Oct 31, 2010

Pumpkin Carving

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Last night our little family had lots of fun carving pumpkins. We made sure to prepare our work station really well. We played some music and made an event of it. My little girl was uncomfortable with the cleaning of the pumpkins. Also, once we started carving them she said, "Uh, oh... need to fix it."

My hubby carved Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I carved my daughter's pumpkin just like the pumpkin from the Karen Katz book, Where's Baby's Pumpkin? I also carved my own pumpkin, who I affectionately named, Chuckles.

What a great family activity!

Happy Halloween to all the little kiddies out there!

Click picture to enlarge

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Oct 30, 2010

My Blog Is Carbon Neutral

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The environment and the state of our beautiful planet is something that I have been passionate about for a long time. However, once I gave birth to my little girl caring for the environment became an unhealthy obsession. I overwhelmed myself with a variety of efforts to assist in the protection of our planet but I felt like my efforts were inadequate. In order to maintain my sanity I've shifted to a more balanced perspective in my efforts to protect and preserve our world. I've realized that all I can control is my own family's carbon footprint.


I was recently visiting a fellow blog writer's website and she shared a link to an awesome initiative. The process is easy! All I had to do was write a short post about their program and place a button on my blog. I then email their company the link to my posting. In return they plant a tree to offset the carbon footprint that my blog makes. How cool is that? So from now on my blog will proudly display the following button: 

local shopping offers and coupons with kaufDA.de

I can't save the environment by myself... but I can help in the process of education. Together we can make a difference. If you would like more information about this unique environmental program, check it out here:
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Words of Wisdom

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I have a confession to make... I am a closet quote collector. I love quotations that speak to my heart and challenge my mind. It's amazing how a few small words can inspire and evoke a whole range of emotions.

Over the years I have collected a number of quotes which touch my spirit. When I hear or read a quotation that I don't want to forget I write it down and then I share it. Recently, a dear friend shared the following quote with me:
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." Martin Luther King Jr.
This quote was shared with me at a time that I was losing hope but I will definitely keep it close to my heart as I continue my journey to try to conceive a child.

So what's my favourite quotation? Probably one of my favourites is:
"Life is no 'brief candle' to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations." George Bernard Shaw
As an early childhood educator, these words speak to my heart and the purpose of the career that I have chosen.

Are you a closet quote collector? Do you have a favourite quote? If so, I would love to hear the words of wisdom that speak to your heart.

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Oct 29, 2010

{this moment: feeding Mignon}

3 comments:
Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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Oct 28, 2010

Clean Collage

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I like providing a variety of art activities for my little girl. I believe that like literacy, creativity needs to be fostered. In particular, open-ended art projects are especially important in our house. Painting, drawing, sculpting... all of these activities have no right or wrong way of doing them. They are projects which allow for infinite creativity and imagination.

Recently, I tried a no-mess collage with my daughter. It's now a new favourite activity in our household. This art project is so flexible it can be done with older infants and young toddlers!

What's Needed
Clear "Contact" shelving paper cut into a large rectangle
Tape
Miscellaneous recycled materials (e.g. tissue paper, yarn, ribbon, wrapping paper scraps, fabric pieces, etc.)

The Process
Cut a large rectangle out of the clear Contact paper.

Tape the contact paper onto a flat surface (a table or easel). The paper/writing should be facing up (See the picture below).

Gather and prepare a variety of recycled materials and place in a container.

Peel off the paper covering from the contact paper (the surface should now be sticky).


Encourage your child to place/arrange the recycled materials onto the sticky surface. Isn't that great! No glue!


They can stick as much or as little as they want onto the paper.


I love that if the sticky paper is not too full of materials, it can be stuck to a wall as is. The contact paper does not have a damaging glue and can be easily removed from a wall when it's done being displayed (see the picture below).


My daughter loves this art project! It's something she can do with ease and she makes all the decisions as to what items to use and where to place them.


"Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
~Pablo Picasso~

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Oct 27, 2010

Vegan Cinnamon Buns

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I have searched, I have tried, I have found! For months I have been looking for the perfect vegan cinnamon bun recipe. I wanted something tasty but also something quick and easy to make. I finally found a Ninety Minute Cinnamon Roll recipe that I decided to "veganise" and here are the results.

The Ingredients
3/4 cups rice or soy milk
1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce package of instant yeast)
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup water
Egg substitute (enough for 1 egg)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

The Process
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles. Remove from heat. Mix in 1/4 cup margarine, stir until completely melted. Let cool until lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, yeast, organic cane sugar and salt; mix well. Add water, egg substitute and the milk to the mixture; beat well. Add the remaining flour, (1/2 cup at a time), stirring well after each addition.

When the dough has just pulled together, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 cup softened margarine.

Roll out dough into a 12" x 9" rectangle. Spread dough with margarine/cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. Sprinkle with raisins (if desired). Roll up dough and pinch the seam to seal. Cut into 12 equal sized rolls and place cup side up in a large, shallow, lightly greased, casserole dish. Cover and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes). Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).

Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until browned.

Remove from pan to cool on wire racks.

Best if served warm. Makes twelve rolls.

IF YOU DON'T HAVE EGG REPLACER AVAILABLE
Whisk the following ingredients together until frothy. This recipe sufficiently substitutes one egg. 

1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp water

If you like icing on your cinnamon buns, this recipe seems to satisfy.

4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup plain unsweetened soy yogurt OR dairy-free cream cheese
1 T. hot water
1 t. vanilla extract

Whip all the ingredients together until smooth. Makes about 2 1/2 cups of topping.
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Oct 25, 2010

Snow

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Me
I rolled out of bed. I could feel it in my bones and down my spine. It wasn't necessary to peek out the window but I needed to confirm with my eyes what my body was already telling me. It snowed last night. Not a dusting but rather a dumping.

I groaned. Six months of winter here we come.

My Daughter
"Mommy, look at the snow!!!"

These were the first words out of my daughter's mouth this morning. I walked into her room and saw she was standing on her bed, on her tip toes, looking out the window. Her face was beaming. Her eyes were sparkling. Snow had fallen last night and had changed the appearance of her entire world.

"Let's go get some!" she exclaimed as she jumped off of her bed.

Me
I dug through bins looking for winter gear. Mismatched mittens. Assorted toques. Tattered scarves. Old boots.

Why do I live here? Why can't I live someplace warmer?

My Daughter 
I watched as she stomped around the front entrance in her boots. She smiled and laughed and toddled back and forth while trying to keep her balance in her big, clumsy, footwear.

We put on her mittens and she looked at them as if they were covered with diamonds and rubies. She gracefully waved and twirled her cloaked hands in front of her face.

I opened the door and watched as she clomped through the snow. She squinted as snowflakes fluttered down from the sky and landed on her eyelashes.

She grinned.

Me
I swept the snow from the windshield, slipping a few times in the ice that had formed around the car. My feet were frozen despite being in winter boots and some snow had found its way into my right boot. I could feel it already melting and my socks were absorbing the moisture.

Why couldn't we live in a house that has a garage?

My Daughter 
She sat in her car seat, wearing a great big smile as I scraped and swept the windshield. Every once and a while she would burst into laughter because I had slipped and made a funny face while doing so.

Me
What is it about the first snowfall that every person instantly forgets how to drive? I am extra tense and cautious as I accelerate through the intersections.

Why do I have to work? If I didn't work I could hibernate all winter long and avoid miserable days such as this one.

My Daughter 
"It's raining, it's snowing. It's snowing. It's snowing."

She sings loudly.

"Mommy look! It's snowing."

I hadn't noticed.

Winter's here. Six or seven months of snow, ice and cold temperatures. Today I came to the realization that the only way I can possibly survive the coming season is if I smile and embrace it like a two-year-old. 
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Oct 24, 2010

Random Thoughts After Two Glasses of Wine - Oh That's All Right!

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Here are my latest wine-induced thoughts (and the unpretentious wine review to go with it).

I will start this posting with a small disclaimer: Mom and Dad I love you and I love your home. You are wonderful parents/grandparents. You did suggest I write about this... so here I go.

