Funky Monkey Photography: Spring is in Session

We were honoured to be asked by Funky Monkey to be models for their spring session.   As you know, we LOVED all the shots of our girls and our family during their Christmas promotion.  With many new backgrounds (I am so in love with the arrow background) and colours to choose from, it was hard to decide.  Luckily, James is a pro and he had it all in check.

Now besides all the amazing lighting and props that are always there, I first have to mention this.  Our two eldest daughters are generally shy girls (we left Baby C out of this session because I wanted James to have girls who could take fast direction).  It takes them a while to warm up to people and I’m including close friends and family.  Only seeing James for the second time, he had them in giggles and totally at ease.  Maybe it was the ease of the shoot or the fact they remembered his famous line, “Bingo bongo!”  It could’ve been the fact that he opened the session with a cool swing and they realized, “Hey, this is gonna be awesome!”  Whatever it was, I was in awe that he could make those two so comfortable.  They were into the photos, brought their great smiles, and tried whatever poses he suggested.  It was a fun time for all.

Like the Christmas shoot, the studio is always updating their stock and this time it was another enormous selection of backdrops and floor drops.  They had brick backgrounds, flowers, fields, patterns, you name it and it was there (he has a cool storage nook for his backdrops under the stairs too – excellent use of space.).  My favourite was the weathered wood floor drop and the matching background.  The cool thing about floor drops I learned was that they can be made of many materials and this one felt like felt.  They also come in vinyl, linen, canvas, and plastic.  The combinations are endless and really sets the tone and look of the photos.

The shoot took slightly over an hour, but time flew by with the enormous amount of choices we had.  If your little one is ready for some commemorative pictures (the only problem will be selecting your favourites) or you are finally ready for a set of family photos, think of Funky Monkey and the whole experience!  If you want a fun photographer and organized partner who helps with bookings and answers all questions fast, give them a shout.  Trust me, you will have a great time!

Contact them now by calling or texting: 416.997.0814.





CONTEST: Markham Fair 2017

     markham fair

     Can you smell it?  Whatever “it” may be for you, it is coming and it’s in the air!  For me, it is the blooming onion!  For my girls, it’s the furry little farm animals and for Hip Teacher Dada, it’s the pies and other delectable treats!

     The Markham Fair is just around the corner and if you were ever curious about this annual local event, satisfy your curiousity!  Get your fill of delicious fair food, student crafts, local talent, and much more!

       Hip Teacher Mama is proud to host another ticket giveaway for her loyal followers.

To enter:

  1. Follow Hip Teacher Mama on Facebook AND Instagram.
  2. Comment with your favourite fair food.
  3. Winners will be selected at random by Sept. 26 and notified by personal message (please make sure your settings allow for PMs).
  4. For more entries, share the post and tag your friends.  You get one extra entry for every three friends you tag.  You also get a bonus entry if you follow me on WordPress.
  5. Contest runs from September 18 to September 25, 2017.  ONE winner will receive a family pass for 4 to be picked up at the Markham Fair.

Good luck and I hope to see you at the fair!

First Week of School: DONE


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How was everyone’s first week back to school?  Did you survive or are you reading this with a glass of wine in hand?  If it’s the latter, I don’t blame you.  Coming off an amazing summer, it’s hard to get back to the 8 – 5 pm routine.  (Yes, teachers don’t just do 9-3:30pm as some stereotypes suggest).  There’s getting to work early, getting to know the kids (memorizing their student number is my challenge), planning, daily checking that work is done, and the regular set-up and clean-up.

I actually had a pleasant first week.  My kids were quiet for the first few days (did I just jinx it) and I am hoping it will continue for the rest of the year.  They are mindful of the red-yellow-green light I use for noise and keep each other quiet once they see they’ve hit the yellow zone.  (I told them they don’t want to see what happens in red.)   Shocking, as my students last year usually had two noise levels: zombie silent or NBA finals loud.  On Friday morning after math though they started to crank their way up to food court level and I needed to remind them to be quiet and respectful of everyone’s learning environment.  It worked on a few, but not all, so the same speech will be repeated come Monday.

