An Inside Look At The New Duran Place For Kids In Oakville!

There’s a new sand box in town, and it’s not at your local playground!

Last week we had the pleasure of visiting the new Duran Place For Kids, as part of our Travelling Tots program.  Owned and operated by a local Oakville family, this unique play centre is based out of a beautifully restored commercial school in downtown Oakville.

The owners, Claudio Duran and Tina De Crisci, know a thing or two about children. They have five children, they are foster parents and Tina is an elementary teacher.

The previously mentioned sand box, is actually an entire room filled with Sandtastik sand!

Venture a few steps into the next room and your little one’s imagination can run wild with these life size building blocks.

The best part?  There’s a comfortable sitting lounge in between the two rooms where families can relax with a complementary coffee while surfing the free wi-fi (that is, if you can tear yourself away from playing yourself!)

The bottom floor reminds me of a modern wooden ski lounge – it’s currently being used for the centre’s variety of art programs – both for children and adults.  The space can also be rented for adult parties/meetings.  Liquor licenses available!

The middle floor is set up for music lessons.

The beautiful upper floor is filled with natural light via the original windows.  Families can enjoy a variety of activities up here like Salsa Tots, Yoga, ballet, Hip Hop, and Kickboxing.

A short flight of stairs up and you’re on the 1,300 square foot rooftop.  The owners are toying with a number of ideas as to how to use what is soon to be the most popular floor.  From a summer green space to create art, to a mini ice rink in the winter – the possibilities are only limited by the wild imagination.  Rumour has it that the roof top also boasts prime seating for the Oakville Santa Claus parade!

You’re sure to be delighted by all kinds of other surprises throughout the building, including beautiful artwork and 5 mini fairy doors!








Each floor is available to rent for parties, as each floor is equipped with its own kitchenette and washroom.  The only thing to be mindful of is that the rooms are only accessible via stairs – grandfathered in its use since major renovations in 2000.

There are a few parking spots onsite and some are also available on the street.  Entry fees for play are just $10/child.  Have fun exploring this amazing new addition to Oakville!

Stepping away. 

I escaped. Literally. New Years Day. I got in my car and drove away. From my house, my kids, and my responsibilities. I was gone for a few glorious days. GLORIOUS.

Ok, rewind the tape. The weeks leading up to Christmas were a gong show. A fucking gong show. I can’t even fully explain why. They were busy and hectic and emotional and as crazy as ever. But this year, I felt it more than ever before. So on December 27th I decided I was leaving for a few days. I didn’t ask anyone. I just decided on my own. I needed to get away. I needed to rest. I needed to write, to eat, to drink, to sleep and to think. I needed to be with myself. I needed to check in with myself. I needed to remind myself of who I am and what makes me happy.

I figured out babysitting and schedules. I did every single piece of laundry in the house. I got groceries. I put away all the christmas decorations (god forbid I come home to all that crap) I organized the shit out of my house. I packed daycare bags. I washed snowsuits. All so I could leave without feeling guilty. Of course I still felt guilty for a moment. But that soon passed. I knew I did everything I could before I left.

What did I learn while I was gone(?) I need time to be with myself. As a person. Not as a mom. And not just a night out with my friends. I needed, time. I need to schedule these grown up escapes on the regular. Like once every 3-6 months. A night or two. It doesn’t make me a bad mom. In fact, it makes me a better mom. I was so happy to see my kids faces today I almost cried when I saw them. Instead, I hugged them and held on as tight as I could for as long as they would let me. It felt so good in my heart. Tonight, as they all sleep, I feel at peace. I feel rested and ready for tomorrow. And not because I have to get up but because I want to get up. I can’t wait to get up and make them breakfast. I can’t wait to sit with them and chat about the day. I know the stress of it all will come back. But at least I know I can have time to myself when I need it. They will all survive without me for a few days.

I encourage you all to try it. Step away. For a moment, an hour, a day, a week. Something. You will feel the greatest joy upon your return. I can promise you that. I can promise you, you wont regret it. You will feel charged, you will feel happy and rested. You will feel yourself. Connect with yourself and what makes you happy outside of being a mom. Just try it. I love being a mom but I love myself too. And this year, I’m not taking the backseat. I’m riding up front and I can’t wait.



