About Catherine Tyrrell

Busy mother to 2 spirited kiddos, with a passion to help other mamas navigate this crazy journey that is parenting.

Did you know there are Mermaid fitness classes in Toronto?

Aqua Mermaid Toronto – Review by resident Mommy Blogger – Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

I’ve said many-a-time, to many-a-people, that if I could perform my day to day tasks while being in water, I would. And I meant it. So when I was offered the opportunity to try out a mermaid fitness class with Aqua Mermaid, there was absolutely no hesitation before saying yes, and then quietly humming the Little Mermaid song to myself. I was vaguely familiar with the concept of mermaid fitness, but I couldn’t have told you anything real about it, and I didn’t know something like this was possible here in Toronto, especially for newbies like me. I was super excited about fulfilling my lifelong dream of becoming a mermaid. 

I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of class size or structure, but when I packed my bathing suit and towel and headed out, it turns out I also didn’t know how much traffic I should have predicted. Refreshing my google maps every 5 seconds while my husband took as many side roads as possible, I started to panic that I was going to be late, and I wouldn’t get to wear my tail. I awkwardly changed into my bathing suit in the front seat of our SUV, and waved at a guy who couldn’t stop staring at me while I was changing into my top. Angry at myself for not leaving earlier, I called the number for AquaMermaid and asked how bad it would be if I arrived just at class start time, instead of the recommended 15 minutes early. I was happily reassured that it wasn’t an issue at all, and I breathed a sigh a relief knowing that I hadn’t messed everything up. (But this doesn’t mean you should also show up late- that 15minutes would be key with a larger class!)

We pulled up with two minutes to spare, and I rushed through the change-room, whipped off my clothes and headed out to the pool deck, expecting to see a full class of women waiting for me in their tails. Instead, there was simply the instructor, and two gentlemen happily chatting away holding onto what looked like flippers, but would unroll to reveal the tail. I was originally taken aback by the small size of the class, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the ability of the instructor to be able to keep the class personalized to our wishes and capabilities. I also loved the fact that is was men, and not just women who wanted to be mermaid for a day. One mentioned it was his goal to be like Zoolander, and he instantly got my respect. 

I got the fin on, and boy, was I excited! I stuck the fin in the water as I sat on the edge of the pool, and eagerly smiled at my husband as he snapped away with the camera, my daughter playing with a small floatie in her car-seat nearby. We then had to take the fins off again to learn some of the basic moves before adding the extra difficulty of essentially, having only one giant leg. Brianna, the instructor, made her fin-less dolphin kicking look graceful and flawless as she used her entire body to glide through the water, and when I tried, felt- and looked- more like a dolphin who had somehow made it’s way onto land and didn’t know what the hell to do. Luckily for me, there were only a couple of manoeuvres like this, because I sucked at them all and I just wanted my tail on. I got my wish and the three of us shimmied back into the long, glorious tails- mine pink, of course. Repeating those same initial manoeuvres but with the tail made a world of difference, and getting to glide so swiftly like that under water is something I have never experienced before, and I loved it. I felt like I just wanted to swim under water forever and never come up for air. If I had regular access to a pool, you better believe I’d be buying a tail. (You can actually own your own mermaid tail!) We were casually taught a few basic moves, like using our arms to propel us (which turns out to be a major arm workout), and swimming with our tail both face up, and face down, before moving onto some enjoyable (and instagram-worthy) tricks, like handstands and fin-high-fives. 

Everything was pretty relaxed, and the instructor just followed our lead to allow us to learn skills we wanted to, have fun, and have pictures taken all the way throughout. I felt like I was super unskilled, but afterwards in talking with Brianna I learned that many of the trial classes don’t attempt some of the stuff we did, or even venture out into the deep end- which we did almost right away. In my attempt to do a dive off the side into the water, I thought I would never even make it pulling myself out of the water, and flinging my body beached-whale-style up over the side. I made it though, it was amazing, and I’m sure it was super graceful. We ended our class with a group-choreographed synchronized routine that was completely random, but also awesome.  Once the class was done, I chatted with Brianna a bit to find out more about the classes they offer, and what they’re like. There are drop-in classes, for people like me who are new and looking for something cool to try, and there’s also packages for weekly classes, which are geared more towards the fitness aspect. AquaMermaid has been around since early 2015, combining the love of water, exercise, and all around fabulousness. The founder, Marielle Chartier Henault has done an incredible job of bringing forward this wonderful and unique option for a workout choice, and AquaMermaid is now offering classes not just in Toronto, but Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Edmonton, Chicago Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix. Classes are offered for kids and adults of any gender, and just about any age- as long as you can swim independently. But if you’re looking for a new way to spend some time on a Saturday, or are trying to add some flavour into your workout routines, I highly suggest giving these classes a try, no matter what your age or gender- as long as you can swim, you’re good.  Worst case scenario? You get some cool photos wearing a mermaid tail at the end of it, because let’s face it- if it’s not on Instagram, did it even happen? 

