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Summer breakfast

The Summer Breakfast Table

Contests, EAT, family meals, nourish By June 9, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , 3 Comments

Anyone else’s roses in bloom? It’s spring, and as days get longer we experience the perfect time for al fresco meals—and that idea needn’t just extend to grand family dinners where your kids must exhibit perfect manners. Family dinners have actually always been slightly intimidating to me, and I’ve always slinked away from the judgmental moms who ask with disdain why we are at the park eating takeout and NOT HAVING A FAMILY DINNER at the table. So, if dinners are difficult, you can imagine how breakfast suffers.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Jason Priestly Drinking Water

Children’s Safe Drinking Water: An Interview with Jason Priestley

charity, FAM By February 25, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

How important is water? Very. A lemonade stand to raise funds for water wells is fabulous, but there are still 1800 kids who die EVERY DAY due to the lack of clean water in their communities. A billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water. Even with access to medications, people often take their pills with toxic water – it’s the only option.

A  lack of education means that some wells are dug only feet away from the spots where latrines are situated, causing even more harmful bacteria.

P&G Clean Water - Jason Priestley 1UrbanMommies had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Jason Priestley – actor, director and activist who travelled to the Dominican Republic and is working to promote the Children’s Safe Drinking Water program (CSDW). Since the program launched, it has succeeded in donating over 20 million days of clean drinking water to those in need, and we hope to reach our goal of 25 million days of clean drinking water by March 31, 2015.

It doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference. Just 10 cents provides one P&G water purification packet that creates 10 liters of clean water. The packets are stirred into 10 litres of water and after ten minutes, the water can be strained through cloth (even a t-shirt works) and is safe to drink.

Just $1 gives a child clean water for 50 days.
$7.50 gives a child clean water for a year.
$30 gives a family clean water for a year.

Procter & Gamble and Walmart have partnered in a simple program to provide water to people in need. Every P&G product sold at Walmart Canada will provide 1 day of clean drinking water for a family. And these are the products you are buying anyway like Tide, Gillette, Bounce, Pantene and Tampax.

Here’s our exclusive interview with talented and kind Dad, Jason Priestley.

P&G Clean Water - Jason Priestley 3UM: There are so many charities and people in need – why water?

JP: I am a dad. 1600 children die every day. Its shocking to us who live in Canada where there in such an abundance of drinking water. This is a simple program that makes huge difference in people’s lives.

UM: I read your piece on your trip to the Dominican. When I travelled to Liberia with Right to Play I saw the need for clean water and also health education. How does Children’s Safe Drinking Water choose where to help? What about education?

JP: Kids can’t go to school half the time because they’re sick. There’s not enough education. We need to do something to break that cycle – water is one of the basic building blocks of society. Clean water makes people healthy and strong so they can get to school.

UM: You have 2 children – how to you teach them to be socially conscious?

JP: That’s one of the big challenges we all face. It’s difficult but I try to look at everything as a potential teachable moment. Scarcity and the importance of water is all around us – in California too. Water is a precious commodity. We talk a lot about the importance of helping others, not just giving people money but the tools they need to improve their lives. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Water is a tool. It restores people’s health and also their dignity, improving their lives and the strength of the community.

UM: How can Canadians help?

JP: This is such a simple program. Go to a Walmart store or walmart.ca and buy the household products you use every day. P & G takes care of donating. It’s a 1 for 1 swap. 1 product = 1 day of drinking water for a family.

So far they’ve given 21 Million days of safe drinking water to families in developing countries.

UM: How do they determine where to distribute the water purification packets?

JP: They work with not for profit agencies across the globe to determine need. Unsafe drinking water kills more kids every year than HIV, aids and malaria combined.

UM: I know I went through many life changes after visiting Liberia. What was your big take-away, as a dad, after travelling to the Dominican?

JP: I loved the children. Children are the same everywhere you go: happy, joyous, playful and beautiful. There kids playing in the dirt with a ball and stick are no different than my children. I felt the need to help them. They are innocent, joyous and pure and they deserve better. We can see what the future hold for these kids even when they can’t.

A billion people don’t have access to safe water. 1600 kids die every day.

