Think Twice on How Your Phone Usage is Perceived!

Phone Use…How is it Being Interpreted?

Growing up, my dad would sit at the dining room table, reading the paper and having his breakfast, usually a glass of orange juice and peanut butter toast. As I got older, I became more involved. We would talk about some of the stories, I would steal the comic section. I’d peek over his shoulder and read the headlines or sometimes just steal a whole section! It was a typical thing during my childhood, seeing an adult sitting at the table reading a paper. But nobody does it anymore. Now people read the news on their phones. I’ve mentioned before, that we have a no phone rule at the table, so where do you draw the line…no phones at the table period? Try to explain the difference of content to our young child and how videos and Elmo’s alphabet game aren’t allowed but what mommy does is, it feels hypocritical.


To avoid having my phone out at breakfast, I usually try to have a morning coffee and catch up on Social Media and news later in the morning if we’re at home. I might be at the table or I might be on the couch. Either way, if I have my phone or iPad out, my son will compete for my attention. If I’m cleaning up the kitchen, he’s usually happy to play on his own, but not when I’m using technology. This makes me feel guilty about using technology around him, which, at the end of the day, parents need to do.

When we’re searching for preschools, we’re looking online, not reading a dozen pamphlets. Enrolling children in activities is now done online. When we’re shopping, we’re looking at a website, not flyers or catalogues. If our child is sick, we don’t get out our “Dr. Mom Encyclopedia”, we go to medical sites. But how can we differentiate sitting around on our phone, killing time texting and Facebooking over actually doing regular, daily tasks that are now done online. More importantly, how can we demonstrate that to our children???

I think I’m old fashion and when I see someone on a phone or tablet, I automatically think texting or “playing”, errands and must dos and errands don’t usually come to mind, although I use my phone for these things all the time!

A perfect example of this is church. If you attend church, look around your congregation and note how many people follow along with an actual Bible and how many people use a Bible App! The other week I looked around and it actually appeared as though people had tuned the pastor out and were playing on their phones! Of course they weren’t, they were following along, but again, it’s my old school perception of phones.

So what’s the answer??? …I wish I had it! As you know, I try to limit my use of technology around my son as much as I can because I know he picks up on it, but at the end of the day, I have stuff I need to do…for my son…which needs to be done on a computer or tablet and unfortunately, with him napping less and less I’m not able to limit these “technology errands” to nap time.

I try to tell me son what I’m doing…”mommy’s shopping” and he can sit on my lap at the computer and we talk about all the things we see in the pictures…which makes it a very slow process but at least he understands and is involved. I still put him first and if he asks me to play, I tell him what I’m doing and explain I will play when I’m finished (but of course he doesn’t always want to wait!). I don’t do these things while we’re out besides bringing up an online flyer for a price match or something quick. But unfortunately, I don’t know the answer, I don’t know how to set an example for my son to not always have a piece of technology on hand when that is the way of the world. I guess, like everything else, the key is to be mindful and aware of our actions.

White Chocolate & Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies…yum!

This morning, my son and I decided to bake some cookies. They were nothing fancy, just the recipe from the back of the Ocean Spray Cranberries…but we added out own little twist!

Ocean Spray Cranberries

We washed our hands, put on our aprons and I got all the ingredients ready while my son brought his stool over. We started by creaming the sugar and butter. I measured the sugar and my son poured it into the bowl. He knows to keep back when the mixer is on and we had a little taste before I added the eggs! We mixed all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl which again, I measured out and my son dumped in before stirring it all together. 

Here, we added some cinnamon which isn’t in the original recipe!

Scoop by scoop, my son added all the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl while we took breaks to gradually mix it all together. We both measured (and tasted) the cranberries and chocolate as we added it to the mix. I let my son help measure here because when was too much chocolate or cranberries a bad thing?!?!

I gave my son a spoon to help place spoonfuls on the cookie sheet but he wasn’t able to do it and decided to snack on some more cranberries while I did that on my own.

