Welcome to GTAParent: Parent Education, News, Views and Things to Do Together in Toronto and the GTA!

Meet Ann Douglas on March 7th in Etobicoke!

Hello friends,

The Parent Education Network would like to invite you to a very special event on March 7th, 2015.  Come and meet parenting guru and author Ann Douglas who will present her beautiful new book, Parenting Through the Storm, a book about her experiences parenting children with mental health challenges. Ann will speak for about an hour and then will take questions from the audience.

Space is extremely limited and tickets are going fast so register today by clicking here.

We look forward to seeing you!

A Very Affordable Vacation Awaits - Peterborough is a Recreation and Cultural Hub.... Who Knew?

My family and I recently made the relatively short 1.5 hour drive  to celebrate Family Day with our kids in the peaceful, pretty and cultural destination of Peterborough, Ontario.  It has been a long winter but I was determined to celebrate the snow and embrace the cold. 

What better way then to take a visit to Peterborough, where I spent the first 14 years of my life enduring cold winters with the true spirt of a Canadian.

 In all honesty I  love the beauty of snow and look forward to pass my love of the outdoors and our fabulous seasons to my boys.  There is no bad weather if you dress properly and so with snow pants and "long johns" we bundled up and explored Peterborough beauty with the spirit of fun and adventure racing through us!

Where we stayed and why?

Located In the heart of the Kawarthas, the Holiday Inn Hotel Peterborough Waterfront is ideally situated along the Trent Severn Waterway in the downtown business and shopping district with 60 restaurants within walking distance.

The hotel's central location puts you near the world's highest hydraulic lift lock (with amazing winter skating on the canal as pictured in our video below) and Canada's only Canoe Museum, 1.5 km from our hotel.

 Peterborough is music cultural mecca and hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, such as summer's Musicfest and is home to popular arts facilities, like Showplace Performance Centre. You'll also find some of the best shopping opportunities in downtown Peterborough.

The building you see in the picture is Peterborough's Waterfront Holiday Inn!

From the indoor/outdoor pool and whirlpool to Fitness Centre,  the hotel's amenities keep you entertained. There is a great restaurant Riverside Grill (When you stay at the Holiday Inn Peterborough Waterfront and an adult orders an entree from our regular menu, up to 3 children up to 12 years old can eat free from our Children’s Menu! ). 

Our Fave Feature:  The beautifully warm indoor/outdoor pool (open year round). We soaked up the sun while swimming outside - laughing at the steam coming off us while we did underwater hand-stands! I also loved that all the shopping and restaurants is a close walk with all the amenities you could ever need directly across the street - all this with a beautiful view!

What We Did in 24 hours:

When you Should Go Next:

Anytime you want a family getaway you will enjoy Peterborough Waterfront Holiday Inn (the summer would be amazing too!)  but the friendly front desk staff did tell me they will have fun activities planned during the March Break which includes playing movies on a big screen in the pool area - swimming and movies... ohh my!

Thousands raised for funeral of Toronto boy who died in cold

My heart truly breaks for Elijah and his family after his tragic death. Across my social media feed I see pictures of his beautiful face and feel sadden by his passing.  His vibrant life was just getting started. Like others I wonder how  this could have been prevented?

My son at three also ran out of the house just after dinner in his pyjamas with no shoes in the spring. My neighbour who happened to be looking out the window saw him and chased him down as I too ran out the door in pursuit of him. My son was rescued before anything tragic happened but luck could have swung the other way just like with this sweet boy.

I  was happy to see that money has been raised to help give this boy a funeral. It makes me smile when I see that #socialforgood prevails with viral stories such as this.

Content source: Herald News

While the family of a Toronto toddler who died after spending hours in the frigid cold was making funeral arrangements, police charged the mother of another boy after the child was found wandering naked outside in the city’s west end.

The four-year-old boy was found Friday afternoon by a neighbour “just in enough time” and appeared to be all right, Toronto police Const. Jenniferjit Sidhu said.

The child was supposed to be at home, she said, and his mother has been charged with abandoning a child under 10.

The arrest came a day after three-year-old Elijah Marsh died after spending hours in the bitter cold wearing only a shirt, a diaper and boots.

The heartbreaking story is prompting an outpouring of generosity from across the country.
Elijah walked out of the building early Thursday and he was found about six hours later in the corner of a nearby backyard. He was taken to hospital and police announced his death several hours later.
The news of Elijah’s death was a “gut-wrenching moment” for Justin Kozuch, 36, a Toronto man who has a three-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.

Kozuch said the tragedy really hit home, prompting him to start a fundraising campaign on Tilt.com to help raise money for the boy’s funeral.

“As a parent we go to the ends of the earth to protect our children,” he said. “For me, it was absolutely heartbreaking.”

As of Friday afternoon, more than $118,000 had already been raised, a response Kozuch calls “wonderful.” Tilt.com is waiving all credit card fees for those who contribute.

Kozuch said he plans to meet with Elijah’s family soon, although he doesn’t yet know what he’ll say to them when he offers them the money raised.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” he said.

On the pavement in front of the apartment building where Elijah was last seen alive, people left flowers and stuffed animals in memory of the little boy with the braided hair and happy smile. And someone left a winter coat and snow pants.

Some contributors shared their thoughts after making a donation.

“This broke my heart,” said Jennifer Yearwood. “It’s the least I could do for that sweet little boy, Elijah.”

“The generosity of people in times of such great loss and tragedy is heartwarming,” said Dawn MacDonald. “God bless Elijah. You are now with the angels dear little man.”

Mike Colle, who represents the riding in the provincial legislature, said he was bringing food and coffee over to the boy’s family Friday afternoon.

Colle said he has contacted the local school trustee and the wheels are in motion to have Elijah’s nearby daycare renamed after the boy.

“We can grieve, we can help with the funeral, we can do all this, but at least let’s try and make a bit of a positive thing out of here,” Colle said.

Security camera video showed Elijah pushing his way through two doors and leaving his grandmother’s apartment building at about 4 a.m. Thursday when temperatures had fallen to about -20 C.

Family members, who notified police of his disappearance at about 7:30 a.m., said they had put him to bed Wednesday night and woke up to find him gone and the front door open, police said.
Officers on horseback, foot and in a helicopter searched for him, and police asked neighbours to check their yards, hallways and stairwells for the missing youngster.

Police Chief Bill Blair called it “a tragic set of circumstances.”

Meanwhile, police said another three-year-old boy was found wandering outside naked in the city’s west end Friday afternoon as the frigid temperatures rose to -15 C. The boy is well and the mother has been located, police said.

@GreatWolfLodge in Niagara Falls a Surprisingly Relaxing Mini-Getaway

Great Wolf Lodge

If you are looking for a family staycation getaway look no further then Great Wolf Lodge . With Family Day around the corner (and a long weekend too) why not spend some quality bonding with  kids and enjoying waterslides.  Plus you can even get some time to yourself parents with activities such as the "No Parents Club" - sounds like "Fun for Parents Club to me"! I have returned yet another time after my initial visit because my kids are IN LOVE with the place and are all too happy to spend their beloved birthday money on the cause! I love it because of the relaxed nature of Great Wolf Lodge - any place where I can hang out in my PJ's in the hallways is top notch in my mind.




