Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Pin It Our town has the best policy ever- trick or treating is allowed from 6 to 8 pm. That's it. There is a siren that goes off when you are allowed to begin and another siren goes off at the end.

It is brilliant.

We had a great time tonight with the kids.

Olivia dressed up as a fairy...

Our friend Michelle painted Olivia's face for her- Olivia calls it "paint-facing" :)

She was NOT impressed when she realized how cold it was outside- this is her showing her angst at having to put her coat on and cover up her "fairy shirt"...

Owen-the-ninja and Aiden-the-phantom were good to go though- they just piled on some sweaters underneath their costumes like good Canadian boys.

I eventually managed to convince Olivia that she still looked just as pretty with her coat on- plus it was a lot warmer that way!

We walked around our neighbourhood and then drove over to Grandma's apartment building for one last batch of treats.

Happy Halloween everyone!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Owen's Hexbug Halloween Birthday Party

Pin It Last weekend we finally got the chance to celebrate Owen's 8th birthday. Owen's actual birthday was on October 12... which was unfortunately the same day I was flying to Toronto for Blissdom Canada. But it all worked out because he was thrilled to have a Halloween themed birthday party this year.

Thanks to MomSelect I was sent a HEXBUG Nano Halloween Zombie Party Kit to help make the party especially fun!

The party kit contained:

  • 12 Limited Edition HEXBUG Nano Halloween Zombie bugs
Each limited edition HEXBUG Nano Halloween Zombie will rise to the occasion from its coffin-shaped packaging and a glow in the dark exoskeleton, to make sure kids are happily trick-or-shrieking!
  • 15 Glows in the Dark HEXBUG Nano Galileo Collection bugs
With the Glows in the Dark HEXBUG Nano Galielo Collection fun can come to life during the day or night
  • 2 Glows in the Dark HEXBUG Nano Habitat Sets
This set allows you to create a variety of customizable playgrounds and includes 10 easy to connect pieces!
  • 2 extremely rare glows in the dark HEXBUG Nano mutations
  • 4 easy connect glows in the dark curved pieces
  • 3 easy connect glows in the dark straight pieces
  • 3 easy connect glows in the dark hexagon pieces
  • 1 Glows in the Dark HEXBUG Nano Elevation Habitat Set
This set features a multi-level spiral ramp that rises two levels up, 52 easy connect pieces and 2 rare HEXBUG Nanos
  • Additional batteries (16 two-packs)

Some of you may remember that Owen had a HEXBUG birthday party last year too :). A couple of the kids were at both parties and actually remembered the HEXBUGs from last year and were especially excited to see the new zombie version. They seemed to think that the creepier they were the more fun they were to play with.

We had mostly boys between the ages of 7 and 9 at the party and they absolutely loved the Hexbugs. I gave them all some track, batteries and Hexbugs to take home in their goody bags and this week I heard from 3 of the moms telling me that their boys played with them all week long. One mom told me her son has asked for a whole set for Christmas this year.

We did have a few girls at the party- my 4 year old daughter and a couple 11-12 year old girls that came to the party specifically to play with Olivia. I knew my daughter already loved HEXBUGs but I honestly didn't expect the older girls to pay any attention to them at all. But I was totally wrong. The girls played with them too and were happy to take some home with them.

The boys were all very impressed that the HEXBUG Nano Halloween Zombie bugs came in their very own coffins and that the sets glow in the dark. At one point they were all talking about all the ways they could freak people out with glow in the dark bugs. Typical boys :).

 Everyone had a great time. Here is a video of the kids playing with the HEXBUGs...

I didn't manage to get any good video of the Hexbugs while they were glowing in the dark but this is a great video that So You Think You Can Mom took that shows it perfectly!

( be sure to read about So You Think You Can Mom's Hexbug Nano Halloween Party too)

Thanks so much to MomSelect and HEXBUGs for making my son's birthday party extra cool!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mega Bloks Blok Squad Review

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Guest Review by my husband Doug - all pictures in this post were taken by him as well!

Mega Bloks; Blok Squad, Fire Patrol Rescue | 2422

We received the box of Mega Bloks to review and my oldest boy was particularly excited to put it together. 

