Monday, September 27, 2010

Stride Everyday Panties | Review & Giveaway

Do you ever 'pee dance'?

You know, the 'pee dance''re so close to home and suddenly the urge hits and there's no fooling, you've got to pee.  You know you can make it, but you just have to get control for another couple minutes, or even seconds.

I am intimately familiar with the 'pee dance' and in truth have been doing it as long as I can remember.  As a child I remember clutching myself and squatting, rocking a bit, hoping I could make it the final few steps up the driveway.  When I lived in an apartment, as soon as I stepped into the elevator, it would hit me - every single time.

When I heard about Stride Everyday Panties, with a built in liner to keep you dry, I knew they would be perfect for the days that the 'pee dance' isn't quite so effective.  Stride panties come in a variety of styles, none of which are 'granny panties' because seriously if that was all Stride had to bring to the table, I'd rather just wear panty liners. 

I chose to test out the seamless panties; they were comfortable to wear, stayed in place and they lived up to their name, no visible panty line.  I have to be honest, so far, I haven't needed the leak protection any of the days that I have worn my Stride Everyday Panties, but knowing it was there gave me such peace of mind.  Perhaps that's why I didn't end up doing the 'pee dance' those days; the mind is a powerful thing after all.

Stride Everyday Panties are designed to hold up to an ounce of moisture, wick away moisture and keep you deodorized fresh.  They are machine washable (and handled laundering just fine at my house) and are designed to last up to 100 washes.

With prices starting at $14.99 a pair, Stride Everyday Panties are a little bit more expensive than my everyday panties, but then again, they aren't everyday panties are they?  I think they would be great for special occasions or those days when you know a washroom isn't going to be quite so accessible, perhaps on travel days?

If you do the 'pee dance' a little more than you'd like to admit, Stride Everyday Panties are worth checking out.  The great people at Stride Everyday have teamed up with the Momma Stuff Blog to give you all Free Shipping on orders over $30 AND we are giving away one free pair of Stride Everyday Panties in the size and style of your choice.

Coupon Code:
Free Shipping on Orders over $30
Enter Code: STUFF456
Expires November 30, 2010

Enter To Win:
One pair of Stride Everyday Panties in the Size/Style of winners choice

The First Entry is mandatory; all other entries will be disqualified if it is not included.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  

First Entry:
Check out the Stride Everyday Website and tell us why you want to try out Stride Everyday Panties.

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'Stride Everyday Panties' are Stylish & Functional | #Review & #Giveaway @Mommastuffblog  #CMTT 

Giveaway closes Sunday October 17th at 8pm.  Winner will be determined by a random number generator. Winner will be notified via email and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new name will be drawn and contacted.

Contest is now closed.  Congratulations to comment #11 Cherdon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

10 Tips for International Travel with an Infant

When the boy was 8 months old, we embarked on an international adventure, we spent 3 weeks traveling Asia.  We visited China, Hong Kong and Thailand, we went on organized tours, we visited my family's rural village and stayed in a resort.  To say we packed a lot into the trip would be an understatement.  Before we left, I scoured the internet for information on traveling with an infant, although there was a lot of information on flying with an infant, this was the only useful article I could find about actually traveling with an infant.

There were some very useful tips in the 2 for Couples Article and I'm so glad I found it before we departed; here are some tips based on my personal experiences, for traveling internationally with an infant.

  1. You may be a Super Mom, but you can't do it alone - if you think that staying home and tending house is a challenge, imagine juggling a hot and cranky baby, passports, paperwork and a full-bladder while waiting in an impossibly long line to clear customs.  You NEED to have someone to pass the baby off for those moments where you are getting extremely close to losing it.  I was fortunate enough to have my parents and two sets of aunts and uncles along for the ride, although the hubs had to stay home, they all made a huge difference at one time on another.

    During one leg of our journey, we had to take a fast ferry between Hong Kong and Mainland China.  As the boat started up there was no indication of how rough the journey would be except for the staff lady holding onto empty barf bags, her eyes steadily scanning the room.  Sadly, I am prone to motion sickness; I sat in the middle of the boat, my head between my knees and couldn't even consider the needs of the boy as I did my best to keep my lunch in my belly, unsuccessfully might I add. 

