Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Z: Zazzy Zippers

Oh my goodness!!  We've finally reached z.  It's been fun, it's been exhausting, I'm glad I did it.  Thanks again to all those who have joined my blog, and to everyone who left their wonderful comments.  Happy blogging to you all. :)

One time-saving tip I'd like to share with any new parents or parents to be out there... pick zippers over buttons (at least for the first few months).

I can still remember one of the first times I attempted to put one of those darn button-up sleepers on my little sweetheart... I had NO idea what I was doing.  I buttoned up buttons but there were holes and gaps and it came out like a mishmash of material more than cozy pajamas.  Add a squirmy baby to that and frustration meddles with time-consuming.

I actually had to rummage through my stack of baby clothes to study how the buttons fit together.  It might have looked easy in theory but putting it together in practice was no simple task.  From then on zippers were my best friend and buttons were my undefeated enemy.

Fortunately, practice makes perfect and patience is key.  Thankfully my darling daughter had enough patience to keep her movements to a minimum while this mommy fought tirelessly to figure out those darn buttons.

But now, my oldest sweetie is almost two, and the zipper and the buttons are on equal ground, at least for me.  The war of the buttons is not over though, it has claimed a new victim... my daughter.  She too has gracefully mastered the art of zippering.  It's just the complicated function of the button she has yet to figure out.  But I have faith in her.  If this mama can do it, I know she can!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Y: Yawning Yet Youthful

Do not be deceived by the sweet sleepy yawns of your tireless little monster.  Somehow, no matter how little sleep children seem to get, they are endlessly abundant with energy.  With so much excitement in the world, so much to learn about and discover, kids have a hard time befriending nap time, too afraid they might miss something should they succumb to the sweet land of sleep.

I certainly envy their youthful exuberance, and not only am I exhausted from chasing after their non-stop ways, I'm tired just thinking about it.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

X: X-rated

Pre-babies, the x-rated moments are vast and abundant, exciting and fun.  Post-babies, the x-rated moments are non-existent.  At least we can blame the first six weeks or so on the doctor's orders, but when the 'waiting' period is gone, between battling with dirty diapers, sleepless nights, sore breasts, and post-baby bodies, we're left wondering if the romance was taken out in one of the dirty diaper bags.

Not only that, when we manage to find time for those x-rated moments again, they become expected and routine.  Where is all the excitement?  Obviously it's harder to find and make alone time, and the alone time that is allotted to the day always falls into the same slots, nap time and bed time.  So how do we keep the romance alive?  How do we keep the x-rated moments fun and unpredictable?  How do we maintain the intimacy? 

I have yet to figure that out, so if you have any tips, feel free to let me know.

Friday, 26 April 2013

W: Wearisome Whining

One of the most frustrating phases of childhood, after making it past the 'no' phase (one I was lucky enough to bypass), is the whining.  The high-pitched 'my toe hurts' 'I want my bunny' 'I'm sleepy' 'I'm hungry' whining.  If there is one thing that makes me wish for peace and quiet above all else, it's this wearisome habit of children.

I'm not even sure I know how they learn it.  Am I a whiner?  Do my kids pick it up from me?  Since most of their learned behaviours come from their parents, I'm not left with much else for an explanation.  And I realize there are tactics for dealing with this horrible habit, but having tested them myself, I have yet to find one that is efficient.

So where does that leave me?  Waiting until the whining phase passes?  Pulling my hair out in frustration?  Attempting to ignore it altogether?  Sometimes I wish there was a parenting handbook that held all the answers, but then again, it would take away all the fun of figuring things out yourself.

For now, I guess I'll just have to wiggle my way through the whining and continue to focus on all the other, loveable, endearing aspects of my darling daughter, at least until my youngest daughter is old enough to drag me back through this wonderful phase.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

V: Varying Values

Learning to care for your newborn can be exhausting and stressful, yet altogether amazing, but when your darling one grows older and you look back on those days, it almost seems as though you've already passed the easy part of parenting.  From toddler to teen, there are always new challenges, new stages, and new obstacles to overcome, but one thing that can make this more difficult for parents are varying values.

I'm sure all parents have had arguments over who was right about how to handle certain situations, but how do we decide who really is right?  I think it's important to discuss what to do before your little sweetie even enters the world.  Although, doing so is no guarantee that such disagreements won't pop up, but at least you'll be a little more prepared when they do. 

In times of dispute, one parent crossing over to the side of the other parent would of course be ideal.  Not necessarily plausible, but ideal.  But as long as you can find a middle of the road solution, you're on the right track.  At the end of the day, it comes down to whether or not it's worth fighting over.  If it's something your adamant about, like not hitting your kids, then the fight is worth it.  But if it's something simple like what to do about a picky eater, maybe it's not worth the hassle. 

Good values are important when it comes to raising good kids, but shared values are equally as important.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

U: Upcoming Ultrasound

One of the most anticipated moments once you've discovered you're growing the most wondrous gifts of life inside of you, is the upcoming ultrasound. 

Being able to hear the thumpity-thump-thump, of your little bean growing inside of you is exciting beyond words.  I can still remember the first moment I heard that beautiful sound, with both of my kids.

Reading about the changes in growth and development your baby is making each week is thrilling, knowing that little person is getting bigger and bigger and one day you will be able to hold them.

