Tuesday, March 20, 2018

My 5am-9pm: Play dates & a day with mama


We went to the pool, as we usually do and had a nice time.  We did a few safety exercises which the instructor does about every 3 months.  One of them was to get in on the side of the pool instead of down the steps and showing parents how to get in without worrying that the little ones will fall in as we're getting in.  Later on, the kiddos practiced getting back into the pool from the side without jumping into their parents arms - on their bellies - which is the way they get out in a different exercise.  And then instead of monkey crawling a few arm lengths to one side and to the other and getting out, they practiced monkey crawling to the stairs and getting out of the pool that way.  Sami was a champ, she went about a half length of the pool without stopping.  Go Sami Go!

After naptime and doing the groceries, we went to the park because it was such a nice day.  Sami had fun on the playground, going up and down the slide who knows how many times.


Daylight Savings Time...  It's like Sami slept in (until almost 8)! Does that count??? :)

On Sunday morning we had a play date with 2 other little girls at one of their houses.  Sami had an absolute blast going up and down the stairs which had beautiful railings (ours has a wall so it's harder for little hands).  The staircase also had the advantage of having a landing midway whereas the one at our house is straight the whole way.  I think it was great practice for her.  They also had a playroom separate from bedrooms and the living area which is great.  It was upstairs in a little loft that you can see from the living room and kitchen.  It was great to see the girls play independently and every now and then we would take turns going up to play with them.  I'm totally jealous of the playroom.

A weird thing for me - as the girls were playing, I was seeing that my girl was bigger than the others.  Sami's still rather small struggling to stay at 25 pounds, but she does keep getting taller and I know she's healthy.  Still very odd to see her as "big".  She's often surrounded by older boys at daycare and it makes her seem so small and petite.

Overall, I think the girls played well together.  They shared, and didn't want to share.  Sami loved playing in the little tent that was set up, and with every toy that she's never played with before.  Sami had a great time and continues telling me we're going back, or that her friends are coming over.  I also enjoyed it greatly.  It's nice to connect with other parents and to be able to relate to similar issues we are having such as eating (or lack there of), missed napped, sleep, etc.  When I imagined motherhood, I didn't think play dates would be something I'd find myself doing, aside from hanging out with friends we already have, who also have kids.  I didn't really know what play dates were since I don't remember doing them as a child, and I didn't know how to connect with other moms to set one up.  Daycare has made it easy to find moms who have children that are of a similar age.  It's great.

We went to the park again that afternoon. Surprised?


Tuesday... where do I begin?  March 13th is the date my son passed away in 2014.  I wrote an entry on my Spread Happiness For Preston blog which was much needed.  I took the day off to spend with Sami, keeping her home from daycare.  I was at work when everything happened 4 years ago, and I have a hard time picturing myself at work on that specific day.  To make it easier on myself, I've just resolved to always take it as a mental health day, and plan on keeping Sami home from daycare/school in the future as well.  We cuddled a lot, which means we watched a lot of TV.  I don't usually let her watch that much in one day, but I needed the cuddles and she wasn't complaining.  We went to the park for about an hour and a half.  As I pushed her in her stroller on the way home, the elementary school was letting out.  It was like organized chaos and made me ponder about the future, when it's her turn to go.

We went shopping for new clothes for Sami because she's getting too big for a lot of her clothes.  I made dinner, though for the life of me I can't remember what it was, even if I look at my meal plan...  After dinner, we went to the candy store with Sami, just to have a fun time, along with her dad too who had opted to work all day to keep his mind busy.  Everyone grieves differently and I totally appreciate and respect his grief.  For a long time, that's how I needed to grieve.  I needed to have something to do that was cerebral, at all times.

Nothing else stands out from last week aside from my eye incident.  I was washing dishes and put some soap on the straw brush and I must have missed the straw because the brush bent a little and the dish soap went flying right into my eye.  It stung so bad.  I flushed it with cold water for a couple minutes, went to take out my contact, put drops in it, did a water compress.  It probably took a good 15 minutes for it to stop stinging.  I went to bed shortly after so that I could rest that eye and woke up to a swollen and red eye.  Oh the fun.

