August 2010

Mambo Italiano

What an exciting weekend at the Covent Garden Market. This weekend brings the Festa Italiana to downtown London. This three-day celebration of Italian food, art, music and dance will be bringing in over 35,000 people to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of the culture of Italy.  This event takes place on August 27, 28, and 29.

Here are some of the activities you will find at the festival:

  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Story-telling
  • Italian art exhibits
  • Patio Bar
  • Fashion shows
  • Italiana Farmer’s Market
  • Music by Orchestra Italiana London
  • Children’s activities
  • Amazing Italian cuisine

The festival runs from 11am – Midnight each day (11pm on Sunday).  Hope to see you there!

Ciao!

Great News For the Downtown Core

Hot off the press…I’m excited to share:  LTC Pilot Project

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My Husband the Superhero

My Husband the Superhero

Image credit: SFerdon/shutterstock.com

He doesn’t wear a cape, he can’t fly and he doesn’t have superhuman strength, but in the eyes of my little girl, her Daddy is a superhero! The term ‘daddy’s girl’ is an understatement in reference to Little S. It all begins and ends with Daddy; and for good reason. My husband is a hero…to us at least.

Their kindred relationship blossomed right from the start. I remember the first day we brought Little S home from the hospital; I was having a very difficult time with breastfeeding, S wouldn’t latch and I was taking it personally. You carry a child for nine months; scrutinize everything that goes into your body; take your prenatal vitamins; deliver your child through a grueling labour, look your little miracle in the eye, fall in love and then you begin to breastfeed.

It’s as easy and natural as that…or is it? For most of us I don’t believe it is. I was heart-broken that everything I had envisioned was not going as planned. So there I was, devastated and crying while my child was rejecting me (or so it felt) and making it clear by using those tiny, tiny lungs to expel every bit of energy she could to muster up a scream. Naturally I pass my helpless child to my husband and she stops. A coincidence? It appears not because the two and half years that have followed have fallen in line with this same theme.

Recently, while we were at the park, Little S witnessed a little girl (who was alone) crying and she asked me if the child was crying because she was missing her Daddy, not her Mommy, but her Daddy. It’s Daddy Little S wants to comfort her when she is scared and who she runs to when she gets hurt. It’s Daddy who she desires to read bedtime stories and to brush her teeth. When we walk in the front door and Daddy is not home Little S will smother his image in our family photo that sits on our console table with kisses when all I got when I picked her up was hug.

Though some days this hurts my ego, most days I am thankful for their special bond, and while I am not exaggerating this story, I am leaving out the love and affection I also receive from our not so little bundle of joy. Though most days little S does show a favouritism for my husband, I know she loves us both the same in her own way.

I believe that the relationship a father and daughter have is a very important one; I feel that a strong, healthy relationship of this sort will help to establish standards for my daughter and create the measuring stick to which she will make her judgement and choices by. We are our children’s first role models after all. There’s no job more difficult or important.

Perhaps my husband hides his mask and cape under our bed and there is a strong  possibility that he knows where the Bat Cave really is because recently I learned something about him;  he really is a superhero…and after all these years I only just figured it out!

City Mom

Dog Days of Summer…Literally

What’s going on this weekend in London?  Well for dogowners and lovers alike the place to be is Pawlooza!

What is it?:Ontario’s most unique and dog-friendly festival experience.
When is it?:  Saturday August 21st from 10 AM – 6 PM.
Where is it?:  Plunkett Estate 9282 Elviage Drive London, ON N6K 4N5
Cost: Admission is free. Parking costs $10/car and proceeds go to the two Pawlooza charities, Animal Rescue Foundation Ontario & Leads
What You Can Expect: “Take your dog dock diving, go trailwalking, go swimming in the Pawlooza pond, test your dog’s agility in the FunZone, get trick advice, get obedience advice, get readings from a pet psychic, learn about pet first aid, watch agility demonstrations, watch the Jack Russell races… shop from 100 vendors, load up on free samples, watch dozens of doggie demonstrations and events happening throughout the day. We’ve packed as much fun into one day as possible… there isn’t a better place to spoil your dog! “1

For the little ones (children I mean) there is an all day children’s area where the Children’s Museum will be hosting a variety of activities which include arts & crafts contests, prizes etc.

Hope to see you there! :)

1. www.pawlooza.com

A Tale of Two Cities

Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to take a two-week vacation from work with my husband and daughter.  Given our recent move and the cost associated with it, we had to make our holiday a ‘stay-cation’.  We enjoyed some wonderful family time.  We ventured out on a few day treks to the beach, enjoyed the city’s wonderful parks, pools and splash pads and spent a few days in Toronto.  It was my time spent in T.O. that prompted this week’s post and a spotlight on a former City Mom.

