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July 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows part 2 | Review

From the age of four, Harry Potter has been a huge part of my life. Every year I waited impatiently to see the next installment of my favourite series and I have read and loved all the books. So that’s why last night, I couldn’t believe it was all coming to an end!
I think they did a great job on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and I was really glad that they included almost all of the important information from the books.

There were a few scary parts that I should probably warn people about. For example, when Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, attacked, it always scared me because she would jump up out of nowhere. Another frightening part was when Voldemort and Harry went flying through the air together and crashed into Hogwarts’ castle.
Some of my favourite scenes included the break in at Gringotts, the battle at Hogwarts, and, of course, the final duel between Voldemort and Harry.

Throughout the whole movie, all I could think about was the ending. Would they stay true to the book or would they change it? In my opinion, it was a great ending which was very similar to the book, but they didn’t include my favourite line—the last line of the book, “I’ve had enough trouble for a lifetime.” I am happy that they also included the epilogue, which takes place nineteen years later.
Overall, I loved the final movie of the Harry Potter series, and I can’t wait to watch it over and over again!

(reviewed by a Parent Club jr. Reporter, age 12)

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July 15, 2011

Healthy Habits | Theresa Albert

To Snack or Not to Snack?
It’s an age old question with no clear cut answer. For some, having 3 square meals is their preferred route but for many, smaller meals eaten and a couple of smart snacks help keep energy levels strong and blood sugar levels even. Simple enough, right?

But what snack and for how many calories? How do you assess a snack? It is always best to grab a piece of fruit or a handful of veggies, no doubt! That way, you are not creating landfill waste, and no matter which you choose, you are sure to come out ahead with nutrients. But, we are an on-the-go nation who loves our packaged convenience. So here’s a rundown of the best Healthy Habits options that are low cal, and still feel like a treat and won’t do damage to the bottom, er, bottom line.

Carb craving?

• Popchips! Because the potatoes are hot-air popped and not baked or fried, they are deliciously low in calories and high in flavour. Coming in all of the traditional chip flavours and satisfying 100 calorie single serving sizes makes them a fantastic “I’m peckish but I don’t want to ruin my dinner” snack.

Protein starved?

• Try Blue Diamond single serving 100 calorie packets. They are tiny and it would be easy to eat 2 but let the pouch be your guide and stop there. 4 grams of protein in any one of the flavoured packets from Teriyaki to lightly salted.

Need refreshing?

• You could always pack a piece of fruit, that’d be your best bet, but, if you are worried about the bruises here’s an option. Motts has delicious unsweetened fruit cups in delicious fruit blends. Try the Country Berry flavour and pop it in the freezer overnight. It’s fabulous frozen and great as it thaws. The best part is that you get 2 of the containers for a measly 100 calories. That ought to wake you up!

Time for a dip?

• There is nothing like hummus and crackers but what a pain to pack! Luckily Summer Fresh has done it for you with their Snack and Go product. Best bet is the Red Pepper hummus to get the most nutrients out of your 160 calorie snack.

Super Sweet?

• Dark Chocolate is the way to go, no doubt about it. Look for formulations that say how much cocoa is used, you are looking for 70% or more for the most antioxidant power. If you find it hard to stop at just two thin squares (which is what 100 calories looks like!) both Cadbury and Hershey have new bars that wrap it up for you.

Full disclosure: I like Popchips so much that I became their nutritional spokesperson.

Theresa Albert takes on the challenge of demystifying myths surrounding food and health. Millions learned just how smart and funny she is through her Food Network Canada Show called Just One Bite! She has authored two books published in both Canada and in the US: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day and Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck.

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July 14, 2011

Incorporating Learning Through Play Into Baby's Day | #playpanel

Summer is busy (LE BUSY chez nous!) between getting the big kids to camp and soccer games and family field trips the baby is in a constant state of "tag-along". However, I'm finding that I need to decidedly incorporate baby play into our daily routines. Because for baby...playing is learning...and learning is development.

One might think to look at my babe - that he is in constant play mode. Always smiling, looking, discovering, moving. (He is a player in that regard).

However, it's altogether different play when he's on his activity mat discovering that he can flip his body over from back to front with a bit of momentum. (then the poor soul gets turtle-syndrome and can't flip back).

And when he takes his blocks in hand and twists and turns his wrists in deep examination of the size, shape and sound. (it's pretty awesome to watch)  And yes, blocks are in the diaper bag as we speak as his on-the-go-play whether at a playground or waiting for his sister's Karate class to finish.

And I've already told you about his crazy jumperoo play.  The boy can play hard.

