School Clothes That Stand the Test of Time and Budget

This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and Carter’s | OshKosh and #CartersOshKosh #Kidsentials sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation.

Who remembers the knee patch your mom ironed on over the hole on your favourite pair of jeans? The jeans you chased your grade school crush around in. The jeans you would wear until your mom would literally force them off of you to wash. The jeans you fashioned for every occasion. We all had our favourite pairs!

Somehow, those amazing jeans, that had been through everything, lost their cool the minute your mom “put a patch on it!” (pun intended) They lost their edge. The cool factor of their worn out look was gone with that fresh, clean patch.

This is a real memory for me as a child. I remember when I became a mom, I swore I would never patch my kids’ jeans.  Funny enough, my husband has the same memories and made me promise I would never buy a patch… ever. 

This patch-free pact we made seemed very doable, until it’s your kid and you swear they must be dragging their knees across the playground cement. We barely make it to Halloween before our son’s pants start to wear thin.

As moms, we get it. We know the pain of out-grown, over-worn clothes, that don’t even make it to the hand me down pile!  We both also know the challenge of incredibly “fashion independent” children, who have their very own, unique style. We both have girls who have been dressing themselves since they were two, and boys who might just be future fashion bloggers themselves. 

My husband swore he had the answer to our dilemma when he purchased some shall we say “affordable”, okay cheap, jeans for our son. They were literally splitting at the seams before the 2nd week of school.  

So we had to come up with a game plan to make sure our kiddies had their clothing and fashion needs met, while still staying within our budgets. Having little ones in SK to grade 2, we have done the back-to-school shopping dance a handful of times. We can confidently say that we are mom-experts in this field. Okay, maybe not experts, but we’re pretty good. Although, last year during one of our back-to-school shopping days, within the first twenty minutes there were tears, complaints, looks of disgust and pure frustration over the selections we were making. 

This year we have a new game plan. Our goal is to keep the tears and frustration on the down low, the kids in check, and our shopping time to a minimum.  

Tips:

1. Shop in the morning

Have a hearty breakfast and while everyone’s spirits are high, hit the stores.  Bring snacks and take breaks if the kids are showing any signs of frustration.

2. Have Fun 

This should be fun! Let your little ones make choices. Recognize their style and listen to what they say. Ask them their opinions before you send them into a change room with a bunch of items they do not want to be trying on. Choose a store such as Carter’s | OshKosh where you know you will find clothes that provide quality and durability, but are still stylish. This is a win win for everyone.

3. Keep It Simple – One Stop Shop

This is a big one. Find one place that carries the things you need. As we mentioned, we both love to shop at Carter’s | OshKosh because they specialize in young children’s apparel. From newborns to size 14 (our kiddies age ranges from 5 months to 7 years old), this is perfect for us! Not to mention, this is a brand that we wore as kids. We just love that history!  

4. Have a Game Plan and Involve the Kids

Start your shopping experience with a game plan and check list of what you actually need. Make sure you involve the kids with the plan, so expectations are met. That way neither of you gets lost in buying things you do not need.  Let them know what they should expect and make sure you stick to your own plan. Do NOT DEVIATE! Take it from us, they will be the first to let you know if you start spending too much time in one area. 

5. Give Them the Check List

Below is a handy check list for back-to-school items. Give your little one a copy, so you can both stay on track and within budget.*  *This is a common theme. 

(Purely for our own sanity, so we don’t have to do laundry multiple times a week, we think it’s best that the littles have a fresh outfit to wear every day of the school week. Plus one or two extras just in case…)

  • Shirts: 8-10 - If they like T-shirts more, then get a few of those to pair with a zip-up hoodie.
  • Pants: 7 - Go for a variety of jeans, khakis, joggers or tights and one dressy pair or a dress for the girls.
  • Sweatshirts/sweaters: 3 - Mix it up with pull-overs or hoodies and one nice sweater for special events.
  • Long-sleeve shirts: 5 - Add in a dressy option as well.
  • Girls may opt for a couple of shirts/dresses as well depending on preference.
  • Shoes: 1 pair for indoor/ 1 pair for outdoor / 1 dressy pair –Try them on in-store and make sure your kids can get them off and on.  We have purchased amazing shoes, only to have a child in tears over not being able to get ready fast enough at school, requiring us to buy a new pair.
  • Socks: 10-15 pairs
  • Underwear: 10-15 pairs

Want to see what we got? Here are some of the items our little ones chose:

Hockey themed long sleeve shirt

Tulle skirt with matching top

Sparkly shoes

OshKosh fleece jogging suit

6. Let Them Take a Break

Kids will be kids. Don’t get frustrated if they are tired or over the shopping experience faster than you expected.  Again, another reason why we just love shopping at Carter’s | OshKosh is our kiddies can take much needed breaks, play with the toys or watch the in-store movie, all while we show them clothing options and outfits … with either a “yah or nah’! 

7. Have a Special ‘Treat’ After and Make It a Special Back-to-School Day

This is a special day. Going back to school is exciting, but also scary for some kids. If you have time, take each child separately. If you can’t, don’t sweat it. Make it a family activity. This can be a special day out with Mom and/or Dad. Grab a yummy treat out after or have a picnic in the park post shopping. Or if your kids are anything like ours, you’ll be treated to a full fashion show when you get home. Whatever your back-to-school shopping includes, have fun and try to enjoy it. 

xo 

Vanessa + Melissa

_____

What are your tips? Share them with us below in the comments.  And make sure to head over to www.cartersoshkosh.ca/kidsentials to enter to win 1 of 6 $500 Carter’s | OshKosh gift cards. Then share your favourite #CartersOshKosh #Kidsentials with us on social media!

Spread the love and share the contest with your family and friends. You can enter again each month.

5 Mom HACKS to working from home!

Did you miss the amazing story that Andrea shared with us about being a SAHWM?! (Stay At Home Working Mom)  Make sure to click here to read it, if this is something you are thinking about doing, this is an amazing story to read!

That said - being a stay at home working mama can be a lot of work, and Andrea is always looking for ideas on how to balance it all.

Here are her favourite mama hacks to spending QUALITY time with hubby and baby and yet staying on top of your responsibilities.

    1. Baby on a schedule and flexibility. For me, none of this would be possible if I hadn’t put Ava on a feeding schedule when she was little! At the same time, I’d go CRAZY if I couldn’t be flexible if she woke up at a weird time or seemed super cranky because she needed sleep. You figure out what they need - it doesn’t mean you CAN’T have a schedule or CAN’T be flexible. You can have both!

    2. Social media notifications OFF. What’s the difference between checking 71 notifications throughout the day or checking them once at night? The difference is that you are not distracted 71 times! Turn them off and schedule a time for your social media. If need be, schedule your blog posts and social media posts on the weekend and let them publish throughout the week (I use Hootsuite to do this!).

    3. Get your priorities right - and then do it again! It’s a constant battle for me to put God first in the morning, and then put my husband and baby first. But it’s not a battle I’m willing to give up on. Sometimes I set the timer for 15 minutes and I focus on one person or one audio book or one task. I’m embarrassed when I set the timer because I feel like “of course I spend at least 15 quality minutes with this person”. But try it - you’d be surprised how quickly you’re distracted within one 15-minute timeframe! When I’m “on the clock,” I’m not allowed to jump to anything else - and it helps me be more present.

    4. Let hubby help. I used to feel so guilty if my hubby helped out around the house at all. I thought it meant I wasn’t doing a good enough job. That is crazy, mamas! We all do so much beyond housework and we’re not the only ones who dirty the house! My hubby leaves out his tools and tracks in dirt AND he does his own laundry and helps me do the dishes. I also steal his socks and then throw them in his hamper. I feel no guilt. :)

    5. Know when to say no. It’s hard to say no because you want to be flexible and helpful to everyone at all times. But you’re not as good at multitasking as you think. You’re just really good at getting distracted and switching rapidly between things. You bring SO much more value to home and work when you are focused. So I am always reminding family/work when it is my time to be with family or time to work. For me, they just can’t happen successfully at the same time. As a working mama, it’s easy to feel like you can’t tell your employer you need to breastfeed or take your child to the doctor. And as a mama, you feel guilty working when you can hear them playing next door with someone else. But here’s the thing. If you can’t take care of your family when it’s time to take care of them, you’re going to quit your job because you need to take care of your family! And if you can’t work when it’s time to work, you’re not going to bring value and your time will be wasted. Finding a balance is SO valuable to your family and employer!

I have such a vision for the future - writing a book on mental health, growing a business, constantly learning…. But mostly I would LOVE to help a few of my best friends who are SAHMs and struggling to pay the bills. When they’re ready to work, I want to be the one that tells them - “It’s NOT impossible. Here let’s try this.”

Becoming A Momprenuer And Creating A Business for Social Good

The Doll Kind was inspired by a very unlikely series of events. One fateful day during the summer of 2015, in a daze of confusion and utter awe, I snapped a now viral picture of my daughter, Anistyn.  Fast forward to today, and you have a children's company for social good that promotes kindness. How did we get here, you ask? Following the picture of Anistyn going viral, I received a lot of criticism and personal attacks to my character.....

"Find something you love, balance will follow" our interview with Julie Montagu

You know when you find another mom that just motivates you? A mom and business woman, that truly inspires you?  We  feel this way about Julie Montagu.  

If you don't know her, she is a leading lady on the Bravo hit TV series, The Ladies Of London. She has her own Yoga practice, has written 3 books (the last one to be released soon) and is also royalty (she says what North Americans call royalty, in England is called, "aristocracy")

With a passion for foods and a lifestyle that heals and gives you energy, she has been able to help fuel herself out of the "Mom coffee crash". Julie also helped her own husband to heal, when he became sick over 7 years ago.  She exudes the same passion and expertise for her yoga practice, which she started on a grass roots level years ago in a church basement.  When she began her Yoga teachings, she would bring yummy dishes to the women who participated and taught them about the benefits of chia seeds, buckwheat and which foods were good for you and why.

She is an abundance of energy, you can feel her love for her family and LIFE!  This interview is a must see, for a dose of mommy motivation.

Plus she shares with us the "Key To Balance":

"You have to find something you love, it makes balance so much easier"

PAUSE. BREATH. PRAY.

