Echinaforce Junior: A Review

Last year, cold and flu season was a nightmare in our house! It felt like every other week, one of our two kiddos were coming home with a cough, runny noise or fever. Paired with the fact that my full-time job includes teaching little ones just starting their school adventure (read: my students are just learning about keeping germs at bay!), we felt like we couldn’t get a handle on being completely well! By Spring, we were all exhausted and felt discouraged.

Fast forward to this year. We had the opportunity to try out Echinaforce Junior, a supplement from A. Vogel, for children 2+ years. Each small, chewable tablet, is 400mg of fresh Echinacea. As an adult, I take Echinacea daily to support my immune system, but never thought of it for my own children.

We started giving the tablets to our children (aged 6 and 8), in August, as a prep for the start of school. Fast forward to now, and I can confidently say that I am a believer!! I feel like we had such a better handle on illness this year, and the one time both of kiddos were ill, the severity and duration of their colds were so short in comparison to last year.

Anything to help support those little immune systems has me sold. We will definitely continue to use Echinaforce Junior in our household! You can learn more about A.Vogel’s products here

Welcome Baby: Sponsored by Insight Medical Imaging!

We are ready to Welcome all expectant mamas, and moms of newborns to our annual Welcome Baby Event at buybuy Baby in West Edmonton Mall!

The event takes place on Saturday, November 16th, from 9:30am-11:30am. This year, our event is sponsored by Insight Medical Imaging!

Insight is made up of healthcare professionals who are committed to providing the highest quality of medical diagnostic imaging for all patients. From MRI, CT and ultrasound to breast imaging, pain management, x-rays, and more, Insight is continuously evolving and improving on ways in which to provide the best service, always. The backbone of the company’s success comes from strong team spirit, constant learning, and by supporting the community. Insight is fully accredited by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta and the Canadian Associaton of Radiologists.

You can find local clinics all over Edmonton, and we look forward to welcoming them at our event as Title Sponsor!

Join us Saturday, visit loads of local baby friendly businesses and learn about services and programs offered in your community!!

Amazing prizes will be given away (over $1000 in prizes!). Make sure to arrive early, as first 75 people in attendance receive a swag bag packed with goodies!!

Buybuy Baby Registry Experience

Recently, I was invited into the amazing new buybuy Baby store in West Edmonton Mall to learn more about their registry service they offer expectant families. While I am WAY past the baby stage, I asked to tag along with some good friends, Landon and Isabelle, who are expecting their first baby in the Fall so that I could be a part of their registry experience, and allow me to take photos and ask questions!

The first thing I noticed when I walked up to the registry area (located right next to the main mall entrance of the store)was that the space as very beautiful and how welcoming the staff were. There was a cute chalkboard welcoming guests who had pre-booked their registry appointment (by name!). We were greeted by Hardeep, who is the Registry Manager, and offered beverages, a place to hang jackets and a comfy chair in which to sit.

There was no sending us out into the store, scanner in hand, to fend for ourselves. Hardeep took the first few minutes of the appointment to gather information from the expectant couple, such as: did they knew the gender of baby, had they decided on nursery theme/colours, was this their first baby? Did they plan to have a baby shower? What were they most looking forward to learning about and what did they feel they needed the most guidance with. Hardeep also had the couple fill out a checklist of any baby items they already had. This may seem like a ton of info to go through, but let me assure you, Hardeep took that info and tailored their registry experience to reflect exactly what the couple shared with her.

After collecting information and details, Hardeep took time to explain the online web registry, as well as the registry app. buybuy Baby offers some amazing extras with their web experience, such as the ability for couples to highlight top items that they would really like, and to help buyers decide what they really need. Also, this ensures no duplicates of items at all! They offer the ability to easily change and add/delete items right from home, or using the app (you can easily walk into the store and use your phone as a scanner and add things to your registry that way!) You are also able to download offers right to your phone from the app. I also loved the ability to download addresses from your registry for ready-made thank you cards for all your gift giving friends and family! We also learned that 4-6 weeks prior to your due date, buybuy Baby will send you out a one time coupon, for 10% off a purchase! They also price match any Canadian retailer, including online retailers.
The couple were also given a very cute swag bag, filled with many goodies, including additional coupons, adorable baby items (like a book, a bib where you can place age inside a slot for super cute photo opps) and more!

