Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's That Time of Year

And so it is back to school for children all over North America. For those of you mothers with kids heading back, or starting school for the first time, the season may bring a host of challenges: getting kids up on time, making breakfasts in a hurry, helping your little one(s) catch the bus, or perhaps driving them to school... is their hair done, are their faces clean, do they have their books, do they have their lunch and what IS for lunch?
Even though my little one isn't school age yet, I have been getting excited about lunches. Well, not lunches in general, but a certain "type" of lunch for moms and kids on the go.... and perhaps even dads? So, whether your kids are in school or not, if you're a mom on the go and want to pack healthy, fun lunches for you and your kiddo(s), I just thought I'd share a link that I have been enjoying lately.
Okay, so maybe we don't all have time to be THAT creative, but even if I could be HALF that creative with a lunch I'm sure eating in the car between grocery runs, doctor's visits, playgroup and errands would be not only that much more fun, but SO much more healthy.
You can find tons of Bento merchandise on Amazon, and if you're lucky enough to have a Japanese grocery store in your area, most carry Bento boxes and accessories as well.
Happy packing, and bon appetite!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Newbie All Over Again

I never truly realized before having a child just how amazing my own mother was and is. I think about all the degrees she had and how she gave up the potential to have a wonderful career to be a stay at home mom and invest all her time in her children. I think of how she baked and cooked almost everything from scratch and kept a garden in the summer, providing us with a bounty of fresh produce. I think of how she read to us at night, investing in our imaginations and expanding out literary horizons. I think of all the hours she spent in the car driving us to music lessons, dance classes, museums, the library and a host of  fabulous field trips. Lastly, but certainly not least, I think of all the long, patient minutes she spent washing, combing, braiding, curling and twisting my hair into so many fun creations.
I never realized what a huge challenge this last task must have been for her. You see, my mother has very thin and very fine hair that she has always kept rather short. I have very thick hair that I have always kept rather long. I am sure my mother never braided crowns into her own hair, or had to use 45 bobby pins to keep her own bun in place... so what motivated her to invest so much creativity into her daughter's unruly mane?
That is the question I am learning the answer to thanks to my own daughter with hair incredibly different from my own. My daughter's hair is still baby hair, for sure, but I can already tell that it is going to be fairly thick.... and it is full of curls! Although my mother gave me the desire and ability to take care of and have fun with my own hair, I have never had to work with anything too opposite of my thick and somewhat wavy mess. Now with my little one, I feel like I have never brushed or styled hair in my life! If I brush it, it turns to frizz; when I wash it, I struggle to get to her scalp; when I dry it, it matts into a horrible tangle; when I put it in pigtails, the little curls pull themselves out..... and how do I make her sit still?
This week, I decided to take some time to read, research, and find out some tricks to taking care of my daughter's unique hair. I learned only to comb it when it is wet, never to dry it with a towel, to give it as much moisture as I can, to use little elastics instead of little cloth scrunchies and most importantly, to sit her down in front of Pink Panther cartoons on youtube until the 'do is complete.
A little time invested goes a very long way. My toddler is less squirmy when it's time to do her hair, she fusses less at bath time as I'm washing (and no longer drying) it, and she has rocked some pretty stunning little styles with not too much effort on my part. I hope that by learning about her hair and it's particulars, I can give her the same excitement and appreciation for her hair and it's uniqueness that I have for my own. I want her to grow up happy and thankful for how she was created, and this is just one way that I am trying to do that!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Challenge Update

It has now been one week since I started cloth diapering my 17 month old in an effort to be more health and eco conscious, and to prove to myself simply that I can do it. Here is an update of the happinesses and headaches of a fluffy-bummed child.

Happiness: 1. I am indeed pleased with the decrease in the ammount of garbage coming from the nursery. 2. There is a small joy in knowing that there are no chemicals or toxins coming in contact with my toddler's delicate (and often sensetive) skin. 3. I am already saving money by nixing disposables (except when we have been out for the day). 4. The extra work I am encountering with cloth is not quite so much work as I expected.

Headache: 1. I already know this particular system is not the system for us. Let me reitterate that because I am entering this challenge with no up front cost (ie: the diapers and cover were loaned to me), I didn't get to choose what type of cloth diapers to use. 2. This actually goes along with number 1: the Kushies system we are using at the moment is not very travel friendly. 3. If I do end up cloth diapering for good, I will DEFINITELY invest in a diaper sprayer.

One concern I had before starting this challenge was the stink. Honestly, it's not that bad. I keep our diaper pail in the bathroom next to the toilet for convenience and so that the curious little one doesn't get into it. I decided to use the dry pail method, so I just rinse any matter out of the diaper in the toilet, give it a little wring and stick it in the pail. Every once in a while I sprinkle a little baking soda into the pail just in case. I have been washing the diapers every other day (that gives me a half load in our large capacity washing machine) and hanging them to dry. My method for washing: put diapers in the washer with 1/4 cup of baking soda and let the tub fill with cold water. I then stop the cycle and let the diapers soak for a few hours (I started out letting them soak over night, then moved to about five hours and the last load I only had time to let them soak for two hours, which still worked just fine). After soaking, I continue the cycle. Once the first cycle is done, I then switch to a hot/cold cycle, put detergent in (a bit less than what is recommended on the detergent label), and add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener cup. I read on a cloth diapering forum that adding vinegar restores the ph of the diapers after soaking in baking soda. My results? The diapers are very clean coming out of the washer, they dry relatively fast on the line, then I throw them in the dryer for five minutes just to soften them up. There is NO STINK! The baking soda and vinegar works very well and I have not had to use any amonia or bleach to remove odors or stains. The only thing I could complain about is that there is a slight lingering vinegar smell in my washer now, but it doesn't seem to effect other loads of laundry.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rainy Day Reading

It is a wet and raining, dreary and chilly Wednesday morning, the kind of day that is perfect for curling up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a good book. My life has changed a little in the last 17 months: instead of reading the latest by Jodi Picoult,  a beautiful old classic from my growing collection or an enlightening biography, I'm reading a smattering of children's rhymes and simple stories printed on pages full of colourful and creative artwork. There is a little angel curled up next to me holding her frog in one hand and her milk in the other. My coffee is on the side table. Cold again.
17 months ago, cold coffee would have vexed me, but today I can only think of how blessed I am to have the life I've been given. As I thought about what to write this morning, I thought of how appropriate it would be to make a small list of rainy day reading. These are our three favourite books right now.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt.
This book is a very old classic children's book full of simple sentances and fun activities. Elysia now says "peek-a-boo" at the appropriate page, and "oh, wow" when she looks in the mirror. This book was first published in 1940, and is still well loved by children everywhere.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
An adorable, mushy little story about parent and child rabbits describing how much they love each other. Sweet illustrations by Anita Jeram are fun and imaginative. This is Elysia's favourite bedtime story.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
This book is illustrated by none other than the very talented Eric Carle. Need I say more? Each page is a different animal of a different colour. A great tool for teaching colours, animals and the sounds they make. Elysia's favourite thing about this book though, is the fly leaf with it's rainbow of colours. She points to each one and waits for me to name it. Over and over. I could recite this book by heart.

 Now that I have listed said three favourite books and breakfast break is clearly over, I think I'll snuggle back into the living room and read some more.