Jan 31, 2011

My Best Life - Savings

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Monday, my least favourite day of the week. With "My Best Life" I have decided that every week I will commit to a strategy in order to make my life more positive.

Reflection on Last Week's Strategy

I shared last week that I would like to smile more (especially with people I don't know). I failed BIG TIME with this strategy. I found that after my first couple of days of success, I completely forgot my strategy for the week. While I'm walking I usually get so caught up in my thoughts!
The couple of times that I remembered to smile proved to be very interesting. One girl looked very uncomfortable and averted her eyes away from me. Another man beamed back at me and said, "Good morning." I like spreading joy. I hope I can remember to put this strategy into practice more often. In the future, I think I'm going to try to smile at people I don't know whenever I think of it. I think any effort is better than none.

This Week's Strategy

I can't believe this is my fifth week! I'm actually quite excited about the positive changes that have been occurring ever since I started this weekly schedule of goal-setting and reflection!

My strategy for this week is a different one. Usually I allocate $40 to my spending "account" every week. This week I am going to cut it down to $10. YIKES! I think I can do this. If I cut out coffees and smoothies and the occasional magazine, I think this goal is achievable.

How does this strategy make my life better? Well, with baby number two on the way, my husband and I have been contemplating taking a trip to the mountains. We figure it will be a nice escape before we are too busy and tired to think. We would also like this excursion for our daughter. It might be nice for all of us to have some quality family time before a new little person enters our lives.

I am hoping that if I can keep this strategy going until May, this money saved can be put towards the trip. This amount plus our additional savings would mean we would be paying for the trip entirely with cash (and not credit)... which makes me and my husband happy. I hate the guilt I feel after a trip when I've used a lot of credit. The "pain" after the vacation usually overshadows the joy of the trip.

Beyond the trip to the mountains, I think it's beneficial to cut back on my spending, especially since I will be starting my maternity leave in less than five months! After the baby is born I would like to take some mom & baby yoga classes and enroll my daughter in yoga classes as well. It would be nice to save up for these activities and pay for them with cash as well.

Please feel free to comment if the strategy for the week inspires you as well. In the meantime, I would like to wish you a wonderful week.


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Jan 29, 2011

Online Bargains For Mamas

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This cute "cat hat" is an online buy!
Shortly after I gave birth to my little girl, I was exposed to the wonderful, highly addictive world of online bargain shopping. I have found some incredible buys through some fantastic sites, so this blog posting serves as a list of my favorite shopping sites.

Many of the websites are "deal-of-the-day" sites which have a limited inventory of a certain product. I have bought wonderfully unique and name brand items, some of which include: sleep sacks, reusable shopping bags, cloth diapers, eco-friendly bath and laundering products, baby slippers, baby shoes, hats, clothes, etc. Also, some of these sites have "deal archives". Make sure to investigate these as you may find some great past deals now!

I hope this list helps you find your own one-of-a-kind bargains!

Baby Half Off
By far my favorite site! They offer a new deal at 8am (MST) daily (with the exception of Sundays).
Their website isn't clear as to whether they ship internationally. Canadian and USA delivery available.

Baby Steals
My second favourite site! They offer a new deal at 9am and 9pm (MST) daily.
Only ships to Canada and USA.

Kid Steals
Another favourite site (affiliated with Baby Steals).
Only ships to Canada and USA.

Mama Bargains
I love this site and their deal rotation is on a "sold-out" basis (which means that there can be four to six deals a day). I find it hard to monitor their deals because of this structure but they have some pretty awesome stuff!
Only ships to Canada and USA.

Baby Snazz
Their deal page is amazing (Baby Legs, Bummis, Slings and more)! You can find some items for as low as $3.97!!!
Only ships to Canada and USA. Free shipping in USA.

True Cuddles
I've found some super cute items on this site. They only offer deals weekly on Tuesday mornings (but usually the deal is worth the wait)!
Only ships to Canada and USA.

Fairytale Deals
Daily deals on some adorable items.
Only ships to Canada and USA. Offers flat rate shipping on most items.

Have you tried any online deal shopping? Please feel free to comment (or add to this list of super savings sites)!

Creativity kits for kids!

