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May 15, 2011

Every family is different and we all have different pressing concerns in our daily family life. Especially when you have children, daily chores can take FOREVER! What used to take an hour now takes me a day. I think grocery shopping is a love it/hate it thing for families. Either you love to go grocery shopping or you find it a hassle and try to speed through it, preferably when the kids are at school or on your way home from work.
Since my kid was young though, I’ve always made a point of bringing her with me to go grocery shopping because I’m a firm believer that if I involved her from an early age, she’d know what her food looked like, felt like, smelled like, before it turned into a meal. Now, I love Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’ and its philosophy, but this thinking is pre-Jamie and stems from my love of food. So, here are some of my thoughts on grocery shopping with your child and how it can be fun and easier than it currently is and maybe some of these ideas will be useful for your family too:

Involve your child in grocery shopping:
Since she was a baby, she would always come with my husband and I to go grocery shopping. She never just sat there in the stroller. She got to touch fruits and vegetables, got to hold the crinkly bag that held the fresh bread (and also got to smell its freshness!). She learned from a young age that kale had bumpy leaves and that corn was yellow. I’d label foods for her so she’d become familiar with the words and she pretty much touched whatever I thought was safe for her at that age (ie. no raw chicken thank you, but please do admire from afar!). Now that she’s older, she helps to push the shopping cart, helps to pick and choose the foods and bag them, and I’ll often ask her to grab things off the shelf for me.
Your child learns a lot while grocery shopping: A whole lot of learning happens at the grocery store but only if you take the time to let the learning happen. For us, grocery shopping isn’t just a chore to grab food and go (there are times when it is and my kid knows in advance that we’re only going to pick up ‘milk’) but it’s a chance to learn how to weigh different foods to see which one is heavier (aha, pre-math!), to learn how to read the ingredient list and labels on packaged foods (aha, literacy skills), to pick the freshest foods and become an informed consumer (‘see that brown spot…’ ‘try to find an apple that feels really firm’). Your child will also learn to make wise decisions about spending if you involve them (e.g. looking at the different price tags, which is more expensive, which to buy based on the quality of the food and making an informed food choice).
Your child will learn how to self-regulate: From the very beginning, my kid has been involved in making food choices when we go to the grocery store and at home. Now that she’s older, there are times when she’ll say she’d rather stay at home instead of going ‘grocery shopping’. What I will often remind her is, if she goes, she gets to make decisions about what she eats because obviously, when daddy goes, he buys foods he wants and so on.  Now, I don’t want to jinx it, but my kid has never thrown a tantrum about anything at the grocery store. There are times she’ll ask to try a certain cereal or product and I’ll get her to read the ingredient list. I let her know that so long as it doesn’t have X or Y (for me BHT and BPA irritate the pants off of me but that’s a rant for a different day) we can buy it to try it. Sometimes, I’ll be honest with her and let her know I’d really like to buy a certain food that she’s picked up but that it’s just too expensive right now but that, when it goes on sale, we can certainly try it. I just make sure I follow through (the kid has a phenomenal memory. If I forget, she’ll remind me!). Over the years, she’s learned that she doesn’t always get what she wants right away because you know, life is just like that.
I know not every family has the time to make every grocery trip a learning experience because sometimes, you just have to grab the food and go especially if you’ve been up since the crack of dawn, have a cranky child (or 3) with you, or you still have a whack of other things that need to get done. I’ve had to do that too but whenever I can, I try to make grocery shopping about more than just the food alone. Just the other day, my kid says to me, “Mom, MOM! You HAVE to feel the portello. MOM. FEEL feels soooooo smooth. Get this one. Get THIS one!” Isn’t that the coolest? It was for me.

May 14, 2011

We eat a lot of rice in our household. Rice usually accompanies our lunches or our dinners, right beside the protein and veg. Most of the time, we eat brown rice, but we’ve also had basmati, Arborio, white, and wild rice. Variety is key when promoting home cooking with children (IMHO). I spotted Tsuru Mai Brown rice at my local supermarket and decided to give it a try mainly because the rice bag said it was a medium grain rice, 100% whole grain, was unprocessed, and had no preservatives (in my brain all I processed was ‘chewy like sushi rice, maybe?’) because I love the texture of sushi rice but would love it even more if it was brown.

