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Thursday, 03 October 2013 08:00

Sister Act

The other day, Audrey woke up from a nap as we were just sitting down to eat a meal with friends (classic baby timing) and so she was a little bit disoriented when we picked her up and sat her in her high chair - right next to our friend Steve, whom she probably hadn't seen in quite awhile. She stared at him for a few seconds before her face slowly transformed into that expression of baby trauma and she burst into heartbroken sobs.  Suddenly, and inexplicably, Clara began to cry also - honestly distressed, tears began spilling down her face also. We had no explanation for it, and Clara couldn't tell us what was wrong. A few moments later, both girls were fine.

Some days we think they're connected. 

They love playing together more and more. Clara will chase Audrey around on the floor - crawling - saying "I'm gonna get you! I'm gonna get you!" And both girls will giggle uncontrolably. 

Wherever Clara is, Audrey wants to be also.

Whatever Clara has, Audrey wants to have also. If we give Clara some kind of snack or toy, Audrey's arm shoots out in front of her, expectantly waiting for some of her own. 

Now that both girls have been sharing a room for awhile - Clara almost refuses to sleep without Audrey in the room with her.  If Audrey needs to be fed after Clara has gone to bed, Clara will scream "Bring my sister back! Right. Now.!" 

Last night both girls seemed unable to sleep. At one point, I came into their room and explained to them that Mommy wanted to sleep (I dramatically slumped to the floor for effect) and that I couldn't sleep until they were quiet and so they MUST GO TO SLEEP!

The image of me lying on the floor between their beds was apparently too hilarious to handle, and so I had one giggly baby looking down at me from between her crib slats, and a giggly toddler joining me on the floor.  Then, when Audrey pressed her face between her crib slats for a kiss (you know how you can just tell when they want a kiss?) Clara jumped up and the two girls started kissing each other repeatedly, all the while giggling like lunatics. 

I love watching this 'Sister' relationship unfold. It's like watching The Gilmore Girls back when it was on TV - I just can't wait to see what happens next! 

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 08:00

Here is What You Missed...

My blog has been down on and off for the past few weeks - sadly.  This is what happens when your husband is your tech guy and he works too many jobs to make your blog a priority. :(

Anyway, since three weeks ago - September 10th - here is what has been happening in our lives...

I discovered Zulily, and our first order - these $10 sparkly shoes - arrived in the mail.  Clara was so excited, she wore them in the house (not a typical practice) until bedtime when I finally persuaded her to take them off. 

I took a River Boat tour in our city with my family.  For those of you who follow this blog, you know that last June my Dad died after a long and horrific illness.  This year, my Grandpa's health has been declining (my Dad's Dad) to the point where some days we think we should be finalizing funeral arrangements, only to have him 'bounce back' for an indefinite period of time.  He is in his 80's, and although we all know that he will not be with us forever - he could be around for awhile yet. This same family is now struggling through the ups and downs of watching another family member in the final time of their life and it's really hard. We took my Grandma on this tour as a bit of an escape amidst all of this...

We live in a beautiful city...

Please excuse the cell-phone quality pictures.  My daughters discovered Safeway 'car carts'. And I discovered that Audrey is old enough to sit in - and really enjoy - one of these carts.  As I began moving this cart with both girls in it, Audrey grabbed her steering wheel and loudly rocked herself forward and backward in excitement. Clara decided to copy her, and for the first five minutes of every shopping trip, I have two noisy girls switching from loud yelling to girly giggling.  I get a lot of stares from other shoppers, but they're cute so I don't think they bother anyone.

The things you can get away with when you're cute. 

Clara and Audrey have really started playing together. 

Audrey usually ends up landing on her head at some point, ending their playtime together, but it's nice while it lasts. 

Audrey started pulling herself up onto things.

And from some things to other things...

We hosted a Story Time Playdate, sponsored by Mom Central Canada and Natrel Baboo.

