Thursday, 29 October 2015

MOM SHOW! November 7th 11-3pm!

It's almost time...

Our first ever showcase of local moms is coming up in 2 weeks! We've been working in partnership with the talented and hardworking representatives of lots of home based businesses to make a great holiday shopping opportunity for Guelph and surrounding area! From sweet treats to adorable booties... From relaxing fragrances to personalized jewellery - there will be something for everyone!

While you browse, enjoy a snack at our Once Upon A Child cafe! We will have coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for purchase by donation, as well as cookies provided by our own Christmas baker, Julie!

Don't forget, we are hosting a silent auction and donation bin with proceeds benefiting Guelph Beginnings! They are urgently seeking larger sized diapers and training pants (4-6), wipes, and hygiene supplies for both mom and baby! Everyone who donates a package of diapers will be entered in to a draw for a fantastic prize!

WIYDB? Mom Show!
November 7th from 11am-3pm
at the Orange Hall
385 Waterloo Ave, Guelph, ON N1H 3K3

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Mom's Own Health - Fall Calorie Swap Out!

Ah, the fall. Colourful leaves, crisp mornings, and all that comfort food. It's delicious, but with shorter days and cold nights, it is not always the healthiest way to eat. Gone are the abundant and inexpensive salads of summer, and we are not preparing to hibernate, so how does a mommy eat well without packing on the tummy? Some clever swaps, that's how. From frothy seasonal drinks, to satisfying soups, and luxurious desserts, there is a healthy way to do it all. Today I have a couple ideas to start you off.

More than rain and hockey season, I know it is officially autumn with the arrival of three little letters - P S L. The Pumpkin Spice Latte is something of a modern religion, and such an indulgence for a stroller walk or a nice catch up with a friend. Without an expensive espresso machine and fancy syrup, can you recreate the magic at home? Absolutely yes! There are dozens of internet sites with the so-called secret to a recipe, like this one from famous calorie-reducer Hungry Girl. The problem is, some of them contain so many ingredients, or ones you just never have in the house (French vanilla powdered creamer?) For myself, what makes the PSL so delicious is the rich coffee flavour with that light, spicy taste. I found the following to be just as satisfying, and way easier to whip up. 

6 oz dark roast or espresso (I use Keurig or instant works)
6  oz whole milk (my son drinks this, so I have it on hand, you can go lighter if you want)
1 tbs pure pumpkin (reserve some from a recipe, or it keeps in fridge for a week)
1 dash pumpkin pie spice (I have this on hand, but cinnamon and nutmeg are key)
1 tsp Honey (or your choice of sweetening agent to taste)

Mix your pumpkin, honey, and spice into your milk, and heat in the microwave 30 seconds.
Brew your coffee right on top!

Done, that's it. It's not exactly the taste of the PSL, but none of the recipes out there are. Mine is 5 ingredients, 4 of which you probably have on hand right now, and saves you almost 50% of the calories (157 vs 300). A further swap of whole milk and sweetener would cut the calories down to 67 (!!!) but you lose that richness that makes this latte so satisfying. You have to find that balance between "light" and "diet" if you know what I mean.


On that topic, evil diets often advocate veggie-packed, broth based soups to help whittle your middle. I love soup in all its forms, and a good chicken noodle or a minestrone done right is a real treat. That said, they can be a little lack luster without the pasta, and often feels incomplete without a little sandwich on the side. Boost your soups produce content, and cut down on the sodium by substituting broth with tomatoes! A can of diced tomatoes is a great soup starter, and provides body without bulk. A tomato juice like V8 also gives a nice flavour, with the bonus of a large group of vegetables! Watch the salt though, its surprising. Recipes like this one give you a great idea of how to start with a healthy base, then put a spin on it to suit your own taste!
  • Skip the broth like we suggested, or try using mushroom base!
  • Use different vegetables depending on your likes and the season! Buy what's on sale!
  • Add some beans, lentil, split peas, or barley to give it a little more body!
  • Try some lean proteins like chicken or tofu to make your soup more satisfying!
You can eat well without giving up on what you love, but it does take a little planning. I whole heartedly support turning your kitchen in to Chopped every once in a while, but never knowing what is in the house or what to make will lead to frustration... and eating out. Set yourself up for success by stocking some healthy staples in your kitchen like tuna, frozen mix vegetables, and whole grains like quinoa. The stressed out and hungry future you will be grateful!

