Jan 29, 2012

A Miracle... Ninety-Five Years Ago

Today my grandma is ninety-five years old. Ninety-five! She is fully able, active, and lives independently... no assisted living, no seniors' community.

I never tire of hearing about her miraculous birth, marvelous stories passed down from my great-grandparents....

Ninety-five years ago my grandma was born. She weighed a pound.  Imagine, 1917, an infant being born at home and no bigger than a brick of butter! She was so tiny, my great-grandfather's wedding band could fit all the way over her little arm. The midwife wrapped my grandma in cotton batting and put her in a box at the top of the wood burning stove. The stove kept her warm and she thrived.

My grandmother survived such impossible circumstances. When I think of my grandma I can hear her French-Canadian accent and I can see the twinkle in her eyes. She is a miracle that has blessed the generations that have followed. Although small in stature she's big in spirit. Perhaps it's that strong, resilient spirit that keeps her so well and active. Regardless, she is amazing and today I would like to wish my dear grandma a very happy birthday!

Joyeux anniversaire cher grand-mère! Je t'aime!

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Jan 27, 2012

{this moment: big cheeks}

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.

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Jan 25, 2012

My Daughter Won't Be Going To School


My oldest daughter just turned four. I was stunned when I realized she is eligible to start kindergarten in September. But my daughter won't be going to school.

We recently took her for allergy testing and discovered that her dairy allergy has gotten 30 times worse. We know she had anaphylaxis to dairy but we hoped that she would have outgrown this allergy. The headlines in early January confirmed our decision... Ammaria Johnson, 7, of Virginia died of an anaphylaxis reaction while at school.

Before you continue to read this, I ask you not to pass judgment, to put yourself in our shoes and try to understand why we have decided to homeschool our daughter.

First of all, I do not trust very many people with my daughter's life. Sorry... but I don't. It may seem strong or harsh but unless someone has first-hand experience with anaphylaxis (like our immediate family or friends with anaphylaxis children) I don't trust them. It takes one forgetful moment and my daughter could go into anaphylaxis shock. More importantly is the reaction time it would take to respond to an anaphylaxis reaction... unless someone is experienced with anaphylaxis, I just can't trust them.

Secondly, schools, for the most part, have been diligent with educating families about nut and peanut allergies but my daughter has a dairy allergy. She would be exposed to dairy constantly! It would take one split second for a child to share a treat with my daughter and that would be it. Unfortunately, dairy and dairy by-products are in so many food products. In addition, schools don't appear to have enough plans and policies in place to protect children with anaphylaxis.

Lastly, my daughter was one when she had her last anaphylaxis reaction... far too young to instill a knowledge/fear of another exposure. She is a spirited child. Hence, as much as we tell her to not accept food from others, she does not heed our warnings (we've safely "tested" this a number of times).

So we're homeschooling. Some people many think we're being overprotective. Others may judge us and think we're not giving our child the practical experiences she needs... but this is what we have to do. I think as parents, we are a good judge of what our child(ren) can and can not handle. Our daughter knows her alphabet, counts to 100, recognizes a variety of words, and knows her shapes and her colours. She is mentally ready for school but she does not know how to say no... and this makes her not ready for school.

I have to admit, there is a part of me that grieves that I won't see my child in Christmas concerts and that I won't have the opportunity to belong to the PTA or volunteer on field trips. There's a part of me that gets sad when I talk to people who have their children in playschool. How I wish my daughter could have the opportunity to connect with a large group of peers and get invited to birthday parties! I'm also saddened that we won't have that teary first day of kindergarten... when I look on and watch my baby walk into her classroom with an over-sized backpack propped up on her shoulders.

However, for peace of mind, for now, this is the route we're taking. I just hope that others can understand and respect the choice that we've made.

Image: Carlos Porto photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Jan 24, 2012

Watching Baby Learn


Babies grow at a tremendous rate. Sometimes it feels like you blink and all of a sudden they've mastered three new skills.

I love watching my baby and observing how she interacts with things. She just turned six months old and it feels like we've hit the "magical" age where so many changes take place!

For instance, the other day I was holding her and I walked over to the mirror. She initially looked at herself and smiled. Then she looked at the image of me. A confused look came over her face. She craned her neck and wiggled her body to look up at me. Then she looked back at the mirror. She looked at me again and then she looked at the mirror. Then she reached out and touched the mirror.

There was a stunned look on her face as her hand touched the hard surface. We stood there for a while and she stared. She stuck out her tongue. She stared some more.

I held her. I watched her. Then I kissed the top of her head.

Once again she smiled and began yelling gibberish at the mirror.

I love that I was a part of this moment... that I took the time to pause in my day and observe her learning and making sense of her world.

