Why I love and accepted the #ALSIceBucketChallenge

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen at least one , if not a hundred videos of people you know all the way to celebrities voluntarily pouring ice water on themselves. Seems crazy, no?

Well it may seem so, but really it’s for an excellent cause and purpose.

First, the cause:  (from the website) Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. To find out more, please visit www.alsa.org

Second, the purpose: It’s simple…To Raise Awareness

While the money raised is insane and amazing (last I heard, over 80 million), it’s awareness that first fuelled this campaign. Here is the story:

Now I’ve read a few articles in the past few days criticizing this campaign (it doesn’t take long for the haters to surface, does it?), but I can’t jump on that wagon. Some claim it’s not an urgent enough disease to warrant such massive fundraising – tell that to Peter Frates. Or really anyone suffering or watching someone suffer from this disease.

Nevermind that, does a disease or illness need to infect the masses to warrant awareness or incredible fundraising? Why?

I not only love the campaign, but support the cause. I was anxious to be nominated for the challenge as was Jonah, because he wanted to get involved. Which is one of the main reasons I love it – people are getting involved. We are willingly dumping buckets of ice water over our heads to participate. We are also nominating people to spread awareness and we are donating. It’s really the recipe for a most perfect campaign and I am happy to support it. And I am thrilled to see my friends and family, and especially our kids getting involved.

But please know this, it is not the only cause I am in support of, nor do I think it’s the only one worthy of my (or your) donations. There are so many, some well known and others not so well known, that are in need. And what’s important to you may not be important to others – it’s based on our experiences – nobody is wrong. None are better or more important than another and all have value and purpose. Raise awareness and donate where you feel best doing so.

For me and my family, ALS was one that we felt drawn to.

So for your viewing pleasure, here we are (I have no idea why I was speaking so strangely):



(Hopefully they work – but if they don’t, just head over to Cute Like Me on Facebook and watch there. I had to do it this way because they uploaded sideways)





New Technology House Rules #thesearethedays #greatideas

I recently came across an article that really made sense to me, but do you think I can remember where I saw it? I was certain it was on Pinterest, but now I’m wondering if it was on Facebook….even a google search isn’t helping me this time.

Anyways, the post was about the amount of time the author allowed her kids to have with technology. And she found a way to limit their time by giving them as much as they wanted.

Sound outrageous?

I can see why you might think so, but in truth I think her method is really quite genius.

She simply created a list of tasks. Tasks that must be completed prior to any time on iPods, iPads, TV, Computer, etc. But her list is what I loved the most. Since I can’t find the original, I’ll do my best from memory. It was something like this:

You may have as much technology time as you want, after you have completed the following:

1. at least 20 minutes of reading

2. at least 45 minutes doing something crafty

3. Bedroom must be cleaned

4. There was one other one, but I don’t remember it because it was one I didn’t think was relevant to us

Here’s the thing about it…the theory (in my opinion) behind it is that it gets kids busy doing other things…in some ways, the things they should be doing more of anyways…and not only passes the time, it also has a way of limiting their unlimited availability of technological devices. And also puts the accountability on themselves….the rules and list are clear.

So today was the first day. Brooklyn would happily be on her iPod for 10+ hours a day if I let her….though we all pay for it at some point because she becomes an absolute zombie. It completely affects her energy and mood…not to mention wasting away at her motivation. I don’t have a problem with technology (hello, I’m on a computer right now), nor do I have one when it comes to kids…but I am aware of the impact it can have on each of my kids. I know their limits and because they don’t always know them, it’s my job to help teach and manage that. This list seemed like the perfect fit to aide in that.

Our list, which I reserve the right to add to at any given time is as follows:

1. Read (or something educational) for at least 30 minutes

2. Something crafty for at least 45 minutes (LOVE this one)

3. Rooms and Playroom have to be cleaned

Simple list, but I really think that’s key. Short and simple…to the point…and easy to follow.

If you follow me on Instagram you know that the morning started like this:

Photo: Adopting an awesome idea from Pinterest, we have changed our technology rules: as much time as they want AFTER at least 30 minutes of reading, 45 minutes of crafting, and their bedroom and play area must be clean. As a result, this is how they are spending their Saturday morning and I love it! #thesearethedays #craftykids #rainydayfun

Jonah painted while Brooklyn drew (Hermoine Granger in pony form). They had a blast while the Captain (Brent) cringed at the glitter. He HATES glitter because it gets everywhere. lol

I found an old wood picture frame meant for just this, and Jonah was in heaven. Here is his finished project – looks pretty awesome if you ask me!