You can learn more at Walmart.ca/cleanwater

Disclosure: I am a P&G Mom and was give then chance to interview Jason Priestley. I was not compensated for this article and all opinions are my own.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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A Good Night’s Sleep (With Giveaway!)

Contests By August 24, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 155 Comments

Benadryl Itch SprayIn my house, summer is a time to connect with the earth and refill the soul after a chilly winter. The kids are unscheduled, I wear less makeup and we all watch eagerly as our seeds turn into bright flowers and vegetables. Long, lazy days tending lemonade stands and riding bikes make for a (happy) tired family every evening.

Unfortunately, as soon as I crawl, exhausted, into bed, I hear “Mommy!! I can’t sleep…I’m scratchy.. And I have a bug bite… Now there’s a ‘skeedo’ in my room!” This is the point where both of my boys lie in bed with eyes as big as full moons, tracking any potential movement from bedroom insects while they scratch their skin raw from the day’s bites. We have tried mosquito nets, searches to eradicate standing water around the property and crazy citronella scents that simply stain the linens. Ultimately, my fatigue makes me give in to the inevitable – “Mommy may I sleep in your bed?” Followed by: “Mommy I feel scratchy. Can you please scratch hard?”

Summer Fun with MosquitoesYesterday we encountered a different itch-culprit. The boys spend two weeks each summer gliding over the ocean in sailing lessons. I can barely get them to remember their lunch bags, let alone to re-apply sunscreen every hour. By the end of the day, as I was hearing about controlled gybes and seal-sightings, their cheeks were a haute shade of crimson.

Wouldn’t summer be perfect without itch-inducing critters, sunburns, allergies and poison ivy encounters? The late sunsets make sleep difficult enough without the added strain of being kept awake because of feeling ‘scratchy’.

I was giddy to learn about a product that solves the itch issues! Non-stinging BENADRYL® Itch Spray provides fast, effective relief at the source from itchiness and pain. This easy spray contains a topical antihistamine/analgesic and a skin protectant to give you triple action relief that relieves itch, soothes pain, and protects skin.

Bugs will always bite, and sometimes the most diligent sunscreen users get mild sunburns, but we have found our summer miracle! Our bedtime routine still includes books, teeth brushing and backrubs, but we’ve added a fun exercise called ‘zap the scratchies’. Being able to simply spray bug bites and skin irritations with BENADRYL® Itch Spray to relieve those symptoms has made a world of difference to the quality of our family’s sleep.

Now if only BENADRYL® could figure out a way to extend the summer holiday…

Giveaway Alert!!!

One of our readers could win: a “Sleep Well” prize – a $150 Walmart gift card –to purchase BENADRYL® Itch Spray to relieve itching as well as a few other items so that everyone can get a good night’s sleep. Simply fill out this Rafflecopter entry form! Ends 8/31, CAN only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post was made possible by BENADRYL. All opinions and anecdotes are our own.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Walmart May Have just Ended the Mommy Wars

GEAR, style By May 23, 2014 Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment

Walmart Mom of the YearIt’s hard to classify anyone as ‘Mom of the Year’. What criteria does one use? While women sling insults at each other in the name of the mommy wars, we seem to be forgetting about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Choosing the ‘best’ is too hard. Do we award it to a mom overcoming a huge challenge? But one person’s hurdle could be a breeze for another woman. Do we give it to the mom who makes the best school lunches even though she has a staff bigger than Martha Stewart’s? Maybe we reward a mom forced to leave her family to work away from home so she can send money to her children. Or a woman who is hurting but rejoices in the face of negativity. A hard choice? We think so. Well, we have good news. Walmart may have just ended the mommy wars. Walmart’s Mom of the Year Award is now recognizing multiple people! Seeing that moms can thrive in many different areas, Walmart has designated categories:

– Environmental Superstars
– Community Champions
– Smart Savers (this definitely won’t be me)
– Loving Caregivers
and
– Everyday Heroes

Anyone else welling up with tears just thinking about who you can nominate? Know what’s even better? A Mom doesn’t have to win to feel appreciated. Every Mom of the Year nominee gets a profile page that can be shared with her friends and family. Loved ones can write messages and tributes on her page to ensure she never forgets what a great job she’s doing. Of course the nominees will print and laminate my comments to post on the fridge.. the bathroom mirror.. the car dashboard… the temper tantrum-ing toddler’s forehead…).

