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Christmas Cards (or, “My Damn Carpal Tunnel”)

Do you send Christmas cards each year? I do. I may be a little crazy by some standards, but I love giving and receiving actual cards. And I love the little notes and school pictures and family letters that often come with them. Even in this age of Facebook, there are family and friends from whom I just don’t hear enough, and I treasure this annual chance to catch up on each others’ lives.


Mom always sent cards. I remember her painstakingly writing out the addresses and little notes. And I remember that postage for Christmas cards was 15cents, while regular letters were 17 or 20 or something. A discount on Christmas postage! That was truly a different time.

Poinsettia flower Christmas cards - Woodland Trust Shop | Woodland ...


To make my cards a little easier, I typed in a set of “Christmas labels” a few years back. I can update the file each year if people move, or as I add new recipients. But all of the needed addresses are in one place and ready to go with a click of the print button and a couple sheets of Avery labels.


I also have a special storage box where I keep leftover cards, stamps, and pretty stickers. This way I don’t “misplace” them in the chaos that is my home.


Christmas stamps are a must. The envelopes don’t look right without them. I got burned about 4 years ago, when I waited til the first week of December to get stamps, and then had to go to 4 or 5 postal outlets before I could find festive ones. Now I stock up as soon as the stamps are released, then pop them in my storage box. (Thank heavens for permanent rate stamps!)


And of course there is our family letter. Yes it’s a form letter. But it’s an efficient and functional way to share our year with everyone. I still sign each card with a short personal note as well. I hope people like the update. I know I love getting these form letters from others!


Tonight I sit next to my stack of 40+ cards, stamped, addressed, sealed and ready to go. My wrist is hurting from the writing, and my mouth tastes like envelope glue, but I’m happy. I have two or three left to write. But I finally ran out of cards. My stash is empty, so I’ll hit the stores tomorrow and stock up again.

Hey Canada! A Trip Across Our Nation #HeyCanada

Just in time for Canada Day I am happy to be taking part in this fun blog tour, to tell all of you about this new book from Tundra Books. Hey Canada! is the story of a grandmother who takes her two grandchildren (cousins) and a mischievous pet hamster on a trip across our country, from coast to coast to coast. This is their opportunity to discover just how big and diverse and interesting Canada is.


Written by Vivien Bowers, and illustrated by Milan Pavlovic, the book utilizes poetry, prose, images, tweets, and comic strips to introduce us to Canada’s history and points of interest. Each chapter is its own province and includes a map, the provincial flower, bird, and capital. A large map of Canada and depictions of all provincial and territorial flags are included as well.

Canada - Wikipedia


Hey Canada! brings us from St. John`s, NL, across to Victoria, BC, and up through the Canadian north, with stops in all three territories. Each chapter gives a wealth of information and insights. There are even pronunciation guides for some more difficult words, or names in other languages than English. Little Boo enjoyed following along with “Find It” lists in each chapter, looking through all the pictures to find everything listed. It was a great game for him.


I think both Little Boo and I learned things from this book. I would have liked some more details on my home province, Newfoundland and Labrador, but that is probably only because it’s where I’m from and there are so many other events and sites I’d love to share with the rest of the country. You may find the same thing when you read the chapter for your neck of the woods, but this is not supposed to be an exhaustive reference guide. It is in fact a great introduction and an easily accessible non-fiction work for kids. There is even an index at the back so your kids can go back and check out specifics, like icebergs, Ogopogo, or Kensington Market, at a later date.

We enjoyed Hey Canada! as bed time reading – one or two chapters each night. The highest praise I can offer? Little Boo specifically requested it each night and let me know what province or territory we were to visit next. Clearly he loved it!

