Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rejected because of mom

Not my kid. Photo from WiseGEEK.
Something happened recently that I can't get out of my head.

We attended an event recently with friends and their children. We arrived and my daughter saw someone she knew. A few years old, this other child was already playing with other friends who were there. But my daughter was excited, so I said, "Go say hi."

Worst idea.

My daughter, full of her bubbly self, ran up with a big smile and said, "Hi!" to her friend.

But the other child just looked at her, then turned away.

And my daughter's face fell.

And my heart sank.

I have naively thought this other child would welcome my daughter with open arms. I don't know why. The other child is older, was with other friends and was already having a good time. I should have known, should have warned my daughter, should have shielded her from that rejection.

I took my daughter's hand and said, "Maybe later" knowing full well later would not come.

My daughter spent the rest of the time hanging with mom and dad and her baby brother, colouring, goofing around a little, watching some videos on my phone and basically being really well behaved. I told her how good she was as I buckled her into her carseat.

But my heart still aches when I think back to that.

As I am writing this, I teared up a little and my husband pointed out it's probably not her first taste of rejection - there is an older girl at daycare who comes after school who has no doubt rejected our daughter before (sometimes she wants to play with the younger kids, other times, understandably, she does not).

But I still feel so guilty because it was me, mom, sending her in to talk to another child who I should have realized was not going to be interested in playing with my daughter. I'm the reason she felt rejected.

This all said, I won't stop telling my daughter to go say hi when she sees someone she knows. It won't always end in rejection - sometimes it will end with my daughter having a great time. She does need to learn about rejection, but it will break my heart every time some other child tells my daughter they don't want to play with her (my son too, for that matter, when he gets old enough).

And when it does end in rejection, I'll be there to give her the biggest hug and hopefully teach her it's OK and she's still an awesome kid.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Food Friday: Granola

I make my own granola at home and it is delicious, if I do say so myself.

I use Ina Garden's recipe as my base - I always have oats, raw pumpkin (pepitas) seeds, sliced almonds and chia seeds. Sometimes I add some raw cacao to give it a hint of chocolate.

For the fruit, any dried fruit works, but my husband particularly likes cranberries and apricots.

PS - sorry I was rather terrible at these Food Friday things, too. I really am a shitty blogger!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Bubble Guppies theory

My daughter likes the Bubble Guppies. While it is a cute show, it annoys me to no end that they are afraid of heights or falling off a cliff when THEY CAN JUST SWIM OUT OF IT!

Sorry.

Recently I read this article about Dora and it inspired me to share my theory about the Bubble Guppies.

Theory: The Bubble Guppies are orphans after their parents all died in some major tragedy and Mr. Grouper is their guardian.

(For the record, my husband thinks my theory is nuts.)

So, my longer theory: The parents of the Bubble Guppies are never mentioned or seen. I suspect it is because they all died in some town tragedy. It would explain how everyone in town seems to know these six children, but the children don't know them. For example, in The Beach Ball episode, Sandy says hi to Molly and Gill by name, but as the two children go off to school, they say that it was nice to meet Sandy.

It could also explain how the Bubble Guppies have all kinds of experiences where they are cheered on by the whole town. Children throwing a rock concert? Opening a restaurant? A go-kart race? Conducting a marching band (and some ducks)? Fishketball (a game that makes zero sense)? In a normal town, the only people showing up for these things are parents. In the land of Bubble Guppies, everyone is there cheering on the children.

Also, they can never just attend an event. They have to be the performers in the circus. They open the Shrimptennial despite not being shrimp. They are in the trucks at the monster truck show.

Mr. Grouper is their guardian: He never needs permission slips to take the Guppies camping or to Big Bubble City. He also bought them a dog.

I believe they live in the building - their group home - where the show is set, but that the children are able to go for a morning walk - that's why sometimes the pairs are changed up when there are two Guppies.

As part of their therapy following the loss of their parents, the Guppies are encouraged to sing and play out stories to work through their issues.

I enjoy Googling theories about children's shows as my daughter watches. Did you also know there is Bubble Guppies fan fiction? Fact.