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Jan 28, 2011

{this moment: breakfast}

4 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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Jan 27, 2011

The Pregnant Neurotic

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I confess. I'm usually slightly neurotic. Now that I'm pregnant, I fear the worse has happened... I am highly neurotic!

I feel like I could write a whole novel about all the crazed moments I've had throughout this pregnancy so far... perhaps this will become another blog series for me (especially given that I'm only 15 weeks pregnant). In the meantime, I thought I would take the opportunity to share my most neurotic moment thus far in my pregnancy.

Leading up to my first prenatal appointment, I had these weird flutters in my upper chest area. The fluttering feeling almost made me feel nauseated. I never had morning sickness in my first pregnancy so I dismissed these flutters as nausea. Regardless, I thought I would discuss these odd sensations with my ObGyn. Well, it turns out my self diagnosis was incorrect. After listening to my heart for a couple of minutes she concluded that I have developed an irregular heartbeat.

AN IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT!!! Oh my God, I'm going to die!!! I swear I was screaming this in my head as she spoke these words to me (meanwhile I nodded and smiled like a normal person). She explained that this is actually very common and is due to increased blood flow and circulation. Nothing to worry about at this point in time. We'll monitor it throughout my pregnancy and of course, during labour.

So I left her office feeling satisfied that she didn't seem to concerned about this. Obviously it was nothing. She wasn't concerned, so I wasn't going to be concerned either. However, a couple weeks had passed and nagging thoughts weighed me down. Just how common is this irregular heartbeat thing? Could I have a heart attack? Will it indeed go away after I give birth?

So then I did what any neurotic person (with an internet connection) would do... I Googled irregular heartbeat during pregnancy. I read many different articles and forum postings about this. It is indeed quite common. Apparently there's a pregnancy "safe" medication that can be taken if the condition worsens. Usually it goes away after childbirth. But then I read IT... the posting that sent me off the deep end. A woman wrote about how her daughter (who had this condition) died while giving birth to her grandchild. Died. Died? DIED!!!!

My head started spinning. What the hell was wrong with my doctor? Why didn't she tell me that people die from this? Why didn't she tell me that I'm going to die from this? Oh my God, I'm going to die!!! I swear my husband loves me like crazy but if anything were to cause him to divorce me, it's my irrational behaviour after I've Googled something.

Needless to say, he loves me a lot and he quickly calmed my fears. He reminded me that this was one posting out of the thousands I had so diligently read. He also reassured me that he was going to be with me throughout the delivery, just like he was the first time and everything would be okay. Then he pulled out the popcorn maker and a switch flipped. Time to eat. Mmmmmm... popcorn.

Yes. I'm neurotic... a pregnant neurotic.
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Jan 24, 2011

My Best Life - To Smile More

3 comments:
Monday, my least favourite day of the week. With "My Best Life" I have decided that every week I will commit to a strategy in order to make my life more positive.

Reflection on Last Week's Strategy

I shared last week that I would like to do yoga two-three times outside of my regularly scheduled yoga class. This past week I was able to do two yoga routines outside of class. I find I'm exhausted at the end of the day, so yoga in the evenings has proven to be difficult. Therefore, in the upcoming weeks I will try to do at least one yoga routine on the weekend.

As for the deep breathing exercise... I forgot to embark on this. I have put a sticky note on my night stand that says "BREATHE". Hopefully this will serve as a daily reminder of my night time breathing routine.

This Week's Strategy

I want to live my best life. I am from the school of thought that we get this one chance to live our lives to the fullest and I intend on doing exactly that!
"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living an eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake." ~ Marie Beynon Ray
My strategy for this week is to smile more. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a super-friendly person who's always smiling. However, this is with people I know and feel comfortable with. This week I am going to look people (complete strangers) in the eye and smile at them. It's time to spread the joy... and a smile can do wonders. My strategy for now is to smile at just one total stranger per day. This does not apply to service people or cashiers but rather I will smile at people as I walk past them in aisles of stores and on the street. I can't wait to see what will happen.

Please feel free to comment if the strategy for the week inspires you as well. In the meantime, I would like to wish you a wonderful week.

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Jan 22, 2011

You Call THIS Baby Yoga???

