the common side-effects of having twins, or multiple children of any age, is that they rarely get sick at the same time.  They have a tendency to stagger their illnesses leaving us with what seems like week after week of grossness.

On Monday afternoon, my first work day post holiday, Molly was sent home with a fever of 101.5. That night her fever neared 104.  In the first week of the new year Chris and I have each already been forced to use personal days and Nana and Papa have taken two shifts with Miss Molly.

beach blanket baby
Taking up a lot of bed space, even at 10 months old.

During the course of both of these illnesses (AKA the 13 days of the winter of our discontent (17 days if you count the bronchial cough I've been fighting)), we've sacrificed something very important to us, our adult bed, to sick minions.

It always starts out the same way.  After several awakenings to tend to a sick (or nightmare riddled) child you decide that it would just be easier to let said child sleep in your bed as you surrender to your state of chronic exhaustion.  As a person who has inflicted this unnecessary ordeal on themselves several times over the past fortnight, I give this warning: DON'T DO IT!  Go downstairs, go to a couch, take shifts....just don't let them in or you'll regret it.

10 reasons why letting your child into bed with you is a terrible, horrible, no good very bad idea:
  1. 30-35 pounds of child doesn't seem like it would take up a lot of space, but it does when they starfish (sideways) across the bed pushing you into the outermost corners.
  2. You are berated with constant beverage demands.
  3. The above-mentioned beverages are either consumed loudly or poured all over your bedding, or both.
  4. You are kept awake with conversational gems like, "Mom, that's a light on the ceiling" which apparently needs a response.  As does the question, "Do you like cars?"
  5. If you ask Chatty Cathy (or Cliff) to be quiet and go to sleep, they will cry that you are being mean to them.
  6. You might as well be Goldilocks in a pot of porridge as you get the sauna treatment of a fevered child pressed against your back, followed by a visit from the duvet thief who cocoons in your sheets and blankets while you shiver.
  7. At four o'clock in the morning your child will call for something they've lost in the bed.  You'll tear everything apart looking for said item so they'll go back to sleep, only to discover they've been holding it in their hands the entire time. 
  8. Your back will hurt, because you'll discover (when you get into bed the next evening) that you were sleeping on a blue toy car.
  9. Squatters rights.  As soon as you let them into your bed one night, they'll ask again, and again, for weeks, hoping you'll give in.
  10. You finally settle into a child-free bed only to discover there are crumbs everywhere.  It appears that not only your child, but also the Keebler Elves and six boxes of cookies must have made it into your bed last night.  
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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Free to Be Me

Raising twins, I thought identity questions would come up surrounding Molly and Jack's twinness. Molly and Jack are very well aware that they are twins, siblings, share a birthday and that being a twin is special, however I don't think they attribute their multiple status as a huge factor in their sense of self.  We've always made a conscious effort to allow them to dress how they want, to avoid comparing them directly to each other and to call them by names more often than "the twins".

We've all been working with Jack a lot over the past few months on his emotional and social development (including the ECE staff at our daycare, speech therapists, family and friends). All children begin to develop a "self-concept" between the age of 18-30 months of age, using labels about who they are and how they feel in very concrete terms. Three to five year olds are not generally aware that someone can be a good person that has done "bad" things as this doesn't really fit into their black and white world.  Pre-schoolers also begin to incorporate their "remembered self" into their self definition as they grow and their long term memories become a part of their identity.   It seems that our work is paying off and all of a sudden Jack has a ton of questions, tests and labels he's using to assert his own self-concept and esteem that he's working out inside his head, and I thought I'd share.

Say My Name
In early December Jack became smitten with another child at daycare who shares his name.  Each day he was adamant about welcoming "little" Jack to daycare, playing with him and then giving him a hug good night each evening before he went home.  This fast friendship, which seems fairly unrequited and seems entirely based on the fact that they share a name.  Now that we're into the new year he doesn't seem quite as interested in playing with "little" Jack, but it was an interesting phase nonetheless.

101 Jacks
At the beginning of the holiday season Jack insisted on being called Jackaroo, a few days later he was Jackie Bear, then Jack Attack, a week after that he was Jack and the Bean Stalk.  The way he was taking control of his name has been interesting for us.  Personally I favour Jackie Bear, but it's my pet name for him, so I'm partial to it.

I am Not.
Recently both minions have been asking me questions about what they are not.  One morning Jack said to me, "I am not Kung Fu Panda, right?" and I confirmed that he was not Kung Foo Panda.  He later followed up with, "So, I'm not Tai Lung, right?" Then last week Molly wanted confirmation that she was a little girl and not a puppet.  I suppose determining who you aren't is an early step towards figuring out who you are.

Colour-Coated Babies Showing Emotion
Molly has a game she's played for several months now in which she developed a "character" named Pink Baby.  Pink Baby crawls around pretends to cry and announces that she is Pink Baby, yeah that's all the game is.  Pink Baby has also given various other people in her life baby titles: I am 'Purple Baby', Chris is 'Green Baby' and Jack is 'Brown Baby'.  Both children call us Mom, Dad and by our baby names on a regular basis.

One night a few weeks ago Jack insisted on bringing a Build-a-Bear stuffed monkey to bed with him. This monkey was a given to us by a friend who had received it from an ex-girlfriend.  There are two unique things about this monkey: 1) it wears a Ryerson Engineering helmet 2) if you push his arm you are subject to a recording of the ex-girlfriend calling out our friend's name over and over and over again.  Jack spent half an hour post story-time pressing the monkey's arm, repeatedly.  Finally Chris went upstairs and firmly told Jack that if he kept pressing "E" Monkey's arm that he would confiscate it.

