Top 6 Stocking Stuffers and Gifts for 0-5 Year Olds

If you’re anything like me, you put a lot of thought and effort into the gifts you buy in the holiday season, especially when it comes to the under 5 set. My kids have enough junk to last them a lifetime so when I’m picking something out for them it needs to check off at least one of the following boxes on my ‘gift quality’ checklist; educational, practical (yes I’m that mom), or long lasting so it can be passed down to others. When I showed my checklist to the lovely ladies at Boomers and Echoes Kids and Maternity, not only did they not laugh at me, but they had awesome gift and stocking stuffer ideas for babies and kids that passed even my tough muster and then some! Here is what they suggested:

Top 6 Gift Ideas on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

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The van Mil’s go Country at the Timberline Country Christmas

We love all the fun Christmas family events in Vancouver that pop up this time of year. There are some that we do every year without fail, and new ones that we add to our roster each year. This week we checked out the Timberline Country Christmas in Maple Ridge for the first time and I know it will become a family favourite tradition in the years to come!

Timberline Ranch Country Christmas on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

From beginning to end there was so much to see and do that kept both our toddler and our 6-year-old entertained!  Everything was well planned and executed in small, staggered groups so it was never over crowded and we could relax and enjoy our experience.

We started off with cookie making which was a big hit for the girls (and Daddy too)! They spread their icing on their cookie Christmas trees and decorated it with red and green smarties – most of which didn’t make it to my toddler’s cookie before she ate them. They then had a little snack to nibble on as we went to the other activities!

Cookie decorating at Timberline Country Christmas

The girls had a ball at the next stop (pun fully intended) throwing “snowballs”, making snowmen crafts and hamming it up in the photo area. There were some neat interactive boards that explored the origins of some of holiday traditions including Santa Claus (with a nod to Sinterklaas – woot!), mistletoe, stockings and more. They also had a separate room where they did a story time every 20 minutes, but my girls heard the call for the wagon ride and were off like a shot! We never did make it back for the story, but it will definitely be on the list for our next visit.

Timberline Country Christmas Collage

The covered wagon ride was one of my favourite parts of our country experience, and I loved the blending of the old and new with the vintage styled covered wagon and the iPad hooked up to speakers playing all our favourite Christmas tunes. Aven especially loved every little bump and bounce, giggling away like a mad woman. The wagon took us over to the barn where the petting zoo and pony rides were. We had booked pony rides ahead of time as they are one of the very few things not included in the admission and I was glad we did. Adri, at almost 6, LOVES ponies and horses and although my youngest was apprehensive at first, she quickly got the hand of it and loved every minute with Penny, her pony. The petting zoo was equally as popular with the goats, sheep, ducks and more, and the girls even tried their hand at a game of horseshoes!

Wagon and Pony Rides at Timberline Ranch

Sadly our time was over when the wagon came to pick us up from the barn and take us back to pick up our crafts and find our car. We got one last treat with a beautiful sunset on our journey back!

Sunset at Timberline Ranch

The Timberline Country Christmas definitely gave us some extra holiday cheer and put a spring in our step, as you can see here……

I would highly recommend checking out the Timberline Country Christmas with the entire family. Be sure to visit their website for a complete list of activities and to reserve your spot! This event only runs until December 21st, and is booking up fast, so don’t wait! I hope we’ll see you there on our next visit!!

All on the table disclaimer: While I was compensated for this post, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers.


My Oh MyMayu! The Best Waterproof Boots for Kids

I know you’ll all be shocked to hear that it is a rainy day here in Vancouver. For those of you unfamiliar with our climate, we have almost as many words for rain as the Inuit do for snow. It could be misting, sprinkling, drizzling, showering, pouring, coming down sideways, in sheets, in torrents or like cats and dogs! Today is feeling rather monsoon-like, and while I’m feeling a bit guilty that I’m warm and cozy with my tea and my tech, I’m happy knowing that my munchkin will stay dry and happy splashing about outside in her MyMayu boots!

Aven in MyMayu boots on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

Copyright Javier Solsona www.javiersolsona.com www.thesolchronicles.com

MyMayu’s Muddy Munchkin line of boots are perfect for nature walks and outdoor adventures, rain or shine! These waterproof boots for kids have flexible soles and are designed to hug the ankles and stay on, protecting your little ones all the way up to their knees while not tripping them up as they go! Not only are they great for wet weather, but when we had our recent snowfall, I popped their warm liners into the boots and we were good to go!

