Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful holiday season with their families.

I know this, my daughter's first Christmas, has been the best Christmas by far!

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Customize Creative Gifts with MailPix (Review & Giveaway)

One of my favourite parts of the CNE when I was little was sitting with my family to get the calendar with our photo on it. It was so grainy, but for its time it was so cool and high tech.

In the digital era, you can customize lots of awesome gifts for friends, family or yourself - using just your computer and your own photos. Seriously, what else are you going to do with all the photos you are going to take over the holidays?

Personalized Coasters
The goal of MailPix is to keep costs low and pass savings along to consumers. Using the latest easy-to-use web technology, integrated with social media, it is easier than ever to turn digital photos, Facebook and Instagram pictures into tangible products such as photo books, prints, cards, enlargements and a variety of gifts! MailPix was started by two photo industry veterans with a concern that a whole generation of photo memories, whether stored online, or on hard drives or smart phones, would be lost to future generations and wanted to provide an affordable and simple way to turn images in memories.

Photo Calendar
I don't have an Instagram account, and although I did try logging in through Facebook, I found it a lot easier to choose the photos I wanted before I made them into products, versus being indecisive on the actual website.

Travel Mug
I decided to make a travel mug, personalized coasters and a customized photo calendar. They all look great. The toughest part really IS choosing which photos to use and how to lay them out. It's so simple to use MailPix's website - you upload a photo, select where you want it to go - and voila, your product is ready to be created and shipped to you.

Would you like to win your own customized mug from MailPix? If you are American, use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

Open to American Residents only who are the age of majority only. Valid entries only. Contest ends Friday, January 11, 2013. For further contest rules, refer to the Terms and Conditions within the Rafflecopter. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received products from MailPix for the purpose of this review. As always, the language and opinions on this blog are my own.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Dreaded D Word

As the title of my blog suggests, I live in Toronto (YYZ is the airport code for my city). It's not a myth that most moms in this city put their children on day care waiting lists when they are about three-months pregnant. It can be that difficult to get a spot.

We were on 12 day care waiting lists, and through some miracle, a spot appeared at our number one choice. When I was told a spot was available I burst into tears. They were not tears of joy. They were not relieved tears. They were "OhmygoodnesssomeoneelseisgoingtobewithmybabyalldaywhileIamatwork" tears.

I go back to work mid-January and was hoping to keep Hannah home with me as much as possible until then. Instead, she'll start day care next week. So I can be around if any issues arise. And I won't have to take any sick days in case she falls ill (it would be horrible of me to WISH sickness upon her...even if that does mean more time for us to spend together). Plus, we have to pay for the spot whether she's there or not.

We've been to the day care twice. And each time, I've cried afterwards.

The day care itself is all I hoped it would be. The children are happy, the workers are responsible and it's close to our place AND my Mom's.

But my heart still hurts. How I am supposed to be OK with being away from Hannah? I carried her for 40 weeks (AND TWO DAYS) in my belly before spending almost every waking moment of the last 11 months with her. My mind just can't get around someone else feeding her, changing her diaper, playing with her - and this is where my green monster really comes out - hearing her giggle and seeing her million dollar smiles.

Did you ever watch the episode about why the Simpsons have no pictures of Maggie in their house? And then you find out Homer basically has a shrine to her at the nuclear power plant? I can see my desk area becoming like that. And I can see spending the same amount of time in the work washroom as I did when I was pregnant. This time it won't be to pee, it will be to collect myself and dry my tears.

Thankfully I have a few amazing co-workers who will make the transition slightly easier for me. One even has a daughter who is seven months older than Hannah, so I know I won't be the only one missing my child.

How did you deal with going back to work?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Display your Christmas Cards with Command

With Christmas less than a week away, my mail is becoming more greeting cards than bills and I'm sure I'm not alone.

So, how do you display your Christmas cards?

With your fireplace mantle usually jam-packed by the time Santa comes to visit, appreciate all the glory from those seasons’ greetings by creating a holiday card collage on your wall with Command poster strips. (You can find a list of stores that carry Command here, a pack of 12 retails for $2.99.)

I have started my own collage already, and it's great. I can leave my picture frame "displays" (and OK, my collection of turtles figurines from around the world AND OK, OK, my Transformers action figures) alone, and my cards make my walls a lot more festive.

Plus baby can admire the cards, without trying to rip them. Or put them in her mouth.

The Command poster strips are easy to use AND remove. Just make sure you clean the area with isopropyl rubbing alcohol before you stick or you may have difficulties after the Epiphany. (You can see how easy the process of mounting and removal of Command products are by watching this video How to Use Command.)

How do you make your house festive for the holidays?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

P&G Holiday Gathering Tips (Giveaway)

One of my favourite things about the holiday season is holiday parties. I just love catching up with old friends and spending time with family.

Being the host or hostess can be a stressful job. If you are hosting a holiday gathering, Colin Cowie, lifestyle expert and celebrity party planner, recommends five simple tips that Canadians can use to prepare their homes for the busy holiday season:

Start with a Colour Theme and incorporate it into everything from invitations to decorations.

Good Lighting is a Must, use dimmers or candles. Febreze Candles add ambiance, and also make great stocking stuffers or parting gifts for your guests.

Let Guests Help Themselves by setting up food stations including extra cutlery and napkins. It's less intimidating than a sit down dinner, and you can set up before guests arrive.