#MOMMYBLOGMONDAYS FEATURING

TANIA JOY ANTONIO

It was one of those days. You know? Over tired! Extra Sensitive! (Which by the way is not a negative thing in my mind) As the quote goes “ Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. Let this be a sign that you’ve got a big heart and aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength” I feel like the world has been programmed to feel like being sensitive is a bad thing. People say to you “Oh my, you're so sensitive!” Let’s stop taking that as an insult. Yes I am, and boy oh boy that day I was. And perhaps a little too sensitive, which in turn made me snappy (Which is a negative thing). I was lacking sleep and not because of my baby girl! I take full responsibility. I wake up to check on her; it must be a first time mom thing, or maybe it is just my thing. Regardless I interrupt my own sleeps. She does wake up a couple times throughout the night to eat still and now with teething even more. But easily put right back to sleep with some of mama’s milk. So back to “IT WAS ONE OF THOSE DAYS.” Rather than continuing my morning being extra sensitive and snappy, I decided I needed to get out and BREATHE! PRAY! GIVE THANKS! Usually the opposite of what people do when they are having a so-called “bad morning.” 

Before Gemma-Love came into our lives, I probably would of let the day snowball and continue to be gray. But I have a very hard time staying down or miserable when I have the greatest blessing ever. So I often find if I get upset I just look at her, and man the day instantly gets brighter. I am so grateful to her for that. So I packed her up and headed to the temple. We have a Buddhist temple here that is very beautiful and peaceful. The last time I was there was with my sister-in-law, we lit incense and sent out our prayers to the universe. When your wishes and prayers are fulfilled and come to fruition, you should return and give thanks. So that’s exactly what I did. Gemma-Love and I arrived at the temple. I walked around with her showing her all the statues and beauty of the building. Inside the ladies working and one of the monks adored her. We were the only guests inside at the time. So I got the incense, headed out to the big pot full of sand, set some new intentions and prayers and released them out into the universe. You stand it up straight in the pot and leave it there. Let the universe do her thing. We headed back in, kneeled down and prayed and gave thanks along with praying for friends and family. Gemma-Love never even made a peep for the whole hour we were there. She just looked in awe at all the statues, colors and beauty that surrounded us. You would think with a six month old, going to a temple for some silence and solitude would not happen, but it did. And it was beautiful and sacred day for the two of us. Something I hope to instill in her is to always have an open mind and a compassionate heart. 

I saw a post a friend made the other day that read, “Practice the pause. When in doubt, Pause. When angry, Pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, PRAY.” Great advice! Because really you can do that anywhere you want. Reality is we cannot always pick up and escape to another place to do that. What I am saying is that next time you are having “One of those days”, take the time and space you need rather than stay in a state of anger or upset. Take that time to pause, pray and give gratitude for the good things. I needed to get out of my space that day and take it somewhere else. And it turned out to be a beautiful morning for Gemma-Love and myself. I would Love to hear your ways of dealing with “One of those days” and turning it into a positive.
Tania XOXO

You can follow Tania on Instagram: @taniajoyantonio

OR check out her new website at: http://www.taniaantonio.com


Finding The Best Child Care

How many parents have been faced with the daunting task of finding childcare online? Sure, some of us have been fortunate enough to find someone wonderful, a Nanny Poppins if you will. But others have not been so lucky. We encounter that revolving door where we post an ad, sift through hundreds of applications, schedule interviews, and eventually hire someone, only to have something go wrong or fall through. (And really- who has time for any of this? We're already carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, what's one more responsibility right ;) )

What is even more terrifying is how often candidates are dishonest about their experience, even providing fake references  simply to land the job. "There has to be a safer, more convenient way to find childcare," I've thought to myself time and time again. But there wasn't! Internet sites like Care and Sittercity had taken over the market. In an age where everyone prefers convenience over genuine human interaction, was there room for an in-person childcare placement experience? Of course there was! 

I have been a nanny for over a decade and have loved every single moment. As any mom knows, there is nothing more rewarding-and exhausting- than taking care of a child. In my ten years working alongside some exceptional moms and dads, I have encountered various concerns and complaints regarding the reliability, capability, and morality of sitters and nannies that had been found online. For this reason and so many others, I set out to start a business where I could eliminate the online component and personally match families with childcare providers who truly loved and valued their job as I have. I wanted to employ caregivers who recognize and appreciate the invaluable role that they play in raising a child. Most importantly, I wanted parents to have peace of mind in knowing that their sitter or nanny was throughly screened. There did not have to be any question whether a candidate was truthful about their experience, or their background in their application. 

Opening my own childcare placement agency has allowed me to be an advocate for families and nannies alike. My sole purpose is to help families navigate through this important process by ensuring that each candidate that applies for their position has the applicable experience and fits their job criteria. You will never be introduced to a candidate who is not completely compatible with your position, eliminating the chore of sorting through endless applications. The process of finding a truly great caregiver should not feel like pulling teeth!

Working with a placement agency like Coastal Care, is a little like working with your own personal HR department. We work directly with you to determine what your needs are and then initiate a search within the agency to find the candidates that most closely fit your criteria. If for some reason you would prefer that we start a search outside of the agency to allow for a wider selection, we are happy to do that as well! We offer on-call care, backup care, date night sitters, mothers' helpers, and part-time and full-time nannies. Never again do you have to fear that dreaded late night phone call from your sitter telling you that she cannot make it in (....we get chills just thinking about it!). 

Because we want this process to be as enjoyable (yes, enjoyable!) and easy for you as possible, we perform all of the screening and hiring tasks including a thorough background check, which is then sent onto you. The only thing we ask of you is that you interview each candidate that peaks your interest and report back to us! In the event that you are not completely thrilled with the new addition to your family, we also offer a complimentary replacement. 

As a parent, you already have the most important job in the world. Our job as a placement agency is to make your life a little easier by finding you the best possible care in San Diego. Next time you are in search of truly great childcare, I urge you to bypass the computer and seek out a more personalized experience. You won't regret it! 

*If you are currently seeking care, please contact Mary-Lauren of Coastal Care at 303.594.0175. For more information, visit our website at www.coastalcaresd.com* 

When I Became a Mother, I Disappeared

By Joanna Venditti – Nesting Story

When I became a mother, I lost myself. I had always dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom, just like my own mother. But motherhood was not what I pictured it would be.

I had quit my big city job to be home. It wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be. I pictured going for walks with my other mommy friends with our strollers, going to play dates, spending endless hours reading books and making homemade baby food. 

I hated all of it. I was riddled with guilt because I wasn’t enjoying motherhood like I had hoped. Like I was supposed to.

My son was a miserable baby. In fact he didn’t really enjoy life until he was two-years-old. When we found out I was pregnant again (unplanned) I nearly lost it. Although our daughter was a much-needed ray of sunshine, I was already too far-gone. 

My husband would walk in the door from work and I would be pacing the hallway, so deep in depression, it literally felt like a dark cloud had settled over my head. 

I had no idea who I was anymore. I wasn’t the same person before having children, and I felt like my light was dimming and I was vanishing. 

That’s when I decided to find myself again. I let go of the picture I always had of what kind of mother I would be, and carved out a new path. 

This period of self-discovery has spanned the last three years of my life. I went back to work and then started my own company so I could work from home. During this time my husband and I decided that we were ready for another baby. Little did I know that it would lead to a year of infertility and two miscarriages, eventually finding out I was expecting twins. 

But my twin pregnancy again, brought me to that dark place. I was so isolated and in so much pain. I was disappearing again. 

I pushed though and now on the other side, feel like I am finally awake. I know how strong I am and that I can be a mom as well as my own person. I can be passionate about my work, yet still give my children what they need. I am a happy mother, because I work hard everyday to make sure I don’t disappear and I continue to carve out my own path. 

Today, I am constantly reaching out to other mothers, so they know they are not alone. You don’t have to feel guilty if motherhood is not what you pictured. 

It’s okay to be you, even if that version of you is a little different after becoming a mother. 

You can follow Joanna at: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nesting-Story-114536365305183/
www.nestingstory.ca

 

I always knew I would adopt

#MommyBLOGMondays....Featuring a blog post by, Nat

image1 copy 5.jpeg

When I was a little girl all I wanted was to be a mommy.  My mom sat me down one day when I was around 12 years old and talked to me about the fact that I was still playing with dolls.   They weren’t just dolls to me, they were my babies. Samantha and Tabatha. One walking doll, and one baby doll. I loved them. I changed their diapers and clothes. I made them cozy little beds at night, I fed them, and snuggled them. I put those dolls away one day, and suddenly there I was 20 years later on my honeymoon filling out our adoption papers.  I always knew I would adopt. I realized at a very young age that I could love another human deeply, unconditionally, and it didn’t need to be someone that was blood related. At a young age I knew I wouldn’t give birth to my children. It was a deep feeling, and premonition almost. 
I have a very vivid memory of riding the bus with my mom one snowy winter night. We were sitting quietly beside each other and I remember my mom was holding my hand for some strange reason. I said “mom when I grow up, I’m going to adopt my babies”! My mom didn’t look at me, she continued to stare out at the snow, and she smiled, then squeezed my hand tight.  She said “I bet you will Nat, I bet you will”! There was no way I could ever imagine what the future had in store for me. 
Years later in my early 20’s I lost my mother, my best friend, my only parent. She lost her brutal fight with depression, and tragically took her own life on a very similar winter, stormy night. Something about that tragedy set me out on a path in which I found my husband, and best friend, and our 2 amazing little boys. Something about that loss gave me the determination and strength I needed for the years ahead.  
There I was on the first day of my honeymoon, sitting up in bed, sipping a coffee, filling out our adoption papers. Everyone told me how long it would take, and how impossible it was going to be.  I thought I  had better get started! My husband and I decided that we would register with Children’s Aide, as well as with a Private adoption agency to be sure that we were keeping all our options open. I really wanted a male professional in the mix for my husband. I was worried how this rubgy playing, just married man, was going to react to all the social worker stuff. So, I went through the list of adoption social workers that I found on the internet and called the first male name I saw.  I  dialed the number, and to my surprise he actually answered the phone.  I booked an appointment with him the following week. It turns out that same man would become very instrumental in our adoption process,  – he facilitated both of our adoptions, without him I’m certain we would not be where we are today.

It’s true, adoption is hard to do in Canada (both our boys were born in Canada ), the process is complicated, long, invasive, scary, risky,confusing, extremely expensive and utterly exhausting. If there is any doubt in your mind, this process is not for you!!!! We started the long journey ofappointments,  medical and police forms, interviews, workshops, home visits, references, bank statements,  and endless questions, (including how many times we made love a week , and who brought the garbage out!!!). Once all thesesteps were completed, (and hopefully you pass all the tests), we were APPROVED.  Nothing can prepare a couple for how grueling the process is. You have to be so incredibly dedicated to making it happen, to the point that it essentially takes over your life. To this day I have no idea how our marriage survived the first 5 years. I remember the day we were APPROVED. I honestly felt like I had completed a marathon, the process had spit us out the other side, and deemed us good enough humans to raise a child. I was so freaking excited.