    Fortunately my Aunt happily played with the boy, and when it was time to get off the boat, she tucked him into the carrier, despite his screams, and toted him off the boat.  Thank goodness for help - I have no idea how I would have survived that particular boat trip without the support of my Aunt.

  2. Baby food is NOT readily available, so bring your own - The boy was eating solids at the time of our trip, but he certainly wasn't eating table food exclusively.  This was particularly challenging for us as I made him all his baby food at home, but that obviously wasn't going to work while we gallivanted Asia.

    I packed four large Ziploc bags full of food, which I was sure would be enough food for the boy, particularly when combined with rice, tofu and other table food that he did eat.  We had meats, fruit, cereals and snacks; I felt prepared.  I wasn't.  The boy ate through most of his food in about 2 weeks, which left me scrambling to find baby food; at one point I was so desperate for  food, that I bought pure mango juice and mixed it with rice cereal, voila breakfast for the boy.

    When I did finally find babyfood (all imported from Australia, so there were some interesting flavours) our choices were further diminished as we looked for gluten-free (read pasta-free) options. My advice, pack more food than you think your little one can possibly consume and don't worry about it taking up room in your suitcase.  As you little one eats the food, you'll have room to store all those great items you bought yourself.

  3. Bring feeding gear - If you international destination is anything like ours, high chairs in restaurants are a rarity rather than the norm.  As much as I love the boy, eating with him on my lap, particularly with chopsticks, is not my idea of a good time. 

    Before departing I did some research on portable booster seats and originally purchased a First Years On The Go Booster Feeding Seat, but when I found (and tested out) the Totseat, which is much more compact, I knew that I had found the right option for me.

    Also, don't forget some easily wipeable or disposable bibs; someone gave me a box of disposables, which were great, and I also took a couple Mally leather bibs, which were easy to wipe up on the go.

    Speaking of messes, grab yourself some WYSI wipes and make sure you bring resealable containers you trust, unless of course you want baby food all over your backpack and your daily ration of clean clothes.  Even open baby food jars I didn't trust, unless they were inside a sealed ziploc freezer bag.  Bring lots of those too, in many different sizes.

    In terms of cutlery, I loved the Take & Toss Spoons since you got 12 in a pack and I was able to keep a few in every bag without worrying if I forgot one in a restaurant or hotel room.  I also brought one sharp paring knife that was infinitley useful at cutting up fruit or table food for the boy.

  4. Go with the flow and anticipate a minor regression - In traveling with your child, you are taking away everything that is familiar and he/she may want comforts that haven't been needed in ages, especially if he/she gets sick. 

    Although the boy was swaddled to sleep until almost 6 months, at the time of our trip he hadn't been swaddled for at least a month and a half, but with so much change and stimulation, he couldn't seem to settle without swaddling, rocking and some night-time songs from his Momma.  I assure you things went back to normal within a few weeks of returning home, my boy needed his Momma a little more than usual, but in truth, I can't say I blame him.

    Similarly, the boy had been cutting way back on breastfeeding before the trip, but quickly upped his intake upon our arrival in Asia. I'm sure it was a combination of comfort and a general dislike for the jarred baby food.

  5. Routine, Routine, Routine, its even more important now that you're half way across the world - Although your routine cannot possibly be exactly the same as when you are at home, think about why you started a routine in the first place.  Surprises and unknowns are stressful for young children, by having a regular routine, you child knows what to expect and that can make bedtime much more enjoyable for everyone.

    At our house, we do bathtime, books and then sleepytime at night and books then sleepytime for naps.  We may not have had the rocking chair in the bedroom, but if I wanted him to nap on the tour bus, we read our books and then I snuggled him up for a sleep.  And at nighttime, it may have been way past bedtime, and the boy had to bathe in the sink a few times, but I did my best to always give the boy his routine, bath, books, sleepytime.  It just seemed reasonable that amidst all the chaos, the least I could do was try and maintain this simple routine.

