Welcome to my Fairy Garden

A couple of weeks ago I taught a class for children about fairies. It was a great experience and the kids loved it! We got to play outside, do sketches, learn more about fairies and how they help us and make Fairy Houses!

Making the Fairy Houses was the part that everyone enjoyed the most, including me! I even had one of the staff members from the store come in just to join us to make them. The boys worked diligently and it was neat to watch what everyone created. I had provided a variety or materials for them such as popsicle sticks, twigs, glass beads, tin foil, etc. to create whatever they wanted.

I was really excited about these Fairy Houses as I had seen some in Greengate Garden Center and thought it was a fabulous idea. They had all kinds with miniatures to add, but I found them to be expensive. Then when I was searching on the internet I found ideas to make your own and I liked how they used natural materials to make them. This was also a less expensive way to go and I could easily make more than one. So I incorporated into my class.

Unfortunately I did not get a chance to finish it in the class so I brought it home incomplete. I had intentions of getting back to it to finish it up but seemed to be unable to. Finally yesterday I sat down with the twins while they played play doh (I love that stuff) and finished making my house. I was very happy with how it turned out and immediately put it out in the garden. Now when I go by and see it it makes me smile and the kids love it too. I think we might just have to make some more…

 

 

Once Upon a Christmas

One of the things that I love about Christmas is all the activities and events that surround the holiday. There are craft fairs, carol sings, Christmas parties and many community events that you can choose to participate in to celebrate the season. There is something for everyone, depending on what you like to do.

One of my favorite events is Heritage Park’s Once Upon a Christmas, that runs every weekend starting late November for the 4 weeks prior to Christmas. This is a wonderful family event that includes all kinds of activities for kids and adults alike. They offer kids crafts, visits with Santa, carolers, plays, wagon rides, mazes and a ‘Kids Only’ Store where parents are not allowed to enter with their children. This year they added firepits placed throughout the park, which are great places to cozy up and have a chat and warm up by the fire.

There is so much to do there that it is easy to spend the day. The challenge is that most of it is outside so you have to be to dress for the weather and be prepared to be outside. So for me I always choose a mild weekend to go with the kids. It is much more enjoyable for everyone and we can stay longer and enjoy what the park has to offer.

As this turned out to be a mild weekend, I decided to pack up the kids Sunday morning and head out. Though it was a bit of a challenge to get us all out the door (and I would have prefered to have left half an hour earlier than we did), we made it there with a packed lunch, hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies, dressed and ready to go.

Luke and Chloe love Heritage Park so I had no trouble convincing them to go, in fact they chatted about it the day before hoping to see the “choo choo train”, which only runs in the summertime, but I told them we would ‘check’. Matthew enjoys the park as well and though he had mixed feelings about going easily went out the door.

I always hit the wagon rides first, as the line for that tends to get long as the day goes on. Plus Chloe loves horseys, so was looking forward to it. Chloe was beaming and smiling and pointing things out, while Luke was just taking it all in.

Matthew's Christmas Reindeer

We ventured to the kids crafts where Matthew made a clothespin reindeer and Luke and Chloe made little puppets out of old Christmas cards and popsicle sticks. This area is really well set up, as there is a selection of craft ‘kits’ that the kids can choose from to make their craft and there are lots of volunteers on hand to help the kids out. For the younger children they have coloring sheets and the puppets as options.

Matthew really wanted to hit the Kids Only Store as he went for the first time last year and really enjoyed the freedom of shopping on his own and spending some money ūüôā We also saw Santa and went to the petting zoo.

Luke petting the sheep

The highlight for me though was definitely the Christmas Model Railway, housed in the pool hall. It is one of those as soon as you walk in you go “Wow”; as it really is a Christmas wonderland. There are at least 3 or 4 trains going around this beautiful Christmas scene, villages and houses, lights and trees. I love it because I have always loved trains, and the magical Christmas scenes. I have no idea why I love trains so much, but I think they are cool, especially the model railways that go around and around all by themselves. Which is interesting cause that’s all it does is go around and around- but I could watch it for hours. The railway was really well done; on loan from some private collectors, it was a beautiful site.

The Christmas Railway

We chowed down on peanut butter sandwiches and carrot sticks on a bench outside Gunn’s Dairy Barn and enjoyed homemade hot chocolate, made with fresh almond milk¬†(very easy to make your own), cacao, and spices, as well as homemade gingerbread cookies (sugar and dairy free of course). It was a bright sunny day with clear blue skies, a perfect wintery day, with the air of Christmas all around.

