This blog is about life with a baby. It's not always what you expect and there is definitely no job description. Every baby is different and unique which is why motherhood can be so scary, fun, terrifying, exciting, and rewarding all at the same time.

Be sure to also check out our Travel Blog where you can share and read stories about travelling with the family.

We encourage you to share your experiences - by sharing your experiences and commenting on other posts, you may be helping other moms.

  • Tuesday, August 30, 2016 1:01 PM | Connie (Administrator)

    Let's face it.... boys are gross :)   I can say it 'cause Im a mamma of two very active boys :)   Well... I suppose kids in general are gross..... hehehe....

    With back to school around the corner, I wanted to share 3 of the tips and tricks I have up my sleeve which seems to keep our family healthy and happy during the school year.   

    Last year was Jonathan's first year of school and I was terrified of all the potential sick days and infections he'd come home with as a child who never went to daycare and was new to school and crowd germs.  Surprisingly he was sick VERY LITTLE for our first year.  I can attest them to these......


    This is a trick right out of the Autism world BUT IT WORKS!  I have one of these taped to the lid of both of my boys' lunch bags and it reminds them about HAND WASHING before their snacks and mealtimes as well as to have their HEALTHY FOODS FIRST.   In case the teachers forget or are not on top of it (as I can imagine it would be difficult with 25+ kids!)... this keeps my little one reminded and on track.  Yes, he actually follows it!!!  And I remind and ask him every day if he did it....  There are days when he comes home with his TREATS because he says he was too full or "didn't have enough time" after his healthy snacks and lunch.  This is how I know its working :)  No more sick kids... No more full lunches coming come and thank goodness no more open and part full milk cartons in the backpack :)


    I was leary about how clean the kids' desks and lunch tables were at school, so with each lunch I fold and place a Bounty paper towel and put it on top of the lunch in the bag.  My boys know to use this to place down on their desk BEFORE they eat their lunch and to eat on top of it.  Its quick, sanitary and disposable! 


    That just it!  As soon as we come into the door, ALL of our hands get washed.  And that's from anywhere really.  Before the kids start eating snacks and spreading germs all over our home toys, those hands get washed.  PERIOD.  It works!!

    Happy back to school everyone and hope these tips help keep your family healthy this year!

    Connie Berenguer

    Life With A Baby York Region North Community Manager &

    Mom to Jonathan age 6 and Marco age 3

  • Monday, August 29, 2016 8:57 PM | Connie (Administrator)

    My family and I just came back from an amazing and fun filled 2 night weekend stay at The Fern Resort in Orillia.  We are a young family with 2 children ages 5 and 3.  We visited as part of conference group, joined by other young families. Overall we really enjoyed the resort and everything they had to offer for a young family. Highly Recommend for a summer vacay !!

    This is considered an all-inclusive resort so everything that you could possibly need is taken care of -- including three meals a day! Pretty much all of the activities you see onsite are also included with your stay -- free!

    What we Loved!

    Short Drive away!   Fern is the perfect little getaway destination for anyone from the GTA.  Conveniently located in Orillia it was only a 50 min drive for us which was great!

    was a great way upon arrival to learn about everything that Fern had to offer.  Getting a tour of the grounds and asking all of my questions right off the bat helped me prepare my vacation and stay and get the most out of it! Highly recommend that you attend orientation upon check-in!

    Free kids programs
    !  We felt like we were really able to enjoy our time both as a family and as a couple during the stay because of all of the free children's programming available starting at 8:30 in the morning and going until 8 o'clock in the evening. In addition there was free babysitting from 8 PM until midnight in one of the conference rooms for those who would like to extend their child free time or adults wanting to attend the evening entertainment alone.  There was also very affordable private in room babysitting services available for only eight dollars per hour which is very reasonable in comparison to most is resorts I've been to. My children had a blast in the children's programs and they came and went throughout the day as they pleased. I particularly like to how this children's program had an intermediary age group for three-year-olds where they could go with the younger infants or they could go with their older siblings in the older kids group. That worked out perfect for my three-year-old which is often an age that is awkward for programming

    Early kids dinner buffet
    . The 5:30 PM timeslot for the children's buffet is a perfect fit for most families whose children are hungry earlier.  We enjoyed bringing our kids to the 5:30 seating and then sending them off to kids programs so that we could come back for an adult quiet à la cart menu dinner and take our time to enjoy it. The children's buffet is a little chaotic with the swarm of hungry kids -- but it works!!  Packed with very kid friendly tasty options to appeal to even the fussiest of eaters 

    All the free things to do. Especially the pedal boats available. Pretty much everything on the resort is free to do other than motorized boat rentals, specialty programs like tea leaf readings and lessons like for skiing and the snack foods.  We loved all of the equipment available to be used on the grounds and specifically the free pedal boats!! Even the motorized equipment rentals, boating, fishing or water ski lessons were all very affordably priced in comparison to other resorts I've been to.

