So My Life Isn’t Perfect …. #butIvaccinate.

March 23, 2017

It always amuses me when friends and followers praise me on social media.

“You’re killing it, girl!”
“You’re such a good mom, your boys are so lucky!”
“Wow, everything looks perfect! You’re my inspiration.”

To which, I only have one response:
DSC_0210Photo Caption: HA HA HA HA HA HA.

The truth is, I don’t always discuss my #parentingfails, but trust me, there are many. Like the time I sent my boys to a birthday party – a week too late. Or my inability to remember any of the “special coloured shirt days” at school. Or how about the time I slept through, not one, but TWO alarms and had to usher them off to class a half hour late? (more…)

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Kids Get Arthritis, Too

March 21, 2017

“You’re too young to have arthritis.”
“It’s just growing pains.”
“The arthritis is temporary and can be cured by diet.”

You know the old saying, “Kids say the darndest things?” Well, kids hear the darndest things, too – especially when it comes to their juvenile arthritis (JA) diagnosis. The fact is, most people think of arthritis as an “old persons” disease, but that’s not the case. And, for more than 24,000 Canadian children who live with arthritis, active play can be a challenge.

March is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, and I’m on a mission to help bring awareness and build understanding about the disease.
CAM-2017-kaajal-facebook-ENJuvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease. To put it simply, the immune system goes a little bit haywire and sends out white blood cells to attack the body’s own healthy cells. The result is inflammation in joints, as well as other health issues such as fatigue, rash, vision problems, slow growth or swollen lymph nodes, to name a few.  (more…)

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How Winter Tires Change You

March 9, 2017

Winter tires – they change you.

They change your attitude about the weather. While you’ll still check the forecast, every single day, you’ll no longer stress if the words “5-10cm” flash across the screen.

They change your comfort zone. Suddenly, a 4-hour road trip through winding roads is no longer off-limits; you’ll navigate the terrain, slowly, safely, knowing each tire’s traction with the road is improved.

They change your work habits. You can make it into the office in all types of inclement winter weather. You can get the kids to school, too. When you’re not worried about how you’ll get there, your productivity improves.

However, one thing never changes. It’s the reason you purchased winter tires in the first place. It’s the people they protect; the ones that matter to you most.
_DSC1491 (2)I’ve never thought so much about winter tires. I mean, I’ve always had them; for as long as I can remember, we’ve considered them necessary to safely navigate winter road conditions. However, partnering with Michelin Canada over the past few months has allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding for exactly why they’re so important.

For every Canadian. For every car.  (more…)

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When You Spring into Action… There’s No Stopping Them!

March 2, 2017

Last week, I shared details about the Erin Mills Town Centre “Spring into Action” Sports & Camps Show. If you’ll recall, the single most motivating factor for my own attendance was the convenience of signing up the boys for spring and summer activities – all at one time, all in one place.

We were not disappointed.

With a record exhibitor turnout (the show was packed with 40 vendors!), enthusiastic Mississauga residents had a chance to meet the organizers, ask questions, take advantage of special offers (more on that later!) and most importantly, introduce their children to sports and activities that may not have been on their radar… like fencing! Yes, FENCING!
IMG_4414Here’s why the Erin Mills Town Centre “Spring Into Action” Sports & Camps Show was a success:

1. Easy Access to Information. Every parent craves information, especially when signing up their children for extra-curricular activities. However, it’s safe to say that if you’ve ever tried to navigate a local sports organization’s website… well, it’s not necessarily the most user-friendly experience. So, rather than searching through a list of FAQs, I was able to bring my questions directly to the representatives. It saved time and frustration, and of course, allowed me to get the answers I needed!  (more…)

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Focusing on the Future: Saving for Retirement

February 27, 2017

Friends, I’ve got a plan.

The last time we chatted, I expressed fear over being able to adequately balance my short-term financial obligations with my long-term savings goals. Of course, never one to simply lament and move on, I created an action plan with one clear objective in mind: meet with a financial advisor.

(Of course! Leave it up to the experts!)
jarRecently, I had the opportunity to chat with Simpreet Sivia, Senior Financial Advisor at Scotiabank. And I’ll be honest – discussing my financial triumphs (few) and shortcomings (many) with a stranger is not easy. However, I attended the meeting with an open mind, and by the time we were through:

– I had a better understanding of my current financial situation
– I had a path to help attain my long-term savings goals
– I was better prepared for unexpected life events
– I learned how to work toward the things I’ve always dreamed of  (more…)

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Spring into Action, Mississauga!

