The many faces of Facebook - is Facebook taking over our lives?

It's hard to imagine a world without facebook now. Since I joined in 2007, which is likely around the same time you joined if you're one of their 1.23+ billion active users, as of 2012. Although there are many opinions on facebook, I personally view it as more good than bad. Personally, I have reconnected with old friends, been able to stay in touch with far away friends and relatives all at once, and I have even made new friends through facebook. There's many people on there that I'm sure I would have lost touch with, but I'm so thankful for facebook that hasn't happened. I like people, and I like to stay connected. I'm sure you have experienced similar things as well. I am one of those ultimate optimists, so I choose to see the good in it more than the bad. Through my 7 years on facebook, I have noticed there's certainly some stereotypes on there. Just for fun, I thought I would compile a list. I'm sure you can relate.

facebook

#1 THE VACATIONER:

I'm sure you have a friend or two on facebook that always seems to be on vacation - Thailand last month, New York this week, already posting about their Mexico trip that is coming up while you're still getting instagram shots in your feed of their yellow cabs and views of central park in NYC along with their check-ins on Broadway. For me, it's fun to see. I love travel and I like to see where people go, but I can't help but wonder just how this is even possible?! I mean, travel is an expensive hobby! Do you make an insane amount of money? Do you even have a home to call your own? It's certainly a cool lifestyle. Maybe one day... I'm actually kind of inspired by the vacationer.

#2 THE CONTEST JUNKIE:

You know those contests on facebook where if you share it, you increase your chances of winning? Yeah, I've entered some of those myself (nope, never won) and I have had from time to time, some friends on facebook who seem to do this for a living! Seriously, they share contest after contest. The cool thing? Some of them actually win decent prizes. One of my friends won an all expense paid trip to Toronto (From Vancouver) for fashion week, complete with a MasterCard loaded with $1000 of spending money and she got to bring a friend and they got to stay at the Ritz! The same friend, by the way, also won a $500 London Drugs gift card. Maybe it is worthwhile? But, where do these contest junkies find the time?! That's what I'd like to know. 

#3 THE SELFIE ADDICT:

We all know this one and we all get it. You're beautiful! You're proud to be beautiful and you're ready to show the world, or at least 300 or 1000, or something like that, of your closest friends. I also kind of like this. It makes me think of new hairstyles, outfits, makeup trends without having to flip through a magazine, but I'm just curious as to why? Is it to see how many likes you get? Is it to reassure your peeps that you haven't seen in awhile that you're still beautiful? Whatever the reason, whatever makes you smile, do it! Happy people are the most beautiful kind, so if it makes you happy, you will surely stay beautiful! 

#4 THE NEWS ANNOUNCER: 

You know the one, we all have at least one - that friend on facebook that updates their status with the latest news. It's almost as though they thought that you and all of their other friends never watch the news, read the newspaper, listen radio, or read the news online like they did! They will share the breaking news posts from CNN or other sources and even go as far as answering questions about it, as if it were their job! They will be the first to post every major earthquake and its tsunami warnings, election results, celebrity deaths, or the latest development on a certain missing airplane. It's almost like their dream job was to be a news announcer but they didn't know it until facebook came along and they naturally took the job without any compensation! In a way it's good, because I'm always up on the latest news because of it! 

#5 THE SPORTS ANNOUNCER AND THE WEATHER REPORTER

This is kind of like the news announcer, and I've even known some friends who have all 3 roles! They will feel the need to update you about any sports or weather related updates as well. Or, maybe you have a friend on facebook that just focuses on one. I know I have a few, where each status update revolves around weather or sports. I even get to see play by plays of every football, baseball, and hockey game in my feed - lucky me! I don't even have to watch the sports! Also, it's great to hear the weather report because I totally forgot I had an app for that! Okay, now I'm being cheeky. Truly, weather reports and sports announcements are a tad annoying in my opinion. We can all figure out what we want to know. Honestly, if we really cared we would be watching the game ourselves! We have smart phones, computers, TV's, radios and access to newspapers too in case you didn't realize, sports announcers and weather reporters. 

#6 THE 'POOR ME'

Truly, I don't understand why some people feel the need to tell everyone their problems - be it relationship issues, the symptoms of their latest cold or flu, or trouble with their boss. By becoming your friend on facebook (and I think I speak for the majority) we didn't subscribe to 'your issues'. There are certain people who tend to post nothing but negativity, as if wishing for sympathy. Now, I don't want to sound heartless, oh negative friends. You know I am more than open to hearing about your troubles one to one in person, on the phone or even by text. I'm there for my friends, but with your few hundred friends on facebook, there's no need to share all this negativity with all of them. I have even hidden people from my feed because of it. I'm a firm believer that the more you focus on that negativity, the more of it you will attract. If this describes you, try to genuinely keep your life, your feelings and even your facebook posts positive for one month and see what happens. Focus on the positives not the negatives, and you will attract more positive. I promise.

#7 THE GAMER

I get it, people love games on facebook. Perhaps it helps calm them after a stressful day, gives their mind a rest from other distractions, or maybe it gives them a sense of accomplishment. For some, it's therapy, and honestly I can think of far worse forms of 'therapy' than computer games, so I'm okay with it, but it's not for me. It's not how I choose to spend my time, mainly because I'm sure I would get sucked in to spending too much time on it, therefore I choose to avoid it. Now, I don't mind an occasional game request on facebook. Whatever, I just ignore that, but when the same person sends me (I have several) game requests all the time, it kind of gets annoying. Ignore means I'm not interested. It's not like after the 127th time I will be like 'okay, now I'm going to start playing farmville or candycrush', or whatever. NOT happening. NOPE, so if you're reading this, gamer friend, you're wasting your precious game time with me. Okay?

#8 THE BRAG POSTER

You know the person that is not on facebook very often? Or, well maybe they are on there all the time, but they don't have much to say UNTIL there's some big news, like check out my new car, or guess who just got a big bonus at work? This guy! (imagine a photo of said guy, thumbs pointing to him with ear to ear grin), or when a vacation is booked? Yeah, those people. I mean, aren't we on facebook to interact with friends and family (besides read about news, weather, sports, look at vacation photos and selfies, etc), keep in touch with people we care about and enjoy it? That's what I'm on there for. I'm genuinely interested in seeing what my friends are doing day to day, and I like sharing my life with those same friends that I don't get to see on a daily basis. What annoys me is those people who have nothing to say, until there's something to brag about. To me it looks like they don't care about anyone else.

#9 THE KID / PET INSTAGRAMMER

I'll be the first to admit it, I'm one of these types. I love my kids and dog and they're just so cute and awesome! I don't care who thinks I'm a crazy dog person, because I am. I know there's at least a few other pet weirdo's out there who enjoy it my pet photos, so I keep posting it from time to time. I also post pictures of my kids in the same manner. Until you have a pet or a kid, you just may not understand. I will never have my kids photos public for the world to see, and you will not see them whilst in the hospital, in the bath tub or shown in any way that might embarrass them. Some things are meant to be private, and now that they are getting older I even ask them if they mind if I share it before I post. 

#10 THE BUSINESS SELF PROMOTER

There's always that guy or girl that seems to have no life other than their business. The funny thing is, and perhaps these people don't realize it, there's something called a business page for that! Kidding, we know they know that, because they sync all their business tweets, instagram posts and page posts with their personal page. Now, I have a business page, and I'm pretty sure all my friends on facebook are well aware of that. I'm also pretty sure that if they were interested in learning about my business, they would like my page. If not, that's okay! I don't feel compelled to share all my business marketing on my personal page, but I do have a life aside from my business that I share with my friends. I also don't share all my business posts, however, if you're a friend of mine you might see a few shares a year just as a little reminder, but generally it's only if we have big news such as a new product launch or if I'm promoting something outside of my own business, like a friends business or a charity that I think is awesome. 