 

So…My husband asks the social worker “Ok …now what? How long will it take? What do we do now?” Our social worker smiled (well laughed politley ) at us and said well….you wait!” WAIT????? What do you mean we wait? Wait for What? Aren’t there children that need a home?  Well, the reality was there weren’t birth mothers waiting in a wing somewhere. The system is so complicated nobodycan really understand it, including the people whoare trying to guide you through the process.  We were discouraged, and felt so depleted. But,  anyone who knows me, knows I’m a fighter, and a go getter, and giving up is not in my nature! ….so I began my own search for our child. 

One day, while searching the internet, I came acrossan online site www.canadaadopts.com where birth parents, and adoptive parents could meet. This was amazing to me. It was so postitive. Itwasn’t full of shame,  sad stories, or hopelessness. It was a place where people came together and could connect, who are looking for the same thing. This felt really organic to me. I am happy to tell you that we were matched with both of our boys through this site. It is obviously something I would recommend to anyone that is looking to adopt, or placing a child for adoption. It’s not to say that it doesn’t come with its own challenges and risks, because it absolutley does. This process is complicated and difficult no matter what way you look at it.

We posted our info on the site. We opened our whole lives to the internet. We felt so vulnerable, and really scared. We made an email address, and toll free number where potential birth mothers, and families could contact us. And we waited. We had a few emails from potential birthmothers, we had some very strange emails that were clearly scams… and then one day while at work my husband forwarded me an email. A birth mother had contacted us and asked that I call her. Terrified, is the first emotion that comes to mind. I went home and picked up the phone and dialed the number, I remember I still had my coat on, and my purse over my shoulder. We talked for a long time. We talked almost every day for 5 months, until our son was born. Both of us trying to comfort the other. Trying to build trust, and ensure the other person that we will keep our promises to each other.  This birth mother was very involved in making sure that we had good plans for her baby. I know I was scared, but everyday I would try and put myself in her shoes, and try and fathom the fear and uncertainty she was feeling. The truth is, I can’t, and never will know what that feels like, but I know I tried my very hardest to be patient, kind and compassionate.  A friendship of sorts grew, but in my gut there was always a feeling of fear. Our amazing friends, and family were so supportive, but they worried about all the things that could go wrong.

A few months after we connected with this birthmother we got a call from our CAS worker to say we had been matched with a little girl. She was ready to be adopted and we had 2 days to decide – however, that same evening I went to check the mail and there I found a letter with a note from the birthmother I had been talking to.   In the envelope was the ultrasound,  the little baby boy she was carrying in her tummy and it was at that very moment I knew that he was meant to be with us. I just knew. 

 

Our first born son was born out of province, premature, 2 days after Christamas. We got an a plane, and went to him. He was 5lbs when he was born – and went down to 4 lbs within 2 days. His birthmother was struggling emotionally when we arrived. She was so conflicted, tired, frantic and scared. The next month was the most stressful days of my life, even more scary than the day I lost my mom . My husband stood day after day beside that little incubator, as I ran around the town meeting with lawyers, social workers, and tried the best as I could to support this young woman. There were such extreme highs and lows.  All the while this little baby struggled to thrive.  After several weeks of being in the hospital with the baby, sleeping on cots, and trying to look after everything, and everyone, the doctor told us we could fly home. Our family and friends were all waiting to meet this little boy, who we all loved so much. My husband was beyond amazing during this time, I remember feeling a love so strong for him as I watched him become this little boys father. I was torn,  I was so happy to be a mommy finally, but I had this intense sadness for those we left behind. I worried sick about the baby’s birth mother. Who would look after her? Would she be ok?  This was beyond hard for her.  We all knew deep down in our hearts that it was a tragic loss for her. It felt unfair to be happy, and celebrate the baby, when people were suffering such a loss. Our little baby boy was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. I honestly had never felt a love this intense in my life. I remember flying home, and looking at the baby in my husband’s arms and feeling terrified that I loved something this much, my heart actually ached. My husband was so attached, and in love with him.  We were back in Toronto. And now we had to face the 16 days to go by where the birth parents could change their mind. Each day passed like it was a month.  The sweet little baby was so tiny, and sometimes not well, we were exhausted, terrified, and anxious. On day 16 our birth mother called and said…..you know I have 11 hours to change my mind……the clock ticked, and ticked and finally we could breathe. We were officaly parents to this amazing little human. 
About 2 years later we started thinking about having another child.  We were open to adoption again, but also open to a a biological child. We had challenges getting preganant, and inevitably we entered into the hell of fertiity. After a long while I asked for an exploratory surgery, where they discovered I had stage 4 endometriosis. Adoption is tough, I have to be honest. Although it has brought us our family, there were parts that I thought would literally break my heart. But Fertility treament was the single most awful expereince of all. We started our 4th invetro. I sometimes add up all the money we have spent and have no idea how we did it.  I was months away from my 40th birthday. My body was tired, and we knew that it was a possibility that we may only have one child.. But our son begged us for a baby brother. So, we gave it one last shot. We also decided to put our profile back up on the site and left it in God’s hands. 
Three weeks later we were contacted by our youngest son’s birthmother.  Weeks later we met, and soon we were emmersed in another relationship with a birthmother who had made the very difficult decision to place her baby for adoption. I attended all her doctor appointments with her. She was staying very close to us in the city which allowed us to see each other several times. We filled out more paper work, and met with our social workers and made a birth plan….and waited. We attended an ultra sound together and learned that she was carrying a baby boy. We named him together, and we waited. I was extremly lucky to be able to attend the birth of the baby. Together, with a few members of her family we welcomed the baby into the world. The moment the baby was born I felt this warmt, weight, and feeling of light I had never expereinced before. One of the family members grabbed my arm and said “we are not alone in this room, something, or someone bigger than us is here”. I felt it too!!!! In that moment I felt a feeling of love, hope, compassion and power. I felt my mother’s love all around me, around us. Something was there to let us all know it was ok. At that moment I could see everyone’s mouth moving, talking to me….but I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. It was like I was watching from the outside of my body. Maybe I was in shock…I don’t know.  The doctor was passing me something and smiling,  showing me where to cut the cord….then suddenly everything was very loud, and I felt very overwelmed. I started to cry,  and although I was so happy to see the baby, I knew my relationship with the baby’s birthmother would change. I started to panick. A few hours later the social worker at the hospital came to tell me that she had left, she had gone home and that she said good bye. My heart sank. I started to cry, and didn’t stop until the next day. I had no idea how much I would grieve her, she was always part of the baby and now she was gone. I had grown to love her, and  care for her. The one thing that bonded us was here now, and she was gone. Nobody in any of those meetings, workshops or sessions ever tells you about that part. There is nobody to help you though the difficult feelings of massive happiness, and intense sadness all at the same time. It’s very confusing, and all the while you wait the 16 days, and worry, and pray, and hope that everything and everyone will be ok. And every second you look down at the beautiful baby and can’t believe how insanely perfect he is. And your love grows so quickly and intensley,  you worry. and you pray. And your little boy falls deeply in love with his baby brother, and your heart aches. and you pray. 

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Our adoptions are both semi open. We share emails, photos, and stay in contact in different ways with both boy’s birth families. The boys know how much their birth families love them. They know they are loved. Nobody gave them away, but made very difficult decisions at the time of their births, and placed them in our arms and lives, to love them and give them a better life. That decision is one made soley out of love. I felt it and saw it wih my own eyes and heart.   I’m hopeful our story helps people realize adoption is pretty magical. And those who decide to make the agonizing decision to place their baby for adoption are beyond courageous, unselfish, strong, intelligent, brave, loving human beings. There are many parts of our story that I can’t share in this forum due to individual’s privacy. This is only my story from my perspective. I know our birth mothers and families stories may look,  or feel much different. Regardless, I know, more than anything else, that the unique love of those 2  incredible women, made it possible for us to be a family, and feel a love beyond anything I thought existed. And although there were many ups and downs and we were and are far from perfect… grateful, and graditude is the one strong feeling, and word that resinates for me. I am forever changed, and know without a doubt that a mothers love  proves to be stronger than anything else that exists. 
Often our oldest son and I will lay in bed at night and talk. This is the time when he will talk to me about things on his mind, or heavy on his heart.  These are precious moments and I gobble them up. Sometimes he will ask me questions. He loves to hear the story of the night he was born. He often needs reassurance that his birth family are ok. He has a soft  heart with that kind of thing. Each year he gets older, he asks more questions, and those questions  get tougher. Recently, he asked me if it was ok if he calls his birth mother “mom”?   “Of course” I said, “she is your mother, we will never take that way from her”. You grew in her belly, you grew in my heart, we are both your mother, and we both love you very much. He said, I’m lucky to have so many people that love me.  

About a month ago, our  little guy asked to see a picture of his birth mother. I showed it to him, and waited while he looked at it. I realized I was holding my breathe, trying to prepare for what he might ask. He studied the picture for what felt like a long time…and then suddenly he said” mommy you aren’t going to believe this, but we have matching eyes”. I said “Yes, you do buddy! It’s true, they totally do have matching eyes.  It always makes my heart happy, and comforts me somehow. Although she is gone from my everyday life,  I will forever look into my son’s eyes, and be reminded of her, her strength, her love, and her courage.  The kind of thing that changes you in the most amazing way… forever. 
    
“Not flesh of my flesh, not bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own.  Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart but in it.”  - Fleur Conkling Heyliger

 

What To Expect When You're NOT Expecting

Where Do Babies Come From???

 

This very easily worded question causes great debate and stress for many parents. I used to laugh at the wide eyed parents quickly searching their minds for a reasonable yet vague answer to their small innocent child's question. But this evening, after overhearing a child at the store ask his father where babies come from, I felt a wave of anxiousness and fear rush over me. How would I one day answer this question to my child? "Mommy, where do babies come from?" Hmmmm, let's see, Mommy's belly won't work in this case and telling a small child he or she came from another woman's belly is even more confusing and scary. Perhaps we can go with the traditional stork answer, as it is not too far off. It may not be a bird swooping over my house and dropping a blanket clad baby on my doorstep; but it will be another woman delivering my sweet bundle of joy to me. Or we can keep it basic and to the point; the freezer. Yes, the freezer, because that is where you will be coming from my little one. Just push aside the carton of chocolate ice cream and frozen waffles to find a baby. I can just picture that; coming home to find my child on a step stool frantically throwing frozen meats and ice cubes on the ground as I scream; "What are you doing!?" to be answered by my doe eyed child that they are looking for a sibling. Okay, so clearly none of my brainstorming ideas are panning out. I have decided instead I will be honest and upfront and tell you my little one the complete truth. Every child deserves to know where they come from. So get ready. My reply will be; babies come from the heart. Because it is the truth. No matter how babies get to their parents,  they come from the heart. Every parent has a place in their heart for their child that begins to grow and fill the minute they plan for their baby. The moments dreaming and wishing of them cause that place to grow further. And that magical moment where they learn of their child's impending arrival, whether they are naturally conceived, adopted, or created with the help of science,  the HOW they got here doesn't seem so important, but the answer to WHERE remains the same; every child comes from the heart. No matter how that baby gets to your arms, the moment your eyes look down at that new life, the center of yours, you and your baby both know where they came from and where they belong.