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Jan 20, 2012

{this moment: helping}

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.

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Jan 19, 2012

My True Life Love Story


Tomorrow, January 20th, my husband and I will be celebrating five years of being married. It's hard to believe it's been five years. In such a short time so much has happened! I finished my degree, changed jobs and had two children! Wow. While these are big events, one thing remains the same; every day I fall deeper in love with my husband. There's been moments in our relationship that I thought that my life was like some girly, romantic movie... at moments I can't believe that this is my life (and I mean that in the best way possible). This is one of those true life love story moments....

My husband and I had been friends for years until one night we kissed and our relationship changed in an instant. We started dating and had been going out for a couple of weeks. I knew I was in love but I wasn't quite sure if he felt the same way. You know the zone that couples restlessly sit in while waiting for someone to take that first step and admit love? Well, I wasn't going to take that first step. In the past I had led relationships and I felt that this assertive nature was why my previous relationships had failed. So I bit my tongue and waited.

One night we met after work. He had done a projectionist shift at the theatre and we couldn't wait to spend some time together. He packed us a "picnic" and we went for a late night drive. He found a quiet spot in the country and parked the car. We noshed on chips, chocolate bars and sodas while listening to some music. We talked, we laughed, we kissed. At one point, we danced outside of the car to Chris Isaak's Two Hearts. It was perfect. I kept on thinking, "When is this guy going to say he loves me?" This seemed like the perfect time... yet nothing happened.

It was getting late, so he decided we should probably go home. We started driving down this quiet country road when he stopped the car.

Me: "What are you doing?"

Him: "I'm going to clean that bug off." (I hadn't noticed the disgusting mess obscuring his side of the windshield).

Me: "Hurry up, I don't like being stopped on a road."

He got out of the car and started cleaning the windshield as I watched impatiently.

Him: "Jennifer, come out here."

Me: "No way. I want to go."

Him: "Will you just get out of the car? You have to see this."

Me: "I can see the bug guts perfectly fine from inside the car." (Now this was years ago... so I can't remember if I said this out loud or if I thought it... but I made it clear there was no way I was getting out of the car."

Him: "Get out of the car, quick!"

The urgency in his voice made me get out of the car... and then I saw it.

The most beautiful Northern Lights I had ever seen in my life. They danced and swayed in the sky. Beautiful hues of turquoise, blue, pink and green. I was hypnotized by their movement. It was all around us... we seemed to be in the middle of them. Then, I looked at him and realized that he was looking at me.

Him: "I love you Jennifer."

My heart leaped out of my chest.

Me: "I love you too."

We kissed and stood under the Northern Lights...at the epicentre of their magnificence, embracing each other... surrounded by beauty and glowing in love.

It's been an awesome five years. I'm looking forward to decades more with the love of my life.

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart!

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Jan 17, 2012

Our Menu Board

A few months ago I shared how my family has reduced our waste of food by meal planning. One of the strategies I shared was to create a menu board for the kitchen. I followed the directions as posted HERE and made my own board.

DIY Menu Board

I am thrilled with the results. I love our menu board! All I have to do is change the paper in the frame and it gives the menu a whole new look! I've already had several compliments about it. I also love it because now I have a clear reminder of what's for dinner (so I always remember to transfer the meat from the freezer to the fridge the day before it's scheduled to be prepared). In addition, I love that I don't have to carry that weekly menu in my brain (having a baby in the house has given me a bit of the old brain vacuum syndrome). It has also helped in a way that did not expect... my husband sees what's on the menu and he will often start the dinner for us (how great is that?)!

Do you have a menu board in your kitchen?  

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Jan 15, 2012

Save $135... With Ease

I made a few small changes that will save me about $135 this year. Here's how I'm doing it....

1- I'm making my own laundry detergent. As I shared previously, this was a project I wanted to take up this year. We're already halfway through the month, and I've only used 2 Litres of my first 8 Litre batch of homemade detergent. It was so easy to make and the savings are worth the tiny bit of effort! Normally we spend $8/month on laundry detergent. This homemage detergent costs a little less than $6/year! Do the math... well okay, I'll do it for you:
($8 x 12 = $96 - $6) That's a savings of $90/year!

2- Instead of buying dishwasher rinsing aid, I'm filling my rinse aid dispenser with vinegar. I am amazed at how brilliant our dishes and dishwasher looks at the end of every washing cycle! I would say the vinegar does a better job than the rinse aid. Plus, rinse aid costs about $3.50/month, we use a bottle of vinegar every 2 months. We get our vinegar for free using our Save-On-More points, so that's a savings of about $42/year!

