March 31, 2017

A Hula Good Time - Hawaiian Luau Inspired First Birthday

In the weeks (ok, months) leading up to Morley's 1st birthday, the weather had been so crummy here in Toronto. We were in need of a little colour and sunshine in our lives, so a Hawaiian luau themed 1st birthday party only seemed appropriate.

Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party
Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party

To be honest with you, I had grand plans to make this party all "Pinterest-y" and one to be remembered. Then, real life took over and my fancy plans got put on the back burner. But, despite the lack of crazy decorations and Hawaiian-themed food, I'd say it the party turned out pretty amazing. And still one to be remembered. Baby girl sure is loved.

A big THANK YOU to everyone that helped make this day so special for our little girl. She is so loved.

And now, for an overload of 1st birthday cuteness...

Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party
Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party
Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party
Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party

One of my favourite parts of the party was the photo book that I made through Shutterfly. I filled it with all of our favourite family photos from the past year, a poem we had written Morley about her first year and plenty of space for family and friends to leave a special note.

The book was fun to make, like a walk down memory lane. It was also a huge hit, which makes me think it will become a yearly tradition. And one we can't wait to share with Morley when she gets old enough to read, and understand, the messages.

Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party

The amazing Hawaiian-themed cake was made by very talented friend of ours. She really needs to go into business with her cakes, cupcakes and cookies. The cake was too pretty to smash, but delicious to eat. Check out her blog here

Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party
Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party

The smash of the actual smash cake was pretty anticlimactic. Is it ever as exciting as you think it will be? Apparently Morley has her mom's salty tooth, and not her dad's sweet tooth. 

Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party
Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party
Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party
Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party
Hawaiian Luau Themed First Birthday Party

How will I ever top this party?!

How do you escape the crummy weather? I'd love to hear!


March 29, 2017

Baby Must Haves for Small Spaces

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FirstMomentsMadeSimple #ForBetterBeginnings #MomsFirsts #CollectiveBias

Living in a small space definitely comes with its challenges. Add a growing child in the mix, and those space issues get even more complicated. Between the clothes, the toys, the books, the stroller and all of the gear in between, figuring out where everything goes is like a giant puzzle.

Baby Must Haves for Small Spaces

Take it from someone who learned the hard way, babies never need all the gear and gadgets you think they do. Buy, or register for, the absolute minimum, and see how it goes once baby arrives. Chances are, you’ll quickly discover what is important and needed, and what is just nice to have.

Planning a registry and in need of a little help? Check out one of Babies “R” Us Registry 101 or Completion events. Registry 101 events are targeted towards prenatal moms, and take place at your local store on the 1st Saturday of the month, while the Completion events occur on the 3rd Tuesday of the month and provide assistance closing out a registry.

With a now full year of parenthood under our belts, we’ve got maximizing the space in our tiny apartment down to a science. Here are a few of our baby must-haves for small spaces.

Folding High Chair

Short on kitchen and dining space? Forget the bulky high chairs and instead opt for something that has a smaller footprint and that can be compacted and stored away when not in use.

The high chair we opted for has a range of height settings, so baby can sit at a table or closer to the floor, and can be folded thin when not in use, sliding nicely into a closet and out of the way.

Decorative Storage Bins

When determining our storage needs, we opted for furniture pieces that were dual function, such as one that acted as both a book shelf but that also had drawer inserts that acted as storage bins to hide all of baby’s toys, books, diapers and even clothes. By adding these decorative storage bins, we are able to hide the clutter in the bedroom or living room, turning it from something that looks like a mini amusement park to a clean space.

Baby Must Haves for Small Spaces

Extra Bed Sheets and Clothing 

This may seem contradictory to the point of this post, but allow me to explain myself. If you live in an apartment similar to ours and don't have access to your own washer and dryer, laundry can be a pain. Babies go through A LOT of clothes during their first year, and having to constantly venture up and down from the apartment laundry room is less than ideal.

While having a few (and just a few) extra bed sheets, towels and articles of clothing may take up a bit more room, not having to make laundry a full day’s activity makes the extras worth it. And with those handy dandy decorative storage bins, you’ll have a place to store them.

