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Will There Be Lucky Baby #3? Am I Destined to Become the Michelle Duggar of the North?

Something I’ve been asked many times since having Lily is whether or not we are done having babies. And the honest answer that I always give people is that I truly don’t know. Two seems to be the magic number of kids for many families these days, understandably. The world seems to be built for a family of four – restaurants have a multitude of tables for four when going out to eat, the default number of travellers in a room is four, and the ‘million dollar family’ is one son and one daughter.

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I have been blessed with two healthy kids – one son and one daughter. And I am lucky that I have the ability to have more children, as there are so many women that are not able to. But there is still a part of me that feels sad that this could be my last time nursing a baby throughout a night, my last time dressing a babe in itty bitty baby clothes, or using the infant toys that have been played with by both my children. And those baby snuggles – that is something I will never tire of.  I have a hard time trying to figure out whether these feelings are simple nostalgia or a sign that we’re not finished growing our family.

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I am a woman that is usually very in tune with myself – I trust my gut, and I trust my instinct. But in this case, I just don’t trust my feelings, as they flip flop every other day. The thought of never being pregnant again makes me feel sad (and my pregnancies were far from ideal), and my babies weren’t magic unicorn babies that were easy-peasy (there were actually family members that were surprised we got pregnant after caring for colicky Andrew). So why the confusion?

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I have spent a lot of time chatting with other moms about this, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer or consensus. Some moms I have talked to say that ‘they just knew’ when they were finished having babies, whether it was at one kid or four. I haven’t gotten “that” feeling yet, so does that mean I’m not finished with baby-making? I worry that I’ll never get that feeling, so I just keep popping out babies – what if I just become the Michelle Duggar of the north? Or even worse – what if I regret not having more children?

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I realize that living life and making choices sometimes comes with regret, that you made the wrong choice. And I’m okay with that. I think of it as a learning experience if I made a decision I regret. But I don’t know if having more kids is a type of regret that I’m okay with having.

There are SO many reasons I can think of to have more children – more love, more giggles, more fun, more family! I love being a mom. My kids are hands-down the most amazing and rewarding thing that I have done with my life, and seeing the bond growing between Andrew and Lily makes my heart burst with love. Knowing that Ryan and I created these two incredible little beings, and that I grew them in my belly seriously takes my breath away when I stop and think about it. But – and this is a big but – there are cons too. So, bear with me as I work through my crazy!

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My concerns about having more kids are:

  • financial constraints of adding a third: more kids = more money. I probably wouldn’t end up working, because three kids in daycare (even before/after care) adds up pretty fast…and I’m a social worker. Not a profession known for their large salaries. We would need a new car, new house…and kids ain’t cheap.
  • the worry that I will be spread too thin: I already have moments where I feel like I’m not giving both my children enough attention, and that Andrew has lost a lot of my time since I’ve had Lily. Those feelings would probably grow and become more intense if I feel like I’m letting two children down.
  • changing family dynamic: we have a boy and a girl, and it just seems so equal, so balanced. With a third child, someone would always undoubtedly be left out, regardless of gender.
  • we are blessed to have two happy, healthy kids: I know this seems dark and doomsday-ish, but…both our kids are healthy. What if there was something medically wrong with potential baby? Not only would that be absolutely heartbreaking, but it would undoubtedly take time and attention away from the other kids.

Sigh. After all that rambling I still don’t have any more clarity on the issue. Maybe we need to sit down and talk about it some more. Maybe I need to just trust my instinct and see where that leads me. As of now, I’m waiting for that ‘feeling’ or ‘sign’ that leads me in either direction. How did you know that your family was complete?

 

Pink Blush – Plus-Size Spring Dresses + GIVEAWAY

Although these lovely products were given to me for review, opinions are all my own!

It is time, my friends. Time to put away the leggings, nursing tank tops and cardigans that I’ve been living in and put on some real clothes. With spring slowly arriving here in Ontario, it is the perfect time to slip into some beautiful plus-size spring frocks that Pink Blush sent to me!

Any curvier gal can attest that trendy, unique, plus-size fashion is a little harder to find – especially at prices that won’t break the bank. Because of this, I can safely say that Pink Blush is an absolute jackpot. Pink Blush is usually known for their maternity wear, and even their women’s wear, but their plus-size clothes are absolutely beautiful AND affordable. Shipping is also affordable, only $10 to Canada (free in the US, you lucky Americans!).

I ordered two dresses, and was pleasantly surprised! They are both great quality, cut appropriately for a curvy figure, and fit pretty true-to-size.

The Little Black Dress

The first dress I got was a classic black dress (you can never have too many little black dresses, right?). I loved it for it’s versatility, it is so easy to dress it up or down.

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It is SO comfy – light, loose, and flowy. For those that are a little more self-conscious of their arms, the flowy material provides a bit more coverage. It is such a light breathable fabric that it is perfect for this in-between weather, and could be paired with tights and boots for colder weather as well.

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The Wildcard Dress

The second dress was a bit out of my comfort zone – it is a little more trendy, and so fun! It’s different for me, as it is navy and peach. Now, the vast majority of my wardrobe is black and pink (and usually flowy) – so this is seriously outside my comfort zone, as it is colourful and form-fitting.

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I tend to shy away from patterns, as I have this fear that they will make me look bigger, but I threw caution to the wind, threw on some Spanx, and went for it. I paired it with nude Cole Haan heels (because nude goes with everything, obvi!), and am so happy I took a chance!

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You can take a peek at all the gorgeous clothes on their website, and connect with them on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Do you want to win $50 to spend at one of the trendiest plus-size boutques online? Enter below to win (may be used for any of their lines, not just plus-size!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Although these lovely products were given to me for review, all opinions are all my own!

Groupon Coupons – Helping Me Keep The Budget Master Happy

*Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are mine*

As some of you may already know, I lovingly nicknamed my husband “The Budget Master” due to his financial prowess, and comprehensive knowledge of what is going on with our finances at any moment in time.

Due to being married to The Budget Master, I am always looking for ways to save money (or ways to shop more, depending how you look at it) in order to keep The Budget Master happy. When a shopaholic and a budget Master get married, there has to be a bit of compromise on both ends. One way to do this is by using Groupon Coupons.

Groupon Coupons is a site that offers exclusive coupons to be used at other retailers. The website is very user-friendly, and you can get started immediately. When you click a coupon, a box pops up with your coupon code, and you’re all set to shop!

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A few of the things I really love about Groupon Coupons is that:

  • they’re instant (just click and you get the coupon code; no waiting for emails or anything)
  • they offer coupons from retailers that I actually buy from, such as Carter’sMacy’sNordstrom, and Kohl’s

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Steph – you live in Canada. You can’t order stuff online from all the stores in the US.” Don’t worry, I realize this, and while it breaks my heart that many US companies leave us Canadians high and dry (I’m looking at you, Kohl’s!), a lot of the coupons offered can actually be used in store too! It will help offset costs and exchange for cross-border shopping trips!

Using Groupon Coupons is a really easy way to save money. Put the app on your phone, and remember to check for coupons whenever you’re shopping online or in-store! Just think of all the extra shopping you can do with the money you save!

You can connect with Groupon on Facebook and Twitter.

My Apologies to Peplum

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An Open Letter to Peplum

Dear Peplum,

I’ll admit it – I was a judgy b*itch. When peplum tops and dresses started appearing all over the place, I tried on a couple peplum tops, and they looked truly horrendous. I decided immediately that plus-size girls can’t wear peplum. What a horrendous look for a curvy girl to wear.

Then I happened to try on a super-affordable Old Navy peplum top on a whim. It was a magical moment. You actually hide my muffin-top, dear peplum. I can’t believe I was so cruel to you. You are oh-so-flattering and pretty. Like little ruffles dancing around my hips. I realized that the other tops just looked awful because they didn’t fit right. Add a little longer length, and you are absolutely adorable, sweet peplum.