  6. Don't forget the babe's comfort items - no blanket or bear you can buy will be able to replace the one your little one has had for months, that he/she has cried into, barfed on and spit all over.  That item has sentimental value and will be essential at some point in your trip.

    We brought both the boys blanket and "bear" (the small blanket with a bear attached); the blanket stayed in the suitcase and only came out at night, but he would often reach for bear when it was time for naptime on the bus.

  7. Sleepytime; you need a plan - you need to think about this before you leave home, particularly if you don't co-sleep.  We didn't and we don't and that can certainly complicate matters when your staying in a hotel.  Most rooms in Asia have a single double bed, I can't imagine how tight the sleeping arrangements would have been with two adults and a baby.

    I will admit that the first few days when we were jetlagged and the last few days when the boy was really sick, he was so exhausted he would fall asleep in the bed with me, but in general he thinks that laying in the bed with Mommy means playtime.
    travel - peapod
    We got around this, but using a Kidco Peapod, essentially a baby tent, complete with a self-inflating mattress.  We practiced using it at home before we left; first inside the crib, then at the grandparents and our friends houses.  Within a few days of using the Peapod each night, the boy would settle down almost immediately.  Although each hotel room was different, HIS tent was the same.  Important travel features of the Peapod include quick set-up and take-down and is super light weight so that your luggage isn't overweight.  I wrote a full review of the Peapod here.

  8. Your "super-stroller 3000" probably won't cut it - First off, if you have a beautiful 3-wheeled stroller like me, its probably going to be huge and bulky to tote around, fit onto buses and into tiny crowded shops.  Your umbrella stroller?  It's not going to stand a chance against brick roads, uneven concrete, narrow sidewalks and pushy locals.
    travel - ergo
    Bring a baby carrier and make sure you've tried it out at home.  Make sure both you and the babe are comfortable, you might find yourself wearing your child for hours at a time.  I wore the boy in our Ergo Carrier for about 3 hours a day for three weeks (this was great for my waistline, but sadly it didn't last when I got back home) and I had no aches or pains to speak of.  We had poor weather while touring in China and by the end of the first week, the boy was eager to hop in the Ergo and would snuggle in and go to sleep. 

    It was also great in the airports, as it allows you to know where your child is while giving you two free hands for paperwork, passports and the like.  You will have to take it off to clear security (which is a pain) but c'est la vie I guess.  Again this is where another set of hands comes in handy.  I loved the Ergo, which is a soft backpack carrier because it didn't add much extra weight while in use and it wasn't too bulky and difficult to store when we weren't using it.

  9. Have a well stocked supply of medicine - bring your medication of choice for teething and/or pain, and bring a whole bottle. Between teething and sickness we went through an entire bottle of infants Motrin and were lucky that my aunt (a nurse) had a bottle of childrens Advil that we could use.  I absolutley would not have wanted to be trucking around with a sick baby in tow, looking for drugs and being unable to read the packaging.
    In addition to pain meds, I also brought children's gravol exclusively for the plane (which worked great at home, but did not help him sleep on the plane), however when the boy was barfing his guts out, little bits of gravol did seem to help settle his tummy.  If you can get powdered pedialyte, I would recommend taking some with you so that you don't end up in a foreign Thai pharmacy taking their word that its safe for your little one (like I had to).

  10.  travel - funDon't forget to have fun - it's not really giving up your vacation if you stay in your hotel for a half day every now and then to play with your little one to give them (and you) a break from the go-go-go of traveling. But don't get so sucked into your childs needs that you forget to go out and enjoy yourself.  Despite everything I've said above, children are adaptable and although a happy child definitely equates to happy parents, make sure you didn't fly half way around the world to forget to stop and smell the roses.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nellie's Naturals: Oxy Brightener and Dryer Ball Review & Giveaway

There are a lot of chores I hate, vacuuming, dusting and cleaning in general all make the list.  Laundry, however, I don't particularly mind, especially since we bought high efficiency, front-loading washers.  Our machine can do huge loads and the dryer can keep up, which any Mom will surely tell you is uber important.  Who has time to wait around for an extra cycle, or even an extra ten minutes, when there's another load waiting to dry?

