Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A super photo book deal!

I love making photo books for my kids of their adventures  - and they looove looking at books with pictures of themselves! So I was thrilled to find a deal on photo books at Artscow. I'd never heard of this site before, but I just created a book and placed my order and I'm so excited to see the result!

The difference with this site from ones I've used before (I've tried Shutterfly, Kulapix, and WalMart's photo book services) is that it makes it super easy to do a digital scrapbook style book, with loads of free "kits" that have full book layouts as well as all the patterns and embellishments you could desire. It's completely customizable with a drag and drop interface for both the layouts and your photos.

I found there was a bit of a learning curve (and you do need to install Microsoft's Silverlight if you don't already have it - also free, and available right there on the site from the Create page, it prompts you to install it), but overall I enjoyed the process. And you can't beat this deal:

a 99 cent photo book, including shipping!!
Use coupon code Z099BOOKK47EG 

(My order came to $1.07 Canadian) This includes 6x6" and 7x5" photo books. AWESOME. And great Christmas presents!! Go get one!

Expires Dec. 31, 2013 and limited to the first 20,000 orders. One per household.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Our bedtime routine with JOHNSON’S® NATURAL® #JohnsonsNatural

When I just had one child, bedtime was a simple thing. We had our routine of potty, bath, tooth brushing, pyjamas, stories and cuddles down pat.

With two, it gets a little more complicated, especially while Baby D is still so little. He needs to go to sleep around 7:00 pm, while my daughter's bedtime is 8:00. He needs about half an hour of quiet nursing and cuddles to fall asleep - and my daughter has Crazy Time right before bed when she is full of beans and noisy as anything.

On good nights, however, we do manage to coordinate bath time so they can have a bath together (it's usually a two-parent job at our house!). My daughter adores the bath, and my son is starting to really enjoy splashing and relaxing in the water (though coming out of the bath is his cue to WAIL!). Even if my daughter is tired and getting whiny, the promise of a bath is enough to get her to behave and change her attitude. And a cranky baby is always soothed by warm water!

She loves "helping" by pouring water on him, and we're extra careful to explain that splashing is fun, but we don't splash each other in the face! 

Bath time, while they're small, is a time for them to play together and relax after busy days. We are still using JOHNSON’S® NATURAL® baby products at bath time which I feel helps keep things consistent. The familiar smell is a part of the routine, and they associate it with sleepy time. And as an informed and concerned parent, I appreciate that they are paraben-free, dye-free, and phthalate-free.

I think if there's one thing that is a must for bedtime, it is story time. I strongly feel it's important to instill a love of reading in our children. Reading to kids is such a wonderful way to share time with them, explore language, discover new worlds (real and imaginary), and set them up for a lifetime of enjoyment and education through books. The only times our little ones go to bed without a story is if we've been away on a day trip and they've fallen asleep in the car - or if they've lost the privilege of story time by being naughty (my almost-three-year-old is very aware of her behaviour near bedtime so that she doesn't lose story time!).

We always let our daughter choose her two stories, and it's fun to see which ones she chooses to hear us read each night. Sometimes it's a streak of one thing or another (currently, Dr. Seuss is on heavy rotation), but sometimes she surprises me by pulling out an old favourite. It's also fun to watch our son as we read the stories aloud - he looks carefully at all the pictures and is fairly patient (for a four-month-old!) as we read through two books.

After story time, lights go out - we have a star projector for my daughter's room, and a night light for my son. Darkness helps cue the brain to sleep, and we try to keep things pretty dark without a complete blackout. 

With a consistent bedtime routine, soothing all the senses, little ones can drift off to dreamland easily.

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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Purex Oxi Laundry Detergent Review (with Giveaway!)

Since my first baby was born, I've been using only unscented laundry products: free and clear detergents, and soap nuts. Our laundry does get pretty clean, but I confess that sometimes stains are not quite as gone as I'd like them to be - and I secretly miss that fresh laundry smell.

I had the opportunity to try out Purex plus Oxi liquid detergent and honestly was a little apprehensive. I'm super sensitive to smells, and I was worried that the scent would be too strong. I also worried about how good it would be at removing stains in our stainiest clothing - baby and toddler clothes. But, I gave it a try.

And was pleasantly surprised!

While the scent is strong in the bottle, laundry comes out smelling lovely - not too strong at all. And, I learned that Purex plus Oxi is hypoallergenic as well - I have no troubles to report with any reactions from my little ones' sensitive skin, and no complaints from the family about our nice-smelling laundry.

The detergent has Oxi in it, which is an enzyme-based stain remover - great for *ahem* organic stains (if you have a baby, you'll know what I mean). It also has Zout stain remover. Together they have managed to get our worst stains out and leave our clothes bright and clean. You can even use it as a pre-treater on really tough stains if you're so inclined (personally, I'm much too lazy - no, BUSY - to pre-treat...).

From apprehensive to converted - now that I've tried it, I wouldn't hesitate to buy this at the store in place of what I have been using.

The lovely folks at Purex plus Oxi have given me some coupons for a FREE bottle to give to my readers! Enter on the Rafflecopter form below (coupons are good in Canada only).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purex provided me with a sample of Purex plus Oxi detergent in exchange for a product review. However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Family Photos and some great promos at Sears #SearsBabysRoom (Giveaway!)

Growing up, my family never had professional portraits taken (other than school photos for me). My mum was the family photographer, and thus was rarely in the pictures. I don't miss having stilted photos with fake backdrops (though those do get funnier as the years go by) - I loved her candid shots of our family. However, I do dearly wish we had a few of us all together.

Fast forward to now, and I am the family photographer, and thus am rarely in the pictures. I think I need to make more of an effort to get other hands on the camera, so that I can be in pictures with the kids (other than selfies!) - and maybe a few studio portraits are in our future.

Sears has an upcoming special in the portrait studio - from October 25th to November 7th, when you spend $50 or more on kids' fashions, you get a FREE photo shoot at Sears Portrait Studio and 10 FREE personalized photo greeting cards! You can book your session any time between October 25th to December 13th to have it done! So, pick out your photo-ready outfits for the kids and get to posing! I love it... I'm thinking family Christmas cards!

Lucky us, Sears is giving one of my readers one of these photo sessions and the greeting cards! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Then keep reading to find out about KidsBucks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As you may know, Baby Days is also coming up at Sears from October 11-31 - that's 20% off everything baby! And there's a fabulous KidsBucks promotion going on as well. For every $40 you spend on kids' clothing, toys, children's furniture - basically any kids' stuff (except Carters/Osh Kosh, footwear and things with a price ending in .97) - you get $10 in KidsBucks which you can spend between November 1-12. This is good in stores and online, too! Hello, Christmas shopping!

I'm a bigger and bigger fan of Sears the more I learn about it... I always knew about the store, but I am realizing more and more they have great promotions and great brands. It's now one of my go-to stores for sure! I hope you are able to take advantage of some of these offers!

