Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

#Merry Christmas to you all!

Zeemaid

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Unicef Great Gift Giving

At this time of year, more than any other, we become so much more aware of how little so many have.  It serves as a reminder to us that we are so very blessed to be living in this Country and to have shelter over our heads a food in our stomaches. 

At this time of year, when my children are showered lavishly with gifts from aunts, uncles and grandparents, it makes it even more important for me to teach my children how to give back to those in need.  It's important for them to realize that we are living the exception, not the norm here.  

Which is why programs like Unicef's Ethical Giving is growing more and more in popularity among Canadians. 

Christmas with Hallmark

Well, I’m a little late with this post because it seems like Christmas is just around the corner.  On the other hand, maybe you are weary of battling the crowds and need to take some time out to pause and enjoy some of the simpler and prettier things in life.


Which is why I present to you … Things That Make Me Smile from Hallmark’s latest holiday seasonal offerings.

Hallmark Swooshin Duo.

I have to admit I am a sucker for these types of holiday decorations.  In fact, I get just about as excited to press that button as my nine year old.  Check out the video below.



Adorable, right?   Just $15.95 with the purchase of three Hallmark Cards. 

Bell, Interactive Story Buddy.

bell She’s too sweet for words.  Bell responds as you read key words or phrases from her book.  My girls love this little puppy and enjoyed reading “Bell’s Big Move.  Also included is a read-along cd.  My 7 year old loves for me to put the cd on when she goes to bed.  She snuggles up with Bell and listens to the story before falling asleep.  Also available is online story time at Hallmark.com/Bell and Bell’s Big Move app available on the App Store.  Priced at $34.95

Wireless Children’s Angel Choir

Quite possibly my favourite Hallmark item this year.  Each of the four angels in the choir moves in time to the two songs that each sings individually.  When put together with other members of the choir, they sync up wirelessly with each other and move in time and sing or play along with each other.  Each angel sings two.  Just $14.95 with any purchase at a Hallmark store.  I have Faith and Michael and definitely would like to get the other two to complete the set.  Adorable.




My two other favourite items that I received in my Hallmark package were 


Glad to Greet You Snowball Door Decor

This little guy is motion activated singing a parody of "Deck the Halls" and says seven phrases.  It looks like  it is supposed to hang on your window with window cling, but I'm not really trusting it as the snowball itself is fairly heavy. It could be that I've misunderstood the instructions though but I used a hook to hang it up anyways.  It is a little bit loud so I am thankful there is an off switch for when it gets to be too much.  A great crowd pleaser though and lots of fun. 


Talking Mistletoe

Another motion activated item, this Mistletoe turns up the laughs with a funny French accent and silly sayings.  Like "On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... two French kisses.  What can I say, I'm allergic to Hens." 


Recordable Storybooks 
It doesn't matter how many times I see these books, they are always so special.  My children really enjoy listening to me record a story for them and then playing it back later.  A great gift for those moms or dads that have to work away or maybe just can't make it back at bedtime.  Nothing like helping a child feel loved or secure than by hearing their parent's voices.  And now since my daughter is now 9, she loves the idea of recording her own voice as she reads the story. 

Of course, Hallmark has wonderful other gift ideas such as keepsake ornaments, beautiful Christmas cards, Christmas Albums and more.  

To check out these items and for more information or to find a store near you, visit www.Hallmark.ca.

Well, any of these items bring smile to your face?  Let me know in a comment below.

Happy shopping, 

Zeemaid
*disclosure, I received the above items in order to conduct my review.  As always the opinions and experiences stated herein are my own and truly reflect my views on the products reviewed.*

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Getting Your Teeth Clean Arm & Hammer

Part of being a mom to three children means that I don’t always take care of myself the way I should.  Sure I would like to visit the dentist every 6 months but my busy schedule and health plan means I’m lucky to squeeze a cleaning in once every 9 months.  So I do worry about plaque and plaque build up especially since I’m not a great flosser.

When I heard that the ARM & HAMMER® Spinbrush™ Pro Clean™ Battery Toothbrush can remove up to 70% more plaque in those hard to reach places, I was eager to try it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Playing for Keeps - Giveaway

Well my favourite sexy, Scottish actor, Gerard Butler, is back in Film District's holiday must see romantic comedy 


PLAYING FOR KEEPS

Gerard Butler plays a down-on-his luck former soccer star who returns home to put his life back together.  When he tries to rebuild his relationship with his son, he gets roped into coaching a boy's soccer team but his efforts to finally become an "adult" are met with hilarious challenges from the attractive "soccer moms" who pursue him relentlessly.  Also starring is Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid and is directed by Gabriele Muccino, the director of the Pursuit of Happyness.




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide & Ice Age 4 Blu-ray Giveaway


 Holiday Gift Guide


"Ahoy, matey! Blue Sky Studios unveils a brand new chapter in one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Bringing together the visually epic and the emotionally powerful, ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT sets sail on Blu-ray™ 3D, Blu-ray™, and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on December 11, just in time for the holidays."
While Ice Age 4 tops the list of holiday must haves, here are a few other items that your kids just may be asking for. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday - Great Deals or Huge Nightmare

I'm from Canada and since our Thanksgiving is held in October, we don't do the whole "Black Friday" hype here.  On some level, a part of me felt like we Canadians were missing out especially when so many of our American channels hype up all the supposedly great deals to be had the day after Thanksgiving.

Having said that, however, it has been creeping up on me that more and more of our Canadian advertising has been directed to "Black Friday" deals, especially in my community.  Every where I look I see "Black Friday" sales being advertised and can't help but feel like the higher ups are trying to jump on the whole "Black Friday" gravy train.

Of course, the deals are no where as good as they are in the U.S. considering how much more expensive everything here in Canada is.  Still, I can't help but wonder if there is a subtle campaign going on to bring this marketing phenomenon to Canada.

