Once Upon A Mommy

The Ups, Downs and All Arounds of Raising a Family

Frozen Karaoke Machine – Good Family Fun

My daughter is now 7 and she is still a Frozen fan. Her birthday is shortly after Christmas so I have twice the amount of gift giving thinking to do.

This year I wanted to get her something that she would actually use. I find she gets so many toys and then ignores them for the rest of the year. Considering my daughter’s love for singing and putting on dance performances on the coffee table, I figured a karaoke machine would be a good fit.

Since our friends had a Frozen karaoke machine that Ella was interested in, I used that as a starting point. I stumbled across this one because it wasn’t limited to the CD provided and you could hook up a phone if my daughter ever got tired of listening to the Frozen soundtrack. The lyrics display on the TV and, the best part of all….it has a disco ball with lights!!

Frozen Karaoke Machine

Frozen Karaoke Machine

So far the Frozen karaoke machine has been a hit! We haven’t used it to its full capacity yet: just listening to “Let It Go” on repeat with the disco lights on. My two year old likes to mimic my daughter by grabbing the microphone and pretending to sing. We’ve already had a party in the hall, listening to the music (again, “Let It Go”) while sitting under a rainbow tent.

I’m grateful for this gift. I figure she’ll grow out of Frozen at some point but at least the karaoke machine isn’t limited to Frozen. It has brought joy and great entertainment!

Update – We have finally graduated past “Let It Go”! We had another hall party the other night and this time the headliner song was “Fixer Upper.”


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Metal Cups – No More Plastic

In my efforts to continue to go green in my home and reduce harmful chemicals, I made the switch to metal cups. I had a stack of plastic drinking cups for my kids that I figured was time to replace. While I still use plastic bowls and sippy cups, this was the next installment for me.

While I don’t know enough about plastics, I decided that I didn’t want to take the chance of having potential chemicals leaking into my children’s drinking water. Nowadays there seems to be conflicting information and who knows what’s really happening that I’m not really aware of.

I sourced out some metal cups locally but found them to be quite expensive. I resorted to good old Amazon and decided these metal cups were the best based on quality and price.

Metal Cups

Metal Cups

I’m happy with my purchase and they kids don’t seem to care either way. As an added bonus, I was able to replace the drinking cup I keep at my bathroom sink. I try to drink 2 cups of water first thing in the morning and having a glass by the sink helps me keep this habit. However, my husband always warned me to be careful with glass breaking. Now thanks to my new metal cup, I don’t have the risk of breaking glass when the kids knock it over!


This post contains affiliate links that help me support my family and keep this blog running. Thank you for your support!

Vitamix Blender Update – A Catalyst for Health

It’s been four months since I purchased my Vitamix blender and I wanted to give an update. So far, I have literally used it every single day…sometimes multiple times a day! Can you tell I’m thrilled with my blender?

My most common use of my Vitamix is my green smoothie I make every morning. I started implementing this routine when I came across the book, “Body Love – Live in balance, weigh what you want, and free yourself from food drama forever” by Kelly Leveque. I discovered her book through a podcast on nutrition and was intrigued to learn more.

Body Love

Body Love

During the interview, Kelly was discussing how to turn off hunger hormones. This immediately caught my attention because I’ve noticed I’m often still hungry after I consume a large amount of food – particularly salad. In her book, Kelly explains the science behind hunger hormones and how to balance your blood sugar so that you stay satisfied.

Her main concept is called the Fab FOUR – protein, fat, fiber and greens. As a result, every morning I make a smoothie that includes these four components. I don’t change my ingredients much from day to day and I just slap it together regardless of how it tastes. I’m sure I could take the time to follow one of her recipes, but I can’t be bothered.

In my green smoothie, I use water and almond milk as a base. Then I add protein powder for my protein, walnuts for my fat, flax seeds for my fiber, and a big handful of mixed greens. I finish off by adding frozen strawberries, hemp seeds and chia seeds.

