A Kinder Surprise In Italy!

397719_518717761494344_51720000_aAs summer comes to a close I am reflective of the wonderful months that have gone by.  My family was fortunate enough to take a trip to Italy for three weeks.  We had been planning the trip for over a year and all of our extended family and some close friends were able to join us as well.

We had such a great time touring around all of the major cities in Italy like Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre and then we settled into an Italian Villa in Tuscany for the remainder of our trip.  My children are age 10 and 7 and they were amazing on the trip. I was worried that they would get bored viewing church after church and touring around the cities….but, they were rock stars and didn’t complain “hardly” at all!  I guess the copious amounts of gelato that I was feeding them may have helped a little bit.

The summer months in Italy are much hotter than in Canada.  We averaged about 38 degrees our first week, then it “cooled down” to around 30 degrees for the remainder of our time there.  As long as we had cold water to drink we didn’t mind the heat much.  All of us were too distracted by the beauty of the countryside and the delicious food to notice just how hot it really was.

One interesting comment that my daughter made was that there weren’t very many kids around when we went on tours, etc.  I got to thinking about it and she was right.  I can only assume that the Italian locals escape to the coast for their summer holidays to beat the heat and leave touring around the big cities for the summer tourists!!

When you are traveling in a different country with children you always want to make sure that you inject some sort of normalcy to your day.  You want to make sure that you can find some of the foods that they are used to eating and find some folks who speak the same language as you.  This helps kids to feel comfortable in their surroundings.  So, it was funny when we were in Rome and touring around in all the shops I heard my son call my name and he sounded very excited at what he had found.  When I got over to him to see what was so exciting it turns out he had found an Italian Kinder Egg.  It looks exactly like the ones you get in Canada but all the wording was written in Italian.  He asked if he could bring a couple home to his friends so we did.  Interesting that with all the unique things in the store we were in he found the one item that made him remember home….but, with an Italian twist.   Now, I just needed to determine how I was going to get the Kinder Eggs home in my suitcase without them melting all over my souvenirs!

For Some Exciting Kinder News:

Share your summer smiles with KINDER® in their new “photo-strip” app starting August 17th on Kinder® Canada’s Facebook Page – it’s a fun and interactive way for parents to capture and share moments of joy in a playful way. Once you’re a KINDER® Fan, it’s just a few simple steps:

Step 1: Fan KINDER® on Facebook

Step 2: Start your photo-strip

Step 3: Upload your photos

Step 4: Choose a fancy KINDER® frame

Step 5: Choose a filter (make yourself look silly)

Step 6: Save & share

 

Add #kindersmiles to any photo-strip and you can see your smile in the app’s gallery view.

 

“Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own”

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What is Every Woman?

It’s Spring!  Take the time to tap into the BEST of you! We all know what it feels like to get lost in our laundry list of activities, forgetting to make time for our personal health & wellness, and sometimes even forgetting to breathe! With the start of Spring here is an event and opportunity that will both nourish and inspire you through the seasons ahead.  

every womanWhat is every WOMAN?  You want to be your best self! You like to be active. You are not quite as active as you like. You like to try new things. You love nature. You love feeling great. You love being healthy. every WOMAN is an opportunity to try activities you’ve never tried, or things you haven’t done since you were a kid. every WOMAN Events connect, support and motivate women of all ages, shapes & sizes to be active through fitness and wellness workshops. Because you want to. Humour recommended. Movement guaranteed. Over 80 fabulous workshops & events to choose from!

 

Details:every WOMAN – Whistler May 30 – June 1 Nita Lake Lodge.

Early Bird Registration until April 15 is $249 for a full weekend of events. After April 15: $299 . Visit the every WOMAN site for a complete listing of workshops to participate in.