Road Trips. 

Back in the early 90’s, when I was a kid, my family and I took an epic 7 week summer road trip from Toronto to California and back. There were five of us in a Ford Taurus Sedan with no trailer or extra luggage bin…. I am the youngest of three, so I was stuck in that awkward middle seat between my sisters for the entire trip. My parents occasionally took pity on me and let me sit in the middle seat in the front. Occasionally. Imagine, a family of five, no cell phones, no navigation, no iPads, no portable DVD players in ONE sedan for SEVEN weeks. It was a long trip and we definitely got on each others nerves BUT we made more memories than I can even begin to tell you about. We drove through the Prairies to B.C, down to Washington and Oregon, along the California coast to Nevada, explored the Grand Canyon and headed back north through the badlands of South Dakota.

I am forever grateful to my parents for planning such an amazing trip for us. This was also before the internet and hotels were booked by calling with your telephone and actually speaking to a human being. What a crazy concept. My parents tell me that every single hotel was booked before we even left. They had the entire trip mapped out and planned to the T. I’m sure it took months to plan.

Now that I have children of my own, we’ve taken many road trips, including back and forth to the cottage all the time. At this point I consider myself kind of an expert. I just returned home from a 4-day trip to Montreal with my three kids (solo parenting) and over all it was amazing!

Here are my top tips for a successful road trip: 

The week before. Organize your car activities. Go to the dollar store or superstore and pick up some new activities and toys. You wont regret it. New colouring books, crayons or pencil crayons (no markers,) stickers, maze books, kids magazines, Melissa and Doug pads, books, mess free colouring books from Crayola. For babies, maybe a new play cell phone or remote control (small enough to pack but lots of fun to push the buttons.)


The day before. The Car. Get the car ready. Gas, car wash, washer fluid, etc. So you will be 100% ready to hit the highway the next morning. The Food. Purchase the car food for yourself and the kids. Granola bars, crackers, fruit and veggies, raisins, little cookies, sandwiches, baby food packages. I know this is terribly bad for the environment, but if you can, use ziploc bags so you don’t have to store and wash containers for the whole trip.

The night before. Pack lunches and snack bag. Stopping for lunch could cause long delays. Or your kids may be napping when you’re hungry. (Never wake a sleeping child in the car.) Have your lunch ready to eat while you drive or stop and eat at the rest stop. It’s still quicker and healthier than waiting in line for fast food. And the faster you get to your destination the better. Don’t forget water bottles for all. Pack the car. No one likes standing around while someone packs the car. Get it done the night before after the kids go to bed. I organize the back seats the night before as well.

Timing. Choosing when to leave is key. Early is always better. Less traffic getting out of the city and kids are usually happier in the morning. Having said this, try to leave at least a few hours before your child’s nap time. This way they can play, eat and then sleep. Also, if you can leave on a Saturday morning it’s great – no weekday traffic.

Packing the back seat. Make sure each kid has there own toys/ games etc. If they are close in age, just get two of everything so they don’t fight. As mentioned above, pack the backseat the night before, so everything is ready and exciting when they get into the car. Make sure each child has a blanket and one stuffed animal for nap time. We have an activity tray (from Skip Hop) for them so they can colour and eat on it comfortably.

The morning of. Pack anything remaining that wasn’t packed the night before. Like the snack bag etc. Also, I’m old school, my kids don’t have DVD players or iPads,  but if you do – make sure they are loaded and ready to go. Did you know that you can download shows and movies from Netflix onto your iPad and watch them later when you’re not in wifi.?? Mind blown.

Stops. If you need to stop to rest or change drivers or a bathroom break – always try to stop at the EnRoute’s (truck stops) they are a lot faster than pulling over in a small town and driving around trying to find somewhere and then having to find your way back to the highway.

Have Fun. Turn up the music, sing, dance, laugh and enjoy! Ps. Don’t forget to look out the window, you may just discover something new.

