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Samantha Loewen

Samantha Loewen

Monday, 04 November 2013 22:05

Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

This is seriously the best fruit dip I have come across to date. I had this at a friend's house, and the very next day I made my own variation for my Mother-in-law's birthday party. Here is my version of this dip. 

Ingredients:

1 - 8oz brick of cream cheese

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

2-3 Tablespoons Sugar (I used coconut sugar)

Caramel

Crushed skor bars or skor bits

Granny Smith Apples

Directions: 

Cream together the cream cheese and sour cream and sugar to taste. Given that this includes a caramel topping, I don't think sugar is strictly necessary, but I added a bit to give a bit of a sweeter taste to the creamy mixture as well.  Spread cream mixture in a circle on the center of a serving plate, or fill a bowl half to 3/4 full.  Drizzle caramel over top of the cream mixture. I happened to have a bowl of homemade caramel sitting in my fridge from a botched attempt at caramel making during a late-night craving that eventually succeeded in creating excellent caramel, but about three times as much as I wanted at the time... Anyway, the homemade caramel was definitely superior to any grocery-store bought variety that I've tried, but any caramel would work.  

Personally, I'd stop there, because I don't think this dip needs anything more, but I know a lot of chocolate addicts who would disagree, so if you're one of them - sprinkle with crushed skor chocolate bar bits.  

Did you see this? It looks incredible, and tastes even better...

Tuesday, 05 November 2013 08:00

Catch the Moment - Thanksgiving Weekend

I catch wind of a nearby petting zoo, and we're there at the first opportunity. Clara loves animals - from a distance, and Audrey really, really loves animals. Here we are at the petting zoo.

She would like to be petting a Llama, but the darn things wouldn't get close enough.

Llama, Llama, Llama...

Duck

I don't think she quite got the idea...

Clara was having a Pacifier-dependent day. 36 days, Clara... 36 days...

There was a corn maze that we didn't quite get through before a desperate potty call had me running full speed to get out of the thing. Note to self - make sure kids pee before entering the maze - those things are tough to get out of in a hurry! 

After the corn maze and petting zoo, we went to Great Grandma and Grandpa's for Thanksgiving dinner, and visited a nearby playground. 

For more 'Catch The Moment' blog posts, check out Simply Stavish or Nurse Loves Farmer for the blog link-up list. Or, link up your own 'Catch the Moment' blog post! 

Catch The Moment
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 08:00

Henoch-Schonlein Purpura


Henoch-Schonlein purpura is a disorder that causes inflammation and bleeding in the small blood vessels in skin, joints, intestines and kidneys. The most striking feature is a purplish rash, typically on the lower legs and buttocks. HS purpura can also cause abdominal pain and aching joints. Rarely, serious kidney damage can occur.  (Mayoclinic.com

Saturday, October 26th, on Audrey's first birthday as it happens, we discovered a rash on Clara's legs and lower stomach. She had light pink spots all over, and she insisted that they didn't hurt or itch or bother her in any way. That morning I had opened a new package of tights for her to wear, and since she had shown signs of skin sensitivity as an infant, I assumed the rash was from the unwashed tights.  Since she insisted the spots didn't bother her, and she also was determined to wear her new tights, we decided it would be ok to leave them on her. 

When we arrived home from Audrey's birthday party, the rash had spread to cover Clara's body except her face and head, although there were a few spots on the underside of her chin. They still seemed not to be bothering her, but like the paranoid mother I am, I turned to Google to solve my problem. I searched for images of 'rash on toddler legs' to try to find something that appeared to be the same as what Clara found. The closest photo I found was the one in THIS article. If you don't follow the link and read the article, I'll sum it up for you - a 9-year-old boy developed this rash (that, in appearance, seemed identical to what I saw on Clara) and died.

Assuming I was overreacting - like I'm known to do - but wanting to play it safe, I called the local health line and spoke to a nurse about it.  After asking me what seemed like a thousand questions about whether Clara had eaten anything strange, etc., she asked me to describe the rash. After examining her closely, I had to use the word 'bruise-like' to describe some of the small spots on her legs. As soon as I said this, the nurse told me that a rash with a bruise-like appearance is a 'red flag' in her books, and that I needed to take my daughter in to a clinic immediately.

