Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011.

So of course my kids were spoiled this year as you can tell by the picture!  In all fairness there's nothing under the tree, it's all in front but that wasn't all they got either.  Hubby and I were up first with the baby waiting on the toddler to get up.  He's only 2 so doesn't quite understand the whole Christmas and presents thing so he doesn't know to get up early but I know what to look forward to in later years!  We had to help him open gifts but he pretty much loved everything he (and his sister) got.  Hubby and I exchanged very little because we already have too much stuff and really don't need anything more.  I think my favourite part of Christmas though is the stockings but in our case we use Santa sacks which are exactly what they sound like, mini Santa sacks!  It's been tradition in my family since I was about 5 or so, I don't really ever remember using the traditional stockings.  After we opened gifts, let the kids play and had lunch we headed off to the inlaws for a family turkey dinner then it was home early as our little family has been sick so it was important to me to get the kids in their own beds at the early times they're used to.  Thanks to all my friends and family for spoiling my kids though I think they deserve it!

Hope all my readers had a great Christmas and looking forward to everything 2012 has to bring!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Silver Smoke Blog Tour.

To celebrate the release of a new novel to the Seven Halos series, author Monica Leonelle is doing a Kindle Fire giveaway for Silver Smoke, the first novel in the series! Silver Smoke is the highly-rated (4.8 stars on Amazon) debut novel about the Hallows and the Nephilim, the descendants of archangels and humans. Here's a description of the book:

Brie van Rossum has fame, fortune, and beauty, but there’s one thing she doesn’t have–the name of her mother’s supernatural killer.
The Hallows, descendants of the archangels, don’t think Milena was murdered.. but can Brie trust them when their government, the New Order, wants her dead?
She’d better figure it all out soon…
… because when Brie finds out who she really is, the hunt will begin.
And Milena might not be the only casualty.
Like mother, like daughter…

We'll get to the contest details in a minute, but first, Monica gave us an exclusive excerpt of the book for the blog tour:

Rykken woke with a puddle of fresh water in his bed and the drumbeat of a downpour banging against the tin roof of his room. The rain must have seeped through while he was sleeping, falling onto his face, his hair, his skin.

He didn’t normally mind submersion, as long as it was the right kind of water—the kind that burned. Like pool water, filled with chlorine, burning his nose and eyes. Like sea water, filled with salt, organisms, and sand, chapping his lips and smoothing his skin.

But rain water had no burn, aside from the burning in his throat when it filled his lungs.

It pattered balefully onto his sheets, pooling in the center and engulfing his body. He couldn’t move. He tried to roll over, to escape the water, but he was paralyzed. The water inched toward his mouth, covering his ears.

He was going to drown. He tried to scream for help, but his lips couldn’t form words, only soft whimpers that didn’t carry over the pounding rain on the roof.

Something hammered against his bedroom door as the water entered his nose and mouth. He swallowed what he could, letting the cool, fresh liquid slide down his throat. But the water kept coming.

Rykken held his breath and closed his eyes, wishing he could slow his heart rate.

“Rykken.” He felt his body shaking under someone else’s grip. “Ry, wake up.”

Rykken shot up, gasping for air. His skin felt clammy and chilled all at once. He threw off his covers and catapulted out of his bed.

His foster mother looked sad, a v-shaped crease between her eyes. “Another bad dream?” She held up the damp bed sheets streaked with his sweat. 

“I’m fine,” he said, pacing the floor in front of his closet. “Nothing new in the dream, at least.”

She pulled the sheets from his bed. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Rykken shook his head. “No. Thanks though.”

“You shouldn’t nap in the middle of the evening anymore.” She handed Rykken his cell phone. “This keeps going off. I think you better answer it.” She stripped the pillows of their cases. “It’s Friday anyway—isn’t there a football game tonight?”

Rykken pulled a fresh t-shirt over his head. His foster mom had a strict idea about what normal teens did, and spending time alone on a Friday night was not normal. Rykken liked his time alone though; after an entire week of water polo and school, he wanted nothing more than to relax by himself, or maybe with a close friend. But his foster mom always had other plans for him.

Rykken glanced at his phone—there were four texts from Justin, each one escalating in urgency from “What are you up to tonight?” to “Where are you? Picking you up in 10.” He sighed. It seemed like Justin had other plans for him too.

An obnoxious honk outside confirmed his suspicions. “That’s where I’m going,” he said to his foster mom, even though he had no idea what Justin had planned. It didn’t matter anyway—if they weren’t going to the game, it meant they were going to a party, and the game was as good a cover as any. He hugged his foster mom and jetted out the door and down the steps to Justin’s Lincoln Navigator.

“What the 'ell?” Justin smirked at Rykken from the driver’s seat. The vehicle smelled new and the air inside was cool. “You don’t text me back anymore?”

December 20th thru December 31st (12 days long)



  • Grand Prize Winner: Kindle Fire (or cash-equivalent Amazon gift card)
  • 2nd Place (two winners): Kindle Touch (or cash-equivalent Amazon gift card)
  • 3rd Place (three winners): Kindle (or cash-equivalent Amazon gift card)
  • Special Bloggers-Only Winner* (for blogger entrants – must enter via the web form): Kindle Fire (or cash-equivalent Amazon gift card)

Winners will be selected using on January 1, 2012 and announced on How To Be An Author by January 2, 2012.

*To enter the Bloggers-Only drawing (in addition to the regular drawing), you must forward a link to your post to AND add your name to this bloggers-only email list (not for promotional purposes… just an easy way to distribute promised items):

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

I didn't get to posting this on time yet again!  I have a house full of sick people so you'll just have to forgive me.