Dresser with Portable Change Pad 

Word from the wise, change tables are a waste of money and space. Beds, couches and even the floor, work just fine. But, if a change table is needed, instead use something that is dual function, such as a dresser with an added portable change pad on top. It can be used as a change table when babe is little, and can be converted into extra storage when a change table is no longer needed.

Diaper Disposal System

If you live in an apartment or place that does not have a garage to store your stinky diapers, you must add the NEW Playtex® Diaper Genie Expressions™ to your list. 

Baby Must Haves for Small Spaces
Baby Must Haves for Small Spaces

The Diaper Genie pail is the #1 selling diaper disposal brand* (*based on Nielsen scan data) and can hold up to 50 newborn diapers. Equipped with an Odor Lock System, it seals in germs and odors, so your tiny space won’t smell of dirty diapers.

And since you’ve probably spent a good deal of time decorating your baby’s space, the Diaper Genie Expressions is now customizable to match your nursery, with six designer fabric sleeves to choose from (each sold separately). 

Baby Must Haves for Small Spaces

Babies “R” Us has a great selection of Playtex Baby products. Look for the Diaper Genie Expressions and Designer Fabric Sleeves near the diaper section at your local store.

Baby Must Haves for Small Spaces

By eliminating the unnecessary gadgets and gizmos in our tiny space, we have been able to squeeze every last possible inch out of our home to make a safe and healthy environment for baby.

Are you the parent of a little one living in small quarters? What are your space challenges? Discover these tips for better beginnings.


March 28, 2017

Creative Ways to Save Money

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FRAMFreshBreeze #CollectiveBias

Creative Ways to Save Money

I am in no way a financial guru. Thankfully, I have my brother for that. But, as a family that is currently trying to save for a new house while paying for a ridiculous insurance bill, new car and day care, while having a social life and doing the things that we enjoy, we’ve learned a few things about getting creative with our hard earned dollars.

With these creative money saving tips, you don't need to completely overhaul your lifestyle to save money. By taking baby steps to make small changes in your spending habits, its possible for you to still enjoy the things you love and even treat yourself once in a while.

Creative Ways to Save Money

5 Creative Money Saving Tips

Turn off the TV

Not only will turning off the TV save electricity (and money), but cancelling your cable will save you even more! With video streaming subscriptions on the rise, you can still watch the shows you love for a fraction of the cost. Do you really need a gazillion channels anyways? Instead of turning on the electronics, opt for outside

Opt for Rewards Programs

When searching for a new credit card, or even a new bank, pick one that puts money or points back in your pocket. Love to travel? Look for a credit card with travel rewards. In need of groceries? There’s cards for that too! Points can add up quickly, and give you cash back on your purchases, discounts on gas and even a cheaper price just for having the card.

Visit the Library

Next time you are in need of a good read, instead of purchasing new, why not take a trip down to the local library. Not only will this save you money, but it will also save you from cluttering your house with books that you’ve only read once (and probably will never read again).

Work Out at Home

Skip the expensive fitness classes and gym fees and create your own workouts at home. Gently used fitness equipment is easy to come by, and fitness classes can also be streamed online, either for free and for a small fee.

DIY Care Maintenance

No need to be a certified mechanic to perform simple maintenance on your vehicle. Skip the auto shop appointment and do it yourself to save both time and money. 

Creative Ways to Save Money

One of the simplest vehicle maintenance procedures that you can do at home is changing your own air filters, including your cabin air filter. They are often an overlook part of routine vehicle maintenance and easy to install yourself. 

Did you know that it is important to routinely change both your engine and cabin air filters to improve airflow and prevent dust, dirt and allergens from entering both the engine and cabin? The air inside your vehicle can be up to 6x dirtier than the air outside. Dirty cabin air filters can even reduce the efficiency of your vehicle’s defrost and heating system! 

Creative Ways to Save Money

Now you can protect your family and improve your driving comfort with a FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filter. Made with a special media that uses the natural deodorizing qualities of ARM & HAMMER® baking soda, the FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filter prevents up to 98%* of dirt, dust and allergens from entering your vehicle (*road dust and pollen particles ranging in size from 5-100 microns). Clean filters mean a more efficient vehicle, and a more comfortable you. 

