Summer in the City, Indoors

Too hot?  Rainy?  We’ve got you covered for some fun things to do with kids–inside!

Art

My approach to art education is to get kids in front of art early and often.  I’m always amazed at how my kids will respond to what’s in front of them, and, on one trip to the AGO, when they were given white play dough and coloured pencils to take inside, I got inspiration for how to approach museum and gallery visits: create the creations.

Now, whenever we go to a gallery, we take along our sketchbooks and the kids pick a picture, park and draw.  (Check with the gallery to see what materials are allowed.  I once had to buy an expensive set of pencils from the gift shop because our markers were not allowed!)  Having them occupied with their own creations means not only are they inspired to make their own art, but I get time to enjoy the art on display myself.

I can’t say enough good things about the AGO.  There is great programming for kids, and the current Emily Carr exhibit, From the Forest to the Sea, is a great one for families and is included with General Admission.  Younger children will appreciate the bold strokes and colours of her landscapes, and you can talk with your older kids about the haunting emptiness of so many of her paintings: the effects of disease and a mammoth logging industry that came with European colonization.

"Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky" Emily Carr

“Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky” Emily Carr

We recently went to check out the Andy Warhol: Revisited exhibit at a pop-up gallery at 77 Bloor Street West, where you can meet Queen Elizabeth, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse and John Wayne.  The exhibit will rotate over 120 of Warhol’s pieces from the Revolver Gallery over its run, which ends December 31, 2015.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and kids.  Find out more at Warhol Revisited.

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Museums

Right down the street from Andy Warhol is the ROM, where you could spend all of a rainy day and more.  And it’s not just dinosaurs!  Follow up on seeing Emily Carr’s totem poles by seeing two of the real things, housed in the museum stairwell, a three-storey space designed to house them and allow you to get right up close to the amazing work.

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Movies

Next week, we will be reviewing a wordless picture book.  It’s not much of a stretch, really, but what about a wordless movie?!  I took the kids along to see a preview Shaun the Sheep without knowing very much about the series on which the movie was based.  I honestly did not notice that the movie was wordless until about half way through!  The visual gags are so great, and the Claymation so engaging, that I didn’t even notice the absence of dialogue.  We took along a friend who loves the tv show, and he found the movie to be a great extension of the franchise he loves, but, as my experience demonstrates, no previous experience is necessary!  Shaun the Sheep will be released in Canada on August 7.

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is coming up.  It’s Sunday, May 10, and we’ve complied a go-to gift guide for mom whether she’s a glamorous grandma or green thumb, a book lover or a foodie . . . or maybe she’s everything all rolled in to one! Do you see something that catches your eye? Forward along to Dad or the kids . . .or better yet, wait for no one and treat yourself!

From Beth-Anne:

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Mist & Fix from Make Up For Ever is now part of my morning beauty routine. It’s a professional grade alcohol-free setting spray with the texture of water that improves your makeup’s staying power. It’s easy to use – hold it about 40 cm from your face and mist continuously for a few seconds and allow to dry. It smells glorious and leaves my face looking fresh and dewy. (starting at $14)

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This handmade pewter pendant is plated in silver and its message, Live Love Teach by Foxy Originals is the perfect way to describe and thank mom. ($20)

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Alex and Ani create and design eco-conscious jewelery. Their latest collection, Persephone is available at select Hudson’s Bay stores and features bracelets and charms with special meaning. My favourite is Guardian of Answers because aren’t moms the keeper of them?

from Nathalie:

I’m going to depart from my usual “Please don’t buy mothers anything with which to cook or clean” rule and say that I’d love to receive these sets of ombre bowls from President’s Choice and Real Canadian Superstore.  They have them in cool blues and hot reds and oranges, and the colours are just so juicy!

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Ombre mixing bowls from PC $25

Ombre mixing bowls from PC $25

And, now that patio season is finally, finally here, you could gift a mother with this awesome retro cooler chest for the back yard or the beach.

Cooler chest from Tera Gear $149

Cooler chest from Tera Gear $149 at Real Canadian Superstore

One of my favourite things to do in the yard with the kids is to roast marshmallows on the fire.  Somehow, spending an evening that way feels like the most luxurious kind of family time.   No hockey, homework or housework to attend to, just sharing the fire.  We saw this great Hampton Bay fire pit at The Home Depot spring preview.  ($79.98)

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I am asking for a gift of experience this Mother’s Day.  I want us all to go to the McMichael Gallery and look at art and hike the trails around the gallery.  I’d also recommend trips to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the Emily Carr and Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibits, and to the Royal Ontario Museum.  If you think you will visit a museum multiple times, a membership is a wonderful gift.  (For our family of five, a membership costs what we’d pay for just two visits.)  We have family memberships at both museums, and, honestly, it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent.  I get so much use and value out of our memberships.  It feels like true luxury to be able to just pop into the museum for a quick visit, and to see the exhibits multiple times makes me feel like royalty.  I have taken the kids to see the Basquiat twice already.  The first time we sketched, and the second time we used the play dough that all kids can get in a loot bag from the front desk when they go in.  I got to really attend to the art, and the kids kept busy with their interpretations.  Time spent together is the gift I love best.

Youngest's sketch of a Basquiat self-portrait.

Youngest’s sketch of a Basquiat self-portrait.

Middlest's interpretation in play dough.

Middlest’s interpretation in play dough.

 

From Carol

Almost four months ago, noticing I was depleted and in need of a recharge, my husband offered to hold the fort at home while I visit with favourite cousins in California this week.  In what goes down as good old fashioned mistake-making, I did not take him up on this.  At the time, I almost felt too tired to plan for this, and now I’m sitting here in Toronto feeling rather foolish.

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Most of the moms of young kids I know would really relish some free time.  Sometimes with their spouses, or their friends, or alone.  The best gift ever would be sorting out which of these the mom in questions needs most, and try to make it happen.  I bought a Buytopia getaway to Ste. Anne’s Spa in Ontario with this in mind, and Groupon-type offers make short jaunts like this more affordable.
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But the truth is brunch at favourite local haunt (mine is Lady Marmalade on Queen Street East) would be perfectly splendid too.

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May is also the season of growing… if you know a mother who likes to garden, the handmade offerings at Spade and Feather are simple, well made, and gorgeous.  A favourite are the Wild Bee and Insect Houses which translate the essential work of pollination into functional beauty for any garden.  I love them.

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Maximizing space is always on the minds of urban gardeners in particular, and these Felt Wall Planter Envelopes from Spade and Feather are a great option.  They’re eco-friendly (made from Eco-Felt, 100% recycled plastic), easy to hang, and make vertical gardening accessible to everyone.