Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Family Movie Night

There is small but important window of time each week that my family and I enjoy. During this time we do not have to attend a practice, game, scheduled event or meeting, the homework has been completed and the furriest family members have been walked. This is our down time, our snuggle up on the couch, munch on popcorn and watch some uninterrupted family friendly Netflix time. 

Years before I discovered Netflix, I had almost completely written off television. We, as a family, had no time to watch TV shows and renting movies was a multi step ordeal that usually ended with late fees being paid. Netflix changed that experience for us, it has made the small amount of time we actually spend watching TV stress less and flexible.  Once a week or once every two weeks we plan a family movie night. 

Last week, Netflix sent me something my children had never seen in our home before. We are now the proud owners of a hot air popcorn maker. It was hilarious to watch my kids faces as the kernels jumped and bounced around the small heated compartment as we made popcorn for our first family movie night of September. 

Andie was in charge of the actually popping of the popcorn, Beckett had the flavour shakers and Katie picked out the movie. This week we watched Freaky Friday with Jamie Lee Curtis. We all laughed at the movie and enjoyed our time together.

Next week, Andie would like to watch Lilo & Stitch because Beckett reminders her so much of Stitch. Following that movie night,  Beckett would like to watch the Night at the Museum because Andie reminds him so much of the annoying monkey. (yes there is a pattern emerging) 

Netflix has some very interesting info graphics about some of my very favorite shows. I cannot watch them regularly however I have managed to fit an episode or two into my workout as I run on the treadmill. You can see some interesting stats on when Canadians were 'hooked' on to a specific show compared to the rest of the world. 

I was hooked on Kimmy Schmidt after the first episode, hands down my favourite laugh out loud comedy.  It took me several episodes to love House of Cards but in the end, Kevin Spacy made me a huge fan of the show. I would be very interested to know what show or episode 'hooked' you? 

I am entering my second year as a #StreamTeam member for @Netflix_CA and have been given the opportunity to view screeners, as well as being sent amazing monthly packages that keep my kids and I 'in the know' about special events & upcoming releases. 

Parting Shots of Newfoundland

The rest of our trip seemed to blur together. The kids and I explored Gros Morne National Park while DH reminisced with his childhood friends. You may see the happy, but slightly tired expressions in our faces. 

We spent time in the Visitor's Centre, where the two littlest posed for a picture but then ....

Attempted to impale each other with moose antlers. I *may* have told them the Park Warden's carry guns to help them decide to stop. 

We drove back to Port aux Basque, taking time to stop in Corner Brook and the smaller communities on our way back. 

DH took our children to the swimming hole that he frequented as a child. I held my breath as they all swam away from the rocks and spent time under the waterfalls. 

We took one more stroll along our boardwalk as the sun began to set. 

Sunset lasted forever, the kids asked when we could come back. 

During this final parting shot, we stood with our frozen feet in the cold Atlantic Ocean. As much as we had enjoyed our time reconnecting with family and friends, we were anxious to go home. Sixteen days away from our furry family, friends and comfortable surroundings was too long for my little family. 

Our trip back to Ottawa was without DH. He flew to Mexico City for work as the kids and I made record time attempting to get home to our five furry lovies. 

The time we spent in Newfoundland will last longer than pictures. We bonded as a family, discovered each other's breaking points and realized we truly can accomplish anything together. 

So Mommy? 
Yes, AndiePandie...

How long would it take to drive to Florida? 
About 21 hours, why.....

We we have already done 19, what is 2 more? 
True, Andie Pandie. Very true. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Letter of the Day is D for Driving - Day 2 & 3

We left Riviere du Loup at noon and headed began our trek to North Sydney. This was an error in judgement on our part. With time not on our side we decided to bypass the Bay of Fundy and opt for a quick stop at Grand Falls. 

In the queue for the ferry, lucky lane 24. 

It was suggested by one expat Nova Scotian friends, that we stop at the Irving Big Spot to fill up the vehicle and find healthy snacks for the road. This place was not what I expected. There was fresh fruit, veggies and dip, homemade muffins, whoopie pies and beverages galore. We were back on the road, with drivers rotated, within 20 minutes. 