Always Be Ready for Guests by keeping a Swiffer WetJet with Swiffer WetJet Extra Power Pad with the scrubbing power of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in the hall closet. You can quickly clean ensuring your home is free of unwanted dust and footprints.

Hide the Mess by pre-loading the dishwasher with Cascade All-in-One ActionPacs, and load dishes as you use them. If you are washing dishes by hand, Dawn Original gives you an overnight soak in five minutes, allowing more time for visiting with your guests.

One lucky YYZ Bambina reader will win a P&G Holiday Gathering Prize Pack, which includes:
  • Cascades All-in-1 ActionPacs
  • Dawn Dishwasing Liquid
  • Febreze Air Effects Limited Edition Cranberries & Frost scent
  • Febreze Candles Limited Edition Set - Cranberries & Frost, Vanilla & Moonlight and Apple Spice & Delight scents
  • Febreze Fabric Refresher Limited Edition Cranberries & Frost scent
  • Febreze NOTICEables Limited Edition Craberries & Frost scent
  • Febreze Set & Refresh Limited Edition Cranberries & Frost scent
  • Mr. Clean 7 Days of Shine Bath Cleaner
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (Select-a-Size)
  • Swiffer 360 Dusters
  • Swiffer WestJet Extra Power Pads with the scrubbing power of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (mop not included)
Open to Canadian Residents (excluding Quebec) who are the age of majority only. Valid entries only. Contest ends Thursday, December 20, 2012. For further contest rules, refer to the Terms and Conditions within the Rafflecopter. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events. The opinions on this blog are my own. 

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wild New Year's Eve Party at the Toronto Zoo

So how will I make Hannah's first New Years wildly exciting?

Spend it at the Toronto Zoo of course! (And quite fitting, since the last time I was at the Zoo I was 40 weeks pregnant, and walked around the entire place (save the huge hill to the Canadian animals) to try to get labour going.)

On Monday, December 31, 2012, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., partiers can enjoy:

  • "That 60s Show" tribute band 
  • Kung Fu Panda 
  • Majinx Magic Show 
  • Kung Fu Panda's "Po" and The WotWots Meet & Greets 
  • WILD animal visitors 
  • Kid's Countdown at 8 p.m.!

Space is limited, so the Zoo suggests buying your tickets online or at Guest Services.

What are you and your kids doing on New Year's Eve?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Iams Home 4 the Holidays

I often say I like animals way better than I like most people. I've been lucky enough to adopt some pretty amazing animals so far in my life, full of personality and love.

Skittles even posed with me for self-photos. What a gal!
It's not easy going to a shelter knowing you can only save one or two animals. The last time I went I was 13. The Toronto Humane Society had a bunch of cats, and I really couldn't decide on one. Thankfully my Mom found Skittles (not her name before we adopted her). Skittles had just given birth to yet another litter, and her owner decided to keep a kitten instead of Skittles. She was two years old at the time, and the Humane Society would only let us have her if we agreed to spay her (which we did). My Mom thought it would be a good idea to adopt an older cat, since many people want kittens. I'm so glad we did.

Skittles was a part of my life for the next 14 years. She was often my "shoulder" to cry on when some stupid boy I liked did something moronic. She hung out with me while I was studying, watching TV and even listening to the Backstreet Boys. As I got older, she was also the sense of reason. Some nights if I stayed too long at the bar, she had this stern look when I finally came home AND would sit on my phone to make it more difficult for me to drunk text. She still cuddled me the whole next day while I was nursing a hangover. She really was such an amazing cat, not to mention a beauty. I may have given Skittles shelter and food, but she gave me so much more in return.

Chris adopted Booyah way before we started dating, and when we moved in together I may or may not have been more excited about living with Boo than I was with Chris...

Booyah with a toy banana.
As you probably have guessed, I am a total cat person. I have nothing against dogs, I just prefer cats. Booyah is a nice hybrid. He meets us meowing at the door, wants attention for a certain amount of time, and then goes about his business. While we were in Hawaii my brother took care of Boo. He couldn't believe how much Boo meows, and how much attention he wants before he'll leave you alone. Booyah definitely makes you feel needed.

So why write a post now about adopting a pet? Because I wanted to tell you about Iams Home 4 the Holidays. I'm sure you've heard about it before, but did you know you can participate without adopting (although that is an option)?

Canadians can participate in the program in more ways than one, including:

  • Donating through Bags 4 Bowls – For those who are already pet parents, Iams will donate one bowl of food to a participating Iams Home 4 the Holidays animal organization for every specially marked package of Iams pet food purchased during the campaign.
  • Adopting from a local shelter – Every day more and more animals end up in shelters or in rescue care, and more than 25 per cent are pure breeds*. This is important to keep in mind when deciding to bring a pet into your life, the animal you’re looking for is probably in your neighbourhood shelter. To find a participating animal shelter or rescue organization near you, visit iams.ca or facebook.com/iams
  • Volunteering – Shelters need volunteers to do everything from feeding, caring for and keeping rescue animals company, to assisting at events and fundraisers. If you can’t adopt but would still love to help do so as a volunteer.
  • Visiting the Iams Facebook page – Visit the Iams Facebook page and click to “Like” the page or various messages, photos, videos, etc. For each “Like” comment Iams will donate meals to participating animal shelters.   

Last year alone, 1.2 million pets were adopted during the holiday campaign and an estimated 5 million meals were donated to pets in need. In Canada, more than 75,000 animals found forever homes during the campaign.

