Todder Play Park at Pickering Town Centre

Shopping and toddlers don’t typically go well together. Not in my family at least. Usually when I try to take Lily shopping for anything other than toys or food, she’s wild. Loud, climbing out of her stroller, and a pretty disruptive shopper. Pickering Town Centre seems to have answered this mom’s prayers, as they have just opened a Toddler Play Park! (FINALLY, right?!?!) I was sitting with a few mom friends a few months ago talking about how malls all over the States have play structures and play areas for kids in the middle of the mall to provide relief to parents shopping with kids. and that it is something Canadians are missing. I’m hoping that Pickering Town Centre’s Toddler Play Park is the start of a new trend in the GTA at least. The best part about the Toddler Play Park is that it is completely FREE!
I took Lily to check out the Play Park last week and she had an absolute blast. My friend joined me with her two kids and it was so nice to hang out and catch up while the kids were playing. In the spirit of honesty, I walked up to and thought “oh man, she’s going to get bored of this place in ten minutes” because it looked a bit small to me. Oh, how wrong I was. She spent a solid two hours playing and I still had to drag her out of there.
The Toddler Play Park has a cute outdoor theme, and has animals that kids can climb on, a tree climber with a slide, and a log crawl. The structures are a firm foam material, so even if someone hits their head, it won’t hurt too much. There is designated stroller parking, and seating for parents to hang out and watch their kids play. If you go in the entrance close to Think Kitchen, it is really close – totally feasible to make it in from the parking lot without a stroller if you need to. I had the biggest mom fail and completely forgot to bring a tea to relax with. It is located on the lower level of the Sears wing, and is open during mall hours.
 
The play area is carpeted and all shoes must be removed to play; they provide a shoe cubby to store shoes while the little ones are playing. There is hand sanitizer provided which is a godsend, especially during flu and cold season.
Lily was happy and tired when I finally dragged her out of the play place and if I had planned it better, I probably could’ve gotten a solid hour of shopping in with a content toddler. If you want to check out the Toddler Play Park, the Pickering Town Centre is located at 1355 Kingston Road in Pickering. The closest entrance to the Play Park is Entrance 6; you can get in off Pickering Parkway. If you’re looking for more information, feel free to check out their website here.
Happy Playing!
Although this post is sponsored, all thoughts, ideas and opinions are my own!

My Favourite Local Getaway – Ste. Anne’s Spa

With the cold weather rolling in, and life getting busier, I am SO wishing I was back visiting Ste. Anne’s!

When the weather was warmer, I snuck away for a day with a few of my favourite blogger babes, Cathy from A Boy and his Mom and Kait from Teacups and Things. We somehow got lucky with some warm weather and I got to experience a whole other side of Ste. Anne’s; I’ve only been there in the winter before!

The first major difference going in warm weather is the view and property. I always thought Ste. Anne’s was beautiful in the winter, especially with tons of freshly fallen snow. It really is breathtaking to see the property with all their gardens in bloom. I had never walked the grounds before, but spent some time wandering around outside. There are hammocks all over the the property so you can curl up and nap or read a book whenever you feel like it. I had a pretty epic nap in a solo hammock in a little gazebo. There are few times as a mom that I feel completely relaxed and have a sense of solitude…but this was one of those times. I had originally had plans to go see the stables but I ended up spending so much time at the pool and in the hammocks that I ran out of time!

 

I am a huge lover of spas, but somehow I had never gotten a facial before this trip to Ste. Anne’s. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations because I figured it would probably just be someone rubbing some cream on my face, but oh sweet Nelly was I ever wrong. The facial starts off with a foot soak before you hop up onto bed for the most blissful hours of your life. They did rub some creams on my face as I expected, but they also massaged a good portion of my body between facial applications. I don’t know if it was the scent or all the massaging on my body and face but I was so relaxed and happy by the end of it (which probably contributed to the nap that followed). If you are heading to Ste. Anne’s anytime soon, the facial is worth EVERY penny. Trust me!

