September 5, 2017

The Twins Start Kindergarten Tomorrow and I’m Just Not Even Ready For It.

The Twins at The Wood Carver’s House, in Radium Hot Springs, a few days ago

The twins start kindergarten tomorrow and, all I can say is, I’m just not even ready for it!

My neighbor told me, a few weeks ago, that her and her daughter are ‘ready’ and are, in fact, ‘celebrating’ the start of kindergarten. I gave this some serious consideration…and wondered if I, too, should have this outlook.

But, no…that’s just not my story.

We have worked so hard to give them a good, solid foundation. Really, the last 5 1/2 years have led us up to this big day. They were hard years, with highs and lows…they were amazing years. The best of my life, so far! I’m a little sad to see them changing.

My deepest hope for each of the twins, this year, is that they will have the kind of thoughtfulness, manners, and respect to ensure they are good students, good friends, and good little humans in general.

I hope that they still hold onto their wonderful and curious innocence…for a while longer anyway.

And, I hope while they are at school, they remember how deeply they are loved.

This last week was really dedicated to letting the kids have the happiest last days of childhood before grade school. We did the fun things they requested, we ate more treats than usual, and we spent a lot of great time together as a family.

And so, I hope they are entering into their first school year feeling as happy and joyful as possible!

Gray and Miss A…I Iove you, SO much, my sweet babies! Have a great first day of school tomorrow!

July 22, 2017

Summer Vacation Swimming Lessons? Yes Please!

Let me start off by saying that taking the kids to swimming lessons, has historically been, one of my least favourite things to do as a parent. It’s really is just not my thing. Ask my girlfriends – I grumble about it every time the kids are registered.

…AND…for a whole laundry list of reasons, I ESPECIALLY detest taking the twins to swimming lessons in the wintertime!

Last summer, though, a very smart mom-friend of mine (Rachelle, I’m talking about you!) told me about how she hired a swim instructor to give private lessons to her trio of boys on one of her summer vacations.  They arranged for the lessons to be done at the local outdoor pool where, she was holidaying, and she seemed really happy with her experience!

I was so amazed at what a smart idea it was! It just made so much sense! She was able to book it last minute, got a pretty reasonable price (if memory serves me it was a ‘cash’ sort of arrangement), and her boys got to practice their skills plenty since…well, they were on holidays!

(Also, can I just take a moment to say that she didn’t have to deal with the aggravation of swimming lessons in the winter time…yucky/dirty/muddy change rooms, everyone’s hair needing to get dried before leaving, everyone is freezing cold inside and out, winter gear getting dropped on the wet floor…I could go on! Yuck!).

Did I mention I’m not a fan of winter swimming lessons?

Coincidentally, when Rachelle and I had the conversation, we were actually in the middle of a camping holiday and I decided I was going to look into lessons, near where were camping, right away.

Jackpot! There were lessons being offered at the hot springs pool close to where we were and I was able to get them into a class within days of contacting the organizer (a contrast the waitlists I have had to go on, in the city, for not registering on opening day). On top of that, there were only a couple of other kids in the class AND the price was reasonable!

The kids ended up really enjoying the lesson. The ‘tone’ of the lessons was a lot more casual than what we are used to in the city, which is what I think the kids needed at that time. They also LOVED having their lessons in the ‘warm pool’ of the hot springs – what a world of difference in their level of enthusiasm before classes – from them and me!

(Here is a little plug for Dara’s Dolphins, the organizer for the swimming lessons…she was great to deal with and, also, happens to be another twin mom!  …so she gets extra ‘props’ in my book!)

Darren and I decided then that summer swimming lessons, over holidays, are the way to go for our family for sure!  There are other activities we are focused on in the winter and it just makes sense to us that the kids get their lessons when they can be practicing them the most.  PLUS….I don’t have to deal with winter lessons…because, well…you know.

Unfortunately, when I contacted Dara’s Dolphins for lessons this year, I was surprised she was pretty much already filled up! I guess I waited too long.

#ParentFail

Apparently, Rachelle wasn’t the first person to consider summer-holidaying lessons and the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort appears to be a popular place for children to learn to swim this year. Who knew?

So…we got ‘crazy’ and we made a little splurge in the name of ‘safety’ – we inquired about getting the kids into some private lessons…still through Dara’s Dolphins and still at the hot springs. We normally wouldn’t do something like that, but the kids have been in water so much this summer, we really wanted them developing their skills.  Especially as they get braver and want to venture into deeper water when we are out swimming.

