We Had A Super Fun Halloween Pizza Party!

We had a super fun Halloween Pizza Party, with Pictonat Photography, at Kidnasium by Kidz Oasis!

I just love this time of year.. I can’t think of anything cuter than a room filled with babies & toddlers dressed up in Halloween costumes!

This year we got to see some really creative parents work their Pinterest magic, and had a very hard time choosing our favourite costumes!

 

Thank you so much to our awesome sponsors – Panago Pizza for providing such yummy pizza & drinks, and Baby Gourmet for the shakers & pouches!

I’m still blown away by how delicious Panago Pizza is! Moms that attended our Halloween Party keep telling me how much they LOVED the selection of pizzas & juices. Panago Pizza now offers 100% organic Italian tomato sauces, made with organic tomatoes, herbs & spices. Ham, Italian sausage, pepperoni & salami made from pork raised without the use of antibiotics. Hormone free meats, fresh dough made in store daily, no artificial colours or flavourings used, and a variety of vegan and gluten smart options available, makes sure there is something for everyone to enjoy!

**A very special thank you to our door prizing sponsors – Leslie Uy, Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot for the Stella & Dot earrings, Olilibaby for the mitten clips, and Jubie Jems for the teething jewellery!

City Mama, County Mama: Zen & The Art of Toddler Maintenance (By Lonelle Selbo, Life Au Lait)

As my little man’s big Oh-Three approaches, I wonder to myself if there’s really any chance that those very real ‘terrible twos’ could possibly be nearing their end.

Not that he was terrible—if I look critically at the last year, I can see a gorgeous, spirited little creature, trying to become himself and find his voice in the midst of mommy and daddy’s concrete world filled with inexplicable, inflexible rules. His behaviour made perfect sense, but it still wasn’t easy for us. When he finally fell asleep at night, we’d spend hours trying to rationalize what had happened that day and what it meant about how we would deal with tomorrow.

“Well, he ate lunch 10 minutes later than normal…” my husband explained.

“And he had hummus,” I interrupted, “you know, I think he might be allergic to chickpeas.”

“Oh, and he also hasn’t had a poo today” he added, and I nodded vigorously.

“Aaand he got that new fire truck toy we didn’t let him take to bed.”

So, we were in agreement: a late lunch, hummus, no poos, and a new toy conspired to give our 2.5 year-old that huge hit of strength that allowed him to bust out of his crib tonight, for the first time.

Every day of his second year of life had been like this though. Our child, a blur of pure physical energy, muscles straining to find the infinite ceiling of their potential – the two of us struggling to intellectualize his every act. 

Why was he crying when we gave him what he asked for? Why didn’t he want to eat the thing that was his favourite meal yesterday? Why was he a perfect sleeper forever and now falls apart when we leave the room? 

And then it hit me. Kids aren’t jobs. They aren’t schedules. They aren’t math or physics or finite equations. They’re little people, humans, given to volatility and unpredictable emotion. And they’re just learning to be humans, so their reactions aren’t seated in logic or based on precedent. To top it off, each of their personalities is entirely unique and wildly evolving—so to try to fit them into any realm of grown up reasoning is to fail before we’ve even begun.

So, as the eve of our graduation from this mini-era grows closer, I offer other parents the only resolution I can find to the tried and true ‘Terrible Twos’: Be Zen. Be open to the capricious universe. Be accepting of the tides. Be a firm and yielding pressure between the land and the sea. Be the permeable shield. Be the unconditional retreat. Be overflowing with love. And be completely vulnerable to the magic that is your child’s exuberant march towards his own being.


From the green belts of Midtown Toronto to the endless pastures and lakes of Prince Edward County, fashion magazine editor Lonelle Selbo, lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes all things mommy—from cool toys to DIY home décor, pretty things to hip places, where-to-eat to how-to-grow, and mom style to toddler chic. Every month, she’ll bring a little County to Midtown Mommies.

www.lifeaulait.com

Our Travelling Tots had so much fun when we stopped in to visit the creative team at Raising Artists!

At Raising Artists, they encourage creativity and promote meaningful artistic experiences, that allows students to follow their imaginations and explore self-expression.