Because we got lucky with a warm, sunny day, we got to spend some time down at the pool, which was downright lovely. It is just as peaceful and relaxing as the rest of the property. Customer service did not disappoint at the pool, where there tons of fluffy towels and beverages waiting for you. It was busy at the pool, but we were still able to get some loungers without a problem (and it was a busy Saturday).

 

The food, as always, was absolutely divine. We sat outside on thepatio for lunch and the view was just beautiful. I ordered a salad and sandwich and it was just filling enough without making me feel bloated. Afternoon tea was as lovely as always – I love that you don’t have to choose one or two things at tea, you get the sweet, the savory, fresh fruits and cheese. As a note for anyone with dietary restrictions – Ste. Anne’s is completely accommodating if you let your server know your restrictions.

Pro Tip – I hate being hot and my body temperature tends to run on the warm side. If this sounds like you as well, you can ask for a lightweight summer robe at reception instead of the thick warm robes that are typically given out outside of the summer months.

As I write this, I am already longing to go back to Ste. Anne’s. Maybe someone should tell hubby that a trip to Ste. Anne’s would make an AMAZING birthday or Christmas present..

Becoming a Minivan Mom

Sponsored post

Well, it’s officially happened. I now have a minivan sitting in my driveway. Concrete evidence that I am officially no longer cool. I’m pretty sure I was a “cool mom” until now.

After much resistance, I finally accepted that my small (yet very cool and functional) Honda Fit is not the best car for a mom with two kids and a dog, so we started car shopping for a minivan. That’s what you do when you’re a suburban mom, right?

The Fit is such a cute little car!

 

As a car is one of the biggest purchases you make, we did a ton of research beforehand. We knew we needed a bigger car with lots of cargo space. On our last family vacation in Florida, we experienced how convenient power sliding doors are (Andrew could just climb into his seat on his own!) so that was a must-have for me if we were moving up to a van. Cars.com is a great place to do some research on cars, and to get an idea on what your car is currently worth. I personally liked the reviews they have on each car, with the “what we like”, “what we don’t like” and “notable features” sections. It’s quick and easy to compare between models.

We finally settled on the 2018 Honda Odyssey as our new family minivan.  I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I’m a minivan mom, but it is pretty pimpin’ for a minivan. Power sliding doors, a backup camera (an essential), touchscreen dash….The kids absolutely love it, Lily calls it her “big white bus.” I’m slowly getting used to driving it – it’s a huge jump from driving a Fit. I think I could actually park my Fit inside of it if I needed to! Parking is still a bit of a challenge for me. I’m pretty sure I took up approximately 8 parking spaces when I parked it the first morning dropping Lily off at daycare. All you other minivan moms out there, how long did it take you to feel comfortable parking your vans?

It took all of two days for the extra space to come in handy. I was babysitting my niece and I decided to take the kids out for ice cream – which would not have been possible in my Fit. In the van, I threw in an extra car seat, and we were off with plenty of seats to spare – we even picked up my dad en route!

I unexpectedly felt very sad about letting go of my Fit. Maybe because it was such a reliable car, maybe because it has been with me since before I got married…there were a few tears at the thought of not driving it anymore. I didn’t think I would get so sentimental about a car, but it definitely happened.

I’ve decided to embrace my minivan. Maybe I’ll use my Cricut to make myself an “I used to be cool” bumper sticker. Maybe I’ll buy a new pair of mom jeans to celebrate. Either way, give me lots of space if you see me on the road, I’m the newest member of the Minivan Moms club!

Sensitive Skin Solution for Babies and Kids – Cetaphil Baby

When Andrew was a baby, one of the constant issues we battled was his sensitive skin. He brought in rashes constantly, and always had eczema flare-ups all over his body. While we quickly found things that irritated his skin (harsh laundry detergents, sweating…) we had a difficult time finding bath products that worked for us. For awhile, the only one that helped smelled medicinal and I absolutely hated the smell of it. Luckily, one day our family doctor gave us a sample of Cetaphil to try on his skin and it was one of the first times that I used a product on him that worked that I didn’t hate the smell of. I was so relieved!