 

And Clara finally fit into a size 18-24 month outfit that my aunt bought for her last year. :p

These are all terrible pictures - I apologize - just a quick overview of our September. Oh yeah - and we hit a deer, totaled a truck, bought a kitchen and then Brian lost his job...

I'll fill in some details over the next few weeks! 

Happy October!

Published in Blog
Monday, 30 September 2013 20:58

Natrel Baboo Storytime Playdate

A couple of months ago, I had applied with Mom Central Canada to host a Storytime Playdate, sponsored by Mom Central Canada and Natrel Baboo, in honour of Literacy Month - as September was recently declared by ABC Life Literacy Canada

I had nearly forgotten about my application when this came to my door...

This enormous box included a Fisher Price Little People Farmyard Playset including 10 extra Fisher Price Little People, two Robert Munsch story books, $20 worth of Loblaws gift cards for snacks, a $10 Sears gift card, samples of Natrel Baboo, and some Fisher Price coupon catalogues.  I was so shocked - this is the first blogging-related activity I have ever done like this, and I had no idea what to expect, but despite knowing what the selected applicants would receive - I still left this box sitting in my kitchen for two weeks, too excited to deal with it! 

Because that makes so much sense...

Anyway, I was excited to be a part of this mostly because of the 'Storytime' aspect - I'm a huge fan of reading, and really think that of all of the different school subjects, reading is by far the most important - as long as you can read, you can learn anything - which means literacy is a pretty big deal to me. 

I invited a number of friends of mine who have children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years - although Natrel Baboo is created for babies between the ages of 12 and 24 months, most of my friends' children are either slightly older or slightly younger than that, and I figured it would be ok to include everyone.  Also, because all of the Moms who attended requested that their children not be included on online photos, I'm afraid I can't show photos of everything that went on that day. But here is a little overview...

First, I went shopping at our local Shop Easy and bought crackers and cheese, grapes (for the 'big' kids), bananas, and some veggies. 

Then I set everything up in our playroom downstairs and while the kids played, the grown-ups chatted and we all had lots of snacks!

The Little People Playset was a huge hit with all of the kids, and when we wanted to distribute the Little People to all our young guests, it took us quite awhile to find them all, because they had been involved in adventures all over our play area! 

It was one young guest who picked up a tetra pack of Natrel Baboo and requested to try it, and so we distributed it among the age-appropriate babies and toddlers. While I was opening up Clara's container, Audrey quickly took note and crawled to where I was on the couch, pulled herself up to standing and reached out her arm demandingly toward me. 

My first opinions about this product were of the packaging. Attached to each tetra pack was an extendable straw which I thought was a really fun idea.  The extendable feature of the straws worked great, but the pointy straw tips weren't very pointy or strong and so it was quite difficult to free the straw from its packaging, and then it was even more difficult to puncture the seal on the tetra packs, considering we had bent the pointy straw tips. 

For more information about Natrel Baboo and why it was created, check out their website for more information.  My biggest question about the product was why it was necessary when children by 12 months of age are typically able to drink whole milk from the grocery store, and what I discovered is that basically - Natrel Baboo is milk with a few changes and additives to give it a bit of a nutritional boost, as well as to make it easier to digest than straight whole milk. So, it is considered to be a transitional drink between breastmilk or formula, to drinking whole milk from the grocery store.  Another question I had - after checking out their website - was why Baboo was constantly referred to as a 'dairy product' instead of as 'milk' and although I thought I had found the answer to that question on their FAQ page, I am unable to find it now - it said basically that 'milk', if it includes any additives, cannot legally be called milk in Canada. So, effectively, Baboo is simply milk with a few additives and modifications, but cannot be labelled as such for legal reasons. 

I perused a few blog articles about Natrel Baboo and why other Moms liked it, and realized that I'm pretty lucky in the sense that my daughters have strong stomachs and we've never had to deal with any amount of reflux, but that many Moms who have children with mild to severe reflux issues have really appreciated Natrel Baboo as a transitional drink for their sensitive little ones. 

