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Southern Alberta

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

 

Breastfeeding is hard- don’t be hard on yourself (+ Philips Avent Giveaway)

About two months into new motherhood I posted the following to my Facebook;

“Nothing gives you empathy for the modern dairy cow like hooking yourself up to the double breast pump”.

Breastfeeding and pumping CONSUMED my life for Nova’s first six months on this planet. Before I go on – I am going to talk quite a bit about nursing and pumping, but I acknowledge that this is not the road for every mom and baby, and at the end of the day I have written this before – but FED IS BEST. However, I do wear my breastfeeding and pumping hours as a badge of honour. It was hard, painful sometimes, challenging, but also rewarding, connective, and an experience like none other.

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Paddle boarding in Alberta

I make semi-regular trips to Canmore, and when I drive past the Canmore Reservoir, past the turquoise blue water framed by the Rocky Mountains, I’ve seen the paddleboarders out there looking so cool and standing on their boards in one of the most beautiful places in the world and I keep thinking, “I want to do that.”

I finally had my chance to paddleboard otherwise known as SUP (the term SUP refers to stand up paddleboarding) after the Rocky Mountain Soap Women’s Run this past May, and now I’m convinced everyone needs to have a go because it was a) not as hard as I thought* b) really peaceful out on the reservoir! If every parent doesn’t need to spend some time out alone (or with friends) on a lake in Alberta, who does?

*I must preface this with I’m not athletic, or coordinated, and am more likely to be found in my house than out being active in nature. 

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9 Things I’m Looking Forward to This Summer in Alberta

I’ll be working full time so I’ll be squeezing every last drop out of my Alberta summer weekends. Here’s what I’m most excited to experience this summer in Alberta.

The Road Trip

Is there anything better than packing up your wheels, stopping for snacks and hitting the open road? Yes, yes there is. It’s called re-living your childhood. One of my earliest memories is playing cards in my grandparents motor home, road trekking through Alberta, to the States into Mexico. Hanging out, while you watch the landscape race by. Snacking, gaming, talking – the journey more important than the destination. The in-laws bought a small motor home and they’re letting us borrow it – squeee!

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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?

 

Bike Swap Alberta

At some point in the next month, the snow will melt and at some point, it will reach above 10 degrees and we’ll be able to send our kids back into the neighbourhood onto their bikes. The trouble is is that your child has grown, and now their knees are hitting the handlebars and now they need a new bike. Not to worry, Alberta Bike Swap is here to save your bank account, and not just for your kids because you need a bike too!

Alberta Bike Swap is a registered non-profit and gives people a safe place to sell, donate or buy a bike, and bike swaps are happening across Alberta in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer. 

 

“Bikes sold at the swap are safer than a garage sale purchase because our squad of volunteer bike techs perform a basic safety and mechanical check of each bike.” – Alberta Bike Sales

 

What do you need to know before you head to a bike swap? Well, that depends on if you’re buying or selling, but here are some factoids.

Selling a Bike:

  • If you want to sell your kids bike, it won’t be accepted to sell if it’s from a box store (Canadian Tire, Walmart etc.). They do this for quality assurance.
  • Have a bike that no longer fits your child and you’d like to donate that bike? They can do that too, please make sure the bike is in good condition and it’s is decent working order.
  • It costs $2 to get into a swap and that money goes to a local charity.
  • You don’t have to be there to sell you bike which for me is a win-win. If you’re just there to sell your bike, you just drop it off. Boom. Easy. There is a 15$ fee to put your bike in the sale, which ensures that only good bikes are going to be at the swap. No one is paying 15$ for someone to sell their 50$ bike. If you’re an AMA member, the cost to “rack” your bike is $10.

Buying a Bike

  • Swaps. Get. BUSY. Get there as early as you can (see locations for dates/times below). You may be waiting outside so dress accordingly. The bike racks are set up at 6am in Edmonton and Calgary, and yes, you’re welcome to line up at 6am.
  • There is a $2 admission, but kids 12 and under are free.
  • They only accept cash or debit cards. No credit cards.