Photo: Jonah's finished picture frame #thesearethedays #rainydayfun #craftykids #glitter

The day just continued on, and they didn’t even end up going on iPads until 7pm! It was the toy room that was the hold up – by the end of the day Jonah was pretty bagged and the task of cleaning half the room was almost too much for him. It ended up being a good time to teach Brooklyn the value of teamwork – that while, yes, the original task involved splitting the room 50/50, nobody was getting iPads until the room was clean. So, if she wanted that down time, she could make the choice to go help clean the rest, which is eventually what she did.

Here is the list of the things they did throughout the day:

*Painting and Drawing

*Reading – Jonah and I did a workbook

*Chess (sort of lol)

*Rode their bikes in the rain

*We made corn bread

*Made up a game with a bouncy ball



*Showered (easier to get them to do it when it didn’t involve pulling them away from a video or game!)

*I read them a chapter in the book we are reading together (39 Clues by Rick Riordan – we are almost done book 1)

I don’t expect every day to run as smoothly as today did, but having the rules clear sure made it easier. And it was amazing for me to see them just go from one thing to the next. Sometimes I worry they’ve forgotten how to do that…and hearing them giggle together and simply have fun – well that was pure magic. As school and other activities start up again, I know their time will be limited during the week. But I plan on sticking to this. Like I mentioned, It wasn’t until 7pm that they got onto the iPads. But because it’s summer holidays and we were all enjoying the downtime, they still got 2 1/2 hours on them. If they want more time than that in the future, they will learn to manage their day/time differently.

I’d say a fabulous day all around!


Let’s Talk About Stupid Pool Rules #thesearethedays #stupidpoolrules #thumbsdown

The kids and I recently spent some time with my cousins in Northern Alberta. Because we had a few errands to run in Edmonton on one of the days, we decided to find an outdoor pool and make a day of it.  So we (my cousin lol) googled *fun outdoor pools* – and the first to come up was Oliver Outdoor Pool.

Check out this photo!

Now, I don’t know about you but we thought this pool looked awesome! The blow up*obstacle course* is what really caught our eye. Something different but also something we were sure all of our kids would enjoy.

My cousin, Kari and I drove together and met up with Radelle after our errands. Radelle arrived at the pool first with her 4 kids, 6 and under. She asked about the inflatable obstacle course and was told they no longer have it. Not their fault, as it was in for repairs, but still a bummer. Apparently it was too loud and swimmers were unable to hear the lifeguards over it.

The cashier also mentioned that she might catch some grief for having 4 kids under 6 in her care, so she was sure to stay in one corner of the shallow end with them until we arrived. Each of her kids was wearing a life jacket and, in fact, her two youngest had life jackets AND water wings (to keep their faces more above the water). They were well protected…plus, she was RIGHT there. But even still a lifeguard came over to check in on the situation, but left it alone once she learned that she had two other adults coming as well.

We arrived and got the kids situated and ready for some fun. HA!

The pool is seriously just a rectangle, with a slide in the deep end (plus a kid one in the shallow end) and the photo makes it look way bigger than it is. I quickly took my kids to the deep end so they could enjoy the slide. As per the pool rules, with Jonah being 6, it is required that he be within my arms reach. I’m totally fine with that, and although he can swim decently well – certainly from the slide to the pool edge – I still prefer to be close enough to keep an eye on him.

About the third time down the slide, he was asked to get off by the lifeguard. {insert sobbing child}

His day was officially ruined in that moment.

The lifeguard explained to me that he could not be in the deep end unless he passed the swim test. In order to be in the deep end, each swimmer must swim from one end of the pool to the other in the marked off lane on the side. They can do this test with or without a life jacket, but obviously if they do it with, it means they must have a life jacket on in the deep end. I was irritated by this test, but tried to be supportive of the rules so I explained to Jonah that he could do the test. Which he and his cousin, R, both did with life jackets.

The testing lifeguard then proceeded to take a big black permanent marker and write a large L on their arm with a 6 below, to indicate the need for them to have life jackets…and that they are 6 years old. sigh

Can someone please explain to me in what circumstance a child would ever need to swim the entire LENGTH of a pool to save themselves?

