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Scotia Bank Marathon – Volunteer/Donate for Charity!

Scotia Bank Marathon - Volunteer/Donate for Charity!

Any avid runners? Here’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors while cheering on runners for a great cause! Volunteers are always needed and it’s a great way to get your kids involved. Hopefully the weather cooperates (it’s supposed to be mild). Sponsored by Scotia Bank, the marathon will be held on April 28th, 2013 starting at 8:30am at Jean-Drapeau Park. Last year, they raised $565,048.11! Let’s hope they can beat that amount this year.
Official website: http://www.canadarunningseries.com/monthalf_en/index.htm

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Top Ten Chore Tips – Spring Cleaning

Fooled by the weather gods again! Friday’s warmth was clearly the calm before the storm. Today, it has rained, snowed, hailed and…what other meteorological phenomenons have I forgotten? Obviously not the best day for outdoor activities. I hope it clears up by tomorrow as I have some Earth Day celebrations planned.

Still, sometimes lousy weather can be productive for indoor activities. Today’s goal: spring cleaning (at least interior cleaning). Spring is an amazing season of growth and renewal after winter’s hibernation. My son is still too young to understand a merit/demerit system of chores/household duties but trust me, as soon as my slave… er…son (!) is old enough to take on some tasks, he’ll be a scrubbin’.

The Baby Mop: Even infants can clean now! (Why didn't I have one of these for my son?)

The Baby Mop: Even infants can clean now! (Why didn’t I have one of these for my son?)

Chores are a win-win situation. Think about it: as an adult, apart from the occasional volunteering, most of the work you do demands payment. Kids quickly learn how capitalism works. Instead of giving a weekly allowance “just because”, reward them for their hard work from the start. And don’t go easy on them if they don’t perform their required tasks; if they don’t sweep they don’t get their merit points/money. I know I sound harsh here but would your boss pay you even if you didn’t perform your duties?

So for you lucky parents who have kids aged 5+, here are a few cleaning tips for kids:

  1. Organize: Kids love to separate and sort according to likeness. Truthfully, all humans like to categorize and maintain some kind of semblance of order. This can apply to many different household duties but here are a few that come to mind: sort the mess of mismatched socks, sort through the chipped and cracked dishes/glasses, arrange their toys/games according to type, re-fold the mess that is your linen closet, etc.
  2. Inventory: Kids who can write love taking inventory counts. Make it fun for them: ask them to go through the pantry and list everything that is empty, half-full or unused; you can use the same type of list while going through the closet of shampoos, soaps, and hair products.
  3. Lists: I have found that lists are essential for men. Well, my husband at least. If I ask him to “clean the bathroom” he looks at me blankly. You see, I have this “virtual” list in my head that I mentally check off as I’m cleaning but my husband doesn’t see it the same way. I’m willing to bet that many kids would feel flustered if asked to clean “something” without being given directives. I would recommend detailed lists of everything you ask. It serves the purpose of visualizing exactly how much they have to accomplish and they feel a sense of pride as they check off the items on their list.
  4. Manageability: Make sure the chores you assign are age-appropriate. Nothing is worse than a child feeling dejected because he/she can’t perform the tasks his/her parent asks because of age. Also, make sure the items on the list can be finished in a set amount of time. A child will be get bored and/or discouraged if he/she can’t finish in about the assigned time. Obvious example: don’t have your 5 year old clean the fine china; instead, have your 5 year old clean the exterior of the curio that contains the fine china.
  5. Accountability: Go over the tasks your kids have accomplished once they are finished. Humans love positive feedback and constructive criticism is integral to your child understanding how to improve his/her work. If your kid’s job was to clean the windows and they are covered in fingerprints and spaghetti sauce, I would suggest you don’t praise that as excellent work; instead, show him/her how you expect the windows to look once they are clean and have them demonstrate his/her ability to accomplish same.
  6. Creative cleaning: This is the most obvious of chores but often the hardest to get your kid to complete. Making cleaning a “fun chore” is an oxymoron (in my view) so as parents, we need to find creative ways to get our kids involved. Have them complete cleaning chores that are in 10-15 minute segments. Also, try to get your children to value the cleaning they have accomplished; sometimes if they understand how much time it took, they won’t be as inclined to dirty it as quickly.
  7. Real rewards: Demonstrating that their work will earn them tangible gifts is a big factor. Though some kids may appreciate the delayed satisfaction of a savings account, I’m willing to bet that most will enjoy the piggy bank of saved-up money to spend on their choice of a toy. Give them a goal chart and show your kids how each chore helps them approach their ultimate goal.
  8. Recycle-Reuse: Spring cleaning is a great time to go through your unused items and donate to charity. I’m sure your kids have amassed a large number of toys that have not been played with in months or more. Ask them to go through their toys with the aim of donating the ones they no longer need/want. Once the pile is complete, bring them to the charity and have them hand it over. If you aren’t opposed to buying used clothing and/or toys, let your child choose a few “new” toys to bring home.
  9. Teamwork: If you are cleaning, chances are your kids will want to help out in some way. In other words, don’t sit on the couch watching TV and expect your kid to do all the work. Remember that teamwork is always faster, more productive and much more fun.
  10. Have fun: Yes, chores suck. But they are–as my mother would say–a necessary evil. Instead of dreading spring cleaning (or cleaning of any type), visualize the clean results: a fresh smelling, organized and livable home! Just as your kids like goals and lists, give yourself the same rewards. And at least try to have fun!
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Morgan Arboretum – Earth Day Weekend April 21, 2013

