Staycation or Awaycation?

For the first five years of motherhood I lived nearly 5000 miles away from my family. It’s my fault – I chose to up-sticks and move away. When we were just a couple I was fine with a visit from my parents once a year, a yearly trip home for us and weekly phone calls, but somehow, having babies made me feel closer to my family despite the vast distance between us. I realised just how much a rookie mom needs her mom.

As Pickle grew and Bowser arrived seeing my family only once or twice a year and the limited time my parents had with their grandchildren fanned the flames of my smoldering feelings of homesickness. Surviving the nine hour flight and the accompanying jet lag also made traveling home less appealing. So, when Pickle was five and Bowser 18 months we packed up and went home. Now we are a much more sensible 60 miles apart and can see them, if not whenever we want, at least six or so times a year.

IMG_4996So that’s how we’ll be spending our upcoming school break – with Nanny and Grandad. We won’t do anything terribly exciting; it’s very relaxed. We will visit with some extended family, catching up with Aunties and Cousins. I usually get to have some precious ‘me time’ and have a couple of nights out with old friends. We’ll have our annual trip to the theme park, adventure playground and, if weather permits, a day at the beach. Pickle in particular is just as excited about seeing Nanny and Grandad as she is about what we will do when we’re there. For her it’s all about being together. It’s like she’s making up for lost time.

IMG_5005Pickle would like it if we were part of an African or Indian culture where the extended family all live together under one roof, but we adults know that we also need our own space. We always try to explain to her that if we spent all of our time together then we wouldn’t be able to look forward to visits. However, when we leave there are always tears that last for at least the first 15 minutes of the journey.

Nanny always has a little welcome gift for them: usually a sticker book and a craft kit for Pickle; a couple of Hot Wheels or some Angry Birds paraphernalia for Bowser. And there’s always a pack of Kinder eggs each. No matter how many of these babies we’ve had in our house over the last few years (and being a part of the #KinderMom program this is quite a few!) the kids are always excited to open another one and shortly after munching on the delicious chocolate the toy bartering begins.

Wishing you all a happy holiday – be it a staycation or an awaycation I’m sure it will be fun, fun, fun!

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.

It’s worth waiting if you’re meeting royalty

“How did this happen?” I asked myself more than once a hundred times as we waited in long line-up after longer line-up at Disneyland. It was Spring break. How did we end up at Disneyland during Spring break when our little one was only two? Bad planning, that’s what. Being a Brit out of water I was under the misconception that US and Canadian school holidays were like the British ones that I was used to – basically everyone has them at the same time, give or take a day here or there. So when I’d Googled ‘Sping Break dates’ and booked our holiday NOT to coincide with them, I didn’t realise that Spring Break varied from state to state and in fact our visit to Disneyland coincided with what seemed like the holidays of most of North America. The place was heaving.

I’ve been to Disneyland a few times as a teenager and adult, but this was my first trip with my own child and I was so excited to be there with her. Pickle was 2 ¾ and, like most little girls her age, a huge princess fan. I just knew she was going to love it! Yet I couldn’t believe Disneyland was the busiest I had ever seen it. I was astounded that we needed to queue for 30-45 minutes for the classic kiddie rides in Fantasyland. We bit the bullet and got into our first line-up waiting over 30 minutes for the Mad Tea Party after which our little Pickle turned round and asked “Can we go home now?” My face fell, my shoulders slumped, my heart dropped. This was Disneyland and she wasn’t enjoying herself – she wanted to go home!!! After that my hubby embarked on military operation ‘She WILL enjoy Disneyland’. We scampered round the park making full use of the FASTPASS system; while one parent took her on one ride the other parent would be in the line-up for the next one and we’d pass Pickle over the fence. It was exhausting, but worth it to see her delighted little face as she experienced the rides without experiencing the waits.

