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Friday, July 31, 2009

Sizzling Summer Reviews & Giveaways

Giveaway Announcements are posted in the left sidebar until the blog makeover. Remember that you always get an extra entry into all giveaways by subscribing to my blog!

Death Before Birth: Helping Others; What NOT to Say…)


Photo by kudomomo

Do you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage? What do you say? How do you help and show you care?

The answer really depends on the person and the relationship you have with them. Life as Mom dealt with this topic this spring but I wanted to share with you from my experience in being the one going through it as well as being the friend holding the hand of a dear someone going through it.

Things that May Help:

  • Ask if she would like to talk about it. On the talking end -  I wanted to talk about it. It helped me to share the story, to know others cared, to help others understand how badly I was hurting. On the listening end – try to just listen. After she has shared her story, she may be interested to hear your experiences but let her talk and share first!
  • If you don’t know what to say, say that. “I don’t know what to say, but I care.”
  • Pray for her!
  • Encourage her to seek the Lord. While we need to be careful that we don’t use the phrase “Pray about it” flippantly, it is also vital to remember who the ultimate Comforter is! Help her to remember that. If she doesn’t know the Lord, and she is receptive, now may be a great opportunity to share the gospel with her.
  • Ask her if she would like to get out, a walk, coffee, dessert. Maybe she doesn’t, but maybe she does. Everyone is different. The day after we lost Isaiah, Scott took me out to a chocolate factory. It was good to get out. She may not feel like facing the world and that is OK too.
  • Just sit with her. Maybe she doesn’t want to talk or do anything but it helps to have someone there. Scott and I sat in the same room and read our own books. It was comforting to know he was there.
  • Offer practical help. Cleaning, meals, childcare, errands. Your offer may be declined, but then it may be just what she needs!
  • If you are pregnant, have children, or a new baby, don’t be apologetic for that. Children are a blessing! But at the same time, be sensitive! If you run into her at the grocery store, it will make it very awkward if you are trying to avoid her or try to hide your children behind the banana display. But don’t automatically expect her to come to a baby shower. This is a delicate issue and again it depends on the woman and your relationship with her!
  • Allow her to cry and be herself and let her know that it is OK.

Things to Not Say:

Remember that anything you say should only be to encourage, help and comfort. If your words don’t fall into those two categories, now is not the time to say them.

“Be thankful for the children you have.” While she may have children already, grieving a lost baby does not mean she isn’t thankful for the children she has!

“There will be other babies or you can always have more”. Each life is precious and irreplaceable. There may be other babies but you will never have THAT baby on this side of heaven.

“It was for the best”. While I believe in a sovereign God, who wants only the best for me, this glib response isn’t something that I was particularly helpful at the time!

“There was obviously something wrong with the baby.” While that may be true, it wasn’t something that caused me great comfort to hear. Regardless of what was wrong with my sweet baby, had the Lord allowed me to keep Isaiah, I would have loved him!

“You need to move on with life.” Grief and mourning take time. Each will heal at her own pace. If a woman is able to deal and accept and move on with life with in a few days, it doesn’t make her a bad person. If it takes her much longer, that is fine too. There is no right amount of time. Give her all that she needs! That being said, if she is neglecting herself or her family, gently encourage her.

“At least it happened now (or early).” There is never a good time to lose a baby. Yes, maybe it is less physically traumatic to lose your baby at 12 weeks than 32 weeks or after they are born but you know the result is the same. You’ve lost your child. It’s never a good time so don’t say it because it really doesn’t help.

“I knew you shouldn’t have ____”. The poor woman is probably battling all sorts of false guilt already (I know I was!). Maybe you feel that way but keep it to yourself.

“Maybe God is punishing you” or “Do you have sin in your life?”. God is a loving God. He is also a just God and therefore it is important to have a healthy fear of Him. That being said, I don’t believe that God punishes people with miscarriages. If that were the case, there should and would be a lot more. I was certain that God was punishing me but have come to the realization that it was anger and hurt that made me think that. I believe that miscarriages are a part of our fallen world the same as sickness and diseases. They were not a part of God’s perfect plan but He can use them for good and to accomplish things in our lives if we allow Him too. I’m not a pastor, or a scholar and I don’t have all the answers. These are just my thoughts.

And this is the end of Isaiah’s story and my thoughts on Miscarriage. Thank you all for joining me!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

TUT: Heart Toward Home? Heart Toward God!

Heart-2 A Google search of 'Tune Up' revealed the following definition:
An Adjustment for Better Functioning
A search of 'Adjustment' revealed the following:
A Small Change, A Minor Correction, A Modification

What is Tune-Up Tuesday? Find out more HERE!