After walking and exploring we headed home, tired but satiated and satisfied with our Christmas adventures. Who knows where we’ll go next?

A Horribly Healthy Halloween – Tips for Sugar Free Halloween

sugar free halloweenSince eliminating sugar from our diet holidays have taken on a very different look for our family (yet we still enjoyed¬†pumpkin pie¬†at Thanksgiving! -sugar free of course). There is so much sugar and sweets that come with each holiday that it can be challenging to get around. The key is to find alternatives that meet the child’s needs without making him feel different or like he is missing out.

Halloween is no exception, in fact I would venture to say that it is the worst holiday connected to candy and treats. I remember Matthew asking me shortly after we eliminated sugar if he would be able to go trick or treating for Halloween. Thinking ahead, I already had an answer for him and told him yes he would be able to and then I told him the plan.

These are the things that we will be doing this Halloween to ensure it is sugar free and still enjoyable.

 

Tips for a Sugar Free Halloween

Go to a Candy Buy Back (or do the Switch Witch)

sugar free halloweenMatthew will go trick or treating this year but he will take all of his candy to an event called the Candy Buy Back, put on by a local dentist here in Calgary. It is the day after Halloween and they give the kids $1 for each pound of candy that they bring in. They have all kinds of prizes and they wear their Halloween costumes again.

We have done this for the past couple of years and he uses the money he receives to buy a book. So he still gets to participate in the “main activity” of Halloween and get something that he wants and is able to have.

Now some people may be upset by this as they go out and spend money on candy to give to kids and then they go and sell it. I do see their point but it is a choice and once you give it away who knows what happens to it. You could buy something else that is non candy and give that out (and people are starting to do that), decide not to hand anything out, or be ok with it. If we as a society want things to change then it has to start somewhere and the method may not be preferred but at least it is a start.

Have a Healthy Fun Supper

sugar free halloweenThere are also other things that you can do to eliminate or reduce the amount of sugar your child ingests this Halloween. Nina Manolson of Healthy Yummy Kids, suggests that for supper that night you prepare a full healthy meal that the kids will enjoy with a nice healthy yummy sweet at the end (you can make the cookies, cakes and treats without the sugar- check out some of my sugar free recipes). I take it one step further and make it a fun Halloween themed supper. This is basically taking healthy foods and getting creative and making them spooky. In the past we have done Monster Face Pizzas, Monster Brains and Skeleton Veggie tray.

This will not only satisfy their craving for sweets but they will also feel full, and therefore when offered candy to eat, they won’t eat it because they are not hungry. (Nina also suggests this strategy for afterschool outings and birthday parties).

Attend a Halloween Community Event

sugar free halloweenIt is also important to remember that there is more to Halloween then just the candy; there are many events and activities around it. If you look at the history of¬†Halloween¬†it originally had nothing to do with¬†candy¬†-it is society that has added the “treats” over the years.

When attending an event, the kids still get to dress up, and there are usually games, crafts and other activities. There are many special events in the community¬†(for instance in Calgary, we have the¬†Boo-roofic Bash,¬†Ghouls’ Night Out, Haunted Houses, etc). There are dances and classes that you can wear your costume to with other activities. Yes there are likely candy and sweets available but there are more to these events than the treats and it is easy enough to skip the treats if you choose to.

Decorate your Home for Halloween

There are loads of Halloween crafts that the kids can make and then use as decorations to put up. You can also add in things like Halloween soap dispensers and towels, spider webs on mirrors, a graveyard and skulls in your front yard. You can get really into this (just check out Pinterest for great easy ideas!) That is all part of the fun and demonstrates another fun aspect of the holiday that is not candy related. My son is already asking me if we can put out the Halloween decorations (and has been since September).

I feel that Matthew will have a very enjoyable and healthy Halloween this year and I don’t think that he will feel like he missed out at all. It really is easy to do and I encourage you all to give it a go yourselves. You will eliminate all those wired and moody kids the next morning!

As for the twins, we dressed them up last year, but did not go trick or treating. So they are familiar with the event and love to dress up! We might take them out this year to a few neighbors, and we’ll contribute their candy at the Candy Buy Back, because for them it is all about the costume!


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