Friday, March 28, 2014

1st time mom review series // keeping a 4/5 month old entertained

Below is a list of products that my daughter has loved, and played with, every day between 4 months and 5 months.

We put her through a little circuit throughout the day - it's like she has a baby membership to Curves! :) This is what works for us and our daughter. Not everyone agrees that bouncers and jumpers are good for a baby's development so just choose what works for you an your baby, and what you feel comfortable with.
This is such a fun time for your little one - they can hold things, entertain themselves for short periods of time and interact with you. A few fun things that keep them from getting bored helps you both enjoy the day that much more!

  1. Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumper
    Our baby LOVES her Baby Einstein jumper. It took until about 4.5 months for our daughter to be able to touch the floor on the lowest level but now that she can, there is no stopping her. With 12 activities to keep your little one busy, there is never a dull moment. We have also used link rings to attach a bunch of toys as well so she is never bored. My friend calls any exersaucer type toy as a "circle of neglect" - ha ha - but everything in moderation is my mommy mantra.
  2. Jolly Jumper on a Stand
    Once our daughter hit 4 months, she was a bouncing machine and the Jolly Jumper quickly became her favourite activity. We also have the Jolly Jumper Musical Mat so she giggles every time she makes the musical sounds go off. This is a huge hit in our house but we do limit it to only a few times a day, and a few minutes at a time.
  3. Nuby Teethers
    We were given a handful of different types of Nuby Teethers before our daughter was born and they were the first "toys" I introduced to our daughter when she started to be able to hold on to objects. There are so many designs and options, your little one will be sure to find a fun new friend to chew and drool on for sure!
  4. Sassy Crib and Floor Mirror
    We did have a play mat but after we had to take our daughter to physiotherapy due to a flat spot on the back of her head, I passed the play mat on and opted for a few items that would help encourage tummy time. A case worker suggested a mirror so that she could distract herself with her own expression so I opted for this mirror and it worked. Baby girl started enjoying tummy time so much more. Another great tip to encourage tummy time is to roll up a receiving blanket and place it under the baby's armpits. Takes a bit of pressure off of them and made a big difference for us.
  5. My Friend Emily by Lamaze
    When we started making frequent trips to Toys R Us after our baby was born to pick up odds and ends that we didn't even know we needed, I quickly became obsessed with Lamaze toys. They are all adorable and have different textures, make different sounds, tags, etc. to help distract and keep baby interested. A good friend gave Charlotte My Friend Emily for Christmas and we also have Freddie the Firefly.
  6. Oball
    When we found I was pregnant, my husband made me go out and buy an Oball for our unborn child. He was obsessed and I couldn't figure it out but I got one, and we were also given one as a gift. If you don't have one, go get one - or a few (I keep one in our diaper bag). They are awesome - easy for babies to hold on to and they come in a ton of different colours, shapes and sizes. I still can't really explain it but I totally get why my husband wanted one - they are awesome and our daughter loves them.
  7. Sophie the Giraffe
    Sophie is basically a $20.00 (on average) dog toy for babies - ha ha. Even so, it is so worth the money. Once a baby starts to teethe (or figure out they have a mouth - whatever comes first), EVERYTHING goes into their mouth. Sophie is soft and chewy, and squeaks when squeezed (seriously - just like a dog toy) and the head, long neck and legs are perfect for their little fingers to hold, and to fit into their little mouths.
P.S. I couldn't find the Nuby Teether online that my daughter loves to the most - must be an older product - but here is a picture with her Bunny Nuby and her first time feeling snow. She's a fan of both the bunny and the snow I think!

Are you a 1st Time Mom and trying to figure it out as you go along too? Feel free to leave me a comment with any questions and I will be more than happy to get back to you. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

three things thursday

1. I cannot wait to make this cake (a variation of) for my little girl.
I've seen these cakes popping up online all over the place but this, even I can make!
2. Let's shall we?
3. I am back on the Pinterest bandwagon lately. Follow me here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

writing wednesdays // when you died, a piece of everyone's heart died with you

On December 3, 1996, a young family friend passed away after a drunk driving accident (he was driving alone and was the only one involved). I was 17 at the time, and even though I had dealt with my fair share of tragedies in my young life, this incident was extremely hard for me, and my family.

