Monday, 28 September 2015

The Top 20 Excuses our Toddlers Use to Get Out of Bed

My kids love their sleep, but they like staying up with mom and dad even better! My daughter is especially notorious for calling us in with a myriad of excuses, and they make us chuckle. I put together a list of the top 20 excuses she's come up with in the last little while.  I know there are some other hilarious lists out there, and I'm sure your little ones have come up with some really good ones, too!  Share them with us, because we love having a good laugh!
  1. “I need to pee.” You.literally.just.peed. But okay, so we pee. Toddler forces a drop of pee out to prove her honesty. 
  2. “I missed you.”  It’s hard to say no to this one, but stay strong.  Send that kid back to bed!
  3. “What are you and dad doing?”  Waiting for you to fall asleep.  Seriously.  Go back to bed.
  4. “I’m hungry.”  That’s because you refused to finish your vegetables at dinner.  I told you you’d be hungry later!  In your toddler face (you can tell I'm a super-mature mom)!
  5. “I’m thirsty.”  Sometimes I wish I could hook you up to an IV that would provide for all your nutritional and hydration needs.
  6. “I saw something.”  Bless your heart for calling me in to tell me that. 
  7. “But you and daddy are still awake.”  Yes, yes we are.  When you’re old enough to drive a car, you can join us.
  8. “I lost my <fill in favourite lovey here>.”  You mean the one that’s right above your head?  Do they make stuffed animal leashes?  Can I tie this blanket to your wrist so you don’t lose it again?
  9. “It’s too hot.”  That’s probably because you’ve buried yourself in a mound of blankets and stuffed animals. 
  10. “It’s too cold.”  And now we’re Goldilocks, are we?  What is the optimal thermostat-slash-pajama combo that will allow you to achieve perfect homeostasis for sleep?!
  11. “There’s a monster under the bed/in the closet.”  You should probably deal carefully this one.  You know, to save you the counseling fees later on in life.
  12. “It’s too dark.” We have the night light turned on, remember?  Toddler remembers, but could obviously care less. 
  13. “It’s too light.”  The evil cousin of, “It’s too dark.”  Often used in the summer when the sun doesn’t go down until much too late.
  14. “I need to pee.  Again.”  Yes.  Again.  Sometimes potty-trained toddlers can be such jerks.
  15. “I forgot to tell you about <fill in mundane detail of toddler’s day here>.”  If you can’t convince your toddler to tell you about it in the morning, nod your head, affirm with, “Hmm, that’s great,” and get your butt out of there.
  16. “We forgot to read <insert name of the longest bedtime storybook you own>.”  Sorry, mommy forgot.  And by forgot, I mean that I buried the book in the back of the closet so you never select it as your 30-minute bedtime story ever again.
  17. “My tummy hurts.” Could be legitimate.  Or it might not be.  But, a little tummy rub never killed anyone.
  18. “I slept yesterday, so I’m not tired today.”  Ha, if only life worked like that!  I could work 3 full-time jobs and be rolling in the dough.
  19. “I had a bad dream.”  This is literally impossible, because you haven’t actually fallen asleep yet. 
  20. “You forgot to kiss me goodnight.”  In the midst of all the good night hugs and cuddles, I have inadvertently forgotten your goodnight kiss!  Shame on me.
What excuses does your toddler use to delay bedtime?  Share your best excuses with us.  We'd love to laugh (cry?) along with you!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Thanksgiving Advent Calendar

I know we keep coming back to this, but compassion and empathy are so important in the development of our kids, so we decided to capitalize on an upcoming holiday to try out a fun activity.  The return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte (drools) means that Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I thought I'd get ahead of the game by prepping a cute idea I saw floating around to make an advent calendar for Thanksgiving.  It gives your kids a daily opportunity to write down something they're thankful for, or to perform a random act of kindness for someone!  We're all about helping our kids develop emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion, so this was right up our alley.  A thankful attitude can also help combat or replace a complaining attitude, and we could all do with a little less whining from our littles, am I right?!

I came up with my own design for this calendar, and was really tempted to make a ridiculously complicated felt version, but decided not to feed the crazy and opted for a simple paper one. The nice thing about this craft/activity is that you can personalize it for your family, your child's age, and for any season (not just Thanksgiving!).  I'll explain the materials and method I used to make ours, but you'll see that it's super-customizable.

It's also fun to get your kids involved in helping make this calendar!  I had good intentions and printed out some number outlines for my toddler to color in.  I somehow forgot to limit the marker colors she could use and I eventually decided not to use them.  I'm hoping she doesn't remember ever coloring them.  My inner craft control freak just couldn't deal with the green and purple.  Don't be like me.  Let your kids participate.