…I found out I was pregnant. We were excited and told virtually everyone. And then we lost the baby. God used this tragedy to turn my heart back towards Him. As I began to focus on Him and learn more about His designs, my heart slowly turned towards home.

It was about that time that I stumbled upon Crystal’s blog: Biblical Womanhood. When I first began to read some of her writings, I thought “Are you crazy?” The idea of serving my husband constantly really rubbed me the wrong way…

Back then, I was certainly in need of a heart tune up! You can read the rest of my story at Hearth Management today (July 30th) and see what helped me on my way; a journey that is still in progress!

I also mentioned a couple of books in the post…and I have a giveaway happening right now for one of them. Talk about great timing!

Do you have a tune-up you’re working on or a success story to share? Link up or leave a comment!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sizzling Summer: Perfect Picnic Paradise


Picnics are a definitely a part of having a sizzling summer. I also feel that they are essential is summer memory making! It can be your local park, somewhere exotic, or in your own back yard. It’s your contagious excitement and eager participation (planning games etc.) that will make it fabulous!

Your Checklist:

A traditional picnic basket is cute but generally not too practical for larger groups. Think outside the box: plastic rectangular laundry baskets work really well for transporting goods and most of your food will probably need to go into a cooler.

Chairs or a picnic blanket if there are no picnic tables available; a table cloth if you will have a table.

Depending on your menu: plates, bowls, cutlery, serving utensils, cups, napkins, a dish towel, wipes (especially with little ones!) and a garbage bag!

Don’t forget things like sunscreen, hats, and insect repellant. If you will be swimming, don’t forget your swim bag essentials.

Bring some entertainment for littles: balls, Frisbee, bubbles etc.

Plan some games in advance: tag, three legged race (I was a champion!), red rover, hide and seek, What time is it Mr.Wolf?, capture the flag (a camp fav!) or red light / green light.


The Food:

Take-Out: My husband proposed to me while we were on a picnic at Webster's Falls. It was a KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) picnic and every year since then we have went back for our picnic. There are twice as many of us now as there were back then :)

You can BBQ hotdogs or burgers – make sure to pack the grill, propane, tongs, buns, meat and condiments.

Sandwiches are pretty easy…go with PB & J or mix it up and do some cold grilled chicken breasts with Swiss cheese, oven-roasted beef with Havarti or a lovely lobster roll (barefoot contessa has a yummy-looking recipe for that!)

Or you can go with a cold selection: salads, meat trays and cheeses….this is one of my favorites! Let me share with you some of my favorite picnic items:

  • Garlic Sausage or Kielbasa and cold chicken
  • Sliced cheeses
  • Cheater Potato Salad (boiled potatoes, Caesar dressing and chopped green onions) which is excellent hot, cold or room temperature!
  • Cucumber Salad

Well…I just went on Google to see about some great recipes that I saw earlier and came across Healthy Picnic. In comparison, my little thoughts are awfully incomplete. If you are looking for anything picnic related, I suggest you visit there! Wow, this post was a bust! Sorry.

Did you have any great thoughts on picnics? Favorite fare, games or venues?

  • This post links to Works for Me Wednesday and Family Friday
  • Related Posts: Set for a Sizzling Summer (tips, ideas, giveaways)
  • Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    How to Make a Barn Cake and Butter Cream Icing

    I am thankful for the internet! It is a wealth of information on everything that you could need, from recipes and knitting patterns to craft ideas, cake ideas and more. It is filled with inspiration, encouragement and wonderful bloggers such as ourselves. Yes, I know that the internet can also be a very dangerous place, filled with things that we do not want in our lives but it is a tool that, if used properly and wisely, can and does enrich our lives so much.

    What prompted this gratefulness? Ideas for this barn cake. I had an order for a barn cake. I don’t do birthday cakes and have never made anything other than cupcakes and sheet cakes. I am also terrible at icing cakes! But since I had an order, I thought I'd better learn quick! So I needed some extra special ideas to distract from the flaws.

    A special thanks to Penny Weaver and her easy to follow instructions for Marshmallow Fondant. Versitile, easy and not too expensive! The animals, grass and pond are all made from it – making them all edible! I also wrapped it around my silo to hold it in place (sort of!)

    I am also thankful for the
    Coolest Birthday Cakes for the other great ideas:
    • pretzels for the fence
    • graham cracker for the door as well as crushed for the ‘mud’ that the piggy is in
    • rice crispies for bales of hay

    A special thanks to Nana for making the animals and her idea additions:
    • jelly beans for chicken eggs
    • coconut for a nest

    My own ideas:
    • The grass and pond
    • goldfish crackers in the pond

    Easy Butter Cream Icing:

    • 1/2 cup of Crisco
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 4 cups icing sugar
    • splash of vanilla
    • Milk to desired consistency (add by tsp.)

    Cream Crisco and butter fully. Add sugar one cup at a time. I love this icing because it can be spreadable or have a thick consistency that pipes beautifully.

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Chloe’s Beautiful Necklace

    Magic Marker Monday

    There are few things in life that Chloe likes better than “Caff Time” (a.k.a. Craft time). With all of the things we’ve been busy doing this summer, we’ve hardly had time to make anything.

    Necklace 009

    But the past week we’ve had quite a bit of rain so we’ve been working on some rainy day fun. Part of it was this fabulous necklace. Now I know the beads are ridiculously huge but I have a baby crawling around and so she can’t have anything smaller. She loves it anyway. While we were making it, we talked about shapes and colors.

    Necklace 005  Necklace 006

    Sunday morning she wanted to wear it to church because it ‘matched’ her dress. Ummm, well sure! It is so hard to get a picture of her. She is always on the move!

    I mentioned that I got a huge bag of craft supplies for $4 at a yard sale? Well this was all in it too! I know we will be reaping the benefits of this find for the rest of the year – and maybe longer!

    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    Do you need Canadian Diaper Coupons?


    I have the following coupons expiring August 15th, 2009. If you can use them, or a good number of them, please contact me (beautifulcalling [at] gmail [dot] com)and I will mail them out to you. I update the post when they are no longer available.

    2 x Heinz Toddler Snacks and Cuisine Products (1.00 off)
    3 x Heinz Baby Cereal ($1.50 off)
    2 x Junior or Toddler Products ($1.00 off)
    1 x Heinz Baby Food (1.00)
    4 x Huggies Wipes (1.00 off)
    4 x Little Swimmers (1.50 off)
    4 x Huggies Bath Products (1.25 off)
    3 x Huggies Natural Diapers ($3.00 off)
    12 x Huggies Diapers ($2.00 off)
    4 x Huggies Overnights ($2.00 off)
    4 x Pull Ups ($2.50 off)

    Blog Hoppin’ 09 – GIVEAWAY!

    I’m Jenn and I am not at Blog-her! Maybe next year, maybe not but I am happy to be joining in on the Blog Hop ‘09. I might have missed it so a special thanks to Amanda at Mommy’s Idea Book and Beth at Not a Bow in Sight for the heads up!

    If you’re new here, thank you for visiting. Have a look around.

    We’ve got a cool giveaway going on right now compliments of Thermos. The giveaway is part of our Sizzling Summer series; with topics such as sun safety, dangerous waters, Simple Summer Adventures as well as some great activities for rainy days. Check it out because there are lots of great tips and more giveaways coming up still!

    There are some great recipes, including the best scalloped potatoes and the yummiest brownies so be sure to visit my Recipe Box

    More Green for More Green is a fun post about easy things to save cash and the environment! How many are you doing? Got a neat idea that I didn’t mention? I’m sure you do. Leave it on the comments!

    I also have some Canadian diaper coupons here for anyone who can use them!


    In honor of the party, I would like to giveaway a copy of one of my favorite books: Loving God with all your Mind by Elizabeth George. She also happens to be one of my favorite authors.

    How to Enter?

    Mandatory Entry: Subscribe to my blog and leave a comment.

    Bonus entry: What is your favorite book or author?

    • Ends 08/07//09. Open Worldwide!

    Sizzling Giveaway: Thermos!

    Sizzling Summer Logo Photo adapted from Zanastardust

    Though out our Sizzling Summer series, I’ve mentioned time and time again how important hydration is! Thermos is a trusted name that has been around for generations (over 100 years!). My first day of school I headed off with my lunch kit containing (my Thermos!) in hand! I was ecstatic when I received my products for review; some for the littles and one for Mommy!!

    So for those of you looking for a short review:

    1. Want a COLD drink this summer? Go with Thermos!
    2. Exceeded expectations!
    3. Quality, Durable, Trendy
    4. Products designed for the whole family!
    5. Worth the investment!

    thermos 020   thermos 028

    With the warm weather, it is so nice to know that his drink is staying fresh and cold!

    John received their Foogo Stainless Steel (BPA Free) Sippy. I’ll let you visit the link for factual details about the cup and simply say that I love this cup.

