Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Organization = Sanity

Upon the arrival of my first little girl I had this illusion, among others, that my living room didn't have to look like a children's playroom.  However, since our home is very open concept that's exactly what was on the verge of happening.  I couldn't believe how many toys accumulated over the first few weeks and then months of her life.  They seem to miraculously multiply right before my eyes.  My husband and I looked at every furniture store in the city and finally came across a beautiful extra large coffee table, in which I found my salvation.  There is tons of space underneath, which is where the majority of the toys reside in baskets.

I love it when things are tidy and organized; I attribute it to my Virgo personality traits and my mom’s sound advice “a place for everything and everything in its place.”  Even writing that phrase down makes me sigh with contentment.  But, the reality is I now have a toddler and although there is a place for everything, rarely is everything in its place.

It took Sophie less than a minute to create this masterpiece.

Over the past few months I have learned to embrace the untidiness that is now my home.  Well, maybe embrace is a strong word; endure for a short period of time is probably more accurate.   Lucky for me Sophie has an afternoon nap and is in bed for the night at 7:30 pm so I have plenty of time to re-balance my sanity by putting things back in order.  Sadly, I admit that I find it therapeutic to imagine the sequence in which I will efficiently restore order to my home the moment the wild and destructive animal is effectively contained Sophie is snugly tucked into bed.  

During the day I will often enlist Sophie to help out with the clean up by putting the Legos and blocks in their appropriate baskets, but I reserve the bookshelf and toy organization for myself. 

I got this brilliant Lego table idea from the Meet the Dubien's blog, it has definitely saved my sanity.

Occasionally my sweet husband will surprise me by tidying up while I put the kids to bed.  Of course I express my sincere gratitude; however in the meantime I inwardly cringe and make a note to re-organize the toys and books the moment he steps into the garage.  He’ll never notice. Yes, I realize how insane this makes me sound, but the anal retentiveness is what makes me who I am.  Wait until I tell you about my Playdoh issues.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ocean in a Jar

We recently returned home from a lovely vacation in Costa Rica.  Of course Sophie thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the pool and exploring the beach.  During her numerous beach expeditions she managed to acquire quite the collection of seashells, which I know we were not supposed to bring home with us, but really how many people break that rule?  Yes I know that statement means that I will one day be hypocritical when I tell my teenage daughter that “Just because so and so does it, doesn’t mean you should too.”  Oh well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Anyways, we arrived home with this little collection of seashells and rocks that were Sophie’s newest cherished possession.  Well now what?  I tried to picture myself dusting around these troublesome treasures on her bookshelf and occasionally stepping on one that has tumbled to the floor in Sophie’s hasty book selection for bedtime.  Nope, just couldn’t do it.  Luckily I stumbled across this brilliant idea in my twitter feed to create an Ocean in a Bottle

So here is Sophie’s little ocean…

Word to the wise:  The Ocean in a Bottle directions that I found suggest that you should mix vegetable oil with water to make your little ocean.  Well when I read that I thought it was a little odd considering that vegetable oil and water are known to separate and not mix, but I thought I’d be trusting (gullible, clueless, whatever you want to call it).  Perhaps the food colouring magically bonds the water to the vegetable oil… Nope, I ended up with an ugly mess.  I tried shaking it really hard, but then I ended up with a bunch of nasty looking oil droplets floating in the water that quickly rose to the top to separate into a particularly ugly yellow layer of oil.

So here's what we used:

- Jar with a lid
- Aquarium sand
- Shells & Rocks
- Water
- Blue food colouring - 1 drop
- Hot glue gun
- Ribbon

You could really add everything in whatever order you want to, but here's what we did:

Put enough sand to fill the jar about 1/8 full.
Top up with water, leaving some room at the top for air.

Add the food colouring and give it a little shake.
Plunk the seashells and rocks in (Sophie's favorite part of course).

Screw the lid on very tight and run a bead of hot glue along the edge of the lid. (Note: I tried gluing the lid on as was also suggested in the directions I found, but it ended up leaving gaps in the seal so it leaked)
Tie some ribbon around the lid to add pizzazz and hide the glue. 

There you have it.  Now instead of having a dozen or so seashells to dust and threaten my poor defenseless feet, we have a beautiful little world of wonder to shake, explore and as things go with toddlers, eventually forget about.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Strategies for Rooming in with Children

All in the name of a good night's sleep...

