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*GIVEAWAY* Nuggets… a #OneDayKids Test Drive

I’ve been told I’m a bit of a pack rat. I am loath to part with anything, knowing that I can always find a use for it sooner or later (sometimes MUCH later). I hang on to clothes and shoes I’ve outgrown, cords from electronics that we no longer own and make up that is waaaaay past it’s expiration date, but the thing I hoard most is memories. I’ve always been like this; holding onto notes from high school, old movie ticket stubs and even luggage tags, but ever since I’ve had kids my pack rat tendencies have gone into overdrive! I keep so many of their clothes, photos of course, their hospital bracelets, locks of hair, lost teeth and every single piece of paper they have ever scribbled on – all with the intention of putting them into a gorgeous scrapbook that records their every move from the first contraction onwards. The trouble is, as all you moms know, along with the lack of space that comes with kids (and pack rats), there is also a significant lack of TIME! These beautiful scrapbooks are still a twinkle in my eye, and might see the light of day by the time my kids have kids of their own. That is why I am so thankful for the One Day app! It’s an instant movie maker app that makes it simple, fun and easy to create short movies of your child’s life! Their fun story sets include topics for babies, toddlers, kids and adults as well as some rotating themed ideas. Making memories is as easy as recording video snippets answering their question sets and pressing done! The app automatically stitches the videos together and adds music to make a gorgeous memory that you can share with family and friends. Best of all, it doesn’t take up any room in your house!

I decided to try my hand at recording some ‘words of wisdom’ for my munchkins to absorb when they’re a bit older. Hopefully they’ll get some nuggets out of it…..gold or otherwise!

YouTube Preview Image

 

Almost no one likes the sound of their own voice, and I’m no exception, but I do like that I’m creating so many memories that my kids will have forever. With my own Dad’s passing recently, this is more important to me than ever and I love how easy the One Day app makes this.

Thanks to OneDay, as well as a TON of amazing bloggers (moi aussi, of course), not only do you get this fantastic time-capsule-in-an-app, but you can also win a $150 gift card to Amazon.com! The giveaway is open to the US and Canada, and you can enter as many times as rafflecopter allows. Good luck, have fun and PLEASE share all your gorgeous videos with me!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

All on the table disclaimer: While I was compensated for this post, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers. 

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Knock Knock

“Knock Knock”

“Who’s there?”

“Toilet”

“Toilet who?”

“Stinky-toilet-banana-breath-silly-face!”

 

It’s clear that my 5 year old is a budding humorist. Knock Knock jokes are the height of hilarity for her – the more nonsensical, the better. Given this love of laughter, I know she’ll get a big kick out of Netflix November line up of funny flicks.

 

Big Kids
      
      
Little Kids
      
      

If you’re looking to tickle your little one’s funny bone, or cold and flu season has hit your household particularly hard and all your munchkin wants to do is curl up on the couch, check out these titles for a big dose of comic relief. After all, laughter is the best medicine!

 

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam program, and receive special perks for sharing all my family’s favourites with you, dear reader. I was not financially compensated for this post.

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Just Say No

 

My children never fail to find the most appropriate times to drive home life lessons, and last night was no different. My 20 month old daughter finally started sleeping through the night about 2 months ago, but has been regressing as of late. She’s not screaming or crying or wanting to play at 2am, but she often wakes up several times a night, having lost her covers and soother, and once resettled, wants me to hold her hand. Not sing a song or rock her or rub her back for hours like her sister, just hold her hand. Not an overly demanding request, but one that has been wearing me down none the less.

 

Serious Aven

HOW DO YOU SAY NO TO THAT FACE?!

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October is Mystery Month #StreamTeam

October is one of my favourite months. For us Canadians, we get 2 holidays with both Thanksgiving and Halloween occurring in October, and the cool weather means a return to comfort food – stews and soups and casseroles, oh my!

With the days getting shorter and often rainier, I’m always looking for fun new ways to entertain my munchkins, so I decided to try my hand at an old favourite activity of mine – invisible ink! My 6-year-old being the drama queen that she is, always loves a bit of mystery so she was really excited to try her hand at this project.

Invisible Ink is a fun and easy project to do, although with the necessary heat involved, I would recommend it for older children. While there are many different ingredients you can use, we chose milk as it was what we had on hand. Follow these simple steps to try this mysterious craft for yourself!

Invisible Ink Instructions on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play Netflix #StreamTeam

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Healthy Family Expo Twitter Party RSVP

#HFESmallSteps Twitter Party

Being a parent is tough right? I don’t know about you, but being a sleep deprived working mama of 2 active girls is several full time jobs in and of itself, and as much as I love the conveniences that modern technology brings, I often find myself on information overload. There are so many articles, studies and blogs on what you should a NEVER feed your child, of the activities they should ALWAYS do – strict guidelines, rigid rules, extreme boundaries, absolute hardlines (often conflicting) – it’s enough to make his mama want to give up before I even start!

This is why I love the Healthy Family Expo, and am so excited to be an ambassador for them! They all about small steps and simple solutions to healthy, active and eco-friendly living for busy families. They get that many parents are overwhelmed by all the expert opinions that abound and need easy, actionable items, tools and encouragement (not shame and negativity) to make small, consistent changes toward a better life for ourselves and our families.

The Expo seems like a long way off (March 2015), but the fun is starting now! The Healthy Family Expo is hosting a Twitter Party on Tuesday, October 28 at 8pm PST to introduce some of their amazing sponsors and exhibitors to all of you – and give away over $1000 in prizes from Whole Foods Market, TravelSmart, London Drugs, Greener Print Solutions Inc., Cypress Mountain, AspenClean, Yaya Baby, In Good Company, Boomers & Echoes Kids & Maternity, Modern Mama, Love Child Organics, Pedalheads, Kristen Yarker, Child-Feeding Expert, ENJO (Kate Bailey), Naked Coconuts, SPUD, BC Playthings, Hydralyte, Norwex (Garcie Wong), GnuSanté, Bearfoot Playground and so many more!

Want in? It’s open to all of Canada, all you have to do is follow @HealthyFamExpo on Twitter, and use the hashtag #HFEsmallsteps to join the fun! Before you get the party started, be sure to follow our wonderful sponsors and co-hosts too (find them all here) and RSVP with the linky below in order to be eligible to win! Use your Twitter handle for ‘Your Name’ and any web address (website, blog, facebook profile etc) for the ‘URL’ as long as it starts with ‘http://’.
For example:

@heather_vmil

http://www.facebook.com/heather.vanmil

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#ThriftorTreat at Value Village

Value Village #ThriftorTreat Collage on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

Ever since my 6-year-old was very young, we’ve had a special, if unusual Halloween tradition. We typically travel to Ontario for Canadian Thanksgiving, which (for those who don’t know) falls at the beginning of October. One year we were traveling back to BC just before Halloween when we realized we didn’t have a costume yet, so we popped into the closest shop to my mother-in-law’s house, which happened to be a Value Village. We found a cozy costume that my daughter fell in love with, and the rest was history.

Cheer Bear CareBear Costume from Value Village

Our First Value Village Costume – Cheer Bear!

Every year we go to the same Value Village, find an awesome costume, and pay an average of about $7 per costume! Not only is it a great price, but I love that we teaching our kids that there are great options for well-loved, reused/recycled things instead I always looking to buy new. In our house, where dress up is a common activity, and we now have 2 fashionable girls playing, these costumes get well used!

Given this history, I was so excited to get an invitation to join in the #ThriftorTreat experience at the original Value Village here in Vancouver! As always, I was thrilled by my finds. Not only did I score the CUTEST plush princess Halloween basket (which my 6-year-old went crazy for), but an entire range of animal dress up gear. Animal play pretend is the game du jour around our house so they fit in perfectly! The grand total for our Halloween haul was a whopping $48.

Value Village #ThriftorTreat Halloween Haul

The impressive Halloween Haul from my Value Village #ThriftorTreat shopping spree!

Whether looking for new or used costumes, accessories, decor or more, thanks to North Shore Mama, one lucky reader will win their own $100 Value Village shopping spree so you can get your #ThriftorTreat on this Halloween!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sleep, Glorious Sleep!

So my 18 month old FINALLY slept through the night last night AND slept in. For those of you who are not intimately familiar with the sleep routines (or lack thereof) chez van Mil, this is a big deal. A really, REALLY big deal (hence all the CAPS and exclamation marks)!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sleeping Sisters

Rare moments of bliss when everyone is asleep!

After the initial terror of waking up convinced my baby had died in her sleep had faded, I had the most productive morning of her entire life. This morning I actually spent quality time playing Lego and reading books with my children – and enjoyed it – instead of zoning out in front of Curious George. I loaded, ran and unloaded the dishwasher, as well as packed my oldest’s lunch for school while they enjoyed the healthy breakfast I made for them, as opposed to my 6-year-old grabbing whatever she can reach from the fruit bowl or fridge and sharing with her sister, while we’re zoned out in front of Curious George. I did my daughter’s hair in her favourite loopdy-loop double pony tail instead of sending her to school looking like a poster child of neglect. I swept and steam mopped the kitchen, bathroom and hallway floors. I did 2 loads of laundry. I organized our cupboards. I even washed the dusty air vents and kitchen walls. I wrote and published this blog post. Most impressively, I greeted my hubby with a smile and a kiss when he came home from work, instead of the grunt and flick of the eyes that he usually gets when we’re zoned out in front of Curious George. All of this accomplished BEFORE 9 am. I am a new woman!

Double Twist Pony Hairstyle on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

Adri’s favourite “loopdy-loop” hairstyle, complete with barrettes

Now I’m assuming I’ll get absolutely nothing done for the rest of the day, but that’s fine by me. I can’t help but wonder, is this what normal people feel like? You know, those mythical creatures whose children sleep through the night on a regular basis? At first I didn’t believe they existed, but now I’m starting to see the light – and the sleep – at the end of the tunnel.

 

Go on, torture me. Do your kids sleep well?

