What’s Open – Christmas Day

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There’s not a lot open on Thursday, so make sure you get what you need today.

Shoppers Drug Mart

All locations CLOSED

Rexall

1795 Ernest Ave 9:00am to 6:00pm

1593 Adelaide Street North 9:00am to 6:00pm

All other locations CLOSED

Walmart

All locations CLOSED

Grocery Stores

All are CLOSED

Tim Hortons

Some locations are OPEN. Your favourite Tim’s will have a big sign out front with their Christmas Day hours if they are one of the select few.

Starbucks

160 Dundas St W 6:00am to 10:00pm

1151 Richmond St (UCC, Western) 8:00am to 10:00pm

1255 Western Rd (Ivey Business School, Western) 7:00am to 7:00pm

631 Commissioners Road E ALL DAY

1164 Highbury Ave 10:00am to 5:00pm

580 Fanshawe Park Rd E 10:00am to 5:00pm

3059 Wonderland Rd S 9:00am to 4:00pm

640 Hyde Park Road 10:00am to 5:00pm

LCBO

All locations CLOSED (and closed Boxing Day)

The Beer Store

All locations CLOSED (and closed Boxing Day)

Shopping Malls

All malls are CLOSED

Cineplex Odeon Theatres

Westmount VIP and SilverCity are both OPEN

Rainbow Cinemas

OPEN 3:00pm to 7:30pm

London Transit

The city buses will be running on the Holiday Schedule. Please see your route HERE for information.

 

 

Wild Kratts, LIVE! at Centennial Hall

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If you have an animal or adventure lover in your family, then you probably already know about the Wild Kratts. Chris and Martin Kratt are real life brothers from the shows Kratts’ Creatures and Zoboomafoo. In the show Wild Kratts, the brothers have created animated versions of themselves to go on wild adventures of action and mystery with different animals. The show teaches viewers about rare and interesting animals, their habitats and other interesting bits about their homelands.

The award winning live performances by the Kratt brothers are not to be missed! Full of action and adventure, the animated show comes to life when the Kratt brothers activate Creature Power Suits to conquer a villain and rescue a helpless animal friend.

Tickets would make a fantastic gift for any Wild Kratts lover on your list.

Just released – a limited number of Meet and Greet passes area available! Contact the Centennial Hall box office to purchase.

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GIFT GUIDE: Picture Books

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If you are one of the families that subscribe to the gift guide of “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read” then this is for you! And even if you’re not, but you are scrambling to get a last minute gift for a child on your list, may I suggest books? While Robert Munsch, Dr. Seuss, and Sandra Boynton are always going to be around, sometimes it’s nice to try something new. We are a big family of readers and wannabe readers here and these are our picks for best picture books on our shelves. These books are also available at the London Public Library in case you are done your shopping and just want something new to read!

Elephant and Piggie Series, Mo Willems

If you haven’t yet stumbled upon the genius of Mo Willems, you absolutely must start. Elephant and Piggie are the new age of beginner readers. They are smart, funny, and readable for all ages. They are written comic-book-style and will have all kids laughing, and you, too! The latest one, Waiting is Hard, was just released in November.

The Pigeon Series, Mo Willems

Like I said, we are big fans of Mo Willems in this house. The Pigeon series begins with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and ends with The Pigeon Needs a Bath, new this year. My favourite is Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late which has the pigeon echoing many of my own kids bedtime antics. There are board book versions for younger children as well.

No, David! David Shannon

David is another character in a series of books, from board books up to picture books. We love David’s wild antics and naughty behaviour and also how he always figures things out in the end. Lately, we’ve been reading It’s Christmas, David! over and over, but the original will always be my favourite.

The Book with No Pictures, B.J. Novak

This book has gotten a lot of attention this year and for good reason. My children laughed so hard they became silent laughers and all had hiccups by the end. Break out the silly voices and embrace the directions in the book. Be prepared to read it over and over. And over and over and over. For a book with no pictures, this one is captivating and entertaining.

Oliver Jeffers

To choose one book by Oliver Jeffers would be like choosing my favourite crayon. His picture books are thought provoking and entertaining. My sons favourite is Stuck and my unique little daughter loves The Hueys: The New Jumper. His artwork is memorable and bright.

