EVEN WITH AN ALLERGY, OUR KIDS LOVE EATING ALL KINDS OF FOODS!

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You really cannot ever be fully prepared for what comes along with motherhood.  When my first baby was born, we noticed that he was not a happy camper, and he was later diagnosed with a milk allergy.  If milk was in anything he ate or drank, he would have a reaction within the day, and it could take up to three days for the inflammation to subside.  Due to this, our entire eating habits changed. Over the years, our family has transitioned from no dairy, to vegetarian to plant-based. This was initially to help our son, and he soon was quickly able to recognize the foods he could or could not eat.  He knew to ask at parties if foods had dairy in them, and if he could not get a definite answer, he’d stay away.

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I knew this was something he got used to over the years, but it wasn’t until his 6th birthday party that dealing with allergies took a unique twist.  Our son wanted to invite a friend of his from school to his birthday party, however he had a very long list of severe allergies, so he was usually unable to eat at friends’ parties.  My son was set on us making him an allergy friendly party, right down to the cake so his little friend could partake in the entire party. So we did.

This meant a few things.  First off, we had to prepare our kitchen for the food.  Ensuring that there were no allergens and we did a thorough clean.  We checked all food labels, and even went further to make sure if there was an ingredient that we were not quite sure of, to look it up.  We have learned over the years that milk and milk derived ingredients can be hidden in unique names such as:

Casein & caseinates — ammonium caseinate, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed casein, iron caseinate magnesium caseinate, potassium caseinate, sodium caseinate, zinc caseinate, Hydrolysates — casein hydrolysate, milk protein hydrolysate, protein hydrolysate, whey hydrolysate, whey protein hydrolysate … just to name a few.

 

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So after we did the “triple check” -- once at the store before buying it, once when you get home and put it away, and again before you serve or eat the product, we were off to the races.  We made some yummy treats that all of the children could enjoy, and a cake with non-dairy icing! Yum!

As a mom of a child with an allergy, I am constantly trying to learn new recipes to keep meal time fun. But what is equally important is to be aware of how to keep my kitchen safe for my son and his friends with food allergies.  Recently we had the chance to join expert home cook and allergy awareness advocate Thea Vanherwaarden and Team NASCAR driver/ Food Allergy Canada ambassador, and NASCAR driver Alex Tagliani to learn some new allergy- friendly recipes and tips, which as a fellow allergy advocate, I wanted to share with all our mom-tribe today.

 

Melissa’s favorite safety tips when dealing with a food allergy:

  1. Read food labels each and every time you buy something. Manufacturers can change their production process and alter their products at any time

  2. Cook meals that are free of the person’s allergens first, using separate cookware and serving utensils. Keep the food covered in a space where it will not be splashed or come into contact with other foods.

  3. Use two different cutting boards: one dedicated to allergy-safe meal preparation.

  4. Wash hands often with soap and water

*Note: Even with all your kitchen precautions, you may still come in contact with your allergen. Be sure to always be prepared by carrying an epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times.
Disclosure: Epinephrine auto-injectors are indicated for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis. This product may not be right for you. Always read and follow the label.

 

RECIPES

Acai bowl

A refreshing addition to breakfast or any meal, easy and quick to make. The fresh fruit and seed toppings are simply gorgeous. Download this recipe!

Sushi

Inspired by west coast culinary fusion, this sushi calls for chicken instead of fish. Let your creativity loose for inspiring additional filling ideas. Download this recipe

Chicken tacos with mango salsa and chickpea avocado crema

These chicken tacos will have any guest asking for more. A pop of spice from the chicken is cooled down perfectly with a creamy chickpea and avocado crema. Serve with a side of tradition­al black beans and you have yourself a Mexican fiesta. Download this recipe!

 

If you know of a mom who has a little one with an allergy or you are a mama trying to cook for someone with an allergy, share this blog and head to foodallergycanada.ca/SummerofTAG for more allergy-friendly recipes and tips on how to stay safe in the kitchen.

 

This post is sponsored by Pfizer Canada. All views and opinions are my own.

How Hand-Me-Downy Clothing Swap Got Us the Most Value from Our Kids' Clothes

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If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that kids grow up way too fast and are constantly outgrowing their clothes. That’s why we decided to share our number one tip for getting the most value out of our kids’ clothes: we always add Downy Fabric Conditioner to the wash! With six kids between us, our families rely on hand me downs and are constantly cycling kids’ wardrobes between each other. Not only does it benefit our wallet – but the planet, too. Sustainability is important to both of us, and we are conscious of the actions we take and the impact they have on the planet.

Why? We couldn’t believe that North Americans send 10.5 million tonnes of textiles to the landfill every year. In Canada alone, if all clothing put into landfills was gathered together, it would fill the Rogers Centre three times. Scary! Giving and receiving hand-me-downs helps keep clothes out of landfills longer, and by doing so – you help the environment!

If your kids are as active as ours are, you’re probably doing a lot of laundry, too! When you wash with Tide and Downy together, you keep clothes looking newer 50% longer. This combo helps protect our kids’ clothing so they can be worn, re-worn and handed down and loved even longer and not worn out and thrown out too soon! We then can pass our favourite pieces down in our own families and friends, encouraging them to continue the hand-me-down tradition!

