New Home For Triage From Home!

Don't forget:
I'm transitioning my blog over to my own domain, so please come and visit there. For the time being, I will continue to update both blogs so I don't lose anyone, but please update your following status and bookmarks to my new page:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Win Your Choice From Juicybags - and lots more!!

I'm participating in a HUGE giveaway contest on one of my favourite blogs. Please check it out at His Boys Can Swim. If you're pregnant or a parent, you could win one of 31 prizes, worth close to $1600 in total, including your choice of anything from MY SHOP! There are going to be 31 winners, so it's really exciting and you'll have a lot of fun doing your entries. Their blog explains all about how to enter. See you there:-)

Good luck!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Couch Surfing?

I mentioned a few posts ago that my daughter and her friend packed up and took off on an adventure to Alberta a couple of weeks ago. Against my (better, I think) judgment, off they went in her friend's car, with barely a dime between them, no job prospects, a shaky plan about where to stay and really no idea what they were doing. Not to mention, driving through the Rocky Mountains in winter. I ended up paying for them to stay in hotels for 2 nights on the way there so they wouldn't be trying to sleep in the car or drive for 24 hours straight (I can remember being 19 pretty well sometimes!)
I continue to struggle with my maternal urge to protect her and the desire to let her learn from this experience...
They started out staying in an apartment that her friend's father owns in the city. It turned out that the apartment was connected to a business that he has there and they weren't able to stay more than a few days. They both got jobs in a restaurant after about a week. Then, they got a 2-day gig over the weekend, house-sitting for someone who works in the office.

Here's the situation now:
Since Sunday, they have been 'winging it', staying at some random friend's house and sometimes sleeping in the underground car park under the apartment building. This is where I started getting "nervous".

Ok, a bit more than nervous maybe:-) My brain was screaming "ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY? YOU COULD BE RAPED OR KILLED!!" but I restrained myself slightly and said something like "I bet that's cold."

Then I talked to her today and she was hanging out in her friend's car all day while her friend was at work. When asked where they were going to go tonight, she had no answer.
My brain screamed again "MY CHILD IS HOMELESS! I MUST SAVE HER!"
but I said something like "do you guys have any idea where you could go?"
Of course, she had no ideas and said they would probably stay in the car park tonight.
Well, my maternal super-hero couldn't resist. I started looking up hostels in Calgary online and found one not too far from where they were. I ended up faxing my credit card info to the hostel so they could stay there tonight. *sigh* Of course, Aly was all teary and thankful and sorry they hadn't planned it all better, etc, etc, etc...

So now my brain is screaming (a little less loudly now) "what are they going to do tomorrow?" and then my sweet, wonderful husband sent me an IM saying 'what about couch-surfing?'
So, off I went on my google search, and found which is an online community of folks all over the world who offer up their couches, extra beds, and sometimes a room to travelers for a night or a few nights....for FREE! What a neat concept. I had read a bit about it on SparklytoSingle's blog. She had an interesting experience in Europe with couch surfing, (and stirred up quite a controversy on her comments) but I'm not going to think about that right now:-) Besides, I've only sent requests to couch-offering females. Now, I'm just waiting to hear back from a (hopefully nice, kind, sweet, friendly) person who will allow my child to crash on her couch for free.

Whew, this teen stuff gets more and more challenging. Moms of 20-somethings keep telling me it gets better...I sure hope so. This has got me sprouting grey hairs everyday!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Home For Triage From Home

I'm transitioning my blog over to my own domain, so please come and visit there. For the time being, I will continue to update both blogs so I don't lose anyone, but please update your following status and bookmarks to my new page:

I've found a wonderful graphic artist to develop a custom theme for my new blog and I'm really excited about that. The trouble is- she is very busy so I have to wait a couple of weeks until she has a chance to work on it for me. In the meantime, my new blog looks a bit plain, but hopefully it is clear and easy to navigate around. Let me know if you have any suggestions to make it better while I wait for it to be revamped and beautified:-)

Ooh La La Mama! Start Your Bids!

Please place all bids at the new blog site HERE

I've decided to start posting the auctions more frequently than once weekly because I've been getting lots of wonderful donations of products and I can't wait that long to share them all with you!
Don't forget that the Love Letters Wall Monogram auction is still continuing to take bids until Feb 23rd, so get your bids in quick.

Today's auction was very generously donated by Cindy from Ooh La La Mama! a very unique clothing store for kids. Cindy has offered up for auction ANY ITEM on her site! The winning bidder can choose his or her very favourite item and in the perfect size:-)

Cindy is a full-time ER doctor, as well as a mom of two little ones herself. You can read all about how she got her clothing line started on her website. If you browse around there a little, you might find some pictures of the celebrities who love her kids' apparel too:-)

Here's How To BID (it's easy!):

1: Hop over to Ooh La La Mama! Have a look around to choose your favourite item from the shop.

2. Come back here and leave a comment, telling us:
a) the name of your favourite item
b) the $ amount of your bid for the item you want!

3. Check back often during the week, to see if you've been out-bid. You may bid as often as you like.

4. Bid increments for this item will be $1 minumum (for example: if the highest current bid is $10, you must bid $11 or more)

5. Bidding starts at only $10.00 for YOUR CHOICE of any item from this shop!

Bidding for this item will end at 12:00 noon PST on Feb 25th.
Winners will be notified by email and must respond within 48 hours with their shipping details. Item will be shipped directly from the supplier.

All payments for items won can be paid via my online donation page at the End Cancer website (or I can invoice you via Paypal if you prefer) Net proceeds from the walk go directly to the BC Cancer Foundation.
Your item will be shipping directly to you from the donating shop owner.

Want to see your products here?
Please contact me at helen(at)triagefromhome(dot)com if you would like to donate something for the weekly auction. I would love to showcase your shop and products. Let's help each other!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Winner of the Sweetheart Pendant Giveaway!

And the winner is: (chosen by the random integer generator)

Danetta, who said:

"Everything in her shop looks so fabulous! One of my favorites is the Another Dimension Sprinkle Star Pendant"

Congratulations Danetta!
Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway.
Please shop at Everythingsblue's Shop- her jewellery is so much fun!

Brainstorming For Fundraising Ideas

So, ever since I signed up the other day to do this 60 km walk for breast cancer, I've been brainstorming to try to come up with ways to help me raise my goal amount of $3200.00 in donations by August.
I've started the online auctions, as you can see by yesterday's post, and I got the first bid today-- Yippee!
Some of the other ideas I've been bouncing around:

1) Holding a BIG yard sale next month, once the weather warms up a little.

Since I'm not much of a hoarder, I don't have a lot of stuff to sell, so I'm thinking of dropping a flyer in everyone's mail slots in the neighourhood asking for donations of stuff to sell.
I found some 'Awareness Ribbon' shaped cookie cutters online, so I thought of making pink-iced ribbon cookies.
I also found pink ribbon temporary tattoos for sale online for cheap. I could sell those to the kids:-)
My brother suggested checking craigslist in the FREE section regularly and trying to pick up anything nearby that might be worth selling.
I thought of selling pink balloons, seeing if I can wangle the donation of a helium tank for them.
Perhaps getting a cotton candy machine rental donated.
I know signage is a big one. Will have to make some clear signage and draw big pink awareness ribbons on it.
Of course, I'll advertise it everywhere FREE I can find- craigslist, etc.

This is starting to sound like a circus...LOL

Anyone else have any good fund raising ideas?
Any good tips on how to have a successful yard sale?

I just had a little fund raising fantasy sitting here while I'm working: I was thinking that if everyone who is following me on Twitter donated $1 to my fund-- I'd be nearly done:-)
(I told you it was a fantasy, but it's nice to think something like that is possible!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Love Letters- Auction for Breast Cancer Walk!

Here is the first item up for auction to raise funds to sponsor my 60 km walk this August, during the Weekend To End Breast Cancer!
There will be lots of auctions here, so please keep coming back to check them out. There will be some GREAT products offered here that I know you're going to love.

Today, we have a Custom Monogram Wall Decal, graciously donated by Rebekah at Love Letters. The colours will be customized to the winner's preference, as will the name (child's name, last name, etc.)

I recently purchased 2 custom wall decals from her shop and they are great! Excellent quality and she was so much fun, friendly and easy to work with. You can see my LoveLetters decals here.

Rebekah is a former TV News Reporter turned stay-at-home mom. She loves words, writing, quotes, quips, you name it. She wanted to do something that would allow her to stay home with her children, working only when they sleep, but also combine her love of words and creating. Thus, Love Letters Vinyl Lettering was born. It's truly a labor of love. She LOVES finding a new quote and turning it into a design, doing custom work, and knowing that her designs will be a part of a home. But most of all, She LOVES her little family and the blessing that this business has been for them.

Here's How To BID (it's easy!):

1: Hop over to Love Letters. Have a look around to choose your favourite item from her shop.

2. Come back here and leave a comment, telling us:
a) the name of your favourite item
b) the $ amount of your bid for the auction prize item.

3. Check back often during the week, to see if you've been out-bid. You may bid as often as you like.

4. Bid increments for this item will be $1 minumum (for example: if the highest current bid is $10, you must bid $11 or more)

5. Bidding starts at only $5.00 for this lovely Custom Wall Monogram!

Bidding for this item will end at 12:00 noon on Feb 23rd. I will notify the winner via email and once payment is made, Rebekah will be notified so she can ship the prize.
Anyone can bid, as Rebekah has agreed to ship the item anywhere (thank you Rebekah!)

All payments for items won can be paid via my online donation page at the End Cancer website (or I can invoice you via Paypal if you prefer) Net proceeds from the walk go directly to the BC Cancer Foundation.
Your item will be shipping directly to you from the donating shop owner.

Want to see your products here?
Please contact me at helen(at)triagefromhome(dot)com if you would like to donate something for the weekly auction. I would love to showcase your shop and products. Let's help each other!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Before She Grows Boobs!

I did it!! Today, I registered to walk 60km over 3 days in August to raise money for breast cancer research. I have been thinking about doing this walk for several years, but was always put off by the seemingly HUGE task of trying to raise at least $2000 in donations.
This year, I'm pretty sure with the help of my blog and twitter that I can do it! I'm open to ideas as well.
My first idea is to ask for donations of items I can promote and sell via 'auction style' bidding here on the blog. I will post up one item per week and take bids all week. Bids can be made by leaving a comment under the posting of the item you are interested in. The item will be sold to the highest bidder and all funds will be collected directly via my personal online donation page at the Weekend to End Breast Cancer website. That way, I don't have to handle the funds at all and bidders can feel comfortable in knowing the funds are going directly to the cause! The items will be sent out directly by the person donating them- just like during a normal blog giveaway.

Please let me know if you'd like to help by donating a product. I will promote you and your shop and will require bidders to visit your shop to choose their favorite items when they are bidding.

If you'd like to make a direct money donation to help me, you can donate directly here. The first 5 people to donate will get a free Juicybags coin purse! Leave me a comment on this post after you've made your donation and I'll connect with you for a shipping address:-)

I'll be walking in honor of my aunt, Sharon who died much too young from breast cancer. She wasn't there to attend her daughters' weddings, or to meet the 4 grandchildren they have had since she died. She didn't get to meet my wonderful husband or to come to my wedding either.
I also walk in honor of my father, Frank who died of cancer a few months before my aunt and has been gone for 10 years now. He missed so much too.

I miss them both very much and I hope by walking in this event, the money I raise can help to prevent other people from missing out on great times with their friends and family.
Let's find a cure for breast cancer SOON!

Winner Chosen for Juicybags Giveaway

I recently donated one of my totes for a giveaway on Keeper Of The Cheerios blog. The winner was chosen: (drum roll please)

Kelly from Circular Logic -- an Orange and Strawberry Kiwi Totebag is coming your way!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vinyl Wall Decals = Fun!

I just finished putting up some really fun wall decals that I bought on Etsy from a shop called Love Letters. They look great and I think they add a sense of humor to my laundry room and the kids' downstairs bathroom.

I was thinking of asking the shop owner if she would like to do a giveaway contest. I'm really pleased with the product and she was wonderful with creating these custom decals for me to my specifications.

If you know teenagers, you know that you sometimes wish you could charge for showers and supplies!

The bathroom is quite small, so it was hard to get a good photo of this one, but you get the idea:-)

Yeay! Rebekah from Love Letters has agreed to do a giveaway on my blog on Monday, so come back then to enter!

Juicybags Camera Cases

I recently did a custom order for an Etsy customer. One of the things she was looking for was a small case for her pocket camera, to prevent it getting scratched up in her purse. Most regular camera cases are padded and quite bulky and not practical for tucking inside a purse. I created these little Juicybags camera pouches for her.
The sides are made from strips of recycled denim, just like my larger totebags. I may tweak the design a bit, perhaps using a narrower bias tape for the edges, and make some more for my Etsy Shop.
What do you think?

Winner of My First Giveaway!

I chose the winner for my first weekly giveaway by using an online random integer generator. The winner of the set of prints from John W. Golden is:

Erin from Dinner Time Chimes
Congratulations Erin!

Thanks everyone for entering!
Please enter this week's giveaway contest for a really adorable Sweetheart Pendant from Everythingsblue

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday- My guys

One of my favorite pictures from 2001 of Jon and Devon.
Love my guys...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Swiss Breakfast Muesli

We had swiss style muesli like this when we were on a cruise with Holland America Lines in 2005 for our honeymoon. It was so yummy, but I'm sure their recipe was loaded with high fat ingredients. After we got home, I googled it to see if I could find a recipe. I found this healthy version and I try to make it as often as I can. It's low-fat and full of those 'super foods' like oats, almonds, yogurt, apples and honey. Try it and let me know what you think. It's the only breakfast that keeps me going well into the afternoon without getting hungry, and it's really tasty too.
Wish I could get my teenage son to eat this, but he'd rather have Cap'n Crunch...bleah:-(

2 cups large flake oats (not quick oats)
1 cup low-fat milk (I use 1% because that's what we drink)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 cored and grated apple (I leave the peel on)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
low-fat vanilla yogurt (or any flavour you like)

Mix oats, honey and milk together. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning, transfer it to a larger bowl and add almonds and grated apple. Mix well. If you're eating it all right away, mix in enough yogurt to make the consistency you like, divide it up into bowls and serve.
This makes 4 large servings, so we like to add the yogurt to each serving just before we eat it and store the rest in the fridge till the next day.
Fresh fruit is great on this too, cut up grapes or berries....yummmy!


Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Giveaway - Sweetheart Pendant

I'm so excited about this week's giveaway. I recently bought an adorable heart pendant for my daughter from Maria at Everythingsblue on Etsy. It was a big hit and the best thing was that none of her friends had anything like it;-) Maria's resin jewellery is so much fun to wear.

She has offered up one of her latest heart pendant designs to one of my lucky readers! This pendant is so SWEET in every way. Yes, those are real candy sprinkles encased in resin. It looks good enough to eat!

Maria lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons. She does all sorts of different crafts, like crochet, knitting, sewing, and a little painting but resin is her true love!
She's a self-proclaimed resin junkie and partakes in her craft when everyone else is snoozing. She started her Etsy shop in May 2008 to support her resin habit and has never looked back!

It's so simple to Enter to WIN this adorable pendant:

**Just hop over to Maria's shop here, have a look around and then come back here and leave a comment telling us about your favorite item in her shop (don't forget to leave your email for contact)**

For additional entries:

1. Follow me on Twitter here
2. Follow my blog.
3. Add a link back to this giveaway on your own blog (give us the URL in a comment here)
4. Blog about this giveaway with a link back here (worth 3 extra entries!)
5. Add my blog to your blogroll

Please leave a separate comment for each of your entries. The contest will run for a week, from Feb 9nd till Feb 16th at noon (or as soon as I get a chance to do the draw that day)
Winner will be announced here and will be contacted via email or through their blog. The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn and you'll forfeit your prize. One entry per an entry method per person.

Good luck everyone!
Maria will ship the prize anywhere, so everyone can enter.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gonna Be a Wordpress Girl

Jon is transferring my blog over to our own domain and we'll be using the Wordpress software for it. I'm excited because it's going to add lots more functionality:-) and FUN I hope!
I'd like to get customized 'look', something like Miranda's blog at Keeper of the Cheerios. I love the way her blog looks; so fresh, cute and fun, and it's so easy to follow her links to the different categories with the tabs across the top.