I am now a peplum-convert. I walked out with two peplum shirts that I have on repeat in my wardrobe. I even got so carried away that I bought two peplum shirts for my baby. Pretty in peplum.

My deepest apologies Peplum. I adore you now.

Love, Steph

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This amazingly affordable top was from Old Navy (find it here) for the low low price of $26 – and right now it’s on sale for even cheaper! My favourite is to pair it with navy jeggings and a navy shrug – I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to wear it with some cute shorts and sandals!

One more tip – peplum is even more adorable on babies. I picked up a few super affordable peplum tops for Lily at Carters and Joe Fresh!

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Lily’s Nursery Decor

This post is a bit delayed, but I wanted to share some of my favourite elements from Lily’s nursery! I decided on a colour scheme of taupe, gold and pink, with lots of sparkles thrown in (I know – huge surprise, right).

 The first thing I did was contact a friend of mine who is a graphic designer. I had an idea in my mind of phrases and pictures that I wanted to hang in a some sort of collage…but I needed a creative, talented mind to execute it, which brought me to Karen. She’s also the creative genius behind my logo. She is fantastic at bringing thoughts and ideas to life, even without specifics. She met with me and came up with some great ideas that incorporated both our thoughts. I wanted the pictures to be the focal point of the nursery, and I am so thrilled with how they turned out. Karen did a fantastic job, and even had them all framed for me, so all I had to do was hang them. She was absolutely fantastic, and I can’t say enough good things about her! If you have any projects like this requiring a graphic designer, don’t hesitate to contact her (she even does invitations, etc). You can reach her at karen.promm@gmail.com.
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Lily’s Custom Nursery Artwork

After Ryan painted the nursery, the first thing I put in it was a lamp that was probably my most successful DIY project to date. The only lamp I could find was a Pottery Barn lamp that seemed so pricey for a baby’s nursery, so I did some internet research and figured I would try to make one myself! I headed to Walmart and bought a plain white lampshade, a clear base, and some gold glitter paint. When my husband saw me setting up my supplies, he had serious doubts (and if I’m being honest, I did as well). I told him the parts only cost $20, so worst case scenario is that the lamp is awful and I just buy a new white shade for it. Surprisingly – the lamp turned out exactly as I expected, and I couldn’t be happier with it!
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I used Martha Stewart metallic gold glitter paint and applied it with a little round foam brush that I also picked up at Walmart. The whole project only took about 30 minutes, cost under $30, and so far it seems to be holding up well!
At about 38 weeks pregnant, I realized I needed more than a lamp in the nursery, so I headed out shopping to pick out a few things to cover the last wall. I picked up the shelves and porcelain lamb from Bouclair, the gold polka dot teacup from HomeSense, and the glittery ‘L’ was another last minute project. I picked up the plain white ‘L’ from Walmart and used the leftover paint from the lamp to completely paint in and then covered it in gold glitter. I’ve been meaning to put some sort of protective coat over it but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. The ‘Lily’ canvas was a gift to Lily from my thoughtful cousin – who somehow had time to paint this for Lily while taking care of her own newborn baby!
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The final piece that was added into her nursery was a surprise from a close friend of mine, but is stunning. This beautiful Swarovski crystal monogram hangs above her change table, and is absolutely gorgeous. It is made by Whitney of Flora Italia (check out her website here). Flora Italia makes custom crystal art and jewellery. Her work is so feminine and whimsical, I wish I could have an entire wall of crystal art!
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Her nursery is still a work in progress – I still have to do curtains on the windows. I plan to buy white sheers, and I am on the hunt for (and I don’t actually know if these even exist, please let me know if you have seen them!) curtain rods with big crystals on the ends. If all else fails, I think I will just buy plain white and use my trusty gold glitter paint again!
My hope for this nursery is that it can transition into her big girl bedroom once she is out of the crib. I loved Andrew’s nursery but seemed to babyish for a toddler, so sadly we re-decorated. I hope that we can just update furniture and bedding for Lily once she reaches that stage – because I really do love it so far!