How does Downy work so well? It’s designed to protect clothes from stretching, fading and fuzz, helping keep our kids’ clothing in great shape for handing down to others

To make hand me downs more fun and engaging, we recommend throwing a party to swap clothes. We recently hosted our own Hand-Me-Downy Kids’ Clothing Swap Party, where each mom was invited to bring a bag of their used kids’ clothes. As a result, we each walked away with a season’s worth of new stuff, without spending a dime. It’s a fantastic idea that can save you time, money. You also feel good knowing that you are helping the environment and keeping clothes out of the landfills for as long as possible.

 

Interested in hosting your own Hand-Me-Downy Kids’ Clothing Swap Party? Simply visit http://handmedowny.ca for more information on Downy Fabric Conditioner and to receive a $2-off coupon so you can grab your own bottle. There are also some great tips for how to throw your own swap party. Because as moms, who wouldn’t like an excellent reason to have a girl’s get together!?

 

XO Vanessa+Melissa

#HandMeDowny #Ad

 

Making introducing solids fun for baby - with Plant-Based Options! | #PlaytexMoms 

Recently, I’ve heard moms asking how they can switch out dairy and meat for more plant-based options when they are introducing foods to babe.  So  #ForBetterBeginnings around starting solids. I thought I would give 5 tips for making starting mealtime with baby easy, fun and also include some plant-based options!

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1. Have Fun!  Choose mealtime plates, bowls, and spoons that are colourful and fun!  Your little one will be so excited that they finally get to join the big people at meal time, this is the icing on the cake.  Make sure when you are selecting cutlery for first-time feeders to choose a spoon with a Soft tip, which is gentle on baby’s delicate gums and teeth.  All of my littles have just loved the Playtex® Infant Spoons, which also features a flat soft edge- that make it easy to wipe food off little mouths.

2. Try different textures.  When you are ready to feed baby more than one item at meal time, focus on different textures, and move away from only feeding purees.  This is key to do before your little one loses interest in learning to chew and swallow solid foods.  We like to use the Playtex® Mealtime Use 3 Ways Plate.  It keeps the different textures separate and transfers easily to a fridge if not all the food is finished.

3. Let your baby feed themselves. YES this will be messy, yes it will take longer, but it is so much fun, and SO cute to watch! Your little one is full of curiosity now, so let them explore what it feels like to hold the spoons, squish the foods in their hands or even rub it all over their face!  

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4. Get creative.  Protein and fat do not have to come from meat and dairy sources.  You can toss chia seeds or hemp seeds into your baby's food.  You can also sprinkle ground flax seeds into a bowl of smashed avocado.  Beans, lentils, and peas are other amazing sources of easily digestible protein.

5. Drink Water! Make sure to have your baby sipping water once solids are introduced.  This will help prevent constipation!  Malachi has loved the Playtex® Sipsters® Stage 1 Soft Spout Cup because he can use the handles to hold his sippy cup all by himself!  

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So those are my tips for introducing solids with plant-based options, share yours in the comments below!

xo

Melissa

Certified Holistic Health Coach- Plant Based Nutritionist

3rd Times A Charm ... The Best Bottle For A Stay At Home Working Mama! #Forbetterbeginnings

It never dawned on me that with my third baby, things that I was good at with baby one and two, I might not be as good at, or even successful with the third time around. That saying, “third times a charm", rings a bell, however with this little guy, he had is own agenda.  

Each baby truly is so different, and nothing could be more true with our third.  After a high risk pregnancy, a premature birth, and a short stint in the NICU, my little man arrived home calm, and happy to be here!  He slept, ate and cuddled like clock work and this mama had felt like she hit the jackpot.  With a previous GERD baby, and one COLIC baby, my husband and I were expecting it to be way different.  However, while baby was rather easy, my milk production and breast feeding was not.

My milk came in late, and because he was premature I had to pump around the clock.  Along with that, while in the NICU he was being supplemented via NG tube every three hours so his blood sugars would not crash.   

When we were finally released he was nursing just fine, and things seemed perfect.  However, as each week passed he hit rapid growth spurts, and my milk could not keep up.  I knew as a third time mom what I needed to do, I just wanted my baby to be fed and happy.

I turned to the bottles which I trusted for all of my children.  7 years ago with my colic son (in image below) we used the Playtex Baby™ Nurser® with Drop-Ins® Liners. He loved those bottles, and mama felt the same way.  I also loved using the Playtex Baby™ VentAire®, which has a unique  Anti-Colic Bottom Vent helps prevent air ingestion for less gas, spit-up and fussiness! (Once you have had a colic baby you know just how important this is!)

I also looked to Playtex Baby for the soothers, because in the NICU all the babies are given soothers.  So I made sure to transition him to a Playtex® Ortho-Pro® Pacifier which was perfect for his tiny mouth.

