Sunday 27 December 2009

Lots of deep breaths and a few leaps

2010 is not going to be a year of resolutions for me. (I've never been a fan of resolutions anyway, so not having them is really not that much different for me!). This coming year.... which, by the way, is TWO THOUSAND AND TEN for those of you not paying attention. How did we get to 2010?! Is that not supposed to be some far-off futuristic year?! I remember thinking how OLD I was going to be when the millennium started anew. How far off that seemed.... And now, here we are ten years PAST that! Holy crap! I'm married to an amazing man who drives me nuts and challenges me, we are the keepers and shapers of two (awesome) kids. We have a house (ok, the bank has a house... they're just letting us live here) and both Jean-Paul and I are about to embark.... Oh. Getting ahead of myself here....

So, where was I? Ah yes.... This coming year is going to be a year of goals. Not resolutions. Go back and forth for a moment on those two words. Goals. Resolutions. Goals. Resolutions. Resolutions. Goals. I think there is a powerful difference. Resolutions are generally things you want to stop doing - or possibly things you want to start doing to offset negative things. They are also generally general. Lose weight. Eat healthier. Go to (join) the gym. Get in shape. Stop smoking. Quit eating mounds of junk, blah diddy-blah. (If those are some of your resolutions, great. They are something to strive for, but how about looking at them as goals instead? Specific, measurable goals.)

Goals are places you want to get to, not places you're trying to get away from. Goals are something to achieve, not something to give up. Yes, you need resolve to reach your goals, but they are not resolutions. Goals have steps so you can see how far you've come. (At least the goals you mean to reach should!)

So, back to our 2010 (and again I say "?!") goals. Jean-Paul is looking at being a *deep breath* self-employed franchisee of the DJ company he works for. This is an exciting *leap* opportunity. It means many positive changes are on the way. It should mean a doubling or tripling in income. It means more *deep breath* expenses, too, but that's part of the price of *leap* freedom.

Now... MY *deep breath* goal this year? Since being laid off in September I've been doing a lot of soul searching. As much as I loved the job that I had, I know there's something else I should be doing. Part of the reason I loved my last job was the freedom and flexibility it allowed me with my family. (I also loved the free company van, laptop and BlackBerry... but I digress). I looked deep inside and really thought about what I love to do. What do I spend my spare moments doing? What is it that I have to tear myself away from at 1 or 2am and go to bed? I love making books. Digitally. The comments I have gotten on the books I have made so far have been extremely positive. I want to do this for other people. I can do this for other people. I *leap* will do this for other people. And they will pay me well to do it!

So... I've signed up for a Photoshop course to refresh myself on the software. I'm going to be taking a small business course/workshop for 10 weeks. I'll also be doing an InDesign workshop. I lined up at 4:45am yesterday to get a great boxing day deal on a new desktop computer for my *deep breath* new venture. (And by the way, I have the "boxing day mayhem" figured out. If you need tips, let me know!)

My biggest concern at the moment is being able to use the name I want to use for my *deep breath* *leap* new business.

I aim to have a few more books done, a website up and running, some idea on how to price my work and, oh ya, my business name - with signs - all ready to go for April's MeFest here in Waterloo. I was in MeFest the last two years (and honestly was a little embarrassed by the company I was representing - not my job, but a side business). This year is totally different! This year I will be ME at MeFest!! It will be MY business. My confidence level about this new venture is so incredibly high no one can bring me down.

And I've decided this is my theme song this year. (My love for Glee shall be fodder for another post).

I LOVE this song!!

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Zach has Daddy's sense of humour

Alexandria, Zachary and I were walking in the mall when we were about to walk under something hanging (high) overhead.

From just behind me Alex shouted, "DUCK!"

Zach, trailing slightly behind, nonchalantly responded, "Quack."

Monday 21 December 2009

Disney damage?

Oh, Disney.... What are you doing to little girls? How is my daughter to grow up to be self-confident, self-assured and INDEPENDENT watching your movies? Don't get me wrong. I love the Disney movies. Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin.... They are all wonderful movies with great music.... but.... the message.... Oh. The MESSAGE!!