We did end up getting some private lessons set up and we are so glad we did!

#ParentFailPaidOff

Wow – what an amazing experience!

We can’t afford to always offer the kids the luxury of a dedicated instructor, but the results and enthusiasm shown by the kids was really impressive and was really worth the money! The results we saw, in one-week’s time, were way beyond any other swim lessons they have taken.

Now the kids spend more time ‘under’ the water than ‘out’ of it!  Gray on the left, Miss A on the right.

I think part of it was having the ‘one on one’ instruction (or should I say ‘one on two’ instruction?)…but we also got so lucky with a really super instructor! The kids just responded to him so well!  He was really patient but still encouraged them to push themselves and, well, he was doing something right because the kids really made a world of progress over the week.  There were times Gray was coughing and sputtering water, trying to figure out a skill, but willingly keep trying at the coaxing of his teacher .  I don’t have enough good things to say about the amazing experience!


The twins with Louis, their beloved swim instructor…they LOVED him!  We will definitely look for him again!

So, I’m not saying register your kids in private lessons (or if you can, I guess I ‘would’ recommend it – especially if you’re swimmers are trying to get over a ‘hump’ of some sorts)…BUT…I can’t say enough about how well summer vacation lessons have worked for us for two summers now. The kids love it and I enjoy watching them…while warm…in the beautiful outdoors.

And I don’t have to dry anyone’s hair before we leave.

And no one has wet mittens…in minus 30 degrees celcius.

😀

Hooray!  They passed!

 

July 5, 2017

A Preschool Graduation ‘Reward’?

The end of June brought the end of school and ‘graduation’ for many children. If you read my last blog post, “Preschool graduation? Isn’t that a little silly?” then you have probably guessed that we didn’t plan a big celebration, gifts, or anything of that sort for our twins.

Darren took a couple of hours off of work, over lunch, and made the trek back to the suburbs from downtown Calgary to see their year-end show. I thought that was pretty awesome! Darren is always talking about how busy he is at the office, so I kind of felt that his ‘time’ was a bit of a gift in itself.

BUT…the kids are good friends with another set of boy/girl twins, Cam and Abby…and their mom is maybe a little more fun than me. Ange is a pretty fun, thoughtful, attentive and loving mom. She is the kind of mom who might ask her kids what they would like to do to celebrate their Kindergarten year. ☺

Cam said he wanted to head to Fun ‘N More, with Gray, and Abby wanted to get pedicures with Miss A.

So…this worked out pretty nicely for my duo, didn’t it?

We planned a date. The dads took the boys on their excursion and we hear they had a great time. Sadly there are no photos for me to share with you, because, well…like many moms, I am the ‘photo-taker’ in our house (now you know why all the photos you see of me are selfies!).

Ange and I took the girls for a little Starbucks visit and snack (which was mostly for ‘our’ benefit) followed by a trip to Frilly Lilly in Shawnessy for the girls’ little mini manicures and pedicures.  I have to say, it was pretty adorable to see!


Miss A and Abby getting their fingernails painted

There is some serious 5-year old pampering happening here!

I have to say a huge, ‘thank you’, to the owner of this shop, Rayelene, who was really accommodating and great to us and the girls. She fit the girls in ‘same day’ on a Saturday, which I know was a tall order AND the girls experienced star treatment and a few surprises.

The girls loved selecting their nail polish colours and they were super lucky to get to take home their polish, which was beautifully wrapped up for them. To top it off, when Miss A needed a little ‘touch up’ on her toe, she wasn’t made to feel guilty or badly – it was just done without hesitation.

Who doesn’t love a beautifully wrapped item?  The girls loved carrying these out!

When everything was said and done, the boutique owner offered the girls a little ‘surprise’. I don’t think she does this all of the time, but her son had outgrown his Shopkins collection so she let the girls each select one to take home with them. This was so perfect, and fitting, since the girls had ‘just’ spent our time at Starbuck, having a little Shopkins swap and trade!

Selecting a special treasure while their little toes dry.

Over all, it was a really great afternoon for everyone! I’m not sure we will be celebrating the end of the school year with a treat like this every year but, I have to admit, it was nice giving them a little indulgence for ‘this’ year.

Happy preschool graduation, Gray and Miss A! …And you too, Cam and Abby! Thanks for requesting our twins join you on your celebrations!

Of course they had matching little girl mani’s – just the sweetest!

June 25, 2017

Preschool graduation? Isn’t that a little silly?

Gray and Miss A on the last day of preschool

Preschool Graduation? Isn’t that a little silly?

