Menu Close

Author: Deborah

Childhood Summers and #CampMemories

When I was 11, my best friend asked me, and our other best friend, if we would go to Mint Brook Camp with her that summer. Mint Brook was a week-long sleep-away camp, run by our church, and we were finally old enough to go. C’s mom had volunteered there for years and both of her sisters had gone. Her middle sister would even be one of our counselors!

Flawed system robs children of their childhood

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when my parents said yes! The next months were spent in anxious anticipation of the first week of August. And the camp fun began the moment our parents put us on that yellow school bus and sent us off down the highway. The singing, oh the singing! The patience of bus drivers is truly remarkable. “I go to Mint Brook Camp so pit-y me. There’s not a boy in the vi-cin-i-ty …”

For us, camp meant freedom and adventure and fun and independence. Ten girls in each of ten little cabins, playing, singing, swimming, learning together for 7 whole days and nights. It was kind of like a week-long sleepover party. But with rules and daily cabin inspection and early morning wake-up calls to attend flag raising. We were all assigned daily chores (peeling vegetables, gathering firewood, mopping the dining hall, etc.), and we signed up for activities in 3 sessions each day (swimming, canoeing, crafts, and more). Every evening brought some type of activity, plus chapel, and campfire. Our days were full and definitely structured. But nothing felt like a burden. Every moment was filled with the laughter and joy of trying new things with friends new and old.

It’s hard actually for me to pick a favourite memory. Everything to do with the water was amazing. Learning to paddle a canoe was certainly a highlight, as was the year that C and I were allowed to take our canoe up the river on our own, no counselor, with a younger camper in the middle seat. We knew every rock and log and shallow spot in that river. We knew which side of the island had the weaker current. And we knew just how close to the waterfall at the end of our paddle we could safely go (the bottom part of the waterfall, not the top, don’t worry). We felt so mature and trusted.

And one night we slept under the stars certainly stands out. We all took our sleeping bags out onto the field and lay there staring at the night sky, looking for constellations. It was a perfectly clear night, and I had no idea before just how many brilliant points of light were up there. Truly gorgeous. That was an eye-opener and something you just could never experience in the city.

I continued at Mint Brook, spending a week there each summer until I was 17. My last two years I graduated from camper to counselor-in-training. I taught rowing to the girls twice each morning and led canoe trips in the afternoons. I taught them the campfire songs that had been taught to me, calmed their fears at night, or sometimes told them the camp ghost stories if I thought they could handle it. I organised nature walks and introduced the girls to the trails I had come to know over my years there by the river.

I grew up at that camp. I made friends and met family (literally – no less than two distant and one not-so-distant cousins I didn’t know!!) And I made memories that I’ll always have, even if I can’t find the pictures to prove them! (Damn days before digital cameras and my need to capture every potentially bloggable moment …) We started the Teen at sleep-away camp when he was 11 as well. And I can’t wait to send Little Boo when his time comes.

Why I Blog

 

I’m participating in Bloggy Moms 2011 Blog Dare. There are prompts for a new blog every day, which I know I won’t be able to keep up with. But I will jump in with a contribution whenever it feels right.

7 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Use Free Hosting For Your Blog - BlinkBits

Today’s prompt is “What first prompted you to blog?” Well, if you look back to my first ever post here, way back in 2006, you will see that I started this blog as a way to deal with the reality of being a new mom. I wanted a place to talk about raising my new son, to brag a little, to vent when needed, and to share. Really, I think I saw it as mostly an online diary, with the possibility that someone else might read it. And if someone did read it and want to connect with me, well, that would just rock.

So, I set up the blog and posted once. And then I got totally distracted by life and a high-needs baby and looking after hubs & my tween step-son, and developing new friendships with other new moms in my moms’ group.

And the next time I posted was in 2009, almost 3 years to the day. Oh yeah.

Now, I still blog to brag and vent. But it is with a more active sense of community. I have met so many fabulous people through blogging and other forms of social media. I read lots of blogs. I try to actively find things to share that might help or interest my readers. I try to find ways to connect, especially with other parents, so that we can support each other and learn from each other.

I also blog as a way to work on my writing. I love to write and for a long time thought I might enter a communications field. This is one avenue for me to work on that goal I guess. Or at least to find an outlet for my desire to write.

So, do you blog? Or just read blogs? Why do you blog? Why do you read my blog? Hmm … maybe I don’t want you to question that last one too deeply ….

The Day I Found Out I Was Pregnant

 

Ooh! I love today’s Bloggy Moms Blog Dare prompt. We had been trying unsuccessfully for years to get pregnant, including fertility treatments, so the day I found out I finally was pregnant, well, it was huge.

COVID-19: New Pregnancy Precautions 'Not Based on New Science'

It was at the end of the day, and we’d just gotten home from work. I do admit I can’t remember what I was doing that I came into the house so long after hubs. When I came in the door he had already started the spaghetti sauce. And as soon as I smelled it, I gagged. My stomach turned completely over.

