Monday, August 31, 2009


I know summer is ending when Fan Expo comes around. We wanted to bring Hannah to see what we affectionately call "The Freak Show", but the amount of people and the length of time we wanted to spend there wasn't the best situation for a nine-month was however, AMAZING for two adults who think like kids!

On Saturday, my husband, Hannah's godfather, and his seven-year-old attended the annual convention that unites comic fans, horror enthusiasts, and collectibles seekers alike at the Metro Convention Centre. They hadn't been there before so I was pumped to show them around. I was so excited because I had missed the show last year when I was pregnant. Luckily the show didn't disappoint. We spent over six hours among Storm Troopers, vampires, anime characters, and superheroes, all with one passion: imagination. Obviously you had to have imagination and creativity to even think of what we saw!

Unique and fun, we saw participants dressed up as we went up and down each row looking at amazing artwork and admiring all the things one can buy. There were comic books, monster dolls, caricatures, movie posters, and more. I met Polywhirl, Halo, Spiderman, Green Lantern, Michael Myers, True Blood characters, and even the Hulk! I was lucky enough to get bitten! Stars such as Lou Ferrigno (Hulk), Linda Hamilton (The Terminator), and Emma Caulfield (Anya in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) were also there to sign autographs (what a great warm-up for TIFF).

We found RAK, the artist whose cards we've been collecting as well as meeting several new artists, some of whom are teachers themselves. One company started a comic featuring "Heroes Around the World" which I thought was awesome especially from a teacher perspective. How cool would it be to end a unit about traditions and heritage if every student got a T-shirt featuring heroes from their country of origin?

At the end of the day, we discussed going again next year (this was our third) and what Hannah could dress up as. We saw an entire family dressed up and thought that was so great....awesome spirit! We could only imagine what Hannah would be thinking if she saw so many characters walking around. Would she realize that they were characters? Cartoons come to life? How awesome is that? Only at Fan Expo.

Friday, August 28, 2009


There may be some dancing in the streets by St. Lawrence Market in Toronto this weekend. From August 27 to 30, the Toronto Buskerfest welcomes everyone to come out and celebrate the end of summer. Entering its tenth year, it's a street festival that helps raises funds for Epilepsy Toronto. You'll see jugglers, mimes, magicians,clowns, and even fire-eaters! There will be giveaways and many play areas for kids including making your own T-shirt and blowing giant bubbles.

I had a great time with Hannah on opening day and it's something we'll enjoy each year. Come on down for this free celebration, but donations are welcome and encouraged!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Hannah tried another protein last week and she seemed to enjoy it. We broiled some salmon, which is a great fish to start with as it didn't have any bones. Salmon has high amounts of calcium and omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for brain development. We put some sweet potato and green beans as her side dishes and dinner was a great success.

Fish is great when pared with baked potato, rice, and tofu. Since fish has a tame flavour, add these veggies for a wonderfully balanced meal: carrots, zucchini, celery, or bell peppers.

As with all foods, try it out for 3-5 days. Allergies may show up as a rash, hives, or eczema.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I'm teaching Grade One in a couple of weeks so my mom will look after Hannah until her full-time daycare plans kick in. We're very excited to get the call into this daycare as it's the best one in the neighbourhood and everyone I'd told so far is excited that we got in. If you are contemplating what type of childcare is right for you, look now and sign up quickly. Chances are you are going to be on a waiting list.

If you don't have childcare lined up yet, figure out what you'd like for your child. There are basically two types in Ontario, Canada: informal and licensed. Informal would include relatives, neighbours, friends, or nannies. Licensed childcare is regulated by law and is monitored by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

Ask yourself:

1) Do you want your child to have programs that will make school transition easier?
2) Is socialization an important aspect of the day?
3) How important a factor is cost in your child's safety and education?

