Balancing the “Magic” and “Magestic” of Christmas with Kids

I have often been asked how we handle the concept of Santa in our home. The reality is that up until this year it was not much of a discussion point. We focused on Christmas as Jesus’ birthday and although my dad dresses up as Santa for the children, we have not really spent time speaking about Santa. This year, the twins are 5, and the questions have begun.

“Is Santa real?”

“How does Santa get across the whole earth in one night?”

“How does Santa find what everyone wants?”

“is Santa always watching me?”

The list goes on and on.

I had thought a lot about how we would handle this when the time came, but in the end I wasn’t really prepared. I found myself unable to lie to my children but also not wanting to take away from the “pretend and play” that is so important in childhood.

So, in the end, we have found balance….time in the “magical pretend” and time speaking about our Magestic Lord.

We have asked what is on their wish list…they each get to pick one thing to ask for. We had fun writing letters to Santa for the first time this year too. But we acknowledge that it is part of pretend play and they do not need to be concerned that a random man is “watching them” to see if they are good or bad. And what is fascinating to me about this is that they have not asked where the gifts come from since Santa is pretend. They just go with it and have found it all to be very fun.

Within our conversation about gifts, we also talk about the greatest gift of all…baby Jesus. We talk about how we give gifts as a reminder of the gift of His birth and love and also in celebration of his birthday. We have always had a Birthday cake on Christmas as part of the dessert selections and we will do so again this year. We sing happy birthday to the King of All Kings and it is a true celebration.

We also have focused on that fact that it doesn’t matter if we are “good or bad” for God…He will always love and accept us.

This is not meant to be persuasive or seen as passing judgement for doing things in any other way. It is just to simply say that this is how we have chosen to do things in our home. And I would encourage you to always be true to what you feel is best for your family in this and all situations that arise. It is my hope that we are models to this next generation of people who love and accept rather than judge and tear down. If you have other ideas, comments, or are willing to share what you do in your home, I would truly love to hear them below.

Thanks for reading.  And in case you are wondering…the gorgeous Jord Reese Watch is pictured on my wrist in the photo above. You can get 25% off your own via the link: https://www.woodwatches.com/g/motherhoodandmeals until December 12th, 2017.

 

 

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Small Shop Gift Guide

Last week I shared my SMALL SHOP STOCKING STUFFER GUIDE  This week I want to share some latger small shop products that I know you and your little ones would love

1.The LITTLE PARTNERS LEARNING TOWER will give the gift of joy for you and your children all year long! It is an incredible means for getting kids involved in the kitchen which has been proven to help increase their interest in food. It is also great for craft time and for homeschooling through experience and conversation. For my full review as well as locations to purchase it with in Canada, click here.

2. The MIFOLD BOOSTER SEAT gives your child a more independent and “big kid” feel in the car while creating space and ease for you. For my full review of this innovative option for booster seats, you can look here.

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3. Travelling this holiday season? Pulling out a brand new REGALO TOT COT could be a neat way to announce the trip or surprise your child when you arrive. I think pairing with a new pair of Christmas pajamas would be a neat touch too! We love to travel to see family but we have grown tired of taking play yards, blow up mattresses, and bedding in tow everywhere we go. The REGALO TOT COT came in super handy this year and relieved us from the extra hauling. Not only that but the kids absolutely love them. They call them their travel beds and sometimes ask to hang out in them for weekend quiet time at home! You can find more information on our experience with them working this post from the summer.

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4. We have been using our PLANET BOXES for a few years now and the twins love them. They like to help me pack them. They find them easy to open. And they enjoy seeing all food options at once to be able to go back and forth between foods instead of choosing one container at a time. I like that they are super easy to pack and clean. They cut down on our use of packaged foods. And they offer a variety of food colours, textures, and flavors all at one sitting. We purchased two Rovers a few years ago and that is what is pictured here. This is Clay’s and has a “no dairy” label from Mabel’s Labels in it since he is allergic to milk. MABELS LABELS personalized name labels would be a cool “bow” on top of a wrapped Planet Box. I also mentioned these in my Stocking Stuffer Guide.