When Hannah is a little older and ready for a pet, Chris and I will gladly take her to a shelter to find her new best friend. And maybe we'll bring my Mom, just to ensure only one comes home with us (I'm sure Booyah will appreciate that).

If you have a pet, did you adopt them?

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events. The opinions on this blog are my own. 

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Hacking of the Bangs?

When I found out I was carrying a little girl, there was only one thing that scared me.

It wasn't boys breaking her heart. It wasn't taking her bra shopping for the first time. It wasn't even explaining to her what a menstrual cycle is.

It's her hair.

My hair will never be as stylish as this,
and therefore neither will Hannah's
I'm not a Lauren Conrad-type (I don't even WANT to admit the amount of hours I've stood in front of a mirror trying to do that side braid thing she does). I wear my hair parted to the side, or in a ponytail. On bad hair days, it goes into a floppy bun. Rarely I add a hairband. That's it.

Of course my baby was blessed with a lot of hair when she was born. She's not even a year yet, and has more hair than some 2 year olds I've seen.

And now her bangs are in her eyes. And I'm at a loss for what to do.

Barrettes stay in for maybe 30 minutes. Headbands last 30 seconds (on a good day). And her hair isn't long enough yet for me to put it up in that uber cute Pebbles hairdo.

So do I cut her bangs myself? Is it worth a terrifying trip to the hair salon (terrifying for me, more than her)?

I need to make a decision soon. Christmas is nearly here, and many photos will be snapped. And if I hack Hannah's bangs the way my Mom hacked mine, they will need some time to grow out.


Do you cut your child's bangs/hair?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Toss, Compost or Flush Earth-friendly gDiapers (Review and Giveaway)

Babies spend a LOT of time in diapers. One thing that surprised me after becoming a parent is the amount of brands, and even types, of diapers out there. As all parents know, what works for one baby may not work for another. Diapers can also be very wasteful, but as someone who lives in a building WITHOUT en suite laundry, cloth diapers scared me and seemed like a lot of work. Even one of my friends who cloth diapers only does so at home.

So when I found out about gDiapers and the option of a disposable diaper insert (they have cloth inserts too) I was intrigued. The disposable insert can be flushed, composted or tossed. The gPants can be machine washed and dried normally.

The gPants are soft cotton diaper covers with adorable colors and prints. They have waterproof pouches with gBreathe technology which means less rash for baby, and their gentle stretch allows for more comfort and the perfect fit. They are 92 per cent cotton, 8 per cent spandex. You need 6-8 gPants for full-time gDiapering.

graceful rose little gPants 
Hannah was sent the super cute gSweet little gPants. The velcro straps hold to her body and move with her well, and assist with great leakage protection. Inserting and removing the gRefill was quick, and the flushing of the gRefill was easy (don't believe me? Watch the video here). The wet inserts can also be composted, and our new home actually has green bins for stuff like that!

gDiapers are a great way to help the environment and still have the convenience of a disposable diaper. gDiapers are the only earth-friendly diapers that are 100 per cent biodegradable.

One lucky YYZ Bambina reader will win a graceful rose little gPants (size small, 8-14 lbs). This limited edition pant has all the frills a girl could want. A pink poof and lacey ‘g’ adorn a soft heather gray that’s as sweet as can be. The prize also includes a pack of gRefills and a pack of wipes.

Open to Canadian Residents (excluding Quebec) who are the age of majority only. Valid entries only. Contest ends Friday, December 21, 2012. For further contest rules, refer to the Terms and Conditions within the Rafflecopter. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received gPants and a pack of gRefills for review purposes. As always, the opinions and language on my blog are all my own.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Spend the Holidays Watching Movies with Family on Netflix (Giveaway)

According to new research from Netflix and Leger Marketing, watching movies is amongst the top five holiday traditions in Canada. Nearly half of those surveyed (47 per cent)—and 58 per cent of households with children—reported that they watching movies together is part of their holiday tradition. Holiday dinners, cooking, baking and shopping were also listed as top family traditions.

I know my holiday season isn't complete unless I watch Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the cartoon, not the Jim Carrey version), and I can't wait for Hannah to watch with me for the first time this year. However, with my subscription to Netflix I know I will be watching a lot more movies than just the Grinch this holiday season.

Netflix is the world's leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV programs. For one low monthly price, Netflix members can instantly watch movies and TV programs streamed over the Internet to PCs, Macs and TVs. Among the large and expanding base of devices streaming from Netflix are the Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3 consoles; an array of Blu-ray disc players, Internet-connected TVs, home theatre systems, digital video recorders and Internet video players; Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Apple TV and Google TV. In all, over 800 devices that stream from Netflix are available.

And in case you didn’t know, you can also give the gift of Netflix to friends and family - just head to https://signup.netflix.com/Gift to purchase a Netflix gift card. It's quick, easy, and may be the perfect gift for that person who has everything on their list (there's NO WAY anyone owns all the movies and TV programmes on DVD/BluRay that Netflix offers). According to the aforementioned survey, 42 per cent of Canadians shop online to avoid crowds and lineups, and by buying a Netflix gift card you can join them.

I am slightly obsessed with Netflix. Sesame Street, How I Met Your Mother and a slew of movies, new and classics? I think I could sit in front of my TV all day!

Would you like to win one of two three-month subscriptions? Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

Open to Canadian Residents (excluding Quebec) who are the age of majority only. Valid entries only. Contest ends Wednesday, December 19, 2012. For further contest rules, refer to the Terms and Conditions within the Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a six-month Netflix subscription for review purposes. As always, the opinions and language on my blog are all my own.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Organize stylishly with Martha Stewart Home Office for Avery at Staples Canada

As some of you may know, we moved last week. As I type this we are still surrounded by many boxes and there are still many things I can't find (note to self - next move, write on every box EXACTLY what is in every box).

