A Weekend Away!

This weekend I did something that I had never done before. It wasn’t a crazy thing to do, or something that is unheard of, but it was something that I desperately needed and quite enjoyed. 

I left the kids with my husband and went away for the weekend.

This might sound like an obvious thing for a mother to do, but it took me awhile to get to the point where I was ready for it. About a month or so ago I was having a rough time. I was feeling depressed, exhausted, and lost. Nothing super serious, but enough to know that something needed to change. 

And then things did…

First my husband took it upon himself to look up some hotels that would be possible options for a weekend away. He said that we had talked about me possibly going away to have some time to myself before, but we just needed to actually figure it out. He started looking up hotels in Edmonton where we live, but then moved on to hotels in Calgary since I knew that if I was going away I needed to actually “go away.” We found a decent deal at the Wingate by Wyndham Calgary Airport. (And I have to say, it is a beautiful hotel! Definitely would consider coming back again sometime!)

Second, I read the book The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up. Some people like the book, others roll their eyes when I mention it. For me, it was what I needed. I started reading it and knew that I needed to follow her plan! I always feel like I am living in chaos and this book helped me gain some control in my life. I started by purging my clothes. Not that I have tons of them in the first place. But I got rid of things that were stained, that I didn’t like, that no longer fit, and that were just worn out! I then moved on to my bathroom and got rid of old lotion, makeup I never used, and a bunch of other stuff. It was SO liberating!!! I continued to purge and organize my entire room, and it has never looked so good! I also bought a full length mirror so I didn’t have to go into my daughter’s room to attempted to see my whole reflection through her sticker covered mirror. I was starting to feel like I was regaining some control. My husband even started following my example and we are slowly organizing the rest of the house.

Third, I read The Happiest Mommy You Know.  It is not a “you have to do this to be happy” kind of book; it was the reflections of lessons learned by the author as she was struggling in her roles as woman, wife, and mother. Her book has provided the inspiration I needed to make some changes in the way I do things.

Fourth, I actually took the trip! The weekend finally arrived and I headed out of town. Edmonton and Calgary are less than three hours driving apart, but it feels like I’ve been on a little holiday! I left right after my shift at work, all the nervous energy starting to make me emotional, but once I was on the highway things were good. I arrived at the hotel, settled in, and realized that I was alone for the first time in a long time! I could do what I wanted, I was on my own schedule! I didn’t have to Worry about what anyone else wanted to do! On Saturday, I met up with a close friend who had been one of my bridesmaids and we spent the day shopping before going out for dinner. I can’t even remember the last time I went shopping on my own for just me! In the evening I picked up a hot chocolate and then sat reading a silly murder mystery. Again, reading novels has been something I haven’t done in way too long!

Today I will be heading home to see my little family. But before I do, I am meeting my grandma for lunch. She is one of the sweetest ladies I know and I’m excited to see be able to spend time with her today. 

And now I need to finish packing and check out of my hotel.

If you are a mother thinking about taking some time for yourself, I would highly recommend it! I’m also starting to try to figure out how my husband and I might be able to get away for a couple nights in the future too!

Until next time!

Our Disneyland Trip! – Part 1

It has been about three months since our trip, but I figure better late than never sharing the details. ūüôā

  
It was a three generation girl’s trip: my mom, myself, and my daughter. The idea came about one day, when my little boy was only about two months old, and I was probably suffering from a bit of depression. My husband arrived home from work and since he had the next three days off, I suggested we just go to Disneyland. “Let’s just hop on a plane and just go to Disneyland! Let’s just do it!” Aside from the fact that our little guy didn’t have a passport yet, I thought it was a great idea! And my daughter E was under two so her flight would have been free!

I am so thankful that my husband didn’t outright reject the idea; I think he knew that I couldn’t handle that. However, he was thinking a bit more logically so he suggested that I leave baby C at home with him while E and I went on our own. 

That could maybe work…but then I got thinking about the practicalities of just me and a toddler and realized that I wasn’t quite up for that challenge. I called a friend of mine (who is way more obsessed with Disney than even I am), but for various reasons, she wasn’t able to go. ūüė¶ So I called my mom. Again, for various reasons, it wasn’t going to work for her either, but after thinking more about it, she said that she’d come with me at a later date.

Well, that was all I needed! I started researching hotels and looking up ideas for taking a toddler to Disneyland. (There’s a lot of ideas out there on Pinterest!) I returned to work in the middle of June (a shortened maternity leave since my husband was taking the remaining part of the year as parental leave, one of the best decisions ever, but that’s for another day), and once my vacation time was approved, we started booking! We went during the first week of November.

There were a few booking and scheduling hiccups, but finally the day arrived! We were going to Disneyland!!! I was SO excited to take my little princess to this magical land. And it had been almost twenty years since my mom had been there so I knew she was going to be in for a real treat!

Here’s a list of some of the things that we did that I think helped our trip be a success.

1. Having been to the Disneyland Parks several times, I knew that I wanted to stay as close to the park entrance as possible, as long as it didn’t cost an arm or a leg, of course. The Ramada Maingate at the Park was our choice. It was less than a block away from the park entrance! And very reasonably priced too. Breakfast was provided every morning: hard boiled eggs, toast, cereal, fruit, bagels, milk, juice, coffee, and donuts! We also had a mini fridge in our room which was great for keeping groceries for making our lunches. There was a nice sized pool, complete with splash deck and nice shallow end for E. 

  
The room was nice and clean. Double beds. It was a bit snug, but really, we were at the park almost all the time so it worked for us. I had originally requested a cot for E, but there was NO room for it, so instead I rolled up an extra blanket and stuck it under the sheet on one side of the bed, creating a “railing” to keep E from falling out of the bed while I slept on the other side. It worked great! 

The only downside was that we were on the second floor and there was no public elevator so dealing with a stroller wasn’t the most fun! Especially when E was fast asleep after a busy day in the parks. But we managed ok. E even continued to sleep after being carried upstairs and put straight to bed a couple times.

2. I put a lot of thought into what to bring for entertaining E on the plane. I didn’t bother to bring anything for me…maybe I should have brought at least one book, but it was probably good for me to have no expectations of being able to relax on the plane. Haha! I packed my backpack with diaper bag items (pull-ups, wipes, change pad, extra clothes, etc.) and then threw in a bunch of things to entertain E. I also purchased her a toddler backpack and put some extra things in there for her too. I wrapped a few items in Disney princess wrapping paper too just to change the up a bit.

Here’s what I brought along:

  • Minnie Mouse jewelry: a necklace, bracelet, and rings. These were purchased from the dollar store and wrapped as a present. E loves jewelry right now so she had fun putting dressing up with it.
  • Crayola Mess-Free markers and Minnie Mouse colouring book.
  • Stickers
  • Sofia the First magnet activity book (we even managed to not lose any pieces!)
  • Books from the library. Some people don’t like taking library books on holidays, but I was able to find some great Disney themed books, lots with flaps to open since E loves those books right now, and I didn’t have to pay for them! 
  • Snacks: toddler granola bars, fruit bars, cheesy penguin snacks (similar to Goldfish crackers), pretzels, and mini packages of M&Ms (conveniently stollen from the leftover Halloween candy from a few days before we went on our trip). My mom also brought crackers and cheese sticks. I had purchased some Disney Princess themed snack cups from Tupperware and had the snacks in individual portions to keep things simple. I also brought along a spill proof sippy cup.
  • E’s stuffed teddy. I brought along one of E’s stuffed animals that she was familiar with, but not one that she was super attached to, just in case it got lost.
  • A small blanket for E. A few weeks before we left I picked up some Tinkerbell fabric and made a blanket for the trip. I planned to take it to the parks to keep E warm in the evenings. It was great on the plane for helping her stay warm and cozy. 
  • The iPad and toddler headphones. I have a bunch of toddler games on the iPad, as well as digital copies of movies, and E enjoyed playing the games and watching the movies on the plane rides. 
  • And the extra special treat that I pulled out when the time was right, when E was crazy tired, a small stuffed Figaro kitten that I’d picked up at the Disney Store. E loves kittens and especially Figaro from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 

  
3. Although I wasn’t really worried that I’d lose her, I did purchase some custom made Princess themed temporary tattoos which had my phone number on them. I ordered them through Etsy. Each morning I put one of the tattoos on the inside of E’s arm, just in case. I also made sure I had a travel phone plan. Normally when I’ve travelled, I’ve never had a phone plan, but this time was different. I wanted to be able to be contacted in case E was separated from me, and I wanted to be able to call and text my husband back home.

4. The one other thing I did was purchase a Rapunzel dress for E to wear in the parks. I wasn’t sure if I should, if she’d even want to wear it, but I’m SO glad I did! She wore her dress the first and last day we were there and got so many compliments on how cute she looked! I got the dress on sale from the Disney Store. I also took along a Tinkerbell costumed I’d made her for Halloween, but she didn’t end up wearing it.

