Category Archives: Gracen Tested

Gracen Tested: Stuck On You Labels {& a Giveaway!}

IMG 8087The other day, while washing a giant sink full of plastic cups and containers for what felt like the gazillionth time, I realized our babushka doll Stuck On You labels have been solidly stuck on Gracen’s drink bottles and bento boxes for the better part of a year now.  They’ve been used daily, chucked into bags and purses, hauled to sandy beaches, and left in freezing cars overnight.  They’ve been stored in the refrigerator for days at a time, soaked in soapy water for hours, and put through the dishwasher several times. Yet somehow, 9 months later, they look exactly as they did when we first applied them.  How that’s even possible, I don’t know.  

IMG 8069Besides our stick anywhere name labels, we also got these adorable woodland animal-themed iron on clothing labels last summer too.  The verdict?  They’re just as great as their stick-on counterparts.  This little quilted jacket is a favourite of Gracen’s, and thus has been washed countless times over the course of the fall and winter.  And despite countless washes, they are still perfectly adhered and looking new.  

IMG 8064In addition to being very durable and ridiculously cute, these labels will be so great for when Miss G begins school or preschool (yes, I count on them lasting that long ☺).  As a teacher, I see the overflowing lost and found bins at the end of the school year, and though we do try to return as much of it as possible, it’s nearly impossible as most of it is not properly labeled.  But if every student had Stuck On You labels adhered onto their clothing items, books, and lunch containers, finding the items’ rightful owners would be no problem at all.

That being said, if you’ve got a munchkin headed off to camp this summer, quickly sticking some Stuck On You labels onto their belongings before dropping them off would probably be extremely helpful.  And what would be more special than sending them off with a personalized toiletry kit, backpackwater bottle, or my personal favourite, a camp sleepaway pack?


Stuck On You has generously offered to give FOUR Mama.Papa.Bubba. readers a $50 voucher to purchase the products of their choosing.  This contest is open to Canadian and US readers and a winner will be selected at random on Friday, May 31st. 

There are multiple ways to enter. Please leave a SEPARATE comment for each.  To enter to win a $50 voucher to Stuck On You:

-> Visit the Stuck On You website and tell us one item you love

-> ‘Like’ Stuck On You on Facebook, then come back here and leave a separate comment saying you did so (or previously did)

-> ‘Like’ Mama.Papa.Bubba. on Facebook, then come back here and leave a separate comment saying you did so (or previously did)

-> Follow Mama.Papa.Bubba. on Twitter, then come back here and leave a separate comment saying you did so (or previously did)

-> Follow Mama.Papa.Bubba. on Pinterest, then come back here and leave a separate comment saying you did so (or previously did)


Obviously the more times you enter, the better your chances of winning. ☺  Don’t forget to leave your email address!  The winner will be announced on May 31st and contacted via email.  Good luck!!

For extra fun, like us on Facebook here and find us on Instagram here. 


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Gracen Tested: Sparked Kids Discovery Kit

IMG 5277Last month, Gracen and I were lucky enough to receive a discovery kit from Sparked Kids Crafts.  If you haven’t heard of them before, Sparked Kids Crafts is a Vancouver Island-based subscription service that delivers educational art activities, science explorations, and imaginative play activities aimed at 3 to 7 year olds right to your doorstep.  Pretty cool, right?

IMG 5280Gracen was thrilled to receive a bright and beautiful package full of fun goodies and I was thrilled with how quickly it arrived and how professional the package looked.

IMG 5283Sparked discovery kits come with everything you need to complete several projects right there inside the box – markers, paper, pencils and instructions included!  Our kit was pirate-themed and came with four easy activities…  A folded paper pirate hat to make, a wooden treasure chest to decorate, a treasure map to create, and a popsicle stick parrot puppet to assemble.

IMG 5291Grae was super excited to get started and chose to make the paper pirate hat first (talk about taking me back to my childhood!)

IMG 5296Though the finished product wouldn’t quite stay on her head, for us, projects like these are all about the process.  We spent time together, we worked as a team, and we had fun together, and that’s what’s important.  If we wanted to, we could attach some sort of elastic easily enough and add the hat to her dress-up station for future imaginative play.

IMG 5299Next up, Gracen chose to decorate her treasure box.  At first she began adding splashes of colour here and there and then she requested that I draw some shapes for her to colour in.  She thought decorating a wooden box was a blast and I loved that Sparked had included high-quality crafting products for us to use.

IMG 5304While we haven’t had a chance to make our treasure map yet, there are already plenty of things I love about Sparked Kids Crafts…

1.  It’s a Canadian-based business (yay for supporting local!)

2.  It’s run by two moms, one a savvy mompreneur and the other a teacher (go moms!).

3.  The kits come with clear, easy-to-follow instructions.

4. The materials included are good quality.

5. The activities included are not at all intimidating, not even for those who claim they’re not crafty (I promise!)

6. A single discovery kit contains several activities, which if spaced out a little can easily keep you and your munchkin(s) creating all month long.

7. Each themed kit comes with it’s own enhancement activities and recommended reading list on the Discover More portion of the Sparked website.

Overall, I’d say that’s a lot of pluses for a fairly new small business, wouldn’t you?  In the interest of full honesty, the only thing I’d say is that I did find the activities in this particular kit to be a little… uninspired?  That sounds too harsh.  Perhaps ‘ordinary’ is a better word?  I’m not sure. Now, I’m not saying that the activities were not enjoyable, because they certainly were.  And truth be told, for the most part, kids don’t really care how unique or innovative an activity is, they’re just stoked that someone’s taking the time to sit down and create something with them.  I guess I just felt like the activities were mostly things that I could pull together on my own without too much planning, shopping, or prep work.  But then again, I’m an elementary school teacher, an owner of a handmade goods shop, and in general, someone who enjoys getting creative, so maybe that’s not a fair assessment. 

What I do think is that a Sparked Kids Craft subscription would be an amazing help to parents who are super busy, parents who don’t have the time/energy/inspiration to pull together crafts on their own, and parents who don’t consider themselves creative or crafty.  I also think a subscription would make an awesome gift, because truly, which child doesn’t love receiving mail?!



Sparked Kids Crafts has generously offered to gift a discovery kit to one lucky Canadian Mama.Papa.Bubba. winner.  The contest is open until Friday, March 29th and there are multiple ways to win (please be sure to leave a separate comment for each).

To enter to win a complimentary Sparked Kids Crafts discovery kit:

–> Visit their website and tell us one thing you like about Sparked Kids Crafts

-> ‘Like’ Sparked Kids Crafts on Facebook and come back here and leave a SEPARATE comment saying you did so (or previously did)

-> Follow Sparked Kids Crafts on Twitter and come back here and leave a SEPARATE comment saying you did so (or previously did)

-> Follow Sparked Kids Crafts on Pinterest and come back here and leave a SEPARATE comment saying you did so (or previously did)

–> ‘Like’ Mama.Papa.Bubba. on Facebook, come back here and leave a separate comment saying you did so (or previously did)


Obviously the more times you enter, the better your chances of winning. ☺  Don’t forget to leave your email address!  The winner will be announced on March 30th and contacted via email.  Good luck!!

For extra fun, like us on Facebook here and find us on Instagram here. 

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Times Two {a whismical children’s book}

IMG 5819When I learned about Times Two, a beautifully illustrated, hardbound children’s book written and illustrated by two talented local mamas, I knew I had stumbled upon something special.

IMG 5813The story, which was originally a lullaby written by singer songwriter Sheree Plett, is about the beauty of limitless love.  As you flip the pages, you’re taken on a journey of two raccoons, determined to show their love for one another across oceans, into the sky, and up to the moon and the back.

RaccoonsAccompanying the soft, lyrical words are gorgeous, dream-like watercolour illustrations done by artist Shari-Anne Vis.  Gracen and I were lucky enough to meet Shari-Anne {and her little boy} a while back and not only is she absolutely lovely {and obviously remarkably talented}, but she’s a real mom, which I just adore.

IMG 5812Grae and I have enjoyed this book time and again over the course of the last few weeks.  She loves the whimsical little animals throughout and the book is the perfect size to take along with us in the car.

IMG 5822And as an added bonus, included is a link so you can enjoy Sheree’s song and the book {and a little drum session if you’re Grae} at once.

I can’t say enough good things about this charming little book.  Not only am I glad I found it for our own benefit, but I’m excited to have a new go-to newborn/baby shower gift to add to my list as I’m certain almost any new parent would fall in love with it immediately.

To purchase your own copy of Times Two, click here and to stay up to date with the Times Two crew, like their Facebook page  here.


For extra fun, like us on Facebook here and find us on Instagram here.  

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Gracen Tested: Piggy Paint

Since she was just an itty bitty little thing, Gracen has complimented my painted toes and asked for hers to be done the same way.  And though I’ve painted them for her a few times, I’ve never quite felt right about putting regular {reeky, toxic} polish on her tiny little nails.  So when we were contacted by to try out Piggy Paint, the newest addition to their stock, I was completely game.  

I had read about Piggy Polish many times in the past and knew that it was non-toxic, eco-friendly, and made from a water-based formula and had added it to my mental ‘Gracen wish list’, but had yet to come across it in my day to day travels, so this was the perfect opportunity.

IMG 3255I love having Miss G make decisions for herself (age appropriate ones of course), so we sat down at the computer together and scrolled through the many Piggy Paint colour options on Nail Polish Canada’s site.  While I probably would have picked a soft {and nearly unnoticeable} pink like Sweetpea or Angel Kisses, my not {always} so typical girly girl was immediately drawn to Ice Cream Dream and Glitter Bug instead, so metallic teal and silver sparkles it was!

IMG 2862The polish arrived at our doorstep just two days after ordering, and of course my little mail lover was more than thrilled to open up the package and find her new polishes.

IMG 3249Grae decided that she’d like to try the teal paint on her toes first (and I tried the sparkly one on my fingernails just for fun).  Besides the ridiculously quick shipping, there were many things I loved about the polish right away.  First off, there’s no reeky smell involved.  If anything, the scent reminded me of being in my Grade 12 art class during our clay / sculpting unit, and rightfully so as Piggy Paint’s tagline is ‘natural as mud’.  

Secondly, the polish goes on easily and you get full coverage in a single coat.  You know when you buy a new beautifully coloured polish and you apply it only to realize that you’ll need at least 4 coats to reach the colour it is when in the bottle?  Well that’s certainly not the case with Piggy Polish.  These brightly hued teal toes? One coat only.  I was especially impressed with the sparkly polish.  In the the past, if I’ve bought a glittery polish, it normally turns out to be mostly clear with a few sparkles here and there… Not so with Glitter Bug.  My nails were fully covered with sparkles in one coat and extremely covered in two.

Thirdly, the drying time is amazing.  Without a word of a lie, I finished painting the toes on Grae’s first foot, moved onto the second one immediately, and as soon as I was done, the first foot was 100% dry.  So nice when painting the nails of busy, go-go-go toddler.

IMG 3255Now…  The one thing I don’t love about Piggy Polish is that it doesn’t last that long.  These are Miss G’s toes 4 days after applying the polish, and in all honesty, it started to chip off a day and half to two days in.  Buuuuuut, in its defence, although we did blow dry the polish for one to two minutes as recommended, we did not have the base or top coat to try, both of which increase its durability.  And here’s the other thing…  Can one really expect polish that is free of all toxins to last as long as its chemical-filled cousin?  I think not.  And frankly, I’m fine with a little girl’s nail polish only last a couple of days…  It’s just for fun after all.  ☺

To order some Piggy Paint for your own little one (a perfect stocking stuffer!), click here.  You can also keep up to date with by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

 To keep up with all the Mama.Papa.Bubba. fun, like us on Facebook here and find us on Instagram here. 

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A {Kiwi Crate} Window Garden {& a Giveaway!}

A couple of weeks ago, Gracen and I attended an awesome Halloween-themed story time at Pottery Barn Kids.  (Who knew, right?  It happens every Tuesday at 11 a.m. for those of you who are in Vancouver.)  Afterwards, the kids got their Book Club passports stamped and were each {very generously} gifted a Kiwi Crate to take home.  

IMG 1857I’ve seen Kiwi Crates on a few of the blogs I read and I’ve always thought they were very neat, so I’m not sure who was more excited about the gift…Gracen or I.   (If you’ve never heard of them before, they’re basically little boxes that arrive to your door each month and are filled with all of the materials/instructions/inspiration needed for hands-on projects.  Some are science activities, some are arts and crafts, and some are geared towards imaginative play.) 

IMG 1861This afternoon we took out our crate, opened it up, and found all of the materials needed to put together a window garden.  Needless to say, my little gardening enthusiast was thrilled.

IMG 1865IMG 1903Included was a  clearly laid out instruction card complete with diagrams, and a sweet little observation booklet for Miss G to draw in. 

IMG 1868IMG 1871IMG 1878IMG 1877IMG 1885IMG 1888We carefully set up the garden, referring back to the instruction card after each step.  Gracen, Miss ‘Let’s Do a Project!’, loved it and took her work very seriously.

IMG 1892IMG 1896IMG 1897With the exception of really making sure the suction cups were stuck to the window and printing the words “mint” and “basil”, Grae was able to do everything on her own, which was lovely.

IMG 1898IMG 1900We now have a sweet little garden set up right in our living room and I can’t wait to help Grae water it each day and watch as our fresh herbs grow.  ☺

Because we enjoyed our Kiwi Crate so much, and I sincerely think they are a great way for parents and children to try new things together, I contacted Kiwi Crate and asked if they’d like to share the love with one of our readers.  And guess what? They do!  One Mama.Papa.Bubba. reader will receive a complimentary crate of their own, and will have the option of selecting a regular crate or one of the new holiday-themed crates.  

The contest is open until Monday, November 26th and there are multiple ways to win (be sure to leave a separate comment for each).


To enter to win a complimentary Kiwi Crate:

Leave a comment below telling me something you love to do with your kid(s).


For additional chances to win:

–> ‘Like’ Mama.Papa.Bubba. on Facebook, then come back and leave a second separate comment saying you did so (or that you had previously).

–> ‘Like’ Kiwi Crate on Facebook, then come back and leave an additional separate comment saying you did so (or that you had previously).

–> Sign up for Kiwi Crate’s fun-filled newsletter, then come back and leave an additional separate comment saying you did so.

–> Follow @jkossowanon Twitter, then come back and leave a separate comment saying you did so.

–> Tweet about the giveaway and leave an additional separate comment saying you did so.


Don’t forget to leave your email address!  The winner will be announced on November 27th and contacted via email.  Good luck!!

Kiwi crate did not ask me to write this post, nor did they compensate me to do so, but in the interest of full disclosure, I did sign up to be a part of their affiliate program.  This means that when Kiwi Crate products are purchased through the links i’ve provided, I get a small kickback from the company.

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The Great Big Boo!

IMG 0813Though still early, our Halloween festivities began this afternoon when our little family of three headed down to the PNE Forum to take in The Great Big Boo!, a family-friendly, non-scary musical.  Audience members were asked to dress-up for the show, and since I haven’t yet made this year’s round of costumes, we pulled out last year’s owl costumes and gave them a little bit of extra play time. (FYI: Brad and I were two of a total of FOUR parents dressed up at the show. Yes, we looked a little bit silly.) Gracen was more than happy to sport her little blue owl costume again, and I was even happier that the costume still fit. 

IMG 0825We arrived to the Forum, selected aisle seats four rows from the front (score!), settled in, and waited for the show to begin.  

The story followed two children, Justin and Zoe, as well as wacky inhabitants of ‘Boo Alley’, on an adventure to save Halloween from Wendella the Witch, who has cast a spell on the street.  As soon as the show started, Gracen was captivated.  The glowing set, the funny characters, the catchy music, and the fantastic dance numbers made for a combination just perfect for keeping the attention of little ones.  Gracen was sold.  

IMG 0840IMG 0819Despite the fact that the show is intended to be non-scary and suitable for children of all ages, I’d be fibbing if I said Grae wasn’t a little bit frightened by a few of the characters (mainly Wendela the witch, but also Cranium the Mad Scientist and Vinne the Vampire).  It was enough for her to ask to go for an unneeded  bathroom break, as well as for her to tell us that she was sleepy and wanted to go home, but then again this is our ultra-sensitive little girl we’re talking about… The one who has been known to burst into big alligator tears during ‘Five Little Ducks’ because she feels so sad for the mama duck who’s lost her ducklings.

IMG 0836IMG 0830Luckily the “scary” parts were broken up by fun, upbeat dances and didn’t last very long.  Before we knew it, Priscilla the {very cheerful and not at all scary} Princess was on stage and Gracen was happy to continue watching the show while eating her dinner.

IMG 0843Of course, with the help of her friends, Wendella the Witch eventually discovers the true spirit of Halloween (because we attended the very last show of five, I don’t feel badly about sharing how it ended), and all is right in Boo Alley once again.  The cast celebrates with a giant high-energy dance number and at the end, kids are invited to get up and dance alongside the characters.

IMG 0850The show was just over an hour long with a 15 minute intermission included, which was perfect for Gracen. Afterwards, children were invited to visit the cast of characters in a separate area of the arena to trick-or-treat.  Grae happily collected a couple of little goodies and then we were on our way.

IMG 0850Overall, I’d highly recommend this show to those thinking about attending next year.  The show length was perfect, the intermission was great for bathroom breaks, the aisles were nice and wide so kids could get up and move, and the show itself was fun and engaging.

While you’re waiting for the show to come back next Halloween, check out The Magic of Santa, a theatrical holiday celebration being put on by the same production company in December.
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