Tuesday, May 27

My Girls' New TOMS

I'm willing to bet that you've heard of TOMS, the company that provides a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold (to date, TOMS has given over 10 million pairs of new shoes to children in need in 60 countries around the world), and I was recently given the opportunity to check out their popular product.

I told my girls that a pair of TOMS was on the way for each of them, and when the package arrived, they couldn't wait to tear into it.

As you can see in the photo below, Maggie's school bag had barely landed on the floor by the time she had her shoe box open and was modeling her new footwear! (She also proudly sported them on stage the very next day when she made her Wigs For Kids hair donation!)

Both girls received the Classic Style shoes in "Silver Glitter", which I particularly appreciate because now they have comfy shoes that can also be worn in dressy situations...like below, when we were en route to see The Lion King, and needed to walk from Union Station up to the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Glitter on the GO Train!

Other kids' styles for 2014:

As if the stylish shoes weren't enough, the girls bugged me for days to let them have their boxes, showing photos of some lucky TOMS recipients around the world, their shoe bags/flags and their stickers. Luckily, they're used to their mom being a blogger, and have come to accept "NO! I haven't written the post yet!" for an answer.

TOMS kids shoes are available in Tiny sizes (for children 0 to 5 years of age) and Youth sizes (for children 5+ years of age) at www.TOMS.ca and retailers across Canada. Since shoes are something you need to buy for your kids anyway, why not support a company that's making a difference at the same time, and provide a pair of shoes for a child in need?

Final note: perhaps Dad would be interested in something from TOMS for Father's Day? A few options can be found below!

Disclosure: My girls were each provided with a pair of TOMS shoes for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Wednesday, May 21

Perfect Parties Theme Eight: The Science Party!

My friend Krista is back with a brand-new party idea, perfect for the little scientist in your house - male or female! She did this one for her younger daughter's 7th birthday.

There were a few stations set up outside as the kids arrived, such as quicksand, magnets/electricity, specimens in jars, and magic goo.

When the "scientists" entered the basement "lab", their names were typed into the computer and their eyes "scanned" with a glowstick as they placed their hand on the hand scanner (the computer would say “Scientist Frannie, you have been approved to enter the Lab!”)

Each kid received a lab coat (a white t-shirt cut in half), name tag, safety goggles and lab duotang.

Here are some photos of the lab setup:

There were approximately 10 experiments, and while Krista warns that there was a lot of prep work, it was also a lot of fun for the kids...and educational too! (Have I mentioned she's a fellow teacher?)

  • bubbling lava lamps
  • floating m and m’s
  • elephants toothpaste
  • dissecting a worm (gummy worm with tweezers)
  • exploding Ivory soap in microwave
  • diffusion of food colouring in test tubes
  • dancing colours (milk, food colouring and dish soap)
  • making snow (Steve Spangler kit)
  • big finish: outside on the lawn - egg drop (Newton's law) and of course the diet coke and mentos eruption, which was a huge favourite

No party of Krista's would be complete without some themed food. In this case, the cake was made in the shape of a beaker...

...and one of the drink options was 7-Up with Pop Rocks poured on top...which the kids loved! 

To finish things off, the little scientists left with with a loot bag (shown below, containing a book about Science, grow your own Crystal kit, pop rocks, silly straw, and a grow animal), to continue the fun and learning at home. 

Krista credits the blog "Come Together Kids" for a lot of her inspiration for this party, which you can check out at: http://www.cometogetherkids.com/2012/02/super-science-birthday-party.html

Thanks for another fun and creative party theme, Krista! If you missed them, you can catch up on all of Krista's ideas (plus a couple of mine - I'm not totally useless as a party-planner) at the link below.

Perfect Party Roundup (polkadots, pajamas, rock stars, butterflies...you'll find tons of themes here!)

Stay tuned...another "amazing" (hint, hint) party theme coming soon!

Saturday, May 17

Hair Donation Day - The Exciting Recap!

It finally happened! Yesterday was our Wigs For Kids assembly at school, where 8 brave young girls (and one secretly apprehensive teacher) cut off 10" ponytails to be donated to make wigs for children in need!

We kicked off our initiative back in the fall, to give kids a chance to get growing...and they sure did! Out of less than 90 girls in our school, 8 rose to the challenge and made the commitment, while several others were willing, but their hair length didn't make the cut. So to speak. But they're lined up for next year!

Here is the "before" of Maggie, Mommy and Frannie, the morning of the big event:

At 1:00 pm, our entire school gathered to watch the kids make their generous donation.(A special mention to our fantastic student emcees and DJ, who read profiles of each student and kept the assembly hopping with great tunes.)

Of course, I made an after-school appointment at a real salon, where the girls and I had our new "dos" perfected. While I think Frannie and Maggie both look absolutely adorable (and believe me, it took the hairdressers a fair bit of work to patch up the hack job I did to them on stage!) I'm still not quite sure about my short hair. I've never had it this short in my life (maybe Grade 1?) and the hairdresser actually needed a RAZOR to trim up the back, which freaked me out just a little bit. I'll readily admit that I desperately needed a cut, as my locks were getting very straggly, but I'm more a mid-length kinda gal.

And yes, these photos were taken at a restaurant, which one of my friends immediately remarked on when I texted them to her. Did you really think I would cook after such a big day?

This whole experience really has sparked a sense of empathy, not only in the girls, but in me as well. The night before the event, I was staring at Maggie on the couch thinking "Oh, she looks so pretty with her long hair..." when a little voice in my brain quickly countered with "So you're sad that your healthy child is going to have a bob? Can you imagine if her hair was gone entirely, because of some sort of medical condition?"