As a returning sponsor and long time workshop facilitator

brita_closeup_lo_resBrita McLaughlin (Owner: Brita McLaughlin Coaching & Associates) has definitely drunk the     koolaid and encourages all women to take time for themselves this spring to join her at this event: “I just LOVE  this event – I’ve tried so many new forms of activities that I never would have otherwise… everything from      laughter Yoga to Groove FIT, Belly dancing & hoola hooping to red carpet walking and I’ve made many  great friends  along the way…. It is such a unique opportunity to be able to get a taste of activities you have never tried before.”

 

Brita will be facilitating two wellness workshops at every WOMAN this year including:  

Access Your Best Self – Live a Life You Love ( All about building rock solid confidence)

New!! REVVVV Up Your Relationships!( Improve your Relationships with whoever you want!)

Brita McLaughlin & every Woman invite you to ENTER the

Inspire Your SELF Sweepstakes! You can WIN up to $1500 prizes – including $700+ golf package at Big Sky Golf & Country Club!

 

bmc_logo_reverse_WEB_tagline_003Brita McLaughlin Coaching: A Certified Life Coach & Relationship Coach, Facilitator and Speaker, Brita has enjoyed supporting hundreds of clients to extraordinary breakthroughs throughout North America for over 14 years now.  Brita is particularly passionate about supporting women to raise the bar for themselves. She is also a Relationship Mastery Expert and enjoys coaching personal & professional partnerships; families & teams to wellness. Brita is dedicated to supporting her clients to be emotionally and spiritually whole; to believe in themselves and take inspired actions from that place. Her motto is “Inspire your SELF- Love your LIFE”

How Lucky Are You?

When it comes to luck…..I have only won one thing in my life.  When I was in elementary school I put my name in a contest to win a 100 pound chocolate egg from a local chocolate store.  It was a big Easter promotion for the chocolate shop in order to entice young kids into their store after seeing the 100 pound chocolate egg sitting in their store window.  I went to the store every day and entered my name into the contest (all the while purchasing other chocolate treats for myself of course).  I was distraught when I found out that I was going to be out of town with my family on the day of the draw.  One of the contest stipulations was that you HAD to be present during the draw…..at the time I thought it was a silly rule…..but now, after putting on my marketing hat, I totally understand why the store had that stipulation 🙂

I am sure you can expect where I am headed with this…..I DID win the contest but I wasn’t there to claim the prize.  I was devastated to hear the news upon returning from my family vacation.  BUT, now that I am older and wiser I am so happy  that I in fact didn’t win the 100 pound chocolate egg….imagine the sugar rush I would have had…..all the pimples I probably would have gotten….and I probably would have gained about 100 pounds from eating all that chocolate.

From this experience I learned two things…..first off, persistence pays off and secondly NO child needs a 100 pound chocolate egg!!!!

397719_518717761494344_51720000_a

We are excited to tell you about the Kinder® Surprise 2014 promotion of Kinder® Crack’n Win®.  This is a fun promotion designed to celebrate the launch of their new toy collections.  There are over $2.4 million in instant prizes to be won and entering couldn’t be easier! Keep an eye out for specially-marked Kinder® Surprise® Classic and Pink products in stores.

Inside each specially-marked Kinder® Surprise® egg, you will find a PIN embossed on the toy and/or toy leaflet within the capsule.

Once you’ve found your code, entering the contest is super-duper easy.  Simply visit the Kinder® Canada Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/KinderCanada/app_758013124212966  (and “Like” the page, if you haven’t already ) , enter your PIN code (along with some additional information as required) and click “Check Your PIN”.

What is up for grabs, you ask? Well, one lucky Kinder® fan could drive away in a Fiat 500 POP!  As well, 2 lucky Kinder® fans could win a family trip to Orlando!  Ahhhhh….sweet sunshine and warmth, how I’m missing you.  But, that’s not all!  Over 27,000 Kinder® fans could win a family night out to the movies, and 201,000 fans could win a free Kinder® treat!  Who could ask for more? 🙂   This is definitely better than willing a 100 pound chocolate egg, that’s for sure!!!

“Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own”

Tis the Season

christmas shoppingAs I pack the car with bottled water, snacks, comfy shoes and big environmental bags it would appear that I am planning for a natural disaster of some sort.  To your disappointment it’s nothing so extreme but it is something almost as adrenaline filled. Yes you guessed it, I am planning for a girls Christmas shopping weekend!

There are a group of us that go shopping every year and attempt to conquer our entire Christmas list in one weekend.  We plan every detail….from which route to take, a listing of each store we want to hit and even how long we can spend in each store.  We plan out where we will stop for lunch (we need to make sure we have fuel in us to keep the shopping marathon going for the two days) and we plan where and when we will stop for dinner.  Dinner is mostly to re-group over a glass of wine to make sure we didn’t miss anything and if we did, to add it to the agenda for the next day.

We even go as far as booking into a hotel for the night near the shopping mall so that we can shop until we literally “drop”. I attend this shopping extravaganza with girlfriends who all have children the same age as mine.  This is helpful because then we can bounce gift ideas off one another and ensure that we are getting our kids the latest and greatest toys.  We spend the most time in toy and kids apparel stores.  We all have 6 year old boys that are obsessed with trucks, cars, airplanes and figurines.  We ensure that we bring all of the holiday store coupons with to ensure we are getting the best bang for our buck!!!!

DC Friend BatcaveFor the most part I usually get the majority of my Christmas shopping done that weekend.  For any last minute gifts I get those online as I am sick of the malls by then.  Going to websites like http://www.mattel.ca/ is a good as they have their toys categorized by age group which makes shopping very convenient.   They have everything from Barbie to the latest Imaginext toys (which my son and his friends LOVE).  The DC Super Friends™ Batcave is an absolute favorite in the 4-8 year category!!!!

For next year all you parents out there that are wondering when and how to start your Christmas shopping, my advice to you is pack your car with all of the essential survival tools and a well planned out Christmas list.  Then hit the open road for a shopping extravaganza.  It will take a weekend to get everything done but then you can rest and enjoy the rest of the holidays with family and friends knowing that you have conquered the list that was haunting you.

Well, I’m off to start wrapping……

“Disclosure: I am part of the Mattel Holiday Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Share The Joy This Season

imagesEvery year as I begin my Christmas shopping for my children I reflect on how lucky they are to have as much as they do. For me it’s important to remember  that there many people in the world with very little, including a number of local families that struggle during the holiday season.

I believe that it’s very important for my kids to understand how lucky they are and to “share their joy” with others.  That’s why I always volunteer at my children’s elementary school for the Stocking Program.  It’s a great program where each grade at the school joins together to fill a huge stocking, or cardboard box that is decorated like a stocking, with presents for a family in need.  The presents can be anything from winter clothes to toys to grocery store gift cards that can be used for meals over the holidays.  As a school we always fill about 8 or 9 stockings.  As a family we always give generously to at least one family.

I make sure that my children are very much a part of the giving process. We talk about the ages of the kids that we are buying for and what they might like and need.   Then my children and I carve out a day to go shopping for relevant and fun items for each family member.  We always help to decorate the stocking (box) and we actually deliver the stocking right to the school that the family belongs to.

The whole process is designed to be as valuable to the volunteers as it is to helping out a local family that may not have the means as others do in providing a wonderful Christmas for their family.  For my kids it’s a great way to understand the meaning of giving back to the community and the true spirit of the holidays.

397719_518717761494344_51720000_aSimilar to my local efforts, and as a KINDER Mom, I like to share with you another great holiday kindness program that KINDER® has on right now.  For the second year in a row, KINDER® has partnered with Children’s Miracle Network with the “A Joy To Share” program.  The “A Joy to Share” program is one of the ways KINDER® is helping bring joy to families this holiday season.  As families come together this holiday, it is a wonderful opportunity to teach our little ones (and loved ones) about what it means to help others.  This isn’t just a donation – but a call to action for Canadian moms and children to create a greeting card as a means to share some holiday joy to  children and their families at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals this holiday season.

Starting Friday November 22nd, for each greeting card that is created, KINDER® will donate $1 to the Children’s Miracle Network.