But... preparing to see your baby for the first time (albeit in utero), when you've finally made a date for an upcoming ultrasound... that is absolutely exhilarating.  Being forced to drink tons of water and NOT go to the bathroom is close to torturous for a pregnant woman who's bladder has the constant pressure of her most beautiful creation.  And to be honest, I'm not so convinced that it's necessary.  However, it doesn't matter because knowing that we'll be able to catch a glimpse of the amazing life, the tiny fingers, the little beating heart, it makes it all worth it.

It's one thing to take a pregnancy test and discover you are pregnant.  Then, being told by the doctor, you have a little more confirmation.  And of course, the fact that your body is changing, your hormones are raging, and you're certain that you can feel tiny movements in your belly, makes it that much more believable.  But seeing is believing and being able to look at your little sweetheart, makes it all the more real.

I can still remember the excitement pounding in my heart as I was lubed up with the sticky goo on my belly.  Remaining still when I was so anxious to catch a glimpse of my little darling, never mind having to pee like a racehorse, was no easy task.  Zipping through the small chat with the ultrasound technician, urging them to hurry up and put that poker on my belly and show me the goods, I'm sure I was gripping the thin hospital sheets beneath me in nervous anticipation.  Finally, the probe plopped into the warm jelly and almost instantly the image of my darling daughter appeared on the screen.  I may not have known what I was looking at right away but tears instantly formed in my eyes.  The harder I looked at that little black and white photo, the easier it was to make out her little head and hands, arms and legs, all the wonderful parts that make up my baby.  Considering I hadn't had my daughter yet, this was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

T: Tenacious Tots

The admirable qualities that kids display are endless.  One of their many wonderful attributes is their tenacious character.  I love watching them focus their attention on one specific task.  They try and they try and they try until they get it just right, until they work out a solution.  Sometimes frustration arises and sometimes they look as though they're ready to give up, but they still keep at it.

Something as simple (to us) as finding the square hole for the square shape, their little foreheads crinkle and display that one lonely wrinkle, their lips puff out into a pout, they clench their little fists and vent their frustration with a forceful 'grrr'.  But then finally... something happens... they turn the shape sorter at just the right angle and 'plop' the square falls into the hole.

The look of triumph edges it's way onto their darling faces, beaming from their bright eyes, bouncing off their rosy cheeks, they look up at you and say "Mommy I did it" and you can't help but share in their joy.  And you know, the reason they succeeded is because without even realizing it, they were smart enough to try different things, they were smart enough to know that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing and expecting different results.

Kids are smarter than one would think, their knowledge comes from the pure innocence of being.

Monday, 22 April 2013

S: Superwhy, Sesame Street, and other Shows

The cartoons that are on for kids today are much different than the cartoons that were around when I was young (although I'd like to think that wasn't all that long ago).  Flipping through the channels, catching a glimpse of some of the 'kids' shows that are on TV, I can catch myself glaring at the screen in horror.

I'm absolutely appalled by what some people create and then market to children, fighting and whining and blowing things up and plenty more that I can't even be bothered to take the time to pay any attention to.  And then we wonder why some kids grow up the way they do!  Well with televisions playing the role of the babysitter much more than they should be, there's no need to wonder.

There are however, some exceptions, some gems that I have discovered that are not only clean and wholesome, but they actually teach kids and help them learn. 

Sesame Street and Superwhy are two shows that I make exceptions for and am completely okay with my kids watching.  Sesame Street has been around forever, and I can see why.  It teaches letters and numbers, shapes and vocabulary.  There are great lessons that coincide with what kids have to face in life, like sharing, and being nice to others and what to do when you're angry.  And the furry little monster friends are absolutely adorable. 

Superwhy is another one of the great discoveries I have made.  I can sing the alphabet all day long until I am blue in the face (and some days I do) and I read to my girls every day as much as they want, but it wasn't really until my oldest daughter started to watch Superwhy that she really started to learn her letters.  She points out all the letters in all the words she sees and then asks "What does that spell?"  It makes me so excited and I feel so proud of her and I am happy that the lovable characters, the characters she calls 'her friends' have taught her this. 

I haven't taken a chance on too many other shows because I don't like my girls to watch too much TV in the run of a day, but there are some others that I've caught a peek of from time to time and I find them quite educational.  Dora the Explorer is a good choice, it was one I enjoyed when I was just a bit younger, it helps kids learn two languages which is exciting and wonderful.  Zoboomafoo is one that I don't even know whether it's still on or not, but it's a great chance for kids to see real animals and learn all about them, it was another favourite of mine when I was a young'un.  The Cat in the Hat is not bad either, kids can learn about animals and how things are made, I've even learnt a thing or two.  Curious George is alright, this gives kids another opportunity to learn about things, I myself discovered how maple syrup is made.  Word World is another great show for spelling.  And Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood is alright. 

I guess my whole point is, like anything in life, make whatever you do or whatever you take time on, something of quality, something worthwhile.  I truly believe it's in our best interests as parents to pay attention to what our kids are watching, and if it's not purposeful, why bother with it?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Calling All Authors- Week 1: Meet & Greet

I realize it's not May 1st yet, but for those who have signed up for the Promote Your Book blog hop, I figured I'd give you week one's task early so you have time to prepare. 

It's always fun to learn odd facts about your favourite writer, so here are a few fun questions I've come up with.  Feel free to throw in some of your own if you wish.
What is your favourite animal?

Where have you travelled to (outside of your country), and what's been your favourite destination?

How many siblings do you have?

Are you a lefty or a righty?