Happy Road Tripin’


The Baby Show – April 1 & 2, 2017 At The Enercare Centre

Spend the day getting pampered, learning from experts, and shopping everything pregnancy, baby and toddler from top local and national brands! Be sure to stop by our Mommy Connections booth and say hello!

Mommy Connections fans can save $3 off the $15 ticket price with the online promo code MC2017, buy tickets to The Baby Show here.

Show Details:

Dates: Saturday, April 1, 2017 – 9am to 6pm and Sunday, April 2, 2017 – 10am to 5pm

Location: Enercare Centre, Hall D – Exhibition Place – 100 Princes’ Blvd., Toronto, ON, M6K 3C3

Ticket Price: $15 online (Save $3 with the promo code MC2017) and at the door (cash only). Kids 12 and under are free.

With over 130 national and local exhibitors, The Baby Show highlights include:

Massage Area

New and expectant moms can experience a free massage from Sutherland-Chan Massage School to help alleviate ailments related to pregnancy and caring for baby.

Learn how to be a green parent!

Exhibitors with a focus on health and wellness and natural/organic/eco-friendly products and services specifically for moms and babies will be recognized by “The Baby Show Green” decal in their exhibit space.

Seminar Stage 

Plan your visit and hear local and national parenting experts speak on a variety of topics ranging from immunization, pregnancy and birth-related worries to nutrition for parents and baby. All speakers are also available for a question and answer period after their talks. Visit our website for a show schedule.

Health & Wellness Mat

Take part in a prenatal yoga class and you could walk away with one of 20 yoga mats from Gaiam! Learn about infant massage, enjoy a fitness demo and how to recognize, treat and support post partum depression.

Safety 1st Product & Safety Stage

This stage offers an introduction to cloth diapering, car seat safety and babyproofing your home seminars as well as first aid for the first year!

Etsy Junior Area

A dedicated area on the show floor for select exhibitors showcasing handmade, local products from brands found on Etsy.

FREE Sleep Consultation

The KinderSleep team will be on hand to help you with your sleep concerns and answer your questions.

Rest Area and Reading Nook

A spacious area designed to encourage literacy and give you a perfect place to take a break. Sit down on a comfy chair and read up on pregnancy and parenting or read your little one a fun and colourful board book.

Speaker Series Highlights:

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis – Immunization

Taya Griffin – How to get off to the best breastfeeding start

Lianne Phillipson – Starting solids with your baby

Ann Douglas – Top ten pregnancy & birth-related worries

Margaret Wallis-Duffy – Baby massage & millenial mom toolbox

Dr. Sarah Mikeler – Ideal fetal positions for an easier birth

Association of Ontario Midwives – Overview of midwifery care

St. John Amublance – First aid essentials in the first year and beyond

I have been trying for years to master the art of eating out with children and not wanting to kill someone by the end of the meal. Sometimes we have a great time and sometimes we curse ourselves for going out. But overall meals are getting easier and more enjoyable. Here are my key tips:

State of the Children

The children must be hungry. Not hangry (angry because they are so hungry), just hungry. No snacks before dinner and certainly no sugar. They can’t be sick or teething or overtired. All the pieces must fall together to make dining out successful.

Restaurant Selection

Choose well. (The second part of this guide will assist you in the selection. Coming very soon.)


Eat at the kid’s regular dinner time. We go for “seniors dinners.” We are at the restaurant and seated by 5pm along with the seniors and the late-lunchers who are just leaving. But it works.

Make it Snappy

This isn’t a three course meal kinda meal. Sorry. Small glass of wine or bottle of beer, main, done. If you order a starter, just remember they will likely bring that starter along with the kid’s meals. Leading to my next point….

Food Timing

Do not have the kid’s food come early. When the well-intentioned waiter asks if you want the kid’s food to come early say NO. Otherwise the kids will eat and be done by the time your food comes and you won’t be able to enjoy your meal.

Get the Bill Early

Again, sorry but this could potentially save you from end-of-the-meal meltdowns. When things get crazy you can run for the door. Other restaurant goers will also thank you for this one.

