Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today I'm Feeling Flakey #MoodieFoodie

Feeling a little flakey? How about grilling some herb-rubbed steak with pepper and arugula relish? I have to be honest, I'm not sure the connection of mood to recipe here, but I'm not going to argue with this delicious top sirloin. Most of the recipes in this mood do have a flakey aspect to them, often with filo or some other sort of pastry involved. And there's some yummy looking flakey fish recipes as well. But today I am feeling flakey in an ill kind of way, and I want some MEAT for solid protein and energy.

I scrolled through the moods on the front page of the #MoodieFoodie app, and Flakey seemed to fit. A quick click on the arrow and I am brought to that mood's category. A quick tap allows me to scroll through the 14 recipes provided. And once I see this gorgeous image, I am hooked:

The images are definitely inspiring and drool-worthy throughout this app.

Tap on the "Recipe" tab to bring up the ingredients and directions:

If you tap on that little heart icon in the title bar, you add this to your "My Matches." This makes it easy to find your favourite recipes quickly in future. There are also social share buttons for Twitter and Facebook, which let you quickly share your favourites with friends and followers.

The navigation in this app is good, but not always completely clear. "Browse" let's you scan through the moods with a finger swipe. "Search" presents an alphabetical list of moods, and a search box where you can enter how you feel to see if that mood exists. If your current mood isn't included, you will be prompted with the option to add it. But this will only work if you add a recipe with it. The "Add" button is precisely for that - to add and share your own recipes with a mood match. I think I'd like a quick "Back to Main Menu" type of button. Once in a recipe you have to tap a couple of times to find it. Not horrible by any means, but could be a little quicker.

These two icons above the recipe name require a little explanation. The first, with the arrow, allows you to add the recipe to a new mood. Which is cool. I don't think it removes the original mood. The second allows you to flag a recipe as inappropriate, with comments. This is certainly a necessary feature with this app, since any user can add their own content. A bit of self-policing for the user community. I like.

I think the only other thing I'd like Sobeys to consider adding in any updates to this app would be the ability to filter by "course." This would let me choose a flirty beverage or an angry side dish, for instance. (Might be an interesting statement to make if bringing something to a potluck ...)

Bottom line, I do like this app and the recipes included from inspired.ca are really easy and cover a broad range of moods and cuisines. I can see me using this a lot.

And without further ado, here is today's recipe, from inspired.ca:

Prep Time:  10 min.
Total Time: 30 min.

1 lb
Sterling Silver® Top Sirloin Grilling Steaks
500 g
red pepper, diced
sweet onion, diced
2 cloves
garlic, minced
2 tbsp
olive oil, divided
30 mL
1/4 tsp
each salt and pepper, divided
1 mL

  1. Heat barbecue to medium high. Rub the steaks with the herb paste and set aside. Set the red pepper, onion and garlic on a double layer of foil. Drizzle with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) each of salt and pepper. Seal foil tightly into a packet. Set on the grill and cook with the lid closed 8 to 10 min.
  2. Drizzle the steaks with the remaining olive oil. Grill for 2 to 3 min. per side for medium (160°F/71°C on an instant-read thermometer). Season steaks with remaining salt and pepper. Let rest 5 to 10 min.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the chopped arugula into the red pepper and onion mixture to make a warm relish, seasoning to taste. Thinly slice the steak and serve topped with the relish.

Disclosure: I have received compensation to facilitate my reviews of this app and its recipes. The opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own. 

Pampering Your Baby's Bottom - Pampers $100 Giveaway #babyshower

Little Boo will have you know that he is looooong out of diapers, thank you very much. But when he was in diapers, Pampers was our brand of choice. This started right from the first tiny newborn diaper he was given in the NICU. Pampers was the only diaper used in our hospital, and the diaper we kept going back to at home. Yes, we tried others, but we found the fit and absorbency of Pampers to be the best for us.

So, I'm particularly happy to be a part of this latest addition to our #BabyShower giveaway event. Pampers is providing a prize pack of diapers and wipes, valued at $100 to one lucky winner! Needless to say, this is a basic must-have for any baby momma.

This giveaway is open to Canada only (excluding Quebec) and runs until midnight EDT Aug 23. Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below. Best of luck!!

