Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tips for a Frugal Trip to Great Wolf Lodge

I have been hearing about Great Wolf Lodge for years now, as it seems everyone with kids makes at least one trip in their lifetime to it, but it really hadn't been on my radar, mostly due to cost.  But this year we decided it was time to take the kids after we had to use some money from our "go south when it gets cold for  vacation" fund for our rust bucket on wheels (aka, family van.)  So, we figured this was a nice compromise to not completely disappoint the kids, but not go into debt taking a family trip.

So here's my tips for doing Great Wolf Lodge, frugal style. :)

1.  Book During off-season. My first thought was to go to Great Wolf Lodge at Christmas time.  The Christmas atmosphere would make it magical! But when I looked at prices I noticed that if we went at Christmas instead of a slower time we would be paying $240 dollars more a NIGHT!!!!  Wow.  No thank you.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized the crowds would drive me crazy anyways.  It was busy enough on a slow time for me.  I can't imagine the lines and the room in the pools at high peak times.  Going the first week of November was a perfect and frugal time for our family.  Weekdays of course are slower too.

2.  Find a coupon. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who received a coupon in her email that she forwarded to me.  It seems like if you sign up for their newsletter as well you can receive coupon codes.  The coupon we used was 30% off!!  So put the word out to friends, search online, sign up for the newsletter, check groupon...find THAT coupon!!!

3.  Bring most of your own food.  The rooms are equipped with a microwave, coffee maker, and mini fridge.  We brought most of our own food to make meals in our room.  You can't have microwave popcorn though...:(  discovered this after I brought a bunch. :( )  We made oatmeal in the microwave, Kraft dinner for the kids, had bagels, taco salad that I made at home and assembled in the room, and lots of snacks!
Eating breakfast in our hotel room.

4.  Eat at the LUNCH buffet.  Because my husband and I are HUGE foodies, i knew we would want to eat at least ONE meal at an onsite restaurant.  The buffet is pretty popular for breakfast and dinner, but it is a LOT cheaper at lunch.  Sure, you don't have as much options during lunch, but there is still plenty of food to fill you, plenty of options to please the whole family, and you don't have buyers remorse after you leave.

5.  Buy the Paw Pass.  Now, this may get mixed reviews on whether it is a frugal option or not, but hear me out. The Paw Pass is a deal you purchase where you pay about 65 dollars and it gives you about 120 dollars worth of activities and items for your kids.  There is so much more to do at Great Wolf Lodge besides the waterpark, but most of it costs extra money.  I knew if we went without a plan we would feel overwhelmed at what extras we would allow our children to do and in the end probably pay more money than we had planned mostly because we had never been there and were uninformed.  With the Paw Pass the kids were told before we went that they were not to ask for anything else.  Not only did the kids love everything on the Paw Pass, and did not ask for anything extra on top of it. (well, except the 3 year old who didn't really "get" a lot of it. ;) )  And it was often a nice break from the waterpark.
The ears and stuffies were part of the Paw Pass

Magiquest is a fun game that is also include in the Paw Pass.  The basic wands are included but there are an insane amount of "extras" that you can buy, including toppers, fancier wands, capes, etc.  We, of course told the children the basic wand that was included was what they were getting.
6.  Find other ways to save for your trip.  For those of you who shop at No Frills, you most likely collect PC plus points.  We had been saving ours since the beginning of the year.  We had 80 dollars worth of points.  Do you know you can redeem your points for gift cards that No Frills sells?  We redeemed them for some Mastercard gift cards and used this to pay for our gas.

We also saved all our change for awhile and used that to budget for our two meals we ate out (one at the resort, the other was cheap pizza on the way home.)

Other ways to save?  Let family know you are going to GWL and would LOVE some GWL gift cards for Christmas or birthdays! :)

7.  Avoid the crowds.  I already mentioned earlier that booking during off-season will give you less of a crowd.  But I found that even during off-season it was busy enough for me.  My husband and I are not fans of crowds though.  However, we figured out on the last day that if we went to the waterpark during meal time, like dinner, it was less busy.  Everyone was eating, and we were having fun with barely any lines for the slides!!!

