Monday, December 23, 2013

Writing through the Chaos.

Today's guest post comes from Killarney Sheffield.

Writing through the Chaos.

Hello, my name is Killarney Sheffield and in addition to being the mom of five crazy kids between the ages of 12 and 18 years I am also an award winning multi-published romance author, a horse trainer and rancher’s wife. How do I manage it all? I’m nuts. No seriously, it requires patience, great juggling skills and a family willing to pitch in when the going gets rough and I’m lucky enough to have such a family. My office is the living room, un-orthodox I know, but I found my own office to be more distracting than the chaos of everyday life. Why? Well, I’d rather be right there to answer, ‘Mom, where’s the toilet paper?’ rather than down the hall, kids screaming over the blaring TV and pounding on the door. Is it hard to write a romance novel with all the kids roaring through, arguing, banging dishes and flipping TV channels? You bet it is! Sometimes, ‘can you give mommy a minute’ turns into an hour and sometimes it turns into ‘for the love of God, go play outside for an hour please!’ Would I trade it all for a brilliant novel career? Yes, some days to be perfectly truthful, but in the long run? No way. One day the novels in me will all be written but my kids will still be there, hopefully with kids of their own.

I was at one of my daughter’s volleyball games one day and a fellow mom leaned over and asked if I was ‘that romance writer everyone in town was talking about’ (we live in a small farming community). When I said yes she giggled and glanced at my hubby. “Are you’re books all about him?” she asked. I nearly fell off the bench laughing. A ranch and five kids doesn’t leave much time or desire for romance. Maybe that’s why I pen them. To me romance is hubby actually throwing a load of laundry into the wash machine rather than on the floor beside it. Would I trade my life for one of my heroine’s ones in my books? Yes, to be perfectly truthful some days I would, but let’s face it, life is not a romance novel. I am content writing about every woman’s dream hero because I know in life there is no knight in shining armour. What is there? A fantastic dad who may not be perfect but he’s mine and he loves me no matter if my hairs a mess and I’ve forgotten what make up is.

I guess for me writing amid the chaos of a ranch and five kids is my little patch of heaven.

If you’d like to find out more about me and my books: http://www.killarneysheffieldromanceauthor.com


Follow me on Twitter at: @authorkillarney


My can be found on Amazon and anywhere books are sold online as well as coming to a store near you summer 2014. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Little Boys

Having had two girls first and then the "surprise" arrival of our son, we didn't really know what we were getting into with this whole "boy" thing.  You'd think my husband would have clued me in but other than being a "man" which means he communicates nothing that he's not specifically asked about, there's the "selective amnesia" thing. He only remembers being good. Yeah, right.

I love my son and am thankful that God chose to bless us with this addition to our family.  I love that I get to experience the joys of parenting both girls and a boy.  Some days though, I'm ready to trade him in for another girl.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Christmas with Hallmark – Review & Giveaway

It’s that time of year again.  When our thoughts turn to picking out the perfect presents, finding the right hostess gifts and finishing off that annual holiday letter.  It’s also when I find out what’s new and fabulous at Hallmark.

pics
Dreading the annual Christmas photo? Why not make it fun with
Pics ‘n’ Props.  Show off your family’s Christmas spirit with this Pics ‘n’ Props Christmas Fun Kit. Use the winter props to stage a fun photo shoot in front of the holiday-themed backdrop. Then add your favorite snapshots to the coordinating album or use them to personalize your party invites or holiday cards.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beauty that Won’t Break the Bank

Picture2Recently, I was sent a care package with beauty tips and it was so creative and fantastic, I just had to share these tips with you. Especially since it’s that time of year again.  You know, the spending season? 

With all the money we fork out on food, gifts and decorations it’s no wonder we’re stressed and left with very little over for ourselves.  It’s so easy to find some of these things around the home and it’s comforting to know how much money I’m saving.

Dry Skin Moisturize and repair damaged skin with coconut oil. Costs less than $1.00 per ounce. Department store moisturizer $50+
Teeth Whitening Whitening toothpaste like Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Stain Defence less than $4.00 Whitening strips or dentist whitening $30 – $300
Puffy Eyes Steep 2 black or green tea bags for a couple of minutes in hot water, let cool and place bags over closed eyes $0.20 Fancy eye cream
$25-$80
Nails and Cuticles Rub a dollop of petroleum jelly on each nail and cuticle.  A little goes a long way so a small tub can last several months. $2.50 Upscale hand and nail cream.  $15-$50
Rough Skin Mix Arm & Hammer Baking Soda with water to make a paste and lightly rub on skin to gently exfoliate: $1.99 Department store exfoliator:  $15-$50

These are just a few tips, I’m sure there are many more affordable tips out there.  I liked these ones because none of it requires fussing around making up mixtures with ingredients I probably don’t have on hand already.

What’s your beauty regime at this time of year?  Do you have any “easy” remedies to share?   

Zeemaid

*disclosure – this post is sponsored in part by Arm & Hammer in that I was sent a care package containing Arm & Hammer products. Be sure to check our their website for more tips and tricks on their teeth whitening  products and uses for Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. *

whitening

Friday, October 25, 2013

Saying Thanks with Style

I have to admit when it comes to sending out "Thank You" notes, I'm a bit of a slacker.  If it weren't for my mother nagging gently reminding me, my wedding gift thank you's would never have been sent.  In fact, my youngest child is 6 1/2 and I have yet to send out thank you's for my shower gifts. As it was all family, I pretty much figured I had thanked them in person and gushed over their gift enough that I didn't need to send out extra thanks.  Plus I had my hands full with three small children. 

There are times; however, when a Thank You note is expected and even when it's not expected, that extra little step really shows your appreciation.  Of course, to avoid procrastination, it's always handy to have a few blank cards on hand. 

I recently received a sample of Hallmark Canada's new stationary line "That Sky Blue".  Made in Montreal, Quebec, these lovely letter pressed note cards are elegant and modern (made out of 100% recyclable materials) and evoke a beautiful vintage look and feel.  They retail at about $9.00 for a pack of 10.   There are many styles and designs available.  