Disclosure: I am part of the SearsThe 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.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Yes, I know my baby's crying.

It happens every week. A morning grocery trip turns into a spectacle as my three-month-old son screams. I know you've seen and heard babies crying at the store before. Maybe you're a parent and you've been there. Maybe you're not and you think you have something to offer.

I've had comments of all sorts from people who surely mean well and aren't implying that I don't know why he's crying or what to do about it.

Believe me, I KNOW he's crying. I do.

I've had people offer to unload my groceries onto the conveyor, pack my bags, random offers of help like that.  That's kind - and sometimes I do take people up on it - if it's gotten to the point where he's so upset I need to take him out of his car seat and bounce him to soothe him.Then, I don't have enough arms to get us out of there fast and hold him and unload groceries.

I've had the dirty looks too - like I'm a terrible mother for "letting" him cry and not doing something about it immediately. Or maybe it's for the way he's interrupting their blissful grocery shopping trance.  Or conflicts with their idea of what a mother should be doing.

Here's what I am actually doing:

I'm buying food to feed my family, just like you. I happen to like spending time with my husband on evenings and weekends, so weekdays it is. Afternoons are nap time for my toddler, so I'm there in the morning. I need to get out of the house and see adults - even if the only adult conversation I have all day long is a mundane exchange with the cashier.

You'll see me hastily shoving groceries into my cart as we make our way through the store, trying to get everything on our list while comparing prices and using coupons as I try to also save money for my family. You'll hear me talking to him, trying to reassure him that we're almost finished. You'll hear me asking my toddler to sing to him and make funny sounds to try to flip his mood. And you'll see the stressed-out look on my face as I try to manage a heavy cart, my coupons, my purse, my toddler and this crying baby. 

I'm making silly sounds. I've even nursed while shopping - one arm full of baby, one arm wrangling a big and awkward grocery cart down the aisles. So sorry if I got in your way.

And here's why he's crying:

He's tired. He naps in the morning, and while ideally he would sleep through a grocery trip, the store is so big that it takes me a while to get through it, especially with a toddler who is curious about everything she sees. I've taken the time to talk to her and answer her questions as we shop, showing her interesting vegetables, and discussing where food comes from, and the different kinds of things we eat, and how we try to save money with coupons and sales, and answering a thousand "Why?"s. Perhaps I should do that at home to speed up the trip. But, then how could she touch a dragonfruit, or wrinkle her nose at the spices? How could she see the crabs and lobsters in their tanks? Would we get into a random discussion about coconut jelly? So, I cross my fingers and hope he'll sleep most of the trip, that the motion of the cart will lull him to sleep and nobody drops a can or my little girl doesn't poke him awake.

He's hungry. Although I always nurse him before we leave the house, he's a little guy and he eats often. So I can bust the boob and try to steer the cart (near impossible, tried it, had the awkward convo-while-nursing with the bakery staff); I can steer my full cart back across the giant store to spend twenty  minutes sitting in the pharmacy waiting area and nurse him while attempting to entertain a bored and hungry two-and-a-half-year-old with a pen and a brochure (done it). Or I can rush through the check-out line - inevitably busy - while he cries loudly - and nurse him in the passenger seat in the parking lot, while my daughter reads one of her books in the back (that's what I usually do).

He's hot. Car seats just are hot. My daughter was always sweaty in hers, and he's no different. I can't do anything about that. Carrying him throughout the trip is just not on - he's too heavy, and it's too awkward. He can't sit up on his own yet. So while I can take off his blanket, I can't really solve the problem any other way. He's got to be in there. Yes, I will pull him out and bounce him in the parking lot before buckling him back in and driving away.

He's ill. My healthy looking, chubby and mostly happy little guy has tummy troubles. We've got a specialist, and we're giving him medicine for it. But the medicine doesn't completely solve the problem, and it's at home as it's a big bottle and needs to be measured out. I can't bring it in my purse. So if that's the trouble, he'll just have to wait until we're home. Home is less than 10 minutes from the store. And you can bet if that's what's wrong, I know - I can tell by his cry - and I'll be the one standing in the bathroom in the dark with the fan on, bouncing him and holding him up with his head back, the only combination of things that will eventually calm him down.

So yes, I know he's crying. Yes, I know why. Yes, I know what to do about it. One of the best things I can do is get out of there fast - but I still need to finish the job. Because we need to eat too. So if you don't mind - just be nice, don't say anything and trap me in a polite but unwelcome conversation, smile, and... get out of my way :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nursing Pad Showdown

Last time I was nursing, I used a combination of disposable Lansinoh pads and washable pads. This time around, I am still using my washable pads at night and disposables again during the day, especially when out and about.

I'm a big milk producer, apparently, so tend to leak a LOT when I let down. Lucky me. I have been in a mall and had milk soak through a washable pad, bra, shirt, sweater, and a jacket... walking around in public with big dark wet spots on your front is neither comfortable nor attractive! So, pads are a must, and washables don't cut it unless I can change them and/or my shirt in a hurry.

Disposables are expensive. I mean, really... they cost so much more than pantiliners and aren't they pretty much the same thing in a different shape? Perhaps it's a demand thing. Anyway, I decided to try out some different kinds as I found that Lansinoh are pretty much at the top of the price scale.

Here's what I've learned so far.

For comparison, I've tried out Medela, Lansinoh and Johnson & Johnson disposable pads so far. Here are the pros and cons of each:

Pros: Come individually packaged, which is great for tossing in your purse. Cheaper than Lansinoh at around $10 a box of 60. Thin, so not as apparent under your shirt.

Cons: Individual packaging means they're more wasteful. I find the packaging difficult to open. There is an "open here" arrow that points to the side of the package, yet they rip most easily down the middle. The wrapper is also staticky, so once you tear it open it sticks to your hands. Weird pleats in the shape mean you get lumpy looking boobs. Just one adhesive strip means they shift around a lot, especially as the bra is up and down all day with nursing - and that means they're not always in the right place, and they get more lumpy as they start to break down. The worst thing about these is that they do not keep moisture away from the nipples. On a hot day if you are sweating or if you are leaking at all you will be able to feel moisture on your breasts under the pads. To me that screams bacteria - and I wonder if it's a coincidence that I got mastitis again with these pads. I will never buy these again.

Pros: Come individually packaged, which is great for tossing in your purse. Very absorbent. Two adhesive strips means they stay in place - all day if necessary. Thin, so not as apparent under your shirt. A quick rub seems to smooth out any folds that show.

Cons: The most expensive at around $12+ for a box of 60. Individual packaging means they're more wasteful. The plastic packages are a little tricky to open (but not as bad as the Medela ones).

Just a note here that Lansinoh pads in Canada and the US are slightly different. The US ones are marginally better - packages are easier to open, and the pads are slightly more shapely. I discovered this after using American Lansinoh pads and then buying them here and being a little disappointed about the quality difference.

