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.

INTERVIEW WITH Sarah Hicks: TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA GUEST CONDUCTOR

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Sarah Hicks, the conductor for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Disney’s Ratatouille, was gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions for me about music, the industry, and kids and music.  Here is what unfolded.

HTM: Welcome to Toronto!  You picked a great time to make your debut as Winterlicious (annual food event in Toronto where popular and high-end restaurants have special lunch and dinner prix fixe menus) just wrapped up.   Is cooking something you enjoy?

SH: I loooove to cook.  I grew up with a mom who went to cooking school in her youth so I picked up a lot of pointers growing up.  I love the tactile and meditative qualities of chopping and mixing and sauteing.  And, of course, eating is fun too.

HTM: How did you choose Ratatouille as your next performance?

SH: Conductors don’t necessarily get to choose what they’re going to do – at least I don’t as I’m booked all around the world to conduct various films as orchestras want to perform them.

HTM: That’s amazing!  Did the movie that appeal because of the food aspect?

SH: Pixar stuff is so genius.  And Michael Giacchino writes the most charming scores!  Have you seen UP?  That’s his music too.

(*I have seen UP and some scenes were particularly difficult to watch due to past health reasons).

HTM:  You trained at Harvard and have spent many years travelling around the U.S. and being a part of different orchestras. You’ve also worked in Korea and overseas.  Is there a particular city you’ve enjoyed the most and can you tell me a bit about it?

SH: It’s too hard to choose a single favorite, but I’ve most recently really enjoyed working in Prague with the Czech National Orchestra on a Frank Zappa project.  They’re a great group, the music was really out of the box, and being in that beautiful city is always so special.  (I lived there in the 90’s for a year, so that’s part of it too).  Film side note:  did you know that “Amadeus” was filmed there?

HTM: I’ve watched Amadeus numerous times as a child.  Some scenes were just embarrassing to watch with my family, but it’s a great movie.  (Ha ha.)  I’ve read that you started out with piano, but due to health reasons, you turned to conducting.  Your dad told you to “stop crying” and “you can still hold a stick.”   How did you manage to accept that harsh reality and turn that into a positive?

SH: I think kids are more resilient than we think – certainly looking back at my 17 year old self I give myself credit for being able to bounce back from disappointment, but I also think of it as accepting a new challenge;  I’m always looking for things to master or conquer or kick butt at, so I think that had a lot to do with it.

HTM: Perseverance is a virtue I always try to instill in my students and yours is a real-life example.  I’m not sure how the conducting world works.   Tryouts?   Have you ever missed out on the job you wanted?  What did you say to yourself to bounce back on your feet?

SH: Conducting is a tough profession.  In my early days, I certainly went to tons of auditions (there can be a hundred candidates for a single spot).  It’s challenging from a practical standpoint because if you think about it, an orchestra may have 100 musicians in it, but there is only a single conductor.  So jobs are pretty scarce.  I’ve certainly not gotten jobs I wanted.  And often you have little choice in where you end up living because you need to go where the gig is.  Very few conductors make their living simply conducting – many also teach or play or have non-performing jobs as well.  I feel lucky to be doing this full-time.  As for getting back on my feet after a disappointment, I remind myself “this is the life I chose.”  It ain’t easy, but the rewards for me are worth the disappointments and rejections.

HTM:  That’s a wonderful attitude to take.  You’ve been great at merging pop and classical in the past working with artists such as Sting. You present yourself as not only as a strong conductor, but I feel someone who is very comfortable in her own skin, a bit of a rock star.  Are women growing in this industry as conductors and not just musicians?

SH: Absolutely.  There’s a ton of young female talent out there, so different from even a generation ago.

HTMHow have you been treated as a female conductor? 

SH: Musicians generally don’t care what you are as long as you know what you’re doing, but I have gotten a lot of comments on what I wear (sleeveless tops) and my hair (I don’t put it up, ponytails give me headaches and I like it long and down).  I don’t think men would garner the same sort of attention for their appearance.

HTM:   I can totally see that.  Have you faced any challenges in the profession in general?

SH: I think men and women have different approaches to leadership.  Not to generalize too much, but men can get away with being a bit more authoritarian – if a woman behaved in the same way she risks the backlash of being called “difficult” or worse (b**** comes to mind).  I tend to lead more by persuasion and consensus and with the understanding that everyone has their own individual responsibility and my job is to create a cohesive vision out of it.  It’s a slight different approach than some are accustomed to, but generally people start to understand my groove pretty quickly when I’m working with them.

HTM:  I understand.  It’s still different how men and women are viewed in a leadership role.  Now what do you think about technology?  It is everywhere now.  At school, I came back from maternity leave to a school with whiteboards instead of blackboards, iPads and Airplay instead of overheads and transparencies.  What’s your take on technology and music these days?  Does it take away from the basics of sound or enhances them?   Do you like incorporating technology when you compose?  Does the TSO use it?

SH: That’s an interesting one.  I think of technology and music, from a performing standpoint, as incorporating things like film and amplification.  I think there’s a place for everything.  I’ve even done a piece with a live DJ onstage, which was totally fun.  I don’t really compose anymore.

HTM: That’s too bad.   Finally, my students are really into music.  They are usually into Top 40.  If I could introduce a few symphonies to them, what would you recommend?  Do you have a favourite composer?

SH: In terms of accessible music I think of pieces like Ravel’s Bolero, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and The Triumphal March from Verdi’s opera, Aida.  My favorite composer changes a lot, depending on mood.  I love Chopin and Mahler and Bartok and Mozart for different reasons at different times, but nothing cleanses the mind and soul like Bach!

Thanks very much to Sarah for taking the time out of her extremely busy schedule to answer my questions about music and the industry.  Wishing her well in the future and certainly, an open invite to pop into my classroom whenever she’s in town!

Please check out the Toronto Symphony Orchestra here.

EDITOR’S PICK: Toronto Symphony Orchestra Disney’s Ratatouille

    We attended the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Disney’s Ratatouille about a month ago. We arrived about thirty minutes early and had a chance to explore the beautiful venue.  My older girls have never been to Roy Thomson Hall before.  They loved the large circular layout and the high ceilings.  They were excited to see the snack venues as well as the baby grand piano in the foyer.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunny walk as we parked at the Eaton Centre so we were doubly excited for the performance because the sun just brightens up our moods!

      The doors opened late and a few of the kids outside were getting a little antsy.  Luckily, popcorn and snacks were abundant and subdued most of them.  It was adorable seeing some young attendees all dolled up for the big show.  The buzz was in the air and I overheard a couple of the kids oohing and aahing over the seats as we entered.  It was adorable to witness!

    The orchestra was introduced as well as the guest conductor, Sarah Hicks. This was her Toronto debut as she has worked all over the world from the U.S. to Japan.  As prominent as RTH is, once inside, everything seemed even more grand and yet intimate.  We had seats near the back and yet our view was still amazing.  (I had a scheduled interview with Sarah, but due to time zones and her busy schedule, we were only able to touch base via text.  Once she has a chance to answer my interview via email, I will write another post.)

     Once the movie began, it was enchanting.  I almost didn’t realize the frequency of sound in a movie like Ratatouille until I noticed and anticipated when the musicians picked up their instruments.  I braced for the bravado of the music, the strings of the violins, and the staccato of the notes.  We LOVED every moment of it and soon it was intermission.  I spent quite a bit of time watching the musicians too because it was just amazing to see their passion come through their instruments.  Without them, the silence of the movie certainly wouldn’t have moved me as much as it did.  The music touches all emotions (yes, I cried) and stirs up memories.  It was a great flick for foodies and aspiring cooks alike (my girls love food and cooking and constantly obsess over the latest food competition shows).  Seeing it come alive, however, is a whole new experience!