Creative Ways to Save Money

With spring on the horizon, dirt, dust and allergens in the air will be a plenty. With precious cargo in tow, keeping the air inside our vehicle is extremely important. With the help of the installation instructions found both online and inside the box, my husband and I were able to tackle the FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filter for our mid-size SUV in as little as 15 minutes. 

First, we opened the glove box and removed the contents. We located the dampener rod on the right hand side of the glove box. Next, we pushed in on both sides while pulling the front downwards, until the stops on either side of the glove box were disengaged. The box then swung down on its bottom hinge. We unlatched and removed the cabin filter cover and removed the dirty filter, gross! The new cabin air filter was then inserted and the filter cover was relatched. After putting the glove box back into position, we reinstalled the dampener to the right side of the glove box and then partially closed it to reinstall the two glove box stops. The contents were replaced, the door closed and voila, a new cabin air filter was installed! 

With how easy, and much less expensive it was to do it ourselves, I foresee many more at-home cabin air filter changes in our future. (Please note, when installing, it is important to follow recommended change intervals as noted in your vehicle owner’s manual.)

Creative Ways to Save Money

FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filters can be found in the automotive department at your local Walmart. Not sure if your vehicle has a cabin air filter, or are unsure of the model specific to your vehicle? Be sure to check online

What are your creative ways to save money? I'd love to hear!


March 23, 2017

Making the Switch

One of the important things that we had to consider when Morley started daycare was making the switch from formula to whole milk. 

At just shy of 11 months, we weren't sure if we were ready to make the switch just yet.  Everything we had read said to wait until baby is at least a year old. That their little bodies weren't yet ready to handle whole cow's milk because it doesn't "contain enough nutrients, vitamins or minerals to adequately and properly sustain an infant’s growth." 

As a new parent, that is kind of terrifying to read. 

Making the Switch to Cow's Milk + Giveaway

However, after discussions with our nurse and family doctor, we were told that starting Morley on whole milk before she reached that recommended one year milestone would not be a problem. What the whole milk was lacking in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, she would be getting from the food she was eating.

Not only would the switch to whole milk be easier for us, but it would also be easier for the daycare. We would no longer need to provide the formula anymore, and they would provide the milk. She would be eating and drinking the same things as the other kids in her class. I can't forget to mention that it would also be easier on our wallets. Formula is pricey! Seemed like a win-win to us.

And so, with that green light, the "weaning" process began.

Making the Switch to Cow's Milk + Giveaway

We really didn't know what to expect from making the switch. Morley had a hearty appetite but loved her bottles. How would she handle the difference in taste? Would she even notice? How did we go about making a seamless switch, so that she enjoyed the milk?

"Start slow," they said. "Baby won't like the sudden change in taste," they said. Everything we had read had said to gradually introduce the milk - start by mixing half formula, half milk. Once baby was comfortable with the new mixture, slowly start to introduce more milk, less formula, until the formula was no more.

Truth is, we ignored what we read online and dove right in. No mixing, just straight milk. Turns out, baby girl loves whole milk. Once she downed her first bottle, we said adios to formula and didn't look back.

Making the Switch to Cow's Milk + Giveaway

Part of the reason the switch was so much easier than "they" said it would be was because of the bottles we use. 

From the very beginning, we have been a Philips Avent family. Philips Avent Natural Bottles are the most natural way to bottle feed. The advanced anti-colic system with innovative twin valve is extremely important to ensure air goes into the bottle and not baby's tummy. The bottles have an ergonomic shape for maximum comfort, making them easy to hold and grip in any direction. They are simple to use and clean, with quick and easy assembly, which is important when you've got a hungry babe on your hands. Philips Avent Natural Bottles are 100% BPA-free and are available in two different sizes, 4oz (125mL) and 9oz (260mL), colours and decorations.

Because we love Philips Avent products so much, we're teaming up with Philips to give away TWO Natural Bottles Gift Sets and TWO Anti-Colic Bottles Gift Sets to our readers! 
Whether there's a new baby on the way or you're looking for the perfect baby shower gift, bottles are a must have for any new parent. And this giveaway is perfect for both breast and bottle fed babies! Enter below for your chance to win one of two Philips Avent Natural Bottle and Anti-Colic Bottle Gift Sets. This giveaway is open to all Canadians, including Quebec. Good luck!