Okay, so whatever. I go back to the deep end with Jonah and R, because despite the life jackets, they still need an adult in the deep end. (I would have gone anyway for the record). They were having fun going down the slide and Radelle decided she wanted to come and watch. Her second son had an appointment and was with his dad, so she just had the two younger kids….life jackets AND water wings, remember?

The lifeguard tells her the girls can’t be in the deep end unless they, too pass the swim test. They are 2 and 3.

They had life jackets and water wings on….and she was HOLDING them.


So if she ever wanted to come on her own, well she couldn’t. Their 3:1 child to adult ratio (for kids 6 and under) automatically prevents her from this…until her oldest turns 7 later this year at least.

BUT, even with a life jacket on he can’t be in the deep end without an adult…but she can’t go to the deep end with him because the other kids are not allowed there until they have passed the swim test.

Here’s the thing…If I am a parent and am up on the tanning deck (their tanning deck is beautiful!), then have every possible rule you want to have to keep those kids safe. As parents, we should not be putting our kids in situations where lifeguards will have to save them. I don’t want that for my kids or for the lifeguard, nevermind me. But when I am WITH my kids….swimming WITH them….watching them go down the slide, etc….do you think you could ease up a little?

They had SO many lifeguards on duty, and switched up their station in regular intervals….but we had to wonder just a little bit…


I’m all for rules and keeping everyone, especially children safe. BUT WE WERE RIGHT THERE!

UGH! Clearly I am still irritated by it….such a waste of $15, an hour (it’s all we stayed), and for Radelle specifically, who drove into Edmonton JUST for this, a waste of 2 hours of driving time. At the very least, it’s not a pool to go to if you have young kids.

Stupid. Pool. Rules.


Pinterest Cooking Frenzy Part I #thesearethedays #makeyummyfood

In 2012 I set out to try some of the activities with Jonah that I had filled my pinterest board *Cute Kids Stuff* with. I spent time making that a priority and loved the memories we made while Brooklyn was in school. And especially since, later that year I went back to work, I am so grateful for that little burst of inspiration to DO, not just PIN. I have tried, for various reasons since, to keep this up. To keep my kids and making memories with them, a main priority. And we’ve had some amazing times as a result.

Now, I am wanting to take this further and do something for me – though it will, of course, benefit my family as well.

The kitchen is my happy place. Which is a good thing since about 80% of my day is spent in it. I love trying new things and especially love finding new family favorites. In addition, I love the opportunity to involve the kids and teach them different cooking skills or to appreciate the opportunity to try new foods.

So let’s get started ~ A few months ago I found myself in a bit of a Pinterest frenzy and tried 4 new recipes. Want to know what I tried?

It all started with wanting to try these delicious looking meatballs – Hoisin Asian Meatballs from Damn Delicious.

Hoisin Asian Meatballs - These juicy, tender meatballs are smothered with a sweet Hoisin glaze!

photo used with permission

I know, right?!

They did not disappoint – even my sweet, picky, 9 year old Brooklyn was a fan, despite trying to convince me she hates ALL meatballs. Ha, silly girl. And really uses basic ingredients – ground beef, breadcrumbs, spices, eggs, and of course Hoisin Sauce.

**Note: It probably goes without saying, but if you aren’t a fan of Hoisin Sauce you probably won’t like this. And you’re probably crazy ;) **

While I was waiting for the hamburger to thaw, I noticed this yummy looking dish and decided to make it so I could munch while I cooked.

Chili Cheese Dip from Love Grows Wild

Chili Cheese Dip appetizer recipe

photo used with permission

Just three ingredients – cream cheese, chili, and shredded cheese and another huuuuuuge hit. But this time with my son, who ate two helpings of it before dinner. And, is actually eating more as I type this post. The recipe calls for chili without beans, but I love beans so I used a chili with them. No specific brand….I just used what I had on hand. And make sure you use a nice thick layer of cream cheese on the bottom. Mmmmmm

Olive Garden Copycat Dressing from Mommy Savers

olive garden salad dressing recipe

photo used with permission

I love the salad at Olive Garden more than I love any other salad. And I am always looking for a homemade version, so I knew I had to try this one out. The best part is it also uses ingredients often on hand, so no crazy grocery trips!

The verdict? Delicious, but not quite like the Olive Garden. And I have to be honest – it killed me a little to put corn syrup in it. BUT, it was definitely good and I am excited to have another homemade dressing to choose from.

Roasted Ranch Potatoes with Bacon and Cheese by Joyously Domestic

photo used with permission

Plain and Simple – these are DELICIOUS! And I didn’t even have any bacon to use, so I can only imagine. Also, strangely all I had on hand was Three Cheese Ranch – strange because I don’t like that dressing lol – but they were still great (just in case not having exact ingredients is something that freaks you out).

Well there you have it – FOUR Pinterest wins! And trust me, there are more coming. This Pinterest frenzy continues and you are going to be so glad.







Winning With Westjet #thesearethedays #welovewestjet

I love holidays. I was made for them. So when the Captain won two flights anywhere Westjet flies, my heart skipped a beat. I mean, we had a few glitches in the beginning with the timing and original expiration of the vouchers, but when it all got taken care of, my heart resumed skipping.

And we were able to fulfill our dream and promise of taking the kids with us on a tropical getaway. It did of course cost a small fortune {$1,000 per flight for the kids!!!} but we knew it would be worth it. And it was {more posts to come}.


                     Waiting for our flight


But how would our experience with Westjet compare with other flights we’ve taken?

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? I am so not the type that is going to pay to choose my seat – boy I think that’s a ridiculous feature. So we just hoped for the best – and best was not quite what we got. The Captain was seated near the front of the plane, Jonah and I were in the middle, Brooklyn was by herself in the row behind us, and my mother in law was in the back. And the funny thing is, it seemed that every other group on the flight was split randomly. People were up walking back and forth the entire flight to chat with family, trade off kids or snacks, etc. It was pretty funny.


                                Born to fly

But the truth is, that was the one and only thing that wasn’t great about it. Everything else was perfect. And we arrived to Mexico and came home, true Westjet fans!

Of course, I knew immediately it was a winning airline:


Any airline with Clamato is one I want                             to fly with

In addition to the smooth flight {yay} and amazing flight attendants, the kids were able to check out the cockpit before we exited the plane. I did it as a kid and was so hoping the kids would be able to as well – especially since this was the first {of many, I hope} time flying.


We loved our experience with Westjet and are looking forward to booking with them again. Hopefully it’s in the nearer future, as we truly were made to holiday!


Keeping It Real #thesearethedays #itsbikinitime

I did it again! I sported a bikini on our Mexican vacay, and despite not being as fit as I’d like to be, I rocked it anyways.

Even when Jonah giggled and said *Mom, your tummy looks like a mouth*. #yesihaverolls

I don’t have a *perfect* body, and there are still improvements to be made. But it’s mine….my body…and I love it. I love my shape, and the way I look….and I loved finally wearing all my cute bikinis too.

So, to really keep it real – here is a straight on photo….This is me….this is my body. And even though it’s not perfect, I can still love it.

IMG_0092IMG_0098But, it doesn’t mean I can’t also execute the *tummy tuck* in photos too:

IMG_0173IMG_0459Well, there you have it. Love it or hate it….it is what it is.

I’m choosing to love it…at the same time as choosing to change it. But in the meantime, I’m still going to rock it! #rockyourbody

A Small Fortune…But Worth EVERY Penny. #thesearethedays

You may remember my issues with the OUTRAGEOUS cost of photos from my first experience swimming with the dolphins. A friend and I went while away in the Mayan Riviera, and nearly fainted at the $350 price tag for a cd of images.

I mean, come on!

And while I wasn’t in any way, going to spend close to that this time around, I knew I wanted the cd. The price was still outrageous, and I’m sure I could have bargained a bit, but I went for it. $170 for the cd of images and the cd with the video, PLUS 8 printed photos. AND, he included a second set of cd’s so my mother in law could have a copy as well.

I paid the price for a couple of reasons. 1. Because I wanted ALL of the memories and 2. THIS:

Inspiring Change

I love me a company that reaches beyond themselves and knowing that other children are able to have this experience just does my heart good.

It was 100% worth it to me.

Dreams Come True with Vallarta Adventures #thesearethedays

logoMy parents gifted each of the kids $100 for their birthdays this year, to spend on our holiday in Mexico. Incredibly generous and a wee bit ridiculous, I know. But, as Brooklyn said, *They love us!*

And they do. These kids are seriously spoiled rotten – but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

BUT – I did not want to come home from Mexico with $100 worth of STUFF for each kid. Oy. So I came up with a genius plan. I’m really trying to move our focus as a family, and on the blog, away from having more stuff and, instead, having/making more memories. So I suggested this idea to the kids and asked what they thought about using their birthday money to make memories swimming with the dolphins.


After a quick google search, I discovered Vallarta Adventures, and booked immediately. I knew it was the perfect fit. I couldn’t have been more right. Our experience was incredible and is one the kids will remember for years to come.

I think the pictures speak for themselves:

dolphin collage 4dolphin collage 1dolphin collage 3dolphin collage 2The facility is beautiful, and I can’t say enough great things about our trainer, Sofia. She was AMAZING and made our experience the same.

We will definitely be booking through Vallarta Adventures again!

The Switch #theylovetodance #thesearethedays

Well, it’s been a source of uncertainty for a couple of years now. You might remember my post earlier this year about Brooklyn and what her deal is with dance. To refresh your memory, she LOVES being there, but HATES going to it.


So this year I signed her up like usual, and although she was more positive she still wasn’t excited. When I asked her why, she said:

*Well, I just feel like I’ve been there too long*

So I probed further and asked if she would be interested in trying a new studio {a thought that had not previously occurred to me lol}. I didn’t think too much more about it and Brooklyn really didn’t bring it up again either.

But several weeks ago now, I followed an instinct and switched her. Actually, I switched them both. I chose a studio that I have heard excellent things about, one where several of my friends have put their kids, and one, upon visiting, just gave such a nice feeling.

So I signed them each up for a Hip Hop class, and Brooklyn’s first class was just 30 minutes after registering them. lol She was a little nervous and feeling lazy and really didn’t want to go, but I coaxed her. And she ended up going happily in the end.

In fact, while in the waiting room, I turned around and she had gone into class without so much as an *I’ll see you later*. After class she said she liked it.

Later that night, during bedtime prayers, she expressed gratitude for her new dance class.


Then, on the Wednesday, while I was telling Jonah that his new hip hop class would be the next day, Brooklyn said, *Oh, I wish it was Tuesday already*.

It was a difficult decision because we’ve been at their old studio since she was 4 {so this was year 6}, but it was the right one.  And I couldn’t be happier.

P.S. Jonah’s first class was GREAT! He came out so thrilled and happy and showing me what he had learned.

P.S.S. It’s been over a month now, and the kids are incredibly happy and settled in. I never have to convince Brooklyn to go and week after week she tells me how much she likes it. Jonah, also, is happy to go. In fact, when I had a small *friend of the family* emergency to attend to, and spent some time at the ER, making him miss his class, he BURST INTO TEARS.

It’s a good sign. A good sign indeed.

The Pillow #thesearethedays #itssentimental #givingismagical

It started with a patient passing away first thing in the morning. It didn’t matter how many times it happened, I never got desensitized to it. I always take a minute to silently offer warm thoughts to the loved ones. Nobody ever wants to get that call.

I mean, the reality is people die. And it isn’t always the shock that people are sad over – it’s simply the loss. No matter whether it was sudden or a long process, the loss is always great and felt immediately. And that grief breaks my heart.

The family asked for some chairs so they could all sit together around her, so I offered to grab some.

The love in that room was palpable. There were tears of sadness, but more than that, there were tears of gratitude. For however many years their lives had all been blessed by her presence, her example, her generosity, and love. And you could feel it. I soaked it up.


On her bed was a pillow. As I put the first chair down, I commented that her pillow matched the bedding set we had just bought Brooklyn {for her then upcoming birthday}. They were a kind group, and even in the deepest moments of grief found an opportunity to reach outside themselves.

Her husband said simply, *Take that pillow for your daughter*. And quite frankly, I couldn’t contain my emotion. The tears just started flowing as I protested that I couldn’t possibly take this pillow from them. I mean, how could I?

But he insisted, saying that his wife would have wanted it that way.

I don’t know if there are rules against it, but in that moment, there was no way to refuse. And so, I agreed, with more tears, asking if I could leave it in the room for a while. I wanted it to soak up that love, that kindness – and the ability to be so generous and thoughtful amidst that grief. So I did.

And I couldn’t be more grateful. Being able to add this pillow to Brooklyn’s birthday gift meant a lot. And being able to explain to Brooklyn how and why this pillow became hers was magical.

A co-worker of mine thought it was weird. I think it’s beautiful.


And Brooklyn, too, thought it was beautiful, immediately hugging the pillow with gratitude and compassion. She gets it. This sweet 9 year old, sometimes entitled feeling, little girl gets it.

I couldn’t be more proud.