I stammered and tried to back track... I was just overreacting, wasn't I? It was after 10pm and we had just gotten back from a party and the girls needed sleep for the next day when we would be having a second party for Audrey... I really wasn't expecting to be told to take her in. I was expecting to be reassured that she was probably fine and that there was no reason to be concerned unless x, y and z happened.  I guess the bruising was x, y and z... 

I made Brian look closely at Clara's spots also - because he wouldn't exaggerate the symptoms - and he agreed that they looked suspiciously like bruises. And then she opened her legs slightly and a larger, dark purple spot became visible to us. We gasped, and while I put Audrey to bed for the night, Brian put Clara in the car and drove her to the hospital. 

After waiting for two hours in the hospital Emergency Room (a 3-car accident, involving at least 4 children, happened just as they were driving to the hospital and this backed up the whole emergency room for the evening. This was one of those situations where - instead of being frustrated by the wait - we could only be thankful that it hadn't been Brian and Clara in the collision), Clara was diagnosed with Henoch-Schonlein Purpura.  Purpura is the name for the skin discolouration, and Henoch-Schonlein are the names of the two German doctors who re-discovered it in the 1860's. 

I sent out a few texts to family members and friends, informing them of our situation and asking for prayer. One close friend, who happened to be on the University (and hospital) grounds when she received my text, and who also happens to work in the medical field asked if there was anything she could do. I asked if she would want to go keep Brian and Clara company while they waited. Brian's phone was dying, and I knew that my friend would be able to keep me well informed, while making sure to ask all of the right questions of doctors. I felt more at ease knowing she was there. 

At one point, however, as my friend was relaying the information about Henoch-Schonlein Purpura to me via text, my rapid questions prompted her to call me and have me speak directly to the doctor.  What I was beginning to realize, as she spoke about the dangers of kidney damage, was that this 'Henoch-Schonlein Purpura' was the same disease I had read about earlier.  The same disease that killed this young boy. It was helpful to speak to the doctor, however, and to have her explain how Clara's immune system had gone into overdrive (we have all been sick for weeks) and this is how it had overreacted. I was told that because her blood vessels were leaking (scary echo of what my Dad had died of not two years earlier...), there could also be leaking inside her body.  She would need to have her urine checked for blood, and she would need to go in to the doctor for weekly check-ups for two months, and then monthly for a year.  It would be a lie to say I was anything less than terrified. 

I read a little bit more about the disease and what I could expect. In 85% of cases, the child will experience severe stomach pain and vomiting - I would have to brace myself for that. It was also common to experience swelling and pain in the joints - I would make sure to watch out for, and be sensitive to this as well.  After three hours, my baby was sent home from the hospital, seemingly well but tired as she gladly crawled into bed and fell asleep. 

The next day, her legs looked like this. 

 This photo doesn't really show what we saw - the bruises were much darker than this photo indicates. 

 Two days later - you can see where some of the darker bruises were, and how they are healing - they looked like this. 

It has now been over a week, and so far Clara has not complained of any joint or stomach pain, and hasn't vomited once. I pray this means that her case of HS Purpura was a mild one, and that no further bleeding has occurred. She had her first weekly appointment last week, and her urine test was perfectly clean. Tomorrow will be her second, and I am praying again that nothing else will be found. I also pray that this was a one-time event, and that she will never again experience this - especially since I'm sure additional occurrences would only increase the likelyhood of more severe symptoms. 

It has been a rough few months for us, and this has so far been the worst thing we've experienced with our daughters. As it turns out, Clara is likely fine, but I can't describe how scary it is, as a parent, to know that your child has something rare - that could be deadly.  I know I'm not alone in my experience, and I probably can't think of one single parent who hasn't experienced this same fear at some point.

I would love to say that with everything going on in our lives that I'm feeling sorry for myself for, that this gave me some perspective and made me realize how unimportant everything else is, and maybe to some degree I do understand this a bit better - but I feel as though I'm in a fog, and despite this, I haven't been able to get out of it. So much has been so hard lately, and I just want to throw up my arms at God and say 'What?? What message are you trying to tell us that we're clearly not getting??' I don't know. This was just one more thing. 

Monday, 04 November 2013 15:31

Kid's Crafts for Fall

Ryan, who endorses 'Fun Kids Pajamas' asked me if he could send me a guest post with some kids' crafts that my readers would find interesting.  Considering my own writing has been lacking lately, here's a post with some craft ideas to give you something to read and do!  It's no longer fall in our part of the world, but I'm excited to try these crafts out in the next week or two - especially this first one!