Have fun creating your greeting card and remember to Share The Joy this holiday season!

Disclosure: I’m part of the KINDER® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Is It Bad To Eavesdrop on Your Kids?

Fisher Price ToysI feel like such a sneaky mom as I sit behind the doorframe eavesdropping on my 6 year old son.  It’s so cute that I just can’t help it.  My son will often sequester himself to the playroom to play with all of his toy trucks, cars and figurines.  He will start role playing with whatever character he’s got his hands and develop a whole storyline of how the castle has been invaded and a super hero has come to save the day.  It’s so neat to hear what actually comes out of his mouth as the story develops into a pretty sophisticated tale.

What’s even more cute is when my son rallies his friends on the playground to join in on his role playing.  They all choose a character to play and say funny things to each other like “Aliens are coming, hide with me in the time capsule where we can only talk and hear through our special agent language”…..what they really mean is “my mom is coming over to tell me it’s time to go home so hide with me under the slide where she can’t fit (after eating all those Halloween candies) and we can pretend not to hear her”.

In this great big world, Fisher Price’s Little People celebrate people, places and things through discoveries that spark little stories and big imaginations.  They work to empower the developing child toward greater self-directed play.

meet-friends-landing_tcm219-105569Every child is unique, and Little People want to celebrate that with their FIVE new Characters: Eddie, Mia, Sofie, Tessa and Koby – each with their own characteristics.  To learn more about each character visit the Fisher Price Little People Website.

In October and November Treehouse will hold the Little People, Big Discoveries contest.  Contestants will be able to play a hide and seek game to find new characters on play sets, watch the videos and be entered to win 1 of 5 $265 Little People Prize packs.

Disclosure: I am part of the Fisher-Price Little People Blogger Campaign with mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Bed, Bath and Beyond

NaturalBabyShampoo295Bedtime is such an enduring time with your baby. It’s a time when the house is quiet (if you don’t have other children running around), the lights are low, everyone is calm and you and your child slip into the familiar bedtime routine. You know, maybe a bit of spit up and a wet poop to start your evening off right.‎

At our house the bedtime routine was running a bath for my daughter directly after dinner. We would take some quality time to play and splash around. My babies always loved their bath and it was a very special time for all of us. After mopping a gallon of water off the floor and toweling off the walls, I would swaddle her tight in her night time onesie and we would cuddle together in the rocking chair while doing one last feed. It was such a magical time where I was able to slow everything down and connect with my little package.

mom and baby cuddlingEven when we had a busy day and it was getting a bit late we would never miss the time in the rocking chair. It was our special bonding moment together that could not be compromised.

Then I had my second child. The bedtime routine changed drastically from that point forward. Instead of one, I had two small children to get ready for bed and spend quality time with. I remember thinking that I didn’t know how I was supposed to juggle the bedtime routine effectively with both children. After a period of time I was able to work things out. I would bathe both children together (they loved that….the games they would play would be so much fun). Then we would go into my son’s room (the youngest) and I would rock my son while my daughter (the older one) would stand beside the chair. I would tell them stories or we would sing songs. Once my son was asleep I would spend some quality time with my daughter in her room.

This new bedtime routine meant that my son didn’t get to experience the one-on-one time with me before bed that I always gave his sibling. The saving grace was that he never knew anything different and his time was still so special for him. Making it special for each child, no matter how you do it is the important part.

Part of making it special was my routine of always using the JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME® bath soap with my kids when they had their bedtime bath. I bought the lavender scented one and it always made my kids smell so good. Since I was cuddling them after their bath I loved how they smelt. It was also soothing for them to have the lavender right before bedtime.

The improved JOHNSON’S® NATURAL® range of bathtime products are free from parabens, dye and phthalates. With over 100 years of baby care knowledge, moms can always trust JOHNSON’S® to be gentle on baby’s skin and of course, every JOHNSON’S® NATURAL® cleanser still contains the gentle NO MORE TEARS® formula.

