Join Us For A Picnic In The Park!

Summer is here and we’re excited to celebrate – Mommy Connections style!

We’re hosting FREE events across Canada as a way for all of our amazing families to come back and reconnect with old friends you met through our programs. It’s also a chance for those of you who may not have experienced Mommy Connections, to come and see what we’re all about! 

There will be toy testing, a mini market, giveaways and tons of freebies!

These FREE events are open to everyone, so feel free to bring a friend or two along! Kids of all ages are welcome, including those still in bellies 😉

The only catch is that you – and your guests – need to RSVP so that we have enough fun and freebies to go around.  

Here’s a list of the events happening across Canada – just click on the link to find the specific details and registration link!

ALBERTA

Airdrie:  July 26

Calgary:  July 26

Grande Prairie:  Aug 24

Leduc:  July 22

Lethbridge:  July 20

North Edmonton: Aug 8

Spruce Grove:  Aug 16

SASKATCHEWAN

Regina:  July 17

Saskatoon:  July 21

ONTARIO

Durham:  Aug 24

London Aug 22

Midtown Toronto: Aug 23

Mississauga:  July 12

Oakville:  Aug 16

Ottawa:  Aug 17

East Toronto:  Aug 9

West Toronto:  Aug 9

York Region North:  July 13

NOVA SCOTIA

Cape Breton:  Aug 10

 

 

Mommy Connections Alumni, Bronwyn Hannelas, shares how she packed for a One-week trip, with 1 Baby, 1 pre-schooler and NO checked luggage.

 

 

For March Break our family of four flew to Vancouver for a week.  We spent time chasing waves on Tofino’s sandy Pacific beaches, atop snowy mountains, cycling in Stanley park and touring the city centre. Even with baby in tow we managed to avoid checking any baggage here’s how.

Maximize your Carry-on Limit

Since baby flew for free, we were left with a carry-on allowance of 3 pieces plus 3 small bags. I forwent a purse and opted for a diaper bag instead, the camera bag also did double duty holding some snacks and small toys.

Okay let’s get real with a 3.5-year-old and 15-month-old snacks and toys were inevitably stuffed everywhere but in clear ziplocks to maintain some sanity.  Wearing my daughter in her carrier also avoided the need to find space for that essential but bulky item.

Bring that Stroller

We gate checked our umbrella stroller for free. I travelled alone with the two kids on the flight over and the stroller doubled as a luggage dolly- a real life saver.

Any modest sized stroller that folds seems to be fine and I even saw a couple doubler strollers being stowed at gate.  Just beware as if its too bulky you could be looking at additional fees to check it.

Limit Shopping

We ended up being that family at airport rearranging suitcase contents and shovelling snacks into our kids mouths after our suitcases had mysteriously expanded past acceptable dimensions on the way home.

We planned to buy nothing, but I was the first to crack when I feel in love with Pinterest-worthy dessert bowls at a farmer’s market. We also did a Value Village run to replace some soaked sneakers and succumbed to ‘mom please’ requests for new dollies..

Forgo the Hotel

With Air BnB over a traditional hotel you can scout out a family friendly home that offers more options for meal prep, enclosed backyards and can seriously limit what you need to bring. We made sure to ask questions about high chairs, cribs and kid-friendly dinnerware ahead of time.

While visiting Vancouver Island the home we stayed in had an enviable toy collection that included ride-on toys- a definite hit with our littles. Our lovely hosts also passed along this outgrown rain suit for our daughter which was perfect for the ocean spray on the island’s sandy beaches.

 

Plan Activities Ahead

Limited luggage for us meant a trade-off in spontaneity. We brought hiking attire for some planned modest treks but opted not to bring swim suits. This meant having to forego the local pool on a rainy day and instead discovering free train rides and a cherry blossom festival at the local mall. Both kept the kids active indoors for a couple hours.

 

Minimalist travelling requires some additional planning and trade-offs much as it does in our daily family life in our small Toronto home. Ultimately though, keeping things simpler meant having the space and money to focus on taking in more new experiences.