 Let me draw you a map my dear child, because just like those large maps in a mall, with the big arrow pointing out where you are; here is a big picture of a heart with an arrow. YOU ARE HERE. So, my little miracle, years from now, when your question appears; where do babies come from? I will be ready with my answer. Quickly and simply without any hesitation; my heart. You may not get to grow under mine, but you will grow in it. In fact, you already are. There is already a spot reserved for you, a hole and an emptiness that no one besides you can fill. The "stork" may get to carry  you, but I carry you in my heart.

You can follow Colleen's blog at :
http://whattoexpectwhenyourenotexpecting2013.blogspot.com/

And you can "like" and follow Colleen on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/whattoexpectwhenyoureNOTexpecting

Raising Biracial Children

#MOMMYBLOGMondays featuring our very own mama, Melissa. 

Are You His Nanny? The Life Of A Mom Raising Biracial Babies  

by: Melissa Shadd

The other day, my son and I were playing at the park.  A little fair skin boy walked up to me, asking to be pushed on the swing as well. Within minutes, the two of them were shrieking with laughter, as the sun gently kissed their skin.
During the summer months, my son's complexion went from a sweet olive shade, to a very dark tan. On that day, the little boy at the park noticed his complexion.  As I helped them both off the swings, he looked up at me and asked, "Are you his nanny?".

A smile broke across my face, as I told him no, “I'm his mommy". My son looked at me confused, as to why I was even being asked such a  question.

Over the years, this question became a part of our visits to community centres, while on vacations, visiting parks, etc.  At first my son didn't pay much attention to it, however soon he started picking up on our skin differences.

Why am I different?
One day while we were cuddling, he placed his hand over mine and asked why my skin was peach and his was brown.  As I started to respond he stopped me with, "and Daddy has an even darker colour than me!".
This conversation took a turn to why he didn't look like either mommy or daddy, like some of his friends did. I knew someday this question would arrive, and here we are. I looked down at my little man, with his perfect complexion, beautiful large eyes and soft thick hair. I explained that he was a blend of both mommy and daddy, just like those other little children.  That he got the best of both worlds, with his own special colour.  I explained to him that there is so much more to mommy and daddy than the colour of our skin and all that matters was that we both love him and God chose to make him look special, unique and very handsome!
This answer was suffice, in that moment. He crawled down from my lap and walked away.  Even though in that moment he was happy, as I watched him walk away I was reminded of the fact that he is different. Raising him is more than just raising a boy with a different shade of skin.  It is about educating him, teaching him to respect his family history and being his advocate when others say things without understanding the repercussions of their words. 

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When Your Experiences Don't Match
So on I went with my little family, thinking I was totally on top of this family conversation. Until last week, when Vanessa asked me what I thought about the incidences of racial profiling currently being spotlighted in the US.  To be honest, I was only dealing with my immediate issues, like finding the right Crayola Crayon to match my sons skin tone.  However, when I brought it up to my husband I was shocked by his answer.
He looked at me and responded with,"What's so new about that? I have been dealing with that my entire life.” That stopped me dead in my tracks.  Even his sister vouched for the incidences both of them faced growing up.  She could recall being a little girl in a store with her mama, grandmother and her baby brother, when they were asked to leave, because the store owner made it clear that they didn't serve, "Their kind".
It was hearing these stories, that I realized my husband and I were not on the same page when it came to race.  Not because we didn't want to be, but because our experiences were far from similar. His are tainted at best, and mine never effected.

So now we are raising this beautiful little boy. He is not a white kid and he's not a black kid.  So where does he fit in? Not only do we need to agree on how we raise our children, but as partners we had to learn to mesh each of our core beliefs into a blended balance, of our two worldly experiences. 

Raising A Son With An African American Father
My husband has deep roots to the underground railroad.  His great great Aunt, was not only the first black female editor of a newspaper, she was also the first ever black female lawyer!  (Look her up, Mary-Ann Shadd).  His great Great- Grandfather played a role in the underground railroad.  My husband's family is very proud of their history, as they should be.  From the moment I knew I would marry him and bare his children, I made it my own personal mission to learn as much as I could.  One day the stories would be told and I wanted to share their remarkable history with our children, knowing at times there might be some difficult situations we would have to navigate through. 

 The A.D SHADD stamp that was released in Canada during Black History month.

The A.D SHADD stamp that was released in Canada during Black History month.

 A Historic Monument: w hen a fugitive slave arrived in Buxton through the Underground Railroad, the large bell in the Mission school rang to celebrate their arrival and new found freedom.  This is on a road that was later named A.D. SHADD

A Historic Monument: when a fugitive slave arrived in Buxton through the Underground Railroad, the large bell in the Mission school rang to celebrate their arrival and new found freedom.  This is on a road that was later named A.D. SHADD

Grocery Shopping.. Turned Interview
I can deal with the questions about the colour of our skin, or when children ask if I'm his nanny.  However, it's the arrogance of some people in our society and the thoughtlessness of their words that I'm not always prepared for. As I was brainstorming for this blog, I was reminded of a time my husband and I were in the hospital with my son. The doctor came in, looked at my husband, looked at me, looked at our child and laughed as he asked, "So, is this the baby daddy?"
I had to do everything in my power to keep my husband in his seat, because that was about as rude and ignorant as anyone could be, to a blended family.  He then continued to talk to us like my husband was uneducated, or that we were irresponsible. He continued on to mock our marriage with terms such as, baby daddy and baby mama.
The examples don’t stop there. I can't count the number of times, that a store clerk has looked at my son and said to me, “Is he yours?”
I think what floors me, is that we live in a very advanced society, yet still these questions, comments and statements leave peoples mouths with no reservations. 
As I'm working through all of this and my children grow older, the issues will evolve and change.  Now my greatest worry is the comments, as our kids become increasingly aware of our differences. As my children grow, I could be faced with more dangerous issues due to their race. Issues that I never even thought about when I was first married, when our kids were just babies in diapers. I never even imagined. I pray that sharing more stories and experiences, on the topic of raising biracial children, will help other parents and kids that are in similar family dynamics. 



Meet The Mothershop!

Today, I spent a half hour in the car with a screaming toddler.  A soon to be threenager, to be exact, who is still deep in the throes of the terrible twos.  After living her whole life in Beverly Hills, my daughter Presley thinks outerwear is the devil.  Alas, we live in New England now.  The pink Baby Gap puffer vest I put on her today was basically a death sentence.  She cried all the way to the pumpkin patch.  We (my husband, my mother, and I) arrived at the farm and realized that starting with the wine tasting was probably the best idea.  Yep, reinforcements were needed, the pumpkins would have to wait.  Presley was actually a dream the rest of the day.  She realized that 50 degrees at the pumpkin patch is friggin' cold, and that the vest actually had a purpose.  Three tastings, one hayride, and one giant pumpkin later, we returned home.  She loved the fall weather so much she wanted to stay outside playing... all while wearing the previously repugnant vest!  Yes, these little triumphs are my life these days.  Sad, but true.  If only a day of fun didn't have to start with a kicking, screaming, snotting tantrum....

When I was pregnant, I had all the ambitions of using cloth diapers, of only allowing my daughter a few very special toys, of personally engaging her mind with my every waking moment, and lovingly blending homemade purees of organic fruits and vegetables into the ultimate baby food.... But then life happened and I'm using Pampers, stepping on a veritable carpet of Little People and sharp Disney princesses, letting Sesame Street be my babysitter here and there, and more often than not I'm relying on the organic farming of Peter Rabbit in line at Starbucks... And that's ok.  That's realistic, and that's my life.

This blog will be all about these kind of real moments.  Have you seen those blogs with the 98 lb pregnant women running around the city outside their multimillion dollar penthouses, chasing their toddlers in 5 inch heels, and telling you where to buy their Givenchy bag?  "Like it to Know It".... More like "like it to know I can't afford it".... This blog is real. And don't get me wrong!  I love Givenchy. I love designer labels, toddler swag, childrens' fashion, amazing kids products, the whole deal... I like to have the best of the best (without breaking the bank) and tell you all where to find it.  Hence the constant shopping, and the constant search for the newest hottest gear. Hence, The Mothershop.  We like to call it "affordably luxe" living.

My partner is shopping constantly.  And I mean, constantly. Don't judge her. These products are ours.  No one is paying us to plug their products, we are featuring them... because we LIKE them!  The photos are mine, taken by yours truly.  (Although for special shoots with our girls we DO hire a pro, let's be real).  We hand pick the best clothing, products, and toys, and let you know how to easily attain these gems.  Our core angles are simple: realistic parenting, good stuff for cheap, healthy food with little to no work, and relatable mommy moments.

Sometimes, I brush out my curly hair.  Gotta get those rat nests out about once a week, right?  Curly haired people will truly understand this.  I do this when a shower is looming in my near future, but sometimes stuff happens, the shower gets pushed back, and I'm stuck with this nasty frizz ball in a topknot for 24 hours!  My point is, life is far from picture perfect.  But when I do capture perfect moments, that perfect #OOTD, or my new favorite thing, I like to post it here.  Enjoy, and welcome.

Kristen is the co-owner of "The Mothershop" and you can find them here:

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Growing Up Glad- The Inspiration

By: Kimberly Gladsden

The idea for this blog came to me when my youngest daughter was graduating Pre-K. She is very shy and for the past 2 years, her teachers have told me to work on her self-confidence. As a former Mental Health and Elementary School Guidance Counselor, I thought, how can this be? I use everything I have learned about self-esteem and child development when parenting and raising my girls. I am always using positive reinforcements, praise, and giving her so much love. I saw it too though, and knew the teachers were right. I began researching more ways to boost a child's self-esteem. I was implementing journal affirmations, reading books on the topic to her, and doing special things at home to give her a boost. 