High Chairs
So many times we’ve walked into a restaurant that didn’t have a high chair and thought we could handle it. Wrong. It’s the worst. They need to be seated securely in a high chair at all times.  Booster seats with no belts don’t work either. Booths, forget it. You will have greasy little hands all over you. Highchair all the way. This is now a restaurant deal breaker for me. If they don’t have one, it’s a date-night restaurant.

Pack a Bag

Think quiet activities. The restaurant atmosphere is usually loud and can be over stimulating for little ones. They don’t need noisy toys on top of that. I suggest, crayons, colouring books, STICKERS, books and magazines. Call me old-school but I don’t believe in electronics in restaurants. It may be more work to entertain the kids but teaching them to enjoy a family meal together is really important to me. And at 15, my oldest knows not to use his phone at the table. Breakfast to dinner. House rule.

Backup for Babies

Cookies. I always have a little bag of animal crackers or cookies to keep them happy for a few minutes longer at the end so you can finish your meal. Another tip for older babies.. if the restaurant offers plastic cups with lids and straws for kids, ask them to bring the baby one with some ice in it. Shaking it and chewing on it will give you at least 10-15 minutes of entertainment. Gold.

Have Fun
In our house, eating out is still a treat. Get them excited and tell them how special it is. When I was a kid, we never ate out. We were occasionally taken out for ice cream after a school concert or graduation but rarely for a meal. And this was when birthday parties were still done at home with a projector rented from the library. Yep times have changed. But that doesn’t mean our kids can’t have the same appreciation as we did and still do.

My guide to the best restaurants in town will be out soon. Stay tuned.

Until then, bon appétit!

15 years ago today I embarked on the most exciting and terrifying journey of my life, becoming a mother for the first time. After 9 months of pregnancy I thought I was truly prepared for what was ahead of me. In hind sight I’m not sure we are ever fully prepared for this momentous journey. No matter how young or how old you are, words can not prepare you for the heart stopping, breath taking, all encompassing love that is felt when you hold your little baby for the first time. I’ve never felt so much joy in my entire life. Those precious few hours when you are getting to know each other without the worry of feeding or bathing or schedules or any of the concerns that come in the following days – are pure magic. Like a dream come true. You are in a bubble of happiness that nothing can break. Your body is traumatized but in those few magical hours it doesn’t matter. It’s euphoria. Intense happiness. Love. 

I have my son to thank for where I am today. He saved me. He came along at a time in my life when I feel like I needed him almost as much as he needed me.  We’ve grown up together and I am a better person because of him.

And as for my son, I couldn’t be more proud of the man he’s becoming. He’s caring, kindhearted, empathic and generous. He puts other people’s needs in front of his own and he genuinely cares about me and his family. I raised him to be a good man, a pro feminist and passionate about what he cares about. He’s a good friend and a good person. It doesn’t matter how old you are when you have kids, what matters most is the love you show them and the life you give them. 

Happy Birthday to my first love, Nathaniel. 



Tree Lighting in Towne Square

Friday November 18th – 7:00pm-9:00pm
(Keep in mind – the tree lighting doesn’t happen until later in the evening)

Oakville’s Santa Claus Parade 
Saturday November 19th – 9:00am Rain or Shine

See route map below; (Keep in mind – Trafalgar Road is currently closed for construction)

Santa in The Square
Saturday November 26th – 2:00pm-4:00pm
Share your Christmas wish list and get your photo taken with Santa in the magical setting of Towne Square, with it’s beautiful Christmas tree, music, holiday treats and more for all ages to enjoy. Photo’s with Santa are free! 

Wagon Rides with Santa & Carolers
Every Saturday & Sunday from November 26th to December 24th – 1:00pm-4:00 pm
(Pick up in Towne Square)

Santa at Oakville Place 
Santa Arrives on Saturday December 3rd to Friday December 24th 
Monday – Friday 10:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm
Christmas Eve – Friday December 24th * By appointment only*

I’m so excited about the launch of the new Click & Collect program at the Real Canadian Superstore North Oakville! An online shopping tool that allows you to shop at home and pick up at the store. You don’t even have to get the kids out of the car. Your personal shopper will bring the groceries outside for you.

