Everything old is new again on the streaming service

DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.

Try to explain the concept of “Saturday Morning Cartoons” to a child who’s only known 24/7 TV, “The Google,” no less than a few thousand satellite channels and unlimited shows online via the likes of YouTube and other sites.

The Good Old Days” exist only in the minds of said child’s parent, who bemoans the fact that waking up early to run downstairs and watch television every Saturday is a memory quickly fading.

How does one explain the growing anticipation of Saturday morning, the countdown to the end of the week, the adrenaline that wakes up kids at the crack of dawn, hours before anyone else in the household would even think of opening their eyes? There was nothing like it and likely won’t be anything like it again.

That is, of course, unless you start a new Saturday morning tradition. With the latest family-friendly additions to Netflix which include some of the classics of yesteryear, everything old is new again.

If you’re looking to recreate your childhood memories of Saturday morning TV viewing, consider introducing your kids to these shows, now streaming on Netflix:

Garfield and Friends

Garfield the Cat and his wacky group of friends were everywhere in the 80’s and early ’90’s. The sloth-like and sarcastic tabby who despised the thought of any type of work was a favourite among both kids and adults.

Garfield and Friends

The Magic School Bus

A great combination of education and entertainment, this program keeps the kids glued to the screen as science was made fun. The Magic School Bus set out on a different adventure every weekend and now your kids can also travel along on an educational journey with the crew.

Magic Schoolbus

My Little Pony

Not exactly rainbows and unicorns, but close. Pastel colours, sparkles and characters with names such as Baby Heart Throb, Baby Cuddles and Sweet Stuff made this show a favourite in the ’80s.

My Little Pony

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

These turtles also double as super-heroes who battle criminals and bad guys, all in the name of justice. Oh, and they have names inspired by Renaissance-era painters. Cool, right?

TMNT

Star Wars Clone Wars

Yup, your favourite Star Wars characters are all here: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, and Darth Maul. The Clone Wars follows the Republic’s clone army in their struggle against Count Dooku’s Separatist forces and will keep your kids riveted (if they’re into this sort of thing).

CloneWars

Spiderman

If you grew up in the ’70’s or ’80s, you know the Spiderman Song by heart, and your kids should too.

Spiderman

Scooby-Doo

If only for the groovy music, Scooby-Doo is a must-watch program for parents who want to relive their 70’s childhood and kids who want to get hip with the lingo of a groovy era.

ScoobyDoo

 

What are your favourite “old school” Saturday morning cartoons? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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Simple money-saving strategies for families

Groceries

That will be $257.43, please.

Ouch! That hurt!

Grocery shopping for a family of growing kids can be ridiculously expensive, as I’ve painfully found out. With a weekly shop a necessary requirement, a visit to the supermarket can bring on feelings of not only anxiety but downright fear as well. Pockets and wallets are only so deep and the thought of cleaning out the financial reserves in order to put food on the table can make any parent break out into a cold sweat.

With three growing kids and two adults, my grocery bill can be pretty hair-raising at times. Despite my best efforts, it’s definitely a challenge staying within a budget and making sure that my family dollars are stretched as much as possible.

That being said, there are some tricks that I’ve figured out that allow for greater savings and less money being handed over at the checkout. For anyone who’s been challenged to shop on a budget, these simple tips can really make a difference.

Here are my Top 10 Tips For Saving Money on Your Grocery Bill

1) Keep Up With Store Sales  – Get ahead of the game by knowing what the best deals are in your local area. Check all of the store flyers regularly (both print and online) and scour them for deals. Sign up for email newsletters and store memberships (where applicable) and watch your savings grow.

2) Be Fickle! – Don’t commit to just one grocery store. In keeping with Tip #1, know what’s on sale and also where it’s on sale. If the product or food item that you need is cheaper at a location other than your regular grocery store or supermarket, make the trip to that location and make it worth your while, financially. Map out a course of action and pick up your needed food items wherever they’re most economically priced for maximum savings.

3) Use Coupons – Whether it’s a manufacturer’s coupon or a store coupon, take any opportunity you have to save using these items. Look at coupons as free money: you have the option of saving, so why not? To not use coupons on your frequently-purchased items is almost the same as throwing money away. With online options and digital downloads available for most coupons, they are easily scanned from your smartph0ne or mobile device – no clipping required. There are also a number of coupon apps that take the guesswork and tedium of coupon clipping non-existent. **Scroll down to the end of the post for the top 10 coupon apps for both Android and iOS**

4) Shop in Season – Quite simply, fruits and vegetables that are seasonal are less expensive than those that are not. Think of it: a mango in a New York winter or a pumpkin in the dog days of summer means that both items have been transported from far-reaching locales. In addition to the obvious carbon footprint that the item will have, you’ll also have to contend with the high price required to transport the item from distant locals to your local supermarket. Shop for fruits and vegetables that are in season and help both your bank account and the environment.