As I have mentioned before, my husband and I owned a condo in downtown Toronto.  This was pre parenthood, pre monthly diaper budget, pre supplementary clothing and food budget, pre RESP savings plan contributions and the list goes on.  When we learned of my  pregnancy we put the wheels in motion to move back to London despite loving our Toronto locale.  Our main reason was  to be closer to our families.  After all, it is said that it takes a village to raise a child and the extra support is always a good thing.  Financial reasons were a big factor as well.  We needed an extra bedroom and the price of a large three bedroom house in London was far less than a 2 bedroom condo in Toronto.  I toyed with the idea that this unknown baby, once she arrived,  could sleep in our + 1 (den) but reality set in and we made the move. 

From time to time I envision what it would be like for the three of us living in the big city and as we were driving into Toronto for our second time in two weeks I realized some things.  I could not and would not deal with the traffic in the big city.  Anyone who has been stuck in a car with a screaming child for any amount of time would be able to appreciate what I am talking about.    I don’t imagine that I would enjoy being a city mom in T-dot as much as I do in London.  I wonder why that is.  What are the differences between a city like London and a city like Toronto?  Is London a more family friendly city or does this come down to personal preference and specific location within the respective city?  I wanted to dig a little deeper on this topic so I looked within my social group to find the answer.  I decided to interview one of my nearest and dearest friends to gain an alternate perspective.

 Spotlight on a Former City Mom 

Erika is the mother of an adorable 18 month old girl.  Erika is originally from London but is an experienced urbanite;  living most recently in Toronto and Vancouver before that.

QYou were a city mom for almost a year before you moved away from the city for a more suburban location.  What were your reasons for this move?
A:  We lived in the heart of downtown Toronto.  Although it was a great location in terms of amenities, it was loud and I found it to be dangerous.  For example, we had prostitutes working at the corner of our place and a youth centre a block and a half from where we lived. The elementary schools and high schools in the area had a history of violence.  There have been shootings and stabbings in the area and I was not comfortable with little E growing up in a neighbourhood with the type of young people who hung around the area.  I was certainly not comfortable with the idea of little E walking around downtown Toronto by herself when she got older. 

 QCan you highlight the benefits of your new location in comparison to your city location?
A:

  • Currently, we live in a beautiful neighbourhood.  It is quiet, there are lots of kids in the area and everyone is very friendly (people actually say hi when they walk by.  Unlike Toronto where everyone is in too much of a rush to notice anything).  There are parks, trails and all the amenities we could ever need all within walking distance.  I am much more comfortable walking around my new neighbourhood at night (by myself or with little E) than I ever was in Toronto
  • The schools in our new neighbourhood have a great reputation for education and safety.  This is very important for both myself and my husband.  We want little E to have the opportunity to have a good education and extra curricular activities within the area she lives.
  • I like that there are lots of parks and ponds were we live now.  In Toronto there were parks that I used to walk though but there were a lot of homeless people sleeping on the ground and on the benches.  I’m glad little E was too young to remember that.  The parks were nice looking (in terms of trees and flowers) but not nice for her to run around in.
  • I couldn’t find many programs for moms and tots in Toronto.  When we moved to our new location there were tons of programs.  Little E and I were busy everyday doing different things.  In Toronto, if I did not take little E for walks or go to the mall we were pretty much stuck in our apartment.
  • I enjoy having a backyard now.  Little E can play there while we are in the house cooking dinner and watching her from our kitchen.  In Toronto, we lived in an apartment.  It had a nice roof top but it was not child safe and I certainly would not let little E up there alone.  We did have a balcony but it was not the same as a nice quite backyard that we have now (with grass and toys for her to play with).  I am excited for little E’s first winter where we can build snowmen in the backyard.

 QCan you highlight the cons of your new location in comparison to the city?
A:  My daughter goes to school here in town, and both my husband and I work in Toronto so it is far from where we work.  We spend a total of three hours commuting each day and we are away from her for roughly ten hours a day.

QDo you miss anything about the city?
A:  I miss the convenience of getting to and from work and the easy access to all the amenities (shopping, theatre, restaurants, city events etc.) that Toronto has to offer.

QWhat were your views regarding living in Toronto pre-baby?
A:  I loved living in the city.  I loved being able to meet friends after work or on the weekend and go to bars, restaurants, etc. and all within walking distance from where we lived.  I loved the fast paced environment of Toronto as well.

