By Julia Drysdale Julia Donaldson was born on September 16th, 1948. Happy birthday to one of our most loved authors for toddlers! Here is GKG's top Julia Donaldson books: 1. Tiddler. This is J's favourite book. Funny, cut story about a fish that tells tall tales. 2. Stickman. Adventure story of a Stickman that is trying to find his way back to the family tree. Guest appearance by Santa at the end of this story. 3. Zog. Zog is a dragon working hard to achieve his goal to earn a golden star at school. This book also stars Princess Pearl who is a strong, inspiring girl. 4. The Gruffalo. This fall the Early Years Centre is organizing a Gruffalo walk. I took J on this in the summer and it was a fabulous morning out. To attend this walk you must pre-register. 5. Room on the Broom. This book is a perfect treat for Halloween. 6. The Scarecrows' Wedding. Cute! 7. Tabby McTat. J likes any books about cats so he enjoyed this one. 8. What the Ladybird Heard. Great book for spring, summer or any time of the year. 9. The Paper Dolls. This book can inspire fun crafts that you and your little one can make at home. 10. The Gruffalo's Child. The adventures of the brave Gruffalo's child are fun and once again the mouse turns out to be very clever. Happy reading!
Small, Creative Guelph Mom Businesses
By: Julia Drysdale Guelph is full of talented mums owning and running creative small businesses. I personally love buying one of a kind, handmade items while at the same time supporting locals in Guelph. Below are some amazing creative businesses run by local mums. This blog features the following businesses: BoBeads, Bumble Bear Designs, Cedar Lily, Monkey bum tie dye apparel and parties, Pufferkid Designs, and Sister of the Hook. Jorja Lindley owns BoBeads Where can we find you online? (website, social media, etc): BoBeads.com @babybobeads www.favebook.com/babybobeads Why did you start your small shop? What inspired you? I loved the idea of being able to safely (and uniquely) accessorize even with a baby around, but the teething jewelry is found online just wasn't hip enough for me. A few months after our son Boden was born, I purchased enough material to make necklaces for myself and to gift my mommy group for Christmas. They loved them, and a business was basically born overnight! How would you describe your products in 5 words or less? Teething made trendy. What is your favourite product that you've created? Our newest design is the #powernap style necklace, and my favorite! It's extra long, but light weight, and a little Mala-inspired. Why do you love living in Guelph? I've grown up in Guelph, since moving here just before Kindergarten started! It's a beautiful and comfy city with a great sense of community. Illness hindered any plans to travel but I always knew that either way, Guelph was where I'd want to have a family in the end! Crystal Pellizzari owns Bumble Bear Designs Name: Business name: Where can we find you online? (website, social media, etc): www.bumblebeardesigns.com www.facebook.com/bumblebeardesigns www.etsy.com/shop/bumblebeardesignsCA Why did you start your small shop? What inspired you? I love creating! I started sewing cloth diapers for my daughter and friends babies about 4 years ago after taking a sewing hiatus since high school...I branched into diaper pants with the introduction of Maxaloones to the market using soft, stretchy and colourfun fabric. Thus began my love of knit fabrics and sewing soft, comfortable clothes for babies and children. I take great pleasure in creating unique, limited-run to one-of-a-kind and custom pieces for my clients in my home, with mommy-love! How would you describe your products in 5 words or less? Unique, colourful, fun, comfortable, quality. What is your favourite product that you've created? Gosh that's so hard. I have so many custom items that I've just loved creating! One of my favourites would be a special hooded romper constructed with space Dino fabric for my youngest boy; the second would be a polka dot 1st birthday dress for a fellow Mommy's little girl this past May - it reminded me of Marigold from Polka Dot Door! Why do you love living in Guelph? I was born in Guelph 31 years ago so I've been here literally my whole life. I love that Guelph offers us the amenities of a big City with the community feel of a small town. We have a fantastic mom community and a large number of people who pride themselves on buying from small family and home-based businesses (like mine) and what shopping local represents. This City offers culture, nature and a great place to raise a family! Andrea Munk owns Cedar Lily Name: Business name: Where can we find you online? (website, social media, etc): www.cedarlily.ca www.facebook.com/cedarlily Why did you start your small shop? What inspired you? When I had my first daughter five years ago, I couldn’t find any nursing bras that fit me. I looked everywhere. I even went all the way to Toronto with