Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Where did Summer go? | #kindermom

As a child I remember time passing so slowly. The time between birthdays and holiday's felt literally like forever. As I've aged and become a mother, time has begun to move at a speed I didn't think was possible. There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do; to excel in my job, to be a kind and compassionate mother and to be a loving and considerate wife.

Even though I can't be everything at once, I can be something in every moment.

And one of my favourite things about being a #kindermom is that Kinder Canada encourages us to celebrate playtime and all the amazing moments that make our lives unique and special.

This Summer has been a whirlwind of activity, of exploration, friendship and excitement. Although we have watched movies and played video games, we have spent so much time outside together, living THE dream.

We have explored a few of the many lakes near our new home. The boys LOVE to create 'rivers' along the shores, build dams made of rocks and sticks and then watch as the water flows back to the lake when they open the floodgates.

I loved paddling around the lake in our friends Kayak with Simba along for the ride and the hubs has been working away (with Simba's help) to sand, paint and prepare our new (old) boat so that we can enjoy time on the water as a family.

We went on treasure hunts in crown land (ie. Geocaching), attended a 'Learn to Fish' event, made a waterslide in the backyard, went to Lake Country to visit friends, welcomed a rescue dog into the family and visited my grandmother's farm nearly every time we visited Vancouver.

No wonder the time went fast, we were busy.

Are you looking for a way to capture some of your summer memories? I used the new Kinder 'photo-strip' app to create the photo strip in this post.  

Want to create your own? It's easy, just follow the instructions below:

Step 2: Start your photo-strip
Step 3: Upload your photos
Step 4: Choose a fancy KINDER® frame
Step 5: Choose a filter (make yourself look silly)
Step 6: Save & share

What was your big adventure this summer?
Personally, if I had to sum up Summer 2014 in a word, I'd go with 'exploration'.
So far 2014 has been one heck of a year and I can't wait to see what new adventures the last few months will bring.

Disclosure: I’m part of theKinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation withthis group.  The opinions on this blog are my own”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Our Country Summer | #KinderMom

My most vivid childhood memories are of summer; sitting on the fence eating raspberries, the juice dripping down our faces, splashing in the backyard pool, jumping ditches, catching frogs and of course laying in the grass reading book and after book.

Now that we've moved away from our urban existence, I look forward to sharing a summer of discovery with my boys. I hope that this summer will be filled with laughter, joy and exploration and that the draw of the great outdoors will far outweigh the mind numbing stimulation of television and video games.

Our home backs onto a small green belt that we've dubbed the 'Secret Forest'; there's a small clearing that is just perfect for hide and seek and deer sightings are a regular occurrence. Five year old Bolt and I recently went on a 2 hour adventure and although we never reached our destination or found our geocache, it was one of the best afternoon's we've ever shared. I love nature and I hope that this first summer in the Highland Valley will instill in my boys the same awe in nature that is truly defines me.

 I want this summer will be about resetting our balance, finding our peace, playing in our pyjamas, splashing in lakes, discovering new adventures and meeting new friends. And of course, this #Kindermom has a few peanut-free Kinder Surprise Eggs stashed away to share with our friends on our summertime picnics!

And we can't wait for all our friends and family from Vancouver come visit us here at our new Country House. We just returned from a week long visit on the coast and as lovely as it was to be close to our people, we were all eager to return to a place, that has so quickly become home.

What are your plans (and hopes) for this summer? 

Disclosure: I'm part of the Kinder Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Letter To My Very Special Friends

True friendship is sacred, something to be valued among the ranks of family; it's honest, it's real and it's authentic. Friends are the only family you get to choose in life and believe me, I choose wisely. I put a lot of energy into my people, so much in fact that I've been described as coming off as snobby simply because I appear so engaged in the people around me. But the truth is, when I'm around my true friends,their presence is simply enough.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this means I have a handful of people that mean the world to me, and lately, I've been missing them. So, I offer this letter.

