April 22, 2015


cloth napkins

My daughter is beautiful, inside and outside. Though I have to say, sometimes her outside is a mess. At every meal she ends up with a ridiculous amount of food on her face. We have no idea how she doesn't feel it. And if she is aware of the loaf of bread hanging from her lower lip, how does it not drive her nuts?! But alas, this is one of the many mysteries that make our Avery unique.
cloth napkins for kids

Left to her own devices, she would go through a dozen paper napkins in one sittingthat's a whole pile of unnecessary waste. We tried sending Avery to school with a pair of terrycloth wristbands to wear during lunch. Her occupational therapist gave us the idea, suggesting she use them to wipe her mouth. Good idea in theory, but she didn't like the way they felt on her wrists and the experiment failed.

Without the teacher or her EA facilitating, lunchtime is when Avery has an opportunity to interact with her peers independently. And though the kids at her table group graciously try to ignore the food on her chin, we are trying to teach her to get it together. :) 

We recently found sweet success with some cute, colourful, cottony cloth napkins called Funkins.

Avery is attracted to the patterns AND...to the "celebrity factor." The first time she brought in her butterfly and flower napkins, the girls in her class wanted to know where she got them because they wanted some too! Well, this made Avery love them even more.

I love them because they’re reusable/eco-friendly and made from high-quality, 100% cotton that’s soft to touch and holds up well in the wash. They’re pretty, practical (no more mustard on Avery's chin!) and good for the environment.

A few crumpled up paper towels at lunch may not seem like much, but added up, it's a heap! A whopping 3,460,000 TONS of paper towels and napkins end up in landfills every year. Gross. We can do better. Litterless Lunches are a good start.

* Ditch the juice boxes
* Pack lunches in reusable containers or go Bento Box style
* Use cloth napkins like Funkins instead of paper napkins
* Subscribe to the #LetsBeLitterFree lifestyle!

Here's a 60 second snapshot of 
Avery in action at school for lunch!  

Visit  myfunkins.com to choose from dozens of adorable patterns. I'm buying a few more so we'll have two week's worth (Avery likes to bring a different pattern to school every day and I *sometimes* fall behind on the laundry situation). Just wait until Avery sees the gymnastics patterned napkin. She's going to lose her Funkin mind! ;)

Let me know in the comments which patterns YOU like the best and give the Funkins peeps a shout on their Facebook page. 

Disclaimer: I am taking part in the Funkins blog campaign. While I have received compensation as part of my affiliation with this program, the opinions shared are mine (and Avery's too).

April 21, 2015

Help Given, Help Accepted

I can never bring myself to ask for help, even when I desperately need it. It seems I'd rather burn the candle at both ends than ask for a hand. I'm equal parts martyr and maniac in this regard. 

Though I acknowledged this character flaw FOUR YEARS ago I continue to refuse help when it's offered. I know I'm not the only one. Raise your hand if you feel me?

Oh dear. I see a lot of hands...

If we're peeling back the psychological layers here, for me it's about not wanting to admit that I can't do something myself. In my mind, nobody can do it as well as I can anyway. But mostly, it's about not wanting to put anyone out.

BUT here's the thing...I feel wonderful whenever I'm able to help somebody. There are loads of scientific studies to prove that helping others, helps us. Fact: People WANT to help.

People like Sheila, an assistant branch manager at BMO. "We're not just bankers," she says, "We're people first." Just watch how Sheila and her people helped a young man named Arash in an unexpected and touching way.

Take three minutes to watch this video—being helpfully humane to another human is a beautiful thing.

Bank of Montreal’s new campaign, #HelpGiven demonstrates their commitment to helping their customers. BMO employees are truly the “we” in “We’re Here to Help."

Arash gratefully accepted said help (nicely done Arash) and took the day off. BMO employees (not a contrived scenario for the sake of a video—these are indeed real employees) stepped in to successfully take over the deli for the day, while Arash spent some well deserved R&R at a local Toronto hotel as a BMO special guest.

Thank you BMO for revealing the compassion behind the corporation. This is the kind of feel good story we need to see more of online. Kudos.

To join the "Arash's Day Off" conversation on Twitter, follow the hashtags #HelpGiven or #BMOdayoff.

Disclosure: This post was proudly sponsored by BMO. As always, the opinions shared here are mine, all mine. And pay if forward stories like this? I'm always happy to share. 

April 19, 2015

I Made This Mess—Now It’s Time To Clean It Up

It’s not that I’m a “neat freak” exactlyI just prefer my environment (home, office, car, the world) to be orderly. Does this make me neurotic? Maybe, but my brain just functions better when the space around me is organized.

Even as a kid, I made my bed every morning without being asked. I’m not talking hospital corners, but at the very least, the comforter was pulled smooth. Apart from some Barbies lying around or a few sweaters draped over my desk chair, my room was always well appointed.

