Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or Whatever

However you say it.....its holiday Season everywhere! Snow on the ground, decorations hanging, and sales all over the place. How could you NOT be in the mood? oh right, work.....always gets ya through the holidays. Everyone is working for those dollars, which are immediately spent on the weekend for Christmas gifts, more decorations and of course FOOD!

Nothing taste sweeter over the holidays than food. Seriously. The amount of times we make the same jigs dinner throughout the year and its just never the same as at Christmas. Turkey, ham, salt beef, potatoes, carrots, turnip, cabbage, peas pudding, and stuffing (my favourite!!). This year we had such a big turkey - we had to name him. Jeff (that's what we named him) sat at just over 32lbs - probably one of the bigger turkeys we've had in a long while! It wouldn't be Christmas (or Boxing Day) without Turkey dinner for lunch and dinner; its always better the second day!

Adriana absolutely loved Christmas!! She's starting to understand the whole Santa comes with presents and we eat lots of food. She was definitely spoiled again this year. I seriously have to make room for all the toys she got plus clean out her dresser to make room for the clothes! Toys will take more time as I have to figure out which ones she doesn't need anymore - probably all of them lol I want to put a bookshelf in her room instead of the massive toy storage she has right now. The baskets are handy for things but half the unit isn't being utilized proper.
It was nice to have Kim and Tim back for Christmas! Feel the love <3
It was Loni and Chris' first Christmas with the Decker;s too

 Adriana is Grandad's sookie girl!
The boyfriend and I
Adriana all decked out in her Princess Sofia outfit with Aunt Loni
This is Jeff and he weighed over 32lbs!!

I must admit that the days leading up to Christmas day wasn't as festive as I had hoped. Saturday the boyfriend and I gave our time to hand out turkeys to the less fortunate. It was an unreal feeling to see the amount of people who were grateful for a decent size turkey for the holidays. There was no specific age or gender or size of family - we saw it all! From older people to young families who trekked out to pick up their turkey in the cold rain. For the entire day week I was very emotional. It was my first time volunteering with this turkey drive and I hope to continue helping out - even include Adriana next year or the year after.

If you haven't heard on he news about the Toronto Ice Storm December 2013 then you may not know there were hundreds of thousands of homes without power. We were one of those homes. The ice storm hit Saturday night and continued overnight - by morning there was no power. We were actually at my parents house keeping the dog company. The boyfriend had come home to let Tyson out, feed him, shower and shave. Well he made it through half of the shaving part before the power was gone. We obviously couldn't stay here with Adriana - not power means no heat! We stayed at my parents house for the night where it was warm and had lights at least. More than half of our street ended up getting power back late on Sunday night but we were not one of them. We carried on thinking it will be on my the next day - nope.

It was a hard day at work because I couldn't stop thinking about our house with no power. At this rate there was a possibility of not spending Christmas at our home. During the day, The boyfriend was back and forth between our house and his moms (she lives down the street and had power) On the way home from work, I cried. The ice was all over the tree branches which had weighed down so much they broke off. Some landed on the ground but others landed on houses, cars, or signs. It turned our beautiful neighbourhood upside down. The picture isn't even the more recent ones.....a lot more branches are down and some are still stuck on other branches. This happened 5mins after bringing Tyson inside - we turned around and watched 5 big branches fall. Scary to think if we had left him out for a few minutes longer what would happen. We are all okay - very thankful for family close by and the space to take us in on short notice. We weren't the only ones without power - Kim and Tim who at least had a real fireplace to keep warm for the night. As well as Loni and Chris who had to climb the stairs to their 19th floor apartment with their dog!

Christmas has always been about spending time with family and friends. This year more than ever we felt the true meaning of Christmas. Family was around and very grateful to share that time. We don't see each other every day so the few days we did have (and didn't have to work) was very nice. We shared drinks, ate food, snuggled to watch movies and just relax. I thought of those who still didn't have power on Christmas day and my heart definitely went out to them. Not everyone is as lucky as we are to have family around. Despite the damage, the spoiled food or the lack of heat - it was a beautiful Christmas. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mental Health and Meditation