I took Baby Girl to see Disney on Ice: Princess Classics yesterday. She is now 5. Very impressionable and trying to figure out how she - and everything else - fits into this world. It's a black and white world right now. As we were sitting there thoroughly enjoying the show, I'd have these little jags of worry about what Alexandria was actually absorbing. As princess after princess got herself into an awful predicament, prince after prince was there to save her! What would those poor princesses do without their knights in shining armour?! No one else around them could possibly help them. And heaven forbid they have their own strength, courage and intelligence! How would they ever go on without a man to protect them, lead them, RESCUE THEM?! And, of course, most of their goals were to somehow find a price to live happily ever after after.

Now before you get all over me about positive role models in Disney, I know there are some. Belle does a fairly good job. Sally, the female lead in Cars, is a good example. She's the town lawyer. She's doing fine on her own. She's not looking for someone to come and save her. She doesn't fawn all over Lightning McQueen, in fact he has to pursue her a bit.

What prompted this post? Being hit over the head again and again and again with the message that a girl needs a strong man to come a take over so that things will be ok. Princess Classics was a microcosm of female weakness and dependence - dressed up in pretty, frilly, flowing gowns.

Now, reading this you will likely assume I didn't like Disney on Ice: Princess Classics. On the contrary. I absolutely loved the show. They did a great job with costumes, effects, timing, music, sound. The set was amazing. Alex loved how the castles changed. It was a wonderful experience. Alexandria and I both intensely enjoyed ourselves. And we had cotton candy and popcorn for lunch . Good mommy? Bad mommy? Depends on your perspective, I guess.  :)

Alexandria even commented how wonderful our seats were (we were seated in the second highest row). "Mommy, I can see everything from up here!"

These little twinges of concern surfaced only once in a while and made me wonder about the bigger picture. How much of this really sinks in? When my 5-year-old is trying to make sense of this world she inhabits, what is being burned into her brain? How much of that message is being subliminally reinforced every time she sees the princess being saved? I don't know. What I do know is my husband and I make a conscious, concerted effort to make sure BOTH our kids know they have the power within themselves to do whatever they want to do, like whatever they want to like, and be whatever they want to be.

I was very pleased when, on the way home, our subway had a shift change and a new driver came on board. Our new subway train operator was woman. And it was noticed by our daughter. I added, "See? You do anything you want to do."

Thursday 17 December 2009


Alex doing her best "picture" smile. We were able to coax Zach onto Santa's lap. I was crouched right next to the boy with my reassuring hand on him. Santa gave Zach his jingle bells to hold and that made it better long enough to get a keepsake picture.   :)

Sunday 13 December 2009

I love this age :)

Tonight Alexandria and Zachary saw Santa again. It's the third time Alex has talked to Santa this year and I was wondering if she'd start to question why Santa seems to have a very bad memory about what her name is and what she wants for Christmas. She hasn't seemed to worry about that yet!

Tonight we were at the KW Little Theatre Christmas party (it's the company that's putting up Jean-Paul's musical this July). One of the gentlemen had brought his Santa suit, which he donned for the kids. (Our two and one 3 1/2 week old baby girl).

Alexandria talked to Santa for a bit and was all smiles. The best part was when she was talking to him about how on TV she watched about how he grew up and how he used to not have his beard and stuff. And how he used to have red hair. Sooooo cute! She was referring to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". It's the 1970 special done in the same kind of animation as 1964's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I LOVE that she thinks she was talking to the same guy that was in the special we were watching. :)

Have I mentioned having kids is pretty cool?

Friday 11 December 2009

On the first night of Chanukah...

We pulled out the menorah that Alexandria and I painted at The Art Studios last year. We made some paper candles and the kids decorated them today. Tonight we talked about Chanukah, the menorah, The Festival of Lights and what it all means. We talked about how Alexander the Great was a friend to the Jews, but the dude after him, Antiochus, was definitely not. We talked about Judah the Maccabee, the temple and the significance of the eight candles on the menorah. I came up with a pretty good off-the-top-of-my-head Junior Kindergarten analogy for the Jews being forced to give up their beliefs, I think.

So, we "lit" the shamash (middle candle of the menorah) and the first candle. Ok.. we taped the paper candles on.

Then the kids got their first little Chanukah present. Alexandria got a balloon pump and Zachary got a balloon kit - both from the dollar store. So, of course the pump didn't work. I blew up the balloons and I STILL feel sick. Note to self: Never, ever buy anything from the dollar store that may require going anywhere near my mouth again!