Johnson & Johnson
Pros: Very thick and absorbent. A single adhesive strip seems to work with these - because they are much more stiff and hold their shape better than the thinner Medela and Lansinoh. Again around $10 for a box of 60.

Cons: What is up with the "nipple" on these? I think it's bizarre! Completely visible under a bra and shirt, it looks like you have erect nipples (and Google is going to bring some strange visitors now I've said that) all day. Weird. Also, the pads are very thick which means they are also quite visible - they are smaller than the other pads, so you have a thick round circle on the front of your boob with a fake nipple on it. They look strange. And to me, already somewhat body-conscious so soon after baby, that's not good at all. No individual packaging means you can't really stick them in your purse unless you tuck them in a sandwich bag or something... and even if protected by a bag, they will get squashed and lose their shape. Then they'd be even more lumpy.

Overall, in my experience, the Lansinoh pads win, hands down. They may cost 20% more but they are worth it. I'm not sure I'll bother trying more brands unless someone recommends them to me. Do you have a favourite nursing pad? Or, one you don't recommend? I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Newborn Nesting {$800 Nursery Giveaway!} with #SearsBabysRoom

For my daughter, I took 9 months to prepare the perfect nursery. From creating a wire alphabet to slip-covering a glider, I was all DIY awesomeness. Take a photo tour of her nursery here! Seriously, check it out. I am proud of it - I loved everything about it.

Then, we moved. And while the stuff came with us, the light in the nursery is different (Calgary light is so different from Toronto light!), the floor is beige carpet and not warm maple, the walls are painted mud brown (by the previous homeowner). It's just not the same.

Mia's just moved up to her Big Girl Room this past weekend (more on that later!), and now it's my task to make the nursery perfect for our little guy. He's still co-sleeping with me, but soon will need to move into his own room. And, a lot of Mia's stuff of course goes with her to her new room. So I am doing newborn nesting all over again!

Lucky for me, Sears is having a Newborn Nesting event from September 8-16 (isn't that timely!). Last month we had the big kids' sale with the Back to School event, and this month our littlest family members give us a chance to save! Here's the deal: Buy anything baby, from gear to furniture and even baby clothes (not including Carters and Osh Kosh, aw!), and get a cash card as follows:
Spend $200 and get a $25 cash card, $300 for a $50 cash card, and $400 to get $100 cash card! The cash cards are just like gift cards that you can redeem between October 7-31*.
*this offer excludes Vancouver. Vancouver gets a 15% off sale on everything baby instead! 
So for Dexter's nursery, I am thinking the palest blue paint to brighten up the walls, and lots of bright lamps as well as curtains.

I love this wardrobe/dresser too! I wish we had room for it! 

We do have a lot of Mia's baby stuff still - some of the crucial newborn things, like a bath seat, change pad, swaddling wraps, and carriers, we held on to. The one thing I had to buy another of at Sears? A Cloud B Sleep Sheep (read my initial review of the Cloud B Sleep Sheep from over two years ago!). Mia still uses hers nightly, and it's so awesome that I bought another just like it for Dexter.
colours brought in with books, toys, and art. He might just need some new

And now for the wonderful news you've been waiting for: 

Sears is generously giving one reader across the Sears Baby's Room bloggers a complete three piece Stork Craft nursery set valued at $800! It includes a crib, change table and side table/chest for storage. You can enter across any of the participating blogs, but there will be only one winner. This giveaway is for Canadians only (sorry - no Quebec :( )!  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below by September 15th to enter! Good luck!!!

For your comment entry, tell me what one thing you *need* to get for baby, or always recommend to new mums?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Life with two

I haven't been posting that much lately, I know! With a busy - very busy - two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and with this little guy who just turned two months, I'm not finding much time to myself these days. They decline to sleep at the same times, so I'm awake pretty much always.

Dexter is adorable, and very sweet - when he's not being colicky, which is often. There's a lot of crying. He strongly (and vocally) prefers to be held upright, with his head leaned way back, and bounced, with the bathroom fan on. All at once, and immediately, as soon as it occurs to him that that's not happening at any particular moment. So I spend a lot of time standing, swaying and bouncing in a dark bathroom with the fan on.

My daughter is adjusting fairly well, no real jealousy, but there are a lot more tantrums, and she is usually seeking the attention she used to get, which I just can't give her. I'm always saying, "Not just now, honey, I'm nursing/changing/bouncing/holding Dexter" and I can see the disappointment in her eyes. It is frustrating for both of us. I feel like our connection is not as strong as it once was, and I miss my time with her alone.

Me, I'm holding up - but lack of sleep is definitely making life difficult. I have no energy and find myself irritable and tearful much too often. PPD or just exhaustion? It's hard to tell. Anyway, I'm sure I will get back to more regular posts as things get easier. (They'll get easier, right? RIGHT?!?)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School with Sears (giveaway alert!) #SearsBabysRoom

Back to school at Sears
My kids are still too little to experience the joy of going back to school, but I remember it with delight! I always loved the fall and return to school - the excitement of seeing old friends and making new ones, the anticipation of who was going to be in my class, and of course the new clothes and school supplies! Nothing beats a new pencil case full of sharp new pencils and a fresh pink eraser.

I wonder if our kids will know that pleasure, with technology in the schools?

Anyway, that anticipation and excited feeling is so strongly associated with fall for me that I have never gotten over. I looooooove me some back to school fall shopping.

So with the only somewhat fictional excuse of the rapid rate of child growth and the need for new fall clothes, I was happy to do some "back to school" shopping at Sears for the kiddos.

 Our little guy scored a super cute outfit from the Carters section of The Baby's Room at Sears.

This three-piece set came with a sweet stripey onesie in cerulean and white, and the grey hoodie and pants. I adore the little hoodie - it has a turtle on the front, and a plastic zipper with a soft fabric pull (it boggles my mind that some companies put metal zippers on kids' clothes).

It's super soft, and I like the jersey weight for the hoodie - not heavy like a sweater, more like a t-shirt fabric - which I think makes it more versatile. It is perfect for a cool summer morning and for all-day wear in the fall.
Mia chose her own outfit, as usual. (I did manage to talk her out of a purple, orange and pink combination that was painful to look at!). She chose a Nevada long-sleeved shirt and some fabulous sparkly pink Osh Kosh leggings.

The shirt is a size up, so she's wearing it like a dress. I'm sure I'm not the only one who buys clothes one size up - you know they're going to fit for longer, right?! It's super cute, grey with tiny pink zebras (which she insists are horses) and polka dots.  The leggings are also the next size up, so she's got room to grow.

Another awesome thing about shopping at Sears - besides the prices (and price match guarantee), brand names, and the selection - is their Kidvantage Lifetime Wearout Warranty. That means if your kid wears out his or her clothing or shoes before outgrowing it, Sears will replace it (with your original receipt). Cool!

