May 18th, 2013
Planning a family holiday with lots of day trips? Here are three packable items that allow you to be prepared, without the bulk.
Hershel’s new Packables range allows you to travel with a variety of bag options. Featuring a duffle, daypack, or tote that all fit into a small pouch, you can whip them out before a day of sightseeing, or at the airport when you’ve stocked up on wine from the duty free. From $9.99 at Herschel.
If you prefer packing your own meals on holiday, Lunchskins are the perfect companion. The reusable snack bags mean you can travel light, but with the equivalent of 20 tupperwares. They can hold fruit, sandwiches, or treats, and are easy to rinse out in a hotel room. From $8.49 at Rasberry Kids.
The nostalgic Claude Klassic K-Way is a reminder of when we were kids and proudly wore our parka tucked into a little bag around our waist. Featuring a variety of prints and a size range from 12 months to teens, this is an absolute must-have when you are out and about anywhere that might greet you with a downpour (Vancouver, ahem!) $54 at K-Way. http://k-way.ca
—Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
April 27th, 2013
OK, so the ride may still have training wheels, but that's no reason why it can't make some noise.
There's a Dring Dring bike bell, created by Montreal artist Annie Legroulx, for every type of kid.
For the sportster, there's a soccer ball, for the budding DJ, a vinyl record, and for the animal lover, a turtle.
Now just mind your language when she tries to cut you off.
$24 at Walrus, 3408 Cambie St., 604-874-9770 or shop online at www.dringdring.ca
April 19th, 2013
When your little one asks if his apple juice is organic and his animal crackers fair trade, you know you've got a little green machine on your hands. Herewith, 5 eco-friendly products that the entire family can feel good about:
An obsession amongst the VitaminDaily.com moms, Mini Mioche sustainable clothing line is designed and made in Toronto and features pared down yet stylish basics - a mini version of what you would wear - in an array of sweet neutrals, never a cartoonish pattern in sight. Fabrics are coloured with eco dyes, packaging is minimal and fair wages are paid to all involved. We love that the clothing lasts and that the basic tees are unisex enough in style to be passed down to the next little boy or girl. From $25 at www.minimioche.com
Not only can your children sip water or fresh pressed juice from their phthalate free, lightweight, completely recyclable SIGG bottles, but now, just in time for Earth Day, they can also save one sq. meter of Panamanian rainforest with the purchase of each specially designed Sigg bottles for CUIPO, a social enterprise focused on rainforest conservation. Ditch the plastic for good and help diminish deforestation – all in one sip. From $17.99 at www.mysigg.com and at select Whole Foods Markets nationwide.
Expand your horizons beyond melamine or even bpa free plastic plates, with the smartly designed Brinware plates. Fashioned from durable tempered glass that does not break easily (even on a tile floor, trust us!), each piece also has a flexible food safe silicone cover that fits snugly around the bottom of each plate, offering extra cushioning from slippery hands, as well as a pop of kid friendly colour that allows the striking prints screened onto the back of each plate to emerge. Ideal for a toddler and up. At www.lussobaby.ca and ttps://www.crocodilebaby.com
Designed in Canada by a busy mom of 3, the SoYoung line of PVC and pthalate free cooler bags are cute enough for your kids but stylish enough for Mom or Dad. Heidi Klum and daughter Lou are fans. Pack their snacks in the insulated bag when you’re out and about, or use one to tote your own healthy, made-at-home lunch to the office. www.soyoung.ca
Fashioned from recycled newspaper, these colourful O’bon pencils last 2-3 times longer than traditional wooden pencils because the leads are better protected. They also manage to inspire awe for the wild in your child, with each pencil showcasing a different animal that corresponds to a particular colour. We love their bright hues. From $2.50 at www.lavishandlime.com
March 29th, 2013
Halfway through Easter weekend and still not started decorating eggs? If you’re the type of home that doesn’t have a preschool’s worth of craft supplies in the cupboard, here are a few options that only require basic household goods. And eggs of course, lots of eggs.
Almost everyone has a Sharpie pen lying around, so these gorgeous doodle eggs will be a cinch. From Alisa Burke.
These bumblebees require a few steps, but don’t require many supplies: coffee filters, tape, markers, glue, fishing line, and egg dye (use Kool-Aid or food colouring as alternatives). The pipe cleaner tail can be optional, if you don’t have any handy. From Homemade Serenity.
Create these beautiful striped eggs using only elastic bands and egg dye. From Better Homes and Gardens.
Dig some thread out of your sewing kit and create these lovely thread-wrapped Easter eggs. If you’re short on time, skip the dyeing, use a few different colours of thread on a white egg and voila! Rainbow thread eggs. From Martha Stewart.
If pastels aren’t your thing, then try making these rainbow eggs using food colouring and vinegar. They did say brights were back in fashion for spring, right? From No. 2 Pencil.
—Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
March 22nd, 2013
Cheap chocolate is one thing, but what if the Easter Bunny left something lighter for your little egg-hunter?
Like, say, a White Rabbit of England lamp. Made in Britain of bone china, this little creature’s friendly shape would make for a very hoppy Easter. And the glow it casts would make for very peaceful nights.
It’s perfect for somebunny special. —Kelsey Dundon
$120 at Leuie.com
March 9th, 2013
Toddlers love to “help," and we don’t have the heart to tell them that throwing the laundry across the room isn’t “putting it away.”