To my very special friends,
I confess, I haven't been very good at keeping in touch; social media is no substitute for a phone call or even a text. For that, I am sorry. 
I keep imagining myself as a little girl, shaking a snow globe just to watch the transformation from complete chaos to a peaceful, perfect moment. Our snow is finally subsiding and the calm is creeping in between the floorboards and windows. 
And as we settle, I miss you. 
It's hard to make friends as adults, though not impossible, but new friends are different; the friendships we have last years, decades, lifetimes even, if we are lucky. 
And so as we've navigated our new home, our new life, our new everything, you may have slid out of plain sight, but I promise, its just temporary. My mom taught me that the best friends are the friends that feel like you saw them yesterday, even though in reality its been ages. 
And, I really wish we could share that feeling today, or tomorrow, or at least sometime soon. 
But it seems unlikely. I didn't even call you, even though I was thinking of you.
All of you.  
I guess that's why I wrote it here. 
And you know what the very best thing is about friends like you?
I know you get it. 
I love you.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Give a Cluck and Go Cage-Free!

When we first started talking about moving out of the City, the hubs and I had visions of a small acreage, a huge vegetable garden, fruit trees and so much space our boys wouldn’t know what to do with themselves.

When we started looking at real estate however, we realized we needed to put some of those dreams on hold, not let them go per say, but consider whether the timing was right. Of critical note is that I’m working on a contract which means there is a very real chance we could end up moving back to the city within a few years. The market in our area isn’t booming to say the least, so the possibility of being unable to buy in the City because we can’t sell our home in the Country landed us in a more suburban part of our 2,300 person town.

Despite our location, I knew we could still have many of the experiences we desired, just on a smaller scale.

In particular, I had my heart set on Chickens, laying hens to be exact. The idea that my kids could be connected with where their food comes from and that we could have feathered friends lounging in our yard and laying us delicious eggs seemed amazing. I scouted the local bylaws, searched and researched chicken coops, chicken breeds and of course what exactly commercial egg laying facilities look like. 

Many of those poor chickens spend their lives in small cages, shared with five or six other birds.  Many never feeling the ground beneath their feet, spread their wings or experience fresh air and sunlight. These intelligent, social animals become valuable only for their ability to produce eggs.

Unfortunately, although we both had dreams of an acreage type property, it quickly became clear that the hubs and I had differing opinions when it came to the idea of keeping chickens in our backyard. I’m not giving up on the idea just yet, but I’m also not pushing it, this year we have a yard to personalize and a garden to grow but we also have eggs to eat and in truth this whole experience has made me reconsider my grocery store choices when it comes to buying eggs.

Choose Cage-Free is an initiative by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to empower individuals to commit to buying cage-free eggs and working with farmers and businesses to adopt cage-free practices.

So what’s so great about cage-free farms?

On a cage-free farm hens can live a far more natural existence.  They can walk and run, stretch their wings, turn around, give themselves  dust baths, forage and peck on the ground. Cage-free hens are happier and healthier and have a much lower risk of Samonella contamination.

In our house, eggs are a staple; we easily eat two dozen a week and Simba and I eat them for breakfast almost every day.

Currently my favourite way to start the morning is with a spinach and feta egg tortilla; this is a great recipe as you can adjust it to your tastes, uses gluten-free (like me) or flour tortillas and in less than 10 minutes you will have a hearty well balanced breakfast you can eat on the go. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Spinach and Feta Egg Tortilla

