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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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

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    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!

Backpack Program: Time to Give Back(pack)

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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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

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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?

 

 

 

 

SUPERHERO POWERS: Which would you choose?

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I LOVE superhero movies.  The next few years are gonna be a blast for Hip Teacher Dada and I because every other date movie will be superhero focused.  We just watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and soon, it’ll be Wonder Woman (June 2).  It got me thinking.  Why the sudden interest in the genre?  Why the multitude of t.v. shows, comics, and remakes?  When did superheroes become cool again or did they never become uncool?  I’m not complaining.  It’s a dream come true!

For me, I’ve always loved superheroes and grew up watching Superman with my dad.  Although my dad is no longer with me, I always remember the Christopher Reeve movie marathons on t.v. with him.  I remember watching Batman and thinking how dark a character he was, but always thought he could kick Superman’s ass.  I was engrossed in X-Men and even bought a large coffee table book and shared it with some (only certain students with a fondness of heroes knew about it) who were really into them.

I also thought it was so cool to have superpowers.  Which one would I want? There are so many out there: invisibility, speed, super strength, and harnassing the power of nature.  My friends even compared me to Wolverine for having such quick healing powers after my three C-sections.  LOL.  In the end, I decided that I’d love to be invisible.  Why?  Well, why not?  (Fine, it would be cool to spy on people.)

What about you?  Which power would you want?

Bullet Journal: I LOVE IT!

If you’re a teacher, chances are you love to organize and you love making lists.  Every September, I look forward to purchasing a brand new agenda for the school year.  I colour coordinate school events, personal appointments, kids’ activities and our family social calendar.  Until Christmas, my agenda has perfectly round bullets, neat check marks, and perfect stickers. By Christmas break, it’s no longer worthy of themed stickers and cute doodles.  It’s a mess.

One day, a friend mentioned bullet journaling to me and I couldn’t stop looking at all the results on Pinterest.  This entire phenomena is devoted to lists, creative designs, and jotting down memories.  I can write down future events and happenings.  I can decide my own layouts all the whole using cool new tools like washi tape and stencils.  What!  Where has BUJO been all my life?  It’s also a great place to write down things my kids do (I have a few pages devoted to each kid), wish lists, and future to-dos (a lot of it is for work for next September or for the house).

I came across this new hobby just around the time I turned 40.  Not sure if this is a midlife thing or just another new hobby, but anytime I get into something  (e.g. stamp collecting, Cricut, Instant Pot, etc.), I’m all in.  I mean, I go HARD!  I want all the tools, research all the tips, and Google all the sites – usually in a week.  LOL.

So after purchasing my bullet journal from Indigo on my birthday, within the week, I also had the fine liners, pencil crayons, stickers, and metallic markers.  I also went on the hunt for cute washi tape, correction tape, and the perfect ruler and pencil case.  I began to lay out my monthlies and weeklies, all the while keeping in mind what my friend said.  “Don’t worry if you make mistakes!  I did for the first few weeks and it’s okay.”  Clearly, she knows how Type A I am!  This BUJO not only gives me a chance to design my own layouts and pick my colour scheme for the pages (much like a scrapbook), I also have an exercise in retraining my mind and keeping my mental health in check.  It’s almost like gratitude journal, Smash Book, and agenda all rolled into one.  What fun!

Last week, we were in Niagara Falls so naturally, we hit up Target in the dollar section (my fave).  Amazing finds including mini-stamps (the Starbucks coffee cup got me), washi tape, and planner stickers.  For $3, you can’t go wrong!

Since I started, a couple of my friends are now interested in it and started to gather their materials for their own bujo.  I can’t wait to see their layouts and what other ideas they came up with.  I mostly modify inspiration I see on Pinterest to suit my needs.  Each month, I’ve switched out my weekly layouts to keep it fresh.  I’m going to have this current bujo until the end of 2017 and then get a new one for January (it’s hard – my mind has a Sept to June calendar because of work, but I also work on Jan to Dec time).  My middle child really wants one for her birthday so maybe she will get a Birthday Bujo.  It’s already in my planner.  😛

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: THE HOCKEY SWEATER

Everyone knows the classic story by Canadian author, Roch Carrier, about his experience growing up as a big hockey fan.  All the boys in the neighbourhood wear a Montreal Canadiens’ jersey with number 9, Maurice “Rocket” Richard, on the back.  However, Roch is accidentally sent a Maple Leafs’ jersey instead when his mother orders it from Hudson Bay.  He is afraid to wear it because of what all the neighbourhood kids will think.  He can’t be a Toronto fan!

Before the presentation of this beloved tale, the TSO presented a collection of songs inspired by travelling all across Canada.  From a wolf’s song to a regatta tune focused on the trombone, the melange of short pieces was not only fun to listen to, but educational.  Before each piece was played, the host of the event, Abigail Richardson-Shulte, explained the background of the piece and taught a mini-history lesson.  As a teacher, I LOVED it.  It also helped to see which instruments to pay particular attention to.

Our favourite piece was the farmland song, “Chicken Reel.”  It really got the audience clapping and the kiddies moving.  The musicians spinning their double basses at the side was great too.   Not only did this song get the audience into it, there were several more pieces that allowed for audience participation.  We closed our eyes and imagined The Northern Lights.  The audience did a wave.  It was really fun!

After travelling across our great nation through song (we are celebrating our 150th, after all),  it was time for the main event.  The TSO along with the author himself performed the famous book through narration, drama, and sounds.  Different instruments portrayed special effects such as the naggy mom (woodwind), church (organ), and Rocket Richard (brass).  It was great to see the story unfold right before our eyes.

Once again, the TSO did a great job of educating the young and old alike through a spectacular musical performance.  I loved the classic tale performed live.  My kids enjoyed the short pieces throughout the performance.  They were just long enough to keep their attention.

Have you been to a TSO performance yet?  Check out what’s coming up: https://www.tso.ca/