For more information and to sign up for classes, go to www.aquamermaid.com 

How to thrive (or even just survive) the Christmas Holidays as a new mom

By Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

I love Christmas. Always have, always will. I even survived years working retail at Christmas and I still love it. I love the magic, the lights, the love, the decorations. I love Christmas baking, and all the holiday crafts, even though it can take a lot of time to accomplish. Now that I’m a new mom for Christmas, it feels like the pressure is on more than normal.

At the beginning of the season I had a giant list of tasks I wanted to joyfully get done for Christmas- baking, crafts, decorations, homemade presents… You name it, I probably wanted to make it. I started to stress myself out about needing to get everything done, but I soon realized I was setting myself up for failure, and where’s the joy in that? I can’t just drop everything and bake an elaborate batch of goodies when I have a baby who doesn’t want to play alone, and I can’t easily break out the glue gun when I have someone’s little hands that want to reach for everything. Which leaves the times when she’s sleeping, and let’s be honest. I can barely sit down for a cup of tea, much less start a crafting empire in the hour she’s asleep.

So whether you’re Santa’s Little Helper or Ebenezer Scrooge at Christmas, I’ve put together a little list to help you get through the holidays with a little Christmas cheer left for yourself.

1. Make a list, and check it twice.

Santa had the right idea here. Make a list of everything you want to accomplish. Then, when you look over it again, try to come up with a reasonable timeline of things you can ACTUALLY get done without pulling your hair out.
If you don’t know where to start, divide your list into “necessary” and “if I have time”. And if you can’t get to the second half, don’t give it a second thought. Maybe you can try next year. Maybe not. Who cares.

2. Understand that as a new mom or dad, the stakes may now seem higher, but they don’t have to be. Ask for help.

Moms seem to take on a lot of extra emotional labour over the holidays, and it can be downright exhausting. Making the list for the presents to make sure you don’t miss anyone. Getting the presents, wrapping them, tagging then. Sending out Christmas cards in time. Getting the perfect present for the kid/kids. Making sure the house is decorated, and now-baby safe. Preparing either for hosting, or to travel for Christmas. The list goes on.
It may seem impossible to get through it all with your sanity in tact, but take a deep breath. Delegate where you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Overwhelmed with the idea of buying your entire extended family perfectly picked presents? Suggest a secret Santa. That doesn’t work? Suggest a rule where only presents for kids are bought. Last year my family decided to only give socks, and the pressure, both mentally and financially it took off from us was immeasurable.
People can be pretty understanding, and chances are they’re going through the same stresses. You just need to ask.

3. Take a minute for yourself.

I know, I know. Who has time for this?
No new mom, that’s for sure. But try. If you can find an extra 10 minutes to wrap that present for Suzy, you can find an extra 10minutes to take a bath, or go for a walk, or have a coffee or whatever it is that you like to do. Try to stay away from social media scrolling though, because as much as we do it to waste time, we all know it isn’t actually relaxing. You deserve a few minutes to do something for you. Even if it after everyone’s gone to bed, or when you should be doing the dishes. The dishes will still be there when you’re done.

4. Try to limit your social obligations.

People like to use Christmas as a time to host or organize a gathering every weekend. Whether it’s for work, family, friends, sometimes it can seem like it’s taking over your whole schedule. As a parent, this gets a hell of a lot more overwhelming, because you’re not just dealing with your own tired self, you’re now trying to wrangle an overtired, overstimulated baby or toddler and trying to get them to relax enough to not make a scene before you can deal with the backlash at home while putting them to bed.

It’s just. Not. Worth. It.

If an event starts too late, just politely decline and blame the kids. Because, well, it’s true. Send your well wishes and ask for some selfies from the party if you feel like it.

5. Try your best to remember that it’s only a holiday, and it’s only once a year.

Stressing over Christmas seems counterintuitive to me, yet it’s one of the leading causes of stress and depression. Everytime you feel yourself getting stressed about presents, or things that need to get done, remember this- it really doesn’t matter.

If it’s the end of the world that you weren’t able to get a gift, or make that batch of cookies- that person probably doesn’t deserve it anyway. Do what you can, and whatever you can’t- remember that it’s just a holiday, and try to enjoy it. That’s what it’s there for.

Looking to move? 4 must-do tips before you start

The steps involved in buying or selling a home can seem overwhelming, and that’s especially true when deals happen fast. A recent survey by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) found that the majority of Ontarians who bought or sold a home in the last five years weren’t in the market for very long.

Among the buyers surveyed, nearly 57 per cent said they purchased their property within three months of when they started actively looking.

For sellers, things happened even more quickly: 67 per cent said they sold their property in under three months. Overall, 54 per cent thought the process took less time than they had anticipated.

When you’re ready to make a move, take a deep breath, sketch out a plan and get informed before you enter the market. After all, you may begin by casually browsing listings only to stumble across a place you love, and suddenly find yourself in the throes of a major purchase. By being informed right from the start, you’ll have confidence in the decisions you are making, even if they do happen quickly.

Following these four must-do tips is a great place to start:

1. Shop around before you shop around for a home

Real estate salespeople and brokerages vary widely in terms of experience, expertise and services provided, so meet with at least three salespeople before you sign an agreement. When you have a shortlist of representatives, ask each of them some questions to determine which one is right for you:

– Walk me through your real estate experience.

– Describe your general approach to buying and selling, and how your approach will best suit my needs.

– Tell me about the fees and commissions I’ll have to pay.

– Which services does your brokerage provide, and are any of them included in our agreement?

– How often will you provide me with progress updates, and how will we communicate?

– Could you please provide me with some references?

2. Look them up

Before you meet with any salespeople or brokers, be sure to look them up using the “Look up a real estate salesperson, broker or brokerage” search tool in the top right-hand corner of RECO’s website. It will tell you if they’re registered and in good standing, and if they have faced any disciplinary action.

3. Read and understand everything

When you hire a real estate representative to help you buy or sell a home, you will likely be asked to sign an agreement that defines your relationship with the representative’s brokerage. It’s a legal contract that spells out how long the agreement is for, the location it covers and what fees or commissions will need to be paid.

Also, when you buy or sell a home, you will need to sign a legal contract to complete the transaction. This agreement contains a lot of important information in addition to price and conditions, such as whether the appliances and light fixtures stay with the house.

These are just two examples of real estate agreements that are legally binding, meaning you typically can’t back out once you’ve signed on the dotted line.

Whenever you’re presented with a document that requires a signature, read it and understand it thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, or request that your representative walk you through it, line by line. If you’re still unsure about something, consider asking your lawyer for advice.

4. Be an active participant in the process

Your salesperson is a knowledgeable resource who can help you make informed decisions, but you should always remember that you’re the one in the driver’s seat, even when the car appears to be accelerating down the expressway.

Be an active participant in the process. That means being open and candid with your representative about what’s important to you in a home, and which services you expect from him or her. Your salesperson can best help you when you’re clear about what you want.

And it means you have a responsibility to perform your own due diligence: asking questions, understanding any required paperwork, conducting your own research (when necessary), and being an active participant through every step.

Remember, you own the process.

 

There’s a lot of information out there about market trends and how to get the best price, but you also need to know about your rights and responsibilities as a home buyer or seller.  The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) can help you with that.

When it comes to real estate transactions, the more you know, the better you’re protected. Visit RECO’s website to learn more.

Looking for a larger home for your growing family? Check out some helpful advice about whether to buy first or sell first and the 5 questions you should ask before selecting a real estate representative.

 

Did you know you can now have blood work done at home or at work, at a time that’s convenient for you?

I recently had LifeLabs  come to my home to take my blood, and it was SO nice not to have to get my tired mom bum to the lab, before having my morning coffee (fasting sugars)!

I kept thinking how great it would have been to have this service available when I was pregnant with a toddler in tow (and even more so when I had both a spirited toddler AND a new baby!). I remember it being so difficult and exhausting just to get out the door some days, let alone having to negotiate with a fussy baby & a curious/impatient toddler in a lab/waiting room setting, and many, many meltdowns (sometimes my kids, and sometimes my own).