Looking back now, I am so grateful that I had writing as an outlet to get me through the rough times. It's no wonder a lot of young people act out as they suffer through the trials and tribulations of adolescence, the teen years and hormone changes.

I will definitely be encouraging my daughter to keep a journal from a very young age. When you don't feel like you have anyone to talk to, or that no one will truly listen, it always feels better after you write about it. I need to remember this too, now, at 35 and incorporate daily writing back into my life. We miss you Rob! xo

When You Died, A Piece of Everyone's Heart Died With You
Your presence is missed in the now empty and desolate house.
Words are hardly spoken because once one's mouth opens to speak, everyone is distracted by the glistening tears falling down our cheeks.
Somewhere in time, your soul is trapped and you have found your place of freedom.
You have fallen asleep into a heavenly dream from which you can never awake.

When you died, a piece of everyone's heart died with you.

The soccer field will miss your cleats impressing into the earth.
Your graceful run, so close to the ground, your million yard throw-ins, and your timely, tricky maneuvers can never be replaced.
You tried to act cool one day in front of all the girls and you truly did impress us all with your slip.
You sure did make us all laugh that day. 
When you died, a piece of everyone's heart died with you.

A child should always outlive his parents, but oh how you beat the odds.

Invincible, remarkable, talented, young, strong, good looking; the list goes on forever and a day.
You left your family and friends behind and moved onto bigger and better things, to a better world, a better life.
Someday we will see you again ... someday.

When you died, a piece of everyone's heart died with you.

We will miss your laugh, your smile, your skills, your ability, your eyes, your nose, your hair, your body, your mouth, your touch.

Everything you need now is your loving soul and behind you have left us your heart and character.
These are embedded in our minds and hearts forever.
A son, a brother, a nephew, a grandson, a cousin, a friend.
You were so many things but always a little boy who hadn't grown into your true title of "King".

When you died, a piece of everyone's heart died with you.
~ Jaclyn Van Den Berg (Bower) - December 4, 1996

Monday, March 24, 2014

first time to chuck e cheese

Yesterday we celebrated my niece and nephew's 4th birthday party at good old Chuck E Cheese in Langley.

When I was a kid, we celebrated a lot of birthdays at Chuck E Cheese in Coquitlam back in the day so I was super excited to document Charlotte's first trip to see the Big Cheese.

She met Chuck E Cheese himself and just stared at him with open eyes (and mouth - I think she wanted to nibble on his ears). The only thing that bothered her about the adventure was the noise. Holy hell - that place is LOUD - I did not blame her one bit.

I guess mommy is getting old. The whole drive home I tried to bribe her to NOT want a Chuck E Cheese birthday party in the future. But, of course, if she asks for it, I am sure she will get it. She's only 5 months old so lots (LOTS) of fun birthdays to come!

The birthday boy and girl.
They actually turn 4 today and I cannot believe it. Love them!
Our nephew Curtis (way too cool for school at 12 years old), Nana and Charlotte.
Of course the birthday party was right at nap time but little C is a champ
and had a quick catnap in our Beco carrier but was happy for the rest of the shindig.
 Daddy introducing Charlotte to the Big Cheese himself.
This is the dancing (electronic) Chuck E but she did meet
the walking mascot one too - I just didn't get a photo unfortunately.
Princess Charlotte. Daddy is already grooming her.
Mommy is in trouble.
My crazy family. And yes, I would love them even if they looked like this all the time.
Well, at least I would love Charlotte.
Charlotte on the way home. She was one tired little girl.
  I had to share the cupcakes that my sister-in-law's friends made. So cute.
The party was half "Minion" for my nephew and half "Princess" for my niece.
 And just for fun ... I think I was probably 5 in this photo.
I've been a lover of that mouse forever.
It is so not the same as it used to be but glad that the family tradition can live on!