 

I knew with the sterile liners, it was one less step for mommy and daddy when prepping bottles.  Daddy also felt more confident at just how easy it was to pop in a liner and have a bottle ready to go right away.

As a busy working mom of three, only needing to sterile nipples quickly in the microwave, is one reason I found the Playtex Baby™ Nurser® with Drop-Ins® Liners so much more convenient. 

 Along with that, because I am a working mama, my babe joins us on filming days, in meetings or comes along for road trips.  Instead of having to pack a handful of bulky bottles, the liners allow me to only bring one nurser bottle, a baggie of sterile nipples and a few liners!  Easy!

Having a colic baby in the past I have dealt with the gassy bubbles a well!  This was another reason why we loved the PlaytexBaby™ Nurser® bottle.  With the liners, we are able to push all the air out of the bottle, meaning no air was getting into our little ones tummy.

Lastly, as a third time mom I knew that giving the other two children opportunities to share in special moments like feeding the baby would be key to making a happy transition once the baby arrived.   

One of the tips we received on our social media, when asking how to help our youngest adjust to a new baby- was to let her feed him.  This was an amazing idea, as you can see in our vlog below- she just LOVED that chance when she got to feed her little baby brother.

Oh, actually I have one more reason why I loved having baby on the bottle.  It meant that mama could actually get some down time or a break because now anyone could help with the feeds!  Mamas, if this is baby one for you, I can’t tell you just how important that is (and how amazing it feels).

xo

Melissa

#Forbetterbeginnings

#PlaytexMOMS

If you are looking for a bottle to help with colic or that are super easy to use (especially for hubby) you can find them here:

·         Nurser Bottles amazon.CA: http://tr4ckit.com/ivr3

·         Nurser Bottles toysrus.CA: http://tr4ckit.com/f38m

·         Nurser Bottles walmart.CA: http://tr4ckit.com/6sd5

·         Nurser Bottles playtexbaby.cahttp://tr4ckit.com/4wot

·         Soothers amazon.CA: http://tr4ckit.com/k68i

·         Soothers playtexbaby.CA: http://tr4ckit.com/lclg

 

 

Potty Training Tips from our #MamaTribe

One thing we never claim is to be "Mommy" experts, but we do have 5 babes between us and we love to share our experiences. You could call us the "conduit" of information for our mama tribe.  So when it came to potty training, we reached out to our own #MAMATribe and the experts over at Pull-Ups, for some amazing tips and accessories for making Potty training fun and successful.

Vanessa + Melissa Tips:

1. Don't force it. When they've had enough, stop, give a break and start again.

2. Create a sticker rewards board and let your little one help you make it. Once they start using the potty, allow them to choose any sticker to post on the rewards board.

3. Accidents happen, don't get upset. You don't want your little to feel discouraged.

4. Find some great potty training books and make it fun! 

Our #MamaTribe Tips!

Smarties....yep bribery worked for us. Also staying home all weekend and letting her run around with no pants, or diapers on.  All three were pretty much ready to go after 3 days. With the exception of a few accidents here and there, which was acceptable

~Nicki, Mother of 3

Practice routine. Kids are amazing learners, especially when they have a routine. I was so shocked when I first saw my daughter at her daycare.  She went potty and jumped right off to wash her hands without anyone asking her! Go over what they should do lots of times, so they can easily remember
~ Sarah, mother of 2.

I would say, every child is different and they respond differently to techniques used. Sticker charts worked well around here and allowing them to walk around naked for a while until they could tell they needed to use the potty.

~ Kristy, mother of 3

As always, make sure to have fun! One way to do that is with Pull-ups and their Pull-Ups Potty Partnership which we used with our little one recently!  For those of you who follow us, this toddler is a ball of energy so potty training had to be lots of fun for her to want to have anything to do with it. So we loved doing the  Potty Personality quiz online to learn just what is the best way to help her learn to use the potty best (she was a puppy in the quiz)!

Take the quiz for your little one and share with us their personality too, or your own #Pottytraining tips!

xo

V+M

5 Fun Finds

If you're anything like us, we're always looking for fun, functional and affordable things that make our lives easier. 

So stay tuned, as we start regularly sharing our fun finds, that we know you'll just love! This week's finds are convenient, fun, and include a great activity to introduce your kids to gardening, by creating their very own vegetable garden.

1. Travel Perfume Bottle

Last month we travelled to L.A. and we all know that traveling with liquids is now a thing of the past (unless its frozen breast milk LOL).  Our favourite drug store has lots of options for little containers to bring shampoos, conditioners and creams, but what about perfume?  We got you covered. Check out this fab little new product, that you can actually transfer your favourite scent into.  No waste, or overbearing smells. Through its unique pumping system, it pumps the perfume directly into your carrying container! This is a must have for any travel moms! We used it, and just loved how easy it was!