That’s the kind of thing I would have said before I had kids.

And listen…when the twins ‘graduated from preschool’ last week, there was a small part of me that felt a tiny bit silly hearing ‘congratulations’ from the other parents in the class.  I mean…it does sound sort of funny. Congratulations for what? You can still play with sand? You get an A+ for managing to get through snack time?

The truth is, completing preschool (especially completing the truly stand up program we were lucky enough to find) is a celebration of many things that really ‘are’ accomplishments.

It’s definitely not about the ‘snacks’ or the ‘sand’.

What is really is about is the personal growth and development that a young child sees over the span of September through June.

Some of you may remember my first posts about preschool from the very beginning of the school year – My Twins Started Preschool and I’m Mourning, and also, My Twins Started Preschool – Update.  We have really come so far since then!

And by ‘we’, I mean ‘me’. I was the one who felt a little sad about preschool.  The twins had started other un-parented programs by then, which I think really helped relieve any apprehension they might have had otherwise. Gray and Miss A were excited to start preschool!

Attending and completing preschool was a year where the twins were building their character qualities, learning and, even, discovering important life lessons!

For our family, and our kids, preschool meant…

-Creating a schedule and following through with it.

-Working together to be on time (like the time Gray had to blow dry Miss A’s hair for mommy!).

-Building confidence and breaking through some shyness (Miss A).

-Developing new friendships (that kind that are authentically created, not only created because mom and dad are friends with their mom and dad).

-Learning numbers, letters, the world around us, and all of that wonderful stuff!

-Learning how to be inquisitive and imaginative in appropriate ways.

-Meeting people who are very ‘different’ from us, and learning that ‘different’ is ‘okay’ and can be embraced!

Those are the best, and most important things, we are celebrating when we are at preschool graduation!

Academically, the twins have learned so much and that was really exciting for us to see throughout the year! They participated in activities and learned about things that never would have been on my radar had I kept them at home with me.

Gray’s spring report card

Miss A’s spring report card

So…that’s it in a nutshell! Now you (and I) both know why we celebrate a preschool graduation. Yes…I admit to you childless adults…it a little, teeny-tiny bit over the top.  But…when you become a parent, you will understand the pride you feel as a parent seeing your child grow and develop the way they do when they are two or three or four-years old.

So…

CONGRATULATIONS Gray and Miss A!

We love you and we are SO very proud of you!

Mommy

xo

 

Miss Ann, Gray and Miss Sheri

Miss Ann, Miss A, and Miss Sheri

Miss Ann, Gray, Miss A and Miss Sheri

Thanks to the teachers for suggesting to take this last photo with both kids.  It’s the kind of photo a twin parent really appreciates and I would have forgotten to do that in this moment!

PS In case you are searching for a truly amazing preschool program for your littles (in south east Calgary), I’m going to offer a little plug for the Bright Stars Preschool Program. I am ‘that’ thankful and happy with them!

The kids attended a truly amazing preschool with exceptional teachers who took a lot of time to plan a great program. The classroom play centres changed every single class. There were also stories, rhymes and songs every class and they also brought home a high-quality craft…yep, you got it…also every class.

We had so many amazing crafts in our house, I was compelled to create a special art wall to display it all!

The teachers also took the time to make sure a variety of important skills were touched on each day: Language, math, fine motor, gross motor and sensory.  Here is a copy of one of our weekly updates we received via email…they are the real deal!

Our Week at a Glance week 35 page 1
Our Week at a Glance week 35 page 2

 

Can you believe it?? I’m amazed at how much they were able to cover in two and a half hours!

A big huge thanks to the twins’ teachers, Miss Ann and Miss Sheri – your reputation precedes you and you didn’t disappoint!

May 6, 2017

Is one of your children staying at, or visiting, the Alberta Children’s Hospital?

Is one of your children staying at, or visiting, the Alberta Children’s Hospital?

If so, have you heard of Emily’s Backyard?

If you haven’t, this blog post is definitely for you!

We have been visiting the Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) since the twins were born. We have mainly been there for clinic visits plus, one unfortunate trip to the emergency room, when Gray was accidentally burned on our gas fireplace.

Each visit we had to ACH, we either had one parent stay home with the non-visiting child or we tried our best to arrange childcare. Usually, after months of waiting to get in to see a specialist, I like to be focused on the appointments and not distracted by the extra parenting efforts that we are required with additional children. You know how it goes…

”Please don’t touch that, it’s not a toy.”

