Tips for Taking Kids to the Calgary Stampede Parade with Ease

calgary stampede parade

Kicking off “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, the Calgary Stampede Parade is a world famous parade that showcases floats, bands, riders, cultural entries and much more. Led by the World Champion Stampede Show Band this two hour parade is not one you want to miss and is an important part of the Stampede experience.

Calgary Stampede ParadeWhen I first came to Calgary I was scared away from going to the Calgary Stampede Parade (attended by up to 400,000 people each year) by my boyfriend at the time. He told me horror stories about how you had to get up at 5 in the morning to go downtown and claim your spot so you had a decent place to view the parade – which started at 9. The whole idea of going down that early and waiting around for the parade for hours just did not appeal to me, no matter how much I loved parades, so I never went.

And I definitely could not imagine getting up that early and doing that with kids! So it’s ironic that it wasn’t until I had kids that I started going to the Stampede Parade. My oldest was 8 the first time we went, and the twins were 2. I really wanted to go and I was tired of waiting around for someone to come with me and being scared by the prospect of not being able to find a spot to sit.

The Magic Formula

Calgary Stampede ParadeA few years earlier my sister had been in town and had gone to the parade with her girlfriend who lived here in Calgary. Her girlfriend had discovered a ‘secret formula’ that allowed her to go down to the parade at a reasonable time and still get a decent spot to sit and view the parade – with her kids and without fighting the crowds; so I took a chance and tried her method to take my kids to the parade without having to go down for 5 am (which honestly is ridiculous). Sure you can purchase bleacher seats and show up whenever you want but these tend to be expensive and few, as 80% of the route is free seating.

It worked beautifully. Not only did we get super spots, right on the curb to view the parade, we only had to wait for an hour or so before the parade came our way (and there is pre parade entertainment starting at 7:30 am) – so it was super easy to keep the kids entertained and engaged until the parade started. Honestly it was fantastic, the kids loved the parade and I was so glad that I had taken a chance and went.

Now we attend the parade every year using this technique that well, yes I am going to share with you, as well as these 6 other tips to make your Calgary Stampede Parade experience with kids not only memorable but easy and fun for all.

7 Easy Tips for Taking Kids to the Calgary Stampede Parade

Pack a Healthy Lunch & Snacks – a well fed kid is a happy kid and you are a happy parent. I always pack lots of snacks and a lunch for everyone so that nobody gets cranky from being hungry. Yes there are places downtown where you can purchase food, but the pickings may not be the most healthy and lines will be long. If you bring your own not only can you choose foods that you want your kids to eat (and they enjoy) but they can eat when they’re hungry and you don’t have to go chasing after food or make them wait.

Calgary Stampede ParadeBring Folding Chairs – you may find these a bit challenging to carry with the kids but believe me it is worth it (and as they get older they can carry their own chairs). Watch the parade in comfort as sitting for two hours on the curb can make your butt pretty sore. The kids will likely be up and down from their chairs but that’s ok, still make sure everyone has their own as everyone will be more comfortable. They are also great space markers if you have to zip to the bathroom or run and grab something and don’t have another adult to leave behind to ‘guard the spot’.

Get into the Spirit of Stampede (and get the kids excited about it) – dress for it! Grab cowboy hats and boots, jeans and button down shirts and wear them to the parade. Kids gear is not that expensive or you can buy second hand. The kids will love dressing up and it’ll build their excitement and interest in what’s happening.

Bring Hats, Suncreen and Water – it can get very hot along the parade route and you are sitting there for at least two hours. Make sure you have full water bottles for everyone, hats (cowboy style of course) and sunscreen. Some places along the route provide some shade then turn into sun or vice versa so be prepared.

calgary stampede paradeDress in Layers (or at least bring a sweater and raincoat) – my mother always taught me to be prepared and that you never go out the door without your raincoat, even when the sun is shining brightly (we all know how fast Calgary weather can change). It also tends to be cooler in the morning as you are waiting and the parade starts and much warmer by the time the parade is over. If you bring a few layers it allows you to put on and take off as needed so that your body temperature is comfortable during the parade.