Another great feature of the registry is that any friends or family who come into the store to purchase a gift from registry will get their own expert to help them navigate registry and items selected, as well as complimentary gift wrapping.

The actual store walk-through, with scanner in hand, was incredible. We weren’t sent out solo to navigate where to start, Hardeep accompanied us for the entire experience! It was like having your own personal baby gear expert with you the whole time! She compared products, showed us different options and features, had us test out gear (strollers, carriers, car seats), and helped answer ANY questions that came up.

The couple, who have done some research on gear, but had questions, were super happy to be able to try out different strollers, practice clipping in car seats to strollers and even having the ability to try and clip car seat into a car seat base. (buybuy Baby provides an amazing setup, where you can try out different car seats and bases on a station they have setup with an actual viechle seat.

They were able to test of different carriers and wraps, with an actual real newborn weighted doll. They tested out different feeding chair options, bouncy seats and more. The store has everything you could imagine, all baby related, including clothing, books, breast pumps, nursery and travel items, gear and, of course, special gifts for grandparents to buy for that new grand baby!

Landon and Isabelle loved the selection of items in each department, and that they could see and test out items in person. There were so many items to choose from, and also an additional selection online as well.

Nearing the end of the initial walk-through, the couple had another engagement and pregnancy tiredness was kicking in. Another great option that buybuy Baby offers is the ability to come back for another registry appointment at anytime, with the same expert, and continue where you left off! Isabelle and Landon finished their entire registry appointment later that week.

All in all, I was just amazed at the service and experience of the entire registry process. Having done the appointment with the expectant couple, make sure you give you and your crew (family/friends are always welcome to tag along on appointments!), lots of time to explore the store and ask questions and try out gear! Booking your appointment ahead if time will also allow you to better plan your day and not be rushed!
How I wish they had the service available when I was pregnant with my kiddos! (And maybe then I wouldn’t have ended up with 15 of the same onesie!). Thanks so much to the whole team at buybuy Baby in West Edmonton Mall for allowing us to document the whole experience, it was a fabulous time!

-buybuy Baby is located in West Edmonton Mall, on the upper level of Phase 1 (beside the Rec Room). You can book your registry appointment in-store, or by calling the store directly at 780-444-8318
There is a convenient entrance right from parking lot to the store, as well as a mall entrance. There is also a buybuy Baby location in South Edmonton Common.

The Ultimate Baby Shower Event 2019: Sponosored by Insight Medical Imaging

Our Ultimate Baby Shower Event is coming up this Thursday, May 30th, from 10am-Noon at Centre Stage in West Edmonton Mall

This year, this event is brought to you by Insight Medical Imaging

Insight is made up of healthcare professionals who are committed to providing the highest quality of medical diagnostic imaging for all patients. From MRI, CT and ultrasound to breast imaging, pain management, x-rays, and more, Insight is continuously evolving and improving on ways in which to provide the best service, always. The backbone of the company’s success comes from strong team spirit, constant learning, and by supporting the community. Insight is fully accredited by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta and the Canadian Associaton of Radiologists.

You can find local clinics all over Edmonton, and we look forward to welcoming them at our event as Title Sponsor!

Join us Thursday, visit loads of local baby friendly businesses and learn about services and programs offered in your community!!

Amazing prizes will be given away (over $1000 in prizes!). Make sure to arrive early, as first 75 people in attendance receive a swag bag packed with goodies!!


Summer Camp Showcase: Camp Information

We had a blast at West Edmonton Mall this morning, and welcomed some amazing local businesses who are offering some fabulous summer camps for kiddos! Below are details about camps, for those of you that couldn’t attend!

