Review of Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia

This is our first family experience at a resort so here is the breakdown. I can’t help comparing our trip to that of a cruise because that is mostly what I am familiar with (I’ve done a Cuban resort once in 2005 and a Barbados girls’ trip in 2017) and all the kids know.

Food:

Buffet 5/10. The good stuff for breakfast included croissants, crispy bacon, and fresh fruits such as papaya, pineapple, and passionfruit. I usually do smoked salmon and grapefruit for breakfast, but the fish colour didn’t look as bright as I’d like so I didn’t risk it. The only day I did was last day for lunch because the colour and texture looked okay.

Lunch was good for fried chicken and nuggets. As good as their fried items are, their fries, onion rings, and calamari weren’t crispy (either soggy or overdone). I enjoyed their broccoli, cabbage, and eggplant for veggie selection, but didn’t see appealing premade salads. I made my own with a variety of toppings from the antipasto section as well as chopped items (peppers and red onions) meant for soups. The girls liked their pasta and cream cheese sushi a lot! My husband had no issues filling up his plate and often enjoy the fried chicken and goat.

Restaurants: 8/10. I really enjoyed le Gourmet which reminded me of a cruise dining room. They had delicious choices such as beef fillet, lobster and crab salad, and fresh rolls. The girls really loved Maiko, the Japanese tepanyaki place. Their salmon and beef were amazingly well done and the show was great. I emailed the resort about a month ahead of time to book restaurants even though you’re supposed to sign up when you get here. I went with the “it can’t hurt to ask” and it paid off big-time! Hip Teacher Dad loved Santa Fe Tex Mex and I have to say that was extremely yummy as well.

Drinks:

8/10. Girls loved their Banana Mamas, Pina Coladas, and lemonades. They even enjoyed the orange juice (I couldn’t handle the uneasy colour so I drank bottled water all the time). They made great mojitos though! Hip Teacher Dada enjoyed the beer and making his morning mimosas. I had about four espressos and cappucinos a day (don’t judge) and they were divine. The bar by the stage also made amazing hot chocolates! Great bartenders there!

Room:

8/10 for the cleanliness and spaciousness. It had a lot of closet space and drawers. The bathroom had a double sink, huge soaker tub, and separate shower stall, and toilet area. However, the toilet gave us issues (it ran loudly for the first night and after it got “fixed” it plugged up. When we got it fixed a second time, the top tank overflowed and the plumber fixed it fast, but the lady came 30 minutes later with a mop to clean up the overflow (with me in the halqay ready to pounce at any employee who could help). We just wanted to shower and use the toilet so 30 minutes was a LONG time. I had to walk Hannah to the bathroom in the lobby in the meanwhile.)

Location of the room was AWESOME. We were about 1 minute from the buffet and a couple of restaurants. We were about 5 minutes from the pool and waterpark. The view from our balcony was great and we could see the castle light show nightly. It also had a built-in drying rack for bathing suits. Practical.

They gave us ONE shampoo and conditioner for us despite me calling concierge daily ablut us being a five person room. SO odd. On the last day, they gave us four. What was cute were the little packs they gave for kids which included shampoo, liquid soap, and cologne. Maybe they thought there was conditioner in there? The girls liked the sponge it came with and the clear pouches make for great pencil cases. (We took those home.) They liked the little slippers and robes in the room. They felt like they were in a spa.

TV:

8/10 for we managed to watch some Raptors games and Food Network. We the North. They had a good selection of channels for movies, sports, news, and entertainment. They even had several Mandarin stations (which would impress me more if I spoke it). We saw some Simpsons episodes and Fast and the Furious 3. Most importantly, NBA TV ran here and that was like home. On the last night, I found a showing of The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary and Hip Teacher Dada was so excited!

