That Agape Family

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Tag: books (page 1 of 2)

What a Load of… Oh?

When I was pregnant with Little Miss, 5 years ago, a friend of mine lent me a few books. This was one of them:

I remember, as she handed this book to me, she said “I barely had to change a poopy diaper after 6 months!” Well, the eager beaver that I was, I dove right in, with my little bundle of joy still growing inside.

I think I got to either chapter 3 or 4, and decided that it was “a load of hooey”. This might have been all well and good for a mama living in southern British Columbia, where they barely saw a snowflake, and the temperatures stayed well above 0 (celcius) the majority of the time, but for this Mama, that just wasn’t going to fly.

Well, fast forward to when Little Miss was just shy of 6 months, and I commented in my Crunch Mommy Group (it’s true, I joined it for the cloth diapering advice, and stayed for the overwhelming support and natural parenting techniques) that Little Miss tended to pee when I put her in the Bumbo Seat. I would regularly give her diaper free time, and found this to be the result. Someone commented that it was natural for them to pee like that, and that I should consider Elimination Communication (EC). Really? Well, sure. Why not? What did I have to lose?

Well, the next day, on the day she turned 6 months, we woke up, and I tried putting her on the potty (I sat down toward the back of the toilet, and put her between my legs), thinking that I looked ridiculous, and this whole concept is insane. Then, she peed. Seriously. 6 months. We gave it a go the next day and she pooped. I kid you not!

So, what was our technique? Well, I would give her a chance to go after each sleep (nap or night), as children naturally hold their pee when they sleep. Then, as she got older, I would pop her on whenever we changed her diaper. Gradually she started having more regular dry diapers, and by 2 years (minus 2 weeks), we went straight over to underwear, and had diapers for only night time (she’d been dry after naps for a while by this point). By this time, she was having a dry diaper at night a couple of times a week, too. A month after our switch, once she’d had a week or so of dry diapers, we got rid of our night time diapers, too. Interestingly, she would wake up to pee at night quite regularly, from at early at 12 months! I knew this because sometimes she would leak right out the side and all over me when I went in to put her back down. I tried putting her on the potty, but this groggy baby would have none of it, but I found the correlation quite interesting.

Did we eliminate poopy diapers for the majority of our diapering experience? Not quite, but she was regularly doing her business in the porcelain bowl by about a year. Did we train her? No. Really, it’s more so about training yourself, and recognizing your child’s cues. There is a lot more to this, but this is my Cole’s Notes version. Although I was a complete skeptic, I do recommend Diaper Free Baby. (affiliate link). Turns out, it’s not a bunch of hooey afterall! Please note that we were never forceful, nor did we ever shame or punish her if she didn’t go.

Was this a one time thing? Well, we’ve been doing EC with Sweet Pea since 3 month. Three Months?!? Yes. It all started one night when our typically easy going, amazing sleeper of a baby was having a particularly tough night. After nursing, and bicycle kicks, and anything else you would try at 3 in the morning to get a baby to settle, I thought “maybe she had to poop? Well, let’s see if this helps…” and I put her on the toilet. She didn’t poop, but she did pee, and thus began our EC journey. She’s now 13 months, and she regularly pees, and has gone #2 the last 2 days (although it’s not as often as I remember it being with LM). Hey, when it comes to cloth diapers and laundry, every little bit counts!

Here’s what I wrote back in 2014, as my Facebook status update: So, I started to read this when I was pregnant, because a friend loaned it to me with a bunch of other amazing baby books (thank you Carolina!) and I didn’t finish it because I thought I could never do it. But, after some encouragement from some other moms, girlie started using the potty at 6 months. Here’s the update: at 11 months, today she had 2 wet diapers, all other changes were dry, and she used the potty each time. I’m very excited over here, and wanted to let y’all know that this isn’t hippie craziness, but a very useful tool. We are still using (cloth) diapers, but I just get to wash less of them  — feeling wonderful.