Up until I saw this video, I might not have thought that was such a bad idea.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Help Make a Wish and Gravol

It seems like more and more children are being diagnosed with serious illnesses and it breaks my heart.  I believe every child should have an opportunity to enjoy  life to the fullest and to laugh and share memories with their loved ones and to just be a kid.  

Since 1984,The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada has granted over 17,000 wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Children’s Wish is proud of its tradition of never refusing a wish to an eligible child.





Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ice Age: Continental Drift – Activity Sheet


We are not big movie goers.  Quite frankly, the cost of taking a family of 5 to the theatres these days is outrageous!  Having said that, I have to admit there are just some films you just have to see on the big screen.  The Ice Age series falls into that category. Each film has brought us something (or someone) new to fall in love with and we love that the voices of our favourite actors have remained the same with each film. 

We, of course, loved the latest Ice Age: Continental Drift and are excited that we will get to watch it again soon as it’s coming to Blu-ray and DVD December 11th.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

We or I should say.. I have a tendency to be a little too honest with my kids. I didn't sugar coat it when they asked where hamburgers came from or do people really eat cats and bunnies etc. I've even been known to drop little known facts into their ears like "men typically die before women" but don't worry mommy married a younger man so we should be good.  

So when O had a field trip to the Airport recently and shared how he saw the "interrogation room", you just know my kids want to know why they had an interrogation room at the airport.  Well, you should have seen my husband's eye start twitching as I told them that it's for the bad guys.  Of course, he thought I was going to get into the whole terrorist thing which I had no intention of going there.  As we later discussed, we do plan on taking our kids on an airplane at one point in the next year we do not want to freak them out with true stories of terrorists.  

In fact, we could only imagine our kids comments would be as we sat waiting for our flight.  

"mommy, do you think that man is a terrorist?"
"Dad, do you think someone has a bomb on them?"

Not that we'd be the first family to be hustled off an airplane due to suspected terrorist activities.  It seems lately all we hear is about extreme airport policies and with the Christmas season coming up, you know it's just going to get worse.

Oh and no I haven't gotten into the whole where do babies come from thing other than to say from mommie's tummy.  I'm just waiting for the "how does it get in mummy's tummy" question.  Oh boy.

How about you?  How honest are you with your kids?

Zeemaid

Friday, November 2, 2012

Topricin Junior – Review & Giveaway

My children don’t get injured very often but when they do I am often at a loss as to what to do for them other than to give them some Advil.  I don’t like medicating my children as I don’t believe it’s good for them and feel even less comfortable when you hear recall after recall on children's products.

Then there’s all the odd little things like bumps, rashes and skin irritations that there is really very little you can do about. Which is why I was happy to learn about Topricin Junior, a pain relief and healing cream featuring homeopathic biomedicines.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

School Struggles - Book Review


If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know that my oldest daughter has struggled significantly at school for the past couple of years. One of the biggest difficulties we’ve faced is figuring out how to help her.  That is once we got past the whole, “you just need to focus and try harder” mistake that most parents and even some teachers make.   

So when I was asked to read and review “School Struggles – A Guide to Your Shut-Down Learner’s Success” by Richard Selznick, PhD, I very quickly said yes.  After all this is a subject very close to my heart and any help is welcome. Dr. Selznick is a psychologist, nationally certified school psychologist, graduate school professor and assistant professor of pediatrics.  As the director of the Cooper Learning Center, he oversees a program that assesses and treats a broad range of learning and school-based behavioral and learning problems in children. 

 I was struck right away by how easy the book was to read and it is evident from almost page one how much Dr. Selznick desires to help children that are struggling.  His insight is bang on.  When he describes the “smooth road and rough road kids”, I could see how my daughter fit into the profile of a rough road kid.  Every paragraph lit up bells in my head of how it fit our situation.  I probably have a dozen or so pages dog eared to either share with my husband or to go back to. 

It’s been a hard road for us all as a family this past year and I felt somewhat exonerated when I read that “Parenting isn’t the root of all childhood problems”.  Thank you, very much! Obviously parenting has a major affect on your children but given that if only one out of three of your children is challenging, not all blame can be laid at the parent’s door.  

Of course, that exonerated feeling quickly evaporated as I had to admit to the “Yelling is overdone and overrated as a parenting tool.” Guilty there.  Although we are trying to correct this in ourselves, especially as we have come to the realization it has nothing to do with not trying hard enough. 

So what do you do if your child is a rough road learner? Well, after each chapter Dr. Selznick gives a short summary called “Takeaway Point” wherein he sets out the main point and makes some suggestions.  There are also many “Try This” paragraphs that follow the Takeaway Point with extra tips for helping your child practice reading, getting organized etc.

There is just too much in this book to cover in one blog post. Just a few of the things that I am taking away from this book are some practical tips on helping my child keep on track organizationally, being supportive and helping navigate those tricky social waters and some important parenting tools on how to temper my own reactions and to be more clear. I will also be using some of the learning to read tips for my younger two children as they each approach stage one and two on the reading road. 

So if you have a child that is struggling in school, I would highly recommend reading this book.  You will find many helpful tools therein.  It’s not rocket science but sometimes all we need is someone to point us in the right direction and give our thoughts a new direction. 

Zeemaid

Available online and wherever books are sold. For more information visit www.drselz.com

*disclosure – I received a copy of this book in order to conduct the review.  I was in no other way compensated for this post and as always the opinions expressed herein are my own.*

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bullies Everywhere You Look


My husband and I went to a meeting about bullying the other night.  It was a meeting involving all the parents of the grade 4/5 split class.  My oldest daughter’s class.  She’s nine and this is the child who most likely has Aspergers but is not yet formally diagnosed.

