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From the Editors

Worry Dolls – What Are They and Why Do You Need To Get Some Right Now?

Lately we’ve been talking about worrying in our house. About how it’s ok to feel worried and how everyone worries about different things but that doesn’t mean that it’s less important.

My one son just tried out for a sports team for the first time and was anxious.

My other son has weekly spelling tests at school that he wants to do well on. And by well he means he wants 100% EVERY time so he works hard at it but he worries.

School is long and exhausting, basketball games have started being more competitive, friendships are changing as they get older, and the list goes on. It was starting to get harder to pull full sentences out from them as they didn’t want to talk about it/didn’t know how to take a big feeling like worry and turn it into words that expressed how they feel.

Then my mom reminded me about Worry Dolls.

I had them when I was little but between all the moving, marriage, keeping track of two kids etc they were lost so I found some on Amazon this week for the boys.

What are Worry Dolls?

Worry Dolls are little dolls (most often from Guatemala) that you keep by your bed. Every night you sit down with your child and they tell a worry they may have to the doll. Each doll is one worry. You then put the doll in a bag and put it under your pillow and the worry goes away.

Spoiler alert… The doll doesn’t actually have magical powers that makes your worry poof away in the middle of the night. The worry goes away because it is a tool to get your child talking about specific things that worry them so you can:

a) be aware of their specific worry

b) offer to help if you can

c) give you an excuse to hug them and tell them that no matter the size of the worry you’re there for them.

I will be starting this with my boys this weekend so I will let you know how it goes!

I’d love to hear any tips and tricks you may have for getting your kids to talk more!

7 Reasons Why Your Next Holiday Needs to be a Staycation

It is that time of year. Christmas is over, it’s cold, and it gets dark so quickly. The kids are feeling cooped up and you’re ready for a holiday but the after Christmas bank account has other plans for you. So how can you break up the winter months without breaking the bank? Have a Staycation!

Staycations are gaining popularity for a reason. We’ve listed 7 reasons why your next vacation should be close to home.

Why you need a Staycation:

  1. You can’t beat the drive – We ended up with a hotel about 20 minutes away which was perfect. Who wants to sit in the car for three hours listening to the kids fight and ask “are we there yet?”. If you are in a rural area pick the closest major city and head out!
  2. Packing is easy – Pj’s, swimsuit, sweatpants and a toothbrush. That’s it. You aren’t going out anywhere fancy so you don’t need much. We went from the pool, to our room, and back again for two days and it was perfect.
  3. The kids are exhausted at the end of the day – We always get a hotel with a pool which means we swim a lot. This also means that the kids are moving all day so when it’s time for bed they are TIRED.
  4. A pool with a slide is all you need – Our kids are 6 & 9 and all they wanted to do was swim. They spent hours chasing things down the slide, racing and timing each other, and even climbing up to the top. There are hardly ever people there during the day so we often had the place to ourselves.
  5. You will have time for you – Let the kids know that this is your vacation too! Let them play in the pool by themselves (if they are older and comfortable in the water) or watch too many cartoons while you read a book or scroll through Instagram. You should come back relaxed too.
  6. No cooking – Pick a hotel with breakfast included to make it even easier. Head down in your pj’s! The kids will think it is hilarious. Order pizza and pack a few snacks for movies to complete the experience.
  7. It is a cheap way to get a holiday – No flight costs, gas costs, park passes, admission to tourist attractions or anything besides your hotel cost. We usually use Priceline or Expedia (call the hotel front desk before booking through a third party website. Sometimes they will beat the price by 10% to avoid going through them) and get a great deal on our hotel. Often the best deals are last minute so check often.

Do you do staycations? We would love to hear your tips!

 

In Business, Explore, From the Editors on
December 3, 2017

What We Really Want for Xmas

Yes, of course, we want quality time spent with family, to see the excitement in our kid’s eyes, cozying up near a fireplace with some hot chocolate but we’re just going to be honest here.

In the words of Julie Andrews, “These are a few of our favourite things”

Chris

  1. If we are spending money: a Ninja Coffee Bar – I have the blender and I LOVE it. I don’t drink coffee but I could use decaf to make fancy coffee right in my own home!
  2. The Google Home mini & Chromecast. Play Google Play Playlists & Netflix with just my voice. Find out the temperature or prove my husband wrong about something by using a search engine with just my voice – yes please! Of course, watching Northern Style Exposure use hers on Instastories helped sway me as well!
  3. Anything David’s Tea. Since quitting caffeine 3 years ago, I’m big on making myself yummy tea lattes. One of my favourite birthday presents last year was their advent calendar but with all the caffeinated teas in there, this year, I’d just love the Caffeine Free Teas Gift Box.