You also NEED to know about the great giveaway Sears has for the season: the "Back We Go" contest on Facebook. With 35 daily $50 Sears gift cards and five weekly draws for $500 in gift cards! What an awesome back to school shopping spree that would be! The contest runs until September 5th.

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.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Staples - office supply bliss!

I am thrilled to be working with Staples Canada! I had the opportunity to visit my local Staples store here in Calgary after doing some virtual shopping online. Between the two I think I have managed to see just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the sheer number and variety of office supplies they offer.

Here are some of the fruits of my shopping excursion:

When you think of Staples you might think of the standard office supplies. Things like printer paper, pens and markers, scissors, tape and mailing labels.

Well, of course they have all that (and more... think of an office supply and you will find it there). I remember working in an office years ago, and being the person who ordered office supplies. Whenever we needed something specific, Staples was the solution to our problem.

As a small business owner myself, I know I can count on Staples to have what I need - if I run down the road 5 minutes to the actual store, or do anytime shopping online. So YES, you will find the office supplies you need at Staples.

But there is a lot more fun stuff in the office supply category as well! Did you know they carry the Martha Stewart line of office organizing tools and supplies? I got these great vertical files from that line to replace my shamefully battered, cheap-looking and falling-apart old ones (see picture).

Yeah. I needed those!

Our office looks a LOT more organized and tidy now that we're not storing the files we need handy in cheapo cardboard vertical files. The Martha Stewart ones have cute little labels and are a pretty faux leather. They're extremely sturdy and I know these will last ages and still look good.

This picture from Staples Canada
I was totally crushing on the Martha Stewart wall organizer - but I wasn't sure it would fit in our yet-to-be-renovated laundry/mud room, where I'd want to put it as a catch-all and reminder station.

It is modular, so you can pick and choose what format and functions you want - white board, chalk board, bulletin board, shelves and containers and so on! Is that not awesome?! Maybe once we get that room finished (sometime soon I hope... having an unfinished laundry room is making me crazy!) I will pick it up!

One of the things that has been on my wish list for AGES - I mean, YEARS - has been a label printer. They have gotten a lot more awesome in the years since I first saw them (remember those old ones that pressed raised letters into a plastic strip?).

I finally got this amazing Brother label printer. LOVE. Okay, it's pink and I have to say the "cutesy" design is not really my style - it's sold as a scrapbook labeller and I'm not a scrapbooker at all (though I do appreciate the acid-free labels). But it is so cool. It's really easy to use and I may just have to label everything, everywhere.

I started with some new durable plastic report covers with lots of pockets that I got to hold the kids' medical info. I'm always hiking it to appointments with them and these will make it easier to store and organize all the paperwork that goes along with that.

Next, I think the linen closet and kitchen need some labels.... hey, it's not just for offices!

The final thing on my list was something to keep my two-year-old occupied while I play with my new labeller. Okay, I admit it: I love shopping for art supplies for her. I love watching her explore and discover her creativity.

Staples has loads of art supplies! I picked up some washable paints, a pad of blank paper and some pipe cleaners for her to play with. Hours of fun!

So that was what was in my basket at Staples. It was so fun and easy to find what I was looking for. I love things to be neat and tidy, so it was also inspiring to see all the different tools to get organized in the office and elsewhere.

One last thing. This week I sold a painting (yay!) and we decided to get a new tablet for me to use. I settled on the Google Nexus 7 2nd generation after some research. And guess who had it in stock - Staples! So I picked one of those up as well. Lucky me! I really like it!

Disclosure: I received products to review from Staples Canada. My opinions are my own and honest, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A safe and happy bath time with JOHNSON’S® NATURAL®

When we first started trying to conceive, years ago, I made a very conscious effort to rid my life of unnecessary chemicals. Products with parabens and phthalates were among the first on my "toss" list as I cleared out my cupboards. (Read more about why this is important for your health, and check out this fantastic - and scary - video as well)

I found that purchasing natural products made me feel better and more informed about what I was using on my body, but it also can be expensive and tricky to track down products that fit the bill.

Since I've had children, my views on ingredients in skin care products hasn't changed one bit - but I am happy to discover that there are some options for our little ones that are widely available, 97-99% natural, and paraben-, dye-, and phthalate-free: JOHNSON’S® NATURAL® Baby line.

We have been testing out these products for a couple weeks and I'm happy to say I like them.

The JOHNSON’S® NATURAL® Baby Shampoo is lightly scented (not that - sorry, but - nasty baby powder smell, either), and foams up quickly and well for good coverage of little heads. I use it on my two-year-old with her mid-back length hair as well as on my one-month-old with his 1cm of fuzz. I find it quite liquid, which makes it easy to spread out in a hurry. I emphasize the time aspect because the baby haaaates bath time for now, and getting his hair washed and clean fast is important!

 The JOHNSON’S® HEAD‐TO‐TOE®   Body Wash is also very lightly scented (the scent on both these products fades fast, I find). I appreciate not being overwhelmed by scent. It is great to use on a baby washcloth, getting nice and bubbly without using a ton of it.

The last product we are trying out is the JOHNSON’S® NATURAL® Baby Lotion. Of all three, this is the one I was least impressed by. The lotion smells lightly, and smooths on easily. It has a nice consistency, not too thick or thin. However, I feel like it goes on well but doesn't seem to absorb or do as good a job moisturizing as I would have hoped. My baby has some dry skin - nothing serious, not eczema or anything like that - but the lotion didn't seem to help that much with it. I do like this lotion for baby massage, though, as it's nice and light and slippery! 

Bath time for my daughter is a pleasure - she loves the water and would happily play in the tub for hours, playing with her water toys if we'd let her! She's not crazy about the practical aspects of it - hair washing, for example - but is thrilled to show off her burgeoning swimming skills by doing back floats and blowing bubbles with her face in the water.

Bath time for my son is a different story. He's still too little to really enjoy it, and mainly we try to minimize his discomfort by getting through it as fast as we can! He sits in his bath seat while we keep pouring warm water over him and get him washed and rinsed quickly. Draping a warm, wet washcloth over his body helps a little. The best part of his bath time is the cosy towel snuggles and his sweet fuzzy head after!
Disclosure: Product provided as promotional consideration to Emily's Latest by Johnson & Johnson Inc.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

You look amazing!

There have been a couple instances recently when I've seen someone who just looks awesome. I mean, a stranger, who clearly has her act together. (Me, I'm just working on getting back into my pre-pregnancy clothes.)

Two times in particular I have almost said something but stopped because I thought it might be weird. Wish I had, though - because I know when someone pays me a compliment it really makes my day.

