Saturday, December 31, 2011

Potty Training | Day 2

The boy's going to be three in March, he doesn't like wearing diapers and he definitely knows 'the baby' wears them.  But, he doesn't like the potty; we don't think he's afraid of it, he watches us, tries to flush and used to wave 'bye bye'.  But, he also doesn't like new things and potty training is definitely a change.  I don't want to physically force him and I don't want to make it hard for him, but I've suspected for a while he was ready.

Then on Thursday he asked for 'no diapers', which I allowed, but as soon as I stepped into the kitchen he started peeing, all over his brother's new Amazing Animals Sing & Go Choo-Choo.

I don't necessarily think it was completely intentional, but I don't necessarily think it was coincidental either.

I asked on Twitter and Facebook and came across some good reading about a 3 day potty training plan.  It makes sense to me, don't confuse the kid by sometimes wearing diapers and sometimes wearing underwear.  Just slap on the big boy pants, tell him he's a big boy, give him lots of praise and make your entire day (well 3 days) completely about his pee.

Yesterday we went for it.

I had one of my best friends and her son over for the morning, which meant I had an extra pair of hands to help out with the boys, and the hubs had a half day at work for the new year, so I wasn't on my own.

Yesterday, we learned the boy has some serious bladder control.

He danced, he bounced, he squatted and of course he assumed the position; knees together, hands between the legs.  He didn't want to pee in those big boy pants, but he sure didn't want to go in the potty either.  He made it about 2.5 hours all toll and he spent over an hour putting off the accident.

Today, we got him to sit on the potty.

A definite improvement on crying 'no' and standing up immediately.  I took a suggestion to 'find his currency'  to heart and we've given a few Hot Wheels for his big achievements and designated a Lightning McQueen notebook only for use on the potty.  Then, around 4 this afternoon, we pulled the potty into the living room and got him to sit down (in the midst of an accident) with a new Dora book he got for Christmas and he finally relaxed.

Success! He peed in the potty.

It only happened once, but its still pretty fantastic all things considered.  Thank goodness the hubs was home, we're both exhausted and the boy is too, but I think we'll all be happier when the boy's out of diapers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas | Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

It's hard to believe that the whirlwind that is Christmas has come and gone.  The boy still has a pile of presents under the tree and has taken to saying 'Merry Presents' rather than Merry Christmas.  It's the first year he's had any sort of understanding of Christmas, or even the concept of presents.

Seeing Christmas through the boy's eyes make's everything new again, from the small Steveston Santa Parade, to the overwhelming barrage of Christmas presents, its nearly impossible not to enjoy Christmas with an eager toddler in tow.
The bridge Wheelies Ramp BrothersTrain Table
As I hoped, my Merry Christmas came in the form of a brand new, custom Sony Vaio laptop; unfortunately it came equipped with Photoshop Elements and I've been using Lightroom, so I have some researching and learning to do before my photos will be looking all beautiful with rounded again.  I'm also hoping to learn to do a quick and easy watermark.

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, Hanukkah or holiday season spent with those you love.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quinoa Minestrone Soup | gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free recipe

As much as I try to feed my children healthy, nutritious food, I admit that sometime its hard.  Like when its the holiday season, you have one son with mono and another whose teething like crazy and you're up far more than you want to admit in the night.  Sadly one of the things that tends to slide in those tough motherhood moments is the food and as of late the boy has had more lunches consisting of hot dogs or grilled Daiya cheese and ham sandwiches than I'd care to admit.

That said when I got my act together and made him some homemade fish sticks, yam fries and kale chips for lunch the other day he eagerly gobbled it all up.  This simply reminded me that his tastes are tailored to healthy, delicious foods because that's what I feed him and so I realized its time to get back on track; poor food choices should never really be an option.

So I pulled out my Quinoa 365 book and made one of my favourites, Quinoa Minestrone.  It's fairly thick and I consider it a stoup (thanks Rachael Ray for coining the term), in fact I like to use a scant measurement for the quinoa just to keep it a little thinner.  This stoup is delicious fresh and although the flavours are still great the next day, the quinoa just keeps absorbing the liquid and it gets quite thick the next day, so this time around I opted to make a half batch, which was more than enough for the three of us with one bowlful leftover.  This soup takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, veggies chopping included, so its more than possible to decide to make it at 11am and have it on the table in time for lunch.

This is a great meal for the entire family, the baby happily enjoyed this stoup with us for lunch; he's moving to chunkier foods and I was surprised to find that he was happy to eat it without any pureeing.  You could try making it without cheese and pureeing for younger babies, but the cheese (Daiya in our case) really gives the soup a creamy texture and taste.  The original recipe calls for parmesean, so if your family eats dairy please feel free to re-substitute it back in for the Daiya).
quinoa minestrone
Quinoa Minestrone Soup
Adapted from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free & Soy-Free)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, including liquid
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup Daiya vegan cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced spinach
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion, carrots, potatoes and salt until the onion is tender, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and liquid, stock, quinoa and garlic, bring to a boil. 
  3. Simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally, until quinoa and vegetables are tender, about 18 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and half of the the Daiya cheese.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spinach and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Ladle into bowls, top with remaining Daiya cheese and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last Minute Gift Ideas | Hallmark Press Pause Panel

I'm starting to get excited, Christmas is only a few short sleeps away.  I can't wait to see the boys face when he sees the tree and the presents waiting for him.  I can't wait to see his delight at his new toys and watch as he enjoys them.  Of course its the baby's first Christmas so that's exciting too, though he won't really know what's going on, I'm positive I'll catch him eating paper.
Rockin' Talking Santa Hat
All that being said, I have a lot of wrapping to do.  My shopping is pretty much complete and this year Hallmark helped me out in that department.  Check out some of the great stuff I received as a member of the Hallmark Press Pause Panel.

The Rockin' Talking Santa Hat is super fun, not only does it sing Santa Clause is Coming to Town it dances back and forth all on its own.    The hat has a full frame on the inside so its a little heavy and won't fit a toddlers head, though they might just dance along.

Merry-Okee And where there's dancing, there's often singing and the Merry-okee microphone transforms you into an elf with the push of the button.  I love the elf voice, but neither the boy or the hubs seems to get quite as much joy from it as I do.  Merry-okee comes with six pre-recorded holiday songs to sing along with, including 'silly versions'.