Generally, I try to follow her formula below:

#FAB4Smoothie : Protein (20g min) + Fiber (10g min) + 1 Tbsp. Fat + Handful Greens + 1/4 Cup Fruit + Superfoods + Liquid

Then I set my blender to the smoothie feature and away it goes. I’m super impressed with how smooth my smoothie turns out. The chia seeds are undetectable! This is a vast improvement from my last blender. The end result would always have specs of kale and chia seeds. But not so with my Vitamix!

Consequently, I love my Vitamix and it’s been a wonderful catalyst for improving my health and even the health of my son. Thanks to smoothies, I’m able to sneak in healthy ingredients so I can at least have some peace of mind that my two year old is getting some form of nutrition even when he gets picky with the food I’ve offered him.

What’s even better, the ice cream setting allows me to make ice cream with only frozen berries and almond milk! My daughter, who LOVES ice cream, thinks it’s the really thing and always asks for more. I smile inside, happy that my healthier alternative has passed the test.


This post contains affiliate links that help me support my family and keep this blog running. Thank you for your support!

Vitamix Blender – Welcome to My Home

I just had a fabulous freshly made strawberry lemonade at Costco. To my surprise, there was only 4 strawberries and an entire lemon in the drink. An ENTIRE lemon…including the skin! What made this possible? A Vitamix blender!

After scrolling through the aisles at Costco, trying to find healthy options for my kids, I kept putting down everything I picked up.  How about these fruit snacks? Nope! Corn syrup is the first ingredient.  How about these fruit bars? Nope! Over 7 teaspoons of sugar! I’m stuck for ideas and stuck with my high standard of nutrition. I’m debating whether I need to compromise in some ways in order to make my life saner.

Then, I turn the corner and find what I’ve been looking for…a Vitamix! Did you know you can hide vegetables in ice cream? Yup. Replace the ice cubes with frozen tomato cubes (I’m sure there’s more tweaking involved).

So I’m excited to give it a try and explore this new world.  It will make eating raw food so much easier if this is a path I decide to take. I’ll keep you posted.

This post contains affiliate links that help me support my family and keep this blog running. Thank you for your support!

Money Skills for Children

Ella had her first paid job! Her task was to help me sort and return all the cans and bottles at the recycling depot. In return, she received half the amount earned, which equated to $15!

She has recently been motivated to start making money because she’s set on buying an Elsa dress and shoes from the Disney Store. We calculated that she would need to earn $80 in order to make her purchase. As a result, she is looking for ways to earn an income. As we brainstorm the ways people make money, she’s settled on completing jobs and selling some of her items. I’m really happy about her selling some of her toys…it supports my goal in teaching her about the values of minimalism.

Since I’ve been meaning to find ways to teach Ella about money, I’ve embraced this opportunity. I’m growing as I learn strategies to teach her and she’s beginning to see the cause and effect of spending money and how to plan for her future.

So far, this is what I’ve decided:

– She will complete a few chores that are just part of being in the family. I haven’t totally decided what these are yet. Probably cleaning her room, putting dirty clothes in her laundry basket and removing dishes from the table. I’m trying to keep it manageable to what I can handle and stay consistent with.

–  In order to earn money, she can complete specific tasks outside of her family responsibilities. I will come up with a list of jobs that need to be complete and determine a dollar value for each.

– It’s important for her to handle cash so she can feel the attachment and understand its finite quality. I can see how me using credit cards all the time is kind of a disservice to teaching her about money. I’m considering what it would look like to start using cash so I can teach her more about money. However, electronic money is part of the future and I really like the credit card rewards I get. Furthermore, there’s value in teacher her about healthy ways to use credit cards. Regardless, she needs to understand that money is tangible and isn’t an endless resource.

– When she makes money, it will be divided 3 ways:

  1. 10% goes to savings. This money will go into a bank account and start compounding for her adult years.
  2. 10% goes to giving. She can decide where this money will be donated. It will most likely go to our church.
  3. 80% goes to spending. This is what she gets to spend on whatever she wants. Currently she wants a Disney Frozen dress and shoes.

Eventually, we will add another jar when she starts getting bills, such as a cell phone. But for now, I want to work within these 3 jars because they mimic the disciplines that I use as an adult.

