Friday, 27 March 2015

Frozen yogurt bites--easy and quick snack for kids

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So the thing is, when you're stuck on the couch coping with bed rest, going stir crazy and feeling incredibly guilty that you can't take care of your family the same way that you used come up with quick ideas that will make your kids happy. Because mommy guilt will do that to you. So this post is a quick one--with a quick idea that you can whip up tonight and put into your kids hands, and I promise you they'll love it.

We're heading into only about two more weeks left until my due date, which means that the fear of baby coming way too early has started to decrease and it's now just a matter of me trying to cope with all of the crazy contractions that come and go throughout the day and night...little signs that my body is prepping for the big day that could come now at any point. Our hospital bags are packed (kind of) nesting checklist is dwindling, baby blankets are neatly folded and bags full of both blue and pink newborn clothes have been pulled out--anticipating the big surprise. I can't believe that I'll be holding a newborn and our life will forever be changed in only a matter of a week or two. One moment I'm chasing after my beloved kindergarten kids at school (as I wrote about here), and the next moment I'm at home, ready to kiss newborn cheeks and introduce this new little soul to both Mya and Carter. Life just doesn't stop for a moment. Thank goodness.  

So as I dream of tiny toes and pudgy newborn cheeks...and panic about sleep deprivation, recovery time and how I'm actually going to pull of this whole three kids, 4 yrs old and under gig, I am also aware that my kids still need me to pretend that life is normal. Mom is fine. Everything is just as it always has been. So I took some time to come up with a little after school snack for these two--something that was new, different and that they would actually love and eat.

So after searching online for healthy snack ideas, I found this little snack that I knew that my kids would devour. And the bonus was that I could make it quickly while just sitting at my kitchen table for only a few minutes.

It's super easy, super quick to make and something that I promise they'll actually like.  

Frozen yogurt bites.

It's as simple as that. Drops of yogurt, placed in the freezer, then pulled out to outstretched arms, eager to dig in. They'll love them.

This is how I made them: 

Use whatever yogurt you prefer. 

Take a small Ziplock bag, fill it with yogurt then cut a tiny hole in one corner of the bag. Careful that it doesn't all spill out though! 

Squeeze tiny drops of yogurt onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.

Then place them in the freezer until they harden.

Then when your kids get home, pull them out and try with all of your might to grab them off of the cookie sheet and put them into cute little bowls for the kids to try--or, as you can see here...just forget it, and let them at 'em. No time for a pretty presentation. They took one look at them, pulled up a chair to the counter and barely took time for a breath through each bite.

Which is actually a good thing--because they start to melt if you leave them out for too long. We didn't have that problem here though.

Give 'em a try. They're delicious.

Back to bed for me.

Have a great weekend everyone,
Erica xo

Monday, 16 March 2015

Mommy guilt and one-on-one time

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It's those quiet nights when my mind starts to wander.

My mind starts to try to envision what life will be like as we welcome a new baby into this house. My mind tells me that I'm beyond excited for this new phase in our life. But my mind also sneaks in moments of guilt, knowing that it will become a balancing act of giving each of our children enough one-on-one attention so that they all know exactly how much they are loved, and never question it for even a moment.

So last night was good for me. Good for Mya. Good for all of us. Because we had her all to ourselves. A whole night of just her, Terry and I. Daddy/Mommy/Mya time, we call it. Because if you give it a name, it feels even more special.

Carter went to my parents house for the night so that Terry and I could get a full nights sleep...because even 2yr olds know when life is about to change. So, just like Mya did when she was only 2yrs old--and just weeks before I gave birth to her little brother, Carter has decided that sleep isn't a necessity anymore. So waking us up a million times a night just for some extra cuddles from mom is necessary...because our sweet little Carter (the biggest mama's boy that I know), somehow knows that baby is coming very soon and mom might be more occupied than usual. So my wonderful parents offered to bring him to their house for a sleep over, so we could get some much needed sleep.

And do you know what that meant? It meant that Mya wanted to go too.

So we quickly switched her thinking, and instead of her feeling left out from experiencing a fun sleep over at Nana and Papa's house, we told her that this means that we get her all to ourselves...mommy/daddy/Mya time. And we built up the night for her so that she was more excited about staying home than leaving--because we knew how important this was for her, for us, for me especially. Because one-on-one time is so incredibly important. And it's something that we try to do with each of our kids whenever we can.

