The Most Prepared Mom: Back to School Edition

September 8, 2016

This post was sponsored by the makers of BENADRYL®. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

I mean, in theory. Back to school time always throws me for a loop; as much as I think I’m ready to have the boys return to a routine, there’s always a bit of a struggle. Mornings are hectic, weekday night schedules are constantly changing and let’s not discuss the shenanigans at bedtime. Sigh.

However, once we do get back into our groove, I like to make a few more updates for the new school year. First, I re-visit our cable television, internet and mobile phone plans to ensure that we’re only paying for the services we need and use. Next, I clean out the pantry. Over the summer we tend to be more lenient with the boys’ diets (do we really need eight kinds of cookies?) and a fall refresh ensures I’m stocking up on good, brain-fueling foods.

Finally, I always use back to school time as reminder to update our medicine chest and first aid kit. With the boys once again in close proximity with other kids in a shared environment, infections and reactions are sure to happen. And, cold and flu season is not far behind. Here’s how to be the most prepared mom: back to school edition.bear1. Replace all expired and soon-to-expire medications. The middle of the night is not the time to discover that your child’s fever-reducing medicine expired last month. Use back to school time as a reminder to check the expiration dates of all prescription and over the counter medicines, as well as items such as rubbing alcohol and sanitizer, antibiotic ointments and allergy medications.  (more…)

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Back to School with Pulses: “Anytime” Turkey and Bean Chili

September 5, 2016

It’s time! It’s a go. The kids are officially returning to school! Wee!

(Do I sound a little too excited? I’ll tone it down. Maybe.)

Now, I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about back to school fashion, tackling the morning rush and how to pack school lunches with ease. But I realized this weekend that I have one more hurdle to overcome: the weeknight dinner dilemma.

It’s pretty crazy at our house on weeknights. In addition to homework, we also have to juggle speech therapy and tutoring, plus swimming lessons and indoor soccer league for both boys. Therefore, I’m always looking for healthy, hearty and quick-and-easy meals that I can make ahead on weekends.

I think I’ve found the perfect solution to the weeknight dinner dilemma with my “Anytime” Turkey and Bean Chili.
DSC_1480bThis savoury chili is one of my go-to meals throughout the school year for the following reasons:

1. The chili can be made in the slow cooker with minimal prep. Seriously, the most arduous part of the entire recipe is browning ground turkey and diced shallots in a large pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Big deal, right?  (more…)

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A Rose Gold Toothbrush? Yes, Please!

September 1, 2016

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Functional and fashionable? Now you’ve got my attention.

Introducing the NEW Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Rose Gold. It’s the latest addition to the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean range! Now, we all know that rose gold is a strong trend across fashion and beauty. From watches and necklaces to scarves and mobile phone accessories, the stunning hue is everywhere for Fall 2016. So, why not own a toothbrush that combines the best of both worlds? The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Rose Gold provides the ultimate whitening in the most elegant sonic electric toothbrush yet.
DSC_1455a(Yes, I had my nails done in rose gold specifically for this photograph. Thank you for noticing!)

I’ve had a long love affair with the Sonicare DiamondClean toothbrush. With the highest level of performance from a Sonicare power toothbrush to date, DimondClean is clinically proven to remove up to ten times more plaque than a manual toothbrush in hard-to-reach areas when used on DeepClean mode with the AdaptiveClean brush head. The Sonicare DiamondClean Rose Gold is safe, gentle and effective on teeth and gums as well as orthodontics, veneers and sensitive teeth.  (more…)

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How to Minimize the Stress of the Morning Rush

August 30, 2016

I think we’ve all reached the point where we’re done talking about back to school and now we’re forced to do something about it. This may include, but is not limited to:

Shopping. I adore back to school shopping! Crisp notebooks, stylish clothes, the latest in technology and two very opinionated boys who want it all. Our back to school shopping begins in August and is a month-long celebration, loosely known as “pawning off the kids to someone else for 10 months.”DSC_1146aStrength Conditioning. For your hands. Because come September, there WILL be forms to sign. Mountains and mountains of forms to sign. Last year, I briefly considered ordering a personalized stamp with my name and phone number, so I wouldn’t have to fill out my information 1,734 times.

