Monday, December 1, 2014

Sunshine for Seniors

Every year, I want to do more, help more, during the year but more so during the Christmas season. Usually I end up giving money and not doing any actual 'work' because I don't know what to do. But now now that I have kids, I really want to do things with them, let them see that there are those in need, let them know what it feels like to help others.

We took part in Operation Christmas Child this year, and that was great. Our group completed over 120 shoe boxes. My boys took part in the packing party. But still, they didn't "get it". The boxes were filled and shipped "somewhere". At 5 they are too young to totally get it without seeing who is getting the 'gift'. 

I thought about our neighborhood. Then I saw this video about seniors in our neighborhood and cried. 

I wanted to do something for these people. I couldn't solve poverty but I could help put together some stockings for some of the locals. I mentioned it to some friends in a lunch time DNA group. Two were going to GNH that day and said they would ask if they knew a local group or event. And wham, did they ever! When I heard that there was going to be a Christmas lunch for 120 seniors at first I balked then I remembered I'm not alone in this. 

Presenting the first (and likely not last) Sunshine for Seniors

Kids will sing while handing out the stockings; this will help bridge the gap between two age groups often pitted against each other for community space and resources. It is also going to give a face to the work the kids are doing in putting these stockings together.

The stockings need to be stuffed with valuable items such as gift cards, lotions, and handmade items that seniors will use. We have brainstormed some things like
  • Fun/Traditional: chocolates, hard candies, mandarin oranges, candles, small ornaments
  • Practical: slippers, gloves, socks, soaps, I've got between 120 and 180 Avon items including lip balm, hand cream, lotion, perfume etc.
  • Handmade: anything! We had this amazing donation of over 60 items has already come in 
  • Giftcards: grocery and coffee places. We are not going to solve the poverty problem but we can help with the loneliness. For example, McDonalds has a seniors coffee, free refills and the ones by us don't enforce the time limit. To us a coffee is a way to get through the morning, to a senior its a way to be less lonely, to meet friends, make friends and just get out of the apartment for a couple of hours.
  • Cards: We're hoping to get 120 handmade cards, or at least hand colored by kids cards!
We've had enough donations come in to buy the actual 120 stockings we're going to stuff, but have a long way to go to fill them.

If you would like to make a financial contribution to help us purchase whatever is needed to fill the stockings that would be greatly appreciated. You can donate online right here. Follow the prompts. You can get a Canadian tax receipt.

If you are connected with a business that would like to donate to this worthy cause, by all means, see if they will help out!

Anyone who is local (Vancouver), there are links to printable flyers and contact information at Sunshine for Seniors. If you are local, we are also taking donations for items to put in the stockings.
And if you can't help with items to fill the stocking or money for the gift cards, please spread the word to those who might be able to!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cyber Monday Weekend Sale - Lovable Labels

Lovable Labels is having a Cyber Monday Weekend SALE!!!! Along with the deals themselves, there is FREE standard shipping on all USA and Canada orders.

Big Deal 1 - 50% off Slimline Labels
I didn't use these labels that much until this year. Now they are a staple and I need more. I needed to label every container and lid for school, every single container and lid, their water bottles, their thermos, all of it. We went through these fast. These are very multipurpose in our home and go on containers and lids with areas too small for Sticker Labels.

Bid Deal 2 - 50% off Sticker Labels 
I have always used these and continue to use them. I use them on anything where they fit that leaves the house with a kid. Heck I use these on my stuff that I take to the office so I remember which blue container is mine when the dishwasher finished with them (yes, they are dishwasher safe)

Big Deal 3 - $5 off Stocking Stuffers
Now we get to the first of the fun holiday products. I love these sets. These are 3 sets of labels for only $10. They are perfect for parents, perfect for grandparents, great for those who do gift exchanges and more.  Each set comes with 6 Sticker Labels, 2 Shoe Labels, 8 Press n' Stick Clothing Dots and 1 Mini-Metal Tag.

Big Deal 4 - $5 off Santa Sampler Gift Pack
This is the other cute holiday product that is part of the sale. You get 15 Sticker Labels, 40 Slimline Labels and 24 Press n' Stick Clothing Dots.

