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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Babywearing

One of the downfalls of living in a cold climate is trying to navigate the world of baby wearing in minus 30... that's minus 22 for you Fahrenheit folks... Over the years I have tried many different ways to have an active lifestyle in the winter while still keeping my baby close to my heart.

The benefit of having more than one child is that I was able to test out many different things over the years. To be honest, I haven't found what I would call the "perfect fit" for myself as of yet - but I still have 2 more winters to go before my littlest won't want to be up in my arms.

If you have tried any of the following and have a review that is different than mine, or have tried something else that you just loved, share it with me, I am always on the lookout for new baby wearing solutions for winter.

First things first. What should you and the baby wear under the jackets, etc?

Of course it depends on your climate, but for the most part a t-shirt and a cardigan for you and a onsie, and an outfit for them. I usually have my babies in babylegs or tights under pants, and if it is really cold and we are going for a long walk tights, baby legs and pants. Socks and booties like padraigs or robeez. They then go in the carrier. This is if the carrier is going under the jacket. If it is going over the jacket, then dress them as you would yourself, or if they were going to go in a stroller.

After you have the baby in the carrier there are many great options out there.


The mama jacket retails for about $300 and is a really nice looking baby wearing coat. It is great for milder winters (think of Vancouver) and can be used for both back and front carries.

What I loved : I really like the look of the jacket. It's wool and can be dressed up or down. It has a pregnancy insert which I found really helpful at 9 mos pregnant in December. It's really easy to use, the panel just zips in and the baby's head pops through the hole.

What I didn't love : It fits quite small so go up a size. I also did not find it warm enough for our prairie winters. (unless I layered). It can only accommodate front and back carriers, so no ring slings or pouches can be used. The neck area is not covered in the baby wearing insert so you need to wear a scarf or something and that can be cumbersome with a wrap as well.

I did like this jacket a lot and wore it often. It was great for the fall and spring and is really nice looking. Even getting it on and off of your back with a sleeping baby wasn't too difficult.


The peekaru is about $100 and is now made by Beco. I really like this option. It can be used for both front and back carries and is a nice warm fleece.

What I loved : This is really warm and perfect for when the weather is transitioning. I would wear a sweater or a hoodie under it, and my baby would be dressed up a little more - maybe one extra layer.
I would wear this either by itself or under my own winter jacket. (for warmer winter days as your coat could not zip up if you do this.) Really easy to use.

What I didn't love : It's not a jacket so your arms are exposed. That was about it though.


This is a new product made in Quebec so it is made for Canadian winters. It's about $200 and fits in any zippered winter jacket.

What I loved : That it fits in my own winter jacket. I like that it is warm as well. It has two places to sinch up the fabric to stop the cold air from getting to you or the baby.

What I didn't love : That it is only good for front carries. It seems a little big for me - but my newest babe is only 2 months old, so it should be better in a year. I don't like how the neck is again uncovered. They do sell a neck warmer separately which leads me to believe this is a common complaint. Also, you have to choose what type of zipper, so if your spouse has a different zipper than you - you will have to buy two different zipper attachments.

This product was pretty warm, which is something that is really great for an add on product.


The Suse's Kindercoat ($200) is the standard for the baby wearing industry. It's design is pretty flawless and has options for front, back and side carries. This is something that no other jacket provides. It also has a fleece liner so it can be used as a winter jacket or rain jacket instead.

What I loved: How warm it is. I was actually quite surprised about how much I liked this jacket. It isn't really my style - but what it lacks in style it makes up for in design. I loved how all of the hoods were in their own little pockets (including the mama's hood). The ability to wear the baby on your back and in a hip carry and still be just as warm is a huge plus. It comes with a little mesh bag to carry all of the other pieces (as they all zip on in different ways) so that you don't lose long as you don't misplace the bag!

What I didn't love : I don't like the way it looks. It is bulky and not flattering at all. I feel like a frump when I wear it - but it is so comfy and warm that I just have to put up with it.

This is the best of all of them in my opinion. The warmest, most versatile, and longest lasting (for all ages of babies). While you definitely have to watch a couple youtube videos on how to wear it - once you get the hang of it you can re-join the world in the winter.


This just goes to show you that you can baby wear without buying any of the above products. The pic below is a sweater jacket that is wool and stretches like crazy and I just put the baby in their wrap and zip it up and go. You gotta do what is in your budget and works!! If that means not having to push a stroller through un-shovelled sidewalks - you will find a way!!

Happy Babywearing!!

Ps. There are lots of other jackets, and ponchos available - however these are the only ones that I have tried so far. I will update this list if I get to try any more.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Last Birth Story - The birth of Audrey Jean