Aiden is quite good at putting together building toys and immediately got down to getting it all done.  

I think he quite liked building it.  He certainly liked building it more then posing for photos with the model!

Some of the details that were kind of neat were the extra little tools that the mini figs could use.  

Being a fire truck there was a model power saw, jaws of life, axe, sledge, air tank and a fire extinguisher.  

The instructions were easy for Aiden to follow (he’s nine, so above the +5 rating, and he’s played with this kind of toy lots).  Olivia (age 4) did fairly well but seeing how Aiden was directing the build didn’t get as involved as she might have.  

Both of them enjoyed playing with the models when everything was said and done.  I think this set was well planned.  Two mini figs, eight toy ‘tools’, a large and a small vehicle puts it in the just right category of stuff to play with when the kit it completely finished.  

 *this review is part of a blog tour with Team Mom*

Lunch Box Inspirations

Pin It  I must admit that making lunches is not my favourite thing.

I'm sure you are all shocked to hear that since so many of us moms just LIVE to make school lunches day after day after day after day... right?

Our school has a "balanced day" which means they have two "nutrition breaks" instead of recess- lunch- recess like I had when I was growing up. That means lunches need to contain enough food to cover both breaks.

My daughter is easy to make lunches for. She loves fruit and veggies which makes it a breeze. I simply put two juice boxes and 4 small re-usable containers filled with things like strawberries, cucumbers, blueberries and cherry tomatoes. Then I add in a sandwich of some kind and a small treat like cookies and she is good to go.

My sons are much more difficult. I can send fruits and vegetables with them but they will come home untouched at the end of the day... bruised and icky. Since I really hate wasting food- especially fruit & veggies since they are so darn expensive here all winter long- I no longer send much fresh produce with the boys.

I try to keep their lunches healthy (even though they would prefer me to send junk food). They each get two 100% real juice juice boxes, a package of 100% real fruit fruit bites, a sandwich of some kind made using whole grain breads... but that is not enough to fill their tummies at both breaks. And honestly? They are pretty sick of eating the same things all the time. There is only so many times you can eat a jam sandwich.

In an effort to make lunch a little less boring I have been checking out the ideas on Dempster's Lunchbox Inspirations and I have found a few I am definitely going to try out! I even contributed a couple of ideas to the site :).

Here are a few of my favourite ideas from the site:
- smart and simple lunch idea
- ham and vegetable "sushi"
- "Build their Own" lunch kit

What do you do to keep lunches interesting?

Disclosure – I am participating in the Dempster’s Lunch Box Inspirations program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Dempster’s Canada. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Can Be The Voice #BarbieICanBe

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Today was national "I Can Be" day in Canada. 

I Can Be day was dedicated to inspiring young girls to dream big with help from their mentors. Participating schools had moms come into the classroom and speak about their careers. The idea is to inspire our daughters to be whatever it is the want to be - whether that is a doctor, lawyer, teacher, engineer, stay at home mom (like I was for years) or work at home mom (like I am now).  We want our daughters to be stronger, smarter, happier and more fulfilled!

Established as a podium for girl empowerment, I Can Be The Voiceintends to provide today’s parents with the tools they need to encourage their daughters to be their own best advocates; to help them realize the scope of their inner potential. Here, you’ll find relevant, constructive dialogue around some of the most pertinent issues faced by girls today. Search. Share. Speak your mind. Because every time you find your voice, you help a girl find hers.

I have been blessed to know many inspiring women over the years and I'd like to tell you a quick story about one of them. 

In grade 6 I had a truly amazing teacher. I was a good kid but I was convinced that I was not very smart. I was a thoroughly average student. C's all the way. I was rather shy and terribly nervous. My anxiety levels were just crazy sometimes and I was pretty convinced that I could, in fact, NOT be all I wanted to be. 

One day my mom and my teacher were having a parent-teacher interview and the teacher called me in to join the meeting. 

No word of a lie I thought I would pass out from fright. I was absolutely certain that I had done something terribly wrong or that I was so stupid they were going to make me go back to grade 5 or something equally horrific and life as I knew it was about to end. My stomach filled with dread and I went and sat down with my mom, facing my teacher. 

