Tuesday, July 30, 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Pick Your Battles

Our 32-month-old is going through a "challenging" phase  - she's back to beating on her brother, she must do everything by herself and "No!" has become her middle name. At times like these, we've learned, you gotta pick your battles. Like today when she refused to nap in her own bed and insisted on lying down in Mom & Dad's room. Almost 2 (relaxing) hours later, I snapped this gem. Sometimes giving in = ftw!

Which battles have you "won" or "lost" recently? :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

CJ at 7 months: Our Irish Jigger

My coworker told me that mat leave with kiddo #2 goes redonkerously quickly. Amen to that, sistah. I feel like I just wrote CJ's 6 month update, and here we are tackling the next one!

...which'll be a fun one indeed, as Month 7 was such a stark contrast to the earlier months which were riddled with specialist appointments, constant worry and multitudinous pukey outfit changes per day. We're really beginning to have some fun with the little guy now that he's not tossing his cookies every 28 seconds! And now that he's on solids (and good, hearty stuff like chicken and avocado), his weight gain has accelerated and he's looking a little more solid himself. :) Which is important, as he'll need some extra energy now that he has officially figured out how to achieve forward motion!

Official 7 Month Photo:

Got him when he was sleepy here and, unfortunately, couldn't coax a smile!

(Compare with months 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.)

Physical Development:  

Weight: 14 lb 9 oz (3rd-4th percentile)
Height: 27 1/2" (60th percentile)

Lots of milestones this month:
Army crawl: check!
Sitting unsupported (well, mostly): check!
Supporting himself in the standing position: check!

So yup, he's getting around a lot better and enjoying some new vantage points during play. Though, of course, this opens up new less-than-ideal destinations for him to explore. Such as power cords and the DVD shelf, which (unlike the bedroom furniture) is not affixed to the wall. Why must babies and toddlers be most drawn to the stuff they shouldn't be getting into??!!

As I mentioned during the last update, he has turned into a Kick Machine. When held facing outward and exposed to some mad beats, he really gives 'er! We were so impressed we had him audition for Riverdance. Whatcha think - did he get a part?

Cognitive, Social & Emotional Development:

I'm happy to report no change in CJ's overall happy, smiley disposition, and his affinity for (giving and getting) big, wet kisses. That said, he's also beginning to assert himself when he's not so thrilled - for example, the back arch + grunt combo when attempting to get out of a diaper change or car seat lockdown. He also gets crabby when he sees one of us preparing food, but it's not getting delivered quickly enough. Or when we pause a feeding to temporarily do something else. Little man definitely follows in his sister and mama's footsteps - he loves him some grub!

In other news, his vocalizations got a lot more creative this month. He's added bababa and wawawa to the arsenal, though he continues to prefer dadada and high-pitched shrieks (which his sister can't help but ape back at him. Usually in a restaurant or other public place, of course!)

Finally, no sign of stranger or separation anxiety at this point. Then again, his sister never really went through it so maybe he'll be spared too!

All that said, of course I prefer to assume he loves me the most. ;)


No real changes here. He's still going about 9 PM to 7:30-8 AM with one feed in the 4-6 AM range. Naps are much more consistent (and generally lengthier) too - we're down to 2 per day for usually 45 mins to 2 hrs each.


CJ is loving his solids! By month's end we'd checked off avocado, broccoli, zucchini, peas, beans, carrot, sweet potato, banana, pear, mango, chicken and brown rice cereal. Oh, and Mum-Mums, mainly to keep him occupied and allow him to work on his motor skills!

More CJ updates: 6 months
View what big sis was up to at 7 months!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

No-Bake Coconut Almond Date Energy Balls {Recipe}

Until recently, I often found myself in a quandary. I'd crave sweets, but the options readily available to fulfill the craving weren't winning any nutritional awards. As a believer in (and general abider by) a clean, healthy diet, I'd either grumpily abstain or give in and endure the subsequent guilt and (all too often) havoc wreaked on my system.

But then I discovered No-Bake Energy Balls, and All Was Well With The World! (And this is only a minor exaggeration - I promise!)