  • 1 tsp (coconut) oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp chopped red (or green) onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tortilla
  1. Heat a pan that is approximately the same size as your tortilla over medium heat.
  2. Whisk together your eggs and spinach.
  3. Melt coconut oil in the pan and then saute your onions for a few minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add your egg mixture to the pan and use your spatula to confine the mixture to half of the pan. Salt your eggs as desired.
  5. Once the egg starts to set, place your tortilla over the egg, then place a full size plate on top of the tortilla.
  6. Holding onto the plate, carefully flip over the pan so the egg and tortilla are inverted onto the plate.
  7. Carefully slide the egg and tortilla back onto the pan (and back on the element) and sprinkle with the feta cheese.
  8. After about 30 seconds, your tortilla should be warm and pliable, fold it over to cover up the egg and feta.
  9. Allow to cook until lightly golden (~1 minute) then flip your tortilla over and allow the other side to brown and the feta to melt.
  10. I like to cut my tortilla in half for ease of eating, but however you eat it, ENJOY!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Outsmarted by a Three Year Old

I’m a firm believer in picking your battles and letting the little things slide so I can stand my ground on the big things. Unfortunately, in my attempts to use a more peaceful parenting method, I may have occasionally started choosing the easy road with my children and they are well aware that sometimes, Mommy just gives in.

Yesterday morning I was making smoothies for breakfast with the help of my boy Simba. He loves to blend the spinach and watch the water turn green before scooping all the yummy deliciousness into the mix. I recently purchased a new bag of goji berries and it quickly became obvious that the little handful I gave him to eat while we blended was not going to be sufficient today.

He happily took his little bowl of goji berries to the table and promptly spilled them on the ground. Simba then commanded me to pick them back up, to which I refused. 

He started to bawl and power struggle ensued. Aware that I have been giving in far too much lately (because it’s easy), I stood my ground and told him to pick up his goji berries. He continued to cry and ignored my offers to HELP him pick up his berries.

A few moments later I made a trip to the potty and upon my return three year old Simba informed me he had peed in his pants, all over the chair and onto the floor. It is worth noting here that he IS potty trained and although he occasionally has accidents, more often than not, his accidents are actually quite purposeful.

Then he looked right at me, picked a wet goji berry up off his chair and was about to eat it when I snatched it out of his hand and told him he couldn’t eat it. I proceeded to clean up the pee and the soiled goji berries, got him some new pants and finally sat down to eat my breakfast.

It wasn’t until I was sitting at work later that morning that I realized that I had in fact lost that battle; my boy wanted me to pick up his goji berries and I did.

When did he get so smart?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Conquering an Emotional Mountain

Because I’m a REAL mom, I sometimes lose my cool. I get frustrated, I yell, I threaten time outs and sometimes I cry.

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know, THAT mom, is not the mom I want to be. I believe in parenting that encourages love and support, where we don’t inflict punitive punishment but rather help and encourage our children to feel their emotions and work through them rather than suppress them. Gordon Neufeld’s book ‘Hold on to Your Kids’ was the first parenting book to truly resonate with me and the way I felt like I should be raising my children.

According to the book, here’s the problem with timeouts:
  • Almost all misbehavior stems from feeling disconnected from YOU.
  • When you punish your child with a time out, you are physically increasing that disconnect.
  • This enforces their disconnect with YOU and introduces a level of separation anxiety.
  • Your child becomes stuck in a circular, disconnected, anxious state, which results in more misbehavior.

 The solution therefore to the misbehavior is essentially a time-in, which looks like:
  • One on one attention from you.
  • Permission to feel their emotions, cry and feel supported.
  • Validation that their emotions are normal and ok.
  • Love, lots and lots of love.

Which sounds all pretty on paper, but in reality this is tough stuff.

How on earth am I supposed to reward my 5 year old with dedicated one on one attention for getting on top of his three year old brother and pounding him in the back, or kicking him in the face, or pushing him on the ground, or overturning furniture? Particularly if there’s only one parent at home? It’s almost impossible, even when the hubs is home.

But it is possible and sometimes it works.

The more often I step into my boys’ world and try to feel their feelings, the more often time-ins are successful at diffusing the big emotions. Sometimes its simply a matter of perseverance and patience.