At the same time, Ella was expressing an interest in modeling. She loves taking pictures and is very into fashion. She currently doesn't like group sports the way her older sister does. I thought this could be an interesting hobby for her, and a way to build up her self-confidence. I was stumped at the paradox! How can this shy little girl be a model?  She had done some local photo shoots and really enjoyed it though. The photographers even complimented her and encouraged us to pursue it. I wasn't quite ready though to go the route of an agency. It's a huge commitment and quite a drive for us. I also didn’t want to expose her to any un-necessary rejection, especially since my goal was to help her self-confidence.
So, I decided to start an Instagram account. I thought it would be a good platform to start with pictures. It could be at our own pace; so we could keep it fun. I wanted the picture- taking to be an outlet for her as something she enjoys and can feel good about. It could be one way she gains more self-confidence- by doing something she enjoys. I was going to look into Brand Rep/Ambassador opportunities on Instagram.

Since I wanted to share the story behind the pictures, I was tinkering around with the idea of a blog. The name Growing Up Glad literally popped into my head as I was driving to camp one day. I started formulating the idea of incorporating my knowledge and experience from my graduate degrees, along with my work and parenting experiences. I wanted to create a space where like-minded parents can feel supported and relate to similar experiences. We can learn from and support one another.  Instead of comparing, criticizing, and competing, I want to create a space to inspire, connect, and learn from one another. 
My goal for this blog is to focus on topics about living life mindfully and raising girls (all children) with gratitude, gladness, giving and of course, glamour!

In The Blink Of An Eye

MY WIFESTYLES

by: Clarissa Esquivel

Hello, my name is Clarissa. I am a wife of 3 years and a mother of 2 little’s. If you would’ve asked me 5 years ago, what I wanted to do with my life after graduating high school, my answer wouldn’t have been getting married and having babies at such a young age. Honestly, I was just so young and enjoying myself, maybe being a little rebellious and naive I felt like I had all the time in the world to grow up, so I was in no rush to do so. Until I rekindled a high school fling, with my now husband. Him coming back into my life right after high school was such an eye opener. I never realized how lucky I was to have had him back then, he truly changed my life and changed my heart. My once, “I don’t care what people think about me” attitude, had completely changed into “I want people to be proud of who I am… I want to be proud of who I am”, and it was all because of him. 


We came to a point in our relationship, where we started making goals. My boyfriend, now husband, was a full time student with a full time job at a super market while I was attending online college, still unsure with what I wanted to be. We started talking a lot about our future, and by future I meant marriage and babies. Not being so sure on a specific timeline, we would catch ourselves talking about baby names or “what if’s”. Once again being naive and in love, I was so excited to grow old, especially with him. Although I was always such good friends with my husband since we were 13 years old, not even 5 months into an actual boyfriend and girlfriend relationship, we were pregnant. At that time, we had a lot of family and friends disappointed in us. We were only 18-19 years old living at home, with no career. Even though deep down inside, we were so happy. We knew we had to grow up, and grow up quick. 

Not even in a blink of an eye, we were in a new apartment with a new baby. My husband, boyfriend at the time, was still working full time and going to school full time. Wishing I could go to work to help out with family bills, I knew I wouldn’t get hired anywhere that paid well, being pregnant. We had to live on a super tight budget, which I knew would happen being such young parents and barley starting out. Right after my son was born, my husband and I started working on our future plans. First on the list was to get married, in the catholic church. We started taking marriage classes, and started going through the process of getting my husband baptized into the catholic church. 

We planned a date! We had a wedding date set to January 2013. When my son turned 4 months old, I started working as a pharmacy tech at Target. I was only part time so I could save whatever money we had left over after the holidays, for our wedding. As soon as my son turned 9 months, I found out I was 2 months pregnant with my daughter. We were in complete disbelief, as I was on birth control and we were using protection, but it was as real as can be. All my morning sickness was proof of that (and also a trip to the doctors for an ultrasound). Even though we were not ready to become parents to another human being, we had no choice but to focus on growing our family a little faster. All the money we saved for our wedding went on a down payment to a better neighbourhood and a bigger home, trading in our cars for a more family friendly vehicle, and putting aside a huge wedding for a small wedding up north with just immediate family. 

All these changes have made it harder to focus on each other, but on July 5th, 2012 we got married in Sedona, AZ (I was 4 months pregnant). Being so in love at the time, we had no choice but to rush back to reality and figure out ways to support 2 kids. My husband got a better paying job, which came in perfect time because at 5 months I was put on bed rest for having early contractions. 


January 11th, 2013 our life was taken over by our beautiful daughter. She had us all wrapped around her little fingers. The first 8th months of her life were pretty scary, as we were faced with a birth defect called Metopic Synostosis. My daughter had to deal with Nero Surgeons and Plastic surgeons, and eventually had surgery, that left her in the NICU at Phoenix Children for 5 days. She had 2 blood transfusion, and a brand new look. 

Which leaves us to today… My son now 4 years old, my daughter now 2. We live in a comfortable 1 story home, in a small town, and we own 2 family cars. After having several different types of jobs, we came to realize the best job for me is being the mother and wife I am at home. My husband still works at the same job he has had for 3 years, and travels from time to time. It seems each year we grow more and more as a couple, and parents. We are living life to the fullest, and trying to keep our kids happy. We would love for you all to follow us on this journey of our day to day lives, please feel free to join us over at www.mywifestyles.com

Favourite Baby Stores

By: Nicole Leger

When I found out I was pregnant in May of last year, it was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. It now feels like centuries ago that I scanned through the aisles of Toys “R” Us desperately trying to figure out what I would need. As I gained experience with my own baby (and read a ridiculous amount of articles online), I started buying items that I thought were practical but also items that caught my attention because they were unique. Stores such as Carter’s, Gap Toys “R” Us, etc., have a great selection of items but sometimes you just want baby items that you can’t find in the big box stores. Luckily, the Internet has made it incredibly easy to find the cutest and unique baby products and has allowed me to do so while supporting Canadian business owners, many of them mamas themselves. When I was asked to write a post for Diapers & Lipgloss, I jumped at the chance. I had spent countless hours browsing through websites and Facebook pages over the last 7 ½ months to find the cutest baby items and I was excited to share the amazing Canadian creations I had found. 

So without further ado, let me introduce you to five of my favourite baby items.

#1 Maxaloones

One of the biggest issues I experienced with the clothes I received at my baby showers is that my little one always seems to be between sizes. It would be so nice to have pants that could adjust, I thought to myself. Fortunately, after many web searches, I discovered pants called maxaloones. These pants offer a huge range in size. This is due to the stretchiness of the fabric used and due to the waist and leg cuffs that can be folded or unfolded as the child grows. These pants are often marketed to mamas who use cloth diapers since regular pants are not usually big enough to comfortably fit over the cloth diaper. This doesn’t mean these pants don’t look just as good on babies who wear disposable diapers. 

There are many vendors who sell such pants but Sew Hip Designs and Pure Colour Baby caught my attention due to their cute patterns.

Sew Hip Design
Victoria, British Columbia
Cost: Maxaloons from 3M to 12t, $34.80 and 12M to 4t, $39.80
Where to purchase: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SewHipDesignsCA

Kate Coles, owner of Sew Hip Design, has always has a passion for sewing. As with many mom entrepreneurs, she started out by making unique clothes for her two boys. Friends were drawn to her designs, then, friends of friends, and from there the business blossomed. All Sew Hip items are made from 100% organic cotton and feature unique and custom printed designs. They have two sizes for most pants: Baby (3m-12m) and Toddler (12m-4t). The best part? These pants get softer as baby wears and lives in them. I love clothes that is made to last! 

The grey Maxaloones with anchors are my favourite but I really do love all the designs.

Pure Colour Baby
Kingston, Ontario
Cost: Miniloones, $32 and Maxaloones, $38
Where to purchase: http://purecolourbaby.com/  

I first heard about Pure Colour Baby when I was shopping at a local craft market. The fun and modern prints caught my attention and I knew I had to reach out to Lindsay Down, the owner, to feature her shop. Her desire to start this business originated from the lack of modern, stylish and well-made baby items on the mass market. Lindsay had sewn home decor items for many years but her children inspired her to create this beautiful line of clothing. The most popular items on Pure Colour Baby’s website are the maxaloones, harem pants and slouchy beanies for the Fall/Winter season. 
I purchased the camping bear maxaloones for my little guy and was amazed at the quality of the pants. They are incredibly soft and although they are a little big right now around the waist (my mini is tiny for his age), I can easily adjust the pants to fit the length of his legs.

#2 Night lights

Veille sur toi
Montreal, Quebec
Cost: $44

Where to purchase: http://www.veillesurtoi.com

As a child, I was terrified of the dark. I remember always having a night light in my room but they were always so boring. If only Veille sur toi had existed back then. Veille sur toi, which means watch over you in French, produces the cutest glass nightlights you will ever see. In fact, Karine Foisy’s creations are so memorable that she won a contest that pitted her against the best Etsy shop owners from Quebec. Additionally, one of her nightlights can be seen in the movie Southpaw featuring Jake Gyllenhal. How cool is that! I know I am not the only one who has fallen in love with her many adorable designs. 

I knew I had to purchase the fox nightlight as soon as I saw it as it matched the décor in my son’s room perfectly. At night, the nightlight provides the perfect amount of light for late night feedings and diaper changes. During the day, it is the perfect piece of artwork for my little one’s room.

#3 Teething Necklaces and Accessories

Teething necklaces have been a lifesaver for me over the past couple of months even though my 7½ month old has yet to start teething. I am still adapting to life as a mom and at times I’m not always on top of things. I have so many things to pack when I leave the house. Inevitably, I always forget something to keep my baby occupied. Luckily, teething necklaces allow me to always have a toy within arms reach. These necklaces have been useful when trying to keep my little monkey busy while nursing and during diaper changes (seriously, he refuses to stay still while I change his diaper). They have also allowed me to wear jewelry again. I had given up wearing necklaces as my little guy kept ripping them off my neck. 

This category was difficult to put together. There are three teething jewelry companies that I absolutely adore and I couldn’t leave any of them out. These shops feature non-toxic silicone accessories that are safe for kids, with proper adult supervision of course. All necklaces feature a breakaway safety clasp, are washable with soap and water, or if you’re like me and never seem to get dishes done, they are also dishwasher safe. 

Loulou Lollipop Finery, Vancouver, Canada 

Cost: Necklaces priced between $24.64 and $36.96; Donut Teether is $34.22

Where to buy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/louloulollipopfinery

Loulou Lollipop Finery was founded by two sisters, Eleanor and Angel. Eleanor, an interior designer, was working crazy hours every day in her previous job. After having her first baby, Eleanor realized this wasn’t in line with the family life she wanted, so she decided to stay home with her baby. The idea of creating a line of teething accessories came to her in 2014 as she was searching for accessories to wear that were safe to chew and tug while still being stylish. It was only in April 2015 that Loulou Lollipop Finery was finally created. 

