Review – Echinaforce Junior

Keeping Your Toddler Healthy This Winter

The first year of my daughters life, I felt like she was constantly sick. Nothing crazy that needed hospitalization or anything, but just a constant runny nose, head cold and cough; there were more than a few sicknesses that even required antibiotics. I remember one day having the feeling of “I just can’t take another sickness going through this house”. I thought the fact that I was an extended breast feeder meant that her body was packed full of antibodies working hard to fight off cold and flus; this was very much not the case for us. She ate well, slept well and we did everything we could (other than throw a bubble around her), and the sicknesses just kept happening.

The following year I was determined to take preventative measures to boost her immunity! I was not interested in spending another 6 months quarantining us from all the amazing winter activities, so I started my research. That’s when I came across Echinaforce Junior, echinacea tablets. Echinacea purpurea is known for its antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. I found it appealing as it was said to reduces cold and flu symptoms by 65% and cuts the need for antibiotics by 76%. I had taken echinacea as a child and remember my mom always talking about the benefits, so we gave it a try.

Almost instantly, we noticed that the sicknesses that reared their ugly head the year before, were kept at bay. Throughout the winter months, we had maybe one or two mild colds, but NOTHING severe that required us to stay at home. No big fevers and best of all, NO antibiotics. The winter was much more enjoyable and I was much more confident in taking her places, knowing we had this immune booster on our sides.

This year, we have maintained the same regime and she started taking Echinaforce once again this September. My partner and I just got over a two week debilitating head cold and cough and she scrapped by with a mild case of the sniffles.

Echinaforce comes in a small tablet that is grape flavoured, very easy for little ones to chew and also sugar and gluten-free. We give it to her nightly after dinner and disguise the tablet as her “candy” which she’s actually come to enjoy as her reward for eating a good dinner! We keep it in the kitchen and if I forget to give it to her (which lets face it, moms do), she has learned to ask for it! It has become incredibly easy to incorporate into our daily routine.

Keeping a toddler healthy in the wicked Winter months of Ottawa is hard. They put everything in their mouths, touch everything, often somehow end up on the floor… they are not the most “health conscious” individuals. I’ve come to learn that sicknesses are inevitable and though we practice proper hand washing (soooooo super important) it takes 2 seconds for your tot to touch something nasty then touch their mouths. I am not saying that this is the magic pill to keep all cold and flus away. But what I am saying is that for our family, it has substantially decreased the frequency, severity and duration of the illnesses that have formerly passed through her tiny little body. Echinacea Tabs helps your immune system stop germs before an infection takes hold and after seeing the benefits, we will undoubtedly continue giving her (and our next little one) to support us all through these difficult months.

https://www.avogel.ca/en/herbal-remedies/echinaforce-junior.php

 

The Little Mermaid was my favourite movie growing up and still remains at the top of the list today. However, as Ariel desperately longed to have legs to walk on land, I have always been eager to soar deep beneath the surface of the sea — perhaps this is what led me to become a Scuba Diving Instructor. Recently, there has been somewhat of a mermaid takeover in the media and pop culture, but it came as a surprise to find out that Ottawa actually has a Mermaid Academy! That’s right, at Aqua Mermaid, you can learn to swim like Ariel.

Aqua Mermaid is the world’s largest mermaid swimming school where people book mermaid swimming lessons, private events, celebrate special occasions or simply join for fitness. Families love bringing their friends and kids to Aqua Mermaid because of how fun and great of an experience it is. I brought my two nieces (ages 9 & 11) and nephew (age 6) to try out their fun beginning class and explore exactly how it feels to sport a mermaid tail and propel yourself through the water!

The class was held at the YMCA downtown, right in front of the Canadian Museum Of Nature. Upon arriving we were greeted by a super friendly instructor, Marielle (sounds a bit like Ariel doesn’t it?) Marielle explained what types of activities the class would hold and the outline for the hour we were there. She then gave each child their very own mermaid tail and explained how to wear and take care of their tails, then it was time to hit the pool for a quick swimming test to assess their comfort level in the water! Over the course of an hour she had them swimming laps in their tails first supported by floaties, then without, followed by a series of fun games and activities, finishing off with a photo shoot in the warm pool.