Enjoy!

The fall is full of bright colors, cool weather, and fun festivities. This can make the autumn season breaming with inspiration and opportunities to do some creative crafting. From making your own fall themed Thanksgiving turkeys to creating trees and beautifully colored leaves, there is no shortage of fun fall arts and crafts.

  1. Swirly Painted Fall Leaves

While trees blazing in red, orange and yellow are beautiful, they tend not to last for too long before the leaves fall off and you are left with some bare sticks poking out from a trunk. Fortunately by creating marble swirled fall leaves with your child, you can make your own beautiful, fall colored leaves that can last for years to come. One thing to keep in mind is that this activity can quickly get messy, so you may want to do it outside and bring a change of clothes or a kid’s bath robe for your child to put on before coming inside.

You will need:

  • Shaving cream (the fluffy white kind, not gel)

  • White card stock

  • A foil baking pan

  • Orange, yellow and red food coloring

The first thing to do is to cut leaf shapes out of the card stock. A fun and easy way to do this is by taking a walk with your child in your backyard or a local park and collecting some of the biggest, and most interestingly shaped leaves that the two of you come across to take home. When you get home, you can trace these out on the card stock, and then cut around the outline to make your own “leaves.”

Next, cover the baking pan in about 1/3 inch of shaving cream, as evenly as possible. Gently scrape off any lumps and bumps with a plastic card or ruler so that there is just a flat plane of shaving cream covering the pan. After everything is level, put in 3 or 4 drops of each food coloring in different areas and gently swirl everything around with a paintbrush.

As the foamy mixture is stirred, the colors should blend into marbled swirly patterns of red, yellow and orange. If you keep doing it for too long though, they could all mix together and just become brown, so once you have a pretty pattern, just stop. At this point, you should take your leaf shaped card stock and gently press it onto the mixture, then remove it. After letting the colors soak in to the card stock for about 2 minutes, scrape off the shaving cream and you should be left with a leaf covered in bright fall colors!

  1. Pinecone Turkeys

If fall has an official animal, it may very well be the turkey. You can make some fun turkey decorations with the following materials:

  • A pinecone

  • Googly eyes

  • Red, yellow and brown craft store feathers

  • Brown, yellow and red construction paper

  • Glue

The first step is to make the turkey’s head. To do this, cut out a piece of the brown paper in an oval shape about an inch a half long and half an inch wide. Then glue the two googly eyes near the top of it. Cut out a small triangle of the yellow paper and attach it in the middle of the oval as a beak, then cut out a small oval from the red paper and glue it onto the side of the beak as the gobbler. Once all the glue has dried, attach the face onto the narrow end of the pine cone.

The next step is to make the backside of the turkey. Glue the feathers to the broad and flat end of the pinecone so that they fan out to shape the turkey’s plume. Once this has dried your turkey is done! If you would like you could also add legs with pipe cleaners, or make more in different colors to create a whole flock of turkeys.

  1. Fall Paper Trees

All you need for this activity is a sheet of brown construction paper, some glue and a poster board. Have your child trace their forearm and spread out hand on the brown construction paper. Then they can cut it out. This will be the tree trunk. The next step is to glue the trunk onto the piece of poster paper, which will be the background. Then you can color in a leaf covered lawn along the bottom of the posterboard, and make a blue sky with some fluffy fall clouds floating through the crisp air. Other fun things to include are animals stocking up on food for their fall hibernation, and anything else you or your child would like. Once the glue has dried and the background is decorated, you and your children can go out for a walk and pick some more of your favorite leaves. Then these can be glued onto the tree to create some brilliantly colored fall foliage. Once everything is dried up, you can hang the poster on a wall, or even just prop it up as a backdrop for the pinecone turkeys!

Taking walks in the crisp fall weather can be great, but eventually it may get chilly and you’ll want to head back inside. With these activities you can go outside to collect beautiful fall leaves, then come back inside and huddle around the fireplace or change your children into a pair of kids footed pajamas so everyone can stay warm and toasty to finish off the projects. This way, even during the bleakest winter months, you will have art themed after the bright and vibrant fall to liven up your home!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 22:05

Audrey is 1!!!