    • Dishwasher Safe (Hurray!)
    • Wide bottle mouth for easy cleaning and you can clearly see what is in there!
    • Valve is all one piece and made of a hard material!
    • Valve snaps in which means you don’t need to worry about your soft valve wiggling out (which causes leaks) or having it wear out quickly and having to replace the valves often. (With our plastic ones I had to replace the valves a couple times and they were pretty expensive!)
    • Soft Spout for my teething John to chew on.
    • Keeps his drink cold; especially important for him because he usually drinks milk and in the heat – not so good!
    • Durable!! I mentioned before that John is going through a throwing stage. This has crashed to our tile floor more times that I’d like yet it is like new, AND the interior valve stayed in place every time (a huge deal if you don’t want a mess!)
    • No Spill Issues; I was really happy with their leak-proof claim!

    thermos 007

    Chloe fell asleep on the way to Toronto…with her cup. (No, it isn’t posed!)

    With all of that being said, John actually prefers to bide his time and look for an opportunity to steal Chloe’s Leak-Proof Stainless Steel Straw Bottle. I’m not sure who loves it more, Chloe or John (or maybe mommy)!

    • Dishwasher safe (huge points for this!)
    • Sturdy, durable straw (Why must they chew it? It’s been a month though and no signs of wear on the straw so I can tell you it’s durable!)
    • Keeps her drink cold (really cold!)
    • Easy to open lid. (I like the idea of a lid, makes it a bit more sanitary when she is carrying around outside but since she still eats dirt – I guess that doesn’t really matter)
    • Leak-proof; it really is. Some cups make this claim and aren’t. We haven’t had any spillage at all from this one, unless you count the small amount of liquid in the straw that Chloe some how manages to spray but that is more to do with Chloe and not so much the cup :)
    • It’s a good size. Big enough for a decent amount of liquid but not too big that it is hard for her to hold it or awkward to carry.

    thermos 009

    Our day in Toronto: We take our own drinks everywhere. It saves us money and it saves the environment – especially when eating at fast food restaurants where everything is disposable.

    And I think this may be one of the highlights of my summer: Mommy’s Stainless Steel Hydration Bottle. I LOVE IT! I am a huge water drinker. I drink it all day long. I actually used to buy bottled water simply because I liked the convenience of the bottle. I would open a bottle, drink it and refill it for several days before recycling it and opening another. I even drank from a bottle at home because it was convenient to carry around with me. I never go anywhere without a bottle of water!

    • Convenient!!
    • Cold!! Oh, how I love cold water. I have drank a whole lot of warm water in my life but boy do I love cold water. This bottle claims 12 hours – it really does it and more! (Maybe I should have done a test before doing this review lol)
    • The perfect size. When it first arrived I thought it may have been too big because I was used to my little plastic water bottles. But after using this for a month+/- I can’t imagine anything else. It is the perfect size!
    • The spout allows just the right amount of water out!
    • I love the sipper lid because it pops open with the push of a button. I can actually be riding my bike (with my littles in tow) and have a drink one handed! (Would have made a great picture!)
    • It comes with a carry case which has an adjustable strap. I can wear it over my shoulder or across my chest over my shoulder while biking. It also has a hand handle on the side which I thought was odd when I first looked at it and wondered how much you’d use it…it’s genius really!
    • I love pink and silver. I know color is really not important but I really like pink; a happy colour!

     thermos 003

    I love the detachable strap on the bottle!!

    In closing:

    While Thermos may be more expensive that purchasing your standard plastic water bottles at the dollar store or going with your basic plastic sippy cup; I’d say it’s worth the investment. These bottles are a fantastic quality and built to last. They are BPA-free and it is such a delight to have my beverage cold rather than luke-warm. As a seasoned sippy cup-user (or mom to users anyway), I would rather spend a little more on one that I was completely happy with, knowing it would last, than lesser quality ones. Buy Thermos; you’ll be glad you did!

    So I am excited to announce that Thermos has provided the same three products in the review for a giveaway!

     thermos 016

    On a picnic with our friends; Grace and Brady

    How to Enter:

    1. Did you have a lunch-kit and thermos growing up? Leave a comment! (My first was a holly hobby one and I loved it!). Please also mention which cup you would like to win most.
    2. Visit Thermos and tell me what product catches your eye. (Like their Picnic Backpack Set!)
    3. Subscribe to my blog (two entries!)
    4. Blog about this giveaway.
    • Open to Canadian and USA friends.
    • Closes August 7th, 2009


    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Death Before Birth: Coping and Survival

    alonePhoto by kudomomo

    Physical Survival:

    Eat, Drink, Rest.  Miscarriage is hard on your body and if you’ve had any medical interventions it can be even more so. It is important to care for your physical body to help you recover. Adequate rest, nutritious foods and proper hydration are so important even though right now you may not care so much.