Savoury Sausage and Rice Skillet - got a great deal on sausages a couple weeks ago
Tomato and Spinach Pasta - uses more sausages.....
Chicken Nuggets/Veggies
Turkey dinner

I only planned for 4 meals as there will probably be leftovers and I usually have something in the house that can be thrown together like frozen pizza.  It'll probably be a busy week so better for quick meals.  These sick people aren't eating a whole lot either.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Great Gift Idea - My Friendship Bracelet Maker and My Ribbon Barrette Maker Review

I remember back in grade school making friendship bracelets much like the ones in the picture.  It wasn't an easy process having to tape the end to a table or use your mouth.  Quite often the strings would get mixed up and it could be difficult trying to figure out where you were in making the bracelet.  My Friendship Bracelet Maker makes this process a lot easier.

David Crorey came up with the idea for this when babysitting his granddaughters.  They wanted him to make friendship bracelets with them and he quickly saw what a difficult task it could be so that's how the Friendship Bracelet Maker was born.  The bracelet maker has a butterfly at one end that holds the end of the bracelet for you then a place at the other end for each thread so they don't get mixed up.  The kit also comes with 56 precut threads in 14 different colours and there's a slideout storage tray to keep them in.  There's easy to follow instructions and the website has video tutorials and more patterns.  This kit is great for travelling and recommended for ages 6+.

 The Ribbon Barrette maker, shown above, is another one of Crorey creations.  It includes everything you need to make beautiful barrettes such as different coloured ribbons, beads, barrettes and the instructions and they're really easy to make.  I don't remember making these when I was young but I'm sure they'd look wonderful on any little girl.  It's perfect for girls ages 6+.

I think kits like these are great for kids as it gets them off the computer, away from the TV and forces them to use their hands and their imaginations.  I can't wait until my daughter is old enough for crafty stuff like this.  To find out where to buy these kits check out the website here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

I got this today and had to share!

Menu Plan Monday!

I'm trying to use up stuff from my overcrowded cupboards and freezer for meals and not have to buy much.

1.  Many Beans Chili - my new fav chili
2.  Shepards Pie - I don't use a recipe, I just layer cooked ground beef mixed with gravy, frozen veggies then mashed potatoes with cheese on top and bake at 350 for 20 min.
3.  Stove Top Chicken Bake - chicken was on sale last week and so were frozen veggies so I have lots
4.  Slow Cooker Santa Fe Chicken -  really easy

December is a bad month for me and food therefore I don't diet in December.  Hors d'ouevres are too tasty, chocolate is everywhere and it's cold so fattening comfort foods are often on the menu.  Oh and it's a busy time so eating out happens more often.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Diane Lai Product Review

Diana Lai for soft skin is a Canadian made skin care company that produces products for highly sensitive skin.   The company started because Diane's son as an infant had extreme eczema and she wanted to be able to use something on his skin that didn't have the preservatives, fragrances and other harsh chemicals often found in lotions.  Her products are great for babies, infants and toddlers and are recommended for all skin types.

I was lucky to be sent the Rejuvenate daily moisturiser, Soothe spot treatment and the Fresh daily body wash to try and well as samples to give away.  My family is lucky to not have extremely sensitive skin though we do have problems with dry skin, extreme in some areas.  My cheeks, especially in the winter, tend to get dry and flaky and feel like alligator skin.  My 5 month old daughter's legs are also quite dry to the point of cracking,  especially around the ankles and the Aveeno that worked for my son's skin wasn't working for her so far.  She also has cradle cap on the very top of her head.  I used the Soothe spot treatment on my cheeks and her legs, the body wash in the shower for the both of us and the daily moisturiser in other areas.  My cheeks feel softer after a few days and her legs were also a lot softer.  I also absolutely LOVE how the products smell especially the body wash.  It smells really fresh and gives you that fresh, clean feeling after using it.  My daughters cradle cap is not gone though it is getting noticeably better with using the body wash on her sensitive scalp.  My son and husband who seem to have been blessed with better skin are also using the products because it's just feels good knowing you're using gentle, all natural products on your skin and it has made their skin softer.

Diane Lai products can be purchased on her website.  I received free product from Diane Lai for soft skin for the purposes of this review.  All opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

That time again already!  Seems like the weeks are just flying by.

Easy Chicken and Vegetable pasta - not sure where this is from 
Beef Noodle Bowl - another Kraft recipe
Chicken Nuggets
Breakfast for dinner - sausages, eggs, hash browns and toast.  Who doesn't love this??

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hypotonia - My Daughter's Story

Every mom wishes for happy, healthy, normal children so what do you do when you find out one of you're children isn't so 'normal' ??  My daughter was born on June 20th, 5 days late, 8 lbs and a perfect apgar score.  This was after a fairly easy pregnancy and a quick delivery.  I guess the first signs that something was wrong, though I didn't know at the time, was she couldn't breastfeed effectively.  She could suck forever and not get enough.  It took us 18 days to figure out she wasn't getting enough so I pumped and she got the bottle.  It took her a few weeks to be good at taking the bottle.  At the time I didn't think too much about the sucking issues.

