Category: parenting

Chevrolet’s Safe and Sure Child Car Seat Installation at #buddschev

Our children are so precious and every time we place them in their car seats we trust those car seats to ensure their safety. But were you aware that the misuse rates range from 44% to 81% for car seats and 30% to 50% in booster seats (Canadian Paediatric Society). I don’t know about you but that statistic terrified me! Especially when considering that a properly used car seat reduces the risk of fatal injury by 71% and the risk of serious injury by 67% (Canadian Paediatric Society).

Part of the problem (I believe anyways!) is that the car seats themselves are constantly changing along with the rules and regulations. To be honest, I had such a hard time installing our car seat that I gave up and asked my husband to finish it. I could not get the restraints tight enough no matter how hard I tried.

With those statistics in mind and child safety at the forefront, Chevrolet is launching the national Safe and Sure Child Car Seat Installation Workshop Program. Families can receive expert advice on installing car seats into any make or model of vehicle for free. Yup – for free.You can sign up for the free workshops at Safe and Sure.

The workshops were piloted in Toronto during 2012 and 2013. Due to overwhelming positive response from parents, grandparents and caregivers (yes the program is open to any one who will be responsible for driving a child in a car seat!), Chevrolet is working with Parachute to offer this program in three major cities.

If you are not familiar with Parachute they are a charitable organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives. They officially came into being in July 2012 and united the former Safe Communities Canada, Safe Kids Canada, SMARTRISK and ThinkFirst Canada. You can learn more about them on their website.

With all of this in mind, our whole family headed out to Budds Chevrolet in Oakville to have our car seats examined and re-installed if needed. We were a bit worried that the boys would be bored but they were very happy when they received Hot Wheel cars! While I headed outside to learn about car seats the boys stayed inside checking out the cars and taking photographs of each one (no lie here – his favourite one is now our desktop image!).

I learned so much this past weekend at my workshop. As well as learning the how to’s on how to ensure a snug fit with an inch or less movement at the base, I was able to get hands on with the representative and help out.

Some important things to remember:

  • Car seats have an expiry date! If the date is not listed on the actual car seat you can call the manufacturer directly to get the expiry date.
  • Never use a car seat that has been involved in an accident. If you do not know the car seat’s history don’t purchase it (for used and borrowed car seats). Even with no visible damage, a crash can damage the integrity of the car seat.
  • Never rush a child out of the booster seat. The booster seat works to position the adult seat belt over the strong bones of the body. Children should not move into a seat belt until they are 145cm (4’9″). Always make sure to check your provincial laws around booster seats.
  • Only use attachments or cloth protectors under the car seat that have been tested with the car seat by the manufacture.

Check out this great video about the workshops:

Have you ever attended a car seat workshop in the past? Do you have any recommendations for first time parents out there?

Continue Reading

Fun Valentine’s Day Gifts for Kids

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and although we show our loved ones we care everyday, we are given a special day to go a little above and beyond the normal.

Growing up my parents always included us in Valentine’s Day surprises. We would always get a small gift as a token of their love. We have continued this tradition for our children.

Every year is a new challenge to come up with a unique gift for each of my boys and their presentation. I love wrapping gifts! We set a total limit of ten dollars per a boy each year for all items. Our youngest son is a HUGE Superman fan and the eldest loves Pokemon and YuGi Oh. Walmart had a great sale on Superman toys and I was able to pick one up for $5.00 and the cards are around the same price. I like to include Dollar Store notebooks (they both love writing so it is perfect for them). A couple of days before Valentine’s Day I head over to the Bulk Barn and pick up Valentine’s Day theme gummies (they are not big chocolate fans unless it is a Kinder Surprise!) and place those in heart Ziploc baggies. This year I am including the Watch Me Grow craft as well!

The best frugal gifts to add in to their little packages do double duty as well for school: erasers, pens, notebooks. It can also be fun to with bubbles, Kinder Surprise, candies and so much  more!
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children?
Continue Reading

The Secrets of Happy Families Review

There is no denying the fact that when we are happy in our home life we function better, feel less stressed and communicate better with others around us. Happiness in our home life is incredibly important for our personal well being. I definitely can feel the difference in myself when chaos and stress disrupts our emotional well being at home. I can see these effects in my children in their temperament and behaviour towards eachother. 
I love attending workshops and reading books to help me with my parenting skills. Sometimes the information is helpful and other times I feel like it would not apply to our family or is something I could never see myself implementing in our home. I was excited to review The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler for many reasons. Who doesn’t want to work on skills to increase their family’s happiness? I am always up for anything that will help my family in the long run!
This book was developed after Bruce Feiler was determined to find the best solutions about raising happy families. He gathered the latest research, team building exercises and problem solving techniques from some of the greatest experts out there. He then tested these techniques out on his family. He developed techniques to help build stronger family relationships, managing chaos, teaching our children values and having fun as a family.
The Secrets of Happy Families starts off with the quote: “All happy families are alike”. At first I did not understand the quote but reading through the book it began to make sense. Happy families all have similar things in common: adaptation, communication and being together. I think we all know communication is important as well as being able to change to different situations but it is usually the how do we do this that is the difficult part. I am in no way perfect – I lose my patience, I can yell, sometimes when I argue with my husband I do not listen to his side of the argument. I know this and I am always open to learning new techniques to help not only myself but our family. 
Bruce provides an open dialect with his readers providing easy to follow techniques with valid reasons behind them. He actually offers over 200 strategies to help deal with pretty much any situation your family could be facing! Pretty awesome, right? 
My personal favourite technique is one that has been implemented at my work over a year ago. At work we have daily “huddles” first thing in the morning and this is the perfect opportunity for all team members to catch up, share information, talk about what went right and what is going wrong. We have started weekly huddles which are going really well. It is the perfect way for each one of us to have an open forum to talk about what we like, what is not working well for our family and to let each other know what is going to happen in the upcoming week (appointments, practices, staying late at work, etc..). Common sense right? But how many of us actually take the time to work on communicating not only with our partner but our children. By communicating I mean taking the time to sit and listen, understand what they are saying and feeling – not just telling them (something that I have been guilty of many times!). 
This is one of the best parenting books I have ever read. Bruce provided concrete examples and techniques that would fit our lifestyle and have actually helped us as a family work together. Life is hard enough as it is why not work to make the home a happy place? I know that his techniques have already started to improve our family dynamics! 
To find out more reviews on this book, check out the Litfuse blog tour. To purchase your own click here.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Continue Reading

Oink: Teaching Financial Literacy and Independence #review #giveaway

Teaching our children financial literacy skills is incredibly important. It gives them the strength, knowledge and independence to help them grow as stronger young adults. But how do we teach our children these skills? Money can be such a sensitive topic for people and others may not feel comfortable discussing bills, savings, etc. The tricky part can be in how to get these conversations rolling.
Image from


Oink (previously Virtual Piggy) is an online piggy bank where children and teens can safely (and securely!) spend, save their allowances, create wishlists, donate and more. Most importantly, Oink opens up the door of communication so we can have these important financial chats with our children (that do not always happen when we give them their allowance in cash and they disappear quickly and I speak from experience there – never seen a nine year old run to his room so quickly before!).
Oink has set up quite a few safeguards for children when it comes to spending. A parent must first set up their own account linking it to their child’s account. Parents can then set a number of parameters depending on the age of their child, the amount of independence they feel is right, etc. Parent’s can set up funding goals, choose how much a child can spend in a single transaction, how they are alerted for these transactions and if approval needs to be given before these transactions can go through. Oink works with kid friendly retailers online and when your child goes to make a purchase they simply click on the “Virtual Piggy” at checkout. This video by Oink really helped walk me through the whole concept and understand our accounts better.

I love how Oink not only allows my son and I to have important financial conversations but also how it empowers him to make good financial decisions on his own. I was quite proud to hear him say that he did not want to spend all of his money on one toy because then he would have nothing left! He wanted to save a portion of his allowance and the other part he would save until there was something he really wanted. Oink gives him the tools to independently save his allowance, create a wishlist that we can go through together (you know all those “wants”) while still allowing me to monitor from a distance to make sure he is safe. It allowed me to feel confident in his choices and help us to speak more freely about money and budgeting for our wants and needs.
The best part of Oink? It is 100% free to use! Yes you heard that right! Both the child and parent account are completely free to use, save and spend online!
Oink is also a Parent Tested Parent Approved Winner. They have met the high standards of other parents just like you in order to earn that designation which is well deserved!
You can also check out their website which has a wealth of financial knowledge and tips. They have great tips on starting money conversations when paying bills or shopping along with helpful resources for families. You can also keep up to date with them on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Oink is giving one reader a chance to win a $100 in gift card credit at
This giveaway is open to residents of the US, 18 years of age and older. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own. The only compensation from this post is the giveaway for you my readers.