Last year, on October 25th, we were shopping with my Mom for some last minute items for our baby.  I hadn't yet purchased the outfit I wanted to carry her home in, and so we were wandering the mall looking for something suitable. As we wandered, I started feeling significant cramping and started watching the clock. Although still relatively calm, the contractions were coming at approximately 10-15 minute intervals for about an hour, then quickly changed to being about 5 minutes or less apart, and lasting at least 30 seconds.  I could walk through them, but it was more comfortable to stop walking or talking and wait until they passed.  Since I had to be induced with Clara, I wanted to be sure that I gave this baby - and this labour - as much time as possible to progress.

As it turned out, I still needed to be induced, which is its own story, but the next morning - just before 10am - Audrey Grace Rayne was born.  If you feel like reading the whole story, here is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. 

Last Saturday marked the anniversary of my baby girl's birthday. She is now a '1 year old'.  It's more than a little bit sad for me to know that I will probably never again experience all of the joys and strains of raising a newborn to this point in life.  Audrey was - more than likely - our last baby, and I'll miss that. 

From this...

To this...

Dear Audrey, on your First Birthday:

I don't think I really understood how different one baby could be from another until I got to know you. You are so much different in temperament than your sister - maybe to make sure we notice you!  For the first few months of your life, you could really only be described as the 'perfect' baby.  You rarely cried, and only if you REALLY needed something - you would wait quite awhile if you were hungry before demanding anything - which, as a Mom who was new to juggling more than one child, I appreciated more than you could have known. As I struggled to figure out how to parent an increasingly challenging toddler while now parenting a newborn simultaneously - you became the baby that I needed you to be. 

Maybe it's because you are my second child, but I've loved how much more relaxed I feel with you. And you respond in kind, because you are so relaxed as well. You love each member of your family - you adore your sister, and follow her around everywhere. You love your Daddy to the moon and back, and get hyper excited when he comes home from work each day.  I think I have a bit of a special place in your heart still, though, and although sometimes it's irritating to be so needed - I love it at the same time.  You follow me around the house sometimes, and every once in awhile, I feel a small little tug at my pant leg - requesting to be picked up. 

You are CUDDLY also, and I love that. At your birthday, you were given a toy doll from Clara, and the first thing you did was to pick it up and snuggle it close to your face.  After being picked up by just about anyone, you will first lay your head on that person's shoulder and snuggle for a moment before lifting your head and looking around.  Yesterday, I sprawled on the living room floor and you crawled up to me and over me, stopping to hug me repeatedly and to give me very sloppy, drooly kisses. 

There are so many things I still can't check off of your list of 'Can do's' - still no teeth, no walking, no words - but I get the impression from you that you have a very active brain inside that giant head of yours, and I know that your physical inabilities now will never slow you down in the future. You are an explorer - you will crawl into, onto and over anything in your path and will fight with determination to overcome something that may not seem easy or even possible at first.  You have definitely had your share of bumps on the head, but I think that also will not slow you down. 

We made it to one year of breastfeeding, and I think it is just about time to stop entirely. We're down to once or twice each morning, but that is all.  There is so much I love about breastfeeding, but there are things I don't like also, and you - at this point - much prefer a bottle.  You drink a ton - I have been giving you lots of milk, and water, and you guzzle everything down in lightning speed.  I hope I don't forget to keep you hydrated, because it's clear that you intend to drink a lot! You will eat just about everything, if we market it carefully to you, although you are a sucker for 'something better', and will turn down what you are offered if you think there is even a chance of something you would prefer.  Just today I had left a small package of snack crackers on the kitchen table while trying to feed you lunch, and it took me a moment to realize that your grabbing at the table and refusing your food was in hopes of some crackers rather.  After I moved them, you ate much better.

Today was the first day I actively disciplined you. I have, on occasion, tried to use a stern voice when saying 'no', to indicate that something you have done is not something that makes me happy.  Typically you giggle at this, and continue doing what you were doing.  Today, however, I couldn't let you do this.  You had discovered our carbon monoxide detector, which lets off an extremely high pitched squeal when the buttons are pushed, and you made it angry.  The first time Clara did this, she required no further correction because it scared her enough that she never again wanted to touch it. You were a different story - I saw the look of intrigue in your eye, and I looked you in the eye and said 'No'. Then I put you down to see what you would do. You smiled and went straight for the detector again.  Just as your little hand reached out to push the button, I gave you a small slap (enough to mean business) and said 'No' again. You were quite offended by this - your face slowly turned into a scowl and you began to cry.  Then you immediately started crawling onto me - pleading to be comforted. I gave you a hug and realized that this particular battle was perhaps beyond you and your inquisitive ways, and instead of attempting the practice again, I moved the detector. 