ETA: Apologies for the look of this post - I tried to post it on my phone but the app didn't like that I tried to add a photo. Then I had to cut and paste into email, then cut and paste into this and, well, I don't want to go through the HTML to correct everywhere it says "background colour white." So, yeah. Sorry.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mommy groups

I hate mommy groups.

I don't hate what you do at mommy groups - I like meeting and talking to others, letting my children meet and play with other children, discovering new games and songs.

I hate the term "mommy groups." I would rather it be "parent groups."

Sure, in my experience, it's mostly moms who take their children to the groups. But I have seen the odd dad there and I can't help but wonder if those dads feel a little out of place, or if they said to their partners, "The group is called Momstown - are you sure I'm allowed to go?"

(Momstown, for those who don't know, was a Canadian organization that abruptly shut down a couple of months ago. I was a member for all of three months and I did not get a refund on my year membership to the group. Yes, I am still bitter.)

I've since seen other groups pop up and all of them refer to mom in the name, but not dad. Or just parents.

I almost want to start an online group for parents in my city. Maybe one parent is a talented photographer who wants to offer advice for getting better shots at the park. Maybe one parent has tips on how to cook with your children. But a mom or a dad could offer the advice.

Related: Here's a good post from Pregnant Chicken about mommy groups - are they heaven or hell?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

'Better to be safe'


A video showed up in my Facebook feed recently of what the poster described as her daughter's eyebrows coming off after using Minion banana bubble bath.

I watched the video. It seemed fishy. It didn't pass my sniff test.

I read the comments where several people offered their "we've never had any problems" comments.

And then there were the people who said, "It's better to be safe than sorry."

Sure. Yes. I don't want to put my children at risk - but I also understand that knowledge is power and, in this particular case, there is a very, super slim chance my children would lose their eyebrows because of their bubble bath.

To me, the saying "it's better to be safe than sorry" should instead be, "it's better to be informed than sorry."

In our current online culture, people are so so SO quick to believe the headlines and ignore any kind of content (as a now out-of-work journalist, I cannot even begin to tell you how much this annoys me. Wait, I could begin to tell you - words are my thing - but that's really another blog post).

This isn't a statement for everyone, but you (should) know who you are: Please, research things before just saying, "I will never use that product/drink that juice/eat that hot dog/go to that amusement park." And please, for the love of god, research things before posting reviews to websites denouncing a product or posting it and telling your friends "beware!"

There are so many cases of people who do things to get attention. I do not know if that's the case here, but it wouldn't be unheard of.

In this kind of case, I always turn to Snopes. As of Aug. 9, this claim was "undetermined."

In the end, it really doesn't affect me - I don't use this kind of bubble bath, and don't foresee myself ever using it. But it's so important people stop believing everything they read, and not only believe it, but post it to social media and tell their friends, "You know, it's better to be safe than sorry."

Don't be that person. Please.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Food Friday - Oatmeal cranberry cookies

Cranberry on top, apricot on the bottom.
I love a good cookie. This is one of my go-to recipes, but I switch it up - instead of raisins, I add dried cranberries and chocolate chips.

This is the Martha Stewart recipe.

My husband had the idea of adding apricots to the cookie instead of cranberries. It was pretty tasty.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sleep training - a necessary evil

Last week, I started sleep training my son. His evening routine was stretching out and out to the point that it was two hours just to get him down, then he was awake again within 45 minutes and I'd be back in his room, rocking and feeding and begging him to just sleep.

Up down, up down, eventually I'd fall asleep in the recliner with him latched to me.

For eight months, I didn't sleep more than three hours at a time, except once. One time I got in five hours. It was a fluke. My son was exhausted from a new experience - going to the splash pad.

I have been exhausted for eight months. So I finally said it was time.

We sleep trained our daughter and had amazing results. She now has a pretty easy bedtime routine: Bed, stories, drink of water, she gets into bed. Now that she's a little older, she doesn't go right off to sleep - she usually sits in bed for a bit, playing with her dolls or reading a book. But after a bit, she nods off and sleeps until morning.

This is what I want my son to be able to do - put him down, he rolls over and goes to sleep.