I’m really excited to watch her savings grow. The sooner she can start taking advantage of compound interest, the better. I can extend the teaching even further by introducing her to a savings account. She can join me at the bank whenever we make a deposit and she can view online her money grow.

The power of compound interest is the most powerful when we start young.

money skills

Image credit: www.moneyunder30.com


Check out this short video by Dave Ramsey on the power of compound interest:

I haven’t yet decided when she is age appropriate for having an allowance. At some point, I want to stop buying her clothes or treats and give her an allowance instead. Then she will need to budget her money in order to buy these extra things. I can foresee giving her a small allowance now that she can use for buying treats since she likes to always ask when we go out. However, I can imagine if she had the money to spend, she’d buy way more treats than what I want her to actually eat. So we’ll see about this one.

I’ve been meaning to start introducing Ella to money in some shape or form but I’ve found it all overwhelming. I’m glad there has been a natural flow and something that we can work towards. I’m curious to see how this will all unfold and I’m excited to set her up well for her future.

Here’s some other Dave Ramsey resources about teaching kids about money that I’m interested in myself:

Article: https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/9-ways-to-teach-your-kids-about-money

Article: https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/why-arent-you-talking-to-your-kids/?ictid=393GO2105

Website: https://www.smartmoneysmartkids.com/

Book: “Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money” by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

How to Really Love Your Child – Do You Know How?

How to Really Love Your Child

I have a few books on the go right now, all located in different parts of the house.

Right now my “car book” is an amazing read and highly recommended!! A fast and easy read, written by Dr Ross Campbell, it’s called, “How to Really Love Your Child.” It’s an old book that my father-in-law gave it to me a few years ago and it has sat in my car the entire time. A couple months ago, I finally picked it up and started to read it. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wish I started reading the book when he gave it to me several years ago.

The book teaches parents how to really love their child, in ways that are so simple but a lot of parents miss. He explains that parents genuinely love their children, unfortunately, they don’t know how to express it in a way that their children need. Or they may start loving their children according to his principles when the child is younger, but as the child grows, the parents believe those forms of expression are no longer relevant or appropriate for their age. Boys typically get caught in this trap as they grow older because parents don’t believe that teenage books need physical touch in the same way they do when they were younger. Teenage girls also get caught in this trap when their fathers no longer feel comfortable expressing their physical affection to their developing daughter.

I wish I read this book sooner and applied these 4 basic principles when Ella was younger…it would have helped me attach to her much more easily and would have spared me a lot of difficulty, pain and sadness. I also appreciate the clarity it brings on disciplining my children. Unconditional love is the foundation. When our children have their buckets full of love, they are easier to discipline.

Dr Ross Campbell’s 4 basic principles are:

– unconditional love

– eye contact

– physical touch

– focused attention

I know they are straight forward and a no brainer but they are also profound. Unfortunately, I don’t have the words to express the book’s intelligence and heart accurately. I wish I could be more convincing. However, I am grateful for the shift in my value system and the vision for my children’s teen and adult years. I have a renewed purpose and focus for my everyday life with my children.



Wanna Change the World?

change world

I noticed this quote on a billboard outside of a church building. It really struck a chord with me.

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family” – Mother Teresa

For the longest time, I’ve been wrestling with my purpose and meaning in life. I’ve been on a leave of absence from my teaching career for the last 2 years and I’ve been staying at home looking after my children in the meantime. I often wonder what the heck I’m supposed to be doing.

I seem to be discontented and unsettled a lot of the time. I feel a constant longing to do something else…something bigger. There’s a large drive in me to contribute and change the world yet I seem to miss the opportunity that is before me. Somehow I believe that taking care of children is not as important or significant (perhaps this is the message our society conveys). I seem perpetually distracted by things that don’t really matter and fail to notice my children as a result. I know I value family but I can’t seem to let go of the nagging in order to focus on what really matters. The by-product is often guilt and torment.

change world

However, I’m beginning to feel a shift. I’m realizing that it’s foolish to help hurting people while simultaneously creating a few more hurting people to add to the mix. In my endeavour to focus on everyone but my family, I will surely end up neglecting the people that are the most important to me.  In the end, I’m not really helping the world, I’m just adding to the pain. It doesn’t matter how many lives I influence. If the 3 people at home don’t feel loved by me, then all my efforts are futile.

