Sunday, February 27

Spill It!: Bad Mommy Moments

I'm a Good Mommy. I mean, relatively speaking. I have confidence that I (usually) do the right thing. I am also evolved enough to know that sometimes doing the right thing for my daughters means putting myself or my marriage first, so when I say I'm a Good Mommy, I'm certainly no martyr.

That said, I sure have my Bad Mommy moments.

Right from the beginning, some may judge me for taking Diclectin, pre-ordering my epidural, or breastfeeding each girl for a mere 3 months. I worked up to a week before my due dates, and headed back just before my government-funded leaves ended. My husband and I get babysitters on a regular basis, whether it be for date nights, to get chores done, or to because we have schoolwork that can't wait. These decisions, though, I stand by. One might label them "bad", but I would disagree.

Other choices, however, even I can agree are clearly questionable. There are the minor slips, like when I scream ironic commands like "STOP YELLING!", or when I pretend to be asleep when Maggie wants to be tucked in (yet again!) at 3 a.m. The empty threats that if Frannie doesn't clean up her toys I will send them to a little girl somewhere who will respect them enought to put them away. When I secretly cheer that my husband's working late, because that means the girls and I can just have cheese and crackers for dinner.

There are the slightly embarrassing moments, like when my every-other-Friday kindergartener almost missed her first Friday because I forgot she was supposed to go. Have I mentioned that I teach at her school? (She did show up, thanks to a quick change of clothes and bagged lunch thrown together by her daycare provider!)

There are also the soul-searching Bad Mommy moments, like when I ponder the worthiness of spending time blogging about my parenting struggle, rather than actually spending more time with my children. Things that make you go hmmm....

"That's nothing!" you're thinking. "Get to the good stuff!" Well, here's a story for you.

In general, I have always been very relaxed about my kids' illnesses and injuries. My mind does not automatically jump to the worst-case-scenario, and I am fairly impervious to crocodile tears. Band-aids are rarely handed out at our house, and "You're fine!" is a common response to a fall or bump. That's why I didn't even flinch when 19 month old Frannie took a tumble one morning.

She was coming down the garage steps, ready to head to daycare, and was clutching a toy in each hand. Our over-exuberant yellow lab, Belle (stressing that she was over-exuberant is probably redundant for any of you who know anything about yellow labs) was so excited to see us that she ran up the stairs, did a few spins on the landing, and ran back down, brushing by Frannie in the process. Just enough to knock her off-balance, and send her face-first down the stairs. FYI - a toddler clutching toys will not drop them, even when faced with certain injury. Allowing her face to smash into the steps is oddly preferable.

She cried, I consoled. The lip bled, I dried it up. A few minutes later, we were on our way. Because Mommy's work is important, you know. What else was I supposed to do?

That evening, after dinner, we were playing in the living room and she grinned at me...and something seemed a little off about her usually full smile. (My kids started teething at three and a half months. I'm not kidding.) So I pried her lips open only to find one suspiciously empty space, and half a tooth beside it! And believe it or not, it was actually worse than it looked. The half tooth was only partially chipped, and instead looked smaller because it was shoved up into the poor baby's mouth. As for the "missing tooth"...part of it was indeed gone (never to be found) but the rest was in fragments, still behind the gum line.

After many appointments, Frannie ended up being put under anesthesia, and underwent surgery at the hospital in order for the dentist to remove all of the remaining fragments and chunks of teeth.

I still feel terrible about not opening my baby's bloody mouth to check more thoroughly for damage. And spending a good part of the evening oblivious to the fact that my daughter had LOST HER FRONT TEETH. And though the accident was not directly my fault, it still evokes working-mom guilt when I flash back to how I was busily packing up the car, wishing my independent little child would just hurry down the steps.

So, there's a Bad Mommy moment from this self-proclaimed Good Mom.

I'm willing to go out on a limb and proclaim that you are a Good Mommy, too. I don't think the bad ones spend much time visiting parenting blogs, particularly a quality blog like this. Ahem.

However, I will also think you are a boldfaced liar if you try to tell me that you don't have your Bad Mommy moments too. So spill it! It makes us all feel so much better to know that other moms make mistakes (or even make deliberate choices that others may judge!) Let's compile all of our errors and omissions, and maybe have a good laugh (or cry) as we realize that we are not alone.

Or am I...?

Winners: Scholastic and Lulu Photobooks

Congratulations to

Kady L. of Milton, ON, winner of the Klutz craft kits from Scholastic


Leah S. of Summerland, BC, winner of the Lulu Photobook

Enjoy your prizes, ladies!