Great Wolf Lodge Newbie Tips

  • MagiQuest  - We had heard about the water park in advance but it wasn't until our 5 year cousin told us all about MagiQuest that we realized one of the huge draws to Great Wolf Lodge. With a magic wand in-hand, you’ll explore an enchanted kingdom and join in the ultimate adventure as you enchant objects, befriend a pixie, learn from an ancient wizard, battle a goblin and outwit a dragon. We guarantee this live-action adventure game is unlike any other you’ve ever played. You’re sure to become legendary when the getaway you planned becomes epic. Bottom Line: Be prepared that your kids will want to play this game as it gives them tweenhood independence - hide it from the 5 year old if you don't want to "quest" yourself. You must purchase the wands but they are reusable for when you come back. Opened to 11 pm daily. Both the kids have a wand now - and the cost is now less expensive since we get to use it when they returned.
  • Water Park  - It is crazy amazing. We all had a blast. All adults and kids need fun - this place delivers big time! When I needed quiet time I went to the 16+ swim outside outdoor  hot tub. The snow fell at night making it super peaceful. The Water park is open to 9 pm nightly. Evening is great for the water park  as it is easier to get on all the slides quickly.
Great Wolf Lodge WaterPark
  • Rooms come with microwave and good sized fridges - don't bring microwave popcorn with you though it is strictly forbidden. Not a big deal for us as we stopped eating that a long time ago. There is a good grocery store Zehrs close by to fill up on fruits and snacks.
  • Prices at the snack bars in the pool are very reasonable - the food isn't super nutritious but the options are reasonable which we aren't expecting including a drink for mom while dad is on duty!
  • The staff are very nice and well trained - everyone goes out of their way to be helpful.
  • Travel mid week to maintain sanity! When we left Saturday mid day I found it PACKED so I was glad that we arrived for our stay on a Thursday night.
  • Evening Story Time a big hit - A time when the pool area is very quiet! Morning Wolf Walk is fun and keeps the attention of the preschoolers - our boys our five and 10 weren't all too interested.  I think I was more excited to go then there were sadly
  • There is more to do then you can manage in a 1-2 night trip. We focused on the water park for the most. We were so impressed by the quality of the life-guarding. Safety is number one for sure.
  • Having a birthday? Let staff know - they put birthday banners on the door and announce child's name at story time!
  • Casual is cool! I love that PJ's is acceptable for walking around the hotel, also  the hotel is really quite small to let the older kids have fun exploring on their own when completing MagiQuest.
  • We had a room with separate bunk bed quarters (see below)  perfect for the three birthday party boys. The kids loved this! Our youngest was on a the pull out couch - so we had plenty of room
  • Consider a late check out - we utilized it to the very end!


GreatWolf Wands

 Upcoming Fun at Great Wolf Lodge - Niagara Falls Worth Checking Out:

How to Travel Safe when Eating in Exotic Locations #DukoralContest

Dukoral Canada Facebook Contest #DukoralContest

GTA Parent Writer: Rob Mitchell @BobEEats

As much as I may pride myself on being born with an 'iron stomach' or a streamlined constitution, every condition has its limits. I certainly consider myself an adventurous traveller ( hint: What to know what kind of traveler you are? Take the quiz now)

For a tumultuous period of my life I spent an above average amount of time travelling, mostly for business and quite often in far-off locales. Everyone has to eat, breath and navigate their way through whatever situation they may be in. For me, the best part of any foreign destination was the adventure of tasting different, tantalizing and authentic meals.  The 'authentic' part, while a key distinguisher for uniqueness, is also the element that can test those limits on that iron constitution and become the price to pay for the privilege of enjoying some of the world’s most exotic foods.
I've always subscribed to the same philosophy of the outspoken Chef, writer and TV personality, Anthony Bourdain. He articulates that statistically, in order to experience truly amazing tastes you will have to endure that odd time when you suffer the consequences of a constitution-clearing episode that will make you curse Mother Nature herself.  The flip-side to Bourdain’s philosophy is that those tastes are totally worth it - and statistically you should be able to recover and live to enjoy another fantastic meal. 
Taipei, 2009 was a testament to understanding those limits and learning lessons about 'authenticity'.  After travelling through various cities in far east countries with a like minded colleague, I met my match in a bustling night market alley. We were just stepping out of a grueling meeting with Chinese executives and so tired and hungry that we foolishly picked a little noodle stand because it was the one without a line-up. Now, he and I were used to ditching other workmates that stuck to boring hotel bound offerings to elbow our way through a crowd of locals at busy street stands to chow down.  'Street food', particularly in Asia, is where you will find the greatest, most experiential life and palette changing tastes. Frequenting them is how familiarity can lead you to make poor decisions - like dining at the stand that others don't want to wait for.
Food pit stops on one of the many tours of China