Since I’ve already been rumbling around with the tension for a while, you can imagine why this quote stood out to me. Upon reading it, I felt a sense of relief and resolve. I felt permission to allow myself to take care of the seemingly unimportant things instead of striving for something greater. I was reminded that these “seemingly unimportant things” are actually massively important things. They aren’t ordinary or mundane at all. There is so much power and influence in shaping the next generation that will influence the world long after I’m gone. Besides, this is a season of time that is very demanding. Before I know it, my children will be out of the house and my purpose will change accordingly.

Ironically, I’m reminded of the reason why I became a teacher in the first place. I wanted to lead the next generation of politicians, doctors, teachers, parents, etc. Well, it may only be 2 young children instead of a classroom, but they still count. It only takes one person to make a difference.


Photo credit: http://paradiseandpinkflamingos.tumblr.com

Baby Whisperer – Baby Guide for New Parents

I’ve had a change of heart.

In a previous post about baby sleep resources, I shared a few thoughts about the book, “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg. At the time, I wasn’t particularly fond of the book and had some mixed emotions about it. Nevertheless, I’ve held onto the book for five years, meaning to read it again with my second child. For some reason, it’s had some sort of grip on me that I couldn’t let go.

I originally started reading the book when I had my daughter and dabbled in it briefly. I then put it down because it was causing stress and confusion. My goal was to teach my daughter to sleep and experienced the opposite. I was trying to avoid using crutches like rocking or swinging, which then resulted in no sleep at all. I resolved that I didn’t care how my baby fell asleep, the point was for her to sleep.

After I had my second baby, I started researching sleep again. I was determined to do a better job the second time around. Of all the books I was planning to read, “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” kept nagging at me. I know I have the tendency to finish a book till completion despite the boredom, disinterest or poor quality. Perhaps this was the dynamic at play. However, the persistence was so compulsive that I decided to pick it up and finally put an end to the curiosity and pestering. I soon realized that my first impressions of the book were inaccurate.

Throughout the book I noticed I common theme of respect for the baby – listening to the baby for clues of unmet needs; asking permission to be in its personal space or touch its body; and talking to it respectfully as a human being instead of an object. Tracy uses the acronym S.L.O.W. to remind parents to slow down and listen to their baby’s language so that they can respond accordingly.

I’ve come to realize that Tracy Hogg has quite the balanced approach despite my first impression. She is realistic with the necessity of respecting the baby while still respecting the family. The baby can’t run the show at the expense of the parents because that isn’t healthy for anyone. Instead of creating a rigid schedule for the baby to follow or the parents allowing the baby to dictate their schedule, Tracy meets in the middle with her E.A.S.Y. routine.

According to Tracy, a routine is more flexible than a schedule but more structured than on demand. The E.A.S.Y. stands for:

E – Eat (feeding breastmilk/formula)

A – Activity (usually just a diaper change in the beginning; more activity as the window of wakefulness grows)

S – Sleep (baby sleeps)

Y – You (do whatever you need to do to care for yourself while the baby is sleeping)

I found her E.A.S.Y. routine super helpful and incredibly valuable. Actually, it was one of my main takeaways from the book when I read it 5 years ago. Since I’ve always kept this structure in the back of my mind, I intuitively started following the plan as soon as I had Jack.

Throughout the day, whenever he would cry for something and I felt unsure of what he needed, I’d go back to the routine. “Ok, he just ate an hour ago and I changed his diaper, he must be tired now.” It created a comfortable rhythm and flow to my day. All day, all I would do is E.A.S.Y. on repeat.

Regarding sleep, Tracy had a lot of good tips, tricks and clues to help know when the baby is tired. However, I didn’t find they particularly worked well for me. I found “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth to be the most helpful resource coupled with Tracy’s E.A.S.Y. routine and the Dunstan Baby Language.