Morgan Arboretum - Earth Day Weekend April 21, 2013

In celebration of Earth Day (April 22, 2013) and in collaboration with Montreal Families, Morgan Arboretum is offering free guided tours through their 245 hectare wildlife reserve on April 21, 2013 from 9am to 4pm.
Make sure to mention the following link: http://www.montrealfamilies.ca/Montreal-Families/April-2013/Fun-ways-to-protect-the-planet/
Morgan Arboretum website: http://www.morganarboretum.org/fma/
Address: 150 ch. des Pins, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Qc

 

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Ikea Montreal & Boucherville — Shop till you drop? Drop off the kids & shop!

BlinkchargingstationssuperimposedatIKEAstore

Family-friendly Ikea (they even have family parking!)

I’m usually a huge promoter of outdoor activities but lately the weather has been so lousy  in Montreal. Whereas with the first signs of spring we are out hiking and hoping for our first camping trip, I sit here today watching snow falling in the middle of April. It’s not the mid-winter light and fluffy snow; it’s worse than rain–the heavy, penetrating snow that dampens your clothing and leaves you thoroughly cold and soggy.

Unless the weather brightens, we’ll be sticking to indoor entertainment this weekend. Ikea has indoor entertainment for children and their parents! Like my previous post on Chapters, Ikea offers free entertainment for kids while parents can dream about their Ikea house. (Fight Club has forever ruined that for me!)

Ikea is like Costco in that I’ve never successfully left the store without purchasing something. Judging by their billion-dollar profits, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only one who can’t leave without a purchase. So I don’t feel bad when my toddler spends an hour or more in the kids’ section playing “house” or running around all the toys that are open and on-display.

For the older children, there is the famous ballroom. The aptly named “Smaland” is just bursting with young and fun energy. Come on–admit it!–you still wish you could belly-flop into the pool of plastic balls. Unfortunately, my son doesn’t meet the requirements yet; he’s still not tall enough (37″-48″) and he isn’t yet potty-trained. Children are only allowed in with their socks.

Ikea's Smaland Ballroom

Ikea’s Smaland Ballroom

The food isn’t the greatest nor is it the healthiest but it’s hard to beat their prices and my son adores their fries. They have vegetarian options for those who would prefer to stay away from their meatballs (though I’m not sure if their “meat”balls have ever even seen meat…) and they do have healthier options like chicken salads and a smoked salmon plate.

Ultimately, Ikea really caters to kids: their bathrooms are fully equipped (I’m pretty sure they offer diapers), there is never a lack of highchairs, they offer free (decent) bibs and all kid meals come on plastic plates (luckily because my son enjoys the occasional plate-flinging session). Ikea has family parking spots (though good luck finding an empty one), stroller-friendly elevators, wide aisles and kids running around everywhere!

The Montreal (Cavendish) Ikea is currently undergoing renovations but when it’s complete it promises to be the largest in North America. While they still have the play area for younger kids, the ballroom isn’t available. The good news is they are improving and enlarging the Smaland play area! The parking size is also supposed to increase dramatically–good news since that lot is a total mess on weekends. Until their renos are finished (Summer 2013), I would recommend heading over to the Ikea in Boucherville.

Ikea website: http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/

Locations:

Montreal Store: 9191 Cavendish Blvd., Montreal, Qc, (H4T 1M8)

Boucherville Store: 586 De Touraine, Boucherville, Qc, (J4B 5E4)

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Baby-wearing meet-up – Mont Royal (April 16, 2013)

Baby-wearing meet-up - Mont Royal (April 16, 2013)

Calling all new moms! I wish I had researched the baby-wearing trend while I was pregnant. I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from fellow mommy friends. Meet-ups are once a month at the YMCA Du Parc (5550 Parc Avenue, Montreal). You can meet other moms, share your stories, try a variety of baby carriers and discuss your baby-wearing style.
For more information, call (514) 284 9435.

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A little time out – Chapters Montreal

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Most parents will agree: we adore our children but sometimes we need a little break. My husband and I have found our little oasis in the city at the Chapters on Ste-Catherine, corner Stanley. The basement or “ kid zone” has a large, carpeted area where kids can sit and read or test some of the toys on display.

When we are downtown, we always make Chapters a part of our trip. The admission price? Starbucks coffee! Well, that’s our price; the area is completely free to anyone during opening hours.

We purchase our coffees at the Starbucks on the third floor, collect a few magazines or books and proceed to my son’s favorite spot. To name a few of the options: the basement has a train table, a play kitchen, several self-propelling plasma cars, a bunch of tester toys (opened boxes) and obviously tons of books/puzzles/board games.

There are child-sized chairs available but with my 6-foot frame I feel like a goof trying to straddle it without falling over—I leave them to the kids while I take the comfy carpeted floor.

Here’s the best part: my toddler son can play for almost two hours while I supervise from a visible distance. I can sip my coffee, flip through a magazine or cook book and relax while he plays with the toys and interacts with other children (within reasonable bedtime hours I’ve never seen the children’s section empty).

If your kids are a little older, they will enjoy the plethora of books all unwrapped and ready to be explored. The tween/teen section is right next to the children’s section and it’s filled with plenty of age/interest-appropriate books and music fan-club magazines.

Don’t worry, Chapters isn’t losing out. Every few times we invariably come home with some new obsession my toddler refused to put down. Toddlers are amazingly strong and their lungs surprisingly powerful when they vice grip a new (and unneeded) toy. This is a free activity but it might add up according to your child’s persistence! Admit it: we all have a bucket of those unnecessary “fine, I’ll buy it to shut you up” toys.

Chapters is located at:

1171, rue Sainte-Catherine West (corner Stanley)

Opening hours:

Sunday and Monday 10am to 9pm; Tuesday to Friday 10am to 10pm; Saturday 9am to 10pm

Official website:

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/

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Scream for free B&J ice cream!

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Yes, folks, you read that correctly. On April 9th, 2013, Ben & Jerry’s will be offering free ice cream cones at participating locations across Canada & the US. It’s their way of saying thank you to their customers–pretty sweet, eh?

The weather is finally starting to warm up and this little freebie might just be the hint Mother Nature needs to get her act together and give us a glimpse of the beloved Montreal summer. I’m already imaging my son’s delighted face covered with ice cream and loving every moment of his first (yes, first) B&J cone.

So what will you choose? The classic favorite Cherry Garcia or perhaps you will be a little adventurous and try the Late Night Snack? It’s a hard choice: because it’s a freebie I’m inclined to try something different but I’m also very attached to my New York Super Fudge Chunk. Such are the dilemmas we face on Free Cone Day!

I hope everyone braves the lines–and there will be lines–to sample one of the amazing flavors created by these native Vermonters. Enjoy your free scoop!

The following four locations in Montreal are offering a free scoop on April 9th, 2013:
Ben & Jerry’s McGill College
1200 McGill College, 
Montreal, QC H3B 4G7

Ben & Jerry’s De Maisonneuve

1316 De Maisonneuve Street West, 
Montreal, QC H3G2P4

Ben & Jerry’s Monkland

5582 Monkland Avenue, (Corner Marcil)
Montreal, QC H4A1C9

Ben & Jerry’s Old Montreal
433 Place Jacques Cartier 
Montreal, QC H2Y3B1

Check their website for many other locations:

http://www.benandjerrys.ca/