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

 © 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 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

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.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hannah's Pick of the Month - Baby Einstein Exersaucer

Forgive me, Hannah's Pick for October is a day late.

Her pick of the month is her Baby Einstein Exersaucer. Hannah's first experience in an exersaucer was at a Toys R Us - my Mom put her in there, and Hannah squealed with delight in the store. And as a mom, when your daughter squeals with delight your first instinct is to buy said toy then and there. And I could see Grandma reaching for her debit card. Alas, since she was 6 lbs away from the maximum weight, I couldn't imagine paying full price.

Enter Kijiji. I found last year's model at less than half the retail price of the current one (Hannah's has zoo animals, this year's has sea life). Daddy made a call, and the next day Hannah was enjoying her exersaucer. We saved money, and all Daddy had to do was take the exersaucer on the subway.

We bought this back in August, and she's still under the weight maximum, and probably will be until spring. However, I'm still happy with our decision to buy used. There are products I believe you MUST buy brand new for baby, but toys are certainly not one of them (especially considering a few months from now she'll be playing with a bunch of toys at daycare that a billion other kids probably have already play with.)

But back to the exersaucer - she loves clinking the panda bears on the tetter-totter, playing music from the keyboard and jumping up and down. She's also started to stand more on her legs, so I hope playing in this toy is working her leg muscles. It's also the perfect toy because she'll play in it while I'm making food or cleaning and would prefer to have my hands free.

Does/did your child have an exersaucer?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.