The Star Malaysia - Star2
- FRONT PAGE
- By JENNIFER CHUNG
Parenting Expert and mom-of-one, Jennifer Chung, is the co-founder of Kinsights.com – part parenting community, part online health record.
VALENTINE’S Day is a special day to focus on those you love. It’s a perfect opportunity to teach kids about the meaning of love within your own family. Here’s a list of some fun, creative ways mums and dads can teach their kids about love through activities.
Eat with love
Make a Valentine’s dinner together using only foods that are red in colour (before and /or after cooking). For example, for starters, make a beet salad, red carrot salad, or tomato salad; for main dishes make lobster, steak, or red snapper fish; for dessert make strawberries, raspberry fruit salad, cherry pie or raspberry sorbet. Drinks can include cranberry juice for the kids. Let the kids help chop, cook and decorate the table.
Family movie date night
After enjoying your special Valentine’s Day family dinner, why not end your night with a romantic family movie. Fortunately, there are many romantic movies that kids love such as Beauty and The Beast, Anastasia, Be My Valentine Charlie Brown, Cinderella, High School Musical and many more. So grab some popcorn and cuddle up!
Secret Valentine exchange
Instead of a Secret Santa, try a Secret Valentine exchange with small handmade gifts and candy. Ask each family member to pick a name. The gifts must all be Valentine’s Day themed. This will give you and your kids an opportunity to be crafty and creative. Think outside of the box to come up with the perfect gift for your valentine (think baking heart-shaped cookies, red and pink handmade bracelets, Valentine’s Day photo frames, etc). Every member of the family will love
having their very own special Valentine.
Sweet treats scavenger hunt
Organise a fun Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt. Provide them with a map or leave clues around the house that lead to yummy valentine’s treats and cards. If you have more than one child, try giving your kids different maps for different surprises to keep it interesting, competitive and fun.
Tree of love
Trees aren’t just for Christmas anymore. Pick up an artificial Christmas tree (you should be able to find one on clearance), spray it pink (or buy a white one) and decorate it as a family with handmade valentines, pink and red paper hearts, pink lights and family photos. Creating the “ornaments” of love will ensure an afternoon of fun!
Valentine’s Day is a special time to teach kids important lessons about loving and serving others while at the same time creating meaningful family traditions. Modelling love through shared activities has a profound impact on kids and it is so easy to do. Happy Valentine’s Day! – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Celebrating together: Get the children to do special Valentine surprises for each other.
ONCE upon a time, nobody ever wanted to go to Hamilton, Ontario, unless they were working in the steel manufacturing plants or attending the university famous for its engineering and business faculties. And least of all, tourists. When travellers thought of Canada, they would opt for popular destinations such as Toronto, Vancouver or Niagara Falls. Except, of course, an off-the-beaten-track traveller like yours truly.
Last October, when I returned to Hamilton where I once studied, for my cousin’s wedding, I had the opportunity to see a different side of the city and its surrounding townships. This off-the-tourist-grid city is unique in its offering of natural parks and forest reserves, interesting sites, including historical ones, and its special cuisine.
The city sits on the tip of Lake Ontario and is an hour’s drive from the Toronto metropolis. To the locals, Hamilton is divided into two main areas – Downtown and the Mountain, the latter a self-contained suburban township built atop a gigantic mountain, and comprising residences, schools, colleges, shopping malls, restaurants and even hospitals. Downtown is, of course, where the central commercial district is located, and further west is the “academic” community of McMaster University.
Not just the quaint city, but also its surrounding areas boast nature reserves which are wonderful for a picnic or relaxing stroll. During my stay in Hamilton, I had the opportunity to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, including the Aboretum, which houses flowers during spring; Cootes Paradise, which is a natural forest reserve; and Princess Point, with its forest trails. The parkland was gilded in the golden colours of autumn (or fall, to the Canadians) and in springtime, it is resplendent with floral blooms.
Hamilton, known as the City of Waterfalls, has been rebranded The Waterfall Capital of The World, and is home to over 130 waterfalls. Although not nearly as huge or wellknown as the Niagara, Albion Falls, a 19m cascade waterfall in King’s Forest, and also Devil’s Punchbowl, a 37m ribbon waterfall, are still a sight to behold.
At the West End of the city, fronting Lake Ontario, is the Bayfront Park. The 16ha waterfront park is an excellent place for fishing, yachting and seasonal public boat rides. Pedestrian and cycling trails, as well as cafés, are also available. In summer, concerts and festivals are often held here.
Port Dover, an hour’s drive southwest of Hamilton, is another popular spot for a day trip. Nestled on the north shore of Lake Erie, it offers a beach for swimming and sunbathing, as well as several quaint souvenir shops and cafés.
