Saturday, December 27

My Little Pony DVDs Giveaway: The Original Movie AND My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks

Today I have a really fun giveaway: the original "The My Little Pony Movie" on DVD (the 30th anniversary edition - WHAT?), as well as the most recent DVD, "My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks" (wouldn't it be fun to compare with your little ones?)

As a girl, I LOVED My Little Pony, and I have vivid memories of the Christmas when I received the stable, all set up by Santa and waiting to be enjoyed. It's been so fun to watch my own daughters play with the same toys I cherished as a child.

When Maggie was born, a friend of the family came over to visit, and saw Frannie playing with her ponies. "Oh, is that My Little Pony?" she asked. "NO!" replied Frannie. "It's MY little pony!"

Here's the plot of the original movie (to refresh your memory):

The first day of Spring is on its way and the Little Ponies are preparing for it with a big festival. But all the fun may come to an end if the witch Hydia has her way! Can the Ponies defeat Hydia and her evil daughters, Reeka and Draggle? More importantly, can they save Ponyland from the witches’ concoction, the strange purple goo called Smooze, that’s threatening to bury the whole town?

And the newest video:

Music rules and rainbows rock as Twilight Sparkle and pals compete for the top spot in the Canterlot High "Mane Event" talent show. The girls must rock their way to the top and outshine rival Adagio Dazzle and her band The Dazzlings to restore harmony back to Canterlot High.

If you'd like to win both DVDs for your little pony-lovers, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me your favourite childhood toy. Bonus entries (leave separate comments for each) if you follow This Mom Loves on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or through email (max 5 entries). Apologies for the captcha you have to type in each time, but there are way too many spam comments on the blog if I turn it off.

The contest will be open until Saturday, January 3rd at 11:59 pm Eastern, after which time a winner will be chosen through random number generation. Good luck!

Thursday, December 25

BREAKING NEWS: Canadian Tire Saves Santa!

When I was young, I assumed Canadian Tire would never be a store that interested me. When would I ever want to buy car stuff? I didn't realize then, as I do now, that there's so much more to Canadian Tire than tires (not to mention that one day I would be excited to have a vehicle!)

While it's a popular destination for us year-round (we've purchased everything from cleaning supplies to kitchenware to electronics there - including when we pulled in to pick up a portable DVD player out of desperation on our drive to the East Coast with two young children), Canadian Tire is also Canada's one-stop Christmas store. When my mom was helping me ramp up my decorations this holiday season, she headed to Canadian Tire and picked up some ornaments, faux greenery, and a gorgeous wreath (for very reasonable prices, let me add).

Canadian Tire has been evolving to meet their shoppers' needs for 90 years now (and no, my dear children, I was not alive when they opened). At Christmas time especially, customers can find gifts, decorations and entertaining necessities all under one roof - very handy when time is of the essence.

Now sure, you may already have been aware of how Canadian Tire helps us get ready for the holidays, but here's something you didn't know: last night they stepped up their game even more...saving Christmas for everyone!

What you see below is a video showing how Canadian Tire was able to make emergency repairs on Santa's sleigh to ensure that Christmas could arrive on time! (I bet you had no idea that those gifts under the tree almost didn't get there!)

Wow - I know my daughters are certainly grateful that Santa got back in the air again, and that their Barbie Deluxe Camper, Ever After High Doll and full-to-the-brim stocking stuffers made it to our house. Thanks, Canadian Tire, and Merry Christmas, everyone!

P.S. You've gotta figure that Canada's Christmas store will also be Canada's Boxing Week store...I know I'm going to look for some deals on holiday items to put away for next year!

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Canadian Tire, but the opinions, as always, are my own. For more information, please visit Feel free to share the news with the hashtag #CTSavesSanta

Tuesday, December 23

My Olay Regenerist Experiment Begins

My longtime readers know that I've been self-conscious of my skin ever since the acne days of the early- to mid-nineties (even long after the acne disappeared). I'm always on the hunt for products that could help improve the tone and texture of my skin (especially the fine lines that keep appearing out of nowhere), and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to try out the Olay Regenerist line.

I honestly feel that you can find drug store beauty products that meet (or even surpass) the results of those found in department stores or dermatologists' offices, for a fraction of the cost. Plus, Olay is an extremely well-reviewed company, so I'm eager to give them a try. I also believe that while mixing and matching products from different companies may not hurt, using items from the same line can only be beneficial.

That said, Christmas came early on the last day of school, and I arrived home to find these products waiting for me:

Embedded image permalink

I'm hoping that the slower pace of holidays will help me get into the routine of applying products in the morning and night, in the recommended order:

1. Micro-Sculpting Scrub Cleanser (I may only use this every other day, alternating it with my tried-and-true gentle Cetaphil, as the "scrub" part might be too intense for my sensitive cheeks. When I use scrubs, I tend to go easy in that area, and put a little more effort into the t-zone.)

2. Fragrance-Free Renerating Serum (serums always go on before creams, I have learned)

3. Anti-Aging Eye Roller (click and roll - sounds like fun!)

4. Fragrance-Free Micro-Sculpting Cream

5. Wrinkle and Pore Vanisher (this one's just for daytime as it gives an instant cosmetic benefit; not available in Canada until next month)

After just one full day using Olay Regenerist, my first reactions are:
  • Fragrance-free is refreshing, though psychologically I think there's something about a medicinal smell to make you think that your product will be effective (or maybe that's just me!) Since I'm going to wear the products day and night, I am glad they're scent-free.(Did you know Canadian women prefer fragrance-free products more than American women do? There's your fact of the day.)
  • The design of the packaging is appealing to me (something I've been paying more and more attention to lately). To me it says: "This is a serious product for a grown-up woman." (As opposed to, for example, "This is a fun product for a teenager".) It would be more environmentally-friendly, of course, if there were less packaging, but as I eye the wrapped gifts for my children under the tree, I know that beauty companies aren't the first ones I want to lobby for less plastic and cardboard. At least the instructions are printed directly on the box and/or product, eliminating the use of wasteful inserts.
  • The Wrinkle and Pore Vanisher is a fun little product - much like spackle for the face! Apply it before going out, and it really does fill the lines and pores instantly.

I'll be back in a few weeks to give you my thoughts on the system, and the results I may (or may not) have achieved. Stay tuned!

P.S. I feel it's worth mentioning here that I never lament my skin's imperfections in front of my daughters. They certainly see the products I review for the blog, and they know I've been using some new creams, but I am very careful to keep the negative self-talk (when, on occasion, it speaks up) in my head.

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

Sunday, December 21

My New Favourite Thing: Jamberry Nail Wraps

Disclosure: This product was not a blog freebie; I'm a happy paying customer. It's too bad I feel the need to state that up front, because hopefully my readers know that I tell the truth about a product either way, but for some this may make my opinion more legit. However, if Jamberry wants to send me some new designs free of charge, I certainly won't say no!

The credit for my new discovery goes to my friend/school parent Amanda. As we sat in the old-fashioned school house during a class trip to Lang Pioneer Village, my eyes were drawn to her festive nails (just like girls of the 1800's, right? Okay, maybe not.) She told me they were Jamberry Nail Wraps, and I had to know more!

Amanda put me in contact with her supplier  (doesn't that sound seedy?) Lindsey and we managed to work the deal over email, money transfer and snail mail. Here's what I love:

  • Variety of designs: I chose Candy Cane, Cherry Ice, Simply Daisy and Happy-Go-Lucky. 

Cherry Ice (there are lots of solids - matte, glossy and sparkly - if you aren't into designs)

Happy Go Lucky

Simply Daisy

  • Speedy shipping: this is because I ordered directly from the consultant ( who mailed my order through Canada Post the next day (I had to choose from designs she had in stock), but their online delivery time isn't too bad either.

  • Cost-effectiveness: I was paying $40 including tip for my gel manicures (regular salon manis are a waste of money since they chip the next day, and I don't even bother with regular polish at home anymore). These nail wraps were $15 - 17 per sheet, and as you can see in the photo you get enough stickers to do at least 3 applications (can be used on fingers and toes). Plus now I can do them in front of the TV instead of going out!

  • Ease of application. I pulled these out of the mailbox one day after school, and I had an hour to get ready for my CHEX Daily appearance. Makeup was essential, but I had to make a quick decision: curl hair or apply nail wraps? The nails won, as you can see if you watch the segment (host Teresa Kaszuba even asks the cameraman to get a closer look!)  All you do is cut the wrap to fit, blast it with the hair dryer for a few seconds until it's soft, press it onto the nail, trim off the excess, and heat it again for a few seconds to seal it. This all went well when using my right hand to do my left. Once I switched, I realized I am quite inept at operating nail scissors with my non-dominant hand, and the process took a bit longer! The final step (once the nails were cool) was to file down any little bumps that were left from cutting the ends. Overall, it was very simple, especially considering it was my first time, and no worries about wet nails! As soon as I finished I was right out the door.

Link to CHEX Daily segment:

  • Durability. The wraps are promoted to last up to 2 weeks on fingers and 4 weeks on toes. I'm at day 6 right now, with no complaints. A bit of wear is showing at the very tips, but I keep doing a quick file any time a nail or wrap shows signs of a snag. (I'm sure they'll get better each time, as I get more skilled at the application!)
Thanks for the recommendation, Amanda, and for the great products and service, Lindsey!

To get answers to FAQ's, go here:

Next, I'd like to get some Jamberry Juniors for the girls to try out (or maybe even one of the Mommy and Me designs). I occasionally let them paint their nails, but the "safe" kiddie polishes start coming off within hours. Though it does require some nail polish remover to get these wraps off, I still prefer that to having them use adult polish - often full of chemicals, takes so long to dry, and likely to rub off or spill in the process. You know how I hate messes!

Saturday, December 20

Chocolate Trifle - Easy and Delicious!

I know none of my regular readers are here for the recipes...though I think there was one back in 2012. This one, however, is worth sharing.

I've been making this recipe for years and it has always been a hit! I even used it as my contribution to the Class Cookbook that my student teacher recently assembled as part of our Social Studies program (family traditions). It's a combination of a few different recipes and I don't have anyone to credit specifically, but please let me know if you feel I should be acknowledging someone here.

  • one chocolate cake or brownie mix (or premade product: two-bite brownies work really well!) 
  • one instant chocolate pudding mix
  • one tub whipped topping (buy "Light" if it makes you feel better!)
  • 5 Skor bars (or chocolate bars of your choice)

  • Bake chocolate cake or brownies according to directions (I used to do this the day before so cake would be cool and easy to cut; now I just use the two-bite brownies!) 
  • Thaw whipped topping
  • Cut cake/brownies into small cubes 
  • Chop Skor Bars into small pieces
  • Make pudding according to directions
  • Layer the ingredients: cake on the bottom, then pudding, whipped topping, and Skor pieces. Repeat.


Thursday, December 18

My Dream Christmas List - Just For Fun!

Of course I want the obvious, altruistic things for Christmas:

1. World peace
2. End to cancer (and all disease, while we're at it)
3. Every child well-fed and well-read (I was going to say no child hungry or illiterate, but the rhyming is much more catchy).

Today, though, I'm sharing my selfish, silly, materialistic dream list, just for your amusement.

1. Clarisonic Mia

The Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Cleansing System was recommended to me by my esthetician at Euphoria Wellness Spa, and I'm a sucker for anything that might improve my skin. I know Olay and Clinque make similar products - I wonder if the results are the same? (This is your prompt to let me know if you've tried any of them!)

Note: Since I first drafted this post, I learned that I'm going to have a chance to work with a very well-respected beauty company to review some skin care products in the new year. I can't wait to share my experience with you!

2. A classic Smythe Jacket

I fell in love with Smythe jackets several years ago when I discovered designer Sarah Richardson, who was wearing them on almost every episode of her TV shows. (You can read my interview with Sarah here.) Her sidekick Tommy Smythe's sister Christie Smythe (with Andrea Lenczner) founded the Canadian label, worn by celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock and even Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge! Alas, they are not in my price range.

3. Christian Louboutin Black Pumps

It's a DREAM list, remember? I wouldn't really want to spend two months of my family's grocery budget on one pair of shoes. Though actually, I'm being practical here choosing something really wearable, as opposed to some of the more colourful (and skyscraper-height) designs out there. Having these shoes would mean that when I'm on TV, I can cross my legs and the trademark red bottoms will catch everyone's eye. Because of course that sort of thing really matters to the viewers of CHEX Daily, right?

Some runner-up gifts (which I may actually see under my tree):

  • A Fitbit. My mom has been using one, and what I love best is how it can track your sleep - so much more important to me than my exercise!
  • "All My Puny Sorrows" by Miriam Toews. I keep seeing this book recommended on Twitter (by people who have the same taste in books as I do).
  • "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. I'll admit it, I'm much more interested now that Reese Witherspoon portrays the author in the feature film.

What would be on your fantasy Christmas list? I'm sure you've been busy shopping for all of your loved ones...why not take a minute to dream about what you would like to receive?

Wednesday, December 17

Inspire Your Kids To Read!