Pool:

9/10 for the sheer size of it and how pretty it was. It had a large shallow area for Baby C and me! Big H swam all over the deeper end and we could even toss a ball around. The large shallow end meant that Baby C could sit in her new alligator floatie (purchased in the store lobby for a mere $9 versus the $ for the kiosk by the pool) while we chilled nearby. Middle A ventured out a bit and practiced some swim skills. They had lifeguards, BUT no lifejackets anywhere. Very odd considering this is a place kid focused.

They brought out a huge bouncy slide on Friday which kids (not mine) loved! There was a lot of aerobic exercises to follow. More music would’ve been great though! At times, it felt a bit too quiet.

Waterpark:

10/10. Many slides, but enough chairs for us to see the kids. It is close to bathrooms (which have been clean every single time) and a snack bar. The snack bar had a delicious croissant hot dog, fruit bowls, and yogurt. They had non-alcoholic drinks at the ready. They had two lifeguards manning the slides and one was always diligent about kids running or using the slides inappropriately.

Beach:

8/10 for the fine sand and the easy 10-minute walk from the room. There was a guy constantly raking up the seaweed. The days we went to the beach was windy so we didn’t stay in the water for long though the second visit was much more pleasant because of the burning sun. The girls loved making sandcastles and burying my feet. Drinks were close by and easily accessible. There were lounge chairs available, but we just planted ourselves on some towels and laid out.

Shows:

3/10. If you have been on a cruise, you need to pretend that your kid is in each production so that you will sit through it and watch it all. Not joking. The Michael Jackson tribute was good, but The Lion King Show was pretty basic and my girls couldn’t stop laughing. They have seen Grease and Hairspray on cruises. They have seen Into the Woods live and soon will experience The Wizard of Oz. They appreciate live theatre so these productions were a bit amateur for them, but Baby C enjoyed them. I just enjoyed the vicinity of the bar and their amazing cappuccinos (yes, I had to repeat myself).

Half of their shows had random kids from the kids’ clubs so it really was about audience participation. Our kids are shy so they didn’t volunteer. They got dragged up to the stage for the Michael Jackson “Heal The World” song and that was enough for them.

Weather:

8/10 because it is simply up to Mother Nature. The first couple of days were overcast and breezy and I was bummed hoping it would improve. We finally got some sun and hence, my tanned raccoon eyes. I don’t mind because I got some colour (bye Ghost Face). The heat was not overpowering, but the sun clearly did its job. The girls look like they’ve gone ten shades darker.

Staff:

6/10 because cruise service is unlike any other. I can say this with 14 cruises under my belt (H and A have each experienced 3 Disney and 3 Royal Caribbean). The room stewards are quiet where here, they called to each other sometimes during nap times (3 to 6pm). They literally would shout from hallway to room. Some staff here would be friendly and say “Hola” as you walk by while others looked like they didn’t want to be here. Cruise service is very different. Always a smile and they look like they enjoy their jobs. Plus, they great the girls with “Hey Princess” which the girls won’t admit, but secretly love.

When my travel agent told me to complain to the front desk about our service, I didn’t get much in terms of reply or compensation. Luckily, I felt validated because some ladies on the Facebook site seemed to have the same complaints. Join the Luxury Bahia site for details.

Through my IG stories and personal IG page, I’ve had questions already so here is my answer.

YES, I would come again, but I would book the restos ahead again and remember the service cannot compare to a cruise. The pool is amazing though so that’s my focus. It was great to have some family time with just us five. No particular wake-up time or activity to attend. I really just chilled. Hopefully we can do another winter getaway in a few years. I miss the sand already.

Overall Grade: A-

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World Teachers’ Day

thank you cork

Let’s take a moment to recognize the wonderful teachers in your lives or your kids’ lives. Over 100 countries celebrate teachers on October 5, recognizing their dedication and appreciating their hard work everyday. I am extremely lucky to work with such a dedicated staff at my school and I can tell that they are simply amazing by the number of clubs and activities we have at our school. They work endless hours to prepare lessons and to make their classrooms warm and attractive. We have so many conversations about our students at lunch because we care. We want to help so much that we seek each other out for advice. We worry about our students even when the clock rings at 3:30 p.m. We see students not only as our job, but “our children.”