#11 THE SILENT CREEPER

Do you have any friends like this? These are the ones who are on facebook, but seem to never really interact on it? They have a profile picture that never changes, are never tagged in photos, never post any photos and never update their status? They don't post happy birthday's to others on facebook and never write on any walls that you can see, nor do they comment on any posts. You don't bother to send them any invites through facebook, because you assume they are never on there. That's fine, not everyone likes it or has the time for it. BUT, then when you see them in person and they seem to know everything you have posted - the photos, the updates, the public conversations! Then you realize they are on there all the time! Yes, I have some of those on facebook. You too? 

#12 THE FOODIE

This person likes to photograph their food, talk about their food, share recipes and update their status's about what they are cooking for supper. I have been known to do this myself and the reason being, sometimes I make something so damn good I just want to share it! Then I share the recipe if people ask after seeing the photo. I really don't see anything wrong with it, however I realize how annoying it can be, so I don't do it all the time, only if it's something unreal that I think my friends would like to know about. 

#13 THE GYM RAT

Some people, I'm sure you know of one or two at least, feel the need to tell their facebook friends when they go to the gym, sometimes with a little selfie post or treadmill screen shot along with before and afters, stats, and a checkin at the local gym. There's nothing wrong with this, in fact I've done some of it before myself! I think the psychology behind it has a lot to do with accountability. I think the gym rat poster thinks 'If all my friends know I'm going, they will expect this of me, and I will have to keep going!' Cool, great, awesome - facebook is changing the world in more ways than we realize. 

There's many more facebook stereotypes, and I'm sure I've missed a few. These are just the most prominent as far as I see in my feed. Comment below and let us know:

A) which facebook stereotype(s) best describe you? (mine is #1 and #9)

B) which facebook stereotype(s) do you find most annoying and why? (for me, it's #5 and #7 because I feel it's pointless) 

C) what facebook stereotypes have I missed from this post? 

Why we Run for Water - what WE get out of it

This year we will be running in our third Run for Water in Abbotsford BC, on May 25th, 2014. The Run for Water is a great event for the whole family. My Son has ran with us the past two years and my Daughter ran last year for the first time as well! Now, you may be wondering what the Run for Water is really all about? Do you get a nice big bottle of water at the end? Are there all kinds of drink stations during your running course where volunteers may be handing you little cups of H2O to replenish your dry palate? Or, are you actually running IN water, literally?! Well, I suppose all can be true, especially last year where all 3 applied as we ran in pouring rain, but no, what Run for Water really means, is we run to provide clean drinking water for people in Ethiopia. As you may know, Ethiopia is among the poorest countries in the world, which has also been prone to droughts for the past two decades, making clean drinking water extremely scarce. As a result, the lack of clean water has been a major contributing factor to food shortages and famines, as well as health complications, hygiene related health issues, and spreading of diseases in Ethiopia.

There are many reasons we choose to participate in the Run for Water as a family:

Do Good = Feel Good

It's a simple and proven fact - doing something good will make you feel good. On a regular basis, we talk to our kids about how fortunate we are to have luxuries like running water and how thankful we are to be able to shower, clean our bodies, wash our dishes and clothes, swim in our pool, flush our toilets, and DRINK knowing it's safe to do so! The sad thing is, not everyone is so fortunate. It's really just a stroke of luck that we were born into this part of the world. Since we are among the lucky ones, it's only fair that we do our part to help those less fortunate. Every year after the Run for Water, we feel even more gratitude as we discuss with our kids the changes we are helping to make.

Tradition / Memories

We are big on tradition at our house. There's certain things we do as a family that we know our kids will cherish as childhood memories and hopefully pass down as traditions in their own families one day. The Run for Water is one of them. It's an annual tradition now, and we wouldn't miss it for the world. We purposely book our Spring vacation around it and we start to get excited about it a few months before. I would say it's one of our favourite family traditions and I'm sure a memory they will have for life.

Some of our Run for Water memories from 2012 and 2013:

Run For Water 2012    Run For Water 2013

Setting an Example

I have always been a strong believer that kids will learn far more from watching what you do, than from hearing what you say. I have tested this theory and you can too. Next time you are in a public bathroom, sneakily start to leave after hitting the bathroom stall without washing your hands. Gross I know, but this is just a test. If your child is like mine was at a young age, he or she will also start to leave without washing his or her hands. Then of course go back and wash up, explaining the test! See, kids are watching your every move to figure out right from wrong, making it ever so important to set a good example. Being active, doing good, getting involved in community, setting goals - all things we associate with Run for Water, we feel, are good examples for our kids.

Experience Brings Confidence

For our first ever Run for Water, we were all nervous. The year was 2012, and just the 3 of us ran the 5K: Kyler, then 10 years old, myself (Nicole), and my Hubby (Ron). We didn't know what to expect, as it was our first ever chip timed run. Would we be able to do it? Would we get trampled on? Would we be embarrassingly out of shape compared to everyone else? All of these feelings of anxiety were pointless. It turned out to be really fun and we knew this was the beginning of something new for us to do as a family. Since then Kyler and I have run a few 10K's and personally I just run for fun and to get to the finish line. Knowing I can do it is enough for me but Kyler, on the other hand, is more of the competitive type, who constantly tries to increase speed to decrease his time. Last year he ran the 10K Run for Water in just 54 minutes - something to be proud of at just 11 years old! I had requested that they add a new age category because he was in the age 19 and under category and I see this year they did! Now he can compete in the 13 and under age group for the 10K race - exciting! Last year, Malia (9) joined us, and since she is more of an artist than an athlete, I was particularly impressed to see her run most of the race! She completed in 39 minutes and had the confidence to join the school cross country team after her run!

Reason to be Active

If you have trouble staying active and need a motivator, I highly suggest you sign up for a race, even a small one like a 5K fun run. There's something about knowing there's a scheduled race day that is paid for in your future to get your butt off the couch and onto the treadmill or pavement. I used to struggle with consistently hitting the gym or sticking to an exercise routine, but somehow it finally happened! Now exercise is something I look forward to and do on a regular basis. When I think about what triggered that change for me, I have to say at least a part of it must have been due to our first official run, the Run for Water. 

Small Rewards

Who doesn't like a little something out of a job well done? Our kids proudly wear their Run for Water shirts that were included in their past run race kits along with other little goodies and coupons, and they proudly display their medals in their rooms that are handed out to each participant at the finish line. Also, once we cross the finish line, we are congratulated with all kinds of treats besides water - bananas, fruit, bagels with peanut butter, granola bars, ice cream, and coffee and more from various sponsor tents. Some tents even have kids activities such as face painting, a climbing wall and bouncy castle, for example. It's a rewarding and fun day out for the family. There are also prizes for top runners in each category for the more elite runners! 

The Volunteers

While we run, there's countless volunteers (about 400) cheering us on, holding up signs of motivation, chanting, playing music, cheerleeding, and handing out those little cups of ice cold water. They tell us how much further we have to go and how awesome we are. Who doesn't like being told they are awesome?! This is what makes the race FUN! This is what keeps us running and looking forward to seeing what is around the corner until our feet cross the finish line.

Bragging Rights

With the power of social media driving so much of how we learn about upcoming events these days, you bet we shamelessly brag about our run on facebook, instagram, twitter and now my blog! Why not?! It's only maybe going to encourage others to do the same! My friends can pretty much count on it that I will promote the Run for Water before we even register, when we register, leading up to the race day, during and after the day of the event. Why? I'm proud that we do it, sure, but even more so because I hope to encourage and inspire other individuals, teams and families to do it as well! More runners = more $ for clean water for Ethiopia! Worth the brag post, in my opinion.

Here's some more Run for Water details and facts that you might find interesting: 

  • The marathon option is a Boston Marathon qualifier if you're more of an elite runner
  • Race options include a 5K fun run, 10K, half marathon, marathon and ultra marathon (56K!)
  • Race fees are listed here and they will increases as we get closer to the event date
  • Your chip timed race results will be posted on the Run for Water website to share with your friends!
  • The 5K is a fun run, and yes you are welcome to walk it if you prefer!
  • Run for Water is also in Calgary!
  • Last year together the Run for Water raised $358,000 for clean water in the Abbotsford race and $125,000 in the Calgary race!
  • $35 gives a person enough clean water for life!!! If this isn't reason enough to run or get involved, I don't know what is.