As I told you back in July, when it comes to detergent, I'm all about Nellie's All Natural Washing Soda, it keeps our clothes clean and fresh without any unnecessary fillers, fragrance or other skin irritants.

It was with great confidence that I tried out Nellie's All Natural Oxy Brightener, Dryer Balls & fragrance sticks, which were provided to me, by the fine people at Nellie's, for the purposes of this review.  Nellie's Oxy Brightener is a chlorine-free, colour-safe, septic-safe and environmentally friendly product that releases a boost of oxygen to bleach stains, boost cleaning power and brighten both colours and whites.
I must admit, I didn't perform a side-by-side washing with/without Nellie's Oxy Brightener, but the food, snot and other toddler deliciousness stuck to the boys clothes disappeared easily with the addition of half a scoop of oxy brightner in the machine.  It worked wonderfully as a pre-soak for a stinky dirty wet bag and did an amazing job on cat barf on the carpet when diluted with water in a spray bottle.

As a stain remover, the Oxy Brightener did require a little bit of extra effort, in that I needed to dry up the solution, then dab the area with some water before drying up the carpet a second time.  But, it worked and I knew I wasn't leaving a little wet chemical spot on my floor for the boy to find, so its a winner in my books.

I also had a chance to test out Nellie's Dryer Balls.  I have been using dryer balls for a long time and to date the first set I had has by far lasted the longest.  That first set were Nellie's original dryer balls; Nellie's is now on to their second generation of dryer balls.  The new green dryer ball now allow for the insertion of an optional fragrance stick infused with essential oils to make your laundry smell pretty (something that has never been an option for me before).

The use of Dryer Balls means there is absolutley no need for those stinky, chemical-filled dryer sheets that I see in the drugstore.  I've never been able to use them, they have made my skin crawl since a very young age.  Nellie's Dryer Balls will fluff up your laundry naturally, help reduce static and reduce drying time by 15-25%.  Nellie's is so sure you'll love them that they offer a money back guarantee and a two-year warranty on their Dryer Balls, that's standing behind a product if you ask me.

As for the fragrance stick, I had a chance to try out the Citrus scent; I'm not a huge fan of citrus and wasn't sure how the boy and I would react to the additional fragrance so I started out by only adding a stick to one dryer ball.  I was amazed when I opened my dryer door and was greeted with a mild, enjoyable scent.  I didn't find my clothes 'smelled' when I wore them, but rather just smelled fresh when they came out of the wash (is that what you all love about dryer sheets?).  We had no skin reactions and have now moved up to two fragrance sticks (one per Dryer Ball) in our dryer.

If you want to find out more details about Nellie's products, check out their FAQ page.

I think that I've found some great additions to our laundry routine in Nellie's Oxy Brightener, Dryer Ball and Fragrance Sticks, all great Canadian products that I rate a 5/5!  Want to try Nellie's out for yourself?  We are giving away TWO 50 load bags of Laundry Soda to Momma Stuff Blog Readers.

Enter To Win:
A free load bag of Nellie's Laundry Soda
(two to be awarded)

The First Entry is mandatory; all other entries will be disqualified if it is not included.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  

First Entry:
Check out the Nellie's Website and tell us what product you would like to try

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#Giveaway of Nellie's Natural Washing Soda @mommastuffblog #CMTT 

Giveaway closes Sunday October 10th at 8pm.  Winner will be determined by a random number generator. Winner will be notified via email and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new name will be drawn and contacted.

Contest now closed - Congratulations to our winner, comment #21 Lindsey & #3 Sarah

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Memories 15: Post High School

After high school I went directly to college for two years and then spent another three years at University before graduating with a B.Sc. in Biology and Environmental Studies.  There are many stories and many experiences from those years, but one of the most life changing took place during the summer semester of my very first year.

I'm not sure how I worked up the guts to ask my parents (though I remember deliberating for days before I approached them) but I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in a two week, river-rafting field program.  I took courses in environmental biology, environmental chemistry and anthropology for one week each prior to the field study component.  While in the field we had daily work to complete and once we returned home, we had reports to compile and exams to write .  For all of that, we got university transfer credits and a once in a lifetime experience.

