Welcome to new sponsor, Tag Along Toys!

by Karen

Do you ever go into a shop for children and just feel the wonder of being surrounded by childhood? That's what it's like to walk into Tag Along Toys in Kanata's Signature Centre (499 Terry Fox Drive) or Blue Heron Mall (1500 Bank Street.)

Above you there are clouds and all around you are toys, toys, toys! I had the opportunity to go to the store a few weeks ago and speak with Patti Taggart, the proud owner of the store. She has good reason to be proud. The store has such a great variety of toys and Patti makes a point of looking for toys that will help children learn.

There are choices for the smallest people...


To not quite as small people...


And right on up...


Patti told me that her favourite section of the store is the crafts section and it's easy to see why when you get a glimpse of the incredible selection. There's so much to choose from!


I have to say that there was one section of the store that I know my son, Brandon, would make a bee line to and all because of these:


The wall of animal figures is something to behold:


Be sure to stop by Tag Along Toys when you're shopping for toys. Patti and her staff will treat you right!

Thank you, Tag Along Toys, for supporting Kids in the Capital!

Fast Food: Make grocery shopping a little easier

By Heather

I am a firm believer that a good grocery shop begins at home with just a bit of preparation. A little planning saves you time and money because you don’t have to take extra trips to the store and you aren’t as tempted to just order in when the day gets away from you!

Ask any organizer and they likely have different ways of setting up their kitchen, their grocery lists and doing their shopping, but don’t worry — there is no one right way. It’s about what works for each of us. And here is what works for me:

Know what you want. Meal planning makes grocery shopping — and five o’clock on a busy Wednesday afternoon — so much easier! Before you shop, make up a menu of dinners for the week by flipping through your cookbooks and/or online recipes for inspiration, and then note down what you need to buy. By writing out your menu for the week you have a clear plan. I find this helps keep me on the straight and narrow. If I see “Tuesday: Thai Chicken with side salad” and I know I have done my shopping accordingly, I am way more likely to have Thai Chicken and a side salad on my plate than any type of fast or frozen food.

Know what’s there. Let me warn you that you will be in for some ribbing from family and friends but this step will be worth it, honestly…label your fridge. I know, I know, it sounds a little over-the-top but it will change your life as a foodie! A few years ago I separated the sections on my fridge door into categories like “sweet stuff”, “dressings”, “condiments” and the shelves into “meats”, “fruits and veggies”, and “dairy”, etc., and it has made a huge difference in the amount of food I shop for and throw out. By having clearly marked sections (choose labels that have a laminate surface for better durability), I can quickly figure out what I need for my menu planning week — and when I really don’t need yet another bottle of salad dressing! Another bonus to labelling is that I don’t end up losing items in the back of my fridge when I know what I have purchased has a purpose and a place. Even better, my husband and kids can also easily locate and relocate food because every shelf is clearly marked.

Know what you need. Have you ever come home from the grocery store and realized you forgot to buy a particular item yet again?! Don’t leave your shopping to memory — write down what you need as soon as you realize you are running out of it. I keep a 4-by-6-inch pad of paper and a pen mounted on the side of my fridge with a magnetic clip. When I see I am getting low on something, I add it to my ongoing grocery list. It saves me riffling through the fridge right before I head out shopping or counting on my memory recall when in the meat aisle — and my family also knows that if they want more of their favourite cereal, they have to add it to the list. When I sit down to do my meal planning, I use this ongoing list and my recipe requirements to re-write my list according to my grocery store’s layout — so fruit and veg go at the top of the page, followed by bread, then cleaning products, etc. I find it is worth the few extra minutes to re-write the list so I am not criss-crossing the store.

These ideas are what works for me, but be sure to tailor your shopping experiences to what works for you. Maybe it is a pre-printed checklist of often-purchased ingredients, maybe it is making your meals on the weekend and popping them in the freezer — whatever it is, find out what works for you and stick to your plan. It will make Wednesday dinners (and all the others) so much easier

Heather Cameron is a mom of two and a professional home organizer and decorator with Edited Interiors. She believes that being organized isn't about being perfect but about finding what works perfectly for you.

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My favourite tradition: New ornaments

by Karen (Original unedited post published last December on Karen's Chronicles) Brandon is enthralled by the Christmas tree this year. He spent 10 minutes walking around signing and saying "tree" one night. It's been a long time since I got really excited for Christmas. Usually I get excited about the things I get to do that I really enjoy - like decorating the tree/house. It should be noted that this year I got pretty sentimental about this part of the process. With each ornament that I took out of storage, I was reminded of pivotal milestones that we have experienced in our time together over the last ten years. That was special and it was also the first moment that I started to immerse myself in the spirit of the season.