February 22, 2017

“Have you signed up the boys for soccer yet?” my husband asks.
“Not yet… I have to find the website,” I reply.
“What about swimming? Skating? Karate? Summer camp?” he continues.
“It’s on my to-do list…” I hedge in response.

The truth is, it’s the bane of my existence. Trying to coordinate multiple activities for multiple kids… while visiting multiple websites (with varying degrees of user-friendliness) over multiple days of the week for multiple months…

Let’s just say it’s not my favourite thing to do.

I think the most frustrating thing about scheduling activities for my boys is the sheer amount of time I spend in the planning stages. I have to decide if they’ll be interested in an activity or sport, research the organization that offers the services I’m looking for, compare dates and schedules, check if the fees fit within my budget… and so on. But the worst part is the very real FOMO I feel when booking a sport or activity – what else is out there? How do I know I’m choosing the right league? What is the newest class or activity they’ll be dying to try out?

Thank goodness for Erin Mills Town Centre ‘Spring into Action’ Sports and Camps Show.
8120_ErinMillSportsCamp2017_24x36_New (2)This fun, family-oriented event takes place on Saturday, February 25th from 10am to 5pm at Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga. Visitors will have the opportunity to ask questions from knowledgeable experts and sign up for sports programs, while enjoying exciting displays, demonstrations, fun interactive activities, a free photo booth and the chance to win great prizes.  (more…)

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Your Road to Retirement: Let’s Chat about Financial Planning

February 15, 2017

I know, I know. The subject makes you want to turn and run, right? You’re not alone – I can think of very few people who actually enjoy the process of dissecting their spending and saving habits. But you know what? It’s truly not as painful as it seems, and today I’m here to show you (nay, convince you) why it’s the perfect time to sit down with a financial advisor. At Scotiabank, they offer this service for free with no minimum balance – so what do you have to lose?

First, let’s look at the calendar. March is creeping up on us! And in advance of the March 1st RRSP contribution deadline, it’s important to uncover where you are with your retirement savings, and where you want to be. Last week, I wasn’t all that certain.

You’ll remember from a previous post, Your Road to Retirement: What are Your Savings Goals for 2017? – I was once a smug saver. Today, I’m not as comfortable – with a brand new home (and brand new mortgage) on the horizon, I’ve been under mild stress (read: panic attacks) trying to figure out if I can afford to save. Rather than trying to crunch the numbers myself, last week, I visited my local Scotiabank branch and sat down with Simpreet Sivia, Senior Financial Advisor.
IMG_4206 (2)Here’s what I learned from my visit.

1. Overcome your fear of financial judgement. I get it. It’s hard to be so transparent with a stranger – even one who’s trying to help you sort through your finances. No one likes to have their spending habits judged; we’re all just trying to do what’s right for ourselves and our families. But the logical first step in the financial planning process is admitting that there’s room for improvement, and then, being open to advice. (more…)

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Questions About Winter Tires? I Have Answers.

January 25, 2017

“Are you sure we need winter tires this year?” my mom asked. “We’re retired. We don’t have to venture out when it snows. We can just stay indoors.”

“My all-season tires are brand new!” my friend lamented. “The tread is fine, trust me.”

“There’s no way I can afford winter tires,” another friend confided. “With the cost of gas, insurance and car payments, I can hardly afford to drive!”

Sound familiar? You may even see your own situation in the answers above. And so rather than lecture you (I’d never do that!) on the importance of winter tires, I’m just here to answer your questions.
20170114_100609a“Are you sure we need winter tires, even if we don’t venture out?”

You probably don’t need winter tires if you *never* have to leave your house when it snows, like, ever. (Frankly, even that is a misconception – winter tires actually begin to work their magic the minute the temperature falls below 7° Celsius.) But what about when you’re already out and it begins to snow? Freshly fallen snow on the roads – before the salt trucks can do their thing – can present dangerous driving hazards. So unless you’re a meteorologist (or are obsessive about checking your local weather channel), chances are you may be faced with inclement driving conditions.

And, do you ever have to leave to pick up a child or grandchild? Go to the doctor or the hospital? Run out for a bag of sugar? You know, those things you don’t plan for, but necessitate leaving the house? Yeah, that happens to me too, which is why I’d rather have the added safety of winter tires.  (more…)

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Let’s Have a Seriously FUN Talk.