Last night I went over for dinner at my parent's house. My mom and dad moved into their current home about three months ago. It's a beautiful bi-level with many breakable items on almost every surface imaginable. For the mother of a two-year-old, it is a nightmare! Everywhere I look I see an accident ready to happen! Porcelain figurines, dishware, vases, tabletop clocks, electronics... the list goes on and on. I know most people have heard of the cliche "bull in a china shop", but this doesn't nearly describe my daughter in their home. Everything is interesting, everything needs to be picked up, analyzed, carried around and relocated. We do our best to stay on top of her but if we monitored her 100% of the time we would barely be able to visit.

I remember when I was a little girl that I would play with my parent's keepsakes. I also recall on numerous occasions, how I broke the aforementioned keepsakes. This would usually result in a scolding, a lecture about the value of money, punishment and/or a deduction in my allowance.

Now fast-forward thirty years.

Last night my dad thought he would pull out a variety of his collectible toys to show my little girl. I prodded, "Dad... are you sure you want to take out your tin robots?" He laughed and said, "Sure, sure, little Tooey will love them."

I was paralyzed with fear as I witnessed my dad bringing out countless collectible toys. I recall waves of nausea and the feeling of wanting to curl up in the fetal position in a corner of the room as I watched my daughter man-handle my dad's collectibles. I finally intervened and said, "Be gentle! Be careful with Papa Jules' toys!" 

That was when my mom and dad responded (in perfect harmony with one another), "Oh that's all right."

Oh, that's all right??? Oh, that's all right!!! What???!!!

My little girl was playing with toys which one could only infer were cumulatively worth almost as much as what I make in one month at my full-time job! 

Oh, that's all right??? 

Really?

Apparently so.

I guess thirty years (and having a cute granddaughter) can change your perspective.

Thanks Mom and Dad. I now have permission to unleash my little girl in your house. Just remember you said those four magic words... "Oh, that's all right"

Cheers!

This post has been brought to you by Girasole Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was attracted to this organic red wine because of the vibrant picture of sunflowers on the label. Then I read the label and it said this wine pairs well with chocolate. Chocolate? Sold! 

It's a smooth, flavourful Californian wine which does indeed pair well with chocolate, thus, I would definitely purchase it again.

**Disclaimer: This was not a paid review. I like wine and I'm adventurous in selecting wines to try. Pretty labels, organic vineyards, interesting names and/or price usually persuade me in my decision to try a particular wine. Although free wine would be pretty cool, wouldn't it?**
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Oct 23, 2010

Vegan Breadsticks

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My family (especially my little girl) loves this recipe. The original recipe for Soft Breadsticks is found at cooks.com... but I've modified it to make it dairy-free for my daughter.

Recently, she helped me bake a batch.

Vegan Breadsticks

The Ingredients
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp organic cane sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1 Tbsp finely chopped, fresh rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano

1 1/3 cups original (plain) rice or soy milk
6 Tbsp melted vegan margarine

The Process
Preheat oven to 450 F.
In a medium bowl, combine the first 9 (dry) ingredients.


Gradually add rice/soy milk and stir to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface.

Knead gently 3 to 4 times. Roll flat into a 20 x 5 x 1/2" rectangle.


Cut into 16 - 24 breadsticks.

Place melted butter in two 13 x 9" pans.

Put breadsticks in butter and turn to coat well.

Bake at 450 F for 14-15 minutes.


Enjoy! These breadsticks are very soft, flavourful and addictive!


The other wonderful thing about cooking with children... they usually don't mind cleaning up afterwards!

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Oct 22, 2010

{this moment: little cook, big apron}

2 comments:
Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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Oct 21, 2010

Sentimental Mom Series - Part II - The Birthday Tablecloth

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Call me sentimental. Call me nostalgic. I am notorious for collecting keepsakes which capture moments in time with my little girl. Welcome to the Sentimental Mom Series; assorted ideas to inspire your own commemorative mementos of the time spent with your children.

Part II
Birthdays are wonderful times to capture special moments. When we were planning my daughter's first birthday party we were trying to come up with environmentally-friendly ways to decorate. Instead of using a disposable tablecloth, we purchased a white fabric tablecloth and provided fabric markers so that friends and family members could write birthday messages to her.