Friday, March 21, 2014

1st time mom review series // infant seat

When I was expecting our first daughter last October, one of the first items on my registry was for a Bumbo. You know the one - the plastic molded seat that is forever causing controversy because some silly (a.k.a. stupid) parent left their infant seated in one, unattended, on a countertop. And these ridiculous situations cause product recalls and mass hysteria - and a restraint belts?!
Yep - I wanted one because they are the talk of the town and every new parent needed one right? We were given a used blue Bumbo (before we knew we were having a girl but blue is the new pink so that was cool). And of course we needed a $15.00 tray because ... we just did. So off to Toys R Us I trucked with a 2 week old in tow to buy a plastic tray - not really understanding that she wouldn't/shouldn't actually sit in the Bumbo until about 4 months old and even then, the window of using the product properly lasts about - oh - 2 weeks.
And because we are rockstar new parents and do everything we are supposed to (NOT!), here is a photo of our 2 week old baby sitting in her blue Bumbo with her neck compressed because she is way too small and too young, without the restraint belt (never got around to following up on that recall) and propped on the kitchen counter unattended. I'm joking of course - we were right there and would never leave here there. But please note that her terrible baby acne went away soon after this photo was taken and daddy dressed her that day.

We started using the Bumbo really early so that she could have somewhere to rest while we had dinner. The only issue is that she wasn't stable enough to sit properly and, from day one, her little legs were so fat (chunky monkey) that I couldn't get her out of the seat without lifting her and prying the seat off of her. But we used it because we had it and - well - that's what new parents do.
Enter my husband's awesome aunt who lives in Chicago. She wanted to send us a gift to welcome our new bundle of joy into the world but it took longer than she had hoped so we didn't get her gift until our daughter was a little over a month old. The mail lady dropped it off on our front step and when I opened it, I was pleasantly surprised. It was both practical and exactly what we needed - somewhere for our daughter to sit and be entertained while we ate dinner.
The 3-Stage SuperSeat® offers 360 degrees of floor time activity fun & booster in one.  It is a secure and comfortable area for your growing infant to learn to sit up and interact with their environment around them. With the Summer Infant 3-Stage SuperSeat® your baby can experience play while also sitting up. It’s the ideal place to keep baby entertained, safe and happy!
This SuperSeat is - well - super! We still couldn't "properly" use this seat until she was almost 4 months old but it has a tray that swivels around will help when she is eating finger foods but also has toys to entertain her now and ... a built in restraint belt! :) We can use it with or without the activity tray and take it with us as a booster seat when she gets a bit older. It's fun and the openings in the foam, molded seat are much larger than a Bumbo so she doesn't get stuck, just sits comfortable in the grooves.
This post is not to knock Bumbo at all. As a new parent, whatever works, just go with it. But if you are anything like us, and produced an adorable Buddha baby with chubby little limbs, I would suggest to bypass the Bumbo and look for a Summer Infant SuperSeat.
And just to prove that we are awesome parents, here is a photo of our daughter sitting in her SuperSeat, having dinner with us, on the kitchen table (don't mind the permanent marker beauty mark on her forehead - my husband thinks he is funny). Be safe parents!
Are you a 1st Time Mom and trying to figure it out as you go along too? Feel free to leave me a comment with any questions and I will be more than happy to get back to you. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

three things thursday

1. I know I often make the wrong choice. Will keep this illustration handy for future nights out.
2. The sooner you realize it's all up to you, the happier you will be!
3. This Action Book will definitely help me keep focussed on work projects after my maternity leave is over. Love how Elise uses hers!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

writing wednesdays // the insane town

I had to include this one in my "Writings Wednesdays" posts for any readers from good old Walnut Grove (in Langley, British Columbia). I wrote this in 1996 when I was in grade 12 and I was a point in my life where I was quickly starting to realize that high school wasn't real life - just 5 years of ... well, read and see what I mean. This was before bullies were called out and right after I witnessed a fellow student get beat up by a group of his peers, and attended a party at a classmate's house that got way out of hand. Such a confusing time for a teenager - I'm kind of surprised most of us survived! I'm equally surprised that I actually submitted this as a class assignment in my writing class.