On a completely different subject: My oldest has (temporarily) flown the coop! She and her friend took a road trip to Calgary and are settling in for a yet-undetermined-length stay. They've barely got a dime left between them after the trip to get there (12 hours on a the highway through the mountains) but it sounds like they are doing okay so far. It's an uncomfortable feeling knowing she is so far away and that if she needed me urgently I wouldn't be able to get to her right away. She's been calling every day though. Even today I was looking up the Alberta Health advice nurse number for her. "Mom, I have such a sore throat, I can barely swallow!"
Then I see from her facebook photos, she was out clubbing last night (their first night in town!) so maybe she used her voice a bit too much...? heehee...
It's so true what they say about being a mom: It never ends. My mom still worries about me and my sibs, so why would I be different? Just gotta hope that some of the stuff I've been nagging about for 19 years sunk in, right?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday Tips- Kids and Fever

Fever is so misunderstood in general.
I answer many calls about fevers every day, mostly from worried parents. When I worked in the pediatric emergency room, many patients visited with fever everyday.
Fever scares parents. It's easy to understand why, since some very serious illnesses present with fever as one of the symptoms; such as influenza, pneumonia, and meningitis. The truth is that most childhood fevers are due to mild viral illnesses which require nothing more than home treatment, and will last for less than 3-4 days. Fever is the body's natural way of resisting infections. Fever all by itself is not dangerous in any way and is part of the body's defense system. It is normal for a fever to fluctuate over the course of the day.
You might wonder why doctors and nurses advise giving medication to reduce fever, since most fevers are helpful. Well, if you've ever had a fever yourself you know how it makes you feel: shivery and uncomfortable, achy and tired. Taking fever medications like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (Ibuprophen) can bring the fever down temporarily to give comfort and allow the patient to rest.
It's important to realize that these medications don't affect the underlying cause of the fever and have only a short term affect. They also need to be given carefully according to your child's age and weight. If you're unsure, always check with a pharmacist to clarify the safe dosage to give.

Myth #1: Fever causes brain damage and seizures

The truth is, a normal childhood fever won't cause brain damage. The brain controls how high a person's temperature can go. Occasionally, a young child can have what is called a febrile seizure, meaning a seizure caused by fever. It is believed that these seizures are caused by the body's temperature rising rapidly. A seizure like this may look very frightening, but is not dangerous or damaging. It usually lasts less than a few minutes and the child recovers quickly. It is always a good idea to seek medical attention for a seizure, especially if it lasts longer than a few minutes or it is the first one your child has had, just in case the fever is not the only cause.

Myth #2 : High fever = more serious illness than a low-grade fever

This is not always true. Children and babies often have more frequent and higher fevers than adults. Rather than focusing on how high the fever gets, it is more important to notice whether or not the fever responds to home treatment (does the fever come down at least 1 degree celsius an hour after giving fever medicine and other cooling measures? does the child 'perk up' after the fever comes down?) and to notice what other symptoms the child might have:

Things to check for:
Breathing: Is your child breathing rapidly and shallow? Is she wheezing or having other noisy sounds with breathing? Is her colour pale? Is she having a hard time nursing from the breast or bottle because she has to break suction to breathe? Does he have a persistent cough?
Hydration: Is your child still drinking fluids well? Having wet diapers or urinating at least once every 6-8 hours? Is the urine pale or dark? Is your child having vomiting or diarrhea?
Level of Alertness: Is your child alert when awake? Confused or very irritable? (It's fairly normal for a child to be a bit clingy and tired when the fever is high, but he should perk up somewhat when the fever comes down) Does your child respond to you normally?
Any other symptoms: Complaints of pain, excessive crying that is hard to comfort, pink/cloudy or foul-smelling urine. A new rash or bruising. Neck stiffness or pain and headache. In babies- is there a bulging or sunken area over the soft spot on the scalp?
Prior Medical history: Any prior medical conditions, such as being born prematurely or having a congential heart condition, diabetes or asthma can make your child at higher risk in cases of milder illnesses.

Myth #3 : It Is Urgent to Bring a Child's Fever Down to Normal

As mentioned, since fever is not dangerous, it's not urgent to bring it down. If your child is sleeping comfortably there is no need to wake him to give medication for fever. Simply remove any extra layers of blankets and keep the house at a comfortable temperature. A hot environment and too much clothing will make it difficult for your child's body to let off the extra heat to cool itself. If he becomes too hot and uncomfortable, he will wake up to let you know.
Cold or even cool baths are not necessary and are actually very uncomfortable when a child has fever. They will usually cry and resist, get goose bumps all over and start shivering. Shivering is actually the body's way of trying to warm the skin, so this will work against trying to bring the fever down. If your child wants a bath, make sure the water is warm enough that it doesn't cause shivering.
Dress your child lightly in enough clothing to cover and prevent shivering. Give fever medicine if the child is uncomfortable and re-check the temperature after an hour.
Sometimes older children with a fever will find it soothing to have a cool cloth on their forehead, but just for comfort, not to try to cool their body down.

IMPORTANT note about babies under 3 months of age:

ANY fever (37.6 C or higher, measured under the armpit) in a baby under 3 months of age should be evaluated by a doctor immediately, even in the absence of other symptoms. Very young babies don't have a well-developed immune system and are at higher risk for serious illness.

Here is a really helpful website to refer to if you'd like to use an online tool to go through a symptom checklist to decide if your child needs medical attention for any symptom. Just type the symptom into the 'enter health topic' field and click on the GO button.

For example:
If I type in "fever" the first 2 results are:

'fever, ages 3 and under' and 'fever, ages 4 and older'

Choose the appropriate topic, then click on "check your symptoms" in the right hand list. This will guide you through a list of yes/no questions which will help you decide if your child needs more than just home treatment. It's very easy to navigate.

There are over 3000 topics to choose from with lots of detail and resources listed, and all the information is updated regularly to keep it current. It's a fantastic resource for any parent to have in their bookmarks.

* As always, the information I share here is general and comes from reliable sources, as well as my pediatric nursing experience. It doesn't replace a doctor's advice and is not meant to diagnose. If you are concerned about your child's symptoms, you should always contact your doctor for specific advice *

Monday, February 2, 2009

My first Monday Giveaway!

I'm so excited about my FIRST weekly blog giveaway! John W. Golden's work is wonderful and he was kind enough to offer this set of three 5x7 prints from his Lunastrella series for my readers. This is my favorite set from his site, but since I can't win them, I am putting them on my wish list. I also love the print of the low-top sneakers. His prints can be made with many different colour backgrounds, to fit in with any colour scheme.