We pressed on through the night and arrived in North Sydney at 1:30 am. We didn't even bring in the luggage, we literally fell into bed and passed out from overexposure to the Trans Canada Highway. We spent the night at the North Star Hotel, located three blocks from the ferry terminal. The next morning, we quickly made our way to over to the ferry terminal for 9:30 am, after 2 hours we were finally on the ferry and heading to our four berth cabin. 

My view from the bottom bunk. 

A four berth cabin on the Blue Puttees was our home base. Our  DD’s enjoyed feeling grown up with their own key to the cabin. We felt very comfortable letting the girls step out on their own while aboard the ferry. According to DD9, she found the best kiosk on the ship. This kiosk severed huge ice cream cones and homemade waffles served with chocolate sauce and whip cream. 

During the 7 hour tour we took advantage of the bunks and napped for various amounts of time. Beckett needed the most sleep and had a three hour nap. The cabin cost approximately $65.00, it was well worth the money for our family’s needs. 

While the kids slept I took a tour around the Blue Putteer.  

We arrived in Port aux Basque at 6:15 pm. It was raining, wet and I am sure we saw snow when we departed the the boat. We drove around Port aux Basque and listen to DH chat about the places he climbed and explored. When we arrived at Uncle Eric and Aunt Edna's we were greeted by a huge pot of bubbling moose stew, homemade bread and soda cracker squares. 

The view from our window and our lonely boat in the moonlight. 

The kids fell asleep to the sound of the ocean lapping against the rugged rocks in the bay and the fog horn echoing in the distance. I don't think the kids noticed when we left the room. Our three quickly fell asleep as the adults caught up, laughed and reconnected into the small hours of the night. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The First Day of our Eastern Canadian Adventure

The morning started out later than expected. We had hoped to be on the road for 5 am, that was not going to happen. We left once our house sitter and pet sitters arrived, when you have as many pets as humans in your family you need a team to take care of them in your absence.

Approximately 4.2 kilometers from our home, a small voice from that backseat called out to me, "Mommy, I am sorry I spilled a little bit of my drink on your purse". It turns out that Beckett's entire iced lemonaide had been mercilessly dumped into my large, packed to the top, silver coach purse. My hands, feet and shoes were sticky with frozen lemonade and the heat of the day began to make me smell like rotten produce and sugar. Our first lesson had been discovered, no sugary beverages in the car!

We are driving a diesel  Mercedes SUV. It fits 5 comfortably including camping gear, suitcases, a power generator and air mattress. We do not travel light, but being comfortable is important to all of us.

Our first stop was at the Quebec Tourism and Visitor Centre approximately 300 kilometers from Ottawa. As our vehicle is a diesel, we do not have to stop as often meaning we need to build in activity breaks for ourselves. Luckily, our first stop had built in activities for the kids to burn off some energy.
Beckett conquering the bug! 

Active spinning play at the Tourism rest stop for all three 

Later that rainy afternoon we arrived just outside of Quebec City. We wanted to make this stop in Quebec City memorable and active. On the advice of family friends, we decided to park the car in Levis and take the ferry across. It cost approximately $30.00 for return tickets on ferry and $6.00 to park for the day. We put on our running shoes, grabbed some water for the trip and in 15 minutes we were standing in Lower Town. From an educational standpoint, everything I would need to teach Grade 7 & 8 Geography is here, this place brings the Ontario Intermediate Geography curriculum to life. 

It was humid, hot and busy on the street when we exited the ferry station. Turning left as you exit the ferry station and walking past several restaurants brings you to Lower Town

The girls and DH decided to do some shopping while Beckett and I explored the cobblestone streets and people watched. 

We then began the trek to Upper Town using the Frommer's Guide. This walk is not difficult but steep. I saw many strollers bumping along the streets, and the babies laughing out loud in happiness. The streets were busy with people and occasionally cars, DD11 mentioned how lovely it would be with no cars at all. 