My brother was pretty tidy too.* And today, all grown up, his workshop is super organized—there is a place for everything. Labeled even. And don't even get me started about his highly efficient laundry system. It's a thing of beauty. We’re both giant weirdos, aren’t we? No response needed, thank you. 

I really have no idea what our mom did to make us this way. She never nagged (not about tidying anyway... Hi mom!). We just knew that keeping our rooms neat was our responsibility, so we did it willingly and peacefully.

So now that I have two children, I expect the same from them. Unreasonable? There are many who say, yes.

A friend told me recently that her son’s room is, and I quote, “A f*cking disaster.” She says she fears for her life whenever she opens the door to his bedroom. When I asked why she didn’t just tell him to clean his room she said, “It’s his space. If he wants to live in a pigsty, it’s his choice. I just don’t want to see it.”

Me: *twitching*

At the fear of confirming control issues, as long as our son lives under our roof, I expect him to respect the rules of our home. I don’t think there is anything wrong with teaching a child organization skills and the value of taking care of his belongings.

My husband and I have told him from early on that his room is his space, and as such, he is responsible for keeping it tidy—this includes making his bed, picking up his toys, dusting, vacuuming, bringing his laundry down to be washed, and putting away his clean clothes. This isn't much to ask considering how much parental units do around the house every day.

Our son, eleven going on twenty two, is one of the most helpful kids you’ll ever meet, for real. And for a few years, we had a really good run at this tidy room thing. Then his sister came along...

Due to limitations resulting from her developmental delays, I did a lot for her in the early days. My son understands and accepts why. However, I felt guilty about it. So if I was putting away her clothes, I started putting my son’s too. And sorting his socks. And arranging the shirts in his closet by colour and sleeve length. And…. I've really screwed things up.

Taking over and doing everything for both of my kids is doing them a disservice.

Avery is nearly nine and she doesn’t need me to put away her clothes anymore. She can do a lot of it by herself. Instead, she steps out of her pajamas and leaves them lying on her floor. Not because she's lazy, but because she's been taught that mummy will pick them up.

Her once tidy big bro has been slacking too. Empty drinking glasses, snack wrappers, dirty socks, Lego bricks, crumpled bits of paper…are just some of the items strewn around his room, waiting for the maid to happen along to pick them up.

Mummy maid made this mess and now it's time to clean it up. 

So it's time. NO MORE ENABLING. Admittedly, this is difficult for me. It's just so much faster and more efficient when I do it myself. Did I say something about control issues earlier? Anyway, doing everything for my kids tells them subconsciously that:
1. It's okay to make a mess in life because somebody will always come along to clean it up.
2. My parents don't trust me to do a good job. And things must always be perfect.
3. Being organized is an overwhelming task. It's better let an adult do it.
4. Taking pride in your personal space and living environment isn't important.
5. My parents have spelled out my responsibilities, but it's all talk. If I leave a mess long enough, my mum will cave and clean it up.
6. Never throw anything away. Having "stuff" matters, so keep it all—even if you don't have room for it.
On that last note, what kind of message are we sending our kids whose rooms are busting at the seams with material items? If they have too much stuff to keep organized, they probably have too much stuff. Simple as that. Perhaps it's time to pare it down? Passing along books and toys and clothes that are no longer used, to a family in need, is an important lesson to teach our children.

My daughter won't always have me around to do things for her. She needs to learn how to care for herself and for her space. She gets overwhelmed by piles of laundry, sorting socks is difficult and hanging up clothes is a challenge. So obviously I will continue to help, when she needs it, but I need to let her try. And if her pajama drawer looks like this? It's okay. Her PJs needn't be neatly folded and arranged by tops/bottoms & long sleeve/short sleeves. That's the way I would do it. This is the way she is able to do it and it's perfect because... she's learning to do it on her own.

To make her bedroom housekeeping easier, we've arranged Avery's closet in such a way that she can access her things easily and she knows where everything goes at a glance.

If it's safe, provide a stepping stool to reach higher items (we had to take the stool away for now since she keeps falling off it. Oye).  PJs, underwear, socks and shorts are kept in a dresser.

There are lots of children who for many reasons—physically and/or mentally—legitimately struggle with keeping their rooms straight and they need help. My son however, is not one of these children. He CAN sort socks and hang clothes, toss garbage into his waste paper basket, and put stacks of books back onto his bookshelf.  He just chooses not to.

My enabling has done this. Now, it's time to undo it. So grab a garbage bag kiddos, it's time to have at it! I'll be downstairs making myself a sandwich.

Do you expect your children to keep their rooms tidy? Or do you subscribe to the "It's their space, so who cares?" line of thinking? Any tips for making it easier for kiddos to better manage their bedrooms? 