What I got out of this meeting:

1.                  The school truly does care and is implementing strategies to keep the children safe and learning material to teach about empathy and kindness.  As one mom says “Doing nothing is the absence of kindness”  So even though another child may not be doing the teasing or bullying, if they do nothing it is the absence of kindness.

2.                  That parents who have “normal” children really have no idea what the reality is of a special needs child and tend to less understanding. 

3.                  That parents who have “normal” children can be totally blind as to the faults of their children.

If I never had my E, I probably would have been guilty of the same lack of sympathy and understanding.  Given that E has been pretty challenging from the get go, something that should have twigged us earlier, gave me to understand that it’s not all about parenting or lack of discipline.  Some of it definitely comes down to a child’s personality.   So when I met other parents of extremely active kids, I got it and I tried not to judge them or their children. 

However, it wasn’t until we came to realize that our own child was actually a special needs child that true empathy came.  When a boy in my son’s preschool class was wild and crazy, it took only one vague conversation with his mother to make me realize that her son has some sort of special needs.  You see, I had learned some of the lingo along the way and although the mother never came out and said this is what’s going on with her son, I could pick up a few clues and put two and two together.

So when another parent approached me and complained about the child and criticized the mother for not getting him under control, I was taken aback and quietly pointed out that he had special needs.  That rolled off the parent like they never even heard it.  Because they have no understanding what it’s like to parent a special needs child. 

My heart broke for that mom as she was alienated by the other parents because of her "bad" son and tried to make a point of going and talking to her on field trips. 

Just like my heart broke for that poor mom who had to sit in the meeting and listen to everyone’s concerns about her son.  I don’t know what her son has but he’s prone to violent outbursts.  Most of the time he’s a sweet, good natured little boy but when you get a couple of “cool” kids who decide to poke and tease him to get a reaction out of him, well, things go downhill pretty fast. 

She’s aware of what he is like and I can see how burned out she is carrying this burden.  No one wants to be the parent of the misbehaving child.  Yet, it was so obvious that the two parents whose boy’s were doing the bugging, were less concerned about their child’s actions and more concerned that this boy might harm their children.
There wasn’t even an acknowledgement of, okay my kid was being a jerk.  It was this boy gets too upset too easy and what is the school doing to protect my son from him. 

And that my friends is why bullying is prevalent in our society.  No matter how many programs the government comes up with, no matter how often the school says they have a no bully tolerance policy in place it all falls apart when one person denies it’s happening.

Case in my point, my nephew was bullied for years by a particular kid in their neighbourhood.  This kid had once been his friend and invited to birthdays etc.  Eventually, the kid decided that it was more fun to pick on my nephew than play with him.  He managed to turn an entire playground against him.  When the school met with the parents to discuss the issue, the bully’s mother said and I quote “If ___ wasn’t so sensitive my son wouldn’t pick on him”.  And even went on to suggest that my nephew had an unhealthy fascination for her son and was being a shit disturber.  To the point that this woman went out of her way to approach the coaches on sports teams to make sure they were away of the issue.  Her son could do no wrong in her eyes.  We lived in a small town.  Eventually my brother and his family moved out of that neighbourhood despite a severe economic downturn just to get away from that family.  

So it was disheartening to sit across from these two mothers and listen to them.  Especially, when I know that one of their sons taunts my daughter and calls her names on a daily basis.   Apparently, two of them even joined together and drew a picture of her getting killed. I know, right. 

To top all of that off, my daughter has no friends in this class this year.  The ongoing name calling certainly doesn't help.  While she does get involved in her own play and ends up on her own quite a bit, she does crave friendships and wants to play with the other girls.  So when the principal says to me that E draws herself away and plays with the younger ones because she likes to mother them, part of me has to agree because I know my child and her quirks and yet the other part of me says.. but she asked to play with the other kids and they said no… so what is she supposed to do?  Of course she will go and play with those that will play with her even if they are younger. 

What do you say to your girl when she tells you she wishes she had the personality of the girl she thinks is popular in her class?  She doesn't want to change her looks, just wishes she has the popular girl's personality.  

Some days this is all just too much for me to handle. 

Zeemaid

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just Two Mushrooms


2012-10-14 12.39.57

It’s just two mushrooms but I thought it was a cool photo nonetheless.  We don’t see mushrooms like this very often. Isn’t it nice that technology ensures a camera is never far away even if it is just on a phone. 
Have you taken any odd photos lately on your phone?

Zeemaid

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kicking Lunches up a Notch

I have to admit for the first few years of school, I had it easy.  My oldest would eat anything and everything.  She was happiest with a cheese sandwich, a piece of fruit, a treat and some sort of granola bar for recess.  Easy kid to feed. Okay so it was boring but in my defense, I had two small toddlers wiping snot on my pant legs every time I stepped into the kitchen so easy and boring was my fastest option. 

Enter child number 2, who is slightly more difficult to feed.  At first she’d tolerate most things in her lunch but with loose teeth combined with same food everyday itis, she started to knock items she was willing to eat off the list one by one.

But lets get to child #3.  While a healthy eater, he will consume any amount of noodles, potatoes, and sausage, he hates all things sandwiches. This kid’s favourite meal type of food is supper. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In Over My Head

I know that change can be hard.  Even if it’s a change that you really had been looking forward to. Like my youngest starting kindergarten.  I feel like I’ve been waiting a long time for that.  And it’s good.  It really is.  He’s making friends and learning all sorts of new things.  He’s getting a little wild in the process playing with all the big boys but I’m hoping it will straighten all out in the end. 

