All posts in Family

Finding Clarity in Flood Waters

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My normal routine is: get up, put robe on, let dog out, make breakfasts/lunches and then go downstairs to shower.  On this Monday morning, I walked down the stairs and stepped into a giant puddle of water a couple of inches deep. There was water EVERYWHERE.

My basement was flooded.

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How Frozen Helped Me Love Myself More

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Frozen: the movie I’ve seen at least 30 times and the soundtrack plays non-stop when my girls are in the car. Let’s just say I can bust out any Frozen song on cue and I’ve made my own Do You Want to Build a Snowman words including: “Do you want to poke your eyes out? Or maybe slit your wrists?”.

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My Darling Baby

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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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Fighting Writers Block

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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 →

Welcome to the Big Girls Club

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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.

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Back to School for Moms

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?

When I was approached by Natalie to hang out at London Drugs for a couple of hours with her then write a post about it, I jumped at the chance.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Stop comparing my daughters

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.

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How Does She Do It?

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).

I spend my time working at an online marketing company, blogging at techmommy.ca and making myself laugh on social media- TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Pinterest.

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.

Click her to keep reading. It gets a little funny, if I do say myself. 

Big thanks to Kjirsten for asking me to be a part of How Does She Do It. I had a lot of fun :)

Go ahead, make my day

Today has been an incredible day of ups and downs.

This morning, I saw a tweet by a Youth Defense Advocate:

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I contacted Mark right away and he came and picked up the bassinet that Tenesea and Azalee both slept in as tiny infants. Yes, I could have made money selling it to a consignment store, but giving it a fellow mother who just wants to provide for her family, means way more to me.

As Mark walked to his vehicle, I went into the kitchen to hide my tears. I have been the recipient of gifts such as this one.

There were a couple of people along the way that gave me hope when I was in my darkest times. Although, I’m sure they never knew how much these gifts meant to me, my heart thanks them every day.

I sat in my kitchen trying to figure out a way that I can say thank you to everyone who helped me, while giving back to the people that need it the most.

I came up with Make Jen’s Day

Sunday, July 22nd is my birthday and I have only one wish:
I wish that all of my friends, family, Twitter followers, FB friends, blog readers and even people in my Google + circles take a moment this weekend to give something to charity.

Give your time, give food, give diapers, give formula, give clothing, give money, give breast milk. What you give doesn’t matter as much as helping someone who needs it.

When you give, take a picture. Then make sure I see it.

  • Tweet it using the #makejensday hashtag
  • Join the Make Jen’s Day Facebook page and post your photos on the wall
  • Use the #makejensday hashtag on Instagram.
  • Write a blog post about your experience and link back to this post
  • Email it: jenniferbanksyeg@gmail.com

I will post every photo on an upcoming blog post and there just might be random prizes available for making my day.

Honestly, I haven’t been this excited about anything in a long time. Please help me make this the best birthday ever!

Come on, make my day!

If you own a business or work for a business that would like to donate /give prizes and/or match donations, contact me ASAP at the email above.

**UPDATE**
I am getting a lot of questions about where to donate time, goods and/or money.

Here is a list of my favorite charities in Edmonton:

Here is a list of my friend Alex’s favorite charities in Toronto and area.

I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the response so far. Every time I open my Twitter and Facebook, I cry happy tears. Thank you all so much.

Being a Baby Formula Robin Hood

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.

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This is going to the food bank tomorrow.