Drought: When will we learn?

drought, when will we learn

Last month I wrote a blog about the severe drought we were experiencing in Puerto Rico (you can see the post here Living in a severe drought).  Our little island in paradise was enduring the worst drought in about 20 years, and as a result thousands of people were put under water rationing.  The rationing got pretty severe for many, receiving water service only 2 days a week.  We endured many weeks (months) of extreme measures, all in an attempt to prevent the worst case scenario, 0 water available.  It wasn’t convenient, it wasn’t easy, but it was manageable.  And now, I’m happy to report, that the rationing has been lifted thanks to lots of precious rain that we have received over the past couple of weeks.

But the joy of having recovered from this severe drought was a short-lived one for me.  Today I left my house, to do my usual errands, and guess what I encountered?  People, yes several homes in fact, hosing down their driveways and sidewalks.  Seriously?  Have we learnt nothing?  Water conservation should not be restricted just to desperate times, it is a precious natural resource that we should respect at all times.  I’m not saying restrict your drinking habits, or stop showering, but using so much water just to wash down your driveway is incredibly wasteful.  We have brooms, and they work quite well if you need to clean up some debris and leaves on your driveway.  I shutter to think what sort of wastage occurs in the day-to-day operation of these households.  I know it’s easy to take something like water for granted when all you have to do is turn a tap on and receive an endless supply, but how can living through an extended period of rationing not make people want to be more responsible with their usage?

 

Homemade baby food 101

homemade baby food

Have you been thinking about making your own baby food but are overwhelmed by the idea of how complicated and time-consuming it is?  Well guess what, it’s actually very very easy.  I make 90% of what my son eats and it really is super easy and quick.  I still keep store-bought items on hand in case I forget to take out some homemade from the freezer but I only have maybe a handful of store-bought jars in the house.

Here is what you need to make your food:

  1. Fruits and veggies.  Fresh and frozen both work well.  I buy only organic for my son but I do the same for my husband and I anyhow.  Frozen items are often looked at as less health but in reality (if frozen properly) they are just as good as the fresh option.  This is great because sometimes I cannot get the fresh option but the frozen is often available.
  2. A steamer.  I have a stove top vegetable steamer that I use.  This is an item that I already owned and used prior to baby, you really do not need to buy a special one just for your little one.
  3. A blender.  This is another item that I already had in my kitchen, there really isn’t a need to buy the special baby blenders, as long as you have a properly working blender in your home that will do just fine.
  4. Storage containers.  There are a couple of ways you can approach the freezing and storage process.  The best space saver is to simply use an ice-cube tray to freeze the food, and then store the food cubes in a labelled ziplock bag.  But if you prefer you can also use plastic (pba free of course) food containers.  If you do use plastic containers I recommend that you get small ones so that you can take out only what you will use for that day (you can also get containers at any baby store that are intended for baby food storage).

Here are the steps to making the baby food.

  1. For fresh foods: steam them until soft (make sure to first peel items such as sweet potato/potato, apples, etc).  Frozen: boil or steam if necessary, some frozen fruits can simply be defrosted.
  2. Place your prepared food into the blender, some foods may require that you add water and/or milk, and blend until you achieve the consistency you require.  If you’re unsure about the consistency you can use an age appropriate store-bought jar of baby food to see what the consistency you need to achieve.  Just remember that the first foods need to be pureed and small chunks can be added as your child grows and switches to more solid foods.
  3. Fill your containers or ice trays with food and freeze.  I use covered ice trays just to be sure to prevent any sort of contamination that could occur in the freezer.  Once frozen you just pop out your food cubes and store in a labelled ziplock bag.
  4. Every night take out what you will need for the next day.  The benefit to using ice-cube trays is that the food cubes are small so I can take out as many or as little as I wish.  It also makes it easy for mixing foods (i.e. sweet potato with peas).

And that’s it!  It really is that easy!  You can prepare enough food for a month at a time or you can do it on a weekly basis, whatever works best for you.  If you have doubts on when to introduce which foods to your little one just follow the guidelines set by your paediatrician.  My son is now 10 months old and I have found that he actually prefers my homemade food to the store-bought.

If you have any questions about the steps just let me know!

Manners: Are we better or worse these days?

Are manners dying

When I was growing up I remember always being taught to hold the door open for the person behind me, say please and thank you, be patient and wait your turn, always address an adult by Mr./Mrs. <surname> or Aunt/Uncle <name>, always rsvp your attendance even if it’s for a weekly group, and if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.  To this day I believe these actions all add up to being polite and respectful, and I plan on teaching my son to do the same.  But in today’s society are we still polite?  Do we still have manners?

