The first time I ever used Samsung Gear VR was reviewing new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. My mind was boggled!! I can’t imagine explaining to my Mom, who still uses a phone book, that I could film a 360 degree view of my home or a vacation and these goggles would allow her to experience what we are seeing as if she were there. Maybe I’ll fix the flashing lights on her VCR before I break the news…
When my toddler’s bedtime hits, it’s MY turn to watch TV. Unfortunately, I usually realize this I have been chugging sipping an adult beverage and watching Heidi… alone… for the last 20 minutes. I have Netflix to thank for helping me feel like an adult again and removing (however temporarily) The Wiggles earworms from my brain.
The New Year brings us more than an urge to make resolutions, clean out cupboards and start new regimes: it brings colds and flus. For parents with little ones, this is a most difficult time of year. Just when we were ready to bustle them into their coats and mitts and head back to school, they come down with something just ghastly enough to keep them from attending… yet not so debilitating it knocks them out for the day.
Fall is usually the impeccable period to initiate new family traditions for several years to come. As winter is imminent, gather round to pop some corn, cozy up on the couch under a blanket and play the favourite movies of your family on Netflix.
What better summer activity than a night outside watching a film? Friends, snacks, pillows and blankets with your very own private big screen.
Some lies I have told I’m proud of and some I wish I could take back. I’ve never really been the ‘black and white’ person, to the extent where I’d question psychometrists during IQ tests… “But what if the car travelling 50km/hr was using high-octane gas?” “Do I have to count the triangle in 2-D or can I add a dimension?”…
As many readers know, I had to testify at a pretty nasty criminal trial and marvelled at the grey areas between truth and lies. There were always many ‘truths’ in the process – the evidence, the memories and the spin put forth by the lawyers. But all of these are filtered within people’s own experiences and understanding. Even the same word can mean different things to different people. Society was a certain way during the upbringing of the jury, the judge and those of us being cross-examined, and the ‘truth’ of our era is not necessarily going to be the same as it was interpreted in 1950, 1900 or 2050. So when it comes to ‘lying’, I’ve always seen 50 shades of grey.
As part of the Netflix ‘Stream Team’ I get a sneak peek of up-and-coming shows and this month my focus has been looking at shows that teach children, teens and adults about lying. As you can imagine, this has been tough for me, and has made me think of my moral compass over the past few years. Before I outline the spectacular shows available this month on Netflix, I thought I’d do a little soul-searching..
Lies I am Glad I told
1. The Internet is down so you will have to read a book about sharks instead of watching a shark show on Youtube.
2. We’re out of bread. Want to help mommy make some from scratch?
3. I left a note for the Easter Bunny before we left so he knows our hotel and room number on Easter Sunday.
4. Can you hang this picture honey? My nails are too long to work the drill.
5. I spoke to your teacher and he asked you to do this worksheet tonight.
Lies That Weren’t So Good
1. Instead of ‘I’m sick’ I should have said ‘I need a mental health day.’ It’s ok and I was just furthering the stigma. Sorry Clara Hughes.
2. I pretended that I didn’t realize someone had passed away because I didn’t send a card and donation swiftly.
3. “If you keep eating unhealthy foods and nothing else you will never grow.”
4. “You look amazing in that outfit.” (a close second to:”What a nice haircut.”)
5. I airbrushed a selfie and let judgemental, age-conscious relatives compliment me on how good I looked.
Have you told lies? Need some lessons on truth, lies and consequences? Maybe you just want to be entertained… on to the epic Netflix shows!
For the little ones on Netflix:
A bit older:
Just Go With It
Pretty Little Liars: Season 1 Episode 12
So if you have a hankering to chat morals with your little ones, or revisit your own life, you can take in a few of these titles… of you can just stick to House of Cards….
It’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.
Here 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.
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:
1. Nova: Hunting the Elements
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.
I don’t like new year’s resolutions because they usually amount to more pressure and disappointment. I try to look at life as progress – are every few years getting better than the last? Are we happy? Over the past two months I’ve been focusing on living simply, eliminating stress and organizing life. Along with drinking lemon water, buying a juicer, there are 10 things the family has undertaken to ensure we are living simply with as little stress as possible.
1. Unsubscribe from as many email lists as possible. Keep the ones that you covet, but recognize that your time – even that 5 second glance to your phone when it dings – is worth gold.
2. Do a closet overhaul. (It doesn’t have to be a What Not to Wear episode where you feel guilty and depressed.) Put anything that doesn’t quite fit in a suitcase labelled with the size and date. We love Mabel’s Labels new Scan and Store barcode labels with an app so you know what’s in the box and where you put it! Check for stained items, holes, pills and shoes beyond repair. Invest in new, thin felt hangers (Homesense is a great place for these) and take metal hangers back to the drycleaner.