You are still a baby - and you have quite awhile to remain a 'baby' in my eyes. But you are no longer an infant.  You will soon be a toddler. And instead of telling people that I have a baby and a two year old, I will have to say that I have 'two little girls' - aged 1 and almost 3.  And the older you get - the more that you and Clara are interested in and enjoy some of the same things - the more fun we have together. I'm looking forward to what the next year brings.

Now - I hear you fussing in your room, 2 hours after bedtime. You still are not a very good sleeper, and I will go and re 'plug' your 'gummy' and hope you fall back to sleep. 

Goodnight, Audrey. And Happy Belated Birthday. 

Monday, 21 October 2013 15:21

Clara is Getting Closer to Three...

It wasn't my intention to become a once-weekly blogger, but it has seemed in the past few months as though I just get to feeling like my head is finally above water, and something else happens to pull me under and keep me behind again.  We have been sick in our house for the past two and a half weeks, and although I know that a cold/flu has been going around in our area - the cough medicines are nearly sold out everywhere we go - I can't help but wonder what we might be doing to bring this on to ourselves. 

Anyway, that was just to explain my absence lately...

Audrey's first birthday is this week, and as my youngest is rapidly getting older I keep glancing at my always-changing toddler in near disbelief at how much she is changing as well. There was a moment in her life when I felt as though the time had flown by, but I also felt overwhelmingly that she had always been with us, and I couldn't recall a time before her existence.  Now, all I feel is how quickly the last three years have gone. Clara has been my daughter for almost three entire years, and I feel like I've somehow missed it.

Dear Clara,

In the last six months, you have changed from being completely 'toddler' in my eyes, to being more of a 'preschooler' in many respects. I went looking for age-appropriate crafts for you on Pinterest the other day by searching 'toddler crafts'. I was frustrated by what I found, complaining loudly that these were all 'baby activities!', but then I realized that maybe my search was actually the problem, and after searching again for 'preschool crafts' I was much more successful. 

The last few weeks have again been difficult for us - your Great Grandpa Letkeman has been very sick and in the hospital, we have been planning a big renovation in our house, your Daddy just lost his job and has been spending a lot of time searching for a new one, and for almost the entirety of the past two weeks - you, Audrey and I have been sick with a cold or flu of some kind, which means we spend a lot of time in front of the TV. 

This is hard for me, because I felt a few months back as though I was just starting to 'get' how to be a good Mom to you, and then life became less easy and predictable and I've again lost my footing. 

You are intelligent and stubborn. In the past little while we have softened in our resolve to only allow you to have your gummy (soother/pacifier) for sleeptimes. This happened gradually as you grew out of napping, because we've been encouraging a 'quiet time' and have allowed the gummy during this time. Now that we've all been sick, 'quiet time' looks a lot like many times during the day, when we just spend the afternoon lounging in the living room. We have no informed you that when you turn 3, you will no longer be able to have your gummy - at all. I expect a few horrific days for all of us, but at this point I think cold-turkey will be the best way to go. I'm so sick of fighting with you about it. 

Your latest passion has been to sing - as much as possible. Your favourite song is 'Part of Your World' from The Little Mermaid, and you now know almost all of the lyrics for memory. You also love dressing up in your 'princess dresses', as you call all of your dress-up dresses, and I've even caught you dancing around in the living room. 

You've gotten pickier about food, and in the last few months our supper-time battle has become almost routine. You have less than two bites of supper, decide you don't want what we're serving and tell us you're 'done' and ask if you can go.  We try to make you eat more, but you stone-wall, and even if we can get more food into your mouth, you won't swallow it, so we seem to have no choice.  I'm not too worried about how little you eat, since you seem healthy enough, although I do wish I knew how to get you to eat more of the 'healthier' options at the table - like vegetables, which you almost always reject.

In the last few days, you and Audrey have started to really play together - and in part, I think this is because of your willingness to revert to her level.  You have started baby-babbling, occasionally, as well as repeating the same sound or motion over and over if it will make your sister laugh.  You have also started to become jealous of Audrey and you are frequently taking toys away from her. I want the two of you to learn how to play together, but so far I always tell you to give toys back to Audrey if I catch you taking toys from her. 