We spent two weeks rafting down the Fraser River, following Simon Fraser's journey, testing water, assessing habitat and learning all sorts of in-situ lessons along the way.  There's something so fantastic about seperating yourself from civilization and truly alone (with 15 or so other people) with nature.  For about a week we saw no signs of people, no power lines, no other boats, nothing.  We watched the ecosystem change from the cold and extreme north to the dry interior and back to our cool coastal climate as we travelled the river, camped along the shores and carried our food inside incredibly large coolers and all our personal gear (tent and sleeping bag included) in a single wet bag each; there wasn't a ton of room for clothes and boy were we stinky when we arrived home.

There are so many stories and memories from this trip; the mosquitoes that wouldn't leave me alone and the resulting welts that covered my body, the surprise rain storm when we were exploring the bluffs above our campground, the beautiful 'toilet' locations, always overlooking the most amazing scenery, the first nations potlach and the adorable little girl who tried to teach me to dance while we were there, not to mention watching one of our rafts nearly tip as our guide maneuvered Hell's Gate, which had volumes of 7000m3 of water per second that particular day.

The Fraser River is a silty river, very brown in colour.  Although it seems calm at the surface it is well known for its undercurrent.  It's something to be appreciated, but never to be underestimated. I grew up blocks from the Fraser and spent many childhood hours splashing in the murky waters.  After going on this trip, I knew the Fraser was in my blood.  It's part of who I am and it will forever be special to me.  As morbid as it may sound, if I were to pass, I would want at least some of my ashes spread in the Fraser River - that's how connected I feel to this particular water body.

This is post 15/15 and is part of Mommy's Piggy Tales
Make sure you check out all the other great posts here!

Mommy's Piggy Tales is a great project that will guide you through the process of remembering and recording your youth.  At the begining 15 weeks seemed so far away and now that its here, I'm not even sure I'm done.  I have more stories and more experiences to get from this post to my current reality.

The next session starts October 7th and  Janna creates a wonderful community by creating groupings so you have your own little group of blogs to visit and comment on.  There are so many women with amazing stories to share; if you are considering participating I wholeheartedly encourage you to go for it.  It's been a fantastic journey, well worth the effort!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Camping with an 18 month old

Every year we take a week off in September to spend some time at my sister-in-law's trailer for a little rest and relaxation out in nature.  The campground is virtually deserted, except for friendly fisherman, since all the kids are back to school.  We've been lucky with the weather in the past, but this week there's been rain, and not just a little bit.  That being said we've definitely embraced the dry moments; the boy LOVES the playground at the campsite.

We had to run off to Zellers to buy the boy his first pair of rubber boots on Monday morning and I can't get over how cute they are.
new boots
With no big kids around, the boy can do whatever he wants and has spent oodles of time tossing fists full of rocks onto the slide; it amazes me just how long he has found this game is entertaining.
He also loves spending time in with what we have affectionately dubbed the 'redneck exersaucer'.  Seriously, who doesn't love a happily contained toddler?
'redneck exersaucer'
And personally, I just can't get enough of the belly laughter and pure joy that family time on the teeter totter elicits from the boy.
teeter totter

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quick & Easy Carrot Homous (gluten-free / dairy-free / soy-free)

I think every parent struggles with finding healthy, nutritious snacks that their children will eat.  When you start to factor in dietary restrictions, what was a struggle truly becomes a challenge.  I've been gluten-free for over three years now, so in truth its simply a way of life for me.  Dairy-free was a bit of an adjustment in my cooking; though I don't drink milk I do eat cheese and yogurt.  Now that soy has also been stripped from the boys diet, I sometimes feel like finding quick and easy snacks for the boy is an impossible undertaking.