Come along with me and check out this awesome new service;

My first thoughts: this is going to save me so much time and energy! With a baby and a toddler, grocery shopping can be so time consuming and stressful. Can’t wait!

Highlights from the Website:

Flyers/Sales. You can quickly browse the weekly flyers and add items to your cart.

The “Regulars” Section. All of your regular items are saved here. If you’re like me and you buy the same items week after week this is amazing. It’s so easy to find your favourites!

Sorting and Searching. Searching for specific items has never been easier for people with food allergies. I was looking for granola bars for my son who has a life-threatening peanut allergy. After searching “granola bars” I had the option of sorting by category, peanut free, gluten free or organic. Genius!

PC Plus Points. After you log in and create your account you have the option of easily linking your PC Points card. So you can continue to collect points when you shop online.

Service. As Murphy’s Law states; when a parent sits down at the computer, one or more children will need something. Always. So in the middle of my order I needed to stop and I wasn’t able to return for at least an hour. I was happily surprised when I came back and my order was still there and I didn’t have to start again. Time saver!

Pick Up:
I arrived at the store, parked in the specially marked spots and called the number on the sign. Within 5 minutes my groceries were in my car. This will be even more convenient in the winter. I ordered everything from freshly sliced deli meat to diapers to toothbrushes to organic bananas.

And just like that, my life became a little easier 🙂

Thank you Real Canadian Superstore!

Please see a coupon code below:


Real Canadian Superstore North Oakville would like to offer all Mommy Connections Oakville families a $10.00 coupon on a Click & Collect order!        Use this code at the check out: MOMMY10

*This $10 dollar off voucher (the “Offer”) is only valid when you spend $50 or more, before applicable fees and taxes, on regular price merchandise, in a single transaction made online at www.superstore.caVoucher is valid only at Real Canadian Superstore North Oakville (201 Oak Park Drive). Voucher code must be entered during checkout to redeem and excludes purchase of tobacco, alcohol products, prescriptions, phone cards, lottery tickets all non-participating third party operations and any other products which are provincially regulated or as we determine from time to time. Offer is one-time only, cannot be combined with any other coupons, discounts or promotions and excludes previous purchases. Offer expires September 30th, 2016. We reserve the right to cancel any order due to unauthorized, altered, or ineligible use of discount and to modify or cancel these promotions due to system error or unforeseen problems.  ®/™ The trademarks and logos displayed are trademarks of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

Looking Beyond Survival And Actually Enjoying Summer! 

There has been a lot of talk about how to survive summer with our kids. I’m here to give you some tips about how to actually enjoy the summer with your kids! I can’t promise it will be easy or fun all the time BUT I can give you some real idea’s on how to make the best of it!

1. Chill out 
Spending the day at home with the kids playing in a blow up pool will equal the same amount of fun for them as going to a splash pad! Don’t feel guilty if every day isn’t a big deal. Take it way back to the 80’s – spend some days doing nothing. Having fun in the backyard, riding bikes, playing at the park and maybe going for ice cream. Who am I kidding, with a toddler and a baby – that’s a jam packed day.

2. Dining out 
This genius idea was given to me by my good friend Randi. If you have toddlers and babies you know how chaotic it can be to eat out. These days we go for senior dinners, meaning, we are at the restaurant by 5pm to avoid meltdowns and crying babies. To avoid the stress and chaos try this: Go to the restaurant (patio’s are the best) and order food for the kids and just drinks for you and your partner. Let the kids eat, you have a drink and enjoy being out in a social setting and then order your dinner to go. Go home and put the kids to bed and enjoy a quiet dinner with your partner. You still get to go out, you don’t have to cook and it’s less stressful!

3. Play Dates, Outside!
Plan to meet your friends at the park. Pick up lunch on the way or pack something at home. Bring a blanket and just hang out. Oakville is amazing for this because you can park yourself by the water and you have the best view in town. Plus, it’s a calm environment for babies.