Wayne Gretsky Ornament This is our first year with a full-size tree, so we can finally really start amassing our own family collection of ornaments.  The Wayne Gretsky Ornament is perfect for Hockey Loving Canadian dads; the hubs is getting one this year.

Have an early reader in the house? Jingle the Husky Pup Interactive Storybook and Story Buddy are super fun, read your child the story and as you read along jingle will jump right in and bark, whimper and sing.  The best part?  I was at Wal-Mart yesterday and saw Jingle in store. Jingle the interactive pup

Hallmark has been helping us remember to 'Press Pause' because Life is a Special Occasion all year long, and now they want to help us celebrate Christmas.  What are you doing to 'Press Pause' this holiday season?

I received Hallmark product for the purposes of this post, however all opinions are my own.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Toddler Allergy Testing

Allergies are my reality, nearly everyone in my family is afflicted, including the hubs' side of the family. We have symptoms ranging from anaphylaxis to oral allergies and pretty much everything in between, so it kind of felt like a given that our children would have allergies, to something.  So far the baby seems to be showing no indication of sensitivity, but as you all know the boy is a completely different story.

We've been waiting since January, when the mere touch of a peanut butter sandwich sent the boy to the hospital, to see the allergist at Children's Hospital (the reason the boy had bloodwork a couple weeks ago).  Although I received a pamphlet in the mail, I wasn't sure entirely sure what the visit would entail and whether we would be doing any testing at the appointment.  Regardless, I came prepared with snacks, juice and 'Bear' just in case.
allergist report
I needed them all.

I was fortunate enough to have Kat along to watch the baby and walk him around in the Ergo carrier, I'm not sure what I would have done without her.  Although I was excited about getting some insight into the boys allergies, I was less than thrilled with an appointment at 1:30pm; at our house naptime starts promptly at one.

After a consult with the resident doctor and a chat with the supervising allergist, it was time to whip off the boys shirt and doing some prick tests.  He was tested for 23 allergens and had at least minor reactions to most of them, however he only showed up allergic to a handful.

In fact the only food allergen identified was peanuts, which was expected.  The tests indicated that he is likely outgrowing his dairy allergy and that his reactions to soy and wheat are not significant.  Which means that we have to begin slowly re-introducing dairy, soy and wheat into the boys' diet.

The allergist also identified cats, dust mites and grass pollen as allergens for the boy, which means we need to get extremely diligent about cleaning his bedroom.

All in all, our trip to the allergist was a positive one and I'm excited for the boy to start trying new foods again.  I simply hope that the allergist is right and that he can tolerate these allergens particularly now that his eczema is (for the most part) under control.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Roadhouse Bake Shoppe

As a gluten-free connoisseur I don't frequent bakeries much these days, but when I heard about a local family owned business, that chooses to sell gluten-free items (baked off-site in a dedicated space), in need of some patrons this holiday season, I decided to help spread the word.

The Roadhouse Bake Shoppe is located in the Surrey / White Rock area of the lower mainland and is located right next door to the family's restaurant McJacs Roadhouse Grille.  With the holiday season rapidly upon us, the opportunity to make homemade baked goods is slipping away, however with a quick stop at the Roadhouse Bake Shoppe, you won't have to show up at any of your holiday engagements empty handed.

The Roadhouse carries a number of items from the O'Delish Gluten Free Bakery including gluten-free Christmas cake, breads, cookies, muffins, chips, donuts, stuffing mix and lentil crackers.  For those of you that are also dairy-free, don't despair, O'Delish will make your items dairy-free upon request, just give the Roadhouse Bake Shoppe a call and pre-order.  I'm literally salivating at the thought of walking into a bakery and having so many gluten-free options.

Did you notice the logo also says 'Cheese Market'?  I may be off dairy for the time being, but I am a cheese addict through and through.  Once the baby stops breastfeeding, I'll be in serious need of a cheese market.

For those of you that love pictures and a bit of sentimentality, check out what Shasher has to say about the Roadhouse Bake Shoppe.

Although I've never been to the Roadhouse Bake Shoppe, next time I'm in the area I will absolutely be stopping in to sample the delicious gluten-free delights and pick up a little something gluten-full for the hubs.

The Roadhouse Bake Shoppe can be found online and on Facebook and Twitter and the O'Delish Gluten-Free Bakery can be found online and on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Searching for Equal Sweetener at Starbucks | #Cbias #EqualCanada

Starbucks Drive Through Absolutely no question about it, I love coffee.  I love the way the scent permeates your nose and the flavour washes over your mouth.  I just love it.  And my coffee of choice, for a long time, has been a Starbucks Americano.  These days my americano's are decaf and without cream but still equally delicious.

So when I had the chance to go for a coffee in search of Equal I knew exactly where I was going.  I was hoping to go for a leisurely coffee with my mom, where we'd have time to sit and chat, sans children and just relax.  Unfortunately, time to myself hasn't been in the cards for the past week. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, then you probably already know the boy has mono (I had no idea toddlers could get it) and I've barely left the house.
Starbucks Holiday Cups
So when I had the opportunity to run some errands with my sister for an hour, I jumped at the chance, as long as there was time for a Starbucks run. For me, even in the midst of the chaos, Starbucks always feels like a momentary break.  I particularly love when the red holiday cups come out and all the festivity that follows.

12 days of ChristmasWhile waiting on my coffee, I had the chance to talk with my Barista about sugar substitutes and was pleased to find that they carried three different options, including Equal.  During the course of our conversation she explained to me that drive-through customers have the opportunity to choose the sweetener of their choice and that most people have a brand specific preference.  We also discussed Equal Surcalose, now available in Canada.

Americano & Equal
I think its great that there are so many sugar substitute options at Starbucks Canada and I took the time to fill out an online Starbucks comment card to let them know that I appreciate the sweetener choices they provide their customers.  I also wanted to compliment the helpfulness of the baristas.

And because I'd love to be able to buy the boy a kids 'steamed milk' and I because I miss dairy myself, I also requested the presence of a non-dairy, non-soy milk alternative such as rice or coconut milk.

You can find #EqualCanada on their website, on Twitter and on Facebook.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #CBias, however all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I Make Homemade Baby Food | Starting Solids V4

After flopping on the couch, exhausted from a day with the kids and an afternoon chock full of babyfood making, the hubs turned to me and said, ‘why don’t you just buy your babyfood like everyone else?’  I looked at him dumbfounded for a moment before I started spouting off all the benefits of making your own babyfood.