Health Information Goes Digital #digitalhealth

We were sitting at
the dinner table on a Friday evening. (It’s always on a Friday evening, isn’t
it?) Boo suddenly started scratching all over his torso. “What’s
wrong?” I ask. “I’m just really itchy, Mommy,” as he pulls up
his shirt and reveals a crazy red, raised rash. Holy cow! No fever, so I
suspected it was a generic viral rash, but sent a pic to my friend the
paediatric nurse, just in case. She agreed with me, but recommended getting it
checked out the next day anyway. And when a nurse tells you to see the doctor,
you go!



A great thing about
our family doctor is she’s part of a family health group with after-hours
clinics, so we always have someone we can see. The doctor that day confirmed
viral rash and suggested oatmeal baths and a pain medication. But the best part
(aside from knowing there was nothing serious going on) was that he was able to
type in all his notes on the visit and send them electronically to our own
doctor. Boom! Just like that she had them and could attach them to Boo’s
electronic file at her office. I was comforted knowing she had all the
information in an easily accessible way, making follow up and ongoing
monitoring that much easier.

WHO guideline recommendations on digital health


Being a techie gal
myself I appreciate the focus her office has on digital records and
communications. I can check out her current schedule on the office’s website,
send her an email, or book an appointment online. I even get appointment
reminders by email. And if I’m visiting her but have a question about Boo’s
health, or when he’s due for a vaccination or whatever, she just pulls up his
record on her computer and searches the answer. No need to have someone go
looking for a paper file that she then has to sort through to find what she
needs. It is so quick and convenient.


Across the country
more and more health care professionals are turning to electronic records and
secure digital sharing of patient data. Canada Health Infoway has launched a
public education campaign, BetterHealth Together,
designed to introduce us to this growing trend in health care. As digital
storage and access to health records expands, there may be some concerns about
security and personal privacy, and this campaign hopes to familiarise the
public with the safeguards in place and to educate on the benefits of digital
health records.



Does your doctor
receive lab results electronically? Mine does, and it means a quick, efficient
and secure delivery of my information, resulting in quick answers for me and
speedy treatment if necessary. Her office also provides printed lab
requisitions and prescriptions – so much easier and more complete than the old
hand-written notes. Plus, since the sheets print from the system, you are
assured that your file contains the exact same data.


If you are booking
medical appointments online, using a mobile app to log information on your and
your family’s health conditions, or if your doctor maintains electronic instead
of paper patient records, you are a part of the digital health movement. Do you
have a personal story on how these technologies are playing a role in your
health care? Canada Health Infoway encourages you to join them on Facebook and share your story, while
learning more about digital health in Canada. You can also find them on Twitter
at @Infoway.




Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Canada Health Infoway, however
the images and opinions are my own. For more information please visit

Bell Let’s Talk Day, Feb. 12

I don’t talk much about my own mental health issues, or at least I haven’t gone into much detail here. But, on the occasion of the 2013 Bell Let’s Talk Day, I thought it would be a good idea to come clean, so to speak.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1996. I’d probably been dealing with depression for a lot of years before that, but it came to a head that year, and I got help. Therapy, medications, new medications (felt like I tried them all before I got the right one), and we got me back on track. And I was in a great place for a long time. But 2012 really threw me for a loop, and neither my coping mechanisms nor my medications could keep me going. I had what I lovingly refer to as “my latest nervous breakdown.”

Bell Let's Talk Day: Mental health takes centre stage today ...

In 1996 I had to take a leave from grad school. In 2012 I had to take a leave from work. I am not suicidal. Don’t worry. Not even close. And I am a lot better now than I was in the fall. But anxiety has come to join my depression, and combined they make even everyday tasks sometimes completely overwhelming.

My concentration is shot. Simple tasks take me way too long to complete. My attention to detail also suffers, which is a big deal in my work life. My short term memory is severely affected. Every thing I do feels like a struggle. But then when I accomplish it, I feel like I’ve moved a mountain. My life is run by lists. When I can remember to make them. Mostly I have a list in my head, and everything has to be written on it – brush teeth, feed cat, turn on alarm when you leave. I need to work through my metal checklist constantly throughout the day to make sure nothing critical falls through the cracks. Things that used to be second nature have become stressful burdens. I often feel like I’m moving through jello trying to accomplish anything.