 

Bronwyn Hannelas lives in Toronto’s west end with her husband and their two young children. She writes about trying to live a simpler life with less stuff at www.smallhousebigcity.com

 

Written by: Elaine Atkins#MomSquad

With the holidays around the corner it’s time check out new toys for the season! My son is 2 and the preschooler age is a fun one. He is just starting to get to know characters and his imagination is suddenly in full gear!

The Super Friends HeroDrive vehicles are a great size for small hands. My son loves anything on wheels and he was drawn to the colourful cars and “faces” on them. As a mom, I’m a fan of the style of these cars – typical superhero toys can be  a little “dark” and feel too serious for such young kids. The HeroDrive cars are a great way to introduce the superhero world to the little ones.

Each vehicle has a large logo that younger kids can easily push and initiate different lights or sounds. I particularly love the Superman symbol projection! T doesn’t quite know his super heros or villains just yet, but it’s fun to see him getting creative with the cars. The bat mobile is a police car and the Joker car is apparently an ice cream truck! He also uses them to race the other cars he has in his collection and drives them all over the house; through tunnels (under the table) and over bridges (aka the couch cushions). They’re a great addition to his imaginative play time and I can’t wait to see what other types of cars they become as he gets older.

The Super Friends HeroDrive series would be a great gift for any budding super hero fan and preschool aged kid.

Herodrive Mash Machines
Herodrive Mash Machines are mash-ups of your favourite DC Super Friends with rescue and urban
vehicles! These adorable character cars come equipped with flashing lights and character-appropriate
sounds. Push the symbol on the front grill to start the action! Appropriate for ages 3 years and up.
Batteries included. Collect them all!
Ages 3+, $9.99 each at Toys”R”Us & Walmart Canada, Home Hardware

Signal Squad
Light up the streets while chasing down the bad guys with HERODRIVE DC Superfriends Signal Squad! These free-wheeling vehicles feature the iconic heroes Batman, Superman, and The Flash. Press the logo on the hood to project each superhero’s signal! Which city in need will you save next? Collect all 3!
Appropriate for ages 3 and up. Batteries included.Ages 3+, $12.99 each at Walmart Canada
Ages 3+, $14.99 each at Toys”R”Us Canada & Home Hardware

We will be hosting community Picnics In The Park across the country, as a way for all of our amazing families to come back and reconnect with old friends you met through our programs.  It’s also a chance for those of you who may not have experienced Mommy Connections, to come and see what we’re all about!  These events are open to everyone, so feel free to bring a friend or two along! Kids of all ages are welcome, including those still in bellies 😉

We’re thrilled to have partnered with Panago Pizza for these events. They’ll be delivering complimentary slices of their delicious pizza for the first 100 guests to rsvp. Across the board Panago uses quality ingredients you can feel good about feeding your family including 100% Canadian wheat and cheese, pork and chicken raised without the use of antibiotics, organic Italian tomato sauce and zero artificial colours or flavours ever. Truly #qualityworthsharing – and a great go-to for busy weeknights and park parties alike!

In addition to lunch, there will be plenty of surprises and complimentary treats as well as. 

The only catch is that you – and your guests – need to RSVP so we have enough food and freebies to go around.  Here’s a listing of our picnic dates and locations:

Alberta

Airdrie: Thursday, August 16 at Nose Creek Park

Calgary:  Saturday, July 21 10:30am-12:30pm at South Glenmore – Variety Park

Edmonton North & St Albert: Wednesday, August 29 at Lions Park

Grande Prairie: Saturday, July 21 11:00am-3:00pm at Country Roads RV Park

Leduc & Beaumont: Friday, August 24 at Fred John’s Park

Lethbridge: Saturday, August 18 10:30am-1:00pm at Gyro Park

Spruce Grove & Stony Plain: Friday, August 17 11:00am-2:00pm at Stony Plain Splash Park

Saskatchewan

Saskatoon: Sunday, July 29 11:00am-1:00pm at John Lake Park

Ontario

London: Friday, July 27 12:00pm-1:30pm at Westmount Public School

Midtown Toronto: Friday, August 24 10:30am-1:00pm at Oriole Park

Mississauga: Friday, August 24 10:30-12:30pm at Jack Darling Park

West Toronto:  Friday August 10, 10:30-12:30pm at Rennie Park

Durham: Friday August 24 10am at Petticoat Creek Conservation Area

We look forward to seeing you for a great day of outdoor fun!

Join us in August and November for our MomChat parties!

Let’s Chat  Back To School and the Holidays

Each MomChat week will run for 5 days.  The first day will be a Facebook party and the last day will be a Twitter party and each of the 5 days we will feature two of the MomChat sponsors on our social media pages. All sponsors will also be featured at the beginning of the week in our newsletter. Click here to learn how to become a sponsor.

Our fans and followers have 2 ways to win a prize from our sponsors; by answering one of our Facebook or Twitter party questions on the first and last day of the week!

If you haven’t been to a facebook or twitter party before, it’s easy! Just be online during the 1 hour party and answer each question as they are posted. If you are on twitter, remember to include the hashtag #MomChat18  so we can choose a winner from the responses.  We will choose each winner live during the party!

See you in August for the MomChat 2018 party!

Well, the Olympics are over and now it’s time to learn about another major, international sporting event coming up on June 14 – the 2018  men’s FIFA World Cup kicking off in Russia! We are learning all about it with the PLAYMOBIL® Take Along 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Arena.

© FIFA, FIFA’s Official Licensed Product Logos, and the Emblems, Mascots, Posters and Trophies of the FIFA World Cup™ tournaments are copyrights and/or trademarks of FIFA.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place at cities in Russia from June 14 through July 15. Teams will compete at 12 stadiums in 11 different cities:

Fun Facts:

The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow can hold around 80,000 spectators.

Iceland and Panama will be competing in its first-ever World Cup.

Peru will return to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.

For the first time since 1986, the U.S. men’s national team won’t compete in the World Cup.

The World Cup comes four years after Russia hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Viewers can catch all 64 matches of the 2018 World Cup live on FOX Sports.

More than 1.69 million tickets have already been purchased since September 2017.

The German men’s national team won the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil in a thrilling 1-0 victory against Argentina.

What better way to teach the kids about the FIFA World cup then with the  PLAYMOBIL® Take Along 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Arena!

Assembly was very simple for this set! The back cardboard has press-out a score board and a practice goal board that just fold together. The case opens up into a large felt covered soccer field. The kids love the feel of it and there’s room for a few kids to play together!

All you need to do is take off the bottom piece and handle and the two large sides just click together. The walls have hollow spots where the case closes together – that are the perfect size to hold the soccer balls that come with the set so they aren’t easily lost when playing.

This set comes with 4 players that are easily assembled, 4 balls and a FIFA World Cup Trophy. The two players can be moved easily with just one hand and by pulling back and releasing the trigger to make the player’s leg can kick the ball and the player can kick the ball high or low depending on where he is positioned.

There are 2 goalies that connect to guide rods, and can be moved left and right, and turn from side to side to save the goal!

PLAYMOBIL also has players from different countries that can join the game, and they’re only $7.99 so you can add a few of your favourites! They come with a ball and a practice goal for shooting on and you can add the players name and number to their jersey!

Mexico and Argentina are joining our game!

Mexico have qualified for their 16th World Cup; only Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina have qualified for more.

Argentina finished third in the CONMEBOL standings for Russia 2018 qualifying, reaching the tournament on the final matchday with a 3-1 win in Ecuador.

A 5 year old can easy set up this soccer field and put it back to a case. The best part is that it folds right back to a case when you’re done playing with it so you can store it easy or bring it to a friends house to play!

Encourage a healthy, active lifestyle for your children by enrolling them in the Pedalheads fun and exciting bike camps! Since 1995, they’ve been teaching kids to go from training wheels to trails by combining exciting lesson plans with amazing instructors and small class ratios.

Pedalheads goal is to provide a class that is engaging, exciting and challenging for your child, regardless of the child’s skill level. They have classes for all different levels of skill from Riding Rookies at age 2 to Crankheads for 8+ and also offer private lessons.

Last Summer we absolutely loved reviewing the camp when our Corporate Manager’s son went from occasionally riding a Strider bike to confidently riding, steering and braking on his pedal bike!  You can read all about the fun he had here! This year, our four year old was nervous about losing his training wheels, but after seeing our oldest learn how to ride without training wheels within the first 30 minutes of her first Pedalheads class several years ago, I knew it was the right program.  Carter was riding confidently around our culdesac the very first evening after we picked him up from Pedalheads.  He breezed through level one and two and went onto level three in his Heroheads camp that we did in July.

We stuck with his smaller bike for the initial Pedalheads camp to ensure he felt comfortable without his training wheels.  I didn’t want him to feel like his bike was overpowering him.  Once he was riding without any trouble, I chatted with the instructors and asked about getting him the next size bike for the Heroheads camp, and they agreed, it would be a good idea.  Here he is with his brand new bike on Canada Day (hence the red hair!), all ready for Heroheads.  He loved that his red hair matched his new red bike!

I was worried the camp might be a bit too long as it was 9:00 – 3:30, which is longer than normal for a 4 year old camp.  He didn’t ever want to leave at pick up time!  The staff are so outstanding and because he had already done a regular Pedalheads biking class in June, he was very comfortable with the camp.  The morning consisted mostly of the same skills and drills of his Pedalheads class.  They had a snack in the morning and then took a lunch break.  In the afternoon, it was mostly games (like Red Light-Green Light on their bikes!), obstacle courses, and camp fun with Superhero themes throughout.  In Level 3, they also learn hand signals and bike safety.  You will see some photos below of Carter showing us what he had learned.  I really liked that it was all outside and super active.  He has done a few camps where there is a lot of craft time, which might not be a great fit for all kids.  If you are looking for an amazing camp for your very active kids, this is it!

Heroheads is a multisport camp with a superhero twist! By working on their uniquely designed Skills & Sports Challenges throughout the week, children will be primed for a lifetime of sports activities including baseball, soccer, archery, dance, football and more. The camp’s final day includes the Rescue Race which puts their super skills to the test in a timed course!  Carter loves anything where he is being timed and we often have timed races at the park and time him racing up the play structures at our local playground.  This exciting and fun program will leave them well balanced in their skill set, and kick-start their passion for sports.  Our four year old is definitely sporty and athletic, so this was a perfect fit for him.

Following the camp, we have taken several long bike rides, including nearly 10km, which is pretty impressive for those little four year old legs on a bike without any gears!  I am thrilled that he can being his life long enjoyment of biking at such a young age.  Here is a photo of Mommy & Carter half way through our ride!

Pedalheads and Heroheads gets two thumbs up from our family!

 

 

Pedalheads has over 75 locations in Canada and the US.  Learn more by visiting their website – some camps may still have space!

Our friends at Pedalheads® love seeing all the fun and colourful helmets and bikes that children arrive at their camps and classes with. However, a helmet and bike that fit properly are most important to ensure biking success and enjoyment.

They estimate at least 50% of kids who are sent to camp do not have a properly fitted bike or helmet.

CHECKING THE HELMET

IS IT ADJUSTABLE FOR HEAD SIZE?

  1. Turn your child’s helmet upside down
  2. Look inside to see if the helmet can be adjusted so it is snug to your child’s head.
    • There will be a dial or similar feature you can turn to tighten or loosen the helmet.
    • If your child’s helmet is not adjustable it will only fit one size of head.
    • We strongly suggest a helmet that has an adjustable dial.
    • From our experience skateboard or dome style helmets rarely fit properly.

IS IT TOO BIG?

  1. Place your child’s helmet on their head
  2. Keep straps off (straps will not affect the head fit).
  3. Have child shake their head front to back and side to side.
  4. Helmet should not move front to back or side to side.
    • If there is movement and no adjustable dial the helmet is too big.

IS IT TOO SMALL?

  1. Place your child’s helmet on their head.
  2. Face your child.
  3. Check that there is no more than a two finger gap between your eyebrows and the front part of the helmet.
    • If the helmet sits too high on your child’s head then the helmet is too small.

For more information about helmet safety, click here to see a video from Pedalheads.

CHECKING THE BIKE

Beginner Riders

  1. Sit your child on their bike seat.
  2. Feet should be resting flat-footed on the ground.
  3. Hands should be gripping the handlebars with a slight bend at the elbow.