Thank you to Kidsumers (www.kidsumers.ca) for organising this giveaway! I'm hoping one of my Raising My Boys readers wins :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Disney's Diamond Collection Blu-Ray #Giveaway

More Disney fun for my readers! Walt Disney Motion Pictures Canada is offering a Diamond Collection Blu-Ray prize pack to one Raising My Boys fan. This package contains the following five Disney classics:

"Pocahontas" & "Pocahontas II"
"The Rescuers" & "The Rescuers Down Under"
"The Aristocats"

I remember seeing "The Rescuers" at the drive-in when I was a kid. Loved those little mice! Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor? Amazing voice casting. Of course, this was after Ms. Gabor played the charming Duchess in "The Aristocats." The Pocahontas films are of course classics of a younger generation, although amazingly it's been close to 20 years since the first one was released.

These films are sure to delight Disney fans of all ages!
Entries for this giveaway are through the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest is open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec, and entries will be accepted until midnight EDT, August 16.
Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Water Safety

I've been told the story more than once over the years. I have no memory of the event, although I do remember other events from that summer, in spite of how young I was.

My grandfather found me. I was lying face down in the little stream behind our house. He grabbed me up out of it as quick as he could. I was unresponsive. I was two years old.

My grandmother revived me. I'm not clear on the details - what she did, how she knew, how long I was out.

What I do know, is that I wandered out of the house alone while she was looking after my infant brother. And I almost drowned. But I was lucky. My grandfather was there in time and my grandparents saved my life that day. I'm still deeply afraid of drowning, and my heart is breaking this summer at the number of drowning deaths that are occurring in our province. 

Backyard pools and ponds or busy public beaches - too many people are dying. So, I'm getting on my soapbox, and I'm going to share with you some important information on water safety from the Canadian Red Cross. This isn't a sponsored post. It's something I feel strongly about and want to highlight here where I can say whatever I want. I expect the Red Cross won't mind me sharing and/or paraphrasing.
© Lastdays1 | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos
  • Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children aged 1-4
  • In nearly half of infant and toddler drownings, the child was alone (like me!) Adult supervision is key.
  • A small child can drown in only a few inches of water - just enough to cover the mouth and nose
  • Home swimming pools account for 38% of toddler drownings.
  • Since 1991, only 4% of reported toddler drownings were in pools with self-closing and self-latching gates.
  • If all home pools were equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates, nearly all toddler pool drownings and about one-third of all toddler drownings could be eliminated.
  • Always empty those little wading pools when finished playing (that's more than enough water to drown!)
  • Young children ages 1 to 4 and men ages 15 to 44 are at the greatest risk of drowning
  • Alcohol and swimming don't mix
  • Always be aware of currents when swimming in open water.- you can be swept away in an instant
  • Always wear your lifejacket, in the appropriate size, and properly secured, whenever you are in a boat
  • And I was always told - swim with a buddy.
© Spepple22 | Stock Free Images
Dreamstime Stock Photos
For more information, please read the following two documents from the Canadian Red Cross:
Summer Water Safety
Lifejacket Wear and Boating Safety

Please be safe! Make sure your backyard pools and ponds are secure and safe. Supervise your children closely around any water. Know your limits and abilities and don't take crazy risks. It ain't worth it.

Renaissance Costume Review

Pretty, hey? Needless to say this isn't me, but this is the costume I received for review from Wholesale Halloween Costumes. With Blissdom Canada coming up this fall, I'll be in need of a new costume for the Saturday night Costumes and Karaoke party, so I'm investigating my options.

Wholesale has a great variety of Renaissance costumes for men, women and kids. From knights and ladies, to royalty, to bar wenches - there's a little bit of everything to suit your tastes. They also carry ladies plus-sized costumes to suit curvier figures.

I chose this lady-in-waiting gown. It is a one-piece gown and comes with the headpiece. The fabric is quite soft and comfortable, and the stitching is strong. The quality of the garment is quite good for a costume. This one comes in two sizes (S/M and M/L) and sells for $22.90 US. I am a size 12 or 14, so I ordered the M/L, meant to fits sizes 10-14. And it fits perfectly. It doesn't cling or squeeze in any awkward places. (My tummy is thankful!) I can see being comfortable in this gown for an entire evening of costumed fun. It is elegant and flattering on me, and its lightweight construction should keep me cool.

The one piece that isn't perfect for me is the headpiece. I have a pretty large head, with curls now, and the headpiece is a little small for me, though I can wear it. It necessarily must be snug to stay in place, but for my head size, I don't think I"ll be wearing the headpiece all evening.

Overall, I do recommend checking out the wide variety of costumes available from this site. You'll certainly find something to interest you!

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Today I'm a Happy #MoodieFoodie

It's the weekend. The sun is shining. The weather is hot and I'm all about summer.


So, what better way to celebrate than with a refreshing drink of Agua Fresca from Sobey's Inspired magazine? I found this recipe by browsing through the mood "Happy" in Sobey's new MoodieFoodie app.

