3 Words to Stop Arguing with your Toddler

It’s been a long, hot, smokey summer here in BC. Our province has literally been on fire and the smoke has basically taken over. I’ve lived in BC pretty much all of my 36 years and I have NEVER experienced smokey air like this. The air quality has been so bad, we’ve been forced to stay inside on many occasions. I’m still a little cautious with Lily’s lungs because of her being so premature (read that story here ) She’s at a higher risk for asthma and other breathing problems because she was born with underdeveloped lungs. For those of you with toddlers, you know what staying inside for multiple days means… lots of whining, arguing and tantrums.

An Image of Vancouver in the smoke from CTV News Vancouver (https://bc.ctvnews.ca/dramatic-difference-vancouver-skyline-transformed-by-smoke-1.2456182)

My girls need to burn (bad word choice, no pun intended) off energy and they LOVE being outside. There’s only so much energy they can burn off while playing inside. There’s less room, so they’re in each others space more, which leads to more arguing. It’s an endless cycle some days. Bedtime is the worst here in our house. The girls still have pent up energy and try to get it all out before going to sleep. Getting them ready for bed is exhausting. I started to feel like I was just yelling at them all the time and they didn’t listen anyway. I’d end up with 2 streakers running down the hallway while I threatened “don’t make me get Daddy up here!!” Some nights Pete would just have it with the screaming and arguing and talking back he’d come up anyway. They usually smarten up a bit when Daddy’s around.

One night I was at my wits end! We’d been stuck inside for 2 or 3 days. Our only outings had been grocery shopping and to PetSmart to get them out and see the fish (they love the fish!) I was on the floor, close to tears, after fighting with them for what seemed like FOREVER over which pajamas to wear and then actually putting those pajamas on. They just would not listen.

I couldn’t help but think to myself “this is not working…” I took a moment just to take a breath and regain some composure. Then I looked at Lily and I said “Hey Lily, you know what? I LOVE YOU!” Then I looked at Maggie and said “Hey Maggie, you know what? I LOVE YOU!” I think they were a little shocked at first! I brought them both over for a little hug and snuggle and from them on, the whole getting ready for bed routine went a lot smoother.

I don’t know if it was me taking a moment to gather myself and remind myself that I love them, or if it was me reminding them that I love them. Maybe I’d been yelling too much for too long and they’d tuned me out. But those 3 simple words made such a difference to our night. I’ve tried it a couple other times when we’re having a tough time dealing with big emotions. Rather than yelling or getting upset, I stop and tell them I love them. It doesn’t mean they don’t get a time out or have to say sorry for their actions. There are still consequences. But it really just resets the whole situation. It reminds them that I am doing this because I love them, not out of spite, or being mean or just because I feel like it. I love them and I want them to know right from wrong. I love them and I want them to learn to be kind to each other and others. I love them and I want them to know whining is not going to get them what they want in life and that sometimes they’re going to have to work really hard to get what they want. I love them and I want them to be able to share with others and make friends. I love them and I want them to learn to be responsible and work hard at whatever tasks they are given.

What are some ways you deal with whinny, overtired toddlers? How do you and your family cope with big emotions and tantrums?

Related article:Loving discipline

Mermaid Give Away!!

Update September 10, 2018- The mermaid was donated to the Surrey Memorial NICU to be given as a gift to an older sister of a NICU baby. Our neighbours in the NICU had a little girl when they were in the hospital. A stay in the hospital is hard on all family members, especially older siblings. If she can bless one of those little girls, I’m a happy camper!

She’s almost done!! Just a few finishing touches left on this gorgeous little mermaid! Originally I was making her to donate to an organization that makes care bags for people (including kids) undergoing cancer treatments here in BC. Unfortunately, the lady organizing the bags had to take a bit of a break due to family reasons (totally get it!!)

Anyway, I still want her to go to a deserving little girl. Do you know of a special little girl who would absolutely love and deserves this little mermaid? Drop a comment or email me at caroline@lilymags.com with your nominations.  On September 10th I will decide on one special girl to receive this. (Canadian residents only- not affiliated with Instagram or Facebook)

Click bellow for some great crochet patterns from Craftsy

Everything you need to knit, crochet, spin and weave at Craftsy.com

BeyondBeanie ~ Brand Ambassador

This post may contain affiliate links. Through no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission. You can read my full disclosure statement for more information.

I’m super excited about this latest partnership I’ve made! I am now a Beyond Beanie Brand Ambassador! A couple weeks ago, someone contacted to see if I wanted to become a brand ambassador for BeyondBeanie. Honestly, I’d never heard of them or their mission before. I was intrigued though. After looking into it some more, I fell in love with the concept! All their products are handmade by Bolivian artists. Each artist signs their work and receives a fair wage for their work!

As if that wasn’t enough, each purchase made goes to helping kids in Bolivia! Is that not the coolest thing ever?!?

After reading all this, I was totally onboard with being a brand ambassador for them! Not only are they providing jobs and fair wages for women, they are also helping children at the same time!

“beyondBeanie was co-founded by Hector Alvarez and Paty Lucero in2014. The company was the result of a backpacking trip that Hector did to Bolivia to visit Paty. Together, they discovered beauty in the rich and colorful textures of Bolivia. They also witnessed the harsh reality of severe poverty in Bolivia… Using an awareness of both the beauty and the not-so-pretty, Hector and Paty dedicated themselves to combine their expertise in business and design to create a fashion line to represent the colorful spirit of Bolivia” (https://beyondbeanie.com/pages/media-kit)

According to World Vision, Bolivia is

“One of the poorest and most underdeveloped Latin American countries, Bolivia faces declining economic growth while drug production and usage climb… Bolivia has one of Latin America’s highest rates of gender violence, affecting women at home and in the workplace. Many children are threatened by exploitation from human trafficking and cyberbullying.”