Peter H. Reynolds

Like Oliver Jeffers, Peter H. Reynolds pairs intriguing stories with simple, yet beautiful artwork. He taps into the heart of a child with autism in I’m Here and The Dot provokes creativity in the most stubbornly uncreative child. His artwork can also be found in the mother-daughter book Someday (which will bring on all the feels, you’ve been warned).

Maple, Lori Nichols

A young girl embracing changing seasons and a changing family. As a mother of two girls, this one was an instant fave for me and my daughters.

Sparky!, Jennifer Offill

Oh, Sparky. I’m not even sure what it is about this book that is so magical – whether it’s the laziest pet in the whole world or the optimism of the charming little girl who just wants a friend. Either way, my children all want a sloth for a pet and I kind of wish we had a tree to let him sleep in.

I Want My Hat Back, Jon Klassen

I wish there had been a camera on our faces the first time we read this book. The ending is… not something you usually find in a kids book. Do not skip ahead or spoil it, just read it with your kids and watch their faces as you all are enlightened. My kids were shocked and I burst out laughing in disbelief. His follow up book, This is Not My Hat, is equally delightful. If dark humour is your thing, get these books. Jon Klassen also illustrated another award winning favourite, Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett.

 

Christmas Crafts

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We are officially in the home stretch coming up to Christmas and whether your child is an infant or they’re in grade school, you may be looking for some ways to pass the time in the next week. We have pulled together a few mom-tested crafts that can also double as keepsakes or gifts for grandparents, parents or anyone else who adores your child/ren.

CINNAMON-APPLESAUCE ORNAMENTS

I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t have two hanging on my tree right now, but these ornaments are easy, nice looking, and they smell fantastic! All you have to do is mix together 1 cup of ground cinnamon (it’s okay to buy the cheap stuff – no one is going to eat it!), 1 cup of applesauce, and 1/4 cup of white glue. It will form a dough which you can then roll out into a thick slab. Use holiday cookie cutters to make shapes and a straw to poke through the top to hang a ribbon from. Lay the ornaments on a cookie sheet somewhere safe and let them dry for about 3 days. Once dry, string a pretty ribbon through the hole and hang it on your tree or wrap it up for someone special.

HOMEMADE SNOWFLAKES

We found this recipe in our Advent book this year and my kids immediately begged to give it a try. Take 3 pipe cleaners and twist them at the centre to form a star/snowflake shape. Tie a piece of string around the centre of the pipe cleaners and tie the other end to a pencil or spoon or stick. Fill a wide mouth glass jar with boiling water (e.g. a mason jar or a pickle jar). Add 3TBSP of Borax for every cup of water in the jar. Stir the Borax until most of it is dissolved. Hang the snowflake in the jar so that it is completely covered by water and the pencil rests across the top of the jar. Leave the snowflake overnight to set. Crystals will form over the pipe cleaners! Let it dry before wrapping or hanging it on your tree.

MISTLE TOES

An adorable idea if you have tiny children with tiny little feet! Paint the soles of their feet green and press the feet onto white cardstock. Once the footprints have dried, turn them so that the toes are pointing downward. Paint ribbons at the heel and you have Mistle Toes!

SNOWMAN HAND PRINT ORNAMENTS

Buy a set of solid-coloured spherical ornaments – either blue for the sky or any colour will do! Paint your child’s hand white and place the ornament into their palm so that their fingers curl up around the ornament, finger tips toward the very top, insuring that each finger is separated into 5 individual prints. Hang the ornament to dry. Once dried, paint each finger as a snowman with buttons, hat, scarf, arms, a carrot nose or whatever other embellishments you’d like. If your children are old enough have them do it all themselves! Make sure you write the year on the ornament somewhere so that you can have them hold it every year to see how much their little hands have grown.

 

LifeSpin: Helping Londoners in Need

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LifeSpin is a not-for-profit organization in East London that supports low income families throughout the year. As many London families know, it is hard enough to make ends meet in a regular month, but Christmas can be especially hard. Often after paying the bills, there is just not enough to buy any presents to put under the tree. Last year, LifeSpin provided gifts to over 2500 Londoners and this year, they need more help.

With the days before Santa arrives dwindling quickly, they have a long list of families seeking sponsorship. If it is at all possible for you, get some friends together, co-workers, family members, neighbours, church groups, even just yourself and sponsor a family in need.  The children have small wish lists and these parents would love to be able to see a few of their child’s Christmas dreams come true.