“No, you can’t climb on there.”

“Please get off the floor, it’s yucky.”

“Stop poking your sister.”

Having only the ‘patient-child’ in the appointment allows me focus on actually ‘hearing’ what is said and maybe taking a few notes with my phone. I also find that I have a reduced chance of forgetting to ask the questions I wanted to ask (or…like I mentioned earlier, actually ‘hearing’ and ‘retaining’ what the answers are).

If you have visited the hospital, for any reason, you have probably walked by it. It is a colourful play area, seen through windows, right as you enter the hospital. The name of it is posted above the doors (there is a second location on the second level of the hospital as well).

So, here it is…in case you aren’t aware (like I wasn’t)…it is a short-term childcare option available if you have a child staying in the hospital, or visiting a clinic.

And are you ready for this?

IT IS FREE!!!

What??? Why didn’t anyone mention this to us when we booked our clinic appointments? Man…if only I had known about this sooner. For some reason, it didn’t even occur to me that this was a service available to us. Don’t ask me what I thought it was for…or who it was for…but it just never occurred to me.

Anyhow, after 5 years of visiting ACH, I had a brainchild to check into it when Miss A had her most recent clinic visit just last month. I can’t believe how easy, and convenient, it was to book our son in.

If you are wondering how Emily’s Backyard works, here is some info you might find helpful:

 

-Emily’s Backyard is intended for patients, or siblings of patients, who are staying at (or visiting) the hospital

-This amazing service is free!

-Emily’s Backyard is suitable for children who are as young as infants and as old as early teens

-You cannot stay in Emily’s Backyard if you have any of the following symptoms: rash, cough, fever, runny nose, diarrhea, or nausea/vomiting

-There are a variety of activities available for kids to do…from toys to games to crafting

-There is a maximum time limit a child can be left at Emily’s Backyard (at the time of writing this, the maximum is 1.5 hours)

-Emily’s Backyard is operated by both staff and volunteers

-It is best to pre-register your child (which you can do up to two-weeks in advance), but they will work to accommodate drop-in if they can.

That’s it!

I booked the service by submitting an email (you can call or email) and I had a response the very next day…and it was good news…they had space!  A part of me was expecting to have to be put on a waitlist or something of that nature, but that was not the case at all.

I will also say that the environment was very welcoming and Gray didn’t have any troubles being dropped off at all.  He was playing happily when I came to pick him up after Miss A’s appointment.   In fact, the hardest part was trying to explain to Miss A why she couldn’t also visit.  They sent us off with a sticker for ‘both’ kids which I thought was a nice touch.  It also worked as a distraction for Miss A’s disappointment of seeing this fun place but not being able to stay and play.  Awesome!

Like I said earlier…I am a little disappointed and surprised that this fantastic service wasn’t mentioned in the past, when we have booked our appointments there…but now we know and we are so happy that we do!

If you are interested in more information, on Emily’s Backyard, you can get more information here.

Hopefully this post finds you ahead of any visits you might have with your littles there. If you have any additional thoughts or suggestions about Emily’s Backyard, please feel free to comment below.

Grayson playing when I came to pick him up from Emily’s Backyard

April 25, 2017

My Favourite YYC Used Kids’ Clothing, Toys and Gear Sale (plus tips for successful shopping!)

Living and raising a family in Calgary is expensive…especially if you have kids. Most of the parents I know are conscious about wanting to save money – and that’s why I want to tell you about my favourite used kid’s clothing, toys, and equipment sale here in the city.

Some of you may have heard me talk about my favourite local organization, TTMAC (the Twins, Triplets, and More Association of Calgary) before.  If not, you can check it out here. Not only are they a wonderful organizing supporting YYC families with mulitples, they also put on a really great consignment sale twice a year which is open to the general public.

Now, if you don’t have twins, triplets, etc., please don’t feel like this sale isn’t for you. Most items for sale there are not sold in pairs (although some are and that is super for those looking for coordinating outfits, toys, etc).

Here is what I love about the sale:

 

It is extremely well organized

Everything is sorted in the room based on category…clothes are organized by size, toys are all together, strollers are all together, bikes are all together, etc.

Everything in season

The timing is perfect for trying to update everyone’s spring/summer or fall/winter wardrobe in new sizes (depending on which sale you are attending).  Typically there is a sale in the spring and one, again, in the fall.

The variety is awesome!

This sale isn’t specific to just ‘clothes’ or ‘toys’.  Some of the items you will find here include: toys, strollers, high chairs, clothes sized newborn to size 12, gymnastics and dancewear, shoes, equipment, baby gear, bikes, books, and even maternity-wear.

Photo credits: Twins, Triplets, and More Association of Calgary

Coordinating items are available for those with multiples

This is awesome for those parents of twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc. who might like to coordinate their littles.  Where else can you easily find gently-loved items that match??

The organizer, and the sellers, are near and dear to my heart

TTMAC has been a great resource that I have been supported by since I was pregnant with Gray and Miss A.  I’m always really happy when I can try to ‘give back’.  The sale is run by TTMAC volunteers to sell consigned items from members.

 

Tips for Successfully Shopping the TTMAC Sale

 

Okay – so let’s talk strategy here! Before I attended my first sale, I got some good tips from other fellow parents. I have since added to this list and here it is:

Arrive as close to opening as possible

Of course the early bird gets the worm. If you want the best selection, you definitely should consider starting your shop early, when the sale begins.  If you do arrive early, you should expect a short line up.

Take advantage of special early access shopping privileges

If you are a TTMAC member, you can usually gain early access to shop ahead of the general public. If you are not a TTMAC member, make friends with someone who is and ask them if you can be their ‘token guest’.

Bring cash

Cash the only form of payment they accept…unless you are a TTMAC member, in which case, you can also pay by cheque if you present your membership card (if you have misplaced your membership card, you can email TTMAC to arrange to have a new one picked up right at the sale).

Bring bags

This is a BYOB situation (bring your own bag). You might be more comfortable shopping if you have a large-type bag that you can carry over your shoulder…I would pack something over-sized myself.

Consider leaving your strollers and children at home

Why? Well…you know. And if you don’t know…trust me, you don’t want to.

If you think you might be shopping for larger items, bring an ally (non-shopping partner)

One year I brought my girlfriend and she found a great sandbox she wanted to buy, but she was worried to leave it alone to keep shopping. If you think this could happen to you, you may want to bring a spouse or buddy that you can leave your items with to keep an eye on.

Once you arrive…if you are considering an item, throw in your bag and keep shopping

If you are anything like me, you might get indecisive about purchases. That’s fine…but don’t waste time standing around thinking about it – you have valuable goods to get your hands on! Toss anything you are considering into your bag and keep going. Once you have been through the sale, review all of your items and then put back what you have decided against. But listen…don’t be that person who dumps it where it doesn’t belong.  If you can’t get it to where it should go, find a volunteer to give it to and just let them know you changed your mind (they are usually well-marked by the shirts they are wearing).

Enjoy your goods and revel in your savings!

That’s it! I won’t post the details of this year’s sale in this blog post since it can change from year to year…but you can always get current information (map, floor plan, etc) from the TTMAC Sales page.

Happy shopping!

This haul was from my first TTMAC sale in 2014 – I bought all of these goods for a grand total of $37.50!

April 4, 2017

Conversations with the Twins: My Body, Conception and Delivery

Now that the twins are five years old, they are more curious than ever. They are forever asking us in-depth questions about ‘ANYTHING’ and ‘EVERYTHING’.

Lately, I have been fielding a tonne of questions from them about my body, their conception, delivery and even about death. It has been a confusing, funny, and scary journey trying to navigate what information is age appropriate for them yet will still satisfy their curiosity.

Here is a recent question I got from Miss A:

Miss A: “Mommy, did I hatch out of an egg in your tummy?”

Me: “Ummm….can we talk about this later?”

Miss A: “Okay.”

Insert panic! Wow. I was not really prepared for that and I was totally unsure about how to answer it. So, I didn’t. I basically just put it off hoping she would forget about it.

Of course, she did not.

When she asked me again, a few days later, I told her I would like to talk about it in a few days after a special book arrived that would help me explain it. She agreed this would be okay and I hurriedly ordered a book that a psychologist at the Calgary Regional Fertility Program had recommended to us at one of our appointments. I remember she had suggested that when time came, we should be honest with the twins about their conception to avoid mis-trust in the future. So, I hopped online and ordered up her recommendation, a book called, ‘I loVe my Family‘.  See the ‘IVF’ in there?  This is a book about assisted conception for young children.

The book arrived and we read it…it very ‘lightly’ touched on the subject but I think it was still a bit confusing for the kids. Well, obviously Miss A was still confused because a couple of days after that…

Miss A: “Mommy, I know I hatched out of an egg in your tummy, but you didn’t tell me how I got out.”

Jesus.