All in all our weekend was filled with a lot of fun, and we stayed under budget. ;)  Our 8 year old could go on every ride which really made it fun for me!  I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much if we had went when all our kids were younger, as our three year old couldn't go on a lot of the slides.  There was no shortage of things for him to do, but as someone who loves rides it was definitely way more fun going on the big slides with my 8 year old.  My husband and I were able to take turns going on the bigger slides with our oldest and middle child.  We probably will go to GWL lodge at least once more in our lifetime, but will wait for the next time to be when our youngest can go on all the slides.  I think it all depends on your personality - if you love wild rides, or if you are content hanging in the wave pool with the little ones.

So go to Great Wolf Lodge to enjoy your mini getaway. ;)

Peace & Love. ;)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Mom (or at least, THIS mom.)

A day in the life of a mom.

Let me show you what that looks like. ;)

7:00 a.m. - The husband gets up to go to work.  I pray the noise doesn't wake up the three year old in our bed.  Yes, that is right...middle of the night, he crawls into our bed...just like every night. I remember the time I said I would never have kids in the bed....yeah, if you guessed that comment was made BEFORE I had kids you would be right. ;)

7:15: -The 6 year old comes into my room and asks if he can play video games.  I give him the same answer I give him 9 out of 10 times -NO.  Guess he is banking on it being that 1 out of 10 time I say yes.

7:45 - I hear the two older kids singing together and playing in their room.  I smile to myself as I make sure to enjoy this moment.  I mean, wasn't it yesterday I woke up to a child screaming so intensely I was sure we were dealing with a broken bone, or a deep injury of some sort?  Turns out it was only a moment of screaming anger at his sister.  I'll take the singing, please.

8:00 - The three year old wakes up.  This is rare.  Usually he is up at 7.  I'm pretty sure this means it is going to be a good Monday.  Either that or he will make up for it by getting up at 6 tomorrow.

8:05 - By this point the kids have already asked me for breakfast 3 times.  I fumble around to feed them some toast, yogurt, and banana.

8:10 - I told myself I would start my day out with a green smoothie.  Whatever, it's Monday. Where's the coffee....

9:12 - Walk the kids to school.  How many years until I can let them walk themselves?

9:37- Drive into town (25 minutes away) to run some errands.  This includes a trip to the thrift store to get a cover up for over my bathing suit for the few days we will be away next week.  I know what you are thinking, stay-at-home mom soaking up the sun on a beach somewhere.  You can push that thought out of your head and replace it with a waterpark full of kids, noise, and, well, definitely no relaxing.

10:10 -Get in the thrift store, right to the aisle I need when the three year old announces that he "has to pee!"  Make a bee-line for the bathroom because we all know how long a three year old can hold it. Somehow, even though we make it to the toilet the kid still manages to pee on his clothes.  I spend the next 15 minutes cleaning up his pants and drying them under a public bathroom hand dryer. I give myself trouble for not bringing an extra pair of pants.  He's lucky he's cute and keeps flashing me grins like this all day:

11:30 - Stop at Walmart and buy some candy to hand out on Halloween.  Stand in the aisle and contemplate the wiser choice - cheaper candy, or better candy? Do we REALLY want to be that house that hands out the least popular candy?  My bank account says yes.  Sorry, neighbourhood kids. :(  

12:30 - Finally home!! How did a few simple errands turn into 3 hours? I'm beat.  But the kid wants to eat.  So lunch time it is.  During lunch I help the 3 year old memorize his verse for Awana Club tomorrow. I squeeze in washing a few dishes.

1:00 - Do some work on the computer (and another visit to Facebook of course) for the church Christmas play I am running while the 3 year old watches Paw Patrol. Write some emails, respond to some messages, and feel like I got something done finally!

