Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Local Things to do that are Almost as fun as Travelling

If I could, I'd be travelling every chance I got.  The truth of the matter is, we travel way less then we want to.  Compared to other travel bloggers around the web, we've been nowhere! We haven't even been overseas! We've only been to various parts of Canada and the United States.  Basically, anywhere we can drive.   And I hope to change that, but in the meantime I am exploring areas in my country that I haven't seen any chance I get.  

But what about those times that travelling just isn't in the budget? Or you can't get the time off of work?  Well,if you are like me, you may feel sort of blue if you have to stick TOO close to home.  But there are things you can do to make sure you are having at least CLOSE to as much fun as you would have if you were travelling.

1.  Hit up local festivals.  Especially ones focused on various cultures.  Every Summer there is an ethnic food festival in my area.  I look forward to it all year.  It gives me the chance to taste foods from other countries right in my own hometown!  And of course, it's the one time of year I allow myself to buy a ridiculously expensive freshly squeezed cup of lemonade - by a guy in a giant lemon, no less. :)  

2.  Hit up as many food trucks as you can.  Speaking of food, the food trucks that are available these days are absolutely amazing!  I discovered our area has quite a variety of trucks selling everything from tacos, to perogies, to deep fried pickles.  I definitely plan to sample a few I've never been to this year.  I may like to stuff my face more than the average person though....

3.  Find some local wineries or breweries.  We live in an area that is popular for their wineries.  Although i haven't been on a wine tour due to having small kids with me most of the time, it would be a pretty nice way to spend a day with my husband.

4.  Go camping someplace new.  There are so many provincial parks (or state parks if you are in the US) with unreal beauty and adventure waiting for you.  Go camping at one of the parks you've never been.

5.  Go to all the local Farmers Markets.  I love to walk along all the booths at Farmers Markets with their brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, flowers, and artisan creations. Drive a little farther than your usual market destination and discover a new market you've never been to!

6.  Throw your own party, theme and all.  Invite all your friends over for a BBQ.  Want to feel like you are travelling?  Pick a country for your theme. Have a Luau or a Fiesta or celebrate Chinese New Year.

7.  Make a meal from another country.  I know, there I go talking about food again.  Search on Pinterest for some recipes of some dishes from other countries around the world and try creating it at home.  

8.  Relax in a little coffee shop.  One that you have never been to. Bring a good book, and order one of those lattes that have the pretty foam pictures drawn into them.  And of course, don't forget to take a selfie.  I have no shame in taking selfies. With food.  I will take selfies with food for as long as I walk on this earth.  

If you can't go on a big trip this year, how will you fill the gap?  It's easy for me to feel sad about it when that happens, but instead of wasting my time being sad I would rather fill my time with fun things to do!

Monday, May 9, 2016

5 Ways we are Saving Money to Travel

Travelling, for us, is a priority. But we live on one low income which means we need to be creative in how we make travel happen. In my last post, HERE, I shared that we are going to Colorado this September. Some of our ways to keep travel expenses down will be camping at cheap and free sites, making our own meals, and driving instead of flying there. Regardless of how cheap the trip itself will be if we cut corners, the truth of the matter is that we still need a good chunk of money to travel. 

Here are some ways we are making it work.

 1. We put at LEAST 20 dollars away from every weekly paycheque. 20 dollars doesn't seem like much, but after months of doing that you will easily have a few hundred or more dollars building up. If we have extra money from a paycheque, we put in more than 20, and there has been the odd week we can only put in 10, but SOMETHING alway goes into the fund.

 2.Christmas money. Every year we get some money from relatives for Christmas. Sure, initially we wanted to spend it on things such as clothes or items for our house, but we reminded ourself what we wanted more.

 3. Points Cards. We are big fans of the PC Plus points program. Most people use these points for free groceries, but do you know you can use them to purchase a gift card from No Frills (or Loblaws, or Independent Grocers) such as a prepaid Visa? We save our points, buy a gift card, and use it for gas on our trip.

 4. Surveys. Okay, so this is not my favorite way to earn money, that's for sure. But it's something I can do at home in the middle of homeschooling my kids or tending to the needs of my family. It's not a lot of extra cash, but it's something that will make a difference on our trip.

  5. We don't eat out much. Nor do we go through drive thrus for coffee and donuts very often. Since Christmas our family has gone out to eat once, and my husband and I have gone out to eat a couple of times separately with friends. We even stopped ordering pizza for our family, and instead make our own homemade pizza. We are big foodies and LOVE to eat out, but we know we will love an adventure on the road even more!

 Saving for a trip you really want, especially when living on a lower income will take sacrifice and time. But in the end, if you really want it, you can make it happen! It may take longer than someone with more disposable income, but it's not impossible. After our trip to Colorado, we are saving for a family trip overseas. We are estimating this will take us 5 years to save for. 5 YEARS! For this impatient woman, it's going to be tough, but I want this trip and have decided I will be fighting to make it happen.

 Where would you go on a trip if you had the money? Are you saving to go somewhere?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Colorado Bound

This coming September we have decided it was time for another big trip.  After doing copious amounts of research, we settled on Colorado.  It has been 4 Summers ago I first saw the mountains, and I really didn't get much time to "play" around them.  I have been desperate to go back.  But this time instead of the Canadian Mountains we are headed to Colorado!

Because we live on a limited income, we will once again be driving.  Our farthest destination in Colorado, Silverton, will take us 30 hours to get there.  But the journey is always half the fun for us.

Starting in Silverton will allow us to trek along the Million Dollar Highway.  One blog I read described it as being a "sneeze away from driving off the edge."  But the views are apparently magnificient, and I am still upset that we never drove along the Icefield Parkway when we drove through Banff, Alberta.  So I refuse to miss this opportunity!

Million Dollar Highway
The drive on the Million Dollar Highway will take us to the Ouray and Ridgeway area, where we hope to take a hike out the the Lower Blue Lake.  However, this hike is 10 km round trip, so I am not sure if  am pushing my luck in thinking my kids will be able to do this.  My two older could do 7 km for sure, but I am wondering if those last 3 kms will be possible.  As for my youngest, who is 4, he hates walking on the best of days.  So all this to say this hike is still up in the air.  But the lower lake is a gorgeous turquoise colour thanks to being fed by glaciers.  So I imagine it really is a sight to be seen.

From there we will drive towards Canon City.  On our way we will stop and camp where we see fit.  There has been a great website, called Free Campsites, that shows many free or super cheap ($12 or less) campsites along the way.  Many of these have no amenities, but many still have outhouses (but don't forget to bring your own toilet paper!).  We are going to attempt to camp at some of these free sites.  We will see how it works out.

Royal Gorge

In Canon City we will be exploring the Royal Gorge.  From there, we will head over to Manitou Springs to see the Manitou Dwellings.
Manitou Dwellings

 And then on to Colorado Springs where we hope to explore many areas, The Garden of the Gods, and Seven Falls.  One of the locations we are excited about as a family is the Family Center at Focus on the Family.  We listen to their radio program and they have an area for kids at their centre that includes Wit's End from Adventures in Odyssey, along with some other fun things.

Seven Falls

As you can see, even though it is months away, we are already excitedly planning away.  Am I missing anything you think we shouldn't miss in Colorado?  Stay tuned to find out how we are saving for our trip, and how we are hoping to cut costs to make a trip like this possible for a one-income family of 5!

Monday, February 29, 2016

When your Child is Sick but no one will Listen....

My third child, the baby of the family, was 8 months old when I started to notice something was wrong.  He was showing signs of wanting to walk, not uncommon for my babies.  The other two started walking at the same time.

But then he didn't start walking.  And stopped trying.

He cried, and held his ears, and needed to be held all the time. When he started to pull himself up to standing position he couldn't stand long.  Thus began countless trips to emerg in the middle of the night.  Through snow storms, good weather, and rain.  I started losing count of how many trips we made.

Each time we went they would diagnose him with an ear infection.  Each time we left with a new prescription.

I also started to lose count of how many prescriptions he had been on in a very short time.

They decided he needed tubes in his ears.  They did the surgery.  He didn't get better.  Actually, he got worse.
My little guy right before he had his ear tubes put in.

I started having doctors and nurses tell me that maybe he was crying because he was teething.  I wanted to fire back at them that I had three children and was NOT an idiot. The doctors kept telling me that some babies didn't walk till as old as 18 months.  At 15 months I tried to explain to them that he was ready to walk months ago - but something had stopped him from being able to.  No one listened to me.

Finally, I asked for blood tests to be done.  Something was wrong, but I didn't know what.  I just knew it was more than ears and teeth and normal baby stuff.  They didn't want to do the tests on such a small child.  I pushed anyways.

It took three people to hold my precious baby down to draw blood.  I had to leave my husband in charge of it as I left the room and went down the hall and prayed and cried while I heard him scream.  It took them about 20 minutes to get it done.  

That same night the doctor called me at home.  His B12 levels were dangerously low.  B12 deficiencies can cause permanent damage. Many vegetarians are b12 deficient because plants do not contain B12 but we ate meat so that wasn't the problem.  For some reason his little body wasn't absorbing it.

We put him on a supplement.  One week later he started walking. He never went on a prescription for an ear infection again since then.  

Why am I telling you this story?  Because, moms (and Dads), you know your child.  Doctors and nurses and experts are wise, but sometimes they miss things.  Sometimes they brush you off.  Sometimes they think you are overreacting.  But as parents we have to push for our children.  Trust your gut.  And if in the end you were wrong? well, so what.  Better to be wrong about a situation than to be right and not push for the help you and your child needed.

My little boy? He is now an active, healthy almost 4 year old.  He takes a supplement every day to help maintain his B12 levels.  I hate to think of what would have happened if I listened when they told me that doing blood work on a 1 year old was a bad idea.  

What about you? Have you ever been in a situation where you had to really advocate for your child to get the help they needed?

Peace & Love. ;)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

You Know You're a Mom When....

Remember life before kids?  Yeah, neither do I.

Although, I do have this sneaky suspicion that I didn't say so many weird things, or witness so many weird events as I do now.

You know you're a Mom when.....

1.  You yell things like "stop sitting on your brother's head!" or "Do not lick the window!"

2. You spend 20 minutes googling the proper names of all the minions to end a sibling argument on whether Bob is the minion with one eye or two.

3. You spend 30 minutes searching for a favorite stuffie that your three year old needs to sleep with, even though he didn't need that one yesterday.

4.  You push your 1 1/2 year old's hand away just in time from pulling up your shirt while standing in the grocery line because she decides she HAS to nurse right this moment.  It doesn't matter that you have $150 dollars of groceries you need to put on the conveyor belt and bag.  She wants to eat NOW.

5.  You stand in the middle of the store while your child is having a full out tantrum on the floor deciding the best next move only to look around and see half the store giving you the look.  You know the one I'm talking about.

6.  You get in your minivan and start singing along to the "The Wheels on the Bus".  Three more children songs play on the CD until you remember you are actually in the van alone (rare, I know) and you can listen to your own music.

7.  You catch yourself saying things your mother said to you that you swore you would never say.  Things like, "Because I said so, " or  "if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?"

8.  You know all the words to all the songs that play on the Fisher Price toys.

9.  You know every name of every character in Paw Patrol.  You even have a favorite.

10.  You hear a child sniffle or murmur at 2;00 a.m. and you jump out of bed, out of a deep sleep in .2 seconds to make sure everyone is okay.

11.  Bodily fluids barely gross you out anymore.  You've analyzed them, cleaned them up, worn them. You are a pro on how to handle whatever comes out of the body now!

12.  You forget that not everyone feels the same way - especially the couple who is over for dinner and yet to have kids.  The look on their face reminds you that talking about bodily fluids at the dinner table should be avoided when guests are over.

13.  When you take a shower you are constantly listening to make sure the house isn't being destroyed.  Every 2.5 minutes you yell out to make sure everyone is okay.

14.  You choose which purse to buy on how much of the kids stuff it will hold.  It needs to be big enough for snacks, water bottles, a toy or two, and hand wipes.  

15.  You quietly try to open a chocolate bar in a corner of the room so no one will hear so you can have it all for yourself.   The kids always hear though, no matter how far away they are.

What about you?  Have anything to add to this list?

Peace & Love. :)

Friday, February 26, 2016

27 Ways I Save Money

There are so many little (and big) ways you can save money.  And more money in your pocket means more money for the things you love!  Whether it be travel, or that new couch set, being able to put aside some money is always a bonus.  Here are some ways I save money:

1.  Bake lunchbox snacks instead of buying prepackaged.

2.  Hang laundry in the warmer months.

3.  Do laundry on off-peak hydro times.

4.  Make my own bread and tortillas.

5.  Make my own shampoo and soap.

6.  Drink water instead of juice.

7.  Close the bedroom doors without a heating vent in them during the day while the kids are at school.

8.  Meal plan.

9.  Shop the sales for groceries.

10. Use coupons.

11.  Earn and save PC points.

12.  Make homemade gifts for celebrations.

13.  Cut back on eating out.

14.  Buy clothes, furniture, and anything else I can get secondhand.

15.  Use baking soda and vinegar to clean my home.

16.  Use a programmable thermostat.

17. Use Checkout51 for cash rebates on groceries.

18.  Use a Divacup instead of pads or tampons.

19.  when booking a hotel, use budget sites like Priceline or Hotwire.

20. Camp instead of sleeping in a hotel.

21.  Use PC Financial for your banking -it's FREE!!

22.  Avoid ATM fees - use my bank's machine.

23.  Use Netflix instead of cable.

24.  Have a "no-spend" month.

25.  Make my own yogurt.

26.  Wear hand-me-downs.

27.  Plan to run my errands all together to avoid extra trips out

Although I am not doing every single one of these options to save money at the same time, I have used all of these ideas at one time or another, and most of them I do on a regular basis.  If you incorporate some of these ideas into your life you may notice a difference in your pocket book.

Did I miss any really great money-saving ideas?

Peace & Love. ;)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Beauty of Winter

I am not a huge fan of Winter.  Just saying that feels so "un-Canadian" of me.  But it's true.

Oh sure, I love the beginning of Winter.  That is when all the excitement of Christmas has me enjoying, and even yearning for the snow.  Anytime I see those flakes fall in December I am quick to put on my Christmas music, and dance around my house feeling as if I am in a magical moment.

And then those snowflakes fall in January.  And I just turn my back on Winter.  That snow must be really confused...I mean, I was in love with it a month ago, and now I stare at the same white, fluffy stuff with disdain.

Poor snow.

However, there is one type of snowfall that still steals my heart.  It's that big, white, fluffy snow.  The flakes that fall so quietly and softly, and pile up on the limbs of trees.

This type of snow can fall in April, and it will still have me staring at it's beauty in awe.

Somehow, when I get to experience this type of snow, it feels as if all is right with the world.  It is quiet and peaceful.  

Of course, the next day it doesn't look like this, and I am back to my disdain for Winter.  I think I may need an attitude check! Or Spring.  I'll take Spring instead. ;)

What about you? Do you have a favorite type of Winter day?

Peace & Love. ;)


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