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