I searched for an appropriate video about Hanukkah for the kids and came up with this:

Tonight, though, I found this one. Sesame Street explains Chanukah. I'll show them this one tomorrow.

Sunday 6 December 2009

Best. response. ever.

I just got the best response from Alexandria.

I said, "Please stay in this room."

Her reply was, "But I have wild adventures to explore!"

Thursday 3 December 2009

Waxing philosophical to ... Aerosmith?

You know you're in a mushy, emotional state when you hear an Aeorsmith song and go, "totally, dude. Totally."

Dream On came on the radio and the lyrics just clicked with me today.

"Every time I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer"

This is so true. I absolutely still see myself visually, in my head, as younger than I am and thinner than I am. When I look in the mirror, honestly, I shock myself. Almost every day. Sad, I know.

"All these lines on my face getting clearer." Holy shit, are they ever! I... have.... wrinkles!

If I could go back to my 20-something self I would say, "Self." "Yes, older self." "Please, please, dear younger self, moisturize and cleanse regularly. You'll thank me, um, you, when you're 30-something-or-other."

Now that I'm staring 40 in the face (ok, not staring so much as squinting at 40 from off in the distance, but it's there... I can see it) things are starting to droop, drop, creak, crack, go nuh-uh, expand, proliferate, pop up, and grow where?! And while we're on the topic, Mother Nature, why in the name of all things fuzzy does my body need to be covered in more hair as I age? Where is it going? Is it trying to escape? Is it taking over? Was there a coup?

I have not yet waved the white flag to signal my defeat to they grey hairs, but I now acknowledge I am losing that battle. Badly. Now I'm going to be colouring my hair not so much for the sake of a new colour, but for the sake of having colour. Ok. It's not that bad, but those little wiry beasts are conspiring, staging predawn attacks and gaining a lot of ground.

"Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good lord will take you away"

I TRY to live in the moment. I TRY to enjoy life, as it is, today. I KNOW it could all end in the blink of an eye (thank you Aerosmith for reminding me). It's so hard not to look behind.... or look ahead, but to live in the moment and not worry about what the future holds.

It's weird. I used to always have some big life event to look forward to. When you're little, it's always the next birthday or going to then next grade. Then it's going to high school, getting a driver's license, graduating, going away to college. Then maybe it's meeting a boy, falling in love, getting married. Then there's still looking ahead to someday getting pregnant, having babies. It feels like I've run out of the "good" and "momentous" things to look forward to. Now all the things revolve around someone else's life. My kids' birthdays. Their moving on to the next grade, graduating, etc, etc.... I'm not trying to say this in a negative way. I'm simply feeling a bit strange. There's no big "good" life event on the horizon for me anymore. Been there. Done that. Got the extra pounds still to prove it.

It's a weird shift. I love my life. I love my kids. It's just a different view on this side of the hill. Not sure when I "peaked", but here we go! I'd lay down and barrel roll down with you, kids, but I'm afraid I might break a hip!

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Holy sweet mother of smurfs!

What an evening!! One. thing. after. another. and. it. didn't. stop!

So, everything was fine until Jean-Paul left for work. Alex saw some new craft stuff and I said, "we'll do that soon, please don't open it yet." I finished unloading the dishwasher and saw her put the craft container (of foam shapes) back on the counter. She said, "that crack was already in it." I thought that comment was a little weird. As I was getting a couple pieces of construction paper out for them to put these foam shapes on, Zach grabbed another piece of paper which Alex quickly grabbed back from him and she proceeded to put it back in her hiding place. I saw that it had the new foam shapes already on it. The construction paper and new foam shapes were put away and they did not get to play with them tonight. She did not listen and then she LIED and tried to hide that she hadn't listened. She sat, sulked and tried not to cry. And now, instead of them doing something creative and requiring brain activity while I got dinner ready, the tv got put on.

