Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Sunshine Award

I want to thank Pre is for Preschooler for nominating me for the Sunshine Award. Please check out her blog, she has so many fun activities for preschoolers.  Although they are labelled as crafts and recipes for preschoolers, I know my teens would have fun with a lot of them.

Here are the rules for the award:
1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you. (Pre is for Preschooler, thank you so very much!)
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer 11 question the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers who you believe deserve to be nominated and recognized.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all of those bloggers know that you nominated them for The Sunshine Award. (You cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you).

Here are 11 random facts about myself...

  1. I still love to stomp in puddles.
  2. I love to crochet.
  3. When I was a kid I used to catch frogs in my backyard.
  4. I adore anything Coach (purses, shoes, jewellery, perfume, etc.).
  5. I don't like to wear socks and I will wait until there is snow on the ground until I dig them out.
  6. I always read before I go to bed.
  7. Aspertame causes me to go blind temporarily.
  8. I have wayyy too much yarn (but it's ok...see number 2).
  9. I was named after Lisa Marie Presley.
  10. I like for toilet paper to roll from the top
  11. I have moved 14 times in my life.

Pre is for Preschooler asked these questions:
  1. If you could be any animal, what would you choose - and why?  I would be a penguin.  They are wonderfully social, they are pretty and papa helps with rearing the wonderful is that? 
  2. How do you unwind?  I always relaxes me (unless I am trying to design a pattern and it isn't working...then look out!)
  3. What is your greatest strength?  I am great at problem solving
  4. Have you ever been to another country? I have been to the U.S., England, Germany, Austria, Italy and Mexico.
  5. When did you start blogging?  <looks at watch>  about two months ago
  6. What is your social media or blogging pet peeve?  spammers who comment on my blogs solely to promote their replica shoes.
  7. What is your favorite time of year?  I love October because I love seeing the leaves change colour and getting ready for Halloween (I think I see a blog post here!)
  8. What's your favorite fall activity?  going to the pumpkin patch, picking the perfect pumpkin and then planning the design and carving it.  We also toast the seeds and enjoy them :-)
  9. What is your favorite Disney Movie?  If I had to pick just one, it would be Beauty and the Beast...the love story about how a woman can turn a beast into a great husband (bwaahaaa!)
  10. What post have you written that you're most proud of?  I would have to say that I am most proud of my very first blog entry because that was when I decided that I really wanted to blog and I figured out the direction that I wanted to go with my writing.
  11. Favorite fruit?

And my nominees are...(drum roll please...)

Here are my questions for the new nominees: 
  1. If you won a million dollars but couldn't spend it on yourself, what would you do with it?
  2. What is the most unusual thing in your purse?
  3. It's cold and raining outside and you are home alone.  What movie and snack would you choose?
  4. What is your favourite song right now?
  5. What is the oddest thing you have said to your spouse/children/significant other?
  6. If you could meet anyone in the past, present, or future, who would you choose?
  7. How would you describe yourself when you are angry?
  8. What makes you laugh?
  9. What is your favourite colour?
  10. Ballpoint pen, fountain pen, marker or pencil?
  11. Which of your blog posts was the most fun to write?
Congratulations on being nominated for the Sunshine Award.  Have fun!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Easy Crochet Pompom Hat

If you have basic crochet skills, then you can make this Easy Crochet Pompom Hat.  I have made the instructions fairly easy to follow, and you don't have to know any special crochet abbreviations. I made a crochet video that you can crochet along with, or if you need a little extra help with any of the stitches in the pattern:  How to Crochet an Easy Fall Hat

First collect the items that you will need...

Materials Required

  • Medium acrylic yarn (#4 is best)
  • 8 mm acrylic hook
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle

Stitches Used

  • Chain
  • Single crochet
  • Half double crochet
  • Double crochet


Chain 41 (do not join until end of 2nd row)
Row 1:  Single crochet across until you get to the end of the chain (40 stitches)
This is where you will form what you have crocheted into a circle and begin to crochet in the round
Row 2:  Single crochet into top of 1st single crochet of row 2, and then double crochet all around (40 stitches)
Rows 3 to 10: Double crochet all around (40 stitches)
Row 11:  Make 36 double crochets, 2 half double crochet, 2 single crochet (40 stitches)
Row 12:  Make  40 slip stitches (40 stitches) and tie off
To Finish Off:  Fold the hat flat so that the first half of the first row lies on top of the second half of the first row. Stitch the two halves together, matching stitch for stitch. Tie off and attach pompoms.
I hope that you have fun making the hat. I know that it is a favorite of mine...probably because it looks more difficult to make than it actually is! If you are having difficulties or are new to crochet, please feel free to post a question 

This post was originally published at on October 3, 2013
DIY: How to Crochet an Easy Fall Hat

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Mrs. Strangelove...Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Yarn

I have to admit it. I have an obsession. I have a guilty pleasure that really has no rhyme nor reason. It started small, but now it has just gotten funny. I crochet. I crochet a lot. I make hats, purses, pillows, stuffies, scarves, you name it! They are all my own designs and patterns. I crochet everywhere, and everyone who knows me knows that my hook and yarn aren't far away. But crochet isn't my guilty pleasure although it sure is the cause of it. I love yarn.  I really love yarn. I love the different colours, textures and how every yarn crochets differently. 

