July 5, 2019

The Battle of the Bottle: Our Feeding Story



From the day they were born, our girls have been very different. From the colour of their hair, to their demeanour and everything in between, they are almost complete opposites.

how to get baby to take a bottle

This is especially true when it comes to feeding. 

From early on, our oldest was formula fed. And our youngest? At 11 months, is currently still being breast fed. I can count the number of times she's taken a bottle on two hands. The number of times it being formula, even less. The number of times I have been away from her and not nursed her, even less than that. So very different than my oldest. 

But, that all is about to change. As the end of my maternity leave quickly approaches, it’s time to start transitioning her off the boob and onto a bottle. And since I didn’t have to do it with my first, it gives me anxiety just thinking about it. BUT, it must be done. 

Today, I’m sharing our family’s feeding story - or, more appropriately, our “battle of the bottle”.

how to get baby to take a bottle

Before we get started, I think it’s important that I start at the very beginning, and share our breastfeeding journey to date (read more, here). It hasn’t always been smooth.

When we left the hospital with Morley back in 2016, I felt nothing but confidence. At least, as much confidence as a new parent could have. However, shortly after bringing baby home, I started to struggle. Breastfeeding became a struggle, and baby wasn’t gaining enough weight to make our family doctor happy. The next day, we made an appointment with the hospital’s lactation consultation. Minutes after stepping through the door, all of the confidence that I originally had flew out the window. “You’re doing it wrong” and “Try harder” are not words a new parent wants to hear. A new parent wants support, and that’s not what I was getting. I left the hospital feeling absolutely defeated - like something was wrong with me because I couldn’t feed my baby “like nature intended”.

After shedding many tears, I pulled myself together and realized fed was best. 

We turned to formula. She instantly took to the bottle and pretty soon after was at the top of the charts for a baby her age. This route also allowed dad to take some of the midnight feeding shifts and allow me to rest. Amen to sleep. 

And then, two and a half years later, little sister Berkley was born.

how to get baby to take a bottle

Like Morley, I thought her taking a bottle would be a walk in the park. How different could they be?

The answer? Different. Very different. Unlike her big sister, Berkley did not instantly take to the bottle. 

Unlike her big sister, Berkley was born on a weekday when the hospital offered a morning breastfeeding class. Having nothing but time while waiting to be discharged from the hospital, we went to the class. Why not, we thought. All I can say is that if that kind of support had been available when Morley was born, there’s a strong chance that I wouldn’t have felt the way I did.

Berkley instantly took to the boob.

how to get baby to take a bottle

Now that Berkley is almost 11 months old, and I’m starting to think about going back to  work and sending her to daycare, it’s time to start transitioning her off the boob and onto the bottle.

For 10 plus months, she has been used to the comfort of being breast fed, something taking a bottle lacks for her. I knew the transition would not be a walk in the park. 

So, how are we making out? Well, let me just say, we’ve still got some work to do before the end of August rolls around…

BUT, we have made progress. 

One thing that’s helped are the Philips Avent products we use. During her meals, she typically drinks water from a Philips Avent Spout Cup. Since we would be giving her a Philips Avent Natural bottle at night, one thing I did was switch out the spout cup nipple with the natural bottle nipple so that she would get used to it. These BPA-free bottles have an ergonomic shape for maximum comfort, making them easy to hold and grip in any direction. The ultra soft nipple more closely resembles the breast, making an easier transition from breast to bottle. Luckily, she had no problem drinking her water from the sippy cup with a bottle nipple. I thought it would be smooth sailing from there.

But then I remembered, there was the issue of my supply. Having introduced food months before, my milk supply has decreased and I stopped pumping months before. The freezer stash had been depleted. So, we turned to formula. But, she refused to drink it. So, with guidance from our family doctor, we introduced whole milk at 10 months. Now, that’s a different story. 

how to get baby to take a bottle

She isn’t 100% hooked on drinking whole milk from a bottle, but like I said, it is still a work in progress. The clock is a ticking though, and if I’ve learned anything from baby number 2 it’s that time flies and the end of August will be here before we know it. That battle of the bottle has got to end at some point.

So moral of this story? ALL kids are different - in shape, in size, in demeanour and even, in the way they feed.

