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McHappy Day is Wednesday, May 2

My experience with labour and birth (and the whole pregnancy for that matter) was less than ideal. I won’t get into the gory details here, but suffice it to say, my water broke early, I didn’t go into labour, many tubes, needles, sensors and machines were involved, and eventually it all ended with an urgent C-section.

McHappy Day is May 8th - Star 98.3

It was termed a “traumatic” birth.

My son was born at 37 weeks, weighing 5lbs 2oz., at 5:02 in the evening. He was tiny and beautiful. And shaking. By 10pm a neonatal paediatrician came and took him away to the level 3 NICU.

 

I have never been so terrified in my life. Thankfully, tests showed we were only dealing with low (scary low) blood sugar levels. But they just wouldn’t stabilise. Little Boo spent the first 15 days of his life in the NICU, surrounded by monitors, being fed through tubes and IVs. He had so much blood work done his tiny little heels were a mass of scabs. And there were days it felt like he would never leave that hospital.

But we were lucky. We live in the big city and I could come every day and sit with him, and go home at night to rest. There were other sweet little babies there whose parents just couldn’t do that. I can’t begin to imagine what they were going through.

On May 2, you can help support Ronald McDonald House Canada (RMHC), just by making a purchase at a McDonald’s near you. For every BigMac, Happy Meal, and hot McCafe drink purchased, McDonald’s will donate $1 to local children’s charities, including RMHC.

RMHC provides a home away from home for families while their children receive needed treatment in nearby hospitals. These homes keep families together at a difficult time, allowing children to have the support of their parents during their hospital stays. And allowing parents the security of staying with their kids.

Did you know? McDonald’s Canada covers the entire operating costs of RMHC, so 100% of every dollar donated goes directly to programming. That is a fantastic number!

So, what are you doing Wednesday? Why not stop by McDonald’s for that morning coffee? Or maybe head there with the kids for a special dinner treat? If you can find one with a PlayPlace, you’ll be an even bigger hit with your kids, and you’ll know that your purchase will contribute to a great cause.

Disclosure: I am participating in the #McHappyDay Blogger program through shesconnected.com. A donation to RMHC has been made in my name. No other compensation has been received. All opinions on this blog remain, as always, my own.

HGG2012 – Space Chums (CD)

More fun kids’ music on the gift guide today! Little Boo and I recently had a listen to the new CD from Toronto-based children’s entertainers, the Space Chums!, and I’m delighted to share it with you now.

 

The Space Chums! are Disco-Cosmonaut Nickolai, Space Ninja Linda, Galacto-Fashionista Gussy and Bleep Bloop their robot drummer. They have recently arrived from outer space and are on a mission to discover planet earth with the help of their young earthling fans “who know a thing or two about a thing or three.” Their CD is titled “Blast Off!” and includes 10 high-energy, dance-able tracks. I say we had “a listen,” but actually we put the CD on repeat and listened about 4 times through in the car.

 

Little Boo and I each had our own favourites. I’m a big fan of “Beeble Bop,” which is basically a silly and funny, speeding up song. LB really got into the groovy “Crazy Moves,” acting out the lyrics with his crazy booster seat dancing. “I got crazy arms, watch me dancin’, dancin’. I got crazy arms, watch me dance!” There’s also some fun rhyming action in “Word Wizard,” where Disco-Cosmonaut Nickolai proves his prowess by rhyming even the prehistoric word icthyosaurus. You’ll have to listen to hear how he does it ??

Kids’ music that is fun, upbeat, and pleasing to adult ears is always a welcome addition to our home. Music that gets you moving and grooving together as a family is a great idea for holiday giving. If you’d like to check out “Blast Off!” for yourself, you can stream it on the Space Chums website for a preview. You can support the group and purchase this album online at CDBaby.com, either as a physical copy or an MP3 download. (Songs can be purchased individually as well.) The physical CD comes with a sticker sheet for some extra fun.