Well, I had been having braxton hicks pretty regular for weeks so when I woke up on the morning of the 22nd with more of them I just ignored them. I did feel like absolute crap and went to have a nap right after I woke up. I posted a depressing status about morning sickness returning and went to sleep for an hour. When I woke up it was 11am and they had still not subsided. We went to do some errands and I felt really tired. They were super consistent at 2 mins apart and 1 min in duration. So when we got home at about 12:30pm I called my midwives just to tell them that the BH were not stopping. They asked me to eat, rest and drink water and call back in an hour. 
My midwife actually decided to call me back before the hour was done and asked if they had stopped - which they had not - so she drove over (40min drive - Thank GOD it was a sunday). 
She got to my house around 4pm and we talked about what was going on and she asked if she could check me - even though it kinda inconclusive for 4th babies. I was 4 cm - and so she asked how my labours usually go - I told her they ramp up after the kids go to bed so we made a plan for her to come back around 7:30pm/8pm just to see what was going on. 
I had an hour long nap and then walked and walked around my room listening to my awesome playlist - no change - just WAY more pressure - I felt like my water would break any second....and at 7:30pm when my littlest son fell asleep it did. 
All over my bathroom floor. 
I frantically called the midwives and my doula and everyone made their way to my house. The contractions stopped for about 30 mins, and then picked up again once my doula and midwives made it. 
I just kept walking for about an hour - they were stronger but still really manageable - I was waiting for them to hurt like my last birth - but they didnt. 
At 9pm I got in the tub and stayed there until I was 8 cm. I didnt feel any contractions in the tub. It was amazing. I was irritated that it was taking so long and I was SO SO tired. I kept asking just to sleep. 
I decided that the tub wasn't making them strong enough to do anything, so I got out and was given some homeopathics and flower essence to speed them up..... I stalled completely, and when checked it was because her head wasnt on my cervix and there was too much forewater - so my midwife asked if she could break it - and I agreed. 
I still had pathetic contractions and so I did about 4 flights of stairs to try and get her head on my cervix. That worked and the contractions picked right back up. Back to 2 mins apart and 1 min long. 
I was offered the tub again, but I just wanted it done so I declined and kept walking and walking. 
The contractions started to ramp up (I am sure I was at 9cm) and I started to complain about doing it again, and feeling the panic, and not wanting to do anything but sleep. I started to have to lean on my husband and my doula used counterpressure on my back as I could no longer walk through them. 
I had about 5 contractions leaning on him, and then 2 on my hands and knees. I complained pretty loudly at this point. 
I asked my midwife if I could push and she said sure, so I climbed up on the bed and started pushing.
For some reason the contractions during pushing hurt - but if I pushed with them it didn't - which is something that I did not have happen before. 
I have to say that the push before crowning made me cry and doubt myself - but everyone was so supportive and my husband held me so tight (we were spooning) that I went by pretty quick. 
It was 10 mins of pushing and she was out.
Since we wanted a water birth - we did not protect the mattress - so it's a write off..... ;)
All in all, it was a great birth. Second best for me. No tears, no stitches and 4hrs of active labour... pretty great for the last one! 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Skip the Babyshower! Have a Mother Blessing Instead!

When I was pregnant with my first child (almost 9 years ago) I was determined to check off every item that babycentre canada said that I needed as a first time mom. My husband and i were both students so we were not as flush as we would have hoped and so we thought a good way to get baby items was to throw a babyshower. It was a good time for sure. We played all of the party games and I got a ton of swag....which I barely even used.

The part about a babyshower that no one tells you is that you probably won't be using all of the "must haves" that the baby companies say that you need. In reality, you only need clothing and diapers. Other than that, everything else is completely personal. (We didn't even use our crib!)
So when baby number 2 and 3 came around I decided to go the more non-traditional route and have a Blessing Way.

A Mother Blessing or Blessingway is a tradition that is taken from many other traditions and then melded to make a beautiful ceremony that celebrates women and motherhood.
Traditionally it is comprised of a group of women that are mothers but who are also incredibly close to the mother who is being celebrated. The guest list is very intimate and extremely exclusive. If a woman invites you to her blessing way, she feels that you alone have a very special place in her heart, and it something to feel very honoured about. (you don't just invite everyone.)

There is no right way to plan a Blessingway, as every mothers needs are different, just as every woman is different. A mother blessing for a first time mom will look very different from that of a second time mom, or a mom who has/going to have a C-birth or a VBAC. If you are hosting the Blessingway for your friend/sister it is important to know this and plan accordingly.

I thought it might be nice if I explained how my own blessing ways typically go, so that you can get a better idea and start planning one for a close girlfriend, or get someone to throw one for you!

About a month before the event send out the invitations. In the invite let everyone know what a Blessingway is and ask them to bring a bead that will be strung on the birth mother's neck while in labour so that she can remember everyone who is there to support her during her birth. Ask them to come with a couple of blessings in mind, one for the mom about her birth, one for the baby, and one for the mom about how her life will change.

Also, ask the guests to bring a potluck item for everyone to share. After the ceremony, it's always nice to nosh together and just talk.

On the day of, if the mother wanted people to place their blessings inside her belly cast, then make sure that she has already made one a couple days before. If not, and she wants to do a belly cast, this can be a fun activity to do at the Blessing so make sure you have the items available.

Once all the guests arrive and are seated in a circle, go around the circle and have each woman introduce herself by her mothers lineage. For example, My name is Alisha, daughter of Ruth, Granddaughter of Audrey, and so on. At this point each woman lights a candle. These candles are to stay lit for the whole ceremony, and at the end each woman takes hers home to re-light when the mother goes into labour. It is also nice at this point to have each mom tell a funny story about the mom-to-be, or how they met, or why they feel their friendship is valuable etc. (The whole point is to make the mom feel supported).

Next, each woman goes around the circle and places a bead on a string, explaining why they chose that particular bead, and what significance it has to them or the new mom, while doing this they also state the wish that they have for the upcoming birth. For example, "I wish for your birth to be one of complete calmness and love. To birth with openness and strength." Once the necklace is done it is placed around the mothers neck.