And distractedness? I think my son has ADHD?? I can’t stay on any task for longer than a few minutes before jumping to something else, then another. It takes a while to get back and finish anything.

Deadlines render me motionless. I shut down in face of the pressure.

And some days it’s just hard to get out of bed and face any of it.

My lovely, intelligent brain isn’t well. And I’m fighting to fix that. I am an accomplished, well-educated, productive member of society, with amazing family and friends. I am also one of the many faces of mental illness. You mostly wouldn’t know anything was wrong, though you might very well notice that my response time to your request these days, is slower than normal. I am getting things done, but you are probably used to much more efficiency from me. I apologise for that.

Everything now just takes that much more effort.

But, I have tools in my aresenal. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are my friends. I have friends and family to whom I can reach out for help when needed. And things are getting better. I’ll probably never be completely free of the specter of depression and anxiety, but I’ll soon be back on track. I just have to be aware, and I have to accept that this is something I must deal with.

This is my little contribution to today. By talking about mental illness and mental health, we can help to remove the stigma and fear, and this can only lead to better outcomes for those suffering from mental illness, and for their families.

Catch this Super Bowl Sneak Peek of Disney’s “Tomorrowland”

We’ve always enjoyed visiting Tomorrowland at the Disney parks, but now there’s a movie to match the futuristic vision of the attractions. And it sounds like it will be a thrilling live-action feature for parents and kids alike.

Welcome - Festival - Tomorrowland

From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s riveting, mystery adventure “Tomorrowland,” starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.
Featuring a screenplay by “Lost” writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof & Bird & Jeff Jensen, “Tomorrowland” promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of non-stop adventures through new dimensions that have only been dreamed of.

“Tomorrowland”opens in theatres May 22, 2015. But until then, check out this special trailer that aired tonight during Super Bowl 49.

Relief for Winter Dry Skin – George’s Skin Creams

In the summer it’s usually my feet. I wear sandals most every day, except when I’m barefoot in my own yard. My feet get really dry and cracked. In the winter, it’s pretty much everywhere else. With the dry, cold air outside, and the stale, heated air inside, my skin doesn’t stand a chance. Moisturizers and hand creams are a staple in my life.

Skin Creams | LoveToKnow

For the past couple of weeks, this has been sitting next to “my” spot on the couch. George’s Light Special Moisturizing Lotion is my new go-to solution for my winter dry skin. The pump makes it super easy to quickly access and apply the lotion to my hands, arms, and legs while I’m watching TV. And the lotion absorbs so quickly too. It is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, with no parabens, urea, or lanolin, so it is safe for the sensitive skin of small kids and even babies. This is a moisturizer the whole family can use, and it works!

George’s is a Canadian company, out of Alberta. And there actually is a George! George Doherty is a pharmacist and entrepreneur from Calgary, and he originally developed this formulation at home, using his wife’s mixer, in an attempt to come up with a cream that could combat the severe dry skin and irritations that come with the dry and cold Alberta winters. The original George’s Special Dry Skin Cream was later joined by George’s Light, a lighter lotion, which can even be used as a daily facial moisturizer. These products are still produced locally to strict standards, by a single manufacturer.

George’s is known for its great results with severe dry skin problems, such as eczema and psoriasis, but it offers therapeutic benefits that will provide immense relief to those suffering from many skin conditions, including:
Cradle Cap
Flaky Skin
Wind Burn
Swimmer’s Itch

It is available across Canada at major and independent retailers, including Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmasave and Loblaws. You can find out more about these products on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.


A Giveaway

To care for your skin this winter, you could win a prize pack of George’s Skin Cream products, including both full- and travel-sizes. Approximate retail value $30. Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EST, December 17, 2012. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec. Best of luck!

Disclosure: I received free product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received, and all opinions on this blog remain my own.