 

 

A Giveaway

The Chums have kindly provided a copy of their intergalactic CD (with stickers!) as a giveaway for one of you lucky readers. Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EST on December 7. Open to Canadian residents only.

 

Best of luck!

underWAY – review and giveaway

I’ve mentioned here before that I’m trying to lose some weight. I think many of us, especially as we are staring down the barrel of swimsuit season, are feeling the same way. I’ve been trying to cut back on my calorie intake, and drinking lots of water, but I find I am always starving!!! And a hungry me is not a pleasant me. (Just ask the Hubs.)

Underway or Under Way – The Correct Way to Use Each - Queens, NY ...

 

So, I was pretty excited to hear about this product – underWAY supplement drinks – and to be invited to try it out and participate in this MomCentral blog tour. I was sent a big package of underWay drinks and Smart for Life products (cookies, cupcakes, soup, cereal, shake, etc.)

I received 4 bottles each of two flavours of underWAY – grape and acai-pomegranate. Each bottle is considered to be two servings – 10 calories per serving and only 2 grams of carbs. Each bottle has 9 grams of fibre. The drink is not only a supplement, but an appetite suppressant. The fibre is a special formulation called HeroFiber, a soluble dietary fiber that helps maintain normal levels of cholesterol, glucose and insulin that are already in the normal range and promotes slower absorption so we feel fuller longer. So, drinking one of these between meals, you are not only hydrating with a sodium- and caffeine-free beverage, you are also tricking your stomach into thinking you are consuming more calories than you are, and fighting against the urge to snack. Plus, we all know fibre is important in our diet, so getting more is a good thing.

Of the two flavours, grape is definitely my favourite, though both are good. I guess I would compare them to something like a sport drink flavour, or weak kool-aid. Not too intense, not really sweet, nicely refreshing. I found the Acai-Pomegranate to have a bit of an aftertaste, though it didn’t last long. The Grape I am really enjoying and haven’t noticed any aftertaste. There is also an Orange flavour, according to the website. I’m not sure how to describe this, but the drink felt “hearty” going down. Not thick really, but substantial. I had one last night on my way to an event, having not had time to eat dinner. I was hungry, but not starving. I drank a full underWAY and I really did feel satisfied and conquered my desire to dash through a drive-thru somewhere on my way. I was happy with that. I can see these drinks working well for me during my work day. I am particularly prone to giving in to snack cravings and tummy rumblings mid-morning and mid-afternoon, when I’m sitting at my desk and healthy options are not plentiful. I will be bringing a bottle to work with me each day next week to see how they help me stay on track, while not feeling those hunger pangs (I hope!).

I also received the selection of Smart for Life products. I’ve been reading about their Cookie and Cupcake Diets. You can get more information through the link below, but, basically, you replace most of your meals and snacks over a period of time with regularly consumed cookies or cupcakes that are filled with healthful ingredients and specially formulated fibre. They all contain a balance of fruits, veggies, proteins and grains designed to give maximum nutritional punch. I have been trying another diet plan that included snack and meal replacement bars, and I have to say that I find the Smart for Life product much more appealing. I found the other replacements I had tried tended to be sweet and sugary tasting. I don’t have a big sweet tooth to begin with, so this doesn’t really work for me. But the Smart for Life cookies are filling and tasty and not sweet. I think I might actually be able to keep that up. And you can substitute one of their soups or cereals for a cookie or cupcake serving, adding variety. (Plus you eat a healthy dinner – details in the diet plan.)

 

You can learn more about Smart for Life and underWAY products, developed by physician Dr. Sasson Moulavi, at www.smartforlife.com and www.under-way.com. Check this out for yourself and see if you think these products are something you think could help you achieve your healthy weight goals.