My advice to new mamas? YOU do YOU. Do what feels best for you, best for your babe and best for your family. 

But it’s also good to have some trusted tools, like Philips Avent, in your back pocket. 

What are your tips for getting baby on the bottle? I’d love to hear!

You can find more about our parenting adventures AND our favourite Philips Avent products, here:



*Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Philips Avent. I received products and/or compensation in exchange for this post. All opinions and advice shares are 100% that of To & Fro.


PIN IT:


SHARE:

June 27, 2019

How to Make a Build Your Own Caesar Bar



Wedding season is officially upon us! But, before we can celebrate the nuptials, we must first celebrate the bride-to-be with a bachelorette party! And you know the perfect thing for any bachelorette party? A build-it-yourself Caesar bar. You know, to help cure a morning “headache”.

Earlier this month, we spent a relaxing three days at an Airbnb on Lake Simcoe, about an hour north of Toronto. It was the perfect weekend to relax on the dock, with a cocktail (or two) in hand, while celebrating my soon to be sister-in-law.

"have no fear, caesars are here" letter board and build it yourself caesar bar

First off, for those of you reading from outside Canada, Caesars are NOT the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary. Yes, there are similarities, but in my opinion (and the opinion of many other Canadians), they are So. Much. Better.

As the story goes, the Caesar was invented in 1969 by restaurant manager Walter Chell in Calgary, Alberta. He devised the cocktail after being tasked to create a signature drink for the Calgary Inn's new Italian restaurant. The Caesar typically contains vodka, tomato clam cocktail mix, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, spices, served over ice and traditionally garnished with a celery salt rimmed glass, a stalk of celery and wedge of lime. However, over the years it has taken on many different adaptations, including extravagant garnishes such as shrimp skewers, meat sticks, lobster tails, etc. 

"have no fear, caesars are here" letter board and build it yourself caesar bar

As one of the moms of the group, I was up bright and early to make coffee each morning, even after a much later than normal night. This gave me the perfect opportunity to set up the Caesar bar on the kitchen counter for all the girls to see as they made their way down the stairs in the morning.

While there are some decent Caesar mixes on the market, creating your own guarantees a fresh and flavourful mix. And, if you don’t want to create your own, I recommend Walter Craft Caesar Mix - the Classic Spice includes added grated horseradish, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, a few select spices, sea salt and cracked black pepper. The clam juice used in Walter is also Ocean Wise recommended, which means it comes from sustainably-harvested clams. 

build it yourself caesar bar ingredients

Here is what we had at our build it yourself Caesar bar. 

Build It Yourself Caesar Bar

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • Vodka
  • Clamato juice
  • Caesar rimmer
  • Limes
  • Ice
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Horseradish
  • Hot sauce
  • Pickles
  • Pickle juice
  • Olives
  • Meat sticks
  • Celery

Other Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Letterboard
  • Pitcher
  • Glassware 
  • Napkins
  • Spoons
  • Forks
  • Skewers
  • Plates 
  • Bowls
  • Paper straws

Let the guests get creative, and enjoy!

"have no fear, caesars are here" letterboard

Looking for another fun cocktail for an upcoming bridal shower or bachelorette party? Check out this love-themed vodka cocktail. 

Are you a fan of Caesars? Is there anything else you would add to this build-your-own bar? I’d love to hear!



PIN IT:

"have no fear, caesars are here" letter board and build it yourself caesar bar

SHARE:

June 14, 2019

Six-Month Endy Mattress Review, From the Mom of Two Terrible Sleepers


It’s been 6 months with our new Canadian-made mattress friend, Endy. And like I promised on my IG stories when we got the mattress back in January, I am going to share my honest 6-month review.


making the bed with toddler and baby on Endy mattress

Since moving into our new house in May 2018, sleep was never really in the cards for me.


We had a toddler that had just recently moved into a big girl bed AND her own room, I was 7 months pregnant at the time and getting more uncomfortable by the day and my husband, well, he had gotten himself caught in the middle of two terrible sleepers (my toddler and I). Or, I guess technically in relation to our queen sized bed, on the outside of two terrible sleepers.


Like I said, sleep was not really great.


toddler on Endy mattress


Fast forward to August, when little sister came into the picture. Instead of three of us in the bed, we went from three in the bed and one in the bassinet - four of us sharing one small bedroom. In a two bedroom condo. It wasn’t working. We knew something had to give.


I had gone from being pushed out of bed by my horizontal sleeping toddler to waking every few hours to feed the baby AND having my spot in bed taken by my oldest when I got back. Safe to say, my sleep had only gotten worse.


baby on Endy mattress


We had been talking about buying a new mattress for some time, but with recently taking on a mortgage, financially it wasn’t really an option.


When Endy reached out asking if we’d like to join the Endy Partner Family and try their Canadian-made and manufactured mattress, customizable pillows and sheet set, I knew this was our chance to start taking our sleep more seriously.


Endy is revolutionizing the way Canadians sleep with its ridiculously comfortable, supportive and Canadian-made mattress. Since launching in 2015, they have become one of Canada’s direct-to-consumer mattress market leaders, and continue to thrive as one of the country’s fastest growing eCommerce companies.


You’ve probably seen their ads all over social media, public transportation and maybe even on TV, BUT what are their mattresses really like? Are the pillows and sheets really worth it?


toddler and baby on be with Endy pillows


Well, this mama is here to tell you with our HONEST 6-Month Endy Mattress, Pillow and Sheet Set Review.



I often get the question, “Do you really like it?”. And to be honest, I get that about quite a few of the products I chose to share on my blog. As I say over and over, I only work with those brands that I know, trust and love. If I don’t like it, you’ll know about it. My honesty is all over this blog of mine and this review is no exception. The opinions shared in this post are 100% those of my husband and myself after trying the Endy Mattress from January to June.


Before you dive into our 6-month review, be sure to check out our first impressions here.


Our Honest 6-Month Endy Mattress Review



The Pros

  • It is made right here in Canada. That, I can support.
  • It is delivered right to your door, absolutely FREE. If you don’t own a car, this is key!
  • It comes tightly packaged in a box, saving space in your home while you wait to set it up (or remove your old mattress).
  • As an added bonus, the Endy box makes the perfect toddler “play house”.
  • The set up itself is impressively easy. You take it out the box, lay it on your box spring, remove the plastic covering and voila - within minutes your mattress is ready to be tested!
  • The Endy Pillows are incredible, and depending on what type of sleeper you are, you can even customize them by removing or adding some of the foam. They are also hypoallergenic and come with a 60-night risk-free trial and a 3 year manufacturer warranty in case something goes wrong.
  • The Endy Sheets are 480 thread count, 100% sateen weave cotton and feel like hotel sheets. They also come with a 60-night risk-free trial and are also protected by a 1-year warranty against manufacturing defects.
  • The mattress has very little motion transfer. (I’m sure my husband appreciates this as I toss and turn trying to fall back to sleep after what feels like the fifteen hundredth night feed.)
  • Their return policy. If you don’t like it, you can return it within 100 nights. No questions asked. (I honestly don’t know who would though.) Also to note, Endy works with 124 local charity partners across the country to pick up and donate your mattress if it doesn’t make it past the 100 Night Trial.


The (Not So “Conny”) Cons

  • While the Endy Mattress is packaged in a box for easy transport, the box is pretty heavy. You may need assistance to move it to its final resting spot.
  • When we first opened the mattress, it did have a bit of a chemically smell, but that dissipated fairly quickly.
  • It does take a few nights getting used to. Definitely not a bad thing considering what we were feeling was the support our old mattress lacked.
  • Starting at $675 for a Twin, it is a bit on the pricier side if you’re on a budget. BUT then again, what is a better night’s sleep and your overall health worth to you?
  • Our biggest dislike we have about the mattress is that we didn’t get a bigger size. And that’s the truth. Our family (girls included) love it so much that we should have gotten a bigger size to fit all 4 of us! 


Conclusion

I know what you’re probably thinking - “They got it for free. If they had to spend the money on an Endy, would they?”. Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes, we did get this sleep set in exchange for an honest review, BUT if we had to do it all over again, we absolutely would still choose Endy. In our honest opinion, it is worth every single penny. Your sleep and well being is worth every single penny.


