Friday, 31 October 2014

Stocking Up at the Grocery Store - What and When?

Buying in bulk is a wonderful thing.  It's nice to know that you have a certain number of staples on hand and capitalizing on a sale is a great way to keep your pantry well stocked. I come from a very savvy saving family.  My grandfather had buying tuna down to a science. My dad is prepared in case they ever discontinue deodorant. Me? Well, lets just say there will never be an empty toilet roll on my watch. Whether you're a card carrying Costco fanatic, a clever couponer, or price match master, not every bargain is one you actually need. With that in mind I decided to take a closer look at when to spend and when to pass.
What:  Non-perishable Food Items

When: It's a product that figures in to your regular food rotation
I strongly believe you should never have to buy pasta or pasta sauce at full price.  It's always on sale somewhere.  When I find a good buy on the brands I prefer, I always buy several. Spaghetti is a quick mid-week meal that you can customize to your taste with little effort. Perfect to have on hand. Items like canned or dried beans, frozen vegetables and items like rice are perfect for these types of one pot wonders. Casseroles, soups, and stews that you can make with whatever else you have on hand. Even though most of these products have a long shelf life, you should be aware of products you've had on hand a while. I once had a can of mandarin oranges in syrup for over a year. I have no idea for what purpose I had bought them. What a waste. Create a dinner, or consider donating to your local food bank so that your spending makes sense.

What:  Household and Personal Care.

When: It's products you know and trust. 
Two for one on toilet cleaner? Awesome. Huge discount on paper towel?  Load up! $20 off diapers? Buy 3, of various sizes of course! That is, if it's actually a good deal. I remember buying a large bottle of shampoo that didn't do a great job, and the awkward size made it difficult to dispense. I'm sure I wasted a great deal and I couldn't wait to buy a new type.  Another mom shared with me the story of buying a great deal on Kirkland brand wipes. The only problem is, she hated the smell. If you're buying a product you've never before used or of a lesser quality, you might end up with just a large quantity of something you hate.

What:  Fresh Dairy and Produce

When: Almost never. 
Unless you're planning to batch cook, host a party, or otherwise know with certainty that you need a large number of anything with an expiry date, just don't do it.  You will either start to hate that food because you're eating so often, or it will just end up going bad.  You know what they say: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Unless you can come up with a meal plan to capitalize on that box of tomatoes, or know with confidence that your kids will eat all those yogurt tubes before the 15th, don't bother. Oh, and take a tip from me - planning to bake eventually does not merit an entire freezer of black bananas. Free yourself from the guilt and the lack of space!

A good deal is only a good deal under the right conditions, so think about your purchase twice before breaking out the plastic. Think about the size of a serving, the way your family actually uses products and what else you might need to use that item. Your family will not switch from nuggets to salad just because you bought too much lettuce!

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Baby's Health: Hallowe'en Safety

Only 2 more days until Hallowe'en! The excitement in your house is probably at a fever pitch as children anticipate the candy haul awaiting them this Friday. However, your strongest emotion may be anxiety. Hallowe'en is a time to let imaginations run free, but keeping an eye on potential safety concerns can save you a world of trouble. A fun, worry-free night requires an awareness of the 3 C's.

The WIYDB 3 C’s of Hallowe’en Safety:

Before going out trick or treating, take the time to enjoy a light meal or snack. This will ensure that your child feels satiated and won’t be tempted to snack on the go as his bag fills up with candy. You need a chance to inspect the contents of goody-bags. Closely examine the treats in the bag by looking for choking hazards, signs of tampering (tiny pinholes, tears in wrappers, etc.), unusual appearance or discoloration, or homemade treats. It is a lovely gesture that your neighbour took the time to bake her famous “spooky brownies,” but children should only consume factory-wrapped treats. Once they have the go ahead, you should still limit the amount of treats your children consume in a day.

Always think of your child’s safety when purchasing, or making, a Hallowe’en costume. Choose light coloured fabrics (for visibility) that are not too long (to avoid tripping). If a costume needs swords, knives, or similar accessories, make sure they are short, soft, and flexible. Opt out of masks in your child’s costume because they can impair vision. Instead, use make-up and adhesives that have been tested the night before, on a small area, to make sure no allergic reactions occur. Thoroughly wash off make-up before bed. And don’t forget: costumes should be flame resistant….think of all the Jack ‘o’ Lanterns just waiting to be kicked over!

