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

Home Services in a "Jiffy"? There's an App for that!

Fall is here, and while the changing leaves are beautiful to look at, cleaning them up can be a nightmare. Then there’s your furnace, which you should probably get serviced before the cold hits; you might want to have your car detailed after your labour day road trip with the family; the carpets need a good shampooing and you should probably get the barbecue cleaned before you cover it for winter. How will you possibly find the time to get everything done?

Convenient Scheduling Solutions

Toronto startup Jiffy has the solution - the web and mobile app connects you with service providers in real time, based on proximity and availability. Imagine having your service needs met all in one place, by pre-vetted pros, with transparent fair prices and exactly when you want, all billed to your credit card on file? Jiffy offers just that, along with a satisfaction guarantee.

My Experience with Scheduling Home Services - My Furnace

I had the opportunity to test out Jiffy and I was really impressed by how easy the service was to use. I signed up for the account and used the scheduling app on my phone to choose my service and time in just a few minutes. Then I received an email from the heating service provider who asked me when specifically it would be convenient to have the call scheduled. Canada Climate Service's Mike showed up on time and was extremely personable. I loved that he gave us suggestions that had never been offered in previous furnace cleaning appointment like switching to a smaller furnace in the future to save money on our gas bill. He also checked to make sure that there was no potential for carbon monoxide leaks (beyond just our detector). I also received an e-mail after the service visit to ensure I was happy with the outcome of the service call. I was!  Based off the quality of the service repair person that was sent I would definitely use the Jiffy on Demand service again.

Jiffy On Demand - My Scheduling Hero

What sets Jiffy apart is the all-in-one, on demand platform offering over 20 services, including plumbing, electrical, appliance repair, heating and cooling, and many more. Customers can connect with nearby professionals all in the palm of their hand or by visiting online at jiffyondemand.com. It’s as simple as requesting the service you need on the app or on their website. Jiffy takes care of the rest, so there's no uncertainty on the timeframe, the cost, or the service provider.

Jiffy is now servicing customers in the Greater Toronto Area, with plans for expansion in early 2016. The app is currently available for iOS in the App Store, or on the web. For a full list of services and more information, visit jiffyondemand.com.

Family Move With Kids? Ten Tips For a Tantrum-Free Transition #theredpin

2015 CNE Amps Up the FUN

NEW: XPogo Stunt Team, Parkour Demonstrations, Craft Beer Fest,
and Star-Studded Concert Series Featuring Alan Doyle, Chubby Checker,
Rick Springfield, Cody Simpson, Dallas Smith and more!

The 137th edition of the Canadian National Exhibition marks the culmination of a spectacular summer in the city of Toronto.  The excitement and thrills continue following the closing ceremonies of the Pan Am Games with Canada’s largest and favourite fair, the CNE, which runs August 21 – September 7, 2015.  New and exhilarating attractions join many returning favourites in the 2015 CNE line-up including an all-new Craft Beer Festival in the heart of the Food Truck Frenzy, performances by Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir starring in a new Acrobatic & Ice Skating Show Bon Voyage!, the gravity-defying XPogo Stunt Team, and feel the adrenaline RUSH with Parkour demonstrations showcasing the extreme sport of free-running and leaping from buildings and urban spaces.

CNE MEDIA ACCREDITATION IS NOW OPEN: All media must submit an online accreditation request form at http://holmespr.com/media-accreditation/cne-2015.  Deadline to apply is August 28th, 2015.


NEW – XPogo Stunt Team:  Be awed as the best extreme pogo performance team takes to the CNE grounds to perform flips and tricks on next-generation pogo sticks that can bounce up to 9 feet in the air!

NEW – West Coast Lumberjack Show: This “chock-a-block” 45-minute show features mighty lumberjacks who will compete and showcase high-energy stunts including: Axe Throwing, Chainsaw Carving, Underhand Chop, Pole Climbing and Log Birling on water!

Food Truck Frenzy:  The CNE hosts one of Canada’s largest food truck rallies on August 28 – August 30. Foodies can rejoice in unique offerings from 23 of Toronto’s trendiest food innovators featuring internationally inspired fare and indulgent treats that have become part of the CNE experience.

NEW – Craft Beer Fest:  Enjoy a refreshing cold one in the heart of the Food Truck Frenzy featuring 11 regional master craft brewers.

NEW – RUSH: Parkour Demonstrations: Witness the excitement of Parkour, the sport of free-running, jumping, climbing, and vaulting through urban obstacle courses and buildings. Set to high-energy music, the show features athletes from Toronto’s Monkey Vault Training Movement Centre whose movements are as fluid as they are rigorous.

NEW – Concerts:  Catching a concert at the CNE Bandshell is the best way kick-start an evening at the Fair. This year’s line-up spans the entire musical spectrum, headlining some of music’s hottest acts including Alan Doyle, Cody Simpson, Brett Kissel, Tokyo Police Club, MKTO, Dallas Smith to name a few, as well as classic icons America, Chubby Checker, Rick Springfield and Foghat. All concerts are FREE with admission!