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Being pregnant with my second child, I've been doing prenatal yoga and planning the exercise routines I will participate in after I've given birth. I've been looking into the Baby Yoga classes offered at my community yoga studio. I think it will be a nice fit because they also offer a simultaneous Preschool Yoga class that my daughter can attend while I'm at Baby Yoga with her sibling.

Then I saw this video and completely freaked out! Now I'm sure that my Baby Yoga class wouldn't do anything like this but oh my goodness... I can't believe someone would do this with their child! Just to warn you, this video can be disturbing. She is doing this routine with a real baby.

Click HERE for Baby Yoga Video

All I could think while watching this video is, "Never, ever, shake a baby!!!" This is by far, exercising gone too far. What are your thoughts?

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About Me - The Face Lift

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Ha ha! I bet I freaked you all out... and made you think I was getting (or got) a face lift. Actually this is just a brief posting to direct you to my newly renovated About Me page. I decided to take some time to add some additional, quirky facts about me. As I wrote down my odd details I couldn't help but think how weird I can really be. I'm sure my list isn't done and I'll be adding to it periodically! We all have our quirky sides though and I'm comfortable to share my crazy tidbits with you.

So join me on my virtual couch and feel free to comment and share if you have any similar quirks!
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Jan 21, 2011

{this moment: mom and daughter yoga}

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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Jan 19, 2011

Prenatal Nutrition

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According to Health Canada (2008) "It is... important to start taking vitamin supplements with Folic Acid before you get pregnant to reduce the risk of neural tube defect" (paragraph 1). However, prenatal vitamins don't agree with my stomach. I found this out when I started taking prenatal vitamins when my husband and I were trying to get pregnant. The vitamins gave me intense stomach aches regardless of the time of day that I took them and whether I took them on a full or an empty stomach. I even tried cutting the pills and taking two half doses per day but the stomach aches persisted.

What was I to do? Well, I ended up doing a little research and Health Canada indicated that 0.4 mg of folic acid was recommended per day. I found a 0.4 mg dosage of folic acid and started taking it as a solitary supplement. I also ensured I was eating foods that contained folic acid as well.

For instance, folic acid can be found in the following foods:
Asparagus
Avocado
Broccoli
Collard greens
Kale
Enriched breakfast cereals (most are enriched with folic acid)
Enriched pastas
Legumes (kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans)
Orange juice / oranges
Peanuts
Spinach

Another area that I struggle with is my consumption of recommended doses of calcium. Since my daughter is anaphylactic to dairy products, we have almost no dairy products in the house. I have rice milk in my cereal and drink a glass of soy milk per day but that's about it for my calcium intake.

So, we started purchasing orange juice that was enriched with calcium, I began eating more eggs and I started to incorporate some dairy products back into my diet (mainly cheese and yogurt). Other than that, I ensure I eat well every day... as most women (pregnant or not) should be doing anyway.

Also, I'm a sucker for spreadsheets and documentation, Babycenter has a great one which can be found HERE. Today's Parent also has a downloadable nutrition chart which can be found HERE.

What did/do you do to ensure you're getting adequate vitamins and minerals in your diet?



**Please note, I am not a doctor or a dietician. These are strategies that have worked for me but all dietary matters should be discussed with your OBGYN, dietician or midwife, as each individual is different.**


References
Health Canada. (2008). Why all women who could become pregnant should be taking folic acid. Retrieved on January 16, 2011 from: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fa-af/index-eng.php.
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Jan 18, 2011

Breakfast Cookies

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I love these cookies. They make for a great snack and they are super healthy! This recipe is from Planet Organic's Cosmic Cookies but I've modified it a bit to my own liking. Enjoy!

The Ingredients
2 1/4 cups quick oats
2 cups spelt flour
1 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or carob chips
3/4 cup raisins
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries  
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup soy or rice milk
The Process
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients: from oats to dried cranberries.


Combine wet ingredients: from water to soy/rice milk.


Stir dry and wet ingredients together until just combined.



Portion cookie dough using 1/3 cup measure and place on baking tray.


Gently flatten cookies.

Bake for 22 minutes or until lightly browned.


Enjoy these perfectly healthy (therefore guilt-free) cookies!
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Jan 17, 2011

My Best Life - More Yoga

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Love Mondays
Creative Commons License can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

Monday, my least favourite day of the week. With "My Best Life" I have decided that every week I will commit to a strategy in order to make my life more positive.

