Where Does Our Food Come From? A Family Lesson While Making a Natural Heating/Cooling Bag DIY

This blog post was created with Hellmann’s® and JONES Voice

 I am ready to admit it. For a long time, especially while I was pregnant with our twins and the year following, I was just trying to survive. I would race out to the grocery store whenever I had a minute, especially just after my husband, Mike would get home from work, so I could zip out kid-free and just get it done. I would grab loads of produce and then grab our family’s staples; foods I knew were easy to cook and everyone would actually eat.

A lot of the time when I am stocking our kitchen in such a rush, I don’t really think too much about what the ingredients are in our foods. I am big on fresh produce, but as far as everything goes, I just opt for what is easy and has some nutritional value.

I know so many moms who are hyper aware of ingredients and base their decisions while shopping on their vast knowledge. There are times when I feel a bit guilty and embarrassed that I don’t know more about our food.

Our oldest kids; Holden who is seven-years-old, and Beau who is five-years-old, have hit this extremely inquisitive age. They want to know how everything works and how everything is made. This means that I need to start learning the answers to all of their questions quick, and sometimes just jumping on Google doesn’t always cut it.

I have started including them in activities around our house, like gardening, and picking up magazines and books that have loads of photos and information on food, for them to pour through and understand what we eat a little better.

Recently I had the opportunity to watch a live stream on Facebook as three families took a tour of a Hellmann’s Blue Ribbon canola farm in Saskatchewan, Canada. The live event was very informative and in the end I felt relieved learning about the simple ingredients: egg, canola oil and vinegar, that go into the perfect jar of mayonnaise.

I decided to take this little lesson one step further with our kids, and create an everyday item using foods from a farm: a seed/grain heating/cooling bag. To get started, I cut out two pieces of fabric into rectangles, eyeballing what size would sit comfortably on my shoulder. I then sewed three sides together, leaving a small opening on one side.

Before filling the bag with grains and seeds, I sat down with Holden and Beau handing them each a cup. One contained oats and the other contained flax seeds. I then asked them where these grains and seeds come from. Beau proudly stated, “an egg,” and Holden thought he was correcting her by answering “heaven.” Oh boy! I had my work cut out for me.Hellmanns

As Holden and Beau each poured their cup into the bag, I explained how these were each grown on a farm and talked about the simple ingredients in many of their favourite foods.Hellmanns 2

Hellmanns 3


After Holden and Beau finished pouring their cups into the bag, and I finished answering many questions about farming, we sewed it up and each took turns trying out the heating pad, which worked really well! I have since enjoyed our little educational and practical DIY project more than anyone.


Although I still feel like I have a long way to go on educating my family and myself more about what is in our foods, I think this is a great start.

You can learn more about Hellmann’s mayonnaise and the simple ingredients that go into making a tasty jar here…

Check out more about Hellmann’s and “Where does your food come from” by visiting Hellmann’s on Facebook.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Hellmann’s. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Hellmann’s.

Learning To Love Where We Are And Living Life Without Looking At Real Estate

toddler flyingChange is exciting. It is also somewhat addictive.

Ever since I was a child, I was always chasing after the next big thing. I always wanted something new, and I could barely enjoy a holiday, or a special outing because my mind was already focused on the next event.

Gradually I became well known in my family as someone who was always pestering, restless and thrived on excitement and drama.

As an adult this need for the next thing right now transformed into having to get married, get a puppy, build a house and have kids as fast as possible. My husband, Mike was always the voice of reason and made sure we always waited until we were ready.

But as the years have passed, I have watched Mike become restless too. We each were constantly perusing real estate online and in person, despite now living in our second home that is definitely large enough for us, with a great school nearby and being surrounded by fantastic neighbours. Sure it’s very suburban, and a bit cookie-cutter, but it’s home.

Then suddenly, while somewhat settled with our two kids, our house and our careers, the universe decided to throw us a couple of curveballs.

First it was finding out we were adding twins to our family, and the ripple effect that had on us, including my difficult pregnancy, preparation, having to stop working and then life with two more people.

Then another wave hit. My little blog, which at the time was an outlet, almost therapy for me, hit a viral nerve. Although exciting, this sudden catapult into success knocked the wind out of us for a few months.

mom and twins

These two life events was enough to shake me to the core and change my outlook. I now crave structure, routine, calmness and familiarity. Something that I had never wanted before.

I was barely finding my footing, and I could see that Mike’s restlessness about where we lived, and wanting to move further into the country wasn’t stopping. So we started to seriously look, and although it was at the very edge of our price-range, we decided to go for it.

kids in backyardHolden and Beau exploring the backyard of the first home we almost bought

Suddenly, at the eleventh hour, a massive, unexpected red-flag went up and we pulled the plug. Although devastated, confused and a little heartbroken, we dusted ourselves off and tried again.

This time we found a less expensive fixer-upper that we truly fell in love with. We diligently started the process once again, and suddenly, once again an unexpected bomb dropped which sent up another red flag.