Find out the regulations that pertain to you including the maximum number of kids per venue, maximum number of kids per age group, fee subsidies, etc. at:

Finding the right childcare for you is not an easy decision so take the time to research before settling. After all, you want someone who is nurturing, encouraging, and patient while teaching and coaching...essentially someone who is you when you aren't available.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Hannah's hair adventure continues with our exploration into the best baby hairclips on the market.

We discovered Lil Sugarplum by looking on the Internet and reading that stars like Jason Priestley and Brooke Burke adorned their daughters' heads in these clips. We decided to give it a try and Hannah loved them and so did we.

The clips are available in a variety of awesome designs such as butterflies, flowers, Hello Kitty, tiaras, fruits, and hearts. Prices start at $5. You may also be interested in buying sets of clips for a reduced price.

If your baby has very fine hair, try the snap clips as the velcro strip ensures that the clip will stay on. For thicker hair, an alligator clip will be extremely secure and your little one can happily show off her pretty clip.

You may also wish to purchase headbands, ponytail holders, or necklaces at Lil Sugarplum. Check out their website and when ordering, let them know Hip Teacher Mama sent you.

Monday, August 24, 2009


As I spent this weekend hitting up the malls for my own Back to School shopping, two things really irked me. Both had to do with common courtesy, common sense, and public space. It's almost silly to write about because it should be soooooo obvious, however, it's still bugging me so I thought I'd post it and get it out of my system. I'd love your thoughts.

Annoying Thing #1:
People who don't need to use the elevator take up space for those who need it. Teenagers walking around bouncing to their iPods while drinking bubble tea clearly don't need to use the elevator. Couples walking hand in hand on a date don't need the elevator. People who work in the mall when the escalator is there and much faster really don't need the elevator. Parents with strollers, shoppers in wheelchairs, and those with canes really do. I know sometimes you may decide to hop on the elevator because it's there, maybe you're tired from a long day of shopping, or just for the novelty of it, but really, if you see someone in line for the elevator who NEEDS it, step aside and smile. We would really appreciate it. The escalators are for those who can go up and down freely and strollers aren't going on those.

Annoying Thing #2:
People who go into the family washroom and don't need it. Again, I've seen singles come out of the family designated area (sure you may be a parent, but if you are childless at the mall, it doesn't count). I don't know about you, but for me, when nature calls, I need to answer! I can't wait for a whole slew of teens to come out of the family washroom after checking on each other's make-up. Family washrooms are especially made for those with strollers and little kids who simply can't fit into a regular-sized stall. Be thoughtful and go to the regular one.

On another note, I did have a couple of pleasant experiences at the various malls this weekend.

Markville Mall: WINNERS has a great selection of items to get teachers and kids back in the mood for school including: agendas, knapsacks, pens, magnet/whiteboards, and of course, new clothes and shoes! Final clearance sale goes until August 30, 2009.

Pickering Town Centre: Excellent sales at COLES with many kids' books on sale from $2-$10.

Yorkdale: Great clearance section at GYMBOREE with the friendliest staff at any store thus far. 30% on top of the sale prices were great and yes, earn those Gymbucks!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Summer is almost over (for teachers and students anyway) so this is what I'm doing for the next couple of weeks. I'm gonna soak it all in and treasure every moment!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


After a few months of rice, congee, potato, and toast for Hannah's carbs, I thought we'd venture into the world of pasta. She LOVED it! We tried some spaghetti first and then moved onto macaroni and both went extremely well.

Pasta is often made with egg, wheat, or gluten, so be aware of allergies before attempting pasta. We made it extra soft so that Hannah could eat it easily. Most babies are introduced to pasta around 8 months of age. If you choose to add tomato product, wait until your baby is 10 months old.

Hannah's Favourite Pasta Recipe
1) Boil pasta until well past al dente.
2) Saute ground meat, diced green peppers, and diced carrots with a little olive oil.
3) Drain the oil. Add the meat and veggie mixture to the pasta.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Reading to your child at an early age is a great way to promote literacy and a love for learning. Even if your baby is only a few weeks old, listening to your voice and looking at the pictures is a great way for a baby to learn. Babies begin to understand that words have meaning and they tell stories. If you read the same books again and again, they'll know what comes next and be really proud of themselves when they can tell you. They'll point to the pictures, giggle at the funny parts, and even turn the pages themselves. Most importantly, you're helping to build memory while giving them information about the world around them.

