Joanna Anastasia


Best gifts for girls 6 to 9 years old this Holiday season

My girls are now six and a half and almost nine so I figured that I’ll share with you the best toys, books and dress up ideas we discovered this year- things that they really play with constantly, that are still on their dear Santa list and that I’m sure your daughter too will love too!

So first let me start by saying that some of the items I have personally bought for them and some we had the chance to discover – hovewer they are all the absolute favourite, loved and tested- and would all make for amazing christmas gifts – withoit breaking a bank!


So here’s what I wholeheartedly suggest this holiday season:


  • Blume dolls collection. Every single toy from this collection is adorable, sparks imagination and offers endless play possibilities! Fun starts as kids unpack the dolls ( or Blume pet ) with dolls either blooming from a pot, or blooming in a flower- only to discover lots of accessories, water play ideas and plenty of uses to the packaging itself ( plant flowers, store accessories, craft- the options are endless) These toys are also really affordable so they won’t break the bank while being a sure hit! So me, I’m getting more of the Baby Blume dolls for my girls this holidays!
  • VTech Myla’s Sparkling Friends– technically not a doll but a sparkly animal but offers same imaginative play while singing, changing colours and asking questions! ( my middle girls favourite evening-by-the-bed toy – since it looks so pretty in the dark!)
  • Dolls By Polina handmade doll- a heirloom quality decorative- yet sturdy to play with- beautiful hand made doll- perfect for any little girls room decor
  • Cuddle and Kind– while technically these are baby dolls, my girls still love having them in their beds, as they are both adorable and super soft to sleep with ( and every purchase helps feeding kids in need!)


  • Books from the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series. Encouraging short stories about real life woman and girls from both long ago and not that long, these stories are a great way to show your daughter that woman can do anything they set their mind on- even if the road to the goal is long and difficult!
  • Books by Raina Telgemeier for kids. Her unique style of cartoons will charm your daughter while presenting her with smart, unique and sensitive way of storytelling. Both of my girls are in love with The Baby-Sitters Club series ( they will be getting new toms in their stockings this year!) and the trilogy based on Raina Telgemeier teen years ( we have the french version) – and really I love how intelligent and charming these books are while being a great educative tool and a way to start conversetaion with your preeteen on a number of tough subjects.

Imaginative play

  • Mini & Me dress up dresses. These dresses are beautifully made, great quality dress up gowns that are made for your daughter and her doll. I love their quality ( none of that plastic feel of halloween princess dresses) and they love how they can dress up matching with their dolls. Very unique gift that encourages imaginative play!
  • V-tech KidiZoom creator cameraWe got to discover some of the Vtech new toys earlier this season, and while Julien loved his finds ( I’ll share our favourite toddler gift ideas next week!) girls got to discover this camera- and let me tell you, it’s not your regular phone camera! No tonly it is kid friendly, but also it comes with a green screen that lets kids create tons of fun videos with special effects ( traveling to space, meeting dinosaurs, deep diving just to name a few!) My oldest daughter is absolutely obsessed with it, and since we are still at home quite a lot this camera let’s them not only play and create but also feel like they’re on an adventure- while staying safe at home!

I hope these ideas can help you shopping this holiday season!

Disclaimer- some of the items listed where given to me while some were my own buy, all of them are equally amazing and reflect my true thoughts and feelings!

Unexpected toddler room must have

When our last baby monitor broke due to one little monkey (aka, my son) I knew I needed a new one immediately. Now, some might argue that I don’t need one since my son is not a baby anymore. And while that is true, it’s also evident that he’s one very active two year old. And two year olds can mean trouble if you know what I mean.

So first, I’m still lucky that he sleeps in his baby crib- I’m not ready for a toddler that leaves his toddler bed 10 times in a row at night! So thankfully he still can be contained in there! But that also means that any moment now he might learn how to climb out of that crib.

And that’s exactly why you need a baby monitor when you have a toddler- because you never know what they’re up to!

Here’s what you need to consider when choosing a baby monitor for your toddler room:

  • Can the camera move?
  • Do you get a panoramic view?
  • Can you talk through the baby monitor?
  • Can you play lullabies ?

So, I needed a baby monitor that would do all that and that wouldn’t get easy broken! But it was still quarantine when my old one got broken, and I needed new ASAP. Well did you know that Best Buy has baby and kid products online? I tested their online baby shop and I was so pleased with all the choices online and how fast the shipping was!

