Thursday, April 16, 2015

Learn about Blurb

If you're on the internet at all these days (you... are... on the internet right? someone isn't dictating this blog post to you verbally?) you know about Blurb. It's a service that prints photo books, and many other things. So today, let's learn a little more about Blurb.

I think the founding story is adorable, a total fluke. Blurb was started in the early 2000s when Eileen Gittins ( the founder) started getting really into photography. She wanted to make her photos into a nice coffee table photo book but she only wanted to print a handful of copies. The conundrum was that every publisher was quoting her hundreds of dollars for each book! She found this curious – and frustrating. So she asked herself, are there other people like me who want to affordably create their own high-quality book from their photos? The answer, of course, was yes, and it changed her life – and book publishing – forever. In 2006, Eileen launched Blurb, a simple book-designing (and publishing) site that could quickly produce beautifully made books at game-changing price.

Everyone from award-winning photographers, to couples wanting to commemorate the birth of their child started using Blurb – and still do. Even after almost a decade, people are still blown away by Blurb’s user-friendliness, quality, and affordability. People trust Blurb to create every kind of book imaginable, including: CookbooksPhoto booksYearbooks, EbooksMagazines, and more.

And little known fact alert!! You can also write and publish your own book. They actually have sales pages designed to make your book (it can be for the public or just invitation only), post a description and preview page, and then market it with social media. Don't tell anyone just yet but I totally plan on doing this.It's all compatible with Amazon and Apple iBooks Store so authors would have even more options for how they sell their books.

So that's my little "blurb", haha. Oh! And I almost forgot to mention that now through 4/28 you can get 20% off any book you create! If you make one, tell me about it!

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

14 month // 44 month update

If I do the math, apparently I’m sixteen days late on this update – my mistake! On the actual day Dakota turned 14 months we were just returning from our family vacation in Cuba, and ever since my brain has been in space cadet mode. That being said, here is my kiddo-update. (All photos from Cuba haha)


The kids and I did a massive haul of clothes we don’t wear. We filled a Rubbermaid tote, like the big ‘put your Christmas decorations in it’ kind. I have a system with the kids… If Oliver’s clothes are too small, I throw them in a small bin in Dakota’s closet for her to try when she’s the right size. If it’s way masculine, or I just don’t see Dakota ever wearing it, I put it in a box to give away. When Dakota’s clothes get too small, I put them in the give away box too. Recently I posted on Facebook that I had clothes, toys, etc. to give away and I had tons of people interested. I was able to give away seven giant bags of things. But, sometimes I have no patience for making plans to get things to a friend who wants them and in that case we hop in the car and go straight to Value Village. Lucky enough the guy offered to lift the tote for me, and even returned it to my car after emptying it. While we were shopping inside we found some shorts, t-shirts and flip flops for Ollie, a shirt, some high-waisted jean shorts and a pair of green skinny jeans (just like her brother’s) for Kota, and a number of shirts for me. It was really fun. Then Oliver begged me to bring this Transformer toy home. He had no batteries and seemed innocent enough so I agreed. Later we took a trip to Home Depot and bought Ollie the right batteries. We pushed them in and WHOA this guy came to life. Apparently (according to what the toy screamed at us) he is a transformer robot named Stinky who turns into a garbage can. He loves eating other cars so he’ll scream FEED ME and open his mouth and Ollie can put cars inside, then they roll out the back of him like a garbage truck door. He’s so funny. Ollie says he is Stinky’s dad and he actually takes really good care of him. If we’re out and about and I want to get going back home, I’ll be like, Ollie we need to get home to feed Stinky, and he’ll say Okay no problem. Oliver is currently in some 3T and some 4T clothes, and size 10 shoes are very tight on him. Dakota is anywhere from 12 – 24 months and size 4 shoes I think. They both got new fedoras and sunglasses for Cuba – so cute!


Dakota had a short stretch of being kind of a picky or distracted eater, but she’s back to being a super-eater in full force. She has no problem finishing an adult portion, in record time. Girl, loves, food. Oliver on the other hand, has huge trouble staying focused. I don’t know if I’ve seen him eat more than three consecutive bites ever. They both love bacon and doughnuts, of course. Oliver hates beans (Dakota loves them). They both drink a ton of water. Kota still nurses quite a bit.