The Insane Town
Everybody talks behind each other's backs,
And when word gets around, somebody gets whacked.
Girls walk with their noses up high in the air,
When somebody has a bad hair day, it becomes a major affair.
They talk and they swear, they gossip and they hurt.
Only a kick in the head could make these air heads alert.
Word spreads like the plague and before one knows it,
They are being accused of sleeping with someone they've only known for a bit.
They all smoke their weed and get so high,
They think they are so cool when their brain is in the sky.
They trip on their acid and see weird things.
We laugh at them in class when they say stuff that is funny or something.
They eat their fungus and their legs begin to twitch.
They get so defensive and scream words like bitch.
Alcohol swims in all the inhabitants blood,
Nothing could phase them, not even a life threatening flood.
A friend likes face down dead as a dog;
It doesn't make them think differently, they just roll another log.
They party on weekends and trash a house,
They destroy some person's ride and creep away like a mouse.
The cops chase them and they laugh in their faces.
They spit on the losers and laugh at their court cases.
Nothing is serious, they think that they're all God,
The ultimate judge and whistle degradingly at that fine chick's bod.
The boys are all talk and they are always starting fights.
Nobody cares about a winner because no one is really right.
People get punched by one person and fall to the ground,
And before they know it, people are all around.
Their air is cut off and their head meets a shoe,
But it is not attached to the foot of the person who
Took the first swing and sent him down.
All these things happen all the time in the insane town.
~ Jaclyn Van Den Berg (Bower) - October 3, 1996

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


You should see my husband come running when our daughter makes the "dada" sounds.
Makes me smile each and every time.
Cartoon from Baby Center's My Baby Today app:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