So -
to the girl at Chinook mall whose scarf perfectly matched the brilliant colour in her hair, who reminded me of myself as a teenager -
and to the woman coming out of the C-train Stampede station with her family on Sunday, with long dark hair and an olive jersey maxi dress -
you look amazing! Wish I had the wherewithal to pull myself together the way you did that day.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Get Outdoors (and a discount code!)! #SearsBabysRoom

Finally! Finally! Summer has reached Calgary (along with some wild flooding which this city's still recovering from). While I'm a little house-bound with a cluster-feeding three-week-old (ugh!), my toddler is ready to go!

Luckily the great outdoors is a lovely place to be, especially since we just had the lawn re-graded and sodded, getting rid of some terrible landscaping left over from the previous owners. And as long as we stay in the sunshine (sunscreened up, of course), the plague of mosquitoes mainly keeps away.

Outdoor play means outdoor toys. We love playing with bubbles, picking dandelions, pouring water and a "balance beam" made of a 2x4, but there are a few outdoor toys that I am crushing on on Mia's behalf.

We do have a Plasmart Plasmabike which Mia has been using in the basement all winter. I'm not sure if we will continue to use that as an indoor toy or bring it outdoors. It's so great on the tile floors downstairs, and we don't have a sidewalk in front of our house; just a sloped, bumpy aggregate driveway, so it would be a little tricky to ride out there unless we go on the road. We're on a quiet court, but who wants to take that chance?

Besides that, I would love for her to have the Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon Waterpark. I think she'd get an enormous amount of pleasure out of a sand and water play table, and this looks like a really fun one.

Photo from sears.ca

Can you imagine getting this Little Tykes Rocky Mountain River Race Inflatable Playset for your kids?  It's enormous! I think it would fit in our back yard, but there wouldn't be room for much else! It would definitely be a neighbourhood attraction! I think I would have been in heaven if I'd had that as a kid!
Photo from sears.ca
If you are in the market for some great outdoor toys (or any other toys!), I have an exclusive discount code for you to use at sears.ca! The code is 941612912. The offer is 20% off all regular price toys on Sears.ca, valid from July 12 (tomorrow) until July 18 (next Thursday).

Happy shopping!

 “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.”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Meet the new baby, and an interview with Dad #SearsBabysRoom

I'm thrilled to say - our new little baby is here! We are thrilled to welcome Dexter to the family, born Tuesday morning. At just shy of 39 weeks along, he was 8 lbs, 5 oz and 21" - a solid 90th percentile baby. So far, so good! 

Mia's proud to be a big sister, though it is hard on her to have to share our attention. Although we did our best to prepare her, it's got to be a hard concept to grasp for a toddler before a new baby actually comes. I think he's much less fun, and taking up much more Mummy and Daddy time than she expected. 

Here she is holding him for the very first time Tuesday afternoon!
And here's my husband, what a proud Daddy he is! I love this photo - everyone smiling (okay, Dexter was sleeping) and happy. Mia's cuddled up right next to her Dad, and Dad's holding on tight to his newborn son. Cadbury, our 9-year-old chocolate lab, was pretty excited too - he's great with littles though was a little anxious about us being gone overnight! What a great first day for our little guy.

I asked him what his favourite part of being a Dad was, and here's what he had to say: "Watching our kids learn is pretty cool." Definitely! It is amazing to see how they process new experiences.

He also had some tips to pass on. Baby #2 has got to be easier than Baby #1, right? Even though they all come with individual challenges, you kind of know what to expect in general. So here are some Dad tips from Dexter's Daddy:
  • Hold that baby! Babies love to be held and it doesn't always have to be Mum - the heat, heartbeat, movement and cuddles from Dad are great for soothing little one. 
  • You get used to poop. Yeah, you never thought you would - but eventually (and with babies pooping all the time, that 'eventually' comes pretty quick) you have seen so much poop that another one just doesn't faze you. 
  • Let Mum get some rest when you can help out that way. Seriously, happy Mama = happy family - and an exhausted Mum means grumpy Mum, kids who are clamoring for attention and unhappy babies (not to mention a Mum who's too tired is not going to accomplish those tasks that used to be priorities, like cleaning, laundry and cooking!).
I know Father's Day is technically over - but is there really a day as a parent when you're "off"? Not in my mind! So if you're thinking of picking up a little treat for Dad (or, hey, for yourself), check out Sears Days - on now until June 23rd, at Sears Canada locations and online at sears.ca which includes brands in The Baby's Room. Spend $50 between June 21-23 and get $10 in Sears Bucks to spend on your next purchase between June 24-27. Also - free shipping almost anywhere in Canada until the 23rd!! See in store for more details!

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.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm having a baby!

Well, my water broke 19 hours ago and aside from some irregular contractions, labour is not really coming on. If things don't get going on their own overnight, I will be induced tomorrow. Either way, get ready to meet Baby #2!

Of course, that means I may be a bit later on getting the winner picked and contacted for the International Delight giveaway! Bear with me! It will be done :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fibre 1 Almond & Cluster Delight Cereal Review and #freebie! #Fibre1ACD

This one's for everyone, but all you pregnant ladies, pay special attention! As any pregnant mama knows, fibre is so important in your diet. It's important ALL the time, but so much more so when you're pregnant, as your system slows down and slowed down digestive systems mean... well, let's just say it's not good. So including sources of high fibre every day will keep you feeling healthy!

One of my favourite ways to add a bit more fibre into my daily meals is with Fibre 1 cereal. I've been a big fan since pregnancy #1, when I realized that one bowl of this cereal contained 40% (!!) of my daily recommended fibre intake. Not only that, but it's not the dry, cardboardy flakes you might think of when you think of a cereal that is rich in fibre. It's actually super yummy! I was a convert with my first bowl years ago.

Actually, I have a funny story about it. I was out at a cabin with a bunch of friends, and we were doing the grocery shopping for the week. While picking out the cereal, one of the guys suggested Fibre 1. He'd tried it before so knew it was good stuff. A few of the others scoffed, thinking it was a cereal for "old people" or something (what?). Well, I was enthusiastically on board and together we convinced the crew that was the cereal for the week. Guess what? That box disappeared in a hurry and I think once realizing the taste and health benefits we had some converts!

So to see a new version of Fibre 1 arrive on the shelves is exciting for my breakfast routine! I was given the chance to try a box of the new Almond and Cluster Delight before it even hit the grocery stores, and I am happy to report that it is just as delicious as the other varieties. It's just sweet enough, and has loads of almond slices (good for your heart!) as well for an extra boost of healthy protein.

And just as a little bonus, there are some coupons for FREE BOXES available on the General Mills  Life Made Delicious Facebook page! Um, awesome! These special coupons (Canada) are one-day freebies where you can get a box of either the new Fibre 1 or new Honey Nut Cheerios Hearty Oat Crunch cereals on July 16th, and then on the 23rd, choose a free box from five more new and different products including Fibre 1 Protein bars that look so good! These coupons are available through June 25th. So go on and hook yourself up with some free groceries and try some healthy new products while you're at it. :)

Disclosure – I am participating in the Fibre 1 Almond & Cluster Delight Cereal blogger campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

International Delight Iced Coffee review & giveaway!