Click here to REGISTER NOW >

Lastly, here's a video that captures the 2013 Run - I'm particularly impressed with the enthusiasm of everyone from volunteers to families and individuals on such a rainy day! Check it out, and look at my own personal superstar Kyler starting his 10K race at the :30 mark and being featured running from :46 - :51 - proud Mom moment here! http://vimeo.com/67101575

 

 

Envision Financial Run for Water 2013 Race Day Video from Run for Water on Vimeo.

3 small changes for 2014 that have changed our lives

For 2014, Ron and I wanted to make a few time saving changes to make our lives even more enjoyable, and by this I mean simply cutting out a few things we do not like doing and replace that time with something we do enjoy. We also needed to free up some time, since our kids are at the ages where they are very demanding of our time. Yes, I hate to break it to you parents of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, but the tween years aren't much less demanding of your time. We currently have a 7 day a week extracurricular schedule going on between two kids - Monday consists of soccer practice, Tuesday is volleyball practice, Wednesday is a different soccer practice, Thursday is volleyball games and then soccer practice, Friday is swimming lessons, Saturday is also swimming lessons and a soccer game, Sunday is goal keeping clinic and on top of that it's soccer try-out season for next year, with tournaments on the horizon, plus there's always various kids school functions not mentioned, birthday parties, homework, a little time for a social life and oh, we run a business too! I'm sure if you have kids in this age group you can relate and probably have a family chaos schedule that is just as demanding or one that is even more-so demanding than ours. Thankfully we are lucky enough to run our business from home, so we don't have a commute - a change we made last year, which drastically improved our lives! There's really not much time left at the end of day for much else, and especially not much time for tasks in which we do not enjoy - yes grocery shopping and house cleaning, I'm directing that at you! Here's what we did:

Change #1 - we started grocery shopping online! 

Thanks to my dear friend Roo, who happens to be the founder of the Oops! Sheet / Oops! Undies and Roo Rain Gear (awesome rain gear made from recycled bottles!), we finally placed our first order at spud.com. It was super easy, fun and wow, what a time saver! We look forward to placing our weekly orders. We care a lot about the health of our family and buying organic, GMO free and local are 3 of our top priorities. Spud makes this very easy and there's even perks! For our first order, we were given a referral code from Roo (thanks again Roo!) for $20 off! Now, we have our own referral code that we get to share, and guess what?! Just from a share on my personal facebook, we have had the pleasure of getting over $200 in free organic groceries because for each person we refer, we get $20 towards another order. Spud delivers right to our door, every Thursday (delivery days vary depending on location) and there's no hidden fees or membership cost / contract or anything sneaky like that. Even the shipping is free if you spend $70, otherwise I think it's only $3.50, which is likely less than what you're spending on gas unless you walk to your grocery store. The time saved from driving to and from / shopping in store / standing in line / loading and unloading groceries, plus gas $ saved has made this change very much worthwhile for us. Spud.com currently delivers to Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Victoria, Nanaimo, Calgary, Seattle, San Francisco and Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County. If you or someone you know happens to reside in one of these areas and wish to save time as well and grocery shop online, please use our referral code:

spud.com coupon code for $20 off your first order: GARRON

SPUD DEAL

^ Plus they have this awesome deal for your first order, which of course we took full advantage of, where you get $40 of organic produce for only $20. We only ask ourselves why we didn't do it sooner?! Not having to worry about hitting the grocery store on such a regular basis has been a wonderful thing and hopefully you will get to try it out as well and see why we love it so much! 

Change #2 - we hired a house cleaner

After putting it off for quite some time, shortly after the new year started we hired a wonderful lady, referred by another dear friend, Wendy of Wake Up SUP / Wendy Weymann Yoga (no, not all our friends have such awesome businesses and multiple websites, but yes, lots do!). We look forward to every Wednesday, where we get to come home to the scent of a clean house. It is absolutely a dream. We had so little time for cleaning, that we were really just touching the surface when it came to cleaning. Cleaning the hidden areas like under the bed or on top of our pendant lamps was not just overlooked, there wasn't time for it. Not only that, my stovetop, which I had thought for years had the finish permanently burnt off, is just like new again! Now, not having to worry about giving our house that big weekly clean, and leaving it for someone who does an amazing job focusing on just that once a week has improved our lives in so many ways - no more dreading cleaning after a long day, no more feeling bad about the dust our kids may be breathing in while they are sleeping, just a clean fresh home to live in. 

Change #3 - we got a family pass at our local leisure centre

Admittedly, we actually do love our busy lives. We are known by our friends as a go-go-go family and whenever we have some free time, that's when we go even more - hiking, paddle boarding, golfing, weekend getaways or family vacations are a few things we have been known to do in our spare time. We like to live life to the fullest and there's a small part of us that misses that commute. Weird I know, but having a home based business can make you feel a little like a hermit if you let it. We feel lucky to live on the West Coast where we have an abundance of outdoor activities right in our own backyard, but since since this area is also known as 'the Wet Coast' - yes, it rains a lot here, we find great joy in getting out at our local rec centre, when the weather doesn't seem too inviting. Our local facility has a few rinks, racquet courts, pools, hot tub, waterslide, gym, and my personal favourite, the sauna, plus all kinds of great classes - yoga, TRX, and spinning to name a few. We socialize, exercies, relax and heal there. It's a place where my kids have learned to swim and skate and have participated in all kinds of programs from babysitting courses to obstacle courses. For just $944.20 / year it's pretty good value to have unlimited access to such a great facility and all the amenities for our family of 4. Of course they offer great drop-in rates too. If you're also in Mission, or visiting the area, check out this website for more information. We often go twice a day during the winter months - to workout in the morning, and swim / relax in the evening when time permits.

Mission Leisure Centre

Anyways, that's just a few changes we've made in our lives since 2014 began. Hopefully we've inspired you to do something for yourself and your family to improve your life just a little bit!

Now, we'd love to know - what sort of family time saving / life improvement tips do you have to share? Comment and let us know!

Screen time is often encouraged at our house - here's why

Are iPods, iPads and other mobile devices good for kids? The short answer, in my humble opinion, is yes! I am a Mom to a 12 year old boy and 9 year old girl. My husband and I happen to pride ourselves as good parents and we are ay-okay with iPods and iPads among other tech devices in our house and around our kids. In fact I probably shouldn't admit this, but we own an embarrassing number of Apple devices for 5 people in our household (2 MacBook Pro's, 3 iPads, 3 iPod touch's, 5 iPhones, 1 iPod Nano and 2 iPod shuffle's...I don't think I'm missing any, but maybe...) and guess what?! Our kids are empathetic, smart, polite, athletic, social and artistic! I could go on with how amazing our kids are, but those are the first 6 words to jump to mind to describe the two of them. I also happen to know many other families that have just as many devices or more per household member and guess what - their kids are on track to be excellent adult members of society one day as well!

I've been observing a lot of negativity regarding this and people who believe quite the contrary, which actually prompted this post. Here's 2 examples:

1 - I was recently having a conversation with a few strangers in the sauna, which I tend to do on a fairly frequent basis. One guy said to another, quite matter of factly and as a general statement to all parents of children today: 'Kids these days, they shouldn't use iPods. It's ruining them and their parents just don't care!' and the other seemingly fully agreed. I chirped in and said something along the lines of 'Well it's not all bad. There's plenty of good in it. It's all about parental control and setting limitations.' which of course generated a lengthier discussion. I will elaborate on the parental control part later in the blog post. 

2 - I overheard one Mom say to another as one child was about to show her child something on an iPad 'No, sorry, but we will not allow our children to interact with iPads'. I kept quiet and respected her parenting decision as I really didn't know this person, but I couldn't help but wonder for just a second if allowing my children to use iPads made me a bad parent. 