What came along with this change is the fact that I am now working semi-fulltime with my husband.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working with my husband and if we have a little snipe at each other once in a while it doesn’t take long for us to clear the air and get over it.  After all, we’re both trying to make this work.  The upside to working with hubs is:
    • I get to work with my best friend.
    • He takes the kids to school and heads to work.  I eat my breakfast and then do a short work out on the treadmill and he gives me the liberty to be a little late getting in to work.
    • I get to leave every day at 2:30 so I can pick my children up from school where I get to talk to other moms and have a chance to socialize for a bit.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nothing like A Phone Call From School

As a working mom, that has to be the one dreaded call. You know, the one that informs you that your son or daughter is sick and you must immediately come and pick them up.  Enter heavy sigh here

I feel for my kids when they are sick but let’s face it, it never happens at a convenient time.  Like today, I had postponed my morning projects to work on the Halloween display at our video store.  Just as I was about to get started on the office projects, the phone rings and it’s the school informing me that my eldest (E) had a sore throat and wants to come home and oh yeah, your second daughter had a fall and has a scrape that’s been iced but she’s back to class now… just so you know. Oh okay, good.

Imagine my surprise when I get to the school and pick up my oldest,  I’m greeted by the news that J is hysterical in the sick room crying for me.  Instant pang to my heart.  Of course when mommy gets in the room the waterworks become even louder.  Imagine my reaction when i peel back the ice pack and find this just above her hip bone…
2012-10-01 15.20.55
Um, so she fell on what? A pipe?  Add to that she can only hobble along because her hip is aching and then they send her back to class.  Even bending over is difficult.  No wonder she’s in tears and near hysterical.  The poor child is in pain.  By the time I get her in the van, she’s resumed crying hysterically, gasping for breath and now I’m crying too.  So it’s off to the doctor’s office we go just to make sure there isn’t something seriously wrong.

Aside from some Advil, a rest on the couch and some cartoons to watch there isn’t much I can do but you can bet I will be investigating where she fell tomorrow.  As it is, I am now sitting her typing this one handed while I hold her hand.

So while I feel sorry for my kids, I can't help but flash through all the things I didn't get finished today and lament that every time it looks like I'm going to get some time to get organized something like this happens.  If it's not emergencies, then it's dentists appointments, tutoring, or fundraising meetings or hubs has to step out for something that ends up taking two hours.  Sigh.

Still, I'd rather be here holding her hand, making sure she has her snack, drink and blankie than be anywhere else.

Zeemaid

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Surprises with Hallmark

Well summer vacation is over and while the warm weather is lingering, the evenings are already getting a little bit cooler and definitely shorter.  Fall is in the air.

Were you surprised this year to find Halloween decorations already out when you were doing your final back to school shopping in August?  I certainly was, I definitely think it’s too early to thinking about costumes and I don’t even want to think about bags of candy sitting in my house… alone… unattended for weeks.  Let’s just say there probably wouldn’t be much left for the kids.

Still, I have to admit that I was pretty excited when I opened up my latest shipment from Hallmark to find some of their new Halloween products.

Like the Ghostly Singing Duo. 
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mom of the Year – It’s Down to 8 Finalists


I was excited when Walmart launched their first ever “Mom of the Year” contest. After all, mom’s work hard and deserve some recognition.  So it was no small wonder that the response was overwhelming with over 16,900 nominations. With so many inspiring stories, it was bound to be very difficult for the judges to narrow it down to just 8 finalists. 

I have had a chance to read the stories on all 8 finalists and while they are all inspiring, one spoke to me more than the others and that’s…  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Check out Knit Babies for A Chance To Win - Giveaway Notice


KnitBabies is hosting a fabulous giveaway  - 


$100 Restaurant Gift Card AND $25.00 in Paypal




Entry is super easy.  There are no hoops to jump through.  You can either enter in the form below or head over to http://www.knitbabies.com/pages/win-free-stuf

Don't delay, giveaway ends September 22nd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Zeemaid

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New OxiClean Max Force Power Crystals - Giveaway

maforceI want to introduce OxiClean’s New MaxForce Power Crystals, a laundry stain fighter and in-wash booster.  Formulated with 40% more brightening and whitening power versus leading laundry detergents, providing colour protection and whiter whites saving your clothes and your money.

Benefits
  • 4 in 1 formula works in warm or cold water
  • Crystal powder format dissolves quickly and completely
  • Removes tough stains the 1st time, including grass, blood, food, grease, oil, soil and clay
  • Extends the life of your clothes saving you money in the long run
  • Does not contain chlorine bleach
  • Safe to use in both regular and HE washing machines
What I love the most about this new OxiClean MaxForce Power Crystals (seriously that name is too long tho ;) is that it is a finer powder causing it to dissolve quickly and because of it’s concentrated strength, as little as 2 tablespoons is sufficient to do the job. 

By now most of you have heard all of my amazing stain removing stories using OxiClean.  Well, I have a new one.  Take a brand new $20.00 pale yellow uniform shirt and one child determined to pick blackberries despite the fact she’s been told not to.  Add in a hug or two from a fellow blackberry picker and then let said stain set the rest of the school day.  Let’s just say I wasn’t pleased and despite the fact that I’m always praising OxiClean, I wasn’t 100% sure the stain would come out.  Well, color me thankful because after treating the stain, letting it set for a few minutes and a quick wash, the shirt came out spotless.  The child will live another day.

I can honestly say OxiClean is my favourite stain fighting product because it works the first time.  I have even had luck in getting rid of those mysterious oil stains that show up on my clothes after they’ve been through the dryer. (argh)  Which is why I like to add a little boost to my wash.  The new concentrated strength of OxiClean’s MaxForce Power Crystals makes that affordable.

For more stain fighting information visit www.oxiclean.ca.

Enter to Win and try it for yourself!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

How about you?  Have you tried OxiClean yet?

Zeemaid

*I received a bottle of OxiClean's MaxFox Power Crystals in order to conduct this product review. No other compensation was provided.  The opinions expressed herein regarding the use of this product as always  reflect my true experiences. *

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Summer 2012 - A Re-cap

Ah back to school. It reminds me of that old Staples commercial…



That’s not to say that I’m not sad to see summer go.  I am.  We’ve had an incredibly busy summer that seemed to end all too early with hubs and I both spending the last two weeks of it sick. Yuck.