Cost – when you consider that a little 4.5 oz jar of baby food costs close to a dollar and most fruits and vegetables cost somewhere between one and two dollars per pound, it becomes obvious that making your own babyfood is far more economical.  For example, I just bought close to five pounds of Bartlett pears for under five dollars, those pears will make approximately four whole trays of babyfood and at 12 oz per tray that’s about 48 oz of babyfood.  For the same price I could buy about four to five jars of baby food (unless they are on a super sale), which (in this example) makes homemade babyfood about half the cost.

Taste – have you ever tasted jarred babyfood?  It tastes funny.  It’s so processed that the natural flavours barely shine through the super strained purees.  I want my carrot baby food to taste like carrots and my pears to taste like pears; otherwise I can’t help but wonder if my babe will recognize the flavour once he moves on to table foods.  As far as I'm concerned, the thicker stage 2 and 3 jarred baby foods are in a class all their own, they taste gross, they smell disgusting and my spoiled, homemade baby food eating kid wanted nothing to do with them when I took the boy travelling to China at eight months old.

Nutrition – it’s no surprise that fresh, whole foods are the most nutritious options for the entire family, so it follows that fresh homemade food is a good choice for baby.  I have been known to occasionally grab a few beginner purees from the store, for those days that I haven’t quite got up the gusto to make baby food, but only after carefully reading the labels.  Many jarred baby foods (particularly the stage 2 and 3 variety) have high water, salt or sugar contents.  Remember the order the ingredients are listed are an indication of the composition of the food; water should never be the first ingredient.

From a nutrition standpoint, not only does homemade baby food give me complete control over what my baby consumes, it also allows me to introduce foods, like the superfood quinoa, that are not readily available in jarred foods. 

Texture – last, but certainly not least, making my own babyfood gives me the power to gradually introduce texture to my boys.  There’s no need to go directly from super-pureed to chunky foods.  When the baby started eating solids, I pureed everything until smooth, now I puree until there is just a hint of texture.  I also  make a point of having at least one slightly chunkier food available throughout the week to slowly ease the transition towards table foods.

In essence, by making my own babyfood, I’m saving money, retaining control of what my baby eats and  giving him a chance to taste the flavours of a well-rounded, wholesome and nutritious diet that I hope he will carry forward through his entire life.  

Do you make your own babyfood or do you buy it from the store?  What prompted that decision?

Monday, December 5, 2011

High Crow Gluten Free Christmas Giveaway

Although I love to bake, the ultimate treat is an allergen-friendly gluten-free goodie that I didn't have to make myself and for that, I always turn to High Crow Gluten Free Foods.   This giveaway is direct from High Crow to you, read on for more information from Julie regarding this amazing prize.

Tis the season to indulge in some GF holiday baking! And why not accompany it with a cup of tea in a one-of-a-kind High Crow MUG while wearing your new High Crow T-SHIRT?!

Enter for a chance to win a gift basket full of High Crow baking, plus a High Crow mug and High Crow T-shirt (size M). All entries will be collected and a winner announced the evening of Wednesday December 15th. Giveaway is 
open to Lower Mainland residents only.  

Enter using the Rafflecopter after the jump...

Surviving Toddler Bloodwork

Ever since the boy ended up in the hospital after touching apeanut butter sandwich crust back in January, we’ve been on the waitlist to see the pediatric allergist.  We finally have an appointment this month and the allergist has requested some bloodwork.  To say I was nervous about taking my 2.5 year old, who doesn’t like to be touched, to have bloodwork would be putting things mildly.  I actually found myself feeling a bit anxious about the whole ordeal; I had visions of him screaming and flailing while I failed to restrain him.

Fortunately, I am neither the first nor the last mother to be in this situation, so I turned to social media looking for words of wisdom, advice or guidance.  Of course you all stepped up and shared tons of great solutions; here are the ones we used.  Special thanks to my Facebook Fans who were full of fabulous advice.

“Make sure he's well hydrated or they'll have trouble finding a vein...”

 The boy usually drinks tons of water, but of course the morning of his bloodwork he just didn’t seem thirsty.  I needed to pull out the big guns, he guzzled a cup of (half water) juice in about 5 minutes flat.  I also gave him a juicebox while we were waiting at the lab.

“Bring food. His favourite food. From my experience, a crying child usually finds comfort/distraction in yummy stuff :)”

This one comes courtesy of a friend who happens to be a nurse, so she has lots of experience with crying children.  Although I can’t speak for others, the boy loves his food.  The word snack literally grabs his attention and is usually followed by an adorable face and the words ‘want snack.’  I brought more snacks than could humanly be needed during the visit and saved his absolute favourite, a Halloween sized bag of popcorn twists for after the bloodwork was done.  A snacking boy is a happy boy at my house.

“Take a bottle of bubbles with you. When they are going to take the blood pull them out and have him blow them away from the side they are doing the blood work. He will be pre-occupied, Good luck!”

Although we didn’t end up needing them, I loved knowing that I had an ace up my sleeve, the boy goes nuts for bubbles, what a great distraction.  I love to buy the wedding bubbles at dollar stores, they create tons of tiny bubbles, they are compact and they don’t leave you with soapy fingers.

“Hit the dollar store after for toys and stickers!!!”

There haven’t been many instances that I feel warrant rewards, but getting blood drawn seems pretty valid.  Fortunately there was a dollar store in the same plaza as the lab and before we were even at the store I’m pretty sure he’d forgotten about having the bloodwork.  I think he felt pretty spoiled to have a chance to be in the store without his brother, getting to pick a toy was pretty much a bonus.

All in all, getting bloodwork for the boy was manageable and not anywhere near as horrible, for him or me, as I anticipated.  He didn’t like being restrained, but we plopped him in my lap, I used my leg to hold down his legs, wrapped my arm around him to hold one arm down and then one nurse held his arm still while the other did the bloodwork.  By the time they were on the last vial he was barely struggling.  After a hug, snack and the promise of a new toy the tears subsided and we were on our way.

How old was your child when he/she had bloodwork?  Do you have any other tips for making things go easier?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Eating Gluten Free: Are you getting all your nutrients? | Guest Post

If you're wondering what nutrient deficiencies arise by following a gluten-free diet, I'll let you in on a big secret.