DH & AndiePandie brought up the back of the Guthrie Pack as we ascended the street to Upper Town. We soon arrived at the massive steps leading the offical top of Upper Town. The graded steps made thwacking sound each time the kids feet touched the steps. AndiePandie had energy to burn so she ran these steps twice. 

We toured the Fairmount Chateau Frontenac which seems to be the centre and cultural heart of the city. We walked the long boardwalk, watched street performers and learned about the historical Fort Saint-Louis. It was at that point that DD11 decided she wanted to come back to this beautiful place. She thought a long weekend here would be a perfect way to spend a winter weekend, coupled with skiing of course. DD11 also wants to stay at the Chateau Frontenac and promises to speak french the entire time. 

Beckett enjoyed one last climb as we returned to the ferry to start the next leg of our journey. The ferry ride back was a little quieter as the kids were tired from the Quebec City Adventure.

A note of caution, be flexible in your planning! I booked a hotel in Trois Riviere for our first night. After feeling the vibe in the vehicle, meaning the high decibel of AndiePandie's voice and the total number of OMG HE IS TOUCHING ME screams coming from the back seat I knew I need a quick change in plan. We decided to stay in Riviere Du Loup at Hotel Universel.

We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the room, pool and water slide. As tired as the kids were after our 9 pm arrival they decided to swim & slide till the pool closed at 10 pm. The posted rate wat 149.00 however upon check in we were again happy with the 129.00 room rate.

Alexander checked us in and humoured me at my broken southern Ontario french. He was very helpful and patient as my three ran around the lobby. Check in was fast and efficient and within 10 minutes the kids were in the pool, tormenting each other.

We slept soundly in Queen sized beds, 2 in one bed and three in the other with no complaints. DH even mentioned how comfortable the beds were. I headed down for breakfast early as  and I was not disappointed.

My three love fruit for breakfast and I knew that this would make them very happy and full for the second day of our adventure. The breakfast buffet had fruit, sausages, bacon, toast, cereal and of course coffee, pots of coffee. The breakfast was not included with the room, however the 6 and under set eat for free, DD9 & DD11 each cost $5.95 and for adults the cost was $14.95. In my opinion well worth the cost for a healthy buffet that the entire family could enjoy.  Marie-Helen took care of us in the hotel restaurant, I asked her what she enjoyed the most about working at Hotel Riviere du Loup. Marie-Helen said that the people here are like her family and every day she sees the most beautiful sunsets. This hotel is family friendly and is close to shopping & gas stations. We were very pleased with our stay. Now, on to day two! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Do you Wanna Play?

My children have an abundance of energy. Each beautiful summer day we spend hours in the pool, playing outside with friends and biking around the neighbourhood.  Some days are lazier than others, but for the most part we are very active.

Contemplating the first swim of the season! #wannaplay 

Swimming happens to be our "go to" activity. The ability to cool off during the hot summer days and splashing around with friends is consistently at the top of my three children's list. We share our time between swimming at our local pool, in our own pool and at the lake. Each location offers something the others do not.

It is never too cold! #WannaPlay 

At home, we have the ability to be a little sillier, at the local pool the kids can have fun with a larger group of kids and at the lake the kids share the water with fishy friends and turtles.

A leaping good time! #wannaplay 

Swimming not only keeps the children active it also has many health benefits, however my favourite it the fact that the exit the water clean & tired. However, some days it's all about just throwing a baseball around! 
Canadian Tire  launched a really fun contest to get all of us moving this summer. 

My summer loving kids! #wannaplay 

The 30 Day #WannaPlay Photo Challenge Contest will challenge us every day on Twitter until August 4th, 2015. To enter the contest, simply upload your playing/active themed photo or video to Twitter or Instagram and tag @CanadianTire and #WannaPlay.. You will have a chance to win $100 Canadian Tire gift card every day and you will be entered for the $1000 Canadian Tire gift card grand prize. You can enter every day! 