But when they want to assist with cooking, things can get tricky. Balancing on a stepping stool while reaching across for a knife usually ends in a tumble. That’s why we splurged on a Learning Tower, which can be best described as a scaffolding for your toddler. This sturdy structure sits flat against the counters, and allows your little ones to participate in the cooking without the risk of falling over. They are contained, high up, and out of harm's way.
More "helping" and hopefully, less handprints on the fridge. —Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
The Learning Tower, US$199.99 from www.littlepartners.com
February 16th, 2013
It's been such an epic flu season, it may be time to call for back-up.
To shore up our immune system, we’re gulping down omega-3 via NutraSea’s range of flavoured fish oils, which can can be added to cereal, juice, or taken as is. The kids’ oil has a bubblegum flavour (200ml, $21.99), or give them a quarter dose of the adults versions (and take one for yourself!) Our favourite is the apple flavour fortified with Vitamin D (200ml, $28,99).
Which, as you may recall, we are supposed to get from the sun. Unless you live in Canada. —Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
At your local health food store and online at https://shop.ascentahealth.com
February 9th, 2013
Taking your kids to Paris? Read this first! Or, “How do you say umbrella stroller in French?”
Get your bearings with day passes for the BatoBus, sightseeing boats that stop every 15 minutes along the Seine so you can hop on and off at all the major monuments ($15 Euros/day). It’s the best way to get the pretty and sprawling Jardins Des Plantes with its Menagerie (the oldest zoo in the world opened in 1794). Don’t miss Nenette, the famous 40 year-old orangutan. Hint: if you go just before closing at 5, you can see the cats get fed whole chickens. Menagerie Du Jardins Des Plantes 9 Euros/7 Euros.
The L’Ouvre and Musee D’Orsay are for a different trip. To get your culture fix, head to the Centre Pompidou, the famous inside-out art gallery. The very best view of Paris is from its rooftop café (try the Vietnamese spring rolls) and there are lots of free activities for kids in and around the lobby and grounds, plus a great gift shop. www.centrepompidouparis.com
Hands down my favourite afternoon was spent at the stunning Jardins Luxemburg. Check out the art exhibits in its Orangerie, ponder the immaculate topiaries, and make sure to rent the affordable wooden boats (pictured) for your kids to play with in the main fountain. There is a pretty garden and wading pool just for kids under 5, which makes a nice oasis for a picnic from nearby Le Petit Luxe (2 Rue de Vaugirard) which has inventive take-away salads and sandwiches for just 3 Euros (hence line-ups).
If your local science centre were designed by Philippe Starck and housed in a massive sculpture park, you are beginning to get a sense of the sheer scale and scope of Paris’ Cite des Enfants. We wished we had a whole day to explore inside and out, but at the very least take them to the main science experiences where they can “work” in a water factory, play with a light wall, collaborate in a kiddie construction site and stimulate their growing grey matter. Cite Des Sciences, www.cite-sciences.fr
Even the best parents deserve a date night in Paris. We used the babysitting service Baby Chou and met a wonderful English-speaking au pair named Aude. Ask for her! It is better to phone rather than book online. 9 Euros/hour plus agency fee. 01 43 65 58 58, www.babychou.com
Be prepared to carry strollers up and down Metro stairs and wait for grumpy attendants to open access doors beside the turnstiles. For shorter journeys, taxis are better (get a business card and reserve a “maxi cab” for your trip to the airport).
Remember: the Eiffel Tower is best viewed from the park at its base, don’t waste half a day dodging pickpockets in the lineups. Instead, take them to the Eiffel Tower Carousel, the prettiest in the city.
We found that picnicking in parks was better than trying to keep the steak knives and wine glasses out of tiny hands. Not to mention all the glares we avoided this way. If you have rented an apartment like we did, even better.
Credit cards and online reservations are de rigeur, but you will find that your booking can’t be retrieved with a foreign credit card. This applies to train tickets, museum passes, etc. Be prepared to line up.
The 12% VAT can add up. Make sure to carry your passport number and ask for a tax form at point of purchase. You can get the tax back in cash at the airport before you check in as long as you have your purchases on hand to present to them.
February 1st, 2013
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
—Pride & Prejudice
The biting social commentary of Jane Austen may be lost on most toddlers, but it’s never too early to start them on the classics.
A new Pride & Prejudice board book tells the darkly romantic tale of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in just 12 words, each accompanied by sweet images of needle-felted figures. If your tot seems more of a Herman Melville fan, the Cozy Classics series also includes Moby Dick. Come spring look out for Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
At this rate, we see a Man Booker prize in our babe’s future.
$9.81 at Amazon.ca
January 25th, 2013
As soon as she’s old enough you’re putting her on skis.
Until then, get her accustomed to the alpine with the Snow Mountain Wool Felt Toy Box. Handmade in Toronto, it has toddler-friendly soft corners and a fabric top that won’t slam on little fingers. We especially love it for its cute look, which is infinitely more décor-friendly than all those bright plastic toy chests.
Soon she’ll be up on the bunny hill working on "pizza and French fries." But for now she can work on putting her toys away. —Kelsey Dundon
US$149 at http://www.etsy.com