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Keeping Busy and Having Fun!

29 Oct

Fall is here in full force and even though we are sad that Summer is over we are taking Fall head on! September has always felt somewhat of a New Year and fresh start for me. Back to a routine with scheduled activities and classes, my business really picks back up, we start looking at the year ahead for travel plans and commitments, etc.

With a new fabulous nanny three days a week who likes to take the children to activities and with our regular scheduled activities on the other days we definitely needed a calendar this September to keep track of where we are going and when!

Here are some of the fun activities that Dominic is participating in throughout the Ottawa area……

1. Ontario Early Years Family Literacy Centre
This is a wonderful place that Dominic has been enjoying as part of his every Monday morning routine. They go to the one at Cambridge school. Set up like a preschool or kindergarten classroom children are welcome to go around to various stations or free play. For ages 0-5 and available 9-2 Monday to Friday it is enjoyed by many.

Swim lessons- With numerous swim lesson options with the City of Ottawa and Gatineau we decided to take part in both for twice the fun! Monday’s evenings Dom participates in a low ratio swim class. With only 3 children and one fab teacher it has been well worth the extra money!  Thursday mornings he also participates in a parent and tot swim class with our wonderful caregiver. The class is en francais and he has tons of fun.  Because Gatineau programs are soooo cheap (well in comparison to what we are used to paying in the past for other programs) we have also noticed that classes fill up very very fast. We were lucky to get in to a class!

Making Music Together – Tuesday mornings at the Old Town Hall is a popular spot for children ages 0-4. With the first class filling up they quickly added a second due to the demand.  Dominic enjoys play with instruments, exploring music and singing in songs.  According to our caregiver he also enjoys playing with the other children and sometimes flirting a little bit with another little girl!

Monkey Rock– Wednesday mornings the kids and I head over to Monkey Rock in the Glebe for 45 minutes of singing, dancing, moving, drumming, shaking and more!  Their are smiles on the kids faces the entire time and even little Bella really enjoys the class. This is a fantastic class for children of all ages.

Gatineau Library- The Gatineau Library offers a fantastic program for toddlers that Dominic has been enjoying for almost a year now. They enjoy 30 minutes of story time, a craft that connects to the story and then some songs and an activity. He always comes home with a wonderful craft, an extra colouring sheet to do with the story and excited about the stickers he has received.

Gymnastics– Jumping today mommy? Time for gymnastics? This is quite often a question heard in our home as we love the program at the Ottawa Gymnastics Club.  I have taken children to various gymnastics programs and centres and the one at the Ottawa Gymnastics Club in Westboro has been the best. Structured so the children are learning new skills while still having fun.

Soccer- who wouldn’t want to run around in a room with 2 year olds and a hundred soccer balls being kicked around?! ha!  This 45 minute program is held at an outdoor park on nice fall days and inside a community centre if the weather is not cooperating.  For under $40 this has been a program enjoyed by the whole family as its time for Dominic to socialize with other children, be active and have fun as we participate together.

We are already looking at Winter registrations (gah! Already….I know!!) and are excited for some new programs.  So what programs do you enjoy with your little ones?

Communicating with Baby

30 Mar

Families sometimes come up with their own lingo and words. Pacifiers can become “suces”, “paci”, “sucky”. Breastfeeding can become “nummies”, “numnums”, “boobies”, etc. But why not use, or use in conjunction with any “family words”, a universal language that many others in the world can also understand? Why not use a a way of communication that enables you to ask a questions or make a statement without making any noise at all? My family has done just that thanks to the PTPA Award Winning My Smart Hands baby sign language tools. I have had the opportunity to meet the wonderful Laura Berg, creater and mom extraordinaire behind the My Smart Hands business. We have been using sign language with our son since he was approximately 4 months old. At 10 months he now can sign for milk and gets extremely excited when we sign it to him. He gets excited and understands the sign for “eat”, “more”, and a few other signs all ready! This makes our job as parents a little easier as we have a way to communicate with him instead of letting our frustrations just rise. As my husband was rocking babe to sleep last night when he woke up a few hours after we put him to bed I was able to walk quietly to the door and sign for “milk” to see if he wanted me to bring him a bottle. By being able to use sign language I ensured I did not disturb them by making any noise, was able to see if my husband needed me to get anything for him and everyone knew what everyone was talking about. Not convinced that sign language can be taught that effectively to a baby? Check out this video with Laura Berg and her super cute daughter Fireese as she shows the world how easy and possible it is to incorporate sign language into your family life.

