Thursday, 26 June 2014

This is what happens when I have 2 hours before daycare pickup

The other day, I only had to work until about 2. Seb was still happy as a clam at daycare, and Rob was home sick, so I walked around Yorkville for awhile before it was time to pick S up. I grabbed a skinny vanilla latte and hit up 2 of my favourite stores: Chapters and Sephora. Here's the damage.


Chapters

Book Library Onesie - Chapters is totally killing with their onesies right now. We're well past the onesie stage, but I couldn't pass the Book Library one up. I'll be gifting it to a friend soon.  I also love this one.

I Spy Little Wheels Book - We'll be doing our first flight with S this summer, and he loves the I Spy Little Books. He's never seen this one, so my plan is to pack it as a new book in his carry on.

Kate Spade File Folders in Gold Dots - I've been eyeing these for awhile now and finally picked them up. I can't resist pretty stationery.

Toronto Urban Strolls for Girlfriends - This is one of my most recent purchases that I am most excited about for summer. I'll write about post these books later, but if you need a great gift for a girlfriend, or even for yourself, these 2 city walking guides just for women in Toronto are perfect!

Sephora

Nars Blush in Orgasm - I'm getting a bit bored of the one blush I own, so I thought I'd see what all the fuss was about with this one. So far, I'm likin' it.

Stila Lip Glaze in Guava - I've been seeing a ton of this lip gloss around and wanted to try it. I love it! It goes on smooth. I love the colour, and it tastes great!

Rosebud Salve - Another cult product I thought I'd pick up. I haven't tried it yet though. It will also probably get tossed in my carry-on.

Jurlique Calendua Redness Rescue Soothing Moisturizing Cream - When I got pregnant with S, my hormones did a number on my skin. A red patch appeared on one of my cheeks and has never gone away. The woman I spoke with at Sephora last week quickly recommended this product. In store they had a pretty reasonably priced value set that also came with the matching serum and cooling mist. Here's hoping they help a little!


And do I feel guilty for not going to pick S up early from daycare? Not really. He loves his daycare, and after being a bit more "on call" because Rob's been sick for well over a week, I felt completely at ease taking these 2 hours for myself. It won't be the last time.

xo
J

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Go Buy Now - Alphabet Flashcards

Quick post for anyone with a toddler. If you don't have a packet of alphabet flashcards, go get one now. We picked one up at a garage sale for $1 a couple of weeks ago, and they have been one of the best purchases ever.  Seb loves flipping through them, sorting them, naming the pictures, naming the letters, and most of all, matching the card to the letter on his Leaptop. And, he often does all this independently. It keeps him going for a half hour or so.


30 free minutes?! You're welcome.
xo
Jenn

Monday, 23 June 2014

How to Spend an Anthropologie Gift Card

Anthropologie is one of my guilty pleasures. Next to Chapters, it's one of my favourite stores to walk around in. It smells amazing and like the Honest Toddler says, "It's like the adults in the store have died and gone to Pinterest." I was recently gifted a $150 gift card to Anthropologie, so I'm looking forward to picking up something (or some things) I wouldn't normally buy for myself.
I enjoy getting gift cards, but I can never decide...do I buy a few little things, or do I get one big thing?  Anyone else ever feel that dilemma with gift cards?

Here's what I've got my eye on right now.









xo
J

Friday, 20 June 2014

Spendid Messy Fridays


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The plague has hit our house and work has been over-the-top crazy the past two weeks so that is why there's been a bit of radio silence around here. Work-wise, things are calming down and we're down to only 1 sick person in the house (can you say "man cold"?), so I'm ready to share some of the cool links I've found in the past little while.


Wear
Manicure and Pedicure pairings for summer (laurenconrad.com). I love this little guide. I've got pale pink and dark blue one going on right now.

Bag inside the Bag (cupcakesandcashmere.com). I need to start doing this. Especially in the summer, I seem to change purses much more often, so this will make things easier. I recently picked up these bags from Stella & Dot. One of those will be perfect.

What to pack for a weekend to NYC (goodlifeforless.blogspot.com). I asked one of my favourite style bloggers what to pack for a summer weekend in NYC. I love her suggestions, and the good tip about the shoes. I've already picked up the "Amazing" Linen Tee from J.Crew.


Eat
What I make for dinner when I don't feel like making dinner  (thehappiesthome.com). Ummm so I used two of the suggestions last week already. My new go-to meals.

I've made this dessert twice already this year. It's light and delicious and pretty easy to throw together.

Rise & Shine Sippy Cup - We had to pick up a couple new sippy cups for S lately. I didn't get this one but if he was a bit younger, I totally would have.

Read
Worst End of School Year Mom Ever (jenhatmaker.com) - If you read one of these articles, this one his hilarious! This is exactly me in 4 years. I just know it.