His Etsy shop is here
Etsy just did a feature on John the other day and it's here

John been involved in art since he was 11 years old. In that time, he has created a large catalog of work in photography and illustration, and his commercial work in design and animation has been seen on Cartoon Network, Animal Planet, Nickelodeon, CBS, TNT, TBS, PBS, and TechTV.

He creates all his work digitally, mostly starting with a blank screen and using the mouse or a pen and graphics tablet to create an image. He uses scans in his collage work, but everything else is painted or drawn within the computer.

Here's how to enter to WIN this great set of fun space prints! It's so easy...

** Visit John's Etsy shop here, then come back here and leave a message telling us about your favorite item from his shop**

For additional chances to win:

1. Follow me on Twitter here
2. Follow my blog.
3. Add a link back to this giveaway on your own blog (give us the URL in a comment here)
4. Blog about this giveaway with a link back here (worth 3 extra entries!)
5. Add my blog to your blogroll

Please leave a separate comment for each of your entries. The contest will run for a week, from Feb 2nd till Feb 9th at noon (or as soon as I get a chance to do the draw that day)
Winner will be announced here and will be contacted via email or through their blog. The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn and you'll forfeit your prize. One entry per an entry method per person.

Good luck everyone!
John will ship the prize anywhere, so everyone can enter.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Sad Ending

I've been a member of an email group through Yahoo for several years. I think I joined around 2001. It's a support group for couples in long distance relationships. Most of us had met our partners over the internet in one way or another. The group is moderated by a couple who live in Australia (her) and Texas (him) Their story was so inspiring to me at the time because they had been having a long distance relationship (LDR, we call it) for a few years by that time. I was in awe of the strength they seemed to have and the fun they would have when they were together. They were determined to keep their relationship strong, despite not knowing if they would ever be able to live together. There were some obstacles and I don't know all the details-but she had children and he couldn't travel for some reason. So, she would travel to Texas to visit him whenever she could, and they would share their stories with the rest of us and we would try to comfort them when they were apart.
During all this, my husband Jon and I were having our own LDR. He was in England and I was here in Canada. We knew we would eventually be together, but it was a rough few years before it actually happened. Jon has been here for 5 years now and I've stayed on the LDR email group, mainly just to keep in touch with what was going on with the other couples, but also because I wanted to be there if and when the Texas/Australia couple were ever able to become an NDR (near distance relationship:-) I wanted to see their happy ending.
Well, today she sent a message to tell us that after 11 years of their LDR, he passed away yesterday in Texas- just a few days after she had to go back to Australia. He had been quite ill for a few years, but I don't think anyone can ever be prepared for the end. She is so devastated. My heart is heavy for Carolyn tonight. Rest peacefully Donn.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Green Thursday- for Swingers!

As you can probably tell by the crafts I make- I'm into re-use and recycling. I've decided to start a regular Thursday posting dedicated to earth-friendly topics. Could be a product review, giveaway, advice on being green, websites of interest on the topic or anything else I can think of:-)
If you are making or selling something 'green' and you'd like me to blog about it, please contact me.
I chose Thursdays because it's our garbage and recycling pick-up day. Maybe it will help me remember to get the bins out to the curb on time...yeah right! Let's see, I need a title for it, maybe 'Green Thursdays', or perhaps 'Oh-Crap-I-Forgot-Again'

Today, I'm going to show you something TOTALLY cool, made out of recycled tires. I remember seeing something similar to this quite a few years ago when my kids were small. I wanted to buy one, but at the time we didn't have our own yard, so I had nowhere to hang it. I just surfed around this morning, trying to find it online and I found this:

Close The Loop is a company in Kunkletown, PA (love the name) that makes the most incredible kids' swings out of recycled tires. I'm not just talking your normal run-of-the-mill tire swings here- not even CLOSE. Check these out:

Yes! A motorcycle!

...and a dragon!
Not to mention all the others they have pictured on their site, including a kangaroo, an airplane, a shark (so cool!), an elephant, a T-Rex and many more.

They're priced from around $90 to $120, depending on the design, which I think is very fair, considering they are handcrafted and so creative.

Looks like the only deliver inside the USA *pout*, not that I have anyone to buy one of these for at the moment...but Canada isn't like overseas or anything, sheesh.
Anyway, all you lucky American parents and kids can go and check them out or buy one of these swings here

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Update on Pretty In Pink

What is wrong with the marketing department at CapriSun? How dare they change their packaging without consulting me? Don't they realize that some people LIKE pink? Lots of pink...entirely PINK?!
Nope, I don't think they considered me in this decision. Not only can I NOT get them here in Canada, now it looks like the pouch on the right is the new packaging that I'm stuck with from now on. What do you think? Are my bags still going to be pretty, even if they aren't ENTIRELY pink?

The Laundry Room- Loads of Fun

It's funny what kinds of things get me excited:-) My sweet and smart husband built these shelves and work surface (bracket system is Antonius from Ikea) for our laundry room. Check out the fold-down drying rack above the sink. Ikea ROCKS! The shelves he cut and finished himself so we could do custom sizes. We just bought the new machines from Sears, after our 30+ year old existing dryer stopped working. The laundry sink is quite new too. The old one was falling off its broken legs when we moved in. Looking at these before and after photos you can see that pretty much everything has been replaced. The back door was replaced when we changed all the windows and doors in '05. Jon put an electronic combination lock on it so the kids don't have to worry about forgetting their keys. (trouble is- they tell all their friends the combination!) All we need now is the new floor, but I promised I wouldn't go there just yet...

