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.

 

 

 

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BRAIN CANDY: LIVE WINNER

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Congratulations to CP for winning the family set of four tickets to Brain Candy: Live! at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on November 25.  The tickets will be sent out today.  Thanks to everyone who PM’ed and commented to enter the contest.  Stay tuned for more upcoming giveaways.

Family Tradition: Halloween

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    Did you have a great night with your little goblins?  As always, we had an early dinner and then walked around our neighbourhood for an hour.  The slight rain in the afternoon worried me a bit and I heard from a co-worker that they had hail in Stouffville, but luckily, it all cleared up by the evening.  We did our usual route (we did the same as last year) and then went home to hand out candy.  Ended the night with sorting our goodies and pumpkin perfect.  It was a slightly later bedtime for Baby C and she was a cranky pants this morning, but it happens.

     Baby C was able to walk for most of the hour (she needed to be carried for the last ten minutes which was fine) and she was so loud with her “Trick or treat!”  She was clearly excited and her enthusiastic and genuine “Thank you” brought smiles to many of those who handed out candy.  One of my favourite houses had a lady dressed in a robot costume who was in full character and asked in a monotone voice, “What do you want?”  She was an awesome machine.

   Some people went all out with their decor and it really does bring the spirit of Halloween alive.  We won’t decorate too much until we get more kids in the area.  Going to our house probably isn’t a priority as we have an open field across from us.  Maybe when Big H is tired of trick or treating, she will want to stay home and distribute.

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     One thing that should be noted is that if you are not home, don’t turn on your lights.  We ended up at some of the same houses at some teenage girls and they thought the same.  It was a waste of time.  For our girls especially Baby C, some steps were just hard to get up and down.  Lights off, people skip.

      Thanks to Mother Nature, it wasn’t too cold.  We had our on Minions costumes (“Ooooh a Minion family, love it!” so we had layers on and our winter coats.  The hats were amazing because they were cute and functional (thanks, Target).  I hope you enjoyed your annual tradition too.

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Saying Farewell to a Fall Tradition

     We have been going to Whittamore’s Farm yearly for fall photos since Big H was born.  We volunteered on her daycare trip to Pumpkinland in 2011.  Many of my friends go there to pick their own strawberries or for fresh produce from their market store.  This year, the farm classic on Steeles Avenue will be closing its doors to the public in November and the feeling we get when hearing that is sadness.

      The Whittamore family has owned the 330-acre farm since 1804.  They’ve been in the pick-your-own berry business since the mid-1950s.  Mike Whittamore said it was a hard decision to make, but it was time.  Working around the clock is what farming is all about so it is understandable that this hard-working family needs a break and some family time together.   Many loyal customers from Markham and other nearby communities are saddened by the news of the farm closing to the public, but they get it.  It’s been a long time.

      The family will rethink their farming in 2018 and decide which future endeavours to take.  They may not do fruits and vegetables, but they will certainly do something with the huge plot of land.  Until then, you have about a week to squeeze in photo ops with their lovely pumpkins and they kids can have one last ride on their horse swings or swoosh down their big red slide.

      Thank you, Whittamore’s for all those memories.  We will never forget you.

 

CONTEST: BRAIN CANDY LIVE!

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   Hungry for science-based action?  Want to see if those crazy curiousities can be satisfied?  Join Adam Savage and Michael Stevens for an event that will surely blow your mind!  They will tease you with epic demonstrations that integrate imagination, humour, and surprise.  This highly interactive event will zip by because as we know, time flies when you’re having FUN!  See Savage of Mythbusters fame and Stevens of Vsauce on YouTube as they explore the world of tools, toys, and demonstrations that will surely make you go, “What?!”

     Hip Teacher Mama is proud to present a ticket giveaway for this phenomenal show.  Produced by MagicSpace Entertainment and directed by Michael Weber, who has been called a “walking Swiss Army knife”, this show will be explorative and guaranteed fun.  Weber has worked with such talent as Jack Nicholson, Edward Norton, Hugh Jackson, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Wes Craven, and more!

     This is the first time two ingenious minds will meld together for one extraordinary evening and you NEED to be there!   By popular demand, more shows have been added across North America, and The Sony Centre of the Performing Arts has them!

 

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           To enter for a set of four tickets for Saturday, November 25, 2017 for 7:30 p.m.

  1. Follow Hip Teacher Mama on Facebook, Instagram or WordPress.
  2. Like and comment on this post.  “Mythbusters or VSauce?”
  3. Tag two friends in this post.
  4.  Contest runs from Nov. 2 to 12.  Please make sure to check out the video draw on Nov 12.  Contestants please make sure I can PM you on social media.

good luck

 

 

REVIEW: Kidapalooza 2017

First time ever trying out this family-oriented festival that took place Thanksgiving weekend.   Located at the Markham Fairgrounds, they expanded their site to indoors and outdoors for their second year.

Here is what the Hip Teacher Family liked and thought could be improved.

THUMBS-UP

All-inclusive tickets for games and rides  (except for the pony rides).

Many games geared towards kids including basketball and mazes.

Train ride is fun.  Two trains meant quicker lines, but we went early.

Large toddler area with decent selection of toys including grocery store, ride-on toys, blocks and balls.  Mats laid down.

Friendly volunteers from high school and older.

Lots of appealing indoor bouncy castles.

Free mini-squash for kids for souvenirs.

Cute petting farm.  Reasonable $2 for animal feed in little cups.

Fun dress-up area where kids could have some early Halloween fun.

Excellent location.  Free parking!

THUMBS-DOWN

Plush animal ride-on vehicles not ready by 10:15 a.m.  We were told to come back in 20 minutes.  Doors opened at 10 a.m.

Plush animal ride-on times inconsistent.  A friend went on (after a LONG wait) and she said some riders got a three laps while others were on for ten-minutes (long lines throughout).

Volunteers did not know what some sponsor businesses were.  They were wearing their t-shirts though.

Bouncy castle restrictions.  My toddler wasn’t able to go through an inflatable course with her sisters and she needed guidance to get up so she couldn’t go on.  Most inflatables geared toward older kids (4 and up, imo)

Pumpkin patch was weak when we arrived.  It was scarce.  It wasn’t at the end of the day, but rather the beginning so it should’ve been much more appealing.

People in line thought they were lining up for Paw Patrol (on the promo poster), but it ended up being Peppa Pig.  We didn’t line up because we thought it was Paw Patrol (we walked by and saw Peppa, Baby C’s favourite). The lines were too long to go back and wait.

SUGGESTIONS

Reduce the entrance fee.  Heard several parents say that $25 per child plus $8 for parents was too much.  It shouldn’t cost more than the Markham Fair.

Continue the indoor and outdoor layout.  That was great!

Have more characters walk around the event.  Kids love to meet and greet their favourites from TV.

Did anyone check out this event?  What did you think?

Editor’s Pick: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets featuring the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

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From the first magical notes to the last glimmer of the end credits, the whole experience was magical. We saw excited Harry Potter fans dressed in Gryffindor scarves, Ravenclaw skirts, and black capes galore.  There were wands, sorting hats, and even a family in the front row who were the real-life Weasleys.  It was amazing.

Conducted by Joshua Gershen, this three-hour epic movie with a quick ten minute intermission (a bit too fast as we were still drying our hands when the warning bell chimed) was spectacular from beginning to end.  The musicians played frantically during the ominous Quidditch game as the rogue bludger chased Harry all over the pitch.  The violin and cellists played spiritly as our main character attempted to avoid imminent danger.  The musicians were wonderful at making our pulses race again when the monster was discovered in its lair.

What made the experience even more entertaining was that the audience was invited to make the whole night theirs from the very start.  We cheered for our heroes and we booed the villains.   Like TIFF, watching the movie with such a participatory feel and an involved audience made the movie even more spectacular.  Lines were just funnier than watching it at home.  We sneered at the bad guys and whooped and hollered when Harry and Ron got out of a jam.  Not a dry eye in the house when Hagrid presented himself in the large dining hall.  No doubt, the Harry Potter fans in the audience had seen the movie before, but with the whole audience so obviously charmed by the magical TSO, the undertaking was just that much more whole.