2000 - Our first Christmas together. This year, because of some changes to extended family plans, we're spending Christmas day at home for the first time ever. Just the three of us. At first, I wondered what we'd do. We've never had to spend a holiday alone before so it's a real adjustment, this not spending the day with extended family. Then I decided that this is the perfect time for us to establish some new traditions of our own. To create memories that will build anticipation for future Christmas celebrations.

I've really missed some of the traditions I grew up with - like stockings. Matt and I have never done stockings because he didn't do them in his family. With just the two of us, it didn't seem to matter that we didn't do them. But Brandon's getting to an age that I want to start introducing him to the things that I enjoyed and in my family, we loved the Christmas stocking. Filled to the brim with candy and special little (mostly) inexpensive items, we always looked forward to dumping them out and foraging for hidden treasure amongst the pile of chocolate and mints as we munched on our Christmas candy treats.

2008 - Our first Christmas with Brandon. In our house, the stockings didn't match. There were no names on them and we didn't always get the same stocking every year. We also had more stockings than we had family members, so if we had a guest, there was always a spare for them. The only way you knew which stocking was yours was because they were hung in the same order Dad, Mom, Brother 1, Karen, Brother 2. Oldest to youngest.

Every Christmas Eve night, just before bed, we begged to be allowed to open one gift each. Eventually, it became part of our family tradition - one that I don't think my parents were ever too thrilled about. But it was fun for us kids and I think it may have even netted the house a half an hour of extra sleep since we'd already whetted our appetite for gifts. I don't think I'm going to institute this tradition just now. Perhaps in a few years if Brandon decides to ask.

2010 - Ten terrific years. :) On Christmas morning, we mixed it up. Sometimes we could convince our parents to let us unwrap presents before breakfast, but never before we read the Christmas story. As soon as we read the Christmas story (and sometimes after breakfast), we would unwrap presents. Another tradition in our family was that Mom, my brothers and I would stay up very, very late Christmas Eve wrapping presents. My mom and  I in particular would get quite creative and fancy with the wrapping, making them as pretty as possible. We loved creating beautiful packages to put under the tree. As the wrappings came off, we saved every bow to be re-used for years to come (very "green" of us).

As I prepare for this Christmas and the changes it's bringing, most of all I'm looking forward to spending more time with Matt and Brandon - separately and together. There is truly no better gift than that.

Our seventh winner of a Family Pass to the Canadian Mint is Marielle!

If you leave a comment on any post for the duration of the giveaway, you are entered to win. Additional comments are not required and won't increase your chances of winning (though they are always welcome).


Royal Canadian MintWe are going to be giving out one pass a day for the next 6 days. To enter leave a comment on any one of the giveaway posts or tweet about the giveaway:

I’d love to win a family pass to the @canadianmint from #kidsinthecapital this holiday season!  http://www.kidsinthecapital.ca/?p=6655

Only one entry will count and you can only win once.

Winners will be picked each day from all comments and tweets received by 8:00pm. If you'd like to know more about this giveaway and the Canadian Mint, please read our introduction post.

What are your favorite traditions at Christmastime?

IKEA for kids, a winner AND another giveaway!

by Lara If it weren't for IKEA, our house might look a bit bare :)

My husband and I have always been big fans and so when we had to choose furniture for our kids we went all IKEA !

They all had IKEA cribs (avoiding the DANGER DANGER of drop side cribs ;)

When it was time for a big boy bed we bought Kiernan IKEA bunk beds, which convert into two single beds (we're almost ready to set up the actual bunk beds, though we are very nervous about the antics our three monkeys will get up to once they're there).

Both twins have the day bed style beds that can pull out into King size beds and that have storage drawers underneath.  I thought this design was so genius we got one for the basement too.

They all have matching IKEA dressers too.  And this baby might be the most favourite thing my kids have in the house:

As you might well imagine - we're pretty excited about the new IKEA store and can't wait to explore all the new and exciting kids stuff they now have!

Kids in the Capital has been thrilled to be able to celebrate the new store with a giveaway for a $100 IKEA gift certificate.  Congratulations JennyB - #13 was the lucky number!!

Are your kids outfitted in IKEA too?

One more thing: Tomorrow we're announcing our next giveaway - 12 days worth - for the entire family. We'll announce one winner each day from the previous day's comments. Which means everyone who comments today is in the running for the first giveaway! This one's a surprise until tomorrow, though. :) It's a nice one that we'd kinda like to win also!