 

5. DYLBUG PERSONALIZED PLATES are a perfect way to make your child feel special at meal time while also inspiring creativity with food and boldness to try new things. This is a wonderful approach to eating and establishing a good relationship with food and meal time. The alphabet series takes learning during meal time to a whole new level. We love to use our “L is for LION” plate at LUNCH time. See what I did there 😉😉

6. I fell in love with the look of OS AND OAKES shirts and beanies the first time I saw them but it wasn’t until I felt the quality that I wanted to overhaul my entire children’s wardrobe with this line. My boys love the little ostrich on the back and the slogan “catch me if you can” will make any child’s eyes light up. Honestly moms, this is a clothing line worth investing in!

6. A VEGGIE BUDS CLUB SUBSCRIPTION would be a great gift that gives all year long. Each box is full of recipes and activities to do with your children. It is a subtle and fun way to engage your child more with foods that they are less familiar with. This past month Rhett and I had a wonderful time making the Broccoli Nuggets from the November Broccoli Kit on a few occasions.

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8. Learning can be so fun when the approach is creative. Use of the KINDERGARTEN TOOL KIT has supported incredibly fun learning in our home for a long time. From letters to site words to numbers to shapes…this tool kit has it all! My older boys love using the white board, marker, and eraser for fun “spelling bees” and math games while Rhett likes to find shapes in the house that match the shape flash cards. We also love to use the letter cards when we bake to make our kitchen time learning time too.

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There are many other wonderful shops that I would like to highlight, but I will stop here for now. I hope this has given you some ideas for your little ones of gifts that will be useful for you and exciting for them at the same time while supporting a mom entrepreneur. Later this week I will be sharing my “Expectant/New Mom Gift Guide” and next week you can watch for “This Mama’s Favourite Things”.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Balance Between “the Cookies and the Carrots” of the Holiday Season

I am often asked how I handle holiday treats with my children so I decided a post was in order. The reality is that my main goal to create a healthy relationship for my children with food. So the choices I make surrounding food always go back to that. Here are a few things we consider when it comes to this topic.

  1. We want our boys to remember that their bodies still need the same base of nourishment that they need in all other seasons of the year. Treats are special and cannot cover the nourishment their bodies need. They are not to be consumed all day everyday. We talk about the fact that a treat is something “extra” we choose to enjoy. We encourage them to savour and enjoy treats rather than rushing through them. We also remind our chidren that they may not feel well if they have a lot of treats as they are not the main fuel for our bodies.  I often use the phrase “having more of that may cause your head, tummy, or teeth to not feel well”.
  2. Our boys are not given a treat or restricted from a treat based on if they are “good” or finish the food on their plate. The treat food is planned from the start as long as they feel like it. They are also given full option to save it for later if they are too full at the time it is served. It is not a “now or never” but rather a “when you wish to enjoy this”.
  3. We use “Division of Responsibility” to determine when and how much of a treat will be offered. The boys can decide if they will eat it and how much they will eat of it. If we are at a social gathering we chat about all the treat options and we let them know that they are welcome to choose one favourite OR share a few favorites with each other.
  4. We love to make and offer healthy, fun treats. Red and green fruit and veggie platters, berry cakes, green (spinach) waffles with red berries and yogurt, and snow men made out of pancakes and yogurt can be really fun and exciting for young children and yet still offer great nourishment. Involving them in the preparation takes it to a whole new level of excitement.
  5. Creating a fun food craft is another way that our children enjoy Christmas treats. They love to bake and decorate gingerbread men and cookies and although they have been known to take a few bites here and there, they tend to enjoy the decorating more than the eating. The reality is that creating joy from experiences rather than food sets them up much better in the long run.

These are just a few thoughts on the topic that I have. I hope it is helpful. Thank you for reading.

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Feel free to share your thoughts below. I would love to hear your ideas on this topic.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Small Shop Stocking Stuffers

I love finding stocking stuffers that will truly be enjoyed all year long. And while a small toy or book is wonderful to include, I also wanted to give you a few other ideas for your children’s stockings this year that would support small shops and be of use to both your child and you throughout the year.

1) Baby Buddy
The Brilliant! Kids Sonic took dental care to a whole new level in our home in 2017 and we could not be more thankful. You can read more about them here. Our boys absolutely love these toothbrushes…especially the fact that they light up and offer more autonomy in tooth brushing. They are the perfect size for any stocking.

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2) Mabel’s Labels
We use these phenomenal labels on everything from sweatshirts to lunch boxes to backpacks to boots to hockey helmets. There are several kits to choose from depending on your needs. You can find one of the kits we have here. Our boys LOVE helping to add a new label and call that item their very own. Sticking a personalized booklet out the top of a stocking would be very special on Christmas morning.

