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Fort McMurray

In Parenting on
November 4, 2018

Tips For Parents Of Picky Eaters

The meal time struggle is real.

No matter what you make, bake, cook, or blend there is always someone at the table that is less than impressed with what is for supper. And for some reason it is always supper at our house that is the struggle. The boys go through phases of picky eating and being more adventurous it seems which also throws me for a loop. One day they just want plain noodles and chicken fingers and the next they are shocking you and eating a plate of fish (after 10 years of me coaxing, offering, trying, fighting, bribing… you get the idea) and liking it.

So I’ve come up with some tips and tricks that have helped me throughout the years. These may not work for every family but they have definitely helped ours. I’d love to hear your thoughts on meal times and how you make them more manageable too!

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In Parenting, Random Thoughts on
October 20, 2018

The Birthday Tradition I Accidentally Started

I used to go BIG for birthdays. That is actually one of the things Box Social Event Planning did when I started the business. We planned parties for parents that wanted that “Pinterest” party but didn’t have time. We would do such elaborate parties that one time we brought 8 foot trees into a play place to create a perfect Woodland Theme.

But then I stopped. Because I didn’t understand why I was throwing all this time and energy into one day for a little human that wouldn’t even remember it. I still love scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram and seeing beautiful, well curated parties but it just doesn’t work for our family anymore.

I wanted my kids to still have memorable birthdays though. Not something that just blipped by. And then we got the Birthday Banner.

I am not sure when it started but it has become a tradition in our house to hang the Birthday Banner. I remember picking it up at Target (sigh I miss Target even though the Canadian one wasn’t as good as the American one) and hanging it up for one of my kids’ birthdays. It was a September birthday and it was a very busy time for our family between school starting (being married to a teacher in September is not fun) and a busy event schedule for myself. So we threw up the banner and sang Happy Birthday to my youngest around Eggo Waffles topped with whipped cream from a can.  Then I brought it out for the next one. Now a few years later it is something my kids love waking up to. It is made out of felt and gets hung in the same spot every time. Sometimes it gets fancy 3M hooks, other times it is held up by green painters tape.

But it is always there.

 

It took me a while but I have realized that the kids do not care about all the decorations, the cake, the late night party planning. They don’t care whether they have Pinterest worthy handmade cupcakes or a cake bought on the way home from work with a generic “Happy Birthday” on it. They want you to be there. To be present. To sing “Happy Birthday” and watch them blow the candles out not be worried about all the other stuff.

So from now on that is my goal. To be present. And hang the banner every birthday.

 

Box Social Event Planning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deanne Ferguson is the owner of Box Social Event Planning. When she is not planning fun, family, friendly events she is finding the yummiest food for the Edmonton Home and Garden Show Food Stage. She loves her #cocktailsMonday dates with her husband and chasing around her two boys. You can find her at @DeanneFerguson on Instagram and @BoxSocialYEG on Twitter.

Risky Play in Your Own Backyard

Risky Play has been one of those terms parenting experts have been throwing around a lot lately. I think we have all seen the video of the playground in New York where it looks like the kids are playing in a junkyard and no parents are around. The fun that the kids are having is apparent in their faces but we have yet to find a park like that in Alberta and realistically no one wants all that junk in the backyard.

A few weeks ago we posted on Instagram (If you aren’t already following us on Instagram you can do that here) a few videos of Deanne’s kids playing in the backyard with tree stumps and boards. We had so many questions about it that we decided to write a “how to” for you to bring more risky play into your backyard without it looking like a junkyard.

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Simple Ways to Curate Lasting Memories

Simple Ways to Curate Lasting Memories

At the centre of my childhood were simple experiences rich with texture and wrought with meaning.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was able to appreciate the beauty in the simple togetherness my mom wove into the fabric of our family.  Our family didn’t have a lot of money so my mom got creative.  I find myself using many of her ideas with my own children and I enjoy coming up with my own.  Time is the precious gift our children want above all.  Here are some of my favorite memory makers!  I would love to hear about yours.

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5 Ways to Save This Summer

After what has seemed like a never-ending winter, summer has finally arrived! After being stuck inside all winter, Albertans definitely know how to take advantage of our short summer months. Along with longer days come festivals, food trucks, day trips and weekends exploring our beautiful province. The downside? All of these things can be financially draining for a family.

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In Health, Lifestyle, Random Thoughts on
May 11, 2018

Ramadan 101

By Mona Ismaeil

The time has come when you may find yourself in those awkward situations where you offer your colleague something to eat or drink and they say they are fasting! Ramadan is near! It doesn’t have to be awkward! Here is what you need to know about Ramadan and your workplace:

What is Ramadan?

The Holy month of Ramadan is a very spiritual month for Muslims around the world. For 30 days, Muslims will refrain from food, drink, smoking and spousal relations from sunrise to sun set. Between these hours, Muslims fast. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.  There are a number of reasons Muslim fast during Ramadan. The first is that it shows devotion to Allah (God). Secondly, during periods of fasting there is a heightened spirituality and closeness to God. The time of the year includes more prayers, reading of the Holy Qur’an and gathering in remembrance of God.  Next, Muslims practice self-control and finally there is a recognition of the many blessings we are granted. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims are required to give a percentage of their wealth to those in need in an act of charity.

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In Parenting on
May 6, 2018

DIY Bird Feeder You Can Make With The Kids

This week we made a bird feeder out of materials we had laying around.

With Earth Day being last weekend we have been talking a lot about the environment, recycling and nature. My 6 year old has been asking alllllll the questions. Why do people litter? Why do we throw away so much stuff? Why do we drive everywhere? You don’t realize the amount of waste you create until you have a kid in Grade One calling you out on every piece of plastic you throw away. I have been smuggling saran-wrap and ziploc bags into the garbage like a rum runner smuggling contraband booze in the 20’s.

So we decided to make a bird feeder with things we have laying around the house to a) give him something to do so I don’t have to answer questions about my non-compostable plastic containers and b) to show him that we can reuse and re-purpose things.

What you will need:

  • toilet paper roll
  • peanut butter
  • bird seed
  • patience – because they will want to do it all themselves

Step 1:

Gather supplies ahead of time before you tell your child you are making something. They are impatient and will ask you 10000000 questions while you are setting things up. Pour the bird seed onto a plate to make clean up easier. Don’t worry about cleaning off all the toilet paper off the roll. This isn’t Pinterest. No one has time for that.  *not noted on the supplies list but this would be a good time to make sure you have a glass of wine ready for after you make a mess with the kids. If you sit and drink the wine until your husband gets home he may even clean up for you*

Step 2:

Get them to cover the roll with peanut butter. This works on their fine motor skills, grasping and pinching muscles which help with writing. That is what you say to your husband when he comes home and sees peanut butter all over the counter and you are on the couch with the wine we mentioned above. You may have to hold the roll for them at the end so it does’t slip onto the floor. No one has time to mop. Unless you have a dog that will come clean up the mess on the floor. Then let the kid do the whole thing.

Step 3:

Roll the peanut butter covered roll in the birdseed pressing down so the seeds stick. Notice how long your kids’ fingernails are and how much dirt is under them. Add “bath time” to the list of things your husband needs to do while you help your self to another glass of wine after he gets home.

Step 4:

Thread the string through the tube and tie a knot so it can hang in the tree. This is great practice tying knots with your kids so they don’t end up wearing velcro shoes for the rest of their life. Nothing wrong with velcro – it is just really really hard to find velcro shoes when they get past size 3. I’m saving you time and money.

Step 5:

Take the cute picture to post later on Instagram to show everyone that you craft with your kids. #goals #instalove #blessed

Step 6:

Hang it in the tree in a spot they can see out the window so they aren’t asking you to lift them up a million times. Make sure they are inside to watch the birds eat. No bird will come to the bird feeder when an excited kid yells “BIRD! A BIRD IS HERE EATING! MOM I SEE A BIRD!” every time they come close.

