Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunny D- Has your child gotten their dose today? I'm talkin' Vitamins not the drink

Medical Disclaimer-The contents and information on this blog are for your informational use only. My blog posts provide general  health and parenting information.  This information in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read on this blog.

Today is the beginning of a new segment that I'm calling  "Medical Monday".  Each Monday I will tackle a different medical issue.  As a Registered Nurse I am commited to staying current in the medical field through continued education and by increasing my knowledge base to acheive the highest level of compentecy.
It is my responsibilty to provide the most accurate and up to date information available.  It is truely a passion of mine to educate others about health, safety and wellbeing.  If you have any medical topics that you would like me to discuss than please leave me a comment below or email me.  Some possible future posts for my "Medical Monday" segments include: Ear Infections, Vaccines, Treating Constipation, Vasectomies, Pregnancy and Postpartum....
No medical issue is off limits.
Today I will be discussing Vitamin D deficiency in kids.  Read on to find out if your child falls into this category and how to treat this growing concern.   

In our house, sunscreen and summer go together like chocolate cake and a tall glass of milk.  You can't have one without the other.  My poor unfortunate kids have inherited our pastey white pale complexion and they burn to a crisp within minutes of being outside.  They've become very accustomed to the whole "sunscreen application routine" before going outdoors.

I recently came across an article discussing Vitamin D deficiency in kids.  The article stated that millions of children all across Canada and the U.S.A are currently presenting with criticallly low levels of Vitamin D.
The article also stated that one of the possible causes could be the use of sunscreen.

Without getting too technical, sunlight has been a major source of Vitamin D for humans for thousands of years.  Hence, the reason we call Vitamin D the sunshine vitamin.  When sunlight (specifically UV-B radiation) hits our skin it reacts with some chemicals (7-dehydrocholesterol) to start making Vitamin D. The process is complex, long and not very interesting.
Why exactly is it imporant to get enough Vitamin D?  Well, studies show that low levels of Vitamin D results in bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other ailments.  Some studies suggest that appropriate levels of Vitamin D can improve brain function and ward of cancer.  Vitamin D is an essential part of bone growth in children because it makes it possible to absorb calcium.  It can also prevent osteoporosis later on in life.  The most well-known health problem associated with Vitamin D deficiency is rickets{bone softening}which can cause bowlegs and other bone malformations, particulary in children.  This is why in the 1930's milk became fortified with Vitamin D.

Most family doctors now recommend infants take a Vitamin D supplement soon after they are born and for the first year of life.  At a minimum, from the time a child is born, they should be on 400 IU of Vitamin D/day.  After the age of 1, they should be up to 1,000 IU per day, and teenagers should be on 2,000 IU a day. 
Studies show that most parents stop giving a Vitamin D supplement after the age of 1.
Many parents believe that their child is getting enough essential Vitamin D from various food sources or from a daily multivitamin.  This thinking is faulty because most childrens' multivitamins do adequately supply the recommended daily dose of Vitamin D.  Also, most kids don't drink near enough milk to consume the recommended daily dose.

It is nearly impossible for children to consume the minumum recommendation of 400IU a day from foods they eat.  To demonstrate why this is so, I've provided a few examples of how much Vitamin D can be found in some common food items.

  • A child would have to drink 4 glass of milk a day to get the minimum recommended dose of 400IU (cheese and most yogurts typically do not contain D unless they have been fortified)
  • Herring(a type of fish) is a great source of Vitamin D.  Almost 1400IU for 3 ounces.  There's just one problem.  When is the last time your child ate 3 ounces of fish in one sitting let alone in one week?  
  • Other sources include shitake mushrooms, mackerel and sardines.  Last time I checked,  these aren't staple items in most kids' lunch boxs.   
  • 100IU of Vitamin D is found in any one of the following.: 8 ounces of Cow’s milk, 8 ounces Rice milk or Soy milk, 8 ounces Orange juice, 8 ounces Pudding, 1/2 cup Cereal,  1/2 cup ofYogurt, (such as Danimals) ** Remember shop carefully though.  These items must state they have been fortified with Vitamin D otherwise they do not provide your children with a source of Vitamin D.
Today we see many children spending more time indoors with video games and computers; drinking less milk, and if they do go outdoors they are coated with sunscreen.
If your child is very sun sensitive, obviously you don't want them to get a sunburn or worse cancer.  The problem is, now we have to worry about them developing bone disease, diabetes and  heart problems.

What's a parent to do?

Well, reasonable sun exposure is one option
(without sunscreen).  10-15 minutes several times a week is the recommendation.  Of course, I'm not suggesting you let your child bake in the sun at high noon.  However, there is no harm in letting your child play outdoors in the sunny weather during off peak hours.  We really need to stop demonizing the sun.  Remember the key word is reasonable sun exposure

For those who live in more Northern regions, this is not always possible due to the weather.
This is why many health professionals believe it is best to supplement children with Vitamin D if they are unable to get it from traditional methods.  Supplementation is a very safe alternative.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatrics both reccommend a supplement of 400IU daily for newborns to teens.  {note-Infants who drink 16-17 ounces of formula, which contains Vitamin D, or Vitamin D fortified milk do not need to take a supplement.  Exlusively breastfed babies should take a 200IU-400IU supplement daily.  Always check with your doctor before supplementing} 
Vitamin D supplements can be found in almost all pharmacies or health food stores.