Locations & Dates

Calgary 

When: May 5, 2018

Consign: 0800-1400
Buy: 1430-1600
Donate: 0800-1600

Where: City Centre Parkade, 340 10 Ave SW

Edmonton
When: May 12

Consign: 0800-1400
Buy: 1430-1600
Donate: 0800-1600

Where: Kinsmen Sports Centre Fieldhouse, 9100 Walterdale Hill

Lethbridge

When: April 28, 2018

Consign: 0900-1400
Buy: 1430-1600
Donate: 0900-1600

Where: Exhibition Park North Pavillion 3401 Parkside Dr. S

Medicine Hat

When: April 27, 2018

Consign: 1500-1900
Buy: 1915-2030
Donate: 1500-2000

Where: Exhibition and Stampede Wildrose Room Higdon Hall, 2055 21 Ave SE

Red Deer

When: May 11, 2018
Consign: 1600-1900
Buy: 1915-2030
Donate: 1600-2030

Where: Salon B Westerner Park 4847A 19 St

 

For more information please check the Alberta Bike Swap website or their Facebook page

Glamping in Alberta

glamping

Don’t get me wrong, camping is great, BUT it can be a large expense to accumulate all of the required supplies. Sleeping on the ground is also not for everyone, myself included! Sometimes it’s nice to just pack your essentials and go, especially when travelling with kids. Thankfully Alberta has many alternate ways that you can spend a night in the great outdoors. Read on to learn all about ‘glamping’ options in Alberta!

oTENTiks

A Parks Canada exclusive, these accommodations are like a cross between an A-frame cabin and canvas tent on a raised wood floor platform. Units are for up to 6 people, with a maximum of 4 adults. There are no bathrooms or running water inside oTENTiks. A table, beds/sleeping pads, lights and small heater are available in most units. You can enjoy TENTiks in Jasper (Whistlers), Banff (Two Jack Lake & Tunnel Mountain Village 2) & Elk Island (Astotin Lake).

glamping

Photo Credit: Teagan Photography

Yurts

Alberta Parks offers a unique experience with yurts! These are insulated, round, tent-like structures mounted on a wooden deck with a vented skylight. Conveniences include lights, an electric heater, electrical outlets for charging your devices, all cooking pots/pans, plates/utensils, a small fridge with freezer, gas BBQ and sleeping areas for 4-8 people. Yurts are available at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park and Pigeon Lake Provincial Park.

glamping in alberta

Photo Credit: Alberta Parks

Equipped Campsites

A new partnership between Parks Canada and MEC, you can now arrive at an equipped campsite that is all set up and ready for you! This includes a tent, sleeping pads, stove with propane, lantern, camping chairs and more. Please note that some campgrounds may offer slightly different items. You can enjoy equipped campsites in Waterton National Park, Banff National Park and Elk Island National Park.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

RV Rentals

This isn’t necessarily the cheapest option BUT it could end up saving you thousands of dollars! If you are thinking about buying an RV, test one out first! This is also a great option for people who have no storage options for a trailer or don’t have enough time to camp frequently or maintain their own RV. Go RVing has a great directory of RV dealers across Alberta that rent trailers, tent trailers and motorhomes. Some even offer roadside assistance and trailer delivery. Also check out WheelEstate, a new online peer-to-peer marketplace for RV’s. It’s like Airbnb or VRBO for vacation trailers!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Cabins

For those who prefer a more solid structure, there are lots of cabin rentals across Alberta. My mom and I stay in a cabin every summer as a girl’s getaway and here’s some of our favourites that include bathrooms and kitchens:

Comfort Camping

Photo Credit: Alberta Parks

Tipis and Canvas Tents

I’ve never stayed in a tipi, but I feel like it would be really fun with kids, allow for some cultural experiences and provide more space than a tent. These are the ones on my list to check out: Sundance Lodge (Kananaskis), Old Entrance B’nB (Hinton) & Blackfoot Crossing (south east of Calgary).

Make sure you check out the Comfort Camping Canvas Wall Tents through Alberta Parks located at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Writing on Stone Provincial Park and Wyndham-Carseland Provicial Park. They all include queen beds, futons, a private deck and gas BBQs.

Alberta Parks

Photo Credit: Alberta Parks

As you search for ‘glamping’ options in Alberta don’t be discouraged if you are having issues finding availability on your chosen dates. Many of these book up quickly, but there are always cancellations so keep your eye on them. Also, you will find more vacancy if you are able to travel midweek or in June or September.