Still, we managed to do quite a bit this summer and as always I look back and wish we had done more. 

For example we only visited the water park three times this summer.  Three times.  Of course, the first time we went, we had to leave after 20 minutes due to a collision and a lump the size of a goose egg on daughter’s forehead that needed icing. 

The second time we managed only 5 minutes before child#3, did a full body wipeout, complete with scraped knee, rubble embedded chest and bloody nose. And the third time..... crap, maybe we only went twice.  That’s even worse. 


2012-08-13 14.29.45We did manage to camp twice and by camp I mean, stayed in a cabin.  After 4 days baking in the hot sun in a tent last year, we took the easy way out and stayed in cabins twice this summer.   Oh and unlike previous summers the weather was excellent both times. The kids were able to swim, bike, roast marshmallows, tell ghost stories and go down a water slide.

2012-08-12 18.52.36We did manage to spend a lot of time in the pool in our backyard.

I did manage to sew mermaid tales for both girls which turned out phenomenally cool. I even sewed a swimsuit for E which while not technically the most perfect sewing job I have ever accomplished, still looked pretty with her blue mermaid tale.





We visited with relatives from Europe and went to a pig roast. 

We attended the Fall Fair, ate cotton candy, french fries, fried oysters, and popcorn, did a cakewalk, pet chickens, cows, lamas, rabbits and goats, jumped on bouncy castles, surfed on motorized surf board and listened to great live music. 


Oh and rode a pony. 


We did a stint in emergency, requiring my five year old son to be held down by two adults while he got five stitches sewn in.  Kudos to the doctor, but seriously, could you sew a little faster? I think I strained all the muscles in my shoulders holding him down. See the scar, I'm nice by only showing you the after effects.  oh and the dimples on his nose... from the wipe-out at the water park. 

We scored a new play house from the neighbour down the street and were fortunate to have to amazing neighbours and a friend who helped us move it up the street. 




We saw two killer whales swimming off our coast.  This was very cool because it’s pretty rare to actually see them while standing on shore. In a boat, yes.  On shore, never.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo as I didn’t have my camera and somehow as great as my phone is, it’s not quite up to that zoom capability needed.

Not to mention the kids participated in two morning camps.. one week of Fun Food and Fitness and one week of Arts and Crafts. 

Oh and I managed to convince hubs that it was time for a new phone.  I now am the happy owner of the new Samsung Galaxy S III.  

samsung phoneSomething which I thought was no big deal until a techie friend of mine, who is a diehard Iphone owner admitted to hubs that he was envious.  

So this phone which has been somewhat annoying in that I’m adjusting from having used a Blackberry for the past 3 years, has been bumped up in my estimation.  Besides, new toys always give me a lift and it’s so rare we can afford them. 







What about you?  

Did you accomplish all that you wanted to this summer?


Zeemaid

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Do You Do this?

I'm sick thanks in large part to the summer cold my son has and his poor hygiene skills.  Let's face it, I can only nag him so much to wash his hands and when he has this disgusting habit of sticking his fingers up to his nose and then dragging them down his face to his mouth..gak... I'm doomed.

So now I'm sick.  What started with a tickle has grown into fullblown sinus/cough/chest whatchamacallit the I need Nyquil to sleep cold.  So while hubs heads off to work, I've been trying to figure out how to entertain three kids and still flop on the couch as it seems only sitting still for a while relieves the need to hack.

All I can think about is lying down and taking a nap.  Do I round up the kids, lock the doors, put the t.v. on and head for the couch?  No.  I clean the house.  Seriously.  Day 1 of being sick finds me sweeping, spot mopping, doing the laundry, emptying the dishwasher and de-cluttering.  I literally had sweat pouring down my face.  Why? Because I won't feel so guilty sitting on my arse if my house is somewhat clean.  After all, it should look like I've made some attempt to keep tidy when hubs comes home.  Because you know, it doesn't matter how crappy you feel, you always get the feeling that they never quite get it and that you're just being a whiner.  Unlike a man cold, which is serious people.

Have you seen this commercial?




It's funny because it's true.  Hubs doesn't get it though ;)

Anyways,  how about you.  Do you feel guilty not doing your regular routine when you're sick or do you say to heck with it and take some down time guilt free?

Zeemaid

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Arm & Hammer Cold Water - Coupon Alert

I've posted about my experiences with Arm &  Hammer liquid laundry detergent a few times now and so most of you know that I think this is a great product.  Easy on your clothes, smells wonderful and oh yeah, it gets your clothes clean. ;)

So it's no different with Arm & Hammer's new Cold Water Liquid Laundry Detergent.  

I have to admit that in my quest to get my familiy's clothes really clean, I've been turning more and more to warm/hot water washes.  I know, I know.  Not only does it increase my energy bills but it's not great for the environment.  So with more and more companies producing detergents that work just as well in cold water, I'm glad to see Arm & Hammer doing the same.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Arm & Hammer Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter - Review

I am fortunate in that the cleaning of all things litter related falls to my husband.  Of course, I flat out refused to deal with it but still he's a dear all the same.  The litter detail is bad enough with one cat but when we got the second cat (hubs idea by the way), we definitely needed extra help in combating the odors. Especially since we don't get to cleaning the litter box everyday.  Arm & Hammer's new Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter is formulated to beat the daily scoop by providing long lasting odour control.   

It's been a couple of weeks since we (and by we I mean hubs) switched out our old litter for Arm & Hammer's new Ultra Last.  What I have noticed is that the odour has been under control especially in this hot weather.  Most of the time I don't notice the litter box unless I'm in the same room with it.  What hubs has noticed is that the litter seems dryer and clumps better.  He's found it easy to use and the litter gives off a fresh scent as he's scooping which helps make an unpleasant job a little more pleasant.  I've also noticed less litter on the floor everyday although any litter on the floor is still too much and I don't think we're ever going to get away from that.  

