Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Wish for Every Child to Have a Bully-Free Journey | Pink Shirt Day 2012

In celebration of Pink Shirt Day a number of local schools, students and the school district organized a flash mob at a local shopping centre.  Watching this video honestly made me start to cry; we have come so far since I was their age.  Although it still happens, with initiatives like these, bullying is far less acceptable than it once was.

Bullying is very real; its awful, its hurtful and it can and does have lifelong implications.  You may remember Reena Virk the teenage girl who was bullied and ultimately murdered back in 1997.  The thought of it still makes me teary eyed, the same month my younger brother's experience with bullying peaked.  It's not my story to tell, but the short story is that he was approached by almost 35 kids and when they left him he was alone, laying on the road, falling in and out of consciousness.

His kneecap was nearly split in half and he suffers physical pain nearly every day.  He had to give up skateboarding at a time when it was his solace and although he can still snowboard he needs a hearty does of Advil to make it through the day.

My brother is amazing, and wouldn't be the same person today if he hadn't been bullied; I have the utmost respect for both his strength and resilience.  That said, I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that his path through adolescence had been bully-free.

As a parent, I wish for every child to have a bully-free journey.

Tomorrow is Pink Shirt Day, an amazing anti-bullying initiative and I believe that together we can successfully make bullying a thing of the past.  Below is a PSA put together by the folks at Pink Shirt Day.

I'll be wearing a pink shirt tomorrow, will you?

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lorax Movie Premiere | Presented by Seventh Generation

The Lorax
Before I was a mother and into my early days as a wife, I worked in Stewardship.  I spent my time working to preserve the environment by inspiring others to volunteer and work by my side to make a difference one small step at a time.  We removed invasive weeds, planted native vegetation, hung and cleaned bird houses, picked up garbage and educated others on the ways they too could make a difference.

Although we worked in all sorts of inclement weather, including dreary Vancouver rain and snow, each year I made a point of having an afternoon in to enjoy the original Lorax Movie and facilitate the important discussions that the movie always prompted.

When I heard there was going to be a new Lorax movie, I knew that I wanted, no needed, to see it.  So when Seventh Generation invited me to their green carpet premiere screening in North Vancouver, I jumped at the opportunity, despite the fact that the event was at a theatre more than 45 minutes from my home.

I have so many fond memories of going to the movie theatre with my Dad and he has been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to take the boy to a movie, so it was an obvious choice to invite him to join us at the screening.
Waiting to go into the Theatre

When we arrived, we knew we were in the right place, there were families lined up outside the theatre and we promptly joined the crowd.  Although it was windy, the line moved quickly and before we knew it we were inside being greeted by the Seventh Generation staff.
Seventh Generation
Popcorn and Bevvies My Dad loves popcorn, though his teeth (and his dentist) advise against it, so he keeps his consumption low.  He was planning to share a kids pack with the boy; imagine his delight when we were handed tickets for our full sized popcorn and beverage, all courtesy of Seventh Generation.

The boy has had plain air-popped popcorn once and in truth he wasn't much of a fan, but after all our talk of popcorn, he was excited to see what it was all about.  Turns out he loved movie theatre popcorn, he must have eaten close to half a bag.

The Lorax was fabulous, they did a great job accurately incorporating the original story into a movie that younger generations can relate to.

Seventh Generation 4X Laundry DetergentAfter I left the theatre my drive to preserve the environment and find ways to make a difference was revitalized. Fortunately, our swag bag from the folks at Seventh Generation not only included their brand new 4X laundry detergent (in a fully compostable packaging), it also included a booklet full of great tips to green your lifestyle.

Here's some food for thought courtesy of Seventh Generation:
  • 75% of the electricity that powers home electronics is consumed when the products are turned off.  Unplug [them]...when you aren't using them.
  • If every home in Canada replaced one roll of virgin bleached toilet paper with recycled, we'd save almost 48,000 trees and prevent 4,500kg of air and water pollution.
  • Turn off the tap! Save about 11 litres of water by turning off the tap when you brush your teeth or wash your face.
  • On average, each Canadian uses a staggering 343 litres of water per day.
  • Keep a pitcher and some reusable bottles filled with water in the fridge. Why? The water helps maintain the cool temperature inside and allows your refrigerator to work more efficiently.
Although I no longer work in stewardship and motherhood is my number one job, the environment is still in the forefront of my being and my full-time job (that I will be returning to in only a few short months).  I may not be a magical forest creature like the Lorax, but each and every one of us has the power to drive change and make our planet a healthy place for generations to come.

"Unless someone like you care a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not." -The Lorax

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A New Generation of Gluten-Free Freezer Food | Kettle Cuisine All Natural Soups

Lunch is my least favourite meal of the day and as a result my meals tend to get boring and stagnant, especially when I'm at home with the boys.  So when I had the chance to warm up my winter lunches with some gluten-free soup from Kettle Cuisine, I was more than a little excited.