my newborn to find something, but came up empty. I just wanted to wear a nursing bra that fit me properly and didn’t make me look horrible. That’s when my mom suggested that I turn a regular bra into a nursing bra. It was the perfect solution! The magnetic clasps that I used to do the conversion were so much better than the plastic clasps found in regular nursing bras. They were easy to open and close with one hand, while holding my daughter, and they never came undone accidentally. My business started out as just doing nursing bra conversions for other moms in Guelph, then progressed slowly to selling a nursing bra conversion kit, for moms to sew into their own bras. Now I sell complete nursing bras, specializing in harder to find sizes, but carrying the full range of sizes. How would you describe your products in 5 words or less? Attractive, Comfortable, Easy-to-use. What is your favourite product that you've created? The thing that I enjoy doing most in my business is doing home visits. After a mom has had their baby, the last thing they want to do is go shopping for a nursing bra. I bring all of my stock and my sewing machine with me to their house and help them find a nursing bra that fits them properly. If they happen to have a bra that fits them, I will convert it into a nursing bra for them. Why do you love living in Guelph? I love living in Guelph because the people who live here are so friendly and seem to really care about one another. When I was fighting breast cancer last year (ironic? yes) people were so supportive of me and my family. People brought us meals, helped with errands and with child care. I truly believe that we were able to get through that challenging year without falling apart because of the wonderful people that live in Guelph and knowing that we had a large circle of support that we could count on if we needed to. Kristie Boivin owns Monkey bum tie dye apparel and parties Where can we find you online? (website, social media, etc): Facebook : Monkey bum tie dye apparel and parties Twitter: @monkeybumtiedye Why did you start your small shop? What inspired you? I never really thought this is what I would be doing when I grew up. I always thought grown ups had 9-5 jobs that they hated. While on maternity leave with my 3rd child I faced the same problem most new mother face... how can I be home with my children and still bring an income in. I had no idea what I was going to do? But somehow it all fell into place... I was looking for a tie dye outfit for my new baby who I called my monkey bum (Maggie), but could only seem to find them online and they were over my budget, so I made my own. From there people who saw it wanted one too. So I started to make and sell baby clothing. Then adults asked if I made adult clothing; so I said why not. Then I got a break of a life time - Play with Clay's Nina and Mario wanted me to do tie dye shirts at there anniversary party. So I came up with my "make your own system" that launched my business not only into selling already made, but now being able to teach others and bring birthday parties to a new level. My inspiration was always my children first, but the response and support of local Guelph businesses and my customers has been amazing and keeps me going. How would you describe your products in 5 words or less? Adding colour to your party! What is your favourite product that you've created? My favourite thing I have created is the "make your own" system. I love teaching children especially that you don't need to be the best at drawing or painting to create art. Every time they see there t-shirt all finished they are amazed they made that themselves. I often hear from moms that their child's tie dye t-shirt is their child's favourite and they wear it all the time! Why do you love living in Guelph? I love living in Guelph because we love to support local! I love being part of the Guelph Mompernuers who help you network and grow with other businesses in Guelph. I have made many connections and friends of small home grown businesses that have got me where I am today . That being said thank you to Play with Clay for believing in a crazy tie dye lady, Cleo the Clown for believing in my birthday parties, Guelph School of Art for making me a teacher, Pablos World of Cartoons for letting me show their campers how to tie dye and
Top 10 Roald Dahl Books
Happy 100th birthday Roald Dahl! Roald Dahl is one of my all time favourite authors. He was born on September 13th, 1916. The official Roald Dahl website is: https://www.roalddahl.com/ Here are my top 10 Roald Dahl books for children: 1. Code=as2&tag=onteachers-20"" target="_blank">The Witches 2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 3. The BFG 4. George's Marvellous Medicine 5. Matilda 6. James and the Giant Peach 7. Revolting Rhymes 8. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator 9. The Enormous Crocodile 10. Fantastic Mr. Fox Happy reading!