5) Buy Store Brands – A little-known secret of supermarkets as well as many consumer goods stores is that they often sell name-brand products under a “white label” banner. In other words, those store-brand potato chips or acetaminophen could very well be the more expensive name brand items (e.g. Lays Potato Chips or Tylenol) in disguise. It is a very well-known and common practice for the makers of many name-brand products to offer the exact same items to consumers under the particular store brand where they are sold. In other words, these items are just as good as name brands and, even better,  you can often save up to a third or more off the name brand price. When it comes to groceries, consider buying store brand items for extra savings.

6) Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry – Perusing the aisles of your favourite grocery store on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster (pun intended). Before you head into the cereal aisle, make sure you’ve eaten enough that you’r full and not easily tempted by those unplanned snacks that beckon as you try to stick to your list. By eating before grocery shopping, there will be less likelihood that you will give in to a craving for the unplanned (and often expensive and unhealthy) food item in front of you.

7) Know Your Prices – To maximize the amount of money that you can save, make sure you go into the supermarket with a good idea of what things should cost and what your budget is for that particular day. As with any expedition, research and knowledge will help you achieve your goal – in this instance, saving money – and will arm you with the confidence to make the right food choices at the grocery store. Having a general idea about how much particular items cost will allow you to stay within your planned budgetary range and will lower your chance of overspending.

8) Buy Frozen or Canned Foods – Many foods that are frozen and canned are just as good for use in family recipes as fresh items, which are more expensive. If you’re down to the wire financially but are still on the hook to make a reasonably-balanced and healthy meal for the family, look no further than the frozen aisle of the grocery store and start saving. Examples of fresh food items that can be substituted for frozen in various recipes include frozen spinach in vegetarian lasagna, frozen peas for tuna casserole and canned tomatoes for homemade pasta sauce. (On a related note, always have some canned goods and non-perishable staples on hand so that you can rustle up a meal when you’re down to the wire and have to go grocery shopping. These included tomato paste, canned tomatoes, pasta, flour, sugar butter, etc.)

9) Make A Meal With What You’ve Got – Once a week, go through your cupboards, pantry, fridge and freezer and get creative! Make a meal out of your existing food items to make sure that nothing is going to waste. Doing so will not only save you money but will give you a better perspective on what foods are being eaten – or not.

10) Buy in Bulk – For certain items, buying in bulk can make a considerable difference in your total weekly food bill. Whether it’s stocking up on staples such as flour or rice, or purchasing “bulk size” items such as toilet paper or diapers, check your prices, particularly the unit price and start saving.

So as you can see, following a few simple strategies while grocery shopping can result in considerable savings for a family on a budget. All it takes is a little bit of planning in order to get the most “bang for your buck.”

Remember, before you go to the supermarket:
  • Plan ahead
  • Have your coupons ready
  • Eat! Don’t shop while hungry
  • Frozen and canned goods can make cost-effective substitutes
  • Buy in season
  • Choose store brands wherever possible

RESOURCES

The Top 10 Coupon Apps for Android

The Top 10 Coupon Apps for iOS

What are some of your tips and tricks for saving money at the grocery store? Tell me about it in the comment section below.

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Are Parents to Blame For Picky Eaters?

by Samantha on June 20, 2015

Whose fault is it when kids refuse to eat what's put in front of them?


girl picky eater

We’ve all dealt with the picky eating habits of our kids at one time or another. Whether it’s a disdain for broccoli or a dislike of asparagus, most parents have had to negotiate with their children about certain types of food that said child has deemed “gross.” I’ve done it myself and have used every trick in the book to get my kids to eat what I think to be a balanced and sufficient meal.

But what about those kids who consistently decline most food items put in front of them, demanding, instead another meal selection, snack or pronouncing a downright refusal to eat at all? What about them? Where did they get their chutzpah?

At the risk of being scolded, may I suggest that it may very well be from their parents?

Yes, their parents.

It’s safe to say that many kids are picky eaters because their parents have coddled them. Through fear that they will eat nothing and – gasp – go to bed hungry, they have been provided with their own personal chef and concierge, taking orders and serving meals on demand.

In many households, it is the child (or children) who have been allowed to dictate what is being served. In these homes, the parent(s) gives in to the child’s demands and makes special or separate meals for them. How many of us have given in and said, “okay, if you don’t want to eat this, I’ll make you something else?”

Guilty as charged. And it’s not a stretch to assume that you are too.

