Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween: A Sensory Delight, or a Sensory Nightmare?

I love holidays because they always offer an opportunity to share new experiences with little kids.   Of course, different kids react differently to being exposed to new things, and Aias is one of those kids that approaches new things with suspicion and caution.  Last year he really loved Halloween, Christmas, and Easter because what's not to love... treats, presents, family, etc.  Awesome stuff.  Of course, there were also lots of things that were a little unnerving for him at first, and also quite a few things that remain unnerving.

Aias has some anxiety around touching new textures, be it in form of a food, a piece of clothing, or just an object.  Year round, he often finds it unbearable to try on new shoes or clothing because of how the fabric feels to him; some fabrics feel like they are "too tight" on him or like they are "burning" his skin.  It's hard for us to understand because we don't share the same anxieties.  When I say he finds it unbearable, I don't mean he "whines" or "tantrums" about it because he's having some sort of toddler control issue. What I mean is, he actually has a total panic attack about the items based on how they feel.  He hyperventilates, sobs, shakes, and won't even remove the item himself because he is so terrified of touching it.  It probably sounds totally strange to someone who doesn't have a kid that acts like this, and we thought so too at first.  While we still find it a little unusual, we are finally starting to understand that he's like this and are working toward making it better.

Halloween poses a few problematic issues for Aias.  Here are a few and how we've had to deal with them.

Costumes:  Lots of kids don't want to wear their Halloween costume because they just don't feel like it, or they don't want to wear a hat, or they are scared of being something else.  Sometimes they don't want to wear it simply because it isn't what they are used to.  In Aias's case, Halloween costumes are terrifying because he doesn't want to touch the unusual fabrics.  This year we had 2 costumes my mom sent us last year and we were hoping Aias would wear one of them.  One was an astronaut costume (a full, one piece cotton suit with a hat) and the second was a Frankenstein's Monster costume (hat, puffy top, fabric pants).

Aias liked both costumes in theory, and liked the idea of being a monster or an astronaut.  However, both costumes were very different from normal clothes Aias wears.  The astronaut costume covers the whole body head to toe and is a thinner, rougher fabric than normal clothes. There's also a hat in a different style than what he's comfortable with.  I tried this costume first, and Aias was terrified. He said he was going to be "stuck" in the suit. The Frankenstein's Monster costume I tried next, but I should have known better, because the stiffened felt and stuffed plush parts of the outfit, combined with the stiff cotton, caused an absolute panic attack in Aias.

I had to ask myself at this point, who are these costumes for: us, or Aias.  Was it really worth having him wear a costume if it wasn't any fun for him at all? In fact, not only just "not fun," but cause of actual emotional distress?

Thank goodness And Mommy Makes 3 had given us a pair of glow in the dark skeleton pajamas from Old Navy; they were in the same style and felt the same as the pjs Aias happily wears every night, so the "worst case scenario" would be that he would wear those, even though they wouldn't be warm enough so they'd effectively be hidden under a coat. 

I decided to give it one more try and I took him to Old Navy to look at the costumes there because he's worn an Old Navy costume for the past few years. The good thing about those costumes is that they are the same quality as regular clothes (so they feel like regular clothes) and they are made of fleece, which is a fabric that doesn't panic him.  We stood in the costume aisle and looked at the much-picked-over costumes.  He could choose between a monkey, a tiger, a hamburger, a butterfly, a cupcake, and a strawberry; all costumes they had in his size.  We talked about the costumes, and why each one would or wouldn't work. The monkey and tiger costumes had puffy feet on the bottom and plush inside them, and this bothered him a lot.  The strawberry costume had plush in it.  The hamburger costume had plush in it.  The butterfly and cupcake he both wanted, but in the end, he decided the butterfly wouldn't work because he didn't want to wear the antennae and he didn't like the tiny pieces of tulle on the shoulders.  The cupcake won, although he said he was NOT going to wear the hat.

On Saturday Aias wore the cupcake outfit quite willingly to a Halloween event, and today for trick-or-treating at the mall, he decided he would wear the skeleton pjs.  

Pumpkins:  Growing up, I always loved the whole pumpkin carving thing, but I was appalled with the gooey inside of the pumpkin and the smell of it. I would leave the room while my mom scooped the guts out. I'd then be able to draw the face on the pumpkin and let my mom cut it up.

It's no wonder Aias has all these sensory issues, I clearly have a few of my own. I quite honestly would not even consider touching the inside of a pumpkin (or even being in the room while someone else did) until Aias was born.  I decided I was NOT going to create weirdness for him around pumpkin carving (although a lot of good that did in the end).  I decided I was going to conquer the pumpkin carving.  For Aias's first Halloween, I cut, scooped, and carved my first pumpkin EVER in my whole life.   Of course, I sort of cheated and did it with rubber gloves on.

This year was the first year Aias really took part in it, and of course (as I suspected), he wouldn't go near the pumpkin goo because it was "slippery and messy" and he didn't want to touch "the strings."  He also didn't want to touch the rubber gloves because they felt "too tight."    We solved this by letting him draw on the pumpkins and also just leaving the option open to play with the insides and seeds.  He opted out, as I suspected, but we didn't make any big deal of it.

It is sort of sad to me, that things like costumes and pumpkin carving, which are really exciting new experiences for so many kids, are just disturbing to Aias.  I hope that in time we will be able to work with him so he's able to enjoy these things instead of finding them stressful.  I work with kids in my home and I see first hand how much the other kids enjoy things like dressing up, costumes, wearing the rubber gloves, scooping out the pumpkin guts, handling the seeds, etc.  It's very strange for me to see kids react to that stuff with excitement instead of with apprehension, but hopefully in time, Aias will be able to be the same. And if he can't be the same, at least we can strive to find ways that he can enjoy the fun things about the holidays with modifications that can make it a great experience for him. 





