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!!!!

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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.”

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 🙂

Surviving Condo Living with All That Baby “Stuff”

condo livingAs a new parent you want to make sure that you are prepared.  You want to ensure that you have everything covered from the 3 month supply of diapers to the 20 onsies hanging in the closet, to the state of the art change table that fits a wipes warmer, special bum crème to sooth diaper rashes and little toys to keep the little one busy while you change his diaper.  It’s kind of overwhelming all of the “things” that a new baby needs.  I know when I was preparing for my first child to be born I looked at my Visa statement and thought “this little baby is going to put me into bankruptcy if I’m not careful”.

With the high house prices in Vancouver, most young families are hard pressed to live anywhere with any decent amount of space….so, most of us are living in tight quarters and finding any nook or cranny to store our “stuff”. Then comes along baby and the resounding concern is “where am I going to put all of the babies stuff if I can’t even fit my stuff”.

Here are some tips and tricks on how to live in tight quarters with a little one…..

  1. We’re so lucky in many areas of Vancouver to have fabulous community centres, so it’s never too far to your local ‘play place’. Make use of community centre activities such as playtime, sportball, ballet, gymnastics to keep kids active in bad weather. At ‘playtime’ they have all the equipment so you won’t have to store large items such as tricycles and ride on toys.
  2. Rotate toys. As you don’t have much room for a ton of toys, it’s a good idea to rotate them. Pack up some and put them in storage then, after a month or two, get those toys out and put another batch away. I know someone who did this with their kids’ vast collection of stuffies. The kids were always delighted to see the ones that had been stored away for a while.
  3. As space is limited for extra furniture/baby gear you could use a clip on high chair like the Lobster from Phil & Teds http://philandteds.com/productsus/feedus/lobsterus#_features takes up much less room.
  4. Instead of having a big change table that takes up space try using the Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station that is portable from room to room and folds up into a small ball.
  5. Puj TubUse a Puj Tub for a babies bath to save room – this tub can be stored hanging flat on the wall.  Then folds up to hold baby in the sink for his bath.
  6. Because tight living quarters can be noisy for a baby that is sleeping on average 18 hours per      day….getting a white noise machine can help drown out any sounds from the parents daily routine.
  7. Use what space you have imaginatively. My co-author, Lorraine lived in an apartment in downtown Vancouver when she gave birth to her first child and she turned her storage cupboard into a nursery. There was room for a crib, dresser/change table and that was it. No window was actually a bonus as it meant no light streaming in at 5am to wake them up early. Her daughter slept really well in that room until she was almost 4!
  8. Instead of a stroller that can be bulky parents can use a baby carrier like the ERGO Baby Carrier instead and the baby can easily be in and out while mommy runs errands, etc.  Then the baby carrier can be folded up and stored away for next time.
  9. Keep organized. There are companies that can provide ideas on how to organize your condo so that you get the most efficient use of space like Alongside Family Support Services.  For when you are out and about be sure to have a good diaper bag to keep all of your survival gear organized like the Petunia Pickle bottom or Ju-Ju-Be diaper bags.  Both are great for storing lots of stuff.
  10. When storage is a challenge you can find creative ways to turn necessities that you already have into other functions.  For instance, the Aden + Anais swaddle blankets can be used as a stroller cover, nursing cover and tummy time mat…..ALONG with the tradition function of a comfy swaddle blanket.  Multitasking is what us mommies do best….am I right?

A lot of the above products can be found at Barla Banana Boutique and ordered online.  Good luck with your quest and happy shopping!

Mother’s Day Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

As a Mother I am constantly run off my feet with work, household duties, chauffeuring the kids around and the many other tasks that make us crazy. We love it though don’t we 😉 As I’ve grown into my role with young kids, I really look forward to Mother’s Day. Now that it is right around the corner I am ecstatic to not only see what surprises are in store for me but also to spend quality time with my family.

One of my favorite activities to do on Mother’s Day is to go for brunch with my hubby and children. I am a huge fan of everything breakfast, so what better gift could there be than having someone else prepare my favorite meal of the day and even clean up afterwards! I am dying to try a restaurant in my home town of Vancouver….a fantastic spot called Provence Marinaside in the Yaletown district. It’s a French restaurant that offers fresh local seafood, raw oyster bar and has an extensive wine list. Who says you can’t have a little vino with your brunch….especially on Mother’s Day! With spring finally in the air and the Sun shining, I anticipate the view of the adjacent marina will be heavenly.

