Flipp Before Your Shopping Trip

Being a student is financially hard.  Being a student and a parent at the same time is financially harder.  I should know, I was one. I did survive (barely), and even moved on to purchasing a home, a car, and there is food in the house.  Since I know from experience that my family and I can survive having me be a student, I have decided to become one again.  You may wonder why I would want to do that.  It's simple really.  The house, the car, the food, and the countless other expenses life bestows upon families is eating up more of our family income than we would like. The only solution is to make more money, and the best way to do that is by upgrading my education. 

This time however I am more prepared.  I am wiser and have more experience handling money and making every dollar stretch to make ends meet.  I will share with you 3 of the ways I save my family money that will be beneficial to other students.

1. Download the Flipp app.  

Flipp is an app that brings up flyers from your local area. As you browse the flyers or search for specific items you can 'clip' (tap) the items you want to save.  Then you head to a price matching store (my favourite is Wal-Mart because they have the best price matching policy). If you see something you want to buy while in the store that you didn’t clip beforehand, search for it on the app to see if anyone has it at a better price. The more you use the app, the better you will be able to recognize a good sale. I easily save my family $40-80 every week using this app.

How much will you pay for blueberries?

2. Sign up for ebates.

Ebates is a no brainer for any online shopper.  Simply go to the app or the website before visiting your favourite online stores (eBay, Amazon, Old Navy, and hundreds more) and get paid a percentage of what you spend.  If you are shopping anyway, you may as well get paid for it.  After my Christmas Shopping I received a cheque back for over $75. 

Spending $100 at Old Navy is $4 back in your pocket.

3. Make cutbacks where you can. 

When we go to the movie theatre we refuse to buy snacks.  Popcorn and Drinks for a family of 4 should not cost more than the movie tickets.  By sacrificing (or saving ourselves from) the junk food, we’re able to go to move movies throughout the year. Students may want to think the same way when it comes to going out for drinks versus staying in and buying your own drinks. Doing that would save you not only on the drinks, but also on the Uber ride home.

Think of how many blueberries you could buy at FreshCo instead.

Students have a lot of expenses and not a lot of income. If you plan ahead and take time to save money on simple everyday items, you will find you have more money in your pocket to enjoy life along the way.  

This essay has been written as an entry for the 2018 Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Scholarship Program. For more information, visit: https://www.consolidatedcredit.ca


PSA for Social Criminals

Hey you!

Yes, you!

The one about to send out a tweet looking for weed, like @rosa_sparkz did on July 22, 2015.
Step away from the keyboard!  This warning is for you.

The police are monitoring social media sites, including twitter. Your tweet will be found just like the aforementioned person's tweet was found. She received a reply from @PBCountySheriff just over an hour after her initial tweet asking where they should meet her.

Police departments all over North America are spending time online because that's where we are. It's where we talk to each other, post about where we are going, what we are doing, and who we are with.  We post photos and engage in conversations.  We sometimes look for products and services too.  The police are realizing that social media is a great tool to not only solve crimes, but also learn about a crime before it even takes place. 

They couldn't do this without people oversharing online though.  That is why I am warning you to back away.  Don't post about your crimes or publicly plot to engage in criminal activity.

Just look at an unidentified 16 year old who decided to pull a prank at a public library by flooding the toilets, causing the library to be closed for 5 months from over $200,000 worth of damage, and then telling his friend about it on Facebook. He tried to deny it until police showed him the messages he had written on Facebook as proof. 

Then there was a woman who thought that live streaming herself on Periscope while driving impaired with her children in the car was a good idea. One of her followers notified police who were able to track her down by following her live stream.

Sometimes though, it's not even that people post about the crime or intent to commit a crime. Sometimes it's simply that people cannot leave social media alone long enough! That's what happened to Nick Wig in July 2014.  He entered a home when the family wasn't there and stole a few things.  Before leaving he logged into Facebook on their computer and was easily identified due to his name and face being plastered on their computer screen. That's right, he didn't even remember to log out before leaving!

So again I tell you, be warned, the police are monitoring social media sites looking for you.  So don't post about your desire to buy illegal drugs, or brag about how great a driver you are after 10 beers, 5 shots of rum, and a Red Bull. And if you ever break into someone's house and rob them, don't leave your Facebook page wide open on their computer screen.

When it comes to committing crimes, lets make the police work for the evidence they need. Here are five ways we can make crime 'old school' again.

1.  Lets go back to police needing to interrogate people for confessions rather than reading them on social media.

2. Lets go back to police relying on a sketch artist's drawing to help identify suspects rather than leaving photographic evidence of our identity from our Facebook pages.

3. Let's go back to finding drugs in dark alleyways rather than broadcasting our addictions on social media for police to openly see.

4. Let's go back to pretending to be sober when driving under the influence until getting caught by a ride program or stuck in a tree, rather than live stream the experience so police can track us down before we smash into the tree.

5. Let's go back to he said she said rather than give civilians the evidence they need to rat us out to the police.

I hope you will take my advice and think before you post. Remember everything you post, tweet, share, comment, or like, just might be used against you. Keep your crimes offline.

This PSA has been brought to you as my scholarship application for: https://www.haywoodhunt.ca  I hope you enjoyed my blog.


Junior Kindergarten 101

You knew this day would come eventually.  Now that it's here though, you can't help but wonder how it came so fast. As you look at your child all you can see is that sweet baby you brought home from the hospital. Only now he has more hair, a mouth full of teeth, and the words to tell you how he is feeling.

Your child might be telling you that he is ready for school. Asking you everyday if it's time to go yet. Walking around with his new, super cool (insert favourite cartoon character here) backpack. Or your child might be telling you that he is not ready.  Usually with crocodile tears pleading to please let him stay home with you.

Then there is the feelings of you, the parent.  Likely if this is your first kindergarten send off you are feeling nervous or sad yourself. This could be true if this is your last kindergarten send off too. It doesn't seem to matter if your child is ready to skip off happily or is leeching onto your leg, either way you are left an emotional mess.

The important thing is that you hide it and hide it well. Your child will sense your uncertainty and it can affect how well your child adjusts to kindergarten. Talk about the fun they will have and the friends they will make.  Let them pick out their backpack and lunchbox. Tell them you will pick them up and something you will do together (i.e. go to the park, watch a show together, read a story etc).  This will give them something to look forward to.

Kindergarten brings a lot of independence.  Yes, your child's teacher and early childhood educator team will help with zippers and boo-boos. But there are plenty of simple things you can do to help your child be successful at completing many tasks independently.

  • Buy shoes that your child can easily put on by himself.  Either slip-ons or velcro.  Avoid flip flops, fancy sandals, and shoes that are not suitable for play. 

  • Dress for play. Messy, messy play. If paint or mud got on their clothes you don't want to be upset about it.  Save the fancy stuff for home. If your child will wear a skirt or dress put shorts on underneath.  Trust me. This is important.

  • Give your child time in the morning to practice dressing themselves.  The teacher can help with zippers but your child should be able to put their sweater or coat on. This is especially important in the winter months. I will write a separate post outlining my fool proof method for ensuring a warm and dry play experience.

  • Make sure your child knows how to wipe their own bum. No one can help your child in this area. They need to practice this at home.

  • Label everything you want brought back home. This included a zip up sweater that they might take off. 

  • Pack extra clothes including socks. Accidents can happen, and sometimes play gets too messy and requires a change of clothes for comfort.

  • Pack your child's lunch in containers that they can open. Pack foods they are used to eating. Include a spoon or fork if required.  You wouldn't believe how often kids have yogurt but no spoon.

  • Be early for pick up the first week or so. Many kindergarten classes will dismiss earlier than the regular school bell (ask your teacher for time). An anxious child will become upset when they see other children leaving and you are not there. Once they are settled in they will be ok waiting a few extra minutes to see your smiling face.

  • Avoid asking your child "what did you do today?".  Instead try asking "what was your favourite thing about school today" or "what did you do in gym or library". You will get a better response if you narrow down your question.
The first few weeks can be difficult.  It's an adjustment to new routines, new friends, new teachers, and new expectations. But it will get better. Your child will grow so much this year and amaze you with all the things they are now capable of. But don't worry too much, they still need you. They need cuddles, attention, love and encouragement, 

On the first day of school when you drop your child off at school, whether your child is skipping along or clinging to your leg, know that he will be okay and so will you. 


Outdoor Movie Night

I don't know about you, but I like planning parties.  Usually they are to celebrate my children's birthdays. Occasionally, we have a large number of people over for a BBQ or something, but not too often.

This summer I wanted to host something different.  Something unique.

Well this idea was a hit; an outdoor movie night.  I realize I didn't invent this concept but I thought I'd share what I put together anyway.


We let the kids invite some neighbourhood kids and their families.  I invited some friends of ours and their families.  The key phrase here is "and their families" because I wanted to provide an opportunity for parents to spend some time making memories with their children.

Guests enjoying the movie

The Movie

We chose to watch The Lego Movie because we have two boys that love that movie and many of the guests also love that movie.  Plus it was a fairly recent family friendly movie.  Everyone had already seen it, but everyone was excited to watch it again in this setting.

The Technical Stuff

We have a projector so that part was easy.  My neighbour had a projector screen and he attached it to a wooden stand that he whipped together for us. It was much better than the cardboard I wrapped a white sheet around before I knew he owned a screen.

My husband hooked up the surround sound speakers to our DVD player and it was very loud.