2. Thermacell Lantern: Get LOST MosquitoEs!

Vanessa and I both love to entertain outdoors in the summer months, but right around 7 or 8pm those pesky mosquitoes arrive. Let's be honest, mosquitoes are a pain and can end a party. Introducing.. the Thermacell Lantern. Not only does it deter mosquitoes, black flies, and other little pests, they look great!  The lantern uses butane to heat a repellent pad to evenly and effectively vaporize a repellent in the air that biting bugs really HATE!  It does not kill insects, just repels them, and the lanterns are EPA approved!

 http://www.thermacell.com/products/mosquito-repellents/mosquito-repeller-lanterns

http://www.thermacell.com/products/mosquito-repellents/mosquito-repeller-lanterns

3. Kid friendly GPS System

We're not trying to scare you with this one, we promise. But we have to admit, we were intrigued when we heard about it. We're talking about a GPS tracking system for your littles. Personally, this is not something that we would use everyday, but there are times we certainly would. Have you ever been to a packed amusement park with a bunch of crazy kids? Even crowded malls, or a school field trip. Not Your Child, is a new GPS tracking system that your little one can wear on their belt or on a lanyard under their shirt. You can even place it discreetly in their knapsack. This system will immediately notify you if your child is going over a certain speed (ex. in a car they should not be in) or is trackable to their exact location if they get lost (can you say Disney?!)  We recommend this for mama's doing solo travels, day trips, or even camping!

4. Get Ready For Sleepovers with Camp Nana Papa

Summer is the best time for camp outs and sleep overs, but for some little ones a night away from mom and dad can be more scary than fun! That's why we LOVE the Camp Nana Papa book, that includes a firefly stuffy (that has a night light in it!) The story focuses on sibling love, and their special relationship with Nana and Papa. A beautiful read for kids of all ages, and prepares your babes for a night away from mommy and daddy. You might even get a date night with this one! www.campnanapapa.com

5. Self Watering Planter

Okay, so admittedly neither of us have a green thumb. However, we value the importance of teaching our children about food sources. Kids love learning about the earth and where all our food comes from. We just love the self-watering planter we discovered from Lee Valley. In addition to having fun, creating and growing their very own veggie garden, this is excellent way to support healthy eating. Not only is it the perfect way to get kids started in the garden, but the planter can actually can be left for up to three days, cause we know how busy life gets. But don't forget to teach the kids about watering.

http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?p=74022&cat=2,51603

YOU CAN SEE HOW THE SELF WATERING PLANTER FROM CEDARCRAFT WORKS IN OUR SEGMENT WITH HGTV HOST CARSON ARTHUR

We hope you like this week's finds.

xo

Vanessa + Melissa

#MomGuilt.. It's real

Good morning. 

Little stretch.

Say my prayers and read a few bible verses. 

 

Now I'm here on my bed listening to the chatter below, as my babes play in their little kitchen,  while my husband is trying to keep them from a fight over one thing or another. 

I'm here doing, absolutely nothing...

I think they assume I'm folding laundry, or getting ready for church, but I'm not.  I'm liking pictures on Instagram, responding to emails and just lounging on my bed... feeling guilty.

Why?

Why is it that we so often feel guilt in pleasure?  That we feel bad if our husbands have to do a little more than usual? That if we hear the banter downstairs, our first inclination is to stop whatever we were doing for ourselves to rush and make it better? Is it the pride?  Maybe we feel like we can usually do the best job at calming storms, or providing the best breakfast?

Why do we call home and check in when our hubbies have it under control? You know that call...

Me "Hey babe".
Him "Hi mama".
Me "So.... How are the kids?".
Him "...fine".
Me "Did you make lunch?".
Him "No I thought I'd let them starve".
Me (insert eye roll, because I know he's already offended that I'm calling to check up on him, but I continue) "Did you use the boiled eggs I left out? and don't forget the chopped veggies.  The baby has milk in a bottle in the fridge already and don't let little man have any juice before he eats his sandwich. Oh and..."
Him "I got it under control babe".

 

Right? And when you get home, 

Me "Hey Hun, thanks so much for letting me have time to get my hair done".

Wait! Let's stop for a second. Do our husbands say "thanks" for being able to do anything alone?  Do they come home and say, "Thanks for letting me go to the barber!"  Why do we do that?  It's this guilt again!  We feel guilty for asking for time to ourselves and usually when we get it, we are only thinking about our babies and if our husbands are okay.

When we spoke with therapist and Sexologist, Kelly McDonnell-Arnold, she told us that this actually can have negative effects in our SEX and intimate relationships with our husbands! Huh? Who knew?  Yes, she says that Moms tend to lose themselves once the children start popping out! (Can I get an AMEN?)  I used to read books, I used to travel, I loved my coffee breaks in an actual coffee shop just journaling... Now, I barely do any of those things.

 OK, moms don't get me wrong... I would not change my life for the WORLD!  I am beyond blessed. However, this is the truth.  It's easy to lose our sense of self when we become Moms.  Kelly also mentioned that Moms can be over simulated with touch, carrying children, kissing  ouchies, cuddling on the couch, carrying children (yes, I said that twice because mine want to be carried everywhere).

So that intimate touch we used to crave from our partner is actually not required in the same way. Hence ,when Daddy wants some hot mama time, we find ourselves tired and our minds actually just want to shut down. 

Okay, so what do we do?  Watch this vLog we just shared in our #MommyTalk.. Kelly gives us some amazing tips.

