THANK YOU, TEACHERS!

 A-Big-Thank-You

      It’s the last day of school and the year flew by!  Big H is now moving onto Grade 5 while Middle A will be at the top of the Primary Division in Grade 3.  Without their awesome teachers in the classroom, they wouldn’t have enjoyed their year so much.  They both have a passion for learning and are successful because of the support and love they receive on a daily basis.  From their homeroom teachers to French to gym, they learn with enthusiasm and come home immediately to start their homework.  From a very young age they developed that habit and although I know it was instilled at home, I am keenly aware that their teachers say the same thing.   Their teachers are kind and caring and I couldn’t have asked for more in an educator.

      On this last day of school, I just want to say “THANK YOU” to the teachers, support staff, and administration at the school.  They plan so many fun activities that the kids look forward to! School IS fun and they have grown so much.  I can’t wait until September when Baby C (aka Hurricane C) joins the fun!

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REVIEW: Shopkins Live!

    

 

“Shopkins, Shopkins!”  Catchy! That’s the extent of what I know of the popular theme song from the well-known toy and show so I wasn’t sure how much I would be entertained by their live act.  A 90-minute live production and I have to say I was excited through most of it because who doesn’t like it when small toys talk and enlarge to 100X their normal size?  A real-life Lippy Lips and Strawberry Kiss? YES, please. All the Shoppies were on-hand in colourful wigs and tulle skirts including Bubbleisha, Peppa-Mint, Rainbow Kate, Polli Polish, and Cocolette.

     Shopkins Live had a simple to follow storyline which was appropriate and kept the audience entertained. Based on the popular Moose Toys’ product that came out several years ago, this collectible doesn’t seem to have lost its hold on the young girl demographic.  Most of the audience were 4 to 10-year-old girls with many moms and some dads thrown into the mix.   Middle A (daughter #2) came with me in her Delish Donut t-shirt and she loved it.

     The Shopkins were getting ready for the Fashion and Food Fair organized by Shady Diva, a Hat Shopkin.  She made it very clear that there was a special guest coming and it was super-duper important that Jessicake meet and take care of her.  However, Jessicake had so many things to do (namely decorating her booth because she wanted to win a prize) that she assigned the task to Kooky Cookie, who has a bad habit of falling asleep.  Several misunderstandings later, the special guest was found and returned to the fair just in time! Another storyline was the one of Slick Breadstick (the funniest character in the show to me) and his desire to find a dance partner.  All the Shoppies rejected him (“I have to go” excuses abundant), but he kept tossing out his cheesy one-liners. Turns out, the special guest was the ultimate dance partner for Slick Breadstick!

     Presented by Koba Entertainment, this musical is full of fun and original songs and choreography.   I love that the eyeballs of the characters actually move! The dancing popcorn was very entertaining and the placement of the large food pieces on visible platforms was brilliant.  This would be a great introduction to live entertainment for young children.  It made the everyday Shopkins even more fun because they could talk and we heard only what we imagined them sounding like.  It was definitely a fun show and we had a blast!