My husband and I generally attempt to avoid sharing a room with either of our children if at all possible.  However, given that we enjoy the occasional family trip away from home we inevitably end up bunking in with the kiddos.

Our first strategy is always to find somewhere else to put the kids other than the room we’ll be sleeping in.  Occasionally there will be a suitable laundry room or quiet hallway and on very rare occasions even a separate bedroom.  But, more often than not we end up at a friend’s house staring blankly at a cozy spare room, dreading the night before us.  After a quick peruse of the room the closet begins to emanate this glorious golden glow, practically shouting hallelujah!   What child wouldn’t want to sleep in that wonderful space?  Yes, confession – we have set up the bassinet in a closet and the playpen will even fit in a roomy walk-in.

Now before you comment on how ridiculous this sounds I feel as though I must tell you that our girls are known to toss and turn in their sleep and open their eyes to confirm whether or not it is still time to sleep.  Well, if they so much as catch a glimpse of someone else’s arm, toe or heaven forbid face we might as well just turn on the disco ball and shout out “Let’s get this party started!”  Therefore, we have learned to take all precautions to avoid being seen by the children so as to prevent the 3:00 am party, which will inevitably lead to the 3:30 am meltdown. 


We recently shared a hotel room with both girls.  Willow was the lucky one who got to sleep in the cozy closet and Sophie was in a big bed next to my husband and me.  In this scenario a well-positioned nightstand meant that Sophie couldn’t see our faces to tell if we were awake or not.  So if she tossed and turned in the night we would remain deadly still until she rolled over and went back to sleep, I imagine similar to how one would act when in the presence of T-Rex.

"Nice try Mommy, I can see you"

Naptime in the hotel room was also a bit tricky and required some stealth moves on my part.  I found that getting Sophie to go to sleep for her nap in the hotel room wasn’t too difficult.  Once she was asleep I’d read my book in peace and enjoy the quiet, but the moment she began to stir I quickly did my well-rehearsed tuck and roll and hid out of sight until she fell back to sleep.  The times when I wasn’t quite quick enough I’d avert my gaze and close my eyes hoping that maybe there was some truth to the childlike assumption that “If I can’t see her she can’t see me.”  Of course there isn’t, but it doesn't hurt to give it a shot right?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Modern Mommy

To state the obvious, this is my first official blogpost.  With a toddler and a newborn keepingme on my toes I guess I somehow feel as though I have some experiences to shareand need an outlet to share them, so here I am finally putting type to virtualpaper after staring at a blinking curser for what seems like weeks.

It is now month 5 of my second maternity leave and I amthoroughly enjoying being home with my two little girls, Sophie is 2 and a halfyears old and Willow is nearing the 5 month mark.  We have great days, good days, bad days,boring days, whiny days, long days, extremely long days, fun days, and routinedays.  At the end of every day I think tomyself “I’m so lucky to have such wonderfulchildren.”  Okay, well maybe I don’tspecifically think that every day, but I’m sure it’s in the back of my mindsomewhere even on those bad days.

I love the “I got thismom thing down” days, where by 8:00am I’ve piled ingredients into thecrockpot, unloaded the dishwasher, and set my toddler up with a three coursemeal for breakfast, all the while nursing my 4 month old.

I dread the “Get meout of this hell hole” days, where by 8:00am I have failed at my attempt tomasterfully contain an up-the-back poop explosion, while my toddler veryefficiently empties every single toy shelf and basket in the house, the disgustingsmell of baby spit up is definitely coming from my hair, and I have yet to makea freakin pot of coffee!!!!

I secretly enjoy the “Mykids are so perfect” days, where by 8:00am I’ve eaten a bowl of cereal, savoured2 cups of coffee, read the latest blog posts from one of my favourite bloggers,explored a whole whack of new pins on Pinterest, and the kids are stillsleeping soundly, sigh.

But I really like the predictability of my favorite days: the “Another day in the life of us” days, where by 8:00am Sophie is shoveling cereal into her mouth like there’s no tomorrow, Willow is enjoying her breakfast too, and there is a tidy living room just waiting to be scattered with toys.

Well, this is just a snippet of what my life is like as a modern mommy.  There is plenty more where this came from.  Please feel free to comment on my posts or send me an email if you prefer.