Gazillion Bubbles – A Gazillion Magical Moments

Bubbles are one of those universal activities that all kids seem to like, it doesn’t matter what their age is. My kids are no exception – they can play with bubbles for extended periods of time. Unfortunately for me, they usually want help from me getting lots and lots of big bubbles! Enter Gazillion Bubbles and your problem is solved.

Funrise Toys recently sent us their new game, Bubble Pong, from their Gazillion Bubbles line. We took it up to the cottage to test out, and it was a huge hit! Bubble Pong works like a very similar adult game that involved alcohol, but instead of drinking, kids get blasted in the face with bubbles when their opponent gets a ball in their side. Fun for kids, and fun for adults to watch!

Even our dog, Sookie, got in on the action. She tuckered herself out chasing all the bubbles with the kids. Lily spent a looooonngg time just chasing bubbles when we switched it over to the bubble machine setting.

Check Sookie out in the background! She loves it as much as the kids!

 

Sookie’s bubble dedication is impressive

What I love about the Bubble Pong machine:

  • it has a few different modes. You can use it as machine to play bubble pong with the machine keeping score for you. This mode was great for Andrew, he loved the game play and having bubbles explode in his face when the other team scored.
  • There are attachments to make the game harder/easier, depending on who is playing.
  • The machine holds a fair amount of bubble solution at one time, meaning I don’t need to fill it up every two minutes
  • The bubble machine setting works amazingly well – You just switch it over to bubble machine mode and bubbles come flying out of both ends.
  • It is a pretty durable machine – we have had a few different bubble machines and none have stood the test of time. They usually malfunction fairly often and end up breaking after a few uses. We have had this one on repeat for a few weeks now and it works as well as the day we got it.

The bubble output is amazing!

What I didn’t love about the Bubble Pong machine:

  • It has to be taken apart to put it back in the box. Ok, I know I’m stretching a bit here, but I love when toys can just be put back in their boxes for safekeeping and easy storage when not in use. A few of the pieces/attachments need to be taken off to get it back in the box, but it can be put back in.

I also just have to give a serious shoutout to the quality of the bubble solution (and in all honesty, I didn’t even know there was a difference in quality until we tried the big bottle of Gazillion Bubbles). I typically buy bubble solution at the dollar store (my kids go through it like crazy throughout the summer, between using it and spilling it). The kids (Lily in particular) aren’t always able to get bubbles out of the cheap wands/solution. Lily busted open the Gazillion Bubbles solution and instantly was able to get lots of big bubbles on her own.Unexpectedly, I guess with bubble solution you get what you pay for!

Bubble Pong far exceeded my expectations. For the price point, well worth it to make summer memories with my kids!

Bubble Pong includes 1 game console, 6 ping pong balls, 2 removable trays, 2 removable bumpers, and an 8 oz bottle of Gazillion Bubbles Solution
Age: 3+
Price: $29.99
Availability: Walmart & Toys “R” Us Canada

You can connect with Gazillion Bubbles on their websiteInstagramFacebook and Twitter. Give them a follow to stay up to date!

The Babytime Show 2018 + GIVEAWAY

One of the things I miss about having most of life’s big milestones behind me (like weddings and babies) are the trade shows – I went to as many wedding shows and baby shows that I could – having all the vendors and experts under one roof was so easy and informative!

All you mamas-to-be and new mamas are in luck – The Babytime Show is back this weekend! It is located at the International Centre,  Hall 1, from Friday, April 27 to Sunday, April 29. Head over to learn all about having the best pregnancy ever, how to balance parenthood with the rest of your life, try out popular brands, find exciting new products, be surrounded by other new and soon-to-be parents, and get ready for the parenting ride! This is THE baby show to attend, offering leading parenting experts, major brands, unique artisans, stellar education and top-notch toddler entertainment, all under one roof.

All the important details are below:

The show is this weekend, April 27-29, from 10am-6pm

Venue

International Centre, Hall 1

6900 Airport Road, Mississauga

Cost   

Parents and friends (13+): $17

Grandparents: $10

Children 12 and under: Free

Special 20th Anniversary Ticket: $20 (includes Lisa Canning Coaching Session on Friday, April 27 from 8:30am – 10:00am + 1 Adult Admission, ages 13+)

Parking: FREE

For more details, check out their website; https://www.babytimeshows.ca/

Now for the exciting part – want to win a pair of tickets to check out the show? Head over to my Instagram to enter to win tickets PLUS a little gift for the mama-to-be! (hit that Instagram icon in the top right under Follow Me to pop over to my Instagram). Better hurry – the giveaway will close Wednesday at noon!)

Formal Dress Shopping with Laura Plus

It’s Prom season! For many young ladies, this means dress shopping with a vengeance, and I have found myself recommending the same place over and over again to moms and girls that I know. With wedding season also approaching, I thought I would share a store that I recently fell in love with…let me introduce you to the Laura Dress Shop at Yorkdale.

Now, I want to be completely transparent in this post – I was invited to an event at the Laura Dress Shop to celebrate their opening, and they were kind enough to gift me a dress. However, there were no obligations to follow up with a blog post, this post is truly because I love the store, the experience, and the dresses.

Dress shopping as a plus-size woman can be equally exhilarating and frustrating. I love trying on fancy dresses (the more sparkle, the better!) but often the plus-size selection can be pretty limiting. What semi-fashionable woman wants to wear a caftan to a black-tie event?? Not this girl. I can honestly say that Laura Plus absolutely NAILS it. The selection, the styles, the service…they have perfected the dress shopping experience. The Laura Dress Shop has an extensive selection for regular, plus and petite sizes, and they often have dresses in store that are online-only.

Before I share photos, I have to apologize for the low-quality photos. When I was all dolled up, I wasn’t anywhere near any good lighting…and only had my husband for photos. I’m hoping to have more photos to share after an event later this month!

And now I present to you…my dreamy Laura Plus dress.

I don’t even know if I should call it a dress. It’s a gown, right? A beautiful sequinned gown that I would marry if it were a person!

 

I mean, it’s pretty much everything I want in a formal dress. It’s sparkly, it’s a bit sexy, a bit classy….and I feel like a knockout in it.

The staff in the store were so incredibly helpful – they were incredible at bringing suggestions after asking my preferences and what I was looking for. This was one of the first times when I was dress shopping that I legitimately had multiple dresses that I would have been thrilled to go home with. I have been watching one of the runner ups in case it goes on sale – a girl can never have too many dresses, right??

I’m excited that I have a black-tie wedding coming up in a few weeks, so you KNOW I’ll be wearing this gorgeous frock. Stay tuned, I’ll post some updated photos (with much better lighting) after I get the chance to wear it again!

If you’re looking for an unforgettable dress and shopping experience, make sure to head over to the Laura Dress Shop at Yorkdale – and let me know if you find your dress there!

PS – they sell shapewear there too. Just sayin’! It makes it a lot easier to buy a dress knowing what it will look like with some control top happening! You’re welcome!

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.