December 7, 2016

The Polar Express Train Excursion at Aspen Crossing – My Review and Tips

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The Conductor punched a letter ‘G’ into Gray’s golden ticket

Since the Christmas that my twins were 2-years old, they have loved watching the Polar Express movie! I keep it stored away and only pull it out at Christmas-time to try to preserve some of the magic that the movie brings over the holiday season.

Last year, I learned that there was a Polar Express train ride being offered at Aspen Crossing in Mossleigh, Alberta (a little town, just south east of Calgary). I remember looking into it at that time, but just feeling like the season was too busy for us to add one more thing to our plate…so I left it alone.

This year was a different story and I really felt like it would be a perfect year to take the kids. They are 4-years old now and are really acting wondrous about all things these days. I knew it would be right up their alley!

The first thing I had to do was convince Darren that we should buy tickets for our family, which actually wasn’t very easy. At a starting price of $57 per ticket (plus tax) this is not a cheap excursion and it definitely required some consideration.  Initially he joked that I should just buy three tickets but then he finally got ‘on board’ (pun intended) and we took a chance!

When you arrive for your train ride, everyone meets in a common area. You find the table that holds the tickets and they will take your name and give you your train tickets – not just any ticket though, a replica of the ‘golden ticket’ that you see on the movie.

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It was fun to start the experience this way! The kids really enjoy receiving their own ticket and I think it created a little bit of a buzz for everyone. The train loading process went fairly quick and, just like on the movie, everyone loads the train and is greeted by the conductor! Note: he is in character but very happy…which was a relief since Gray and A were a little nervous about him…he is historically a bit of a grouch.

Can we talk about seating for a moment? There are various seating options you can purchase with the cheapest being in economy – and that was the max we were willing to spend. I can now assure you, they were great! We got our own table and chairs and had a window – and that’s all you really need to enjoy the ride and outside displays. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the economy section to anyone at all.

Early into the train ride, everyone receives a Polar Express mug, filled with hot chocolate, as well as a cookie. Very ‘animated’ waiters serve these and I thought they did a good job of getting everyone excited about the ride. Most of the families were starting to take photographs and, when they asked the staff for assistance with taking them, no one was ever denied.

Shortly after that, we enjoyed in-train visits from: The Conductor, The Hobo, Billy, the Hero Boy, the Know-It-All-Kid and, eventually, Santa Claus. The only character that didn’t make an appearance (that of course Miss A asked about) was the Hero Girl. I simply told her that she must be not feeling well or on a vacation and she easily accepted it.

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On our journey, we rode by several displays including a stop at Billy’s house (where he actually boards the train) and a stop at the North Pole where elves are excitedly dancing and Santa Claus boards. There was a lot of excitement around that – especially when he started making his way down the isles, gifting the children with their own Sleigh Bells. My heart, honesty melted, when Miss A placed her bell into her housecoat pocket – just to replicate what she had seen on the movie. Swoon!!!

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On the ride back to the station, there is a book reading (of course, it’s the namesake book – The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg) and the children are encouraged to dance and jingle their sleigh bells in the isles while the Waiters and parents (NOT Darren! lol) sang Christmas carols.

I have to say that the experience of this activity exceeded both my husband’s, and my, expectations. On top of the fact that there is a ride to the North Pole and a visit from Santa, there were many of the characters from the movie that made appearances on the ride and did a great, and convincing, job. Not only did they ‘look and dress’ like the characters, they were actually ‘in’ character as well and engaged with the passengers regularly. There were actually times during the ride where I felt the same magical feeling watching the kids as I did in Disneyland! Of course I’m not saying this ride is the same as a trip to Disney, but certainly there is some ‘magic’ that comes with the experience of riding this train.

Over all this was a really fun activity and something I think we would consider doing in future years again. Even Darren admitted that this excursion exceeded his expectations and said he would recommended it to others and will consider it again in the future for our family. Most importantly, the kids LOVED it!

