Tuesday, February 26

The Little Prince: 70th Anniversary Edition (This Mom's Fave Book Ever)

I first read "Le Petit Prince" in high school, and since then it has topped the list of my favourite books. I love author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's characters, and more importantly I love the stories they tell...and the subtext beneath them. To be honest, I think the fact that I first read it in French made it seem even deeper for me...since I couldn't understand 100% of the text, the read-between-the-lines stuff was even more meaningful!

When I received "The Little Prince: 70th Anniversary Edition" from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in my mailbox I was absolutely thrilled. I know have an English copy to add to my collection of French editions, and the hardcover book comes in a deluxe boxed gift set with a CD version read by actor Viggo Mortensen.

It's my turn to choose the next selection for my Book Club...and this is it! (I'm also currently reading it to my captivated Grade 3/4 class.)

(It's $28.95 but Chapters Indigo is selling it online right now for $19.10).




What the press release says: "(The Little Prince) has led children and adults to deeper understandings of love, friendship, and responsibility, and passages of wisdom and kindness from the original text have become hallmark quotes around the world. With over 150 million copies in print and translations into 260 languages and dialects, The Little Prince is one of the most widely read books in the world, reported to be just below the Bible and Das Kapital."

And lest you think the Little Prince is a dated historical figure, you should know that he has 1.1 million fans on Facebook!

I was also excited to learn that in April 2013, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is also releasing a graphic novel version of The Little Prince, which will allow readers to experience the story in a completely visual way.

Have you read The Little Prince? Do you love it as much as I do? Please share your thoughts with me and the rest of my readers! (Even if you disagree with me - that's fine too!)

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Little Prince for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Sunday, February 24

Skinny Cow Chocolate Treats: 120 Calories Or Less?!?

Skinny Cow is now appealing to snackers with a line of delicious "Heavenly Crisp" bars as well as "Dreamy Clusters"...and the adjectives are not an exaggeration.

At 120 calories or less per pre-portioned snack, I feel no guilt whatsoever keeping these in my desk drawer for when I need a recess pick-me-up. (Though the days I do it at all three recesses, I do feel a teeny bit guilty!)




When my package of samples first arrived, I was afraid the snacks were going to be too small to be satisfying (they aren't as large as traditional chocolate bars) but they really do hit the spot and ease that chocolate craving.

Sold as single-serve bars (starting at $1.09) and multipacks (starting at $3.79) bar flavours include Peanut Butter, Milk Chocolate (my favourite) and Hazelnut.

The Dreamy Clusters (they look a bit like little Turtles chocolates, but don't have nuts) are sold in multipacks (starting at $3.79) and are great when you like something piece-y to snack on.

The best part of reviewing these products was that every time one of my girls tried to snatch one I could say "Oh, sorry....Mommy has to eat those. It's for the blog, you understand."

I don't think anyone should have to deprive themselves of an occasional chocolate fix, and if you're counting calories, these Skinny Cow treats will hit the spot!

Dislosure: I received some Skinny Cow samples for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Wednesday, February 20

Our Family Day Weekend in Buffalo - With Shopping Deets!

This past Friday, we took the girls and headed to Buffalo, NY with my parents and my brother's family for some Family Day weekend fun!

We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn Buffalo Cheektowaga, and it was fantastic! We had a suite just for the four of us, with fireplace, kitchenette/living room and two separate bedrooms with ensuites and televisions. Considering that a hot buffet breakfast was included every day, as was wireless Internet and parking, the rate of $188 per night was amazing. My one (huge) disappointment was that the hot tub was closed for renovations, which meant that I wasted a lot of time on personal grooming for nothing, but I got over it. The kids loved the frigid pool though!


Floor Plan of Suite

During the trip, we ate at some great places which were new to me: Famous Dave's BBQ (more food than you have ever seen in your life, and the bill for 10 people - including a few alcoholic drinks and a couple of desserts - came to $130), and Bravo! Cucina Italiana (where the bill was quite a bit more - maybe because 6 adults ordered 7 desserts - and I had my new favourite food: filet mignon). I had my heart set on checking out The Cheesecake Factory, but when we were told that the wait for a party of 4 was 3 hours, we figured we had better take our party of 10 and move along!

While the men of our family were most looking forward to the NHL game (Buffalo vs Pittsburgh) it was the shopping that appealed most to the women...and I certainly took advantage of it!

Saturday began with an hour at Target, and we moved on to the Walden Galleria, which is certainly one of the best malls I've been to. Sunday my mom and I backtracked a bit to Niagara Falls, NY and the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls...another great mall, with lots of upper-end stores mixed in with good old favourites (I made minutes-apart purchases from both Kate Spade and Old Navy. And if there hadn't been a lineup at Coach I would probably have taken advantage of their 50% off handbags sale!)