The Endy Mattress is incredibly comfortable, providing support in all the right places. I wake up feeling refreshed - no kinks in my neck, no sore back, nothing but refreshed. Well, refreshed as a mom of a 3 year old and a 10 month old can feel…


toddler and baby with Endy mattress


Do you own an Endy Mattress? Let me know your experience in the comments below. If you’re thinking of buying one, feel free to ask me any questions you have. Also be sure to take advantage of my coupon code below.


Are you looking for a better night’s sleep? Use code TOANDFRO50 for $50 OFF your Endy Mattress.





*Disclosure: I received an Endy sleep set in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% that of To & Fro.

SHARE:

June 12, 2019

Our Sleep Story: How We Got Our Kids to Go to Sleep - and Stay Asleep - in the Same Room



A few weeks ago, I posted a story on Instagram of the girls playing in their bedroom. From that story, I got quite a few questions - specifically if they share a room, and how we make it work. 

So, whether you are just curious OR are in similar situation, living in a small space with kids sharing a room, read on to learn about our sleep story.

How We Get Got Our Kids to Go to Sleep - and Stay Asleep - in the Same Room

First, let me go back to the very beginning when our oldest daughter Morley was born. We were living in a one bedroom apartment, and from day one we all shared a room. From day one, she was also a very good sleeper. By the time she could walk, she was literally putting herself to bed - she would walk to the bedroom and wait until someone lifted her into her crib. Yes, DREAM sleeper. 

Morley was just over two years old when we moved into our current 750 square foot, 2 bedroom condo. She went from having us in the same room to having her own room and sleeping in a big girl bed, in a brand new place. We honestly thought it would be a nightmare. BUT, again, dream sleeper. 


How We Get Got Our Kids to Go to Sleep - and Stay Asleep - in the Same Room

Then all of two point five seconds passed and little sister Berkley was born. 

For the first few months, Berkley was in the bassinet in our bedroom. But big sister wasn’t ok with that, and ended up in our bed too. 

I know what you’re thinking - why didn’t I just put Morley back in her own bed? Well, unlike Morley, Berkley wasn’t a good sleeper. The little energy I had from waking every few hours I wasn’t willing to spend on fighting with a toddler in the middle of the night. I needed my sleep, and that came at the cost of sharing our bed with someone who loves to sleep horizontally. 

Those first few months flew by and Berkley moved into her crib in the room they now share. We immediately did a happy dance, thinking it meant we’d have our room back. Wrong! Morley stayed in our bed. Berkley was still a terrible sleeper, waking too many times a night to count. And so her fussing, and me going in and out throughout the night, didn’t wake Morley (again, not willing to fight with a toddler int he middle of the night), we let her stay in our bed. 

Most nights I would be playing musical beds - I’d start in my bed, go to feed Berkley and come back to find my side of the bed completely taken over. As a result, I’d either end up on the couch or in Morley’s bed. I know that sounds awful, but it really wasn’t - it meant I got to sleep. Without fear of being hoofed in the head.

But eventually, that got old. It was time we got our bed back. We knew we needed to find a routine that worked, and commit to it. 


How We Get Got Our Kids to Go to Sleep - and Stay Asleep - in the Same Room

Before we could establish this routine, we had to deal with a few challenges that come with living in a small space, and with the girls sharing a room.  

First off, being 2 1/2 years apart, the girls have different sleep needs and habits. It’s not as simple as putting them down at the same time, and walking away. If one is sleeping, the other will fuss. It’s a vicious cycle of waking each other up. (Just one of the reasons we decided sleep training was not an option.) Reading them stories at the same time also doesn’t work. Morley can easily relax through two books, while Berkley is not able to sit still. 

The noise is also an issue. Our small space is anything but quiet. While the girls take care of the noise during the day, we also try to keep a certain noise level during bedtime so that they learn to fall asleep with it. Besides the soothing, this is one of the reasons we play “sleepy time music” at bedtime. We also have a white noise machine, and try to keep the TV at a certain level before dad and I go to bed for the night.

And then there was the issue of the second bedroom itself. Condos are a funny thing - in order to call a room a bedroom, it must receive natural light. The workaround? To create a glass wall, with a glass sliding door. No privacy, and all light all the time. Our solution was to frost the glass. It may not keep the light out, but it does prevent them from seeing us out in the kitchen and living room, and keep their severe FOMO at bay.