The classroom is pretty much the same as my helpers (now in Grade 7) have pointed out.  I’ve made little tweaks here and there, but for the most part, it’s a repeat of last year.  The new students have mentioned how they like the organization of the classroom and the inspirational quotes all around.  They like the Daily Special which is their schedule for the day.  They are happy with the Student Tools section so they can borrow a ruler or pencil crayons whenever they need.  They love the Starbucks cups washroom passes.  Sadly, a couple of students have already filled in a Homework Log which shows me that I need to help them work on responsibility.  My class was the first to hand in all their emergency forms yesterday which was amazing!

We have Curriculum Night next week so I can meet the fine parents of this group.  I’m sure the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I’ve got a bit of each this year as with every class.  Some are extremely hard workers and hard on themselves.  Some are silly and carefree.  Some need that extra attention and love.  I’m really happy with this group so far and I can’t wait to share the rest of the year with them.  Some mentioned in their journals that they were nervous about this year until they met me…eeek, that’s a lot of pressure. 🙂  Hope I can live up to their high standards and make it a great year for all.

Wishing everyone a terrific first weekend after back to school.  Go shopping, grab a bite, or simply put up your feet.  You did it!  Goooooo teachers!



Editor’s Pick: Halls Kids Vitamin C Pops and Cough and Sore Throat Pops


    It’s that time of year!  Back to school and germs are running rampant!  I take note of every cough or sneeze in the classroom only because it reminds me to chew on some Vitamin C’s during the day that are sitting on my desk. However, at school, my girls don’t have access to it other than during snack time in the form of a clementine.  Hence, they get a treat after school and build up their immune at the same time with the new Halls Vitamin C Pops.

     I’m not a big candy person and the girls are limited to their sweet treats so when I said they could have a lollipop out of the blue, they were ecstatic!  When they tried these, they couldn’t believe how great they looked AND tasted.  Scientists say that it is too late to pop Vitamin C when you are ALREADY sick so the best thing to do is to have a good immune system to begin with.  Can I convince the girls to suck on a lollipop a few times a week?  I’m pretty sure I can.  🙂  Now the only worry is that they’ll be all too happy to get sick because they know I have the Cough and Sore Throat Pops in the cupboard.

      Wishing everyone a happy first week back.  Stay healthy!

Get Ready to Wiggle!


If you didn’t get a chance to catch The Wiggles last October in Toronto, here is your opportunity now!  The Wiggles are back from a 332 show tour in 2016 with more energy and laughter than ever before!  They are here to celebrate Canada’s 150th with a bang and bringing their talent and love to you in amazing cities all over our awesome country including Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Saskatoon, and Vancouver.  Check out their site to see all the dates and locations.  Tickets are on sale now so don’t wait.

Along with our favourite colourful Wiggles, Anthony, Simon, Lachy, and Emma, their special friends will be joining them.  Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, and Henry the Octopus are ready to high-five and dance with you so be part of the action.  A great thing about The Wiggles’ shows is just how interactive they are so get your signs ready.  They will see them and sometimes even incorporate them into the show.

This year, they have added a full band and an array of dancers that will keep you out of your seat.  Come join in the wiggly fun and get your tickets now.

The Wiggles are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.  Join in the conversation using the hashtag #wigglescanadabigshow

G'Day Canada!


Backpack Program: Time to Give Back(pack)


The Backpack Program at our church is a great way for us to wrap up the end of the summer and get ready for school.  This year, I discovered that my friend participates in the program because it reminds her of a niece she lost a few years ago.  In honour of her niece, she donates a backpack for a child that would’ve been in the same grade.  We usually did the grades that Big H and Middle A were in, but this year, we followed our friend.  It seemed a bit more meaningful as we went to select all the items needed for the backpack and the backpack itself.  I had a face in mind.  There was a special little girl out there that we were doing this for.