“The Artful Snapshot”: Photography Workshop with Carly Bee Photography

My blog originally started as a way for me to share the fun activities that my ‘Momtourage’ and I spent our mat leave together doing, and this post does just that. Although my mat leave crew has changed, I have met a group of absolutely wonderful mommas to spend my days with, and they are just as open to new activities as the original Momtourage.

As moms, we all spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to take beautiful pictures of our kids. I think the only people who spend more time taking photos are professional photographers. So – what better way for a group of moms to spend a morning than to learn how to take beautiful snapshots of their kids? I teamed up with Carly of Carly Bee Photography to host a photography workshop for parents, called “The Artful Snapshot.” The aim was simply to teach us the basics of photography, and how to capture those sweet moments that photographers are always able to do.

What was really awesome about learning in such an intimate setting was that each of us had the chance to have 1:1 time with Carly to ask in-depth questions, and have her work with us as we shot on our own cameras, helping us adjust settings and how to maximize our shooting, even on auto.

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Lily and I getting some tips from Carly

She even spent time teaching use how to take beautiful photos on our iPhones – because, if we’re all being honest with ourselves, that’s where the majority of our pictures are taken…am I right mommas?

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We spent a bit of time just taking pictures of the kids in my house, with Carly giving us advice and tips as we went. I learned a lot about using angles and lights to my advantage, and a bit about aperture (which I knew nothing about beforehand). She also gave us a lot of good tips about getting a good photo from kids.

 

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A sweet shot I got of my friend’s son Grey – isn’t he adorable?

 

If you want a chance to learn about the basics of photography with Carly, you’re in luck! She will be holding another session on May 4th! For more information, and to register, click here.

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This isn’t my last photography lesson with Carly either – for those of you looking for some more in-depth instruction, and the chance to shoot outdoors with her while learning about the manual settings on your camera (tell me I’m not the only who shoots in Auto 99% of the time?!), she will be holding another workshop in June that I will definitely be attending! It is called “From Snapshot to Photography, where we will learn about shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and focal length play. If you want to join us, don’t forget to register here. And if you’re intimidated, don’t be – I literally don’t even know what half of those things are…so you won’t be the only one with a lot of learning to do!

If you would like to register for either workshop, or just want to check out her work, you can connect with Carly on her website or on Facebook.

Patisserie Noir Pop-Up Shop

Ok local mommas – here is an awesome opportunity to satisfy your sweet tooth tomorrow! Patisserie Noir is a pop-up bakery operated by Durham College students in the Advanced Baking and Pastry course. The idea behind it is to give students a taste (haha – see what I did there?) of what it is like owning their own business. It teaches them about costing ingredients, doing the prep, and how to sell their products. I love the idea of giving students real-world experience…and I don’t mind buying baked goods to help them out!

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Tomorrow morning, you can look forward to some delicious Parisian treats, such as creme brulee, profiteroles, macarons and sponge toffee. If sweets aren’t your thang, don’t despair – Patisserie Noir will also be serving up savoury goods as well, such as quiche.

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The sneak peeks so far look absolutely delicious – my mouth is watering already! You can check them out tomorrow, Saturday April 9 from 9am-2pm at the Whitby Campus of Durham College (1610 Champlain Avenue).

Green Tea + Cotton’s Birthday Giveaway

Birthday Giveaway

 

One of the things I absolutely love about blogging is the community – you are instantly linked to some amazing and inspiring mommas through the magic of social media. One of these lovely ladies is Amanda from Green Tea + Cotton. I initially got hooked on her pretty Instagram feed – I feel like I got to know her through Instagram alone. She is authentic and funny, and a loving momma! And…it is her BIRTHDAY!!! Happy Birthday Amanda! In celebration of Amanda, a bunch of us have joined together for a birthday giveaway in her honor! Here’s a bit from Amanda:

“I can’t believe another year has gone by so fast and that means another birthday.  I celebrated this past Sunday and now I get to celebrate some more by joining up with 11 other amazing ladies to bring you my birthday giveaway!  That’s right – one lucky person gets to take home some goods just for them.  No sharing required!

