Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Been Around The Block

French fries. Television. Large chunks of food. What do these things have in common? These are things I would have NEVER imagined letting baby #1 experience. But, guess what? I'm more relaxed with baby #2 and, at 14 months of age, he enjoys them.

Now, before you pass judgment and give me dirty looks, I want to clarify something – I’m a good mom. Not perfect (by far!), but good. I do not give my kids french fries on a regular basis, only occasionally. And, as far as television is concerned…well, it’s easy (they love Dora & Diego!) and it keeps the kids occupied at the end of the day while I get some work done or make dinner. Giving baby large chunks of food, on the other hand, was a tough decision. I have a real fear of my kids choking, so that was a big one to be able to let go of.  I do the best I can and am getting better each day at realizing that it’s okay to be imperfect.

One upside to this whole thing is that baby #2 is so independent, even at such a young age. My goodness, he feeds himself already (and has done so for the past month). The food actually makes it into his mouth! Yeah, I’m shocked, too! ;)

Why, just yesterday I took a few pictures (for posterity) of him playing nicely by himself with his toys. He was occupying himself…didn’t need me…and I couldn’t have been more proud.

With all the talk about Helicopter Parenting and the like, it’s great to know that my “imperfections” as a parent may just be helping my kids.  And, hey, did you know that lemurs come from Madagascar? I didn’t either... until my daughter told me. She learned it from watching Go, Diego, Go.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

“Sign” Of The Times?

I was taking my little guy for a stroll one day, when I noticed something in the window of a local pub. Upon closer inspection I saw that it was, basically, a cease-and-desist order for children.  Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but you get what I mean. This is a pub, not a four-star restaurant. (Love the irony – it's called a “Public House”, but half the public isn’t allowed!)

What's the definition of a "well behaved" child, anyway?
Their version of good behaviour may not be the same as mine.

Then, today I came across a blog post entitled, “Hate Kids? Then the brat is you”. Naturally, I was intrigued! The author, Joyce Slaton, goes on to discuss her thoughts on why there is an abundance of (perceived) vitriol for kids these days. I think it’s a well-written, considerate article. But, some don’t agree with the author at all, as is evidenced by the plethora of comments on the article (94 at time of writing this).

The thing about this issue is that there will never be a “right” answer… only opinions from people who look at it through the context of very different life experiences. As a mother, I don’t expect a childless person to understand what it’s like to feel unwelcome or shunned from certain places because you’ve got kids. It’s hard to know what that’s like unless you’ve experienced it first-hand. It’s not fun, and it’s not fair – even if the establishment has a right to ban kids...or strike fear into the hearts of parents thinking of bringing them (and certainly not their strollers! LOL).

As parents, all we can ask for is some empathy when our kids act up. Even the best of days can turn into challenging parenting adventures (how’s that for positivity!), when a seemingly happy toddler spontaneously melts down.

I have an idea - let’s all use common sense, put ourselves in each others’ shoes and see how far that gets us. Maybe then there won’t be a need for that crazy sign. :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Modern Storytelling

You know those rare occasions when you stumble upon something so cool, so inventive & so fun that you just can’t keep it a secret? And, when it’s also educational and FREE… well, my dear, you’ve got a winner!!

I had one of those moments recently when I came upon an email a good friend sent me some time ago, suggesting I check out a story-crafting website. It’s a wonderful concept, and I wish I had checked it out sooner - but sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day. :)

So, when I finally did check it out, I was completely astonished at how brilliant it was!

The website is, and it is nothing short of awesome! It offers so many different avenues for kids to explore their imaginations – and is beautiful, to boot! Not only can you send a story to someone (great for grandparents), but you and the special kid(s) in your life can craft a story together – even if you’re miles apart! It’s a great way to engage with them in a collaborative, fun way that also builds great memories and reading skills.

With Storybird the possibilities are endless! So, go online and start making a memory with your favorite kid.  :)

Also check out Storybird’s blog and follow them on Twitter (@storybird).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting Their 5-10 A Day

Some days it seems like my kids will only eat bread, pasta and crackers. Other days my kids want meat, little carnivores that they are! To be fair, my kids love certain fruits and vegetables... but I keep thinking about the other amazing vitamins and minerals they're missing out on because they refuse to eat (or even try) the rest of the food I offer them.

While I'll admit that I could've been a bit more adventurous with the foods I offered my older child in her early years, one habit I'm glad we got into was making smoothies. On those days when it seems I will never get more than one or two fruits or veggies into my little ones' tummies, I can always count on a smoothie to do the job for me. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it!  They are delicious, and despite the fact that there is a large handful of baby spinach in each one, my kids eat 'em up! My daughter even helps make them and thinks it's fun.

Smoothies make a great breakfast on-the-go and are fabulous at snack time. With the hot summer weather, they are very refreshing, too!


Recipe for kid-approved smoothies:

plain yogurt
frozen blueberries (I like wild ones best... small and sweet!)
frozen raspberries
frozen strawberries
handful of baby spinach (I buy the triple-washed, ready-to-go kind)
orange juice

*We make ours using the Magic Bullet because it's fast and easy, but you can do this in any regular blender, too. If using the Magic Bullet, put the ingredients into the cup in the order stated... for some reason it turns out best this way (we've tested it out a LOT!).

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Right Kind of Beauty

Lately I've been hearing a lot about kids' self-esteem and what we as parents can do to foster a healthy sense of self in our little ones. This topic is on my radar because I have a 4-year-old who loves princesses and has a great imagination. Whether she's dressing up as her favourite fairytale character or entertaining us with her rendition of Cinderella dancing at the ball, her idea of beauty is being shaped as we speak.

While I have nothing against playing princess (I loved to do that as a kid, too!), I realize how vital my role is in influencing her views on beauty and self-worth while she's still young. So, I've made a real effort to not stress outward beauty when complimenting my daughter. She's strong, smart, brave, helpful, kind, loving and a whole lot of other adjectives! And, when someone else pays her a compliment about her outward appearance, I try to talk with her afterward about how a person’s real beauty comes from inside. I remind her that if you're not a good person on the inside, your true beauty can't show on the outside. We put emphasis more on having a "beautiful heart" than external beauty.

Now, I’m not completely na├»ve in thinking I can shield her from superficial comments about her looks. But, I can do my best to instill in her the knowledge that, despite her lovely exterior, it's the stuff inside that counts - all of the wonderful traits that make her unique. And, I think it's sinking in because when I read the Mother's Day card she made me at pre-school, one of the fill-in-the-blank comments was "Why I love my Mom".  Her answer? "Because she's got a beautiful heart."  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Most Important Job

Right now, I’m trying to get work done…but I’m just a little distracted. You see, someone decided to wake early from his nap and now I’m being coerced to play by a little crawling munchkin who alternates between climbing my leg and leaning in to plant sweet baby kisses on me. What’s a mom to do? :)

I could tell you this is a situation that is leaving me feeling torn, but that would be a lie. Truth is, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than playing and cuddling with my baby. I want to savour this time with my son, because he won't stay this little forever and I’ll never get these spontaneous moments back again. 

It’s times like this when it really hits home just how much our kids rely on us; it’s up to us to ensure their happiness, security and well-being. The weight of that knowledge is tremendous, but the pride I feel in having such an awesome responsibility overrides everything else. This is the most important job I’ll ever do. Period.

So, yes, work is important; I won’t deny that. But sometimes you’ve just got to go with your gut and do what it tells you. And, at this moment, it’s telling me that my little guy needs his mama – and I’m happy to oblige.