Pick Your Spot at the end of the Parade Route – this is what I do every year and we find a really good spot curbside for the kids. We drive down and park near the end of the route, getting down there by 9 in the morning, and we never have an issue getting a spot. Now this year they have thrown me for a bit of a loop because they have reversed the parade route – going backwards to what they usually do – so this throws a bit of a glitch into my plan, but the same concept will apply. We find our spot at the end wait maybe an hour for it to start (doesn’t that sound way better than 5 am) and the parade is finished on our end by noon.

Bring backpacks and/ or a wagon – you’re probably wondering how you’re going to carry all this stuff. When the kids were smaller I would bring a large backpack that I put everything in and a wagon for the chairs. As they got older though they would bring their own backpacks and carry their own chairs (seriously start them early and it will become second nature to them – when we went to Florida this year there were times I carried nothing because everyone could carry their own stuff, it was fantastic).

The parade really is a wonderful experience and can easily be enjoyed with kids and by parents with these easy tips (one tip for parents if you want coffee bring your own the line ups for this coveted beverage are crazy!)

Calgary Stampede Parade Combo

It is not one to be missed simply because you’re concerned about the crowd or getting a spot, these can be easily navigated. Really everyone is down there to have fun and enjoy the parade. So as long as everyone is mindful, patient and polite the Calgary Stampede Parade can be added to the memory books as a positive experience and one that is enjoyed year after year.

Calgary Stampede Parade

Have a tip you use when taking your kids to the parade? Share in the comments below.

Thinking of taking the kids down to Stampede grounds? Check out these tips to get the most out of your day, have fun and keep everybody happy.

Sogo for a Run

Sogo SquirtsMy son completes his last lap around the designated loop in Fish Creek, completing 10 laps easily without losing breath or stamina. Nine weeks ago he could barely do 3 without being short of breath and collapsing on the ground. Endurance, which he has definitely built up over the past 10 weeks, is only one of 4 components in the Sogo Adventure Running Program for Youth.

A little tentative when we began, my son was unsure if he even wanted to participate in this program. “It’s running Mum, that’s boring.” But I suggested we go and check it out as there was more than that, not committing him one way or the other so he agreed.

After the first night watching the other kids zoom through the forest, jumping over obstacles and balancing clothes pegs, he was in and couldn’t wait to get started.

Sogo Adventure RunningSogo Adventure Running is an outdoor running program for youth ages 3-18, that runs each Spring and Fall, offering 4 levels of skill and age based programming. It is based on the Canadian Sport of Life Long Term Athlete Development model and is a great way to get kids out there and active!

It has four components, endurance, speed/power, strength/agility and navigation, 2 of which are done each week on a rotating basis. I was so impressed the first night with the obstacle course the kids did I wanted them to set up an adult program for me!

I loved the fact that my son was getting outside each week on a regular basis, rain or shine, and playing in the outdoors (as he spends far too much time on electronics). He was active, with his peers and really challenging himself. I also loved that we got to enjoy and explore different natural areas in Calgary, as the locations rotated every few weeks.

Sogo Adventure RunningHe looked so vibrant and alive after each class. We would often leave in a rush to get there; he would say he was tired and didn’t want to go, but once we got there he got right into it, literally glowing and happy afterwards.

I was also pleased to be part of Sogo Squirts (3-5 year olds) pilot program last spring with my younger son and daughter, as I am a strong believer that when you introduce things to kids at a young agethat it sticks with them. An active foundation is so important for children. This program had the same components but was set up through games and activities for their age. Both my younger children loved looking for the orange and white flags and punching their cards on their navigation course.

This unique program is part of the Foothills Wanderers Orienteering Club and with registration allows youth to participate in their Family Fun nights on Wednesdays, where kids get to put their skills to work!

I was so pleased that this low cost, active program (all you need is a pair of running shoes) was available to all my children and I look forward to participating again! It is an experience like no other!Sogo Adventure Running

For more information on Sogo and registration go to their website sogoadventurerunning.com

How Many Ways Can You Make Hot Chocolate – YYC Hot Chocolate Fest

YYC Hot Chocolate FestWarm delectable chocolate and sweet cherries delight the palate, filling the senses and warming the soul…aaahhh heaven. The Black Forest hot chocolate, one of 36 possible heavens in the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest this February. A fundraiser to support Calgary Meals on Wheels, this is the 5th year various coffee shops, restaurants and chocolatiers in Calgary roll out their signature hot chocolate recipes and compete for the best hot chocolate in town.