When is it appropriate to send a "Thank You" note? 
  • When you receive a gift.
  • When you’ve been a houseguest in someone’s home.
  • When someone has done a special or particular favor for you.
  • After attending a job interview (this depends on the job industry you're applying in).
  • After receiving a promotion or payrise. 
  • After a business lunch, dinner or party.
How about you?  Do you send out Thank You cards?

Zeemaid
In the Mommy Trenches

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Goody Bag

Everybody knows that kids only go to each other’s parties for the goody bags.  Drop a kid off at a party and you can bet they are eyeing up the table holding the Goody Bags.   

Depending on the party and how “together” the hosting mom is, Goody Bags can hold some serious swag.  Which, of course, makes the rest of us "last minute" moms envious.  However, most parties we end up going to hold a lot of junk from the dollar store.

Don’t get me wrong.  I fill my Goody Bags at the dollar store too.  After all when you’re hosting 10 plus kids you’re lucky to keep the cost under $10.00.  OMG.  That’s $100.00.  No way I spend that much.  At least I hope not.  Crap.  Seriously, parties can get out of hand even when you’re poor. 

This last party my daughter went to the good bag contained zero toys, just candy.  The bag was so full the paper ripped a little when they went to close it.  At first I was like, seriously?  A whole bag of candy?  Then I did a complete 360.  This mom is sooooo lucky her kid has an October birthday party.  So easy to take advantage of all those Halloween candy specials. 

Not only that, the bag was so full it seemed endless to my daughter and she had no problem doling out treats to her sister and brother.  She even was happy to share a treat with mom.  By the next day all the candy was gone and I had no crappy little toys kicking around the house.

So I’m thinking next party, candy, candy and more candy is the way to go.  How about you?

Zeemaid


Monday, October 7, 2013

It Starts With a Wheel

It starts with a wheel

It may not be pretty.  It certainly isn’t new but it’s mine.  Color me ecstatic!

Two years ago I threw my first pot and alas the clay bug got it’s teeth in me.  I say alas for I had no financial means of carrying on.  For two years I have yearned to get my hands back into that glorious wet clay. 

After what seems to me as a very long wait, I finally have my first pottery wheel.  Nay, I have my first pottery studio.  Courtesy of my dad.   It was while on a trip together a couple of weeks ago that I had mentioned to him of my dream of getting a pottery wheel.   A quiet man he didn’t say much at the time but began looking out for one for me and he decided that there was no point in getting a wheel without getting a kiln too.

When he first brought it up to me, I sort of brushed him off.  After all that’s not why I mentioned it to him.  He certainly has his hands full coping with the loss of my mother and getting his financial situation straightened out. 

A proud man, my father, he does not let go easily.  When you have a strong, quiet and proud man for a father, it is very difficult to argue with him.  To refuse him on the basis of money would be to wound his pride and give offence. 

My brother helped my dad find a lady who was selling off her equipment.  She’s retired and no longer fully able to sit at a wheel.  The day before my birthday my dad lures me down for a visit because he wants to show me something.  Of course, I had an inkling of what he was up to but I went along with it anyway. After all, I really did want a wheel and part of me was urging my practical part of me to accept the gift. 

 When I met with  she told me that I reminded her a bit of herself.  That when her father died her mother had given her the money to buy a wheel and get started.  Of course, her story resonated with me but I couldn’t tell her a word of my own particular story as my dad was right there and I knew he’d rather not talk about my mother’s death to these strangers.

That is until the day we picked up the equipment.  The lady told me that she was so glad I was getting her stuff.  She was giving it up with a pang but felt that it was going to the right home and hoped that the story of how she came to acquire her pottery stuff meant something to me.  In a quick moment as my dad left for his own vehicle, I was able to share with her just how much her story did mean to me. 

With tears in her eyes she pulled me into a quick hug. My last vision of her as we pulled out of the driveway was of her waving us off through the rain.  

Nothing was more satisfying when I finally got my own little home in order long enough to slip out to the garage to sit at my wheel.  

Now I simply have to wait for the clay to arrive so I can begin. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Digital Magazine Giveaway - Extension

So my Zinio digital magazine contest had very low entries.  Okay 1.  Not sure why that is but I have 8 subscriptions left to giveaway.

Just so you know www.Zinio.com is a great with over a thousand magazines to choose from.  I got my free subscription to Shape magazine and I'm loving it.  Each month I'm sent a link by email where I can choose to access it on my PC, smartphone, iphone or Android tablet and voila I have a magazine in vivid bold colours ready to read.  Best of all, didn't have time to read last month's?  Well it's still there in your library.

Like I said, I still have 8 subscriptions to giveaway.  I'm going to make this easy.   The first 8 people who leave a comment will receive a subscription of their choice.  It's completely risk free, you do NOT have to provide credit card information or anything.

I'll close the giveaway this Friday so don't delay, enter now.

Zeemaid


Monday, September 23, 2013

I HATE Mornings!

Why oh why do mornings have to be so difficult?

I get up early so I can get them up so that we're not rush, rush, rush.

From them I get grunts and moans and groans.  Nice cheerful way to start the day.

From then until we're out the door, it's get dressed, eat your breakfast, comb your hair, brush your teeth, pack your backpack interspersed with - stop bugging your sister, don't take your brother's socks, don't hog the bathroom, and a million other weird things that kids do to get out of doing what they are supposed to.

By the time they are out the door, I'm wiped and some days have been known to sit down and cry.  It can be that bad.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reassessing after a loss

When someone close to you dies, it really makes you step back and re-assess your life. One of the things that my husband and I realized was that we are not in a very good position should one of us die.  While we do have a Will and excellent life insurance at the moment, the very fact that we are living so close to the edge would make it very, very difficult for us to get by financially until things can get sorted out. 

