Saturday, March 14, 2020

Best Family Board Games for Bored Kids (Aged 3-6)

With the threat of a COVID-19 quarantine looming, some people are panicking over toilet paper and hand sanitizer. My mind, however, has wandered to the daunting task of entertaining children indoors for 2 weeks straight.

I don't have answers for a lot of what's about to happen, but over the past couple of years I have discovered some really great kid friendly games that I thought I would share with you. Hopefully not many of us encounter a full on quarantine, but board games are also ideal social distancing activities, and are actually pretty fun even without the threat of a virus taking over our world.

Here are my tried and true board games (I use the term 'board' lightly - mostly meaning these are packaged games with rules, as young children often need something a bit more interactive than traditional board games allow). Most of these are for kids aged 3-6, but some skew younger or older. Also, one of my prerequisites is these games must be fun for parents as well (sorry Toilet Trouble).

This is essentially a twist on a card game, and is pretty fun for parents too (my husband and I have been known to have a head to head match after the kids tire of it). Each player flips over a card with images on it and tries to match the picture with an overturned card in the middle. There is one matching image on every card, so it's a matter of who finds their's first. My son is 5 and loves this game, although when I play with him I sometimes give him a few extra seconds to look for his match. 

One of my favourite games as a kid and the only true 'board game' on this list, Chutes & Ladders basically teaches the consequences of rolling the dice. If you land on a ladder you move up, if you land on a chute (or snake) you move down the board. Easy to play when assisting younger kids, and older kids can have fun counting the spaces (bonus: LEARNING).



This game has been a staple in our house since my son was 2 years old. The point of the game is to completely build your bug, and the rules can be as loose or rigid as your child's development allows for. It's fun for the whole family and really easy for young kids to grasp. I tired looking online to purchase it and couldn't find any retail outlets selling it in Canada - so the link in the title is to If you find one second hand grab it up!

I think my favourite thing about this classic card game is that you can play it with any card like items you have. We play it with matching games, a regular deck of cards, or specific decks, like the one I linked to. It is awesome for memory, learning about numbers or animals (or whatever is on the deck you are playing with), and is easy to understand for younger kids as well. 

I must admit, my 5 year old has legitimately beat me in this game. We have been playing since he was 2 years old and at first it was just fun for him to put the pieces in one by one as we took turns. Now that he's 5 he is fully committed to lining up 4 pieces in a row. While he still doesn't quite grasp connecting the pieces on a diagonal, he sometimes beats me because I'm paying attention to my offensive strategy rather than defensive. 

Magic Sketch Boogie Board   

Although the word 'board' is in this title this is actually a writing/drawing tablet that erases with the push of a button. My favourite thing about the Boogie Board is that my toddler can't draw on my walls with it.

There you have it - a list of my favourite board games for bored kids age three to six. I just did an Amazon panic purchase of a few more - Trouble, Guess Who?, and The Floor Is Lava - so I'll keep you posted on how those turn out. What gems am I missing? Drop me a comment with your favourite games to play with your kids. Let's share our entertainment knowledge with each other to make these uncertain times a bit easier!


Friday, September 14, 2018

That's One Sexy Mother

Feeling sexy and being a mom are two opposing forces in my brain; which is pretty weird considering sex is what got me into this situation in the first place. 

Recently I went away for a girl’s weekend with my sister, and something was ignited inside of me. I came home feeling fired up; hot, sexy, confident… only to have that fire put out after 24 hours of mothering. That’s when it clicked. For me, being a mom is like putting a wet blanket on my sexuality. It’s not something I’ve intentionally done to myself, but it’s something that has absolutely happened, and I need to fix it.

To be clear, I’m not saying that since becoming a mom I have been frigid; things have been… fine. But the confident desire that once exuded from me has dulled, and in truth there have been times where I didn’t think it would ever come back.