As parents (and mothers in particular – there, I said it), we worry about our children’s every need. Whether it’s the fact that they have a runny nose, a fever or the fear that they haven’t had enough to eat (in our opinion), so many of us feel the need to rectify the situation at any cost. It’s this parental instinct that takes over and shifts the balance of power from the parent to the child.

In the case of picky eating, the tendency for the parent to give in to the child’s refusal to eat sets up an expectation that all demands and requests will be accommodated.

In these scenarios, the child feels that they are in control and they don’t have to try anything. Also, it sets them up for unrealistic expectations as adults that they will be given in to whatever they ask for.

Allowing kids to set the stage for meals is just one example of the growing trend towards a child-centred philosophy of parenting. The rise of “helicopter parenting”and an age where over-protection is the norm, not the exception, just feeds (pun intended) kids desire to have all of their demands fulfilled.

Unfortunately, giving in to these demands just sets up kids for unrealistic expectations in the future. As difficult as it may be, it’s in our kids’ best interests to not always give in to their demands, particularly regarding food choices. In the absence of a specific allergy or inability to digest certain foods, what’s on the table for dinner should be just that – dinner, with no option for choice. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, when I was a kid, there was no choice – each meal was what we were eating and that was it. No consulting with us kids about whether or not they wanted to eat it, what they wanted instead, or why they didn’t like it. Not eating meant that they’d likely have a grumbling tummy and a voracious appetite the following morning.

It’s a hard thing to do, denying your child their preference for food, as there’s always the fear that they’ll starve. They won’t. Especially if there’s a fridge full of food and a healthy balanced meal in front of them that they have chosen not to eat. As difficult as it may be, as parents, we are obliged to teach our kids that there are not always choices in life. As they grow up and later when they become adults, they will need to know that sometimes, the luxury of choice is absent. More importantly, it’s crucial that children learn early to be flexible, accommodating and that sometimes they will have to just go with the flow and deal with the situation at hand instead of assuming that there will be an option. There won’t always be one.

Is your child a picky eater? How do you respond when your child won’t eat their meal? Do you give in or say “no?” Tell me about it in the comments section below.

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Pregnancy and Public Transit

by Samantha on June 14, 2015

What has happened to kindness and common courtesy?


Pregnant belly

She was about 8 or 9 months pregnant, belly hanging low, baby about to drop any day. The previous months had clearly taken a toll on her, as her face showed the exhaustion and fatigue required to make a human being. She was physically spent, yet there she stood.

Yes, she was standing. Standing on the 505 streetcar in downtown Toronto, as it abruptly stopped and started in morning rush hour traffic. Had she slept the night before? Unlikely, as anyone who has experienced the final months of pregnancy knows: a good night’s sleep is an ephemeral and fleeting fantasy.

Yet there she stood, while all around her, young, fit and otherwise preoccupied citizens pretended not to see her by burying their heads in their smartphones of choice.

A 20-something man in a crisp suit, clearly headed to his job in the financial sector pretended to sleep, as his eyes closed immediately after viewing the pregnant woman’s swollen belly.

A middle-aged woman played candy crush saga with an intensity and fervour that many of us thought only belonged to a younger generation of gamers, her eyes glued to her retina display screen.

Three teenage girls in private school uniforms giggled amongst themselves, giving nary an eye to the belly that not only protruded into the aisle in front of them, but turgidly languished on the very edges of their personal space. You see, her belly – had it been acknowledged – would have broken up the party, and that wouldn’t have been cool. The latest gossip about that cute guy in class and recap of last night’s TV show was much more important.

This had not been the first time that I had seen such appalling behaviour. Sadly, purposely, ignoring pregnant women while riding public transit has become the norm, not the exception. What has happened to humanity?

I’ve posted many rants and complaints about this on my personal Facebook page and talked to many friends who are mothers themselves. All of them have a similar story to recount about how they have been ignored  while pregnant and riding public transit.

A personal anecdote: during my last and final pregnancy with my twin boys, I could barely walk. I was considered “high-risk” for a few medical reasons which relegated me to bed-rest for most of my pregnancy. On those off days before I was completely immobile, somewhere between my seventh and eighth month of gestation, I needed to use the public transit to get to my doctor’s appointments. Now, let me say that having my third pregnancy and twins, no less, made me huge, much earlier than I would have been, had I been on my first pregnancy. In other words, there was no doubt that I was indeed pregnant.

Yet there I stood.

Their eyes averted, I was ignored, invisible and silently defeated as I struggled to balance so many times on the streetcar, hoping that some kindly person would give me a seat. My elephant-sized ankles continued to swell, my feet ached and my back painfully swayed with each lurch and jolt of the streetcar. Everything hurt, including my feelings.

As the mother of four, and one who has experienced three different pregnancies, I’m sad to say that this experience wasn’t atypical. Sadly, it was the norm, not the exception. And every single woman that I know who has been pregnant has experienced the same. What on earth is going on?

