Sunday, March 27, 2016

Focusing on Nutrition Facts (starting them young!)

The boys are I were invited to attend the 'Focus on the Facts' Nutrition Education event last week, to learn more about how to read the nutritional labels on the food we buy/eat. 

The event was held at Save-on-Foods on Cambie Street, and it was a lot of fun! As we arrived, the boys were given super cool Sherlock Holmes-esque detective hats and magnifying glasses, as well as a cool bag that they got to decorate while we waited for the other guests to arrive. They couldn't wait to get started on their mission to find and compare food products around the store.

We started off by learning about how to read the nutrition labels. It's really quite simple, and the kids caught on really quickly :)

The first thing you need to look at is the Serving Size. The serving size is the amount of the product that would need to be eaten to receive the calories/nutrients listed on the label. It's important to be aware of the serving size and to adjust the nutrient amounts as needed, if you're consuming less or more than the serving size. 

The next important number on the label is the %DV or Percent Daily Value. This shows the percentage of the recommended daily value of each nutrient that is found in each serving of the food product. We learned that 5% or less is a little, and 15% or more is a lot!  There are good nutrients that we look for (Calcium, Iron, Vitamins, Fibre, Protein, etc.) and some not-so-good ones such as Trans Fats and Sodium that we try to avoid.

You can see more information on nutritional labels and how to read them here.

Our family tries to avoid as much sugar as we can, so we also look at the Carbohydrate/Sugars amount in the products that we buy. Some products are tricky, and show great %DV of nutrients such as Calcium and Iron, but at the same time have very high amounts of processed sugars. We prefer to avoid these types of products and get our vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables, such as Kale (the boys LOVE Kale chips!). Wouldn't it be great if kale had a nutrition label to show the %DV of Vitamin A (206%!) and Vitamin C (134%) that it contains in a serving size of just one cup (chopped)?  We're going to continue on with our nutrition eduction, and learn more about which fruits and vegetables contain the most amounts of nutrients.

It was a great learning experience for my little men (and ME!). We were asked to search the store for products that we could compare in three different categories: Breakfast foods, Soups/Sauces and Breads/Grains. The little detectives got out their magnifying glasses and figured out which products were more suited to our family, and which ones we would rather avoid.

I try to do most of my grocery shopping around the outer edges of the grocery store. I always start with fresh produce, and fill my cart up as much as I can with the good stuff before moving on to anything that comes in a package. That's not to say that we don't buy some healthy-ish snacks and treats as well ;) I just notice that we all feel much better (and have less dodgy grumpy days!) when we're eating right. 

After all the chocolate they consumed this Easter weekend, we're going to be eating extra healthy next week! Our new favourite breakfast is a smoothie bowl with chia seeds and fresh fruit, and it sure starts the day off right! 

If you'd like to enter to win a $300 Grocery Shopping Spree, check it out here. :)

 This event and post were sponsored by Health Canada, the Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Party (Rory turns 3)

My tiny man is 3.


I need to start getting used to this growing up thing. I am sentimental to a fault, and cling to every stage like my life depends on it. For some reason, it's harder with my baby! Why is that??

Maybe it's because I feel like there are so many 'lasts'. The last time I'll have a two year old. The last time he'll nurse (and no, that last still hasn't happened yet).  I need to shift my focus to all the wonderful firsts instead, right? The first time he'll say "I'm FREE" (three). The first time he'll get to go in the IKEA play area with his big brothers, because he's finally not needing a diaper. The first time he'll ride a bike. SO many firsts to come. Thank goodness!

But for now, he's still my tiny man....and three is still pretty tiny, right? 

He's following in his big brothers' party-planning footsteps, and had this party planned before I even had a chance to hit up Pinterest! He chose the theme himself (his favourite book right now!) and insisted that his party needed to have "ALL the sings (things) the catuhpilluh eats!". It was tricky, let me tell you!

I couldn't find plums. That was the only thing, believe it or not! Other than that, we had all sorts of caterpillar-friendly fruit and snacks. I found a 'bulletin board pack' for teachers on Amazon, and used the little cutouts for making the food signs as well as all of the 'story board' decorations on the wall. The birthday boy and his big brother had all their friends sit down while they told the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (using the story board pictures on the wall).  

For favours, I made some playdough and put in it mason jars. Simple, easy, and doesn't include more sugar ;). 

The cake was inspired by one that the birthday boy spotted on Pinterest (yes...he likes to browse around with me for party ideas). It was super easy to make, so I was in! 

Tiny man was so happy...surrounded by his little buddies.  All in all, it was a fun little party. :)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Uncommon Gifts for Boys

It's that time of year again! It's getting chilly out, and all sorts of holiday decorations are going up. My boys have started asking how many weeks until Christmas, and are wondering if maybe, just maybe it will snow ;). 