Here are my tips if you go:

  1. Bring your kids in their pyjamas! It is encouraged and most of the kids (and some of the parents even) wore them.
  1. Pack a handful of plastic bags. You get to bring the Polar Express mugs home when you leave and, although you get a bag, we were offered 1 bag for every 2 mugs. I was a little nervous when I heard them ‘clanking’ around. It might be a good idea to be able to wrap them up a bit. Even a large baggie, for each passenger, would work well.
  1. Bring your coats, etc. from your vehicle. There is a period of time where you do wait in line to board the train and it is outside.
  1. Head out there a little early and take some time to browse the gift shop. They have some cute, little things and it was nice to get some souvenirs. We didn’t go through the gift shop, ourselves, until after the ride and it was totally jam-packed! Save your sanity and go through it beforehand.
  1. If you’re up for a little pre-ride dinner, there is a restaurant onsite inside an actual train car. I had a look at the menu and I thought it looked decent. Because we booked our tickets rather last minute the restaurant was full and I wasn’t able to get reservations, so we will have to try again next time. A mom-friend has told me that the food there is good!  …just call to book early!
  1. If you want to make a little adventure out of your evening, check out the Mossleigh Bar N Grill. I had asked some staff at Aspen Crossing for a suggestion of where else to eat, since the onsite restaurant was full, and they had suggested this spot. It is very close to Aspen Crossing and the food was decent (and so was the wine actually). Our ride was on a Sunday night, which happens to be their ‘Kids Eat Free’ night at the restaurant– so it was a total score for us! Our family of four had: four entrees, two glasses of milk, a glass of wine, and a premium beer and our entire bill (with tax) was $38.70!

Unfortunately, since I started writing this blog post, all tickets for the 2016 Polar Express have sold out. Having said that, I noticed a number of tickets available for sale on some of the buy/sell sites (including Kijiji). I took the liberty of contacting Aspen Crossing to make sure the tickets are transferable and I was told that purchasers of re-sale tickets should just ensure they have both the confirmation number as well as the name the tickets were bought under.

If you haven’t considered tickets to this fun, festive evening out, I would definitely recommend it!  Just be sure to purchase your tickets early to avoid disappointment!

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November 7, 2016

Our Son was Burned on the Fireplace last week – our Lesson Learned

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Photo credit: Benjamin Lambert Photography

I want to talk to you about a big ‘Mommy Fail’ I had last week that resulted in me having to take Gray to the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

Like many homes now, our house has a gas fireplace. We used to use it all the time before we had the twins, but once they came along, the fireplace literally wasn’t turned on for years. I think it might have been the end of last winter when we finally started using it again.

At that time, Gray and A were newly 4-years old. We considered them to be fairly compliant and calm for their age, so we started slowly introducing them to enjoying the fireplace with us.

We talked a lot about how ‘hot’ the fireplace is, how they should ever touch the glass, how we cannot play rowdy around it, and the normal things I think most parents would emphasize around ‘fireplace safety’. We never left the children unattended around it and things seemed to go fairly well.

Now that the weather is starting to cool off in YYC again, we have started using the fireplace again. In the morning, our family often enjoys having it on to take the chill off since our thermostat is turned down fairly low at night-time. This was how our morning began last Thursday.

I was sitting on the couch in the living room and Gray was standing in front of the fireplace warming up, with his back towards the glass. In hindsight, he was standing too close…especially since his arms were behind him as he tried to warm them up too. I should have said something at that point, but honestly, I think it was a moment of complacency since the kids have been so careful and mindful around it.

You know where this is going next. My poor little guy absent-mindedly took a small step backwards. Unfortunately, he was close enough that the backs of his little arms made contact with both the burning hot glass and the vent that sends the fireplace heat into the room.

He instantly sprang away from the fireplace and cried a cry that I knew meant he was hurt.

I immediately jumped into giving him first-aid and then I phoned health-link. Thankfully I had done everything right in treating him at home (I rant it under cold water and gave him cold compresses, NOT ICE!!!), but there was one concern that the nurse had – after the initial crying, which lasted a couple of minutes, he wasn’t having pain and I guess pain is good sign when it comes to burns. So, off we trekked to the hospital.

It turns out, Gray suffered 2nd degree burns on one arm and 1st degree burns on his other arm. Luckily, it has been fairly easy to treat at home and he has hardly complained about discomfort, so we have been able to carry on with most of our usual routines.

Thankfully, Tetanus isn’t a concern, since we are current on our vaccines. Did you know you could get infected with Tetanus through a burn? I had no idea. I guess these are the things you learn when your child goes to the hospital to be treated for one. Not quite the way you want to learn your lessons, that’s for sure.

