Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Potty Training: And So It Begins

It was inevitable, you guys. I'm now going to start blogging about potty training.

There will be many posts in this series, I'll tag them, don't you worry ;) I have an exciting lineup, too... quite a few very fun giveaways! Before the fun begins, first I want to start with a few disclaimers because I know the type of comments I'll get if I don't start there.

First I want to explain why I'm going to describe this whole process as "potty training" instead of "potty learning" or something like that.  Part of my reasoning is in line with the explanation professional potty trainer (YES!) Jamie Glowacki from Oh Crap! Potty Training uses in her new ebook (more about Jamie later).

Peeing and pooing is not a cultural thing; it's a human nature thing.  Where we pee and poo, how we pee and poo (standing? squatting? sitting), etc and what is culturally acceptable in our society, that's something kids learn. And just like you are trained when you get a new job, this is what we do with our kids: we train them.  No, kids aren't dogs or pets.  But kids are being trained (taught).  So call it potty training, or potty learning, or whatever, I'm going to get better SEO if I call it potty training, so there ;)

Second, I am going to be talking a lot about potty training "stuff."  Potties, potty books, potty DVDs, products you can use to help potty train your kids.  Don't get me wrong, you can do this organic and old school and buy or borrow NOTHING to enhance the potty training experience.  All your kid really needs at the root of it all is access to your family's toilet.  I'm not at all suggesting you need to buy a bunch of potty related crap (heh) in order to make potty training happen.  I happened to have taken the opposite direction thanks to generous friends and family and a love of all things for kids,  and this blog is about my experience.  Whether you buy potty "stuff" or not, yeah, your kid will be potty trained eventually. 

So those are your disclaimers, and consider yourselves informed that I'm going to be talking about poo and pee on this blog for the next few weeks :)


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Monday, July 30, 2012

My Love-Hate Relationship With the YouTube/Toddler Combo

For the last 6 months or so, Youtube has been a part of our lives.  We don't have cable or TV of any kind, just our large TV screen hooked up to a laptop in our living room.  We also have the poor man's iPad (Blackberry Playbook) for Aias to use if he wants to goof around on Starfall.com.

Then of course, there is YouTube.

I learned how awesome YouTube was for toddlers a while back when I stumbled upon the KidsTV123 videos and made a playlist of songs Aias totally loves.  Then I realized there was a YouTube app on my phone and on the Playbook.  How convenient?

The first few videos we watched were songs, and Aias quickly learned that after one video ends, he can push the button and ANOTHER video appears. Nice, right?

At first.

Here are four annoying consequences of having a toddler who is in love with YouTube.

1.  Aias now seems to think that every image he sees on the computer screen is actually just a video that's paused.  If I'm looking at images on Google or something, he wanders up and asks me to "push the button on the picture" to "play the video."  My attempts to explain that not EVERY image on a computer screen is a potential video fall on deaf (and annoyed) ears.

2.  Because there are so many video options on YouTube, Aias seems to think that all videos exist, and that all he has to do is specify.  Rule 34 doesn't, unfortunately, apply to kids videos.  For example, for the past few months he has been demanding I put on a "Curious George on the potty" video.  No such video exists.  No, seriously, it doesn't exist.  I keep telling Aias this and he thinks I'm full of crap.  Another video he keeps asking for is "Donald Duck at the Gordon Neighborhood House."  Gordon Neighborhood House is our neighborhood house in the West End, and there are no videos in existence of Donald Duck at GNH.  Of course, 99% of the time when Aias asks for a video of something, it exists, so why wouldn't these videos exist??? I explained that there aren't any videos of these things and his response is "MAKE IT MOMMY, PLEASE!"

3. YouTube is great for kids if they want to navigate around and find different videos. Of course, sometimes the trail of videos takes you to erm... darker places than you'd want to go.  For example, Aias was watching Donald Duck shorts while I made lunch the other day, and then I took a peek at what he was watching and it turned out he was watching a Donald Duck Nazi video.  Um, not exactly what I had in mind for a 2 year old. 

4. Finally, the problem with YouTube videos is that sometimes they just *poof* disappear without warning! For the first 3 months of his YouTube affair, Aias was obsessed with Choo Choo Soul shorts.  We still have the intro to Choo Choo Soul stuck in our heads 24 hours a day.  A few months ago, Disney pulled allllll the Choo Choo Soul videos off YouTube and now they are evidently only accessible in the USA.  Trying to explain their mysterious disappearance saddened and infuriated Aias, and to this day I still can't find any videos of these Choo Choo Soul songs.

So there you have it. We love you, YouTube, but we totally hate you too.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Baby and Toddler Bath Goodies from Rocky Mountain Soap Company

I think it's pretty typical for parents to use baby shampoo, baby soap, and baby lotion on their kids from the time they are born.  We're probably just weird hippies or something, because Aias has only used shampoo and/or soap a handful of times in his life.  From the time he was born, we just didn't really see any point in putting chemicals or soap on him, and babies have such nice soft skin already, we never really had any need for lotion.  There have been a few occasions where he got something really messy on him that required soap, but not too many.  There's not much warm water can't get rid of, right?