NEW – Bon Voyage! Acrobatic & Ice Skating Show: Canadian ice dancers and Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir star in a new Acrobatic & Ice Skating Show inside Ricoh Coliseum.  Performing twice daily throughout the run of the Fair, the theatrical skating show is complemented by a stunning aerial acrobatic showcase featuring the husband and wife team Karen Goudreault and Dominic Lacasse, aka “The Flag Man,” who has appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and America’s Got Talent.

Northern Comfort Saloon: Back by popular demand, the CNE’s country music bar is always bustling with young crowds, great music, comfort food, cold refreshments, and a saloon staple: the mechanical bull!  Performances by country artists Kelly Prescott, Jaydee Bixby and Cory Marquardt to name a few, are sure to get the line dancing started.

Yate Dance & Acrobatic Team:  One of the most dynamic acrobatic acts to hit the CNE International Stage, the Yate Dance & Acrobatic Team will captivate audiences with their sheer gymnastic power, artistry, dance and theatrical costumes.  Performances include human pyramids, contortion, and an amazing hula-hoop act that will leave visitors in awe.

NEW – The Tivoli Youth Guard:  The 100 boys (aged 8 to 16 years) who make up The Tivoli Youth Guard are the most recent incarnation of a tradition that began in 1844 to celebrate the opening of Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli Gardens.  An iconic symbol recognized far beyond Denmark’s borders, The Tivoli Youth Guard regularly travels around the world to entertain audiences in full pageantry (characteristic uniform of bearskin hats, red jackets and white trousers) to represent Denmark’s unique sound.

Celebrity Chef Stage:  Canada’s top chefs take to the stage inside the Enercare Centre, formerly Direct Energy Centre, to share tips, cooking demos and their diverse culinary perspectives with foodies alike. Chefs Lynn Crawford, Bob Blumer, Michael Smith, Chuck Hughes and Vikram Vij are some of the food superstars participating.

Celebrity Butter Sculptures:  The art of carving butter into beautiful sculptures and life-sized replicas will be showcased in The Farm. This year’s theme of “celebrities” features iconic stars of film, television and pop culture.

The PC Financial Sky Ride: The Sky Ride returns to the CNE, extending 40 feet above ground, transporting riders across the grounds with breathtaking panoramic views of The Midway, Lake Ontario, and the Toronto skyline.
NEW – HollyWoof: The President’s Choice SuperDogs Show: The SuperDogs return to the Enercare Centre for a brand-new blockbuster show celebrating all things Hollywood, from movie soundtracks to storytelling magic.

Kids’ World: A wonderland designed just for kids with amusement rides, onstage entertainment and animals in the park. A fun-filled day includes pizza-making and art studio at the KidStreet Interactive Zone, performances of Peter Pan and Cinderella by DuffleBag Theatre Company, appearances by popular characters like Applejack, Barbie and SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as daily performances by Splash’N Boots.

KINDER® SURPRISE® Interactive Zone:  KINDER® is making family time more fun with an interactive Smile Booth offering souvenir keepsake photos to capture memories at the CNE, as well as the KINDER® Smile Play Zone and much more at Kids’ World, presented by KINDER® SURPRISE®.

66th Annual Canadian International Air Show:  The Canadian International Air Show (CIAS) soars over Lake Ontario Labour Day weekend for another awe-inspiring show featuring amazing feats of aerobatics.

DATES:                         August 21 – September 7, 2015

LOCATION:                  Exhibition Place, Toronto, ON

TICKET PRICES:           

Before Aug. 20:         
General Adult Admission                                             $14 ($4 savings)
Ride All Day Pass**                                                     $38 ($20 savings)
*Savings calculated based on General Admission.
**Includes grounds admission and unlimited midway rides.

Aug. 21 – Sept. 7:      
General Admission (14-64)                                          $18
Adults 65 & Better                                                        $15
Children (13 and under)                                               $15
Children 4 and under                                                    FREE
CNE Family Pass                                                         $52
(2 adults & 2 children or 1 adult & 3 children)

Ride All Day Pass                                                         $40 (rides only; does not include admission)


Before the CNE:       

Online at TheEx.com
At participating Pizza Pizza restaurants (walk-in only)
At GO Transit stations and Union Station
CNE Gift Card Tickets will also be available in major grocery stores within the GTA

During the CNE:       

Online at TheEx.com
At GO Transit Stations and Union Station
Onsite at the CNE gates

WEBSITE:            www.TheEx.com

About the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)
The Canadian National Exhibition is Canada’s largest fair and one of the top 10 exhibitions in North America. The CNE generates an economic impact of approximately $69.3 million for the Greater Toronto Area and $102.3 million for the province of Ontario each year. It is celebrated as the “greenest” fair in North America. In 2014, the CNE attracted 1.43 million visitors over its 18-day run.

