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.