Thursday, June 30, 2011

"S" @ 7 months: Bla Bla Bla!!

Sheesh, I feel like I just wrote our little girl's 6 month update, and here we are at 7 months already!

No doctor appointment this month so we relied on trusty ol' Wii Fit for S's weight, which clocked in at 7 kg including her clothes and diaper. That's 15.4 lbs, so probably about 14.5 in the buff. This puts her between percentile 5 and 10. Yup, she's definitely a li'l peanut. It's in the genes. But lemme tell ya - she is getting strong and feisty! :D

Here is her official 7-month photo:


(Have I mentioned yet how much I {HEART} BabyLegs, btw? No? Well another day, another post. :)

How about a "cover girl" shot this month as well? Hello, beautiful!!



Take a look at S's up-to-date month-to-month album here!

Alright, so what were the key developments this month? Physically, she continued to get stronger and quicker, as evidenced by the hair graveyards decorating our garbage bins and plugging up our drains. (Mommy has a much-needed hair cut booked for next week which should help reduce these occurences!)

I've started giving her toys as a distraction technique during diaper changes, otherwise she's twisting herself onto her tummy or yanking at the blinds.


She can also climb out of her Bruin inflatable activity nest, so we've retired this from the selection of short-term, non-human babysitters. :)

She's is THISCLOSE to crawling now as well! Here's a video taken at about 6 1/2 months showing her rocking, air kicking and downward facing dog maneuvers.

video

By the end of the month, she was managing a bit of forward momentum via an "army crawl" type move! I bet she'll be full-on crawling within another 2-3 weeks. (Just in time for cottaging and other Summer fun!)

Another milestone - by about 6 1/2 months, she was sitting up very confidently. She has also started exploring and focusing more deeply on objects, flipping them back and forth and upside down with her hands, rather than just immediately sticking them in her mouth. And she's getting good at zeroing in on and grabbing a particular object that she wants. Some of these developments can be seen in the following video of her playing with her shape sorting box; see how she grabs the green triangle (her favourite!) from among all the other shapes:

video

Her personality has really started developing this month! She has become a little babbler, cycling through various sounds such as da, guh, buh, ahhhh, something that sounds like "hi!" and bla bla bla. (Perhaps she's practising what she'll be saying to her Mom in 10-15 years?!? ;)

video

Have I used the word "feisty" in this post yet? She's definitely getting strong-willed and determined! For example, if she wants to look at another book, she'll climb over the side of the glider and try to grab one from the shelf. If you take away something she's playing with or try to wipe her hands when she doesn't want them wiped, she is quick to voice her displeasure! That's the Sco'ish coming through, heh!

What else? She's still enthralled with "mirror baby" and she loves other babies and young children - lots of giggles, coos and shrieks! She has really started reaching out for people she wants to be with (e.g. Mommy at bedtime - but it's all about the nummies!) and we're pretty sure we've seen her wave bye-bye at least a couple times! Oh, and she has inexplicably started doing this funny scrunchy-faced snuffle thing. Like this:



Where do babies get this stuff from? :)

Finally, we're beginning to get into a fairly consistent daily schedule. Two naps per day (late morning and mid-afternoon) and two feedings (lunch and dinner) - soon to be three as I'd like to start giving her a little cereal in the morning as well! In terms of variety, she's tried quite a few foods and even tasted a lemon recently at the multi-cultural festival! (Technically that was two days into her eighth month, but ehh.)

Now if Mommy could just have the discipline to get to bed at a reasonable hour - gah!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Note on Winner Announcements

Now that I've begun hosting giveaways myself, I can understand why many bloggers opt not to publish winner posts. Giveaways take a lot of time and effort, and creating special posts to announce winners just adds to that T&E!

However, as a giveaway enterer myself, I like to see winner results and I'd imagine many others do too. It's a bit frustrating to put effort into entering a giveaway and then wonder if perhaps - somehow - I DID win and just didn't see that email. Y'know?

So in an attempt to find a happy medium on my own blog, I'm going to list winners beside the closed contests directly on my Giveaways page. This means no more random.org screenshots, however hopefully you all trust that I'm using the tool with integrity! :) I'll strive to keep this page up-to-date so that enterers can see whether or not they won within a day or two of a contest closing. Hope this works for everyone!

I'm also hoping to start using Rafflecopter soon; just waiting for that invite!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Memorable Menu Plan Monday 6/27

I've decided to continue combining Memorable Monday and Menu Plan Monday. Why not? :)

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MENU PLAN:

This week's menu theme - simplicity and BBQ! Similar to last week, I'm only actually cooking 2-3 meals myself. Chris will be BBQing the other ones. :) He's been asking me to incorporate BBQ'd meals into my menu planning so here y'go, hubs!

Friday we're hosting a Canada Day BBQ at our place and either Wednesday or Thursday night we may be having friends over for another one (unconfirmed).

Monday:
BBQ'd chicken from Sobey's
Spinach tortellini with home-made alfredo sauce with broccoli

Tuesday:
Chicken noodle soup made from Monday's leftover chicken, onions, carrots, celery & macaroni. (I LOOOVE home-made chicken noodle soup. Chris says it isn't really a Summer meal and most people would probably agree, but I can personally eat it whenever and I can't bring myself to throw out a bird carcass without making a soup! Such wastage!)

Wednesday:
Maybe a BBQ? If not, I'll cook something from the pantry or cop out and do a frozen pizza or sumpin. :)

Thursday:
See Wednesday. :)

Friday:
BBQ - probably hamburgers & hotdogs. Maybe some snausages too. *nods*
Salad, taters, veggies and mushrooms on the side. 

Weekend:
Sunday we're in Kincardine at a picnic with Chris' extended family. Saturday - dunno. Maybe treat ourselves to dinner out!

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MEMORABLE POSTS:
  • Best. Reaction. Ever. from The Blonde Critic. So sweet and funny - you've gotta check this one out!
  • Who's up for "no-pooing" by Good Girl Gone Green. This isn't what it sounds like, heh. It's about why we might want to consider no longer using shampoo to wash our hair, and how to wean ourselves off . My good friend's husband does this and he has a super-thick, healthy looking head of hair. I might give it a whirl myself! (Now's a good time with cottaging coming up!)
  • Funny Parenting Quotes by Mama B. My favourite: “In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn’t danced on television.”
  • The Power Behind Date Nights by Simple Mom. Good tips on why & how to regularly "date" your spouse, post-kiddos. 
  • 80 Uses for Coconut Oil by Hybrid Rasta Mama. I can't wait to try some of these (and write about my experiences) when I receive the coconut oil I won from Tropical Traditions!
  • How to "Go Green" When Eating Out by Simple Organic. I'd never thought of bringing my own reusable take-out container to a restaurant before reading this, but I'm going to start! Why not? Such a simple way to cut down on some waste!
  • And finally, two articles which really spoke to my inner demons, if you will. :) What Motivates You by Live Renewed and Am I Normal? Wait, don't Answer That... by This Mom Loves.
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So what are you cooking up and reading this week? :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

No giveaway roundup this week. BUT....

Been a busy week, and busy blogging with my own giveaways going on, so I haven't had the chance to hunt around to fuel an updated listing. Sorry about that!

BUT...

In the meantime, check out the following great giveaway sources:
Hoping to be back next weekend with a new listing!

Our Intentional Summer Fun List!

In my last Memorable Monday post, I featured this great article from Simple Mom on Getting Organized for an Intentional Summer. It's all about planning to do what you want to do and not just letting yourself get caught up in the inevitable whirlwind of events that you feel you have to do.

I was inspired by this article (especially now that we have a little one to join us on our Summer adventures!) and ended up brainstorming with my husband to create our own "want to do" list. Thought I'd share it with you here!

  • Purchase and install above-ground pool in our backyard! ALMOST DONE - we ended up buying the Bestway HydroSoft soft-sided 15' pool & related accessories from Canadian Tire and Chris has been working hard setting it up! Should be ready this week. :D

  • Attend the KW Multicultural Festival in Victoria Park. DONE - S and I met Mom & Norm there today! We sampled lots of tasty international dishes and S enjoyed her first taste of lemon (yes - actually enjoyed it surprisingly.We were expecting a sour, scrunched up expression but nope - she just licked her lips and reached out for more!) I could have spent hours and hours (and lots of $$$) in the merchandise tents - especially loved the amazing hand-crafted jewelry and beautiful, exotic dresses and other clothing.

  • Attend the Canada Day events here in New Hamburg this Friday including the delicious AYCE breakfast, duck race and possibly the fireworks. Looks like we're going to work in a BBQ at our place as well so it'll be an action-packed day, but lots of fun!

  • Cottage-y goodness - spend a week on St. Joseph Island with Chris' family from July 9 to 16 and then take the Chi-Cheemaun ferry down to Tobermory and join Mom & Norm for a weekend in the Bruce. Fishing, biking, hiking, boating, lounging, bbqing - ah!

  • "Trial camp" with S in our back yard - sometime in August?

  • If all goes well with the trial camp, go camping for realsies later in August or early September!

  • More boating/fishing closer to home (this is a Chris item - I'll probably get my fill of boating up at the cottage! :)

  • Spend a weekend in Ottawa visiting friends

  • Take S to African Lion Safari and/or the Toronto Zoo

  • Take my best friend M out for a "girl's night" birthday dinner! (this is a Kristy item :)

  • Go on at least a couple dates with Chris! Perhaps hit the Stratford Festival, use our YukYuk's WagJag, go out for some fancy shmancy dinners - whatever we decide floats our boat!

  • Get a family photo shoot done - somewhere outdoors would be wonderful! (I scored a sweet Dealfind for this.)

  • Host and attend a few BBQs with friends and family - and possibly invite our neighbours for a drop-in event. We'll see how ambitious we get. ;)

 So what are your big "want to dos" this Summer?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Great Canadian Blog Bash! (+ Hungry for a Giveaway?) (Closed)


Hosted by: Whispered Inspirations, Mom vs. The Boys, Pampered Patty, Good Girl Gone Green and Kat’s Confessions.

For a few weeks now, I've been following the TGCBB buzz and have planned to check out the patriotism and hopefully win m'self some great Canadian swag. But then this morning, it hit me - why not take part myself? I love my country, I love giveaways, and I super-super-love connecting with new bloggers - especially fellow Canucks! So if you're here for the first time, thanks so much for hopping by and hope you enjoy what you find here! And if you've been here before, so glad you popped back in! Now I invite all my visitors to grab yourselves a Blue or a Timmy's, settle on into that comfy chesterfield and read on, eh? Oh forgot to mention - for a mere toonie, you can snag some tasty poutine and a pop from the the fry truck outside.

OK I'll stop now. :)

With the Canadian-isns, that is. But I'm going to continue talking about food (or more specifically, Canadian food), as that is the theme of my TGCBB post! So let's get to it!

Early this month, my husband whisked our family away on a wonderful surprise trip - to the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario!


Although I've lived in Ontario all my life, I had never been to Prince Edward County until this trip. And boy, was I missing out! This is an extremely charming and picturesque area of the province renowned for its fine wineries, gourmet restaurants, sand dune beaches, artist studios and galleries and, of course, !!!CHEESE!!!

Here are a few pics from our trip:





At the festival, we tasted some most excellent wine and nibbled on utterly scrumptious cheeses and other delectables. Some of the products we tried were SO memorable that I decided to highlight them in this post!

First up - Black River Cheese!


We found their cheese to be SOO fresh and flavourful! Their pepper jack was especially tasty so we picked some up to bring home. They also make a maple cheddar (how Canadian is that?!) which I wasn't the biggest fan of myself but is apparently a top seller.

A bit more from their website:

The historic Black River Cheese Company is located in picturesque Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. It was started in 1901 by local farmers and is still a small production facility dedicated to preserving a tradition of making superior cheese.

Black River Cheese Company's award-winning cheese continues to gain loyal customers including Natural Health Food stores and specialty sections of supermarkets. We have a fine selection of naturally aged cheddar, mozzarella, brick, fresh curd, and flavoured mozzarella specialty cheeses and we only use animal-free rennet.  At our factory outlet there are gift cheese boxes and baskets available year round, cheese trays for entertaining and a variety of gifts and souvenirs.  Soft and hard ice cream is available in season.


Next - Empire Cheese!


These guys make the tastiest, SQUEAKIEST cheese curds I've ever tried! Unfortunately when we tried to pick some up on the way home at a nearby Sobey's, the store was out of stock. No wonder - I bet these bad boys go within hours.

A bit more from their website:

At Empire, our cheese is made in the traditional way in open-style vats which in our opinion gives the cheese and curd a better flavour. We use no additives to boost production and there are no flavours added to our Cheddar. It is all natual, with no preservatives added.

The cheese is vacuum-packed in our modern facilities to preserve the special flavour. A true mix of tradition and modern technology to give our customers the best product possible.

Last, but certainly not least - The Sprucewood Handmade Cookie Company!


O. M. G. If I were to suffer death by cookie, it would most certainly be by the utterly additive, melt-in-your-mouth handmade shortbread cookies made by these fellas. They offer a divine selection of both sweet and savoury shortbreads. My personal flavourites (ha!) are Dark Chocolate, Raspberry and Spicy Thai. One of the best things about these cookies is that they actually contain very little sugar; the focus is on capturing the flavour essence.

We ended up buying 8, count'em, 8 boxes of these cookies to bring home. Do yourself a flavour (har I did it again!) - visit their Where to Buy page and then march over to the nearest retailer and pick some of these up for yourself. You won't be sorry!


In addition to the good eats at the festival, we also enjoyed breakfast twice at Chesterfields Homegrown Cafe, an eatery in downtown Picton run by friends of my husband. Chesterfields strives to use local ingredients whenever possible and the dishes are prepared from scratch so the food is fresh and delicious. Their B.E.L.C.H brekky sandwich (bacon, egg, lettuce, cheese & ham) is particularly popular. The cafe's ambiance is hip & funky yet non-pretentious, and there's always a great selection of music accompanying the dining experience. I wish we had a Chesterfields here in the 'Hammy!

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Hungry yet? Well, how about a giveaw-eh??

In the spirit of the Canadian food theme, one of my readers will win a $25 gift card to M&M Meat Shops!


From their website:

M&M Meat Shops is proud to be Canada's largest retail chain of specialty frozen foods with locations coast to coast. We offer a delectable selection of more than 375 mouth-watering products. You’ll find your trusted family favourites plus exciting new tastes to satisfy the most selective palates. And, the majority of our dishes are ready to thaw-and-serve or heat-and-serve to make meal prep easier for you.

To enter, please leave a separate comment for each entry, and include your email address with each one. The number beside each action denotes how many entries it is worth, so make sure to leave the corresponding number of comments if you complete that action. I'll be checking each entry for validity, so please ensure that you complete all actions as indicated.

Mandatory entry:
  • Tell me something you like that is Canadian food or drink-related - your favourite restaurant, winery, product, timbits flavour, etc. :) (+1)
Additional Entries:
  • Follow "Manager to Mom" publically via Google Friend Connect (see right sidebar); include your first name and last initial (+1)
  • Like "Manager to Mom" on Facebook; include your Facebook first name and last initial (+1)
  • Follow @managertomom on Twitter; include your Twitter username (+1)
  • Subscribe via email (see right sidebar) (+1)
  • Subscribe via RSS (see right sidebar) (+1)
  • Grab my button for your blog and leave the link where it can be found (see left sidebar) (+3)
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave the link to your post (+3)
  • Vote for me on Picket Fence Blogs; can be done once daily. (+1 each)
  • Tweet this giveaway; can be done once daily. (+1 each) Please use the following tweet or create your own; must contain @managertomom, #TCGBB and a link to this giveaway post: 
Canadians, are you hungry for a #giveaway? #Win a $25 M&M Meat Shops gift card from @managertomom! http://tinyurl.com/6bz5wh8 7/1 #TCGBB

Open to residents of Canada.  This giveaway will end on July 1, 2011 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be chosen by Random.org, emailed, and announced on my blog shortly after giveaway ends. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to my email before a new winner is chosen.

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by me.  I received no financial compensation for writing this post or offering this giveaway.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Following a daily schedule: my latest organizational conquest!

As I've written about on various occasions, one of the goals I've set for myself as a new mom is to become more organized and efficient. A few months back, I was feeling pretty out of control but I've made some key strides since then with the biggest being menu planning. (I'm proud of myself for (more or less) sticking to the process and it has *definitely* resulted in time and cost savings, healthier eating and a reduction in wasted food!)

My latest "conquest" has been to create and follow a fairly consistent daily schedule. In addition to the overarching goal as stated above, there are a couple main motivators for this. First of all, S has been a crapper. (A crappy napper. Yes, I just made that up, and yes you can feel free to use it yourself. :) She naps irregularly and for very short periods of time, and it's very difficult to settle her for a nap in the first place. Second, now that she's on solids, we want to feed her meals at regular-ish times which is quite a change from the demand feeding non-schedule we were on when she was EBF.

Some of my favourite mama bloggers have written great content on daily scheduling/flow which has motivated me and helped me build my own schedule. I encourage you to check out the following terrific posts if you're in the same boat as I am, looking to build some structure into your days:
Also check out the recent post Ten Time-Saving Tips to Make Life as a Busy Mom Easier by Shining 2 Save - some good overall organizational tips!


So below what I've drummed up for our own li'l family. I'm not expecting nor wanting this to be an extremely rigid schedule (as this would be limiting in various ways) but rather a guideline for when basic events/tasks should happen over an "average" day. Of course, there will be those days when we essentially throw the schedule out the window - such as this Saturday when we're planning to attend 3, count'em, 3 birthday parties. Whew! And, obviously, the schedule will need to adjust accordingly as our daughter's needs change and other big life events take place (e.g. me returning to work, having additional children, etc.)

One more thing. Items with a * beside them are daily happenings which we cannot fully control (for example, S waking once to feed in the early morning - something she usually does, but not always), so we'll need to be able to adapt when one of these things does not happen as planned.