Next, there is a little pampering where the mother can get her feet washed, hair brushed, nails painted, henna started (henna on the belly). Sometimes a crown of flowers will be placed on her head. Just to signify how beautiful she is; inside and out. Sometimes women bring items for a pampering basket for after the baby is born.

After the pampering is done, the attendants are asked to share their hopes and dreams for the child and mother. They can also be asked to write them down, as to keep a scrapbook if the mother so wished. For example, "My wish for your child is that they are happy and healthy. My wish for you is to have patience  and understand that the early years are so fleeting. Embrace your child with all the love you feel for them now, everyday."

When all of the blessings are over, get a ball of yarn and tie a couple loops around each woman's wrist. This signifies that all the women in the circle are connected and they are asked to wear that bracelet until the baby is born, so that each time they look down at their wrist they think of the special day, the mother, the child and all of the women who were in the room. (After the baby is born everyone can cut their bracelets off - but sometimes the new mom will wear it for 6 weeks post-partum or until it falls off to remind her of the support that is still there if she needs it.)

Lastly, the candles are blown out and all of the women move to the food table. Sharing stories of motherhood, life and support. Sometimes there is a sign-up list for each woman to bring a meal to the family when the child makes an appearance.

I hope that was informative for all of you, and I hope that maybe you will throw one of these, or go to one in the future. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hello Baby - A Book Review

With my fourth baby due in a month, the boys and I have been doing a lot of preparation for the upcoming birth. My oldest son really wants to be there and especially wants to cut the cord.
I am still on the fence about him being in the room, especially during transition, but I am open to exploring the options and will probably end up deciding the day of.

Since I am having a homebirth with midwives it will be easy for him to come in and out when he sees fit. I know that my labours are typically short and boring, as I tend to go inward...but the transition is pretty intense and I don't really want to be distracted or scare him because I get a little vocal. (read - swear like a trucker).

But, I also want to honour that he would like to be there, and I think normalizing birth for children is so important for when they are older. If they see birth as a normal, natural process, they will be less likely to be influenced by he media that tries to convince us that it is a medical condition that needs "fixing".

One of my most favourite ways to prepare my kids for my birth is by reading them the story Hello Baby by Jenny Overend. Hello Baby is a wonderful story about a mom with 3 kids who is having a homebirth with a midwife. She goes about her day while her husband and children set up for the birth and upcoming arrival of their new sibling. It is through the eyes of a 4 or 5 year old boy and is so beautifully illustrated that it really shows how calm and wonderful a birth can be.

I really recommend it for anyone who wants to normalize a vaginal birth, even if you would prefer to birth in hospital. The story has many questions that the boy asks that are exactly what any child expecting a new sibling would ask, and so easy for kids to understand.

Here is a link to get it on Amazon

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Top 10 Must-Haves for New Moms

Notice that I said my top 10, because every mom is different.
After having 3 kids and getting ready for baby #4 these are all the things that I found to be valuable.

1. Post-Partum After Care Kit 
There is a reason that this is number one. Sometimes we get so focused on having the baby, we forget that there is recovery after. The recovery is different for a C-birth or a Vaginal birth, but it does have some overlap.

For a Vaginal Birth 
Frozen Pads - these are a must. If you only do one thing, do this. Take some witch hazel or calendula and mix it with water and lavender essential oil and spray it onto extra large and absorbent sanitary napkins. Freeze them open faced and then put them away folded up. Every time you use the bathroom after birth grab one of these. The relief is just amazing.
Peri Bottle - Fill with warm water and spray it on your swollen bits while and after you go pee. Takes the sting away.
Witch Hazel - When you are past the frozen pad stage a spray bottle of witch hazel, lavender and water by the toilet will be a soothing comfort as you heal from your birth.
Arnica - Homeopathic for swelling and for after pains...of course you can use Tylenol or Advil if that is more your style.
Here is a kit that is already made to buy from Earth Mama Angel Baby.

For a C-Birth 
Comfortable Undies that do not sit on your incision.
Arnica and Tylenol for pain and swelling.
Slip on shoes.
Frozen Peas, or other cooling pads.
Stool Softeners.
A hairdryer to dry the incision site after a shower.
2. A Breastfeeding Pillow 
This is a must have for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding moms alike. A nice pillow is really helpful when sitting up (when you are weak) to start establishing breastfeeding, or when you want the baby close to you when feeding from the bottle. (you are still weak). Also for moms that have had a C-birth it helps that you don't have to bend to pick up your baby as they are elevated right in front of you.

3. Lanolin
This is for the breastfeeding mothers. This is for protection of your sensitive nipples. Apply after every feed.

4. GlamourMom Nursing Tanks

Again for the nursing mothers. I practically live in my glamourmoms all pregnancy and motherhood. I found that bras were constrictive and caused me blocked ducts, and so the glamourmoms provide just enough support - but can be really used and withstand all the spit up and abuse.

5. Bouncer
I really liked the bouncer for using when I was in the shower. Some women like to use the bumbo but bumbos are really not for newborns and my kids would star-fish out so bringing it in the shower is not something I feel comfortable with. Having the bouncer right outside the shower door was a nice compromise.

6. Stretchy Wrap or a Ring Sling 

Me 3 days after having my 3rd son.