So as you can see there are several options on sale. You can get one or get many. Stickers don't expire. And really, getting these on sale is just a smart move. Add in free shipping and what are you waiting for, head over to Lovable Labels now and get shopping!

Sale ends Monday Dec 1 @11:59 PST so don't miss out.

With each option, you get to chose from a variety of images and colors to make the labels totally personal.

Seriously by now if you haven't heard about how much I love these labels you must be living under a rock! But I will tell you again of a recent and real use we had:
I live in rainy Vancouver, we have umbrellas, even the kids. Nathan has a cute camouflage umbrella bought at (insert big name store  here).  I put a Sticker Label on the handle. One day last week, I picked them up from after school care and Nathan was all excited that he had "found" his umbrella. Um, but it wasn't lost. I asked him to show me and sure enough, it looked the same, but lacked the label. We brought it home and I showed him his. The other went back to lost and found and he spent the next two days telling anyone who would listen about the mix up. Now he checks everything to see if it has his name in it before picking it up.

We got adorable Penguins similar to these last year. The boys were excited to get their winter clothes out and check the labels to see which coat was whos.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chemical Free Deodorizers

It is a long slow process but I've been working on making our home chemical free. One of the best things I did, was join Young Living, but more on that later. 

This week I opened the kitchen garbage and p.u.. Sure I could have changed the garbage but the bag was still mostly empty (and it was raining!) So I thought about my options, and decided to experiment. 

Baking soda is so often used for odor absorption and nullification, so I reached for that. Then what to mix it with. After some checking around the apartment I arrived on the ingredients below.

Salt is often thought and sometimes used to absorb moisture. I had two choices Epson salts and sea salt. I picked both. For essential oils I picked Young Living Lemon and Purification. Lemon has such a 'clean' smell. Purification is used to neutralize odors so it was a perfect choice.

I played around with the proportions. In the end this is what I used.

1/2 cup Baking Soda
2 tbsp Epson Salt
2 tbsp Sea Salt
2 drop Purification Oil
1 drop Lemon Oil

For the water, I started with 1 tbsp then slowly added more until I got to the consistency I wanted. The picture below is what I was aiming for, something that looks like a powder but when pressed, stays together. 

I used a 1/2 tbsp measuring spoon. I packed each one full then popped it out and put it down to dry. I let them dry out overnight. In the morning, they were quite hard, and didn't crumble when pressed them. 

I put one in the kitchen garbage can, one in the bathroom and another in the refrigerator. That was this morning and now, 12 hours later, there is no more bad odor, just the scent of lemon. That is the other thing, I used less of the Lemon Oil but it has such a strong (and to me) clean smell. I'm really happy with the outcome. 

I've put the rest in a sealed container and figure as long as they are sealed they should last a couple months (we'll see). 

I love the ingredients are all non-toxic. And while I would not recommend eating them, I'm not worried if one of the kids takes a lick. Can you say the same for most commercial deodorizers? 

They were dirt cheap to make. I think for the volume used, the sea salt was the most expensive ingredient and I'm sure it could have all been Epson Salt. But wait, aren't Essential Oils expensive? Yes and no. They have a price as you invests in them but they go so far! I used 1 drop of Lemon Oil and a 15ml bottle is 17 cdn retail (less wholesale) and has at least 250 drops. Doing the math, that single drop cost me  0.07. For the Purification, it came to a whopping 0.13. Overall, I think all of the 19 deodorizing came to less than 1.00 to make.  0.05 each. 

And that is retail. But who pays retail? I joined Young Living as a Wholesale member. This means I get up to 25% off. I'm excited and want to tell you so much more, but for now I'll point you to my Young Living Information page My Family Health and my Facebook page Healthy Oils Healthy Family Healthy Home  As I do more around home to make it a healthier place, I will share more and more about how Young Living has helped us on that journey. For now though, if you have questions, contact me through this blog or either of the links above. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Customer Service Done Right

Lately it seems I see Facebook and mainstream media full of people complaining about a company, organization or even waiter. I'm sure there are many times you have a good or even great experience as a customer but we don't tweet it, we don't post it on FB and except in extreme cases. you wont see media covering it. And really, how many papers would sell if the headline read "Waitress got my order correct"?

