31 Oct

How Does a Baby Learn?

My baby girl is almost a year old.  I can’t believe how quickly she has gone from sleeping all day to nearly walking.  At each baby stage their needs are different and met differently.  We are currently at a really fun age where expressions are priceless and everything is a new learning experience.

The absolute BEST learning TOY EVER is her big sister, but she’s in school during the day so we have other ways to keep baby busy, happy and learning during the down times.

We have a couple of toys in the house the baby can be entertained with on her own, it’s a necessity when I’m busy being a Mom doing Mom things; but we have to also remember it’s important to interact with our kids and take the time to play with them too.  While I like to pull out the scissors, construction paper and glue with my oldest daughter, the baby isn’t exactly there yet.  She likes to taste everything and well scissors and glue are dangerous to put in your mouth.

A few simple age appropriate games I like to play with the baby are Peek-a-boo, Patty Cake (in French), rolling the ball back and forth, hiding objects and “zerberts” are always good for a huge laugh too.  I’m always impressed when I see her putting her hands over her eyes, clapping, or pushing the ball back my way when we play, she may just be a “baby’, but she really gets what we are doing together.  We are “playing” but also connecting and interacting on a much deeper level.  It’s an amazing feeling as a parent to have that bond with your children and really see they are learning.

I also love watching her play and learn on her own.  It could be very easy to dismiss that she’s “just a baby” and doesn’t know much, but I truly think at just 11 months, she’s a genius.  The most recent ways she’s been learning is with her Laugh and Learn Car and the Go Baby Go! Stride-to-Ride Lion.  These two toys are her absolute favourite right now.  Each for different reasons.

Laugh and Learn Crawl around Car 1

When she plays with the Laugh and Learn Car, not only does she push the buttons, horns and turn the key, she opens the door to crawl into the car.  I know they say second kids learn quicker because they learn from their older siblings, but I am simply floored that a baby would know you have to open the door to get inside the car.  Genius (I may be a bit bias).

She also loves her Go Baby Go! Stride-To-Ride Lion.  This was actually my oldest daughter’s lion and has gone trough 4 kids already.  It easily converts from a walker to a ride on toy.  Right now, she uses it as a walker and is easily cruising the house, sometimes with just one hand and is almost running.  Once again, being a second time parent, I know what walking on her own means and I would love for her to remain immobile a little while longer, but there’s no holding her back.

Lion

With each passing day, she’s growing up way too fast and has so many different things to learn.  Between playing with her older sister, interactive games with myself and hubster and playing on her own she is learning quickly and turning into a little toddler.  Make time stand still, just for a moment.

“DISCLOSURE: I RECEIVE SPECIAL PERKS AS A PART OF MY AFFILIATION WITH THE FISHERPRICE PLAY AMBASSADOR PROGRAM WITH MOM CENTRAL CANADA. THE OPINIONS IN THIS BLOG ARE MY OWN.”

 

30 Oct

Princess Party

This past summer my little Princess turned 5 years old.  When I asked her what theme she wanted, she was quick to say Dinosaurs because the boy down the street loved dinosaurs.   He’s 8 and most likely didn’t want to attend her party, so in the end she went with a princess theme – quelle surprise.

I should have stayed off Pinterest when doing research for a birthday cake, because some of those cakes are absolutely outstanding.  I made a few tweets asking for cake decorators in the Halifax area and one response I received was “you could make a cake like that”.  I thought, yeah right… are you crazy?  But then I thought… hey I enjoy self torture, I can make a cake like that… along with all the other treats for a Princess Themed party.

Princess themed Party

Here’s what I came up with for the party:

  • Castle Cake
  • Pink Wafers with white chocolate and sprinkles
  • Crown and Shoe ham and cheese sandwiches
  • Crown and Shoe watermelon cutouts
  • Strawberry and banana fondue
  • Chocolate dipped, pink sprinkle marshmallow wands
  • DIY Fruit Loop Necklaces

Princess Themed Birthday Party

Do-able right?  How about this one added piece of info, I was on vacation for 2 weeks before the party and only arrived home the day before – yup. It’s true.

The great news was, it all came together.  Want to make a Princess Themed party?  Here are some of my creations.

Castle Cake:

I had never baked a cake before and since I was away, I had the cakes made for me, 2 nine inch cakes and 2 6 inch cakes.  The top layer of the castle and the towers are made with Rice Crispies covered in fontant and upside down ice cream cones.

 Here’s how to make Marshmallow Fondant:

Microwave 4 cups mini marshmallows and a teaspoon of water for 30 seconds, mix in 4 cups icing sugar and stir stir stir until you have a rollable dough.  Use food colouring for desired colours.