I was very excited to discover this event this year (and wondered why I had not heard of it before). Throughout the month of February you can try as many hot chocolates as you like, then go online to vote for your favorite, as well as leave comments and participate in the additional contests.

Hot Chocolate Fest

Black Forest

I have had the pleasure of enjoying 3 so far, the Black Forest, Australian Summer and the Creamy TLC, all different and unique, all with flavors that are hard to compete with. My goal is to try them all, which will be a challenge in itself in just 28 days, but it’s hard to resist when there are flavors such as Red Velvet, Tiramisu and Butterfinger Peanut Cup to enjoy.

I realize this means that there may be some days where I will have to have two or three hot chocolates just to make sure that I get them all in before the 28th, but sacrifices have to be made, and happily I will make this one.

Hot Chocolate FestI love the idea behind this Hot Chocolate Fest, (especially with chocolate involved!), it’s fun, gets the community involved and is a great way to create awareness. It also supports local businesses, encouraging people to explore the unique coffee shops and niches in Calgary, it’s creative, expressive and supports a good cause! It is also a great social event, one where you can invite friends to join you, and create more of a network online. Who doesn’t love hot chocolate? (yes I realize that maybe someone doesn’t, but many of us enjoy the thought of a nice warm drink on a cold day. It means cozy, it means social, it means tastes buds coming alive with the different and unique combinations to enjoy).

The other thing I love about the Hot Chocolate Fest is many of the vendors offer dairy free options for those of us who wish to do so. When I ordered my Black Forest at the Higher Ground Cafe, I could choose from soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Now this did mean no whip cream and my cherry sunk to the bottom, but it was great that this option was available so I could participate too, and my body would be happy with me.

A Hot Chocolate Fest just gives me an all around good happy feeling, making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So whether you are tempted to try one or try them all, go out and check out the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest. Don’t forget to pick up your Hot Chocolate Passport from one of the vendors and check off each one as you go along to enter for additional prizes. I might see you out there. Come back here and share what your favorite was. Happy Hot Chocolate Drinking!Hot Chocolate Fest

Light Up the Night – Magical Musical Christmas Light Displays

IMG_2549Lights sparkle and shine as they dance with the music. Delight in the twins eyes as they wait in anticipation, the music building, wondering what will come. Then, in a crescendo of light and music together the spectacle really begins. Movement and rhythm, flowing and moving as their eyes follow the dance. This wonderful light display one of many that light up Calgary this holiday season.

I’ve always enjoyed those videos on youTube with the houses all decorated for Christmas and the musical accompaniment that goes in time with the light display. I always thought how cool that would be to see some of those live instead of just online. Little did I know that in Calgary there are a number of houses that do have such a light display. When my friend told me this a couple of years ago I was quite excited! So one night we went out and did a tour. It was wonderful! We enjoyed the light display from the comfort of our car, tuning into the posted radio station, which plays the music in time with the lights.

People are quite creative, incorporating all kinds of things with usually about 4 or 5 different songs before the show repeats. This year I took the kids out to see the lights for the first time. We made an evening of it, bringing hot chocolate and snacks to enjoy while we watched the lights. Luke and Chloe loved it! Dancing and moving it in the van while watching in wonder. We stayed at each house until the full set had run and then moved on to the next one.

IMG_2544The neat thing is that there are tons of them in Calgary and you can view as many or as few as you like. The site Lighten Up Calgary lists and maps out the houses that have such displays and you simply go to the site and create your route. We visited 3 houses when we went out last week but that was just the right amount for Luke and Chloe. And I thought it was great that they knew their limit and knew when it was time to go home. I would’ve have gone to one more, but they had seen, enjoyed and were ‘full’.

They fell asleep on our way home, tummies full of hot chocolate, and dreaming of dancing lights. Next year I’m sure we’ll go out again, as it’s another great free family activity to enjoy over the holidays. Most of them play every night in December and up until New Year’s. Who knows maybe one year we’ll even create our own display and be on the route – apparently it’s as simple as buying a kit. How fun will that be!

Christmas around Calgary

christmas events in calgary

One of the many things that I love about Christmas are all the fun family activities that are on to attend during this season. From crafts to critters, there is something each weekend to choose from and you’ll never run out of fun things to do!