Like covering funeral costs.  My mother’s cremation cost $2,900.00.  That’s without a service or an urn or anything fancy whatsoever.  If one of us died at this moment, neither of us would have the funds to pay the funeral home.  My father was blessed in that my mother’s employer paid for all the food at the Celebration of Life and her co-workers all volunteered to serve. 

Neither my husband or I would be so blessed. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

5 Tips for New Bloggers by Blogelina

So you know you want to start a blog but you’re not sure how to go about it. Here are five easy steps, and a few good tips, to make the process quick and easy.

#1  Choose your niche. What’s your blog going to be about?  You may want to do a bit of keyword research here. If you already have a business, then your blog will be related to your online business and those keywords, however, you can still narrow your blog niche.

For example, if you have an online business on dog training, your blog could be about positive reinforcement training, about housebreaking, or even about a tangent topic like feeding your dog – because health is important to training.

#2 Choose your platform. WordPress, Blogger, Typepad and Moveable type are only a few of the options. You can also explore the blogging platform your website host offers. Analyze and compare each platform to find the one that best meets your needs. Many people choose WordPress because of its easy to use nature and the ability to customize your blog.

#3 Create your blog site. Depending on the platform you’re using you will either be working with the template and customizations offered or you can have your blog site designed by a professional. There are thousands of templates, some paid and some free, available by WordPress developers and they’re easily customizable – you can get an original WordPress blog.

#4 Choose your blogging schedule and blog. How often are you going to blog?  Create a realistic schedule and stick to it. Remember that even if you decide you’re going to blog once a week, you can always blog more. Blogging less than that isn’t recommended. Blogs are active sites and people expect frequent content updates.

#5 Drive traffic. Once you feel comfortable with the number of posts you have on your blog and you’re happy with the way it looks, it’s time to drive traffic to your blog. Social networking, PPC, registering your blog with relevant directories and commenting on other related blogs helps drive traffic.

Starting a blog isn’t the difficult part, the tough part is deciding to actually start! Visit Blogelina's Blogging Video Tutorials to learn more about what a blog can do for you.

*content provided by Blogelina*

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Digital Magazine Subscriptions and Giveaway

Have you heard about Zinio?  They are "The World's Largest Newstand" with over 5500 publications that can be read on any mobile and desktop device.  You can browse and purchase subscriptions or single issues instantly from your computer or mobile device to read whenever and wherever you like.  Not sure if it's what you're looking for?  There is an explore section which lets you read thousands of articles and even share them with friends.

While I'm a big reader and generally prefer novels, magazines are just the right size to satisfy that craving to read something (if you're a reader you know what I'm talking about) but don't have the time to really get into a story line.  Not only that I just can't seem to get into those fat self-help books on nutrition and diet but if you hand me a magazine such as Shape: I'll read it from cover to cover to glean some use worthy tips. It's just the right size.

Right now Zinio is offering a complimentary 1-year digitial subscription to Shape Magazine.  This offers ends September 9th so don't delay in claiming your digital copy now.  All you have to do is:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Handling Back to School Anxiety

With only one week until school starts again (at least here in Canada), I thought it was timely to post this article on handling back to school anxiety.  As we all know, being in the school system is tough and if last year didn't end on the right note, your child could be stressing about how this school year is going to go. 

As much as we'd like to put our children in a bubble we can't and it's our job to help them learn the tools they need to navigate these waters.  Here are some suggestions in helping make the transition back to school easier. 



HANDLING YOUR CHILD’S BACK TO SCHOOL ANXIETY
How to ensure a smooth transition back to class

Toronto, ON, August 27, 2013 – After a long summer break, it’s not uncommon for children of all ages to feel anxiety about going back to school.  Whether it’s general back to school jitters or the prospect of grappling with previous stressors like bullying or academic challenges, there are many reasons why a child might be apprehensive about the return to school. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Halloween with Hallmark–Review & Giveaway

The countdown is on for back to school and would you believe #Halloween items are already in stores?  So it should have been no surprise that my fall shipment of Hallmark goodies included some awesome Halloween decorations. 

From scary pumpkins to ghostly mirrors the Hallmark team has dreamed up some super spooky fun sure to delight your trick-or-treaters.


Who’s Watching me? This singing plush owl’s eyes move side to side as he sings a parody of “Somebody’s Watching Me.”  $15.95 each with the purchase of 1 Hallmark Card. Adorable!  Check out this cute video

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Popular 4 Week Blogging Class - Just $5.00


Sign Up For The Popular 4-Week Online Blogging Class – Just $5 For A Limited Time Only!


Don't Delay: This offer ends August 31st! 

 Blogelina is once again offering her very popular 4-week blogging class — right now for just $5 (normally $25)! This online class will be held in October 2013.

If you sign up for this class, here’s what you’ll get:

  • A class manual – packed with 60 pages of information that will help take the overwhelming out of starting your own blog
  • 4 weekly online class sessions where you can ask your questions and get personalized feedback
  • A FREE year of web hosting.
  • Blueprints, step-by-step tutorials, networking with other bloggers - Everything you need to grow your blog.
Save yourself a lot of time, trouble, and money – learn from Tanya's own experiences what to do and not to do. Go Here to Reserve Your Seat In The 4-week Blogging Class!

Zeemaid

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Broken Circle–Book Review & Giveaway

brokenThe Broken Circle:  Yarns of the Knitting Witches  Book One of the Potluck Yarn Trilogy by Cheryl Potter.
Synopsis: “Twenty Years have passed since the fire beneath the great dye pot was lit and the circle was complete. Now, the folk of the Middlelands face a danger worse than any can remember. Darkness and chaos threaten to destroy the delicate balance of the natural world, and the magic of the dye crystals that have always been a way of life and a great source of power for the people has been outlawed. Readers age 11 and up will find themselves engrossed by this fanciful cross-over tale of magic and mayhem.
 The Broken Circle is the first book in the Potluck Yarn trilogy by Cheryl Potter. Combining Fantasy with fiber, and including patterns to guide young readers in making the magical garments worn by the characters, Potter spins a tale redolent with magic and layered with themes of friendship, loyalty, good vs. evil, the value of natural resources, the meaning and texture of courage, and even mortality. Follow the twelve knitting witches through adventures fraught with mayhem and mischief and knit your way through 21 patterns as the Potluck witches seek to save their world.”

