Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Life with TWO parasites

So this life with two small children... It's busy. Like really busy. But busy in SUCH a good way... most of the time. The Husband and I sometimes wonder if we're dreaming, like this is too good to be true. Apparently that's common for people who have been through infertility and pregnancy loss. Every so often I let myself think that Z started off as a pair of twins and I get a little sad, but then I push those thoughts aside because we have two beautiful children and that's just the size our family was meant to be.

M is days away from her 5th birthday and her sass gives me a run for my money every single day. So far this year, she has been to Disney World and Disney on Ice and gone on a maple sugar tour and on her first trip to the theatre for another little friend's birthday. She's into art and music and is turning into quite the little gymnast. She conquered Space Mountain, and will not hesitate to hell you her first real, grown-up roller coaster was "AWESOME!" She is fearless, that little girl of mine.

Little Cat Z is 10 months old and getting to be more fun every day. This is the happiest baby on earth. His giggles brighten my day, and he has taken to sleeping in late enough that I need to wake him up to keep to our daily routine. On the days he has been dragged out of bed, he spends that first half hour quiet and extra cuddly. It's the very best way to start the day. Otherwise he is a mad man, a speed demon crawler, pulling up to stand at every piece of furniture in the house. Walking cannot be far behind.

You know, neither one of us wanted kids when we first met. I guess we had just never met someone we wanted to have kids with. I'm so glad we both changed our minds!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Vicks Starry Night Humidifier #ProductReview

Hey, my calendar says SPRING starts this week! So... Why does my backyard still look like a frozen wasteland? Seriously, LOOK AT IT! When I was asked to review the Vicks Starry Night Cool Moisture Humidifier, I thought the cold & flu season might have run its course in my house. Luckily (?) I was wrong! Before I tell you about my experience, here are some fun facts:

New Health Survey of Canadians – A new survey of approximately 750 Canadians (random sampling of male & female reflective of Canada’s demographics) was conducted by the makers of Honeywell Air Purifiers and Vicks Humidifiers & Thermometers.  Below are some of the interesting findings:

  • Nearly half (43%) of Canadians suffer from airborne allergies, and in almost a quarter (22%) of homes at least two people are allergy-sufferers.
  • The majority of Canadians (69%) estimate that having a sick child costs over C$20 a day, and 18% estimate that it costs over C$100!
  • Most respondents (64%) indicated that fever scares them, and 70% of parents call the Healthline or doctor at least sometimes when their child is sick.

 Dr. Dave Greenberg offers these tips about cold and flu:

  • Flu Facts - When homes are kept at the optimal 40-60 percent relative indoor humidity level, flu virus survival in the air can be dramatically decreased - by up to 30%.  Homes with radiant heat see a bigger decrease in flu virus survival when using a humidifier compared to homes with forced air heat.
  • Time to Recover - They might be running around the house, feeling healthy but it’s important to keep kids home from school, play dates, and after school activities for at least 24 hours after their fever breaks.
  • Prevent & Protect - Many people say the best way protect yourself and your family from the flu is with the vaccine. It takes about two weeks for your body to develop protective antibodies, so the sooner you get vaccinated the better.
It turns out M was the first to need the Vicks Starry Night Cool Moisture Humidifier. I mean, getting sick sucks when you're nearly five, but having an awesome light show softens the blow, right?

The Good: This thing is quiet. Like less than a whisper, good thing it has a light on it because otherwise I wouldn't be sure it was on kind of quiet. It releases an invisible vapour, which keeps little hands away from temptation. The starry night display is really cute and made being sick a little less unfortunate.

The Things I Would Change if I Could: The light show is great, really cute. And very entertaining. So entertaining, in fact, that I think it may have disrupted sleep a little. I would LOVE to see a timer in the next iteration. There is a filter in the humidifier that filters out impurities, but needs to be replaced periodically. Maybe it's my own lack of organization, but I can see that being a problem down the road. "Uh-oh, she needs the humidifier tonight! Ah, crap. The filter is crusty!" A reusable version that could be cleaned would be awesome.

Overall, I think it's great and the quiet operation is enough of a boon to make put it in the recommend category. Want one of your own? Here's what the manufacturer has to say: "The new Vicks Starry Night Humidifier releases cool moisture into the air, providing temporary relief from dry air discomforts. A cool mist humidifier helps keep air at a comfortable humidity to help relieve nasal and chest congestion. Available at London Drugs, Wal-Mart, Loblaw, Toys R Us, Target & Rexall. SRP of $59.99"

Or, better yet, ENTER TO WIN The Mommy Knows Best Prize Pack, valued at over $350.

Disclosure: I received a Vicks Starry Night Humidifier from Vicks & Braun for review purposes, but no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

We experienced a #MapleSugarRush with @ExploreWR and you should too! #DiscoverOntario

Photo by @zamlos
Used with permission from The Curious Creature
Pancakes are a pretty big deal around here on weekends, mostly because they are the perfect vessel for copious amounts of maple syrup. When we were asked to take part in a family bloggers trip to explore the Waterloo Region, we jumped at the chance. What a great day for all of us! 

The Maple Sugar Bush

It started with a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the Maple SugarBush at Martin's Farm with our equine companions, Duke and Mikki.

Mmmmm... Maple toffee on snow!
I'm a little ashamed to admit that despite living my whole life about an hour away from the Waterloo Region I have just never gotten around to doing a tour to see how maple syrup is made. I know, how dreadfully un-Canadian of me! Thankfully, I have rectified this for my own kids, though granted a little too early for Little Cat Z to have much recollection of it. That's OK, now that I'm reminded just how close to home it is and how much fun can be had, we can make this trip an annual event for his benefit. Also, it turns out I'm a "medium" maple syrup kind of gal, but I could be talked into an amber if the pancake is right.