    Lots of pools and hot tubs
    . I have found in the past that some resorts could be really over crowded especially in the pools and hot tubs but not at Fern. There were plenty of pools to accommodate any level or age of swimmer and many hot tubs. You didn't feel cramped ever. It was not difficult to find a poolside seat in the sun or shade. I also loved the very shallow kids wading pool for the non-swimmer

    Dinner rolls
    . The bread at dinner was probably my favorite item that I tasted on the resort.  They seem to have a Bee and honey theme going on and the sweet rolls were so tasty to look forward to. The smell of them outside first thing in the morning was to die for :)

    Coffee in dining room
    . This one will sound odd but good coffee is something that is a deal breaker or maker for me and the coffee in the dining room at Fern is just delicious! 

    Conference facilities. I love how they kept our conference group together and that our hotel rooms were in the same building as our conference meeting room it was very easy to get around and to be accessible to everything my family was close to me while I was in conference and they were enjoying the facilities. The conference room was clean and spacious and well stocked with beverages and conference supplies. The space was quiet and private away from other vacationers for privacy

      Plentiful and lots of options to choose from.  There is no lack of food at Fern.  Enjoyed the dining room experience overall. I especially loved the baby place setting, complete with a high chair and wash cloth for the little ones.  Great thought!  The prime rib dinner was probably one of the best I have ever had and I am still craving it!  Highly suggest!

    Beach area with sand toys for the kids.  If I were to come again I would stay in one of these beach side cottages.

    Areas to improve:

    No poolside towels. You could get free pool towels but you had to go to the front desk to get them.  I would prefer that they were just by the pool, but that's just me being spoiled I'm sure :) I can see how they reduce waste and save money with their method


    No life jackets readily available by the pool for kids. You could get one if there was some extra available at any of the sports desks but I would have preferred if they had some racks of lifejackets available at any given time poolside on racks for the kids to use. I find that this practice is pretty common across family resorts and just allows for a better safety, but once again I could have remembered to bring one from home.

    No free daylong snacks and nibbles.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner was available and plentiful but it would be better if there were some more readily available free quick snacks and drinks throughout the day for those nibbles in between. Even daylong ice cream and a self serve beverage station poolside would be great!  They did have snack and drink bars open but they were at a fee.


    Rooms were dated but clean. We were in the Hearthside building which is not yet renovated and double beds which were small and very bouncy. I suppose the goal is that you’re only sleeping in your room and not spending much time there but I would have preferred a little bit more space with a larger bed for a more restful night sleep.

    Overall we had an amazing time at Fern.  My boys asked if we would live there and my husband wants to go back!  We will be sure to tell all our friends about our stay and be back soon.  My kids were passed out in the car within 5 minutes of leaving for home.  I think they had a great time :)  THANK YOU FERN!

    Reviewed by Connie Berenguer. Connie is the Community Manager for Life With A Baby York Region North. 

  • Monday, August 29, 2016 2:07 PM | Winnie (Administrator)

    Our whole family came to Fern Resort for the Life With A Baby training and retreat weekend. We arrived late afternoon on Friday because check-in time was at 4:00 pm. However, we did have the option of coming earlier to use the many facilities if our room wasn’t ready.

    As you drove into the resort, you could tell that it was a family-oriented place with tons of things to do for the whole family. My kids were so excited to see all the outdoor activities, play structures and the pool. For me, it was walking inside our room and seeing a stack of well-stocked towels in the bathroom that got me excited! As a family of five, I’ve often had to call the staff for extra towels at hotels. So you could imagine my excitement when I didn’t have to call them. I also loved the little counter area where the mini fridge was with a faucet—so useful to prep things for the kiddies if I had to. Another great touch was the small stepping stool inside our bathroom for short little legs—how thoughtful was that!


    Everything is well-equipped and organized at the resort. If you don’t get a chance to check out their website before your arrival, you can get a list of activities that are available for the family. As an event planner, I love “The Daily Buzz” newsletter because it gives you a run-down on all the activities for different age groups for the entire day.

    For the little ones, you could drop them off at the Nursery / Playvillage (Age 0-7).


