The giant drive across eastern Alberta started as a curiosity about the many small towns dotted across Alberta that are the home to many of the “worlds largest” structures. Many of these are great stops for when you’re on a road trip but I started to think about creating a day trip with the kids to see as many in a day as we could. Why would you spend 12 hours on the road to see the worlds biggest perogy, mallard duck or mushrooms? Mostly, because we needed to get out of the house during the last few weeks of the summer. The kids were heading back to school and I thought “one more hurrah” before we got back into a routine, after school activities and my work schedule got busy.
We don’t know about you but we are SO excited for the snow to melt and the reno’s to begin! But we really don’t even have to wait do we? Lots can be done inside while it’s chilly outside!
With big names like Bryan Baeumler hosts of HGTV’s Bryan Inc., plus, with more than 225 exhibitors and a slew of exciting new features, there’s real advice and real inspiration at the Edmonton Renovation Show!
The 2019 Edmonton Renovation Show runs:
Friday, January 25th, 2019 – 12PM – 9PM
Saturday, January 26th, 2019 – 10AM – 9PM
Sunday, January 27th, 2019 10AM – 6PM
Buy your tickets online here or enter to win passes below in our GIVEAWAY! Did you know, Kids 12 & under are free!
Thanks to the Renovation Show we have a four pack of tickets to giveaway! Tickets can be picked up at the show box office and the draw will be Monday, January 21st.
I used to go BIG for birthdays. That is actually one of the things Box Social Event Planning did when I started the business. We planned parties for parents that wanted that “Pinterest” party but didn’t have time. We would do such elaborate parties that one time we brought 8 foot trees into a play place to create a perfect Woodland Theme.
But then I stopped. Because I didn’t understand why I was throwing all this time and energy into one day for a little human that wouldn’t even remember it. I still love scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram and seeing beautiful, well curated parties but it just doesn’t work for our family anymore.
I wanted my kids to still have memorable birthdays though. Not something that just blipped by. And then we got the Birthday Banner.
I am not sure when it started but it has become a tradition in our house to hang the Birthday Banner. I remember picking it up at Target (sigh I miss Target even though the Canadian one wasn’t as good as the American one) and hanging it up for one of my kids’ birthdays. It was a September birthday and it was a very busy time for our family between school starting (being married to a teacher in September is not fun) and a busy event schedule for myself. So we threw up the banner and sang Happy Birthday to my youngest around Eggo Waffles topped with whipped cream from a can. Then I brought it out for the next one. Now a few years later it is something my kids love waking up to. It is made out of felt and gets hung in the same spot every time. Sometimes it gets fancy 3M hooks, other times it is held up by green painters tape.
But it is always there.
It took me a while but I have realized that the kids do not care about all the decorations, the cake, the late night party planning. They don’t care whether they have Pinterest worthy handmade cupcakes or a cake bought on the way home from work with a generic “Happy Birthday” on it. They want you to be there. To be present. To sing “Happy Birthday” and watch them blow the candles out not be worried about all the other stuff.
So from now on that is my goal. To be present. And hang the banner every birthday.
Deanne Ferguson is the owner of Box Social Event Planning. When she is not planning fun, family, friendly events she is finding the yummiest food for the Edmonton Home and Garden Show Food Stage. She loves her #cocktailsMonday dates with her husband and chasing around her two boys. You can find her at @DeanneFerguson on Instagram and @BoxSocialYEG on Twitter.
I know, I know….. this is an ALBERTA based website, so why am I going on about Newfoundland???? Well, I always knew that Alberta and Newfoundland had a connection…..hello Oil Sands! But, I didn’t really understand the depth of it until I visited the province this summer. So many people on my personal social media (who live in Alberta) reached out to me to tell me about their hometowns in Newfoundland- I had no idea I knew that many people who were from there! As we met people on our trip it became very clear that almost everyone who lives on this stunning island in the Atlantic has a loved one (or many) in Alberta. It is undeniable- these two provinces that are so very far away from one another, and so vastly different- hold a very special connection for many of us.
Simple Ways to Curate Lasting Memories
At the centre of my childhood were simple experiences rich with texture and wrought with meaning. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was able to appreciate the beauty in the simple togetherness my mom wove into the fabric of our family. Our family didn’t have a lot of money so my mom got creative. I find myself using many of her ideas with my own children and I enjoy coming up with my own. Time is the precious gift our children want above all. Here are some of my favorite memory makers! I would love to hear about yours.