Loulou Lollipop Finery offers beautiful and stylish teethers, bangles and necklaces in set designs and also provides the option to customize products to suit any taste. My favourite items from this shop are the Grace teething necklace, which I bought to match my favourite Boob Design nursing sweater dress, and the Donut Teether, which is a Loulou Lollipop Finery original design.

Glitter and Spice
Vancouver, British Columbia
Cost: Necklaces priced between $27 and $40; Cookie Teether is $34
Where to buy: http://www.glitterandspice.ca

Glitter and Spice was created by Lorene Mah’s desire to find a stylish, chic and safe necklace for her child. While she did not experience any teething issues with her first child, it was a different story with the second. Her initial searches for fashionable teething accessories had been disappointing and she took it upon herself to create a line of fashion forward teething products. Since opening her shop in March 2015, she has enjoyed enormous success. Her products have caught the attention of several trendy fashion magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue U.K. and Glamour U.K. Not to mention she was invited to the Emmy’s Gifting Suite to show off her gorgeous designs. What an accomplishment! 

My favourite products include the Laurel and Olivia necklaces, as well as the Cookie Teether. I purchased the Laurel necklace to wear at a wedding. The necklace did not disappoint. It suited my formal dress perfectly and also helped my little one keep quiet during the entire ceremony! He was the last baby standing and I couldn’t have done it without Glitter and Spice’s gorgeous necklace. 

Mini Chic
Montreal, Quebec
Cost: necklaces are priced between $20 to $28
Where to buy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/minichicaccessoires

Mini Chic, owned by Joy Delgado, was the first company I discovered when I was looking for a teething necklace. Similarly to Glitter and Spice and Loulou Lollipop Finery, Joy was not satisfied with the teething products available to her. She wanted to create products that would meet her needs, as well as those of her baby’s. Passionate about DYI projects and everything that involves maternity, Joy created a colourful line of teething accessories that would be sure to please any mom’s taste. It was love at first sight with one of her designs and to this day, the necklace I purchased from Mini Chic remains my son’s favourite teething item. The variety of colours and bead shapes helped distract my son over the course of a two-week trip to Prince Edward Island this summer and kept his little hands busy during the 13-hour drive. 

#4 Knitted hats 

Princesse Zhibou
Quebec, Quebec
Cost: hats are typically priced between $32 and $36
Where to purchase: https://www.etsy.com/shop/princessezhibou

 

There are few products that have gotten me as excited as the beautiful creations in the Princesse Zhibou shop, owned by Sophy Gill. I wish I could be a kid again so I could beg my parents to buy me a hat in each of the animal designs. Sophy’s passion for knitting and crochet began shortly before finding out she was pregnant.  Her first projects were blankets and hats for her little one on the way and eventually her business grew beyond that. Her objective is to create cute items that both parents and kids can appreciate and she has definitely succeeded in doing so. The hats she sells come in a variety of sizes (0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-24 months, 2-4 years, 5-10 years) but would be perfect to gift to an expectant mama for baby pictures. Although the animal hats caught my attention the most, she also makes hats and clothing for adults, scarves, stuffed animals, personalized blankets, and other items upon request. 

Sophy was kind enough to send me a hat for my little guy to test out. Picking out my favourite animal hat was such a difficult task. I ended up choosing the Koala due to the neutral colours but I honestly loved them all. I was even more impressed not only by the quality of the hat but also that the picture on the etsy shop was an accurate representation of the product I received. 

#5 Babywearing hoodie

Belly Bedaine
St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec
Cost: 84$

Where to purchase: Find a Belly Bédaine retailer near you (look for one with an English name if you want to order in English) or shop directly from their online boutique (French only).

When I was shopping for registry items, I never thought that a baby carrier would be one of my most treasured items. My carrier has helped me keep my sanity while caring for a colicky baby. My dilemma was that my little guy was during the winter months and the weather made it difficult to go outside. What was I to do? Belly Bedaine’s babywearing sweater was the solution. This sweater is perfect for the chilly Canadian Fall or Spring weather and is available in black or grey and in sizes XS to XXL (sizes 3XL and 4XL available upon request),

I love this sweater not only because it is designed and made in Quebec but because it is so versatile. It can be used as a standalone sweater without the baby by cinching the opening, as a nursing sweater and as a babywearing sweater with the use of a baby carrier. It is perfect for wearing for both a front and back carry and looks great worn either way. There’s even a version available with a pocket at the front and the back for mamas with twins or two young children. The material is perfect for keeping both you and your little one cozy and the side zipper allows you easily put the sweater on or to take it off. 

You can follow Nicole:

Instagram: @nicole_emma25

Twitter: @_nicole_emma

 

 

Introducing Fur Babies to a New Baby

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My husband and I welcomed our third baby, Miia, into our family in January 2015. Our first baby, Dublin, is a Jack Russel / Chihuahua / Beagle mix and our second baby, Sally, is a street dog from Mexico who we adopted through T.E.A.M. Dog Rescue.  We always knew our first baby was not fond of human babies as we experienced a few scary situations (scary as in biting tots, yikes is right) and we weren’t quite sure how our second baby would fare. She came from the streets and probably never interacted with human babies. So, we had quite the challenge ahead of us. We read a bunch of books, researched websites and watched a few good Caesar Milan episodes and we felt prepared. Note that, if it failed, we (luckily) had TWO families (mine and my husband’s) that were willing to adopt our pups until human baby grew to human size but we obviously didn’t want it to come to that.  
So here it goes, a list of all the things we did for our fur babies, pre and post human baby arrival.  

1)    TUMMY TIME: No, not that kind. I put the pups on my belly ALL THE TIME. I let them nap there, listen to the heart beat and get all warm and cozy around my belly. I talked to them about what was in there and how awesome it was going to be when he/she arrived. I made sure that they never jumped on my belly or got too excited around that area. My belly became our chill zone.  
2)    OUR NEW HOUSE: We got the pups used to the new things in the house: the stroller, the crib, the playpen – all the places human baby would be hanging out. Who knows if this really made a difference but it was fun to talk to the dogs as if they totally knew what was going on.  
3)    SMELLS, SMELLS AND MORE SMELLS: We brought blankets and clothes home from the hospital and let the fur babies sleep with them. Note: Miia was born 7 weeks early and we spent 5 weeks in the NICU so we had A LOT of time to get the pups used to her new baby smells.   
4)    THE BIG INTRODUCTION: So this is a really important one. When we brought human baby into the house, we made sure the fur babies knew that they were still important and loved.  So Dad held the baby while Mom said hello and held and pet the pups. And then Dad gave the baby to Mom and paid attention to the pups. 
5)    BRIBERY: In this particular case, I was all about the bribery. When the pups behaved well around human baby, we rewarded them with treats. We also just gave them treats whenever they were close to the baby so that they would start to associate treats with human baby … which brings me to my next point. 
6)    ALL GOOD THINGS: We associated all good things with human baby. Walks, cuddles, treats, playtime. If you do this, your dog will start to think, a- ha, this baby ain’t so bad, good things happen when we’re around this little person.    
7)    HELLO! EVERY MORNING: Every morning, to this day, I bring Miia downstairs and say “Hello!” to the pups individually. She is at the age where she recognizes them and tries to pet them and pull on their ears. I stress the word “gentle” to both the fur babies and the human baby during this interaction.  
8)    TRUST: Trust them, like 90% of the way. Never trust them 100%. They are animals. All of them. Lol.  
9)    LOVE YOUR DOGS: Love your dogs. Shower them in love. Make sure they know that no matter what happens in life, they will always be important and loved. 

Now for the burning question: Did this work for us? Well … for our street mutt, Sally, yes. She was an instant lover and protector of human baby. Dublin on the other hand HATED her. HE HATED HER. He would lunge at her and growl and snarl at her. I walked around the house constantly on guard, stressed and, well, sad. I couldn’t take it anymore so after a week of hell, we sent both dogs up to the in-laws for a few weeks. Dublin was happy to be away from human baby and was spoiled and loved by the in-laws. Then we would go there for visits (with human baby) and love him and spoil him. We brought him home again a few weeks later and something miraculous happened. I sat on the couch to nurse Miia and he sat beside me. He just chilled there for a minute and then he gave her a kiss on her little tiny foot. I could finally breathe. Now, I actually have to pull him off of her because he loves kissing her so much.

I’m not sure why there was such a drastic turnaround but I think Dublin finally realized that he wasn’t being replaced, that he would be loved unconditionally … and that this baby wasn’t going anywhere. 
I guess, sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much you read and research and train and bribe and preach and scold or praise.  Sometimes, the only answer is love. 

Guest Blog Post
Author: Joline Matika-Raty

A contribution from Joline Matika-Raty – Group Account Director at kbs+ (http://www.kbsp.ca/wp/), event coordinator at T.E.A.M. Dog Rescue (http://teamdogrescue.org/), social media and community manager of Mama Raty’s Authentic Finnish Meat Pies (https://www.facebook.com/mamaraty), wife, and mama of three*. Joline shares her funny and insightful experience introducing her little baby Miia to her two fur babies, Dublin and Sally. Follow Joline on Instagram at @jolinematikaraty. 

 

 

 

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“Coach yourself through it, momma…”

I consider myself a pretty easy going, not much ruffles my feathers, loving life kind of gal.  I teach yoga, so I’ve studied how to chill out.  I’m a former Radio City Rockette, so I’m used to handling intensity and exhaustion.  So, why are these meeting of minds and battle of wills with my toddlers so beyond challenging?!  

 
My name is Amy Griffith, creator of my own prenatal yoga DVD’s and boss momma at www.ExercisingBalance.com   I have 2 super fab kiddos.  Clara is 19 months and Wesley is 4 1/2 years old.  My Wes-Man has always kept us on our toes.  He never slept through the night on a regular basis until just recently.  The 2 year old phase hit, then the 3 year old phase.  Hello!  There was a moment when I considered only having one child because, man, it’s HARD WORK!!! But, we made it through, as we always do. 

After many articles, blogs, and these goodies they teach us in yoga, I am learning how to “coach myself through” these challenging moments. Here are my top 5 reminders, tips, mantras, whatever you’d like to call them.  They will get you through, but you’ve got to commit and believe, beauty... 

“I can do this.”  Have you ever said this to yourself, mommies?  No?  You absolutely should!  It’s what gets me through those moments when I doubt myself.  We all need a cheerleader, and sometimes you don’t have the opportunity to call your “life line” on the phone.  So, that’s where multitasking mom comes in.  You are your own cheerleader.  Say it silently in your head or chant that puppy out loud.  “I can do this!”  Look at yourself in the mirror, maybe give a solo fist bump, take a deep breath and then proceed, my Warrior Mom! 
 