DSC_0057Towards the end of the day we still had the Princesses to visit, but the queue was over an hour’s wait. By this time Pickle was having a blissful nap in her stroller so I paced up and down to keep the nap-inducing-stroller-motion going and Hubs got in the queue and dutifully waited…and waited. By the time we got to the official red roped off entrance it was nearly 5pm and the royal ladies were about to go off and attend to their princess duties for the evening. We were among the last royal visitors of the day. We gently woke Pickle up and told her she was about to meet the princesses. I will never forget her face of wide-eyed wonderment as she stood waiting her turn and the look of pure joy as she raced into the arms of Belle. It was well worth the wait. When I look at the photos of my joyous toddler that day I’m reminded of the fabulous time she had on her first Disney experience, not the hours we spent in line ups (much).

4-princessI know my little Pickle would have been delighted to find the new surprises hiding in pink Kinder Eggs this month are Disney Princess collectibles! In fact, both your Princess and Superhero fans will be happy with the new specially-marked Kinder® Surprise® packages because in two out of the three eggs they’ll find a limited edition Princess or Marvel Super Hero toy. Take a peek at the new toy collections on Kinder’s facebook page.

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.

Who else thinks Mike looks good as a glitter ball?

As the school term came to a close we drew up a list of activities that we would like to enjoy this summer holiday. Days at the beach, waterpark, cycling, theme parks, picnics…it’s a long list and I’m not sure if we’ll fit it all in, but we’ll definitely have fun trying.

One ‘to-do’ we’d already crossed off in week one was a trip to the cinema to see Monsters University. We’ve been waiting for this…since…what seems like forever – since we heard a sequel (or in this case prequel) was in the pipeline. Of course when it comes to these complex Pixar masterpieces the pipeline is so very long.

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We don’t tend to go to the movie theatre that much – only for the real big ‘must see’ movies and although Pickle has seen a few biggies at the cinema over the last few years, this was Bowser’s first. He enjoys TV shows, but his attention tends to wander before a DVD movie is through. We’d been in our seats for only 10 minutes before he had declared he was bored and we were still on the trailers, so I prepared for some fidgeting and thought there might be need of gentle persuasion (“here, eat more popcorn”) to allow me to see the whole movie. However, I need not have worried – as soon as little Mike Wazowski the preschooler appeared on screen Bowser was captivated and sat still and engaged until the closing credits, with the last few Maltesers in the pack a melted mess clutched in his sweaty palm. Result!

To be brutally honest, I was a bit disappointed in Monsters University. It was a good movie, but it lacked that certain something that makes a great movie. The script was sadly lacking in laughs compared to the hilarious Monsters Inc: such a hard act to follow. The brilliant teaser trailer where Mike becomes a glitter ball was, IMHO, funnier than the rest of the gags that actually made it in to the movie. So for me and anyone else who thinks Mike looks good as a disco ball…

But who cares what I think? I’m only a parent. The kids loved it and that’s all that matters. What’s more, I know they are going to love the new Monsters University Kinder® Surprise® packs. For the first time ever specially-marked Kinder® Surprise® packages are guaranteed to contain 100% licensed toys. That’s right, every Kinder Egg in these packs will contain a Monsters University character, so get ready for your kids to go nuts with monster fever as they try to collect the whole cast of 12 minifigures. Visit Kinder Canada’s facebook page now to see the new toy collection and cast a vote for your favourite monster.

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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.

Each One Is Different!

After I had my first child I thought I had everything figured out about this parenting gig.  I thought that it would be no problem to have a second child as I have learned so much with my first….how different could a second child really be?  Don’t all children do the same things and act the same way?  THEN, I had my second child, who granted was a boy and not a girl like my first child.  But, having gender differences was to be expected.

What I didn’t expect was the complete and total opposite distinctions in both children from all aspects of their personality.  My daughter would eat anything I put in front of her.  My son won’t touch any food unless it’s caked in sugar.  My daughter takes over an hour to settle into bed and fall asleep.  My son falls asleep as soon as his head hits his pillow.  My daughter is super artistic and creative.  My son is a sports jock through and through.

When it comes down to the more emotional differences my daughter is stubborn as….well….as me 🙂   My son is the true meaning of the saying “water off a ducks back”.  My daughter is independent and only rarely really needs a snuggle and hug from mommy.  Whereas my son holds my hand whenever possible and showers me with kisses….even when his friends are watching!

Both children have such great attributes and both have some challenging attributes.  I could never have guessed that either would turn out the way they have and each personality would be so thought provoking to handle.

One trait that both my children share is their love of singing.  It’s rare that I can get them to sing together anymore but I do want to share this video of them singing a couple of years ago…..I’m a bit bias but I think it’s very cute!

Kinder® Surprise® Pink and Kinder Canada understand that each child is unique.  In order to celebrate our children Kinder Canada will hosting an exclusive Facebook contest. With the contest already started, you will be able to participate simply by becoming a friend of Kinder Canada and telling Kinder Canada what makes YOUR child so unique! You could be lucky enough to scoop up one of three $250 VISA gift cards!  You can also check out their new fun toy collection for girls and boysFor more contest details follow this link and good luck!  www.facebook.com/KinderCanada

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.

Hot Wheels vs. Barbie

Blue is my FAVOURITE and Elena’s favourite is pink” states Bowser as he studies his picture book while sitting on his potty. He’s quite distressed when I agree that blue is my favourite colour too: “But you’re a girl!” and therefore not allowed to like blue apparently.

This little conversation more or less sums up the stereotypical gender preferences of my kids. Granted, I haven’t discouraged their way of thinking and given that we’ve decorated Pickle’s room in pink (her choice) while Bowser’s is blue, I guess you could say if anything we’re encouraging it. But it’s amazing to me how; on the whole, it seems to be in their nature. Yet they both had the same baby toys – Pickle’s toys were wiped over and became Bowser’s toys and all our baby gear was unisex – hoping we’d need them again for a second child we carefully considered our bankroll when buying car seats, highchairs, swinging chairs, blankies, nursery decor, bedding etc.

imagesPickle seemed innately drawn to pink. I’ve never been a girly girl or a great fan of pink so I never particularly chose it for Pickle’s baby clothes. Of course she had some baby clothes in pink, but as soon as she had a choice in the matter it was pink all the way: pink clothes; pink hair accessories (as soon as there was enough hair to warrant an accessory); pink cups; pink plates; and hence her choice of “Sorbet” for her bedroom walls. She similarly gravitated towards princesses, fairies, ballet, Barbie and anything frilly, fluffy, floaty. She loves drawing and crafts. Her sporting ability leaves a lot to be desired.

Bowser on the other hand loves cars: zooming, racing, crashing cars. He likes balls, kicking, hitting, jumping, whacking, climbing. He loves sports. His drawing is woeful.

u10553617Talking to other moms it sounds like it’s the same in most households – the majority of the time the girls are playing bossy games involving dressing up as princesses to have dollies’ tea parties with a Barbie tea set. Meanwhile the toddler boys favour Thomas the Tank Engine and cars; are likely to sporadically whack you with something and soon progress to play fighting and turning anything remotely gun-like into a gun, even if their parents have not particularly allowed them to be exposed to guns.

So why is it that “Boys will be boys”? I looked it up, but although research has been going on for over 100 years most articles on the subject suggest ‘more research needs to be done in this area’. They do admit ‘there is a difference’ between a boy’s brain and a girl’s brain. The line I found that best summed it up was “girls have the brain that boys would have if theirs weren’t reshaped by testosterone.” A baby boy starts life with a ‘female brain’ before a testosterone bath in the early weeks in utero promotes growth in areas that govern sex and aggression, while stunting development in the areas governing communication. Apparently a baby boy is born with as much testosterone as a 25 year old man! Meanwhile oestrogen doesn’t affect the development of the brain. As a result a baby girl is more observant of faces and girls are naturally more interested in communicating and nurture games. Meanwhile baby boys are easily distracted and focus more on mechanical objects than faces. Boys are prone to running around, rough and tumble, aggressive and impulsive behaviour and more interested in mechanical stuff. Boys’ gross motor skills tend to develop slightly faster hence a leaning towards physical activities. The girls’ fine motor skills improve first so they lead the boys in arts and crafts and writing.  And of course some of the behaviour is learned.