10 Things Moms of Boys Must Do (scarymommy.com). It's been a good month for funny stuff. Here's another one.

15 Things about New Motherhood that People are too nice to tell you when you're pregnant - (huffingtonpost.com)

See how much it costs to hire your favourite band. I'd better get saving because having Adele come sing me Rolling in the Deep at home is going to run me $750K.

Happy Weekend!
xo
J

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Why I Pulled my Son out of Montessori

Going back to work after mat leave can be hard. One of the major challenges with going back to work is finding childcare for your baby. Because we live in Toronto, I knew that I needed to get onto a waitlist as early as possible for daycares. Lists in our city are years long. When I was about 7 months pregnant (even that felt like it was too late), I started calling daycares around the city and putting Seb's name on lists. It felt so uncomfortable. Cold calling all of these daycares just to have his name added to the bottom of a long, long list.

Then, when Seb was about 8 months old, we got a flyer in the mail for a new Montessori school opening up right around the corner from our house. If I walked 10 feet east of my driveway, I could see it on the next corner. Jackpot! Montessori? Bonus! The school was just opening up the next month, so Rob and I phone-stalked the principal until she met us for a tour and added our name to her (much shorter) list. When we visited the school, it was clean and bright. The toys were very organized. It was even cheaper than a number of other daycares we'd looked into. And best of all, she had a spot for us. I ran over there with my deposit cheque as fast as possible.

First day of Montessori daycare
The first few weeks of daycare were pretty standard. He cried when we dropped him off, but when we picked him up at the end of the day, they assured us he calmed down and had an okay day.  Then, just over a month after he had been going there, they started telling us he was quite aggressive with the other children, biting being their main example. Rob and I had been seeing that at home and were working on it. But it's hard to negotiate biting with an 18-month old. We promised, again, that we'd continue to work on this.

Less than a month later we were called in for Meeting #1. Rob and I were lead to believe this meeting was about S' aggressive behaviour. Instead we were bulldozed with a description of a child we didn't even recognize. They told us S was "completely unaware of the world around him", that he "looked though people and not at them", that he didn't know any of the Montessori routines, that he didn't participate in any activities, that he wouldn't play with any of the toys, that he wouldn't feed himself, that he didn't want to do the crafts unless they made him, and that his language was significantly delayed. Umm....holy shit?! I asked the principal if I should see our family doctor and she replied, "No. They won't be able to help you until he's 6 or 7 years old." Then she said to me, "You look very upset." To which I replied, "I don't know what to do first, throw up or cry." And Rob and I went home.

I was in no mood to sit around and wait if we were dealing with any developmental delays. I wanted to know for sure if something was going on. I immediately made an appointment with S' doctor who said, so far, S is fine and hasn't missed any benchmarks. We'll continue to keep an eye on things. But that didn't keep me from googling the symptoms of autism at 4am one night.

What was so frustrating from Meeting #1 is that I could see their expectations were just beyond him. He was expected, at 18-months, to go pick a puzzle or toy from a shelf, take the puzzle to a table to play with, put the puzzle back when finished, pick a new toy, and repeat. We didn't do that at home. We played with all of our toys for awhile, and then we cleaned them all up when we were done. I know he can do this. At lunch he was expected to feed himself, scrape any food left into the organic bin, carry his plate and spoon to the dirty dishes bin, and then take his sippy cup to a different bin. I'm sorry, but I know a number of adults who can't do all of that.

What also alarmed me from Meeting #1 is that the principal assured us there was "absolutely no way" S would be ready for their Casa (preschool) program. She said, "There is no play in that program. They do math, and French, and writing." Excuse me, but at the age of 2 and a half, if play is not 95% of what he's doing in his day, we have a problem.

It just so happens that, before she retired, my mom's job was to pre-assess at-risk preschoolers in daycares. She doesn't live in the city, so she only sees Seb every few months. She came down the following week and spent a morning at the daycare watching him. She observed that Seb wasn't making a single peep at daycare, and that did make him stand out. She also added that the expectations of the Montessori school were extremely high from her experience with daycares. (I should add that while S wasn't reciting poetry or anything, he did have a bit of a vocabulary and was happy to babble at home). I also contacted a children's speech-pathologist and described our situation to her. When I described some of the things Seb could say at home (letter recognition, etc), she was actually impressed. She told us, "I don't know you at all, but I have to be honest, it sounds like something is wrong with your daycare."

Not surprisingly, the Montessori was rather dismissive of my mom's observations and thoughts during Meeting #2. The principal, Rob, and I all agreed to meet again a month later to see how things were going. Less than 2 weeks later, we received an email saying it was time for Meeting #3. Umm...ok. Rob and I already knew that we'd be looking for a new daycare at the end of the school year.  We didn't really want to take him out mid-year because we didn't have another place for him to go, and we'd have to forfeit about 2 month's tuition to the Montessori. We went to the meeting kind of hoping they'd kick him out.