Safety during trick or treating is mostly a case of common sense. Stay visible by fastening reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you. Walk on sidewalks whenever possible obeying pedestrian road signs. Always walk from house  to house (as tempting as it is to run!) If you cannot accompany your child, make sure they are with a group or another trusted adult and that they only visit well-lit houses on their trip.

Hallowe'en is a really fun time for children and adults alike. It is a holiday that many look forward to, so the aim should be to make it memorable in a positive way. Following these safety tips will not take away from the excitement and joy of the night, but it will enhance the good feelings as everyone can breathe easily and focus on the festivities.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Weekend Mommy Musing: Appreciating the Pregnancy Journey

A lot can change in 9 months. When I first found out I was expecting I was definitely taken aback. This pregnancy would not rightfully be classified as an accident, more like a much wanted result that we weren't specifically working towards at the time. Still, dealing with the initial emotional abundance took a while. Can we afford this? Is this the best time? (Is there such thing as a “best” time?) Should we move? What will happen to my career? Throughout my pregnancy I have probably felt every emotion there is to feel; excitement, fear, worry, pain, euphoria, anxiety…you name it, really.

As of late—as I slowly (and sleeplessly) waddle through the final month—I have been guilty of letting the stress of the preparations and the many unknowns of my pending labour and first month of motherhood get the better of me. Welcoming a cute, little ball of love and needs into the world is obviously a most desired end goal, but this is the only time I’ll be pregnant with my first child, and arguably one of only three (or four?) times I will get to experience the many sensations—good and bad—of pregnancy. I want to appreciate it, to truly experience it as the time of new life, of possibility, and of bonding that it is. I won’t miss the constant dull ache in my back, the many trips to the bathroom, or lonely sleepless nights as my husband continues his stay in the spare room to escape my restlessness (and snoring!), but I believe I will miss being pregnant as a whole and so I want to treasure it while I still have time.

Here are the promises I make to my pregnant self (and, as an extension, to my unborn child):
  • I promise to be proud of my body now and in the future because it has done the most important biological job of creating a new life.
  • I promise to take a minute every single day to really cherish the feeling of you wiggling inside my belly (or one of your many bouts of hiccoughs).
  • I promise to focus on the process and the reward rather than the obstacles. The swollen feet won't last forever, but the memories of this time should be preserved.
  • I promise to be thankful to my husband for all of the support he is giving me (including pulling those darned compression socks up over my whale ankles) instead of focusing on the fact that I'm the only one who has to feel these aches and pains.

Knowing that any day now could be D-day (or L-day, as it were) brings with it a special set of anxieties, so it's especially important to take a step back to reflect on this exact point in time. I encourage everyone - no matter where you are in your motherhood journey - to take a minute this weekend to really appreciate it. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Media Reflection: Beyond the Sling

Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way

Mayim Bialik

Hardcover, 272 pages

Touchstone, 2012

ISBN 13: 9781451618006

So, full disclosure right off the bat: I do not intend to practice Attachment Parenting (AP). I elected to read this book because, as I prepare to embark on my lifelong parenting journey, I’m most interested in reading books by other moms, explaining what they did and why it did or didn't work for them. There is a place and time for medical doctrines and expert guide books, and I’m sure I’ll be reaching for “What to Expect: The First Year” or some similar tome when—sleep deprived and burdened by anxiety—I just can’t get my baby to calm down, but for now I just want to read books that share experiences. Mayim Bialik offers just that: a conversational tone, personal stories, and a set of tips that worked for her and her family. (It also offers a great introduction to Attachment Parenting concepts and methods, but they're weaved into the prose, so it can't be considered a standard introductory guide book.)

Beyond the Sling is broken into three parts (which are then further subdivided): What Baby Needs, What Baby Doesn't Need, and What Mama Needs. Bialik has a PhD in neuro-biology, and so she comes off as informed, but her focus is not so much the science as it is the sense of what feels right for your family and best for your baby. The core principles of AP are discussed: natural child birth, breast feeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, cloth or no diapering, gentle discipline, etc. While she constantly reminds her reader that she understands the individuality of these decisions, pressure still bleeds through the prose a little bit. There was a lot of "I understand not everyone can or will make these choices, it was simply what was right for me because...I love my babies and want the best for them and this is the best." Which can start to sound like "not everyone will make these decisions because they don't love their babies as much so they'll choose adequate secondary options." That being said, I did not resent her at the end of the book and truly believe that she understands the decision making process and respects other mothers whether they practice AP or not.