We talk with Sexologist Kelly about getting the va-va-voom back in your relationship after KIDS!

Xo 

Melissa 

Is Social Media Taking Over Your Life?

Mom Panel

For the next seven weeks, we have invited a group of Mompreneurs from all walks of life to join our Mom Panel, on Vanessa+Melissa, our parenting talk show on Rogers TV.  This amazing group of women includes a Sleep Coach, a Parenting Coach, a YouTube star, a Stay-At-Home Mom, a Step-Parenting and Blended Family Coach, plus a Child Life Specialist from Sick Kids Hospital. We love their perspectives and look forward to sharing these segments with you. 

Meet our moms 

Amanda Muse: YouTube Super Star and world traveller mom of two.

Christine Shadd: Child Life Specialist and mom of two.

Rene Roth: Business mama, turned stay-at-home mother of three.

Kelly Bourne: Parenting Coach and mom of two.

Jamie Scrimgeour: Stepfamily Support & Coaching, mother of 1 plus step mama to three!

Krista Guenther: Sleep coach and mama of three!

 

This week we are talking about social media and how if effects us as moms, our businesses .. our lives.  

A common feeling in the group was... 

I don't want to know how often I'm actually on social media!

LOL! Is that true or what?  The modern mom is online a LOT today, more than we all realize.  It becomes a way to pass time, a resource for parenting information, a way to stay in touch with family and more!

We talk about how to deal with negative posts, friends and family who's social media etiquette might not be the best and ways to use social media to grow your business,while not negatively impacting your family life.

Click below to watch and stay tuned for next week's topic....


How to raise a veggie lover!

With Palatetraining

Vanessa and I both love our veggies, but we will be the first to admit that our kids don't!

We know how hard it can be to get little ones to eat the greens, so we scoured the internet for someone who was doing it right!  Dr. Laura Lefkowitz, is an M.D. out of Florida and  specializes in nutrition.  She's taught us so much! Did you know that the baby palate is developed while in the womb? Or that you should never mix veggies and fruit in the same meal?  Well, take a few minutes to sit back and enjoy this video, because we know it will help you raise a veggie lover!

TIPS FROM DR. LAURA

Top 3 rules of Palatetraining are:

1) Always start non-sweet Vegetables, then Sweet Vegetable, and finally fruit.

2) Never Mix Fruits and Vegetables.  You can mix Vegetables with grains and Fruit with grains or avocado, but never mask the taste of vegetables with fruit.

3) Serve every puree/food independently on a flat sectioned plate (like pain on a painter’s palette) and aim for 2-3 different colored food at each meal.  i.e. green peas, orange sweet potato, and yellow squash. or  Green zucchini, purple potato, and orange butternut squash.

For more information on Dr. Laura Lefkowitz:

Here's To Being A MOM And All The ways I Might F* It Up!

The word sensitive, when related to a son is what most moms love to be able to say.  We want our sons to be affectionate, to be kind and to be gentle.  All that being said, parenting a sensitive boy has it's own set of difficulties.

While it's amazing to see him cuddle and coo at his baby sister, when he comes home in tears because his friends told him he couldn't play with them at school, it leaves me with a hole in my gut. When he gets scared because his teacher raises her voice, or when he bursts into tears over being corrected, I’m lost for words on how to help him navigate those feelings.  I try, as every mom does, but every time I feel like I come up short.

As much as he's sensitive, he's equally spirited. Put him in a room of boys and he is bouncing off the walls. Given the opportunity, he will find a way to sneak around us to get his way.  He's been coined Dennis the Mennis in our family at times, because although he is as boy as boys get, he has this sweet heart that most the time he actually doesn't even realize he is going to get in trouble for what he has set out to do.

His sweet grin, after he throws the green slime up in the air, that is now stuck to the ceiling, or his light laughter after he knocks down all the decorations on the armoire from an "ultimate plane landing". His eyes bulging out when he realizes the sink overflowed onto the floor, because he stopped paying attention from the excitement of the bubble bath he was creating!  He challenges us daily as parents, to try and appreciate the joy in his attempts, but also to guide him with lessons and rules.

My husband and I are careful in our choice of words, but at times I feel like I'm walking on eggshells with him.  I listen to his sadness after a hard day at school and although I empathize with his heart, at the same time I want to parent.  To help him understand he can't always chase after the same kid, because he is the easiest to catch.  That you cannot always correct other 5 year olds because you know the right answer.  Teaching them these life skills they need … “where is that parenting book?!”

As soon as I start to talk to him about the other side of the stick in any situation, the tears pour. I get another stab in my stomach that he feels I’m not on his team.  

This mom gig is NO JOKE and I feel like I'm always torn. He needs rules and guidance, but he also needs gentle leadership.  When I attempt both, I feel like sometimes I get it wrong.  I just want him to be happy, innocent and full of joy.  That time he danced away like no one was watching and he did not care about being laughed at.  I have this wish for that feeling to remain as long as possible.

I know that the tantrums and break downs are all part of him growing up, but when you love a little human so much, you want the best for them. At times I feel so lost at how to actually achieve that.