Jen

  1. Diamond earrings. There I said it. This year honestly I don’t want to be all like “don’t worry about getting me something” or “just get me something practical. I’ve wanted small stud diamond earrings for a while, but could never justify buying them for myself. So I want some small simple stud diamonds, like THESE Spence ones.
  2. A Poppy Barley backpack. Okay, I noticed I may have a tad more expensive taste, but it’s about quality lasting a long time! Again, it’s another thing I just haven’t bought for myself.
  3. And now to go cheap and simple….. a bathrobe. Seriously, why have I found it so hard to find a good bathrobe? A longer, not crazy thick, but not sooooo thin bathrobe. Like THIS one from Amazon. See not ALL my wants are pricey! (I want grey if you’re reading this Brad….) Ha ha.

Deanne

  1. Custom lipstick from Creme De La Creme. We got to go a couple of weeks ago to create a lipstick and I came home with the perfect plum for my skin tone. Now I need a perfect red too!
  2. Cheese from Italian Centre Shop. Preferably the truffle cheese because I am too cheap to buy it the rest of the year.
  3. And finally a bottle of Cherry Rye from Hansen Distillery to create cocktails with my husband for cocktail Monday.

Kimberly

  1. Something reliable to make popcorn with. Seriously, the cheap air popper we have spews burning hot seeds all over the kitchen! Don’t even get me started on how much wasted popcorn that is… It’s not over the top at all, but it’s just something that I keep forgetting to buy. I have heard good things about the PowerLix Microwave Popcorn Popper on Amazon.
  2. An Apple Watch. I am a lover of all things Apple and I really like having something that can sync easily with my phone and help me track my fitness, to do list, weather and so on. I love that you can customize the colour and type of strap with most models too!
  3. Something pretty from Eliasz and Ella. Everything this local Edmonton Jewelry company designs I love! I can never have too many Bangin’ Bracelets or sparkly studs. Never. Ever.

Nicola

  1. Anything from Rocky Mountain Soap Company! Actually, to be more specific I use their day cream and I swear by it and thus go through a lot. I’d like a bucket of that please.
  2. Oak and Fort has become my new go-to for clothes. I love the clean lines and simple designs that are easy to throw on.
  3.  A phone charger… again… because whoever is eating socks in my house (we only have socks that don’t match) is also eating phone chargers! They’re always missing. Actually is there such a thing as a phone charger that can never be moved from my bedside table. I want that.

Christine 

  1. Something like a course weekend course to improve my photography skills as well as a Lowel Ego Light.
  2. A portable induction cooktop like this Salton one to step up my YouTube video game!
  3. Renovations – we need new lights in our bathroom because only half turn on, our kitchen needs to be a different colour than red, and we also need a fresh coat of paint in both of our living rooms.

What’s on YOUR list?

A Positively Princess’d Royal Ball

I know we are all just starting to get into the Christmas spirit but we wanted to share this super fun event happening in Sherwood Park for New Year’s Eve! Positively Princess’d is holding a Royal Ball with all proceeds going to Jacob’s Wish.

About Jacob’s Wish

“Jacob Christian McInnis was born Dec 18 at 26 weeks gestation. Entering this world so early made him vulnerable to infection and at only 12 days old and 1.5lbs he contracted meningitis. Jacob’s mom Soula knew from the start her son was special and as they faced many adversities her boy’s heart just grew stronger for others. In Jacob’s 14 years on this earth he had 98 surgeries, 300 CAT Scans, countless MRI’s, CP, SVC, Stomach cysts, Blood Transfusions, Seizures and so much more but what seems like a long list of things that could tear a person down just made this boys mission for happiness stronger. Jacob is remembered because he always thought of others first, a true Superhero of Hearts which gave him the name that he is known by “Super Jake”. As a sick kid Jacob was given “wishes” to bring a little happiness into his life during tough times. Time and time again Jacob’s Wish was “I wish for everyone to be happy” and with that “Jacob’s Wish” began. Starting from a small cubicle size hospital room in 4D with his mom. Collecting gift cards, toys and purchasing any electronics they could afford for the kids he saw around him day in and day out. Spending most of his 14 years of life in the Stollery, Soula and Jacob knew first hand what these families needed. Random Acts of Kindness, something that brought even just a glimmer of light to a seemingly dark day.

Our Superhero has left this earth but his WISH remains.”

Positively Princess’d works closely with Jacob’s Wish (ran by Jacob’s Mom Soula) to continue bringing joy to kids and their families. Jacob’s wish was “for everybody to be happy” and we can’t think of a better way to make people happy than ringing in a New Year with your family and a whole lot of Princesses & Superheroes!