Lunches. For moms of young ones, get ready to make lunches. And with two boys in elementary school, I’ll make 388 lunches before June 2017. Normally this wouldn’t faze me, but then I consider that I’ll actually have made almost 4,000 lunches by the time the kids go to high school. Hold me.  (more…)

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Fall in Autumn Style with Ease: Three Ways to Sneak in Comfort!

August 29, 2016

Some will suggest that the very best part of fall is the beauty of the season; colourful leaves, stellar sunsets and a layer of shiny dew on green grasses.

Others will point to the bountiful harvest; sweet apples, crunchy pears and Pumpkin Spice Lattes. (Oops, do those count as harvest?)

Me? I’m all about fall fashion. For weeks I have been admiring chunky, cable knit sweaters; soft, oh-so-stretchy pants and structured, fashion-forward footwear.
fallNotice a theme with the items I’m coveting? They’re all a nod to chic comfort – the best way to take on fall style. Because, if you’re like me, the most important thing about a fashion trend is that it’s actually wearable! And there is nothing chic about hobbling around in too-high heels or too-tight jeans. (Trust me. Been there. Done that.) So today, I’m sharing three ways to sneak comfort into a chic wardrobe.  (more…)

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Designer Deals. Back to School Delights. This is Dixie Outlet Mall.

August 26, 2016

If you’ve yet to read my previous post, “Back to School: Deals and Delights at Dixie Outlet Mall,” go ahead. Take a peek. Because you’ll want to know how I came about the following fabulous fashion finds at Winners, and how my shopping experience was actually entertaining, thanks to the VR Adventure Lounge (limited time only – ends September 4th).

All done? Great. Now for the big reveal.

Winners has always been one of my go-to places for exceptional deals on kids’ clothing. The store at Dixie Outlet Mall is large, well-stocked and jam-packed with back to school items – everything from popular themed backpacks to the trendiest denim styles. And for just $100 before taxes, I was able to grab three outfits for the boys – two for Reid and one for Ryder!

(Why did Reid get two outfits? It’s repayment on my part for years of making him wear Ryder’s hand-me-downs. Plus, out of the two, he’s the fashion lover!)
DSC_1371I purchased this adorable – er, masculine and sporty – Adidas track suit for just $29.99. It’s lightweight and perfect for fall school days. Reid is big on layering as he tends to go from hot to cold and hot again very quickly, and I can’t deny the quality and styling that make Adidas track suits high on the list of “must-haves” for little boys.  (more…)

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Back to School: Deals and Delights at Dixie Outlet Mall

August 26, 2016

When it comes to back to school shopping, I want to know all the things.

Tell me where the deals are. Tell me about the hottest fashions. Tell me how I can outfit my boys in clothes they love, at prices I can afford. Tell me how I can make back to school shopping fun for them and (relatively) painless for me.

Oh, you want to know too? You’re in luck – today, I’ll tell YOU how to make it happen.
20160824_185513For my readers in the Greater Toronto Area, when was the last time you checked out Dixie Outlet Mall? As one of Canada’s largest enclosed outlet shopping centres, it’s a virtual mecca of your favourite stores at heavily discounted prices. And, especially when it comes to back to school, who can resist a deal?  (more…)

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Hot Diggity Dog! Fun in a Bun with Lunchmate Hot Dogs

August 23, 2016

*Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.*

The thing about Schneiders Hot Dogs – the Official Hot Dog of the Toronto Blue Jays – is that they’re really, really, good.

Like, obsessively delicious. If you’ve ever been to a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre and enjoyed a Juicy Jumbo (it’s pretty much a rite of passage), just one bite and you’ll agree – they’re the most. perfect. dog.
Juicy Jumbos L2LThe best part? You can enjoy them at home. It’s true! You’ll find the very same Juicy Jumbos at your local supermarket, so whether you’re throwing a game day party (see picture above! more on that later) or simply enjoying lunch with the family, Schneiders hot dogs and sausages are always universally loved.  (more…)

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Thank You, Mom.

August 21, 2016

Today, I’m a little emotional.

As the 2016 Olympic Games come to a close, I’m thinking about the highlights from the Games. The women’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay team, including Penny Oleksiak, the 16-year-old sensation from Toronto. Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Andre De Grasse, more-than-ever household names thanks to their medal-winning performances. Olympic gold in high jump, individual trampoline, freestyle swimming and wrestling.
winIt’s a great time to be Canadian.