And what did she do? She smiled. And then she told me I was smart. She told me that she KNEW I could do better because I was intelligent. She told me that I was so smart that I could be getting straight A's. She told me she believed in me and she said it all right in front of my mom!

Now don't get me wrong, my mom had told me all those things about a zillion times... but coming from my teacher somehow made the difference.

It clicked. I got finally got it- I COULD do better! I was smart!

And you know what? From that moment on, for many years, I DID get straight A's. All because that wonderful teacher invested in my life. 

I hope and pray that there will be many women who inspire my daughter throughout her life. I hope that other women will tell my daughter the affirming things I have told her a million times - and that she will HEAR them and believe that she really can be the woman she wants to be. 

I loved playing with Barbie when I was a little girl and my daughter is no different. Olivia loves her Barbie dolls and in fact has asked for a dollhouse for them for her birthday this year. I love that Barbie has evolved over the years to include all sorts of careers. Little girls can see Barbie being everything from a mommy to a veterinarian.

As part of the Barbie I Can Be campaign there is a brand new website called Be The Voice. Each month there will be a new theme and great parenting tips from Canadian Parenting Coach Terry Carson. Being a mom is a tough job and we can use all the help we can get!

Disclosure – I am participating in the Barbie I Can Be campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Mattel Canada.  I received compensation as a thank you for my participation.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

My 5-Year Blog-o-versary!!

Pin It 5 Years ago today, at this very moment I posted my very first blog post ever.

FIVE YEARS!! Can you believe it?

I started this blog when I was on bed rest with my 3rd child. Actually, my husband Doug started it for me. He said I needed somewhere to vent.

And he was so right.

My very first post was called "Parenting Musings" and really that has been the theme of this blog for the entire 5 years.

5 years ago Olivia was a newborn, Owen was 3 and Aiden was 4...

We tried valiantly to take some decent family photos about a month after Olivia was born and this was the best one (snicker)...

I had no idea how much I would love blogging, how much of a support and life line it would become. Through the birth of my daughter,  post partum depression, through my son's Autism diagnosis, through big moves and life changes... so much has happened and through it all this blog has been my sanity.

So I'd like to say a big huge thank-you to the internets for existing and the blogosphere for allowing me to be a part of something so wonderful. You rock.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Shark Boy LINKY

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My Shopping Spree at The Brick

Pin It This past summer I was lucky enough to win a cool contest with The Brick for a $2500 gift certificate to their store.

We were super excited but since we moved this summer and life was just ridiculously chaotic we decided to wait for a bit to spend the credit.

Well we finally did it!

The closest store to us is 4 hours away so we rented a trailer and drove to the big city to spend my winnings!

We had originally thought we would buy new dressers and a coffee table and ottoman to match our living room set and then see how much we had left... but they didn't have the right ottoman in stock and I didn't like the dressers... and a coffee table definitely did not cost $2500!

So instead we got this great Coffee Bean 3 pc TV Wall unit...

with the matching Coffee Bean Cocktail table,

Then we got a massive Toshiba TV to fit into the new wall unit

and surround sound home theatre system.

I gotta say there is nothing better than shopping knowing it is costing you NOTHING.

There is another great contest going on at The Brick right now called Flip it to Win!

They are giving away a ton of stuff right now so be sure to go and enter!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My #BlissdomCanada Experience

Pin It Last week I had the distinct privilege of attending the second annual Blissdom Canada social media conference in Toronto.

I loved it.

I went last year and had a wonderful time but this year I got to experience it from a slightly different angle- this year I was helping out! It was fascinating to see how things happen from behind-the-scenes.
(me with the rest of the organizers & helpers)

It was crazy busy but working with women I adore made it so worthwhile. Plus it helped me to realize just how much work goes into these conferences. It is truly incredible.

It has taken me several days to begin to process all that I experienced and learned while I was there. It was an incredibly FULL few days and I am certain I will be processing it all for several weeks to come.

There were a few major highlights though that stand out and I want to share with you all.