I am honored to have been asked to be a part of this and I would LOVE if you wanted to be a part of this amazing mission with me! You can shop directly through this BeyondBeanie link and use my code HULTGREN77 for 25% off!! Happy shopping and happy sharing!

love,

Caroline

Holidays 2018

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately! Pete took 2 weeks off of work and we had a GREAT little vacation with our family. Here are some highlights!!

Camping: We went for 3 nights and 4 days camping at Rolley Lake just outside of Mission, BC. It was fantastic! Gorgeous campsite; great little beach by the lake; awesome weather! You can read all about it here!

Also check out my Ultimate Family Camping Checklist downloadable PDF

Click here for your FREE PDF

Road Trip: Every year at the end of July, my sister and brother in law in Enderby host a big family birthday bash for my 2 nephews. My oldest nephew, Ethan’s, birthday is July 27th and his younger brother, Myles’, birthday is July 30th. So it works out well to do them all together. This year Ethan turned 18 and Myles turned 10, so it was kinda a big year for them both! We had just got home from camping, so rather than camp out in my sister’s yard like we have in the past, we decided to book a hotel. It’s a good 5 1/2 hour trip from our place, so we left fairly early on the Saturday and made it there mid afternoon. Everything went well, other than 1 minor puking incident for Maggie. She gets car sick and I hadn’t brought any Gravol along 🙁 Poor kiddo… she was fine and fell asleep after she puked! On the way home we took some Gravol from my sister so we could avoid another incident! We stopped in Merritt for supper at my other sister’s house. So, the girls got to see all of their cousins that weekend! They had so much fun. Their big cousins are so good with them and the girls just love playing with them all, they look up to them a ton.

8 of 11 cousins enjoying some birthday ice cream cake!

Birchwood Dairy: If you are in or around the Abbotsford, BC area this summer (or any summer!) be sure to check out Birchwood Dairy! They have some of the best ice cream in town! Plus, they have a petting zoo area with cows, ponies, goats and sheep that the girls just loved. We bought a bag of apples and celery for $0.50 and the girls went to town feeding all the animals. They especially liked feeding the baby goats and the ponies. There’s also a playground with swings and a slide and some really cool old cars, trucks and tractors to look at. You can watch the farmers milk the cows in the parlor from 3:30-5:30pm as well, so we caught some of that on our way out. It was Pete’s first time seeing a milking parlor too!

Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays were playing in Seattle this past weekend. so we left the girls with my Mom and Pete and I made the trip down there. It was a long weekend and I think half of BC was heading down to see the Jays play, so we had a 2 hour wait at the border! I think that’s the longest I’ve ever had to wait. If you’re familiar with Abbotsford and the Sumas border crossing, we were stopped by Costco already! We hit up the Seattle Premium Outlet Mall on the way down there. Of course, we only left with things for the girls! Pretty typical once you become a parent!! When we got to Seattle, we parked near the stadium and just walked around for a bit and took in the atmosphere. Everywhere you turned there were more and more Blue Jay fans! We met fans from Calgary, Campbell River, Victoria and Cranbrook. Pete’s been to couple Jays home games in Toronto and he said it totally felt like a home game there. It was a sea of Blue Jays blue when you looked out at the stadium. We got to see an awesome game. We saw some great pitching from Marco Estrada, a home run by Aledys Diaz and to top it all off a streaker ran onto the field in the 9th inning. Pretty hilarious, but apparently he’s paying quite a hefty price. You can get fined up to $5000 and spend a night in jail. Turns out this guy was from Ireland too and is possibly facing deportation back there! I hope it was all worth it for him!

Abbotsford Agrifair: We wrapped up our holidays by heading out to the Abbotsford Agrifair. Abbotsford has this fair every year to showcase some of the Agriculture in our city. We’ve taken the girls before, but I think this is the first year they really started to appreciate it. The RCMP Musical Ride was there, so we watched a bit of that. It’s so amazing what they can do with those horses! So beautiful!! It was scorching hot there with no shade, so we didn’t stay for the whole thing. After that, Maggie wanted to go look at every single animal. After a brief meltdown by the Lego display, we went and had a snack and headed into the barns. It was pretty neat seeing all the cows, chickens, goats and horses. You can’t go to the fair without Mini-donuts, so we had that for a snack and then went back home for supper. It was hot, but the girls enjoyed it!!

Our little flower and honey bee!!

So, that’s our holiday recap!! What have you all been up to so far this summer? Any great places to recommend?

love,

Caroline

Camping with Kids

This post may contain affiliate links. Through no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission. You can read our full disclosure statement for more information.

We decided to take our 2 girls on their first camping trip this past week! We stayed pretty close to home just in case things don’t go as smoothly as planned. The first time we tried camping with Lily, she was 9 months old (6 1/2 when you account for her prematurity) and I was 2 months pregnant. This time we headed up to Rolley Lake just outside of Mission, BC (less than a 45 minute drive from our house!!) I’ve been there on many day trips, but never overnight. Its a gorgeous little spot with a great beach and lake to swim in (no motorized boats!)

Daughter Lily playing at the beach
Lily playing at the beach
Maggie playing at the beach

I was a little nervous to go camping with kids at first. Our first trip with Lily didn’t end up going so well. We went to Tofino on Vancouver Island. It ended up being soooooo cold that week and it was the middle of July! Lily was miserable, we ended up leaving early and getting a hotel in Nanaimo. This time around, we had a fantastic time! The girls had so much fun playing and exploring around the campsite and we all enjoyed relaxing and swimming at the beach. It was much needed time for our family.

Our campsite was fantastic! It was fairly private with lots of big trees surrounding us. Even though it was smoking hot when we were there (30+ degree weather) the campsite was comfortable in the shade. We were only about a 2 minute walk from the flush toilets (there were outhouses closer, but Lily refuses to use those… I can’t say I blame her!) There was also a great little park right by the washrooms that the girls enjoyed playing at a few times. Once when I was there with Lily, there was a group of Korean kids playing there too. I don’t think they spoke a lick of English, but Lily insisted they were her new best friends on the playground! It was so cute. I love her friendly spirit.