 

Under this service, a specially-trained LifeLabs technician comes to your home, your workplace, or anywhere you feel more at ease, to complete your blood tests, ECG monitoring, or holter monitoringIt’s a great service for busy parents, busy professionals, or anyone who might feel uncomfortable or nervous in lab situations or who has difficulty getting places, etc.

I think the service is especially great for new parents who are also caring for their own aging or ailing parents, and it would be such a great time and energy saver for everyone to be able to have a service like this available at home, instead of having to travel to a lab.

I personally haven’t had my own blood work done in forever, because this mama is forever taking care of everyone else and forgetting about herself (not good, I know. Mama, have YOU done your blood work lately? Isn’t it kind of sad that a cleaning at the dentist can feel like a mini holiday for busy parents? Anyways, I’m getting off track here – Be sure to get your own blood work done too), but I finally got mine done, and I didn’t even have to leave my home to do it!

You know, I never understood why drive-through banking was a thing.. then I had a baby.. and a toddler.. in Canada. That song and dance of getting kids in and out of the car – especially in the winter, or in rain, or even getting them out of playing in the sun, or if they were FINALLY napping – made me appreciate anything that could make my day easier, and this service by LifeLabs made my day!

To learn more about MyVisit™  click here.

Moms, why are we always the last ones on our priority list?

By Allison Martineau, Sweetpea Nutrition

So I’ve been noticing something lately that has me concerned.  I do talks across the city on a range of nutrition related topics and the main focus generally includes ways to support women with their hormone health, help them recover from childbirth, improve their mood and deal with emotional eating.  I love talking about these things…buuuut…the conversation usually tangents away from these topics.

For smaller talks I always start each one by asking everyone what their biggest nutritional concern or question is and without fail 90% of the questions I get are about their BABY!  From picky eating to introducing solids, allergies, breastfeeding challenges…everything goes back to their little one. And I get it (and am happy to answer); we want what’s best for our kids and nutrition is super important for developing babes, however my frustration comes when you notice that moms are neglecting themselves entirely and won’t ask for help, even when I am asking them what THEY need.  When I probe deeper, inevitably I will see moms struggling with food (either over or under consumption), hormone imbalance or nutrient deficiencies and yet still don’t prioritize themselves.  It is NOT selfish to prioritize your well being…it is a NECESSITY as a new mom.  Worse off are those who don’t even know that their nutrition is off but suffer from fatigue, anxiety or digestive upset and don’t realize the connection between these symptoms and their diet.

Routine postpartum maternal care is almost non-existentand moms are unfortunately not getting the help they need as a result.  We are followed so closely during pregnancy and our babies have routine checkups at their doctor for the first year of life, but what about the moms?  Why are they left on their own after 6 weeks? What is relevant about ceasing care at that time?  Most physical recovery is still happening beyond that point, not to mention emotional and mental health, nutrient deficiencies that can develop and hormones that can become unbalanced within the first year after having your baby.  We need more support from our medical care providers AND we, as parents, need to learn to ask for help more.

Beyond that though, here are some things you can start to focus on:

Restorative movement – Let’s start moving our bodies in a way that feels good (not for punishment over something we ate or to lose weight but because the activity and movement boost our mood and make us strong enough to carry around that baby we just had).  Be gentle on your postpartum body and listen to it.  For me, running has always been my favourite activity, but after the birth of my third son I started getting hip pain every time I ran.  I tried to push through it but after awhile I sat back, listened to my body and found exercises that actually work WITH my new body, not against it.  For now, be ok with change. Swimming, yin or restorative yoga, gentle stretching and walking are some of my current favourites… but you do you!

Solid Nutrition – Having a healthful nutrient dense diet is so important not just for physical healing after childbirth but to also give us the energy we want each day to help us care for our tiny human(s).  We know when we eat crap we feel like crap, and it’s a vicious cycle.  Solid nutrition helps us stay healthy, strong, vibrant and happy.  Having said that, a few off days (or even weeks or months) will not damage everything and you can always start making changes today to help make yourself feel better. And remember this is not about restriction; this is about self awareness and fueling your body in a way that is in line with your preferences, goals, health conditions and lifestyle and that makes you feel great.  No one size fits all approach here.  Do what feels right for YOU.

Mindfulness practices – This can seem intimidating to some who are unfamiliar with it, but rest assured that you can make this area what you need it to be.  It doesn’t have to be an hour long meditation (unless that’s your jam), but really it’s more about tapping in to your body and how it feels.  A 3-5 minute meditation (deep breaths with your eyes closed) can be a good start and there are many apps out there that make it super simple. Journaling is also a helpful tool in my practice, with gratitude practices as one of my favourites.

Self care – Make time for yourself!  While massage and a day at the spa are the obvious self care options, it doesn’t always have to be so grand.  Some alone time, a long shower, a night out, learning to say no to stuff you don’t want to do…all self care.

Support other moms and support yourself. This may sound harsh but someone said this to me one time and it impacted me greatly (in a good way ….well maybe not at first) She said women act like martyrs and we need to stop.  At first I disagreed and went through the laundry list of things I need to get done in a day and why I have no time for myself but then realized that I NEEDED to make the time.  No one else was going to do it for me unless I asked.  So stop playing the martyr card and ask your partner, family, friends, caregiver for extra help so you can take the time you NEED!!

And remember this is not a race to implement all these changes; this is your life.  So include healthful practices that resonate with you and that bring you joy and above all else, enjoy the journey.

Feeling stuck?  Have questions about your health or nutrition? Let’s talk! Book a free 20 minute consult here.

Bio: Allison Martineau is a nutritionist with a reproductive health focus; working with women during fertility, pregnancy and new parenthood. Allison practices an evidence based counseling style and is passionate about using mindfulness and intuitive eating to help her clients. She has her Masters in Nutrition and Public Health, has over 10 years of experience and sees clients in her private practice, Sweetpea Nutrition. Allison lives in Toronto with her husband and three young boys.

Packing For Vacation (With An Infant)

Guest blog post by: Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

My husband and I just booked a week long, all-inclusive vacation in St. Lucia for this upcoming January. I say “upcoming” as if it’s soon, or as if you would get confused as to which January it is. Obviously, the upcoming one. Anyway; moving on.

We’ve been humming and hawing over where and when to go on vacation, basically since we started seeing each other. The answer has only ever been; Collingwood, for two days. It always ends up as three, because two days for a vacation sucks because you waste so much time checking in and checking out, and we can never just leave that quickly. So we finally bit the bullet and booked a trip. And bit another bullet and chose an all-inclusive. Originally we were going to go for a resort with a full kitchen to a) save money, and b) not have to eat out every meal. But I tell ya, I’m pretty damn excited about not having to cook EVERY MEAL for AN ENTIRE WEEK. Yaaas.

I had a few thoughts after clicking the “confirm” button.

1) Omg YAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSS VACATION.
2) Omg how are we going to afford this?
3) Finally- we never got a honeymoon!
4) OMG YAAAAASSSS
5) I need cute summer clothes and bathing suits
6) Holy shit how am I going to pack for all of us?!
7) Does the baby get a full size 40lb suitcase as well?

I’m a bit of an over-packer. And by “bit”, I mean extreme. I mean, packed 9 bikinis for a 7 day trip to Cuba kind of extreme. I mean filled a suitcase bursting to the 40lb limit EXACTLY for a weeklong trip- extreme.

I took 6 pairs of shoes for a 3 day weekend.

However, I’m going to pretend I’m an expert and I’m going togive you a few tips for packing for an infant.

We took our first mini-vacation in May up to- you guessed it- Collingwood for 3 nights. Now, the problem with May is you never know what the hell the weather is going to do. You could get hot and sun, you could get spring-cool,  you could get frost and freezing rain, or you could get all of the above in a very small window of time. In other words, it’s a nightmare to pack for.

Did I overpack? Well duh. I’m a first-time parent, taking her 4 month old infant on their first time leaving the house overnight, in a season where the weather can’t make up its mind.

But! I learned some things:

