Sunday, January 30

Kids' Crafts: Klutz Review and Giveaway From Scholastic

Giveaway open to Canadians.

When my contact at Scholastic asked me if I wanted to review some Klutz craft kits, my only stipulation was that I wanted something that my four year old daughter would be able to do. I know their Klutz books are very popular, as I see my Grade 3 students ordering them from the classroom flyers all the time, but I know many of them are for older kids. I wanted an activity that Frannie would be able to do with some independence, and be proud of her work.

Well, you should have seen the look on her face when I handed her The Fabulous Book of Paper Dolls by Julie Collings. ($19.99)

Now, this is a girl who asked me to cut the cardboard pictures of Disney Princesses off the back of her Advent calendar, and played with those cheap little things as if they were the most expensive toys in the world. Paper dolls are her thing. (Don't get me started on the questionable connection between Advent and Princesses or Spiderman. Do you know how hard it is to find a religious Advent calendar? But I digress.)

These sturdy paper dolls are perforated and ready to go. They attach with adhesive dots, which I thought might be a pain (mainly because I figured I would be responsible for all of the adhesing. I mean adhering.) Once Frannie learned how to work that part herself, she was on her way. The dolls themselves are a range of skin colours, and interestingly when Frannie made her first choice she said: "I'm picking this one, because her skin is the most like mine." How nice to think that her darker skinned counterparts can say the same thing.

The book is full of fashions, accessories, babies (perhaps considered accessories if you're a Hollywood starlet), pets, and even backdrop scenes for imaginative enjoyment.

Frannie has honestly played with this for hours each day ("This is the best thing I've ever had in my whole life!"), and shows it to everyone whose attention she can capture. "See what a lady sent me?" (My apologies to the male PR reps out there, but all review products are sent to our home by "a lady".)

If your little one isn't so much a paper dolls sort of kid, how about this:

Klutz Build-a Book: Why I Love My Dad ($14.99)

Klutz Build-A-Book: Why I Love My Dad

We're saving this one for another day (maybe my husband will forget about it by June if I put it away for a Father's Day gift) but basically it's a make-a-scrapbook type project where you can use the provided pens, stickers, paper, etc. to create a special Daddy keepsake.

If you're a hibernator like me, you're probably looking for some indoor fun you can share with your kids this time of year, and either of these Klutz kits would be a great choice!

And of course Scholastic is offering both of these great kits to one lucky Canadian This Mom Loves reader! To enter, simply leave a comment and tell me what sort of crafty activity your child enjoys most!

For additional entries, leave a separate comment letting me know that:
Contest ends on Monday February 14th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, after which time a winner will be chosen by random number generation. Good luck, and happy crafting!

Wednesday, January 26

It's My Blogiversary: Now Delurk!

Today marks the First Anniversary of This Mom Loves! I can't believe that one year ago today I published my first post (though I waited a couple of weeks before actually sharing the address with anyone!)

Now, don't feel badly if you forgot all about my special day. Stick with me for a minute, and I'll tell you how to make it up to me...and it will be quick and easy!

I started out just wanting a place to share my ideas and opinions, to make some connections and hone my writing skills. It has become so much more than that. The networking especially is incredible...and I have to admit I love being able to say "so, Debbie Travis was telling me...."



From My Very First Post to the enticing Top Five Signs You Won't Want To Follow My Blog, I was off to a good start. Some of my other highlights:

Are You A Hyper Parent? (On a related note, it hit me in June that my four year old was in dance, swimming and soccer all at once. Hmmm.)
Bottle Battle: Have You Heard That Breast Is Best?
Is Your Child Ready For Kindergarten? (Are You?)
Sorry I'm Not "Just Spiritual"
In Praise of Epidurals

It's also amazing what I've learned, not only about blogging and computer "stuff", but also about the moms out there. For example, apparently there are a LOT of people who love designer Sarah Richardson, as her Momterview gave me the most hits I have ever had in a day...by far!


If you want to see a year's worth of my own (Debbie-and-Sarah-wannabe) home decorating posts, click here. You may also want to check out all of my celebrity Momterviews, travel posts or my friend Krista's ever-popular party themes.

As a "PR Friendly" blogger, I love having the opportunity to try out new products, attend events, and share my opinions. Plus it's fun to be able to share the wealth with others through giveaways.

One of the biggest perks, though, is that it has given me a real sense of pride to know that I created this (with technical and design credits to Cebong, Eon and Leelou Designs) and I retain all editorial control.

Now, I must say that it's strictly a hobby. I haven't made a penny, except the odd gift card for participating in some blog tours, but I'm certainly not in it for the money. I get my rewards in other ways. And this is where my anniversary gift comes in! (Hey...you forgot all about it! You can hear me out!)


Photobucket

I've read that 95% of blog readers are "lurkers" who do not leave comments. I was a lurker until about a year ago, so I ain't judging. Little did I realize back then that bloggers check regularly for comments, and get excited when they realize that there are some, and people are not only reading their work, but care enough to say something about it!

I came across a great blog post early on called DeLurk Your Pants Off! (Though I'm not encouraging you to go that far. Really. Please don't.) But I do want you to delurk today, as your blogiversary gift to me. Be brave, or just compassionate, and leave a comment! Feel free to just say hi, or if you're feeling really bold, tell me something about yourself. If you have your own blog, I even promise to come and visit!

I can also promise a lot more information and fun in Year 2 of This Mom Loves, including an athlete Momterview, true confessions, and some great products for kids and adults alike - crafts, toys, cleaning products (I find that fun!) and jewelery (probably more popular!)

For now, you lurkers, it's time to leave a comment. Click on the title of this post if you're in your email or on the homepage and the comments box isn't visible. (Sorry to the pros, but I've actually had people ask me how to do this!)

Thanks for commenting and making my day...and thanks to all of my readers for helping me take This Mom Loves further than I ever expected...now onward and upward!

Sunday, January 23

Cheerios First Foods Giveaway!

Giveaway open to Canada.

Can you remember the first foods you gave your bundle of joy? Perhaps you aren't even at that phase yet, and still need to decide how to proceed when milk is no longer enough. Where can you go for information? Your doctor, obviously, but most of us don't stop there. We want to know what the experts recommend, but we also want to know what everyone else is actually doing.

Introducing the new Cheerios First Foods section on Babycenter.ca. If you're reading this blog, it's safe to say you have a little one, and are therefore familiar with Babycenter. With both of my pregnancies I signed up for the weekly developmental updates, which were fun to share with my husband and my students. The site is also a great reference for almost any baby concern that may arise.




Baby food is always a popular topic. With Frannie, my first, I started her on bland pablum at precisely six months of age, and progressed through baby food vegetables, fruit, and finally meat before starting on chunkier finger foods (and yes, Cheerios were the first!) She sat in a special high chair and I used all sorts of ergonomically-designed spoons to enhance the mealtime experience.

Then I had a second child. The high chair was gone, and we actually put her in a Bumbo seat right on the kitchen table with us as soon as she could squish into it. Baby food? Forget it. I was so excited the first time around to shop for those cute little jars, but since I was already feeding a toddler at the same table this time, I just minced or pureed what everyone else was having, and she was set. Could this be connected to the fact that she is a much better eater than her older sister? No, probably she just takes after Daddy and Frannie unfortunately takes after her picky Mom.




The new Cheerios First Foods section on Babycenter.ca has great information, such as which foods to introduce when. I particularly love that the content acknowledges cultural and family preferences, yet makes the Canadian Paediatric Society recommendations clear.

There's a section where experts answer common questions, like "Is it safe to give my baby honey?" and "Are organic foods better for my baby?", as well as printable tools like a weekly caregiver food diary. (I would use that if a child had nutritional issues, or to monitor the introduction of new foods. I wouldn't expect caregivers to fill this out for every healthy child.)

You can also find some interesting polls, just to see how weird -I mean normal - you and your baby really are!

To celebrate First Foods, I have a Cheerios Prize Pack to give away, worth $50! It includes a Cheerios On-the-go Tot Container, Cheerios playbook, box of Cheerios, bowl and utensil set, and a $30 VISA cash card! (Put it towards some wonderful first foods for your little angel. Or shoes for yourself. Whatever.)



All you have to do to enter is check out the new Cheerios First Foods section on Babycenter.ca, and leave  a comment with your feedback. (Be sure to also leave your email address. If I can't contact you, you can't win!)