Sadly this reminded me of one of my biggest #MomFail moments.  Sami was just a couple months old and it had been a couple bad nights in a row.  I thought I'd try  Johnson's Baby Bedtime Bubble Bath & Wash which is supposed to be soothing for babies and help them settle for the night.  It's the purple bottle.  We'd had a bottle from when Preston was a baby and had never opened it, a little fact I didn't remember.  I tried pouring it into the bath and nothing was coming out of the bottle, so I opened the cap, removed the seal and the soap just gushed out... and you guessed it... somehow right into Sami's eye.  She was inconsolable, and I felt so terrible.  I flushed her eye, and did compresses with a gentle washcloth, rinse repeat about 50 times.  Finally, I was able to get the soap completely out but I felt sooooo bad.  I felt like such a failure, and I'm sure hormones weren't helping at such an early stage.

And it's not that I'd forgotten about this incident, but when it happened to me last week... it brought it right back to the forefront.  And let me tell you, I'm not dealing with hormone issues now, and I feel just as terrible and again feel like a terrible mom because I know how painful it must have been, even if the bottle said "no more tears".  I know it was an accident, and I know that I do a lot of things that make me a great mom, and overall I feel like a good mom....  But those times when you feel like you screwed up... they feel worse than all the good makes you feel.  Is that just me?

Monday, March 19, 2018

#MealPlanMonday: March 17-23 & Meal Delivery Kits

Happy Monday to all :)

I'm rather excited for this week to try Blue Apron!  Below is my meal calendar for March.

On the menu this week:
  • Blue Apron - Beef & Mushroom Stew with roasted potatoes
  • Blue Apron - Pan-Fried Chicken Breast with sweet & tangy zucchini
  • Blue Apron - Quick Bucatini with Broccoli & Pecorino Cheese
  • Mac & Cheese with hot dogs
On Saturday, we had friends over for dinner and to play board games.  I love board games and I'm loving being able to play them with people who appreciate the strategy behind them - it's totally awesome.  We played Settlers of Catan which we first played with our friends Ann and Al in Seattle when we drove up the West Coast as part of our honeymoon (San Fran to Seattle & back and then flew to Hawaii).  It's a game filled with strategy and as with most games, some luck.  I had a great time Saturday night and kudos to Chris for the win.  In the end, his strategy worked the best!  Until next time... :)

Since the Blue Apron meals I ordered only serve 2, I asked my husband to make his specialty burgers.  It was so nice out that we ate on the patio.  The burgers were so delightful, that I would eat them every day.  Sami even had about half a small hamburger patty, sans bun and with ketchup and "yellow dip" (mustard if that wasn't obvious).  Something to keep in mind.  She's had it a couple times before, but refused it last time.  Good to know Sami, good to know!

Since we have the Blue Apron, I didn't meal prep this week.  The ingredients are so well packaged that it doesn't seem like it'll take me too long to prep them on whatever night I make them.  We'll see if I change my mind at the end of the week.  I'm hoping to write a full review on Friday, but thus far, I am pleased.  We had the beef & mushroom stew last night which was really good - but it really was 2 portions - no leftovers. 

I've been receiving promotional offers for meal delivery kits for what seems like a couple years now, but they've really amped it up in the past year.  I didn't realize how many different companies offer this service these days, but so far I'm impressed enough that I'll probably try a couple different ones.

Home Chef sounds like the one I might try next.  There's more meal options per week, and the recipes seem less gourmet than what Blue Apron has to offer.  This is just from viewing their options at a glance, so I don't really have a way of knowing until I make these recipes.

I thought for sure it would make my grocery shopping easier this week, since I only had to plan a couple meals including pizza for tonight, but I used the opportunity to go shopping while Sami napped, and bought her Easter goodies for her basket & Easter egg hunt in the house.  Plus some goodies for her classmates since I totally did nothing for Valentine's Day thinking the kids were too young and she ended up getting a bunch of Valentine's.  That felt like a huge #MomFail to me until I was happily surprised to hear that other parents didn't do anything either - phew!  And then I wanted to get something for her teachers... And then I needed paper products that we were low on... I swear, it cost me more than my usual groceries do.