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The couple that own the restaurant, Alessandra and Jean-Francis also own another restaurant in Point Grey called Provence Mediterranean Grill as well as a brand new wine bar located beside their Yaletown restaurant called TWB.

I got to thinking that Alessandra is owner of two restaurants, a chef and a mom …… what does her Mother’s Day look like? She is one amazing woman considering she she’ll be spending her special day in the restaurant creating her world renowned seafood centric feasts for the rest of us. Go Mom power!

When asked how she spends her Mother’s Day, Alessandra said that she celebrates Mother’s Day the following weekend so that she can have quality time with her family and not be rushed on the actual weekend. That’s how us mothers roll…..we are flexible and go with the flow.  As long as we are recognized on or “around” Mother’s Day we are happy.

After I celebrate brunch with the family I like to end the day is sitting on the couch with my hubby after the kids are asleep with a great bottle of wine (like a good bottle of the Inniskillin 2011 Niagara Estate Rielsing) and relax. I don’t hesitate to share with you all how much I love my wines, so why not end a perfect day with a perfect glass of wine and a fireside chat with the father that made my Mother’s Day possible.

For more information on the Provence restaurants and wine selection for Inniskillin visit the websites below.

http://www.inniskillin.com/

http://www.provencevancouver.com/

Happy Mother’s Day!

Play Time Isn’t Only Fun….It’s a Learning Experience!

As the door bell rings my children run to the front door to excitedly greet the FedEx man. With my part time gig of reviewing toys for fellow blogging moms,  it’s sad but true to say that they are conditioned to associate the Fed Ex truck with fun things for them to play with.

This time the Fed Ex man brought three brand new toys from Fisher Price for my children to experience.  It’s always so much fun to see the excitement and wonder in my children’s eyes as they open the packages to see what adventure is in store for them.  Funny how the neighborhood kids seem to know when to ask for play dates as well…must be that little brown truck again.

This delivery was probably the most exhilarating for them.  The folks at Fisher Price sure know how to pick toys that are not only age appropriate but ones that are super interesting for my kids (ages 5 and 8).

My son LOVED the Super Hero’s castle.  At first I thought it would be a bit young for him at 5 years old.  However, soon after opening it, I realized that I couldn’t peel him away from the adventure of all his favorite crime fighters. Not only was it super exciting for my son but also for my neighbors boys who are age 7. It was great watching the 3 little guys make up scenarios where “bad guys” are captred and held in the secret crime fighting castle.  The Castle shoots out fun things like plastic swords and canons to add to the immersive aspects of a great toy. The boys really loved it.

My daughter was so thrilled to receive the Fisher Price Serving Surprise Kitchen and Table.  My daughter was not only excited to incorporate the kitchen into playing with all of her dolls (makes for a GREAT tea party), but she was super excited to put the table together.  The parts are easy enough to assemble, even for an 8 year old. The effort of putting it together definitely made the end result more fun since she was the one to essentially create it.

When our kids receive new toys it never ceases to amaze me how they incorporate the new toys into playing with their old ones.  They don’t just discard their old ones, they enhance their play time with using the new toys along with the old.  For instance, a couple of months ago my son got the Fisher Price Batman Cave.  Upon receiving the Super Hero’s Castle, I thought the bat man toy would go to the back of his closet,  instead he uses the batman cave and the castle together. It’s great to watch him fully involved in the fantasy splitting up his super hero figurines between the cave and castle and having great battles between the two.

Same with my daughter…..she didn’t discard her Barbie house when the new kitchen arrived….instead she transformed the kitchen to be one area for her dolls to visit and play in while the Barbie house was another area for her dolls to play in.  You know every girl must have multiple rooms to house all of her precious things J.

So don’t fear the new, your kids will make it work with their older toys as well. Try these two great play sets out, my kids certainly are enjoying them daily.

I can’t wait to see what exciting things my kids will do when they see what Santa will be bringing them at Christmas!

