Friday, July 18, 2014

Canadian Federal Government Cheques Discontinued as of April 2016

Today is the day that Child Tax Benefit amounts change to being based on the 2013 tax year instead of the 2012 tax year.  As a result I've watched a fair bit of online chatter about a spectrum of issues around Child Tax Benefit, Ontario Trillium Benefit and GST Credits.

The most asked question seems to be "Will my cheque arrive today?"

Government of Canada cheque. Picture via Public Works and Services Canada

Cheque?  You havn't set yourself up for direct deposit yet?  No more physically having to go to the bank to deposit the cheque each month.  So much easier.  Simplify your life.

The Canadian Federal Government wants you to set up direct deposit as well.  In fact, they will no longer be sending out physical cheques by April 2016.    This includes payments for Child Tax Benefit, Employment Insurance, Income Tax Refunds, GST credits, and more.

If you have your taxes prepared and filed by a tax professional, they can set you up for direct deposit when you are filing your taxes.  If you do your own taxes, you can set up direct deposit using My Account online, or by filling out a Direct Deposit Enrollment Form and mailing it in.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Peterborough Musicfest: The Strumbellas Concert

One of the great things about living in Peterborough, Ontario is Musicfest.  All summer long, twice a week, (Wednesdays and Saturdays) there are free outdoor concerts down by the lake starting at 8pm.

Many local businesses sponsor these concerts to keep it as a free event for the residents of Peterborough.

I don't get to go to as many of the concerts as I would like due to my work schedule, but I have been to two so far this year.

The first concert of the year that I went to was The Strumbellas.  I had been given special tickets to sit in a front VIP section, courtesy of 90.5FM, and brought my daughter to attend with me.  I wasn't familiar with their music, but quite enjoyed it!  It turns out that they are from Lindsay (closest town over from Peterborough) and some of the members had lived in Peterborough when they attended Trent University.

The music was folksy, with lots of energy. Some songs were very upbeat, and others were sorrowful, and dedicated to family members of the band who had passed on.  Here is one of their songs "In This Life" via Youtube. :)

The Strumbellas, Peterborough, Ontario Concert
The Strumbellas, Peterborough, Ontario Concert

The Strumbellas
3 of the 5 members of The Strumbellas

The Strumbellas
The Strumbellas, Female member of band. Violin and Voice

The Strumbellas
The Strumbellas, Drummer filiming audience. He walked around and took a full video of band and audience.

The Strumbellas in Concert.  Peterborough, Ontario.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Ontario Public School Gifted Program - First Year Complete!

It's the end of the school year!  Our daughter joined a new school in the gifted program this year.

I was nervous about this change for her.  It meant taking her out of the French Immersion program, as there is no option in our school board district to do a program that is both French Immersion and Gifted together. She really wanted to switch and try it out though.  It turns out it was a great change for her!

In her old school, which is a really good public elementary school with a French Immersion program just a few houses down from where we live, the teachers said she wouldn't participate in class unless requested. She didn't like feeling different than the other kids, and tried to "dumb down" and not answer questions in order to fit in socially.  She also found that she didn't have anyone to talk to about subjects that interested her. For example, after going through some family issues regarding genetics, she attempted to talk with her grade 4 friends about how different genetic disorders are inherited in quite specific detail.  I had to sit her down, and actually had our genetic counsellor talk to her about how kids don't even know what cells are, let alone all the specifics of genetics!  The counsellor told her that her whole job was to teach adults about these things!

The old school did try to give her extra work to keep her interested, but she wouldn't do it in class, because of the social pressures to not be different from the other kids.

She entered grade 6 this year, and joined a congregated multi grade split gifted class.  It has grades 5 through 8 all in one class!  All the kids are designated as gifted, but many are also dually diagnosed as gifted/learning disabled.  There are also some kids who are on the autism spectrum in the class.  It is also mostly boys, which was a switch coming from a class of mostly girls.

It was a really good change for her.  She was still able to keep in touch with her friends from the first school through extra curricular activities.  She immediately fit into the new class, making lots of friends.  The biggest thing is that she can talk to them about topics without them getting lost in the conversation.  The teachers consider her a leader in the class now, although she still doesn't speak as much as they would like during class conversations.  She speaks at all though, which is an improvement over last year!  Having the older kids in the class was really good, as she jelled with them better than the younger grade 5/6 kids.  In fact, she was given permission to do a lot of things with the intermediate gr 7/8 students, including going to the school dances, and eating with them.  I do worry a bit what this will mean for her when she is in grade 8 when she is one of the oldest, but we've been told she will have the option of starting some grade 9 courses at the high school.

If you have any questions about having your child enter the gifted program, let me know, and I can share more of our experiences with you.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Breathtaking Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Ontario

Last weekend, we went on a family trip to Ottawa.  I had won a weekend to the Ottawa Marriott hotel, and we used that for this weekend stay. Separately, I won a $250 gift certificate to Rideau Centre, which is Ottawa's lovely downtown shopping mall. The shopping story on this is unfortunately only exciting for our daughter, as it was all spent on needed shoes for her.  (size 8.5 and 9 mens, which is a 10.5 and 11 ladies!)

Despite having been to Ottawa many times, we had never been through the Parliament buildings!  The tour is well worth the time.  The parliament buildings are beautiful.  Fantastic architecture, stained glass windows, including some very modern ones representing some of Canada's newer moments, and fantanstic stone work.