There isn't a nutrient found in a gluten-filled grain or food product that you can't obtain elsewhere. In other words, you ain't missing out on nothin'.

Like Amber, I avoid gluten and dairy and am often questioned by well-meaning friends and strangers about how I get enough of certain vitamins and minerals. When it comes to allergen-free diets, there's an erroneous perception that you must deprive yourself of vital nourishment (and tasty food, too). 

Let's talk about gluten for a moment. Gluten is a protein found in grains like whole wheat, barley, spelt, kamut and rye. Of all the gluten-containing grains, wheat is the most ubiquitous in our food culture, found in everything from soups and sauces to shampoo and medications.

I won't deny that whole wheat has its benefits. It can promote digestive health, heart health and blood sugar balance. Wheat is also a good source of important nutrients like fibre, amino acids, B vitamins (which are essential for energy and nerve function), vitamin E, magnesium, iron and zinc.

Unfortunately, most of the whole wheat on the market has been so processed, hybridized and refined that many of these nutrients have been stripped away.  Dr. William Davis, author of the new book 'Wheat Belly', says another downside of wheat is it makes you fat.

However, gluten-free grains have fibre, amino acids, B vitamins and the rest of the gang, too.

Let's do a little comparison shopping. A cup of quinoa has more than double the iron, four times the vitamin E, four and a half times the essential fatty acids and significantly higher amounts of zinc, mangnesium, calcium and potassium than a cup of whole wheat.

Brown rice has nearly 20 times the amount of selenium - a potent cancer-fighting antioxidant - than whole wheat. Buckwheat (despite the name, it's gluten-free) has more vitamin K, magnesium and potassium than whole wheat, along with 35 percent less sodium.

But you know what else has plenty of vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential fats and fibre? Fruits and vegetables. Beans and legumes. Nuts and seeds. Lean meat and fish.

A diet rich in these foods (especially the fruits and veggies) is what will keep you in good stead. Wheat has only been cultivated for about 12,000 years – yet us humans have been around far longer than that. It's estimated that 300,000 Canadians and two million Americans have celiac disease, and yet there haven't been reports of these people dropping like flies. So I think it's safe to say that gluten isn't essential to our survival.

I believe that the biggest challenge of shifting to a gluten-free diet is making the commitment to cook at home. Gluten-free diets, or any alternative diets for that matter, propel us to forgo pre-prepared, processed convenience foods in favour of old-fashioned home cooking.

Eating a gluten-free diet of freshly-cooked, whole foods is simple and delicious once you learn the basics, and it definitely provides you with all of the nutrients you need to thrive. So please don't let anyone guilt you into thinking you or your child cannot be healthy because you choose to eliminate gluten. 

Sondi Bruner is a Vancouver-based food blogger, freelance writer and holistic nutrition student who believes that fresh, whole foods contain tremendous power. Explore gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian recipes on her blog, The Copycat Cook

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Define Me

To be unique is to be original, one-of-a-kind, special even.  From a biological perspective our mere existence as human beings makes us unique; each person a completely different genetic make up than the next.  So why is it that when Today's Parent asked bloggers to reflect on our uniqueness, the task has proven to be so difficult?

It's easy to rattle off facts, but I'm certain there are other people that can lay claim to these same statements:

When I'm not on maternity leave, I'm a working mother.
I am half Chinese and my children are a quarter Chinese.
I eat gluten-free.

It's the people I love, the stories I tell, the experiences I have, the decisions I make and the lessons I learn that define me, those are the things make me unique.

When I first returned to work, I didn't just complain about the struggle to find my work-life balance, I carefully reflected on my situation and shared my 5 Survival Tips for the Working Momma.  This is not to say that it was easy; in five short months I'll be back at work and both my precious boys will be in daycare, something I am simultaneously dreading and anticipating.

Insence Speaking of expectations, when I was pregnant with the boy and we were working on the impossible task of picking a name, it was essential to me that my family name be passed on.  Both of my boys have two middle names, the second of which is my maiden name.  It's important to me that my children don't lose sight of their heritage even if they don't understand the language.  I don't speak Chinese and I don't go to temple, but when I'm with my grandmother I know how I'm supposed to behave.  I light incense, I bow and everything is done with two hands.  It is my responsibility to ensure that as my boys age, they learn to embrace their Chinese side.  It's my heritage and I will work to ensure those boys feel that its theirs too.

One of my biggest struggles is how to expose the boys to Chinese cuisine given our multiple allergies; in addition to my gluten intolerance, the boy doesn't eat dairy or soy.  Chinese food without soy is a challenge, but when it comes to cooking, I rise to the challenge, I've found a version of fried rice the boy gobbles right up.  I love to cook and bake so I've embraced our restricted diet and jumped in with both feet.  I am slowly discovering and creating recipes for feel-good food like pizza and Beer Battered Fish & Chips.

What makes me unique is my personal collection of experience, beliefs and passion, just as those things make each and every one of us an original copy.

This post was written for the Today's Parent Call for Bloggers

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Happy

hugsThe boy isn't all that expressive with his emotions; he's never particularly liked to be touched (unless its on his terms) nor has he ever been very generous with his hugs and kisses.

Much to our parental delight, that started to change recently.  The boy began to verbally express his feelings.  I remember the first time, It was morning and he'd been playing in his room for about 20 minutes.  The moment I opened his bedroom door he ran to me, gave me a huge hug and exclaimed that he was 'so happy'.

In that moment, my heart melted and continues to melt, each and every time he tells me that he's so happy.

For the hubs and I, those two words are practically an addiction, like crack for parents.  Every time we open his bedroom door we silently hope that the onslaught of love from our little man is there waiting for us.  Of course its not, because if it was, it would become commonplace far too fast.

Despite our efforts, those two words will not be tricked or coerced out of him, we simply must wait for his moments of joy and revel in the love that our little man chooses to share with us.

When he's so happy, its infectious, we are too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Craft Fair

I have so many fond memories of sitting on the floor of my mom`s sewing room, listening to oldies on the radio and making all sort of crafts; sewing, gluing, ironing, you name it we did it.  Of course I was usually making random crafts, while my mom was making crafts for selling, but regardless we spent many hours in that room together.