The screen and stand, as well as the sign I made


Everything was set up right on our driveway.  We asked guests to bring their own chairs and blankets since sometimes it's cold at night.  Guests arrived around 9:30 pm and the movie started at 10:00 pm.

Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks

I wanted to make things extra fun by providing lots of awesome and authentic snack items, displayed in fun and functional ways.  We had several children with peanut allergies so all snacks were peanut free.  Here is what I came up with. 

Full size chocolate bars displayed in a wire bread basket

Full size, retro boxes of candy displayed in a basket tray

A variety of popcorn seasonings displayed in a box hidden by the bandana

Cardboard popcorn boxes with each person's name on it displayed in a basket 
chest with a bandana for added decoration.  I displayed the straws in a mason jar 
and tied checkered ribbon on it.

The completed concession buffet table. Popcorn is in the yellow tubs and I used 
mustard dispensers for the melted butter. There was also a cooler of drinks on 
the ground at the end of the table

The table without the popcorn or butter added yet, so you can see it in daylight

Overall, this get together was fabulous.  Everyone had a great time and I know it was an experience that will be talked about for a long time.  If you are looking for a unique way to enjoy summer with friends and have a projector handy, I highly recommend an outdoor movie night. 


Halloween Party Ideas

I have always wanted to host a Halloween party for my kids but every year we dedicate all our time and energy into my uncle’s Haunted House attraction in Mississauga; Lou Cipher’s House of Terror .

This summer we moved out of the area and will not be participating in the Haunted attraction this year, so I took advantage of the extra time to put together a Halloween party, FINALLY!

I warmed up my clicking finger, sat down and got down to business searching and pinning all the things I thought the kids would love, and ‘love’ they did.


I like creating the mood for a party but need to do it without breaking the bank. When I decorate, I try to create focal points in places people will gather the most.


Witch Table

Graveyard Hall

Costume Contest Trophies


When I was selecting items for the menu I had a few things in mind; that the kids would be excited about them, that they would add to the presentation of the table, and that they would be easy to make.
Here’s what I came up with.

Chocolate pudding graveyards

Veggie Skeleton Man

The Great Pumpkin Cake

Rice Krispie Jack-O-Lanterns and Leaves

I put out some candy, and orange coloured popcorn and chips. I also froze plastic spiders into ice cubes for their drinks which was a huge hit with the kids.

Party Itinerary

• Guests arrive and paint their own pumpkins, and enjoy some Halloween treats
• Pizza for dinner
• Costume contest (show and vote)
• Watch a scary movie (Our selection; Paranorman)
• Candy Hunt
• Cake
• Announce contest winners

Party Highlights

As the boys arrived they got to paint a pumpkin to take home. We did this activity first so that they would be dry by the time they went home.

For the costume contest I had the boys take turns showing off their costume.

Then I gave them a voting sheet with the categories, and they voted for their favourites. Voting for yourself was not allowed.

Then they settled in to watch Paranorman.

While they peacefully watched the movie...My husband changed into this costume…

…and then this happened...

I was busy while they peacefully watched the movie too. I put their pumpkins into a Halloween treat bag and set up the candy hunt; all of which would become their party favours.

After they settled down from the zombie scare, they had their candy hunt and enjoyed some cake and more treats. Then they all posed for one more group photo before going home but they got zombie photo bombed.

Overall, this was my favourite party to plan and host. It was fun from beginning to end and I can’t wait for next year. Happy Halloween Ghouls and Boys.


Yes, I am Judging You!

I often hear people (especially on Twitter) say that as parents (specifically moms) we need to stop judging each other. In many cases I do agree with that; breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers. Those are all trivial matters to which I say: as long as your baby is being fed enough, has a place to sleep, and diapers are being changed often enough; who are we to judge?

But some issues are serious enough that you're damn right I am judging YOU.

My latest irk that has me on judge overload is parents leaving children in cars. Especially hot cars. There have been countless news stories over the past few weeks of children (and pets) being rescued in sweltering hot cars and even a couple tragedies of children who lost their lives due to this kind of negligence.

When you decide to have a child you are deciding to put that life above what is convenient for you. That means taking your child out of the car, bringing them along for a one minute errand, and then putting them back in the car. I don't care if you have to repeat this sequence 20 times a day. I don't care if your cranky baby just finally fell a sleep and you don't want to wake them. I don't care if your child is having a mega meltdown about going in the store. I don't care if you're so busy you 'forgot' you have a child with you. Nothing you say, no excuse you make to make yourself feel better will ever make you leaving your child in the car okay. It's wrong. This isn't a debatable issue. It's a judge-able issue.

On a hot day your car becomes so hot you could bake cookies in it or fry an egg. Imagine what that powerful heat does to a child.