I know I’m not the only one who has been confronted with rude people on an all too frequent basis.  How many times have you had the door close in your face because the person in front of you did not hold it open?  How many times have you been called something not so nice just because you do not share someone else’s opinion?  And how often are you left waiting for a please or a thank you?

It seems like today people are increasingly more self involved and look out for themselves before, or even without, considering their effect on others.  Today we have online bullying, Halloween house decorations that actually scare and make little kids cry (and no, the homeowners have no intentions of taking them down), inventions like the “knee defender” that stop the airline seat in front of you from reclining (because of course your comfort is more important than that of your neighbours), and children who address adults by their first name.  I’ve heard every reason for defending all of these behaviours, but until now I am still not convinced.  I think there is something to be said for considering those around you, and being respectful of everyone.  Just because we don’t agree with someone, or that they simply rub us the wrong way, is not a reason to belittle them or call them names.  We don’t have to like everyone to get along with them.  If you don’t like someone then don’t ask them out for a cup of coffee, but be polite when you interact with them and leave it at that.

As we try to teach our children to be kind we must remember that they learn more from our example than from our instructions, if our kids see us being kind they too will grow up to be kind, polite adults.  One of the best lessons my parents taught me has been to be mindful of others and to treat people the way I would like to be treated.

What do you think?  Is being polite becoming increasingly rare?

DIY: Growth Chart

DIY_growth_chart

I really wanted to have a growth chart to mark the progress of my precious little guy throughout life, but I also wanted it to be something that I could create.  So here’s what I did!

The finished product!
The finished product!

I love love love how it turned out and it is something super easy to do.

Want to create one of your own?  Here’s how I did it:

  1. Supplies you will need: piece of wood slab (you can get one from any home supply store), sanding paper, wood stain (select your favourite colour!), clear varnish, a black marker and a stencil of the numbers (this is optional), and hanging hooks (I used a standard d-ring).
  2. Once you have your supplies you will start out by sanding down your piece of wood.  Once you are satisfied that it’s nice and smooth go ahead and apply the stain.  Feel free to do as many coats of stain as you wish, just keep in mind that you will be writing on this board so you don’t want it to be too dark or you won’t see the markings.
  3. Once the staining is dried apply the markings and numbers.  I started marking the points from 5″, this is based on the chart being hung exactly 5″off of the floor.  Take your time with this step since you want the markings to be measured out correctly.  I also suggest using a pencil to start with so if you make a mistake it’s no big deal.  Once you are sure you have them marked correctly go ahead and use your black permanent marker and a ruler to make the straight lines.
  4. Next draw out your numbers.  I decided to use a stencil to help me with this part but if you trust your free hand then go ahead and do that.  You can also use black paint to do the numbers but I found a black permanent market to be easier and it looks just as great.
  5. Lastly, apply the varnish.  I am partial to a satin finish but choose the varnish that best fits your style.  The varnish will seal in all of your markings and you can still write on it with a permanent marker.
Here is the plank of wood after sanding, the stain I selected and the wood after one coat of stain.
Here is the plank of wood after sanding, the stain I selected and the wood after one coat of stain.
Here's a close up so you can see more detail.
Here’s a close up so you can see more detail.

That’s it!  Now just have fun marking your child’s growth!  I started it out with my son’s birth height, his height at six months, and next I will mark his height on each birthday for years to come!

This is a great little project if you want to make something special for your little one or even as a gift for a nephew/niece or even grandson/granddaughter.

10 Benefits to growing up with a dog

10_benefits_to_growing_up_with_a_dog

We are a dog family.  Since I was about 12 years old my family always had one, if not two, dogs in my house.  Now that I’m married and with a family of my own I still have the joy of having a dog as a part of my family.  I love seeing how our dog Maya interacts with our baby boy, and how our baby boy takes such joy in having her around.  So I thought I’d share with all of you what I think the top ten benefits are to growing up with a puppy.

10- It can teach responsibility.  Teach your kids that the dog needs to be taken for walks, bathed, brushed, fed, poop picked up, etc., and it can be a great way for them to learn responsibility.

9-Dogs are incredibly loving.  All a dog really wants is to love and be loved.  They will cuddle with you when you’re happy, when you’re sad, and just because.

8- Play time!  What better to entertain an energetic child than an equally energetic dog that is perfectly happy running laps around the yard?

7- Exercise.  You know all that running they’re doing around the yard?  That’s great exercise!