Serves 8 
Prep Time 15 min.
Total Time: 15 min.
For a spiced-up version, add 1/2 cup (125 mL) of vodka, light rum, Grand Marnier or tequila.

Recipe Ingredients
4 sprigs fresh mint
2 tbsp sugar 30 mL 
1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple 250 mL 
1 cup sliced strawberries 250 mL
4 cups Compliments Fruit Fusion Strawberry Passionfruit Fruit Beverage 1 L
1 bottle Compliments Carbonated Mineral Water With Natural Lime Flavour 750 mL
1 cup ice cubes 250 mL
Recipe Directions
1. Place mint leaves and sugar in a large pitcher or punch bowl and crush gently with a cocktail muddler or wooden spoon until slightly bruised. Add pineapple and strawberries. Stir in juice blend and refrigerate until needed.
2. Just before serving, add mineral water and ice.
Sounds yummy, right? This is a delicious and fancy non-alcoholic option to serve to your younger guests and your designated drivers. No one will miss the alcohol. Of course, if you want an adult version, you could certainly add some spirits. I think I'd go for the light rum with these flavours.
Have you tried out this MoodieFoodie app yet? It is available for iPhone, iTouch, and iPad, free from the AppStore. And don't forget to enter my contest for a $50 Sobeys giftcard so you can try some of these great recipes with Compliments products as well.
Disclosure: I have received compensation to facilitate my reviews of this app and its recipes. The opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own. 

Farmers Feed Cities #FreshFromTheField

Do your kids know where their food comes from? When you ask about that steak on their plate, do they think only of the supermarket shelf and the styrofoam tray? There is, of course, so much more to it than that.  Farmers Feed Cities is an organisation dedicated to educating the public about the importance of farmers in our lives and in the economy of Ontario. They attend numerous events and fairs around the province, including the CNE and Royal Winter Agricultural Fair, as well as host their own events as part of their outreach and education mandates.  
Little Boo and I were lucky enough to attend one of their events last week at Riverdale Farm, in downtown Toronto. (Yes, there is a farm in downtown Toronto, operated by the city and free to the public for visits - a great place for kids to get close to agriculture!) 
photo credit: Hector Vasquez Photography
This is the great group of Ontario farmers who joined us and talked to us about some of the different types of farms in our province: vegetable, beef, eggs, pork, and dairy. It was wonderful to hear from these passionate people who clearly love their work and their relationship with the land.

Each of the farmers told us a bit about their specific industry as we visited the relevant area of the farm. The kids did listen and even ask questions, but they (naturally) were more intrigued by watching the animals themselves. I was proud of Little Boo for asking about the slaughter process for cows, since he had asked me this question just a few days previous. He loves steak and I think he was happy to hear about the humane process used in turning a cow into "beef."
One point that was perfectly clear throughout our day was the close relationship farmers have with their land, crops, and animals. The respect there is palpable. 

Here are some farming facts from Farmers Feed Cities:
  • 25% of all farms in Canada are located in Ontario
  • 1 Ontario farm feeds 120 people
  • 1 in 7 Ontario jobs is linked to the Agriculture or Agri-food industry
  • Farms contributed $11.9 billion to the provincial economy in 2011
  • Adult turkeys have more than 3,500 feathers
  • The average dairy cow produces 27 liters of milk a day, that’s 113 glasses! The average Canadian drinks about 92 liters of milk a year.
  • The average chicken lays 300 eggs a year
  • The average Canadian eats 14 dozen
  • There are over 40 breeds of sheep in Canada and they are raised for fleece and meat
  • Just like snow-flakes, no two cows have the same patterns!
  • Pigs are ranked as the 4th most intelligent animal in the world
  • Horses have big appetites! An average 1, 200 pound horse will eat seven times its body weight each year
  • Blueberries are the most common fruit grown in Canada, followed by apples

It is undeniably true that farmers do indeed feed cities. It is just really easy to forget this, and become very numbed to this fact when we pick up our carefully processed and packaged groceries. At this time of year when fresh, local produce is so easily available, I do try to pick up my fruits and vegetables at farmer's markets. Supporting local is important for our economy in general, as well as for the sustainability of our Ontario farms. But buying local also means buying fresher, since items haven't traveled such a long distance to get to our tables. I like that.

What about you? Have you found any great local markets near where you live? I'd love to hear about them! Or maybe you have your own farm, or even a kitchen garden? Tell me about where your food comes from :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

O Canada, Baby!

There's a pretty big event happening today - the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. And with the opening ceremonies comes another big launch - Pampers is releasing their final, 90 second, version of "O Canada, Baby" to help cheer on our Canadian athletes in their quest for gold.