Kettle Cuisine is nothing like soup from a can, it truly looks and tastes like homemade, best of all not only can I read all of the ingredients on the package, they are made from whole foods and actually look like the picture on the package.  Kettle Cuisine offers both vegetarian and meat-containing products, but rest assured all meats used are naturally raised, which means they are antibiotic free and raised in a humane and sustainable manner.

Precisely what I want in pre-packaged food; nutritious and delicious as I like to say.
Jan2012 035
I had a chance to test out five of the eight Kettle Cuisine soup varieties; the tomato soup with garden vegetables, the angus beef steak chili, the chicken soup with rice noodles, the three bean chili and the new England clam chowder.  My favourites are the tomato soup and vegetable (which is suprising as I generally don't like tomato soup) and the angus steak chili, the beef was so tender and delicious.

To say I was impressed would be an understatement, I don't generally care of soups, but I couldn't get enough of Kettle Cuisine.  Paired with a sandwich, on gluten-free bread of course, Kettle Cuisine soup makes a perfect (and quick) lunch on a dreary Vancouver afternoon.

If you don't believe me, you should have seen the lineup at the Kettle Cuisine booth at the Vancouver Gluten-Free Expo.

You can find out more about Kettle Cuisine on the web, on Facebook and on Twitter.

I received Kettle Cuisine soups for the purposes of this review, however all opinions are my own.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Unexpected Effect of Potty Training on Naptime

If you can believe it, until about a month ago, the boy would happily toddle upstairs for a nap nearly every day. Lucky, I know.  Unfortunately an unexpected side effect of potty training has been a sudden refusal to nap.  The little guy may be almost three, but he still needs a nap; he's exhausted and constantly has bags under his eyes.

For the first couple of weeks I alternated between putting him in his room (and allowing him to scream for 10-20 minutes until he fell asleep) and plopping him on the couch with a movie so he would veg out for an hour or so and unwind.  Unfortunately, he then started to outlast me with the screaming and I eventually stopped trying to get him to nap altogether.

A month of not napping is definitely catching up with him, the other day he told me 'I tired' at 10am.  He promptly laid down on the couch and asked for a blanket and 'a little tv'.  Unfortunately these days a rest on the couch is simply not having the desired effect.  He doesn't rest for long and his cranky, moody, tired self promptly returns.

All of this I could probably live with, but the boy is the type of child that needs his sleep.  Sadly, the combination of an overtired and overstimulated boy frequently results in night wakings, based on my readings (and the fact that I had them) I assume they are night terrors.  He screams and screams and is not particularly soothed by our presence; in fact the only thing that calms him is leaving his room.  Although we do sometimes let him watch a show on TV, we don't want that to become habit so we try to avoid it.

Lately he's been waking just as we are going to bed and we have been letting him sleep in our bed, something we have worked very hard to avoid.

We have NEVER let him sleep in our bed before and we certainly don't want that to become a habit, so this week I started forcing him to nap again.  It seems easier to get him to nap in the day then to try and get him back into his room in the middle of the night.  Fortunately both yesterday and today, the screaming lasted only 20 minutes before he fell asleep.  He obviously needs the nap, I had to wake him up from a pretty deep sleep at 3:30 after a two hour nap and he still went to bed without a fuss at 7pm.

Did potty training have any unexpected effects? Do your kids nap? Do you let your kids sleep in your bed? Do your kids wake with night terrors? How do you cope?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Coffee for one with Tassimo | Review

Do you Tassimo?

I recently admitted that I'm a bit of a coffee addict so its probably not surprising that I'm quite particular about the coffee I choose to brew in my own home.  I've had tons of coffee makers since I first moved out on my own, back when I was in university.  I've had machines that brew into travel mugs, expensive coffee makers and cheap ones and one thing I can say with certainty is that brewed coffee tastes best when you make at least 6 cups.

The hubs doesn't drink coffee and considering I usually only drink one cup of coffee at a time, its seems wasteful to consistently brew more coffee than I need.  So when I won my Tassimo from Maple Leaf Mommy, I was eager to discover what it was all about.

My Tassimo brews great coffee quickly.  Each T-disc has a barcode that tells the machine exactly how to brew the coffee, including the precise temperature and quantity of water required to brew the perfect cup.  Since I've been home with my boys (and trying to cut back on my Starbucks addiction) my Tassimo has been my saviour.

There are a huge variety of coffee and tea options for the Tassimo; I allow myself one caffeinated coffee each morning and either the Americano or the Gevalia Dark Roast always hit the spot for me.  I love that you can buy t-discs just about anywhere: grocery stores, drug stores, department stores and even office supply stores.

Although I'm off of dairy these days, for the sake of the baby, the Tassimo also brews a mean latte, chai tea or hot chocolate simply add the milk T-Disc to the machine once your espresso, tea or chocolate syrup has finished brewing.

My favourite part of my Tassimo?  The boy comes running to help me make my coffee, its quite possibly one of the cutest parts of our morning routine.

So back to my original question, do you Tassimo?

You can find Tassimo Canada on the web, on Facebook and on Twitter.