As you might know, I designed a bib made out of leather, the first of its kind, so needless to say I'm not generally one to necessarily embrace 'going with the flow'. Often I like to go a bit against the grain and maybe even break a few rules, however technology is the future, and there is no stopping it. You might as well embrace it, let your children know it and even utilize it and benefit from it - if not, they will be the minority. Think of people today who do not know how to read - children of the future who do not know technology, in a way, will be like people of today who can not read. Society will view them as unintelligent, uneducated and lower class. It's a skill, not a survival skill necessarily, but a pretty useful skill when the world is utilizing it everywhere you look. Obviously it is something that can be learned as an adult. Many older generations have done this, and in fact, I was absolutely floored by one particular eighty-something year old woman in our booth this past show season who was so swift with her iPhone that I'm sure she could have taught me a few tricks, but I do believe childhood is still the best time to learn and embrace it, just like it's the best time to learn a new language or learn to read.

Now I'm not a doctor, psychologist or a specialist in early childhood education. I'm just a Mom and an entrepreneur and I can honestly say I have struggled from time to time as to whether or not let my kids embrace technology as much as we have let them, but here's a few specific examples of moments that helped me to make the choice to do so:

chores in my house have become fun: Malia's choresKyler's choresAllowance & Chores Bot App

Yes, it's possible. Our kids have chores around the house that must be completed before they play with their friends or engage in any kind of fun. Thanks to the Allowance & Chores Bot app that we have installed on our phones, where we control the list of chores, and their iPods is where they check off their chores when done, chores are now a FUN GAME! Seriously, they used to get in the house after school, drop their bags, coats, shoes and lunches right there in the foyer and go along their merry way, leaving us frustrated and calling them back, eye rolling and annoyed, to pick up their stuff. Then we would tell them what else needed to be done - clean rooms, pick up dog poop, empty the garbage - whatever daily chores before they could go play, generating more eye rolling of course. Now, each day on their app they get to see what needs to be done. No questions, and they can actually check it off and feel they have accomplished something. They also know we will follow up. Children do love structure whether they think so or not, and they love to check off a good to do list just as much as you and I. If they don't do a chore, or don't do it well, we deduct .25 from their allowance, so they can see their weekly allowance progress right on their iPods! Now I know allowances are a whole other controversial parenting topic and maybe a blog post for another day, but we do give our kids a weekly allowance, yes. 

our Son has gained an interest in science:

Now, back when I was on the fence about all this technology in the house, my Son who can most often be seen playing street hockey, golf, soccer, tennis, volleyball, running, swimming or paddle boarding - yes, the sporty one, was laying down lazily for a period of time on his bed, iPod in hand, eyes glued to screen. I was concerned, thinking this would be the future of my current healthy and active kid. Just as I was about to say 'Kyler, get off that iPod!' he beat me to it and said 'Whooa, look Mom, you have to see this! I just watched this awesome YouTube video of baby leatherback turtles hatching!' That was kind of a moment for me to be honest. I sat down, watched the video with him and thought huh, he just learned some stuff here that he couldn't learn playing street hockey. He showed me a few more 'cool science' videos he recently watched. When I was a kid, I watched TV when I came home, if I wasn't playing outside. Now the iPod has almost replaced TV, at least for a good portion of the down time, but the good news is kids can be watching good content, and most of all learning! Here's Kyler enjoying a little rare screen time on a sunny day at our house. Notice the lovely Yapes Paints art work on the wall.

Screen Time

my daughter has learned some crafting skills: 

We are a pretty structured family. Once their chores are done, for about 90 minutes when our children come home from school, they have their free time to play and have fun before we get home from the studio. Then we come home and start cooking supper, and then it's on to the homework and extracurricular activities such as soccer or swimming lessons most nights before winding down for bed. Our kids are encouraged to play outside during this 90 minute period, unless the weather is absolutely miserable. They most often use this time to go outdoors and socialize and play with their neighbourhood friends. One rainy afternoon, I was feeling a little guilty when I got home to start cooking, as I hadn't heard any 'I'm bored' or 'Can I play with my friends?' phone calls, so I figured it was either an iPod or TV that likely entertained my daughter for the past 90 minutes. When I got home, Malia came running over to me with a pin wheel spinning in the air as she excitedly skipped over to me and exclaimed in practically one breath, 'Look Mom, I made this! I googled cool crafts for kids on the iPad and I found a video on how to make it, so I made it all by myself!'. Since then she has made paper airplanes, her own lip balm, and all kinds of fun things. I thought again at that moment, okay, maybe I'm a little okay with this tech thing now and then. What would I have done during that miserable day when I was a kid? Honestly, I probably would have watched TV. iPod wins again! It wasn't too long after that when she, along with every other child / pre-teen girl in the area became instant rainbow loom crafters. My daughter has amazed me with her new bracelet making craft. She has taught herself how to make various bracelets, among other things with her rainbow loom, all thanks to DIY videos she found on her ipod. The great thing is she's using her mind, she's creating something all her own, and she's enjoying it! Here's some of Malia's latest rainbow loom creations:

Malia's rainbow looms

Both kids ace their weekly spelling tests on a regular basis:

My kids have weekly spelling tests at school. In the past, spelling was a bit of a boring task for everyone, parents included. Don't get me wrong, we didn't mind doing it with them, but let's face it, spelling tests are a bit of a yawner. I would find myself giving spelling tests while emptying the dishwasher or preparing dinner just to make sure I didn't get sleepy. Both kids would typically moan and groan about spelling tests and then when they would get 3 or 4 out of 20 wrong and have to practice them some more, that was when the grumbling would really get bad, only to re-test and get maybe one more right. The point is, it wasn't fun for them, so they were not seeing great results. Let me tell you about a secret that made this part of the day something to look forward to, AND gave my kids spelling confidence - it's called Spelling City. It's a website where they enter their weekly spelling words online, take tests, practice and learn the words in more of a game like format. The program will even give sentences so they are learning the meaning of words that sound the same but have different meaning (there, their, they're for example). We still do regular old spelling tests, typically on Thursdays before their real test on Friday, but by then it's fun because they know it! They score 19 or 20/20 most weeks too! Of course, there are an endless amount of learning websites. We love the spelling one, and there's some great math ones too, but we love good old handmade flashcards in our house for math.

FaceTime. How did we travel before without it?! 

As you may know, we travel a lot during certain times of the year. There's something about seeing the faces of your children when away that makes them feel so much closer. Being able to show them our hotel view of the CN tower when in Toronto, or show them our latest booth display, and air kiss them goodnight is just a little sweeter than explaining or smooching over the phone. I don't believe our kids have much anxiety about us traveling. Sure they miss us, and we miss them terribly, but having an awesome Grandma take care of them while we are away and the little things like FaceTime really do make it a whole lot easier.

Honestly, there's many more reasons I am okay with screen time for my kids. The aforementioned is just a few of my favourite reasons.

BUT, before you hand over all devices to kids freely and frequently, please take note: 

1 - There is a time limit per day. We say up to 2 hours of screen time, but that also includes spelling or any other homework related stuff, TV or video games. This is just what works for us. You may have different guidelines. We are also a little more flexible on weekends or holidays.

2 - No iPods are aloud in bed! We are all for reading either a paper or e-book in bed for awhile before lights out, but no iPod! We may bend the rules on a special occasion like a Birthday or when on a family vacation, but that's it. The rest of the time this is strict! 

3 - Parents need to set restrictions on the devices. You really don't want your child finding something that is not age appropriate. If you don't know how to set the parental controls on your devices, find out.

4 - Monitor what they see online. Check the history now and then and let them know that because they are kids, you need to make sure what they are doing online is safe. They will understand and it's just another way to show you care about them. 

5 - If your child is aloud social media make sure they know what is okay to post and please turn privacy settings ON and location settings OFF. Also, parents should be the ones to approve any friend or follower requests. I can't stress this enough! I'm absolutely shocked at how many tweens and teens have open instagram accounts that can show complete strangers what their life is all about and where they live. It's shocking actually.

6 - Another tip - get your own instagram account if you haven't already, and follow your kids and their friends. They will think you're super cool and you will get to know who your kids are hanging around with. So far, by the way, we like what we see.

