Monday, March 26, 2012

Shared closet inspiration

Photo from i heart organizing
The closet in our daughter's soon-to-be shared bedroom has been a total dumping zone for spare coats, blow up mattresses, no longer being used baby items, wrapping paper, mailing boxes, and the random list goes on.

We decided this weekend to jump back into home renovation projects beginning with the closet remodel. Since the closet will be shared by our two daughters, we would like to make it as functional as possible while also making room for a little reading nook.

This closet inspired me because it seems to be a similar kind of space to what we have.
Photo from Young House Love

And I swoon over the functionality and organization of this closet, but we really don’t have enough space for this or at least we don't have this kind of space.
Photo from Better Homes and Gardens

I just love this cozy little reading nook and can just picture my girls curling up with a good book in years to come.
Photo from Thrifty Decor Chic

More on our little closet makeover progress in the weeks to come!

And don’t forget to enter our “Kids say the funniest things” contest. Just post a comment with your favorite and funniest kids stories or send them to to be eligible to win a $25 gift card to Love and Life Cards! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Kids say the funniest things contest

This weekend Rebecca was asking her Dad and I about religion in general.   Then more specifically about how he is Protestant and I am Catholic, and that's why he plays golf when we go to church on Sunday.  She then asked me "So if you're Protestant, does that mean you can eat chocolate?"  I was crying with laughter, as I guess my giving up chocolate for Lent has effected other people in the house besides me.  

That got me thinking, these are the kind of things you think you will remember forever but quickly forget because these little nuggets happen all the time.  Like one of the many times Lucie has commented on Sona's wardrobe by saying "Mom, I wish you would wear a pretty dress.  You always just wear jeans."  

First of all, we want to know how do you cherish these funnies?  Do you write them in a journal?  Keep a personal blog?  Write them in a scrapbook?  

Then, we want you to share some of them with us.  Now I'm sure you all have tons to choose from, so please post a comment on the blog or send us some of your favourites to and in two weeks we will share them.  Did I mention our favourite will receive a voucher for $25.00 off your next Love and Life Cards order?  

Come on, we all love to laugh, and what better way than at our children.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Do the french have it right when it comes to parenting?

I just finished reading Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up BeBe and I need to discuss. I saw Pamela on the Today Show a few weeks back and instantly added the book to my library queue. (True, I have yet to get a Kindle and I still get most of my reading material in paper form from the local library, but that's another entry.) This book seems to be getting a lot of publicity in recent weeks, both positive and negative. 

Now I don't completely buy the fact that French children are always quite as well behaved as Druckerman describes them to be in her book, but I do think there are some good lessons to take from the French. Here are the main positive ideas I took from the book.

1. WAIT! - Children and even small infants can benefit by being taught to wait. In France, this is done gently over time and pretty much from birth. 

When it comes to sleeping - from birth, the French don't rush to pick up an infant who is making a little noise. Instead a French parent will watch and listen to see if they are really needed or if the baby will just fall back to sleep on his or her own. This makes a lot of sense to me. I have always been more of the type to rush in and try to console the instant a baby makes a peep. I think my reasoning is that it will be easier to get the child back to sleep if they can be soothed quickly before they fully awake. But I didn't really think about the fact that my interference might wake a baby fully that might have simply fallen back asleep on their own. 

When it comes to toddlers and older children - the French are very clear and consistent with children when it comes to interruptions. Parents give a lot of reminders to children that they must "wait 2 minutes", especially when parents are talking with other adults. The fact that French parents do ask children to wait from such an early age and so frequently seems to allow them the opportunity to finish a cup of coffee and a conversation with a friend without constant interruptions from children. 

2. Give 'em a little space - Parents in the United States have become famous for our "helicopter parenting". French parents seem to have a few important rules, known as the cadre, that cannot be bent, but within these rules children are given a great deal of freedom and power. French parents also recognize that children will make mistakes. They don't overreact about small acts of naughtiness which they call a betise. 

3. TRY everything on your plate - When it comes to food, the French do seem to have a bit of an edge. But still, they don't make their children sit and eat everything on their plate. They just ask that they try everything on their plate. Then, they introduce the same disliked foods three, four, or even twenty times. I usually try to reintroduce foods, but I have to admit that I give up on a vegetable if I've tried it three times without success. 

4. Lose the guilt - Amazingly, French parents, particularly mothers, don't feel guilty. At least that's their story. Most French mothers return to work around 3 or 4 months after having a baby. These moms also seem to have a social life outside of their darling children and claim to be really enjoying themselves. Imagine going away for a long weekend with your spouse and not feeling the least bit guilty. I definitely still struggle with mommy guilt and trying to "do it all" while feeling like I'm not doing a very good job at anything. The French seem to say, there is no such thing as a perfect mother or parent so why feel guilty. 

Now, there is also PLENTY in the book I don't necessarily buy into or agree with, but nevertheless, I found Bringing Up BeBe to be an entertaining and interesting read. Some of the ideas in this book have been around for a long time. I might have even known about a few already on some level, but reminders are always good since as an American mother of two young children, I am often sleep deprived and distracted. 

So, what do you think? Do the French have it right when it comes to parenting or are you an American parent through and through and wouldn't have it any other way? Or is it another culture altogether that you think really does it right when it comes to parenting? 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Up, up and away

With Spring Break in the distance, we thought we would cover some high flying tips for you and your little ones.  Not to say I'm an expert, but I have been doing the transatlantic route with children for the last four years, and so far so good. Over 32 hours of flight time and a total of 12 minutes of crying (not that we were counting but every minute your baby is the one crying feels like 10!)
Here are some of our top tips for flying with kids of all ages.

Baby on Board

I've been really lucky flying with the babies, our first international flight with Rebecca was when she was 7 weeks old and 11 weeks on the return dreaded red eye.  There is a debate if nursing your baby or bottle feeding them will help their ears on take off and landing.  Whether or not it's true, I did find if both mine were feeding on take off they were comforted, quiet and it made for a lot of sleeping during the flight.  With bay carriers, strollers and car seats, you have enough to be lugging about, so pack as light as possible but pack enough diapers for any delays.   Also, I'd recommend a back pack instead of a change bag.  Walking down the aisle of a plane with a baby on one hip and a change bag on the other is bound to catch the grumpiest passenger sticking out of their seat:)  Lastly, have sachets of liquid tylenol in case your baby becomes unwell.  That has saved us a few times from disaster!

Toddler Time
We found between the ages of one and two to be the hardest. The children wanted to walk on their new found legs and don't like to stay strapped down too long. Our saviours were food, books and stickers. I think we had an entire carry on full of snacks.  Don't forget to buy your water or juice once you are through security as you won't be allowed through with liquids.  A lot of people I spoke to also like coloring books and crayons, but I got a bit sick of constantly bending down and squishing my head against the seat in front to pick up roll away crayons.  (When I wasn't lucky enough to get a seat in bulkhead.)  Stickers were great, they consumed time and not much space.

The Terrible Twos

Again, the same as the above but probably more sugary treats as rewards for good behavior than I care to admit. At least at two, your child has their own seat, but I still found the best way to get them to sleep was on my knee and then they could be put down on their own seat for a snooze.

Three and Over
Let them pack and take their own carry on.  Obviously there may be some supervision required for obvious reasons, but then your kids are responsible for their own bag for the whole trip.  Old fashioned games like connect 4 are fun, but a bit bulky and potentially messy.  You may limit the amount of gaming or movies your children get at home, but really, for some easy travel for yourself get out the iPads and gameboys and let your kids enjoy a bit of extra play time.
For older more responsible parents taking their kids on vacation, why not bring some homework for the plane on the outgoing journey.  Then you won't have that worry hanging over you the whole trip.   (By the way, this tip is rich coming from the biggest procrastinator on the face of the planet).

Seriously, the biggest tip from this frequent flyer? Have fun! I love to travel and hope it's rubbed off on my kids already.  My husband gets my evil eye if he even shows a glimmer of stress, so that's the best unsolicited advice I can pass on.

Tell us about you! Is your experience fortunate flier or airplane anarchy? Sometimes, the horror stories are the ones you still laugh about and remember for years to come.