Okay, so now there were two problems. First of all, she thinks she hatched out of an egg in my tummy. Second of all, she wants to know how she got out.

Why me??  I’m not ready for this!

But wait, it got better…

Miss A: “…Oh! I know! I must have come out of your mouth!”

Pretty much I was totally dying at this point. Panicked, confused, my heart was literally racing. …but, I just couldn’t let it continue so, I semi-blurted out to her, “You came out of my vagina!”.

(Insert a very long pause)

Miss A: “Did I come out of your bum?”

Me: “No, you did not come out of my bum. You came out of my vagina.”

Miss A: “Oh.” (insert another long pause) “I would like to see that sometime.”

…and thank the heavens above, the conversation ended there.  For now.


Now Gray, on the other hand, has been very curious about my body.

Right or wrong, I set the kids up with something to play with in the bathroom with me when I’m having a shower, so they do still see me getting ready for my day. Is five-years-old too old for that? I feel like we are on the cusp of needing to be more mindful of not being clothes-less in front of our opposite gendered kids…but I still feel like they should be supervised while I’m in the shower so, you can see the dilemma.

The other day I had just gotten out of the shower…

Gray: “Mommy, why do you have lines on your bum?”

Me: “Because my bum grew to fast at one time.”

Gray: “Is that what happened to your tummy, too?”

Me: “Yes.”

Gray: “Is that what happened to your breast?”

Me: (chuckling) “No, that definitely didn’t happen to my breast.”

Gray: (reaches up and ‘pokes’ my breast with one finger) “Then why is it falling down?”

Ha!!!!

…And there you have it! I’m not saying that these are the ‘right’ conversations; they are just the ‘real’ conversations.

If you happen to have come across a book you think would be perfect for us, please let me know! I’m obviously in need of some help here!

February 12, 2017

Birthday Party Loot Bags – It’s Okay to Say ‘No’!

Can we talk about birthday party loot bags for a moment? I really want to know if you ‘love them’ or ‘hate them’? Do you think it’s ‘taboo’ not to give them out?

The twins have a birthday party coming up and, to be honest, I’m not going to be providing loot bags this year. I’m kinda feeling guilty about it…but isn’t that kind of ridiculous?

The truth is that, since I went back to work (if you missed the post about this, you can find it here), I hardly have time to get out birthday party invitations in a timely fashion – let alone organizing appropriate, affordable, thoughtful loot bags. For me, affordable and thoughtful are the key points…if you have 10 kids and spend $5, or more, each…that’s $50! $50, people!!! If you are spending that kind of money on loot bags, you want them to be appreciated and enjoyed, right?

I remember one of the first years I did loot bags, I was discussing them with my friend Kim. She challenged me and asked me why I was doing them – was it to ‘keep up with the Jones’’? It was a different perspective…it made me think about the purpose of why we do give out goody bags.

Was it about keeping up with the Jones’? Honestly, the truth was that it wasn’t about that at all. I didn’t feel like I ‘had’ to provide them to ‘keep up’…I think it was really more of a cultural thing. The same way we eat cake at a birthday…there is often a loot bag given out. It felt a little more like tradition. I do remember being so excited to receive them at birthday parties when I was a child; it was fun to create the same kind of experience for the twins’ little friends!

But, here is the thing. This year, after planning an ‘off-site’ birthday party, extending invitations, and organizing the other food and details, I just don’t feel like I have the time or energy to do any more this year. On top of that, we have already spent a great deal of money on this party since it is off-site and since we have the twins (which makes our guest list a little longer). Shouldn’t that be enough?

On top of this, if I’m being totally honest, I have heard various parents comment on what is an acceptable loot bag standard and I feel like this does complicate how I approach planning loot bags. I mean, now I’m trying to find something perfect…for a reasonable price…for 14 kids…but not include what I have heard to be unacceptable loot-bag fare. Gah. In case you don’t know, here is a list of potentially unacceptable items:

…Dollar store ‘trinkets’ that break easily.

…Treats that other kids might not be permitted to eat.

…Items you may find age-appropriate but another parent doesn’t

So, now take that list and try to find something everyone will enjoy. Sounds so fun, right?

(Insert my head shaking ‘no’ here.

Isn’t a loot bag a gift? Should we really have to be so conflicted about what kind of items we ‘gift’ out?

Here is another point to consider…on the heels of talking about the fact that a loot bag is a ‘gift’…is it ‘necessary’ to be gifting children for coming to a birthday party in the first place? I mean, really…please come to our party where we have entertained you, fed you cake (and maybe snacks) and now let me give you a present for coming. Are we setting the right expectation for our kids by providing these every single year?

