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Empty Nests

I had intended to tell you a story tonight about my wonderful week. You see it’s been one of those weeks where my job really rocks. I’ve seen friends and movies, and friends at movies. I’ve had spa treatments and enjoyed cocktail parties and helped to launch charitable events. My work isn’t always this eventful or “in-person” social, so this week really stood out. And I’m now exhausted, but in a really good way.

Empty Nest Advice — Empty Nest Syndrome Tips and Solutions

But something not very awesome at all happened at some point Wednesday evening or overnight.

The baby robins are gone.

Hubs had chased away some crows earlier in the day who’d been showing a little too much interest in the nest. And then all seemed well. The parents were taking turns watching and feeding the babies. I got to see them lifting up their little beaks to accept the worms. I didn’t have time to grab the camera and take a picture, and told myself I’d get one another day. But it was not to be.

When I got home Wednesday evening, there was no parent at the nest. And no parent when I glanced out the window while making coffee. When I came back to pour my first cup, there was again/still no parent, so I went to investigate. And I found an empty nest.

I talked to Hubs and he commented that he didn’t see any robins when he got home the night before either, and had worried. It’s all very sad, but I guess it’s the circle of life, right? Crows and Common Grackles are known to be natural predators to robins and likely one or the other of these chased off the parents and grabbed the babies while we were away.

So now I feel guilty for being away for 7 or 8 hours. Like the babies were my responsibility, which I know they weren’t , but still.

I’ve read that robins build a new nest for each new clutch of eggs, plus I don’t think this was a great location for them anyway. The hanging basket kept the babies safe from squirrels and chipmunks, but there was no coverage to hide the nest from flying predators. So, I removed the nest, intact, and sent it in to school with Boo. His teacher said she will use it in the science curriculum. It is in awesome shape, since it didn’t fall out of a tree or anything. You can really see and appreciate the amount of work that went in to weaving the grasses and twigs and cementing it all with mud. The structure also includes some strings and ribbons momma found, and the nest is lined with really soft grasses. It is a thing of beauty.

I truly hope that momma and daddy robin have better luck with a second set of eggs, and that they find a more secret place to safely raise their family.

Legoland – It’s Our Turn Now!

Lego is truly a toy to entertain across the generations. I love watching my three boys – the dad, the teen, and the schoolager all bonding over their building projects. Actually, our Lego collection itself spans the generations, including bricks that Hubs played with as a boy, right up through sets bought for the boys over the last couple of decades. When a new set or series is announced, I think Hubs is even more excited than the 7 year-old.

Resort Village LEGOLAND Feriendorf, Günzburg, Germany - Booking.com

For grown-ups like my big boys, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto will be holding a series of adult only evenings, beginning on May 29, 2013. For these events, the centre will open its doors to give adult visitors a chance to leave the kids at home and reconnect with their own childhoods. In conjunction with Superhero movies like Iron Man 3, Man of Steel and The Wolverine coming out this summer, the first adult only night will be Superhero themed.

Adult night will take place from 6:00 – 9:00 pm, and tickets can be purchased online for $15 or at the door for $19. In addition to the café and LEGO shop, guests will have access to the LEGO Factory Tour, MINILAND, Kingdom Quest laser ride, Merlin’s Apprentice and the 4D Cinema. LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Master Model Builder, Graeme Dymond will lead building challenges throughout the evening. Each of the activities in the attraction will be set up to win prizes, including a Superhero scavenger hunt in MINILAND, Kingdom Quest High Score Challenge and a Superhero vehicle building competition at the Build and Test racetrack.

Adult Night’s will also feature fun, interactive games and photo opportunities. On May 29, there will be a costume theme and all guests are encouraged to come dressed as their favourite superhero and take action shot photos in front of a green screen to win a prize! Voting for Best Dressed and Best Builds will take place at 8:00 pm, with winners being announced at 8:30 pm.

On the grown-up event dates, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will be open to the public during the day, with the last admission being at 4:00 pm, and adults’ night beginning at 6:00 pm. Only those 18 years of age or older will be granted access after 6:00 pm.

I’m not sure the costume theme would appeal to Hubs or the Teen, but the chance to get kid-free access to the Legoland Discovery Centre for an evening of building certainly would. These evenings will provide a wonderful opportunity for any grown-ups without kids to experience the Centre, as unaccompanied adults are not normally admitted.