Many moms work like dogs for little appreciation. Why not give the biggest honour of all to a mom you know? Show her she’s doing a great job. Voting begins June 11th – let the heartwarming stories, tears and giggles begin! Moms are worth it.

 

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Create a Grade School Workspace for Under $100

Contests By September 11, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

gradeschool workspaceI remember my pink desk as a child.  We got it at a flea market.  It was solid wood, painted light pink (to match the Laura Ashley decor) and had huge round knobs on all three drawers.  This was fortunate, as you had to have the strength of Schwarzenegger to get the warped things opened.  But it was my desk and my space and it was where I did homework for many years.  Given $100 and a few options as part of the Walmart Frugal Heroes challenge, I decided to outfit my boys with a new work space.  For $100.  And it was a blank space.  Talk about a challenge!  Was it possible to create a grade school workspace for under $100?

We all went to our local Walmart and I had a nightmarish time convincing them that we could not build a space out of Lego, nor was Star Wars part of the homework plan.  Thinking I’d have to settle for a side table, I went to the furniture section and found a desk for $69.  Wow!  And it was of course out of stock and the plan was to get everything that day.  Looking further Walmart Frugal HeroesI was shocked to find a corner desk in the clearance area.  A corner desk that would fit perfectly in the space we had.  It was black and gave me an idea.  A Starwars spaceship work corner would be black and silver, no?

Stainless steel lamp, bulletin board with magnetic side, spice jars to double as school supply organizers, 2 frames and a plant.  I printed Lego minifigure images for the frames and plugged in the kids’ iPod Touches.

The price?  $98. 76

Tally:

Desk: $40.00
Stainless steel lamp: $12.98
Combo Bulletin board: $22.47
Spice jars: $1.97 each
2 frames: $1.00 each
Plant: $2.97

Enviro Fee: $.85
Tax: $10.58

Total: $98.76 

Bazinga!!

Disclosure: I was given a $100 gift card by Walmart Canada as compensation for this article. 

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Chantal Kreviazuk and Walmart's Mom Of The Year

grow, LIVE, nourish By July 12, 2013 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Chantal KreviazukShe sat lightly on the sofa of the Shangri-La hotel and embraced me early as I entered. From the beginning it felt as if I was hanging out with a best friend. We talked of shoes, child rearing, philanthropy and music. I was astounded at Chantal Kreviazuk’s poise, her passion for knowledge and the way she broke into song to illustrate a point using favourite lyrics.

Walmart introduced the Mom of the Year award last year to celebrate moms as both role models and integral members of the community, and gives Canadians an opportunity to say thank you for everything moms do every day.  “We’re thrilled to bring the Mom of the Year Award back for a second year,” said Emma Fox, chief marketing officer for Walmart Canada.  Judges include notable comedian, actress and radio host, Sophie Prégent, the 2012 Mom of the Year, Katie Schulz, editor-in-chief of Walmart Live Better magazine, Sandra Martin, Emma Fox and Ms. Kreviasuk review the entries.

One of the most important jobs on the planet does not come with a paycheque, but Canadians have a salary in mind. According to a recent survey conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of Walmart Canada, Canadians would pay their mom an average annual salary of $161,287 for all of her hard work.  Asking about how she will begin to choose the finalists, Chantal paused and admitted that mothers are so exceptional that it would be difficult.  “I think that the good the amazing mom today to honor would be that woman who has life experience, has overcome some things but she still has strength and resilience.”

When I searched the #momoftheyear hashtag on twitter I was disheartened to see that moms across the globe use it in a disparaging way.  They forget to bring diapers on an outing and they ridicule themselves.  I asked Chantal about this trend.  She has noticed that women in general are very critical of themselves.  “Canadians are very different than Americans in that we have this bizarre thing in our particular cultural nature whereby we diminish our successes and dwell on our mistakes.  Americans don’t do that – Americans are very proud and they tend to want to celebrate their success.  I think also as mothers we make a mistake and it defines us.  We have so much power as as a parent – we really need to define ourselves by the greatness, not the errors.”  