In terms of our haul, the girls raided their piggybanks to purchase pyjamas for their Build-a-Bears, and I picked up a bathing suit and dress for Frannie, who I think is destined to be even taller than her mother. Hubby picked up some staple items at Target, but was there more for the hockey and relaxation than the retail therapy. As for me...well, why don't I just show you?

Hoping that if I look like a good Catholic teacher you will forgive me for my later splurges, I will begin with my Dollar Tree score: DVDs of Bible Stories and Songs. Each one is half an hour with several stories on it, and my students have really enjoyed them. They're also something I can justify popping into the DVD player at home when we've had a little too much Treehouse TV!




At Old Navy, everything was 40% off, so I grabbed a couple of t-shirts and yoga pants. Did I tell you I am a new yoga enthusiast? Still working on the "clear your mind" part...but love the stretching and especially the lying down at the end! (That's not the technical name for it.)



Also from Old Navy...



And to follow my Personal Stylist's advice to add more colour to my wardrobe
(and to incorporate the on-trend floral look):


And something that was actually on my list: a classic trench. Mine was 20 some bucks at Old Navy, while the Burberry ones I checked out were about six hundred dollars more. Seriously?


I got really inspired to ramp up the colour while at Target (shoes from Nine West). My mother told me that I could not wear the yellow dress to work this week, as it is only February, no matter how hard I tried to argue that I could tone it down with a dark jacket and accessories!

(Note: the day this post was programmed to go live, I wore my new orange dress to school. I arrived at my classroom, removed my coat and saw that the dress was ripped on the side seam from waist to bottom of skirt. I'm thinking either a ring or zipper snag. My sister-in-law suggested that perhaps it was a lesson for me to shop local! Thank goodness I have Grandma to do my mending for me.)




And because the shoes deserve a close-up:




The next shoes are to solve the dress-down Friday problem of me wearing jeans and a top with heavy footwear that looks like I'm about to bolt out the door and run Cross Country. I tried these light shoes on with skinny jeans, and my husband informed me that I should probably only wear them with a wider leg, as "it's an awful lot of white". Translation: the look was 'skinny ankles on huge white skis'. I will take his advice.



Which means I won't be wearing them with my nice new pink skinny jeans. I will go out on a limb here (no pun intended) and share that these were a Walmart purchase!




As much as I adore my Louis Vuitton purse, the interior is huge, and things end up getting lost at the bottom. I bought this Kate Spade makeup bag to keep inside the larger handbag as an organizer for smaller items. I also wanted to try some new makeup styles and colours, and picked up:
  •  Revlon Photoready Primer + Shadow in "Metropolitan". This case comes with primer, 3 colours, and a sparkle top coat, laid out in order for cosmetic dummies like me, with step by step instructions on the back of the case. (I'm really happy with this purchase.)
  • Cover Girl lip Colour: While it does last well, I don't care for the separate containers for colour and gloss/seal. I prefer the brands that have one at each end of the same container.
  • Revlon Colorstay Liquid Eye Pen: I've been wanting to switch to a liquid eyeliner, and this pen is perfect. Also amping it up from brown to black has definitely made my eyes stand out more, and it's a more "polished" look, for those who don't mind looking like they're made up.




While it may seem like I went a little crazy on this shopping expedition, I actually got incredible deals and really didn't spend all that much.

On a more serious note, it was really nice to spend "Family Day" weekend with my entire immediate family. The cousins especially loved being together...two on iPads and two on DS's! (I'm kidding - though there were moments like that!) I actually felt relaxed, and not stressed about teaching, writing, blogging or housework while I was away, which is an incredible accomplishment for me.

In closing, my apologies for the title of this post. I have a habit of turning titles into paragraphs and this was my attempt to streamline, but I realize now that I can't get away with "Deets". I can barely get away with short forms when texting.

Thursday, February 14

femMED Supplements For Women: Win Your Choice!

Giveaway open to Canada and US.

Sleep has always been very important for me. (My mother would argue that I am still making up for getting none the first few months of my life.)

I've blogged about it before, but I like to get to bed at a decent time (9-10ish on weeknights, 10-11ish on weekends) and I love when I can get a solid night's sleep.

Although my daughters are almost seven and five and can't be blamed (directly) for keeping me up at night, I often have trouble getting to sleep, and a lot of difficulty getting back to sleep after waking. Once the brain activates, it's game over.

When I had the opportunity to sample femMED supplements, choosing their "Sleep" formula was an easy decision.

femMED Sleep


What is femMED?

FemMED products are made just for women, and their multi-ingredient, comprehensive solutions address specific health concerns in one formula (no need to take three or four different supplements to achieve results).