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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

40 Printable Halloween Party Games

We love printables around here because they can be re-used over and over again, and they are more practical than purchasing multiple hard copies for multiple children.  Beyond that, we like that someone else has taken the time to compile and design them, because goodness knows we don't really have a lot of time to be doing that around here. 

We were lucky enough to have a chance to review 40 printable Halloween party games from Python Printable Games.



This set of printable Halloween games, which only costs about 20 bucks, contains 40 different printables!  Aias is just under 3 years old, but I would say this set is great for 3+. There's a vast assortment of games that I think would be totally appropriate for classroom use and for use with people of all ages.   We'll probably be printing a few of them for the Social Committee members in our building who are taking the time to hand out the candy; they are good clean Halloween fun for everyone!

Our three favourites were the Halloween Tongue Twisters and the Halloween Memo Match, both which were completely relevant and interesting to toddlers:


The Halloween Tongue Twisters are great for working on Aias's speech, and the Halloween Memo Match would be lovely to print in colour and laminate and use for years to come.

You can buy these games separately for $4.95 a piece, but you may as well get 40 of them for $19.95 rather than 4 for $20, sort of like getting 36 additional games for free. 

I'm not able to share these downloads with my readers, but if you'd like, you can download some free printable Halloween colouring pages and also a coupon for $5 off downloads at Python Printable Games.


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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Profile of Ethical Gear: The North Face

These endlessly rainy days serve as a reminder to many of us that a cold, dark, and wet winter lies ahead.  We feel sad to see the days of our warm, sunny hikes with our children coming to an end for another season, but hang in there... after all, there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear, right?

It can be tempting, for some, to head to Walmart or another cheap box store to buy things like rain coats, boots, and outdoor gear for any season.  After all, why spend tons of money on clothing that won't fit kids for very long?

We agree with the "why spend so much" sentiment when it comes to school or play clothes, but when it comes to outdoor gear, we find you get exactly what you pay for.  A proper seam-sealed, breathable rain coat, for example, can make all the difference in how comfortable and protected your child is while out on outdoor adventure.  And from a more self-serving perspective, we all know that if the littlest members of our excursions aren't satisfied, it's generally game-over for everyone.


For these reasons and more, we always buy outdoor gear from companies that know what they are doing.   Of course, awesome outdoor gear often comes at a premium price and understandably so. There are tons of outdoor gear companies with great products, so how should a consumer decide where to spend their dollars?

One suggestion I will make is to spend your dollars on a company that not only makes reliable products, but a company that gives back to the community and to the environment.  After all, if you have a love of the great outdoors and want to share it with your children, it stands to reason that you want to see these precious resources stick around.

The North Face is one company that truly demonstrates a commitment not only to sustainability and the environment, but to making sure all kids have a chance to connect with it.  As an outdoor enthusiast, blogger, and parent, I was pleased to learn about Planet Explore, an online community designed to help individuals and families learn about and participate in outdoor activities and events in their area. Powered by partner organizations that share their passion, Planet Explore is a portal to the outdoors designed to inspire and enable people of all ages to become regularly active outside, and to develop the benefits gained through a connection to nature.



Planet Explore is not just an online community.  Through the Explore Fund The North Face supports organizations that encourage youth outdoor participation, focusing primarily on creating more connections of children to nature, increasing access to both front & back country recreation, as well as providing education for both personal & environmental health.  You can read more about Planet Explore here, and apply for a grant here.

I feel great purchasing products that I know will keep my child comfortable and safe, but will also contribute to ensuring that every child and person has an opportunity to connect with the environment on a close and personal level.  After all, a child that falls in love with the outdoors from a young age is far more likely to grow up wanting to protect it.


This post inspired by the Blog For Gear contest put on by The North Face Vancouver.  Check them out on Facebook, tell them Aias Dot Ca sent you!
 
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Vancouver Inspiration Pass: See Our City's Attractions for FREE!

If you are a Vancouver local like myself, you know that there are tons of awesome things to do around the city.  Of course, these things all cost money.  Some people quality for a LAC pass that grants them access to attractions around the city, but you have to have a pretty low income to qualify for that. 

We've had to budget to decide which attractions would serve us best, and then we saved for family memberships.  The two places we decided would be best for our family are the Vancouver Aquarium and Science World.  Of course, there are lots of other places in the city we would love to visit with Aias, but it can get pretty expensive.  Even to go just once to test the waters could cost up to $100 a family for a single day trip... a pretty high price tag. 

I want to introduce you to the Vancouver Inspiration Pass.  This new initiative is a free cultural and recreational pass program that allows families and teens to get out and explore their city in a whole new way.  In a nutshell, this is a pass you can borrow once a year for two weeks, and during those two weeks, you can check out a number of Vancouver Attractions for 100% free!  Here's how it works (taken straight from their website):

How to Get Your Pass

To borrow a Vancouver Inspiration Pass, you must be a Vancouver resident aged 14-years or older with a valid Vancouver Public Library card.

If you do not have a library card, you can apply for a FREE card online or at any Vancouver Public Library branch.

Using your library card, you can place a request for a pass via the library’s online catalogue. If you’re not sure how to do this, please ask for assistance at any library branch or call 604-331-3603.

Please note that passes cannot be transferred to another location and must be picked up at the owning branch.

Picking Up Your Pass

Once the pass is available, the library will contact you.

After the first one-week notification, the pass will be automatically checked out to your library card for a two week period. Borrowing periods always begin on Thursday and conclude on Wednesday evening. For example, Thursday, November 1 to Wednesday, November 14.