So what are NBEBs, you may ask? Basically, they are bite-sized morsels of deliciousness made of healthy ingredients which provide energy and other nutritional benefits. And, duh, they don't require baking. Nor cooking in any other way, for that matter. You just need a bunch of pantry staples and a means of mashing them up together (generally a food processor). A full batch takes only minutes to prepare, and the lack of heat and chopping means little hands can get in on the action too. Perfect for young, busy families!

A quick search turns up approximately a jillion NBEB variants, however I have arrived at what I humbly believe is the awesomest of them all. They're ridiculously tasty (and I'm not alone here; almost everyone I've shared them with has requested the recipe), chock-full of key nutrients such as iron, fibre and omega 3 fatty acids, and ridiculously tasty. Wait - did I say that already? :) 

No-Bake Coconut Almond Date Energy Balls

Prep Time: 8-10 minutes
Yield: 24 balls (approx)

  • 10 pitted dates
  • 4 pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut + 1/2 cup for rolling
  • 1/2 cup one minute oats
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water (Depending on how moist you prefer them. I use 1/2 cup myself.)

  • Put everything except water and 1/2 cup shredded coconut into a food processor.
  • Pulse for 20-30 seconds until items are incorporated.
  • Slowly add water and continue to pulse until "batter" is moist but not runny.
  • Form into balls about one inch in diameter
  • Roll each ball in extra shredded coconut
  • Refrigerate and enjoy!

A couple notes:
  • Up until now, I've thrown in the almonds as-is. The next time I make the recipe, I might try soaking them for 24 hours to improve nutrient absorption and reduce the beating endured by my food processor. Other recipes also suggest soaking the dates and prunes for up to an hour, as this helps them incorporate more readily. Another thing to try out.
  • As fabulous as this exact recipe is, the beauty of the NBEB is that it's so flexible. So feel free to add, remove or swap ingredients based on your own preferences, availability, etc. (Though note that you may need to adjust the amount of water accordingly.) I'll probably try some variants in the future myself - e.g., pecans or nut butters instead of almonds, cocoa powder instead of cinnamon, etc.

Do you like to make energy balls or any other types of healthy no-bake desserts? What are your favourite recipes?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Bubble Battle Cry!

Sand Gone: A Must for Beachgoers! - Review & Giveaway (Closed)

While growing up, my family vacationed frequently at destinations along the Atlantic Ocean. These trips left me with many fond memories (riding frothy waves on our boogie boards, strolling along the shore searching for shells and burying family members up to their necks in sand) but I also remember what a cumbersome process it was to remove salt and sand from our skin after a day at the beach! Grit ended up all over towels, car seats and hotel room floors (apologies to the maintenance staff!) and, inevitably, some would remain behind and chafe at us until we had the chance to grab a shower. Luckily, beachgoers today have an alternative option  - a nifty little product called Sand Gone! Consisting of vegetable and plant starches (plus a little fragrance) Sand Gone is a non-toxic powder which removes sand and salt from the skin without using water. The product was invented by a mompreneur named Tiffany who knew there had to be a better way after many years spent wrestling with her own post-beach sand-covered children!

Product Info (from website):

SAND GONE is a dry body powder that, when applied to sand covered skin, removes the sand and leaves the skin soft and smooth while feeling fresh and clean.

Sand Gone comes in an attractive eight ounce jar with a screw-able lid. Within the jar is a microfiber applicator. It is extremely soft but also durable. It can be cleaned by household washers and dryers when necessary. The applicator also has a strap across it to help secure it to the user's hand as the powder is applied.

The dry, white powder is both non-toxic and non-talc. It also contains a hint of coconut fragrance. Sand Gone is best used when cleaning up while leaving the beach. However, Sand Gone works perfectly well when cleaning up after the sand box, playground or wherever one encounters sand. It is like having a "dry shower" from a jar. In addition to removing the sand, Sand Gone also removes the salt from your skin after a day at the beach. No more uncomfortable "scratchy feeling" under clothing during the drive home.

After using Sand Gone, you will quickly find that it becomes one of those must-haves at the beach, sandlot or park. You will know to bring your sunblock and shades...but also your SAND GONE.

My Review:

For review purposes, I received an 8 fl oz Sand Gone plus applicator.