So here is to being a mom.. and all the ways I know I might F *IT UP (lol) … 

xo

Melissa 

5 Ideas To Teach Your Little Ones About Giving Over The Holidays!

As Christmas time approaches, a lot of parents feel the stress of meeting their little ones expectations around Christmas Gifts. 

We both feel that having our children involved in giving back from an early age is very important, but it can be difficult based on their age and understanding.  So here are some ideas and tips to help get you and your family into the spirit of giving.

 

1. Operation Christmas Child (Samaritans Purse)

This is an amazing idea and super easy to involve the entire family, no matter the age. You can go to their website to find box pick up locations, or use your own shoe box.  Then you can fill them up with little toys, school and hygiene items (make sure the check the list for your country allowance). Include a few dollars for shipping and drop it off. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/

Tips:

At a young age it's hard for children to go into a store full of toys and colourful items and not ask for things.  Some will end up in tears because they are not getting anything.  Don't let this test your patience, they just don't understand yet.  Have a game plan and talk with them about what you are doing before you go in. At a certain age, they should be able to understand what is expected of them.  However, if they are too young in your eyes to quite understand and you are going to the dollar store, maybe plan to let them choose one small treat for a dollar.

2. Food bank/Soup Kitchen

This is a great way to have them help with their hands, going into your community and having them actually participate. Appropriate for children older than 5 years old.  Helping others, is an incredible social skill that we need to start early with our kids.

Tips:

They are still young, so take into account that they will get tired or bored quickly.  Set a time limit and discuss it with your child. If you notice that the mood is changing, accept that they did some great work, praise them for it and head home.  You want to avoid creating a negative feeling for them around it this experience.

3. Run/Walk For Charity

Great experience for kids over 6, unless you can push them in a jogger stroller, then the entire family can run (Weather dependent). Create a family or mama tribe team and get out for a Christmas Run! As a team raise money for the cause and make sure educate your little ones on what you are raising the money for.

Tips:

The family has to be in the mood for this run! So make sure that everyone is in on the idea.  Sometimes there are family races for short distances, or walks etc.  Make sure that you choose what is best for your team.  Make sure to pack lots of snacks and water if you have a little one in the stroller.  If anyone is tired or not into the run/walk half way through, that is OK! Remind them that you loved that they participated and that is all that matters!

4. Angel Tree/ Secret Santa Drop Off

A lot of churches and local community groups will have angel trees set up, or a secret santa box you can donate to.  Have your little ones choose an Angel (per a child or family) and go as a family to purchase the gifts, wrap them and drop them off.  It's great for kids to know that they are helping another little girl or boy have a beautiful Christmas as well and understand that there are families that are less fortunate out there.

Tips:

If your little ones still believe in Santa, this might be a difficult one to explain so it might work better for older kids. If the child is older and has an allowance this is a great time to help them understand about giving back and donating some of their money to help others.  They could even pitch in on some of the cost to buy the gift(s).

5. 25 Days of Giving Back

This is such a FUN idea and you can find ideas online or create your own calendar for your family.  It can be simple tasks such as giving a card to Grandma and Grandpa, or something like baking a small treat for the postman! 

Tips:

Try to make the ideas fun for each day.  This really helps your child to consciously do something kind for others everyday.  


Life Paint Comes to Canada: Just In Time For Halloween!

Did you know that only 1/3 of parents talk to their children about Halloween night safety? (1)

OR

That there are double the amount of child pedestrian deaths on Halloween night, in comparison to any other day in the year? 

It makes sense! We are so caught up in the busyness of our little goblins and their adorable costumes, that the safety conversation accidentally takes a back seat to all the evenings excitements.

This is why we wanted to share our Top Safety tips for Halloween (click here to see our blog with these tips).  While researching reflective gear ideas, we came across Life Paint. Life Paint is a reflective spray that can be used on almost anything (excluding skin), created by Volvo Cars. Volvo Canada is launching their Life Paint campaign just in time for Halloween and as the days become shorter, it's the perfect time to add some extra safety to bikes, helmets, skateboards. etc. 

Watch our video to learn more:

**GIVEAWAY TIME***

For a chance to WIN your own can of LIFE PAINT go to

www.instagram.com/DiapersLipgloss, follow us and LIKE the post on LIFE PAINT!

(1) Source: www.safekids.org

8 Halloween Safety Tips with Vanessa + Melissa

Did you know that only 1/3 of parents talk to their children about Halloween safety?  If you missed us on The Global Morning show, we are here to give you our top tips to keep your little goblins safe this Halloween!

1. Make sure to use reflective paint or wear reflective strips on costumes & candy bags.  We love the new LIFE PAINT reflective spray from Volvo Cars.  This reflective paint can go on your kiddies costumes, or treat bags. **Make sure only an adult sprays the reflective paint on any gear. 

2. Avoid oversized masks. Make-up is generally better for kids for visibility. Wear costumes that are the appropriate length, to avoid tripping.  

3. Be aware of allergies. Show support to children with allergies by placing a teal pumpkin alongside other pumpkins. This lets families know you offer an allergy free or alternate non food treat. All kids deserve to have a safe and Happy Halloween. 

#TealPumkinProject

4. Kids 10 and under should be accompanied by an adult. Kids who are allowed to go out without an adult, should be in groups of 3 or more with a cellphone. 

5. Parents should know the pre-planned routes the kids will be on.

6. Talk to your kids beforehand about not talking with strangers or entering any homes. Kids should stay on the porch when Trick-or-treating and be reminded to always walk on the sidewalk. 

7. Candy Check: Make sure to check over the candy, to unsure that none of the wrappers are popped.

8. Remove all Halloween Makeup before bedtime, to avoid any allergic reactions!

Little Charmers DIY Potion Party with Diapers & Lipgloss

 

If you're planning your next littles birthday party, tea party, or just a fun themed get together, we have a great DIY party idea for you right here. How about a Potion Party?! You're probably familiar now with that magical, sassy and fun show, Little Charmers, on Treehouse TV. This is one show we are so into for the kids. With great lessons and kind, but charismatic characters, we think these Charmers are right on point as little pre-school role models. So we decided to host our very own DIY Potion Party and let us tell you, it was a hit!! Below we've detailed all the fun that we included, so you can host your very own DIY Potion Party. We've even included the video of our Potion Party, so you can see exactly how we laid everything out.  

When each little one arrived, we let them choose their favourite BFF wrist band! They loved them. Some of the kids even wore these bands for a few days after. We had an episode of Little Charmers on in the background when the kids arrived. The kids loved seeing all the animated characters in action and it really inspired the magical theme, plus the music in the show is awesome! 

You can save the file below for the bracelets.  The remaining printables, can be found at: http://www.littlecharmers.com/fun-stuff/

Craft Time:

You can print off all the activity pages, bracelets and even wall papers for craft time from: http://www.littlecharmers.com/fun-stuff/

Make sure to have: several child safe scissors, glue sticks, mini pom-poms, sparkles, feathers, cutting foam to clue on the masks, piping, makers and crayons, basically lots of fun sticking and sparkling ideas.

From the printables we made:

- Little Charmer's Pet Masks

- Little Charmer's Character colouring pages

- Little Charmers e-cards

Photo Booth:

We highly recommend having a Little Charmers photo booth. The kids LOVED it! Simply get a big bristle board, cut out a large square in the middle and print off a Little Charmers logo from http://www.littlecharmers.com/fun-stuff/ and voila! Your very own photo booth. We also bought a little cauldron from a party shop and filled it with fun accessories, like big sunglasses, wigs, boas, a microphone, wands..you get the idea!

Little Charmers Photo Booth

Charmer's Treats:

The Potion Party: Magic Potion

Creating a potion with the kids was a lot of fun! We suggest getting three different coloured drinks. We bought grape juice, watermelon juice and a green apple juice for the colour effect. Then each guest had a turn pouring their drink into the potion jar, while casting a spell. Once each child had a turn, we cast a group spell, followed by everyone getting their very own cup of the potion. Magical!!

We also served mini cupcakes with icing and sprinkles, fruit cups, popcorn, mini cookies & ring pops..a good mix of treats. 

 

Treat Bags:

No party is complete without a treat bag. We bought little boxes from a local dollar store, printed off Little Charmer logos from http://www.littlecharmers.com/fun-stuff/ and placed a logo on each bag. Every guest received a treat bag with a ring pop and a cupcake, plus a magic glow stick wand. 

We really enjoyed hosting our very first DIY Potion Party and the kids absolutely loved it. It was fun, creative, magical and affordable! So if you're planning a birthday party, or fun themed kid's event, we definitely recommend hosting your very own Little Charmers Potion Party. 

XO Vanessa+Melissa 

How We Were Charmed by Little Charmers

Little_Charmers_logo.png

Not so long ago, we were drawn into the world of Charmville, where we found 3 adorable Little Charmers-In-Training; Hazel, Poise & Lavender, each one with her own magical powers.  These girls bring the meaning of true friendship to life. If you haven't had a chance to watch this fun, sassy, sparkletastic show, aimed towards preschool girls ages 3-5 (although our sons like it too!), you can catch it on Treehouse TV. Through their magical misadventures, the Charmers quickly learn that true friendship, teamwork and self-confidence can overcome whatever mayhem their magic creates. Another great lesson they learn, is that even though they have magical powers they realize they don't have to rely on magic to solve or overcome every problem or difficulty they encounter.      

So let's introduce these Charmers:

Firstly, we have Hazel. Hazel is the lead charmer with the most magical power. She's a fearless, curious, pint-size go getter who flies (leaps) before she looks. We can all related to having a little Hazel amongst us, are we right? Her magic wand adds even more sparkle to her big heart and passion for friendship, and don't forget her mysterious cat, Seven. 

Then we have Posie. Think Phoebe from friends, but the sweet child version. Posie is a "spellerina" who can come up with spells for any occasion with a harmonious song and dance you'll describe as sweet and quirky. She is accompanied by her magical flute-wand and pet Owl (named Treble). They're a real hoot! 