I think when you're a mom you just know when something isn't right.  When my daughter reached 3.5 months old I was getting a little concerned as to why she wasn't lifting her head up when on her tummy, why her head was still wobbly, why she had head lag and when picking her up under the arms it felt like she'd slide right through.  At her 4 month check-up I expressed my concerns to the doctor and she felt that it was because my daughter is long and didn't weigh much for her length so it was causing muscle weakness but she referred us to a specialist for further evaluation.  Even though she was being positive about it I just knew it was more that just muscle weakness.

At 5 months old we got an official diagnosis of mild Hypotonia which upon reading about it doesn't really mean much.  Hypotonia is usually a symptom of something bigger having to do with the central nervous system or muscles and it's linked to many, many disorders.  If they can find the underlying disorder than that's treated accordingly but often with Hypotonia it seems that they can't find a cause so it's treated with appropriate therapy as needed.  We are in the process right now of beginning the testing to see what can be causing it starting with an ultrasound of my daughter's head.  Apparantly a lot can be seen through the fontanelle or 'soft spot'.

As you  can see in the picture she is lifting her head up now at 5 months very well and she's also started to stand when we put her feet on a flat surface!  She still has head lag, is a little wobbly and doesn't sit well even with support.  She's reaching milestones in a timely manner so far but only time will tell how the Hypotonia will affect her.  She doesn't babble much but that's not a concern yet.

I'm still trying to let this all sink in and educate myself as much as possible in order to help her.  I find writing about all this helpful for myself and hopefully others who might be going through something similar.  It's also a great way for me to keep my friends and fans updated.  I'll keep updating as our journey unfolds.  Thanks for listening!

Menu Plan Monday!

It was brought to my attention today that I forgot to do this post for the week.  I caught my son's cold and haven't been sleeping all that great between the cold, the kids and the cat.  So here it is:

Tacos - trying to use up shells before they expire
Unstuffed shells - I bought several jars of pasta sauce last week and they're taking up too much space
Cheeseburger meatloaf - bought some cheese whiz on sale to trying to use that in recipes
Slow cooker cheesy chicken and potatoes - uses cheese whiz again and I love a slow cooker recipe
Turkey broccoli divan - not sure where the recipe is from but I have some frozen turkey I'm trying to use up

I'm trying to lose weight so I lighten up my recipes whenever possible and usually fill my plate with half veggies and a little of what I make if it's not that healthy.  To me it's more important I make something that my toddler and hubby will enjoy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reel Babies!

I finally had the chance last week to bundle up my five month old daughter and head out to Empire Theatres for their Reel Babies movie.  With hubby's schedule changing at work I have to arrange care for my two year old in order to go.  Toddlers are allowed but there's no way I'm chasing him around the theatre!  For anyone who doesn't know, Reel Babies are matinees offered at the theatre specially for moms and babies.  The theatre is equipped with everything a mom would need to keep baby happy.  The lights are kept dimmed and the volume lowered.  From my experience the younger the baby the better.  

I've been to this theatre before when my son was an infant and wasn't impressed as they had no amenities that were advertised and I had to change my son on the floor.  This time was much better.  There was a change table, bottle warmer, exersaucer, play mats, baby rocker and a swing.  I met some moms outside beforehand and handed out some free passes then we all went in and enjoyed the movie.  It was nice having the amenities around to keep the babies busy.  My daughter enjoyed watching half the movie then she slept the other half.  She did practise her screaming but of course none of the moms cared which was nice.  I'm hoping to be able to go again while my daughter is still a baby.

Disclosure – I am participating in the Empire Reel Babies program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Empire Theatres. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Saving Money With Kids

I'm currently on maternity leave for a year (perk of living in beautiful Canada) with two kids, a two year old and a five month old.  Being on EI when you only work part time to begin with really doesn't give you a ton of money and kids can be expensive but I've found ways to be frugal:

  • Use coupons whenever possible.  I buy the Entertainment coupon book every year because there's great savings in it for eating out and attractions such as the Zoo and the Aquarium.  There are also coupons for those indoor play centres now that my son is old enough to go to those places.  For even better savings try and only use coupons for product that is on sale.  I save every coupon I find and when something goes on sale I'll buy as many as I have coupons for that way I rarely end up paying full price for the food we eat often.  Some stores even let you use more than one coupon on one product but that's a whole other post on it's own.  See here if you would like more information on couponing in Canada.
  • Don't be too hung up on certain brands and be willing to switch and try other products that are on sale or that you have coupons for.  Even using store brand can save you a lot of money and the product is usually just as good as the name brand.  For reasons I won't get into yet my daughter couldn't breastfeed so we use store brand formula with her and it's half the price of the name brand!
  • Only buy stuff on sale or out of season if possible.  I recently picked up a lot of clothes for both kids for summer and only paid $1 each item!!  I often buy their stuff a season or two ahead of time when it's on clearance and often pay less than I see people selling used stuff for and it's brand new!  
  • Plan meals around food in your cupboards.  It would be a waste to throw something away so I make a weekly meal plan (which can save you money too!) around what's in my cupboards or freezer.  Often I'll have excess of something that I picked up on sale (pasta sauce for example).
  • Buy food products close to expiry date.  This stuff is often discounted and can sometimes be found in it's own section of the store or in it's usual spot and usually has a bright sale sticker on it so they can be spotted easily.  At Superstore, where we do most of our shopping, they're bright pink.  I'll buy meat and bread like this then put it straight in the freezer where it'll be good for a while or I cook it right away.  
  • Buy stuff used.  I recently bought my son a pair of rain boots and winter boots for $8!  They'll only fit him this year so I don't see the worth in buying them brand new.  Kids grow really fast and I've been very lucky to receive lots of hand me downs and baby goods free for both children!  I'm returning the favour by passing stuff on to others that need it.  
  • Eat at home.  It's nice to go out once in a while but restaurants can be expensive even with a coupon so we go out for a treat sometimes but most of our meals are had at home and planned one week at a time.  