How We Get Got Our Kids to Go to Sleep - and Stay Asleep - in the Same Room

And so, ten months later, we’re currently working with this…

Our bedtime routine typically starts around 7:30pm. After bath and snack, dad will read Morley her two books (of her choosing) while I nurse Berkley out in the living room. Once I hear the sleepy time music start, and Berkley is drowsy enough (but not completely out), I put her in her crib. We both leave the room and let the sleep time music do the rest. If all goes well, both girls are down by 9:00pm. On a good night, they both stay asleep the entire night. There are, of course, variations of this schedule - teething, sick kiddos, visiting family, etc. Yes, it may not be perfect, and is a constant work in progress, but it’s what works for us and our current situation.

For us, maintaining this routine also means having items of comfort nearby. When it comes to bedtime favourites, they’ve both been very different. White noise, sleep sac, soother, books, headlamp, stuffy, glass of water and bottle - are just a few of the items they both enjoy to help them sleep. 

Some of mom and dad’s favourites? 

Philips Avent Natural Bottles - These BPA-free bottles have an ergonomic shape for maximum comfort, making them easy to hold and grip in any direction. The ultra soft nipple more closely resembles the breast, making an easier transition from breast to bottle.

Philips Avent Anti-Colic Bottles with Airfree Vent - These bottles are designed to reduce colic, gas and reflux. The shape of the nipple allows a secure latch and stays full even when the bottle is horizontal, allowing baby to drink in an upright position so that they swallow less air as they drink.

Philips Avent Soothie Snuggle - The same great Soothie that many families and medical professionals know and trust, but with a soft, lightweight snuggly toy to help make babies feel secure.


How We Get Got Our Kids to Go to Sleep - and Stay Asleep - in the Same Room

And so, that’s where we’re at in a nutshell. Like I said, not ideal, but we’re working with what we’ve got. And I’m happy to report that I can finally start using multiple hands to count the number of nights I’ve actually slept through the night and have not been woken up by a bed-hopping toddler or fussy baby. Snoring husband is a whole other story though…

What’s your sleep story? What does your kids’ routine look like? What works for them? I’d love to hear!

You can find more about our parenting adventures, and our favourite Philips Avent products, here:




*Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Philips Avent. I received products and/or compensation in exchange for this post. All opinions and advice shares are 100% that of To & Fro.

PIN IT:

Our Sleep Story: How We Got Our Kids to Go to Sleep - and Stay Asleep - in the Same Room

SHARE:

May 29, 2019

Condo Container Gardening, From a Beginner Gardener



When you live in a big and expensive city, sometimes you have to let go of some of your #housegoals - a driveway, garage, home office, backyard, to name a few. 

But then again, there are some you don’t…

Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden

One of the major selling features when we bought our condo was the large terrace, 200 square feet of outdoor space. If we weren’t going to have a backyard, then a space where our kids could play and where we could entertain was a must.

On top of this great outdoor space, and, essentially, extension of our living space in the warmer months, the terrace came with two large planter boxes. I’m talking very large… like herb and vegetable garden large.

Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden

In 2009, the City of Toronto created a bylaw where all new builds over a certain square footage were required to have a green roof. For our condo, this was in the form of the planter boxes. When we moved in, they were filled with a variety of perennials (blooms that come back year after year), that quickly blossomed and became our own little pollinator garden. 

As much as I LOVE a pollinator garden, what I don’t love is our stinging friends being so close to where the girls are playing. And so, those perennials sadly had to go.

With our condo bylaw stating that the planter boxes must stay “green”, we decided to instead use them for an herb and vegetable garden. Might as well get some reward out of them. Am I right?!

Since this type of garden was completely new to me, I immediately turned to my friends at The Home Depot Canada for help. (By the way, did you know that they are THE destination for spring in Canada?) 

When it comes to plants, they have 32 dedicated growers across Canada, 8 here in Ontario. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to go on a field trip with them to visit one of those local growers, family-owned Jeffery’s Greenhouses, in the Niagara-area. Jeffery’s 1.5 million square feet of planting space supplies the annuals to 55 stores in Ontario. Burpee is the edible brand they grow, and includes the majority of potted herbs I bought for our garden.