The second home we almost bought

Devastated and deciding what to do, we sat on the floor of my office going back and forth, trying to make the best decision for our family. I was exhausted, stressed beyond belief and was finally the one to say “no.” So, we backed away once again.

After that second attempt I made it clear that I was done going through the emotional rollercoaster of looking elsewhere and wanted to stay put and make our current home more custom to our taste.

Financially we just couldn’t get what we wanted, or what would make it actually worth it to move. Plus the upheaval alone at this point with our kids ages and our careers, could bury us.

But our opinions drastically differed. In fact, in the nine years that Mike and I have been married, and the fifteen plus years we have been together, we have never disagreed on anything, even close to this magnitude.

I loved our home, and so badly wished that Mike could feel the same.

For a long time this disagreement created a massive divide in our relationship. I would try to talk it through with him and attempt to heal the wound. But Mike’s regret, frustration and even anger (partially towards the realtor that misguided us), was too great, and he finally let me know that it had to be an unspoken topic for a long time, for any kind of healing to take place.

So we lived. We healed what we could and slowly the divide closed, and the anger left Mike.

There are days that I will occasionally peek to see what is out there, but I quickly snap out of it and remind myself how much I love this house we are in, and with a little work each week, it is becoming what we want.

There will even be days that I see Mike emerge himself in a project and actually seem in love with our house too, but then the reminder will come back when I hear him talk to someone about how he likes our house, but would still love to move one day.

I too think that maybe one day we will move. But when I think about it, I am immediately filled with sadness. The thought of leaving this home, this neighbourhood and this school almost breaks my heart.

Recently, I heard someone talk about how so many of us live life going after the next thing. But what if the X that marks the spot is right under our feet?

Learning to happily co-exsist knowing that there is something that we do not agree on has probably been the biggest hurdle in our marriage. In a perfect world Mike and I would happily say “yes dear” to each other’s ideas and opinions and skip hand-in-hand into the sunset.

But let’s face it, that’s not reality and it is okay that we don’t agree. In fact, I am sure that there are many marriages that disagree on everything from religion to politics and somehow, someway they learn to happily co-exist.

So, for now we are going to continue getting our hands dirty and plant our garden, add shiplap to an accent wall, hang our family’s photos and allow our current home, that is constantly filled with laughter and love be our X that marks the spot.

Four kids

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Having Four Kids Is Not As Terrible As You Might Think

Four Kids - Nesting StoryA couple weeks ago I was having dinner with a couple other moms, each with one, or two kids. We got on the topic of me having four kids and how I possibly manage. I smiled and said, “honestly, it’s not that hard.” Which is the truth.

One of my friends thanked me for not going on about how horrible having many kids is. She told me that a mom of three she knows, tends to constantly rant about how hard she has it and is always negative.

Now, let me get a couple things out of the way first. I definitely have my very bad days. Days when I turn to Mike and half jokingly say, “why did we have so many kids?” Nothing frustrates me more than when I read an article, or receive a comment scolding me, as a parent, for complaining about anything motherhood related. We are all allowed to complain, vent and be real. This is definitely not a four kids is easy, so stop complaining post, because I hate those.

From when I was a child, I always wanted four kids. I was one of four, and it was all I knew. But after having two kids, I was really considering being done. We had hit this wonderful sweet spot, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to rock the boat.

It was Mike who encouraged me to not “close up shop” just yet and to take a break instead. We did wait, and after a while I knew I wanted at least one more. We just happened to get two for one, (twins), and jump from two to four kids.


I have never experienced having three kids, so I don’t know what it feels like, but I can tell you with all honesty, in my case, four has been easier than one, and four has also been easier than two.

This may sound crazy, but it is true, and here’s why. With one kid, I obsessed. No, wait, we obsessed, as a team. Holden was under a microscope. We were under our own microscope. When I had a parenting mis-step, (which is pretty much everyday, because this is real life), I would torture myself about it.

When Beau came along, it was good and bad. The good part was the quiet lulls were gone, which meant no more time for obsessing. The bad part was the quiet lulls were gone, which meant I felt like I was on a hamster wheel all. the. time.

When you hit the magic number four, something happens. You cut the crap and cut out the noise. I suddenly became this extremely decisive and efficient mother. For some reason, I pack less for four kids, than I did with one. Maybe because I couldn’t be bothered and would rather, MacGyver a diaper if I ran out, (like we recently did out of napkins), instead of spending my precious time meticulously packing a diaper bag.

With four kids I don’t set myself up for failure anymore. First, you stop getting invited to as many people’s houses, because, really? Who wants someone with a busload of kids to go to their house? I am honestly okay with this, because I would probably turn down most invitations anyways. It’s not worth the stress.

I can remember countless times going out with one or two kids, trying to be a hero, and leaving with a toddler who had missed their nap and me shaking with fried nerves. Nope, I couldn’t bother.