Zach decided to help me with dinner instead of watching tv. Fine. Instead of getting the step stool from the family room (which I should have, but I was lazy), I let him use a Little Tikes chair. We had already said no more standing on those chairs (because he's a spaz and keeps falling off.) So, a couple issues here. 1) I'm breaking a rule we just set out (so much for clear boundaries, huh?) and 2) did I mention he's a spaz? Oh, and what are we making for dinner? French toast. With eggs. Four of them. They were cracked, put in ceramic bowl and mixed. He did a good job breaking the yolks and stirring. I stepped to the side for a moment to turn the burner on. In that blink of an eye, Zach somehow went ass over tea kettle over the BACK of the chair. He somehow went over backward, but landed flat on his chest. And what did he use to try and stop his impending free fall? THE BOWL WITH THE EGGS! I managed to stop the bowl from smashing on the floor, but not before the egg went all over Zach... the chair... and the floor. I turned the burner back off, picked him up, started wiping him down and de-clothing him. He managed to get egg on every single piece of clothing he was wearing, including his diaper! I was trying to comfort him while all this is going on, but even I draw the line at cuddling an egg-covered child. I got him stripped down, clothes rinsed off in the kitchen sink, and we went into the bathroom to wipe him down some more. Then we went into his room and got some jammies on. (Zach still crying.) He finally calms down and I plunk him back with Alex - who is still watching tv oblivious to what just went down in the next room. Now back to the kitchen to finish completely start dinner over (on my own.)

I finish dinner. One piece of French toast for Zach - he didn't like it last time, but insisted he wanted some for dinner tonight. Yup, he didn't eat it this time either. Two pieces of French toast for Alex - at least she's a fan. And three pieces for me. As I was clearing away their plates, I had asked Zach to sit still. He bounced up, hit my hand and the plate - the full plate of French toast and SYRUP - went flying. This is where "Christ!" was uttered for the second time tonight, followed by the f-bomb (under my breath, but still). The volcano erupted, I yelled at Zach to SIT. DOWN. RIGHT. THERE! Butt to floor in 0.3 seconds flat.

Just as I was about to clean this up, the doorbell rang. I opened it - damp paper towel in hand, syrup still on the floor in the living room - and exasperatedly said "Hello...'?" to which the doorbell ringer replied, "Um. Are you the homeowner....?" I have never been asked that before by a door-to-door salesdude. Did I mention I was still in my PJs at this point, with no shower? A short little conversation followed. "I'm from blah blah home security and we're..." I cut him off and said, "We're not looking into anything new right now. Thanks." With that I was alone with my two kids again.

With dinner done it was playtime in the basement. That went fine(ish) until the two offspring began fighting over a CONTAINER! I decided it was time to clean up. I mentioned it was December 1st and what were we going to start on December 1st? "The chocolate calendar!" exclaimed Alex. I said after the room was cleaned up. Quickest clean up ever. They each opened door number one and had their chocolate. At this point it's only 6pm! Too early for bath. I sent them back to the playroom. Fast forward to a half hour later. This time clean up is much more of a struggle. I finally said, "I better call Santa and tell him not to bring any new toys since you don't even want to clean up the ones you already have." I actually went and picked up the phone. Alex looked quite worried. "NO! I promise I'll take better care of my toys!!" We'll see how that promise holds tomorrow...

Then we had bath time. My arms are still wet. So's my foot....

We finally got settled, they agreed (I know!) on How the Grinch Stole Christmas as their story. We had a nice final few moments of the day with a calm, cuddly storytime. Twinkle, twinkle little star was sung. Kids were kissed and tucked into bed and the house is peaceful. They're so lucky they're cute.

(This hasn't been proofread, by the way. I'm too tired!)

Lemonade (The Movie)

I love this! This is how I'm starting to look at my situation now. I KNOW I'm heading in the right direction. I can feel it.

Lemonade Movie Trailer

Monday 30 November 2009

No, baby, I won't do that in public

Alex is growing up. Here's more proof. Tonight I was trying to get Alex and Zach excited about what I was going to open make for dinner. As I pulled out two cans from the pantry I started singing "Mini ravoli and a can of ravioli. Mini ravioli and a can of ravioli." (OK, it was more chanting and cha-cha-ing than singing.) Alexandria looked at me and said, "You won't do that in public, will you?"

Sending a birthday wish across the pond

Happy birthday Auntie Michelle! Here's the link as well.

Thursday 26 November 2009

Playing with the new camera

We got our FREE camera today :) We "purchased" this camera with our Air Miles. Special thanks to my mom and dad for continuing to use my card to collect points. Every little bit helps!!

I LOVE the colour accent feature. You choose a colour. Everything shows black and white, except the objects that are the colour you choose. The only downside is the shutter speed is slow on that feature. Hard with little kids! I must have tried at least 20 times to get a picture of Zach on his rocket. This one is the only one that really turned out!