One of the joys of this move was setting up our desk with Martha Stewart Home Office for Avery products, which are exclusively found at Staples Canada.

Do you remember that awesome feeling of fresh notebooks and new pencil crayons from school? Or am I the only nerd who loved the smell of a brand new eraser? Setting up my new desk space with these fabulous products gave me the same sort of organized, fresh-start feeling.

Which is important, because in about six weeks I return to work (insert big frowning emoticon here). I was starting to get nervous about how I will handle working full-time with posting on this blog, in addition to all of my motherly (and other) responsibilities. Thankfully with the help of these products I am more organized and my time will be well spent when I get time to focus on my blog.

The various notepads and notebooks are well made - and are easily ripped out if you need to take just that sheet of paper somewhere. I have already started multiple "to do" lists.

The Stack + Fit Desk Accessories tided all my office supplies easily and stylishly.

And this line of products organized much more than just my desk - we use the Magnetic Note Pad and Dry Erase Decal on the fridge, to jot down things with both have to remember, from important dates to buying more hand soap.

We also use the Large Shagreen Double Pocket for bills, receipts and important letters.

The products were so easy to use, you literally open the package, put it where you want it and voila, you're done.

Going back to work is going to be hard on a multitude of levels, but at least my home will be organized thanks to the Martha Stewart Home Office for Avery line.

You can also check out the Martha Stewart Tips and Ideas at Staples website for helpful tips on how to use the products to their full advantage.

How do you keep your desk/home office organized?

Disclosure: I received Martha Stewart Home Office for Avery products from Staples Canada to review for the purpose of the post. As always, the opinions and language on my blog are all my own.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Visit Mozart's Magical Castle at Casa Loma

Two amazing things about living in Toronto include: having a castle in our city AND having a thriving cultural scene.

This holiday season, Casa Loma and Opera Atelier are partnering to create Mozart’s Magical Castle, a month-long installation which will bring Toronto’s castle to life with the sights and sounds of Mozart’s beloved opera The Magic Flute.

Running December 1-30, 2012, this unique interactive installation will feature a variety of performances, educational workshops, and creative activities that will expose participants of all ages to the music, dance and story of Mozart’s most famous opera in the magical environment of Casa Loma.

Artists from Opera Atelier’s production (running April 6-13, 2013 at the Elgin Theatre) will be on-site to perform excerpts from The Magic Flute, a team of arts educators will help participants connect with the artist inside them, and activities such as costumed characters and a scavenger hunt will ensure that all Casa Loma patrons will get to participate in the fun.

Company of The Magic Flute
Photo: Bruce Zinger / Company of The Magic Flute(2006)
Casa Loma will also be maintaining its holiday tradition of strolling carolers, an elves’ workshop, beautiful decorations including a 25-foot tree, and - of course - visits with Santa Claus.

For more information on Mozart's Magical Castle, including descriptions and specific timing of events, please click here.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 03, 2012

YYZ Bambina featured on Kids On A Plane's Meet the Blogger series

Cheryl from Kids On A Plane recently interviewed me about our family trip to Hawaii for her Meet the Blogger series. Check out the post here!

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Kevin Durant in Thunderstruck! (Giveaway)

I LOVE watching movies during the holidays - when I was in school, my friends I spent a lot of time in each other's basements watching our faves.

Just in time for the holiday season, Thunderstruck! staring basketball star Kevin Durant comes out on BluRay and DVD tomorrow, December 4th.

NBA superstar Kevin Durant plays himself in this action-packed family film about a basketball star who switches talent with a klutzy 16-year-old fan. When Brian (Taylor Gray) magically switches basketball skills with his hero, Kevin Durant, he becomes the star of his high school team...while Kevin Durant suddenly can’t make a shot to save his life! But with the playoffs approaching, Brian learns that being a true winner means working hard at your own game, and he tries to make things right in time to prevent a catastrophic end to his hero’s season.

Check out the blog app below to play the Free-Throw Challenge Game, or check out 7 Thunder-ific Tips for Kids to sharpen their basketball skills.

One lucky YYZ Bambina reader will win a BluRay + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack. Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

Open to Canadian Residents (excluding Quebec) and American Residents who are the age of majority only. No P.O. Boxes please. Valid entries only. Contest ends Saturday, December 15, 2012. For further contest rules, refer to the Terms and Conditions within the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I am working with Warner Bros. to host this giveaway.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

We've Moved!

Not websites, but our actual physical address.

Hence why this blog has been so quiet.

There will be lots of new posts next week, so please check back.

And now, to unpack a mountain of boxes. Is it bad I want to unpack/put-up the Christmas directions first?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free Kidzfest returns to Yonge-Dundas Square

The best (free!) children’s event in the city, Kidzfest, returns for its sixth year. The event, which runs from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, December 1, 2012 at Yonge-Dundas Square offers stage shows, activities and meet and greets with favourite kids characters. If I wasn't moving, Hannah and I would definitely be in attendance!

The jam-packed schedule of events includes meet and greets with Strawberry Shortcake, Puss In Boots, as well as Moshi Monsters and the minions from Despicable Me 2.