Sights and sounds
Less than a half hour’s drive from Hamilton, in Flamborough, is the Westfield Heritage Village, which comprises over 30 restored historical buildings surrounded by scenic forest trails and meadows. This historical village was created by two high-school teachers from Brantford (a half-hour drive from Hamilton), using authentic buildings and furnishings that were moved here from their original locations. From an ancient railway station and vintage train, to an old schoolhouse and barn that seem to have been plucked out from the pages of a history book, the 3.4sq km site is a treasure trove that takes one back in time to the days of the early settlers and pioneers.
You don’t have to an aircraft aficionado to be fascinated by the Canadian Heritage Warplane Museum. It houses over 40 aircraft in its former-hangar exhibition gallery, including restored ones and replicas, such as the Avro Lancaster, Westland Lysander and Bristol Bolingbroke. Visitors are allowed to get into certain exhibits to experience being in the cockpit or interior of an antique aircraft. Next to the museum is an airfield where visitors can ride in selected planes.
One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to Myers Apple Farm in Copetown, just a 20-minute drive from Hamilton. Fortunately, it was apple-picking season. There is also a petting zoo with farm animals, making it an excellent place for a family outing. A trip to Bennett’s Apples and Cider Market was also part of my itinerary. Bennett’s is not your conventional market. Not only does it have fresh fruits and vegetables, maple syrup, and one of the best apple ciders I’ve ever tasted, it also offers home-baked pies and pastries such as apple crumble and pumpkin pie.
Half an hour’s drive southwest from Hamilton is the Six Nations Reserve. This is the reservation area for six Native American tribes – the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga, and Tuscarora – with its own housing, schools and businesses. While similar to surrounding towns and cities, the cost of living here is much lower, and items such as petrol and cigarettes are tax-exempt.
Due to its international community, dining in Hamilton can be a cosmopolitan affair. The great thing about staying with relatives was that I got to sample homemade meals,
from hearty breakfasts of scramble eggs and sausages, French toast with bacon, pancakes with maple syrup topped with strawberries and blueberries, to an authentic Canadian Thanksgiving dinner with roast turkey, stuffing and sides.
While in the city, I had the opportunity to taste genuine Italian fare, a Mediterranean meal, and even fast-food that actually tastes good and is healthy!
The Italian community in Hamilton is a fairly large one, and my first dinner was at La Cantina, an Italian restaurant located Downtown, where we feasted on an array of pastas, pizzas and mussels cooked in white wine.
We also checked out trendy Locke Street with its classy restaurants and unique shops. Dinner was at NaRoma, an Italian-style pizza bar which is a favourite hangout for young working professionals. Even though I’ve never really been a pizza fan, with yummy toppings like pepperoni, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, feta cheese, and unique ones like sweet potato, I was sold the minute I took my first bite.
We also visited Denninger’s Foods Of The World and lunched at their deli. Besides the usual sandwiches, sausages and meats that a deli offers, we tried the meat-stuffed cabbage rolls, perogees (which are Polish-style stuffed dumplings with meat, onions and cottage cheese), and a unique soup called Italian Wedding – it is an American-Italianstyle soup containing green vegetables like cabbage, lettuce or spinach, meat such as sausages and meatballs, and tiny pasta bits, in a clear chicken broth, so named from a mistranslation of the Italian word meaning “married”, referring to the fact that meats and green vegetables go well together.
Even eating fast food is not without its charm. One of my most “luxurious” meals as a student in Canada many years ago was Swiss Chalet’s roast chicken and fries. After church on Sundays, a bunch of us would head to Swiss Chalet for lunch. So, returning to this famous Canadian fast-food chain for its rotisserie chicken – healthy because it is not fried but oven-roasted – was quite memorable for me.
At practically every corner, there was a Tim Horton’s and sometimes, next to it, a Wendy’s. One day, when my uncle, who was driving us around, stopped at Tim Horton’s for coffee, I took the opportunity to try the Mediterranean-style Baja salad at Wendy’s. I was impressed that something from a fastfood chain could taste so good and yet be so healthy with its fresh vegetables topped with avocado dressing and freshly grated cheese.
The most unique thing about travelling to a place like Hamilton is that the activities available vary according to the seasons, and being off the regular tourist grid, it is not overly commercialised. Instead, there is a down-toearth goodness and authenticity about the places I visited, the sights I saw, the people I met, and even the meals I partook of. If I had the chance to visit Hamilton again, I most definitely would, but next time, I would try a different season to experience a different aspect of its beauty.