A fabric tablecloth that can be signed with fabric markers on every birthday. #DIY #keepsake #birthday
  
We will bring out the birthday tablecloth every year on our daughter's birthday and add new messages to it. I hope that one day it will be an extra special keepsake for her.

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Oct 20, 2010

Humbled

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One road to freedom

It's been a couple days since I opened my heart and wrote the posting, The Day My Paper Shredder Made Me Cry . Within a couple hours of disclosing my innermost, rawest, feelings, my e-mail box was flooded with messages of support, encouragement and advice. There are no words to describe the outpouring of love and support I have received over the past 48 hours. I am humbled.

So many of the messages I received were about personal journeys. Some triumphant. Some full of sorrow. Miscarriages, years of waiting, fertility treatments, prayers, adoption... each person different, yet all united by a similar theme of wanting a child.

I am taking this moment to thank you. I had felt so alone in my grief. I was drowning in sorrow and burdened with feelings I could not control. My heart still aches and yearns for a child but I now know that I am not alone. Thank you for reminding me that there is always hope and that my journey is exactly that... a journey. I haven't arrived at my destination yet but I have more companions now than when this journey began eight months ago. For that, I am grateful.

Photo Credit
Photo by helios89 found in the Creative Commons on Flickr


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Oct 18, 2010

The Day My Paper Shredder Made Me Cry

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Tears are tasteless


Today I was shredding some documents when the shredder got jammed. As I fought with the papers, I burst into tears. I crumpled to the ground and bawled my eyes out. It's not about the stupid shredder... I can no longer carry this burden. I am having fertility issues.

I am the mother of one wonderful little girl. She is everything a mother could hope and wish for. I feel so fortunate to have her in my life... which compounds the guilt I have over not being able to conceive a second child.

We have been trying to conceive for the past eight months. My cycle is like clockwork, which helped in our first pregnancy. Less than three months of trying and I was pregnant. Even though I've heard it can take a year to a year and a half to get pregnant, I can't help but worry and think that maybe that my little family will remain a family of three. The process of trying to conceive has been a struggle. The Excel spreadsheets I've made highlighting all the elements surrounding my cycle are mind-numbing. My linen closet conceals the ovulation and pregnancy kits that I've purchased in bulk. I have planned exactly how we would announce our news of a second child. All of this and nothing but frustration, guilt, stress and fatigue.

I realize that many people struggle with conception and infertility. I feel very fortunate that I have my daughter but I had never planned for her to be an only child. I have so many regrets. I regret waiting for as long as we did to start trying again. I regret sharing my previous pregnancy story and boasting at how easy it was to conceive my daughter, I regret every moment in which I dwell on my "missed conceptions" and I regret being unable to verbally express these feelings with those who are close to me.

The conception and fertility road is a lonely one. To balance sharing what's happening in your life with what people actually want to hear is complicated. There are few people who can bear hearing the woes of someone trying to conceive a child (particularly if it's your second one). I have a wonderful, loving and attentive husband but I purposely try to balance what I'm feeling with what he can or is willing to hear. He's sure we'll conceive again. I on the other hand, have my doubts. I am five years older than him and a couple months shy of being thirty-six. I am not in my baby-making prime. I feel like my body is failing me. I am failing my daughter. I am failing my husband. I am failing as a woman.

Every month I sink to the depths of despair when I realize we have still not conceived. I avoid allergy medications and refuse glasses of wine with hopes that I may soon be pregnant. I am surrounded by people who have beautiful babies or are soon-to-be parents and I wonder if I will ever get the chance to carry a child again.

Perhaps my experience with motherhood stops at one child. The thought crushes me. I want the joy of hearing my baby's heartbeat for the first time. I want to see my baby in an ultrasound. I want to feel my child's burps and hiccups inside of me. I want that moment of instant love-at-first-sight - when I first hold my newborn child. I want the wonderful bond of nursing my baby. I want to hold a warm little body dressed in terry towel pajamas and swaddled in a fuzzy blanket. I want to watch the first steps and cry at the first words. I even want the evening wakings and messy diapers. I want one more baby. That's all that I ask for.

So now what? We won't give up. We'll keep on trying. We'll keep on hoping. That's all that we can do for now.