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin–Review & Giveaway

CAN_AHLL_Sensitive_203LWhen you love a product you want to stick with it but as we all know price is a huge factor as to whether we continue to buy the brand we love or go elsewhere.  Fortunately, Arm & Hammer’s affordability makes it easy for me to keep my cupboard well stocked with the Arm & Hammer products I love.  Not only is Arm & Hammer either the same price or sometimes a wee bit cheaper than other leading brands, I often get great discount deals like 2 for 1 sales at my local grocery store. 


I’ve recently had an opportunity to try out the NEW ARM & HAMMER™Sensitive Skin and Sensitive scents™ laundry detergents.  This couldn’t have come at a better time for me since we’ve discovered a chemical sensitivity in my youngest daughter.  Eliminating harmful products in laundry detergent is a huge first step in helping her.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Life is Too Short

I wouldn't even be writing this except that I don't have the energy to reply to every email I get about potential advertising or articles for my blog etc.  If you read my blog then I appreciate you taking the time to and if you have just stumbled across my blog, please come back in a couple of weeks.  It won't always be silent around here.

But you see, I lost my mom on Tuesday. It was sudden and it was unexpected.  She was only 60.  It has devastated our lives at the moment.  I have a giveaway ending tomorrow afternoon and I will make sure the winner gets chosen etc.

Thoughts and prayers would be appreciated at this time.

Zeemaid

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

OxiClean MaxForce – Review and Giveaway


 Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big fan of OxiClean for it’s stain fighting power.  From hair dye to grass stained jeans, it’s been my best laundry friend.  It’s a relationship not so easily understood by my husband who likes to buy whatever happens to be cheapest.  Not that OxiClean is expensive.  It’s not.  It’s just sometimes those no-name brands are sneaky with the price cuts and then I’m stuck with a full bottle of crap that doesn’t do a darn thing.  Arg!!

New to the Oxiclean line is their MaxForce® Pure Whites Laundry Stain Fighter & Booster available both in a liquid and a powder.  Gentle on whites and gets clothes up to 50% whiter.

Again, a great product.  I’ve enjoyed adding it to my whites, especially my light colored towels. Not sure exactly why but I find I tend to prefer the powder form over the liquid form.  It may be all psychological because with the powder spread on the stain and then when I rub it in, the slight grittiness makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something.  Like I said, it’s probably psychological.  :)

GIVEAWAY – WIN YOUR OWN SUMMER STAIN REMOVAL PACKAGE.

* OxiClean Soccer Ball
* 2 NEW OxiClean® MaxForce® Pure Whites Laundry Stain Fighter & Booster Liquid
* 2 NEW OxiClean® MaxForce® Pure Whites Laundry Stain Fighter & Booster Powder
* 2 OxiClean® MaxForce® Spray
* Approximate retail value: $45.00
Contest ends July 12, 2013 at 12:00 am PST.  Contest open to US/Can.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
*disclosure – I received the above products in order to conduct this review.  No other compensation was received*

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Downy Unstoppables - Review

unstopables_spring_product Laundry, Laundry, Laundry.  The bane of our existence, right?  The only thing I love about doing laundry is the smell of all those fresh clean clothes. 

I was recently mailed a bottle of Downy UNSTOPABLES™ Spring In Wash Scent Booster to try out.  I decided that our regular clothes didn’t need the extra scent, we get enough of that clean fresh smell from our regular laundry detergent.  What does need a boost; however, are our sheets and towels.  No matter what I try, they just don’t seem to stay very fresh in the cupboard.

The scent beads are very easy to use.  No waiting for that special wash cycle, you can simply add the fresh scent beads directly to your wash prior to turning it on. It works in any type of machine, even HE machines.  The Spring scent is lightly floral and pleasing.  I noticed that even while the wash was running, I would get wisps of the fresh scent every time I ventured near the laundry room.  Taking out the sheets and towels from the dryer was a pleasure and my linen cupboard even days later still carries the light fresh scent of clean laundry.

Now if you are scent sensitive (as so many are these days) this might not be the product for you.  I did notice; however, that the scent was not overly strong when I snuggled under the covers that night so it definitely wasn’t an issue for us.  My husband does react sometimes to overly strong scents and musks but had no problem with this.

Now available wherever P&G products are sold. 

If you would like the opportunity to receive your own bottle of Downy UNSTOPABLES™ please let me know in the comments below.  The first ten people will be emailed an exclusive invitation to receive their own full size bottle of Downy UNSTOPABLES™ .  Remember, this offer is available only while quantities last. 

Zeemaid

***disclosure, I received a both of Downy UNSTOPABLES™ Spring in Wash Scent in order to conduct this review. No other compensation was received.***

The Runaway

For the record, I was one of those people really looking forward to the lazy days of summer at home with my children.  I was even a little irked to read several posts criticizing us moms who actually looked forward to staying at home with our kids this summer.  After all, why shouldn’t I be looking forward to sleeping in, easy care free lunches, peaceful afternoons sitting on the deck watching my children swim in the pool, reading blogs, gardening, planning day trips to the beach etc. 

Then reality sets in.  As our special needs daughter gets older, so do the challenges.  It’s easier to take her behaviour in smaller doses during the week and as ashamed as I am to admit it, medication has helped her be more manageable on the weekends when she’s not in school.

The only problem is we’re not happy using medication.  She is who she is and we need to learn how to parent this child without it.  While she was in school we felt more okay with medication if it assisted her in being more focused to learn and the calming down of some of her quirks helped her a little bit socially.  Now that school is out, we’re nixing the medication and turning to a Naturopath to help assist us in finding some kind of balance.