  • 1 piece bristol or poster board (22" x 28") 
  • at least 1 sheet scrapbook paper in your favourite pattern
  • 12 Project Life cards/index cards/pieces of paper cut to fit into pockets
  • glue
  • scissors
  • markers or stickers for writing a title
  • number stickers for each pocket, or number printouts
  • list of ideas for random acts of kindness
  • date stamp (optional)
Tip!  If you're feeling super-crafty, make this calendar out of felt so it's more durable for annual use!

  1. Decide how many days of Thanksgiving advent you'd like to do.  I decided on 12 days so that I could start on the 1st and go right up to Thanksgiving (we're celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving).  American Thanksgiving is on the 26th, so you could do 26 days if you want!
  2. Sketch out your layout to give yourself enough room for 12 pockets.  I decided to be festive and use a leaf shape.
  3. Cut 12 pieces of scrapbook paper to 2" x 3.5" to make your pockets.

  4. Arrange them on your bristol board making sure to leave room for a title and the card inserts to stick out.  Once you're happy with the layout, run a thin line of glue or other adhesive along 3 edges of the pocket.  Adhere each pocket to the bristol board.
  5. Choose some Project Life cards to put in the pockets.  If you're using index cards or paper, cut them to 3" x 4" to fit in the pockets.  Leave some cards blank or choose one of the kindness ideas below and write it on a card.
  6. Each day, your child can take out the card for the day and either write/draw something (or have you write it for them) on the blank ones, or perform the listed activity. 
  7. Tip! Draw a picture for each random act of kindness so that your toddler can figure out what it is without being able to read it.
  8. You can decorate this calendar as much as you want!  I found cute felt leaf stickers at the dollar store and forgot to use them, but I'm sure they'd look adorable.  I did remember to punch some fancy tag shapes to write my numbers on!  You can write your family name to personalize it and cut the calendar into fun fall shapes...anything goes, because it's your calendar!

Tip!  Date stamp your cards so that you can keep them and either add to them in the following years, or use them in a Project Life layout!

Some Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
  • Write a kind note/thank you note to a teacher, friend, or other caregiver, or participate together in the More Love Letters movement
  • Bake cookies for your neighbour or help them with a chore (raking leaves, cutting grass)
  • Smile at someone new
  • Give away some books or toys that you don't use anymore
  • Donate clothes to others who need them
  • Say something nice to/compliment your friend
  • Hand out food to the homeless in your city
  • Volunteer at your local food bank, and donate food while you're at it!
  • Do extra chores at home
  • Pick or buy some flowers and give them away
  • Open the door for someone
  • Push someone on the swing at the park
  • Make a new friend at your play group
  • Invite someone new to Thanksgiving dinner with your family
  • See our post on the Five Love Languages for other ideas on how to show love!
I'm hoping that we can make this Thanksgiving season more meaningful in our family, and start up a new tradition. Let's use this season, or any, to teach your children about giving thanks and showing kindness to others.  Be sure to share your ideas for getting your kids to be more thankful and kind!  Our threenagers can use all the help they can get!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

DIY Personalized Birthday Sign

birthday sign
You have probably seen these cute posters everywhere...Etsy, Pinterest, on your Facebook newsfeed. They make a fun birthday sign and keepsake. I wanted to get one for my son's first birthday but really didn't feel like paying someone to do it. A mommy friend (thanks Stacey!) told me all about Canva, a super user-friendly graphic design software that is available online and free (unless you choose to upgrade to fancier options). I tried it out and I'm totally Canva obsessed. You can easily whip up professional looking party invitations, posters and anything else your little crafty heart desires. Okay, enough gushing about Canva, let's move onto the tutorial!
  1. Before you start, think of a colour scheme and theme. I chose light turquoise/red/white with a black background and a "little man" moustache theme.
  2. Log onto Canva's website.
  3. Select poster.
    diy birthday sign
  4. Select your background colour. Black or dark gray works great for these kinds of posters (the text really pops).
    diy birthday sign
  5. Click on text. Here you can choose a wide variety of different fun text designs to add in. You can easily change the colour, size and font of the text. Scroll down to get some ideas for content to add in!
    diy birthday sign
  6. Click on search and frames if you want to add in a photo. You can select from a wide range of photo frames to display your little one's picture. Once you have selected your frame, click on upload your own to enter your photo into your frame.
    diy birthday sign
  7. Click on search and illustrations/shapes/photos and type in the name of any images you are looking for. You can also download your own by clicking on upload.
    diy birthday sign
    diy birthday sign

  8. This is the trickiest part! You will need to fit in all your font/images/photos like a puzzle.  If you aren't feeling particularly creative, feel free to copy our sign!
  9. Download your image as a pdf for print and save it onto your computer. I used Vistaprint during a 50% off sale to print this sign. I heard Costco is also a great place to have posters printed for great prices. Don't forget to print an extra 8x10 image to put in your child's scrapbook or photo album!
  10. I found it easiest to display the sign by mounting it onto foam board. You can buy foam board cheap at the dollar store. Cover the foam board with colour coordinating wrapping paper and then stick the poster on top for a really fun birthday sign!
diy birthday sign
How cute is this red and white polka-dot wrapping paper!