So we got her into her jammies, snuggled her between us on on the couch, got her a little bowl full of treats (not the usual boring healthy snack before bedtime that she is usually used to), stayed up late and had a movie night--just the three of us. So as Frozen flashed across the screen in front of us, she laid her head on our shoulders and we snuggled, kissed her head, told her how special this time was and she soaked up every last minute of it. Because she had us all to herself. All the attention on her. And she loved it.

Then when bedtime finally did come, it just got better.

"You and daddy can both put me to bed tonight!", she said. Because the reality is that one of us always puts Carter to bed and the other always puts Mya to bed. But last night...well, she had us both, all to herself.

So we read bedtime stories, tucked her into bed and within seconds the words "Lay with me mommy and daddy" passed her lips, which was not surprising. So we crammed into that little single bed, Terry in the middle, Mya on one side, me on the other--and we pretended that we were comfortable, because having us both there meant the world to her. So I wrapped my arms around Terry and held on for dear life as I hung off the edge of the bed as my huge pregnant belly pushed me aside, and she snuggled into us--loving every breath that we breathed over her in the still of her dark, warm room.

"This is a little ridiculous", Terry smiled and whispered to me at one point as I was literally about to fall off of the bed.

"Shhh..." I said to him. "This is important to her. Let her have us. She'll remember this. She'll remember how it feels".

And she will.

And Carter will have his turn next in a few days.

Because one-on-one time, whether it's for only a few moments in the morning at the breakfast table, a moment before bedtime tucking small people into bed, a trip to the grocery store with only one child, or a whole day built especially for them--it means that they feel loved, without distractions. And there is nothing greater than that.

Erica xo    


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Celebrating baby and bed rest

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Bed rest. 

It's something that I'm unfortunately all too familiar with. 

Third pregnancy--third bed rest. 

It's just what my body seems to do apparently. It decides at about 34 weeks that it's time to hand over the eviction notice to any baby growing inside of me, and it starts the process of slowly easing this new life into the real world. So OB's put a halt to it quickly, and tell me to stop chasing after 26 kindergarten students all day long, get off my feet as much as I can, sleep whenever I'm able to and basically take it easy until baby is actually ready to be delivered. So here I am again, wanting so badly to meet this little soul who is kicking me all day long and letting me know that he/she is ready to meet us...but desperately trying to convince him/her to stay put for at least a few more weeks. 

So the couch has become my new home. Netflix has become my entertainment. And trying to keep myself from nesting, doing house chores and prepping for baby has been my challenge. And with a 2yr old and a 4yr old not exactly understanding why mom can't do the same things she was able to do only a couple of weeks ago, it means that I've had to become creative in keeping them entertained, while keeping myself at least in a sitting position. 

But in the midst of the stress, worry and fear that always come from knowing that your baby might come early, there was something that stole my fear away for just a couple of hours. A good distraction. A good sense of normalcy. A great group of friends. 

My mom and sister put together a little gathering--a small group of girlfriends, all coming to celebrate this baby, this new life and this huge change that we're about to undertake. 

And kids? Well, for the first time in over 4yrs, we decided to leave them at home instead of including them. Because we know that moms need a break sometimes. Moms need to be able to sit and chat, and eat and drink and socialize without having to chase after toddlers, feed hungry babies, rush to the bathroom with a newly potty trained kid, or break up silly fights over toys. Sometimes parents just need a break from it all. So although we would have loved to have had the husbands spend time with us as well, we invited the girls only, knowing that the husbands could then stay at home with the kids. 

And do you know what happened? After the words "This is so nice to have quiet and to know that we can just sit and actually talk to each other without the kids needing us or running around" came out of several people's mouths...we of course spent the majority of the time talking about our kids. Because as much as we all need a break sometimes--we love them, adore them, miss them and think about them every time that we're away from them. 

But the silence was beautiful. Oh it was so beautiful. 

And it was soooooo lovely because wine was poured, hot appetizers were served, people were relaxed, girl talk was happening and we could just sit and be still. Which is a complete rarity, as any parent surely knows. 

So people spent time suggesting baby names for us--since our short list exists, but we haven't nailed one down yet.

Delicious food was set out...

Wishes for the new baby were made...

Jars of candy were set out and ready to be won...

Drinks were poured...

Gift baskets full of chocolates were taken home...

Envelopes were left out for the ease of future thank you cards...

And we all sat, ate, drank and chatted...

in the silence of a house full of only adults.

3 girls on their 3rd pregnancy again together!