So I get it, we expect good service and take it for granted when we get it and if we don't we complain.  I'm like that too. I always get good service at my local Safeway, but I also shop 2-3 times a week (it's  a block from home) so if I commented every time about the good service, people would say I was spamming.

Today I'm going to take the time to balance out the negative things you've got in your news feed and blog reading tools. I'm going to tell you about not just good service, but amazing service.  Those of you who know me in-real-life will know most of this, but it's such a good story, it's worth reading again.

This summer, I did the impossible and took my kids alone to visit my mom in Nova Scotia. This meant taking 2 planes each way, airport transfers, cabs, rental cars, hotels, motels and more. So many places things can go wrong or go missing. Miracle of miracles, the trip was for the most part uneventful on the negative side and was so worth it.

Fast forward, and we're on our way home. From the time we left the motel until we got back to YVR was more than 12 hours. Both kids were over tired. While we have a train we can take to downtown and then just one bus and we were travelling light, I could not face public transit with two over tired kids who had been so well behaved (all things considered) and if they fell asleep, we'd be riding the train until they woke up because a) you can't wake them and b) they are too big, too heavy and I had a suitcase and a carry on too.  I opted for an Airport Limo service. The price is very close to the cost of a cab and much more comfortable.

We took Aerocar Service. We were in an SUV and the kids loved the ride. Personally, I always love the drive from the Airport to downtown, with the amazing views of the mountains. Our driver was really nice. He was a dad with two young kids himself. He got us home safe and sounds, and even helped me get the kids and luggage across the road safely.

Home sweet home! We dumped the bags in the middle of the floor and I promptly got the boys ready for bed (it may have only been 8 our time, but it was midnight where we'd spent the last two weeks). First crisis, we could not find Nathan's monkey. Luckily they were tired enough that I was able to get them to sleep without (cue extreme gratefulness that this was not Corwyn's monkey).

I next went through every pocket in every bag. We had the monkey, in his arms when we left the airport. Yes, it would normally be in his bag but the zipper on that broke and he insisted on carrying it. I went outside, checking where we were dropped off, in case it was there. I checked all the common areas in the my building in case it got picked up by a neighbor. No luck. I dreaded the morning when he would ask.

I emailed the car company.

Hi, this is a long shot.
We took one of your vehicles from YVR to the West End on Monday Aug 11 (around 7:30pm). One of my twin boys left his stuffed monkey in the car. Is there any chance it was found and turned in???
 We loved the ride back. The driver was amazing and had my kids smiling despite having been in travel mode for 12 hours. I think it was this happiness that caused him to forget his toy.
 Can you please check? It was an SUV type of vehicle.
I was overwhelmed by the series of responses I got
Hi Christine,
Our reservations agent is looking in to your reservation and what driver/car serviced you.
At our office lost and found there has not been any stuffed monkey brought in but let us also send out a message to all the drivers on there dispatch screens and see if we can hopefully locate your sons toy for him.
I will be in touch shortly.
Kind Regards,

Hi Christine,
We have sent out a message to all drivers.
We are waiting to hear back shortly.
We will contact you closer to this evening.
So we may get a response from all day and night drivers to see if any driver has turned the monkey in at the airport or to one of our greeters.
We will send you an email at roughly 8 or 9pm.
We are on a mission to find him for you son.

 Hi Christine,
We regret to inform you that we could not locate your sons toy monkey.
We were all young once and understand the attachment to our childhood toys,
What we would like to do is send both your sons two stuffed monkeys on behalf of AeroCar
If you would allow us to do so, please send us your address home or office and we will have one of our drivers deliver them to you.
Again our apologies that we could not find your sons toy but please do allow us the opportunity to make it up to your son.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards,
Thank you kindly for allowing us to transport you and your loved ones. 
 I was disappointed with the lack of monkey but so overwhelmed with joy at the care and attention this company was taking. I cried. I'm crying thinking of it again.

So, did they come through? Yes! And with even more than I expected. They recognized that while only Nathan lost his monkey, there were two young boys involved.