Swimmer #3 #WannaPlay 

Just think of all the fun stuff you can play with for $100 or $1000 from Canadian Tire. Personally, I would buy a Stand Up Paddle Board. We love kayaking at the cottage and I think a SUP would be a perfect new addition.  Do you need some ideas for play time? 

Here are my top 5 #WannaPlay tips:  

1. Walk away from the laptop and turn off your phone. I call my phone my electronic leash, leaving it in my purse on on the charger in the house lets my inner kid come come out to play. 

2. Knock on your neighbour's door. I know, it sounds scary but games are better with more kids. Playing tag with 7 little boys will burn more energy and elongate the fun. Start knocking! 

3. Just add water. Water balloon tag, water shooters and even just turning on the sprinkler can create a the perfect playtime for kids and adults. 

4. Role playing is fun! Pretend to be Gru or a Minion, run around the yard like you are chasing after bananas. You will be surprised how creative your kids can be. 

5. Pull out the hockey sticks. Hockey is just not for summer, road hockey in the driveway is an excellent, yet non competitive way, to play our national sport. This would be a great teachable opportunity to tell them about Paul Henderson and his game winning goal. 

Balls, Balls, Balls #WannaPlay 

So, do you #WannaPlay ? 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Note From Hiccup

This morning, the sky looked a little ominous as we ran a few errands. By the time we got home the skies had opened up and it was suddenly an indoor afternoon activity day. Just as the first coat of paint started to dry on our craft of the day, the doorbell rang. All three kids ran for the door and found our very friendly UPS guy standing there with a huge box.

To say Beckett was happy would be an understatement.

There was a note from Hiccup, talking about what life was like on the Island of Berk, his best friend toothless and their new upcoming adventures. Their new adventure from DreamWorks Animation is called Dragons: Race to the Edge launched exclusively on Netflix on June 26th, just in time for the summer. 

This summer, Hiccup and Toothless, from the critically acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon films are embarking on unparalleled adventures in the all-new Netflix original series Dragons: Race to the Edge -and inviting you along for the dragon ride.Soaring beyond their home on the island of Berk in search of new dragons, Dragons: Race to the Edge introduces some of the most exciting dragons yet, each with its own amazing abilities -- shock waves, cannon balls and fire blasts, just to name a few. With the magical Dragon Eye, an artifact Hiccup finds aboard an abandoned ship, Hiccup learns there is more outside the confines of Berk, and that a little curiosity and determination can make every day an exciting journey. In Hiccup’s own words, “this changes everything.”

Beckett and I decided to have an indoor adventure of our own. We started with the map of Berk and found our route to adventure. 

We made sure to pack some snacks for the humans and dragons,   

we brought along a few friends from Berk, 

and a few of our own. 

A photo posted by Sherrie Guthrie (@sherrieguthrie) on

Before the afternoon was over we snuggled up on the couch with our new Dragon blanket and watched Hiccup in action. Thank you to Netflix Canada & Hiccup for the wonderful surprises. Becket & I enjoyed our rainy day adventures. 

Free Apple Camps Across Canada!

Last year  KT and Andie attended a free, three day camp at the Apple Store located in Bayshore Mall. The learned how to make movies using the iMovies app and Music using the GarageBand app. 
There were approximately 12 children in each group and the girls were proud to show off their end products. 

This summer Apple Canada is offering Apple Camps to youth across Canada. We are unable to attend this year, however I hope some of my Good Karma Baby readers will be able to have an educational and fun experience this summer. 

A little bit about Apple Camp: 

Join us at Apple Camp for three-day workshops where kids ages 8 to 12 bring their imaginations to life. They'll learn to make movies or create interactive books complete with their own illustrations and sound effects. And each workshop ends with the Apple Camp Showcase so campers can share their finished projects.

There are two different camp themes to choose from this summer: Stories in Motion with iMovie and Interactive Storytelling with iBooks. The camps in Ottawa run from July 20th - August 7th, 2015. 

During Apple Camp I decided to take advantage of my the free Apple Workshops while Beckett played with the huge iMac's located in the store. 

Sign up ASAP, as space is limited! Each child is only able to participate in one camp each summer.