 

Now for the big fun … my first giveway! Yes, MomCentral and underWAY are providing ten prize packages to lucky blog commenters. These packages will contain eight bottles of underWAY supplement drink, plus an assortment of Smart for Life products. The same package as I received to try out for this blog tour, so you could try out this program for free too. To enter, please simply leave a comment below telling me why you would like to try underWAY and/or Smart for Life products. Contest closes on August 4. I will be choosing 10 winners from all comments received, using random.org. Contest is open to Canadian residents only. You may enter the contest through multiple blogs participating in this tour, but can only win once. *Be sure to include an email or a Twitter handle so I can contact you if you win!*

 

In the meantime, if you want to try the drink out for yourself you can receive a 10% discount on online orders of underWAY with the following code: MCCAN10OFFUW.

 

Disclosure – I am participating in the underWAY program by Mom Central on behalf of Better Health Beverage, LLC. I received a gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Summer Reading

We received our last Scholastic book order of the year last week. I love browsing the catalogues and picking out books almost as much as Little Boo does, and I’m already looking forward to our first order in September.

First Day of Summer 2019: June 21 marks summer solstice, longest ...

But for now we are well-equipped with some new reading to keep us going this summer. We got a variety of books to appeal to Little Boo’s interests, so that he will enjoy keeping his reading skills fresh during the school break.
That’s really the key, I think, to getting and keeping our kids interested in reading. Be open to trying different genres and different types of stories until you find what really grabs your little one. Speaking with his or her teacher can be a big help here – what books are they drawn to in the classroom?

Little Boo is a strong reader, but won’t always sit still to read a story book. (He likes stories to be read to him.) He will, however, sit and devour what he calls “fact books.” He has a huge collection now of non-fiction books on dinosaurs, sea creatures, and space. With this latest Scholastic batch, we picked out a book on tree identification. He asks about trees and plants a lot, and we can now use this on our walks and trips this summer. He already enjoys reading through my bird identification books, so this was a great find for him.

even our stuffies love to read

If you have a reluctant reader, you may just catch their attention with a chapter book based on one of their favourite cartoons. Spongebob, Ninjago, Spiderman, Beyblades, Scooby-Doo, Pokemon, and more all have books for early and mid-readers.

And don’t be too quick to pass over the comic books or graphic novels. They are kind of annoying to read out loud to your kid, but a great way to get a reluctant reader engaged. The graphics can keep a visual child interested, and the shorter bursts of writing are easier to digest.

Also, when Little Boo was learning to read, I liked the I Spy books. These are great for early readers, as they combine a picture with a word, and then the activity of the treasure hunt to find the object in the big image. Again, for my guy, this kept his interest and helped him start the process of identifying words and building literacy basics.

What do your kids like to read? Do you set aside a special time each day for reading? I’d love to hear any tips you have to encourage a love of reading in your family!

Bullied Kids Speak Out: We Survived – How You Can Too {Book Review}

Bullying is an ever-present issue in our schools, and even in our workplaces. And our news feeds contain far too many stories of the terrible, and sometimes fatal, results that can come from bullying. I don’t know if it actually occurs more these days than it did when I was a kid, but I do know that smartphones, Facebook, SnapChat, and other means of digital communications have made the spread of hateful messages easier and faster, providing greater opportunities for bullies to do their nasty work. Our kids can’t escape their bullies just by coming home at the end of the school day.

Here's what you need to know about bullying.

Jodee Blanco is a writer and speaker who has spent the last twelve years touring schools throughout the US to spread her anti-bullying message and offer support to affected students. A survivor of bullying herself, Jodee draws on her own experiences to illustrate in her talks how bullying affects the victim, and how everyone can better work together to bring an end to the torment.

Her latest book, Bullied Kids Speak Out, brings together the stories of seventeen kids she’s worked with over the years. This volume allows them to tell their stories in their own voices, directed specifically at other kids struggling with bullying. As she says, “sometimes it takes a kid, and not an adult, no matter how well-intentioned, to reach another kid in pain and get them to do something about it.” Each story is followed with comments from Jodee, drawing out key points of what went wrong and what went right, ending with words of encouragement and suggestions for action for any young person in a similar position.

 

This is a powerful book including stories from bullies as well as the bullied. One of the stories is even about a bullying teacher. Since the stories are in the kids’ own words, they can be a little odd to read as an adult. Slang and texting short forms are commonly used, and the stories are not polished in any literary sense. But they are real and authentic. This book is geared to tweens and teens and would certainly feel familiar and appeal to them.