Check out these sites about babies and reading:
Top 5 Baby Books
Sharing Books with Babies
Baby Center: Reading to Your Baby

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Lil Melonhead

We decided to give Hannah a real haircut by professionals before our NY trip. We took her to visit Melonhead at Markville Shopping Centre. The experience was fun and memorable.

We first picked out her special seat and then the stylist draped a smock over her. Hannah was good for the first fifteen minutes, probably because she didn`t really know what was going on. She sat up and was quite still, but soon began to wiggle around, slipping off the seat a few times.

We moved her over to the Spiderman car where we finished the rest of her haircut. The whole process took less than half an hour. The stylist was friendly, patient, and careful. After Hannah was neatly coiffed, we were presented with a certificate and a litle baggie containing her tiny locks. What a great souvenir of a fun experience! The stylist even took a picture of Hannah and was happy to use our camera to take a family portrait for us. The other kids in the salon seemed to have lots of fun and for $20, it was a great investment for a first (professional) haircut.

Monday, August 17, 2009


With the temperatures feeling like 35C on Saturday, we decided that an indoor activity would be great for our little girl. Since my husband and I are teachers, we decided to take advantage and present our Ontario College of Teachers cards for free admission to the Ontario Science Centre. We saved $36, but paid $8 for parking. It was well worth it for four hours of non-stop fun and learning.

Our first stop was devoted to our first love: food. Not only did we meet Colborne Lane's owner and executive chef, Claudio Aprile (we are going there in September, hence the excitement), he put us into his Blackberry and promised, "We'll take care of you." That means a lot coming from someone whose ingenious food prep techniques wowed the crowd for an hour. Using liquid nitrogen and many organic ingredients, we saw Chef Aprile and his sous chef create sponge cake, frozen fruit, and mini ice-cream balls (much like Dippin' Dots). If you love food as much as I do, check out Food Science: Unearthed!

We then explored KidSpark, where Hannah toyed with plastic food, measured her hand against different animals', and played with musical instruments. We were all fascinated by the bubble lady. We found a machine that created our picture using only beads of water. Then we went to see who could jump the highest.
The Lizards & Snakes: Alive! exhibit was extremely busy. Not surprising, since it featured over 50 different lizards including pythons and water monitors. After the lizards we moved onto another part of the science centre where numerous hands-on activities were too inviting to walk by. We tried to match the face after listening to a pre-recorded voice. Then we played a game that forced us to cooperate or compete. We memorized faces and tried to pick one out of a line-up. We made sentences out of spinning blocks and followed a path to test our personal space comfort level. We even blended our faces into one using a one-way mirror. It was around 3pm when we decided to pack it up, but we'll be back! The science centre has always fascinated me and I've always walked away learning a few new facts. Although Hannah is only nine months old, it's never too early for someone to wonder the hows and whys of something.

Friday, August 14, 2009


If my memory serves me correctly, this is the rainiest summer I've ever experienced. From flash floods to hail to lightning storms, it's been a wild weather ride, and I for one, would like to get off. It's probably the reason why beach volleyball dates have been few and far between and I've only attended one barbecue. From my mouth to Mother Nature's ears, let's hope for the last three weeks of summer vacation to be sunny and dry. Hannah hasn't had many days at the park.

New Edition was talking about love in their classic song, "Can You Stand the Rain", but my answer to that title would be, "No, I can't. Bring on the sun!!!!!!"

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Introduce your baby to lentils when they are 6-9 months of age. Closely related to the pea family, lentils are a great source of protein, calcium, iron, and carbohydrates. You may worry about the gassiness of lentils, but if given in small quantities it should be fine. To make digesting them easier, soak them, remove the water, and then cook them. Another suggestion is to cook the lentils very slowly (1-4 hours depending on the type) such as in a stew or soup.

