My Darling Baby,
I’m sorry this took me so long to write. People have told me that time heals wounds and that things get easier. Although losing you hurts less now, I think of you every single day.
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My Darling Baby,
It’s been over a month since I last wrote on this site. There’s been so much to say, but I needed my brain to catch up to my heart before I could get my thoughts down.
I’ve always said that I welcome change in my life, and I do. For the most part, change is great. It gets your blood flowing and your brain moving. The changes that have happened in the past month were hard though, really hard.
I had to admit that my 9 year marriage was over and I filed for separation. Continue reading →
When I see a picture of a newborn baby on Facebook, I’ll click to read the comments, even if I don’t know the parents. I love seeing pictures of wee people, reading their name and tiny pieces of their birth story.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a comment under photo of a new baby boy that said: “Welcome to the Big Girl’s Club, (insert mom’s name here)!”.
At that moment, I really wish I knew the parties involved. I really, really wanted to write a comment about how ridiculous it was to think that having a child made you a “Big Girl” and on the flip side, not having a child makes you lesser of a woman.
I’m the girl who goes into the drug store for a greeting card and walks out with $80 worth of stuff. I don’t know how I do it, but every little thing seems to whisper “buy me” softly into my ear. How can you say no to that?
Back to school doesn’t get me doing a happy dance as my kids are younger, but it still affects me. I have to leave the house earlier to miss the minivan traffic, the entrance to my dayhome is packed with kids and backpacks and I get super busy at work as my clients are back from summer vacation.
September to June is busy, busy, busy for me. So, I decided to focus on the most important piece of back to school for me, getting my butt out of the door on time with a 5 month old and a 4 year old.
I met Natalie at the London Drugs in Oliver Square. It’s been newly renovated and looked shiny. I love shiny things!
Natalie walked me over to the cosmetics counter and I got a little apprehensive. I have terribly sensitive skin and have had some interesting things happened from drug store cosmetics. Rashes, puffy eyes, breakouts and burns to name a few.
Even before I opened my mouth, the beauty advisor looked me over and said: “With your complexion and the red highlights in your hair, I can tell you have really sensitive skin. I do too! Let me show you some lines you can use”. Very cool!
This line is made for sensitive skin. I loved seeing the yellow tags, which meant SALE! Everything was reasonably priced and starter kits were on sale for $20. Right now, just my facial cleanser cost that much.
The best part- if you have a reaction or it doesn’t work for you, it can be returned within 15 days with a receipt.
Next, she showed us some BB creams. I’ve heard of BB creams, but never considered one because of my sensitive skin. They’re supposed to be the cat’s ass. It’s a cream, foundation and skin brightener in one. The one that she preferred was by Marcelle.
I watched her put the BB cream on the back of her hand. The cream blended into her skin tone like magic. Seriously, I’ve never seen anything like that before. I use a tinted moisturizer now, but it took almost 3 lines to find the one that matched the best. I also thought it was pretty smart as my skin is lighter in the winter than the summer and this would stop me from having to buy 2 different ones.
I looked at the box to see what else it did.
I read it and immediately chucked it in my basket. It was worth a try. At $24, it was half the price of my tinted moisturizer now and HELLO, you get a free mascara with it right now. Cost justified.
The super nice beauty advisor also walked me through some other products that she has used on her own sensitive skin and loves. She showed me a make up palate with 3 smoky eye shadows, 3 lip glosses and blush. It’s a London Drugs brand called London Look and it was on sale for $4.99. You bet I added that to my basket.
Now that I had quick make up, it was time to move onto their computer and tech stuff.
The first thing Jonas showed me was the Crayola Pen for the iPad. It’s on my Christmas list for Tenesea as anything I can bring out to keep her occupied is fantastic in my books. Especially when I am trying to get my clothes on, make up done and do my hair in the morning.
For $25, you get a Crayola Pen that kids can color pictures with (you download an app) and draw. You can also use the pen as a stylus.
We then went through their tablets. They started at $150 and went up to iPads. I am a huge fan of tablets for kids. Mine uses hers to watch Netflix (which means I don’t have to watch Treehouse), plays educational apps and even reads her bedtime story books on it. In my opinion, I would spend my money on a tablet for a child than a LeapPad. They are more versatile and cost efficient in the long run.
Typical Jen, I asked Jonas hard questions about their lines and may have broken out some geek speak. He was well versed in his products and had a lot of knowledge.
I asked him flat out why someone would want to buy something from London Drugs and not a big box store. Especially when prices are typically around the same amount.
His reply was one I hadn’t considered before: “We’re a Canadian company. Also, look around. It’s not busy in here. We have dedicated people that can spend time with you to answer all of your questions”.
There is nothing I find more irritating at a big box store than having money to spend and no one to help me.
They had a really great selection of tablet accessories as well including mounts, cases and different types of styluses for touch screens.
I also looked through the iPhone camera accessories. As you can tell from my pictures on this post, I can use some help in this area. To be honest, I didn’t even know London Drugs sells iPhone camera lenses. I think I’m putting one on my Christmas list this year (hint, hint). Besides, I have a dedicated camera now and can never remember it. Maybe bringing a lens with me will help me get the pictures I want without kicking myself for forgetting my camera.
After wandering around the store for 2 hours, I forced myself to walk away from most of the shiny things.
I now have my BB cream, mascara and quick makeup palate to get me out of the door faster when school starts, and I’ve put some new things on my ever growing Christmas list.
*UPDATE* I’ve been using the Marcelle BB cream and mascara as well as the London Look makeup for a week now. I’ve had no reaction to any of the products and am now a big BB believer.
I was given a London Drugs gift card in exchange for writing this blog post. Woo-Hoo! These are my honest opinions on their products.
As I rolled my shopping cart up to the Costco doors, I had a moment to focus on my two little girls. My two beautiful little girls. My little girls that everyone likes to compare.
When Tenesea was a baby, she wasn’t getting the amount of breastmilk that she needed to thrive. She gained weight faster after being given formula and grew like a weed. She’s 4 years old and is wearying size 6/7 clothing. She’s energetic and very active.
Azalee is in the 85th percentile for height and weight. She’s already wearing 9-12 month clothing. She’s been on formula since she was 6 weeks and she is bright eyed and so eager to learn. She rarely cries and will offer up smiles to anyone she makes eye contact with.
Ever since Azalee was born, people have start making comparisons between the two girls. I hear things like: “Tenesea was so skinny and Azalee is so fat”; “Azalee is so chunky. Like a little butterball”; “Did Tenesea have rolls like this?” and my personal favorite “Azalee is cute for such a dark baby”.
By comparing my girls, people are assuming that Tenesea is too skinny and Azalee is too fat. They are also making the assumption that Tenesea’s size is acceptable and Azalee’s is not.
The worst part is that people are saying these things in front of my daughters.
When I was in grade 3, my teacher started talking to us about body image. She asked us if we would be more likely to buy something from a fat girl or someone that looks like Jennifer? This completely put me on the spot.
I was thin and tall and instead of being flattered by the statement (which I think was how my teacher intended it), It angered me. Why wouldn’t someone want to buy something from the smartest salesperson? Why would looks matter when you’re buying something? I though it was bullshit (yes, I knew that word at the time).
I remember everything about that moment. I remember where I sat in the class. I remember the giggles when she made the comparison. I remember the rage that bubbled up in side of me. I can even remember the smell of our classroom.
That comparison changed something in side of me.
At such young ages, a person can argue that my girls don’t realize what’s being said about them. But, what if they do?
What if Tenesea remembers being told she’s too skinny? What if Azalee remembers being told she’s too fat?
As their mom, I will compare their temperaments, foods they love, favorite snuggle positions and things that make the smile. I know I can’t stop other people from comparing, but I can help them both understand that how they see themselves is a million times more important than how other people see them.
I have two intelligent, beautiful and amazing girls.
I was recently asked “How Do You Do It?” By Urban Infant Magazine. Here is an excerpt:
Tell us about you, your children and where you live
My name is Jennifer Banks and I live in Edmonton. I have a hot, tattooed husband and two little girls- Tenesea, a 4 year old spitfire who refers to herself as Princess Spider-Man and a 4 month-old daughter named Azalee who is the sweetest, Zen baby you will ever meet (I may be a little biased).
Just recently, I started Make Jen’s Day. I asked my friends, family and social media peeps to give back to their community for my birthday as a way to say thank you to the people who helped me as a child. Within 4 days, 115 acts of giving, kindness and generosity took place. If Make Jen’s Day inspired that many people give back in 4 days, just imagine what we can do with 365! I’m current developing the www.makejensday.com website. It’ll be a place where people come together to celebrate giving, receiving and seeing small acts of giving that resulted in huge impacts on people’s lives.
Big thanks to Kjirsten for asking me to be a part of How Does She Do It. I had a lot of fun
Breast feeding is free, but there are reasons why this may not work for every mom. The next alternative is formula feeding and it sure isn’t cheap.
Being a mom on a budget, I did my research into formula companies and found that one company provides the exact same, generic formula to Shopper’s Drug Mart, Superstore, Costco and Walmart. I watch for sales at each of these stores and get my baby’s formula at the lowest cost possible.
This really made me think. What about moms who truly can’t afford baby formula and have situations where they can’t breast feed?
While out with my friends last week, I brought this up. My friend Meaghan talked about her mom’s situation. When she had to put Meaghan on baby formula, it almost bankrupt the family. Literally.
Meaghan’s mom had her working husband to help and I have my EI payments and a working husband and it’s still hard sometimes.
Imagine how hard it is for a mom with a low income or an assisted income to feed her baby.
I called the Edmonton Food Bank and was told that they are always in need of baby formula. They will accept any kind of formula in any sized can or bottle. This is one of the items with the highest need.
I wish I had thought about this with my first daughter, but I am making up for lost time now.
I’ve become a baby formula Robin Hood
- I sign up for every mom group (online and through stores) available and welcome their formula packs.
- I ask for formula at the health care clinic by my house, while at appointments.
- I take a huge diaper bag to the pediatrician’s office and pile in as many free samples as I can before I get busted. Usually, I’ll even ask for some more after. They have never said no.
I take all of this formula and put it into the food bank box at my nearest grocery store.
Just the thought of not being able to feed my daughter breaks my heart. I couldn’t even imagine how hard this reality would be.
I know that the formula samples at the doctors’ offices, hospitals and health centers are provided by the formula company at no cost. If they are offering it, I’m taking it.
If you are wondering what to do with the baby formula that came in the mail or have cans that you won’t use, think about giving it to the food bank. Somewhere in your community, a mom and baby thank you.
Anyone who has met my 3-year-old- Tenesea, knows she is outgoing, energetic and kind. She is also very trusting.
While on a play date at TELUS World of Science, a couple of my friends were asking me about what it’s like to raise such an outgoing child.On one hand, she makes friends easily and she’s always willing to help. On the other hand, she’s very trusting.
Just as I said this, I scanned the room to find her. I couldn’t see her anywhere.
Right before I entered the “Holy shit! Where is my kid” panic, I saw her. She was sitting on the lap of some random lady at one of the science displays.I walk over and grabbed her hand. The lady giggled and said “She asked to see what we were playing with and climbed onto my lap. She’s so sweet”.
This situation really made me think. Should I teach her about stranger danger? Should I replace this innocence and trust with worries about people she hasn’t met?
I thought back to the people who abused me and caused me harm. They weren’t strangers. They were people I knew. Thinking about my friends growing up, I don’t remember even one of them being hurt by a stranger.
I’ve decided not to teach my daughter about stranger danger.
I’m replacing “Don’t talk to strangers” with “Don’t keep secrets from Mommy and Daddy”.
Every time I hear an adult tell a child “It’s our secret”, I cringe. Even in a completely innocent situation, this is teaching your child it’s okay to keep things from you. Adults should never ask children to keep secrets. Period.
As a child, I would try to open up to my friends about the abuse that was happening to me. Each time, I told them it was a secret and that they couldn’t tell anyone. They never did.
It’s up to me as a parent to teach my girls the difference between innocent secrets between friends and when to speak up. There is a huge difference between keeping a secret about a boy your friend likes and knowing someone is being hurt.
I’m replacing “Don’t trust men in vans” with “Trust your instincts”
Kids are smart. Very smart. They are also very intuitive.
Tenesea will often catch me in thought about something that’s bothering or upsetting me. Even before I’ve said anything to her, she’ll ask me if I’m okay. She’s in tune with me. I know what she can sense this off of other people as well. I’ve been shopping with her when she asks me why someone is so sad. Usually, it’s someone I hadn’t even noticed.
I’m going to give her positive reinforcement when this happens and remind her to always trust her instincts. As always, if she feels like someone is going to harm her, anyone else or themselves, she needs to run and tell. Besides, what does this “scary man in a van” look like? Is he big? Is he a big man with tattoos?
If he is, you just described my husband and her father. He is the kindest, most compassionate person you will ever meet. You can’t tell your child to stay away from scary men who look a certain way, it makes no sense. They are more likely to be abused or hurt by someone you know. That’s a scary reality.
I’m replacing “Don’t tell anyone your name” with “Use the correct name for your body parts”
As embarrassing as it was to have Tenesea scream that she broke her vagina to a room full of people at the play park, I was very proud. We are teaching her the correct names for her body parts. This way, God forbid, anything ever happened to her, she would be able to communicate clearly. I hope this also takes shame out of her sexuality. I want her to ask questions and be curious about her body. I want her to know what is right and what is wrong.
I want her to be proud of her body. All of it.
If something doesn’t feel right, I want her to tell me. If one of her friends is being hurt, I want her to tell me. If someone older than her asks her to keep a secret, I want her to tell me.
At the end of the day, I want Tenesea to be an outgoing, happy child. I don’t want her to worry about people hurting her or abducting her.
In the beginning of my meal planning and budgeting, I found a super easy recipe that changed the way I look at my crockpot.
The Crockpot Chicken Tacos recipe was on the Yummy Mummy Club website. It boasted 3 ingredients. Chicken, salsa and taco seasoning. Easy enough for this newbie!
I decided to try it!
Crockpot Chicken Tacos
I bought 5 chicken breasts and covered it with mild salsa (took about a 650 ml jar and a half). I used mild salsa to make sure my 3-year-old could eat it.
Then, I took the recipe to a whole new level. I made my own taco seasoning, I know! Crazy, right?!?
I found the recipe on allrecipes.com
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
I ended up doubling the recipe as I love my tacos and burritos to be extra taco flavored.
Then you just leave it in the crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.
Once it was done, you take 2 forks and shred the chicken. Once it was shredded, I left it on warm for another 30 minutes.
I served it with shredded cheese and sour cream.
My family absolutely loves these tacos. I’ve made them 2 weeks in a row. When I used chicken breast from Costco, we had enough for a full meal and I also put the meat on nachos later on in the week.
Best part of this recipe, I’ve used fresh and frozen chicken breasts. Both versions were awesome.
Chicken breasts and salsa. Yummy and super healthy. Win/win recipe!
Cost: $19 (using Costco chicken breasts) Makes 2 full meals.