Photo Credit
Photo by Megyarsh found in the Creative Commons on Flickr
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Sentimental Mom Series - Part I

3 comments:

Call me sentimental. Call me nostalgic. I am notorious for collecting keepsakes which capture moments in time with my little girl. Welcome to the Sentimental Mom Series, assorted ideas to inspire your own commemorative mementos of the time spent with your children.

Part I
Every month, on the anniversary of my daughter's birth, I take a picture of her. She is almost three now and I love scrolling through her anniversary photos and seeing how much she's changed. One of my favourite mementos is the invitation I created for her first birthday. The front of the card included her anniversary snapshots for the entire year. The card was printed on glossy paper and many family members and friends kept the invitation as a special keepsake.


The pictures are in order from left to right... starting with her birth, through to her eleventh month. I intend to continue the practice of taking pictures on the anniversary of her birth - it's like a photo diary that captures the development of this wonderful little person.

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Oct 17, 2010

Running Errands With Children

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14 Tips To Run Errands With Children

Errands. Whether it's groceries to be purchased, dry cleaning to be picked up, gifts to buy, or parcels to be mailed, running errands with children can be frustrating and overwhelming. Here are some tips to make these tasks go a little smoother for everyone involved.

1- Make a list. Before hopping into the car and driving from one spot to the next, make a list of all you want to accomplish in the day. Try to be realistic and consider how many errands your children can tolerate.

2- Prioritize your list. Order the tasks to be done based upon necessity. You will feel much better if you get two imperative tasks done as opposed to four not-so-important tasks.

3- Don't leave the house hungry! If you and your children have full bellies, everyone will be in a better mood. Make sure to bring some healthy snacks too!

4- Keep tabs on your own attitude. If you're griping about all that needs to be done, the traffic or waiting in lines, how can you expect your child to do differently? Be a positive role-model, smile and be courteous. If you're enjoying this time of running errands, your children will be more likely to enjoy it too.

5- Tell your children ahead of time which places they will be going to. Knowing what to expect can make all the difference.

6- Plan to involve your children at each stop. For example, while grocery shopping, allow your children to help select items from the produce section of the store or let them help put some items onto the conveyor belt. While at the dry cleaners, they can give the clothing ticket to the personnel. At the post office, they can be in charge of putting letters into the mail box.

7- If you have little children, get the "fun" carts for the grocery shopping trip. Sitting in a race car while shopping can make all the difference to the success of the trip. Some grocery stores have miniature carts for children; this can also be an enticing element to a grocery trip.

8- Have an errands bag that is brought on days such as these. The bag can have items such as crayons, sketch pads, finger puppets, books and snacks. We have our errands bag hanging on a coat hanger in the front closet. It's always packed and ready to go!

9- Plan ahead and make a game of it. For example, you can create errand bingo cards (for multiple children, make sure the bingo cards are identical so that the game doesn't get competitive). After each errand they get a sticker on the location visited. The cards can be 3x3, 4x4 or 5x5, depending on how many locations are visited. A row of stickers and they win!

10- If your children are not in good spirits, don't force them through all the errands. A negative experience of running errands can make them resentful towards future outings such as these. Try to make the experience as positive as possible for everyone involved.

11- Give positive reinforcement throughout the trip. For example, "Wow! You were so helpful with gathering the groceries! Thank you!"

12- If there's lots of driving involved, let them select the music that they would like to listen to. Music can have a great impact on one's mood!

13- When you see a bathroom, use it. Regular bathroom stops helps to avoid toileting accidents or overflowing diapers.

14- Reward the day's success by having the last stop of the day be something they enjoy. For example, end the day with a trip to the toy store, the park, pizza, ice cream, etc.

Do you have any "tricks" that get you through running errands with your children? Feel free to comment/add to this list!



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Oct 15, 2010

{this moment: catching bubbles}

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Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!


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Oct 14, 2010

Allergies: The Scariest Thing About Halloween

3 comments:

Bring on the ghouls, the ghosts, the zombies, the black cats, the goblins, the monsters! In our house, the scariest thing about Halloween is my daughter's life-threatening allergy to dairy. Anaphylaxis is terrifying... you would never know to look at my daughter just how fragile life can be for her. One mistake, one slip, and her life is in danger. That, to any mother, is frightening.

