Hawaii honeymoon

A summertime emergency kit

You know what’s fun? Shopping for crayons. You know what’s especially fun? Shopping for crayons you don’t plan on letting your kids use.

Staples is doing a promotion with Visa Checkout and I was offered the chance to build a summertime emergency kit. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that when it comes to this whole parenting thing, I’m pretty much always game for an emergency kit that will make this gig easier.

I’m a little anxious about school ending for Connor. He does better when he’s busy and active and challenged, and I’m concerned about what our days might be like when he’s not at school all day. Or more specifically what my evenings might be like, because I already get him at his most excitable and there are times I can barely get through dinner without eyeing the garage and wondering if anyone would notice if I duct taped him to his chair. With some stuff to keep him occupied, and some activities we can do on weekends when our time together is more, shall we say, in need of help, I’m feeling a little better.

So I went shopping on the Staples website. For starters, when I searched “Crayola” I got a ton of results. I had no idea.

I bought art supplies and paper and craft kits and paint and finger-painting kits. (I know. Paint. The whole idea of an emergency kit making me a fantastic mom might have gone to my head.)

I bought sketchbooks and glue sticks and construction paper. I might also have bought the 64-pack of crayons with a built-in sharpener and I might not let the kids use it. (Oh, who am I kidding? Connor claimed that one right away.)

6 pack crayons

But I did get them a crayon meltdown art set, so maybe they won’t notice.

Connor loves it when boxes are delivered and loves opening them, especially when he can get his hands on the goods, so this is a hit already.

colouring

Ethan likes to make stuff. He also likes to write on things like walls and floors, so I’m hoping the plethora of paper options will keep him from causing an emergency of another sort (the kind involving a Magic Eraser and mama saying some bad words).

doing crafts

I like to colour, so I figure the contents of the emergency kit will set us up for some good summer days. And if the finger-painting goes sideways, well, at least there might be a Mother of the Year award in it for me. Even if it’s just the E for Effort category.

***

I shopped online at Staples.ca and bought the supplies using Visa Checkout and a Visa gift card that was given to me. I’ll admit to being a bit wary about how easy it would be to use, but I needn’t have been. It was super easy.

It’s not finicky like other pre-paid cards I’ve tried, and Visa Checkout makes it especially easy because you can create a single account sign-in that can be used across all devices (and no need to keep re-entering the card number or address either).

VISA CheckOut Button_4

Here’s a quick how-to for all you Canadians out there. There are just three steps on http://checkout.visa.com:

  • Step one: Create a username and password.
  • Step two: Enter your payment and shipping information. (You only have to do this once)
  • Step three: Look for the Visa Checkout button when you’re shopping online, enter your username and password, and go!

That’s it. Seriously. It’s secure and Visa’s Zero Liability policy applies in case of fraud.

You can use Visa Checkout at many of your favourite Canadian online stores, with many more joining each month. For a full list, visit https://checkout.visa.com/shopping.

And bonus! If you want to create your own summertime emergency kit, there’s a way to stock it extra full. From now through May 12, 2015, Canadians who use Visa Checkout on Staples.ca will receive $20 off when they spend $100! More info at http://www.staples.ca/VisaCheckout.

Giveaway

Want to start stocking up with a Visa gift card of your own? Enter to win one here. (Just promise to keep some unbroken crayons for me.)

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#RBCFirstHome Twitter chat

Just a quick post to tell you Canadians out there that RBC is hosting another Twitter chat for first home buyers on April 21 at 8:30 pm ET. I participated in one of these a few months ago to help promote it, because I remember buying our first house and how angst-inducing it was. RBC brings in a whole team, including a lawyer, realtor, builder, designer, mortgage expert and other experts to answer questions from nervous first-time home buyers and these chats are awesome. People asked such good questions and got great answers. Totally made me wish Twitter had been around when I was buying my first house.

In any case, if you want to join in you can ask your questions using #RBCFirstHome on April 21 at 8:30 pm ET. I’ll be there too!

RBC First Home Twitter chat April 21

Eating Like a First Grader

With Connor in Grade 1 this year, we’ve entered the world of making school lunches. Rich was excited about this on the first day of school and insisted on making Connor’s lunch, and I happily allowed that to turn into the new routine. But I’ve started doing them lately in an effort to make mornings easier, and it helps with my own plan to not feel like crap anymore. If I’m making lunch for Connor it’s easy to put together two containers of veggies and two of fruit and two of crackers and hummus (and give myself a pat on the back for eating healthy while I’m at it too).

Connor, of course, has a cool lunch kit with coloured containers that all fit nicely in his Batman lunch bag (which even has a cape), but now I do too, because I got a Rubbermaid LunchBlox set.

LunchBlox kit

This has been awesome for a few reasons. For one, it encourages the above-mentioned healthy eating. We have a great market in the building I work in, but it’s a little too easy to wander down and get some chocolate banana bread when the 3:00 hunger hits. I’ve swapped that habit for a different one – filling the orange container with veggies and the green with hummus. My veggie intake (definitely the hardest part of healthy eating for me) has gone way up.

LunchBlox small container

The blue section can be used as one big container, or there are a couple of inserts you can use to split things up as well. I’ve been taking a salad mix to work, so this works well for that, and I can add salad toppings (nuts, seeds, cranberries) to the other containers and mix it all together at lunchtime.

The containers snap together, and the whole lot snaps onto a layer of Blue Ice, which is handy when I don’t feel like putting my lunch in the fridge.

LunchBlox snapped-on Blue Ice

I’ve struggled for a long time to get in the habit of taking a lunch that has more things that are good for me than things I like. (Hi, my name is Robin and I’m a carbaholic.) I don’t know why this helps (maybe it’s similar to how fun-coloured pens always made doing homework seem easier), but it does.

Got any lunch tips for me? Sooner or later the carrots and snap peas are going to get boring, and I’d like to find ways to keep things interesting.

Disclosure: I am part of the Rubbermaid Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Becoming a Fit Chick

When I was in 3rd-year university, I rowed crew (but only for the year because by the end of it I had managed to psych myself out). We did two workouts a day – we were on the water at 5:15 every morning and did dry-land training each evening. I don’t remember much about what that was like other than having to try desperately not to fall asleep in my 8:30 a.m. classes.

One day our dry-land training was scheduled to be a session with a trainer from the BC Lions football team. I went dutifully down to the gym expecting it to be a damn hard workout, but I figured I’d do my best. I got there to discover that for some reason I was the only one who showed up. Whether it was a coincidence or everyone else wimped out or I was just the only one dumb enough to go I never did find out, but once you find yourself in a situation like that the only thing to do is suck it up and do what the big Hungarian man tells you to do.

The workout was a plyometric one – basically using your own body weight to increase speed and power. It’s really freaking hard, especially when you have a Canadian Football League trainer treating you like a varsity athlete and expecting you to complete the specified moves—no skimping on reps—without much of a fuss.

In the end, I got through it, and it still felt better than an earlier workout the day after coming back from Christmas break (during which I kept up my training exactly not at all), after which I threw up outside the university’s main gymnasium.

I’ll always remember that year, both for those two workouts as well as for the intensity of the beginning and end of my university rowing career. At the beginning, I went through tryouts and made the team thanks to my sheer determination not to die during the runs we had to do (there’s a reason I didn’t formally take up running until 10 years later), and I finished the year with my brain and its fear of pain winning out over what I had trained my body to do. All in all, it was a great experience.

Despite seriously thinking I was going to end up alone and stranded on the road leading up to the university during one of those tryout runs, I took up running after I got married because I had discovered I wasn’t the type of person to go to the gym. I do occasionally, but it’s boring and I hate strength training on my own. I liked running, on the other hand, because it was a challenge and it got me outside and I met some new people while doing it. I also subsequently discovered that I like at-home workouts. (Jillian Michaels was a frequent companion during my 30 days straight of exercise two years ago (eep! Already?!). I’ve been trying another new at-home series that I really like – it’s the FIT CHICKS Fierce in 8 series, which I was given to try out and share with you.

fitchicks-logo2

There’s a lot of things I like about these workouts, so as I sit here with my inner thighs burning that post-workout burn, I’ll share my top 10 with you.

1. It’s Canadian! Hooreh!

2. The use the term”fierce” a lot. I love that.

3. They introduced me to UFC squats (Google it and weep), which should rightfully stand for Unbelievably Freaking Challenging squats. They are SO hard.

4.With the Fierce in 8 DVD set, I have 8 workouts I can do at home. Much less boring than one workout (even one with 3 levels).

5. The workouts are only about 20 minutes, but they’re HIIT-style (high intensity interval training) so I really work for those 20 minutes.

6. They offer 2 levels to follow in each workout – one chick does the advanced moves while another shows modifications for beginners or lower-intensity options.

7. It’s hard enough that the first time I saw a lot of the moves I actually said, “Oh shit” out loud.

8. The UFC-bootcamp-style Fierce Fighter Chick workout made me feel totally badass.

9. They use a 10-second countdown clock (for when I feel like I can’t do anymore and then see that lovely 10-second countdown start and realize I can probably do a few more.

10. They have been SUPER friendly in all my communication with them.

FIT CHICKS Tex mex power bowl

In addition to the 8 workouts on DVD, this series includes an ebook with some tips, nutritional info, amazing recipes focusing on whole foods and clean eating, and a sample meal plan. Plus, there’s also a workout calendar, which I love. I’m all about calendars. It’s even colour-coded.

FIT CHICKS green smoothie

The FIT CHICKS workouts, along with a variety of motivational tools I’ve found (some of which I’ll share with you in upcoming Hello, Inspiration posts), actually have me feeling better about my fitness goals again after a tough fall that included getting really sick and totally losing my health mojo. The boost to my mental health is a nice side effect too.

dvd

How are your health goals going, whatever they are? Need a motivational kick-start? I’ve got a chance to win a Fierce in 8 set from FIT CHICKS below. To enter, leave a comment about your own health and fitness goals and complete the Rafflecopter entry form. (If you don’t want to rely on luck and want to get straight to it, you can buy the set on the FIT CHICKS website.)

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015!

 

About FIT CHICKS
Co-founded in 2008 by best friends Amanda Quinn and Laura Jackson, FIT CHICKS is the largest women’s-only fitness company in Canada. With a focus on fierce fitness for ALL women, FIT CHICKS offers 8-week, award-winning, boot-camp-style programs at over 20 locations, as well as weekend health retreats, DVD programs, personal training and host 2 TV Series called “Shape Up with FIT CHICKS” on Rogers TV. Their commitment to women’s health earned the company 2014 Top 10 Fitness Professionals in Canada by Can FIT Pro & 2013 Stevie Award for Women in Business – Health & Wellness Company of the Year. FIT CHICKS will continue its mission of getting Canadian women pumped about health in Season 9 of CBC’s Dragon’s Den and bringing their DVD programs to The Shopping Channel in Jan 2015. Visit www.fitchicks.ca for more information.

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Automagic photo sharing (+giveaway)

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the Locket app and how I’ve been using it to collect memories and photos of the boys. I filled up the fall months and already have some tree-decorating pictures in there for December.

The other piece to this is a frame that will display those photos to a family member or friend who’s far away (or near by, I suppose – I don’t know about you but I don’t do a very good job of visiting people in the next community over…).

I sent this frame to my sister and her husband, who live in another city and don’t get to see the boys all that often. The photos I’ve added to the app appear (automagically, as Connor would say) on their frame and lets them stay up to date on what we’ve been doing.

Locket frame by NixPlay

Ethan bowling

It’s pretty cool, actually. Once my sister turned it on and connected to WiFi, that was it. I just add photos and they get all the new ones on their frame. She also set it up so that it comes on automatically when it detects motion and goes off if it detects no movement for 5 minutes.

Locket frame by NixPlay

Connor with his new cousin

We haven’t done this yet, but you can sync up to 10 users on one account, so my sister could get photos of my nephews and new niece as well if my other sister and brother used the Locket app (available on iTunes). Photo sharing made super easy – I love it.

Want to give it a go? The Locket app is free (and it develops an e-timeline and a photo book as you go – visit www.lifelocket.net for more information), and I’m giving away a Locket frame, which is designed by NixPlay. The Locket Frame is available in three different sizes: 8”, 12” and 15” and if you want to get straight to it (Christmas present, perhaps?) you can find those through the shop section of the Locket app.

 

Disclosure: I am part of the Timewyse Locket blogger program with Mom Central and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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