Day 1 had me trying to get her to clean her room for a showing the next morning.  She object so strongly that we ended up having to help her clean which then resulted in her actually running away. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Father's Day Gift Ideas

Father's Day is just around the corner but if you're like me, you just haven't had time to find a gift for your Dad or Husband. So normally, I wouldn't have had a chance to see these gift ideas that thanks to the power of email, came right to my inbox courtesy of Hallmark Canada.


LOONEY TUNES TRAVEL MUGS - How cool are these, right?  I just know my husband will get a real kick out it.  Regularly priced at $16.95, you can snag one for $9.95 if you purchase 3 Hallmark cards. Not hard to do unless like you have no friends and no family and no birthdays ever to celebrate.  It's a win win, you get a cool mug AND you are prepared with birthday cards (in my case) for the rest of the summer. 

The other really cool gift idea I have for you are the ONE-OF-A-KIND CREATION FRAMES also sold at Hallmark Canada specialty stores. These are really solid and can stand alone on Dad's desk, workbench, wherever.   Special pricing is $14.95.   Basically you upload a photo to Shutterfly and they print and send you the photo perfectly customized to fit the DAD frame.  Love it, love it, love it!

Do you have any great gift ideas for this Father's Day?

Zeemaid


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Canadian Tire Helping Kids Get in the Game


If you're someone like me, you probably understand what it's like to not be able to afford to put your child into sports programs.  So if you're someone like me, you appreciate those that do help and provide that opportunity for our children that we can't.  Like those at Canadian Tire with their Jumpstart program.  

Did you know that Canadian Tire helps support children with special needs get into things like Therapeutic Riding?  As a parent of a special needs kid, I am truly grateful they do. 

During the entire month of May, Canadian Tire customers are encouraged to donate $2.00 towards the program and in return they receive a red ball - the national symbol for child's play.  

On May 25th, the fifth annual Jumpstart Day will take place at Canadian Tire Stores across Canada.  The day-long fundraising event is in celebration of Jumpstart's May Red Ball campaign.  Donations to Jumpstart help the one three Canadian families who cannot afford to enrol their children in organized sports and recreation.  All funds raised through the May Red Ball campaign and on Jumpstart Day stay within the local community to help local children.  Your donation could be helping your neighbour's children, the kids you see walking to school every day, helping kids feel involved and connected with their peers and not left out. 

Customers can help celebrate Jumpstart through the following activities at select stores throughout Canada.  

  • Visit Canadian Tire Retail, Mark’s, Sport Chek, Atmosphere and Canadian Tire Gas+ locations across the country to make a $2 donation to Jumpstart in exchange for a red ball.
  • Make a donation and be treated to a Go Clean waterless car wash at select Canadian Tire locations and help attempt to set a Guinness World Record
  • Visit Pita Pit throughout the remainder of the month of May to make a $2 donation in exchange for a red ball and a coupon for $1 off the next purchase.
  • Take part in the Buffalo Wild Wing, “Eat Wings Raise Funds” event happening Wednesday’s in May at locations across Canada.  Bring in a coupon from the restaurants’ website and Buffalo Wild Wings will make a donation to Jumpstart.
Canadian Tire invites residents across Canada to get involved and make a difference.
WHAT:                 Jumpstart Day celebrations taking place at various locations across Canada
WHEN:                 Saturday, May 25, 2013
                               
WHERE:               Lower Mainland locations hosting events are: 
2290 CAMBIE ST, VANCOUVER
1350 MAIN STREET, NORTH VANCOUVER
3059-152 STREET, WHITE ROCK
11388 STEVESTON HWY, SOUTH RICHMOND
2125 HAWKINS STREET, PORT COQUITLAM
11969 - 200TH STREET, MAPLE RIDGE
7200 MARKET CROSSING BURNABY
7560 VEDDER ROAD, CHILLIWAK

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Moving Again?

I can't believe that just three short years from our last move that we're actually considering moving again.  Well, we are. Crazy, I know.  We've just about exhausted ourselves mentally and physically for the past few weeks trying to get our house in ship shape to even list.  It's amazing how many small things you let slide and how much clutter starts to take over our lives.

Well, I've been putting some of organizational expert Barbara Reich's rules in to play as I go through each cupboard and closet sorting and purging my way along.  It's a win win for me, my house is getting cleaner and I am donating some good items to the garage sale our school is holding as a fundraiser at the end of the month.

Still, I can only hope this house selling process isn't as painful as the last process.  It took us almost three years to sell our last house. THREE YEARS.  Mainly because it was a large expensive house in an area where only seniors could afford to buy it but don't want a house that big.

I still can recall the nightmare of trying to raise three small children in a house that was for sale literally the first 2.5 years of my son's life.  One showing we were just about to go out the door when my son picked that moment to throw up all over the floor.  We were frantically cleaning the floor, consoling the baby and ended up driving around in the van for an hour with a sick child and puke bucket only to come home and find out that the realtor never showed up.  I could have sat down and cried. I think I did.

It's amazing how much your family life can change in just three years.  We went from having toddlers running around to all three in school full time.  They may have been busy and active when they were little but they are even more busier and active and louder now.  Which is why we need more space.  Given that my oldest daughter has some OCD issues along with everything else, room sharing is no longer even an option. We all need our own space, something that I think is going to be even more important as they get older.  We picked this house based on what we thought we needed three years ago but unfortunately it no longer meets those needs.  Which is a shame really because I like my house.  If we could add on without adding on to our mortgage I would stay without question.

Then there's my husband who really wasn't sure about listing at all and kept hemming and hawing about the whole thing and then bam he sees a house this morning that he likes and all doubts are gone and he wants to buy it, like now.

Crazy.

My house is clean though.  Scary clean.

Zeemaid

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Summer Traveling Tips with Barbara Reich


The summer traveling season is right around the corner.  Whether you’re traveling an hour by car to see the grandparents or hopping a plane to go halfway around the world, these tips will help you and your family get organized before you leave so you can enjoy your trip!  Happy organized traveling!