Product review: What happened?

When you open the package, you can see a noticeable difference in the individual rice grains. They really are shorter grains of rice although certainly not as short as the short grains (obviously!).  Easy to cook, did it the same way I do for all my other grains. I washed it in my stainless steel pot, added enough cold water to cover my hand, and put it on the stove top to wait for it to boil. Once boiled, I left the cover off to simmer on medium until most of the water evaporated, and then put the lid back on with a low fire until it was dinner time.
My kid’s review on the Tsuru Mai Brown Rice:
“The brown rice just tastes so good because the brown rice goes with anything well. Like if you put it with salmon, it would taste so good that I’d do a little jig! Mmmmm!”
Q: How does the brown rice taste?
A: “It’s a little bit chewy and it’s a little bit squishy. MMMM… That’s all.”
Q: Would you eat this brown rice again?
A: “Yeah!”


The Tsuru Mai brown rice is my new found favourite rice. I absolutely loved the texture of the cooked rice grains. There’s a distinct chew to them, I’d say a softer, chewier, al dente texture, definitely not as sticky as sushi rice but it had a nutty, toasty depth. I could eat the Tsuru Mai brown rice plain and I did because it had such a good flavour on its own.
So, would I buy it again? I already did! Thank you Tsuru Mai brown rice for another healthy alternative to put on my food table.

May 13, 2011

Official website:

Copyright© 2011 All Rights Reserved.

If you’ve been following and reading along with all my reviews, you’ll know by now that my daughter’s love of musicals first started off with the Pinkalicious musical. Well, when she was younger, she also loved to play with Thomas the Tank engine (thus proof that boys are NOT the only ones who should be playing with trains and other such vehicles). While she was never a fan of the tv show itself, she did have a comprehensive collection and would use them in everyday play. When this Thomas & Friends Live: Thomas the Tank Engine: saves the day musical chugged into town, we both decided it would be fun to watch. After all, what’s not to love about a musical?

Children musical show review: What happened?

Greeted by the familiar Thomas & Friends logo projected on the stage, we found our seats and settled down to see what would happen next. As we waited, we were entertained by images of trains projected and bouncing along the theatre ceiling and walls. Before long, the familiar Thomas & Friends theme song started to play.
On the Island of Sodor, the Lantern Festival is about to start and there is much work that must be done by those useful engines. Sir Topham Hatt enlists the help of Thomas, Percy, and Diesel to get the job done. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Thomas the Tank Engine show without some suspense as bad weather threatens to put an end to the Lantern festival. Not to worry though, there is a happy ending!
The show is about 90 minutes long and when we went, there was a 20 minute intermission.

My kid’s review of the Thomas Show:

What is Diesel doing?

“I like it when they do ‘clap clap clap, clap clap clap’. I also like when they go ‘beep beep! beep beep’. Ms. Martin always bends down when she does ‘beep beep’. Thomas saved the day. Percy is scared to go in the mine and Thomas helps him go in the mine because he’s not scared. Inside the mine, they found the lost diamond mine. The diamond was used for the lighting up the lighthouse because the lighthouse, it was so windy that the light popped out so the diamond mine was used for the light so people saw the lantern festival. They sang ‘Thomas the Tank Engine rolling along..dah dahh dah dah dah..dah dah dah dah dah. I liked it the ending when the lanterns lit up and I also like it when they make funny faces. They (the performers) were making surprised faces. I liked it in the beginning even though they didn’t come to see us but they went into the audience and I liked it when they were holding big poofy bags. A man got this balloon and tossed it into the audience and it didn’t get to us but it got to people lower in the audience. I also like it when the trains talked. That’s all.”


Would I pay to watch this musical again? Absolutely! It was better than I expected with a real life size Thomas, Percy, and Diesel on stage complete with puffing smoke stacks, and animated faces. Produced by AEG ThemeSTAR and HIT Entertainment, these were not your average flat stage props – these trains were fully automated, rolling and puffing on stage. There was even a race between Percy and Thomas to see who was faster!

Here’s Thomas’ best friend Percy! Puff Puff!