6- Boost your immune system.  I’ve read in several articles that babies who grow up around a dog have stronger immune systems.  Now I’m no scientist but I do know that babies love to explore by touching everything and sticking things in their mouth, what better way to get exposure to other germs than dog toys? (not that you should just leave baby to chew on the dog toys however)

5- Loyalty.  Dog’s are very loyal, there is a reason they’re referred to as man’s best friend.

4- Protection.  A dog always protects who they love.  No, this should not mean that they cause terror to anyone who dare approach you or your baby, but it does mean that if a dog thinks his baby buddy is in trouble he will quickly run over to guard him.

3- Double the cuteness.  Seriously, just look at all of the adorable photos of babies and their puppies.  So much cuteness.

2- Entertainment.  I can’t even tell you how often my little guy laughs his head off by simply watching our dog be a dog, and who doesn’t love a good baby laugh?

1- And the #1 reason why it’s great to grow up with a dog is simply because dogs are the best!  And all you dog lovers out there know exactly what I’m talking about 🙂

Our beautiful black lab, Maya.
Our beautiful black lab, Maya.

Maya 2. Life WIth WaldoMaya 3. Life WIth Waldo

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy_Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving and it’s also the first Thanksgiving for my baby boy.  It’s a special year because every time you get to celebrate an occasion for the first time with your baby it’s just that much more special.  So I thought I’d take a minute (while my pies are baking in the oven) to post a quick list of things I am so thankful for.

  • My husband
  • My baby boy
  • My fur baby (a black lab)
  • Our extended family (parents, siblings and cousins on both sides)
  • Our health
  • Our home

I know there are so many more things in my life to be grateful for but this is just a quick sum up of the major items.

I hope everyone who is celebrating today has a great Thanksgiving and let’s try to remember our blessings throughout the year.

A time to give thanks

happy_thanksgiving_canada

Well it’s that time of year again, Thanksgiving weekend!  What?? Yup, it’s Thanksgiving in Canada.  But here’s the thing,  I am a Canadian who has spent at least half of her life (probably more than that by now) living outside of Canada, and the reality of Thanksgiving is that most people only know about the one in the United States (at least that has been my experience).  For most of my life people have either been in shock if I mention it’s Thanksgiving or they can’t understand why I don’t celebrate it in November.  So every year at this time I’m faced with the decision of do I celebrate and if so then how?  I won’t have a long weekend (Thanksgiving is on Monday but obviously it’s not a holiday here in Puerto Rico), I can’t find a turkey, and I don’t even know any other Canadians here (my husband isn’t Canadian either).  For the past few years it has coincided that my husband has been on a business trip and hasn’t even been here on this date so I haven’t celebrated the past 2 or 3 years.  But this year he is here, yay!  So yes, I will celebrate!  Of course it won’t be quite the same since I have no family gathering to attend, but we will celebrate nonetheless!  So how do you celebrate when you don’t have a turkey?  Simple, you make meat pie!  Ok so I don’t know if that’s Canadian tradition or just a my family tradition.  We always had turkey, meat pie and mashed potatoes available in abundance.  So meat pie it is!

Sometimes it can be a bit strange to celebrate a holiday that no one else around you is celebrating, but it’s still a great way to keep up those traditions.  This will be my son’s first Thanksgiving and while he probably won’t remember it, I still think it’s important to start passing on our traditions from a young age.  Thanksgiving in particular is a holiday in which we give Thanks for all of the blessings in our lives, well with the arrival of our baby boy we have a lot to be thankful for this year.  So while we won’t have the big family gathering we will still celebrate, we will still give thanks, and honestly we will still enjoy it.

To anyone else who lives in a foreign country and wants to celebrate your traditions, do it!  It’s great to keep up with the holidays and traditions that you love, even if it’s not the same, it does give you a little piece of home.

If anyone is wondering what the distinction is between Thanksgiving in Canada and in the United Sates, here are the three main differences:

1-Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated the second Monday in October, in the United States it’s on the fourth Thursday of November.

2-Canadian Thanksgiving has to do with the harvest, in the United States it originated with the pilgrims and the Mayflower (however, today both holidays are to celebrate giving thanks).

3-There is no black Friday in Canada.  Every year, in the United States retailers prepare for a massive day of sales the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, this doesn’t exist in Canada.  There are still sales in Canada, but the biggest shopping day is actually reserved for boxing day, the day after Christmas.

I’m proud of my c-section scar

i'm_proud_of_my_csection_scar

Yup, you read that title correctly, I’m proud to own my c-section scar.