I found that I didn't need these as much for my first child, but for my second and third there was not a day that went by that the baby wasn't in a carrier. A carrier allows you to eat with both hands and is so helpful in the bathroom...which is pretty much all you do for the first 4 weeks. Babies love to hear their mothers heartbeat so keeping them close allows them to sleep better and be comforted by you.
So cute!! 

7. Baby Nighties 

These are sometimes hard to find but worth it. When the baby is so new all those teeny snaps make for longer diaper changes that can potentially wake the baby up from their deep sleep. Using a baby nightie means quicker and easier diaper changes! I think that speaks for itself!

8. Freezer Full of Meals
There are two ways to get a freezer full of meals. Either you make them all ahead yourself while nesting...or have a babyshower or blessingway where everyone signs up to bring you one. Seriously, not having to think about dinner or snacks when you have a new baby at home is bliss. Just bliss.

9. A Tribe
Finding other parents that are of similar mindset to you is paramount. This is especially true once everyone goes back to their regular life and you are left at home with a newborn all by yourself. PPD is a real epidemic in our society and so finding people that you can relate to, bounce ideas off of, go to the park or a walk with is pretty important. The internet is a great start to find these people - but an "in real life" tribe is even better.

10. A Post Partum Doula/ Lactation Consultant/ Post Partum Support Group.
Professionals are always good to have in your back pocket. They can help us in places that our family, friends and/or tribe can't. They can see where we really need help, and if we are struggling. They can help us get back on our feet. I find them really invaluable!!

So, there you have it, my top 10 for new moms! Did I miss anything?? Leave suggestions in comments.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Two Perspectives

Going into my third child’s birth I was confident. I knew how birth worked, I was a birth advocate, I had researched and supported other women in their birth journey, and most importantly I had two uncomplicated home births under my belt.

When I hit 36 weeks my husband was home from Ft. Mac so I walked and walked and walked to see if I could get labour going - and after seeing some show I told him to call in and let them know that he wasn’t coming back for a little while.
We decided to go for a walk to keep the contractions at about 10 mins apart. My early contractions just feel like braxton hicks...hardly painful at all, and so walking the hour to and from our local coffee store was no problem at all.
Once we came home I decided to send the husband out to the grocery store to pick up snacks and dinner - since I knew that I would probably kick into active labour after my other two children were in bed.

When he arrived home, I decided it was time to call the midwives. I also let my business partner know that I was going on “mat leave” (which really meant maybe a week without working - but I worked from home on the computer so it wasn’t a big deal.)

Once the midwives arrived they checked to see how I was doing. I was at about a 4 and really progressing nicely. We had dinner, put the kids to bed and I started to walk up and down the stairs to keep it going.
I was checked again and was only a 5 and so I asked my midwives if they could do a little stretch to see if we could get labour progressing. I had both of my previous sons quite quickly so I wanted to stop waiting for labour to kick in on it’s own. I wanted to meet my baby!!

After the stretch my labour really took off. I was standing in the kitchen when I had my first painful contraction. It caught me off guard as my last two labours did not get painful until closer to the end. I felt my contraction start at my belly button, move into my back, down my thighs, into my knees, down my calves and end at my ankles...and as one finished, another one started.

I knew at that moment that this was going to be nothing like the first two.
I continued to rock my hips to help the baby get into a good position, but the contractions were really painful. My husband is a paramedic and he asked me, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) how is the pain...and I told him that I was at least a 7 or an 8... I really doubted myself, and felt that I wouldn’t be able to do this for as long as I thought that I needed to. Usually my labours were only that painful in transition - not before 6cm!!

I had a huge desire to get into the birthing tub that we had set up, and my husband started to fill it as I rocked and tried to breathe through every one of my odd contractions.
My midwives wanted to check me before I went in the tub and it turned out that I was a 7. I felt a little relief. I was almost there.

My midwives also told me that they thought that it was a bit early to get into the tub and that if my contractions stopped that I would have to get out. I was so happy when they continued while belly deep in the warm water.
This is the part of my birth story where I urge every woman to try and use water in their labour process. My pain went from an 8 to a 4 instantly. It was amazing. Truly “nature’s epidural”.

I sat in the pool feeling none of the pain that I had when I was out of it. Contractions were just in my uterus. It was such a relief. I listened to a music mix that I had made of my favourite artists and chatted with my husband, mom, and sister in between each contraction.

I am not sure how much time passed during this stage, but I do remember my midwives coming in and checking on me more frequently. At one point my midwife said to me that the time was near and that if I started pushing in the water, I could not get out.

For some reason this spooked me. I felt like I had to get out of the water. I am sure that I could have started pushing, but I told everyone that I wanted out of the tub.

Everyone was very respectful of my decision and after the next contraction I stood up...and was hit with a contraction that rocked me to my core. Another as I placed my leg over the tub and onto the bed, and my “I can’t do this anymore” contraction as I breathed through my body protesting at me for moving so late in the game.
I flipped on my back and demanded that the midwives check me, and give me the go ahead to push (which they did) and I started to push my son out.

Each push had a bit of an edge to it, which again was nothing like my previous two births where pushing was the best part. I have to add that during the pushing stage I had 3 midwives and 2 students as well as my baby sister all looking at his head crowning. My midwife decided to pop my waters to see if it would give me some release and she did so while I was actively pushing. The bag exploded all over everyone and my wall, and I was mortified... I think that I also scared my sister for life.