Hi Christine, Hope this email finds you in good spirits, My apologies for the delay its been an extremly busy couple of weeks. I really wanted to deliver your monkies in person but the rate Im going at I may not make it over there for another two weeks. I just sent the monkies first class with UPS , they will arrive at your office tommorow afternoon. There are two boxes one red and one green. One for each son , a monkey for thier beds and a monkey to travel with them. Again my apologies for the delay, this has been on my to do list for a while now so please do not think we forgot. I hope your two boys will make some fond memmories with thier new traveling companions. Warm Regards, AeroCar

Good-bye Brown Monkey. You will be missed. The response to your loss has been so incredible though. You left a great legacy.  If you are traveling to/from the Vancouver Airport, please consider using Aerocar. Service like this deserves to be rewarded. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Degradation of the Spoken Word

C has always been a bit behind in speech, but since he's always made some progress the Pediatrician wasn't worried. Then the Dr retired and since he kept making small progress, I let it go. Now that he's started school, a fresh set of eyes, or rather ears has come into the picture, his teacher, Ms J. 

She called me after the first week to discuss his enunciation/diction. He can, but rarely makes the consonants sounds made in the back of the mouth. For example he usually says /t/ instead of /k/ and /d/ instead of /g/. He can make the sounds but not consistently, and rarely does. He also talks very fast and words slur together. So she asked if he had any speech therapy or any physical condition to inhibit his speech. Since he's had neither, she's recommended him for an assessment and possibly therapy. 

So while we wait, I've been even more aware of my own speech around him. Since then I've noticed some deficiencies in my speech, mostly due to laziness. Of course I wondered if others were the same way and in listening to people around me, I'm finding many others are the same, even public speakers.

Here are the three things I've noticed recently and am trying to work on. 

A simple word. It rhymes with or/snore/more. Except for many of us, it no longer does. Rather than saying 'for' ending in 'or' we are saying 'fer' ending in 'er'. I'm not sure why so many of us do this. It's not really much extra work with the muscles in our mouth to say it correctly. It does require a slight bit more rounding of the mouth but not really much in the grand scheme of things. And I don't see people saying 'fer' instead of four. In any of the other words that rhyme with it, we're also saying correctly but for some reason, not this simple word that we use regularly throughout the day.  

So this is a contraction, rather than a regular word. I get that we like contractions, a bit simpler to say we're instead of we are. Even then, myself and others I hear throughout the day are saying were not we're.

This ones is less of a pronunciation issue than I think a pure lazy issue. It used to be just kids would say 'cause instead of because. Now I find that the shorted version is making its way into every day speech. 

Listen to yourself. Do you say for or fer? What about we're  or were? Do you drop the first syllable in because? How about those around you? 

I don't know if we're more lazy in speech because we use it less, or just careless. We send text messages instead of phoning someone. We use shorted versions of words and acronyms in our emails in ways we rarely did in traditional paper mail. 

I'm practicing and having to make an effort to say it correctly. I challenge you to do the same! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lovable Labels Spooktacular Weekend Sale

Guess what I'm finally doing?? Yup, labeling new thermoses and containers because my boys are finally starting kindergarten (see previous post about the strike). I'm soooooo happy I have Lovable Labels on hand. 

I will be ordering new labels soon because it hit me that while I suspect Corwyn will be the only one with his name in the whole school, let alone his class, Nathan will not. Our first name only labels are great for telling their things apart but I've had to add a label with our last name to Nathan's (which happily I have).

But enough about me and my love for these labels, I'm here to tell you about the big SALE this weekend. From today (Friday, September 19) until Sunday September 21 at 11:59 PM PST you can get $10 off any purchase of $25 or more!!! You need to use code SPOOKY2014 to get this deal.

What will you get? You can get the Back to School pack to ensure your kids come home with the containers, jackets and shoes that you send them with. But I think I'm going to be getting some of the limited Halloween sticker sets. 

There are 4 sets with options in each. 
The Halloween pack will allow you to look like a Pintrest mom with half the time. 
The Halloween Fun Stickies are a fun way to label things not just for the fall, but all year round to make them stand out. 
The Halloween Party Packs are one of my favorite. You can host a party and give loot bags without any extra sugary foods.
There are 3 new limited additions to Sweet Notes for Halloween. These are great if your child needs to send cards or write thank you notes. 
Get one, get them all!!!!

I still think you can never go wrong with the Back to School pack. Even if you've labeled this year's stuff, there will be more coming at Christmas to get labeled. These labels don't expire so use some now and keep the rest for the next thing. 

