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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

LEGO KidsFest is Coming to Calgary and We are SO Excited!! (plus a GIVEAWAY!!)

Awesome creativity!!
It's no secret that my kids love LEGO. I grew up with two brothers that really enjoyed playing with LEGO bricks and so did I! While they made rocketships and battle scenes, I made the houses and gardens for our minifigure families to come home to. LEGO was pretty much the go to toy in my house growing up. So when my first-born son was old enough we went out and bought him some DUPLO and they were an instant hit. As he got older he transitioned to LEGO sets, and the DUPLO went down the line to his little brothers. Almost 8 years of building and creating and we have some pretty awesome Master Builders in this house.

Now each of the 3 boys has their favourites of course. My oldest is currently enamoured with Unikitty from THE LEGO MOVIE, my middle child loves everything CHIMA, and my youngest son is a big fan of LEGO Batman.

My kids are going to LOVE this!!
We have tupperware tubs full of LEGO bricks and pretty soon we will be building a LEGO table and will have a dedicated space for the boys to go nuts with their creations (blog post to follow).
I do love how open ended the LEGO bricks allow my kids to be. How they can make everything and anything, and how it really allows them to focus their attentions for quite a long time.
We also use LEGO bricks in our homeschooling - and LEGOLAND is where the boys beg for us to take them. (not

Look! I see Batman!!

While we are not ready to take them to LEGOLAND just yet - LEGO KidsFest is coming to the BMO Centre in Calgary, and I am incredibly excited to take them there.
I can not wait to see their eyes light up when they see the 3 full acres of educational fun!
There is going to be a LEGO Model Museum with life-sized models (including a LEGO Batman),  a construction zone with more LEGO bricks than my kids could ever imagine, they get to meet with Master Builders who play with LEGO for a living, as well as check out all the geekery that is the LEGO merchandise. There are many more activities that we will be enjoying, and you can check out which ones that you want to see here.

This event is so awesome that it may sell out so pre-purchasing tickets would be a good idea!
Five sessions - all identical - are available for the May 16 - May 18 tour stop in Calgary. LEGO KidsFest tickets are $25 for adults and $23 for children (plus tax and fees - and in USD) and can be purchased here.

I have 2 tickets available for you to win! All you have to do is enter below and a winner will be chosen next Wednesday April 30th at 7pm MST. Good Luck!! Hope to see you there!!

Win Two Tickets to LEGO KidsFest Calgary for Friday May 16th

Monday, April 14, 2014

Social Media, Post Partum and My Life - An Ongoing Battle.

A few days ago I was offering advice on a Facebook group that I belong to about anxiety as a first time mom. This wasn't in any special group, another one of those mommy-clubs that are over represented on social media. This particular group is just a bunch of women who shared the same month of pregnancy; a due date club or what have you, nothing else other than the date of conception, morning sickness commiseration's, and the sharing of birth stories and milestones to keep the group a cohesive unit.

It's not that I needed to join another group of mothers, I have plenty of real life amazing girlfriends and a tribe within my own parenting circle of almost 10 years. However, for some reason I am drawn to the first time mom to help and support her. This is probably because I felt so alone and isolated when I, myself, was a first time mom.

As the story goes, I gave this mother some heartfelt advice and it was not well received. Since the invention of Facebook I have noticed new mothers are increasingly more unsure of their new life, maybe because we post statuses every couple hours and our whole lives are up for public scrutiny. I reached out to try and quell some fears that she had on illness, about this whole vaccine crisis, about how everything is risky, and we just have to live our lives well in spite of that. She disagreed vehemently with my viewpoint and it was actually some of the most hurtful words that have ever been thrown my way. This may have been from fear, insecurity or just anger - I am not sure really; but it has profoundly changed the way that I think about myself at the moment.

I have been struggling with post partum depression for a while, and I find that my viewpoint of myself is really coloured by ppd. It's hard to tell what are normal feelings and which ones are exacerbated by the illogical side effects of depression. On a regular day this would have been water off my back, but because of my ppd I have been stressing about it, over analysing and over thinking 2 paragraphs of hurtful comments that happened over a week ago.

This one chance encounter really made me look at why I participate in these online mommy groups, and why I feel that I should be giving advice to people who don't want it, didn't ask for it, and probably really don't need it from some random stranger online. I know that I go into a helping mode so that I don't have to pay attention to the insecurities and fears that I have surrounding my own abilities as a mother. That for me the internet is somewhere to hide when my depression is all encompassing and incredibly hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's somewhere that I can distract myself from the chaos that surrounds me and try and help those who look like they need support when I can't figure out how to support myself.  

This mother told me in not so many words to fuck off, that she hadn't asked for my advice. That I am self-centered and condescending. Patronising even. Pretty much the exact opposite of what I try to be in my life. 

I am not sure if I would have taken it so much to heart if I wasn't in the midst of post-partum, but her words cut so deep to the core that it is hard to get past them. The logical part of my brain tells me that this is insane to continue to feel anxiety and sadness over this as it is just one woman who I don't even know in real life. Just a random mom on the internet with a difference of opinion. Just like me.  I can't help but wonder if she lashed out because of her fears and her insecurities or if it really is a case of me putting my nose where it really shouldn't have been. (as I have been guilty of the latter before.)

All I know is that perhaps my time to help the insecure and frightened mothers online is really a losing battle. It's not for the faint of heart and truth be told I am much too sensitive. I can't take many attacks to my vulnerable spirit. The torch must be passed on and as much as I would like to think that new mothers want the advice that older more experienced mothers have - it's not really so. I remember as a first time mom how much I thought I already knew, and wasn't really open to getting any advice even though I was so desperately lonely and really needed someone to hold my hand.

It's only when you have been a mother for a while do you see value in those that came before. 
This isn't to say that I won't continue to help mothers in need of validation or support as that would go against my very nature. However, I am going to focus on the people I interact with on a real life basis and leave the Facebook couch psychology realm for some other mother/ activist
who is not so burnt out and who doesn't need the support herself. 

So as with everything, this was a wake up call to get my spirit out of the Facebook world where it can so easily get trampled and place it back into my body where it belongs. I guess I should be grateful for that. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup

All my kids are sick with a nasty cough. No one is feeling well, and with this perpetual winter I decided to take a great Moosewood classic and put my own spin on it. My kids are not into spicy soup, but I wanted to use one that had all of the Indian flavours that are so soothing to the senses.

They gobbled this one right up!!

Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup

Yield 9 Cups
Time: 55mins

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 1/2cup chopped onions
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
1 fresh hot pepper, or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (you can omit these if you have kids who don't like spicy things)
4 cups of water
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup seeded and diced bell peppers
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup *cooked* rice (make sure to make this before hand)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 can of chickpeas or lentils
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice. (I cut cut up half a lemon and squeezed)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

As with all Indian inspired dishes the secret is to cook the spices right into the oil at the very beginning. First take your oil and warm it into the pot. Then add the onions and salt and cook until the onions are softened, around 10 mins. Then add the ginger, turmeric, coriander, and hot pepper and cook for 2 mins. Add the water, carrots and potatoes and bring to a boil. (if you do not have any cooked rice on hand here is where you would add an additional 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of rice.)
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover for 10 mins.
Next add the bell peppers, tomatoes and the cooked rice. (unless you are doing the uncooked rice version). Simmer again for 5 mins, or until all the vegetables are tender.
Lastly, stir in the coconut milk, chickpeas/lentils, lemon juice, and cilantro.
Simmer again for 5 mins.
If you would like you can add more salt, lemon juice, cilantro to taste.


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