For extra entries (once the mandatory entry is completed), leave a separate comment letting me know that:
  • you follow This Mom Loves publicly through Google Friend Connect
  • you subscribe to This Mom Loves through email (be sure subscription is activated)
  • you follow @thismomloves on Twitter
Contest is open to Canadians and will close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, February 6th, after which time a winner will be chosen through random number generation. Good luck, and happy munching!

Disclosure - I am participating in the Cheerios First Foods program by Mom Central on behalf of General Mills. I received a gift card as a thank you for my participation.  Opinions are, as always, my own.

Friday, January 21

Ballad of the Rag Man

Ballad of the Rag Man (written by Cynthia Gustavson, illustrated by Kristina Tosic) is a well-written, beautifully illustrated, worthwhile book.

In the story, "The Rag Man" is the neighbourhood eccentric who collects castoff items from everyone's curbside garbage. One day a curious little girl decides to follow him to find out exactly what he does with these found treasures...and learns a very important lesson about judging others.


Product Details

This title was a Finalist in the Indie Excellence Book Awards, (which may mean something to us as adults) but kids don't care about awards, and prefer to offer their own opinions.

I read this story to my students, and they used their little reader's notepads to become mini-book reviewers and share their thoughts about the book. (By the way, we discussed how book reviews aren't always positive, and that I wanted to hear about anything they disliked. Only one student took me up on it. Wait for that.)

Here's what various eight year olds have to say about Ballad of the Rag Man:

"I like how he took broken stuff and fixed it."

"I like the book because the Rag Man didn't even ask people for money to fix their stuff." (One of the students' early predictions was that the Rag Man wanted to sell the junk to make some money.)

"I think that you shouldn't say someone is weird when you never have seen what he actually is. Maybe he's nice, cause you never know."

"I like the writing because it rhymes. I like the pictures too because some of them are drawings and some of them are real photos." (The illustrations are actually very captivating, the way photos and artwork are combined.)

"I like it because it teaches people they shouldn't make rumours about people because you could be wrong and it would be mean."

With the help of links on the Rag Man Project website, parents can use the book as a springboard for valuable family discussions and activities, and teachers can turn it in to a cross-curricular unit of study (incorporating Social Studies, Music, Drama, etc.) I think it would be fun to have kids design a piece of art with "found objects".

Recently in our area there was an incident that made it important to talk to the kids about "stranger danger". This book helped enrich those discussions, as we talked about the fact that it's important to take caution and be safe around those we don't know, but how that's very different from judging, spreading rumours, or being hurtful.

This story also ties in well with Earth Day, and the need to reuse and recycle instead of adding to the landfill. It could also be used with many of our monthly virtues, like compassion, justice, tolerance and stewardship.

For further tips you can "like" Rag Man Project on Facebook to get daily inspirational updates from the author.

Just to prove that you can't please everybody, one more quote from a Grade 3 student: "I didn't like Ballad of the Rag Man because the title was long." To each his own.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of Ballad of the Rag Man for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own. And my students'.

Monday, January 17

CSN $50 Giveaway

Giveaway open to Canada and US.

In honour of a very special occasion coming up next week (you'll hear about it!), CSN Stores has provided me with a $50 gift code for one lucky This Mom Loves reader.

You've probably seen CSN on other blogs, including previously on This Mom Loves. Their 200+ online stores sell, well, pretty much anything you could possibly imagine.

I've done a few decorating posts and Momterviews lately, and I had no idea how many design and furniture options are available at CSN, for every room of the house. Do you need a new desk lamp? A small appliance? Flatware? Bedding? Wall art? Or are you perhaps looking for a round chair? (Isn't that funky looking? No wonder it's part of the "All Modern" selection!)


Emu Round Chair

CSN also sells baby gear and toys, pet accessories, office supplies, and shoes...there's definitely something for everyone.

Entry for this giveaway (Canada and US) is simple: if you'd like to win a $50 gift code, which can be used towards any item of your choice from CSN stores, simply visit their site and come back and leave a comment to let me know what you'd buy with your winnings! (Make sure to leave me your email address, if it's not available through your profile. If I can't contact you, I will choose another winner!)