Over the past four months, Pampers has asked parents across the country to send in video clips of their wee ones singing, gurgling, laughing, whatever, and they have worked these clips into a series of 15, 30, and 60 seconds videos of these babies singing our national anthem. You can check out the various versions at OCanadaBaby.com, if you haven't enjoyed them already.

I am happy to share with you this 90 second version, in all its glorious cuteness! I can't stop smiling :)

Let's Go Canada!!

Avent 3-in-1 Sterilizer Giveaway CAN #babyshower

Are you looking for an easy way to safely sterilize your wee one's bottles or soothers? This Avent 3-in-1 Sterilizer holds both wide and narrow necked bottles, adjusts size for different sterilizing needs, and completes the sterilization process in just 6 minutes, with an auto shut-off feature. Plus, it is of course BPA-free. You can see the full product specs here.

Avent has kindly offered this prize for our #BabyShower giveaway event. Entry for this prize is via the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest is open to Canadian residents only (excluding Quebec) and entries will be accepted until midnight EDT August 23.

Thank you once again to Kidsumers (www.kidsumers.ca) for organising this giveaway!
Good luck to all!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Florida Family Fun - Aquatica

Time for some more Orlando memories.  On our recent trip we visited SeaWorld's newest park, Aquatica.  This water park is located across the street from SeaWorld and they will honour your same-day parking pass so you need only pay once to park at both sites. We chose to do both parks in one day, but, looking back, I wish we had budgeted more time.

Aquatica has a lot more to offer than your average water park. Two wave pools, a huge beach area, numerous water slides, a lazy river, kids' pool, restaurants, shopping, animals, and more! We rented a locker and towels and started our visit at the wave pool and beach. Unfortunately, I foolishly left my camera in the locker, so I didn't get any pics of our adventures, but did take some as we left the park at closing time.
My guys were wiped out after our day at SeaWorld and Aquatica
The wave pool was a huge hit. Lots of lifeguards for safety. Big waves. Lots of free to use lifejackets for non-swimmers or anyone who feels like some carefree floating. There are lifejackets in all sizes conveniently available throughout the park actually. Again we split up for a while and the big guys did some pretty impressive water slides while Little Boo and I played in the kids' area.

A highlight was the Dolphin Plunge. In this ride you slide through one of two clear tubes, blasting underwater through a pool of playful Commerson Dolphins. "Awesome!" was the review of this one. Aquaticas's lazy river, Loggerhead Lane, was a more relaxed treat, and also offered a fabulous viewing of sea creatures. Part of the river runs under overhead aquaria teeming with tropical fish.

Little Boo's favourite was Roa's Rapids, and I support him in that. This is like a lazy river, but without the tube. The river is FAST and carries you along on an adventurous ride of twists and turns. Little ones must wear a lifejacket, and Mommy decided to try one for this ride as well. It was fun to float along and be bobbed on the waves. We missed our exit the first time around and "had to" go for a second cycle. It was a blast and required a return visit before we left!

I give Aquatica a huge thumbs up. It rates as the best waterpark we have ever visited and definitely should be on your itinerary for your next family trip to Orlando. You can visit their website to get full details, lots of video and images, and to plan your trip.

Disclosure: I wish to thank SeaWorld Orlando for providing media passes for my family's admission. All opinions on this blog remain my own and reflect my family's true experiences at the park

Mobi prize pack $145 value #babyshower event

Welcome to our big Baby Shower event!  A number of bloggers will be joining together to offer giveaways of baby items to our readers in Canada and/or the US over the next few weeks. I am pleased to be a part of this Canadian giveaway of nursery products from Mobi.

This $145 Prize Pack includes the following:
  • 2 AnimaLamps: award-winning no-heat rechargeable, adjustable LED lights  [1 Bunny, 1 Giraffe – one is for the nursery (late night changing/feeding) and one can be for Mom’s use anywhere else]
  • 1 WallMates: award-winning no heat color-changing plug-in night lights, safari characters. Auto on at dusk, auto off at dawn. 
  • 1 Pure Sounds Digital Audio Monitor
  • DualScan Dual Ear or Forehead Thermometer

I especially like the portable AnimaLamps. Because they don't heat up they are safe for anywhere and anyone, even wee little ones, to use. They are rechargeable and portable so you can bring them with you throughout the house, or even on a nighttime car ride.

The DualScan thermometer has a built-in LED flashlight to help you check temperatures without waking your patient.

Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be accepted until midnight EDT, August 23. Contest is open to Canadian residents only (excluding Quebec).