So once the last glass of wine (or sparkling juice, for a few of us) was poured, when the last appetizer was served and once the last guest packed up her things to go...of course the first thing that I did was call Terry to bring the kids over to mom and dad's house. Because 2hrs was just enough of a break before wanting them back in my arms again.

So within minutes of their arrival, the house burst with noise, movement, laughter and toddler tears. Just as it's supposed to.

And they put on puppet shows on the new stage that their Papa built just for them in their basement that's in the midst of being renovated into a big playroom specifically for them...

and they put on real shows where they danced, sang and tested out their new stage with an audience of family members who cheered them on after every performance.

A little glimmer of sunshine in all of this--it's probably the best therapy for a mom stuck on the couch.
Thanks mom and Jen and our wonderful girlfriends who broke up the stress and worry of being on bed rest for to you all.

Love Erica xo

Friday, 27 February 2015

Teaching and being a mom

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It's this strange place that I'm in right now. This strange place of waiting, wishing and anxiously anticipating the arrival of this new baby. But on the other hand, I'm in this place of mourning the loss of my job, sad to leave my kids and friends at school and anxious about the beginning of something new--something unknown, but something so incredibly familiar.

Newborn Carter
Sometimes it's better to be oblivious. For it all to be new and unknown. Sometimes it's better to go in blindfolded, maybe even a little naive--because then the anticipation feels a bit different. The anticipation of a baby completely changing your life, but having no idea what that really means is where I was at before.

Mya-5months old

It was where I was at during those final days of my first pregnancy--and it was where I was at during those final days of my second pregnancy. Because having your first baby is full of unknowns.

Pregnant with Mya

Then having your second is full of even more unknowns since you're now learning how to manage two under two.

But now? Well, I know what it feels like to look after a newborn and a toddler--so add a four year old to mix, and well, you've just got to let the love and chaos continue.

*Mya and Carter, just after he was born

But this strange place that I'm in right now is complicated, because the countdown is on until my last day of work. And I'm certainly looking forward to the short rest period that I will get before this baby comes--because teaching kindergarten while just weeks away from delivering a baby is absolutely exhausting. But my students--my babies--the ones who make my job so rewarding...the ones who make me smile and laugh and who make me get up each morning and feel so grateful that I have a job that I adore...well, I'll miss them terribly.

And no, it's not always easy. Great doesn't always mean easy. Love doesn't always mean easy. It's not easy when they cry on the floor or whine at my leg. It's not easy when they hit and scream and lose their temper. It's not easy when they forget to listen or forget their manners completely. Teaching little people is not always easy, but it is still the best, most rewarding, amazing job that there ever could be.

Teaching means that you have days when the world is a beautiful place. Where learning is happening right before your eyes. Where hugs are given out like candy and where you are privileged enough to actually witness a child's development and progress right before your eyes. It's where you get to snuggle little people who need some extra love and where the words "I'm so proud of you" get to pass by your lips a million times a day. And so on those days during this teaching career when I drive home with tears in my eyes, trying to pull myself together before picking up my own kids, because the life story of a child in my care is more traumatic than anything you could even imagine. Or when you sit down with your husband and break down after school because you find out that one of your own little ones is on her way to a shelter. Or when you stay up all night worrying about that child who you have called Child and Family Services on over and over again. Well, those are the days when your heart breaks. Those are the days when you can't breathe. Those are the days when you come home and tell your husband that he should expect that at some point in this career of mine I'll be bringing a student home to live with us...a child who has nowhere else to go. And he looks at me and smiles, not surprised at all--but maybe a bit terrified because he knows I'm not kidding.

So you do whatever you can in the meantime to ease the lives of these little people who break your heart. You go out late at night and scour the aisles for the perfect bedding--beautiful comforter sets and sheets for a student and her sister who barely have a place to sleep, let alone blankets and sheets. And you come home and show your husband the bill, completely blowing the budget that didn't even exist in the first place--because it just didn't matter how much it cost. And he nods his head at you, knowing that it's important, necessary and something that will not necessarily take away the pain of these children--but it will for a moment let her and her sister know that someone cares. Someone loves them. And they'll remember it every time that they pull those covers up and lay their heads down to sleep each night.

