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Race Week Rituals

Race Week Rituals

With my half marathon on Sunday, my race week rituals are underway. I’m excited to step up to the start line and see what these mom-of-two legs of mine have in them.

My last two half marathons have been RunDisney races, where I run for fun photo ops instead of for time. This Sunday I’ve set a time goal of “under 2 hours”. I’ve had to rethink my time goals since having kids and maybe one day I’ll get back to speedier times, but that’s not my current focus.

The week before the race isn’t when you decide you need to start cross training or overhaul your nutrition. However, I have a few race week rituals you can follow to get to the start line feeling your best.

Below are my three race week rituals:

  • Strategize.
  • Visualize.
  • Eat wise.

By race week you should have already planned out your race day clothing. You ought to have tested it out to make sure it won’t rub you the wrong way (seriously, chafing sucks). Did you forget to do this? Just wear the clothes you normally wear on a long run.

Strategize

I am a planner so one of my race week rituals is to plan out my race strategy. While I’m not racing to win, I think a strategy is still helpful to try and achieve my goal.

Running under 2 hours is my goal and yours may be faster or slower. Either way, you need to understand how you are going to go from start to finish in that time. I get out my calculator and have some math fun to determine my required splits. If splits are new to you, it is basically the time you need to run (or will run) each kilometer. For my goal, I need to run my kilometers in 5 mins 41 seconds. I have known my goal splits for most of my training. I’m confident I’ll be able to blend my weekday speed sessions with my weekend long runs in order to meet my splits. If you realize your abilities, confidence, and goal are not realistic there is no shame in amending it or running without a time goal. I have run some half marathons with the mantra “no expectation, no limitation” and have let that carry me through.

In addition to splits, I always try to run the second half faster than the first (a negative split). If you’re running without a time goal, but want to finish the race having given it your all, then a negative split might be a good fit for you. In order to achieve a negative split I actually write out my first 10km anticipated time and then ponder how I can run the next 11.1km faster. I plan to run a couple seconds faster per kilometer and end the last few kilometers by increasing my speed to ensure I hit the negative split, the time goal, and the feeling of giving my all by the finish line.

Visualize

My second race week ritual is that I like to print the race map off and highlight the route by splitting it up into smaller chunks. I familiarize myself with where the major hills are on the course and other interesting features, such as where two races may collide. This weekend I’ll be finishing my last 5km with the last half of a 10km race. Knowing that I may suddenly start to get passed when I’m trying to kick it into high gear will help mentally prepare me for being among fresher-legged runners.

I like to give each chunk of the race it’s own mantra. When I want to hold back in the first few kilometers I’ll write the mantra “cool and calm”. On race day I can remind myself to stay cool and calm instead of “balls to the wall”, which is reserved for the last 3km chunk.

Preparing for race day is like studying for a test; learn the course, know it’s hard parts, visualize your success, and you won’t be in for a surprise on race day. It also helps me get rid of the negative thoughts about challenging parts of the route. If I know ahead of time that I’m prepared to run slower on the major hills and that won’t stop me from crushing my goal [because I’ve done the math already] then I’m better off for it.

Race Map Ready to Visualize
Race map action plan.

Eat Wise

I’m not a nutritionist, but based on how long foods take me to digest I follow a pre-race meal plan. For me this is more of a ritual than solid health advice. It keeps me focused and gives me a sense of control.

My plan below assumes a Sunday race day. Starting on the Wednesday before the race I give more thought to the foods I eat. You know the foods you love to eat, but might not always agree with your stomach? I try to avoid those in the lead up to the race.

If you follow my Instagram you may think I’m a hypocrite [the ice cream churro sandwhich was heavenly before my race] and I’ll admit that when I’m doing a RunDisney race I eat what I want, when I want. However, if I’m not planning to stop mid-race for a photo with Mickey Mouse then I take my nutrition more seriously.

I’ve only focused on dinners in the lead up to the race. From Wednesday on, I try to always eat balanced meals of meat, starchy-carbs, and vegetables. Below are the meats I choose to eat in this order since I find it works best with my digestion:

  • Wednesday: steak
  • Thursday: chicken
  • Friday: salmon
  • Saturday: pasta in tomato sauce. No meat. No cheese.

My pre-race breakfast is typically eaten at least 1 hour before race start and it is a half banana and oatmeal with extra brown sugar. I also have about half a cup of coffee if it is a late start to the race. If you’re running a half marathon or more then I suggest you eat what you ate before your long runs and don’t mess with it now.

I suggest you find what works for you, but it is nice going into a race knowing that I have a formula that works well for me.