My little girl is almost three years old. Halloween is already a big deal to her. I want her to be able to live as "normally" as possible. So, as long as she's interested, we will find ways to make it a safe occasion for her.

Here are some tips, ideas and suggestions that I have compiled to help our family and others through this frightening season.

Education 
1- I'm all about reading! There is a preschool picture book The No Biggie Bunch Trade-or-Treat Halloween that tells the story of children who trade their unsafe candies for great surprises!

2- As always, talk to your child about their allergies. Let them know how important it is that they eat food that is safe for them. If they're not sure if it's safe then they need to ask an adult.

3- Talk to your child's school. What will the school do to ensure that your child is not exposed to the allergen?

4- Also ensure that the school and your child's teacher have written copies of your child's health emergency plan (if you don't have one, a free template is available at Safe-4-Kids).

5- Make sure everyone close to your child knows how to administer an Epi-Pen. Did you know that Epi-Pen offers a free anaphylaxis information kit? All you have to do is register with them and order the kit (which includes a reference card, an instructional DVD and an Epi-Pen trainer).

Trick-Or-Treating
1- Before your child goes trick-or-treating, ensure he/she has had a big meal. Bring (or send them with) a "safe snack" for if they get hungry while out trick-or-treating.

2- Ensure your child carries his/her Epi-Pen(s) at all times.

3- Ensure your child wears his/her medic-alert bracelet at all times (don't let them convince you that it doesn't go with the costume).

4- Go trick-or-treating with your child. If your child wants to go trick-or-treating with friends then ensure that their friends know the significance of their allergies and where your child keeps his/her Epi-Pen(s). Ensure they have a cell phone and your number in case of an emergency.

5- Only go trick-or-treating at "safe" houses. Family or friends who know your child has allergies can be given safe treats ahead of time to provide to your child.

6- Participate in a fundraiser like Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network's annual Halloween Donation Fundraiser. Your child can collect money for a good cause and when they get home, they can have safe treats provided by you!

Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating
1- Don't participate. Dress up at home and hand out safe treats. Buy lots and your child can have the leftovers.

2- Organize a Halloween party. Let your child help plan it. This way, you control the food that's provided and the treats that are handed out.

The Treats
1- If it doesn't have an ingredients label, it gets thrown out.

2- If your child collected a variety of treats, you can buy the unsafe treats from them. For older children you can set a price per piece of candy and it becomes a fun math activity.

3- Trade the unsafe treats for alternative treats.

4- Trade the unsafe treats for a toy they want.

5- Need some safe treat ideas? Pencils, erasers, markers, pencil crayons, activity books, picture books, spinning tops, bouncy balls, stickers, collectable cards, toothbrushes, toy jewelry, juice boxes, mini flashlights, tattoos, etc.

Halloween doesn't have to be so frightening... it can be a fun time for you and your child.


Disclaimer
Some of the links in this posting are affiliate links. When one of these links are clicked, our family receives a small compensation. Thank you for your support.

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Oct 13, 2010

Downward Dogging It

3 comments:
I started practicing yoga about three years ago when I was pregnant with my little girl. It was love at first breath. What other exercise allows for a ten minute rest time (Savasana)? To be forced to relax for ten minutes is the best thing ever!

Unfortunately, I have fallen off the yoga-love wagon. It started a few months ago when my yoga buddies started taking classes at a different time than me. I finished off the session I was enrolled in and I have not attended since June.

In my mind, I thought I could maintain my enjoyment of yoga at home and put the money saved towards something else. I thought I would do one of my many yoga DVDs that I have at home or I could practice yoga using the Wii. I was lying to myself. I'm not motivated to do anything more than a lotus (cross-legged) pose while sitting on the floor with my daughter. Oh, and the money saved, I don't know where it is or what it went towards.

There's something special about going to a yoga studio. Perhaps it's the fact that the classes are uninterrupted... time for me. Perhaps it's the gentle hands-on guidance of a great yoga teacher. Or maybe it's the ambience of gentle music, stunning artwork and flickering candles on the windowsills of the room. Whatever it is, I am desperately missing my yoga classes.

