The Tormented Life Of A Mother Suffering With Endometriosis

I recently came across a post from Coins & Babble about a day in the life of a chronically ill mom.  Like myself, T suffers from endometriosis.  Reading about her daily struggles made me realize that my case was not a unique one.  It’s one that too many mothers experience.

Without hesitation, I asked T to write a guest post for Running in Triangles about being a mother with endometriosis.

The Tormented Life of a Mother Suffering with Endometriosis* This post may contain affiliate links *
* This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of www.runningintriangles.com.  Due to the nature of the topic, this post may contain graphic details that some may find disturbing.


The Tormented Life Of A Mother Suffering With Endometriosis

A guest post by Tifanee from Coins & Babble

Endometriosis. It may not be a word you’ve heard before. But I know you’ve heard the word mother. Take a walk in my shoes.
The Tormented Life of a Mother with Endometriosis
CoinsandBabble.com

Endometriosis Reality

Endometriosis is a chronic condition where endometrial-like tissue is found outside of the uterus.

What happens to a woman with Endometriosis is SO much more than that though. It feels like you have hundreds, sometimes thousands of blisters on your insides. Imagine that. Think for a minute of the pain you have when you have an open blister while wearing your heels but you still have to walk in them. Now, imagine walking with those blisters covering your insides. It’s excruciating pain every minute of every day. Endometriosis causes extreme fatigue and usually a low immune system. Most of the time in the bodies of women with Endometriosis, their organs are eventually completely stuck to each other.


When you get your period, plan to take the next two weeks of life off. For the most part, you’re bed-ridden. I would like to take this opportunity to say, I have a high pain tolerance. I went through 27.5 hours of labor drug-free. The pain I experience with Endometriosis still causes me to be bed-ridden. Don’t think the women diagnosed with this horrendous illness are wimps, they’re probably some of the toughest ladies you’ll ever know. The pain is so bad, your willing to burn your skin with a rice bag just to distract from the pain inside.

Among the many symptoms of Endometriosis, one of the most talked about is infertility. I truly feel pain in my heart for those women who aren’t and haven’t been able to have children because of Endometriosis.

But today, we’re going to talk about the women who WERE able to have children…

Being A Mom With Endometriosis

Two-thirds of the women who are diagnosed with Endometriosis will be able to have children at some point in their lives. For me, that was early in my life. If I’d have waited to have children I wouldn’t have been able to grow them myself.

While I would never change my three beautiful babies, being a mom to them while struggling with Endometriosis is the hardest part of my life. I feel a ridiculous amount of mom guilt to start. In one of my previous articles on Endometriosis, I talked about the fact that I have less energy than someone going through treatment for cancer. One of the hardest parts of my life has been not being able to get out of bed to be with my kids.

As a mom, especially when your kids are little, your sole purpose in life is them. Not because it HAS to be, because you want it to be. But for me, Endometriosis has made that impossible. It has ripped away moments and delights with them that I can never get back. That I will never have a chance at again. This breaks my heart inside. It makes me sick to my stomach and furious.

My youngest daughter is almost five and most of our days together are spent in bed. When we play games, they are usually from my bed. She brings connect four to my bed and we set it up on the box for a steadier surface and play. It’s wrong and unfair, not only for her, for me as well.

My children go through the stress of this unimaginable illness with me. They’ve had to watch me deteriorate and suffer knowing that nothing can be done. It’s almost enough to completely break me when I think of that. But, of course, I’m a mom and I won’t let anything break me. I will struggle and suffer through torment with a beaming smile on my face to participate in field trips. I will hide the bags and tear stained face with my professional makeup so I can watch them in swimming lessons. I will build a snowman outside while I’m in agony inside.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up about Chronic Pain
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Is This It?

For a mom with Endometriosis, there is no staying in bed all week during a bad week. There is no catching up on the housework later or skipping dinner. You get up and show up no matter what. Until you face the unimaginable reality, that you just can’t. You don’t know what you’ll do, but you know you can’t do this anymore. If you have to live through this anguish for one more minute you will plunge into your despair and let it take over.

You go for tests and you try hormone treatments. You finally decide your body will never again be the remarkable body it used to be. It will no longer be a body that can support the life of another. To be able to keep any type of life you have now, you need to get rid of the organs that held and grew your precious children for the first part of their life.

At first, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Plenty of women get hysterectomies. It’s not talked about a lot, but it’s absolute misery for me. Knowing that soon, my body won’t be the body I have had my whole life. I will never be able to have a precious sweet baby inside my womb. My pelvis will be dark and empty and filled with the monster Endometriosis.

This is my tormented life of a mother suffering with endometriosis.
T…

[Read more from Tifanee at Coins & Babble and follow her on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook]


Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression
Read about my own struggle with endometriosis

Endometriosis Resources

Endometriosis.org – the official website

Endomarch.org – The 2018 Worldwide Endometriosis March is scheduled for March 24.  Get more information and donate to Endo research.

Nancy’s Nook Endometriosis Education Facebook Group – a great resource for endometriosis support and medical information

Endometriosis Support Group – a Facebook group with over 12k members offering support and advice for women with endometriosis

Hystersisters.com – Hysterectomy support and information

A Treat For Mom

10 Personalized Gifts for Kids with Unique Names

Do you know any kids with unique names?  I gave my three kids unique names, and I absolutely love them.  It means, however, that they don’t often find ready-made things with their names printed on them or hear their names in books or movies.

This makes giving them personalized gifts so much more special.  Since they rarely see their names printed anywhere – they get extremely excited when they do!

Christmas is one of the best times to give personalized gifts, not just to kids with unique names, but to all kids.  At a time of the year when everyone is exchanging gifts, getting something personalized means someone put a little extra thought and effort into that gift to make sure it was right for you.