Now he's getting older and his messes are a bit more intense.  Mud from the playground, mystery substances he finds on the group, etc.  These sorts of things seem to require a little extra something... so we decided we'd start looking at different soaps and shampoos for kids.  Lots of them smell beautiful, but the ingredients are not very impressive.

If you are looking for a gentle product with ingredients you can trust on even a new baby, check out Rocky Mountain Soap Company... they are Canadian hand made products  made with plants! Their ingredient lists are really benign.  We recently tried out the Tiny Tot Foaming Wash, Baby Body Butter, and Baby Bear Soap.  Check out the ingredients on the Tiny Tot Foaming Wash:

Aqua (Water)
Potassium Cocoate (Coconut Oil)
Potassium Olivate (Olive Oil)
Potassium Jojobate (Jojoba Oil)
Lavandula Angustifolium (Lavender) Oil
Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Oil

Basic, natural, and recognizable ingredients- NICE!

We feel really good about using these products on Aias, and as a bonus, they smell good and they are fun to use.  The Tiny Tot Foaming Wash comes in a bottle he can use himself and he thinks it's pretty awesome to cover himself with the foam.  He also thinks it's pretty fun to rub the Baby Body Butter on his legs because it looks like a stick of deodorant or something.

Best of all, we don't have to worry about nasty chemicals getting into his bloodstream when he uses it. 

The only thing to be aware of with these products is that because they are real, old fashioned soaps, they work wonderful on delicate skin, but they are not tear-free.  The only real problem you'll probably have with these products is that you'll want to use them on yourself!

You can enter to win a gift pack from Rocky Mountain Soap Company below, which includes the Tiny Tot Foaming Wash ($14.99 value), Baby Body Butter ($13.49 value) and Baby Bear Soap ($4.99 value).

Don't forget to check out their site, as their line of baby soaps is only a small fraction of what they offer.  I've used almost all of their lip butters and they are amazing products!

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Because Cutting Food Into Shapes Makes It Taste Better: Win a FunBites Food Cutter!

When you have an underweight picky eater like we do, you often find yourself willing to go to extreme measures to get them to eat.  In our case, I find it's worth the extra time to put some effort into the presentation of food.  Our great friend And Mommy Makes 3 gave us a set of FunBites food cutters, so we could cut various foods into little squares, hearts, and sailboats.  I loved them so much I asked to do a blog review and giveaway, and the kind folks at FunBites agreed!

FunBites are like cookie cutters, but a bit more solid and a lot easier to use.  Sure, it's pretty easy to use a cookie cutter.  What's not so easy is getting your food out of the cookie cutter in the intended shape.  FunBites makes this easy because it has a built-in press to push the shape out so it maintains perfect shape.  Funbites are also safe and easy to use, and very easy to clean.

Here's how you use your FunBites cutter:

Step 1: Place the FunBites cutter on top of food.  Remove popper top and set to the side.

Step 2: Grab cutter handles on both sides, press down firmly and rock 5-6 times to cut through the food.

Step 3: Lift the cutter up, insert popper top and pop out the bite-sized pieces!

Easy peasy.

The food looks adorable, too:

We've used our FunBites on a few foods now:

Egg (omelette)

Aias seems to like his food being in a heart shape.  When he tires of it, we will move on to sailboats.   The square cutter is also awesome because it makes things "bite-sized" and easy to fit into a travel snack cup.

We have a tiny apartment sized kitchen with limited storage, so I'm really picky about which kitchen gadgets to keep around.  FunBites are definitely worth keeping around. 

You know you want one, so enter below to win a FunBites cutter of your choice, either "Cube It!" or "Luv It!"

Don't forget to also check out their website where you can buy one FunBites for $12.99, or both for only $22.00.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stop Making Excuses For Being Fat

I realize the title of this post sounds really harsh and offensive, but trust me, it's totally fitting.

For 12+ years of my life I suffered from diagnosed eating disorders, namely bulimia.  My entire goal for myself was to be thin.  This was the primary objective of my life.  Of course, I was thin at times and was never technically fat, but telling that to someone with an eating disorder is often a waste of time.  At the time I was thin to average, but I had the clear goal of wanting to be thin.

Here I am 29 years old and at 5'2 ~150lbs, I'm the "fattest" I've ever been.  I no longer suffer from disordered eating and while I'd like to lose a bit of weight so my old clothes would fit, I simply don't have the time to be working out constantly or watching everything I eat because well... I just can't be arsed at the moment.  Right now I get to the gym to work out when I can, we go for hikes, we go biking, etc.  At the same time, when the alarm goes off in the morning for me to go to the gym, 75% of the time I hit snooze in favor of getting an extra hour of sleep instead of putting on my clothes and trudging to the elliptical trainer and weight room.  I also nurse a 2.5 year old and eat a billion calories a day of my own food and food I nab from said toddler.