I'm starting to feel the effects of a life without yoga. I'm tired, my body feels stiff, I get frequent headaches, I don't feel as fit, my mind is cluttered with useless meandering thoughts and I get stressed more easily.

So, I'm not going to dog it anymore. It's time to dig out the yoga clothes, unroll my mat and take a few deep breaths.

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Oct 11, 2010

Vegan Squash Braid

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I received this recipe from a friend of a friend (I know it sounds cliche... but sincerely it's the truth). The original recipe can be found at http://www.allrecipes.com/. Since I'm always baking breads for my daughter who is allergic to dairy and eggs, I decided to adapt the recipe and make a vegan version. I was impressed with the results and thought I would share the recipe with everyone.


Vegan Squash Braid

The Ingredients
1 package (.25 oz) active dry yeast
2 Tbsp warm water (110 - 115 degrees F)
1 cup mashed, cooked, butternut squash
1/3 cup warm soy or rice milk (110 - 115 degrees F)
1/4 cup vegan margarine
egg replacement (enough for 1 egg)
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

GLAZE:
2 Tbsp melted vegan margarine
2 tsp brown sugar

The Process
Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place cut ends down on a baking sheet with a thin layer of water. Cook at 400 degrees for approximately 40 - 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water.

In a mixing bowl, combine squash, soy or rice milk, vegan margarine, egg replacement, brown sugar and salt; mix well.

Add yeast mixture and 1 1/2 cups flour; mix well.

Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).

Punch dough down. Divide into thirds; roll each third into a 18-inch rope. 

Place on a greased baking sheet. Braid ropes together. Pinch ends. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled (about 30 minutes).

Combine glaze ingredients; brush over braid.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25  minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy! This delicious bread melts in your mouth and is so flavourful it can be eaten on its own. It also looks pretty too!


IF YOU DON'T HAVE EGG REPLACER AVAILABLE
Whisk the following ingredients together until frothy. This recipe sufficiently substitutes one egg. 

1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp water
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Oct 10, 2010

Being Thankful

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I remember sitting at a desk in school and writing what I'm thankful for on a paper turkey or cornucopia. That "lesson" has stuck with me through the years, because to me, Thanksgiving is a time to reminisce about all the good things in my life.

The world often burdens us with thoughts of what is unsatisfactory in our lives, our shortcomings and our losses. However, Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful and dwell on all that is good. There is much to be thankful for... you just have to take a moment to think about it.

I rewrote this post several times trying to think of how to profess my thankfulness without being trite or dull. So, I thought I would do a thankful list. These words are simple and powerful descriptors of what I'm thankful for.

Husband. Daughter. Dad. MomBrother. Family.In-lawsFriends. Pets. Life. Love. Freedom. Health. Lake. Voting. Independence. Home. Food. Water. Clothing. Joy. Choices. Justice. Children. Education. Knowledge. Language. Senses. Laughter. Goodness. Generosity. Sunshine. Nature. Peace. Art. Books. Music. Creativity. You.

When was the last time you thought about what you're thankful for? Maybe it's time for you to make your own list.

"Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse." ~ Henry Van Dyke

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Oct 8, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

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Delicious. Decadent. Unbelievable. Chocolate. Addictive. Healthy!

I can't take credit for this recipe, but I'm sure I'm a gourmet genius in my daughter's eyes. Who would have thought avocado and a few other ingredients could make such a delicious, decadent, dessert? It sounds odd but I swear it's fabulous... and it's made with some ingredients that pack some great nutrients and powerful antioxidants!!!

Avocados contain folate, potassium, vitamin E, lutein, and consist of monounsaturated fat (A 2 Z of Health and Beauty, 2010). The other key ingredient, cocoa, "contains a large amount of antioxidants Cocoa and dark chocolate may keep high blood pressure down and reduce the blood's ability to clot, thus the risk of stroke and heart attacks may be reduced" (Cacoaweb, 2010, paragraph 1).

Here's the recipe. Of course my daughter helped make it. It's a fantastic recipe to prepare with young children!

Raw Vegan Chocolate Pudding

The Ingredients
1 avocado  
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp cocoa
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup water (depends on the consistency you prefer)

The Process
1- Gather your ingredients. Peel and remove the pit from the avocado.

2- Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor.


Add water as you blend to ensure your preferred consistency.


3- Eat immediately or chill before serving.


It can be eaten alone, as a dip with fruit, used as icing for a vegan cake or frozen to make a gelato! Enjoy!


References
A 2 Z of Health and Beauty. (2010). Avocado nutrition facts and information. Retrieved October 7, 2010 from http://health.learninginfo.org/avocado.htm

Cacoaweb.net. (2010). Nutrition facts for cocoa and chocolate. Retrieved October 7, 2010 from http://www.cacaoweb.net/nutrition.html

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{this moment: ukelele}

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Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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Oct 5, 2010

Beauty and Aging

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Not long ago I read an article about a woman who is struggling with the fact that she's aging. She questioned if it was possible to age gracefully. She made an emotional plea to other women to share their stories or tips as to how to maintain one's body and look youthful. She also disclosed her own insecurities about her appearance

Being that I am in my mid-thirties I thought in great depth about her inquiry. Do I have issues with aging? What is beauty? What does beauty truly mean to me?

I see the wrinkles around my eyes from the years of joy and laughter. I see the stomach with stretch marks as a result of being pregnant with my beautiful little girl. I must admit, I dye my hair and put on make-up but overall, I accept the changes to my appearance as a natural part of life.

No, I do not have issues with aging and I think true beauty resides in feeling confident in our own skin, embracing the fact that we age, taking care of ourselves, and having a positive attitude about life.

Today I received an e-mail from a friend that talked about beauty. At the end of the e-mail was a beautiful poem written by Audrey Hepburn.

"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.  For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.  For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone...."
What remarkable words of wisdom.

As a woman, it is imperative that you reflect on what beauty means to you. If you are not confident in yourself and what beauty you have, there is a greater chance that you'll pass your insecurities on to your children. You are beautiful but before others can see it in you, you must first see it in yourself.
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Oct 3, 2010

I'm Not Going to Let Caring for the Environment Kill Me

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Greenhouse gases. Polluted waters. Melting polar ice caps. Animals in threat of extinction. Oil spills. Hazardous waste. Global warming. Climate change. When you read the headlines - news about our depleting planet is everywhere. It is perhaps one of the hottest topics of the 21st century.

Ever since I gave birth to my little girl, protecting and preserving our beautiful planet has been of increasing importance to me. I do my part to stay on top of our family's carbon footprint and I have a variety of strategies to ensure we are doing little damage to the planet.

This year we started our own garden. We compost. We use environmentally-friendly cleaning products. We have most of our electronics on power bars which we shut off when we're not home. About 30% of the food we buy is organic. Our daughter wears cloth diapers 85% of the time. We use cloth wipes on our daughter. We are minimalists and refrain from buying new. We recycle. We precycle, thus, we "minimize household waste by buying products with minimal, recycled and/or recyclable packaging" (HR Clean, 2004, p. 2). We utilize reusable shopping bags. We buy second-hand. We sell or donate items rather than throwing them out. We monitor our water usage. We do so much but it's never enough.

Caring about the environment is exhausting and I'm afraid it will kill me. The worry, the stress, the anxiety over what to buy and what product to use is overwhelming. Today I am going to say that I do a lot to protect and preserve our world... I am doing my part. Today, I am doing enough.


HR Clean. (2004). Reach for a change: Precycle. Retrieved June 23, 2010 from
http://www.hrclean.org/pdf/Precycle%20BrochurePDC.pdf .
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Oct 2, 2010

Simply Said

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Today I attended a baby shower and I couldn't help but reminisce about parenting and motherhood. As I enjoyed the festivities I thought about the advice I would give to a new mom. There's a lot of advice out there and most of it is well-intentioned. However, friends, family members, the media, the Internet, even perfect strangers seem to have plenty of opinions about being a parent. So here's my number one piece of advice....

"Only you can be the best mother to your child. You know your child best, so trust your instincts."

That's it. Simply said.
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Oct 1, 2010

{this moment: popcorn}

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Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!


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