Etsy.com has some of the best options for personalized gifts.  Here’s my top ten!

10 Personalized Gifts for Kids with Unique Names

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.


1. Name Puzzle

JandPWoodProducts on Etsy

This name puzzle from JandPWoodProducts on Etsy would make a great gift for a toddler or preschooler!  It’s not only a great find for kids with unique names, but for anyone, as it helps kids identify the letters in their own name.  As they get older, this would be a beautiful bedroom decoration and keepsake.


2. Fidget Necklace

QuinnandLane on Etsy

I LOVE these personalized fidget necklaces from QuinnandLane on Etsy!  Kids have a nasty habit of putting things in their mouths and these silicone necklaces are designed for just that.  My daughter loves to chew on her hair, and my son, his nails, but with one of these they’ll be able to fidget safely and not develop any bad habits.


3. Light Up Name

SimplySpecialBoutiq on Etsy

How much would your kids love to see their name in lights?!  These adorable light up letters from SimplySpecialBoutiq on Etsy would make the cutest night light that kids could cherish forever!  It could double as a decoration feature for their birthday parties and with so many sophisticated color options, it would still look great enough to take to college!  A great gift for kids of any age!


4. Monogrammed Winter Hat & Gloves

BrunchMom on Etsy

With winter comes hoards of gear that often gets lost in the shuffle.  My kids are currently wearing generic hats and gloves with a sticker label on the inside in the hopes that I can find them again in the lost and found box.  This set from BrunchMom on Etsy is a much nicer option.  The delicate embroidery is so classy and luxurious, any kid would be happy to sport these all winter long…


5. Personalized Tumbler

PreppyPinkPineapples on Etsy

With three kids in my house, everyone is always fighting over their favorite color cup.  Personalized cups might be the solution!  These tumblers are so modern and classy that they make the perfect little gift for kids with unique names.  PreppyPinkPineapples on Etsy offers so many different color and font options that each child will be able to get exactly what they want while still coordinating.  They would make a great gift for the entire family, or an entire set of grandkids or cousins!


6. Embroidered Towel

ItsSewDanielle on Etsy

Another item my kids often fight over is which color towel they get after bath time.  Imagine how much more special bath time becomes when they have a towel with their name on it!  They’ll use them at swimming lessons, on beach days or pool parties and always know which towel is theirs!  I love these ones from ItsSewDanielle on Etsy because there are so many different options for customization (it’s even offered as a towel and washcloth set).


7. Library Bag

zoeysattic on Etsy

This book bag is adorable for little readers!  Our kids recently got their first library cards and my son loads up on his maximum limit of chapter books (because he can blow through one in just a few nights).  He definitely needs one of these bags to carry his stash in!  If your kid isn’t particularly into books, then ZoeysAttic on Etsy offers all kinds of personalized tote bags for just about everyone, no matter what you’re into.  There’s one for dance class, football practice, or the beach!


8. Santa Sack

SewWhatFun on Etsy

We invested in personalized Santa sacks for the kids several Christmases ago and it’s been such an awesome addition to our Christmas tradition!  The kids LOVE seeing their special sacks under the tree on Christmas morning and it makes the magic so real.  When they’re older and have outgrown the Santa tradition, it will be a wonderful keepsake for them!


9. Story Book

MyMagicNameBook on Etsy

I bet a book that has your kid’s unique name in it will easily become one of their favorites!  I remember my sister and cousins and I getting personalized books from our favorite aunt when we were kids and I still remember every word of the story because of how often we read it!  There are so many options out there but these ones from MyMagicNameBook on Etsy come with a unique story for each child, so no two will ever be alike!


10. Rubber Name Stamp

RemarkableMarks on Etsy

And lastly, why not just get their name on an awesome rubber stamp set!?!?  Now they can put their name on anything and everything they choose!


9 Reasons why Mothers Don’t Speak Up about Chronic Pain

You wouldn’t know by looking at me, but I have suffered from chronic pain for over 5 years.

I was recently diagnosed with a medical condition called endometriosis It took over a year, five different doctors, several ER visits, countless tests and a long list of medications to finally get an answer.  In the end, it was too late anyway and I lost the majority of my reproductive organs.

[You can read more about my battle with endometriosis here]

And while I want to blame the medical system for failing me, I can’t deny the fact that I ignored the pain for FOUR YEARS before deciding to do something about it.

As a mother, there are so many reasons why I didn’t feel my pain was a priority.  Prior to having children to take care of, I’m sure it would have been a major concern and perhaps I would have gotten a diagnosis sooner rather than later.   Here are some reasons why mothers don’t speak up about chronic pain.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up about Chronic Pain

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.**Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.


1. We put others first

One of the most distinguishable characteristics of a mother is that they put others before themselves.  The more people we have to take care of, the more our own needs get bumped to the bottom of the list.  And some most days that list never gets completed.  So while we might have every intention of taking care of ourselves, there just aren’t enough hours left over at the end of the day after taking care of everyone else.

The Tormented Life of a Mother Living with Endometriosis
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2. We don’t want to scare our children

I will never forget the fear in my daughter’s eyes when she came to visit me in the hospital, hooked up to machines and IV’s and unable to move.  In an attempt to protect my children from seeing their mother in such a vulnerable state, I kept quiet about my pain around them.  When they think back on their childhood, I wouldn’t want them to remember me in constant pain and not able to do anything fun with them.


3. We hate to let people down

We want to be supermom, as unattainable as it might be.  We want to be there for our kids and our spouses, our families and friends.  We want to bake the perfect cupcakes for the bake sale and volunteer at every charitable event.  We want to cheer our kids on from the sidelines and chase after them at the playground.  Dealing with chronic pains means we probably won’t get to do all of those things and so we push through it just to avoid disappointing anyone.