You may pick up the pass anytime during this period, however the pass expires two weeks after date of availability. So, pick up your pass as soon as possible to ensure you can use it as often as possible.

Where Can You Use Your Pass?

You can use your pass to get general admission to the following city attractions:
Each pass may be redeemed by the following groups:
  • Family: Two adults and up to four children aged 18-years and younger.
  • Youth: Up to six young people aged 14 to 18 years old.
Questions and Comments
For more information about Vancouver Public Library or the Vancouver Inspiration program, contact the library at 604-331-3603 or info@vpl.ca.

 
 
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Win a KinderGlo Portable Night Light like Ours!

Aias is a horrible bed hog, so we are trying to encourage him to sleep in his own little bed.   This has taken much encouraging.  We wanted to try a night light that sticks into the wall, but Aias has an obsession with electrical sockets, so we didn't want something that plugged in, just so he could unplug it and shove something else into the socket.  A flashlight worked for a while, but I didn't like leaving him alone in a room at night with something he could remove batteries from (paranoid, I know).

I stumbled upon these KinderGlo night lights and thought they were adorable. Best of all, they are fun, safe, and portable. They looked like they'd meet my exact needs.  I had to try one, so we chose the hippo. 

When it arrived in the mail, I was really excited (as I usually am).  When I opened the box, I was pleased to see that the quality of the night light was even better than I expected. 

Do you see that little blue base underneath the hippo itself (5.25" x 4.5" x 3")? That blue base plugs into your wall.  You can plug it in somewhere completely out of your child's reach. During the day, you can leave your Kinderglo Night light plugged in so that the battery is charged so that your child can be given the device before they go to bed, but they have no access to the battery or the 6 foot cord itself.  This charger is compatible with all KinderGlo characters, by the way.

The KinderGlo nightlight has some pretty cool features, too.  It can be set to auto-shut off after 30 minutes, or to continuously glow.  It can also operate in four colour cycling modes; continuous cycle (all colours of the rainbow), or just red, blue, or green.

It is such a simple product, but it really meets all of our needs:

- No easily removable batteries
- Charging station
- No removable parts to choke on
- Auto-shut off and continuous glow modes
- Multiple colour options
- Adorable and fun for a kid
- Provides just enough light to allow for sleeping
- BPA and lead free


If you would like to purchase one of these adorable lights, here's a coupon code for free shipping on a KinderGlo Night Light: UN9X93CKLW93
 
Even better, if you'd like to WIN your choice of either a Hippo, Owl, or Bear night light, please enter to win below!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


 
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Small Victory in the Potato Chip War

Much to our horror, thanks to birthday parties and fun events, Aias is horribly obsessed with chips of all kind.  He can spot a bag or bowl of chips from across a crowded gymnasium or grocery store.  Even just seeing a Lays potato chip truck gets him craving them, begging for them, and driving us nuts.  The worst part is, he can't seem to handle moderation... if he has a single chip, he literally whines about them for days, refusing to eat anything else. Needless to say, it's a problem.

In the past, I hate to admit, we've often given in to his requests.  We've usually done it when we were in a line, or a place where you really don't want a toddler flipping out, and when we know that just handing the kid a bag of chips will buy us 30 minutes of good behaviour.   Because of our digressions, he doesn't take no very well.  In the past few weeks we've decided to outright say no to chips unless we are at a gathering, and to absolutely NOT purchase them under any circumstance.  This hasn't stopped him from asking of course.

Today we stopped by the dollar store to grab some of those LED lights you can put into jack-o-lanterns.  It was supposed to be a quick trip, and it was, for the most part. I did my best to navigate the stroller around the store in such a way that we would be able to avoid chips.  Unfortunately, chips were everywhere. 

"Chips! Chips to eat!" Aias begged. "Please, please, please, chips to eat?"

I explained that we weren't getting chips today, and offered other snacks instead (string cheese, raisins, apple slices, seaweed strips, etc).  He didn't want any of those things, of course. In fact, offering them just made him seem to want chips even more.

"CHIPS! CHIPS! CHIPS TO EAT PLEASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSEEEEEE!" he screamed.

The heat was on. I needed to keep saying no.  The power was all mine in this situation, the worst he could do was cry and scream, and he was already doing that.  He is only 2, and doesn't have the money to buy chips himself, so I didn't need to worry about that.

"I'm sorry Aias, I know you would really like chips.  We aren't having chips today, though, so if you are hungry you can have a look through the lunch box and pick any snack from it you like."

"CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!"

"I know you want chips really badly, but we aren't having chips today. I'm sorry."

"CHIPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! EATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT! PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

At this point I had a bit of an audience.  Luckily he was in the stroller and wasn't trying to flee and take the chips.  As we left the store, he continued to scream.  After about 4 (very, very, long) minutes, he stopped.

"Cheese?" he asked.

"Yes of course." I replied.

PHEW.  Crisis averted.

I hate moments like that.  It feels awful to say no to your kid.  It also feels awful to hear them scream and cry, and be unhappy.  At the same time, it's 100% my responsibility to make sure he's healthy, and I know from experience that buying him the chips would have given me a pretty quiet walk home, but it would have meant he wouldn't eat lunch, he'd be lacking proper nutrients, he'd be in a crappy mood as a result, etc, etc.  Now it's nap time, everyone is asleep, and I'm really happy to say that he ate a (somewhat) normal lunch that he definitely wouldn't have eaten if he'd had those chips.




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Friday, October 19, 2012

The Mystery of "The Stupid Kid"

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. 