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3) Kiddo Bloom
As you know, I am all about supporting autonomy in children. We love how Kiddo Bloom cutlery does exactly that in our home. This stainless steel cutlery looks the same as the adult cutlery at the table but is the proper shape and weight for little hands. I also LOVE that they are one piece making for a more sanitary option compared to two piece cutlery.

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4) Kindergarten Tool Kit Flash cards
If you have a child between the ages of 2-5 these flash cards would be a really special gift that includes time together as you help your child learn their letters, letter sounds, numbers, shapes, and/or site words. In out home, we use the flash cards as part of cooking/baking as well as games and set learning times.

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5) Meals with Milton
Milton arrived at our home this summer and has been a welcome part of family meals, baking time, and more. Most recently he enjoyed watching us do some Christmas baking. We have Milton participate in the fun times AND in the “food trial” times so he is not anxiety provoking but rather a friendly face at all times. If you have a fussy eater or a child who struggles with trying new foods, I would consider having Milton peak out of your child’s stocking on Christmas morning.

6) The Original Squeeze

It’s not a bottle, its squeeze! And it is the perfect, mess free, easy to clean option for smoothies and purees for school lunches or on-the-go snacks. These come in a variety of colours and sizes. I chose my kids favourite colours when ordering and they use them almost every day. You can see my fill review here.

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I hope that this gives you some fun new ideas for stocking stuffers this year. Watch for my Small Shop gift guide for young children coming soon!

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

Seven Lessons I Learned from my Mom

I had the honour of being my mom’s maid of honour last Saturday. I am in awe of her zest for life as she is jumping into the phase of “newly wed” life all over again. This week has been a time of reflections for me. I am filled with joy for her new beginnings, but also have had moments of sadness as I will miss her. You see, she has lived with us for the last 5.5 years. She has been part of the morning rush and the evening conversations. Morning tea parties and happy hour spritzers. She helps the twins practice piano and lets Rhett play in the kitchen while she bakes. Her presence in our home was greater than I ever realized. As I reflected on this I was thinking of what I have learned from her that I hope I can pass onto my children.

  1. Turn to Jesus…especially when you don’t feel like it. Whether in the dark moments of life or the highest of highs, my mom always modelled for me and reminded me to take time for the Lord and turn to Him first for wisdom, protection, and love.
  2. Every little thing to me was a big thing to her. Whether celebrating a small milestone or looking for the back of an earring…my mom has always made me feel like her main priority. I want my children to know that too. I want them to know that in the small times and the big, I care about the finest of details. I pray that I will show up for them the way she shows up for me!
  3. There is always time for one more hug. Before leaving the house or going to bed, my mom has always taken time for “one more hug”. She lost her dad at a young age and I think this impacted her to never want to leave someone knowing there could have been just one more hug. If you ask my children what I say when they ask for a cuddle, they would say “there is always time for a cuddle”. This is truly a testament to the fact that my mom always had time for a hug and I want my children to take that into their life too. The idea that there is always time to ensure that those around you feel loved. That is more important than any task at hand.
  4. Pray with and for your children. My mom always prayed with me and I am sure I don’t even know how often she prayer FOR me. To this day she prays for protection for our whole family: “From the tip of their head to the tip of their toes, their eyes, their ears, their mouth, their nose. For their skin, and all the organs that are within. Bless and protect today please Lord”. I have adopted this and pray it with my children each day too. It is a wonderful reminder of all that can go wrong, and all we can be protected from.
  5. Give graciously. My mom has always modelled serving others. She does not look to her own needs, but rather to the needs of those around her. This is something that I struggle with. I am A-type personality and I like to make sure I get everything done on my list. But thinking back on the example my mom has set I realize how often she let her agenda go to help me reach mine. Perhaps this is the best type of leader a mom can be. perhaps I could spend more time ensuring my children’s agendas are met before my own.
  6. Listen more and speak less. My mom seldom had to ask me questions to hear about my life. She was just always ready to listen. I have learned even with young children how much they have to say if I just listen. Lately I have enjoyed evening chats with my one son and morning ones with the other. They have different times of the day that they wish to open up and I am learning to be ready for that and plan accordingly.
  7. When all else fails…bake and sing! If someone asked me what I picture in my mind when I think of my mom, I would say it is her standing at the counter humming a tune and making muffins. She LOVES to bake and I will be forever thankful for the hours she spent teaching me all she knows and that now I can pass it along to my children. grew up to have the same passion. I love getting my children.

