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Alberta Mamas

5 Ways to Save This Summer

After what has seemed like a never-ending winter, summer has finally arrived! After being stuck inside all winter, Albertans definitely know how to take advantage of our short summer months. Along with longer days come festivals, food trucks, day trips and weekends exploring our beautiful province. The downside? All of these things can be financially draining for a family.

We love doing as many activities as we can in the summer months, but we want to do it on a budget! We’ve teamed up with Servus Credit Union to put together some of our favourite ways to save money this summer while still enjoying everything our province has to offer.

Frugality at food festivals

From food truck events to Taste of Edmonton or The Edmonton Heritage Festival, your food bill can add up quick. Save money by pre-purchasing tickets in advance at early bird pricing. Our family also likes to take a look at the menus ahead of time so we can plan what we would like to try once we arrive. This helps eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed once you get there. Also, always pack a water bottle so you don’t have to buy one when we get there. This saves more tickets for dessert!

Day trips on a dime

Albertans have so many fun little spots in the province to take the family for the day to enjoy our beautiful landscape and it’s all for free! Pack a lunch and head out early to get a great picnic spot. Some of our favourite day trip spots (depending on where you live) are: Elk Island National Park, Kananaskis Upper & Lower Lake, Wabamun, Blackfalds (they have a great new outdoor pool area!), Discovery Canyon in Red Deer and Sylvan Lake.

Save money in the mountains

Planning a trip to the mountains? Great choice! Bring your bikes and enjoy the trails throughout Jasper and Banff as a free activity. Or, as soon as you get to town, stop by the Visitor Centre and talk to park staff about easy hikes for your children’s age and ability. They also have a ton of maps and resources for you to pick up, with many of them offering coupons for local restaurants. If you are at a National Historic Site such as Cave and Basin in Banff, ask the Canada Parks employee at the front desk for an activity book for the kids. Once the kids complete it they can return it to the front desk for a souvenir prize.

A family bicycling in Jasper

Staycation savings

We have so much going on in our city, you don’t even need to travel to enjoy summer! We love the events like the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival because of all the shows put on right in the streets. Park and ride the LRT or CTrain (which every kid loves riding!), and for a modest amount you can enjoy world-class performers from around the globe right in the heart of the city. Having snacks packed will keep younger children entertained while watching the shows, allowing everyone to enjoy the festival longer. If possible, try to get to larger festivals during the week to avoid larger crowds and lineups. The kids will enjoy it better if they can see the whole show unobstructed. If crowds aren’t your thing you can enjoy a staycation by simply finding a new spray park you haven’t been to yet! Stop off at your local grocery store (we love the Italian Centre) to pick up lunch from the deli and spend the day keeping cool in the water.

Wander your local farmers’ market

Farmers’ markets have started to pop up everywhere! Many of them have started bringing out activities for families to entice them to come out. From petting zoos and bouncy castles to bike tune-ups and live entertainment, you can easily spend the afternoon wandering the market. Look up your favorite market online or on Facebook to see any special events and activities they have coming up.

Want to test out some of our tips? We’ve listed some of our favourite events to attend below!

This article was written in partnership with Servus Credit Union. The thoughts and opinions expressed are our own. #partner

 

Summer Bucket List – Red Deer

Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, Jasper, Drumheller and Red Deer? Yes! We often overlook Red Deer as a summer destination but we have discovered there is SO much to do in Red Deer and area. From great camping, lakes, rivers, outdoor water attractions, good food, and more; read below why we think adding Red Deer to your Summer Bucket List is a good idea!

Red Deer Summer Bucket List:

Read more

In Explore, Parenting on
June 8, 2018

5 Tips For Taking Young Kids To Disneyland

Disneyland.

Even mentioning the word brings up feelings of magic, wonder, and happiness. Unless you are planning on dragging around kids under 6. Then all you hear when you think of Disneyland is: chaos, crying kids, and cash flying out your wallet. But we can help! Our family has been multiple times with young kids and have learned a lot. See our top 5 things you need when you’re taking your kids to Disneyland.

5 Things You NEED to Know:

Read more

In Parenting on
May 6, 2018

DIY Bird Feeder You Can Make With The Kids

This week we made a bird feeder out of materials we had laying around.

With Earth Day being last weekend we have been talking a lot about the environment, recycling and nature. My 6 year old has been asking alllllll the questions. Why do people litter? Why do we throw away so much stuff? Why do we drive everywhere? You don’t realize the amount of waste you create until you have a kid in Grade One calling you out on every piece of plastic you throw away. I have been smuggling saran-wrap and ziploc bags into the garbage like a rum runner smuggling contraband booze in the 20’s.