Building on the positive relationship between parent and child, and fostering the bond at the heart of early learning and child development, they work together with you and your child to explore art with thematic age-appropriate library materials.

Brainstorming begins on the sketchpads using crayons, teaching them the first stages of step-by-step planning, and practices using fine motor skills.

Onto the canvas you go, using child-friendly paint, a variety of loose parts, artistic tools, and creative resources.

Their art studios are always buzzing with enthusiastic educators, passionate creatives, and other wonderful families in the community.

You will walk away from their workshops with a masterpiece on a 16 x 20 canvas, and a lasting memory between you and your budding artist.. Just be sure to dress for a mess!

 

Check out this little video of one their Parent & Child Painting Workshops in progress!


At Raising Artists, their mission is to make a child’s artistic imagination come to life through fun, creative, and original educational art workshops. They contribute to the cognitive, social, and emotional well being of your child, while providing a profound opportunity for learning and creativity.

Learn more, and check for upcoming Workshop Dates: www.raisingartists.ca 

Guest Blog Post: Ishtar Gabriel, Child and Family Therapist


Panic struck, and my anxiety went through the roof, when my daughter Sophia (now 8) turned 2.

I remember questioning everything I was doing, and never felt sure of myself. One day I would be firm, and the next day I would use reward charts. I was losing my mind. She wouldn’t sleep, she wouldn’t sit for more than 5 minutes, she never said “okay” or “yes”. I was yelling and crying, she was running all around at nap time, she smeared her poo on walls to make murals. What happened to my baby?

I remember locking myself into the bathroom to get away from her (funny now). I was confused, foggy, tired, scared, angry—disheartened. This was not what I thought motherhood would be like. Thankfully, I was seeing a therapist at the time who provided amazing emotional support, and I began to get out all my old psychology books on child development to get more informed. Slowly but surely I began to find my way…..find my lioness.

Mothers use to be surrounded by a village. Have a community of women to turn to. Mothers use to knock on their neighbours door to borrow sugar or have a coffee. Today we mother more and more in isolation and shame—with no manual and no one to turn to for guidance and support—-we are forced to build our own village. Motherhood today takes balls—it requires we stand up and say without same or guilt “I have no fucking clue how to do this. I need help and support and I deserve it.”

Our voices are being heard and our needs met, as doulas, sleep trainers, midwives, nannies begin to emerge and become mainstream. The area that still requires support and information is toddlerhood. The time of the cave child. Probably the toughest of all the phases I have experienced so far (and that isn’t saying much since my children are just 6 and 8), but definitely the phase I have come to understand deeply and passionately.

As a child and family therapist I have come to focus on helping parents get through the toddler years, by providing information and support about sleeping, toilet training, child development, shame and guilt of motherhood, marital tension, balancing work and home life, grieving life before kids, discovering and embracing your own unique values and beliefs about what it means to be a mom. I have come to coin what I do as “toddler training”.

I provide moms with information and support on their mother journey so they can carve out their own unique path and grow strong, confident and secure in their new and life long role as a mother. I help moms find their lioness.

I am mama hear me roar.
Ishtar


Ishtar Gabriel BA, MSc, OACCPP
Child and Family Therapist

www.KIDU.ca / 905 515 2788 / ishtargabriel@gmail.com

Services are done in office or by phone, and can be bought in packages (potty and sleep), or hourly (mother guilt/shame, finding balance, marital tension)

 

Guest blog post by: Vivian Yau, Smile Speech Therapy 


kids-booksEarly literacy skills refer to what children know about reading and writing BEFORE they can actually read and write. Focusing on these skills in an interactive and fun way can set young children up to become successful readers as well as develop a love for reading.

Here are some ideas on how to target early literacy skills at home with your child:

bedtime-readPrint Motivation—enjoying and having fun with books
Find books that are interesting to your child and follow their lead as you share the book together. Make it engaging by using facial expressions, different voices, and acting out the book.

Vocabulary—the more words you know, the easier it is to read
Use specific words with your child and explain the meanings of words.

sisters-readNarrative Skills—re-telling stories and talking about events that happen
Encourage your child to pretend play and make up stories. Have your child tell about special events that happened to them (e.g., birthday party).

Letter Recognition—knowing that each letter has a name and has different sounds
Point out letters in the environment and talk about the sound that it makes. Talk about the letters in your child’s name.

boy-readingPhonological Awareness—hearing and playing with the sounds in words
Clap out syllables in words. Talk about the first sound in words and rhyming words.

Print Awareness—knowing that letters and words have meaning
Point out the words while reading books aloud. Point out print you see in the environment such as: road signs, food labels, store signs.


flyerIf you are interested in learning more strategies for targeting early literacy skills and seeing them in action, Smile Speech Therapy is offering a series of Language and Literacy Parent and Child Classes for 2 and 3 year old children.

Please contact us for more information and mention Mommy Connections for a discounted rate, by emailing: info@smilespeech.ca, or by calling: (416) 488 – 7807 


image1Vivian is a mother of 3 young boys with 14 years of experience helping children improve their speech and language skills. She is the founder of a new private practice called Smile Speech Therapy which provides in-home or in-clinic (Bayview/Eglinton) speech and language services to children in Toronto and the surrounding area.

www.smilespeech.ca

Guest Blog Post by Liz Greene


With the 21st century in full swing, it’s becoming more and more apparent how important STEM skills will be in the future job market. With more than 8 million STEM jobs expected in the U.S. by 2018, it’s imperative we make sure our children are learning these critical skills. Of course, this is easier said than done. Or is it?


FullSizeRender
As a former preschool teacher, I have been witness to the amazing ability children have to learn through play. You wouldn’t think a set of coloured plastic bears would encourage the development of math skills, but damned if didn’t.

Since STEM skills have become a hot topic in education, a number of companies — such as Steve Spengler Science and GoldieBlox — have started offering a fantastic array of toys tailored to foster science, technology, engineering, and math skills. Toys such as these are some of the best tools you can give your children to give them a leg up in STEM education without boring them to tears. You can engage in guided play and provide some background lessons, or you can let them march to the beat of their own drum — either way, they’ll learn something new.


FullSizeRender-1
Alright, I know this one sounds like a stretch, but video games can actually help develop STEM skills. Believe it or not, teachers are actually implementing video games in the classroom for that very reason. But how?

If you think about the world of video games, you’ll find STEM everywhere.

If your children are gamers, get cozy and have a movie night featuring documentaries about video games. Get them excited about the nuts and bolts of their favorite games and consider enrolling them in a program where they can catch the programming bug.


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Food is one of the greatest motivators I’ve ever seen. Two weeks ago I watched an office full of my peers rush to fill out insurance forms once they were told there would be a drawing for free lunch. The HR department can play us like a violin.

Food can be used to teach STEM skills in a number of way. You can grow a garden and utilize engineering, math, and science skills. You can whip up a delicious treat while exploring the chemistry and mathematics behind baking. You can do math with skittles, learn about crystal formation while making rock candy, and even build fantastic structures with gumdrops.

However you go about it, STEM education can be incredibly fun — and surprisingly easy. And believe me, your kids will appreciate your hard work.


Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene

smartcookielogo fiverr copy

The Smart Cookie Club is a holistic play-based learning program for toddlers and preschoolers to attend with their parents/caregivers. Co-founding teachers, Talia and Mary, aim to provide fun and engaging learning opportunities for children while giving parents the tools and knowledge to support their children’s development at home.

Classes have a different learning focus each week and activities are built around a theme that touch on different developmental areas (eg. communication, language, math, gross and fine motor skills, music, science, sensory, and creativity).

Mix It Up Yoga Mamas 001Mommy Connections Midtown Toronto dropped in to visit The Smart Cookie Club during our Travelling Tot’s summer program, and all of the kiddies had a blast!

Goodnight Gorilla Artscape 006My daughter and the other toddlers absolutely loved getting right into their hands on learning activities, and you could see their curious little minds working as they tried out each of the different play stations.