3 Race Week Rituals: Strategize. Visualize. Eat Wise.
Feel free to share my Race Week Rituals on Pinterest!

Good Night and Good Racing

I hope this helps you have an amazing race day filled with joy and high-fives. Or maybe you’re more of an introvert and you just want to cross that finish line, breath a sigh of relief, and get out of there. Either way, have fun!

For more on how to balance half marathon training check out my earlier post here. I’m already looking ahead to September where I’ll be running another half marathon.

Princess Half Race Report

Princess Half Race Report

A couple weeks ago I ran the RunDisney Princess Half Marathon and it was amazing. I also completed the Enchanted 10k the day before the half. These two races are known as the Fairy Tale Challenge and are 19.3 miles of fun and fatigue. Below is my race report for the weekend.

The Challenging Part of the Fairy Tale Challenge

The Fairy Tale Challenge was really challenging and not because of the distance, but because of:

  • Early mornings
  • Tired legs from a week of Disney days
  • Racing on a diet of Disney snacks
  • Heat! RunDisney issued a heat advisory because of high humidity

To complete the challenge I was up Saturday and Sunday at 3 AM. I nursed the baby, ate some oatmeal, grabbed my water bottle and dashed to the bus in a quick 30 minutes. We decided to start our Disney World vacation the week before the race so that we could adjust to east coast time. Otherwise we would have been waking at what would have felt like midnight.

Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race
Anna and Elsa (minus their capes) finished the Fairy Tale Challenge!

Princess Half Race Weekend Recommendations

If you want a magical weekend of fun and fatigue then make sure you sign up for a RunDisney challenge. Here are a few of my recommendations:

  • After each race, go to the medical area and get ice packs wrapped around your legs so you can speed up recovery.
  • Try and have a chilled out day on the Saturday after the 10k.
  • Dress up for the races.
  • Bring some cash to your race for a Joffrey’s iced americano.
  • Be prepared to walk to the start line for the Half – my fitbit indicated that I walked 42 minutes from getting off the bus to stopping in my corral!

Enchanted 10km

I think the 10k race was probably my favourite of the two, but only because it was my first RunDisney race in Disney World and I wasn’t exhausted. I was also in corral A, which meant I started the race within 5 seconds of the start line. As seasoned RunDisney runners know, the closer to the start of the first corral, the shorter the line-ups to get character photos. In the lead up to the race other runners had been talking about 15 minute line ups and I was nervous about that. In my Tinker Bell Half Marathon a couple years ago there was barely any wait so I wasn’t sure what to expect in Disney World.

I ran both races with my mother and we decided to only stop for characters that we knew. This meant we skipped the photo with Stitch from Lilo and Stitch since I haven’t seen the movie. The first characters we came across were just passed the 1 mile marker and it was Belle and the Beast.

The sun began to rise at the 5 mile marker, but even some of our finish line photos look like it is still the middle of the night. While we ran through Epcot the PhotoPass photographers were hard to see because it was still so dark and I hate to miss a good photo op! Haha!

I was thrilled to see Mickey Mouse available for a photo as we were leaving World Showcase and transitioning into Future World. For a “Princess” race I found it a bit light on Princess photo ops, but I am more of a Fab 5 kinda girl than a princess.

Photo Ops

We got photos taken by PhotoPass photographers with:

  • Belle and the Beast
  • Pinocchio
  • Jasmine and Aladin
  • Goofy in his baseball uniform
  • Inside Out characters
  • Mickey Mouse
  • The Epcot ball
Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race and Fairy Tale Challenge
It was more fun to strike a pose!

I’m not sure where my Donald Duck photo ended up since we stopped with him too.

I found the 10k race route to be nicer, but I think that is to be expected with a shorter distance. I really enjoyed running along the Boardwalk since I wasn’t visiting that part of Disney World outside of the race on this visit.

Princess Half Marathon

I won’t lie, I was bummed to be starting in corral C and not A or B. That said, I ran my qualifying race 6 months postpartum and it was the farthest I had run in almost a year at that point. I really shouldn’t have had a pity party over this since before the race started I felt like a car running on fumes. I got caught up in the need for short character line ups. In the end I had an amazing race with my mom and we finished closer to our marathon times than our half marathon times. At the 4 mile mark we acknowledged that we were having lots of fun, we were tired, and that we didn’t care about our time enough to skip photo ops.

It took us about 32 minutes to run a kilometer through Magic Kingdom.
We stopped for a selfie near the castle on Main Street. In Tomorrowland, we stopped for Buzz Lightyear, which was about a 1 minute line. We waited in a very long line for Belle and Gaston and then ran about 100 metres and stopped for Cinderella which was probably 15 minutes. In front of the castle there were 5 PhotoPass photographers taking photos so this made for a fairly short line.

Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race and Fairy Tale Challenge
An INCREDIBLE experience with 20km done and 1 to go!

I was shocked that the majority of runners don’t stop for photo ops. Why not? With the bottle necks that occur when lanes on the road are reduced it would be difficult to run the race course for a PB so I would recommend getting your moneys worth and stopping for characters.

First Half vs. Last Half of The Half

The first half is exciting and fun – I felt like a puppy! It was dark out and fireworks were set off every couple minutes to light up the sky. The monorail would blare its horn when it passed by the runners. You’re on your way to Magic Kingdom and that made me feel like I was on a mission. Then you run through the Park and it is as magical as its name. However, once you’re in the back lot and making your way behind the Grand Floridian you still have another 10 kilometres to run. I felt like I’d accomplished what I wanted and suddenly on tired legs I had to run 10km. Even on the roads back towards Epcot there were a few character stops, which was fun. There were also a lot of water stations to keep us going through the humidity. Knowing my two girls, my husband, and my dad were all going to be at the finish kept us going!

Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race and Fairy Tale Challenge
Smiling and finishing the Fairy Tale Challenge!

Summary

It. Was. Amazing.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve done a RunDisney race or if one is on your bucket list!

Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race and Fairy Tale Challenge
To Black Friday or Not to Black Friday

To Black Friday or Not to Black Friday

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!

Mouse House Mom is ready for the holidays!
Mouse House Mom is ready for the holidays!

 

Let me know in the comments below what you’re hoping to find on sale this Black Friday.

Why I’m Running 10K Races

Why I’m Running 10K Races

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.

Tinker Bell and Shelby Hancock of Mouse House Mom at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
The star of the day!

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.

Summer Somethings To Do List

Summer Somethings To Do List

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)
  • Trail walk
  • Backyard kiddie pool or sprinkler
  • Go berry picking at a local farm
  • Library
  • Visit the zoo
  • Family movie at the local theatre
  • Spray park
  • 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
  • Farmer’s market
  • Water the garden with kids

Some of these activities are self explanatory, but I’ve expanded on some below.

Library

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.

Fun at local Farmer's Market
Fun at local Farmer’s Market

 

Homemade Salsa

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.

Mouse House Mom Fence Staining turned fun
Last year’s crop was much better.

Summer Summary

How are you planning on spending the rest of your summer?

Taking a Toddler To Europe

Taking a Toddler To Europe

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.

Mouse House Mom Shelby Hancock travels to Rome with a toddler
Enjoying the views in Rome

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.

Mouse House Mom Shelby Hancock travels to Europe with a toddler

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.

Toddler Readiness

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…

Mouse House Mom Shelby Hancock travels to Rome with a toddler
Sometimes you need to nap while on vacation…

Baby Gear

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.

Grandma Goes to Pandora World of Avatar

Grandma Goes to Pandora World of Avatar

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.

Grandma goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Grandma goes to Pandora World of Avatar

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.

Mouse House Mom's Mom goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Strike a pose!

Attractions

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.

Mouse House Mom's Mom goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Time to start drumming!

 

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:

  1. Book FastPass ASAP
  2. Bring Snacks
  3. 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.

Mouse House Mom's Mom goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Everything is realistic in Pandora!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Cheers,
Marg, the Mouse House Mom’s Mom

Fence Staining DIY Fun Plan

Fence Staining DIY Fun Plan

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!).

Mouse House Mom Fence Staining turned fun
This fence is ready to get stained!

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:
  1. Plan ahead.
  2. Prioritize the task above all else.
  3. Accept help with the task and/or with entertaining your kids.
  4. Add music to the mix.
  5. Reward your helpers.

Mouse House Mom Turns Boring DIY Fence Staining into fun

Plan Ahead

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.

Prioritize the Task 

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!

Accept Help

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.

 Add Music

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.

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom tips on fence staining turned fun
These are the before pics of the fence with my munchkin going from Titanic to “you messing with me” in 2 seconds flat!

Hello Weekend Fun: RecycleFest

Hello Weekend Fun: RecycleFest

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

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:
  • Bouncy Castle.
  • Hot dog BBQ (good if you miss National Hot Dog Day on July 19).
  • Photo Booth.
  • 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.
To find more info on RecycleFest click here.

Mouse House Mom shares RecycleFest info
This is the poster for RecycleFest

Local Fun: Go for Ice Cream

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.
Weekend: Backyard Fun with Toddlers

Weekend: Backyard Fun with Toddlers

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.

Shelby Hancock on maximizing backyard fun with toddlers

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 an Inflatable 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!