While I don’t profess to have all of the answers, I do believe that our culture of entitlement is a huge factor in this cultural shift. Once upon a time, there was chivalry, then socially accepted norms that included women, about “doing the right thing.” Helping someone who was clearly in need was the norm, not the exception. With the increasing sense of entitlement, exemplified by the “Me Generation” and continuing onward, those in need haven’t had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a fair shake. Whether they’re seniors who are unstable on their feet, the disabled or the aforementioned pregnant woman just looking for a kind soul who will let her have a well-needed seat, the chances of these folks receiving this small kindness grows smaller every day. The lack of focus on others, supported by the technological tools to “zone out” or feign ignorance wherever and whenever possible makes this willful blindness not only possible but probable as well.

Yet, in spite of this trend towards selfishness, I do believe that change is possible. The change starts now with all of us who are raising children with the values that support kindness and compassion. And while we make efforts to effect our childrens’ behaviours in future there are some adults who are in need of an etiquette refresher now.

I am starting a one-woman public awareness campaign as I feel that it needs to be done. As someone who has endured a very difficult twin pregnancy and was on the verge of begging someone to please give me a seat, the time for greater awareness for this reality is long overdue. Clearly, the assumption that everyone riding on the bus/subway/streetcar/[insert transportation mode here] understands that pregnant women should be given a seat is completely wrong. My assumptions – based on the teachings of my parents (thank-you, Mom and Dad) underscored the importance of kindness, but more specifically the need for those of us who are more able, to extend said kindness – and where appropriate, a seat – to those in need. This includes the elderly, the disabled and, of course, pregnant women.

Whenever and wherever you can, please remind those riding the public transit who seem to have forgotten basic courtesy that pregnancy is challenging, difficult and just plain exhausting. If a pregnant woman is standing while able-bodied people are pretending not to see her, be her advocate and ask them to give her a seat. I’ve done it before and have never been told “no,” probably because the shock of being called on their bad behaviour mixed with their embarrassment makes the culprits stand up quicker than one would imagine.

Perhaps making the subject one that is no longer ignored, one where pregnant women don’t have to suffer in silence, will put an end to it once and for all. If anything, making those who are oblivious more aware of their choices and how these choices affect others will affect change, hopefully for the better.

I’ll be tweeting and sharing the hashtag #StandUpForMom and #giveupyourseat on my social media channels to keep the topic top of mind and hope you’re able to share it as well.

Let’s do this.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

VIDEO: Stand Up For Mom!


What has been your experience with pregnancy and public transit? Tell me about it in the comments section below.

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Some basic tips to help parents with common parenting challenges


Top parenting tips

Ever feel like parenting is this big secret that you’re not in on?

It’s no surprise that most of us feel like this at one time or another.

Let’s face it – being a parent is tough, to say the least. What to do and how to do it are on the minds of most parents at any given time.

Some time back, I wrote this post – Parenting Advice That You Were Never Told – and the information included was so basic yet so true, that I thought I’d revisit the topic again, this time via video.

Check out my YouTube channel for the latest clip where I provide some quick and easy parenting tips on this very subject and let me know what you think! If you have any additional tips to add, please do so in the comments section below, or on YouTube.

The Top 5 Parenting Secrets You Were Never Told

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It’s About Family, After All

May 30, 2015

Netflix offers a variety of programs that showcase various family relationships DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. —- Play dates, picky eating, trying to teach your child right […]

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Kickstarting My YouTube Channel

May 26, 2015

I’m kickstarting my YouTube channel. No, not that kind of “kickstarting.” After a long hiatus, I’m restarting my video blogging in addition to writing on this blog. Life has been busy and sadly, I’ve neglected the channel for some time now. You know how it goes – life gets in the way, and between work, […]

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The 10 Childhood Loves My Kids Will Never Know

May 8, 2015

The simple pleasures of earlier times are now just memories in the age of technology It was a certainly a different time, a simpler time, devoid of the constant activity that is part and parcel of life in our increasingly rushed, hurried, 24/7 digital age. With the rapid changes to technology and how we communicate […]

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Lies, Lies, All Lies

April 30, 2015

Netflix offers a variety of shows that highlight untruths, tall tales and deceptions DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. We all know that kids lie. Parents have been […]

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Under Pressure: Celebrity Culture and Kids’ Need to Conform

April 25, 2015

The “Kylie Jenner Challenge” highlights the worst insecurities in tweens and teens Have you heard of the #KylieJennerChallenge? It’s a hashtag that’s become the call to action for young women who want to emulate the full-lipped look of the reality TV star. One of the famous sisters on “Keeping up With the Kardashians” and the […]

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