A Kinder Surprise In Italy!

397719_518717761494344_51720000_aAs summer comes to a close I am reflective of the wonderful months that have gone by.  My family was fortunate enough to take a trip to Italy for three weeks.  We had been planning the trip for over a year and all of our extended family and some close friends were able to join us as well.

We had such a great time touring around all of the major cities in Italy like Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre and then we settled into an Italian Villa in Tuscany for the remainder of our trip.  My children are age 10 and 7 and they were amazing on the trip. I was worried that they would get bored viewing church after church and touring around the cities….but, they were rock stars and didn’t complain “hardly” at all!  I guess the copious amounts of gelato that I was feeding them may have helped a little bit.

The summer months in Italy are much hotter than in Canada.  We averaged about 38 degrees our first week, then it “cooled down” to around 30 degrees for the remainder of our time there.  As long as we had cold water to drink we didn’t mind the heat much.  All of us were too distracted by the beauty of the countryside and the delicious food to notice just how hot it really was.

One interesting comment that my daughter made was that there weren’t very many kids around when we went on tours, etc.  I got to thinking about it and she was right.  I can only assume that the Italian locals escape to the coast for their summer holidays to beat the heat and leave touring around the big cities for the summer tourists!!

When you are traveling in a different country with children you always want to make sure that you inject some sort of normalcy to your day.  You want to make sure that you can find some of the foods that they are used to eating and find some folks who speak the same language as you.  This helps kids to feel comfortable in their surroundings.  So, it was funny when we were in Rome and touring around in all the shops I heard my son call my name and he sounded very excited at what he had found.  When I got over to him to see what was so exciting it turns out he had found an Italian Kinder Egg.  It looks exactly like the ones you get in Canada but all the wording was written in Italian.  He asked if he could bring a couple home to his friends so we did.  Interesting that with all the unique things in the store we were in he found the one item that made him remember home….but, with an Italian twist.   Now, I just needed to determine how I was going to get the Kinder Eggs home in my suitcase without them melting all over my souvenirs!

For Some Exciting Kinder News:

Share your summer smiles with KINDER® in their new “photo-strip” app starting August 17th on Kinder® Canada’s Facebook Page – it’s a fun and interactive way for parents to capture and share moments of joy in a playful way. Once you’re a KINDER® Fan, it’s just a few simple steps:

Step 1: Fan KINDER® on Facebook

Step 2: Start your photo-strip

Step 3: Upload your photos

Step 4: Choose a fancy KINDER® frame

Step 5: Choose a filter (make yourself look silly)

Step 6: Save & share

 

Add #kindersmiles to any photo-strip and you can see your smile in the app’s gallery view.

 

“Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own”

Staycation or Awaycation?

For the first five years of motherhood I lived nearly 5000 miles away from my family. It’s my fault – I chose to up-sticks and move away. When we were just a couple I was fine with a visit from my parents once a year, a yearly trip home for us and weekly phone calls, but somehow, having babies made me feel closer to my family despite the vast distance between us. I realised just how much a rookie mom needs her mom.

As Pickle grew and Bowser arrived seeing my family only once or twice a year and the limited time my parents had with their grandchildren fanned the flames of my smoldering feelings of homesickness. Surviving the nine hour flight and the accompanying jet lag also made traveling home less appealing. So, when Pickle was five and Bowser 18 months we packed up and went home. Now we are a much more sensible 60 miles apart and can see them, if not whenever we want, at least six or so times a year.

IMG_4996So that’s how we’ll be spending our upcoming school break – with Nanny and Grandad. We won’t do anything terribly exciting; it’s very relaxed. We will visit with some extended family, catching up with Aunties and Cousins. I usually get to have some precious ‘me time’ and have a couple of nights out with old friends. We’ll have our annual trip to the theme park, adventure playground and, if weather permits, a day at the beach. Pickle in particular is just as excited about seeing Nanny and Grandad as she is about what we will do when we’re there. For her it’s all about being together. It’s like she’s making up for lost time.