I'm being dramatic.  It is hard, but it is more than possible to feed the boy.  I'd been trying to feed the boy homous for quite some time when I discovered the Fat Free Vegan's Recipe for Shiny Happy Hummus.  Although the boy isn't a huge fan of carrots, I thought it was worth a try.  I figured perhaps the sweetness of carrots could counteract the strong taste of traditional homous.  I didn't use the spices or the ground ginger, just a tiny bit of garlic, lemon juice and tahini in addition to the chickpeas and cooked carrots.  Shiny Happy Hummus was a hit; the boy gobbled it up and I loved that he was getting protein, fibre and veggies.

Now that I'm back to work however, finding time to make gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free lunches is hard enough, I figured there must be a quicker way to make carrot homous without cooking carrots and dirtying up the food processor.

And there is.  Now I use plain store bought homous and babyfood to make a delicious snack the boy happily eats is as an afternoon snack ater his nap.  Plus it satisfies his current need for all things 'dip'.  Ironically I never fed the boy jarred babyfood before but the work-life balance means sacrifices all round. 

Personally I like to use organic babyfood for this reicipe (and I always make sure the ingredients are just carrots and water) and I try to buy the 'plainest' homous I an find at the grocery store.  It sounds a bit odd, but there are often multiple brands of homous available and some of them have far more 'extra ingredients' than others.  My boy LOVES to eat his homous with gluten-free Sundried Tomato and Oregano Cracklebred - if you haven't tried them, these crackers ROCK!

I have tried making this with pea babyfood as well as a sweetpotato/carrot combo of babyfood but none were as successful as plain old carrot.  I'd love to hear if you have any successful veggie/homous combinations I should try out.

carrot homous

Quick and Easy Carrot Homous


Store-bought, plain homous
1 jar (organic) carrot babyfood
crackers or cooked veggies to 'dip'

  • In a small container mix 1 tsp* of homous with approximatley 1/3 a jar of babyfood.
  • Mix well and serve as a 'dip' with crackers or soft cooked veggies.
*If your child has never tasted homous before, you may want to start with a greater ratio of carrot to homous and then increase the proportion of homous as your little one becomes accustomed to the taste and texture of the chickpeas.  

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chenille Kraft WonderFoam Review

The boy was about six months old when we started playing with blocks.  We had a second hand set of small wooden blocks; I would stack them up and he would eagerly knock them down.  Not surprisingly, a year later, this game is still oodles of fun for the boy. 

Although the hubs is in favour of good old male destruction, particularly if Mommy builds the tower, he hated the wooden blocks.  I don't use the word 'hate' very often, but in this particular case it is fitting.  He hated that the blocks were small and therefore constantly underfoot since they never all seemed to get put away.  But more than that he despised the hard, sharp edges that the wood presented.  He was fearful that the boy (or one of us) was going to trip one day and head plant into a small wooden block.  He envisioned not only tears, but possibly blood and stitches, so he was adamant we find a better solution.

He made a good point, but I really wasn't sure how to address his concerns.  Although plastic blocks are not quite as sharp around the edges, they still have the potential for some serious pain if stepped on or landed on.  I should have known the hubs would have thought things through; he suggested foam blocks that he had seen at a friends house.

I looked for a long time, but it wasn't until I visited CSN stores that I found Chenille Kraft Wonderfoam Blocks.  These were exactly what the hubs was talking about and we were fortunate enough to recieve a 68 piece set for the purposes of this review. Made of 1 inch thick foam, these blocks are durable, bright, colourful and safe.  They come in a variety of shapes, including arches, triangles, sticks and rectangles.

Their large size means that even if I can only make a tower three pieces high, it's still bigger than the 1 inch blocks we used to play with, which means the pieces tumble farther and the boy laughs harder.  One of the boys favourite games involves the square pieces with a round piece that fits into the middle.  I push the round piece half way out of the square and then blow so that the circle flys at the boy, often hitting him smack dab in the gut.  He roars with laughter every time, then brings the circle back and pushes it into the square.

The only problem with Wonderfoam is that they come perfectly packaged in a plastic case; although this looks pretty, I personally don't have the time or inclination to play 'Tetris' every time we clean up the blocks.  I nixed the plastic packaging and instead threw all the blocks in a storage box and called it a day.