We all know that's not true, so we try really hard to protect our kids from having their feelings hurt for fear of long term damage.  

The other night Morgan and Aias were playing Lego and Aias fumbled a bit on something he was building, and then he said:

"Aias is a stupid kid."

We were shocked.  We can honestly say, without a doubt, that Aias did NOT pick that up around  here.  We rarely (if ever) even use the word stupid.  As kids, I'm pretty sure the word "stupid" was actually considered a swear in our house.  We would also never call each other or Aias stupid. 

This means, of course, that Aias heard it somewhere else.  We panicked a bit, and we asked Aias where he heard it. Aias has limited language, and was sort of just staring at us when we asked. Then we asked him if someone said it to him, and he said yes.  So of course we asked who, but he didn't say.  At one point in our long line of (probably leading) questions, he claimed it was a kid at his school and used a name, but we can't be entirely sure we didn't just lead him to saying it or make him feel pressured to give an answer. 

We feel a little bit stressed about this, to be honest.  We only recently started sending him to preschool, so for 5 hours each week, Aias is completely out of our sight.  We don't know what people say to him and we don't witness any interactions he may have with other people.  We'd hate to think that we are sending him somewhere where he will be called a stupid kid. 

Of course, we can't really jump to any conclusions.  Aias likes preschool a lot, and we can't know for certain where he picked this up until he has more language to be able to communicate with us.  And the reality is, there are a lot of places and circumstances where Aias could have picked this up.  He could have heard another kid say it to another kid at a playgroup, on the playground, in the grocery store, on the street. He could have heard an adult say it to a kid in any of those places, too. He could have heard an adult say it ABOUT a kid.  He could have had it said to him by another kid or another adult (we really hope this isn't the case). It could have been someone at the park, or walking on the street, who mumbled it under their breathe.  He could have heard it on the radio in a shop. He could have seen it on a cartoon.  There are so many places where he could have picked it up.

What scares us most isn't that he repeated it... Aias echoes quite a bit now as his language develops further. What scares us the most is how he uses it in context.  For the last few days, whenever he fumbles with anything, he says "stupid kid."   While he's still too young to really understand what that means,  I hope this isn't something that sticks, for his sake, because he certainly isn't a "stupid kid."

Our best line of defence at this point, has been to consistently remind Aias any time he says "stupid kid" that it isn't nice to say and that it isn't true of him or anyone else.  It's a little disheartening that we are already having to deal with this and he's not even 3-years-old yet.  It's sort of a scary reminder that we can't protect him from the world after all.



 
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Attacking Problem Eating in a Toddler: Round One

Those of my readers who know me well know that Aias is seeing a team of specialists for problem eating. Don't worry, he's perfectly healthy, just very stubborn about food and very limited in what he's willing to consume.  He's small for his age so we want to make sure that he gets help with this sooner than later.*

We've tried all the basic "tricks" and tips for getting a picky kid to eat, and those haven't been very successful for us.  We recently met with a nutrition consultant and having seen the limited list of foods he's ever been willing to taste in his life (under 50) and the number of foods he's willing to eat on a regular basis (under 12), she decided the best approach for us to take would be to go back to the basics of a good old fashioned eating plan.  We are to try this plan until early November, then we will meet with our pediatrician again to talk about seeing an Occupational Therapist.  She said that the Occupational Therapist will want to know if we've tried this already, and if we didn't, they'd insist we try it before anything else anyway, so we've begun this plan and have been sticking to it pretty rigidly for a few days.  I thought people may be curious about the plan, so here are the basic rules.

First off, we have to eat on a schedule instead of grazing. This is of the utmost importance for success.  Aias was the kind of kid that wanted to graze on breast milk and cracker-type foods all day, so he was never really hungry enough to want to try something else.

Second, we need to either all eat the same thing, OR if there is a restaurant situation, Aias needs to be offered what each of the adults are eating so that he can be in the presence of someone eating the same food.

The schedule is sort of like this for us:

Breakfast 7:30am
Snack 10am
Lunch 12:30pm
Snack 3pm
Dinner 5:30pm
Snack 7pm

She said the most important is that 2-3 hours passes between meals.  For smaller kids 2, for larger kids 3.  

Food needs to go in front of the kid for NO LONGER than 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, the meal is done.  No big deal should be made about how much food wasn't eaten, but it's ok to praise food that has been eaten.

Each meal needs to consist of a full serving of one item the child will almost certainly eat... rice, noodle, etc for us.  This means something healthy; not potato chips or something.  It should also include at LEAST one other thing that is "new."  This doesn't mean that it always has to be something different. It's ok for the same "new" items to appear a few times in a week.  In fact, that's good, because then the child will get familiar with it.  Often the child won't eat the new thing or even try it, and that's ok.  No big deal should be made of what they ate or how much they ate of it.  Adults should also be seen consuming the "new" item. 

No bribes including food can be used as rewards incentives during this time, especially not for tasting or eating food. It's ok to say "If you taste your peas, we can read a book after dinner" but if it doesn't happen, just let it go.  It isn't ok to badger the kid, and it isn't ok to offer a dessert or "yummy food" as a reward for eating a new food because that implies that you think the new food is yucky and that someone should be rewarded with better food for eating it.

If the kid sits down at the meal, eats the thing they like, and ignores the thing they don't like, then asks for more of the food they do like, it's advised to not indulge. 

Between meals, there shouldn't be any snacks.  There should also be no juice or milk.  For some kids, water will fill them up, but for others it won't.  (I personally wouldn't withhold water from Aias).

Snacks and meals should be rotated regularly so the kids never anticipate what foods they will be having, either.

Our job: to be in control of the schedule and the foods that are offered.
His job: to decide what he will eat, won't eat, and how much.