I’m not suggesting all little girls are rubbish at sports and all little boys are bad artists; just that on average they display typical gender defined preferences and skills. There are occasions when Bowser puts a baby in a pram and takes it for a stroll round the garden and he likes to participate in the odd tea party.

barbie-braceletPickle will be tickled pink to discover that Kinder Canada are taking into account the gender preferences with the launch of their new KINDER® SURPRISE® eggs for girls introduced by none other than Barbie.  Meanwhile Bowser will be extremely excited to find limited edition Hot Wheels™ toys inside some of the classic KINDER® SURPRISE® eggs. It couldn’t be more perfect…but since the contents of a Kinder Egg are a surprise I can envisage a lot of swapsies going on.

hw-greenTo kick off this amazing launch, KINDER® Canada are giving away 40 KINDER® Barbie™ Hot Wheels™ Prize Packs including Barbie™ and Hot Wheels™ toys as well as a pack of 24 KINDER® SURPRISE® eggs.  Simply pop to the Kinder Canada facebook page, become a fan and enter your details on the contest page.

What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails.
What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice.

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.

A Joy to Share

KINDER® is sharing the joy again this holiday season by supporting the Children’s Miracle Network. The Children’s Miracle Network have been helping to save and improve the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals since 1983.

In the video below, the Martin family tell their story of how The Children’s Miracle Network were there when Leah needed them. All you need to do is share this video and KINDER® will automatically donate $1.00 (up to $5000) to Children’s Miracle Network on your behalf.

KINDER® is celebrating the ‘A Joy To Share‘ program with its Facebook community by giving away 7,500 coupons to enjoy their delicious Kinder® Mini Eggs*, for free! This giveaway began yesterday November 26th and the day’s 750 coupons were scooped up almost immediately! It’s OK, there’s still time to share the joy as there are another 9 chances. 750 coupons will be released each day at 12pm ET. Be quick off the mark if you’d like to bag a bag! And while you’re there don’t forget to share that video!

Just a note to remind allergy sufferers that since KINDER® MINI EGGS contain a delicious hazelnut centre, they’re not nut-free.

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.

You too can be the ‘Best Mommy Ever’

My kids are always telling me I’m the ‘Best Mommy Ever’. It’s so not true, but lovely all the same. Last week after a run in with my 8-year-old over homework I fell off my pedestal – I had to smile to myself when I heard ‘worst ever mummy’ muttered between the bangs and crashes that emanated from her bedroom as she vented her frustrations. This week I was back on form as the ‘Best Mommy Ever’ and it was easy. We were lucky enough to be selected to take part in another round of the Kinder Mom program and my kids LOVE Kinder eggs! Slam dunk.

As a mom who spends half my life picking up bits and bobs from the floor I’m in two minds about the ‘treasures’ that have been collected from Kinder eggs. One mom’s trash is another kid’s treasure I guess. We have a whole drawer full of trash treasure and probably 40% of it came out of a Kinder egg at some stage, the rest from party bags and maybe a few Happy Meals. It’s more precious than many of the expensive toys we have. What can I say: kids love bits and bobs.

A flying jelly flypast

This fall a whole range of new toys under the themes of Adventure, Exploration, Artistic Development and Active Lifestyle will be hiding in Kinder eggs. Meet the cute Softy Tummies, funny Bouncing Monsters, and the Dinos.

The Optical Illusion toys and Flying Jellies are great fun too. There is currently a war raging in our house over the ownership of the fuzzy polar bear. He is incredibly cute.

To celebrate the launch of the brand-new 2013 Toy Collection KINDER® Canada were giving away 10,000 delicious Kinder® Surprise® Eggs on Facebook. YAY! It started on Tuesday…and ended an hour later – all 10,000 coupons were scooped up within an hour! If you missed out on this Kinder egg grab here’s your chance to instantly become ‘Best Mommy Ever’ by winning your family a 24 pack of Kinder® Surprise® Eggs.

Giveaway! To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us your kids’ favourite toy from the 2013 collection.

After completing this mandatory entry you can do the following for bonus entries:

Be sure to leave a separate comment below for each of your bonus entries. (Please include links to Tweets and Pins)

    • Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only
    • Winner will be drawn at random
    • Giveaway closes November 2nd, 2012

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.