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If you want to be a part of the next experience in this Harry Potter in Concert series, please get your tickets for Prisoner of Azkaban showing May 16 to 18, 2018 at Sony Centre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MusiCounts: Band Aid Program

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MusiCounts is Canada’s music education charity associated with The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Juno Awards.  They have continued the MusiCounts Band-Aid Program for 2018 which provides musical instruments to schools in need across the country whose music program could use a little enhancement.  Applications began in September and increments of $5,000 and $10,000 will be awarded to eligible schools across Canada.  Final applications are due November 20.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of MusiCounts.  This charity will distribute $720,000 in instruments to 88 music programs to schools nationwide to put instruments in the hands of children who need them most.  They recognize the need to develop and celebrate the artistic talents of our elementary and secondary students and provide the opportunities for all.  Music is for everyone!

If you are a music teacher or a teacher who wishes to apply for this special initiative, please check out their website here: MusiCounts Band Aid Program.  It is open for elementary, junior high, and secondary schools in public and separate school boards.

Markham Fair 2017 Review

     Did you get out to the Markham Fair this year?  One year made a HUGE difference in what Baby C got out of the experience.  We went on Saturday morning and Mother Nature did her part by keeping the temperatures relatively warm for end of September.  We hit up the fair in our usual way, the front buildings first and then through all the way to the end and loop to the rides (we don’t go on them, but we like to look).

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    Baby C loved the animals so much we had to see them again at the end.  We saw the poultry first.  Wow, those hairstyles!  Baby C got so close to them, I thought they would peck out her eyes.  We moved onto the next building to see the chickens and goats.  We loved the big barn the best especially because Mommy Pig was super active as her piglets ran in circles all over the place.  In all these years we’ve been going, I’ve never seen her do anything other than sleep.  She looked like an annoyed mom and at one point, she flung one piglet into the side of the trough! Two of the piglets were playing tag so a lot of bumping and grunting occurred and a crowd had gathered.  The horses stuck their heads out for a petting, goats were curious about all the people walking by, and the sheep looked ready for a rest.  The fluffy chicks were warm in their incubators and the cow stayed still for most the time we were there.  Old Macdonald’s Barn is always a blast.

 

   We did a bit of shopping after the animals.  I got a sweeper and it has to be my favourite purchase ever at the fair.  I ran into a girlfriend and she got one too so we took advantage of the deal (one for $25 and two for $20).  Thanks, girl!  😛  I hope you guys use it as much as I do.  The great thing about the sweeper is that it really does get the corners and is light and easy to maneuver.  The girls even enjoy it.  (Anything to get them cleaning is fine with me.)

    Next we walked through to the arts and crafts tents.  We saw the artwork and I even recognized some past students’ work!  Great work, guys!  We ended up at the antique book where we played a guessing game. We had to match the antique with its purpose and we got 14/14.  How excited were we?  This was like a real life episode of Antique Road Show (which HTD enjoys).  We ended up chatting with the lady running the booth and she commented on how good the girls were.  🙂  She was a former kindergarten teacher herself and probably happy we spent so much time figuring things out.  Educational, but fun.  We love stuff like that.

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    Moving on after that building was the food competition building.  Hip Teacher Dada and I always joke that we should submit a store-bought pie and see what happens.  Do the people bake in the presence of judges?  Who are the judges?  How do we become judges (that’s our stomachs talking)?  Always after that building, we have odd cravings for tarts.  😛   It still makes me laugh how huge people can grow their veggies.  Seriously, how does one even grow zucchini thicker than my thigh?

    Heading outside we decided to grab a snack.  We bypassed the blooming onion (first time we skipped it, so sad) and headed straight for the corndogs and poutine.  WARNING!  Do not go to the poutine booth that is on the corner.  We did NOT get true poutine with the curds.  I was so disappointed that it was just shredded cheese.  HTD said it was false advertising and I agree.  You cannot claim you sell poutine when it clearly isn’t.  That was a bit annoying, but we didn’t let that ruin our day!  🙂  (The girls just wanted fries so whatever form they could get it in didn’t matter.)  However, it makes me feel like I have to ask, “Curds in your poutine?”  Would that be insulting?

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     After our snack, we decided to walk around.  We headed for the rides, but because of our nervousness in their set-up, we don’t do them.  We get Canada’s Wonderland passes anyway and we feel much safer about going on rides that are permanent.  (Does anyone else feel this way?)  There were no particular prizes we wanted to win so we didn’t play any games this year.  It really was a quick trek around the midway.  We popped in for more cool animal sightings and a goat competition.  Baby C was fascinated with the large machinery on our way out.  Perhaps she will be a farmer one day?    We love our annual tradition and this was no different.

