07 Apr

What is Beauty?

There are a few women in my life that really express the true meaning of beauty. Some I know very well, my grandmother for one, is an incredibly beautiful woman. She is strong, she is wise and despite a full life with kids, grandkids and great-grandkids, she has very few wrinkles to show for it all. She is stunning in so many ways. I often call her Yoda; she knows things, lots of things. She has more wisdom than any individual I know. (I hope I have her genes.)

IMG_0465

Then of course there is my own mother. My mom’s motto is patience, kindness and love, always. She shows love to everyone who comes her way throughout the day. Her selflessness is beyond measure and I am incredibly thankful for having her in my daily life. She is a neverending mother. While she has finished her full time gig as a mom to my brother and I, she has taken her role as grandmother very seriously; she takes care of both my kids’ full time while my husband and I go to work. She is an inspiration, she is a role model, she is truly beautiful on the inside and out. My mother is love.

It’s hard to believe there is anyone in my life more beautiful and than these two women, but there are in fact two more. My own girls. These two girls have more of an impact on my life than any other individuals. These two girls are beautiful because they challenge me to be a better person, have more patience and practice the true meaning of unconditional love – everyday. These two girls are beautiful because they are themselves. Their youth and innocence allows them to simply be who they are. There is no pressure (yet) to be the prettiest girl in class, there is no influence to be the thinnest, they are free to be young girls, and be as happy (and dramatic) as they please. Everything about them is genuine and that is true beauty.

IMG_0418Being the mother of girls has also made me look at what is beautiful about myself. As a woman, it’s naturally easy to be hard on myself, but I have to be a strong, confident women for the betterment of my own girls. While outward beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s the insides that make the difference. I do work on some outward superficial beauty, however I am working even harder on my inside beauty. Love, patience, kindness, guidance and time are what my girls need the most and will make me beautiful to my own girls and that is more important than any hairdo, waistline or new outfit.

I want to be beautiful to my girls, just like my mother is beautiful to me, and her mother is beautiful to her.

 

The Dove Mission is to invite all women to realize their potential for beauty by engaging them with products that deliver Superior Care. Dove believes that beauty should be for everyone because looking and feeling your best makes you feel happier. For more information visit www.dove.ca

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Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Unilever Canada via Glam Media Canada. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Unilever Canada.

16 Mar

Financial Challenge Update

Last month, I participated in a financial challenge.   A few months ago, I did an audit of our grocery expenses and I realized we are very reckless spenders when it comes to food, so the Gail Vaz-Oxlade financial challenge was exceptional timing.

The beginning of the month started out incredible.  I had a blue piece of construction paper and every night I was excited to update my “spreadsheet”.    In the first two weeks of February, we spend $200 each week, I was thrilled.  This challenge was a slice.  Then something unexpected happened… my blue paper went mysteriously missing.  For 14 days, that blue piece of paper was in the same place on the counter, and every night it was updated, then it was G-O-N-E.  I quizzed the family members in my home but no one owned up to it.  I guess just like unexplained “smells” I’ll blame the dog…

I tried to start a new page, but it just wasn’t the same.   I continued watching my spending, I brought my lunch to work and stretched left overs as far as they go.  Hubby and I even went out for Valentine’s Dinner, but rather than spending our own money, we used a gift card we had received over a year ago.  But truth be told, I lost track of what we were spending, I had to wait until the credit card arrived to get the grand total… hence the lateness of this post.

Food Purchases

In the month of February, we spent $1042 on food (from what I could calculate).  Gail says that it’s best to use cash, and I do have to agree she’s right.  Once the cash is gone, it’s gone; with my credit card, I can spend and spend and spend and it’s easy to lose track (especially when you stop writing it down on that blue construction paper).  Within the first two weeks we were on track to spend $800 on food for the month of February, so I’m still going to say $1042 is a win for us.  A few months earlier, the bill was closer to $1500.

So, what would Gail say? Well, if I was on the show till Dept do us Part, I don’t think we would get the full $5000.  Most likely we would get closer to 1/2 the payout (I blame the dog).  But it was a great challenge and experience.  I am going to continue stretching our grocery budget and really take care spending.  I will also bring out the blue construction paper once again.  Writing things down most definitely helped with accountability.