* So my brother was actually a bit of a slob. My memories are clearly tainted. I talked to my mum today and she said my brother's room was a disaster. SHE cleaned up after him all the time. So, um, er.... 

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April 11, 2015

Never Shave Again?!

hairy legs

If you give a care about having less hair, please allow me to wax poetically about the pros and cons of laser hair removal. First, I should tell you that this post is not sponsored. I paid for this experience with my own dollhairs. I actually got a package deal on sale on Black Friday—a friend sang the praises of this particular laser salon, Chi-Chi Laser Studios, so when I saw the deal pop up, I grabbed it.

If you're considering laser hair removal you could do your own research on the subject or simply read this post to ‘shave off’ some time. (Sorry, but c’mon… so many puns.).

I’m not particularly hairy, and even so, I rarely parade around in a bathing suit, so why would I even consider getting lasered? Let me enlighten you. Be warned, there are some TMI bits ahead, so if you’re a dude or god forbid my dad, stop reading here ~~> ! Wait, scratch that bit about the dudes. Super hairy guys, absolutely read on. Men can (and many SHOULD) look into this. If there is no distinguishing line between the back of your head and your lower back, definitely keep reading.

I have never waxed (minus the time I spilled hot candle wax on my foot). However, I have been sugared, which is not as sweet as it sounds. It’s essentially the same as waxing, but what it lacks in heat, it makes up for in gooey excruciating pain. Plus like waxing, it doesn’t last long. It’s all 'sugar, scream, sprout, repeat…' So to keep things under control, I shave every second day-ish.

Now, if you want to train your armpit hair to cascade down your sides or let your lady garden flourish, go for it. No judgement here. I grew up in the 1980s and perhaps as a way to set ourselves apart from the bushy generation before us, the 80s were quite anti body hair. Bald was beautiful, especially below the belt. Wait, not Kim Kardashian bald. Just more, “neatly groomed.” While we’re on the subject, what’s the difference between the amount of hair removed? Basically…

Bikini—any hair that would show beyond the lines of your bikini bottom are zapped.
This photo *may* have been doctored ever so slightly.

Brazilian—same as the bikini situation, but the hair under your bikini bottom to some extent (that’s up to you), is also removed right around to the back, leaving only a strip of hair in the front—the width depends on your preference and is sometimes referred to as a “landing strip.”

Bald—think, “bald as a baby’s bottom.” Thanks to the Kardashians, this has become a trend. I won’t judge but… it's permanent folks + bald at 70 + ew

Why would I do this now? Two reasons:

1. Bumps! I have very sensitive skin. Within an hour of shaving, any part of my underarm in contact with the seam of my shirt becomes red, raised and sore. The same goes for my bikini line area, but worse. And it’s especially bad during hot weather or when I swim. The chafing, my god, the chafing. So no hair there means a smooth, happy me.

2. If not now, then never. The laser detects pigment, zapping darkish hair follicles to oblivion. If you are fair or going grey, you’re out of luck since light coloured hairs are stealth little buggars that are essentially invisible to the laser. A few months ago I noticed two stray white hairs under my left arm. After I screamed, I decided to get this done before it’s too late for me in my advancing age.
soprano xl laser
Watch how it works here!

What does laser treatment involve exactly? 

Depending on the laser studio you choose—they are NOT all created equal—it's easy, quick and painless. Shave the night before your treatment. Do not wear deodorant or skin creams of any kind. The process takes only minutes. It really is painless and the best part, the results are amazing.

Pros and Cons… 

Con: Pride. Most of us blush at the idea of being all, you know, exposed. Some of us are shy that way.

Pro: It’s done very discreetly. You're covered by a gown—you're exposed no more than you would be at the beach. Well, at the beach lying on the sand with your legs spread apart. Haha. And for those considering a Brazilian, I asked a friend who had it done and she confirmed that you're not on your hands and knees which is what I assumed happened. You're in fact, lying on your side with your pride fully intact.

Con: Pain. It's true, some laser treatments hurt like a son of a...

Pro: Not to split hairs, but it's all about the kind of laser. The Soprano XL machine is magical. Your technician waves the wand over the area and after a few passes, the skin begins to heat up. When it gets to the point of discomfort, it's over. The first treatment is admittedly uncomfortable, but manageable, but subsequent treatments (as only the fine hairs remain) are completely painless. 

Con: Cost. This the only negative for me and it's the one aspect keeping me from doing my legs at the moment.

Pro: Promotions! They come up often and make laser more affordable. Chi-chi has monthly specials, so keep your eye on their website for updates. For month of April they're offering this special...

If you're on the fence, you can try it out for FREE. 
Click the link below for details.

*Warning: once you try it, you'll be hooked. So take advantage of the promotions. :)

Since I promised to wax, er laser, poetically, 
I'll just leave this "Hairless Haiku" right here.