Cooking With Kids
By: Erica Blunn Cooking when you have young children can be a challenge. The constant need for attention means many meals have been burnt, over cooked or just plain stressful. Being a chef I used to love cooking nice meals from scratch, but once I had my son meals became easy and something that could be left if my attention was needed elsewhere. I missed taking the time and creating meals, so I quickly figured o t how to incorperate my son into the process so not only was I in my element, my son was learning, having fun and more interested in new foods. Now meal time is fun and my son is learning a life skill that is priceless. Here are some tips that I found helped make meal prep enjoyable for everyone: 1. Know Your Comfort Level: First and most important you need to be confident and comforable with what you are cooking and what you will allow your child to partake in. Now is not the time to try out a new recipe as your child will need supervison. A great place to start is as simple as making sandwiches or mixing icing and decorating cookies. 2. Everything Will Take Longer: Whether it is getting dressed or getting out the door we all know that everything takes longer with a toddler. So make sure you have the time to enjoy cooking with your child. If its a night you need a quick meal then it's not time to incorporate your child. 3. It Will Get Messy: Part of the fun is discovering how different foods mix togther and textures. Expect a mess. 4. Prep Ahead: If the recipe requires a lot of chopping, prepare ahead of time that way your child can help mesaure and mix together. Also, set out all ingredients so you are not scambling all over the kitchen getting them. 5. Child Location: It is important that you set your child up away from any hot, sharp and dangerous objects as well as ingredients (eggs, liquids, flour, etc.) that you might not want spilled or broken. 6. Make it Educational: Now is a great time to teach your children about measurements, facts about food and science. Make the experience fun and educational. I hope these tips help and make meal prep fun for the entire family!
Back to School Traditions
By: Julia Drysdale Does your family have any special back to school traditions? My little guy J starts school next fall and I plan on doing many of these each year and taking lots of photos. Here are some of my favourite back to school traditions ideas: 1. A few weeks before school starts spend an afternoon going back to school shopping for new shoes or clothes. Some of our favourite online retailers ar : Zulily, and Gymboree 2. Once you have your new shoes, backpacks, and clothes make sure it doesn't find it's way to the school's lost and found bin. Mabel's labels are a great way to make sure that your childrens' belongings don't go missing. 3. A week before school starts have the “Back to School Fairy” make a special delivery leaving fun school supplies such as glitter crayons, animal erasers and new pencil cases. 4. If you don't like the idea of a “Back to School Fairy” you could plan a school supplies scavenger 5. At the end of the summer you and your little one(s) might want to make matching parent/child bracelets that they can wear at school. 6. Celebrate “School Year's Eve” with a favourite dinner or dessert. Balloons, streamers, confetti and hats are optional. 7. The night before the first day of school read special back to school books at bedtime. Put me in the story 8. Have your child fill out a back to school questionnaire recording all of their favourite things. You might want to include their favourite colour, animal, friend, day of the week, holiday, game, toy, number or song. You might also want to include what they want to be when they grow up or if they have any nicknames. There are plenty of back to school or birthday (which could be changed to back to school) questionnaires on Pinterest. I think it would be an interesting keepsake to see how much their answers change or stay the same year to year. GKG pinterest back to school board 9. Each year at the start of the new school year trace and cut out onto coloured paper your little ones hand print. It would be neat seeing how much their hands grow from JK to grade 12 (assuming in high school they still allow you to trace their hands. If they still let you trace in grade 8 they are angels). 10. Make a large t-shirt for your little one counting down the years until they graduate high school. For example, you might write “2025 GRAD”. At the start of each new school year you can have your child wear this large t-shirt and see how they fill it out a bit more each year. 11. First and last day of school photos are a must. These photos might be taken in your house, on your front step, or in front of their school. Wishing your family a happy start to the 2016 school year!