The cookies only take 10 minutes to bake so during that time, I cut my son off from the cranberries and sent him to play while I cleaned up the kitchen. Once the cookies were ready and cooled, we sat down with a cup of coffee and a glass of milk and enjoyed a plate of freshly baked cookies for our morning snack!

Freshly Baked Cookies White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Recipe (from Ocean Spray but with a Twist!)

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 brown sugar
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup of white chocolate chunks or chips
  • we added 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Such a great tradition for my family to share each Christmas!

How to Make The Ultimate Advent Calendar!

Growing up, my grandparents would mail us advent calendars from the UK. Customs wouldn’t allow chocolate so we got the simple paper flap ones. My grandparents were limited to what they could send us and it was a tradition, but I was always envious of my friends who got a chocolate each day counting down to Christmas or had a more elaborate one. So I wanted my son to have the most amazing Advent Calendar I could think of!!! I made it last year and at 18 months, he enjoyed sticking the decorations on the tree and playing with them. As planned, I completed the other levels of the calendar for this year, now that he’s old enough to enjoy them. Here it is, start to finish!!!

What you will need:

  • A meter of green felt.
  • 1 1/2 meters of white felt (I used a heavy felt so it wouldn’t curl up and I want it to last for years!).
  • Brown felt for the tree stump.
  • White felt for the back of the letter pieces.
  • A variety of colours of felt to make ornaments, pouches, number tags, etc.
  • Rough Velcro (you can buy this on its own by the metre at Fabricland)…enough for 48 squares.
  • Computer, printer, laminating sheets (you can get self laminating sheets at Dollarama if you don’t have access to a laminator).
  • 2 wood dowels, 1/2″ in thickness and 3 feet long
  • Sewing machine and thread matching the colours of your felt.
  • Just over 3ft of twine or rope to hang with.
  • Number stencil if you can’t draw numbers free hand.

I started with some heavy, thick white felt for the background. 3ft wide and 49″ long. I made 2 button holes on the top approximately 3 inches from the sides and 1 3/4 inches from the top (make sure they’ve aligned).

Button Holes

After sewing and cutting the button holes I folded the felt over and sewed it so there was a big enough gap to slide a dowel in. I didn’t slide the dowel in until I was finished so I could maneuver the felt in the sewing machine.

I also folded 1 1/2″ of felt at the bottom and sewed it, leaving a gap for a dowel at the bottom to prevent the advent calendar from rolling up.

From there, I drew and cut out a tree from the green felt so I knew how big to make my ornaments to all fit nicely in the Christmas tree. My tree measures approximately 30.5″ tall and 28″ wide.

From there, I did the fun part, I chose and designed my 24 felt decorations for my son to add to the tree each day leading up to Christmas. If you search for “free felt ornament pattern” in Google or Pinterest you will find 100s! Be sure to add a small square of velcro on the back of each ornament before sewing it together.

After making your ornaments, cut out 24 pieces of different coloured felt for your pouches. 4″ tall and 4 1/2″ wide. Lay your tree and pouches on the felt to see where you want to position them and sew the pouches on, obviously leaving the top open and with a bit of give so your child can put the ornaments and cards in and out with ease.

How to Make an Advent Calendar

I hand stitched my tree on because I wanted the look of big stitches (that’s true love because I hate hand sewing things!!) but you can easily use your machine to sew the stump and tree on.

Now for the numbers pieces. I used a number stencil so they would all be uniform. I traced all the numbers i needed and cut them out. Then I cut out the pieces of felt, 24 white pieces and a variety of colours. Each piece was 2 1/2″ wide and 2″ tall.

I sewed the numbers on the coloured pieces and velcro squares on the white pieces and then sewed the pieces together.

There is it, the felt part of the Advent Calendar is complete! Now for the next levels.

Scripture and Activity Cards

I wrote my own verses for each sheet with the help of some online examples but and here they are if you would like to print them! advent scripture.

Print your scriptures off and then place paper back in printer so your activities will print on opposite side of paper. Here are the Advent Activities I used that will align with the scripture.