Now, if you’re a tiny baby momma or a mom to-be you’ll love all the baby gear AT GREAT PRICES! And I love their choice of kids furniture and toys too! Best part is that you can easily shop online for best baby brands and you don’t need to leave your home!

So coming back to my baby monitor, I went with the Motorola 5″ Wi-Fi video & home monitor with mood light, as it had the best reviews! And I really love it because not only I can see and hear if my toddler is attempting to climb out of his crib, ( in daylight or in the darkness) but I can also check his room temperature ( very useful in the current heat waves we’re experiencing!) play him a lullaby, talk to him through the monitor and move the position of the camera if he’s really moving around (and he is!).

And you know what I captured on day one with the new monitor? He was sitting in his crib and singing the Polish lullaby I always sing to him. My heart!

The moral of this story is that first, toddlerhood is full of unexpected joys and surprises and second, online shopping at Best Buy saves the day!

Disclosure- while this article is sponsored by Best Buy , all opinions and enthusiasm remain exclusively my own and are based on my true experience and life events.

Schedule for staying home with kids during the quarantaine

Depending where you live you might be either in full on quarantaine mood or like us, at the social distancing point. Either way, our schools and daycares are cancelled, and many of us are either not working at this point at all, or working from home with kids around.

Here where we are, in Montreal, we are still able to go for a walk around the neighborhood with kids, or play in the backyard, and while we make sure to keep our distance ( witch is easy in our residential area) , we definitely do take kids out to play a bit in fresh air.

However, your reality might be a bit different- and so of course we should all follow what our local health care providers direct us to do.

So this schedule for staying home with kids during the quarantaine is an reflection of how I spend days with my three kids- who are now eight, six and twenty months.

And why actually I want us to stick to a schedule? Well, let me explain:

  • My kids are used to a school schedule– and so without it, after two-three days they become whiny and really unorganized !
  • Without clear “screen time schedule” it becomes impossible to get them off the screens-they become the “Screen Gollums” and throw tantrums once I say it’s enough and we need to eat/go to sleep etc.
  • They don’t want to tidy/dress and follow any routine when there’s no real day plan.
  • It helps me to be the focused mom I need to be now– while keeping my time slots for my own breaks.

Now, it may be only my kids who thrive on planned days and who lose it with too many “do-whatever-you-want” days. But with all that is happening now, the last thing I need are whiny, grumpy and fighting kids. So my way to keep a relatively normal beat is by following our schedule.

Last thing to keep in mind- my plan is based on the time I have spend in the past with my kids ant home- as I used to send them to day care three times a week, and I used to keep them home twice a week so they would be bilingual and speak both the official language of our province- French- but also my mother tongue- Polish.

Also, I always kept them home during all the pedagogical days. So I know that this schedule works for us based on hundreds of days spent following this plan.

But maybe your kids need more active time, or maybe they nap more or wake up much earlier- you might need to adjust it for your own family needs. This is only how I do it.

And if you’d like to download it and print at home here is the pdf!

Also, when I say it’s clean up time- it means that it’s both adults as kids who tidy up- so this is the time when I ask kids to clean their toys, help to clean the table, help with laundry folding etc.

And, my backyard is completely closed, so I can send my older kids to play outside alone if I need to work. So for me this schedule works pretty well even on the days when I actually do need to work from home.

Now, as to all that craft time- we like crafting, I wrote a book on crafting with kids, and often through crafting time I will actually sneak in some homeschooling and reading and writing activities. Plus it’s a relatively quiet time so it’s a win-win in my books!

And a last thing to keep in mind- if you don’t follow a schedule it’s also ok. Whatever you do to pass through this difficult time is fine, and there’s no one way fits all. What’s important is that we go through this safe, healthy and sane- and without passing that virus to anyone on our way!

Baby-led weaning snack hack

One of the things I did differently as a mom third time around was following the baby-led weaning route. Not that I was against puréed food, it just didn’t last and my baby hated when I tried to feed him with a spoon. So very early in I was feeding him with real food- things we ate, just softer and easy to grasp.

After a month or two, a phase of soft avocado and toasted bread was over and it was time to bring on snacks – that was a tricky part since as a parent you’re always worried that your baby won’t choke! I can recall what was the exact time I started giving Cheerios to Julien but he’s one years old now and Cheerios have been his before dinner snack for over 3 months now.

Their size is great for practicing pincer grasp and fine motor skills and is safe for babies to eat! Plus they’re low in sugar and made from whole grains so it’s a healthy option.

So my BLW snack hack and my trick to keep a baby busy while I cook is give them a kitchenette to play with by my side and a healthy and easy to grasp snack – Cheerios- to munch on!

Seriously, cheerios have been my lifesaver during witching hours- when you’re so close to dinner time, and kids are turning in rounds around you- a bowl of cheerios is all they need to stay calm until dinner! And as a BLW mama, I can honestly say that it’s a perfect eat-alone snack!

And since Julie has been eating alone and practicing his fine motor skills for a couple of months now, he can now eat his morning bowl of Cheerios with a spoon – at one-years-old! We’re pretty proud of this little boy!

Disclosure- this post was brought to you by Cheerios Canada, all opinions remain exclusively my own.

How to teach kids to craft without making a mess

I started crafting with my girls when they were really little- Lili was a year and a half, and Rose- when it was her turn to join us- was not even a year old. Now crafting is our way to re connect, to go through another snow day, and to express our feelings. And after crafting for months for our book “The family Gratitude Project” , I can easily say that crafting is our favourite thing to do together!

Now, I know that many of you don’t want to craft with kids because of the mess it can involve – and I can totally understand where this is coming from! Nobody wants paint on their sofa, glue in their kids hair, and playdough all over the floor! And nobody wants to set up a complicated craft only to hear three minutes in ” I’m done” and then clean the mess all alone.

I really understand it! But in all honesty, there is a way to teach kids to craft and paint and create WITHOUT MAKING A MESS.

First, as in any learning curve you need to assume that at the beginning they will make some mess – but for my kids it’s been years ( they are 5 and 7 now) that the mess is really minimal and they usually clean it all on their own anyway now.

How to teach kids to craft without making a mess:

  1. Start when the are young ( 1-2 years old) 
  2. Craft in one designed area. ( At the table far from rugs and sofas)
  3. Set the clear rules:
    • Always sit at a table,
    • Never walk around with paint/glue/playdough etc.
    • No pushing and fighting at the craft table or it’s over.
    • And ask your kids to repeat the rules with you before they start crafting.
  4. Start ( first year or so) by teaching them only one craft/art activity at a time -like only paint, or only cutting or only glueing on or only stamping or only using natural elements etc.
  5. Give them only enough materials to complete this one activity at a time at the beginning. Once they master it and don’t make a mess anymore, you can expand to more mix and match.
  6. Always pour the paint in to a small paint dish and small amount at a time. And use the washable paint! ( I still do it for my younger daughter!)
  7. Teach kids how to properly use art supplies: how to paint with a tip of the paint brush, how to cut out without everything falling down, how to use the right amount of glue etc. It will take time but it will pay off too!
  8. Teach them to help you clean from the very start and praise them for not making a lot of mess!
  9. While they grow older and more capable of cleaning up, let them mix mediums and make more elaborated crafts ( paint and crayons, glue and paper and stickers, natural elements like rocks and sticks to glue on paper and decorate , etc.)
  10. Set realistic expectations for their age and have fun!

I think that for me it all goes down to raising kids who will be able to find themself something to do on a rainy/snowy day, use their imagination, create and have fun without having me to clean up a huge mess after that!

If you’re curious about our craft book, you can purchase it here and here!

And if you’re curious about how to start crafting with a baby- aka how to introduce a baby to art play- here are my tips!

I hope you’ll find this helpful!

How to help your baby nap well

How to help your baby nap well

One of the things that my friends and new moms usually struggle with are baby naps. Adding this to the sleepless nights, the struggles with finding the right way to care for that new baby and finding time to do all the adult things, this can be actually a very big problem! And as a mom of three now, I think I seen it all. From my first born who was a horrible sleeper, to my second who would fall asleep anywhere, and now to my little delicate snowflake baby – I really seen it all.

The thing is, babies have their own instinct, that will wake them up at any time thy might feel abandoned – and for many babies it means waking up the minute you put them down! See,  evolutionary psychology even made research about it, saying that in our past, the only way for a baby to survive would be to stay in an adult arms at all times! That’s why babies sleep best while in movement. You must have heard the stories of parents walking around the house with a stroller, or riding around the block only to keep their baby asleep, did you? Well, I used to be one of those parents with my first baby, and boy I was exhausted!

Well, this time around I have a better solution.I must admit, I never have tried it with my first, “difficult” as I used to think- but now I know completely normal baby. A swing.

I got this Sweet Little Lamb Cradle n Swing from BABIES R US Canada, and it has completely changed my day routine. I can plan things, I can do things, and I have time to finish them – all while being a stay at home mom. Simply because my baby sleeps and stays asleep!

Parmi les chose avec laquelle moi et mes amies nouvelles maman avons eu de la difficulté, on trouve les siestes. Lorsqu’on ajoute cela au manque de sommeil, au défis que présente certains soins du bébé et aux autres tâches ménagères à accomplir, ça peut devenir un véritable problème. En tant que mère de trois enfants, j’ai eu trois à de très différents dormeurs. 
Les bébés ont un instinct qui les réveillera dès qu’ils se sentent abandonnés – et pour plusieurs cela signifie dans la minute après qu’ils aient été déposés! Il y a même eu des recherches en psychologie évolutionnaire qui ont expliqué cela par le fait que par le passé, pour survivre, un bébé devait être dans les bras d’un adulte en tout temps! C’est pour cela que les bébés dorment mieux lorsqu’ils sont en mouvement. Vous avez sûrement entendu ces histoires de parents qui promènent leur bébé en poussette dans la maison ou qui font des tours de voiture pour garder leur enfant endormi, n’est-ce pas? Eh bien j’étais du nombre avec mon premier bébé et mon dieu, j’étais épuisée

How to help your baby nap wellHow to help your baby nap wellHow to help your baby nap well

How to help your baby nap wellDisclosure – this post was brought to you by Babies R US Canada, all opinions remain entirely my own. 

This swing has 6 speeds and two sitting positions- one for napping and for newborns at all times, and second “sitting & chilling” as I call it. You can also change the position to facing forward or to the sides, and pick the one that your baby prefers. There’s a big choice of calm music AND nature sounds, and to make it all even better there are star lights that will capture their attention when they are fussy plus cute yet contrasting ( so babies can see them) little lambs that move around to look at.

Et bien cette fois, j’ai une meilleure solution. Je dois admettre que je n’avais jamais essayé cela avec mes premiers bébé. J’ai maintenant ce berceau-balancelle mon petit agneau de Babies R Us Canada et cela a complètement changé ma routine quotidienne. Je peu planifier, faire et terminer plus de tâches tout en étant une maman à la maison. Tout simplement parce que mon bébé dort et reste endormi!

How to help your baby nap well

How to help your baby nap well

How to help your baby nap well

How to help your baby nap well

This swing comes in a box, and is really easy to assemble – took my hubby around 15 minutes, plus you can fold it to store it easier!

I’ve set my Sweet Little Lamb Cradle n Swing in the sunroom, right next to the kitchen, where I can put Julien down for his nap, or sit him (attached of course) while I cook and girls are playing peek-a-boo with him, reading or singing to him.

And while I love snuggling my babies and rocking them to sleep, I must admit that it’s really freeing to have a choice now. Because he doesn’t need me anymore to fall asleep ( and that’s something so new for me, as I used to spend half of my time putting my babies to sleep!)  He’s just perfectly snuggled and happy in his swing!

La balançoire a 6 vitesses et deux positions – une pour dormir (ou en tout temps pour les nouveaux nés) et une assise. Le siège peut aussi être tournée d’un côté ou de l’autre selon la préférence de bébé. Il y a un grand choix de musique et de sons de la nature, et aussi un ciel étoilé lumineux pour attirer l’attention des bébés de mauvais poil. Il y a aussi de jolis petits agneaux à regarder tourner et sauter.
La balançoire est facile à assembler (15 minutes ont suffit à mon mari) et se plie pour le rangement.  J’ai installé la mienne dans notre solarium près de la cuisine où je peux installer Julien pour sa sieste ou l’asseoir (attaché bien sûr) pendant que je cuisine et que ses sœurs lui font des coucous ou de la lecture. Et bien que j’adore cajoler mes bébés et les endormir dans mes bras, je dois avouer que c’est libérateur d’avoir le choix. Maintenant il n’a plus besoin de moi pour s’endormir. Il est confortable et heureux dans sa balançoire!

I got this Sweet Little Lamb Cradle n Swing from BABIES R US Canada, and it has completely changed my day routine. I can plan things, I can do things, and I have time to finish them - all while being a stay at home mom. Simply because my baby sleeps and stays asleep!How to help your baby nap well

I got this Sweet Little Lamb Cradle n Swing from BABIES R US Canada, and it has completely changed my day routine. I can plan things, I can do things, and I have time to finish them - all while being a stay at home mom. Simply because my baby sleeps and stays asleep!

How to help your baby nap well How to help your baby nap well

Disclosure – this post was brought to you by Babies R US Canada, all opinions remain entirely my own. 





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