Tag: Family Tradition

Christmas Magic In A Letter | The Belief In Santa

The Christmas season is upon us and it is my favorite time of year. It seems that there is a little extra magic in the air as the spirit of giving surrounds us.

My heart is always extra full this time of year as I try to make each year more magical then the next for my daughter. Part of the Christmas magic is the belief in Santa Claus. A jolly man who makes a list of who has been naughty and nice. Then travels all over the world to deliver toys to the nice kids on the list.

The excitement to write to Santa and to receive a letter back helps keep the belief alive and one that we have done yearly with our daughter, Nikki.

In previous years we have sent our “Santa Letter” to a free service offered by Canada Post. Their special elves help Santa answer all the letters in time for your little ones (*there is a deadline date to watch out for). The first two years the letters back where cute and a personalized touch was added which made the letters extra special.

However, last year the letter was standard and no personalized touch was added. There was nothing special about it and what should I really expect from a free service, right?! So why not to do it myself?! 

One night as we were hosting a family playdate with my cousin and her boys. We both talked about how disappointed we were in the letters from Santa. I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

So I pitched the idea that we should do the Santa letters for one another and my cousin Chantelle loved the idea!

Christmas Magic In A Letter

We now get to share some Christmas magic between family by doing Santa Letters to one another. The best part for us will be to see our children’s faces when they get a very personalized letter from Santa. 

Nikki and her adorable cousins John Lucas and Connor at our last playdate.

This is how we are doing it this year.

Writing “Dear Santa” Letter

Our child writes their letter to Santa (depending on their writing ability, it may be the parent writing most of it). In our case, I write Nikki’s letter but she adds her artistic flare to her letter.

Mailing Letter to “Santa”

Child mails the letter out to “Santa” (if they are young they will not notice the address so this wasn’t an issue for either one of us right now). 😉

Mailing a letter to Santa is serious business 😉

Highlights For Santa Reply Letter

Send some points (max of 3) of your child to the family member writing the Santa letter that you would like highlighted. For example, I wanted to make sure it was noted that Nikki started her first year of school; becoming more independent and her good manners.

Handwriting the Reply Letter

Once the “Dear Santa Letter” is received, the family member can now hand write the letter in response with the highlighted points and reference to any artistic touch done on the letter.

Mail the Santa Reply Letter

Family member mails the Santa response letter and add any other little touches that they may want to add (my cousin thought of adding an “Elf Report” indicating if they made it to the nice or naughty list – so cute!).

Open the Magic of Christmas

Child receives their magical and very personalized letter. The belief continues with much love.

We just started the process and we can’t wait to see our children react to their very special letters. A little extra that we are doing is keeping the “Dear Santa” from our children in little boxes. This way when they are older we can give them their letters so they can see what they said and did in their belief of Christmas magic. I think that is my favorite part of all this.

I am really excited to keep the belief going and doing this exchange between family. A more personalized, heart and love in our quest for that little extra spirit this holiday season.

How do you carry on the Christmas spirit in your family? Would love to hear from all of you in the comment section below.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

Centreville: A Hidden Gem, A Ferry Ride Away from the Big City

Growing up in Toronto, there was many things to do as a family but one of my ultimate favourite places to go to was Centre Island or more specifically Centreville. I remember loving the ferry ride to get to the island and then spending the day on all the fun rides. Those are the moments that I remember and cherish to this day.

Now with a family of my own it was my turn to provide these same fun memories to my daughter who now at the age of two can enjoy more of them.

Here are my five top reasons why Centreville is a great place for families to visit.

Escape from the Big City

It is hard to believe that Centreville is only a ferry ride away from the busy city of Toronto, Canada and gives guests a scenic ride to the Island with unbelievable views of the city with planes flying overhead into the airport. Once you arrive at the Island you can already feel such a calming atmosphere. The scenery is landscaped beautifully and there is so much to see on the island. It is a great place to see and a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Click here to see a map of the island.