“It’s a phase.”  Ahhhh….. I know, I know, you’ve heard this one before, but it’s the truth so don’t get hung up here.  I know it feels like for...e...ver… when you’re waiting for your child to practice putting on their socks, buttoning their shirt, clipping the buckle on the stroller.  Or those newborn moments when you’re waiting, pacing, praying, hiding, sending telepathic communication, tiptoeing and collapsing while you try to get them to sleep.  It is all incredibly taxing, but in the end, it’s short lived.  It’s just a phase and will pass before you realize your shirt is on inside out…. Again… 
This mantra plays on repeat for me right now as my 19 month old begins to express independence that doubles our time getting out the door.  But how can I resist letting her try repeatedly, to fasten the velcro on her shoe.  A girl’s gotta learn somehow.

Clara Shoe.jpg

“His actions are not my own.”  (I wish I could give credit to where I read this from, but I can not remember.  It was somewhere on Internet-Land.  Thank you for this mantra, whoever you are…) This one is gold when you are trying to calm yourself down before you explode like Mount Vesuvius!  There are times when my 4 year old acts out in such a nasty way that I want to retort with the same nastiness.  I may have actually thrown my shoe across the room out of sheer madness and frustration.  ( → not proud of that ←) It was a huge wake up call for me though.  When I feel myself absorb my son’s meltdown or tantrum, I repeat “His actions are not my own” as many times as I need to.  When I realize this, I’m able to handle the situation with clearer focus and I act independently from his emotion.  I am the adult.  I am calm and capable of displaying the proper behavior and I can do this without flipping out!  “I can do this without flipping out.”  That might be a lovely addition to our first tip.
 
“Stop. Breathe.”  Just F-ing Breathe!!!!  Yes, I’ve told myself this before… in that tone.   Ok, that doesn’t work as well when you’re trying to breathe through clenched teeth.  So, may I recommend, stopping before erupting. Maybe you even walk out of the room. Close your eyes and take 3 slow, deep breaths.  If there’s one thing yoga has taught me, it’s that focused breathing makes a world of difference in moments of stress.  Wake up that parasympathetic nervous system and bring your body back to a happy place so that you can relax, focus and handle the situation with a calmer, clearer head.  I coached myself through this mantra when I was frustrated (i.e. tired) at the end of the day during teeth brushing.  I calmed down, took a look in the mirror and realized I could let go of the grip I was holding onto and let them figure it out.  

“Tomorrow is fresh start.”  Sometimes at the end of an exhausting day, I collapse on my bed and am grateful that we get to close the book on that one.  I remind myself that after a shower and that dear old friend, Sleep, I can wake up with a recharged battery.  I’m given another chance to work on this role of motherhood.   

We do the best we can, some days we soar, some days we stumble.  I encourage you to quiet down the outside noise and really take a look at what is in front of you… A whole lot of love that you created.  Life is full, crazy, and beautiful.  Coach yourself through the tough spots and soak in the goodness of the moment you’re in.  I promise, you can always find something to be grateful for.  You’ve got this, momma!  You’ve got this.  

Visit Amy at www.ExercisingBalance.com to follow her blog, check out her prenatal yoga DVD’s and connect on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amygriffithexercisingbalance

Instagram: ExercisingBalance

Twitter: https://twitter.com/exercisebalance

AMY GRIFFITH, RYT, CPYT, Prenatal Yoga



 

"Please God Don't Let Me Screw This Up: Hope & Help From a Mom of Fifteen."

By Lyette Reback

We all struggle with it.
We all come to parenting with our own baggage, our own challenges, our own character flaws and because we love our children so desperately, we try like hell to help them avoid all those same mistakes.
I felt inadequate when I had one child. I felt completely incapable when I had two children. By the time I learned that Bliss was on the way due just shy of Daly Kay's third birthday, I thought there was absolutely no way I could handle three kiddos.
And I was right.
I couldn't.
But God...
But God stepped in and gave me so much grace to parent that even a fool like me managed to survive three children under the age of three. Even someone as short-tempered, unorganized, and incapable as Lyette Reback.
I write this because this past Saturday evening I took my youngest twelve to the park. It seemed like an eternity from naptime until bedtime and I needed them tuckered out and sleeping. I didn't have the patience that night to listen to them fool around in their bedrooms till 10:30 - I wanted them tired.
I was already tired.

So I show up and there is this group of adorable young mamas with their children....about six kids between the three of them, all under six years old.
They saw me coming and as soon as they realized I was the mom, and I was pregnant again, I got the usual barrage of questions that range from the incredulous and most times to the confounded.
How do you do it? I can barely handle the two I have? You must be so:
Organized.
Patient.
Loving.
Kind.
Energetic.
Scheduled.

Quite frankly, I had truly had a long, tough day...I had gone to bed at 2am the night before and woken up at 4am as my husband and my oldest three daughters left for a triathlon in Milwaukee. What I wanted to do, if I could have, is grab those young mommies and hug them. I wanted to tell them that I felt just as inadequate as they do. Just as incredulous at my family as they were. Just as stupefied and confounded as they were. Raising kids, whether you have one or twenty of them is a tough as hell job and truthfully it's a wonder any of us make it through this ultimate test of faith at all.
I wanted to tell them I go to bed worrying if I did it right today and most days I can list off at least my top ten mistakes. I wanted to reassure them that God's grace covers up their mistakes and their children love them to pieces and won't remember 99% of what their mothers did wrong anyhow. I wanted to hug them and tell them that we are all just doing our very best at the very toughest job the world has ever known: parenthood.
I wanted to tell them that parenting is a refining tool that most times shows us how ridiculously short we are of the human beings we hope our kids have even half a shot of becoming. I wanted to love on them and tell them that as hard as toddlerhood is, enjoy how easy today was...it's all prep work for the future.
But instead I bumbled my way through the conversation mostly struggling with receiving all their compliments when I was feeling so inadequate myself.
So see, we all struggle with inadequacy. The answer is to reach out to our loving friends, sisters in Christ, empathetic women a little further down the road than we are in our parenting, and know that everybody struggles. Everyone needs encouragement. Everyone thinks they are screwing this job up.
Which is why I titled my first book: Please God Don't Let Me Screw This Up!
And even though I have screwed up plenty, He never has. He has remained faithful to be a very real help and my only source of true wisdom.
We can be sure that if we place our trust in Him and His leading...He will guide us through and direct our paths. Even as we bumble along in our own inadequacy.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6

Lyette Reback is wife to David and mom to 15 children, ages ranging from 20 to two-years-old. With her vast experiences in parenting, Lyette loves to encourage moms and dads and give hope and solutions for the modern challenges of parenting. Lyette is also the author of "Please God Don't Let Me Screw This Up: Hope & Help From a Mom of Fifteen."

You can follow Lyette's journey on: 

Twitter: @LyetteReback
FB: Lyette Reback & Believe With Me
Instagram: @LReback
Website: TheRebacks.com

Lyette just released her first book. To lean more, please click on the link below: 

 http://therebacks.com/products/please-god-dont-let-me-screw-this-up/
 

 

 

My Story As A Motherless Mother

On the day my beautiful daughter was born, it had been 21 years that I had lived without my mother. My mother died when I was 11 years old. The day she died, was the worst day of my life.  There was a time in my life when I honestly never thought I would make it to motherhood. I had a rough childhood, to say the least. 

 Cuddles with my Mum.

Cuddles with my Mum.

Firstly, you need to know the kind of mother I had, because my life is truly inspired by her. She was a successful, creative woman in the world of advertising during the 80’s. At a time when many of my friend’s Moms were stay-at home, she was hustling. In the evenings, she moonlighted as a director at a funky dinner theatre in downtown Toronto.  The stage was her true love. She was an English rose, who could light up any scene.  You could often find her at a cute little Parisian restaurant at Yonge & Davisville, serenading the late night dinner crowd by the grand piano. That was my Mum. She was more than special, she was exceptional and unfortunately, she had exceptionally bad taste in men.  Introducing my father; successful 80’s Bay street man, turned womanizing, alcoholic, delinquent father. But this is truly a whole other story to be told at another time. 

 My parent's wedding day.

My parent's wedding day.

Several weeks after my mother died, I was pulled out of my grade 5 classroom by a social worker from Children's Services. She drove me to my home to collect my things. Once we arrived at my front door, she handed me a very large black garbage bag and told me that I could only take what fit in the bag. I was in shock. Are you kidding me, I thought?! She wasn’t kidding. I did what I was told and stuffed as much as I could get in the bag. When the car pulled away from my little white house, my heart broke, because I knew that part of my life was over. My family was officially broken, ruined forever and I would never touch or see my mother’s things again. 

My Mother’s second cousin and his wife, took me and my sister in. Apparently, my mother had planned all of this before her passing, God bless her, but she had no idea what a disastrous choice that was. What else was she to do? She was 39 years old, with 3 young girls, dying of cancer, with a major loser of a husband. A husband who would be gone until the wee hours of the morning, then to return home and wake up her kids in a drunken rage. She had no choice and as a mother I totally get it. Let’s just say the next 6 years of my life was mental warfare. This lady did not want us in her home and she made that clear from the get go. Among her first comments were, “If it wasn’t for me, you would be shuffled around foster care, probably being sexually abused”… I will save the rest of those memories for my memoir, but I think you get the picture. Although, I have to say they did send me to one of the best private schools in Toronto, where I received a great education and discovered my love of running. Running competitively is what kept me sane those 6 years. I’m very thankful for that.

Well, fast forward another 12 years, (there are some incredible stories in there as well, let me tell you!) after several failed long relationships I was set up on a blind date with my now husband. In my opinion everyone needs some good long dramatically failed relationships before you find the one, or at least I did.  I was so over dating when we met that I literally didn’t even kiss the guy for two months, or hold his hand for that matter. We laugh so hard now about how I used to literally open his car door before he even stopped the car and jump out, so he couldn’t kiss me goodnight. Honestly, I think he slightly terrified me, because somewhere inside I knew he was the one. The one man I would truly trust with my life. 

 My wedding day. One of the happiest days of my life.

My wedding day. One of the happiest days of my life.

Fast forward, another 5 years and our beautiful baby girl was born, Charlotte Faith. Oh my god! That was among the best days of my life. My entire pregnancy was glorious, life just felt perfect. Trust me, my second pregnancy wasn’t so easy, until the birth. So I feel you if you’ve ever had a rough one. That first moment I held my girl was so miraculous and beautiful on a million different levels. If you’re a mom, then you know what I mean. Yes, I was sore as… you know what, but it was blissful. Once the first few hours had passed, we had some of our family and friends come to visit. We were so proud to show off our little girl.