    For the older kids, there were many activities for them to participate in. Some are structured, some are not. They could attend all of them or pick and choose. I love the flexibility of the schedule so that we could do what works for our family.


    All weekend, I was gushing about my favourite part of the nursery—the cribs! I couldn’t believe how equipped they were! My toddler daughter was well-looked after by the staff for the whole day (except for meal times) while I had our training. She played and slept at the nursery and had tons of fun. It was a great chance for my husband and my older boys to spend some quality time together.


    Our family had an amazing experience at Fern. This place is perfect for a family getaway. So many things to do for the whole family together. But it also had amazing facilities where the kids could be dropped off so the adults could get some alone time. Too many special touches that were oriented to a family to count!

    Throughout our stay, the staff was extremely helpful and friendly. Even during meal times when our kids could get a bit unruly, the wait staff was patient and served our meals with a smile. Calling Fern Resort a “family” resort doesn’t do it justice, it should be called the “ultimate” family resort!

    About the Author:

    Winnie Ng is the Events and Design Manager for Life With A Baby. She’s a busy mom of three who loves to plan events and cook. You can check out her food blog at

  • Wednesday, August 10, 2016 6:28 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    Located in Oakville, Ontario, Brightpath Early Learning & Childcare is carefully structured to care for children from infants to 12 years of age. As part of their philosophy it is their dream to give every child a happy, stimulating atmosphere that promotes fun and a love for learning. 

    Upon entering the academy, you can see right away that this really is a fun and stimulating environment.  The walls are earth tones with beautiful murals, flower art, and other creative expressions in various locations all over the school. I felt calm and happy as I strolled through the centre during the tour.

    As I’m touring the facility one of the things that stood out for me was the opening hours, their facility is open from 6:45am to 6:00pm, which gives parents who need to be at work early in the morning some options.  With such long hours, I was curious about nutrition.  Each day the food is prepared fresh by kitchen staff, who follow the nutrition guidelines of the week.  The children in the centre are provided with nutritious food throughout the day.

    Brightpath Oakville also offers some specialized services and extras. From the physical education and recreation to special visitors, school photographs and themed events.

    I was very impressed with the staff, the cleanliness of the school, the bright and creative atmosphere.  Fussy children we quickly attended to, and the staff were all very calm and pleasant. 



    Both the outdoor and indoor playgrounds are spacious.  There are different playgrounds for infants and older kids.  Where shade was not available from trees, there was a large canopy to provide much needed shade.  There is a large indoor playground for rainy days. Both were very clean, and the toys were in good condition.

    Nutrition is a big deal for most parents, so I was really happy to see that Brightpath Oakville has a full size kitchen with a full-time cook that prepares well-balanced lunches and snacks for all students. Part of their philosophy is that Brightpah provides exceptional learning facilities and that their centres are the best in the industry.  On the tour, you can see that they really do everything possible to not only reach but exceed the standards imposed by the regulatory board.  From the minute you enter the centre, you can will see and feel that the staff really loves their job and that makes a big difference when caring for little ones.

    To book your own tour visit or email


  • Thursday, August 04, 2016 10:45 PM | Sandy

    By now, if you haven’t heard of Pokemon Go, you are definitely living off-grid. Pokemon Go, is an augmented reality game based on the Pokemon concept. If you are from my generation, then you are mostly familiar with the animated series with the famous line “I Choose You, Pikachu!”. The Pokemon mega franchise ranges from games, animated series, manga, trading cards, to even the All Nippon Airways Pokemon Jet.


    Without getting into too many details of how to play Pokemon Go, because there are lots and lots of “for dummies” pages online you can get a crash course for, I’m simply here to say that we liked the game, for 2 weeks. The game itself, in my opinion, is for pretty much all ages…ok, so maybe 3/4 and up.


    Considering that it’s for all ages, you can pretty much make it as simple as you want it to be, or as complicated as you want it to be. You can geek out like my PhD brother and his equally academically brilliant girlfriend and spend the entire weekend unleashing your cyber wrath at Pokegyms, you can use it as a great promotional tool to attract people to your retail business, or you can just simply go out, and catch some Pokemons with your child, like I did with my 5 year old.