For additional entries (once the mandatory entry has been completed) leave a separate comment letting me know that:
  • you follow This Mom Loves publicly through Google Friend Connect
  • you subscribe to This Mom Loves through email (make sure subscription is activated)
  • you follow @thismomloves on Twitter
The contest will be open until Tuesday, February 1st at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, after which time a winner will be chosen through random number generation. Good luck, and happy CSN-shopping!

Sunday, January 16

Gravol: Proud Sponsor of the Children's Wish Foundation

I'm sure you've heard of the fantastic Children's Wish Foundation, granting exceptional wishes to Canadian children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.




It's also a safe bet that you've heard of Gravol, the #1 pharmacist recommended antinauseant. Well, now the two have joined together.

I'm going to be honest here: I personally use Gravol as a sleeping pill more than for its anti-nausea properties, but we certainly have a supply on hand in our medicine cupboard. We actually picked up their Natural Source Ginger tablets specifically for their non-drowsy property when my carsick-prone husband was taking his class on a field trip (i.e. long bus ride) and falling asleep wouldn't have been good for him. Though I'm sure 30 Grade 8's would have loved an unsupervised bus ride!
So far Frannie has been an excellent traveller, but on our trip to Mont Tremblant this summer we realized that Maggie has inherited her parents' carsick genes. Let's just say Gravol will definitely be administered before our next road trip.

I'm no naturopath, but I actually do avoid giving my kids meds unless necessary. And "necessary" has a bit of a selfish angle to it, usually relating to interruption of my sleep. Or vomit in my vehicle.

I was impressed to learn that Gravol is a sponsor of the Children's Wish Foundation, and together they have launched a website full of parenting resources and links sure to answer your questions (that is, any questions that aren't answered through the vast expertise available at This Mom Loves!)

I checked out a couple of their links, and found valuable information on topics that are a good fit for this company, like "The Medicine Cabinet" and "Travel Tips".



The morning sickness link took me to a 2007 article with the old standby recommendations, like eating small meals and trying acupressure (neither of which worked for me - stupid, useless Seabands!) I was relieved to see that pharmaceuticals are also discussed, and thank God for Diclectin. Literally, I got down on my knees and thanked the Lord when this medication kicked in during my first pregnancy. Which I swear would have been my last if not for drugs. American readers may want to note, with jealousy, that Diclectin (the only approved medication meant specifically for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy) is available by prescription here in Canada.

You can find out more about the Children's Wish Foundation, and Gravol at their new website - Gravol: Proud Sponsor of the Children's Wish Foundation.



Of course, the website also provides a product selector to help you determine which Gravol medication will meet the needs of you and your family. They are a business after all.

Disclaimer: Wondering why I post about these things? I receive press releases from various companies and PR reps, and pick and choose which topics I feel are worth sharing.(I do not receive compensation.)  I actually do use and recommend Gravol, and believe strongly in the amazing work done by the Children's Wish Foundation.

Tuesday, January 11

Read It: Food For Thoughtful Parenting

You know someone's using their head when a parenting book manages to be meaningful while at the same time a quick read.

I thoroughly enjoyed "Food For Thoughtful Parenting: 12 Must-Have Lists for New Parents and Young Families", written by Nina Coslov and Tara Keppler.




The book is a collection of handy lists for parents, interspersed with the authors' own experiences and anecdotes, and meets my number one criteria: PRACTICALITY.

List topics include "Thoughts For Newbies", "Toys That Aren't" and "Smoothing the Bumps" (not a reference to postpartum weight, this list actually gives tips for getting through some of the trickiest parenting moments).

My favourite section was "Tips For Talking", and my favourite such tip was to reference details when praising children. (In current education-speak, we call that "descriptive feedback". What does "good effort" mean? How can they actually do better next time?) Kids need fewer generalizations and more specifics, especially when it comes to our fast-flowing praise. If every piece of artwork, athletic activity, and musical performance is "the best", they either get a very warped self-image, or learn quickly that we're lying to them.