So, you never know, unless you try.

Blessings!

Liz

P.S. What do you think? Crazy hippy, or something to this?

I Love Dirt! A New Year’s Resolution

Happy 2018 friends! I love New year’s. A time of review, and fresh beginnings. Up until just a few of years ago, we would celebrate with my grandparents, and my extended family, by having a family dinner on New Year’s day. I loved it – even the silly tinsel necklaces. My grandparents would go out dancing New Year’s Eve, with my Great Aunt (my Grandma’s sister) and her husband,  until 2 in the morning! I was always pleasantly surprised that they could out-party me. As with all good things, those too have come to an end, but I savour those memories.

With this time of reflection, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time outside. I like to think that we spend more time outside than the average family, but with a new baby in 2017, I have certainly come up with my fair share of excuses to dodge excursions, particularly in this frosty weather. This book, I Love Dirt by Jennifer Ward, is a great quick read to get you in the mood to get outside.

i-love-dirt

With 52 simple suggestions for the varying seasons, this book inspires you to take your children outside, and connect with nature. I also really loved the science applications that are recommended to incorporate into your explorations.

What are your New Year resolutions?

Blessings,

Liz

Go Big or Go Gnome

Here’s a little secret you may not know about me: I Love Gnomes. I think they are cute, and fun, and all around fantastic! So, when we were at the library this week, and I happened upon this book (affiliate link), I had to pick it up:

9781250111272

It is a cute story about Al, the gnome who could not grow a beard, and how he was recognized for what he could do, instead of what he couldn’t.

The illustrations are fantastic, and we’ve read it every night since we picked it up – at her request, to boot! We highly recommend you check it out.

Blessings,

Liz

From Pinterest to Plain – A Birthday Party

Little Miss is turning 4 in a little bit, so we decided to have her first “party”. When I asked her what she would like to do, she said she wanted to go to the playground. Nice! Easy, and right within my budget. However, I must confess I was nervous. In today’s day and age of Pinterest worthy parties (you go, parents!), play places, and video game parties (that can run into the thousands), I felt like it simply wasn’t enough. I felt the need to do more.

Then I read, The Happiest Kids in the World, and I regained some perspective, and drew comfort that I didn’t have to “go big or go home”. We simply stayed home. (Actually, we went to another birthday party earlier on in the year, and my friend similarly kept it simple, and we had a great time, so that was also encouraging).

As I’ve mentioned before, we love reading The Berenstain Bears. We had been reading Too Much Birthday, and we drew some ideas from it.

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We went to the playground, as requested; yes, in Canada in November. We just bundled up, and the weather held out for us. Then we came back and played a few traditional party games. First, we played Pass the Parcel:

Pass the Parcel

Pass the Parcel

Essentially, it’s Hot Potato. I changed it up a little bit by adding a few stickers as a “prize” between each layer, so that everyone got a little something. I wrapped it up in newspaper, because I like to be Earth (and pocketbook) friendly. Next we played Going to Jerusalem, which is the name they gave a variation of Musical Chairs in the Berenstain Bear book. You have a mat (or in our case, a reusable shopping bag) on the floor, and everyone goes around in a circle. If you’re standing on the mat when the music stops, you’re out. The last one standing wins. Lastly, we played Freeze Dance. Dance, and when the music stops, freeze! If you’re caught moving, you’re out. Again, the last person standing, wins. They were simple, and fun.

We also opted to make our own birthday cake, although I was quite tempted to buy an ice cream cake, when I saw that Dairy Queen had them on sale for half price the day before. But, we’d already bought the cake mix (no, we didn’t make it from scratch…), and Little Miss was looking forward to making it. So, although I don’t think I’ll be winning any cake decorating awards, ta da!