Chenille Kraft Wonderfoam is availalbe at CSN Stores and start at a price of just $19.99.  Wonderfoam blocks are available in a 40 piece set, 68 piece set and a 152 piece set, not to mention ABC Blocks, letters and number puzzle and a meterologist puzzle.

For the amount of fun Wonderfoam has brought to our home and the peace of mind that they bring the hubs, they are well worth the price.   Wonderfoam is wonderful, I rate them a 4.5/5!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Memories 14: Grade 12 / Age 17

Grade 12 was a busy year, I took advanced placement (AP) Biology and AP Chemistry, which meant that four days a week I started school at 7am to take extra science classes.  I was definitely a bit of a nerd, I had (in fact still have) a thirst or knowledge.

I hate to be stereotypical, but the truth is my AP classes were composed primarily of incredibly smart students for whom English was a second language.  In general, we didn't have much in common.  Fortunately I made one good friend; Tom and I always joked we became friends by default since no one else in the class wanted us for lab partners and in truth, maybe we did. 

He was the smart type, straight A's, very focused, very meticulous and very hard working.  I remember on unit in AP Chem, for five consecutive weeks we had to perform independent labs and record our observations and results.  It drove Tom crazy that I barely understood the concepts but consistently got better results than him.  I followed the labs like I was baking cookies, leveling my ingredients with a shake of a wrist rather than a precise measurement, a few sporadic shakes of the flask instead of continuous mixing.  Neither of us could explain it, but my results were consistently better than his, it was almost like he tried too hard.

Tom and I spent a lot of hours together that year and there was truly never any feelings between us except friendship, but in the end our relationship made his girlfriend uncomfortable and though we tried, our friendship waned after high school.

I think its normal to lose some friends after high school; losing them a month before grad however, that's a little less traditional.  There were four of us girls that hung out regularly, but only three of us went to one school.  I won't get into the details, but a tiff occurred and our group split in half.  Unfortunately my half didn't go to our school and I was dropped like a hot potato.

My locker mate moved out, my 'friends' ignored me like the plague and I was left with a gloomy looking grad to look forward to.

Fortunately my friend Trevor stepped up and saved my day, my year in fact.  We'd been kind-of-friends for a couple years, but when my girl friends ditched me, he pulled me into his circle of friends.  I attended grad in a limo with eight guys and Trevor's girlfriend at the time and it was amazing.  I felt so grateful to find a friend so caring and special at such a fragile and important time in my life.

Trevor and I are still close.  Our post-secondary friendship flourished, but now I only see him a few times a year as he and his wife live in another province.  The distance doesn't matter though, I love him and I know I will always love him.  And although I hate that I had to experience teenage girls at their worst to discover such a beautiful friendship, I would do it again in a heartbeat, because Trevor is truly a friend worth having.

This is post 14/15 and is part of Mommy's Piggy Tales
Make sure you check out all the other great posts here!

Monday, September 6, 2010

All Terrain Company: Natural Herbal Armor Insect Repellent Review

Just over a month ago I shared my experiences with the All Terrain Company's Kid's Eczema Cream; I was fortunate enough to recieve another great product form the All Terrain Company to review.  With summer well underway and camping fun scheduled, I was eager for a chance to test out All Terrain's Natural Herbal Armor Insect Repellent.

Deet-free, cruelty-free, water and sweat resistant this product sounded like everything I needed it to be. It's been clinically proven to be 100% effective for two hours and I can't say it enough, Natural Herbal Armor Insect Repellent accomplishes this amazing feat without the use of Deet.  A special blend of essential oils such as citronella, peppermint, cedar, lemongrass and geranium do the trick just fine.

And that's fine by me.  Deet is nasty, nasty stuff and its in almost all insect repellents on the market.  As long as I can remember, I've been told to watch out for deet; that it could eat through my skin and that it was prudent to make sure that the insect repellent I was using had the lowest possible deet content I could find. I always heeded this advice, but after one particular camping trip, I vowed to avoid the stuff at all possible costs.