It's so very magical to watch him discover his abilities through play. Confession: yes, it's nice to play with him but it's even nicer when he can play solo (let's build those independence skills shall we?).  He smiles and shrieks and babbles away.  And I realize that he's building his fine and gross motor skills.  And discovering the world around him.  And growing. *sigh*

Which makes me think of this:

Those 3 words are so important to children. Baby play doesn't just happen when you have 2 bigger, busier siblings in the house for the summer. So I schedule, sneak, steal, incorporate play time into his day so he can play, laugh and grow.  And it gives me a chance to pause in our le busy summer day...and enjoy my baby in a totally magical way.

Disclosure: I’m part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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General Mills Free Towel Offer Giveaway | #LMDConnector

General Mills and Parent Club want to help your summer become a bit more fun - with fab new towels the kids will love to take to the pool/spash pad/cottage/bath tub.

THE WHAT: Enter to win The “General Mills Free Towel Offer Giveaway” pack is valued at approximately $50 and includes three (yes, 3 towels people!), 60” x 30”, limited edition General Mills towels.

THE TIMELINE: Today through August 9th 2011

THE ENTRY: Share your favourite summer recipe (inspiration over at

  • Tweet "I entered the Towel Giveaway from @LifeMadeDelish and @ParentClub! #GMFreeTowelOffer"
    (comment separately that you did so).
  • NEW! Like Parent Club on Facebook
    (comment separately that you did so).

THE RULES (because life has rules):
  • Open only to Canadian residents
  • One entry per day
  • Readers may enter the contest on multiple blogs but are only eligible to win one Free Towel Offer prize pack as part of the contest.
Full promotion details can be found at   #GMFreeTowelOffer Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Connector program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.


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July 13, 2011


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July 12, 2011

Tablets for Tots

I was recently invited for a Tablets for Tots luncheon (hosted by Best Buy, the Geek Squad and reps from RIM) to munch and meander the opportunities for kids and tablet devices. 

Confession:  I have a tablet - a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and no I do NOT let my kids touch it (thems got sticky fingers)

Take-away: the Geek Squad is solution based so if it takes them 10 minutes or 10 hours they will work dedicated to your problem until its solved.  (recommend bookmarking the online support feature)

During that Tablets for Tots discussion, my opinion of kids and tabs did open up.  We talked about how mobile tabs are family friendly (one device = your library, camera, movie player, social network, e-mail and game system).  We talked about how tech savvy kids are and that learning how to manipulate a tab can be part of their education.  We also talked about the cool apps (not Angry Birds...despite the fact that my kids think it's pretty cool) out in the free and paid markets which can keep kids entertained (and bonus if they have educational quality).

We also discussed "screen time" and most of the invitees agreed that screen time should not be limitless.  (chez nous it's 30 minutes) Nor do screens replace books.

On our lunch table was every tablet imaginable and I thought it might be prudent to share a quick run-down for you dear readers.
The ipad was the biggest tablet on the table (PlayBook and Samsung are half the size).  The biggest fail on the ipad is that it can't play flash (which means when there is a video on a website - it just shows a blank area).  Amazing amount of apps.  Good video quality.  My research tells me ipad does not have a built in camera - can anyone confirm this?
The picture quality of the PlayBook* is fantastic! From pictures to games to video the imagery is the top amongst this tablet listing.  It's a smart device with easy one finger swiping.  With this, dad can check e-mail using the blackberry bridge, mom can surf the internet and kids can watch videos and play movies (think of it one vacation, one device and only one cable to pack!).  Yes, it has a built in camera.  And it plays flash.
Samsung Galaxy Tablet
I received the galaxy tab for my birthday and at first I thought it was just a toy.  But after extensive testing (ok daily use really) I have found it's a really COOL tool.  It is my hand-held go-to for twitter, facebook, web searching and camera (do you notice a trend of the importance of camera to me? multi-purpose devices are my thang).  Android operating system.  Plays flash.  Extensive app market (my new fav is talk-to-tape where I can audio record interviews - great for a writer-type like me).

Disclosure: I received a PlayBook at this luncheon for hands-on experience.  Moment it came into the house the family was all "Can I have it?" "Can I have it?" "Me!"

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July 11, 2011

Hot Summer Trends | #LMDConnector

My, personal, hot summer trend is a baby sleeping through the night (kinda, sorta...ok not really at all).  This is the time of year when publishers editors me come out with "hot trends" lists. 

My hot trend is a staycation (because travelling with a baby is pas de fun).  My summer is filled with making homemade Brownies on a Stick and Very Berry Iced Tea.  And of course there will be swimming - lots and lots of swimming (and by swimming I mean the kids swimming - I take the baby bath out and hold the little sumo upright - the big swimming pool is just too big for a tot so small).

And we've already done some family field trips - I am litterally just back from the beach - have sand between my toes to prove it.

Off to get the burgers on the grill myself (and by myself - I mean my prince - I don't grill - I grocery shop).  More summer recipes can be found over here...

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own

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