And I knew. Right then.

So, I disappeared to the downstairs washroom where I kept my stash of pregnancy tests. And I peed on one. And there was the tiniest, faintest-ever second line. Honest there was. And hubs told me I was imagining things.

But I knew.

A couple of days later it was Friday. And I REALLY wanted a drink when we got home from work. Crap day. But, I was sure I was pregnant, in spite of the really almost invisible, but I’m sure it was there, line. So I peed on another stick.

And this time? This time, although it was still pretty light, even hubs couldn’t mistake it. I sat there and I stared at it. Then I put it down. And picked it up. And stared again. I left the bathroom and looked at hubs and said “Congratulations!” and held out the stick and started to cry. Just a little.

It was so amazing and overwhelming and exciting and scary and everything. I did throw the test in the garbage, but I probably hauled it back out for a peek at least a dozen times. I briefly thought about keeping it, but then decided that would be gross. Eww, pee!

I called my obs/gyne on Monday and her receptionist congratulated me and told me to come right over for the official blood pregnancy test and to set up an appointment schedule.

And the rest, as they say, is history ??

Post-Blissdom Highs and Lows

I am on my post-Bliss high, which is always mixed with a bit of post-Bliss low. You see, after 3 days filled with friendships old and new, amazing speakers, awesome brands, great food, late night wine and giggles, it can be a little rough to come back home to the everyday grind. Plus, as a introvert living with depression and anxiety, these kind of events really take a massive effort from me. My mind is racing with ideas and plans, but my body and emotions are drained and begging for time alone in a quiet room where I can shut down for a while and re-charge.

 

Sunday I came home and slept. Monday I did some more of that. It’s Tuesday now, and I feel like my batteries are back up close to 100%. So now I’m going to try to unpack. Unpack my bags and unpack my ideas. It’s time to take notes, to write down all the things spinning around my head, and to try to interpret the notes I jotted during the sessions on Friday and Saturday. Time to pull out the business cards collected and send quick notes to new people I met, so I can cement that connection. These things have to happen quickly or they won’t happen at all.

 

It’s time to look through the pictures taken, to remember good times and begin to miss people. Also to realise how many people I missed at the conference! Oh my gosh so many people I wanted to speak with and didn’t. No matter what some folks may think, I am painfully shy. And I am terrible at small talk. So I don’t tend to strike up conversations. And I’m terrible with names, so I fear introducing myself to people I’ve already met and insulting them. I spend a lot of time trying to stare at nametags that have flipped backwards.

 

Blissdom Canada is, for me, a brief retreat from the everyday. It’s a place I can forget my daily stresses and the difficulties of the last couple of years and just be me. It’s a place where I can learn about new techniques and tools, be inspired by amazing individuals, and build up a store of excitement for new projects to come. And it’s about friendships and love and support and a kick in the butt when I need it.

#HGG2017: Portable North Pole {review and giveaway}

The annual writing of the letter to Santa Claus is a huge deal for many children. A lot of thought goes in to finding just the right words, and of course you have to carefully choose your gift wish list. Just think how excited those same children would be to receive a message to them from Santa himself!!

Call Santa Phone Number for Real & Send Video Message - PNP

They can do just that, with the Portable North Pole website and app! PNP provides personalised video messages, and telephone calls, from Santa to kids around the world. Santa can send his messages in English, French, Spanish, and Italian. Grown-ups create the videos by uploading particular details, like name, age, location, the gift they most want, and can add a few pictures, especially one of the child, as well. Depending on the video you choose, there may be options to upload pictures of pets, friends, a vacation, or even their letter to Santa. When you upload a optional picture of the gift they are asking for, you choose from a drop-down menu whether it is a toy, puzzle, video game, clothes, movie tickets, book, etc. These details add so much realism. It also helps that Santa’s mouth is covered by his lush beard, so there is no worry of the lip movement not matching the words your child hears ??

I have made a number of these videos for Michael over the years, and have watched the offerings grow. Each year seems to bring a new video option, birthday videos, and more. Michael is a little old for messages from Santa now (he’ll be 12 in a few weeks!!), but he LOVED receiving these when he was younger. I’d announce that a message had come in for him via email, from Santa, and he’d come running to view it, multiple times over. Seeing his picture in the video, and seeing his friends’ names on the books near to his just made it all seem so real and exciting for him. I put together a couple of mock-up videos so you can see what the final product looks like. This first one is the basic, free video message.

 

That was about a minute and a half, but here is one of the premium video messages, which runs over 6 minutes.

 

 

PNP North Pole has several packages from which to choose, depending on your needs. Larger packages are great for anyone with multiple kids, so everyone can get their own personalised message from Santa.