** DISCLOSURE: I AM A P&GMOM/MAMANP&G. 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 ARE MY OWN.

PS. If you’re looking for ways to cut on your monthly expenses, make sure to use up gift card balances and use coupons – but only on items you would purchase anyway.  For example, this month alone there will be over $70 in savings on the brand saver website, so take a peek and print off the coupons on items you need to buy anyway.

12 Feb

Say No to Diets

When I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait to raise a perfect gentlemen.  A few months into my pregnancy, I was shocked to learn I was actually having a girl.  My heart quickly made it’s way into my throat as I saw the life I had ahead of raising a girl.  I remember my husband saying very firmly “Raising a girl brings on a whole new set of worries.”  Boy, was he right.

Here we are 5 years later and not only do we have 1 girl to worry about, but we have 2.  I am on Mom super alert when it comes to the girls.  I want them to have confidence, values, know right from wrong, be able to stand up for themselves and above all know their true beauty and worth.  We all know it’s easy to preach to people, it’s the practicing part that’s difficult.  As a woman, I am the biggest role model for my girls and I know they are watching my every move and listening to my every word.  I am proud to say the girls have never muttered a single swear word.

Diet OathSelf image is on every girls radar, including mine.  Here are some shocking stats

  • 3 in 5 women have been on a diet
  • 52% of girls get their information about dieting and nutrition from family members
  • 1 in 5 girls under 18 is currently dieting

The most disturbing part is this was a study on girls aged 10 – 17.

Five years ago when I nursed my first born, I dropped baby weight instantly without even thinking about it.  Unfortunately for me, five years later when I was nursing for the second time, history didn’t repeat itself as well, things were looking up, and then …. I hung onto each and every pound and at some points, may have even found a few extra to carry around (cause you know, a new baby isn’t enough to drag around).  When it was time to go back to work, I knew I had to do something and thanks to my lovely readers, I found a new way to live my life diet free, but still shed a few pounds.  It came in the form of My Fitness Pal.

This tool has truly changed the way I live, it’s a new life and I know it works.  I’m not on a diet and I will not diet again because I am now in control of my weight with a little help from my Pal.  It actually feels liberating.  So far, I’m 14 pounds healthier.   I speak to the girls about making healthy choices and eating some other not so healthy things in moderation.  It’s a lesson for them as well.

I am pledging to say no diets, but to live a healthy life and be a role model to my girls by taking care of myself in all ways possible, physically, spirituality, emotionally and mentally because I know as their mother, I will have the biggest impact on their lives and who they become as young women.

I want them to have enough self esteem to be able to say “no”.

I want them to know that beauty is only skin deep.

I want them to know they ARE beautiful.

I want them to know they are loved.

I want them to know they are special.

As their Mom, I am the one that has to ensure I’m giving them all the tools they need to get there.  And as their Mom, I also have to believe all these things about myself, the good news is… I do.

Saying Oath

Take the pledge to Say No to Diets, but to live a healthier lifestyle and be a role model for our kids.

Giveaway:

  • 1 lucky Canadian Reader is going to win a $100 Loblaws/Superstore Gift Card

To Enter:

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**Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but is truly important for the future of our kids.  My Fitness Pal is truly awesome, if you haven’t tried it yet, please do, it has changed the way I live my life in a good way.  I am not on a diet, I’ve made a lifestyle change and it’s awesome.

03 Feb

Financial Challenge

A few months ago, I took a very close look at our spending habits. As a family of 4 (well, 5 including my Mom) I expected that we would have some high bills. Of course we have housing, cars, insurance, and food, but I could have never expected our groceries and restaurant purchases to be as high as they were. It was shocking. Almost $1500 a month to feed our family and one family member pretty much only ate breast milk so she was cheap enough.

I decided it was time to make a change, a big change. I personally took it upon myself to stop eating out as much to cut down on that one big bill. But it’s really hard to be accountable to yourself isn’t it? There’s always an excuse that can be made. Welcome Gail Vaz-Oxlade. She’s the memorable Slice Personality from the show Till Dept do us Part – I think I’ve watched every single episode.

gail

 

While I have cut down on our food bills (as well as sent a friendly reminder to hubster …. more like nagging reminder), I think we can still do better. Just like Gail says we should start writing things down as the spending happens. She also suggests using cash rather than credit, but I have to admit, I love getting points when I use my cards. When I spend cash, I’m not getting any bonus in my pocket, however I do understand that with cash, once it’s gone, it’s gone. With credit, there’s no limit. I’m hoping by writing things down it will keep us accountable. I’ll let you know how it works out.