Most of the children at our playdate had a few sips of the drink, and left their tetra packs abandoned, so I honestly can't say if they liked the drink but were distracted by all of the fun they were having - or if they didn't like the drink and this is why it was abandoned.  My Audrey liked it, though, so the few tetra packs I had left over at the end of the day will be enjoyed by her! 

Near the end of the playdate (suddenly two hours had passed), I sat on the floor and read the two Robert Munsch stories to the kids.  All of the toddlers were clambering for my lap, making me feel like the coolest Mom in town at that moment - has anyone else noticed that the attention of a child can be more uplifting than attention from a peer or even a superior? Kids have power that way... A smile from a baby can make you feel like you're really worth something!

Anyway, the kids loved the story time - and so did I - and we ended our awesome playdate a little later than planned because we had all lost track of the time. 

I gave away the $10 Sears card to one of my guests as a prize, and we divided the Fisher Price Little People among the toddlers in attendance. It was a great morning - Thanks to Mom Central Canada and Natrel Baboo!

Published in Blog
Sunday, 29 September 2013 21:44

Not What We Expected...

In the last few weeks we have had some server issues in our house - this website is hosted in my basement :) - which is one of the downsides of hosting your own website, so the blog has been down for most of the past few weeks. 

I have a 'what you missed' blog post planned, but after this weekend, I'll move that to later this week and just explain why - after a 3-week break from blogging - I'm going to take just one more night...

We have been planning a kitchen renovation, and Saturday morning we got ready to head to our nearest IKEA - 5 hours away - for a day trip.  Our daughters were staying with their Grandparents, in case you were wondering...

At 6:30am, driving my in-laws truck, we hit a deer on the highway head-on. It was scary, but ultimately, there are so many things to be thankful for...

1. Our daughters were not with us - just less to worry about.

2. We were in a big truck, and so we were totally fine - not even whiplash. I can't speak for the deer, because it must have been able to walk at least far enough to pull itself off the road and out of our sight, but I don't expect it made it very far and I hope it died quickly.  But we were completely fine - Praise God! 

3. We had barely left the city, and were still not even as far as the city where our parents live.  We called them and despite having woken them up, my Father-in-law was able to meet us on the highway and follow us with the truck (which was still able to drive) back to the body shop and bring us back to their place for breakfast and to spend some time with our daughters - grateful to be safe and sound (and alive...)

4. We were on our way THERE, which meant the truck was not as laden as it would have been on the way back, and so when Brian braked to try to avoid the deer, although a smaller vehicle would have slowed faster - we were able to slow more quickly than if the truck had been packed with stuff.  

I was disappointed about not being able to spend the day at IKEA, and we felt absolutely terrible about totalling a vehicle that wasn't even ours - but there are so many things that could have made the situation so much worse that I really feel nothing but relief. 

More later. 

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 22:21

When Toddlers Stop Napping

Just as Audrey is growing into a semi-regular routine when it comes to naptime, Clara is growing out of hers. I'm having a hard time with this... 

Clara's pattern was confusing at first, and I'm still not going to say with absolute certainty that all of her issues are sleep or nap related, but here is basically what has been happening:

About a month or two ago, I started noticing periods of time where Clara was excessively lethargic - more than I thought a 2-year-old should be.  But not all the time, just certain times of day.  She would also be considerably fussy and difficult but not with enough regularity that I could really pinpoint one specific cause. 

Without being extreme with our diet at home, I started paying attention to - and trying to limit - the amount of sugar and processed foods we all ate. This is a little bit difficult to do with a toddler who's favourite foods are bread and breakfast cereal, but we try. 

I had recently learned about how gluten sensitivity can affect energy levels, and I personally deal with a slight bit of anemia on a regular basis, so I tried to pay attention to these things as well. Nothing so far has really had a big enough - and consistent enough - effect on her behaviour, although I'll admit my research methods are lacking. 