The young people represented in this book have bravely come forward to share their experiences and are to be commended. I particularly like the broad variety of situations depicted and how this shows the variety of ways in which bullying can manifest. This would be an important book to have in school libraries and a good read for any tween or teen, but particularly for anyone who finds himself or herself the victim of bullies. These stories not only provide confirmation that you are not alone, but, importantly, provide ideas and examples of how to make things better.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

P&G; Has Solutions for Those “Oh No!” Summer Hair Moments #PGMom {Giveaway}

How many times have you settled in at a backyard BBQ, wearing the sweetest little sundress, only to look down and see that crazy patch of hair you missed just above your ankle? You will see it all night once you’ve noticed it. Others probably will never notice it, but you will and it will drive you nuts. If you’re like me, you’ll be sure to comment on it and point it out to someone or other, because you can’t stop focusing on it. But what if you had a secret emergency fix in your bag?

Summer Solstice 2020: Celebrate the First Day of Summer on June 20 ...

 

Meet the Gillette Venus Snap with Embrace. This is the first mini razor of its kind in Canada. It comes ready to travel with a convenient, portable compact case and a Venus Embrace blade cartridge. The easy-to-grip mini handle fits into any Venus blade cartridge, allowing you to choose your perfect match blades or switch it up with something seasonal such as Gillette Venus Spa Breeze cartridges with scented shaving gel bars. Throw it in your purse or gym bag, and don’t forget to pack it in your suitcase for family vacations. There’s no need for shave gel, just a splash of water guarantees that instantly smooth skin is a quick shave away. So, if you have this in your purse, just excuse yourself, slip into the bathroom and fix up your little “oh no” moment in no time. I love this convenience!

 

Not a good humid hair day

Of course, the heat and humidity can play havoc with our beautiful tresses as well. I will never complain about heat and humidity. I love it! But I do like to have some control over my hair. Vidal Sassoon has a couple of products specifically for this season – Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Waves Enhancer Spray and Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Waves Crème Pomade. The 7-in-1 wave enhancer spray allows for maximum styling so you can achieve that tousled, beach hair look with ease! After a quick spray, just apply the crème pomade for genius curl control, leaving hair soft, touchable and beautifully defined for up to 24 hours.

 

Treating your hair right and prepping it to withstand the humidity is a much better and more fashionable approach than my usual stand-by – the hair elastic and ponytail.

A Giveaway

One lucky Raising My Boys reader will receive these products to try themselves, valued at approximately $45 and including: Gillette Venus Snap with Embrace, Gillette Venus Spa Breeze cartridges, Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Waves Enhancer Spray, Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Waves Crème Pomade. Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EDT, August 15. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Best of luck!

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities. The opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.By entering this contest you are accepting that, if you win, your contact information will be shared with a P&G PR and shipping agency for the purpose of mailing your prize. Please allow 4-6 weeks from the contest closure date to receive your prize. This giveaway may appear on other blogs as part of the #PGmom/#mamanPG program. However, to be fair, you can only win once per giveaway. If your name is chosen more than once, another winner will be selected. All winners must be from within Canada.

Hasbro Angry Birds Star Wars Fun – May the Fourth Be With You!

Just in time for the weekend I received a great package from Hasbro for review. It contained an Angry Birds Star Wars Millennium Falcon Bounce game, as well as an Angry Birds Star Wars Foam Flyer (Luke Skywalker in our case). Considering the popularity of both properties in this house of boys, you can perhaps imagine how stoked Little Boo was! Remember we reviewed the AT-AT Attack Battle Game before Christmas? He’s even happier with this game.

Rovio.com | The home of Rovio - maker of Angry Birds, Bad Piggies ...

The Millennium Falcon game comes with “some assembly required.” There are a series of stickers for the ship itself, which Little Boo used the illustrations in the instruction sheet to place. Then there are a bunch of extra stickers you can use to decorate the inside of the box. The instructions recommend using the box as a back-drop for the game. It does catch most of the stray balls before they get too far.

LB was actually pretty excited just to have a Millennium Falcon toy of his own, even without the rest of the game play. See his proud smile after putting it together?

The instructions were basically easily to follow (this isn’t a complicated process). But it wasn’t clear to me which way the cardboard bottom of the Falcon was supposed to face, as each side was illustrated differently. After a little hmming and hawing we went with the more involved illustration facing up, as you can see it from the top of the ship. Here’s our finished product, set up and ready to go:

The concept is quite simple, though there’s definitely a challenge to the game. The cardboard pigs sit on and around the ship, and the players bounce the Angry Birds Star Wars balls at them to attempt to knock them over. Each knock-down scores 1000 points. You can score 3000 for landing your ball in the centre hole, and 5000 for getting into the cockpit. Total excitement if you get the cockpit while taking out a pig or two! The first player to 30,000 points wins.

We decided to play on the floor, to avoid too much aggravation with chasing stray balls. The balls are a hard plastic, so they have an interesting bounce. I have to say it took some practice to start hitting any of our targets! But, when it works??

Awesome!

(For the record, that was a 1000 point score – 6000 was his running count.)

 

Little Boo added a component to the game. He decided that after our 10th turns, if we got no points on a turn we would be allowed to bring in the “Mighty Luke Skywalker,” i.e., the Foam Flyer we also received. I thought that was a pretty clever copy of the “Mighty Eagle” that can come to your rescue in the mobile Angry Birds game. For the record? He may be bigger, and does cause more destruction if he hits, but he’s no easier to aim.

 

We had a blast playing this together and testing out different angles and speeds for bouncing the balls. I also like that this is a game he can play either on his own, or with any number of friends taking turns.

Here are the official descriptions of the two toys we received:

ANGRY BIRDSTM STAR WARS® MILLENNIUM FALCONTM BOUNCE GAME

(Approximate retail price: $19.99; Ages: 8 & up; Players: 1-2)

Bounce into action with the new ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS MILLENNIUM FALCON BOUNCE GAME. Bounce three balls at the MILLENNIUM FALCON to knock down as many enemy pigs as possible, and land in the cockpit to score big! Players can also unlock ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS in-app content with a special code in each pack.





ANGRY BIRDSTM STAR WARS® FOAM FLYERS

(Approximate retail price: $9.99; Ages: 5 & up)

Toss around these 3.5-inch soft foam, iconic characters for a new way to play ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS! Available in LUKE SKYWALKER, CHEWBACCA, DARTH VADER and STORMTROOPER. Each sold separately.

A Giveaway

In celebration of the annual Star Wars Day coming up this Saturday, May the 4th (be with you …), Hasbro in the US is offering a Millennium Falcon Bounce game to one lucky Raising My Boys reader. Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EDT, May 8. Please note that this giveaway is open to US Residents only. Best of luck!!

 

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate my review. No other compensation was offered or received. All opinions on the blog, as always, remain my own (or those of my family).

Cars 3 Now Available on BluRay {review & giveaway}

Disney/Pixar’s “Cars 3” was a big hit in theatres earlier this year, and it’s now available for your home viewing pleasure on BluRay/DVD and digital download. The action takes place an undisclosed number of years after the original movie and finds Lightning McQueen competing against a new generation of amazingly fast and flashy racers. This new generation is high tech and engineered for maximum speed, leaving McQueen struggling to keep up. Following a devastating crash, he gets a new, young trainer, Cruz Ramirez whose goal it is to teach this old dog some new tricks.

Cars 3: Driven to Win | Disney LOL | Carros de películas, Disney ...

 

As should be expected, “Cars 3” brings amazing, realistic animation, courtesy of the talent at Pixar. It also comes with a solid story line and excellent character development, reminiscent of the first Cars movie. There are even a good few flashbacks to Doc Hudson, providing inspiration to Lightning as he faces his new challenges. This is a story of generations, and change, and of accepting new roles. It’s also a story of believing in yourself and the power of confidence.

