Written by: Lindsay Bantis, Mommy Connections Blogger and founder of www.StellaEvvAfter.com
York Region families, this one’s for you!
One of the cutest small towns in York Region is about to have the largest Strawberry Festival in all of Ontario! Every year, for over 30 years Whitchurch-Stouffville has played host to tens of thousands of visitors, as people from all over Ontario flood the streets, sidewalks and parks to celebrate the annual Whitchurch-Stouffville Strawberry Festival- also, the largest FREE admission festival in York Region.
Did you know that York Region is surrounded by some of the provinces most bountiful farmlands and they produce some of the world’s finest strawberries. Here is a quick list of my favorites berry patches, each of them is located in the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville or just minutes away.
Ok, back to the Strawberry Festival. This annual festival is run by a small but mighty group of local volunteers that work tirelessly, year round to put on this FREE (yes you heard it – FREE entrance and parking) event each year. CLICK HERE to see this years full schedule of Festival Events.
From Pancake Breakfasts and one of a kind artisans,to this years newest event, The Totally Toddler Show, Strawberry Festival has entertainment for all members of your family. Each year the festival seeks private sponsorship to put together a funfilled FREE kids zone – where your child (with some help) can build a free bird house, watch the latest children entertainer, interact with clowns, take part in competitions or simply slide down one of the inflatables provided by the festival. This kid zone is truly an amazing must attend event at the festival.
The annual Strawberry Festival also attracts one-of-a-kind artisans, craft vendors and foodies from across Ontario, all to take advantage of the crowds that line the streets looking for a unique gift, good bargain or delicious treat. Having attended the festival since I was ‘knee high to a grasshopper’ I can assure you, you will not be disappointed in the selections, bring your cash!
In my opinion, the best kept secret of this small town festival is that every year it is scheduled to include July the 1st, Canada Day, which means FIREWORKS! Whitchurch-Stouffville is blessed to have their very own local resident, Marie, whose company, Pyro-Mario Fireworks, puts on a vibrant display of colours that light up the skies of Whitchurch-Stouffville every long weekend. I promise, you will not be disappointed, this firework display rivals those of Downtown Toronto – and no traffic!
Check out the schedule of events, there is something for everyone.
If you attend, drop us a line, let us all know what you think
HAVE A HAPPY CANADA DAY!
Written by: Lindsay Bantis, Blogger
Here is a short and sweet reminder for all of us navigating the parenting world.
When we were on vacation this winter we met this wonderful couple. Their boys were full grown one was going into law enforcement and the other a firefighter. They enjoyed watching us with the girls and even got in some play time. I remember at one point or another both of them had said to Angelo and I “they are only this young for a short time, enjoy it, these will be the best years of your lives” . . . I remember laughing and rolling my eyes.
In that moment it was hard to see it, but the other night I stood in the kitchen cooking dinner, watching my husband chase Stella and Evva around the island trying to soak up all those giggles before bedtime that I realized it’s true.
Sometimes amongst the sleepless nights (Evva still gets up multiple times at night) and the endless piles of laundry, and the cooking of dinners- we forget that these are the moments that we need to enjoy and savour. The laundry and the dishes can wait until we read a book or sing a song together, these are the moments in 30 years we will look back and cherish. So chase them around the island one more time, sing “row row your boat” (don’t forget the verse with the crocodile) and just soak it up Mama’s because it doesn’t last forever.
Sleep is definitely a luxury when it comes to being a new mom and whenever you can get it, you should try to take advantage!
One key to YOU getting a little bit of much needed shut eye, is encouraging your baby to have a healthy relationship with sleep. The key is to make the bedtime routine an enjoyable experience for you and your little one, but how do we put it into practice?
Emma Dickey-Hendrie, a local Certified Sleep Sense consultant, has given us a few helpful tips you can use right now, no matter what the age, to get your baby to sleep better! Contact Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t know about you but getting back into the swing of things after the holiday season has been extremely challenging. I tried to enjoy some time off but having the kids home and so many things going on over the Christmas break, it was nice to just have some downtime on the days where we had nothing planned. But then when it was time to get crackin’ and back into work mode, it was so hard to do. I realized that I have no problem just doing nothing when given the chance!