J’Adore Dance: J’Adore Dance is offering half-day camps for children from ages 3 up to 10! Every theme from Princess Power to Making Music Videos to Just Dance! Camps are running each week in July and August! Their website can be found here

Music Together of the Northern Lights: Our favourite local music studio is offering 4 day, half day summer camps for kiddos aged 4-8 years old! Camps are happening for 2 weeks in July, and 1 week in August. Music, movement, and fun! Registration and details can be found here!

Little Lotus Inc: Little Lotus is your local hub for preschool, yoga and fun! Little Lotus is offering 3 camps, that are each 4 days a week this July, for kiddos aged 3-6 years old! Space, Superheros and Unicorns, Oh My! Details here!

Tien Lung Taekwon-Do: Tien Lung is offering camps all summer long! Full day options each week of the summer will make it easy to choose 1 week, or all of them! Full days are filled with Taekwon-Do, field trips, crafts, activities and more! Camp details can be found here!

The Little Gym of Edmonton: Little Gym is offering some awesome options for campers this summer! Camps are running all summer long (each week!), and are for campers aged 3-12 years! Half-day and full day options available, with some increbilbly, engaging themes! Camp details here!

A Charmed Affair: Calling all princesses! A Charmed Affair is offering an amazing week of princess fun for children aged 4-8 years old! This 5 day camp will thrill you’re littlest princess lover! Camp is July 22-26th! All the details here!

Telus World of Science: TWOSE has some excellent options for campers this summer! They offer half day (for the littler campers) and full day options, for children aged 4 all the way to teens! Some amazing science-based themes to choose from! Camp details here!

Early Learning at MacEwan: The Early Learning department at Grant MacEwan University has some fun options for children this summer! They are offering 2 full-day camps in July for children aged 6-9, and one full day camp in August for children aged 7-10. All camp details here.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at the event, and we hope you have a very happy summer full of amazing camp opportunities for your child! Happy Summer!

My Top 5 Summer Travel Essentials from buybuy Baby

I was invited recently into the new, beautiful buybuy Baby store in West Edmonton Mall. Taking a look through all their amazing products, plus speaking with some of their gear experts, I was brought back to last summer, when we packed up for a 2 week long road trip with our 2 kiddos.
Travelling with baby/toddler/preschooler in tow is a whole other ball game! I remember fondly packing and packing, and re-packing again!
Whether we were headed for the airport, or campground or a longer roatrip, the gear required was the same!

Here are my top 5 picks for summer travel!

1) Finding an all natural bug spray and sunscreen is so important! Keeping baby/toddler/preschooler burn and bug free is super easy with these 2 products! Take a Hike is an all natural bug spray made with essential oils. Best of all, it was developed by a Canadian mama! Click here for additional product information!

Think Baby is a great option for an all natural, safe sunscreen for your littles. Product details here.

2) Another essential is a great, portable blackout blind. Nothing is worse than checking into a beautiful hotel/cottage/grandmas house and having no way to ensure a dark room for your little to sleep in. A great option is the gro anywhere blind. It sticks to any window with suction cups and has velcro closure to ensure no slivers of light peek through!
Product details here.

3) You arrive at a hotel, only to find they have in more play pens left! Or you are staying the night at grabdma’s and need a spot for your little to sleep. This Travel Bed from KidCo was a life saver for us when travelling! Folds into a compact little disc, and super easy to unpack! We even used it on the beach for toddler naps! This is a must have, and we used it up to preschooler was 4!
Product details here.

4) Having a compact, washable, waterproof blanket for parks/beaches/camping is vital for summer trips with littles. We have used ours almost daily for the past few summers!
This blanket is a great option!

5) Finally, a portable booster seat saves so much hassle when dining out, visiting relatives and saves a ton of space. Finding a great, durable washable chair, that easily clips ontop any chair is a lifesaver when travelling! Being able to feed your baby or busy toddler comfortably and quickly is supper easy and stress-free when you have a portable, easy to use booster chair with tray! I loved this one!

