Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kids Color Week: Orange (& Purple)

We've wrapped our color week with Orange Friday and Purple Saturday all at once. The boys weren't in the creative mood (more of a 'I'm watching tv and only pretending to listen to you mommy' mood) when I approached them about finishing up our Saturday purple pictures to post. But little Claire was more than willing! So although most of these pictures are taken by me, she had a great time walking around the house with me and we chatted about all kinds of colors.

Pictures of picture albums.

We went outside to color search and we could only find our orange on Claire. We didn't even have any purple flowers!

A well-loved purple Mr. Popple.

Of course oranges make the cut.

One of the many waterbottles/sippy cups you can find around our house. (Does this game remind you of Dr. Seuss's 'In a People House'? "And that Mr. Mouse, is what you can find in a people house!")

Claire, modeling lovely purple sweatpants. When I mentioned we were on a purple lookout Thane said offhand, "There must be some purple in Claire's laundry pile". Made me giggle. I keep trying to find little girls clothes in lovely blues and greens and browns, but you can't get away from pink and purple for her size!

A little people ark roof. Because of course Noah would have been into purple. Maybe he had a daughter with some sway in the decor colors.

With this guy we began to get creative with orange and purple!

Orange birthday goody wrapping.

And mommy's favorite scarf. Hope you enjoyed your purple and orange colored days!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Green Day! No wait, that's a band...

Happy Earth Day everyone! Coincidentally, today was also pegged for green on Kerry's Young Ones: Kids' Color Week. Our green pics...

Taken by Seth, a very cool shot of the... hmmm... vcr? Playstation? I'm not quite sure.

Seth was excited about green shots this morning, his pictures were zoom-by, fast action shots!

I was going for a close-up of his jammie shirt. He wanted me to shoot his gloves. (These, by the way, are the birthday present biking gloves! They were as big of a hit as I had thought they would be. He wore them to bed, lol.)

And to conclude our green day pictures, Claire's socks. She picked them out herself.

something yellow...

I joined in mid-week on Kerry's Young Ones: Kids' Color Week. She came up with the idea of a color themed week where the kids were to be the ones behind the lens. Wednesday was yellow!

The Lorax. Mr. Earth Day himself made an appearance on Seth's birthday!

Thane pointed out we needed to take a picture of Claire on Yellow day, she was very yellow!

Troy's been doing a lot of yardwork lately, project "make our renovation back into a lawn".

The Spring flowers have sprung!

Seth decided orange was close enough to yellow. Impressive reflection captured I thought!

I was a bit disappointed yesterday morning when I proposed the idea to my eldest, seven year old Thane, and he seemed less than enthused. He did pick out a few yellow props though, mostly just to humor me I think. That evening I decided to go outside and take my own picture of the yellow flowers I had just noticed blooming. I was pleased that if it had failed to inspire my kids artistically, the project had at least given me the push to literally 'stop and smell the flowers' on a very hectic day. As I was going out the door however, my birthday boy five year old Seth asked what I was doing and it dawned on me that I hadn't even asked him to take some yellow pictures for me. He was more than delighted to be offered the camera, and an hour outside together bopping from one yellow object to the next ensued. We ended the beautiful spring day outside playing baseball with a yellow bat and a yellow tennis ball.

Picture perfect. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A few things on my mind...

  • How to build a tire swing? I'll google this tonight me-thinks. I had envisioned a romantic single board swing for our front tree, but the boys vote is for a tire swing. Really makes more sense for multiple kids anyhoo.
  • What are the options when redoing our front porch? Our current porch has pretty white columns atop fugly, wearing out carpet floor. (Outside. Really. Carpet outside was a very bad idea. Who thought up the outdoor carpet idea?) Upon driving through the historic portion of old Woodstock I've decided we could get away with wood decking, not painted, (to avoid annoying painting maintenance) combined with a painted white front kickboard (from the deck to the ground) to tie in the columns. Make sense?
  • How great this evening was. Troy was happily driving golfballs into our 'back field'. (Those lake scavenged balls from his days working on the golf courses are coming in handy. We'll send the kids up there on a 'golf ball hunt' sometime, maybe this should be next Easter's event, lol.) Seth was happily riding away on his 'new' bike, Thane's old bike with the seat put down. "I like this bike. This is a good color. This is a good bike!", he said. Bike riding is Seth's absolute favorite thing to do, most of the summer he walks around with his helmet on, indoor or out, because he'll be back out on the bike in a minute. I just picked up Seth's birthday present today, a load of gear to trick out his ride. Reflectors for the tires, a bell, a bottle holder, and Hulk bike gloves. He has a thing for dress up gloves, he's going to love these. Shhh. Don't tell! Claire was puttering around enjoying the warm air, climbing up onto the lawnmover seat and down, up and down. She was picking up rocks off the lawn and bringing them to us, the little gatherer that she is. She's been watching Troy do a lot of this lately too, beginning to transform last years moat back into this years lawn!
  • My boy Seth is turning 5 tomorrow. FIVE. He is the world's most loving child, and hilarious. This year he has become even more articulate. I loved the fifth year with Thane, it really is a metamorphosis year from little boy to big boy. Seth is also my most tactile child, the thumb-sucker, the stuffie lover, the one with the penchant for anything soft. Will those sweet little boy things go this year?  Take a peek at these:
Seth asleep anywhere, as usual,

and with his big brother on Thane's first day of school three years ago.

On his third birthday, loving new wheels, and new stuffies.

Sweet little hands and toes at the beach.

Going camping, all that blonde hair!

Into birthday icing. (Look at that mischievious grin!)

More snuggles, more beach, more blond hair and cute toes. Too cute Seth. Don't grow up on me too quickly!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Crazy mama.

I consider myself a laid back mama. Actually, I'm so much so that my sisters pick on me about it (although I contest they may hover). I'll admit, my kids might look like 'ragamuffins' if you popped into my house unexpectedly, and you might have to step over items to get through my house. I usually go back to the mantra "a little dirt/cold/bumps/mess won't hurt them". On the contrary, I actually think all of those things will help them. Believe it or not, anti-bacterial soaps don't help your immune system. Going outside in their own choice of clothing helps them learn cause and effect, awareness of how they feel and the world around them, how to solve a problem (really, if you're chilly, you don't need mommy to tell you to get a jacket). Challenging physical feats are how they grow and learn coordination. I let them try anything they can, even if that means we'll reap the messy results. I figure the house, their clothes, their hands, it all will clean! Even cleaning up your own mess is a pretty good learning experience. Letting them try to pour their own juice means that now they know how. And besides all of those learning benefits, I think the biggest benefit is the freedom they have to be and do without mommy panicking behind their shoulder.

You know what does make me crazy though? Food.

In the realm of food I don't know how to be a health conscious and simultaneously calm mother. Sugar, preservatives, pollutants, chemicals... how do you avoid these?? And then, how do I do that and stay true to my environmental and ethical ideals? Oh yeah, and be carefree. Right.

In theory, I agree with being either vegan, or following the 'paleo' diet. You know what vegans eat; no meat, fish, dairy products, or eggs. Paleo is a diet following what our pre-agriculture ancestors ate. Meat (including eggs), veggies, and a little bit of fruit. No grains, dairy, or processed food in general. The theory is that our bodies have not evolved as quickly as our food methods have. Grains (and tubers like potatoes) have to be cooked to be edible, because they contain 'lectins', poisons that need to be killed. The problem is, there are still leftover lectins afterwards, not to mention that gigantic problem of the chemical cocktail added during preserving and processing.

Ethically and environmentally I'm on board with vegans. I don't like animals captive and farmed for food, I do believe they have feelings, and you probably know the environmental issues animal farming causes. However, I think meat, eggs, and especially fish can be valuable healthful foods, if we could somehow avoid the steriod injected, hormone pumped, environmentally polluted and abused variety. I agree nutritionally with paleo, that grains and dairy just aren't meant for our bodies yet, a probable explanation as to why so many people have obvious allergies to these two and such issues as lactose intollerance and celiac disease. The first thing a naturopathic doctor will do when consulted for most maladies, small, large, behaviour problems? Eliminate grains, dairy, and sugars from your diet.

Mysterious diseases like cancer are more than likely caused by the trace-toxins buildup in our foods, everyday products, and environment. Since the advent of mass production and industrialization we are surrounded by toxins, from our shampoos, cleansers, lotions, home cleaning products to the fabrics of our clothes and furnishings, mattresses, bedding, carpets, building supplies, cars, plastics in our dishes, toys, paints... exhale... Check out for some help sifting through that pile of crazy!

So that virtually leaves me with veggies, and fruit for dessert. Sounds filling eh? Did I mention I'm allergic to nuts? Another problem with any vegetarian thoughts I might entertain.

When I combine my indecision on which nutrition path to follow and my inambition/horrible skills in all matters kitchen, I feel more than a little stressed. My gut (aka only choice left) tells me moderation is key. I can start at the grocery store, because if it comes home with you, you will eat it. I also try to follow my "Just eat real food" mantra. The closer it is to the field, the better it is for you (local is better than imported, fresh is better than frozen, frozen is better than canned or boxed). I consider grains a necessary evil, a 'filler' food, and try to stick to veggies, a bit of fruit, and choose the best selection of meat I can. Just a note on grains, did you know the american food guide is designed by the Department of Agriculture? Considering the vast amounts of grains grown on our continent, the bias of the author is an important factor, as usual.

This leaves me with sugar that I feel I can actually attack. I don't like to eliminate it entirely, the kids won't learn their own methods of self-control that way and we really like ice-cream! Also, in our bodies defense, it is designed to properly discard of small amounts of the bad stuff. But sugar is addictive, for me as much as my children, and I find if I let the kids have a little they want a lot. Sugar causes a lot of fights in our house and makes me be the kind of mom I don't want to be. It goes against all of my laidback mothering instincts. I feel like I have to constantly monitor their sugar intake, find myself constantly counting grams of sugar in my head, and drilling them to be aware of what they're eating. I don't want to drive them into rebellion or worse, an eating disorder. I try to do better with replacement treats like real fruit freezies and frozen yogurt, or switching out the sugar in my coffee for honey, a natural sugar our body knows how to break down. For Easter, for example, we only hide a small amount of fruit gummies in a lot of eggs for the Easter egg hunt and we've ditched the gross chocolate bunnies altogether in favor of yummy fruit baskets. We all love that!

For special events and holidays I have always chosen to throw my hands up, let them be carefree, and realize it's just one day. Lately though I've been thinking just how often these dates happen. The kids health is not something I should choose to monitor sometimes. But I don't like being that crazy mom, I hate being so strict! Recently I found myself arguing with my mother in law about the kids drinking juice boxes hand over fist while we visit there. She was frustrated with me too, and said "I wish you could tell me what they can drink." Well, milk, and water. And the kids will be mad about it for sure. And I'll feel like the can't bend the rules, strict brick wall parent that I don't want to be, I'll feel bad about being such a pain in the ass hovering mom to be around, and worse, my mother in-law will feel like even though she tried and sought out the 100% juice, that nothing is good enough for me.

See why food makes me crazy? I don't have an answer that feels good. The whole topic just fills me with doubt and indecision and angst about the direction our whole world is headed. It's too overwhelming. And then I give up and feel guilty while we scarf timbits. Ughh.

It's a lot of food for thought.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Life in Strollers.

I've been on a big wheel double stroller search. This is the only item on the to-buy list for this fourth babe.

I'm generally not a fan of crazy amounts of baby gear, but I'm all for the right stroller. Being able to get out with baby WITH EASE is so important. There are so many things that make it difficult to get out of the house with kids, the thought of struggling once you're on an outing shouldn't add to it. I'm not, however, into spending a thousand dollars, or even half that, on a grand baby chariot.

We had a Cosco big wheel single jogging stroller since Thane was born, a wonderful big present from Troy's parents when we didn't even have a car. The big wheels are smooth on trails (we lived beside Halifax's Point Pleasant park at the time, full of walking trails) and great for snowy sidewalks. This stroller had a great feature where the seat switched so baby could face forward or face you. It was very convenient to be able to tailor the stroller to suit the baby's mood, age, or the weather. This also meant there were feet rests on the front and back of the stroller that created an unofficial double stroller, where my toddler could stand on the back feet rest when the baby was facing forward. Unfortunately this stroller didn't make it to baby #4, by it's last days it neither switched seat positions or collapsed anymore. We decided it wasn't worth the space it would take to make the move from province to province.

I don't always need a big wheel stroller. To begin with I am a big advocate of a baby sling. My babies loved and craved that closeness, enjoying the movement and napping while being close to mama. I enjoyed being able to provide them that closeness while still being on the go, have the use of my hands, and be able to keep up with my older babies at the same time. However, as they get bigger it isn't something my back can take for long outings (and in my case a tired mama with a breaking back is not a patient mama) but I usually have the sling stuffed in the stroller bottom in case a snuggle need arises. Being tied to a plastic seat is not the most nurturing and happy place for baby.

For longer hikes and a one to two year old in tow, we have our 'baby backpack' for Troy to carry. His stronger shoulders bear the toddler better but we still have a resting place to offer the babe when their little legs can't keep going and the terrain isn't for wheels.

Somewhere along the way I discovered that umbrella strollers are indispensable for errands, the perfect 'mall stroller'. I keep one in each car all the time now, just in case. They get their name for how small they fold up, and they're so light and inexpensive. Mine are cute and orange, and were less than $40 at Zellers. You can get them for $10, but I find those ones not quite tall enough for me. For this baby I plan to get a set of stroller connectors also, inexpensive removable attachments that connect two umbrella strollers to make one double.

When Claire was an infant, I stumbled upon the Snap N' Go stroller base. Since they don't recline or have a lot of support, umbrella strollers don't work for newborns but the snap n' go filled the errand stroller void for those six months. Mom can take the infant carseat from the car without removing baby and just place it on the stroller base, where it snaps in place. Since it really is only useful for maybe six months I wouldn't recommend spending the retail ninety dollars for it, I was pleased that I scored and found it for $40 on Kijiji. I will probably be able to turn around and sell it again for the same.

And that leads me to why I want a double big wheel stroller. It's not for the mall or errands, they are comparitively heavy and really don't fit in the trunk well, at least not leaving room for groceries by any means. I would like a stroller that will fit both the new baby and Claire for walks, the kind of walks we do everyday from our driveway. When Claire was born I still lived in suburbia and did a lot of sidewalk walking and thought about buying the Joovy Caboose for my two littlest ones. Now though, the trail near our house is gravel and the little Caboose wheels just won't be optimal, and Claire is a year younger than Seth was at the time, so I think she would benefit from her own seat rather than the back sit or stand choice.

Now what KIND of a big wheel double stroller? I think I'd like a side by side because one behind the other can get very difficult to steer, and for my use I'm not worried about the width and fitting through doors. Really, I'm still holding on to finding something second hand for under $200. Unfortunately, I think a million other people also have this in mind. My rural shopping grief extends to my online second hand Kijiji shopping, the selection just isn't there and there are more wanted ads than for sale. Since I still have my Halifax family to do pickups for me though I've been scouring the Halifax Kijiji, but without much luck even there. I've found mostly small wheeled doubles, or really high end big wheel doubles, like the Bob Revolution. This stroller crossed my mind, at $850 new the seller was asking $500 for the used one. I'm having a little indecision on this one because with it's high end quality and popularity I probably could still sell it later for a fair amount. I've thought about just getting a bike stroller/trailer. I could use this to push when walking or behind my bicycle and they retail around $160, but the seats don't look very comfortable or fit for a newborn. There's also a Baby Trend Expedition double at Toys R' Us for $260. I checked it out in person the other night and it doesn't feel like it's lacking in quality. It strolls and steers smoothly, each seat reclines seperately, it's light enough, and folds up easily. It is also comparable to used prices I've been finding, but then my ethical issues arise. Surely I can do my part for the environment and reuse a stroller already out there, it seems so silly to buy baby gear new when you use it for such a short period, and sometimes low prices indicate deeper trouble warnings. Annie Leonard's voice reverberates in my ear, "How can I get an item priced this low? Someone paid for it, in lack of benefits, low salary, through environmentally or socially irresponsible big company shortcuts in the name of low prices."

Thoughts? Stroller experience? Pass it on, I'm eager to hear how you tote your littles around!

Monday, April 5, 2010

mmm. Chapters.