Not only has Chantal Kreviazuk been influenced by Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace (her eyes light up every time he’s mentioned) but her mother-in-law has played a huge part in how Chantal has carved her style as a mother of 3 boys.  She is “very graceful and elegant in her style of coping and resilience – the older generation just gets up and keeps going with that classic beauty”.  Travel and philanthropy keep her busy but she is highly attentive to ensuring constant communication with her kids. “I’m really frightened of the idea of raising children to be too certain.”  She admits her mistakes to the kids and takes time to answer questions.  Remembering when she attended an event for a hospital foundation and the kids asked a ton of questions, she used it as an “organic opportunity to tell them why and who benefits from the charity and what it’s like for a child that you know is born three months early”.  Highly involved in building schools in the third world and the charity War Child, Chantal continually exposes her kids to the notion that their circumstance is not reflective of the human condition.  “Currency is many things.  It’s not just money and I really believe that a value system for all those currencies is what creates a great human being because we are more than just you know money mongers and it’s not just living to work.”

An electric and intelligent woman, Chantal spoke about her passion for science and how our brains work.  She always framed her thoughts from a mother’s point of view and it was clear that research and career exist to make life better for her family and the world around her.  Yeah – beautiful, talented, incredibly smart and does some light neuroscience reading in her free time.

She focused our discussion on modeling for our kids – and why moms who are condescending towards themselves are not doing their kids a service.   Modelling is vital (and scary) in parenting, and I personally believe that corporations and can help us model well for our children.  That Walmart is celebrating moms who model beautifully for their kids is a great step.  All I know is after spending quality time with Chantal, she can model what a woman should be for my kids anytime!

New this year to the Mom of the Year contest is public voting, where Canadians will have the chance to review the top 20 candidates and vote for one mom they want to see become one of the eight finalists. Each finalist will receive $10,000 to spend on themselves and the remaining seven will receive $10,000 for the charity or cause of their choice. The Mom of the Year award recipient will receive $100,000 for the charity or cause of her choice. 

The Mom of the Year finalists will be flown to Toronto for a day of pampering and an awards gala on October 6, 2013. Nominations for the Mom of the Year Award close on June 16 and My Finalist public voting will begin on July 4 through August 1. The eight finalists will be notified around August 6. To participate in the program and support Canadian moms, visit www.momoftheyear.ca.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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The All-Star Sports Birthday Party

EAT, entertain, FAM, kids By June 13, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

All-Star Birthday PartyAsked by Walmart to create a birthday party for six children with under $100, UrbanMommies hit the aisles and embarked on the Walmart Frugal Heroes Challenge.  Scouring the store and channeling our creativity, we decided upon the All-Star Sports Birthday Party.  I was shocked when we got to the cash with an entire basket-full of goods.  I will admit (sheepishly) that the total came to $101.50, but we’re still proud.

Items:

1.  Skipping Rope
2.  6 Red soccer jerseys
3.  1 set of 2 lb weights
4.  1 set of 5 lb weights
All Star Birthday Ideas5. 4 orange pylons
6. 1 soccer ball
7.  1 basket ball
8.  Box of microwave popcorn
9.  8 frozen tenderloin beef skewers for the BBQ
10.  2 boxes brownie mix
11.  1 tin chocolate icing
12.  dotted cocktail napkins
13.  striped luncheon napkins
14.  red paper plates
15.  Blue plastic tablecloth
16.  1 Case of Blue Kool-Aid Jammers

Total: $101.50

All-Star BirthdaySurely we can create a party with this!  With stations for the leaders to guide the 6 kids in sporty challenges, we jumped rope, did bicep curls, kicked the ball around pylons, did a pushup race and shot hoops.  The kids gorged on popcorn and ‘Brownie Cake’ for dessert and beef kebabs and salad (from my garden and not included in prices).  The ‘goody bag’ was the red jersey that each child got to take home (and could easily be personalized with masking tape).

Therefore, UrbanMommies, the least ‘frugal’ magazine ever, was able to create a memorable and fun party with minimal cost – oh, and it covers the one-hour of activity quotient that so few of our children are getting.

Must go.  We’ve got some drills to recreate!

Disclosure: UrbanMommies was given a $100 gift card for Walmart for the purposes of creating a birthday party.  We were not compensated for this article and all ideas and opinion are our own.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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