This program ties in really well to the girls’ newest assignment, a gratitude journal.  They both wanted a BUJO (see my Bullet Journal post in the spring), but other than a Doodle Challenge and a couple of lists, they didn’t have much in it.  I thought the summer was a great time for them to reflect on their day (it is much longer now as bedtimes have pretty much gone out the door) and to think about how lucky they are.  The assignment was simple.  Think about one to two things they are grateful for without it being the generic “I am thankful for food because not everyone in the world has food.”  I wanted them to give a reason they are grateful.  Explanations are everything.

They have had a few entries and so far so good.  They are thankful for friendships because they can talk to their buddies and run around together.  They recognize the value in their godparents and godbrothers.  Today they were thankful for basketball and having parents coach them.  I hope they keep this up when school starts.  I think it’s important for kids to have an “attitude of gratitude” especially mine.  Although they don’t go home with something most times they go to the mall (I know some parents who promise their kids a treat each time), they do receive generous birthday and Christmas presents and have my in-laws who are very generous grandparents (despite many reminders to wait for special occasions).  Teaching  them to give back starts at a young age so it may be something you’d like to start with your child.

If you are interested in involving your children in the St. Patrick’s Backpack Program in Markham or perhaps a similar program in your community, now is the time.  If you are on Facebook, please contact me and I will gladly forward you some information. Backpacks are due soon so if you are interested, please contact me by Thursday, August 18.



I wanted to give Hip Teacher Dada a surprise for his birthday.  What better way than with a new restaurant hidden behind a comic book storefront?  Since Summerlicious had also just started, it was easy to mislead HTD into thinking that we were dining at one of the participating restaurants.  My in-laws were informed of the surprise and didn’t mention where we were headed.

One of HTD’s concerns whenever we go out is the parking situation. He wants it to be close by and easy.  None of this u-turn and through a hidden alley kind of thing.  Lucky for us, the parking lot was right next to the restaurant and he was so focused on his GPS that he didn’t notice the black sign with white lettering at all.  It wasn’t until I brought him to the door did he see the sign and understand the concept.  (I made a card so he could figure out the title of “Hidden Figures”, a recent movie we showed our students and also a BIG hint…he didn’t figure it out.)

Upon passing the red velvet ropes, we entered into the small foyer where comics wallpapered the room and displays showed superhero figurines  and a large stand-up Mickey.  The hostess gave us a brief description of the restaurant and waited patiently while we took selfies.  To enter the restaurant, she pressed the giant Captain America button.  We were ushered inside and lead to our table in a small, but modern setting.
We met our waiter for the night (aptly named Tobey) who informed us that the artwork could not be photographed, but taking pictures of the food and beverages were encouraged.  I wanted to clarify that pictures of us were fine.
We started with our drink orders.  He recommended the Brumble Bee because I wanted something fruity.  HTD chose the Web Slinging Spider Hombre and his drink was awesome!  I liked it more than mine (don’t you hate it when that happens).  We also received a complimentary Maleficient (rye, pineapple, lime, orgeat, sage, Bruichladdich, and activated charcoal).  The drink was because I had mentioned that we were celebrating a birthday when I made my online reservations weeks ago.  It was a nice touch that made HTD feel extra special!  🙂
The food arrived shortly after and every dish was impressive.  I love tapas places simply for the fact that we can sample so many different items.  Believe me, we would’ve tried more if we thought our stomachs could handle it and if we weren’t planning on indulging in movie butter popcorn later (of course, we were watching Spiderman).
The presentation was pretty although at times some plates looked almost the identical (e.g. four green dots).  My favourite was the soft shell crab while HTD loved the Canadian Lamb. Everything was delicious.
The service was impeccable. The waitstaff was attentive without being annoying.  New plates in between courses and polite young men at our beck and call (not often, we’re pretty low maintenance).  We enjoyed our two-hour meal and shared five plates between the two of us.  A few tables around us shared about three and some were rushing off to watch Spiderman: Homecoming (we had a 10p.m. show so we had plenty of time to spare).
HTD went to the restroom and I was disappointed to hear that it wasn’t totally superhero themed.  The signage showed Wonder Woman and Superman, but that was the extent of it.  Too bad.  How cool would it be to flush with a golden lasso or push down on kryptonite…just saying.
Upon receiving the bill, it came nestled inside a couple of comics which was a great final touch to the whole experience.  Two superhero signs in the air from us!


