Small Shop Love for the Holla Days!

And just like that, it’s December!  Naughty or nice list, To-Do list, checking it twice list or I got no list to work with, I want to make things a little bit easier for you by sharing some of my favourite small shops and the reasons why I have mad love for them.

Buying for my boys is not always easy.  There are a lot of factors that I take into consideration when I buy for them.  There are lots of options for boys fashion, accessories and toys but not a lot of options of representation.

So, below are a few small businesses that I admire and had stumbled upon.  Short and simple list of three, but with meaning behind it.

NOTE: the shops below are for everyone (not just people who look like myself or my boys).


Handmade one of a kind dolls, quilts and taggie blankets


When I was pregnant, I was constantly looking for boy dolls that would represent my them.  Many small shops made dolls mostly for girls and even when I told them I would pay for a boy doll, they just didn’t have an appetite for it.  I met Kathryn two years ago at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto and when I walked by her booth she had rows of beautiful handmade dolls in ALL shades of colours that literally made me stop in my tracks.  Without hesitation, I bought the boys their dolls and to this day, they love their “baby” and “baby baby”.

The dolls are a perfect gift for anyone, not just a child.  Since then, we’ve added Coco the Monkey, Skoy Yoy the Dog and most recently, two custom made Brown Santas, which the boys have named “Santa Baby” and “Santa Baby Baby”.


Started off making mittens, has now expanded to children’s accessories.  She also launched another business called Some of the Parts.


When my boys were itty bitty, I was on the hunt for a good pair of mittens that would stay on and would keep the boys warm.  I did my online research which led me to mimitens.  I love their awesome designs and high quality mittens. The boys won’t wear anything else.  Somehow Anne Maria (owner) and I connected and every encounter with her, she just oozes energy, integrity and a passion for her designs.

SIDE NOTE: she also has a store in Toronto called Some of the Parts.  She carries her line of adult bags that she designed and it fits securely on wheelchairs (this she discovered after the fact). That made my heart swoon!

So really, Mimitens and Some of the Parts can be a gift for anyone on your list!  Cheers to that!


Clothes and Toys that kids will love. Bright Colours, Bright Patterns and Ethical Production


I can’t believe that I only met Jana in person a couple of weekends ago!  I’m blaming it on #momlife.  Jana reached out to me in early 2017 and felt that the brands her online store carried would be great for my boys.  I played it safe when it came to dressing them … in greys, black, blues and white and she got that.  Then as I started engaging with Modern Rascals and understanding her brand of bright colours and patterns, and seeing the beauty of bright colours in her feed, I switched cold turkey to all the colours in the rainbow.  I love the quality of the designers that she selects and no joke, the boys get stopped on the regular by strangers complimenting them on their style.

Jana’s feed and carried brands are a true representation of our society.  From Pride socks to sourcing a company that makes handmade wooden toys that resemble all children, she really gets her customers.

A gift for that special kid(s) in your life, you’ve got a rainbow selection of goods to choose from. She also carries adult sizes with some brands, so that you can matchy match with your little one(s).

Hoping you got your bit of learning from my write up and I encourage that the next time you shop, take into consideration that we’re not a once size fits all society and that we all can gain from representation.

I know that there are so many other shops that I have yet to discover, so if you know of any, share please by leaving a comment below.

Sunshine Lily aka @shinelily

Links to Shop:

birds love bees


modern rascals




Volunteering with My Boys

Volunteering and giving back to our community or at an organization that is meaningful has always and continues to be important to my husband and I. Maxwell and Brandon started volunteering at the age of  18 months.  They helped locally at a Christmas Drive for Safetynet founded by Bill in Oakville.  We unpacked donated items and organized them for families in need.  We continued to volunteer monthly by doing light clean up at the office and continue to help out yearly during Christmas season.

As a family, we participated in our first 5km run for the Road2Hope Campaign in November 2017.  My husband Andre, ran 4.5km with the boys in a double stroller.  I remember running alongside him and everyone “oohing” and “ahhing” of how wonderful of a dad he is running with a stroller.  In my head, I’m like “I carried these boys for almost 9 months” and no one is “oohing” and “ahhing” over me.  So, on the downward slope of the trails, I ran after the stroller for a good 0.5km.  LOL, I digress but I had to document it.

I will continue … the boys also have helped bring awareness to Bank on Bellies founded by Georgia who encourages her local community to donate non-perishable food items or time to Kerr Street Mission.

In addition, we’ve worked with Walmart Canada in their Fight Hunger Spark Change campaign.  The boys went up and down the aisles, selected their donated food items and did the drop off in their bin.

Most recently, I had a really special experience with the boys.  To give you some context, a couple of months ago, I got an email from Diandra from Take Care Kits. She is the founder of a Toronto based non-profit organization that provides care kits to parents who have children in the NICU.  She asked if I had any contacts of companies/brands who she could reach out to for donations.  Over the last 10+ years, I’ve been working in the health services industry, so I provided her my contacts.  She went through an approval process and was successful in receiving donations of toothpaste, toothbrushes and caps from GlaxoSmithKline Inc.

I felt the need to help even further and asked Diandra  if we could assemble the kits and make the delivery.  She provided me with her contact at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, and we made the delivery.  Proud mom moment watching my toddlers hand over the goods.  And what made me even prouder is that they were born at this hospital and as a family, we spent the first three weeks of their lives in that NICU.  So yes, I knew firsthand how helpful the care kits are to a parent.

A short video of the boys assembling the kits and making the delivery can be viewed, by clicking here.

If you are interested in learning more about the charitable organizations that we’ve been involved with and inspired by, please click on links below.


Bank on Bellies:

Kerr Street Mission:

Take Care Kits: 

Walmart Canada Fight Hunger Spark Change:

Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope:

Dear Working Mom

Dear Working Mom,

I’m proud of you. Back at it and it’s like you never left.  Same commute, colleagues and clients.  While many things haven’t changed, you know very well that you’ve changed.  For you, being a mom remains priority and working mom comes second.  In that first week, the working mom gig definitely had its perks.  Wearing heels, drinking hot coffee, engaging in adult conversation and your all-time favourite, not having to share your lunch.

However, as time went on, working mom became priority, but really the business was priority and you adjusted. Things at home were changing too. You were always the “go-to person” and the “expert” as the stay at home mom. Suddenly, that vanished and your opinion became secondary at times.

Luckily, hubby has a flexible schedule working from home 90% of the time. So, dealing with drop offs and pickups at daycare and the library wasn’t impacting you.  But it did, because at times you’d lose track of time and you’d be coming home after dinner and you’d walk into the house feeling like an asshole.  So, the next night out of guilt, you’d try to make up for it by leaving on time to come home, make dinner and somehow someone told the kids that they could eat cereal instead.  You bit your tongue, smiled and instead asked your kids how their day went.  Because you know that you couldn’t be an asshole two days in a row.

You regretted the decision to go back full time because you really missed the boys. Rushing home after work to eat dinner, to play a bit and to get them ready for bed really sucked.

But as the weeks turned into months, your whole family adjusted and fell into a rhythm. A village was in place to help care for the boys.  You found the right balance of projects professionally and still juggled to get “me” time in.

Did you feel guilty at times? Yes! Did you feel fulfilled at times?  Yes!  But when you spoke to other working moms, they assured you that these feelings were normal and that it was okay to feel both guilty and fulfilled.

Remember, I’m proud of you. You’re approaching one year of being back as a “working mom”. You work with a great team in an industry that falls in line with your values.  And, you’re working harder now than you had ever worked in your life.  You work harder to ensure that your boys remain priority even if that means getting to work late because of extra cuddles, sleep deprivation because you’re up late keeping up with the job or not cancelling the mommy and me date because you’re hella tired.



Dear Stay-At-Home-Mom

Dear Stay at Home Mom (SAHM),

I’m proud of you. I know the arrangement to care for Maxwell and Brandon wasn’t ideal, but you put your all into it. And yes, I know you didn’t want to put the boys in part-time daycare because of costs, but it did bring you relief right?  Come on, just admit it.  Okay, maybe a little bit of relief?  You managed to enjoy a hot latte, read a book or squeeze in a possible workout, if lucky.  BUT, really you used those two days in the work week to clean the house, do laundry, grocery shop and prep meals to last throughout the week.

Oh yes, and your summer 2016 was amazing. Parks, picnics, day trips and play dates were on the regular and you got yourself a nice tan.  Taking the boys out on your own to fancy coffee shops was fun and you became surprisingly confident as a mother.  Even when your boys became a hot mess, you didn’t let it get to you.  You’re a paying customer and no one was going to stop you from enjoying that last sip of your latte (even if it was cold).  But it wasn’t always a walk in the park, was it?  You were solo parenting quite a bit and being a 24/7 mom was beating you down. It did put a “strain” on your marriage, or as your husband would describe, “it was challenging” because strain was too strong of a word.

Oh yes, and then there was the turning point, when September came around. Shorter days and longer nights.  While all families on your street were getting back into the school routine, those parks, picnics, day trips and play dates quickly faded.  Just like your tan. Hanging out at the mall was not your thing, your boys were beginning to fight more frequently and you were not living up to your name “Sunshine”.

All the working moms were telling you how lucky you were to be in a position to stay at home. And you nodded your head agreeing, but didn’t always feel so lucky.

But remember, I am proud of you. While this letter to you and your readers may come across as whiney or negative, it was your reality as it is for many stay at home moms who don’t feel appreciated and then begin to feel resentment. I know you adore your boys and that they’ve enriched your life. You take pride in knowing that you are grooming them to be young gentlemen, compassionate, curious and loving. You have a huge amount of respect for your husband, who holds the same values as you and you fall deeper in love with him when you watch him care for your boys.  And I know you count your blessings every day and you’ve told me that it’s a privilege to be in a position to be able to stay at home and raise them.  Because you know, that not every mother gets that privilege and you are incredibly thankful for that.

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