 Me and my hubby with our baby girl.

Me and my hubby with our baby girl.

As the day turned into night, the pain of not having my own mother resurfaced like wildfire. There’s something about the nighttime that I think makes us all vulnerable. I felt so incredibly blessed to have my baby girl, yet felt so deeply sad that I didn’t have my own mother to share the incredible momentous joy with. In the first few months of being a mother I had many new emotions surface about being a Motherless mother. Don’t get me wrong, my mother-in-law is so loving and wonderful, but no one can fill the void of your own mother. 

I felt resentful that I didn’t have my mother to comfort me when I was exhausted, to call when I wasn’t sure what to do, to just be there for me. Mostly, the pain came from the realization that my beautiful mother, who I was so in-love with and idolized, would never hold my babies, never look into their beautiful eyes and never see them laugh. I felt heartbroken all over again. 

I struggled with these feelings for a while and then one day I said, enough. I had seen enough adults with issues in my day put their issues, childhood traumas, relationship failures, abandonment issues, past heartbreak etc.  on their children. I would NEVER be that kind of parent. I vowed it. My past, is my past. The loss I experienced is my loss, not my kids.  It’s not their burden. I want my kids to grow up lightheartedly, believing in everything, with free spirits and loving, kind hearts. The way my mother would have dreamed for me and my sisters to have grown up. That’s the kind of parent I would be. My past, is my story and my children will have their own pain (which I pray with all my heart, is minimal). They will experience their own joy, from their own life and their own experiences.

 Me with the loves of my life.

Me with the loves of my life.

Now a mother of two amazing kids and one on the way! I share all my beautiful memories of my mother with my children.  They call her Grandma in heaven and we always honor her memory and the incredible woman she was. There are many times I see my mother in the twinkle of my children’s eyes. It’s a beautiful thing when you can see your passed loved ones in your children’s eye.  It’s a true gift.   

I know that I’m one of the lucky ones. There were so many times I literally could have ended up on the street, alone and broken. I thank God, I have two of the most amazing sisters. We are thick as thieves and have each other’s backs always. It was us against the world for a long time.  As well as having my amazing girlfriends, I’ve had most of my life. And of course my husband, who is my best friend and my babies who literally rule my world. 

Life can be so brutal, painful and treacherous at times, but oh so breathtakingly beautiful, peaceful and amazing as well.  I guess my point in sharing is, the worst tragedies and pain can be followed by the most incredible gifts, lessons and also the ability to truly appreciate and enjoy life. 

 My family. 

My family. 

Love today, today is the gift. Tomorrow is not a promise. 

Vanessa is the Co-Host of Diapers & Lipgloss and the Co-Mommie Boss of Diapers & Lipgloss Inc., a parenting lifestyle brand. You can also catch Vanessa, this fall Co-Hosting Vanessa+Melissa, a parenting talk show on Rogers TV. 

www.vanessaandmelissa.com/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/diaperslipgloss/

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The Balancing Mama


 

I’m Elizabeth.  I’m a mom to Jack.  The love of my life.  

I also work full-time.  AKA ‘working mom’ I think is the term used.  I’m also a wife.  Needless to say, I wear many hats. Being a mom, I’m sure you also have a collection of hats that you wear.  Hopefully, some fabulous ones ☺
I’ve come to the realization that you can only wear one hat at a time.  Some days, I’m going to be really good at being a mom.  Some days, I’m going to be really good at my job.  And some days, I think I can pull off being an ok wife.  My point is it’s really hard to do it all.  Really hard.  I find that sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, and to “do it all”.  
This is a snapshot of me. One day of my life.  A mom.  A working mom.  A wife.  Someone, trying to do it all.  
5:45 am   I hear him.  The day has started.  The race is on.  Jack is an early riser.  (I know. You’re probably dying of shock right now).  Today is Tuesday.  A work day.  I quickly run in the shower, and get myself ready for the day.   When I’m done, Jack and my husband Sean, are usually lying in bed watching cartoons.
6:15 am  Jack and I head downstairs to get some breakfast.  He calls it “supper”.  Anything that involves eating is either a snack or supper.  

Jack has eaten two bites of breakfast.  Ugh.  I’ve cleaned up the squashed fruit and eggs off the floor.  I whip together some sort of lunch for me, and make myself and my husband a coffee.  Hopefully we can sit for 10 minutes together before heading out for the day.  Sean to work; Jack and I to daycare.  Lucky for us, Jack is madly in love with our daycare provider, Kristen.  She is a magical lady.  
We’re on our way!  It’s 7:15 am.

After a quick drop off – Jack is usually saying “bye-bye” and closing the door on me to leave, I head off to work. 
7:30 am Stop for coffee.  I usually drink an obscene amount of coffee throughout the day.  I really don’t sleep well – usually waking up thinking about what’s on my ‘to do list’.  I’m working on that with my Naturopath. She’s promised to fix me.   And yes, she has told me – lay off on the coffee.  

1:00 pm – I think it’s important to take time for yourself throughout the day – especially when you’re trying to do it all.  It’s nice to just have some personal time; quiet the mind for a minute or two.  One of my favourite places to go is the Bauer Bakery.  If you’ve never been to this place – it’s a must. Trust me.  Coffee and desserts.  How could you say no?  

5:15 pm – I’m working on wrapping up my day at work.  My husband Sean is usually on pick up duty from daycare, which is at 5:00.  My goal each day is to leave work by 5:30, at the latest, so I can spend some time with Jack before bed. 
5:40 pm.  I’m home.  As I mentioned its Tuesday, so its produce delivery day!  This is one of the things Jack loves.  We get a box of organic produce delivered (it saves time during the week going grocery shopping.  Time is valuable when you have a lot going on!).  Usually Jack and I open it together and see what came.

6:00 pm -we sit down to eat.  Actual ‘supper’.  I am proactive and have meals planned and prepped for the week.  This week, it didn’t happen due to a busy weekend.  Its chicken fingers (Jack’s favourite), veggies and whatever is left over in the fridge.  #momfail
6:40 pm - after some quick play time, it’s upstairs for bath.  

7:00 pm - story time.  Jack is obsessed with books.  He would have us reading to him all day if he could.  We try and limit story time to 3, depending on time.  

7:30 pm.  Jack is asleep.   I sit down on the couch and look at my husband.  Another day done.  We chat about our day.  This is usually the time when I realize how lucky I am.  I run through a quick list in my head.  
A wonderful little boy that is happy and healthy?  Check.  
A career that I enjoy?  Check.  
A wonderful husband – my partner in parenting?  Check.  
I think to myself:  “Sometimes I can do it all.  Life is good.”

Follow me on Instagram – @bettymc167

Back To School Basics with the moms from Backpacks to Bedtime

The retail stores have made it clear - the season is upon us – it is BACK TO SCHOOL.  It may be regarded as “the most wonderful time of the year” for some, but for many it may be adding stress or anxiety as they prepare to send their littles ones off to school, perhaps for the very first time.

Lots of our parent friends have been asking us for tips on how they can help their little ones get ready for their first school experience or simply, how to ease the transition of going back to school. 

As moms and teachers who have their own first day of school each September, these are the tricks we find most helpful in our own homes and our classrooms. 

Save yourself time and money by waiting to hear from the teacher what suggested items may be useful for your child in his/her classroom.
— Backpacks To Bedtime

1. Don’t feel pressure to buy, buy, buy.  You will see lists posted in retail stores, and be bombarded with commercials and flyers outlining essential school items.  Save yourself time and money by waiting to hear from the teacher what suggested items may be useful for your child in his/her classroom.

2. Focus on footwear.  Your child will likely need to have an indoor and an outdoor pair of shoes that he/she can play in safely.  In our experience indoor shoes are best if they are a comfortable pair of running shoes and kept at school for the year.  It is important that your child can manage them independently (if you can’t tie it, don’t buy it ☺ ).  Please also consider that “light up” shoes can trigger headaches and make it hard for some children to concentrate during the school day.

3. Spills, slips and accidents happen.  Send an emergency outfit with your child regardless of their age!  We find it easiest to pack this in a large Ziploc bag, flatten out the air and zip it into the front pocket of their backpack.  This will allow your child to discreetly change his/her clothes should there be a need, and prevent a phone call home or to your place of work for a change of clothes. 

4. Label everything! Whichever method you prefer, whether it is an actual label or a permanent marker used to initial the tags in their clothes, put your child’s name on all of their belongings – one could do some serious shopping in most school lost and found bins!  Do NOT trust your child to recognize their own stuff – it just doesn’t happen – trust us ☺

5. Stabilize the sleep schedule.  We get it!  From campfires to breakfast in bed, we fall out of routine during summer holidays.  Don’t wait until the night before school starts to adjust bedtime and morning routines.  The shock to your child’s system may cause some back-to-school chaos!  Slowly try to get a little closer to his/her school sleep schedule by backing up bedtime and setting the alarm clock a little earlier each week to make it easier on the whole family.

6. Lunch bag basics.  This is especially important for children just beginning their school experience.  We suggest packing his/her lunch several times before school starts and sitting down at the table together.  Be sure your child knows what a ‘snack’ is and what ‘lunch’ is; how to open and close the containers properly; that they have a limited amount of time to eat; and how to pack their containers back into the lunch bag. It’s important to check the school allergy policy and that you try “new food ideas” ahead of time so you feel confident in sending a lunch they enjoy.

7. They’ve got this!  Begin the school year off with YOUR child packing his/her own backpack.  We realize on the first day of school he/she may only have to pack a lunch bag and a water bottle but make him/her responsible for this task.  As parents, we understand morning chaos and trying to get out the door, but don’t take the ownership off of your child.  Feel free to double check what has been packed but understand this is an independent task when your child is at school. 

8. Start smart!  We understand a parent’s desire to take their child to school on the first day, or to do something special and out of the ordinary.  But do yourself and your child a favour and start his/her regular arrival and dismissal routine on that first day of school (if this means putting your child on the bus and following it to school so you can be there for the opening assembly, then do it.)  It may take up to a week to get back into the swing of things, however, the sooner you begin their “normal school routine”, the better!

We aren’t sure who we see more tears from – the students, the parents or the teachers?!  Trust us, when you’ve waved one more good bye, blown one more kiss through the window, and the classroom door closes, your child will become so involved in making friends, talking about summer and beginning their new learning journey, that before they know it, and before you know it, the first day is over and the new school year is officially underway!

Breathe deeply – you’ve got this!

Carrie and Erin

www.backpackstobedtime.com