There are familiar Thomas the Tank Engine songs for children to sing along with (e.g. “Everyday is a special day on Sodor….Surprises, surprises..they come all shapes and sizes….Thomas the Tank Engine rolling along…..and of course, Roll Call!!).  Audience participation was encouraged so your child will have plenty of opportunity to clap along with these familiar tunes. Kudos to the performers of the show, dancing out the choreographed musical numbers with big beaming faces that really helped to bring Thomas to life.
I did find the intermission a little confusing for the younger children in the group although it’s needed especially if a diaper change/toilet trip is in order. While my daughter was okay with taking a break to walk around and use the bathroom (my reasoning to her: so we could take a break but more importantly so the performers could take a break. It must be hard work to do all that dancing!), I heard a lot of children crying and yelling for Thomas. I wonder if part of this is because the intermission happened after a particularly intense moment (hint: Percy needs Thomas’ help!). It’s a long time for young children to wait for 20 minutes to find out what will happen to Percy. It’s also a long time to wait, period. Some children in the audience were convinced the show was over and were ready to go home. However, when the speakers announced that the show was about to start again, most coped well and were able to settle back in to see what happened next.
Word of warning: this isn’t going to be a quiet sit down musical. At least, when I went, it was a noisy excited crowd of children. Every time Thomas or Percy or Diesel made an appearance on stage, the children screamed and cheered. Many parents also purchased the blinking Thomas toys so there was a LOT of lights in the audience (I found it distracting but my daughter didn’t seem to care).

May 12, 2011

Official website: click here to visit official Kraft Philadelphia website
Okay, so along with the Nutiva organic coconut manna (coconut spread) that I raved about in an earlier post ( click here! if you haven’t read it yet), I also decided to try the Kraft Philadelphia regular whipped plain cream cheese as another breakfast option. Okay, I didn’t make that decision, the husband did but he’s not writing the blog now, is he? So, I get the credit. Well, at least, I get the credit of writing the review.
The husband claims he decided to get the Kraft Philadelphia regular whipped plain cream cheese because he figures it’s whipped so it’s fluffier which means he’ll spread less on his piece of bread which means he’ll eat less of it and thus be healthier. Now, in our household, we’re not restrictive in what we eat. We believe moderation is key so I don’t generally comment on how healthy or nutritious a certain food item is. My kid has eaten cream cheese before so why not try the whipped version and see how it is.

Product review: What happened?

So, the Kraft Philadelphia regular whipped plain cream cheese really does seem lighter and fluffier than regular cream cheese. For some reason, it also has more of a buttery feel and taste to it while still providing the cream cheese flavour which makes me instantly like it. Since then, I’ve tried it on cheese bread, regular brown toast, and on a bagel and they’ve all tasted really good.


The husband feels like it’s easier to eat because of all the extra air bubbles in it so it’s easier to spread (he said it, not me. Obviously, he’s been spending too much time with the under 6 years crowd).  He doesn’t think it’s as rich and dense, which I agree with.
For whatever reason, my kid tried it once and wasn’t keen on it. Won’t read too much into it since all kids go through phases of likes/not likes when it comes to food. Usually, if there’s a solid reason, she’s quite specific and will let me know. This time, all she said was, “I like it but I don’t want to eat it”.  That could be because she’s currently into ‘combo breakfasts’ which consist of a bowl of cereal (her choice) paired with a warmed up pita and honey, milk, and fruit on the side.
Will I buy/eat this again?? Well…we just bought our second container so I think that answers THAT question.

May 11, 2011

I love watching the seasons change from winter to spring and you know, nothing screams ‘Spring!’ to me more than my allergies. Yes, I suffer from seasonal allergies that turn me from being a normal human being into a drooping, oozy, nasally mess. Everything itches: my eyes, ears, nose, throat, and all I want to do is hide in a sealed off room until summer because by then, I’ll be fine. No more pollen, no more seasonal allergies. Okay, that sounds terrible but you get the idea.
Today, for whatever reason, it’s particularly awful and I run myself over to the local pharmacy. I browse through the allergy section because I need something for my eyes (which I’m really ready to rip out by now). I end up looking at 2 products: Opticrom made by Allergan Inc. (not on sale) or the generic allergy eye drop brand (which is on sale). Since I’m not a pharmacist and can’t figure out left from right in terms of the effectiveness of the ingredients listed, I find the person who does know and talk to him.

Product review: What happened?

I quickly learned that Opticrom is the better choice between the two. He says it’ll help to combat the seasonal allergies for the eyes and that’s it. The other generic brand had what he called, “a traditional eye whitener’ which over extended period of use could increase the pressure in my eye. I translate that into, ‘NO WAY!’ (*freaking out internally*) and ‘thank goodness, I spoke with the pharmacist!’. I got rid of the generic bottle and picked up the Opticrom despite its price. If it works, I’m willing.


I came straight home, took a picture of the product for the site and promptly put 1 drop in each eye. Result – almost instant relief. All of a sudden, my eyes just feel…calm, is that the word I’m looking for? I think it is. I go from wanting to tear my eyes out of my head to a peaceful oasis of tranquility where I can function like a normal human even though my nose is still dripping like a faucet.  The dosage says I can use 2 drops in each eye, 4 time daily, but right now, I feel great and fine with just 1 drop in each eye.
Purchase again? Absolutely! Opticrom anti-allergy eye drops will be my new must-have for the allergy season. I can’t believe I’ve suffered this long without it! (also really glad I spoke with the pharmacist! I think I’ll put a note under my “Tips for Family” section on this…)

May 10, 2011

Official site:

On a recent trip to the doctor’s office with my daughter, I learned about the importance of vitamin D for young children as well as for adults of all ages. End result: trip to my local pharmacy to pick up vitamin D for the entire family. I landed this bottle of vitamin D drops with Dora the Explorer on the cover, with liquid vitamin D drops appropriate for children 2 years and older. It claimed to be tasteless, odourless, and would pack the daily recommended amount of 400IU in just one drop! So, I decided to give it a try.

Product review: What happened?

The liquid vitamin D dispensing bottle certainly isn’t as easy to use as a gummy vitamin where all you have to do is pop open the lid and pass your child the vitamin to chew on. The liquid vitamin D drops come in a small glass vial with a specially designed spout to dispense only 1 drop at a time but I can see the potential to drip too much if not carefully handled. You do have to get the hang of holding the bottle ‘just so’ so that you only dispense the one drop and one drop only since each drop has the required 400IU of vitamin D. Not to worry though, the package comes with very clear images to follow. I was able to do it confidently by day 2. You also have to remember to store it in an upright position due to its liquid consistency.

According to my kid, she claimed, “mom! I can’t taste a thing!” so it really is tasteless and goes down faster than fast. I usually land a drop onto whatever breakfast item she’s eating. I prefer to do it in the morning to get it out of the way before something else distracts me.

My kid’s review about the Kids Ddrops:

“Dora D drops, you only have 1 drop a day so you put it on a piece of whatever you have or you can put it in your mouth and east it and you don’t have to squeeze it because it’s in a glass bottle. Okay, I’m done!”


Easy and fast to use after the first try, and doesn’t add extra sugars to your child’s food. Yes, I’d buy it again!

May 9, 2011

Official website: go to President’s Choice website for more details, click here

I enjoy my desserts but don’t often have them because they take too much time and quite frankly, I’d rather spend time with my daughter than on making the perfect dessert (unless she wants to bake with me, but that’s a different story!). So, this Mother’s Day, I happen to eyeball the freezer section of my local Loblaws and saw the word ‘tiramisu’ = woohooo = buy = took it home = we ate it after dinner.

Product review: What happened?

Now, to be frank, I was aware that Loblaws had their own President’s Choice (ie. PC) Tiramisu but the thought never came to me to try it, probably because my head is usually just thinking of ‘what to make for lunch/dinner’ and ‘oh gosh, it’s Monday/Tuesday/any other day of the week tomorrow and I still need to…’ whenever I go grocery shopping. So, as fate would have it, I saw the “T” word and had to pick it up, most likely motivated by the fact that it was Mother’s Day, after all.

Word of warning: the PC Splendido Tiramisu was in the freezer section and the instructions told me to thaw it and enjoy it. But, I didn’t. I wanted tiramisu after dinner despite the fact that it was still 85% rock hard but hey, the knife went through all the decadent layers of goodness including the ladyfingers so I figured it would be fine.