The point of all this, is that this week, I had a success and it felt so good. I came home to boys that were borderline raging and within moments the tears, screaming, flailing and hitting were all in full force. After about 30 minutes, I managed to get Bolt up to his room and I quite simply, let him be mad. 

I told him I wouldn’t let him hurt me and physically stopped him from hitting me or breaking his toys, I acknowledged that he was having big feelings and not only was that ok, but I was right here with him if he wanted me. I asked him what was bothering him and over the course of the episode he told me he was mad about his dinner, mad he didn’t have a new Skylander, mad his brother touched him and all sorts of random things that irritated him, but I knew weren’t actually the real issue. Then without warning, in the midst of his screaming, he verbalized what was actually bothering him.

I miss my old house.
I don’t like it here.
I want to go back to my old house.

He opened that door and I jumped in with two feet.

When prompted he told me he missed his old bedroom and he missed the train table in his room, which can easily be remedied, but I suspected that still wasn’t actually the issue. So I told him that what I really missed was our family and our friends, and he readily agreed that he missed them too. 

We talked about how hard it is to be away from the people that we love and that we will go and visit everyone soon. We talked about calling our special people on the phone and talking to them on the computer and I reminded him that soon they would come visit us again at our new house. That turned into a discussion about the spare room we had just painted and how much we thought that our family would like having their own room to sleep in.

Before I knew it, we were talking about the Skylander decals on his wall, laughing and giggling.

And when his brother finally came traipsing in, he said Simba, you can come and play with us, I feel better now.  Me and Mom were making up swap names for the Skylanders and that made me feel happy.

I know it was sharing our feelings that made him feel better, not the Skylanders, but I don’t care.

Bolt and I conquered those emotions together and I’m so proud of us, because now I know we CAN do it.

It’s a long road and we’ve been working on this for over a year and though we have had many small successes (and failures) this is the first time I truly felt like we connected and climbed the mountain together and it gives me SO MUCH HOPE.

If you're looking for resources, in addition to Gordon Neufeld, Aha Parenting has great articles and newsletters that I highly recommend.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrate Easter with a Kinder Surprise Scavenger Hunt | #kindermom

A new home, a new city, a new tradition.

Until recently we lived 15 minutes from all of our immediate family so any day that even resembled a holiday included running around to at least one of our family's homes. And truly, family is one of life's pleasures.

But this Easter, on what I expect will be the first of many holidays in our new home, we have an opportunity to start a new tradition for our little family of four.

As a #Kindermom I'm so excited that this year, we will be having a Kinder Surprise Easter. 

My boys love a good treasure hunt and in the past we have simply made a trail from their bedroom door to the living room and allowed the egg hunt to go wild, but this year I have another idea.

In addition to scattered eggs, I'm going to create an Easter Scavenger hunt. My boys are old enough to appreciate such an event, but not so old as to be offended by my poor quality drawings (and I promise you they are poor).

Each boy will get his own 'treasure map' created by drawing 9 sketches of locations around our home (eg. a picture of a chair or the tv) on a piece of computer paper, rolled up and placed inside a toilet paper tube. My boys LOVE to have their treasure maps rolled up, but lack the skills to keep them that way, so a piece of toilet paper roll is the perfect solution.

And their treasures? KINDER SURPRISE! We received this amazing Kinder Surprise Egg Hunt kit complete with a hollow bunny and mini eggs and although I'm cutting it close, you certainly still have time to grab one for your house too.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, my favourite things about Kinder Surprise are:
  • They are Peanut-Free.
  • They are Gluten-Free.
  • Clear allergen labeling.
  • They are more about the little toy than the chocolate.

As if I need more reasons to love Kinder Surprise, I am super happy to partner with a company that partners with the Children's Miracle Network to 'Share the Joy'. Kinder will be providing 12 baskets to CMN hospitals this Easter and donating $25,000 to help support this non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals across North America.

How are you celebrating Easter this year? 
Will Kinder Surprise be in your Children's basket?

"Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  All opinions on this blog are my own”