Cut out the squares and laminate each one or place in the self laminating sheets.

The Ultimate Advent Calendar with detailed instructions and free printables

Tie the twine around one end of a dowel and slide through the top. Pull the twine through the button holes and ties it to the other end by pulling the dowel out a bit at the other end. Push the other dowel through at the bottom.

Each year, on November 30th, your child can choose where each number goes on the pouches. Match the number on the scripture sheet to each pouch number and place inside. Choose which ornament goes in which pouch (I like the star to go in 24).

Each day after that, your child can search for the correct number pouch and pull out the ornament inside and choose where to place it on the tree. Together you can read the scripture and talk about the true meaning of Christmas and then plan to do the activity on the other side together as a family. I’m am so excited to carry this tradition on with my son this year!

The Ultimate Advent Calendar with detailed instructions and free printables

If you are going to make this Ultimate Advent Calendar, make sure you give yourself enough time to make each ornament, depending on how detailed you want them, they can take some time!

Lots of Great Ideas to Encourage Fine Motor Skills while learning about Autumn!

Autumn Themed Activities for Toddlers

Last year I was really good at putting out different themed/seasonal activities for my son, but lately I’ve kind of dropped the ball. I decided to step up my game because I know my kiddo loved it before. 

SFall Themed Sensory Tableensory Table

I started with a sensory table with popcorn seeds which he’s had in the past and enjoyed but this time I spiced it up a little. I got the idea to dye the popcorn seeds fall colours off of Pinterest which turned out great! It was so easy, some popcorn seeds in a bag with a drop of hand sanitizer and food colouring! Like my last post of a sensory table, remember to put the seeds in a deep tray or container and an old sheet or shower curtain underneath because these babies can bounce and they’re not fun to clean up. This activity also works great with dyed rice! Put some tractors, toy rakes, farm animals and other fall toys and scoops in and let your child’s imagination run wild!

Talk about farming and harvesting. Practice scooping and pouring with different sized spoons and measuring cups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paint with Corn

I decided to do this activity with my son when I didn’t have any actual corn in the house but he has a toy plastic corn on the cob which we used instead. I felt this was better as corn on the cob is one of my son’s favourite foods and I was worried he might try to eat the paint covered corn. I do plan on trying it though, but I’ll be ready to grab the corn at any sign of salivating!

I put some red and yellow paint in a small container that my son can dip the corn in and I demonstrated how to roll it on he paper. He preferred stamping the corn which still had a cool puppy look.

Paint with Corn...Fall Activities

Pipe Cleaner & Button Tree

Wrap 3 brown pipe cleaners together to make a tree and give your child some large, fall coloured button or beads to put on the tree branches. Talk about the colours, how leaves change colour and fall off for winter, etc. (my son preferred the beads).

Pipe Cleaner Tree...Fine Motor Skills 

Fall Scented Playdough

There are a few recipes on Pinterest that are actually edible but I personally think that is too confusing for a child, one moment having Playdough they can eat and other times not so I personally recommend sticking to homemade, nontoxic Playdough that ain’t allowed near the mouth.

Here’s the Playdough recipe I like to use. Use fall coloured food colouring and scents, my favourites are:

  • brown with cinammon
  • Orange with pumkin pie spice (Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice) or for a gluten free option check out this recipe!
  • Red cranberry…instead of Playdough check out this recipe using cranberry sauce and cornstarch, it’s also gluten free!

Fall Play Dough...Smells like Pumpkin Pie!

Seasonal Bin

Find stuff around your house or head to the Dollar Store! Here’s what we have in our bin!

  • finger puppets
  • Halloween whistles
  • a skeleton
  • a pompom pumpkin
  • red and orange drink lids
  • jack-o-lantern pieces to use in play dough
  • an owl cookie cutter to use in play dough

Season Sensory Bin

I finally sat down and wrote a love letter to my son for him to read when he's older. I tell him all my favourite things about him and what I think makes him so special at this age.