And if you have twins, there is even a split pack.  1 Large Value Pack, 1 Design, 2 Names. So many things to choose at a discount!

Remember, this deal is limited to this weekend only. Use SPOOKY2014 to get up to 40% off (10 off a 25 order).

If you happen to miss it, you can still get 10% off using my custom code ChrisFLB3. But I'd act now for a better deal.

Make sure you go to and check them out. 

Monday, September 8, 2014


Yup, another milestone. We had our first visit from the Tooth Fairy. She had to use her 'computer tracker' to find the tooth (my guess is swallowed) but she left a shiny twoonie all the same (that's a $2 coin for my non-Canadian readers).

At barely 5 it's a bit early but not impossible. Nathan is a bit annoyed that he didn't lose his first and so far has no loose teeth. But all things in time. I know I was early in getting my permanent teeth.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The First Day of Kindergarten That Wasn't

Yes, the boys were all set to start kindergarten this year. But for now, school is cancelled, not just for my boys but for all kids in the province. The BC teachers went on strike with 2 weeks left in the school year last year. It's still on.

Before you jump all over the teachers, our provincial government carries the biggest burden in this very long drawn out strike. 

No matter who is to blame (or not) it is the kids who are suffering the most. Nathan's look is pure acting (and he's really good at it) and the reality is, missing a few weeks of K is not the end of the world (although it leaves many of us scrambling for childcare). Then there are grade 12 students who are looking towards post secondary education who may not get into the school of their choice because we will be so far behind. The private schools are full now as parents look for alternatives until public school starts again. 

Eventually I'll have their first day of kindergarten pictures though. Eventually.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Slowly but surely......

Remember back, almost a year ago to my last swimming update?  Well progress has continued to be made but it's very slow. This is from this week, the first time he's happily floated on his back....

Monday, June 9, 2014

You make due with what you have

When you're a single parent, you improvise. When you live in a city apartment, you improvise.

When I got home from work, N wanted to play with water balloons - "right now". But I had to make dinner. He was not impressed (even though he was hungry) so I improvised.

Now dinner is over and he is already clean and in pjs! 

The boys do play with water balloons a lot in our building's back yard but I have to be there with them. I needed to start dinner so we'd have time for more play before bed. This was a work around that worked for all of us. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A natural

Nathan really is a natural performer. He asked me to "make a movie" of him serving himself a slice of pizza. This is all self directed with no prompting from me!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Painting Fun

A can of shaving cream goes a long way! It's been at least 3 year since I introduced the boys to adding paint to shaving creaming to make dimensional paintings. I still remember the first time too. At first both were hesitant and thrown off the texture. Then they got into it. Really into it. Corwyn painted not only the paper, but the wall, the table the chair and his whole body and head. Nathan got into piling it in the middle and making a big splash.

Yesterday, we finally used the last of that first can of shaving cream.

They started out with 5 colors, but as happens the one that was smeared on top takes over, so the effect was orange. The other colors are on the paper but harder to see. They used glitter glue to keep the peaks and add sparkle.

This time they got into texture. Using their hands, fingers, paint brushes (both as a brush and rolling it around) and some bead squares. In the end, each chose a different style for their finished picture.



I love painting like this. They get to play lots and since there is both washable paint and a soap based product, cleanup is very easy.

Nathan's Work of Art
Corwyn's Finished Product

Monday, June 2, 2014

Swim little fishes swim!

This week we were blessed enough to go with Meta Communities to Bowen Island for the Coho Salmon release. All the kids had a blast!

I'm lousy at creating these little videos but the boys were so excited and they did so incredibly well on the trip there (minus a small shoe thrown into the waterfall incident) that I had to try.

I think this may be an annual event for us. I also think, having done a fair bit of travel this weekend on transit, that it's time we went on more adventuring. They're 5, we can do this!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Me and my Drum

Drum? What drum? Nope, I did not get them a drum set for their 5th birthday. But I think it's the next best thing - rhythm sticks from Avon. Oh yeah!!!

Rock on little dudes, rock on!

(and 5 years - unbelievable!)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pink Shirt Day - My history with a bully

Today is Pink Shirt Day here.