Family Day Trips from Guelph
By: Julia Drysdale Guelph is in a perfect spot geographically for many excellent family day trips. Of course, there are many fantastic things to do in Guelph, but if you want to take your family on a short road trip below are some of my family's personal favourite day trip destinations. The village of Rockwood is a short fifteen minute drive from the east end of Guelph. While visiting Rockwood I recommen going to the Rockwood conservation area to go hiking (for more local hiking trails read our hiking blog), canoeing, kayaking, swimming or cave exploring. Rockwood Conservation Area is beautiful and it feels wonderful to reconnect with the great outdoors. Close to the Conservation Area is the famous Saunders Bakery – home of delicious jelly-filled doughnuts. Elora is another village located a short drive north of Guelph. While in Elora my family and I like to visit the quaint shops downtown. Older children, teens and adults will enjoy tubing down the river; it's exciting, just watch out for the occasional big rock. The Elora Conservation Area is another great spot for a hike; I personally don't bring my toddler there for hikes because the cliffs along the path are high up. Elora Quarry is a refreshing spot for a summer swim. Elora also has caves, ziplining and a splash pad. St. Jacobs is a wonderful day trip location from Guelph. When my family and I go there we like to shop for fresh, local produce at the farmer's market and at Toy Soup (toy store located in the village). St. Jacob's is also a train lovers paradise because it has two model train museums and the Waterloo Central Railway (for more train info read out trains blog). The village of St. Jacobs also has a Mennonites Museum and plenty of unique shops and restaurants. The bakery there bakes the best banana bread. Stratford is a beautiful place to visit and is about an hour from Guelph. The toy store Family & Company at the end of their main street is one the best. Usually when we go we like to eat at Bentley's. Statford Festival puts on top notch plays. Going for walks, playing in the playgrounds or swam spotting along the Avon River is also enjoyable. Ontario's capital Toronto is about an hour drive from Guelph. For Guelph Kids Guide's Toronto recommendations please go to our Top Kids Activities in Toronto blog. Spending the day at the beach is a fun family activity. Most of these beaches are about a two hours drive from Guelph. Bayfield, Goderich, Grand Bend, Sauble Beach, Port Elgin and Southampton are all recommended beach towns located on Lake Huron. Port Stanley and Port Dover are two of Lake Erie's recommended beach destinations. African Lion Safari is less than a half hour away from the south end of Guelph. Your family can go on safari and spend the day at their splash pad. If you plan on going 3 or more times a season's pass is worth the cost. Emerald Lake is just outside of Guelph in Puslinch. You can spend the day swimming in the quarry or in their water park. London is just over an hour west of Guelph. London's top children's spots are their Children's Museum, Springbank Park and the fairytales world Storybook Gardens. For delicious and filling panzerotti and pizza you should eat at Tony's Pizzeria. Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls are less than two hours drive from Guelph. I enjoy visiting both when I go to the area. The quaint, “posh” village feel of the shops, theatre and restaurants in Niagara-on-the-Lake is a neat contrast to the tacky, loud, fun of Niagara Fall's Clifton Hill. Obviously no trip to there is complete without walking to look at the gorgeous falls. As you can see there are many incredible day trip options from Guelph. The only big decision is where you and your family are going to visit next?