That's what I get for shopping without a list!  #LessonLearned Next time I get Blue Apron, which I think is April 14th, I'm still making a list!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week! What are you cooking this week?  Has anyone tried meal delivery kits that you like?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Learning with Mama: Anatomy

From the moment she was born, I was very intentional about always talking to Samantha.  I would explain what I was doing as I went through the motions of an activity.

I was amazed how early she caught on to knowing some of her body parts.  In the bath, she would lift up her legs when I said Ok it's time to wash your leg.  She would do the same on the changing table when I uttered Time to put lotions on your legs.  It filled me with excitement to see the wheels turning as she connected the dots to what I was saying and the action she was performing.

Before long, she could point to all the essentials - feet, arms, legs, belly, head, etc.

I've read/heard that babies learn a lot by touch, which makes sense.  When she was still very little, I made sure we played games where I would engage her physically.  I sang the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and used a hand throughout the song to mimic the spider crawling up Sami, the rain washing it down Sami, the sun coming up above her and drying the rain down Sami, and then the "spider" would crawl back up Sami.  I'm sure that's pretty standard.  I also did a version of the Wheels on the Bus where I would engage her arms.  We'd make circles for the wheels going around.  We'd open and shut the doors with her hands & arms.  We'd have her arms go up & down.  She'd get a gentle belly boop for the horn, and tickles for the vroom of the motor.

We eventually did This Little Piggy when she was older.  It was hard to do it when she was younger because that was my game of choice with Preston and I wanted to keep that unique connection to him and remember his reactions as opposed to hers.

I think all these little games and telling her which parts of her anatomy I was engaging her with helped her get a good grasp of their names.  The repetition through different activities was so helpful and continues to be with a lot of different things she's learning.  I guess the saying is true - practice makes perfect.

When we realized that she knew all the essential body parts, we started adding more like: chin, elbow, knee, eyebrow, etc.  We also started talking to her about the senses: You see with your eyes, you hear with your ears.

I love that our daycare has done sensory activities with Sami (and her classmates) since very early on.  They would make art by dipping their feet in paint, by playing with different textures, and eventually more and more with their hands as they gained more motor control and dexterity.  I'm sure all this reinforced learning certain body parts, and what they are capable of.

I find it fascinating how quickly babies, toddlers and children can pick up on things.  Sami's mind continues to amaze me and probably always will.  And that's one hell of a perk to being a parent.  I'm proud every day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My 5am-9pm: Is cold & flu season over yet?


We had our usual Saturday morning ritual of going to the pool.  I'm happy to report that there was no meltdown about going underwater.  I know she wasn't crazy about it, but she did good.  We then went to Michaels, the art supplies & crafting store.  As I mentioned last week, I realized Sami was ready for some crafting projects and I had thought up a good one.  A felt mat and felt shapes that she can place on the mat and re-arrange as she pleases.

I found mats, but I did not find shapes.  However, I found felt like stickers in the same aisle and decided to give them a go.  I bought stars and a couple sets of animal.  When she wants to play with this craft, she now calls it play with stars?.

She had a lot of fun, and continues to want to play with it almost every night.  We don't, but I try to let her indulge a couple nights a week.  She loves sorting the same color stars together and the same animals next to each other.

Here's what we bought for the project:

Blue felt "mat"
Yellow felt "mat"
Sea creature stickers
Jungle animal stickers
Forest animal stickers

And of course, we had lots of fun sticking stickers not on the mat. :)


On Sunday we played with the felt again because Sami could just not get enough.  I'm hopeful that once the stickiness of the stickers wears off, that it'll be what I originally thought up, and will continue to work.  If not, I guess I'll buy more stickers, or I might try this kit I found on Amazon

After naptime, we went to the park where Sami had so much fun.  However, she did get a little tired and took a tumble when we went for a walk/run.  I saw it happen before it happened, and luckily she didn't fall on the cement path, but still - it was not my favorite moment :(.  We went straight home.

In Sami's own words about playing at the park: This is fun.


Is the cold and flu season just about over?  Knock on wood, I finally feel like I haven't been fighting something, or had something for about a month.  Sami was going on a couple weeks, but developed the sniffles early in the week which affected her sleep.  Maybe she was fighting it last week and that's what was going on and it wasn't sleep regression?  After 3 nights of not sleeping great, she seems to have gotten back into her normal sleeping through the night routine.  Knock on wood again.