Anyways, at Meeting #3 they presented a picture of a 21-month old aggressive child who showed no remorse. (Can someone please tell me what remorse for a one-year-old looks like?!) He was 1 of only 2 children not being potty-trained in his class, and obviously was not welcome back in the fall. We weren't getting a re-enrollment package. Fine by us. But what made me sick inside, is when we asked what our options were, and they replied, "We'll keep him until June. We'll just try to keep the other kids safe."  No! You are supposed to be keeping my child safe. I cannot send him to a place that sees that kind of thing when they look at him.

We began in earnest looking for a new daycare. We needed one for the fall, and I knew time and waiting lists were against us. On one daycare visit, we described a bit about the problems we (and Seb) were having at his current school. The supervisor at this daycare asked us why we didn't move sooner if we were so unhappy. I looked at her and asked her if she had a spot. By the grace of God, she had a toddler that needed to move to the preschool room. Seb came for a visit and then then started the next day.

I cannot describe the relief we feel at his new daycare. The place is full of life, and play, and just the right amount of chaos. Seb has been at his new daycare for just over 3 months, which is about the same amount of time that he spent at the Montessori school. He runs in the door when we get there and gives his teachers a big hug each morning. He has his favourite toys and his favourite books there. His teachers tell us he's happy, and excited, and even chatty!  Lately, they tell us he's been leading the other toddlers on a hunt for a cat that they can sometimes see from their classroom window.

Recent daily report from new daycare
It hasn't been perfect. Starting a new daycare meant a ton of crying at drop-off again for a little while. He's had a few hitting incidents (but even with these, his teachers assured us it was completely normal behaviour). And we weren't exactly excited to forfeit 2 months tuition to the Montessori school. I'll never be able to say 100% sure that his change was because of a new environment. I've heard lots of people tell me that boys make a big leap just before or around their second birthday. Or maybe other Montessori schools would have been better, and this one was just a bad apple? But I do know, we feel so much happier with him at this daycare. Montessori did not work for our son. A play-based centre did. All is well in the end. And when he's older, I can tell him about the time he pretty much got kicked out of school at the age of 21-months ;)

xo
Jenn

Monday, 9 June 2014

For the Fighters


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I saw this quotation on Facebook recently and instantly loved it. I had never heard it before. I love the reframing of whatever 'hard thing' we are pounding against in that moment. The past few days have been pretty rough for a lot of people I love. For both friends and family, it seemed to be the perfect storm of situations reminding us of how life isn't fair. All I can do is support them and send them love. I can't always tell them "everything is going to be ok." Because I have no idea. But I can tell them this. I've seen over the past week that I know a lot of fighters. People who put one foot in front of the other and keep going because they have to. And that kind of strength is contagious.

xo
Jenn

Monday, 2 June 2014

Father's Day Gift Idea - Five Four Club

If your husband is anything like mine, he can be difficult to shop for. Whenever I ask him what he wants for Christmas/hisbirthday/Father'sDay, he always says, "I don't need anything." Or he (not so jokingly) asks for a night in a hotel to watch movies by himself, eat cheesies and sleep in.

Sooooo it's left to me to come up with a great idea on my own. Because, I have to admit, he's pretty awesome at gift giving for me. Then, one day of random clicking on the Internet led me to Five Four Clothing.

Five Four Clothing is a clothing subscription service for men.You start by completing a style survey online (I completed my husband's survey for him), and then a stylist will pick out a box full of clothing based on your preferences and send it to your house each month. PERFECT! Rob doesn't love shopping for himself, so I thought this would be a great way to give his wardrobe a little boost. So, I got Rob a subscription for a couple of months to Five Four Clothing at Valentine's Day.

Cost
$60/month ($15 off your first box if you sign up for their newsletter)
Free shipping to the US ($25 to Canada).
Each box shipped has a value of at least $120.

Below is a pic of what he got in his first box.


There was a plaid button down shirt and a pair of black denim jeans. Each item was valued at $60, and these are not cheaply made clothes. I can see why they are celebrity-endorsed (Mark Wahlberg, Zac Efron, even Tony Hawk just to name a few).

Just a sizing note - when filling out your style survey, Rob found the jeans ran pretty big so go down a size for sure in the pants. The shirts fit pretty true to size, if not a little small. He usually wears a medium or large and a large shirt fits perfectly.


Here's a pic of Rob wearing his pair of Five Four jeans, and the 2 shirts that were in the second box in his subscription. He actually really likes the zip-up shirt. It's in full-rotation this spring. Rob isn't a man of many words when it comes to his clothes, so if I see him pull it out of the closet and wear it without me reminding him he owns it, that's a good sign :)

Even with the shipping cost to Canada, I think this subscription service is worth the value. So if you need a super cool and quick Father's Day gift because, like me (see pic above - ahem) we're not even getting the ironing done around here, I highly recommend Five Four Clothing. I'm already planning to gift my brother-in-law a subscription for Christmas, and this likely won't be the last time Rob gets signed up for it as well.

PS - I just saw that Five Four Clothing is having a Father's Day sale and today is the last day. For $54, your Father's Day box will value at least $150! 

xo
J

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