I had asked everyone what their favorite birthday memory was.  I love the answers!

For my 30th birthday, my BFF threw me an amazing birthday party.  I was newly single and she wanted to do something to cheer me up! It was such a great day! – Cathy from A Boy and His Mom

The year I traveled to NYC for my birthday! – Natasha from Livin Life With Style

Getting to spend it at Disney World since it was during mid-winter break. – Rachelle from Tuesdays With Jacob

One of my favorite memories when I was younger was being surprised with tickets to see Jesse McCartney in concert. – Liz from Lizz and Co.

My favorite birthday memory is a newer one. Since having kids, the nature of my birthday celebrations have changed but there is nothing like having kids on your lap helping you blow your candles out! – Stephanie from Durham Region Mom

I never tell anyone my birthday and last year my friends figured it out and I had 6 dozen flowers, a whole lot of Starbucks gift cards, and several other gifts.  I felt so loved! – Messy Season Blogger from This Messy Season

My favorite birthday memory is having pool parties every year when I was younger! One of the perks of having a summer birthday! – Caroline from In Due Time

My favorite birthday memory would have to be when my dad would bring me a dozen roses home on my birthday every year.  He worked a lot and I didn’t see him a ton so that mean a lot to me. – Brittany from The Ashmore’s

My favorite birthday memory has been reoccurring for the last few years.  Having a birthday is so much better with children involved. I get showered with tons of handmade cards and gifts, breakfast in bed, flowers, and so much love.  It is not a day that I worry about getting another day older but a day that I enjoy getting spoiled by my two wonderful children. – Kristen from Blissfully Insane

Spending it with my parents.  We were very close growing up and they always made it special. – Melanie from Story of Five

I flew to California and a special someone surprised me with a gift per day while I was there.  He ended up asking me to be his girlfriend! – Glenda from Confessions of a Scorpio

I told you they were amazing memories!  Now to tell you mine!

My favorite birthday memory is being married to a guy who shares the same birthday as I do!  Every year, on the same day, I get to tease him about how much older he is than me.  We have fun and celebrate with the kids.  – Amanda from Green Tea + Cotton

Now on to the good stuff!

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Eyeshadow colors – Row 1: Shimma Shimma, Peach Smoothie, Beaches and Cream, Chickadee, Cocoa Bear. Row 2: Mai Tai, High Wire, Charmed, Time Travel, Vintage. Row 3: Pixie Dust, Cosmopolitan, Moondust, Prom Night, Sensuous.

Prizes:

  • 12 month Plum Paper Planner
  • Set of Pilot G2 Pens
  • Z-palette with 15 Makeup Geek Eyeshadow Pans
  • 5ml doTerra Aroma Touch and 15ml doTerra Wild Orange
  • 3 month tea subscribtion to Plum Deluxe (U.S. winner only)

Entries to the giveaway are easy.  Just follow the directions below.  Giveaway ends 4/15/2016 at 11:59 PM CST. Open to U.S. and Canada residents 18+. Void where prohibited.
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Freshly Picked Moccasins Review + Giveaway!

If you have a baby and have an obsession for adorable baby things, then you are probably not a stranger to Freshly Picked Moccasins. They make some of the most beautiful little baby shoes I have ever seen – I had such a hard time choosing a pair for Lily! They are all made from genuine cow hide leather, and the quality is impeccable. To top it off, they come in more colours than I ever thought possible!

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I love the shoes just because they are adorable shoes, but the story of Freshly Picked is inspiring. If you get a minute, pop over here to read Susan Petersen’s story of how Freshly Picked got started. She literally built the company with her bare hands.

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Sparkly shoes for mom and baby!

I chose to get Lily the Merci moccasins, which are a neutral ivory with a metallic gold design on them. I chose them for their versatility, figuring they would go with a lot of outfits. They really do go with everything – they look just as cute with leggings as they do with a party dress! They are a perfect every day shoe for her, as they match pretty much anything, and are soft and comfortable for her – I won’t even mention how dang adorable they look on her little baby feet!