    Exercise. Though it may be the absolute last thing you want to do because it requires too much energy, it will help too. God created the body to release certain hormones when you exercise. Certainly don’t overdo it but get out for a little walk. Fresh air, and the exercise will help.

    Cry. Go ahead and cry all you need to. I went back to work a few days after losing Isaiah.  I actually cried the first week back pretty much all day. Not big wracking sobs but quiet tears. I couldn’t stop them.

    Talk. If you need to talk, find someone who will listen. Spouse, counselor, friend. You need to find someone who is capable of being a good listener without telling you everything you should be doing.

    Emotional Survival:

    You are mourning a death. Life begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16,Jeremiah 1:5) which means that regardless of how far along you were, your baby was your baby – a real person who died. You are grieving not only the death of your baby, but the hopes and dreams you had for that baby.

    Guilt. You may be battling guilt and most likely it is false guilt. Maybe you had negative thoughts about the baby because your pregnancy was a surprise and didn’t fit into your plan right then or because the baby was causing so many changes. Maybe you were scared, maybe you were doing something that was said to increase your chances or miscarriage. Perhaps you exerted yourself at work, cleaning the garage or exercising vigorously. Even if you had a fall, God did such a great job in designing the little world that our babies would grow in, that they are very cushioned and safe within utero. I’m not saying it can’t happen but my doctor told me that it isn’t that common. I think that we all have thoughts of “should have or should not have” when it comes to losing our sweet babies. But life and death are in the hands of the Lord. If He had wanted you to carry that baby to term, do you think a little exercise, chocolate, or whatever, would have stopped Him from allowing it to happen?

    Each person grieves differently. You and your spouse will not grieve the same way. There is no right or wrong way. I read everything I could get my hands on. It helped me to cry through other women’s stories and talk about Isaiah. That doesn’t work for everyone. It also affects people differently. Some women are able to work through it within days, others take weeks or months. Though I do not wish to diminish or demean the husband’s feelings here, it may not have been as real to him as it was to you. After all, he didn’t know the baby as well as you did having carried him or her. Just remember that God created each of us completely unique and the varying degrees and durations of grief were designed by God too.

    Name the Baby. This may or may not help you. If it does, then do it. Don’t worry about what other people may say. I named our baby Isaiah. I don’t know if my baby was a boy or girl but that is the name I chose because it means “God is my Salvation”. It helps me that he has a name and isn’t “just the baby I lost”.  You can name the baby only for yourself or you can share it with friends and family. You can name the baby right away, or months later! Again, it isn’t necessary unless it will help you!

    Make a Memorial. Depending on the number of weeks, you may have a funeral or a memorial service. I wasn’t far enough along for the first and wasn’t comfortable with the idea of a service. I have plaque with a scripture verse on it. I mentioned it in Isaiah’s birth story. Some other ideas:

    • planting a plant, tree or a garden
    • buying or making a special garden ornament in your yard
    • hanging a plaque
    • write a story or a song about your baby
    • buy a piece of jewelry and maybe have it engraved
    • just remembering in your heart

    I’m sure there are other things too. You can do one thing, many things or none at all. There is no right way to remember your baby and whichever one will help you and your family is the right one!

    Spiritual Survival:

    Do you know the Lord personally?  He is the great Physician, the Comforter, the Healer. I could not have made it through on my own, and the Lord doesn’t want us to. He asks that we come to Him (Matt 11:28). Go to Him and pour out your heart. Sad, hurt, angry, guilty; just take it to Him. He knows already and He waiting for you to come to Him (Psalm 145:18-19, James 4:8). If you don’t know Him, I encourage you to seek Him today. Feel free to contact me or you can read God’s Simple Plan of Salvation to learn more.

    God is in Control! Remember that He created all things and is in control of everything. He is not sitting on His throne wringing His hands wondering what went wrong. He has a plan! He allowed it to happen.

    God is Good. His Goodness is not limited to what we understand to be good. I do things for my children’s good all the time. Like tonight when I forced her to take her medication and she cried. She doesn’t understand it, she doesn’t like it, but it is for her good. He’s our Heavenly Father and we are His children. He wants only the best for us!

    Seeing the Reasons. He may or may not allow us to see the reasons He allowed it to happen but we need to trust Him that there are reasons. I was privileged to be able to see good things come of my experience but God doesn’t always allow us to know why things happen. We just need to trust. A simple five letter word that is often so hard to do!

    Be Still! Spend time in His Word and just be still (Psalm 46:10). Let His Word minister to your hurting soul.

    In Summary:  Do what you need to in order to cope! Do what feels right for you and don’t worry so much about everyone else and what they think. Do make sure that you are still meeting your responsibilities to your family, other children etc. or ensure that someone capable is. Ask for help when you need it! It is normal to be sad but if you have prolonged sadness, depression or feel like you can’t cope, talk to your doctor and your pastor. Don’t keep it to yourself!