1:45 - Work on some pallet sign orders.  But only for 15 minutes because now I remember that I need some power tools to build the sign and they are with the husband at work.

2:00 - Wait a second...when was the last time I had a shower? Friday? No, definitely Thursday.  4 days ago.  I was going to do some housework but I'd really like a shower instead.  What the heck, shower it is.  I silently pray that I get no pop-in visitors until I get the front hall swept and cleaned up.

2:02- The 3 year old is still watching Paw Patrol while I shower. (don't judge.:) )  Except, I'm a worrier, so I yell out to him every few minutes to make sure he is okay.  I'm clearly overreacting as he doesn't move from the couch the entire 7 minutes I am in the bathroom.

2:45 - Gotta throw some cookies in the oven for an after school snack!  Thankful I got the "cheater" cookies this time.  Pre-made balls of dough ready to pop in the oven at a moment's notice.  takes me 12 minutes and makes me look like a supermom with fresh baked cookies.

3:30 - How is it 3:30 already?  Speed walk to school to not be late picking up the kids.

4:00 - Feed the kids their snack and time for homework.  Homework shouldn't be allowed on Mondays.  I'm convinced our mom brains need at least until Tuesday to figure out how to help our kids with academics. But the 8 year old's project is due this Friday, so work away we must.

5:00 - Dinner!  Yay for leftovers!  Husband walks in the door.  I quickly fill him in on all the day's events, including an incident a child got into at school.

5:45 - Out the door again to swimming lessons.  Make sure to grab my book to catch up on my reading that needs to be done by Thursday night Bible study.  Sit on the bench and rotate between reading and looking up and making sure the kids know I'm paying attention.

7:30 - Sigh of relief that we are home again as the kids decided they wanted to know everything about puberty on the way home from swimming lessons.  Awkward mom managed to answer all their questions. The kids exclaim that they are hungry for the 100th time today.  Bananas for everyone as I start packing their school lunches for tomorrow.

8:00 - Husband puts the kids to bed.  Every. NIGHT.  I love that man.  I do some work on the pallet signs while he is tucking them in.  I make sure he doesn't forget a single toy the 3 year old needs to sleep with.

8:30 - Start thinking about all the things I need to do tomorrow but decide I am done for today so I sit on the couch.  And write this blog. I. AM. EXHAUSTED.

Until tomorrow, when I am back at it again...;)

Peace & Love. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

DIY Autumn Pallet Sign

I don't think I realized it until this year, but Autumn is my favorite season. The cozy sweaters and scarves, soup in the crockpot, hot tea, the colour of the leaves, a chance to wear my favorite boots again.  I love it all.

But I mostly love it because of pumpkin.

Pumpkin everything.

It is just the beginning of October and already I've made sure to indulge in pumpkin cookies, muffins, donuts, lattes, tea, and coffee.  My tummy isn't very happy with me these days, but my taste buds are LOVING me. ;)

But aside from the delicious comfort food that we eat all Fall, I also love the decor.  And this year I decided to make my own sign for the front of my house.

First, go and find some pallets.  They are everywhere.  Businesses have them, Facebook friends have them, random roads have them. If you look, you will find. ;)

Feel like a warrior while you take the pallet apart all by yourself.  Convince your husband that you need pink tools to do your job correctly.  (as you can see in this photo, I have not successfully convinced mine yet.) Don't wear flip flops while working with tools like someone else may have. *cough*cough*.

I share in this post how we put together reclaimed wood signs.  However, to connect the back of my signs now, I use metal connector plates that I buy at the hardware store instead of a piece of scrap wood.  I just didn't like how the extra wood at the back made my signs stick out from the wall.

The first thing I did after my sign was put together was paint the entire thing antique white with acrylic paint.  I then sanded the edges to give it a worn look.