Lesson 1

My colleague Chris, had sharper instincts that evening and made the safest choice, marinara on fettuccini. I on the other hand, still driven by my pervasive quest for 'palette expansion', chose some kind of fish and pickles noodle dish - this was the only time that Chris and I had a different dish from the other in 4 days (lots of shared plates in them parts...). The evening ended uneventfully enough and I made my way to my hotel room to grab as much sleep as I could before having to catch a 7:00AM flight to Hong Kong in the coming morning. 
It kicked in at about 8:10PM, just as I was finishing off a quick report back to HQ on how the day's meetings went. It started as an unnatural knock at my abdomen that let me know that something in there wanted out! Uh oh, you know you're in trouble when you rapidly progress from too hot to too cold and gurgles lead to rumbles. A quick call to Chris affirmed that he was alright, the fish and pickles dish was 'too authentic' for me and that I needed to brace myself for a night on the 'flip-side'.  There's nothing as lonely, disorienting or unsettling as having to spend an entire night 'clearing house' when you're not at home.  There was not a position my body could contort into that would lead to a full minute of feeling comforted. Whatever blade the fish pickle bug was stabbing me with from the inside was both sharp and dull and attacking me like a prison shanking. I tried to find the strength to drink enough water so I could toss it back out again and my dickhead boss kept pinging me about receiving the report on the day's meeting (he never ate anything but diet coke and snickers bars, no matter where he was..).  This most memorable, dark and painful travel eats experience went on throughout the night and did not end until well after touch down in Hong Kong the next day. It left me in a compromised state to get through that day's meetings and shutter at the thought of what would have been an amazing Cantonese lunch (missed expansion opportunity). 
Lesson 2
I learned lessons about limits, endurance and how to trust that spending a bit of time to line up with the locals is totally worth it after all. Despite surviving the harrowing day, I still hadn't eaten in about 24 hours and dinner in Hong Kong that evening was yakatori chicken skewers, served rare (yes, rare) at a popular little tucked away place along with a couple of locals that recommended it. It was one of those meals that forever changed how I viewed culture, food and existence on whole - totally worth it, totally.
If I had it to do over
I might have considered taking Dukoral before departing for my business trips so that I could eat with less worry.  I could have saved myself the excruciating pain and lack of sleep during extremely packed business travel. ( I still cringe at the thought of yogurt I ate while in India that caused me to have crazy diarrhea)
New Delhi Business Trip
New Delhi Business Trip

You can win a $1000 Air Canada gift card to get you traveling or a Go Pro Camera.  Be sure to SHARE with your friends for extra entries and have a chance to win one of 6 weekly prizes of a $100 Neutrogena Travel Pack. 
dukoral, traveller's diarrhea, runs while travelling, dukoral contest, canadianmomeh, top canadian mom blogger, top canadian blogger

About Dukoral:
DUKORAL®* is indicated for the prevention of and protection against travellers’ diarrhea and/or cholera in adults and children 2 years of age and older who will be visiting areas where there is a risk of contracting travellers’ diarrhea caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) or cholera caused by V. cholerae. Protection against diarrhea caused by ETEC starts about one week after the 2nd dose and lasts for about 3 months. Protection against cholera starts about one week after the 2nd dose and last for about 2 years for patients over 6 years of age. A booster dose is required beyond 3 months for travellers’ diarrhea and 6 months (patients 2 to 6 years of age) or 2 years (patients over 6 years of age) for cholera.
To help you remember when to take your dose, you can download a free app for your smartphone here. This app will program the dates for each dose into your smartphone, so you can check one more item off of your to-do list.

Where to get Dukoral?

Vaccines411.ca is a useful website which may help you find a location that offers DUKORAL®. Other locations may be offering this vaccine. Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional, including your pharmacist.

Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional, including your pharmacist, today to find out how to help protect yourself against travellers’ diarrhea and if DUKORAL® is right for you.

You do not need a prescription for DUKORAL® for protection against travellers’ diarrhea, unless you are a Quebec resident. In Canada, if you are taking DUKORAL® for protection against cholera, the vaccine does require a prescription. DUKORAL® is available at your pharmacy, doctor’s office or travel clinic. The DUKORAL® vaccine must be stored in a refrigerator at 2° to 8°C.
For protection against travellers’ diarrhea, a primary immunization requires 2 doses taken orally at least 1 week (up to 6 weeks) apart, with the last dose taken at least 1 week before travel. Full dosing information is available: http://www.dukoralcanada.com/taking-dukoral
Did you Know?
Over half of travellers’ who visit high-risk destinations like Mexico, the Caribbean and Africa will be affected by travellers’ diarrhea caused by Enterotoxigenic E. Coli (ETEC). However a recent survey has revealed that four out of five (79 per cent) Canadians are not as travel savvy as they should be about the potential causes, symptoms and risks of an ETEC infection. Bacterial enteropathogens, such as ETEC, are thought to cause approximately 80 per cent of cases of travellers’ diarrhea, which is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms including fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. 