In my latest CHEX Daily segment, I'm chatting with hosts Teresa Kaszuba and Mike Judson about how to motivate and inspire your child to read over the holidays (or anytime!) I'm also showing some great recommendations, whether your child is just starting to read words, or is older and having trouble finding material that interests him. Plus, I'm showing off some totally awesome festive nails...more about that in another post!

One reco:

Monday, December 15

My Favourite Holiday Books - Video

Today I'm sharing a video where I chat about my favourite holiday books (from an extensive collection!) My class looked on as I recorded the video and one student even got to play videographer (so my apologies for any shaking, but it was worth it for his experience!)

What's your favourite holiday book? I'd love some new ideas!

Tuesday, December 9

The Virgin Mary's Diary: Kids Write the Cutest Things

I gave my kids a writing assignment: after listening to the Gospel account of when Mary learned she would be giving birth to Jesus, students were asked to complete a diary entry from Mary's point of view. Here's one particularly astute entry, shared (as always) with parental permission. Love it!

Sunday, December 7

Should Schools Enforce Dress Codes? My CBC Radio "The 180" Interview

Last week, I was interviewed by Jim Brown at the CBC Radio show "The 180" about dress codes in schools. Regular readers already know my thoughts, as I've written about them before here (which is how the show found me):

When looking at events taking place at other schools (currently being covered in the media) my overall analysis is that the dress codes aren't the problem. How they are being explained is an issue (because no, dress codes do not exist so that boys can focus/control themselves or because there's anything wrong with the female body) as well as how they're enforced. I would be upset too if girls were always being taken to task while the boys' infractions were ignored, if indeed that is the case.

The show presented both sides of the argument, and I'd love to know what you think - whether you agree or (respectfully) disagree!

(Click "Listen" to hear the interviews)

Friday, December 5

The Possible Police: Cute Children's Title

In "The Possible Police" (written by Wylde Scott and illustrated by Hannah K. Shuping) a child's dreams are called into question by the eponymous authorities:

"You simply can't, it's just not done..."
"Give up your hope and face the facts!"

However, the child knows better, with reponses like:

"You have not seen, you do not know, what I can do, where I can go..."
"No one can stop me."

The soft, hazy artwork is pleasing, though my my grownup, writer's brain was fixated on the rhyming pattern that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. The kids, however, loved the whole thing!

In fact, the book led to some great carpet discussion about what lessons we learned, with feedback (from seven and eight year olds) like:

"I learned that I can do anything I want to do."

"I learned that dreams can come true."

And, most interestingly:

"I learned that the grownups aren't always right."


Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the book for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Wednesday, December 3

Christmas Gift Ideas For Teachers

In my latest CHEX Daily segment, I sit down with hosts Teresa Kaszuba and Mike Judson to chat about Christmas gifts for teachers:

Are they necessary?
What do teachers really appreciate? (It might not be what you think!)
What if you're on a budget?
How can you acknowledge support staff?
And (since Mike asks!) what my least favourite gift is...though please be assured I really do appreciate the thought, no matter what! (Mike, husband of a teacher, also shares a great gift his wife received!)

By the way, when I sent out a tweet asking for others to share their Christmas gift ideas for teachers, David Smolyn from The Body Shop in Peterborough (@TBS_Ptbo) was quick to tweet back to suggest their "Glazed Apple gift, packaged in a fun and reusable apple inspired tin. Only $20!" Because it can be hard to get people to take the time to reply to tweets, I thought I'd give him a shout-out here!

Usually after my segments I come home and type out any of the points from my notes that I missed, but we managed to pack a lot of ideas into four minutes!

One popular suggestion we didn't discuss was ornaments. Anything with the year and/or the child's name makes it a real keepsake (sometimes there are kiosks at the mall for personalization), and it can also be neat to select one that is meaningful to the teacher in some way: a guitar for the music teacher, a Montreal Canadiens ornament for the (discerning) hockey fan, etc.

My personal favourites: I start my segment by sharing my very favourite gift - which doesn't cost a penny! However, if you're going to spend money, charitable donations are fabulous (anything that provides food, books or healthcare to kids tops my list), I love gift cards (I don't find them impersonal; I promise - Chapters, Tim's, restaurants, spa, they're all good!) and chocolate never goes to waste at my house. Who am I kidding, it doesn't get past my desk! Quite honestly, I am honoured when families take the time to acknowledge me in any way at Christmas. You can't go wrong!