  1. For airline travel, employ “the rule of fractions”. If there are four people in your family, pack a fourth of each person’s clothing in each piece of luggage.  If luggage is lost or stolen, everyone will have enough to wear until it’s found. 

  1. Plan your wardrobe around three pairs of shoes (think metallic).  If you can pack one pair of shoes for all of your night time outfits, one pair of shoes for your day time wear, and one pair of sneakers, you have simplified and lightened your load.

  1. Consider traveling with pop-up laundry hampers for your whites and colors.  Your hotel room will look much neater, and at the end of the vacation, pack the dirty laundry and fold up the hampers. 

  1. Don’t be the only one not taking advantage of the “2 for 1 special”.  Do your research ahead of time.  Often there are coupons and discounts available for popular attractions and venues that can be found through a simple online search.

  1. Charge cameras before you leave home, make sure you know how to operate them, and that they are working properly. Bring extra batteries and memory cards if needed.

  1. Put a piece of hotel stationery in your children’s pockets.  Even older children and older travellers may forget where they’re staying if they get lost, particularly in a foreign country.

  1. For longer trips, ship toiletries to your destination one week in advance through an online drugstore such as drugstore.com.  If you order enough, you may even qualify for free shipping.  You’d be surprised how much sunblock, diapers, and shampoo can weigh.

  1. Bring a jump rope.  You can always find a corner of the airport to let your child get rid of excess energy before boarding the plane. Or they can use at a rest stop to stretch their legs.  And, you can use it to exercise if you can’t get to a gym.

Barbara Reich is a professional organizer who lives in NYC with her husband, thirteen year old twins and puppy. She takes a tough love approach to help everyone turn organization from a chore to a lifestyle. Her book, “Secrets of an Organized Mom,” is currently on shelves.  Find out more about Barbara at facebook.com/ResourcefulConsultants or @BarbaraReich

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Much Can You Bear?

They say that God never gives us more than we can bear but then I wonder why it was that he gave me a child that I couldn’t parent.  Not because of her, because of me.  I don’t have the patience or the skills to deal with her.  She makes me so incredibly frustrated to the point that I want to hit her.  I have to walk away. 

My husband isn’t much better.  He walks around with a frown on his face because he thinks I should just stop talking and wants the yelling to stop.  Yet, I hear him do all the same things when I’m out of the room and he will add in a few choice four letter words to boot. 

If I so much as grab her arm she cries abuse.  If I say something and mix my words up, she’s on it like a hawk.  If I say something that gets her really upset and I see that it upsets or was more important to her than I thought, I will try to come up with a compromise but she holds fast to what I first said. 

She hits her brother and than has a complete hissy because he marks up her shirt with lip balm.  Her uniform shirt that costs like $28.00.  The lip balm is the colour of grapefruit.  Over and over it’s how much she hates her brother and refuses to acknowledge that she prompted the retaliation by bugging him. I ask her to put her shoes on it’s a five minute rant about how I don’t need to tell her over and over again, why do I do that, can’t you see what I’m doing, I can only do one thing at a time, you tell me to do everything, what I’m supposed to stop putting my jacket on to put my shoes on and on and on and on it goes till I want to scream. 

I had to listen to her rant about how she can’t find her school fleece and come quickly to the deduction that her sister must have worn it and that she must have lost it at school and that’s why E can’t find it.  It’s only after her father says he’s leaving with or without her and walks out the door that she finally goes outside.  I walk over to the coat rack and in two seconds I had found the jacket, under another jacket to be sure but there just the same.

When she’s like this, I can do no right and every resolve at being patient quickly dissolves under the constant barragement of temper from her. I am not the mom I want to be.  I want to scream, I want to run away.  I am so tired.  Instead, I cry after they are all out the door. 

Then I watched this video about a lovely girl named Rosie and I am reminded of all the special things that my E is.  That she is so much more than the temper and the impatience and the irritation.  I am especially reminded from this video that I need to hold onto all the wonderful things my daughter is and celebrate those things with her. I need to figure out what helps her to calm down and how to moderate my language so that she doesn’t feel like she’s been bossed to death or attacked.

Like I said, it’s really not about her.

It’s about me finding a way to parent this child without making things worse.  Finding a way to get a handle on her and how to navigate through these tricky morning situations.  Patience alone isn’t going to cut it but if the good Lord could send an extra measure my way, I would appreciate it.

Zeemaid

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Getting Springy with Hallmark

I love this time of year and with sunny days upon us, I can just feel my mood lift and spirits soar.  Of course, with spring time also comes babies, graduation, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Which means shopping, shopping and some more shopping.  Not that I am complaining, I enjoy checking out Hallmark Canada for unique gift ideas that will please my friends and family. 

Here are  just a few gift ideas from Hallmark’s spring line.

thumper

Thumpin’ Thumper - This little guy thumps his foot and says one of three greetings.  He is definitely soft and plushy and a huge kid pleaser.  Just $14.95 with the purchase of three Hallmark greeting cards or $24.95.