I confess, I'm a coffee addict. Even after switching to decaf with my first pregnancy four years ago, I still need my "fix" of hot coffee every morning, and definitely have a mid-afternoon craving for iced coffee every day.

I used to be that person who would drop five bucks here and there at the coffee shop on an iced coffee - always feeling a little guilty about the spend, but so strong was my desire for the luxury of an iced coffee that I justified it to myself.  This is nothing to be proud of, but my daughter is even quite aware of the big green sign that means a yummy coffee for Mummy and a "'Nilla One" (Kids' French Vanilla Creme) for her!

Talk about an expensive habit.

However, thanks to BzzAgent, I have discovered a new way to satisfy my craving for a good iced coffee without spending a fortune!! I was lucky to be selected for the International Delight Iced Coffee campaign, which meant I got to try out their new delicious coffees for free. It comes in Vanilla, Caramel Macchiato (my personal favourite), and Mocha.

These are available at the grocery store at about $5 for a 1.89L carton. Compare that to the $5.67 for a single 16oz (0.47L) "grande" drink at my favourite coffee shop, and there's really no contest in terms of price. Especially if, like me, you pour it over ice and top up with milk - the flavour is strong enough to take a little extra milk, although it's ready to drink as is - it's WAY cheaper.

But, what about the taste? Well, I'm happy to report that I like International Delight's version just as much as the pricey coffee shop version. I'm a bit of a coffee snob, so hopefully that means something.

This savings-conscious mama loves her little luxuries, but if I can save on them, even better. An extra $5 on my grocery bill that ends up saving me $25 or more on iced coffees is a no-brainer! I will definitely be buying this product again and can happily recommend it to you!

Best of all, I have a free product coupon that I would like to share with a lucky Canadian reader.  Feel free to enter the giveaway below and I'll mail it to the winner! Please note, the coupon is only good in Canada, and baby #2 is due on June 20th so I may need some leeway on the end date/mailing date :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Building a fort

Sometimes I'm just exhausted, and today's one of those days. Between a kicking toddler who was determined to "sleep" in my bed last night (and wakes without fail at 6am), the kicking baby in my belly, having to pee every two hours and getting those nasty pregnancy middle-of-the-night leg cramps, I got about two hours of sleep.

Mia, despite her roly-poly sleep (including falling out of bed once), is full of BEANS today!

I am trying to keep her entertained with (I confess) a bare minimum of effort from me. Watercolours worked for a while, and now we are building forts with the cushions from our patio set. The velcro tabs that are meant to keep them on the chairs make great attachment points to make a little house!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sears The Baby's Room - a tour for you (and a SALE soon!) #SearsBabysRoom

With one month to go before Baby #2 arrives, I'm really tuned in to baby stuff! That's why I am so thrilled to be part of the Sears The Baby's Room Ambassador program.

I've always shopped at Sears but over the past year have seen a remarkable transformation occur in their baby department. With the introduction of wider aisles, new clothing lines and new products, as well as attention to detail like budget-conscious nursery furniture as well as some fabulous higher-end products, Sears has impressed me lately.

The new and improved Baby's Room at Sears has five departments to meet your baby needs:

The Nursery section has beds and furniture, and decor items such as lamps and mobiles.
What I like about this section:
  • The nursery furniture is set up with bedding, decals, lamps and gliders - so you can get a feel for a complete room. The Sears I visited at SouthCentre Mall in Calgary has 10 little room setups (most Sears locations have 5), so lots of chances to see the furniture in place and try it out. 
  • The gliders come with ottomans - no surprise added cost! 
  • There are LOADS of different furniture options to choose from! And, most come in a variety of colours, so if you like a design but not in white - just ask, it's probably available in a different finish.
  • Most of the cribs are transformable - either into day beds or full beds. Nice to have a crib that grows with your little one!
  • There are lots of glider options, with different designs and movement.
  • The cute bedding often comes complete with wall decals - what a nice touch! And, there are "boy", "girl", and cute gender neutral options. 
  • There's a sign in each little room which breaks down the cost of each furniture item AND provides a room total - so you can see exactly how much it's going to cost you for that setup. 
  • They also have a great nursery monitor selection - lots to choose from!
The Travel section has play pens, car seats, carriers, strollers, and accessories.
 What I like about this section:
  • Again, items are set up so you can examine them. Play pens, strollers, car seats and carriers are all out of boxes and assembled.
  • There are many different options for price point and features in everything!
  • They are now carrying Diono and Brica accessories
  • I was happy to see lots of carrier options. I would have loved to see some more unstructured carriers (think Baby K'tan, Boba, or sling carriers), but it is nice to see babywearing featured at a national retailer!
The Feeding section has everything you can think of for feeding babies - think bibs, high chairs, bottles, utensils, as well as tools for making your own baby food.

What I liked here:
  • Seeing fun and cute Boon products!
  • The cute bibs - check out the cowpoke ones in the top row, so cute for Stampede! And the little 'tuxes' - perfect for wedding receptions! Aw! 
  • I was interested to see they carry baby blenders and even yogourt makers! It looks like these products might be discontinued, so watch for some sale prices coming soon!!
 The Bath section has what you need for bathing baby.

What I liked:
  • "Naked" tubs are collapsible, soft-sided, and even come with a hook to hang from the shower. Smart design.
  • Boon frog and whale pods attach to the shower wall and scoop up and store bath toys. Practical and cute! 
  • Lots of cute, fun bath toys as well. 
The Gift section has a good range of gifts for new babies.

 What I liked:
  • Pretty picture frames
  • Lots of stuffies and soft blankets
  • Cloud B products (a favourite of mine), though I didn't see the larger Sleep Sheep and Twilight Turtle there (both on my must-have list for a nursery, we have loved those for our daughter - so much so I bought a second Sleep Sheep for the baby on the way).
  • They also have sleep sacks, another must for babies! The Halo ones are very popular AND what is great about Sears is that they go on sale periodically - for around 25% off!
  • I also loved that they carry reuseable snack bags and wet bags (for those of us who use cloth diapers, a good wet bag is a necessity!). 
They also have needed items like baby gates and bouncy chairs (the new Fisher Price Snuggabye swing and chair are super cute!).

I also can't forget my favourite section: the amazing clothing department. With the recent introduction of Carters and Osh Kosh clothing lines, the cute and well-priced clothing section at Sears just got better. I also love that they have widened the aisles without reducing the selection - there's just less of each item out on the floor. So, you can still see everything, but now you can get your stroller through easily! The bright, fun colours are so appealing and the prices are great.

What I like most about The Baby's Room at Sears is that there is lots of selection, and that the prices are good. Not only that, but Sears has regular sales on that make us budget-conscious parents even happier!