Cooking Times

Red lentils - 15 minutes
Green lentils - 20 minutes
Brown lentils - 35 minutes

Lentils can be mixed with other vegetables (e.g. carrots, broccoli, squash, etc.) to make a delicious puree.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


One of my favourite outings in NYC last week was the Children's Museum of Manhattan in the Upper West Side. With five floors of colourful interactive centres, this museum is the perfect place for those who love the indoors on a rainy day. This museum targets kids from 6 months to 12 years old. Current exhibitions include Amusement Park Science, Gods, Myths & Morals: Discover Ancient Greece, and Little West Side. Each floor caters to a different age group and provides creativity and analytical thinking centres for all.

My husband and I enjoyed the area geared towards the older kids and spent time with the logic puzzles while our baby napped. Hannah had fun making music and gathering groceries at the make-believe store. She also enjoyed pushing the buttons on numerous displays and crawling on the carpeted floor. The older kids enjoyed the obstacle course, dressing up as firefighters and Greek gods, as well as exploring a special section devoted to Dora and Diego.

If you go, be sure to bring a baby carrier (sling, Baby Bjorn, etc.) as strollers are not allowed in the museum. They are checked at the front which makes the museum quite clean. No food is allowed either (babies can have their bottles) so you may wish to schedule your visit around feeding times. You can always pop outside to feed and come back in, but there isn't much in ways of a sitting area. You can try Cafe Lalo (where "You've Got Mail" was filmed) across the street for lunch or afternoon snacks (food was delicious).

If I lived in Manhattan, I would get a membership and be there everyday. There is so much to do and the constant stimulation was great. Hannah had lots of fun and I can't wait to go back there again. I highly recommended it for any parent who wants to provide an interactive experience for the little one.

Children's Museum of Manhattan is located at 212 West 83rd Street.
For subways, take B or C to 81st Street or 1 to 79th or 86th Street Station.
Children's Museum of Manhattan Admission:
$10 per person
$7 for seniors
Free for Children under 1
Free for Members
Buy one, get one free admission with
Entertainment Book
Children's Museum of Manhattan Hours:
Tuesday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Also open the first Friday of every month from 5-8 p.m. with free admission as a part of Target Free Fridays

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Taking Hannah on her first trip went pretty smoothly (other than the airline losing her car seat, but that's another story). I was really worried about how we'd get around because we had to lug around her food, toys, blankets, and clothes. How did we manage to walk around the airport with just two adults and numerous bags and oddly-shaped objects? Let's just say it took some creativity and well-toned muscles!

You may wish to use this week's featured product on your next trip if you have a child who needs a car seat.

The Traveling Toddler is a simple T-shaped strap that connects your car seat to your luggage. You can then choose to put your baby in the car seat or not as you wheel around the airport. Just attach the LATCH and top tether straps of the car seat to the Traveling Toddler to your suitcase and you're ready to go. Made from heavy-duty polypropylene, it can withstand hundreds of pounds of force. It works with Graco, Eddie Bauer, Cosco, Evenflo, and Britax car seats. Click here to find out where to purchase this innovative product. Brilliant!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Last year's anniversary, we celebrated in Niagara Falls with a weekend stay at Doubletree Hotel by Hilton. I was six months pregnant and round as a ball. We spent the days shopping, gambling, watching the live UFC event, and enjoyed a couple's massage. Although there were three of us, technically we only had to do what two of us wanted.

This year we wanted something even more low-key and relaxing. The baby was a factor, but also our week-long New York trip had exhausted us and we needed a few days to relax.

This year we celebrated with an outing to Vaughan Mills (large outlet mall in Ontario, Canada) and surprisingly, my husband was the only one who came out with anything. Perhaps I was holding back because I had done all my shopping in the U.S. outlets! We attended afternoon mass so we could have a slower-paced Sunday morning. It began to rain so we ordered pizza and watched movies at home. Although not a typical Saturday night date (we spent more time playing with Hannah than watching the movie), it was fun. Got a much needed night's rest for an eventful Sunday.