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5:00 to 6:00 AM: S wakes up to feed; nurse her back to sleep. *
6:30 AM: Wake up, shower, coffee, "do my thing" for a bit (emails, news, tidy, etc.)
7:00 to 8:00: S wakes up for the day. * Change, play a little bit.
8:30: Make & eat breakfast (for Chris and me). Clean.
9:30ish: Nurse S
9:45:  Play with S. Toys, books, etc. Go outside if it is nice out.
10:30 to 11:30: S morning nap. *
12:00:  Make & eat lunch (for all of us). Clean.
1:00: Play with S. Big chunk of play time here so use some of it to do some easy/quick chores (e.g. fold laundry)
2:30ish: Nurse S
3:15: Take S for a walk. (She almost inevitably falls asleep during this.)
3:30: S afternoon nap. *
4:30: Play with S until Chris fnishes work.
5:00: Make dinner. Chris has time with S.
5:30: Chris feeds S dinner
6:00 to 6:30: Chris and I eat dinner
6:30: Chris spends more time with S; I clean up
7:15: S bath
7:30: Chris changes S into night dipe & PJs, reads her a couple books or other quiet play time (if she is in the mood)
7:45: Nurse S
8:00: S to bed *
8:15: Chris and I have separate "me time" (I blog, he plays games, watches sports, catches up on a little work (if necessary), etc.)
10:00 to 10:30: Head up to bed; Chris and I spend some time together (watch part of a movie, show episode, talk, "other" ;)
11:00 to 11:30: Chris and I go to sleep

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Question for my readers - do you schedule your days as well? I would love to hear any scheduling or general organizational tips which you've found particularly helpful!

Meeno Babies "Cool Mee" Seat Liner - Review and Giveaway! (Closed)


Our 7-month-old daughter S is a hot li'l thing! Whether she's nursing, rolling around on her playmat or riding to the grocery store with Mommy, she's bound to work up a good sweat when the temperature is up even a little bit! (More than once, we've noticed a wet patch on the head rest of her car seat following a long drive - poor li'l thing!) So when I first learned about the company Meeno Babies and their "Cool Mee" seat liner collection designed to keep babies cool and comfortable when travelling, I thought, "Wow - this product was made for my daughter!!" and knew I had to try one out. Therefore, I was thrilled when I contacted the company and they were eager to team up for a review and giveaway! 

Meeno Babies offers three different types of "Cool Mee" liners - one for infant car seats (or "bucket seats"), one for baby/toddler car seats and one for strollers.


The collection aims to improve upon existing seat liners in today's market. As per the marketing video posted on their website:

"Cool Mee" is a breathable, universally-fitting machine-washable seat liner that wicks away moisture from your baby's skin. "Cool Mee" seat liners have a patented design to fit your every day car seat and stroller, and keep your seats clean to reduce stains on your investments.

The following illustration shows how a "Cool Mee" liner is constructed to help keep your baby cool, dry and comfortable and your seat protected:


In terms of safety, the liners are CPSIA compliant and crash tested, which is reassuring! Furthermore, I've come across words of caution about placing thick materials between the car seat and baby (due to the fact that they would compress in an accident, adding slack and possibly causing injury or even ejection) however "Cool Mee" liners are very thin so they do not elicit the same concerns.

I had a bit of a hard time deciding between the bucket seat and stroller liners for the review. However, I ended up choosing the bucket seat liner as our family will be travelling quite a bit this summer (including an 8 hour trip, both ways) so S will be spending a lot of time in her car seat. I picked the Quick Silver colour to match the material in her seat.

My "Cool Mee" arrived very promptly. Here it is in its super cute box - hello Mr. Penguin!


Out of the box, the liner felt very light-weight and I had the immediate impression that the materials and construction are of an extremely high quality.


Now product installation is most certainly not my forte, however I found it quite easy to attach the liner to S's Graco SnugRide car seat. The shoulders sit under the seat belt straps, the top part is secured via a strap attached to a velcro sticker placed on the back of the head rest and the seat belt comes through a slit at the bottom. Three slits are available, presumably to accommodate slight size differences in car seats. This was the one part I wasn't 100% sure about as I ended up trying a couple of the slits before deciding on the one which seemed to fit the best. On this note, it would be helpful if the installation instructions (which are otherwise very clear) included guidelines to assist the user in determining which slit to use.

Once installed, the liner sat nice & snug against her seat!


Alright - time to get our little tester in there to try it out!

First of all, we noticed that the alignment was bang on. Look how her head rests right in the middle of the top section. (Oh, and she's smiling - that's a good sign too, right?)


Today was perfect for testing out our new "Cool Mee"! It was about 25 degrees Celsius (77 F) and I had a whole slew of events and errands planned out. I'd normally put on the AC in the van to help S stay cool, however she took one for the team and endured the heat in order to help Mommy with the review. :) So how did our new liner perform? Well, in lieu of the ability to obtain a direct report from S (such is the challenge we Mommy review bloggers face ;) I deduced that it worked as intended, based on the following clues:
  • As usual, S got sweaty. However the liner material against her skin felt dry to the touch and the hair at the back of her head wasn't nearly as wet as it usually gets under similar conditions. It appeared that a lot of the moisture was indeed wicking away.
  • Each time we started driving, she fell asleep within minutes! While she does sleep fairly often in the car, it's unusual for her to nod off so quickly and frequently. She must have been really comfy in there!
On the topic of sleeping babies, however, I found one issue with the liner's design. Many babies (S included) sleep with their head tilted to the side. Unfortunately, when this happens, Baby's head is no longer on the liner. I found myself wondering if the design could be altered slightly to include a wider head piece to solve this problem. Not sure if this is feasible given the liner needs to fit all bucket seats, but I think this adjustment would make the product even more effective.

Another (fairly minor) constructive criticism is that the liner can shift fairly easily, especially when Baby gets squirmy!! However it's quick and easy to smooth it back down into its proper position so it's ready for the next excursion.

All in all, I really like this product and I'm confident it will help our daughter be much more comfortable on all the long drives we have planned this summer! I would definitely recommend it to parents who are looking for ways to make travel more comfortable for their own little ones. 


Buy It!

You can purchase your own "Cool Mee" liner directly from the Meeno Babies website or locate a retailer near you that sells Meeno Babies products.


Win It!

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win their own Meeno Babies "Cool Mee" seat liner, in their choice of type and colour!

To enter, please leave a separate comment for each entry, and include your email address with each one. The number beside each action denotes how many entries it is worth, so make sure to leave the corresponding number of comments if you complete that action. I'll be checking each entry for validity, so please ensure that you complete all actions as indicated.

Mandatory entry:
  • Visit Meeno Babies and let me know which type and colour of "Cool Mee" liner you would select if you won!
Additional Entries:
  • Like MeenoBabies on Facebook; include your Facebook first name and last initial. It would be nice to thank them for the giveaway as well (although not mandatory). (+1)
  • Follow @meenobabies on Twitter; include your Twitter username (+1)
  • Follow "Manager to Mom" publically via Google Friend Connect (see right sidebar); include your first name and last initial (+1)
  • Like "Manager to Mom" on Facebook; include your Facebook first name and last initial (+1)
  • Follow @managertomom on Twitter; include your Twitter username (+1)
  • Subscribe via email (see right sidebar) (+1)
  • Subscribe via RSS (see right sidebar) (+1)
  • Grab my button for your blog and leave the link where it can be found (see left sidebar) (+3)
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave the link to your post (+3)
  • Add this giveaway to a Linky List and leave the URL so I can find it (+1 per list)
  • Vote for me on Picket Fence Blogs; can be done once daily. (+1 each)
  • Tweet this giveaway; can be done once daily. (+1 each) Please use the following tweet or create your own; must contain @managertomom, @meenobabies and a link to this giveaway post: 
Keep Baby cool & comfy on the go! #Win a "Cool Mee" seat liner from @managertomom and @meenobabies ! http://tinyurl.com/3kcz7ne CAN/US 7/05

Open to residents of Canada and the US.  This giveaway will end on July 5, 2011 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be chosen by Random.org, emailed, and announced on my blog shortly after giveaway ends. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to my email before a new winner is chosen.

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Meeno Babies.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample item free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Memorable Menu Plan Monday

Yes that's right. I'm combining Memorable Monday and Menu Plan Monday this week. Why? 'cause I want to do both, but I'm on a self-imposed time budget as I'm *exhausted*. I need to get myself a few nights of solid sleep in a row. So I'm going to try to do this post in 9 minutes.

Let's rock.

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MENU PLAN:

I'm only cooking three meals this week. (See above note on exhaustion.) Meal inspiration? The thriving basil and cilantro in the back deck planters which are begging to be pruned down! :)

Monday:
Pasta with basil, tomatoes and feta served over PC Dine-In Tonight Fire-Roasted Goat Cheese and Tomato Girasoli. These dine-in tonight pastas are super-delicious. I just wish the portions were a bit bigger as I'm still on a mission to gain back some weight and my appetite is ginormous. 

Tuesday:
Phad Thai w/ shrimp & tofu. I've had a hankering for this for some time now. 

Wednesday:
Thai red curry. Both basil and cilantro will go into this scrumptious dish! 

Thursday:
Quiznos subs. I have a Wagjag I need to use. 

Friday:
Leftovers. There should be plenty from Tues and Weds! 

Weekend:
Lots of food-tastic events, including THREE birthday parties and the KW Multicultural festival! Our kitchen will be closed down. :)

*******************************************

MEMORABLE POSTS:

  • Living a Good Story in the Chaos and Getting Organized for an Intentional Summer by Simple Mom. Great posts about living intentionally. I was inspired by the second one in particular which led to Chris and I brainstorming our own "want to do" list for this coming summer. I'll post on this soon!
  • Sunscreen by Job Description: Mommy (via guest poster Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama). Great info on why it may be wise to avoid traditional sunscreens and alternative methods for protecting your skin from the sun.
  • Flats and Handwashing Challenge Survey Results by Dirty Diaper Laundry. A HUUUUGE collection of interesting stats and comments are included here; definitely take a look if you want to know more about diapering with flats and/or cleaning dipes without a washer/dryer.
  • Ten Ways to Stress Out a Blogger by Simply Stacie. All I can say here is "Amen"! Great read if you're a blogger, a giveaway sponsor or a giveaway enterer. (Or any combination of the above!)
  • Life in the NICU - How to cope by Little Miss Kate. Some great tips for "riding the NICU rollercoaster" from a Mama who has been there!
  • Infant Massage Basics by Natural Parents Network. There are some tips here on alleviating digestive problems which I'd like to try on S as she has the tendency to get a li'l bunged up. :-/

******************************************* 

OK that took a half hour. *chastizes self*

Bedtime!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy First Father's Day to my Wonderful Husby!!

To celebrate the occasion, S wanted to share some of her favourite photos of her with her Daddy :)





Family-Friendly Giveaway Roundup open to Canadians - 06/19

Hope you enjoy this week's roundup, and good luck!!! Don't forget to enter the latest Manager to Mom giveaways as well! :)

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06/19: Wallypop fitted diaper + fleecy wrap (WORLDWIDE)
Hosted by: Formula Mom
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 5; current entries:416

06/19: 2 Kawaii Goodnight Heavy Wetter diapers (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Mama on a Green Mission
Mandatory entry: Comment on cloth diapering
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 4; current entries:524

06/20: AMP AIO diaper from Abigail's Diapers (WORLDWIDE)
Hosted by: Formula Mom
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 5; current entries:692

(NEW) 06/20: Sobey's $25 gift card (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: Tales of a Ranting Ginger
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 2; current entries:233

(NEW) 06/20: Personalized wooden baby block from Craft-E-Family (CAN/US)
Hosted by: One Smiley Monkey
Mandatory entry: GFC follow; Facebook like
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 11; current entries:153

(NEW) 06/20: Toots 'N' Tots small wetbag (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Glimpse Reviews
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 3; current entries:123

(NEW) 06/20: Jolimini cloth diaper (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Happenings of the Harper Household
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 0; current entries:651

06/21: itti bitti d'lish AIO diaper (WORLDWIDE)
Hosted by: Formula Mom
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 5; current entries:936

06/21: itti bitti tutto diaper (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Tales From the Nursery
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 0; current entries:529

06/21: AppleCheeks Print Diaper (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Dirty Diaper Laundry
Mandatory entry: None
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 0; current entries:470
** Note - several other blogs are giving away AppleCheeks print diapers as well! View the link above for a full list!

06/21: PlanetWise reusable bags (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Mama Chocolate
Mandatory entry: GFC follow; Facebook lik
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 2; current entries:N/A

06/22: Tropical Traditions Dishwasher Detergent (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Rachel's Reviews and Giveaways
Mandatory entry: Newsletter sign-up
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 2; current entries:306

06/22: Mother-ease Sandy's System (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Formula Mom
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 5; current entries:1161

(NEW) 06/22: Four custom coasters from Budding Artists (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: Did You Know Canada?
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 2; current entries:55

06/23: 10 cloth wipes, 2 diaper liners and 2 inserts from Olie & Ava (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Knocked Up and Nursing
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 0; current entries:195

06/23: Envibum diaper + extra absorbency pad (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Formula Mom
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 5; current entries:1498

06/24: MiniMaestro pocket diaper + insert (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Formula Mom
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 5; current entries:1112

06/24: $50 Starter Kit from Gladiator GarageWorks (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: My Wee View
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:140

06/25: Lovely Pocket Diaper (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Formula Mom
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 5; current entries:1114

06/25: Lovely Pocket Diaper (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Tales From the Nursery
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 0; current entries:635

06/25: SmartBottoms AIO Diaper (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Six in the Nest
Mandatory entry: GFC follow; website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 2; current entries:116

(NEW) 06/25: Little Jots note cards (CAN/US)
Hosted by: West Coast Mama
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:48

06/26: 3 AppleCheeks cloth diapers (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Baby Dickey's Giveaways
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 0; current entries:N/A

06/27: 2 Itti Bitti diapers + 1 wetbag (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Knocked Up and Nursing
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 0; current entries:528

(NEW) 06/27: Libre Tea Glass (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: Did You Know Canada?
Mandatory entry: Comment on favourite time for tea!
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 2; current entries:147

(NEW) 06/27: Thirsties Duo Diaper (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: Lindsay's Family Reviews and Giveaways
Mandatory entry: GFC follow; website visi
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:152

(NEW) 06/28: Libre Tea Glass (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Natural Baby Goods
Mandatory entry: Email subscribe; website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:113

(NEW) 06/28: BubuBibi cloth diaper, wet bag and liners (CAN/US)
Hosted by: The Momccupatio
Mandatory entry: GFC follow; Facebook like; website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 5; current entries:106

06/29: Mother-ease diaper, wrap & liner (CAN/US)
Hosted by: One Smiley Monkey
Mandatory entry: GFC follow; Facebook like
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 11; current entries:317

(NEW) 06/29: Hasbro board game (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: Natural Baby Goods
Mandatory entry: Email subscribe; website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:144

(NEW) 06/29: Kissaluvs antibacterial wetbag (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Lindsay's Family Reviews and Giveaways
Mandatory entry: GFC follow; website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:73

06/30: TomTom GO 2505 TM Car Navigation Device (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: Mommy Kat and Kids
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:783

(NEW) 06/30: $20 to www.nhdcanada.com (RearZ) (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: Mommy Kat and Kids
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 72; current entries:150

(NEW) 06/30: $30 to Organically Hatched (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Crunchy Beach Mama
Mandatory entry: None
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 0; current entries:93

(NEW) 07/01: Gran Manan 4 person tent from Eureka Tents (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: A Busy Mommy
Mandatory entry: None
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:288

(NEW) 07/03: Set of 6 Organic Bamboo Cloth Wipes - 2 winners! (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Cloth Diaper Makers **
Mandatory entry: GFC follow OR product comment
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:6
** Note - this is a brand new site which provides assistance (and inspiration) for making cloth diapers! Check them out and show 'em some love!!

(NEW) 07/03: Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag (CAN/US)
Hosted by: One Smiley Monkey
Mandatory entry: GFC follow; Facebook like
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 11; current entries:N/A

(NEW) 07/04: $100 gift certificate to well.ca - 2 winners! (CAN ONLY)
Hosted by: Shasher's Life
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 2; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:166

(NEW) 07/06: Bee-Bop Baby AI2/Pocket diaper (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Knocked Up and Nursing
Mandatory entry: Website visit
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 1; current entries:212

(NEW) 07/07: Boba Carrier (CAN/US)
Hosted by: Freckleberry Finds
Mandatory entry: GFC follow
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 2; current entries:487

(NEW) 07/11: Thirsties Duo Wrap & Duo Hemp Prefold (WORLDWIDE)
Hosted by: One Smiley Monkey
Mandatory entry: GFC follow; Facebook like
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 11; current entries:N/A

??? (1000 GFC followers): $50 Surprise coth diaper package (CAN/US)
Hosted by: The Tree Huggin' Mama
Mandatory entry: GFC follow
# winners: 1; daily entries pp: 0; current entries:N/A

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Notes:
  • Giveaways are listed in chronological order by closing date
  • Most of the giveaways I'm currently scouting out are for cloth diapers and related products, so there is a heavy lean toward these
  • All giveaways I post will be open to Canadians; some exclusively. I'll indicate whether a particular contest is CAN/US, CAN ONLY or WORLDWIDE beside each listing.
  • To help you decide which giveaways to enter, I will list the mandatory entry, the number of winners (# winners), the number of daily entries per person (daily entries pp) and the current number of total entries at the time of this writing (current entries).
  • Giveaways which have just been added to the list this week have a NEW tag.
  • If you know of a great family-friendly product giveaway open to Canadians which is missing from my list, feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Thanks! 

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    My Giveaway Wins: A Pictorial!

    As I'm sure it's been abundantly clear over the last few months, I HEART giveaways! Both entering and hosting them!

    I've won some terrific prizes since I started entering giveaways earlier this year. I've seen other bloggers post listings of prizes they've won to show that yes indeedy, people do win at these things. I thought I'd do the same, however I decided to "spice it up" a bit and provide pics and brief descriptions of each prize as well. My giveaway win slideshow can be found on my Facebook page here! (It's about time I added some photos o'er there - the album area was looking quite sparse!)


    I'll continue to update it if/as I receive additional prizes.

    Thanks to all the wonderful hosts and sponsors out there! Through your giveaways, I've had the opportunity to discover some awesome companies and products, and I've been more than happy to spread the word! :D

    Cloth Wipes Challenge

    April over at Mama on a Green Mission has issued a Cloth Wipes Challenge! The goal is to ONLY use cloth wipes from June 22 to July 22.

    I'm happy to say that this will be easy for Chris and me as we've been using cloth wipes full time for about 3-4 weeks now. You may recall back in January when I posted a cloth dipe & wipe update, including the recipe we use for our wipe solution and our method of "application". I then posted a few adjustments to our cloth wipe routine in February. So all was working out well - for CWing at home, that is. We still used 'sposie wipes while out and about because it seemed like the easiest thing to do.

    ...until one day we suddenly realized that it wasn't. We'd grown tired of picking the disposable wipes out of the wet bag (or out of the clean laundry, if a few snuck in there unnoticed) and running out of sposie wipes in the little plastic container. And  then it hit us: cloth wipes could simply be tossed in the diaper bag along with clean dipes. And the wipes solution?


    Perfect fit!!! Now we just need to remember to take it back to her change table when we return home. :)

    Anyone else out there use cloth wipes full time? For those who don't, anyone up for the Cloth Wipes Challenge?

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Thirty-One Gifts by Lisa King - Review and Giveaway! (Closed)


    If you've read my About page, you may recall that I detest clutter! I strive to keep our home and possessions organized on a daily basis, especially now that we have a daughter who has multiplied the amount of "stuff" kicking around our house! So when I was contacted by Lisa King, an independent consultant with the growing company Thirty-One Gifts, my interest was certainly piqued. In addition to a very large selection of stylish purses (their main product category), Thirty-One also offers numerous organizational and storage items - including those catered to babies and young children! Sweet!! :)

    Thirty-One is a direct selling company, currently operating within the United States exclusively. Within 6 years, its team of consultants has expanded to nearly 10,000 so the company is growing quickly! Lisa King is based in Tell City, Indiana. She was wonderful to work with during this giveaway, providing a comprehensive rundown of the Thirty-One products she felt would be a good fit for my family and my blog. She was also willing to ship the review and giveaway items free of charge to Canada, so that my Canadian readers would also be able to take part in the giveaway and learn about this great company. Thanks so much, Lisa! Take a look at her personal page on Thirty-One for her contact information and a listing of her current events. Check her out on Facebook and Twitter as well!

    Thirty-One has so many nifty products that it was hard to choose just one to review, however we ended up deciding on the Square Utility Tote, a flexible and stylish container for storing and/or transport household items. I thought this would be perfect for S's toys, so I ordered it in the super-cute "Cheeky Elephants" print. Here it is!


    The tote measures approximately 9" H x 12" W x 12" D, so it is very roomy and can hold a lot of stuff! Here it is holding a bunch of S's "wipe down only" toys (those are a pain, aren't they? :) I'd just finished wiping them in S's nursery while she had fun rolling around beside me, and then I used the tote to bring 'em all back downstairs!


    One thing I really like about the tote is that it has soft handles which meet in the middle and can be grabbed with one hand. This is really convenient when you're holding a baby (or something else) and your other hand is unavailable! 


    Another nice feature is that the tote folds flat, so it takes up very little room if you want to store it away or pack it to bring on an excursion.


    Finally, while this is certainly a very practical item from an organizational standpoint, it also has aesthetic appeal! The Cheeky Elephant pattern looks cute in S's nursery, and the tote comes in several other patterns to suit different tastes!


    All in all, I think this tote is a simple but effective and stylish organizational item, and I'll certainly be using it a lot to keep clutter under wraps in our home!

    Buy It!

    The Square Utility Tote is available exclusively from Thirty-One Gifts. You can order one (and/or any of the other great items in their catalog) from Lisa King or from a consultant closer to home, if you prefer. Find a consultant in your particular area.

    Win It!

    One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win their own Square Utility Tote, in their choice of pattern!


    To enter, please leave a separate comment for each entry, and include your email address with each one. The number beside each action denotes how many entries it is worth, so make sure to leave the corresponding number of comments if you complete that action. I'll be checking each entry for validity, so please ensure that you complete all actions as indicated.

    Mandatory entry:
    Additional Entries:
    • Like Thirty-One Gifts by Lisa King on Facebook; include your Facebook first name and last initial. It would be nice to thank Lisa for the giveaway as well (although not mandatory). (+1)
    • Follow @31giftsbylisak on Twitter; include your Twitter username (+1)
    • Follow "Manager to Mom" publically via Google Friend Connect (see right sidebar); include your first name and last initial (+1)
    • Like "Manager to Mom" on Facebook; include your Facebook first name and last initial (+1)
    • Follow @managertomom on Twitter; include your Twitter username (+1)
    • Subscribe via email (see right sidebar) (+1)
    • Subscribe via RSS (see right sidebar) (+1)
    • Grab my button for your blog and leave the link where it can be found (see left sidebar) (+3)
    • Blog about this giveaway and leave the link to your post (+3)
    • Add this giveaway to a Linky List and leave the URL so I can find it (+1 per list)
    • Vote for me on Picket Fence Blogs; can be done once daily. (+1 each)
    • Tweet this giveaway; can be done once daily. (+1 each) Please use the following tweet or create your own; must contain @managertomom, @31giftsbylisak and a link to this giveaway post: 
    Reduce clutter in style! #Win a Square Utility Tote from @managertomom and @31giftsbylisak ! http://tinyurl.com/669k6tz CAN/US 6/30

    Open to residents of Canada and the US, except those who are active consultants of Thirty-One.  This giveaway will end on June 30, 2011 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be chosen by Random.org, emailed, and announced on my blog shortly after giveaway ends. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to my email before a new winner is chosen.

    Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Lisa King, independent consultant for Thirty-One Gifts.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample item free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Solids Update - Orange is Good and Green is Bad!

    It's been over a month since we first introduced S to solids, so I thought I'd do a li'l update on how she's progressed since then! She's definitely making it clear which foods she hearts, and which we can scrape right into the toilet, TYVM. That said, it seems like this can change over time (as evidenced by her reaction to bananas, for one thing) so there's still hope for those green veggies!

    On a related note, we haven't experimented any further with baby-led weaning since broccoli day. Time constraints and anxiety over the prospect of choking (merited or not) are the culprits here. I'd like to incorporate more of this, however, as I think it's really good for her development to be able to explore food fully on her own. But I think I'll have Chris there with me next time just in case something does go awry!