When I was contacted try the whole line of products, I was thrilled! In all honesty, I didn’t even know there was so many products! I tried out the Wash & Shampoo, the Daily Lotion, Moisturizing Oil, and Ultra Moisturizing Wash. The Cetaphil Baby Products are a huge draw for parents that are looking for natural, organic products. The entire line is:

  • free of colourants, mineral oil and parabens
  • pH balanced to protect baby’s skin
  • hypoallergenic (this is gold to us allergy moms!)
  • made with certified organic calendula, which helps soothe skin
  • dermatologist tested

One thing I do want to point out about this line is that in my eyes, it’s not just for babies. I feel that it does give a great clean even for the big kids – it’s gentle yet very effective.

Wash & Shampoo

The Wash & Shampoo was the only product that I had used with Andrew, and the formula seems to be the same – nice clean, fresh smell and didn’t irritate either of my kids’ skin. It had a nice lather to it as well – I know it’s not an essential for a good wash, but I find it satisfying to get a nice rich lather! It’s a great all-in-one product for bathtime. One thing that I love about the bottles now is the anti-slip grip on the sides – makes it easier to grab when your hands are all soapy and wet. Why has this not been done before on all bath products?!

Daily Lotion & Moisturizing Oil

The Daily Lotion was a great addition to our bath routine – it’s a lightweight lotion that is easy to rub in, absorbs quickly, and didn’t leave my hands greasy. I found when the kids’ skin was really dry (after swimming or being in the sun all day), it wasn’t quite moisturizing enough…so on those days I tried the Moisturizing Oil. It was great, and SO moisturizing. It smells flipping delicious too. In the spirit of full-disclosure, it did leave my hands greasy after rubbing it into the kids’ skin, but I just did it in the bathroom and washed right after. It would be great for bedtime massages for wee ones as well.

Ultra Moisturizing Wash

The last item we tried out was the Ultra Moisturizing Wash. I did get a good lather out of it (although not as much as the Wash & Shampoo), but the real bonus is that the kid didn’t really need to have lotion put on after using this wash, it did a pretty great job.

My only tough decision now? Which product to use at bath time tonight!

Now, I have good news for you – two lucky readers will have a chance to win all 4 products in the Cetaphil Baby collection, as well as a cute elephant rattle! Two winners means two ways to enter! So head to the Bawlers & Crawlers Facebook page and Instagram to enter!

You can get more information about Cetaphil Baby products on their website, and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. You can even head here to get a coupon to try it out yourself!

Brooklin Summer ArtFest – Saturday, July 15, 2017

Anyone out and about in Durham Region today, there’s a great family event happening in Brooklin – the Brooklin Summer Artfest, running today (Saturday, July 15, 2017) from 10am to 4pm at Grass Park, right in the heart of downtown Brooklin. The grand opening ceremony is at 12pm, with some great photo opportunities.

Organized by the Ashburn Art Circle (AAC) and Group74 , the Summer ArtFest will showcase works of art created by local artists, music, local food vendors and fun family activities. As this year’s charitable initiative, Summer ArtFest will support the Community Banner display, a collection of 64 paint canvases created by the community which was originally unveiled at the grand opening of the Brooklin branch of the Whitby Public Library.


It will be a day filled with community fun and a celebration of everything creative. Summer ArtFest has something for everyone – from unique art work created by talented local artists, to children’s activities, music and more. Join the fun and explore what your local artist community has to offer!

For more information visit the Group 74’s event page  or www. group74.org.

Safety Training Your Child: Why It’s Important and What You Need to Know

This post has been weighing on my mind and heart for a long time now, as it was spurred by a few incidents with my own child. As a social worker, issues of child safety and protection are part of my regular discourse. I wish with all my heart that there was no need for this post. That I was just a crazy overbearing social worker mom that always saw the worst in situations. Unfortunately, there have been two separate incidents with my son that have spurred this post (for his privacy and others I will not be sharing them – but they were upsetting and issues of child safety when he was not in our care), that reinforced the need to continue doing with him what I have always been doing – and will continue to. It is never too young to start having very basic conversations with kids.