Many of them are free, while some charge a small admission fee to get in. I love that many of them are also outside, which I think is a great way to get the kids outside and help the entire family enjoy winter! (cause let’s be honest sometimes winter is not so enjoyable). These events provide different ways for you to enjoy the holiday season, celebrating and demonstrating that there is more to Christmas than just gift giving – which I feel is important to teach the kids too.

5 Fun Christmas Events in Calgary

Every year we attend at least one but usually hit 2 or 3. Our top five holiday events in Calgary are:

Zoolights

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Zoolights

Held at the Calgary Zoo, view 1.5 million Christmas lights displayed in all shapes and forms, from animals to flowers. From late November to early January from 6 – 9 pm, children will be awed with the array of lights throughout the zoo. There are other activities for the kids as well such as snowman bowling, hay jumping (our favorite), as well as fire pits throughout to stop and warm up for a while. Hot chocolate is available for purchase, or bring a thermos of your own. There is an entrance fee for this event but it’s well worth it.

CP Christmas Train

This beautifully lighted Christmas Train rolls across Canada making stops along the way to the North Pole. It is a child’s dream come true as you watch the train pull into the station. There are crafts for the kids as well as an outdoor concert. We went for the first time a few years ago (yes it was minus 30 and yes I think we are crazy) and my kids absolutely loved it! In fact it is the only thing that they are asking specifically to go to again this year (I guess the weather did not deter them). It is a free event and a very magical experience – check the website for your local schedule (attendees are encouraged to bring a non perishable food donation).

Once Upon a Christmas

IMG_0771 - Version 2Enjoy an old fashioned Christmas at Heritage Park where you can enjoy a wagon ride, snow painting and a visit with Santa Claus. Shop the Heirloom Christmas Shoppe with unique finds at old fashioned prices! Children’s mazes, crafts and even a kids only store (that’s right no adults allowed) so your little ones can shop for you for Christmas. Our favorite here is the Christmas Train display, where you walk into a magical wonderland of model trains, zooming through Christmas villages and displays. Oh it is a sight to behold! My kids can spend hours in there watching the trains go round and round. Runs the 4 weekends before Christmas; there is paid admission to the park but you can find coupons at Safeway or First Calgary for discount on admission, which make it quite reasonable.

Christmas at the Hive

IMG_0846

Making beeswax candles

This event takes you out of Calgary into the outlying areas of Okotoks. Hosted by the Chinook Honey Company this free family event includes making your own beeswax candles, honey toffee, visits with the donkey, a scavenger hunt and mead tasting. My kids love making candles in the snow and of course tasting all the honey! There is also a viewing area inside where kids can see the inner workings of an actual hive and try to find the queen bee. Just a short drive out of Calgary, this is a wonderful event that runs on Saturdays in early December starting at 10 am in a beautiful rural setting.

Lion’s Festival of Lights

Largest free drive by Christmas lights display, this 115,000 LED light display lights up Confederation Park. Set up completely by volunteers this light display will wow and awe everyone young and old. It can be seen along 14 St. NW, just south of 24 Ave.

These are just a few of our favorite Christmas event in Calgary (and around). There are many others that we have not been to before that I would like to check out, like Christmas in Kensington, Christmas Skate at the Olympic Oval (Calgary Olympic Park), Christmas in Canmore; all a variety of crafts, music and activities and each a little bit different (Canmore is showing outdoor movies – super fun!). And new this year The Polar Express Train Ride! Can we say I am super excited about this one?

There are also a number of community skates and events. Sadly, we do not have a Santa Claus Parade, which I really think should be reinstituted. Yes we used to have one, and I’ve been, way back before I had kids, my husband and I went. But apparently there has not been one in Calgary since 2007. Cochrane, Banff, Airdrie, and High River all have one, I think it’s time for Calgary to have one.

christmas events in calgaryBut even without a Santa Claus parade, there are tons of activities to choose from. From outdoor events to theater – I love it! Because each weekend in December it is not what will we do this weekend? It is which event should we go to this weekend (thankfully some of these events are on during the week as well).

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t run ourselves ragged getting to all the Christmas events. I am not a big believer in getting it all in until we are exhausted and never want to see anything Christmas again. But it is nice to have the choice and variety to go out and enjoy our beautiful city, the season and our wonderful winter weather, creating more wonderful memories for years to come (even when it is -30C, cause yes we did that one year and that is the one that my children remember).