While it was easy for me to immediately decide that elimination communication (diaper-less babies roaming free) was not for me, other parts of AP aligned with my beliefs, and I was inspired to find ways in which I could incorporate them into my own choices. It opened up a dialogue with my own set of perceived parenting ideas (and amazing discussions with my husband) as I had to consider why what she was describing was not something I would choose to do. In the end, breast feeding (if I am able), gentle discipline, and some form of baby wearing are the three things I’ll definitely incorporate into my life, but I honestly feel that Mayim would be okay with that.

My favourite take away from this book is the idea of logical consequences for actions. As a part of gentle discipline, Mayim described the oddness of threatening children with seemingly unrelated punishments for actions, ie: "If you don't stop screaming, we won't go to the park later!" What does screaming and the park have to do with each other? Instead, she recommends using language to describe the connection between behaviour and response, such as "The way you keep screaming makes me afraid you won't listen to me when we go to the park later and it's important that you listen to stay safe when we go out." Ah! There's the connection.

While reading parenting books, blogs, and websites that validate your choices can be comforting and offer much needed advice and troubleshooting when most needed, I think it behooves us to read widely about experiences different to our own as well. If nothing else, it gives us pause to reflect on the decisions we make and allows us the time to appreciate the good job we are doing as mothers and fathers. I would recommend this book to those unfamiliar with attachment parenting for just that reason.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

DIY - Baking for Autumn, A Two Ingredient Fix?

Stylish boots, cozy sweaters and all matter of new treats are arriving at the mall - a common hang out for a mommy needing a fall weather walk. I love to grab a coffee and people watch, taking in more atmosphere than calories wherever possible. I've noticed my fellow caffeine consumers tend to fall in to one of two camps; pumpkin fanatics and pumpkin haters. If you're on the first side of the equation like I am, you are likely thrilled to see the return of Starbucks PSL (pumpkin spice latte, of course) and that tasty Tim Horton's muffin with the nugget of cream cheese and sugar-shock in the middle. If you're trying to fend off some pounds or save some dough (see what I did there?) then home baking might be the ticket.

The problem is: baking is science.  There are important ingredients to be managed and measured exactly.  My mom once made the most delectable pumpkin cinnamon rolls with a gorgeous frosting.  I begged her for the recipe, but when I got it, I was shocked.  Over 3 hours of mixing, kneading, resting, rolling, slicing, baking, cooling, frosting... It's messy, it's time consuming, and honestly, they didn't turn out!  They were more like sticky hockey pucks than the fluffy cinnamon clouds my mom had created!

You need only enter "pumpkin" on Google or Pinterest to be bombarded with thousands of easier recipes, but one stuck out to me.  Two ingredient pumpkin spice muffins.  Now you have my attention.  All I need is a box of spice cake mix and a can of pure pumpkin for a delicious rainy day treat?  Sign me up.  I had seen variations of this before; angel food cake mix plus diet Sprite or classic yellow with a tin of pineapple.  If this worked, I had a whole world of quick treats unfolding ...

I will first mention, my son was in a "mood" while I tried to bake, so I made this entire recipe (other than the steps involving the oven,) while baby-wearing.  Points to the straightforwardness of the recipe for that reason. My kitchen was a little disheveled, but I tried to capture some photos in the interest of science.  You're welcome.

I decided in the interest of simplicity and thorough mixing, to use my amazing food processor to combine the ingredients rather than the good 'ol wooden spoon.  This was laziness and not a necessity.  It did combine quickly and well, however.  The batter was the consistency of warm peanut butter and it transferred to the muffin tin excellently one handed.  Big plus there.  I made sure to use muffin liners for presentation value and to avoid possible difficulties in removing the end product from my pan, but I'm sure greasing the tin would have done the same job.

For muffins, the instructions suggested 18-21 minutes at 350 C.  I baked them 18 and the fork came out clean and dry, so I assumed they were done and left them to rest on my cooling rack.  A closer inspection afterwards made me wonder if they could have used a little longer.  I live in fear of burning things, especially cakes, which are harder to judge than cookies or savory dishes. They looked beautiful, smelled great and we were eager to try them.


The taste is hard to explain.  They were "good", but not "great".  Possibly in part due to under baking, the consistency had a slight moist, pudding quality.  It was definitely cooked through, light and cakey, but the texture was odd.  Full marks for flavour, however.  A yum factor of 8 out of 10.  A light spice with a mild pumpkin in the vein of a coffee cake.  Really nice.