Given the recent rekindling of my relationship with sewing, I`ve been working with my mom to make some baby related items to sell at a few local craft fairs that we are going to attend with my gramma. We`ve also started up an Etsy Shop, Mom Love- to sell all of our goods, I hope to have some items listed very soon.
Here are a few photos of items that we will have for sale both at the Craft Fairs and in our Etsy Shop.

sewing-11sewing-10My personal favourites are the lovee security blankets.  These little blankets measure approximately 16"x14" and are made from shaggy minky fleece and patterned satin.  We have lovees in a variety of colours, in addition to the white there is brown, pink and blue minky fleece and we have satin in cherry, owls and a few geometric patterns.  These lovee blankets and are the perfect size for little hands and provide great tactile variety; my little man can't get enough of his whether he's in the car seat, Ergo carrier, playing on the floor or in his crib.

sewing-5sewing-4Our pacifier clips come in a number of fun fabrics, including a number of Christmas styles.  What makes our clips unique is that they are all finished with either a teddy bear or heart shaped clips.  These pacifier clips are a perfect compliment to a holiday outfit or for everyday wear.
sewing-9 Our reversible drool bandannas are made with three layers for the ultimate drool protection. An absorbent (and cute) flannel top layer, a water resistant core and an ultra soft minky fleece layer next to your little ones' skin.  Not only are they functional they are so much cuter than a traditional bib.

We also have a number of handmade quilts, including this lovely nautical themed blanket.
sewingLast but not least, if traditional bibs are more your style, we have reversible bibs with a cotton upper and either a flannel or minky fleece bottom.

We will have a number of other items for sale including burp cloths, and cloth bags to name a few.

This Saturday we will be at a craft fair in Ladner BC at the McKee Christmas House Craft Fair , if you happen to be in the area, drop by and say hello.  Here are the details:

McKee Seniors' Recreation Centre

Christmas Craft Fair
Saturday November 19

Next Saturday, we`ll be at the Steveston Christmas Craft Fair - a much busier and bigger event.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wish List

Apparently its November 13.  Its almost December and I feel like the last two weeks were literally a blur.  We had Halloween, the boy had a hearing test and a consultation with a specialist, the baby had his 6 month shots, cut a tooth and had a cold.  Add on two mornings of preschool for the boy and time has been scarce.

Christmas is in a month and a half and my family has been asking for a Wish List since the beginning of the month.  What I really really want is one big item, a new laptop, but if that`s not the case, I`d like to have a few of these under the tree this year.
  • A new laptop, nothing too fancy, but something that I can use for blogging and has the capacity to run Lightroom for my photos.
  • A remote timer for Nikon D3000, they are under $5 on ebay, I haven`t priced them out in store, but I can`t imagine they are that cheap.
  • Soft leather gloves to keep my hands warm and my eczema under control.  Size L.
  • A nice pair of Slippers, I usually buy my Mom and Mother in law real sheepskin slippers at Costco for about $30, I`d love a pair of those.  Size 9.
  • Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasionmy sister got me a sample and its great.
  • Body Shop Mango Body Butter we used it as children and although its consistency has changed since then, I still love it.  Plus it works great for the boy and his sensitive skin.
  • A new set of measuring spoons, not the kind on a ring, I want to be able to use one spoon at a time.
  • Gevalia Decaf Espresso, Maxwell House Decaf or Gevalia Dark Roast T-Discs for my Tassimo Machine, mmm homemade Americano`s here I come.  I`m not sure if you can get the decaf espresso in store (I`ve never seen it), but its free shipping right now when purchased online!
And a few big ticket items; definitely more wish than a list.
  • Phillips Sonicare Toothbrush, we tried them at Blissdom Canada and they were amazing. 
  • A large purse style camera bag, love the Epiphanie Ginger but its a pretty big ticket item that I would never expect.
  • A Kindle e-reader would be amazing, we bought both my mom and my mother-in-law one this year, so there`s lots of book lending potential, plus I hear that we may be able to borrow ebooks from the library soon!
I feel like there`s so much more that I want, but at this moment its all that I can think of.  I may add more items as I think of them.  What are you asking for this year?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WHY I Eat Gluten-Free

A friend recently introduced me (via facebook) to a good friend of hers who has been diagnosed with Celiac's disease and she asked me about my gluten-free story. In that moment I realized I hadn't truly shared my experience with gluten here on the blog. I had already been gluten-free for a few years when I started the Momma Stuff Blog so although its part of who I am, I never stopped to tell you how I got here.

People always ask, in a bit of a hushed tone, what happens when I eat gluten. I sometimes think they know what I'm going to say and they just want me to tell them. Their hushed tone is completely appropriate for a question that warrants 'I get a really upset stomach and have to run to the bathroom' for an answer.

I can tell you the exact date I went gluten-free, July 19, 2007.  After years of stomach aches and daily diarrhea, my discomfort had progressed to include intense cramping, which I knew wasn't normal. My doctor nonchalantly suggested there was a small chance I could have trouble with gluten and that I should try excluding it from my diet

She was right, within five days I felt dramatically better; I never realized how bad I was feeling until I started to feel better. 

The emotional aspect of going gluten-free was much harder; once I started to feel better I knew I didn't want to feel like 'that' anymore but excluding gluten felt like such an impossible task.  For over a month, I barely ate anything.  Food just didn't seem appetizing and the mere thought of my stomach cramping up was more than enough to make me turn away from food.  That said, once I got over my fear and anger that I could no longer eat gluten, I started to experiment with food and before I knew it I was cooking up a storm and eating like crazy.

You may have noticed that I have never made reference to myself as an individual with Celiac's disease, this is simply because I do not know, nor will I likely ever know, whether I have this particular affliction.  My doctor didn't send me for testing until I had been gluten-free for over a year and the test is known to give false negatives for those on a gluten-free diet.  I am personally am not willing to eat gluten and feel sick in order to have a test that will simply prescribe that I don't eat the foods I already know make me sick.  As such, I simply consider myself 'gluten-free'.

Over the years I have found substitutes or alternatives to nearly all of my favourite foods and I literally cringe when I hear people talk about how awful eating gluten-free must be, or how much their child is 'missing out' by eating gluten-free.  The only thing gluten-free eaters are missing out on, is feeling horrible and damaging our bodies.