What are some favorite holiday/ Christmas events that you attend?

Connecting Children through Nature with Parent Me in the Park

IMG_4149Crisp autumn leaves crunch beneath our feet. The morning is crisp yet fresh, as we move along the wooded trail exploring. The kids are playing peek a boo amongst the trees, peeking out from behind tree trunks or hiding ‘obviously’ within the twigs. The pace is relaxed, amiable, and comfortable as we explore the natural world together.

This is how we spend our Thursday mornings at Parent Me in the Park. Exploring the beauty and wonder of Edworthy Park with other parents and children. Enjoying all that nature has to offer as the season changes and shifts, learning and discovering new things each week.

IMG_4150I love this program. It is one that is close to my heart as I am an outdoor enthusiast myself and believe strongly in the power of teaching and bonding with children in nature. I also believe there is huge value in connecting children to their natural environment at a young age. “More and more research is highlighting the benefits of spending time in nature. Rain, shine or snow… (Parent Me in the Park) a morning of fun and discoveries.” If they use that childhood wonder and curiosity to learn and appreciate the planet through the outdoors, then they will take good care of it as they grow up.

Lead by Nancy Richard, a certified PCI Coach and Early Childhood Educator, Parent Me in the Park is a wonderful program that does just that. Through exploration, songs and stories, she not only connects the children with nature but teaches us, as parents, to connect with our children as well, creating a bond with them, like no other.

IMG_4130I discovered this program when I was at Angel’s Cappuccino and Ice Cream Cafe earlier this Fall (which was also a wonderful new discovery) parousing the bulletin board and saw a poster for the program. I was intrigued and excited, so we went the first week to find out what it was about.

Now our first week was actually in Griffith Woods, which is located in southwest Calgary in the community of Discovery Ridge. Due to our whacky snow storm that hit in early September, Edworthy Park had been closed due to all the damage and fallen trees from the snow. The location didn’t matter though, Nancy weaved her magic with all the children quickly and easily.

IMG_4131Luke and Chloe were engaged right from the start with Nancy’s calm and easy going manner, and Chloe’s new ‘job’ pulling the wagon full of all our supplies for our morning. The layout of the program is similar each week with a short circle of songs and games, then a walk (or meander) through the park pausing and discovering along the way. We choose a path and go and explore, finding sticks, pine cones, rocks, etc. along the way. Nancy goes with the flow, finding those teachable moments, whether it be about berries or pine cones, as our walk progresses.

After our walk, we enjoy a fantastic snack of fresh bread and apple butter, with yummy cloudberry herbal tea. For some, this is the best part, enjoying this delicious and nutritious snack together in the outdoors. Once snack is completed we sit on the blanket together for a short story, which Nancy tells with the use of hand puppets. All in all a very relaxing, very enjoyable morning.

IMG_4151Both Luke and Chloe love it, as I never have trouble getting either of them ready or out the door. In fact, Luke who is sometimes hard to move, always jumps up after breakfast and gets dressed, standing at the door waiting. I think it’s fantastic!

And I love going to Edworthy Park as well. Looking forward to discovering a new area each week. My favorite so far being the Douglas Fir Trail; considered one of Calgary’s finest hiking trails with some of the most easterly Douglas Fir trees on the plains. It is a beautifully treed trail that leads along the cliff above Edworthy Park.

I was also pleased to discover there is a lot of Calgary history around Edworthy Park, which I always find interesting and fascinating to learn. Nancy will share tidbits she is familiar with, but there are also signs throughout the park describing the history of the area and how the park served Calgary in its growth and development.

IMG_4152Another benefit of course, is the friendships that are forming between the parents, as we come together each week with our children. Finding out about each other, things we like to do, places we like to go and the challenges we also face as parents. Creating another opportunity for support in our parenting journey.

IMG_4155It is a beautiful morning, one that provides many benefits for the adults and children alike. We always leave feeling happy, satisfied and full, ready for whatever comes with the rest of our day. I would highly recommend Parent Me in the Park to any parents with young children between baby to 4 years old. It is an experience you’ll never forget and a bond that you won’t create anyway else.