1. There is just nothing better than seeing friends that I have made online in real life. 

These women are intelligent and inspiring and beautiful and all around incredible and even though I knew that already seeing them in person was just really cool.
(Shannon & I)

The friends I have made online are some of my closest and dearest friends. I know many people think you can't have real relationships online but trust me when I tell you that is so not true. @Shasherslife is one of my very best friends and she and I have only seen each other in person for a total of 10 days over the past 5 years.  There women that I talk and work with pretty much daily and we live all over Canada from BC to the Maritimes and it was so fun to actually see each other in person.

2. The social good panel was inspiring and wonderful and totally made me cry.

I loved hearing the panelists stories and hearing about the incredible impact social media can have. The essential message was "use your power for good". We ALL have a sphere of influence and those of us in social media also have a platform we can use to HELP people.

I was already passionate about social good but listening to the panel speak really was inspiring. So inspiring that when I got a phone call this week asking me to volunteer my time as a social media manager for a cause I really believe in I said yes right away.

3. The branding panel moderated by the fabulous Julie Cole was beyond hysterical. 

I laughed from start to finish. But more than just being funny they shared some really great tips that essentially came down to the message "know who you are and who you want to be and be true to that".
(the ladies on the branding panel)

4. I loved the Special Needs Tribe.

During the conference we had the chance to break up into small groups called "tribes". There were tribes in all sorts of categories- everything from being an entrepreneur to food bloggers. I joined the special needs tribe lead by the incredible Tanis of the Redneck Mommy. I adore Tanis. If you don't know her story you really should check out her blog.
(Janice of 5 Minutes for Mom & Tanis of Redneck Mommy)

I'm sure you all know just how amazing it is to be with people who just "get" you. Well that was what it was like for me in the special needs tribe. It was a beautiful thing. We even laughed. A lot. It was good for my soul!

There is so much more than I could ever fit in just one blog post!

I want to thank Satin Woods for the great clothes- if you are a plus size lady be sure to check out their fabulous online boutique. The clothes were super comfortable AND beautiful. The perfect combination. Plus the owner is absolutely delightful.

I also want to thank the sponsors because without them the conference could not have happened!

CBC Live put on a great party.

Kellogg's for the yummy breakfasts and the great dietician at their booth- she gave me some excellent information!

Chevrolet for employing and sending the fabulous @AdriaMacKenzie to the conference and for the awesome shuttle service with fabulous drivers. A special shout out to the amazing drivers who were so kind to laugh with us during our craziness and for not mocking me when I was sure we were all going to die driving downtown Toronto. And also Chevrolet dressed up a car for the costume party and that is just fun.
( the lovely @Beach_Mama posing with the car)

Philips for the fun place to relax and toothbrushing supplies, manicures, massages & coffee.

Fisher-Price for the gifts for the kids and lovely ladies to chat with.

Healthy Choice Gourmet Steamers for the excellent drinks and fun conversation. I seriously loved that I could grab a yummy pina coloda as I rushed by them from one session to another. So cool.

Mabel's Labels ... a fabulous company (run by amazing women) I adore all the time, not just because they put on a great party. But they DO put on a great party :).

PC Financial where I won a gift certificate to a store that doesn't exist in my town yet so I traded with a friend for yummy cookies. It was a good trade. And also who really impressed me with their generosity. My friend Jody @MommyMomentBlog had her phone stolen by the crook who drove her to the conference and PC Financial totally stepped up and gave her an android phone. That was really cool.

Kraft Foods What's Cooking for the fun Halloween themed treats and cookies - yummy!

And of course all the other sponsors who had booths set up for us to visit and/or gave out fun swag during the conference...

Maple Leaf Foods 
Church & Dwight Canada
Step 2
One to One Network
Impressions PR
Generation Seven
Urban Moms
Lisa Leonard Designs
Young Drivers
Visit Orlando
TrueStar Health

I'd also like to do a special shout-out to the amazing manager at the Hilton hotel in downtown Toronto who did a fabulous job making sure everything was great and fixing a small issue we had with our room right away. Wonderful customer service!

Did I mention that Jordan Knight of the New Kids on the Block came to our costume party? Because he totally did. Very brave of him if I do say so myself!
(Cheryl @purplegal78 , Jordan Knight & Ruth @momsmusings)

And finally a big huge thanks to Alli, Barbara, Catherine & Paula for bringing Blissdom to Canada in the first place! Love you ladies!

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