      Did you visit the 2017 fair?  What did you like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Teachers’ Day 2017

    Created by UNESCO in 1994, over 100 countries celebrate this global event.  Although not a holiday, it is a special day to recognize teachers for the hard work that they do.  We thank teachers for their countless hours of hard work.  Be sure to thank all the teachers in your life today.

        Did you know that many teachers are at school for eight hours a day?  Work will still go home at night and on weekends. There are notebooks to prep in primary and tons of crafts to prepare.  Marking may seem never ending for those in higher grades who have thirty or more students. Teachers do it for the love of improvement.

       Did you know that teachers volunteer their time before and after school to coach teams or run clubs?  Meetings for staff and events for younger students are often run during lunch time because it would be hard for students to stay after school.  Staff devour their lunch in twenty minutes so students can have a special club of interest just for them.  Teachers do it for love of creative interest.

      Did you know that students with IEPs (individual education plan) have special needs so the teacher will put in place unique accommodations or modifications to their program so the student is successful?  On-going conversation between the homeroom teacher, special education teacher, and principal essures the student is being served effectively.  Continuous communication with parents are also important.  Parents should not be concerned about a “label”.  Instead, take this extra recognition for what it is and allow your child to opportunity to do his or her best.  Teachers do this for student success.

    Did you know that Educational Assistants and Early Childhood Educators are important teachers working inside classrooms to make sure these IEPs are fulfilled?  Students who require extra assistance and care are the focus of these special educators.  They are the ones that know your child inside out for the homeroom teacher may have twenty to thirty other students to look out for.  EA’s and ECE’s help to program and create activities to make your child’s experience as beneficial and equitable as everyone else in the class.  They do this because they want all children to enjoy school and to maximize every learning opportunity.

      Did you know that French and Music teachers are bringing a new love to the classroom everyday?  They inspire students to dive into an unfamiliar world and help them develop a passion for a language they may have never known or a rhythm they couldn’t otherwise identify.  They help them explore their unique talents and gifts.  Students grasp a new skill and may be able to pursue a whole new career because of this.  Teachers do all this because of their love to inspire.

       Did you know that a lot of items in the class may be purchased by the teacher?  Craft supplies, stickers, decor, classroom library books and so much more come out of pocket for the teacher.  The classroom is a second home to most teachers so they want to make it as comfortable for the kids and themselves.  They buy games for recess and science kits for exploration.  They purchase inspirational posters and toys for the prize boxes.  Teachers do this for the love of engaging their students and keeping school fun.

      Finally, did you know that when your child comes to school, his or her teacher is ready to give it 100%?  Teachers do this because they chose this special profession.  They do it because they truly care for our world’s future.

     Teachers: thank you for all that you do.  As a mom of a fourth-grader, second-grader, and preschooler, I see all that you do and I truly appreciate it.  I’m lucky enough to work with a wonderful staff who do everything I mentioned and more.  Happy World Teachers’ Day!

GIVEAWAY: KIDAPALOOZA 2017

flyerupdated     The Markham Fairgrounds have all things happening in fall it seems!  First, the upcoming fair and now, a more recent tradition called Kidapalooza brought to you by Ell Events Inc.  This is a great opportunity for you to celebrate family as it takes place over the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  I will post a full review once I visit the event myself, but I am definitely looking forward to it.  Kid-centric and with an expansion to the outdoors, I can’t wait to see all that Kidapalooza has to offer.

     Hip Teacher Mama is happy to present a Family Pack Giveaway (2 adults and 2 kids age 23 months and up).  Kids under 23 months are FREE.  To enter, simply do the following:

  1.  Like this post.  Tag friends for extra entries (1 friend = 1 entry).
  2.  Follow Hip Teacher Mama on Facebook or Instagram.
  3. Comment on “What do your kids prefer: inflatables or petting zoo?”
  4. Contests runs from September 28 to October 4, 2017.  Winner will be contacted by PM (please make sure you can get PMs on FB or IG) on October 5.

    You can also get a 25% discount with the promo code FALLFUN at www.kidapalooza.ca for a limited time.