Do you have some healthy fall meals to satisfy our readers?
Share them with us on Facebook!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Trend Watch - Diaper Party

While couples are often heard saying “we’re pregnant,” the bulk of the attention often goes to mom. She does the heavy work after all, so it seems fitting! As with most major events that happen in a female lifespan, this is often accompanied by a shower – the sisters, mothers, aunts, girlfriends, etc gather to bring a little something to help the baby off. This traditional little party with treats and silly games isn’t everyone’s style, however. Maybe you’re more of a beer and BBQ family, or maybe you just want the guys to have a chance celebrate too! Well then - a diaper party might be more your speed!

Whether you do a guys-only night, a family party in the backyard, or a luncheon at a restaurant, diaper parties are generally slightly more casual than a baby shower. Rather than ladies in nice outfits and finger sandwiches, this new tradition is either a mix of guys and gals, or just for the men. Without the pressure of a registry, the group can bring as little as a pack of diapers, and maybe a potluck item to share. You might even use it as a party for a second child, who doesn’t generally get a shower, but will certainly need diapers to get started.

If you’re considering hosting a diaper party for a friend, or organizing your own (instead of, or in conjunction with, a baby shower), here are 3 great ideas for throwing a fun, and diaper-filled event!

Gender Swap!

Also a great idea for gender reveal party (if you’re in to that kind of thing), a gender swap is great for any number of groups! Crazy aunts and uncles? Animated group of school friends? This could be fun night! Have small prizes for best couple, best female mustache, and most time spent upright in heels!

Diapers-for-Chips Poker Night!

Perfect for a guys-only, or maybe a drinking crowd, a diapers-for-chips is a fun way to spend a night. 1 box of diapers could equal $20 in chips, and stock the room with guacamole, pretzels and other cool snacks. The gambling is just for fun (showers always have games, don’t they?) and you get to have real conversations with the people celebrating your good news.

Baby, Baby Karaoke Party!

Great for a younger group, pull out Rock Band or a YouTube mix of “baby” themed music (read: almost any song ever written) and belt it out! Do your best boy band impression, and make it a fun little contest! Make a fun glittery mic, or have some hair brushes on hand to make it “authentic.”

Regardless of your setting, make sure you get a wide range of sizes! If people ask, give everyone a different number, or make fun invitations with a numbered sticker you can add. It might seem silly to have a stock of toddler sized diapers on hand before your baby is even born, but they sure are handy. You never know when they’re going to sprout, and one thing is for sure – they can only get bigger! If you’d rather use cloth than disposables, hey, you can have a party for that! Cute covers, liners, and other bum changing supplies are always appreciated!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Reading To a Child Who Hates Sitting Still

Recently, while I was describing our night time routine to another mother, she remarked on how lucky I am that my 11 month old will listen to a story or two every night. Her son, she informed me, was “not ready for that yet” because he hates to sit still. I must admit, I wanted to protest loudly that all children are ready for books – some just require a little more creative thinking when it comes to reading aloud. You can’t (or at least shouldn't) force a baby or toddler to sit and listen, but you can work books into your day in a way that helps them reap the benefits without having a meltdown.

Pick Books Based on Songs

Many of your child’s favourite songs have been made into colourfully illustrated books. These are great choices for the active tyke because they’re recognizable, upbeat, often require actions, and - most importantly - they’re fun. Set yourself up near your child and hold the book spread open so he can clearly see the pictures (like a librarian does) while you sing the book to him. Don’t worry if he doesn't always (or often) look up at the book. Some great examples include:

The Wheels on the Bus illustrated by Sylvie Wickstrom
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church
Old MacDonald had a Farm illustrated by Mandy Foot
If You're Happy and You Know It! illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner

Choose Interactive Books

If your child has a short attention span for text heavy stories, you’re not out of the game. Many books for children are interactive and require a different kind of focus. You can introduce your child to visually challenging books (like these best books), physical participation books, or you can read a book that requires verbal interaction. Not all reading looks the same, so try these books even if you have a quiet child who can sit and pay attention to a whole book. Reading is an adventure!

Visually Engaging Books

Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford
I Spy by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick

Physically Engaging

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Verbally Engaging

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Shout! Shout It Out! by Denise Fleming
Don't Push the Button by Bill Cotter

Read During Snack or Meal Time
As counter intuitive as it sounds, a distracted toddler is a great audience for a book. Some kids are just better listeners if their hands are busy. (Some adults are, too, like many knitters.) It’s not safe to allow a baby or toddler to eat and run around at the same time, so use the time they are safely buckled in to the high chair or sitting at the table to read to them. They may even start to equate delicious snacks with reading which is a bonus positive association. You can truly read any book at this point, but you can also match the book with the food if you’re feeling creative:

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McClosky
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

Build It into the Night Time Routine

Trying to read to a toddler in the middle of prime playing time can feel like hitting your head against a wall. If they’re all riled up and engrossed by their toys you’ll have little to no success pulling them away to do a quiet activity like reading. However, after a bath and a warm cup of milk, they just might feel more calm and in the mood for a story. Reading may appeal to them for no other reason than it gives them a few more minutes awake before lights out. Making a habit of reading before bed can work by giving them time to mentally prepare for reading since they know when time is set aside for that activity every night.

Don’t Read

If you get too caught up in reading a story from start to finish, you may end up just as frustrated as your child. You don’t want to lose all the positive associations with reading you’re trying to create by making story time stressful. So, if your child is resisting the read aloud, try ditching the words! Let them turn the pages as quickly or slowly as they want. Focus on the illustrations and build stories or poems of your own based on the pictures. It still counts because some of the many benefits of reading are exposure to new vocabulary and encouraging imagination. It can be as easy as:

Relating an image to your child’s own life –

“Look how the boy is wearing a red shirt. You wore a red shirt yesterday and we went to the grocery store. Maybe that’s where he’s headed – wouldn't that be a strange coincidence. Hopefully he doesn’t forget the milk like we did!”

“All the children in this picture are playing at the park. Remember the last time we went to the park. We had so much fun. What did we do when we were there? First we…”


Forming an activity based on the pictures –

“It looks like the dinosaur character keeps knocking down the block towers. That looks like fun. Can you build a block tower just like the one in the picture for us to knock down? Let’s sing London Bridge is Falling Down as we do it.”

“Ooooh, this looks like a book about farm animals. Here is a horse. A horse says ‘neigh, neigh!’ Can you go a grab a horse from your toy box and bring it back here?” (Also works with books about shapes, or colours, etc.)

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Halloween - Family Costumes

Seeing all the kids in great costumes is probably the best part about Halloween for me. I always look forward to the little action heroes, sparkly princesses, and all sorts of spooky monsters coming to my door for a treat. Last year I had the opportunity to dress up my own little boy for the first time for a playgroup party. It was a riot to see him and his baby friends in tiny animal outfits, too little to understand how adorable they were! At one point, the older kids had a parade and I watched my cousin and his family happily march around as a band of pirates! Their son had a cardboard ship and everything! I was impressed at their effort, and found myself thinking, what other great family outfits could you pull together? 

I'm sure there are hundreds of fantastic ideas online if you looked. From elaborate fabricated cosplay to handmade fun on the cheap, there’s an ensemble costume for any budget, but where do you start? Here are 3 ideas that are inexpensive and look fantastic as a group. 

The Wizard of Oz – Classic fantasy, with costume variation

The reason this works so well, is that everyone can have their own character, but it looks even better when you’re together. Finding a little lion costume isn't hard to do, but a sleeper and a felt lion mane would be easy to put together. Mom might like to be Dorothy, but it would be a little funnier if dad did it! Have a puppy at home? Bring Toto along! 

Other ideas in the same vein: Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars

The Addams Family – An Iconic family with a little macabre

There’s no better time of year to channel your inner Morticia than Halloween. Sweet and dark, the costumes are actually very simple pieces to pick up or make. Black dresses, black wigs, a little pale make up… a great way to be recognizably spooky. 

Other ideas in the same vein: the Munsters, the Simpsons as zombies

The Wiggles – Colourful, energetic, and kid friendly

On the other side of the spectrum, why not be super happy and dress up in all colours of the rainbow! A troupe of children’s performers, the Wiggles dance and sing, each in their own monochromatic jumpsuits! Any member of the family can be any colour they like – no worries about size or gender – any 3 or 4 will get your point across to your target audience. 

Other ideas in the same vein: Frozen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Silly or scary, funny or strikingly beautiful, costumes should be a fun way to express yourself creatively and try something new. Don’t over think the process; you’ll just end up stressed and unhappy. Let your kids be involved creatively and enjoy the time together. Oh, and take lots of pictures! Many years down the road, when your family is not so young, you can laugh at the memory and smile because it happened.

Monday, 12 October 2015

DIY - Scratch Pumpkin Tarts

I absolutely love to bake - when I'm in the mood. You see, baking is a commitment. A commitment of your time, a commitment to cleaning up the mess when you're done, and a serious commitment to keeping your little one away from the oven. Last year, to satisfy my need for pumpkin in a cost effective way, my little one and I made two ingredient pumpkin muffins. Of course, he was 6 months old at the time, so I pretty much just baby-wore and mixed. Those were the days... This year, since I offered to host my family for dinner, I decided to put in a little more effort. I love to roast squash for a delicious fall dinner, so I thought, making my own pumpkin purée couldn't be that hard.  I'll tell you, I was right. There were a lot of steps, but the results were fantastic!

I began roasting my pumpkin before I even had a recipe in mind. Risky, but I figured I knew what I was doing, and could use the 45 minutes to scour Pinterest for the rest of the process. I halved one sweet pie pumpkin, cleaned the inside, and placed them face down on a foil lined cookie sheet in the oven at 425F. 20 minutes in, I carefully turned the pumpkin halves on to their backs to finish the process. They turned out beautiful, and I let them cool a long time before handling them.

While the pumpkin cooled, I cleaned the pumpkin seeds I had harvested, drizzled them with a little olive oil and salt, then roasted them for about 12 minutes at the same heat. You have to watch them so that they don't over cook. Man, were they delicious. My family almost missed out on this side treat because I snacked on them all day as I cooked.

Once it has rested enough to peel, it separated so evenly, I was surprised. The flesh already smelled great, so I knew it was going to turn out really well. I mashed it lightly with a pastry cutting tool, then I followed the instructions for making the purée into filling.

I didn't have time (read: didn't want to bother) making my own crust, so instead I opted for frozen tart shells. They were really easy to use and are a good thing to keep on hand. The shell itself is unsweetened, so they could easily enough be turned in to quiche or pot pie shells for an easy mid-week meal. I will definitely look for these on sale again.

The recipe I ended up using was this one for Pumpkin Pie. It's pretty thorough, and I followed it relatively well... I have a bad habit of mixing things together before reading the order of operations - a dangerous game in the chemistry of baking - but it seemed to come together well and it was smelling fantastic. I poured it into the pre-baked tart shells, and cut the cooking time for a pie in half. They were set perfectly, and I let them cool on a wire rack while we ate dinner.

They came out looking amazing! I was really proud of myself. We whipped up some fresh whipped cream to serve on top, and I was thrilled with the results! I'm not sure I could taste a huge difference from canned, but they did taste incredibly fresh and delicious. It was a little more work than canned, sure, and took a little pre-planning. With the oven going all day, it didn't bother me in the slightest. Plus, it was only $1.25 for my pumpkin and the cans seem to sell for around $3 - not to mention they are oft sold out at this time of year! I declare it a baking victory!

How did your Thanksgiving meal go? Any successes? Major failures? 
Tell us about it on Facebook!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Mommy Money Matters - Halloween Budget

The costs of Halloween seem to rise each year. Your schedule is full and time is short, so it’s all too easy to grab a box of Snickers and a superhero on a hanger at the local big box store. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that! They make some pretty cute costumes for kids, and those little chocolates can miraculously fall in to your lunch bag leading up to the holiday – for quality control, of course. The big box route has one major down-fall. The price! Costumes are $20 before makeup or accessories, and a small box of treats is outrageous! With over 2 weeks to go, you might just find enough time to do things a little more cost effectively. You could make a costume (see our great list of ideas from last year), or for those not feeling particularly crafty, try one of these money saving techniques!

Costume Swap!

Buying, selling, and trading used costumes is a great way to get some extra use out of something that would otherwise see only hours! They are generally still in excellent condition, and sell for a fraction of that “hanger” price. We bought my son’s amazing shark costume from a mom in a local Facebook group for only $5! We can add face paint, Vaseline for a water effect, and some cute tights very inexpensively! Stores like Once Upon A Child will have racks of excellent used costumes as well this time of year, if your little one is old enough to be picky. Beware of stores like Value Village – this is their black season. They make more money at this time of year than the rest of the year combined. The store will be busy, new items will be mixed in with old, and there will be lots of impulse items to beef up your bill.

Boo-tiful Decorations!

The growing Christmas tradition of large inflated lawn ornaments has decided to spill over to Halloween for some reason. I love seeing house that really get into the spirit, but this trend seems very odd to me. Unlike its wintery cousin, Halloween is full of mischief. It’s bad enough to have a lovingly carved jack-o-lantern smashed, or have to clean off egg residue, never mind mourn the loss of an expensive piece of seasonal decoration! For me, I’ll stick to the classics. A pumpkin or two, and maybe some interesting gourds, always look nice on a doorstep or balcony display. For fun with the kids, hang cheese cloth over a Styrofoam cup and suspend for a fantastic ghostly effect! Make collages of coloured leaves, or make fun pumpkin cut outs. They will look far better than anything you can buy at the store and the kids will be so proud!

Candy Counting!

Those perfectly boxed Halloween size treats are cute, but have you ever thought about how much they cost? Boxes of 50 are commonly priced at $9.99. That’s $.50 a piece! If you’ve got a large number of kids coming, or want to snack while you hand out (who doesn’t), that’s a scary looking Halloween bowl! Bulk stores have lots of individually wrapped goodies for so much less. Chocolates wrapped in eyeball foil, marshmallow ghosts, or chewy toffees are a hit! For a food-free treat, try your local dollar store. They have party packs of 6-10 toys for a dollar, ensuring your money goes a lot further, and everyone can enjoy!

One final note on treats - it might be very tempting to bake a cute little treat and wrap it up nicely, but my suggestion is not to. Even in my safe little community, people are very skeptical of handmade snacks, and the vast majority of them would not be enjoyed. Even sending treats to school merits at least a call ahead. You’ll want to know numbers, peanut-free regulations, and how best to transport your kind gesture so that it doesn’t go to waste! Bake for your family, or even your workplace, but go store bought for trick-or-treaters.

How do you save money on commercially-driven holidays? Have you got any spooky and savvy tips? Tell us about them on Facebook!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Guest Feature - Preschool Friendly Halloween!

Today's guest blogger knows a thing or two about fun with kids! A mom of three and an entrepreneur, Courtney has built her career on children's programming and entertainment. Who better to give us the low down on creative ways to spend a spook-tacular day with your kiddies that isn't all about candy!

Halloween is coming up and it is one of my favourite times of year. I love the décor, the costumes, and the excitement, but how do you make Halloween special for kids when you do not want to be all about the candy? I find for my family I make each part of Halloween important, not just the day itself.

1) Pumpkin and Jack-o-lantern

It starts from taking the time to pick a pumpkin, this does not mean you have to spend $20 on a pumpkin from a farm but I let my kids look, feel and choose their own pumpkins. I let each kid draw a picture of how they want their jack-o-lanterns to look. Last year we decided we were going to be creative and paint our pumpkins to look like Ninja turtles. I have to admit they looked nothing like Ninja turtles but my kids had an amazing time. I encourage my kids to get right into the pumpkin and take out the gut. We love making toasted pumpkin seeds and add popcorn seasoning to them.