No one chooses to live in poverty. No family wants to be the one to have to ask for help. These families are doing the best they can and usually are in their position through no fault of their own.

IF YOU CAN HELP

Learn more about LifeSpin and the work they do HERE

Learn about their Christmas Program and how to sponsor a family HERE. It is very simple and the difference you will be making is immeasurable.

 

 

 

 

Potlucks and Parties, Oh My!

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I don’t know about you, but my life for the next three weeks is packed with parties, dinners, potlucks, get togethers, and a zillion other social events with food involved. Even one of my children’s classes is having a potluck party! This is when we all become divided as adults - one group will have actually prepared food at their house, one group will buy something en route to the event… and the other group will have forgotten altogether (no worries, there’s always enough food, am I right?). I prefer to make something, whenever possible, and fortunately, I have a few recipes that I am always ready to whip up at short notice. All it takes is a few ingredients that you probably already have and maybe one or two new things that you should just stock up on for the next month.

BEER AND CHEDDAR BREAD

I know, half of you just tuned out. Bread?? TRUST ME. This is the simplest thing ever. Most of these ingredients you probably already have, just make sure that you have a case of beer – yes, a case, you’ll want to make this over and over once you’ve tasted it! This is my go-to recipe for potlucks and pretty much any night of the week that I serve stew, chili or soup for dinner. It’s so simple, my 6 and 8 year olds now make it themselves up until the beer and the oven parts. It’ll be a hit at every potluck you bring it to, lunch or dinner.  Continue reading

Gift Guide: Teacher Gifts

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I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you have children who are school-age, then the clock is ticking for you to get those Teacher Gifts bought and wrapped. For many of us, there are more than just teachers on that shopping list – ECE’s, EA’s, therapists, bus drivers, etc. Some of you will have standard go-to gifts that you give year after year, some of you will be new to this type of thing, and the rest may be somewhere in the middle. Instead of giving the teacher a box of chocolates or yet another Christmas mug/ornament that has either an apple or a #1 teacher scrawled on it (there’s a reason there are so many of these in thrift shops), we offer these suggestions:

NOTHING

Remember that a gift is not expected. Not all children give their teachers gifts, no matter what Pinterest tells you. If this is going to cause you stress, step back and relax. Your child isn’t going to get a lump of coal from the teacher if you don’t send a gift to school. It’s appreciated, for sure, but not required.

A CARD

Teachers unanimously say that a personalized card is always a treasured gift. Have your child make the card if they enjoy that sort of thing. Spend a few minutes to write a few lines about how much you appreciate the teacher and the work they do with your child and you are all set.

A DONATION IN LIEU OF A GIFT

My one child has seen a number of therapists over the years and while we love to recognize their amazing work and how much we appreciate them over the holiday season, they aren’t allowed to accept gifts. As an alternative to giving them something tangible, we have always chosen to give a donation somewhere in their name. For some ideas, see our Gift Guide on donations. This is also a great option for group gifts – daycare, preschool or kindergarten classrooms with multiple teachers/ECE’s, school staff that you want to recognize (that secretarial team that makes the school amazing, for example). Note that at this late date, many places will not be able to mail you a card before school is out, so opt for a print out or email version.

BOOKS

Many teachers stock their classroom with their own books. Donate a book or two to your child’s classroom or teacher’s book shelf. Have your child pick their favourite story from home or something new by their favourite author.

GIFT CARDS

A common default is going to be the Tim’s card, but find out if they prefer Starbuck’s instead or if they are that rare breed that doesn’t like coffee or tea at all. Show your child a cup from either place and ask them if they’ve seen it in their teacher’s hand. Chances are they can identify which their teacher prefers. Indigo cards are also a great idea for restocking/updating the classrooms book shelves or letting them pick a holiday read. LCBO is also a popular choice, though you might want to make sure that this will be a welcome gift. A favourite lunch place, somewhere they can buy school supplies or any other place you’ve heard them mention are some other ideas.