Reading bedtime stories around the propane fire pit is part of camping with kids! Bedtime stories around the propane fire (there was a fire ban on while we were there)[/caption]

The nights were late, the girls would be up in the tent giggling (or fighting) until 9:30 or 10, but I expected that to happen camping with kids. We brought along some new sand toys (thanks to my Mom!) that they could play with at the beach and in our campsite as well. We brought their Puddle Jumpers that they loved floating around with in the lake. Lily even floated on her back for the first time which is something they said she had to work on in her last set of swimming lessons.

They’re both learning to ride their bikes. Lily has a strider bike and Maggie has training wheels, so we took their bikes along as well. They rode them a bit (Lily more than Maggie). Pete took them for a bike ride one afternoon. About 5 minutes later they came back. The girls were running ahead and there came Pete carrying both bikes! Needless to say, it wasn’t the best bike ride!

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my family camping trips. My Dad used to get 2 weeks off every summer and we’d pack up the tent trailer and head out on the road! Sometimes we went to just one spot for 2 weeks, but usually we’d do a bit of a road trip and spend a night or two at any given campsite. The smell of campfires and lazy days on the beach, those were the best!

My husband grew up in Ontario and his family owned a cottage on a lake. They spent weeks there in the summer. I know he loved it, that cottage holds a special place in his heart. He talks about it often. Needless to say, we really want our girls to have these great memories and experiences. Our dream is to get a tent trailer or travel trailer so we can sleep up off the ground and have somewhere to go if it’s raining that’s a bit more comfortable than a tent. One day…

I learned a lot from my Mom when I was little about getting ready for a camping trip. She was a master packer and she is probably the most organized person I have every known. The organization trait must have skipped me, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to packing! I’ve traveled enough with just a back pack (Mexico, Europe) to get things to fit just right! I’ve also moved enough (Fun fact: between 2003-2013 I moved 8 times- twice across the country) to consider myself a pretty good packer.

So, I’ve compiled an Ultimate Family Camping list of all the things I bring along to go camping. I have a tote that I store things in year round. I have plates, bowls, cutlery and pots and pans dedicated to camping so I don’t have to pack up my everyday stuff. It makes getting ready super easy. I just grab my tote and throw it in the back of the van along with our food and other essentials and we’re on our way (well, it’s never quite that easy, but this takes out a lot of the hassle!) I feel like this list has helped me so much, I want to share it with you all! Click below to get your very own FREE printable PDF of the Ultimate Family Camping Checklist.

Click here for a PDF of my Ultimate Family Camping Checklist
Click here for your PDF

Surviving the First 5 Years of Marriage

My hubby and I just celebrated our 5 year anniversary on July 13th (Friday the 13th this year!) It was so lovely. We (I should say he) got a sitter and made dinner reservations for us at Greek Islands here in Abbotsford. If you are lucky enough to live in the Fraser Valley of BC, you’ve GOT to check out this restaurant! There are 4 locations (2 in Abbotsford, 1 in Chilliwack and 1 in Surrey) The food and service are AMAZING! (I have no affiliation with them, it’s just a great place to eat!)

Most amazing and fun day of my life!!

Anyway, I know 5 years isn’t an eternity, but here are some tips on surviving the first 5 years of marriage!

1- Communicate

Even if it means you’re going to start a fight sometimes. You need to say things to get them off your chest or you will just stew and stew about them. Tell your spouse what you are up to in the next few days. Take the time to just talk. It’s so important to keep open lines of communication. I can tell when my husband and I haven’t seen much of each other in a while (sometimes we go a few days between because of our work schedules) because our communication just isn’t where it should or could be. Which leads to me my next tip!

2- Make time to spend with each other

We try to make it a priority to go out (just the two of us) at least once every 2 months. My brother and sister in law worked out an agreement with us to watch each others kids so we can do this. We babysit their kids and they babysit ours. It’s worked out really well and given us the much needed time to reconnect. The past few weeks have been crazy with Pete and my work schedules. Pete’s been doing a lot of overtime and my teaching is always at night, so we don’t overlap at home much. Even just going out for dinner last night I feel so much more connected to him. We had a chance to talk, just us. It was great!

Wine and dine meal. Make time for each other to survive the first 5 years of marriage

3- Keep the humour

Even though I tease Pete about telling “Bad Dad Jokes” all the time, he still makes me laugh! I love that we can still joke around and I love that we are passing that sense of humour on to our girls. It’s good to not take yourself to seriously sometimes. Life is tough and there is so much that can bog us down, but laughter is so good for the soul!

4- Keep the romance

Sometimes Pete just brings me home flowers or chocolates. I love that. It’s not usually on any specific day, he just does it if he knows I’ve had a rough do or something. I try to leave him little notes here and there, or send him special texts while he is at work to let him know I’m thinking about him. Even in the bedroom, it’s important to keep that spark alive. Some days I am so tired and sex is the last thing on my mind. But after it always makes me feel more connected to Pete again. I’ve challenged myself in the last few months to not say no when he initiates. I know it’s important to him and it’s an important part to a marriage relationship.

Couple about to kiss. Keep the romance alive to survive the first 5 years of marriage

5- Learn to lean on the Lord together

We have been through A LOT in 5 years. We’ve had multiple job changes, including 6 months with neither of us working. An 11 week premature baby and subsequent 69 day hospital stay. We’ve dealt with financial struggles, aging parents, moving to a new city and 2 girls in 14 months. It’s been a little crazy and scary at times. But through it all, we know that God is in charge and we’re learning to trust him each day. This was one of the greatest lessons I learned during our NICU stay (you can read about my thoughts on that here) In the midst of our deepest financial struggles, we had to rely on the Lord to provide for us each and every single day. And He did! I don’t know why it still surprises me when He comes through in the end, He’s been faithful all along after all!