Reflection on Last Week's Strategy

Last week I shared that I often take on other people's emotions and feelings. I decided that I would still empathize with people but that I would mentally remind myself that their problems and feelings are their own. I also decided that I would remind myself about all the positive things in my life in order to avoid taking on their emotions.

Over the past week I still often participated in taking on the other person's problems and my strategy wasn't immediate. However, usually within ten minutes my strategy, of mentally reminding myself that their problems were their own, seemed to work! So overall, this strategy was a success. Perhaps with continued practice, my mental reminders will become more immediate.

This Week's Strategy

As I have shared before, I love yoga. This past Saturday I began attending a prenatal yoga class and I loved it! I find yoga to be calming and it is one of the rare exercises that clearly emphasizes the importance of the breath. Being that I'm pregnant and preparing for labour, breathing is even more essential than ever!

This week I would like to practice yoga at least two-three times outside of my yoga class. I have a prenatal yoga DVD that I used throughout my first pregnancy, so I will utilize this resource over the next week. I would also like to make a daily practice of taking deep breaths. I think five minutes a day is reasonable. I will incorporate this practice into my night time routine and practice my breathing before bed.

Please feel free to comment if the strategy for the week inspires you as well. In the meantime, I would like to wish you a wonderful week.

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Jan 16, 2011

Homemade Baby Wipes

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After my little girl was born, the world, as I saw it, changed. Everything appeared more fragile. My concern for the well-being of our planet deepened and I made a greater commitment to protecting and preserving our world. One of the steps that I took in order to reduce waste was to make my own baby wipes.

This is such a simple thing to do! Plus, not only is it good for the environment but it saves lots of money and it's good for your baby too!

The Less Toxic Guide indicates that baby wipes contain "harmful ingredients [such as] alcohol, perfume, chlorine, [and] dioxin".

I initially tried using cloths dampened with water but realized I preferred a bit of oil and a mild fragrance when cleaning up nasty baby poo!!! So here's what I did to make my own baby wipes.

What to buy/gather
Several sets of inexpensive baby face cloths
A jug
An airtight BPA-free container
Extra virgin olive oil
Distilled water
Vitamin E capsules
100% natural essential oil(s) such as; lavender, tea tree and chamomile

How to make
Add the following ingredients to a jug:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups distilled water
  • 6 vitamin E capsules (cut open and squeeze out the contents)
  • 5 drops tea tree oil
  • 5 drops lavender (optional)
  • 5 drops chamomile (optional)
  • 5 drops rosemary (optional)
Mix well.

Fold face cloths and place in a container.

Pour mixture over the cloths until just wet. Try to only make enough wipes for 1-2 days at a time.

Place a tight-fitting lid on the container.

Reserve any leftovers of the premixed solution by covering the jug.

Use the wipes with every diaper change.

Launder wipes as you would launder your baby's clothes. If you are using cloth diapers, wipes can be laundered with them!

We still use chemical-free commercial wipes when we're on outings or when our daughter is at someone else's house but for the most part, we utilize our homemade wipes. What do you use on your baby's bottom?


** NOTE: Other than the tea-tree oil, I only use one scented essential oil at a time. I usually rotate which one I use with each batch of solution. Essential oils can be expensive but they last a long time especially when you're only using five drops per batch of solution! If you would like a list of essential oils that are safe to use with children, it can be found HERE.**

 
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Jan 15, 2011

Baby Notes

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I am starting a new section on my blog about all things pregnancy and baby related. I hope to share some useful tips and helpful advice to get through those months leading up to and following the birth of our sweet little babes.

Pregnancy and caring for an infant are indescribable experiences. Each experience is different and unique to and of itself. I would like to share things that have worked for me but I would like to also encourage you, the readers, to impart any wisdom or experience you have to offer. We all have so much to learn from each other... we just need to take the time to open up and contribute.

All things baby and pregnancy related will be archived under the new page on my site: Baby Notes.
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Jan 14, 2011

One Hundred and Fifty-Five

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A few months ago, I shared that my husband and I were trying to conceive a second child. It was with great difficulty and a sense of defeat that I wrote about our struggles with fertility. It has been my heart's desire to provide a sibling for my daughter. I was raised an only child and I remember the loneliness I felt while growing up... something I don't want for my daughter.