4. Nothing compares to childbirth

Sure, you’re in pain, but it’s not as bad as childbirth.  It’s worse if you’ve given birth without any drugs because then you’re expected to be able to handle anything.  But chronic pain and labor pain are two entirely different things.

Labor pain is a right of passage with an amazing reward at the end.  All mothers have had a chance to experience it in some way or another, it’s just part of life.

Chronic pain means something is wrong.  It is not a welcome pain, and there is no end in sight.  Add in the psychological trauma that comes along with wondering WHY you’re in pain and it’s a whole different monster.

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5. It’s hard to ask for help

This rings true for most people, not just mothers suffering from chronic pain.  To ask for help means putting aside our pride, which is something most mothers have a very difficult time doing.  We are proud of the home we’ve kept and the children we’ve raised.  We’ve got a system and routine and we can’t expect just anyone to come in and take over.  If we admit that we need help, then we’re no longer in the running for supermom.


6. No one knows how to to do what we do

I’m not even sure what I do all day.  All I know is that no one else knows how to do it.   So if my husband asks me what needs to be done, I couldn’t tell him.  I just get up in the morning and do what I do.  I see something that needs to be done and I do it.  There is no master list.  There is no “how-to guide” to being a stay at home mom.  And even if I wrote out a to-do list, it would probably need to be changed at least 12 times because… toddlers.


we keep quiet about a lot of things…

7. We’re afraid to miss out

These kids grow up so fast.  We’re afraid to blink for fear of missing out on something and so taking time off to deal with our chronic pain is out of the question.  As much as we want alone time, we also want to be there to experience it all.  We want to see that excited expression on their faces when experiencing something new.  We want to hear their hysterical laughs while playing at the park or watching a funny movie.  We don’t want to miss out on our children’s childhood because of chronic pain.


8. We’ve tried all the home remedies

We are lucky to live in a world where we have so many choices when it comes to our health.  If you want to know what all of those options are, then all you need to do is mention to someone that you suffer from chronic pain.  Product recommendations, home remedies, naturopathic solutions, essential oils, vitamins, etc., are all wonderful and often welcome suggestions… at first.  And we get that people want to help but, after a while, we’re tired of being targeted by those selling some type of miracle product that promises to cure all that ails us.

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9. We hate being labeled

Complainers.  Hypochondriacs.  Unhealthy.  Drug addicts.  There are many people who use pain as an excuse.  Those people make things much harder for the rest of us who are in actual pain.  We don’t speak up about chronic pain because there are so many people who don’t understand it.  It’s not just about what others think of us, it’s about how we are treated.  For five years I suffered from chronic pain but was still able to do anything and everything and I often wonder if things would have been different if I was more vocal about my pain.

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression
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The cause of chronic pain is less important than how it affects your life.  Many people have no choice but to speak up about their chronic pain and ask for help.  But for some mothers, myself included, we are afraid to show weakness.  We don’t want to be a burden.  And so we keep it inside and go it alone. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re reading this and felt like I was talking to you, maybe it’s time to let your guard down.  Seek help and let those in your life know that you are suffering.  If they truly love you, they won’t think any less of you and will want to do whatever they can to ease your pain.


click here to learn more about

Chronic pain and endometriosis

4 Tips for Surviving Three Car Seats

Families with three kids are often put in a difficult position when it comes to choosing a vehicle.   The struggle that is three car seats.

If you weren’t driving a minivan before baby #3 came along, you may be strongly considering one now.  But a minivan isn’t the only option.  It is entirely possible to accommodate three car seats comfortably in many different vehicles.  Here are my best tips to help you get through this phase.

*Sponsored Post*  I received compensation for this blog post, however all opinions are my own.


1. The right vehicle

Whether you’re looking to upgrade or wondering if your existing vehicle will be able to accommodate three car seats, it’s best to do your research ahead of time.  You can use Cars.com’s car seat check to find out the rating on your vehicle or one you’re considering buying.

16HondaPilot_SO_ES_CSC_Lead.jpg
cars.com

The busy lifestyle that this stage of parenthood is infamous for means spending a lot of time on the road. If I factor in our regular 2 hour road trips back to our hometown on the weekends, it’s safe to say that we spend nearly as much time in the vehicle as we do anywhere else. Purchasing our family vehicle was as big of a decision as was purchasing our home, so research was essential.


2. The right car seat

The type of car seats you’re using will also have an impact.  In a perfect world, you may have one child in a high back booster, one in a convertible forward facing seat and one in a rear facing bucket seat.  But if your children are closer in age or if you have multiples, you may have two in bucket seats and/or rear facing.  The combination possibilities are endless.

The other thing you’ll want to consider is the brand of car seat you are using.  Some are created bulkier than others and this can affect how well they fit side by side by side.

Cars.com has done a lot of this research for you.  Here is a list of vehicles that can fit three car seats side by side.  

17-honda-pilot-fits-three-es.jpg
cars.com

3. The right position

Which car seat goes where?  There’s no right or wrong answer.  As long as the car seats are installed correctly and don’t hinder the position of the driver and passenger seats in front of them, it doesn’t really matter which child sits where.  You can watch this car seat safety video from Cars.com for more information.

Consider keeping easy access to the child who needs the most attention.

If the baby tends to sleep during car rides, then you may want to keep the rambunctious toddler within arms reach instead.

OR, you may want to keep the oldest child closest to you in order to pass things to them to distribute among their siblings.

Another thing you need to think about is the convenience of getting into and out of the vehicle:  

If the oldest child can buckle themselves in, put them the farthest away from the door. 

Bucket seats on a base are simple enough to move but can be heavy and bulky and usually best suited close to a door. 

Give yourself enough space and leverage to buckle in that squirmy toddler.