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Goodbye Daddy

Grief is a funny thing. It never looks exactly how you expect. You may have noticed it had been pretty quiet over here for the last few weeks. that is because my father unexpectedly passed away in the early hours of Friday, September 19. His sudden passing at the relatively young age of 64 has shaken our family and in the process, I’m learning what grief looks and feels like in my life.

Horse rides with Dad

Horsey rides with my Dad

If my relationship with my dad was a Facebook status, it would be “it’s complicated”. Our tumultuous past, coupled with the fact that we lived over 4000 km apart for the last 10 years has left me left me feeling at odds with the grieving process. Although we talked regularly and visited yearly, my Dad wasn’t a part of my daily life so his absence hasn’t impacted me in the same way that it has the rest of my family. His passing doesn’t quite seem real to me yet – logically I understand that he is no longer with us, but it isn’t tangible to me yet, and a large part of grieving for me is trying to get to that place where I really feel it deep in my bones.

Playing Music with Dad

Music was always a big part of our lives

The viewing was the first step on that journey. My Dad wished to be cremated, so we had a private family time to say goodbye beforehand. That hit home for me, seeing him then, but it also didn’t feel like him in a way. He was cold, and even his hair didn’t feel real. My sister in law aptly pointed out that she expected to hear loud snoring. In life, even while sleeping, my Dad was a loud man with a larger than life presence. Afterwards, the busy work that follows death occupied our time and spent our energies. Much of it was impersonal and left me feeling a bit numb so I looked for ways to remember my Dad that had meaning to me. My sister and I got matching tattoos in his honour as well as keepsake memorial necklaces filled with a bit of his ashes. And yet I felt like my grieving wasn’t complete. This “new reality” just didnt seem real to me.

Daddy Tattoo and Memoria Necklace

Tattoo and Memorial necklace – part of how I am keeping my Dad close

Next we will scatter his ashes. My mother, siblings and I all will take part in this ritual in ways that are personal and meaningful to each of us. I brought my Dad back home to BC with me, a place he always wanted to visit but never had the chance. I’m researching different options, but am thinking of renting Harleys and scattering his ashes along the Sea to Sky highway up to Whistler – arguably one of the most beautiful bike routes, and one I always wanted to travel with my Dad. Perhaps then I will finally come to terms with my father’s death, or maybe there are many more steps on my grieving journey.

My Dad and my daughter on his beloved Harley

My Dad and my daughter on his beloved Harley

Maybe it’s silly to put a timeline on mourning, perhaps it is a lifelong process. The first Christmas, birthday and Father’s Day without him. The first time an appliance breaks, a deck needs to be built or an oil changed and he isn’t there to help. There is a bit of mourning every time my 18 month old hears a motorcycle and says “Papa!” remembering a man she had only met twice. I often wonder what she thinks when that motorcycle passes by without stopping. Does she wonder why Papa doesn’t say hi? I’m sure I will grieve a bit when my own daughters are walking down the aisle with their Dad and mine isn’t there to witness it or reminisce when we walked the same path and shared a laugh on my wedding day.

Walking down the aisle with my Dad

Working hard to coordinate our steps

Whether this is a finite period of time with an end in sight, or a lifelong process that only ends when I do, it definitely isn’t what I expected. Even writing this post Is a way or mourning and remembering a man who, despite having a difficult and frustrating relationship with, was still my Daddy.

Toasting my Dad at his favourite watering hole

With my family, toasting my Dad at his favourite watering hole

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This Takes the Cake

Life Love and the Pursuit of Play Blogiversary

Exactly 365 days ago, a blogger was born. With many bloggers quitting after just 3 months, hitting 12 is a big deal! I wrote My Very First Blog Post having no clue what I was in for! Since then it has grown into something beyond anything I could have imagined, and I have loved most every minute. It is definitely my 3rd child, just as demanding as the other 2, but I still am so happy I made the decision to jump in.

In celebration of my Blogiversary, I’m looking back on my top 5 posts of the year.

1. Cake Tutorial: Olaf from Disney’s Frozen

2. Cake Tutorial: Princess Cake Castle

3. Cupcake Tutorial: Olaf from Disney’s Frozen

4. The Many Faces of Motherhood

5. Toddlers on a Plane: 7 Tips and Must Haves for Travelling with Toddlers

As you can see, the Pinterest machine has been good to me, making any cake post I throw out there a big hit. Very big. As in those 3 posts account for over 70% of all my traffic! In fairness, the stats are a bit off when I switched from wordpress.com to .org 6 months ago. Regardless, they are my biggest hits. Post number 4 however – The Many Faces of Motherhood – is the most meaningful to me. If you read just one, make it that one. It is the most honest, raw thing I have ever written, and is painfully close to my heart.

As I wrote back in my first foray into the blogosphere, I wasn’t going to classify or pigeonhole myself with a certain category of posts, and my Top 5 definitely reflect my hodgepodge style. Some might call it disorganized, scattered or rambling, I prefer smorgasbord, mosaic or melting pot. Whatever you call it, it is 100% me and I am so excited about what year 2 will bring!

Now, where’s the cake?