I was on an outdoor education camping trip as a chaperone.  Both the team leader and I were disgusted by the sheer quantity of deet infused repellent the teens were surrounding themselves with.  As the team leader started her speil, I wasn't sure she was going to reach the kids.  She knew actions speak louder than words, particularly with teens, so she gave them a demonstration.  She held up a piece of saran wrap from her lunch, held it taut and asked one of the kids to spray the saran with their insect repellent.  In less than thirty seconds there was a hole the size of a subway cookie in the saran.

If you're not sure about the toxicity of deet, try it out for yourself.  I promise you will be suitably disgusted.

All Terrain Company's Natural Herbal Armor is a great solution to a difficult situation.  It's been a few years since the saran wrap incident and since then I have pretty much gone without insect repellent rather than subjecting my body to deet.  Now I don't have to, since using Natural Herbal Armor, I have no bug bites and I have the peace of mind that there is no deet in sight.

Natural Herbal Armor is a light cream in a pump bottle.  It's easy to apply and I didn't have any issues with the pump clogging.  The product does however have quite a strong smell.  When I opened the packaging, the scent was immediatley obvious.  The day after use, my clothes still had a strong odour to them and would definitley need washing if I wasn't camping or otherwise outdoors.  That being said, much like the Kids Eczema Cream, given the lineup of essential oils in Natural Herbal Armor, it would be ridiculous to expect a scent-free product, after all its those same essential oils that are keeping the bugs away.

Overall an effective and natural product for keeping bug bites at bay.  I rate All Terrain Company's Natural Herbal Armor a 4/5.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy Anniversary

When the hubs and I first met, it was the summer before I started University, we were supposed to be a summer fling. Something fun before the pressures of post-secondary life set in. It didn't work out quite like that, we couldn't stay away from each other. Five years later, while on a blissful island retreat, the hubs proposed.
MSB engagement
Four months later, we were married in my parents beautiful backyard. We had a small family only wedding in the coastal morning sun.  I love that we had rose petals thrown on us instead of rice.
MSB - Wedding
There's something so incredible about having your wedding in your family backyard.  Knowing that the beautiful scenery is a direct result of your Mother's tireless efforts to create the best backdrop possible for your wedding.
MSB - Wedding
And of course, there's the absolute wondrousness of committing yourself to the man you love, in front of the most important people in our lives, our families.
MSB - Wedding
Happy Anniversary my love, in four years we've come so far.  We've bought a townhouse and had a baby and I'm absolutley certain this is only the start of our beautiful journey together.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Memories 13: Grade 11 / Age 16

The year I was in Grade 11, Reena Virk was killed.  I didn't know her, but I weeped for her all the same.  Bullying ended her life and what scared me the most about it all, was that it could have been someone I knew.  It could have been my brother.

Reena lived only a few hours from my home, and the same month that she died, my little brother was attacked.  He was surrounded by about 30-35 classmates and although only a few partook in the physical battery that he endured, he recalls only one voice in the crowd that was brave enough to say 'that's enough, leave him alone".

He ended up with a head wound, a concussion and a kneecap that was cracked almost entirely in half.  He can no longer skateboard and snowboarding is now synonymous with pain for him.  It's not my story to tell how and why this all happened, but let me tell you, his life was changed forever that day.  In truth, I suspect the true reason the incident occurred was due to the fact that my brother refused to follow the pack so to speak.

When it was all said and done, even after everything happened, my brother refused retaliation.  He refused to participate when the crown prosecuted the boys that beat him up and he refused to allow my friends to retaliate physically, the way that boys do.  In truth, that's one of the things I've always loved and respected about my brother.  He's always stood up for what he believed in, even if it was to his own detriment.  I truly hope that inner strength is something that the boy can learn from his uncle.

Although I want him to have strength, I don't want him to have to go through such painful experiences in order to embrace it.  My brother's incident was a long time ago, but I have trouble believing that anything has changed, that today's youth is void of bullies and instead are more kind, more caring or more compassionate on the whole.  I know it would be naive to think that the boy could live through his teenage years without experiencing some pain and anguish in his life, but there's nothing wrong with wishing it, is there?

This is post 13/15 and is part of Mommy's Piggy Tales
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