Guelph Date Ideas Part 2
By Julia Drysdale Here in part two of this blog I will give you even more amazing date ideas for people living in or around Guelph. 1. If it's spring or summertime go to the Mustang drive-in movie theatre just east of Guelph. 2. If you prefer watching your movies indoors and want to see something other than Hollywood blockbusters then check out the Bookshelf Cinema downtown. They show all kinds of different mov es. 3. Practice your golf swing and go together to a local golf range. 4. Sign up for a cooking class together. Guelph has many places that offer adult cooking classes with food ranging from Indian to Italian and everything in between. I personally have only attended a cooking class at PC Cooking School at Zehrs Imperial. Other places that offer cooking classes include Goodness Me, La Cucina, Thyme to Cook, The Kitchen Door, and Guelph's Continuing Education Leisure and Interest courses. 5. Show off your new skills in the kitchen and host a dinner party. 6. Guelph has many superb restaurants if you want to go out for lunch or dinner. Some of Guelph's top restaurants include York Rd. Kitchen and Chocolate Bar, Baker Street Station, The Breadbar, With the Grain (for lunch only), Diwa Indian, The Cornerstone, Manhattans, Cherry Blossom Sushi, 39 Carden Street, and Buon Gusto. 7. For something different you try to escape from an escape room. Exitus Escape Rooms and Fantescapes Escape Rooms are local options. 8. Get outside and go for a hike. For info on local trails check out Guelph Kids Guide's hiking blog. 9. Enjoy laughing together at one of the comedy shows put on by The Making Box. 10. See who can get the highest score bowling at Woodlawn Bowl. 11. Indoor rock climb as a couple at Guelph Grotto. 12. Go stargazing on a clear night. 13. Plan and go on a mini road trip. Some options close distance to Guelph include St. Jacobs and Elora. If you missed part one the first fourteen date ideas can be found here.
Top Kids Activities in Toronto
By: Julia Drysdale Toronto has many world-class activities for children to enjoy. Below are my favourite places to visit with my husband and son when we visit Toronto. The ROM (Royal Ontario Musuem) is an excellent museum to explore with your children. My son's favourite exhibits are the dinosaurs, biodiversity area and the ancient Egyptian area. http://www.rom.on.ca/en a> The CN Tower used to be the world's tallest building. It has since been surpassed, but it is still an exciting place to visit. Going up the huge elevator to get a birds-eye view of the city is fun. All the people, cars and other “big” objects look as tiny as ants from the top. You can even test out your child's fear of heights by seeing if they are okay walking on the glass floor. http://www.cntower.ca/intro.html Close to the CN Tower is Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. I've taken my son J twice before and he's enjoyed it both times. The aquarium is relatively new and you can spend the morning or afternoon admiring the colourful fish, stingrays, turtles and sharks. https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada/ Depending on the time of year that you go to Toronto, you may want to watch a professional sports game. Are you a fan of the Leafs, Raptors or Jays? The AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) is a perfect gallery for art lovers young and old. The AGO has a large collection of Canadian and international works. https://ago.net/ Casa Loma, Toronto's majestic castle, is an interesting place to visit. If you go make sure that you watch the fascinating short documentary on the life of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellayt, the man who built Casa Loma. http://www.casaloma.org/ Centreville Theme Park on Centre Island has received rave reviews, especially from parents with toddlers and young children. I've personally never been, but hope to visit this summer. To get there you need to take a ferry to Toronto Island. There are rides for little ones and a small farmyard. http://www.centreisland.ca/ The Ontario Science Centre is a fantastic place to the entire family to explore and discover. There are many fun, hands-on educational exhibits. There is also an IMAX cinema located inside the Science Centre. https://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/ The Toronto Zoo is one of North America's most highly recognized zoos. You and your family could easily spend an entire day walking around the large zoo watching all of the exotic and local animals. http://www.torontozoo.com/ Medieval Times is your family's chance to travel and dine back in time. Every dinner and show comes complete with knights, horses, falconry, and jousting. http://www.medievaltimes.com/ If you plan on visiting a few of Toronto's attractions you may want to consider buying an Official Toronto CityPASS. Some other great places to visit in Toronto include the Bata Shoe Musuem, Canada's Wonderland (seasonal), the CNE (seasonal, open at the end of summer), Fort York, and the Black Creek Pioneer Village.