Lately there has been a lot of push-back against c-section births.  The big thing right now seems to be a movement to reduce the number of c-section births and empower women to not fold under the pressure of a doctor and to have a natural birth no matter what.  I agree that no woman should be forced or pressured into an unnecessary surgery of any kind, and I agree that a c-section should not be performed unless it is medically necessary.  What I do not agree with is this notion that a woman who gives birth via c-section has somehow opted for the “easy way out.”

It has happened to me, on a few occasions now, that a group of moms will be swapping birth stories and as soon as they hear that I did not have a natural child-birth some will completely tune me out at best, and at worse I get the eye roll with the “I would never have allowed that kind of unnecessary procedure” speech.  Again with the mom shaming attitudes.  Just because I had a c-section does not make me any less of a mother nor does it make my birthing experience any less beautiful.  There is absolutely nothing easy about undergoing a c-section.  It’s a surgery that takes a long time to recover from and you have to deal with that pain for several days.  Not being able to walk properly, much less get up quickly, when you have a newborn baby crying out to you is not what I would consider “the easy way out.”  I do not try to diminish the pain of labour and contractions, so don’t try to diminish the pain of my surgery.

When I went into the hospital the day of my son’s birth, I was just as nervous and anxious to meet him as any other mother is on that special day.  When he was born I was overwhelmed with emotion, his first cry made me cry from the joy of his arrival.  The way in which he entered this world does not take away from any of that.

The worst part of being judged is knowing that someone just automatically assumed that there was no medical reason for me to undergo a c-section, and yet they know nothing about my story, they didn’t even ask.  I think it’s great to bring awareness to any issue, and I have no problem with anyone promoting what they believe in, but don’t make assumptions about other people or judge them for their choices.

So to anyone who wants to look down their nose at me for having a c-section I say I’m proud of my scar.  I’m glad that I got to experience the miracle of pregnancy, to feel a human being growing inside of me, and to bring a happy, healthy baby boy into the world.  My scar is there as a reminder of the pain and sacrifice that I was willing to endure so that I could experience the joy of motherhood.  And please, stop telling any mother what her birth experience should have been like.  You get a say over your delivery, not on anyone else’s.

A mommy play date; a day dedicated to me

a_mommy_play_date

Saturday was a fabulous day dedicated to me time!

I started the day off with what I like to call a mommy’s play date.  Basically I met up with a group of fellow mom’s for a coffee outing, but get this…it was an outing without kids!  Can you believe it?  An adult only outing.  I definitely love the frequent play dates that I do for my son, he gets to have fun and I get to socialize with other adults.  But a chance to go out without a heavy diaper bag, a stroller, and a baby pulling and tugging at you every 5 seconds is a rare and exciting treat.  We had a fabulous time just chit chatting and enjoying our coffee while it was still hot.  As a group we decided to make this a monthly get together which I think is not only a fantastic idea, but I strongly recommend it to all mom’s.  It’s true that you might spend at least half of the time talking about your little ones, swapping stories and experiences, but that’s ok.  It’s a great way to recharge and even to encourage each other as we navigate this parenting world.  Having a good group of friends you can bounce ideas off of and express doubts to, is a great and necessary support system to have.

After my energizing morning coffee I headed straight to the beauty salon where not only did I get my hair done, I also treated myself to a manicure and pedicure.  I got to enjoy that fabulous spa chair that gives you a great back massage whilst you also get a relaxing foot treatment.  I love that massage they always give you when you do your feet, or when you do your hands, or when they shampoo your hair! haha.  Ok, it might sound a little nuts, but I do enjoy any and all massages I can get.  Plus, I was again surrounded only by grown ups and adult conversation!  Ok, full disclosure, everyone wanted to know how my little guy was doing so I did spend a good amount of time gushing about how spectacular he is.  After all that pampering I felt recharged and ready to run back home to my precious little angel.

All in all it was a fantastic day dedicated just to me.  To all of you stay at home moms out there, if you get a chance to have a me day please do it.  It’s necessary.  You will not only enjoy yourself but you will feel recharged afterwards.  You will probably even find yourself rushing to get home because you miss your precious little baby!  And if your me day can include time with a group of great mom friends, even better.  It’s such a brilliant way to encourage each other and reassure each other that you’re doing a great job.

The Liebster Award!

Liebster Award

Wow I got nominated for a Liebster Award!  Thanks so much to Sunita of The Pancake Journal (http://thepancakejournal.com/blog/) for this honour!  Everyone make sure you go and check out her blog because it’s pretty fantastic.

The Liebster Award is a way to put new bloggers in the spotlight and letting them get more readers and enjoy getting to know the blogging world.  With this nomination the rule is I have to answer some questions from the blogger who nominated me.  Here are the questions and my responses:

1.What are your hobbies?