Early bird tickets are $35 for kids and $55 for adults until the end of November. Get tickets here! 

We want to give you a chance to win one Adult and one Child’s ticket! Enter below to win your spot for the most magical New Year’s Event in Alberta!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In From the Editors on
November 16, 2017

Be Brave Ranch : The Child Sexual Abuse Survivor Program

The Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch

It’s a heavy topic. I know. But with 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys experiencing an unwanted sexual act in our province, it’s something that’s all to real. The Be Brave Ranch is a facility around the Edmonton region that help victims of this sexual abuse and I recently was able to tour the facility. Let me share some of the amazing work they are doing with you.

Little Warriors is a national program that is committed to the awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse. They offer Prevention Workshops that any and all are encourage to take, all across the country.

Little Warriors created the Be Brave Ranch as a safe place to facilitate healing for these youth aged 8-12. The take in children from all over the country and help them through a year round program. They start first with a month at the facility. Staying in a safe place that has been created specifically for their healing with experienced and well educated facilitators. After the month at the Ranch they spend the next 11 months between home and the ranch back and forth as they integrate back into their lives.

Here is a bit of the help they get.

Group therapy in rooms with soft plushy toys, safe spaces to be alone, while remaining part of the group, toys, puzzles and sensory items.

Art Therapy. Through creating art, some children are better able to press themselves. While there we got to see a beautiful tree where children hung little notes of the things and people they are grateful for. We also got to see a beautiful set of wings they children help create that the get their picture taken with when they graduate from the facility.

For purposes of keeping identities confidential I cannot show you this art work , but they were truly beautiful.

Music Therapy. A whole room dedicated for play through music. Singing inspiring songs together, playing drums or simply listening to their peers.

Be Brave Ranch Music Room

In addition there is special rooms such as the yoga room, where kids can choose not to participate or to try if they’d like. There is a special room called the Aboriginal Room, where they have a visiting elder talk with and share spiritual practices with the children. The room however is meant for any spiritual guidance and acceptance.

 

There is also time for play. Play in the large gym, the house sized playhouse in the yard, the playroom, dress up night at the movie theatre and so much more. Allowing these young victims to connect to their childhood.

They also have two special rooms. One where people from all over have made and donated blankets and sent them in with letters of love. Each child gets a letter and a blanket as they arrive. In addition they have a magic room filled with toys, which each child also gets a toy to be their own.

In a separate cabin from where the therapies and play happen are safe rooms, each child getting their own and they are checked on every hour by staff!

This place is so magical and healing all at the same time. I feel honoured and lucky to have bee able to tour.

Because these therapies and program is so new, they haven’t been able to receive any government funding. They are in the process of it all to get this funding, but currently the whole place is run all by donation. Donation of generous companies and individuals.

Please help support this wonderful facility any way you can. Check out my 5 Ways To Help Charities That Aren’t Donating Money post for some ideas, if financially it’s not in your budget. Our check out the website of ways you can help or items they are looking for on their wishlist. In addition there is a Yoga Fundraiser happening December 10th in support of Little Warriors and The Be Brave Ranch.

If you know of someone needing the support of the Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch, please APPLY HERE

Thanks for reading and supporting.

The Bitchin' Housewife

Jen is a yoga teacher, fitness enthusiast and health blogger over at www.BitchinHousewife.com

In Christmas, From the Editors, Parenting on
October 19, 2017

5 Ways To Help Charities (That Aren’t Donating Money)

We are leading into a time of year that many charities are in need. Often the problem I am finding (especially in these times) is that people struggle to financially give to Charities, but want to find a way to help.

 

I am a firm believer in the “Do what you can, when you can”, so finding other ways to help is a great option if financially it’s just something you cant do.

I actually grew up with little money in my family. We had 4 children and for a few years my mom was a single mother. But one of the best memories I have on a Christmas day was volunteering at a local soup kitchen as a family. This is something I dream of to do with my own kids. My youngest is still a tad young, but when they are ready we will be helping any way we can.