Here are some ideas for content to include in your sign:
  • Favourite toy/object, food, song, activity etc.
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Number of teeth
  • Date of firsts- sitting up, crawling, walking etc.
  • Best friends
  • Nicknames
  • First words
  • "I know how to____ (feed myself, roll a ball, blow kisses, give high fives etc.)"
  • For older kids- "I know how to ____ (count to 10, sing my ABC's etc.)", "I want to be a ____ when I grow up"
diy birthday sign

Have you ever made a personalized birthday sign? Please feel free to share with us below so we can get some fresh ideas for future birthdays! Hope you enjoy Canva as much as we do!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Stealthy Veggies | Turkey Meatballs

Is your child a picky eater?  Does the sight of a cruciferous veggie make him gag?  Why oh why do so many children have an aversion to all foods green?!  In a perfect world, kids would love to eat the healthiest of veggies, but that's just crazy talk, so here we go with our next series!  We'll be featuring recipes with different vegetables hidden inside.

Today, we have a recipe for tender turkey meatballs with onion, zucchini and carrots "hidden" inside.  I say "hidden", because you can see them, but you can't really taste them.  Maybe you can blindfold your child if they really protest the consumption of colourful veggies?  This recipe is based on Jessica Alba's recipe, but I half the recipe, substitute oats for the bread crumbs and am a little looser with the veggie measurements!  These are super-soft and they never last long in our house.  #veggiewin!

Let's get stealthy!

Ingredients (makes approx. 32 meatballs):
  • 1 lb (454 g) lean ground turkey
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ground quick oats (I run this quickly through my Magic Bullet to get more of an oat flour, but be warned, the flour makes the meatballs almost too smooth), or 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp favourite seasoning like oregano, Italian, parsley etc. (this is completely optional!)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • some oil for frying (or none if you're using non-stick), or omit this if you're baking
Tip!  To get rid of the salt in this recipe, omit the salt and substitute water for the chicken stock.  My 10-month-old loves these, and they're always soft enough for him to gum (where are his teeth, seriously?!). 

  1. Grate your onion, zucchini and carrot into a bowl.  You can also chop them finely by hand, but I just find grating them infinitely faster.

  2. Mix in all the other ingredients except for the chicken stock.  I usually just use my hand.  If your mixture seems very wet, add in some more breadcrumbs.

  3. Roll meatballs around 1 inch big.

  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and place meatballs in to brown, turning frequently.  This takes about 5-7 minutes.

  5. Add in chicken stock, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Cook until all the liquid is absorbed.
Tip!  If you want to make this even easier, bake your turkey meatballs on parchment.  Bake them at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Tip!  To get even more veggies into your child, put these meatballs into a tomato sauce that includes veggie puree (or finely chopped vegetables).

Hope your whole family enjoys consuming more veggies through this recipe!  How do you get your vegetables undercover?  We're always looking for new recipes, so please share them with us below!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Choosing a Professional Family Photographer

choosing a professional photographer
We are pretty excited to feature our first guest post! Okay, it just happens to be one of our husbands who wrote this post and we may have coerced him into doing it! There are so many professional photographers out there and it can be a pretty daunting task searching for the right one to capture your beautiful memories. Here are some useful tips to help you find the right photographer:

I’m asked time and time again to check out a photographer’s website to give my opinion about both the quality and price of their work.  Unfortunately,  with invention of the affordable modern DSLR everyone is now a “photographer”  (See for a good chuckle).  Finding a good photographer that matches both your style and price range is no easy task.  It takes time and patience!
choosing a professional photographer
Here are a few tips I’ve assembled to help people navigate through the glut of photographers you'll sift through:
I) No website?  Still shooting film? Yikes. Move on.
II) Not all photographers are necessarily children's photographers. Photographing children takes time, patience, improvisation and taking thousands upon thousands of photos to ensure there are at least a few photos where everyone is not tearing each other apart.  If the photographer you are interested in does not have experience shooting children, move on.
III) Ask to see an entire photo shoot.  A lot of photographers will only display their best work of one or two photos from every shoot.  You should probably ask yourself, “What do the other photos look like?”  Anyone can get lucky with a few photos.  If the photographer will not show you an entire shoot, move on.
IV) Your photos are your photos!  Don’t pay twice.  It still vexes me as to why photographers ask you to pay to print your photos after you have already paid for them once…well actually, I know the answer: they want to squeeze more money out of you.  Photographers like to sell you prints at egregious markups by telling you their prints are superior in quality to the ones you print yourself.  This is not true.  I will not use or suggest a photographer to anyone unless they give their clients full resolution digital copies of their photos.  Repeat after me,  “I would like full resolution digital copies of my photos on a DVD”.  Negotiate this before you agree to sign-up for anything.  If they insist that you must buy your photos from them (the photos you already paid for once!), move on!
V)  The photographer you talk to should be the photographer that photographs you.  In the age of unpaid interns, the photography profession is no exception.  You are not paying top dollar (and painfully getting your kids ready for hours) for a student to show up at your house with a Canon Rebel and a pop-up flash (no offense intended, Canon Rebels are good cameras for enthusiasts).  Photography takes hundreds of hours of practice and thousands of dollars worth of equipment.  Ask your photographer,  “Will you be the one photographing us?”  If not, move on!
choosing a professional photographer
Chances are you are only going to have professional photos of your children done a handful of times in your life, so don't settle for anything but the best!
choosing a professional photographer
We hope these tips help you narrow down your choices and help you capture those priceless memories of your little ones!  If you have any other tips, feel free to share them below! 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Best Back to School Tips

school supplies
It's either the best time of year, or the worst, depending on your perspective.  That's right, the kids are heading back to school!  Before the squeals of glee or tears of dread escape, we've scoured the interwebs for the best tips on managing the craziness of the first week.
  1. Collect some healthy and quick lunch and snack ideas. There are tons of great nut-free ideas on the internet!
    bento idea

    Cute bento
  2. Figure out your morning plan. Mornings are the worst if you are not organized! Plan to get everything organized the night before to make your mornings less stressful. Choose outfits, pack lunches/backpacks, and plan breakfast the night before. Have your keys, wallet, cell phone etc. ready by the door so you're not stranded searching for important items right before you have to leave. I have a bin where I keep "important" items I don't want to forget on a table near my front door.  I especially love the idea of setting up a "family launch pad" to really organize those hectic mornings!
  3. Start adjusting your family schedule now (if you haven't already).  Children thrive on routine, and starting a predictable schedule during the summer can help ease them into the school year.  This is the time to adjust bedtime so they're getting to sleep early enough to get up in the mornings!  It might mean cutting back on some evening activities, but it'll be worth it when you don't have gremlins in the morning!
  4. If your child is starting at a new school, see if you can go in early to meet the teacher and get a tour of the school. If you are unsure, make sure you call ahead to find out exactly what documentation is needed (i.e. immunization records).
  5. Practice compassion and emotional intelligence at home, to prep for school interactions. Sadly, bullying is a common occurrence in schools today. Try out some of our tips, and get a conversation started with your kids!
    back to school photo
    Obviously super excited about starting school.  Or about her mother making her pose for a photo.
  6. Shop and prep school supplies and labels. This was always my favourite thing to do as a kid...and even now! If you are on a budget, dollar stores are a great place to buy everything you need (yay for Dollarama!).  Get your kids involved so they're more invested in taking care of their supplies!
    school supplies
  7. Take your annual photo to commemorate the year.  There are lots of cute ideas out there! If you want to keep it simple, just have your kid hold up a sign with the grade they are starting.
    First day of school photo
    Tip!  Have your child hold up a blank piece of paper and add the text in after!
  8. Make up a fun tradition to start the year. Maybe a family trip to the local ice cream shop to celebrate the first day of school? 
  9. Organize your space. Plan to post a large family calender in a visible location so you can track activities/events easily. Make sure to update it regularly and plan to review it daily so you know exactly what is going on (you don't want to be that parent that forgot to send in the field trip form, do you?). Set up a homework station with accessible school supplies and carve out a time each day to review what your kids did in school (it's also a great way to keep the lines of communication open). Keep backpacks, lunch boxes/containers in the same location so you are not wildly searching for things.
  10. Remind children of traffic and bus safety. Review schoolbus safety including use of seat belts, crossing the street safely, and the names of people who are allowed to pick them up from school etc.
    street safety
Hope the back the school transition goes smoothly for everyone and good luck to all those mamas who have little ones starting kindergarten! We will be in the same boat next year...yikes!

What are your best tips for prepping for back to school?  Let us know so we can start preparing ourselves now!
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