Oops. Registrations are full, and you’re green with envy as your friends get the airbrush tan in preparation to head south. March Break is here and you kind of forgot to plan anything. Worse? The whole family is feeling burnout from the holidays, school, and our treacherous Canadian winter. Is a change as good as a rest? We think so. If you’re creative and have a semblance of a plan, you can pull through. Here are a few ideas.
What’s the end of summer without trying a few old-fashioned kid activities? Especially delicious ones. To make an easy homemade chocolate ice cream is the stuff of memories. Kids learn exactly how much sugar can fill their favourite treat and parents can control the quality of the ingredients. It also teaches patience.
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine sugar, milk, salt, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer. Place the egg yolks into a small bowl. Gradually stir in about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid and return to the saucepan. This will assist in amalgamating the egg into the hot mixture. Heat until thickened, but be careful not to boil. Remove from the heat, and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted. Pour into a chilled bowl, and refrigerate for about two hours until cold, stirring occasionally.
When chocolate mixture has completely cooled, stir in the cream and vanilla. Pour into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. An ice cream maker to finish the treat is easiest, but if you don’t have one you can fill a big bowl with ice and put the cold liquid into another metal or plastic bowl nestled into the ice bath. The family can take turns stirring. If nothing else the kids will learn patience!
It’s so new, not even the cabbies now where this new sleek beast is located. Once we found it, I simply bailed from the cab and walked. Yorkville used to be my ‘hood’ and I missed the vibe. I must admit that I was a bit intimidated in entering the lobby. Where to go? What are these ‘men in black’ doing? Wow how I needed a mommy break at the Four Seasons Toronto. But who doesn’t, really?
Checking-in made me feel like Kate Middleton. The MontBlanc signing blotters didn’t hurt. And the gentleman who excused my cellphone call and had my key waiting was so lovely. He would never utter the room number for safety reasons and escorted me to the elevator showing me the # and indicating that I would be on the Xth floor. #GoodJob
When a girl is in need of some TLC, rooms such as these cause a mixture of heart palpatations and weepiness. The bathtub was round and large. I ran the water immediately and imagined myself looking out the window from the water. The nespresso was next (though it took a while to finish my degree in engineering and figure it out). Free wireless. (Thank you.) And the softest sheets and pillows you could ever imagine. Sleeping on a cloud? This is it.
My only complaint was trying to figure out a way to enjoy the room enough for one night. Sleep? Bathe? Chill? Wired-in music? TV in the bathroom mirror? You know… Stay for more than one. And though I didn’t have kids in tow this time around, there are very few chains who treat children as well. We have a few ideas for things to do with kids in Toronto. And we also know a few great nanny services.. in case you just want to experience the softness of the sheets in silence. ; )
Ka-Chow! The excitement is mounting as the kids and I depart tomorrow on a sneak preview of Cars Land at Disneyland Resort in Southern California. Plane trips can be tricky and it helps to be prepared. Space is at a premium, entertainment is key, and yet you can also take the opportunity to do some teaching and nurturing. Here’s what we packed:
1. Mader, Doc Hudson and Lightening McQueen (a great way to educate and get them excited about what is to come. You could do this with any destination – this of what you’d pack for Asia, Paris…)
2. The Blackberry Playbook, complete with Montessori learning apps and a few games.
3. Soy rock crayons.
4. Big foam magnetic letters that the kids are having difficulty with – they will be a captive audience on the plane for learning their ‘G’ and ‘W’!
5. A hackey sack for burning energy in the airport.
6. An iPod with their ‘go to sleep’ music downloaded.
7. Nemo waterwings to get them excited for swimming when we arrive.
8. Again in the Disney theme, a few little green men from Toy Story. They can stage battles for hours and we have so many we won’t miss them if a couple get left on the plane.
UrbanMommies publisher Jill Amery was interviewed on Shaw TV’s Studio 4 about great no mess crafts and activities to do with kids that help with bonding and learning. A boon to parents everywhere! We wanted to share some of the ideas, with some credit as well to the original sources of the ideas. Happy bonding!
1. Fairies in a jar: Cut the end off of a glowstick. (This should be done by an adult – there’s a glass vial inside which, when shattered, creates the chemical glow reaction.) Dump the contents of the glowstick into a jar and add 4 T. glitter. Put the lid on the jar and secure the lid with duct tape (so curious kids won’t open it). Shake. Fairies in a jar. We’re picturing lumieres at hallowe’en or backyard-camping companions in the tent.
2. Denim Roads. Faded jeans? Upcycle, mama. Cut the denim into 3-inch wide strips and arcs. Paint yellow dotted lines down the centre and stick velcro to the backsides. Presto! Portable roads that will stick on carpet. (Dinky cars not included). Kudos to Jen from ‘lil Mop Top for the idea!
3. Periodic Table of Cupcakes. Ditto. What an amazing way to teach chemistry to kids going in to high school – especially if they have a sweet tooth. Kudos: Buzzfeed. Wow.
4. Ice Excavation. Fill a bundt or cake pan halfway with water. Freeze. Scatter lego, plastic animals or your child’s favourite obsession over the ice. Fill the rest of the pan with water and re-freeze. Once solid, pop the ice ring out of the pan and let them go to town with a hammer, blunt knives or chopsticks, ‘excavating’ the treasures from the ice. Note: It’s a good time to talk ice age, dinosaurs, etc. You can also do this with jello for younger kids.
5. Edible Glitter: Edible Glitter!! 1/4 sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of food coloring, baking sheet and 10 minutes in the oven. Kudos to Silver Taylor for the idea.
6. Indoor hopscotch. Wow. You are now a rockstar.
Dairy Queen birthday parties are so 80s! A clown or magician? So last century! Bouncy castles? Well that’s just 2000-‘n-late! A birthday party at the Telus World of Science is timeless and will be a guaranteed highlight in your child’s memories. You and your child will be a hit with all your child’s friends–and their parents–as the children will not only enjoy mountains of fun but will also learn that science is a pretty darn cool thing! Science World, as most Vancouverites call it, excels in creating exciting games out of scientific principles. Just be prepared for when it’s time to leave because the kids will not be happy that it’s time to go!
Thanks to all of you who entered our JP Lizzy diaper bag contest, and congratulations to Susan Ryder, who won the draw! We’ve compiled a few of your answers, as the activities while pregnant and with kids are inspiring. We are thrilled to have so many readers who are so in love with life!