In July 2010 I had found out I was pregnant. Our hopes and dreams were being fulfilled! We began to look through our baby supplies. We began to plan how we would tell our family members. We started discussing names and making a list of things that needed to be done before the baby was born. Within two weeks, I had a miscarriage. We were devastated. The miscarriage was crushing and even though I was only a couple weeks pregnant the grief was beyond description.

We've been trying ever since. Ovulation calculators, fertility predictors, calendars and peeing on sticks... many, many sticks. We swore we would not make conceiving a child our primary focus but it did begin to take over our lives. When I wrote The Day My Paper Shredder Made Me Cry, it was my way of releasing my obsession about conception and fertility. I submitted and let go.

Then it happened... in early November 2010, within a few weeks of sharing our struggles with the world, we found out that we were pregnant. At least, the test seemed to indicate I was pregnant.

Is that a second line or not??? I know it's faint but it's there right???
I waited a couple days and thought I would test again.

Yup... I see two solid pink lines... pregnant right???
I didn't know what to think... I needed this to be spelled out for me. After all, I had resigned to the fact that we may never conceive a second child. 

So I was pregnant. After months of trying and one miscarriage, I was pregnant! I should be excited. I should be bouncing off the walls! However, things were different this time around. We avoided discussing names. We talked very little about the baby. I ate well and took care of myself but I couldn't feel any joy about this little person growing inside of me. Every time I went to the bathroom, I expected to see blood. Every ache and uterine pain sent me into tears... I couldn't help but think that perhaps I was miscarrying again. My OB GYN would not see me until I was thirteen weeks along... I knew those would be the longest thirteen weeks of my life.

I wanted to document this pregnancy like I had documented my pregnancy with my daughter. So at 10 weeks I bought a pregnancy journal but I refused to write in it with pen... I used pencil instead.

After a couple months of waiting, it was finally time for my first prenatal appointment. I immediately disclosed to my doctor my intense fear that this pregnancy wasn't viable and that I would miscarry again. She instantly whipped out the Doppler and within a minute, found the baby's heartbeat... the beautiful sound of life within me. I cried as I laid there on the table. My baby is alive. This is real. I am pregnant. I am really pregnant! 155 beats per minute. 155... what a beautiful number.
   
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{this moment: duck yoga}

4 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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Jan 10, 2011

My Best Life - Feeling Without Drowning

1 comment:
4/365 monday
Creative Commons License can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0


Last week I started the "My Best Life" series. I decided to use Monday, my least favourite day of the week, to commit to a strategy to make my life more positive.

Reflection on Last Week's Strategy

Last week I shared that I would change my schedule and read more. Over the past week, this strategy has proven effective. I have been reading much more frequently. In fact, I finished a book that I had started back in November... Sarah's Key. I was only halfway through the book but in the past week I finished it! I am satisfied with the strategy that I've implemented and I will continue to include regular reading in my schedule.

This Week's Strategy

This week I have a different focus. I am an empathetic person. Empathy can be a very positive characteristic but it can be wearing as well. For instance, I have recognized that in being empathetic, I tend to feel and take "ownership" of other people's problems. Sometimes after speaking with a stressed colleague or a depressed friend, I find myself walking away from the conversation feeling THEIR feelings. I end up taking on their feelings of stress or depression (whereas I wasn't feeling this way when I originally entered the conversation). 

This week, I will commit to still empathizing with others but I will mentally remind myself that the issues they are sharing are THEIR issues. The feelings they are feeling are THEIR feelings. I will also mentally remind myself of all the wonderful aspects of my life. I must do this in order to stay positive and strong for myself and for others.

Perhaps you can identify with this. Please feel free to comment if the strategy for the week inspires you as well. In the meantime, I would like to wish you a wonderful week.
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Jan 8, 2011

The Eco-Friendly Birthday Party

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Birthday parties can be celebrations full of excessiveness and waste. Here is a list of strategies to make a birthday party more environmentally friendly.