Help Charities

  1. Donate what you DO have. This can be those extra clothes in your closet, like that jacket you hate but keep around for whatever reason. Donate it to a homeless shelter and keep someone warm this winter. Coats For Kids is a great cause to send them off to. Clean out the pantry of those food items you can spare or are not eating and take them to your local Food Bank.                                                                                                                                  
  2. Organize a drive. Take donating to the next level and organize a drive for a charity. Personally I’ve been involved in a few like Bundle The Bissell for a homeless shelter in Edmonton. We try and draw people out and donate while they come to get even MORE items sent to those in need.
  3. Volunteer at a fundraising event or on location. Use your time to stuff envelopes going out to contributors or drive toys to those without during the holidays. Over a 2 day period Santa’s Anonymous Driver donates over 25,000 toys each year and needs drivers to deliver them!                                                                                                                                                        
  4. Volunteer your time as a professional. Heather Innes the Lead Volunteers from United Way Calgary says there motto for volunteering is you Time, Talent or Treasure. Well if you have a special talent, maybe find a way to help out. In Calgary there are Calgary Tac Clinic Low Income that help low income families files their taxes with volunteer accounting professionals to ensure they get the most benefits possible.
  5. Sharing that there is need. I get it. Sometimes we may find ourselves struggling and even time is hard to come upon. Two years ago my husband was laid off from his job and I spent every extra hour I could working to help with the bills. Reach out to friends and share with them a campaign that speaks to you. Share on your Facebook and Tweet away! The more people that know of the need, the more people we can find to help out.

How does your family help support the needy?

The Bitchin' Housewife

Jen is a yoga teacher, fitness enthusiast and health blogger over at www.BitchinHousewife.com

By /
In Contests, Edmonton, From the Editors on
October 15, 2017

Edmonton Fall Home Show Contest

The Edmonton Fall Home Show runs October 20-22nd 2017 and we are so excited! They have a huge line up of presentations on the mainstage (including Kortney and Dave Wilson from the hit show Masters of Flip) that will inspire you! You will leave the show with the information to flip, DIY, Relove, design and go green all in one place. You can see a full list of mainstage presenters here and the full Urban Barn Mainstage schedule here.

We are also excited to have our own Alberta Mama Deanne Ferguson from Box Social Event Planning taking part in their DIY Inspiration: Notable Nightstand challenge presented by Rust-Oleum Canada in support of Habitat for Humanity. She went shopping at Habitat for Humanity and using only Rust-Oleum® paints and stains and a frugal $50 design budget she has created two nightstands that you can bid on at the show with 100% of proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity. You can follow her progress as well as the other participants on social media by following the hashtag #EFHS17.

Not only is there a ton of stuff for your home the foodie in you will love the cooking stage area where you can learn how to transform your left overs, the art of cake, how to brunch fresh & locally, learn how to make spicy pickles and more. For a full cooking stage schedule click here.

The contest!

We want you to go and enjoy the Edmonton Fall Home Show and take home some items from Urban Barn! Enter below to win four tickets to the Edmonton Fall Home Show as well as:

Tatiana Tray Small Grey

Benton Throw Ash Rose

Family Photoline Display

STOP! Before you enter below please note that you MUST be able to pick up items and attend the show in Edmonton October 20-22nd.

Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: This post & giveaway was sponsored but all opinions are our own*

Things I’ve Learned Being Married for 10 Years

Time flies when you are having fun.

Too cliche? Maybe but it is true. Getting married and starting a family was the best choice I’ve made but I have learnt a lot from being married for 10 years.

This weekend my husband and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. We got married relatively young (21 & 24) and didn’t date for a huge amount of time. We jumped in with two feet and have changed a lot in 10 years.

Here’s what I’ve learned after being married this long:
  1. His chewing still bugs me. I thought this would go away or become cute. Nope. Still can’t stand it.
  2. Watching him parent is frustrating because he doesn’t respond the way I would. Because of this I have learned so much from him and have become a better parent by watching and learning.
  3. He gets cuter with age.
  4. He still doesn’t put the dishes away.
  5. Gift days like birthdays and anniversaries aren’t important. Everyday gestures like how he stops and gets my favourite chips on the way home from work are important.
  6. We fight. A lot.
  7. We make up more.
  8. He knows exactly how to push buttons and piss me off quicker than anyone else but that is because he knows me better than anyone else.
  9. He knows how to make me the perfect cup of coffee and will hand it to me before talking in the morning.
  10. He’s been in the family long enough that I don’t have to explain where he is after Christmas dinner. Everyone knows he is downstairs napping. Usually with kids jumping all over him.
  11. I complain about his snoring but when he is gone for the night it doesn’t feel right.
  12. We can push each other to do more as a couple than we did individually. Settling and living a boring life is not an option for us so we make sure we encourage each other to get out of our comfort zones.
  13. We can have very different opinions on the big topics (religion, politics, finances, etc) couples fight about and still be happily married.
  14. We can still kiss and mean it. Butterflies and all.

Box Social Event Planning

In From the Editors, Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
September 17, 2017

Yes My Kids Can Walk Home Without an Adult

I am sitting at my computer writing the most ridiculous letter right now. I am writing to the school my children attend and the bus company that transports them to give permission for my kids (6&9 years old) to get picked up and dropped off without me standing at the bus stop. No they don’t have to cross a busy hi-way, walk along a busy street, or walk for a half an hour to get home. They have to walk by six houses. That’s it. It is all on the same sidewalk and I can see them the whole time.

For anyone that have experience with school bussing you know they are never on time. Totally fine. Shit happens. I don’t blame the driver for having to go through construction, wait for a kid, etc etc. What I do not like is having to stand out at the corner waiting for 20+ minutes in the cold if they are late when I can see them get off the bus from my window.

Why is this a thing?

As parents aren’t we able to be the ones that choose whether our kids can do something? Why have we become so scared that someone is going to take our kids, the kids will get lost, or they will encounter a rabid dog off their leash on their walk home from school? We recently have started letting the kids go to the park alone. They are completely out of our sight. But they aren’t able to walk past six of our neighbours (that we know!) houses alone because a blanket rule was placed by the district?

I know every school is different and I hope that more schools allow their students to walk home if the parent chooses but that is the point – the parent should be able to choose.

We want to know:

What is your school routine like? Do your kids walk home from school without you? Or do you prefer to be with them. At what age would you let your child walk by themselves?

Box Social Event Planning

In From the Editors, Lifestyle, Parenting on
September 6, 2017

What Mrs. Word Taught Me

From a very early age I was lucky enough to develop a love of reading. My parents have photos of me dragging a bottle, blanket, and a book everywhere I went.

I like to think I still do the same thing, just the bottle is usually a great California red instead.

I will stay up all night to devour a book –forgetting to sleep or eat, and I strongly believe this love of reading has led to every success I’ve had in my career. I don’t fear research or learning because words fascinate me and renders time still.

My mom grew up in a family of 11 siblings, and as one of the eldest s, e spent quite a bit of time helping her own mom out at home. It led to a fear of reading out loud in the classroom – and unfortunately stopped her from discovering a love of reading during her formative years.

40 years later one of her best friends was a teacher at one of Edmonton’s inner city schools and she was trying to get kids excited about reading. After hearing the struggles my mom (always the creative soul) recognized that she could help. She had always wished she got into reading at an early age and she could connect with the kids who were not feeling the adventure associated with picking up a book.

Mom created “Mrs. Word”. She wore a brightly coloured dress (think Mrs. Frizzle), big glasses with windshield wipers, and an energetic smile that could get any kid to look up and pay attention. She started by visiting her friend’s school and 15 years later she has volunteered in dozens of Edmonton’s classrooms, even volunteering in classrooms around the province, into the Yukon, and Prince Edward Island. Many years ago, she even hosted a spelling bee on A-Channel (now CityTV).

I thought I would ask her about the importance of Early Childhood Literacy and what inspired her;

How did you come up with Mrs. Word?

A friend needed help developing her literacy program – and I wanted to have something related to books that kids could really gravitate towards. Mrs. Word was a pretty simple name but it was her energy and her attitude that really got kids’ attention.

Why is reading so important for kids?

It opens a lot of doors for their future. You can do anything with books. You can travel, you can see the world, you can be a part of something so much bigger than the world you live in.

I wasn’t a good reader when I was younger, but as I got older I realized the importance, the value, and the enjoyment of reading. The emotions I felt when reading, I never thought I could experience. It helps you recognize aspects of your own life when you read that you never paid attention to before.

What is one of your best memories as Mrs. Word?

After I told  a classroom about my own struggles with reading as a young girl, and how it was very difficult for me, one of the students put her hand up very bravely in front of her whole class and said “Mrs. Word – that’s me too. It’s hard for me too”. Many, many years later I will never forget that moment.  

Why did you choose to do this as a volunteer?

It was an opportunity for me to be creative and do some good in this world. We all should be doing some good in this world.

Your first grandchild is on the way – do you think he/she will get to meet Mrs. Word?

I hope so!  

*(Note from the author – I hope so too!)

My dad has always loved to read – and there is no question when you see both of us sitting across from each other at a table reading while ignoring the world around us, that we are related.

But it is my mom’s commitment to early childhood literacy that made me realize how important and influential reading has been on my life. As a new school year begins I want to wish good luck to the many creative teachers and parents out there who will be working hard to get kids to love reading. Getting kids excited about reading is the first step.

Suzanne Pescod is an expecting mama as well as Marketing & Communications Director for  and  board member(Capital Awards). Find her onTwitter and Instagram