Before putting the fondant onto the cakes use regular icing on your cakes to make it smooth otherwise the fondant accentuates every imperfection.  Roll out the fondant and put it on each layer of the cake.  I cut out each flower and the accents around the layers and the towers.  I must admit, it wasn’t hard to make the cake, but it took a lot of hours.  If you have kids around, this cake is most likely not going to happen, ask someone to look after them.

Pink Wafers with white chocolate and sprinkles:

Melt white chocolate over a double boiler, dip tips of wafer into chocolate and then into pink sprinkles

Chocolate dipped, pink sprinkle marshmallow wands

Melt white chocolate (add pink food colouring if desired), place a stick onto regular sized marshmallows, dip into chocolate and then into sprinkles

Chocolate Fondue

Rather than regular fondue sticks, I used crown themed sticks for the strawberries and bananas

Cutouts

I used crown and shoe cutouts for sandwiches (ham and cheese) and watermelon, I couldn’t think of another fruit that was pink to match the theme.

I also filled a castle pinata with candy and had a pink punch with pink straws.

It was all very easy to do, and if it would have been just a few months afterwards I could have added another simple treat… Princess Kinder Surprise.  Yes, they have added Disney Princesses and Marvel characters for the 2014 lineup.  Oh well, with another little Princess in the making, I’m sure I’ll have another chance.

Kinder Canada Disney Marvel

Disclosure: I’m part of the KINDER® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

29 Oct

Same Parents, Different kids

I often wondered how it’s possible for siblings to be so different, they have the same parents after all.  Sure there may be a few years between the kids, but Moms and Dads can’t change their parenting styles so dramatically can they?  Being a second time parent is so much different than a first time parent … why can’t we just be a second time parent first?  When my first was born, I was nervous about absolutely everything, and not just the regular stuff like sleeping, eating, and pooping.  I would stay up at night to make sure the baby was breathing.  This time around, things are so much different, I know how resilient kids are, I’m much more laid back and things don’t worry me as much.

All this to say, my kids are total opposites.  The interesting thing is, we’re not parenting any differently.  We have the same morals and values and the same things are still important to us as a family and we want to instill the same things into our girls yet, they are completely different children.

Princess Head Strong is strong willed far beyond what is humanly possible for a 5 year old.  Baby on the other hand is always pleasant and is often quoted as the “best baby ever”.  I know there are a few years between them, but Princess Head Strong has been this way since she exited the womb.  And baby keeps getting easier and easier with each passing day.

I love the challenges their differences in personality bring.  Each have their own characteristics that make hubster and I smile (and sometimes want to curse).  But, we love them the same, they bring joy to our lives and they have single handedly made me a much better person.  I have to adapt to their needs as the grow, have more empathy, sympathy, love, imagination, sense of humor, patience; be a doctor, chauffeur, chef, entertainer; have to provide shelter and food all while on running very little sleep.  But as parents we do it, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. and we will continue to do it until …. the end.

kids

This is the best job I’ve had in the world and it continues to get better as each of our “Little People” grow up to be themselves.  Funny enough, my oldest daughter says she wants to be a person when she grows up.  When I explained I meant where would she want to work, she mater-of-factly said “The Government”.

To celebrate all of our children’s differences and independence, Fisher Price has added new Little People and for the launch you can win one of 5 Little People prize packs from Treehouse with 4 fun playsets, each for different kids.

  • Little People Happy Sounds Home Playset  Klip Klop Stable
  • Little People Fun Sounds Farm Playset
  • Little People Wheelies Stand ‘n Play Rampway
  • Little People Zoo Talkers Playset
  • Little People Disney Princess Klip Klop Stable

I know “they” say not to compare your children, and it’s not so much comparing as it is celebrating their differences, learning from each of them, being flexible as a parent and recognizing that each child has their own qualities that makes them special, and like no one else in the entire world.

“Disclosure: I receive special perks as a part of my affiliation with the FisherPrice Play Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada. The opinions in this blog are my own.”

27 Oct

Pumpkin Carving, Composting and Seeds

Before kids I was “sooooo busy”.  So busy in fact, I found enough hours in just a few days to carve a Winnie the Pooh Pumpkin.  This photo is circa 2000.  I had spent hours and hours carving out this pumpkin before Pinterest and super cool pumpkin carvings even existed.  Up until 2008 when we had our first child, my husband and I have mad a few other fun carvings.  Now with 2 kids in the house, we are limited to the typical triangle eyes and goofy 1 toothed smile jack 0’lanterns.  Other quick pumpkins also include a printed monogram and modgepodging it to a pumpkin.  It takes all of 5 minutes to complete and looks pretty fancy too.

winne the pooh pumpkin

Being in Nova Scotia, we know a thing or two about composting and recycling.  It’s actually part of our bylaws and if you’re not complying, you will get a nice red sticker on your garbage bags so all your neighbours know what a terrible person you are.  A few years ago we were the top province for our recycling and composting program (I’m not sure of our status to date).  You’re probably thinking, “what do recycling and pumpkin carvings have in common?”  Well, to many of you, it might mean taking the pumpkin innards and throwing them into the garbage, but to us, it means putting it in the green bin.

pumpkin carving

I’m sure you’re now wondering “What’s a green bin?” Or maybe you’re not wondering, but I’m going to tell you anyway.  It’s a lovely huge bin where all our slop gets thrown in and every week (or every other week depending on the time of year) the garbage man comes to pick it up, along with the maggots and fruit flies that live in that disgusting thing.  Nice visual isn’t it?  The city has a mini green bin that can stay on your counter and every time you peel a carrot, have left over food on your plate or an apple core you throw it inside.  IF you do this, it needs to be dumped and vigorously cleaned every single day because it quite quickly becomes a hot mess.  We on the other hand, use an empty compostable box like a cracker box (or anything else made of cardboard), dump our compost in and throw the whole thing into the green bin.  We have to do this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.   Or else the fruit flies move in, make a home and are nearly impossible to evict.

When Glad asked me to test out their newest compostale bags and container, I was all over it.

Here’s the scoop: OMGoodness!  No kidding.  We filled the GLAD container and compostable bag with sludge (including pumpkin innards), closed the lid and added a few things as time went on and left it for 7 whole days without dumping it.  7 WHOLE DAYS (unheard of here – trust me).  After the week was done, there was no moisture in the bin, but we went a step further, we also put a paper towel in the bottom of the bin and surprisingly, there was just a small few dots of moisture.  This was one of those MIND BLOWN moments, and impossible with our regular counter top green bins or our homemade cardboard daily throw away green bin.  Seriously incredible.

So what does this mean for us?  It means we no longer have to make daily trips to the bug infested green bin that lives outside our house.  We can use the new Glad bin and leave in on the counter with the lid closed and it wont make anyone want to vomit because of the stench or have new unwelcome “visitors”.  (Sorry for the gruesome visual, but trust me, it’s a reality here).

compostable bags

This is seriously the real deal when it comes to composting.  We mostly likely wont leave it on the counter for 7 days without changing it, but 2 or 3 trips is a week to the dreaded green bin is better than 7 (or more).

As for the rest of the pumpkin goo… turn those seeds into a healthy snack.  Put them on a pan, roast them in the oven with salt – yummy!

pumpkin seeds

Enjoy your pumpkin carving.

**DISCLAIMER: THE PRODUCT/S MENTIONED ABOVE HAVE BEEN GIVEN FREE OF CHARGE FROM Glad IN EXCHANGE FOR BEING FEATURED ON MY WEE VIEW. THE PRODUCT FEATURES EXPRESSED IN THIS POST ARE THOSE OF MY WEE VIEW AND HAVE NOT BEEN INFLUENCED IN ANY OTHER WAY. PLEASE SEE THE FULL TERMS OF USE.

26 Oct

Bacon & Chicken Soup

The best thing about cooking a full chicken, is boiling the bones and making home made soup after.  Ok, so I’ve only ever done this twice by myself, but it’s so easy I’ll make soup after cooking a full bird every single time.  You should never ever ever let a good bird carcass go to waste.

If you remember last week, I made a bacon roasted chicken for Thanksgiving, not traditional for this time of year, but I still added all the fixings, carrots, dressing, gravy, etc. and it was great.  But who really wants to have chicken sandwich after chicken sandwich the weeks after Thanksgiving?  Ok, I probably would, but the rest of the family, not so much.  So, I made a soup, a delicious soup, the most delicious soup.  I’m calling is Bacon & Chicken Soup.

Bacon and chicken soup

Here’s what you need:

  • a full chicken that you made a few days before with chicken like this Bacon Roasted Chicken
  • left overs from your chicken dinner
  • left over broth from the chicken you cooked
  • rice
  • extra veggies
  • extra soup stock

Here’s what you do:

Throw all the left over “juice” from the chicken you cooked (including and bacon that fell off your chicken), along with the chicken bones into a pot and boil on low for a few hours (until all the chicken easily falls off the bones).  Let the mixture cool and remove all the bones.  Add in soup stock, left over veggies and new veggies, rice and you can even throw the gravy into the pot and let it boil.  I usually like to then let the entire soup mixture cool off and put it in the fridge so all the fat rises to the top and scrape it off, but it’s totally up to you.

The bacon adds a super yummy flavour to the soup.  Even if I don’t make Bacon Roasted Chicken, I think I will throw in a few strips of cooked bacon into the next soup I make.  Left overs went way quicker than they would have as chicken sandwiches.

With winter around the corner, soup is one of my favourite ways to get warmed up (next to a warm tub and a cup of hot chocolate).  Check out the Chicken.ca website for some other chicken soup recipes.