Suddenly Jack was inconsolable.  For nearly two hours he described his emotions to us, while he sobbed.  It was strange, yet highly adorable, as these descriptions all happened with Baby Titles, i.e. "Brown Baby is sad." "Green Baby is mad at Brown Baby." "Green Baby hurt Brown Baby's feelings".  Suddenly Jack was talking about his emotions and other people's emotions in a much more complex way, even though it was under the guise of  "Brown Baby".

Stay tuned for what unfolds next...

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Monday, 5 January 2015

Just One Look

On New Year's Day a couple of years ago I stumbled across a blog entry from The Bloggess where she shared the weirdest search terms that people had entered into a search engine to get to her blog.  This is incredibly entertaining and a very interesting way to look at my own tags and the random ways that people stumble upon Multiple Momstrosity.  In 2014 nearly 65,000 people visited my blog, I hope a lot of these people are return visitors, Google Analytics assures me that about 60 percent of you are return visitors.  Big brother is watching and says thank you for coming back!

A sunset I captured on our way back from a free Glass Tiger show Canada Day

Here are some of the strangest search terms that led people here in 2014.

My sister is a snake
People who were searching for some kind of camaraderie about their sisters being jerks got what they desired when they were led to a story about my fear of snakes and a mean practical joke that my dad and my sister E played on me at Santa's Village when I was a kid.  People searching about snakes would also learn how Molly inherited my fear of snakes naturally and why I'm like Indiana Jones.

Horses are Amazing
While I agree that horses are amazing, majestic creatures, people aren't led to a post where I talk about beautiful steeds. Instead they can read about a day I spent at Riverdale Farm with Molly and Jack (when they were really small) and what I learned.

Head Banger Girls With Long Hair
This one has come up several times, and I imagine 14 year old boys who are seeking photos or videos of their dream metal girls as "inspiration".  Instead they get a post about toddler Jack, how he was a head banger when he was teething and how we coped with it, sorry boys.

In addition, here are three of my most popular posts from 2014.

14 Ways to Make it to the Other Side of The Nightmare Phase - Coping Tips for bad dreams

Loss of a Pet - Talking about losing my cat Pan this past summer.  As a mini update, Molly and Jack still ask about Pan A LOT.  One day, about two weeks ago, Molly asked Chris if Pan was ever coming back and he said no.  She ran to her room crying.  That night she told me that her stuffed Cheshire Cat was Pan, and he's remained Pan ever since, I guess this is her way of coping.

The Adjustment to "Big Kid Beds"  - Two toddlers drunk on freedom and their "present" for me.  To update here, over the Christmas break we let Molly and Jack sleep in mom and dad's room for nap one afternoon.  No sleep was had.  Instead they built me a clothing snowman by emptying a drawer of my clean clothes onto a pile of dirty laundry and sculpting it vaguely into the shape of a snowman.

Looking forward to sharing our new adventures in 2015!

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Friday, 2 January 2015

Revolution (Resolution)

Before Chris and I headed to bed on New Year's Eve we talked about our resolutions for the upcoming year.  I have been thinking a lot about aligning my priorities with my time and finding ways to give things that are important to me more energy and attention and in turn let go of some commitments and obligations that aren't worth the stress.  This will be a major focus for my 2015 resolutions.

Cheers to wine in a can (circa 2009) - Cause I'm classy like that!

I thought I'd share some of my resolutions with you as this is going to influence my blog content and fodder for the year.  Like 2014, I plan to check in every three months to discuss where I'm succeeding and areas of the report card that "need improvement".

  1. I want to make more memories with Molly and Jack and write about these experiences.  Molly and Jack are very often the muses for my writing and I really hope to harness some of my writing to help create some great stories, memories and family traditions this year.  This also includes Chris and I each booking a one on one activity "date" a month with Molly or Jack (we'll likely alternate who gets a date with mom or dad each month).
  2. Although I read 20 books for me in 2014, I want to read more this year.  Although I doubt I'll get back to my before kids one book a week, I'd like to read at least 30 books in 2015.  I also want to read at least five "Classics" that I've never read before as a part of my 30.  If anyone has any recommendations, classics or otherwise, I'd love to hear them.   
  3. Promote my writing and get myself out there.  I would like to push myself and see my work published in seven new places in 2015.  Again, if anyone knows any websites, blogs or magazines where my writing would be a good fit, please let me know.  
  4. While I think that Chris and I have made some progress with making couple time in 2014, we can do better. I'd like to book two dedicated date nights every month with Chris this year. 
  5. I want to make health a priority this year.  This is similar to last year, in the way that I want to make "me" time but applying this to things that I love to do but don't make time for whether it's going on that hike with the kids, doing that exercise DVD, booking a massage or trying out more healthy recipes.  I love cooking and want to share this passion with the kids and Chris more. Molly and Jack love helping out in the kitchen or dancing around the house with us while we blast music.  I'd like to see more of that in our lives.  I want to exercise three times a week and include the kids when I can and I want to try one new, healthy, recipe each week. 
  6. Focus my energy on the most important people in my life by making more time to listen to them, lend an ear and lend a hand because they always do that for me.
  7. Finally, stop complaining and take action.  Far too often I know what is making me unhappy or causing me stress and I wallow in it rather than making an active, positive change.

Wow, now that I'm looking at this I can see it's a pretty meaty list to sink my teeth into....Thank you all for your support as we make our way into another awesome year!

What are you going to do to make 2015 better than 2014?

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