Recovering from my eating disorder, and educating myself in general, has brought to my attention the concepts of "fat shaming" and being "body positive."  I strongly believe that fat shaming is a horrible thing to do and being body positive is absolutely amazing.

I'm getting to my point, I promise.

What drives me nuts is that there is rhetoric that goes along with fat shaming and oftentimes I see comments like these made:

"You don't know why they are fat, they could have thyroid issues!"
"I've done EVERYTHING I can to not be fat, I just can't seem to lose weight!"
"I eat perfectly healthy, exercise everyday, and I'm STILL fat so screw off!"
"I have a disability so I can't work out/change my diet!"
"I'm fat but I just had a baby so it's ok"

All that is great and they are valid reasons to STFU up about people who are fat.  It's also true, there are some people who have thyroid (or other health) issues.  There are also people who literally try 100% to alter their diet and exercise and they still stay the same size.  There are also some people who simply can't exercise because they are disabled. 

You know why I hate those statements, even though they are perfectly valid?

Because they are excuses.  YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE EXCUSED FOR BEING FAT.  You are not doing ANYTHING WRONG by being "fat" or "overweight" or whatever term you want to use.  You do NOT need to answer to skinny people OR society for why you aren't 5'2 100lbs soaking wet.  Even if you have what you feel is a "valid reason" for being fat, that doesn't actually matter, because NO ONE needs a "valid reason" for being fat. 

You DO NOT need to answer to people because there's nothing wrong with being whatever size you are as long as you are comfortable with it. Even if you aren't comfortable with it, it's no ones business what size you are.  Don't give people an excuse. If someone has a problem with your body shape or size, they can go take a long walk off a short pier.

This making excuses for being fat thing reminds me a lot of the breastfeeding vs. formula debate.  Tons of people use formula, and most of them make excuses for doing so, because even though they are comfortable with it, they feel like they need to answer to society for formula feeding.  Even people who are uncomfortable and sad about it, they feel like they need to give an excuse for it so that they can be perceived as a decent human being.  If you talk to a million people who formula feed, it seems like 75% of them will give you an excuse about why nursing didn't work out for them, whether it's the truth or not.  They do this because they think people will expect them to have one because so many say breast feeding is superior to formula feeding.  The same goes with being fat.  Society pushes that thin is better and if you are fat, so if you are fat, you feel like you better have a good excuse.

Making these excuses perpetuates the idea that you need an excuse in the first place.  Whether it's your baby drinking formula or your body being larger than society would like, stop making excuses.  You don't NEED to.  It's none of anyone's business.

Sometimes I find myself wanting to excuse myself for being this size by saying "I try, I really do, to eat healthy."  It's true sometimes, but it's only sorta true.  The truth is, since having Aias, I've discovered a lot of delicious things and breastfeeding has made me so ravenously hungry that no Lay's potato chip is safe within 100 yards of me.  I could say no to second servings and chips, and cut the milk and sugar in my much needed coffee, and I could put the alarm clock across the room in the morning so I can't skip out on the gym.  I know exactly why I'm the "fattest" I've ever been, and I'm sick of making excuses for it.

If being thin is a priority of yours, I think that's fine.  We all have our own priorities.  But please, understand that being thin is not everyone's number one priority.  Right now I'd love to be able to fit into my old size 6 jeans, but for now, 10 will have to do, because I like sleep and chips a hell of a lot more than I like the gym. The heart wants what it wants, I guess.

So what's my excuse for being fat? I can't be bothered to try not to be.  Maybe someday soon, but as for now, sleep > gym.  

If you are feeling down about your fat and feel like you are making excuses, check out this book Fat?So!  It's one of the books that helped me during my own recover from disordered eating.

If you are a fuller bodied mama, I suggest you check out this adorable book.  Your kids will love it as much as you do. 


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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Swear We Bought the Duplo Trains for Our Child...

Aias loves trains and Lego, so we couldn't really pass up the Thomas Duplo set we found at a thrift shop.  Aias absolutely loves it, but I'm pretty sure daddy loves it just as much. Combined with Lego Mindstorms, it's pretty much the most fun toy ever.   Aias wanted the trains to move so Morgan designed a locomotive using the Lego Mindstorms NXT.  It can either pull the trains or push them, but Aias gets annoyed if Thomas or Percy aren't right at the front, so usually it pushes. 

Here are some of the projects they've worked on together.

Daddy created a locomotive for the Lego Duplo trains using the Mindstorms NXT.  Basically it pushes or pulls the trains.  There are 4 speeds and it can go backward or forward.  The control exists on our home server and Aias uses his Blackberry Playbook (poor man's ipad) to control it.  It can also be pulled up on the computer.  (See video below)

They built this because daddy wanted to see how big of a parabolic bridge he could create out of the Duplo.  This took an insane amount of time, believe me.

