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Simple Ways to Transform Your Bathroom from Blah to Beautiful

LIVE, rest, wash By March 7, 2016 Tags: , , , 1 Comment

I know I’m not the only mom who dreams of long soaks in a beautiful spa shower or of spending a quiet evening reading a great book in a whirlpool bath. Of course, when you have young children like I do, the reality is bathroom time is (at best) fast and functional. All the more reason to create a space that is inviting, and maybe even inspiring. Whether you’re in desperate need of more storage, hope to streamline your space, or you’ve simply grown tired of the decor you currently have, you can completely transform your bathroom next weekend.


Staying Home is the New Date Night

GEAR, LIVE, play, rest, tech By February 14, 2016 Tags: 2 Comments

This year with Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday it means no sleeping in the next morning.  Kids need to be woken for school, lunches packed, homework double checked and everyone out the door on time.  Just the thought of going out for a romantic dinner and maybe dancing or a movie and having to get up early the next morning makes me cringe.  Its hard enough to get everyone going on a Monday when I have had a good night’s sleep!  So this Valentine’s Day we will be having a Netflix Date.


Arash Gets a Day Off

LIVE, rest By April 21, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

BMODayOffNot sure about you, but as a small business owner, I get very few days off (and as a Mom, asking for help has been a lesson I haven’t quite mastered!). It’s strange that despite how hard I work in business, I tend to freeze up when my bank telephones. Am I overdrawn? What is wrong? Apparently I must be banking in the wrong place because when I watched this video I started tearing up and started craving a Montreal smoked meat sandwich!

Sheila BMO ArashA herd of caring Bank of Montreal bankers – branch managers, tellers and assistants – proved that they are truly there to help a hard-working client. Sheila, the Assistant Branch Manager, knew that Arash hadn’t had a day off from his deli since he started the business, and genuinely connected with his kindness and diligence. Sheila and her BMO team surprised Arash at his deli and send him to a local hotel for some coveted rest and relaxation while the bankers staffed the popular lunch spot.

Arash gets a day offI melted and tingled when I saw the video. The internet definitely needs more of this! His real tears and appreciation were contagious, and not only was he shocked, but the BMO staff were authentically thrilled to be there helping him out.

Serving over 400 sandwiches also created the best single day Arash had ever had in his business. Sometimes accepting a bit of help and taking some time away is a very good thing. (PS. Moms are you listening?)

To ensure that the help that BMO provided lasted beyond just one day, the bank also provided Arash with a small business banker to support him with business planning and solutions, as well as shock-absorbent mats to outfit his workplace.

To join the “Arash’s Day Off” conversation on Twitter, follow the hashtags #HelpGiven or #BMOdayoff.

Disclosure: This post was proudly sponsored by BMO. As always, the opinions shared here are mine, all mine. And pay if forward stories like this? I’m always happy to share. 


Coasting on the Science Stream

grow, LIVE, rest By April 1, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Science StreamIt’s that time of year when cherry blossoms pop out and science fair projects are top-of-mind. You might be travelling for March Break and getting questions about volcanic sand or downloading the latest star-gazing app to search for Orion’s belt. (My husband insists that Orion’s jock strap is also part of the constellation, so I’ve taken to handling the kids’ science education myself).

I’ve always believed that education should happen through entertainment. Setting aside time to ‘study’ science isn’t nearly as fun as incorporating a few lessons into daily activities like baking monkey bread or using vinegar and lemons to scrub the bathtub.

Coasting on the Science StreamHere is our recipe for non-Newtonian fluid (otherwise know as Magic Mud) and a fun oozing Volcano. But life is busy, and not everyone can go outside with their kids dressed in PJ’s to do messy science experiments.

This month we’ve been coasting on the science stream with a bit of help from Netflix. (See what I did there? Steam..Ha!) Education is not only about entertainment, but balance, and once you’ve done the hands-on activities, handing your kids a tablet with an equally entertaining educational show can solidify concepts and give you a bit of a break.