Direct from Lower Ossington Theatre, the casts of Pinkalicious and Freckleface Strawberry will be entertaining audiences with excerpts from each play throughout the day. Other live entertainment includes magician, Rick Rossini and performers from Wonderful World of Circus.

Additionally, children will have the opportunity to play at the Chuggington Activity Area, based on the popular television series, enjoy free rides, holiday crafts, face painting and more.

For more information on Kidzfest, and other events running as part of Winter Magic by Downtown Yonge, please visit http://www.wintermagic.ca.

 © 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Uncle Neil and Friends Annual Toy Mountain Show

As previously mentioned, I am so excited for Hannah's first Christmas. In fact, so far she's the only person I've purchased gifts for!

As a new parent, I can't wait for her to see all of her new toys on Christmas morning (and OK, I can't wait to crack LOL Elmo out of his box so I can play with him).

However, I can only imagine what it's like for some parents who don't know if their child will get any presents on Christmas. That's where Toy Mountain comes in - working with the Salvation Army they strive to ensure every child in Toronto has a toy to open on Christmas morning.

On Sunday, December 9, 2012, Uncle Neil and Friends will take the stage for their Annual Toy Mountain Show. There will be live music, face painting and even a visit from Santa! The event takes place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Birchmount, 462 Birchmount Road (at Danforth Road) in Scarborough, which has lots of free parking.

There is no cover charge, just bring unwrapped toys! To date, Uncle Neil and friends have collected 38,000 toys for Toy Mountain. When buying toys, please note the most needed toys are for ages 0-2 years and teenagers.

For more information on this great event, please visit the Uncle Neil and Friends Annual Toy Mountain Show website.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mabel's Labels offers 40 per cent off

Shop and be merry! 

Beginning Monday, November 26th through Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 until 5 p.m., Mabel's Labels is ringing in the holiday season by offering 40 per cent off Skinny MinisThe Basic KitShoe Labels, and Preschool Labels

Mabel's Labels products make perfect stocking stuffers, party favours and personalized add-ons to other gifts.

Discounts cannot be combined with other offers, coupons or promotions or with purchases made through fundraisers. 

Happy Shopping! 

Disclosure: I am a Mabel's Labels affiliate.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Volunteering to Sleep on the Couch

When I was younger, I always thought it was a little weird that my Grandma and Grandpa had separate bedrooms. But after months of not sleeping in the same bed as Chris, I've come to realize why.

As I wrote about in Sleep Paranoia, one of us always slept in the twin bed in Hannah's room. But our new place doesn't have enough room for a twin bed so we got rid of it over the weekend. So the big queen bed in the master bedroom has become smaller with the addition of another body. And now Hannah is all alone in her room in her crib.

The move has had a positive effect on Hannah - she is actually sleeping longer and more soundly. The same can not be said for her parents or her pet.

Our cat Booyah usually sleeps multiple places through out the night, but he logs the most time in the master bedroom. Before Chris slept in the nursery a lot, so this meant Booyah was my bed companion. Booyah doesn't make noise when he moves (unless he meows). Booyah doesn't have a need for a blanket. And best of all, Booyah takes up the same amount of space as a pillow does, allowing for the human sharing his bed ultimate stretching power.

Booyah watches over Hannah while she sleeps...
The first night we got rid of the twin bed, Booyah tried to sleep on a slither of mattress beside me. He gave me this look with his eyes like, "I'm used to having my own side. I know I'm small, but I need more space than this!"

Now it's hard for me to sleep because I'm overly conscious of Chris, "his" side of the bed and not hogging the blankets. Booyah never picked a "side" nor cared if I hogged the blanket.

Of course, I'm also worried and hear noises that could be Hannah, but are usually just in my mind.

So maybe I would sleep better on the couch. After all, Booyah already has his spot with his blanket on the top of the back frame - I would never roll into him again. Too bad the couch won't fit in the new nursery.

What are the sleeping arrangements in your house like?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Win Pampers for a Year!

One of my favourite parts of the recent P&G Mom event I attended was learning more about their Pampers diapers.

Before hearing a presentation from Dianna Kenneally of Pampers Scientific Communications, I only thought about diapers in this way: Do I have enough? Are they on sale? What's the cent cost per diaper? Will they protect Hannah's clothes?

I feel like a horrible mom admitting this, but I never even thought about Hannah. Will she be dry and therefore happy? That's the question I should have focused on.

Thankfully Pampers does their research - however difficult that may be. As Ms. Kenneally pointed out, imagine having a consumer who is only loyal to your product for a few years. And during those few years their needs change constantly and dramatically, sometimes overnight. Oh, and they can't tell you areas that your product needs to improve. 

Welcome to the world of baby products. 

So Pampers talks to moms AND watches how babies use their product in a special lab. Last year in North America they conducted 25 studies - talking to 9,000 moms acquiring 250 hours of interviews.

Pampers technology includes the use of AGM (absorbent gelling material), which can hold 30 times its weight in urine. It locks away liquid from the top sheet which keeps baby dry. And it holds the liquid under pressure, so that when the baby moves the liquid does not. 

I can't help but share some neat diaper facts (although some people may find this a gross topic, I find it quite fascinating). On average, caregivers change a diaper every four hours. During the day, these diapers consist of 100 mL of urine. The overnight diaper? 180 mL of urine. Also, babies pee in gushes, not all at once. 

So, now that I may have grossed you out, I will tell you about an amazing contest Pampers is running. Remember earlier how I mentioned that cost is a major factor in determining how I buy diapers? I'm sure it is for you too. How would you like to win free Pampers for a year?

