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 27, 2016

What to do with the Arts, Crafts and Colouring that your Kids Create

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I’m sure many parents can relate to the ‘problem’ of having a major surplus of arts, crafts, and colouring pages around the house. Especially if you have kids in school or children who especially love to craft and colour!

In our house, the twins bring home a minimum of four crafts from preschool per week, but sometimes it’s more. They are usually really well-done, and totally display-worthy pieces, but because we have the twins we happen to have double…and on top of that, Miss A is usually crafting and colouring at home almost daily.

We have A LOT of children’s ‘art’ to display!

Don’t get me wrong, it really is wonderful when our children ‘create’ but, honestly, what is a parent to do with all of it?

After 2-years of my husband and I ‘thinking’ and ‘talking’ about creating an Art/Gallery Wall, we finally got one together – hooray! This is a major accomplishment for us since:

  1. I don’t have a creative bone in my body (true story…I don’t even have ‘one’).
  2. Darren literally hates hanging pictures. I know ‘hate’ is a strong word, but it’s the truth.  He is not an overly detailed person and the thought of putting holes in walls seems to give him some sort of ‘picture-hanging-anxiety’.

So, because of those reasons, there is often procrastination in our house around stuff like this…but…somehow…we did work it out!  And here’s how…

I started by searching the wonderful World Wide Web to get ideas. Of course, this led to me creating a Pinterest Board for my Art Wall Inspiration.

After I had an idea of what my vision was I started picking up miscellaneous picture frames, here and there, that would fit some of my favourite drawings and pictures that the kids had done.

My favourites included little creations such as:

  • The first time the twins created finger-paint pictures
  • A little drawing that Miss A put together while writing her name for the first time
  • Some cute, little ‘handprint’ art pictures the kids did at their day home (thanks Ange!)
  • A drawing of our family, by Miss A – the first time one a picture had been done by either of the kids (this fine piece of art is on the reverse-side of a restaurant paper place mat)

Once I had collected those, I ordered a couple of Westcott clipboards from Amazon.ca.

I actually order loads of stuff from Amazon simply because:

  1. I am always able to get free shipping since they often offer it when you spend a relatively low minimum.
  2. Their prices are in Canadian dollars.
  3. I can do it while the twins are napping.
  4. I can do it while drinking coffee.

The actual clipboards that you see in the art wall photo, in the beginning of this blog post, are these ones.  

They were only a few dollars each and I did get the free shipping since I also had some other stuff that I ‘needed’:

  1. A book called, ‘On Becoming Preschool Wise’ by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam – from my all time favourite series of parenting books
  2. Printer Ink

In a stroke of luck, my very creative and design-savy friend, Helen, suggested I also use a couple of small floating shelves that I had received from my girlfriend, Kim, when she was cleaning out and renovating her basement.

So smart, right??

So, Darren and I planned it out and put it up on a central hallway wall on our main floor and we LOVE it!!! It makes our home feel way more ‘homey’ and now I don’t have ‘art’ taped all over my fridge – because that’s sometimes what you have to do when you have a stainless steel fridge and magnets just don’t work on it.

(As a side note, I have discovered a great alternative to tape for stainless steel fridges – you will use these up fast on your fridge, cupboards, doors and walls so you may still revert to tape, but check out these amazing Scotch Re-usable Tabs – they are 2-sided, removable, re-usable, and they are truly my favourite!!)

The clipboards add a little bit of interest and make it super easy to switch out paper crafts and the shelves house all of their 3-D crafts and lego creations. It’s perfect because now these items are nicely displayed and aren’t taking over my counter tops and mantle!

Yes!!!

Of course, there is still a bit of an excess of stuff being produced here, so I rotate the art and colouring often and I keep a large 11”x14” sketch pad for each child. I picked a couple of these up from our local Dollar Store for literally $2/each.  Once their time is done on the gallery wall, I mount them in the sketch books and they will be saved in their keepsake boxes once they are full.

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A few items here and there might get sent to grandma and grandpa, but even they have commented about how much ‘art’ there is.  So, alas, the rest gets ‘filed away’ in the bottom of the recycling bin.

Don’t tell the kids!

PS If you are interested in saving either of these ideas to your own Pinterest board, there is a handy-Pinterest social media button just below this post!   Hopefully you’re better at tackling this stuff than we are.

November 3, 2016

Keeping the Marriage Alive in October

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October is a busy month for many families and our family was no exception. Of course we had the usual…work and hockey for my husband, preschool and activities for the twins, and I ran my business and blog and continued to make the ‘wheels go around’ for our household.

