The unofficial start of the Christmas season is fast approaching. As a Canadian, I have no attachment to tomorrow’s American Thanksgiving festivities. However, the American tradition that has migrated north in recent years is Black Friday.
My inbox is being bombarded with soon to be savings and deals and the paper delivered to my door is 90% flyers.
Do you get in on the Black Friday madness? I can understand being opposed to lining up at the mall, waiting in hours long queues, or skipping a family holiday to buy a TV. However, doing some online shopping in my PJs seems perfectly fine to me.
Last year I bought my parents and in-laws instant pots and cookbooks so they’d understand what their instant pot was. Had I not purchased on Black Friday there’s no way I’d have been able to stay within budget.
I say bring on the holidays!
Let me know in the comments below what you’re hoping to find on sale this Black Friday.
One week ago I ran my first 10K race since having my little baby munnchkin. Next Sunday I will also be lacing up my shoes and running another 10K race.
Pre-kids I planned out my races and mostly raced above 10k race distances. Now I’m willy nilly about my 10k races!
Hubby ran with me last weekend because at 6 months postpartum I’m lacking speed.
10k Race Info
These 2 races are both organized by MEC https://events.mec.ca/ and are only $15. You don’t get much for it, but all I’m after is a chip timed race.
The Real Reason
I’m pushing myself to run these races so I can submit a time for my upcoming Run Disney races in February. They have multiple corrals and place runners according to their anticipated finish time. If you’re in a corral at the front you have short wait times when you meet characters in races and pose for pictures.
In my first RunDisney race, while in line to get a pic with Tinker Bell, the runner behind me explained that you run hard and go for good times when you’re not at Disney so that when you run Disney you get to enjoy the faster photo lines and less busy course.
My 10K Race Goal
I don’t like talking about times anymore because I want to be running sub 47 minute 10k races, but I’m happy to be less than an hour!
This reminds me of my running mantra, “Respect the distance” as it applies at different times and different distances. Sometimes just a 1 mile run seems daunting especially when you have run a marathon. Or you wake up with a cold and your usual 8k route feels like an ultra. If you persevere and just respect where you’re at, you’ll get through it.
August is upon us now and while our family had some big summer Bucket List items to tackle on weekends, we are trying to avoid mundane weekdays. The following list is what I’ve compiled as my “summer somethings” – they’re items not Bucket List worthy. Summer somethings are activities you can do on weekdays. If you’re like me, you find yourself making breakfast trying to think of something fun to do with the kiddos later that day. You may find some of these activities rather simple, but my hope is they help you get out of the house and have some fun without too much prep work or planning.
Summer Somethings List
Go for a bike ride (or scooter or pedal car ride)
Backyard kiddie pool or sprinkler
Go berry picking at a local farm
Visit the zoo
Family movie at the local theatre
Picnic in the park
Local rec centre drop-in activities
Park hopping in the city
Game On: play some street hockey or lacrosse
Build forts (inside or out)
Involve the kids in making homemade salsa
Water balloon fight
Chalk up some hop scotch squares
Water the garden with kids
Some of these activities are self explanatory, but I’ve expanded on some below.
The Fraser Valley Regional Library is hosting a great summer reading program. Check out the website for events and regular activities like Storytime and Babytime.
Park Hopping in the City
We live about an hour from Vancouver on public transit. If we exit the Skytrain at Science World Station we can walk to a newly built park beside Science World. From there we walk a fair distance (bring a stroller if your tot hates walking) to the Yaletown side of the Cambie Street bridge along the seawall. Under the bridge is another park (Coopers Park) with some older equipment, but has plenty of slides. From there you walk through Yaletown to Emery Barnes Park at Davie and Richards. There is also a fourth park you could enjoy at David Lam Park if you continue along the water.
Anyone else growing cherry tomatoes? I love taking a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes from my plants, cutting them in half and mixing with some white onion, lime juice, a few cilantro leaves, and seasoning it all with salt, pepper, and cumin. I like a ratio of 1:4 for onion and tomatoes.
How are you planning on spending the rest of your summer?
When my daughter (the Munchkin) was 16 months old we made a spontaneous decision and went to Europe for a week. My husband and I had booked 1 week off work and had planned to enjoy a few days at home and a few days a few hours away in Parksville, BC. About two weeks before this was to occur, we checked flight prices and found a deal too good to pass up. Soon we were off as a family of three to Europe for one week.
Today I’m giving an overview as to how we planned for this spontaneous trip and why we thought flying 11 hours with a 16 month old was a good idea.
Upcoming Posts on Rome
This post is the first in a series of posts about travelling with a toddler in Rome. Upcoming blog posts will include key highlights from our trip and cover how to successfully tour the Coliseum and Forum. I’ll also share how to use Rome’s public transit system instead of the hop-on-hop-off busses. We also had a successful beach day that I’ll discuss. Stay tuned for these posts in the weeks ahead. Also, if you have any specific questions please email me and I’ll try to address them.
Past Toddler Travels
We had traveled six months earlier with our Munchkin to Florida for a two week trip in three different cities. I had also taken her for a weekend to Ohio. On both trips the Munchkin enjoyed airplane rides and was in a pleasant mood most of the time. She could sleep in her baby carrier and never had any issues with time zone changes. Given her successful track record with flying and time zones we thought we could handle the trip. Also, the departing flight was scheduled for 1 hour after her usual bedtime so we had hopes that she’d sleep.
Our Munchkin had a couple months of walking under her belt. She also had a few teeth and was a good eater. The Munchkin loved pasta, bread, and tomatoes, which was a good match for Rome! Naps made us worrisome as she was still at the two naps a day stage with a 9:30am nap and a 2pm nap.
Packing for a Week in Europe
We filled our suitcases with summer clothes and focused on bringing as many outfits for our Munchkin as possible. We knew she may go through double the outfits as us. After all, she was a messy eater and known to get herself really dirty! We also estimated 7 diapers a day and were able to pack enough diapers into the folds of our clothes and the crevices of our bags. We know what diapers we like and since we had space we decided to bring them along. I also packed food pouches so she could have a snack on something familiar. Our daycare suggested we bring any and all drugs from home so we had baby Advil, baby Tylenol, baby Benadryl, teething gel, and a super duty diaper rash cream. We never used any of it, but it did give me piece of mine knowing we had it just in case.
As for Mom and Dad packing, we each packed one nice outfit that would be suitable for the Vatican – you know, in case Pope Francis wanted to chat over coffee…
I called our travel company (Transat) to inquire about our airport transfers. I was advised it was a bus transfer and based on this advice I did not pack a car seat. We found out in Rome that it was a minivan and they didn’t care we had no car seat. That was pretty stressful, but we had a safe ride.
We decided to bring a hand-me-down umbrella stroller. The stroller had seen better days, but it still worked! From all of my pre-trip research we heard that the cobble stones of Europe could wreck a stroller. So from this research I then researched baby stores and found PreNatal chain of baby stores. They had a great selection of umbrella strollers so the plan was to buy a brand new umbrella stroller when ours broke. Fortunately/unfortunately (?) our stroller never broke so it returned home with us.
We also traveled with our Ergo Baby Carrier. Recognizing it was above 34 degrees Celsius most days we also bought cooling towels that could go around our necks, over the Munchkin’s legs in the stroller, or in between our body and the Munchkin’s body when in the carrier.
Thanks for reading! If you’re planning a family vacation to Europe, I’d love to hear your comments.
This is a guest post by Mouse House Mom’s own mother, Marg. While Marg isn’t the Disney enthusiast that her daughter is, she is a huge Avatar fan. Since Marg recently returned home from Walt Disney World, she’s guest posting to share her Pandora – The World of Avatar experience with you. I hope you enjoy it.
My husband and I recently returned from a 5 day, Walt Disney World vacation with our son, his wife and their 3 kids (17, 11, and 9). This was our second trip with my grandkids in Walt Disney World and what made this vacation extremely special, was being able to experience the newly opened Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom. While I booked this vacation unaware of Pandora, I certainly felt blessed that it was able to be a part of our vacation.
I’m a huge Avatar fan and in the lead up to our trip I made a special granddaughter date night to watch Avatar with my two granddaughters who were toddlers when the movie was released.
Animal Kingdom is the perfect spot for Pandora. You would think the Tree of Life at the entrance was put there years ago knowing Pandora would one day come along to compliment it.
Prepare to be truly amazed with the floating mountains, entertainment, and attractions. My personal all-time, favourite attraction was the Flight of Passage. I have never experienced such a true to life ride experience. The seat is like getting on a motorcycle, but it is soft and your legs feel the movement of the bird breathing. I have been on many 3D rides that felt realistic, but none compare to the reality of this ride. It didn’t hurt that my favourite part in the Avatar movie was where Jake Scully takes his flight of passage. In addition to Flight of Passage there is another major attraction: Na’vi River Journey. This is a slow ride and has no height restrictions, unlike 44 inch height requirement for Flight of Passage
Swotu Waya Na’vi Drum Ceremony
While walking through Pandora, we came upon a live show, the Swotu Waya Na’vi Drum Ceremony. The performers in the show got my grandkids involved in playing drums and we all learned a new song. Thanks to the advice of my daughter, we had purchased a Memory Maker and were able to take advantage of the PhotoPass photographer to capture some great shots during this experience.
Recommendations to Maximize Your Pandora Experience
Having been fortunate to experience Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom in its first month open, I recommend the following to maximize your experience:
Book FastPass ASAP
Watch the Movie
More on each tip is provided below.
1. Book FastPass ASAP
Book your 1 Pandora FastPass the moment you get access and book it for early in the day. Learn from my confusion (I had to call Walt Disney World), when you book your FastPasses for Animal Kingdom, keep in mind you only get 1 Pandora FastPass (per day) for the 2 attractions available (i.e., Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey). You can use your other 2 FastPasses on some of the other amazing Animal Kingdom attractions. Don’t book another FastPass too soon because you’ll probably find it hard to leave Pandora! Although Cast Members do a good job shading the lineups it gets very hot spending up to 3 hours in line is tough for kids and adults.
2. Bring Snacks
Bring water and snacks for the lineups. It’s important in the Florida heat to stay hydrated. We found munching on snacks kept us from getting grumpy and hungry between meals.
3. Watch the Movie
Watch Avatar before going so you can fully appreciate how true to the movie Pandora is. A word to the wise, Avatar was playing every night on the TV in our Walt Disney World hotel.
This week I am determined to take a boring task and make it fun. I’m going to become an expert in fence staining. Since we bought our house three years ago we have yet to do anything with our backyard fence. It looks dry and in need of some love. First off, we will not be exposing our toddler to any paint or cleaning materials (duh!).
Fence Staining Turned Fun
How do you turn a boring, labour intensive task (i.e., fence staining) into a fun weekend? Find out my plan of attack below:
Prioritize the task above all else.
Accept help with the task and/or with entertaining your kids.
Add music to the mix.
Reward your helpers.
First, this may sound simple to plan ahead, but it’s really helpful. In summer the weekends are numbered so put the big task on your calendar and make sure you’re spouse is on board with it. It will be easier to accept help if your loved ones know you’ve got a fence to stain on a specific date! Also, if you’re tackling a DIY home project there’s usually preparations to be made in advance. For example, in order to complete the fence staining, I need to clean the wood and purchase the materials and stain.
Second, if I want to go to bed on Sunday knowing the fence staining project is complete, I need to make it a priority. I’m accepting the fact that we’re ordering take-out dinners this weekend. While my dinners may not be homemade, I’ll still be able to make breakfast and lunch. Snacks always cheer me up! Therefore, I’ll fill the fridge with fresh berries, watermelon slices, cucumbers, deli meats, salads, and also make sure I have buns ready for sandwiches. In summer the freezer is always stocked with burger patties so maybe I’ll pull off a family dinner after all!
Third, learn to accept help. This applies to many facets of life, but especially when you’re acting as a weekend warrior to complete a large task in a limited amount of time. I’ve got my parents lined up to help with fence staining and toddler entertaining. If we rotate one person to always be with the toddler then we all get a break. That is, if chasing a 28 month old dare devil down the street on her scooter is considered a break.
Fourth, I’ve got my portable speakers ready to play us some music. My iPhone will be on Wi-Fi so I can stream music from Google Play. If we stick to oldies and Motown jams, I think we’ll all get along.
Reward/Surprise Your Helpers
Fifth, assuming my husband doesn’t read this blog post, I’m going to surprise him on Sunday because it is his birthday. While it isn’t ideal spending your birthday staining a fence, I feel no guilt. In the7 years we’ve been married he’s celebrated his birthday in Bali, Rome, and on a Mt. Rushmore road trip. Now he can add backyard manual labour to his list of exciting birthday celebrations!
First surprise, I’ll let him sleep in Sunday morning, but if he’s not up by 9am the birthday sleep-in is over and I’m sending the toddler to get him. I’ll also make him a delicious breakfast of fritti, which is my family’s version of a Churro (see the recipe here). The last surprise is a mid-afternoon ice cream treat and because it’s his birthday I’ll buy the overpriced, delicious Magnum ice cream bars.
Thanks for reading today’s blog post. If you’ve got a big DIY weekend project coming up (like fence staining), I wish you all the best. May these tips help you have a fun and productive weekend.
My Weekend Festivals and Local Fun blog posts are my favourite part of Wednesdays and today I’m sharing about (1) RecycleFest and (2) Ice Cream.
Weekend Festival: RecycleFest at Trout Lake Park on Saturday, July 22
Local Fun: Go for ice cream as a family!
While completely different activities for you to participate in this weekend, both are fantastically family oriented.
RecycleFest is a local festival taking place at Trout Lake Park (Vancouver) on Saturday, July 22 from 10am to 3pm. The main purpose of this family-fun event is to drop off any of old or unwanted small appliances and power tools so they can be recycled properly. However, this good-for-the-earth event is also good for families as it features:
Hot dog BBQ (good if you miss National Hot Dog Day on July 19).
Games and prizes.
RecycleFest caught my eye because it starts in the morning, meaning you could check it out before toddler nap-time.
I also like that it supports a cause I believe in. I’m already teaching my toddler how to recycle. She knows we separate our waste and she takes yogurt containers to our blue bin for me.
Another perk of RecycleFest is that it fulfills a need. I seem to replace my hairdryer every couple years and I have a stack that I need to recycle – finally an easy opportunity to get these unwanted hairdryers out of my house.
I apologize, if you read my Summer Bucket List Check In post then you’ll know I still haven’t gone out for ice cream this summer. If you get your ice cream in a cone then there’s no container to waste and you can keep with the reduce, reuse, recycle theme.
Hello Wednesday! Time to make weekend plans locally. My weekend festival is Aldergrove Fair Days. For local fun, I’m sharing 3 ways to maximize backyard fun with toddlers.
Weekend Festival: Aldergrove Fair Days
Check out Aldergrove Fair Days this weekend (July 15 and 16). The parade starts at 10am on Saturday, July 15 with a flower power theme. Catch the parade on Fraser Highway starting at 270 Street and ending at 273 Street. Trooper is headlining the fair at 8pm on Saturday at the Aldergrove Athletic Park.
Local Fun: Maximizing Backyard Fun with Toddlers
It doesn’t get any more local than your own backyard. Our backyard is fairly small, but we do have a lawn, small garden area, 4 potted tomato plants, and a concrete patio area where we can BBQ and sit at our patio table. In our own yard, we can have hours of fun with our toddler.
Below are my 3 tips for maximizing backyard fun all summer long with your toddler
1. Garden as a Family
I don’t have a green thumb, or even a green pinkie finger. However, I still like to grow my own cherry tomatoes in pots. This usually starts as a fun task at the end of May and then we get lots of rain and I don’t need to water them nightly. We are now in summer and watering the tomatoes has become a chore. When you involve a toddler in a regular chore and see the task through their eyes it becomes fun and meaningful. On weekend mornings we water the plants in the back yard together – me with the hose, her with a 100 millilitre watering can.
Earlier this year we planted some marigolds and snap dragons in the front yard and my daughter loved getting her hands dirty and shoveling. Thankfully, I don’t care about my back garden since it’s only a tree and a dying hydrangea that the neighbour’s cat sleeps on. I let my daughter rake and dig (from her own garden set) in that back garden and it keeps her amused. A friend dropped some coins in her dirt pile and that brought out the inner archaeologist in my daughter.
2. Enjoy anInflatable Pool
Inflatable kiddie pools can cost anywhere from $20 to $60 and there’s a large range in sizes. The baby sized pool is ideal for a baby that is able to sit up and splash. Consequently, the amount of water used is minimal. The next range tends to be slightly larger (two babies would fit) and the water level could get a bit higher. From this size they just keep getting bigger and deeper.
We opted for a 3 ft by 4ft pool and we rarely fill above 8 inches deep. This size pool means on a hot day my husband and I can both sit in the pool with our toddler. The neighbour kids also like to get in on the fun and it makes for a great afternoon of relaxing under the warm sun while endless laughs and splashes are enjoyed by all.
It is important to note that you can’t leave young ones unsupervised when the pool is filled – let’s be safe parents! Add some buckets, shovels, or even water bottles to the pool and you’ve got a new game to play. After each weekend, we scoop out the water and use it to water our plants so we don’t waste the water.
Inflating tip: if you don’t have a special inflater then use your hairdryer to cover the hole and it will inflate. Remember to be quick fastening the hole once its filled.
3. Kicking and Throwing Balls
I fell in love with my house after we toured it and my husband described the backyard as the perfect size to play catch with his future kiddo. The yard and our kid have both lived up to my husband’s expectation. Walmart and even dollar stores have cheap balls of varying sizes. We have beach balls, a soccer ball, and a football that we pass around. At 16 months my daughter was mesmerized by our beach ball – it was soft, it was flimsy, and it was large enough for her to be able to swing her leg and make contact with it. This summer she’s amazed by it, but likes throwing and kicking it. Most of all, she looks at her father and I like we are professional athletes when we can rally the ball back and forth.
I hope you find these tips fun. Stay hydrated, wear a hat, and don’t forget to to reapply sunscreen often!