That's the dream, right?

I'm always amazed how many people ask what sleep training is - and why we need to do it. The "why" is what I've already talked about. The what sounds a little harsh to some people - the system we followed (Sleep Easy Solution), involves basically letting your baby cry it out but you check in at regular intervals.

It's a hard thing to do, but for us, oh so necessary. And every day it gets easier. That first night, he cried for half an hour. The next night, still about 20 minutes. Now, five days later, he still cries for five minutes, but is usually asleep within 10. And he puts himself back to sleep if he wakes up. AND he almost sleeps through the night - last night we had one wake up at 1:30. I do two dream feeds - 10:30 and 3 - so while I'm still not getting a full night of sleep, I know we're on our way.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Food Friday - savoury waffles

When I made BLTs on cheddar waffles, my husband joked he felt like he was eating something off a Buzzfeed list.

It did look pretty crazy (I added a fried egg to mine because I'm a sucker for a good fried egg), and while it was a fun dinner, I wouldn't make it a weekly thing. Or even a monthly thing. Maybe I'll do it again next year.

But I will make those cheese waffles again for other types of meals - like to go with chili!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Falling into a mommy blogger trap

I Googled "perfect mom" and this was the first image.
I am coming dangerously close to being one of those people.

The bloggers who offer you advice. They tell you, "This is such a great way to do things! You should, too!" The bloggers who seem perfect because they make amazing meals and repurpose their toddler's art.

For that, I apologize.

I am far from the perfect mother. In fact, most days I feel like I'm getting it all oh so very wrong. I have been known to get angry and frustrated. I have put less than stellar dinners on the table. I have let my daughter watch one more episode of UmiZoomi than I should (even if they are using their mighty math powers, there is a limit - although, fun fact, the voice actor who plays Bot is Joe from Blue's Clues).

Is there some greater lesson I can take from all of this and, in turn, inspire you all? Should I say showing my imperfections will teach my children they don't have to be perfect, as well. That striving for perfection all the time is an unrealistic goal. That accepting that I'm not perfect will make me a better mom?

Sure, I could say all that (didn't I just do that), but really, you don't need me to tell you that. Nor, really, do I want to do so.

I may, from time to time, share some small bits of wisdom, but I am far from the expert who should be doling out any kind of advice. So take what you will, leave the rest. I won't be offended. I'm just here to share me. I like crafts. I hate to cook and hope food posts might help other people who hate to cook.

To wrap up this rather meaningless post, I want to introduce you to Fowl Language, if you're not already familiar. I found out about it through a HuffPo article and quite enjoy it.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Repurposing toddler 'art'

So lovely. I think it's a green field at sunset. Or ponies. Who knows.

My daughter loves to paint. In about 10 minutes, she'll whip up between three and five masterpieces, then declare she wants to watch Dora. But for 10 blissful minutes, she was doing something other than asking to watch TV.

But after that 10 minutes is up, I look at the wonderful, gallery-worthy pieces she has created and think to myself, "Where can I hang these now?"

I am not being serious here, folks - she literally slaps paint on paper and calls it a day. So then I'm left wondering, for real, what the heck do I do with these? I admitted recently to someone that I just threw them out - after all, she's learning from doing the painting, right? The only thing she'd learn if I kept them is that hoarding is good. That person didn't think it should just be garbage, but also didn't give me any suggestions on what to do with the "art."

Well, I figured out one way to use it - repurpose it!

There are a few things I strongly believe in: pie crust should be made using lard unless you're knowingly feeding a vegetarian (only then can you use shortening), you should make an effort to stay in touch with good friends, and you should always send a thank you note.

My daughter is still too young to write, so using her artwork will allow me to put a personal touch on thank you cards for her upcoming birthday and I won't feel any kind of mom guilt for just throwing out her "paintings." Plus, her proud aunts, uncles and grandparents will probably go nuts for these!

Here's what I did - I had a balloon punch I bought at Michael's a while ago. I cut out balloons from her paintings. I double-sided taped them to a card, wrote THANKS using a black sharpie, and ... done.

I'm all about easy crafts these days.




