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Montreal’s Best Ice Cream

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Not only has Spring sprung but Summer has strummed her lovely tune! May Day was gorgeous in Montreal! We celebrated the warm evening by treating ourselves to some tasty ice cream. It doesn’t quite feel like summer until we’ve enjoyed our first Montreal cone.

Here are some of the best spots for enjoying ice cream in Montreal (in no particular order):

 

  • Yeh!: Yes, the name says it all. They put a neat spin on fro-yo (frozen yogurt); the flavors and toppings are self-serve and you pay by weight once you’ve created your masterpiece. Locations: http://www.yehyogourt.com/emplacement.php
  • Bilboquet: Wowzers! They really put the “art” in artisan ice cream (sorry, cheesy). But honestly, their fresh, homemade ice cream is simply divine! My personal favorite is the coconut sorbet. Locations: http://www.bilboquet.ca/adresses.html
  • Ben & Jerry’s: An obvious one! I wish they had more locations in Montreal because the line-ups on warm nights are absurd. For example, in my crazy youth, I once waited almost two hours for a cone (Crescent St. store). Locations: http://www.benandjerrys.ca/scoop-shops;jsessionid=B83C2A183C6AEBFAF328CAD3E87D40D9.bnj1_worker
  • La Cremiere: Their soft-serve ice cream is second to none. Known for their spiral cone (swirls of caramel, chocolate, or strawberry intertwined with the ice cream), they have many, many locations and most malls have at least one booth to serve you their delicious dessert. Locations: http://www.lacremiere.com/en/boutiques.php
  • Dairy Queen: Anther common choice but for good reason: they serve the blizzard! Named the blizzard because it’s a tornado of ice cream and your choice of topping, it’s their signature ice cream and one of my favs. Mmmm. Locations: http://www.dairyqueen.com/ca-en/Locator/?
  • La Dolce Vita: If you are in the West Island, I highly recommend this gelato shop. They make some of the finest gelato I’ve had since…Italy! They also have great combo suggestions–trust their choices. Location: 3776 St Charles, Kirkland, H9H 3C6.
  • Orange Julep: Ok, fine. Off-topic. But they do serve ice cream! Go ahead and order the ice cream if you have room after their delicious, greasy food and awesome orange drink. It’s a landmark. You have to try it at least once! Location: 7700 Boulevard Decarie, Montreal, H4P 2H4.
  • Twist et Creme: A childhood favorite had to be included. My father and I used to bike to this run-down shack of an ice cream stand and I loved every minute of it. I relived that with my son tonight–it was great! Yes, the decor is shabby and the “stand” is in the middle of a parking lot but it’s a West Island landmark as much as the Orange Julep is in TMR (Town of Mont Royal). They make greaaaat brownie sundaes. Location: 11898 Gouin O, Montreal, H1C 1B8.
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Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience (Montreal’s Corona Theatre) April 27-28, 2013

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Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience (Montreal’s Corona Theatre) April 27-28, 2013

Calling all Harry Potter fans! Currently on tour through North America, Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience will be at the Corona Theatre this weekend only: Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm and Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm. Managing to squeeze the Harry Potter series (7 books) into an unbelievable 70 minutes, the duo (Gay and Delme) has been receiving great reviews and most of their showings are sold out. If you have any Harry Potter fans in the house, this presentation is great for kids 6+.

Official site: http://www.pottedpotter.com/

Location: Corona Theatre, 2490 Notre-Dame ouest, Montreal, Le Sud-Ouest, H3J 1N5

Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm and Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm

For tickets: http://www.theatrecoronavirginmobile.com/

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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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Head à Tête – April 12-21 Centaur Theatre in Montreal

Directed by Alain Goulem, this futuristic play is suitable for audiences aged 4 and up. It has been showing since April 12 but it’s ending this weekend with April 21st being its final day. The production has received great reviews and I’ve heard that it really appeals to all age groups. The subject of language (French and English) is an apt one and the play’s simple but important message (mutual communication and understanding) is subtly suggestive.

Location: Centaur Theatre ~ 453 St Francois-Xavier

Website: http://geordie.ca/head-a-tete/

Montreal Gazette review: http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/theatre/Theatre+review+Head+T%C3%AAte+fresh+ever/8241191/story.html

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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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Omega Park – The Bear Necessities (From Your Car!)

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My personal favorite at Omega Park: the stinky snorting wild boars!

Last year around this time, my family had the great opportunity to visit Omega Park. My son wasn’t able to verbally express his excitement but his face clearly showed his joy. I highly recommend Omega Park for families looking for a weekend day trip only 1.5 hours outside of Montreal.

Omega Park is situated in the gorgeous region/municipality of Montebello. Known for the largest log structure ever built, Le Chateau Montebello is stunning and deserving of its own blog post. Beautiful through all the seasons, my personal favorites are spring and fall; the colors of the new and/or dying foliage is spectacular. The air is crisp in the fall and moist and alive in the spring–definitely worth at least a drive through the area!

Omega is a wildlife park that is unique amongst the “safari park” genre in that its animals are all native to the Canadian forests. The park is open year-round and animals can be seen roaming through 1,800 acres of their natural habitat. Filled with trees, rivers, lakes, swamps and rolling hills, the area itself is a fun drive and it’s nice to see the animals in their (simulated) native environment.

I would recommend making this a full-day adventure. The area around Omega Park has tons of places to explore and the park itself can take anywhere from 3-4 hours (longer if all the animals approach the car windows). Also, make sure you bring bags of carrots, apples, celery and other hard veggies. Trust me, the animals will love you and you’ll get plenty of photo opportunities. Make sure to leave the dog at home; they have a strict no pets policy (for good reason!).

3 warnings before your trip: 1. If you are worried that your car might get damaged–it should be fine but you never know–don’t bring your spotless car. Our family van is, well, a family van, so we were never worried about any damage and luckily everything was fine. The animals know their boundaries and they are all slow and meandering–these are wild animals that are very used to human contact. 2. If the thought of a large drooling beast sticking its head into your driver/passenger window scares you–don’t open the window. Start out small: try feeding the deer first. They are…let’s say…a little less daunting than a buffalo head the size of your child. 3. Allergies! If anyone in your family suffers from allergies, I would recommend taking a preventative anti-histamine.

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Feeding the animals at Omega Park

Most animals, with the exception of the bears and wolves, are free-roaming. They are all used to cars and humans and they know the drill: wave the carrot out the window and they will approach. Please make sure to supervise your children while they feed the animals. I know the animals don’t mean to bite but sometimes a tiny hand holding a carrot can’t be seen.

Omega Park also has a bird of prey section that performs live shows in the summer. If you walk along the designated foot-paths, you will reach the mini-farm area. Your kids can pet the goats, sheep, pigs, etc and they offer pony/horse rides for a fee.

A friendly goat at Omega Park's mini farm

A friendly goat at Omega Park’s mini farm

Omega offers two radio stations (English and French) that provide information on the animals in the park. They also have a picnic area or a fast food cafeteria–brown bag it for a healthier (and cheaper) lunch. Make sure to check the weather forecast; even though you are in your car on a rainy day, the animals might not be as inclined to come out of the forested areas. Enjoy!

Location: Highway 323 North, Montebello, Québec JOV 1LO

Website: http://www.parc-omega.com/en/

Coupons! http://www.parc-omega.com/coupon1-en.cfm

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Montreal’s Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show – April 19, 20, 21 (2013)

Montreal's Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show - April 19, 20, 21 (2013)

Many children go through a rock collection stage. For me, it came after the dinosaur obsession; maybe one led to the other. If you have a fan of rocks (and gems), minerals or fossils in your family, I highly recommend this annual show in Montreal (this will be their 28th season). Not only are the exhibitions pure eye-candy but the hobbyists clearly love their work and will eagerly explain and guide you through their collections. Most pieces are available for purchase as is the gorgeous jewelry and stunning artwork.
April 19, 20, 21 (2013)
Location: Centre Pierre-Charbonneau. 300 rue Viau (metro Viau). Montreal, Quebec H1V 3J3
**Parking is $12. I would try to find parking around the center rather than in its designated parking lot**

Website: http://www.salonminerauxmtl.com/index.html