It has been 4-days since Gray’s losing fight with the fireplace. Darren and I are trying to decide if we will re-introduce the kids to the fireplace with stricter rules in place (like, having to keep a certain distance from the fireplace), keep the fireplace off for a while, or maybe look into purchasing a fireplace screen (or maybe a combination of those).

I’m mainly sharing this story with you so you can be reminded of the importance keeping your children safe around your fireplace. This is also a good time to consider getting current on your first aid. Hopefully you won’t need it, but you never know when it might come in handy.

Please learn from my mistake!

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October 28, 2016

One-On-One Time with the Kids – Is that a Real ‘Thing’??

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(edited) Images by Larissa G Photography (www.larissagphotography.com)

One of the hardest struggles of having twins, is trying to get in one on one time with each of them – and any amount of it!

I mean, essentially they have had the same sleep schedule since birth so it’s not like I could sneak in quality time with one child while the other napped. And…until the last year or so, they have done most of their activities together, so we haven’t had much opportunity to bond during those times either.

On top of those obstacles, almost all of the time, I am out-numbered!

I remember feeling so guilty when Gray and A were newborns because it seemed there was rarely an opportunity to just enjoy a quiet snuggle with one baby – this was something I felt so envious about when we spent time with other moms who had singletons. This is literally what my schedule looked like every 3-hours when I was establishing breast-feeding (because the twins were preemies and tiny, I was discouraged from exclusively nursing at the start in case they burned more calories than they took in – it was totally nuts!!):

  1. Nurse baby A
  2. Burp baby A
  3. Top up baby A with bottle of formula
  4. Burp baby A
  5. Nurse baby B
  6. Burp baby B
  7. Top up baby B bottle of formula
  8. Burp baby B
  9. Pump with Breast pump
  10. Change diaper of baby A
  11. Change diaper of Baby B
  12. Sterilize bottles (My bad, I hadn’t bought enough)
  13. Eat, sleep, shower and do anything else that needs to be done before the 3-hour window is up (but probably get to none of it)

It was total insanity!!!!

Thankfully that only lasted for the first 3-weeks before we got the go ahead to drop the bottle-feeding and blow up that dreaded milking machine known as a breast pump…but still, that didn’t drastically change the process. And once my husband went back to work, I was all alone to manage it myself. I can’t even tell you how many times I bounced one twin in the bouncy chair (with my foot) while I nursed the other child. That really happened! All. Of. The. Time.

Side note for expecting parents of multiples: Get yourself a bouncy chair for crying out loud!!!

Thankfully, that phase is history, and now that the kids are four-years old it’s not quite ‘so’ nuts…so, I really feel like Darren and I both need to make a bigger effort to have more one on one time with each of our children.

After I wrote my blog post last month ‘Keeping the Marriage Alive – One Date at a Time!‘, I had a brain-child that maybe we should do the same thing with our kids – perhaps a one-date-per-month-per-child kind of thing?

When I suggested it to my husband, he looked totally deflated! Not because he doesn’t see the value in it, but because I’m sure he was wondering:

Do we have enough time for that? Our weekends already seem to get so busy with activities, birthdays, etc.

How much money are we going to be spending on our endless dates each month?

Why does my wife like routines so much? (I added that for ‘your’ benefit, Darren!)  🙂

Okay, so he was probably right – it’s probably not necessary to make this a formal thing, and for now, we won’t.

So, I am now trying to be mindful to catch those little moments when I can. Darren has taken Grayson out skating (outside of lessons) a few times in the last month and I stole some time with Miss A over the weekend while her brother was watching Netflix upstairs with his dad (No, Darren, I don’t think that quite counts! Lol).

Before Gray came down for the day, Miss A and I quietly got to work and baked some muffins for the family for breakfast. Miss A was so happy to help without the struggle of competing with her brother, which usually looks like this:  Who’s turn is it to pour in the next ingredient? Who’s pushing who off of the stool?  Who gets to stir first?

Miss A even took great joy in helping me set up the table and wash the dishes!  What a nice treat that was!

I know it wasn’t a fancy date out to a play place, or the mall, or swimming…but it was an hour of time that her and I had together and I think that’s what is important. Although we aren’t making this a formal ‘thing’ in our house, I know that each little step towards focusing on our family is going to make us stronger and happier in the end.

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October 22, 2016

We bought our 4-year old a drum kit. What happened here?

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I’m not going to lie…I have seriously been feeling a little embarrassed to share the news of this recent purchase with my friends (and, honestly, also with you). After all, Gray is only 4-years old. Does he ‘need’ a drum kit? Have we gotten carried away?

This is how we got here…

When Gray was just a little tyke, my girlfriend, Marian, bought him a little toy drum set. He LOVED this thing and often played while singing his ABC’s. He also loved to play while asking mommy to ‘dance’ to his beat.

What?? Nooooooo!! How?? (insert my best pow-wow dance)

There are no photos documenting this. Thank God.  But I do have a cute photo of Gray playing on his old toy drum set!  Let’s think about that instead:

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Eventually, this beloved toy drum kit bit the dust. It was a well-loved toy and always a fan-favourite when friends came over…so it was destined to have a limited life cycle. At the time, I wasn’t ‘that’ sad because, really…only your girlfriend without kids would buy that loud of a toy…but, I was definitely sad for Gray. Of course, he was upset but I hoped he would get over it and move on…and, for a while, it seemed like he did.

…Until last spring.

Last spring he started asking for drums and reminiscing about how much he loved his old toy drum set. Now that he’s four-years old, a little toy drum set like that would likely be too small for him so, I told him that’s a very expensive item he is wanting, and maybe that’s something he should ask Santa for.

He carried on into the summertime, talking about how he wanted drums and he was going to ask Santa for them. That seemed fine…the phase didn’t die off and he accepted that we weren’t just rushing out to buy drums. But, I did realize something. What happens if Santa brings the drums that Gray ‘thinks’ he wants but then loses interest?

So, I suggested to my husband perhaps we should find some little lessons for him in the fall and see how that goes before we…err…Santa…takes the plunge with the drums.

So, I put out a request into Facebook-land to see if any of my friends could recommend a music class or drum instructor…or were drum lessons for a 4-year old even a ‘thing’? It turned out another twin-mama I know recommended someone great who only lives a few blocks away from us – how convenient!

Gray started lessons in September and attends once per week for 30 minutes. The teacher we found is also a mom and does a good job of keeping him on-task but also offers little breaks when he needs it to just play as he wishes…and I like that…it seems age-appropriate to me.

The good news is that Gray seems to be progressing and he hasn’t shown any inkling of losing interest in drumming. By no means is he a ‘gifted musician’ but he really seems to be learning – and in a compound way. He regularly practices how to count (and play) different beats and patterns such as ‘triplets’ and ‘paradiddles’.

He has also worked a little bit on drawing music notes, and he is now learning the names of the different drums in a drum kit. For fun, he gets to watch a ‘Buddy Rich versus Animal-from-the-Muppets’ video – and he quite enjoys that!

Since the lessons seem to be coming along, and Gray seems to be maintaining his interest in drumming, I thought Darren and I could talk about a plan for Christmas.

Me: “What do you think about Santa bringing Gray a used drum set for Christmas? I kind think it’s too expensive of an item for him to get new. If you’re onside, we should probably start keeping our eye on Kijiji soon here.”

Keep in mind that I’m super proud here of my brainchild idea. My husband is…well…tight with money PLUS we are mostly a one-income family supporting four people. Anywhere we can save money is great! So…I’m pretty much thinking here…”I’m so smart!”.

Darren: “You want to give him a used item for Christmas?”

Me: “Well, yeah! Drums are expensive!!!”

Darren: “I don’t know. Would you like it if I gave you a used gift at Christmas?”

Me: “Well…that’s not even the same. He won’t even know – he will still be so excited to get them!”.

Darren: “Does that mean you are okay getting a used gift then?”

Me: (didn’t address the question…Abandon! Abandon!) “Okay, so the other option is we find a used set and chalk it up as a cost of doing an activity – just the same as we bought Miss A her ballet shoes, tap shoes, and dancewear.”

Darren: “Sounds good.”

And that, my friends, it exactly how we got here!

Gray’s drum teacher was kind enough to send us a list of four previously owned drum sets for sale that she thought were appropriate for Gray. She also offered her opinion of what they were actually worth (versus what they were listed for). They were pretty much all selling in the $190-$250 range. She also explained what to look for and what not to worry about (I guess the ‘skins’ are easily and eventually replaced anyhow).

In the end, we picked up a set from some parents whose son had left for university but had had to leave the drums behind. They were asking $190 and we scored a deal of $140 – which was even better than our drum instructor suggested would be a fair price for this particular set (this is where I boast that my brain didn’t turn into complete mush when I had kids and I still have some of my career ‘negotiating skills’ left in me – yay!).

As you can imagine, Gray is absolutely thrilled!!! I’m still a little baffled on how we went from a toy request in spring to a drum kit in his bedroom…but I guess that’s sometimes how it goes.

October 1, 2016

My Twins Started Preschool – Update

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After posting a few weeks ago about the ‘sorry state’ I was in when the twins started preschool, I thought I would give you an update on how things are going.

Really…I’m totally over it.

Of course when I think about their first day, it still tugs at my heart-strings a little bit, but I am starting to enjoy a couple of hours twice per week where I can nurture this mommy blog, work on my home-business, tackle errands, prep supper peacefully, or pretty much get through anything else that might be on my ‘to-do’ list!

Last week, I actually ‘finally’ had a chance to go for a massage using a gift card I received for my birthday from my husband…which actually was gifted to me before summer began. So, pretty much I have had it for months (two seasons in fact).

Friends…it was so nice!

All of the things I was hoping to be able to tackle, I have been able to complete – for the first time in over 4-years, my ‘to-do’ list is shrinking! …And that feels so great too!

So, really…I’m not here for a long time today, I just came back to let you know that:

I can now laugh ‘with’ you.

xo

Dionne

 

September 13, 2016

My Twins Started Preschool and I’m Mourning

 

fullsizerenderOkay, I know that using the word ‘mourning’ is probably dramatic – perhaps ‘heart broken’ would be better?

Either way, my heart is aching a little.

I know that I’m not the first parent to send my first born to preschool…but I suppose it is ‘my’ first time sending my first (and last) born to ‘school’.   Is this how it is going to feel every time they reach a new educational milestone? Ugh.

Maybe I’m a little sad because this means my ‘babies’ aren’t babies anymore?

Or maybe it’s because this is a big step that somehow feels like my time as a full-time mommy is changing? Am I ready for that?

Or perhaps it’s because I’m not sure preschool is really the right choice for our family. Should we be allocating this time and money to other activities that the kids have been asking for? After all, they do already have 13 years of school ahead of them. Is preschool even necessary?

I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m feeling a little down about the whole thing.

Of course Gray and A were excited and happy to start their first day yesterday. After all, our family has been talking about preschool quite a bit over the summer and all of us (including me) have had plenty of time to prepare ourselves.

When I dropped them off, I gave them both a kiss and told them I love them and they started to settle into their new routine right away. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see one of my close friends watching me (he was dropping off his 3rd of 4 children…who is entering his second year of preschool…so this is totally old news to him). He commented to me that he was just realizing that this is my first school drop off and instantly my eyes began to water. Thankfully it ended there and I was able to keep it together, but friends…it wasn’t easy. I could have easily sat down and had a good cry.

For now, I’m going to keep my chin up! I mean really…what else can I do? I’m sure over time I will get over this feeling and I will start to embrace having a few extra hours to have a little break (and by ‘break’ I mean childless grocery shopping before 8pm – OR – a trip to the motor vehicle registry without having to use the words ‘stop’, ‘no’, or ‘don’t’ – over and over and over…).

I do want to share with you something that I tried yesterday that helped me feel a little better: As soon as the kids were done their first class, I took them straight to our local Starbucks so we could enjoy steamed milk together. I put away my phone and I gave them my totally undivided attention while I invited them to share with me the details their big day! Of course, as they shared all of the exciting things they did, I couldn’t help but feel the contagiousness of their joy and excitement!

Hearing them tell it all over again to their dad, during suppertime, helped too!  …and, perhaps, so did the glass of wine that went along with it!

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September 3, 2016

Journaling their Special Moments

 

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I am a very sentimental person and I love preserving memories! I always have.

I photograph often, I keep special items (even if they are in a box in my basement), and I did buy and (mostly) fill out baby books for the twins. I’m just that kind of a person.

But, as the twins moved away from their first year, there were so many moments that brought us joy and I didn’t want to forget them. So, I decided to buy them each journals. I just found some nice, good quality ones that I thought would stand the test of time from our local Chapters/Indigo bookstore. In them, I record anything at all that I don’t want to forget or that I think the kids will enjoy learning about themselves later.

Here are some examples of things that I have recorded for them:

  • The first time the twins gave each other a kiss
  • The funny ways they used to put sentences together and the sweet ways they said certain words (for example, Miss A used to call Gray ‘Gay-Gay’)
  • The day they scored their first soccer goal in Timbits Soccer
  • That time I found Gray plunging his own face with a plunger (Yes, that happened…for real!)
  • The time Miss A put her own self in a time out after doing something naughty

I also staple in small paper memories that don’t take up much room in their journals. Little things like my favourite day home reports that we received or Gray’s gymnastics report card where he was praised for having such good listening and being a role model for classmates. Pretty much anything that makes us smile!

I know being a parent is extremely busy and little things like this can get lost in the shuffle. The one thing that really helps me stay on top of keeping the journals current is simply keeping them on my bedside table, along with a pen, so I can add a few quick notes before bed. I also store little notes in my phone if something comes up while we are away from the house that I want to remember – those get added at bedtime also.

After sharing that I do this with one of my friends, another mom of twins, I could tell she really liked the idea. So, we actually gifted her twins with their own journals on their birthday, so they could have their own collection of memories started. I know that at 5-years old they might have not put that at the top of their ‘favourite gifts’ list, but hopefully down the road they will be happy to have those keepsakes.

I know their mama will anyway!

August 23, 2016

Yeah, I Like to Knit!

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I know this is pretty unconventional for a 30-something, but I like to knit.   Well, truthfully, I like to try. Really, I’m not a skilled knitter, but I find it relaxing and especially rewarding when my projects actually turn out.

A handful of years before having the twins, I rounded up some friends to join me for a ‘Learn to knit’ class at a local yarn studio. It was a fun time…we started our projects, we pulled apart our projects, but we did it together. Eventually, once most of us had kids, we occasionally gathered at someone’s house after the kids were in bed and we worked on our projects while drinking wine and eating ‘adult food’ – which, at that time, was basically anything that didn’t have to be pureed.

I had put down my knitting needles for a couple of years but I recently became acquainted with them out again when I was looking to pack some activities to work on while camping (okay, Glamping) when there isn’t any WiFi around (which is pretty much always). I’m so glad I did!

For the first 5 or 6 years I wouldn’t tackle anything outside of the shape of a rectangle or square but, for the last little while, I have been braving up and taking some risks. My projects don’t really ever come out amazing, but I have been mostly knitting for the twins and that is one great thing about having 4-year olds – they think EVERYTHING is perfect and beautiful!

I just (finally) finished up a little pair of mittens for my little girl. She LOVES them! I think they turned out ‘okay’ but really, as along as you don’t look too close, they did turn out all right (they are shown in the image for this post above).

In case you would like the pattern (I’m sure yours would turn out better than mine), here is the link for ‘Snow Princess’ by Girly Knits.  I just used cheap yarn, and beads, from Michael’s (just in case they didn’t turn out), but next time I would brave up and knit a pair with something a little nicer (and probably warmer).

I did pay for the pattern (it is actually the only pattern I have paid for so far), but I have knit up 2 toques and 4 mittens from it and they all turned out well (for me)…and I know I will use it again…so I think it was money well-spent and I feel confident now that the pattern is reliable.  It isn’t expensive at all.

Anyhow, if you’re looking for a fun, relaxing and maybe even productive way to get in some ‘Me-Time’, I would recommend giving this little hobby a try. If you’re in the YYC area, and are looking to get started, I would really recommend Stash Lounge in Inglewood.  It’s not super close if you’re in the burbs, like I am, but it’s worth the drive. The owner and staff are beyond helpful and patient and they have lots of goodies, trinkets, and classes. It’s where I go if I am knitting something special &/or need a few good pointers.

Happy knitting!