I painted the room Cabbage Patch green a few months ago and I love it. Don't you just love paint names? Sometimes I think the colour names influence my choices. My living room paint is Warm Muffin and my dining room is Ryegrass. The only one I think I didn't like the name of was the bathroom-- Candlewax...reminds me of earwax- eww!
Anyway, I it's time to find some nice storage boxes and open bins to use on the shelves to make it look all tidy and Ikea-Catalogue-ish.

Update: High praise came from my 16 year old son Devon, who said "hey, the laundry room actually looks like a laundry room now"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Tips

As you know by my little bio up there in the corner, I'm an RN. I have 15 years experience in Pediatrics, mostly from the emergency department in a children's hospital. For the past 5 years I've been working as a telephone advice nurse. As you can probably guess, I get many calls from parents about everything from A to Z, including growth and development and symptoms of illness.
There are many subjects that come up over and over again. I thought I would address one question here each week to try to shed some light on some of the common concerns. I would love it if readers added their comments. If you have a question you'd like me to cover here, please send it to

**This information is not a replacement for your doctor's advice and I don't diagnose. All the information I share is from reliable sources and my nursing experience and is general in nature. For advice on a specific child's situation, please consult your Health Care Provider**

Today's Question: Why won't my toddler eat?

This is a very common issue and there are many things that contribute to feeding problems in this age group. I get so many calls about this and the problems that it causes. First, it's important to remember that a toddler's stomach is very small and their appetite is easily satisfied with small amounts of food.

Bottles and Sippys
Keeping their stomach size in mind, if they are drinking milk or juice (anything other than plain water) from a bottle and/or sippy cup throughout the day or night, their appetite will be low for other foods. Excessive milk or juice consumption is a big problem for toddlers. It can cause tooth decay when bottles and sippy cups are used as pacifiers. It can also cause constipation and iron deficiency anemia.

Too Much Cow's Milk or Juice
Did you know that a toddler's daily milk intake should be limited to 16 ounces per day? That's 2 cups over 24 hours. Juice should be limited to 4 ounces per day. It can be offered in small servings at meals. Milk or juice is not a good snack if it exceeds their daily requirements. Teaching your child to use an open cup early on (while seated to prevent spilling and choking) rather than carrying a bottle or sippy is preferable. Other dairy products like yogurt or cheeses should be given in moderation as well. Remember that servings for toddlers should be smaller. Drinking too much milk can also contribute to iron deficiency anemia, because milk is very low in iron. Anemia makes kids sluggish and tired and can interfere with brain development. I once cared for a child who was 3 years old and drank ONLY cow's milk and drank it constantly from a bottle. She ate no solid foods other than pancakes. Her anemia was so severe that she didn't even have the energy to play. Of course, this is a very extreme example!

When I child drinks milk or juice at night, the natural sugars in milk or juice pool around the emerging teeth and erode the enamel. There is even a name for it: Nursing Bottle Caries. Many parents don't even know their children have this problem until it causes them pain and needs surgical intervention. The cavities (or caries) begin behind the upper and lower front teeth so they often aren't noticed until they spread around the teeth or cause pain. As you can imagine, damaged teeth can affect the child's desire to eat solid foods. The teeth often require extraction or crowns. It's heartbreaking to see a young child with rotted or missing front teeth from such a preventable problem!
Too much milk and dairy products can also cause constipation. Constipation can be very painful and can become worse once toilet teaching begins. If milk or dairy products replace fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your child's diet, bowel problems are very likely at some point. If your child starts to resist toileting due to fear of pain, the constipation will become worse and then the cycle begins. Once constipation becomes a long-term pattern, it takes a long period of treatment with diet and sometimes stool softeners or other treatments to get it under control.

So, you might be wondering if that's enough fluid for a child to drink in a day. Well, water is the best thing for thirst and will also help to prevent constipation. Plain water should be available to your child throughout the day to quench thirst. It won't satisfy hunger the way milk or juice does, so your child will be more likely to try new foods and eat more solid foods. If you are trying to transition away from a night-time bottle or sippy cup, try offering water only in the bottle, although it is obviously much better to avoid starting the bottle-in-bed habit than to try to change it later on! Get your own water bottle and model water-drinking to your child.

Variety and Autonomy
It's important to offer your child a choice of a few different foods at each meal and serve them food when other family members are eating. Make mealtime enjoyable but not distracting. No TV, video games or toys at the table. Let them feed themselves (I know it's messy, but it's all part of the learning) and offer milk or juice after the meal instead of alongside. Meals and snacks should only be served with the child safely seated to reduce the risk of choking. A suggestion for breakfast might be: a small bowl of hot whole-grain cereal, a few pieces of cut-up fruit and 1/2 a scrambled egg, with 2-4 ounces of milk offered in a cup after he's finished eating. He may not eat it all, but he will likely eat more than if you offer only one food. Allow your child to decide when he is full. Don't force him to eat more than he wants. It's important for him to learn to eat to satisfy hunger, not to please Mom! Focus on offering whole grains breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables at each meal. Since toddlers' stomachs are tiny (and their attention spans are short!) 3 small meals and 2-3 snacks per day are recommended.
If you are breastfeeding, nursing after meals is preferable at the toddler stage, to encourage the child to try new foods. Breastfeeding doesn't cause the same problems as cow's milk, but limiting night-feedings can help to encourage a more varied and complete diet.

Remember to offer foods again and again periodically, even if your child rejects them the first few times. Children's tastes change, and they will often accept foods they previously refused (or threw across the room!) This is even true in my house where the kids are teenagers now, although they don't throw food (when I'm around anyway:-)
Try to offer your child similiar foods to what other family members are eating. Toddlers like to copy what older siblings and parents do. Mealtimes are excellent opportunities to model healthy eating habits.