For more information on this program and to register contact Nancy Richard or find Parent Me in the Park on Meetup.com.

Earls on 4th Reopened and Better than Ever

IMG_2733As one of the many businesses that was affected by the June 2013 flood in Calgary, Earls Tin Palace celebrated it’s Grand Re-opening last week.

With more than 20 new dishes and ‘Creative Cocktails’ added to their menu, the newly renovated location reopened on February 26.

It was one of their busiest lunches with tables full of people coming to check out the ‘new’ Earls. Completely gutted this $4 million dollar reno does not disappoint. From the beautiful artwork at the front entrance (a topographical map of the Bow river), the all around bar in the restaurant to funky bathrooms with specially created vintage Earls wallpaper. Even the bar side is just as cozy as the restaurant side with the large screen tvs tucked behind the bar. Still viewable to enjoy the game but not interrupt your intimate conversation.

Seafood Louie Salad

Seafood Louie Salad

I had the pleasure that day of joining Cate Simpson, Earls Communications and Ellen Percival of Calgary’s Child for a fabulous lunch learning about and tasting the wares of this newly renovated location.

To be honest, I had not been to Earls for quite a long time, having thought from my last experiences that the menu was not that great and that it was just another run of the mill restaurant; that I had often frequented in my university days. I was excited and pleasantly surprised to learn that this was not the case!

Earls makes all their own sauces and salad dressings in house, everything is from scratch and they use the freshest ingredients. They are working diligently to provide gluten free and other dietary options to meet the needs of customers who are moving more towards those choices. They add 3 or 4 dishes to their menu each season to keep things fresh and in sync with the times and are continually researching and developing not only their food menu but their wine offerings as well! They now offer some of the more expensive wines for those who choose to indulge.

Dynamite Prawn & Mango Roll

Dynamite Prawn & Mango Roll

My biggest treat/ surprise was their sushi. I am not a fan of sushi, I have tried it a number of times in different ways and each time I did not like it at all. But when they brought out the dish I thought I’d try it, being in the spirit of things. They brought out a Smoked Salmon Pressed Sushi, Dynamite Prawn and Mango Roll and a Crispy Tuna Sushi Cone, all of which I loved! The lady beside me at lunch, Marnie, whose both husband and herself are chefs was so pleased and delighted that I liked it. She was very excited that I had now entered into the sushi world.

These dishes amongst many others, such as calamari, Seafood Louie Salad and the classic Earls Crispy Dry Ribs were all excellent.

Creative Cocktails

Creative Cocktails

The new Creative Cocktails were also a delight. From the Mad Hatter which is served in a steaming tea pot, to the Cabin Fever (all Canadian and served with a pinecone), these and  the other new cocktails delight the tastebuds!

Earls Tin Palace is definitely set to draw in the crowds. And will be a pleasure to peruse now and on the patio as the warmer weather begins.

10 Reasons why I LOVE a snowstorm

Snowstorm-2For the past 2 days we here in Calgary have had a major blizzard. Lots of snow coming down and a nice strong wind to blow it around. It was crazy! Highways were closed, accidents everywhere; they were strongly advising you to stay at home if you did not have to venture out.

I know a lot of people hate snowstorms and when one arrives, do not enjoy it with many complaining. But hey it’s weather and weather is one of the few things in our lives that we actually cannot change. Though a snowstorm is not always fun.

I actually love a good snowstorm for many reasons. I know many of you are likely going to argue with me on this one, but I think they are many good things that can come from it.

So here are 10 reasons Why I LOVE a Snowstorm

  1. It is a great excuse to take the day off! Whether you cannot get to work, school, etc. or choose not to go; you can take a break from the regular days activities.
  2. You can stay inside and cuddle up on the couch with your family. Watch movies andFamilie_2075 get cozy under a blanket.
  3. Or you could go outside and play in it! There is nothing like enjoying and playing in fresh new snow.
  4. It adds to the toboggan hills (and ski hills). So as soon as it stops you can go enjoy the fresh powder.
  5. It’s a good day to catch up on things at home. That unfinished project, that corner you wanted to clean out.
  6. You appreciate your mobility. Being ‘stuck’ for a day or two makes you appreciate the days of good weather and ones that you can come and go freely. You know without shovelling or warming up the car.
  7. During a storm we often enjoy warm cozy meals. A nice homemade stew or soup. Good hearty meals that warm the body and fill the tummy.
  8. It strengthens a sense of community. People seem to help each other more. Whether it be shovelling the neighbors walk or helping to move a stuck car, people easily and quickly stop to help.Jeff+Conrad+Major+Snow+Storm+Pounds+Buffalo+zWQrqC1pnnIl
  9. If you do venture out, it is very quiet when you get there. There are less people at the stores, gym and other public facilities.
  10. It’s beautiful when its over. There is a serenity about the world when the storm has passed, the sun comes out, and the peacefulness that exists.