QWould you have considered remaining in the city in a place like London had you lived in a similar building after having a child?
A:   I never really thought about it.  London has some great neighbourhoods that are very close to downtown London.  I would consider living in an area like Old North,  but not right on Talbot or Richmond Street (in the heart of London) for example.  I like the quiet.  I do not like living on busy streets anymore.  It is not only noisy but it is not safe for little E to run around.  I don’t have to worry about cars zipping through were we live now.  The only cars that come on our street are the ones that live on our street ( which is not that many).  I like looking outside my window and seeing old trees and lots of greenery as seen in suburbia.  Urban locations do not have the same richness.

QWould you move back to Toronto?
A:  No.  I really liked downtown Toronto but not to raise a family.

After reviewing Erika’s responses I am no better off than when I began my investigation.  The results are inconclusive due mainly to the fact that my sample group only had one person in it.  Her answers are subjective and based on the particular location she lived in and her personal preferences in general.  Not all areas of downtown would have the same drawbacks or benefits.

Toronto has a larger footprint than London and a much bigger population.  The more people you have the more occurrences of crime, homelessness, etc..   I have concluded that London’s core is set up to cater to  students, young professionals, retirees and families, alike.  There is a child-friendly park located every few blocks.  Many of which include swimming pools and/or splash pads.  Family programs exist in a variety of locations and most of the wonderful events that take place in Victoria Park are family friendly.  Downtown London is also bordered by  some very affluent neighbourhoods which helps to provide quality educational institutions and many extra-curricular activities. 

So I am left with the feeling that I am proud to be a Londoner.  I love this city and all it has to offer.  It’s interesting that after living in London for most of my life, it is only recently that I have come to see it in this light.  Am I finally growing up and learning to appreciate the less complicated things in life?

Thank you to Erika for candidly sharing her opinions.

Living in the ‘Hood’?

Recently I created a post called “Music to my Ears” wherein I discussed the sights and sounds we hear living in the city.  The piece explained how we are used to the chorus of sounds we hear each day and have come to find many of the different sounds to be quite therapeutic.  There was also mention of our building’s concrete walls and how they act as very effective sound barriers.  That is why on one evening last week, we were not initially concerned to hear an unfamiliar sound. 

It was later in the evening and we were all busy with an activity.  My husband was putting Little S to bed, and I was talking on the phone.  When we heard the unusual sound we continued with our task at hand.  When our daughter asked what it was that she had just heard, my husband came up with a quick guess.  The bedtime routine is very fragile at best and I am sure all parents can appreciate that any extra distractions can be disastrous.  He offered the explanation that it was nothing more than a loud car.  This answer seemed to satisfy her and our evening continued, uneventfully.

The next day while catching up on the latest news, I became aware of what took place the prior evening.  The sound we heard was actually three gunshots.  I learned that, thankfully, no one was injured but I did feel a little rattled to find out that what we had heard that night was something so serious and so close to home.  The locale of the incident was not very far from us and it would not have been unusual for my husband to be in that area at that time grabbing something from one of the stores.  This caused me to reflect a little.

My first reaction was something along the lines of an assumption that because we had moved to the city we were inadvertently exposing ourselves to more crime.  I think this is a general assumption of the masses; city = crime.  With this comes the usual worry every parent has when it comes to their children.  Is my child safe?  Is this a safe place for my child to grow up, etc.?

I didn’t take me long during this tornado of thoughts to remember that when we lived in our quiet little suburb, there was a grow-op bust a mere ten doors down from us.  Police tape, news cameras, the whole nine yards.  And that was in a nice, middle-class neighbourhood.  My three stolen cars came to mind as well from back in the day when I lived in the North-West part of London.  I was left with the knowledge that unfortunately, it doesn’t matter where you choose to live; crime finds its way into the richest of rich neighbourhoods, the poorest of the poor and the nicest of nice places to live.  This is a reality in our world and always has been.

Statistically speaking, Ontario actually has the lowest overall crime rate of all the provinces in Canada.  And crime overall in Canada fell roughly 5% in the last few years.  I am no statistics wiz and I’ll admit that I really don’t know much about this topic, but I do know that the more people who live in a given place, the higher the volume of crime there will be.  This just makes sense.  This is why we would see a higher incidence of crime in a city like Toronto than we would here in London.  How do stats like this affect the decisions of families on where to set up shop, where to make a home?  Are there parts of London (or your respective city) that you would choose not to live?  And how knowledgeable are we?  Have we done the research or are we making decisions based on assumptions and generalizations?

I leave you with this question:  what type of neighbour-’hood’ do you live in?  Has the presence or probability of crime affected your decision on where to live?  Why have you chosen to live where you live?

I am left with the feeling summarized above.  We can’t hide from crime but we can do our best to make smart decisions and teach little S to make intelligent choices.  There is nothing that says we are safer in any particular neighbourhood than another.  So for now my ‘hood’ will remain my happy place!

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