Friday, July 24, 2015

Food Friday - Barbacoa

Om nom nom ... sorry for the mid-bite photo.
This is insanely good - so much flavour.

This recipe from the Slow Roasted Italian apparently tastes like Chipotle's barbacoa, but I wouldn't know, I've never had Chipotle. My husband has, though, and he said while it's not quite the same, it's still very flavourful.

It is pretty easy to do and is a fun crockpot meal.

I also make the cilantro lime rice and the pico de gallo, all of which gets piled on to the burrito. Add a little cheese and fresh lettuce for crunch and you have a very delicious meal.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Food Friday - Rainbow carrot and rocket salad

Carrots, arugula, red onion, toasted pine nuts, parm flakes and a light dressing.

This salad is so simple, but so tasty. It calls for rainbow, or heirloom, carrots, but I have used just plain carrots and it turns out just as well. As well, the first time I did it, I neglected to put in the fresh basil and parsley and the salad was still very, very yummy.

Get the recipe at Proud Italian Cook.



Friday, July 10, 2015

Food Friday - butter tarts

A batch of butter tarts I made recently.
I am not much of a cook, but I was thinking I'd like to start sharing recipes I have discovered that I like and that my family has enjoyed.

But rather than start with a delicious meal, I'm going to start with a baked good - butter tarts.

I LOVE butter tarts. I love 'em so much.

And I make a pretty mean butter tart.

I use this recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook (although if I make them for co-workers, I use veg shortening instead of lard because I had a couple of colleagues who were vegetarians).

I do make a couple of changes to the recipe:

- I roll out the dough, cut it, then roll it out a bit more. I prefer a thin-ish crust for my butter tarts

- I double the filling recipe - I find I need to when I make two dozen tarts

Tips:

- use parchment paper in the muffin tins to easily lift the tarts out

- avoid recipes that use corn syrup - it causes a runny filling that will get all over whoever is eating it.

- the crust recipe makes more than you'll need, so I'll either freeze it until I want to make more tarts (freeze it as a ball, not cut out - I find the dough dries out too much when I try cutting it then freezing it) or I'll make a pie. Because I also loooooove pie.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

So long, 'meow'

My daughter used to do this adorable thing where she identified animals by their sounds.

She still does it to some degree, but the other day at daycare, she walked in and said, "Hello, cat."

And my heart broke a little.

She used to say, "Hello, meow," and it made me smile every time. I mean, how freakin' cute is that?

Now, saying, "Hello cat," means she's getting older, she's learning the proper name for things and she's growing as a person.

It means she's not going to stay little, no matter how much I want her to remain my wee girl.

It makes me think that I'm going to be sad when I realize she's no longer excited about seeing a bus or a fire truck, but I know she'll be excited about other things - like going to see fireworks, riding on rollercoasters and new adventures.

Yes to this! Pre-mommy things my kids may never know

I enjoy the blog Scary Mommy, and this post about pre-mommy stuff our kids will never know about is so very true.

My kids won't know I used to love amaretto and coke, and that one time I let their father pour my drinks and he used up my whole 26er in four drinks and I was trashed and sleeping under a chair before 9.

They won't know I used to be a nighthawk and hated the world before 10 a.m. ... OK, 11 a.m.

They won't know there was a time I thought hanging out at the splash pad was lame.

But I hope they do know I can still have fun, even if my definition of what a fun time is has changed.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Stop smashing cakes!

Ottawa photographer's cake smash LINK
I might be the only mother in the world who feels this way, but I hate the "cake smash" photo trend.

Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

The idea: You take a small cake and let your one-year-old smash it to bit, getting maybe a little bit in their mouth, to get some "cute" photos.

My problems with it: I hate food-on-your-face photos, even of children. I rarely think, "That dirty child is so adorable." Even my own children. I have taken photos of my two children with food on their faces - and that's where it ends. I don't share it with others, I don't post it to social media. It's gross to me. Food is meant to look pretty on a plate or be delicious in my tummy.