A Love Letter to My Son ❤️

Last night I wrote a love letter to my son. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and for some reason or another, never got around to actually writing it.

I finally sat down and wrote a letter for my son to read when he's older, it was just what I needed after a long day of fighting with a stubborn two year old, reflecting on all the positive things I love about him!

I’m so glad I finally wrote it! I’m not always great at remembering to enter all his milestones in his baby book and even when I am it doesn’t cover everything, I worry that years from now I will forget all the special little things that make my little boy who he is right now. So now, as of September 1, 2015, I have it in writing, some of my favourite things about him. I also think it will be cool for him to read it when he’s older and laugh about how he gets his dance moves from his daddy and loves to sing.

This letter also covers my irrational, morbid fear of dying and not being there as he grows up, this way, heaven forbid anything happens, he will have a letter to read from me when he’s older. It’s in my handwriting and is sealed and dated for him to open when he’s older. I hope to do this every couple of years to have as a keepsake of my memories and something special between us.

Although I’ve been meaning to write this for months, I think I chose the perfect time to write it. As my son has dived right into the terrible twos, I find myself getting more and more frustrated with him. Some days, everything seems to be a drawn out fight. It was so nice to sit down with a pen and paper after he’d gone to bed and just reflect on everything I love about him and what makes him so special. It was a perfect ending to a long and stressful day, ending everything on a positive, loving note. I highly recommend you taking 10 minutes out of your evening and writing a love letter to your son or daughter.

A Week of Second Hand Smoke…What We Did to Keep Busy Indoors

I have been trapped inside for nearly a week with my son. Not only has our air been tainted by our southern and western neighbours (by no fault of their own!) to make it unsafe for my son and I to spend any significant amount of time outside, but my son has also been suffering with Roseola, a contagious fever and rash.

So here we are, we can’t go outside because of the smoke and everything indoors out of the house that is fun for my son involves other kids, which would expose them to Roseola, a contagious disease. So here I am, a responsible parent, locking my son and I inside our home, with clean air and not spreading his disease to other innocent children…I’m going stir crazy.

Being Stuck Indoors Due to Forest Fires
We went to superstore yesterday! It was so nice to get out of the house. Don’t get me wrong, I shouldn’t complain, my parents house swapped with us on Wednesday night, they stayed with our kiddo and pooches while we had a night out on the town…dinner and the Lion King, ending it off at their condo so we could sleep in…parents/grandparents of the year!  So technically I can’t complain because I did get an amazing break. But I still go out with my son everyday and we usually spend hours outside so even a break in a week of being trapped in our four walls still makes us both feel a little claustrophobic.

Due to forest fires in the U.S.A.and B.C., we have had no blue sky, no visibility and no quality of air since last weekend. When we go outside, it smells like we’re around a bonfire, only there’s no marshmallows. My poor kiddo doesn’t understand and just wants to play in his sandbox for countless hours.

Days can be long when you can't go out, here are some ideas to help you through them!
So here’s what we’ve been doing to keep busy while we’re trapped indoors (and some other great ideas too!):

  1. Play with Playdough.
  2. Paint.
  3. Build Lego block towers.
  4. Early on in the week, while stress levels are low, bring out some pots and pans and play some music!
  5. Explore new games such as Jenga and building towers or dominoe lines with them and knocking them over.
  6. Have a dance party to Raffi or your child’s favourite music.
  7. Build a Fort out of blankets.
  8. Read Books.
  9. Get some pipecleaners and a milk crate or clothes basket and make a game out of working on your child’s fine motor skills!
  10. Cook.
  11. Have a PhotoShoot and get some fun, recent shots of your kiddos!
  12. Bake.
  13. Get an old Box and make a Box Fort and decorate it.
  14. Make a car track with painter’s tape on your floor.
  15. Make your own Water Table.
  16. Play Dress Up! …old Halloween Costumes, Hats, Scarves, etc.
  17. Put down your To Do List and take advantage of the opportunity to spend quality time with your kiddo(s)!
  18. Do a Puzzle.
  19. Crafts…I let my son use my dull, squiggly craft scissors, he loves stamping, there are endless craft ideas on Pinterest!
  20. Create your own Sensory Table for your child to explore.
  21. Do some housework…and get the kids involved!
  22. Watch a movie.
  23. If your child is healthy and you’ve been considering potty training, a week when you’re stuck in the house is the best time to do it!

