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!

Get Ready to Wiggle!

CANADA!

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)

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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.

 

EATS REVIEW: Figures

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!  🙂
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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!

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?

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Pick: AquaMermaid

Have you ever watched The Little Mermaid and wondered what it was like to be so free, so swift, and beautiful under the water?  My eldest daughter certainly has and she had the wonderful experience of being Ariel (at least for the hour) at Aquamermaid in downtown Toronto.  She enjoyed her trial swim class and the time seemed to fly, er, swim by.  The class was held at University Settlement Recreation Centre (near the Art Gallery of Ontario).

Leah, an instructor, for almost two years, said that a great part of the experience was taking her favourite swim move, the butterfly stroke, and extending it to the dolphin swim.  She enjoys teaching the kids because it’s a fun experience that puts everyone on an equal playing field.  Everyone (boys and men too) can put on a mermaid tail and experience the freedom of swimming in the open water.  They have a merman instructor too and birthday parties are open to everyone.  They’ve had boys and girls for parties and everyone’s had a good time.  Certainly, the photo ops are awesome!

They started with an introduction and created a mermaid name.  After choosing their new monikers, they wiggled into their mermaid tails (made of stretch fabric that goes up to the waist and beyond) and learned some basics of mermaid movements.  For people with tiny feet, thick socks or swim shoes are recommended.  The main requirement is to swim independently for 25 metres, but Leah made an exception for my daughter and she wore a life jacket for the experience.  She had a blast!  From diving underwater to gathering colourful rings tossed into the pool to using a pool noodle to propel forward to swimming through a hoop, the girls couldn’t stop smiling.  Not only is the activity fun, it looks like a great cardio workout.  I felt tired just watching them go.

Not only is it a novel idea, the physical benefits are enormous.  Since the legs are bound together, it keeps the swimmer in good form for a dolphin kick.  This move is apparently incredible for the abs so I can see why grown women are into this new hobby.  I saw another little girl (who is a very advance swimmer) swim the length of the pool back and forth and it certainly was enchanting.  I was mesmerized by how fluently she swam.  There was also a party in session and the girls played games while a mom also joined in the fun.

While we were wrapping up, a group of young ladies came to wait on the bench.  They were clearly there for a bachelorette party.  What a fun idea!  It reminded me of Ariel and her sisters (yes, I’m a Disney fanatic).  They looked super excited for their swim and I couldn’t blame them (totally made me want to take swim lessons.  Am I missing out?)!  Glistening tail, fun games, and a solid cardio workout?  Somebody grab me a tail, stat!

If you are interested and want to dive right in (see what I did there), please check out their website at here and book your free trial.