Attractions & things to do for the kids in your life


Fall colours at Belfountain Conservation Area until October 27!

Fun fall

Fall colours at Belfountain Conservation Area until October 27, 2013!

Belfountain Conservation Area opened later this year and it will close later as well (it usually closes after Thanksgiving). The conservation is a lovely destination to admire the fall colours. (Read our description with general information on Belfountain Conservation Area.) Many will be satisfied with the small loop trail running around the place but those who want a longer walk to get some fresh air will be glad to know that you can access the Bruce Trail from the Belfountain trail past the suspended bridge. Learn more about this walk with photos and informative captions in this blog post

Note that our last week's Outing of the week, Cheltenham Badlands, is a 10-min. drive from Belfountain Conservation. Exit the conservation and turn left towards Belfountain hamlet. Drive through the village on Old Main Street (Mississauga Road). Drive a little while on Mississauga Road. Turn left into Olde Baseline Road. You'll see the Badlands on your right.

Belfountain Conservation Area escarpment

Belfountain Conservation Area

Bruce Trail beyond Conservation Area

Belfountain to Cheltenham Badlands



Back-to-school blues

For parents

Last week, many parents of school-age kids felt the sting of back-to-school stress. This week, it was my turn...

On my son's first year at York

I remember where the stress came from when my kids were in elementary school: my own procrastination and denial as I wanted to hold on to the summer until the end. Reality would kick in on Labour Day evening, when I'd have to face the fact that my kids had outgrown their shoes, that they had nothing clean to wear and that our school supply was scattered all over the house.

By the way, I think put together a useful line-up of articles to ease back-to-school.

You'd think it gets better, right?

This week, I couldn't believe how close the apple fell from the tree when it was time to drive our 3rd-year university student to his residence.

We thought he was quite ready. But Friday, when his 10 a.m. doctor's appointment turned out to have a 3 hour delay, and we learned that he only had until 3:30 p.m. to get the keys to his room, we ended up having only one hour to pack... everything! Clothes, sheets, mattress, fridge, kitchenware, personal care items, books, speakers, amplifiers, computer, phone, chargers, extensions, school supplies. Name it.

As he got in the car, his dad double-checked with him if he had everything. Turned out he had forgotten to pack his guitars... You'd think that the fact he's in the Music program at York, majoring in guitar would have helped him remember that, wouldn't you?

The day before, I helped a friend move her (3rd-year university in Maths) son to his apartment in Waterloo. Before we left Toronto, I heard her ask him to grab "clean stuff to put on the bed". In Waterloo, when she asked him to put the sheets on his bed, he had no sheets, had thought she meant a bed cover, and had forgotten his pillow.

See? Our job is never done.



Top-10 Lego Ideas on Pinterest

For artsy kids | TOP fun lists

TOP_10_Lego_ideas_on_Pinterest.com_NathaliePrezeauThere are hundreds of them! I checked.

When I was writing my article on Legoland Discovery Centre, I decided to create a Pinterest board on all the fun stuff I could find about Lego. I came across hundreds of boards from Lego fans.
Lego bricks have been used to create: artworks, public art, jokes, architecture, games, education, collective projects, miniature cities (including Toronto at the Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills)...

Here are my top-10 Lego ideas you'll find on my board "Writer's (Lego) Block" on (you'll need to have a Pinterest account in order to access the boards, it's easy!). The fun thing about Pinterest boards is that when you click on an image on a board, it leads you to the original source of the image (website or blog).



TOP-5 tips to better enjoy Ripley's Aquarium

For animal lovers | TOP fun lists

Get the most out of your visit to Toronto's new aquarium!

We went to visit the new Ripley's Aquarium on Sunday December 29 at the end of the afternoon. I assumed the crowd would be thinning by then. Wrong! We waited 90 minutes in the line-up, and the place was packed. But we loved it all the same.

The Dangerous Lagoon is an obvious favourite (we loved it so much we retraced our steps to see it one more time before leaving) but here are a few tips to help you get the most out of the rest of the atrraction.

1) Buy your ticket online!

When we visited, ticket holders got in twice as fast as people who were in line to buy their ticket on the premise. (And that was on a day where their timed-ticket system had a glitch. It seemed like they had sold more timed tickets than they could process.) Today, when I checked online, their system indicated when a time slot was sold out, which should solve the problem.

2) Arrive at the end of the day

This won't work for young families but a good tip if visiting with teens. Someone wrote on the Ripley's Aquarium Facebook page that they arrived at 8 p.m. on a day when the aquarium was open until 9 p.m. and were allowed to stay a couple of hours past closing time. I called to confirm this with the attraction's staff. I got their answering machine but it indeed said that the LAST ADMISSION was at 9 p.m. (a fact that is not mentioned on their website) with enough time to enjoy the attraction. (As a bonus, at night, you get to admire how the building looks like... an aquarium.)

3) Attend a diving session at the Ray Bay

At the entrance take note of the schedule for the diving sessions in the Ray Bay (the underwater window on the lower level) and try to get to that part of the aquarium 10 minutes prior to the session. The diver's mask was set with a microphone and she could talk to us as she fed the graceful rays. At one point, she threw food at a ray by the window so we could clearly see how it sucked in the food.


4) Take the time to explore some exhibits.

We liked the sound effect when we stand right under the large tube filled with tiny silver fish. My son found out he would be worth $3,931 if he were a tuna. By the tank where we could admire starfish, there was a fun video with a handle which you could spin to speed up or slow down starfish in action. In the shark section, another video with such a handle allowed us to view the shark attack in slow motion.

5) Allow your kids a $10 budget to spend at the gift shop

Kids feel really empowered when they have a little spending budget. I was glad to see that the gift shop offered many options under $10 (including many under $5). I noticed The Sea cool cube book and a Pocket Genius on Sharks, each for $9. There was a bag of fake but realistic shark teeth for $1. (Don't miss the trompe-l'oeil of the ocean horizon (to the left of the gift shop.)

For more pictures, see our photo gallery.


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Nathalie's tips for a smooth outing

After years of doing all kinds of outings with my children, I can assure you the secret to a perfect outing lies in the details, not the destination.


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