January 5, 2017

“Are your kids in any competitive sports?”

It’s a simple question, but one that instantly puts me on the defensive. Because let’s be honest; in the past few years, kids’ sports have become increasingly competitive, to the point where competition – and winning – are the main undercurrents of the program. In fact, while both Ryder and Reid participated in house league soccer for years, we recently pulled Reid from the program.

It’s not a big deal. The team was fine, the coach was fine, but there was definitely an emphasis on winning – a slightly uncomfortable emphasis, if I’m being honest. One day, as I watched Reid, running head down and visibly frustrated, I realized one thing: it wasn’t fun for him anymore.

And kids’ sports are supposed to be FUN.

This past Christmas, both Ryder and Reid received their first pairs of ice skates. I know what you’re thinking – if there’s one sport that has a reputation for competitiveness, it’s hockey. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
McDonald’s Canada believes kids’ hockey should be fun. That’s why they sponsor more than 53,000 Atom and Bantam hockey players across Canada each year. The atoMc Hockey Program provides teams a full set of primary game jerseys and socks, featuring the Hockey Canada logo – the same worn by Canada’s National teams.  (more…)

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This Winter, What are You Willing to Risk?

December 29, 2016

As the sun rises, the tantalizing aroma of freshly brewed coffee fills the air. Reaching for a cup, you glance down at your smartphone, scrolling past the text messages and onto the local weather app. An inclement weather warning flashes across the screen. You peek outside the window, confirming that there is a fresh layer of snow blanketing the ground. You know what you have to do.

You’ll dress your children warmly, adding layers of protection to cover their delicate skin. You’ll start the car and let it idle in the driveway, allowing the interior to warm to a comfortable temperature. You’ll double check the car seats, ensuring they are positioned properly and the harness is snug. You’ll clear the car’s windshield of snow and ice, confirming you have a clear, unobstructed view.

After all, your children are your most precious cargo. You’re not willing to risk their safety.

And then, you’ll slowly ease out of your driveway, ready to merge into the rush of morning traffic. And just like 34% of the other drivers on the road, you’ll do it without the added safety of winter tires.

What are you willing to risk?
15306597_1066604200118142_1272488536519475200_nDespite an overwhelming majority of Canadians indicating that safety outweighs cost when it comes to purchasing winter tires, a recent Michelin survey revealed that more than 1 in 3 Canadian drivers still do not own a set.

Think about it. Think about everything you do to protect your kids, to keep them safe. And if you don’t have children or grandchildren, think about what you would do to protect the ones you know – a niece, a nephew, a student, a friend. Think about what is holding you back from purchasing winter tires for your car.

Think about why you are willing to take the risk.  (more…)

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Travelling with Baby this Winter? Here’s What to Do.

December 22, 2016

Compensation for this post was provided by hydraSense®. Always read and follow the label.

We first travelled with my sons when they were ages 2 and 4 – and since then, they’ve been on an airplane 38 times.

I think we have this “travelling with kids” thing down pat.

Of course, we’ve learned a few lessons along the way! Travelling with children requires a heightened level of planning and organization (if you think it could go wrong, it probably will) and when it comes to vacationing over the winter months, it’s even more important to be prepared.
img_3777-1If you’re planning family travel around the holidays or in the new year, here are a few of my tried and true tips for travelling with young ones!

1. Don’t ignore a runny nose (for too long). I know, we’re told not to run to the doctor for every little thing. But if you’re travelling with young ones, especially in flu season, it’s better to have them checked out at home (or even abroad) to properly diagnose and treat the ailment. In one instance, I ignored the onset of cold systems and decided to fly with the boys, only to have Ryder clutching his ears and howling with pain for the entire flight. We had him checked out when we landed – you guessed it, ear infection. Had I taken him to the doctor before we departed, I could have saved time, money and most importantly, protected him from a painful experience. If you think your child is sick, don’t take chances!  (more…)

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We All Add Up! This Season, Find Your Gratitude Number

December 20, 2016

It’s the last week before Christmas.

If you’re running around, trying to find the perfect gift, I want you to stop. Step back and breathe.
If you’re frantically searching online for the latest gadget or gizmo, walk away from the computer.
If you’re convinced that your tween or teen will have high expectations, relax. Don’t stress.

