Enjoying the Motherhood Journey - Care to join me on the ride?

Enjoying the Motherhood Journey - Care to join me on the ride?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Family-Friendly North American Hotels

There’s never a dull moment in the J-Kam household; we are traveling 24/7! And because we’ve all been bitten by the travel bug, we value family-friendly hotel accommodations. So for my 1st blog entry of 2012, I will share a list of our upcoming 2012 hotel adventures:

Holiday Inn Express – Syracuse, NY (Fairgrounds)
You can never go wrong with Holiday Inn Express because you get consistent customer services and affordable pricing. We like staying at their chains because we know what to expect – no surprises and no disappointment. Raychel likes the cereal and juice selections at the free breakfast. I like the room cleanliness and the pool/gym amenities. Ray likes the free parking. We stayed here for 1 night to visit my sister and family. She’s attending Syracuse University. We would all stay here again.

Disney World – Pop Century Resort
This hotel celebrates and recognizes all the decades of the 20th century. Also, you see tall statues of lovable Disney characters like Lady and the Tramp, Dalmatians’, and more! It’s located right in the heart of the Disney World complex so you don’t need to travel far on their free shuttle buses to experience any of their amazing parks. And a bigger bonus – as a Disney resort guest, you can take advantage of the extended theme park hours. Bye-bye, long line ups! All 3 of us are excited for our 2 night stay in March after a visit with Nana and Poppa at their home in Port Charlotte.

Westin Grand – Vancouver
Located in downtown Vancouver close to Yaletown, this hotel is really special. I stay here for business but it’s still a great family hotel. It has all the great amenities that Westin/Starwood offers plus excellent bar and restaurant services. You can always find water containers filled with fresh fruit and veggies around the common areas. One morning, I filled up my water bottle with lychee, mints and blackberries. It was quite refreshing. When we go to Vancouver at the end of June, we will be staying here. I’m sure Raychel will love the outdoor pool and the Heavenly shower head.

Super 8 Motel – Niagara Falls
An affordable chain, with simple in-room features, this is a place where families would go just to rest & shower. A perfect one night stay in the summer! I have Dealfind vouchers for this motel and I will plan to invite the in-laws to join us for a weekend in the summer. There’s an outdoor pool so Raychel can enjoy a dip after a day around Clifton Hills.

Great Wolf Lodge – Niagara Falls
This lodge has everything a child could want – a Water Park, Cabin themed rooms, storytelling time and MagicQuest – an interactive adventure with a Classic wand. What haven’t they thought of?! Another great thing about this place is that there are always promotional codes and discounts. And of course, it’s only 2 hours from Toronto. Hopefully we can plan a 1 night stay with our friends or old neighbours this year. All our kids would love it!

Carnival Cruise – Caribbean 5 days
To celebrate our 1 year anniversary, we will plan a R-cubed cruise trip around the Caribbean. I’ve only been on the Disney cruise and both Ray & Raychel haven’t broken in their sea legs so I hope we get to enjoy an intimate family vacation. And there’s lots of fun, exciting activities on-board for Raychel that we can let her play in a supervised setting while we get Mommy & Daddy time!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

C’est Hallowe’en!

Autumn is here; which means kids are starting to plan for Halloween. It’s over a month away but retail stores, magazines; pretty much all of North America recognizes that Halloween is approaching quickly. Parents just got past the back-to-school rush and now they have to think about costumes and pumpkins?

Nonetheless, Halloween is a big event for me. I swear you’d think I was still a child b/c I’m super excited to shop for costumes, watch all the Halloween themed sitcoms and start searching for creative pumpkin stencils than the average Mom. When my Today’s Parent October 2011 issue came in the mail, I was eager to read anything related to Halloween.

In this issue, there are lots of fun, easy spooky Halloween recipes you can make with your kids. If you’re already starting to shop for candy and decorations, you should start thinking about planning a day to do family baking. Whether it’s raining, sunny or trying to get into the Halloween spirit, try this spooky themed recipe with your kids and enjoy all the fun messy moments together.