Then we went a few days without giving Clara the opportunity to have an afternoon nap...

Suddenly, she was falling asleep at bedtime instead of staying up for 2 hours jabbering to herself and keeping Audrey awake. (Go figure) She also seemed to have more energy, not less - although this could also be because these days of naplessness were caused by full days of excitement where there just wasn't time for naps! 

Lately, I also discovered that the 'morning cartoon' concept is a really bad one for Clara. For a few mornings in a row, I was feeling quite exhausted and so instead of getting up and making Clara and myself breakfast, I pulled her into bed with me and put some cartoons on my laptop for her to watch in my room. Then, I fell back asleep while she watched cartoons for an hour.  I liked getting a bit of extra sleep, and I certainly wouldn't complain about the cuddle time with my least-cuddly daughter, but it affected both of us negatively.  It usually takes me about 6 hours to really 'wake up' each day (I wish I were joking), and in getting up at 9 instead of 7, I was delaying my 'wake up' time to past 3pm.

(By 'wake up', I mean beyond walking and talking and coffee-making. It typically takes me until early afternoon to be able to move quickly enough to actually get some house cleaning, etc. done between baby & toddler demands - that's when the coffee 'kicks in', methinks.)

Clara was similarly affected, and even worse. I suspected TV was at least partly to blame, so I tried a day with no TV in the morning. She was a completely different person - she whined for about 30 seconds about her lack of 'Dora' time, and then became distracted by her toys and happily played for most of the morning. 

Sigh. And so - there you have it - all of Mommy's 'quiet time' opportunities are gone. No morning TV watching, and no more naps. 

And to cement the theory, today Clara napped. It kind of happened accidentally - she spent some time lounging on the couch downstairs (not watching TV, because we had a fight - but that's another story...). And tonight, it took her a full two hours to settle down after going to bed, which was really miserable since it also kept Audrey from sleeping. 

I'm still not entirely sure how to keep Clara occupied and not let her get bored enough to fall asleep (like this afternoon) without being by her side all day long - I want her to learn to play independantly, and I also need some time to get things done during the day.  My thought right now is to have a 'quiet time' where Clara is allowed to watch TV downstairs between about 1 and 2:30pm when Audrey is napping, and then have both girls get up and play afterward. This worked for a couple of days, and starting tomorrow I want to try again. 

Wish me luck! How I want that nap back... 

Published in Blog

I had 'one of those days' on Thursday, where all of the 'what ifs' were almost more than I could take. 

It started out typically, I was giving Clara breakfast and trying to decide what we should do that day when I received a Facebook message reminding me that I'd RSVP'd to a picnic for that day, but Brian had taken the car and so I would have to bus in order to go. I had spoken to my Grandma that morning, and we had discussed the weather for the next day - when I was planning to go to her house to help with some house cleaning - and how it was only supposed to be about 28 degrees celcius, which is relatively cool and reasonable considering some of the days we've had here recently. I think I unconsciously had it in my head that it would be 28 degrees on Thursday as well. 

I checked the bus schedule and realized that I had about 20 minutes to get to the stop - which gave me about 10 minutes to throw a picnic together, get the girls in the stroller with everything else we'd need, and then 10 minutes to walk to the bus stop.  I figured I could make it. 

I threw a really simple picnic together, made sure we all had water bottles and the girls had hats. I brought along the sunscreen to put on them on the bus and while we were waiting at random stops. We made it to our stop, but when the bus showed up, I almost turned and went home when I realized that I would be taking an older bus - one that is not wheelchair/stroller accessible, and I would have to maneuver the stroller up 3 steep steps onto the bus. I got over my hesitation, however, and decided to try it anyway - luckily someone else at the stop offered to help, so I only had to carry one end while he lifted the other. 