The last couple weeks though with the onset of the new year’s resolutions I never keep, I was trying to keep my house a bit more organized, which started with putting away and finding a home for the toys from the Christmas aftermath, and purging my sons things. In this exercise of attempting to clean and organize, I discovered the new viral craze, the Marie Kondo “Tidy Up” phenomenon, which for me and many, has become a bit of an obsession.
I know I’m likely really late to the game on this as let’s face it, most days I feel like an ostrich with my head in the sand. But I’m sure many of you have seen the show or at least heard of KonMari, a lifestyle brand inspiring people to choose joy and complete their tidying adventures, founded by a cute little Japanese lady named Marie Kondo. (which I’m sure is only her English name). She is kind of like a robotic like Japanese Martha Stewart but for de-cluttering, not cooking and decorating. This lady is fascinating yet somewhat irritating all at the same time because it boggles my mind how anyone can be this “perfect” and teach something so simple that has now become this massive worldwide sensation! Her method basically teaches that you should be tidying by category, not room by room. So start with clothes, then books, papers, kimono (household miscellaneous items like bathroom, kitchen, office), then lastly sentimental items. The idea is to keep only the things that speak to the heart, take the items that don’t spark joy, thank for their service and let them go. Simple as that – sounds simple right? I had to try it for myself as I wasn’t convinced.
I have two young sons and a hubby who definitely are not neat people and it challenged me to see if this KonMari method would work for our household and be sustainable over time. I started with my own drawers and closets, and the linen closet which have always been like opening a Pillsbury croissant can ready to explode. I must say that this KonMari method has got under my skin in a good way and I have done several areas of my home already. In fact, now I have incorporated the term Marie Kondo into my vocab on a daily basis and it is my new favourite verb. I find myself saying things like, “Oh, I need to Marie Kondo that” or “This cupboard needs some serious Kondo’ing”. Who knew I had so many pairs of socks and underwear that I never ever have worn, forgot I had, or never will wear for one reason or another. I think I got rid of at least 50 pairs and still have a whole drawer full that I wear! It’s seriously surprising how much stuff I have accumulated and up until now it never really bothered me. I guess I have Marie Kondo to thank for this newfound realization!
Using the idea of holding an item and deciding whether it “sparks joy” is kind of weird to me and at first was very tedious but once you get going, it’s very easy to determine which items you really love, ones that spark joy, and which ones are not really worth keeping around. Of course there is the “what’s useful” that comes into play as well, and those get kept IF they’ve been used within the last few months, otherwise it’s pitched.
Using this simple method allowed me to get rid of 3 huge garbage bags (so far) of stuff I don’t use, don’t need, don’t like or is too old and worn out to keep. It’s very liberating! I’ll be moving on to my pantry and kitchen cupboards soon which will be quite the project. Since winter hibernation has set in, if you’re going a little stir crazy and want to start clearing your home, mind and spirit, I recommend you give it a go and see how you enjoy the process! Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment. I’d love to hear how your Konmari’ing is going!
Check out the website for everything KonMari, believe me – you will be opening up a whole new world! Everything from her Netflix shows, books, videos and more can be found there. Be prepared to have your mind BLOWN!!!! IT. WILL. HAPPEN. (At least it did for me!) Have fun ladies and you’re welcome !
If you are a mom with a newborn child, there is a strong possibility you’re reading this article at an odd time of day or night! You look at the clock and realize everyone else in your home is fast asleep, but you’re wide awake at 3am with baby. “Newborn life” can be one of joy, sleep deprivation and learning to sometimes accept things for what they are at that moment.
Although adjusting to your new lifestyle may feel like an eternity – you are not alone! Melissa Sawatzky, the Community Marketing Manager for Kids & Company in Alberta shares a glimpse into her world as a mom adjusting to life with a newborn child:
Mode: Newborn Survival
We didn’t know we were getting a daughter. Yet in the last ten minutes before she arrived, my husband grabbed my hand and said, “You know we’re having a girl, right?” Not sure how he knew, but he was right and suddenly our two little boys had a tiny sister.
We’re old and experienced enough to know how lucky we are to have three healthy children. But having kids is hard, and each newborn – first, second or third – brings challenges.