Summer in Guelph Bucket List
By: Julia Drysdale There are many fantastic spots to enjoy summertime in Guelph. I personally enjoy all the “toddler summer bucket lists” and “100 summer activities lists” on Pinterest. Below is a Guelph specific summer bucket list – how many of these fun outings will you enjoy with your family? Searching for fairy doors is always exciting. Along the trail between Victoria and the woo en bridge are a cluster of fairy doors located closer to the Victoria end of the trail. Another good spot to see fairy doors is near the river at Herb Markle Park (go towards the river from the volleyball court). There used to be some fairy doors at Exhibition Park, but at the time of writing this article they had unfortunately been taken down. For more details here is our fairy doors blog. If searching for fairy doors has inspired you, you might want to create your own fairy doors at home. Stockade (the wood store in the same parking lot a Funmazing) sells wooden fairy doors that you can paint and decorate. Our city has many different summer camp options. Please check our our summer camps page for a full listing of what is offered in Guelph. There are many geocaches in and around Guelph. Searching for them is a fun family activity, especially for older children and teens. Guelph Lake has many great campsites. You can enjoy their beach, hiking trails and a bonfire complete with marshmallows. I plan on taking my toddler J camping for the first time this summer and plan on trying out Guelph Lake before we venture further from home. Guelph is lucky to have so many gorgeous hiking trails. I recently wrote a blog on my favourite local hiking trails. All over the city are wonderful parks to play in. If you are interested in playing in the water on hot days read our splash pads and wading pools blog. We've also written a blog about our favourite parks in Guelph. The Boathouse and Guelph Lake both rent canoes and kayaks. Such a peaceful way to spend a morning or afternoon. If your child enjoys trains then you will want to read our trains blog to find all the local train attractions. Hot summer days have me crave ice cream and frozen yogurt. The Boathouse beside the river or Sweet across from city hall are two nice options for a cold treat. Watch a movie outdoors at Mustang Drive-in or at the outdoors movies downtown. Enjoy a sunset from the top of Mole/Moe hill. Visit the donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada. Downtown is home to our very own Kitty Cafe. Enjoy a drink or treat while spending time with the cats there up for adoption. Riverside Park's paddle boats, merry-go-round and train are popular with children. You can buy individual tickets or a money saving season's pass (the pass is only $20 plus taxes). For all daily events, classes and activities visit Guelph Kids Guide's calendar at www.guelphkidsguide.ca
Father's Day Books
By: Julia Drysdale My toddler loves to read. Here is a perfect list of Father's Day books for babies, toddlers and young children. Many children look up to their dads and think that they are superheroes. “Daddy is my hero” by Dawn Richards is a great book for dad that deserve to be looked up to. J received “ o matter what” by Debi Gliori as a baby and it's been a favourite ever since. This story reassures young ones that no matter what they are loved. Another book all about reassuring a parent's deep love for their child(ren) is “Guess how much I love you” by Sam McBratney. J has the board book and a cute rabbit jack-in-the-box. Karen Katz is a popular children's authors. In her board book “Daddy hugs” kids can count and cuddle along. “My dad is the best playground” by Luciana Navarro Powell is a cute story. I know that J definitely plays differently with his dad and there is no way that you'd see me wrestling. If your partner has tattooes, “My tattooed dad” by Daniel Nesquens might be up your alley. This children's book is all about a tattooed dad telling his child about his adventures and the meanings of his tattoos. J likes to read the book “Up on daddy's shoulders” by Matt Berry; I think he likes it so much because he has so much fun riding on daddy's shoulders outside. While reading “I love my daddy because...” by Laurel Porter Gaylord your little one can come up with their own reasons why they love their dad. Probably my favourite father child book that we own is “My Aussie Dad” by Yvonne Morrison. My husband is Australian and this book is special to us. Happy Father's Day dads (especially to my wonderful dad and my wonderful husband)!