This contest is open to Canadians starting TODAY, Monday, November 19th at Pampers.ca and at the Pampers Canada Facebook page. The first draw is December 6th and there will be a draw for a year’s worth of diapers each month until the end of June 2013.

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events. The opinions on this blog are my own. 

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Life with the Raptor

Recently, Chris and I got engaged. When we started to spread the word, one of my friends asked, "I guess this means I have to book the Raptor, huh?"

I could kiss this friend, that's how much I love her - firstly, for humouring me and secondly, for remembering that years ago I told her if she has to hire entertainment for my bachelorette, it has to be the Raptor. (And for not disowning me after I sent a link to her about how to go about booking the Raptor...when I was far from being engaged to anyone.)

Chris took this photo as part of
 one of his professional sports photography gigs.
For those of you who don't live in Toronto, perhaps I should explain. The mascot of our NBA team is The Raptor. He is simply the BEST mascot of any sports team, ever. And I've seen a lot of professional baseball, hockey and basketball mascots in action across North America.

The first time I met the Raptor was in the inaugural season - 1995. I was 13, and I got his autograph. I'm sure my Mom has the game program somewhere - at least I hope she does. Unfortunately these were the days before the digital era, and my Mom didn't have a camera with us.

The years went by, and the Raptor easily became my most favourite "player". More often than not, the friends and family who go to games with me get annoyed because I have no idea about what is going on in the game - but I can tell you exactly where the Raptor is, who he mimicked in the last 5 minutes, and which stunts he pulled before that. The Raptor is ridiculously entertaining - if you lose him in the arena for even a few minutes, you may miss out on his ultimate awesomeness. (YouTube "The Raptor" and you'll see some awesome stuff.)

On October 24, 2010 during Fan Appreciation Day, I got my first photo with him. I felt really special that he cut the line for photos off at me. Perhaps it was my Raptors hat. More likely, it was the "95" I had drawn on my face in purple eyeliner (his number is 95). I bought a stuffed animal version of the Raptor to commemorate the day.

This is what I call the single photo, because it's just the two of us.
Then, Chris and I went to a Family Fun Night in March 2011 and got our photo snapped with a green Raptor for St. Patrick's Day.

This is the couple photo.
Last year, I really wanted a photo with the Raptor while I was pregnant. But because of the NBA strike, that never happened. The Raptor still played a part in my pregnancy though - I slept with my stuffed Raptor many nights during those 40 weeks. He was even packed in my hospital bag as my "focus" item.

So why am I admitting to my mascot love on my blog which primarily focuses on my baby?

Because today, dear reader, my daughter met the Raptor.

To prepare Hannah, I let her play with my Raptor before we went. And because he's red (her favourite colour) she loved playing with him. Unfortunately that didn't make a difference when it came to meeting the real Raptor.

Today was my latest and longest interaction with the Raptor. Instead of one quick photo, we tried many - because Hannah was unsure and the Raptor was happily willing to take a million photos to try to give us a good shot, even with other folks waiting. Eventually Hannah ended the photo session, not him. As you can see below, the Raptor is even trying to comfort her by rubbing her back. Just when you think you can't love someone more...

Unsure Hannah.

Moving from unsure to upset...

The Raptor and I are happy, but Hannah has had enough.

So yes. I am proudly Raptor obsessed...and in a weird way (I refuse to use the term "unplanned") my photos with the Raptor document my life.

If you've ever seen the Raptor in action, I'm sure you're his fan too. Maybe just not as big as I am. But definitely more than Hannah (at least at this point).

Thank you, Raptor, for having such an amazing personality and bringing so much joy to the lives of Torontonians. And thank you for always being so kind to your fans, however old they may be and however they may react to you (Hannah will love you too one day, I promise!).

Obviously, a Raptors game is a great place to take kids - especially during Family Fun Days! There are ample family washrooms and activities just for them. Our usher today was very knowledgable and very kind, giving us a great game day experience.

Do you have a strange way of tracking your life, a la my photos with the Raptor?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Help Duracell Canada Power the Holidays with Children's Miracle Network

It's baby's first Christmas, and I am slowly starting to buy presents to put under the tree addressed to her.

Surfing the web finding the most awesome toys is making me really excited for this holiday season. I just hope she likes playing with the toys we pick as much as Chris and I will!

It's no surprise that most of these toys require batteries to work. I'm working on a post about gifts we think are awesome, but in the meantime I wanted to let you know about a program Duracell Canada is running which may be even more awesome.

This holiday season, Hasbro is donating Duracell-powered toys to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals across Canada. Every time you like or share a new post from Duracell Canada's Facebook page, between Nov. 5 – Dec. 31, 2012, they will donate $1 CAD to the Children’s Miracle Network up to a maximum $25,000.

So make sure you like and share posts from Duracell Canada so the $25,000 mark is reached!

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events. The opinions on this blog are my own. 

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

CUTCO Knives (Review & Giveaway)

One of the things I love most about my fiance is that he is an amazing cook. Our first real date consisted of him making me a delicious pasta dish at his place.

Full disclosure: I am not a great cook. I make a mean Kraft Dinner and hot dogs combo, and I don't burn toast. I am slowly learning neat tricks from Chris. Hannah already loves to watch him cook, so hopefully she will catch his love for cooking...and not be stuck with the dishes with her one-day partner like I am.