  • Trust Your Gut: If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust yourself and how you are feeling and teach this to your child as well – if a situation makes them feel funny, they should get away from it.
  • Concerns are Real – they are there for a reason. I don’t mean to create fear, but there are very real and scary threats out there. I hear from other moms that they don’t want to talk to their kids in case they scare them. My standard response is that I would rather instill a little fear along with the knowledge to protect themselves.
  • You Have the Right to Question Things (and you should). Never take anything for granted. Don’t ever assume that everyone else is looking out for your child the way you would. I learned this the hard way. I assumed that when he was in someone else’s care, he would always be safe and didn’t question some of the protocols and standards. I failed in this regard. Make your voice heard, even if you think you’re becoming ‘that parent.’ I’m pretty sure I’m THAT parent now..and I’m okay with it. At least I know my son is safe.
  • Safety Train Your Child…again and again and again: This is one of those things that can easily be forgotten and be one of those things that gets put on the back burner for when you have more time, but let this be your reminder – do it today. Make the time to sit down with your kids and start the conversation. And do it regularly
  • Topics to Cover when talking to your kids about safety: By no means is this an exhaustive list, it is a start. If you’re not comfortable starting that conversation on your own, hit the bookstore; there is a TON of books to help parents talk to kids about safety.
    • Trusted Adults: if your kids ever need help, who are adults they can talk to for help? Think about in your home, in your family, in your community – help them identify who the people are that they can trust and turn to when you’re not there.
    • Touching: talk to your kids about good touches/bad touches, what their private areas are and who can touch them. Many people like to generally talk about the ‘bathing suit’ area as their privates. I’ve always been a big advocate of kids learning the proper terms and becoming comfortable using them, so ‘penis’, ‘vagina’, ‘bum’ and ‘nipples’ are common terms in our home.
    • Secrets: talk about secrets that are ok to keep (like surprises, or harmless secrets like crushes). Generally, I tell my kids that secrets that make them feel bad or ‘weird’ inside, or where someone is getting hurt are secrets.
    • Strangers: Talk about who/what a stranger is (hint: not the weird guy in the park in a hoodie. Truth – I used to safety train kids as part of a job I had a few years ago, and I sadly heard this answer over and over from kids). To help them understand who is a stranger, I ask if Mommy and Daddy know them, do they know their first and last name, do they know where they live, etc. Teach them what to do if they are ever approached by a stranger.
    • Taking Photos: I teach my kids that people are only allowed to take their photo with their permission, and that it is NEVER okay for someone to take their picture without all their clothes on. I was immediately busted by my four-year old, as he said “But Mommy, you ALWAYS take my picture when I say I don’t want you to. And you take mine and Lily’s picture when we’re in the bath.” Touche – life is hard as a blogger’s kid. But – I apologized and since then have began bribing him for photos. For a child to learn that his voice and choice matters, the lesson starts at home.
    • Emotions: This is only for the younger crowd. Make sure kids understand different emotions and know how to identify/label them on their own. It can help them and their caregivers understand what is happening in confusing situations.
    • Consent: This is a trickier one for the younger ones, but essential. Teach your kids what consent is – how important (and that it is totally ok) for them to say NO if something makes them uncomfortable. Teach them in the same turn to respect others’ consents – even for basic things like hugging, touching, holding hands. (Funny story – we had a small hiccup near the beginning of Andrew’s JK year where he was kissing a girl at school and daycare. I was approached by the staff who wanted to advise me of what was going on – my first reaction was to turn to Andrew and ask him if this girl wanted to kiss him – the staff member looked at me like I was nuts. I then moved on to a chat about what was appropriate behaviour.

Take the time tonight to start the conversation with your child – schools and community agencies will teach your child the basics of safety but there will be things that only you as a parent can cover. If there is one silver lining in the incidents that we have faced, it is that glimmer of pride that Andrew remembered those safety basics that we have spent so much time talking about. It mattered. It made a difference. I hope for all of you reading that you never know if your safety talks matter – but please do it anyway.

I have one more thing to ask of you reading – share this info with your parent friends. Share this post/link with them, or just share the one thing that stood out to you the most reading it. When I got talking to my mommy friends, I was surprised to learn that I was one of the only ones having those conversations already – so be that friend to start the dialogue with your mom tribe. Start the conversation with your friends and your kids. Give your kids the tools to keep themselves safe.