I’m also thinking about the parents of Olympians. I’m thinking about the moms and dads who’ve supported our athletes in the pursuit of their dreams. I’m picturing the early morning practices and the late night physiotherapy sessions. I’m thinking about the fierce hugs and pep talks; the emotional words of encouragement, the calm words of comfort. I’m wondering how many times they waited by the phone for their child to call, saying they have safely arrived.

But that’s what parents do. It’s the job we signed up for.  (more…)

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Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot? Here’s How to Stay Cool

August 20, 2016

Ah, summer. The season of popsicles and patios, sunscreen and sno-cones. And for many Canadians, forget the Beach Boys – the soundtrack of summer sounds a little like this:

Hummmm.

That’s the sound of an air conditioner, running around the clock.

If you’re like me, summer in Ontario can often be about trying to stay comfortable and keeping your energy use in check.  After all, the less energy used, the less we pay, so it’s important to be aware of the many things we can do to form good usage habits.
fanOf course, the most obvious way is to set our thermostats a few degrees warmer, which will instantly reduce stress on our air conditioners (and energy bills!). However, there’s much more you can do, and it’s actually easier than you think! I watched an interesting animation on the new Save on Energy website about a family who was finding it hard to keep their home cool during these hot summer months. Since our current heat wave looks like it’s here to stay – for at least a little longer –  I wanted share some tips for keeping your house cool:

– Open your windows and enjoy the fresh summer air while you cool off without air conditioning. This is particularly effective early morning and late night when summer breezes can really help reduce the home’s temperature.  (more…)

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Baby on Board… Baby on Plane! Mark Oldershaw’s Packing List

August 17, 2016

“Mark Oldershaw bringing young family to Olympics despite Zika threat,” reads the headline. “Canadian canoeist ‘confident’ that situation in Rio under control.”

Travelling with a baby, despite what you’ve read and what you’ve heard, is never as easy as it sounds. There are mini meltdowns and major tantrums. You may (will?) experience delays, cancellations and the dreaded plane descent. And if you’re really, really unlucky, a diaper blowout. Or two. (Always pack an extra set of clothing!)

But does that deter millions of parents from travelling with their young ones? Not on your life. Family travel offers a wealth of experiences and the memories made will last a lifetime (at least for mom and dad!). And for Mark Oldershaw, a third generation Olympian and the fifth member of his family to compete at the Games, family travel means having his infant daughter cheering him on in Brazil.
Mark Oldershaw dad“Excited to have them there in the crowd,” Oldershaw said in a phone interview with the CBC, as part of a sponsorship with Pampers.

Now, while some athletes had expressed reservations about going to Brazil, with some even pulling out of the Games, the Oldershaw family’s plans did not change.

“We know that the COC and International Olympic Committee is very on top of it and making sure that it will be safe for athletes,” said the native of Burlington, Ontario. “I’m very confident it will be safe for me and Annamay (his wife) and (his daughter) Josephine.”  (more…)

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School Looks for Less? Yes!

August 12, 2016

My boys are at an age where they’re starting to develop self-awareness. This means that their hair must be styled a certain way (“More pomade, Mom!”), there are taboo clothing choices (cords?) and of course, they have their preferences when it comes to back to school style.
bysThank goodness for Walmart. They have everything I need for back to school, including a wide selection of quality fashion for boys at affordable prices. From preppy shirts to hoodies for layering; popular graphic tees to on-trend stylish denim, back to school shopping for outfits is such a breeze.  (more…)

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Three Steps to Summer BBQ Bliss #MakeSummerGreat

August 11, 2016

My very favourite thing to do in the summertime is relax on the patio with family and friends.

Barbecued burgers. Chilled drinks. Fresh cut fruit. Cold desserts.

If that’s not a slice of heaven, I don’t know what is! And the best thing about summer entertaining is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or costly; simply assemble a few tried-and-true staples, give them an unexpected twist, and voila! You’ve got the perfect recipe to make summer great.

Here are three easy steps to summer barbecue bliss.

Step One: Chip, Dip, Repeat. Remember, the most memorable barbecues are the ones that serve simple foods that everyone loves. To start, grab classic ripple chips and fresh veggies, and serve them with this to-die-for (trust me!) Creamy Taco Dip.
greatvaluebbq_jun26009The dip has only five ingredients – Greek yogurt, Great Value Light Cream Cheese, crumbled feta cheese, Great Value Taco Seasoning Mix and chives. Mix them all together and try not to lick the bowl. It’s that addictive!  (more…)

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Back to School: Your Surprise is Waiting.

August 9, 2016

One more month. One more month to spend time with my little guys this summer; to watch them smile, hear them laugh and run around footloose and fancy free. One more month to listen to their sweet voices…. arguing and yelling. One month of watching them push, punch and fight…

Okay, so perhaps this month can’t go by fast enough.

Et voila! Back to school time is upon us. The happiest time of the year just got happier for me, because I’ve had a chance to indulge in some back to school shopping, scoring fabulous name brands at out of this world prices. In fact, here’s how I grabbed “First Day of School” outfits for BOTH my boys – for under $100!

Surprise! I found everything at Marshalls. They even have a back to school checklist published online that you could quickly glance through prior to your shopping.
DSC_1134Marshalls is always top of mind for me for back to school, because they have everything I need to make sure my boys start the year in style. Plus, where else can I deck them out in brand names such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Levis 501 and more – for less?  (more…)

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Taking Diabetes Management to the NEXT Level

August 8, 2016

Years ago, when I had time on my hands and my anxiety levels were much higher, I spent a lot of time online looking at health forums and chat rooms, swapping stories with fellow hypochondriacs. As I read through discussion threads, or replied to messages with words of support, I often thought, “I wish there was someone well-known – maybe a celebrity – who shares my concerns. I wish there was someone in the spotlight who understands what I am going through.”

Today, celebrities, professional athletes and media personalities are much more open about their own personal struggles and issues surrounding health. For the little boys and girls who idolize them, it’s an incredible feeling to know they’re not alone.
maxresdefaultMax Domi, a professional hockey player in the NHL, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12. Max hopes that by opening up about his personal experiences with diabetes, he will inspire Canadians to visit poweredbyaccuracy.ca to learn more about diabetes and the Accuracy Coach program.

“Managing diabetes can be hard, but with the right coaching and support there are no limits. It’s so important that people with diabetes have the confidence to develop a healthy mindset and take control,” says Domi. “I want to reach as many people as I can and share my own experience and tell my own story. Diabetes hasn’t stopped me and the goals I’ve set for myself, and it doesn’t have to stop anyone else.”  (more…)

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WIN with Road Trippin’!

August 5, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

This summer, we’ve enjoyed a more leisurely pace. Instead of our usual press trips and summer travels, we’ve opted to stick around and enjoy our local attractions instead. Trips to the beach, picnics in the park and lazy evenings on the patio have made it a summer to remember.
13715107_180638309017025_417377905_nHowever, staycationing in the city is less about packing lists and more about surviving road trips. Especially when travelling with young ones, I find that long car rides can generally be even more stressful than plane rides for the following reasons:

1) Children have way too much stimuli. “Look! We passed a McDonalds. Can we stop for fries and a drink?” This happens a lot. “Mom! He’s touching me!” (looking at me, hitting at me, humming in my direction, etc etc.) This happens more than the requests for McD’s. “Are we there yet?” Ugh. I don’t have to tell you how often this happens.  (more…)

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All About Cleansers

August 3, 2016

Combination skin. Also known as the least desirable skin type known to womankind – and also the most common! In fact, many women think they have oily or dry skin, but actually have a combination of both.

Here are some signs you have combination skin:

– You experience excessive oil and shine in your t-zone (forehead, down the nose to the chin), while your cheeks feel tight and dry.
– Your skin is oilier in summer and dry in winter, and even if you switch up your skin care, 11:00am shine in your T-zone is pretty much a guarantee.
– During menstruation, you may experience breakouts in your T-zone. However, once your period is over, the breakouts clear right up and your skin begins to feel extra dry and flaky.

Sounds like you? Welcome to the world of combination skin!

Now you may feel like your skin has a split personality, and unfortunately, it kind of does. I’ve dealt with the consequences of combination skin for decades and am acutely aware of the importance of finding the right cleanser. In fact, using the incorrect cleanser – whether it be too stripping or too moisturizing – can derail your entire skin care regime. So, take some time, do a little trial and error, and uncover the perfect cleanser for you!
13767626_1018845368235334_1146099638_nThe first step? Choose a brand with proven, superior skin care solutions that really work. As the first cosmeceutical brand in Canada, NeoStrata develops leading-edge skincare products that are supported and endorsed by the medical community. NeoStrata’s cleansing products refresh and cleanse, revealing smoother, clearer and younger-looking skin.  (more…)

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The Circle of Trust.