Ewan came out posterior which explained the back labour and the pain while pushing. He only needed 4 pushes (plus the amniotic shower) and he was out to greet the world!

This birth has taught me the most about birth. Although it was my most difficult to date (I am also due in October 2013), it has also opened my eyes to why women need to be supported in birth...all birth. I have had a lot of work to go through to get ready for this next birth and Ewan’s has really made me more aware of what I need to do to feel empowered in my birth experience.

***I also wanted to share my sisters perspective as it was incredibly powerful to me *****

The clock was ticking slowly, the minutes felt like hours in between. The room was dark and silent apart from the swaying water hitting the side of the plastic tub and the mother’s silent cries for relief. It had been hours just waiting for the simple gift of life to arrive and yet the hours dragged on. The anticipation raised in my throat but I knowing the calmer the atmosphere the calmer the birthing mother. I drowned my anticipation with calming thoughts. Her pain gradually building as I could feel it inside my own body, the feeling of helplessness washed over me. I could feel the tears coming forward in my own body knowing that I could not help the one I loved who was in so much pain. I looked at my mother for comfort and let her sooth me. The mindless chatter filled the room to distract the mother from her pain and to pass the dragging time. The mother had enough and knew she wanted to push. The midwife asked her calmly if she wanted to inside the birthing tub or on the bed. In the last moments the mother chose on the bed for better support and leverage. As she got on the bed, the mother was on her knees and elbows squeezing her hands together through the pain and the tears quietly ran down her face. She turned and collapsed. Letting the pain wash over her as she pushed. I watched as she began the production of birth. Push after push and finally her water broke, shooting like bullet towards the midwife at the bottom the bed soaking her. The midwife professional enough to make a little joke and shove to it off like it was nothing. In my mind that gave me relief knowing that if she was joking it was supposed to happen. My mother trying to tell me step by step of what was going on as I starred with my eyes wide and my mouth handing open like a big juicy sandwich was in front of my face, yet being covered by my hand. I started to see blood and my breathing became labored. This was only because of my fear of blood. I knew this was supposed to happen but my brain was scared that my sister would not be okay. I starred down and I saw the little gray head poking through, when the mother stopped pushing the head went back inside. The mother pushed once more and the top of head came out more than it had before. The midwives cheering on the mother as she has done an amazing job so far and was so close to having her baby on her chest. At this moment I was shocked I knew the body could do amazing things but seeing someone else give birth and be born naturally had a shellshocked effect over my body. Apart of myself wanted to look away but the other part knew that if I did I would have missed an amazing thing. The mother had screamed at the babies head finally came out. The babies squished little face was finally welcomed into the world. She pushed again and the rest of his body had followed. Immediately the baby was put on the mothers chest and the mother reached for her husband; the new father of three and kissed him passionately sharing in their special moment as they silently celebrated together. In that moment I knew it was all worth it. That what I had just witnessed was one of the most amazing things that the body can do that in the end it was inevitable and I knew what was to come of my future if I chose to have children and I knew in my heart of hearts that I did and I would I want to do the same way. With no medication, with midwives instead of doctors and the ones I care for most beside me for support. Though the moments were traumatic and at moments I was scared I knew that the little bundle of knew life that rested on my sisters chest made everything worth it. I was privileged to experience the gift of life the way it was intended though I am only 18 I now know what I want when I am given such a chance of giving the miracle of life. I will now forever thank my sister for the chance of a lifetime and letting fully understand the ways of birth and how it was intended.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Vegetarian Ideas when Camping; Pizza Grilled Cheese

When most people think of camping they think of steaks, burgers and grilled chicken kabobs. There are blogs completely dedicated to what to eat when camping. For us making a menu has been a little bit harder since we have been vegetarian now for over a year.

I am going to do a series of blog posts this summer highlighting some of the best meals that we have had. (I may even give you a copy of my menu plan).

So without further adieu, here is the first menu item.

Pizza Grilled Cheese.

I actually got this idea from a fellow vegetarian who has helped me out of more than a couple nights of "Help! I don't know what to make!!" Cooking it over the fire is just a bonus!!

What you need:

Cheese (even Daiya will work)
Veggie peperoni slices (or veggie ham)
Tomato sauce
Anything else you like to have on a pizza.....

Basically you just make a grilled cheese sandwich but on the inside spread some tomato sauce and toppings, add the cheese, top with the bread (buttered on the outside) and cook in the fire with one of these awesome things!

I have never had a better plain grilled cheese - and the Pizza Grilled Cheese was just to die for! Of course you can always use extra tomato sauce for dipping!!

I think the kids LOVED it as much as I did! The best thing about these is that they are not camping specific, if you want to get more protein or veggies into your kids - try have one of these at lunch! 

Try it out and let me know what you to include in your Pizza Grilled Cheese in comments. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

My City Under Water

Photo Courtesy of
As a born and bred Calgarian I have watched in horror as many of the communities surrounding my city - and my city itself - were being completely destroyed by the tremendous force of water.

Living in the suburbs my family has not been affected physically, but I am feeling extreme emotional turmoil about the whole ordeal and scared to death that this will be a common occurrence.

I have sat here for 4 days, hiding in my house, glued to social media, calling friends and hoping that everyone I know that was directly affected will come out okay. (financially as well).