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Bur Oak Closet

       Came across a post on a local Facebook site and thought it was a worthwhile venture to write about and promote.  The Bur Oak Closet is an event targeted at female students in Grades 8 to 12.  It is in its third year and the main goal is to help students find dresses for special events such as graduation and prom.
           Laura Dodham, Head of Guidance at Bur Oak Secondary School and Vice-Principal, Kathy McAlpine started Bur Oak Closet after being inspired by Maple High School.  MHS had been running Diva Ball for over ten years, but the distance was too great for those in the eastern part of York Region.  MHS started BOSS off with some dresses and the event was highly promoted and many donations came in from the Markham community.
           This comes from the coordinators themselves:
         “Thus far, we have been able to give 31 girls a dress which she could wear to a fancy event like a wedding, party, graduation or prom.  In Markham and the surrounding areas, we know that many families are doing their best to provide for their children.  However, some students may not have the chance to go to one of these events without significant sacrifice.  Bur Oak Closets gives the girls an opportunity to enjoy these fancy events with a new dress or to experience the fun of going shopping with girlfriends.  If we know that there is a male student in need, we work directly with him to get him an outfit.
        Most of the students who visit The Bur Oak Closet are Grade 8 students who have been invited by their teachers for a variety of reasons.  The high school students have come from a number of schools in the area, including our BOSS where they do private showings for the girls.  We try to make their visit a “shopping” trip where they can try on some clothes (some look like princesses), laugh with their friends, have some refreshments and leave with a dress (if possible) and a gift. Our goal is to have an enjoyable time, feel welcome in our school, meet some older girls and feel special at their event. 
         We send out invitations to all of the local elementary and secondary schools in York Region including Milliken, Markham, Unionville, Stouffville, Middlefield, and Markville areas.  Staff members sign up for an appointment time for their students so that it can be a pleasant and personalized experience.
          The community is a big part of the event. Sarah Hosaki has been a tremendous help in providing a way for the community to drop off dresses for us.   We are grateful for the fashion sense and generosity of many of our community members. They have donated dresses, scarves, jewellery, shoes, and unused make up.
          We have had a generous sponsor who has provided curling irons, hair dryers etc for each girl to take away.  In addition, we have been provided with party loot bags with sample products by Turning Hedz last year and a raffle prize for another year.  Shoppers Drug Mart also donated some nail polish and lip gloss to add to the bags.  Tip Top Tailors provided a full suit a year ago to one of our male students.  A local dry cleaner altered two dresses at a reduced cost to ensure that the girls looked stunning in a dress made to size.
           Many of the students who are looking for dresses are Grade 8s and we are always are looking for smaller sizes which are age appropriate.  On the other end of the spectrum, we have difficulty providing more full bodied girls with fashionable garments for teens.  
            We do this to build self esteem, sisterhood and a practical solution to a challenge that exists. It is also to build community.   I gather a group of Bur Oak students who carefully cull the dresses, catalogue, organize into sizes, act as dressers and floor assistants, set up and serve refreshments.  These students are impacted in a very positive way as well…they have thanked us for the opportunity to reach out to other students.”
          This event is ending April and the facilators would be grateful for more donations.  If you can donate something before Sunday, April 8, the dresses would be available for the clients for this year’s special events.  After that, they will be saved for next year’s events so your generous donation will never go to waste.   Donations can be dropped off at Bur Oak Secondary School in the guidance office located at 933 Bur Oak Avenue during school hours.  Turning Hedz Creations at 2925 Bur Oak Avenue will accept donations anytime as they have an enclosed porch for drop-offs.
          Please LIKE and SHARE to spread the word.  You can make a difference!

Lucky 7

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        This was past weekend was the official end of our basketball season for Big H.  We ended up in Division 1 for U11 in 7th place (same as last year).  We had the provincials, but our coach is hardcore so we get to practice until the end of June when school gyms shut down. Keeping the girls’ skills fresh is great and H gets to maintain some physical activity.  She also gets to see her teammates a couple times a week and that’s something she really looks forward to.

         Thinking over a recent discussion with Hip Teacher Dada where he had mentioned a comment made by another teacher who coaches.  The friend said that for girls’ sports, a lot of it is more social than the game.  Hmmm, at first I thought that was pretty sexist because I’m a pretty competitive person, but when I took a step back and thought about my own experience coaching boys and girls, it actually made sense.  It turned out to be a bit true.

        It’s been years since I coached girls (Intermediate volleyball and basketball) and boys (Junior and Intermediate basketball), but the camaraderie was instantly different with the two groups.   Mind you, it’s hard to judge because it is school sports and the intensity of rep ball and the amount of time spent is very different.  Still there was an instant bond for me coaching girls perhaps because we had a lot of similar interests to chat about outside the sport. I saw a bit of myself in them and them in me so we had that mother-daughter dynamic going for us. Coaching boys was more of a direct professional approach where we taught the plays and they executed them.  We didn’t chat much outside the realm of basketball.  It was Coach-Player all the way.

        Asking Big H’s teammates and herself, “What was the best part of the weekend?” and their answers were definitive. It wasn’t the winning of close games or the intense competition level. Most answers came back to the nights at the hotel going from room to room or just sharing a meal together at the team dinner.  They took selfies, played on the iPad together, and swam in the pool.  It was the bonding they remembered more than the last rebound they grabbed or what happened during the last shift of ball.   That social aspect seems to prevail over the competition dynamic and I’m okay with that.

    I never did competitive sports outside elementary school (Intermediate Girls’ Basketball Team).  Seeing this part of Big H’s life is wonderful.  Even though it took me a while to accept that our weekends were fully booked from October to March, it’s something I look forward to.  Seeing her progress on the court and her non-stop giggling with friends warms my heart.  Even the fact that she “has” to ride with her friends from the hotel to the gym (“You can’t be apart for five minutes?”) is silly, but sweet.

        This team aspect not only has opened up a different side of her (she is still the shyest one and needs to be embraced with open arms), but it has helped her become a more rounded individual.  Not only does she get her A’s for school, she now has a bit more to add to her repertoire.  Being a member of this team (along with school volleyball and basketball teams), has given her an opportunity to develop confidence and friendships.  It has given her a chance to work on her skills and get better.   Thanks to her supportive coaches and sweetheart of a team, she has loved this year with them. Overall, this experience is immeasurable and it’s really not about how many medals she’s collected over this year.  These games and tournaments create memories she will always remember.  For me, that’s gold.