3. Place all of your jewelry on the bed. Separate any broken pieces that need repair, and start a collection of unwanted or broken costume pieces for a little girl in your life. When I was a little girl, a friend’s grandmother did this for me and I was thrilled by my treasures. Polish the silver and clean gold, pearls and gems with a soft cloth. I hung chunky necklaces on scarf hangars and places bangles in shoeboxes.
4. Pull out your makeup and toss anything that is too old. Wash brushes with Dawn and water and dry flat on a cloth. 97.9 % of us, according to a 2003 study on the use of cosmetics, are guilty of using make-up after the expiration date, with mascara being the most frequently mentioned product. Products with a higher water content have a shorter lifespan after opening due to the ability for bacteria and microbes to breed in moisture. Curious about expiration dates? Here’s a cheat sheet:
Expiration Dates for Makeup:
Mascara (regular or waterproof), liquid, pencil or gel eyeliners: 4 to 6 months
Cream, Liquid or Stick Foundations or Concealers: 6 months to 1 year
Powder-based products (including mineral makeup): 2-3 years
Lipsticks, Lip Gloss, & Lip Pencils: 2-3 years
Cleansers: 1 year
Toners: 6 months to 1 year
BHA or AHA Exfoliants: 1 year
Facial or Body Moisturizers and Serums: 6 months to 1 year
Lip Balms: 1 year
5. Eliminate undue travel stress. Note passport expiry dates in your calendar and apply for a Nexus/Global Entry pass to skip long airport security lines. Keep travel chargers and ziplocks sorted with different currencies from past trips in your go-to suitcase, and have a few key seasonal clothing items at the ready in case you take a trip to a different climate. Check balances on hotel points cards and ensure you are using them to your advantage.
6. Be ready for sick days. Check first aid kits for expiration dates on medicines. Have homemade chicken soup in the freezer. We use the homemade chicken stock recipe from Kitchen Stewardship, which provides incredible healing benefits, including boosting the immune system, aiding digestion, increasing efficiency of protein use and providing easily digestible minerals, including calcium. You also get none of the ‘fake’ foods and preservatives when you make it yourself. Get rid of the dust. Give your kids an extendible Swiffer duster once a week and give them a quarter if they can cover it with dust from the tops of frames and chandeliers.
7. Grab all of your gift cards and see if some can be amalgamated. If you have a stack of cards you will never use, use Cardswap.ca to exchange them for cards you will use.
8. Are your computer and mobile phone systems working well? I hadn’t backed up files, and my phone and computer contacts were duplicated or not being saved properly. Not being able to find a number for a mom during a playdate or losing precious photos to power surges can be devastating or just stressful. Calling Geek Squad or heading to the nearest Apple or Microsoft store could sort out all of your tech woes. Oh, and write your printer toner numbers in your wallet along with your license plate number. (Or am I the only one who always forgets these?) You can also photograph it all, along with membership cards and parking passes and store the photos in a special account in the cloud.
9. Evaluate the entertainment options. Our family is a bit over the top. We have a huge cable package, a Netflix subscription, Next Issue, and regularly make purchases on iTunes and Google Play. I sat down with the family and we discussed our needs. There isn’t enough time in the week to watch, play and read everything. We decided what is most important (English football and Netflix) and eliminated a few unnecessary distractions from there. It can be worth a call to your providers to check the options. Amazon Prime can cut down on entertainment costs. For film buffs in the US, Fandango is your best friend.
10. Do you and your kids do a weekly activity? We were always searching for shin guards, cleats and ski helmets, so we now have a system. Monogrammed bags for each activity (ours are from Land’s End) are packed and in the mudroom. We take them to the activity and then right to the laundry room afterwards. When the clothes are clean and dry they go right back into the bag and to their permanent home. Ditto for library book bags.
We’d love to hear your tips and tricks for living simply! Write them below and we will choose our favourite at random for a special gift card!
Disclosure: This article is not sponsored. UrbanMommies does receive samples to test from time to time, and some Proctor and Gamble and Mabel’s Labels items are shown here, however all creative and selections are my own.
Some people think Mom is hard to buy for. Us? Not so much. It just takes a wee bit of thought and the identification of what Mom appreciates. Gifts needn’t be expensive. Just all about her. Here are a few ideas. 1. Jawbone ‘Up‘
2. Pantone Xmas balls
3. Kate Spade Kindle Covers
4. Umbra Frama Mirrored wall frames
5. Monogrammed Dinnerware
6. Agent Provocateur Corset
7. Slate serving trays
8. Recycled holiday sweater skirt
9. Birks Love Collection Cuff
10. Year’s subscription for Netflix