After that I printed off my design I made and covered the back of the paper with chalk.  I then pressed the paper with the design on it to the board and wrote over it with a pen.  This transfers the chalk to the board allowing you to paint over it when you are ready.  You can see in the below picture where the blue chalk is. Okay, who am I kidding, you can barely see the blue chalk in the picture.

On a side note, this is the worst picture in all of blogland.  And really, who does their work in the middle of their living room floor on their 3 year old's car mat?  Seriously, try to NOT be jealous of my work space.  

So, yeah, after that, just paint over the chalk in whatever colour you choose. 

Find some pretty flowers to put with your sign.  Take a picture quickly, because in two days those flowers will be dead.  Wait, is that just at my house?  

No worries, just replace with a pumpkin.  They take a lot longer to die. 

Peace & Love. :)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Making the Difficult Decision to Stop Homeschooling

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

I was looking forward to the school year.  All the things we would learn together. I bought curriculum.  But as September approached, I couldn't wrap my head around preparing.  And as others on Facebook got ready to send their kids to school, I found myself a little jealous.

Not because I was desperate to get away from my children (although, I have my moments, though I'm not proud to say it).  But because I haven't been very good at time management.  And I was struggling.  The teaching of the kids was easy - they are still young, and they pick up academics fairly quickly and easily.  It was all the other things.  How in the world could I get the laundry and dishes done when the boys are roughhousing and scream because one is hurt?  How could I cook healthy meals and even find time for myself to eat in the middle of all the action in this house?

My children are loud.  I don't mean like, normal "child" loud.  No, they take it to a whole new level.  And I don't blame them for it.  My husband and I are loud.  No matter how hard I desperately pray for it, I do not have a meek and mild personality.

Loud people are passionate people.  Passionate people are emotional.  Whether happy or sad, or angry or excited, we often express it in a loud way.  I've often had people in the stores just staring at my children because of the joy they express over everything they see for sale in the Dollar store. Rainbow coloured straws?  (Squeal!!!) Red Christmas garland? (Shriek!!!)  Purple buttons?? (Scream!)  No matter what it is, it excites them.  Which is really awesome to watch them get so excited over something so simple.

Except when you are all crammed in a small home with no play room and that is the sound you hear all day.  Mixed in with shrieking from meltdowns and sibling fights.  And the excitement with these little loud people doesn't stop at night.  Sure, they go to sleep without any complaints, but most nights someone is bound to sleepwalk, have a night terror, or just wake up crying.  I'm convinced our brains don't shut off in this house. ;)

A funny thing about loud people - at least when it comes to adults? We may be loud, but we also CRAVE quiet.

And when it was all getting too much, when I couldn't keep up,  I started getting sick.  Like, stress sick.  My doctor did tons of tests but came up with nothing.  There was no explanation for my extreme stomach pain, constant fatigue, and other odd things that would occur that I just don't share.

So I made the tough decision.  One week late of course.  I would put my two oldest children in school.  My oldest one loves it, my middle child is having a hard time adjusting, though each day we see a little improvement.

Homeschooling moms.  Public School Moms.  Private School Moms.  NEVER let anyone make you feel guilty for your decision on how to teach your child.  It is not easy.  There is no one size fits all. We are all living with different family dynamics and what works for one person doesn't always work for the next.  We have different lives.  Some of us have two working parents, some have one, Some of us have volunteer commitments, some of us have a wide open schedule.  Some of us have one vehicle or some of us have two, or some of us don't drive at all!  Some of us have lots of kids, some of us have an only child, or somewhere in between.  Some of us work well under pressure, some of us don't.  To believe that there is only one way for your children's education is silly.

My kids have only been in School for one week.  And I already feel like i am managing my time well. I am also looking forward to really gauging where they are in their academics this year, as well as helping them learn to adapt to a new situation. But truthfully, I hope that one day I can homeschool them again.  But I am slowly coming around to the idea that it is okay to change things up and do what is right for your family in different seasons.

So here is to a new year, with new adventures! :)  What about you? Have  you had to make the difficult decision to stop homeschooling? Or to start homeschooling?