On top of that there was, of course, Thanksgiving and Halloween…plus we had one last ‘Glamping’ hoorah. Oh, and my BFF also had a big birthday celebration to top it all off.

Basically, what I’m saying is – if Darren and I hadn’t taken our ‘monthly date night’ pledge (you can find it in my blog post ‘Keeping the Marriage Alive – One Date at a Time’), it ‘might’ have not happened in October!  Correction – it ‘wouldn’t have’ happened in October.

See Darren? Routine is good after all!

We changed it up a little to work with our busy month and we decided to get out on a weeknight (Thursday) evening and that actually worked well. We had a little extra time that night, without any activities, and we were able to easily find care for the kids.

To change it up a little bit, I drove downtown to meet Darren once he was done work and we checked out a little spot I have been dying to try out – Pie Cloud in Kensington!

Yes, sometimes us suburban ‘Stay at Home Moms’ (otherwise known by the acronym SAHM’s) can get all ‘crazy’ and we actually leave ‘the burbs’!

If you aren’t familiar with Pie Cloud, it is a diner/bakery-style restaurant specializing in all things pies (hot and cold) as well as some other diner-type food items – and I thought it sounded like a great spot to try out.  I love me diner food and I love me sweets!

In the name of efficiency, I had taken a quick glance at the Pie Cloud dinner menu online several days before we went and as soon as my eyes saw ‘Chicken ‘N Waffles’ I literally stopped looking at the menu and knew what I was having.  I even talked about it with several of my friends…that’s how much I was looking forward to eating it.  Mmm…

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….BUT…once we got there, I saw something on the menu I have actually never seen on a restaurant menu before:

Turkey Dinner Pie!

What??? Yes!!!

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Now what??

Side note: Anyone who has been to my house for a holiday turkey meal has seen me throw together a couple of Turkey Dinner Pies with the leftovers (I call them ‘Thanksgiving Pies’ or ‘Christmas Pies’). They are my absolute FAVOURITE!!!! They are so easy to make, they freeze well, and they are a great way to get a taste of a turkey meal during the off-season. I’ll add a link to the recipe I use at the end of this blog post in case you want to try making one.  You really should try one!

Squeeee!!!! I was so excited!!!!

Lucky for me, Darren decided to order the Chicken ‘N Waffles himself so I went ahead and ordered the Turkey Dinner Pie knowing I could sample his (thanks Honey!).

I do think it’s worth just giving you a heads up (since I’m going on and on about them) that it takes them a little while (approximately 30 minutes) to make the Chicken ‘N Waffles…maybe don’t choose this item if you stop in to eat but are in a hurry.

The food was great and we even splurged and shared a piece of apple pie – because how can you go to a ‘pie place’ and not have ’pie’?

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The date was nice! It was fairly short and sweet but it served its purpose – We enjoyed having some adult time together, having adult conversation….free from the interruptions of home and the twins. And that’s the whole point!

As a huge mom-bonus to the evening, it did get even better – I got a break from the bedtime routine! This is where I insert loud cheering and clapping! Thanks so much to my friend, and fellow twin-mom, Ange for taking care of that!

As I promised, I want to share with you the recipe that I use for my Thanksgiving/Christmas Pies. It’s actually a Martha Stewart recipe that I keep it conveniently pinned on my favourite Pinterest Board – Recipes Tried and True!

I hope you like it!

October 31, 2016

Simple Savoury Roasted Pumpkin Seed Recipe

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This is definitely not a food blog. However, it ‘IS’ a mommy blog and that means I need fast and simple tricks that make my life easier but still present nicely (because who has time for ‘fuss’ anymore?). So, here we are.

Every year I roast the pumpkin seeds out of our carved pumpkins but I had never found quite the perfect recipe. Last year I even split my seeds and tried two different recipes…a sweet one and a savoury one. They were ‘okay’ but not good enough for me to even bother pinning…the search continued.

Last night, after jumping on the AllRecipes.com website, I found one that was rated high and sounded good. After reading some of the comments, I decided how I would modify it and I gave it go.

They turned out great!

As a bonus, I somehow found a crowd-pleaser that hit every palette in our household: Whoot! This is a total win for our family…no rejection? Impossible, right?

So, these aren’t gourmet, but you likely have all of the ingredients on-hand and they are very easy to make. As I mentioned, the fact that our whole family enjoyed them, means the recipe is worthy of remembering and keeping – you can bet they will be catalogued on my Pinterest board of ‘Recipes – Tried and True’!