Continue Reading

ESET: Protecting Families Online #ESETProtects

My family and their safety is so important. Their security means the world to me. As parents we are constantly striving to protect our children while giving them opportunities to learn and grow.
Every September we send our children off to school and they in turn return with homework, research and projects. There is no denying that we now live in a technological age where most of our work is centred around our computer and the Internet. The computer is the hub of our house! It stores memories, allows us to connect with family overseas as well as research topics and explore. That being said the Internet also brings with it dangers for our children (and ourselves if we are not careful!).

As a parent, I want my children to learn lessons in life for themselves and I want them to know that I trust the decisions that they make. We give them the tools and knowledge that they need to use the Internet safely but sometimes we all still need that extra bit of security and peace of mind! I am very excited to be working with ESET and PTPA over the next two months to bring to you the knowledge of online protection with ESET Smart Security 6.
 ESET Smart Security 6 is an award winning antivirus software that works to proactively protect your family online. ESET has over twenty years of experience engineering antivirus software that is highlighted in three main areas: proactive protection, peak performance and usability. They also rank number one with the most virus bulletin awards and advanced awards. As part of this program I was given access to the software to download on our home computer. Downloading the system was easy and painless (something that I was so grateful for!). The software also came with essential information and tools to safeguard my family while using the internet.
Do you know how to keep your children safe online? Or are you like me and know the basics but not quite sure where to start? The online and social media world can be very overwhelming sometimes and a guide is excellent as we face new parenting challenges with technology as it stands today. What I loved when reading through the information on their site was how ESET strives to share important information on how to protect our children online. ESET outlines five main areas to help protect our children online that are so important and sometimes overlooked in our busy days. You can find their detailed tips here.
  • Educate your children! This is very important and should be done before allowing your child access to computers, iPads and mobile phones. Our children should be educated in how to identify scams, malware and how to be aware of predators. You should spend time talking with your child and getting to know their patterns online. Let them know that they can come to you when something happens online that they feel uncomfortable with.
  • Educate ourselves. I’m not even going to pretend like my eldest son isn’t insanely smarter then me when it comes to computers! He is a little genius! I find myself now re-learning everything I can about social media and it’s platforms and the preferred websites for pre-teens and teens. ESET even has Cyber Security Education as part of their product.
  • Set those parental controls! They are there for a reason -use them! It is one further step we can take to ensure the safety of our children.
  • Block an entire category of website if you feel strongly against. It will save you a lot of time worrying whether or not your child has listened to you.
  • Set parental controls on your network. Go right to the source and block it from there.
Setting up parental controls has always made me nervous. There are so many topics and sites that you can and probably should control but when forced to think about them my mind draws a blank. ESET Smart Security 6 was incredible! Not only was the program easy to install but setting up parental controls was done in seconds. For each user on our desktop you typed in their age and the program broke down each age group and recommended content to control and block! You could pick and choose from these lists.

Pretty incredible right? And this is just touching the surface! Not only is the program an antivirus system but it also functions to:

  • Theft protection and location tracking – you can even block files and turn on the webcam remotely if your laptop is stolen
  • Powerful firewall to prevent hackers from accessing your computer.
  • Anti-phising to protect you from accessing fake websites.
  • Customizable settings and parental controls.
  • You can even extend your protection to Facebook!

 I am very impressed with my new ESET Smart Security 6 software and all the extra protection it extends to my family and I. Even more exciting is that not only has the program received many awards in the past it also has won the PTPA seal!

I am looking forward to sharing more information with you over the next two months as we dive into the world of online security – make sure to follow #ESETProtects for all the latest information!

Don’t forget you can also follow ESET on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you check out their products for yourself online!

ESET is extending a 15% coupon for their Security Software for the next two months to all of you! Follow this link to take advantage of this great offer!

Disclosure: I received the product to review for this post but as always the opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading