Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review: 150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids

Today my little ones and I had the pleasure to review a great new book, of which it’s said topic is very important and high on my priorities.

The book is called 150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids by Asia Citro, MEd. It has pages and pages of fun, creative crafts and activities to engage your children, help them get creative, and most importantly, get away from the screens.

Don’t get me wrong – we watch TV in our house. We have an iPad. I willingly will put on a cartoon if I’m trying to make dinner. However, since I work with Early-Childhood  Educators, and I’m a daughter to a retired teacher, I’m very aware and informed of the importance of PLAY for children and their developing selves. Free play has an integral part on our children’s developing “imagination and creativity – tools, which are now recognized as important down the road in higher levels of math and science – as well as intellectual, social and emotional development.” (Zrinka Peters, Education.com) Even further, research has shown that kids who spend too much time staring at electronic screens “suffer from sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep, and a hyper aroused nervous system” (Victoria L. Dunkley, M.D., Psychology Today).


This book was a wonderful surprise to receive in the mail, and the two projects that we tried out were a lot of fun! Most importantly, it makes me feel good that I have a fun, easy to use go-to guide for engaging my littles into free, creative play!

Our first activity: Crystalizing Watercolors
Prep time: 5 minutes
We love to paint in our house, and I frequently buy canvases from the dollar store and go crazy. So this project was right up our alley

TO MAKE CRYSTALIZING WATERCOLORS, YOU NEED:

  • ½ tablespoon Epsom salts
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ tablespoon water
  •  Food coloring or liquid watercolors


1. You basically combine the salts and water and stir until totally dissolved (about 2-3 minutes). 
2. You then add food coloring or liquid watercolors until you get a desired color.
3. Then, paint away onto watercolor paper! It has to be on specific watercolor paper or it won’t work. 
4. After allowed it to dry for 2-24 hours, really cool crystal patterns and designs will appear on the paper. I told my daughter Lily that it was crystal tokens left behind by a fairy. This really sparked her creative imagination!

For more fun projects check out www.funathomewithkids.com

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Battery Hero Colouring Contest

EcoKids has partnered with Call2Recycle to develop a new classroom activity. The EcoKids Battery Busters Audit is an activity for students in grades K-8 to learn about the batteries in their home and school, the environmental impacts of batteries, and how to safely recycle dead batteries. 

We are asking students to conduct a battery audit of their home to find out how many batteries are in their home, what kinds of batteries are used, and what devices use them. 

Students and teachers can then discuss a series of follow-up questions to help them brainstorm about some of the ways they can reduce their environmental footprint and reduce the number of batteries they use.

Following the Audit, classes will have an opportunity to enter a draw for a chance to win a Free Pizza Lunch and an EcoKids Classroom Kit! Audit results will be accepted from
March 2-March 31, 2015. For more information about the Audit, visit us at ecokids.ca/busters / Enter colouring contest here 
www.ecokids.ca/pub/contests/current/en/enter-now.cfm

Friday, February 20, 2015

Family Outing to Mike the Knight

If you missed taking the kids to see Mike the Knight by Kobe Entertainment. Our Mommy Ambassador Melissa and her family had the opportunity to attend last weekend. 

What better way than to spend a balmy Sunday in February than by visiting Mike the Knight and his crew at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre?

We packed up our two littles and headed downtown for a fun afternoon at this live action performance based on the popular Tree House Channel TV character.
Mike the Knight is a knight-in-training who tries his best to be the bravest knight in the land. With  help from his two dragon friends, Sparkie and Squirt, his sister, witch-in-training Evie, and his best buddy Trollee, Mike learns the power of responsibility and how to 'be a knight—and do it right!


The show was the perfect length - 1 hour - with a short intermission in the middle. Great for the little ones with short attention spans. There was lots of singing, dancing and even a cool light-up star wand that the little ones waved around, creating a bright and blinking sense of delight to the dark theatre.