>> Read on to learn what we planted. <<

Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden

Originally, we had intended to just do one planter with herbs. But, naturally, when I saw the availability of herbs and produce in-store (both in starter and seed), I got excited and overbought. So, our second planter box became dedicated to veggies.

Since we live in a condo and space is at a premium, I didn’t have the luxury of starting seeds indoors in the winter. So instead, I bought a mixture of potted herbs and vegetables, as well as seeds suitable for sowing directly outdoors after last frost.

Most herbs and vegetables do require full sun, for at least six hours a day. Perfect for our north-facing terrace because during the daytime hours, we are bathed in sunlight. Sun equals happy plants. 

Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden

Living in hardiness zone 6a, typically last frost is the beginning of May. BUT, we’ve had such a cool, wet spring so far that planting was a bit delayed. 

Since I can never do anything by myself anymore (#momlife), I “enlisted the help” of my littlest garden buddy, my three year old daughter Morley. I’ll give her credit, after putting on her PAW Patrol gardening gloves (also bought at The Home Depot Canada), she was all in, using all of the strength in her little body to pull out the old plants, and prep the dirt for planting the new. While she was a great help, she did require about 15 snack breaks, so prepping and planting took a little longer than I intended.

But, after those 15 snack breaks, we finished. And I am so happy with the result!

Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden
Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden
Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden
Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden

Nationally, 1 in 8 households live in condos or apartments (2011 National Household Survey). And in Toronto, the largest city in Canada, 20% of the population calls a condo home (2016 census). Small space, urban gardens are on the rise. Just because you live in a small space, does not mean you can't have a garden (and eat it too). 

Gardening is such an immensely pleasurable and enjoyable activity. You have the joy of growing your own food, knowing where it came from, and how it was grown. There’s nothing that beats the ability to harvest the freshest ingredients for your home-cooked meals. Having your kids involved, and teaching them where your food comes from, is also a bonus.

Now, keep your fingers crossed that it’s successful because I’m itching to be able to serve them up on our many terrace BBQs this summer…

What We Planted: 

Planter Box 1 (Herbs): Chives, Dill, Parsley, Basil, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary

Planter Box 2 (Vegetables): Kale, Arugula, Lettuce, Green Onions, Carrots, Beets

Medium-sized pot: Tomatoes 

Small-sized pot: Mint (*)

*It is important to note, mint has an aggressive root system and must be planted on its own or it will completely take over your garden.

Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden

Interested in planting your own small-space container garden?

Between doing my research and planting our gardens, I learned a few things that I think are important to share to help with the success of your garden. This is no way meant to be a comprehensive step-by-step guide. I am in NO WAY a gardening expert (hell, this one may completely fail). 

A Few Things to Think About When Starting Your Own Small-Space Container Garden:

Before deciding to plant herbs and vegetables, it is important to check your condo bylaws! Each condo is different in terms of rules for balconies and terraces. 

Determine your hardiness zone. This will tell you what can grow where, and when. Here is Canada's hardiness zone map.

Set a budget to help determine what kind of things you can invest in, like the size and type of containers, quality of soil, and size of raised beds you can purchase. For those on a tight budget, think about starting small and gradually expanding each year.

Do your research. So you know what can grow in your area, and based on that info, you have created a list of what you want to plant. Now its time to learn about how much water, sunlight, space (i.e. space between plantings, do they sprawl vs. grow vertically), and love the plants you want to grow need. Based on this info, come up with a garden plan. 

Make sure to observe the location you have selected for a few days. Your container should be kept in a position where it can enjoy a fair amount of sun during the day. The amount of space and sun will determine how much you can grow and also what kind of plants you can grow.

Consider whether you want to start with seeds or transplants. Many varieties (i.e. carrots, beets) do best when direct seeded while other plants (i.e. tomatoes, peppers) should be started indoors in advance or purchased as seedlings to ensure there is enough time for them to grow and mature.

Remember that a successful vegetable garden takes time to manage and maintain. You can’t just plant your garden and forget about it until the harvest rolls around. Remember it needs to be watered, weeded AND harvested. And don’t forget about the end of the growing season - putting your garden to bed in the fall is just as important.