    When the game first came out, I saw two distinct sides of reactions. I heard the Debbie Downers, rolling their eyes saying “whatever”, I also heard the other side, folks that were squealing excitement aplenty. Here’s the thing, I’m a nerd at heart, so when I heard about it, I was very curious, but at the same time, I was wary about actually participating…because I know me, I like stuff like this, and I’d want to spend time playing the game, and I’m not sure I want to spend time playing, when I really should be doing boring things like vacuuming the house, and steam mopping the floors…


    I finally caved, when the game released in Canada, I downloaded it. Of course I had to download it at midnight (sarcasm), when the game loaded up on my screen, I sat there, paused for a moment, and actually contemplated on going for a walk to my local park to check out what this “Pokestop” was all about, because it’s a short 2 minute walk from me. Luckily, I didn’t, I chose sleep instead.


    6 hours later, upon waking up, getting my 2 daughters dressed, we dashed off to drop my older one to summer camp. On my way home, you guessed it, I stopped by 1 of my 2 locals parks with this Pokestop. Here I was, stopped on the side of the curb, vehicle appropriately parked, looking at my phone, discovering this Pokestop. I quickly figured out what it does, collected my goodies, then put my phone away. I look up at my rearview mirror, about to drive off, I see a very nice SUV creeping up behind me, pulling to a complete stop. I wait to observe this vehicle behind me. Within 10 seconds, this vehicle slowly pulls away from the curb and drives off, but not without making eye contact with me, holding up his phone smiling at me, and giving me the big thumbs up! Apparently, we were all on the same page!


    Afterwards, I spent about 30 minutes exploring the game, and catching a few Pokemon that popped up on my phone as I navigated through it. When my older daughter came home from camp, I decided I would show her this game. Her mind was completely blown! What? You catch invisible animals that only your cell phone can see?! So I made her a deal: we would go out hunting for Pokemon after I’d put my younger daughter to bed, but only if she was properly showered, teeth brushed, etc. The deal would be to go for about 30-60 minutes, depending on time, and when she came back, go straight to bed.


    We did this for a few days straight, and she loved it in the beginning, and I enjoyed it as well, because it was a harmless little game in my opinion, and when we were hunting, she walked very briskly and I found that the exercise helped get her energy out of her system before bedtime.

    Here's the interesting part, many people say they see people walking around with their head glued to their phones and aren't watching where they're going, the statement is half true in my opinion. Yes, once you have to do stuff on your phone to catch a Pokemon, grab goodies, or fight at a gym, you do look at your phone, but you are not really obliged to be walking around with your head stuck to your phone all the time. We walked around, looking at parts of our neighbourhood, and when a Pokemon pops up, the phone vibrates, we stop, make sure we're in a safe spot before proceeding with any catching of Pokemons. As you are probably wondering what that silly orange bib is for on my 5 year old, that was her being imaginative and we collected and assigned different types of tree leaves, flowers, and pine cones for the different Pokemons that we caught.

    In total, we played avidly for almost 2 weeks.


    Then came the kicker...the more Pokemons you catch, and the more time you spend on it, the higher the level you reach, and the higher the level, the tougher it became to catch each of these Pokemons…sure enough, it became tough enough that each Pokemon required more than a handful of balls thrown at these virtual animals (mostly pigeons, rats of worms anyways), and when you have to spend an extended period of time to catch these critters, well, your 5 year old starts to lose interest and patience. Quite frankly, it wasn’t just my daughter that was losing interest, I was as well. After 2 weeks, going on the third week, I asked her routinely on one night whether she wanted to go out, and her respond was “Not really, mommy.” I asked the second night, same response, so I stopped asking on the third night. It’s been 4 days and she’s stopped asking for it, and I haven’t mentioned it either.


    Overall, it was fun while it lasted, and frankly, I was worried about my own possible addiction for nothing. If you’re curious, go knock yourself out and give it a try, you might like it for a little bit, and like me, I imagine you’ll probably get bored quickly.

  • Saturday, July 16, 2016 2:37 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    We traveled from coast to coast in February with our kids aged 3 and 7.  We really debated adding Tortuguero National Park to our itinerary because it seemed like it would be the hardest part of our trip.  I am so glad we made the decision to go, it was an amazing, surreal experience.  I read a ton of reviews before our trip because I wanted to be sure it wouldn’t be too difficult for the kids.  I realize now that most of the reviews must have been really old because they talked about parking your car in the field, and  there were tons of comments about the safety of the parking lot, the boat ride, and whether or not it was worth the stress.  Let me assure you that getting to Tortuguero was not at all stressful, and once you get to Tortuguero you won’t want to leave.  It feels untouched, pure, and gives you a real feel of what paradise is like.