So we decided to make a bird feeder with things we have laying around the house to a) give him something to do so I don’t have to answer questions about my non-compostable plastic containers and b) to show him that we can reuse and re-purpose things.

What you will need:

  • toilet paper roll
  • peanut butter
  • bird seed
  • patience – because they will want to do it all themselves

Step 1:

Gather supplies ahead of time before you tell your child you are making something. They are impatient and will ask you 10000000 questions while you are setting things up. Pour the bird seed onto a plate to make clean up easier. Don’t worry about cleaning off all the toilet paper off the roll. This isn’t Pinterest. No one has time for that.  *not noted on the supplies list but this would be a good time to make sure you have a glass of wine ready for after you make a mess with the kids. If you sit and drink the wine until your husband gets home he may even clean up for you*

Step 2:

Get them to cover the roll with peanut butter. This works on their fine motor skills, grasping and pinching muscles which help with writing. That is what you say to your husband when he comes home and sees peanut butter all over the counter and you are on the couch with the wine we mentioned above. You may have to hold the roll for them at the end so it does’t slip onto the floor. No one has time to mop. Unless you have a dog that will come clean up the mess on the floor. Then let the kid do the whole thing.

Step 3:

Roll the peanut butter covered roll in the birdseed pressing down so the seeds stick. Notice how long your kids’ fingernails are and how much dirt is under them. Add “bath time” to the list of things your husband needs to do while you help your self to another glass of wine after he gets home.

Step 4:

Thread the string through the tube and tie a knot so it can hang in the tree. This is great practice tying knots with your kids so they don’t end up wearing velcro shoes for the rest of their life. Nothing wrong with velcro – it is just really really hard to find velcro shoes when they get past size 3. I’m saving you time and money.

Step 5:

Take the cute picture to post later on Instagram to show everyone that you craft with your kids. #goals #instalove #blessed

Step 6:

Hang it in the tree in a spot they can see out the window so they aren’t asking you to lift them up a million times. Make sure they are inside to watch the birds eat. No bird will come to the bird feeder when an excited kid yells “BIRD! A BIRD IS HERE EATING! MOM I SEE A BIRD!” every time they come close.

Step 7:

Check the time. The husband is probably home soon so get that wine ready.

In Recipe on
May 4, 2018

Cinco De Mayo Guacamole

Cinco De Mayo Guacamole

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

It’s Cinco De Mayo and I’ve got Guacamole! How lovely Cinco De Mayo landed on a Saturday this year.

Did you know that Cinco De Mayo is the celebration of Mexico’s victory over the French all the way dating back to 1862? Modern day Cinco De Mayo in America also usually celebrates Mexican/American culture. I think as Albertan’s we are great at celebrating all cultures, so fiesta on!

This is actually a pretty basic guacamole recipe, I think having a good basic recipe is a great start and then you can add your own flare from there! (I sometimes add curry powder!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lime
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/4 of a red onion
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Let’s make guacamole:

  1. Cut open, pit and scoop out two avocados. Mash the avocado with a fork until smooth.
  2. Finely chop the red onion and tomato. I actually use a Tupperware chopper like this. It helps it get finely chopped up.
  3. Squeeze in juice of the lime. I like mine very lime-y so maybe start at half a lime first.
  4. Add garlic powder and salt and pepper to your taste.
  5. Enjoy and FIESTA!

The Bitchin' Housewife

P.S Check out my matching Super Easy Pineapple Salsa Recipe .

Alberta Mamas – One Year Later

Alberta Mamas is ONE! One year ago we had this crazy idea to work with parents around the province to create a resource for families, a place to find hidden gems in Alberta, and a place where people could share their thoughts in a safe place.  But it has become so much more because of all of you.

Alberta Mamas is a community.

We have learned so much from all of YOU! Every contributor post and conversation on social media has shown us that not only do we have way more places to discover in our beautiful province, but also thatAlberta is full of amazing, smart, and funny parents. You have made us giggle with your comments about your kids’ antics, made us feel like we aren’t the only ones dealing with difficult topics, and have offered sage advice when we have needed it.

“At first I loved seeing our passions come together. Passions for community, business and social media. And it’s grown so much more then that. We are all still passionate but it’s been beautiful to know my friends (and community around us) even better. It’s amazing to see the vision we created for community coming together. In a collaborative and inclusive way.” – Jen

We have also learned a lot from each other throughout the past year. It has not been all sunshine and rainbows. The six of us all have strong opinions and personalities which are bound to clash at some point. We can disagree, fight, and push each others buttons like siblings. But in the end we have got each others back 100% no matter what. We hold each other accountable and push each other to be better. We are each others biggest cheerleaders.