  • FREE: There are 4 unique, customizable videos – Christmas videos for kids (the first one I did, above), grownups, and groups, plus one for Birthdays.
  • Single Premium Video ($5.49): Choose from among 6 Premium videos.
  • Video Pass ($10.99): Unlimited Premium videos, Reaction Recorder (mobile app only), Christmas Eve and Birthday videos.
  • Magic Pass ($14.99): Unlimited Premium videos and calls, Reaction Recorder (mobile apps only), HD video downloads and 5 weekly bedtime videos read by Santa leading up to the big day. Also includes Christmas Eve and Birthday videos.

You can create one of these videos for a special child in your life, either on the website, or through the PNP app, available for both Android and iOS systems. The app has some additional features you won’t find on the website, including a couple of cute Christmas-themed games and a set of filters for taking creative selfies.

 

The app is divided into a pass code protected Parents Corner, where you can create and share videos, and the Kids Corner, where your children can play and watch their videos.

 

 

The reaction recorder allows you to take a picture-in-picture of your child watching their video message from Santa, so you can capture their joy and excitement for posterity. This feature is only available in the app, and the app is free, so I really recommend you download it. (Just search PNP in the app store or Google Play store.) Even it you create your videos on the website, you can access them when you log in to your account on mobile. Of course, both in the app and online, you can download a copy of your video message to watch offline whenever you or your child wishes.

New this year, PNP has released a book, Twenty-four Sleeps Until Santa: A Christmas Countdown. This hard-cover volume contains 24 scenes of the goings-on at the North Pole in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. We meet different elves and animals, learn that the reindeer eat magic lichen, and more. But most importantly, Santa has lost his 24 magical keys, and we need to help him find them. Each beautiful and detailed illustration has a key hidden somewhere. Can you find them all? Some of them jump right out, and others are pretty tricky. And with every book you receive a code to redeem for a single premium video. The book is available at Amazon.ca and Indigo.ca (approximately $15).

 

Giving Back

Another thing I love – Portable North Pole donates 5% of all online sales proceeds to children’s hospitals around the world. Since 2012, PNP has donated over $300,000.

Get Social

You can connect with Portable North Pole on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

A Giveaway

One lucky RMB reader will receive a copy of Twenty-four Sleeps Until Santa, plus an exclusive code to create your own video at PNP. Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until December 13, 11:59pm ET. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Best of luck!

Mommy Mondays – New Beginnings

 

I’ve blogged here before about wanting to give up my day job, about how I’d much rather be home with Little Boo. Well, my day job is becoming increasingly stressful and bringing me a lot of angst and generally making me unhappy. Even aside from the Little Boo issue.

Mommy Mondays – LoLoboog44 | justaBXmom.com

So, I’ve decided to take a small first step to moving away from office work. I’ve taken on two new business projects in an effort to create alternatives to my monthly paycheque. With any luck, if things start to take off, maybe we can see our way clear to my eventual resignation.

Or maybe I can at least hire a cleaning lady and afford online grocery shopping to free up some mental health and family time. Or pay for my Blissdom Canada registration …

Nothing too earth shattering. I’ve decided to sell for two companies whose products I have used and loved for years – Avon and Pampered Chef. I am “my own boss” in both instances, as they like to say. So I can do as little or as much with it as I’d like. I figure I can start out slow-ish and build up. I spent a good few years in retail sales, and I love to talk and to meet people, so I think I can swing this.

My first Avon order went in tonight. Exciting! The products will arrive later this week and I will have my first experience of the sorting and invoicing and collecting. We’ll see how it goes. I am having a lot of fun reading and learning and browsing through the samples I can order. It’s like Christmas!

Pampered Chef officially starts next month. I have two shows booked already, and my “one-up” is encouraging me to try for 2 more in my first 30 days to get my momentum going.

I’m excited to be trying something different. I’ve talked about becoming a PC consultant for years, so I think it is definitely time to give it a shot. It feels good to be making a move and attempting to create positive change for me and for my family. I’m planning to set up a new blog (or two) for these businesses, and will create Twitter profiles as well. I mean, I am addicted to social media after all.

Wish me luck. And if you’re interested in browsing an Avon brochure or hosting or attending a Pampered Chef show, by all means let me know. That would be totally great. And fun!

The #MonthofMom Photo Challenge Is Heading into the Home Stretch

We are now on Day 21 of P&G’s #MonthofMom 30 Day Photo Challenge. I’ve been having fun coming up with images based on the daily prompts. Of course, as a P&G Mom, I’ve also been weaving in some of my favourite P&G products where they fit with the day. I hope you’ve been following along with the fun on Twitter and/or Instagram! Maybe you’ve even discovered a new product to try.

Introducing The Month of Mom | Kiddie Academy

 

I’ve also been wondering if any of you, my dear readers, have been taking part?? If you have joined in, I’d love it if you left a link to your Twitter or Instagram profile in the comments, so I can go see what you’ve shared. Let me know!