Thank you to Kidsumers (www.kidsumers.ca) for organising this giveaway! I'm hoping one of my Raising My Boys readers wins :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

WW - Feathered Friends

Saw this guy on campus the other day. He was fighting in air with a buddy over some small prey. 
He won.
Pretty cool hey?

A Couple of Kind Words Go A Long Way

I'm coming down with a head cold and not really feeling like myself. Kinda down. Definitely tired. Dragged out.

But yesterday a few things happened that really gave me a lift.

The lovely woman at the cafeteria cash at work complimented me on the colour of my top. Not only did she love the colour, but she said it looked good on me.

Then a colleague I haven't seen in a few weeks complimented me on my hair - she loved both my new curls and my colour. That was so sweet, especially since my colour is natural (though sun-kissed).

And, it wasn't just physical appearance things. A colleague in another department had requested a meeting to pick my brain, and she said some really nice things about the way I run the social media for my department. She complimented me on my authentic and consistent voice and the way I engage my audience there. That meant so much!

But this post is not about tooting my own horn. I mean it to be about how these fairly random kind words really turned my day around. Whether or not I believe the kind words or want you to, the fact is that receiving compliments and positive feedback means the world. Hearing these nice things cheered me up and made me feel like someone cared. These sweet words gave me a new perspective when I was feeling crappy and down.

Don't forget to share kind words with others. People generally aren't very good at seeing the best in themselves. Sometimes they just really need someone else to point it out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

What Do You Feel Like Tonight? #MoodieFoodie

How many times has your spouse looked at you and asked, "What do you feel like eating tonight?"  It's a common question for us on our drive home from work each day. Knowing that many people make menu decisions based on how they feel that day - mood, energy level, etc.- Sobey's has developed a helper app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. "MoodieFoodie" is a free app that helps you choose recipes based on your current mood. The video below is a quick introduction to the functionality:

The app is quite easy to use.You can browse or search through the moods to find what's right for you.. As you discover recipes that appeal to you, you can tag them as favourites in "My Matches" so they are quick to find next time.  You can also add new moods and recipes, but I haven't tested that function out yet - I'll let you know how that goes in a later post.

Poking through the app on Sunday, I saw "depressed" as one of the moods, and I thought I'd try that out since I was feeling a little down about the approaching end of the weekend. This mood included several comfort food type recipes, but with a twist. Like a Spinach Mac & Cheese or Bacon-wrapped Mini Meatloaf.  There are also a good selection of decadent desserts, like a S'Mores Cheesecake. Since we already had decided to BBQ a couple of strip steaks, I went looking for a comforting side and settled on Grilled Potato with Blue Cheese & Arugula.

This is a really simple recipe, with just 5 ingredients. Here it is from Sobey's Inspired magazine:

Serves 4
Prep Time 5 min.
Total Time: 20 min.

3 medium red potatoes
3 cupsfresh arugula750 mL
3 tbspSensations by Compliments Blue Cheese Dressing45 mL
1 tbspblue cheese such as Danish Blue or Roquefort, crumbled15 mL
1 tbspfresh Compliments Chives, finely chopped15 mL

1.Heat barbecue to high. Poke potatoes a few times with the tip of a knife and microwave on HIGH for 2 min. or until slightly softened. Slice into 1/2-in. (1 cm) rounds. Grill 5 min. on each side or until golden and crisp.
2.Arrange arugula in a shallow serving bowl. Top with potato slices. Add dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with blue cheese and chives.

Doesn't that look good?
This was an amazingly simple dish to prepare, went perfectly with our steak, and it was a big hit at our table. I think grilled potatoes with blue cheese turned out to be a great mood lifter.

Do you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch? Then head on over to the App store to download this free app and give it a try yourself.

Even if you don't own one of these devices, you can still find great recipes from Sobey's at inspired.ca. Plus, Sobey's is offering a $50 giftcard to one lucky Raising My Boys reader. Entry is via the rafflecopter widget below, until midnight EDT, July 30.  Best of luck!

Disclosure: I have received compensation to facilitate my reviews of this app and its recipes. The opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own. 

Minimize Monday - July 23

I was kind of forced into this particular purge, I will admit. Our refrigerator was leaking water all over the floor, and the guides for the crisper drawers were broken off.  It had to go.  
We also were the not-so-proud owners of a huge, ancient, power-guzzling chest freezer. I was done with that behemoth.

So last weekend we made the plunge, and I went out and finally bought a new fridge (bottom mount pull-out freezer!) and upright freezer. They were being delivered on Wednesday, so I dove in Monday night and started the big purge. 

It was a little scary.

Yes, that is an expiry date from 2008. I actually remember tossing these yogourt tubes in the freezer a couple of days before that expiry date. Instead of throwing them out I thought they'd make good frozen treats for the coming hot days.
Four years later I found them in behind a bunch of frozen crusts of bread.

I may have food hoarding issues.

Look at all that ice and freezer burn!

I know I could/should have gone through all of this properly and composted it. But I honestly didn't have the energy. It all went into the trash. 
I couldn't believe I had a full garbage bag of frost-bitten, questionable food items in our two freezers.  Although it is an easy situation to get into when you have a chest freezer where you can't even reach the bottom. Everything tends to build up and get lost.

But now we are starting fresh and the upright freezer in particular will be great - I can see everything that is in there, which means it won't be forgotten and go to waste. Plus, both appliances are hugely more energy efficient than the old ones. Better for the environment and our power bills.

Did you get rid of anything this week? Let me know in the comments how you lightened your load.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

TVO Kids - Apps for fun and education

A few weeks ago Little Boo and I were invited to the TVO Studios here in Toronto for the launch of two new educational games - Hop, Frog, Hop and Ribbit, Frog, Ribbit. These games can be played online at the TVO Kids website, and are also available as apps for the iPad, Playbook, and Android tablets. And they are free!

These two apps were developed in conjunction with researchers at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and are designed to improve working memory. Working memory is keeping information actively available in your head for short periods. It is critical to being able to follow instructions in class and plays a key role in all learning areas, especially in mathematics. So, clearly this is a good thing on which to improve.

Substantial studies go into the development of these and the other educational resources developed by TVOKids., and it was truly interesting to get some insights into how new educational apps come about. TVOKids and OISE have been working in partnership on these ventures since 2005.

Educational value aside, these new games are fun, with great looking graphics, and are challenging enough to even keep the big kids and adults entertained.  Essentially you are watching and memorizing patterns and then repeating them back. The difficulty of the games increases as you play, but if you reach a level too difficult for you, the game doesn't end - it sets you back to a slightly earlier level. This allows you to practice and develop the observation and memory skills required.

Here is a video from the day. You will see both Little Boo and I in this clip, talking about our experiences with the apps:

And of course, this is TVOKids we are talking about, so they had lots of fun ready for us during our visit.
While we were waiting for the presentation, Little Boo entertained himself with froggie colouring pages and drawing on the wall mural:

More importantly, and the biggest surprise - we got a studio tour and were able to meet Gisele in her Big Backyard and Dalmar in The Space.

I may have been just as excited to meet Gisele as my Little Boo was. We watched a lot of the The Big Backyard when he was wee. Both Gisele and Dalmar were super hosts on their sets, and the kids really enjoyed seeing the inner workings of a TV Studio. All in all, a great day!

You can play these games online at http://www.tvokids.com/games or download them for play on the go at http://www.tvokids.com/apps/. Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Buzz in My Cup

If you are at all squeamish or frightened by stinging insects, you might want to skip this post.
The other evening I was puttering around my garden, a little weeding here, a little trimming there. I decided to treat myself with a nice refreshing glass of my white wine sangria, left over from a recent get-together. 
(I know! Leftover wine! I'm sorry for disappointing you.)

I enjoyed my drink in between visits to the garden beds, leaving it on the patio while I worked.
And apparently some uninvited party guests happened along and decided to enjoy my drink as well.
Not five minutes was I away from that glass. I swear!
Day 1 (5ish minutes after stepping away from the glass)

And that is what I found on my return. Needless to say I had to snap a pic. Then, as I was about to toss it out, I thought, why not? Let's see how many more wasps (or bees or whatever they are) I can get with this glass. So I left it there. Let's call it my little science experiment on flying insect behaviour.

Day 2 - Hey! We got a moth.

Day 3 - see all the dead ones at the bottom?
This has officially now gotten too gross for me, so the experiment has to end. I do find it fascinating that the scent of death means nothing to these little critters.The temptation of the sweet, sweet wine and fruit is simply too much for them to resist.

At least there's a few fewer stinging nasties in our yard now.

Truth Hurts (Or Cracks You Up)

I made a flippant comment about "my first 39th birthday." Little Boo scoffed and replied, "You can only have one 39th birthday, Mommy. Then it's 40th."

I explained that big grown-up mommies often have lots of 39th birthdays because they don't want to get any older.

"But they still get older, Mommy! You can't stop that. Silly mommies."

He just doesn't get it, does he?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Fun with Li'L Ones Yogurt #Giveaway

When Little Boo was very wee, Li'L Ones was our yogourt of choice. He really enjoyed the flavours, and I really enjoyed the portion size and the health benefits of the DHA - an Omega-3 fatty acithat is critical for proper development of the brain, eyes and nerves. Did you know, Li'L Ones is actually the first yogourt in Canada to have been developed specifically for toddlers?

I appreciated that this yogourt is sweetened with fruit juice and has no artificial colours or flavours, plus it is made with real fruit puree and whole milk. There is lots of goodness in Li'L Ones to provide a healthy start to  your toddler's day, or a quick snack after a fun morning of play. With summer here and lots of fun outings to enjoy, portable snacks like Li'L ones (transported in a cooler pack of course) can be a great part of your routine.

Here are some tips from Li'L Ones on introducing yogourt to your toddler:

  • Look for yogurts that are naturally sweetened with fruit juice – Li’L Ones® yogurt is a great choice. It is specifically formulated to provide a wholesome, healthy, nutrient-rich snack children love. It is a source of calcium and vitamin D, with no added sugar or fructose.
  • Generally, it is best when introducing yogurt to your toddler to opt for familiar flavours like vanilla, banana or apple.
  • When looking for healthy yogurt options, try to find a yogurt that contains DHA. Most children’s diets lack sufficient quantities of DHA, which is required for optimal brain and eye development. Pediatricians recommend buying products with DHA to supplement a toddler’s diet. Health Canada has also acknowledged the physiological functions of DHA and has approved DHA-enhanced dairy products for food use in Canada.

You can find out more about Li'L Ones on their Facebook page, or get full nutritional information here.

The Giveaway

Li'L Ones is providing this prize pack (valued at $150) to help you and your wee ones enjoy a summer of adventure and learning. The prize includes the following:

Philips AVENT Toddler Bowl Set
Philips AVENT Toddler Weaning Spoons
- Tommee Tippee Explora Truly Spill Proof 11oz Sippy Cup (2-Pack)
- Little Tikes Junior Explorer Wagon
Little Tkes Campin' Adventures Campsite
Are You a Cow? by Sandra Boynton
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Full value coupon for Li’l Ones yogurt

The bowls are really cute and decorated with numbered groups of carrots to help teach counting skills. And the Jr. Explorer Wagon will for sure come in handy on any outings when those little feet start to tire out! Plus, who can resist Sandra Boynton? The winner of this prize will be able to end their long, playful day with a reading of one of my favourite bedtime stories - The Going to Bed Book.

You can enter this contest via the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest is open to Canadian residents only (except Quebec). Entries will be accepted until midnight EDT, August 3.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Joys of Living With Boys #219

I was fixing my face in the next room while Little Boo was (supposedly) getting himself dressed. Did I hear getting dressed sounds? Oh never. Those were bouncing on the bed sounds. But we had time so I decided to cut him some slack and let him have his fun.

And then there were singing sounds.

"Oooh. Oooh. Oooh.
I'm bouncing on my bed.
Oooh. Oooh. Oooh.
I'm not wearing pants!"

And there he was. Nekkid from the waist down, bouncing up and down and watching himself in the mirror.


It only gets worse from here, right?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Odd Life Timothy Green - Advanced Screenings Coming Soon #Disney #Giveaway

Last week I introduced you to this upcoming feature film from Disney. It releases in theatres August 15, and it looks like a really sweet story. Here is another trailer for you to get the feel of the movie:

Disney is hosting a number of advance screenings in major centres across Canada. The GTA will host two:

Thursday, August 9th
7:30 PM
Coliseum Mississauga

Richmond Hill
Thursday, August 9th
7:30 PM
SilverCity Richmond Hill

And I am happy to report that I have 1 Family Pass (4 tickets) to give away for each of these screenings! Sadly, I will be away on vacation (again) for those screening dates, so I won't be able to connect in person with the winners. But I hope to get a quick report back! I'll be heading to this one after it goes into wide release on August 15.

This contest is open to Canadian residents who will be available to attend one of these screenings at the time/date/place described above. Entries accepted until 12:00midnite EDT, Aug 3.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

WW - Fireworks

Fourth of July fireworks at Disneyworld 2012

Frankenweenie Trailer

This is one Hubs is really excited for - Tim Burton's new film with Disney - Frankenweenie.

From the press release:
"From creative genius Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” The Nightmare Before Christmas”) comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous. 

A stop-motion animated film, “Frankenweenie” was filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D. The talented voice cast includes: Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell and Winona Ryder."

Tim Burton's movies are always quirky and creative. I think the fact that this is presented in black & white, in the spirit of classic horror films, adds a fun touch.