Summer travel with a baby/toddler/preschooler in tow can be stressful, but with the right gear, it can make things a little easier (and allow mamas to have an extra cocktail or 2!!).

Happy travels mamas (and dads!!) Enjoy summer!

Xoxo Ally

Unplugged: Going Smartphone Free for a Week. Entry 2

It’s been 72 hours now. 72 hours since Laurel Gregory “ripped” my iPhone from my shaking hands (jut kidding. I added it over very willingly, but my hands were shaking/twitching already from anticipation of being disconnected)
I’ve been doing my Mommy Connections emails in the early am (before kids are up) and in the evenings (after kids are in bed). Have I been more productive? It’s hard to tell. Do I feel less stressed? Most definately. Perhaps because I’m not constantly innondated with emails on my phone, reminding of things I need to do, and having that nagging feeling I’m always behind!

Ok, a busy Saturday morning filled with hockey practice and ballet. And no smartphone. What is a mom to do? Will I actually, GASP, have to engage in conversations with other parents?!

Now, I’m not saying I’m anti-social and avoid chatting with others. But, I would much prefer to reply to some emails and schedule some social media posts for Mommy Connections than chit chat about the week and how much driving has already been done, and what the plans are for Thanksgiving.
But this am, I really had no choice. I had to engage. And guess what, it wasn’t half bad! I chatted with the team manager and learned some “inside” hockey tips for littles, like how to properly tape hockey socks and what to do when he says he feet hurt (slightly loosen the laces, have him wiggle his toes and re-tie). I also noticed a fellow dance mom, at hockey, and we chatted about car-pooling (bonus!) in future weeks for dance!

While I didn’t have my iPhone to take some cute photos of our littlest peanut on the ice, I did have the opportunity to really watch him and cheer him on when he skated (more like shuffled) by! I was at the glass, giving him a thumbs up, instead of using to thumb to refresh my Instagram feed for the 3rd time. Win?!

Up for joining me for the last 4 days?! Come on! I dare you!!

Xoxox Ally

Unplugged: Going Smartphone Free for a Week, Entry 1

Entry 1:

October 4th, 9pm

This afternoon, I powered off my iPhone (aka sidekick) for a week. I am still in a state of mild shock, and currently my thumb is twitching, wanting to refresh my Instagram feed before bed.

A little background: I was approached by friends at Global Edmonton about a little experiment they wanted to run, and they were asking if I knew of anyone that may be interested in participating. Without really thinking, I replied that I would “LOVE” to give it a try, and see what it felt like to be totally “disconnected” for a week. Who says that?!

For those of you that don’t know me well, I am a mom of 2 littles (ages 4 and 6), and wife to a super guy who also works his tail off and helps with driving kiddos in all directions for activities. I work in the Early Learning field for Edmonton Catholic Schools during the day, and run Mommy Connections West Edmonton, and my newly acquired location of Mommy Connections Kelowna at night (or really anytime throughout the week when I plan time to respond to emails, make/take phone calls and plan programs and events!). I rely on my smartphone ALOT to get work done and keep on top of all aspects of running a small business, from marketing to social media posts to planning and booking presenters for programs. To say I “NEED” my smartphone would be an understatement. In reality, I have built a bit of a dependancy on it, which at times, can be more of a hindrance than a help. I’ve definately had my husband ask me to put my phone away on a date, or had my daughter repeat a question because “you were looking at your phone, mom”. I want to take this opportunity to see what I can do to be more present, organized and use my time more effectively.

Fast forward to today, when reality came crashing down, in form of an LG flip phone, circa 2004, which will be my only form of “on the go” communication for the next week. That’s right, a flip phone. No checking emails on the fly. No social media at my fingertips. No quick texts. No snapping cute photos of the kids and using filters before posting. Nada.
The “rules” are simple. I can use the flip phone to make/receive calls if needed. I can use the fli phone to text (although, if any of you remember these babies, you’ll remember how long it actually took you to send a text! I tried tonight, and it was a good 8-9 minutes for a 2 liner to my husband). I can still use my laptop for emails at home, and my iPad for my work and business.
Easy enough right?! I can do this. I CAN! Follow along the next few days and see what trials and triumphs I encounter!
(Currently, I am attempting to remember my actual email log-in info so I access my webmail account and get to work on emails from today!)