Friday, February 25

Cool Toy: Glow Crazy Distance Doodler

It was just a few days before Christmas when I received a Glow Crazy Distance Doodler to review, and I have to be honest: I put it on a shelf for a few weeks, because I knew my girls did not need a new toy just then, what with the haul to come from Santa, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.

I finally pulled it out a couple of weeks ago, and was genuinely surprised by how much my kids (ages almost 3 and almost 5) absolutely love it.

The idea behind Glow Crazy is that you put the special sticky paper (the box comes with two sheets) on the wall, turn the lights off, and use the distance doodler pen (which works from up to 4 metres away) to create glow-in-the-dark designs.

I was worried it might be too advanced for them, but even Maggie figured out quickly how to press the button to activate the pen, and really it's the sort of artistic activity that kids can access at their own level. Frannie can try to write words ("I heart You" is her favourite) and make real pictures, while Maggie is happy to scribble away.

Older kids would enjoy using the provided stencils to do more detailed work.

The only complaint I have about the product is that the sheets start to peel from the walls pretty quickly (but leave no residue or damage, so that's good) so you need to use some sort of tape (I like painter's tape) to keep them in place once the stick starts to wear.

I had the brilliant idea that Frannie would like to use it on her ceiling from bed, but the sheets don't have enough stick power for that much gravity on their own.

The best part about this toy as far as I'm concerned? It satisfies my daughters' desire for artistic, creative play while being MESS-FREE! I will confess that sometimes I divert them when they're requesting Play-Doh or paint, as I just don't want to deal with the clean-up. No cleaning up required with Glow Crazy.

It may be too late for Christmas, but Glow Crazy might be a neat idea for any upcoming birthdays, or Easter...or perhaps as a March Break distraction! (Yes, it's almost here!)

Saturday, February 19

Why I'll Leave the Baby-Exploiting to Teresa Strasser

Ten Reasons Why My Pregnancy and Birth Memoir
Could Never Be as Good as
"Exploiting My Baby",
by TV and Radio Personality Teresa Strasser

Exploiting My Baby: A Memoir of Pregnancy & Childbirth

1. I am so unfunny. I'd like to think I have my (few and far-between) moments, but even when I'm at the top of my game, I reach about 20% of Teresa's everyday humour. This girl is hilarious...and in a smart, witty, relatable way. (Even when you desperately want to deny that you can relate.) From her invented words (pregatory: "the three month no-man's-land during which your soul lurks between being an expectant mom and being who you were before") and the between chapters "People I Want To Punch" monologues (Bummer Ladies, Great Sleep People), Strasser had me laughing out loud the whole way through.

2. I have TMI issues. She clearly does not. Read this book to learn about Teresa's private parts and bodily functions..... because believe me, you'll never read about mine.

3. My chapter on giving up toxins in pregnancy would be much shorter and less interesting. I cut back on...wait for it...Diet Coke.  She takes ten pages to summarize her prenatal sacrifices, from Advil to Xanax and everything in between.

4. My exploitation of my children is on a much smaller scale, right here on This Mom Loves. That is, until I get my own book deal.

5. L.A. is a much more fascinating setting than rural Ontario. (Now, in all fairness, I spent many pregnant days in Toronto, where in-utero Maggie experienced a Bon Jovi concert. I also went on a fantastic family vacation in Montreal right before Frannie's birth. I do get out.) Even her neighbours (like the Asian transsexual prostitute) are much more exotic than the ones next door to me. You know, my in-laws. (Wait...maybe THAT could get me the book deal!)

6. I got the girl I was secretly hoping for...both times. I love Strasser's section on her irritation with the "Just Grateful for a Healthy Baby" people. OF COURSE you want a healthy baby! But if you could pick a healthy boy or a healthy girl, which would you really choose????

7. Her job sacrifices seem a lot cooler. She lost the opportunity to cohost the view (Elisabeth Hasselbeck got the job) and to star on Jerry Seinfeld's new reality show. Me? I lost the chance to convene the interschool Battle of the Books competition. Arguably not as devastating.

8. I couldn't offer you "The Ten Worst Moms in History" (a list which, in Strasser's opinion includes Kate Gosselin, the Octomom and Demi Moore) because I'd be afraid of offending someone. (I'm sure Kate, Nadya and Demi follow my work faithfully.)