Decorations
We do not buy the plastic, disposable tablecloths. For my daughter's first birthday, we had family members sign a plain white fabric tablecloth with fabric markers. Every year on her birthday we take out the tablecloth and write a new birthday message to her. To read more about this click HERE.

Rather than buying balloons we decorate using freshly cut flowers. What's great about flowers is that after their use they can be composted.

Opt for reusable decorations. Japanese or Chinese paper lanterns can add a wonderful ambiance to a party and make for a great alternative to balloons. After use they can be compressed and stored for subsequent years.

Make sure to choose soy or beeswax candles. A candlelit birthday party can provide such a cozy and warm atmosphere; however, the toxins in regular paraffin candles are bad for your health and the environment.

Dishware
The chore of doing dishes after a party often discourages people from using reusable dishes, cutlery and glasses. However, the amount of garbage that results from using disposable dishes can amount to a lot, especially if you're having two - three birthday parties a year. Muster up your strength and commit to saving the environment by doing the dishes. If you're concerned about breakage, buy a few inexpensive sets of china and glasses that you only use for parties.

Perhaps food can be served in durable, reusable lunch containers which can also serve as party favours that your guests can take home. A new sandwich container and water bottle can be a great addition to your guest's lunchbox!

Food
As the host of the party, you have complete control over the food you serve to your guests. You may choose all organic or locally grown foods. Involve your child in the preparation of the menu. Try making and serving their favourite foods... this will make their birthday celebration that much more meaningful.

Gifts
If you host large parties for your child(ren), the amount of gifts received can be overwhelming. Perhaps you can request a donation to your child's favourite charity in lieu of gifts.

Another alternative to gifts is that guests can bring gifts which would be given to a charitable cause. For example, items such as blankets, gloves and toiletries can be brought and gifted to a homeless shelter. Children can also bring dog food, cat food, leashes, treats and toys which can be given to a local animal shelter. Another idea is to collect books for your local library.

ECHOage is another alternative to conventional giving. The ECHOage party can be set up online. Invitations are digital and guests make donations to the birthday boy/girl. Half of the funds go to the birthday boy/girl (to purchase the "dream gift" of their choice) and the other half is given to the child's choice of charity. Check out their site... it really is an amazing gifting alternative. As the mother of a child with anaphylaxis, I love that Anaphylaxis Canada is listed as one of the charities that can be chosen!

The important part is to involve your child(ren) in the process of deciding on their charitable cause. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about charity and empathy.

Giftwrap
You can't really control how your guests wrap gifts (unless you request ahead of time that gifts are given in reusable packaging). However, you can control how you wrap your child's gift. Gifts can be wrapped in recycled paper, reusable gift bags, or rolled in fabric. Be creative! Almost anything can be reused to wrap a present!

Invitations
Invitations can be costly and wasteful. A good way to avoid waste is to create a digital invitation. Some great websites with this service include:

ECHOage - As mentioned previously, this is also useful in gifting. They have some really cute online invitations. Just fill in the blanks and e-mail the invites to your guests!

Smilebox - I love the slide show invitation feature. Smilebox has a huge catalogue of templates to choose from as well.

Evite - I like that RSVPs can be done through this website as well.

Another idea is to create a memento invitation. For example, for my daughter's first birthday we created an invitation that had twelve photos on it (the monthly anniversary photos from her birth onwards). They were such cute invitations that many family members kept and/or framed them. To see more about these invitations click HERE.

If your budget allows, seed invitations can be purchased. They are costly but these invitations are printed on seed paper. When planted, beautiful wildflowers grow from it. These invitations can be ordered online from:
Botanical Paperworks
Invitation Twist
Of The Earth

Party Favours
I love the idea of doing a charitable act instead of party favours. This year for my daughter's birthday, in lieu of loot bags we bought a chicken for a family in need through Oxfam. We even printed out a card that we had on the dinner table which informed all of our guests of this donation.

Herbs, plants or saplings can be given as party favours as well. This kind of favour is obviously best given in the spring or summer. Bulbs can be given in the fall.