I’ve never been the typical ‘hot girl’, but before I had kids I felt quite confident. I remember being heavily pregnant with my first son on the Metro in Montreal, and no one was looking at me in the way they once did. I realized that, although I didn’t yet feel like one, to these people I was already a mother. And that’s what I’ve been for the past four years when I go out in public. I’m a ‘mom’, and to be honest I’m often a frazzled, frumpy, stressed out mom at that. I’m not trying to say all of my confidence comes from the attention of others, but damn - feeling desired sure does provide a great ego boost sometimes, and what’s wrong with that? 

"Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will." 
–  Venus Williams

Let’s face it; there are super valid reasons for having a shitty self-image and therefore a lower sexual vibe after becoming a mom. Stitches in the vag, weight gain, acne, night sweats, weird veins, cellulite, skin tags, stretch marks… and lets not forget or diminish how breastfeeding completely takes away the sexuality of our knockers. The list of changes to our bodies are endless, with the majority of them being what society would consider ‘flaws’. At times it feels nearly impossible to be sexual when your body has changed so much and your hormones are a mess. You’ve got kids hanging off of you, you are exhausted, and to top it off society looks at you as a mom, and not a fine ass woman.

Now timing is everything, and this recent trip with my sister ticked all the boxes for me: I’m a year out from having my final child (which feels amazing to know), the hormones are finally dwindling, I’ve been taking better care of myself physically and emotionally, and I am no longer breastfeeding.  I was completely ready to do something just for me.

I don’t remember the last time I spent 2 hours getting ready for a night out. It felt so good to put an immense amount of effort into my appearance, and I felt hot. I’m not sure if I actually looked hot, or if I was projecting my feelings about myself onto others, but it kind of seemed to me like people were paying attention. It honestly feels like ages since I’ve been looked at in a sexual way from anyone other than my husband, and whether it was all in my head or not, it made me feel amazing.

“Self-confidence is the most attractive quality a person can have. How can anyone see how great you are, if you can’t see it yourself?" 
- Unknown

So here’s my high level motivational speaker thought that came out of all this; Maybe for the past 4 years people have actually thought of me as attractive, but because I have felt poorly about myself I couldn’t see it. And if that’s true, then it doesn’t fucking matter how others perceive me, what matters is ONLY how I feel about myself. Gulp.

I feel like I’m at a place in my journey into motherhood that I can truly start to believe this, but from one mom to another I want you to know that if you aren’t there yet it’s absolutely understandable. Our bodies, minds, and who we are as people change so dramatically when we become moms. It only makes sense that our sexuality also gets thrown totally out of whack. But, when you are ready, let’s all agree that we can be amazing caregivers AND be super sexual fierce confident woman. Embracing that sexiness doesn’t conflict with being a mother in any way, in fact it only makes us more complete and whole people.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Because Of Las Vegas

This probably sounds cliché and a bit morbid, but I can't stop thinking about the parents that died senselessly in Las Vegas on the weekend; Young vibrant people with small carefree children. What a huge shift in day-to-day reality these families must be experiencing now.
It makes me, selfishly, think about how if I was to leave tomorrow, my kids might not have a memory of me. And it hurts me so deeply for them.
I've been quite open about how parenthood has been challenging for me, but the challenges have always been because of my own shit, never ever because of them. They are the most amazing kids. They make me laugh every single day, and at least once a day I think of how lucky I am to have them in my life.
I tell them probably a hundred times a day that I love them. Every night I whisper in my oldest's ear 'I love you so much'. We joke back and forth 'I love youuuuu more!', but I know I will always love him more. My youngest can't talk yet, but he brings so much joy to my world I actually can't even comprehend it myself. He's the happiest baby and my heart bursts thinking of him.
Parenting can be really difficult, and it's easy to get caught up in the bad moments when life is busy and crazy. But in spite of all the complexities, nothing can ever change how much I love my family. I can only hope that one day I get the opportunity to express that immense love to my children, when they are old enough to truly understand it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Roy's Home Birth Story

*Disclaimer: Trigger warning for those that have dealt with birth loss or birth trauma. 