Finally, in our case, nursing needs to be limited.  Aias has been reducing the number of times he nurses in a day, but for the most part, he's been using grazing on breast milk as an excuse to not eat things he doesn't like.  We are nursing when he wakes up, and before bed, and I encourage water when he asks during the day.


We're not certain what to do if he goes a whole day without eating at all, but luckily that hasn't been an issue yet (touch wood).  So far, the plan has been working out nicely.  I have to admit, it's been the hardest on us.  I'll keep everyone updated on his progress.

*Please note: this plan is behavioural, so it operates under the assumption that physical or sensory issues with food, phobias, and other serious psychological issues aren't the cause behind the problem eating.  Part of the reason we are trying this is to help narrow the problem down because generally, over time, this type of plan (if used consistently over a period of time) will produce success in many kids. 

 
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Case of the [Not] Counterfeit Ergo Baby Carrier

I figured I would blog about this situation because I found blogs useful during my quest to determine the authenticity of my Ergo Baby Carrier.  I hope this blog entry can help someone else in the same quest.

I could go on a long narrative about this as I usually do, but I think I'll just copy and paste the email I sent to www.snugglebugz.ca and http://store.ergobaby.com/ this past weekend.  I think it will give you a pretty clear understanding of the situation:

Hey there,

To clarify the recipients of this email, I'm sending this email to both companies involved (Ergo Baby and Snugglebugz.ca) as well as to the potential Craigslist buyer I was corresponding with.

In the spring of 2009 we purchased a Forest Green Organic Ergo Baby Carrier and Infant Insert in anticipation of the birth of our son who was born in early November 2009.  See invoice below.

When our son was born we found that the Ergo did not live up to our expectations as we hoped it would be more friendly for hiking, etc.  It turned out we didn't like it, so after using it once we returned it to the box and it has since been sitting in a closet.

We were doing some clearing out of closets and storage this past month, and we pulled the Ergo and Infant Insert out of the closet and posted them to Craigslist.  See ad:  
[Ad location here]

I was contacted by a potential buyer, [buyer name here], and she asked me to take several pictures of the Ergo, including the inside warning on the Ergo itself, the logos, and the shape of the insert.  There are photos of all these things and more in this album (I didn't want to put attachments since they are such large photos): 
[http://imgur.com/a/RXbQs#0]

[The potential buyer] has concluded, having seen these pictures, that this is not a genuine Ergo but a counterfeit. 


I would like some clarification on this matter.  If this is, in fact, a counterfeit Ergo, I would like a refund of my money from Snugglebugz and an explanation.  It would be helpful if both Snugglebugz and Ergo Baby could shed some light on this.

I can be reached at this email address, or at [
xxx.xxx.xxxx] at any time.

I hope for a timely response, please, as I do want to sell the Ergo and I will not feel comfortable doing so if it is indeed a counterfeit.

I'm sorry for troubling you all with this if this is, in fact, a genuine Ergo. I have a lot of respect for Snugglebugz.ca and Ergo Baby as companies and I understand this could be a very stressful matter for all.  Please don't think I am being accusatory, I would, in fact, be totally astounded if this were anything but a genuine Ergo.


Cheers,


Monika Whitney
[XXX.XXX.XXXX]

The email also contained an exact copy of the original snugglebugz.ca invoice from  6-10-09.

So there you have it. TL;DR: I am selling my Ergo on Craigslist, a buyer believed it to be a counterfeit, and instead of "letting it go" I had to get to the bottom of it. 

I received a quick and timely response from Snugglebugz.ca as seen below:


Hello Monika,

Thank you for your inquiry and feedback!  On our end, we sell legitimate Ergo carries and we are aware that there are links that are selling counterfeit ones as we’ve had customers wanting us to price match them on those illegitimate sites and have refused because of that. Your best bet is to contact Ergo to confirm that what you bought was legit.  From the pictures you sent us, it looks like you have a legit one, but just follow up with the company about it.  Hope that helps, have a great day!  J

Thanks,
Sandy
Snuggle Bugz Sales Team
P: 1-877-768-4284 x 57

After receiving this response, my last hope was that I'd receive a response from Ergo.  I wasn't entirely certain I had sent my email to the appropriate parties (I tried hannah@ergobaby.com and info@ergobaby.com), so this morning I decided to forward the entire thread of emails to ca@ergobaby.com.  Literally within minutes, I received a call from Cathy at Fulton Sales.  Cathy assured me that Fulton Sales represents Ergo in Canada,that their distributor is Alca Distribution, and that Snugglebugz.ca is, in fact, an authorized Ergo seller. To re-confirm what I then already knew, I simply went to the snugglebugz.ca website, looked at the address of one of their two retail stores, and typed it into the tool on the Ergo Baby website that helps you find an authorized retailer:

http://store.ergobaby.com/Content/Retailers#

You can see for yourself, the two addresses of Snugglebugz retail stores are "3245 Fairview St Burlington, ON L7N 3L1" and "1160 Steeles Ave. East Milton, ON."

Ergo Baby does address counterfeits on their website, and there are also several blog entries on the same topic.   However, Cathy from Fulton Sales said that two things may have thrown my potential buyer off was that my Ergo was from 2009 which meant:

1.  It came with an OLD style of the infant insert
2.  It came with a DVD, which Ergos no longer do

There are probably some other factors as well. For example, my Ergo is Canadian, and some of the "counterfeit detection" posts are US Ergos.  A US Ergo has Spanish on the inside, and a Canadian one has french, for example.  Then of course, you have to factor in the age of my Ergo.