The kids were smiling the entire time and it was wonderful to see them try something new, that was equal parts fun and challenging!

Aqua Mermaid hosts group events (or have discovery mermaid swimming lesson for smaller groups) that range from 1 – 2 hours of mermaid fun. Every event includes mermaid swimming, time for photos and a dedicated mermaid coach that will teach you how to swim with a mermaid tail while playing fun games. If you’re looking for an awesome time, a unique experience and a challenging workout, definitely check them out!  Book today.

I am always on the hunt for fun and unique things to do with my toddler in the city of Ottawa. Because we live in Orleans and my little one doesn’t have a strong affection for the car, it’s imperative that I look for activities that are close to home. This Spring, we were delighted to have the opportunity to visit Orléans premier riding stables and the experience we had could not have been more positive.

When creating our most recent Traveling Tot program, I was beyond excited at the possibility of bringing our group to Queenswood Stables. Without having a background in horseback riding, or really any experience with these majestic creatures, outside of the occasional horse drawn carriage ride, or being a spectator at the Musical Ride, I had absolutely no idea what we were in for.

When we arrived, we were greeted by an extremely friendly and warm woman named Linda, who gave our Moms and Tots a glimpse of what their Pony Ride program was all about. Ranging from infant siblings to 4 years, each child and parent got something different from our experience. We had a tour of the stable and got to see many of the resident horses. Our children learned to brush the horses, and the kids each got to head out doors to ride on the amazing schooling ponies. In all of the activities we’d done this season, this was the one that had the kids both the most excited, while also calm and focused at being presented with such a unique experience. Their smiles were magnificent as each one took off on their horse; and the memory of that day will truly be imprinted in my mind forever.  Some mom`s last experience around horses was years ago and it was almost equally as enjoyable seeing the moms light up alongside their littles. The combination of a competent staff, amazing horses and calm vibe at the stable allowed for a unique experience as we explored this activity together.

After the each child took their turn on one of the horses, they brought out a big John Deere tractor for the kids to play on. It’s an amazing thing, watching 14 children climb, touch and pretend to drive a massive motor vehicle. The excitement of the day had them lined up to get their shot in the drivers seat (no one actually drove), but watching them was almost as enjoyable as their interaction with the ponies.

Queenswood Stables offers a Pony Ride program for toddlers – six year olds, as well as riding lessons (beginning at age 7+), activity days and Summer Camps! Spaces are filling for this summer so reach out to them today to find out how you and your child can have a truly magical experience with these gentle giants, and the amazing team of Queenswood.

http://www.queenswoodstables.com/camps-queenswoodstables/

 

 

A creative new way for little ones to have fun has just opened up in St Laurent shopping centre, and we could not be more excited! SPLAT is a locally owned Art Studio and Play Centre for all ages, that focuses on allowing children to develop and explore all forms of Art (Music, Theatre, Crafting and more! ) This week our Orléans Traveling Tots had the opportunity to visit SPLAT for the first of 6 field trips, and the place delighted both the children and mamas alike.

I turned my head for one second! Good thing they had a washing station!

We were greeted by their senior staff member Marie, who is warm, kind and has a genuine love of children. She walked me through the various sensory stations throughout the studio and explained the purpose behind each one. The stations included a sand table, an immediate favourite of all the little ones who entered. A sensory bin station complete with bins of buttons, feathers, beads and a unique colour sorting bin where children are given the task of colour coding fluffy balls. There’s a water station that was a personal favourite of my little one. Here she was given the chance to paint a baby doll, and wash off the paint using various tools — nail brushes, sponges, toothbrushes and different toys. They have painting tables, craft tables, a chalk board wall, and a percussion wall, where the children are invited to make as much noise as they please. They also have a beautiful play kitchen area complete with every dish, pot or pan a child could imagine. Finally, there’s a stage with a real microphone for karaoke, and a dress up area with costumes your little one can try on.