 

In many ways, Cruz Ramirez is the quiet star of this movie. She presents a complicated character with a solid back story, and her development over the course of the film is a key plot point. As we watch her confidence grow, we are given a wonderful, strong female character in what has primarily been a franchise primarily appealing to boys.

 

“Cars 3” tells a great story, and tells it well. There are lots of laughs, and lots of emotions. Definitely recommend.

 

This BluRay Combo pack includes both a BluRay and a DVD disc, as well as a third disc with bonus features. There are deleted scenes as well as behind the scenes looks at how characters where imagined and developed and how real-world racing influenced the film makers. The package also includes the Pixar short, “Lou,” a sweet little story about a school bully and how he turns around.

Get Yours

“Cars 3” is available wherever you usually purchase your movies. If you wish to order online, here is my affiliate link for Amazon.

 

 

A Giveaway

Or you could win one! One lucky RMB reader will receive their own copy of “Cars 3” on Disney BluRay + DVD + Digital combo disc. Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 11:59pm ET, December 10. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Best of luck!

Come Get Creative at the Toronto Mini Maker Faire Sept. 21-22 #MMFTO

Are you looking for something a little different to enjoy with the kids this coming weekend? Well, there’s a really neat event happening in Toronto, at Wychwood Barns (St. Clair and Bathurst – easily accessible by TTC!) The Toronto Mini Maker Faire takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 21-22, and will bring together innovators, artists and hackers from all over the GTA to participate in Toronto’s greatest show and tell!

Home | Tourism Toronto

This interactive event will introduce GTA families to dozens of “makers,” ready to show off their projects and involve you in a variety of activities and workshops. There’ll be robots, 3D printing (even with chocolate!), upcycled creations, scupltures, laser tag, and more. You can see the line-up of participating makers here.

Toronto Mini Maker Faire and Hacklab Toronto paper airplane competition at Pedestrian SundayPhotos by Pam Lau
Do you have a creative kid on your hands? Or maybe you’re a back-yard inventor yourself? This event is for you!
Ticket Information
Ticket prices are currently discounted by 50%, just for a limited time!
Head over today to purchase through Eventbrite!
Adult per day: $12.50 (regular $25)
Student/Senior/Unwaged per day: $7.50 (regular $15)
Child (6-12 years) per day: $4 (regular $8)
Sunday Family Pass (2 adults, up to four children): $30
Children 5 and under are free.

Follow the Faire on Twitter at @MakerFaire_TO #MMFTO, or join them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MakerFaireToronto to keep up to date on all the happenings!

Disclosure: I received complimentary event tickets to thank me for helping to promote the Faire. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

Portion-Controlled Treats from Allans Candy

Sometimes you just need a little something sweet for a pick-me-up. Nothing big, just enough to satisfy a sweet craving. Allan Candy, a Canadian company, has just come out with a sweet treat that will do the trick!

Portion-Control Product Recommendations | Epicurious.com ...

 

Allan’s Dessert Bites are soft, chewy candies, wrapped in a creamy or chocolate coating. The flavours are based on four popular desserts – Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake, Apple Pie, Key Lime Pie, and Strawberry Shortcake. The bite-sized candies really do deliver on these flavours, staying pretty true to the real things.

 

The Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake is my favourite, probably because I love chocolate. I prefer this coating to the yogourty coating on the other flavours, but all taste good.

 

The serving size listed in the nutritional information is 14 pieces, but I found maybe half of that was enough to satisfy my sweet craving. 8 pieces would come in about 100 calories. This is a nice option for a portion-controlled sweet indulgence. These are gluten free as well, and more flavours may be in the works!

 

Key Lime Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, Apple Pie, Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Allan’s Dessert Bites are available in 200g resealable packages (perfect for your desk drawer). Right now they are offering a printable $2 off coupon on their Facebook page. So head over, print out your coupon, and introduce yourself to a little sweet Canadian treat.