Sprinkly Marshmallow Pops:
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup Halloween coloured sprinkles
12-15 large marshmallows
12-15 popsicles or wooden candy sticks

1. Place chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered on high, stirring once, until chocolate is nearly melted, about 1 minute. Stir to melt fully.
2. Place sprinkles in a bowl
3. Dip each marshmallow in chocolate so it goes partway up the sides. Then dip chocolate in sprinkles. Place marshmallows, sprinkle side up, on baking tray to set. Once set, poke sticks into centre of plain side of marshmallow.

Makes 12-15 marshmallow pops.

In 1 pop: 66 calories, 1.5 g fat


Friday, August 19, 2011

Raychel - The Furniture Colouring Artist

Raychel loves to colour. This is a normal activity for a toddler. She likes to colour in books, paper, carpet and on her hands. She enjoys using her Tadoodles in the bath and colouring on the wall tiles.

But her favourite thing to colour is the living room sofa.

First off, let me describe our sofa: leather, contemporary style, pale yellow with chrome leg pegs. Our daughter thinks it’s a big blank canvas. As you can imagine, our sofa has seen better days.

I like to think she is a creative child that is inspired by all the amazing things around her. She is learning something new every day and she feels the need to express her creativity through her marker. As much as I want her to be the next Picasso, we have to stop her from damaging the furniture. How? We must buy her an art easel.

I will plan to take Raychel to Toys R Us soon and let her see the easels in stock. I’ve done my research and found a few easels she may like. Check out these pics.

We hope that buying her an easel will eliminate her desire to colour on the furniture. But, if the occasional accident occurs, I will take some tips on how to remove the stains from the following website:

Parents, I recommend buying Crayola’s Tadoodles for bath time fun. They’re easy to use, come in variety of colours and non-toxic in case your toddler decides to have a snack. You can get them at Wal-Mart, Zellers, Toys R Us.

Here’s what they look like:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kid-Friendly Toronto/GTA Restaurants

Dining Out w/kids? No problem! Check out where Kids Eat Free!

  1. Montana’s
    When? Tuesday

  2. Hooters
    When? Weekends

  3. East Side Mario’s
    When? Monday

  4. Frankie Tomatto
    When? Monday

  5. Pizza Hut
    When? Tuesday

  6. Boston Pizza
    When? Any day with an adult purchasing a meal

  7. Golden Griddle
    When? Wednesday

  8. Denny’s
    When? Tuesday, Saturday between 4PM-10PM

*Also, refer to these websites for other Kids Eat Free restaurants:



Happy Dining Friends!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Uh-No! Back Up Child Care

“I will not play tug o' war. I'd rather play hug o' war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.” - Shel Silverstein

There is a high demand for good quality, affordable child care in Scarborough. Simply put, there's not enough supply to support the demand. Since I'm back in the work force, I need consistent and reliable child care service. Yes, having it be affordable is a huge factor, but to me what I value the most is consistency. I know we can't avoid illness, personal appointments, other reasons to be absent from work but if your primary child care service provider calls in sick last minute, what do YOU do? Ask family members? Friends? Work from home?

Sometimes parents don't have a backup support of family or friends. How do they overcome this issue? In regards to my situation, I am lucky enough to have in-laws who can assist if I'm ever stuck without a babysitter.

Also, here's one of my backup solution: I've asked whenever possible with my babysitter to please let me know 24 hours in advance IF they feel like they're unable to watch Raychel the next day (a cold/sickness is starting). This isn't always possible but if a friendly "headup" is given to me, I have the chance to start coordinating alternative child care arrangements before it's too late.

Setting up alternative child care is very important to us at this current moment because of my new job. I have a 3 month probation period and I want to make a good impression. My child care needs to be solid because I can't afford to take time off or work from home. Ray will need to be a stronger support unit too during this probation period since he would technically have more flexibility to work from home if necessary.