Their "Sleep" supplement (non habit-forming, with ingredients of Magnolia Bark, Scullcap, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, 5-HTP [Hydroxytryptophan], Amur Bark, L-Theanine and Melatonin) is designed for:

-reducing insomnia, wakefulness and restlessness
-helping to improve the quality of sleep
-helping to promote earlier onset and longer duration of sleep
-helping to restore the sleep-wake cycle
-promoting each stage of the sleep cycle (clinically proven)

Since I started taking it, I have definitely noticed that I've fallen asleep easier (in fact, my eyes become heavy while watching TV) and there have been several nights that I don't even remember waking.

The biggest problem is when something wakes me in the night (Maggie has a habit of yelling in her sleep, sensible things like "I love Monday Tuesday Wednesday!" and "Stop, Frannie! You're annoying me!") and I'm startled into alertness. Once alert, all worries - past, present and future - begin to circulate in my brain. So there have still been a couple of those nights in the past month, but I swear they have been fewer.

With something as complicated as sleep, could it be possible that I'm experiencing a placebo effect with these pills: I think they will help me sleep better, so I sleep better? The truth is, for a buck a tablet, I really don't care. A good night's sleep is worth more than that to me.

The bottle suggests taking the product an hour before bedtime, and I was taking it even earlier to guarantee results, but I've started taking it a bit later with the hopes that the effects will last longer through the night, and I've been happy with the system.

Other info about femMED:

  • founded by Canadian mother of three, Shawna Page
  • doctor-formulated, doctor-recommended
  • non-addictive
  • safe on their own or in combination (except prenatals)
  • do not contain dairy, egg, artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners or preservatives
  • gluten and yeast free, almost all are suitable for vegetarians and in vegetable capsules (maybe that's why I notice a brief weird taste before swallowing the capsules; not a big veggie fan!)
  • environmentally responsible production in Canada 

femMED offers the following formulas:
  • Libido (as if I was going to review that one on the blog)
  • Menopause Relief
  • Weight Management
  • Bone Health
  • Breast Health
  • Energy
  • Hair, Skin and Nails
  • Heart Health
  • Hormonal Balance
  • Multi + Antioxidants
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy + Ginger



You can purchase femMED products online or at:

Shoppers Drugmart/Pharmaprix
Walmart
Loblaws
Rexall PharmaPlus
London Drugs
Save-On-Foods

And yes...femMED is giving away a bottle of supplements (winner's choice) to one lucky This Mom Loves reader (Canada or US)! All you have to do is leave a comment below letting me know which one you would choose. (I won't hold you to it if you name one publicly and then want to really order a different one...not that anyone would judge anyone else's choice!)

Please make sure I have enough information (e-mail/Twitter/Facebook/Google profile/etc.) to find you if you win!

For extra entries, leave separate comments below letting me know that you:
The contest will run until Thursday February 28th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, after which time a winner will be chosen through Random Number Generation. Good luck!

Monday, February 11

This Mom Loves Decorating!

With Spring approaching, my mind has been racing with all sorts of decorating ideas. I'd really love to switch from carpet to hardwood in the three bedrooms, and of course we might as well freshen up the paint if we're doing that. And if we're painting, it just makes sense to change the bedding. And accessories.

I'd also like to revamp our main bath. There's nothing wrong with it exactly (after 10 years), except looking a bit dated, but there are things one can do about that. I'd leave the toilet and one piece tub, but invest in a new vanity/sink, mirror, and lighting as well as details like shower curtain, towels, and mat. Hubby would like to switch from vinyl floor to ceramic tile, which I know would look gorgeous, but I worry about ceramic being so cold...

Anyway, I have absolutely nothing new to show you today (believe me, I'm as sorry about that as you are) but this did get me thinking about all of the decorating I've written about since starting the blog, and I thought I'd bring you some flashbacks:




Laundry Room Facelift  (This is the Before - you have to click to see the After!)





Bathroom Facelift (same deal)





Debbie showing off another reveal









Front Door Makeover (this is the before)




Red Paint: Not For The Faint of Heart: can you picture the room above Ruby Red? Check it out...


Okay, now I really have the itch to decorate. Maybe I should get moving on my Income Tax Return. Any surprise money should definitely be invested into a person's home, right? And purchasing products and hiring tradespeople is good for the economy. It's really the financially responsible thing to do. TurboTax, here I come...

Friday, February 8

Valentine's Offerings From Hallmark...and a Question

There was a snow-covered package waiting on my doorstep for me this morning...my latest Hallmark Press Pause shipment!

Inside I found all sorts of great Valentine's goodies, like...