I had a few "you understand me!" moments while devouring this book. For example, the authors write that although new moms may be advised not to worry about cleaning the house, for some people a messy home can cause distress and anxiety...so "take the time to figure out what brings you peace and enjoyment in these changing times." Thank you! For me, sleep would not come when the house was a disaster, so the whole "sleep while the baby sleeps" mantra was nothing but annoying.

The book is available for $14.95 through the Food For Thoughtful Parenting website, or Amazon.com, and would make the perfect gift for a new or expectant mom. I've been on the job almost five years, and I gleaned a great deal of insight from it as well. (There's even a summary at the back, so you don't have to flip through the whole book to locate your favourite tip - especially handy when writing a blog review!)

Sunday, January 9

Okay, I Watch Too Many Movies...

I'll just be upfront here: I watched every one of these movies throughout the Christmas holiday season. In order to put over 15 hours of my life to good use, I am providing a service by ranking them for you here in order of preference. Since I missed marking over the holidays (ha ha) I will even provide letter grades to further aid in your movie selections.

(Please note that this list does not include Christmas films, or old movies we watched on PVR. Like Sex and the City for the fifth time. That one was me, not we. Or classics like The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, which we showed the girls during the 48 hours of family cold and flu. Fun stuff.)

The A-Team (rental): A

This is so not my kind of movie, but it was entertaining and kept my interest right through. There were enough plot twists and witty lines to balance out the testosterone-driven action sequences.


Salt (rental): A

I'm more a Team Aniston girl (in theory; Jolie clearly has more range and gets better roles), but this one also kept my attention. (If you're wondering why this is such a sticking point, I will remind you that I often fall asleep during movies these days. Especially if we're watching them really late, like after 9 p.m.) I like when a movie like this keeps me guessing, although I did make a couple of correct predictions early on.



Going The Distance (rental): A-

My husband found this tale of long-distance love absolutely hilarious, and I found it very funny (there's a distinction). Christina Applegate (as Drew Barrymore's protective older sister) steals the show as far as I'm concerned.



Easy A (rental): B

If I were a teenybopper, I would probably rate this higher. By the way, I love Lisa Kudrow, but every character she plays just seems like Phoebe to me.



The American (rental): B

What was supposed to be suspenseful just came across as slow during various parts of this movie, but George Clooney was great as usual, and the gorgeous Italian scenery made up for any lags in action.



Yogi Bear (theatre): B-

Frannie declared it "Better than Tangled!" I certainly wouldn't go that far, but it was exactly what I expected, in a good way. Would this be considered a step down or a great career opportunity for the talented Anna Faris and Rob Cavanagh?



Little Fockers (theatre): C

Full of fantastic actors who all do their job (though Teri Polo was very underutilized), but as someone who drills students on developing their plot from beginning to end, I'm still not exactly sure what it was about.



The Other Guys (rental): C- (maybe?)

Generally speaking, I find Wahlberg great and Ferrell good, but I still feel asleep after half an hour. And it wasn't even that late at night!


 
I'd love to hear if you agree or disagree with any of my assessments offered here...or if you can recommend any other new releases I didn't mention.

By the way, it's SO much more fun to assign grades when I don't really have to justify them, and they won't upset anybody. I have a feeling Will Ferrell won't be in tears or get his mom to call and demand an explanation for the C-. Somehow I think that guy's gonna be okay.

Thursday, January 6

Perfect Parties Theme Five: The Rock Star Party

Thanks to my friend Krista, I bring you today the latest instalment in her party theme series: The Rock Star Party!

Decorations

At her daughter's party, there was a stage with flashing lights, and each guest's name was on a star on the backdrop. There are lots of decorating options when working with a 'star' theme, and you can also find prepackaged 'Rock n'Roll' paraphernalia available.



Games

Musical stars: There were foam stars randomly placed around the room, and when the music stopped kids had to find a certain colour.

Name that tune: Kids could win blow-up microphones when they named the correct song played on the CD player. Krista was the host and invited kids up on the stage one at a time to play the game. She asked them questions about their rock-star outfit, and made it like a game show.

If kids went up stage to sing, dance or play an instrument, they also received a wild and crazy coloured hair extension.



Food

Grilled cheese cut out with a star-shaped cookie cutter. Also mini fruit kabobs on guitar stir sticks.



Cake

Hannah Montana cupcake wrappers and guitar and star sugar decorations.



Loot bags

In Krista's loot bags: recorders, music CD and case, Hannah Montana chocolate sucker, rock and roll crazy erasers, Jonas brothers pens, necklace with music notes on it, fun bracelets and Disco Bits chocolate bars, all in a reusable container.


You can find more terrific Rock Star Party ideas on the Kaboose website, such as:
  • for invitations, use an empty CD case, or a lanyard with a 'backstage pass', or design them like concert tickets
  • have a karaoke machine
  • use disposable cameras to simulate the paparazzi, and have a red carpet out for the guests to walk
  • make a Walk of Fame with chalk stars on the driveway or sidewalk
  • have a dressing room where partygoers can do their hair and makeup
  • bring someone in to teach a dance routine
  • pull out the camcorder and record the group performing a music video
  • make guitars with bristol board and allow kids to decorate with paint, stickers, glitter, etc.
  • add tattoos and sunglasses to the loot bags
I will definitely be using this theme in the future! If you've done the Rock Star Party before (and I know at least one of you who has!) please leave a comment with any other ideas that worked for you.

Oh, and a little tidbit for you mothers of boys who feel excluded by these party themes: I was recently introduced to Spaceships and Laserbeams, an Etsy store with DIY printable party supplies just for boys! Spaceships and Laserbeams ("a no princess zone"!) is run by Canadian moms, and they donate 5% of all proceeds to the YMCA Strong Kids campaign, so check them out!

Tuesday, January 4

Your Baby Is Speaking To You...and Welcome, William!

When I first laid eyes on the beautiful book "Your Baby Is Speaking To You: A Visual Guide To The Amazing Behaviors of Your Newborn and Growing Baby" by Dr. Kevin Nugent, I knew I would be reviewing it. I also knew exactly who I would be passing it on to.




The author has studied newborn infants and early parent-child relations for over three decades, and is the director of the Brazelton Institute at Children's Hospital, Boston. The book is divided up in to seven sections (Sleeping, Eating Crying; The Amazing Newborn; Your Baby's Senses; Settling In; The Social Newborn; The Growing Baby, the Bigger World; and Parent and Baby and the Lifelong Bond.) These are split into subsections, each a two-page spread with text on one side, and a gorgeous black and white baby photo on the other.

The photos alone (taken by Abelardo Morell, of actual newborns being studied by Dr. Nugent) could keep you glued to the book for hours, but the text is just as engaging. Written in an accessible tone, Nugent describes various baby behaviours (the Fencer response, cuddliness, signs of distress), with a particular focus on baby/caregiver interaction. Distinctions are highlighted, such as the difference between deep sleep and light sleep, and between the sleep smile and the social smile.

I appreciated a disclaimer offered in the introduction: "This book does not set out to offer advice on how to care for your baby. There are many wise books for parents, and indeed, many wise people in your community to whom you can turn for advice." This is not a parenting manual. It's different, and it's more. As I flipped through, reading passages here and there, it made me wish that this resource had been available to me when my girls were first born. Perhaps it would have encouraged me to stop and appreciate (and try to understand) more of their little movements and habits. Alas, the newborn phase is well behind me, and I would hate for this title to be wasted sitting on my bookshelf.

So, whom will I be honouring with my copy of this book? You'd expect me to give it to a new mom of course; likely a first-timer who still has the naivete and sweet appreciation of every little sigh and coo. This book, however, is not going to a rookie mom, but to my friend and teaching partner, C., who just gave birth to her fourth child right before Christmas.

Time for some back story.

I'll never forget the morning last August when I received a call from C. She was working in her classroom to prepare for September and was interrupted by her doctor, who called to request that she come in to discuss results of her ultrasound. Yes, it was serious, and yes, she should bring her husband. I hung up with instructions to Google what the problem might be, and I called back minutes later with not so great news. "According to the Internet, issues that come up in 20 week ultrasounds usually involve the heart," I told her, "although most times it's a false alarm, and you just need more tests to be sure." I'm sure I lost her at "heart"...which did indeed end up being the concern, and was unfortunately no false alarm.