    Getting to Tortuguero

    There are three options to get to Tortuguero if you are not going with a tour operator.  There are no roads in Tortuguero so the options is either to take a plane or a boat.  If you choose the boat option you have two choices. You can take the public transit from San Jose which is not too bad, and cost $8 per person.  You can find all the details on taking public transit here.  It will take about 5 hours plus or minus time waiting for the bus and the boat.  You can rent a car like we did and park it at the very well operated parking lot in Cariari.   As you can see from the picture the parking lot is not a field in the middle of nowhere. 

    Parking lot

    It is supervised, covered, and has 24 hour security. The $10 per night is well worth it and actually quite reasonable.    Our trip was 3 hours in the car from San Jose and then a 1.5 boat ride.   If you fly in from San Jose, it’s a 30 minute flight.  If you are flying in, I would recommend taking the boat out as it gives you an opportunity to experience something like you’ve never experienced before.  If you have little ones like we did, the boat ride is an adventure for them. Both of kids were very excited and loved the experience.

    Tip: We took the public boat from Cariari to Tortuguero village because it was $3 per person and takes the exact same route as the private boats.

    If you do decide to go with a tour operator I recommend Costa Rica Expeditions.  They helped us out a lot with deciding what options were available to us so we could make the best decision for our family.


    Where to Stay in Tortuguero

    It really depends on the type of traveler that you are and whether or not you are travelling with kids whose stomachs may be a priority.  We chose and highly recommend Tortuga Lodge and Gardens.  Don’t let the name fool you, this is  an amazing resort.  It is #1 or 9 places to stay in the area, and has been  featured  in National Geographic Tours of a Lifetime.  

    Everything is done  in a way that is soothing and pleasing to the eyes, and the soul.  When you  get into Tortuguero village you just have someone from the information  centre contact the hotel and let them know you have arrived.  When called  we were told they can send a shuttle for you right away for $10 or they tell  you when to expect the next shuttle.   If you have the all inclusive package  the shuttle is included for free. We chose the option of being picked up  right away because it was a long trip and I was ready to put my feet up at  the pool.



    Everything about Tortuga Lodge and Gardens is done for your extreme comfort and relaxation.  If you want to go into the trails they have boots for everyone in the whole family, they keep the boots, and walking sticks close to the entrance of the trails.  There is a sink for you to wash your hands and feet after coming back from the trails.   For kids, they have games, books, and activities at the lobby.  The property itself offers bird watching guided walk in the gardens in the morning.  There are quite a few trails where we saw a variety of wildlife including monkeys, snakes, and colourful frogs.



    They have one main restaurant that offers a la carte or buffet options.  The food is beyond delicious. There were lots of healthy options for everyone, and the serving sizes are quite large so we were fine to share some plates.  The prices are reasonable for this type of property. You are looking at about $8 for breakfast, $15 for lunch, and $15-20 for dinner.  If you will be having all your meals at the hotel then it makes sense to do the meal plan, if you are having some meals in the village like we did then go with the a la carte option.

    If you do go into the village to eat, you must stop at Wild Ginger –YUM!


    Things to do with Kids in Tortuguero

    It depends on the age of your kids, ours are 3 and 7 so we opted not to do the full three hour boat ride, we just didn’t  think they were up for it right now.  We plan to go back when they are  older and explore more.   There are still a lot to do outside of the tour options  listed, you can get a private guide and go out on your own with the guide to explore the waters.  Our favourite was the hikes into the  jungle, and visiting Tortuguero village.    The village is fun for kids, and  offers stunning sunset views.  You can also go check out the beach, which  is not for swimming (sharks, jellyfish, and strong current) but it is very  nice to walk along.  From June to October you can watch the turtles as  they come to shore to lay their eggs.

    Our three year old, who we were most worried about had a fantastic time at this property. We didn’t have to worry about cars since there are no cars in Tortuguero ,and he loved the freedom to walk around and explore.

    village and sunset

    We spent a lot of time at the pool because the kids were very happy to be in the salt water pool.   We went mid week, as we didn’t get a package and had the place to ourselves for two days before a tour came in. I would recommend going midweek if possible because it adds to the tranquility of the place.

    Ethan hammock  

    The grounds at this property is incredibly picturesque and we enjoyed walking the grounds, and taking part in the early morning activities provided by the resort. 

    gardensbird watching


    We spoke to a few people who were there for their honeymoon, overall this place had equal amount of couples without kids, and couples with kids.  Tortuga lodge found a way to make you feel like this place is just for couples if you are on your honeymoon or just for families if you are there for a family vacation.  It was absolutely lovely and I cannot wait to go back.