My Soda Stream, My Love!

I don’t usually drink a lot of pop, though I do love it. My boys, especially the Teen, would drink it constantly if I let them. So, when I heard about the Soda Stream company, I was intrigued. The concept of making our own pop at home, with our own tap water certainly appealed to me, both from a cost-saving and a convenience factor. Not to mention the environmental impact. With Soda Stream you re-use your bottles over and over again for up to 3 years, rather than creating masses of plastic bottles needing to go to recycling. And the Soda Stream bottles are BPA-free.

SODASTREAM Spirit Pink Blush - Soda Maker | Alzashop.com

 

But how does this all work? And, most importantly, how does the pop taste??

 

Soda Stream machines require no electricity or batteries. The fizz comes from a CO2 carbonating cylinder and a simple push (or pushes) of a button. More pushes = more carbonation, so you can choose how fizzy you’d like your drink to be. Also, because you add the flavour syrups yourself, you can choose how sweet and/or flavourful your drink will be. Because the machines require no electricity, they are very portable and would be a great option for a small kitchen with few outlets, and are easy to carry to a different room, on a picnic, etc.

 

As for taste, my family is impressed. When I introduced the Teen to the machine he was more excited than I’ve seen him in ages. Seriously, it was pretty awesome to see. We did a quick training session, and he crafted himself a bottle of orange pop. Which was devoured in minutes. We’ve tried a number of different sodamixes so far, and haven’t had a miss yet. Cola, Diet Cola, Orange, Ginger Ale, Lemon-Lime, and more all taste as you would expect them to. They taste like the name brand versions, not the discount or no-name labels. Even the root beer, which I was worried about, received the seal of approval from the Teen. He declared it excellent and likened it to the root beer of a rather well-known fast food/root beer establishment.

 

From a mom’s perspective, I like that I can be in charge of how much syrup is flavouring our pop now. And I appreciate that the mixes are sweetened with cane sugar rather than HFCS. This pop is lower in carbs and calories than store-bought pop, which definitely works for me. Here is a sample comparison from the Soda Stream website:

 

Prepared Size: 250 mL

Coca-Cola Cola
Calories 100 35
Fat/lipides 0 g 0 g g
Saturated/ saturés + Trans/ trans 0 g 0 g g
Sodium 30 mg 2 mg mg
Carbohydrate/ Glucides 27 g 7 g g
Fibre/ Fibres 0 g 0 g g
Sugars/ Sucres 27 g 7 g g
Protein/ Protéines 0 g 0 g g

Looks good to me! If we are going to drink pop, I would rather it look like the column on the right. The Teen is heading off to college in the fall, and I’ve decided that one of these machines will make a great addition to his dorm room. Let’s face it – I know there will be far too many nights of pizza and root beer. If he makes his own pop he’ll be saving money and drinking a little healthier.

 

Soda Stream systems, carbonators, and syrups can be purchased from a variety of retailers or online at their own website. I recommend purchasing one of their variety packs to start out, so you can sample a number of flavours at once. Each of the 500ml bottles of sodamix will make 12 litres of pop.

Disclosure: I received a Soda Stream Jet system starter pack and sodamix to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions on this blog remain my own.

Educate Yourself #WorldMeningitisDay

Today, April 24th, is World Meningitis Day, and yesterday I participated in a webinar designed to share information about this devastating disease. The experts on the panel, Alyson Schafer, Dr. Dave Greenberg, and Furakh Mir, provided a wealth of information on prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. Furakh, founder of Meningitis Relief Canada (MRC), shared her own story as the mother of a child who contracted meningitis at one week old.(He is now a happy and healthy toddler, but continues to be monitored for any possible developmental issues arising from his early illness.) You can read her son’s full story on the MRC website.

World Meningitis Day - What is Meningitis and How To Treat It

Meningitis has always scared me, but I really didn’t know too much about it. What I did know was that it is a potentially life-threatening disease, that presents much like a flu. This is scary, because the symptoms could so easily be dismissed, and by the time these symptoms are recognised for what they are, it could be too late. One important point that Furakh made in her talk, and that Dr. Dave really emphasised as well, is to trust your instincts on this one. You know your child better than anyone else. Your child may have a fever and still be able to play and essentially still act like themselves. But if you notice a marked change in behaviour, lethargy, etc., and your child doesn’t seem “right,” bring them to your doctor or the hospital. Be sure your physician understands the behaviour change, and advocate for further tests or care. (But don’t be rude!)