@TELUS Making a Difference to Families in GTA with Community Gardening Initiatives

GTA Parent Writer: Rob Mitchell @BobEEats

I'd heard about the TELUS community garden project in passing and never really gave it too much thought beyond, 'seems like a nice idea'.  That underappreciated notion was realized when I got an opportunity to view the gardens first hand and most especially, taste the product of this awesome endeavour. As with many corporate office environments in a city's downtown, the TELUS building has the staples of a slick functional modern working environment. What makes the TELUS work space stand out is how the gardens are integrated into the scene-scape of the entire environment. It really lends itself to an interjection of nature's beauty and bounty.  Right away the space around the garden was inviting and there were areas created to take up that invitation.  A few seating areas to chat, another few to lean about and take in the magnitude of the city; all within the construct of living growing flavour. 

Here are some Pictures from Our Evening:

It would have been a fine enough evening on its own, just explore around the garden setting and learn more about what the TELUS team had been growing but there was more….  A dining area was set up with numerous plates of the same veggies I was checking out minutes ago in mid-grow, prepared to be eaten by invited guests.  The most novel part was that the preparer of the spread was the charismatic Chef Massimo Capra who was effortlessly transforming the fresh produce into elegant antipastos. A small team was also in the wings readying the sea bream fish fillets that were to be paired with the garden feast.   I tasted everything, bent the ear of the Chef and learned a ton.

I was extremely impressed with the TELUS vision and execution of the evening and the unveiling of the award winning environmental, charitable and sustainability practices through:
  •  Battery Recycling
  • Solid Waste Diversion
  •  Supporting local food programs such as Green Thumbs Growing Kids through the TELUS new Roof Top Garden
  • Roof Top Sustainability Garden:
    • The rooftop garden at TELUS House Toronto was created to maximize the green space at the building and generate fresh, local, organic produce for team members and local charitable organizations including Toronto-based charity, Green Thumbs Growing Kids in addition to giving team members a chance to learn about sustainability through educational workshops and hands-on learning.
      • TELUS House Toronto has paved the way for the next phase of the company’s corporate urban gardens across the country.
        • TELUS Garden, the company’s LEED-platinum-certified head office in Vancouver, opens later this year and TELUS recently broke ground on TELUS Sky in Calgary, another LEED-platinum development.
    • TELUS’ Green Team network of team members  have passionately volunteered their time to promote environmentally sustainability
    • Encouraging team members to address climate change and reduce their carbon footprint
    • Minimizing consumption of resources
    • Reducing pollution generated and enhancing waste diversion programs
    • Promoting green commuting initiatives such as telework, public transit, biking and carpooling
    • One of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies in the World by Corporate Knights four times since 2009
    • Here is representation of solid waste diverted from landfills  and recycling efforts:

    batteries recycled

    Additional information on TELUS projects can be found here:

Attend a FREE @ChevroletCanada Safe and Sure workshop to learn more about Car Seat Safety! #Chevysafe

Safe and sure

ChevroletSafe and Sure Child Car Seat Installation Workshops, offered in partnership with Parachute Canada, give you the guidance needed to help keep your child safe by reducing the risk of preventable injuries.

These no-charge workshops are for parents, grandparents, and other caregivers and provide hands-on instruction on how to properly install and use a child’s car seat. From rear-facing to front-facing to booster, you’ll learn from trained technicians the correct way to install the seat that’s right for your child. Safe and Sure Chevrolet Car Seat Installation Workshops are now available at participating dealerships in Toronto. Register at www.safeandsure.ca for any of the three remaining workshops.

  • November 15 – Legatt Chevrolet Buick GMC – (360 Rexdale Blvd, Etobicoke, ON M9W 1R7, Canada)
  • November 29 – Budd’s (410 South Service Rd West, Oakville, Ontario, L6K 2H4)
 Join the Conversation and Connect with Chevrolet Canada on Twitter at @ChevroletCanada  #ChevySafe

Register Now