    What helped you to cope, survive and eventually thrive? Please share with those who will stumble upon this in their time of grief.

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    TUT: My Cute Interruptions


    A Google search of 'Tune Up' revealed the following definition:
    An Adjustment for Better Functioning
    A search of 'Adjustment' revealed the following:
    A Small Change, A Minor Correction, A Modification

    What is Tune-Up Tuesday? Find out more HERE!

    I mentioned a few weeks back that I have returned to my planner. It’s been going well. But doesn’t it always seem like the moment something is going as it should (or at least how you feel it should), something else happens?

    The other day was one of those days. I had a *warm* (if I used my imagination) shower, realizing after I had gotten in that there was a problem with the water heater. Our house is pretty ‘baby friendly” so I ran downstairs to see what I could do about it and left the littles. I came back a few moments later to this:

    Wagon 002  Wagon 003

    I can assure you that the pictures do not do the mess justice. And Chloe was just standing there watching him saying “no-no, John-John.”  I thought, “but Friday is vacuuming day!” but then I realized that this week it would just have to be on Tuesday!

    And you know, it really wasn’t so long ago that this happened:

    BC Posts in the Making 028   BC Posts in the Making 030

    It may look like my tune-up should be to endeavor to keep a better watch on our children LOL …

    I just want to remember that these ‘little interruptions” are precious gifts and that each little adventure is an opportunity to practice grace, gentleness and patience. It is also an opportunity to model the right way to respond to the unexpected things that we encounter in life.

    And I am not picking on John-John, he just happens to have made the biggest messes recently. I doubt that anything he will do can top Chloe’s Penetin Cream escapade. Our carpet still bears  the marks to prove it! (No photo sorry!)

    Is your house full of adventure or perhaps misadventures would be more appropriate! Please share – I can’t be the only one!

    Do you have a tune-up this week? (Completed or in progress) Comment or link up!

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Sizzling Summer: Swim Bag Essentials

    Sizzling Summer Logo Photo adapted from Zanastardust

    Swimming and summer go hand in hand. Though your summer may be filled with sprinkler fun, chances are you are heading out to the beach or the pool at least once this summer! While we aren’t very close to a beach, we do live close to my parents who own a lovely pool! Let me share with you what works for me.

    We keep our swim bag packed and in the front closet. Some times I add a few last minute additions however having the bag packed with the essentials certainly simplifies my life!

    thermos 029

    The Bag:

    Before we talk about the contents, lets talk about the bag itself. For me, a roomy tote is essential. I purchased mine several years ago from Pottery Barn Kids. It is durable canvas with sturdy handles (long enough to put over my shoulder), it also has a lined bottom so that if I do end up with some wet things in the bottom it doesn’t run through. It also has an interior and exterior pocket for smaller items. It doesn’t fasten closed which means I can over-stuff it on the way home when the towels are no longer neatly rolled. :) Or when I am in a hurry because we’ve stayed too long and the littles are in melt-down mode (can anyone relate?!?!)

    thermos 030

    The Stocked Essentials:

    • Sunscreen – this is the most important thing! Slather everyone up before heading out but ensure that you have a bottle in the bag for fresh applications. Check out Sun Safety for more tips. SmartShield makes some great products for sensitive skin. I’d also recommend packing a lip balm containing sunscreen too.

    • Towels – I generally pack one per person however often, if I have a lot of extra things to bring, I double up and share with the littles.

    • Bathing Suits – I actually keep our suits right in the bag since we don’t generally use them at home. We use UV swimsuits for both littles. John-John wears UV Skinz and you can check out the review here. Love it!!

    • Swim Diapers – if you are in the same season of life as me, you need to have these too. I used to use disposables until I discovered MonkeyDoodlez Swim Diapers; super cute, economical, green, comfortable and practical. (Available at Moms and Bums)

    • Diaper Bag Essentials – if you are carrying your swim bag to the pool, chances are you don’t to lug around your diaper bag too. Keep an extra diaper/pull up and wipes in your swim bag too.

    • Wet Bag – you’ll want to have something handy for those wet suits when you are done swimming. A plastic bag works but I highly recommend trying out a reusable wet bag like JamTots (available from Ottawa Cloth Diapers). We use reusable bags for groceries and don’t have many plastic bags anymore. This is an awesome solution!

    • Floatation Devices – are certainly no substitution for adult supervision but it makes things a lot more fun and gives littles a bit more freedom. Don’t forget water-wings or lifejackets.