 

Simple Savoury Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups raw, whole (cleaned) pumpkin seeds 

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon garlic powder

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C)
  2. Combine all of the ingredients, except the pumpkin seeds, in a bowl
  3. Add pumpkin seeds and stir
  4. Place on a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet
  5. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally

 

That’s it!

If you want to save this for later, there is a handy-dandy Pinterest social media icon conveniently placed at the end of this post.

In case you’re also interested in the original recipe, I should give credit where credit is due…voila…Spiced Pumpkin Seeds.

If you happen to make these with a modification you feel improves the recipe, I would love to hear from you!

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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September 27, 2016

Keeping the Marriage Alive – One Date at a Time!

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One of the hardest things about having kids is keeping the marriage alive. I’m mean, let’s face it…our bodies are different, our schedules are busy, our beds are sometimes not our own, etc., etc. I could go on and on – there are countless things fighting for our attention and challenging our time.

On top of all of this, if you haven’t hired a babysitter in YYC lately, I’ll let you know right now that the going rate is $10-$15/hour.

$10-$15/hour people!!!

(I do have a bit of a solution to this problem, but I’ll have to blog about that another day…until then, save up your money to pay for babysitting!).

A few weeks ago, I made a pledge that Darren and I absolutely need to make time for 1-date per month. No. Matter. What.

I know it probably doesn’t sound like much to those without kids, but anyone with offspring will understand that this might be a tall order! However, now I have said it out loud and made a commitment to our relationship (as well as the world-wide-web) so this definitely has to happen. If you aren’t seeing me blog about our YYC dates at least once per month, for goodness sake, please send me your hate mail!

The good news is, we did manage to squeeze a date out before month’s end. Last weekend, I was starting to panic (and feel the end of the month closing in on us) so I rushed to get something together last minute (way to prioritize ‘date night’, hey?). Embarrassing.

Anyway…we scored a REALLY NICE SUPPER for SUPER CHEAP (and I mean ‘cheap’!) at San Remo Ristorante in McKenzie Towne (if you haven’t been there, I would really recommend it…with or without kids). They have specials on each night but,  on Sunday nights, they have $10 pasta-night AND $10 ½ litre of wine night. Can you imagine??

So, we had one of my favourite appetizers (Truffle Butter Popcorn), fresh bread, two pasta entrees AND a ½ litre of wine (hello!) for under $40! I’m sure it’s hard to believe!

Anyway, it was really a nice evening and I had a chance to hear about some things that happened in my husband’s week that I don’t think we would have talked about had we stayed home.  We got to connect, without distractions (insert children, devices, Netflix, NHL Centre Ice…) and that’s exactly what we needed after pushing through a week of work, school, activities, hockey, and so on and so on (you know the list goes on forever). It was perfect!

I was really glad we made the time to get out together and I am already thinking about what we might do for our October evening out! If you have some fun ideas (in the Calgary area) – please send them my way!

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(Truffle Butter Popcorn, Spaghetti Bolognese, and Sausage and Pepper Penne shown above.  

Oh!  And as my husband would put it – also a ‘nice Malbec’!)

September 21, 2016

Superstore’s Click and Collect – My Review and Helpful Tips

onlineshoppingPhoto Credit: William Iven

Online Grocery Shopping? Yes please!!!

Because, let’s face it – grocery shopping with kids is never (EVER) a good time.

Call me lazy, but the thought of taking my duo to any grocery store (even if they have 2 child seats to accommodate the twins) almost makes me break into a sweat. The fighting, the poking, the grabbing, and the cookie requests…it’s all too much for me to take sometimes!

But alas! There are other options available in YYC!

Superstore recently introduced their ‘Click & Collect’ program here in Calgary (amongst other places) and I had to try it out! I think it is just the service I have been waiting for.

Here is how it works

  1. You place an order for your groceries online.
  2. You pick them up, at a prescheduled day and time, from a participating Superstore location.

Sounds good, right?

What I love about the Click & Collect experience

 

  1. I can order online.

This is so convenient! I actually added my order, while I was still in my pyjamas and the kids were playing.

  1. I can pick up over a 2-hour time period.

If I’m running around tackling errands and not wanting to commit to a specific pick up time (or even if I’m running late) it’s okay!

  1. I don’t have to leave my car when I pick my groceries up since they are delivered straight to my vehicle.

I don’t care what anyone says, it can be a bit of a hassle unbuckling the kids and lugging them into the store – especially if the parking spots are tight, the weather is bad, or the kids are sleeping (or grumpy, tired, hyper, awake, or basically alive.).