My crushes this time around were on some super sweet little Carters outfits. I can't wait to outfit our little guy in teeny, tiny shorts and shirts :)

What I'd love to see Sears carry next - and they are getting LOADS of new products soon (not that I know what's coming!) - cloth diapers, baby-friendly detergents and cleaning products, and tummy time play mats. I didn't see these things on my tour (though I forgot to ask - next time I will!). 

Now I know you are all excited for details of the SALE coming up! To celebrate the one-year anniversary of The Baby's Room, Sears is having a big sale from May 24th to June 5th! What to keep an eye out for: big discounts on product lines they are discontinuing to make room for new stuff, including bedding, feeding equipment and bright and colourful Sassy baby toys! Mark your calendars (I have) to visit while the deals are great!

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.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I love my little girl. I love her SO MUCH. And lately, I feel like the world is against her in ways she can't imagine (and I wish nobody else could, either).

I remember hearing when I first got pregnant with her, "When you have a little boy,  you only worry about one penis. With a little girl, you worry about ALL of them!"

Cute, right? It's a joke, right? Yeah. Right. Cute. Funny.

Except... not really.

Because penises, while they can be fun, can also be weapons. They can be used to intimidate, to demean, to hurt. They can turn your life upside down in an instant and change you from a confident person into a fearful one. Into a victim.

You can't really say that about vaginas.

I guess reading in the news last week that a five year old girl in India died of injuries sustained during a rape, then this week about those poor women in Cleveland, held and repeatedly raped for a decade, really affected me.

I can't imagine how horrible their experiences were. And I know that these few stories are just drops in the ocean of abuses towards women worldwide. I've had my own experience with rape. As awful as that was, it doesn't compare to the horror that poor child, and those poor girls went through. Or the misery, pain and terror that other women and children are going through every hour of every day, somewhere.

I weep for them. I hurt inside thinking that something so awful and cruel could happen. To a child. To a young woman. To anyone.

And I am terrified for my own daughter - that she will grow up too trusting and become a victim. That she will not trust anyone and live a closed-off life. That there is no safe zone, there is no avoiding the random, there is no possible way to tell who is going to be a "Bad Guy" in the worst, most evil sense of the term.

 The thought of something awful happening to her makes my heart stop, my gut clench, my adrenaline rush and my arms want to hold her close to me forever and never let her go. It's not fair for me to have this worry for her. It's not fair for me to want to keep her tight to me when she has the right to explore, to range, to wonder at the world in complete freedom from fear.

I hope that when we add our boy to this world in a few weeks, we'll be adding one more Good Guy to the mix. Helping to tip the balance towards decency, kindness, and respect. Raising a son that's a helper, a thinker, a boy and a man with a kind and generous soul. We will raise him with love, overflow his cup with love, so he's got lots to share. I hope with all my heart that he can make his partners feel happy, safe and loved in relationships (whether they be male or female). I hope to give him that with the lessons we teach him about how we treat other people. I can't imagine any mother wishing for anything different, really.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Always Infinity put to the test (video review)

As a BzzAgent, I occasionally get to try out new things from companies. This time I was selected for a campaign for Always Infinity - a super thin maxi pad with new Infinicel technology, which can hold up to ten times its weight in liquid! I received free product samples and coupons to try out the Always Infinity pads and thought I'd share with you how I put them to the test in comparison with a regular Always Maxi pad.

Always is one of those tried and true brands for feminine products. This is "my brand" when I'm shopping for pads. And with a baby coming, I'm going to need to stock up. Thank you so much, Mother Nature, for lochia (if there are any guys reading... well, what are you doing reading this far anyway? Weirdo!). I can look forward to a few weeks of constant pad use. So I'm happy to test out a new kind from Always, especially one that is so crazy thin that I won't feel like I'm the one wearing a diaper!

The Infinity samples I received were for heavy flow, and the Always Maxi pad samples were for regular flow - I'm just amazed at how THIN the Infinity pads are in comparison. Check it out - the green wrapped pad is an Infinity pad, the yellow is a regular Maxi pad:

Here's my video review (I don't do videos too often, aside from taping my daughter's antics, so you'll have to excuse sloppy camera work, awkward pauses, and my narration technique!!).

Beautiful days

We've had a recent run of beautiful, sunny and warm days here in Calgary. Unfortunately, my husband has had pneumonia, and I'm uncomfortably pregnant enough that getting out for bike rides or hikes has been impossible.

Our yard is a mess - we're having the ugly stone edging taken out from all the gardens (about 2000 stones that the previous owner put in), and plan to have the whole yard regraded so that water doesn't pool on the lawn and around the foundation.

Luckily, we have a deck off the main floor which we can hang out on. And the best thing about this deck is that it's all walled in, so that I can have the door open from the kitchen, Mia can be out there playing and I know she's safe. 

So the new favourite thing to do is to head out to the deck with bubble solution and bubble wands, or plastic containers of various sizes filled with water (love mess-free activities!). The dog loves it, Mia loves it, and I love it too! Hooray for nice days and going outside! :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Potty Monster

I've done it. I've inadvertently created a potty monster.

Mia's been doing so well with toilet training. She rarely has accidents (once in a while, a pee when she's doing something too exciting to leave, or on waking from a nap). We even had a great success the other day when she told me she had to go the moment we got on the highway - and it was about 10 minutes to the next exit with a store with a bathroom we could rush into - and she made it! I was so proud of her.

She's done great with going in strange places too, like the mall, grocery store, restaurants, and friends' houses. I don't even need to bring her travel potty seat as she has no qualms about sitting on random toilets.

So we praise her, and tell her how proud we are of her. Treats worked as an initial incentive, but she's pretty much forgotten to ask most of the time now, as going on the toilet becomes just another routine.

However - there is a down side that I was not expecting.

I knew finding bathrooms on the fly could be tough. I'm starting to develop a mental map of likely places. I knew I might need to keep a stock of M&M's in my purse for incentive emergencies (and hey, if I sneak one now and then who will know? :) ).

What I didn't know is that all that emphasis on how proud we were of her for peeing when we're out would create a monster. Now, if we are out she needs to go - regardless of how recently she's been.

For instance, today, we did a bathroom trip before we left the house. A five-minute drive later, we were at the restaurant. We were waiting in line for ten minutes (it was busy!) when I hear her little voice pipe up, "I need to use the toilet!" You can't ignore a toddler who needs to pee. They don't have awesome bladder control, and while I keep a spare set of clothes with me, I'm not crazy about carrying around pee-soaked pants.

We abandoned our spot in line and went to find the restroom. "Thank you for telling me," I said to her on the way. Once enthroned, she sat for a moment, faked a "try" and said, "I do nothing. I'm all done!"

Oh, boy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

In the middle of the night

3:38 am.