The scanverger hunt

Alexandria decided to make a scavenger hunt for herself. She made the list - complete with check boxes. She then proceeded to find everything on her list. Her she is making and showing us her list. :)

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Thankful for cries in the night and interrupted sleep

I don't pray much. I haven't for years. I do believe in some sort of higher power, whatever that might be. I like the thought of being watched over (in a comforting way, not in a creepy-guy-in-the-bushes kind of way).

But, yesterday I prayed. I thanked God that I'm being woken up in the middle of the night by a cranky little boy. Thanked God for interrupted sleep. Thank you God for all the crap that Zach's been throwing at us lately. My heart is in my throat as I'm writing this because I can't even imagine how much this mother and father want to be woken up every hour by their baby. How gut-wrenching it is that their little boy's room is now silent. How they must wish for another tantrum. Another "NO!". Or another "MINE!". But they won't hear that anymore. They can't comfort their son in the middle of the night anymore. I don't know how you go on. I don't know how you walk out of the hospital without your child. I don't know how you walk into your home, knowing your child is never coming through that door with you again. I don't know how you "get past" something like this. I don't know how you stay strong for your other child, who is now your only child. I don't know how a marriage would survive. How?

To lose a child must be horrific. To lose a child this way is just unfathomable. I pray to God again that I never, ever come close to feeling what these parents are feeling.

Here is the link again: Mother lost grip in child's airport fall: police

Saturday 21 November 2009

From the same gene pool? Really?

How can two beings made from the same gene pool be so different? Zach and Alex may look quite a bit alike, but their personalities are quite different. It's amazing how likes and dislikes are evident, even at Zach's tender age of two and a half.

Alexandria is our little Euro pop princess. That's always been the music that moves her. I remember being in Burger King in London, England when a Euro pop tune came on. She started bopping up and down, swaying from side to side, in her stroller. (An extremely cute memory burned into my mommy files.) She likes order. She's always been able to sit and watch a show or a movie. We even took her to see Cars when she was only two and she sat through the whole movie. She'll just sit and chill out. Loves to cuddle and could do it all day. She would always listen and respect boundaries (mostly.) Oh, ya, and she's slept through the night since she was three months old!

Zachary, for lack of a better term, is our trailer park boy. His taste in music? Rock. Entertainment? Monster trucks. He's always been more energetic. Even in utero. This boy was active. He's the king of chaos. He won't sit for a whole show. He'll cuddle briefly and then bounce off your lap. Listening is not his thing. Pushing boundaries - and pushing them often - is his thing. "Don't hit your sister!" So, what does he do? Pokes her. "Don't touch your sister!" So, what does he do? Points his little pointer finger and gets within a hair of touching her. Oh, and the sleeping? Still not great at it!

I swear the sleeping thing was from the first night in the hospital. Alex slept in her own little bassinet and Zach slept on me. Wrecked him.

Alex was almost a week overdue and is our laid back babe. Zach was two weeks early and is always raring to go!

The music preferences become an issue, especially in the car.
Alex: "Turn that up! I like that song!" upon hearing Black-Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling (Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night)
Zach: "It's too loud! I don't like that song!"
Alex: "Now I can't hear it!"
Zach: "I don't wanna hear it!"

We'll either need to get them both iPods or Daddy will just play musical theatre numbers....

Thursday 19 November 2009

It's part of the reason we're put on this planet...

I firmly believe part of the reason we are here, on this planet we share with billions of others, is to make life better for at least some of its inhabitants.

If we all take just a little bit of time - it doesn't have to always be about money - we can brighten someone's day, week, life. We might even alter their entire life path. Who knows?!

I think it's important we instill this in our kids. Here are some ideas on how to involve kids in making our planet a little better.

1. Take your kids and donate to community fundraising campaigns. Each year I take $20 of my money and the kids take $2 out of their own piggy banks. It's not much, but every little bit helps. We go to the KoolFM poster boy campaign (a fundraiser for the Grand River Cancer Centre in Kitchener-Waterloo) and donate in person. It's much more impactful that way. Here is Alexandria from last year's visit.

2. Take part in any little way you can. Does your Santa Claus Parade have a food drive? Take a box or can of food for each of your kids so they can donate during the parade.