    The Last Minute Additions:

    • Camera!

    • Sunglasses & Hats

    • Water Bottles – hydration is key in the hot weather! If it’s handy, you’re more likely to remember. Innate and Thermos have reviews on the site. For a super cold drink (oh, I love cold drinks!) go with Thermos!

    • Snacks – this is one of my favorite things to pack. There are few things that I like better than a yummy snack! Juicy fruit is a great way to get in some extra fluids but there are lots of healthy snacks. Being active makes for hungry littles (and hungry mommies!)

    • Book or Magazine – I had this listed but as I am typing this, I think it would be a mistake. B.C. (before children) this was an essential but we need to be aware of the danger of water and not be distracted at all so this one is iffy.

    The Pool Additions:

    • Shampoo
    • Comb
    • Change for a locker (if available)

    The Beach Additions:

    • Picnic Blanket
    • Lunch
    • Beach Toys (pail, shovel, frisbee, ball)
    • Folding Chairs
    • Ziploc container or baggie for shells, feather and other mementos
    • Insect Repellant

    Did I forget anything? What are your ‘essentials’?

  • Related Posts: Set for a Sizzling Summer 1.0 , Sizzling Summer Sun Safety 2.0, 30+ Summer Fun Ideas, Rainy Day Ideas, Keep Your Cool

  • Don’t forget about the Sizzling Giveaways in my left sidebar!

  • This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday. Be sure to check it out for more fabulous ideas!

  • Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    mmm…Fool-Proof** Scalloped Potatoes


    Photo by Dr. Hemmert

    This scalloped potato recipe is compliments of my Aunty Pat in Sioux Lookout. She impressed me with it last summer when we went to visit her and was kind enough to share it. The sauce is so basic, versatile and produce great results every time!


    • 3 Tbsp Butter
    • 1 tsp Salt
    • Pepper
    • 2 Cups Scalded Milk


    1. Wash and Peel 6-7 medium potatoes. Slice thinly. Spread 1/3 of the potatoes in a buttered dish (we actually use several individual dishes). Sprinkle with 1/2 a chopped medium onion.
    2. Same as step one above for the sauce. Pour 1/3 of the sauce over the potatoes
    3. Cover another layer with potatoes and remaining onions and 1/2 the remaining sauce.
    4. Place remaining potatoes on top and cover with remaining sauce. Make sure all exposed potatoes have sauce spread on them.
    5. Bake uncovered at 375 deg for 1 hour or until done and lightly browned on top.

    Bonus Recipe:


    1. Melt butter in saucepan and slowly blend in flour, sale and pepper. Gradually add hot milk and stir constantly until it thickens.
    2. Melt in grated cheese if desired.
    3. Boil pasta until just before done, take out and put in oval dish and mix in the sauce. Sprinkle with a little bit of breadcrumbs and some Parmesan cheese.
    4. Bake for about 30 minutes. If necessary, put under the broiler for the last minute to crisp up the top.


    Make extra sauce so that you have have the potatoes one night and the pasta the next!

    MckLinky Blog Hop

    A Moving Essential (I think?!?)

    I just came across a giveaway here at The A-Priori Mommy that I thought looked kind of neat!

    'The Joyful Organizer's Guide to a Happy Move'; I didn't realize there was such thing as a happy move.

    If you have a move in your week, month or year(s) you should really head over and enter!

    Cupcake Orders and Barn Cakes

    This week brings a lot of baking! An order for 150 cupcakes tomorrow and on Friday an order for a 3D barn cake! Having never made one before (or any sort of non-traditional looking cake!) it should be exciting. If it turns out I'll be sure to a picture! LOL.
    I am planning to make some home made fondant to roll out as the grass and then fashion a few (sad looking I'm sure) edible animals out of it. I read that it was easy to make a home-made marshmallow fondant. Any ideas are welcome!

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    Life & Death Before Birth: The Grief Process


    Photo by kudomomo

    I once read that “grief is a lifelong process ; that it is not the passage of time alone that heals but what you do with that time that heals.” The agonizing pain that you feel will gradually diminish as time passes and you work through it but it will never completely go away. At least it hasn’t for me.

    The Grief Process

    There are various stages and emotions that one goes through after experiencing a loss. For some, they will experience them all in and for others, they may only experience a few. The key is to remember that there is no right and wrong; there is no normal. It’s just what works for you!

    Shock & Denial. At first I couldn’t believe it was happening to me! Then despite everything that was happening, I refused to believe that our baby was gone until the ultrasound confirmed it. I kept thinking everything will be fine.