When you first shut your car off it may not feel that hot because you had your A/C blasting the whole time, but when you shut the car off the temperature rises fast. According to weather.com If the temperature outside is 32C, after about 10 minutes the inside of your car will be 42C and after 20 minutes it will be about 50C and so on. A child's body cannot regulate that kind of heat. A few minutes in the car can cause serious damage to your child's health (shock, stroke, etc) and it can even cause them to die.

The proven risk of death or serious brain injury to your child in a matter of minutes should be more than enough reason not to leave your child in the car, but in case you need more convincing of how stupid it is to do so think about it from the eyes of the Children's Aid Society. The CAS doesn't have clear guidelines on when it's okay to leave a child alone, but it does use 10 years old as a guideline paired with the parental knowledge of their own child's readiness. They still point out that a parent is responsible for providing adequate care arrangements until the child is 16. So we should be able to agree that if you shouldn't leave your young children alone at home until (let's say 10 years old) then you shouldn't leave your 9 month old, 2 year old or 4 year old alone in the car either. No matter the weather. No matter the location. No matter the reason. They are too young. It's neglectful for a parent to do so. And neglect is a form of child abuse.

"But my parents did it to us and we didn't die"

Congratulations! You survived! But many did die. You just weren't aware of it and because of it many things have changed since you were a kid. For instance, we now use seat belts, we put our children in car seats, we don't ride in the back of trucks, we don't use lead paint, and we don't leave young children home alone.

So stop making excuses for when its okay to leave your child alone in the car. Stop trying to reason that it's only a few minutes and they'll be fine. Stop being a lazy parent with no control over your kids. Remember that you are the parent not your child. You know best, not them.


1. I think it's a sad world when we have to suggest that you leave your purse or cell phone beside your child's car seat in order to remember you have a child, but since that's the advice from the police then I'll pass it on here: do what you have to do to be the best parent you can be. If you think this habit will help you remember that you have children, then do it.

2. Lock your car when parked so other children playing won't open your door and lock themselves inside your car.

3. If you see a child left alone in a car call 911 and get the child out of the car.


It's in the Cards

Some people think that cards are a pointless part of a gift. That they just end up in the garbage without a second thought. But I have always viewed greeting cards in a different light. I love them, I cherish them, and I have kept every single one I've ever received since I was 8 years old, every single one my husband received since we've been together, and every single one of my children's since the day they were born.

That is a lot of cards.

But, we are getting ready to move and I had to clear some of these collections out. Before I could even think of parting with any of them I had to read them ALL again and in doing so I discovered a few things that I wanted to share with you.

1. We have received cards for everything. Every possible occasion you could think of, I have cards for it: birthday, Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day, baby shower, new baby, christening, thinking of you, wedding, new home, Easter, get well soon, sympathy, and so many others including one given to me when I sliced my finger on a can of baby formula.

2. The hand written messages from so many people made me realize that I'm loved, I'm liked, I'm appreciated, and I'm thought of. Reading these messages really lifted my spirits and were probably even more meaningful read years later than they were at the time I received them. I think it's sad that most people today do not take the time to hand write a message to anyone.

3. I was reminded of different chapters in my life from the barely understandable teenage lingo we used to use, to the many parents and co-workers who appreciated my work as an Early Childhood Educator and as a party entertainer, and the love expressed to me by my family, husband and children.

4. I enjoyed looking back on the cards from my children because it shows the progression of their writing abilities from year to year.

5. Looking at cards from my childhood was like a blast from the past because some of them were very time specific such as one shaped like a cassette tape and another with a girl talking on a phone with a spiral cord. Also seeing the names of friends I haven't seen in over 20 years brought back a lot of childhood memories.

6. It was interesting to see how many friends had given me a card over the years. There were so many, but only a few friends were around long enough to give me many, many cards.

7. My grandmother gave me the exact same card on two separate years that said "To My Grandmother" (I'm sure she meant grand daughter)

8. My other grandmother passed away in 1998. It was so nice to see my name in her handwriting again. (These ones did not make it to the garbage pile)

9. A friend wrote inside my son's first birthday card that he would never see the card, but I proved her wrong because he did see it. (Albeit 8 years later).

10. I found a Rexall gift card from 2003, a Shoppers Drug Mart gift card from 2005, an Old Navy gift card from 2006, and a cheque from 2007.

I ended up keeping quite a few cards because I might like to read those messages again some day. I will take many to work for the daycare children to reuse and the rest did make it to the garbage. It was a difficult thing for me to do but it was time to declutter my greeting card hoarding.

The moral of this post is to prove that greeting cards do have a purpose, some times far greater than even the gift itself. I don't remember what gifts accompanied any of the cards I received (except for the baby shower cards as someone wrote them down inside)but I do remember the kind words of each person's personal message to me and my family. If you have ever given me a card please know that I have always cherished it.