Here are the things I try to do when I’m in newborn survival mode.
- Limit (or welcome) visitors. Especially with my first newborn, I was surprised at how tired I was, how distraught I was in my new role as a mother, and how strong my desire to simply ‘be’ with my son was. That time, the good and the bad, does pass – so don’t feel obligated to host people at the hospital or to throw a meet-the-baby function or even to say yes when people ask to pop by. Alternatively, if you’re craving company, go for it! Enlist your partner or someone in your family who can help gate-keep and manage invites. When you have the right balance, your baby and you will be grateful.
- Let go of expectations as much as possible. There is nothing like babies and kids to throw off any well-laid plans. Obviously, it’s smart to learn as much as you can, talk to others and your own parents, read all the books, and think on who you want to be as a parent. But also, mentally prepare for things not going as you expected (like, at all).
- Wait to see if we need things. Having multiple children clues you in to this, but even if you’re on your first baby you’ll be surprised at how little you need when you start out. These are the guiding things to think about: you’ll need a safe place for baby to sleep, a way to get them around, a bit of clothing, a way to feed them, and a way to catch and deal with what comes out their bottoms. Anything beyond that might be nice, or it might be an unnecessary, expensive dust-collector. You’ll eventually need and want more, but wait to see what your baby is like and what you feel is missing once baby comes. Bonus budget tip: once you know you need something, try second-hand. There’s loads of stuff bought in anticipation of a baby that gets used once before ending up at consignment stores.
- Get some sleep and get some fun. Yeah, I know that’s the kind of advice that makes you want to slap me because obviously we all want these things yet a newborn can sometimes seem like a little package of ‘you’ll-never-sleep-or-have-fun-again.’ But make a conscious effort on both these fronts for these reasons:Sleep – you will be better equipped to deal with your baby, your partner, your household, your obligations, your health, your other kids and/or your job if you have a bit of rest under your belt. And if baby is wide awake looking for a nice bouncy walk around the house from 11 PM to 4 AM (been there), nap when they do in the day without guilt or abandon. And if siblings or work or other things simply won’t allow for naps, try to get help so you can sneak in a bit of rest and charge up. When an understanding grandparent first offered to simply hold the baby while I napped, I did it and could not have been more grateful.
Fun – (warning: melodramatic statement forthcoming). A part of me felt like my identity shifted in one single birthing moment from being a fun, engaging person capable of contributing to intelligent conversation to being a worrying, stuck-at-home, baby-talking caretaker of a tiny, helpless being who is basically designed to suck the life out of their parents on their journey to beginning their own. It is incredibly intense and, if you don’t make an effort to get yourself some fun outside of those irresistible baby smiles, it can also be all-consuming. This is feasible for us because we have loads of help from our incredibly supportive family and friends, but not everyone has that – so take whatever help you can get. Try to build other things back into your day as things settle in. For me, that means getting back into sports, staying connected with solid friends (some with and some without children) and date nights. And I try to let things like cleaning slide to make time for goofing around once in a while with our boys – because to date I have no amazing memories about my sparkling clean house but I do remember fondly things like tickle fights, impromptu dance parties and family hugs.
Enjoy it. This too is frustrating advice in the throes of sleepless nights and cry-filled days, but it’s said wisely and honestly by those who know. Those who know the days are long but the years are short. Those who see a baby after theirs are grown and feel a tiny yearning for those fleeting years when you have youth and energy overflowing (sometimes loudly) in the house. Take time here and there to simply be present. Enjoy that sneaky bright smile your infant makes when she catches your sleep-craving eye at 2AM and explodes with joy. Enjoy the aggravating grumbles of a babe in tummy time, frustrated and uncomfortable and making you both wonder why you’re doing it as he gains strength and tenacity and patience for his life ahead. Enjoy the cry that comes through the monitor, taking you away from work or cleaning or that email you need to get out – because that cry is leading to a hug and a cuddle with a tiny being whose heart still beats in rhythm with yours.
Melissa lives in Calgary and is the Community Marketing Manager for Kids & Company in Alberta and BC. Her vision of what she would be like as a mom was shattered years ago when she discovered nothing ever goes as planned for parents, but laughter and community sees you through. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Halloween is a fun time of year but, some parts about this festive day can sometimes be too scary and traumatizing for the little ones. I know my sons were always afraid of people in scary masks and costumes or houses that looked spooky while we were out and about or during a night of trick or treating.