    Ratatouille is the story about a little rat named Remy who is a connoisseur of French cuisine.  It’s not enough for him to be satisfied (much like his brothers are) with a piece of stale bread and moldy cheese.  He will create scrumptious dishes based on the remnants he finds from various trash bins around Paris.  Lucky for Remy, his circumstances and his new friend, Alfredo Linguini, land them both in the finest restaurant in the city.  With a mean head chef and a female mentor in Colette, these Remy and Alfredo find their way through many food adventures including trying to win over the city’s most feared food critic.

  Disney movies have always been magical to me, but this live performance at Roy Thomson Hall was beyond compare!  It certainly was an experience for my family and I encourage you to check it out next time a Disney movie is shown this way.  After the movie, we headed back uptown to host get together, but if we did not have plans, we would certainly have sought out the nearest bistro.  It was a beautiful sunny day and what better way to enjoy it than with some ratatouille.

EDITOR’S PICK: FUNKY MONKEY PHOTOGRAPHY

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*This post was ready to go soon after the November shoot, but I wanted to wait for the photographer to get his website up and ready before promoting how awesome he is.  The husband and wife team have spring props coming in the next couple of weeks so book an Easter session while you can!

It’s been a few years since our last family photo shoot (we weren’t a family of five then) so when the opportunity popped up on Facebook, I knew it had to be.   Being in Markham and just ten minutes away, I knew that was just another sign that it was time.  It was the best hunch ever!

We arranged an evening appointment last fall and headed out to meet with the photographer and his wife.  Jenn and I had been in Facebook contact from the start and she is AMAZING at responding to questions and concerns quickly. For myself, instant replies are important and Jenn is all over her messages so that was already a step in the right direction.  She also warned us about their two big dogs and was happy to put them in the backyard when I said that my little girls wouldn’t be too thrilled.  They like dogs, but not ones bigger than themselves.  Jenn was happy to accommodate.

James was still setting up when we arrived so we headed downstairs first.  They had just come back from a cottage photoshoot (yes, they will travel).  There were so many amazing props! As Christmas is our favourite holiday, Hip Teacher Dada and I couldn’t help but oooh and ahh over their collection.  Since acquiring pieces from various Winners (some as far as Hamilton) and garage sales, James was excited to show off his stash during the shoot.  I’m sure we didn’t even get through half their holiday props, but it was Baby C’s bedtime.

James was very easy going and gave us directions for poses. Mostly, he spent his time coaxing Baby C into giving him some smiles to work with. It’s hard for her to just smile (she doesn’t even do it for us when she’s not in the mood and this was just an hour before bedtime) especially since she was in new environment and with a complete stranger.  Big H and Middle A are quite comfortable in front of the camera so that part was easy.  James was patient and broke out all the knick-knacks for C including the sled and fluffy snowballs.

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His backdrops are amazing. We only used two, but there are about ten holiday backdrops including forest, holiday lights, snow, wooden door, etc.  James has tons of props including a sleigh, mailboxes, giant ornaments, and fake snowballs.  His instructions were easy to follow and the kids complied quickly.  They also have new backdrops for Valentine’s Day and Easter if that should interest you.

We were thrilled at the results.  Frankly, we were surprised that Baby C looked at the camera and even gave some smiles.  We weren’t sure how she was doing as the evening went on.  I highly recommend a photoshoot with James for you and your family.  Jenn is a dream to work with and the turn around time took just a week.  The edited pictures are amazing (please let me know what you think) and I am eager to use them all over our home.

To be honest, kids grow up way too fast these days.  If you are able to get family portraits for Christmas (or any occasion), do it. It’s memories that will last forever and you can’t beat the experience.  I’m so happy these pictures turned out the way they did.  It’ll be Christmas all year long in our household.

Check out http://www.funkymonkeyphotography.ca or contact them on Facebook.  SMILE!