Have fun with it!

Urban Gardening - Creating a Condo Container Herb & Vegetable Garden

Do you have a garden? What is your favourite thing to grow (and eat)? I’d love to hear!




*Disclosure: This post is in partnership with the Home Depot Canada. However, all opinions are 100% that of To & Fro. Thank you Home Depot!

PIN IT:





SHARE:

May 21, 2019

Baby's First Picnic in the Park



At three years old, I have proudly watched my oldest daughter check many firsts off the list. But BY FAR my favourite first to watch her master, was becoming a big sister. 

Coming from personal experience, the role of big sister comes with many new responsibilities - learning to share toys (and mom’s attention) with little sister, teaching little sister new skills and sharing in many of little sister’s very own firsts. 


One of our oldest daughter Morley’s favourite places to visit is the local park. Throughout the year, you can usually find us there a few times a week, whether it’s tobogganing in the winter, swimming at the public pool on a hot day or simply enjoying a picnic on the grass.

Since little sister Berkley was born, big sister has been itching to show her “the ropes” (pun intended) at the park. And now that Berkley is nine months old and mobile, and the weather is FINALLY getting warmer, it’s about time we make big sister’s wish come true.


Besides going on the swings, down the slide and just having a good sit, watching big sister run around, one of our favourite things to do at the park is to have a picnic. What better way to take advantage of a sunny day? 

We love a good picnic - but picnicking with two littles ones isn’t always easy.

In order for the picnic to be a success, you must be prepared. Here is what we bring with us to make our picnics in the park both toddler- and baby-friendly, AND lots and lots of fun!

First up, the important stuff - no picnic is complete without the picnic food! Like any other meal, when picnicking with little ones, options are also key. 

Prepping meals for those at different stages of eating (i.e. those with teeth and those without) can be a lot of prep work, so I look for things that they can both eat.

For the babe: We bring apple sauce pouches, rice rusks, and favourite fingers foods such as diced fruit (blueberries and strawberries), quinoa and chopped avocado. It can get pretty messy, so make sure you also bring extra wipes, a change of clothes and towel. 

For our toddler: We bring cheese, meat and crackers, cut up veggies (cucumbers and snap peas are a favourite) with hummus, sliced fruit (usually cantaloupe and pineapple), apple sauce pouches, juice boxes, plenty of water and… cookies!


At just 5g sugar per serving, My First Bear Paws cookies are made better, so your child can snack better. With no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners and peanut-free, they are the perfect snack to pack into your picnic bag. They are now available in a new stand up resealable bag for easy snacking, and packing back into your bag at the end of your park visit.



As the spring temperatures can still be unpredictable, it’s important to dress for the weather. A light sweater, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and appropriate shoes are a must. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray (if needed). 

Don’t forget the other essentials - a picnic blanket, cooler, plates and cutlery. I don’t use disposables with picnics because there may not always be a trashcan or recycling bin near by. I keep a small plastic bag in my picnic basket for any trash we accumulate.


Lastly, the picnic location. These active kiddos won’t sit still for long, so it’s important to find a picnic area that has something to offer them — like a splash pad, pool or, in our case, playground. And if not, I suggest packing up a few activities or toys to occupy them while you eat. While our park does have a pool and playground, it’s always fun to bring buckets and shovels to play in the sand. A soccer ball, frisbee and bubbles are also guaranteed a fun time. 

Our baby- and toddler-friendly picnic list:

  • Blanket
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Wipes
  • Wide-brimmed hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Reusable plates and cutlery
  • Water (in reusable bottles)
  • Wagon
  • Cooler bag
  • Buckets and shovels
  • Bubbles 
  • Soccer ball
  • Frisbee
  • Food


While the picnicking part itself may last all of five minutes, and the prep may seem longer than the reward, the reward of picnicking with a toddler and baby comes in seeing big sister share one of her favourite spots with little sister for the very first time. And that better first, makes it all worth it. 

What are some of the firsts that you have enjoyed watching? I'd love to hear!





*Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Dare’s My First Bear Paws and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.



PIN IT:

baby friendly park picnic tips


SHARE:
Blog Design Created by pipdig