The great thing is, I don’t have to rely on playdates anymore for my kids to socialize. They are like a litter of puppies. Despite having many rooms in our home, nine times out of ten, they choose to play within a five foot radius from each other.

twins and kids playing

We now get together with with other families on neutral territory, or in our home. It makes life so much easier for everyone involved.

When you have four, the kids sense it. They sense that they aren’t going to be waited on hand and foot. Occasionally they will test the waters, but quickly realized that their demands won’t work in our house.

This take it, or leave it attitude was something that even I had to get used to. But once I did, it was wonderful and much less work.

I do long for the days that our twins are just a little older and more independent, so that I can spend a few hours decluttering without having to watch them like a hawk. But I know that day will come. Until then I will enjoy this phase, and keep shoving our clutter into closets and our basement.


The bottom line is this, having many kids isn’t as horrible as you may think. It’s different, but it is definitely doable, and dare I say, even enjoyable.

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Not Letting Illness Knock Down Our House Of Cards

Yesterday I got the call. We were due, really. It had been two weeks, and of course, like clockwork, it was time for our kids to get sick.IMG_3176

Mia grabbed their bunnies and blankies so that she could make a bed. Mia loves to parent Everly, it melts my heart.

Everly’s daycare called letting me know that she hadn’t been acting like herself and she had a mild fever. I took a deep breath, dropped what work I had planned for the day and raced to pick her up.


Although Illness is very common when you have young kids, it has probably been the biggest source of tension in our home.For a long time, whenever a crying, sick child would wake us, or hours would pass and no matter how much consoling we did, and we couldn’t seem to soothe our child, those moments would make us snap.

Mike and I are pretty great parents, in my opinion, but it somehow seems like to too much when our kids are sick.

It is an unpredictable, messy, pressure cooker situation. A wrench into our world. A situation that we can try to help, but cannot fully control. It pains us to see them in pain. Mix that feeling of helplessness with exhaustion and you have a recipe for bickering.

We are working on this, and I am seeing progress. This morning we walked into a sick bedroom. We both stayed calm and knew what task was who’s. No freaking out. Just action, communication and making decisions as a team for our sick child.


That kind of teamwork is a big deal for us. We are growing, both as parents and as a couple.

We know that a couple of events that occurred when we first became parents, have made us hyper sensitive to any time our kids are ill, or struggling.

You can read ‘My Traumatic Start To Motherhood And How It Changed Me As A Parent’ here.

For a long time we couldn’t grasp a healthy perspective when our kids got sick. We would turn on each other and release our worry, stress and helplessness on the other person.

But with time, experience, patience and communication, we are handling these common real-life parenting experiences with strength and calm.

We are no longer letting illness allow our world to come crashing down. Heaven forbid, if we are ever confronted with a real crisis, we will now be able to face it as a team.

My Kids Broke Me. How I Am Finding The Joy In Motherhood… Again

Four kidsI walked around my home trying to pull together outfits for all four of my kids, so that my husband, Mike could take them out, to give me a much needed break. The screams from bored toddlers and cries from my 5-year-old, who was already in a funk, but her big brother decided to go poke the bear, echoed through our house.

I was done. I could feel my chest tighten and hot tears started streaming down my cheeks.

As I tried to compose myself while quickly wiping away my tears, I couldn’t hide my sniffles as I walked down the stairs. Mike overhead this telltale sound and said, “what’s wrong?” “Everything.” I replied as the sobs started to exit my body. “I feel like I am failing. If I am being really honest, I am not enjoying motherhood lately.” Instinctively, he thought he was supposed to ramp up the discipline. He stormed around the house trying to create order, but really, he was only adding an extra level of tension.

Our kids started to mirror our tension and fights broke out in front of us.

I turned to Mike and said, “the balance is off right now. I know it’s me. I know that my lack of joy and level of impatience is creating a toxic environment that everyone is feeding off of. We need to problem solve this in a real way.” I could see understanding wash across his face.

Before he walked out the door, he looked back at me, as a fresh tears started to appear on my face. “I am failing as a mom,” I sobbed. “No you aren’t. In fact it’s the opposite. You care so much. We will fix this, like we always do.”

While Mike and the kids were out, it dawned on me. I was waiting for spontaneous moments of joy with my kids to come to me. Why was I not initiating activities and outings that I would also find enjoyable and fun?

Once they arrived home, I packed up our 5-year-old, Beau, and the two of us went out to get her hair cut, have a little one-on-one time, and chat about each of us listening to each other better.

Then later that day, we all sat down, as a family and enjoyed colouring together. I love being creative, so this was bliss for me.

By the time we packed up the art supplies, not only were the kids’ emotional buckets filled, but so was mine. Something that in the past, I wasn’t doing enough of.

Of course, the craziness resumed, and fights still break out, but just having those moments of joy with my kids, makes all of motherhood a lot more enjoyable.

Watch our day as it unfolded, starting with my mini meltdown…

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