Factor in the weather.  Dealing with car seats is one of the reasons why moms hate winter.


4. The third row shuffle

Having a vehicle with a third row isn’t always a necessity with three kids.  But it IS a bonus.  I, like many other parents, avoided getting a minivan and opted for an SUV with a third row instead.  Here’s a list of the best three row SUV’s for car seats.  And while that third row isn’t regularly used, it’s a nice feature to have, both for additional seating and for when the kids get older and will want their own space in the backseat.

17_GMC_Acadia_CSC_ES_02.jpg
cars.com
Because as much as I don’t want to admit it – the day will come when they will no longer be in car seats and the struggle of the daily buckle will be another memory for the baby book.

 

Tips for Exploring Local Attractions with Kids

Recently my family of five paired up with my sister’s family of four and we spent a few days touring local attractions in my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The goal was a memorable fun filled summer vacation for the kids and relaxation for the parents – a far stretch for four adults and five children under 8.  With so many local options to choose from, we had to carefully weigh out the pros and cons of each activity and choose ones that were age appropriate and affordable.

While there are still several more local attractions we’d like to cross off our bucket list, the ones that we did visit were a good combination of fun and educational and most importantly – we all had fun!



*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.


Pack Properly

Snacks are a must when travelling with little kids, in fact I never leave home without a little something in my purse.

Water bottles because it’s summer and whether you’re indoors or out – you’re going to need to stay hydrated.

A change of clothes for everyone (including the adults).  Summer fun usually consists of something messy and or heat-relieving i.e. water.  Packing a change of clothes to leave in the car is usually a good idea.

Wear Proper Footwear

Exploring local attractions usually means a lot of walking is involved so trade in the flip flops for a comfortable pair of runners.

Plan Ahead

Check out the attraction’s website or Facebook page if they have one.  Familiarize yourself with their prices, policies, hours and map (wheelchair accessible = stroller accessible).  Enter any contests they might have or take note of their hashtag so you can share pictures to their social media.

Ask for advice from friends – local attractions mean that someone else has been there before and will have some tips for you!

Make a Backup Plan

Rainy day?  Mom’s got a migraine?  Have a plan B so that no one ends up disappointed.

Timing is Everything

Try to schedule your visit in between meal times so that no one ends up “hangry.”

If it’s an all-day event then pack a lunch – don’t rely on finding something there unless you have lunch plans worked out ahead of time.

If the little ones need an afternoon nap then work that in somehow – whether it’s driving the long way there or back – or bringing a stroller that properly reclines.

Map Out Your Route

It may be unrealistic to expect to see EVERYTHING at a local attraction when you’re exploring with little kids.  Map out your route based on the things you want to see and do MOST to LEAST.  The kids will have the most energy and be most interested at the beginning so take full advantage of that.

Have an Escape Plan

Little kids and meltdowns are almost inevitable.  Heat, cold, hunger and tiredness are all contributing factors but they can also happen for no reason whatsoever.

Don’t anticipate them but be ready for them and have an escape plan that is in-line with your parenting methods.  Do you plan to ignore it and carry on?  Remove the tantruming child from the situation?  Call the entire visit short and try again another day?

Don’t cause yourself extra stress and be prepared.

Don’t Overdo it

It’s OK if you didn’t get a chance to read every single plaque under every single statue or if your kid missed out on most of the rides because they fell asleep.  The great thing about local attractions is that they’re local and you can visit them anytime you like!


At the amusement park

Our local attraction: Tinkertown Family Fun Park – www.tinkertown.mb.ca

We have been to Tinkertown several times and what I love most is that there are rarely long lineups for rides since they are open all summer long and there is plenty of shade and places to sit down which is especially important on long hot summer days.

The window of opportunity for children to enjoy Tinkertown is quite small as it’s an amusement park geared towards younger children.  While there are a few rides for older children, I strongly suggest that you take your kids while they still enjoy the “little kid rides.”  I feel like the best age range for kids to enjoy Tinkertown is between 4 – 8, where they are able to go on most rides by themselves and still be thrilled by them.


TOP THREE TIPS for exploring an amusement park

Let the kids choose which rides they most want to go on first, rather than which one is next.  They may not have enough steam to make it through the entire park and may miss out on some rides they especially like.

If the line ups are long, choose a different ride and come back.  Unless it’s a ride that is notorious for having a long line, it could just be a matter of timing (ex. one ride finishes and everyone rushes to the next one)

Measure the kids and check the height requirements of the rides in advance.  This way you will know if you need to accompany your child on the rides (and therefore buy extra tickets) and it will be less disappointing for your child if they already know they won’t be tall enough to go on a particular ride.


At the Museum

Tips for exploring local attractions with kids

Our local attraction: The Manitoba Museum –  www.manitobamuseum.ca

*** I was given free passes for the World’s Giant Dinosaurs exhibit in exchange for this blog post, however all opinions are my own.

The Manitoba Museum is another local attraction that I have been to several times but it never gets old (no pun intended).  On this visit we went specifically to see their latest exhibit – World’s Giant Dinosaurs – and it did not disappoint!

Tips for exploring local attractions with kids
World’s Giant Dinosaurs @ The Manitoba Museum

My 7 year old son is a big fan of dinosaurs and always has been.  He has several books about them and in each one he likes to look at the little diagram of the man standing next to the dinosaur and imagine how huge they must have been.

We never would have thought that we’d be able to experience that magnitude in person until we walked in the World’s Giant Dinosaurs exhibit.  It is literally a jaw dropping experience.

In addition to the gigantic animatronic dinosaurs there were interactive activities for the kids like a chalkboard painted dinosaur where the kids wrote their names, a dinosaur to feed and a sandpit where the kids were invited to grab brushes and help dig for dinosaur bones.