You're wasting perfectly good cake. There are starving children in this world, yet we think it's funny and cute to let our child destroy cake? That's kind of messed up when you think about it. I would kinda be OK if you were letting them destroy a cupcake. But people make small cakes specifically to have them smashed. I am a lover of food - I hate to see if smashed to bits simply for the sake of photos.

Which brings me to ... you're wasting money. Now, it's your money so who am I to say you're wasting it, but often for these cake smashes, people hire a photographer to take the photos. You look at the photos once when you get them, you share them to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and then ... what do you do with them? I'll also point out buying a cake just to destroy it is a waste of money and not just cake.

That's all to say, do what you want. I saw yet another cake smash in my Facebook feed today and I just felt the need to write about it.

As an aside, my "news you can use" really didn't work out because on Friday, we did a day trip somewhere and I neglected it. So, yeah ... sorry about that.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Do you know how to sew?

Because I do not. The last time I tried to learn was in Grade 8, during home economics. I was terrible at it. I couldn't iron, let alone figure out how a bobbin worked.

But now, I want to learn because I suddenly have the urge to make skirts out of cool fabrics. Like Star Trek TNG fabric I found. Or, you know, something not nerdy (or even MORE nerdy).

How awesome would that be as a skirt? I mean, COME ON!

My mother sews. My mother-in-law sews. I buy the stuff you use an iron to melt it and glue fabric together.

I looked up sewing classes today at a local shop - $100 for two two-hour classes, plus supplies. Yikes!

But I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet. I mean, how else am I going to score a cool Star Trek skirt? Maybe I can turn it into a business. Likely not ... but maybe!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

News you can use - July 12

Here are the top stories I think people will be talking about today, quickly recapped for busy parents.

Canada
Another WestJet flight had to be diverted after a threat was made against it Wednesday evening. That was the third threat this week, and the fourth overall. The airline said it believed the latest threat was a hoax, but took the precaution of landing the Vancouver to Toronto flight in Calgary. Read more on the CBC

Entertainment
Stephen Colbert hosted a local cable TV show in Monroe, Mi., and it is hilarious. In it, he acts like an awkward host, but also interviews Eminem. If you can find 45 minutes to watch it, I'd recommend it (I am a Colbert fan). If not, the Eminem interview starts around the 21 minute mark.




News
As if we couldn't love the Girl Scouts more - they sell delicious cookies and now, they've rejected a $100,000 donation after the giver said it couldn't be used for any transgendered children. The Girl Scouts of Western Washington said the organization is for every girl and returned the cash, and now a crowdfunding campaign has raised more than $250,000 for the group. Read more on Fast Company

News
A newborn baby boy has a fractured skull after a tired nurse dropped him. A doctor at the Uniontown, Pa., hospital told the boy's mother the nurse was drowsy when she was feeding him at 6 a.m. Tuesday, fell asleep and dropped him. The boy is expected to make a full recovery. Police are investigating. Read more on CTV

Entertainment
TV Land has pulled reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard because the General Lee, the boys' car, predominately displays the Confederate flag. There has been major backlash against the flag, which many deem to be racist given its history, after nine black congregation members were shot and killed in a Charleston, S.C., church on June 17. Read more on the NYTimes

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

News you can use - July 1

Do you know this woman? She doesn't know herself and is
looking for help figuring out her identity.
One thing I want to do daily is a brief top (often five) stories you, as a parent, may want/need to know each day but, frankly, might not have time to read the full stories. It will often have a Canadian slant (especially with a federal election coming up this fall). 

Links will open in a new window.

News
Another church with a predominately black congregation has burned to the ground in the southern U.S. Fire crews were called to Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church late Tuesday. The cause of the fire is unknown; however, officials are considering arson after at least five other black churches have been set ablaze since June 17, when a gunman shot and killed nine people in a Charleston church. Read more on CNN

Canada
Smoke is currently covering much of Saskatchewan due to forest fires in that province and Alberta. The smoke has even started extending into the U.S. The fires have meant 3,000 people in northern communities have had to leave their homes. Read more on CBC

Weird
A California woman who gave birth in a remote area alone and then was stranded started a forest fire that ended up saving her life. Amber Pangborn told a local TV station she gave birth Thursday and started the fire in Plumas National Forest on Saturday to get the attention of first responders. Read more on Canoe.ca

News
A woman who may be from Australia is asking the public for help to figuring out her identity. Known as Sam for now, the woman was found in California on Feb. 1, but she has no memories. Doctors have said a large tumour may be to blame for her memory loss. Visit her Facebook page.