The ultrasound showed that her little baby suffered from a congenital heart defect called double inlet left ventricle, and it was very serious. She would have to deliver the baby in Toronto, he or she would be transferred to Sick Kids' Hospital immediately, and would face open heart surgery within the first few days of life, not to correct the problem, but for a temporary fix. If all went well (and that was not a guarantee), baby would face further surgeries and probable physical limitations throughout his or her life.

C. and her husband went through months of doctor visits and tests, some less comfortable than others, and were barraged by information, much of it distressing. Throughout it all, C. carried herself with such strength and bravery that I could not go without mentioning it here. Now let's be clear, she was very human. I certainly saw emotions and tears (though never what Oprah would deem "the ugly cry'!) but she was a model of faith and poise, and I personally don't know how she did it.

She taught full-time until just weeks before the birth, and celebrated her family Christmas a week early (her kids wrote to Santa to explain the situation, and fortunately he was accommodating enough to make a special advance trip), before heading to the big city to bring baby into the world.

Let's fast forward, shall we, to the good news? Baby William has indeed entered the world, and has made his presence known. In his first two weeks of life, he has undergone various procedures, one of which being the aforementioned open heart surgery. He has also surprised doctors and nurses with his resilience, and is going home to join his family TODAY (an incredible two weeks after birth, and one week after heart surgery).



Oh, and get this: C. is the dear friend who introduced me to the Pandora bracelet, and she emailed from the hospital to tell me that they have a program there called "Bravery Beads" where kids get a new bead every time they undergo a procedure. "Very Pandora-esque," she informed me, "and he already has quite a collection!"

Ah, like mother, like son.

You would assume that by the fourth child, moms know it all (or think they do), and have little time to pore over their babies, let alone books detailing every possible baby behaviour. Something tells me that C. will enjoy doing just that, as she cherishes every moment with her little miracle. Therefore, "Your Baby Is Speaking To You" will soon be in her (already very full) hands.

It would be greatly appreciated if you, dear reader, could pause right now and offer a prayer for C. and her family, and especially for sweet William. (In his short life I have already heard him referred to as Wills, William the Strong, William the Brave, Bela - the Hungarian equivalent of his name, and Puff Baby - a reference to his appearance at one point during his hospital stay, and a one-time thing, I was assured.)

By the way C., do I have to wrap the book now that you know what you're getting? :-)

Saturday, January 1

Kate's Favourite Things (Alternate Title: Stuff People Bought Me)

I know you won't be able to start 2011 at peace without a full recap of what was under This Mom's Christmas tree, so here you go! Be forewarned that because of this post, these items will be flying off the shelves, so act fast if you want to own the same cool stuff as me!
Faith Hill "Parfums"

 After the Calvin Klein "Obsession" days, I converted to Body Shop "White Musk", which has been my staple for, oh, 15 years. It was time for a change, and I found this winner after a lengthy search (during which my sister-in-law politely mentioned that maybe I shouldn't be walking around Costco smelling my wrist every thirty seconds. I had to know whether the scent changed throughout the day!)


M and M's - plain, of course.
 If you eat the bag in handfuls, over the course of a few hours, it's not nearly as weird as sitting down and eating the whole thing in one sitting.


three button pullover
Sweater from Ricki's

Silver Charm, Black Zirconia
New bead for my Pandora bracelet


Traditional Washer Toss Game (PAC)

Washer toss game (from Mom and Dad, who like to give us a game every year)



A donation of three pigs through World Vision Canada, to empower less fortunate families
(Also from Mom and Dad, and really a cool gift, don't you think?)

Just to be cute, they also threw in:


Though I think the point of the gift, as I understand it, is more about saving the children than the pigs. But still a witty connection.

This list is not complete, but it's the best I could do with a quick Google Image search. (I've spent enough time uploading and sharing Christmas pics, and I'm not enough of a die-hard blogger to start taking photos of my gifts. No offense to those who have done so on their own blogs.) Therefore, you don't get to see my new wallet (Roots), gloves (Joe Fresh), money (Canadian currency), or decorative Kleenex box holder (vintage. Not really, but it doesn't have a brand.)

And not to be cheesy or anything, but in case anyone is visiting for the first time, I do want to add the disclaimer that being with my family is truly the best gift of all. Well, that and two weeks off work.

Happy New Year, everyone, and all the best in 2011!