I considered writing my own "how to spot a counterfeit Ergo" post on here, but then I realized, there are probably exceptions to the rules which would mean a post like that would probably just give someone ELSE with a genuine Ergo a bunch of trouble if someone were to stumble upon my post in an effort to try and determine the authenticity of their Ergo. There are so many "exceptions" that I don't think that sort of diagnostic would be entirely helpful. 

The happy ending here is that I'm 100% confident my Ergo is a genuine one now, and even though we won't likely be using it again, I'm still happy to know this. 

There's something else I'm confident about:

If you want to purchase an Ergo and you want to be 100% certain it is authentic, you may have to be willing to shell out the additional $$$ in order to purchase the Ergo new and from an authorized dealer.  Not every Craigslist seller is going to be willing to jump through these sorts of hoops so that you can save $75+ on a used Ergo.  I know it's often cheaper to buy used on Craigslist, but if it matters that much to you, you may as well just be willing to shell out the full price for the genuine article. 

A picture from the one occasion we actually wore Aias in the Ergo. 




 
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

On Halloween Candy and Preschoolers

Halloween and Trick-Or-Treating are awesome.  Last year we took Aias and a friend around the neighborhood, and they had an absolute blast knocking on doors, saying "trick-or-treat," and collecting goodies.

We were, however, very conflicted about what to do with Aias's tremendous bounty at the end of the night.  Last year he was just under 2 years old, and this year he will be nearly 3.  He knows all about how delicious candy is, and we know too!  We also know how horrible he behaves when he has it, how bad it is for his teeth, how he has one piece and gets tunnel vision from eating it... only wanting to eat candy for days and acting like "real food" is hideous poison.  Probably the worst part about the candy was that we were eating it like crazy ourselves. 

This year, we are discussing in advance what to do about the candy (we love when people give out chips, because those are a relatively benign snack).  Yeah, we know Halloween is only one day and realistically speaking, candy won't literally kill our preschooler.  At the same time, we don't want to absolutely torture ourselves (and him), so we want to come up with a reasonable "solution" as to how to "deal" with the abundance of candy that trick-or-treating often yields, without having to deny him the trick-or-treating experience entirely.

Here are some ideas we have heard of parents doing over the last few years:

-  Letting the kids eat as much candy as they want when they get home from trick-or-treating (think: candy binge), then whatever they can't eat that night gets thrown or given away

- Taking control of the candy and doling it out after dinner, one piece a night as dessert, until the candy is gone

- Letting them trade the candy for a toy, then the parents can either throw the candy out or put it away out of the child's reach

- Coming back from trick-or-treating early, and giving out the candy to other trick-or-treaters (once you've checked it all)

- Giving the candy away, either to older kids or by having an adult bring it to work and put it in the lunchroom

- Letting the kid just keep the candy and manage it themselves

- Putting the candy aside to decorate a gingerbread house/cookies for Christmas

- Putting the candy out on the table at an upcoming event (luckily Aias has an early November birthday!) or in a pinata, then more people can enjoy it instead of just one kid

We are strongly leaning toward letting him trade the candies in for a small Lego set. 

What do you guys think?

Last year's Halloween



 
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Friday, October 12, 2012

What a Pickled Salmon Head Taught Me About My Picky Two-Year-Old

It's funny how much easier it is to understand your child when you are able to put a frustrating situation into perspective.  Let me explain:

Long story short, Aias is an incredibly picky eater.  So picky, in fact, that he's actually seeing a team of specialists (occupational therapist, pediatricians, nutrition consultant) just to get him to eat things that aren't beige, because he's eating so little that it's actually impacting his daily life.  Don't worry, he's still very healthy, just small and very stressed out about food.

Anyone with a picky eater or a child who has issues with food knows that mealtime is a constant struggle and getting food and nutrients into your child becomes an overwhelming thorn in your side that constantly wears at you.  It's very frustrating to put something you know is delicious in front of your child and to have them act as though you are attempting to poison them.  For the love of God, just TRY it you think to yourself, especially if you know they'd love it if they only just tasted a speck of it.

Last night we we out to a local sushi place for dinner.  Aias was asleep in the stroller and we could tell he was out for the night, so instead of ordering our regular (sashimi salad and two house rolls), we thought it would be fun to order the traditional korean meal the restaurant is known for.  The meal is called "Sashimi for Two" and it includes a huge platter of sashimi, pickled beet, grilled fish, tempura, salads, seafood hotpot,and a chef's special.  Sounds good, right?  We thought so, so we ordered it.

When the food arrived at the table, it was... well, I'm sure it was top of the line for what it was.  Of course, we are two very western white people who spent a lot of our lives as vegetarians.  We are used to eating meats that look nothing like the animals they came from, and never really gave much of a thought to things like bones, eyeballs, fins... all those things on fish that you try not to think of when you are eating them.  Growing up in North America and being a dozen steps away from the origin of our food, we are adjusted to food that is... not staring at us.  What arrived at the table was grilled fish alright... complete with fins, scales, bones, eyes, everything.   We slowly picked at it, examining every piece and speck, conscious of the fact that this fish gave it's life and that we did not want to waste it, but also suddenly very aware that we weren't socially and culturally familiar with these food items and we suddenly felt very vanilla!  The more food arrived, the more disturbed we were by it, which is so embarrassing to admit.

What really threw us through a loop was the pickled beets.  They were sitting in a bowl with something else... it turned out to be a pickled salmon head.

I'm not sure if you've ever seen a pickled salmon head, but it isn't pretty.  This salmon head was especially not pretty, because it was sort of turned inside out so that you could totally tell it was a salmon head, but mangled.  We both felt like we could read the salmon's last thoughts.  Argh. It was tough.