Tours of the parliament buildings are free.  You get tickets across the road on a first come first serve basis, but if you go early in the morning, you can pick tickets for a tour later in the afternoon.

The highlight of the tour for our family was the Library of Congress.  It was breathtaking.  As our tour group entered, there was an audible gasp from everyone as they entered.  Ornate, intricate woodwork is everywhere.
Stunning Woodwork and Book Collections at the Ottawa Library of Congress
Ottawa Library of Parliament. Stunning!

Statue of Queen Victoria in the Ottawa Library of Parliament
Statue of Queen Victoria at Ottawa Library of Parliament

Fantastic Libraries of the World
Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Ontario

Libraries to Dream of!  Breathtaking Libraries, Books.
Breathtaking Federal Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Ontario

I'd love to spend a few hours in this breathtaking library!

For historical info on the library, including the fires it has survived, see:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Niagara Food & Wine Expo 2014

The Niagara Food & Wine Expo was happening at the Niagara Convention Centre on the same weekend that I was down in Niagara on a girls weekend!

We went just after opening on Saturday, and stayed for 4 hours! From noon until 4pm.  None of us needed supper afterwards!

If you are looking for a fun afternoon or evening with some friends, this would be something to look into for next year.

Admission at the door was $15, but I scored us some tickets at $10 by using a discount code and buying them weeks ahead of time.

We each bought $20 of tickets to use within the show, so it cost us each a total of $30.

I think our favorite part of our time spent there was attending a wine tasting by Hernder Estate Winery.  The winemaker Lydia Tomek herself gave the presentation, and we tried 6 different wines.  The fact that she was a young, hip, woman was very cool in and of itself! It cost 4 coupons ($4) each to attend this tasting.

Wine tasting from Hernder Estate Winery at the Niagara Food & Wine Expo
My favorite was the one on the far left, which was a Sparkling Riesling.

Both friends agreed they loved the next one in, which was a Riesling.

I stopped by their booth after, and the Sparkling Riesling is the one in the opaque green bottle in the next picture.  

Hernder Estate Winery Selections at the Niagara Food & Wine Expo

We also attended an "All You Need is Cheese" cheese tasting put on by Dairy Farmers of Ontario. 

There were two cheeses that were amazing. The first was a very smooth ricotta, that was served with a dollop of honey.  

The second was a Maple Cheddar, that was so delicious that I had to buy a block to take home!

I had some delicious food too!  I had a lobster grilled cheese, (YUM!) and I experimented by trying something new.  Asian Fusion Rice Balls, by Me.N.U. Food Truck (who had a booth there, and not a truck.) and they were so delicious I ate them and forgot to take a picture! Both of my friends went to buy some, and the other four people that we didn't know at the table we had sat down at all thought my rice balls looked so good, that they all went to buy some as well.  Everybody loved them!

We sat at a table to eat while listening to music by Cory Cruise, and followed by Blair Franklin, who were both fabulous musicians!  

A fun afternoon!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CRA Income Tax Deadline Extended to Monday April 5th

It's April 30th, 2014 which is normally a day when many people are scrambling to get their income taxes filed and paid.

This year, however, the deadline for filing, and paying your amounts owing on your 2013 income taxes, has been extended until Monday April 5th, due to the Heartbleed Bug.  CRA shut down their online system for 5 days earlier this month due to this computer bug, and therefore extended the deadline by the same number of days.

Also, if you are self-employed, even though your deadline to file is June 15th, you still owe any amounts payable by May 5th.  Yes, this is weird.  It's just the way that it is!

If you don't file by May 5th, and owe money, CRA will charge you an automatic 5% of what you owe as a late filing fee.  On top of that, any amount that you don't pay by May 5th, will be charged 1% interest each month that it is not paid (up to a certain number of months).

I hope you are able to file and pay before May 5th.  Even better, I hope you get a refund, and therefore don't have to worry about the deadline, since there is no penalty to late filing if you are getting money back.

Beginners Yoga Adventures

I recently started taking a weekly beginners yoga class at the local YMCA.  I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would.  I've never taken yoga before, and I wasn't quite sure what I was signing up for!

The movements are all done very slowly in this class, and you hold them for a seemingly long time.  It's probably not that long, but my muscles are weak and unused, and it feels like forever holding some of these positions!

The teacher said that she would be concentrating on different parts of the body each week, in order to give us a good balanced introduction.  She was right!  Every Wednesday, after my Tuesday night class, I am SORE!  The first week my back cracked, cracked, cracked during the session.  Last week, my legs were wobbly when I left class.  And today, my hips and upper arms are feeling it.

The first week of class had 6 women, but three of them seemingly disappeared after the first week.  I can't actually fathom paying for three months of classes and then not attending. What a waste of money!  Since the first class, one of the women has also had her father and brother sign up.  There is an intermediate yoga class offered as well, but I'm pretty sure based on the soreness factor that I may need to do the beginner class another session before contemplating going up in levels.

I did notice a tattoo on one of the class members the other night.  I knew I recognized the symbol, but wasn't quite sure from what.  I was intrigued enough that I did a google images search for "symbol with red M", and immediately the symbol popped's the Ironman symbol.  I see a Red "M" with a dot on top, but I think you are supposed to see a person's head and torso.  And yes, I was familiar with it because I visited Mont Tremblant a couple years ago a few days before their Ironman competition, and the signs with this symbol were everywhere there!

Ironman Logo - Even Athletes Take Beginners Yoga!

So, I guess beginners yoga is for a wide variety of people, from unathletic people like myself, to past Ironman competitors!
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