Daycare Dilemma

19 Feb

We decided to start calling around this week and put baby boy on a waiting list for subsidized Quebec Daycare.  At $7 per day the price is a steal in my opinion for what is still quality regulated daycare.  However, the word on the block is to not ever expect to get a spot at this price.

We have a lovely nanny who currently watches baby boy when I need to teach during the week. Other times the husband is home to watch him while I work in the evening.  The plan has always been that I would stay at home as much as possible to spend quality time with our children while they are young (because it goes by SOOOO fast!) and would continue to run my business.

Our hope is that by the time baby boy gets a spot (we are assuming in 2-3 years) we will have another child who will also require a spot.  Priority goes to siblings to ensure families are located within the same daycare.

So our search begins with phone call after phone call. There is a central waitlist for Gatineau but not all daycares are affiliated with this list.  Therefore we need to call other subsidized daycare centres separately.  I have decided for sanity purposes that I will begin a spreadsheet to keep track of who we have called and when. Most centres also say to call back in a few months time, either because they are so full they are not taking anymore for the waitlist or because they are unable to specify when they may be taking more children.

I have also heard rumours of people “sucking” up to childcare and daycare centres to get their child bumped up on the priority list. We know one individual who got her child in to subsidized daycare because somebody in their family was dating somebody at the centre.  As a former nanny I know it’s all about the schmoozing, the money and how much your family is loved, along with the political boundaries and line up of people waiting.  I have seen nannies be “poached” right at the playground for higher pay, more benefits, and less kids!  The reality is that this happens more than people may wish to believe.

The difference in daycare costs from Ontario to Quebec is CRAZY! especially for us who live in Gatineau and know many who have daycare in Ottawa closer to their places of work.  I know what I was paid as a nanny in Ottawa and it was a salary that was extremely precious.

We would really like to have D in a childcare centre.  We are not opposed completely to a home daycare but in my past experiences as a childcare provider I saw way too many home daycare providers lose their temper, become fatigued or not put full effort into taking care of the children.  Understandably so when you have nobody to relieve you for a break.  On the flip side of that I have also seen wonderful home daycare providers who I would love to have taking care of our baby boy but I do know they can come hard to find…..because they are always so full!

So what are your daycare dilemmas? Did you want one daycare and ended up going with another because of convenience or availability? Did you end up hiring a nanny because of cost and benefits with either one or more children at home? Anybody currently in Quebec using subsidized daycare? Thoughts? Experience?

**Here is the link for Monthly Advanced Daycare Subsidy Payments through Government of Quebec

Things We Like – Hush a Bye Babies

6 Jan

The babe and I have been participating in a stellar program that we had to share with you!  Hush a Bye Babies, directed by the wonderful Alice Davidson, programs are offered across the City of Ottawa. These programs fill fast! So fast that when I called to register for Fall 2010 they were already full so I immediately registered for the Nov-Dec session and Jan-Feb 2011. 

With a class packed with 20 wonderful parents and their babes we arrived for the 90 minute class.  I have never attended a class (except for the kids classes I teach, yes, shameless promotion!) where the babies are so attentive throughout.

We immediately begin with songs and rhymes, repeating each a few times so the parents learn the rhythm, words, etc. To my amazement they are songs and rhymes that I have never heard before, therefore adding to my repertoire of songs we already do together.  Alice joyfully leads us through songs for bouncing, dancing, laying down and more!  Mid way through the class we stop for a snack that Alice provides for all, usually a yummy treat and fresh fruit, and moms get to chat and meet new moms.

My little guy loves this class so much I am going to go ahead and sign up for the spring session very soon.  He bounces, laughs, babbles and his arms and legs move non stop throughout the 90 minute class.

As a caregiver I have attended hundreds of different playgroups, events and outings. This class gets 2 thumbs up from both baby boy and myself!

Check out the Hush a Bye Baby program here!

5th day of Christmas- Advent Calendar

14 Dec

In my Holiday Tradition post over at PTPA I explained that we were taking part in A Peek Inside the Fishbowl 25 days of Christmas.  I made red envelopes (well I bought them at a Staples) decorated with Christmas stickers and designs (from the Dollarstore!) and used cue cards to write the activity of the day on and place inside.  Black foam numbers were placed on the outside of each envelope.  I made the envelopes with the hope that I will be able to use them in the years to come.  I know as baby boy grows older he will be the one taking out the card to see what our surprise is for the day and am realistic that we will be making new envelopes as excited fingers pull on them 🙂

Here are our family activities for our 25 days of Christmas…..