I find that every mother has their own bedtime routine with their baby. Tell us about yours!

Disclosure – I am participating in the JOHNSON’S® NATURAL® Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of JOHNSON’S® NATURAL®.  I receive compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Total Control

School pictures, Fall and Christmas….all times of the year where as parents you are out shopping for new clothes for your kiddies. What I love about the age of my kids right now is that I can still choose what they wear. I can choose to dress them funky or casual or make them dress up for a special occasion.  I choose everything from the big bow headbands to the sparkly shoes. I am sure that the arguments and negotiations will come soon on that front but for now….I have TOTAL POWER over their wardrobe (insert wicked witch laugh).

Self PortriatThe reason why I might come across as a control hungry psycho mother is because I never had any control over what I wore as a child (see side picture). As you can see my Mom (hi mom) had total control over my wardrobe and THIS is what she chose for me to wear for picture day when I was in Kindergarten. Nope, that’s NOT my brother….that’s me….as a five year old little GIRL!  Apparently my mom had total control over my hair cuts as well….sigh!

Well, parents, you are in luck. Right now at Sears they are offering a promotion during their Baby Days which is 20% off everything baby…..so perfect time to shop and earn KIDSBUCKS!) From October 11th to the 31st earn $10 in Sears KidsBucks for every $40 spent on Toy’s, Children’s Furniture, Kids’ & Infants’ Apparel and Juvenile Products.  Earn a maximum of $50 in KidsBucks per single transaction.   You can redeem the Kidsbucks coupon from November 1 – 12, 2013….so, just in time to buy Christmas outfits. The great thing about this offer is it’s available in stores and ONLINE! I don’t know about you but I love to shop late at night once the kids are in bed, dressed in my jammies and slippers in front of the computer instead of braving the crowds in the stores.

Sears Kids Bucks

Portrait Studio Bonus!

With any purchase of $50 or more on kids’ fashions between October 25th and November 7th you’ll receive a FREE photo shoot courtesy of Sears Portrait Studio + 10 FREE personalized photo greeting cards ($29.89 value, redeemable October 25th to December 13th).

So, after you stop giggling at the picture that I shared take some time to check out the Sears website and pick out some beautiful clothes for your little ones…..while they still let you!

Giveaway!

Really want one of those portrait studio coupons? Sears are giving away the same portrait studio coupon to one of our lucky readers! For a chance to win a FREE photo shoot courtesy of Sears Portrait Studio + 10 FREE personalized photo greeting cards ($29.89 value) simply pop to the Sears website and leave a comment below telling us what you would spend your Kidsbucks on.

Once you’ve completed this mandatory first entry you can do the following for bonus entries:

Please be sure to leave a separate comment below for each of your bonus entries.

  • Giveaway closes October 20th.
  • Winner will be chosen at random.
  • Open to all Canadian residents over the age of 18 (excluding Quebec).
  • You will find a similar giveaway being run by other #SearsBabysRoom bloggers. You may enter across as many blogs as you want, however you can only win on one.

Disclosure: I am part of the Sears The Baby’s Room Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Pick Your Battles

Daughter mommy battlesAs a mom you are probably trying to juggle many different tasks in the morning.  Getting you ready for work or just for the day, getting your kids ready for daycare or school and probably even helping hubby find his car keys or wallet.  Morning time can become really hectic and sometimes feel like complete chaos.

What I have learned after many, many mornings where I have felt like a complete monster is to really pick my battles.  Sure, I could choose to freak out and tell my daughter to get dressed and brush her teeth otherwise no TV later that day.  But, acting that way would only make my daughter and myself feel terrible and potentially created feelings of insecurity.  Instead, I came up with an idea of creating the “get ready challenge”.  The challenge consists of whoever gets ready first (between me and my daughter) gets a prize.  For you new moms who are dealing with a baby or a toddler who cannot get ready by themselves, another trick I have learned is to get up 30 – 40 minutes early to get yourself ready so that when your child wakes you can focus your energy on getting them ready.  As for your hubby finding his wallet….he’s on his own 🙂 .