  1. I can still pay by debit or cash at pick up.

A credit card is used to secure the order at placement, but the payment method can be changed at pick up…if you do switch to another form of payment at pick up, know that your pre-authorization charge may sit on your credit card for several days.

  1. I can still bring my bins and bags and not have to purchase plastic.

The staff member brings your groceries out in large bins (on a cart) and you transfer them into your vehicle – my girl even helped me move everything over into my green bins! She was even mindful about how she placed the items.

  1. I actually found price-comparing items easier!

Prices are listed on a ‘per 100grams’ or ‘per unit’–type basis along with the price. I quite liked this feature and really did find it simpler to price-compare.

  1. I still collect my PC Plus points.

You can link your account during check out – the website also says you collect PC Points at pick up.

  1. The $3 fee is so reasonable!

This seems like a good place to also note they currently have a $30 shopping minimum to use the service.

  1. The ‘My Shop’ feature

This is a category that lists your often-purchased items which makes it quick to select your favourites! After only 1 shop, I can even see my often-purchased items that I have bought outside of my one Click & Collect experience (this must be based on them tracking through my PC Plus Card). Regardless, it’s convenient!

My tips for using Superstore’s Click & Collect Program:

 

1. Make sure your desired pick up day and time is available before you begin.

When you first visit the Superstore website, select your location first followed by selecting your timeslot. Doing this will let you know right away if the day and time you want to pick up is available.

A friend of mine told me her lead-time was 5 hours or so, so I started an order in the morning thinking I would pick it up after the kids got out of preschool.   Well, my friend obviously shopped at a slower time than me because once I finished entering all of my groceries, I discovered I couldn’t pick up at my preferred location for 2-days. I ended up having to travel to a further location to get the day/time I wanted. Lesson learned!

2. Use the ‘search’ function.

I found it much easier and faster to use the search function rather than browsing by category – this is probably because I was shopping off of a pre-planned menu list. If you do like ‘browsing’, you are able to browse by category or brand.

3. Leave your shopper very specific notes.

When you check out, some editable notes will auto populate beside certain items like produce, milk, etc. They will indicate to the shopper, what I’m assuming are, qualities most people look for in those items (‘select latest expiry possible’, ‘no mould or running juices’, etc.). You should read these and edit them to be as very specific as you can – the more specific, the better.

4. Review your substitution preferences.

After you have added all of your groceries to your cart, view your grocery list. Make sure to select the ‘Substitution Preference’ if you would like the shopper to select a substitution in the event your particular item isn’t available (there is a button beside each and every grocery item, you just swipe it ‘on’ or ‘off’).

**NOTE: if you are purchasing any organic items, and you select that you are okay to receive substitutions, they will not substitute for you if they can’t find another organic item…so…you will need to mention in your check out notes if a non-organic substitution is okay.

5. Review your order once it has been filled.

You will receive an email notification once your order has been filled (mine came about an hour before my pick up start time). You should review it because it will show if there are any items that are out of stock or unavailable.

In my case, there was an item the shopper just missed finding and also some organic items they couldn’t find organic substitutions for – this was easily resolved by me calling the store right away. My items and satisfactory substitutions were found (on time even) for any items I needed.

6. Give yourself a little bit of time for pick up.

I arrived to the Click & Collect parking spot at 3:00pm and called as soon as I arrived. My groceries were loaded and I started driving away at 3:14pm…so it was relatively quick but not instant. Because this was my first time using the service, I can’t say what an average wait time might be, but this is what it was on a Monday afternoon.

7. Double check your order once you get it home.

It turned out I was missing a few items – 3 bags of coffee and 1 loaf of bread. If these were major ingredients I needed for a specific recipe, I might have been irked but I was just stocking up on my favourite coffee while it was on sale and I did get one loaf of bread…so it was a non-issue for me. I do think that human error is going to happen occasionally based on the volume of groceries they are dealing with and I’m okay with that in order to have the convenience.

In Summary

 

There were a couple of little glitchy things that came up on my first order as I learned the system but overall I really appreciate having this program (especially for the price!). I will for sure use it again! Here is a link to the Superstore Click & Collect FAQs in case you want to browse around there.

I did receive an email the same day, from Superstore, looking for feedback. I think it’s great they are obviously looking to improve the program. I’m sure it will only get better!

 

September 3, 2016

Journaling their Special Moments

 

IMG_8699

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!

Purple Mittens

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

Zootopia Photo

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.