Another area that they are really different in. I forget if I’ve mentioned on the blog before that Dakota did a 180 in sleeping recently. Cal and I came home from seeing a movie at the theatre, our babysitter had Dakota in her crib asleep (she never used to go in there, ever), so Cal and I went to bed. We awoke the next morning at 8am stunned. She has slept 12 hours in her crib, without a fuss, every night since! (Okay there may have been 2 times in there were she cried a little during the night but nothing major.) 

Oliver…. Couldn’t be further from this. He is content to stay awake hanging with the adults until near midnight every night. If we put him to bed he leaves. Short of a physical brawl, we cannot keep him in bed. Then, if he finally falls asleep, be-it in his own bed or somewhere else and we transfer him, guaranteed by morning he will be back in our room. We typically don’t even hear or realize when he slips into our room during the night. For a while he was trying to sleep in our bed but we cut that out, so now he’ll walk to our room in the middle of the night with his own blanket and pillow and he’ll camp out on our floor. It’s so weird. Can’t understand it. But hey, at least we have the bed to ourselves and everyone’s happy. He sleeps until about 6:15am every morning. Then he helps me get ready for work and we watch cartoons together while we eat breakfast. It’s pretty hard to say goodbye to him that early because he’ll usually put up a fuss about it, asking me to stay home with him.

Child Care

We’ve been really blessed to be able to basically both work full time (I work around 60-70 hours every 2 weeks) and never need day care. Both our moms have been awesome for watching the kids at least once a week. We also had a dedicated babysitter until recently. (If you know anyone who needs some cash we have a few Tuesday morning/ Wednesday morning slots that we could use a sitter for!) It’s great that our schedules just seem to work out, save for once every  4 – 8 weeks when we both work the same weekend, then we have to do some fancy work to figure it out.


Lately we’ve been loving:

-          Playing trucks in the kinetic sand
-          Painting (including Easter eggs)
-          Bath party with ALL the toys
-          Walks around the neighbourhood / to the park / to the nature trail / to the river
-          Riding our bicycles/tricycles
-          Shopping
-          Eating pickles
-          Watching Big Hero 6 and Toy Story 1, 2, 3
-          Makeup party
-          Taking care of dolls
-          Petting dogs
-          Checking the mail, like it’s the greatest adventure we’ve ever been on

The kids have been super fun over the past while (and always). I love our little family of four and he stuff we get up to. As they get older it just gets more fun!

Why a Duggar named her baby Israel

I am so excited to share, today, the wisdom and passion of my beautiful friend Michelle Katz-Sigulum. She was the first person I reached out to when I heard about the new Duggar-Dillard baby being named Israel (I thought: is this name good? right? offensive? incredible?) and just as she always does, she exceeded my expectations and gave me an answer full of both research and love! Enjoy her take on the name, Israel, below:

As many of you may be aware, Jill Duggar and husband Derick Dillard welcomed a beautiful 9 lbs., 10 oz. boy into the world, naming him Israel David.
Upon the baby announcement making headlines, I had a couple of friends ask me what I thought about the name the Dillards chose. People wondered what this meant? Was there any significance to them choosing the name Israel? And one of the most baffling things on many people’s mind was, why was Derick wearing an IDF (Israel Defense Force) t-shirt in the first family photo?!
Here’s a little background on me:
Jill Duggar-Dillard, and husband, Derick Dillard,
 hold their new baby, Israel David.
Courtesy of People Magazine
Six years ago I was an IDF soldier; and two years ago I married an Israeli. Today, I’m living in my hometown, London, Ontario. In fact, many people are surprised to find out that I do not have Israeli citizenship yet! I was born in London, Ontario to a “Jewish-Christian” family, (Yes, that really is a thing!) There are many terms, ie. Jewish believer, Messianic Jew etc., but I will use Jewish Christians because I think it is the one people can identify with most.
 Last summer I was in Israel for my sister’s wedding during a time of extreme political turmoil. But really, what else is new? This small little country has been under attack since its reestablishment in 1948. During my time there, I was in and out of bomb shelters, and every sound (whether it be an ambulance, a motorcycle or wind) masked as a Red Alert Siren, paranoing me to a point of insanity.
Yet, I didn’t want to leave this place. Crazy, isn’t it?
As I hesitantly got on the plane to return to Toronto, I asked God, “Why do I have to return home? I love Israel so much…” In my heart I felt him piquantly respond, “Because you love Israel, you need to return home to Canada.”
So how is this all connected to Jill Duggar naming her baby Israel? Let me tell you.

As everyone knows, the Duggars, and now the new growing Dillard family, are Bible-believing Christians. The word Israel is mentioned in the Bible approximately 2575 times. The Old Testament accounts for 39 of the 66 books in the Bible. Yet, currently many churches in North America centre on the New Testament and do not take time to elucidate how or why Israel fits into the picture. In fact, among millennials there has been a new movement of erosion of Christian support for Israel. But I like to believe that in many cases, the lack of knowledge about Israel occurs because many pastors have not personally been taught about the significance of Israel (and we can not fault them for this). I have also had many discussions with close Christian friends who have even apologized about their ignorance surrounding this topic. There's no need to apologize, I am humbled by people's honestly and willingness to learn and I love sharing the message the Lord has put on my heart! I have witnessed many friends’ relationship with God and personal faith flourish upon gaining an understanding of Gods heart through Israel.
That is where I come into the picture.
It has come to my attention that many Christians want to know about the significance of Israel and understanding this “mystery”. While Christians read their Bible, they see Israel mentioned from Genesis to Revelation, but they may have unknowingly bought into Replacement Theology. The more I talk with people, the more I realize this theology has crept into the corners of the Church even without anyone being aware that such a thing exists! Replacement Theology is the idea that the Church has replaced Israel, meaning that all of the promises God made to Israel (and the Jewish people) are now completely abolished and annulled.
“The younger generation has grown up disconnected from Israel because 'standing with Israel' has become a political statement rather than a spiritual attitude" (The PR rep of FIRM).
Candidly, God has significant Biblically based plans for Israel and for the Church. Since the time that God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he planned to keep his word and fulfill all that he intended and promised. Remember, Jesus came to fulfill, not to abolish: “"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). God uses Israel to reveal his character to us, to each and every believer. There is significance and interwoven connection between Israel and the Church. “Israel is God’s timepiece, the Church is his masterpiece” (Howard Katz).
If you are a Christian, the very fact that Israel exists as a nation today, verifies that your God, the God of Israel, is tangible and upholds his covenants forever. Outside of God, nothing can explain why Jewish people still exist today. When was the last time you met an Amorite or a Hittite? When they lost their country, they lost their identity and were assimilated. Can you think of any other nation having lost their homeland and managed to regain it? For nearly 2000 years the Jews had no homeland and were repeatedly dispersed and persecuted, yet Jews have continued to maintain their identity. If God had finished with Jewish people, they would have gone the way of the Amorites and Hittites, and disappeared. But God wasn’t finished with the Jewish people, and not because of their faithfulness, but because of this: “"Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign LORD: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations” (Ezekiel 36:22). God takes his covenants seriously and his gifts and callings are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). The very fact that Israel exists shows that God is fulfilling all that he has promised in her.
We are living in prophetically fulfilled times. For 2000, the people of Israel were scattered and dispersed, but the time came in 1948 when God answered Isaiah’s question, “Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?” (Isaiah 66:8) The eyes of the world have been on Israel and Jerusalem since that time. Ezekiel 36-37 speaks about the restoration of Israel, and Jeremiah 31 speaks about the certainty that both Israel and the Jewish people will continue to exist.
Ezekiel 37 verse 21-28
God says, “Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel….They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell their forever…I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
So I’m sure the question plaguing many of you is, if the Jews rejected Jesus then didn’t he reject them? (A key argument often used to support Replacement Theology). Let us look at scripture to get the answer for this one.
Romans 11:1-2 & 8
I ask then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.  As it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”
Romans 11:11 So I ask then, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
Romans 11:25&28-31 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. …they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, they too have been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. God has never and will never forsake His people.”
Paul specifically addresses this question in Romans. God loved the whole world so much that he purposely allowed a partial hardening to come upon Israel so that salvation could spread around the world and thus, allow every human being the opportunity to know Jesus personally. But we find all throughout scriptures, God is not done with Israel yet. He has many more plans to fulfill in her. 

He “will never leave us nor forsake us.” Until we grasp the relevance of God’s relationship with Israel, we will miss an important dimension of God’s character. His heart for us is revealed through his dealings with Israel. God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to Israel shows us God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to each Believer personally.
Zechariah 12:2-3 speaks about Jerusalem being a cup of trembling, a burdensome stone. For the last 2000, Jerusalem has been a rather insignificant city. Now, Israel is a country that is blossoming in a hostile Middle East, yet the world is demonizing this minuscule state. The UN has more condemnations against Israel than another other country. How is this possible when we see what’s happening in Iraq with ISIS, Syria’s use of chemical warfare on their own people, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?
So let us return to the discussion of Jill and Derick naming their baby Israel; I was asked if the Duggars naming their baby Israel was offensive, and here is my answer:
I deem that naming their son Israel is prophetic. How? Because we are living in times when the Biblical prophecy about the whole world turning against Israel is coming to pass. Anti-Semitism is rapidly spreading in Europe, just 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz—“never again?” As the world is turning its back on Israel, the Christians will be the ones who will stand up and say,“ I believe in the scriptures, I believe in the promises of God; I believe in the covenants God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and I stand with Israel.” That is what I found so profound about the baby announcement. Not only did they choose to name their baby Israel, but also that Derick was wearing an IDF t-shirt in their first family photo. Upon seeing this all I could think was, these people are taking a stand, they are saying we support and believe in the prophetic promises and fulfilment that this slight but momentous country represents. It is time to share with the church about the significance of this small little country, a country that is about the size of Vancouver Island! This small country, making national headlines, that is scarcely detectable on a world map. Yet,  it is enormously visible and precious in the sight of God.
There is a significance and interwoven connection between Israel and Christians. I hope that by having the Dillards name their baby Israel, the world, and specifically Christians, will come to discover and comprehend God’s heart and calling for Christians in regards to Israel and in regards to each and every believer personally.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A day in life: Cuban vacation

One of the most common posts I see on blogs today is "a day in the life". Now, granted most of the blogs I follow are either from mommy-bloggers or healthy living bloggers.. but honestly, some of these things are a yawn!

But here's a REAL yawn for ya... our daily schedule while we were in Cuba for vacation. And I don't mean yawn like boring, yawn like HOW RELAXING. It was glorious. Without further ado, a day in the life: Cuban vacation.

5:30am: My dad and his best friend, Brian, wake up to an alarm and walk to the beach together with all 10 towels in hand. They choose their favourite 10 lounge chairs in the sand and then go back to bed. (This was vital: if you waited even til 7am all of them would be gone... 2,000 people at one resort, what can ya do!)

Between 7-8:00am: Oliver and I wake up. Sometimes Dakota too. We get dressed, grab a room key, sippy cup and all-natural sanitizer, and kiss Daddy goodbye. Sometimes we go see if other early-risers in our party are up, other times we head out alone. We find a big table at the breakfast buffet and fill our plates. I get a mug of hot, black coffee (mmmm), the kids get water (or this weird lactose-free milk), the we choose our favourite things from the buffet which were typically a fresh-to-order omelet, sweet potato croquettes, bacon (if it was crispy enough for us), smokey chickpeas, fresh smoothies from just-juiced fruits, hashbrowns, chocolate pastries, sauteed green peppers and onions (for the eggs), whole grain toast with butter, and all sorts of cheese. Over time the rest of our group of 12 show up (heck sometimes they even beat us) and then we all leisurely eat and enjoy each other's company/ discuss who has a hang over (just kidding, only ONE hang over was had all trip!)