The powder itself is very soft and delicate, and the coconut scent is nice - you definitely notice it but it smells natural and isn't overpowering. The applicator is plush, sturdy and large. One side has a ribbon "handle" and the other is smooth across the whole surface.

Our first experience using the product was quite spontaneous! I'd just received it a few days prior when my husband, following a lengthy backyard play session with our 2 1/2 year old, called in through the screen door - "Quick! I need something for S! She's all full of sand!" I thought ahhh, perfect and grabbed our unopened Sand Gone off the counter. About one minute and several wipes later, she was indeed sand-free!

This first experience was successful but involved just sand and water. As our next experiment, I was curious to see how the product performed over mineral-based sunscreen which we use when outside mid-day. Mineral-based sunscreens (e.g. containing zinc oxide) leave a barrier on the skin versus "standard" sunscreens which get absorbed, so there's a bit more to contend with for a product like Sand Gone! I'm happy to report that the product works in this scenario too, as the following video demonstrates.

Next up - the Hairy Man Arm Test. (Thanks to my ever-helpful husband for this suggestion. And, for volunteering a Hairy Arm.) Unfortunately, as you can see, this was somewhat of an Epic Fail.

It would appear that Sand Gone definitely prefers a smooth surface to work with.

A few other comments & observations:
  • Kids love using Sand Gone! We're (ever so appropriately) at the cottage right now, and following a product demo both my daughter and her two cousins have requested using it on a few occasions. They all agree that it works well and love the scent!
  • It works best to use a "moderate" amount - i.e. you don't need to cake the powder on there but you do want a light covering across the applicator.
  • Longevity-wise, we've used the product about 15-20 times now and the tub is about 1/3rd empty, so you do get quite a few uses out of it. Tiffany mentioned that one tub lasts her family about one beach season (and her family's at the beach regularly!)
  • We've admittedly been sporatic in applying it here at the cottage, and as such there's been a lot of sand trekked across the floors. To prevent this scenario (especially in one's home or a cottage not quite as rustic as ours ;) an idea that comes to mind is to designate a single "sandy body" entry point and leave the Sand Gone there so that everyone can easily clean up before entering the building. 

 Finally, a few issues and improvement suggestions:
  • Although effective at removing grit, the powder itself sticks around on your skin and get can on clothing, floors, etc. Not a huge issue as it washes easily, but something to note.
  •  Given the product's open-faced application method, it would be quite easy for the entire tub to spill out (especially if children are using the product). A shaker style applicator might be a better option to prevent this.
  • Although the coconut scent is advertised as being non-toxic, the actual ingredients aren't disclosed thus some individuals with fragrance sensitivities may have trouble. As such, it would be nice if the product was available in an unscented format as well.

All in all, Sand Gone's a neat product that works quite well as advertised (hairy man arm test aside ;). If you're tired of continuously wrestling with sand-covered family members and corresponding grit inside your home, cottage, tent, etc. definitely give Sand Gone a shot!

On a related note: if you're a frequent beach-goer, check out this list of 10 Must Haves for the Beach put together by Tiffany and a few other companies. From totes to toys to thirsty tots, this list covers many key needs and wants for a fun day in the sun! :)

Buy It:

Sand Gone can be purchased directly from the product website as well as on Open Sky and at various beach and gift shops. From the website, shipping is available to Canada and the United States.

Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win an 8 oz family size container of Sand Gone, including a soft soothing applicator! Open to CAN/US.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Sand Gone.  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.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Nana's Mini-Me

Aside from S' necklace (which we added after the fact), this was a total coincidence!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Back to Eating Clean

A couple months back when CJ was battling weight gain and reflux issues, I abided by a very healthy, strict diet. No wheat or dairy, very little sugar and lots of greens and good fats. Recently, however, our wee man's been improving and, consequently, I've eased up.

A li'l too much.

That is, cashing-in-on-a-Groupon-for-6-half-liters-of-Marble-Slab-ice-cream too much.

Lemme tell ya - their peanut butter flavour is to die for. But, following a few evenings of indulgence, I've been waking up feeling terrible. Even after an adequate amount of sleep.

A little more research has revealed I likely have a candida overgrowth. For those unfamiliar with this, in a nutshell we all have a naturally occurring yeast called candida albicans in our guts, but various factors (e.g. taking antibiotics or birth control pills, periods of high stress) can cause this yeast to grow out of control. Many medical practitioners (mainly holistic/naturopathic) are convinced that this can result in the body being in a toxic state which then causes various unpleasant conditions / general unwellness, however other authorities feel this is bunk. At this point, I'm leaning toward being a believer. My past is littered with the main overgrowth-promoting factors I mentioned earlier and I've definitely noticed a correlation between eating the notorious "yeast feeding" foods (sugars, starches, alcohol, etc.) and feeling like crap.

So now what? Given I'm breastfeeding, I can't do any sort of detox or full-out cleanse. But I do feel compelled to start eating clean again, and to incorporate a number of candida diet-friendly recipes into our upcoming meals.

On this note, I created a new Pinterest board for inspiration, and whipped up my first official Menu Plan Monday since last January. Has it really been that long? Well, no time like the present to kick things back into gear!

Monday: Rotisserie chicken from Sobey's (love these!) and Spinach Quinoa Bake
Tuesday: Ground turkey and chili stuffed peppers
Wednesday: Chicken avocado salad (using remaining rotisserie chicken) and leftover Spinach Quinoa Bake
Thursday: BBQ at my aunt & uncle's. We'll bring an organic greens salad with this yummy sounding tahini dressing and I'll have this with whatever (bunless) meat they're cookin' up!
Friday: Chicken noodle soup with zucchini noodles. Our garden's beginning to explode with zukes, so I'm hoping some will be ready to harvest by end of week.

Are you familiar with the idea of candida overgrowth? What are your thoughts? Have you ever attempted a candida diet, or another type of cleansing or detox diet?

Buy Dizolve and Support Alberta Flood Victims (July 2013 Campaign)

Last month, I told y'all about how much I love Dizolve, a non-toxic, eco-friendly, effective and Canadian-made laundry detergent I had the opportunity to review which comes in ultra-concentrated strips (vs. "standard" liquid and powder forms). I was consequently sold on its awesomeness enough to make the long-term switch.

But Dizolve Group Corporation doesn't stop at offering a wonderful product! The company also donates a portion of its purchase payments to fundraising causes, and its latest campaign has the potential to make a tremendous impact on an incredibly dire situation.

Last month, the province of Alberta experienced heavy rainfall which led to catastrophic flooding, particularly along many of the province's rivers and tributaries. According to Wikipedia, four people have been confirmed dead, 100,000 had to evacuate and 2,200 Canadian Armed Forces troops were deployed to provide assistance. It has now been two weeks since the events took place, however relief efforts continue and it will likely take years for a complete cleanup/restoration.

Preliminary estimates suggest that damages could be as high as $5 billion, and charitable donations are urgently requested to offset these costs. As such, the Canadian Red Cross has set up an Alberta Floods Fund to provide relief to the victims and assist with rebuilding efforts. The Canadian Red Cross is one of our country's top-rated charities in terms of fundraising efficiency, governance and transparency, so donors should feel confident that their dollars are making the greatest possible impact.

So how does Dizolve fit into all this?

Until the end of July, 2013, Dizolve is donating the entire purchase price of every package sold (less shipping and handling) to the Alberta Floods Fund. Yes, you read that right - 100% of all profits. At $12 per box, this campaign could really make a difference. If 1% of the population purchased a single box, over $4.2 million would be donated. If 10% of the population purchased 3 boxes, over $126 million would be donated! This is one of the most compelling fundraising campaigns I've come across - the cause is urgent, the charity is reputable and the donor gets something (very useful) in return!

To make a purchase/donation yourself, head over to Dizolve's Alberta Flood Relief campaign page. You can buy online or order by phone. If you're interested in spreading the word to others, Dizolve makes it easy - you can send an e-card or print postcards to hand out. Or simply pass along the above link or this blog post!

Thanks for reading and I hope you'll join me in sharing and/or contributing to this terrific campaign!