“The first thing I thought of when we started this was – yes I get to write stuff! Secondly though, it occurred to me that I would get to WORK with 5 totally different, totally strong inspiring ladies. Like, I have a legit reason to learn, bend the ears of and hang with 5 women I admire on the daily. And then on top of that, we get to read amazing pieces by moms (and sometimes dads) all over Alberta and share them in our “little” community. Makes a gal feel very blessed!” – Chris

When we first started this one of our goals was to give a voice to parents whether they had a blog or not. We have gotten to work with some amazing people and we love hearing their thoughts and opinions.

“I love that we’re creating a community where writers across the province can share their ideas, opinions and writing- whether they have their own established blog or not.” – Kim

We want to thank you all for commenting, liking, writing for us, sharing posts, offering your opinions and more throughout the past twelve months. Each action means so much to us.

We are excited to officially celebrate our first year (details announced soon) because to quote Kim – “Our parties are pretty fun too!”

 

Who are Alberta Mamas?

 

In Parenting, Random Thoughts on
April 15, 2018

10 Movies From Your Childhood You Should Watch With Your Kids

In the age of Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, we thought we would kick it old school and create a list of movies we grew up with that your kids will love and that you will actually want to watch too!

  1. Princess Bride – It would be inconceivable not to have this on the list. And bonus points if you watch it with them enough that you can all say “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my Father. Prepare to die.”
  2.  Older Disney Movies – You are probably sick of Moana and Elsa so try introducing the kids to classics like Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Sword In The Stone, Alice in Wonderland, The Great Mouse Detective, and Sleeping Beauty. And yes we know this is not just one movie but come on. It’s Disney. It deserves to have more than one listed.
  3.  Star Wars – OK this one was added by my husband because I’ve actually never seen Star Wars. (I know. It’s terrible and I can’t explain it so no hate mail please.) With all the new movies coming out it is fun to show the kids how it all started.
  4. James and the Giant Peach – A great introduction to Roald Dahl’s books that the whole family will love to watch.
  5. Mighty Ducks – The kids will love the corny jokes and you will love seeing Emilio Estevez in his prime taking on the Hawks and reliving that fateful missed shot over and over again until he comes back and beats his old coach.
  6. Wizard of Oz – Because who doesn’t love a young girl showing everyone who’s boss in a kick-ass pair of shoes?
  7. The Sound of Music – A bit long for younger kids but worth it for the part when Maria and all the kids are running through the fields in clothes made from curtains.
  8. Home Alone – The kids will love the pranks and you will feel like a rockstar parent after watching the part when Kevin’s Mom was halfway to Paris before she remembered she left him behind.
  9. An American Tail – This cute classic 80’s movie is often overlooked but is definitely worth watching as a family.
  10. Ghostbusters – You will love telling the kids that the effects in this movie were revolutionary as you watch together. They will love telling you they can create something more realistic on their iPads in 20 minutes. Neither of you will be able to resist singing along to the song for weeks after.

We would love to hear your thoughts! What are your favourite movies from your childhood that you love to watch with your kids?

Do Your Kids Miss School for Vacations?

Do you let your kids miss school to go on vacation?

This week we are leaving for a vacation (YAY!) but for the first time I wondered about pulling the kids out of school to be on holidays.

***Full disclosure I am still getting on that airplane no matter what the consensus is because this Mom needs a vacation. Although travelling with kids sometimes feels like more work…

We have pulled them out of school the past few years without a thought but this year my oldest is in Grade 4 and it feels different. His teacher was amazing when we told him our son would be missing a week and a bit of school which I was grateful for. He said there’s no point giving him work to do while we are away. When we get back he will see what he missed and what he needs help catching up on but not to worry about it while on holidays.

No homework was getting done on this trip either.

I am a firm believer that kids don’t need to be in a classroom to learn. By making sure our kids get the travel bug early I hope that they will never stop exploring and questioning how our world works. I am just wondering if we should keep that exploring to two months in Summer?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below or on Social Media.

 

9 Activities For Kids That Will Actually Give You a Break

I don’t know about you but winter has been LOOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG. The kids are starting to feel cooped up and their behavior is reflecting that. We’ve rounded up our favourite ways to entertain the kids and we’ve even rated the activities so you know how long you will have.

Time Ratings:

  • 0-5 You can enjoy your coffee but drink fast because they will know they are being distracted soon. Easy to set up and execute though so recommended for mornings when you aren’t fully awake yet and need some time before you adult.
  • 5-10 Pour a coffee and sit somewhere comfortable. You will have time to leisurely drink it AND if you’re prepared you may even have time to flip through a magazine (you won’t have time to read the articles just look at the pretty pictures in Home and Garden and dream of a clean and organized home without Goldfish crackers smushed into the couch) or scroll through Instagram.
  • 10-15 For this one you will have time to clean out the dishwasher, get a clean mug, pour a coffee, and Pin seven different “recipes for picky eaters” that will never actually work. Even if you puree spinach and try to hide it in rice and call it HULK RICE because it is green; your toddler will still refuse to eat it.
  • 15-20 Wipe down the counters, sweep that rice off the floor from last nights supper with picky toddler (see above), plan supper for that night (it will be chicken nuggets & fries because you are still exhausted from last nights dinner battle), pour a coffee and you will STILL have time to Facebook creep all those people you went to high school with.