Sand tables were a huge hit!

If felt great to see our kids let loose, get messy, and explore in such a clean, safe and unique environment. Here they could be as loud as they wanted, as creative as they wanted and ultimately, spend hours in the same place and never get bored! The major BONUS was never having to worry about cleaning up their mess when they were all done!

To say this place is clean and tidy is an understatement. With so much going on you would assume there would be a mess everywhere, but their staff have an incredible way of keeping up with it, so much so that when the 14 children left, it didn’t even look like they’d been there. 

Although SPLAT is open to all ages, I would recommend that the ultimate fans would be children six and under. The team comes up with unique crafts of the week, which would mostly appeal to kindergarten ages and beyond. Our Tot group are all below 3 years of age and most opted out of sitting for a craft and just engaged in free play. 

SPLAT is now offering a loyalty card that gives parents five visits for $60 — that’s $40 in savings! They also offer Birthday parties, that will tailor a craft specifically for your little ones special day! Such a great thing for parents to consider as you can walk away, mess free!

We loved every minute of our experience at SPLAT and are so pleased that something so fun, creative and educational is available to our children. We know that by providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development. So we now have a place that our children LOVE and are learning valuable tools for navigating the world at the same time!

I can’t wait to put my loyalty card to good use!

Washing babies was such a hit!

This Fall our six week Mini Movers group was incredibly fortunate to be hosted by My Gym Ottawa. Nestled in the suburbs of Barrhaven sits this amazing space where babies, toddlers and children alike can run, play, learn and explore. Recently, a friend and I were invited to bring our daughters (18 & 20 months) to sample their Tiny Tykes/Waddlers class and I am so glad we did! Not only is this a great place for drop in free-play, but the classes offer educational components in a safe and exciting setting, perfect for curious little ones and parents alike.

The Space

My Gym features a soft, padded floor which makes learning basic gymnastics skills that much safer for your little one. The first thing I noticed upon entering the facility was the cleanliness. The play structures are made of wood and you can tell by looking at them that they’re impeccably maintained; all of the high quality equipment looks brand new. 

Their play structures are also taken apart and redesigned every two weeks which promises a unique experience for the child that visits often. This is a feature that can also be customizable to those renting the space for a birthday party.

The space features a rock climbing wall, play structure and slide, ball pit, various gymnastics obstacles, an area that features six detachable swings, specifically for babies and toddlers; a feature that my little one was thrilled about! It also boasts a very clean restroom facility complete with complimentary diapers, wipes and a diaper genie (if you’re anything like me and always forget to restock your diaper bag, this feature comes in VERY handy).

My Gym is bright, spacious and clean. It is the perfect size for children to run around and burn off some steam, while not being so big that the parent can lose sight of their little one.

The Classes

My Gym engages infants 6 weeks of age to children 11 years of age with fun and captivating physical/cognitive activities, music, songs and free play. Their classes are designed to help your child grow confidence and strength in a non-competitive and supportive atmosphere.

The teachers create a fun filled hour full of age appropriate activities where children will learn new skills, make new friends and have an amazing experience each week.

The (Tiny Tykes) class we participated in began with circle time and songs to get the little ones up and energized. Throughout the hour the little ones stretched, danced, and exercised their problem solving skills. After the opening circle time, we were sent for some free-play as the teacher set up various obstacles. When we regrouped, the first skill was to have our toddler do a supported back flip. My little one wasn’t overly keen on trying this and I loved the way the teacher both encouraged her, but also accepted that she wasn’t into it and supported her by offering a modified skill to try. Other skills included climbing through the different levels of a flat ladder, into a foam circle in the middle and jumping from a mat into a hula hoop — all the skills promoted strength building, coordination and spacial awareness.

My Gym classes are curriculum based, but do not have a set beginning and ending point so children are welcome to join at any time.