1. Make a list
Seems redundant, but this is so so important. First, mom-brain is a very real thing and it sneaks up on you when you’re not expecting it. And I guarantee you’re going to forget things until the very last minute. (That’s if you don’t forget them altogether). So make that list. Organize it into categories like Yourself, Baby, Husband, Toiletries, Day Trips, Electronics etc. And start it like a week before you have to go anywhere. Add things as soon as you remember them, because chances are- if it took you a few days to remember it, you’re probably going to forget it.
2. Don’t Pack for the baby too far in advance
Does this seem like a weird piece of advice? Maybe it is. Granted, I’ve always been a bit of a last-minute packer, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that. For the baby however, I would- and here’s why. Baby’s are chaotic, and when you’re on vacation you want things to run as smoothly as they can. If you start packing too early, you’re not going to be able to pack everything at once, because things will still be needed while you’re waiting for your trip to start. If you start too early, you’re going to forget which onesies you’ve packed. You’ve stocked and restocked the diaper bag a bunch of times, you need some of the outfits you want to bring now, you need the nail clippers, she peed on the diaper mat so you need your spare, etc etc. If you wait until the night before to pack the baby, you can lay out everything and decide what you need, what you don’t, and what you might need, and narrow it down from there instead of a free-for-all of packing what you don’t need in the moment.
3. Pack for yourself ahead of time
So this works with my step #2. If you’re packing for the baby the night/day before, that doesn’t leave much time to also pack for yourselves the night before as well. Remember, you also have an unpredictable baby to deal with while all of this is going on. So go through your list, and mark off the things you can pack without missing them in the time leading up. Start portioning up your toiletries like shampoos and soaps into smaller, travel-friendly containers. And mind your sizes if you’re going to be flying. Keep an extra of small toiletries like your toothbrush strictly for travel, so this way you’re not running around the morning of trying to pack all the things you needed to use the night before.
4. Pack what you need.
This sounds ridiculous. But I know for me, I make my list, I get those things and lay them on my bed. I then tend to add about 6 more- “just in case.” Then I have an overpacked suitcase with stuff I don’t need, just because I couldn’t decide what Tshirt to bring, so I brought 6 instead. And then an extra sweatshirt. And then a sweater too, if I don’t want to wear that one… and on and on. This is so crucial for the baby as well. And why step #1- list, is so important. If your list is concise, your packing will be concise. And check to see if there’s laundry facilities where you’re going, because if there’s one thing babies produce- well, it’s poop. But poop equals laundry.

If you want an example of what not to do, I made a cohesive list for our mini trip to Collingwood.
Bettie:


8 outfits
5 sleepers
50 diapers

I instead packed an entire duffel bag FULL of outfits and sleepers, and brought probably close to 100 diapers.

About 4 outfits got used (maybe 5), and maaaaaaybe 30 diapers. IT WAS 3 DAYS.

And we had laundry facilities IN our suite.

Don’t do that, especially if you’re going on a plane.

5. Consult your list again once you’re done.
When everything is packed, zipped, and ready for the door, consult that list again. Go over every item out loud, and “checkmark” each one. Generally when you’re doing this, especially out loud, if you’ve forgotten something now is when it’s gonna come back up. And if you haven’t forgotten anything writing you’re list, once you’ve check check checked each item, you’re ready to go!
6. Don’t stress- Enjoy!
You’re about to go on vacation! I know packing is stressful at the best of times, especially with an infant. Not only making sure they have everything they’re going to need, you have everything you and the rest of your family are going to need, and it all fits into your suitcase under the weight limit (if flying)- but you also have to do all of this while making sure your infant is happy and isn’t crying at you to pay more attention to them while you’re trying to jam that last pair of shoes into your suitcase.

Take a breath. Have a glass of wine, or beer, or water, and sit down for a moment. You’ve done well. You got this.

Enjoy your family vacation!

Shannon Fisher – And Now I’m A Mom m

Shannon is a 31 year old first-time mom to little Bettie. Leaving a world of sex clubs and naked protests on pause, she loves sharing her stories and adventures with others while she navigates through this new world of mom and wife. One of her new favourite things is finding matching outfits (and headbands!) for her and her daughter – and husband whenever he lets her! With a love for the arts and self-expression, she is really looking forward to all of the adventures and excitement this new life will bring, and she can’t wait to see what kind of person this little nugget of joy will become. (But she’s not rushing it!)

Summer Is Here, So We Partied Like Mermaids! (with help from our friends at Prep Fete)

This year was the first year of school for my eldest, and with that came her first last day of school, and I wanted to celebrate this milestone with her and a couple of her close friends. Since it’s also the beginning of summer, we thought a mermaid themed cupcake decorating & swim party would be a lot of fun.

We ordered a mermaid magic themed party kit from Prep Fete, so it was super easy to pull everything together pretty quickly.

Prep Fete carefully curated party kits come with all the essentials – good quality & beautiful decor, cake toppers, and matching tableware.

My daughter had lots of fun tossing the magical mermaid confetti onto the table (and the floor), but I’m not all that fun & fancy free, so I only gave her about 1/8th of the confetti to use. I am however, a fairly crafty mama, and have plans for other ways to use those pretty little squares of tissue & glimmer paper!