Here is a good, general online resource for Toddler Feeding advice in PDF format.
From "Toddler's First Steps"

This is a big topic. I tried to keep it concise, but there's a lot to be discussed and I'm sure other parents have great tips to share. Feel free to comment!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Giveaway Mondays

I've been thinking about running giveaway contests here once a week. I picked Monday because I think most people would like a little something for FREE on a Monday, just to make the start of the week less painful:-)

Who wants to giveaway something in this space? I'll do a nice little write up on it, tweet about it on Twitter, (I have over 2000 followers there) and post a couple pics for you too. Great way to get traffic (and sales!) to your shop or website.
Email me and I'll get back to you so we can work out the details!

I'll need:
-photo of the item
-second photo you'd like me to include
-where you will ship to
-any other offers you'd like to add (discount for buyers during the giveaway, etc)

My Juicybags Giveaway is currently running HERE until Feb 6th, so make sure you get your entry in on time!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday love

I got this idea from another blog. Meg Fowler-She's here. I thought I'd add my 'Love List' to share. It's easy to forget all the positives in life at times and dwell on what seems to be lacking.

My Loves:

1) Jon: My very significant, significant other:-) He makes me smile everyday, just by being here. He keeps me steady, slows me down when I'm in too much of a hurry and basically keeps me going! I wondered if I'd ever find someone right for me, but he's definitely my 'other half' and I'd be lost without him.

2) Alison: My social butterfly daughter. She's a lot like I was at her age; all about the friends and the fun. She is getting prettier everyday and I see as she grows that our relationship just going to get better. We've had a rough few years, but I love her through it all and always will.

3) Devon: My sweet boy. He'll be my baby forever, even though he's nearly 17:-) Creative, smart and funny. He makes me laugh and frustrates me all at the same time. He's got a very special part of my heart forever too.

4) Mom: My kind, tiny, loving and wonderful mom. She taught me so much. She stands behind everything I do, even if she disagrees. I'd do anything for her and I know the feeling is mutual. She raised 5 children-- an incredible accomplishment for any woman. She stuck with a sometimes very difficult marriage and kept our family together. My mom has a lot to do with the person I am today. BIG love for mom:-)

5) Dad: I miss my dad very much. He died 10 years ago, but I can still see and hear him clearly in my mind. He taught me a lot. He took care of me and loved my babies. He had a tough life and wasn't always an easy person to be with, but I wish I could tell him again how much I loved him. He was proud of me and that meant a lot. I wish he'd lived long enough to know Jon. Dad would have loved him. He wanted so much for me to be happy and "taken care of" -You got your wish, dad!

6) The Sibs: I'm so lucky to have sibs that I love and can count on for anything. They are all great in their different ways. I know we will always be there for one another. I love them very much.

7) My BFF, Yvette: We've known each other longer than any other friend I have. We've been through marriages, getting jobs, losing jobs, going to school, moving away, moving back, working for peanuts, deaths, divorce, boyfriends, break-ups, babies, weight loss, weight gain, sadness, fears, joy, and everything in between. She's been there for me when I thought I had nobody who understood. She's my rock. She never judges me, just helps me see things more clearly. I don't know what I'd do without her. She's my bonus sister. She'll always be family to me. Love her, no question.

8) Buster: our crazy little neurotic Malti-poo. I love you even though you're a little nutty.
9) Molly: our silly, energetic bundle of fluffy Maltese/Yorkie cuteness.

...and the little things:

- my daffodils coming up in the garden
- morning coffee
- toast and peanut butter
- fireworks on a summer evening
- cuddling in the morning after working a night shift
- either of my kids being happy or excited about something
- ice cream
- new appliances
- the first snowfall of the season, especially snowing at night
- Christmas morning
- painting a room a new colour
- watching Jon fix things
- emails from Jon
- Devon emptying the dishwasher without being asked
- Alison calling to check in
- getting cards from Jon
- sunshine in the morning
- fresh, clean sheets
- having a fire on a cold night
- chips and salsa for dinner
- warm feet against my cold ones
- getting sale in my Etsy shop:-)
- Getting comments on my blog!

Post yours on your blog or in the comments. I'd love to read them!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Keeper of The Cheerios: Juicybags Tote Giveaway

Keeper of The Cheerios: Juicybags Tote Giveaway

Here's your chance to WIN one of my Juicybags! Click above and go visit Miranda's blog for your free chance(s) to win! Good luck:-)
**Contest is open Jan 23rd to Feb 6th at noon**

Night shifts are for the young

I mean it. Being over 40 should get you a 'get out of night shifts free' card. I remember how easy it was to do night shifts when I was a new grad. I was 23 and could sleep right through the day, waking up around 5pm in time to get ready to go back for another night. Piece of cake!

These days I struggle to stay asleep past noon between night shifts. At least working from home has made things much easier. No commute time and the freedom to work in my PJ's if I want to. (and I do)
If there's one thing I didn't know would be so difficult about being a nurse, it's working nights. Why can't people just get sick during the day time?
I just LOVE sleeping too much to work nights. I get cranky when I haven't slept enough. My kids will tell you they can tell when I haven't slept enough after work. One wrong word and you get your head bitten off.
Well...hopefully this night shift thing will be ending in March. I'm supposed to be starting a full time line with only days and evenings. Oh- to be in bed every night like a normal person...
Bring it on!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pretty In Pink

I've had a couple of customers ask about a smaller bag for little girls, or something that could be used as a handbag, so I came up with this tiny tote the other day. I made it out of CapriSun
Berry Breeze pouches which are mostly pink. It's got a velcro closure inside the top, so it could be used as a handbag or an
open-top tote bag.
I'm going to have to hunt down some more of these pink pouches, second
because the bag sold just a few minutes after I listed it in my Etsy store, and I've got at least 2 more customers that are interested in buying it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Should Have Gone Back To Bed

Ohhh yesterday was a real winner for me. Our upstairs toilet was running really slowly, so I tried using the plunger on it. That wasn't helping, so I went for the big guns and dug out the toilet snake (we have teenagers- our toilets get plugged alot!)
As I'm looking down, trying to get the end of the snake through the toilet something flies past my face, and CRASH! The handle of the snake had bumped against a heavy crystal vase that was on the window sill. The vase came down and landed on the lid of the toilet tank. Both the vase and the tank lid shattered all over the floor. I think I was just having an emotional morning for some reason...I just walked into the bedroom, sat down on the bed and started crying.