"Cupig": He shuffles and shakes his belly while singing a parody of the "Cupid Shuffle" ($15.95 with the purchase of  3 cards)


"Something For You Pup": Place an item in his mouth (card, flower, small candy box) and when the recipient pulls it out, the puppy will give a little "grr" and then a happy "ruf, ruf!" with a wagging tail. Kids would love this one! ($14.95)





"Love Ya Pup": This adorable pup's ears flap as he says "Who do I love? you-oooh!" ($9.95 with the puchase of 3 cards)

Offer Preview

These plush items will be great motivators in my classroom next week as they become prizes for responsibility and good behaviour!

Hallmark's "Valentine's Day Signature Collection Cards" are handcrafted and designed for a variety of recipients (let's just say one makes a play on the phrase "horny toad"!)

The "Card Presenters for Adults" collection is gorgeous (with gems, attachments, a unique clasp, and embossed envelopes), but unfortunately Hallmark sent me the "For The Wonderful Woman I Love" card...I can't make it that easy for my husband! (Although...what kind of bonus points would I score by providing my own card?)




Keep Hallmark in mind when looking for Valentine's surprises for your loved ones, young and old!

What about you...what's on your list for Valentine's Day? Do you celebrate it? When dating and first married, the holiday held an entirely different meaning. I worry more now about classroom Valentine's activities than I do about extravagant romantic purchases, but I'd like to think that I show my loved ones how I feel every day!

We're taking a mini family vacay soon, so hubby and I will probably just exchange cards, and the girls will each find a book and a little box of Disney Princess chocolates waiting for them at the breakfast table.

(Frannie's book: Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer - the second chapter book featuring the beloved Fancy Nancy character. Maggie's book: Berenstain Bears Funny Valentine.)

I'd love to know what other couples/families do to celebrate...or not!

(Don't forget that all comments count as extra entries into my current Win 3 Magazine Subscriptions and Win 3 Nonfiction Books From Scholastic giveaways!)

Wednesday, February 6

Wednesday Words - Thanks To My New Year's Resolution

While I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, I did set a few goals for myself for 2013, and one of them was to read the bible. Cover to cover. Seriously. While I've never been a huge bible reader at home, I use it constantly with my class. One of my favourite teaching resources ever is my "Bible Story Puzzles" book, full of worksheets that correspond with different scripture references. It's a fantastic way to expose kids to Bible stories and give them something to "do" with them. Very helpful this year with a split grade too.




Anyway, back to my resolution. January had barely begun and I was digging into Genesis...and made my way through...but I have to say that the Old Testament just doesn't provide me as much inspiration as the New Testament. The genealogy alone is mind-boggling!

I decided to skip ahead and read the Gospels next (it's not like I don't already know how the story ends) and I've been much more motivated. By Chapter 5 of the first Gospel, Jesus is already trying to undo several of the misconceptions from the Old Testament: "You have heard it was said to your ancestors ____________, but I say to you __________________" (repeated with several different examples). So I think I'm going to stick with what Jesus said.

Some of my favourite tidbits from the Gospel of Matthew:

"Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father...when you give alms, do not let the left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (6: 1-4) This one is actually the Gospel for the Ash Wednesday Mass my class is preparing.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroys, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroy, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." (6: 19-21)

"Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself." (6:34)

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few." (7: 13-14)

"Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few'" (9:37)

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account of every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (12:36-37)

and the beautiful end of Matthew's Gospel:

"Then Jesus approached and said to them 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (28:18-20)

Monday, February 4

The Jungle Book: The Movie from Kaboom! Entertainment

I get a bit nervous when I receive a parcel I wasn't expecting. Companies and PR reps will often send products with the hope that they will make it onto the blog, and I feel guilty when the items just aren't a good fit (literally or figuratively). I end up making a lot of donations, or passing goodies on to those who can use them (for example, any baby items I receive go directly to someone I know who is either pregnant or has a baby, because I am almost positive I will never again be needing them myself).

However, when I opened up the surprise box that was waiting for me on Friday, I was more than pleased because I knew the contents would absolutely thrill my girls. It was a limited edition exclusive Walmart package of The Jungle Book: The Movie DVD and two collectible figures of Mowgli and Baloo!




Based on Rudyard Kipling's classic tale, the feature-length (62 minutes) DVD includes a special downloadable activity kit as well.

I've told my girls that if they expect to receive free items through the blog, they have to be ready to offer their reviews, so here goes (after two viewings of the movie):

Frannie (age 4): "My favourite part was the end because they play music. My not favourite part in it was the starting because the fox was watching the wolves and that's mean to do. I think it's good and people should watch it."

Maggie (age 6): "I think the movie was interesting. Something I liked was the names of the characters because they aren't ordinary names that we have. A part I didn't really like was when the snake appeared right in the middle of their campfire because it was really freaky. I think boys and girls would like it and it is a good movie for children."

The DVD will be released on Tuesday, March 5th. Be sure to pick it up at Walmart if you want the free collectible toys as well!

Disclosure: I was provided with the products named above for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.