Step 7:

Check the time. The husband is probably home soon so get that wine ready.

Alberta Mamas – One Year Later

Alberta Mamas is ONE! One year ago we had this crazy idea to work with parents around the province to create a resource for families, a place to find hidden gems in Alberta, and a place where people could share their thoughts in a safe place.  But it has become so much more because of all of you.

Alberta Mamas is a community.

We have learned so much from all of YOU! Every contributor post and conversation on social media has shown us that not only do we have way more places to discover in our beautiful province, but also thatAlberta is full of amazing, smart, and funny parents. You have made us giggle with your comments about your kids’ antics, made us feel like we aren’t the only ones dealing with difficult topics, and have offered sage advice when we have needed it.

“At first I loved seeing our passions come together. Passions for community, business and social media. And it’s grown so much more then that. We are all still passionate but it’s been beautiful to know my friends (and community around us) even better. It’s amazing to see the vision we created for community coming together. In a collaborative and inclusive way.” – Jen

We have also learned a lot from each other throughout the past year. It has not been all sunshine and rainbows. The six of us all have strong opinions and personalities which are bound to clash at some point. We can disagree, fight, and push each others buttons like siblings. But in the end we have got each others back 100% no matter what. We hold each other accountable and push each other to be better. We are each others biggest cheerleaders.

“The first thing I thought of when we started this was – yes I get to write stuff! Secondly though, it occurred to me that I would get to WORK with 5 totally different, totally strong inspiring ladies. Like, I have a legit reason to learn, bend the ears of and hang with 5 women I admire on the daily. And then on top of that, we get to read amazing pieces by moms (and sometimes dads) all over Alberta and share them in our “little” community. Makes a gal feel very blessed!” – Chris

When we first started this one of our goals was to give a voice to parents whether they had a blog or not. We have gotten to work with some amazing people and we love hearing their thoughts and opinions.

“I love that we’re creating a community where writers across the province can share their ideas, opinions and writing- whether they have their own established blog or not.” – Kim

We want to thank you all for commenting, liking, writing for us, sharing posts, offering your opinions and more throughout the past twelve months. Each action means so much to us.

We are excited to officially celebrate our first year (details announced soon) because to quote Kim – “Our parties are pretty fun too!”

 

Who are Alberta Mamas?

 

9 Activities For Kids That Will Actually Give You a Break

I don’t know about you but winter has been LOOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG. The kids are starting to feel cooped up and their behavior is reflecting that. We’ve rounded up our favourite ways to entertain the kids and we’ve even rated the activities so you know how long you will have.

Time Ratings:

  • 0-5 You can enjoy your coffee but drink fast because they will know they are being distracted soon. Easy to set up and execute though so recommended for mornings when you aren’t fully awake yet and need some time before you adult.
  • 5-10 Pour a coffee and sit somewhere comfortable. You will have time to leisurely drink it AND if you’re prepared you may even have time to flip through a magazine (you won’t have time to read the articles just look at the pretty pictures in Home and Garden and dream of a clean and organized home without Goldfish crackers smushed into the couch) or scroll through Instagram.
  • 10-15 For this one you will have time to clean out the dishwasher, get a clean mug, pour a coffee, and Pin seven different “recipes for picky eaters” that will never actually work. Even if you puree spinach and try to hide it in rice and call it HULK RICE because it is green; your toddler will still refuse to eat it.
  • 15-20 Wipe down the counters, sweep that rice off the floor from last nights supper with picky toddler (see above), plan supper for that night (it will be chicken nuggets & fries because you are still exhausted from last nights dinner battle), pour a coffee and you will STILL have time to Facebook creep all those people you went to high school with.

How to keep the kids busy inside during long Alberta winters:

  1. Build a Fort – It can be a blanket thrown over two chairs or you can get creative with boxes, tables, couches, and more. They won’t care as long as they can’t see you when they are inside. Throw in a blanket, a pillow, and let them have their afternoon snack inside for added time. Time Rating: 17
  2. Dance Party – Put on a kid friendly playlist (one of our Alberta Mamas made a fantastic list of 26 Kid-Friendly Dance Party Songs) and let them go crazy. Time Rating: 4
  3. Sensory Bins – Sensory bins are a great distraction and can range from easy (throw some pom poms and cups into a large container with tongs) to more labour intense (check out this snow and paint one Live It All In did with her kids) Time Rating: 8
  4. Painters Tape Racetrack – This is a favourite because it takes no effort and it will keep them entertained for a long time. You can even start the track, pass them the roll of tape and let them go crazy. At the end of the day just peel the tape up! Time Rating: 20+
  5. Pipe Cleaners and a Strainer – Start a few pipe cleaners to get them going and then walk away and let them create. Depending on the age you can add beads to work on those fine motor skills and playdough to create sculptures. Time Rating: 3-7 depending on their age
  6. Audio Books – When you just can’t quite wake up yet but your toddler is demanding another book put on an Audio Book. We found a cheap cd player that we put in our kids’ room and gave them a bunch of CD’s we’ve found at garage sales. You can also find them at your local library. Time Rating: 2
  7. A Box – The easiest one to set up but the longest thing they will play with. Make it a fort, attach some milk jug caps for buttons and paper plates for wheels and make a car, add blankets for a bed for their favourite doll, sit them inside with crayons or paint and let them go nuts. The list goes on! Time Rating: 20+
  8. Stacking Toys – Challenge them to build a tower as tall as they are with blocks. They will have to figure out how to make it sturdy enough to withstand the height guaranteeing you some quite time. Time Rating: 12
  9. Obstacle Course: Make a whole house obstacle course for them using stools to climb under, string between chairs for “lasers” they have to get through, painters tape in zigzags they have to balance and walk on, a small garbage bin they have to get a ball into. The possibilities are endless! Time Rating: 16

Box Social Event Planning

Top 6 Things To Say To Your Child Besides “Be Careful”

We’ve all been that parent yelling “Be Careful!!!” from the ground as your child is climbing up higher and higher, running faster and faster, and pedaling harder and harder. As adults we are only seeing the worst case scenario. The crashing and the tears. But we sound like parrots constantly telling our kids to be careful.

It is also hurting their confidence. Can you imagine if every time you unloaded the dishwasher your mom came running into the room yelling at you to be careful? After all there are knives in there. You may cut yourself!

So what can you say instead? We’ve rounded up our top 6 below:

Top 6 Things To Say To Your Child Besides “Be Careful”

  1. What’s your next move? – We’ve all seen our kids stuck in a position that they want to be rescued from. They climb too high and aren’t sure how to get down. Instead of running up and plucking them off, walk over slowly (as long as they aren’t in real danger of falling far) and ask them what their next move could be. I’ve done this so many times with my kids that they mostly can figure it out by the time I get there because they have had time to stop, breathe, and think about that next step.
  2. Sticks need space. Can you move that stick without hitting any people? If not, you need more space. – This one is pretty self explanatory. You know your child is going to pick up that stick and turn it into a light saber, twirling baton, sword etc. Make sure that you let them know it is ok to wildly swing it around as long as they are doing so in a safe space.
  3. !s that rock stable? – Jumping from rock to rock whether at the beach or at the park is great fun. Just help them be aware that some rocks move so they can get their balance right.
  4. Notice your body. – I think I say this more than any other. Having them notice their bodies and what they can/can’t do is so important so they can make the decision to move ahead or not. It also helps if you have a child like mine that has grown so much so quickly and has become clumsy. By getting him to be aware of his body and how it moves he has crashed into less things.
  5. Do you feel safe? – Teaching the kids when they should push themselves and when they should turn around and try a new option is a skill they will use forever.
  6. I’m here if you need me. – We are here to help push our kids to be independent but in the end they still need to know that we are here to help if they really need it. Not do it for them. Help them.