    Preoccupation with the Miscarriage. I became obsessed. Whenever I had the opportunity I read blogs, books, websites, stories about miscarriage and then about pregnancy after miscarriage. It was consumed with the desire to get pregnant again as quickly as possible. This is normal and it will pass in time. It’s also normal if you don’t feel that way.

    Symptoms of Distress. Sleeplessness, feelings of emptiness, hollow feeling in the stomach, lack of energy, poor appetite. I experienced bad dreams and had a really hard time sleeping. Thankfully my benefits covered massage and that really helped me, as did having a warm bath before bed. You may also have feelings of panic, unreality, emotional distance from others or thinking that no one else understands.

    Anger, Guilt,  Depression & Withdrawal. All very normal parts of grief. Maybe you are angry at yourself, the doctor, or God. For me, it was God. I didn’t understand why He would give me a baby only to take it away again. But there is a time for everything, He gives and He takes away, and He is in control! Guilt is also completely normal no matter what or whom you are grieving. I could have done more, I shouldn’t have done that. In most cases it is false guilt and will pass in time. Depression and withdrawal are normal for a time too but if you find that you have overwhelming or prolonged depression, talk to you doctor. Take your anger, guilt and other feelings to the Lord! Let Him help you make it through.

    Acceptance: It will come gradually. For some it could be days, others weeks or months and sometimes maybe a year or more. Each person is so different and each experience is different too. It’s been three years and two healthy children later that I write this. I can honestly say that thought it wasn’t what I would have chosen to go through had I been writing the story of my life, God has used it to His glory in my life and for that I am thankful.

    The above is based on the information at Hospice North Shore

    The Baby Boutique, A Bike Trailer and a Giveaway Announcement

    Baby Jogger 001 Trying it on for size

    I think on of the highlights of our family’s Sizzling Summer is bike rides with our new bike trailer! With it, I can take John (11 months) and Chloe (2 years) out biking. The littles love it! It is the Baby Jogger Switchback Hybrid. It is a bike trailer that easily converts into a jogging stroller and boy, it is fabulous. After my standard test period, I will be back with a complete review however, I wanted to take a minute to tell you about the place where I purchased it.

    The Baby Boutique Baby Jogger 003Sorry for the blurry-ness. Snapping fast because I don’t want to take my eyes off my busy Chloe! 

    The Baby Boutique is a fabulous shop in Kitchener, Ontario. It is owned by Julie and Mark, parents of a now 2 year old. Their company was born out of a desire for baby essentials that they couldn’t find elsewhere for their own little bundle of joy. They carry a variety of unique and practical baby essentials as well as some really cool non-essentials! My first contact with the store was through email. I was impressed by the prompt responses and the friendly, professional responses that I received. Going to the store was fun as well. The shop is well laid out, with a nice wide aisle to walk down. Chock full of delightful products, it is in no way cluttered. Julie greeted me with a smile and was very friendly and gracious, even when my daughter rearranged her entire shoe display when I glanced away for second. (I use the word ‘rearranged’ very loosely here! LOL)  For some reason knowing that it is real-life parents who own and operate the shop gives me an extra bit of confidence in their products, knowing that they are putting thought into everything that they carry.

    Baby Jogger 004 The Shoe display before Chloe rearranged it. A great selection of quality footwear. I reviewed a pair of Jack and Lily’s last month (A++). If you are looking for a local retailer…this is the place for you!

    So now that you know how impressed I am with the store, let me say that they also have a great website. Informative and well laid out, it was a pleasure to explore as well. I am heading to their shop tomorrow and plan to pick up a couple Peek-a-boo wipes pouches since I have recently started carrying cloth wipes to go along with my cloth diapers. I’d never heard of these but thought they looked cool. Another product that caught my eye is the Splat Mat. Maybe you’ve been blessed with neat eaters however I have not been. The floor around John is a disaster after meals. This may be the solution to my troubles. (Though if a disastrous floor is my biggest trouble then I would say life is pretty great!!)

    With all the neat things they carry, I would recommend that you to check it out for yourself. The Baby Boutique also has a newsletter that you can sign up for. Just visit their website and sign up in the left sidebar (hint: it will get you a bonus entry into the giveaway!)

    Baby Jogger 002Our daughters are new friends! Aren’t they beautiful? 

    For a limited time, The Baby Boutique is offering Beautiful Calling readers a special price on the Hybrid, $569.00 + tax.

    Be sure to come back (or subscribe) so you don’t miss the the official review of the Switchback Hybrid and a giveaway (and no, it isn’t a bike trailer).

    For all of you anxious to get started on the giveaway, go ahead and leave a comment in this post for another bonus entry! Simply visit The Baby Boutique and leave a comment with something that caught your eye (other than the ones I mentioned).

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