One thing that is really important to me as a parent is to raise my kids to be gracious and thoughtful and to not act or feel entitled. A part of me worries that my kids are going to expect that they need to receive a loot bag every time they go to a birthday party. I remember a friend of mind telling me a story about how, as a single parent, she put on a birthday party for her son. At the end of the party, a child basically chastised her since she hadn’t offered him a take-away. What??? Kind of horrible, right?

So…I’m not saying that I won’t ever do loot bags again but I do just want to say that, once in a while, we should just give them a break. I think that should be okay.

To my mom and dad friends who take the time and effort to send these home with my child…they are definitely appreciated! …BUT…I want you to know that having my child (or children for that matter) to your party is also ‘enough’.

In my opinion, it is totally okay to say ‘no’ to the loot bag. This year, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

#SayNoToTheLootBag     #NoBirthdayLoot     #NoLootForYou

February 5, 2017

Why have I been ignoring you??

I have been a bad, bad blogger – Have you felt neglected?

I’m really sorry if you did…I have been thinking about all of you (and this beloved blog) so much for all of this last month! I have missed you!

The thing is, something really unexpected happened very last minute right as we entered the new year – I went back to work full-time.

It isn’t permanent…it is a contract that will take me into spring…I’m really excited to have this opportunity but it has thrown my world completely upside down. For real.

Here’s the thing. I’m working for my ‘pre-kids’ employer…in a job that I LOVE…for a company I also really love…but it’s a lot and a really big change for our entire family. I went from my usual ‘life of leisure’ (or so we-will-call-it) to life in the fast lane working on over-drive! I think I may be running on adrenalin.

The last 30 or so days have been a ridiculous adjustment of ups and downs, pros vs cons, and sacrifices. If I’m just summarizing what the adjustment around this decision has felt like, here is rollercoaster I have experienced:

Upside: My old boss still thinks I’m capable!

Downside: Am I? What if I’m not? What if I fail AND sacrifice my family time while I’m at it?

 

Upside: My bank account will be replenished!

Downside: There is a cost to that – I had way less time with Gray, Miss A, and Darren and, literally, no days off as a family. Not even one in over a month!

 

Upside: It feels so good to have a piece of my old identity back! I am remembering I have a worth beyond being a mom and wife (please don’t send me hate-mail for saying this!  Huge props to all the full-time, stay-at-home parents out there!)

Downside: Is there a downside? If there is, I haven’t thought of it.

 

Upside: I’m keeping myself current in my field, with my employer, and my fingers in the ‘work-pie’.

Downside: Whoah! I’m on a HUGE learning curve since things have actually changed A LOT since I left! That doesn’t feel good when you’re trying to make good and efficient use of a short time. Also my perfectionist personality, that likes to have all of the information before going forward with decisions, is about to blow up!   …BUT, there isn’t time for that! Shall we ‘wing it’???

 

Upside: Oh, it feels nice to wear make-up again!

Downside: How do you apply make-up again?

 

Upside: Darren gets to see my hair in a hair-style other than ‘messy bun’!

Downside: Covering up gray hair is expensive! Also, why does my hair have to be so difficult? Pregnancy ruined it! That happens sometimes.

 

Upside: We can think about saving more aggressively for some spring ‘glamping’ projects we have planned!

Downside: I don’t have time to plan said ‘spring Glamping projects’.

 

Upside: I really like my co-workers!

Downside: I really miss my kids! …And even my husband!

 

Upside: Darren has really been pulling his weight around the house and has really worked hard to take on his share!

Downside: Hey! Why am I just discovering these ‘hidden talents’ now??

It is NOT easy working full-time AND parenting (…and running a small business…and being a blogger…).

I know this may be a controversial thing to say, but for me, it is much harder working outside the home than being home full-time. I want to still do all the same things I did before for my family – cook ‘clean’ food for my family, spend good quality time with my kids, have an organized home….but I simply can’t. Some of it, sometimes all of it, just has to be let go of. Today none of the beds got made, we ate pizza for dinner, and I have spent my evening fielding work calls. Now, as I am writing this blog post, Darren is relaxing and watching Netflix.

Romantic or what??

Honestly, overall, I’m glad to have the opportunity to work this contract. It gives me a chance to put in some time but still have the summer off and enjoy my last time at home with the twins before they start kindergarten in the fall. In the mean time, I’m adjusting….and learning to let some things go. That simply has to be okay.