Yes you may think I am crazy but I find there are many gifts in a snowstorm. And sometimes accepting and enjoying those gifts makes the aftermath of ‘cleaning up’ much more pleasant.Major February Snow Storm

An Afternoon at the Pumpkin Festival

IMG_2222One of the things I really enjoy about the Thanksgiving weekend is all the Fall Festivals that there are to check out. Fall in general seems to be a celebration of the harvest and represents the abundance in our world. Set against the fall colors and the golden sunlight I just find it a wonderful experience.

Now many of these festivals do run on other weekends as well, but I always like to pick one and make that the ‘trip of the weekend’, so that the kids associate Thanksgiving not only with turkey dinner, but with something fun as well.

IMG_2180This Thanksgiving we went to the Pumpkin Festival at the Calgary Corn Maze. And it was an absolute blast. Full of additional ‘pumpkin’ activities, such as pumpkin bowling, pumpkin decorating and pumpkin bingo, it is easy to while away your afternoon there. And that’s on top of all the regular activities that they have such as mini golf, navigating the corn maze, jumping pillows, hill slide, petting zoo and more!

Matthew on the hill slide

Matthew on the hill slide

The favorites were definitely the jumping pillow and the hill slide. Both which at first Chloe was a little hesitant to go on. On the hill slide once she went up and down a few times with me she got brave and started venturing out on her own. You could hear her squeals of delight when she got to the bottom and yelled that she did it all by herself, grinning radiantly from ear to ear. The jumping pillow was similar once D’Wayne was on there jumping with her for a bit, she became more confident and did it to on her own. (Now it’s debatable whether D’Wayne went on there to ‘help’ Chloe or because he really wanted to get on there himself. I remember when I first told him that they had jumping pillows, he got quite excited)

IMG_2230Even the maze was fun to go through with the kids, though it being at the end of the season is quite tromped down, the original paths hard to find. (Next year I am going at the beginning of the season when it’s fresh and green). The kids just wandered through the maze with us, Matthew taking the lead on finding the way out. Nobody got upset or worried that we were going to be stuck or lost in there, though I think the twins would have no concept of that at this point. Overall it was just a lovely, leisurely, fun afternoon. Checking out different activities as we pleased, no one rushing anywhere or hurrying people along.

IMG_2208Though there were a few activities that we did not get to, we did close the place down. The kids wanted one more time on the jumping pillow, so we went over for the last 10 minutes until they announced that they were closed for the day. We then gently got them all off, but no one complained or fussed, everyone seemed completely satisfied.

It’s afternoons like those that I really enjoy being a mother and having a family. There’s just something about going out and playing together that bonds us, relaxes us and satisfies the soul; for all of us, kids and adults alike. I think we need more of that in our lives, but sometimes that’s the challenge isn’t it?

The tractor ride

The tractor ride

Autumn Leaves

One of my most favorite things about Fall is leaf jumping! I absolutely loved it as a kid, making a big pile in the yard, jumping and playing in them. We would create huge piles  and run and jump. Or we’d bury each other in them and sometimes just lay there.

It’s hard to describe but there’s just something comforting about laying in the leaves, being surrounded by them. Both leaf jumping and lying in the them is something that I still enjoy and love as an adult!

Of course I was super excited to introduce this activity to my kids. Except in our backyard the number of leaves we had was small, being in a newer neighborhood. They loved it too.

On the weekend the kids went to Parkland Park with their Dad, which is an older community in Calgary where the trees are huge and the leaves are abundant. Luke, Chloe and Matthew all enjoyed playing in the leaves, Chloe even laying down and having a ‘sleep’.

I think this weekend we will all have to go and find some more leaves to jump in 🙂