I hear Mia cry out in her crib from my bedroom - she still only has to make the slightest sound and I wake. In I go. "I peed," she says, sleepily. We've been doing very well with toilet training, and she takes it pretty seriously. About half the time she'll wake and tell me she needs to go before she has, and we make a sleepy trip to the washroom.

So, I get her out of her night diaper and we go "have a try" on the toilet. Nothing happens. My tired girl is falling asleep on the seat. I'm sitting on the bathroom floor, enormous belly and all, also wavering between sleep and waking. We pull up a new diaper, and she reaches out, gives me a big hug and a kiss and says, "You're a nice mummy."

At that moment I forgave her for a million night wakings... I had tears in my eyes as I hugged her back, told her how proud I was of her for trying on the toilet, gave her a big cuddle and put her back in her crib. "Night, Mummy," she says as I stroke her forehead, turn on her ocean sounds, and leave the room.

I lie in bed for the next twenty minutes as the baby in my belly kicks and wiggles. If I get up in the night, so does he - the minute I lie down again. I think about my sweet girl and how she's never said those words to me before. Sure, she's said "I love you", but I've never been sure if that's a mimic response or the real thing.

4:18 am.

I am just drifting back to sleep, finally, when I hear the urgent call from Mia's room. "Mummy! MUMMY!"

I haul my seven-months-pregnant and very tired self once again out of bed and half-stumble, half-lurch into her room.

"What's the matter, Bunny?" 

"I had a little popcorn. I eat it all up. I watch the Croods with Daddy. Night Mummy. Have a good sleep." 

Okay. That one was a lot less worth getting up for....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Our Fisher Price Favourites (and a discount code!) #FPFavourites

 I bet every family you know with kids has something - or many somethings - by Fisher Price. Their classic, fun toys and practical gear are on must-have lists for parents and kids. We certainly have used our share of Fisher Price toys and baby equipment in our family - and will be acquiring more as we head into baby #2, I'm sure!

Our gear favourite - and I mean, I could NOT have gotten along without it, especially as an overwhelmed first-time mum last time - was the Fisher Price Baby Papasan seat.

I'm not even sure this is still available, but it was a LIFESAVER. It allowed me to take a shower (with the seat within view). Go pee. Sit for a few minutes without a baby on me, knowing Mia was safe, secure and comfortable. She napped in it, sat in it, played in it and joined us at the dinner table in it so that we could eat with two hands free. Best. Thing. Ever. Would I have survived the first six months without it? Debatable! I am not sure it's possible to thank my sister in law enough for this one, as it was a gift. I am seriously kicking myself for passing it on to another new mum after Mia outgrew it. Sure, it wouldn't have fit in the car on our jam-packed drive back to Ontario... but it was so awesome... argh!

The current crush in baby seats (and we're going to need one very soon) is the My Little Snugabunny Cradle N Swing.

Music and motion (side to side or head to toe), a moving mobile, and a cute bunny plush... oh, it looks awesome. I like that it's gender neutral as well. And, not hideous - you won't be cringing at the way it clashes with your decor. Some baby seats are just garish, aren't they? Not this one.

One thing I loved about the papasan seat was that it was quite portable - this one, not so much - but it has way more features.

As far as toys go, we are enthusiastic over here about the Little People Animal Sounds Farm. Mia got it for Christmas and it's gotten daily use ever since. Cute little animals and movable parts make for fun farm adventures.

In fact, I decided to leave the batteries out until just a couple of days ago. When I put them in, the new sounds it makes
absolutely delighted her - it's like a new toy!

Seriously, she plays with this every single day.

These are just a couple of the products on the 12 top must-have list for mums that Fisher Price has put together. Here's that list (if you're creating a registry or gift shopping for a tot, take note!):
  1. Ocean Wonders Aquarium
  2. My Little Snugabunny Cradle N Swing 
  3. Infant to Toddler Rocker 
  4. SpaceSaver High Chair 
  5. Discover’n Grow Jumperoo 
  6. Brilliant Basics Rock a Stack 
  7. Laugh & Learn Love to Play Puppy 
  8. Laugh & Learn Say Please Tea Set 
  9. Laugh & Learn Click ‘n Learn Remote 
  10. Brilliant Basics Stroll-Along Walker
  11.  Little People Wheelies Stand ‘ n Play Rampway 
  12. Little People Animal Sounds Farm
Generations of little ones and their parents have loved these products world-wide, and they have passed the test of time (and the test of children... a tough one!).You can read more about the Fisher Price Favourites at this special site they have set up.

Fisher Price and Mom Central are offering an exclusive discount code at Toys R Us for all of the Fisher Price Favourites - to give you 20% off!!! Awesome! Use the code FISHERPRICE20 at Toys R Us until April 30th to receive the discount!

Disclosure: I am part of the Fisher-Price 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.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wean Green review

Let me say right off the bat that this is not a paid review. I wasn't asked to write it at all. I just wanted to share an excellent experience with a company - so rare these days!

Wean Green is a Canadian company that makes air-tight glass containers. They are perfectly sized for snacks, lunches, or even tiny servings of homemade baby food. The lids come in bright, fun colours like raspberry, carrot, pea and blueberry. Cute, right?

I got some of Wean Green's Wean Cubes about 2 years ago. I got them to use for Mia's baby food when she was starting solids. Eight little Wean Cubes have been in heavy rotation in our kitchen ever since - now that she's well past baby food, we use them for salad dressing, snacks for the purse, cut up carrot sticks, and so on. They've been great.

Then, within the last month or so, two things happened. First, one of the clips on one of the lids snapped off. The lid still seals okay; it's just short one clip.

Then, one day I opened the dishwasher to find that one of the Wean Cubes had absolutely shattered in the dishwasher - just on a normal wash, not high heat or anything. Bear in mind, I have been using the dishwasher to clean these all along. I guess this container just finally gave up the ghost. There was glass all through the bottom of the dishwasher. You know, it didn't occur to me that there might be glass slivers on our dishes or cutlery - I didn't even check. Luckily, there seem to have been no ill effects, so I guess we're okay on that front.

Surprised, I contacted the company on their Facebook page just to make sure that they were dishwasher safe (the packaging had been long ago recycled).

Within hours, Wean Green had responded and asked me to send an email to them directly. Their immediate response to my problem was to describe how they have changed their manufacturing (down to moving to a different country for factory production) and improved their products since my Wean Cubes were made. And beyond that, they offered to replace the products I had.

Wait. Let me repeat that one. They offered to replace products that were two years old and well-used, just to ensure a happy customer. They provided a gift code for me to shop on their site - and when I had some technical difficulties, spent time on the phone with me sorting it out and making sure that my order was placed and on its way.

Within a week I had new sets of Wean Green products, which we are happily using already. And I'm also left with a really positive impression of the nice people and a company that stands by their products. I'm so impressed with their level of customer service. I'm thrilled that they have improved on the original products, and wholeheartedly recommend Wean Green to anyone!