 

Everything in its Place

stapler     Stapler. Tape. Hairbrush. I reach for it and it isn’t there. Work or home, that drives me nuts. Does this ever happen to you?

   At school, I have an area at the corner of the room labelled “Student Tools.” It is equipped with a stapler, rulers, hope puncher, markers, and all the essentials needed for a stationary hub. Inevitably, students will come to my desk and ask for MY stapler, MY tape, or MY highlighters. Um why?  If I say yes, they sometimes wander off with it and when I need it, I don’t have it. I get the whole “sharing is caring” thing because I’m always saying that to my own kids, but I’ve already “pre-shared” by making the special area. Just leave my stuff alone, please and thank you. 😁  Your centre is just on the other side of the room.

      Then at home, it is the same thing. Last week, it was scissors I keep in the washroom drawer to cut off tags off new clothes. Reached for it and it was gone. My eldest had taken it for whatever reason. The other night it was the corner cutter for making a student’s birthday card. This time it was Hip Teacher Dada who took it to put corners on photos for work. I don’t mind the sharing, but it is the not having things back in its spot when I need it that irks me. Time is of the essence and I hate wasting time looking for things. I called upstairs for it (my craft centre is in the basement) and sure enough, someone had it elsewhere. 🤔 Meanwhile, just waiting…

       The most irritating is when I’m in a rush and I cannot find what I need. Two items come to mind and it is my baby’s hairbrush and my phone. The first one is usually is when someone moves Baby C’s brush from bathroom to bedroom. Not sure why her hair is being brushed in the bedroom to begin with.  My phone is well, MY fault. I’m always walking around and sometimes I misplace it. I put it down to put away some clothes or put it somewhere on the counter when I’m cooking and then move on to something else. My kids are now used to this and the game is who can track down where Mommy has been and find the phone first. 😁

         How about you? Is “everything in its place” a rule in your home?

Can I Coach?

          For the second time in the past six months, I have been asked to be a coach. A few months ago, I was asked to be a Beachbody Coach. A new friend on Facebook (a friend of a friend) said that with my lifestyle, I seemed like a good fit. I already post on social media, I like helping others, and I work out regularly. However, after giving it some thought, I didn’t think it would be fair because I wouldn’t be posting daily. I didn’t feel that would be fair to the women I would have in my group. The coach who asked me posts daily and early in the mornings.  I’m barely getting my act together with three kids and my own morning regimen.

        I would want to be there 100% which right now is already hard on some days especially with the weird winter we have been having. Between work and home and finding a few moments of “me” time, I don’t see how I could be worthy of having an accountability group. The thought of twenty women relying on me for workout inspiration or meal plans is overwhelming. Right now, I’m happy posting my food pix randomly on IG or writing about our daily adventures and challenges. The mom of three who asked me is awesome and she actually works out daily like at 5am. Ha! I hit the treadmill a few times a week to catch up on shows!   I kickbox a couple times a week. Even the videos for Beachbody are ready to go on my phone, but unfortunately on some days, I’m not. LOL.  They are amazing for when I’m cruising though and no access to Wifi (I’m NOT paying an arm and a leg for that) and the videos are already downloaded.  I know some Beachbody Coaches are in it for the Shakeology discount only, but for me, if I were to do this, I would do it for the whole culture of it all and not just for the shake discount.

           I was happy to be asked for Beachbody, but then last week, I was asked to be a kickboxing coach. WHOA! That was very unexpected, but totally flattering! What can I say? I LOVE my fitness kickboxing classes. The staff is great and the atmosphere is comfortable. My favourite coach is a real sweetheart, but all the coaches are friendly and are great at their jobs.  The all-female environment makes it a nice sanctuary and I’ve heard quite a few clients claim that they are happy they don’t have to worry about how they look or what they wear. I’ve made some new friends there as well as brought some old friends in. It is a comfy environment among peers. Just 20 women or so pounding away, dripping for 45 minutes, and then the sweet bonus of a cool towel at the end of it all. I only go twice a week (our schedule is hectic), but the endorphins seem to last forever. I wish I had more time in my schedule to coach though because I would be leading by example. Again, due to work, Big H’s basketball schedule and my husband’s time to play ball, I wouldn’t be able to set aside a weekly time to coach. I’m one of those “give it 100%” types so if I cannot coach on a regular basis, I think it is more fair not to do it. Who knows though for the future?  Definitely keeping my options open.