We made it to the picnic a little bit late, but considering Clara and I were both out of our element - we're both shy - and we were there to meet new people, it was a pretty good time. We left a bit early, because Clara seemed somewhat bored - most of the children there were older than she is, and so it was difficult for her to interact - and started walking back to our bus stop.  

This time I hadn't checked the schedule, and had just left as early as we could - not knowing how long we would have to wait for the first bus.

I was glad when the bus was scheduled to arrive at the stop in less than 10 minutes.  Audrey had emptied her water bottle and was fussing considerably, so I filled her bottle again with water from the bottle I had brought for myself and she seemed happier after this. Clara was happily playing on the sidewalk as we waited - so no concerns here. The girls had been heavily sunscreened on the way to the park, and we were on our way home, so I didn't worry about re-applying. 

We arrived at the university campus - where we would need to transfer to another bus - mid afternoon, probably nearly the hottest time of day.  The signs in this bus mall showed limited information - most of them gave the bus numbers for each stop (although some were so faded from the sun, it was nearly impossible to see) and only one (that I found) showed the direction the bus would be going.  As it happens, I was waiting at the same spot I used to wait - when I attended university - to go home on the bus I was familiar with.  When we arrived at the bus mall, I was expecting to catch the bus right away, but was annoyed to see the '80' already driving away. Due to the busy-ness of the campus bus mall at that time of day on a school day, I assumed it had left early because it was already full to capacity and didn't really question it. I simply went to that spot anyway to wait for the next bus. 

As I stood there, I started to feel uncomfortable in the heat. Audrey was sleeping, and her head was covered by the stroller sun-shade, but her legs were exposed so I tried to stand in a position to shade her from the sun.  This left Clara exposed, but she had her hat, and seemed happy enough, so I told myself that everything was fine and tried not to worry too much. 

Then, after almost 15 minutes of waiting in the heat, I realized that the bus that would stop where I was would be travelling in the opposite direction from where I wanted to go. The bus mall had been moved around, and suddenly I was completely lost. I asked one bus driver where to go if I wanted to head back to my end of the city, and he said "Somewhere over there [pointing], but it will say on the sign!"

The signs were not that clear. As I said before, they had the bus number, but not necessarily the direction. 

After a certain amount of near-panicked searching, I figured out where I would need to be and joined a huge group of University students who were waiting for the bus as well. I was worried I wouldn't be able to get a spot on the bus, and with the giant stroller I had, it would be difficult to sneak into the line - that, and when I got on the bus, we would take up the space of 3-4 adults and I wasn't sure there would be room. 

I was terrified of having to wait in the sun with the girls for another 20 minutes for another bus - and none of the University students around me noticed or cared that these babies should probably have first place on the bus. 

Luckily, the bus that stopped was a double length bus, and so there was lots of room - although I struggled to get the stroller onto the bus, and a few University girls seemed not to notice me at all and tried to rush right past me until the bus driver asked them to stop.  It was a really awkward display, and I was more than a little bit stressed, over heated, and exhausted. Audrey was still sleeping. 

When we finally got to our stop - about five blocks from home - Audrey woke up and looked around for a few minutes before falling back to sleep.  Now, her head was in the sun and there was no way to move the shade to block her. I told myself that the few minutes it would take to get home wouldn't hurt her, and just focused on getting home. 

I was exhuasted though, and my mind started wondering what would happen if I just collapsed right there...

I mentally gave myself a slap across the face, telling myself not to be such a melodramatic idiot, and made myself straighten up and stop whining (inwardly). And so, I made it home without passing out, and both girls seemed completely fine.

When we got home, I pushed the stroller into our garage and instead of unloading it - took both girls directly to their room, where I turned their fan on and collapsed on my bed for a few moments.  Audrey started fussing, so I took her into my room and fed her, and then put her back in her crib. 