Since picking a favourite book is nearly impossible, who is your favourite author or which one has had the most influence on you in your writing career?

For the writerly part of the meet and greet, please post up your author bio.  If you've already written one, you're ahead of the game, but if you're like me and have no idea what to write, you've got some time to prepare.  I'm hoping this will be a great exercise for those who may be struggling with this a bit, it gives us a chance to get an idea of what exactly goes into a bio.

Happy writing and most of all have fun with it. :)

P.S. I'll post the links to everyone's blog on May 1st, so there's still some time to join.  Just comment below with your blog address and I'll add you to the list.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

R: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Now I understand that repetition is the key to remembering, and at times it's certainly endearing that my little ones are capable of singing back to me all that I've just said, like the most beautiful echo, but there are times when this method of learning is not so fun, at least not for the listener.

I love the sound of my daughter's voice and I love hearing what she has to say.  I love having conversations with her and I love answering her questions.  But I don't love it when she says the same thing over and over and over and over and over, even though I've responded each and every time.  Or when she's discovered something she finds absolutely hilarious and she just has to bring it up at least five times a day.  Her most current quip... "Mommy... umm... what's a rhombus?"  Thanks Sesame Street!  I hope I'm not the only parent who feels like I'm going bonkers.

Then there are the times when she's trying to tell something to her Daddy... Now I know men aren't the greatest listeners to begin with, (I hate to be guilty of generalization but let's be honest... this is true for the most part, at least it's the case for most of the men that have been a part of my life), but you think they would make an exception for their sweet little angels.

It's frustrating enough when I know everything that I've just said hasn't even gone in one ear, never mind out the other, but when my little sweetheart is repeatedly begging for her Daddy's attention, it gets under my skin, even moreso than the repetition itself.  And it breaks my heart when I try to acknowledge my daughter, just so she won't have to repeat her darling little self any longer, and she says: "I'm asking Daddy."

Although I am filled with gratitude for the wonderful little girls that have blessed my life with their being, I don't think it's that horrible that I think sometimes, just sometimes, it would be nice to have the occasional moment of peace and quiet.

On a side note, I just want to say thank you to all the people who have decided to follow my blog.  I get so excited when I look at my number and see that someone new has joined my blogging 'family'.  Hope you are all having a fabulous day!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Q: Quality Time

In the evening, when I find myself finally able to relax, my mind wanders through a review of the day.  As long as I have managed to squeeze in some real quality time with my kids, my day feels worthwhile.  But what is quality time?

Although I am a stay-at-home mom and I spend all day everyday with my kids, a lot of the day feels rushed, stressful, sometimes frustrating, and even exhausting at times.  We've managed to develop a fairly efficient routine, mind you there are always exceptions popping up.  Between breakfast and nap time, and lunch and nap time, and cooking dinner and cleanup, and bathing and bed, how much room is left in the day? 

Believe it or not there are plenty of free moments.  Well, maybe not plenty, but there are moments.  Even if I have to squeeze in some quality time with one kid while the other kid is sleeping, which is usually the case (my youngest gets up one to two hours before my other daughter so that's her mommy and me time, and then she naps three hours later and my oldest daughter has her mommy and me time), it works.

For me, quality time is sitting down and doing some puzzles or crafts, reading some books, playing with toys, colouring, you name it.  As long as my daughter (or daughters) are together and enjoying each other's company, and communicating, that's real quality.

Now, finding quality time for myself... that's a whole other situation and one that I have yet to conquer.  Mind you I still manage to squeeze in some hours of me time, late in the evening.  And even though I sacrifice sleep to do so, it's still quality me time.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

P: Perpetual Patience

When it comes to parenting, if there's one thing you need, above all else... it's patience.  Money is nice.  Love is good and definitely important.  But patience is the greatest key.

It doesn't matter how old your little angel is, there are going to be plenty of moments when they test your patience.  They're going to spill things.  They're going to talk back to you.  They're going to fight and argue with their siblings.  They are going to push your buttons!

Patience isn't that easy to come by at times like these, nor is it that easy to hold onto, but if you manage to grasp that slippery sucker in your shaky fingers, hold on tight because you're going to need it!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

O: Outstanding, Outrageous, and Original

My first daughter was an amazing baby!  I wish I'd realized at the time how easy I had it.  She slept pretty much through the night from three months onward.  We never knew she was teething until she popped out a few more pearly whites.  She was always happy, she rarely cried, and there were rarely issues with her health.

My second daughter however, made me realize how easy I had it with my first.  At just over a year she still doesn't sleep that well through the night.  It's as though she's constantly cranky and in pain from teething.  She also is fairly happy but she cries A LOT.  She doesn't like to share, and she gobbles up food like she's starving, hasn't been fed for days and is afraid of when her next meal will be.  Not to mention, we had issues with reflux and my poor little darling used to cry in pain every time she pooped, no matter how many different variations of prunes we shoved down her gullet.

It's hard sometimes not to compare our kids, but we have to remember that they are outstanding, outrageous and original.  They are perfection just as they are.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

N: Novice Notions

All those months of pregnancy All those hours of labour, even if it was a short labour . All that waiting, waiting until the day you’d finally be able to look your beautiful bundle of joy right in the eyes and tell them you love them. It all felt like forever, but it‘s finally here. But what now?  Be prepared because the next few months are going to be emotional, exhausting, and wonderful all rolled into one.