GROUP GIFTS

You’ll have to act now, but all it takes is one parent slipping a letter into each child’s backpack. Invite interested parents to send $5 or $10 per teacher to school in an envelope addressed to your child. Collect the cash, buy a larger gift, sign the card from all the kids whose parents donated money. I guarantee a lot of the parents who receive that letter will happily let you do the shopping on their behalf. Get a gift card for a spa, a nice restaurant or anywhere else where your teacher might want to spend a bit more money over the holidays.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Does your child constantly run out of pencil crayons and glue? Odds are good that his/her teacher does as well. Stock them up with markers, erasers, pencils, glue sticks, and whatever else they might need. For bonus points – buy them a pack of personalized labels (just check the shipping dates to make sure they’ll get here on time!).

 

Just to reiterate – gifts are appreciated, but not mandatory. Really. And while teachers will be appreciative of whatever you do give them, first ask yourself whether they would want 20 of whatever you plan on giving them. Twenty notes of appreciation? Yes. Twenty Christmas-scented candles? A bit overpowering. Twenty bedazzled photo frames? Eek.

 

 

Gift Guide: Gift Cards

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At Christmas time, people become very divided on the issue of gift cards. One group of people love them for their quickness and ease of purchase. Those same people probably love to receive them as well and shop happily for themselves, selecting the exact item that they want. The other group of people see it as completely impersonal, the lack of thought required defeating the purpose of giving a gift.

Though there is some validity to both sides of the argument, gift cards do provide a great option for families who would like to cut back on the amount of tangible ‘stuff’ that is given and received at Christmas. Toys can be overwhelming. Gift cards can be more than an ‘easy out’, they can also be an invitation to share in an experience at a later date. Here are some of our suggestions:

Coffee Shop

A Tim’s GC is a quick and easy way to say thank you to an adult, but for a child this can be a much bigger adventure. Something as simple as a $5 card allows for two outings for a spontaneous treat. Hot chocolate and a donut? You’ll have to look hard for a kid who wouldn’t want that, from toddler to teenager. A coffee date with your kid is a great opportunity for a little one-on-one time, allowing them to pay makes them feel grown up and special. Tuck one of these in their stocking and schedule an hour over the Christmas holidays where the two of you can get a cup of cheer. Maybe they’ll even splurge on your coffee.

Book Store

Children love hanging out at the library, which is why many book stores have adopted a similar ‘hands on’ philosophy in the kids section. Touch. Read. Look. Play. And Mom, break out that wallet and pay. Or not! A book store is another one of my favourite places to let my children take time and explore. New authors, new stories, new doors opening to their imagination. I have a hard time saying no to a new book, so a GC is a win-win for all of us. A kid in a candy store has nothing on one of my kids in a book store, and allowing them to make their own choices is a great way to encourage that love of reading.

iTunes

If you have any sort of iPad/iPod/iPhone then you probably already know the value of an iTunes GC. While it is easy to stick to those free kids apps, sometimes it is nice to be able to drop a little money on the ones you have to pay for. Music is also a great iTunes purchase or a couple of episodes of their favourite cartoon for those long car rides or endless waiting room waits. Give them the GC as a gift or use it yourself and wrap a bow around the iPod as a hint of where to find their gift.  Continue reading

Gift Guide: Charities and Donations

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In honour of Giving Tuesday, we are starting our 2014 Gift Guide with a few options for gifts that support some of the top causes both local and globally. If you want to give a gift that will start a ripple effect, this is the list for you. Charity gifts are a fantastic way to recognize people who are hard to shop for or for professionals who are unable to accept tangible gifts or for people who just don’t want anything. Please note that since many of these gifts are online, you will need to purchase/donate sooner than later in order to have it all come together by Christmas.

Unicef Canada: Survival Gifts

Choose from over 60 Survival Gifts from Unicef that help children in need around the world. Gifts begin at just $9 for two bed nets to prevent malaria and hit every price point up from there with food, vaccinations, educational supplies, toys, medicine, safe water supplies, and many more. Recipients can either receive a paper card or a personalized card for the gift in their honour.

Plan Canada: Gifts of Hope

Similar to the above, Plan Canada has gifts that help children around the world. Their gifts begin at $10 and go up from there, including gifts such as fruit trees for $15, stacks of books for $60, and a baby buffalo for $250. With Plan Canada you also get the option of mailing a card or emailing a card to the recipient for the gift purchased in their name.

World Wildlife Foundation: Wildlife Adoption

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