Tuesday's car ride home from daycare was interesting.  Frustrating? Made me sad?  Was obnoxiously annoying?  

Wanna go to park.  Wanna go to park.  Wanna park.  Wanna go to park.

For the whole.ten.minute.car.ride.home.

She went from being excited, to being sad, to having the most pathetic request in the world for wanting to go to the park.  I felt bad.  It was cold out, and by the time we got home it would be starting to get dark.  And we had to have dinner.  I might have to figure out something for spring and summer - maybe we can squeeze going to the park for 15-30 minutes twice a week.  She has so much fun.  But she was driving me crazy with her non-stop request.  I laugh about it now.

On Wednesday, I had to work late.  I asked my husband if he'd get dinner ready (baked chicken).  He said that my meal prep made it so easy.  #MamaWin

On Thursday, I had my Remicade treatment - biological drug treatment to keep Crohn's disease in remission.  I didn't feel exhausted afterward which was a plus.  This is a good thing because I had to work late on Friday too and then we had to deal with daylight savings time this past weekend.  Somehow that hit me harder than my Remicade.  Weird... This getting older thing in no joke...

Wishing you a wonderful week without runny noses!

Monday, March 12, 2018

#MealPlanMonday: March 10-16 & setting expectations

How does Monday come around so quickly every week??

I worked late a couple of nights last week so I ended up not making two of the meals I had planned on.  I didn't make the mac & cheese or the meatloaf.  We still had leftovers from late last week, we went out Friday night for dinner, and I think there was a night where both hubby and I had big lunches and just didn't have dinner.

That being said, I hadn't meal prepped the meatloaf since I found out early in the week that I'd have to work late.  When I end up having to change things up at the last minute, I try to nix whatever will cause the least amount of waste.  In this case, the only thing that might go to waste is the broccoli for the mac & cheese.. and that's if I don't get around to making it early this week because it still looked great this weekend.

On the menu this week:

Sheet pan lemon parm garlic chicken & veggies
Slow cooker Italian meatball soup
Ravioli with parma rosa sauce
30 minute shepherd's pie

I made the sheet pan dinner last night.  I unfortunately didn't get to do my meal prep because Sami decided to take a really short nap and then wanted to go to the park.  I didn't want to deny that to her on such a beautiful day - we went to the park.  I meal prepped once we got home, but all I had time to meal prep was the sheet pan dinner.  I changed up the veggies to roast so it may have added to the prep time.  I still think most recipes lie about how much time it takes to prep - unless you are a sous-chef or something!

I'm hoping to finalize the meal prep tonight or tomorrow since I took the day off.

We haven't made much progress with getting Sami to try new foods, much at least dinner isn't a constant fight and she eats something.  She refused chicken last night, hopefully this doesn't turn into a trend.  I want to say she tried one bite of steak last week - fajita steak drenched in bbq suace... did her usual gagging reflect that she does when she doesn't want something - to which we have to calmly tell her to chew.  When we went out on Friday, all she talked about was mac & cheese, and then didn't want to eat it.  With a lot of trying on our part, she did have about 5 bites, but I think the white color of the cheese was off-putting to her.  She was probably expecting orange mac & cheese. Oh how the tiniest of details can make a difference..

I wanted to touch on setting expectations.  Meal planning has made me set new expectations on myself and has been an absolute motivator when it comes to making dinner.  I used to have the hardest time deciding what to make, which was demoralizing.  It was such a waste of time and energy.  I'd spend the whole ride home thinking about what I felt like eating.  About what my family might like eating.  About what I had on hand.  And most of the time, by the time I was in the kitchen - I still had no idea what I'd end up making.

This new expectation has helped tremendously with grocery shopping.  I used to go down each aisle and grab whatever I thought I needed based on what was on sale.  I never had a list.  I'm now always armed with a list and a purpose!  Do I drift off the list to buy treats here and there, or restock something I know we're short on if the sale price is appealing?  Absolutely.  I however feel like I've reduced spoilage - mostly in the produce category.  I'd buy different vegetables in the hopes of making something that week and then I'd forget what I was going to make, wouldn't want to make it, or forgot a key ingredient for that recipe - and I wasn't about to make a trip to the grocery store just for that once I was home.