In our household we are Netflix fanatics, and I’m not even sure why we have cable. This month I was able to tear myself away from Covert Affairs and House of Cards to stream a few science shows with my boys. In school one is learning about states of matter and the other has been studying astronomy. So I pretty much feel like a rockstar mom for letting them stream Cosmos and Deadliest Volcanoes: Nova from the sofa.

Big Kids Science Shows Netflix

Streaming Science for Little Kids:

1. The Magic School Bus Gains Weight
2. Fetch! with Ruff
3. Animal Mechanicals, Balloon Volcano Island
4. Sid the Science Kid

Streaming Science for Big Kids:
Little Kids Science Shows Netflix

1. Nova: Hunting the Elements
2. Cosmos
3. Deadliest Volcanoes: Nova
4. Let Your Mind Wonder

So whenever you need a wee break from teaching your kids about science, Netflix is a great supplement while you clean up the volcano lava and magic mud. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and as always all opinions and anecdotes are my own.


10 Secret RESP Budget Tips

FAM, LIVE, rest, self By September 25, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

July marked my tenth wedding anniversary this year.  All of our family members wanted to send a gift.  Do you know what we picked?  RESP contributions to our sons’ education funds.  Saving is hard.  Especially with groceries costing a fortune, kids wanting to enroll in activities and the odd shoe sale that gets our heart racing and credit card exercised.  While we all earn different incomes, have varying levels of expenses and manage finances differently, UrbanMommies has a few money-saving tips that will help you save sheckles (my Grandmother called them that) for the RESPs.


Balancing Technology Use as a Parent

LIVE, rest By September 9, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

As a writer for the Tech Timeout Challenge by life insurance provider Foresters, I made a huge commitment as summer began.  I set off to up the ante and do a full week without technology with the whole family.  Over the summer, how hard could it be?  It was hard.  And I am embarrassed to say that we did not succeed.  We lasted 3 days.  But in the process we did accomplish the original intent of the program.  We sat as a family for a minimum of an hour a day for the whole summer, talking, playing board games and playing in the sand.  The art of balancing technology use as a parent proved far more challenging than I expected. 


My Summer Tech Timeout

LIVE, rest By June 18, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , 4 Comments

“Beep.  Ding! Ring!!”  Twitter is chirping, the kids just finished a dance-off with the Wii and my facebook feed is buzzing on the Blackberry. As summer approaches, Canadians have a growing social concern about the impact that digital devices and technology are having on family togetherness. Remember those long cottage days as kids when we spent hours playing Battleship, catching fireflies and beating the parents at Monopoly? (I think they let me).

what to put in your emergency kit

What to Put in your Home Emergency Kit

LIVE, rest By July 17, 2012 Tags: , , , , 4 Comments

Now’s a great time to get organized, and one thing that should never be put off is the creation of your home emergency kit.  You and your kids can use the opportunity to plan escape routes, compile vital information and pull out the globe to talk about parts of the world that are currently experiencing natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, drought and fire.  You could even use the opportunity to practice charitable giving by sorting out piggy bank funds and making a donation to a group who is currently in need.  After your kit is assembled, make sure everyone in the family knows where it is located and every time you take something out, be sure to put it back.