I hope these tips can help you save money like I do and I'll be going into more detail in future posts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

Chicken strips - from a box, not very imaginative but they were cheap!
Slow cooker tuscan chili - from Kraft Canada, never tried it before
Sweet n Sour pork chops and Peppers - this was good and I'm using up ingrediants
Bacon or Sausage Quiche - not sure where this recipe is from but it's easy and yummy and I use already made pie crusts
Porcupine Meatball Stew - I think this is from one of my cookbooks....  It's very tasty

Monday, November 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Due to the time change and being tired because the kids have been up extra early for the second day in a row we made our meals for the week easy.

Pancakes - from a shake n' pour bottle I've had in the cupboard for a while
Tortellinis fromt the freezer and jarred sauce and veggies
Kung Pao chicken - from the Kraft Canada website
Cheeseburger macaroni - not sure where the recipe is from
Frozen fish and cheesy scalloped potatoes

I wanted to be more adventurous this week and try out some new recipes but maybe once the children are back to sleeping later in the morning and we're all a little more rested.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mabel's Labels

Mabel's labels are great for labelling anything and everything especially when it comes to our children's personal belongings.  The waterproof ones are great for labelling cups for daycare/school as they don't come off easily even in the dishwasher.  If there's something in your house that needs to be labelled Mabel's labels is sure to have something to label it with from iron on labels for clothes to metal tag labels for bags and pencil cases.  Their labels aren't only functional but they're nice to look at too and there's many designs to choose from.  Mabel's labels ship all over the world for a nominal price and shipping in Canada is free.  Orders can be placed at or by mail or phone.

This post is not sponsored by Mabel's labels and I'm not getting paid.  These are just my personal opinions on some great products! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Dinner for Monday was brought to us and cooked here.  Tuesday we had a quick, thrown together tuna casserole type dish.  The rest of the plan is:

Pasta with a turkey tomato sauce
An Indian chicken dish - sauce from jars I got for free from a trade show
Chicken nuggets, veggies and some sort of side dish
Pizza from the freezer

Nothing that takes too long and nothing new to try for this week.  Might even be going out for dinner on one of the days.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

Late again!!  I know.  This week was my son's birthday party and we figured there would be leftovers so didn't want to go too crazy on the meal planning.  I also wanted to use up some of what I have since last week I got some great deals on stuff such as chicken breasts (No Frills) and pasta sauce. Here's the plan:

Undone Stuffed Pepper Casserole - rather than ground beef though I'll be using ground chicken that I found a great deal on! 

Again both recipes are from the Kraft Canada website.  I love that their recipes are generally quick and easy.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Not So Tricky Halloween" Blog Tour

In the past Halloween was all about relaxing at home while handing out (and eating) candy and watching scary movies.  Once in a while I'd go to a Halloween party and I've even thrown a couple myself.  Fast forward to 2009 when kids started coming into the picture.  My son was only 1 week old that first Halloween as a family so we just took pictures of him around pumpkins.  2010 was a little more exciting as we dressed him up as a lion (courtesy of grandma) and took him for his first trick-or-treat adventure!

This year is even better as now there's 2 kids!!  My daughter will only be 4 months old though so she won't be doing much trick-or-treating but I'm really looking forward to taking my son out since he wasn't walking or talking last year and now he is!  He's going to be an alien from Toy Story 3 (again courtesy of grandma).  My daughter will just be wearing a Winnie The Pooh fleece set.  

Since we're fairly new to the whole Halloween as a family thing we're just starting to come up with traditions and how to prepare for Halloween.  Every year will definitely include on, if not several, trips to a local pumpkin patch as there's so many to choose from where we live.  The kids can pick out a pumpkin and when they're older we can have a carving night.  For now that's my job.  Both grandmas love to sew and volunteered to make their costumes every year and until they can pick for themselves I just leave it up to grandma(s) to decide what they want the kids to be.  

My favourite part of Halloween is the candy because I LOVE candy!  Luckily my 2 year old won't be asking questions when his candy disappears though we will offer him bits of whatever is age appropriate!  I have to take advantage of this while they're young.  The Allan Candy Company graciously set me a variety of their individually wrapped candies just in time for Halloween.  I received the Allan Intense Jubes and Jellies, the Allan Chewy Rascals and the Allan Fruit Buddies.  The Jubes and Jellies are soft, chewy and have a nice sour taste. The Chewy Rascals include favourites such as Big Foot, Hot Lips, Sour Big Foot and Sour Green Thumb. Fruit Buddies are fruit flavoured and include Peach Slices, Sour Cherry, Sour Watermelon, Sour Grape and Tangy Wild Strawberry.  Although I enjoyed all varieties and flavours of the candy my favourite would have to be Chewy Rascals as they give me fond memories of my childhood and begging my mom for change to buy candy.  At lot have already made their way to my stomach and the rest will be handed out on Halloween!

The Allan Candy Company is a Canadian company and all the candy is made in Canada.  They are celebrating their 77th year in business!  The Allan Candy Halloween treats, such as the ones I was sent, are peanut free and can be found at major retailers such as Walmart and the Loblaws company of stores.   

Disclosure - I am participating in the Allan Candy Company program by Mom Central Canada.  I received compensation for my participation in this campaign.  The opinions on the blog are my own.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!!