This is just a curvy train track.  You can't really tell from this photo but it starts on the ground and crawls up an incline and winds around.  It was somewhat destroyed by the time I took this photo. 
Finally, Aias sitting on a basic train track.  I'm not a guy but I can't imagine this feels very good. 

Thanks to And Mommy Makes 3 for lending us some track so we could have a ton to use!


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Monday, July 23, 2012

Keep Your Pants Up With Andrea's Clips!

Aias is short and skinny for his age.  We are in the process of potty training and this means he has to wear underpants, but it's really hard to find underpants that stay up around his skinny little waist.  I've been told they should be a little bit loose so he can pull them up and down to use the potty but they are so loose they don't even stay up at all!  The solution? Andrea's belt clips from Andrea's Pacifier Clips & More.

Similar to a classic mitten clip, but stronger and designed specifically for holding on to belt buckles and fabric, Andrea's belt clips take centimetres or inches off your child's underpants and pants.  We have just plain brown so it looks subtle, but these clips come in a variety of designs to appeal to your child (or yourself!)  What I like about the brown one is that I can use it, too, and I have, with my gym shorts that are thankfully getting a bit loose around the waist.

These clips are well made and inexpensive (only $4-$6 each) so they are both incredibly useful and affordable.  I also love that Andrea's Pacifier Clips & More is a Canadian company out of Milton, Ontario, and is both owned and operated by a mother.  Andrea offers a flat rate for shipping of only $2 for your entire order if you are in Canada and only $3 if you are in the USA.  You can get  free shipping on any order if placed by August 3rd, 2012 by quoting code AIASFREE.

Andrea is offering a reader a belt clip, so sign up below to enter to win!  She also has giveaways very often on her Facebook fan page, so check her out there as well!

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Broth Fondue: Quick, Healthy, Easy, Inexpensive... Fantastic!

Broth fondue is my favorite meal to prepare when we have people over for dinner.  We like it so much, we sometimes make this meal for ourselves as well.  It looks like it takes a lot of work to prepare but it doesn't at all, and it's also a relatively inexpensive way to feed a bunch of people at a time.

For broth fondue you need to have a fondue pot (of course).  Ours is electric and I see them all the time at stores for $40~$50, but I actually got ours at Value Village a few years ago,  unopened, new in the box, for only $5!   It came with fondue forks but ours disappeared when we moved last so I picked up new ones at the loonie store.  You can also use regular skewers if you can't find any forks.  With regular skewers I mark them with felt pens so we can tell whose stick it is when it's cooking in the pot.

With broth fondue you can cook a mix of veggies, meats, and seafoods.  I prefer to do seafood, although you can also use thinly sliced chicken pieces or tender, thin cuts of beef.  The veggies we always use are broccoli, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, various coloured peppers, green beans, and snap peas.  You can use any vegetable you like as long as it will hold together on a fondue fork or skewer (peas and corn won't work, for example).  The pieces of food, vegetable or otherwise,  must be cut relatively small and laid out on a platter.  Veggies generally take about 2-3 minutes to cook, while beef and chicken take about 1-2 minutes, and fish takes only 30 to 60 seconds! 

The idea behind broth fondue is that you and your guests fill your skewers with meat and veggies and cook them in broth.  I like to prepare my broth on the stove and then transfer it to the fondue pot when it's fully cooked.  I usually lightly heat sesame oil in the bottom of a stock pot and then add garlic and onion, saute it a bit and then add enough chicken broth to fill my fondue pot 1.5 times (some will evaporate away as you are eating).  I sometimes add honey and/or soy sauce as well, and I always toss some green onions in at the end.

You can offer rice as a side dish if you want, and I always put out some bits of fruit to snack on as well.   When we made it yesterday we tossed some udon noodles right into the broth and pulled them out to eat when the fondue pot wasn't super full.  

I like this meal because it's really hands on, interesting, and takes longer to eat than a prepared meal.  It's also nice because when people ask "what should we bring?" you can ask them to bring some cut veggies or meat pieces. It's interesting to see what people decide to bring.

Some other ideas when preparing this meal are to have multiple fondue pots cooking; maybe one for meat and one for veggies (in case you have some vegetarian guests).  You can also have different broth flavours, such as a spicy broth and a mild broth.  You can also put out various dips so people can dip their cooked veggies and meat.

The one down side of this meal is that if you have toddlers running around, it can be dangerous for them if they have access to the fondue pot, so be mindful of this when choosing a spot to leave the fondue pot.

We really need to get an "adult" sized table at some point :)


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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You Won't Eat That? Challenge Accepted. Minigo = Fixed

Aias needs to put on some weight.  The pediatrician said "pick up some of those little minigo yogurts, they are great for getting calories and good fats into kids."  We were resistant at first because minigo contains the s-word (sugar!) but then we decided we may as well try it.  We bought some minigo.  Aias ate it like a maniac for 2 days. On day 3 he decided minigo is actually horrible poison we are trying to torture him with.  Weeks passed. No minigo.