Lastly, but certainly not least we have Lavender. Lavender is  a "potionista" in training, and a "fashionista" at heart. Her funky potion bottle wand helps stir up the perfect potions...and outfits too. We can only dream! ;-) Lavender is adored by her friends for her patience, honesty and Flare (her goofy but adorable baby dragon). 

These 3 Little Charmers live in a magical land called Charmville, surrounded by fairies, leprechauns, ogres and more. 

We loved this show from the minute we were introduced to it. Here's why; there are many shows out there marketed towards pre-school and elementary aged school girls and boys, and many of the characters in those shows just aren't very nice to each other. They're often cruel, judgemental, rude, inappropriately dressed for the age that's watching them, and just all around a bad example. 

 As Moms, we love the messaging and thoughtfulness, behind each episode of Little Charmers. Teamwork, kindness, learning from mistakes, true friendship and good intentions. These Charmers are learning to put their magical powers to good use, and send positive messages to the children watching the show. 

We had a chance to meet the Producers and Creative Artists, behind this wonderful series Co-produced by Spin Master & Nelvana, at the Corus head office, in Toronto.  Take a look at the video:

Our little ones have just fallen in love with this wonderful TV show, so we are going to be throwing them a little "Potion (tea) Party" with a magical twist! We can't wait to share all the magical details with you, so stay tuned! 

We're going to show you just how easy it is for you to host your own Little Charmers, Potion Party and enter the fantastical, magical, sparkletastic world of Charmville.  

Your kids can continue the magic with the full Spin Master toy line up available at: http://www.toysrus.ca

xo

Vanessa + Melissa 

The shift to Natural

There is a strong shift in our society today, specifically among the modern parents, and millennials- to buy local, eat less chemicals, and to purchase products that are green.  Many companies are now seeing the effect that has on their business, and some are making major changes to ensure they can keep their loyal customers.

Many parents today worry about food colouring and additives, and are attracted to products that display the words, Natural, Clean and Pure.

Most recently we heard about a major cereal company that probably has a place in every households cupboards, General Mills.  They have just announced that they are removing all forms of food colouring from their foods, first off with Trix and CocoPuffs.  

This is great news for parents, because there has been a fair amount of research studies showing the negatives side effect of food dyes, specifically for our youth.  Other countries area already being recognized for actually banning the use of artificial food dyes. (1)

Here are some scary points that we were able to find about the dangers linked to articifical food colouring:

1. Red 40 and Yellow 5 and 6 contain the chemical benzene, a known carcinogen. The CDC claims that very little is known about the health effects of benzene, despite the mountain of evidence pointing at its cancer-causing potential. (2)

2.Numerous studies have established a significant link between artificial food dyes and hyperactivity in children. An Australian study examining food dyes’ effects on 200 children found that 75% of parents noticed an improvement in behavior and attention once dyes were eliminated from their child’s diet

So we ask you mama's, when you are out shopping are you looking at the messages on the box, reading the labels, and do you find yourself more drawn to the Green and Natural options when you are buying food for your family?

(1) http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/4-dangers-of-food-dyes/

(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23026007

The Constant Battle

"Can we have Taco Tuesday?  My friends have Taco Tuesday!?"

Okay awesome, so now as a mom, you have a plan for dinner on Tuesday and you know that your littles are going to love it, because they asked for it!

SCREEEEECH ... beep beep, back up the mommy hood bus, because you basically have it all wrong.

"Why does my taco keep breaking"

"This is too messy"

tears... pouring tears...

"I dont know why the meat is falling out every where"

and then it comes,

"this is the worst dinner of my life!"

 

Does this only happen to me?  Or can other moms relate?

I think as mommies our main mission is make our children happy.  I know as a mom I get so excited if my little has asked for something or made mention of something that I know I am going to do, and they are going to be so happy.  But then child reality hits.  What they think they want, they don't want.  What they don't want, they now want.

How come no one warned us.  Im pretty sure all our moms are sitting back and chuckling to themselves right now.

Stay Strong Mommies!

xo

Vanessa & Melissa

Attachment Daddying

We are very proud of Melissa's hubby Shaun who was recently interviewed by HOLISTIC PARENT MAGAZINE, on gentle parenting, and "attachment daddying".  Check out the article below! You can also go to their website for the full magazine!


Kids and anxiety

Anxiety is a real issue, currently in North America it affects over 18% of adults, and 1 in 8 children face real anxiety issues. 

What is the cause?  What triggers it?  For every one it is different.  

We did a little looking around and found some great articles for parents that are dealing with anxious children:

 

 

The problem in todays society however, is that some times medication is the first approach to child anxiety, and there are other options out there.  Here are some tips

 

1. Natural remedies to help children

Natural Path Dr. Jen is a huge believer in natural remedies like CalmPro, which helps the child to naturally relax in stressful situations.
— www.mydrjen.com

2. Providing them with skills to deal with worry & anxiety

Worry Cards

Mindfulness in the moment

Worry Box

3. At home therapy/ kid applicable games