What’s your favourite glamping experience? I would love to hear! Connect with us on social media on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram! Need more inspiration? Click here for our post on Our Favourite Campgrounds in Alberta.

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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.

 

Best Place Names in Alberta

Last year we made a list of all the cool roadside attractions while road tripping in Alberta. This year, while you’re adding the world largest Ukranian sausage to your travel plans (it’s in Mundare, Alberta), let add best place names in Alberta as the reason you need to pull over the car and take a picture.

Without further ado, some of the best place names in Alberta. Warning, some of these are funny if you have the sense of humour of a 12 year old like me.  Also, if you have a name to add to the list, let us know!

Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump

This name isn’t funny as it is very specific.  Located in the foothills near Fort McCleod, Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of a museum of Blackfoot culture. The site was used for 5,500 years by the indigenous peoples of the plains to kill buffalo by driving them off the 36-foot high cliff(source). While the name is amusing, Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump is really cool and a great way to expand knowledge of indigenous culture in Alberta.

Shaganappi

Anyone remember Austin Powers??

via GIPHY

Milk River

Literally not milk.

In doing a little research though, Milk River is one of the few places the Mississippi drainage system and has the town motto of “Under Eight Flags” which refers to the area has been under the flags of seven governments: Hudson’s Bay Company’s flag (1818–1869),  France (1682–1762), the Spanish Empire (1762–1800), the French Republic (1800–1803), the United States (1803–1818), the British Empire (1869–1945), the Canadian Red Ensign (1945–1965), and the current Canadian Maple Leaf (1965–present).[5]

Entrance

Located 61km NW of Jasper, this name is pretty ironic since it’s the entrance to…. we’re not sure., other than of course maybe being the entrance to the Rocky Mountains? Entrance is an unincorporated community with a population of 🤷🏻‍♀️ If you’re looking for some early Albertan history, there’s some pretty cool information about the unincorporated community of Entrance HERE. Also, in looking up some pretty funny names, I came across Old Entrance B&B and I’ve stayed there before! If you need a place in a funny named little town, it was great!

Westward Ho

Yup, it’s an actual place name AND it has a campground which is perfect for a road trip. Step one, take a picture of the town name. Step two. Stay for the night in Westward Ho. If you want to go to Westward Ho, you can find it just west of the intersections of Highway 22  and Highway 27 between Olds and Sundre.

Dead Man’s Flats

You can’t miss Dead Man’s Flats when you’re on your way to Canmore. Dead Man’s Flats can’t seem to agree on where the name originated from, but there are two stories that might give some insight into the town’s name, one involves a murder, and the other one some mischievous trappers. Either way… it’s kinda a bonkers name.

Carstairs

Carstairs name has nothing to do with cars nor stairs. There’s no good story of where the name originated other than it might refer to a place with a similar name in Scotland.

Vulcan

We would be remiss if we didn’t include Vulcan to the list. Vulcan is the home to a replica of the  Star Trek Starship Enterprise ( Starship FX6-1995-A), and also name to the god of fire, but more notably the species of Captain Kirks BFF, Spock from the tv show, Star Trek. A massive shout to the Town of Vulcan, who went all out on their website!

Source: http://loyalkng.com/2009/07/14/vulcan-alberta-canada-live-long-prosper/

Seven Persons

This is a great stop if there are seven of you traveling, and would be worthy of an Instagram photo. Seven Persons is located approximately 20 km southwest of Medicine Hat. The internet has several stories about how Seven Persons got its name, some site the migration of the Mormons from the US who were leaving religious persecution because of polygamy. Then there’s post that delves into three stories of the town and two of those stories make much more sense.

Boyle

Boil is on this list because you know what a boil is….if not, click HERE for reference (don’t click through if you’re squeamish). Obviously, they’re spelled differently, but we want to know if Boyle was named after somebody’s boil right??? RIIIIIIIIIGGHT??  Well, no because that would be hilarious. Boyle was actually named after a former Alberta Minister of Education Justice John R. Boyle.

Special section: All the rivers and lakes

Albertans got particularly creative with some of our river and lake names

  • Keg River – is there beer? We need to know.
  • Cold Lake – guessing it’s not warm
  • Long Lake – it’s actually long and not wide
  • Flat Lake
  • Bleak Lake   – does not sound inviting 😟
  • Slave Lake – 🤨
  • Smoky River
  • Little Red Deer River