So, has your child recieved his/her dose of Sunny D today?  Are you opposed to supplemenation or have you already started doing so?  I'd love to hear your feedback on this subject.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The craft that scares Pearl and causes her to hide under her bed!

My inspiration for this craft came from Maria at "Make and Takes".  I thought it was adorable and it looked really simple to make.  Not to mention, I've been dying to get my glue gun fired up again.  It's been over a week now and I'm starting to get the shakes.  I'm seriously consideing bronze dippiping my first glue gun so that I'll have it as a keepsake.  Makes me wonder what strange and crazy items have been requested for bronze dipping. 

Of course I had to google it!  Otherwise, I'd be lying in bed tonight thinking about it.

Apparently, many strange and crazy items have been subject to bronzing.  Including this bra!  Even a McDonald's hamburger has been bronze dipped. 
See, I'm not that weird after all.
Have you ever considered bronze dipping a precious keepsake?
No? You should try it.  You can buy home kits
{In case you're wondering, bronzing is a process in which an item is encased in a layer of pure copper. The copper is oxidized and then polished to achieve a lustrous shine thus creating a lasting and memorable keepsake.  I've done a couple pairs of baby shoes) 

Are you not wondering what the story behind this bronze dipped bra is?  Leave me a comment and I'll tell you.  It's actually quite fascinating

Ok, back to this week's craft idea. 
Isn't this Monster Step Stool Cute?
Yes I realize Opal has two different socks on. 
This seems to be "par for the course" in our household
Apparently, {this} craft didn't help to solve my missing sock problem.

All of the kids loved this stool and actually ended up fighting over it.  Well, that is except for Pearl.  Every time Pearl sees this step stool she freaks out and starts crying.  I've found her hiding under her crib one day while Opal tormented her with it.  This is the same child who is afraid of the dandelions that brush up against her leg.  My poor delicate child who is scared of a step stool.  Totally putting that one in her baby book.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

3 Jewels In My Crown Welcomes Erin from Apples with Honey

Today I'd like to introduce you to my very first guest blogger!

Erin Ellenberger-March is a talented artisan and fellow blogger.  Erin has several loves in her life that she shares with her readers over at Apples With Honey
Erin plays the role of Mommy to a precious little girl named Poppy.  You have to check out her pics of Poppy to see how completely adorable she is!  Erin is also expecting her second baby in September.
She previously entertianed a career as a Dental Hygenist but has since decided to become a STAHM/WAHM after the birth of Poppy. She is one of the most talented creative writers that I've encountered in a long time and has recently taken a stab at freelance writing. To earn extra income she sells her handmade pieces such as beautiful photography prints, earrings, metal stamped jewellery, glass pendants and silk screen items. You'll also be able to find her handmade items at the Bobcaygeon Farmer's Market starting June 12, 2010. I'd like to personally welcome Erin to Three Jewels In My Crown.

Seeing The Everyday

Our lives are the sum
Of each moment and interaction.

Each day we work, eat, laugh, teach, play, read, remember...
And work at it all again the next day.

Within seemingly small moments we find opportunity
To build relationships, develop character, find joy
For the price of our time

Life's most essential possibilities are realized at home

Where we share, teach, grow, learn, serve, give
Our best without praise or fanfare.

Because every effort, every moment matters
In development of a person.

Nothing is really routine.
To all who see the everyday. ~Seeing The Everyday Magazine~

I easily find serenity in the wind and scents of hanging fresh laundry on my beloved clothesline. Nestling into wind and sun soaked sheets on an early summer evening is one of life’s great decadences. I understand the happiness of dirty hands, a sweaty brow and sun-warmed shoulders while working in the garden. To sit sipping cold tea with tanned hands after a cool shower and look out at what you have done is a simple thrill. To swipe away fingerprints and nose prints from the windows so the sun can reach just a tiny bit further across the floor and touch my cold toes in the morning is a good thing. Sometimes, when the mood strikes I even enjoy the hiss of a hot steamy iron smoothing away the creases in linens and work shirts as if by magic.

One chore I do not love is that of washing dishes. There is just something that seems so cruel and relentless about it. I have been known to have standoffs with a sink full of dishes that last days. The tidy person inside of me always surrenders and dips her hands into the hot water and reluctantly opens the mysterious lunch containers to be cleaned. Just as I am about to raise my arms in victory of completion, I spy a tossed aside sippy-cup under the table or a lone glass on the nightstand and so the cycle goes; no time for celebration.

Or is that necessarily true? As a stay at home mama trying to keep her nest in happy order I am trying to change my perspective on the everyday duties that are required of me. In a sense, to be resentful is to be ungrateful, not to mention to fight a losing and very tiring battle. I have always felt a stir in the pit of my stomach when I read the quote “Be happy for this moment, for this moment is your life.” After years of looking at these words they have finally taken root and challenged me to change something about my behaviour.

On good days I try to be aware, as I sort through sticky forks and knives and oatmeal-cemented bowls, of the constant flow of life. I remind myself that by resenting the constant cycle of doing and un-doing, I am resenting the natural flow and energy that is in everything we do. The day begins and ends. The sun rises and sets. We sleep and we awaken. Each day is the same until we focus on something either brilliant and brave or tedious and mundane; a picnic under the tree or a sink full of dishes.

Rather than resenting the tedious tasks of our nests, perhaps we can focus on the slow rhythm of sorting, the soothing sensation of soapy water on tired hands, and the shiny gem of a just washed glass. Perhaps we can take a moment to think of the stories and lives behind each tea cup and handmade mug that passes through the suds. Be grateful for the opportunity to be utterly present and still in a moment of gratitude for everything we have and can do.

We can’t have the picnics under the tree without the clean dishes nor can we have the picnics without making more dirty ones. To accept that inevitable truth will only make life more enjoyable.
I will tell you I am no saint and have moments of sheer exhaustion as I watch a pink clad Poppy as she spins and sings at the top of her lungs and sprinkles dog food on a floor I just swept or paints a milk picture on a floor I just mopped. But I am learning and transitioning into a different way of thinking and these things take time. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to the makers of messes, for they are the teachers. Take a deep breath and begin again without resentment. Think long and hard about changing even the slightest thing about your life without first considering how it might change the rest of it.

go gently & be wonderful



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How do you treat PPA? Shopping of Course!!

Just to let you know, this post is a full frontal post!  I'm completly exposing a somewhat private part of myself and feeling slightly vulnerable because of it!
This cob of corn{me} is getting husked and I'm about to show you my kernals!  Ok, get your mind out to the gutter!  No nude shots, just raw emotions

Think about a time in your life when you were overcome with anxiety.  Maybe it was those stressful 30 seconds before you found out the results of your pregnancy test.  It might have been that time you found out your loved one was in a car accident and the docters didn't know if he/she would make it out alive.  Now take this feeling and amplify it 10 times.  This is what it feels like to have a Panic Attack
When Sapphire was born I experienced PPA(post partum anxiety).  PPA doesn't seem to get the attention that PPD(postpartum depression) does.  Maybe because everyone assumes all new parents are a little on edge or nervous.  When I say I had PPA, I mean I had anxiety to the point I was debilitated and experiencing physical symptoms from it.  My heart would race, I would have intrusive thoughts, I felt nauseated and I had difficulty breathing.  Anxiety is real and so is PPA.  I'm not ashamed of having had PPA.  Why should I be ashamed of something millions of women experience all around the world.  In fact, I'm proud to say I've had it and  because I've had it I've developed certain coping mechanisms for dealing with my stress.
This week was a rude awakening for me in that I had to face the reality that I was returning to work on Wednesday. 
Once again the anxiety seemed to hit me hard,  like a transport truck carrying 17 tons of Budweiser beer crashing into your garage wall. {Happy Father's Day Honey!  Wouldn't your significant other love that for Father's Day? I know mine would}  This life altering event was upon me and I could feel myself entering ~~panic mode~~ again.  This time I knew I had to deal we my monster right away.  Yes,  I'll admit I've taken meds in the past.  I'm not ashamed to admit that either.  Why would I be ashamed of treating myself in order to be a good mom to my children?  However, meds are not the only way to deal with PPA.  For me, the key to dealing with anxiety is distraction.   If I allow myself to continuously worry about something then chances are that "something" will become a trigger for an onset Panic Attack.  Of course the best distraction for me is always shopping.  Yes, I'm talking good old fashion retail therapy.  Works like a charm everytime.
So, I bet you're wondering what I bought myself.

Today I had 4 hours to myself to go shopping.  I could have gone to any retail store.  I could have leisurly browsed through the stores in the mall.  Instead, all I could think about was going to the hardware store to get some supplies to make these adorable water bracelets for the kids.  I know, if I were you I'd want to kick me too! I 100% agree that I am pathetic.   However in my defense, it is insanely difficult to think about myself for once.  To give myself permission to be selfish even if it's just for the day! I've spent the last 14 months taking care of kids, making sure they are happy, healthy and thriving.  Today,  I finally had a day to take care of me and I blew it!
Tommorow I return to work.  I'm not really sure why I'm worried.  I have lots of great co-workers to hold my hand as I hone my nursing skills once again.  I have family members to watch my kids while I'm away from them.  It's not the end of the world if I don't get my crafting done this week or if the laundry piles up.
I just want this transition to happen and for life to get back in sync again.  To all you working Moms out there and SAHM's too!  This {{hug}} is for you!

