Spring In The City

We think it’s safe to say that spring has finally sprung in the city. Signs of the seasons changing have been popping up everywhere from local food spots opening their patios to green grass and pastel flowers starting to sprout. With this, we’re excited to be bringing out our spring and summer stock to get you ready for the beautiful weather ahead. There are so many things to do in a city so abundant with nature and culture that we want to make sure you can venture out with ease.

Spring Fashion:

We cannot begin to express how adorable the spring/summer fashion is in our stores this year! First off, have you seen the SS 2014 Tea Collection? With Moroccan-inspired patterns and colours, there’s something for every young lady and gentlemen. With cute jungle animal tops and girly, twirly dresses, your kids will look fabulous all season long. All three of our store locations are carrying pieces from Tea so you can get in on the fun wherever you may be.

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We’re in love with some of the new summer styles and classics that TOMS has come out with this year. With sizes ranging from 2 – 11, your whole crew will have their feet covered while visiting local parks and festivals or playing outside with friends. Already looking for those summer sandals? See Kai Run has beautiful buttery soft leather shoes in cool style for boys and girls ranging from 6 months to 9 years old. Both shoe brands are available in all our store locations and online.

Sun Protection: 

As a parent, it’s super fun to dress your kids in cute summery outfits, but one of the most important things to accessorize them with this season is sun protection! Don’t worry, you don’t have to send them outside with a big glob of goop on their noses, we’ve got your sweet peas covered so you don’t have to worry!

Before heading out for the day, it’s important to apply a generous amount of sunscreen 20 minutes beforehand. Anything with a UV protection level of 30 SPF or higher will do the trick like our Goddess Garden Organic Sunscreen, available for both babies and kids. It is water-resistant and is packed with anti-oxidants and vitamins to keep skin hydrated during busy outside play. We like this brand because it is made with 90% organic materials making it non-toxic and safe for delicate skin.

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Did you know that even babies should wear sunglasses? Wrap-around sunglasses are the most recommended when outdoors with both UVA and UVB protection. Baby Banz Sunglasses cover all the bases of sun eye safety while in the sun. Designed in Australia, one of the world’s toughest UV spots,  Banz comes in sizes for newborns to kids up to five years old. They have 100% UVA and UVB protection, they feature polycarbonate lenses and a unique neoprene band with a soft silicone nose and brow piece for superior comfort and fit. You can pick yours up in store or online in an variety of colours and sizes.

The fun doesn’t stop there! Hatley has an awesome collection of kid’s wide-brim sunhats. Each hat is reversible with a solid colour side and a patterned side.

Upcoming Local Events:

Now that you’re protected and ready to go, here are some upcoming local events to check out.

Canadian Tulip Festival | May 9 – 19
This year marks the 62nd edition of the Canadian Tulip Festival. The festival is hosted in celebration of the return of spring, with over a million tulips in 50 varieties blooming in public spaces across the National Capital Region. The highest concentration of tulips can be viewed in the flower beds of Commissioners Park, on the banks of Dow’s Lake, where 300,000 flowers bloom.

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Ottawa International Children’s Festival | May 9 – 14
The Ottawa International Children’s Festival is an annual celebration of performing arts for children. Programs are geared towards children aged four to 15 and focuses on enriching school curriculum and promoting the arts as an integral part of children’s education. The majority of the events take place at LeBreton Flats and the War Museum. For a full schedule of events and to purchase tickets click HERE

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend | May 24 – 25
Join thousands of runners from around the world during Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Children, youth, and veteran runners take over Ottawa during this weekend for a number of events, including a kid’s marathon and two- and five-kilometre runs. The main marathon passes many of Ottawa’s major landmarks, so there are plenty of great spots to watch the races too. 

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Great Glebe Garage Sale | May 24
You betcha we’ll be a part of the Great Glebe Garage Sale again this year. The GGGS is a community event organized by the Glebe Community Association where homeowners set up yard sales on their front lawns creating one huge community events. Local businesses also take part in the event by having awesome sidewalk sales. Many vendors and shoppers collect and give donations to the Ottawa Food Bank. The event happens rain or shine and runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

 

Indoor Winter Activities

It sure has been a chilly winter so far and with wind chills and runny noses, sometimes it’s best to keep your little ones inside for the day. So while the mittens and boots are tucked away, here are some great indoor activities to do with your kids.

Puppet Show:

CateLeviGiraffeYou can create your own theatre or scope out the best spot behind the couch and create a magnificent puppet show with your children. We have some beautiful puppets from Cate and Levi that are made of cozy reclaimed sweaters and are proudly Canadian. With cute characters to choose from like frogs, moose and even a walrus, your little ones can act out their favourite stories or create their own.

Indoor Concert:

JanodMusicalSetWithGuitarJust like the Brady Bunch, you can start up your very own family band and hold an indoor concert! Whether you have pots and pans or the real deal, music is always a fun way to play. This musical set from Janod has  everything you’ll need to go on tour. It includes a trumpet, harmonica, tambourine, a kid-sized guitar and a fun clapper. The five piece set is made of wood and comes in cool confetti colours.

Youngster Café:

HapeGardenSaladSometimes it’s okay to let them play with their food, especially when it’s in their very own Youngster Café. Your mini chefs can toss up some gourmet fun with the playfully delicious Garden Salad from Hape or serve you up a fresh croissant with a cup of espresso with the Janod Espresso Machine. Once pretend play is over, you can prepare a fun and healthy snack with your kids from our Kid-Friendly Snacks Pinterest board.

Snow Removal:

GreentoysTractorEven though they’re stuck inside all day, you can bring the white fluffy snow inside in the form of cotton balls! The Green Toys dump truck is the perfect vehicle to get the job done. Lay out a bunch of cozy cotton and allow your kids to scoop them up with the truck or even the Green Toys tractor.

However you spend your days, we hope they are filled with quality fun and giggles. Happy winter!

Back To School (But Not For Baby)

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As we draw closer and closer to September, many of us are preparing our children to head back to school. If you’re like me and your eldest is gearing up for her first year of full days then you’re probably preparing yourself more than anything else (*sniffle sniffle). Back to school time is rife with shopping trips to compile the necessary arsenal of gear, talks about expectations, and an attempt to restore some semblance of a routine pre game day. As I prepare our household for the big day, I can’t help but look at my almost 2-year and wonder how she’ll handle her big sis and best friend being gone all day.  Continue reading

Road Trippin’ : Part 1

When I tell people that we’re about to embark on a family road trip I usually get the raised eyebrow questioning glare, or from those more bold a concise “are you nuts?” But we’re not nuts and we actually enjoy family road trips despite the mayhem. The past 4 years have presented a steep learning curve for us. As a pre-kid couple we sold all but what we could fit in a VW bus and spent half a year driving to Central America and back, so driving anywhere with kids in tow was a whole new world. Successful road trips with kids are possible… I promise…

Modify Your Outlook#1 Modify Your Outlook

Hit the open roads with an open mind. Try not to be too rigid about arrival times or how many pee breaks you’ve had to make. Embrace the slower pace of travel with kids and you’ll feel a lot less stressed.

Pack Per Day Not Per Person#2 Plan & Pack Like A Pro

One of the best pieces of advice I received was to change the way I pack. Instead of packing one bag for each family member, try packing one bag per day of the road trip. Packing this way means you’ll have far less to haul into the hotel when you’re tired, cranky, and hungry. 

Snack are game changers#3 Snacks, SNACKS, S-N-A-C-K-S

Snacks are one of the most important elements of your family road trip  master plan. Pack healthy, smart, and (most importantly) plentiful. Go for snacks that won’t require a full on car seat clean at the next rest stop.

A good lap tray goes a long way#4 Lap Trays

A good plastic lap tray is indispensable on long car rides. We like the ones that have multiple pockets and holders and a decent lip to keep the smaller stuff from rolling off. The perfect lap tray has a lot to do with the age of the kid and the car seat style and set up you’ve got going on so look around to find the ones that will work for you.

Potty Break Tips#5 Bathroom Breaks – Not Optional

Expect to stop. A lot. Kids’ bladders are small to begin with and I assure you they shrink further as soon as they are strapped securely in the car seat. Whether or not you believe the “I have to go potty” cries, recognize them as your kiddo crying ‘uncle’. She’s ready for a break and that’s never a bad idea if you want to keep your road trip fun for everyone. Bring your kid’s potty seat if they are at that age because rest stop toilets are intimidating! Heck, bring the whole potty if your kid isn’t quite ready for the seat reducer. If you bring a potty, line it with a plastic bag and throw a disposable diaper in the bottom to make cleanup quick and mess free.

The best places to potty break:

  •  Province/State Welcome Centres: You know, those little roadside buildings that always look empty where you can get the tourist info and cute pics with the “Welcome to Ontario” sign? Yea well, they always look empty because they generally are and that, my friend, means the bathrooms are far and away less disgusting than bona fide rest stops.
  • Hotel/Motel Lobbies: Lots of little hotels and motels just off the highway will have a restroom in the lobby and like the welcome centres, they are far cleaner than the highway rest stops.
  • Roadside Rest Areas & Restaurants: My least favourite but sometimes you have no choice. When you do stop here you can pretty much assume that everything is covered in un-friendly germs. Be sure to wash hands well or use waterless sanitizer and encourage kids not to touch everything in sight. If your little ones (like mine) think the automatic toilet flush is going to suck them in, grab a paper towel on the way in and use it to cover the sensor.