Would I make them again?  The best I could say is a solid maybe.  I don't buy cake mix often, but if it was on sale or I had an event in mind, I might give it a go.  I may have had an allergic reaction to this brand, due to a dye or preservative, so I would look for another kind. I would bake the muffins slightly longer, or perhaps add one egg for some stability.  I would absolutely add another textural element, like walnuts on top to give it more personality.

Monday, 20 October 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Eve and Isaac

For some, pregnancy comes easily.  Others, like myself, have had a longer road to motherhood.  Today's feature falls in to the latter category, but all the sweeter the reward! The first thing women say when they see this knock out is "I love his hair!"  And Isaac's charms don't stop with his luscious, full head of blond locks. His smile will catch you from across a room. Not even 5 months old and already a lady killer! He's been seen all around town, from his busy social circle to long hikes with mommy all over south-western Ontario. With parents that take full advantage of the outdoors (and, of course, that winning grin), we asked...

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Eve

Baby's Name (and age): Isaac (5 months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: My wallet. If I forget anything I can at least buy more of it if I am away from home.

Basic Save: Wipes. Buy a reusable container and refill it with wipes you can buy in bulk.

Essential Splurge: 
  • Battery Pack - if my phone dies while I'm out I can recharge it in minutes. (Photo here taken from
  • Good Diapers! - nothing worse than a diaper that doesn't properly fit your baby's shape and size. 
Which is so true!  Whether you cloth diaper or use disposables, what mother hasn't dealt with that so dreaded "poo-splosion". And on the same lines...

Best Preparedness Advice: S#$! happens, prepare for it!

Amen, sista'!  And what a well stocked diaper bag it is:
Contents (left to right): Thick fluffy blanket, receiving blanket, winter hat and mitts, summer hats, onesies, pajamas, pants, socks, bottles and formula, vibrating toy, wrist rattle, soothers, Penaten bum cream, Sudocream bum cream, infant Tempera, hand sanitizer, 8 diapers, wipes, change pad, plastic resealable bag, infant massage booklet, massage oil, mommy plan, notebook, pens, CBT worksheets, immunization records, 2 granola bars, Kleenex tissues, battery pack, camera, cheque book, wallet, hair pick, gift card, medication, random garbage, sympathy card.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Mommy Mental Health: Involving Daddy in Pregnancy and Birth

You have no doubt heard it said "It takes a village to raise a child" and yet motherhood so often feels like a solitary pursuit. If you delivered, you carried an unknown being within your physical body for months on end. You bore the guilt of every meal, felt the pang of every movement, and dealt with stress your spouse could only imagine. Once the baby is born, the stress only worsens. You worry about breast milk, cold wipes, bumps and bruises... But you are not alone. 

As hard as it was for me to imagine, I knew my husband suffered with and for me. He worried for the baby, but no amount of carrots or caffeine withdrawal could help. He couldn't feel the movement for the most part, and couldn't gauge growth and health. He watched me feel the heartburn, the leg cramps, but also the joys behind a wall of glass - just waiting for the opportunity to pitch in.

Not everyone has a spouse in the picture as I do, but you might have another situation to which this advice might apply. You might have a partner with which you're no longer in a relationship but would like involvement, you might live with your parents or share rent with a roommate. When you think about your pregnancy, there are always people in your life that want to help you and your child. Keep this in mind while I cover some of the strategies I used (or wish I had better used) during my pregnancy and the early months of my son's life to keep my husband involved.

Early pregnancy can be a very scary time. You feel a great excitement, but also a paranoia about all that can go wrong. Neither member of the couple can really see the progress of growth. Especially if you are older or have had a loss in the past, your tension during this time can impact your relationship. If your partner has some flexibility at work or with their schedule, try sharing the doctor and ultrasound appointments. Let them hear from the source how things are progressing and ask their questions. By feeling involved in the process, my husband experienced some of those early highs of seeing the motion and hearing the heart beat.

As your baby and your body grows, so too can your moodiness and your discomfort. It can be very hard to put in to words how you feel; the aches and pains, but also the emotional stresses about pregnancy and delivery. As difficult as it is, try to talk to your spouse or support team about how you are coping and what you need to feel your best (given the circumstances.) This could mean that all important night walk for all-dressed chips and grape pop with your Mom. It might involve running over the budget and making lists for the nursery with your husband. It might even mean ensuring the curtains are washed before a shoe shopping trip with your cousin. Hey, your feet start to swell and bending for laces starts to seem laughable!