The truth is, all they want for Christmas is… you.

Put those wallets away! The most popular gift for teens this season doesn’t have a price tag. A new survey from Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada (RMHC) found that what your teen wants most this holiday season is actually closer to home than you think – spending quality time together as a family is the most important thing to teens. And contrary to popular belief, only 1% of teens surveyed said giving gifts ranked high on their must-haves for the holiday.

Does this ring true in your house?

While my boys aren’t teens (yet!), I can still appreciate the feeling of love, comfort and security that comes from knowing my family is close. But this year, 497 families of sick children will rely on a Ronald McDonald House each night to keep them together for the holidays. Tonight, we are grateful to be home, together.
14592080_692171424291970_4687042280492630016_nWhat is your Gratitude Number? Our Gratitude Number helps us give the gift of keeping families close. Simply add up the ages of your family members – then donate that amount to RMHC. It’s a fun and easy way to show your support!

Why RMHC? It’s simple. Did you know that 70% of Canadian families live outside a city with a children’s hospital? So when a child gets sick, they often have to travel hours to get treatment. The 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada give families a place to stay close to the hospital where their child is being treated. And, as a parent, keeping families together at Christmas is very close to my heart.  (more…)

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Put a Bow on It! Canadian Tire’s Top Toys for Christmas

December 16, 2016

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Ho-Ho-How’s that holiday shopping coming along?

If you’re like me, you’ve already put a dent in your to-do list. Parents? Check! Husband? Check! Kids….?? Okay, so I *still* have a little bit of shopping left to do. The thing is, kids are notoriously difficult to shop for, because there are just too many amazing toys to select from!

LEGO or Air Hogs? Dolls or a dream house? NERF Blasters or Micro Machines?

Never fear, friends – I’m here to narrow down the options in the best possible way – by sharing Canadian Tire’s Top Toys for Christmas, straight from Santa’s Workshop!

No, really. I’ve been there.
img_3891It gets better. Last week, I hosted a very special Mom’s Night Out for some of my favourite Toronto influencers! With very special instructions for how to make it to the North Pole (it’s a secret, after all) we gathered for a night of food, girl talk and merriment.  (more…)

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Because When Baby Breathes Better, You’ll Feel Better Too

December 6, 2016

Sponsored by hydraSense®

Just in time for cold season, keep reading for information on hydraSense®, the number one nasal saline brand in Canada for children*. Made with 100 per cent undiluted natural-source seawater that helps reduce and relieve nasal cold symptoms such as nasal congestion to help baby breathe better.
20161106_141738I’ll never forget my baby’s first cold.

He was just over five months old, and one chilly afternoon in fall, it all began with a telltale stream of thin, watery mucus escaping from his sweet little nose.

“Uh oh,” I thought to myself. “Here we go.”

By nightfall, he was fussy, refusing to feed and increasingly congested. It was heartbreaking to watch my baby struggle to breathe through his nose, knowing that as every hour passed, the runny mucus was turning thick and yellow. I don’t think my husband or I slept a wink that night, taking turns walking up and down the hall, soothing him to sleep.  (more…)

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Traditions, New and Old: Ross Petty’s Sleeping Beauty

December 3, 2016

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

I’ll be completely honest, friends. When I was asked if I’d like to attend Ross Petty’s latest production, Sleeping Beauty – The Deliriously Dreamy Family Musical, I had to Google it.

(Please don’t shake your head at me. Clearly I’ve been living under a rock.)

The thing is, when I started asking around, and doing my own little research, I found out that Ross Petty’s annual production is not only a tradition for many, many families each holiday season – it’s also one of Toronto’s longest running theatrical events!
cykdzfxusaarzmnSince 1996, Ross Petty Productions have been producing what they call “Fractured Fairy Tale Musicals” at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre. The shows are firmly in the old English pantomime tradition, incorporating many of that style’s elements — broad comedy, winking asides that break the “fourth wall”, audience participation, and, of course, a man in a dress. (Source) (more…)

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Celebrate the REAL Side of Parenting: #StopCOMPAREnting

November 26, 2016

You do it. I do it. At one time or another, we all do it.

We compare ourselves to other parents – specifically, the filtered, staged and cropped images we see in our social feeds. Even though these images often depict a filtered reality, and not the real picture.

It’s time to #stopCOMPAREnting.