We really enjoyed and appreciated the age appropriate developmental learning activities, and the direct one on one interaction from the teachers. Some of us moms signed up for their full summer program with our tots, and each week we got to try out a bunch of new activities that kept our little ones interested while learning new skills.

Easter Class 006We are really looking forward to our next field trip to see The Smart Cookie Club, as part of our upcoming Travelling Tot’s fall program line up! If you would like to join us on our fun field trips, our Travelling Tot’s fall program runs Thursday’s from 10:30-11:30, starting September 24th.

To learn more about or to sign up for a Smart Cookie Club program near you, click the links to check them out online www.smartcookieclub.ca, and follow them Facebook.

See you at the club!!Smart_Cookie_Club_Horizontal_Proof_2-1

Munchkin BRICA Extending Metal Gate:
Available exclusively for Babies R Us for $59.99

When I heard I was going to be reviewing a safety gate that was safe to use at the top of stairs, I was very excited to possibly install it at either my parents or sisters home (both have staircases that aren’t blocked off, a constant issue when we visit).
Unfortunately the mounting pieces were too wide to fit into the doorway at my sisters place (without having to remove the existing door stops, in place from a previous door), and then have to repair/repaint the door jamb. If it were my own home, I definitely would have made the necessary alterations to the doorway, for it to work.
Evernote Camera Roll 20150724 233834 (1)The bannister posts at my parents home also had an issue accommodating the generously sized mounting pieces. I would have needed to make modifications to the bannister first, by drilling and securing additional pieces of lumber, to create a larger surface area suitable for mounting the pieces. Again, if it were my own home I probably would have made the necessary alterations, but as it was not my place, I decided against it.
I found that in both situations, it would be beneficial if the mounting pieces were a bit slimmer / more compact. Never the less, that meant that I could swap out the gate I currently had installed at my own home, to try out this new Munchkin BRICA Extending Metal Gate (and very glad that I did! Their loss = my gain).
The gates width adjustment pieces were very straightforward and easy to assemble. There aren’t a lot of finicky pieces to be screwed on, so it has a nice clean look without visible adjustment holes & hardware, when everything is in place.
pTRUCA1-20570611_alternate3_dtIt is very easy to open and close with one hand, which is super convenient when you have a little one on your hip. The gate can swing in both directions, or be locked to only open one way (especially important for top of stairs, and to not to open outwards into small hallways).
I love that it has built in tilting mechanisms, so there isn’t additional pressure on the walls. The last gate I had was much more difficult to open and close, and one of the mounts was starting to come loose from all the additional pressure that was applied (another reason this safety gate upgrade was so welcome).
I didn’t do the final mounting of the gate myself, but my husband said he found it took a bit more time to decipher the instructions (as diagrams only), rather than if they also included written directions.
FullSizeRenderThe quick release setting is a big bonus, as it makes it possible to easily remove the gate when you choose to. It feels very sturdy, and I would be very comfortable with this gate installed at the top of a stairway, but for now it keeps my crazy toddler out of my little kitchen while I’m cooking 😉

Munchkin BRICA Extending Metal Gate: The barricade for the baby brigade.

pTRUCA1-20570611_alternate2_dtThe Extending Metal safety gate by Munchkin has no unsightly adjustment holes along the bars, and is equipped with a unique tilting spring mechanism to reduce stress on walls every time it’s used. The spring mechanism allows the gate to tilt open or close, which minimizes pressure applied on walls. Handy quick-release settings allow for quick and easy removal when needed, too. Safe for use anywhere in the home (especially in the stairway), this hardware-mounted baby gate stands 29″ tall and fits openings 28″-40″ wide.

Munchkin Safety Warning

Use only with locking mechanism securely engaged.

Never use with a child able to climb over or dislodge gate or enclosure.

To prevent serious injury or death, securely install gate or enclosure and use according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 

Guest blog post contributed by Brittany Logsdon, Trunk To Tail, Music & Yoga for Children

imageChildren’s lives are busy and often stressful. Yoga adapted for children, provides children with space and time where they can focusing on their bodies and minds without distraction.

Emotional benefits of children’s yoga include:
1. Relaxation and Stress Relief
Breathing exercises help children calm their bodies and minds, making bedtime and quiet time easier and more enjoyable. I use artificial flowers sprayed with essential oils, as a fun and calming breathing exercise. Parents have used this technique at home to help soothe their child during turbulent times. Children are able to reach into their yoga toolbox and use their knowledge to calm their bodies and minds, even in stressful situations.

2. Increased Self-awareness and Esteem
Mastering a balance pose or being able to fully relax during savasana can greatly improve a child’s mood, confidence and awareness of their body and mind. Yoga is non-competitive and practiced in a supportive environment. Children learn and grow at their own pace helping them feel comfortable and confident. Children are able to support each other in poses and help each other balance and deepen a stretch, working together and enjoying the poses.
3. Increased Focus and Attention
Relaxation, mindfulness and yoga poses help children develop focus and attention. Balancing poses require attention and focus to keep from falling over! Children love balancing poses. When they are finally able to balance without falling over, they are so proud and excited! Other yoga poses also require a great deal of focus, such as challenging backbends and inversion poses. Without a great deal of focus, these poses would be almost impossible to conquer!

imageChildren’s yoga classes are in Cabbagetown at 555 Parliament Street with Brittany. Please visit Brittany’s website at www.trunktotail.org or call 416-629-9878

How Much Food Should My Child Be Eating? Guest blog post by: Aviva Allen, Kids Nutritionist 

As parents we all go through periods where we worry about how much our kids are eating. This is especially true when dealing with a child who is underweight or seems to have a small appetite. It is also true when dealing with a child who is overweight and sneaking food. Yet even when we are dealing with a child who has a perfectly healthy weight, parents will often still wonder if their child is eating enough or too much and how this will affect their future growth and eating habits.

While it is not our job as parents to determine how much our kids eat, there are ways in which we can support them in their eating.

Don’t interfere

Young children are very good at self-regulating if we let them. This means not interfering with their quantities by the use of pressure tactics. They are the only ones who know how much their bodies need. Even though at times they may eat more or less than they need, they will usually make up for this by making the necessary adjustments at other meals.

Planned meals and snacks

Planning scheduled meals and snacks is one of our feeding responsibilities. Your child should be allowed to eat as much as they want at each sit down meal or snack and will be better able to regulate their amounts compared to being allowed to graze throughout the day. Snacks do not need to be what we tend to think of as “snack foods”. Think of them more like small meals and ensure the same balance that you would at breakfast, lunch and dinner. We should be offering our kids 4-5 opportunities to eat throughout the day so that would mean 1-2 snacks.

Proper spacing between meals and snacks

Use snacks to support mealtime and space them out properly to ensure your child comes to the table hungry, but not too hungry. If you wait too long, some children will be cranky and more likely to have a meltdown at the table while others may overeat. If your meals and snacks are too close together, your child will be more likely to reject what is offered at the table or eat only a small amount. This often results in parental pressure to eat in the form of negotiations and bribery. Your child may legitimately not be hungry and teaching them to ignore their internal huger cues can lead to trouble down the road.

Ultimately it is not our role to determine the appropriate quantity for our children to eat. We provide healthy and balanced meals and snacks. We provide them with a positive mealtime environment. We provide them with structure. Then we need to take a step back and let them do their job. Sometimes they will eat too much, sometimes they will eat too little and sometimes they will not choose to eat from all of the important food/nutrition groups but we need to let them make these mistakes in their eating and then learn to make up for them.

For advice on nutrition and feeding that is specific to your child and your family, call/email or book online to set up an in-office, phone or Skype consultation.

logo-1www.avivaallen.com

 


62_aviva-blog - CopyAviva Allen is one of Toronto’s leading Kids’ Nutritionists specializing in helping parents deal with their picky eaters.  Inspired by her two young boys’ adventures in food, Aviva helps children and their families establish healthy eating habits through her nutritional counselling practice located in Midtown Toronto, as well as offering consultations via phone or Skype for those out of the area. Aviva is also the founder of Healthy Moms Toronto, helping connect like-minded moms throughout the GTA.

 

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