  • Friday, July 15, 2016 12:45 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    We spent an entire day on the Fundy Trail and still didn’t see everything we had on our list.  The best thing to do before your visit is to contact the someone at the Interpretative centre and get amap so you can plan your visit, especially if like us you only have one day in the area.

    The Fundy Trail, a part of Fundy National Park is a wheelchair-friendly coastal access network which includes a low-speed auto parkway with scenic lookouts, a pedestrian and bicycle trail, footpaths to beaches , and an Interpretive Centre where you can schedule guided hikes and other activities.


    Located on the Bay of Fundy in St. Martins New Brunswick the park showcases the highest tides in the world, and more than 25 waterfalls.  On a clear day you can look across the bay and see parts of Nova Scotia.  It was an absolute joy to drive through the park, and stop at the many lookouts along the way.

    The park currently covers more than 207 kilometres and work is now being done to extend the trail which will include a 2 kilometre long beach, and additional look outs.  To say there is a lot to do on the trail almost feels like an understatement.  From family friendly trails, to more rugged trails along the Fundy Footpath, to swimming, to hiking you are sure to have an amazing day full of adventure here.


    At beginning or end of the trail, depending on where you start, you will be able to explore the ocean floor by foot. If you look closely you’ll be able to see some sea creatures chilling out on the seaweed waiting for the tide to come back in.  At high tide, the ocean floor disappears under 50ft of salt water.

    We started our day on the trail by stopping at the Interpretative centre where we met our guide Beverly.  First the kids learned how to call for moose, then we watch a video all about the inspiration for the trail, and the work that was done to create it.



    After the video, we were treated to some delicious homemade molasses cookies and  King Cole tea. The kids got to try real molasses, it was the first time for our 4 year old who loved it! He literally licked the spoon.  After our little snack we went for a guided hike that started near the interpretative centre.  We learned about plants, berries, and trees as we walked along the path.  Beverly was an amazing guide and showed us some of the best places to hike with kids along the way.

    Assuming that you have limited time and cannot explore the full trail our recommendations are : Suspension Bridge hike, Mitchell Franklin Bridge lookout, Long Beach Lookout, Fuller Falls, and Broadshaw lookout.




    We spent more time on the Fundy trail than we had expected and knew we were going to be late reaching our next destination and hotel.  Beverly was great and called ahead to the hotel for us so that they would know we were running late.

    On our way out of the trail we stopped by the caves as it was low tied and we were able to explore the caves by foot.  There are a few restaurants by the caves, or you can pack your own food and have a picnic.  If your goal is to explore the caves by foot, you must check the tide schedule as low tide is different from day to day.  You can check the tide schedule here


    Exploring the Fundy Trail is a must do if you are visiting New Brunswick.  If you have young children like we do, you can ask to get an activity guide for the kids.  Our 8 year old was able to keep herself entertained with finding the various items listed and answering questions.  At the end of after completely the activity she received a certificate and treat. Win/win for everyone


  • Tuesday, July 12, 2016 10:24 AM | Sandy

    Located on 1151 Denison St in Markham, Ontario, Queens Montessori Academy (QMA), a member of the Brightpath Early Learning Inc., is a Montessori education center for children ages 18 months to 6 years.

    Upon entering the academy, its neutral wall colours and simple entrance set up puts me into a pleasant mood as I’m warmly greeted by the academy’s vice principal, Ms. Sapu. She’s the one that gave me a thorough tour of the academy facility as well as an understanding of what QMA strives to accomplish with their students.

    As I’m touring the facility with Ms. Sapu while she also expresses very passionately about the students they have and the Montessori philosophy of teaching, I learn that she’s been with QMA since 1998, and the academy’s principal Ms. Mangos, has been with QMA since 1997; I’m very impressed with the length of their tenure.

    QMA is in a small plaza along with other professional businesses with plenty of parking, making it the type of plaza with lower vehicle traffic, which should put parents at ease with regards to drop off and pick up safety. The academy classrooms occupy two different buildings side by side. Each classroom is well organized, clean, and spacious. I also got a chance to meet with the students while they were in class, and each of them was very curious and bright.

    What was most impressive was how incredibly quiet the academy was throughout the duration of my hour visit. For me, this is an indication of a well-run school; considering the number of young students there are, you’d expect somewhat constant chaos, and not that there weren't any tantrums being thrown from a toddler or two, but that these chaotic moments were quickly and effectively resolved without much drama involved from the teachers.

    The outdoor playground at QMA is spacious with large mature trees providing much needed shade during bright hot summer days.