I hope this provides you with some heart warming inspiration on this chilly autumn day that the choices you make now truly do impact your children. They may seem insignificant. And your days may seem like ground hog day. But someday your little girls will be moms and your little boys will be dads and the choices you make now are molding who they become. So, with that said, more recipes and food related posts to come soon. Until then…go cuddle your sweet babies. They are only little for so long.

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Five Tips for Travelling with Young Children

We have had the opportunity to travel with our children several times since they were born and each time there have been things that stood out to me as significant in our success. I have chosen to share the top five tips that seem to hold true in all vacations that we have taken, whether for 3 days or 3 weeks, by flight or by car.

 
1. Be as efficient with space and time as possible.

  • When packing, have 1-2 back up outfits that are for the actual travel days stored in Ziploc bags at the top of one of your bags so they are easy to locate. Make up a complete one for each child with a diaper/pull up/or underwear and socks. The reason for the Ziploc is to prevent you from rooting through your child’s main bag to find a diaper or underwear and new clothes if they have a diaper blow out, accidentally can’t wait for the next bathroom break, or get car sick along the way. You need a new option as fast as possible. Also if room permits, pack a towel that can be sued to clean up any bodily fluid that has come out of the child at a less than opportune time.
  • When packing your child’s main bag, pack in outfits so that you aren’t bringing clothes that you won’t use. Bring one outfit per day with 2-3 extra tops in case one gets dirty mid-day with a spit up for babies or at a meal for older children. I plan on sleepers or pajamas to last for 2-3 nights. If these get soiled, then they are easy to wash in a sink and hang to dry if needed. For bathing suits, it is nice to bring two so that you have a dry back up.
    Side note: Bring a small container of clothing detergent just in case there are laundry facilities or if you need to do a sink wash for anyone. If you do not bring detergent, you may be left without a good cleaning option OR using one that causes a reaction to your child’s skin. Children get used to the detergent we use and vacation is not the time to play with that.

2. Set yourself up for successful sleep.

  • Ideal beds: Determine ahead of time where and on what your child will sleep. There have not been enough beds for whole family in most places we have visited. For several years we travelled with three play yards which worked well. Then when our older two outgrew them, we started bringing air mattresses. They were time consuming to set up, took up a ton of space, and Clay slipped off of his several time each night making a huge THUD on the floor. I was determined there had to be another way. Recently I found the Regalo Tot Cots. I was thrilled when they sent me two cots earlier this summer and we have used them on several occasions over the summer including sleepovers at grandparents, “camp” nights at home, and most recently a two week vacation to a family cottage. The boys honestly LOVE them. They find them comfortable and very special to sleep on. They have slept over 12 hours each night that they have slept on them and truly no complaints going to bed. Wes has had a few mid-day naps on his as well. Each cot comes with its own sheet and we let the boys use their favourite blankets over them. I have washed the sheets and dried them on low heat and they came out really well. No change at all! My husband and I were also incredibly thrilled with the compact carrying case and the 3 minute set up and take-down. The cots accommodate up to 75 pounds so we will be using them for years to come yet and will be investing in one for Rhett soon too!
    If you have any questions about these cots, please feel free to comment below or email me. I would be happy to answer them.
  • White noise: Houses/cottages/hotels all have their own unique noises. Children are used to the ones in their own home, but may find foreign noises alarming. Using an app such as NoiseBox on your iphone or ipad works well to help drown these out. I actually use it when I am away at my bedside too!

3. Young children like “the familiar”. It is beneficial to bring along a few things that remind your child(ren) of home. For example, have them choose 1 stuffed animal, 3 small toys (and I mean small!), 1 book, 1 blanket, and 1 cup. When they are involved in this process, they can feel secure knowing they will have these things from home in less familiar or completely unfamiliar surroundings. Depending on the age of your child you may also consider bringing their usual bowls, plates, and/or cutlery. This is something that I always do.

4. Bring toys and books for the travel time and the “down times”.  This tip will not eliminate the “Are we there yet?”, but hopefully it will help reduce them. A few days before you leave, head to your local dollar store and purchase several small toys/activities that your child will enjoy. Wrap them up individually and offer a new one every 20-30 minutes. It takes them a few minutes to unwrap it, and then they enjoy playing for a while. It helps to occupy them and keeps you feeling sane. These are also great for down times on holidays between planned activities or when you are trying to keep children quiet in the morning before other people are awake. When we are visiting the boys grandparents I find the mornings to be on the long side and this is one activity that I use to keep them quiet. I usually take wrapping paper and just re-wrap some items from the car/plane ride. I also like to visit the library either before we leave or at our destination to offer the boys new and exciting stories.