Frankenweenie hits theatres on October 5. See you there!

Summer Safety Tips for Our Precious Pets

hot Pictures, Images and Photos
Our rental car had been parked in the lot for about 6 hours. I think the temperature was approaching 40 degrees that day. When we returned and opened our doors, the sensation was exactly like opening an oven. Heat poured out at us and almost physically drove us backwards.

The parking receipt had turned a deep, toasted brown on the dash.

Your car on a hot day, even in the shade can heat up far worse than a sauna. I kind of think of it as a metal room with a whole bunch of glass ready to amplify the sun's effects.

And yet, there are still people who leave pets (or even young children) locked inside cars while they go about their business.

If you are in the Toronto area, you may remember last month the dog rescued from a locked car in a supermarket parking lot who then ran on to a highway. Toronto police reported they had responded to 152 calls about animals locked in cars that week. Temperatures were in the mid-30s.

The Ottawa Humane Society last week issued a warning, reminding pet owners of the dangers of leaving pets unattended in parked cars during even mild weather. The OHS has responded to 117 heat-related calls so far this year. Three owners have been charged for leaving animals in vehicles.

What is up with this?? Please remember that it's not safe to leave your pet unattended in a vehicle (or chained up outside without water!). And if you see an animal in a locked car, please alert the police or store management, or someone who can help. You could save a four-legged life.

There are many other steps we can take to keep our pets healthy and happy during the hot months of summer. If we aren't comfortable in the heat and humidity, just think how our friends in their fur coats feel. Iams has a deep interest in the health and welfare of our animals, and they provide the following safety tips:
  • Do not leave a pet alone in a car in warm weather - While you may love bringing your pet to the grocery store or shopping mall, please remember to never leave a pet alone in a vehicle in this summer heat. A car acts like an oven; temperatures can reach over 49 °C and will cause your pet to suffer from heat exhaustion or even stroke. Simply cracking a window will not cut it! 
  • Sun in small doses - Hot weather can cause lots of problems for dogs and cats, especially the ones with the thick furry coats as they retain the heat. Remember to treat your pet as you like to be treated, if you can’t stand to be in the sun for long, neither can your pet. 
  • Prevent overheating and keep cool - Air conditioning is the best way to help your pets stay cool in this warm weather. If you don’t have air conditioning, try placing fans in places where your dog likes to sleep. A fan will help to circulate the air inside your home and prevent your pet from over heating 
  • Be a pro with the H20! - Be sure to keep your pet hydrated! Simply keep their dish filled with fresh cool water. Try using ice cubes during the hottest part of the day, this will keep the water extra cool and they may even like the crunch. 
  • Splish, splash cool off with a bath - While you are enjoying a day by the pool or relaxing in the garden soaking up the rays, fill up a kiddie pool with water for your dog to get in and splash around, wet your pup down with a garden hose or place a cool wet towel on your dog for evaporative cooling 
  • All paws on deck - Did you know that pet’s paws react the same way to scorching hot pavement as our bare feet? When taking your dog for a long walk on a hot day, remember that if the pavement is too hot for you, it is probably too hot for your dog’s paws. Try walking in the park or ravine where the ground is grassy and bring along water to make frequent stops. It’s important to not take long walks or over-exert in the summer! 
  • Exercise with caution - Senior and overweight pets are more at risk to suffer from the heat, so be sure to take additional precautions when taking older and overweight dogs for walks. While exercise is still important in the heat, be patient and walk slower! 
And remember that our pretty kitties need extra care
in the heat as well.
Always keep cool, fresh water available, indoors and out.
You can find lots more Pet Health information at Iams.ca

Stay safe, stay aware!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Minimize Monday - July 16

I think my horoscope yesterday was really appropriate to this:

You've got to settle down and decide on what has to go -- there's too much stuff, too many people or maybe even too many thoughts crowding your mental space. Trim the fat and move on.

There's truth there on many levels, but I am just focused on the "stuff" for now.

This weekend I gathered up some old pots that have been littering my deck after planting.
These will go to a neighbour who cultivates plants for an annual sale. He loves to receive old pots that he can re-use. So much better than sending these to landfill. Some garden centres also will collect these for recycling.

I also has a look through Little Boo's dresser, after his latest growth spurt. The boxes are for Once Upon a Child. Right now they are buying fall/winter, so that box goes tonight. The spring/summer stuff will be stored til they start buying that in the fall.The second picture is some clothes and a bedspread for the Salvation Army.

I feel like all I do is get rid of clothes, but with a growing boy, I guess that just makes sense :)

What about you? Did you get rid of any excess baggage this week? Leave a comment and let me know.


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