    The academy has a full size kitchen with a full-time chef that prepares well-balanced lunches and snacks for all students. Part of the Montessori philosophy of teaching encourages students to learn early on to use items that “adults” use, such as a drinking cup. Therefore, parents aren’t required to send their children to school with their personalized sippy cup. As a parent, I love the idea of the Montessori methodology, which will teach my child early on to learn practical everyday skills.

    Since the word Montessori is not trademarked, it is public domain, and therefore anyone wishing to open up an educational center and add in the word “Montessori” in their name can do so without any regulatory issues. However, there are certain criteria that a true Montessori academy must adhere to in order to be authentic. The Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators is such an authorized organization and QMA is an accredited member in good standing.


    If you reside in Markham and you’re looking for a daycare centre for your child, know that QMA will provide exceptional care with the added Montessori philosophy bonus. If you’re a parent that is specifically looking for a Montessori daycare, QMA follows the standardized Montessori philosophy that CCMA regulates.

    To schedule a tour or for more information, please call 905-944-0077 or email QMA:  

  • Wednesday, July 06, 2016 9:36 PM | Sandy

    Part of what I love about being in the Greater Toronto Area is the many festivals that take place year round.

    As a person who has a great appreciation for the performing arts, it became a little bit of a challenge to be able to attend as many shows as I’d used to once I’d had our first child. When our first turned 3, we took a gamble and thought we’d start easy by bringing her to the movies, which she enjoyed, but had way too much ants in her pants to sit through the hour-and-a-half show. That Christmas, we went on a family trip, and had the opportunity to watch a couple of local live performances. All of these performances, my older child enjoyed tremendously. This was very exciting for me, I potentially had a buddy to go see shows with!

    But of course, I couldn’t take my child to The Tarragon Theatre, or maybe a fun Mirvish musical theatre production, because 1) I don’t think my child cares for awesome contemporary new plays just yet 2) Mirvish productions, as fun and beautiful as they can be, are expensive and I’m not sure I want to invest in those ticket pricings quite just yet.

    Which is why, in my opinion, the Toronto Fringe Festival is a great way to expose your child to performing arts at a young age without breaking the bank.

    The Toronto Fringe Festival, in a nutshell, is an annual festival featuring over 150 productions in approximately 30 venues in Toronto. The productions itself, is extremely wide in range. Mounting a production at the Fringe Fest is purely by lottery only. If you get drawn, then you get to perform. Theatre space and time slots are also based on the lottery as well. Pretty much, you work with what you are given. Some shows are amazing, others, well, are, uhm, eyebrow-raising. Considering this is a festival featuring mostly new work, there’s bound to be some hits and misses. Some incredible hits in the past include Da’ Kink in My Hair, and the Tony Award winning The Drowsy Chaperone. Each year, as well as emerging artists, you’ll also find well known established performers participating in the festival. This year, Toronto Fringe Festival takes place from June 29 to July 10, so there’s still a few days left to catch a show if you like, either as a date night, or with your offspring(s).

    Under the umbrella of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is the Fringekids Festival. All Fringekids performances take place at one dedicated theatre, the George Ignatieff Theatre at 15 Devonshire Place. Next to the theatre building is a spacious courtyard which the festival turns into the Fringekids Club, where activities, special guests and performances take place daily during the festival. This year at the Fringekids Club, award winning face-painter and clown Empress Cherry Sunday is there to make your kids feel and look fabulous. Your child can also get a chance to get “into character” with the various costumes they can try on and prance around in the courtyard. There’s also arts & crafts stations. Entry to the Fringekids Club is free, although donations are very much appreciated.

    Fringekids shows are geared towards children anywhere between 3-12 years old. The program guide will have more specifics on the age it would be more suitable for. There are limited advance tickets for sale online, the rest can be purchased approximately an hour before the show at the theatre. Don’t be silly like me and forget that it’s CASH only. We went last Saturday and due to my aloofness (and you wonder why I wouldn’t have remembered, considering I’m a veteran Fringe audience participant…I blame it on overall loss of brain IQ due to lack of sleep from having two kids) we missed the show. The show starts on time, NO LATECOMERS will be admitted. The Fringe Fest is a stickler with the shows starting on time, and ending on time, because there are shows playing back-to-back. All Fringekids shows are no more than 60 mins in duration.

    My older daughter and I went to the sketch comedy show Be More Pacific with Asiansploitation the following day instead. The show itself is for adults, but since the performers are long time friends, we’d discussed ahead of time whether the show content was PG enough for my 5 year old. There were a couple of swear words, but other than that, it was verbally very tame, and very enjoyable.