With two boys who still don’t really like the scary aspects of Halloween, we often attend the kid-friendly options in and around the area. If you are looking for some fun family events to attend in the next week leading up to Halloween that are more tame than terror-filled , we’ve put together a list of 12 local activities we know are sure to please!
1) Princess & Superhero party – Magna Centre Newmarket
Date: Saturday, October 27, 2018
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: Magna Centre (800 Mulock Drive)
Details: Come dressed as a princess or superhero for the day and enjoy a variety of games, inflatables, stage shows, tasty treats, meet your favourite characters and more!
Cost: $5 per child. Parents, guardians and children under 1 year of age are free.
Online Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online through the snapd Newmarket website by clicking on the “Get Tix” link below. Upon your arrival, please check in with the Magna Centre Customer Service Kiosk and provide your name and confirmation email.
2) The York-Durham Heritage Railway is all ready for Halloween and wants you to join them.
Kids ages 12 and under in costume ride for only $2.
There will be entertainment, the chance to see the cool train station in Uxbridge, and goodie bags for the kids.
Trips depart both the Uxbridge station and Stouffville GO station.
October 20, 21, 27, 28; see schedule for departure locations and times
York-Durham Heritage Railway, 19 Railway St., Uxbridge
Stouffville GO Station, 6176 Main St., Whitchurch-Stouffville
$20 per adult, $2 per child in costume
3) Scaryfest 2018 – Markham Museum
Sounds scary but never fear! This family-friendly Halloween event at Markham Museum is suitable for ages 10 and under.
There will be trick-or-treating on the 25-acre museum grounds, get your fortune told, try some superhero science, and dance at the Monster Bash.
October 26, 3–7 pm; October 27 and 28, 1–7 pm
Markham Museum, 9350 Markham Rd. Markham
$8/person, free for ages 0–24 months
4) Halloween in the Village
Come to the annual Halloween trick-or-treat at the Community Safety Village of York Region – an educational miniature village operated by the York Regional Police
They will be opening their gates to the public for a unique trick-or-treating experience among the 30 mini buildings, complete with games, playground, a haunted house, some safety tips from police officers and fire fighters and see emergency vehicles up close and personal.
October 27, 1–5 pm
Community Safety Village of York Region, Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area, 3291 Stouffville Rd., Whitchurch-Stouffville
$5 per car
5) Halloween at Brooks Farm
The final Saturday at Brooks Farms’ Fall Fun Festival is Halloween-themed, with costume parade (12:15 pm), prizes, and Halloween treats, along with all the regular fall farm fun: farm animals, train rides, corn cob blasters, pig races, fun farmyard playground, corn maze, singing chicken show, and more.
October 27, 9 am–5 pm (last entry at 4 pm)
Brooks Farms, 122 Ashworth Rd., Mount Albert
$15 per person, under age 2 free
Kids can trick or treat at the historic Whitchurch-Stouffville Musem buildings, decorate a Halloween sugar cookie, and create a spooky craft at this family-friendly event for ages 3–10. Pre-registration is required: call 905-727-8954.
Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum, 14732 Woodbine Ave., Stouffville
October 28, 10–11:30 am
$10 kids, $5 adults
7) Boo at the Zoo
Saturday, October 20 – Sunday, October 21
Saturday, October 27 – Sunday October 28
Calling all costumed kiddies and celebrate the spirit of Halloween. Kids in costume (ages 12 and under).
Kids get FREE* admission when accompanied by an adult paying regular admission to the Toronto Zoo.
Bring your camera for the ever so popular Halloween Photo Opportunities throughout the grounds.
8) Camp Spooky
Head over to Canada’s Wonderland for the ultimate fall festival – Camp Spooky! Families and kids alike can come for a day at the park and a collection of scare-free Halloween activities including BOO-rific mazes, trick-or-treating, foam pits, and so much more! Plus, all of your favourite rides will be open during the day, including Kidzville and Planet Snoopy Kids’ areas. Best of all, it’s included with your Park Admission to Canada’s Wonderland!