I had been worried sick about going into labour naturally since I found out I was pregnant for the second time. Being induced with my first son was one of the toughest experiences of my life, and I wanted to try to avoid it at all costs. So much so, that I planned for an all natural no med home birth. I'm not really a 'granola' person, I just knew that my first birth had all the drugs in the world and was in the hospital ... and it still sucked big time; there had to be a better way. So I figured, why not try the complete opposite?

My biggest fear was that my body just wasn't built to go into labour on its own, and the same medical induction process would have to happen with baby number 2. As a result of my paranoia, for about a week leading up to Roy's birth I tried all the old wives tale tricks to 'naturally' get things going: dates, evening primrose oil, sex, walking, acupuncture, bouncing on a yoga ball... you name it.

The morning I went into labour I had gone to chiro and then for a 30min walk. As soon as I got home, around 11am, I started having contractions 10 minutes apart. They weren't too strong, especially compared to the manufactured contractions I experienced with my first birth, but they were regular enough to pay attention and start timing. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I was excited. Maybe I could trust my body after all...

The contractions got closer together and around 2:30pm I called my midwife Tiffany to say maybe this was it. She listened to a contraction and told me to call her back in an hour or when things were unbearable. At 3:30pm I called and told her to come check me - things were getting intense. It took Tiffany an hour to get to the house because it was now rush hour. By the time she got through the door things had ramped up a whole lot. I was moaning and really needed to focus to get through each surge. At one point I remember looking into my own eyes in the bathroom mirror between contractions and saying 'you can do this' over and over. At another I remember puking pretty hard. At another I remember feeling so infinitely tired, and another every single part of my body shaking.

When Tiffany first checked me around 4:30pm I was 7cm dilated. In the midst of the intensity I was so happy my birth was actually going as I had hoped, but was super scared to be doing it drug free. Fortunately things were happening so fast that I didn't really have time to opt for a different plan even if I had wanted to. Tiffany told me to switch positions every 15 min: shower, stairs, hands and knees, etc, until I made the transition to 10cm. This is when shit got real; Not only because of how overwhelming the labour process was, but because just a few minutes later we lost the sound of Roy's heartbeat on the doppler.

My husband called our doula Sydney, and she arrived around 5pm. At this point I'm on my bed in the fetal position. Trying to change positions at this deep in the game was pure agony, but I had to because we weren't getting a good reading of the baby's heart rate. When I moved to my hands and knees the primal urge to start pushing kicked in, and it was like nothing I have ever felt or can accurately explain. In this position the heartbeat was gone completely. The other problem was Tiffany's back up midwife had not yet arrived to help deliver, so she was on her own.

At this point things get a bit blurry, but I remember being told to lie down and push the baby out RIGHT NOW. Sydney was instructed to call 911 for fetal heart rate. During my first contraction pushing Tiffany told me I needed to push harder; but I was giving it everything I had. I thought to myself that I was failing my baby, I wasn't doing my job good enough, and I wouldn't be able to get him out in time to save his life. On my second contraction I pushed with everything I had in the whole fucking universe, and he actually came out.  Not only did he come out, but he came out just a screamin'. I heard my husband say "You did it, you did so good!" I've never been so happy to hear a baby cry in my entire life. He was perfect - strong heartbeat, big, healthy. I had pushed out a 8lb 7oz, 21" boy in 10 minutes. It's absolutely amazing what our bodies can do.

Just a few minutes later both EMS and the second midwife arrived. They were told the baby was all good, but checked him out just to be sure. At this point it was placenta time (yay!), however nothing seemed to be happening in my body to facilitate this process. The midwife flagged the problem to the EMS attendants and asked them to stay just in case I needed to go to the hospital; apparently the placenta should be 'born' 15-30 minutes after birth, otherwise there is a risk of bleeding. Time was ticking away and it was still inside of me, and a lot of blood started pooling behind it in my uterus. Then a bunch of stuff happened really quickly which included the midwives hands and arms inside my lady bits, and I got an oxytocin IV to slow the bleeding. Then the cord broke off the placenta, which was apparently very bad, and I was told I was being transferred to the hospital.