One thing Chris has taught me is the importance of a good knife. He's the type who gets excited when he receives kitchen stuff for Christmas. So when I told him I was approached by CUTCO to do a review and giveaway, his face lit right up.

Our first meal using the new knives was pan-fried tilapia and green garden salad with feta cheese.

The first thing Chris noted about the knife was how sharp it was. According to their website, CUTCO uses a three step heat treating process that ensures the innovative Double-D and straight-edge blades are durable, flexible and hold a razor-sharp edge. Chopping the raw carrots for the salad felt about as smooth as dicing the soft feta cheese. It was also a breeze to remove the core and seeds of the green pepper without losing any of the good stuff.

Chris told me he's never owned a real paring knife before, and even though he used it more as an all-purpose knife, he's excited to try it out for peeling veggies or hulling strawberries.

All CUTCO products come with a Forever Guarantee - including performance and sharpness. These may be our first CUTCO knives, but they certainly won't be our last!

Cooking with CUTCO is an exciting new venture within the CUTCO Cutlery family that gives individuals the opportunity to run their own business from home. CUTCO has been in business since 1949 and they are the #1 Brand of Cutlery in North America! Their new venture, Cooking with CUTCO, combines the best of both worlds –Cutlery and Cookware! The CUTCO Cooking Experience allows YOU to showcase their amazing products in action in the kitchen as well as educate your client on how to cook nutritious and healthy meals for their families, in a fast and cost effective manner. But most of all you will have a tonne of fun creating these experiences for yourself & your clients in their kitchen! This business is fun and easy - CUTCO will provide you with hands on training, video training and so much more! For more info on how to become a Cooking Consultant, go to cookingwithcutco.ca.

To enter to win your own Santoku knife, enter via the Rafflecopter below.

Open to Canadian Residents only (excluding Quebec). Valid entries only. Contest ends Sunday, December 2, 2012. For further contest rules, refer to the Terms and Conditions within the Rafflecopter. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I recieved two CUTCO knives to review. Like all other posts on this blog, the opinions and language are all my own.

 © 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Family-friendly Mandarin has something for everyone

Going to a buffet satisfies the needs of all guests when gathering your family for dinner or a group for a special occasion.

In my opinion, Mandarin is one of the best buffets available to residents of Southwestern Ontario. With more than 130 items, there truly is something at the various stations for everyone. From chicken balls to prime rib to butter tarts, all taste buds will be satisfied. And with a sundae bar and two dessert tables, so will everyone’s sweet tooth.

On a recent trip to the Mandarin, we were a group of four and a half – that is Chris, my brother, my Mom, myself, and Hannah. We all gathered to celebrate my brother’s recent condo purchase, the first home he will own. And although we all left stuffed and extremely satisfied, we each had a different way of navigating the buffet.

Chris has a system for each plate – arranged either by colour or food group. My Mom always picks up a chocolate-covered strawberry, whatever round she is on. I’m spontaneous - I walk around and put on my plate whatever catches my eye. And my brother just really, really, REALLY likes Mandarin mocktails – a tasty way to clean your palate between plates.

Chris' brown plate.

It was Hannah’s first time at a buffet, and although my Mom and I picked up a few things for her to try off our plates, no one was kinder to her than our waiter Gary. He brought Hannah her very own water cup and her first-ever croissant that she absolutely loved.

I went back for more helpings of sushi than I’d like to admit. But the smoked salmon sashimi and the spicy salmon rolls were too delicious to only pick up a few. Fresh, warm waffles have always been my favourite way to round out a Mandarin meal – complete with icing sugar, whipped cream and strawberry jam, you just can’t go wrong. To even out my fried chicken wings, chicken balls and scallops, I made sure to put lots of healthy options on my plate too, including raw vegetables, cooked vegetables and plenty of fruit. All of the food smelled, looked and most importantly, tasted, delicious.

One of my spontaneous plates.
The staff was super friendly, and quick on their feet. The waiters keep a keen eye on the tables – your beverage glass is never empty, and your finished plate always disappears before you return with your new one. From the moment you enter the restaurant you are greeted with a smile, and the staff make you feel at home right up until the moment you receive a mint before you leave.

My brother and I celebrating his new home ownership
with some tasty mocktails.
The restaurant has clientele of all ages – from kids to senior citizens. The atmosphere is definitely family-friendly, and there’s a feeling of excitement and awe as everyone navigates the buffet searching for tasty food treasures. The d├ęcor takes you to a place away from Toronto, and the fish tanks and fishpond within the Scarborough location (at Eglinton and Birchmount) that we visited are popular with younger guests.

I didn’t realize this before, but take-out and delivery are also available at every Mandarin location.

I can’t wait to go back to Mandarin for another visit – perhaps my Mom’s work Christmas party. But then I’ll be smart and leave my skinny jeans at home, and wear something a little more flexible around my waist in order to consume all the delicious goodies that await.

Disclosure: Although this post has generously been sponsored by Mandarin, the opinions and language are all my own.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget - Remembrance Day 2012

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada.

This morning my Mom, Hannah and I watched the ceremony in Ottawa on the CBC. More than a decade ago when I checked out Carleton University, my Mom and I went to the ceremony in person, and it's quite an emotional experience.

As a proud Canadian, I am so thankful to our veterans for the sacrifices they made for us so our country could become what it is today.

One of my favourite stories my Grandpa tells me about his youth has to do with World War Two. His older sisters (my Great Aunts) had enlisted and were fighting overseas. In 1944, unbeknownst to his parents, my Grandpa travelled all the way to Montreal from Toronto to enlist. However, being only 16, and therefore not eligible, his parents were called to collect him. My Grandpa begrudgingly returned to Toronto and became a War Warden in his neighbourhood - riding his bike, alerting everyone to turn out their lights during air raid precautions.

Today, I think fondly of my ancestors who fought for my freedom - and am thankful to those brave enough to enter the unknown.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Baby's First Cold

I knew it would happen sooner or later. Living in Toronto, where we experience all four seasons, Hannah was bound to catch a cold. I knew it was a milestone I didn't want to reach. What I didn't realize is how helpless Chris and I would feel. And how cute, yet annoying, baby snoring is.

Our poor little girl is all snuffles and sweats.

Last night she threw-up on me. Three times. Then she woke up every 2-3 hours crying because she didn't like the position she was sleeping in. This afternoon, she wouldn't go down for her nap. So she slept on me.

We have given her Tylenol when her temperature rises, we now have a Vicks Vapourizer running in her room and we give her as many cuddles as she can possibly handle. We offer her water frequently, and thankfully she is still eating and fillng her diapers as if nothing was wrong. Our doctor has told us there's not much more we can do except let the illness run its course.

Oh, and I forgot to mention how much she HATES us wiping her nose.

However, I still feel lucky that the common cold is all we have to deal with. I can only imagine now how parents feel who have children who suffer real medical emergencies. In a couple of days, Hannah will feel better and our house will go back to normal. Other families may not be so lucky.

Do you have a tip for when your LO catches a cold?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I'm a P&G Mom

If you follow me on Twitter (@yyzbambina), you may have noticed I was chosen as a P&G Mom (#PGmom).

Tomorrow is the kick-off event for all the blog ambassadors. I'm pretty excited. Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Canadian Olympic Bronze Medallist and new mom will be in attendance, as will as slew of P&G experts.

Of course, as a P&G blog ambassador I will be passing on everything I learn on to you.

I can't live without Tide, Bounce or Swiffer. And of course, Pampers for Hannah!

What's your favourite P&G product?

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events. The opinions on this blog are my own.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Give Gifts that keep Giving with World Vision

Halloween is over. And even though you won't hear Christmas music in Shoppers Drug Mart, all the stores are stocked with Christmas items and gifts.

Could you imagine giving someone a goat, chicken or cow for Christmas? With World Vision, you can.

I am very thankful that Hannah (and I) were born in a country where we don't need to worry about access to clean water, feeling cold at night or receiving an education. Many children in other countries aren't so lucky.

At SCCTO I met some folks from World Vision and they provided me with their Christmas 2012 Gift Catalogue. (You can view items online here.) I also was given this uber pretty bracelet, which, as you can see, Hannah is a fan of as well. The proceeds from this bracelet go to World Vision programs that help women and girls escape exploitation and abuse around the world. There are other handcrafted gifts you can purchase for a loved one that all support World Vision programs.

There are all types of gifts you can give - as I previously mentioned, you can buy animals. And medicine, food, clothes, and classroom supplies. Soccer balls, musical instruments and toys. You can even give a community the gift of solar power.

All the gifts you can give have a lifetime impact. You can also buy gift cards and let the receiver decide what gift to give.

Lydia, a seven-year-old from Uganda whose family received a goat and sheep, says, "We can sell the baby animals to buy clothes, shoes and books for school."

If you want to help children closer to home - you can. Did you know one in five Canadian children go to school hungry? You can feed hungry Canadian families or provide school supplies to a Canadian child in need.

Last year, as part of my Christmas gift, Chris "bought" me a Polar Bear from the World Wild Life Fund. This year, World Vision is my charity of choice. I'm debating between a pig and medicine - either way, I know my gift will impact someone's life.

Do you buy Christmas gifts that support charities?

Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this post. All language and opinions are my own.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Flying with Baby

As you may recall from the post A Fear of Flying, I was really scared to take Hannah on the plane when we went to Hawaii.

Even once we were at the airport, waiting to board, I was still nervous.

But then I saw the other babies. And once we boarded, I heard the other babies.

That's when I realized, like everything else in life, there will always be better behaved babies than mine on a flight AND there will always be worse behaved babies too.

So really, I should have only been afraid that Hannah would be the worst behaved baby on the whole plane.

Not so. She was a dream. She slept, she wore Daddy's Beats by Dre headphones, she pressed the television screen in front of her, she ate, she talked to another baby across the aisle. It definitely helped that we were three adults taking care of one baby. Especially when it came to schlepping our stuff during the layovers. But in all fairness, Hannah flies very well. At least at this age.

To make things easier on us, we did board the plane early, and we usually waited to exit the plane last. WestJet usually sat us close to the back of the plane on all of our flights - right near the washroom where the change table is located. Chris was super Daddy and changed her on the plane, so I don't have experience to share about changing a diaper at a gazillion feet in the air.

Security let us go through will all her formula, solid foods and bottled water for her to drink (even when I forgot it was in there, and offered to throw it out, they said if it was for the baby it was fine). Getting the stroller through the x-ray machines was a bit of a challenge, but it's no worse for the wear. We took her umbrella stroller, which we took right to the gate and was always waiting for us right where we got off the plane. We also took her car seat and it travelled as checked luggage with no issues.

My best tip is to not bring noisy toys. We didn't. I think most people are understanding you can't control the noise your baby makes 100 per cent of the time - but toys you offer them? That's all you.

What are your travel tips when flying with children?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.