Saturdays & Sundays, Sept 29-Oct 28th
9) Spooky Sunday – Halloween on Main Street Unionville
Little ghosts and goblins will be back on Main Street for this FREE event!
Sunday Oct 27th from 1-3 pm
Dress in costume for trick-or-treating fun! Look for the participating businesses with pumpkins in the windows!
Train rides will be available, as well as face painting, crafts and more!
10) Halloween at Upper Canada Mall
Why not get dressed up in costume and head to the mall?
Visit the Guest Experience desk on the upper level to receive your trick or treat bag and a list of participating retailers and you’re ready for your Halloween fun
Wednesday Oct 31st from 4-8 pm
11) BOO-seum fun at the Elman W. Campbell Museum Newmarket
Join us for a howling good time as we turn the museum into a boo-seum! Halloween displays, crafts and try a Halloween hunt! Suitable for ages 4-10. Meet Andrew Hind, author of Canadian Monsters and Mythical Creatures! Andrew will be autographing copies of his book. It sells for $16.95.
Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
12) Kids Cuckoos Nest – Spooky party
This is a great indoor playground with a ton of Halloween activities planned for your little ones on two separate nights!
Appropriate for toddlers up to 10 years old
Friday Oct 26th and Saturday Oct 27th (Two dates available) from 4 to 8 pm
155 Industrial Pkwy S, Aurora
Call to order tickets for this special event at (905)727-NEST
Tickets: $16.99 plus HST per child (Adults free – one per child) – Ticket includes pizza, juice box
$1.00 with every entry will go to Autism York Region
There is an onsite cafe for snacks, smoothies, coffee and light meals
So there’s OUR top 12, but we have just picked a handful that are tried, tested, and true. There are SO many other events across York Region to check out! It IS possible to have a non-scary Halloween! Please let us know if there are events that you have enjoyed! We’d love to hear of others we may need to add to our list!
Wherever you decide to go this year, remember to keep safe and have fun!
Thanksgiving is upon us and we know that it’s a busy time for families, in particular for babies or young children who may be thrown off their regular schedules with the family visits and activities. You also may be busy with preparing a meal or trying to spend time with family you haven’t seen in awhile and it’s hard to deal with the children when you are trying to be a host. If you are looking for a few ideas to keep those kiddos entertained on Thanksgiving Day, we’ve got you covered! Some might take a bit of prep a few days before but you’ll be thankful for it when the day arrives.
- Let them help you set the table! They like to help and can easily do this with some instruction
- Prepare a craft table for them to be creative and keep entertained. Here are some ideas for things you can do with just a few supplies.
Fall Colouring Pages
I’m Grateful for colouring pages
Thanksgiving Printable Cards
- Prepare some games for the kids to play at the “kids table”
- Dance Party – if you have a room available, put on some music and let them shake out their sillies
- Go for a nature walk after dinner or a trip to the nearest park. Fresh air is good for everyone especially after a big meal. Take an opportunity to chat and connect with family and friends in an outdoor setting.
- If you’re up for a bit more excitement, check out Kidapalooza Family Fall Festival at Markham Fairgrounds this weekend for a day of fun! www.kidapalooza.ca.
Admission is $25 for children, $8 for adults. Familiy Pass $60 (2 adults, 2 children) Focused on entertaining the kids, but there is vendor market for parents as well!
- When all else fails, there are some fun Thanksgiving Ipad Apps for kids if they need some quiet time or down time after a hectic day!
These few simple tips can make your Thanksgiving a bit more enjoyable and will be amazingly fun for your kiddos as well!
Have a Happy and Stress-less Thanksgiving everyone!
So you’re ready to buy or sell your home, and you want the guidance of a real estate professional to help you with the process. But how do you pick the one that is right for you?
“It’s always a good idea to meet with at least a few different real estate professionals before selecting the one you’d like to work with,” says Joseph Richer, registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario. “You should also consider asking friends or family to recommend someone they’ve recently worked with.”
When you’re ready to meet with a few representatives, consider asking these questions:
- What is your experience? Experience is about more than how many years someone has been in business. Take the time to learn about the types of properties they typically work with, which cities or areas they work in, and how many homes they helped buy or sell in the past year.