Mason – Interactive Story Buddy and Mason’s New Friends mason-and-bookinteractive storybook 2.0. Mason is a love-worn teddy bear who’s been left behind by his previous owner, only to be rediscovered and loved again by his new friend, Jacob.  Includes one story buddy, one storybook, one read along audio CD and free access to digital story time.  My kids loved this plus little guy.  He is unbelievably soft and cuddly and a delight to read along with the children.   MSRP  $34.95

bloomingBlooming Expressions – Fabric petals open to reveal a special message and a glittery butterfly.  All are showcased in a beautiful vase and plays a lovely melody.  MSRP $24.95 or without music $19.95.  These are really lovely and will contemplate any décor.  I’ve actually chosen to leave mine open because it’s just so pretty. magic print

Magic Prints – Create a personalized gift with Magic Prints.  Mess-free Crayola Magic Solution reveals handprints or footprints from children or pets.  The solution only works on Magic Paper and washes up with soap and water.  What a great idea and so easy to use. MSRP $24.95

dadOne-of-a-Kind-Creation Frames Mom, Dad, Love.  - These are really, really cool.  So cool, in fact, that I already hid mine away so that my husband doesn’t see it. At first glance, I wasn’t sure how I would make this work then I saw that I didn’t have to.  Shutterfly does all the work by allowing you to customize your digital photo and prints it out to the proper specifications.  How cool is that?  I’ve used Shutterfly in the past and it’s a great company to order from. Special pricing on the Mom and Dad frame $14.95.  Love frame is $24.95pics-n-props-grad

New Pics ‘n’ Props for Mom, Dad, Grandma & Graduation – Tells stories or show your love with photos in a creative new way using Pics ‘n’ Props.  Each kit comes with special props and a frame or album to store your memories.   This is another great idea.  The kit I received was for graduation 2013 and I know a special grad that is going to love this.  It’s a big time in a grad’s life so why not remember it with some cool props.   Priced from $16.95 – $24.95.

Of course, these are just a few of Hallmark’s spring line. There are many, many other cool gift ideas like beautiful mugs for Mother’s Day and hilarious Star Wars Bottle Openers with sound.   For more gift ideas visit Hallmark.ca.

Zeemaid

*disclosure – I received the above items in order to review and blog about them.  No other compensation has been received and all opinions are my own*

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Near Epic Easter Fail

eastereggMy oldest child is 10 and I am definitely reaching the point where I am getting tired of trying to sustain the make believe of tooth fairies, Easter Bunnies and Santa.  In fact, I have been known to mention about how much we paid for something so they better darn well treat it better, when oops that item was supposed to have come from Santa.

The greedy little buggers that they are can’t even remember what presents Nana bought never mind Santa. 

Yet I had an out this morning and did I take it, no.  I bent over backwards to keep the belief alive.  What with us all having the flu twice in three weeks and being off work with the kids on spring break, I had been behind in my Easter preparations.  So I ran off with SIL late yesterday afternoon for a quick dash to the drugstore to find something for my kids. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Murphy’s Law Sucks

sickI’m not sure how much Murphy has had to do with this but it seems like once again the holidays roll along and the flu strikes.  It’s day four of spring break and I have already done more laundry in those four days than I do in an entire month.  Let’s see, two complete bed changes in one night including quilts, sheets, favored teddies and those stupid waterproof sheets that aren’t so waterproof, I’ve shampooed the carpet three times, sanitized an entire bathroom from top to bottom not to mention constant vigilance on the other two washrooms in the house and washed my hands every time I so much as touch one of the sick kid’s germy cups.

The best part? (insert heavy sarcasm)  This is the second time in two weeks that we’ve gone through this.  Never mind the last time was over Christmas holidays. Seriously?  There ought to be a law on how frequently you can get sick.  Why not add it to our schedule for that last week of January every year.  I would clear my schedule, make jello and make sure I have plenty of gingerale, popsicles and clean puke buckets on hand.  I probably would even go so far as to lay saran wrap down on every carpetable surface of my house.  Makes so much more sense, right?

What is it going to take to break this flu cycle?  I’ve wiped down every surface in the house, boiled toothbrushes and relentlessly nagged my children on washing their hands.  Nothing makes me more annoyed than when my 5 year old breaks down in a crying fit because I’ve made him go back and wash his hands.  OMG. 

To top it off, family are here visiting (not staying at my house thank goodness) that only come three times a year and when they visit we spend a lot of time getting the kids together.  Unfortunately, with the latest flu victim this morning means that we won’t be able to get together and once again, I’m stuck at home with three sick children and running a household on little sleep.  Gee, reminds me of when they were babies. 

I’m just selfish enough to resent all the things that I haven’t been able to do this week and relieved that we didn’t make special plans this week. 

In the meantime, I’m going to try and figure out how to build up all of our immune systems so we can break this stupid flu cycle. 

Anyone have any ideas?

 

Zeemaid

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nurturing the Soul of Your Family–Book Review

NurtureSoulFamily_cvr3.indd
We are in the third month of the year and I am still heading forward with positive intentions of improving our lives and making this a better year than last.  Part of that process is finding peace, peace for myself and for our family life. 

Nurturing the Soul of Your Family is written by Renee Trudeau, an award winning author and life balance coach/speaker.  

The essence of the book is to help readers learn to:
  • Find their center and move through chaos and uncertainty with renewed strength and ease;
  • Live in greater alignment with their values and what matters most
  • Slow down, live more intentionally and know what’s best for themselves and their family
  • Release old fears and learn to live more in the present moment
This isn’t an easy book to review.  There is so much to it and, quite frankly, so much required in order to really absorb what it is that Renee is trying to impart.  While sharing her own personal stories, Renee challenges you to take a moment and really pause and reflect.  To ask yourself, “what do I need, here and now”.  To realize that self-care is more than just a trip to the spa.  To identify baggage and past family relationships so that you can move forward baggage free.  To build a tribe and ask for help.

So you can see why I say it isn’t an easy book.  It requires some time and honest self-reflection. I think we would all benefit from taking the time to slow down and re-connect with ourselves and our loved ones.  The practical teachings and exercises in this book can help you to do just that.

For more information on this and other works by Renee Trudeau please be sure to like and tag the NURTURING THE SOUL OF YOUR FAMILY @nurturingthesoul  or visit Renee Trudeau’s website

Available for sale now on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound

How about you?  Do you feel the need to slow down and regain some peace in your life?


Zeemaid

* Thank you to the publisher of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, New World Library, for providing a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own. No other compensation was received*

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Secrets of an Organized Mom–Book Review

SecretsofOrganized

Okay, so I’ve had a chance to dive in and read Barbara Reich’s new book “Secrets of an Organized Mom” and the first thing I want to say is “holy crap this is such a good book”.  Very articulate of me, I know.  Seriously my friends, if you are struggling with organization this is a must read for you. 