MyMayu Boots and Liners on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

MyMayu boots were the brain child of a local Mom and Dad who were tired of their outdoor fun being cut short by all the falls of a little boy struggling to run, jump, climb and play in clunky, ill-fitting boots. They knew their had to be a better way, and after much research and hard work, they found the solution! I had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne and Javier on the photoshoot for MyMayu and see their passion for play firsthand as my toddler was free to explore the beautiful duck pond while staying warm and dry!

Aven playing in a pond with MyMayu boots on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

Copyright Javier Solsona www.javiersolsona.com www.thesolchronicles.com

MyMayu boots are a bit pricier when compared to your average rain boot, but here’s why they’re worth every penny and then some.

1. They have a longer life. With the option of a removable liner, not only will they last through Fall, Winter and Spring, but it offers an extra layer for smaller feet with room to grow for bigger feet when removed. Add in the adjustable toggles at the ankles and top and you have a completely customizable boot that will fit every foot! This means your child won’t outgrow them as quickly as other boots.

2. They are made from high quality materials. MyMayu cares about the environment and the health of your little ones, which is why their boots are vegan; the uppers are 100% recycled polyester and the soles are BPA free and completely recyclable. This durability means these boots will last and can be passed on to siblings or friends!

3. They are ethical. MyMayu has chosen to manufacture in North America instead of looking for cost cutting options overseas. They carefully monitor the the working conditions of the people making their products to ensure a healthy work environment and a living wage. This means you can feel good about supporting a company that cares for every detail involved from beginning to end!

Aven playing in MyMayu boots on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

Copyright Javier Solsona www.javiersolsona.com www.thesolchronicles.com

Now that my toddler is footloose and fancy free in her MyMayu boots, my 6 year old is always asking when she can get her own Muddy Munchkins. She is a monkey herself, and very petite for her age, so often finds that her boots get in the way of games of tag, tree climbing and gymnastics (because who doesn’t love a cartwheel in a puddle)? MyMayu boots currently only go up to a size 7/8, but I am so excited that their line of boots for big kids will be coming in Spring of 2015! I will be first in line to grab a pair (or 4).

I am so passionate about seeing these boots on everyone that I have officially become an ambassador for them! What that means is that all my lovely readers get a 10% discount using a special code from me! If you’re interested, send me a quick email with “MyMayu Discount Code” in the subject line to heather@wordofmommarketing.ca and I’ll send the code and instructions right back. Enjoy!


*GIVEAWAY* A Holiday Adventure with Windy & Friends #WindyHoliday

Mornings come early in our house. Very early. Sometimes it is a struggle to keep my toddler in bed until 5 am and I must admit that this Mama doesn’t function so well at 5 am. I’m always on the lookout for ways to help entertain my 20 month old while the caffeine does its job, and her big sister is still fast asleep (lucky girl). Sometimes she’ll happily play with her baby, some Lego or have fun serving me ‘coffee’ from her kitchen, but other times she needs a bit more stimulation. This morning was one of those mornings so we decided to check out a new app from Windy & Friends!

WINDY AND FRIENDS on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Windy started as a popular series of children’s books by Vancouver-based Emily Carr grads Judith Steedman and Robin Mitchell Cranfield. The Windy and Friends app is a series of interactive stories for the PreK set. The unique thing about Windy and Friends is that there is always a craft or activity following the “appisode” to encourage kids to put down the iPad and create real world projects.

When we first started exploring the app, I assumed that my 6-year-old would get more out of it than my toddler, but I was quickly proven wrong. Both girls loved the story and the interactive activities kept them both engaged in different ways. My oldest was thrilled to find a match cards memory game included in the app – her absolute favourite game, while my youngest played with the soundboard, and delighted in having control over all the different instruments. You’ll find her review in the video below:


That’s a toddler two thumbs up!

I was impressed that the creators were able to capture the wide age and ability range between my daughters and will definitely be checking out the other appisodes from Windy and Friends. This interactive app for preschoolers is a must have addition to your iPad or iPhone this holiday season and beyond! Lucky for you guys, I have an awesome giveaway for you to enjoy some Windy & Friends and other holiday treats. Enjoy!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


All on the table disclaimer: While I was compensated for this post, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers. 


*GIVEAWAY* All I Want For Christmas is a……Tattoo? #OneDayKids

Christmas has been a little late in coming to the van Mil house this year. I am normally the first in line at the tree lot on opening day, and blasting the Christmas music as soon as the jack-o-lanterns have decomposed are put away, but this year it snuck up on me. I’m slowly catching up; plans have been made for the tree, chocolate letters have been bought, there are a few presents hiding around the house, and I made these super cute Christmas videos to share with friends and family using the OneDay App. You can even play fun trivia games with them. For example, in this video, see if you can guess my 20 month old’s favourite word!

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OneDay is an instant movie maker app that makes it simple, fun and easy to create short movies of your child’s life! It was so simple that my 6-year-old quickly took over (with some minor reading help from me), and now I have a budding dictator director on my hands!


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Their fun story sets include topics for babies, toddlers, kids and adults as well as some rotating themed ideas like Thanksgiving, Halloween and – of course – Christmas! Preserving precious memories is as easy as recording video clips answering their question sets and pressing done! You can re-record segments you don’t like, skip questions you don’t want and when you are ready, the app automatically stitches the videos together and adds music to make a special memory that you can share with all your loved ones. Best of all, you can look back on these treasured moments long after your Christmas tattoos have faded and stretched (watch the video).

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Thanks to OneDay, and a fantastic group of bloggers, not only can you create your own holiday hilarity, but you can also win a $150 Visa Gift Card while you’re at it! The giveaway is open to the US and Canada, and you can enter as many times as rafflecopter allows. Good luck, have fun and PLEASE share all your festive films and questionable tattoos with me!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

All on the table disclaimer: While I was compensated for this post, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers. 


Tough Love or Tender Lessons

Defiant child on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

Defiance, thy name is a 4 year old child

Parenting often seems to be a juggling act and the balance between extremes frequently eludes me. Things are usually fairly simple, if not exhausting with my 20 month old, but for the last 18 months or so, ever since my oldest was around 4 1/2 years old, I have particularly struggled with the tough love parenting vs. the tender lessons method. At 4.5 my sweet, energetic-yet-cooperative daughter turned into an (at times) argumentative, un-cooperative young girl. She questions everything my hubby and I say, and often argues for the sake of having an opposing view. While not always taking things at face value is a skill I ultimately want to encourage and I think will serve her well in life, it is EXHAUSTING, and this is often where the tough love mommy comes out to play.

Yesterday we were getting ready for a family walk in the newly fallen snow. She had left her boots at her friend’s who lived upstairs and, seeing as they were still asleep, we were not ready to retrieve them. We suggested she find her other fuzzy boots, or get some really thick socks and wear her rainboots. She wanted to do neither of these. We told her it wasn’t an option and we weren’t going to spend hours arguing over it. We got about 2 blocks into our winter wonderland walk when she started complaining that her feet were cold. Turns out that while we were getting her little sister and ourselves ready, she had taken none of our friendly “suggestions” and had worn old rainboots with cracks in them – and no socks. Tough Love Mommy said that she was disappointed that she had made such poor choice, but we weren’t going to let her choice affect the rest of the family’s fun, and continued on to our destination one more block away.

By the time we made it to the park, she was well into the “I’m so sad and cold but I’ll have a stiff upper lip because my parents are so mean” act that she has mastered so well, and my veneer was cracking as visions of frostbite danced in my head. I popped her on the swing, slid her boots off and used my warm mitts as make shift socks, before putting her boots back on. Tender Lessons Mommy had appeared quicker than you could say “Polkaroo” (Google it). We enjoyed the rest of our snowy adventure and went home to hot tea and naps.

I was torn about my decisions in that situation, as I often am when these conflicts continuously arise. My daughter is attempting to assert her own independence and control, and I strive to allow many situations where she can do that unhindered.  When I need to put down my foot and insist that she do certain things and she doesn’t co-operate, I am rarely satisfied with how I handle it. If Tough Love Mommy has paid a visit, I feel afterwards that I was too strict. If Tender Lessons Mommy had her way, I feel like I was too permissive and she’ll never follow through. If it switches from one to the other, as it did with ‘Bootsgate’, then I feel like I’m confusing her and not being clear on the boundaries. No matter which way things play out, I feel like I could have done better. Why didn’t anyone warn me that kids get more difficult with age!

Who rules in your house, Tough Love Mommy or Tender Lessons Mommy? And are Moms EVER confident about the parenting decisions they make? Tell me I’m not alone in this! 


Everything You Need To Know About An RESP

This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and giraffe & friends #giraffeandfriends sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.

I like to believe that, on the whole, I do a pretty good job of tackling parenting issues head on. Like many parents of my generation, I research thoroughly, consult with trusted friends and family and come to a decision on whatever the given topic may be – nothing is off limits.

Before we had 2 girls, my hubby and I explored and debated extensively about circumcision, breast vs. bottle feeding, the best daycares and preschools, when to have THAT discussion with our children. Everything is a well thought out, carefully considered choice. However I do seem to have one glaring blind spot.  I reluctantly admit that I am like an ostrich with my head in the sand when it comes to RESPs.

Ryan Gosling Hey Mama RESP Meme

Everyone loves a bit of RESP humour, but honestly RESPs are my nemesis. I’m sure this situation is familiar to more than one reader.  I found myself pregnant with my first born and after months and months of bed rest and illness, I finally found the energy to get dressed and get out of the house to attend a baby show {kids swap, maternity party, fill-in-the-blank-baby-focused-event} only to be bombarded by people trying to sell me on a savings plan for my precious fetus that didn’t even have a gender or name yet, let alone a financial future. I am not good at saying no in the best of circumstances, and those who know me, know that when I am pregnant I am not at my best. Once I gave them my personal information, they proceed to call and email me to invite themselves into my home so they could continue with their sales pitch. If I wasn’t ‘at my best’ I’m sure you can imagine the state of my house throughout my pregnancies. Do you think I wanted people I liked to grace my door, let alone people I didn’t?

Given all this history, I am so glad there is another way! I was recently introduced to giraffe & friends and let me tell you, they are a breath of fresh air!! With mommy brain in full force I found it impossible to make heads or tails of the overwhelming amount of information and technical jargon being thrown around whenever RESPs were being discussed. That’s why I love how giraffe & friends uses direct and simple language. They keep things straightforward by giving you all the information you need so you can feel confident, not confused, when making big decisions for your family.

Mommy-Brain Proof RESPs

giraffe & friends has checked off every item on your RESP wish list, should you have one (and even if you don’t) with their super mama-friendly RESP plan:

  • NO FEES: Absolutely zero, zilch, nada, no fees service that means you know all your money is going towards your child’s education.
  • GRANTS INCLUDED: giraffe & friends take care of all of the government grants so you don’t miss a thing!
  • SAVINGS GUARANTEED: If you thought ‘mo’ money mo’ problems’ you’ll be especially happy to hear that your personal savings are 100% guaranteed no matter what the stock market is doing.
  • INSURANCE OPTIONS: giraffe & friends goes the extra mile by offering insurance for YOU, the parents, so if the unthinkable happens like a death or permanent disability, they will make your payments for you.
  • NO MIDDLE MAN: Since you can buy online, there’s no need to book an appointment or pack a diaper bag; the application can easily be done at home during your child’s naptime.

They don’t let anything get in the way of your little one’s education. It is literally a no-brainer. Take that mommy brain!!

So  forget about having to tidy your (slightly messy) abode, or even having to get all dolled up (read: finding your one t-shirt with no spit-up stains on it) because you can use giraffe & friends’ fabulous website to buy your child’s RESP! Whether it’s 2am and you’re up with a nursing infant, or you’ve managed to carve out a minute at the computer between episodes of Backyardigans on repeat, it’s there whenever you’re ready. So not only are you not rushing out the door, late for yet another appointment with a grumpy, teething baby in tow, but you also get to indulge your hankering for online shopping, guilt-free. Win-win!

One of the biggest stumbling blocks I have when it comes to RESPs is what it can be used for when the time comes. I never went to university because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and I wasn’t ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to find out. I chose the path of work experience, which led to me pursue a Montessori teaching diploma. I am passionate about children being free to choose the right post-secondary path for them, no matter what it looks like. Thankfully, when you save with an RESP, not only does it cover many non-traditional education options like the one I chose (a full list of what is approved can be found here), but the money can also be spent on most post-secondary school expenses including food, rent, car and apprenticeship tools, so long as your child is enrolled in an approved form of post-secondary education. It can also be used in conjunction with a scholarship or student loan and can even be put on hold should your child decide not to pursue a post-secondary education immediately.

So whether you contribute $25 per month or $250, getting started now with giraffe & friends will ensure your child’s education gets a strong start. Now if only choosing a name for your child was so easy!

An RESP is a great way to save for your child’s education. No matter what education your child attends, it will take lots of money to graduate. Visit the ‘How To Plan For Your Kids’ Future’ page  and learn the best ways for parents to save money, what to look for in an RESP, when you should start saving for your child’s education, and more.

Then visit giraffe & friends, Canada’s first no-fee, worry-free, 100% guaranteed RESP that you can buy online. The process is so simple you can start saving for your children’s future education while they nap. Kids grow out of everything. Give them something to grow into.


*GIVEAWAY* Nuggets… a #OneDayKids Test Drive

I’ve been told I’m a bit of a pack rat. I am loath to part with anything, knowing that I can always find a use for it sooner or later (sometimes MUCH later). I hang on to clothes and shoes I’ve outgrown, cords from electronics that we no longer own and make up that is waaaaay past it’s expiration date, but the thing I hoard most is memories. I’ve always been like this; holding onto notes from high school, old movie ticket stubs and even luggage tags, but ever since I’ve had kids my pack rat tendencies have gone into overdrive! I keep so many of their clothes, photos of course, their hospital bracelets, locks of hair, lost teeth and every single piece of paper they have ever scribbled on – all with the intention of putting them into a gorgeous scrapbook that records their every move from the first contraction onwards. The trouble is, as all you moms know, along with the lack of space that comes with kids (and pack rats), there is also a significant lack of TIME! These beautiful scrapbooks are still a twinkle in my eye, and might see the light of day by the time my kids have kids of their own. That is why I am so thankful for the One Day app! It’s an instant movie maker app that makes it simple, fun and easy to create short movies of your child’s life! Their fun story sets include topics for babies, toddlers, kids and adults as well as some rotating themed ideas. Making memories is as easy as recording video snippets answering their question sets and pressing done! The app automatically stitches the videos together and adds music to make a gorgeous memory that you can share with family and friends. Best of all, it doesn’t take up any room in your house!

I decided to try my hand at recording some ‘words of wisdom’ for my munchkins to absorb when they’re a bit older. Hopefully they’ll get some nuggets out of it…..gold or otherwise!

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Almost no one likes the sound of their own voice, and I’m no exception, but I do like that I’m creating so many memories that my kids will have forever. With my own Dad’s passing recently, this is more important to me than ever and I love how easy the One Day app makes this.

Thanks to OneDay, as well as a TON of amazing bloggers (moi aussi, of course), not only do you get this fantastic time-capsule-in-an-app, but you can also win a $150 gift card to Amazon.com! The giveaway is open to the US and Canada, and you can enter as many times as rafflecopter allows. Good luck, have fun and PLEASE share all your gorgeous videos with me!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


All on the table disclaimer: While I was compensated for this post, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers. 


Knock Knock

“Knock Knock”

“Who’s there?”


“Toilet who?”



It’s clear that my 5 year old is a budding humorist. Knock Knock jokes are the height of hilarity for her – the more nonsensical, the better. Given this love of laughter, I know she’ll get a big kick out of Netflix November line up of funny flicks.


Big Kids
Little Kids

If you’re looking to tickle your little one’s funny bone, or cold and flu season has hit your household particularly hard and all your munchkin wants to do is curl up on the couch, check out these titles for a big dose of comic relief. After all, laughter is the best medicine!


Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam program, and receive special perks for sharing all my family’s favourites with you, dear reader. I was not financially compensated for this post.


Just Say No


My children never fail to find the most appropriate times to drive home life lessons, and last night was no different. My 20 month old daughter finally started sleeping through the night about 2 months ago, but has been regressing as of late. She’s not screaming or crying or wanting to play at 2am, but she often wakes up several times a night, having lost her covers and soother, and once resettled, wants me to hold her hand. Not sing a song or rock her or rub her back for hours like her sister, just hold her hand. Not an overly demanding request, but one that has been wearing me down none the less.


Serious Aven


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