Now those of you who know me or regularly read this blog, know I never suggest t.v. for young kid does but at the beginning of the week when my son was feverish and lethargic, we watched a movie and cuddled on the couch, because that’s what we do when we’re sick.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you can make the best of being stuck in the house, whatever the reason!

30 FREE things to do in and around Calgary

30 FREE Things to Do with Your Kiddos In & Around Calgary

30 FREE Things to Do IN & AROUND CALGARY!
Summer is almost over, we’ve been lucky to have some great weather but there’s still a few weeks left before you send the kiddos back to Daycare, Preschool or School. Here are some great things you can do in or around Calgary, Alberta that won’t cost you a thing!

  1. Spend a morning at a Playground…there are SO many around the city, branch out from your local one!
  2. Cool off in a Splash Park…you don’t have to be a community members for a number of them such as Okotoks, Valleyview Regional Park, etc.
  3. Take a short drive south to the Saskatoon Farm…there is a nice short walk looking over the valley, you can walk around the grounds and check out all the different plants and there’s a small farm where the kids can watch the chickens, turkeys, rabbits and pig.
  4. Drive out to the mountains and go on a child friendly hike in the Rockies.
  5. SouthCentre Mall’s new ROAR Play Park.
  6. Go for a walk or bike ride in Fish Creek Park.
  7. Pack a picnic and head to Edward H. Laborde Airplane Watching Area or Prairie Winds Park to watch the planes land and take off near the airport.
  8. Head downtown to the Devonian Gardens…listen to a talented musician playing the grand piano, watch the fish or play on the indoor playground.
  9. Take a free ride on the CTrain in the FreeZone downtown.
  10. Go for a swim at Sikome Lake in Fish Creek Park.
  11. Check out the stables at Spruce Meadows.
  12. Go to Canada Olympic Park…sit in the Jamaican bobsled and watch a real bobsled go down the track starting at 1pm.
  13. Register for a free tour of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.
  14. Go for a walk through Nose Hill Park.
  15. Watch a 45 minute demonstration at the R.C.M.P. Dog Training Centre every Wednesday afternoon at 2pm. (Location: Take Exit 365 off Hwy 2 at Innisfail, travel east and follow the signs.)
  16. Check out Readers Rock Garden.
  17. Register at http://www.kidsbowlfree.com for 2 free bowling games for your kiddos!
  18. If you have your own rod (with a barbless hook) you can catch and release trout at Bow Habitat Station Trout Pond. $5 to rent a rod.
  19. Take advantage of the free workshops offered at local hardware stores such Home Depot or Lowes.
  20. Drive out to the Big Rock just south of Okotoks and explore this erratic that gave Okotoks it’s name.
  21. Head down to Chinook Honey Farm…parents sample some mead and the cute gift shop while the kids explore the hive and search for the queen bee.
  22. Go for a swim in the Bow at Sandy Beach.
  23. Walk around a pet store and see all the different animals.
  24. Explore Princes Island.
  25. Pack a picnic and check out some of the amazing parks that Calgary has to offer.
  26. Splash around in one of Calgary’s wading pools.
  27. Spend some time at Edworthy Park, Shillington Crescent Park or Lions Park playing on the playgrounds and watching the trains that routinely pass by.
  28. Visit a library and read some new books or take advantage of the free programs that they offer.
  29. Check out the cool trains and learn about Canada’s grain industry at the Grain Academy & Museum.
  30. Spend a morning in North Glenmore Park and watch the variety of boats on the reservoir or take a walk (partially) around the reservoir.