Initially, we had a hard time finding the Ultra Last litter at the stores in our area but recently Wal-Mart has been advertising it in their flyers so I know they've picked it up now.  Definitely worth trying out! 




The all new ARM & HAMMER® Ultra Last™ Clumping Cat Litter features:.
  •  ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda coated granules and special odor neutralizers that continuously eliminate even the worst litter box odors
  •  Provides immediate and long lasting odour protection, even if the litter box isn’t scooped every day
  •  Moisture activated fresh scent deodorizes the litter every time the cat uses the litter box
  • Rock solid clumps allow for easy removal of the source of odors

Available at retailers across Canada   Sizes: 6.4 kg – SRP: $6.99 - $8.99   
12.7 kg – SRP: $13.99 - $15.99

For more pet care tips visit www.armandhammer.ca


How about you?  Who does litter duty in your house? 

Zeemaid

*disclosure  - As always the reviews and opinions contained herein are my own and reflect my true opinions.  No other compensation for this post was received other than receiving a box of the litter to try out.*





Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hey Coffee, Coffee – A Tassimo Review

TASSIMO T55 Opal Black A week or so ago I wrote a post titled Gas Station Coffee is Just fine For Me.  Well, who would have thought that that little rant would lead to me reviewing the latest Tassimo T55 in my own home. 


And let’s just say…. I’m in love.

Oh how I’ve longed to have one of these one cup brewers for quite some time, so when my store sold I bought the el cheapo travel sized version from Tassimo’s competitor. (We won’t name names here but it rhymes with *cough* smeurig.)  Sure it was fun, we had a variety of flavours to try out but it did fall a little short expectations wise.  It just didn’t taste as wonderful as the coffee we had tried at friends.  Not to mention the water just did not get hot enough which resulted in my boiling the kettle first and then adding the hot water to resevoir.

In fairness, this could be due to the fact that it’s marketed as a “travel-sized” brewer since it only holds one cup’s worth of water at a time.

Not so with the Tassimo T55.  First impressions were that it was sleek and compact.  I was expecting something a little bit bigger and was relieved that this brewer was not going to take up a lot of counter real estate.  I also was impressed with the packaging.  It too was compact with no fluff or filler to deal with. 

I have to admit it took some time to clean and set this baby up .  First it had to run through some sort of cleaning cycle 4 times and then the water filter (yes it has it’s own water filter) needed to have water run through it three times.  But oh, it was so worth it.  We bought Tassimo’s latte coffee which comes with 8 t-discs of coffee and 8 t-discs of milk.  It was so smooth and so delicious we absolutely loved it.  I really do think the water filtration helps with the coffee flavour since it helps filter out things like chlorine.  Besides the flavour the next biggest question is… did it get hot enough?  It definitely did, as it was steaming the milk I could see the steam rising from the machine.   I do wonder a little what exactly is in the “milk” because it doesn’t require refrigeration and it states specifically not to do so or freeze it for that matter.  Still it does taste delicious. 

I almost forgot to mention that another cool feature of this machine is that you can specify cup size.  Of course, I want to max out my pleasure from this baby and so far every cup I’ve made has been the “larger” cup.  It has a holder that you can use to raise or lower you cup up towards the dispenser so there isn’t any backsplash.  It comes completely out for larger cups and so far I’m thinking it might just stay that way.  For now anyways. 

Of course, hubs and I couldn't help doing the math. The average cup of coffee works out to between 50 – 75 cents depending on where you buy your t-discs.  Now if are a 100 cup a day coffee drinker, like my mother, sure this really isn’t the affordable way to go.  However, if you drink just one or two cups a day or have a bad coffee shop latte habit, this brewer will definitely save you money.  Priced at roughly just over a dollar, we’re talking about some serious savings. 

Check out Tassimo.com for more information on their machines and the variety of flavours.  Right now they have an offer going o:n:  when you spend over $60.00 the shipping is free.  Or you could enter to win your own Tassimo T55 brewer by stopping by Tassimo’s Facebook page. Right now Tassimo Canada is giving away one brewer a day plus $100 worth of T-Discs until August 24th.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to trying out other flavours of coffee and am planning on taking the Tassimo T55 with us camping.  I know, right?  We may not have a fancy smancy trailer but darn it we will have good coffee!

So… what’s in your cup?

Zeemaid

*disclosure – In the Mommy Trenches received the above product for the purposes of conducting this review and did not receive any other compensation.  As always the opinions expressed herein are those of Zeemaid and reflect her true thoughts and experiences with the product*

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Mermaid Birthday Party

E had her "fake birthday" at the end of the school year.  I say "fake" because her real birthday is in the middle of the summer and I decided at the beginning of her school career that it would be much simpler to have her "school friend" party at the school year end rather than trying to track down people in the middle of the summer.  If you've been a regular reader, you will know what a hard time we've been having with parties the past couple of years.  See Birthday Parties Suck from last year.

So we were thrilled when not only all the girls came but we ended up a couple of extra kids. It figures that every other year I had prepared goody bags for as many invitations as we had given out and been disappointed in the no shows. This year I was determined to only buy enough for those that said they were coming for sure. So I had to scramble a bit to get extra bags done up and E had to give up hers but I was so pleased to be put in that position for once that I didn’t mind at all.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mysterious little Package and a Snoop

A week or so ago I came across a wrapper on my 9 year old's dresser.  My first thought was crap, I must have forgotten to throw it away or alternatively she saw in the garbage can in my bathroom, thought it looked interesting and grabbed.  Either way I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, I simply took it off her desk and threw it away (after showing hubs what I found, of course).  End of story or so I thought.