9. On a related note, I've never, ever called anyone "the c-word". Least of all Nancy O'Dell. Read the book for the details.

10. I have a great relationship with my Mom. Honestly. Teresa has issues that, if nothing else, spur me to further bond with and appreciate my own precious daughters. Negligence, neglect, humiliation: Strasser seems to have turned out impossibly well in spite of it all. My story? Growing up I always wanted my mom's approval (which I usually had), and didn't want her guilt trips (which she occasionally gave). Explosive memoir fodder it's not.

So, maybe my book deal days are but a dream...that is, if I'm going with the 'exploiting my baby' angle. Perhaps I just need to think harder about who or what else (besides the tragically overused parentheses in this blog post) I could exploit....

If you're pregnant, you obviously need a medical reference book, and even a sweet, yay-for-the-miracle-of-birth mommy memoir sitting on your nightstand. I would argue that you also need a copy of Exploiting My Baby by Teresa Strasser. That is, until my book comes out to replace it.

Check out Teresa's website and her Exploiting My Baby blog.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own. Though I often wish I could blame someone else.

Tuesday, February 15

My Cold Confession

Okay, I'm coming out of the closet (but certainly not out of the house) as a bad mother here and admitting that I HATE going outside in the winter. Not only do I despise cold weather myself, but I resent the hassle of getting kids all bundled up just to go outside, freeze, and bring them back in to unbundle. I mean, I'll go from house to car (warming in the garage in a very non-environmentally-friendly way) and then into a mall/Church/friend's house/etc., bracing the cold only en route to a warm destination, but as easily misinterpreted as this may sound: if you're not going to be removing any clothing when you arrive, is it really worth being there?

I'm certainly no mama bear in the overprotective sense, but when it comes time to hunker down for the winter (on a full stomach, no less) I wonder if I'm hanging out with the wrong species. (Though, as a bit of trivial research for you, I found out that bears who are pregnant or have cubs under two years of age actually don't hibernate. File that piece of useless knowledge away.)

And never mind taking my own daughters outside...part of my job (my least favourite) entails outdoor yard duty. I have no issue with supervising kids...I mean, I'm probably in the wrong profession if I do...but I'd rather do every recess, every day, in Fall and Spring just to get out of going outside in the frigid in-between. My life actually changed this year when I discovered snowpants. I'm not a hugely vain person (my toques and boots would make that very clear) but I have done yard duty for the past ten years without ever once wearing a pair of snowpants. This year, my new teaching partner was showing off her cozy Costco purchase, and offered to share them with me. Fortunately we never have duty at the same time. (I did try to get a pair myself, but they were all gone.) I also broke the bank for a really, really warm North Face coat, and I have yet to succumb to a truly painful yard duty this year. Just for your amusement, this is what I look like when heading outside for 15 minutes:

Actually, outside isn't always the problem. I'm thrilled to tell you the heat in my classroom was finally fixed a few weeks ago (after one maintenance man suggested that perhaps I should just gain some weight!) so at least I can now remove my coat when I come back in from recess, instead of teaching in a parka. Oh yes, I did.

I've never been what one would call "outdoorsy", even in fair weather. I can sit by the pool and read magazines with the best of them, and I do enjoy walking with my family in the nice summer heat (though I truly prefer the treadmill for individual fitness) but camping, hiking, etc...not my strong suit.

I truly do feel guilty that my kids are losing out. I mean, I have a lot to offer in other ways (for example the expertise that comes with being a teacher) but I count on their daycare provider and Frannie's school days to get them their winter fresh air. Reading books, providing arts and crafts, and encouraging imaginative play...that's more my realm. Fortunately for my girls, their Daddy is much more inclined to be outdoors, but unless there's a particularly nice (translation: unseasonal above-freezing temperature) Saturday or Sunday it's just not going to happen for me.

If I didn't have this silly thing about wanting my children to grow up in the best country in the world, I'd be heading south faster than you can say "snowpants". (Sadly, no one can move quickly enough to get a potty-training toddler out of said snowpants...)

Thank goodness the groundhog did not see his shadow. Maybe I can rejoin the land of the living this year sooner than I thought.

Wednesday, February 9

Lulu Photobooks: Review and Giveaway

Giveaway open to Canada and US.