I'm slowly populating the RECIPES section of the blog, but have many more recipes than are posted, so if you have any requests, please let me know and I'll do my best to come up with something that can meet your dietary needs.  As a result of the boys' allergies and sensitivities most of my recipes are not only gluten-free, they are also dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free.

There are obviously many more facets to my gluten-free story, this is merely the beginning.

What's your story?  Are you or someone you know gluten-free?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Mini-Muffin Recipe | gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free

I adore the smell of pumpkin cooking, so when fall comes around, I start itching for pumpkin loaf, pumpkin muffins or even pumpkin butter.  Up until recently I hadn't found a recipe that I was in love with so I decided to adapt my childhood favourite, my Mom's Weight Watchers Pumpkin mini-muffins.

The results are phenomenal, moist but light, flavourful and sweet, seriously mmm, mmm, good and kid-approved.  On top of all this tasty (and nutritional) goodness, these bad boys are super easy to make and would be totally do-able with a toddler in tow.

As you may know, I generally shy away from gluten-free flour mixes, but I recently tried one for a waffle recipe in my Living Without magazine and was left with about 5 cups for random baking.  Much to my surprise,  I was consistently impressed with the results; it still needed something, in my opinion, so I added a bit of sorghum flour to add a bit more texture, minimize the chewiness of the final products and boost the protein.  Before I knew it, I had a flour mix that I trusted.

Since this recipe uses a very small amount of gluten-free flour, and I have a lot less time for baking now that I'm a mom to two, I opted to use the flour mixture here, I'm fairly certain most gluten-free flour mixtures would work, or even all purpose flour for those of you that aren't gluten-free.  The gluten-free flour mix recipe is included after the mini-muffin recipe.

For those of you into 'clean eating' I'm also going to try substituting the sugar for some agave or honey, if you try this I would recommend adding another 1-2 Tbsp of the gluten-free flour mix to balance out the wetness of the sweetner.  Please let me know how it works out.

gluten-free pumpkin mini muffins
Pumpkin Mini Muffins
(gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp gluten-free flour mix
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp maple or vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp raisins
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly oil mini-muffin tins.
  2. Whisk together gluten-free flour, sugar, baking soda, xantham gum, cream of tartar and spices in a medium bowl.
  3. Blend together the eggs, pumpkin, coconut milk and extract.
  4. Mix the raisins and carrot into the wet mixture.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well to combine; batter will be quite thin.
  6. Spoon batter evenly into mini muffin tins and bake for 20-25minutes until the tops are lightly firm and bounce back when you touch them.
  7. Leave muffins in the pan and cool on a rack before unmolding.
  8. Enjoy.
yield: 24 mini muffins
Gluten-Free Flour Mix
(adapted from Living Without's 'Mary's All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend')

  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 1-1/3 cups potato starch
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch
  1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
  2. Store in a sealed container or mix right into a large Ziploc bag and use as needed for gluten-free baking.
yield: 7 cups

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

5 Tips for Choosing Babies' First Foods | Starting Solids v3

Starting solids is exciting, but choosing the 'right' foods can be intimidating and scary.  You want to provide nutritious and delicious foods in an order that is appetizing and varied in order to ensure that your little one is off to the best possible start when it comes to eating solids.

There are many schools of thought on the best way to proceed; cereals first as a bland start for sensitive tummies, veggies first to prevent a sweet tooth, fruits first to encourage enjoyment of food, meats first to restore depleting iron reserves and of course there is the baby-led weaning school of thought, which skips pureed foods altogether.

Is there a CORRECT way to introduce solids?  That of course depends on who you ask; you're likely to get a different response if you ask your doctor than if you ask a seasoned mother.  As always choosing foods needs to be tailored to you, your family and your beliefs.

I am in no way an expert, or even educated in nutrition or the introduction of solids, however here are some tips, based entirely on my personal experiences, to help you choose your babies' first foods.
Introduce foods your family already eats, those are the flavours your child will be exposed to for a lifetime, and if you're breastfeeding he's already had a taste for them through your milk.

Introduce foods that are complementary, think about blending flavours so they appeal to your little ones senses.  Pears was one of our first foods as it blends beautifully with other fruits, meats or vegetables and its sweetness makes nearly any combination palatable.

Introduce a variety of foods, I don't want to eat straight vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner and your baby probably doesn't either.  By introducing a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables your little one will start off their introduction to solids with well balanced 'meals'.

Introduce new foods three days apart, in order to identify any sensitivities that your child may have.  There is no need to feed only the newest food introduced, however if possible feed it to your child all three days as a reaction will sometimes occur as the food accumulates in his system.
Establish a routine; I began feeding the baby boy twice a day the first week and was up to three times a day by the second week.  Again you are setting the foundation for your child's lifelong eating habits and by feeding solids (even a small amount) three times a day, you are making 'meals', not snacks, a priority for your child.
I've already shared the baby boy's first five foods, and a recipe for homemade Quinoa baby food; here's a list of the baby boy's second five foods.  Out of the entire batch, bananas are probably his least favourite, though its not suprising neither the hubs and I are fans and the boy only recently started to enjoy them.
    1. Quinoa
    2. Zucchini
    3. Prunes
    4. Bananas
    5. Carrots
What are your thoughts on introducing solids?  How did you decide what foods to introduce first?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Believe in Sleep Training

Perhaps a controversial post title, but its true.  Despite the wondrousness of snuggles and cuddles, I don't believe that we are doing our children any favours if we don't teach them the skills to fall asleep on their own and begin to soothe themselves when they wake.  That said, I also don't believe in letting my children scream indefintely in an attempt to teach them said skills.

I want them to feel supported, loved and cared for, I want them to fall asleep knowing that I am there if they need me.  It may sound like a contradiction, but sleep training means many different things to many different people and for us, all of this is achievable.  I use the Baby Whisperer's pick up/put down (pu/pd) method as a general guideline.  Pu/pd doesn't mandate crying it out, in fact you are instructed to go to your child if they start to cry.  The trick is not to revert to soothing your child back to sleep, but rather allow them to do that for themselves, once they settle.

I recognize there are many methods of sleep training, and many people both for and against it; regardless, here are some tips and tricks that work for us.  It's been just over a week and already the baby boy has started falling asleep without me in the room, at least most of the time.
Establish a strong 'sleepytime' routine.  For us that includes a diaper change, a swaddle, a book, a quick snuggle and lullaby then upstairs and into the crib.  Be consistent with your words and signs (if you are using them) so your baby can begin to recognize what is happening.  I always tell my boys when we are getting ready for 'sleepytime' and tell them 'night night its sleepytime' whenever I leave their room.