- What is your approach to the buying or selling process? If you’re buying, how will the representative search for suitable properties and what is their approach to negotiations? If you’re selling, how will your home be marketed to help attract prospective buyers? By understanding their approach, you’ll know what to expect and will be able to determine which representative’s philosophy and methods align with your preferences.
- What services will be included? Discuss your particular needs and expectations with prospective representatives to ensure they are able to provide the services you expect. For example, when selling, will the representative have professional photos taken of your home? Will they host open houses? What about advertising? Understanding exactly what services will be provided, and later documenting them in your written contract, will help avoid misunderstandings later on.
- What are the commissions or fees that I will need to pay? Commissions and fees can vary between brokerages and for the services provided, so be sure to understand what will be provided, and what it will cost. Keep in mind that, as with most things, the cheapest deal is not necessarily the best one.
- Do you have references? As with most job interviews, getting in touch with references is an important step before hiring someone. So, speaking with past clients is a great way to learn more. Were past clients pleased with their experience? Was the representative responsive and easy to get in touch with? Would they recommend them to others?
“Buying or selling a home is a major decision, so it’s important to take the time to find the right representative for you,” says Richer.
Use the ‘real estate professional search’ feature to ensure your representative is registered.
There’s a lot of information out there about market trends and how to get the best price, but you also need to know about your rights and responsibilities as a home buyer or seller. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) can help you with that.
When it comes to real estate transactions, the more you know, the better you’re protected. Visit RECO’s website to learn more.
Check out some helpful advice about whether to buy first or sell first as well as the 4 must-do tips before you start the home buying process.
Making the decision on a daycare is probably one of the most stressful for a parent choosing to go back to work after maternity leave. With so many options, and the research required can be extremely overwhelming!
Mommy Connections York Region North has had the privilege of seeing Kids & Company Aurora’s location up close and personal when we ran some of our Mom and Baby programs out of their facility. Not only was I impressed with their cleanliness, professionalism and nurturing environment but I also loved that all of the children have lunch and snacks provided by the Kidco Kitchen. The menus are created by a nutritionist, cooked by chefs and approved by kids. Meals are served family style, with students and teachers sitting and eating at the table together and made fresh and with variety every day.
When it comes to development, at Kids & Company, they believe in learning through play. They augment each day with their personalized curriculum including pre-literacy and reading, artistic expression, music, movement, science and exploration, and language.
The various rooms they have for the different age groups is impressive as well with lots of visual appealing spaces, toys, crafts, books, learning resources and equipment to keep your little ones busy from infant right up to school age before and after school care.
In most cases, it is harder for the parents than it is for the child when leaving your child in a daycare facility. Parents of Kids & Company can put their mind at ease and be comforted knowing their child is ok. At any point through the day you can use your log-in access to the Daycare Webwatch to view the daycare’s in-room cameras online. This allows you to view your child interacting and participating in the daily activities and see how they are adjusting, at any time you feel you need to check! You will also receive a daily report on how your child’s day was and any special “wow” moments!
The Aurora location is conveniently close to lots of parks and walking trails, a splash and library for field trips, right off of Wellington St. at Industrial Pkwy. There also is a really nice playground on-site with a soft surface for safe play.
Some quick things to ask about when looking for a daycare, keep these few things in mind, it’s not about price although that is sometimes a determining factor.
1) Location – how easy it is to get to
2) Drop-off/Pick-up times (Flexibility) and their drop-off and pick-up process (Sign-in and Sign-out procedures, security etc)
3) Curriculum/Activities offered for appropriate age groups
4) Cleanliness & Sanitization
5) Rules and policies (sickness, accidents etc)
5) Nutritious Meals/Snacks
6) Staff Qualifications and Handlng of children. (CPR certifications, ECE trained, and if they are nurturing and treat the children like their own)
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that Kids & Company meets and exceeds in all of these areas and will check all your boxes!
See for yourself! Arrange a tour or pop in for a visit, and they will be happy to help you!
If you are in the process of looking for a daycare facility in the area, give Kids & Company Aurora a call at 905-751-1531 or email the daycare centre director at firstname.lastname@example.org . Check out their website at www.kidsandcompany.com for more info!