3. Throughout the year I like to buy toys when they go on super-duper sale and save them for the toy drives each Christmas. The kids and I go to the mall and donate the toys. It's hard for them to give up toys, but in doing so they are learning something that just can't be taught with words.

4. Now this one I haven't personally tried yet. You can have your kids pick one or two toys from their birthday or Christmas to donate.

5. Plan a party & ask guests, if they can, to bring a small donation (maybe $5, $10, whatever.) Go to the Plan Canada website - or look through their catalogue - and pick a goal.

Maybe it's a pig to give a family a sustainable business - $40.

How about a clean, safe, reliable water supply for a family - $50.

Did you know that a lack of a girls-only bathroom is one of the main reason adolescent girls in the developing world stop attending school? Give a girls-only latrine - $100.

Or ask everyone to donate $12 each to buy a mango tree.

Some of the gifts are matched by governments and organizational donors, so they go even further. 

6. As a party craft, why not have the kids make cards for other kids that are in the hospital? Pack up all the cards and take them to your local hospital for the staff to distribute - or mail the pack to Sick Kids. (I'm not sure about the logistics of that one, but I can't really see them turning the cards away....) Maybe expand on the idea and ask guests to bring teddy bears and books to donate to the hospitals instead of gifts.

7. There are lots of ideas on the Sick Kids website on ways that kids can get involved and help out - from organizing read-a-thons at their school to having a community bbq with proceeds going to the foundation.

8. What kid doesn't love holding their own lemonade stand? Make it a charitable event. Hold your own "Alex's Lemonade Stand" and fight childhood cancer, one cup at a time.

9. As an individual or group craft, have kids make "Spend", "Save" and "Give" banks. Learn about money while helping others. Pick a charity with your kids to donate the contents of the "Give" bank every six months or year.

10. This time of year is a great time to make a handful of holiday cards and truck yourselves on over to your local retirement home. Ask the staff which residents could really use some visitors and go around to as many as you have time for. Have your kids give the resident a card and spend a little time with them. A few moments with a child can do wonders for the soul.

Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section and go out there and let's all brighten someone's day. Even if it's just a warm smile at the right time. It's amazing what a little kindness can do.

One mom's view: Baby Einstein

Again, even though we are picky about what the kids watch, we still watch way too much tv in this house. So, here's my "expert" opinion on the Baby Einstein series.

First of all, let me just say, "Man! I wish I'd thought of this!" So simple. Just shots of everyday items and toys set to music (that is in the public domain anyway!) And the series is so successful!! This series was recommended to me before I had Alexandria and I picked up three to start - Baby Mozart, Baby Beethoven and Baby Bach. Personally, I love Baby Mozart (see a demo here.. just go to DVD and choose Baby Mozart or any others you'd like to see).

I would even watch it BEFORE she was born as I found it relaxing. We have almost every VHS/DVD in the Baby Einstein series. They come out with another one three times a year in March, July and October. (Can you tell I'm a fan?!) I still look forward to seeing what they come up with next - although I may not necessarily get every one anymore now that our youngest is two and a half.

Reasons I love this series?

It's not for the "brain boosting" aspect - although I doubt my daughter would have pointed to the bread and bakery section at the grocery store and said "wheat" at about 16 months. There was a lot of learning that went on because of these videos. Let me make a clear distinction between learning and becoming smarter. These will not make your baby smarter, but they can learn quite a bit.

Babies/toddlers/kids love repetition and familiarity. Both my kids quickly began to recognize the Baby Einstein caterpillar and opening tune. They loved it. "Cada-piwer!!" as my youngest would say whenever we would put it on. :)

I love that these videos are soothing (Baby Galileo is a favourite before bedtime), fun (Baby MacDonald is very cute) and engaging (On the Go had my daughter singing Wheels on the Bus endlessly.) AND - big plus - they move slowly. Pictures don't change in a flash - even Sesame Street is all over the place.

Many of these videos incorporate baby sign language -which is something else I love about them. (I'll have to blog about baby sign one of these days, too.)

I could go on and on about all the individual DVDs/videos because each one has a unique aspect to it and a different theme. Meet the Orchestra is another favourite. Baby Neptune is right up there, too. And on and on...