I had a lot of babysitting offers to watch Hannah while my husband and I went out on our own, but for us, we didn't mind. It seemed natural to have her come out with us. We know we'll have chances in the future to go out without Hannah. We also know that there will be a day where she'll want to go out WITHOUT us. Until then, our fun twosome has become an unseparable threesome.

Ah, how a baby changes everything . . . how about you? How did you celebrate your first anniversary with a baby?

Friday, August 7, 2009


Had a wonderful time in NYC and can't wait to go back! Didn't have any NYC hot dogs (we all know Toronto has grilled ones and are WAY better), but we did grab some pretzels in Central Park and fresh nuts in Times Square. Enjoy this funny song from the Great American Road Trip:

Thursday, August 6, 2009


CONGRATS to Dee in South Carolina on winning the AppleCheeks Cloth Diaper Giveaway! Happy Diapering! Thanks to everyone who entered and stay tuned for further contests and giveaways in the future.


Eggplant can be given to your 8 to 10 month old baby. When it's steamed, it is easily digested and can be mixed with other veggies and meat. You may also choose to bake or fry eggplant, but steaming is easiest and lowest in fat content. High in fibre, eggplant also has vitamin A, folate, and calcium.

Eggplant and Brown Rice
1. Wash and peel eggplant. If you wish, you may remove the seeds.
2. Cut into one-inch pieces and steam until tender.
3. Cook brown rice until soft.
4. Mix rice and eggplant together using a blender or food processor.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Have you played ball with your baby yet? It's a simple and fun way for a baby to learn to touch, catch, roll, squeeze, and toss an object. My baby girl loves to play ball and always guaranteed to bring a smile to her face.

Start with a plush ball like TAGGIES and eventually move onto cloth, foam, and rubber balls. Whether big or small, your baby will be amused by the ball's movement and interesting shape. Some balls have bells in them while others may light up.

A simple game can be sitting across from your baby and rolling the ball to him or her. Have a partner sit behind the baby and guide the baby's hands to the ball and to push the ball back to you. Eventually your baby will learn to do this independently. As your baby gets older, you can teach bouncing skills and different types of tosses. Ball games are great as they can be adapted for indoor or outdoor play.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


My cloth diaper experience has been pleasant so far and I've found more two products to support my positive feelings about cloth diapering.

BUMMIS Super Brite diaper covers are waterproof and easy-to-clean. For any small leak, the laminated interior made it very easy to wipe. The velcro sides were adjustable and fit perfectly around the legs and did not cut into the thighs. Since the material was thin, it did not make the bottoms any bulkier than the cloth diaper itself. The sizes start at Newborn and go to XL, which is well into potty training age. You can use a flat or form-fitted diaper with this cover. They come in white, but also in adorable patterned colours. Check out their site and support a Canadian company!

They are available in Toronto and surrounding areas at Nature's Emporium, Baby on the Hip, Once Upon a Child, Moms to be...and More, Universal Diapers, Barks 'n Giggles, Jolly Tots and more.

The other important part of cloth diapering is that safety pins are out and easy-to-use Snappis are in! The Snappi Diaper Fastener made cloth diapering easy. No worries about poking myself with a pin as a squirmy baby lay on the change table.

Simply hook onto the left side of the diaper, stretch over to the right and hook, and lastly, pull down. The unique T-shape design can allow you to change a diaper almost with one hand. The final shape should now look like a Y. You can even get a variety of colours to match your diaper covers if you wish! Totally HIP!

These cool fasteners are available on-line and at Parenting by Nature, Diaper Days, Cheeky Monkey and at

Monday, August 3, 2009


I am in NY and unfortunately, unable to access my blog today. Stay tuned tomorrow for another wonderful product review and you'll hear all about the NY trip upon my return. Have a great day!