Be sure also to talk about your expectations for the big day and hear your partner out. Do they want to be in the room, cut the cord, stay the night in the hospital? Talk about how you can share the experience together, and this might involve some compromises. Some couples go so far as creating a birth plan; a list of numbers, strategies and steps for ensuring the birth goes smoothly. If this is not your style, at least talk over who's driving (or calling the cab), who calls the parents and where your go-bag is. You'll be focused on other things when the time comes, so being a well prepared point-man is daddy's role.

After baby's arrival, you feel worse before you feel better. You might have stitches, pain, and a lot of bleeding to contend with. A helping hand for feeding baby, changing diapers, and possibly getting around yourself is important. It's essential bonding time for both of you, so don't be afraid to ask for help! Start while you're still in hospital. If your spouse is unsure how to do something (or if you are), ask the nurses while they are still immediately available. No question is too dumb, no random thought is unimportant. They are there to help you succeed. It was emotional for me to watch my husband attentively learning how to give our son a bath as a nurse gently washed him in a little blue tub. I felt very peaceful watching and knowing I could count on his help.

The amount of visits and outpouring of love in the first few weeks can be overwhelming. While you don't want to turn away guests who mean well, it is okay to have limitations. Take some time to just be a family and acclimate to your new life. Whether its your first or not, your family has just changed for now and forever. It's special and you should savour it. It moves more quickly than you can possibly imagine.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Best Books: Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en is right around the corner, and with hundreds of spooky, silly, creepy themed books to choose from, it's a great time to head out to the library for a story session. You probably have a few classics in mind, and your favourite characters likely have Hallowe'en stories on offer, but here are a few can't miss titles for the season.

Ages: 1-4

Book: Go Away, Big Green Monster! / Ed Emberley

What's it About? Page by page, the narrator describes a big, green monster as the parts appear. Once it is fully revealed, he takes control and sends the scary monster away.

What Makes it Great? Visually, this book is tons of fun. The cut outs allow for the perfect pacing, and helps to introduce something "scary" in a way very little kids can handle. In the end, the reader gets to tell the monster to "GO AWAY," which is a very powerful feeling for someone very small. Great to prepare for the sights and sounds of Halloween.

 Ages: 4-6

Book: Bone Dog / Eric Rohman

What's it About? Gus doesn't feel like doing much after his dog Ella dies; not even dressing up for Halloween. But when Gus runs into a bunch of rowdy skeletons, it's Ella--his very own Bone dog--who comes to his aid, and together they put those skeletons in their place.

What Makes it Great? This is a sensitive story about friendship and dealing with loss, but it's also a fun Halloween romp with beautiful illustrations. An older child will appreciate the different levels of this story.

Ages: 7-11

Book: Zombiekins / Kevin Bolger

What's it About? Stanley Nudelman buys a "creepy-cute" stuffed animal from a scary neighbour's garage sale, thinking it is a harmless purchase. Not so much. Over night, the toy turns into an undead monster who, when unleashed at school, starts turning everyone into zombies. It's up to Stanley to fix the problem he's created.

What Makes it Great? This books is hilarious. The pacing of the action is just right for the reluctant junior reader and the subject matter is right on trend. For kids ready for chapter books but hesitant to pick up the books you remember from childhood, Zombiekins is a great pick. 

Friday, 10 October 2014

What to Pack: Go Bag Edition

For some of us, preparing for baby starts as soon as we see the two blue lines on the stick. Making space for baby, buying all the necessities, decorating a nursery, picking out a name...there's a lot to do and we're excited (and sometimes overwhelmed) to do it. When it comes to preparation, one thing you definitely do not want to forget is to pack a hospital go bag with plenty of time before you go into labour. Running around the house grabbing things while counting the time between contractions and starting the car is a nightmare that can be avoided if you do have that bag waiting by the door early.

Your due date is set at 40 weeks from conception, but your baby is considered full term at 36 weeks, so aim to have your go bag packed and situated right by the front door by 35 weeks—even if you don’t plan to have a hospital birth. You can never be sure what’s going to happen, so give yourself peace of mind by preparing for the possibility early. One very important thing to slip into an accessible outside pocket of your go bag is your maternity notes. If you’ve taken the time to make a birth plan, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve written it out and packed it. Even if you’ve discussed it in advance with your partner or other support person (which you should do) the hustle and bustle of delivery day can leave everyone a little bit frazzled.
With that being said, there are a few things you’ll want to make sure are in your go bag, and others that are nice to have if the hospital allows them. Here are some suggestions of what to pack for that all important trip to the hospital!

For you:
Toiletries (Shampoo, conditioner, brush, toothbrush, deodorant, etc)
Hair elastic

Lip balm

Slippers and/or socks

Night gown or baggy pajama pants (It'll be nice to wear your own, comfortable pjs)

Camera with memory stick

Cell phone charger (Plus, a list of phone numbers of those you want to call)

Clothes to go home in

Nursing bra and breast pads (If you plan on breast feeding)

Cheap, comfortable underwear

Magazine (For light, easy reading)

Sanitary pads

Change of clothes and some toiletries for your partner

                    You may also want:
                     A towel
                     A pillow and/or a nursing pillow
                     Change for the hospital vending machines
                     Small snacks
                     Sugar free candies to suck on
                     A water spray

For baby:
Blanket. (The hospital will be temperature controlled, but it’s always nice to wrap baby in a blanket for extra warmth, especially when leaving the hospital in cooler weather. )

A few onesies.

Coming home outfit. (Choose a special outfit for the baby to make his or her grand arrival in, but don’t go too crazy. No need for sequins or 3 piece suits. Pick out a nice onesie in a cute pattern and maybe a homemade knit sweater. Something easy to wear that is meaningful.)

Car seat. (If you want to bring your baby home in a car, you’ll need to have a car seat with you. Safety first!)
Jacket or snow suit (If it’s late fall or winter.)

Newborn sized diapers and sensitive wipes.
2 or 3 burp cloths and receiving blankets.

A hat and booties.

Tip: If you have pets at home, have your partner bring a receiving blanket that has been wrapped around the baby for the pets to smell before you bring your little one home. It will prepare them for the new family member.

What must haves do you recommend for the go bag? Share with us in the comments or on Facebook! []

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

DIY: Hallowe'en Crafts

Decorating for the changing seasons is a fun way to spend the afternoon with kids, or heck just for yourself. Fall especially is a fantastic time to use natural elements as free supplies. A nature walk might see beautiful leaves, acorns, or small twigs become a wonderful decoration and keepsake.  Unfortunately, autumn weather might also mean colder temperatures and rain (or even snow!) Here are a few fun and simple Hallowe'en craft ideas for what you might already have on hand.

The first clever craft courtesy of the Maven of Style herself (Ms. Stewart for those not yet addicted) is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Macaroni art is a classic activity for kids that I remember so fondly myself and this spooky twist is fantastic. Start with black construction paper, pasta and a quality glue.  You will likely need a liquid such as Elmers for good sticking power. A glue stick might not cut it longterm. Once you have the tools, build a creepy masterpiece in no time.  If anatomy is not your thing, why not a black cat, bats or tombstone shape? This would work well with any shape of pasta you have on hand and especially if you had a couple of boxes with just a little left over.  You could substitute cotton balls or marshmallows for a haunting look.  Or try painting heavy cardboard black for a hang-able creation.

For something a little less scary and more colourful, why not try your hand at one of these adorable tissue box creations. Giggles Galore calls them "Tattle Monsters" and boy are they cute!  Intended as a teaching tool, they make a fun anytime craft for kids of all ages.  You need a tissue box of any brand, an egg carton and the decorations of your choice!  The pictured crew includes some craft paper, googly eyes and some white paper for the pearly whites.  You could also add pipe cleaners for arms and antennas or fur and felt pieces for a great texture. This is a great way to stray from the standard orange, black and white that prevails at Hallowe'en and let your imagination run wild.  You could recreate characters from your favourite movie with greens, teals and purples.  You could use your school colours, or match them to your child's bedroom.  Anything goes.

If your kids are younger, a fun way to craft and be messy without lots of small pieces is the good old fashioned potato stamp.  A staple of the fall pantry, potatoes can be carved in to a number of ghoulish shapes for artwork, costumes and more. To duplicate the picture you will need a few medium sized potatoes (cut in half for carving), craft paint and paper lunch sacks.  Martha suggests this funky skull design for class room treat bags, but you don't need to stop there. How about pumpkins for a seasonal centerpiece, or witch hats for a fun garland? Carvings can be anything your mind can imagine and it will become an activity you will want to do again and again. Don't forget, whatever you carve will be backwards when you stamp!  If you're spelling something, try writing it out on paper first and taking it to the mirror to ensure the best results!

Ghosts are an easy craft to be made with just about anything you have in the house.  Try balling up some paper towel and wrap with tissue paper for classroom friendly scare.  Use a pom pom wrapped in facial tissue and tear the edges. Or take it up a notch as Country Living as done here; small paper cups and white balloons draped with cheesecloth for a more antique look. You can do as little or as much as you like.  Add arms, fearful expressions or keep them simple, it's really up to you. Great to group outside in a mobile or hang throughout your Hallowe'en party, all you really need are 3 basic components; something solid, something gauzy and a black marker. 

Share your favourite Hallowe'en craft or show us how your little Picasso recreated one of our suggestions above!  Message us on Facebook at or comment below!  

Monday, 6 October 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Celebrity Edition (Kim Kardashian and North West)

Love her or hate her, Kim Kardashian is constantly in the gossip columns because of her parenting choices. Whether dressing baby North in a leather skirt, or spending $1,200 on a car seat, everyone has an opinion on this television personality, her husband, and her baby. This week, WIYDB? decided to look a little closer at the purchases and preferences of the girl everyone loves to hate.

What's in Your Diaper Bag? 

Kim Kardashian

Baby's Name (and age):
North (16 months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: 
The clothes. Both Kim and Kanye are known for their fashion choices, and they made a very specific one for baby Nori: no pink. North is dressed in nothing but neutrals, and is often shown wearing designer clothing that rivals mom’s. Just last week, North attended a fashion show in a Givenchy sheer black embellished lace playsuit. I can’t help but cringe at the thought of having to throw out something like that because of a diaper explosion, but it’s all relative!

Basic Save: 
One place Kim seems to have saved money is on the stroller (the thing to which our diaper bags are most often attached). At $940, the Orbit Baby G2 Travel System is no steal, but based on the extravagances in every other arena, and the fact that the average travel system sells for something around $400, this seems reasonable.

Essential Splurge
It’s no surprise that for this celebrity mama, everything is a splurge, but one particular item that sticks out is the diaper bag itself. Kim was spotted using a $30,000 Hermes bag to carry her burp cloths, bum wipes, and diapers. “Essential” may be a contested word choice here, but there is no doubt that looking stylish and staying on top of the trends is a top priority for this notorious mom.

Best Preparedness Advice: 
I would argue that the best preparedness advice we can get from Kim is to be prepared to ignore those people who attempt to make us feel bad for our choices as mothers and fathers. Kim makes some interesting parenting choices, in what she prioritizes, in how she dresses her child, in what she shares with the world, but she never apologizes for doing what she believes is the right thing for her family. Our intuition as parents is our strongest asset. Practice presenting Kim Kardashian level confidence in the decisions that feel right for you and your baby (without diminishing someone else for their right to do the same).

Friday, 3 October 2014

If It Ain't Broke...Fussy Babies

I haven't even given birth to my baby yet (only 44 days until my due date!) and I have already experienced the powerful impact of a group a current mommies sharing advice, and in some cases commiserating. Staying at home with a baby can feel isolating, and every pregnancy / baby is different so each new child is an adventure of what ifs and what nows. Being able to discuss your fears, confusions, and uncertainties with other mommies going through the same thing right now (or just recently) is invaluable, but we cannot discount the sage advice and tried and true methods of those who parented before us.

Obviously, not all advice is solid advice: in second century BC, the Greek physician Galen prescribed opium for colicky babies*. I'm sure it worked but we wouldn't do that now! Recommendations change all the time as studies are done and new information surfaces, but sometimes there is no better mothering advice than from your own mother - even if she hasn't had an infant for over 20 years. With that in mind, we approached some amazing mothers (and grandmothers) to share with us their advice on dealing with fussy babies. These are tactics that have survived the test of time.

What's your best advice for dealing with a fussy baby?

"I would have my baby wrapped snuggly in his favourite blanket and hold him close to my chest and whisper loving words or sing to him while gently rocking him back and forth." 
Lee (Children ages 35, 32 & 30)

"Take them for a ride in the car." Ellen (Children ages 11, 7 & 6)

"The best way to deal with a fussy baby is to go into a darkened room, find a comfortable place to sit, and gently rock the baby while humming, singing, or making shushing sounds. Swaddle the baby and make sure you have a solid reassuring hold on him. Some babies like to hold a blanket or your finger or suck a soother for security. Be patient, don't rush them, and soon your baby will be content." Susan (Children ages 31, 28 & 24)

For the fussy baby on-the-go: "My diaper bag always had to have Gripe water.....don't leave home without it!" Jacqui (Children ages 29, 26 & 22)

"I would just cuddle them.  Take them for a walk and whisper in to their ears. That's all I ever did." Betty (Children ages 59, 56, 55, 53 & 45)

