Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrating Earth Day with the Kids

Since turning off the lights during Earth Hour on March 29th, we've continued the dialogue about Earth Day (April 22nd) and conserving energy in our family. 

With the boys learning about saving electricity in science this month, we've created four family goals to all pitch in and make a difference in our own house!  

Our family has committed to these 4 goals to help do our part in helping the environment;
  1. Turning off lights and electronics when not in use.
  2. Unplugging chargers when not needed (not leaving them in the walls).
  3. Doing laundry at non-peak times.
  4. Riding our bikes and walking, instead of driving to our local stores.
The boys love to mark our progress each week with a special chart that Ty created and it's nice to see that we are slowly improving and reaching our goals MOST of the time!

Celebrating Earth Day goes beyond just saving energy.  It's also a great time to learn more about the earth and nature.  Last night we all snuggled on the couch and watched some incredible earth-inspired shows on Netflix.  Each of the boys got to pick a choice from the lists below and I wasn't at all surprised that Ty chose to watch the Wildlife Specials on Nile Crocodiles.  Sure, he cringed when the crocs mated in the swampy river and yes, he closed his eyes when the female laid her eggs, but he also learned some cool facts about this reptile!

We were also happy to see that Dinosaur Train episodes are on Netflix, so Jayden chose to watch episodes on Earthquakes and Aftershocks.  With a sensitivity to the level of understanding of a 3-7 year old, these episodes were perfect to start the discussion about why there are earthquakes, had we ever felt one and what would we do if it happened in our neighbourhood.   

Here are some Earth Day movies that you can watch with your BIG kids to get the conversation started about our environment, extinction and what we can do to make a difference;

  1. The Blue Planet: A Natural History of the Oceans
  2. Moving Art: Oceans
  3. A Sea Change
  4. Chasing Ice
  5. Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?
  6. Addicted to Plastic
  7. David Attenborough: Wildlife Specials
  8. The Hole Story
Here are some Earth Day movies that you can watch with your LITTLE kids, that feature some of their favourite characters!  It's easy to use these films to create a teachable moment about what it means to be "green", how to help the environment and about some special animals that need protection;

  1. Curious George: Mulch Ado About Nothing / Gets a Trophy
  2. Go Diego Go: Rescue of Red-Eyed Tree Frogs
  3. Bubble Guppies: Boy Meets Squirrel
  4. Dinosaur Train: Stargazing on the Night Train / Get Into Nature
  5. Sesame Street: The Camouflage Challenge
  6. Wild Animal Baby Explorers: Beaks and Bills / The Mighty Oak Tree

For some more Earth Day Family Fun, try these ideas;

Disclosure: Yay! I am part of the Netflix stream team (#StreamTeam) and have received product and a subscription to Netflix in exchange for writing monthly posts.  Already a huge Netflix fan, this is a pretty sweet deal!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Game Changing Day for Ontario Couples Suffering from Infertility

Eleven years ago, on my 30th birthday, I had just received the most incredible birthday gift.  After one full year of undergoing tests, treatments, taking drugs and ultimately doing an expensive round of IVF, I had just learned I was pregnant with my sweet Ty.  With the news being so early, I couldn't share it with the people who attended my birthday party that year, but my glow had already begun.  Our year of struggling with the enormous emotional and financial stress that comes with infertility, had resulted in a successful IVF cycle- we were going to be parents.  I already felt like I was a mother.

Sometimes birthday gifts come in the strangest ways from the strangest places.

The news many of us in the IVF community have been waiting for, has finally come.  Just as I was reading birthday messages from wonderful friends and family on social media, news was announced that the Ontario government will fund ONE round of IVF treatment starting in 2015.  Today marks a new era of hope for so many couples.  It is a game changer for couples struggling with infertility in Ontario. 

Imagine being told that you could only become a parent through IVF, but you couldn't pay the $10K to do one cycle?  

Imagine if finances were your only barrier to becoming a mother?  Now, IVF is accessible to ALL couples, regardless of their income.

While it didn't come in time to help our own family grow, I'm thrilled to have helped with this initiative to provide much needed funding for other couples.  

What a special announcement to arrive on my birthday.  I can celebrate today with my own beautiful IVF miracles, Ty and Jayden, while celebrating that other women may now have one less barrier to becoming mothers.

Congratulations and thank you to Deb Matthews and the Wynne government for having the bravery to be leaders and the insight to recognize infertility as a medical condition.

Disclaimer:  I'm a proud member of the Conceivable Dreams blogging team.  I'm honoured to have been sharing my story so that this day could happen for so many couples!  Follow the conversation on Twitter at #OHIP4IVF

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Do you need a beauty patch? Watch this new video from Dove

This video that was just released by Dove has really touched me and made me cry.  

I struggle with my own body image, weight and beauty almost daily, so this video reminded me of the journey that I'm on to truly believe I'm beautiful.

Well done, Dove.  Once again, you have helped women explore what it means to feel beautiful.

(this is not sponsored, I just really connected with this amazing video)

Watch this and share your thoughts on the new campaign.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ideas for Celebrating the Last Hockey Game of the Season with the Kids

Being a hockey mom is awesome!  Far better than I even imagined.  Next year, I hope that our older son decides to get in on the action and play on a house league team too.  I loved the lessons my 6 year old learned both on and off the ice.  He learned to listen to instructions from an amazing coach and learned the consequences of not listening to that same amazing coach.  He learned what it feels like to work as a team and to try your best.  He learned that the outcome and the score is not nearly as important as working together and playing hard.  We were really lucky this year with a great group of kids, parents and coaches that made those 8am games not really so bad!

This weekend we have our last game and end of the season tournament party, and I've volunteered to help with the celebration.  Never being to one before, I wanted to make it both memorable and special for the kids (and parents), so I've come up with some cute ideas to end hockey season with a bang!  Over on, I wrote 10 really fun way to celebrate with the kids, coaches and parents on the last game of the hockey season and ways to remember the friendships we made.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27th is a special day

Today is always a special day in my heart and in our family.  While there won't be cake or balloons or any presents, it's a day that brought us two celebrations in our lives.

On March 27th, 2008, our little Zackie got his first hearing aids!  I can't find that amazing photo and I would have Instagrammed it, had we had it back then, but the look on his face was totally unforgettable.  The world opened up to him that day and while I had had a very hard time accepting that Zack would have hearing loss as yet another obstacle in his development, I embraced it that day.  

At Branson Hospital on Finch, our audiologist, Mary, put in his molds, attached the aids and finally turned them on.  In my arms, my little son's eyes lit up as if the world had been turned on.  Tears poured down my face as he looked around while we spoke.  We grabbed our goodie bag of hearing aid equipment and we were on our way.  The adventures with those hearing aids were never ending.  Zack liked to throw them around when I wasn't looking.  He was forever taking them out and as he got older, he gave both his nurse and I such attitude when we put them back in.  It was a love/hate relationship for me with those aids, while I loved that they provided better hearing for Zack, it was a huge struggle just to keep them in. You can tell in the photo below and in other photos I've shared, that he was always so fascinated with ears...I wonder if he was looking for hearing aids on the other kids.  One day he even put the mold in his mouth and refused to eat.  I had no idea what was going on until I saw something in his mouth- he had it in there most of the day!  Such a little stinker!  But that beautiful day in March, when Zack was 6 months old and heard the world with his new "ears" will forever be a special day to me.

It was only a year later, on March 27th, 2009, when we finally had the day booked for Zack's surgeries at SickKids!  Back on his first birthday in September, he was only 17lbs and diagnosed with "failure to thrive".  He had been throwing up most thickened feeds and it was impossible to get him to gain and maintain weight when he was so sick often and just refused to eat.  The doctors told us that they needed to put him on the list for a Gtube.  The last thing that I wanted for him was a feeding tube. I was overwhelmed with all that I was going to have to learn and how our routine was going to change so drastically!  As the fall progressed, Zack's weight and health were declining and I quickly changed my mind and started begging SickKids to get us an emergency date so that we could get him stronger and healthier.  

After one cancellation due to pneumonia and several calls to sweet talk the various clinics, I had finally convinced the hospital to put Zack under a general anesthetic only the one time and do a round up of other minor procedures as well.  Zack was scheduled to have his skin tags removed by his ears, a circumcision and the Gtube.  After the surgery, my amazing boy was so sick with a fever from the anesthetic. It was a struggle, but a week later we were both home learning what life would be like with this new tube.  We went home with our feeding pump, various syringes, gauze, ointments for infection and tons of other gadgets that would fill my cupboard.  We sure had some GTube fails, like when it came out in the middle of a night feed and thick formula was dripping down the crib and soaked the bed and the carpet.  Or what about when I lifted Zack out of his carseat to find the GTube in his seat!  I still have no idea how that thing came out- but I sure impressed myself (and Paul) by putting it back in!  It took some getting used to for sure, but just like the hearing aids, the new Gtube gave Zack what he had been missing, a safe way to eat, a way to get his meds and get nutrition.  With the help of incredible feeding specialists, nutritionists, nurses and pediatricians, not only did Zack make it onto the growth charts, he started to have strength, endurance, and energy like never before!  His development sky rocketed and I know that the Gtube was instrumental in getting him to his ultimate goal of walking!

Today is a beautiful day to remember two momentous days in our family, days that changed Zack's life and mine for good.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Kim and them or hate them?

This is a little departure from the usual posts I do on my blog.  But with the new Vogue cover out today, I have to come clean and I need your help.

Yup, I'm coming out of the closet as a Kimye fan...I think.  They also totally bother me, cause serious eye-rolling and get me worked up!  Yes, I need this little escape in my life, so please try not to judge me or hold an intervention!  I can't decide if I love them or hate them individually or even as a couple, and yet I tune in to Keeping Up With the Kardashians every week, to see what's going on in that capital "K" for KRAZY family.

So, I need your help to I love them or hate them?  Here are the facts;

1.  I like SOME of Kanye's music, but hate his arrogance (just watch ANY of his radio interviews).  His "Bound 2" video, while I've watched it several times, mostly to hear Charlie Wilson, is totally embarrassing....for him AND I and I watched Seth Rogen and James Franco's parody and laughed until I cried.

2.  Kim is stunning.  I'd love to have a fraction of her wardrobe, shoes and natural beauty. She is a fashion trendsetter, with or without that hideous Hermes bag that Kanye bought her.  Let's admit it.  She could wear a garbage bag and make it look good.  The bashing she took, while pregnant, was horrific and it's clear that she's worked hard to get back in her pre-pregnancy body.  My biggest issue is with her obsession with fashion, preoccupation with her looks, and odd plastic surgery tactics.  She doesn't seem to have much more to her beyond her beauty.

3.  North is a beautiful baby.  I feel a connection to their biracial family in some ways, as they struggle to find their identity and fight the nay sayers. They have been the target of racism and I would have totally punched a paparazzi too, if he used racist slurs towards someone I loved.  It seems to me that they both seem totally head over heels in love with their daughter, like any other parent.  Time will tell if Nori has inherited her parent's ego.

4.  Paul thinks Kim is do I.  Kanye?  Doesn't do it for me.  

5.  If I come across some Kimye news on Facebook, I go down that rabbit hole of online celebrity gossip.  I've been known to spend nights searching online for their latest news.

6.  I watch (and PVR) KUWTK...I've watched them for years- in NYC, Miami- geez, even the 'Khloe and Lamar' spin off (that was short lived, poor Khloe!)!

7.  The over-the-shoulder shot of Kim in the white one-piece bathing suit..TMI, but how cute it was when Kanye tweeted back.....adorable!

8.  Kanye's lyrics on his version of Beyonce's "Drunk in Love" are totally gross, sexy and offensive on so many levels.  Listening to these Grandmas read the lyrics is hilarious! Don't get me started on JayZ's reference to domestic abuse in the same song.

9.  I think Kim is a product of her "momager" Kris' obsession for fame and fortune. Kris has done a disservice to all of her beautiful girls, to herself, poor Bruce and her misguided son, Rob.  That guy needs some attention from his mom and Bruce needs a haircut.

10.  I really think Kim and Kanye are in love.  Did you see Kanye's interview on Kris Jenner's show?  Did you see his elaborate proposal and his genuine nerves?  The guy is head over heels for her...he has been for a long time. So while I hated that he forced her to clean out her closet when they first started dating, maybe this is true love? Maybe this is the marriage that will last for Kim?  I will be watching and I sure hope she doesn't wear white!

11.  This brings me back to the Vogue cover and photo shoot video that just came out today. I think they are totally tasteful and stunning! Can we agree on that?  I've watched the video twice (ok, maybe 5 times) and my favourite part is when Kanye smiled. I know he literally stalked Anna Wintour to actually put Kim on the cover and I'm not at all shocked that HE had to be part of the deal.


So, while I might have just convinced MYSELF that I'm a tad bit obsessed with this couple, everyone needs a little escape in life, right?  Is there any harm in following celebrity gossip?  Who is the celebrity that you follow?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Our March Break Movie Night with Netflix #streamteam

So I've heard this a few times this week...."want to snuggle and watch a movie?" Have sweeter words ever been said? 

It has become quite a family ritual to watch a movie together on Netflix during this very long and cold winter and March Break has been no exception!  Taking time to unplug with fun St. Patrick's Day baking or even making some Easter crafts, has meant that when it comes to watching a movie, we can all decide together what to watch.  If you can believe it, we have been choosing to catch up on MY old favourites from my childhood.  I'm beyond thrilled that this month, I've shared one of my ALL TIME favourite shows, 'The Facts of Life', with my boys.  With all 9 seasons on Netflix, we watch one episode a night and the boys are now requesting this show over any others! Believe me when I say that it has led to some great discussions with the kids!

You also know how important Elmo is to our family, so we took some time over this difficult week to watch some Sesame Street for Zack and even the Being Elmo Film with our friend Kevin Clash.

As a member of the new Netflix Stream Team (#streamteam on Twitter), I can now share the newest titles as they arrive and give you the inside scoop on some of my favourite shows (and yours) like 'Orange is the New Black' (coming back June 6th), 'House of Cards' (signed on for season 3) and many more!

Here are some March Break Family Movie Night suggestions;

If you kids DON'T want to watch T.V. shows from the 80s, you can try these family-friendly suggestions (so excited that Turbo is now on Netflix)

or even these older kid favourites (we totally LOVE Gulliver's Travels and Zookeeper at our house!)

What movies have YOU and your kids watched this March Break?

Disclosure: Yay! I am part of the Netflix stream team (#StreamTeam) and have received product and a subscription to Netflix in exchange for writing monthly posts.  Already a huge Netflix fan, this is a pretty sweet deal!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Attention Hockey Moms! You could Win a Hockey Stick Pendant from Citrus Silver!

So, it's Friday night and I'm already planning my early Saturday morning rush to the rink for yet another adorable hockey game watching 6 year olds!  Since Ty wasn't into hockey, this year has been the first year that our family has fallen head over heels in love with the sport!  I never really understood the obsession from the kids, the love of giving up entire weekends to live in an ice rink OR even the craziness of screaming parents, but I have to admit, that I'm now a very proud Hockey Mom!  From ringing the cowbell for every goal to planning their upcoming end of the season tournament, I've completely embraced this amazing sport and all the fun that comes with it!

You already know that I have a special hockey player in my house (check him out in action), so when I saw the new hockey stick pendant on the Citrus Silver facebook page, I knew I had to add to my silver pendant collection!  I haven't totally decided if I will wear it or give it to Jayden, but I did know that I wanted a special keepsake of his first year in hockey.   I already wear my gorgeous personalized "tang" pendant every day and I can't wait to add this new one to my necklace. 

I'm so excited to share my love of Citrus Silver jewelery, with all of you!  Especially as we come to the end of hockey season. Wearing this special reminder, will keep the hockey spirit with you, all year!

Not only can you now save 15% off your order at Citrus Silver (use the code "tjzmommy" when you order), but you could win this Personalized Hockey Stick Pendant by entering below!  This Canadian made sterling silver hockey stick pendant can be stamped with the name and jersey number of your favourite hockey player! There is room for 13 hand stamped characters on the stick and up to 5 characters on the blade, including spaces between names and dates. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Treasure Tuesday #3 (#TreasureTuesday)- A Beautiful Moment from Poppa

I've been saving this #TreasureTuesday photo since the weekend.  My Dad told me last week that he had come across some of his own "treasures" in the photo files.  Photos of Zack that he didn't think that I'd seen yet.  

So, on Saturday, a special surprise came in my inbox with the subject line "a beautiful moment".  It was about 8am and we were on the way to Jayden's hockey game.  I was barely awake and with tears in my eyes, I admired this photo of Zack for the first time. 

The animal romper he was wearing was one of my faves.  Paul, Ty and I had decorated the twin's nursery in safari animals before they were born.  I'll never forget the great debate in Babies R Us, when the two of them fought the brown and blue circle print that I wanted and eventually won with the jungle print (at 6 months pregnant with twins, I didn't have much fight).  While we decorated their new room, we all picked one of the animals in the motif; I love elephants, Paul the leo (lion), Ty loved the fast zebras and we picked giraffe for Zack and hippo for Jayden.  Whenever we found clothes with "our" animals, we bought it!  I remember that Jayden's was about 3 sizes bigger and was a light blue.  When it came to picking the second design for Zack's Dream Room, a jungle animal theme was a clear family choice.

stunning mural by Handpainted Murals

It clearly wasn't only the outfit that made me cry as I admired that photo.  Looking at every detail- his tongue slightly out of his mouth, the world's biggest smile, his long lashes, his clapping hands, his "walnut" cheek, his little crossed toes, the softness of his skin, his thin yet strong legs and his beautiful curly hair- all took my breath away.  Laying on my parent's carpet at the lake, was my happy little boy.  Enjoying the attention of his Poppa and bringing us all such joy- what a treasure indeed.  Thanks Dad xo.

I hope you find a photo treasure today.  If you do, please share it on my Facebook wall

Saturday, February 22, 2014

When your 10 year old son asks you what the word "Rape" means

Had another interesting chat with my amazing 10 year old son on Wednesday night.

I both love and fear my evening discussions with Ty.  These are the ones that both warm my heart as a mom and challenge me as a parent.  We have a connection that I treasure- an honest relationship that I honour and a trust that is unbreakable.  This particular night, I was asked a question that I just didn't expect to have to answer for a while.  It threw me, so I posted this on Facebook last night to get some advice from my trusted friends.

My Facebook post:  
"Not sure how to handle the information I was trusted with. Good news is that my great kid is a goodie goodie who has an amazingly high moral standard. Bad news is that the cool kids are using a totally inappropriate word that 
a. he didn't know 
b. I had to explain and 
c. makes him (and me) feel uncomfortable and worried about what boys think is funny.
Tell the teachers (leaning this way) or let it play out on the school ground?"

I think initially my fab friends seemed to think it was maybe a word like "sexy" (or maybe even "dildo" like I had to explain last week- OY), and I wasn't actually going to SAY the word, but realized that I had to share it in order to get the best advice.

The word was rape.  "Mom, one more question before you leave....what does 'raped' mean?" Ty asked his most trusted confident. My heart sunk knowing that this would be another night where, in the interest of keeping honesty between us, I would tell my son the meaning of a word that I wish he didn't know.  First, I wanted to know where and how he heard the word.  I needed to know the context in which it was used so that I could not only explain what the word really meant, but also how it was misused in that situation.  Apparently, on the playground at recess, some boys were roughhousing and one boy pinned another boy against the wall.  "Look, he's raping me", the pinned boy said in jest.

I explained to Ty that this word was unlike a regular swear word.  That it actually meant something uglier and that was a crime.  I went on to say that it was when a boy or man forces a girl or woman to have sex when they don't want to.  That it was violent and against the woman's will.  He couldn't wrap his head around this, as I expected.  He quietly listened as I tried to best explain the impact on that girl or woman for the rest of her life.  How sometimes the girls are so embarrassed that they actually don't tell.  I was more than clear that rape is a horrible crime and that the boys or men that commit that crime deserve to be in jail.  "Does this sound like what those boys were doing on your playground?" I asked.  "No, mom, not at all." When you use a word as awful as rape in a joking way, you make light of what it really is.  These boys on the playground thought this word was funny, but it is very far from that.

We continued to talk about how to handle this at school and I explained how proud I was that he came to me, and trusted me to tell him the truth.  He said that several boys say this word all the time and that he couldn't give me more examples, but would listen for it now that he knows the meaning.  I asked if he would feel comfortable telling the boys that it was an awful word to use.  He wasn't sure he wanted to do that, but decided it would be best to play with different friends, if the word was being used around him.  I knew that he would be okay and handle this is a way that made him feel comfortable, but what do I do with this information?  Do I call the teacher and principal?  My gut told me that they needed to know.  That as educators and creators of a safe environments for our kids, they would want to perhaps handle this on a higher level.  Do I speak to the parents of the two boys? 

Paul and I talked about it later that night and he wondered if these boys had heard the word used in Grand Theft Auto, where you score extra points for raping a prostitute.  Are 10 year olds playing this game?  Sadly, our guess is that this is the likely source.  How can this be a popular game, allowed in homes with young impressionable boys and still we wonder why the rape culture is so prevalent? 

On Facebook, the advice was incredibly supportive and I felt not only happy with how I had answered Ty's question but so proud of my amazing son and the relationship that we have.  While several moms worried about having these types of discussions with their own kids in the future, others had been down this road before too.  My friend Becky had some great advice and directed me to an interesting article that was just written about this topic the week before.  Even a few teachers recognized that the school should know about this and might choose to address it with staff and perhaps in a safe school discussion with students.  We all agreed that this is not just a word. It has far reaching implications.

I've taken the weekend to decide how I will proceed.  I think that I'll call the teacher to make her aware, as most of the boys saying this word are in other Grade 5 classes.  I'm going to speak to the principal as well, so that they can make the best decision to educate our boys and girls about this topic.  I truly hope that once the boys know the true severity of the word "rape", they won't say it in such a flippant way.

As challenging as these ongoing discussions are and as anxious as Ty can get about doing the right thing, I still love the open dialogue we have and would never choose it to be any different.  Life is tough, growing up is hard.  These topics are going to present themselves throughout life.  At least our bedtime rituals are creating the safe place to share those together.  He calls me his best friend because he can tell me anything.  He tells me that after we talk each night, that his chest feels lighter!  How amazing is this boy?  

Now if only we could go back to just dealing with the s and f words for a while.....