Bible with rings: Learn to lean on God to survive your first 5 years of marriage

I’m no marriage expert, but these are 5 things that I know without a shadow of a doubt makes our relationship stronger. What are somethings you do to keep your marriage alive and growing?

Surviving the First 5 Years of Marriage

Reusable Crochet Water Balloons

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. You can read my full disclosure statement for more information.

It’s finally summer time!!! Not that the weather here has been cooperating lately, but it’s supposed to clear up this week. I love the summer, it’s my favourite season; camping and the smell of campfires, being light out until almost 10pm, warm weather, swimming pools and beaches. I just love it all. And who doesn’t love a good ol’ water balloon fight, am I right?!? We used to have these all the time when I was younger. We’d gather all the kids in our neighbourhood and just have at it! It was a blast!!!

As I’ve gotten older (and more mature of course) I’ve become more aware of environmental issues and the trouble those little pieces of left over water balloons have on our planet. According to Wikipedia water balloons are made of latex which naturally decomposes, however the problem is with the left over pieces being ingested by animals. I’m not some crazy “Save the planet!!” kinda girl, but if I can make one small change to help, I will!

“Dolphins, whales, turtles, and many other marine species, as well as terrestrial animals such as cows, dogs, sheep, tortoises, birds and other animals have all been hurt or killed by balloons. The animal is usually killed from the balloon blocking its digestive tract, leaving them unable to take in any more nutrients. It slowly starves to death. The animals can also become entangled in the balloon and its ribbon making the animal unable to move or eat.”    (https://balloonsblow.org/impacts-on-wildlife-and-environment/

We’ve seen deer, bunnies, coyotes, squirrels and many different types of birds right in our own backyard. I would feel awful if we caused harm to any of these animals (even if it is unintentional).

So, a few months ago I started seeing crochet patterns and blog posts about reusable crochet water balloons. I thought it was such a great idea and totally jumped on the bandwagon. They are so easy to make, I can do a few up in one evening. All you have to do is soak them in water and throw away until you need to “refill.” They last quite a while before you need a re-soak. You can’t play water balloon toss as well with these, but for a water balloon fight they are awesome… and they don’t hurt! I was using a pattern I found on Pinterest, but I didn’t really like it. I hate joining rows when working around (ch 2 join with sl to 2nd ch of last round… blah, blah, blah), I’d much rather just continue working in the round. So I changed the pattern up a bit to make it more enjoyable for me to crochet. I can’t say I can tell much of a difference in how the balloons turn out, I just enjoy the process of making them this way a lot better.

Crochet Water Balloon Pattern

Supplies:

Blanket Yarn (I used Bernat Baby blanket yarn in a different colour, but any kind of blanket yarn will do Blanket yarn absorbs the most water)

10mm (US size N) crochet hook

Stitch marker (I have some of these, but honestly I use a bobby pin most of the time- I always have one of those handy!!)

Or you can search Craftsy for more hooks, tools and notions.

Pattern:

Round 1: 3 dc into Magic Ring

Round 2: 2 dc in each st around (6)

Round 3: 2 dc in each st around (12)

Round 4-5: 1 dc in each st around (12)

Round 6: dc2tog around (6)

Round 7: dc2tog around (3)

Round 8: dc in each st (3)

Round 9: sc in each st (3)

Finish off and weave in ends

If you want to make a larger balloon, you can start with 4 dc in the Magic ring and increase the stitches from there (8 in Rnd 2, 16 in Rnd 3 etc.)

That’s it! Easy Peasy!! I hope you have as much fun making these as I have had! As always, head on over to my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/lilymagsandCo/) if you’d like to purchases these or any of my other crochet creations!!

What are some of your favourite summer time activities besides water balloon fights?!?

30 Fun Facts About Me!!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. You can read my full disclosure statement here.

I’ve been at this blog thing for about a month now! You guys have been a lot of fun so far! Now it’s time for you guys to get to know me a bit more!! For my first 30 days, here are 30 fun facts about me!