Leftovers from the week
Savoury sausage and rice skillet - we double this sometimes since it's yummy
Tortellini from the freezer and pasta sauce
Cheesy chili pasta - not sure where this recipe came from and I couldn't find it 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Make A Pledge With Energizer

Energizer Canada is committed to pledging $100,000 to Evergreen, a not-for-profit organization committed to making cities greener and more liveable, in their "Do Something Little, Help Something Big" initiative.  With each additional pledge made by people at the Positive Energy website Energizer will donate an additional $1 to Evergreen up to a maximum $10,000.

Since having children I've been wanting to live a "greener" life and reduce my carbon footprint on the planet.  I guess it became more important to me when the kids came along because I'd like them (and hopefully their kids) to be able to enjoy the environment around them for many years to come.   I've decided to "Make a Pledge With Energizer" and the Five Kind Acts I'll be doing are:

  • Use as little tap water as possible such as not letting it run while brushing my teeth or doing dishes.  I usually let the water run while washing one dish at a time and now I'll fill the sink and wash them all so unnecessary water isn't wasted.
  • Turn off the TV when no one is watching.  We have a bad habit in the house of leaving the TV on most of the day for background noise so I'll make sure it's turned off now when my son isn't actively watching.
  • Pass on my baby stuff.  With 2 kids we've accumulated a LOT of baby stuff and I'm making sure it gets passed on to others that can make use of it and I myself received a lot of the baby stuff  "previously loved".  Just doesn't make sense to buy new when they use it for such a short period of time.
  • Run all my errands at one time.  I have a bad habit of not planning ahead of time for what errands need to be taken care of therefore wasting a lot of gas driving all over the place.  I'll plan ahead and do things that can be taken care of in the same vicinity and save gas, time and money!
  • Smile at strangers.  We can all use a friendly smile once in a while and I might just make somebody's day!
Visit the Positive Energy website today and submit your own positive acts and help make a more sustainable future for all of us!  

Disclosure - I am participating in the Energizer Canada and Evergreen "Do Something Little, Help Something Big" program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Energizer Canada and Evergreen.  I received compensation as a thank you for my participation.  The opinions on this blog are my own. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Seventh Generation 2011 Diaper Donation program.

I am very proud to be part of the Seventh Generation 2011 Diaper Donation program!  For every package of Seventh Generation diapers bought the company will give a package of diapers to one of 40 shelters in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.  Their goal is to donate 240,000 diapers!  I was sent 4 packages of diapers to donate to a charity of my choice.  I did some research to find somewhere in my area that needed the size 5 diapers I was sent and found out that my local food bank has a program called Tiny Bundles and they were in desperate need of that size.  I just dropped them off this morning and what a great feeling! It was disheartening to see all the people in need but felt great to be able to help out.  It also made me feel very thankful to be able to provide diapers for my own 2 children.

I encourage all my readers to visit your local store and buy a package of Seventh Generation diapers as part of the buy one give one program and help support families in your community.  Join the 7th Gen Nation today and have access to coupons, special offers and tips for green living.

 Disclosure – I am participating in the Seventh Generation program by Mom Central Canada.  I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium review.

I LOVE the Fisher Price Ocean Wonders aquarium!  I never had one for my son who is now almost 2 but upon the recommendation of a friend I bought one used for my daughter from a fellow mom.  There's bubbles and music, soft lighting and the fish move.  What I love about it is I don't always have the time to rock my daughter to sleep for naps or bedtime so I'll lay her down when she's sleepy yet awake, turn the aquarium on and walk away.  Usually within 5 minutes the aquarium has lulled her to sleep!  I definitely don't use it to replace parenting but it's great for those times I'm stuck and can't spend that time cuddling her.  It's also wonderful at 3am when she doesn't easily go back to sleep!  I use it in the morning too to buy an extra 30 min in bed as long as she isn't hungry.

The aquarium is available at most major retailers and it comes with a remote control so you don't even have to enter the baby's room to turn the aquarium on or off.  It plays for 20 minutes and you can adjust the volume of the music  and change the settings for the lights and bubbles.  I recommend it to any mom!

Disclosure - I was not compensated in any way for this post.  Product was purchased on my own and all opinions are mine.

Menu Plan Monday!

A day late but here's the plan for this week!

Turkey dinner - we had this on the Thanksgiving Monday of course
Honey dijon chicken - been on the menu plan for 2 weeks now but haven't made it yet
Tacos - soft and hard shelled
Tortellinis and sauce - from Costco
No cream creamy broccoli soup  - I love this soup and it uses rice to thicken it!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Empire Reel Babies Blog Tour

I think one of the hardest things about having a baby is finding baby friendly places to take them to.  You're always worried about them crying or needing to be breastfed (if you breastfeed) or needing a diaper change and somewhere safe and clean to do that.

Empire Reel babies provides a baby friendly environment where you can feed, change and cuddle your baby and watch the latest movie!  It doesn't matter if your little one is crying either as the movie theatre is just for moms and babies so there'll probably be lots of crying!  It's a great outing for new parents!  The theatres are equipped with a change table, bottler warmer, exersaucer, play mat and swing.  Everything you might need to care for your little one and watch a movie.  The lighting is kept dim (not as dark as a regular movie) and the sound is at a lower volume for the babies.  Showings are every 2 weeks and you can go to the website and vote for which movie you'd like to see.  What a great place to meet up with your mom friends or for dad to enjoy some time with baby.