Does blogging count?  If so then I’ll have to go with blogging, jewelry making and reading.  Although I must confess that I’ve been a bit behind on the last two since my baby boy was born.

2. What is your favourite TV Show?

Well this is a bit tricky, past or present shows? haha.  Ok let’s keep it to the present.  I would have to go with two shows, Modern Family and Blue Bloods.  I love Modern Family for so many reason but mainly because it’s a great comedic spin on modern-day society and honestly, who doesn’t like a good laugh?  Blue Bloods would be my favourite drama series.  Yes I love Scandal and even Greys Anatomy, but there’s something about the good guys getting the bad guys and still remaining a close family unit that just captures me.

3. Who is your favourite celebrity and why?

Ok this one is easy, Ellen of course!  What isn’t there to love about Ellen? Her show is great fun, she’s always so happy and just looking to spread joy and kindness to the world.  She helps so many people and maintains a joyful view on the world.  Her closing words to each show pretty much sums its up; “be kind to one another.”

4. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

Recently I had a few mom friends and their little one’s over to my house for a play date and one of the mom’s complimented the cleanliness of my house.  She said my house was very put together and that pretty much made my day.  Like many new mom’s out there I’ve been struggling with finding that balance between doing mom stuff and still keeping a tidy house, to have someone say I’m achieving it was simply fantastic!

5. What is your greatest strength and weakness?

My greatest strength would be my loyalty.  I’m fiercely loyal to my loved ones and will do anything to support them.

My greatest weakness would be my sometimes short fuse.  I have a tendency to be impatient, but I’m working at it and being a mom has definitely helped!

6. If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life what would It be?

Pizza!  And I don’t mean the fast food version of pizza.  I mean the crunchy, thin crust, artisan pizza with toppings such as cherry tomatoes, arugula, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, etc…ok now I have a serious craving for a pizza.

7. Why did you start a blog?

I’m a stay at home mom with lots going on in my brain so what better way to express that then through a blog?  I’m hoping it’ll be a fun outlet and that I’ll be able to connect to many other bloggers.

8. What is your favourite type of animal and why?

Another really easy one for me: dogs!  I am a big puppy lover.  I’ve always had a dog since I was about 12 years old.  My favourites are Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers.  Currently I have a beautiful black lab baby girl named Maya (or Mayita as we affectionately call her).  She’s 8 years old but to me she’s still just a little baby, plus she still acts like one too 🙂  Dogs are incredibly loyal, all they want to do is love you and be loved back.  They know when you’re sick or upset and do anything to make you smile and feel better.  What’s not to love?!

9. If you had a chance for  a “do-over” in life, what would it be?

Honestly, nothing.  Sure I’ve made some questionable choices in my life, who hasn’t?  But I believe that our experiences shape who we are, without my ups and downs I wouldn’t be me.

10. What do you feel most proud of?

My son.  Is this too cliché?  If so then who cares haha.  He wasn’t easy to come by, we had to do a lot to get him and now that he’s here I couldn’t be prouder of this amazing little person that my husband and I created.

11. If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?

Oh this one is tough one!  I’d have to go with; chapstick for my impossibly dry lips; at least one outfit of clothing since I’m not into the nudist lifestyle; an iPhone, I know I know, but who can live without internet these days and besides, I’m an expat, I need to be connected to family; my wedding & engagement rings (those count as just one right?); my Grandmother’s rosary (for sentimental reasons).

So there you have it!  I hope you enjoyed reading my answers.  Now it is my turn to Nominate some new bloggers. The Liebster Award goes to:

Project Mama (http://projectmama.co.nz/)

Tallentale (http://tallentale.com/)

Weading Out The Truth (https://jessicawead.wordpress.com)

These are the instructions for the Nominees:

– Create a blog post on your site, answering the questions I will provide below.
– In your post, be sure to link back to the blog that nominated you with a thank you and a shout out.
– After completing the questions, add a section for your nominees.
– Select, list, and link to a set of new bloggers with around 200 followers or so. Provide them with these instructions and give them an additional 11 questions to answer.
– Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so they know what to do.
– When you’re all finished, come back here and comment with the link to your post so I can read your answers!

Here are my questions:

  1. How did you chose the name of your blog?
  2. Where do you get your inspiration from for your blog posts?
  3. How do you incorporate blogging into your schedule?
  4. What is your favourite book?
  5. What is your favourite movie?
  6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  7. What is the best trip you’ve ever taken?
  8. What’s your favourite holiday and why?
  9. Would you rather watch a sunrise or a sunset?
  10. What is your favourite family tradition?

I look forward to reading the answers!

Thanks for reading 🙂