Last week, our school had a special visit from Aussie X, a division of X Movement, a program geared towards school-age children to promote physical activity and positive thinking.  Through the use of sport, specifically Aussie Rules Football, the coaches engage the students through play and team building.

T-Bone (Phil) and Meatball (Cade) were the two instructors from Aussie X.  We learned that in Australia, many people go by nicknames so we called them by their nicknames during their time with us.  They were at our school for three days teaching classes from kindergarten to grade eight.  On the evening of the last day, parents were welcome to attend the lessons at the school so they could participate in the same fun activities their children did earlier during the week.

We were given a two-hour window where my students were first shown a video about footy.   After a brief introduction, Meatball asked a few questions to make sure they were listening. They discussed the basic skills and rules of Aussie football and then out we went.

The students warmed up with some simple games involving listening skills and partner work.  They danced, skipped around, acted silly, and generally, had a good time.  Afterwards, they tossed the football and learned how to kick the ball properly with their hands in proper position. One of the later games involved them aiming the balls at Meatball and myself.  Not MY favourite game 😛 however, I was lucky that the kids hadn’t perfected their kicks yet.  I left unscathed.

At the end of the session, Meatball handed out some green bracelets and taught them some Aussie high fives, which continued to solidify the friendship between him and the kids.  They liked his cheesy jokes so why not a goofy handshake.  Mix it in with some dance moves and they were hooked.  Everyone left happy and with an accent (LOL).

I had a chance to sit down with the two instructors and picked their brains about footy, X Movement, and life in Australia.

HTM: Is footy the national sport in Australia much like hockey is in Canada?

T-Bone: Yes.  It’s the Australian Football League.

Meatball: AFL.

HTM: What attracted you to the sport?

T-Bone: Everyone’s doing it.  Every town has a league.

Meatball:  You grow up around it.

HTM: Is playing professionally part of the plan for you?

T-Bone: Not for me.

Meatball: When I was younger, it was part of the plan.

T-Bone: Well, you kinda play professionally.  You get paid to play.

Meatball:  Sorta.  It’s not a lot, but yeah, I get paid.

HTM: How old are you and how long have you been playing?

T-Bone: I’m 29.  I’ve been playing since I was six.  The league here is like your little league.

Meatball: I’ve played local league and interleague which is like rep since I was 9.  I’m 20.

HTM:  Who decided to pitch this sport outside of Australia?

T-Bone: The main guy is from Australia, Emile “The Dragon” Studham.

HTM: My husband mentioned seeing this on Dragon’s Den.

Meatball: Yes!  So we were on Shark Tank too.  They came to North America and then expanded.

HTM: Was the focus more on the physical aspect or teamwork for this program?

T-Bone: It was more on the teamwork aspect where everyone is learning a new sport.  All the kids are on equal playing field so to speak.  There are always the kids who are the athletes, some are the artists, etc. Here everyone can learn to kick the ball the same.

Meatball: Footy makes them all equal.  Kids get to shine for those two hours because it’s new to everyone.

HTM: Besides the physical exercise, what do you enjoy about teaching footy to the kids?

T-Bone: Kids can just hang out.  We like the interaction, it’s fun!

Meatball: I like having impact on the kids.  Showing them how to be positive and caring to others.  It’s treating people equally.

HTM: My students wanted a class nickname.  What would you give us?

Meatball: I think something fierce.  Markham Redbacks like the spider.

HTM:  Thanks so much for your time.  Much appreciated.

T-Bone: You’re welcome.

Meatball: No problem.

For more information about Aussie X and X Movement, please check out their website.

Unionville Festival

       This past weekend, we popped by the Unionville Festival on Main Street to get our fill of parades and treats for the start of the summer.  It was amazing weather on Saturday so we spent some time soaking up the rays.  We arrived about half an hour before the parade began.  Usually, the hot spots are taken up already, but I think people were just milling around.  We managed to grab our favourite curb across from Starbucks.   We were excited to see how Baby C would like it.