I encourage you to visit Meninfo.ca to learn more about this disease, its symptoms, prevention and more. Knowledge is power. Know what you’re looking for!

I’m going to share with you some myths and facts about this disease, which actually is a pretty good synopsis of key points from the webinar.

Meningitis Disease – Myths and Facts

There is only one type of meningitis. MYTH – Meningitis can be caused by different germs including viral, bacterial and fungal. A viral infection is less severe and can typically be treated at home. Bacterial meningitis occurs when bacteria enters the blood and migrates to the spinal area. Given the rapid progression and severity of meningitis, medical attention should be sought immediately if someone suspects meningitis.

Meningitis has flu like symptoms. FACT – Early symptoms of meningitis are similar to flu symptoms, including fever, headache, stiff neck and vomiting. Other symptoms can include confusion, light sensitivity and no interest in eating or drinking. If you notice these symptoms, seek medical attention.

Meningitis is easy to diagnose. MYTH – Because early symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses especially the flu, cases of meningitis can be overlooked and misdiagnosed initially. It’s important at the onset of symptoms to seek immediate treatment.

Meningitis will go away on its own. MYTH – Bacterial meningitis requires quick and aggressive treatment and can result in devastating consequences including varying degrees of blindness, deafness, paralysis and intellectual disabilities or death.

Canadian children and young adults are most susceptible to meningitis. FACT – Children under one year of age and adolescents (15-19 years old) are among the age groups with the highest incidence of meningitis.5 College and university students are also susceptible to contracting meningitis 6 because of their increased likelihood of sharing items such as drinks, utensils and cigarettes.

Meningitis can be contracted by casual contact. MYTH – Meningitis is spread through direct contact with an infected person through the droplet route by means of respiratory secretions when air or liquid secretions are shared.

All vaccines to prevent against meningococcal disease are the same. MYTH – Most meningococcal infections are caused by five different strains, A, C, Y, W-135, and B. Vaccines are currently available against four of the five strains, A, C, Y and W-135, 8 and a vaccine against the B strain is under review.

Canadian children who have received meningitis vaccines are protected against all strains. MYTH – Many Canadians feel that their children are protected against all meningococcal disease, however, this is a misconception. There is currently no protection available for meningitis B,9 however Health Canada is currently reviewing for approval and use for Canadians, the first meningitis B vaccine. This vaccine would be the final piece of the meningitis vaccination puzzle.

And here’s a video produced by Meninfo.ca and released for World Meningitis Day – please share to spread the word and raise awareness!

The Speroway Blog

 

I just thought I’d post a quick follow-up on the Speroway Share & Win contest and their fundraising efforts for Haiti. Speroway has their own blog, and yesterday they posted about their efforts to build the new medical clinic, and they included some pictures. You can check it out here.

Speroway | Food. Education. Health. | Speroway

Speroway is a registered Canadian charity doing great work at home and abroad, specifically in the area of relief work with children (food, education, medical). Please consider making a gift if you can.

Yet Another Post About Pee

 

I remember a few years back, when the Teen was maybe 8 years old. I was chatting with a colleague, a mom of a teenaged boy. And I asked her, in utter desperation, “Please tell me! WHEN will he start peeing IN the toilet instead of on it??” Or beside it, or behind it, or whatever.

Morning Pee: This Is Why You Have To Pee So Much In The Morning ...

She just laughed at me and walked away.

I can’t remember the last time my bathroom stayed clean for longer than a couple of hours. What is the issue? Why is aim so difficult?? I mean, I guess I can get a minor miss that splashes on the back of the toilet. But the floor?? What do boys do in there? What are they looking at to throw their aim off so?

“Lalalala … oh look over there! Soap!”

I used to swear the Teen must have been talking to the cat or something. (And maybe peeing on him.)

I’ll go to sit down in there, and I immediately smell it. Then I look and see the tell-tale sheen on the floor. What the ..??

Basically, my bathroom stinks.

My favourite cleaning tip for all you moms of boys? Disposable disinfecting wipes. I buy them in bulk. There’s a container beside each toilet in the house, and it makes it so easy to give a quick wipe for any little offerings my boys have left behind. (I have to admit, at this stage it’s really only the little one with a real problem.) I don’t know what I’d do without these things. And get a nice scented one. SO worth it.

Also? If you can convince your boys to sit down to pee, so much the better. There’s no real reason they need to stand after all. As long as they remember to hold it down, sitting is definitely the way to go.

How Do You Search the Web?

My default search provider is Swagbucks. I get relevant search results, and earn rewards points while doing something I’d be doing anyway. In addition to receiving Swagbucks for everyday searches, you can also earn by completing surveys, answering polls, completing tasks, and more. There’s lots of bonus swag codes to be found as well. Your Swagbucks can then be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, charity donations, sweepstakes entries, etc.

A Web Developer Can Be Your Personal Assistant | Prednisonepill

 

Swagbucks has some big things in store for their 5th Birthday this year – they’re giving out five $1000 cash prizes and holding a HUGE Swag Code Extravaganza where you can earn 135 Swag Bucks worth of codes! There are also some huge games planned, and while the party doesn’t happen until February 25th, on Monday the 11th you’ll get more info, including how you can win one of those $1000 prizes!

Haven’t joined Swagbucks yet? Click here to join and use the Swag Code 5THBIRTHDAY during registration – you’ll start with 120 Swag Bucks instead of the usual 30. I’ve earned close to 4000 points from using Swagbucks so far. Once I hit 5000 I’ll be cashing in for $50 Paypal cash. woo hoo!

Parenting Through Depression #BellLetsTalk

I wrote this quite a while back, but never posted. I thought it would be appropriate to share it today, on Bell Let’s Talk Day. It’s important for us all to talk about our experiences with mental health and illness. It’s important that we open discussion and alleviate stigma.

10 Good Parenting Tips - Parenting For Brain

Why? Well, because according to the Canadian Institute of Health Research, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their lives. The Canadian Medical Association tells us that 2 out of 3 will suffer in silence, out of fear of the reactions of others. We can do better.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1995. I’ve had ups and downs, but am happy to say that today I am in a good place. I still have depression, but it is well-managed with medications, coping skills, and an awesome support network. I am lucky for all that. But there are still some bad days.

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Monday was a beautiful day. Blue sky and sunshine, a lovely fall breeze. The leaves are turning radiant shades of red and orange and yellow. This was a day of hope and optimism. I felt great. I walked the dog. I voted. I made dinner. I got work done.

Sunday was a grey day. Damp chilly. Dark. I spent the day on the couch. I let my child skip his karate lesson. He wanted to watch YouTube and play on his DS. I let him. He stayed in his pajamas all day. So did I. I made him a PB&J sandwich for dinner. I didn’t eat.

Some days depression wins, and parenting follows the path of least resistance. Some days there’s simply no energy to enforce the rules or create activities and fun.

I have a history of depression, and I’ve had two particularly difficult periods in my illness. The first led to my diagnosis, and the second was 2 years ago. So, 15 years or so apart. Not bad really. I am lucky that my depression is kept mostly under control with medication and my ongoing practice of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). But when I have a low day, my low is way lower than the average person’s low. Thankfully I’ve learned ways to bounce back pretty quickly.

Depression affects so many aspects of your life. There’s exhaustion and physical pain. Difficulty making decisions. Irritability. Anger. Confusion. And of course the sadness you immediately think of. And depression affects your family too. They watch you suffer, and they can suffer from lack of attention and care.

As a parent, it can be difficult to maintain consistency with the rules and consequences. Some days depression has used up all your energy, and it can feel impossible to find the stamina to deal with a toddler tantrum or to enforce the no devices at the dinner table rule. Wouldn’t it just be easier to let it slide? And if the kids are playing with their phones, I won’t have to make conversation. That’s a help. But boy is that ever confusing for the kids.

When I’m having a low day, mealtimes seem to come around every five minutes. Someone always needs something. The phone won’t stop ringing. Everything is overwhelming. And I just want to hide.

But I’m a parent, and I have to reach to find the reserves somewhere in there. And mostly I do. Boo has never gone hungry or missed bath time. I’ve never sent him to school in his pajamas (other than on pajama day) or without a lunch. But I’m not always a lot of fun.

Thankfully my low days are few and far between. The issue on Sunday? I forgot to take my pill. It was after noon before I figured it out. My morning routine had gotten interrupted and the medicine just didn’t happen. Couple that with the dreary weather and a lack of sleep, and the whole day suddenly makes sense. That in itself helps me to bounce back, knowing there was a concrete cause for my low mood, one that I can manage and avoid in future.

Let the sunshine in

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Parenting is a tough gig. Couple that with a mental health concern and some days can seem truly insurmountable. Do I have a message for you here? I guess so. I want to open up about my depression, to contribute to the conversation. And I also want us all to watch out for each other, and to try to keep the judgement at bay. Some days we’re just doing our best to keep the boat afloat.

Dusty the Crop Duster at the Waterloo Air Show, June 1-2

Do you think your kids (or you!) would like to meet the star of Disney’s upcoming animated feature, “Planes”? Well, if you head out to the Waterloo Air Show this weekend (June 1-2), you’ll have the chance!

File:Dusty the Crop Duster.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

 

Dusty will be appearing at a number of air shows across North America this summer, in advance of the film’s release on August 9. He will show off his talents, communicate with the crowd and be accompanied by an exclusive and uplifting Disney musical score. Sounds like a great time for kids of all ages!

 

The owner and pilot of the aircraft tapped to play the role of Dusty in the air show performances is Texas-based aerial applicator Rusty Lindeman, who customized one of his own Air Tractor AT-301 airplanes to match Dusty’s paint scheme and features. Manufactured in Olney, Texas, Air Tractor aircraft are used for agricultural spraying, seeding and fertilizing, plus forestry protection, fire fighting and more in the U.S. and more than 30 countries around the world. “We’re happy to help bring Dusty to life for the performances and hope that the audience will have fun and learn a bit more about the importance of aerial application in modern agriculture,” said Air Tractor’s Kristin Edwards.

 

 

 

 

“‘Disney’s Planes’ is a great underdog story, said director and aviation enthusiast Klay Hall. “It has a lot of heart and a message we can all use: If we can believe in ourselves, step out of our comfort zones and get past whatever fear is holding us back, we’d be surprised with the results. And that’s exactly what happens to Dusty in this movie. He’s a crop duster who’s never flown above 1,000 feet, but he dreams of being the fastest air racer in the world. He has a lot of obstacles to overcome and needs to dig pretty deep to find the courage to become more than he was built for.”

 

David White, Co-Producer of the Waterloo Air Show added: “The Waterloo Air Show is a wonderful family event and we are absolutely thrilled to be a part of the ultimate family experience with this very special appearance of Dusty from ‘Disney’s Planes.’ We invite those of all ages to join us for this most unique event.”

 

 

About the Waterloo Air Show

The Waterloo Air Show will take place June 1st and 2nd, 2013, at the Region of Waterloo International Airport. It is a two-day family-friendly event that showcases some of the best skills and entertainment the aviation industry has to offer. With displays both in the air and on the ground, guests can enjoy amazing aerial demonstrations headlined by the world-famous Canadian Forces Snowbirds, while exploring exhibits, vendors, additional aircraft on the ground, kids activities, an Autograph Tent, Food Truck Alley and more.

Let me introduce myself …

So, I’m absolutely new to blogging – never done it before, and haven’t really even read a lot of other folks’ blogs. But, I’ve been thinking of starting ever since I found out I was pregnant last spring. There seems to be such a community of moms sharing their experiences online. I’ve been posting on message boards, but find sometimes I just want somewhere to brag or vent or process an experience, without anyone else feeling they need to respond or that I’m looking for a response. Know what I mean?

I'm working on myself, for myself, by myself. (With images ...

At any rate, we’ll see if I can find the time to keep this up, and hopefully even make it interesting! Now that my little guy is 6 months, I can grab a few mintues here and there while he entertains himself. I wish I’d started earlier, but then I’m not sure when I would have found the time to write anything in the first couple of months. And not sure anything coherent would have come out if I had. I may reminisce a little at first, since I’m still trying to process some of the earlier experiences. And trying to capture them before I forget what it was like to have a baby in the NICU or to have a tiny little infant attached to my breast almost constantly 24/7 for a month or more. We’ll see.

Please bear with me ??