As a teacher and a parent, I would like to say:

THANK YOU for:

  • planning interesting lessons for my child
  • giving my child confidence
  • creating fun lessons to make math fun
  • making each day educational and memorable
  • reminding my child to use manners regularly
  • insisting that deadlines be met
  • helping plan out a study schedule
  • organizing messy desks
  • cleaning up after my child’s juice and snacks
  • encouraging them to try problem solving again
  • inspiring them to use a variety of words
  • recognizing that my child has many talents
  • instilling good values in my child
  • suggesting my child make friends with everyone in class
  • giving a smile when my child has had a rough day
  • letting my child make mistakes from which to learn
  • joking around with my child
  • allowing my child to feel safe in your class
  • pushing my child to his or her limits
  • telling my child to reach for the stars
  • understanding that children need a leader outside the home
  • being there for my child

Teachers do these things and so much more. On World Teachers’ Day, take a moment to reflect on your child and the teachers that have been in their lives and yours. Be blessed that your children have someone watching out for them when you cannot. Thank you, teachers!

P.S. I couldn’t get to photograph most of the teachers, E.A.s, and E.C.E.s at school because everyone is busy (or shy), but this post certainly includes current staff, past staff (special shout out to SVP), and all teachers out there! Level 4+!

AWARDS: Given or Earned?

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We had an interesting discussion during our last P.A. Day about faith. It lead to chatter about relationships between home, school, and parish. We ended up talking about the monthly Virtue Certificates that we give out at our school. Some teachers believe in giving one a month so ideally half or a third of the class receive one. Others thought to give one to everyone in their class because otherwise some kids may never receive anything in elementary school. Wow! Never thought virtues could get so debatable, but the discussion got me thinking.

I really see both sides of the story. I know that for me, picking one student a month is ideal. Sometimes, I have students that win twice in a year because they simply deserve it. At my old school, we had to choose someone for something. That was when I taught primary so I know where that mentality came from. At times choosing a “winner” was really hard. Sometimes, the child doesn’t show a virtue, but I had to figure out a way to give them something and it was usually perseverance. (Hip Teacher Dada said there was one kid a couple years ago who should’ve won every single month because he was just that kind of kid, but he thought he had to spread the wealth.)

Now I understand why teachers want to give someone an award just so they will have something. However, doesn’t that diminish the ones who truly deserve it by earning it? My own older girls have won every year they have been at school. Usually it is for Justice and Wisdom, but they have questioned why kids who don’t necessarily demonstrate a virtue get one anyway. (They are super observant.) Doesn’t that take away from them? It becomes more like a participation ribbon where everyone gets something rather than having tried and earned it. What does that teach them about real life? Doesn’t the adult who performs better get the promotion? Isn’t the person who did the better design win the contest?

I understand the need for achievements and recognition. In my class, we have a Shout Out Jar. Every Friday, we give recognition and compliments to those who have done something good. It is a way to say thanks and appreciation in coordination with our Tribes tenets. We also do Virtue Scrapbooks monthly where kids have to define the virtue and provide three pieces of evidence that they have made an effort to show that virtue. They can get notes and letters of support from their parents, coaches, etc. They actually take the time to show they have made a conscious effort into exhibiting that virtue. At the end of the year, I give my kids a letter with their gift and everyone gets an award. My own awards aren’t on a school level, but more lighthearted (Best Sense of Humour, Best Anime Artist, Best Dancer, etc.). However, I do show that I recognize their talents, personality, and abilities. It is more personal and catered to my audience and it gives them something they have earned. After all, who can say they were the Best Desk in my class unless they truly earned it?

For me, I am not comfortable giving an award to everyone “just because.” Kids are smarter than you think and to give out awards just to give out awards makes the winner feel bad when they realize it and the truer winners feel bad too. Where’s the “win” there? At our school, I say just let teachers do their own thing. If you want to give out one, give out one. If your philosophy is for all kids to get something then do it. The point is to encourage understanding and demonstrating the virtue for the month. No one can be wrong for that.