Mike the Knight and his pals leads the audience along through The Glendragon Scavenger Hunt. With a little help from his closest friends, including Sparkie, Squirt, Evie and his steadfast friend Trollee, Mike leads the charge to solve the clues of the scavenger hunt!


This was the very first live action show for my girls, ages 19 months and 4, and they totally had a blast. I'm really looking forward to taking my older daughter to next year's holiday pantomimes and even a Disney live show or two when we head to the Disneyland Resort next week! 



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Make Your Own New Year Dumplings!

This year, Chinese New Year starts on February 19. We will be moving from the Year of the Horse to the Year of the Sheep. What better way to celebrate with the kids than to make your own dumplings! The recipe below is for a traditional pork and chive filling, but the great thing about dumplings is that you can make all sorts of different fillings. 




Dumplings, called jiaozi in Mandarin, have been popular in China for hundreds of years. They’re especially popular on Chinese New Year.

INGREDIENTS
Dumpling (jiaozi) Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
3 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
4 Tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots
2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced



Pork & Chive Filling:
1 cup ground pork (can also use beef)

DIRECTIONS
1. Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to create a smooth dough. Don't add more water than is necessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

2. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine, and white pepper to the meat, stirring in one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well.

3. Now, prepare the dough for the dumplings. First knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter to create the dumpling wrappers.

4. Place a portion (about 1 Tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each dumpling wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumpling wrappers.

5. To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don't stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. 

6. Drain and remove. If you want, they can be pan-fried at this point. Repeat this process for the second half of dumplings. 

Happy New Year! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Product Review: Aleva Naturals Alevoil (Part 2)

I have been using Aleva Naturals products since shortly after my son was born. I discovered the product line while I was in search of a healthy natural way to quickly clean my son's tiny hands. No matter where I take him someone is always coming to chat to him and it somehow leads to them holding his hands. He has a way with women and loves to flirt and often reaches out to hold their hand while they talk to him. I don't blame them, it's hard to resist holding a baby's hand but in the back of my head all I could think about was germ transfer. Being a self-confessed germaphobe I knew I needed to find something to safely cleanse his little hands while on the go, that's when I came across Aleva Naturals. Easy, convenient and safe little pouches of natural wipes, I couldn't resist getting their hand & face wipes, pacifier & toy wipes, nose & blow wipes and tooth & gum wipes. I keep all of them stocked and ready to go, at home and in Valentino's diaper bag. When I was told Aleva Naturals now has a maternal line of products I jumped at the chance to try them out.

Aleva Naturals Alevoil is combined of ingredients used to assist with dry skin, uneven skin tone, stretchmarks and scars. When it comes to skincare I make a conscious effort to use natural and organic products. There are many reasons for this, most importantly is my son's health, my son and I co-bathe and I strictly only use natural, healthy and in most cases organic products that come into contact with him.

The human skin is the largest organ in the integumentary system and since it interfaces on a daily basis with the environment it plays a vital role in protecting our bodies from pathogens. The human skin provides insulation, sensation, temperature regulation, protection against water loss and vitamin B foliates and the synthesis of vitamin D. The human skin essentially guards the underlying muscles, bones, ligaments and organs and therefore it is essential that we care for it tenderly. When skin becomes damaged it works to heal itself by forming scar tissues which therefore will leave the appearance of de-pigmented and discoloured skin.

I personally developed stretchmarks approximately two months after the birth of my son, up until that point I had none and I thought I was in the clear but once the weight started to drop off I was left with stretchmarks. I am also known to develop dry skin throughout the fall and winter seasons that come in bouts. My main areas of distress are hands, wrists, and elbows. After pregnancy when my hormones were adjusting I developed a patch of psoriasis on my thigh that I try to manage with natural products rather than medicated prescriptions. I took these trouble areas and put Alevoil to the test with my stretchmarks, psoriasis, and dry skin.

Alevoil is enriched with schizandra fruit extract, rosehip oil and tamanol seed oil which provide deep hydration, aids in improvement of skin firmness and elasticity and skin tone. The blend provides essential nourishing moisture to help heal and protect your skin, leaving it with a healthy soft sheen and a hint of sweet scent. I have been using Alevoil for a little over two weeks now and am pleasantly surprised with the improvement and condition of my skin. I apply the oil three times daily to my abdominal area which has improved my skins softness and overall smoothness which has led to a slight decrease in the pigment of my stretchmarks, leaving them slightly faded in appearance. With the remainder of the oil on my hands after applying to my abdomen I rub the excess onto my arms and legs for a light healthy supple sheen and moisture.

I use Alevoil once nightly on my psoriasis before I go to bed. After roughly a week’s use I started to notice the cracked skin on my psoriasis to heal and seal itself and the overall texture to start to feel more like skin does. The itchiness that is associated with psoriasis due to the dryness of skin has improved significantly with daily use of Alevoil.

Aleva Naturals Alevoil is a natural, organic, made in Canada product that works effectively and efficiently with an affordable price point. With advantages like that the only answer is yes! Yes, you should give Alevoil a try if you want to heal and protect your skin with a blend of natural and organic ingredients.

For a list of Aleva Naturals products and locations to purchase please visit their website at www.alevanaturals.com/home 

Angel Fisher - Scenic photographer, writer, professional makeup artist, and lifestyle blogger. Mother of 10-month old son Valentino Ace, a rambunctious and sweet little dare devil who loves music.
www.angelfisherphotography.com 
www.ohheyitsmeagain.wordpress.com

Contest: Try Alevoil yourself! Enter to win a 60ml bottle of Alevoil. Tell us why you'd like to try Alevoil. Enter at www.urbanbaby.ca. Good Luck!


Product Review: Aleva Naturals Alevoil (Part 1)

Aleva Naturals®  has a range of Maternity and Baby Skincare products  that were developed by a naturopath, herbalist and pharmacist. This unique product range was specially formulated with pure, natural and safe ingredients that deliver therapeutic results and are pH balanced to be gentle on baby’s eyes and mild on the most sensitive skin.

As a women skin care is on our minds constantly, from the lip balm, to the foundation, the primer, the eye shadow, the make-up remover that we use, we think about our skin care, and it was not until most recently within the cosmetic sector, that the ingredients became a large factor in what we as consumers are purchasing! Brands are finally responsible for listing ingredients on the packaging, and more brands are being conscious of what they are putting into their products.
We age and become obsessed with the fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tones, sun spots, stretch marks and scars, it's hard to completely alleviate the effects that aging has on your skin, but being responsible and taking action early on minimizing the effects that life has on our body will aid in the appearance of these concerns.

Any mother will tell you, besides the constant concern for the well-being of your unborn child, we will have started to become really aware of what we are putting into our body in terms of food we eat, products we use and our emotional well being.  All of these factors are important to our ever-changing  bodies while carrying a baby in utero and post partum!

Thanks to Aleva with their wonderful line of products to assist in the road to recovery, I've had the pleasure of using Alevoil, which is an intensive skin nourishing oil. There are two products in the Maternal Care line which aid with Stretch Marks, one of the biggest skin concerns of pregnant women! There is the Stretch Mark cream, which specializes in Stretch Marks and then there is the Alevoil which actually covers not only stretch marks, but also Scars, Dehydrated Skin and Uneven Skin Tones.

I've been using Alevoil for a week now on my stomach for stretch marks, my face for uneven skin tones and on my foot where I have an extremely prominent and colorful scar.  Now in following the instructions, I ensure all areas are clean and apply 2-3 times a day! Usually just two, there are too many things to remember throughout the day, I reserve applying skin care to morning and night!
This product is by far one of my favouite for stretch marks and especially for an oil product. After two pregnancies, I've earned my stripes, and I've always attempted to be very diligent in applying products to minimize the appearance, however, I had yet to find a product to use during pregnancy that wasn't too oily, or didn't leave my skin shiny, or that had a scent that I enjoyed.  With Alevoil, I have found all of the above,  no greasy feeling, no shiny skin and the citrusy scent is refreshing in the morning and calming at night!

The texture of my skin has been left revitalized so far and while it has only been a week, it has left me wishing that I had this product for my 1st pregnancy and the beginning of my second pregnancy. I can honestly say that while the stretch marks are still there, I have found the lines feel much softer, and the appearance is diminishing! The Skin tone has improved significantly, the redness that can appear in my cheeks has gone away, and by far the most impressive result has been with the scar on the top of my foot!  It was always a sort of reddish purple and not only has that color improved, but the texture of the scar has softened, and it isn't such an eye sore!

Would I recommend this to a friend, absolutely! Will I continue using it myself, yes! It is now a must have in my product list, and if you haven't tried it yet, you will want to check your local stores to get this product and use it! You will not regret making space for Aleva Naturals in your extensive skin care regime and in your medicine cabinet or make up bag!

For more information, please go to their website, www.alevanaturals.com/home

Janette Shearer of vancitymommyd.com is a mommy blogger originally from Saskatoon SK, who moved out to Vancouver in 2006 to attend Make-Up School, after completing her Freelance course, she met her now husband who is an Owner and active DJ for Vancouver Event DJ's with a new baby girl Zoe and a 6 year old Ava to keep her on her toes! 



Canadian Mother's Powerful Post on Facebook

Health officials have confirmed the first case of measles in York Region as a Toronto-area mother took to social media to speak out against anti-vaccine activists after learning that her infant son was exposed to the virus.

Jennifer Hibben-White's son Griffin was exposed to the measles virus at a doctor's office in Markham, Ont. last month, she wrote in a Facebook post that has since been shared more than 186,000 times as of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155168508795632&set=a.322130010631.336875.730360631&type=1&pnref=story

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Product Review: Baby Gourmet

Baby Gourmet is the fastest and number one branded organic baby food company in Canada and with combinations like yumberries and plum with ancient grains it’s really no wonder as to why.

Jennifer Carlson and Jill Vos are the power sister duo behind Baby Gourmet products which was born out of their desire to provide the best for their kids and make it a goal to make parents and their little ones healthy and happy. All of the delicious combinations were created right in their kitchen, using their motherly instincts on flavours and their understanding of what mom's want and need in a baby food. Once the recipe is in production they are there for each product run to ensure the highest quality of food is being sent out for our babies!

I’m a busy mom to a handsome little dare devil who’s pushing one year, a photographer, a writer, blogger, makeup artist, and in March I will be back to being a full time worker. It has always been natural for me to be on the go, the more I am doing the more awake I feel regardless of the actual pillow time I had the night before. My son and I rarely spend an entire day at home; in fact we were even out shopping the day we were released from the hospital after my caesarean section and within a week he had already been for a walk on the boardwalk at White Rock. With all that being said I will be the first to admit it….I don’t have the time daily to make my son homemade delicious creations bursting with flavours and boasting with health benefits. I will also be the first to admit that my son’s health, happiness and well-being are my upmost priority so it’s no surprise I love Baby Gourmet. A company that strives to provide healthy, nutritious and flavourful combinations of organic foods is a dream for us and honestly makes my life a lot easier when it comes to meal time.

Unlike the traditional jarred baby foods you generally see on the shelves with bland colours and only one food item like peas, Baby Gourmet is actually a full course meal for an infant in a package. For example, Baby Gourmet’s hearty vegetable with turkey contains sweet potato, apple, carrots, celery, water, turkey, and onion along with herbs such as basil, parsley, and rosemary. Throw in some mashed potatoes on the side and it sounds like a Thanksgiving feast. With ingredients like that it makes you want an adult version for yourself to enjoy along with your baby. Chicken, turkey and beef are the meat options you can find in some of Baby Gourmet’s creations, like the sweet potato, apple and chicken which happens to be my son’s absolute favourite dinner time choice. Once your baby is ready for textured foods there is no shortage of delicious meal options like the vegetable beef and barley, chicken minestrone soup, veggie beef bolognese and pasta stars, or fruity chicken and brown rice.

An orchard apple, carrot and prune blend sounds like a juice sold at a health food stand but it’s just one of the many combinations offered in squeezable packages for your special little loves. Although we love all of the blends we have tried this is my son and I’s favourite and to be honest I have actually eaten this particular blend on several occasions with my own breakfast (it’s that good). The combinations are revolutionary when it comes to baby food – how often do you see kale offered in baby blends? Until we tried the banana, apple and kale by Baby Gourmet I hadn’t seen it before. Coconut, kiwi, and mangosteen with quinoa aren’t even options for me (where would I find the time to whip up that interestingly delicious combo?) but it is for my son all thanks to Baby Gourmet!

Breakfast time comes easy with their grain cereals, they have four selections to choose from; ancient grain blend, banana raison oatmeal, smooth oatmeal, and creamy brown rice. Prepare the cereals either water, formula, breast milk or whole milk if you have already introduced your baby to milk products. For some added nutrition and variety you can mix in one of their squeezable purees and leave a little extra for yourself to try (honestly, the orchard apple, carrot and prune is incredible).  Snack time is a breeze with their mushies offered in fruity greens, banana beetberry and the banana berry greek yogurt (our favourite). The mushies are jam packed with flavour in each little freeze dried nugget of goodness.

Baby Gourmet really is the next best thing to homemade foods. Not only are they incredibly flavourful and convenient but they are filled with wholesome ingredients - every single ingredient added to the package comes from a certified organic farm (no GMO’s here). There are no fillers, added sugar, salt, or artificial preservatives used in any of their items. Did I mention the company is Canadian and has donated over 660,000 meals across North America? This truly is baby food you can feel good about giving to your baby and a company you can feel proud to support.

For more information please visit their website at www.babygourmet.com

Angel Fisher - Scenic photographer, writer, professional makeup artist, and lifestyle blogger. Mother of 10-month old son Valentino Ace, a rambunctious and sweet little dare devil who loves music.
www.angelfisherphotography.com 
www.ohheyitsmeagain.wordpress.com 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kids Say the Darnest Things: Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day Urbanbaby & Toddler Magazine chatted with kindergarten students to better understand their ideas about dating, marriage, love and relationships. Read their responses to the following questions. Sure to bring lots of chuckles!

Q: Where is the best place to go for a romantic honeymoon?
A: a wedding, a restaurant, a vacation, swimming, daycare

Q: What is the worst thing about marriage?
A:Kissing, falling down a hill, breaking your toys, falling off your bike



Q: If someone could not afford an engagement ring, what could s/he get instead?
A:A necklace, a big giant car, a bracelet, flowers, a tiara, a table, a bucket

Q: What happens when people “fall in love?”
A:They get married, they kiss, they hug, they don’t like each other, they get a limosine

Q: What do most women want for Valentine’s day (asked only to the boys)?
A: A card, a shirt, a puppy, flowers, nothing

Q: What do most women want for Valentine’s day (asked only to the girls)?
A: Flowers, chocolate, kisses, Valentines hearts, lollipops, a card, a tiara

Q: How much money should one spend on a first date?
A: $1000, $101, $200, $5, $500, $115

Q: How much money should one spend on an engagement ring? 
A: $5, 100 bucks (because it’s special), $5000, 100 million

Q: What is the best thing about marriage?
A: Getting to know somebody new, kissing, having a baby, giving someone your heart

Q: Where is the best place to go for a romantic dinner? 
A: Red Robin, Starbucks, White Spot, IHOP, McDonalds, home

Q: What do people do on their first date? 
A: Get married, kiss, celebrate, go for a romantic dinner, go to a birthday party

Happy Valentine's Day from all us at UBT!