When you put the babe into the crib, there is no need to just drop them and get out of dodge.  Provide a little comfort, let him feel your presence.  Rhythmically pat his belly (or back) while making a soft shushing sound, if the baby seems unsettled, I often tell him 'its ok, its just sleepytime' and sometimes I even sing a lullaby while I pat his back.  The first few days the baby boy fell asleep while I patted him, and that's ok.  Don't worry, as you settle into the routine you can cut the shush patting shorter and shorter, in fact you likely won't even need it after a while. 

Pick him up
Quite simply, if your baby is crying and needs you, go to him.  Pick him up.  Try not to rock, pat, sing or otherwise soothe your child. This is hard and I sometimes break this rule but its worth trying to do.

Put him down
As soon as he settles, put him back into his crib and use your key words: ours are 'night night, sleepytime'.   Give more shush pats as needed.  If the baby starts to scream on the way back to the crib, lay him all the way down before you pick him up again so that you aren't rewarding the crying.

Grumbles vs cries
Know the difference between a grumble and a cry, they are very different things.  If your child is making noises, lightly crying or whining he may be either playing or trying to settle and soothe himself.  Don't go into the room, he's ok.  If however he srarts wailing and pulling on your heartstrings, don't hesitate, go to him.

Leave the room
If your baby seems to be settling with the shush pats, don't linger, leave the room.  You may not get very far before he calls you back the first few times, but he'll get used to it.  Use comforting and consistent words when you leave and don't be afraid to use a mobile or white noise if your baby likes it.  The baby boy likes the heartbeat sound and if he doesn't seem to be acting sleepy, but I know he is, I'll turn on the mobile when I leave.  I haven't had to go back in the last 4-5 times I left the baby boy watching the mobile, what a good boy.

Don't stop
Finally, the most important thing, once you start sleep training, don't stop.  Don't give in.  Don't revert back.  Even though it may seem easier in the moment, every time you revert back to your old sleep methods the babe is winning a little battle.  At my house, I try and keep the cards stacked in my favour, I want to win those battles and you should too.

For us, sleep training works, not only does it give my boys essential skills, its gives Mom and Dad a little bit of a break.  I did sleep training with the boy at 5 months, we went from 45 minutes of swaddling, rocking and cuddling to sleeping on his own within a span of just over two weeks.  The baby's sleep routine was much shorter than the boys, so I didn't officially begin sleep training until he was almost 6 months old.  After just over a week, things are going smoothly, we are falling into a good sleepytime routine and the baby's starting to fall asleep on his own.

How do you feel about sleep training?  Do you belive in it?  Has it worked for your family?  What are your tricks to make it work? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sewing For Boys | Review & Giveaway

You may have noticed that I've been writing and tweeting about sewing with increasing frequency these days.  Newsflash, I forgot I loved it.  I love creating something unique from simple materials just as much as I love creating something delicious from simple ingredients.  It's just a part of who I am.

Before the baby was born I found myself making cute little dresses, in case my little green baby was a girl, then after he was born I only made dresses for presents and eventually I found a great pattern to make an uber cute hoody for the boy.  Unfortunately, since then I've had trouble finding boy patterns that are cute enough to be worth the effort to sew.

Granted its easy enough to make piles of little boy pants, but I need to be inspired or I might as well hem the pile of pants my husband has sitting on his dresser.  I want something with excitement and cuteness if I'm going to spend my spare moments sewing.

Sewing For Boys by Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage of Patterns by Figgy provide '24 Projects to Create a Handmade Wardrobe', just for little boys.  It takes into account both the rough and tumble and the sweet and adorable sides of our little men.
sewing4boys Mr. Two Face Pants Easy Linen Shirt Just Like Dad Robe
The book is gorgeous; hard cover with a spiral binding and an envelope to safely store the precious patterns.  The photography captures the whimsical nature of little boys and definitely inspires.  I made a pair of the 'mr.two face pants' and although I was skeptical of the two toned nature of them, it turns out that once completed, I just love them.  The 6-12 month size fit  my chubby little man perfectly, even over his bulky cloth diapers.  The only fabric I had on hand was thin broadcloth so I lined the pants with some spare flannel and used french seams to keep things clean and they turned out beautifully, in fact I have another pair cut out in my sewing box.

I also have some fabric cut out to make the 'easy linen shirt' for the boy, not only does it look adorable, I've reviewed the instructions in detail and its a very straightforward pattern.  In fact, overall the instructions in Sewing For Boys manage to provide enough information to inspire confidence without overwhelming the reader with unnecessary information.

Finally, I'm planning to make the 'Just-like-dad flannel robe' for the boy; although I'm not a huge fan of licensed fabrics, I got some Buzz Lightyear flannel on sale for $3.98 a metre that will be absolutley perfect, he's going to love it.

There are so many other great patterns in 'Sewing For Boys', these are only the first few that I plan to make throughout my boys' childhood.  Since the patterns range from newborn through 7 years old, I plan on getting plenty of use out of this book.  If you have little boys to sew for, regardless whether they are sons, nephews, grandchildren or otherwise, trust me, you WANT this book.  We are giving away a copy of 'Sewing for Boys' to one lucky Momma Stuff Blog, to enter, check out the Rafflecopter after the jump.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Quinoa for Baby | Starting Solids v2

I love Quinoa, granted I don't just eat it plain by the bucketful, but its so hearty mixed into salads and soups, adds extra nutrition, protein and fibre to baked goods and is amazing for breakfast as a hot cereal.  When the boy moved onto textured foods, quinoa was one of his favourites; if he wasn't feeling well he would almost always eat a bowl of quinoa and applesauce, perhaps with a little bit of chicken mixed in.

As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with that; quinoa is naturally gluten-free and has 2.5 grams of fibre and 4 grams of protein in a half a cup.  This superfood also contains iron, calcium and magnesium, it truly is both nutritious and delicious for adults and children alike..

After a bit of research, I decided that this time around I would introduce the baby boy to Quinoa much earlier in the game.  As I mentioned previously, I decided to use the Quinoa 365 method of cooking quinoa for baby since I've loved nearly everything I've made out of the cookbook.