IMG_5005Pickle would like it if we were part of an African or Indian culture where the extended family all live together under one roof, but we adults know that we also need our own space. We always try to explain to her that if we spent all of our time together then we wouldn’t be able to look forward to visits. However, when we leave there are always tears that last for at least the first 15 minutes of the journey.

Nanny always has a little welcome gift for them: usually a sticker book and a craft kit for Pickle; a couple of Hot Wheels or some Angry Birds paraphernalia for Bowser. And there’s always a pack of Kinder eggs each. No matter how many of these babies we’ve had in our house over the last few years (and being a part of the #KinderMom program this is quite a few!) the kids are always excited to open another one and shortly after munching on the delicious chocolate the toy bartering begins.

Wishing you all a happy holiday – be it a staycation or an awaycation I’m sure it will be fun, fun, fun!

What is Every Woman?

It’s Spring!  Take the time to tap into the BEST of you! We all know what it feels like to get lost in our laundry list of activities, forgetting to make time for our personal health & wellness, and sometimes even forgetting to breathe! With the start of Spring here is an event and opportunity that will both nourish and inspire you through the seasons ahead.  

every womanWhat is every WOMAN?  You want to be your best self! You like to be active. You are not quite as active as you like. You like to try new things. You love nature. You love feeling great. You love being healthy. every WOMAN is an opportunity to try activities you’ve never tried, or things you haven’t done since you were a kid. every WOMAN Events connect, support and motivate women of all ages, shapes & sizes to be active through fitness and wellness workshops. Because you want to. Humour recommended. Movement guaranteed. Over 80 fabulous workshops & events to choose from!

 

Details:every WOMAN – Whistler May 30 – June 1 Nita Lake Lodge.

Early Bird Registration until April 15 is $249 for a full weekend of events. After April 15: $299 . Visit the every WOMAN site for a complete listing of workshops to participate in.

As a returning sponsor and long time workshop facilitator

brita_closeup_lo_resBrita McLaughlin (Owner: Brita McLaughlin Coaching & Associates) has definitely drunk the     koolaid and encourages all women to take time for themselves this spring to join her at this event: “I just LOVE  this event – I’ve tried so many new forms of activities that I never would have otherwise… everything from      laughter Yoga to Groove FIT, Belly dancing & hoola hooping to red carpet walking and I’ve made many  great friends  along the way…. It is such a unique opportunity to be able to get a taste of activities you have never tried before.”

 

Brita will be facilitating two wellness workshops at every WOMAN this year including:  

Access Your Best Self – Live a Life You Love ( All about building rock solid confidence)

New!! REVVVV Up Your Relationships!( Improve your Relationships with whoever you want!)

Brita McLaughlin & every Woman invite you to ENTER the

Inspire Your SELF Sweepstakes! You can WIN up to $1500 prizes – including $700+ golf package at Big Sky Golf & Country Club!

 

bmc_logo_reverse_WEB_tagline_003Brita McLaughlin Coaching: A Certified Life Coach & Relationship Coach, Facilitator and Speaker, Brita has enjoyed supporting hundreds of clients to extraordinary breakthroughs throughout North America for over 14 years now.  Brita is particularly passionate about supporting women to raise the bar for themselves. She is also a Relationship Mastery Expert and enjoys coaching personal & professional partnerships; families & teams to wellness. Brita is dedicated to supporting her clients to be emotionally and spiritually whole; to believe in themselves and take inspired actions from that place. Her motto is “Inspire your SELF- Love your LIFE”

Time for an Egg-stravaganza!

easter egg huntWe’ve all had plenty of time to get our ducks – or perhaps chicks – in a row this year as Easter is late coming!  We’re all having to wait until mid April to crack open those eggs. Whenever Easter falls we always take a family trip to Papa and Grammas’ house to celebrate with the Aunties and Cousins. It’s a big family affair and Papa always puts on a big Easter Egg hunt that keeps the kids occupied for hours.