If you have any other suggestions or comments on this topic, please post a comment - I would love to hear! 

8 ways to donate to Ron's Mo Space for Movember

I know I already blogged about this whole Movember thing, but so much has happened since then. Ron's Mo Space has gone platinum (raised over $1000), we have launched our moustache items online, and a few companies have even started their own fundraising just for Ron's Mo Space! We feel pretty pumped about this. We love seeing the surprise of who donates and we check the app probably hourly, as seeing the funds grow is extremely rewarding, knowing the funds and Ron's Mo are both growing together for a good cause. As the title of this post says, there's 8 ways to donate to Ron's Mo Space as of this moment, and who knows, maybe it will grow even more! 

Ron's Mo Space

DONATION METHOD #1

Donate directly through Ron's Mo Space. You can do this online and pay by credit card or PayPal. You will get a donation receipt instantly and you can choose to donate any amount that suits you. On that note, we want you to know that we are completely thrilled with donations of $5 or $500, or anything in between or more - it doesn't matter to us, as it all helps, and we are thankful for each and every dollar! Don't feel ashamed if you think your donation is too small. No donation is too small! We all have different budgets at different times in our lives. :)

Click here to donate directly to Ron's Mo Space on behalf of yourself or as a business. If you happen to be a business that we know or that we deal with, we will do our best to thank you through our social media via any of the social media outlets we use most including facebook, twitter and instagram.

DONATION METHOD #2

Purchase any of our moustache items designed for Movember at mallybibs.com. We tally up the # of items sold through our website each week and we donate that number to Ron's Mo Space every Friday on behalf of Mally Designs. Here's our full moustache selection with direct links for ease of shopping: 

SOOTHER CLIPS:

moustache soother clipmoustache soother clip

LEATHER BIBS:

CHANGE PURSES:

LUGGAGE TAGS:

PASSPORT HOLDERS:


BOOKMARKS:


ART CARDS:

 

DONATION METHOD #3

Like method #2, we have the same deal going on over at our etsy shop where $1 from each moustache item sold goes to Ron's Mo Space, but with a little bit extra to choose from. At our Etsy Shop, we also have Moustache Sticks and Gift Sets. If a gift set has 8 moustache items in it, that's $8 tallied up and donated to Movember! 

GIFT SETS:

 

DONATION METHOD #4

Shop at westcoastbaby.com for the month of November. Amanda of Westcoast Baby has generously offered to donate 10% of their online sales from the month of November to Ron's Mo Space! Westcoast Baby is known for designing and making adorable baby and newborn clothing in delicious fabrics, such as super soft bamboo. My personal favorite is their nesting kit as it's the perfect newborn gift!

SHOP ONLINE at WESTCOAST BABY >

 DONATION METHOD #5

If you are in the area, sign up for one of two (or both) special Movember themed yoga classes taught by Laura and Wendy at Iron Lotus Yoga in Mission, BC on November 16th and 17th. They are sure to be lots of fun - you will even get to wear a moustache during the class. The drop in fee will be by donation and 100% will go to Ron's Mo Space! 

Iron Lotus Movember Event

DONATION METHOD #6

Just like shopping online, shop our booth at any of our retail shows and purchase any of our moustache items shown in method #2 while they last. Just like our online sales, $1 from every moustache item sold will be tallied up and donated to Ron's Mo Space. We have 3 shows remaining: Art Market at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary from November 14-17, Make It! at the Enjoy Centre In Edmonton from November 21-24 and at the One of a Kind Show at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto from November 18-December 8th.    

DONATION METHOD #7

Purchase one or more super silly / super fun leather moustache sticks at our booth. They are great for kids, adults or the whole family. Think about using it as a photo booth prop or as a party favor for your next moustache themed party, or a gift for one of your favourite Mo Bros! There's no price, they are all by donation and 100% will go to Ron's Mo Space. We suggest a minimum of $2 per moustache stick for the donation, but the price of our moustache sticks are totally up to you! 

DONATION METHOD #8

Donate for FREE tickets to the One of a Kind Show in Toronto! All you have to do is donate first to Ron's Mo Space and then let us know that you would like tickets to the One of a Kind Show in Toronto and we will leave your passes at the ticket pick up kiosk near the entrance with your name on them. To make sure we see your request for tickets, it is best to put the message right in your donation messgae, something like this: 'Way to grow your Mo Ron! Please leave two tickets for 'your name' at the ticket kiosk.' Tickets are $14 at the door, but like our moustache sticks, the free tickets will be by donation, and the donation amount is up to you. We suggest a minimum of $5 per ticket.

*Once we run out of free tickets we will update this blog post by crossing out this post and updating with a message to say this donation method is no longer available. If you have already donated for tickets prior to this blog post, we have your name noted and ticket(s) your tickets will be ready for you at the ticket pick up kiosk! :)

Ron becomes a Mo Bro for Movember - introducing his page and our line of Movember Moustache items and gift sets!

We love November Movember. Here's the three main reasons we we love this month:

  1. It's the one month of the year that we get to travel far and wide to various beautiful cities around the country to sell our hand crafted leather goods. This year you can find us at Studio Fair in Prince George, Art Market in Calgary, Make It! in Edmonton and the One of a Kind Show in Toronto, ALL in the month of November! 
  2. It's the month of the year that our online sales are consistently the highest each and every year. Since our products make great gifts for people of all ages and our gift services kind of rock, we always have a crazy busy month as Christmas and gift orders are rolling in like no other month! 
  3. It's MOVEMBER! In case you havn't heard, it's the month of the year, formerly known as November (not really, but kind of) where men grow their Mo (slang for moustache) in support of men's health! Ron, my awesome husband and business partner has officially become a Mo Bro and he is counting down the days until he doesn't have to shave anymore. I'm making sure to enjoy his smooth face in the meantime.

    You may be wondering - What is Movember exactly?

    Specifically, Movember is a charity that raises money for various types of Men's cancer including testicular cancer and prostate cancer, as well as men's mental health. Originating in Australia in 2004 with just 30 Mo Bro's in Melbourn, Movember has truly become a global movement that is changing the face of men's health with 1.1 million mo bros in 2012! So, how it works is Mo Bros as they call them and Mo Sistas create a Mo fundraising Page on Movember.com, either as an individual or a team to start fundraising! Now, anyone can choose to go ahead and donate to a Movember page. We really hope that any or our own family, friends, acquaintences, customers, and random stranges choose to donate to Ron's Movember page! It would actually really mean a lot to us. Or, if you want a little proud Movember Moustache keepsake of your own and know that you helped support Ron's page, you can also purchase one of our many exclusive Movember items now available on our etsy shop, and soon on our website! We have been working hard since August, stocking up on all things moustache - from our famous leather baby and toddler bibs known as Mally Bibs, to our our ever popular leather change purses, travel accessories, bookmarks, art cards and more! Honestly, there's something for everyone! Given that it's the gift giving time of year, we have even created some amazing Movember Moustache gift sets! Whether you're looking for a gift for now or later, here's some gift giving ideas that you might want to grab a Mally Designs Movember Moustache item for:

    • Father's Day Gift
    • New Baby Gift
    • Toddler Birthday GiftRon's Movember Mo Space
    • Chirstmas Gift
    • Hostess Gift
    • House Warming Gift
    • Congratulations Gift
    • Graduation Gift
    • Birthday Gift for Him
    • Birthday Gift for Her
    • Anniversary Gift 
    • Wedding Gift
    • Travel Gift
    • Kids Birthday Gift
    • Book Club Gift
    • New Job Gift
    • New Business Gift
    • Corporate Gift
    • Staff Gifts
    • Valentine's Gift
    • Mother's Day Gift
    • New Years Gift
    • Wedding Party Gifts
    • Bridesmaid Gift
    • Groomsman Gift
    • Thank You Gift
    • Just Because Gift
    • I Love You Gift

    Okay, you get the idea - there's endless gift ideas for these! I mean, imagine the look on Grandma's face when she opens a gift of a leather bookmark with a moustache on it. The great thing is if she doesn't get it, it gives you a chance to explain it to her and teach more people about the greatness of Movember. Then maybe next year G-ma herself might become a Mo Sista or G-pa a Mo Bro! I tell you, this Mo thing is contageous, and what a great thing that is! 

    Here's a sneak Peek of some of our Movember Moustache Leather Items available NOW on our Etsy shop and SOON on mallybibs.com!

    Movember Moustache Collage

    We have designed this exclusive Movember Moustache inspired line of leather goods in 4 gorgeous colors: bubblegum pink, lime green, bright blue and grey and they are available in ALL of our product categories. Now, you can start ordering these at any time and $1 from EVERY moustache item sold between now and the end of Movember will go to Ron's Movember fundraising! We will tally it up and add it to his funding page every Friday in November, and lastly on Saturday, November 30th. We are so excited, we hope you are excited, and we hope the mo bros behind Movember themselves are excited too.

    We will donate 20% of NEW design sales to Ruben's Shoes!! + why our new collection was 1 year overdue.

    PART 1: Ruben's Shoes - an organization we believe in:

    I want to start off by saying that giving back really is a feel good thing and it's something we have plans to do a lot of. If you haven't tried it, do. You will not regret it. After having a hugely successful month with 20% of sales for our 4 Royal Bib designs going to Children's Wish, we decided to run a similar charity offer around another organization that we believe in. This time, 20% of sales for ALL OF OUR NEW designs - bibs, change purses, card holders, etc. will go to

     Ruben's shoes. At Ruben's Shoes they are on a mission to spread love through shoes. They collect gently used shoes for kids and adults in less developed countries who don't have any. We have been lucky enough to get to know the founder, Kelly, a girl with a very big heart. When she went on a trip to the Dominican she met her sponser child, Ruben. She couldn't believe the conditions for some of the people who live there. The thing that stood out most for her, was the lack of shoes. In our part of the world, we are used to having at least a few pairs of shoes each, most often the latest styles and greatest brands and highest comfort. In less developed countries, a child is lucky to have a pair at all. On top of that, the conditions of the ground are not something that anyone would want to walk on with bare feet. I shall stop there and focus on the postive. Kelly and a few friends started collecting shoes, and now they are packing up and sending an amazing 10,000 PAIRS OF SHOES NEXT WEEK TO THE DOMINICAN! Imagine how amazing these children will feel when their shoes arrive?! What's also amazing is that not only did Kelly have the idea to do this, but she followed through with it. Her friends and even complete strangers have been amazingly supportive too, which is so great to see. I have watched her updates on facebook and on instagram and to see someone working this hard, devoting time to help people that she hasn't even met in another country is inspirational beyond words. She is amazing.

    On September 30th, at the end of their curent donation campaign, we will take 20% of sales collected from new design orders, and donate it all at once through the Ruben's Shoes fundrasing campaign online. The bonus is the one and only Michael Bublé, who was recently gifted Mally bibs at he and his lovely Wife Luisana's baby shower, will match all donations! You can also donate directly to the organization yourself if you wish to do so. 

    To learn more about Kelly and Ruben's Shoes, please take 5 minutes to watch this video of Kelly explaining how it all started. Your kids might enjoy it too. :)

     

    To be sure you're ordering something from us that is a Ruben's Shoes donation item, just look for anything with the word NEW in the product title and we will donate 20% of the sales of those items to Ruben's Shoes! It's really that easy, and we think it's a pretty good excuse to get yet another one of your favourite bibs or other Mally Designs items. It might even be a good enough excuse to do some early holiday shopping! :)

    PART 2: The story behind our new designs and their delayed launch:

    Since we started our business in 2005, we have launched new designs every year, around August / September. In early 2012 when we were getting set to plan our new collection, we had a great idea of running a design contest! This was exciting for us and our customers. Once we launched it we didn't know what to expect, and we were overwhelmed by the number of submissions. Over 150 hand drawn, computer generated and even hand crafted designs were sent to us as design contest entries. We were honoured that so many people took the time out of their busy lives to draw designs for Mally Bibs. Then came the task of choosing the winners - first of all we had to elimante any that would have copyright issues - olympic rings and an apple logo were among them. Then we had to remove any designs that we have already had, either currently or discontinued - a sheep, carrot and tennis racquets being examples. Then we took the really complex designs and opted those ones out - we can't do something that requires cutting 50 pieces of applique. As beautiful as some of those ones were, our seamstresses would run if they had to sew those ones, and realistically it wouldn't be worth it to sell something that took so long to make without increasing our price. Then we had a nice selection of a few dozen to choose from. From that there were several with multiple entries - we actually had 7 rainbow entries and 11 suit and tie type of designs. This made our job easier actually. We figured if such a high percentage of people thought those designs should be on our bibs, then chances are they would be popular additions! Choosing the designs was surprising easy, so much that we decided to choose 5 winners instead of the planned 1 or 2. Winners were announced, thrilled and eagerly anticipating the launch of their new designs. 

    The next few months turned out to be crazy, sadly delaying our new collection launch. We ran our design contest in Spring 2012 with plans to launch in the Fall, but much to my dismay, things didn't go as planned. This was very difficult for me, as you could describe me as an extreme planner when it comes to business, especially on the design and marketing side. I have a schedule and I stick to it, so with a series of events delaying our new collection launch, I felt like a failure. Our loyal customers and amazing bib designers wanted to know what was taking so long and I was being emailed and messaged on facebook on a regular basis, making me feel really bad. What happened first was our die cutter manufacturer went out of business - so sad! This left us scrambling to find a new one, which is a more frustrating and time consuming job than one might think. We were unable to find one right away. Then we had our 5 week bizacation...it's very hard to find one when on the road in areas with no internet service while traveling with two kids and a dog. Then, upon our return to BC we found out we could move our business. This to us was such great news, but we had to switch focus to planning our move, a daunting task as you could imagine. Then we started building our new studio which was beyond exciting and a dream come true, but this became an obvious priority. Then it was holiday show season where we travel across the country again. Then it was time to temporily move our business home for a few months while we travel and build, and then move into our new studio. Then we had the huge job of organizing our new studio. All of this happened, by the way, during our busiest time of year. You see, everything else became a priority - travel, the move, orders, oh and kids. Yes, kids were a priority too. All while all of this was happening, we were making and shipping orders out like never before. Thinking back, I don't know how we did it! 

    Thankfully that chaotic time in our lives is over and we look back and laugh at the circus that it was. Now we are in full gear, focused on growing our online business and spreading the word about our amazing products. We managed to finally find a fabulous new die cutter manufacturer in the new year and we finally got our beautiful new shapes made, photographed, and we just launched them online - HUGE relief, and only a year late! (haha) My biggest apology goes out to our designers, who I know were all eager to see their designs. I think a few might have started second guessing us and questioning our authenticity, which is super not cool to us, but we hope that our new collection with their designs was worth the wait! Here you go, our 5 NEW designs, and the original drawings that were sent from our designers. You will notice some modifications. Our actual designs are interpretations of the designers designs. Sometimes we have to do things a little different when working with leather applique. I hope all our designers are pleased with their end results! 

    Here's our wonderful new design contest winning designs shown with the original drawings!

    bowtie bib design by mally bibs

    The only significant revision we made to this design, was the addition of the 'suspenders'. We just felt it need a little something else to finish it off.

     

    moose bib design by mally bibs

    We thought this was a pretty good interpretation of the original drawing, just with the nose a little higher up on the bib and scaled to fit.

    rainbow bib design by mally bibs

    We actually had plans to design a rainbow bib at some point and this drawing gave us inspiration to make it an 'off the side of the bib' style.

    necklace bib by mally bibs

    This was designed by an ex-coworker of mine. We modified it to have a pocket on front and less beads to simplify the production process.

    cow bib by mally bibs

    We just simplified the cow a bit and removed the hair on top. I personally liked the hair, but Ron thought it looked like a toupée on the bib version.

    Thanks to our amazing BC photographer Ashley Martens, who did a wonderful job capturing our models in their new Mally Bibs. Stay tuned for some more fabulous photos from the talented Annie Steele of Chicago who has also been working on some photos of cuties in our bibs! 

    The Story of our NEW Leather Placemats

    We had a vision quite some time ago to create something that we felt was a need on the market, much like when we had the idea for the first ever leather baby bibs, now famously known as Mally Bibs. This vision was for something just as practical, easy to clean, beautiful and unique as our bibs, but possibly even better as it was for something the entire family would use. We had this vision back in 2009 to create - you guessed it - leather placemats. We actually made up a few of these leather placemats and sent them to product testers to get some feedback along with a number of other items (change purses, passport holders, bookmarks, and card holders), all of which we added to our range. After getting the reviews back we opted to add all of the other items to our product line, but decided not to add the placemats. Why you ask? Well it certainly wasn't because the reviews were bad, quite the opposite actually! While our product testers were asked a number of questions regarding each item, the one answer that concerned us was the answer to the question: 'How much do you think these placemats should sell for?'. The average answer was $20 each. Well, considering our toddler bibs retail for $40, we knew selling something that used twice as much leather for half the price just wouldn't be possible. We listened and opted not to go forward with the leather placemats, much to our disappointment. 

    Fast forward 4 years. We were torn, as we often thought about how amazing we knew our placemats would be and every time we got a request for them, we were kind of kicking ourselves, wishing we had them to offer. We have always ran our business based on pleasing customers, listinging to their requests and offering products of great design, quality and function - all things we knew our placemats would be, but we also had to price them at a price that wouldn't be a loss. That's just obvious business sense. After countless requests from customers wanting leather placemats, we thought we would give it a try. If nothing else, we knew we would have the very best placemats there are in our own home, something we were desperate to find - and let me tell you, we have gone through plastic placemats, bamboo placemats, mesh placemats, fabric placemats, cork placemats, woven placemats, all before making our own leather placemats. Really, we probably paid as much for placemats that don't last as we would have as in one time leather placemat purchase. Oh my gosh, I am not even kidding a tiny bit when I say that they have been the best placemats we have EVER had! Not only are they easy to clean, but we get so many compliments from guests as to how beautiful they look. I have no idea why we didn't make them sooner. We have been using them for a little over 1 month now and we're still in love with them. Hands down and by a long shot, these are the best placemats I have ever known.

    Initially the first vision for our placemats was to make something really simple and just have them match our bibs. I mean really, how cute would it be to have a monkey or a bear centered on the placemat to go with a bib - cute right?! Then we had a brainstorming session and we really thought about what customers would want. Of course, it made no sense what so ever! Think about it, if you're spending $48 on a placemat that will last forever, you don't want your child to outgrow the design do you?! Also, if you love the look, style and function of a placemat, you're going to want it for the whole family, right?! Of course you are! Also, if this placemat is of such a great design, why would you want to cover it up with a plate? So our goal was to create something that would be wonderful for any age, be beautiful in sets and basically make your table top the envy of all your friends and family. After our initial design brainstorming session, we wrote out a number of goals:

    • to make them fully reversible with a solid color on one side for every day use, a design on the other for every day or for when guests are over / special occasions.
    • design in a way so that the designs would not be hidden once set with dishes and cutlery.
    • create designs that are appealing to both kids and adults, without being too child like.
    • offer them in fun, modern, colorful options, available individually for in sets of 4, 6, or 8 for a savings.
    • to give customers the option to customize the colors to match their own kitchen, dining room or patio decor.
    • to make the most practical, durable and long lasting placemats there are. 

    I have to say most of all, these were so fun to design because I have been designing baby / kids items for so long now that it was fun to go back to something I have always had a passion for, interior design.  Besides the overall concept, I'll tell you a little bit about the thought process for the design on each of our placemats, along with their images and links to pucrchase below:

    mally designs leather placemat

     

     

    Design: 3 White Flowers

    This one was designed with a popular color trend in mind, grey and yellow. This is actually the color combiatnion I secretly wish I had more of in my own home. Don't get me wrong, I love my home the way it is, but I'm sort of dying to remodel a room using grey and yellow. I'm thinking the kitchen would be the perfect place to do this. I love the 3 white flowers. Notice how even once set, all the design details are still showing? Yes, that was planned. The reverse is a solid grey.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OR TO PURCHASE THIS DESIGN FROM OUR ETSY SHOP >


    Modern Tree Leather Placemat

     

     

    Modern Blue Tree:

    This one was designed with our own kitchen in mind. We have bright white walls, dark chocolate brown cabinetry, modern white quartz countertops, a glass and stone linear blacksplash, light blue accents and modern decor. If these are not popular for everyone, that's okay. It's perfect in our kitchen. The reverse is a solid light brown.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OR TO PURCHASE THIS DESIGN FROM OUR ETSY SHOP >


    beige and lime flowers leather placemat

     

     

     

    Lime & Beige Daisies:

    This one has been the most popular so far, and it was designed with common kitchen colors in mind for more traditional or contry homes, but it can easily be modernized by customizing the colors. We have sold a few sets of this beauty and a few others have said they plan to purchase it. We have even customized this for two customers, switching the beige piece under the plate to a lime green for an extra punch of color. The reverse is a solid beige.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OR TO PURCHASE THIS DESIGN FROM OUR ETSY SHOP >


    stripes leather placemat

     

     

    Stripes:

    This one was designed with modern simplicity in mind. 4 bold stripes of orange, beige, brown and blue are on one side, with a lovely solid orange on the other. I personally love this one for a patio placemat. I just think the colors are lovely in Spring or Summer and with less detail it's very easy to clean, even if it gathers dirt and dust from the outdoors. (note: I wouldn't leave it outside though). The reverse is a solid orange.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OR TO PURCHASE THIS DESIGN FROM OUR ETSY SHOP >


    Mally Designs Leather Placemat - eat tree

     

     

     

     

    Fall 'Eat' Tree: 

    I guess you could say that this one is a little more child like, perhaps a little juvenile compared to our others, but certainly completely suitable for any age. The bright colors and the word 'eat' are a a simple reminder not only to eat your meals, but to eat a healthy variety of colors in your diet. If that tree applique looks a little familiar to you, it's actuallly the branch we use for our bird and owl bibs. The reverse is a solid lime green.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OR TO PURCHASE THIS DESIGN FROM OUR ETSY SHOP >


    Mally Designs Leather Placemat - Rain Clouds

     

     

     

    Clouds and Rain Drops

    Being a Vancouver based (well, Mission) company, it seems fitting that we jump on this whole cloud trend that we keep seeing and add in some rain drops as well. Like the 'eat' tree, this design is perhaps a little more child like, but again it's completely suitable for all ages. We love it and perhaps some might think the design will rain on their parade, but we like to think it will brighten your rainy day. The reverse is a solid lime green.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OR TO PURCHASE THIS DESIGN FROM OUR ETSY SHOP >


    Mally Designs Leather Placemat - Apples

     

     

     

     

    3 Apples:

    You know what they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Yes, apples and the health benefits of them were the inspiration for this design, as well as a color combination that I happen to be in love with. Red, grey, lime and white - there's just something refreshing about it. The reverse of this is a solid grey. 

    CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OR TO PURCHASE THIS DESIGN FROM OUR ETSY SHOP >


    Mally Designs Leather Placemat - Red & Blue Flowers

     

     

     

    Blue and Red Flowers:

    In sticking with a modern design theme, we wanted to design a less traditional flower - something bold, colorful and something that could look good in a variety of color combinations. After playing around with some simple flower designs, we knew this was it. We have already customized this one on in a red / brown /lime / orange color theme as well and it's absolutely gorgeous. Click here to see it on our facebook page.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OR TO PURCHASE THIS DESIGN FROM OUR ETSY SHOP >

    Be sure to order soon in order to ensure you have them in time for Thanksgiving, Christmas or your next family get together. To order our leather placemats or to see our entire collection of placemats and coordination leather coasters, please visit the leather placemats section of our etsy shop. If you wish to customize the colors, simply send us a private message though etsy where we will help you with the customization process. All of our placemats are available individually or in sets of 4, 6 or 8.