Do you ever have days weeks where you just feel drained? Lately, I am finding myself overwhelmed and tired. I can't seem to fight off this throat infection, which I initially thought was a cold or flu. I am hanging on with everything I have; trying not to let it get the best of me. It seems to be one thing after another. Keeping focused on the positive things is difficult but thank goodness for the holiday season to give me a boost of spirit.
Do I dare throughout the word again? The word that I have been able to overcome for a few years now. Something that had taken a toll on my overall life and I had refused to let it happen again.  That word most people push off as "all in the head" - anxiety.
Its more than most people think. You really don't know what its like until you've walked in those shoes. I was naïve about this condition (that's exactly what it is!) until I started to get symptoms in 2009. I was diagnosed with Situational Anxiety that was deemed to be work related. During my journey of tests, I also found out I have a minor heart condition (irregular heart beat) which only makes anxiety worse for me. I was never to the point of shaking, or beads of sweat but rather a more painful route.
You know the term "You're getting on my nerves" it was literally that. I was in constant pain in my arms (mostly hands) and had visited a hand specialist. I suffered from severe tension headaches which I had CT Scan done to ensure it wasn't anything more seriously. My joints ached mostly in my back and hands.
Anxiety is a mood. When it becomes a mental disorder, that is, characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about everyday things that is disproportionate to the actual source of worry, it is diagnosed as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
I have been able to keep my anxiety at bay with some simple techniques which include writing. Releasing the thoughts onto paper is an amazing way to release a portion of anxiety. Introduce yourself to other outlets and see what works best for you. I fell in love with meditation around this time as well. I would sit for a few (3-5) minutes at first and several times a day. I gradually increased the time and lessen the frequency to twice a day at 30mins each. Meditation is a great way to calm your thoughts and focus on the good energy. Follow this with a few simple yoga poses and you are on your way to self-bliss.
I need to regain my focus.
I am continuing my writings on a daily basis - some published and some not. I have veered away aimlessly from my meditation and yoga. I am a believer in the strength meditation has on someone living with anxiety but sometimes life sidetracks you. It happens and thats alright.
I bring myself back to when I first realized my anxiety. The whys and how all went through my head - not good for someone who already has a racing mind. I use that time in my life to get me back on track and avoid episodes of heart palpitations,  racing thoughts, increase heart rate, etc.
If you or anyone you know may be suffering from anxiety, please visit your doctor and discuss your options. Its more than just talking to someone. Its more than medication. It starts from within.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Elf on the Shelf

I must admit that I have mixed feelings about this little critter. A few of my friends are hesitant to try it out with their child for several reasons.
Believe it or not, there are kids that are afraid of his smirking little Elf face. Something about his mischievous facial expression:

 I can appreciate that for sure. He (or she) does have that "Please stop staring at me you weird looking doll" Although I think some of the the clever ideas people come up with are just awesome!! Some of my favourite ideas are where the Elf is caught sitting with Barbie in the car or in her dollhouse with his arm around her. Its pretty obvious any male elf would take a liking to the long legged doll. 

Elf on the Shelf has been around for decades....just kidding its started in 2005 as a children's book and in 2011 CBS aired a 30-minute special "An Elf's Story: The Elf on the Shelf" So I must admit this may not qualify as a true tradition, it definitely has become more popular over the years. I have friends who have dedicated every day from Dec 1 (on or about then) until Dec 25th to creating new and unique scenario to please their little ones. From finding this little friend hanging from the drapes in the living room to toilet papering the Christmas tree. Amazingly, these ideas are different every day and even better than the year before.

Although it all sounds great, make sure its something you can dedicate some time to every day. Depending on the age of your child, take into consideration the load of questions they might have about this mysterious little new friend. Perhaps do some research and create a detail bio to help clarify some questions beforehand. If you curious "George" still has can always use the question as an answer "How old do YOU think he is?" kind of idea.

So lets give a scenario: You and your child decide to adopt an Elf on the Shelf. A few days in, you think "Awesome, hes loving it!" and after about 2-3 weeks your child starts asking questions. A lot of questions. Question you didn't prepare yourself for and answering with "I don't know"

....What do you do?

At this point you have two options: keep at it and continue to dodge unanswered questions as best as you can or you can have an early goodbye.

I actually Googled ideas on how to get rid of Elf on the Shelf and there wasn't anything more than the normal goodbye. So I have compiled a few of ideas of my own on how to umm.....depart early if things are not working out.

 One of my top listers was to create a letter announcing your child made the nice list early and they will return on Christmas even for their final good bye. This is simple, easy and probably the most effective considering the start of the whole thing was to make that list. You can create a certificate in Word to make it "official" and have it signed by your Elf and Santa. Your child is more likely to be acceptable to this option because the reward is the same as if your elf stayed the entire time.

If your elf is a male (most seem to be), you can send your little friend on a trip where he elopes with Barbie. You can take it a step further and send pictures or an email for update if your little one is still asking about his friend. If your elf is a female, perhaps have her run away with Hulk, Iron Man, GI Joe or Ken!

The vacation idea could be played in several different ways. One last vacay before the big day, visit family, or go back to help Santa finish the toys in time. You can play it however you like!

Personally, I have no interest in starting this tradition with Adriana - full time job, full time Mommy, house cleaner, laundry doer, dinner cooker, website and blog creator, and part time student - my time is pretty full as it is! Christmas is my ultimate favourite time of the year, even without an Elf on the shelf visiting. Adriana will still appreciate the meaning of Christmas and the importance of family time over the holidays. I don't need any extra work to keep the hype of Christmas alive in our family - I'm 28 years old and I still look forward to presents, food and family on Christmas Day. My mom still puts up her metropolis of Dickens Village, well decorated tree, lighted garland inside and out, plus her scattered Christmas decorations. That is a lot of work on its own but not a year so far that I have been disappointed during the holidays - definitely puts anyone in the holiday spirit.

This year is no different as I am already more excited than last year. Christmas is more exciting to me than my own birthday!! I look forward to many more years of celebrating with my family and creating new traditions. But not ones that include Elf on the Shelf!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Toddler Nap Time Troubles

I swore myself to be the luckiest parent alive when Adriana was sleeping through the night after just 10days. Seriously, who else can say that? Not many I'm sure.

Lets face it....I think my luck has run out.

Adriana is starting her "terrible twos" already and part of that is refusing to nap. Do I dare assume my little one doesn't need a midday nap anymore? She's not even two yet! Although this is the third weekend in a row of no nap time. At daycare it seems to be mostly the same thing as well.

She doesn't normally give a hard time when we tell her its nap time. She's very willing to go lay in her bed but shortly after closing the door we can hear her playing with toys. This we don't mind because eventually she will fall asleep (we hope). She's into opening her door to come see what we're doing and that's when I simply take her hand and bring her back to her bed. I explain that she needs to have a nap in order to play longer later - this seems to understood for the most part.

This weekend is far worse than the last. I find myself losing patience in getting her to nap - I understand how important it is but she doesn't want to. So I reached out for some answers. I was sure that this can't be just MY child. The one who never ever had a sleep problem up to now. The child who was in a regular day bed at only 18mths old! No, this couldn't be.

I came across some suggestions although they were geared for older toddlers (closer to three years old) but doesn't hurt to try.

First, it was suggested to drop the whole "Nap Time" and call it "Quiet Time" instead. This is understood by giving your child a book or puzzle to have in their bed with the lights off and curtains drawn closed. Eventually, they might nod off on their own but will definitely have the calm down time they need to recharge. I love this idea! Its true....whenever I said nap time to Adriana she would refuse by saying "No nap Mommy". I tried to explain that she needed it but it seemed to make it worst! Definitely changing up my choice of words.

Second, if your little one is still having 2 naps but they're shorter in length every time - try switching to just one solid nap instead. Except to have a cranky baby for a few days while they adjust to a single nap time but they should sleep for a solid 2hrs during this time. I remember Adriana was NOT a happy camper and some nights went to bed a little earlier than normal while she adjusted. Within 1 week she was a happy camper again with a regular bed time 730-8pm and only one nap for 2hrs; sometimes a little longer!

The last suggestion I found was to settle your little one with a good lunch and a quiet movie that will hopefully make them pass out. Perhaps a movie they already saw so they wont force them self to stay awake through it all. Don't forget to give the whole movie experience by darkening the room and cuddling up on the couch or in their bed. We have movies on our tablet which is really easy for Adriana to hold comfortably. Its usually the same movie but she loves it and we don't mind letting her handle the tablet - she's pretty good at holding it steady!

Although, I don't think Adriana is entirely ready to not have a nap at all. I do believe she needs less of one - at least 30 to 45mins of quiet time. I hope this changes our routine for the better. I cannot stress how frustrating it is to get her to nap! I end up looking forward to getting her in bed at night and I feel its rushed instead of enjoyed like before.

I am thankful that our night time routine is bang on. Adriana sleeps from 8pm (give or take) until 7am (give or take) without waking up. Unless she has a cough, then I can hear wake up but quickly settle herself back to sleep. We were never the parents who ran to her every noise she made or even every cry. Of course we woke up but if it wasn't a concern (baby monitor was loud enough to hear everything) I would not go to her. To reassure myself - still do it to this day - before I go to bed every few nights, I will open her door just to see her sleeping. She's so peaceful and quiet - best sight after a long day.

I have been enjoying the amount of growing Adriana has done. It really has been a journey! I'm proud to say that I truly enjoy every moment of having a child. She is my world!