My daughter’s favorite interactive dinosaur was the one with the foot pedal that made it pee…

Tips for exploring local attractions with kids
Learning how dinosaurs pee

Whether you enjoy dinosaurs or fear them – the exhibit did a great job of putting them into perspective and I couldn’t help but wonder what life would be like if these giant beasts were still roaming around the countryside.

World’s Giant Dinosaurs @ the Manitoba Museum
TOP THREE TIPS for exploring a local museum

Talk to your children in advance about some of the things they’re going to see.  You can look up some facts online or check out a book at your local library.  Since it’s a local museum they will get a chance to learn about the place they live in and it’s history – something much more personal to them than a museum about the entire world.

Do your best to help the little ones understand what they’re looking at – especially the ones who can’t read.  While it might be interesting enough to look at all the old artifacts or displays, kids will enjoy them even more when they know a little history about them.

Give your children a map or a guide that they can follow along in to keep them interested and exciting about what they’re going to see next.


At the National Historic Site

Our local attraction: Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site – www.pc.gc.ca

While I’m certain that I had been here many, many years ago, none of it was fresh in my mind and it was essentially a first visit for me and my children.  I had an idea of what to expect but what surprised me was how authentic everything was.

There were characters dressed in full costume who spoke as if they were living in the 1850’s.  The massive collection of real furs in the “fur loft” was a sight to see and made me appreciate the importance of the fur trade.  The children enjoyed interacting with the characters and getting to touch and smell things like the sheep’s wool and the bricks of tea leaves.

Each little house and building in Lower Fort Garry had it’s own production going on, it was like walking back into time and witnessing a moment from history.

TOP THREE TIPS for exploring a national historic site

Get the kids involved by comparing some of the tools and equipment used in the past to what we use today.

Ask questions and encourage the kids to ask questions too – the characters play a part but they also know more about the site than anyone else.

Encourage the kids to role play as well – what job would you have liked to do in 1850?


Sometimes staying at home and exploring local attractions can be just as much fun as a vacation to somewhere else.  The trick is to get your kids involved and interested in their local community and the history that comes along with it.  Learning that their favorite playground was once an open field covered in grazing bison might open up a whole world of imaginative possibilities for them.

There is no better way for kids to take pride in their city and country than to learn more about them and support the local businesses that contribute to them.

Which local attractions are your favorites?

tips for exploring local attractions with kids

The Pros and Cons of a Combined Sibling Birthday Party

If you’re like me then you’re lucky (?) enough to have three kids whose birthdays are less than a month apart.

The pros and cons of combined sibling birthday parties

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.


When baby #2 was born only three weeks after my first child’s 2nd birthday, I had mixed feelings about them sharing a birthday party.  And then my third child turned up only two days after my first child’s 5th birthday so there was almost no avoiding celebrating their birthdays together… at least for a little while.

For the past 4 years we’ve had one big combined sibling birthday party and this year was no exception!
Dreamworks Trolls Inspired Birthday Party
Click here to read about our most recent sibling birthday party!

Our first combined sibling birthday party was shortly after we moved almost 900 kilometers away from home and all of our family.  We decided to host the party back in our hometown so it made sense to combine the celebration and save us having to make two trips in.

sibling birthday party
Mickey & Minnie Mouse themed 1st & 3rd Birthdays – 2013

While this is still one of the main reasons we choose to do a combined sibling birthday party (despite now only living 200 kilometers away), there are several pros and cons that we take into consideration each year. 


P R O S

The date is flexible.

Since it’s not a celebration of one specific day, it becomes more of a “birthday season.”  We’ve had our parties anywhere from a few days before or after, to a month away from their actual birth dates!

Bigger is better!

One big party can be easier than trying to throw several small ones.  I tend to go overboard on the party planning and wouldn’t even know how to throw a “small” party.


MY FAVORITE PARTY PLANNING SITES:

www.partycity.ca is my go-to website for party related decor items and game props.  They have a huge selection of themes and color schemes and I’ve always been able to count on them to have something specific that I need for a great price! 

www.etsy.com is my favorite place to shop for custom invitations and downloadable printables!  I’ve purchased everything from party decor to costumes on Etsy and absolutely LOVE the personalized service!

www.amazon.ca is a lifesaver for situations when I need something that I can’t find in a store! And even if I can find it, I always price check on amazon first!


It’s a one time effort.

Party planning is exciting (at least for me it is).  When I know there’s a party coming up, I go all in and put in as much effort as my budget will allow.  But if I had to do it several times in a year, I’m sure that either my effort or my budget would run out by the time the last one rolled around.

Theme parties FTW!

Finding a theme for a combined sibling birthday party can be a challenge but with so many options – it’s actually a lot of fun!  Our most recent theme was based on the Dreamworks Trolls movie but we’ve also done one inspired by The Minions Movie (for our three little minions) and Mickey & Minnie (our first one for our son and daughter).

sibling birthday party
Minions themed 1st, 4th & 6th Birthdays – 2016
No one gets jealous.

Since all the kids get to be part of the celebration, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of one child being jealous seeing their sibling get presents and cake and attention.

Everyone gets a gift!

When we were young, my grandmother always bought presents for each grandchild, no matter who’s birthday it was.  It was one thing we could always count on – and we knew that no matter how jealous we felt about not getting to be the center of attention – we would at least get something from grandma.  So I’m glad my three kids each have gifts to open together.

There’s room for new traditions.

Having a separate party means being able to do something special on each child’s actual birthday.  There are so many creative ways to start a new birthday tradition in your family!


these awesome mom blogs have some great ideas for birthday traditions!

The House of Hendrix
Looking for fun and unique ways to make your child's birthday really special? You will love these 30 ways to make birthdays special (that aren't gifts)!
My Life and Kids
25 ways to make your childs birthday special
Honeybear Lane

It’s easier on the guests.