Strategic Stoping Points#6 Strategic Stopping Points

Plan to stop often because, let’s face it, you’ll end up doing it whether you planned to or not. Have a look at your route and pick out interesting roadside stopping points where the kids can spend some energy before buckling back up. Quirky attractions, beautiful places, or even just an off-the-beaten-path grassy knoll can be fun and adventurous places to take a break from  the car.

Plan stopping point choices#7 Choose Overnight Spots Wisely

Look for hotels with pools, complementary breakfasts, and space outside to play  a bit. Don’t expect your kids to sit all day and then go quietly off to dreamland without expending a bunch of that pent up energy. Also, when planning your route pick a hotel and then one about an hour in either direction knowing that  the likelihood of a hiccup that throws off your timing is likely. On a side note: hotel rooms are a veritable cesspool of germs. Pack some disinfectant wipes in your overnight bag so you can wipe down surfaces like doorknobs and sink counters… I swear I am not a germophobe, but if you’ve ever had a toddler puking for hours in the car you’ll understand the importance of avoiding a bug on your trip.

Have a map on hand for GPS failures#8 Know How To Read A Map (like, a real one)

I love my GPS but I refuse to blindly follow the instructions she divines! No, I absolutely do not want to drive through the heart of Toronto at 5pm with three across in the back seat. For those times when your Garmin gets cray cray you’ll want to be able to choose an alternate route that makes sense.

Super Simple Secret Surprise Bags#9 Secret Weapon: Surprise Bags

Even the most independent, creative, and patient of kids will inevitably get antsy at some point on a long car ride. We combat car fatigue with the secret surprise bag. A few simple but new toys, activities, or crafts kept well hidden and busted out at just the right moment before meltdown mode sets in can buy a few more moments of peace while you hightail it to the next rest area.

Car Friendly Crafts#10 Get Crafty With Car Friendly Activities

A species all their own, car crafts and activities are worthy of a post all their own. Briefly, prepare space efficient and car-smart games, crafts, and activities for your kids to help keep them busy (and happy) on your trip. See my post ‘Road Trippin’ : Car Crafty’ for lots of tried and true ideas.

New Games and Movies can help#11 Movies, Gadgets, and Gizmos

If you do the tech thing with your kids, download some new movies or forgotten about games. Road trips aren’t the best times to teach a little kid a complicated new game so choose wisely. Consider itty bitty speakers that kids can hold on their laps,  preserving some of the little sanity you have left. Don’t expect little kids to peacefully share under these circumstances – even the most generous of kids can get pretty irritable after spending many hours strapped in beside a sibling – make sure everyone has their own gaming device or that you have a clear time-sharing plan and be ready to referee. We find that our single ipad is ok for movie watching since they can both watch at the same time if we shove it between the front seats so no one is touching it, but with an almost 5 and almost 2 year old games on the ipad just cause fights.  If you have multiple devices or your kids can play collaboratively check out the Toca Boca games.

The Princess of Puke: Dealing with a barfy baby

SPITWhen the words “Here, I’ll take her” strike fear into your heart because you know she’s gonna puke on the unsuspecting baby holder, you have a barfy baby. I have 3 beautiful baby girls. 2/3 of whom were/are barfy babies. In our house ‘spit up’ is the understatement of the year. This isn’t spit up, it’s bona fide barf. Sometimes it comes out with a good amount of force and shoots a foot or two like a water cannon. Often it misses the shoulder burp rag entirely and you can hear it hit the floor with a tremendous SPLAT. With our second daughter we changed clothes many many times a day – hers and ours. I believe the record was 5 times before 9am. This went on until she was a year old, slowly lessening with each passing month after she started to crawl. We never found a definitive cause for all the ‘spit up’ while it was happening. We were told it was a laundry issue rather than a health concern and that we’d have to wait it out. ugh. We never truly bought into that though. Continue reading

Drowning Doesn’t Actually Look Like Drowning

Drowning victimFriday, June 21st is the official first day of summer (mother nature may have missed the memo) and with summer comes the end of the school year and the beginning of family vacations to sunny destinations, the ceremonial opening of back yard pools and public beaches. Hooray! My kids love playing in the water, any water from bathtub to ocean counts and they are all in. I usually keep my posts light  but this one tackles the more serious topic of water safety. While its no one’s favourite topic, it’s so very important for all of us.  Continue reading