Quinoa 365 provides easy instructions for using quinoa seeds, flakes or flour to make baby food, but I'm using the seeds as they are the least processed and therefore the most nutritious for baby.  If you are interested in the other methods, send me an email.

Quinoa baby food is super easy to make and I was impressed with the smooth texture after pureeing.  It freezes beautifully, but is a little denser than some of the fruit/vegetable purees and thus takes a little bit longer to defrost and warm up.  Since the flavour of quinoa is relatively strong, I recommend mixing it with another food that your little one is already accustomed to.  My baby boy has been happily eating his quinoa for breakfast with pureed pears and for dinner with yams and chicken.

Quinoa Baby Food

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1-1/4 cup water
  • additional water for blending
  • Place quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes; do not remove the lid.
  • Turn off heat, but leave covered pot on the burner for an additional 25 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Blend with additional water to create a smooth texture.
  • Feed to your baby or freeze for future feedings.
If you haven't already, check out: Starting Solids v1

Friday, October 21, 2011

Press Pause for Halloween

When I think about Halloween I instinctually think of costumes and candy; I used to wear costumes and get candy and now its more about the kids costumes and giving out candy. For some reason I never seem to think about Halloween at the next level, I never think of it as a special day full of tradition and worthy of effort, though it truly is.

Growing up I was the oldest of three; we always took pillowcases trick-or-treating, they were easy to carry and they could hold tons of candy.  My brother would always be ready to go home first, usually after only a couple blocks, satisfied that he had enough candy to keep him happy.  My little sister on the other hand could trick-or-treat forever, however she could also convince my Dad to carry her once she got tired, which always seemed unfair. When we arrived back home the three of us would sit on the floor in the rec room, dump out our bags and sort our loot, trying to trade away our least favourites to get the best possible candy stash.

And since I've become an adult, got married and had kids my Halloween traditions have, and continue to, evolve.

This realization came about after Hallmark sent me some product; I immediately started to imagine how we would use them. Instinctively I thought that my mom or mother-in-law would love the hokey pokey skeleton, but after watching the boy press the 'button' then 'shake his head' along with it, over and over, I knew that we would be keeping him at our house.
I was also super intrigued by the Hocus Pocus Treat Presenter, which can be used as part of a Halloween display or instead of a bowl to hold candy.  Either way, its an innovative and memorable product for Halloween, I think my mother-in-law is going to love it.
Hallmark also sent me some Halloween greeting cards, including some with removable buttons or bracelets; I'm going to send them to the kids in my family and friend circles.  I remember how exciting it was to get mail as a child and these cards are so fun, I can hardly wait to hear what they all think of them.

Somewhere along the line Halloween has become an important holiday to me, and I think that's exactly what Hallmark is trying to remind us of with their Press Pause panel and 'Life is a Special Occasion' campaign.  That any day, any moment, can be memorable and special if we simply take the time to stop and make it so.

I was provided with product by Hallmark as part of the Press Pause Panel for the purposes of this review, however all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Simply Bliss

After three days of Blissdom Canada excitement, I am eager to take my blogging to the next level, I want my blog to evolve and grow just as I have this past weekend in Toronto.  The number one take-home message I gleaned from Blissdom Canada is simply stay true to yourself; and this applies regardless whether talking about the posts you choose to write, the brands you choose to work with or the words you use to communicate.

bliss-22My first task is finding a more effective system of turning the random thoughts and ideas rolling around in my mind into blog posts.  In a day I have tons of fleeting ideas triggered by anything from people I meet, phrases I hear or things I see.  Many would make great posts, but in my haste to create thoughtful, well-edited and usually photographed posts, many of these potential ideas fall to the wayside.

That's something I'll be working on, but for now I just want to revel in Blissdom.  I already wish I had taken more photos, but I was just too busy soaking it all in or taking care of the baby.

I absolutely loved 'Nostalgia Lane' (aka the CBC Radio Museum), where I had a chance to sit in Mr. Dressup's tree, touch the stool and easel that Mr. Dressup actually sat on and look at THE tickle trunk up close and personal.
bliss-9 bliss-12
  bliss-10 bliss-20 bliss-21 bliss-8
bliss-4 bliss-5
The baby boy was pretty amazing; he attended just a few sessions since I was fortunate enough to have my sister along to help with the babysitting.  The little guy just loved the Fisher Price Jumperoo (its like an exersaucer and jolly jumper in one) and the girls at Mom Central Canada and the Fisher Price suite were great about letting him visit and play.

All of the sessions and the panelists were fabulous, here are some quotes I tweeted during Blissdom Canada. Seriously, brain food for bloggers.
  • 'If you want to improve, be content to be though foolish and stupid' --Epictetus, who was not at all stupid. @herbadmother
  • Be confident in who you are and what you do @alisonipr
  • The 'employer' has to want you as much as you want them... @kathybuckworth
  • There is power in saying no @barbarajones
  • Your blog is your home and you make the rules @marrtinwaxman
  • 'I live in the country of motherhood right now'
  • Take the time to invest in you...and have an engaged community...and you can make magic happen @jeffpulver
  • write about something you really care about and when you hit publish be prepared to answer for it @nummiesbras  
  • If you let people dictate to you who you are, you will very quickly lose yourself.  
Except for the opening and closing parties I didn't manage to attend any of the evening activities; in truth I felt like it was more important to spend time with the baby boy.  Fortunately that left me with a little bit of a chance to explore Toronto, including a meal at the Kensington Cornerstone Restaurant'; a completely gluten-free dining experience where I had deep fried goodness in the form of kalamari and chicken strips.

Although it meant that the conference had come to an end, the much anticipated Costume and Karaoke party was tons of fun and I absolutely loved my costume.  I admit that I was nervous about going down to the party, but once I got there it was impossible not to smile seeing all of the innovative costumes, including fellow 80's cartoon, Rainbow Brite.
bliss-13-1 bliss BlissDom
And of course there was the surprise visit by Jordan Knight formerly of the New Kids on the Block. It wasn't until the girls convinced him to Karaoke 'Step by Step' that I remembered how much I LOVED New Kids back in the day.
bliss-15bliss-14 bliss-16
All in all, Blissdom was amazing (and a little exhausting), I just hope that this will be the first of many blogging conferences in my lifetime.