What Are The Odds?

whataretheoddsMonkey Monkey Music, lead by NYC based musician & educator Meredith LeVande, recently released its second children’s CD, What Are The Odds?. It’s a super fun collection of songs for the 2-7 set that the littles in your life are sure to love. Merideth’s voice & style are totally built for the young child to love, and the children who live in my home are no exception. Neither are their friends, actually. A living room full of kids grooving to “Air Guitar” is enough to make any mama’s heart swell, and now that they know that their air guitars are always with them they pull them out at the most hilarious of times!

Yet another great addition to our regular musical rotation!

Play and Learn Toys ~ The Way It Should Be

play-and-learn-toysAt times in the Canadian prairies it’s tough to find those great natural & open ended toys that many of us believe in(toys that allow children to play…and learn…without getting overstimulated or ingesting nasty chemicals)without paying insane shipping charges and customs fees. We recently discovered a northern Albertan company, Play and Learn Toys, that solves that problem for parents all over Canada. Owner Narissa Singh, a UNB Business graduate, has lived in northern Alberta for nearly ten years and struggled to find Canadian sources for quality toys for her own children. She has chosen to offer a super array of products from some great manufacturers known for their quality & safety, and runs her business out of her home since her tiny town doesn’t have retail space for a store.

Play & Learn Toys carries many products that I’ve seen on European sites and been curious about, so I was thrilled to see that they’re available in Canada now – and being from a mom-run business makes it even better!

My children are absolutely loving their new Stepped Pyramid ($54.99) from Grimms. It consists of a square wooden base filled with blocks in a variety of colours, sizes and versatile shapes. With an open ended toy like this, the possibilities for learning are endless. We now use them daily for imaginative building play and they’ve been castles, rocketships, dragons, post offices, houses and so much more. That’s the thing with great toys – they don’t do the imagining or noisemaking for you, so they can be anything at any time. Grimms’ products are made in Germany of wood and non-toxic colourings.

Another super product the Play & Learn Toys carries is Contina by Bamboo($29.99). This is not just another sets of blocks. Contina includes a rainbow of colors, black and natural finishes on 100 bamboo sticks which are small and lightweight for children 3 years and up. Combine colors, create a rainbow, stack lengthwise like dominos or pile them high for tons of creative fun. The possibilities are endless with Contina. It’s no wonder that Contina won the Best Toy award from Child’s Magazine.

Join Play & Learn Toys on Facebook.

Above and Beyond the 3 R’s

periwinkleWith Earth Day having just passed, there’s no better time than now to introduce you to the Etsy shop of Ruth Smith, a Winnipeg-based Canadian working mom of two, PeriwinkleDzyns. Ruth got tired of seeing all the obsolete electronic components go into the garbage at a local factory and was industrious enough to rescue them, combine them with her jewellery making skills and create her line of upcycled e-waste jewelery.

Her custom original geekery lanyard is the coolest geekiest. It’s 44″ total length (adjustable to your specification) and has a sterling plated chain around the back of the neck for comfort. It’s very sturdily made of new resistors (never in contact with solder or circuit boards) that have been rescued from going to the landfill. It comes equipped with a 0.75″ key ring for your keys, pass card or whatever you need to have within reach. She makes some cool jewelery that’s less function and more fashion as well. I love this one and this one.

Another cool find in Ruth’s shop are the vintage pinback 1.25″ buttons made by her daughter Kendra. She uses words from vintage dictionaries and thesauri to create these cute accessories which she sells for just $2 each, keeping the books out of the recycle bin, increasing her vocabulary and learning basic business skills all at the same time. What a great venture for an obviously smart little girl!

We love a find that allows you to have it all – shop online, support a mom, support a kid and protect the earth.

Cart-Stopper Gives Parents a Second Set of Hands

cartstopperHave you ever found yourself putting groceries in your car only to turn around and find the cart rolling away? It’s happened to me more times than I care to remember! I seem to find that one spot that has just the slightest incline and my cart won’t stay put. Oh and forget about the windy season…I lived in an area with really high winds that would blow the cart across the parking lot…it isn’t fun when you have your kid in the cart and you’re trying to chase it down when the wind is blowing! I got in the habit of hooking my foot around a wheel just to hold it in place.

Leave it to a mom to come up with a solution to the “run away cart” problem! Dyanne Houlihan put her son in a grocery cart and turned around to get her other son out of his car seat when someone yelled to her that her cart was rolling away. The cart hit a car that was waiting for a parking spot; thankfully her son was ok, but the cart could have flipped over or been hit by a car. That day she went home to find a solution and ended up developing the Cart-Stopper.

The Cart-Stopper is like having an extra pair of hands. It is very simple to use – it attaches easily with a suction to the side of your vehicle and the other end hooks through the cart. It’s small and light enough to store in your purse, diaper bag, or just keep in the trunk of your vehicle. At just under $10 it is definitely affordable and gives you that peace of mind. It’s nice to not worry about your cart rolling away with your child in it! -by Michelle

Is that a Bug in your hair? (If it’s not, it should be.)

bugalugI am pleased to announce that approximately a week and a half ago my daughter grew some hair.

Like anything, there are positives and negatives about that. The great thing is that she can wear her fabulously fantastic Bugalug barrettes in the tuft on top of her head, but the bad news is that she’s getting closer to telling me to “Just back off and get your own accessories, Mom!” I admit it – I’ve been wearing her clips from Bugalug for weeks now. But I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on them so they must not look too bad on a grown woman.

Bugalug clips are based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and are designed with an innovative non-slip grip like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s a silicone type grip – and it works! The clips stay in both my daughter’s hair and my own. The clips are also glue free and can withstand the washer and dryer and never get bumpy with glue like many do.

I was most impressed with the quality of Bugalug clips. Everyone’s next door neighbour makes clips these days, but Bugalug clips stand out from the rest as some of the finest I’ve ever seen. There are no raw ribbon edges visible and the ‘crafts-woman-ship’ is worth every penny of the…oh wait – they’re only $4!

She’s not yet old enough for headbands, though, so I don’t have to share those for a while. At their new longer length of 26″, they fit any head and are fully reversible and adjusted via plastic toggle. They’re available in tons of gorgeous ribbon selections.

Bugalug is so concerned with safety and quality that they’ve declined producing the baby clips that many of their customers are asking for (after lots of research) simply to reduce the chance of a child choking on a Bugalug clip. That’s commitment.

The New Parent Brain

Through the fog of the newborn phase and into toddlerhood, many parents (me, anyway) have a hard time remembering even the most basic of tasks. Forgetting to eat and drink is common during new parenthood. Sooner or later, we all remember and it’s not such a big deal. Those basic baby care tasks are often just as hard to keep track of but are a much bigger issue if you forget. There were times when I wished I had a portable brain unaffected by the crazy hormones and sleep deprivation.

itzbeenThe Itzbeen baby care timer from Coast Innovations is one baby gadget I wish had entered the market before my son was born and one I’ll be using for any newborns in my future without a doubt. Invented by new parent Greg Sheldon and his wife when they had trouble remember how long it had been between feeding and changes, the Itzbeen’s function far surpasses it’s small price of $25. What do we love about it? Everything!



  • It’s compact, lightweight and has a belt clip so you can easily carry it with you.
  • It has a soft night light with auto-shutoff.
  • It has four timers, for feeding, changing, sleeping and an extra that you can use for anything you like. We use it for timing between giving our son teething tablets.
  • Each of the timers has an optional alarm. If you need a reminder to give medication or even feed your baby, set the timer an an alarm will sound when time’s up!
  • For nursing mothers, there’s a left/right switch at the bottom to help you remember which side you last fed your baby from. No more safety pins! (At first glance, I questioned the picture of the bottle on the feeding timer, but when I saw the breastfeeding picture at the bottom beside the left/right switch, I was very impressed. Something for everyone!)
  • There’s a backlight on the control panel making it easy to see in the dark, but it’s not bright enough to wake a sleeping child.Even at ten months in, the Itzbeen has been wonderful for us. It’s no longer panic inducing if I forget to change our baby or forget what side he last nursed from, but it’s nice to know without a doubt how long Itzbeen between naps, snacks and medication administration.The Itzbeen is a TOP highly recommended product. Trust me – you want this! See the store locator for online and retail resellers.