Soon the minigo will expire.


Open all the minigo

Cover minigo with foil

Insert popsicle sticks


Yum??? Yeah, that's what I figured

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Love Hyland's!!! Read About It, and Win a Hyland's Gift Pack ($70+ Value!)

Let me just start this post by saying that I love and swear by Hyland's.  I would never in a million years endorse a product I didn't firmly trust and stand in favor of.  Hyland's is a  brand I would recommend to any close friend and family member.  When Aias was teething, Hyland's Teething Tablets kept me sane, but were also a point of contention around our apartment because my partner is anti-homeopathy. You may remember, the first and only post he ever made on blog, way back when?

No bother.  You know what?  Hyland's Teething Tablets WORK.  I don't know why they work, but they work.  They work 100% of the time, for whatever reason that may be.  A few minutes after eating the tablets, Aias would stop fussing.  He'd be happy!  From teething, to happy!  Teething is probably the number one most miserable aspect of parenting a baby for a number of reasons:

1.  Your poor sweet child is in pain
2.  You are slowly losing your mind because your child is screaming and miserable
3.  The responsibility of having to choose something to medicate your child with seems gigantic (Tylenol!? Advil!?! Hylands!?! Teething necklace!?!)

At one point some people were telling me that these teething tablets only worked because of the sugar. Do you want to know what I did? I cut up candy cigarettes, which look very similar to these tablets, and filed them down so they looked exactly like Hyland's tablets.  I gave them to Aias when he was fussing about his teething.  Guess what happened? Nothing.  He kept fussing!  When I gave him the proper teething tablets, a few minutes passed, and he stopped fussing. 

Was it sugar? Was it homeopathy? Was it a coincidence? I don't know. All I know is, when I gave him these teething tablets, he stopped fussing 100% of the time.  As a stay at home mom with a teething infant, I couldn't have asked for much more.

Hyland's doesn't just have teething tablets, either.  Hyland's also makes a number of products for babies including:

- Teething Gel
- Diaper Ointment
- Colic Tablets (which we also used regularly with success)
- Cough Syrup
- Tiny Cold Tablets (which we also used regularly with success)
- Vitamin C Tablets

Why did I choose these products instead of regular mainstream products on the market? I chose these products because they are made of safe, non-toxic, and natural ingredients... and because people I know and trust told me they work! And like I've said a million times above, they TOTALLY WORK!  Not only are they safe and gentle, but they do what they say they will do!

From time to time we definitely gave Aias Advil and Tylenol, but it didn't come without a bit of stress that we'd given him too much or that he'd have a reaction to it.  With Hyland's we were never worried.  

I strongly encourage you to check out the FAQ on the Hyland's website to learn more about the principles of homeopathy.  I also encourage you to check out other resource on homeopathy as well. Here's some information directly from the Hyland's website: 

Thousands of educational books are available. There are also many courses available through the International Foundation for Homeopathy and the National Center for Homeopathy.
Here's a little more detail:
Books are available from StandardBooksTM (1-800-624-8659).

For more information regarding classes and educational programs, you can contact the following organizations:

International Foundation for Homeopathy
2366 Eastlake Avenue East, Suite 329
Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 324-8230
National Center for Homeopathy
801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 306
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 548-7790
The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States
How you treat your child's aches and pains is really important to think about, and it can be one of the most stressful aspects of parenting.  I strongly suggest taking the time to research it and decide on what's best for your family, before any of the aches and pains happen. For us, Hyland's was the best choice.  

If you'd like to try some of these products, this is your lucky day.  Hyland's is offering one reader a Hyland's Gift pack which includes the Hyland's Teething Tablets, Colid Tablets, Cough Syrup, Tiny Cold Tablets, Vitamin C Tablets, Teething Gel, and Diaper ointment (over a $70 value!). 
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That's Me In the Spotlight Losing My Religion

 Please note: this post isn't meant to offend. It's simply me speaking of my own personal experience with Christianity and religion.  My own reflection of this experience is all I have to offer on this topic.

I rarely talk about religion on here but in the last few days, as a result of a few  conversations with friends, I've been thinking a lot about it.

When I was a kid, I wanted to believe in religion and God very badly. Possibly any religion, possibly any God.  I'm not sure why.   Maybe it was because my parents weren't religious.  Maybe it's because I had so many friends that were.  Whatever the mysterious reason was behind it, I wanted there to be a God and I wanted to find a religion to be a part of.

There were times in my young life that I had taken part in religious festivities and rituals and I have great memories of this.  Hebrew school with my neighbour, midnight mass with an aunt, the various churches of friends I had growing up.  I loved the togetherness of the people, the fun activities, the closeness. Of course, tying the people and activities together was a common belief in God, Jesus, etc.  Taking part in these activities was great but I felt like I wasn't truly a part of them unless I shared the same beliefs.  I didn't want to be on the outside, I wanted to belong.  So the solution seemed simple; I tried to believe. 

When I was 16 years old, at a Christian Film Festival in Lowell Mass, I went up in front of the theatre with many others and I professed my belief in Jesus Christ.  Looking back, I'm not sure if it truly counted. I'm not sure if wanting to believe counts, but if Jesus was handing out A's for effort, I'd have been give an A+.

From that point forward, I was a Christian.  At least, sort of.  I immediately attempted to become the best Baptist ever.  I started a Christian Teens club. I went to church. I handed out Bible tracts.  Oh, did I hand out tracts.  Every day packages arrived at my door containing religious tracts that I left everywhere I went.  On tanning beds, along with tips at restaurants, in bathroom stalls, EVERYWHERE.  The focus of my life became trying to help people get saved. John 3:16 became my purpose.

In an effort to be the perfect Christian, I followed the "rules" to the absolute T, and I am not at all proud of the person that made me at the time, for I was TRULY everything people dislike in a Christian. For example, I was adamantly opposed to homosexuality and actively spoke out against it (seriously, you guys!)  I mocked evolution.  I spoke out against things not because I had given them any thought or consideration, or because they really threatened my own personal values, but because it was what I perceived to be the recipe of the perfect Christian.  It seemed like I could just keep walking the walk and talking the talk, and someday God or Jesus would actually speak to me.  I had to fake it to make it. I had to try to believe.

It was a very dark period in my life. 

This kept up from when I was about 16 until I was 20; a good chunk of my life!  Apologetics and evangelism became a huge focus for me.  On the outside, I felt great; I was sharing the love of Jesus with everyone around me (right?).  On the inside, I felt like a fraud.  Sure, I wanted very badly to believe in God, Jesus, the Bible and that everything inside it was literal.  But there was something telling me that none of it made sense... some small feeling inside me that slowly got stronger and stronger.  For a long time I told myself it was Satan inside me, trying to lure me away from Jesus and God.  I told myself he wanted me most of all because I was the one who was helping so many people find Jesus.

When I moved to Canada in 2001, I had an epiphany, and it came to me hard and fast.  As hard as I was desperately trying to believe, I didn't actually believe in God.  I wanted to, so badly, but I didn't.  Instead of limiting myself to only Christian resources, I started to read other things... I started to look at both sides of the story.  It became clear before long that as much as I wanted there to be a God, I just was simply unable to believe there was one.  Worse yet, I had been hating on people and ideas without even thinking about them.  I now felt more guilty than I ever had before.

Christians often talk of faith and say that looking for evidence of God is not the point, because with evidence there is no true faith.  For whatever reason, my brain is wired to require solid, substantiated, scientific evidence to believe most things.  For me, seeing is believing.  For some reason I can believe in love, and even sometimes karma, but my brain seems completely unable to have faith in God.  I've had the opportunity to speak with the most articulate and convincing Christians, evangelists who have turned thousands to Jesus, and even so, I've tried with all my heart (and soul?) to believe in Jesus and God, and no matter what I do, I just can't. 

After I dropped Christianity, I was bitter for a while.  Bitter at the years of my life gone, bitter that I had behaved in such a shameful and inhumane way toward people who deserved much better.  Bitter that I did not get the fulfilment or answers I so wanted to have found.  During this time I considered myself an atheist.  I now consider myself agnostic.

Taking this all back to parenting, a part of me is very sad and mourns the fact that I do not seem to have the heart or mind that can accept the idea of a God. For me, there is no heaven after you die.  There is no powerful being looking over myself and my family.  For me, there is just randomness, humanity, nature.  I wanted more than anything to believe there was more to life than this, something bigger than all of us.  To me, this is truly a tragedy.  After my grandfather died, I found myself again wishing that there was something I could believe in; anything to comfort me in an hour of loss.  And yet, there was nothing.

It is for all these reasons that it has become very important for me to teach Aias to enjoy the simpler things in life. It sounds like a cliché, but really, it's all I have.  I have to teach him to enjoy things like the precious moments he is able to share with a person, and to be able to look back fondly and happily at memories.  Someday Aias will lose a family member, pet,  or friend, and I won't be able to comfort him by saying "they are in a better place" or "they have gone to heaven" because I won't be able to feel good saying those things to him. 

Maybe in time, I will find something to believe in.  Maybe someday Aias will learn about religion and will be able to truly believe in something for himself.  If he does, I will certainly support and love him through it, as my parents once did for me.

As for my life right now, I can honestly say I'm almost entirely fulfilled.  While I've found no comforting thoughts with regard to human mortality, whatever it was about the religious gatherings and rituals I craved I have now found in other areas of my life.  We attend the local neighbourhood house, for example, and I find that the activities we do and the people we've met absolutely enrich our lives in the way church attendance had in the past.  In fact, it's even better than I remember church to be.   Best of all, I'm able to be myself, without feeling like I have to force myself to believe anything that doesn't come naturally to me. I can only hope this experience will be enough to offer my child.