Anyone have any good ideas for how to make my transition back to work a little easier, on myself and my family?
Does anyone want to touch on their own experiences with PPD or PPA?  I know you're out there!!
If you don't want to discuss it on this forum you can email me and I'll be more than glad to give you any support that I can.  I think part of dealing with it is to be honest and open about it.    
Wish me luck everyone!  Can't believe my lunch is packed and in the fridge waiting for me!  How weird is that?

PS Yes I did buy the supplies to make those water bracelets and I'll post the instructions for them next week so stay tuned. 
PSS Another good way I deal with stress is to grab a can of choclate fudge icing, grab a spoon and dig in.  Mmmmmm!  I should really be a therapist instead of a Nurse don't you agreee?
My perscriptions for PPA-take 2 tylenol, 1 glass of wine, 4 hours of shopping and 1/2 can of chocolate fudge icing!
PSSS-Is it possible to have 3 ps's and what does ps stand for?  Anyway, I would love it if you would join my followers list so I don't look like a loser!  Thanks everyone!  I know I sound like my 6 year old daughter but I like to have lots of friends too!
Over there in the sidebar ---------------------------------------->

Monday, May 24, 2010

Extending my giveaway!

********Contest Closed**********

At the beginning of last week I posted a surprise giveaway widget to my blog, however, in the midst of getting my new blog design I lost the widget and I'm pretty sure most readers didn't even realize I was hosting a giveaway.  Therefore,  I've decided to extend my giveaway for one more week.    

For your pleasure I'll be giving away a evening dinner date with Moi!!  Joking!  Thanks to the lovely Etsy Designer Jen from Jenny Wren I'll be giving away this adorable crocheted duck hat.  It is a great gift for your little one or a perfect shower gift for a mom-to-be. 

Once again here are the rules to enter.
To receive one entry you must leave a comment on any of my previous blog posts.  Join my followers and I'll give you 2 more entries.  I will award 4 more entries for those who blog about the contest and link back with the post.  Don't worry all entries from last week will be thrown in the mix as well. 
All entries must be in before midnight on May 29, 2010. One winner will be selected via and announced on May 30, 2010. The winner will be notified via email, so please make sure your email address is correct. The winner will have 48 hours to respond, if no response is received, then another winner will be selected.  I will not share your email address with any third parties.
Good Luck!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy First Birthday Pearl

I don't usually like to post many pictures of my kids online but today was such a monumental occassion that I had to document it and share it with all of you!  Today we celebrated Pearl's first birthday.  We had it at a local zoo with 17 kids and 10 adults.  I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.  It was a happy occasion as well as a sad one.  I'm happy to see her grow and become more independent but I also realize that I'll never celebrate a "first birthday" with my kids ever again.  These precious moments just fly by too fast!

This week's High!!!!!  Pearl's first birthday party!
Pearl is and always will be our baby girl!  She is quiet, shy and Mommy's suck! 
Things I love about her:

Her fake laugh and real laugh

The way she stretchs like a starfish first thing every morning

The way she lays her head on my shoulder for a little cuddle from time to time

Her awkward one leg up and one leg done crawl

Her sparkly blue eyes and breathtaking eyelashes

Her blood curdling scream when she's hungry

Her "jack o lantern" smile  (a tooth here and a tooth there)

The loose wave in her hair

Her button nose

Her one hand "open and close" wave to say hi and bye

Today we celebrated her first birthday!  I cried!  I love my baby girl so much and I couldn't ask for any other blessing in the entire world than to be her mommy! 
Happy Birthday Baby Girl!
Love Mommy

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My New Blog Design and My First Blog Award!

Wait a second, does anyone notice anything different about "Three Jewels In My Crown"? 
I knew I had smart followers.  It didn't take you long at all to realize
I have a new and improved blog design! Yipee!
I personally would like to Welcome you to "Three Jewels In My Crown".
A big hug and squeeze goes out to Jessica from A Blog To Brag About .  She is the genius behind this amazing blog design.  Together we crafted this amazing header that represents everything "Three Jewels In My Crown" is all about.  I'm seriously so excited I could pee my pants!  After 3 kids it doesn't take much to make me pee my pants anymore.  Raise your hands if you understand what I'm talking about ladies! For those who haven't had kids yet, keep practicing those keagles!
I'm also very thankful for each and every reader who follows my blog and for those who engage me through your wonderful comments.  A big hug  goes out to all of you.
Now if this wasn't enough excitement for one day would you believe that I have even more good news?
Well, today I received my very first Blog Award!

C from Random Thoughts And Musings From The Island is so sweat for presenting me with this award!

What would be the point of an award if you didn't share it with others?  So, there are some rules and responsibilities when you accept this award.
Here are the rules for the "Sweet Blog" Award:

Give this award to 10 sweet and friendly bloggers
Make a post about the award including the picture and mention the person who gave it to you
Put the award on your blog
Let your nominated 10 know you've awarded them by leaving a comment

The 10 amazing bloggers that I am presenting this award to are highly deserving of this award and they have fabulous blogs that I follow regularly.  This is  award is actually more rewarding to give than receive!

1. Taylor from Mary Janes and Galoshes Her fabulous blog offers craft ideas, tutorials and product reviews
2. Cynthia from Crumbs in the Minivan has a lovely blog about parenting and entertainment
3. Allie from No Time For Flash Cards has a great site for toddler crafts
4. Marie from Make and Takes has an amazing site that offers craft ideas, party ideas & parenting tips
5. Erin from Apples With Honey has a beautiful blog about life and parenting.  I adore her creative writing
6. Kami from No Biggie has a great blog about parenting, crafts, cooking and tutorials
7. Kathy from Mama's Losin' It has an amazing blog with writer's workshops, vlogging and much more
8. Holly from Domestic Dork has a hilarious blog about parenting, crafting and life in general
9. Shanna from My Favorite Everything has a lovely blog with tons of product reviews
10. Jessica from A Blog To Brag About  As mentioned above she is a great blog designer who just so happens to blog as well.

Well my friends, what do you think?  I'd love to know what you think of my new blog design and about my blog award.  This is a great opportunity to get in on the surprise giveaway that ends at midnight on May 22, 2010.  So drop me a line or two and you'll be entered to win.

Sally Centrifuge-The salad spinner that saves lives!

A couple months ago a good friend introduced me to a life changing kitchen tool gadget!{when I hear the word tool I think of my husband, I mean I think of something my husband would have in his garage.}  Oops love you honey!  Have you ever heard of this thingamajiggiy called a salad spinner?  I like to refer to it as the Gravitron.  What?  Tell me you've been on the Gravitron!   The amuzement park ride that looks like a space ship and spins nonstop until you hurl your cotton candy and raspberry snowcone.  Just speaking from experience.  Fine, I'll show you a pic so that you know what the heck I'm talking about!  

Ok, now that we have a visual of what a salad spinner looks like, I can move forwad with the actual point of this post.  Like I was saying, my friend introduced me to the gadget that makes your greens dizzy!  I think she purchased her salad spinner at Costco for $19.99.  Actually, I think I just made that price up in my head.  I have no idea what she paid for it.  I must be having adult ADD today because I can't seem to stay on topic.
After I had used my salad spinner a few times, I honestly couldn't bare the thought of living another day without it.{slight exaggeration}  Maybe I'm lacking in  the entertainment department lately but I really do think it's a lot more fun to spin my lettuce dry.  Yesterday, I actually said to Sapphire, "When I was your age we had to towel dry our lettuce.  It didn't come from a bag either.  It came from the ground.  Consider yourself privileged to have a salad spinner." 
Did you know that once you stop hand cranking the salad spinner it continues to revolve six more times?  I made that up too but I bet 20 bucks, actually $19.99, the next time you use your salad spinner you're going to check to see how many times it revolves after you stop hand cranking it!  Mark my word!

Ok Crystal, what is the point to this post?

Well, did you know that a salad spinner can save lives?  I didn't know that either until I came across {this} article that highlights two Rice University undergrads who turned a salad spinner into a rudimentary cetrifuge that separates blood.  This may not be intriguing to everyone but as a Nurse I find this fascinating.
You see, when a lab collects your blood into vials they put it into a crazy expensive machine and basically spin it so that the different parts of the blood separate into heavier red blood cells and lighter plasma.  The hematocrit, or ratio of red blood cells to the total volume can tell clinicians if a patient is anemic.
In many parts of the world these expensive machines just don't exist.
To quote the article, "The spinner has been turned, so to speak, into a rudimentary centrifuge that medical clinics in developing countries can use to separate blood without electricity. " This revolutionized salad spinner, named Sally Centrifuge, will be travelling to Ecuador and Swaziland this May/June.  The two students will be putting their invention to good use when they participate in the Beyond Traditional Borders health initiative. If underdeveloped countries have access to inexpensive tools (word of the day) that detect anemia, this will make a huge differnce in diagnosing malnutrition, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

I'd like to hear what you think of this story on Sally Centriufge.  Do you own a salad spinner and what do you think of it?  Do you use it or is it just another gadget taking up space in your cupboards? 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lately,  I've been asked about some of the animated pics that I've posted on my blog and how I created them.  I'd like to welcome you to the world of Photo Manipulation aka Digital Image Editing. Today, photo manipulation is widely accepted as an art form. I personally love to tamper with my digital photos whenever given the chance.  Photo editing is not a new concept by any means.  In as early as the 1860s, photographs were already being manipulated, only a few decades after Niepce created the first photograph in 1814. Fastforward to 2010 and we now have access to high resolution cameras, powerful pc's and sophisticated photo editing software. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a professional photographer and terms like ISO, Aperature and Shutter Speed tumble around in my head like underpants in the dryer. The beauty of the world wide web is that it offers hundreds of free online photo editing websites.
Photo editing is not only fun but also a pretty essential element if you want your pictures to look good.
Today I'd like to share with you some of my favorite free online photo editing sites {because not all of use can afford the latest addition of Adobe Photoshop}

#1 Photobucket
Not only is this a reliable online photo storage site but I like to use Photobucket for the bulk of my editing needs.  This site is great for assigning HTML codes to your pictures. {if you're a blogger you'll understand why HTML codes are important} These codes can be copied very easily and used in blog posts or on your Myspace page.  Photobucket also assigns codes for email, IM, direct link and IMG, all used for different applications. It is very user friendly and easy to navigate. It has basic editor and advanced editor options for enhancing photos. You can access simple applications such as resizing and adding text or more advanced features such as color saturation and histograms.   A quick story to share with you.  When Pearl was 1 week old I was attempting to reformat my memory card.  In the process of reformating I lost all of her pics from birth and her first week of life!
*gasp* If you're wondering, Yes, I was crushed like a empty coke can under the feet of a 12 year old boy!  If you're a Mom you know how special these photo memories are!  Even her first bath pic was deleted!  :(  Ever since that horrific experience I always make sure to save my pics to a disk regularly and I also make sure they are saved to a online photo storage site!  Photobucket allows you the option to share with others online or to keep your photos private. 

#2 Picnik
95% of what you'll do in Photoshop you can do in Picnik and just as easily. My favorite feature of Picnik is the unlimited undo button. You can edit to your hearts delight then remove each application, layer by layer, with the undo button.  The one down fall of this site is that those who opt to use it as a free member are deprived of some of the premium features.  Despite this, I've found that it has more than ample options for the average user. It has many powerful editing tools as well as great special effect features to add to your photos.  I also love this site for its great selection of fonts. Sue Ellen Francis is my favourite font to use.  I also love the vintage editing tool that enhances photos to make them appear as if they were taken in the 1960's.  If you've browsed my blog than you may have noticed the neat "daisy frames" or "polaroid frames" that I'v added to some of my pics. This site offers these features along with many others.

#3 Fotoflexer
This is a great instant editing site without having to become a member.  Like other photo editors, it also has an array of editing tools such as auto-fix, redy-eye adjust, and cropping.  It also offers some extra feautres such as animated stickers, photo frames and glittered text.

#4 Lunapic
If you like to morph your photos, add animation or just have fun with editing than you must check out this site. In my Cake Pops post I used the reflection application to add a bit of animation to one of my photos. Lunapic does not impress me with it's image editing tools, but it does make up for this with it's unique animation and image creation tools. Lunapic will generate a HTML code for bloggers or Myspace users but I've found it much more difficult and slower at generating this code than say Photobucket.
Even though I consider myself a loyal user of sites such as Picnik and Photobucket, I will stop by Lunapic every now and again to take advantage of its amazing animation effects.

#5 Big Huge Labs
When I want to have even more fun with my photos I visit this site. It offers cool features such as photo collages, vintage photobooth strips, and tons of unique frames. Why not add your child to a magazine cover or announce something important on a billboard while visiting this site?

Honorable Mentions
Oldify Me

Now, for some examples of before and afters! {Prewarning- I am not a professional photographer. I'm just a hobbyist and a Mom who likes to take photos of her kids and enhance them slightly. Therefore, you may find these pics pathetic and very amateur but I'm just demonstrating some of the techniques available} Click pictures to enlarge.  This way you'll be able to fully see the effects I used !

Opal riding his bike!  Color splash technique by Photobucket
A tree on our farm! Color enhancing using Picnik

Some clouds on our farm.  I used the circle splash tool to make it apper as if the sun was trying to burst through the clouds. 

Opal and Daddy walking the farm.  I used Picnik and Oldify Me to edit this photo

Look closely and you'll see Opal sitting on his tricycle.  I used Lunapic for this photo

Pearl sitting on the front lawn.  I used color splash, glitter text, cropping and vingette framing

This is Opal and Sapphire at the zoo. {sorry about the head cropping but I have privacy issues when it comes to putting photos of my kids online} This is the reflecting water animation tool from Lunapic

These are just a few of the many tools and applications available.  One thing I'm still toying with is watermarking my photos.  I haven't found a great site for watermarking.  If you're not familiar with watermarking it's basically putting a stamp on your photos. Watermarking helps to prevent photo theft when posting photos online!  Can anyone help me find a good site for watermarking?  Also, I'd love to hear from you what other sites you use to edit photos.  I would like to check them out!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Today I made these Cake Pops! They're so cute I can hardly stand it!
Have you heard of Bakerella?  No?  Ok, take 2 minutes to check out her website then I'll meet you right back here after that!
I know!  I fell in love with her goodies too!  There's just one problem.  I have as much patience or lack thereof as a 3 year old at a doctor's appointment! I enjoy baking but I tend to stick with the quick and fool-proof recipes.
That's why I decided to use Bakerella's cake pops as Inspiration!
So, what would you say if I told you that you don't have to turn your stove on, or crack an egg or even plug in your mixer to make these cake pops?
I must admit that Bakerella's recipe that involves pulsing a baked cake and mixing it with icing isn't really that labour intensive, however my method is for those who have little to no time in their day but still enjoy a sweet treat now and then.
So, here is how I adapted her recipe to make it super simple!  
If you live in Canada you know what these are!
If not they are called Timbits aka donut holes.  If you live in the U.S.A., I think coffee shops like Duncan Donuts have something similar.  So basically, I bought 10 plain Timbits {I didn't use the chocolate kind because they have a sugar glaze on them and I thought it might be too much}
Then I bought some pink chocolate melts from the bulk food store.  As well as some sprinkles and candy sticks.  
1. Place stick in the Timbit {tip I put them in the freezer for a few mins while I melted the chocolate.  This will make them more firm and the chocolate will harden faster}
2. Melt chocolate in glass bowl (stir every 30 seconds) until smooth and runny
3. Dip Timbit in chocolate and twirl to remove excess chocolate.  If you have craft foam to stick them in great!  I forgot to get some so I used some kids playdoh in the containers to stick them in.  They just need to stand upright while drying.  Cover with sprinkles before the chocolate is completely dry.  Decorate as you wish.  I used some left over tulle and a little bow! 

Since I was already in the kitchen I thought I would make use of my time so I went on to make these adorable mini cupcakes. 

Doesn't this picture just remind you of Alice in Wonderland! 
Sapphire has gotten so much use out of this tiny tea set! 

Again, no need to turn on your oven for these adorable little treats! 

I used store bought mini muffins!  You know the kind that come in the plastic container?  I melted some light chocolate (again stir every 30 sec) in the microwave.  Then I poured a small amount into the bottom part of the plastic muffin container that you just bought. 

You could also buy a candy mold like this but I saved $3 because I used the plastic container that the muffins came in.
You may have to play around a bit to get the correct amount.  Then place your muffin in the chocolate base so that it covers the bottom and all the way up to the rim of the muffin top. 
Place in the fridge to harden
Melt your pink chocolate in the microwave
Dip top of muffin in pink chocolate then decorate with candy sprinkles and a red M&M. 
Cute as a button!


There's a turd in the toilet with no toilet paper. Who didn't wipe their butt?

Well dear friends, I just got the kids onto the school bus. 25 mins of frantic mahem but mission accomplished. I think some of our morning tasks should be featured on that new game show "Minute To Win It".
Crystal you have 1 minute to fully dress a 4 year old (socks, underwear, pants, shirt, hat, lunch box, school bag) Start the clock! Go!
It wouldn't be so frustrating if Opal wasn't jumping on the bed laughing at me as I grab for his left leg. Oh, so close!  Then he runs into another room, squeeling with delight!   When I do catch him he curls up into a snail position and everywhere I touch he thinks I'm tickling him.  All of the sudden we've created this most amazing game! I know what you're thinking, why don't you let your 4 year old dress himself.
Super easy answer! On days he doesn't go to school he does dress himself but typically his pants are put on backwards, his shirt is inside out and his socks, well,  I've told you about our history with socks.
Does everyone have a monster living in their lundry room that has a yearning desire to devour "every other sock" and "every other mitten".  It's like a cereal(breakfast still on the brain) serial killer marking his path!
This monster leaves one sock behind just so you know he's come and gone leaving traces of evidence that he exists. 
Maybe I'm lacking some essential vitamin D.  I want the sun to come back! It's been almost a week with overcast weather and I need to stimulate my endorphins. I need my little dose of happiness that I get from "Mr Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun"!

This morning I'm feeling sort of down on myself!  I try not to focus on my parenting blunders  because I know we all have good days and bad days, however, today is the day after one of those "bad days" and the guilt is starting to set in!
There are so many things I struggle with in parenting so today I'm asking for your help!!!!!!!!!
Here are a few of my concerns that I need help with.

1.  Why can't I get my son to wipe his own butt!  Seriously,  he's 4 and can dress himself (sort of).  He's like a pint size dictator or king of the thrown (pardon the pun) When he finishes going poo he shouts at the top of his lungs, "I'm done, can somebody wipe my butt" This same kid can do back flips off the monkey bars and can do wheelies on his bike but he can't figure out how to wipe his butt. Where have I gone wrong?

Since we're discussing the potty, I also want to point out how disgusting it is when  you enter the lou to find a surprise turd in the toilet! Do I have to bribe them with stickers to get them to flush? What's more concerning is that sometimes there's no toilet paper accompanying that turd which means someone didn't wipe! Yuck!!!

Does anyone else find it odd that we become expert interpreters at reading the wellbeing of our kids by examining their poop! You didn't know you had that talent did you?
2.  How do I get my kids to eat their veggies?  Not a problem with Pearl yet because her little mouth is constantly open like a preciuos baby bird.  Waiting for the next crumb of food to fall into it! She reminds me a lot like our dog Bailey! She scours the floor looking for left over crumbs or bits of food left behind by the older two.  Last nights supper was a cabbage casserole packed with nutrients and wonderful ingredients. 
Opal and Sapphire picked and picked.  Spreading the food about their plate to make it look as if they had eaten some.  Do they really think I'm that stupid?  Next Sapphire says, "How many more bites until we get dessert?"  My snarky reply "All of  it, every last spec.  You should be thankful you have food to eat!  If you don't eat every last spec I'm putting you to bed hungary and you'll never have supper ever again!"  Yes, that is me yelling and threatning my kids!  When did I become my mother?  Does anyone have any novel ideas?  I'm at the end of my rope when it comes to getting my kids to eat their vegetables! By the way do pickles count as a serving of vegetables? I joke!
3.Finally, I want someone to tell me not to worry that Pearl isn't pulling herself up yet and has no interest in walking.  She's almost 1 and I know every kid walks eventually but why do I still feel like a failure because my baby is going to be a late walker?  I shouldn't be surprised because Sapphire didn't walk until 15 months.  I wasn't concerned until  last week  I saw a couple other 12 month olds walking.  Then the comparisons begin!  Why do I do this to myself? 