4. Holidays 
We all want to get away in the summer. If for no other reason than a change of scenery! If you are off on Mat Leave you know what I’m saying. Think about what works best for your family. Cottaging is awesome for young families. If you don’t have one of your own, rent one. For a whole week. Let the kids play on the beach and swim and keep it totally low key. Minimal stress for everyone is the best.

5. 80/20 Sleep Rule 
Jamie from Goodnight Sleep Site Halton, teaches us about the 80/20 sleep rule. “80% of the time you protect your child’s naps, bedtime and sleep environment, and 20% of the time you “live life”.  It’s a great reminder that although our kid’s sleep schedules are very important, once in a while we have to bend a little and have some fun!

6. Nostalgia 
I get nostalgic every single summer. Remembering the wonderful summers of my childhood. My mother was a teacher and was off all summer. My sisters and I didn’t go to camp, we went to the cottage or we took road trips. Including a 7 week trip across Canada and the US, all the way to California and back. 2 adults and 3 kids in a Ford Taurus for 7 weeks….. This idea might not be for everyone. Try to think back to your favourite summer memory and take your kids there and make some new memories with them.

Sometimes we need a reminder to just let loose and have fun with our kids. My daughters laughter is so contagious it’s hilarious and I often wish I could hear more of it. So this summer, have some fun with your kids! Laugh, stay up late, play your favourite songs, have a dance party or two, eat well, stay out in the sun and swim! Let them run around naked, play board games, and make treasure hunts! Encourage them to play outside by themselves, let them take naps in the fresh air and give them a break from all the technology and they will have the best summer ever and you will have fun too! Ps. don’t forget about the farmers markets – let them sample everything!!
Have a wonderful Summer!



(Written by a Torontonian who moved to Oakville)


My family and I moved to this beautiful town a year and a half ago from Toronto. These are my top observations.

First of all, it’s a Town not a City. Which basically means you just put Town in front of everything instead of City. Example: Town Hall vs City Hall. Town Councillors vs City Councillors. The advantage; smaller population, higher potential for your voice to be heard and stronger sense of community.

Driving. When driving in Downtown Oakville, beware of people crossing the street at any given time. Here in Oakville people just pop out of nowhere to cross the street. And I don’t mean jaywalking, they just walk out and stroll across the street at their own pace. So, slow down and let them cross. Speeding up only makes them walk slower. And when you feel like crossing, don’t worry about walking to the light, just stick your stroller out and walk. (Carefully of course)

Neighbours. Be prepared to have the nicest neighbours ever. I had cookies delivered, Christmas gifts given, party invites and many well wishers when we moved in.

The lake. In my opinion, one of the best parts to living here. I’ve written about the benefits before, but I’ll say it again, living by the water is known to have health benefits and also reduces stress!

The people. They say “Hello!” All the time! Everyday! So join in, say hello to everyone you pass on the sidewalk, it’s really wonderful.

A sense of community. I have never experienced such a sense of community as I have since I moved here. The community has open arms so embrace it! For such a large town, it’s amazing how everyone knows everyone.

The Mall. It’s getting better. Pusateri’s is coming soon so….. it must be getting better. Right?

Burlington. Our neighbours to the West. My suggestion, give them a chance. My first instinct when I moved here was to always run back to Toronto. (Which I mostly still do) But it’s not always the best option. Burlington has tons of great stuff to offer so check them out. Is everyone aware that there is a MEC in Burlington?! No more driving all the way downtown to King Street and getting stuck in traffic?! Amazing.

The Highway. This far west the Gardiner is actually called the QEW. (I still call it the Gardiner)

Toronto. From Trafalgar and the “QEW” Sherway Mall is only a 15 minute drive. If you are trying to decide whether or not to leave Toronto and move here, just know that Toronto is only a hop, skip and a highway drive away.

Niagara. Also just a hop, skip and a highway drive away, Niagara. So take advantage! Niagara-On-The-Lake is a lovely place to visit in the summer. And bring a picnic! A relaxing and “easy” option with kids.
Cheers to Oakville!

ps. Don’t forget to say “hi” if you see me around town!

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