August 3, 2016

My husband and I are movie junkies – specifically, we love comedies. We laugh along with our favourites, never tiring of the slapstick humour or unlikely escapades that seem to drive the storylines.

And, I’m not sure if you’d find this endearing or annoying, but we also love to quote one-liners from the movies, several times per day, every day. It’s not unusual to hear my husband mutter jewels from Superbad, There’s Something About Mary or Wedding Crashers, and I have a penchant for pulling the best quotes from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Sideways and Dumb and Dumber.

So *of course* my boys know about the “Circle of Trust”, made famous by Meet the Parents.

This past long weekend, we once again had a beach day up north. As I watched Reid construct what I believed to be an intricate castle, I asked him to describe what he was creating.

“This is the Circle of Trust,” he said. “You sit over there.”
13704217_918062424987793_1453145228_nWait a second – “You don’t trust me?” I asked, pretending to be hurt. “No,” he answered. “You always say you’ll do things and then you don’t. You told me we could go to the park if I cleaned my room, and when I finished cleaning my room you said it was too late. You told me I could have a popsicle when I finished my dinner, and when I finished it you couldn’t find any in the freezer. You’re always lying.”  (more…)

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Reward Me: AIR MILES Dining Discount Book

July 29, 2016

Friends, I’ve found a way to turn Dream Miles into dinner. Oh yes.

So let’s just say you’ve been sitting on a handful of AIR MILES Reward Miles you’d love to redeem, but just can’t settle on the best way to do it. I get it! Choosing a reward is almost more difficult than purchasing something, isn’t it? It’s one of the reasons I both love and loathe gift cards – I spend *way* too much time deciding how to go about my spending spree!

If you’re in the same boat, I’ve got the perfect option for you (and your loved ones!). Introducing the AIR MILES Dining Discount Book. For a limited time only, redeem just 250 Miles and get over $1,000 in restaurants savings!
airmilesCurrently offered in the Toronto and Vancouver markets, using the AIR MILES Dining Discount Book is simple:

1. Use your Miles to get the Discount Book for your desired region.
2. Present your coupon at participating restaurants.
3. Enjoy the Savings!

I nabbed the Discount Book for Toronto – which includes the Greater Toronto Area – and was so pleased to find incredible savings for many of the restaurants my family loves. Plus, with a large number of participating restaurants offering BOGO deals, there’s incentive to try new ones we’ve been wanting to check out!  (more…)

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Multi-Generational Travel: Airport Screening Tips for Seniors

July 27, 2016

A trip with grandma? It’s my son’s dream come true.

As multi-generational travel increases in popularity, so does the need to address the specific concerns of all members of the family – from age two to seventy-two. In the past, I’ve concentrated on screening tips for families and children. Today, with the help of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), I’m sharing ways to make airport screening a breeze for seniors.

CATSA-GeneralPins-Set2-12-EN (2)1. Pack large liquid containers in checked baggage. When packing your carry-on bag, remember that only liquids, gels and aerosols of 100 mL or less in a one-litre clear, resealable plastic bag are accepted. Larger items like shampoo, toothpaste, creams, shaving cream, perfume and suntan lotion over 100 mL must be packed in your checked baggage.

2. Keep your medication with you. The 100 mL limit on liquids, gels and aerosols in your carry-on doesn’t apply to medication — whether it’s prescribed or over-the-counter. Just be ready to present them separately to the screening officers for inspection.

3. Arrive early and ask for help, if needed. The more time you have to go through security, the less stress you’ll feel. If you have difficulty lifting or carrying your bags, advise airline staff when you check in.

At the checkpoint, look for the family/special needs line if you need more time or assistance to move through security. Have your boarding pass ready to present to the screening officer and place your cell phone and other small electronic equipment, coins, keys and small metal items in your carry-on. Be sure to let screening officers know if you have any medical devices or metal implants.

For more information on how to breeze through security visit catsa.gc.ca or call 1-888-294-2202.

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