Cake

The characters are her toys, so we just utilized them as decorations for the cake (it’s in the shape of a heart). Also, if you plan on making your own cake, I suggest buying 2 containers of icing, or the big one, otherwise you’ll be using chocolate icing to finish it off on an otherwise vanilla cake. It tasted delicious.

Lastly, the favours. I found this part to be the most stressful. I was planning on getting everyone a book (from the Dollarstore) as a thank you. Actually, I liked the idea so much that I had recommended it to other moms whenever the topic came up in my Facebook groups. However, apparently that’s easier said than done. I wasn’t fond of the book choices when we went, so there went that idea. I’m not a fan of stuff just for the sake of stuff, so I wanted something practical. In the end, we had some leather keychains at our store (spoiler: in the clearance section), and a friend of ours put each child’s initial on them in fancy writing. I figured parents could put them on a backpack, or even give their child a house key when they’re a bit older.

So, all in all, we had a great time. If you’re feeling guilty about keeping it simple, don’t. We all have different styles, and one is not more valid than the other. For us, this was right up our alley. I wonder what we’ll do next year…

Blessings!

Liz

P.S. Do you have your child open their gifts during their party, or after once everyone has left?

 

Lest We Forget

This evening, my daughters and I had the privilege of planting Canadian flags on the property of Sunnybrook Hospital here in Toronto.

Remembrance Day 2017

Raise a Flag at Sunnybrook Hospital

This is our third year participating in this project. The goal is to plant 30,000 flags across the grounds, so that on November 11th, Remembrance Day, the veterans at the hospital will wake up to fields of Canadian flags and know that we will remember.

Although we’ve been doing this for a few years, this is the first year that Little Miss has had so many questions about war. Why do we have an army? Why do people fight? Why? Questions that really make you pause, and think.

I happened to have purchased A Poppy is to Remember (affiliate link)by Heather Patterson, way back in my teaching days, so we brought it out this evening to help explain.

poppyposter

Given that Little Miss will soon be turning 4, this was right on her level, and she wanted to read it twice! Although the topic of war is tough, I think it’s important, and possible, to address it on an age appropriate level. Do you have any other suggestions for books about, or related to, Remembrance Day?

Blessings,

Liz

Nests

Fall is upon us! Or, my preferred name – Autumn. I love just about everything about fall – the smell of decaying leaves, the cooler, sweater weather, Pumpkin Spiced Lattes (don’t try the M&M’s, they’re disgusting), and of course, the leaves changing colours. Fall gives us a wonderful opportunity to see the hidden homes of our neighbourhood animals.

Here is a tree that housed both paper wasps (I’ve got an exciting post about them coming up soon!) and a squirrel, right around the corner of our home.

Nest 3

I don’t think it was only me who noticed the numerable wasps in Southern Ontario this year. It felt like they were everywhere! In fact, here’s another nest that’s clearly visible with the changing colours. I know this looks like a photoshopped image, but I assure you, I have no such skill to trick you.

Nest2

And here is a bird’s nest we found on one of our walks, again right in our immediate neighbourhood. It used to look much more pristine, but I think Little Miss has been exploring its components, hence its more disheveled look.

Nest

Fall offers the exciting opportunity to more easily observe animal habitats. With the trees bare, we can observe various types of nests in our area. Squirrels tend to have larger nests (basketball sized, or larger) made of leaves, and are also often closer to the trunk of the tree, to provide additional protection from the elements. Wasps, on the other hand, tend to have their nests on the outer perimeter of the tree, making them easier to spot throughout the year. Perhaps they do that so they’re easier to find and access? Birds nests are harder to see, as they are usually smaller (of course, depending on the bird), and are also closer to the tree’s trunk.

It’s truly fascinating to observe the intricacies that go into how nests are made. One day, I would love to be able to differentiate the different birds’ nests based on the species of bird. One day…

Blessings,

Liz

What’s an “LOL”?

“EEEEE!!! LOLs!!!” screamed two young girls at Toys R Us this evening.

I turned to their mom and said “I have no idea what an LOL is.”