Peace & Love. ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My Happy Place

Today was just one of those days.  Just a "blah" day.  It was also my birthday.

But wait, before you start feeling sorry for me, please know I had a great birthday celebration this year.  My husband and in-laws spoiled me and made sure I wasn't forgotten.  It was just the actual day that wasn't that exciting.  My kids decided today was the day to fight a lot.

But hey, if there is anything you start learning with age, it's that not EVERY birthday is going to be amazing.  There will be good ones, and some boring, frustrating ones.  Life goes on.

So, tonight I decided to do something productive with my birthday.  I made myself a little "Happy Place".  A place where I can curl up with a good book, and a cup of warm tea, and a cozy blanket and just "be".

The fact that I am thinking about "cozying up" is ridiculous.  This week was one of the hottest weeks we've had all Summer.  As a Canadian you try to not complain about the heat, because you know that winter will come soon and it will be LONG.  But I reached my breaking point on the heat this week.  My body was not handling it well.  I felt sick, grumpy, and and basically hating the world.  So yeah, thinking about needing to cozy up because i am cold sounds really good right about now.

Anyways, here are some pictures of my little "me" spot.  Haha...who am i kidding? The minute I sit down in that chair I will have three kids climbing all over me.

Try to ignore the paint on the walls.  My living room...okay, my whole house, is in desperate need of a paint job.  I'll get around to it...eventually. ;)

I am by no means skilled in the "perfect home decor" category, but am learning how to make my home fit my personality and be the place I feel most comfortable in.  I hope to enjoy my little corner many nights this Fall and Winter!  I also hope to keep that new plant alive.  I don't have a really good track record for gardening, and I kill potted flowers way too quickly.  We'll see if this one survives my "black thumb".

What about you? Do you have your own little "happy" place?

Peace & Love. :)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

If you read my last post, you may have remembered that near the end I said I wanted to make chocolate avocado pudding again.

Well,  I did.

And it was glorious.

The internet is FULL of recipes on how to make this type of pudding, but I thought I'd share how I make it. :)  Because, maybe you are like me and you like anything that is quick and easy, something you can throw together in minutes.

Put three avocados in the blender.  (I think it goes without saying to peel them and take the pit out, right? ;))

Add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa. make everything taste better.

Add some maple syrup.  I totally didn't measure this.  I'd say I probably added like, 1/4 cup.  I do have a sweet tooth.  You probably want to adjust this to what works for you.

Then I added a little water to the blender and blended away!  I continued to add water bit by bit until it resembled the consistency of pudding. :)

And then, of course, eat.  And share.  Share with your kids.  I know, I know, I didn't want to either, but it just felt like the right thing to do.  ;)

Although this is a quick treat to put together, next time I want to refrigerate it after I make it.  Lukewarm pudding just doesn't taste as good as cold pudding.  Of course, I did make it on a day where it was 32 degrees outside and my avocados were sitting on the counter soaking up that heat.  I shouldn't a few months my coconut oil will harden from the cold in my pantry.  Yay Canadian winters!

So here is the recipe, condensed:

Chocolate Avocado Pudding
3 Avocados
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup of maple syrup (or to your taste)
Water, enough to make it into a pudding consistency.

Blend it all together.  Refrigerate for cold pudding.  EAT!!!

Go, make yourself some chocolate pudding.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My (unhealthy) Relationship with Food

For as long as I can remember, I've always been passionate about food.  Shortly after my first baby was born, I really started to make changes to try and combat the migraines I had suffered for years because no doctor could find something to even lessen the pain when i would get a migraine attack.  After a couple trips to the hospital, appointments to neurologists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors, homeopaths, etc. I knew that if I was ever going to find something to help my migraines, i more than likely needed to figure it out myself.

So started my journey full of green smoothies and juices, raw vegan meals, etc.  Mixed in between I definitely had my poor food choices (or yummy food choices, let's call it what it is..;)) but I was always trying something new.  And it helped.  The less wheat, sugar, and caffeine I ate, the less migraines I had.
A bulk order of health foods I used to order.