For those who don't know, Pink Shirt Day started very small. In 2007, a grade 9 student (male) in a rural Nova Scotia community wore a pink polo shirt to school the first day. No big deal right? Well, a boy wearing pink was apparently a big deal to a couple of bullies. They threatened to beat him up. They called him gay. They did everything they could to humiliate him.

Two popular grade 12 students heard about this and were outraged. Rather than bully the bullies, they went out and bought 50 pink shirts. Then they recruited their friends and classmates to wear pink the next day. The school was a sea of pink that day. Rather than right the bullies, these boys made it clear that there was nothing wrong with wearing pink, being different. What started as simple support for a boy they didn't even know has turned into an international movement.

Today is Pink Shirt Day to raise awareness about bullying. To give a voice to people who sometimes don't get heard until we read about it in their obituary.

Bullying comes in many forms. It can be subtle or obvious. It can be physical, emotional or both. Oftentimes a 'difference' is used to single someone out for harassment. Sometimes it's just luck of the draw. In all cases, it causes distress, can cause depression and possibly even lead to suicide if it's not addressed.

We moved a lot when I was growing up. Eventually we settled into one neighborhood (2 different homes, same school area) when I was in grade 5. I went to the same school from grade 5-8 then onto one of the local high schools. In grade 5, there was a girl in my class who decided I was to be her victim. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I was smaller. Maybe because I was the new kid. Maybe because I got good grades. Or maybe there was no reason. What ever the reason, she picked me. So what type of bully was she? She was the all encompassing type, both physical and emotional/psychological. She hit me whenever she could with whatever was handy. She humiliated me, or tried on any and every occasion. She threatened and intimidated me. I was scared of her. Terrified. I changed my route to school so I would not go anywhere near her. I dropped out of, or didn't sign up for certain school groups because she was in them. I had nightmares. The grown ups knew, and as they did back then it was dismissed as something to be outgrown, for me to get a back bone, or fight back. I tried the fighting back, got a nose bleed for the effort (she was bigger and stronger) I increased my avoidance after that. I did have some great friends back then. The didn't believe some of the stuff she said to try to make people tease me too. That made some of it easier.

Eventually, I finished grade 8 and moved onto high school While we were still in the same neighborhood, she was on the other side of the dividing line for high school, so we went our separate ways. I rejoiced (a lot) but I still had to avoid her in the neighborhood and even skipped parties if I knew she was going. At one point they talked about merging our two high schools and I didn't sleep for a couple of weeks. She still had that hold on me.

Even now, as an adult, I'm still afraid of her. Logically I know, she wont beat me up (the law would step in since while for some reason kids can hurt kids, adults can't hurt adults). She can say what she wants about my personality etc but I'm a pretty open book and have such a great group of friends there is nothing she could say that was true that would cause them to turn away from me and I know (hope) they know me enough that if she tried a lie, they wouldn't believe it. So why, as a successful adult can she still scare me? I saw her name on FB as a friend of a friend. Part of me wanted to say something but still, I was too scared. Not just of her, but what if she didn't remember? What if, her treatment of me, meant so little to her that she didn't remember it or me? I know I need to let go. I'm working on it. Maybe one day I will message her. Maybe.

I am so happy that when I grew up we didn't have the internet (heck we barely had PCs when I finished high school). Now you don't even have to see or even know someone to bully them, it can be done over the internet as easy, if not easier than in person.

I worry, a lot, about my kids growing up in this world. I am doing what I can for their self esteem so that at the least, if someone tries to emotionally bully them, they have the personal strength of character to get through it, or ask me for help. There are two of them, and they are very close, so honestly, I doubt either will be bullied physically as a twin will always be there to back him up.

The other part, doing something 'juvenile' and having it put on FB (or whatever is out there then) and having to live with it. I don't know how to prepare them. I guess make sure they have enough confidence to avoid the situation or if they find themselves in it enough trust in me or another adult to ask for help. I need to teach them to be 'social media' aware at each age and stage without making them fear the world.

I also need to make sure I model/teach enough that they never become a bully, or even just go along with a crowd who is bullying. In many ways, I think this will be harder. Peer pressure can be so overwhelming.

So, today is Pink Shirt Day. Everyday is anti-bullying day.