    We’re planning on spending the last day of the Fringe Festival back at the Fringekids Club, and catch a few more shows. Ticket prices are very reasonable, $5 for children, and $12 for adults, and George Ignatieff Theatre is walking distance from St George subway station. Street parking is fairly widely available as well.

    If you’re planning to leave the kids at home and go on a cool date night, there’s lots of choices. Along with Asiansploitation’s Be More Pacific which we watched, there are other worthy shows to checkout, such as All Kidding AsideTonight's Cancelled, and many more.

    Happy Fringing!

  • Tuesday, June 21, 2016 11:32 PM | Sandy

    Last week, my friend Samantha had requested me to send her a video of myself doing something. I shot the video with my smart phone, and then I tried sending it to her.

    At that very moment, my head went into a complete blank, I didn’t know how to send it. It had been a while since I’d sent a video that was longer than 15 seconds, and not through Instagram. This was a 3 minute video, therefore the file was larger, and I needed to send it via email.

    Then I did what I thought I would never needed to do, I asked her “Uhm, how do I send this video to your email?”

    At that very moment, the feeling I had felt perhaps best resembled that of our baby boomer parents asking us “How do you turn the computer on?”

    Up until about 5 years ago, I was a bit of a mobile phone savvy person. I’d tested out many phones, and was reasonably well versed with what was on the market at the time. My knowledge came from spending lots of time with my friend Andrew, a mobile phone guru. You have a mobile question, shoot it his way, and he’s got an answer. I was his little apprentice of mobile phones. I remember one day we were chatting, and we’d laughed about how corporate companies would spend a ridiculous amount of money to bring someone in just to teach their VP/Director/Some Big Shot how to use a Blackberry to write and send an email. I thought to myself “That’s so crazy, why not just take a little time and explore, and you’ll figure it out.”

    Then something happened to me. I popped a couple of kids out. Did you know that raising kids takes time? I did, or so I thought I did. I did because you hear about it, but I didn’t know it, at least of its full extent until it actually happened.

    When I had my first child, it was pretty hectic for the first year. I tried to keep up with my love of mobile phones, but the more you pay attention to a thing, the more your infant child wants it, so I had to hide my phone from her all the time, and would only take it out when she was sleeping. But when she went to bed, it was my time to go to bed shortly after. Well, I had about a 2 hour window, but that time went mostly into cleaning the mess in the house that the baby and I made during the day. When she was a toddler, things got a little bit easier. I slowly went back into my love for mobile phones, and still kept up with some of the gadgets on the market. Then our second kid happened, and this time around, I definitely had no more time.

    This explains why often times, when I was in my 20s, I would encounter from those that was then my slightly older generation of co-workers (which is where I am, and I think you as well are presently), the ones that are higher up in the corporate ladder, with family, with very little time, that comes to me and ask “Do you know how to do such-and-such? Can you just quickly show it to me?” The word “quickly” was always used, because if it took more than a couple of minutes, it was too long. Time is precious, very precious.

    It’s not due to laziness. It’s not due to being not-the-sharpest-pencil-around. It’s not due to an unwillingness to learn. It’s not due to lack of patience either. It is because there’s not the time to learn it. The amount of time it took to learn something, that time was being used towards something that’s more of a priority for them.

    It makes sense.

    Now I understand why big corporate companies spend the few hundred bucks in bringing someone in to tutor their VP/Director/Some Big Shot on how to use what seems to be a very simple device. It’s only simple if you actually have the time to explore and test things out.

    Time is precious, time is money. It’s worth it to spend that tutor money, especially if the time it took for you to familiarize your phone, you lost out on a million dollar project. That loss could potentially affect your paycheck. Nowadays, instead of giggling, rolling my eyes, and being a snob, I agree that a couple of hundred bucks for the tutor is absolutely worth it.

    As for me, at the moment, I don’t have time either. Sorry, let me rephrase that, I don’t care to make the time for it, as it’s not my priority. Making sure that our two girls are growing up with food and shelter, and a little bit extra like arts, sports, and culture is a priority. I’m the one now approaching some young adult asking “Do you know how to do such-and-such? Can you just quickly show it to me?”

    Mobile phones, you lose for now. However, I do think when my girls are old enough to start experimenting with mobile technology, I’ll be back in the game with them, and perhaps I’ll introduce them to uncle Andrew, I’m sure he’ll have a few tricks up his sleeve.

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