Bottom line: First of all , these are GREAT to use when you need a shower! (Or make dinner - just have a few moments to relax!) Plunk babe in the bouncy chair or exersaucer and put on one of these DVDs. You should have at least a little time to yourself! This is a great, soothing series and I highly recommend them.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Got published

Forgot to mention that Marty's tribute "A life well-lived" made it into the Goderich Signal-Star last week (November 11). Funny thing is that someone noticed to change the future tense to past tense on the last part "the funeral will be held...", but didn't change it correctly! It read "the funeral was be held..."

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Some fall fun

One mom's view: Dinosaur Train

Since my kids watch way more tv than I ever thought we would allow, I thought I'd give my take on some of the options out there. This post takes a look at Dinosaur Train.

Dinosaur Train is all kinds of cute. As the parent of a five year-old girl who has been interested in obsessed with dinosaurs for about four years now, I can offer my "expert" opinion on dinosaur-related tv (and movies and books and toys and...). Our house has been saturated in all things dino since before she was two. When we saw there was a new show - by Jim Henson's shop, no less - we were very excited!

The animation is superb (would you expect any less?) The colours are fantastic, backgrounds are bright and (as far as I know) realistic to the time periods.

Let me step back and tell you about Dinosaur Train. Mrs. Pteranodon was waiting for her four eggs to hatch when out popped THREE baby pteranodons - Don, Shiny and Tiny - and Buddy, a baby T-Rex! Even though Buddy is different, he was readily accepted into the family and is treated just as the other kids are (which I love!). Sometimes their differences really stand out, such as the time Mr. Pteranodon takes the kids fishing. But Buddy finds his own way - with the help of his Daddy. Or when the kids argue about what game to play (because what siblings don't?!) with the new friend, Petey (a peteinosaurus - also a "flyer"). The pterasaurs want to fly, but Buddy can't. They come to a wonderful compromise and excitedly tell their mom about it after. The creators have made this show a wonderfully realistic depiction of family life.

The thing I love most about the series is they are FACTUAL! Very rare in kids' dinosaur shows - or any for that matter. (Need I bring up Jurassic Park?!). They travel between the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods on the dinosaur train, which goes through the "time tunnel" when necessary. When they visit different types of dinosaurs they do so int he correct time period. Can I tell you how much I love that?! The vegetation is realistic and differs from period to period. Flowers are only around in the Cretaceous, etc.

When learning about a new dinosaur, the name is repeated throughout the 15 minute episode without being annoying. And then, after the segment with Buddy and his family, an actual, real, in-person paleontologist, Dr. Scott, comes on to talk about some more fun facts. The name of the dinosaur is repeated by a couple kids (with various levels of success) and he then goes on to talk about a characteristic of the featured dino. The ornithomimus episode, for example, talks about the dinosaur being bipedal (walking on two legs). "What other animals can you think of that are bipedal?" he asks. The kids come up with "giraffe", "humans" and they make modern day connections.

I could go on and on about all the things I love about this show, but I'll let you go - if you've even stayed with me for this long! (Thanks for sticking it out!) My kids (5 and 2 1/2 years old) love this show as much as I do. My son bounds up from his chair to dance and sing along with the theme song every time!

Bottom line:
Dinosaur Train is all kinds of awesome. 

(And their website - shown to the left - is cute and informative, too)

Check your local listings.
Here it's on PBS Mon-Fri at 9:30am & TVO at 7:00 am & 12:30pm.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