When I was first offered the opportunity to make a Photo Book at, I actually hesitated for a few weeks. The thing is, I have weird organizational issues. For example, I just happen to prefer all my photos printed off and arranged in chronological order in photo albums. (I know, not only obsessive, but also very 20th century.)  For that reason, I'm not much of a scrapbooker - although since I was given one when Frannie was born, I felt obligated to use it, and did a very nice job of capturing her first year, if I do say so myself. (No, Maggie, my second child, doesn't have one. But she does have a regular old baby book).

I couldn't think of a theme or occasion to inspire a Lulu Photo Book until it dawned on didn't HAVE to be about the kids! I realize all you enthusastic moms out there, clearly more devoted than I am, would use this prize to show off your little angel(s), but I decided to make it about my husband and me, and instead used photos from our New York City experience for my creative project.

It was extremely easy to get started by choosing one of their many themes (I went with "Graphite"), then uploading photos, and dragging them in to the book as desired.

(I apologize for the dark photos in this post - my flash washed out the details so I had to make do! Anyone looking for me to review a new camera??)

I love how you can change order of the pages simply by dragging, and change the page templates, deciding whether each page is best with one large horizontal, four smalls (a great way to summarize our Julia Roberts experience), two verticals, etc. There are spots for adding text as well, if you wish.

A couple of times the program shut down on me mid-project, and my contact suggested the problem could either have been that my photos were too large (I don't think so) or that I wasn't running an updated version of FlashPlayer (which is likely the culprit). My work was always saved, so it was just a matter of opening the browser window and logging in again.

My book arrived very quickly, and I was quite impressed with product. Except for the fact that I neglected to remove my red eyes in our shot with Regis and Kelly, the quality is fantastic. Mine is hardcover, which I find very classic and coffee-table-book-looking, but softcover is also available.

I would confidently recommend Lulu Photo Books.

Thanks to Lulu, I am offering one lucky This Mom Loves reader a 20 page, 8.5 x 8.5" hardcover Photo Book of your choice, which you can design and create to your own personal specifications!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment letting me know what the subject of your Lulu Photo Book would be! Your baby's first year? Your pets? Christmases past? (It can also be a neat way for momtrepreneurs to showcase their products or services - not least of which photographers.)

For additional entries, leave a separate comment letting me know that:

  • you follow This Mom Loves publicly through Google Friend Connect
  • you subscribe to This Mom Loves through email (be sure subscription is activated)
  • you follow @thismomloves on Twitter
Contest will run until 11:59 p.m. Eastern on February 24th, after which time a winner will be chosen by random number generation. Good luck!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a Lulu Photo Book in order to facilitate this review. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Monday, February 7

Winners: CSN and Cheerios

Congratulations to the latest This Mom Loves winners:

The $50 CSN card:

# 288 of 389

Kitty C. of Radcliff, Kentucky

Cheerios Prize Pack

# 3 of 94

Yuk Ching of Toronto, ON

There's still time for Canadians to enter to win Klutz Craft Kits from Scholastic (ends Feb 14th).

Coming next: photobooks and personalized jewelery! (Open to US and Canada)

Saturday, February 5

What Every Baby's Bookshelf Needs

As a mom who's also a primary teacher, I'm definitely aware of the educational advantages of reading to your children on a regular basis, and from an early age.

Whether for the literacy value or just the bonding time, we all know it's important to read to our babies and toddlers, and I wrote "10 Books For Baby's Bookshelf" for the latest issue of Peterborough, Northumberland and Lakeridge Kids to give parents some suggestions about what types and titles of books to choose.
Peterborough Kids Magazine

Some of these stories have tactile advantages, others get you singing or rhyming, and some are just classics that no baby's bookshelf should be without.

Check out the link, and let me know if there are other categories or favourite titles that I may have missed!

Wednesday, February 2

Wednesday Words

So, I've never hopped on board the Wordless Wednesday train, as "wordless" just doesn't work for me. Instead, I've decided to give it a twist.

I plan to bring you, on select Wednesdays, some valuable tidbits of the English language (or at least translations) that mean something to me, and hopefully will get you thinking as well.

You'd expect that the first time around I'd go with someone like, oh, Jesus, or at least some biblical figure, and I assure you (or warn you) they will come. Instead I'm going in a slightly different direction, and bringing you a quote I love from Tina Fey:

"I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you're just thinking 'This is impossible - oh, this is impossible.' And then you just keep going and going, and you sort of do the impossible."

I'm forcibly restraining myself from connecting, explaining, and effectively over-analyzing this sentiment and turning you off "Wednesday Words" forever. Instead, let me just wish all of you moms strength as you continue to do the impossible today.