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From the Editors

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

 

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?

 

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

In From the Editors, Lifestyle on
February 22, 2018

STARS Lottery Needs Our Help

We have all heard of STARS flying int he sky across Alberta to help those around our province having the worst day of their life. We’ve teamed up with STARS to spread the word about their Lottery and how it is helping our friends, families and fellow Albertans.

About STARS

It’s first helicopter lift off was in 1985 and since then has flown over 36,000 missions.

TIME IS SURVIVAL.

The moment someone is critically sick or injured, their window for survival narrows with each passing second. Their helicopters span long distances fast and ensure patients begin receiving critical care sooner.

THE RIGHT TOOLS.

Every STARS helicopter, education unit, and hangar is equipped with the most advanced medical, aviation and training equipment available. This allows them to deliver world-class care.

WORLD-CLASS TALENT.

Their crew of paramedics, nurses and transport physicians receive cutting-edge training to deliver lifesaving care. Their pilots ensure each patient is transported to the hospital in the fastest and safest way possible.

The areas STARS responded to in 2017

Survivors Stories

Casey’s Story

Being in a car crash is scary. When I was six, I was thrown through the windshield of our family car, close to our home. I was on my way to school.

My body was very sore and I had a really bad brain injury. My family was very worried about me. Our house was far away from a big city, so the paramedics knew to call STARS so the helicopter could carry me to hospital quickly. I was in a coma for three weeks and more than 400 people came to visit me.

Today, I am so much better. I go to school where my favourite subject is math. My teachers and my grandmother help me do my school work. I also play lacrosse and bug my brother a lot.

Even though being in a helicopter was cool, I don’t think I want it to happen again. I know that it took a whole bunch of people to save my life and that makes me happy.

 

You can read all about the amazing people and stories from the STARS website here.

 

STARS Lottery

March 22nd is the final deadline to get your tickets to support STARS. Not only are you helping them help fellow Albertan’s, but you can win some pretty cool prizes too.

There are homes, vacations, cars and even cash to be won.

The early bird deadline is February 28th

You can GET YOUR TICKETS HERE

The Bitchin' Housewife

Jen is a yoga teacher, fitness enthusiast and health blogger over at www.BitchinHousewife.com

In From the Editors, Lifestyle, Style on
February 21, 2018

Get Ready for Pink Shirt Day with London Drugs (+ Giveaway)!

Pink Shirt Day is February 28

Have you heard of Pink Shirt Day? On February 28th show your support and take a stand against cyberbullying by wearing pink!

Get your Pink Shirt Day gear at London Drugs

There’s a few big reasons why I can get behind Pink Shirt Day. Here’s Why:

  • If you think cyberbullying isn’t a thing, think again. 1 in 5 kids are affected by it. (source: pinkshirtday.ca)
  • It is impossible to escape/avoid this type of bullying. In the “old” days we could go home after a rough day and at least get away from a bullying situation that was taking place at school. With technology and connections everywhere, this is so much more difficult.
  • We all know that bullying, of any kind, is devastating and can have major impacts for the victim. I was bullied by a particular boy in elementary school. 25 years later I can tell you exactly what the bully said to me, how he made me feel and how no one did anything about it.
  • Fundraising, awareness and net proceeds from official Pink Shirt Day shirts, texting gloves and other accessories (sold exclusively at London Drugs) goes to support youth anti-bullying programs- including local Boys and Girls Clubs. Previous to my becoming a mom, I worked for Boys and Girls Clubs and I can tell you first hand the amount of work that goes into these programs and that they have the power to change a child’s life!
  • Pink, it’s my favourite colour:)

Purchase your official Pink Shirt Day t-shirt, texting gloves & more from London Drugs and wear it on February 28th to stand up to cyberbullying! Net proceeds of the official t-shirts will support youth anti-bullying programs. This year, Pink Shirt Day is encouraging everyone- no matter what age- to think twice before posting something negative online, and instead use the internet to spread kindness. Nice needs no filter!

Get your Pink Shirt Day gear at London Drugs

We’ve teamed up with London Drugs to support Pink Shirt Day and we’ve got a $50 Gift Card for one lucky winner! Enter below via Rafflecopter. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Every Day Girl

 

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.

 

 

Instagram Mom’s You May Not Have Heard Of – But We Think You Should Be Following

We wanted to take the time to give a shout out to some Instagram Mom’s we’ve been loving lately. These accounts are all ran by Moms in Alberta! They may not have thousands of followers (yet) but we think they are must follows.

  1. Momifer – Warning: This account will make you want to hibernate and bake all day. If Instagram had smellavison capabilities this account would smell like Grandma’s house. Follow her if you like beautiful photos and want to get some baking inspiration.