Hollywood Cone is Open!

I love love love ice cream…I think it’s probably one of my favourite treats! I was thrilled when I heard that Hollywood Cone was opening in Whitby, not too far from my house. Hollywood Cone is known for their creative ice cream creations – as I have a soft spot for soft serve (Hah – see what I did there?!) I am thrilled to have one near us! If you haven’t been to Hollywood Cone, it’s definitely worth the trip – they take delicious soft serve and top it with over-the-top toppings (say that five times fast!), such as strawberry shortcake, coconut cream pie, and Kinder Surprise, to name a few.

I have read a few articles about their Mutant Shakes, so over the weekend I headed down for their grand opening with the family. Andrew and I decided to try the Funnel Cake Shake, while Ryan and Lily shared vanilla soft serve with Reese’s peanut butter cups mixed in. As you can see in the pictures, both were a HUGE hit.

The mutant shake was unlike anything I’ve ever had before – it was a delicious, thick, creamy strawberry milkshake topped with a hot funnel cake (read – made fresh!) and more of that perfect soft serve! Andrew’s eyes almost bugged out of his head when I brought it to the table. Funnel cakes always make me think of hanging out at Canada’s Wonderland in the summer, and splitting a funnel cake before heading home for the night. The funnel cake at Hollywood Cone was so good it definitely took me back there. The strawberry sauce was perfect, although messy – get lots of napkins! Don’t let the price tag of the bigger ice cream dishes and mutant shakes deter you; the servings are HUGE and can easily be shared. The mutant shake was legitimately two desserts in one.

I love the decor in Hollywood Cone – the movie seats are so comfy, and Andrew thought it was hilarious to have movie seats in an ice cream shop!

Hollywood Cone is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Durham Region! What would your ice cream choice be?

Hollywood Cone is located at 1549 Dundas St. E. in Whitby. You can also find Hollywood Cone Whitby on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Spring Refresh with Pine-Sol #YesItsPineSol

Spring has (kinda) sprung! Even though Mother Nature hasn’t gotten the memo yet, it is officially spring. For me, that usually means breaking out  my spring wardrobe, getting all my spring decor out, and cleaning. As it was hailing this morning when I left for work, it’s clear that my entire spring wardrobe isn’t coming out anytime soon (although I made the decision to forego socks and boots for the season, for better or worse), so my current spring prep consists of cleaning and decor.

I tried out Pine Sol Spring Blossom to kick off my spring cleaning. It’s the same Pine-Sol that can be used on almost every surface in your house, but with a fresh floral scent. Plus, it’s pink, so I’m pretty much sold on it by the packaging!

I use Pine-Sol throughout my kitchen, bathroom, and most recently my laundry room! I was worried about using a cleaner in my laundry room because it’s such a small room without a ton of ventilation, but it desperately needed a good scrub. My worries were unfounded – it smelled so nice! It has scents of jasmine, magnolia and orange blossom…makes me dream of the beautiful garden I wish I could grow in my backyard. Unfortunately, I have no trace of a green thumb, so Pine-Sol Spring Blossom might be the closest I get!

 

Pine-Sol multi-surface cleaners are available in a variety of fresh scents, and provide 4X cleaning action, by deodorizing and cutting through grease, grime, and dirt. They are available nationally at grocery and discount retailers for $4.49 (1.41L) – trust me, that lasts a long time.

I recently picked up a new spring wreath from HomeSense – coincidentally, also pink! I love how it looks against the white door! That’s my first piece of spring decor to come out… my next spring project will be some nice bright decor inside the house!

Do you have any spring rituals? What spring decor are you putting out this year?

Ten Things Canucks Love About USA

I feel like America has really been taking a hit in the media lately, and there is undoubtedly a ton of controversy swirling in the news right now. Since I’m currently sitting here wishing I was still on vacation in the States, I thought I would give our southern neighbours a little love and share the ten things that I love the most about coming to the USA.

  • Bob Evans – I don’t know why, but I have a real love for this place. It’s real home-cooking, and is so comforting after a day of being on the road! When I was going to university in Kingston, there was a group of that would drive over the border to New York just to go to Bob Evans for breakfast. Seriously. I’m sure the border crossing guards had bets on when they would catch us with drugs, but it really was just a trip to Bob Evans.
  • The little sticks of butter. It’s SO SMART.
  • There are no words to describe my love for Target. Having Target briefly in Canada was a tease, and I miss it more than words can say. One of my first stops whenever I get to the States is to spend some quality time in Target. That bullseye just makes my heart go pitter patter. When I get to Target, it’s like I’ve been returned to my homeship.
  • Buying liquor everywhere. There’s something so freeing about buying wine with your cereal, isn’t there? Even Costco – who doesn’t love wine and vodka at rock bottom prices?
  • Along with the previous…the free flowing liquor. I mean, isn’t a place where you can get bottomless mimosas a wonderful place? (For those not familiar with Canada…this just doesn’t happen to your neighbours in the great white North. It’s actually not allowed…which is why Canada doesn’t have all-inclusives).
  • $1.49 McDonalds for a ten pack of nuggets. Just being able to buy a 50 pack is amazeballs.
  • Sheer variety of things. We stood in the cereal aisle for about ten minutes. Being able to buy a cinnamon-variety in every cereal type. You may not be able to buy ketchup or all-dressed chips (which are amazing, btw), there is a jaw-dropping amount of variety.
  • Shake Shack – this is my newest obsession. It came highly recommended and it did not disappoint. I’m adding it to my list of regular US stops.
  • Shopping: Dollar Tree, TJ Maxx, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Kohls… the unbelievable outlets…to all my US friends, I hope you know how lucky you are! I will be eternally jealous of both your budget and luxury shopping options.
  • Warm weather options without leaving the country. I wish we had a Florida and Hawaii in Canada! 

Kidapalooza is Back + GIVEAWAY

 

All moms can agree that the cold winter months make it harder to keep kids entertained. Any way we can get kids out of the house and burn off energy is a win…so all you moms will be happy to know that Kidapalooza is back for their second year, and it is even bigger and better than last year!

The 2nd annual Kidapalooza has expanded by over 15, 000 square feet, bringing it to over 45,000 square feet of pure fun. Kidapalooza will be taking place indoors at the Markham Fair Grounds on Family Day Weekend, February 18-20th, 2017.

There will definitely be something for everyone at Kidapalooza – they will have activity stations, play zones (and have added more from last year), interactive inflatables, a performance stage, dance parties and vendors. It will give families the chance to create, explore, and play together.

Check out the list of play zones – I am already planning my day with the family!

  • Toddler: a designated area for little ones to jump, slide and ride
  • Build It: construction activities with building blocks, sand, and the chance to build and race Lego balloon cars
  • Bounce It: jumpy castles, slides and obstacle courses
  • Sport It: active sports zone with basketball, t-ball, tennis, soccer, hockey, a bike course and more
  • Craft It: Make and take painting and crafting activities and group art installations
  • Imagine It: Imagination station with dress up, tea parties, a princess pavilion, pirate ships and knights. Joy Spa will also be here providing manicures and hair treatments with glitter and temporary colour highlights
  • Pet It: a petting zoo for kids to pet, feed, and learn about all the animals (pony ride available for additional cost)
  • Dance It: main stage performances and shows (even more than last year!)
  • Gaming RV
  • Springfree Trampoline Zone: burn off some of that extra energy!

For more information or to buy tickets, head over to Kidapalooza’s website, Facebook, or Instagram.

Now, YOU have the chance to WIN!

Do you want a chance to join in on the fun at Kidapalooza? I’m giving away a Family Four Pack (2 adults and 2 child passes) to one lucky winner! Pop over to my Facebook page to enter! Contest closes February 9, 2017 at midnight.

Kidapalooza is also giving away a Springfree Large Oval Smart Trampoline, with FlexrStep and Delivery & Installation (Value: $2,749.00). You can enter to win here: http://kidapalooza.ca/contest.html

Good luck!