Fab Frugal Mama

Friday, July 24, 2015

Land Your Helicopter!

Helicopter parents - I have a beef with you.

It's the summer, so naturally I've been taking my kids to more activities, and I'm noticing that you often stay with your kids at events that are clearly meant for them to attend on their own.

Case in point: my child went to a creative workshop at our local library tonight, and almost every parent stayed. Just to be clear, this program is for kids ages 7-12 (not a toddler or preschool program) with both male and female adult facilitators in attendance. 

All of a sudden, my daughter, who is an otherwise confident, friendly 8-year-old, wants me to stay... assuming there must be something to be wary of, since all of YOU aren't leaving.

Ask yourself these questions...

Are you contributing to your child's sense of independence and self-sufficiency by hovering over him? 

Does she learn trust, when you don't give her the opportunity to trust others (in a safe, organized environment) or herself?

Our kids need to learn that they are capable of interacting with others and that they can take care of themselves in social situations that are age-appropriate.

I feel it's completely unwarranted to insert myself into an experience that is meant for my child's enrichment. I don't want to undermine their confidence and keep them from enjoying all that life has to offer.

And, in all honesty, I don't think it's healthy for my kids to think parenthood means giving up doing what I love... in this case, perusing books at the library. It's important for kids to know that we have interests and passions too, and that self-care is a priority. Kids learn by example!

Parents - we need to stop being afraid of all the bad things that *could* happen and, instead, have some faith in our kids, in others, and in our ability to teach them the skills to stay safe.

Let's not unwittingly instill fear into our children. They need to know we trust them, and in turn, they'll start to trust in their own abilities and be the amazing, resilient kids we know they are.

(P.S. Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rule, such as accompanying children with emotional issues or learning disabilities. I would think that's obvious, but just wanted to put it out there.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Let’s Talk Heart Health

We often take our health for granted, until we have a scare.

That's why, when a family member was diagnosed with high cholesterol a few years ago, I was shocked. They were under the age of 40, not overweight, walked a fair bit and played recreational sports twice a week. It didn't make sense to me.

Then I started doing a bit of research and found out that around 40% of Canadians have high cholesterol (i.e. high LDL – “bad” – cholesterol levels)1 - much higher than I would have guessed. And, while some of it is genetic, much of it can often be controlled with diet and lifestyle changes. We may think we're healthy, but some of the choices we make aren't necessarily good for us.

So, how can you help reduce bad cholesterol (or keep your cholesterol in check)?  

Here are a few tips:

  • Increase your intake of heart-healthy foods like Omega-3 rich fish, nuts, berries and greens.2
    • Check out some good dietary suggestions here

Friday, July 10, 2015

Walmart: Fresh, Local & Fabulous (#TasteFresh)

I can't tell you the number of times I've searched for a particular item and haven't been able to find it... until I checked my local Walmart. They just seem to have what I need, when I need it, and always at great prices. Saving money on everyday basics is something I've come to expect from Walmart (and Walmart.ca!).

So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered another side of Walmart - great fresh food!

To be honest, I had never thought of Walmart as a place to buy meat and produce, but after hearing about the awesome changes they've made to their fresh food section - and tasting it firsthand - I'm sold.

Walmart recently modified their fresh offerings, and since my family eats a lot of chicken, I was happy to hear that their Supercentres now sell Maple Leaf chicken (one of my favourite brands), along with Canadian-raised Angus beef and Canadian salmon. On the produce side, Walmart now carries a wider variety of Canada No. 1 grade fruits and vegetables, many of which are local, when available and in season). Buy organic produce? They've got that, too - there are over 45 organic items so far.  And, over half of their Supercentres have bagels, artisanal breads, custom cakes and pastries that are baked fresh, in-store every day.

This all sounds amazing, but it really hit home when I got a taste of their newly revamped meat and produce selection at a recent community tailgate party they hosted.

There was music and lots of free food for everyone. From grilled striploin steak and vegetables, to barbecued salmon and chicken, this meal was fit for a king (or queen)! The steak, in particular, blew me away. It was tender, juicy and so delicious. It was the perfect way for people to enjoy, see and taste Walmart’s quality, fresh food.