“It drinks and pees,” was the response.

“So, a doll?” I reply.

Yes, a doll. This is what these girls ran up to:LOL Display

I had no idea what they were. I still don’t think it’s particularly clear by their packaging either, but I digress…

So, with Little Miss asleep in the shopping cart (YAY!), I went on my merry way, wondering what the big deal was. However, I assure you that had she not been catching a few winks, she would have gone by these unassuming balls of dolls without so much as a peep. Why? Because she doesn’t know what they are, either.

We don’t watch much TV. We try our best to be a low media household. When we do watch one of her favourite programs (Paw Patrol, Berenstain Bears or My Little Pony), we watch it on Netflix or YouTube. We don’t have cable – we haven’t since we moved into our house 8 years ago. (Psst… We don’t miss it!)

We only watch TV on the laptop through Netflix (I’ll explain in another post why we did away with the iPad – and it’s probably not what you think), and because we don’t have cable, we’ve essentially eliminated advertising directed at her, thankfully.

But Liz, you said you also use YouTube, what about that advertising? When we used the iPad, we had the YouTube kids app, because the world of YouTube is so vast, and parts of it are quite dark. There are so many instances of videos that look like they are for children, but have very disturbing, disgusting context. I implore you to be vigilant when using it! However, since using the laptop, we only have access to the regular YouTube website.

Now, we very seldom use YouTube, and when we do, we sit with her. It’s so easy for the auto play to suck you in to the next video, so we do our best to avoid that black hole and quit while we’re ahead. Because the sea of videos aren’t at her finger taps (see what I did there), she hasn’t seen anything outside of the selected programs we watch together. Although there is some advertising, most of it isn’t necessarily directed towards children (car commercials or cereal), and I can’t think of a time I’ve seen an ad for a toy. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that most of the advertising on YouTube is done through… Those Darn Toy Reveal Videos!!! Dun Dun Duuuuun!!!

Oh my goodness. These are the most ridiculous videos I’ve ever seen. These, and those videos of children playing with toys. One mom commented that she bought her daughter a toy, and before she started playing with it, she went and watched a video of another child playing with it for half an hour first! Oy…

So, how did I research these LOL Dolls? I watched a toy reveal video, naturally (on my own). So, let me tell you a bit about this “hottest toy”. You get a ball (seen on the second shelf). It is wrapped in layers of plastic (garbage). As you peel back the layers, there are papers that reveal “clues” about what doll you have received. As you get closer to the centre, you get 4 bags (more garbage) with a 2 small accessories (think the size of your fingernail), an outfit, and finally, the doll (4 bags, after about 8 layers – plastic, plastic and more plastic). Seems wasteful, and silly, to me. And I’ll be darned if I want a whack of little doll pieces all over my house. Please see exhibit 1, the purpose of our voyage to Toys R Us in the first place:

Rarity

Did I mention we have a dog? Anyway, as I was saying, I have no desire to have little things all over the house, especially with a newly cruising 8 month old crawling around. (I’m SO thankful we missed that whole Shopkin craze). Now, go back up to the first picture for a second. See the big gold globe at the top of the display? That there is an LOL Doll with 50 layers. Five Zero. That’s a lot of garbage. And, 50 dolls and/or accessories! Yee… Haw… And $100. It costs $100. $100!!!

Anyway, if you have ever found yourself with a child who is begging you for an item that you have never heard of, ask yourself how they heard of it. Maybe it was from friends. But, many of these “new crazes” get their footholds through YouTube and cable advertising (Hatchimals!). How many ads are children exposed to? The American Psychological Association states, “it is estimated that advertisers spend more than $12 billion per year to reach the youth market and that children view more than 40,000 commercials each year.” Read the full article here.

Personally, I think it’s important that we limit our children’s exposure to advertising, and encourage them to be content with what they have. We often read The Berenstain Bears books, and one of our favourites is Count Their Blessings, which addresses just that.

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Blessings!

Liz

 

Happy Dutch Kids

My mom is Dutch, so when The Happiest Kids in the World: Bringing up children the Dutch way (affiliate link) was recommended on a Scary Mommy blog about raising a “wild child”, I chose to reserve myself a copy, along with all the others on the list.

Happy Dutch Kids

The premise behind the book is that Dutch children continuously rate themselves to be the happiest children in the world. This book delves into the whys and hows these children have found contentment.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is written by two ex-pat moms who married Dutch men. Seeing as my mom is Dutch, I really enjoyed some of the stories, and felt almost at home reading about Holland in this light. In particular, I appreciated the reassuring comments about being comfortable with being normal (not striving to always be the best at everything). Even my oldest daughter’s beautifully simple birthday party has been inspired by this book (well, it will be when it happens in a couple of weeks).

The authors comment on the need for children to develop independence, and be given the opportunity to do so. Also, not constantly forcing your child ahead of their peers, instead allowing them to grow at their own pace. Remember: you can’t force a flower to open, it will bloom in its own time.

That being said (written?), I didn’t like the portion discussing controlled crying, simply because I don’t agree with it. I’m in no way an advocate of the Cry It Out method, and I am the first to encourage more gentle methods. One of the authors mentions that her sister-in-law (I believe) had her child sleeping through the night by 3 months by allowing him to Cry It Out (CIO). At the very least, children at this age still need nourishment throughout the night, and even proponents of the CIO method  say that it should not be used before 6 months. A new parent could believe that sleeping through the night should be the norm, when it is not, and may become frustrated, along with their child, when they simply aren’t biologically ready to do so.

Lastly, I wasn’t comfortable with the incredibly liberal take on sex (at a Children’s museum in Holland, they have a mock “adult store” section, will a full “display” for older children to peruse), but I know that the Dutch are incredibly liberal, so this didn’t shock me.

So, if you’re looking for a refreshing read on how the Dutch have raised “the happiest children in the world”, and you’re willing to take a step back from the rush of our North American society and critically assess how we might actually do things counter culturally to the benefit of our children, then I think you’d really enjoy this book.

Blessings,

Liz

Jillian Jiggs

“Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jiggs! It looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!”

“Later, I promise. As soon as I’m through,  I’ll clean up my room. I promise I do.”

For my 5th birthday, my parent’s coworkers bought me this book:

Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman

They all signed the inside cover, and I now read that book with my daughters, nearly 30 years later.

I have always enjoyed Jillian Jiggs (affiliate link). Her imagination runs wild, as her make believe play continuously evolves into something fresh and exciting. There are 5 Jillian Jiggs stories, and they are all fabulously written, and illustrated with remarkable detail and creativity. I highly recommend them.

Blessings!

Elephant & Piggie

I promised in my last post that I would come back to our beloved Mo Willems.  Former writer and animator for Sesame Street, Willems has gone on to write and illustrate the AMAZING Elephant & Piggie series, as well as the Knuffle Bunny series, to name a few.

Little Miss (3.5) has loved these books so much, for about the last year (since 2.5). The books are simply, funny, and engaging. In fact, the above pictured book, Can I Play Too? (affiliate link) has left me laughing out loud. Whenever someone asks for a book recommendation for a preschooler, Willems’ stories are my first recommendation.

We also all got attached to Trixie and her Knuffle Bunny (affiliate link) (Kuh-Nuffle). So much so that I can rarely read Knuffle Bunny Free without tearing up. (To be fair, my first time reading it, I was pregnant, so I will happily blame pregnancy hormones on my teary eyes, which were so bad that my husband still teases me about it).

I cannot more highly recommend these books for preschoolers and early readers. Elephant & Piggie are perfect for those who are just learning to read, and you as a parent won’t mind reading through them again and again.

Which is your favourite Elephant & Piggie book?

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