Then this morning, waking up, one of my first thoughts was "I don't like my hair short...", immediately followed by "Poor you, would you like it better if it were all falling out, because of your CHEMO?" My perspective returned pretty quickly.

I wanted to put together a little surprise for all eight girls who participated in our Wigs For Kids program, and when I put the call out to my friends in the PR world, several were quick to jump on board in support with donations for a gift bag.

The kids received the following, thanks to our generous donors:

A gift card for McDonald's Canada, with some Ronald McDonald House stickers and tattoos for several of our classes:

Attractions tickets ($30 worth) for Sportsland at Santa's Village, which offers Go-Karts, Mini-Putt, Batting Challenge, Laser Tag, Arcade, and the new Bungee Trampoline and Rock Climbing Wall.

Hair products from Splat, including Hair Chalks, Hair Extension Clips (which my girls already have in their hair!) and Washable Hair Colour, to have some fun with their new styles:

Visible Lip Health Overnight Renewal Therapy from Polysporin (thanks ApexPR):

A big thank you to these kind companies, and to the 8 young girls for their amazing donations. The hair is all being sent to the Wigs For Kids program at Continental Hair in Toronto, to be made into wigs for children with medical-related hair loss, and I want to give them a shout-out for their work as well.

And to you, my readers, I really appreciate all of your support too! Your emails and social media engagement with this event have meant a great deal to me and my daughters!

Monday, May 5

Mommy and Her Girl on First Communion

I'm rarely wordless, but after a wonderfully full weekend this is all I have for you today:

Have a fantastic week, everyone!

P.S. Frannie was quite tickled that her First Communion photo drew one of the largest ever number of "Likes" on This Mom Loves' Facebook page, as well as many comments. Thanks for that!

Thursday, May 1

The Happiness Project: May (P.S. If Tim's makes you happy, read this!)

In her book "The Happiness Project", author Gretchen Rubin spent May focused on "Be Serious About Play: Leisure", which was another interesting topic for me, after I tried to "Lighten Up" last month!

Her goals:

  • Find more fun
  • Take time to be silly
  • Go off the path
  • Start a collection

Okay, these ones are going to be tough!

Finding more fun: 

Yes, I should definitely make time for fun. But I also don't think that I need to conform to what other people consider fun to be. Believe it or not, I am usually having "fun" when together with small groups of friends, family, or coworkers although I'm usually not drinking alcohol. Seriously. I may not be dancing on the table or doing shots off...well, I won't tell that story...but you don't need to worry if I'm having fun, because I am. 

To me, organized sports are not fun. Watching them isn't much better, unless it's the Habs and especially if it's playoffs. Watching my own offspring pick daisies in the soccer field is no more or less painful than seeing professionals in action. 

Gretchen writes that for her, something fun would pass the following test: "I looked forward to it; I found it energizing, not draining; and I didn't feel guilty about it later."

"Fun" for me is leisure time (movies, hot baths, restaurant dinners, reading great books and magazines) as well as celebrity-related pursuits: going behind the scenes at TV shows, attending to the Toronto International Film Festival, etc. "Fun" is helping my daughters organize their toys; it is NOT playing with said daughters and toys. Organizing pretty much anything is actually fun for me, as I have shared in my Twitter bio.

While I am confident in the things I like to do for "Kate fun", I also need to remember that others may define fun differently, and sometimes to contribute to their happiness, I need to get outside my comfort zone: attend a large social function with strangers, participate in something athletic, or (the horror) spend time outside when it's less than 25 degrees Celsius. 

Take time to be silly:

I'm not sure that anyone in real life has ever referred to me as "silly". Perhaps in the context of "you're worrying too much about that, don't be silly", but definitely not in the goofy, entertaining kind of way. OH! But I do a great Irish accent, which I pull out at St. Patrick's Day when reading themed books to my children at home and at school. Does that count? Okay, I'll work on it.

Go off the path:

I am willing to venture off the path when it comes to learning/trying new things related to my career(s), but there are many areas where I am stuck in a rut. Meals, for example, since I'm such a picky eater. Music too - pop and country are my standbys. I branch out in terms of authors, but stick closely to suspense, chick lit and nonfiction (self-help style and celeb bios). These are all areas where I can expand my horizons, and I'm sure it would be good for me...but would it lead to more happiness? I suppose I could discover something new that I never thought I would love...but I could also feel pressure to trudge through a book I don't like, or music I don't enjoy. As far as the food preferences go...I may have some very interesting and exciting news to share on that front in the future, but I'll leave you hanging for now.

Start a collection:

Do shoes count?

When I was young, I love to cut out clippings of my favourite stars and keep albums, but these days I don't think I could handle the overwhelming availability of information and products. Because of the web, you could never possibly have every photo or clipping about someone (not that my interests still lie in that sort of collection) but I wouldn't want to start amassing items that can be found in abundance on eBay. There's no thrill of the hunt and excitement in the find. Maybe I should collect something a little more rare...diamonds perhaps?

I'm too much of a clutterphobe to collect anything knickknacky, and I'm not very sentimental about objects at all, but I see Rubin's point that a collection "provides a mission,  a reason to visit new places, the excitement of the chase, a field of expertise (no matter how trivial), and, often, a bond with other people."

My question for you today, dear readers, is: what do you collect? Do you get happiness from your collection? Okay, fine, that's two questions, but they're not long. I'd love to read your answers, and just for "fun", I'll choose one commenter to win a $10 gift card for Tim Horton's! Share your "collection" by May 16th for your chance to win, and make sure you leave a way for me to contact you!