Between adjusting to the newest addition (or additions for mommies with twins, triplets, or more), attempting to find at least some semblance of a schedule, and learning all the ins and outs of mommy hood, the first three months are the hardest.

My first bit of advice for new mommies is do what feels right for you. There are going to be plenty of people with plenty of opinions, listen, and then take what you want from it. Just because your mom says she started feeding you solids at three months doesn’t mean you have to do the same with your baby. Your baby will let you know when he/she is ready. Try not to be in a rush because once your baby is at that stage, it’s like they’re no longer your little baby anymore, they’re an independent little being.

One of the nurses at the hospital told me to wake my baby up every two hours to feed her. I was later told NOT to do this. I agree with the second piece of advice. You don’t have to wake your baby up.  When they’re hungry, they’ll let you know. Listen to your inner knowing of mommydom, listen to what your baby is telling you, and between the two of you, you’ll be able to figure it out. And before you know it, you and your babe will be in complete harmony, you’ll almost forget how it could have been any other way.

There are going to be times when your baby cries and you don’t know what they need, take a deep breath, walk away for a moment if you have to, and recollect yourself. If you have friends and family nearby, call them in to help you out. If they’re not nearby, call them even just to talk. Once calm, run through your own little checklist. Clean diaper? Sleepy? Hungry? Needs to burp? Teething? If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work, try a cuddle.

In my first few weeks as a first time mom, I remember these moments. I remember holding my daughter and crying along with her, and why not? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I also remember looking back at videos we’d taken, at least a year later, and being able to tell what she’d needed. “Ohhh, she was cranky because she needed to burp. Why didn’t I know that?”

Whatever you do, cut yourself some slack. Remember that you’re new at this and you’re not expected to get it right, right away. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t get the house cleaned today, or if you managed to fit in bath time for your little bubs. It doesn’t matter if you changed your clothes or did your hair. All that matters is that you and your little darling made it through another day, all in one piece.

Calling all authors!  Have you written a book?  Have you been published or decided to self-publish?  Come promote your book with a blog hop.  Check out the details herePlease help spread the word.  The more people we get involved, the more possible readers you could collect.

Monday, 15 April 2013

M: Mommy Moments

Transitioning into mommyhood isn't gradual, it's instant.  Knowing what to do isn't necessarily natural, it's learned.  BUT, times when everything seems to be running smoothly, everything seems easy and in sync, moments when everything slows down and you are able to relax, breathe in, and enjoy... these are mommy moments.

They pop up all the time, you just have to be open and aware.  Maybe after you've finished feeding your darling babe, or maybe even during the feeding, the sense of welcomed calm flowing between the two of you, the joy of being able to admire every last inch of the perfect being you are taking care of, the sweetness of looking into those innocent eyes and them looking back into yours... this is a mommy moment.

Finished cleaning up after lunch you have a moment to sit down with your kids, to interact and play, watching them become fully engrossed in their task at hand, their endearing imagination running wild, their sweet little voice singing to their own tune, their pure contentment of being in the moment... this is a mommy moment.

Done with supper, done with the bath, it's just before bedtime, wrestling around with them on the floor, extracting oodles and oodles of contagious giggles, allowing the most intense emotions of love and reverence and gratitude to well up inside of you, taking you over and forming the biggest smile on your face... this is a mommy moment.

Mommy moments are some of the most beautiful and wondrous parts of being a parent (don't be fooled by the name, there can be daddy moments too), and I think if we could focus on creating more of these, our relationships with our kids would be stronger, parents and children would be happier, and the world would be a better place.

I would love to hear all about some of the most enjoyed moments you've shared with your kids.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

L: Life-changing Love

Love is beautiful and wondrous and powerful, but there are so many different kinds of love.  The love you have for your parent, is different from the love you have for your partner, and different still from the love you have for your own child.

I may have had my fair share of fleeting romances, silly teen crushes, moments of thinking 'he's the one', but in all my life, I've never experienced anything more amazing, more uplifting, than the love I have for my kids.

Having children is life-changing, to say the least, and even through all the hard parts, the love you have for the amazing being that you helped create never falters.  You don't stop loving them just because you're frustrated.  You don't stop loving them just because you're having a bad day.  You never stop loving them, because you can't.

I realize this isn't true for all circumstances, some parents give their children up for adoption (although who's to say they stopped loving their child), some parents disown their children (my mother would be one of those, and although she sent back every single picture she had of me, everything I'd ever given her, including pictures of my own adorable babies, and although she hasn't spoken to me in over two years, who's to say she doesn't still have love in her heart?  Albeit, a very different kind of love than I have for my kids, but love is still love.) and some parents are absent altogether for one reason or another.

But for most parents, the love you have for your children is unconditional, all-consuming, and empowering, it's the best feeling in the world!

Friday, 12 April 2013

K: Keen Kids

It never ceases to amaze me how intelligent children are.  They deserve way more credit than they're given.  Their ability to soak up knowledge is incredible.  It really makes you realize that you have to be careful of what you say around your kids.

Day after day, it seems my daughter is always learning something new.  Some things that she rambles on about I remember having told her about just that day or the day before, but some things just come out of the blue, leaving me to wonder where she picked them up?  A TV show?  A passing conversation?