    Here's a food introduction timeline so far:
    • May 5 - Rice cereal (home-made, kinda liked)
    • May 11-12 - Pear (home-made puree, disliked)
    • Week of May 15th - Peas (home-made puree, disliked)
    • Week of May 15th - Oatmeal cereal (home-made, kinda liked)
    • Week of May 15th - Rice cracker (store-bought, liked)
    • Week of May 22nd - Prunes (store-bought puree, liked) 
    • Week of May 22nd - Avocado (home-made mash, disliked) 
    • Week of May 29th - My Organic Baby oatmeal cereal (bought, liked)
    • Week of May 29th - Steamed broccoli (BLW, kinda liked)
    • June 7 - Sweet potato (home-made puree, liked)
    • June 9 - Banana take 2 (home-made mash, disliked)
    • June 12 - Carrots (home-made puree, liked)
    • June 15 - Banana (home-made mash, liked)
    • June 16 - Spinach (home-made puree, disliked)
    Next on the radar - peas, avocado and pear take 2, beans, peaches and possibly another grain such as barley. We're going to hold off on meats for a little while yet!

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    SoftPlay "Lift and Look" Books - Review and Giveaway! (Closed)

     

    Books and puzzles are two of my favourite forms of "edutainment" for children. I built up a huge collection of each when I was a kid, and my husband and I are in the process of doing the same for our own daughter. So when I got the opportunity to work with SoftPlay and review their "Lift and Look" books (one of many types of soft books and interactive toys that they offer for children), I was very excited. Why? Well, because these are pretty much books and puzzles rolled up into one! How cool is that?

    The "Lift and Look" books are SoftPlay's most popular series for children ages 2+. Here is the description of these books from their website:

    Young readers will love to LEARN using the soft, lift-out pieces that are featured in the Lift And Look books! The shiny, foil-enhanced pictures and fun, interactive approach to learning is sure to delight young children and keep them busy - and learning - for hours!

    Lift and Look books are a fun way for young children to learn about animals, numbers, vehicles, colors, shapes and more with:
      •     Shining foil highlights the pictures on each page!
      •     Chunky foam pieces lift out to reveal surprise images!
      •     Colorful foam pages are easy to turn   

    Michelle, the Director of Marketing and Product Development at SoftPlay, generously sent me three of their newest "Lift and Look" books for review: My Yummy Lunch Box, My Dad's Toolbox and My Big Sister's Purse.


    I love the selections she sent over! Each one is themed around a particular type of box or container, and the design cleverly reflects this. For example, My Yummy Lunch Box is shaped like an actual lunch box, complete with a banana and drinking box poking out the top! Very cute. :)

    True to description, the foam pages are thick and easy to turn, and the images are bright, colourful and captivating!


    I was initially a bit concerned about the overall durability of the books as the spine and binding is made of a thin cardboard. However, I gave the pages a good tug and shake and they feel very secure in practice.

    So how exactly does the puzzle element fit in? Well, each page contains one key image that is actually an easily removable piece! Underneath the piece is a surprise picture.



    The removable pieces really encourage imaginative play. For example, a child can pretend to brush his/her hair with the comb piece from My Big Sister's Purse.

    Now the most important part - how did my little testers enjoy the books?

    Well first of all, I showed the books to S, my 6-month old daughter. She's much younger than the recommended age (2+) and obviously not coordinated enough yet to remove the pieces and fit them back in. However, she loved looking at the bright, colourful pictures and naturally wanted to grab and mouth the pieces! None of the removable parts are small enough to be a choking hazard, so I wasn't too worried about this. And the one piece she did manage to suck on for a little while came out relatively unscathed which shows that they can withstand the "elements". :)

    I also took the books over to my friend's house to show her 2 1/2 year old daughter. We put all three out in front of her and she got pretty giddy, flipping through one then another in quick succession. (In hindsight, perhaps we should have shown her one at a time to help her focus better!) She liked the removable pieces, pretending to eat the pop-out banana and apple from My Yummy Lunch Box!


    Once she tired of paging through them, she decided it would be fun to walk on them and then use them as a booster seat. :) Good news - the books held up! Not even a dent.


    All in all, I really like these books. They're bright, colourful, fun and durable, and they encourage pattern matching, fine motor control and creativity. The only constructive criticism I can think of is that I found myself wishing there were perhaps 2 or 3 removable elements per page, for even more interactivity. However my husband pointed out that this might weaken the structure of the page. It might also require the pieces to be smaller, which could become a choking hazard for babies and younger toddlers. So perhaps this is just wishful thinking on my part and not really a practical suggestion. :)

    Buy It!

    The "Lift and Look" books reviewed here are currently available at US Costco and Sam's Club locations exclusively. However, other SoftPlay products can be purchased from a number of different stores and online retailers. See their Where to Buy page for a full list of available retailers.

    Win It!

    One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win their own copy of the "Lift and Look" book My Yummy Lunch Box!


    To enter, please leave a separate comment for each entry, and include your email address with each one. The number beside each action denotes how many entries it is worth, so make sure to leave the corresponding number of comments if you complete that action. I'll be checking each entry for validity, so please ensure that you complete all actions as indicated.

    Mandatory entry:
    • Visit SoftPlay and comment on another product that caught your eye!
    Additional Entries:
    • Like SoftPlay on Facebook; include your Facebook first name and last initial. It would be nice to thank them for the giveaway as well (although not mandatory). (+1)
    • Follow SoftPlay on Twitter; include your Twitter username (+1)
    • Follow "Manager to Mom" publically via Google Friend Connect (see right sidebar); include your first name and last initial (+1)
    • Like "Manager to Mom" on Facebook; include your Facebook first name and last initial (+1)
    • Follow @managertomom on Twitter; include your Twitter username (+1)
    • Subscribe via email (see right sidebar) (+1)
    • Subscribe via RSS (see right sidebar) (+1)
    • Grab my button for your blog and leave the link where it can be found (see left sidebar) (+3)
    • Blog about this giveaway and leave the link to your post (+3)
    • Add this giveaway to a Linky List and leave the URL so I can find it (+1 per list)
    • Vote for me on Picket Fence Blogs; can be done once daily. (+1 each)
    • Tweet this giveaway; can be done once daily. (+1 each) Please use the following tweet or create your own; must contain @managertomom, @SoftPlayKids and a link to this giveaway post: 
    #Win a copy of My Yummy Lunch Box - a new Lift and Look book from @managertomom and @SoftPlayKids ! http://tinyurl.com/6bn68rd CAN/US 6/27

    Open to residents of Canada and the US. This giveaway will end on June 27, 2011 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be chosen by Random.org, emailed, and announced on my blog shortly after giveaway ends. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to my email before a new winner is chosen.

    Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by SoftPlay.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample items free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.