We would never have lasted on Fear Factor to say the least, but we did pick through it and eat as much as we could stomach.

At one point during the meal Morgan said "you know, I bet you this is exactly how Aias feels whenever we put strange food in front of him."

I paused when he said it, thought about it, and then I felt really bad.  Because you know what? I bet you he's exactly right.

There were dozens of other people in the restaurant eating this same meal and absolutely delighting in it.  And to be honest, the taste of the food we did eat was pretty darn good, but we were so hung up on the unfamiliarity of it all and the presentation of the food, that we could barely stand it.  There we were, treating this new food with the same suspicion and concern Aias has when he's offered, well, just about anything that isn't beige.  We often give Aias things we deem to be delightful and we are totally confused about why he won't eat it, why he examines and picks about every bite, why he looks for specks of undesirables in every crumb of it. 

Now, I feel like I sort of get it.  Aias is little, and he's not accustom to every food out there.  Most of the things we offer are unfamiliar and new, because he's only 2 years old.  In some way, maybe it's like we are putting a different pickled salmon head in front of the poor kid at every meal and then we are wondering why he doesn't just dive in.   We discussed this at length and asked ourselves how hungry we'd have to be to have eaten the salmon eyeballs, or if we would have just held off until something more familiar was available to eat (we went home feeling hungry still and pigged out on pumpkin spice ice cream!).  Lots of times we expect Aias will just eat things if he's "hungry" enough, but maybe he won't.  Maybe a salmon head looks just as unappetizing to some people whether their tummies are full or empty.  We expect a lot of things when Aias is unfamiliar with food we've supplied, but being in a similar position as him for a while was really interesting. 

I think we will be a little more sensitive about his food fears from now on, although I do hope that eventually, he will become familiar with all of these foods and won't grow up to look at new foods like they are.

And I think for a while, we will probably be vegetarians.



 
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Parenting Time Capsule: Or, a Recipe for To Eat Your Words...

In less than a month, Aias will turn 3 years old- I can't even believe I just typed that. Time has truly flown. 

A few days ago I rebooted my old Macbook and stumbled upon a file I wrote on October 25th 2009.  This file was a time capsule that I decided to write and planned to open on Aias's third birthday.  I had completely forgotten, but found it again, just in time.

What's inside the time capsule? All my parenting predictions, opinions, and thoughts... BEFORE actually becoming a parent and raising a baby/toddler.  Why did I do it? I wanted to know if I'd REALLY change after becoming a parent... it seemed impossible that I would, but what did I know!

I am not going to open it until Aias's birthday (November 8th) and it will be hilarious to read.   I already know there are so many things I said I'd "never" do that I've not only done... but that I do regularly! 

I strongly suggest that every pregnant person I know do this.  In the next few days, I'll type out some of the questions I asked myself (I believe they are on my computer in a separate file) and then you can use or modify them, and then save them on your computer or print them out and tuck them away.  Answer truthfully and be thorough.  You won't need to answer to anyone, only your future self.

I know this is a cliche, but there's a reason for it... becoming a parent is truly life altering.  You can never really know the kind of parent you'll be until you live it.  You'll also never know what kind of kid you'll have until you meet them, even if you've had kids already.  People told me this over and over, and I even told this to myself, but I didn't really understand what it meant until after Aias was born. 

If anything, I think this exercise will end up being a few things. First off, hilarious.  I already know of a few things I backtracked on almost immediately (Aias is totally watching Max and Ruby right now on Netflix, that was never going to happen right...).  Second, thought provoking. Third, a good time to eat my own words. Finally, a time to reflect on how we perceive other parents and their parenting intentions and actions. 

I'll leave you with this post I made a long time ago, it's one of my favourites as it talks about how perfect I was at parenting before I ever became a parent ;)  

And stay tuned, because I'll be posting the results of my time capsule on Aias birthday...



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Monday, October 1, 2012

Read About Throwing a Discovery Toys Party, and Win A Giant Pegboard!

A few months ago, something caught my eye.  Since Aias was born, I've been seriously interested in toys of all kinds, and I started to notice that many toys that I'd fallen in love with at play areas were the Discovery Toys brand.  A quick Google revealed to me that Discovery Toys is a successful direct sales company specializing in educational toys that has been around for over 30 years.  Think Tupperware, but with TOYS!



I had to learn more about these awesome toys, so I poked around the Internet until I came across Amanda Raichelle, the Independent Educational Leader and Discovery Toys Consultant at www.4aboy.ca.  Amanda, a self-professed "toy lady" who has long loved toys even before Discovery Toys was a part of her life,  is pretty much everything you could ever want in a Discovery Toys consultant.  Amanda is friendly, enthusiastic, and incredibly knowledgeable on all things child development related.

Anyone can shop online for Discovery Toys products, as long as they find their local consultant's website or contact information, but I wanted to have the full-on Discovery Toys party experience.   Yesterday afternoon, we held a party in the common room of my building, and let me tell you, it was an absolute blast.  I want to share the process with you because I really think it's a worthwhile and totally fun thing to do with your friends and family.  If you are in the Vancouver area, I strongly suggest you contact Amanda Raichelle to help you host one.

So, here's how you go about planning a party.  The party planning process was fairly simple, once you've set a date.  Setting the date and time was actually the most difficult part for me because I wanted to ensure it was the time frame where the vast majority of my friends could attend.  I knew it had to be a weekend, that it couldn't occur during "naptime" (usually 1pm around these parts), and that it didn't happen during another huge popular event.  Sunday September 30th at 3pm-5pm was the best time for us as it met all the above criteria.  I think I had suggested 3-4 dates before this one, and Amanda was able to accommodate them all, and I kept being a pest and changing it up; she was so very patient with me about all this, too!