NB: Since writing this article, Baby C has won the COURAGE award for September. However, she cried everyday at dropoff except for two days (first day and a random day in between). Courage for just showing up perhaps?

GIVEAWAY: KIDAPALOOZA 2018

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     Fall events are coming at ya from every direction and this is one aimed for the kiddies!

     Take a break from Thanksgiving preparations to celebrate with the little ones by checking out this yearly event. Check out http://www.kidapalooza.ca and use the promo code FALLFUN for 20% off tickets.

       Kidapalooza is taking place October 6 to 8 with INDOOR and OUTDOOR events at the Markham Fairgrounds. Featured are Kidapalooza’s signature inflatables, mechanical rides, stage shows, a video gaming RV, rock climbing, pumpkin patch, special guest appearances, and so much more!  You will also be able to shop local and artisan vendors along with all of the fall festival fun! SPECIAL GUESTS this year will be the OFFICIAL PJ MASKS characters from 12pm to 4pm daily.

       To win a Family Pass (2 adults and 2 children), please like this post and share on Facebook or Instagram and tag 3 friends.  If you don’t follow Hip Teacher Mama on FB or IG, email me at hipteachermama@gmail.com.  Good luck!  Contest ends September 29, 2018.

 


GIVEAWAY: Markham Fair 2018

markham fair rides

‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice and all fair things nice! We are looking forward to a warm autumn so what better way to ring in the season than with an awesome outdoor event like the Markham Fair?

Hip Teacher Mama is proud to present another giveaway for a Family Pass for 2 adults and up to 3 children for this year’s special event taking place September 27 to 30 at the Markham Fairgrounds.

Four action-packed days are coming up that will have your children excited about their community! Nick Jr. Paw Patrol’s Chase and Marshall will be at the Fair on Sunday. Horse lovers will enjoy the Ram Rodeo featured on the track on Saturday and Sunday. Be prepared to be amazed by the Heavy Horse Pull of 6-Horse Hitch who will entertain the young and old with grace and precision.

All ages will be in awe of the largest Outdoor Monster Truck Madness with Freestyle Motocross FMX. Cars will be crushed, bikes will flip around, and pure excitement will be abuzz on Sunday night! There will always be great family entertainment such as the comedic juggling of Craig Douglas, the Great Canadian Fiddle Show, the Wonderful World of Circus, and the daily walk-around entertainment of Doug the Great, Silver Elvin, Trulee Odd Show, Hitmen Drumline, and Kobbler Jay.

On Friday night, the Fair will proudly feature the President Choice’s Superdogs show at 4pm, 6pm, and 8pm. There are nightly fireworks also to look forward too! There will also be free face painting on Saturday and Sunday afternoon by the talented Picasso! The kiddies will love Old MacDonald’s Barn and check out all sorts of baby animals.

markham fair grounds

Check out Markham Fair to plan your day! To purchase tickets, please click here.

Celebrating 174 years this year so take advantage of savings up to $5 off Adult Admission. Available until Sept. 26th!

Use $5 Off Weekday WDHMMF18 at Checkout or Use $2 Off Weekend WEHMMF18

To enter the giveaway:

A) LIKE Hip Teacher Mama on Instagram or Facebook.

B) SHARE this post.

C) TAG 2 friends who would enjoy this fall tradition. The more people you tag, the more entries you get! (You get one entry for every 2 friends you tag.)

You can enter through Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, or via email at hipteachermama@gmail.com. Make sure you are reachable through private message or email so that I can contact you if you win!

Contest ends on September 25 at 8:00 p.m. Good luck!

markham fair

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!