I am so proud of my city for being strong. So proud of all the volunteers. All while feeling so guilty for being 6 months pregnant and useless to help out in any meaningful way.

I decided that instead of hashing it all out for you again, as I am sure that you have seen the news, that I would just do a blog round up of my favourite local bloggers and let them tell you their stories and feelings, and share a video that really touched my heart.

We will dig out, and we will be stronger for it.

I LOVE YOU Calgary!!

Robin of Farewell Stranger - Flood. She also wrote for The Huffington Post - Calgary is Flooded with Love

Tamara from ThatTamIAmThe Greatest City on Earth 

Merry from MerryWithChildren - The Calgary Flood of 2013

Dana from CalgaryPlaygroundReview - CalgaryFlood2013

Samantha an UrbanMoms blogger - Alberta Floods

Kim from TwoBugsAndABlog - And Then The Water Came

The Ladies from FamilyFunCalgary - A Message to our Readers

Mike from MikesBloggityBlogSix Good Things to Come Out of the Calgary Floods

Sarah from DoingAllTheThings - #yycFlood

Heather from HomeToHeather- Dear Diary There Was a Flood

Leanne from IronicMomCalgary Flood. She also writes for The Huffington Post - 10 Reasons Why Calgarians Love Nenshi. (I couldn't agree more!!)

Julie from DinnerWithJulieIn Calgary Mud is the New Black

*** All of these Bloggers call Calgary home. This is their city - who better to tell you what happened then the people who live here. ****

I wanted to share this video with all of you. I have really great friends that live in some of the areas that are shown in this video and it brings it that much closer to home for me. Keep Calm, Calgary Strong.

If you wish to help out the people of Alberta recover from these devestating floods please donate to the RED CROSS here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Arbonne Product Review and my First Giveaway!

When my friend Kim from Two Bugs and a Blog asked me if I wanted to try out some Arbonne products I jumped at the chance. Ever since becoming a mom I have had a really hard time getting out of the house and taking time for myself. This includes exercise and personal care. I want to get products that are mostly natural after watching The Story of Cosmetics by Annie Leonard, and just being more conscious about it. Now, I now that not all products are going to be able to be 100% natural and I just can not get on the "no poo" bandwagon... really, I can't. 
You know how some people have problems using natural cleaning supplies because clean doesnt actually smell like anything and they want their houses to smell like Pine Sol? Mine is shampoo... if it doesn't smell like flowers and lathers like no body's business then I am not into it. 

Anyway, I am getting off topic. So when my friend offered to drop some different samples to my house I was stoked. I am actively looking for something for my face. I am now going to be the mom of 4 and it is showing in my eyes, and under them. I was super surprised that she dropped off a whole basket of actual products. Bottles of products to use for the whole week! I was expecting little packets that wouldn't even last a day. I was able to actually try all the products out in the comfort of my own home. (apparently this is a thing that Arbonne does). 

So, I have decided to put together a post to show you my favourites and one lucky local reader will get a free bottle of ABC Hair and Body Wash. How fun is that? Plus it's my first giveaway... (going into the big leagues with blog giveaways!!) 

The first product that I really liked was the Pure Vibrance Mousse. I use mousse right now - but it's a drug store brand. Studio something or other. It works okay, but it still leaves my hair really heavy, which isn't so great with fine hair like I have. I was actually surprised how well this mousse worked and it was really fluffy and left my hair really soft. Also, it smells great - see, the smell thing. So I really liked it!! 

The Shea Butter Hand lotion was really used. I love Shea Butter and this reminded me of the Body Shop but in tube form. I used this everyday, twice a day and it is the one product that I think I may have to have a Arbonne party just so I can buy it. It wasn't sticky or greasy, but it kept my chronic dry hands really hydrated. It's small enough to fit in your purse too, that is where I would keep it! 
Lastly, I just had to try the sunscreen. I love that it is waterproof, that it is not greasy and that it smells good. I think these are all really good qualities of a good sunscreen. I use the Badger stuff on my kids and am okay with the price because they are smaller people and do not burn as easy as me. I, on the other hand, have to re-apply every 45 mins and make sure that it is a thick coat or I turn into a lobster. Not pretty. This kept me protected and I didn't burn at all. It's a must have for sure. 
I was pretty impressed with the products that I tried and these were just my top picks. There were many more in the basket that were wonderful and I will have to have a party to buy them. 

I do love a home party (as I have no time at all to go I love shopping from home). 

I would at least give them a try, what do you really have to lose?! 

So now for the GIVEAWAY. 

Answer in comments - How do you fit in your beauty care routine when you have young children to take care of? 

I will choose a random person by throwing all your names in a hat and having my youngest pick the winner! Contest closes on JUNE 30 at 11:59pm. (MST)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Packing for the Beach - With Kids

As the summer weather starts to peak out from the endless winter that we have experienced here in southern Alberta, the kids are chomping at the bit to get out to the water. Water parks do not open in Calgary before May long so there are a couple weeks where there is intense heat and no reprieve!

Luckily for us we have friends that live in Lake Communities. For those not from around here, a lake community is a suburb that is built up around a man made lake. It usually costs between $200 - $500 a year in community fees (on top of your property taxes) to get to access these lakes. Only residents who are in good standing get to use these lakes. The residents are also allowed to invite guests - but the number of guests depends on the community.