Philips Avent Bottles Giveaway - March/April 2017

Do you have any tips or tricks for making the switch? I'd love to hear!

Disclaimer: As a member of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Philips Avent, I received products and/or compensation in exchange for this post and my honest review. The opinions and advice shared in this post are 100% my own, and I only work with companies that I genuinely love

March 21, 2017

Celebrating Amongst the Fishes

Ladies and gents, allow me to introduce you to my one year old daughter.

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Holy cow. The words "my one year old daughter" are still a shocker when they come out of my mouth.

This past weekend was full of celebrating little miss Morley. Saturday was filled with lots of family and friends. With the weather we've been having lately here in Toronto, our Hawaiian luau theme only seemed appropriate.  I can't wait to share more photos of the day, but until then, you can find a sneak peek over on my insta.

On her actual birthday on Sunday, we took a trip down to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. Morley has been there almost a dozen times over the past year, and each time she visits she enjoys it more and more.

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Her favourite part of the Aquarium is hands-down the Dangerous Lagoon and the 315 foot moving sidewalk that runs through the 2.9 million litre tank. How can you not love being surrounded by three different types of sharks, green sea turtles and thousands of tropical fish?

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Visiting the Aquarium with a now toddler is so different, and so much more fun. The shark crawl, three touch tanks (horseshoe crab, cleaner shrimp and stingray) and a dive show at Ray Bay kept her engaged the entire visit.

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

What a great day spent with family celebrating Morley's first with her fishy friends at the Aquarium.

Celebrating Morley's 1st Birthday at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

On a side note, can we talk about the top I'm wearing in these photos? Like the majority of first-time moms, I've struggled with my post-baby body. When looking for clothes that would both fit my new body and be work-appropriate, I turned to PinkBlush, the place where fashion meets motherhood. This trendy online boutique's clothing is the perfect solution to help cover the problem areas both fashionably and affordably. They carry a wide range of maternity clothes that perfectly transition into after-baby clothes as well, such as this Pink Floral Knit Draped Cardigan.

This knit, flowy floral piece allows me to layer my wardrobe to cover the areas that I am most self conscious of (ahem, I'm looking at you belly and hips). Versatility is key in the land of motherhood and this piece easily transitions from work-wear with a pair of black pants to weekend-wear with jeans. And since spring is finally here, it adds a little pop of colour in my life.

How did you welcome spring? I'd love to hear!

Disclaimer: I was provided product and/or compensation in exchange for this review. However, all opinions are 100% my own. Thank you PinkBlush!

March 19, 2017

On Your First Birthday

Dear Morley,

You entered the world on March 19th,
And to find out you were a little girl was beyond belief.

Arriving just after midnight, at 12:01 in the morn,
You slept like a baby, our neighbours though we scorned.

Eight pounds, two ounces and 20.5 inches long,
We knew right away that one day you'd be strong.

Becoming parents gave us quite the scare,
But over the next few months we learned how to take care.

In month one we had so much to learn,
Changing diapers and making bottles all came in turn.

Month two we started to see your easy nature,
And bring a good sleeper was doing mom and dad quite the favour.

Month three was filled with many exciting trips,
Your first plane ride, the Science Centre and the cottage for a dip.

Months four and five meant lots of summer fun in the sun,
You also started eating solid food before they were done.

Month six started many fall family traditions,
Picking apples, carving pumpkins and eating turkey that was delicious.

Month seven you celebrated your first Halloween night,
And dressed as unicorns, you and dad were quite the sight.

At eight months you paid a visit to the jolly man in the red suit,
And a family say at the Christmas tree farm was quite the hoot.

In month nine we celebrated your first Christmas day,
And to say you were spoiled would definitely be okay.

Month ten was filled with more great adventures,
Traveling to Niagara Falls and Cuba where you found beach treasures.

Month eleven meant daycare and back to work for mom,
And the start of a new routine was a challenge we'd have to overcome.

Now here we are, celebrating your first birthday,
But even though you're growing, our baby girl is where you'll stay.

The words time flies we now believe to be true,
And the past 12 months have been beyond amazing with you.

Happy 1st birthday to our little baby girl,
Mom and dad love you more than anything in the whole wide world.

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