Once the date was set, I invited people both in person and through email.  I printed an invite on pretty paper, and stuffed them into my purse to pass to people at Aias's preschool, playgroups we attend, and to local friends I see in person on a regular basis.  For people who lived further away or who I didn't often see in person, I sent out the same wording but in a more personalized email.  I explained that this was similar to a Tupperware party but with toys, to be really clear that there would be a sales component to the party.

Between sending out the invitations and the actual party itself, there wasn't a lot of preparation on my part at all.  I basically had to just continue to remind people about the party and think of additional people to invite.  I also reminded people that if they weren't able to attend the party but still wanted to place an order, they could do so at www.4aboy.ca and could search my name as the host.

When the actual party day arrived, it took little to no preparation on my part.  I stopped in at the grocery store in the morning and picked up some simple snacks (veggies, crackers, chips, cookies, fruit, some dips, juice, and soda water) and then spent the rest of the morning completely stress-free at the Word on the Street Festival.  I returned home about an hour before the party began to meet Amanda and to set up.

When Amanda arrived, it was amazing; her car contained four giant Discovery Toys duffle bags and inside those bags were... a PARTY!  Amanda really has her act together when it comes to throwing these parties; I've thrown Tupperware parties before where the consultant comes with a small suitcase of products and it's fairly unexciting, but Amanda showed up with just about every single toy in the catalogue, tablecloths and signage.  Within a few minutes our common room looked like a veritable toy showroom!

This is a poor representation as it is a cell phone picture taken when she was just starting to set up, but you get the idea.  This is a serious and professional operation!

Amanda is capable of accommodating anyone's preferences and needs when it comes to a party, but she did say she mostly does mom's night outs, parent workshop style parties, or showers.  She does have lots of experience in doing parties with children present as well, and that was the kind of party this was.  While a few of my friends were able to attend the party sans-kids, the majority of them needed to bring their kids and it was a mixed age group, so instead of a structured presentation, Amanda set the room up to have toy stations.  When the kids came in the room, they IMMEDIATELY took to the stations.  The parents were able to grab a drink or some snacks and sit down and have a look at the catalogue because the kids were so enthralled with the toys.

The first thing every child did, regardless of age, was go toward this toy, the Castle Marbleworks:

And Mommy Makes 3's kids playing with my friend Keely's kids, they looooved this toy!

For the first hour and fifteen minutes of the two hour party, the kids wandered around just checking out all the toys and exploring, while the parents had a chance to really chat with Amanda about which toys would be not only the most fun for their kids, but the most developmentally beneficial.  It was almost eerie how, during the that first hour or so, the kids were so incredibly focused, it seemed a lot quieter than it should have been!  I mean, we are talking about a room full of boisterous 3 year olds!  

By the end of the party everyone had played hard, eaten some nice treats, gotten their orders in, one lucky person won free shipping, and the party was over!  It was a simple clean up and then Amanda packed up her party and drove off into the sunset (heh!).

People who want to host parties are probably interested in the perks; why hold a party in the first place? Well, I'm sort of a dork and 90% of the reason I hosted the party was just for fun.  Another huge part of why I hosted it is because I'm genuinely interested in these toys, both for my own son and for my Family Child Care, and I don't find you can really get an appreciation of the toys just by seeing them online or in a catalogue.  Having the opportunity to see the toys in person, play with the toys and observe your child playing with the toys, is invaluable and totally validates your purchases.   I am not very good at looking at something in a picture online or in a catalogue and getting a full idea of what it's like.  The toys I ended up choosing were toys I would not have pinpointed from a photo had I not been able to interact with them in person.  

When you host a Discovery Toys party, you definitely get some tangible benefits as well.  For example, you are giving a percentage of the total sales in form of credits to purchase toys.  If one of your guests books a party, you also get a half off toy.  My party had about 8 guests and I earned some credit and was also able to buy a half-off toy.  For my half off toy, I chose the Motor Works which was $38.50 full price, on sale for $33, and then half off... $16.50!  I used my credits to buy the MagFun (discontinued) and Playful Patterns.  After shipping and tax, I ultimately got $115 worth of toys for $36.  

I want to take the time now to do two things:  first, I want to announce that from October 1st to October 10th, Aias Dot Ca is holding a Discovery Toys party of it's own!  If you go to www.4aboy.ca and see anything you wish to purchase, you can place your order through our party!  To find us as a host, search:

First Name: Aias
Last Name: Dotca

Second...Amanda is giving away my favourite Discovery Toy to one lucky Aias Dot Ca reader:



The Giant Pegboard is my favourite toy for a few reasons:

-  The board comes with 25 colourful pieces: a square, a triangle, a circle, a shaky star, and a hexagon in red, orange, green, blue and purple.  These pieces can be patterned, stacked, sorted, and arranged with inifinite possibility.  The set actually comes with cards that give you ideas, but if you Google various preschool montessori activities, these pieces can be used in place of those activities too.  For $30, you get unlimited activities with your kid. 

-  The age range on this toy means you'll be able to use it for a really long time.  The toy says 19+ months on it, and it goes well into primary school.  The toy itself won't change, but the activities your kids use it for will evolve and change over the years.

-  If you flip the toy over... it's a geoboard on the back!

At the end of the day when we are putting all the toys away, I love putting this one away.  I play a little brain exercise when I do it... lining all the pieces up in order by color and shape.  Very dorky, but a good chance to keep my brain working!

If you would like to win one of these, courtesy of Amanda at www.4aboy.ca, enter to win below! And PLEASE share this with your friends and family!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






 
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