August 19, 2016

Preschoolers and Pay Per View Don’t Mix

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Our kids have been able (and allowed) to order their own Shaw on Demand programs for a little while now. They just need to ask first. They know they are limited to certain Treehouse and Disney Junior shows and they are able to identify them by the little thumbnail photos that are displayed. Anything else they need permission to select and they are very good about respecting that TV rule.

So, a couple of months ago, they did just that. They asked their dad if they could order the ‘show with the fox and bunny’. He didn’t really know which show they were asking about but certainly a show with a fox and a bunny probably sounded about right for a couple of 4-year olds.

At some point very soon, he realized that they had ordered a movie – Zootopia to be exact. Shoot! It wasn’t free! Well, they did ask after all, how could we be mad?

So, we let them watch it 3 times to celebrate!

Nah, actually…we just wanted to get our $4.99 worth before it expired on the 24-hour mark.

Well played, children.

So, the lesson here, my friends…if your kids can order ‘free’ programs, they can also order pay per view. Maybe get ahead of us and add a password to your pay per view TV. While you’re at it, it might also be time to add a password to some of the channels you might have even just through your basic cable.

August 8, 2016

Glamping – How we got started

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Glamping

Noun [glamp-ing]

Glamorous camping

Once she had young twins, she could no longer bring herself to ‘rough it’ and camp in a tent. She wanted to camp but with the same comforts as home. 

Before we had the twins, my husband and I used to enjoy the occasional summer camping trip (like, real camping…in a tent). Something about escaping from the busy city and sleeping in the fresh forest air was such a fun escape!

There were a number of times that we camped together with his cousin, whose family camped in an RV (recreation vehicle). It was so nice to be able to jump inside their travel trailer to visit or enjoy a board game if it got too chilly or started to rain (which it literally did every. single. trip.). We also really appreciated being able to use a non-public washroom. I always hated having to trek in the dark to the typically stinky, (and maybe even a little scary) common camping washroom (yes, okay, this is probably a good time to confess…I am very much what my mother-in-law – who lives in a very rural community in Saskatchewan – refers to as ‘citified’).

It was during that time that we first started talking about maybe looking into getting a travel trailer of our own. Unfortunately, at that time, we didn’t have great RV-towing vehicles PLUS we aren’t very good at making decisions about big purchases, so the thought got shelved.

Once we had the twins, we started to revisit the idea of camping again. My husband had grown up in Saskatchewan, where ‘going to the lake’ during the summer, in the family’s fifth wheel, was a favourite family past time. He has many great childhood memories from those trips and we thought camping would be great way to create memories for our family as well!

Really, more than ever before, there was an appeal to us to have some of the comforts camping in an RV (aka Glamping): running water, heat, a little bit of space in case we get rained in, etc., etc.

So…we stopped in at our local RV dealership and wandered around from trailer to trailer. To be honest, we were a little overwhelmed with all of the various sizes, models, options, and prices that were available and we really didn’t know what we wanted or needed. I finally had a brainchild that we should maybe rent one for a summer holiday to:

  1. See if our family even likes to travel that way…and…
  2. Get an idea about some of the features that might (or might not) be important to us.

So, last summer, when the twins were 3-years old, we rented an RV in Salmon Arm from Country Camping RV and booked a camping site at Sandy Point Campground. To be honest, the cost of the holiday was a little bit more than we wanted, but it was really worth it. The campground was waterfront with a sandy beach (and not an unreasonable drive from Calgary), the trailer was really nice and had been delivered/set up upon our arrival AND we got the experience we were hoping for. It turned out our family loved camping and we got a great ‘wish list’ of RV features and options started for our next RV dealership visit.

Once we had our wish list compiled, it made a great difference in our shopping experience. We decided to check out Bucars RV just north of Calgary based on a recommendation from friends. Literally, the first thing I did was present my list to the sales rep who was helping us. With this information, he was able to really narrow down the best RV’s for us (which made this dealership experience way less over-whelming than our previous RV dealership visits) and after a few visits, we finally bought a travel trailer!

PS The photo in this blog post was taken of us with our Venture RV Sport Trek ST312VBHK during our ‘Red Carpet Walk-through’ at Bucars RV…that really happens. See the red carpet? They roll it right out! Sounds cheesy (okay, it is a little cheesy), but it was memorable, that’s for sure!