So, join me this month in a financial challenge. Here are the weekly themes:

Week one: Cash, Cash, Cash
Week two: Food
Week three: Family
Week four: Clothing

You can also join Gail for a Twitter Party to learn more about your money and saving, here are the details:

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2013

Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST

Hosts: @Chatelaine and @GailVazOxlade

Hashtag: #SavingMadeSimple

Hope to see you there.

** Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom/mamanP&G. 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 are my own.

02 Feb

You Couldn’t Be “Kinder”

We’re just two weeks away from Valentine’s Day, which seems nearly impossible.  In our home, we’re still celebrating Christmas, we even made gingerbread cookies today – not kidding.  Here are the finished products, and they were absolutely scrumptious.

Gingerbread men

As much as we don’t want to put Christmas away, it is time to start looking at the next exciting holiday, and yes, it’s Valentine’s Day.  I personally love Valentine’s Day, despite it’s commercialism, specifically because it’s centered around Chocolate, and well I do like shiny things too (if you’re reading this hubster… no pressure).  But enough about what I want for Valentine’s Day, these holidays are exciting for the kids too.

As a Kinder Mom, I receive a few packages of these chocolate treats a few times a year.  Hubster and I enjoy the creamy milk and white chocolate just as much as the kids do.  But, we also like to share the love, and with a few extra eggs laying around, I thought it would a good little gift to give to the kids for Valentine’s Day.  I wanted something my 5 year old daughter could put together for her friends and was also hoping to use the play on words for “Kinder”…. Kinder, get it?  So, out came the construction paper, glue, tape and heart jewel stickers and then I had to come up with a little verse.  The only thing I could think of is “You Couldn’t be Kinder”.  I printed off this little phrase, cut them out, glued them onto the heart and along the sides there’s room to include “To” and “From”.  These little Kinder Valentine’s were simple to make and  I’m sure the kids receiving these treats will be very “egg-cited” as well.

 

You couldn't be kinder

 

There’s another bonus with Kinder’s right now too called “Crack’n Win”.  Each paper leaflet has a special PIN code that could lead to even bigger prizes (there’s $2.4 Million in prizes to be won).  To see if you’re a winner, visit the Kinder Facebook page and Check Your Pin – it’s as simple as that!  Trips to Orlando, a Fiat, movie tickets and free Kinders will be given away.

 Kinder Code

As for myself and Valentine’s Day, truth be told, I don’t really want much of anything, maybe just a relaxing tub with bubbles for 20 minutes by myself with no kids kicking at the door or screaming from the other room … a pair of diamond earrings seems much more realistic however.

“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.”

29 Jan

Must Haves for Baby by a Second Time Mom

Nearly 2 years ago, I started getting rid of all my baby stuff, it was a hard and sad time, but I was ready to accept I was going to be a mother to an only child.  Just a few short weeks later, I found out I was pregnant.  I was pleasantly shocked.

With most of my stuff given away or donated to local charities, I found myself nearly back to square one – I had nothing for the baby that was about to arrive.  However, fate had another plan for me. I was on my way to being a Fisher Price Mom, the only one with a baby and they were going to help me out.

Selecting products for a baby the second time around is completely different than picking out things the first time.  As a first time Mom, I didn’t know what I truly needed, just what I thought I needed and wanted.  I saw products other parents had or saw commercials and thought I needed them, it turns out there was no need for a stand alone bassinet among many other unused “must have” baby products.

As a second time Mom, here are the things I would suggest for a new parent:

  • Space Saver highchair1Bouncy chair, we had the My Little Snugabunny Deluxe Bouncer. It’s great for baby to sit “upright” and be comfy while you cook, clean and maybe grab a tub.
  • Playpen / bassinet combo.  The bassinet is good to use until the baby can sit up and the playpen is good to keep kids from escaping when they learn to crawl and walk (wonder if I can stick my 5 year old in there?)  It’s also great for travelling.
  • Highchair.  A highchair is a must have.  Last time around I had a ginormous one, this time, I went for the simple Space Saver Highchair.  It takes up less room in the house and fits at the dinner table.  So smart.
  • Baby Bath tub.   Baby tubs make bathing your infants much easier than trying to keep little ones above water in a big tub.  When we went on vacation and didn’t have a tub, we just put the baby in the sink.  But, it’s much easier with a proper baby tub.
  • Stroller and Car Seat.  This goes without saying.  I liked using an infant carrier car seat that attaches to a stroller, it makes transport so much easier, especially when baby is always falling asleep while on the go.  I’m not complaining.
  • Nursing Pillow if you plan on nursing.  With both girls, a nursing pillow helped both of us get in the right position.  If you don’t plan on nursing, you can cross this off your list.