 "[Two of the things that worked for me was] Singing: I sang a lot to my kids. Some real songs and some I made up. Usually songs about the baby with the baby's name in it and ROUTINE: We started a routine with Leah when she was very young. I know it sounds crazy, but a routine really helped us." Adrienne (Children ages 6 & 14)

"First thing (after feeding, changing, and burping a fussy baby) is to swaddle them tightly and then rock/sway them. But oddly enough, I had 4 kids and they all responded to different things. Jordan - impossible mostly but liked being rocked, Mathew - swaddled and left alone, Briar - thumb and flannel blanket over her head (she also slept easily if I vacuumed), and Zach - Moses basket placed on the dryer when I was doing laundry: the noise, heat, and movement put him out." Joanne (Children ages 29, 28, 24 & 21)

"...Looking back, I remember that I would be nervous/agitated when [my babies] would not calm down. In retrospect; remaining calm really helped. Babies have a true sense when mom is out of behaving yourself in the way you want your baby to be is really important...although not always easy." Paula (Children ages 17 & 14)

*From: Solter, A (1998). Tears and Tantrums: What to Do When Babies and Children Cry. Goleta, CA: Shining Star Press.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Mommy Money Matters: Hallowe'en Costumes

Stores are constantly trying to sell you something.  If it's not something you need now, it's something you will need soon.  That's why you're still wearing shorts when they start pitching Back to School and you haven't even sharpened a pencil before Christmas decorations take over.  Baby stores are no different.  I was barely in the door of one before being presented with the most adorable selection of baby boy Halloween costumes; pumpkins, Frankenstein and the nail in my wallet's coffin... a dinosaur.  My husband had one in his hand immediately. Okay, it's super cute and I let it go.  He's our first and currently only, I will allow the indulgence.

Having said that, however, I can't buy a costume every year... They can be unimaginative, poorly made, and with the prospective of multiple children, can really add up!  More than that, when I think about my favourite costumes over the years, they were usually ones that my parents had made especially for me. Unique, special, and undoubtedly a lot cheaper. So if you have a few moments to spare and a few dollars to spend, how can you make a wonderful Halloween costume?  Here are a few tips:

Under 4 years old:

Start with pajamas!  Take a old pair or a very inexpensive pair and a minimal amount of accessories from the crafting or dollar store will make the basis for some seriously cute results!
  • Green footsie pajamas and a pointy stalking cap can become a string bean for a lean baby.  Add some green pompoms to turn him in to a sweet pea! A painted tin pie plate can make for a turtle shell! A collar and some mittens could become Kermit the frog!
  • A neutral colour pajama can become all matter of animal - a super cute choice for a little one.  A little felt fringing for a lion mane, for example, or some fuzzy ears attached to a hood for a cat or mouse.

5-10 years old:

The age of imitation!  This is when kids love to play and dress up like movie or tv characters.  Start with an oversize adult t-shirt!
  • Slice the sleeves off an orange tee and add a felt tie and spots for a Fred Flinstone look.  A white tee cut on an angle with a twisted neckline can become Wilma for a matching set.
  • A dark green shirt, green tights, and a brown belt is a perfect place to start for any number of characters; Robin Hood needs a sword and a feathered cap, add some pointed shoes and a dagger for Peter Pan, or a cute bun, inexpensive wings, and glitter for a feminine Tinkerbell!
  • has a fantastic tutorial on how to turn a t-shirt in to a custom cape that will last far longer than those store bought plastic ones.  A red or black shirt would work best here of course.
  • Pink, purple or light blue is a good way to start a princess.  Fluff up the sleeves, add a shiny belt, a little volume to the skirt, then add sparkles! Little girls love any opportunity for a fancy hairdo and makeup.

11 and up:

Think outside the box!  The cardboard box that is...  Without as many concerns about safety, take your bold costume to new heights with bigger pieces that make a statement.
  • Paint yourself something bold and interesting like an iPod or a juice box. Add some paper cups for a Lego look.
  • Turn your box into a car, train, boat, or other ride and cruise in to that Halloween party!

Of course, these are very basic outfits, but I hope we have offered something to inspire you. If you like some of the ideas you have seen here, but need a little more instruction, you can certainly look at sites such as Etsy or Pinterest for examples or even tutorials.  Share ideas with crafty friends and family while you're learning.  Also, stock up on some essentials to take your costume to the next level when you see them on sale; washable paint, paper plates for masks and texture, felt or other fabric squares, etc. The fun thing about Halloween is that it is all about imagination.  Don't plan too far ahead, let your child and the season guide you.  By the time those products are in store you still have over a month to prepare!