2) The Décor

We are big believers in decorating for Halloween. We will spend a whole evening putting everything up and decorating the front windows and the front of the house. We like to make our own decorations as well as buying some (cheap usually from the dollar store). Each year the kids get to choose their own decorations and where they want to put it. As well as making some décor we like to create some Halloween crafts that we can use as décor. I love the handprint crafts either a handprint spider or handprint bat are fun ones!

Even if you do not think you are very crafty here is a great blog for some easy DIY décor that won’t break the bank either.

3) Halloween Snacks

It is hard to find but can be done, here are some great Halloween snacks you can make that are not full of sugar and sweets. Banana ghosts and pumpkin oranges.

4) Halloween Songs

I have a few songs that I have turned into Halloween songs that are fun ones to sing with the kids this time of year.

Ghosts Go Marching (tune Ants go marching)
Itsy Bitsy Spider
5 Little Pumpkins sitting on a face
1,2,3 Little Witches (tune 1,2,3 Little Indians)
5 Little Monsters or Werewolves (tune 5 Little Monkeys)

Here are some of my favourite Halloween songs


My very favourite part is the researching, deciding and creating of the costume. We love to make out own costumes in our family but sometimes it is just easier to buy one. Once again let your children take the time to look up some costume ideas online before they make the big decision and don’t get top frustrated if they change their mind (a few times). A few years ago we made bus costumes from cardboard boxes. It took a lot of effort but we worth it in the end.

Of course sometimes we do not have the time or money to create or buy the perfect costume but here are some easy last minute costumes that can be put together from items from home.

6) The Treats

Now every kid is going to want to go trick or treating and even though you may not want then to have the candy maybe there are ways to get around it. I know one family who has a son with diabetes so they buy his candy back from him. He has to put together their candy, create a bill and do the math. I know another family who switches the candy for stickers or small toys. I know my guys love handing out candy and we like to play games when the kids come to the door and who has the best costumes win special bonus candy prizes.
If your little one suffers from food allergies, or you would just rather focus on non-candy treats, check out our article about the Teal Pumpkin Campaign here! There are plenty of great seasonal gifts you can hand out that will be fun for any costumed kiddo!

7) The Tricks
If you have a little time why not create a fun sensory game with items in a container, then tell a story and have your child place their hands and feel the items.
Worms – Spaghetti
Monster brains – jello
Cotton – spider webs

Great tips! There are lots of ways to get into the spirit of any holiday with your kids, but the daily grind can be a little lonely. Mommy groups are a great way to interact with other moms and kids in your area! Interested in learning more about Courtney and her programming? Click here for information!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Mommy Musing - Mom Guilt

I think it’s common for women to take on more than they can sometimes handle. We’re emotional people, we’re givers, and we stress about things that are well beyond our control. I can remember many nights, starting in my teens, when I would lay awake running over and over again in my mind the things I had to do the next day, dumb things I had said, and all of the ways I could improve tomorrow. I worry less about dumb things I say now, but the "to do” list and things to worry about in general has only grown since becoming a mom early 2014. Whether it’s a biological response, for evolutionary purposes, or just the lack of sleep and wacky hormones, guilt seems to compound.

Take coffee for example. I am a great lover of coffee for the rich taste and the wake-upping properties, but coffee is a major source of unnecessary and poisonous guilt for me. Before my son, justifying a trip to Tim Horton’s was hardly necessary. It was practically a hobby of mine, and I had a “Cheers” affect at my local store. Now, even though I’m back to work, and I sometimes skip breakfast to save time in the morning, I have a huge problem allowing myself to spend $5 before 9am. I’ll wrinkle my face, frustrated with myself, and end up having rushed instant oatmeal and coffee in the break room instead. Even a coffee at home is guilt inducing! I’m either mad that I’m sipping something at a safe distance rather than playing, or if I indulge while my son naps, I feel pangs at knowing I could be doing laundry or vacuuming!