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Monday, July 16, 2012

The Flash Giveaway Headache: Facebook Promotions TOS Buzzkill

Last week I decided to try doing a Flash Giveaway of some awesome reflectors from Safees.com.  The contest was successful and lots of fun.  I thought it would be great to do a few more of them this week and I even have a few awesome companies that are providing prizes (Cute Cartoon Portraits, Andrea's Clips, Safees).

All was well and good, until earlier today when someone shared with me this article detailing the Facebook TOS for promotions:


Total buzzkill.

It turns out that maybe my method of doing Flash Giveaways isn't entirely in line with the Facebook TOS.  At least, I don't think it is.  At any rate, I'm in doubt enough that I think it's worth changing my Flash Giveaway style, even though I absolutely love it and I know it's effective.

I love having this blog and I love my Facebook fan page, and I don't want to lose either on a technicality.  Because I care about my own fan page and the companies I am working with as well, I need to change up my giveaway style.

From now on, my Flash Giveaways will take place using the Rafflecopter third party application.  To get to the giveaways, you simply go to the blog page and click on "Flash Giveways" as seen below:

If this is too small for you to see, click the picture for a larger image.

In all honesty, I'm pretty bummed out about this.  I know I see tons and tons of companies doing Flash Giveaways and other giveways using my old format every single day, and the reality is they will probably never get caught or have their pages taken away from them, but I want to keep Aias Dot Ca on the up and up.  This means following the Facebook Promotions TOS, even though I think it makes the promotions less fun and easy.  

Right now I have a current Flash Giveaway up on Facebook for Cute Cartoon  Portraits, both in the old style and the new style. I'll have to make a decision in the next few hours on what to do about current entries and such, but all future Flash Giveaways will be located here:


I'm still figuring this new method out, so I'll keep everyone updated on the new process as I learn more.  Apologies to anyone who was enjoying the old style of Flash Giveaways (I was too!).  I hope you'll still participate in these future giveaways.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lots of Flash Giveaways This Week, Here's The Scoop!


I've had to make some changes to our Flash Giveaways, as per the Facebook Promotions TOS.  Please check out this entry for details.

Please note... the giveaways are still happening, they'll just have a different format!


Last week I had so much fun doing the flash giveaway of Safees, I'm excited to announce that we will have three flash giveaways this week on the blog Facebook fan page. 

I know you want to win, so here's how it works and of course, the lineup!

Monday July 16th from 12:01am to Midnight EST
Win a CUSTOM Cute Cartoon Portrait of your child or pet!
Website: www.cutecartoonportraits.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CuteCartoonPortraits
Blog: http://cutecartoonportraits.wordpress.com/

Wednesday July 18th from 12:01am to Midnight EST
Win any belt clip of your choice!
Website: http://www.andreasclips.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndreasClipsMore
Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/APMilton

Friday July 20th from 12:01 to Midnight EST
Win any Safee reflector of your choice!
Website: http://www.safees.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Safeescom/430833156939125

How Flash Giveaways Work 

1.  At Noon, go to the Aias Dot Ca Facebook fan page.  I'll post a picture on the wall that says WIN, etc.  (it will be in the Flash Giveaways album).

2.  LIKE the picture

3.  SHARE the picture

4.  Leave a comment on the picture with your name (@yourname)

5.  For additional entries, tag a friend! Any friend you think would like to win.

6.  If your post where you left your name is chosen, and you've completed requirements 2-3, you win!  If your post where you tagged your friend's name is chosen, you BOTH win (as long as you've both met requirements 2-3!) Winners must email me at aiasdotca@gmail.com within 24 hours to claim their prize. 

Easy, right?  Now, here's the lineup!


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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fat Kids Are NOT The Problem

The "fight against childhood obesity" is a pet peeve of mine and I'd like to take a few minutes to explain why.  There are a million directions I could take this, but a friend of mine has given me permission to share her story, so I'll start there.

Megan (not her real name) is 7 years old.  Megan, her mom, and her dad are vegan.  Megan's mom is a nutritionist and her dad works as a chef for a super-healthy local restaurant.  Her parents are health food nuts and even met and fell in love over a bond for healthy food. Megan has never had fast food or pop in her life. Her favorite foods are fiddleheads and stir-fried asparagus.  Megan drinks only water, plays soccer and swims almost every day, and doesn't even have a TV at her house. Both her parents are lean, athletic, and healthy.  Megan is healthy too; but at 7 years old, Megan is a chubby kid.  According to her BMI, Megan is overweight.  When you meet Megan, you notice she's sweet and friendly, but you also can't help but notice she's chubby.  Megan says that at school she's the "fat" kid, even though she doesn't eat junk food and tons of the other kids do.