Membership

In order to take advantage of My Gym Ottawa, families must purchase a lifetime membership for a one-time fee of $75. This gives you access to the classes and drop in play as well as special discounts on Birthday Parties and special events. The membership can also travel with you as My Gym is a Global franchise.

Special Events

In addition to My Gym’s classes, they also offer Birthday Parties, Practice and Play (drop-in play), Summer, March Break and PD Day camps.They also offer the unique Parent’s Night Out, where Friday nights from 5:30-8:30 pm, parents can enjoy a night out while their children are having a great time running, climbing, playing and eating pizza! Finally, My Gym also offers their Mobile Program where they bring the gym to you! This is a great feature if you are a day care/child care provider looking for something new.

I feel very fortunate to have partnered with such a supportive establishment whose goal is To create an environment where all children of all abilities feel loved and supported so that their self-esteem and confidence can flourish.

If you’re in the Barrhaven area (or not), this place is a must on your list of activities with the little ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our programs, the topic of finding childcare is among one of the most popular discussions. Where to begin the search? Home vs centre? How do I know if it’s the right fit? What types of questions do I ask? The search can be overwhelming and in Ottawa, not always easy. This summer we were fortunate to have Kids & Company in Kanata, act as our host venue for the 6 week, Mom and Baby program.

Summer Mom and Baby Program

The centre is located in the booming area of Kanata South. Upon my arrival to tour their facility, I was immediately greeted by a team of incredibly friendly individuals. Their Director, Erin Savard, was welcoming, warm and professional while being extremely relatable as a mother.

The centre features floor to ceiling windows  throughout each classroom, that offer natural light and creates a bright and cheerful environment. What struck me first was that even in the midst of their daily activities, the centre remained so clean, a feature that I know is incredibly important to moms and families.

Another aspect that struck me as unique, was that each staff member adorned navy blue scrubs with the Kids & Company logo displayed on their shirt. I had never before witnessed this in a daycare facility and loved that I could tell exactly who was an employee of the centre. I felt this feature not only added to their professionalism, but helped me feel at ease as I could clearly define who was a teacher, vs who was a parent picking up their child.

Kids and Company Uniform

Kids & Company offers programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school aged children. Being a mom of an infant, I was eager to explore their baby room and sleeping quarters. At the time of my arrival, they were in the process of deep cleaning the cribs and mattresses and I was impressed at how thorough of a process this was; everything was deconstructed and sanitized. The babies were in the process of being served their lunch, which tickled my curiosity to inquire about their menu.

I was blown away not only by the KidCo menu, but their philosophy on nutrition. They have a full sized, professional kitchen on site where they cook all the food from scratch. Their menu is created by executive chef and Mother, Lisa Ruscica, who understands the importance of nutrition and goes above and beyond in creating an eclectic, child friendly menu with an understanding for allergies and intolerances. Never before had I considered dishes like “Chicken Pad Thai” or “fish tacos” to be served to children, but they do so in a way that inspires curiosity with food. A local mom who’s son attends day care at the centre explained that through his exposure to new foods at Kids & Company, he is no longer a picky eater and now has new favourites such as Buttered Chicken and Korean Bibimbap ( you can view the Kids & Company menu as well as featured recipes here.)

Dinning; Family Style

While continuing my tour we stopped in to the preschool room where I was able to observe the little ones in the middle of a craft that was designed to encourage sensory motor play. It was explained that the entire Kids & Company curriculum is centred around play based learning and that they feature different sensory building skills daily. Each activity serves a purpose has research behind it to support growth and development. Best of all, the kids seemed to LOVE what they were doing and each individual in these small class groups seemed to be getting ample focus and attention from their teachers.

At Mommy Connections we have worked with so many moms who have enrolled their children in one of the four Ottawa Kids & Company locations and each one has their own set of unique, positive reviews, from the centres ability to accommodate Nursing/ shift work schedules, to severe allergies, to their incredible Baby Signing program. After my initial tour, I felt confident that I would in fact enrol my own children in their program, but after having spent six weeks in the centre, I had zero doubts.

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