1st time mom review series // beco gemini baby carrier

Before we had our baby 5 months ago, I was given two hand-me-down Snugli baby carriers. I was super grateful for everything I was given before and after baby Charlotte was born but when I got "big ticket" items like baby furniture, high chairs, baby carriers, etc. I felt like I had hit the jacket - baby stuff is expensive!
After a bit of research, I found out that both carriers were really old. I wasn't super concerned but passed on the older one and kept the newer one (new being 2007). I used it a few times (literally) when Charlotte was a few months old. I would just walk around the house with her and see if either of us really enjoyed the whole baby carrying business. At that point, we could both either take it or leave it from what I could tell.
Fast forward a bit and at her first immunization appointment we got referred to a local development program and physiotherapy program for her flat head (yes - there is some proper medical term for it but I can't remember and no - there is absolutely nothing to worry about). Long story short, the goal is to keep her from lying on her back as much as possible - more tummy time, let her sleep on her stomach if she wants to, use the car seat as little as possible and carry her more.
Yay! Girlfriend finally enjoys herself some tummy time!
So, knowing at that point that if I needed to use a carrier often, the Snugli wasn't going to work for me, I went on the search for the best baby carrier for us and narrowed it down to two popular choices: Ergobaby and the Beco Gemini. After a lot of internet surfing, I decided to get a Beco Gemini.
Without going through a detailed comparison of the two carriers, I just wanted to share with you why the Gemini was the right choices for us. (Here is a great Baby Carrier Comparison Chart but if you Google it, you can find tons online.)
Why did I choose the Beco Gemini carrier?
  • Wearing Options: Our daughter is now 5 months old and super curious about the world around here. I have been told on more than one occasion that she is a "thinker" because she is constantly examining things, staring at stuff and no longer is content to sleep in the vehicle - basically, she gets bored super easy. So, putting all the "research" and "evidence" that says that this option is bad for baby, I really wanted a carrier that would allow me to face our daughter out so she could look around. The Gemini gives you four different wearing options: Front Facing In, Front Facing Out, Hip and Backpack. I don't want this to be a debate about dangling leg and crotch issues - my belief is that everything in moderation is a-ok with me. And don't even get me started about the media around Ergobaby because they are coming out with a carrier that allows you to face your baby out so it can't be all that bad now can it?!
  • Weight Capacity: The Gemini is good for babies from 7 to 35 pounds which means you can use it basically from birth until 35 pounds without an insert (this was important to me because I have heard that the Ergobaby infant insert is cumbersome). We didn't get this carrier until our daughter was about 13 pounds but I like the option for any future children. I know that other carriers allow you to carry your child longer but unless I become a world traveller or go on long hikes, I am not sure why I would need to carry around my 3 or 4 year old. Just me, just saying.
  • Shoulder Straps: The shoulder straps on the Gemini can be worn - easily - crossed for extra back support. This is a huge plus for me because being a 35-year-old first time mom, I am not getting any younger and my body is not getting any stronger anytime soon.
  • Head Support: It has a built-in foldable padded headrest which I like better than the hood that can be found on other carriers. If our daughter falls asleep, I can snap the headrest up and shield her from any distractions without putting anything over her head which she cannot stand. Some would argue that the hood helps block out the sun but if it's that sunny, your kid should have a hat on. Makes sense doesn't it?
  • Design Choices: The Gemini comes in 12 fabulous colour/design options (if you purchase straight from their website and get a current model). Yes, I was swayed by the pretty designs but opted for just a plain grey carrier (see below).
Where did I buy our carrier? 
I purchased my Beco Gemini Carrier online from Frogmama. I live in Canada but got it shipped to a place in Blaine, Washington where I pick up packages. Frogmama provided excellent customer service, and free and fast shipping. No complaints!
Did I buy any accessories for our carrier?
No matter what carrier you invest in, I highly suggest buying some teething pads (those little monkeys sure do like to put EVERYTHING in their mouths and don't get me started about the drool). Frogmama's site was excellent and when I put the carrier into my online shopping basket, they prompted me to buy the Beco Drool Pads. Easy and simple.
If I had known what I was looking for, I probably would have gone straight to Etsy to purchase a Drool Pad and Teething Bib set. For now I just tuck in a receiving blanket or towel in the front to help with the drool.

Why did I buy a plain grey carrier when Beco provides such fun colour options?
We purchased a grey carrier for no other reason than my husband suggested it. I didn't want black because I DETEST seeing lint and would have had to velcro a lint roller to the carrier at all times. But when the carrier came and we tested it, in 2.2 seconds it was covered in drool. Oh well - I don't think that can be avoided in this stage of the game and when she is a bit older, that will stop. Not to worry - the carrier is completely machine washable. And no, this is not my husband, just an adorable daddy on the Beco website. Come to think of it, I think this is the only dad model (other than the handsome soldier - and yes, for those of you who know me, I so wanted to by the camo carrier) on the website so this might be why my husband chose grey!
There you have it - the reasons why we chose to purchase our Beco Gemini Baby Carrier. BIG emphasis on why WE did - no baby, mom, dad or family are alike so what works for us might not work for you but hopefully this will give you a bit more food for thought during your carrier research. Happy carrying parents!
Are you a 1st Time Mom and trying to figure it out as you go along too? Feel free to leave me a comment with any questions and I will be more than happy to get back to you. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

three things thursday

1. This illustration sums up our seasons quite nicely doesn't it? #truth
2. I am so grateful for maternity leave benefits but they are kicking my butt financially. #timetogetmoneysmart
3. I couldn't agree with Lucille's statement more! #ifeellikestompingrapesnow

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

writing wednesdays // sunrise on shuswap

I was going to start off my first "Writing Wednesdays" with a throw back to a poem I wrote in 1993 when I was just 14 years old - the year I started my awesome poetry journal - ha ha. Then I thought that wasn't the best idea because that poem is called, "Why Live?" and it is dark and depressing, and people might over think it. As mentioned in my previous introduction to "Writing Wednesdays" post, I am kind of surprised my parents didn't have me in counselling as I had such dark thoughts to get out of my head and on to paper (the journal is filled with disturbing pieces). I had a fairly normal and happy upbringing so I have no clue where these disturbing words came from.