Entertainment
Bye-bye, Beniffer. Super Hollywood couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, who have been together for 10 years, have announced they're getting a divorce. The couple says the split is amicable. Read more on People.

Sports
The U.S. has moved on to the Women's FIFA World Cup final and will face either England or Japan. Read more at ESPN Meanwhile, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said he will not travel to Vancouver for Sunday's final because of "personal reasons." Maybe those personal reasons are ongoing corruption allegations. Read more on BBC

Finally, this isn't news, but today is Canada Day! Woot woot! I love Canada Day - fireworks, beer and a fun family event at our city's biggest park. Enjoy it, eh?


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wow, some of you are still here ... oh, and I've been laid off

I haven't blogged in months because I'm terrible like that, and some of you fine folks are still reading my blog posts. Thank you. It makes coming back to the blog a treat.

I totally thought blogging with two kids wouldn't be that hard. Ha!

"I have a Blogger app on my tablet," I thought in telling myself I'd actually make a go of this whole blogging thing. Yeah, I hate typing on my tablet. I use it mostly to browse Twitter and Pinterest - sometimes Facebook (but I hated the app so now have to browse it in Chrome and let me tell you, that sucks to do on a tablet).

Anyway ...

I am coming back to the blog tonight because I need to write. I need to do something with my brain beyond think about poopy diapers and whether my son has napped enough and what we should have for dinner (I despise meal planning).

I also want to write because something happened recently that made me realize if I couldn't write, I'd be lost in the world.



I got laid off earlier this month. It's totally legit - not a "you're a mother and we hate you" kind of thing, more a "your entire desk doesn't fit in with our new vision" so everyone got the boot kind of thing.

But man does it suck.

I don't blame the company. They gotz to make money and the job I was doing was being duplicated by an outside source - no point getting the same thing from two sources. I get it. I totally do. And the company is being super decent to those of us they let go.

Being laid off when on maternity leave sucks, though. Some people have said it's great I didn't get called into the boardroom with my colleagues and told the news there, but I disagree. Instead, I found out when my boss called me while I was driving home from a trip to visit my parents. He didn't want to tell me while I was driving, but as soon as he said, "I don't want to tell you while you're driving," the jig was up. We had had our suspicious it was a possibility, but we were kidding ourselves into believing it wouldn't happen.

I wish I had been alongside my coworkers for the meeting because then we'd be able to commiserate in person. Instead, I relied on email and Google chat to convey my "this effing sucks" comments to them.

It's also completely surreal. I was already off on mat leave, so to now be officially laid off really doesn't change anything, but it does because come November when I'm due to go back to work, I'm ... not.

I also find myself feeling pangs of, err, something. I worked at a news wire desk, so we were always trying to stay on top of the news, particularly breaking news, oddities and good health stories. So sometimes when I see stories show up in my Twitter feed, I think, "I should see if the desk knows about this." I still do this on a daily basis and every time I do I then think, "Oh yeah. Nevermind."

I am also so sad that the team I worked with has been benched. It is not often you work with people you love, but I not only loved my job, but my coworkers. They were family. Sure, some days we got along better than others, but that's what families do. Some days I love talking to my sister. Other days, not so much. But in the end, we're still there for each other. And I am going to miss my coworkers so, so, so much.

But then I have fun days with my two children and I forget my work woes for a while. Some have suggested maybe I just don't go back to work. Financially that's not really an option (because I do want to be able to travel with the wee ones and eat something other than KD), but even if it was, I want to go back. I feel like I'm my best me when I'm working, exercising my brain daily on interesting tasks (like editing, writing), and then coming home and doing my family thing - dinner, playtime and the bedtime routine.

So anyway, all of that is to say I need to get back to writing. I need an outlet and even if no one is here reading it (although Google analytics tells me otherwise), I have just got to write.