 

You can see most of my photos over on my Instagram page. A side effect of this challenge is that I am now addicted to Instagram. I love sharing pics and seeing what’s inspiring others. I expect I’ll be continuing with other Instagram challenges after this one is done.

 

If you haven’t joined this photo challenge but would like to hop in, there are still 10 days left. You can see all of the details in my earlier #MonthofMom post.

Well thanks, sweetie

 

Driving today with Little Boo, we had one of our interesting car conversations. Not sure what it is about the car rides, but they certainly can be eye opening.

National Volunteer Week: Associations Say Thanks During a Strange ...

Today’s revelation was mildly painful, but I’m a big girl. I can handle it.

Little Boo, “Mommy, have I told you I like you better when you had long hair? You were much prettier when you were a young mother and had long hair and put on your make-up.”

WTH?! I was so close to bursting out laughing, but I controlled myself. I just said, “Oh. You like my hair long?” Totally ignored the make-up comment. I mean, what am I supposed to do with that?

Good thing I have a strong ego!

Astro Greek Yogourt – Recipes and A Winner

https://vimeo.com/76363916

MMMM. Yogourt. We are really enjoying the Astro Greek Yogourt. The flavour and creamy texture are quickly making it a family fave. I’m currently marinating chicken breasts in the plain variety for tandoori chicken tonight.

Little Boo has been enjoying his smoothies. His new favourite combines a half cup of Astro Greek yogourt in strawberry flavour, 1/4 cup of apple juice, one banana, and a generous handful of blueberries.

Astro® Original Plain Balkan Style 2% M.F. Yogurt | Walmart Canada

You can find many recipes on the Astro.ca website. Here is one that I am looking forward to testing out the next time I host girls’ wine night. I love eggplant and this looks super easy! I think I’ll serve it with some toasted pita chips.
————————————————————————————————————————————

Grilled Eggplant and Yogourt Dip
The Greek yogourt is a perfect choice for this dip thanks to its thick and creamy
consistency.

Ingredients

 

1 eggplant (about 1 lb/450 g)
¾ cup Astro® Original Plain
Greek yogourt
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preparation
1. Pierce eggplant all over with a fork. Place on a greased grill over medium heat; close
lid and grill, turning once, until charred and wrinkled and flesh is softened, about 20
minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
2. Slice eggplant open and scoop flesh into a bowl, discarding skin. Mash and let drain
in fine-mesh sieve for 20 minutes.
3. In a bowl, combine yogourt, eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, oil and salt.
4. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Garnish with parsley. Makes 1½ cups.

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

And now for the winner announcement. Rafflecopter has spoken and the winner of three free product coupons to try Astro Original Greek Yogourt for yourself is ….

HGG2013: The Cuddliest Night-Light Ever – Brobo

When I was a little girl, I couldn’t sleep with my closet door open. And I couldn’t sleep without my favourite doll. Little Boo has always needed his lullabies and a night light. Plus his bestest bear Edward and the closed closet door. We’ve gotten to a stage now, at seven, where he can sleep without a light, though I think he secretly would still prefer one. There is something very comforting about a little light in the darkness when you’re just a little guy alone in your room at night. And since stuffies are also a great comfort to our little people, why not combine these two things into a single, giftable toy?

Mushroom Design LED Night Light, PriyoShop.com - Online Shopping ...

Meet the Brobo line of huggable night lights. These soft plush toys are a great size for cuddling (13 inches) and come equipped with a special light in their bellies. The light is easy to activate by simply swiping the toy’s hand or tail across it – once for a brighter “adventure” mode, and a second time for the softer sleepy-time. The light has an auto-off feature after 5 minutes to conserve battery life. (Each toy requires 3 AA batteries.)

The original toy is the Brobo:

 

He’s been joined by Pep, a girl version in pink with a pretty bow, plus a dog, mummy and dinosaur. We received the dog to test out, and Boo has been sleeping with him every night since!

 

The designs are super cute, and the materials are soft and cuddly. Boo has been using the brighter light as a reading light in bed. If it goes out before he’s ready he just needs to swipe Dog’s tail once more. The only thing I don’t 100% love about this toy is that 5 minutes is a little short for us. The auto-off feature is great, but Boo takes a while to settle down so a longer light would be nice. That being said, it is really simple for your child to swipe the light back on themselves if they need it longer. And if there’s a middle of the night bathroom trip? Brobo is ready and waiting to light the way!

You can purchase your own Brobo online or at a number of independent toy stores across Canada. Check the website for a location near you. Also, until Wednesday December 18th you can save $5 on your purchase at Brobo.com with the promo code PEACEJOY. Just enter at checkout.

Disclosure: I received complimentary product to facilitate this review. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own (or those of my family).