I will however take additional precautions by investigating last minute babysitting services that are frequently advertising in Today's Parent. Here are a list of Babysitting Vendors in the Toronto area I plan to research:

Nannies On Call

Canadian Sitters

Custom Comfort Care Inc.

I'll keep you posted on my discoveries and experiences.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Toddlers and the cold/flu season

It's near the end of cold/flu season, however children are still managing to get sick. We as parents take preventative measures to avoid our child(ren) catching a cold but some how they manage to still catch a cold. Don't feel like a bad parent; it's very common. No matter how frequently you wash their hands, dress accordingly to the weather, stay hydrated and get the proper amount of sleep, we can't stop them from getting sick. Here are a few signs and symptoms of your wee one starting to get sick:

Watery eyes, runny/stuffy nose, bad cough, diarrhea, fever, achy ears, loss of appetite.

Raychel is almost 16 months so my fears and concerns are very different to when she was under 6 months if she started to show signs of sickness. She's a bit older , has been healthy all of her life and didn't have too many complications from 0-6 months where it's a higher risk for sick babies. They say if a child under 6 months develops a fever, call your doctor immediately.

A common sick trait for Raychel is watery, red sore eyes. Just by looking at them, it affects her whole facial expression and you can tell she's not herself. She looks very dazed and tired; just suffering. Some people would say this is a common allergy symptom but this trait is due to a cold.

When this occurs, I give her Coryzalia Cold - from the boiron line. Also, I wipe and pat her eyes with a clean, damp cloth.

Lastly, to help Raychel sleep through the night with a cold, I turn on the humidifier in her room (Thanks Rehana). It's made by Vicks and it has a section where you add Vicks vapour eucalyptus oil that releases through the mist vapour to help with breathing. It's very soothing and calming and works well for her.

Todaysparent.com states when using a humidifier for your child, it's important to keep it bacteria-free. Use distilled water when filling it up, be sure to empty all the leftover water from previous use, and clean/disinfect the water reservoir frequently.

Good luck; this season is almost done!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Raychel’s “healthy” Kraft Dinner meal

Planning dinner for the family after a long day of work can be challenging. Then on top of this, you have to cook it too. I will admit that I will occasionally depend on quick meals like Kraft Dinner because I may not have the energy to cook a proper home-cooked meal. But I do try to ensure that Raychel eats vegetables and protein with her meals so here’s my version of a “healthy” Mac & Cheese.

First off, I say “healthy” in quotations because I can’t hide the fact that there’s sodium and other products that is not recommended on a daily basis. However, I can incorporate some fresh produce to the meal to ensure that she gets a balanced diet. KD has whole wheat pasta now so you can avoid filling up on white starch and still enjoy the traditional taste.

I use the following items:

1 box of whole wheat Kraft Dinner (2 boxes if Ray is having some too)

½ cup of peas or green beans (frozen or fresh, never canned)

½ cup of carrots cut into cubes (frozen or fresh, never canned)

Optional: 2 grilled chicken breasts, cut into cubes (cut them in a fashion to avoid choking)

Cook the mac & cheese like you normally would. Start grilling the meat; ensure that it’s cooked thoroughly. Set aside and let cool. Then in a separate pot, cook the veggies until they’re tender. After the cheese has been added to the pasta, strain the veggies and add to the pasta. Mix well. Cut the chicken and add to the pasta and veggies. Mix one last time.

If you don’t have any meat, you can use canned tuna. I would recommend the tuna after the child has been tested for allergies.

I often have leftovers so we will pack this for her lunch for daycare. She enjoys eating this meal because it’s colouful, helps her develop fine motor skills (uses her fingers or spoon to fed), and it’s cheese flavour – something she adores.

In total, this takes 15 mins to cook. 5-10 mins to prep. From box to dinner table, under 30 mins maximum.

Bon Appetite!