So, bear with me please while I sort out how this whole ‘balance’ thing works for working parents! I do promise not to be away for so long next time!

xo

Dionne

January 3, 2017

Tips for Choosing and Registering Your Child in Preschool

If you’re anything like me, you may put a great deal of thought into most of the decisions you make and things you buy – And ‘Whether or not you send your child preschool’ OR ‘Which preschool you choose for your child’ won’t be the exception.

Because I wasn’t completely convinced that preschool was for our family, that was really the starting point for me. Actually, truth be known, I had decided against preschool all together for my duo – but a good friend encouraged me to reconsider our decision (based on the educational path we are hoping to take), so I gave it some more serious thought.

Really, that’s the first place to start – decide whether, or not, you want your child to attend preschool.

Things to Consider When Deciding Whether or Not to Send Your Child to Preschool:

Could this be an opportunity for my child to learn to socialize? Many parents worry that their child may not be well-socialized and consider pre-school an opportunity to introduce them to other children and being in an un-parented (not to be confused with ‘unsupervised’) environment.

Are academics important to me at this age? Many preschools offer a component of learning. There are also ‘play-based’ preschools if you prefer something a little more ‘casual’ for your child.

Do I need child-care and might like some fringe benefits a preschool might offer (more structured play or learning)? Preschools come in part-time and full-time form and could be an option if you need full-time care but want the additional structure or learning also. They don’t come without a price tag though.

Can I afford it? Without a doubt, preschool is an expense! …And if you are like us, with twins (or more), you can pretty much double the cost (sadly the ‘Two for the Price of One’ joke only applies to the ‘conception’ part of having twins).

Do I need a break? …OR… Am I willing to give up that time with my kids? Both are totally valid questions and I actually struggled both ways. I am always telling my husband I could use a break but somehow I also mourned at the thought of sending my duo to preschool (I actually wrote an entire blog post about my struggle with sending the kids to preschool on their first day, you can read it here).

…After thinking about all of these things, you may decide to pull the pin or you may decide to go forward with finding a preschool. If you decide against pre-school…that’s okay! As my friend Kim has been known to say, “There is no need to keep up with the Jones’!”

If you do decide to pursue finding an appropriate preschool, here is a list of things you may keep in mind.

How to Find and Appropriate Preschool:

Get recommendations from friends and people you trust – The first step I took was asking some of my trusted friends if they liked the preschools their children attended and ‘why’ they liked them.

Inquire to see if the preschool is fully licensed in your area – This ensures that they are held to a certain level of accountability. If you live in the Calgary, or even Alberta area, you may inquire about the preschool being fully licensed with the Alberta Government.

Find out if the preschool is ‘play-based’ or ‘academics-based’ – you may be looking for one or the other based on your wants or your child’s needs.

Understand what the teacher/student ratios look like – Obviously there is a benefit to having a lower ratio of students per teacher.

Inquire about what the teacher’s qualifications are – You may find there is a broad spectrum of qualifications different teachers have at different preschools.

Ask how, and how often, the school communicates with parents – you will likely be curious to get feedback regarding your child and it’s always nice to know what the school has planned for the day/week/month ahead.

What hours does the preschool operate? Some preschools run as little as a handful of hours per week and others are full-time. There are many options available out there to suit a variety of schedules!

Ask about the daily activities – What does a typical day look like? Will there be changing stations or variety offered?

Inquire about special events – Some preschools take initiative to put on special events such as Christmas or Winter Concerts, Picture Days, and Graduation Ceremony’s. I wouldn’t call these ‘deal-breakers’ but they could be a bonus if you are down to a couple of choices and looking for a deciding factor or wondering why one school may have higher fees than another.

Is there an open house you can attend? – Many preschools offer an open house at the preschool for you to attend with your child. This is a great way to see the environment and meet the teachers. You may also be invited to have a personal tour, which is usually set up by appointment. It’s definitely not a good idea to just show up, expecting a tour…be sure to call ahead to see if this is available.

Find out when registration starts – You may be surprised to hear that preschool registration can begin as early as January for a school year which begins the following September.  You won’t want to miss out on this important date!

Know if your preschool of choice tends to fill up – Some preschools are coveted and will fill up quickly. I remember one of my friends telling me she had experienced a line up at her preschool registration. I was totally not prepared to hear that, but I was happy to have the information.

…Good luck with your choice! It can be a difficult one to make, but hopefully you have some tools to get you started!  If you think I’ve missed something, please feel free to comment!