    20% of sales of our Royal Bibs will go to the Children's Wish Foundation + NEW Designs Launched Early!

    The past few weeks have been so exciting for us - quite the timeline of events in fact! First we were asked to send bibs to the Royal Couple for their then unborn baby. Then, after sharing this exciting news, we started getting media calls from TV networks and newspapers, which is always good for business of course! Next we decided to launch some of our Royal bib designs early and do some fundraising with them as our way to thank Children's Wish for this opportunity! Our new collection is not planned to launch until September, but we managed to get the photos of a few of them ready right away for an early launch, as we knew they would be in high demand after announced that they were the ones going to William and Kate for baby George. So, how did we choose which designs to send? We really wanted to treat this like any other gift, thinking about what they would like and since the Royal Family and both Will and Kate have a love of horses and William is a Polo player, we decided our brand new personalized Horse Bib would be perfect. Our Son (Kyler, age 11) suggested the Helicopter Bib since William is a rescue Helicopter Pilot, and lastly we decided to send a custom double sided Maple Leaf / RCMP Mountie Serge Bib as some of our facebook followers suggested to show some Canadian pride - so that's 3 bibs, 4 designs. Order any of these 4 designs now through August 31st, 2013 and 20% of sales of these very special bibs will be donated to the Children's Wish Foundation to help grant wishes of children with a life threatening illness.

    This is all such a great honour for us, but perhaps an even greater honour, is that little Diamond, the little girl who got to meet Kate will be hand writing a letter to Princess Kate, which will accompany our bibs to the Royal Family. 

    Here's Nicole (me) and Ron with the designs we chose to send:

    Mally Designs Headquarters + Royal Bibs

      We made the same page of the Province as the happy Royal Family!

    Mally Bibs and Royals Featured on the Same Page of the Province Newspaper

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    About these 4 chosen bibs:

    • Our new Horse Bib is an exciting NEW addition. A horse design has been our most requested over the last few years, and we couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out! We decided it should be on a nice neutral red, as we know the horse would be a popular choice for boys or girls. Timing is also perfect as 2014 will be the Year of the Horse in Chinese Zodiac and it launches just as the first year of the horse babies are being conceived. 
    • Next, our Helicopter Bib has been a popular one for boys for a few years now. It was our cover model design and is reversible with a pocket on the back side, which could be personalized. I know our customers love to buy bibs that have to do with Mommy or Daddy's profession in mind. We sell so many fire truck, police car, and Ambulance bibs for this specific reason, so why not a helicopter bib for the Son of a Helicopter Pilot?!
    • Our Maple Leaf Bib is definitely the most traveled of all our designs. We have sold countless Maple Leaf Bibs to customers sending them overseas to friends and relatives all around the world. We recently updated it with a small maple leaf on the pocket side, placed over the heart leaving the pocket free for personalizing. We also sell a large amount of this design each week at the Whistler Market that we are vendors at to varous tourists from around the globe.
    • Last but not least, our new RCMP Mountie Serge Bib is a design that started as a special custom request from a customer. We made it up as requested and shared it on instagram and facebook. Requests for more custom RCMP Bib orders came pouring in, so we knew it was an addition to our collection that had to be made. We have even had orders for this special design to be part of a child's wedding attire!

    Children's Wish

    About Children's Wish:

    Granting wishes for children with life threatening illnesses is pretty special, and knowing you were involved in helping make that happen is a really good feeling, and one that you could be reminded of every time you see that special bib on your child or hanging up between meals. Imagine just for a second that your child was one that had a life threatening illness and you wanted nothing more than for his or her wish to come true.

     

    We will post any updates on this amazing and honourable experience on our facebook page. We realize it's an incredible long shot to ever get a photo of little Prince George wearing one of our bibs, but it is possible. Anything is posisble. Dream big, follow your heart, and live your passion. Good things will come. :)

    New Mally Bibs Collection Photo Shoot Model Search!

    Do you have a cutest baby or toddler in your life? Of course you do! Do you love Mally Bibs and want the opportunity to have said cutest baby or toddler model Mally Bibs and be one of the faces of Mally Bibs?! Of course you do! Do you live in or around the Fraser Valley / Vancouver, BC area?!! Okay, maybe not... but if you do, we have an exciting opportunity for you!

    Ashley Martens Photography and Mally Bibs Model SearchWe are teaming up with our favourite local photographer, Ashley of Ashley Martens Photography and we are planning an amazing 1 day photo shoot around the 2nd or 3rd week of August where we will be sure to capture the most amazing photos of the new Mally Bibs collection in action. Follow Ashley Martens Photography on facebook to see her photography style and some of her recent photo shoots.

    How do I enter my baby or toddler for this opportunity? 

    1) Submit a recent photo (takend within the last month) of your 5 month - 3 year old baby or toddler wearing his or her current Mally Bib to contests(at)mallybibs(dot)com. The reason we ask for a photo of potential models wearing Mally Bibs is for two reasons - one to get an idea of size of the child - and two, to make sure they are used to wearing Mally Bibs. Even though Mally Bibs are very comfortable, it's never a good idea to put something brand new on a baby for the first time in front of camera if you want to capture a good shot of a happy baby, as it may take them awhile to get used to the new feeling of wearing them. If you have ever put a baby on grass for the first time and have seen a reaction, you know what I'm talking about.

    If you do not currently own Mally Bibs, you may purchase one here - shipping within the local area generally only takes 1-3 business days. 

    2) In the email, please include your baby's name, birthdate, and why you think he or she would make a great Mally Bibs model. Please also let us know of any dates between August 12th and 30th in which you will not be available.

    Please consider if you truly think your child will be comfortable with this. If your baby doesn't like the camera, is unconfortable around strangers, or is currently going through the usually short-lived 'bib pulling off' stage, then we ask that you not consider this at this time. We want awesome photos! :)

    Some questions you may have:

    What sort of perks do I get if chosen?

    1) Your child will be provided with at least 1 outfit and possibly some accessories by Mally Designs to wear in the shoot, which will be yours to keep!

    2) Your child may model several Mally Bibs. One of them will be personalized with your child's name on it, which they will get to keep!

    3) You will have the option to purchase the additional bibs modeled at 50% off for keepsakes or gifts. 

    4) You will be given a 1 year 'models only' exclusive coupon code with a discount for use at mallybibs.com 

    5) You will get to have access to the digital files from Ashley Martens Photography of the photos taken at the shoot, which you are free to use as you wish.

    6) A $75 GC for your next session with Ashley Martens.

    7) Bragging rights! Not every baby can say they had a modeling career. ;)

    What will I or my child have to do? 

    1) All your child will have to do is be himself or herself, enjoying a little snack, sitting, playing, walking, whatever he or she would do naturally on location.

    2) You will be asked to sign a model release waiver, saying that you give Mally Designs Ltd. and Ashley Martens Photogrpahy permssion to use the photos.

    3) You will have to be present and possibly aid in keeping your baby or toddler happy during the shoot. Bring the essentials and be ready to make your little one smile!

    4) You may be asked to be in some of the photos as well, but this is totally up to you if asked! 

    5) Be on time on location, which will likely be somewhere in the Fraser Valley. Details will be provided shortly after models are chosen.

    *Chosen models are expected to be notified and announced during the first week of August, on our around Tuesday August 6th! Deadline to submit a photo is Friday, August 2nd. We apologize in advance, as we will only be contacting those chosen to model. 

    From Our Blog

    We're retiring from shows + plus, a shipping update

    The title says it all, and it's true. It's time, and it feels right. After 14 seasons, we have decided it's time to wrap up the Craft Show and Christmas Market chapter in our lives and really start to enjoy the holidays. Our kids are getting older and through the years we have loved doing these shows, but the only downside it that it has also meant being away from our kids for a few weeks and for a very fast paced December served with a side of exhaustion for us all.

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