  1.  I am the youngest of 4 (2 sisters and 1 brother)
    My siblings and I
  2. I have extremely short pinkie fingers for some reason, they barely come up to the first knuckle on my ring finger (finding gloves is a pain!!!) My sister broke the one on my right hand when I was in grade 6 (we were playing basketball, she grabbed my pinkie, I twisted to get away) so it’s even shorter.
  3. I hate feet… detest them. Keep them far away from me. You know I really love my husband after I had to check out his feet for a medical issue he was having with them. Ewwwwwwwwwww!!
  4. I have sold with 2 Multi-level marketing companies in the past. Steeped Tea Canada and Keep Collective. I’m not much of a sales person, but I enjoyed aspects of each of them. I usually end up spending more than I make though, so not too sure how good of a business plan that is!
    One of my favourite Keep Collective looks
  5. My parents were both conceived in the Netherlands, but only one of them was born there! My Mom’s family immigrated to Canada while my Oma was pregnant with her.
  6. My favourite tea is Earl Grey. I’m a bit of a snob though, I only drink loose leaf tea at home. Tea bags are for emergencies only. There really is a difference to the taste!
  7. My favourite colour to wear is grey (boring, I know)
  8. My favourite colour is green
  9. From 2003-2013 I moved 8 times, I wasn’t in the same place for more than 2 years anywhere
  10. I have traveled to Mexico (twice on Mission trips), the Netherlands, Germany, England, Italy and the Dominican Republic
  11. I love airports… I could spend hours there just watching people
  12. I am a HUGE Vancouver Canucks fan (I was not part of either the 1994 or 2011 riots… those were not fans, they were idiots!) Go Canucks Go!!
  13. I have a 10 year old Yorkie-poo named Winnie. She barks too much and has terrible teeth, but I still love her!
    My puppy Winnie
  14. My oldest daughter’s due date (December 31, 2014) and my youngest daughter’s birth date (January 2, 2016) are only 1 year and 2 days apart (because of premature births, they are actually 14 months apart)
  15. I met my husband online through Plenty of Fish
  16. I read the Bible and believe what it says to be true. Jesus is the Son of God and died on the cross in our place so we can have a relationship with God. He paid our debt (I have this Bible, but in a smaller version. It fits well in my purse and is easy to take anywhere)
  17. I have a total of 22 Aunts and Uncles. That’s my parents immediate siblings, most of them are married too. Some have unfortunately passed on now, but my Mom is from a family of 11 and my Dad from a family of 13
  18. We like camping in the summer. My family gave us a Coleman 6 person Instant Tent for our engagement gift and it has seriously changed camping for us. My memories of camping when I was little involve a lot of arguing about setting up the tent or tent trailer and taking it down at the end. This tent makes it a breeze and I feel like we get to spend a lot more time relaxing and enjoying camping rather than setting up and taking down
  19. Some of my favourite books include My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult, The Kite Runner by Kahled Hosseini and I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  20. I like to read books before they come out as movies. 9 times out of 10, the book is way better
  21. 2 of my closest friends I met when I was 7 years old (we’re now 36)
    My friend Jill-o
    My friend Sandra
  22. Both of my daughters were born prematurely. Lily was born at 29 weeks gestation and Maggie at 36 weeks.
  23. When I was in high school I could eat an entire bag of Bits and Bites by myself. Our youth group leaders used to get one bag for me and another for everyone else to share.
  24. I played basketball and was a high jumper in track and field all through high school. I qualified for the provincials in both sports when I was in grade 11. Unfortunately, the date of the track and field provincials happened to be the same day my second oldest sister got married. I had to miss it.
  25. I have a certificate in Fitness and Exercise Management, a certificate in Biblical Studies and am a Registered Pharmacy Technician. I’ve done a lot of different jobs so far.
  26. I worked at Cultus Lake Water Park for 3 summers as Water Safety staff while I was in school. That was probably one of my favourite jobs ever (the sandal, short and t-shirt tan was horrible though!)
  27. I love crocheting and have a Facebook page connected with my blog for my crocheting! Check it out here. Craftsy has some fantastic online classes if interested in learning about crocheting. You can find them here.
    Crochet Octopus for Preemies
  28. I’ve been robbed twice while working as a Pharmacy Technician (thank goodness for time delayed safes now!)
  29. I consider myself a Daddy’s little girl
  30. I live with anxiety, mostly social, and depression. I have come through a lot and I say I live with it now because I am living again!

So, there you have it! 30 Fun Facts about me!! What are some fun facts about you? Something not everyone knows about you?

Sick Toddlers 101

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Yesterday I had the “fun” job of being Mommy to a sick little girl. I got puked on 4 times, did 3 loads of laundry (there’s another one waiting to be done in the bath tub, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet) and enjoyed some serious snuggles. There is nothing worse than seeing one of your little ones sick. You just want to take all the hurt and grossness on yourself so they can feel better. But, unfortunately it happens and we Mommy’s get to deal with it! So, here we go with Sick Toddler 101! Here are some tips to help get through these not so pleasant times.

My poor little sicko

1. Have your medicine cabinet stocked!! I had to run and take Maggie with me to the drug store yesterday just to pick up a few things. The whole time I was there I was thinking “please, don’t throw up!” Thankfully, she didn’t; but if I had already had those things at home, we wouldn’t have had a problem. Here are some things I like to keep handy.

  • Pedialyte Popsicles: don’t even bother with the liquid. It’s disgusting… I tasted it. It’s like sweetened salt and vinegar water. I don’t blame kids for not drinking it. Stick to the popsicles, I find kids tolerate them a lot better. These are great for keeping them hydrated even while throwing up or having diarrhea.
  • Kids Gravol: I prefer the liquid because I know my kids won’t take anything else. I also don’t mind the side effect of drowsiness, because it helps them sleep.
  • Children’s Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Great for bringing down fevers! We have a history of bleeding disorders in our family, so I tend not to keep (Ibuprofen) Advil products in the house (they act as a blood thinner). My kids love the grape flavour! When Lily was younger, she used to tell me she had ouchy teeth just so she could get some Tylenol!
  • Benadryl: Again, I use the liquid, but either works really. I know this isn’t really for throwing up, but I always keep some on hand just in case of any allergic reaction. My nephew has a severe nut allergy, and you just don’t know what kids are allergic to these days; medication, bee stings… the list goes on. It’s a good thing to have on hand!

2. Lots of toast and saltine crackers! Anything that’s easy on the stomach to eat. My husband decided to give Maggie some KFC chicken for supper last night… she threw it up all over ME about 1/2 an hour later! Stick to bland foods!!

3. Be prepared to be puked on and do lots of laundry. It’s inevitably going to happen. I didn’t even really get dressed yesterday. I knew I’d be thrown up on. Like I said, I did 3 loads of laundry yesterday and another one is waiting to go. It sucks, but it’s only for a short time (hopefully!!)

Laundry, laundry, laundry

4. Bath time: After Maggie threw up all over me one time yesterday afternoon, I just stripped us both down and jumped in the tub. We got all washed up and playing with the toys in the bath was the happiest I saw her all day.

Bath time

5. Netflix and snuggles: They’re tired… when I’m sick I know I just want to veg and watch TV. We generally don’t watch a ton of TV, but when they just want to snuggle I’ll throw on a show for them. My kids personal favourite right now is Paw Patrol!

6. Put a towel over their bed sheet!: I thought I was pretty genius thinking of this one last night! It only took me changing Maggie’s bed 3 times in the middle of the night!! I took a towel and I tucked it in over her bed sheet where she usually has her head. This way, when she threw up, I only had to take the towel off to be washed instead of stripping the whole bed! Genius, right?!?