Momifer

2. The Globe Diary – If you are itching to get on a plane and escape the long Alberta winter this account is for you. Exotic locations, cute coffee shops, and so many beautiful sunsets. We dare you to get through this feed without booking a flight somewhere.

theglobediary

3. My Modern Hijab – This Boss Babe is conquering parenting, running a business and blogging all while wearing the perfect shade of lipstick. Seriously. This woman can rock a bold lip! From fashion tips to parenting you will love reading her perspective on life.

My Modern Hijab

4. Moony_1 – From cute lunch inspiration that ranges from Pinterest worthy to cute ideas you can actually do to talks about struggling with weight loss and mental health; this account is real #momlife. Moony_1 let’s us all know that we’re all in this together and although being a mom is not always glamorous, it is fun and our days are full of love for our kids. And really what is better than that?

Moony_1

5. Organized With Kids – Whether you are looking for great tips to keep the chaos in your house under control or you just want to look at a beautifully organized home during your kids’ naptime and dream of the day when the kids move out and you can have a clean floor for more than 5 seconds, you need to give Organized with Kids a follow.

Organized with Kids

These are just a few of our faves right now that you may not have heard of. We would love to hear some of your favourite accounts!

Worry Dolls – What Are They and Why Do You Need To Get Some Right Now?

Lately we’ve been talking about worrying in our house. About how it’s ok to feel worried and how everyone worries about different things but that doesn’t mean that it’s less important.

My one son just tried out for a sports team for the first time and was anxious.

My other son has weekly spelling tests at school that he wants to do well on. And by well he means he wants 100% EVERY time so he works hard at it but he worries.

School is long and exhausting, basketball games have started being more competitive, friendships are changing as they get older, and the list goes on. It was starting to get harder to pull full sentences out from them as they didn’t want to talk about it/didn’t know how to take a big feeling like worry and turn it into words that expressed how they feel.

Then my mom reminded me about Worry Dolls.

I had them when I was little but between all the moving, marriage, keeping track of two kids etc they were lost so I found some on Amazon this week for the boys.

What are Worry Dolls?

Worry Dolls are little dolls (most often from Guatemala) that you keep by your bed. Every night you sit down with your child and they tell a worry they may have to the doll. Each doll is one worry. You then put the doll in a bag and put it under your pillow and the worry goes away.

Spoiler alert… The doll doesn’t actually have magical powers that makes your worry poof away in the middle of the night. The worry goes away because it is a tool to get your child talking about specific things that worry them so you can:

a) be aware of their specific worry

b) offer to help if you can

c) give you an excuse to hug them and tell them that no matter the size of the worry you’re there for them.

I will be starting this with my boys this weekend so I will let you know how it goes!

I’d love to hear any tips and tricks you may have for getting your kids to talk more!

7 Reasons Why Your Next Holiday Needs to be a Staycation

It is that time of year. Christmas is over, it’s cold, and it gets dark so quickly. The kids are feeling cooped up and you’re ready for a holiday but the after Christmas bank account has other plans for you. So how can you break up the winter months without breaking the bank? Have a Staycation!

Staycations are gaining popularity for a reason. We’ve listed 7 reasons why your next vacation should be close to home.

Why you need a Staycation:

  1. You can’t beat the drive – We ended up with a hotel about 20 minutes away which was perfect. Who wants to sit in the car for three hours listening to the kids fight and ask “are we there yet?”. If you are in a rural area pick the closest major city and head out!
  2. Packing is easy – Pj’s, swimsuit, sweatpants and a toothbrush. That’s it. You aren’t going out anywhere fancy so you don’t need much. We went from the pool, to our room, and back again for two days and it was perfect.
  3. The kids are exhausted at the end of the day – We always get a hotel with a pool which means we swim a lot. This also means that the kids are moving all day so when it’s time for bed they are TIRED.
  4. A pool with a slide is all you need – Our kids are 6 & 9 and all they wanted to do was swim. They spent hours chasing things down the slide, racing and timing each other, and even climbing up to the top. There are hardly ever people there during the day so we often had the place to ourselves.
  5. You will have time for you – Let the kids know that this is your vacation too! Let them play in the pool by themselves (if they are older and comfortable in the water) or watch too many cartoons while you read a book or scroll through Instagram. You should come back relaxed too.
  6. No cooking – Pick a hotel with breakfast included to make it even easier. Head down in your pj’s! The kids will think it is hilarious. Order pizza and pack a few snacks for movies to complete the experience.
  7. It is a cheap way to get a holiday – No flight costs, gas costs, park passes, admission to tourist attractions or anything besides your hotel cost. We usually use Priceline or Expedia (call the hotel front desk before booking through a third party website. Sometimes they will beat the price by 10% to avoid going through them) and get a great deal on our hotel. Often the best deals are last minute so check often.

Do you do staycations? We would love to hear your tips!