Megan's diet is exceptionally healthy; most kids her age that I've met in my lifetime don't have diets that can even begin to stack up against Megan's.  I've known dozens of kids her age that have always been on a steady diet of junk food, processed food, and even pop.  Most of these kids were skinny little things, too, as kids often are due to their crazy fast metabolisms.  For example, check out Stacey Irvine, the lean 17 year old whose diet consists almost entirely of McDonald's nuggets and fries.  Stand Stacey Irvine up next to Megan and ask a complete stranger who they think is suffering from the "childhood obesity epidemic" and 100% of them would choose Megan, when in reality, no one should worry about her diet at all.

Now I understand Megan is an exception to the rule. I understand that most kids that are considered obese or even just overweight could probably stand to improve their diets some, if not a lot.  But here's the thing; by referring to the problem of poor diet as an "obesity" problem, you are only doing two things:

1.  Making fat kids feel terrible about themselves, whether their diets are poor or not, and whether or not they get enough physical activity and exercise

2.  Completely ignoring the horrible health problems that are happening inside the bodies of skinny kids that have terrible diets

Fat kids are not the problem. Unhealthy kids are the problem.  Crappy diets are the problem.  Kids not getting enough time outside is the problem.  Assuming that you can know the kind of diet a person has by just looking at them is the problem.

Fat kids are NOT the problem.

Until people start addressing this reality, there isn't going to be any real change or progress. And this is why "the fight against childhood obesity" is no fight of mine. 


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Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Peculiar Old-Fashioned Fetal Heart Monitor

Last month we visited a small museum in Chemainus, BC and came across this:

The tag says:

"Stainless steel fetal heart monitor: Once placed on a Doctor's head, the monitor would relay the baby's heart beat through tubing and to the Doctor."

I can't seem to find anything anywhere that discusses the history of fetal heart monitoring, but I'd love to see one of these things in action... though preferably not at my own birth!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Loveable Labels Back to School Pack Review and Giveaway

Toddler stuff is expensive and losing it is terrible.  Consequently, I have a habit of writing Aias's name on all his things in my hideous and messy handwriting with a permanent black marker that eventually rubs off.

Never again.

We are now the proud owners of a Back To School Pack from Lovable Labels so I can send that permanent black marker back to the pen cup where it belongs.

Now, I know I'm not the only one who has ever bought paper sticky labels from the drug store, printed a bunch of name stickers on my inkjet printer, and stuck them on all my things only to have them smudge or tear off.  These labels aren't like that.  Lovable Labels are waterproof, dishwasher safe, washer and dryer safe, sun safe, bleach safe, sunscreen safe and temperature safe.  Pretty incredible, right?

Lovable Labels were made by a mom who found herself in the middle of a problem.  When she took her son to childcare she was asked to label all of his belongings.  This meant labeling everything from his outdoor clothing, to his indoor shoes, sippy cups, and backpack.  She recognized that there was a need in the market for personalized labels that were tough and durable and could stand the test of time and everyday use that children put them through.  These labels are just that!

I want to take a few minutes to share my Back To School Pack with you.  The pack contains:

15 Sticker Labels
80 Slimline Labels
12 Shoe Labels
48 Press n' Stick Clothing DOTS™
12 Square Labels
2 Mini-Metal Tags (two 4” silver ball chains incld)

They are pretty cute, right?  When I got this package in the mail I was beyond excited and made the mistake of opening them in front of Aias who immediately ran for paper so he could use up all the precious stickers.  I had to explain these were special stickers that only mommy could put on, which would probably have sent him into an outrage except he was too busy running to get his Thomas train so I could mark it for him. Luckily there are 80 of these labels so we won't be running out any time soon:

There's no question who this Thomas belongs to...
Here are some other things we labeled:

Fleece coat before

Fleece coat after
Its survived the hottest dry cycle, too!!!


Water bottle!
These labels are great and they are exactly what the doctor ordered if you are looking for a reliable, simple, and stylish way of labeling your child's belongings or even your own.

Aside from how obviously utilitarian and adorable they are, they are also highly customizable so you can get exactly what you are looking for.  In addition to the labels I have above, you can also get:

- Iron On Labels
- Allergy Alert Labels
- Bag Tags
- Fun Stickies
- Medical or Vital ID Wristbands

The colours and designs are customizable so you can choose a theme that matches your child's interests or colours that match their stuff.  We chose trains, of course.  The exact dimensions and details of each product are on the website and the Loveable Label's staff are friendly and available to answer any questions you may have. 

If you want to order your own Back To School Pack or any of the other labels, you can use this Lovable Labels Coupon Code BTS2012SHARE to get $5 off your purchase of $25 or more.

You can also enter below to win a Back To School Pack for absolutely free!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*** Disclosure***  The products in this review were provided to me free of cost for the purpose of conducting the review.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation. Don't worry, if I don't like something, I'll let you know ;)

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