July 30, 2014
by Mommy Gearest
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Wordless Wednesday: Alice Through the Looking Glass

2014 Stratford Festival

When we visited Stratford, Ont., this past weekend and graciously handed tickets to see Alice Through the Looking Glass (part of this year’s Stratford Festival lineup), I was worried that it was going to be just a bit too quirky for my kids, who are three and six. Boy, was I wrong. They adored how interesting, interactive and generously visual the production was, and never seemed bothered by the accents or rather odd interpretation of their beloved Alice in Wonderland story. It was, as I tweeted that day, a feast for the eyes. And after all of the amazing experiences we had during our Stratford road trip, they both heartily agreed that Alice Through the Looking Glass was the highlight. A high compliment when our visit included several stops for chocolate and other treats!

July 25, 2014
by Mommy Gearest
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#OneNewThing from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (sponsored post)

Breast cancer has touched my life. I’m sure it’s touched yours, too, in some way.

My aunt had a very tough battle with breast cancer several years ago. She bravely faced a double mastectomy and ended up with permanent alopecia from the cancer treatments. And she remains a beautiful woman, made more beautiful by her courage.

In my life as a public relations practitioner, I’ve launched a pink facial tissue box from Scottie’s and one of Canada’s first coloured coins – the Breast Cancer Coin from the Royal Canadian Mint – both of which benefitted the good work that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) does.

I am linked to breast cancer in my personal and professional life. I hope that’s as close as I ever come.

And as I near the big 4-0 next year, I’m hyper-aware that I’m about to become officially old enough to get annual mammograms. But after learning about the #OneNewThing initiative from CBCF, I’m going to do a better job of taking care of all of the risk factors that are up to me.

So I decided to create a breast health plan (it’s free!), and although it was hard to answer some of the questions with brutal honestly, I did. I admitted that my lifestyle has become almost completely sedentary thanks to blogging and that I drink alcohol more than just once a month (isn’t a daily glass of red wine supposed to be healthy, after all?). The good news is that I understand what healthy eating looks like (even if I haven’t been following the fundamental principles of late) and am very educated on the kinds of ingredients that should be avoided when it comes to skin-, body-care and household products.

Basically, it means that I’m only a 50 per cent mess. (Right?)

Among other things, my #OneNewThing breast health plan recommends that I take a walk every day, eat smaller portions of calorie-rich foods (hello, butter) and “be aware of how much (I) drink.” Trust me, I’m aware; this aging body doesn’t do well with hangovers anymore so I don’t binge drink very often these days. It congratulated me for not smoking and suggested I continue to steer clear of second-hand smoke, which I would really love to do if all you smokers would please stop smoking right outside of buildings and shops where I seem to encounter it the most.

The plan also reminded me to avoid “personal care products with formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, alkylphenols, fragrance or parfum, and placental extracts” and included a link to EWG’s Pesticides in Produce guide, which is a downloadable PDF. Seems a tad more fulsome than merely a bulleted list of The Dirty Dozen.

Of all of the preventable risk factors associated with breast cancer, my activity level is what has to change. And that’s going to be my #OneNewThing pledge. I’m going to get active, every day. Even if it’s just significantly raising my heart rate for 10 minutes a day to start.

Because I don’t have the strength to face what my aunt did. I have a family who needs me. And if one-third of breast cancers can be prevented by living well, that’s a stat to which I need to pay close attention.

REMEMBER…

Image courtesy of #OneNewThing.

DISCLAIMERS: The Royal Canadian Mint is still one of my firm’s clients, but I haven’t worked on the team that represents it for many years. Although I was compensated for this post, I accepted the partnership because I want to help women take charge of their health. All of the thoughts expressed here are mine, all mine. Now stop worrying about me and go check your boobs.

July 24, 2014
by Mommy Gearest
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It’s the Happiest Party on Twitter: #DisneyFamilyTravel

(Scroll down to RSVP; you can also RSVP with Listen to Lena!)

In the mid-1960s, Walt Disney’s dream was to build a family resort destination like no other. The dream became a reality when Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971, featuring Magic Kingdom as the centerpiece.

If you’ve ever wished to gaze upon Cinderella’s castle, hold Mickey Mouse’s hand or take a journey under the sea with Ariel, you’ll know the power of dreams. And today, at Walt Disney World Resort, you can experience the magic with your entire family. Walt Disney World Resort and its Cast Members deliver one-of-a-kind experiences to millions of guests annually, and if you’ve been planning a family vacation to this world-class entertainment and recreation centre, this one’s for you.

We’re pleased to invite you to the #DisneyFamilyTravel Twitter Party, on Tuesday, July 29 at 9 p.m. EST. We’ll share all the latest Walt Disney World news including the latest attractions, current and upcoming events, vacation planning tips and more. To thank you for joining the conversation on Twitter, we’ll be giving away ten (10) Disney Store Gift Certificates valued at $50 each. (Please see official rules here.)

Disney Family Travel

For your chance to win, RSVP below. In the words of Mickey Mouse, See you real soon! Continue Reading →

July 23, 2014
by Mommy Gearest
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Wordless Wednesday: NERF Super Soaker Water Blasters!

NERF Super Soaker Water Blasters

We’ve been having a “blast” this summer with these NERF Super Soaker Water Blasters! Thanks, Hasbro, for sending them over for us to test out. The clear winner among all of the neighbourhood kids is the cross-bow version (called the NERF Rebelle Dolphina); it’s the easiest one for little kids to manage when filled to the brim with water. The NERF Super Soaker Barrage also gets rave reviews, but even for the strongest six year olds, it’s just too heavy when the water reservoir is completely full; but it does hold a lot of water, so we just do it half-way and that’s easier to manage. I’ve seen them for sale all around town – like Real Canadian Superstore, Target and Walmart. Happy watering!

July 23, 2014
by Mommy Gearest
1 Comment

NuuNest app (guest review)

“Saskmom” is a mother of two from, you guessed it, Saskatchewan.  When she wrote this review, her oldest child was 28 months and her youngest was just five weeks old.  She is on maternity leave and quickly learning what life with two kids is like.  This lucky lady has a helpful husband at home and a newborn who sleeps well (nice).

Saskmom was provided with the NuuNest app for free in exchange for her honest review.

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Everything was new with my first child.  I found the first few weeks with a newborn really tiring and a huge adjustment. I am an A-type personality, so was diligent the first couple of weeks tracking each feeding and diaper change on the sheet with which the hospital sent me home.

However, life got busy and soon I forget to track it or didn’t have the paper handy. I found myself forgetting half the time when I last breastfed and what side I ended on, especially for the night feedings when I was half asleep and I would just typically look at which boob was larger and decide it must be the one!

When I heard about the NuuNest app, I was excited to try it; I always had my iPhone with me which I knew would make tracking a breeze. With a toddler in addition to a newborn, I needed to be even more organized this time and I was hoping this app was the solution for that.

I also discovered that the app was created by two nurses from Saskatchewan which made it appeal to me even more.

Since I started using NuuNest, I have noticed it advertised at my doctor’s office and the hospital. I should warn you that I am not an app savvy mom, and therefore don’t have a lot to compare it to. I use my phone for basic needs (email, phone, calendar, Facebook);  I don’t have any music on it nor do I use many apps so keep that in mind as you read on.

THE GOOD

NuuNest is very user-friendly. It was quick and easy to set up an account; all you need is an email and password.

The app is thorough and divided into the following helpful sections: feeding (breastfeeding and/or bottle-feeding), diaper changes, tracking the baby’s weight, expressing milk, daily vitamin D intake tracking and reference materials.

NuuNest

Image belongs to www.collegemobile.com.

The breastfeeding section allows you to track the start time and the side that you ended on and also allows you to add comments with each feeding. I really appreciate being able to track the feedings and have become very dependent on it.  I feel lost when I don’t have my phone handy to recall which side I last fed on and when it was!  I didn’t discover the comment section until a week into my review period (it was actually going to be one of my gaffes until I found it!).   The comment section could be useful to add notes in such as “fed on both sides,” or “didn’t drink much at this feeding.”  The bottle-feeding section allows you to identify whether it was breastmilk or formula and how many ounces were consumed.

NuuNest’s diaper change sections tracks both wet and dirty diapers and the time you changed the diaper. It also has a section that explains, with pictures, what to expect to see in diaper changes in the early days and the number of wet and dirty diapers you should have. I faithfully tracked the diaper changes for the first week or so until my newborn was regularly peeing and pooping.

There is an endless supply of information for mom on post-natal health and recovery including such things as emotions, nutrition, exercise, C-section recovery and so on.  Since this is my second child, none of the information was new to me; but, if you are a first time mom I think the information would be useful to review and refer back to.

I really like the summary section. It lists the number of feedings, diaper changes and milk expressions in the last 24 hours, and the time of those feedings, and also charts every feed on a bar graph so you can see trends from day-to-day and week-to-week.  The NuuNest app allows you to export the data to excel as well if you wish to analyze it further or save it.

The support provided by the developers is exceptional!  About three weeks in, all of my data seemed to disappear. I panicked because I was about to feed and couldn’t recall the side on which side I last fed.  More important, I was a bit sad that I had lost all of the data I had tracked — especially the feeding trends. I noticed that the developers tweeted so I sent a tweet to them letting them know I was having issues. Honestly, when I sent the tweet I didn’t really expect to hear back from them. Was I wrong! I heard back from them within minutes and had an email exchange going on shortly thereafter.  They resolved my issue very quickly and my data was back.  They also advised me that all of the data is stored on their network so if something was to happen they could easily retrieve and restore any historical data.  The personal touch made me an even more loyal fan of this product.  Since I don’t have much experience with other apps, I don’t know if this is above and beyond customer service… but I feel it is.

THE GAFFE

I have really had to scratch my head to come up with something negative about the product. I tried to start using it before my baby was born (so I could become familiar with it and hit the ground running), but unless you have the details (e.g. name, birth date, etc.), NuuNest doesn’t seem to let you past the first screen.  However, they did have tutorials that you could view without officially signing in.

There have been a few times when I go into the breastfeeding section to log my feed and it appears my data has been wiped. When this has happens, I usually exit out of the app, give it a couple of minutes, go back in and the data is there.  I am not sure why this occurs; it has been pretty random.

THE GEARS

4.5/5