Even when my first two babies were born I was often making whole food dishes like avocado chocolate pudding, banana "ice cream", eggplant bacon, kefir, kombucha, etc.
Water kefir I used to make before the fear of drinking too many calories took over.

But then third baby came along.  Along with some very painful trials in my life at the same time.  And all of a sudden, my quest for eating whole foods got left behind.  I was in survival mode for so long.

And then, my relationship with food changed.  With the pressures of life, having a body that has changed after three babies and slowly getting older, all of a sudden "feeling good" wasn't my main goal with what i put in my body anymore.  I had fallen victim to my primary goal to be to lose that baby weight.  To get to that perfect number.

In the past three years I have constantly lost and gained the same ten lbs.  And not by any healthy means.  I gain it by bingeing on tons of bad for me food, and I lose it by not eating enough calories, by skipping juice fasting - by believing that if I get to that perfect weight then I'll feel good. And I am not against juice fasting, but most days when I do that I don't drink enough juice to fill my body with enough calories.  Not intentionally - I get busy and don't get back to the juicer -but in the end my choice is just to wait until the next day.  Many nights I prepare dinner for my family, and my husband asks me where my dinner is.  In an effort to hide it from my daughter so that she doesn't have self-image issues, i whisper to my husband that I'm fine.  but deep down I know I'm naive if I think that even if my daughter who is 8 doesn't pick up on it now, she will soon.

But you know what?  let's be real here - i actually have never got to that "perfect" number that sits in my head due to my unhealthy relationship with food.  And what's more?  I have not felt good for a very long time, especially this past year.  I have made trips to the doctor with unexplained pain, issues, and fatigue.  I have had tests for all sorts of things, and everything has come up clear.   Yet I know my body isn't happy.  It's mad at me.  It wants REAL food.  Not jumping from two extremes. It wants less wheat and sugar and more nutrients.  It wants FULL meals, and less processed junk.

I don't talk about my issue with my self-image that much because to be honest, as much as I have weight i want to lose I know in reality i don't have that much extra weight on me. I'd be happy o lose 15 lbs, but i know that for others it is a harder struggle and I don't want to complain about something that I probably shouldn't be complaining about.

But the reality is, no matter what you weigh, no matter your age, as women we are bombarded with media images, with what the world tell us we should be, with the pressures we put on ourselves.

So...why this long-winded post about this?  Partly to be real about a subject I don't talk about much. Partly because I believe as a woman especially, I am not alone in this struggle. Partly because I've decided that "NO MORE."  No more extremes.  I want to go back to whole foods in my diet, and I want to forget the number on the scale.  And it isn't going to be easy.  Life is busy and the kids and I are on the go a lot.  But I am not going to put huge expectations on myself.  I am just going to start out small.

And I am not going to be mad at myself for the past 3 years.  I know I was just trying to "get through" some stuff.  I know I had a lot of pressures.  But as my babies get older I have more time to take care of myself.  And I also know they are watching me.  And foodwise, I need to lead a better example.  I know I would be heartbroken if my daughter was as stressed about the number on the scale as I am.  I know I would feel like I failed her if she was like me, feeling the need to step on that scale - EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING.  and I know I would try everything I could to teach her that she didn't need to feel sad every time she saw the number pop up that was too high than she had hoped.

I will continue to fill my body with green smoothies and juices full of nutrients, but along with other foods. I will continue to work to keep consumption of foods that are bad for my body to a minimum.  I will try harder to fill my body with WHOLE foods, and most importantly, ENOUGH whole food calories.  And I want to exercise again.  I want to run again and get my heart pumping!
My one and only 5k.  It's time to work towards it again!

Little changes.  I think I'll start with some avocado chocolate pudding.  I'm pretty sure the kids won't complain! :)  I hope to post my journey here.