I've been to Empire Reel babies about 18 months ago when my now 2 year old was a baby and there was no change table, exersaucer or any of the amenities stated above.  It was still nice to get out and see a movie with friends though.  Empire Theatres has graciously provided me with free passes that I plan on sharing with my mommy group.  I have a 3 month old too now and haven't taken her to the movies yet so I'm looking forward to joining my mom friends and checking out Reel Babies again and the amenities that are provided.  My daughter, who isn't as laid back as my son, probably will scream and cry but I won't have to worry about getting dirty looks from people as other moms will be used to it!

I will be posting a follow up post with my Empire Reel Babies experience!

Disclosure – I am participating in the Empire Reel Babies program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Empire Theatres. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

Baked Macaroni - a favorite for the toddler!
Mardi Gras Pilaf - from one of my Company's coming cookbooks
Honey Dijon Chicken- from last week
Cottage Meat Loaf - a really easy and tasty meatloaf but I use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs

That's it because we will be eating out one night and eating leftovers the rest.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Seventh Generation Diaper Review

I couldn't find any Seventh Generation diapers available in my area when I did my review here but Seventh Generation graciously sent me a package of size 1s to try with my daughter.  Upon first glance the diapers look dirty but that's just because they're unbleached and after using diapers for years I guess I got used to the bright white colour of the bleached ones.  I don't understand really why they started bleaching paper products in the first place because had they not no one would know any better anyway.  I found that they had a lot of stretch to them and they fit my daughter very nicely.  They are also really soft like cloth and absorbed the urine very well.

Seventh Generation diapers are free of chlorine, free of fragrances and latex, free of petroleum based lotions and they're hypoallergenic making them a great choice for babies sensitive skin.  They are available in sizes newborn to size six.

Become a Seventh Generation Nation member here  for great tips to green and healthy living as well as coupons and special offers.

Disclosure – I am participating in the Seventh Generation program by Mom Central Canada.  I received compensation as a thank you for my participation.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

Tuna noodle casserole - not sure where the recipe is from but there are several out there
Spinach lasagne rolls
Honey dijon chicken bake with scalloped potatoes and veggies
Slow cooker italian pot roast

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

Ooooops!  Forgot to do this post on Monday!  No menu plan for this week as we'll be out of town half the week so we're just working on eating the leftovers in the fridge and using up anything that might go bad while we're gone.  Next Monday's will be late too.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Seventh Generation Winner!

Using the winner was comment #24  who has been emailed.  Thanks for entering!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bounce it off Millions Contest!

Bounce if off millions is an interactive Facebook page where millions of users can help you decide on a choice that you have.  The choices can be anything you want.  Go and let others help you decide.  Your decision will be turned into a poll and Bounce will choose 4 of the most interesting polls to be featured in a facebook ad allowing many more millions of facebook users to help you make a choice!  Bounce is also offering a contest where 5000 winners will win 2 bounce dryer bars, one to keep and one to give away.

A choice I might pose is whether or not to get another cat.  I seriously at this point in my life do not have any more important decisions to make right now.  Head on over to the facebook page and post your choices now.

Disclosure:  I participated in this campaign as a member of One2One Network and am eligible for a prize drawing.  All opinions stated in the post are my own.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

This week in no particular order we're having:

Many beans chili con carne -   From the Company's coming cookbook.  I used to make my own chili not following and recipe but this is the only one I use now.
Rosemary dijon and pork chop dinner - from last week but wasn't made
Santa Fe chicken -  another Krafts kitchen recipe
Baked butter chicken - never made before but it's another from Kraft
Sweet n sour pork chops and peppers - Kraft again!  What can I say......they're usually quick recipes and good!

The rest of the dinners will be leftovers if there's any or something easy like chicken nuggets.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Baby and You Blog Tour

When you're a parent or caregiver of little ones it's nice to have somewhere to go to for advice on potty training, teething or what kinds of foods to feed the kids.  That's where websites such as Baby and You are helpful.  Baby and You is a facebook community created by Loblaws for moms, dads and any caregivers looking for a family-friendly place to talk about anything.  Most of us are probably already visiting facebook everyday anyway so stop by and say hi or ask a question.  They even offer exclusive savings and promotions from time to time.  Check back in early September for something exciting to do with Joe Fresh!

The Baby and You page website has a page called Mom Talk which features a Canadian blogger Mommy Moment.  She focuses on everything mom related.  Another page called Baby Talk features another Canadian blogger Lisa from Growing Your Baby and she talks about anything baby related.  Stop by and join in on the conversations!

As a mom of a 22 month old and a 2 month old I find myself stuck at home a lot and with many of my friends working I'm online a lot building online friendships with other parents and looking for advice or just good conversation.  I'm glad that Mom Central  let me know about this great community and gave me the opportunity to spread the word and join in on the fun!

Disclosure – I am participating in the Baby and You program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Loblaw Companies. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Meal Plan Monday!

It's that time again and I"m a little late again as tonights dinner is already done and took me almost no time at all!

Slow cooker lasagne - from Crock Pot Girls on facebook
saffron couscous and chicken nuggets and veggies
chicken and broccoli casserole
cheesy chili pasta - not sure where it came from
rosemary dijon and pork chop oven dinner

I used a lot of recipes from the Kraft kitchen website as they are usually quick and easy recipes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

babyTrekker story of the month: When Nothing is Going the Right Way

babyTrekker story of the month: When Nothing is Going the Right Way: It's inevitable. There will come a time when you, the parent, will have a dark aha moment that slaps you right in the face. Secretly, you'v...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Seventh Generation Review and Giveaway!