After a break for some maple toffee on snow and hot apple cider to warm us up, we headed off to the St.Jacobs Farmers Market for a tasty lunch. The Husband highly recommends Grandpa’s Soft Pretzels, and this is not a man whose recommendations should be taken lightly, particularly not when it comes to baked goods.

The Village of St. Jacobs

Child provided for scale
St. Jacobs is so quaint, one might think time forgot it. This is probably due to the large local Mennonite population, a group we learned more about from TheMennonite Story at the St. Jacobs Visitor Center. M is a bit too young to "get it" but The Husband and I found it very interesting. The next stop, however, was a little kids dream. You’ll have to see the St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle ModelRailway to believe it. Model building isn't a hobby I could ever take up with any success because of skills required. Like patience, of which I have none. But when people who love it get together to build something like this, the results are spectacular. Another highlight of the day was sampling craft beers at Block Three Brewing.

The Maple Sugar Rush experience was a great way to spend a day with the littles. It's amazing to think about just how much there is to see and do just a short drive away from home. Family Day is coming up and it’s only an hour away. Better still, make a mid-week adventure during March Break. I'm not into crowds so I really enjoyed the weekday adventure, but if you don’t mind being one of the masses and you're really into your maple syrup, go check out the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival this spring.

Disclosure: We received complimentary meals and admission to attractions from the Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation as part of this blogger tour for review purposes, but otherwise no compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Have your second kid first: Nap time!

I was completely neurotic about M's nap schedule. Seriously, a total lunatic. I was actually afraid that her brain development would be in peril if she napped poorly for a few days. She's brilliant now and capable of outsmarting me most of the time, so in hindsight perhaps I should have let her skip a nap or two. You know that person who tells you their baby was sleeping through the night at three months old and took 2+ hour naps so they could get stuff done around the house? And you have to work hard to restrain yourself from punching them or at least telling them to shut the fuck up?

Hi! That was me! Naturally, I attributed her fantastic sleep habits to my superior parenting. Naturally, I was wrong. All luck, no skill.

Little Cat Z? Well, he's just not the sleeper his sister was. He's six months old and he has slept through the night five times. Don't even get me started his nap "schedule" because I will laugh in your face. If I don't punch you first. More often than I care to admit his naps are passing out for a little while in the stroller or the Ergo as he's carted off to one of his sister's activities.

You know what? The kid is fine. He's alert and active and quite possibly the happiest baby I have ever seen. The smiles are blinding. If a nap is cut short because we have to pick M up from school or leave for ballet (or gymnastics or swimming or Tiny Tots at the museum) he just catches up at the next one. That stress, that worrying, that pulling out of the hair was for naught.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Guest Post: Snow Day Games and Gingerbread #FAIL

Gingerbread #FAIL
My life on maternity leave is different this time around. Instead of navel gazing and naps, I'm trying desperately to keep M amused so Little Cat Z can nap at times other than on the way to her extracurricular activities. Now the snow has fallen and getting to anywhere we need to be has added a whole new layer to the... fun!

When I was asked if I'd be willing to share games for small children on snow days, my answer was yes, OMG please YES, tell me what I can do with this kid that doesn't involve TV or gingerbread houses. Because clearly we're not very good at construction projects involving baked goods and icing as a binding agent.

Without further ado, I give you... Games for kids to play during a snow day!

Now that we are edging into the winter, plenty of people can expect snow if they haven’t had it yet. Even if there is a snow day, it doesn’t mean your kids have to spend the day lounging around and watching TV. Here are a few ideas to get your kids outside and active in the snow. After a snow day full of these activities, they should be ready to come inside sip on a cup full of hot chocolate, bundle up into a warm and cozy pair of fun kids pajamas and drift off to sleep.

1. Snow Spray Painting OK, maybe it isn’t real spray paint, but your kids will still get to make some “snow-fiti.” This activity is great because it lets kids exercise their creativity while keeping them outside. To get started gather some empty spray bottles and fill each of them with a mix of food colouring and water. Then just shake it up, and let your kids spray it on the bright white snow outside. They can spray it in the shapes of their favourite characters, write their names, or if they are feeling extra creative, make stencils out of cardboard to cover the winter wonderland with their art.

2. Snowcastles Christmas in July? How about the opposite? Next time there is pack snow, your kids can bring shovels, buckets and other sand castle tools to have some fun in the sun – err -- snow. The kids can scoop up the snow in the buckets and sand castle toys to build the ultimate winter fortress. If the snow is deep enough, making moats should be a breeze with their sand shovels. After they get tired of constructing, they could even pit their castles against each other to see which one can withstand the most cannon “snowballs” without collapsing.

3. Frozen bubbles Do your kids have some left over bubble solution from the summer? Now is the time to use it. If it’s very cold outside, they may be able to blow a bubble the normal way, and watch it freeze in mid-air. If it just a little below freezing, your kids will probably need to blow the bubble, and then catch it on the bubble wand to watch it freeze. As the bubble freezes, they should see a network of icy crystals form over the surface. If they want to make it even more exciting, ask them to try popping a frozen bubble!

Snow days don’t mean you can’t get your kids outside and active. With these fun activities for kids to do in the snow, you can have them outside creating works of art, blowing frozen bubbles, and even creating snowcastles. After a long day of this, they can come back inside, and slip into some cozy kids footed pajamas before they head up to bed to dream about all the fun they had!

I received no compensation for this post, nor do I receive commission on any sales made by clicking on these links. Any opinions expressed are my own.