One word: yum. Wait, maybe I should say ‘yum yum’. With real whipping cream and mascarpone cheese, the PC Splendido Tiramisu was delicious even though it wasn’t completely thawed yet. Smooth, rich, and every bit as yummy as if I’d poured hours into it myself. I was able to taste the espresso coffee flavour and it felt like a really good treat for a really special day. Mind you, I could see this dessert getting a little mushy if left in the fridge for too long but that would hold true for tiramisu in general.
Overall, a really delicious and well balanced blend of flavours. Okay, who am I kidding? I want another piece. Now.
Side note: made the mistake of writing this article at 10:46pm and guess what I’m doing right now? Yep, eating piece number 2. Looks like I’ll be up a while writing more posts.

May 8, 2011

How fast has time gone by? My daughter is now 5 years old and we’re celebrating Mother’s Day for the 5th time. My husband and I have always believed that it’s the little things in life that matter. There is no gigantic celebration on just one day but we try to appreciate every day that comes our way.

My daughter had made a Mother’s Day gift for me at school but somehow, it didn’t make it home. As I watched her eyes start to well up with tears, I let her know that I loved her no matter what and that all I really need is her on Mother’s Day. In that wee little tear strained voice she said, “But I made it for you and I put a lot of effort into it.” My response, “and did you make it just for me?” Daughter, *nods*. Me, “Then that’s all I need.” *big hugs*
Since then, my daughter says “All you need is me, right mom?” Absolutely.
Here’s to a wonderful Mother’s Day for all who celebrate. Know that we are all loved in our own unique way.

May 8, 2011

Tips on how to have fun when you go to a Musical (or other production that requires a child to sit for a period of time!)

Now that we’ve been to a few musicals and one movie experience, I’ve figured out a few strategies to make the experience fun for me and fun for my child. You see, I like to be organized and prepared and I hate getting caught off guard. When I go to new places, I get antsy because I don’t know where things are (e.g. try finding a toilet when you’re child NEEDS to go pee right NOW and see how much fun that can be). So, if you’ve never been to a musical or any other type of ‘sit down’ production, here are a few tips you might find useful:
Make sure you know where you’re going and what food places are nearby: I always make sure I know exactly where the theatre is in advance. I find out what restaurants are nearby. Why, you ask? I find the timing of the shows aren’t always compatible with lunch or nap time routines.  No matter what time I pick, they always seem to interfere with something that we should be doing instead. So, if I know in advance where I can grab a quick and healthy bite for my kid, she’ll have fun because she won’t be hungry or hyped up on overly processed foods and I’ll be happy because I don’t have to worry that she’ll be starving before I can find her next meal.
Find out what time the theatre main doors open: nothing is worse than making your child stand outside to wait and wait and wait for the doors to open when they could be doing something else.
Find out if the theatre allows for snacking during the show: a hungry child will make for a very crummy experience. If I know we can have a snack during the show, I’ll often pack something that she can nibble on safely while distracted. Don’t forget to bring a healthy drink!
Find out if there’s an intermission: especially important for early potty trainers or kiddies in diapers. No need to further explain!
Get to the theatre early: once you know what time the theatre opens, get there early so you can scope out where the toilets and concession stands are, grab your seats, so you’re not rushing in at the last minute in the dark, trying to find your seat with a child who is now overwhelmed by the whole ‘mommy! It’s dark!!!!’ scenario.
Know you’re child: if you’re child is active, don’t make them sit for the next 20 minutes waiting for the show to start. Let them walk around in the theatre. Make the waiting just as fun as the show itself (despite how tired you may be from all this planning!).
Bring a camera, just in case: we’ll often take photos of us hamming it up before the show starts. We take photos of the theatre ceiling, the stage, and just about anything that might remind us of the show after the lights are off and it’s all done. I’m not sure what the rules are about this, but I’ve been to some shows where photography is allowed during the show so long as there’s no flash and there are others that won’t allow any at all.
Prep your child in advance on your expectations and rules: you’d be amazed at how much merchandise the event will try to push on you. I’ve always had a run-on discussion with my daughter about the difference between a want and a need and I try my best to explain why I make the decisions I do. I also try to involve her in the decision making. She knows I think it’s better to buy the CD instead of those crazy flashing blinker toys even though it’s more expensive. At least, with the CD, we can listen to the music afterwards, but there’s less you can do with the blinker toy and it’s more plastic in the house than I care to have. She loves the CDs and so do I. So, before you go, make sure your child agrees to whatever rules and expectations you have. That way, all you’ll have to do is say, “Remember what we agreed on…..”

And..before you know it…all of a sudden…you’re a pro at this (and so is your child!)!
May 8, 2011

Lately, my 5 year old has been really into musicals. She also happens to love watching Max & Ruby when she can (doesn’t happen often, but she adores that bunny duo!). Thus, when the Max & Ruby Live! – Bunny Party show came to town, I had to test it out.

Produced by Koba Entertainment, we checked out the website and we both decided to see what the Bunny Party was all about.

Max and Ruby: Ruby’s getting ready for the party!

Children musical show review: What happened?

Copyright© 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Whenever we go to any musical, I like to be prepared. I usually call the theatre first to find out about intermissions, whether or not we could eat snacks during the show, and all those other important questions you have to ask whenever you bring young children with you.

We arrived on time, found our seats easily, munched on popcorn and waited for Max and Ruby to appear. While we were eating, there was a projection of the “Max and Ruby” logo on the stage curtains, a reminder of events to come.

Soon enough, we heard the familiar Max and Ruby soundtrack and saw 4 happy performers tap dancing their way in the intro number. Curtain rises and there’s Ruby! I can see why all the kiddies screamed in excitement – it was like the cartoon coming to life! Next thing you know, Max is rolling himself along in his ‘rock crusher dump truck’ right behind Ruby. The children scream “Max Max!” but Ruby doesn’t see him!

The storyline behind the Max and Ruby musical is easy to follow for young children: Ruby is planning a very special bunny party for a very special guest! The show starts off with Ruby counting the invitations to see who’s coming to the party and she can’t seem to find Max. Of course, we all see him zooming around the stage while Ruby sings “Max, where are you??” No party is complete without presents so Max and Ruby have to go shopping and to go shopping, well, of course, they have to take a bus! (My daughter loved the ‘we’re riding on a big blue bus, won’t you come with us us us..’ song).  They arrive safely at the East Bunny Hop General Store and they meet the robot greeter!   Max and Ruby eventually find gifts and head home…but oh oh! They’ve used all their money so they have to walk home (cue the song ‘we’re walking home…we’re walking home…can’t hardly wait, til we get home’ with lots of audience participation).

The rest of the musical is filled with fun songs, a life size slug, space cadet, and spider, and of course, a surprise guest at the end!

My Kid’s Review on the Max and Ruby Musical:


Oh oh, look what happened to Max! Vampire teeth!

“In the Max and Ruby show, in the beginning, some tap dancers sing ‘Max and Ruby, Ruby and Max’ and I like it when Ruby was sitting on a chair checking the invite list and she didn’t even notice the audience was there. Then she turned around and saw the audience and then she sang, ‘Max, where are you? Max, where are you? Oh..Max! Max oh Max, I’m not in the mood, if you can hear me and not answer, now that’s being rude! I haven’t got time to play, I’ve got a lot of things to do today. Max, where are you? Max, where are you? Oh..Max..’ And then, in the middle of ‘Max, where are you?’ Max comes out a bunch of times and shakes his butt and stuff. My favourite part of the show is when Ms. Heavybottom comes out of the show because her butt is really big.”


Would I pay to watch the Max and Ruby musical again? I’ll be honest, I’ve been to a few musicals now and I can’t say this was my favourite one.  But, at the same time, my daughter absolutely loved the musical. I’ve never seen her dance and sing along with a musical as much as she did for this one. Maybe it was because the pace was predictable and easy to follow. I mean really, how difficult is a Max and Ruby plot? And, Max is pretty cute with his vampire teeth.

Max and Ruby, look at Max’s toys!

Thus, for the love of my kid, I’d go again. Word of advice: if they’re selling the CD at the musical, make sure you pick one up. It really did help to extend the experience for her.  I also like the songs. They’re catchy and appropriate for young children. Now, my kid sings and dances to all the songs at home and does quite an impressive robot dance!


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