      The parade lasted about an hour and we saw many local businesses such as dance studios, local clubs, and politicians with floats and participants handing out candy and treats.  The kids enjoyed it except for the gun blasts at the start.  They were quite loud and right in front of us.  We saw the huge horses up close, a school bus (Baby C LOVES them), and a fire engine.  To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday this year, volunteers handed out flags.  There was free face painting and Freezies for the kids.  We saw lots of dogs and babies all out enjoying the great weather.  Our friend and coach of Big H’s basketball team had a booth to promote his basketball camp.  We ran into a couple of friends who also attend this annual event.  Local merchants sold soap, jewellery, dresses, fresh bread, and toys.  There was a big selection of food including corn, stinky tofu, and burgers.  There was a big Pikachu walking around and some clowns taking pictures with kids.

          We left around noon as Baby C was starting to get tired and we had been up pretty early that day.  Big H stayed with her friends at the basketball tent, popping over to other tents to make slime.  We enjoyed some fresh mango slush on the way back to our car.  It certainly reminded us that summer is just around the corner.  Can’t wait for more 25C days!

Meal Planning 101


With so many things on the go, the last thing I want to stress over is food.  I’ve always meal-planned, but lately, the process has been fine tuned and everything seems to go quite smoothly.  My process starts on a Wednesday when my favourite flyer app, Flipp, comes out with next week’s flyers for our closest grocery store.  I plan the menu for the week, sometimes based on sales and other times just using the flyer for inspiration. After menu planning comes the store visit on a Saturday morning.  If you go early enough, no one is there and it’s a pleasant walk through produce and meat.  Sometimes, I’m even lucky enough to wrangle an older daughter to come with me for the trip.  Most times, I go at it alone and I find it relaxing.  The funny thing is, no matter how many things I have to get or whoever comes with me, it’s usually an hour trip. Going alone is easier though because then I’m not entertaining Baby C or convincing my girls that zucchini really is as delicious as its cousin, the cucumber.

Sundays are meal prep days.  Although it doesn’t take a full day, it does take a busy three to four hours depending on how much chopping is involved.  A typical menu for the week may consist of using my Instant Pot at least once, some stir fry, and perhaps, something going in the oven.  I also try to plan healthy breakfasts to go for four of us (Baby C eats at daycare) and also snacks and lunches.

When I was on maternity leave, every night we had a different meal.  Oh, how spoiled they were!  LOL.  Now, I will often double Sunday’s meal and Tuesday’s meals.  Even though Hip Teacher Dada and I finish early at work, we don’t leave right away.  From coaching to planning and marking to the gym, we don’t usually get home until around 5:30 p.m.  Having something ready to heat up is much easier than doing an hour of cooking every night.

This is our menu for the week:

Girls’ Breakfast: fruit and yogurt parfait (granola sprinkled in the morning)

Parents’ Breakfast: chia seed pudding with fruit (granola sprinkled in the morning)

Girls’ Lunch: cheese, pita, veggie sticks and chicken drumsticks

Parents’ Lunch: salad with berries, chicken, and egg

Dinner: shepherd’s pie and broccoli, honey garlic drumsticks with rice and mixed veg (roasted mushroom, onion, peppers, and carrots), omelette with toast and asparagus

Snacks: fruit cups with apple, pear, strawberries, and cherries, veggie sticks with dip, and carrot muffins

As you see, the menu is simple and healthy.  On the weekends, we usually eat out, grab take-out, or have events with family and friends.  I’ll do a more substantial breakfast on weekends like crepes or waffles.   I will try to avoid making Sunday plans because I know being home sets up the rest of the week for success.  I try to mix up my protein so that no one gets bored of the menu and in the summer, we will barbecue.  Last week, we had shrimp wraps, chicken alfredo, and homemade chicken fingers.  Making up dinner menus is fun and often, Facebook feeds and cooking shows serve as inspiration.  Sometimes I just ask the girls what they want and we’ll just go with that.  Chatting about food with friends is also a regular thing so sometimes I get cravings so my menu is already done.

What about you?  Do you meal plan and prep on Sunday?  Any special tips to share?