While your children are young, all of their guest lists will likely be the same – family and close friends.  Having one party means those guests won’t feel obligated to attend several different parties throughout the year.

Group gifts become an option.

A combined sibling birthday party provides an opportunity for guests to go in on larger group gifts together that your children wouldn’t normally receive.


C O N S

There’s no individual attention.

Each child won’t get individual attention at their birthday party and may harbor resentment towards their siblings for always having to share the spotlight.  This may bother some kids more than others, but know that combined sibling birthday parties won’t last forever.

Finding the right theme can be tricky.

The kids may have a hard time agreeing on one theme, especially when they’re into different things.  Finding a common color scheme can be difficult and the older the kids get, the more opinionated they become.  The age gap between them can also have affect which themes are appropriate.

sibling birthday party
Dreamworks Trolls 2nd, 5th & 7th Birthdays – 2017
It’s just one and done.

Once the sibling birthday party is over, there isn’t anything new to look forward to for the rest of the year.  It can be depressing when “birthday season” is over, similar to post-Christmas depression.

In some families, or large circles of extended family and close friends, birthday parties become one of the few reasons to get together throughout the year.  Having only one party means there aren’t as many opportunities for celebrations.

Parties don’t grow on trees.

It can be financially straining to pull off one really BIG party once a year instead of several smaller ones scattered throughout the year.  Considering what time of the year the birthdays fall can also impact the budget.  Anything close to Christmas is almost always doomed…

The “happy birthday” song plays on repeat.

No matter what options you choose for a cake (individual cakes, group cake, cupcakes) you will always have to sing “Happy Birthday” more than once.

Trolls Cake
6 Layer Rainbow Cake Recipe
The gifting situation…

It can be a burden on your guests to have to bring gifts for several children as opposed to just one.

The children may come to expect that they will ALWAYS get presents when their siblings do (or other children) and it will take away an opportunity to help them work through their jealousy.

Kids may receive “one gift for all of you to share.”


I know the day will come when my children will beg me for their own birthday party and I will graciously oblige…
… but until that day…

we will party like it’s Christmas in April!



Dreamworks Trolls themed birthday party for three kids
Minion Themed sibling birthday party for three kids
Mickey and Minnie Mouse themed brother and sister birthday party

Dreamworks Trolls Inspired Birthday Party

For my three children’s annual birthday bash, the theme we decided on was a Dreamworks Trolls birthday party which meant a lot of rainbows and bright, bold colors.

Dreamworks Trolls Inspired Birthday Party

Dreamworks Trolls Inspired Party

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.

I will admit that this year was quite tame in comparison to past parties we’ve done.  And by “we” I don’t mean my husband and I, although he always graciously goes along with whatever crazy overboard plans I get in my head and knows better than to tell me to “take it easy.”  No, I’m talking about my two sister-in-laws who share my passion and extravagance when it comes to party planning.  

But in an effort to keep things small this year, I took on the party planning by myself.

And while I didn’t have the luxury of their help this time, I can’t exactly say that I flew solo because my 4 year old had a lot of input and devoted her afternoons to helping me make decorations out of tissue paper.


My quest for the perfect theme party started as it always does – Pinterest.  There I found inspiration and tutorials for decorations, food, cakes and games and filled my board with anything that fit the theme.  [Click here to follow my Trolls Birthday Party Pinterest Board]

And what actually came together was this…

D E C O R A T I O N S

A Trolls birthday party meant rainbows and bright colors so while this rainbow tissue paper tassel garland was tedious and time consuming to make but it had a huge impact and added tons of color throughout the house! 

tissuepapertassel

I made the tassels little by little over the span of a few days and was surprised at how many they added up to when they were all hung.  In total I did two dozen of each color and was able to create a garland that was roughly 16 feet long and wrapped around my entire dining room!

For a great tutorial on how to make these tissue paper tassels check out The Creative Bag Blog

The Creative Bag Blog

Of if you’d rather purchase them ready made, check out this Etsy listing by PaperFlowersStore

Tissue Paper Tassel Garland - Rainbow Party theme - Party set - Birthday decorations - Pool Party - Fairys Party - 1st Birthday
PaperFlowersStore on Etsy

Of course what’s a rainbow without a few white puffy clouds to dot the ends?  I made white tissue paper poms in three different sizes and grouped them in the corners where I hung the garland.  Command hooks worked the best to hang both the poms and the garland on the wall and thumbtacks for the ones that were attached to the ceiling.


The other large scale rainbow decoration I worked on for the Trolls birthday party was this rainbow ceiling canopy made from plastic dollar store tablecloths.

tableclothceilingswag

I attached one end of the tablecloths to the ceiling light fixture using a rubber band and some string.  Then I spread out and ruffled the other end and stuck it to the wall using double sided tape.  There was quite a bit of overhang which I debated leaving in place but ultimately trimmed for a nice, even look.  I loved the way it looked so much that it hung in my living room for months after the party!

.

I stumbled upon these happy birthday letter balloons at the dollar store for $4 for the entire set (which was pricey for the dollar store but a steal regardless)!  It fit perfectly with the Trolls birthday party theme!  I was skeptical about the quality because, well, it’s the dollar store but they were as good as any other foil Mylar balloons I’ve used in the past.  Turns out they were the perfect size to fit in this little gap at the top of the wall between my living room and kitchen.  They were easy to inflate and deflate with a straw and I will definitely use them again!