Those are the must have items.  Both of my girls used these essentials regularly and they made my life easier.

Here are a few things I recommend, but aren’t necessarily must haves:

Jumperoo

  • Swing (you’re shocked, right?) While I would have died without the swing for my first born, the second baby didn’t care for it as much.  But if you’re looking for one, The Fisher Price Rain forest is a great place to start.
  • Jumper (shocked again, I know….) Once again, my oldest could have jumped the feet right out of her sleeper, the baby on the other hand, meh.  My oldest was in love with the Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo
  • Baby Carrier.  A baby carrier made my life easier a lot of the time, but it can get hard on the back.  I liked the convenience of having free hands.  Both kids liked it.  It’s not an absolute must have, but close.
  • Crib, ok, well you are most likely going to need a crib, but just be prepared to not have your baby actually sleep in it, but it does make a room look pretty and eventually you can use the crib mattress for a toddler bed.

and… that’s my list.  The rest of the things, tummy time mats, soothers (little music things that connect to the side of the cribs that the babies aren’t using), mobiles, “walkers” aren’t a necessity, but can make the first year of your babies life (and yours) easier sometimes.  And of course, there are toys (like the Crawl Around Car – highly recommend), but these things aren’t a requirement either, they are just plain fun.

I’m so thrilled that I get to be a Mom for a second time, it’s a completely different experience.  Maybe it’s because my children are so different, but I’m sure it also has to do with my experience in knowing what works, or more specifically, what doesn’t work.

*DISCLOSURE:  I AM A FISHER-PRICE MOM AND I RECEIVE SPECIAL PERKS AS PART OF MY AFFILIATION WITH THIS GROUP. THE OPINIONS ON THIS BLOG ARE MY OWN.

28 Jan

Over Budget

At the time, it felt like it took an eternity to get pregnant.  In reality, it was only 4 years, 4 months and a few days and yes, I was actually counting.  On December 30th, 2007 when I peed on that stick for the 2000th time, I was in shock, so I pulled out another stick and sure enough the 2001st stick was positive as well.  Hubster and I were thrilled, we were finally going to be parents.

While the thrill never left, reality started setting in… we will most likely have to move into our car because kids are expensive.  “They” say one kid alone can cost parents can cost $250 000 – we didn’t have that kind of money.   But we did need to prepare for the bundle of joy that was about to change our lives forever and make us broke.  So, we hit the thrift shops in store and online. If we could buy it second hand, we most certainly did, bassinet, crib, playpen, swing, stroller, clothing….  Baby items don’t generally get overly used, so we thought it was ok to save a few dollars, but quality was also important.

The best money we spent, was on the Fisher Price Ocean Wonder Swing.  We were quickly slapped in the face with the reality of a baby, there was a lot of crying in our home (and it wasn’t just the new baby, I was a basket case too).  One of the only time she would settle was when she was rocking from side to side, as high and fast as those pirate ships at the fair, I was nearly motion sick just watching her.   But she loved it and it gave me a bit of peace and quiet, so I loved it too – I just couldn’t watch her too closely or I would barf.  We eventually bought a second swing so we could have peace and quiet on the main floor and the second floor.

Swing

Once she out grew the Ocean Wonders swings, and we had to eventually get her into the crib we purchased from another parent who’s child had never spent a night in the crib, we decided it was time to pass on these amazing baby hypnotizers to other sleep deprived parents.   One swing eventually made it back home to sooth the new baby while the other is still making rounds creating happy home after happy home.

Buying second hand is a great way to keep yourself from going over budget, just make sure you are buying good quality items with a name you can trust.  I would have not survived my first year as a parent without the Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Swing x 2 and I think each one only cost about $50 it was money well spent for all our sanity.

It’s no wonder she loves those swaying pirate ship rides today, it’s a small price to pay.

“DISCLOSURE: I RECEIVE SPECIAL PERKS AS A PART OF MY AFFILIATION WITH THE FISHERPRICE PLAY AMBASSADOR PROGRAM WITH MOM CENTRAL CANADA. THE OPINIONS IN THIS BLOG ARE MY OWN.”