Somehow the Easter Bunny always knows to go to Papa’s house instead of our house. This might have something to do with the kids writing said bunny of Easter a lengthy and pointed letter each year to remind him of our Spring vacation plans and the change of venue. Adding to the excitement are special touches like Mr. Bunny leaving a foot print trail around the house so the kids absolutely know that he’s been there. You try crinkling up your foot into the shape of a bunny paw…sheesh, the things we do to keep traditions alive. I am a bit concerned that my husband seems to be as shocked as the kids on the paw print trail and I may have to have a heart-to-heart discussion with him over the viability of human sized magical rabbits.

Another great tradition for us is to wake up on Easter morning to little hollow plastic eggs with secret notes inside scattered around the homestead. Open the egg and read a rhyme that tells you where to look for some seasonal presents.  The presents can be hidden anywhere from inside the dryer to outside in the backseat of the car. The adventure is more in the finding than the little trinkets that make up the booty.  A pack of Easter stickers or a bag of Kinder Mini Eggs is always a favorite. To cap the day, decorating eggs is always a fun activity for the whole family.

egg hunt basketThis year our hunt will be helped along by the fantastic package we KinderMoms received from Kinder® containing everything we need to create an egg hunt. You could win one of these packages too – visit the Kinder® Canada Facebook page on April 8, 10 and 12 where a basket will be up for grabs.

Kinder® has partnered with Children’s Miracle Network and will be providing 12 of these baskets to CMN hospitals.  As well, Kinder® will be donating another $25,000 to help support this non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America.

Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own.


How Lucky Are You?

When it comes to luck…..I have only won one thing in my life.  When I was in elementary school I put my name in a contest to win a 100 pound chocolate egg from a local chocolate store.  It was a big Easter promotion for the chocolate shop in order to entice young kids into their store after seeing the 100 pound chocolate egg sitting in their store window.  I went to the store every day and entered my name into the contest (all the while purchasing other chocolate treats for myself of course).  I was distraught when I found out that I was going to be out of town with my family on the day of the draw.  One of the contest stipulations was that you HAD to be present during the draw…..at the time I thought it was a silly rule…..but now, after putting on my marketing hat, I totally understand why the store had that stipulation :-)

I am sure you can expect where I am headed with this…..I DID win the contest but I wasn’t there to claim the prize.  I was devastated to hear the news upon returning from my family vacation.  BUT, now that I am older and wiser I am so happy  that I in fact didn’t win the 100 pound chocolate egg….imagine the sugar rush I would have had…..all the pimples I probably would have gotten….and I probably would have gained about 100 pounds from eating all that chocolate.

From this experience I learned two things…..first off, persistence pays off and secondly NO child needs a 100 pound chocolate egg!!!!

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We are excited to tell you about the Kinder® Surprise 2014 promotion of Kinder® Crack’n Win®.  This is a fun promotion designed to celebrate the launch of their new toy collections.  There are over $2.4 million in instant prizes to be won and entering couldn’t be easier! Keep an eye out for specially-marked Kinder® Surprise® Classic and Pink products in stores.

Inside each specially-marked Kinder® Surprise® egg, you will find a PIN embossed on the toy and/or toy leaflet within the capsule.

Once you’ve found your code, entering the contest is super-duper easy.  Simply visit the Kinder® Canada Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/KinderCanada/app_758013124212966  (and “Like” the page, if you haven’t already ) , enter your PIN code (along with some additional information as required) and click “Check Your PIN”.

What is up for grabs, you ask? Well, one lucky Kinder® fan could drive away in a Fiat 500 POP!  As well, 2 lucky Kinder® fans could win a family trip to Orlando!  Ahhhhh….sweet sunshine and warmth, how I’m missing you.  But, that’s not all!  Over 27,000 Kinder® fans could win a family night out to the movies, and 201,000 fans could win a free Kinder® treat!  Who could ask for more? :-)   This is definitely better than willing a 100 pound chocolate egg, that’s for sure!!!

“Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own”

Tis the Season

christmas shoppingAs I pack the car with bottled water, snacks, comfy shoes and big environmental bags it would appear that I am planning for a natural disaster of some sort.  To your disappointment it’s nothing so extreme but it is something almost as adrenaline filled. Yes you guessed it, I am planning for a girls Christmas shopping weekend!

There are a group of us that go shopping every year and attempt to conquer our entire Christmas list in one weekend.  We plan every detail….from which route to take, a listing of each store we want to hit and even how long we can spend in each store.  We plan out where we will stop for lunch (we need to make sure we have fuel in us to keep the shopping marathon going for the two days) and we plan where and when we will stop for dinner.  Dinner is mostly to re-group over a glass of wine to make sure we didn’t miss anything and if we did, to add it to the agenda for the next day.

We even go as far as booking into a hotel for the night near the shopping mall so that we can shop until we literally “drop”. I attend this shopping extravaganza with girlfriends who all have children the same age as mine.  This is helpful because then we can bounce gift ideas off one another and ensure that we are getting our kids the latest and greatest toys.  We spend the most time in toy and kids apparel stores.  We all have 6 year old boys that are obsessed with trucks, cars, airplanes and figurines.  We ensure that we bring all of the holiday store coupons with to ensure we are getting the best bang for our buck!!!!

DC Friend BatcaveFor the most part I usually get the majority of my Christmas shopping done that weekend.  For any last minute gifts I get those online as I am sick of the malls by then.  Going to websites like http://www.mattel.ca/ is a good as they have their toys categorized by age group which makes shopping very convenient.   They have everything from Barbie to the latest Imaginext toys (which my son and his friends LOVE).  The DC Super Friends™ Batcave is an absolute favorite in the 4-8 year category!!!!

For next year all you parents out there that are wondering when and how to start your Christmas shopping, my advice to you is pack your car with all of the essential survival tools and a well planned out Christmas list.  Then hit the open road for a shopping extravaganza.  It will take a weekend to get everything done but then you can rest and enjoy the rest of the holidays with family and friends knowing that you have conquered the list that was haunting you.

Well, I’m off to start wrapping……

“Disclosure: I am part of the Mattel Holiday Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

It’s never too early…

As far as kids are concerned, the earlier the Christmas celebrations are allowed to start the better. If my kids had their way the tree would have been up weeks ago, but my rule is 2 weeks before the big day… and no matter how much pleading and badgering I’m subjected to I’m sticking to it. But of course, at school they are busy rehearsing for Christmas plays and carol concerts and the Christmas fair is done and dusted, so I can understand that in their little minds the festive season is well and truly upon us.

If your little ones think celebrating Christmas for a twelfth of the year is mandatory then they’ll be overjoyed to hear that the holiday excitement has started already on Disney Junior!

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Holiday Programming on Disney Junior

  • Every week night at 6pm ET from Dec 2nd to 24th tune in for special holiday episodes of your favourite shows.
  • On Saturday, December 7th at 10.30am ET don’t miss a special episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse with extra-special guest appearances by favourite Disney characters including Snow White, Aladdin, Winnie the Pooh and many more!
  • And although you might be a little busy on Christmas Day, be sure to set the PVR for a marathon of holiday movies and specials from 6am until 11pm ET.

For full details of all the holiday programming check out the Disney Junior holiday schedule.

As well, parents and little ones can enjoy holiday-themed games, activities and more on the Disney Junior website. You can even design your own holiday e-Card to send to a loved one.

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Disclosure: I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Share The Joy This Season

imagesEvery year as I begin my Christmas shopping for my children I reflect on how lucky they are to have as much as they do. For me it’s important to remember  that there many people in the world with very little, including a number of local families that struggle during the holiday season.

I believe that it’s very important for my kids to understand how lucky they are and to “share their joy” with others.  That’s why I always volunteer at my children’s elementary school for the Stocking Program.  It’s a great program where each grade at the school joins together to fill a huge stocking, or cardboard box that is decorated like a stocking, with presents for a family in need.  The presents can be anything from winter clothes to toys to grocery store gift cards that can be used for meals over the holidays.  As a school we always fill about 8 or 9 stockings.  As a family we always give generously to at least one family.

I make sure that my children are very much a part of the giving process. We talk about the ages of the kids that we are buying for and what they might like and need.   Then my children and I carve out a day to go shopping for relevant and fun items for each family member.  We always help to decorate the stocking (box) and we actually deliver the stocking right to the school that the family belongs to.

The whole process is designed to be as valuable to the volunteers as it is to helping out a local family that may not have the means as others do in providing a wonderful Christmas for their family.  For my kids it’s a great way to understand the meaning of giving back to the community and the true spirit of the holidays.

397719_518717761494344_51720000_aSimilar to my local efforts, and as a KINDER Mom, I like to share with you another great holiday kindness program that KINDER® has on right now.  For the second year in a row, KINDER® has partnered with Children’s Miracle Network with the “A Joy To Share” program.  The “A Joy to Share” program is one of the ways KINDER® is helping bring joy to families this holiday season.  As families come together this holiday, it is a wonderful opportunity to teach our little ones (and loved ones) about what it means to help others.  This isn’t just a donation – but a call to action for Canadian moms and children to create a greeting card as a means to share some holiday joy to  children and their families at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals this holiday season.

Starting Friday November 22nd, for each greeting card that is created, KINDER® will donate $1 to the Children’s Miracle Network.

Have fun creating your greeting card and remember to Share The Joy this holiday season!

Disclosure: I’m part of the KINDER® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Eco Toy Packaging

As a parent of two small children, I find myself pontificating about things I never have before. Where my life formerly centered around friends, Friday nights and shopping, I now think more about the environment, my children’s health and how to get milk gob off of my clothes.


mother shopping

This leads into my pet peeve of the decade topic…consumer goods packaging, specifically, the packaging that accompanies children’s toys and crafts. I recently bought my daughter a doll that came with so much more than just a toy brush and hair clips. I realized this was truly a gift of copious amounts of cardboard, plastic clips, metal ties and glossy (toxic?) paint. After extricating the doll from the cardboard sheath and plastic clips and all the while wondering if an engineering degree and blow torch would have sped the process up, I realized I had more packaging than toy! I have to ask myself what I am sure thousands of parents around the world have thought at one time or another. “Is this good for the environment?”, “Is it setting a good example for my children?”, “Doesn’t the packaging add unnecessary costs to a simple toy?”.

So now I have to ask myself why manufacturers do this when it is so obviously wrong on many levels. My personal conclusion was disturbing and embarrassing. The companies that make and market these toys do this because of me! Lavishly packaged toys sell more units because I buy them. I didn’t buy the plain cotton doll; I bought this plastic and glitzy cardboard encased monstrosity. Take your children to the toy store and they automatically gravitate towards the shiniest, brightest and exciting looking toys on the shelf. Unwrap it at home however and it just becomes another plaything with all the rest.

Some recommendations to help you around this issue are:

1) Buy the toys you like but write a letter (email) to the manufacturer and ask them to change their packaging.

2) Boycott toys with excessive packaging and let your friends know too.

3) Buy eco friendly toys. There are many great brands out there….

Celebrate the Holidays Minion Style!

Gru, his adorable girls, and the mischievous Minions are back with a whole host of new characters in the blockbuster sequel to Despicable Me. Just as Gru has given up being super-bad to be a super-dad, the Anti-Villain League recruits him to track down a new criminal mastermind and save the world. Partnered with secret agent Lucy Wilde, Gru, aided by the wildly unpredictable but lovable Minions, must figure out how to keep his cover while also keeping up with his duties as a dad.

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The top box-office comedy of the year Despicable Me 2 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment arrives on Blu-ray™ and DVD on December 10, 2013. A Blu-ray combo pack will include more than 45 minutes of hilarious bonus features plus three all-new mini-movies starring the film series’ breakout stars, the mischievous Minions.

You could be one of the first to own a copy of Despicable Me 2 if you’re the lucky winner of our giveaway.

To enter simply leave a comment below telling us the name of one of the three all-new mini-movies starring the Minions available in the DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack special features.

After you’ve completed this mandatory comment entry you can do the following for bonus entries:

Please be sure to leave a separate comment below for each of your bonus entries.

  • Giveaway is open to Canada only
  • Winner will be drawn at random
  • Giveaway closes November 29th, 2013
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