Since having children I made the decision to try and use more natural and eco-friendly products around them.  I knew they'd be putting everything in their mouth and licking the floors so why not make it as safe as possible.  I already use water and vinegar for my floors and I even went as far as buying cloth diapers and making my own laundry and dish washing detergent.  I also have cloth wipes and wipe solution that I made!  This all happened after number two came and I wanted to put forth the effort.  Well reality set in and I discovered that the cloth diapers and still too big for my daughter and her newborn "blow outs", the laundry detergent does NOT get the stains out of her clothes and the dish washing detergent I made leaves a residue and doesn't do a great job.  I haven't even tried the cloth wipes as I had a stash of disposables.  What's a mother to do??

This is where products like Seventh Generation  fit in.  They're safe around my children and pets,  are eco-friendly and actually do the job they're supposed to do.  The containers the products come in are made from recycled plastics.  I got to try out the baby wipes, the dish soap, the all purpose cleaner and the laundry detergent.

The baby wipes are soft and cloth like.  They're free of chlorine processing, fragrances, latex and      petroleum-based lotions.  I felt good using these on my ten week old girl's sensitive baby skin!

The laundry detergent is made from plant derived cleaning agents and enzymes to remove tough stains.  With two kids I do a lot of laundry and this detergent was effective at removing the day to day messes on our clothes.  I like that it's gentle enough to use on everybody's laundry including the baby's.

I do a lot of dishes on a daily basis especially since the baby is bottle fed I'm constantly washing bottles.  I chose the free and clear dish liquid which is free of fragrances and dyes.  It's also made from plant derived cleaning agents and was effective at cleaning all my dishes including greasy pans.  I also found it to be gentle on my skin and felt great using it to clean the bottles.

Two kids, a cat and a husband means the house gets dirty.  The all purpose cleaner, again made from plant derived cleaning agents, was effective in cleaning up these messes.  The cleaner doesn't have strong fumes as some cleaners do and is non-toxic.  I loved that I could just spray a surface and wipe with a cloth and no soapy residue is left behind.  It left my kitchen counters clean and shiny!  My son eats his snacks off of the coffee table so I felt good giving the table a good wipe with this cleaner. 

Join the 7th Gen Nation for access to coupons, special offers and tips for green and healthy living.  Why not help the environment and protect your family by using safe and effective products such as Seventh Generation.  For the giveaway one of my readers will win a 100% organic cotton Seventh Gen eco lunch bag as well as coupons for a free pack of  Seventh Gen diapers, wipes and dishwashing products so you can try these great products for yourself all graciously provided by Seventh Generation.  Contest is open to Canadian residents only and ends on Sept 18th.  For the main entry comment with your best tip on how to be more environmentally conscious.

For extra entries: (leave a comment after doing each one)
1.  Like Seventh Generation on facebook
2.  Like my facebook page
3.  Subscribe to my blog by email
4.  Follow me with GFC
5.  Follow me on networked blogs
6.  Follow me on twitter  @carrieberry17

Disclosure – I am participating in the Seventh Generation program by Mom Central Canada.  I received compensation as a thank you for my participation.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meal Plan Monday!

This post was supposed to go up yesterday but didn't make it.  I decided I would start posting my weekly meal plans in hopes of inspiring/helping other moms with the daily chore of making meals.  For me with a baby and a toddler it has to be something quick, usually 30 min or less, and something the toddler will eat.  I do usually have something for him though on night where we're having steak or something he can't/won't eat but he's usually pretty good.  I don't assign a meal to each day I just like to pick as I go along and I also don't cook something new every night.  If I know I'm making something that'll last 2 days then we'll eat it the next day for dinner.  I'll include the recipes or the sources where possible.  I also don't plan breakfasts/lunches ahead of time though I probably should.  So here's this weeks dinners:

Tacos - using Old El Paso taco kit
One Pot Beef and Rice Skillet
Chicken Nuggets - from a box and with veggies and pasta side dish
Pasta with homemade sauce from the freezer
Chili Sauced Pineapple Pork - from a cookbook I have
Tortellini with jarred pasta sauce

I also love using my crock pot because hubby is home on the mornings and can help out or watch the kids while I start dinner.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Building With M&M's!!

After weeks of building on July 29th Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, BC revealed the Great Pyramid and    Sphinx of Giza build entirely out of M&Ms!  It was created by toy designer Dio Wong and he was assisted by local post secondary students.  It took the students and artists 10 days just to sort the M&Ms into colour piles.      The display stands 10ft tall and 13ft wide making these reproductions the largest in the world!  The display will be at Aberdeen centre until Sept 5th for everyone to see.  I don't think I would have been much help as I love M&Ms and would definitely have been eating more than I should. In my opinion it's a waste of good candy unless somehow the adhesive is edible! Regardless, the display sure looks fantastic!  A short time lapse video of this creation coming to life can be viewed here.

Babies and Sleep Sacks

When my son was born not knowing it at the time, I really lucked out!  From birth he was only feeding twice a night then at 5 weeks slept 8-9 hours and at 3.5 months, 11 hours and no feeds!  I read everything I could on babies and sleep, when, where, how etc.  I'm not sure how but I was so glad when I discovered sleep sacks!  I think we were shopping in the US when he was really young and I saw one at the store.  I had just been wrapping him in a blanket but he didn't move much yet so that was ok.  I bought the sleep sack and began using it right away.  When he grew out of it I looked around in Canada and discovered the Halo sleep sacks at a store just down the street.  You can buy cotton or microfleece ones depending on time of year.  I've always used the microfleece as both my kids have air conditioning in their rooms to keep a comfortable temperature all year round which I also think has contributed to my son sleeping well.  We just stopped using sleep sacks last week (he's 22 months old) when he moved into his big boy bed because I want him to be able to safely get out of bed.  I started using the sleep sacks on my daughter since birth (she's 9 weeks) and she loves them.  They keep baby cozy and warm all night since they can't kick them off  and there's a little reminder on the front that says back is best to remind us to put baby down on their backs to sleep.  I really can't say enough about sleep sacks and how great they are!  They're available online and at select baby stores and major retailers.  I've seen them even up to size 4 with feet openings for them to walk!

All opinions here are my own on product I have purchased myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this post. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Click for Babies - PURPLE Crying

My daughter is 8 weeks old and yesterday evening she was crying for no reason and couldn't be calmed down.  This reminded me of the PURPLE crying information they sent home with me from the hospital so I took a break from her and read some of the info.  My son wasn't a crier so this is all fairly new to me.  I learned that everything she was doing is normal and all babies go through this crying period but some just cry a lot less than others.  Thankfully I also learned that is usually peaks at 8 weeks then decreases from here.  It's frustrating when your child is screaming and you can't do anything to calm them down but it's nice to know you're not alone and it's completely normal and won't hurt them in the long run.

Click for Babies is an initiative for knitters and crocheters across North America to make purple caps for babies.    It's an effort to prevent infant child abuse mostly shaken baby syndrome and educate people about PURPLE crying.  Knitters are getting together right now and making purple caps to be distributed to babies across North America in the month of November.

Everyday across North America babies are shaken because their caregivers get frustrated with the crying.  I would NEVER even think of doing that no matter how bad it gets.  I put her down somewhere safe and walk away for 5 minutes or get someone else to take over.  Please Click for Babies and help spread the word.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hydrasense Nasal Aspirator Review

Anyone knows that newborns can't blow their own nose.  A while ago when my son was a baby I was given the opportunity to try the Hydrasense Nasal Aspirator but at the time I wasn't blogging.  Now that I have another little one and she just had her first cold at the age of 6 weeks I was able to pull out my trusty aspirator and use it on her.  It's a long tube hooked up to a device with a filter inside and a soft tip that you place at the entrance of baby's nose.  Your mouth is placed at the end of the long tube and you use gentle suction to draw out any secretions from the baby's nose.  The filter protects you from anything going up the tube.  I love that you have total control over the suction and the device is clear so you can see that it's working.  It comes with extra filters so they can be changed with each use and the whole device is really easy to clean.  Babies sleep better, breathe better and eat better if their nose is clear.  It worked wonders on my daughter throughout her cold.  Consequently my 21 month old son was sick at the same time and I hadn't used the device on him in a long time when he started really resisting it but this time he thought it was kind of fun and I was able to clear his nose too!  Join the Dolphin's Club to receive instant rebates and the lasted information on nasal care.

I believe I received this through a Mom Central campaign some time ago to spread the word, which I did through other means but I didn't have an active blog at the time!  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I Hate Pacifiers!!

I think that pictures of cute babies with a huge pacifier hanging out of their mouth look stupid! It ruins the photo in my opinion!  When I saw this article on pacifiers I'd have to agree with everything she says.  And yes......I do have a few such photos of my son the first few weeks and I don't like them but luckily he didn't take to the pacifier so at 2 weeks old didn't use them anymore or even tried.  This is why at 7 weeks old I stopped using them with my daughter.  It was clearly becoming a habit (waking every hour at night to pop it back in) and I'm not having any of that!  So she's sleeping longer stretches now just 2 days later and if she feels the need to suck she has her fist.  It's attached so she can't lose it at 4am!!

I saw a 3 year old the other day with a huge pink pacifier hanging out of her mouth.  I know the first few weeks are about survival (and that's why my daughter naps in her carseat at times!) but a 3 year old (or even any child over 6 months, in my opinion) does NOT need a pacifier, soother or binky.....whatever you want to call it.  There's a problem for sure if your child has to take it out of their mouth to talk to you!  Agree with me or not, this is just my opinion.  This is coming from someone who sucked their thumb until they were 5!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Toddlers and TV

At our house and many others I'm sure, the TV is on most of the day.  I like the background noise and most of the time I'm not even paying attention to it.  My son is 21 months old though and he'll often stand there and stare at whatever is on TV cartoons or not.  Most sources say children under 2 shouldn't be watching any TV at all.  My son is at the age where he's repeating everything we say including what he sees on TV so I make an effort to keep it on clean channels when it is on.  Even better I put it on a music channel which plays music but shows a black screen.

I've chosen to let him watch an hour of TV a day (sometimes a little more...gimme a break, I have a 7 week old too!)  His favourite shows are Yo Gabba Gabba  and Rolie Polie Olie and he'll even ask for them by name.  I don't want my son to become a zombie mesmerized by the TV like other people I know (who may kill me if they read this) and impede on his abilities to use his imagination and learning by play.  There are too many studies out there showing how too much TV has detrimental effects on children and learning.  It's just so easy to use the TV as a babysitter or in my case, to keep the toddler temporarily occupied while I'm busy with his sister.  Thankfully it hasn't become too much of a battle in our house (except maybe with hubby) and my son will usually find something else to do when it's off.  How much TV do your children watch?