1.  Large waterproof box to store these supplies
2.  First aid kit: at least two pairs of latex gloves, sterile gauze pads, scissors, tweezers, adhesive bandages, pain relievers, cold medications, antiseptic cream, alcohol wipes, cleansing agent, burn ointment, thermometer, eye wash, prescription medication (if anyone in the family uses one daily with dosage information), allergy medication, and a first aid manual.
3.  Swiss army knife
4.  Gas-powered camp stove
5. Sanitizing Hand wipes
6.  Paper towels
7.  Simple puzzles/card games
8.  Non perishable food: granola bars, canned juices, soup, bottled water, peanut butter, crackers – most experts recommend enough for the whole family for 3 days but we upped it to a week to be on the safe side.
9.  Plates, utensils, other feeding supplies (pots)
10.  Heavy work gloves
11.  Self-powered flashlights with extra batteries
12. Self-powered radio
13.  Maps
14.  Paper, pen, permanent marker
15.  Emergency blanket or sleeping bag
16.  Large heavy duty plastic bag
17.  Personal hygiene items: toilet paper, feminine supplies, oral care
18.  Extra keys to house and vehicle
19.  Duct tape, plastic sheet, tools, bungee cords, rope
20.  Old prescription glasses
21.  Rain poncho
22.  Copy of important documents and phone numbers
23.  Whistle, dust mask
24.  Emergency cash
25.  Loveys or comfort objects for the kids
26.  Mace
27.  Candles and waterproof matches
28. Insect Repellant
29.  Suntan Lotion
30.  Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
31.  Solar cell phone charger
32.  Manual can-opener


Beat the Heat

LIVE, rest By June 5, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Severe heat can inhibit the safety of babies and children.  With global temperatures on a slow march upwards, heat waves such as this are unfortunately likely to become more frequent than their previous once-in-a-lifetime occurence. Some people adore the heat, but babies and children as well as pets and elderly relatives are vulnerable to heat strokes, dehydration and other serious heat-related ailments. Here are some tips on surviving the heat.

too much information

Why you shouldn’t share too much personal information online

LIVE, rest By April 1, 2012 Tags: , , , , , 5 Comments

I don’t usually write rants.  So brace yourselves.  Last week we saw Alicia Silverstone mushing up food in her own mouth and feeding her child with a bird-like mouth-to-mouth technique on Youtube (link below).  Today as I scanned Facebook, Babble asked it’s fans when their menstrual cycles returned after their children were born.  (And the question received 150 comments and 41 likes within 4 hours.)  Seriously?  Is this a productive way to spend our time, bare our souls and reflect positively on the art of Motherhood?  I think not.

I was introduced to a website recently called STFU, Parents. (You can guess the acronym).  With categories such as ‘Spoiled Brats’, ‘Mommy Drama’ and ‘Bathroom Behaviour’, it is a brilliantly curated compilation of Facebook missteps by parents.  The site “reaches thousands of daily readers and averages 1.5 million pageviews per month”.  And no wonder.  I could lose hours staring incredulously at the inane things that parents feel the need to share.  I chuckle at the inappropriateness of the posts and yet I also feel sad and mortified.  That there is a site like this makes a statement about our society.  In my opinion, we have crossed a line where nothing is sacred to us or our children.  What will Johnny think about the poop-smeared crib photo when he’s 13 and looks back at the Facebook legacy of his childhood that lives in perpetuity?

Having a laugh and feeling connected makes social media valuable and enticing.  Friends joking with each other and revealing tidbits about their day is interesting and also a great way to lesson a geographical distance.  But people must realize that this information is ‘out there’.  Potential employers have asked recent graduates for their Facebook login information, and reputations and careers have been ruined.  Posting negative or embarrassing information about your children could come back to haunt them – or potentially harm the trust within your parent-child relationship in the future.

The internet allows us to access information and have our questions (sometimes) answered without needing to communicate in person or search out a book.  Information on bodily functions, sex, and other taboo dinner-table topics from reputable, research-based sites are an excellent source of information.  But when I look to social networking sites for camaraderie, friendly laughs and the sharing of knowledge, I really don’t want to hear about vomit in your minivan.  Nor do I want to see a photo of the placenta.  And I most certainly don’t want to know the specifics of your teenager hitting puberty.  The value of social media is knowledge – real information that enhances our collective experience of our world.  We have incredible tools at our disposal and we are littering them with inappropriate information.

The Mouth-to-mouth feeding video.

What are your thoughts?