That being said, let's fast forward to 1996 for something a bit more pretty and poetic. The writing does get better but it's always fun to see where you started and how far you have come. And no, I didn't always rhyme. :) Enjoy!

Sunrise on Shuswap
As we sit and wait, we quickly begin to anticipate.
We see all the gorgeous colors that are going to light up the sky.
We wait for so long, but time slowly ticks by.
We make up our own conversation, learning all about our new friends.
The clock is moving slowly but I am glad because I don't want the night to come to an end.
Finally the sun peaks through the mountains and the glow is so bright.
I am so comfortable with you, and it is just so perfect and right.
~ Jaclyn Van Den Berg (Bower) - July 31, 1996

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

writing wednesdays

I spent some time this weekend cleaning out some old files. With a new baby comes a lot of paperwork so I wanted to get rid of some old stuff to make room for the new (and way more important) stuff.
In my travels through my craft room closet I came across my old writing file. I LOVE to write - always have and always will. I have been writing poetry and stories since I could spell. I've made countless writing/art projects as gifts for friends and family, and even get excited when I get to write a to do list - this girl is a writer through and through. Other than for documentation purposes, writing is why I started this blog in the first place - a small corner of the world for me to put my words down in one place just for me ... and whoever else might stumble across and read them.
When I was in grade 12, I had a very incompetent guidance counsellor who didn't really know what direction to point me in so, knowing that I wanted a practical college program vs. a university degree (hindsight being what it is - I might have opted for the degree but I am still a believer in experience and talent over education any day of the week) I looked for anything that had to do with writing. I stumbled across Douglas College's Print Futures: Professional Writing Program and after reading a few of the class summaries (I describe the program basically as a way to become every type of writer imaginable besides a novelist), I registered. Long story short, after some mix-ups, an intimidating interview and a handful of writing samples, I made the cut and attended the program from 1997 until graduating in 1999.
I've only kept a file folder full of writing projects throughout the years - from early childhood through to adult years. One of my most treasured possessions is my book of poetry that I have kept since high school - scrapbook style. I have long lost any electronic copies of my poems so I thought I would start a new series here on the blog called "Writing Wednesdays" where I will share a poem or a story each week. This will give me a chance to get them typed out, edited and re-shaped a bit - and have someone else enjoy them ... I hope. :)
Hope to see you back here on Wednesday for the first piece. And I would love to hear about and read your writing too if you care to share!
In grade 12, I took any writing related course I could: English AP, English Lit AP and Writing 12. In Writing we were given a different project to complete each week and "Eddie the Fireman" was my children's book assignment. My teacher was (crazy) supportive and even helped me send copies off to publishers. Looking at it now I can't help but think, "What the hell were we thinking?!" but it was a fun exercise at the time and I look forward to reading this little gem to my daughter for years to come.

I was an ... interesting teenager to say the least. Stubborn, strong, fiercely independent and bitchy (ask anyone). I had no clue who I was but I felt like I was on the edge of finding out so I was super confused, anxious and self-conscious. Writing helped me express myself so one day I thought, "Why not write my own religion?" I've always been really confused and unsure when it comes to a 'higher power' and have had a few bad things happen to me in my lifetime so this little self-imposed project help me put all those thoughts into focus. Looking back, it was probably a cry for help but now, at 35, I can appreciate what it is and am so glad I kept it. I mean, who does this?
Another storybook I wrote and illustrated using copied Suzy's Zoo characters. I'm going to read this one to my daughter this afternoon. She's too young to care ... or laugh at her momma yet. :)

 My Super Shades (remember these??) poetry journal. Filled with words, illustrations and dedications. I can't believe how dark my writing was from a very young age. No wonder my dad started questioning me after he read "An Apple Never Tasted as Good as the Day my Dad Died". What was I thinking?