FYI - there is a voluntary recall on some Tassimo T-discs and brewers; I have already registered for my replacement part and you should too!

I received sample t-discs for the purposes of this review, however all opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Medic Alert Bracelets: Do they work?

Three weeks ago my sister Kat went into anaphylactic shock.

I knew, without question, that a phone call at 3:30am meant someone was in trouble. Fortunately, she was already at the hospital recovering and her friend was by her side; the baby was due to wake up for a feed so it was close to 5:30 by the time I got to her.

Her reaction came on slowly, over a few hours and although she knows she’s allergic to hazelnuts and latex, she has still been unable to determine exactly what caused the reaction. She was in pretty rough shape and home from school for a week, though I think she’s pretty much recovered now.

Anaphylaxis is scary. I hope the boy will never have to fully experience it, however it’s a very real fear. Almost immediately after we found out the boy was allergic to peanuts, we got him a medic alert bracelet that he wears at all times. It provides peace or mind that regardless of the situation, the boys’ information will always be close at hand to those that would need it.

That belief is currently under review.

Although she was unable to talk, no one checked my sister for a medic alert bracelet. Despite her barely conscious, oxygen deprived state she waved her medic alert at the nurse who repeatedly pushed Kat’s arm away without a second glance.  She was a the hospital and NO ONE checked her for a medic alert bracelet.

Three weeks later and she still has a rash on her arm from the latex tourniquet used to start her IV; a minor reaction to a small but unnecessary action. If someone had checked her for a medic alert, they would have known to keep everything latex-free.

I can’t help but be disappointed. I always believed that wearing a medic alert was a proactive move; a medically recognized way to keep medical information is available, regardless of consciousness. But now I’m not so sure, Kat tells me this is the second time she's been to the hospital and no one checked her for a medic alert.

As a parent of a peanut allergic child, I NEED to believe that wearing a medic alert will help keep my boy safe.  I must stay strong and I can't allow my faith to be shaken; anaphylaxis is scary enough as is.

Do you or your family member wear a medic alert bracelet?  Do you know someone whose live was saved by their medic alert bracelet?  Or alternately, do you know someone else whose medic alert bracelet was ignored?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's all about the choice baby | Potty Training Month 2

I know I've been talking about potty training a lot lately, but its my reality and its exhausting.  For the first time since he was born, I really felt like I was losing a battle with the boy.  He wanted to wear the big boy undies and refused diapers but he also refused to sit on the potty and essentially peed wherever he felt like it. 

We've tried nearly every suggestion I've read to get him to sit on the potty: special books and toys, treats, bribery, reward charts, bubbles in the potty, sitting backwards on the potty, even watching tv while on the potty.  The only thing that's even been remotely helpful has been singing my 'pee pee in the potty' dance after a success.

Given that I see a lot of my brother in the boy, I decided to experiment with a tactic that worked for him.  Growing up, my little brother had ADD and one of the things that works for him is to always offer choices and allow him the illusion of control.

When the boy started to shriek and protest a trip to the potty, I calmly told him it was his choice; he could go pee pee in the potty or he could go and have a time out in his room.  I want to be clear, I was not trying to threaten or scare the boy into using the potty, I simply needed to provide an undesirable second option to increase the odds that he would choose the option I wanted.  Once he thought it through, he promptly chose to head to the washroom where he sat on the potty and went pee almost immediately.  Honestly, it felt like a miracle.

Since I started giving him a choice, he has not once chosen a time out (or time alone in his room as we usually call it) and we have had very few accidents.  The boy seems to be embracing his new role as the big boy and the big brother and its absolutely amazing.

It's been about a week since I introduced the choice and we've had a number of accident free days and even a two-day streak. but yesterday we had two major successes.  First, the boy peed in a public washroom (and on a full size toilet no less) and second, the boy initiated a successful trip to the potty; success truly does taste sweet.

I no longer need to offer a choice everytime I take the boy to the potty, more and more he is understanding how his body works and acts agreeable when its time to go to the potty.  It's true, potty training is a tough road, but they all get it eventually and when we embrace and celebrate the little steps along the way the road doesn't feel quite so bumpy.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'm a finalist in the Canadian Family Tales of Bliss Readers' Choice

Last February I was honored to win tickets to Blissdom Canada because of all your votes.  I had an amazing experience; I met fantastic people, heard thought-provoking speakers and found myself inspired in ways I'd never thought of.

While there, Jennifer Reynolds, Editor-In-Chief for Canadian Family issued an impromptu 'How did you find your bliss' challenge.  I spent a lot of time thinking about the topic, I wrote and re-wrote and re-worked the article until it really said what I wanted it to.

And now I'm honored, yet again, because I'm a finalist in the Canadian Family Tales of Bliss Readers Choice.  After the editors chose three stories to be published, they chose another thirteen they felt were worthy of sharing with their readers.  The stories are amazing and I hope you will have a chance to read them all, but it would mean the world to me if you would read my story and if you like it, I'd appreciate your vote.

(second to last entry) 

And once again, thank you all for your support, comments and overall awesomeness, in this instance and always.