What are some things you do to survive when you have sick kids?

Typical NICU day~ A day in the life of a NICU Momma

I know everyone’s experience in the NICU is very different, but I wanted to share what a typical day looked like for us. These were the days when Lily didn’t have any specialist appointments or procedures scheduled. We were very thankful to live only about 5 minutes from the hospital she was at so we could get there quickly if needed. I was also able to go home at night and get a somewhat decent sleep (other than getting up every 3 hours to pump! Not fun!!) So, here’s what a day normally looked like:

8-9am ~ Arrive at hospital to be in time for rounds. Some days rounds would take forever, depending where they decided to start on the ward and how many really sick babies there were in the NICU at the time. New babies would also take a bit longer. So some days rounds were right at 9, other days they wouldn’t get to us until the afternoon. I would miss rounds some days, but I really tried my best to be there so I could hear first hand what the plans etc. were for Lily. I liked to be able to talk to the Doctors. They were really good at explaining treatments and care plans to us. The nurses were also great for translating some things into plain English!! (I learned a lot of new medical terminology during our hospital stay! Ask me what Periventricular Leukomalacia is)

 

8am ~ Change Lily’s diaper/take her temp/feed/pump/cuddle time!! I’d cuddle with Lily for as long as possible. Usually a few hours. This was my happy place <3

Snuggling my little princess

11am ~ Repeat!

12pm ~ Lunch time. I’d go have lunch at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Surrey Memorial Hospital most days. That place was a God send!! It was so nice to chat with other parents who were there. We could all relate to what the other families were going through! It was a nice little “break” from the hospital. I’ve been so blessed to have maintained friendships with some of the parents I met there.

1pm ~ Run home to walk the dog. Do a few things at home, mostly getting the nursery ready! Or shop for Christmas presents (Lily was born in October, but in the hospital until December ~ here’s her story) The odd day I’d get in a nap, but that didn’t happen often. I would usually miss the 2pm feeding time for Lily, but the nurses would always take care of that. They either did the tube feed when she still had her NG (nasogastric- tube from nose to stomach) tube in or give her a bottle when she was able to take oral feeds. Even when I started breast feeding, Lily would take a bottle, so that was kind of nice. Especially when we got home and my husband could take some feeds!

3pm ~ Hubby, Pete, would get home from work and shower quickly.

4pm ~ We’d usually get back to the hospital around 4pm. Pete would often get his cuddle time in then. He worked super early, so he found if he waited until after supper to have his cuddles, he’d be so tired he didn’t enjoy it as much.

5pm ~ Change Lily’s diaper/take her temp/feed/pump. Pete would go to Ronald McDonald house and get our dinner ready. I am so thankful for a husband who cooks and so grateful for all the people who provided us with meals while Lily was in the hospital. We had a steady stream of meals from friends, family and our church. It was so great to have one less thing to think of.

6pm ~ Eat dinner. We’d usually try to be back in Lily’s room around 7pm

8pm ~ Change Lily’s diaper/take her temp/feed/pump. Quite often I would cuddle Lily again for a while.

9pm ~ Head for home. 4am wake up comes early for Pete!

So, I was usually at the hospital for over 12 hours. Once Lily started breast feeding on demand I stayed overnight in her room at the hospital (all the rooms in our NICU were private), there was a couch that pulled out into a bed. It was actually decently comfortable too! I did that for probably the last 3 weeks before she came home.

I thought that being in the hospital I would have all this free time, like I’d be able to crochet and read. People would bring me magazines, but I hardly got around to touching them. Seriously, living on a 3 hour feeding schedule, plus having to pump after each feed, I had very little free time! A whole feeding/pumping session would take over an hour. Then we had to do it again 2 hours later! I got so used to this schedule, it’s like I did it in my sleep some days (and I probably did some days I was so tired!)

Octopuses for Preemies

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We all know skin to skin, the smell and sound of mommy and even white noise like a heart beat can make baby feel safer once they reach the outside world. Recently, they have done research that discovered that tentacles of crochet octopuses for preemies made babies feel safer as well. They reminded the baby of the umbilical cord they played with in the womb. A group in Denmark, Spruttegruppen, started a group that started making these octopuses and sending them to Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU’s) all over their country.

Their idea has spread! There are approximately 31 countries participating in this amazing cause now. When these octopuses are donated to NICU’s, it’s highly recommended to go to the Facebook group for that country to ensure the octopus is made up to standard. These are sick little babies after all, so some care and precaution definitely needs to be taken. I know when Lily was in the NICU I didn’t want to put anything in her bed with her, so if I was going to, I’d want to know if was safe first! (you can read about Lily’s story here)

Here’s a list of all the Octopus for a Preemie project countries and their websites. The pattern is actually really easy. I can usually make one in a couple hours (I like to crochet while watching hockey with my husband and I can finish one in a game and a half!)

This little guy went to a good friend’s baby

I love crocheting, so I started making these little guys for friends and family who were having little ones. Then I started getting orders from people! I’ve donated to babies in the NICU, and I’ve been able to sell them too. They aren’t just great for preemies, they’re good for any newborn and toddlers love them as well. I made 2 for my daughters for their Easter baskets and they were so excited! You can take a look at my Facebook page LilyMags & Co for more information.

love,

Caroline

 

You can find more similar patters here at Craftsy.

Getting through a NICU stay

Being in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) is hard, it’s a roller coaster. No one’s birth plan involves spending extra days or weeks in the hospital. You expect to have a healthy baby and go home. Well, it doesn’t always go that way. Here’s a verse from the Bible and a quote I found helpful during our stay in the hospital with Lily.