Well folks, here goes. Here is my public admission:  "Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a yarn hoarder."  I currently have 15 storage bins of yarn, all organized according to type, colour, and thickness. You are probably wondering how much yarn can I actually use?  I would say that, on average, I probably use three to four storage bins of yarn a year. So, of course, I have to "feed" the bins regularly. 

I just finished another blanket, so I will head out next week (when the kids are in school) to a yarn store that I recently learned about to see what they have. It is will take almost two hours to drive there, but that isn't a problem.  I travel regularly to various yarn stores and spend hours (yes, hours) going through the stores to look at and feel their yarns. And during the regular course of a week, if I wind up in a store that just happens to carry yarn, I will inevitably stray over to the craft aisle and start groping the yarn.  I know it sounds kooky, but for some reason it makes me happy to wander through aisles of yarn, planning and dreaming about future projects.  

I can't help but think that my children's teachers are appreciative because I don't give them the standard teacher gifts.  I make them one-of-a-kind gifts that are created solely for them.  I made a poinsettia hat for a teacher that adored Christmas, but had a black thumb and kept killing her poinsettias.  I made a Hello Kitty hat for a teacher that decorated her classroom with everything Hello Kitty.  A few years ago I taught my daughter how to crochet and she crocheted a scarf for her third grade teacher.  Her teacher cried.  Not everyone can appreciate crochet, but how can you not appreciate an 8 year old spending a few weeks making a gift?

Sometimes if I find yarn that is unusual, quirky or just too beautiful, into the basket it goes. I may not see an immediate use for it, but I know that there will come a time when "it" will be the perfect yarn. I reserve these unique yarns for gifts for friends and family, because I want their gifts to be one of a kind.  

So if you happen to be in a store in the GTA and see a really unique yarn or even a really great sale on yarn, please feel free to let me know because my yarn bins are calling...

Friday, 4 October 2013

Things I Wish I Knew Back Then

Oh my goodness! When I was expecting my first baby I had so many questions that I could never find the answers to in any of the books I had. I was the first one out of all of my friends that had children--I was a pioneer amongst my peers. My mother never wanted to discuss the subject of pregnancy, let alone answer questions about the nitty gritty details of childbirth, and nursing. I voraciously read everything and anything that I could about pregnancy, childbirth, nursing and motherhood that could be found in a library or bookstore. I have to say that many of those questions were still unanswered by the time I had my second, third and even fourth children. It is only now that I can reflect upon the questions that I had almost twenty years ago when we first started trying to conceive, that I am able to piece together some answers. 

Number one on the list of things I wish I knew: listen to your instincts first and foremost over mothers, mother-in-laws and know-it-all strangers (that usually don’t have any kids). With my first baby I didn’t listen to my own common sense, and listened to the old wives tales spewed from various relatives whose children were as old as I was. It wasn’t until my son was three months old and he had stopped gaining weight that things turned around. The pediatrician told me that breastfeeding wasn’t working for me and that I should move to formula. My mother told me that I was just like her, and that I couldn’t nurse. Things had gone so well for the first few months, and things just stalled. It didn’t make sense that I just stopped being able to produce enough milk. I really wanted to continue nursing because of the number of allergies that run in my family, and I was well-versed on all of the other benefits, so I sought the help of a lactation consultant. When I went in for the appointment in her home, we spoke relatively briefly--perhaps only a minute or two--and she figured it out. My son was tongue-tied. It is a relatively easy condition to fix, and had I had a midwife like I had wanted, she would have discovered it immediately upon his birth. Basically, the tip of his tongue was shaped like the top of a heart because his frenulum (the little webby-thing under his tongue) was attached to the tip of his tongue instead of the middle of the underside of the tongue. He did not have the full use of his tongue, and so he couldn’t nurse properly. The lactation consultant said that this condition usually gets discovered earlier, but my milk “let down” was so strong, my son was able to survive on foremilk alone until he hit his third month growth spurt. My son had the five minute “operation” within two days and with the wonderful help of the lactation consultant I was able to fully nurse my son until he was over a year old. Take that! doctor who said I couldn’t nurse my son. Had I listened to this ignorant doctor I wouldn’t have been successful at nursing all four of my children. Nursing may not be for everyone, but it definitely was for me. Honestly, I would have taken it as a personal failure as a mother if I couldn’t have nursed my babies.

Number two on the list of things I wish I knew: be proactive. Don’t wait until things get out of control because when that happens you don't always think rationally and won't react like you should. Try to anticipate a problem before it arises, and then come up with a solution in order to avoid things go haywire. For example, learn your baby’s different cries. There are the: “I’m hungry” cry, “I’m tired” cry, “I’ve soiled myself” cry, “I’m just being Mr. Cranky-pants” cry, “I just need some loving” cry, and the “you didn’t figure out what was wrong the first (or second) time, so I am going to lose it on you” cry. Learn the cries, because pretty much every cry is trying to tell you something. Now this ties back to Number One, listen to your instincts. Have confidence. You need to believe in yourself that you can figure out the difference between the different cries. I can still hear the difference between many of the baby cries that I hear, so that must mean that cries are kind of...universal. Once you figure out the cries then you are able to avoid the “you didn’t figure out what was wrong the first time, so I am going to lose it on you” cry which can be the most upsetting of all because even if you figure it out, the baby is too far gone to settle down.