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First moccasins…first steps!

I was so excited when the moccasins arrived – I ripped open the bag, and they came in their own little dust bag. Everything is cuter baby-sized, right? They were just as pretty as the photos online, the leather is oh-so-soft, and every little detail is perfect. No loose threads, no jagged edges. Just tiny baby moccasin perfection.

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Not only are they adorable, but they really are functional. Lily is one of those babies that yanks everything off her feet, and most shoes are always falling off. However, the moccasins really do stay on. I had her wear them to a party, and out running errands with me (meaning in and out of her carseat, shopping cart, and Tula), and I didn’t have to pick up her shoes once-they actually stayed put! The elastic at the opening of the shoe makes them easy to get on their feet, and helps keep them there!

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Moccs even make a yummy chew toy for Lily!

Now, at $60 a pair, they are definitely not cheap shoes, especially for a baby. In my eyes – it’s well worth the money. They are shoes that can be worn every day, they are well-made and durable, and most importantly of all – they are comfortable and safe. Lily is just starting to cruise, so she needs durable soft-soled shoes that let her learn to walk. The beauty of the shoe is just an added bonus!

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Freshly Picked also offers hard-soled shoes for older toddlers and kids too! The style is a bit different with elastic laces, but are pretty cute. They come in sizes 7-13, and are also made with 100% leather. I may have to get a pair for Andrew!

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Cute and comfy – could a girl ask for anything more from her party shoes?

I also have to do a shoutout to the team at Freshly Picked. It is rare nowadays to be blown away by customer service, but I truly was. The staff dealing with collaborations was so friendly and quick to respond, and they got shipped out ridiculously fast. Unfortunately, the shoes got lost in transit…but it was Freshly Picked to the rescue! One quick email to them letting them know they never arrived, and I had a new pair on my doorstep in less than a week. Literally every single staff member I have dealt with has been unbelievably pleasant and helpful.

Freshly Picked has also been generous enough to offer a pair of soft-soled moccasins to one lucky reader!

 

Open to residents 18+ in Canada and the United States. If located in Canada, winner is responsible for shipping fees. Winner must not have won a pair of Freshly Picked moccs in the last 60 days.

 

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Durham Farm Connections Farm Open House

So for all you local (Durham Region) parents, this is a super cute and FREE event happening in Brooklin on Wednesday, April 6 from 4:30-8:30 – it is the Durham Farm Connections Farm Open House, being held at Luther Vipond Memorial Arena. Admission is free, although they are accepting donations of canned goods to go to a local food bank.

It teaches kids (and adults, if I’m being honest!) about agriculture, including chatting with farmers, and learning about dairy, beef, pork, poultry, sheep, vegetables, apples and crops.

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I know it’s kind of an awkward time with school and dinner, but if you can make it, it’s a fun event that isn’t too long. We took Andrew for the first time last year, and he had a blast. They teach kids about where their food comes from, and has live animal exhibits (this was the big draw for Andrew, along with the tractors). There are hands-on demonstrations to watch, such as cheese making and cow milking. Last year, they had a little fake cow with a rubber udder for kids to learn how to milk a cow. No joke, Andrew still talks about that, and demonstrates how to do it. Kids can enter a draw by colouring a picture, and there is also a draw to win a Durham Farm Fresh basket.

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No matter when you come, there are always demonstrations going on; the schedule is below:

5pm: Sheep Shearing

5:15pm: Cheese Making

5:30pm: Food Demonstration

6pm: Cow Milking

6:15pm: Cheese Making

6:30pm: Food Demonstration

6:45pm: Meet a Veterinarian

7pm: Sheep Shearing

7:15pm: Cheese Making

7:30pm: Cow Milking

7:45pm: Meet a Veterinarian

8pm: Sheep Shearing

It’s a simple, fun, educational community event, so please come out and support Durham Farm Connections!

For more information, visit their websiteFacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

Hope to see you there!