I feel so lucky to be able to watch my children grow and observe, learn and absorb.  Everything in life is at their fingertips and I wholeheartedly believe in their ability to achieve anything they put their minds to.  Quite often I find myself wishing I could look at the world with such love and innocence.  That I could absorb new information in the blink of an eye.  That I could look at each new experience with awe and amazement.  But then I think to myself... well what's stopping me?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

J: Jubilant Jumpers

There are so many lessons we can learn from our kids.  Being able to just sit quietly and observe, you will see that they have so much joy, so much wonder, so much love.  How did we lose all this along the way?

It's beautiful and amazing to watch them amuse themselves with the simplest piece of tape, or string, or a cardboard box.  It really makes you realize how ridiculously out of hand consumerism has become, when we, as parents think to ourselves, "I have to get this for my kid for Christmas, this is what they want."  Some parents spend ridiculous amounts of money on far too many toys (I myself am guilty of such behaviour), when really, I'm sure kids would be just as happy without all of the nonsense.  The only reason they grow to expect it is because that's how we've conditioned them.

But watching them run around, jump for joy, sing and dance, it is so easy to see that they have more happiness than all the money and fancy dancy toys in the world could buy.  For the joy that comes from a toy has an expiration date, but the joy that comes from within is everlasting. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I: Irresistable Innocence

I love the way kids look at the world, with beautiful curious innocence.  They explore everything because they just want to know more.  They want to learn how things work, they want to observe cause and effect, they want to see what they can create.

So when they knock over your full glass of water, soaking your papers filled with all your brilliant writing ideas, or when they throw their food all over the floor, creating a sticky mucky mess, or when they throw your watch in the toilet, it's hard to blame them, knowing that such actions came from a place of genuine innocence.  They weren't being vindictive, they just really wanted to know what would happen if they touched the glass, tossed their food, and dumped your shiny jewellery in that big curious bowl filled with water in the bathroom.

Sure, it's easy to get frustrated, stressed, overwhelmed.  But sometimes, even in the middle of a lecture, when you stop and look into those darling little eyes, wide-opened, imploring you to see things from their perspective and breathe in the world with sincere interest, something stops you.  And you think to yourself, how could you possibly get mad at such irresistible innocence?

Just a note... check out my very first guest blog here.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

H: Happy Home

What does it really take to create a happy home for your kids?  A loving relationship?  Lots of money?  A happy mama?  Well of course all of these things certainly help but they're not requirements (except maybe a happy mama).  What it all boils down to is patience, tactics for dealing with stress, and belief.

It doesn't matter how wonderful your kids are, how helpful your partner is, or how much free time you manage to finagle out of the day, there are going to be moments of broken sanity.  What you do in those moments will be what dictates the mood for the rest of the day, perhaps even longer.

One of the greatest tips I can give (although I find it hard to follow myself at times) is... forgive yourself.  Forgive yourself when you lose your cool.  Forgive yourself when you forget something.  Forgive yourself when you do something wrong.  You're not that hard on your kids, why should you be so hard on yourself?

I know it's difficult, especially when you are unable to contain the frustration bubbling inside, but one of the most beautiful things about children is that they don't hold onto things.  You might yell, you might get angry, but afterwards you apologize, it's forgotten, and your little darlings are back to being happy, so now it's your turn.

Smile even when you're angry.  I know it makes me sound like I should be put in an institute, you know the ones with the straight jackets and padded rooms, but... even if it's fake, it will help you pick up your mood, or at least help you stop yourself in your tracks and prevent the escalation of anger or the downward spiral of a broken-hearted funk.

So... Just keep smiling, Just keep smiling, Just keep smiling, smiling, smiling (and if you're feeling really rebellious, let out a little giggle even!)

Monday, 8 April 2013

G: Glorious Giggles

I have yet to find a sound that I appreciate more than the sound of a child's laughter.  The only person who could possibly remain unaffected by the glorious music of innocent giggles, would have to be a robot. 

And one of the absolute best parts about finding yourself lucky enough to be in the presence of such a golden sound, is that you can't help but crack a smile yourself.  In fact those glorious giggles are so contagious, it's almost guaranteed that within seconds you'll be struck with a case of full-blown laughter yourself.

Just a reminder for all published (including self-published authors), come check out the promote your book blog hop here

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The exciting, fantastic, terrifying road of self-publishing

Having found myself more seriously considering self-publishing as of late, I've taken a great interest in other self-published authors. Some seem to have had great success and great experiences and I'm so excited for them.

Even non-fiction authors choose to go the self-publishing route, and today I'd like to share a well-written, easy to read, comprehensible book,  LOA for the Real World: 7 Big Fat Clues to Getting What You Want By Jeannette Maw. 

Cover for 'LOA for the Real World: 7 Big Fat Clues to Getting What You Want'

Did you seek agent representation before self publishing?  Or do you have an agent now?
Nope and nope.  Skipped that altogether.
I LOVE the confidence.  I wish I'd started out of the gate thinking to myself, who needs an agent anyways, it would have saved me from a lot of heartache.
What made you decide to self publish?
It was easier, technology made it possible, there were fewer obstacles to achieve it, and also that it was more profitable.  The only downside was the perceived lesser credibility with a self-published book, but the pros vastly outweighed the cons.  Plus, so many of my colleagues were doing it, it seemed sort of silly not to.
I think self-publishing is starting to lose its bad reputation.  As long as great writers continue to publish great books, self-publishing won't be something to be ashamed about.
I've noticed you have a collection of other books, were these self-published as well, even the hard copies?
Actually, I don't have any hard copies available - everything I've published is digital.  I had a virtual assistant format one of my first books for hard copy publishing, but I preferred to keep everything digital for the time being
Oppsie, shame on me for just browsing through instead of really reading, I thought she had a set of books in hard copy.