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post. The company who sponsored it provided me with compensation in the form of product. Regardless, I only publish posts which reflect my own, completely honest opinions and which I believe are valuable to share with my readers.

Friday, July 5, 2013

CJ at 6 months: Our Da-Da-Darling!

So we had a lot going on during month 5 - appointments galore, strict dietary adjustments and, indeed, a fair amount of stress. A "Failure to Thrive" label will do that to a parent, lemme tell ya. Month 6, however, began leading us to the conclusion that all this worrying and preoccupation was ultimately unnecessary. He "passed" his followups with the pediatrician, naturopath and dietician, he's still gaining weight (slowly but surely - following his own curve) and he's beginning to toss his cookies less frequently (woot woot). At the end of the day, we just have a little dude who has battled some reflux. So phooey to you, scary labels. Does this look like a kiddo who's FTT???

Didn't think so!

Official 6 Month Photo - rockin' the monkey jams!

(Compare with months 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.)

Physical Development:  

Weight: a li'l over 13 lb (3rd percentile)
Height: 26 1/2" (50-60th percentile)

So yup - similar percentiles as last month; if anything, even a bit higher for height!

CJ's been working hard at getting places this month! He has now mastered the "pivot" move - i.e. basically staying in the same core spot but using his arms to circle around and get to different things around him. His "pushup" got super-strong and assertive as well, and by month's end he started "air crawling" and expressing frustration that this wasn't moving him forward! (If anything, his attempts push him backwards a bit which frustrates him even more!) Poor guy - you'll be on the move soon enough!

He's becoming increasingly steady in the sitting position, though he still needs a bit of support. I suspect it'll be a few more weeks until he's completely steady in this position since he's so long and gangly.

His fine motor control really improved this month! He can totally rock his Spin & Sing Alphabet Zoo and other pully/pushy toys now, and he wants to grab EVERYTHING that's within reach! Usually stuff goes in his mouth (of course) but he's beginning to take more time to explore with his hands. "Reading" now consists mainly of him yanking a book toward himself and gumming on the corners, which can make for a trying experience for his sister during tandem story time!

He continues to love bouncing in his jumperoo, and, when held facing outward, totally digs kicking to music too! I'll post a video in the 7-month update when he really got going with this!

Cognitive, Social & Emotional Development:

Everyone continues to comment on what a content li'l guy we have and indeed - no shortage of smiles and laughter during month 6! He's really starting to enjoy games like Peek-A-Boo, "I'm going to get you!" and Itsy Bitsy Spider which involve an element of anticipation. When I place a prefold over his face on the change table, he now knows what's going on and will pull it off. He looooves getting kisses and will "kiss back" - which means grabbing your face and sucking on your nose, chin or whatever he can get his mouth on! <3

Dadada continued to be his most prominent sound all month. Of course, I tried coaxing a Mamama from him on multiple times, but not happening yet. ;)


Night sleep continues to be solid (usually bed at 8:30ish, feed at 4-4:30 and wake for the day between 7 and 8). Naps are getting a little more consistent. We're able to get him down without being held, but length is still extremely variable which means on any given day he takes between 2 and 4 naps. One method we were using for several weeks was the ol' "walk the stroller around the island" trick. Chris reminded me we'd used this for S several times, but at least with CJ we now have a snap 'n' go which is a lot smaller than the UPPAbaby we'd been using for S. This was a pretty surefire way of getting him to nap (as long as conditions were right - fed, dry, appropriate time since last nap) but it also meant parking the stroller base on the main floor, and him not getting used to his crib. So I started toning this down by month's end and working on crib naps. Stay tuned for how this is going in the next update.


First of all, my dietary changes (more/fattier foods) appear to have had a positive affect on my supply as I always have enough milk for him now and have even been able to stop drinking milk production tea. Not stressing as much about CJ's and my own health has certainly helped here too. So yay to that!

We waited right until 6 months to begin solids, and then (upon the advice of our dietician and naturopath) started with some veg. We're planning to do mainly homemade purees, though I did let him play around with a well-cooked broccoli floret. Fun stuff!

And finally, the good stuff - video highlights from month 6!

More CJ updates: 5 months
View what big sis was up to at 6 months!