In getting ready to fly with my kids when we head to Disneyland in September I reached out to some of my seasoned traveller friends. I am NERVOUS! This is our first time flying with the kids. Hubs and I both discussed not wanting to be those people with kids that are crying, won’t sit still or just generally crazy when we fly. At 8 and 6 I’m hoping it will be easier than when they were smaller but what’s that they say, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst”
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.
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
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*
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.
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.
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.
Take the cute picture to post later on Instagram to show everyone that you craft with your kids. #goals #instalove #blessed
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.
Check the time. The husband is probably home soon so get that wine ready.
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!”
If I told you that I spent a blissful weekend in Jasper and it only cost me $178.55, would you believe me? It’s true! A group of friends and I looked into booking a group trip over Easter a little too late and all that was left that would accommodate our tribe of 7 adults and 1 baby was the Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel. We are no stranger to more rustic accommodations, as we’ve done some pretty cool trips to back country lodges, but we way underestimated just how perfect and cozy this place would be!
The Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel is located right off Highway 93 about 1 km past the stunning Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park. It boasts a ton of amenities such as solar power, a huge lodge with sitting area, dining area, full kitchen with stoves and fridges, tons of fresh water, an indoor wood stove, outdoor fire pit and patio! You can rent private cabins or stay in one of the shared ones. The cabins are basic, but include everything you need including cozy bunk beds, double beds, lots of heat and bedding.
One of the great things about this place is that it’s accessible right off the highway. You don’t have to worry about bringing too much or lugging it all in on your back- just bring what you think you need that will fit in your car. I was worried that noise from the highway might be a concern. Highway 93 just past the hostel was closed for the first night (for avalanche control) but the next day it was open and we didn’t notice any traffic nuisances at all.
The Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel is the perfect staging point for all types of adventures. There are trails right from the parking lot, the falls only a short walk away and you are about 20 minutes by car from the Jasper Townsite. We had a group that was cross country skiing and snowshoeing and we explored the falls, a great groomed trackset trail along Leach Lake towards the Whirlpool Winter Hub and a somewhat challenging climb along the Pyramid Lake Fire Road. All were lovely and of course included the most gorgeous scenery in the country, in my opinion:)
Here is how the cost broke down for me:
- 2 nights at the hostel in a private cabin- $63.34
- National Park Access- $19
- My share of groceries- $46.50
- Dinner out in Jasper- $34.71
- Beer at a local Jasper Pub- $15 /w tip
- Not included in my total- wine I brought from home, equipment (because I own it) & gas (since every vehicle is different).
Things you should know before you go!
- This is not the Jasper Park Lodge, so don’t expect to be pampered. You must bring your own food, cook it yourself and do your own dishes. This allows you to really make it as simple or as complicated as you wish.
- There is no running water. The cabins have no water but the lodge had tons of fresh mountain H2O in a large tank. Bring a water bottle and enjoy! There are also lots of kettles and pots to heat water for washing.
- There are no heated bathrooms or flush toilets, outhouses only. This can be a little chilly in the early morning, especially with the “spring” we are having- but this is all about the nature experience!
- You can give yourself a little sponge bath in the private washing area, but no shower. Hello wet wipes, dry shampoo and touques!
- There are staff on site who give you a little orientation when you arrive and are there to help answer all of your questions.
The experience was perfect for our group and the baby that was with us did just fine. There was another family staying there as well with a 7 year old and they seemed to be enjoying their experience as well. One of the things that is so great about wilderness hostels is the people- young or old, single or in a group, from Alberta or across the world- everyone usually has a mutual respect thing going on that just makes the whole experience so enjoyable and unique from a hotel. This is important to remember sometimes, especially when you are brushing your teeth with strangers at midnight!
You can check out the Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel website here and feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments below. If you’ve been here I would love to hear your stories and what type of exploring you did while in the area. I’m thinking it would be a great summer trip too!
*This post is NOT sponsored or endorsed by Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel, Parks Canada or Jasper Tourism. This is simply an account of my personal experience that I thought I would share for fellow explorers:)