We are expecting company this weekend so I am on a de-clutter and get things put away campaign. We've been pretty slack this summer and nothing gets a bedroom quite so clean and organized unless mom is right there the entire time knee deep in toys, discarded underwear and other junk.  Is it just my kids who find the weirdest places to put their dirty underwear?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Enter to win a Tassimo T55 Brewer



How would you like to win a Tassimo brewer? Okay, that was a dumb question.  Of course you would! Good news, right now Tassimo Canada is having a daily giveaway of their newest brewer, the Tassimo T55. 




TASSIMO T55 Daily Giveaway Facebook Contest details:

  • Open from July 26 – August 24, 2012
  • Enter online on the TASSIMO Canada Facebook page www.facebook.com/TassimoCanada
  • Each prize: One Bosch TASSIMO T55 brewer in sleek opal black and $100 worth of T DISCs
  • 30 prizes to be won, valued each at $330
"The TASSIMO T55, is characterized by its contemporary, minimalist design, high-gloss finish and chrome fitting accents that will make it the showpiece of any kitchen. Available in sleek opal black, the TASSIMO T55 features TASSIMO’s unique barcode technology which automatically adjusts water temperature, brew time, and water level to guarantee the perfect cup of coffee, tea, latte, cappuccino or hot chocolate – every time!"

What are you waiting for?  Get on over there and start "like"ing. ;)

Zeemaid


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ULINX JEWELRY REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

As a mom to three small children, I don't get to shop for jewelry all that much so I was pretty excited when I was asked to check out Ulinx Jewelry.  I was even more excited when I saw their website and saw how cool their magnetic charm bracelets are.  There were a multitude of "inspirations" I could choose from or I could design my own.  With their online design app it was easy as pie to make gorgeous combinations and since I created an account, I was able to save my various design combinations for future reference.

The hard part?  Settling on one design to order.  Finally, I chose to go with mixed blues.

How it Works
The bracelets are made up of Clix and Linx.  The Linx are 6mm spheres made of magnetized neodymium.  These spheres hold everything together so you don't need strings, chords or chains etc.  The Clix are the designer pieces that you choose to make up the bracelet.  You can mix and match each Clix to create your own one of a kind piece of jewelry. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gas Station Coffee Is Just fine For Me

Have you ever stopped to wonder why people spend so much on their coffee?

I have.

Especially when people come in and bitch complain about paying $5.00 for a new release rental when they just spent $10.00 buying themselves a latte and a muffin.  At least a movie rental is good for 2 hours worth of entertainment.  How long does a grande latte last?

I will admit that I love Starbuck's Vanilla Latte.  When I was pregnant with my first and had gestational diabetes, it was pretty much the only coffee I could tolerate without adding sugar.  Sure the syrup had sugar in it but maybe the caffeine cancelled it out or something because it didn't mess with my blood sugar.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sometimes Family Can Suck

Searching for answers this past year has been tough. It's been tough on us as parents and as a couple. It's affected my outlook on life, blunted my sense of humour and made me somewhat afraid of the future.

 It's been difficult parenting my daughter who we're 99% sure is autistic. Both before and after we found out there was something "not quite right" about her. The one place though that I had counted on to be supportive and understanding would be within the family circle.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Stain Fighting with OxiClean


I recently had a chance to try out OxicClean's new OxiClean® MaxForce® Spray.  It works by combining four types of stain fighters to help get out more of the toughest, dried-in stains the first time.  I like the idea of throwing everything you've got at a stain the first time around and with three kids it wasn't long  before I had a chance to test it out.  


My kids like to run and slide down our front lawn which, of course, gives them lovely grass stains on their pants.  I followed the instructions and used the spray to pre-treat the grass stains and let it set for 10 minutes.  After washing, I was pleased to see that the grass stains had completely disappeared from my son's pants.  It was definitely worth the time it took to pre-treat the stain.  It's a great addition to your laundry routine and doesn't cost a fortune at $4.99 a bottle. 



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guilty Pleasures - Summer Reading

Okay, how many of you thought this was going to be about 50 Shades of Grey?  It's not. Somehow I don't think I'll touch that book with a ten-foot pole. Maybe it's just me but there it is.

Plus if you're a "book snob" you probably shouldn't read this post either.  You know what I mean.  You only read "real" literature and the likes of Nora Roberts or chick lit is beneath you.  No offense to Nora Roberts, I enjoy her books and admire her ability to cover a multitude of subjects.  It's just when someone says to you

"You'll forgive me for saying this my dear, but obviously reading Nora Roberts is easy to read quickly" 

in response to my boast about how fast I read books it's hard not to feel like you've just had your intelligence mildly insulted.  Of course, it took me about two days to come back with an "oh yeah, well I also read classics like Lord of the Rings, Dickens, you know other classics like the Woman in White and the Count of Monte Christo".  Obviously, I suck in witty comebacks which is why it took me two days of pondering to come up with that.  Which was probably better than saying "I am too intelligent."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How to Work Superfruits in Your Summer Party - Giveaway

I've recently gotten interested in Superfruits and so I thought it was a perfect time to host this guest post by Jill McRae.  Best of all, one of you will have a chance to try True Beverages by entering the #giveaway at the end of the article. 

How to Work Superfruits into Your Summer Party
By Jill McRae


Balmy summer nights beg for chilled patio drinks and backyard barbecues. But before you reach for the rosé, consider fixing yourself and your loved ones a drink with Superfruits. Not only are Superfruits rich in antioxidants, but those sweet-smelling berries are great for the brain, heart and overall health.

Whether you’re planning a family picnic, or a mommy’s night off, here are four delicious ways to work Superfruits into your summer party. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Introducing Family Rules

This post is a continuation of Cautiously Optimistic.