Upon taking a second look at the book, I see Tracy is a blend between cry it out and no cry strategies. She doesn’t let a bit of crying get in the way of teaching babies how to sleep. Furthermore, she doesn’t encourage props – like rocking, swinging, driving, which I find difficult to not use. To be honest, I have found the swing to be very useful when nothing else seems to work.

Nevertheless, I can appreciate her logic behind this advice. She advises to start as you would finish: if you don’t want to be rocking a 30 pound baby in the future, then don’t start now. I can appreciate what she’s saying, however, at some point you need to do what works. Habits can always be changed, although they can take a lot of time, energy and crying to break.

At the end of the book, she includes a troubleshooting section called “The ABC Cure for Accidental Parenting.” In this chapter she helps parents understand how they have contributed to difficulties and how to change bad patterns into good ones. While it’s obvious that you don’t want to start bad patterns to begin with, it is inevitable. We are all trying to do the best we can with the situations we have. Figuring out babies is hard and they don’t come with a manual. On top of that, we are sleep deprived and depleted. When my storehouse is running low, I’m desperate to do whatever it takes to get the outcome I need.

In conclusion, I found the overall tone of the book gentle and encouraging with respect as a major priority. However, reading the book a second time around hasn’t taught me anything more than I already acquired the first time I read it. Nonetheless, my aversion towards the book had decreased. While the E.A.S.Y. routine is still the biggest thing I take away from the book, I’m fortunate to be reminded of the importance of slowing down and tuning in to my baby. My son is almost a year old and I want to cherish as many moments as I can with him.

Mentrual Pads – Economical, Environmental and Chemically Safe

menstrual pads


Menstrual Pads vs Tampons? Which one are you?

Menstrual cycles are part of being a woman and every month we are continually using products to assist us with this process. Have you ever wondered what those products are made of and what chemicals are being absorbed by one of the most precious vulnerable parts of our body?

I have had these questions in the back of my mind for a while. From my couponing days, I created a large stock pile of pads and tampons – some of which I still have today, 5 years later. I never considered the effects these products could have on my body, constantly in close contact with my skin over several days. I was just proud that I got them for free.

Of course, I’ve come to learn that the products mostly associated with coupons are usually not the best choice for my body or the environment. Of course, low income families are the most vulnerable to unhealthy products because they are the cheapest to buy. It sure is tempting to buy the products to save money even though they can be a danger to our health.

I was fortunate to come across Lunapads at a trade show last year. While I was briefly aware of their products, I was curious to know more. Finally, a solution to menstrual pads that was economical, environmental and chemically free.

Lunapads – Long Menstrual Pad and Insert

I decided to switch over to Lunapads and bought my first supply. They are reusable washable pads that will last over 5 years and save a tonne of money. Furthermore, they are free of chemicals, perfumes and adhesives. Even better, they support education by donating Lunapads to girls in the developing world so they can stay in school rather than missing the days they have their period.

When I received my order, I was given a coupon code. I thought I’d pass it along. It can be used by more than one person and expires March 31st. You get $5 off orders over $35.

Discount code: THANKYOU215

My next plan is to try the Diva Cup. I’ve heard great things about it – once you get used to the feel.

Minimalism – What’s Your Stuff Costing You?


Minimalism – reconsidering the dream

Most of us, when we’re young, we dream of owning a house and having kids one day. Some of us are even bigger dreamers and hope to own a car, boat or even a cabin.

While all these things sound super awesome, I have come to realize that they come with a lot of work. Since owning a house and having kids, I see how much responsibility goes into the care of these possessions.

With our house we have had to replace the windows, redo the drain tile (that was a huge project), renovate the basement, prune the trees, clean the gutters, repaint the fence and deck, etc. Suddenly this nice idea of owning a home one day became an enormous never ending task that consumes the weekends.

An children, well don’t get me started. It isn’t enough to just feed, clothe or bathe them. No, we need to teach them morals, values and character. That’s heavy stuff!

I came across this article from The Minimalists, which sums up the cost of owning things really well. In my journey of minimizing, I am definitely taking into account the true cost of each item. I was finally able to let go of some toy cars Ella had when I considered the need to constantly replace the batteries. I decided I wasn’t willing to do that anymore.



Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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