“Disclosure: I am a Fisher-Price Mom and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

There can only be one Mom of the Year

In September 2004 Carol Westberg was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable cancer of the plasma cells and was given a prognosis of 3-5 years. Despite undergoing a stem cell transplant plus several chemotherapy and radiation treatments she kept fighting and never complained. On the contrary, all the while being on treatments that extend her life but take their toll she continued to think of others instead of herself.

Carol co-founded the Southern Alberta Myeloma Patient Society, which has raised over $150,000 for research and advocates for drug coverage, was chosen in the top 50 volunteers from over 2000 nominations for Champions of Change, she counsels newly diagnosed myeloma patients all over Canada, speaks to student nurses about living with an incurable disease, organizes charity events and conferences. No matter how tired or defeated she may be feeling Carol sees the positives and keeps going.

Carol’s story is just one of the eight incredible tales that make the women behind them worthy finalists for the Walmart Mom of the Year award. I read and re-read all eight stories submitted by the nominees’ loved ones and found it nigh on impossible to single out one Mom who would receive my vote. Every one of these finalists has gone above and beyond mothering to help their family, friends and share love and the spirit of motherhood with their communities. In the end it was Carol’s story that touched me the most. Not only is she volunteering, counselling and fund raising to help improve the lives of others but all the while fighting her own long battle with cancer.

In total, 16,909 moms were nominated, and now that the eight finalists have been selected you can read the stories of these amazing women on the Mom of the Year website. The finalists will each receive $10,000 for personal use and $10,000 to the charity of their choice. Thanks to Carol, a donation of $10,000 will be made to The Southern Alberta Myeloma Patient Society. At the end of September a gala will be held to announce the Mom of the Year, and the lucky winner will be able to donate $100,000 to the charity of her choice!

This is the inaugural year of this campaign so look out for it to be back in 2013, continuing to celebrate all that Moms do and shine a light on what is important to them.

Disclosure: I’m part of the Walmart program by Mom Central. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own. Mom of the Year Award: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY Internet access and valid email account required. Nominations open May 10, 2012 to July 8, 2012 for legal residents of Canada over the age of majority.  Entrants cannot nominate themselves. One (1) grand prize available to be won consisting of $10,000 cash, a $100,000 donation by Wal-mart Canada Corp. to charity/cause and a trip to Toronto (ARV $22,000). Seven (7) runner-up prizes available to be won consisting of $10,000 cash, a $10,000 donation to charity/cause and a trip to Toronto (ARV $22,000). Charity/cause subject to verification and final approval by Wal-mart Canada Corp., at its sole discretion. Odds of winning depend on how the judging panel evaluates each entry according to the criteria. For Official Contest Rules and to nominate an entrant, visit [www.momoftheyear.ca].

Justin Time….for September!

September has arrived!  Its back-to-school season for everybody including your little ones favorite Disney Junior Characters.  Even though back to school means less TV watching time for the kiddies….I find that the small amount of time that my kids end up watching TV means they become more picky about what they are watching.  As a Disney Junior Mom Ambassador I was able to share with my children a sneak peek of Disney Junior’s newest addition, Justin Time! (what a fun name) to see if this new program would go on their list of preferred TV shows.

Justin is a little boy who, alongside his imaginary pals Olive and Squidgy, embark on the biggest adventures of all time, from every corner of the world!  Justin’s everyday challenges set the stage as he rides rockets into space; discovers new worlds with the Vikings; and chases Cleopatra’s cat through the pyramids of Egypt! Squidgy, his hilarious and faithful clay friend, is always there to help and Olive is always a friendly face in every new place.  In the first episode that airs on Sunday September 16th, Justin and his pals Olive and Squidgy becomes the captain of a pirate ship, but it’s not all smooth-sailing, when Justin and his crew encounter the infamous Captain Redbeard!

When my 5 year old son and 8 year old daughter watched the first few episodes they were captivated by the fun nature of the adventures that Justin and his faithful pals embark on.  They both remained intrigued during the entire show in order to find out just how the adventures panned out.