My daughter loved all the decorations, and told me she wants to have the mermaid theme for her birthday this year. I will order some more tableware with their party kit builder, and keep the decorations in their easy to store packages, for her birthday in September.

One of my favourite little touches was the little postcard included in the kit, with handy party prep tips for kids birthday parties. I know it will be especially helpful when we host our first party with school friends in the fall!

Planning your own party? Our network can save $20 off a party kit and receive free shipping with the discount code: MOMMYCONNECTIONS

What’s included in the Mermaid Magic Party Kit?

  • Iridescent Paper Fans
  • Iridescent Boxed Confetti
  • Let’s Be Mermaids Garland
  • Let’s Be Mermaids Cake Toppers
  • Long Silver Glitter Candles
  • Mermaid Plates
  • Shell Dessert Plates
  • Iridescent Cups
  • Iridescent Paper Straws
  • Shell Napkins
  • Light Pink Forks

Check out some of the other beautifully curated themed party kits from Prep Fete (including a chic midsummer’s night party kit for adults


Prep Fete co-founders Naomi & Katie, are two Toronto moms on a mission to create stress-free birthday parties, so you don’t have to spend hours (or days) planning up the perfect birthday party theme for your littles.

Baby Proofing Your Relationships – BEFORE Baby Arrives

One of the best things you can do to prepare for life with your new baby, is to learn about the little (and big) things you can do now, to help baby proof your relationships. I say relationships, because it’s not just about partners. Strained relationship with in-laws or other family members, introducing a new baby to older siblings, and well meaning (but not always requested) input and advices from family members, over stepping or not stepping up, understanding and setting boundaries etc. etc. etc.. The addition of a baby changes the dynamics, and no matter how strong your relationships are, things will be different.

Unmet (or even unspoken) expectations are frustrating and can lead to resentment. The sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, and requirement to be on parenting duty (All. The. Time.) are just a few of the stressors that can weigh on us. Often parenting styles aren’t discussed before baby is already on the scene. In one of our recent Mom & Baby classes, 90% of the moms said they still hadn’t talked with their partners about parenting topics such as, discipline tactics, or how they would handle disagreements in front of their child.

Romantic bliss can take a hit when a new demanding little customer shows up in your family. The reality is that your partnership is the foundation of that family, and in order to provide the best environment for your new bundle, you have to re-invest in your relationship with your partner. Just like financial investing, it matters where and how, you choose to invest. The addition of a child is one of the BIGGEST tests to your romantic relationship (I won’t even tell you how many people have confided in me that they have felt like punching their partner in the throat – Jokingly of course, but their frustration and resentment is REAL).

These are the reasons why I have decided that adding the relationships piece to prenatal planning is so important. If you are expecting a baby (not only for first time parents), please join us Sunday June 3rd for our Midtown Mommy-To-Be: Prenatal Workshop, to cover some of the things that traditional prenatal prep classes often leave out. Our prenatal workshop includes some extra time at the end to socialize, or to chat with our experts, so that you can leave feeling empowered and supported.


Parenting educator, and life & professional coach, Liz Berholz of Liz B Parenting, will be joining us for the Baby Proofing Your Relationships portion of our prenatal workshop. Liz works with families and individuals to help them discover their ability to create homes and lives filled with mutual respect, understanding, cooperation, connection, responsibility and fun. She helps them uncover their gifts and strengths to create effective change and live lives filled with their deepest dreams of success. www.lizbparenting.com

5 Reasons Why You Want To Have Maternity Photos Done

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing.. and along with it comes morning sickness, a range of emotions, and a change in how our body looks and feels. There are so many things to plan for and anticipate, and maternity photos may become an afterthought, but capturing the beauty of every pregnancy is special. Here are five reasons why you’ll be happy to have maternity photos done:

1. MOTHERHOOD IS BEAUTIFUL – You are beautiful! Carrying a soul inside of you is something to cherish. Pregnancy occurs only a few times in life, and it’s worth savouring the moment. It can be hard to imagine having photos taken (especially if you’re not feeling your best – with morning sickness and an expanding body), however focus on the celebration of motherhood that is growing within.

2. SHOW OFF THE BELLY – What a great excuse to show off and flaunt your belly! Make it a day of pampering, and get dolled up as a special treat, because you deserve it. Indulge in form fitting maternity wear to show off the bump. Professional photographers will provide wardrobe recommendations, and may also provide access to a collection of maternity dresses that can be worn for the shoot.