Momma Braga Tip: To avoid long line ups, it is best to purchase your ferry boat ticket online as it will save you time. Infants under the age of 2 are free; Children from 2 to 14 is $3.65 CDN; Student (under 19 with ID) is $5 CDN; Senior ($65+) is $5 CDN; and Adult is $7.50 CDN. This price is to and from the Island.

Photo Credit: Karen Braga
Photo Credit: Karen Braga

Centreville Amusement Park

From rides and games to a wide selection of food outlets, there is something for everyone at Centreville, like they say! Centreville celebrates 50 years of fun this year and has been a hot spot for families with young children for many years. Even though many know about Centreville Amusement Park, I think families don’t realize how toddler friendly it is. There are many rides and attractions for toddlers and that is the best part! There are of course some rides that are not recommended for toddlers but I find Centreville full of many more options.

Momma Braga Tip: When planning your visit, check out the website to see what type of rides they have and it also lists how many tickets you need to ride each one. The neat part of this section is that it lists the intensity of the rides under: Smooth, Moderate and Extreme. I also recommend to check the hours of operation as well before visiting, click here.

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There is no entry fee to enter Centreville Amusement Park (which is fantastic!) but to enjoy the rides and attractions payment is required. There are different rates depending on what you would like to do. Each ride requires a certain amount of tickets to ride them and you can also buy a pass which will provide you unlimited access to the rides for the day. You can purchase a Family of 4 All Day Ride Pass ($108 CDN) which must include at least 1 Adult; Individual All Day Ride Pass Over 4’ ($35.35 CDN); Individual All Day Ride Pass Under 4’ ($25.25 CDN); Sheet of 25 Ride Tickets ($23 CDN); Sheet of 65 Ride Tickets ($55 CDN); and Season Pass ($66.50 CDN). Please note that some rides require an adult to accompany a small child and therefore the adult will require a ticket. Keep this in mind when making your decision on what to purchase.

Momma Braga Tip: We purchased the Family of 4 All Day Ride Pass and we purchased it online to save some money ($105.50 CDN) as this way we didn’t have to worry about how many tickets we needed. If you are looking to buy a pass, I recommend to purchase it online to save yourself some money.

Nikki Favourites: Our daughter had a few favourite rides that she recommends for all her young toddler friends which are: Centreville Train; Antique Carousel; Kiddie Boat; Fire Engines; Touring Cars; Twirling Teacups; and the Pony Express.

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Photo Credit: http://www.centreisland.ca/centreville/rides-attraction

Far Enough Farms

A staple of Centre Island is the Far Enough Farms and a must see with your little ones. My daughter loves animals so of course this was on our must see list. Far Enough Farms is locating just east of Centreville Amusement Park and is open daily 365 days a year from 10 AM to 5 PM and completely free to enjoy! Yes! I said FREE! There are 40 different species to see at the farm and you can learn about them through the farmers and farm hands that are always on hand to answer any of your questions. We truly enjoyed this part of our visit and of course so did my daughter!

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Fun Games

Can’t forget about all the games that you can play to win some stuffed toys to add to your collection! Check out all the games they have on site by clicking here.

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Photo Credit: http://www.centreisland.ca/centreville/rides-attraction

Great Food Outlets

Plenty of yummy food to eat at Centreville and they are all great! We didn’t bring our own food as we decided to fully experience Centreville. Here is a list of all the available food outlets. We ended up eating at the Carousel Café which we just adored. They are located a short walk away from Centreville.

Photo Credit: http://www.centreisland.ca/food-and-drink/carousel-cafe
Photo Credit: http://www.centreisland.ca/food-and-drink/carousel-cafe

These are my top five reasons to visit the Centreville Amusement Park and if these reasons are not enough…..I think the most important part was it provided a city escape to spend time together as a family. Overall, we all had a great time and what tugged at my heart strings was seeing the pure joy in my daughter’s constant smile as she enjoyed every minute of Centreville. I got to see what my parents use to see in me and for that I am truly grateful for.

Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

–          Momma Braga
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