So there’s a bit of my preparations for our Disneyland trip. In a future post I plan to share more about the actual trip and the things we did to make our trip as magical as it could be.  

An Outdoor Adventure

This past weekend, our little family escaped from Edmonton and went down to Calgary for a few days.  I know, pretty exciting.  Haha!  It was actually great getting out of the city, visiting with family and friends, and going to Banff.

The really fun part was the day trip to Banff.  The last time we had been there was when I was pregnant.  Things were a bit different with a baby in tow.  We planned our day so that we left Calgary around the time that E would have been ready for a nap.  It took her a little while to fall asleep, but she eventually did, and was full of smiles when we reached our destination.

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Johnston Canyon

Our first stop was Johnston Canyon. ¬†For those of you who haven’t been there, in the winter it is a short hike through a magical icy canyon with a frozen waterfall at the end. ¬†Some water is flowing which is pretty neat to see behind sheets of ice.

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Carefully maneuvering down the icy stretches!

E was securely strapped into the baby carrier on my husband’s back and we started on the hike. ¬†Because¬†of the time of year it was a bit slippery, but we were careful and the only one who fell was me…twice…ouch! ¬†E had a great time smiling at the people passing by. ¬†For the most part, the people we met on the trail were friendly and encouraging, thinking it was great that we were exposing our baby to the great outdoors. ¬†There was one group, though, that clearly disapproved! ¬†The eye rolls and looks of utter disgust at our daring to bring a baby on the hike was a little much. ¬†But we were took our time and made it safely both there and back.

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E enjoying some apple.

Once we were back to the parking lot we were ready for some lunch. ¬†We spread out our waterproof blanket on a dry spot of the parking lot and with the sun shining on us, we enjoyed a bite to eat. ¬†People would walk by us and E would wave and smile at them. ¬†She’s a very happy and friendly baby, if you haven’t figured that out yet!

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Mommy’s turn to carry the baby!

After lunch we drove to Cave and Basin, the location of a hot springs just outside of the town site. ¬†This time E was strapped onto my back. ¬†It wasn’t nearly as slippery and I think the carrier works a little better on someone who isn’t quite as tall. ¬†I think she had a bit more visibility. ¬†She would giggle whenever I would lean over so that she could see over the edge of the railings. ¬†The air was fragrant from the smell of sulfur and water from the hot springs trickled down a hill where we were able to see little fish swimming around, a fun site to see when there was snow not too far away!

Once in the town site, E was put into a sling so she was sitting on my hip and we did a bit of window shopping.  So many people commented on how cute she was!  Supper was at The Old Spaghetti Factory and then we drove back to Calgary.  E had been up longer than usual since her first nap and she was asleep within minutes of being strapped into the car seat.

It was a lovely day!  And as I look back on the day there are a few things that I think helped things go smoothly.

1. We have an awesome baby carrier. ¬†It is a Boba Carrier. ¬†The features I love about it: it’s soft so there are no hard pieces to worry about, it’s easy to get on and off (although it works best if there are two people getting the baby in it!), ¬†and it is able to be used as a front carrier and a back carrier, fitting a newborn without any extra pieces.

2. We planned our driving to coincide with E’s sleeping schedule. ¬†I think most babies would fall asleep with the sound of the highway, but this way we knew for sure that she would fall asleep. ¬†It was so much less stressful for me knowing that I wouldn’t have to worry about a crying and/or bored baby in the back seat.

3. That waterproof blanket I mentioned above was great because it allowed E to crawl and move around, burning off some energy.  We were getting lots of exercise carrying her around, but her, not so much!  I bought the blanket at Bed, Bath, and Beyond a few years ago and it has proved to be a great purchase!

4. Not planning too much for one day.  Sure, it would have been nice to have been able to see a bit more of the mountains, but we knew that with a baby along things would be different.

5. Prepared meals for E.¬† I’m a bit of a planner and so I had meals for the entire weekend in ziplock bags ready to be heated up for E to eat. ¬†At first I wasn’t sure if this was going to work or not since, after sitting in the cold car for most of the day, the food was chilly and E wasn’t eating very much because it was cold. ¬†Our waiter finally told us that they had a microwave and could heat it up for us. ¬†Next time I’ll have to remember to just ask instead of waiting and stressing out that my baby isn’t eating!

It is tempting sometimes to avoid going places and doing things now that we have a baby, but this trip helped me realize that with some planning things will probably work out.  It is a fun thing to do as a family and we hope to do a lot more this summer!

How about you?  Any suggestions for taking kids on trips?  What tips and tricks have you discovered that have helped make things easier for you?