Today we were lucky enough to have a friend invite us to her lake. The weather was beautiful, the water pristine, the sand divine! My kids would spend all day at the lake if they could and I make sure that I pack enough so that they can do just that.

The first couple of times that I went to the lake I failed miserably. Forgot towels even!! So now I have a very easy routine that I have worked the kinks out over the last year and here it is to share with you!

1. Buy a wagon. Seriously.
I never thought I would need a wagon, I mean just carry the baby or wear it in a carrier and put stuff on the stroller. A stroller should be good enough right? No.
A wagon is a must for the beach. You can still wear your baby with a good quality baby carrier, but all your junk and your kids junk....well that is what the wagon is for.
My favourite wagon is the Lee Valley Wagon. It has great big wheels that will have no problem going over grass, gravel or even sand. And with little kids you go where they are.

2. Buy a Beach Blanket.
This is a must. Sure you can sit on towels and what have you but the versatility of a blanket is great! As the kids get older you may want to switch to a a beach chair - but when they are little you will either be fighting with them over who gets to sit in the chair, or dealing with a wet bum when someone beats you to it! A nice blanket like this one is a great investment!

3. Think about an umbrella or something for shade.
Many lake communities are in newer suburbs so there are no trees that are big enough to help you out! Some of the communities do have trees so it is a real risk whether you want to take one or not. If you are going with a small baby I would suggest just throwing one in.

Now that we have the basics covered, lets get down to what goes into that wagon of mine.

4. Backpack.
In my backpack I have a change of clothes for every child, a towel for every child and extra swim bottoms for my potty training one. I also put the sunscreen and bug spray in the front pockets.

5. Little cooler.
I love this cooler by Traveler's Club. It is so well designed. We usually stay for lunch and bit beyond so I pack wraps for everyone, carrots (veggies), some strawberries and blueberries (fruit), some hummus and some cheese for the kids to snack on. I also pack avocados and a knife and spoon. Sometimes if we are staying longer I bring a bigger bag and pack much more!

5. Extra Bag.
This bag has the chips, cookies and crackers in it. It also has the wipes and a couple extra swim diapers. I leave it half empty as it is also where all the garbage goes and it is used if one of the kids has an accident.

6. The Toys.
The toy bag comes in two parts. First a good mesh bag like this one is a must. Secondly, buy some cheaper plastic toys as they are bound to go missing. A couple boats, some shovels, some buckets, a squirter or two, balls etc.  All the fun things that kids love to play with at the beach. A word of advice, use a sharpie and write your name or another distinguishable character on the plastic toys so that you know for sure if that green shovel that the kids are trying to take from another kid is actually theirs!!

7. Water Bottles.
You can never get enough water. I make sure that I bring a water bottle for each of the kids as well as an extra one if they run out. I also always have water in the car. Little kids can get dehydrated really fast so it's really just good practice to bring water wherever you go!

8. Last but not least...The life jackets.
I grew up in landlocked Alberta so I am not overly confident in the water. To be honest I have never really learned to swim. Even though my children are water babies I make sure that they have their life jackets on when they go near the water as you can never be too careful. Of course, life jackets don't mean you can turn your back..... ;)

 I hope this helps you plan your next trip to the beach! Is there anything else that you think is essential that I have missed?? Make sure you let me know in comments!!

Have Fun!!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Lost Dog: Learning From My Kids Style

As a responsible pet owner I make sure that my kids are aware of how to act when there are stray dogs around, or when we come across another dog when we are out with our German Shepard Rotti.

Of course, my kids are actually useless when this happens in real life as I found out today.

As we were coming home from walking to the grocery store, we noticed a man asking people about 2 bichons running around all over the place. He called over and asked if they were mine as we started to unload in front of my house. I said no, and continued to unpack my groceries.

The Lost Dog

When I was done I noticed that the two dogs were running in between my house and my neighbours. I also noticed that one had tags - so I called it over and grabbed a look at the tag. I called the number and got no answer. These poor dogs were sweltering and it was over 25' C. I was worried that they may get into medical trouble so I decided that I should try and help. I called our local city by-law to report them.

While I was on the phone on my front porch with by-law, my kids were in the house and had decided to get water for the dogs, but they had also let my big German Shepard cross in the house as well. So when she came to the sidelight at the front door, she lost it. Barking and barking at these little dogs.

The by-law man told me to put the dogs somewhere where I could keep them safe - so I went around to the side gate as I knew my dog was inside and pulled the latch - broken. Typical.

I brought the dogs back onto the porch and told my son through the door to put our dog in the library. (where she is usually crated). He couldn't decide what to do with the water dish in his hands and slowly took it back to the kitchen as I turned the handle of our front door.....locked.

Not Impressed to be Locked in the Library.

Seriously?!?! Now I am on the phone with by-law while my minor children have locked me out of the house. I calmly tell my son to unlock the door and put the dog in the library...he complies. (all the while asking WHY?!?!?!)

I open the door slowly and the two dogs RUN into my house. My dog can see them through the glass doors in the library and tries to eat through the door. Our cat who is more like a dog than a cat arches his back and hisses - thoroughly freaking out the skittish dog and it runs out of my house and down the street. I can't leave my kids to run after it - so I accept the loss. I tried at least.