You should also be proactive when they are toddlers. Have you ever seen a family trying to leave a park? Is it all roses and sunshine? or does the child have a Jack Nicholson freak-out? I have to say that I have never had a child of mine freak out when we left the park, the pool, the zoo...anywhere. The only reason was because I was proactive. I had seen so many parents dealing with temper tantrums when they had to go home after a fun event, I wanted to avoid that situation so I came up with my own solution. When I first started taking my first child to the park, I would explain to him on the way there that we would be spending an hour at the park, and we would say “goodbye” to the park at the end of the hour, and if he said goodbye nicely we would come back again the next day. Sounds kind of silly, right? But it worked. I would give him a five minute warning that we were leaving, and then after five minutes I would walk him around the park and we would say goodbye to the slide, the swings, the trees, tell them that we would see them tomorrow and then go home. Without fail, I would keep my promise and we would go back to the park the next day. My son had no concept of time at that point, but the five minute warning was great because it gave him a few minutes to finish what he was doing and prepare himself to leave the park. The routine of saying goodbye was so he could make the transition from active play time, to going home. My keeping my promise that we would return kept him from feeling loss every time we left, because he knew we would be back soon.

When I was pregnant and my children were growing up, there were are so many things that came up on a daily basis that I really wish that I knew someone that I trusted that I could ask questions and bounce ideas off of...someone with the experience of having gone through it all. As my friends have children, I have become that trusted wealth of knowledge for them, and this is one of the reasons I have wanted to blog. I have so much to share. My children have all turned out marvelously, so I know that I have done a few things right. Sometimes it just takes common sense, but when you are bombarded by all of the literature that is available out there it is hard to figure out your own opinions, let alone make up your own mind. That brings us back to my first thing I wish I had known all of those years ago...listen to your instincts. Dig down deep and figure out how you really feel.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

How Sick is Too Sick to Go to School?

It's that time of year again when kids go back to school and their noses get all boogery.  I know that one of the toughest questions that I face on a regular basis when September rolls in is:  Is my child sick enough to stay home from school today?  One of the first things to check is your child's temperature.  They can't fake that. If they have a fever then they shouldn't be going to school because they are most likely contagious...and don't we normally badmouth those parents who send their sick kids in to school to infect our child?

But what if they don't have a fever and they aren't mucus factories?  It's hard to tell if they are too sick to go to school. I came up with the perfect solution when my oldest son was in grade one.  It was flawless. It gave no wiggle room for doubt or guilt.  How often do we, as parents, come up with a solution that can work every single time, and with each and every one of our children?  Never!  Well, practically never, because I came up with this little gem.  I have to admit that its genius lied in its simplicity. 

We all know that kids hate to take their least until their teens (and then they can sleep the day away).  If a child claimed to be sick, and didn't have a fever I would ask the magical question:  "If you are too sick for school, and you want to stay home, will you take a nap in the morning AND in the afternoon?"  Inevitably if they weren't really that sick they wouldn't want to stay home and nap so they would go into school.  But if they really were feeling sick and tired and groddy, then they would stay home and take the required two naps.  When they arose for lunch they would have some Chicken Noodle soup and they would get to watch an hour or so of tv. They would head back to prison for their second nap when they were done.  I didn't make it loads of fun for them to stay home. I kept it relatively low-key.  How perfect is that?  

I do, however, have one exception to the rule.  Don't we, as adults, occasionally need a day off.  Aren't there those days when you just can't bear to go into work and you want to stay in bed and watch tv all day? or sit in the backyard and read a book?  You aren't sick, but you are sick of seeing your boss, co-workers or customers.  Sometimes, don't you just need a break?  I call these "Mental Health" days.  I allow my kids one Mental Health day per school year.  They don't have to provide an explanation, they just "call it."  I take advantage of these days, to spend the day talking about anything and everything with my child, in the hopes that they will reveal to me the reason they just couldn't go into school.  At times, they confide in me.  Sometimes they do not.  I understand that there are occasions when they just can't bear to talk about something with a parent, and then I try to make sure that if they can't talk to me, that they can find someone that they can talk to.

It turned out that these Mental Health days were extraordinarily important, because on two separate occasions I had found out that two of my children were each being bullied in their schools.  If they hadn't had the loophole of the Mental Health Day how much longer would they have put up with the bullying?  I count my lucky stars that my children were able to confide in me and we were able to bring it to the Principals' attention and have things turned around.  

Consequently if you have the Nap Time Method for determining if your child is too sick to go to school, as well as having the Mental Health Day option in place, you can cover all of your bases when it comes to a child not wanting to go to school.  The only problem is that this only works with kids up to grade 8.  After that, you are on your own.  You will have to trust your teen to tell you when they are too sick to go to school.