Advanced Riders

  1. Sit your child on their bike seat.
  2. The ball of their foot should be on the ground.
  3. Hands should be gripping the handlebars with a slight bend at the elbow.

For more information on Pedals Heads Classes & Camps or to learn more about their new Heroheads program, visit their website!

Are you sending your child off to camp this summer? The feelings of excitement can be overshadowed by feelings of anxiety at the thought of all the things they may be unprepared for. To make sure your child – and you – are ready for their first camp experience, make sure you go over a few things before they head off.

1. The Details of the Camp

While the word “camp” conjures up vivid images in your head as an adult, it’s a much more vague concept for new campers. They don’t really know what to expect, and that can cause some apprehension on the part of your child. Go over the details that you know about the camp: what activities they’ll participate in, what their sleeping quarters will be like, and how long they’ll be there. Show them pictures if possible. The more information you can give your child, the more you can reduce any anxiety they may feel about leaving home.

2. Personal Responsibility and Organization

When they’re at camp, your child will be responsible for themselves and likely sharing space with other campers. Label all their belongings with their name, and teach them basic skills like picking up their dirty clothes after getting dressed and replacing their toothbrush into their toiletry bag after its use. Consider also sending simple organizational systems like a dirty-laundry bag to help your child keep track of all their belongings and keep things tidy.

3. Sun and Water Safety

The threats of heat exhaustion, dehydration, and drowning are very real – but you’ll have no need to worry about them if you teach your child how to avoid the afflictions in advance. Teach them about proper hydration, sunscreen application, and – if they don’t know how to swim – appropriate conduct when they’re around water.

 

4. Easy Hair Care

If you’ve got a girl, they’re going to need to know how to manage their hair on their own when they’re at camp. If they don’t already take responsibility for their own mane, help them learn how to do basic brushing and a low, easy ponytail.

5. How to Handle the Dark

Many children rely on a night light or some sort of illumination, and those who do sleep in pure darkness do so in the comfort and familiarity of their own home. Prepare your child for the possibility that they may be a little anxious after the lights go out by giving them a small illumination device they can use inside their sleeping bag should they need it – a penlight, small flashlight, or even a watch with an illuminated display.

6. Review the Supplies

Don’t simply pack up your child’s camp supplies and hand them a suitcase on their way out the door. Involve them in the process so they know exactly what they have and where they can find it in their bag. Knowing the things they are bringing with them will increase their confidence and self-efficacy and reduce their anxiety of the unknown.

7. How to Make Friends

No matter how fun camp can be, it’s always better with a friend. Help your child practice basic social skills and develop confidence in approaching new people by role-playing with them.

8. How Proud You Are of Them

Build your child up and reinforce your confidence in their ability to succeed on their own for a week. It’s true that the words you say become your child’s inner voice – and those words of confidence will get them through any difficult moments during the adjustment period at camp. However, avoid talking about how much you’ll miss them while they’re away; your child’s job is to go away and have fun, not to wrestle with guilt or worry about how you’re faring without them.

Summing It Up

Going to sleepaway camp is a rite of passage for most kids – and a big milestone for parents, too. With all the responsibility that comes with leaving home for a few days, it can be anxiety-inducing for everyone involved. Prepare your child by sharing as much information about the camp in advance, teaching them some basic self-management skills, and setting them up with some simple organizational systems.

 

Jenny is a mother of two, a summer mama, and a lover of the great outdoors. When she isn’t trying to get her kids off their screens and playing outside, you can find her blogging about her parenthood experiences at Mom Loves Best, or Pinning up a storm on Pinterest.

We had our first VIP Influencer event celebrating summer with our friends at Springfree Trampoline in their Markham, Ontario location on June 9.

It was such a great day with over 50 people jumping and having fun!  One of our influencers, Michelle Ferreri posted a great Facebook Live video from the event; check it out!

We had several people following the event ask us about the fun Comic Book Mod Podge Magnet station we had.  Click here to make your own! Buying the glass discs on Amazon is the lowest price for sure!

Don’t forget to mention #springfreeYYZ when you share your blogs and photos from the event!

Want to learn more about the Trampolines? Check out our past reviews Large Square & Oval Trampoline

 

 

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