Trolls Inspired Birthday Party

I found something similar on Amazon

trolls inspired birthday party
amazon.ca

I wanted to make sure that the Trolls birthday party theme was evident, and not just a generic rainbow party so I searched for a way to make the Trolls come alive! There is a section of our living room (i.e. playroom) wall where I’ve hung two rows of twine and normally hang my children’s artwork up with clothespins.  I had initially wanted my children to draw pictures of the trolls and rainbows and other things theme-appropriate to hang up there but they were not thrilled about that idea.

So instead I bought this downloadable clipart package from CariStudio on Etsy.

Trolls Clipart - Digital 300 DPI PNG Images, Photos, Scrapbook, Digital, Cliparts - Instant Download
CariStudio on Etsy

I inserted different pictures of each Trolls character into a Word document and printed them on card stock at our local Copy & Print Center. They turned out amazing!

Trolls Printables


G A M E S

The one thing my children asked for this year was a pinata.
amazon.com

And the only one I could find was this small Poppy one.  It was a pull string pinata so it was safer to use indoors but we weren’t too familiar with the process.  At first we tried to let each child have a turn and pull one string but that didn’t pan out so great so eventually we just made everyone grab one string and pull at once.

That worked much better and the kids excitedly rushed all over collecting candy just as I imagined, but it was over much too soon and seemed like a lot of effort for a few minutes of fun.  Next year, we’ll have to try this again and I’ll attempt to DIY one!

Side note – do not put pixie sticks in your pinata!  Because if they burst open during the process you will have white dust come flying out everywhere and guests will wonder where you imported that pinata from…


I downloaded this free printable Trolls bingo game from Best Toys for Kids and it was a huge hit!
Trolls Free Printable Bingo Cards And Calling Cards
besttoysforkids.com

We used M&M’s as bingo markers and anyone who got a Bingo got to eat their line! I again trusted my friends at our local Copy & Print Center to print and laminate it and they did not disappoint!  I even forgot to specify that it needed to be cut into pieces but they took care of all of that for me and the end result was a very professional looking bingo game that I’m sure we will play over and over again.


C A K E

You can read all the details and get the recipe for this six layer Rainbow Cake in this post!
Here’s our cake recipe!

get the soundtrack on amazon.ca

Ultimately, the Trolls birthday party was a huge success and the kids and guests all had a great time!  We played the Dreamworks Trolls Soundtrack in the background and turned it up for a dance party afterwards!

After the party, we donated the decorations to my daughter’s preschool.

 


Check out this post to see past parties we’ve done and for more party planning tips!
The pros and cons of combined sibling birthday parties
Click here for more party planning tips!

Dreamworks Trolls Inspired Party
Pin It!

6 Layer Rainbow Cake Recipe

We recently celebrated my children’s birthdays in one combined sibling birthday party and decided on a Dreamworks Trolls inspired theme which included a bright, bold, rainbow color scheme and an even bolder rainbow cake!

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.

trolls cake

One of the highlights at all of the parties in our family is the cake, and believe it or not, cake decorating is my husband’s hidden talent.  This time, due to his hectic work schedule, it was a joint effort and I baked the cakes while he did the decorating.

We searched Pinterest for ideas and inspiration for our rainbow cake and decided that we just HAD to attempt a six layer cake – one for each color of the rainbow!
Rainbow Cake Recipe
The finished product!

I used Wilton concentrated gel food coloring to get the bright, vibrant colors in both the cake and the buttercream frosting.
rainbow cake recipe


After preparing the cake batter, I separated it into six bowls of roughly 1 1/2 cups of batter each and then added the food coloring gel and mixed by hand.  I baked two layers at a time and then wrapped them in waxed paper and plastic wrap and froze them until my husband was ready to decorate.

I would love to be able to share the buttercream recipe with you as well, but it’s my husband’s secret recipe.  And it’s really only a secret because he doesn’t use one – he just throws a bunch of stuff into the mixer and it turns out incredible every time!

Thankfully you can find awesome recipes with tutorials at www.mycakeschool.com!

Here is one for the vanilla buttercream which we colored with the same gel food coloring.

Here is one for the chocolate ganache that we drizzled around the top of the cake.

 

I was lucky enough to find the Poppy & Branch marshmallow pops at the dollar store to use as cake toppers but unfortunately haven’t been able to find them for sale online anywhere to share with you.


As for the decorating itself, I’m going to make it sound much more simple than it actually is because my husband made it look a lot easier than it was.

After stacking the individual cakes in the right order, he filled them and did a crumb coat with plain white buttercream.

Then he mixed the buttercream into the six different colors.

Next, he piped a stripe of each color around the cake in the same order that the cakes were stacked.

Using a dough scraper along the side, he rotated the cake on the turntable to blend the colors together.

The top was covered in a layer of rainbow sprinkles with chocolate ganache drizzled around the top edge.

The result was a bright, colorful, rainbow cake that was beautiful inside and out!
Trolls Cake
Pin it!
6 Layer Rainbow Cake Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 - 9" Round 6 Layer Cake
 
This vanilla flavored cake recipe makes enough for 6 single layers - one for each color of the rainbow! For best results, use gel food coloring for vibrant colors!
Ingredients
  • 6 Eggs
  • 3 cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 4 cups Flour
  • 2 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Gel Food Coloring (Optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Line two 9" round cake pans with parchment paper (If doing 6 different colored layers you will need to repeat 3 times)
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time until blended
  5. Mix the baking powder and flour together and then fold into the mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk.
  6. Mix only until combined
  7. *If doing 6 different colored layers then separate the batter into 6 equal parts (approx. 1½ cups of batter per layer) and add food coloring to each one.
  8. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched.

Dreamworks Trolls Inspired Birthday Party
Click here to read the full party details

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The Perfect Mom Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.

I have never been much of a baker.  In our family, my husband comes from a family of bakers and I don’t just mean Christmas cookies.  I mean, my husband’s father is an Italian pastry chef who has owned multiple bakeries in his lifetime and even baked for the Queen of England.  Who can compete with that?