There is so much I want to teach you, so much I want to do with you, so many experiences I want to share with you - and I already feel like I'm falling so far behind. I hope this week we will all be healthy enough to continue taking you to your gymnastics class, and our lives can continue from there. In the meantime, please forgive me for my failings.... 

Monday, 14 October 2013 08:00

Gratitude

James 1:17 - Every good and perfect gift is from above.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about where we are in life, and how we got here. We bought our house after the housing boom, which means that our mortgage as a percentage of our income is about three times what our parents mortgages were 20 years ago, but we were blessed with the help of family and we have both been blessed with skills that give us part-time income at high hourly wages to cover our extra costs. 

Sometimes I feel proud of where we have come and how we have gotten here, because we have done it by working hard - but last week, Brian was given notice at his job.  Not because he had performed poorly, but because the company just happened to be downsizing extremely - and will soon be one man working from his home - without really giving any advance warning signs. Now he is job hunting again after less than a year, and although I'm confident he will find a job, and we will be fine, it makes me stop and think about the 'what ifs' of our situation - and about the reality of many other people's situations.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. 

I know that this first verse is typically used by Christians who want to argue that they don't have to actually DO anything as a Christian (ie - it is not by works), but the last part of these verses has struck me recently as maybe being more to the point - 'so that no one can boast'.  

Because really - Brian and I are not 'here' because we did all of the right things. We don't have a house, we don't have each other, and we don't have our two daughters because we followed 'the perfect formula' to acheive these things.  There are many, many people who save up for years to buy a house, and as the housing prices skyrocket, and wages don't increase - their hopes become more and more distant. There are people who spend huge amounts of time and energy trying to 'meet the right person' in various ways, and yet are still single. And there are many, many infertile couples who desperately want a child of their own.

And of course there are some 'wrong' things to do to acheive these ends - but for the most part, these people don't have the things they want - not because they haven't done all of the right things, and worked harder to acheive these things than I have, but because for whatever reason - they just don't.  Things just didn't work out for them like they have for me - and I can't give a reason why. 

I can't tell you why a brain surgeon from the middle east is working two minimum wage jobs in North America trying to pay the rent for his family, despite all of his education and effort.  I can't tell you why the woman with two young children whose husband just got sick of her and walked away is now homeless and jobless with two babies to feed.  I can't tell you why the couple who always wanted many children have had to stop after just one because health issues during her pregnancy mean that another pregnancy would risk her life. None of this is fair, and I don't deserve any of these things any more than so many people in the world who will never have what I have. 

So that I can not boast - I need to know that every good and perfect gift is from above, and not because I am 'that awesome', but because - for whatever reason - God chose to bless me with what he has blessed me with. It's not even because I have worked really hard, because so many people have worked much harder than I have, but still have less. Knowing that gives me a bit of extra responsibility, I think - to take very good and careful care of what I have been given, and to make sure I am using what I have been given wisely. 

And - mostly - I want to be grateful.

For everything in the world that I have that I don't have to have. Everything I have that I am not entitled to. This includes my house, my husband, my daughters, my car and the computer I am typing this on. I am not entitled to the clothing I wear, or the food I eat - not even the breathe in my lungs, because most people don't even have that anymore. My dad doesn't. And my breathe could stop at any moment, which means that I need to be grateful - and behave with gratitude - for every single second of my life and everything in it. 

And may the thanks be to God - so that no one may boast. 

Monday, 07 October 2013 19:53

Catch the Moment - Playing in a Box

My friend Sarah over at Nurse Loves Farmer, along with her friend Mindi from Simply Stavish, host this blog link-up on the first Monday of every month.  As the name suggests, it's all about taking pictures and 'catching moments' in life through photography.  Since I've been trying to work a little bit on my photography skills (which are pretty dismal, I know...), I love this excuse for myself to find and post a 'moment' that I've photographed from the past month. 

Catch The Moment
I found the girls playing together around a cardboard box, and when Clara crawled into it Audrey clearly wanted to join her. So, I plopped her down next to her sister and took a few pictures! 

Note that both 'Bo's' had to be included in this playtime...

If you have some photos you'd like to share, check out the link-up (above) and join up! Clearly you don't have to be a great photographer... :)

On August 30 of this year, Audrey started army crawling.  Since then, she has been pulling herself onto furniture and keeping us incredibly busy keeping up to her investigative personality.  A whole new level of 'baby proofing' has become necessary that just wasn't an issue when Clara was this age.  The two girls are so different, and our perceptions of them are so different - it really is fascinating to compare them as they grow. 

Dear Audrey,

You have gone from army crawling, to 'proper' crawling to pulling yourself up onto furniture in only a few short weeks.  You will walk if someone is holding both of your hands, but you are still not confident enough to take any steps if one of your hands is free.  I keep trying to let go of one of your hands only to have you stop and reach up - looking for another hand to hold. 

Your investigative skills are getting harder and harder to keep up with - just this week when we had friends over and you were one of four children running around, despite having two Moms to supervise, we lost you!  Suddenly we couldn't find you anywhere - we looked into every room we thought you could access, and even checked the stairs although we had been standing right next to them and were quite sure you hadn't gotten past us.  Then, we looked past the barricade that we had built in the hallway to keep you from going into the end room - and sure enough, you were in the 'cat room', eating cat food.  We will never underestimate your skills again. 

You are constantly on the move - it's even difficult to give you a diaper change, because you are always wildly trying to get away. 

Your absolute favourite toys right now are the ones you can crawl into or on top of.  We have one of those long folding tunnels from IKEA, and a Dora the Explorer Pop-up tent, and you love to crawl into both of these things.  I've been excited to see you and Clara spend more time alone with each other inside that tent.  There is also a large stuffed tiger in our basement that Clara got as a gift from your Grandma and Grandpa - your Grandpa picked it out before he died - and you love crawling on it.  You also seem completely unconcerned with how often you fall over onto your head. 

You are babbling just as much as last month - no more - but your noises are starting to resemble words more and more.  You say 'Mummum!' when you're angry, and 'Dadadada' when you're happy and excited - and usually you direct them to the correct parent.  I have heard you copy our inflections on more than one occasion, and I'm sure I even heard you say 'Didi' (sister) once. 

You still have no teeth!!! I don't have any idea what's up with that.  You still eat lots, but only if we let you feed yourself.  It's frustrating for me, because you make an enormous mess, but I know it's better for you to learn how to eat on your own.  I just need to learn to deal with the mess.  I've started letting you use a spoon occasionally - and in only a few times trying, you've actually got it mostly figured out.  It really only works with food that's sticky enough to stay on the spoon without dripping, but I'll still call that a success! 

Your days of breastfeeding are almost over.  You still nurse before bed, and once early in the morning when you've started to wake up again (4-5am), but you don't seem to need it or ask for it anymore, and you LOVE drinking milk from a bottle so I think that we will soon be transitioning to no more breastfeeding.  

You have begun to tantrum to get your way - usually when someone takes something away from you.  Clara will sometimes do this, and you'll start crying until either she gives it back or gives you something else to distract you.  You also don't appreciate it if someone else is given a snack or a treat in your presence without offering any to you. You're beginning to grow into quite a little princess...

Just as Clara has grown out of her afternoon nap, you have started needing them at 1 or 2pm every day - as if on schedule.  Occasionally you still have a late morning nap, which pushes your afternoon nap later into the day, but most of the time you have one nap a day that starts at 1 or 2pm and lasts for 2-3 hours.  I can't believe you are no longer an infant already - the time has flown by so quickly!

I've had to start saying 'No' to you - since you're moving enough to get into everything! I caught you trying to plug in my computer the other day - another trick that Clara never tried, so it never occured to me to watch for it.  When I say 'No' to you, you giggle and try again until I physically take you away from the area at which point you will say 'Nuh nuh nuh nuh' repeatedly while shaking your head back and forth. 

Looking at all the pictures here, I must admit that your hair does not look curly. I'm still hoping for a bit of a wave, though, and I've started to notice that in comparison to Clara's hair - and even mine - your hair actually seems a bit 'wiry', which I suspect means it will be thicker.  I hope you don't hate me someday for being excited about that for you... 

This is another of your new favourite places to play - inside the coffee table. I couldn't find you the other day - I was certain I'd put you in the Living Room! - and I found you on the shelf below the coffee table. I thought it was too funny to not take a few pictures... 

My dear Audrey, we are definitely at a point where I can't remember a time when you weren't here, and yet - as I put away clothes that you are rapidly outgrowing - I feel as though you haven't possibly had enough time to get so big!  I love your endless snuggles, easy smiles and laid-back personality. I love watching you chase around your sister and the cat - just trying to keep up - and listening to you giggle hysterically when Clara decides to chase you back.  

I just can't imagine life without you, my beautiful baby girl. 

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!

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