I was a little disappointed at first that this book has no pictures.  However, it quickly becomes evident why this is the case and why it makes complete sense not to include pictures.  As nice as it is to see photos of really organized spaces, it very rarely translates into something you’d be able to use in your own space or could afford to do.  This way you get the tips and ideas and still feel that it’s possible to achieve.

This book is a very easy read and so long as you read Chapter 1 “The Basics: some truly simple ground rules” the rest of the book can be read according to what area of your home you want to tackle first.   Full of tons of great ideas and some new perspectives that I had never thought of before.  Like labeling.  I have spent hours organizing my children’s toys into their own bins only for it all to end up mish mashed together again.  I’ve all but given up.  On reading Barbara Reich’s book, I realized that I couldn’t expect the children to remember my system of organizing their toys unless I labeled the bins.  I can’t wait to try again. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Five Ways to Nourish and Renew Your Spirit

NurtureSoulFamily_cvr3.inddToday’s guest post is brought to you by Renée Peterson Trudeau, a life balance coach/speaker and recent author of a new book “Nurturing the Soul of Your Family”.  I have recently received a copy of this book for review and will be posting my thoughts shortly but in the meantime, I thought perhaps you’d enjoy this article.

Five Ways to Nourish and Renew Your Spirit

It’s 1976, and my mom and dad are sitting quietly with their eyes closed, hands resting upward — thumb and index finger touching — while my younger siblings crawl on their backs and shoulders. My older two brothers and I sit nearby, holding our own meditation poses, bored, rolling our eyes and counting the minutes until this ritual will end.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our Government is Letting Children Down

Parenting a child with autism is no walk in the park.  If you’ve been following along with me for the past year or so, you will know that we are in the process of obtaining a diagnosis of ASD for our oldest daughter. 

We have had countless disappointments and setbacks but still we held on because we were assured that by the 1 year referral anniversary we would have a date for assessment.  We have now reached the one year mark only to be told that it could be another 8 months.

8 Months. 

Why?  Because of funding cutbacks and too many children are being diagnosed.  It is highly probable that we won’t even get the diagnosis because of how high functioning our child is.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

#Night Buddies–Book Review

 I love reading with my daughter and I am so glad that even though she is now reading at her grade level, she still wants me to read with her every night.  Of course, now that she is nine going on ten we’ve upgraded from picture books to chapter books. 

While I’ve been enjoying introducing her to classics such as The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, My Side of the Mountain and most recently, The Hobbit, it’s nice to find a new set of stories that we both haven’t read to enjoy together. 

So I was happy to check out Night Buddies – a new chapter book series for children aged 7 and up.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Getting Organized Tips with Barbara Reich

There's a definite theme going on around these days.   I wasn't kidding when I said I wanted to get my life in shape and get more productive in 2013.  I'm talking in all areas of my life too.  So I was super excited to receive a copy of "Secrets of an Organized Mom" by Barbara Reich in the mail today.  I really could use the help!

I'll let you know my thoughts once I've had a chance to dive in but in the meantime, here are some tips from the organizational lady herself, Barbara Reich. 



Monday, February 18, 2013

Getting Healthy with Supplements–femMED

Pinned ImagePart of getting healthy in 2013 for me isn’t all about losing weight although that’s a big part of it.  There are many aspects of our health that all need to come together and basically become more balanced.  Where there is no balance, things start to fall apart.  That’s true about any aspect of our lives, not just our health.

Of course, being busy with children, work and all the cares that falls on our shoulders it is so difficult for us to find the time and the ways to care for ourselves.  How often do we put the needs of our families first before our own.  How many times do you put back a treat for yourself (like a new set of art pens) because you know the kids need new boots and the pens would be an splurge even though it might feed some creative outlet in you.  (Yes, I really did put the pens back and regret it although their boots look great).

 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Having Fun With Valentines

So all the bloggy experts tell me that if I want to get a Valentine post submitted to search engines in time to actually show up in Valentine searches, it needed to be done like two weeks ago.  Nice thought and while I wrote it down on my “blog calendar”, as you can see reality has set in and I am now rushing through Valentine card production like my kids are on a chain gang. 

Thank goodness a trip a few weeks ago to the big City (to watch the Hobbit) meant a long awaited trip to Michael’s where they had all their Valentine kits 40% off. Of course, it was tough to decided on which kit to purchase since with three kids I needed to get the most decorations out of the least amount of boxes.

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I chose these ones because each kit contains 32 butterflies that you can insert a lollipop into.  A far easier chore than last years hand cut heart butterflies with pixie sticks.  While they were cute, they were a lot of work.. for me.  So I’m glad I found these kits.  Not to mention the extra decorating sparkly form hearts and flowers are so plentiful that I’m saving one whole package to use on different crafts.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Treebobs and the Runaway Cauldron - Audio Book Review


What are #Treebobs?  Treebobs are little elves full of mischief and fun.  The latest release is titled THE TREEBOBS AND THE RUNAWAY CAULDRON.  
With their best friends, the fairies, the Treebobs enjoy nothing more than foiling the dastardly plans of the forest’s two resident witches, Badlot Barbara and Rotten Rena. Join in the madcap antics with the Treebobs newest concoction, as the fairies and wicked witches go banana bonkers when Rotton Rena's mother enters Rena into the great egg and cauldron race.  Poor old Rotten Rena just has to win or mother will not be pleased!
I recently had the opportunity to download and play this unique series for my children.  This series couldn't have come at a more opportune time as I had been wanting to find an audio series that we could play in the van on our road trips.  Not just any children's audio books would do.  The story can't be too long and it has to engage children of three different ages.

The stories in this series each run approximately 16 to 17 minutes, just long enough to play two stories on the way to Nana's.  As well, the silence that reigned in the van for the entire time the stories played speaks for it self.  I did find my oldest, who is 9, was the most interested in the stories as she was the first to beg for another story to be played.