3- Lastly, I always do a second rinse of my kid's clothes and diapers with vinegar (this helps remove any leftover detergent residue). I did this even before we started making our own laundry detergent. But then I saw this nifty tip of filling your Downy fabric softener ball with vinegar and now I don't waste all that water and electricity doing the extra rinse! The downy ball releases the vinegar in the rinse cycle! I don't know what the water/electricity savings add up to but let's be modest and claim a savings of $3 a year.

There you have it. Some small, simple changes and we've got an extra $135 in our pocket every year! This will certainly come in handy when Lego releases their Lord of the Rings Lego sets this summer. It's been a while since the hubby and I went toy shopping for ourselves!

Photo Credit: Image: Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Jan 14, 2012

Will You Just Dust The TV?!

Rather than whine and complain about how sick everyone in our house has been, I just thought I would just show you a picture that illustrates how there's been no time (or energy) for household chores.

Do you think this is my four-year-old's way of letting me know I should do some dusting?

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Jan 13, 2012

{this moment: birthday fun}

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.

*I just had to break the "rules"... there was an extra special day this week which had several memorable moments in it!*

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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Jan 10, 2012

Letting Go Of Time


I don't know about you but the clock rules my life. When I wake up, the time I eat, the time I put the kids to sleep... many of my actions seem to be governed by time. To make matters worse almost every room in my home has at least one clock. Some rooms, like the kitchen, have three.

I've been contemplating this for a while now... why this obsession with time?

I love how children have no concept of time. They can play for hours and are governed by the rising and setting of the sun. They do their activities as long as they want. It is us, the adult, who imposes schedules and time frames on them.

The clock also serves as a source of stress. So many times I worry that we're running late for an outing. I've even caught myself saying to my four-year-old, "Hurry or we're going to be late." It's not her fault we're running late. Why do I find the need to pass that stress onto her?

Another example of the stress that time imposes is when my baby wakes to feed in the middle of the night. I often obsess over the fact that she woke up to feed just one hour previously. Then throughout that feeding I dwell on how I can get the baby to sleep through the night. The night feedings are often a tense time. I get overwhelmed from being so sleep deprived and find myself frustrated as the night goes on. Usually after the fourth or fifth waking, I can't get back to sleep because my mind has been so busy trying to come up with "solutions" to my baby's sleep schedule.

However, the beauty of life is there's always a lesson to be learned, we just have to be open to receiving it....

Last night my baby woke me with the need to feed. In my haste I forgot to put on my glasses. I was a little lost. I had no idea what time she woke me at so I didn't know what time her feeding started and what time it ended.

This moment was liberating. As I sat there in her dimly lit room, I cradled my darling baby in my arms. The house was quiet and still. I listened to her little breaths... in and out, in and out. As she nursed I held one of her tiny hands in mine. She squeezed my fingers, opening and closing her fingers around mine in a rhythmic fashion. At one point she turned her body a little bit and held her hand in front of her face. She closed her fingers into a fist and then opened them up again. She watched intently as she repeated this action over and over again.

I watched. Amazed.

Then she looked at me. She saw I was watching her. She smiled, just a little, and then reached up and touched my face.

I wanted to cry. I realized that sometimes I get so caught up in the schedule of the day that I'm sure I've missed many moments like these.

She woke up one more time last night. Once again, I didn't put on my glasses and I melted into the moment. It was a good night.

Sometimes it's important to be aware of time; there are appointments, outings, and classes that require us to be prompt. But there are many hours in the day when time really shouldn't be an issue. So, for the next little while, I'm ignoring the clock. I've put away the clock on my nightstand and I'm embracing the natural rhythm of enjoying the moments... big and small.

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Jan 6, 2012

{this moment: monkey business}

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.

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Jan 5, 2012

Wise Old Owl

As I mentioned earlier this week, I began painting a Wise Old Owl for my daughter's fourth birthday (which is this Saturday). It's been years since I lifted an acrylic covered paint brush to canvas. Plus, the fact that I've been battling a wicked sinus cold made this task all the more daunting!

However, the peacefulness and ease of painting quickly came back to me. I almost forgot how much I loved to paint. It's a hobby that has been overtaken by other joys such as baking, gardening, reading and sewing. It's funny, I never expected this gift for my daughter to be a gift to me. I've decided to take up this beloved hobby once again.

He's not exactly The Wise Old Owl from Mr. Dressup but he's pretty close! I wanted to frame the art in an old frame but I ended up painting a frame on the canvas... I think it does the trick.

I can't wait for my daughter to see him! I hope she likes him... his eyes don't move back and forth like the Mr. Dressup owl and he doesn't talk but that's all in a four-year-old's imagination right!?

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Jan 4, 2012

A Salad A Day


I find it challenging to eat a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables every day... especially during the winter months. For several months now, my family has been eating a salad every day. Whether it's for lunch or dinner... it's a great way to make sure we're getting a couple extra servings of vegetables in our daily diet. To make our daily salads convenient and easy to prepare there are a few things we do:

  • We purchase prepackaged, prewashed, organic mixed greens.
  • We add a variety of vegetables to our salads so every bite is a "surprise". Some of the vegetables we put in our salads include; snap peas, carrots, celery, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumber.
  • We also add salad items that aren't as common such as; dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and pomegranate.
  • We chop all of our fixings ahead of time and store them in glass jars in our fridge. This way there's not a lot of work needed when it's time to make a salad.

  • We usually make our own dressing (olive oil, white wine vinegar and spices). The dressing is healthier, fresh and not much is needed because it's so flavourful!
  • We sometimes make our own croutons. We cut multi-grain baguettes into little squares, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with our choice of spices and bake at about 300 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes. They're tasty and a lot healthier than the store-bought, packaged, croutons.

Does your family eat salads very often? What do you put in your salad?

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Jan 2, 2012

12 Projects For 2012

How's this for motivation? Today I'm going to share with you my top twelve projects for 2012. My reasons for posting this list is twofold; firstly, I love lists and the opportunity to write one makes my day. Secondly, it is my hope that by publishing this list, I will hold myself accountable to pursue these projects.

The projects I've chosen to do over the coming year vary. Some are crafty, some will involve home organization ideas and others revolve around money saving measures.

1- Create a Wise Old Owl painting for my oldest daughter's birthday.
My daughter absolutely loves Mr. Dressup. Last year my husband and I made a Mr. Dressup tickle trunk for her birthday. Since her interest in Mr. Dressup is still strong, we decided to make a Wise Old Owl painting for her. I started this project yesterday and my daughter's birthday is this Saturday (*gulp*). Let's hope I get it done in time....

2- Make my own laundry detergent.
I saw this on Pinterest and decided that this is the year to give it a try. I like the idea of knowing exactly what ingredients are being used to launder our clothes AND at a whooping $0.01 per load, how could I pass it up?

3- Organize my master bedroom closet.
We live in an older townhouse and the closet in our master bedroom is tiny. This year I would like to organize it to maximize space and storage.

4- Make a coupon binder.
We regularly clip and use coupons. I love coupons... it's like free money! When I saw this coupon binder on Pinterest I sadly developed coupon binder envy. This year I will create the Big Kahuna of all coupon binders. Really.

5- The keepsake lady strikes again. Make art from my baby's hand and footprints.
This year for Christmas, we gave both grandmas a handprint calendar. It was awesome and it made them cry (which of course is the criteria for a fantastic Grandma gift). As they looked through the calendars, I thought I should make canvas art to capture my baby's tiny little hand and footprints. So I added it to my 2012 to do list! I think I'll stick with an insects theme for the canvas art (butterflies, ladybugs, caterpillars and bumblebees).

6- Create an art centre for my daughter.
My husband and I are creative individuals. Thus, I am embarrassed of the art table we have for my daughter. This year I want to create an inspiring "creation station" for her... a place where she can sit, create, save and display! It will be a big project but I'm sure it will be well worth it!

7- Make a dairy-free recipe book.
With all the recipes I have concocted for my daughter, I decided that this is the year to compile those recipes into my very own cookbook. Goodbye scrap pieces of paper... hello cookbook!

8- Create an outdoor mud-pie kitchen.
I love the idea of providing children with varied play experiences while outdoors. This year I would like to make my daughter her very own mud-pie kitchen. Some pots, pans, pine cones, sticks, rocks and dirt will complete the play experience!

9- Make wood rounds for my daughter to use with her building blocks.
I'm always looking for new ideas to incorporate into my daughter's block play area. When I saw these wood rounds I immediately knew I just had to make them! Now to find the logs....

10- Sew a Happy Birthday banner.
Every year for my daughter's birthday, we take out her birthday tablecloth and everyone signs it with fabric markers. However, when I saw this Happy Birthday banner on Pinterest, I just knew I had to make one.

11- Make a Waldorf doll for my baby girl's first birthday.
I absolutely love these little dolls. Their features are sewn on so they're safe for an infant to play with. We've given homemade gifts to my oldest daughter on her birthdays... we would like to do the same for our other daughter.

12- Catalog and organize my children's books.
As early childhood professionals, my husband and I own hundreds of children's picture books. This year I would like to catalog and organize the books. I would also like to build these spice rack book shelves for both of my daughter's rooms. It will be a big project... but well worth it!

So that's it. My projects for 2012. Do you have any projects this year? Do any of these projects appeal to you? As always, your comments are welcome!

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