The adventures of Justin Time will continue every weekend on Disney Junior at 8:30am ET and 3:30pm ET, starting Sunday, September 16th!  For more details about the show, visit http://www.disneyjunior.ca/en/shows/justin-time

Another exciting and fun event on Disney Junior, for your little Princess is the:

Cinderella Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Contest: Beginning on Monday, September 17th, royal party! Disney Junior is giving some prizes of royal proportions with the Cinderella Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Contest!:

  • The Grand Prize includes a special private screening of Disney’s Cinderella for you and 20 guests along with a Royal Prize Pack including a Cinderella’s Transforming Pumpkin Carriage, Disney Luggage, Lip Smackers, Greeting Cards, CDs and much more!
  • You could also win 1 of 5 fabulous Princess Prize Packs!For full prizing details, and to enter once per day, visit www.disneyjunior.ca/en/contests/cinderella/ . Make sure to do so before midnight October 13th when the clock strikes for Cinderella.

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

Turning a Business Trip Into a Family Vacation

Balancing my work and family life is often a challenging proposition. The two, after all, are so different – one takes place in offices and boardrooms, the other at home and in the park – but both involve a considerable amount of responsibility. All too often, I find myself having to make a decision: should I go into work today or should I be less productive at home while watching the kids? Should I rush home at 5 to make dinner or should I stay to make one last important call?

These decisions become particularly difficult when travel is involved. There are several times a year when extensive travel is required as part of my job, and even though my husband does a great job while I’m gone I still try to make the trip as short as possible so that I can rush back to my family. It makes for a stressful couple of days.

Perhaps once a year, though, I try to plan my business trip so that it can coincide with a short family vacation. If the destination is touristy and interesting (ie New York or California, not Dallas or Kansas City), and if the kids are on break from school, I’ll consider bringing the whole family along. Sure, it creates some new stresses, but every once in a while it’s better than leaving my whole family behind.

A couple weeks ago, for example, I took my family with me on an extended business trip to the New York Area. This could have been a tricky situation, nightmarish in terms of logistics, except that we had planned it out well in advance. Using the online services of Rentler we actually rented a well-accommodated vacation home where my husband and kids could stay while I jumped around the east coast. In between trips, I returned back to the rental. What could have been a dreary business trip turned into a memorable summer vacation with the family.

But, of course, there was some stress along the way. Which brings me to my two key pieces of advice for conducting business travel with family members in tow. First, make sure that your spouse is completely on board. Without being able to entrust my husband with managing the kids on his own in New York for a few days, this never would have been feasible. Second, be willing to spend. My family was very understanding and respective of my work needs, so timing was not an issue, but whenever I wasn’t with them they were off somewhere, spending money. It should go without saying that a business trip may not be much more economical than a family one.

So if you’re considering bringing your family along when you travel, I’d say go for it. Certainly, I’m glad that I did. No matter what I do there’s going to be some stress involved, but it was nice – for a change – to switch up the nature of that stress and relax a little in the process.

Summer Fun…..And TV!

Summer is in glorious full effect. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the sprinklers are going and we are all supposed to be spending as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors. There are times though when you need a little downtime from the beach and parks and outdoor activities.Let’s face it…..with two kids at home for summer break (67 days but who’s counting) the long days can sometimes drag on for little ones if they aren’t occupied.

So for those times of boredom (“mommy, I’m bored….sound familiar?) I don’t feel guilty letting my kids enjoy a bit of television. And when I found out about the Disney Junior morning marathons that take place all summer long I felt even less guilty because the content is full of great lessons and no violence or negative energy. My son is a huge fan of the show Jake and the Never Land Pirates (ahoy mate) and my daughter loves Doc McStuffins (maybe she’s make for a good Veterinarian one day).

Another point in the day that I don’t mind if my kids park themselves in front of the TV is if it’s boiling hot outside and they want to escape the summer heat. Heat and little kids don’t mix well… especially when they are all sticky from the mounds of sunscreen I lather them in.

Balance is key and I do make sure that my kids get lots of activity during the summer months….it’s so great to see them running around and riding their bikes. I also think that a little down time is important too, especially when I see them start to get sick of each other and argue. Then I look like a hero….”why don’t you kids come inside and settle down in front of the TV?”…..am I right!

Disney Junior provides such great programming that I never worry about what’s coming up next or what commercials my kids will be exposed too. So, it’s a win-win situation for all. The kids get some fun in front of the TV watching their favorite shows and mommy gets some peace and quiet from the summer holidays chaos.

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