I convince the other dog that my couch is not as nice as my backyard and take him outside. I shut the door and leave some water for it outside. My kids really want to see the dog so they open the door and it comes back in...again there is rounding up of a dog who would much rather be inside and shoo-ing of children that have no fear of a stray dog!

My "Helpers"

Finally, 45 mins later the by-law truck comes and takes the dog away - asking me where the other one went...I tried to explain what happened but by then I was just happy to see the dog go.

So Happy to see this Truck!!

That is my good samaritan deed for a couple months at least!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

These are a few of my favourite things.......

This weekend I went to a going-away party for my good friend Misty who blogs over at LifeWhereWeAre. I don't actually like to call it a going-away, as I am sure that I will see her again. I may even have to take a trip to New York just to visit her as I have heard nothing but how wonderful that city is!

The theme of this going-away party was Favourite Things. I had heard of a favourite things party before but I had never been to one. So when it was decided that this would be the theme I was excited to finally get to go to one myself.

The general idea is that you buy 5 items (all the same) that are all between $5 and $10. You need to bring something that you actually use and love. Sometimes there are rules that are placed like No Candy Bars etc... as you want some variety in the items.

When I got to the party the host, the wonderful Merry of MerryWithChildren, asked us all to place our bag of items on the table and to write our name on 5 different pieces of paper and to place them in a bowl. Once everyone had put their names in the bowl, she went around the room and asked us to pick out 5 names - not ours and not two of the same.

Then we started handing out the items. The first person stood up, introduced themselves to everyone and talked about their favourite thing. Where they bought it, why they love it, etc. They then looked at the 5 names that THEY had picked out and handed out their items to those 5 people. It was so neat to see what everyone brought and how it was all so different!

I thought that it would be fun to show you what I scored from the party.

The lovely Catherine from TheDabelsDivulge brought a book by Kim Edwards called The Lake of Dreams. She said that the reason that she brought this book was because she loved The Memory Keeper's Daughter and thought that this author was just great. I was happy to be on Catherine's list as I am in need of some new reading material for the summer, and books are always a favourite of mine!

My friend Kristina the creative mastermind over at Bouncing Off The Walls brought one of my most favourite things; sour soothers!! Who doesn't love a giant tub of candy?? It was exactly what I wanted.

Leslie the owner of Hippo Hug and who also blogs at RuffRuminations brought Arnica Gel. I am no stranger to arnica as I use it myself when I have a headache (especially when pregnant) but I have never used the gel. I joked with the ladies that with my 3 boys and camping all summer that there will be enough bumps and bruises from bike riding alone that I will have to replace it!

Derby Girl Marlaine who is one of the most fearless and fiecest women I know in the Rockyview Rollers brought the most amazing lip stuff that I have ever tried. EOS lip balm in sweet mint.  I also love how big it is!! I am constantly losing chapsticks in my bottomless pit of a purse! Never again!!!

And lastly, Dana from CalgaryPlaygroundReview (where I recently did a guest post) brought dairy-free chocolate from Theobroma. I am pretty sure it was fate that let me get this one! I have to say that this is the one item that is all gone!

This was the funnest party that I have been to in a while, even though it was supposed to be a sadder occasion. ;) I will be doing this again for sure - maybe for my next birthday as it really was so neat to see the variety that people brought. I think in total there were over 30 favourite things.

If you decide to throw a party like this - drop me a line and let me know what you think!!

Oh, I almost forgot! You may be wondering what my favourite thing is.....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

40 Week Pregnancy T-shirt Tutorial

As I said in my last post this pregnancy has hit me the hardest out of all of the 4 pregnancies that I have experienced. I think because of this I am having more ambivalence towards this pregnancy. Don't get me wrong, I am super excited to meet my new little bundle of joy, but the pregnancy is really draining.

So to get me out of my funk and to give this baby the excitement that he/she deserves I decided to make a cute pregnancy t-shirt to help me remember to take pictures - and to easily remember when I look back!

Want to know how I made this adorable shirt? Wait no more! 

First, you need to go and buy a shirt that will accommodate your bump as it grows. I know how big I get as this is not my first rodeo. For some women a bigger t-shirt from Superstore would be great, for others a maternity shirt would be a better choice. 

I chose a cheap maternity tank from Old Navy - in case I made a mistake and had to buy another one. 

Next you need fabric paint and a stencil.

I bought spray fabric paint because I thought it would be easier - but it turns out that what I had first thought of wasn't that easy.

It still worked for me. I just used a sponge tip brush and sprayed the paint on another surface and then blotted my brush and applied. 

When using the the stencils I used a lot of scotch tape to make sure that I didn't go over and mark up the rest of the shirt. 

I wish that I had bought two stencils as the double digits were a little more challenging. 

However, it all worked out in the end and I am so happy with the results!! 

So tell me, how would you mark off the dates?? 

An Apology and an Excuse - or an Excuse and an Apology.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will have noticed that I have not put a post up since January.

If you are a long time reader of my blog - you will have noticed that I follow a pattern like this.

I made up this picture as a "surprise I am pregnant" for my blog and meant to post it again and again... However, I have had the most horrific morning sickness that I have ever had for any of my pregnancies - and for the most part (for the last 14 weeks) all that I have been able to do is scroll facebook on my smartphone.

So, yes, this is my excuse for neglecting you dear readers. I hope that you will forgive me.

I promise that I will get back on track in the next couple weeks!!
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