Planning an eco-friendly birthday party can be a lot of fun! Hopefully some of these ideas inspire you to be creative and host your very own environmentally-friendly birthday celebration. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please feel free to share.
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Jan 7, 2011

Three Wonderful Years

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Today my baby is three years old. She's hardly a baby, I know, but today I look at her and I think about the day she was born. I can't recall what my life was like without her... she is the embodiment of love and joy. I know I'm not alone when I share this. I am sure there are many mothers out there who can identify with the change that takes place deep within you after you've given birth to your first child. The immediacy and reality of motherhood... in an instant you've become responsible for another human being.

My greatest memory from January 7, 2008 was the few moments after my daughter was delivered. There was a panic in the room because in the last push, the umbilical cord had wrapped around my daughter's neck. Everyone was so focused on ensuring her well-being that my husband and I had to ask if we had a boy or girl.

I could only hold my daughter for a few short moments because there was concern about her health. However, in those moments I remember looking down at her bruised and swollen face, her tear-filled eyes, and thinking that the past seventeen hours may have possibly been harder on her than on me. Then I spoke to her and said, "Hello my little girl... I love you so much."

She looked at me.
My daughter and I meet... a moment forever in my heart.
My heart leapt.

My heart could not hold all the love that I felt in that moment, so it spilled out of the corners of my eyes.

I cried.

I was a mom. 

This beautiful person was my daughter. 

I can't help but look at my daughter and flash back to this image. My little baby.
Happy Birthday... my sweet little girl. Today, tomorrow, always and forever I will love you.

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{this moment: three years ago}

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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 (and Happy Birthday to my little girl)!
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Jan 3, 2011

My Best Life - Read More

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It's Monday... undeniably THE worst day of the week... every week, every month of every year. Not today. Not ever again. Why, because today I am starting My Best Life.

What does this mean?

I have noticed that it's far too convenient to complain about what's going wrong in our lives. It's so easy to expend energy on the things in life which make us miserable. If only that energy could be redirected into making situations and our lives better. Doesn't that make sense?

Today I am making a commitment to refocus all negative thoughts and energy into making a specific effort to improve my life. How will I succeed in this task??? Well, I am going to subject you, my wonderful readers, to what I plan to do each week, of each month, of each year, to make this My Best Life. Now, I know it's the beginning of a new year and I just totally dissed New Year's resolutions... but the thing is, I do like setting goals for myself and I'm just going to up the ante and do it weekly! 52 Mondays? 52 strategies to make this My Best Life? Can I do it? I think so!

Perhaps you would like to play along? If so, feel free to comment if the strategy for the week inspires you as well.

#1 - Read more.
Oh my goodness, I'm a slacker when it comes to reading. I have friends (*ahem* - Katie and Jody) who read over 70 books a year! I would like to be able to read at least one book a month!

After reading an article The 26 Major Advantages to Reading More Books and Why 3-in-4 People Are Being Shut Out Of Success by Brad Isaac, I realized how critical reading is to my mental and emotional well-being!

The fact is I love to read but reading time is usually allocated to a half-hour before bed. This yields one of two results:

1- The book is a little slow, so I fall asleep.
2- The book is awesome so I end up staying up late reading it and then I dream about it all night (which in some cases results in a fitful night's sleep).

I'm going to try to change my evening routine a little bit and see if I can read, then take my evening bath and then go to bed. Perhaps this slight change will allow me to read more frequently. I'm also going to bring my book to work. Often I spend my lunch break checking my e-mail or talking to my husband on the phone. Reading mid-day may provide me just the right amount of mental escape I need in order to get through the rest of my work day.

Lastly, any time I feel like griping or complaining about anything, I'll force myself to pick up my book and read. After all, it is my goal to refocus any negative energy into something more productive in my life.

Wish me good luck! I'll be back to report on this week's tip and another "My Best Life" strategy next week.

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Jan 1, 2011

Happy (Resolution-Free) New Year!

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I am a list person. I look for any reason to make a list. Groceries to be purchased, things to do, goals to be attained, and places to go... you name it, I have a list for it. So it may surprise you that this year I have decided to opt out of making a list of New Year's resolutions. I have decided that I don't need a "new year" or a "fresh start" to change my life or my behaviours. I can make goals whenever I please... and I plan on doing just that.

So please lift your glass and join me in a toast to not making New Year's resolutions!!! May 2011 be exactly what we make of it!  

What a funny sign this is!
However, I do plan on laughing my way through 2011!!! Happy New Year!!!

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