“Mommy, what if baby doesn’t come out in October?”

We were in the car, on our way to a routine pregnancy check-up when I heard the little voice pipe up from the backseat. At nearly 35 weeks pregnant, we’d been talking a lot about the baby that was due to arrive in a month’s time. My son had accompanied me to each prenatal appointment, listening to the heartbeat and watching my belly grow. With his head pressed up tightly against my stomach, he’d talk and whisper to his little sister, kiss her good-night, and eagerly count down the time until her arrival. There was no doubt that our entire family was eagerly awaiting the birth of this little one.

From the driver’s seat of the car, I smiled. We’d had a conversation about birthdays earlier and I assumed that this was where his question was coming from. I snuck a glance at him through the rear-view mirror, noting the thoughtful expression on his face. “Baby will definitely come by October,” I replied cheerfully. “The doctors won’t let her stay in longer than that.”

“Unless she goes to be with Jesus first.”

My heart skipped a beat.

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Hey Everyone!

I’m writing this from my favourite spot on the couch and marveling at the pink blossoms and bright green leaves on the tree outside my window. Spring is finally here and it feels so good! The sun is shining, there’s a fresh pedicure on my toes, my three-year-old is napping, and my second trimester belly is feeling the tickles of a wee babe growing inside. I’m really excited about what the next few months to a year holds for our family, and I wanted to share one of those things with you now. 

If you’ve been following along on MommyMannegren, you’ll know that I’ve been blogging since December 2014. The blog has evolved a lot over that time as I’ve narrowed my niche — part of which has been trying to fill a need for faith-based discussions around grief, pregnancy loss, and other difficult motherhood conversations. The past six months have been amazing for this blog in terms of growth and visitors to the site. I’ve had more visitors to my blog since December than I’ve had in the past three years combined and that’s SUPER exciting for me. 

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Last year my son wanted to be a thermometer for Halloween.

Yep, you read that correctly: a thermometer.

He was two-years-old and wanted his Halloween costume to be the most difficult word in his (admittedly limited) vocabulary. My dreams for easy, store-bought costumes quickly evaporated into a haze of pipe cleaners, felt, and the ragged stitches of a woman who never took Home Ec.

Fast forward to September of this year, and I tentatively ask my son what he wants to be for Halloween. I’m hoping for something more like Spider Man and less like “a portable TV” (his suggestion for my husband) or “a rolling pin” (his suggestion for our house).

I breathe out a sigh of relief when he says, “I want to be an apple tree!”

Apple tree. Phew. I can do that.

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When I was a pre-teen, one of my all-time favourite slumber party snacks was “Popcorn Cake.” Reminiscent of a “Rice Krispie Bar” this dessert is quick to make and fun to eat. What kid could want anything more than some popcorn, melted marshmallows, and gummy candies?

And given my love for all things popcorn, this cake was also the perfect way to surprise my husband with the news that I would soon be “popping” with our third child!** (Perhaps this accounted for my sudden “craving” for popcorn cake…)

Regardless of what occasion you make it for, this is one treat that is sure to become a family favourite for movie night!

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I’m not really a sporty person – more like a proud bench warmer.

In college, I won my first athletic award for “Most Academic Athlete.” That should tell you where my talent lies – off the field and in the library. I don’t even like watching sports. Excluding a collection of retired Canadian figure skaters, the number of athletes that I could list by name would fit on one hand. I would never pay for tickets to a game or voluntarily sit down and watch TSN or ESPN for fun.

But for a couple weeks every two years, I am the biggest sports fan. There’s a game streaming on my computer in the background, live medal updates blinking on my phone. I can’t get enough of them. For this brief period of time, I actually enjoy sports.

Because despite my usual indifference towards all things athletic, I absolutely love the Olympics.

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To my sweet, little man; my sunshine, my Alistair,

Today you turn two. Just the thought of it evokes all the imaginable cliches about babies growing up too quickly. Because although you still refer to yourself in third person, “baby” has now graduated to “big boy.”

This was a big year for you: learning to walk, beginning to talk. You’re getting bolder as you maneuver the equipment at the playground. You dance and run, tiptoe and sing. If there was a toddler edition of “So You Think You Can Dance,” you would win hands down.

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“CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’VE WON!”

Is there anything better than seeing this subject line pop up in your email inbox? (Along with the knowledge that it’s not a scam – of course!)

For the past year and a half I’ve been sporadically entering online contests. Whenever I have a few moments of free time, I’ll boot up my computer and try to win a free cruise to Antarctica.

The payoff may not always be great but it’s a fun, and best of all, free hobby. From baby gear, to recipe books and crock-pots, cruises and guided tours, cars, electronics, and even cash prizes – there are thousands of online contests available if you know where to look and have a little spare time to enter them.

So before you dive into this new hobby, here are a few tips to get you started:

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Winter is over, the flowers are blooming, and it’s finally starting to heat up! Ushered in alongside this beautiful spring weather comes the annual hunt for outdoor activities. One of the locations on our list of places to visit this year was the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Langley, BC.

This was our family’s first trip to the Zoo. Having heard a few unfavorable reviews tossed about by lower mainland families, we pulled into the zoo parking lot completely unsure of what to expect. Thankfully these rumors seem to be overly exaggerated and in actuality, are the very thing that make up so much of the zoo’s charm.

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Now that the weather is colder and wetter, I’ve been busy searching for indoor activities to do with my 18 month old son. That’s when I came across this easy, mess free activity for little ones with short attention spans – painting in a bag. 

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Our family has been trying to visit the aquarium for months now. On three separate occasions we’ve arrived at Stanley Park and promptly driven home again in order to avoid parking chaos and hordes of swarming tourists. But eventually, our determination to introduce our son to the bubbly world of undersea creatures outweighed our desire to avoid pushy crowds. And so, one overcast October morning, we were delighted to finally find ourselves inside a relatively quiet Vancouver Aquarium.

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October: the time of year when store-bought gourds begin to line the steps of neighbouring homes and fallen maple leaves give a satisfying crunch beneath your boots. It’s the month where we bust out our cozy knit sweaters and foamy lattes to fight against air that’s suddenly grown a little crisper. It’s four weeks of fake cobwebs, clever costumes, and tiny packets of chocolate. It’s also the month of everything Pumpkin.

With pumpkin spice lattes advertised on coffee shop chalkboards, carved pumpkins guarding front doors, and pumpkin smelling hand-soaps in the bathroom, it can be rather difficult to avoid these giant, orange spheres. We can buy them at the grocery store (whole or in pie form) or lug them home from the farmers market. But, for a true October adventure, there’s only one way to find the perfect pumpkin: you have to go to the Pumpkin Patch.

Because seriously, is there anything more “October-y” than a muddy field full of bright, orange pumpkins?

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Dearest interweb, blogosphere, and beyond,

You may have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet over here lately. I promise this neglect is not intentional, simply a byproduct of nasty flu bugs and family emergencies.

Over the past week, we have made three separate hospital trips (one for each of us): twice for dehydration and flu symptoms, and once for a baby who decided to try and back-flip out of mommy’s arms and onto the living room floor.

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