For me it seems like a bit of a daunting task, did you have any difficulties? Or was it easier than one would think?
Ridiculously easy!  In fact, that might be one of the downsides - it's so easy to do that one might not go through all the helpful steps of professional editing and formatting.  And I think that's pretty important to do even (or especially) with a self-published book.
This makes me feel like I'm one step closer to taking the plunge.  If it's really not that hard, why not?
Have you done anything to promote your book?
I used to use Google ads, and had good success with those.  But once I started growing blog traffic and building my subscription list, I let the ads lapse and rely on my own marketing efforts (blog publishing, newsletter distribution, occasional social media mentions and interviews) to create new sales.
Would you take on an agent if they offered representation now, or is it something that even interests you?
I'd consider it, but it certainly isn't something I'm interested in actively pursuing. 
At this point, I'm beginning to think maybe finding an agent shouldn't be so high on a writer's priority list...
What was your first manuscript?
The Magic of Pray Rain Journaling.
How long did it take you to write it?
From conception to finished manuscript - probably several weeks if I recall correctly.   I had the idea after leaving the Oprah show (she invited me to participate in her law of attraction special episode) when a couple of people asked me in the limousine on the way back to the airport to explain what pray rain journaling was.  I found myself wishing I could point them to a good book to read about it. On the plane I was still thinking about it, and had the thought, "there should be a book about this." And then it occurred to me - I should write it!  I jotted down an outline on a napkin on the spot and started writing once I got home.  :)
She was on Oprah!?!
Did you have it professionally edited? 
No, but I probably should have
Did you have any critique partners?  If so, how many?
None.  I was concerned that external input would alter the vision I had for it.  I really wanted this to be MY book, not a group or community effort.  I rely heavily on my personal inspiration for creating new projects, and wanted to stay true to that as much as possible. 
I guess this is much different when it comes to non-fiction.
This seems like a bit of a funny question to ask considering your book revolves around positive thinking and the law of attraction, but... if you could change the way things have gone with your writing career, is there anything you would change?
I'd change two things: 1) engage a professional editor (ha!) and 2) engage more self-confidence earlier on so I could find and trust my true voice.   It took me a while to grow into it - actually, I think I'm still in that process.  I wish I would have trusted myself sooner than I have.  :).
I think this is a problem all writers face.  We definitely need to trust ourselves more!  Our work may never be perfect, but you can't please everyone and at some point it's got to be at least good enough.

The law of attraction is a mind-blowing concept, teaching us that we are capable of controlling our own lives and creating anything and everything that we want.  The idea was really drawn into the spotlight by 'The Secret', but there are many, many other sources of information out there.  It certainly requires opening your mind to something new, but it's a wonderfully, uplifting, inspirational process I would recommend to anyone.  LOA for the Real World: 7 Big Fat Clues to Getting What You Want is a great beginning for easing into such a concept.  I truly enjoyed Jeannette Maw's book and I hope you'll take a look.  Wishing a wonderful soul a successful career.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

F: Fidgety Fingers

One of the greatest joys of having little ones around... their unpredictable fidgety fingers.  Sometimes I wonder that perhaps I keep too close an eye on my kids, but... so far I haven't lost anything in the toilet or garbage can (at least not permanently, although there is always the possibility that something went in that I didn't catch), nothing overly important has been broken, and when I'm missing something it's generally because I put it someplace so safe and out of reach that I can't even see it.

But the disaster prevention is harder to stop when you are out and about.  Shopping is one of the greatest challenges, especially when you are adorned with an overwhelmingly lengthy list of need-now items.  You turn your head for one second, just one second, to grab some chocolate chips and before you know it there are five boxes of cake mix on the floor in the aisle and you've got one guilty looking two year old looking at you with her 'oopsie doopsie' face.

Cleaning up after disaster number one, you quickly leave the aisle, thanking your lucky stars you managed to escape without drawing any extra attention to yourself.  Then, thinking this time you'll be smarter, you keep one eye on your darling little devil while grabbing a jug of orange juice, but with only one eye on the orange juice you almost drop the whole damn jug in the aisle, nearly creating an even bigger mess than your clever little monkey probably could have.  So you take a deep breath, shake your head, snapping yourself back into your 'it's okay' space, and walk away from the silliness.

Great, just one more thing on your list and you've nearly made it through the store all in one piece.  You've got both kids in tow, you're still in tact, and you haven't forgotten a single thing.  You breeze through the aisle, swipe the loaf of bread you always buy, like a pro in a super shopping competition, and you're on your way to the checkout.

But... while unloading your cart, you happen to notice SEVERAL items that you did not strategically place in the cart.  Double checking the inventory with the list in your hands, you have received confirmation that you are not losing your mind.  Once again you look to those two darling yet mischievous smiles looking back at you, convinced that their giggles are uproarious on the inside.  Sure you hate a mess but are you going to go all the way back through the store just to place those items back in their homes?  Uh-uh.  At least not today. 

You slyly sneak the extras into those handy dandy magazine cubbys and keep your eyes focused on your children, ignoring the accusing presumptuous glares that you're sure are hunting you down.

Happy with yourself for thinking to give your little monsters a couple of unimportant points cards from your wallet to keep those travelling fingers occupied, you breathe a sigh of relief as you walk away from the checkout, down the narrow aisle, out the doors, and towards the safety and comfort of your vehicle.  Not until you've loaded all the bags into the already crowded interior, gotten the kids buckled, and run the cart back as fast as you could so your kids wouldn't be left alone for more than ten seconds, do you notice that your sweet little angel is holding a small toy.  Releasing a sigh of defeat, you know you didn't pay for that but are you really willing to go through the whole rigmarole of unbuckling the kids, lugging one in each arm, trundling all the way back into the store, waiting in line at customer service, just to return some not-even-cute toy?  Or are you just going to shut the door, jump into the front seat, start the vehicle and pretend you didn't notice?  You could always return it tomorrow...

Calling all writers/authors.  Come check out the promote your book blog hop.  Details are here.   Please grab a button from the sidebar and help spread the word.  The more people we get involved, the more exposure you will get for yourself.

Friday, 5 April 2013

E: Excruciatingly Exhausting

Going through labour was tiring enough.  You'd think you've earned a break.  But alas, life can be cruel sometimes and that's not the way the world works.  Unless you have a very understanding and supportive partner or a mother who is an angel, it's going to be a challenging time ahead.

The type of mornings where you wake up asking yourself "Who needs an alarm clock anymore?" lay in wait.  For when you have the high-pitched shriek of a baby waking you up every couple of hours, sometimes every hour and sometimes even keeping you up for a midnight party, you'll realize that the droning buzz of your alarm clock waking you up before you're ready has become the least of your worries.

The good news is, baby's sleep in the daytime (although things change of course when there are multiples involved).  Sleep when your baby sleeps and don't worry about the housework!  If you do, before you know it you'll be hearing the sweet sounds of your stirring baby, wondering where all the time went and you'll regret not stealing that nap.

Now, one would think when you have your second, you'd be more prepared for sleepless nights.  But once again, unless you have a partner with innards made of gold (or mechanical parts) you'll be in for some even longer nights and days.  Eventually the exhaustion settles into a routine though and your body accepts the limited hours of sleep it receives.  Although there is no guarantee you'll be functioning at your most efficient, and there will probably be times when you're so tired you could just break down and cry, just remember...this too shall pass.

A personal story of one tired mama

After 56 hours of labour and a few more days in the hospital, I was finally able to return home.  Ecstatic to be in my own comfort zone, away from the glare of the hospital lights, the hustle and bustle of prodding nurses, and the ever-steady flow of traffic, sleep was not the farthest thing from my mind, but it ranked way down on the list of things to do.

A few days later, once the initial chaos had subsided, I was granted a moment to rest my heavy head.  Now I don't know if it was the result of not sleeping for nearly a week or the residual effects of all the medication  I'd sworn I wouldn't take, but when I awoke, I awoke without all my senses intact.

Feeling frazzled and disoriented, too tired to lift my heavy head, I lifted my eyes only, looked at my boyfriend and asked: "Did we just come home from the hospital?"

The look he shot me was warranted but worrisome, and if I hadn't felt so confused it might have even been amusing. 

"Baby you're scaring me," he replied.

"Okay," I said, feeling a little annoyed that he hadn't actually answered my question.  "But did we just come home from the hospital?" I demanded.

This time I could see the terror in his eyes before he even spoke.  "Baby, you're scaring me," he returned.

"Okay," I shot back, now downright irritated that my question wasn't being answered.  Hell-bent and determined on getting some answers, I asked yet again.  "Can you please just answer me.  Did we just get home from the hospital?"  I tried once more.

"Yeess" he answered hesitantly.

"Oh" I replied, my anger completely appeased and my stupid curiosity jumping in to replace it.

"Why were we there?" I asked.

That's right.  Not only had I somehow forgotten we'd been at the hospital, but the fog that was surrounding me was so thick I couldn't figure out why we'd been there.

"Uh, we had a baby!" he answered, the full sense of 'Duh!' seeping through his voice, showing in his exclaiming head shake.

Although my initial reaction was a slight annoyance at the fact that he'd said 'we' had a baby, considering when you're talking about labour and childbirth, it's kind of a one woman job.  Nonetheless, I shook it off and continued on my search for answers.

"Oh" I replied again, and without thinking asked: "Where is it?"

That's right.  I didn't know if I'd had a boy or a girl!  My mind was still so fuzzy, left somewhere between the land of dreams and the land of awakening, being held hostage by my exhaustion.  Now in all fairness, my daughter's tiny body was hidden by the arm of the couch, if it hadn't been for that perhaps the whole absurd conversation would have never taken place.

At this point, rather than answering me, although I'm sure he threw a few more 'you're really scaring me's' at me, he lifted his arm and showed me our daughter.

The disconcerting fog loosened it's grip on me and darted away, leaving me to chuckle at the silliness of it all as my memories came whooshing back to me.

The moral of my story: Never underestimate the power of exhaustion.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

D: Disastrous Diapers

It's funny how grossed out we are by baby poop, at least in the very beginning.  But eventually we become diaper changing experts and become almost obsessed with our baby's bowel movements.  What colour is it?  Why is it that colour?  What does that mean?  Is it hard or soft?  How many times did he/she poop today?  Oh no!  My baby hasn't pooped!

The more accustomed we become to the little presents awaiting us in our little sweeties' diapers, the more able we become to find the humour in it all.  I'm sure every parent out there has their fair share of poopy stories.  If not yet, don't worry, your time will come.

I can still remember my poopy days...