Learning with Adventure Delivered to Your Doorstep - ImaginaryFriends @IFBooks #readandexplore

As a mom of two boys I can share with you my struggles to keep learning exciting for my boys. Adventure is everything to my guys but their growing up in a technology abundant world has made good old fashion play a challenge.

Stop the Power Struggles and Focus on Win Win.

There have been tears shed over homework, practicing letters and of course the fidgeting and focusing. I have felt guilt and frustration over trying to make my boys fit into the education mold that so often doesn’t work for active learners. I have endured parent meetings where teachers have expressed concern over lack of focus in the classroom, I have worried endlessly if I was doing all I could do.

After years of this I decided it was time to relax. It did happen to coincide over this school year when both my boys had incredible teachers who really seemed to embrace my children for who they were and they have flourished ever since. My oldest is regularly bringing home A’s in grade 5 and my youngest is started to embrace learning in SK because the teachers have played to their strengths. No more power struggles.

Finding Education Solutions through Play and Adventure

So when I was asked to demo an educational product currently part of a Kickstarter campaign, I decided it was a whole hearted yes for me. I didn’t matter that I was busy trying to finish up work projects before the kids got out of school next week. I was going to take on this adventure with my children and I can tell you that it has been worth the time.

Playing with the online starter kit for Imaginary Friends - you can download it too!

As Evan Jones, Founder of Imaginary Friends and Stitch Media said: "I've always been making up stories with my kids," says Evan "And I wanted to build an adventure kit we could work through together." The story of filling a house with play and imagination led to a wonderful creation.

I feel confident that Imaginary Friends will make a lot of reluctant learners shed less tears as we all focus on a mission of making learning an adventure.

Each book is a family adventure and arrives at your home with printed chapters and an activity kit that includes puzzles, secret notes and other ideas to bring the story to life. It's easy to use and starts when parents log on and trigger interactive and real-life activities that coincide with the narrative and make your children a key part of the action.

 My 10 year old, not easily impressed loved the scavenger hunt with the personalized computer driven clues that sent him off looking for clues to a puzzle. The combination of active adventure coupled with the fun personalized computerized action is a hit for boys who are easily hooked to the ipad but also crave good old fashion fun. The comic style covers draw the boys to the books.

Benefits to Children From My Perspective:
  • Opportunities to be creative and spontaneous
  • Active play reduces stress and helps children focus 
  • Amazing opportunity for reluctant readers to enjoy fun reading based activities 
  • Children can learn about entrepreneurship and be part of the development of a product going to market! 

You can help to bring this to Market

Imagine the excitement of telling your children you helped to bring this project to market! How cool would your kids think you were?

Please consider supporting Imaginary Friends Kickstarter project by Friday, June 26th.

Each ‘pledge’ is a pre-order for a ‘reward’. Choose the reward you’d like and enter your credit card – you won’t be charged unless they hit the goal and ship the reward! What could be safer than that? 

Catch the entrepreneurial bug - become a member of the advisor community, feedback will influence the future of Imaginary friends and you can help them choose the next story!

Currently the Kickstarter campaign is $11,000 short of its goal. The Kickstarter campaign site explains what you get when you contribute to the program. Some rewards include free books and a year of free Imaginary Friends adventures.

Try out a FREE sample of Imaginary Friends today! (2 chapters and a scavenger hunt you can print at home.) . Make sure you visit the Imaginary Friends website to get your free downloadable Father’s day cards as well!

Follow them along on social media
: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

Happy playing ... @LeighMitchell, Founder of GtaParent

Ps - Our highlight was howling with laughter at my husbands clues as he hid the scavenger hunt pieces.

Reader's note: This is a sponsored post but I endorse it with love or would choose not to write about it.

@LemonadeForLove 2015 - Teaching your children to be Involved and Engaged through Community Events

Lemonade for Love is a simple home-spun lemonade stand with a super sweet twist. The lemonade stand is a child-driven, parent-supported event. The organizers are children, aged 4-11, that live in the Etobicoke community.
The goal of Lemonade for Love is simple – to build community and raise money. The only requirement placed on the event is that it is about kids helping kids.
This is our second year. In 2014 the kids raised $1300 for the Bravery Bead Program at SickKids.
It’s being run by kids?images
You betcha! Not only is the Lemonade for Love an opportunity to build our community and 
raise funds to support children in need,  it is also a learning opportunity for children! The kids learn about project planning, communication, sponsorship  and philanthropy. They learn how to make decisions, prioritize, and enjoy the act of brainstorming fun and creative ideas!
Our group is diverse – some of the children have volunteered to write articles about the event, and some are getting their super-duper colouring skills on to create beautiful event invitations. No matter what the role, they are working as a community.
Our primary goal is to build our community and our secondary goal is to raise money.