During the tailgate party, I also got the opportunity to meet Chef Corbin (Food Network Canada) and film a 'cooking for kids' segment with him. Check out this video from Walmart Canada's YouTube channel and learn how to make what I'm sure will become a family favourite - BBQ dessert pizza!

Selfie: Me and Chef Corbin :)

If you've never shopped Walmart's fresh grocery sections, I hope you'll give them a try. In fact, Walmart feels so strongly about their fresh food that it's backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you're not happy, bring in your receipt for a full refund. It's that simple.

Now there's no need to sacrifice quality for reasonable prices.

And just think, with the money you save, that new handbag (or pair of shoes) you've been coveting could be yours in no time. ;)

This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada, as part of the Tailgate program. In exchange this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and/or compensation. As always, all opinions on this blog are my own.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Strange Magic - A Musical Joyride

If you're a fan of musicals (Frozen, anyone?), then you'll probably love the most recent DVD my family had the chance to review - Strange Magic.

Available now On DVD, Strange Magic features popular songs from the past 60 years and is a classic tale of broken hearts and good vs. evil.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Break: Things To Do + Tips To Afford Them

Summer vacation.


Those two little words are enough to strike fear into the hearts of even the most organized parents!

According to a recent TD survey, 55% of Canadian parents with children under the age of 18 take on additional costs during the summer; in fact, 71% of them spend up to $999 per child. Whoa!! 

The thought of filling eight weeks with play dates, camps, crafts and outdoor activities can be daunting, and the thought of paying for it all, even more so - IF you don’t have a plan.

That’s why Linda MacKay, Senior Vice President, Retail Savings & Investing and Shirley Malloy, Associate Vice President, Acquisition & Sales Management at TD Canada Trust have come up with some ideas for how to save for this costly time of year:

  •  Use rewards card balances to fund activities and travel, i.e. redeem your loyalty rewards for theme park passes or excursions
  • Take advantage of sibling discounts, where applicable (the savings really add up if you plan on enrolling more than one child)
  • For big-ticket activities like specialty camps, inquire about payment plans that stretch over the year, so there’s not a crunch in the summer.
  • Watch for early bird discounts – some organizations offer a discount if you sign up well in advance of the program start date
  • Sign up for city-run programs (such as those offered through community recreation centres), which usually offer lower cost programming
  • Don’t forget to claim your tax deductions for child care and / or child fitness tax credits

Now that you know how to make the most of your summer activities budget, check out this fab, frugal bucket list of things to do with your kids:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Inside Out: A Roller Coaster of Emotions

Inside Out, the latest movie from Disney • Pixar comes out today. There's been a lot of buzz around this movie, not only because it's from Disney but because it's unlike any other kids movie out there.

It's about emotions... not always an easy topic to tackle. Yet, in typical (awesome) Disney fashion, they nailed it. (Did we ever have any doubt? :)

My family was lucky enough to attend an advanced screening on Monday and we were all blown away by the movie on so many levels. We saw Riley's world through the characters Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear - all of whom play important roles in her subconscious. We were impressed with the unique and well-written storyline, offering powerful lessons for both adults and kids alike.

We laughed, we cried (yes, hubby, too!) and my 8-year-old daughter even had a great idea for a sequel - "They should have more complex emotions, too, like Confusion." You heard it here first, Disney!

This is a definite must-see, and something that the whole family will love.

Start The Summer Off Right with Maple Leaf Foods! #LetsDoPicnic

Summer is all about being outside, and what better way to usher in the season than with a picnic-themed party?

Join  @MapleLeafFoods, @PepsiCanada, @LaysCanada, @TostitosCanada and @WonderBreadCA on Wednesday, June 24th at 8pm EDT for the #LetsDoPicnic twitter party! Chef Andrea Nicholson (@Andrea_n) will be on hand to offer up delicious picnic ideas, and there will be lots of prizes to win, too.