The moral of the story is that as a parent it’s so easy to nag, nag, and nag at our children.  In fact it could be never ending if we let it “clean up your room”, “brush your teeth”, “turn off the TV”, etc.  Therefore, as a parent we battle the dilemma “where do we draw the line in the sand” and “what battles do we fight for”?  I read a great article in a recent Parenting publication that talked about which battles to fight and which ones to leave.

Children need to be taught boundaries and need direction….that’s how they learn.  So, the rule of thumb for fighting battles is this:

– If your child is in danger (i.e. running out onto the road) then you should fight that battle.

– If your child is talking back or being disrespectful then you fight the battle.

– If your child is demanding unreasonable or expensive items then you fight that battle.  Children need to understand the value of money.

– If your child refuses to clean up a very dirty mess then you fight that battle.  It’s important for children to learn how to clean up after themselves.

On the other hand, children also need autonomy to learn on their own and gain confidence in their decisions.  So, the rule of thumb for NOT fighting battles is this:

Food Fight– Your child starts a food fight with their siblings….or even you – not worth the battle.  Children learn through food and sometimes having a good old fashioned food fight is ok.

– If your child has an untidy room – not worth the battle .  It could be an everyday, all day battle.  In this case teach your child that as long as they don’t have a “dirty” room, a little mess is ok.

– Crazy clothes clash – not worth the battle.  They learn creativity and self esteem this way.  Your child may look a little odd, but it won’t happen every day.

– Bedtime Battles – not worth the battle.  Chances are your child simply isn’t tired.  Have them read quietly in their room instead of watching TV and chances are they will eventually fall asleep 🙂

The Mad Rush

“Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.” ~WILL ROGERS

kids playing sportsThe above is an obscure but interesting quote I came across recently on the Internet that struck a chord with me and how I interact with my children. Clearly I haven’t reached the point that Mr. Will Rogers’ alludes to where I need to FIND something to do.  “Pack the diapers, warm the bottle, put that toy away..no we have to go…what, you need to pee?….hurry!!! We’re going to be late.”  I seem to be in a constant rush with my children trying to GET somewhere all the time. School, play date, soccer practice, Gymboree, you name it I’m going there or rather ‘trying’ to get there on time!

I find it odd how prior to the birth of my children I was able to dress myself, put makeup on, brush my teeth, get on the road and always without a doubt arrive at my business appointments on time. Heck I even had time to spare to grab a cup of coffee….imagine that.

That being said, I’m not disturbed at my new found lack of time management but rather my constant pressure on my children to get ready and get going. I have come to the conclusion that less is more sometimes and that maybe, just maybe, missing an appointment or being late once in a while isn’t such a bad thing.  How about I let my daughter finish making her watercolor picture of our family, even though she’ll be late for her dance class? Maybe my son would benefit more from playing in his sandbox a little longer than being rushed out the door for his Gymboree class.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not proposing that children’s lives should be filled with missed commitments and late arrivals. Structure and consistency are important foundations of young lives and to teach the ability to plan and control outcomes through action. I do however think that once in a while it is ok to choose a free form activity over a committed one. Not all the time but once in a while to take the stress off children and show then that life is not 100% about appointments and full days of planned activities, but also about just plain fun!

A few things I am going to do to make my life easier and relive stress on my children….

  • Start getting ready earlier. Set a reasonable timeframe.  If your kids are tired or not feeling well give extra time to get them ready.  They will undoubtedly be slower than usual.
  • Set expectations early so that the kids know what’s coming. “Sally, toys away in 10 minutes, we need to start getting ready”.
  • Put jackets, shoes and snacks together the night before so it’s not a rush the day of.
  • Have extra essentials in the car (water, diapers, wipes, clothes, snacks) just in case you forget something.
  • Plan less activities – open up some white space.

With these tips and tricks at my disposal, I think I may be able to get a little time for myself and even pick up that long missed cup of coffee once in a while.