One More Month

keep calm school is over

          This time of year, it never fails. I sit back during E.Q.A.O. and think about the time I’ve had with my current class. Nine months have flown by so quickly and it’s partly because it’s been fun (nonsensical chats about YouTube videos or movies we’ve seen), but also because it’s been busy. We essentially have to cram all the math units ahead of everyone else because those skills will likely be tested. We were reviewing last week for the provincial tests we have here in Ontario. In elementary school, the Grade 3’s and 6’s feel that E.Q.A.O. (Education Quality and Accountability Office) actually stands for Evil Questions Attacking Ontario. I can’t say they are completely wrong. As much as I hope they’ve learned their equations for surface area and volume, I also hope they walk away with more.

         I hope they’ve learned that their first impression on someone matters and they hold their actions accountable. People see them at the park, mall, or classroom, and it’s natural for them to be judged. I always want a supply teacher to leave me a note about how patient or kind my class is. I want them to remember to always be respectful and polite because “please” and “thank you” go a long way. I’ll always remember the kids in here who remember to say those words each time I handed out a sheet or passed them a book (Students #21, #23, and #25, that’s YOU!) As important as writing proper sentences are, I believe that watching what you say and how to speak to others is just as vital. Will my kids remember that our custodians contribute to the school like secretaries do? Will they recognize that Educational Assistants give their all like their homeroom teachers do? Do they see these adults in the school as all loving their jobs and being committed 100%? Do they appreciate us? I hope so.

          Although I have put a huge emphasis on academics this year (“aim for Level 4” and “try your best”), it is never far from my lips that I tell them “be mindful” and “think of others first.” Being a great student is wonderful, but being an awesome human being is a life skill. Who you are is shaped by your family, friends, and environment, and I would want students to remember that having integrity and kindness is not a Grade 6 thing. I think it’s forever. (I know they also enjoy it when I tell them to “use common sense” and “you can just eyeball it.” 😛 That’s you, #4 and #9!)

          It’s been a good year. This class is full of great kids. I’ve been telling everyone that the year has been good partly because I haven’t had to spend too much time solving social problems. Less drama this year so I can focus on teaching. I’m grateful for this class and the memories we made. No doubt there will be tears on the last day (my former students know this and some tease me while others just cry along), but really, it’s because they have truly become “my kids.” I hope they know we only have 24 more school days together and I look forward to each and every one!

CONTEST: Shopkins Live!

      Shopkins Live! is finally here! The #1 kids toy in North America is live and on stage in Shopkins Live! Shop It Up!  Your beloved Shoppies make their theatrical debut in an original new live show featuring musical performances by Jessicake, Bubbleisha, PeppaMint, Rainbow Kate, Cocolette, Polli Polish and more! The fun and fashionista Shoppies are joined by the Shopkins the grocery store, themed mini collectible toys Apple Blossom, Strawberry Kiss, Lippy Lips, Kooky Cookie, Poppy Corn, Slick Breadstick and Shady Diva. An ensemble cast of multi-talented performers brings the show to life on stage through song and dance.

     All of Shopville is in a tizz as preparations get underway for the annual “Funtastic Food and Fashion Fair”. Shady Diva showcases her latest fashion designs; Lippy Lips gives colorful advice at the nail salon; Kooky Cookie tries to get in a beauty nap! But wait — no event is complete without a few hiccups! Who has high-jinxed the fashion pageant? Where is the super-secret celebrity guest? Will Slick Breadstick ever find a dance partner? The Shopkins and Shoppies need your help for the show must go on!

     Shopkins Live!  immerses audiences in the world of Shopville using custom-designed theatrical costumes, creative onstage characters, state of the art video and set design, and original pop songs and music! Grab your besties and check out Shopkins Live! Shop It Up!

shopkins4

      To win a set of 4 family tickets for the Saturday, April 28 show at 1:00pm from Hip Teacher Mama, please enter the contest April 13-21 on WordPress, Facebook, or Instagram.  Simply tell us:

  1. the name of your favourite Shopkin
  2. tag two friends

      Please make sure that you can be contacted by direct message for notification or check the site on April 22 for the video of the draw!

       For more tickets, please visit: Shopkins Live!  Shows are on April 25 and April 28, 2018.

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!  🙂