How to keep the kids busy inside during long Alberta winters:

  1. Build a Fort – It can be a blanket thrown over two chairs or you can get creative with boxes, tables, couches, and more. They won’t care as long as they can’t see you when they are inside. Throw in a blanket, a pillow, and let them have their afternoon snack inside for added time. Time Rating: 17
  2. Dance Party – Put on a kid friendly playlist (one of our Alberta Mamas made a fantastic list of 26 Kid-Friendly Dance Party Songs) and let them go crazy. Time Rating: 4
  3. Sensory Bins – Sensory bins are a great distraction and can range from easy (throw some pom poms and cups into a large container with tongs) to more labour intense (check out this snow and paint one Live It All In did with her kids) Time Rating: 8
  4. Painters Tape Racetrack – This is a favourite because it takes no effort and it will keep them entertained for a long time. You can even start the track, pass them the roll of tape and let them go crazy. At the end of the day just peel the tape up! Time Rating: 20+
  5. Pipe Cleaners and a Strainer – Start a few pipe cleaners to get them going and then walk away and let them create. Depending on the age you can add beads to work on those fine motor skills and playdough to create sculptures. Time Rating: 3-7 depending on their age
  6. Audio Books – When you just can’t quite wake up yet but your toddler is demanding another book put on an Audio Book. We found a cheap cd player that we put in our kids’ room and gave them a bunch of CD’s we’ve found at garage sales. You can also find them at your local library. Time Rating: 2
  7. A Box – The easiest one to set up but the longest thing they will play with. Make it a fort, attach some milk jug caps for buttons and paper plates for wheels and make a car, add blankets for a bed for their favourite doll, sit them inside with crayons or paint and let them go nuts. The list goes on! Time Rating: 20+
  8. Stacking Toys – Challenge them to build a tower as tall as they are with blocks. They will have to figure out how to make it sturdy enough to withstand the height guaranteeing you some quite time. Time Rating: 12
  9. Obstacle Course: Make a whole house obstacle course for them using stools to climb under, string between chairs for “lasers” they have to get through, painters tape in zigzags they have to balance and walk on, a small garbage bin they have to get a ball into. The possibilities are endless! Time Rating: 16

Box Social Event Planning

Top 6 Things To Say To Your Child Besides “Be Careful”

We’ve all been that parent yelling “Be Careful!!!” from the ground as your child is climbing up higher and higher, running faster and faster, and pedaling harder and harder. As adults we are only seeing the worst case scenario. The crashing and the tears. But we sound like parrots constantly telling our kids to be careful.

It is also hurting their confidence. Can you imagine if every time you unloaded the dishwasher your mom came running into the room yelling at you to be careful? After all there are knives in there. You may cut yourself!

So what can you say instead? We’ve rounded up our top 6 below:

Top 6 Things To Say To Your Child Besides “Be Careful”

  1. What’s your next move? – We’ve all seen our kids stuck in a position that they want to be rescued from. They climb too high and aren’t sure how to get down. Instead of running up and plucking them off, walk over slowly (as long as they aren’t in real danger of falling far) and ask them what their next move could be. I’ve done this so many times with my kids that they mostly can figure it out by the time I get there because they have had time to stop, breathe, and think about that next step.
  2. Sticks need space. Can you move that stick without hitting any people? If not, you need more space. – This one is pretty self explanatory. You know your child is going to pick up that stick and turn it into a light saber, twirling baton, sword etc. Make sure that you let them know it is ok to wildly swing it around as long as they are doing so in a safe space.
  3. !s that rock stable? – Jumping from rock to rock whether at the beach or at the park is great fun. Just help them be aware that some rocks move so they can get their balance right.
  4. Notice your body. – I think I say this more than any other. Having them notice their bodies and what they can/can’t do is so important so they can make the decision to move ahead or not. It also helps if you have a child like mine that has grown so much so quickly and has become clumsy. By getting him to be aware of his body and how it moves he has crashed into less things.
  5. Do you feel safe? – Teaching the kids when they should push themselves and when they should turn around and try a new option is a skill they will use forever.
  6. I’m here if you need me. – We are here to help push our kids to be independent but in the end they still need to know that we are here to help if they really need it. Not do it for them. Help them.