It's the times when you pull warm mitts over cold hands, or sneak Christmas presents to the parents who you know are going through hard times. It's the times when you comfort a child who just needs to talk or who needs a shoulder to cry on and it's the times when you pull a child aside just to let them how how great you think they are--because you know they're not hearing it at home. It's those times in this teaching career that remind you of why you are really doing this. It's those times that remind you that teaching is not simply about teaching the curriculum. It's those times that can sometimes change the life of another young human being.

      So this teaching job--this's more than just a job to me. It's people. It's relationships. It's meaningful, and hard and amazing and rewarding. It's heartbreaking and wonderful all at the same time. So leaving this life--leaving my kids and my wonderful teaching partner who make me excited to come to work every day, well it will be hard.

So, I'll sit here in this strange place. This place of coming to the end of a pregnancy that is now so familiar to me, but still full of so many unknowns. This place of leaving the work, the wonderful teaching partner and the kids who I love in order to move towards my other life dream of having a family--being a mom my kids another sibling and meeting this little person who has been growing inside of me for all of these months. This little person who we are so incredibly in love with already.

So you see, it's a bit of a roller coaster ride--this whole teaching thing--full of ups and downs, highs and lows, and laughter and tears--which is ironic...because it's exactly what being a mom feels like.

Erica xo

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Pirate birthday party on the fly

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I was looking through some old photos today while both kids were snuggled tight into their beds and I came across a ton of pictures that I had already forgotten about. This is maybe what happens when you take a ridiculous amount of pictures--you store them away, waiting for the time when you have a moment to sit down and scroll through them, deleting the repeats and smiling at the happy ones and remembering what those moments in time were like. Because you probably wouldn't have taken your camera out that day if it wasn't supposed to be memorable. 

But as I scanned through the hundreds of pictures all stored away for a moment like now, I found some pictures that made me smile--made me laugh.  

And this moment in time that I found through these particular photos was a time when I was a pregnant, bronchitis suffering mama. Bronchitis that stole my days and nights for over a month, because strong drugs to cure it quickly weren't really an option with my pregnant belly continuing to grow. So it brought me back to those days back in October of this year, when my boy was turning 2 and my girl was turning 4. Their birthdays, just weeks apart, were coming up, and their mom was a mess. Because never-ending bronchitis without drugs will just about destroy you. And although I tried with all of my might to make it happen--the birthday party details were made and bought, the date was set, the list was made...I just couldn't get it together. I was just so sick. So mama guilt was eating me alive. 

And do you know what happens when mama guilt eats you alive? Well, you try to compensate. You try to make it better. Make look at your kids and you wish that you could give them what you had hoped for...and when you can't, you pretend that you can. 

So I told my family that we'd still give them a pirate party--the pirate party that Mya had been wishing for, dreaming about, talking about and wishing for...because both of these little kids were obsessed with pirates. So a pirate party HAD to happen. It just had to happen. But it just had to happen on a very small scale. So I called my family and told them that we'd do a family dinner, as we usually do, but we'd have pirate cups and plates...and call it a pirate party, and pretend that it was a pirate party, because mama guilt makes you try to make things better. 

But do you know what happened instead? 


We showed up at mom and dad's house to a family of pirates--eye patches, creepy pirate wigs (I can't even look at Jeff without cracking up), bandannas, handmade pirate hooks...

and a paint stir stick as a sword...compliments of my creative and resourceful father who dug through bins in his basement to find a costume that would make his grandkids smile.

So with a thrilled little girl and boy now ready to party...a pirate party was put together on the fly..literally put together the morning of. Thanks to a great family who knew how important it was to Terry and I to make our kids day.

So we brought out the pirate cups and napkins, bought for the big party that never came to be... 

and quickly put together a scavenger hunt for hidden treasure...literally in the middle of the celebration

and little people ran around the house searching for the next clue, leading them to their final prize...

....a treasure chest full of chocolate coins and treasures which just thrilled them to bits.

And I pulled out the coloured rice that I had just used in my classroom to have the kids search for hidden letters, and we turned it into a hunt for treasures, rings and jewels instead.

And we turned what was supposed to be one of my crazy, time consuming fondant cakes into a simple brownie, ice cream cake, topped last minute with eye patches and pirate jewels. And they didn't know the difference.

So to anyone out there looking to throw a a little inspired to just go for it. Last minute and all. And although I still love the process of putting together parties like I have in the past, there is something just as wonderful about putting together a small gathering of just family, who show up...who dress up...and who show our kids and myself a type of love that I can never repay them for. Because they gave our kids what a very sick mom couldn't that day. They gave our kids a party that they'll always remember.
Erica xo

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