I feel like I was letting down my family with my previous dinner making strategies.  My husband and I divide and conquer the household tasks.  I like cooking so that's one of the household duties I selected.  I feel like I'm finally pulling my weight in this area.  I feel so much less pressure even if it's all in my head.  I'm certain that with time, I'll find more ways to improve my meal planning strategies.  My hope is that so far, this is beneficial to someone out there.  It's made such an improvement in my life - I just want to share it!

Lastly, meal planning supports my need to be intentional about what we are eating.  When I was just winging it, the meals weren't as balanced as I would have liked, or envisioned they would be.  When I sit down to make my monthly week plan, I'm able to see if there's a night that's short of veggies, and I'll make sure I load up a different night and make sure it yields good left-overs.  I usually buy lean cuts of meat.  I also have to be sure my diet has a lot of variety so that I don't overload myself on any one thing and cause a Crohn's flare up.  That's one pattern I've seen, if I have too much of something, my body will actually start rejecting it for a non-specific period of time.  Intentionality makes all the difference!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Balancing Work & Home: Finding "Me" Time

Me time.  Is that something that once existed?  I could do whatever I pleased.  Whenever I wanted.

Weekends are now filled with toddler centered activities.  Don't get me wrong, I wanted to have children and  I'm happy that most of my time at home is consumed with Sami.  However everyone needs a little time to themselves.

To relax a little.  
To think.  
To plan.
To re-energize.  

When Sami was a newborn and an infant, I would stay up until her 10-11pm feeding.  I also had that new mom adrenaline working for me.  And the fact that my husband would take the early feeding, allowed me some time to rest.  I recharged on the weekend by sleeping in a little.  If I could, I squeezed in a nap.

When she started mostly sleeping through the night, I started going to bed earlier and lost all those evenings/late night hours to myself.  I miss feeling like I could stay up late.  I used to be able to function well past 10pm.  I used to spend so many hours blogging or gaming past midnight.  And now?  I can still function past 10pm but I know the sleep is important... Oh the sacrifices we make to stay healthy!

I've slowly been able to integrate more and more me time into my life.  You ask, where do I now find me time now that I don't have the late evening/night energy of a 20 year old?

As you know, I find some during my lunch break at work.  I use it to meal plan, to plan activities and of course to blog!

I find some on the weekend if I wake up before 9:00.  If I can't fall back asleep, I'll use some of that time to catch up on General Hospital.  I've been watching it since my tween years sometimes on and off.  With the magic of TiVo and digital recordings, it's now mostly on.

By meal planning and by doing meal prep on the weekend, it's opened up some time on weeknight evenings.  This is still pretty new so it's mostly opened up time for my husband and I to watch a TV show we both like or for his favorite activity - laying on my lap as I rub his head and he doses off (even if it's barely past 8pm).  Perhaps I can use this newfound time to start working on scrapbooking Sami's art and pictures like I've been wanting to do and started over a year ago but haven't touched since.

If possible, I use Sami's naptime on the weekend to do something I like.  Sunday's naptime is usually reserved for meal prep as I catch up on General Hospital.  Saturday's naptime... I usually use it to finalize my grocery shopping list, and actually kick up my feet while eating lunch and catching up on some TV.  Yes, I like TV... and believe it or not - I watch a lot less than I used to.  I've evolved...

Every now and then - I take a day off work and Sami still goes to daycare.  Those are the days where I can do something for me, and do something around the house that feels productive.  I think the last time I did this, I went shopping and then I cleaned up paperwork in the home office.

Speaking of which... I need to schedule one of those soon.  I'm overdue.  I think a massage is in order.  And I need to get my hair done :)

Where do you find your me time and how do you maximize it?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Is the innocence of childhood completely gone?

Remember those carefree days from our youth?  Where we would ride our bikes around the neighborhood - sometimes you would even get lost trying to find that one fun park you went to once before.  The days of playing tag with the neighborhood kids until dusk.  Going to school to learn - and to hang out with your friends of course.

Oh the innocence of childhood and even of adolescence.

My daughter is only 2, so that may have something to do with this feeling... but I don't really want Sami riding her bike by herself around the neighborhood.  Or playing tag until dusk without supervision.  It makes me sound like I'll be super overprotective, which isn't something I want to be.