MGA Entertainment Prize Pack – next in the #holidayshowcase

Tis the season for giveaways! I love bringing my readers chances to win fun and/or useful items, and I think you’ll be excited by this one. Today’s prize is a $258 prize pack of toys from MGA Entertainment. MGAE includes many popular toy brands, and for this giveaway they are offering a selection to please both boys and girls, from the Little Tikes, Lalaloopsy, and Bratz lines.

MGA Entertainment - Wikipedia




The Giveaway

  • 3 Action Adventures Robot Flashlights
    · 4 Lalaloopsy bundle
    · 4 Bratz Catz
    Total Prize Value: $258Personally, I know Little Boo would love those Robot Flashlights. He has a bit of a flashlight obsession, and add a robot to the mix? Total win!

    Entries for this giveaway are via the Rafflecopter widget below, until Dec. 9th. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents.

Thank you to Kidsumers for organizing!

Toys R Us Play Day, June 22


More fun happenings this weekend! This Saturday, June 22, from 11am-1pm, ToysRUs locations across Canada (excluding express locations) will be hosting a Play Day to celebrate the start of summer vacation.

Top Toys 2020 : Top Toys of the Year | Kohl's

Activities may vary by store, and are available while quantities last, but include a special Lego build, a chance to design a Thomas cargo car, a Klutz craft station, and more. Little Boo and I attended a Lego build at our local ToysRUs before Mother’s Day. He made me a heart box and had so much fun. And of course, these activities are free. We’re planning on visiting again this weekend.

Disney’s Frozen – Family Pass Giveaway


Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio behind Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, presents Frozen, a stunning big-screen comedy adventure. Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey – teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven – to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom. “Frozen” hits theatres in 3D on November 27, 2013.

Conceal, Don't Feel: A Queer Reading of Disney's [Frozen] – Angel ...

A Giveaway

Disney’s Frozen may not officially open until November 27, but I have a special treat for two Raising My Boys readers. On November 9th, at 10:00am, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Canada will present a number of screenings of the new film in cities across Canada. I have family passes to give out for the GTA screenings, in Richmond Hill and Whitby. Can you attend? The screenings will be at the Silver City Richmond Hill and Empire Theatres Whitby. Each family pass provides admission for four people. I have one to give away for each location. Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EST, November 4. Open to Canadian residents only, and the winners must be available to attend the screening in person on November 9. Best of luck!

Diamonius Simulated Diamond Jewelry

Who doesn’t love the pretty? And when the pretty sparkles? So much the better for this girl! I was approached earlier this month to review a couple of simulated diamond rings from Diamonius. I hadn’t heard of this company before, so I had a look around their website to see what they were all about before I committed. What I saw impressed me, both in terms of the jewelry pictured and the company’s philosophy and practices.

diamonius Archives | Stop, Drop & Blog

The Company

“Every woman should have the opportunity to own extraordinary jewelry that is conflict-free, and has no negative environmental, economic or humanitarian effects. Diamonius’ philosophy is to provide all women with their dream jewelry at an affordable price without compromising luxury or elegance. We enable fashionistas to wear $150-$200 rings that look visually identical to $2000-$8000 rings.

Diamonius uses only the highest quality lab-created diamond simulants as substitutes for naturally mined diamonds. Diamonius diamond simulants truly capture all the brilliance and luxury of mined diamonds. Our Diamonius diamond simulants will not fade, discolor or cloud. Our diamond simulants are colorless and flawless. Diamonius diamond simulants are visually indistinguishable from a mined diamond except by specialized gemologist equipment.”

The Rings
I received the Adrianna and Cheryl designs, pictured below. They are both stunning pieces and were very difficult to photograph simply because they sparkle so much. Adrianna is my favourite of the two, maybe because it has the three gems, but mostly because the visual weight of the ring looks great on my finger. I tend to prefer chunkier designs. The Cheryl is exquisite and very delicate. It would be great for a slender finger or anyone who prefers a simpler design in their jewelry.