To celebrate the real side of parenting – the one we don’t always see through our social media feeds – QUAKER is calling on Canadian families to join the #stopCOMPAREnting movement and embrace life outside of the square. On Tuesday, November 29th, join us for a very special Twitter Chat.
quaker-masterbrand-promographic-nov28-2Bring your photos and your stories that celebrate the real side of parenting. Look beyond the image and revel in the authentic, unpolished everyday moments. Be inspired and inspire others in return. And most importantly, #stopCOMPAREnting.

There is no RSVP for this chat; simply join the conversation by following @QuakerCanada and @Listen2Lena on Twitter. See you on Tuesday night!

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Best Buy Baby: Big Savings on Brands You Trust

November 8, 2016

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

It’s been a while since I shopped for baby gear. Everything has changed… and yet, it all stays the same.

Because when it comes to strollers or swings, breast pumps or bassinets, in the end, it all comes down to two things: quality and price. The first is easy to prove: find out the longevity of the brand in the marketplace, read online reviews, ask friends and family. And for the second, it’s even more simple: just shop at Best Buy.

YES, Best Buy!

Best Buy has the best products from reliable brands that parents trust. In a previous post, I shared my top picks for baby-to-be… fitting, because my brother and sister-in-law are expecting another little girl! It’s true – this princess is just a few short months away from becoming a big sister.
_dsc0545Now, I know you’re probably zeroing in on my adorable niece in her “Peaches n Cream Barbie”-inspired dress, but I really want you to look behind her, and take a peek at the gorgeous Stork Craft Princess 4-in-1 Crib. The solid wood crib converts to a toddler bed, daybed, and full-sized bed, and the heirloom scrollwork and beautiful bow detailing make this crib an enchanting piece for any nursery.  (more…)

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Busy Families, Hectic Mornings: How to Start out Smart

November 2, 2016

It’s no secret: Mornings are hectic. From the moment I hear the dreaded “5 more minutes!” until the boys are finally out the door, it’s a mad rush against the clock. This means that sometimes, one of my kids will go to school with mismatched socks, and more often, breakfast will be rushed (or in my husband’s case, skipped altogether).
_dsc0602aWe’re working on changing that. Using simple techniques to encourage a more seamless morning routine, the boys and I have been able to get more out of our time together before school. Curious? I thought you might be! I’ve partnered with Minute Maid to provide you with some easy tips and tricks to start out smart!  (more…)

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Because the First MINUTE of the Day should be a Nutritious One.

November 1, 2016

In Canada, one of every five children is at risk of starting the school day on an empty stomach due to a lack of access to nutritious food. That means that nearly one million Canadian children are at risk of getting nothing to eat before they go to school in the morning.

This is not only alarming, but also something that I feel truly requires our attention as parents, and as a society. As I urge my children to finish their breakfasts in the morning, I’m caught thinking about this statistic. I think about it when they turn up their nose at the food options I present, or leave the table without finishing their meal. I think about it after they’ve left for school, as I scrape food remnants from their plates and bowls into the garbage bin.

Sounds familiar, mamas? I know it does.

A generation ago, my own mother chastised my brother and me for skipping breakfast; she reminded us how lucky we were to have the opportunity to go to school on a full stomach. At the time, I placated her – just as my kids do now – scarfing down my meal to avoid a lecture.

Today, I realize that it’s about more than just food waste and rumbling tummies. I know there are real benefits to going to school nourished, including heightened concentration and learning potential. And, when you realize that 60% of learning happens before lunch, it becomes clear why breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day.
_dsc0626aIn fact, according to Breakfast Club of Canada, when children get a balanced meal in a positive, stimulating environment, there are marked improvements in:

– Behaviour and concentration
– Academic performance
– Social skills, self-confidence and the ability to interact with peers and adults
– Overall interest in the subjects being taught
– Incidents of bullying (more…)

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Powering Halloween Safety

October 28, 2016

Trick or treat! We take Halloween seriously. I mean, remember the “Zombie Minnie Mouse” from 2015? Well, I won’t let you forget her.
12145525_182846688723752_346863970_nMy boys are equally excited about the spookiest day of the year. They’ve been asking to wear their costumes daily (“for the last time, NO!”) and we’ve already planned out our trick-or-treating route. And, like every mom getting her kids ready for a night of Halloween fun, safety is a top concern.  (more…)

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