The world today doesn't seem to be what it was 30 years ago, dare I even say 20 years ago.  Perhaps it's just because of how connected we are to the whole world thanks to Mr. Internet?

I grew up in a quiet suburb of Montreal, Quebec (Canada) where you didn't really hear about guns.  I didn't really learn about mass shootings until I was just about to graduate from high school, when the Columbine Shooting occurred. I had no idea where Columbine was.  Soon after the shooting, there were many news reports or articles that recounted the events of a mass shooting that had occurred in Montreal in the late 1980s.  A man killed 14 women at l'École Polytechnicque (Montreal) because he had issues with feminism and women in general.  At least that's what I remember of the story.

To my recollection, there were 2 other shootings in Colleges/Universities while I still lived in Montreal.  At Concordia University and at Dawson College.  My brothers attended Concordia.  I took classes at Concordia.  I have friends that attended both establishments.  It was frightening, but the incidents seemed isolated enough that it wasn't something I worried about constantly.  They became sad events I had heard about and soon distant memories.

We weren't as connected to the rest of the world as we are now with all the different media avenues, but we received the newspaper daily which I perused.  We watched the news around dinner time too.

I haven't lived in Canada for 10 years now and I'm not sure what the gun laws look like now.  I'm not big on politics.  I believe that they are pretty restricted though.  Growing up, guns weren't something that seemed to concern our community.  Crime was pretty low, though not nonexistent.  I remember that my neighbor's house was burglarized in the middle of the night while they were out of town.  But never ever did I hear about stories as horrible as the ones I've been hearing or reading about for the past 5-6 years.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of late 2012 rocked me to my very core.  How crazy had the world become for completely innocent and unknowing children to become targets of what I can only call a madman?  My heart ached for the parents and the families.  I wasn't a mother yet myself, but I had yearned for children and had suffered at least one miscarriage.  I knew loss, but not to that extent.  Or at least not to the extent that I know it today.

For a long time after my son died, I avoided listening to the news and reading websites about current events.  I couldn't totally escape them, because people will talk about them, or write about them on Facebook.  I've read some horrible stories - I wrote about a few on my SpreadHappinessForPreston blog - My aversion to news.

The stories I wrote about are etched in my brain and in my heart.  I have a terrible memory - ask my husband.  But these stories, I remember reading every gruesome detail.  They still make my blood boil.  They've also instilled fear into my life.  Recent events have multiplied that fear.

All parents fear for their children, I get that.  However, school should be a place where children and teens are safe.  School should be about education, socialization and fun.  Yet, these school shootings keep occurring.

For a while, people blamed guns.  And then it was mental health.  I don't know the correct answer, but I feel like it's somewhere in between.  I get it that in America it's a citizen's right to protect their property and family.  However, who needs automatic weapons for this?  Shouldn't those be reserved for the military?  I profoundly believe that these horrible massacres wouldn't have been as terrible if automatic weapons weren't so easy to obtain, or dare I even say if they were banned.  Didn't the world used to ban books?  Is it inconceivable that certain types of weapons could/should be banned?  I don't know enough about guns to say much more.

I've been wanting to write about this for weeks now; since the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida.  Everything was still too fresh though.  I wanted time to gather my thoughts and composure.

Whatever I'm doing, if Sami is around - I don't like not being able to see her.  I need to be close.  I don't want anything to happen to her.  Don't get me wrong, I want her to have her own experiences and learn from her mistakes.  That's what life is about.  But I'm scared.  I don't look forward to her first day of kindergarten because of all these shootings, and threats made against schools.  They have drills for that.  The only drills I ever had were fire drills.  Times are a changing...

I'm frightful of the day where she'll want to go over to someone's house I don't know.  How do you ask another parent if they have guns in the house without offending them.  And if they have guns, where are they?  Is there any possibility that the kids could access them?  How do you let down your child if you don't feel comfortable with it?

I wish these weren't fears I have.

I wish these weren't fears many parents.

I wish these weren't fears our children are going to have.

My 5am-9pm: Play dates & a day with mama

Saturday We went to the pool, as we usually do and had a nice time.  We did a few safety exercises which the instructor does about every 3...