Now excuse me while I go make some sweet potatoes and eggs for lunch, with a smoothie on the side. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Montreal with Kids

One of the items on my bucket list is to see all the provinces of Canada. Last month we went to Quebec for the first time, ever.  I had heard from others that Montreal was beautiful, especially Old Montreal.  Of course, I had to check this out for myself.

Turns out, when you tell people you are going to Montreal with small kids, they think you are a little crazy.  But I never said we were a normal family, so regardless of people's reactions, we took the kids anyways. ;)

I really didn't feel like it was a big deal, until we did something like taking the kids on the subway, and I couldn't find another kid around.  So yeah, maybe it's not the norm, but our kids will tell you how much fun they had experiencing new things!

Waiting to take their first ever subway ride!
So, here are my tips for going to Montreal with kids.

1.  pack a lot of snacks.  We spent a lot of time walking in Old Montreal.  It is absolutely beautiful there.  The kids thought it was the coolest thing that they could walk down the middle of the road.  But finding kid-friendly food proved to be more difficult.  There were tons of fancy and expensive dining options, but basic kid-friendly fare was hard to come by.  We eventually found a McDonald's, but it took us a lot of time.

2.  Mix up adult activities and kid activities.  Our kids are used to doing things on vacation that are enjoyable for the whole family, so they appreciate things such as beautiful scenery, interesting architecture, or hiking on trails.  But after making them walk for a while, we decided it was time to have an activity geared mainly for kids.  We took them to the science center, which I would have never done if it was just my husband and I, but I knew they were reaching their limit of activities geared more to adults and decided it was time for an activity that would really speak to them.

3.  Don't stress about a schedule.  Don't overbook your vacation.  When it comes to kids, interruptions come up constantly.  A child needs a band aid, someone had a potty accident, their little feet need a break, etc.  If you have high expectations of what you expect from the trip, you may find yourself disappointed and frustrated with your kids.  Leave lots of room for flexibility.

4.  Bring a stroller, even if your kids are a little older.  My youngest is three so naturally we brought a stroller.  But it turned out that my 6 year old ended up with a fever the whole trip and couldn't walk very far.  So, the three year old ended up walking, and the 6 year old ended up in the stroller for most of the trip.  I was very thankful for that stroller.

5.  Be clear with your children on expectations.  I really wanted to take a tour of Notre-Dame Basilica.  Before we went in, I sat down with the kids and explained to them the importance of being quiet in the church, and not running around.  They knew it was expected, and they were very quiet as we admired the architecture of the church.  Near the end they were getting a little antsy, and we took that as our cue to make our way towards the exit, but they lasted more than long enough in the church and were respectful the whole time.
Inside Notre Dame Basilica

6.  Don't push them too late.  Overtired kids means cranky kids.  No vacation is fun when the kids are cranky.  We retired to the hotel shortly after dinner each night, allowing the kids to get a good night's sleep.

Bottom line, taking your kids on vacation can be a lot of fun.  Just don't expect it to be the same as if you went without kids.  Montreal was a blast, but we definitely weren't wining and dining in Old Montreal and enjoying the night scene!  Instead, we have created lasting memories with our children, and hope that they will cherish these trips that we take!

What about you? Do you prefer to vacation with your kids or on your own, or just with your significant other?  Maybe you prefer to go with a group of girlfriends?

Peace & Love! :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Signs and Shows

Oh man.  Every week I think about all the things I want to blog about, but it is Summer and life is busy.  And as any Canadian knows, you make the most of the long, hot days of Summer because before you know it, we are back to shoveling snow.

Last post I shared about how I make a barnboard sign.  Well, that was my first sign I made and I was hooked.  I started to collect pallets, and all of a sudden, this happened:

And many more signs have been created.  I am just having so much fun doing it.  If you want to learn how to make these, read my tutorial HERE.

I made a welcome sign and couldn't bear to part with it, as it matches my front door perfectly.