5. Be prepared for adequate nourishment. The tips for this point vary based on your vacation. Here are a few ideas:

  • For a road trip, pack plenty of bulk snacks with small containers on hand to distribute little bits at a time. These small containers can then be used on the remainder of the holiday. I also always take our PlanetBoxes with us. I can use them in the car if we travel over a meal time or as a picnic option as part of the holiday. For a plane trip, space is a little more limited, so packing each child with a small multi-section container works well or a trail mix in one container. KIND snacks are a great compact option for travel as they are lower in sugar than most other packaged snacks, shelf stable, and offer satiety for children and adults alike!
  • When you are arrive at your destination, head to a grocery store to pick up healthy snacks that are ready to eat such as whole grain crackers, almonds, yogurt, Babybel cheese, apples, grapes, baby carrots, baby tomatoes, snap peas, etc. If you do not have access to a fridge, then investing in a “plug in” cooler is a great idea. We have one that we use in the car and in most places we stay that are part of a road trip. If you do invest in one of these, you can also do more grocery shopping at home which saves money if you are heading to a cottage/tourist town which can save a significant amount of money and also ensure you have any specialty items that you need. For our most recent trip, I made up a two week meal plan and purchased most of the groceries from Costco before leaving. We transported them using a plug in cooler and one additional cooler bag. I will be sharing this meal plan and the grocery list that goes with it in my next post.
  • If you need to eat out as part of your vacation, seek out any Groupon deals or “kids eat free” nights at local restaurants. There are several sites for this information. Here are two that we have used:
  • If you are at an all-inclusive, then that part is a little more straight-forward.

As I said at the start, there are many other tips that have worked on various vacations we have taken, but these are ones that really stand out to me. I hope that they are helpful for you on your next trip with your children. If you have other ideas, please share in the comments below. We are all in this together and I love learning from you too!

 

 

 

 

 
Until next time…stay healthy!

The Baby Buddy Sonic 360 (aka our new favourite toothbrush)

Oral care is a high priority in our family. I started brushing the boy’s gums at least twice a day with a soft facecloth after breastfeeding at an early age, and as soon as we saw that first tooth, we started brushing it gently right away. When they had several teeth we started flossing and have been very conscientious about brushing their teeth for 90-120 as least once each day. We try for twice but I will admit it does not always happen. One thing that has always bothered me about brushing their teeth is that we don’t know how the pressure feels. We can’t 100% know if we are brushing hard enough or too hard. I had been on the lookout for an electric toothbrush that would work well for them and was thrilled when I came across the Baby Buddy Sonic 360 ! Baby Buddy was generous to send me one to try and I can honestly say this is exactly what I have been looking for!

The Baby Buddy Sonic 360 lights up and is very soft. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but for me it is. Despite our efforts to make teeth-brushing an enjoyable time, the boys have always been reluctant. To be honest I cannot blame them. I wouldn’t love someone else shoving a toothbrush into my mouth every day either. Cue the fun lights and soft bristles of the Sonic 360. They love watching the colours in their mouth as we brush and there is not pressure on their gums to push back on.

As the name suggests, it has bristles all the way around so we do not have to make sure the toothbrush is a certain way in my boy’s mouths. No matter how we hold it, it will hit their teeth. Also, this allows for more independent brushing. We have been doing the evening brushing with toothpaste and allowing the twins to do their own morning brushing with just water. It is good practice for them and I feel secure that the toothbrush is doing the work without the twins needing to apply any pressure. Also, unlike adult electronic toothbrushes, it is very quiet which has been important for our youngest who was frightened by others that we tried and it does not spray water everywhere which prevents a big mess if they pull it out of their mouth without turning it off first.

Another thing that drew me to this toothbrush is the design of one holder and several heads. We have labelled the heads for our kids but only have to store one base. This is a wonderful improvement to having several toothbrushes in one drawer!

Baby Buddy is a wonderful family run business with a heart for helping parents by providing the quality products we are looking for! For more information on this and other Baby Buddy products, you can visit their website: www.babybuddy.com or find them on Instagram (@babybuddyig), Facebook (@babybuddybear), or Twitter (@babybuddybear).