I somehow managed to walk down my stairs and was then loaded up onto the stretcher and pushed into the ambulance. Just then, I felt major cramping and suddenly out came the placenta. Because we hadn't drove away yet my midwife asked if we could just wait in the back of the ambulance for 10 minutes in front of the house. My blood loss leveled out, and I was brought back to my bed with my new baby boy... all in all I lost 600cc's of blood. I guess we just had to put on a show for the neighbours before wrapping everything up.

Even with all the unexpected events, and no medication, this birth experience was better than my first. It was powerful, emotional, scary, and intense, but I was actually in control of everything. Even though at times my body took over, and I was forced to go along for the ride and not know where it would end up, it was better than being forced to lie on my back in a hospital bed for hours on end trying to manage contractions that weren't actually doing anything. 
Roy Zander - 8lbs 7oz

I know some people will read this and think these scary moments could have gone way worse because I was at home rather than the hospital. But I trusted my midwife immensely, and although the transfer time in the ambulance would have been a factor, she would have been administering the same medical attention as a doctor would have during that time. Obviously you can't predict what will happen, at home or in a hospital. I'm just grateful that my boy is healthy, I was surrounded by caring knowledgeable people during one of the craziest days of my life, including my husband, midwife, and doula. I had a healthy baby boy and am recovering well, and I actually got to experience the birth I wanted. 

Above all else, in spite of being so happy to have my 2 sons and the crazy life giving experiences that go along with them, I am extremely ecstatic that I never ever ever ever have to be pregnant and give birth again.

If you have any questions about how I prepared for my home birth (there were many things that actually really helped) please feel free to message me or post a question in the comments. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Things Don't Get Easier, Only Different.

Recently a few friends of mine have had babies, and it got me thinking about being a new mom. Also, my son turned two and I've been reflecting about those first few months. For me, it was such an overwhelming experience. Not only was I learning how to truly take care of another human for the first time, but the personal changes in my lifestyle were hard to accept.

New Baby, New Mom
Looking back now, there are times I actually wish I had a new baby instead of a toddler. They were so easy... sleep, eat, cry, coo, repeat... right? But when I was in it, it wasn't easy. The lack of sleep was severely impactful. Feeling like I was doing everything wrong when I couldn't get him to stop crying was soul crushing. Barely finding the time to eat, shower, or brush my teeth made me feel like I had lost my identity; My only purpose was to be a mom... and that was hard.

During the first months of being a mom I never thought I would look back in two years and think that time was easy. And it reality, it wasn't -- because I was learning an immense amount of shit in a very short amount of time. It's like when you look back at a relationship and only remember the good times even thought there was a lot of strife. Maybe this happens for an evolutionary reason; so we forget how bad it was and want to procreate again. At any rate, while I certainly don't know everything about raising a baby now, I ended up figuring out a system and process that worked for me, and things got easier. But here's the catch: as those things got easier, other crazy hard new things began to develop. And there I was, clueless again.

I'm sure if you asked older mothers, this is just the nature of raising a child. You finally figure out one milestone and the next comes and kicks you in the ass. This is why I say things don't get easier, they just get different. This is why looking back I remember more good than bad; because I figured those early trials out, and they don't seem so challenging anymore. The upcoming unknowns and the ones I'm currently in the thick of seem much more daunting than the stuff I have already made it through.

Having a toddler is a lot easier, and a lot harder than having a baby. He can tell me what's wrong, he sleeps through the night, he's super funny, and he has basic needs that I understand how to fulfill - which are all great. But he also expects fairly constant entertainment with parent participation, and the games he enjoys at this stage I personally find so boring and hard to get into. He is starting to do bad things like hit, yell, and throw stuff when he's mad, and if I don't watch him for one minute you better believe he's into something he shouldn't be.

I love my son, and I love that he challenges me every day. I feel like a bad mom when I admit to finding his stages a struggle, but the reality is going through these periods with him do make me a better person. It's this perspective I try to keep when I am tired of it all. Being a mom has made me learn more about myself than I ever thought possible, and while it's hard, it's a process that only expands my knowledge and perception. For this, I am grateful for all the daily struggles.