As if trivial concern like coffee wasn’t bad enough, a mom carries the major weight of what I will call the First Five burden. We are constantly reminded of how critical the first 5 years of a child’s life are in terms of their development. It makes you feel that, in addition to love and patience, you are running a home-school and laboratory. Did you read enough? Did she eat enough produce? Does he have enough stimulation? No screen time before 2 years. Are they hitting their milestones? YIKES! It’s incredibly hard to strike a balance of quality time, and wondering if you’re encouraging vocabulary and independence! Not that it gets any easier when they are at school or daycare. Did I pack enough? Is he making friends? Did she get enough sleep? The list goes on and on.

Then there’s everyone else in your life… I knew that motherhood would start to bring some people in, and push others out, but I couldn’t have foreseen the extent. You bond with your family in new ways, and value get-togethers in a way you couldn’t appreciate before. Last Christmas was amazing to watch my son and my niece, playing with my youngest sister – someone I still view as a child at 25. It’s hard to separate this “family” element from the coupledom you had before kids. You long to spend quality time with your spouse, but you also feel guilty getting a sitter. How dare you have a date night every three months, maybe? Even if you do get out, you wonder how they are doing the whole time.

Then there are friends, and this is the hardest part. They take a back seat to fevers and teething and soccer practice. Friends with kids get it, they are the same way, and your friendship is strengthened by this mutual flakiness and exhaustion. They become more like army buddies, stationed at another military basis. Your correspondence is shared joys and commiseration over “phases.” Friends without kids, well, different story. You feel guilty for backing out again and again, but then you feel guilty for drinking wine while your toddler sleeps upstairs.

While I usually include tips or solutions in my posts, this is the one subject on which I'm at a loss. I've always had guilt, and I probably always will. It's part of my constitution. I know it can be emotionally draining, but it also drives me to improve. All I can do is recognize my humanity and try not to be so hard on myself on days that the guilt buildings up too much. I hope you can take a deep breath and do the same.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Special Report - The Teal Pumpkin Project

Allergies seem to be more prevalent in our society than ever before. While it was common lunchbox fare to have an old fashioned PB&J in the 80’s, now most public schools are peanut-free. The severity of some of these reactions can be fatal, and though we’ve lost a little convenience with the lack of peanut options, the trade off is the security for those poor parents, fearing for their child’s life. This worry really hit home this year with the discovery of my young niece’s allergy to peanuts. It was severe enough to go to the hospital, and to leave us all a little shaken. 

If your child or someone you know suffers from nut, dairy, gluten, or other food allergy, you understand the hesitation that comes with the Halloween loot bag. You have to mercilessly hunt through the content, concerned not just for safety, but now also through an uncertain ingredients list. It might be difficult for younger children to understand why they can’t eat what their friends can, or to sadly watch as their hard-earn loot slowly dwindles to the ones known to be safe – if any. 

Enter FARE –Food Allergy Research & Education. Their website explains:

In 2012, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) was formed as the result of a merger between the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI). The new organization combined FAAN’s expertise as the most trusted source of food allergy information, programs and resources with FAI’s leadership as the world’s largest private source of funding for food allergy research. Today, FARE is the leading national organization working on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergy, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis. 

Since the 90’s these two organizations have been working towards awareness and funding to educate the public about food allergies. They have put in place conferences and media campaigns to inform concerned parents and educators of initiatives and support programs. Their latest, starting just last year, is an attempt to take some of that fear and disappointment out of trick-or-treating. 

Participation is simple – parents simply create a bowl of non-food options for those kids who can’t eat the vast majority of treats marketed to Halloween shoppers. They even have a list of fantastic non-food treats available on their website. Here's just a small sample of the seasonal items they suggest:

  • Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
Halloween should be fun for so many more reasons than chocolates and candies. There is the fun of costumes, themed crafts and games, and so much more. We will be providing lots of ideas for the coming weeks, but don't forget the main event. Make someone's night by offering a bowl of fun, worry-free items. For more information about this initiative, or to order some of their material, like a pre-made, non-food treat goodie bag, check them out here.