I had just finished getting everything set up and ready for my daughter's bath.  The towel was resting dutifully on the towel rack.  The soap and shampoo were in position.  The water was waiting to snuggle her little body.  The only thing left to do was take off that dreaded diaper.  Big mistake.

The pooping started, without any sounding fart warnings even.

Now most parents are familiar with the stages of baby poop: black sticky tar, mustardy seedy yellow, greens, oranges, browns, and sometimes even rainbow coloured and lumpy.  Well this one was green and slimy.  When it started, my boyfriend caught some of it in his hand.  With these pre-warning rumblings, he tried holding her over the bathroom sink for the rest of it.  But this poop had a mind of its own.  It was an explosion.  It went all over the bathroom wall behind the sink.  Was it gross?  Yes.  Was it easy to clean up?  Fairly.  Will it ever be forgotten?  Nope.

Then there were the days when my darling baby girl would be playing in her exersaucer, bouncing and giggling with joy, only stopping to do her business.  When I would check her.  Somehow.  Every.  Single.  Time.  The poop had crawled out of her diaper, all the way up her back and sometimes even onto her shirt.  There were more than plenty of these incidents.

And now I may not have had boys, but between leaky diapers and my youngest daughter who peed nearly every time I took her diaper off, I've had my fair share of being peed on too.

We've all got 'em, and I'd love to hear your disastrous diaper stories.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

C: Chubby Cherubs

I love chubby babies!  There is nothing sweeter than chubby little cheeks puffing out as your little one smiles up at you, an adorable dimple poking through her soft skin.  Those rolls and folds that line her arms and legs are adorably delicious.  And that big, round, protruding belly makes you want to smother your baby with kisses.

I love how perfect babies are!  It doesn't matter if they're big, small, skinny, chubby, black, white, blonde, dark-haired, or red-headed, we look at their adorably tiny little faces and bodies and see nothing but perfection, innocence, and love.  If only we could look at all people the way we look at babies.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

B: Bottle or Breast

Ahh, the age old dispute.  Do I breastfeed or do I bottle-feed?

There are advantages to both.  However, it seems that women who choose to forego breastfeeding occasionally have to deal with some flack, and those who choose to forego bottle-feeding occasionally have to deal with some embarrassment and discomfort.

Knowing all the health benefits of breast milk, I was all for it.  However, when I was pregnant with my first daughter, I have to admit I was kind of grossed out by the idea of someone sucking on my boob.  Of course I realized our breasts were created with the sole purpose of providing nourishment for our young, but it still seemed odd to me.  However, once my darling daughter entered this world, it just felt natural.  Knowing that I was providing my sweetheart with one of life's necessities... nourishment, it just felt right.  And the closeness you feel between you and your little one is certainly an added bonus.

Bottle-feeding has it's advantages too.  It takes less time (except when it comes to heating it up, breast milk is always ready to go and it's always the perfect temperature).  You never have to worry about having enough.  (There's always more at the store).  Sore nipples are not a concern.  And those awkward, uncomfortable predicaments of breastfeeding in public and accidentally flashing someone a sneak peek of your boob, are of no concern since you already have a bottle with you for just in case purposes.

With my first daughter I both breastfed and bottle-fed her.  This allowed her Dad to partake in some of the feedings and made the transition from breast to bottle much easier.

My second daughter was breastfed only which meant the sole responsibility of feeding fell on my shoulders.  And introducing a bottle most certainly wasn't as easy as 1-2-3.  As for my boobs... they took a beating, and it was more than a little painful in the beginning, but they healed.  Although... they're no longer perky or bouncy, and they will never be the same again, but that doesn't matter because now that I have kids, I live for them, not me.

At the end of the day, each parent has to make their choice based on what feels right for them and not on the opinions of others.  They should never have to feel embarrassed, guilty, or uncomfortable.  Sure breastmilk is the healthiest thing for a baby, but formulas nowadays are so close to the real thing, I'm sure they're just as good.  As long as you do what feels right for you, and your babies are fed and content, it shouldn't matter what mode of transportation their meal reached them through.

Monday, 1 April 2013

A: Anticipate Accidents

No matter how hard we try to fight it, the hard truth is that kids are going to get hurt.  What's even harder to swallow is, sometimes there's nothing we can do about it, sometimes it just can't be prevented.

Some people go to great lengths and take great care when it comes to childproofing their house, and there are certain measures that I fully agree with: out let covers, locks on cupboards with chemicals, that sort of thing.  But at the same time, rather than bubble wrap every piece of furniture, I think we'd be doing both ourselves and our children a favour by allowing them to learn some things on their own.

Of course nobody likes to see their little ones get hurt, especially when we feel like the whole thing could have been prevented.  (If only I'd moved that piece of lego, or grabbed him or her sooner, he/she wouldn't have tripped or fallen.)  But little accidents are disguised as golden opportunities for learning.  Once our little ones learn that if they run on wet floor they just might slip, they're probably less likely to do it again, (of course sometimes it does take repetition before a lesson is learned).

And although it's terribly upsetting to see some big horrible boo boo on our perfect little angels, most of the time it's soon forgotten.  It happens.  Our little one cries about it.  And then they let it go.  I think we could stand to learn something from our darling little fearless adventurers... Perhaps, after we've administered as many hugs and kisses as needed, we should do the same and just let it go?

I've also been told that A is for Arlee Bird, the one who created this wonderful challenge.  So big shout out to him, thanks so much for the great idea and the opportunity to connect with others.