Also, add into the mix my other love, tie dye.  This is the time of year for festivals and shows.  I love my little set-up:

The best part of these events are seeing other amazing ideas and creations.  I am absolutely adoring this yarn truck:

I would love to drive my tie dye in a truck like that!

This is just a small snippet of what I've been up to, and I hope to find some time to blog again, as I miss it here!

Peace & Love. ;)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

DIY Barnboard Sign

I have been in love with reclaimed barnboard signs ever since they started appearing everywhere.  So I was super excited when my husband brought home some barnboard from work one day.

If bringing me the supplies wasn't enough, he helped me put it together.  We took two of the boards and screwed scrap pieces on the back to hold it together.  We used three pieces because it is a longer sign.  One near the top, one in the middle, and one in the bottom.

Then I started working on my design.  I used graphics from my Silhouette Cameo program.  I was inspired by a t-shirt recently and wanted the same saying on a sign.

After I knew how I wanted it to look, I needed to transfer it.  Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the transfer process so I am hoping I explain it well enough.  

After you print out your design, take a piece of chalk and cover the back of your design with chalk.  I used white, but had to change halfway through because I couldn't see where I had coloured the chalk on the back.  So I switched to green half way through.

Place the paper on the wood.  Take a pen or pencil and trace your design.  This will transfer the chalk onto the board, but only where you trace.  

Okay, so I accidentally started painting the words before I took a picture, but you can see the rest of the image is outlined by chalk.

Grab your paint brushes and start painting it!  I used a paint marker for the "Did Someone Say" just because the detail was a bit more fine, but I think it would have turned out the same if I just used my fine paint brush.  I used acrylic paints for the rest.

As you can see, there is a spot on my board that has some of the wood scraped off.  The best thing about barnboard is that it is okay if it looks rough! :)

Here is the finished product.  It makes me smile. ;)

Peace & Love! :)

Monday, May 25, 2015

DIY Pretty Pastel Rainbow Picnic Table Makeover

Ever since I brought our picnic table home, I've wanted to paint it funky colours.  I searched and searched the internet for the perfect idea.

Then I came across the blog Little Miss Momma.   I was completely inspired by her picnic table, so I did something very similar.  Make sure you head on over to her blog and check out her table!

Here's how I did mine:

I lightly sanded the table with a hand-sander.  Then i started spray painting the benches with some white spray paint I bought.

Which turned out to be a waste of time and money because I ran out of spray paint so I had to go over it with some white acrylic paint.  

I should probably consider painting my deck, but hey, it's not as fun. ;)

That's right, I used acrylic paint.  From the dollar store.  Everything I read online seems to suggest if you use acrylic paint outdoors and then use an outdoor sealer on top of it, it should last.  Ask me in a few years if it's true. ;)

So, I basically just painted each board the colour I wanted, and the bottom white. I was on the third board when it started raining.  While it was sunny out.  You can NEVER trust Canadian weather forecasts. But I don't blame the weather people.  I blame Canada and it's weird, messed up weather.  Only in Canada can you wear shorts one day and winter hats and mittens the next.


 At first I decided to paint the edges of the boards white:

But then I changed my mind and painted the edges different colours:

I then sprayed two coats of sealer over it.  I still have to touch up some of the white, which I'll probably never get around to, but I am pretty happy with it!  Ashley from Little Miss Momma distressed her table, and I really like the look of it, but I also figured I have three small kids who will distress the table all on their own over time! :)

After it was all said and done I begged my Facebook friends to let me come to their house and pick Lilacs from their trees.  I always get all worried that I'll pick flowers from what I think is public property, only to be chased by an angry homeowner wearing a bathrobe and chasing me with a broom!  Anyways, because I have awesome friends, I got some offers from people to allow me to steal some of their lilacs.

See? Flowers make it so much prettier. ;)  

I'm excited for some projects I have in mind this week, one being a barnboard type sign and the other is painting my front door teal!  So stay tuned for posts about that. :)

Peace & Love. ;)


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