Sunday, December 5, 2010

Expo Agricole in Saint-Hyacinthe

At the end of July every year, there is an awesome festival in Saint-Hyacinthe called Expo-Agricole. Seriously, I've been raving to friends about it since I tried it out last year for the first time. If you have young kids you simply MUST schedule this in your summer itinerary! Mark took the day off work to go as a family this year, because I couldn't stop raving about it. And, I'm happy to say he wasn't disappointed. :)

We went on the opening day, which was a Thursday. There were a lot of daycamps there, so it was actually quite packed. However, having the extra set of hands there made it so much easier for me, because - for example - while Mark took Kira to the lineup to get her face painted (see previous post for the beautiful result), I could take Calvin to the lineup for the mini-train ride, and both kids could avoid the lines for the activities they didn't so much care for.

What makes this fair stand out? It's incredibly well organized, and there is a huge variety of activities. It's clean, there are lots of accessible toilets (very important as a parent of young children), and it is spacious. If you get there early enough, there is ample free street parking. If you don't arrive early enough, the residents are all out with signs offering parking on their lots for $10. There are several rides even for the toddlers (Calvin went on rides on his own even last year, at 1.5 years old!). Oh, and the price is right: $15 per person, which includes access to all the rides. Even the airbrushed face painting was free!

Last year I packed a picnic, but once the kids saw that there was pizza for sale, I ended up buying them pizza and lemonade, and lugging my big backpack around all day. This year I packed lighter, knowing I'd spend a bit extra on lunch and treats, and it simply made things less stressful and more enjoyable.

Along with the usual ferris wheel and traveling fair-type rides, there were some interesting ones like this boat that the little kids could control with little hand cranks:

There was a petting zoo (pictured above) and several buildings full of prize-winning livestock, including horses, cows, sheep, pigs, miniature ponies, chickens, reptiles, and more!

Several tractors and farming vehicles were on display, and these took up a lot more time than we imagined they would, as the kids were climbing on and off every model of tractor on the lot!

Definitely worth the trek, folks!

Friday, December 3, 2010

HomeStart / Premiers Pas Daycamp

A definite highlight over the past several summers has been the Premiers Pas / HomeStart daycamp. This daycamp is held each summer over a period of 6 weeks (3 days a week), and it is for parents to participate alongside their child(ren), aged 0 to 5 years. The camp is subsidized by the government and as such, is made affordable beyond belief! This year the registration fees were $40 for the family, for 6 weeks inclusive! I know, unbelievable.

The counselors are resourceful, bilingual, energetic, and selected for their love of children and capacity to entertain and plan an exciting camp that is inclusive of babies up to preschoolers. We enjoyed spending time there, and outings included local pools, the Jean-Drapeau beach, the Old Port of Montreal, and the library.

I have been attending this camp since Kira was less than 2 years old. Honestly, there are not many options out there for organized activities for toddlers during the long summer days. I hope that some of you South Shore mums and dads will consider this daycamp and supporting a wonderful organization that helps families in need of social support. In doing so, you will meet an administration that is caring and devoted to the best interests of families.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kira's face canvas

I love how Kira is so into face-painting these days! She has always been an artistic girl, and this summer she was always happy to provide her face as a canvas. Here are just a few of the painted faces Kira sported this year!

Here is one from the Mums & Tots Easter party, painted by a fellow mom:
At the CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario) Teddy Bears' Picnic in Ottawa, in June:
At Premiers Pas / HomeStart daycamp in July:

Expo Agricole in Ste. Hyacinthe in July:
And for Halloween, she wanted an angel painted on her face, by yours truly:
Loving this phase tremendously!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Highlights of summer - Calvin's happy place

As I've been away from blogging for several months now, I've missed out on blogging about the most awesome summer we had this year! So, here I am in December, posting about months ago...

It's kind of fun actually, looking at photos from the summertime. I can't believe how busy we were all summer long, and having a great time outdoors almost every day!

One of the cool things about flipping through hundred of pics at a time is that you can quickly see particular themes emerge. Clearly, Calvin was happiest in the sandbox. Whether we were camping, hanging out at a local park, at daycamp, or in our own backyard, Calvin just loved spending time in the sand! In fact, from May through September I kept a bag of sand toys in my trunk each and every day, at the ready. Here are some pics of Calvin in his happy place: