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:)
Now that we can see Summer Holiday’s coming you might be considering where you’re family is heading off to. If you are anything like most parents, you’re dreaming of your vacation, but dreading the flight with kids. For some, the flight alone is a deterrent.
Personally, I love to travel. I crave adventure, new scenery and most of all, a change in the everyday routine. We have been lucky to have travelled quite a bit with our children. Since we don’t have the luxury of grandparents close by, leaving our girls behind is out of the question- plus, we kind of like them;)
We’ve voyaged to Hawaii, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Los Angeles and all over Scotland and Ireland with children under the age of 5. Admittedly, the flight is always my biggest stressor, but thankfully I have found being well-prepared and doing my research has turned flying into a fun, albeit chaotic adventure. Here are some tips that we have learned along the way to avoid catastrophic meltdowns.
Choose your flights carefully
It is worth every cent to find a convenient route with less stopovers rather than opt for the cheapest flights. Consider breaking your journey up with a break. When going transAtlantic, a stop over for the night in Toronto has saved us a few times! Also, choosing a red-eye allowed us to have the littles sleep for most of the flight. When travelling through time zones, it’s also important to take into account the jet lag when we return home, so for the working parent, you need to ensure you have a day off on the end of your trip to have a babysitter or relative watch the kids while you sleep and readjust.
It’s all about the seating…
Swallow the cost and pay for seat choice. You hear horror stories of families that were separated, even cases of small children having to sit alone. If you pay and choose your seats, you will avoid the stress of finding out that one adult is stuck with two kids, while the other reclines in luxury several rows back. If you are a party of three, then I envy you. For all other family sizes, I recommend booking within the same row. One parent in the middle seat, one child in window, one on aisle, and partner across the aisle (and any subsequent children beside them). Then the aisle parent will deal with the child directly across from them, leaving the middle parent to tend to the one in the window seat. If this option isn’t available, try dividing up by twos. One parent and child in one aisle, the other parent and child close by. The bonus to long haul flights is that there is often a middle aisle, and sometimes you can all fit in.
If you travel with a little one in a stroller, then you can often fast track your security clearance!!!! Hello express lane. If that isn’t enough to make you want to travel with youngsters… However, you also may want to take a seat further back in the plane if this is the case, since you can generally pre-board with kids, you will still get on the plane quickly, but when you disembark you will need to wait for your stroller to be brought up from underneath the plane. No sense rushing off the plane just to wait in a congested hallway. Mid plane seating usually works perfectly with the arrival of a gate-checked stroller.
Run it out
While you wait for your flight, find the nearest (or furthest) kids play area and have your minis run it out. If you are unfortunate enough to not have one in your gate area, then use long empty hallways, empty lounges or even sparsely populated moving sidewalks to have your kids expel all extra energy. Now would NOT be the time to give in to requests for treats or liquids. If you are heading on to an overnight flight, consider getting kids into their pjs and doing as much bedtime routine as possible before you board.
So much of the entertainment provided onboard is based on the airline you choose. If you don’t bring your own media and devices with you, then it is definitely worth finding out what is available on the plane. When we flew to the UK, we had only one iPad, so we rented one from Air Canada Rouge, and it was the best decision ever. There was no seatback media (as often is the case now) so each child had their own iPad, hallelujah- fighting avoided. We also made sure to bring children’s earphones so that the volume was never too loud. Bring any and all media you are okay with. We downloaded audiobooks, netflix movies, games and photos. We also brought a Leappad, iPhone, and iPod. Between them all, we probably managed to kill about 5 hours of flight time! Parenting win.
One thing at a time
My rule for the kids when we travel is, “One thing at a time.” We do the opposite of multi-task. In order to not run out of activities or patience, the littles are only allowed to choose one activity (for a predetermined amount of time). When it is time for a snack, all activities/media are put away. We eat one snack at a time. Then we clean up. A highlight is often the plane meals! They love all the little things that come on the tray. Then I take the kids, one at a time (this allows me time to stretch) to the washroom. We wash hands, wash faces, use the toilet, blow noses etc. Anything to kill time! Travelling also feels less stressy when you move at a glacial pace.
Usually we are pretty healthy around our house, but when the kids are going to be confined to a seat for endless hours, sometimes you need a bit of sugar as collateral for good behaviour (yes, I know, not the best parenting method…but you will thank me when your preschooler is quiet for an hour while they suck the world’s largest lollipop.) It’s all about convenient, long lasting snacks. I choose things that require lots of chewing (gum, raisins, licorice), or suckers. The former are all small and time consuming items. Beef jerky, hard candies and cheese strings also work well. Again, my kids aren’t allowed to have media while they are snacking. When they are older with a longer attention span then by all means do whatever works for you!
For flights longer than 3-4 hours, snacks and media sometimes are not enough to keep a small child occupied. My answer to this problem is the activity envelope. I use this on every car trip and flight we go on. Grab a plastic accordion envelope from the dollar store and then go nuts filling it with activities. I use a section for colouring, one for invisible ink activities, one for small stories, one for small crafts, one for sticker books, one for activity books and in the last section I store all crayons, brushes and markers in their own ziploc bags. This envelope is always the highlight of the trip. The kids love choosing what they would like to do, and I like that all of the items are in one place, and easy to store. I pack that thing everywhere.
Relax… and plan for the worst
Finally, the best advice I have is this: Be pessimistic and expect the worst. That way, you will be pleasantly surprised when your child only screams for 10 minutes during take-off rather than the whole flight. Realistically, it is pretty hard to get through any flight with no tears. On a red-eye to Dublin, my youngest daughter screamed the whole time we pre-boarded, and well in to the flight attendant’s speech. She simmered down to a cry during taxiing, and by the time we hit altitude she was asleep. We received only a handful of glares, and one couple thought we couldn’t hear their judging whispers, but by the end of the 7 hour flight, she had completely redeemed herself, not another tear was wasted. Her crying was soon forgotten, and the same whispering couple told us how delightful our daughters had been on such a “long and late flight.”
In my opinion, braving a flight for a wonderful vacation is 100% worth it. All of my best memories are ones where we have left behind our everyday life and focused on exploring together. A flight only lasts so long, but memories last a lifetime. So if you are on the fence about jetting off somewhere this year- just do it! You won’t regret it!
Natalie is an educator in St. Albert, Alberta. She is the mother of three incredible little girls under 6, and one evil cat. She is passionate about adventure travel, culture and running.
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.
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.
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”
- 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.
- 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.
- !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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
By Christina Pilarski
I still remember my first plane ride – I was 21.
My parents did not prioritize travel when I was a kid, so when I had kids I knew that I wanted to make it happen.
My boys first plane ride was at 11-months. An almost five-hour trip to Mexico. Plane rides are interesting – I’m one of those people that could be asleep on a plane instantly if I could be so now adding a restless little one to my lap is a challenge.
In my experience the plane ride is about two things – keep the kid 1) happy and 2) busy. And, hope to God that at some point they fall asleep.
At the beginning of my travel experience I used to try to book planes to coordinate around naptime thinking I had beat the system – wrong. My kids are not plane nappers … so this strategy was not a winning one for us. My advice would be to just make whatever time work. Travel means you are going to be making some adjustments anyways so you might as well start on the plane.
So how have I kept my toddlers happy and busy on plane rides? Here are my must haves:
- 2 Carry-Ons – one for you and one for your partner – pack one with the adult stuff (lap tops, your wallet, travel docs, etc.) and one with the kid stuff. I made the mistake a few times of having some baby stuff in one and some in the other. When you child is screaming at 35,000 feet you won’t remember which bag the diapers are in so having everything related to baby in one makes your life easier.
- Stickers!!! Especially it they are 1+. Stickers are fun and challenging. You can tell a story about each, have them take time to pick favorites, have them stick them on paper, your face, their face, the flight attendant’s hand ….
- On our hour plane ride to Abbotsford our boys ate the entire time. It was awesome. They are in a ‘I love yogurt’ stage and only want to eat it with their own spoon. Yes – a bit messy and yes – very time consuming. This makes it an airplane win! Bring food that is easy to clean up and you know they will eat; for us that’s berries, grapes (pre-cut), yogurt, milk, water, baby cookies, cheese, and crackers. Pack this in a grocery bag so all the food is easy to pull in and out of your carry on – they will want to look at it going through security. Ask for like 20 napkins from the flight attendant on the way by. This also leads me to the importance of having a garbage strategy – I use the barf bag in the seat pocket. Open it shove all garbage in their as you get it and keep it under your seat. Garbage can get out of control with a toddler and you have nowhere to keep it.
- Naptime comforts. Bring everything you need to ensure naptime can be as comfortable as possible. Maybe even a favorite story.
- A new toy on the plane is like finding buried treasure. A new toy is going to keep their attention for the maximum amount of time.
And my final bit of advice – the amount of people who are understanding out weigh those that aren’t. And, in my experience, lots of people want to help. Don’t be afraid to ask people on the plane for help, stop and chat with those people who make faces at your baby (every way to help time go by helps), and remember that even if your kid is going 100 miles a minute if you are keeping them happy and busy you’re winning.
Christina Pilarski is a mom of twins. Her boys were born in September 2016 and she knows they will only keep getting louder, quicker, smarter, and funner! She runs her own public relations firm, CIPR Communications, and she is the true definition of #momboss. Born and raised in Calgary and now raising her family there too; she loves the outdoors, politics, her two dogs, and her partner (in life and business – Peter!). Website: twobabiesandabusiness.com , Twitter @crontynen , LinkedIn cpilarski, Instagram twobabiesandabusiness,