Update- Lil’ Bean n’ Green (I have been there now)

Last Monday was a really crummy day, raining and gloomy. My mum and I HAD to get Buds out of my parents house before he tore up the joint.

We went over to Lil’ Bean n’ Green and it saved my sanity!

My mother and I both loved it there, as did my little man. It has the same cozy atmosphere as Smock (see my previous post) but I actually prefer it as it has a large enclosed play area for kids. There is an indoor “tree house” and lots of toys and books for a wide variety of ages. There are also lots of parenting books for the grown ups to peruse while the little people are occupied.
The back area of play space is dedicated to babies under one year of age and when I was there, there was a circle of new mums and their infants hanging out in a circle back there (the cafe provides complimentary nursing capes!)
There is a nice menu, good coffee and yummy muffins (the same ones most of the best independant coffee shops have).
There is a $5 charge for your child to play (there is a sibling discount) but it was completely worth it, in my opinion.

April Cook, the owner, is lovely and sent me photos for this post (below) as I forgot my phone at home.

Here is the website again: http://www.lilbeanandgreen.com/

She does birthday parties on weekend afternoons and they sound awesome. Contact her for more details.

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My favorite lullaby for Ian

When I was little, my mother sang this to me and I now sing it to Ian almost every night. I needed a little reminder of the words to all the verses, so I looked it up.
I am posting the lyrics and a link to a youtube video for the tune.

Also, here is a Walt Disney clip talking about the author of the lyrics, Eugene Field
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPxBXzf9W0M

Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod

Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod, one night sailed off in a wooden shoe;
Sailed off on a river of crystal light into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going and what do you wish?” the old moon asked the three.
“We’ve come to fish for the herring fish that live in this beautiful sea.
Nets of silver and gold have we,” said Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song as they rocked in the wooden shoe.
And the wind that sped them all night long ruffled the waves of dew.
Now the little stars are the herring fish that live in that beautiful sea;
“Cast your nets wherever you wish never afraid are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three – Winkin’, and Blinkin’, and Nod.

So all night long their nets they threw to the stars in the twinkling foam.
‘Til down from the skies came the wooden shoe bringing the fisherman home.
‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed as if it could not be.
Some folks say ’twas a dream they dreamed of sailing that misty sea.
But I shall name you the fisherman three – Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod.

Now Winkin’ and Blinkin’ are two little eyes and Nod is a little head.
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies is a wee one’s trundle bed.
So close your eyes while mother sings of the wonderful sights that be.
And you shall see those beautiful things as you sail on the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three – Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod.

This is the closest version to the tune that I sing, but it isn’t quite right…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPxBXzf9W0M

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Before I was a grown up and a mother, I was a teenager

I will start out by saying that I LOVED high school. I know that probably puts me in the minority, but I went to a wonderful school and many of my friends today are friends that I have known for 15 plus years. These girls and guys are part of my past that have stayed with me as I have become a “grown up” and I am so glad that I still have them in my life.

One Friday evening recently, I got home and checked the mail and there was a hand written envelope in the very distinctive writing of my friend Laura, who I have known for (gulp) 20 years. Inside was a note card (from our school, no less) with a wonderful handwritten note and a bunch of pictures of a me from back in the day. It was so touching of her to take the time to send them to me and it really made me think about that time in my life. I think that we sometimes forget who we were before we had to think about paying the bills, vacuuming the house and feeding children but then I looked at the photos of this young kid (I really see a kid when I look at me at 17, now that I am… older) and think about how different I am yet how much of that girl is still part me now.

Before you ask me if I want some wine with my cheese, think about this… looking back at your high school self, what is the same and what is different about you and what about that time has really helped to define the person that you have become.

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Smock- the do over edition

Back in the early fall, in my post titled “Autumn is here- now what part one”) I mentioned a brief and unsatisfying visit to a Smock, a kid friendly restaurant on Roncesvalles Ave in Toronto. I said that I would go back again to give it another go and I did a week ago.

We went after Rainbow Songs in the late morning and it was not too busy, mostly mums like me who had come from various classes in the neighbourhood. The decor is super cozy, done in shabby chic white. There are lots of tables and even a hidden reading nook along the banquet where little people can settle down with a book while mum finishes her lunch in peace. That is really the key to Smock- mums can actually finish their lunch and coffee, even if their kid has long since escaped the table. No one looks at you strangely if your toddler is playing with one of the wooden toys provided in the middle of the floor. The staff is quite adept at dodging little legs and fingers.
The menu is select and mostly comprised of healthy soups, salads and sandwiches ( I had a delicious Salami Panini). They also provide a variety of healthy food options for children- Buds had pita, cheese and blueberries!

In contrast to my first attempted visit, I found the staff pleasant and helpful, but not in your face. The chef told me that they are hoping to get a liquor licence and stay open until 8PM for dinner in the future, but they are having some issues with people in the area worrying that parents will- and I quote- be “vomiting in the street”… really?
Going out for a 6PM dinner and having a glass of wine in the presence of your child does not make parents crazy!!! I hope they get the licence and not so that I can booze it up with Buds around, but so I can have a nice dinner out as a family where no one is giving me the evil eye when my kid gets tired and grumpy during dessert!!!

If you happen to be in the area, check out Smock!
For older kids there is a craft area in the back that can be used all day for a small fee.

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Kids music can be fun for us too!

Most children’s music is completely horrifying but my friends D and B, who have infants, introduced me to KidsTV123 on YouTube. Their favorite is The Planets Song, which I agree is super fun and catchy!

Check it out HERE

There are many more of their songs on YouTube and on their website www.kidstv123.com


I also like the children’s folk singer Elizabeth Mitchell, especially this song, “Little Liza Jane”

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Road Trip with a toddler- were we crazy?

We recently returned from a twelve day car trip through New York state en route to Montauk, Long Island…. with Buds…. in a car… for a long time.

Are we crazy, you may ask?  Maybe, but we planned for insanity and it worked, for the most part.

Here are our tips for traveling with a little one.

Toys Toys Toys

– I spent about a month collecting a bunch of inexpensive toys and books (think Value Village and garage sales) to entertain Buds in the car. I picked up a small laundry basket at the Dollerama and filled it with these toys for the backseat. This was a huge hit as all the toys were completely new to him and therefor the coolest thing ever.

– I also bought a tray that attaches around the car seat so that kiddo can play and eat while in the car. This is an awesome product and I hope to use it in the future but on this trip, my little man flat out refused to have in on his lap. Sigh. This meant lots of reaching around from the front seat to pick up fallen hockey books and tractors.

Snacks and More Snacks

I may not be winning any parenting award for this, but Buds was a real snacker while we were away.
Snacks are an easy way to not only distract a toddler who is nearing his breaking point, but also to make sure that he got some reasonable nutrients while eating from kids menus (AKA the land of fries and chicken fingers). The US has a great selection of organinc kids snacks available at practically every grocery store (I got them at Target, of course). I was able to pick up puffs and “slamos”, what the little man calls those squeezy tetra pack puree things. These were perfect for the car as they minimized the mess.
The brands that I like are Plum, Happy Baby, Earth’s Best and Annies.

Try (and I mean this loosely) to stick to your toddlers nap schedule

Remember “Sleep when your baby sleeps?”
On the road, try “Drive when your baby sleeps”.
We tried as best we could to plan all car rides over 3 hours to roughly coincide with Buds usual nap schedule. This would allow him some wind down time before going to sleep while still getting in a good 1.5 to 2 hour nap. This worked about 50% of the time. He usually slept but never for as long as we hoped and we had a couple of serious wake up freak outs.

When we were in one place for a few days, we were pretty good about his nap schedule and he was pretty happy to go down. One reason for this, I think, is that we made sure to make it as consistant as possible with home. We brought his pack and play from home, all of his sleep toys, before bed books and his Sleep Sheep. Surrounded by familiar things, nap times and bed times were pretty smooth.

A trip like the one that we took is never going to go exactly how you hope, no matter how military your planning strategy, so lots of patience is required. However, the adventures I was able to share with my two favorite guys wastotally worth the occasional aggravation.

Happy travels!!

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Getting your kid to eat

Buds is not a great fan of green veggies so I have had to get creative on how I get these incredibly important nutrients into his picky belly. I will admit I often use misdirection and subterfuge.

Here are two of my tried and true recipes both from Weelicious

Green Veggie Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup zucchini, broccoli, and/or cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • canola or vegetable oil

Preparation

  1. 1. Place the vegetables in a food processor and pulse to chop fine.
  2. 2. Add the chopped vegetables into a bowl along with the flour, salt, egg, basil and garlic powder. Mix to combine.
  3. 3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and place 1 tbsp of the batter into the pan for each pancake.
  4. 4. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.
  5. 5. Serve with marinara sauce or dip of your choice.

Accompaniments: Marinara sauce, Ketchup, or Mustard

 

 

Zucchini Muffins  (makes 12 large muffind or 24 mini muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini, shredded (about 2 small zucchini)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1.  Place the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  2.  Place the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.
  3.  Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir just until the ingredients are combined.
  4.  Pour the zucchini mixture into large or small muffins cups
  5.  Bake 15 minutes for small muffins and 20 minutes for large ones.
  6.  Cool and serve.

 

Weelicious is an AWESOME website for food ideas, from new eaters right up to the grownups in the house!

Happy cooking!!

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Toddlers and TV

We let our little guy watch about 20 minutes of Thomas the Tank Engine on Netflix each morning after he wakes up. This gives Himself and I a little time to get ourselves ready to start the day.
This is basically all the TV that he watches, but sometimes I think that this is only because we have our TV on the third floor, where he rarely goes (he plays in the living room)

My question is- How much TV does your one to three year old watch per day?

If you want to elaborate, please do so in the comments. No judgement- I am just really interested!

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merrily merrily merrily merrily…. life is but a….shoppe

I am back after an extended vacation and I am resuming my blog, so watch out for lots of posts in the coming days and weeks.

Now back to the matter at hand, which is one that all mothers are familiar with- shopping smart for the little ones.

My friend Moxie (she of the shabby chic fame from one of my earlier posts) has decided, after years of thinking about it, to take the plunge and open a consignment kids store. She has decided that she will open Merrily Merrily online first to test the waters and then open a bricks and mortar store sometime next year in the Leslieville area of Toronto (an neighbourhood that is lousy with kids and their cool parents).

This will be no ordinary consignment store (on or off line)- Moxie is very particular about what she is willing to sell so everything is in near perfect condition. She also sells handmade items created by local mums, so if you are a crafty lady, contact her at moxie@merrilymerrily.ca about selling through her.

The prices are amazing, the stock rocks and with everything you buy and sell, you are supporting local “Mompreneurs”! Oh, did I mention that she also plans on doing good for the community? Anything that is donated that is not quite perfect enough to sell or anything that fails to sell in store will be donated to a local women and children charity.

The site went live TODAY so check it out! www.merrilymerrily.ca

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