There are just over 7 weeks left until Christmas, and this year I want to be organized. I want to make or buy meaningful gifts that aren't chosen in a rush, just for the sake of having something to give. Having said that, I always have very good intentions of making fabulous handmade gifts, but the reality of this mama's life right now is that there just aren't enough hours in the day. 

So, I'm thinking that the next best thing is to purchase gifts from a company that believes in sustainability, and sells products that are handmade, organic, recycled, etc. 

That's where Uncommon Goods comes in :). I love this store!! I discovered it just last year, and have been hooked on it ever since. When they contacted me to see if I would be interested in a store credit in exchange for writing a post about their gift products, I was so excited!! They carry so many awesomely unique products; things I've never seen anywhere else. Check out their gift selection here. Their products are made by artists and small manufacturers (most of which are made in the US) who also believe in the same standards of sustainability. This organic-loving, chemical-hating mama loves to know that the gifts I give my children (or anyone else for that matter) aren't full of horrible chemicals and toxins. 

I learned my lesson a couple of years ago, when I ordered a cheap plastic alphabet popsicle-shaped puzzle toy for my then one year old. I opened the package on Christmas Eve and the toxic smell of rubbery plastic filled the entire room! ugh. Not cool! 

So, I'm compiling a little list of gifts that I know my boys would love. There are some seriously cool uncommon gifts to pick from! You can take a look at the whole selection of incredible gifts for boys (and girls) here.

1. Blockitecture
2. Electric Light Blocks
3. Stack and Scare Block Set
4. Magbot Magnetic Block Set
5. Scratch Map
6. 104 Things to Paint
7. Fingerprint Art Set-Bugs
8. Colour the Earth Kit
9. Kinetic Sand
10. 5-String Banjo
11. Build Your Own City
12. Choo Choo Train Dining Set
13. Circuit Board
14. Rory's Story Cubes
15. Stop Motion Claymation Kit
16. Construction Plate and Utensils

There's another great blog post here with a list of excellent STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) gifts :) As a homeschooling mama, I'd LOVE some of these in our collection!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Lego Party (Finny turns 6)

It was birthday time in our house once again! Our little Finn turned 6 last week, and it honestly feels like we just had his 5th birthday! eek! Stop going so fast!!

Finny has been wanting a Lego themed party for the past 6 months at least, and came up with a lot of the ideas himself. Quite handy, actually ;) It saved me from having to think up games, snacks, etc. He's a party guy, and parties are my love language ;) Works well!

I loved seeing his face light up every time I showed him a new part of his party that I'd been working on (favour boxes, banners, etc). He's into the little details, and notices every single thing. A man after my own heart ;)

A Lego theme is actually really easy to do since it's all done in primary colours. Easy to find poster board, plates, etc. One thing that made it really easy were the Lego sticker books! We put Lego stickers on everything! 

I made the invitations using PicMonkey, and decided to make them like little Lego sets. Too much time on my hands? ;) hah! Not exactly. I actually find this kind of crafty stuff relaxing! I had the invitation part printed as 4X6 photos then glued it on the front of the box (which I made out of card stock). I then made the number 6 out of lego, and drew a little instruction sheet. I dug around our Lego stash, and found enough pieces for each little lego set, and put them in mini zip top bags. Finny couldn't believe his eyes when he saw that he had his very own custom Lego set! :) 

I made the minifigure heads using paper plates and permanent markers. I found the square yellow plates at Dollarama. The "Finn is 6" banner was made using felt rectangles that I also found at the dollar store :).

The snacks were very simple. Cookies, popcorn, chips, fruit, marshmallow pops and cake. 

The cake was a specific request from Finny for a "Lego Brick". I wasn't sure how to make it, but it was actually pretty easy! I just did three layers of chocolate cake in a rectangular pan, then iced them and draped yellow fondant over top. Then I wrapped Oreo cookies in fondant to make the "dots" on the top. It was looking a little rough around the edges, so I did a little embellishing with Lego/Duplo bricks and minifigures. It worked perfect to cover up the dodgy corners where the icing was oozing out ;).

The favours were also kept really simple. I found these little boxes at the dollar store as well, and the boys had fun putting lego stickers on them. We packed them with a Lego minifigure in its packet,  a couple of treats and a glow stick.

The Birthday boy blowing out his 6 candles!

These stuffed balloons were a lot of fun! Each kid got to pop a balloon, and get the prizes inside. 

Finny's idea for a game was 'pin the moustache on the  Lego man". Haha! Hey, it worked just fine!

Another fun game was "throw the Lego bricks into the cups". So random, but they loved it! I gave them tickets for each piece that made it into a cup, and they proudly showed off their long strings of tickets! Once the game was over, they got to trade their tickets in for a turn to pop a balloon pinata.

It was "the best day ever!" according to Finny :)

Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with us! Our little man was so excited about this day for so long!

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