I should note here, that our house gets almost as hot inside as it is outside on a hot day - so, if the temperature gets to about 32 or 33 outside, it will be about 31 or 32 inside the house. We don't have air conditioning, we just try to shut the windows in the heat and open them again when it is cool and breezy, and at night. The girls' room faces north - away from the sun - and there is a row of cedar trees that blocks their view from the street, so their room is quite sheltered, and since we bought a new ceiling fan for that room after Clara was born, it remains the coolest room in the house. 

Our bedroom faces south - toward the sun - and our ceiling fan does almost nothing. Since we painted a couple of our rooms, we also haven't put the curtains back up, so there is nothing to shade the room from direct sunlight.

I took a cold bath, and collapsed on my bed. I remember hearing one of the girls making noises, but I told myself that they were safe in their beds and the next thing I knew two hours had passed and my Mother in Law was ringing the doorbell to come and pick up the girls (who were spending the night away - which is a topic for another post)

Shortly after, I was feeling nauseous and was soon running to the bathroom, wretching. 

I was reminded of Clara's illness during the winter, when she became so dehydrated that she could no longer keep fluids down. I figured I must be dehydrated, and quickly chugged two large glasses of water. In about 20 minutes, they were violently propelling themselves back out of my body.

I called a friend of mine who is a nurse, and she told me to just keep cool and take only small sips of water every 15-20 minutes.

Right. Cool. 

So, I lay in front of the floor fan in our room and fell asleep again. 

After this second nap, I began to feel much better, but going over the events of the day made my mind spin. 

What if the girls had been affected? What if they had gotten heat stroke - or worse? 

I was mad at myself for not realizing how hot it was going to be that day - or how hot it was when I was already standing in the sun. I was mad at myself for not making more certain that Audrey's head was always in the shade (she won't keep a hat on), or simply for not leaving the house at all.  And I had forgotten a hat for myself, which probably had a lot to do with it...

In the end, I realized that it wasn't me who saved the girls - I felt like I had done everything wrong, and what I had done right I had done unknowingly. I gave Audrey the last of my water, not realizing how important it might be. I could have just thought she was sleeping (which I did) and tried to get her to sleep (which was, honestly, my initial reaction - I refilled her water without really thinking about it). Despite my rush, I made sure they both DID have hats, and the stroller had the sunshade attached - it doesn't always.  When I got home, despite allowing myself to collapse in a hot room, I made sure they were in the coolest place in the house, with the fan on them full strength. 

As I had been feeding Audrey, I heard Clara cry out that she wanted her water bottle, which I had left in the stroller in my rush. By the time I finished feeding Audrey and brougth Clara her water, she had already fallen asleep. Or maybe she had passed out, I don't know. But she woke up fine when I did two hours later. 

They were ok - but the possibility that they might not have been terrorized me, and despite how glad I was that I didn't have to watch the girls while I was feeling sick that evening - I missed them terribly, and even cried that night from missing them. I just wanted to hold them forever... 

This was one of those days, when I was reminded that God 'has my back'. I am not alone when it comes to taking care of my daughters, and sometimes God actively steps in and - despite my ignorance - makes sure that everything turns out ok. I was oblivious - but He wasn't. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;"  Proverbs 3:5

Because seriously - sometimes my own understanding isn't worth a whole lot... 

My symptoms from heat exhaustion were initially fatigue, excessive sweating, and headache - and later became confusion and vomiting. Stay safe in the heat - even in September! Drink lots of water, wear sunscreen and especially - wear a hat! 

Take care, all!

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 16:10

She's on the Move!

Since last week - officially by Friday, August 30 - Audrey has had the ability to move around the house at her leasure by army crawling around on her belly.  She likes to be in the same room we are, and will follow her sister all over the place. 

I had forgotten what it meant to baby proof, and I have a suspicion that baby-proofing for Audrey will be a much more intensive procedure.  She seems to move more quickly, and get into more than Clara ever did, so I suspect she will keep us guessing and surprise us on more than one occasion. 

I confess that with Clara, we didn't do very much 'baby proofing' - we watched her pretty closely, and after awhile we realized that she really didn't get into much. When she was old enough to get into more shenanigans - like colouring on the walls - we would have one incident of each 'type', and after dealing with the incidents, they were never repeated. 

With Audrey, I suspect we will run into problems for two reasons - one, because she is our second child, and as such she will be out of my vision more frequently than Clara was, which goes with the territory of having another child to look out for and deal with, and two, because she has already shown us that she is much more interested in wreaking havoc than her sister ever was. She will get into more and different things than Clara did, so we won't see what is coming... 

Add to that the fact that we have many toys and books lying around now that are not exactly baby-friendly, but that Clara is too young to quite understand why and so we can't trust her to keep these things away from Audrey.  Audrey wants nothing more than to be involved in everything that is going on - and to be able to play with every one of her sister's toys.

So far, one rule I have tried to implement is that Clara avoid playing with toys that Audrey can't play with in reach of Audrey. If Clara is wanting to read a book with paper pages that Audrey would like to drool on and mush up, Clara can take that book to her bed and read it in there where Audrey can't reach her.  If Clara would like to do some sort of craft that Audrey is too young for, it is best for Clara to do it at the kitchen table where Audrey can't even see what is going on.  This will get more and more difficult as Audrey becomes more aware of what is going on, and I will have to get more creative, and find ways to include Audrey as much as possible. 

Audrey is beginning to pull herself up on her hands and knees, and will soon be crawling 'properly' I suspect. She will rock slightly back and forth in this position as if she knows that it would be a much quicker and more efficient way of getting around, so it appears as though she is just trying to figure out how it works and when she does - she'll be off! 

A few weeks ago, I was coaching her to start crawling and now I'm wondering how much I'll enjoy this stage after all :) Seriously, though - I'd love to hear any other thoughts about keeping toddler toys away from babies, or how baby proofing for #2 was different...  Parenting is so funny - just because I've 'done this before' doesn't mean I feel any more confident about what I'm doing! Audrey is so different than Clara!  

This must be part of God's plan to keep me humble... 

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 16:01

My My Little Ponies

I think at one time or another, I had each 'My Little Pony' in this photo.  Sweetberry, in the top right, looks just like my first pony, which I received as an Easter gift when I was two... maybe three years old. Merry Go Round and Candy Cane, I had named 'Lois' and 'Sharon' from my favourite children's performer group - Sharon, Lois and Bram.  It's possible I was a bit too young, but I don't recall watching a TV show as a child, although I'm told there was one. I didn't know the 'correct' names of the ponies, nor would I have cared - I called them what I wanted, and loved playing with them! 

For a couple years in my childhood, my Dad would buy me one pony each month - as my 'allowance' of sorts. I can remember walking into the town drug store, where they kept a small collection of toys - just down the first aisle and to the right, and picking out a pony for that month. I have one single image of this event in my memory, although I've been told that it happened repeatedly. I also don't recall which ponies I received new, and which we found at garage sales (there were many), and unfortunately I no longer have most of them. 

As someone who grew up with the 'original' My Little Ponies, I can't seem to get used to what they look like now. Their eyes and ears are too big, and their legs are too thin.  They look less 'soft' than the ponies I grew up with, and I kind of miss that. 

Although I can't help but be a little bit excited by the fact that my daughter is now interested in My Little Ponies - just like I was at her age.  I wish I could call my Dad - who bought me all of the Ponies I had as a child, and tell him that Clara loves them now too. I think he might have gone to the store immediately to buy her one especially from him. 

I found this 25th Birthday collector set, and I kind of want to find it for myself Clara for Christmas. They're a little bit modernized, but they look a lot closer to the friendly Ponies I remember. 

Clara's not as interested in the My Little Pony TV show as she is in the toys, and maybe - like I was - she is just too young for that yet. As far as girls' toys go, though, I love My Little Ponies - even the new ones. 