Tonight I found myself on a solo excursion at the mall. Mmmm. It was nice.

We've spent a wonderful Easter weekend with my husband's family, and since my son's school district also has Tuesday off for a teacher's professional development day we've taken advantage of the exceptionally long weekend. So instead of heading home today we had an extra day to putter around.

If there's one gripe I have since our move to rural New Brunswick, it's that my browsing opportunities have taken a hard hit. There is a town a half hour drive from where our new home is that offers a Walmart and a few other shops if you dig really deep. An hour farther gets you to a 'mall'. My brief stops to price compare, see what's new, check for sales, or just spend an hour at my favorite stores have all but stopped. When a day long trip is entailed it's so much less enticing. I'm trying to get better at online shopping, but it's really not the same when you can't touch and feel and turn the item around. 

So this evening I took a few hours by myself to pop into the mall before we head home tomorrow. I looked and touched and oohed at Wicker Emporium, a store that never ceases to inspire my decor brain, and almost bought a very cute little bench that was marked down for (very fixable) damage. I still might get my sister to pick it up for me later, I'm mulling this one over. I can't find a picture of 'my' bench online, but if you don't know Wicker Emporium you have to at least take a peek at their website. Unfortunately they don't ship, another sad part of my New Brunswick shopping scene. Check out these drawers. So cute! 

Then I was on to check out a double stroller at Toys R' Us. As much as I try online I just can't replace touching and seeing for myself. This one, the Baby Trend Expedition, bottoms out the price list, putting it in comparison with the second hand strollers I've looked at and I wanted to see if it felt like a fall apart piece of work. Honestly it felt fine to me. More on that later.

After quick stops at much missed Old Navy and Children's Place where I lucked out on a few cute little girl clothes on sale and a pop into Payless Shoes where I found gladiator sandals for me (I can at least rock cute sandals while pregnant), I ended up at Chapters for an hour with a banana-chocolate-expresso smoothie. Sigh. I love browsing at Chapters.

What this reminded me was that I've been meaning to post my book wishlist for you. You'll notice a couple strong themes here, they're mostly parenting/ sewing books, very where I am right now. You can tell me if you've read any of them and what you think, or if you have others you think I'd like!
A lot of the parenting books I want to read seem to relate to my major parenting struggle right now, in how to mesh my values with what I actually live and do. I've been feeling very preachy lately, in that I talk more about my environmental and natural beliefs than act on them. I like periodically reading parenting books that support me in who I want to be as a mom, that remind me what I want to give to my children, books that push me to be mindful rather than automatic in my parenting. These are a few such titles that have made my 'to read' list lately:
  • Zen Parenting - Judith Costello
  • I Love Dirt! - Jennifer Ward
  • Steiner Waldorf for Baby (and for Toddler) - Christopher Clouder
  • All Year Round - Ann Druit
  • 7 Times the Sun - Shea Darian 
  • The Natural Child - Jan Hunt 
  • Buddhism for Mothers - Sarah Napthali
  • Above all Be Kind - Zoe Weil
  • Graceful Parenting - Eve Dreyfus

I've been interested in learning more about Waldorf and Buddhist parenting and teaching philosophies. The little bit I have stumbled across to this point really appeals to my calm approach to parenting, high on creativity and nurturing rather than strict discipline. I've also been picking up on their traditions of celebrating the seasons and life cycles, celebrations that seem very earth centred rather than materialistic.

As usual with my pregnancies, I am full of creative inspiration with little or no time to act on it. Some of these creative books have peaked my interest:
  • Seams to Me - Anna Maria Horner 
  • Weekend Sewing - Heather Ross
  • Linen, Wool, and Cotton - Akiko Mano
  • Doodle Stitching - Aimee Ray
  • Feathering the Nest - Tracy Hutson
So let me know what your book browsing has brought you to lately!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Right now.

My skin is warm from my day under the sun, this summery spring day. I am so tired from fresh air, good food, family. I hear soft breaths coming from the rooms where my family are sleeping down the hall, tired out from their fun outdoor day. My kids are asleep, content and exhausted, enjoying our visit 'home' to spend Easter in Nova Scotia with Troy's family. I love and appreciate my in-law family so much for all that they are and who they are to me.
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