I always wanted to be one of those “perfect” moms who could whip up the most delicious chocolate chip cookies as an after school snack.

I tried and failed many times since becoming a mom.  They either turned out too flat or too hard or too chewy.  I gave up for a little while and resorted to buying store bought Pillsbury ready-made cookie dough.  And while I didn’t hide the fact, or try to disguise them as my own, I couldn’t help but feel like a complete failure as a mother.  My kids, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind one bit – as long as they got cookies they didn’t care how they came to be.

But I was determined!  I just wanted to be able to grab some ingredients from around my kitchen and make some cookies whenever I wanted – I didn’t want to have to go out and buy cookie dough!

Pinterest is my go-to source for all things recipe related and no matter how many different cookie recipes I tried, I could never get them to turn out right.  The list of ingredients were fairly similar – butter, flour, eggs, sugar, etc., so I knew the secret had to be in the method.

It’s been 7 years in the making but I’ve finally perfected it – a classic, soft, gooey-centered chocolate chip cookie that you can bake for your kids as an after school school or on a weekend and feel like a hero.

Here are my TOP THREE TIPS to make sure these chocolate chip cookies come out perfectly!

1. use room temperature butter

Don’t rush this process!  I load up on butter when it’s on sale, throw it in the deep freeze and move one brick to the fridge when I need to, so if you’re like me – this is going to take some planning and forethought.  In the past, I’ve tried every method from defrosting butter in the microwave to grating it into little pieces and it’s never turned out well for me.  Take it out of the fridge in the morning and by the afternoon it should be ready to go!

2. chill the dough

It seems redundant that you would have to soften your butter and then chill it again but you want your butter to melt in the oven once it’s holding together all the other ingredients. So give it at least 2 hours in the fridge (if your butter was super warm and soft when you mixed the batter, leave it in longer.)  You don’t want the dough to dry out in the fridge, though, so make sure to keep it in an airtight container OR cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  Warm batter will result in thin, flat cookies which will over bake and won’t be soft.

*Bonus Tip:  You can make a double batch and freeze it for instant cookies any day!

3. don’t over bake 

The recipe calls for 12 – 15 minutes at 350°F but ovens vary.  Set your timer for 10 minutes and then keep a close eye on them after that.  I take mine out at 11 minutes.  The size and shape that you make them will affect the baking time also.  I tend to keep mine on the smaller side for the kids (about 1 tablespoon of batter).  You want to look for a VERY slight golden color around the edges but they should be puffed up all the way across (not sunken in the middle).

 

The Perfect Mom Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
A classic chocolate chip recipe for thick, soft cookies the kids will love!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup softened butter (room temperature)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a stand mixer (you can do this by hand but a mixer is preferred) cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Use the highest setting on your mixer and mix for 1 - 2 minutes.
  2. Add in the egg, vanilla, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Add in the flour and mix on low speed until just combined.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand.
  5. Transfer the cookie dough into an airtight container and CHILL for at least 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
  8. Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough onto sheet or roll into small balls spacing 2 -3 inches apart
  9. Bake for 10 -12 minutes. Look for the cookies to puff up all the way across, not sunken in the middle and a slight golden color on the edges.

 


 

Mommy is who I pretend to be

I might be a full time stay-at-home mom but that doesn’t mean that I am “MOMMY” all the time.  In fact, the person I am when my kids aren’t looking is a very different person…

MOMMY is patient.  Mommy will allow the children to put on their own pyjamas.  She will watch as they put their leg repeatedly into the same hole and coach them through it with enthusiasm.

I am not patient.  In fact, having to watch someone struggle to do something that I know I could do without any effort is an effective method of torture for me.

MOMMY can listen to long elaborate stories that don’t make any sense.  She even makes eye contact and nods and smiles and laughs and makes sad faces and asks questions.

I prefer a “get to the point” type of story.  I especially despise the stories that have no point whatsoever.

MOMMY is never too tired to read one more book.

So.  F#%^ing.  Exhausted.

MOMMY cooks healthy meals and stresses the importance of eating vegetables and trying new foods.

New food makes me uneasy.  If I could order pizza every night I would.

MOMMY takes the kids for walks to the playground because fresh air and exercise are important.

The gym and I are not friends.  I don’t like to walk or run or climb things.  I like park benches.  Or the swings, I could do the swings as long as I don’t pump my legs too much because that’s tiring and I don’t want to be sore tomorrow.

MOMMY doesn’t let the kids watch too much television.

Binge-watching Netflix should be an Olympic sport.

MOMMY has strict limits on video games and tablet time.

My internet went down once for an entire hour.  Worst hour of my life.

MOMMY is not afraid to speak up, to call someone out or to walk around covered in spilled milkshake.

I get embarrassed pretty easily so I try to avoid awkward situations at all costs.

MOMMY is a teacher.  She can come up with age appropriate lesson plans for preschoolers and has the ability to help her children figure out the right answer on their own.

Who really needs math anyway? That’s what calculators are for…

MOMMY realizes that making memories can be messy.

#NeatFreak #OCD #ewwmyhandsaredirty

I know I sound like a total hypocrite.  Why can’t I just be myself around my kids? Because I want them to be BETTER THAN ME.

The world has changed me from an innocent, fun-loving child to a grumpy and tired adult and I’ll be damned if that’s what my children see me as.  So I pretend to be excited about every little thing.  I pretend to have a limitless energy supply.  I pretend to be a good example for them to follow in the hopes that they will grow up to become a better person than I am. (And, while I don’t want to admit it, I think all this pretending might actually be turning me into a better person.)

But one thing that MOMMY and I have in common is that we will both do anything for our children, no matter how embarrassing or exhausting it may be.