          For now, I’m enjoying my workouts after work, morning tv treadmill runs, and popping in a video when I have the time.  Since starting the kickboxing thing almost a year ago, I have found an improvement in strength, muscularity, and balance.  I am more conscious of my water intake and have changed fat to muscle.  I get to eat more and feel less guilty about overindulging on junk.  If you know me, that’s already a bonus!  🙂

Sweeping Out the Old

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     One of the best Chinese New Year traditions is to sweep out the old. I don’t literally sweep (vacuum and mop), but the whole idea of cleaning out junk is a great big release. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been cleaning up and clearing OUT. It has been a whirlwind of dumping things and donating clothes, toys, and anything extra we haven’t used in a while in our home.  Someone’s junk is someone else’s treasure, they say.  I’ve also been using the Buy and Sell Facebook sites like mad and it feels good to get rid of things just sitting there. We also have been welcoming in new furniture (bedroom makeovers are fun) and decor. It’s nice to have a fresh start once in a while and I love having a comfy home.

     In the Chinese culture, it is best to sweep before the new year which falls on February 16 this year. If you sweep on New Year’s Day, it is like sweeping away wealth. Other traditions we believe in and TRY to follow include cutting hair before the new year (so we don’t cut away wealth again…girls got it done) and wearing new clothes on the first day of the new year. It is also bad luck to wear black or white. We should always give “lai see” or lucky money in even amounts to our kids. Good foods to eat include noodles, dumplings, fish, and tangerines which represent long life, prosperity, and good health. Although we don’t know everything about our culture, we are learning and find it important to pass on these traditions to our girls.

     Baby C hdownloadas taken to a book I borrowed from my school library from one of my favourite children’s book authors, Karen Katz. It has reached the point where she has memorized most of it and “reads” with such joy and enthusiasm, it’s hard not to smile when she does it. Will have to post that video soon!  We hope she can see a parade this weekend and experience that dragon in real life. Meanwhile, it is our last day to clean up and clear out!

 

How are you doing with your Chinese New Year preparations?

GIVEAWAY: KIDAPALOOZA

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      Who’s ready for a winter getaway?  I don’t know about you, but the cold temperatures are getting to me and I can’t wait to just relax with my family on the upcoming long weekend.

        Looking for something fun to do?   Check out the Kidapalooza Family Festival at the Markham Fairgrounds from February 17th to the 19th.  With indoor and outdoor events, you will have more chances to use the inflatables, enjoy the play stations, and see the stage performances.  There is also a petting zoo, skateboarding lessons, and many vendors.  FREE coffee and hot chocolate will be available sponsored by Tim Horton’s.

       I have a Family Fun Pass to give away which includes 2 adults tickets and 2 child tickets for the upcoming Markham festival.  The winner will be announced on February 12th!  To enter, simply share this post with two friends by tagging them in the comments.  Contest runs from Feb. 8th to 11th.

          I have also a blog exclusive promo code: FAMFUN for 30% off tickets at www.kidapalooza.ca    Check out their site for more details.  Good luck!

Trying Something New

Since turning 40, something in me has changed.  I’m more willing to try new things and see what’s out there.  Friends laugh about me being in my local bubble and I’m still like that, but new experiences bring about new memories so why not?

Despite a scraped left elbow and hyper-extended right one, we had ax throwing on the schedule for Friday night.  We had this Parents Night Out scheduled a few months ago so I was looking forward to it.  Injured or not, I was going to toss an ax.

Located in the middle of nowhere (just kidding, it was Pickering among warehouses), we found ourselves at BATL.  Started by a guy right in his own backyard, we quickly made friends with our instructor, Lyndon, who clearly followed a script with some sarcasm thrown in to make the little spiel his own.

We started off with drinks before learning to how place our hands and feet in proper position.  We were given the basic rules of tossing and retrieving (i.e. don’t retrieve while partner tosses) and also no butt taps with the ax.  Common sense, but BATL starts off their nights with drink orders so better safe than stupid.

We had some practice throws and then did a round robin tournament.  Hip Teacher Dada is pretty competitive though he likes to say that I’m the one who always wants to win.  I knew I would have no chance for this game as most times I tossed, my right elbow pulled at me angrily saying, “Why are you torturing me?”  I tried my best though!

After the two hours of tossing and laughing, I placed fourth while HTD was crown the king of ax throwing.  He seriously came back because our first throws landed on the ground and not in the board.  HTD picks up a skill rather  quickly which is pretty cool (a bit annoying too).   Much props to our friend, Peter, who looked like a natural right away.  I’m convinced he was in their weekly ax throwing league and just didn’t tell his wife.

King of Ax Tossing

Anyway the experience was definitely fun and about $45 per person.  We didn’t wear our plaid shirts which would’ve made our photos even more ultimate.   Anyone think it may be the sport for them?

Check it out at BATL.