Giveaway: Chicken Giveaway

  • 1 lucky Canadian reader will receive a set of Chicken Soup Bowl and a Thermos

To Enter:

  • Complete the Rafflecopter form below

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 “DISCLOSURE: I AM PARTICIPATING IN THE CHICKEN FARMERS OF CANADA PROGRAM BY SHESCONNECTED. I RECEIVED COMPENSATION IN EXCHANGE FOR MY PARTICIPATION IN THIS PROGRAM. THE OPINIONS ON THIS BLOG ARE MY OWN.”

23 Oct

Rock-a-bye Baby

I’m not 100% sure yet, but I don’t think we’re going to have any more children.  It’s actually hard to write that down.  When both girls are quietly sleeping, I dream about having a few more.  But when they are both up at 3am, having temper tantrums, crying non stop I want to try to find my receipt for a return or exchange.  I also am not a fan of pregnancy, throwing up and heartburn is a terrible way to spend 9 months at a time.  So, I kind of have it in my head that this baby is probably going to be the last little one in our home.

I’ve really taken advantage of this angel we’ve been blessed with.  My absolute favourite activity I wish we could do forever, is rocking.   We have a few rocking chairs in the house and nearly every night before bed, we cuddle, we nurse, sing lullabies and rock out.  I absolutely love this sentimental routine, and so does she.  If there’s an evening we don’t get to rock, she’s quick to fuss and let me know she wants to be swayed to sleep.

Cuddles collage

In some regards, I think I’ve created a mini spoiled monster, she wont really sleep in her crib, she always wants to be held and she gets pretty upset when she’s not being cuddled.  I know they say you can’t spoil a baby, but I’m pretty sure she lets me know it’s her way or the highway – see that smirk on her face? She knows she has me wrapped.  But, she’s the baby and being a second time parent, I know this wont last forever.  Soon enough she will be back talking and driving on the back of her boyfriends Harley, so I am truly making the most out of our rocking special time.

Routines are a great way to get babies on a schedule (or any kids really, I see the fruits of routine in my 5 year old).  With our oldest, tub time was the slowdown time, just before bed.  Not only did the routine let her know bedtime was next, but the soft scents of soap and soothing touch of lotion can help to make them drowsy.  JOHNSON’S NATURAL has new baby products, which are paraben-free, dye-free and phyhalate-free.

The newest products are:

Johnsons Naturals

  • JOHNSON’S Baby
  • JOHNSON’S HEAD-TO-TOE
  • JOHNSON’S BEDTIME
  • JOHNSON’S NATURAL

I’ve been known to take a few selfies while cuddling, I really want this time to last forever…. I go back to work in December and am dreading every day that goes by as it’s one day closer to leaving my baby.

What routines do you have to help babies fall asleep?

 

**Disclosure – I am participating in the JOHNSON’S® NATURAL® Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf ofJOHNSON’S® NATURAL®.  I receive compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

22 Oct

Bacon Roasted Chicken

This year we had a small thanksgiving.  In the past, my mom and grandmother have made a turkey fit for an army.  But this year, it was just my small family.  I’ve never made a turkey before and well, I didn’t want to break that tradition, so I pulled out a frozen chicken from the freezer.  With 2 adults and a small child, I didn’t think our appetites would allow us to enjoy turkey and 4 weeks of leftovers.

Rather than making a traditional roasted chicken, I got a little creative.  I added bacon – cause everything is better with bacon, right?

Here’s what you need to make a bacon roasted chicken:

  • Maple Leaf Bacon
  • Chicken
  • Rosemary
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Toothpicks

Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 350.  Rub butter all over your chicken, sprinkle rosemary along the top, dash with salt and pepper.  Lay strips of bacon along the top of the chicken, keeping them in place with the tooth picks.

bacon wrapped chicken

I let the chicken cook about 1.5 hours and then removed the bacon to expose the top of the chicken to roast.  I let the bacon in the pan to keep the taste in.

bacon wrapped chicken1

The verdict…. Yum yum yum-o! The bacon made the chicken nice and moist and even princess pickey eater ate two drum sticks (yes, two).

bacon roasted chicken2
This is a very easy way to give a different and delicious taste to chicken.  I will make this again!

But the best part was yet to come… Stay tuned for the leftovers!

Want to get your own bacon? I have some free coupons for 8 readers. Fill out this form and I’ll send them your way.

**DISCLAIMER: THE PRODUCT/S MENTIONED ABOVE HAVE BEEN GIVEN FREE OF CHARGE FROM Maple Leaf IN EXCHANGE FOR BEING FEATURED ON MY WEE VIEW. THE PRODUCT FEATURES EXPRESSED IN THIS POST ARE THOSE OF MY WEE VIEW AND HAVE NOT BEEN INFLUENCED IN ANY OTHER WAY. PLEASE SEE THE FULL TERMS OF USE.