1. Write a letter to Santa

2. Bake cookies

3. Visit War Museum (hubby has always wanted to go so I decided this would be a great time to include it!)

4. Tubes & Jujubes

5. Christmas decorations up around house

6. Walk around canal

7. Family Christmas movie (okay this one is more for the adults then a 7 month old!)

8. Walk to park

9. Visit  library

10. Go swimming

11. Children’s Museum

12. Make gingerbread house (post to come!)

13. Go for a drive at night to see all the Christmas lights

14. Family pyjama day

15. Get our Christmas Tree

16. Decorate tree

17. Go visit daddy at lunch

18.  Visit Santa at private Christmas party for friends

19.  Cosmic Adventures

20. Go for a drive to enjoy the Christmas lights

21. Visit Santa at the mall

22.  Take family Christmas photos

23. Go for a family snowy walk

24. Family snuggles and reading Christmas stories in bed

25. Enjoy today with family and friends 🙂 Santa came 🙂

Our Family 25 days of Christmas


What fun activities will you be doing with your family this holiday season?

Breastfeeding Cafe

28 Nov

Every Wednesday for the last 3 months, with the exception of one or two missed due to appointments, Dom & I have headed out to the Breastfeeding Cafe. The Breastfeeding Cafe is a welcoming place for mothers who breastfeed their babies. It’s a place to meet new women.  A nice atmosphere were you don’t have to worry if you have showered that morning, if you have bags under your eyes from lack of sleep, whether you have spit up all over your shirt, or feel like you might be judged.

The Breastfeeding Cafe was created by Susan Martensen, a DONA approved Birth & Postpartum Doula Trainer and is currently offered Wednesday’s at Milkface in Westboro.  There is no registration or sign up required, you just come and go as you can and wish. Have a breastfeeding question? Come on out and ask.  Want a place to relax, chat and feed your child comfortable? Come on out.  It’s a relaxed atmosphere that welcomes moms to enjoy a few hours over snacks, snuggles with their babes and other women.  There is a donation fee, recommended $5, to help cover the costs of snacks.  There is always yummy food!

So, what are you doing next Wednesday from 10:30-12:30? Come on over to Milkface in Westboro and I will see you there 🙂

Baby HealthPod Review

25 Oct

What busy parent would not love an organized place to put all their childs health information, including questions they have asked and had answered at previous medical appoitnments, what shots your child has had, a place to log all your prental appoitnments and tests, growth charts and family heath history? 

When baby boy was born I created a binder with some tabs and an envelope taped to it as a way to try to keep track of all the papers we were given, log his weight gain as we struggled through the first few weeks with breastfeeding and tracking appointments we had gone to and were booked to go to in the coming weeks.  It soon began to look like a tattered book as we took it places, shoved it in the diaper bag and tried to keep track of where we last left it.

Our lives became a little more organized with the help of our new Baby HealthPod as its divided into 6 essentail sections (Essential Information, Health Visits, Baby, Growing Up, Health History, Family Health) in a zippered binder that ensures you never lose a piece of paper because if you are like me sometimes I place a piece of paper inside with the intention of properly securing it once I get home and get sidetracked with another project 🙂  The pages can be replensished whenever you need more, ensuring that you truly can use your Health Pod for life.   This is a huge like for me as usually you have to buy the product again if you want to continue using it but space has been used up.  I also like the fact that you can add pages at anytime.   At 10.5″ x 7.5″ it is easy to carry around and put in the diaper bag to have access to when attending medical appointments.

With zippered pouches and pockets there is lots of space to place your next appointment cards, immunization records received from the medical staff, and anything else that may be contain important information for your child and family.  With a place to put a pen you are sure to always have one handy when you think of something last minute to tell your doctor, question to ask at next appointment, or your child’s current growth measurements.

The HealthPod is recommended by doctors and was guided by a team of medical professionals and this shows as its a well thought out system that makes keeping track of your child’s medical information in an organized manner.  My pediatrician also made the comment that it was nice to see a new parent look so organized and have all their information easily accessible.

Moving forward it would be a great added touch if you could personalize your HealthPod with choosing from a variety of colours, right now it comes in Green.  With a price point of $59.95 it is definitely a higher price point then other systems to place medical information and childrens info that you may find on the market.  This may not be a product I would have considered purchasing pre baby with lots of other products to buy as we prepared for his birth, but I will definitely be purchasing one for our next child.  This also would make a great shower gift.

Visit Health Pod Baby on Facebook & visit them on Twitter

GUESS WHAT?!  The wonderful people at Health Pod Baby have offered to give our readers $10 off the purchase of this wonderful product! Stock up now for your own family, upcoming baby showers and Christmas!  Use promo code DeGrace from now until November 3rd, 2010

Thank you to Health Pod Baby for sending me their well organized Health Pod.  This blog post is 100% my opinion and I have not been compensated for this post.