I guess all I need this morning is a big hug and maybe a white chocolate mocha latte from Starbucks! 
Can anyone please help me with my above mentioned parenting roadblocks?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What kind of award does the dentist of the year get? ~a little plaque~ hahhaha

My kids ask me over and over again why they have to brush their teeth.  I explain to them over and over again the reasons why but it never seems to convince them that it's a good thing to brush and floss daily.  I've even resorted to the "fear tactic" by showing them pictures of gingivitis and rotting teeth.  However, kids this age don't understand the direct cause and effect of taking proper care of their teeth because cavities take time to show up.  They've even witnessed my dental horror stories first hand!
I'm a really big believer in learning through play.  Through trial and error my kids have taught me that I can pretty much get them to do anything if I demonstrate parental involvement and if they have fun doing it! 

I came across this activity online

I didn't have any marshmallows at home so I decided to tweek this craft to make it my own. (Plus I get a strange sense of satisfaction when I use my glue gun.  Yes I agree, it's weird!! However, last time I checked there isn't a self help group for "glue gun addicts" Maybe I could start one!  Good excuse to get out of the house once a week!lol)

This is my interpretation!  Kid's Style Dentures!


  • Cardboard(I found some pink cardboard at the grocery store otherwise you can color it pink to resemble lips/palate)

  • Gum

This kind

Not this kind!

Why not this kind you ask?  Well, if your kids are "sugar addicts" like mine than they will try to secretly eat the sugary gum and not the peppermint kind when you're not looking.  Not a good thing once you've hotglued them to cardboard.  Your kids may have more self-control than mine so this may not be an issue for you!  Also, you can explain to them what a clean and healthy mouth smells like if you use the spearmint kind. 
  • Red construction paper. You could also use craft foam or felt instead.  This would make it more realistic looking
  • Hot glue gun, glue stick,
  • Sissors
  • PomPoms and Googly Eyes
1. Cut a circle out of cardboard and then cut it into half to resemble two half moons.  If you have a denture cup on hand (doesn't everyone keep a denture cup on hand?  No!  Just me) you can use this as a template! 
2.  Glue a piece of red construction paper (cut in the same shape) to one piece of cardboard to resemble a   tongue
3.  Hot glue your pieces of gum to the top and bottom pieces of cardboard to resemble a set of teeth. 
~tip~ I used two whole pieces of gum for the top front teeth then cut the remainder in half
4.  I cut a rectangular piece of cardboard that allowed me to elevate the top palate onto the the bottom palate. This creates the jaw
5.  Glue the pompoms and googly eyes on top
Voila a set of "Kid's Style" dentures to play with!

Other Activities
  • Cut out smiles from magazines to cut and paste like the doggy pic above that Opal chose to cut out!
  • Take "before and after" pics of your child's teeth.  Have your child eat something like peanut butter or you could use plaque detector pre-rinse to highlight the germs on their teeth.  Snap a pic of their "yucky teeth" then have them demonstrate proper brushing and flossing.  Finally, snap a pic of their clean sparkly teeth.  I used the picnik website to add polaroid frames to my pics above.  They look like the kind of pictures taken at a dentist office.  It would be a good idea to tape the "before and after" pics to the bathroom mirror to remind your children about proper brushing
  • Set up a pretend Denstist office.  Your child can pretend to be the Dentist and his/her dolls and stuffies can be the patients.  Be sure to get some stickers or printable rewards for the dolls and stuffies who have cavity free smiles
  • Read some books.  I suggest

If you're little one is in the process of loosing their baby teeth than you must visit the 
I caught the Tooth Fairy website! 
Your kids will never question the validity of the Tooth Fairy because you'll have evidence of their visit.  Receive 50% off with the code fairy-1

Finally, if you're glue gun isn't sitting on top of your kitchen counter like mine is{ for quick and easy use}
 then stick with  the marmallows!
For instructions on how to make this "Marshmallow Teeth" project visit                    
                                            The mother Huddle blog site!

The point is to have a little fun when teaching your kids about Dental Hygiene!

PS- I'm trying not to overreact but Pearl still only has 2 bottom teeth and she is almost 1.  Sapphire and Opal both had at least 8 teeth by now.  Anyone know if this is normal?  I could google it but I much prefer hearing about other moms' own experiences with teeth and teething.  While on the topic anyone have any good suggestions for teething pain?