A life well-lived

A life-well lived. That’s how one would sum up Marty Baechler’s life. Martin David Baechler was a Goderich boy, the son of Betty and Con Baechler and eldest brother to Darrell, Lynda, Dale and Jeff. He attended public school in Goderich and then GDCI. Marty became interested in music at an early age and began his musical career as a member of “The Four Teens”. After four months of practicing, four local boys formed a band of their own in the late 50s. They played in Seaforth, The Goderich Pavilion, on CKNX-TV and various town functions. From a newspaper article: “The young instrumentalists have no plans for a musical career yet, but think of the group as a hobby, says Marty Baechler, unofficial “leader” of the group.” That did not prove to be true. Marty helped form “The Strato-Tones” in the early 60s and became Jimmy Finch – his stage name. The group got their big break when they were booked into the world famous Peppermint Lounge in New York City and toured the south-eastern US. After that they cut their first record, “Sneakin’ Around”. As a result, fans demanded personal appearances at clubs and on TV. They appeared numerous times on CFTO’s popular teen program ‘After Four’. The Strato-Tones stayed together for over 5 years. Marty went into the booking business for about a year and a half before the formation of the “Oriental Mod Squad”. He had his goal set on Las Vegas and he made it. In 1970, that group played Caesars Palace. Also playing in Nero’s Nook (as the “Oriental Squad”) at the same time was Thelma Houston, while acts such as The 5th Dimension played the main lounge. In August of 1970, Marty and the Oriental Mod Squad made front page news by returning to Goderich for his sister, Lynda’s wedding. Since they were coming to Goderich, they were booked into The Pizza Patio (now The Candlelight). From that Goderich Signal-Star article: “The Pizza Patio was packed for the group’s week long stay. Parking lots overflowed, tables were as scarce as diamonds in a lily pond, even elbow room at the doors was at a premium.” As Ray Allin (Lynda’s husband and Marty’s brother-in-law) remembers, “The place was packed to the rafters.” From that same article: “We feel sure you will agree it’s always nice to hear about a hometown boy making good.”

If Marty thought he’d found success in life by this point, he would come to find his success had just begun. He met Karen Palmer, also a Goderich girl, daughter of Walter Palmer and Eileen Palmer in 1972 and on August 2, 1975 she officially joined him in his journey through life. Marty’s musical accomplishments were eclipsed by his phenomenal relationship with Karen. The pair had a very successful career with the Toronto-based accessories design firm behind the "Karen Palmer" label, which began under the direction of Karen in 1984. Marty had been international vice-president of one of North America’s largest booking agencies until he joined Karen in 1987. They had great success, being featured numerous times in publications such as Women’s Wear Daily in New York, Flare and Chatelaine. You could find “Karen Palmer” accessories in Holt Renfrew and upscale fashion boutiques throughout North America.
Right until the end, Karen was by his side. She was there as he peacefully slipped out of this life on October 24, 2009.

A funeral mass will be held at St. Peter's Church in Goderich on November 7, 2009 at 11 am. Refreshments and a celebration of his life will follow in the church hall.

The family would appreciate your help to establish The Marty Baechler Memorial Scholarship at the Goderich District Collegiate Institute. Donations can be made to the Avon Maitland District School Board, 62 Chalk St. N., Seaforth, On. N0K 1W0

Put together by Jacki Yovanoff
From articles in The Goderich Signal-Star and The London Free Press

Friday 30 October 2009

Pumpkins and Dinosaurs

From a mini photoshoot at the Babytime Show today :)

Sunday 25 October 2009

The world is bit dimmer

Martin David Baechler's shining light went out at 6:30am on Saturday, October 24, 2009 and the world a bit less bright now.
Uncle Marty was my mom's oldest brother. He had many, many lives. First born son. Cool older brother (the local paper even covered it when "he came home for his little sister's wedding"!). Musician (The Strato-Tones and The Oriental Mod Squad). Talent manager. Successful businessman. Loving husband. Amazing uncle (he even wore a Chuck E Cheeses shirt for us!). Anyone who knew Marty was better for it.

Since shortly after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2001, he and his life partner, Karen, have been retired and making the most of their lives - summers spent at their condo in Oakville and wintering in Florida (where Karen's dad lives).

He was well enough to make the trip to Goderich this summer to see my brother, Jeremy wed his now-wife, Mary. It was a beautiful day.

The change from then until Thanksgiving was pretty dramatic, but I thank God he we were all together at Thanksgiving. All the cousins were there. All the aunts. All the uncles. Every single one of us was well enough to make it that day. No colds. No flus. No stomach bugs. Thank you for small blessings. Those are things that are truly important. Here is a picture of us together just two short weeks ago.
Jeremy and I went to Oakville on Thursday to help Karen put together some pictures for us all to remember Marty. We were able to see him and talk with him for a short while. Again, the change in two weeks was quite dramatic. I'm very glad we went. The last thing I said to him was, "We'll see you again before we go." Well... he was sleeping when we left, so we didn't see him again before we went. In fact, we didn't see him again. That was it.

I am happy that Marty will be at peace now. I am sad for all of us left behind.

Your light touched everyone that came in contact with you, Uncle Marty. My life was made better. Thank you for that.