3. TIMELESS MEMORIES – It’s easy to forget how it felt like to be pregnant. Photos help reconnect your memories, emotions, and feelings. It is also a wonderful memory to show your children.

4. MOMENT OF BONDING – The photos are also for partners and any siblings to have their own moment to bond. It is a wonderful moment for the entire family to embrace the positive changes coming. For siblings, it is a great way to make them feel special, and to capture cute photos of hugging or kissing of the belly.

5. TELL A STORY – A professional photographer will make it a fun experience, and transform shots into a story that illustrates the connection and love already forming between mom and baby – all while taking best angles, depth of field, and lighting into consideration. It’s also worth looking into combined maternity + newborn photo session package options, to capture the beautiful story that unfolds once the baby is born.

**Join us for a Midtown Mommy-To-Be: Prenatal Workshop – Sunday June 3rd at North Movement Studio in Leaside. You’ll enjoy a great afternoon of learning and connecting with your fellow mommies-to-be, as well as a fun maternity photoshoot with Pictonat Photography!

Guest blog post by: Nathalie Amani, Pictonat Photography


Nathalie is a mom of two, and the owner of Pictonat Photography. She has a passion for delivering images that capture emotions and tell a story with an intimate, contemporary, and fresh feel. Her work is focused on working with people and families of all ages (maternity, newborn, family, special occasion & professional head shots).

Pictonat Photography | hello@pictonat.com | 416.951.8428

5 Useful Baby Shower Gift Ideas (that you probably won’t find on the registry)

Have a baby shower coming up? New parents tend to get so much ‘stuff’ that doesn’t actually end up being all that useful. Try to think outside the box (or registry), and make your gift something that will hopefully help make the transition to parenthood just a little bit easier for the mommy-to-be..

Here are just a few gift ideas – that she either didn’t know to ask for, or doesn’t want to just come right out and ask for:


Meal Delivery. Not having to think about what to make and prepare for dinner is huge. I’m not talking about getting ‘take-out’. I mean those meal delivery companies that lovingly prepare tasty, balanced and nutritious meals for your family, making it easy to eat well and enjoy healthy meals. It’s also awesome when guests sign up for a post baby meal train. When visiting the new baby, bring something for the parents to put in the freezer and heat up later. Don’t make mama feed you – just bring the food to her, and tell her its for them to eat another time.

Parenting Support Services.  Parents-to-be tend to focus a lot on the actual labour & delivery, but birth professionals will be there to assist and guide them through it. Afterwards, when its just parent(s) and baby, can be challenging (and most likely sleep deprived). Baby care professionals are available to help beyond the birth, and can take some of the pressure off, while parents get to know and figure out life with their new little bundle of joy (ie. postpartum doulas, night nurses, sleep consultants, lactation consultants, baby proofers, carseat installation, etc).

House Cleaning. Either by sourcing the actual cleaning service, or by offering to cover some costs towards whomever they have hired – Having someone else do the cleaning beyond the regular tidying, when parent’s are busy with a new baby, is super helpful.

12 Months and up. The majority of gifts from others will likely be somewhere in the 0-9 months range. I know, I know, when it’s so little and cute it’s damned near impossible to reach for the same item in the 12-18 or 18-24 month size. Baby’s drawers and closets will probably be OVER FLOWING with 0-3 mo items (and more than half of the stuff most likely won’t even make it on to baby before they outgrow it), and gifted clothing thins out A LOT after the first year. I’m not saying to go and get something that the child will use when they’re entering middle school – that would be crazy – but 12-24 months stuff is pretty easy to hold on to and store for the short amount of time before it’s utilized. *Also think about seasonality, and what time of year baby is going to be wearing the size you buy.

Gift Cards & Money. Gift cards to coffee shops / baby-friendly establishments / massage therapy / hair salon / spa treatments / Mommy Connections (Mom & Baby classes or CPR workshops) or other local program registrations / anything drive through / etc.. Basically thinking beyond gift cards for the baby stores, lets mama know that you’re thinking about her too. Babies (and life) costs money. Designated towards something specific, or to be used at the discretion of the parents – Nobody wants to come out and just ask for it, but money to put toward the baby’s future is generally well received.

NOTE: If you’re contemplating whether or not to get the baby a stuffed toy, the answer will almost always be “No, thank you!”