What a mess!
(then I got the camera and took a picture of the disaster so I could blog about it of course!)

Looking back on it today, it must have been quite comical to see. Especially when my daughter came upstairs and I was showing it to her and I picked up a piece of the broken porcelain off the back of the toilet tank and cut my finger on it! The day certainly didn't start out well.
Of course, it could have been alot worse. This could have happened after we'd renovated the bathroom. Luckily it was the old toilet with the giant tank that we want to get rid of anyway. We just weren't planning on replacing it NOW.

The day did eventually get better. We went downtown to the Taboo Naughty But Nice Sex Show which was lots of fun. We made a few excellent purchases and saw some crazy stuff. It's a 4-day event, so next year we'll make sure to go during the day and not on a Saturday night. It was so crowded it was hard to see the shows and no chance at all of getting a seat for any of the seminars. I was thinking that the vendors must have done incredible sales though. There was a woman there who was selling handmade corsets and period clothing. Jon asked her if she'd spent the whole year sewing to get ready for this show and she said yes. Her work was pretty amazing. Her shop is called Felix & Kitty She tied me up into a corset and WOW-- I can see now why women used to wear them. They give you a defined waist and it actually feels really comfortable. My sore back stopped hurting too! I'm not sure I could wear one all day long though.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Blog I Discovered

I came across an amazing blog the other day. I think I found them via Twitter. It's written by a young couple who are experiencing their first pregnancy. They are blogging in secret from family and friends, so that they can express every detail freely. It has a great title too: His Boys Can Swim. They call themselves Tarzan and Jane. LOL!
I LOVED being pregnant, even though everything about it wasn't enjoyable. I wished I could have had more than 2 children. I always wanted to be a mom, every since I was a little girl. I still love babies and I'm fastinated by pregnancy. In fact, I always wished I could have had twins- I know it sounds crazy! Even though there were sleepless nights and times the babies were sick or whatever, I loved the time when my kids were small. It's harder now when they are teens, maybe because it's just so hard to let go. In my mind, they will always be those babies. My desire to continue to protect them and take care of them is so strong. It's like they have become different people as they grew and I miss the babies I used to have. It's funny, when they were little I used to look forward to each stage in their growth (finally-no more diapers, no more night feedings or finally- they are in school all day, etc) but now that my job as a mom is nearly finished, I look back and wish that the time had lasted longer. No more little ones jumping up on my lap for hugs, no more stories before bedtime, no more making pancakes with faces on them on a Saturday morning, no more quiet times in the middle of the night rocking my babies to sleep.
So I guess the message is: If your babies are small or you're looking forward to becoming parents, try to focus on the present, enjoy your kids at every age. They grow so incredibly fast and it doesn't last very long...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Year, New Stuff

Wow, I haven't updated in weeks. I took a break from Etsy, Twitter and the blog over Christmas. We did our usual Christmas morning at home with the kids. Jon created scavenger hunts for the them (and me!) which was really fun. He makes up the cutest hints and each hint carries a letter- put all the letters together and unscramble them to find the location of the gift. Examples of his hints: 'Touch this drawer and the dogs will bark like crazy' (drawer we keep the dogs' leashes in) and 'Jon spent a long time under this lately with not much progress being made' (leaky bathroom sink) It draws out the gift opening for a while and makes the morning more fun. We had our (now traditional) baked breakfast casserole and baked french toast. Then we made our way over to my Mom's place in Langley for Christmas dinner. My aunt (my mom's older sister who is 91) was here from California over Christmas and my sister, her husband and daughter came from Campbell River, as well as the rest of the local family members. It was so nice to have everyone together.
Jon and I spent Boxing Day in our traditional way: in our pajamas watching movies. We had a nice fire in the fireplace and nibbles and drinks while we watched "Wall-E" (loved it) and "The Dark Knight" (I was lost half-way through).

New Years Eve was spent having a fondue dinner with the kids, who both ran off to parties afterwards. I think Devon and I might have poisoned ourselves by eating the chicken. I do remember touching the raw chicken with my fingers when putting it onto my fodue fork to cook it. Probably cross contaminated....I started to feel quite ill a few hours later. Jon and I watched "Slumdog Millionaire" and I had to go to bed before it finished (at 11:30!) because I felt so sick. We finished watching the rest of the movie the next night. Great film if you get the chance-- see it! I haven't seen many good movies lately, so this was a treat.
Backing up a bit, I think it was right around Christmas time; our clothes dryer stopped working. The drum wasn't turning. Jon took it apart but it wasn't obvious what was wrong. We did a search online and found that the dryer is about 30 years old. Here's how our laundry room looked before we moved in:

I think we both realized it was time to take advantage of some Boxing Week sales (I hate that term, it's BOXING DAY, there is no Boxing WEEK!) Anyway, we bought a set of front loaders at a deep discount, no PST and a hydro rebate of $50 on the washer, no payments till April on our Sears card. We even got the delivery thrown in free of charge. I found someone on Craigslist to come and pick up the old machines, which saved us another $40 Sears was going to charge to take them away. We waited 10 days for them to be delivered and then spent 2 whole days washing and drying everything we could find. The clothes come out of the washer so dry already from the high speed spin, that the drying takes no time at all. We love our new laundry team! Jon even got a new vent pipe and exhaust for it. Now he is constructing some shelving and a work surface to go over top of the machines for me. (Yeay, Ikea) I love order and organization:-)