Proverbs 16:9 NASB

We had a birth plan and it did not go that way. We can make all the best laid out plans in the world, but at the end of the day, it’s the Lord that directs our steps. It may not be the steps we expected or wanted to take, but He walks through with us every single step of the way. I would wish the NICU on no one, but we did see a miracle or two happen while we were there and it’s a privilege to have experienced that and I wouldn’t change it for anything!

This is a line from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Nights Dream” (Act 3 Scene 2) This is so true of my sweet little girl. She was so little! (Read her story here) She was only 2lbs 3oz when she was born. Her diapers were the size of a small women’s maxi pad! I have one still, I should post a picture of it sometime. But she fought, and she fought and she fought. She overcame so many things in our time there. How this little girl could be so feisty and full of fight was incredible to me every single day. I still marvel at it! This quote was a part of my daily mantra. I have it on her birth plaque and any time I find a shirt that has this quote on it, I buy it for her!!

If you or someone you know if going through a tough hospital stay right now, leave me a comment or contact me by email. It’s so hard, but there are others who have been there. Connecting with others at the hospital in the same situation and with others who had been there before was HUGE for me as well. You don’t have to do this alone, you  shouldn’t do this alone!

 

     love,

       Caroline

What is Preeclampsia?

I learned something new today… yesterday was World Preeclampsia Awareness Day! I wish I had known about it yesterday. This is a cause very dear to my heart and life. Both of my older sisters had preeclampsia in their pregnancies. My nieces were born about 4 weeks early because of it. I knew I was at a high risk, and was closely monitored throughout my pregnancies. I developed it in my first pregnancy at 29 weeks and had to give birth to my daughter via c-section that night as we were both in serious danger (you can read Lily’s amazing story here). My second pregnancy we made it to 35 weeks before running into problems again!

SO, WHAT IS PREECLAMPSIA?

According to the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada website (http://www.preeclampsiacanada.ca/) preeclampsia is:

“a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. It is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.

Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or middle to late pregnancy) and up to six weeks postpartum (after delivery), though in rare cases it can occur earlier than 20 weeks. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia.”

I was one of the ones who had few symptoms. I had noticed some spots of light in my vision, but it wasn’t too bad. Knowing I had an appointment with my doctor coming up, I just waited. When we look at pictures from just before Lily’s birth, you can definitely see that I’m looking a little swollen. But that’s not something you really notice looking at yourself in the mirror day to day. Obviously, looking back, I probably should have gone in earlier, but hindsight is 20/20, right? Thankfully we have our 2 healthy, happy girls.

Lily in the NICU

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • High blood pressure
  • Highs levels of protein in the urine
  • Very severe headaches
  • Blurring in vision (or any alteration)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Upper right side abdominal pain
  • Sudden onset of swelling or weight gain
  • Less urination than usual

Here is a great graphic from the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada that goes into more detail.

If you want more information, or have any questions, please feel free to send me a message or drop a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as I can. There is a lot more information on the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada (http://www.preeclampsiacanada.ca/). You can also donate to some of their life-saving research.

Here is their mandate:

  • Educate, support and empower women – and their friends and loved ones – on the warning signs, long term consequences and medical understanding, including their need to get timely care.
  • Increase public awareness.
  • Fund research in Canada.

Here is what they do with monies donated (You can donate directly through this link)

 

My Preemie Miracle

This is the incredible story of my preemie miracle (I may or may not be a little biased!)

Not today, God, please not today!

This is what was going through my head on the afternoon of October 16, 2014. Here I was lying in a hospital bed at Langley Memorial hospital hooked up to a fetal heart monitor, blood pressure monitor, IV and a catheter.

I had gone in for a scheduled prenatal visit with my Doctor that morning at 10:30am. But something wasn’t right. The nurse took my blood pressure twice and told me it was a little on the high side so she’d get the doctor to take another look at it. When he came in, he took my blood pressure again; it was high and they’d found protein in my urine. He sent me to the hospital for further tests. It didn’t really worry me too much.

So, I phoned my husband and told him not to come, it was just a couple tests and I’d call him if anything changed. They got me in pretty quickly and hooked me up to all the monitors. The OB came in and started telling me about preeclampsia and premature birth. We were only 29 weeks pregnant! It was completely shocking! I called my husband and said “You need to come now.”

By this time, magnesium was coursing through my veins to prevent having a seizure (risk of preeclampsia). They had started me on blood pressure medication to try getting my blood pressure down and gave me a steroid shot to help develop baby’s lungs in case she needed to be delivered that day.  A transfer was being set up for me as Langley was not equipped to handle such a premature birth.

At about 3:00pm that afternoon, they arranged a transfer by ambulance to Surrey Memorial hospital who had a bigger NICU. I saw countless doctors and was under 24 hour surveillance by a nurse to make sure I didn’t seize. We had no idea what to expect. What’s the survival rate of a 29 week baby? Does she have to be born today? Finally, a Neonatologist come in to talk to us. She had one of her own kids at 30 weeks. It was so comforting to hear her tell us about how her daughter is thriving now. She told us there was about a 95% survival rate at 29 weeks. To have her talk to us as both a doctor and a mother who had been through exactly what we were going through was a big relief. Our baby was going to be born that night.

They prepped me for surgery and wheeled me into the operating room. I don’t even know how many nurses and doctors were in the room. Pete and I knew next to nothing about C-sections. It was one of the scariest moments of our lives. The epidural terrified me, but the anesthesiologist told me it wasn’t much worse than getting an IV. He lied, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. My husband was escorted into the room as I started to lose feeling in my body. Having a C-section is the most surreal experience! I felt pulling and the doctors moving things around, but no pain. I also felt the most unconditional love I have ever felt in my life. Here I was, literally giving myself up for my daughter. There is no greater love than that!

See my post 5 tips for C-section Momma’s for some great recovery tips after having a C-section.

At 11:38pm our beautiful baby girl, Lily Ann Hultgren, came into this world and whisked away with the neonatal team. She weighed only 991 grams (2lbs 3oz). My husband went with her to the NICU; I wouldn’t be able to meet her until 24 hours later as I was still on the Magnesium and needed to be under a nurse’s watchful eye. I finally met Lily the next night around midnight. She was so tiny and precious; I was scared to even touch her, I thought for sure she would break!

They warned us the NICU would be a roller coaster ride and they were right! We had many ups; first time holding her, first bath, first experience breast feeding. And we had some pretty big downs as well. One night Lily stopped breathing completely and all the doctors and nurses were called in to come help her. Again, a true miracle she survived. They still don’t know what happened.

Looking back, none of this could have been done without the support of all the staff in the NICU. They are truly miracle workers!

We took Lily home on Christmas Eve 2014 after 69 long days in hospital. It was the best Christmas present we could have ever received, truly my preemie miracle!

My beautiful preemie miracle is now 3 1/2 years old!
My beautiful baby girl now at 3 1/2 years old

Boats & Anchors

I have a cousin who has been going through what I imagine would be hell this past year. She lost her youngest daughter in a car accident last summer. Her grief is palpable, but her faith is inspiring. She has written through all her range of feelings and emotions and it has been incredible to read. I haven’t asked her permission to share her blog post, so I’ll be keeping her anonymous. However, what she wrote the other day was truly amazing. It was based on the verse from the Bible Hebrews 6:19.

From https://www.bibleref.com/Hebrews/6/Hebrews-6-19.html:

“Just as the anchor which holds a ship is not in the exact same place as the ship itself, our hope is not in this world. Rather, it is in a holier, greater place. Since Christ has gone ahead of us, in order to secure our salvation, we should have absolute confidence.”

I’m thankful my anchor is not in the same place as my boat. My boat gets tossed and turned by the waves of this world. But my anchor is secure with Christ in heaven.

Love,

Caroline

5 Tips for C-Section Momma’s

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Looking for some tips for c-section Momma’s? Whether it’s for yourself or someone you know, I have 5 tips for c-section Momma’s to help you heal quickly and healthy in order to be the best Mom for your baby.

A very good childhood friend of mine had her first baby a few days ago. She ended up having a c-section after 3 courageous hours of pushing. It took me right back to the days of my 2 c-sections. I remember laying there on the table, not knowing quite what to expect, scared and excited all at the same time. My 2 cesareans were very different, the first was an emergency at 29 weeks and the second was much more expected as we had one scheduled (she still decided to come 3 weeks early though!)

Anyway… here are my 5 Tips for C-section Momma’s:

Top 5 Tips for C-section Momma's

1.Listen to your body/Don’t push it: 

As I said, my 2 c-sections were very different and I recovered from them very differently. Lily was hard and it took me a long time to recover. The whole thing was traumatizing as she was 11 weeks early and we didn’t know what would happen with our baby, if she’d be healthy or even survive. I really had to take my time recovering, I was in a lot of pain and my hubby pushed me around the hospital in a wheelchair for probably 10 days after. With Maggie, I bounced back WAY quicker. I thought it would be harder as I had a toddler to care for too now, and we have a billion stairs in our house, but I just listened to the way my body felt and I was lifting my toddler within a couple days of having my second.

2. Ask for and Accept help:

This is a hard one for most of us. We all want to be considered super-mom even though we’ve just had a baby and gone through major surgery. I had to swallow some of that pride and accept a lot of help, especially when Lily was in the hospital. I couldn’t drive for a few weeks, so I had to ask for rides to the hospital. My Aunt and my Mom cleaned my apartment before we were bringing Lily home. Our church community and friends brought us meals to eat at the hospital (we were beyond blessed by the Ronald McDonald family room at Surrey Memorial Hospital). My husband was actually between jobs when Maggie was born, so he helped A LOT. He pretty much did everything with Lily the first few weeks, so I could concentrate on taking care of Maggie. Don’t let your pride get in the way!

3. Keep your Follow-up Appointments

I know… you’ve had your baby and everything is done now (besides raising him or her to become a decent adult!) Wrong! There’s a reason follow up appointments are scheduled, especially after c-sections. There’s the risk of infection at the incision site. And did you know there’s something called postpartum preeclampsia (I had preeclampsia before Lily was born which is why she came so early… read her story here ) With preeclampsia, your blood pressure goes way up and your organs, starting with your kidneys start shutting down (you can read more about it in my post What is Preeclampsia). You are at a real risk of seizures. I’m not trying to scare anyone, but if you have that you probably would want to get it checked out.

4. SLEEP

You know what they say… sleep when the baby is sleeping. Well, do it! Our body does a lot of healing when we’re at rest. If you have other kids running around, ask for someone to watch them for a while so you can rest (see #2). Again, I was so lucky Pete was home after we had Maggie. I pretty much slept whenever she did (she was a horrible sleeper, so I took whatever I could get!)

In the NICU with Lily, the nurses encouraged me to go home and sleep in my own bed. Leaving your baby behind at the hospital is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and I wanted so badly to stay with her 24/7, but they were right. Even though I was up at home every 3 hours to pump, I got a much better sleep in my own bed then I would have on the couch in Lily’s hospital room.

5. Enjoy all the Newborn Snuggles

Seriously, who doesn’t love the smell of newborns?!? They are just so tiny and yummy! The only reason I want another baby is to smell that smell and have all the snuggles! No more babies here though… I just have to steal other people’s! The NICU encourages lots of skin to skin with your baby as studies have shown it to help improve the outcomes of premature babies. I don’t know if there are any studies on it, but I think it helps the Momma heal as well! It’s good for your soul.

I just want to end off by saying, you are no less of a mother because you had a C-section. I know there is a grieving period when your birthing plan does not go as planned (does it ever?) but, you did what was best for your baby and that is what being a Momma is all about. You sacrificed your body to be cut open for your little one to be born. How does that make you any less or a warrior mom?

Love,

  Caroline