While googling suggestions for chore charts etc, I came across one mom blog that helped put a different spin on the whole chore chart thing.  You see her "chore charts" say, My name is (blank) and this is how I contribute to my family".  I really liked that.  It takes the emphasis off of "chores" and put it back on helping out the family.  I also liked her list of Family Rules so I used both to adapt for use in my family.

Read her full post here. Sutton Grace


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Unicef & Hallmark - Helping Children



Hallmark and UNICEF are excited to announce a partnership launching a new UNICEF collection of greeting cards. With every purchase of a greeting card from Hallmark's new UNICEF collection, a portion of the proceeds will go to help children at risk all over the world.  




With over 116 designs the UNICEF collection has something for everyone featuring beautifully crafted cards including weddings, birthdays, birth of a new baby etc.  These cards are delightful and colourful and I think anyone would be happy to receive one.  Best of all, it's an easy way to help out a child in need while purchasing something you already intended on buying anyways. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cautiously Optimistic

I don't know what it is about summer vacation that inspires me with all sort of projects and jobs for the summer.  Last summer I was determined to complete the upstairs painting and resulted in getting E's room done by September.  At this rate, we're accomplishing a room a year.  Oh yea.


This summer is no different.  Only I have grand plans in regards to my children.  This summer I am determined that I am going to instil some core values in them.. well core housecleaning values.  Does making your bed everyday, tidying your room, getting dressed and brushing your teeth count as core values?  I don't know but it's things I'd like them to start learning to do.  I am tired of having to constantly nag at them or do it myself.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Get Brushing with Orajel - a Review

If your kids are anything like mine, you have a hard time getting them to brush their teeth.  They either teeter from wanting to squeeze the toothpaste all the time to not wanting to brush at all.  As moms we struggle to make brushing fun and yet get the job done as painlessly as possible. 


Orajel® Toddler My Way!™ Girls Fluoride-Free Toothpaste is a great way to put the fun back into the brushing routine.  It comes with over 100 stickers so kids can decorate their toothpaste however they want. The toothpaste is non abrasive and safe if swallowed.  It helps to remove plaque when brushing and helps to promote good oral hygiene at an early age.  SRP:  $3.79

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Soothing Teething with Orajel - Review

While you all know that my children are long past the days of teething, I can honestly say when they were babes Orajel was my go to product to soothe their pain.  I liked that Orajel gave them fast pain relief without having to dose them with tylenol or advil constantly.  Orajel has come out with two great products.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our First IEP Meeting

If you don't know what that means, don't worry neither did we until we discovered our daughter has multiple learning disabilities.

IEP = Individualized Education Plan

When E's learning support teacher suggested the meeting, I have to admit I was little nervous.  Mainly because at our autism parent support group they were less than encouraging about IEPs and most parents complained how difficult and frustrating they were.

It just goes to show how blessed we are and how far we have come with E this past year that our meeting went extremely well and only took half an hour.  We are so lucky to be at this school with these educators who just love our child for who she is.

What gets me is that they were full of praise for us, her parents.

Her teacher in particular went on how encouraging and inspiring it was to see parents put their child's education in the forefront and how we made her a priority.  They were just so amazed.

Really?  Cause to us it's like DUH!  Of course, we take her education seriously.  Of course, we sacrificed all year so we could get her the help she needed.  And you know what, our faithfulness was rewarded.  She's doing amazingly well.  Why wouldn't we do that for our child?  Who wouldn't do that for their child?

Apparently as educators they see a lot of parents not putting the effort in for their children and that just makes me sad.

How about you?  Wouldn't you do everything you could to help your child?

Zeemaid

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life is A Special Occasion with Hallmark

My most recent shipment from Hallmark is here and as usual my bag was full of delightful and fun gifts. June is the season for Grads, babies and weddings and Hallmark is the perfect choice for fun gift ideas.


One gift I appreciated when I was married was a beautiful album for my wedding photos.  Hallmark's Fabric Album Collection is romantic and luxurious featuring rich fabrics, embellishments and embroidery. The album in the photo is the Embroideried Large Post Bound which includes eight black magnetic photo pages deisigned end liners and a dediction page for wedding memories.  Need more photo pages?  It's simple to add more.  Of course the photo cannot do this album justice.  MSRP:  $59.99

Also in the photo is an adorable Lovebirds Salt and Pepper Set.  These two ceramic birds and a ceramic nest stand with glossy glaze are perfect for the newlywed's table.  MSRP: $19.99  

These are just a few of Hallmark's wedding gift ideas.  They also have his and hers travelling mug sets, wine glasses and his and hers aprons to name a few. 


My own nephew is graduating this year.  (How the time flies)  If you're like me, you're stumped at what to get the grad in your life. Why not a 2012 Photo Album to help them record the memories. MSRP: $9.95 with any $10.00 purchase of cards or gift wrap.  Regularly $14.95.  

Plus these 2012 flip flops are bright, colourful and a fun gift for any grad and are suitable for both the guys and the gals.  MSRP $14.95. 


Know someone who is turning one?  The "My First Birthday" cupcake is cuddly and plush and plays a festive Happy Birthday tune.  My kids were all delighted with it and they are way past one. ;) MSRP $23.99.   

Families getting ready for a new addition to the family with love the "What's that in Mommy's Tummy", a recordable storybook.  This story helps to answer soon-to-be older siblings' questions as they wait for the new baby to arrive.  Each page features one or two open-ended questions that a parent can ask their child to answer.  Play back the records with the push of a button.  


And, of course, it wouldn't be complete without some beautiful designs from Hallmark's Signature Greeting Card Collection.  These cards are stunning and perfect for any occasion.  Be sure to check out Hallmark.ca for more gift ideas. 


Well, I'm pretty covered for any special occasions this summer thanks to Hallmark.  How about you?  Any weddings or new arrivals on the way? 


Zeemaid