Xoxo Ally

Beaner’s Experience

We recently were invited to our local Beaner’s Fun Cuts for Kids for some back to school haircuts for our kiddos, who are 4.5 years (Aydan) and 6 years (Aasha).

While we are a family who has been visiting Beaner’s since our littles were really little (they both had their first haircuts at Beaner’s), we were excited to visit a location that was new to us!

We were so impressed when we first walked in, and were greeted by the salon owner and stylist who would be looking after both our kids.
Aydan jumped right into the ball pit (another great addition to the whole salon experience for kids and adults, especially when trying to wrangle more than 1 child!), and played away while his sister got started with her experience. Aasha was quiet as a mouse as she watched Tangled on the screen right in front of her pink Jeep, and the stylist (a.k.a child whisperer) got to work on her trim.
(For those that haven’t been to Beaner’s, each salon is outfitted with child friendly chair, such as ride in cars, trucks, Jeeps, horses and motorcycles. In addition, they have screens throughout the salon playing the latest and greatest kid friendly show and movie).
Aasha’s trim was done quickly, and she finished off by getting an adorable rainbow coloured braid in her hair, and some fairly like sparkle gel to finish off!
Aydan was up next, and grabbed a motorcycle, and his cool dude cut was done before I could grab my water bottle! He got the latest hipster cut (with stripes included), and was finished off with a spray of orange!

I loved to see that the salon carried a wide range of kid friendly products, including some locally Alberta made bath products! In all their salons, they also carry their own line of products, including our all time fav detangling product!

From start to finish, we had both kids hair cut, add-on fun extras and browsing products in under 25 minutes! From start to finish, it was a fabulous, stress free experience for both my kiddos, and we’ll back for a visit very soon!

To find the Beaner’s location closest to you, click here

Back to School Anxiety Buster!

It’s that time of year again! Gearing up for back to school can always be a trying time if you have a little one who may be a bit hesitant about leaving mom/dad/siblings for a time, or maybe it’s mom or dad who is having some difficulty with getting used to the idea of their littles growing up 🙂
Regardless, it can be a tough scenario to navigate for all those involved,
Having worked in a classroom setting with young kiddos for the last 12 years (and having 2 of my own, who are both under 6 years old), I hear and see the challnages at the start of the school year! Here are a few ideas, tips and tricks that have been tried and tested over my career in and out of the classroom!

-Give lots of time and notice of the upcoming change to routine. Start prepping with little reminders, like “look at the calendar. I see the start on September 5th, that means in 10 days, it’s school time! Yipee!”
With this, start talking about what the first day will look like. “You’ll go to school with your new backpack, change your shoes, see Mrs. K, see your new friends, play and then mom will come and get you!”

-If needed, start a social story. This is a great strategy to help visit and re-visit the new scenario. Go to the new place, take some photos, and make it into a little book that you can review and re-review with your little. I love to take photos of the outside of school, inside the classroom if possible, washrooms, teacher, playground, etc.

-Stay positive! Make it SO exciting, even if you’re not feeling excited! Kiddos are very good detectives, and can easily pickup if mom or dad or another adult they trust is feeling unsure!

-Get them involved in prep for school! Whether it be shopping for a new backpack,lunch kit or indoor shoes, let them have a say and get excited!

-On the big day, keep it cool. Follow through with exactly what you talked about with your little leading up to the day. If you have a little goodbye routine where you give one kiss and one hug, that’s perfect! Do your little practiced routine and leave your little one in the hands of their classroom team. As hard as it is to say goodbye, keeping it consistent, calm and positive will only help your little feel comfortable, confident and happy in their new environment!

Don’t forget to take lots of photos and try very very hard to keep your tears in check (until you get to the car!). Good luck mamas and happy start of your family’s new adventures!

Xoxo Ally