We leave the restaurant and watch whatever entertainment is out that day -- Disney characters, live bands, all-male acapella singing groups, still statues that come to life to scare people, etc.

We all go to our own rooms and change into bathing suits, put on sunscreen, grab sunglasses, sand toys, etc. and meet at the beach.

9:30am - 1:00pm: We do not leave the beach. Most of us swim the entire time. We'll take a break to rent a kayak or have staff take us out on the hobi-cat boat for half an hour. We'll snorkel and watch schools of fish, or even find a star fish and become beach celebrities. We'll "tan"... under a cabana because the sun is too hot. We'll venture over to the bar for a pina colada or white russian. At exactly 10am Dakota will fall asleep on someone's lap. Around 10:30 or 11am other groups will start heading to the volleyball area and some of us (not me!) will engage in a few heated games. Ollie collects sea shells and meets new friends by saying "Hey I'm Ollie from London Can I Play With You" all one word. People will ohh-and-ahh at Dakota. We'll remember that swim diapers don't really keep the pee in. We'll rinse off in the ocean water. And then we'll find out if there's a pig roast on today.

1:00pm: If there's a pig roast on we'll head over and load up on delicious pork and black-bean-rice. If not, we'll find a large table at the ocean-side restaurant and fill up at their buffet. My favourite items were pasta with bechemel sauce (to share with the kids), roasted eggplant, stuffed peppers, battered fish (oh my life, I'll never forget how yummy!), paella with oysters, and a big scoop of coconut ice cream to finish.

Everyone under 30 heads over to the pool and camps out for the afternoon. Calvin rinses the sand off Dakota and then brings her up to our room for her afternoon nap. He chills in there the whole time to give himself much needed out-of-the-heat time. Sarah and I laugh at people making fools of themselves at the swim up bar. I attempt to drink a hot coffee from a small, flimsy plastic cup.

4:30pm: We realize it's probably time to get out of our bathing suits. We round up the crew and make sure everyone knows where to meet for dinner. If it's a night we have a reservation we try to dress fancier, if we're just eating at the dinner buffet we don't. We hang out bathing suits out to try. We shower or soak in the jacuzzi tub.

6:00pm: We eat dinner, often in 3-5 courses. At dinner we discuss our evening plans. Activities ranged from tennis to rock concerts to sun-set beach time to movie night. Unless we all want to do the same thing (i.e. Michael Jackson concert), one group will volunteer to stay in the room from 8:30pm on so the kids can sleep.

8:30pm: We get the kids into pj's, brush teeth, kissed heads. Dakota goes in her crib in a separate room. Oliver gets the movie "Big Hero 6" on his laptop in his cot bed beside ours. He crashes within 5 minutes, because he's had a busy day. If it's a stay-in night, we fire up a movie like Interstellar. If we're going out we might go dancing or have drinks at the lobby bar. I never fall asleep after 10pm.

And then we start again!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Life Lesson: Don't stress a guess

Yesterday I learned a great life lesson and I thought I'd share.

I don't usually text and drive. No, I never text and drive. I'm that person that aggressively tells the driver to drop their phone if they pick it up and begin reading. Very, very anti-drive-texting. But for some reason when I heard my phone buzz beside me on the passenger seat I really thought I should read it.

I was driving home from work (45 minutes from St. Thomas to North London) and it's not uncommon for Cal to write something like "Hey pick up diapers on the way home" or "We're out of honey" or "The kids and I are still at my parents' house, meet us here instead". So when I came to a stop at a red light that I know always takes forever I quickly scanned what it said.

"You're so not gunna want to come home." From Calvin Harrison.

What kind of a text is that?! 

Instantly my heart was racing and my mind was going a mile a minute. I'm so not gunna want to come home? To my own house and my own family, after having been gone for work since 6:45am? What possible reason could there be?

Unfortunately, due to my stance on drive-texting, I didn't choose to engage in a conversation. I put the phone down, looked back up at the red light and let myself drift into a state of utter panic.

My first ten thoughts (and I assure you, there were thousands) were as follows:
1. I've done something really terrible and he's telling me an argument is coming.
2. One of our children is hurt and when I find out I'm going to be heartbroken.
3. He has been in a car accident and either the car is really destroyed, or he is.
4. There's been a fire.
5. Oliver has some how injured Dakota and he doesn't know what to do about it.
6. He's forgotten to pick up groceries and we have to eat popcorn and green tea for dinner.
7. Another flat tire.
8. Our builder has tried to pave our drive way and something got really messed up.
9. We got mail that delivered really bad news like a huge hike in prices of some sort.
10. Job loss.

No matter how much I rationalized, all that could get me home in one piece was deep breathing. I literally braced myself for what horror would meet me at home. As I parked the car in the drive way I scanned our other car for issues (none) and even checked the house for fire damage. I quickly pulled up my Facebook messages to see if there were any clues there. Nothing. 

Then suddenly I remembered something I'd said to Cal earlier in the week.

He had been sitting watching TV and noticed a huge line across the screen.

"Oh my gosh, Oliver must have scratched the tv screen. This SUCKS." He said, and he started brainstorming how he could fix or replace the tv. Just like mine, his brain was racing. He was visibly stressed out. 

I calmly asked, "Did you check if it's actually a scratch, or is that just your best guess?"
"Well, I didn't actually..." He started.
"Don't stress a guess." I told him.

Within a few seconds I'd grabbed some screen cleaner and a cloth and started wiping the tv down. Luckily, the big mark was just dark crayon (Life tip: If you ever want to fake a tv scratch, dark crayon looks PERFECT.). It came off clean and Cal was relieved.

It just doesn't make sense to waste your time, effort, energy, emotions, hormones, on something that isn't even confirmed. He didn't even know if it was truly a scratch and already he was allowing himself to feel the panic as though it surely was.

And I walked into the house, that day, unsure what his text could have meant, but remembering that all of the possibilities that were freaking me out were just GUESSES. That's all they were. And I couldn't stress a guess.

I unlocked the door, dropped my coat and bag, and slipped my shoes off. Looking down the hall I called out to Cal: "Why am I not gunna want to come home?" 

What had I done wrong? What had gone wrong? Who was hurt? What would cost us money?

He appeared around the corner and laughed,
"Oh remember all that laundry you folded? Oliver totally messed some of it up. I thought that would tick you off. Ha ha."

Imagine that, I'd spent 25 minutes of my drive deep breathing myself out of an anxiety attack over 4 shirts that I'd need to refold....

Don't stress a guess!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

13 months // 43 month update

You know what the hardest thing is about these updates? Knowing what I've already written about in the last one! I'd really hate to have like 20 of these in a row that say: So, Oliver is super into making inventions right now..

I'll do my best.

As I probably mentioned in the last update, we held a birthday party for Dakota. For her birthday we bought her some new clothes, a bike helmet so that we can go for bike rides (Ollie won't likely fit in my front baby seat this summer, plus he has his own bike to ride) and a new kid-sized couch. The couch has been amazing for movie nights... it unfolds into a bed which fits both kids side by side, so we can put on a Disney move and cuddle them up together. They love it.

One day while my mom was watching the kids, Dakota had a dirty diaper that went pretty rogue. Like, she destroyed every item of her outfit. My mom stripped her down, threw the clothes in the wash, gave her a bath and then did what any sensible grandma would do: she found an old outfit of Oliver's that she used to keep as a backup and put Dakota in it. So here she is in some clothes meant for a 2 year old boy.

Dakota was so precious at church last weekend, she kept singing along and raising her hands. I had to snap a sneaky photo of it!

Oliver is working through a list of "Kindergarden readiness" items that I collected. Before September I'd like him to be able to write his name, recognize his name written out by someone else and be able to spell it outloud. I'd like him to be able to write, recognize and list more letters and numbers. I'd like him to be able to fully get dressed without asking for help, and we need to buy him some velco-closed shoes since all of his are shoelaced. I'd like him to be able to use the bathroom totally unassisted (he can for "pees" but...) and open packages, like granola bars, by himself. I'd like him to feel more comfortable sharing, and listening to instructions, and being okay with it when plans change from what he was expecting. And other things like cutting in a straight line, tracing dotted lines in different patterns, counting objects in front of him, and sorting patterns. Some of this he's already really good at... like this activity we did about sorting jelly bean colours. I wasn't sure if he'd get it right away but lo and behold...
 "What, Mommy? This 'posa be hard?"  You can also see the fishing game we worked on, which was a series of x's and o's with paperclips that he would fish up with a magnet on a string. O's are points and X's are GAME OVER. Every point gets a jelly bean. That's how he earned them, then I made him sort them.

Oliver has been doing incredible in his skating/hockey class. At his age they only offer Parent and Tot lessons, so I (or Cal, or a grandpa) need to be on the ice with him, but he's totally independent and can skate on his own... now. That wasn't the case at first.

We are considering putting him in Timbits next year. Or doing another year of skating lessons. There's a floor hockey program that runs through spring but unfortunately Cal and I are both reluctant to commit to it since it's every Saturday and we both rotate weekends at work.

And lastly, here is our family motto for the month:

Saturday, February 28, 2015

12 reasons why I love A&W -- I'm serious!

I bet you never thought I'd spend a whole post blabbing on about why I love fast food! Well I had you fooled.

I am obsessed with A&W. Everything I learn about them makes me love them more. I'm not a fast food eater, but a few months ago Calvin and I stopped in with the kids halfway through an intense day of shopping and errands. I was smitten from the first moment. They have so many incredible policies that are helping save the planet! Here is just a short list of things that are making me fall in love with them:

  • 1.       Their eggs are sourced through an “Energy and Environmental Awareness Program” that encourages waste-reduction, solar panel use, Bullfrog power, tree planting and preserving land for wildlife!
  • 2.       Their tomatoes are sourced by a similar program that reduces energy consumption by 35% (using special screens that preserve heat), uses rain collection for water needs, utilizes natural pollination and pest management (ladybugs and bees!) and grows in greenhouses to promote land conservation.
  • 3.       Their sweet potato fries are sourced from a farmer who is the first frozen food company to earn LEED Platinum certification, which means it’s a super green building.
  • 4.       The onions they use contribute to a clean energy plan that converts the onion waste (after cutting) into renewable electricity.
  • 5.       They use almost all reusable serveware – if you eat inside any A&W restaurant they’ll serve you on ceramic plates, on a metal tray, with a glass mug and stainless steel cutlery. This choices saves 266,000 lbs of waste from ending up in a landfill, annually. It tastes and looks better too. And don’t get me started on the adorable baskets that the fries and onion rings come in.
  • 6.       If you do take your order to go, the packaging is 70% recycled content and any of the materials made of paper (even waxed) is compostable (that’s why you don’t see any foil bags anymore).
  • 7.       The coffee they serve, which also comes in a reusable mug, is 100% organic but still a reasonable price. And it tastes great.
  • 8.       Recently they did an energy audit on one restaurant in Alberta and figured out a number of way that they’re accidentally using more energy than is needed, so this year they’re rolling out all new energy saving tricks to all 790 A&W’s in Canada. Already, their fryers are high-efficiency and use less oil and half the energy of other fryers.
  • 9.       The paper materials they use (like for coupons and other promos) comes from an eco-friendly supplier in BC that re-purposes sawmill wood chips into paper products. They are entirely carbon neutral. This process also saves water.
  • 10.   They also save water by running a better refrigeration system than other fast food restaurants and by installing eco-friendly dishwashers that use way less chemicals as well. It saves 4 million litres of water annually.
  • 11.   They’re currently implementing national systems to have customers sort their waste (i.e. seperating organics) so that only 10% of “waste” will actually go to the landfill.
  • 12.   They also keep their restaurants incredibly clean without using harsh chemicals. Their staff are totally on the ball with keeping the restaurant tidy, and can I just say: their staff are quite awesome at their jobs. I’ve never seen anyone there without a smile! I don’t know who choses the music but I’ve heard some really good playlists going when I’ve stopped in for lunch.