So many of our childhood characters have 'come back' - My Little Pony is just one example. Some of the toys many of us knew and loved never really went away - like Barbies and Hot Wheels.  What were your favourite 'classic' toys, and have they returned, or do you hope they do for your own kids? Are there any toys from your childhood that you think should remain in the decade they came from (and not return)?

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A few weeks ago, we spent a weekend at the lake with my family. On going for a walk one day, we decided to make it an adventure for Clara's Cinderella figurine, and started putting her in random locations to photograph. Clara enjoyed choosing places for her to 'hide' as well.

She wanted to take pictures next to every flower she saw...

Clara liked to pick a lot of the flowers she saw also.

I enjoyed the photography practice, and it was kind of a fun way to keep Clara entertained on what would normally have been a pretty average walk down a country road. 

This is what we got when we asked Clara to hold Cinderella up so we could take a picture of them together... 

This made me think about creating my own 'Eye Spy' book for Clara, using her own toys as things to search for. I might collect some of these photos to create a photo book of photos like this for her for Christmas.

At the end of the day, we had grilled sandwiches over the fire and Smores made with chocolate wafer cookies. Clara got very sticky...

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Wednesday, 28 August 2013 07:00

Parenting Fly-Lady Style

I'm lazy. 

There - I've said it. 

I have a really hard time getting my butt out of bed in the morning and becoming productive. I just don't want to... 

Actually, none of that is entirely true - I do know how to work hard, but I need circumstances to be conducive to getting things done, and constantly shifting gears to deal with the baby feeding, toddler potty time, playtime, naptime, cleaning time, poop explosion incidents that happen every 7.33 minutes does NOT help the productivity.  

So, I feel a little bit like I'm in Myst - something is happening or has happened, and I know I have to do something about it, and figure something out, but no one is giving me directions and I'm not quite sure where I am... And that makes me want to crawl under my bed and hide for the next 2-16 years. 

Lately I've been following the 'Fly Lady' House Cleaning system, and I am feeling as though my entire life could benefit from a similar structure.  Parenting - or more specifically, spending time with my children - doesn't come naturally to me. I don't really know how to play, and ideas for keeping them entertained and occupied don't naturally pop into my brain. I need to plan and research and make an honest effort for these things.

My concept at this moment is to create a 'Parenting Schedule' as it were - like the FlyLady cleaning schedule, which includes lists of items that should be done daily, weekly, and monthly, and some even less often.  

Here is an example of a daily 'To Do' list for myself - to do with my girls:

  • Get Clara out of bed by 8:30, get her dressed and give her breakfast
  • Help Clara make her bed
  • Go outside
  • Spend 15 minutes playing with the girls, and letting them lead
  • Spend 15 minutes in physical activity
  • Read a book
  • Go through the entire alphabet with Clara once
  • Do a creative activity
  • Coach and help Clara to clean up toys before supper

I could do all of these things in less than 2 hours each day, and as a Stay At Home Mom - I think that is a reasonable amount of time to expect to spend focusing on my kids.

The beauty of the way I have been following the Fly Lady routine is that each day starts fresh. If I didn't get something done yesterday - that's ok, I start over today. I don't keep track of any tasks that I was supposed to have done in the past but missed, even if they won't come around again for awhile, because then I will get overwhelmed and stop doing anything at all.  Each month, I focus on one small thing - this month's Fly Lady 'habit' is to do one load of laundry each day - so I would pick just one thing that I would try to make a habit in my life and make that my first priority every day.

I think I will start with 15 minutes of playing with the girls, or reading a book. 

I need to prove to myself that I can be somewhat disciplined in my daily kid's schedule, because at this point in time I think I will be homeschooling the girls, and I need to know that I can follow a routine for their sake, and be held responsible for their education. 

Are there any other parents out there who have to prompt themselves to play with their kids? 

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