Monday, August 18, 2014

Family Vacations

We're getting ready to go on our next family vacation.  Up until now our vacations have always been in Canada.  This time we're heading out on a Caribbean cruise.  Go big or Go home I guess.

Our travel plans include parasailing, going on a glass bottom boat, hitting the 7 mile beach in Grand Cayman and of course, swimming with dolphins.

This is a rather bigger deal than our last trip with was a road trip to Quebec City.  We've also gone to Alberta for the Calgary Stampede (LOVED it) and of course we head to Ottawa and the cottage every year.

Next year our family vacation will likely be a 3-4 day trip to Haliburton so we can go dogsledding.  Sarah especially is very keen to go dogsledding.

The year after, we've decided that we're likely going to head to Jolly Ol' England.  I'd like to see if we can rent the same cottage I lived in the last time I was there for a few days and then explore London and some castles for a few days.

You'll notice no Disney.  My kids aren't really into Disney and never have been.

You'll also notice that we're crazy lucky to be able to afford these trips.  Part of the reason why is that we took on a part time job cleaning Gunther's office on the weekends.

Right now tho, the focus of our energy is getting ready for the cruise.  It's going to be so hard to last these next few days as we've been waiting for this trip for months and had to jump through so many hoops to get Gunther's travelling docs in order.

Oh did I mention we'r also getting couples massages on the ship?  Yeah.. it'll all be worth it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Just Like Riding A Bike - Parenting Fail Corrected

I'm a pretty good mom.  In fact I would say that there are times when I rock this whole parenting think (see Chloe's awesome hair post below) but there are other times when as I mother, I suck and hard.

One such of those times is the whole "teaching my kids to ride a bike" thing.  For obvious reasons, this process is not an easy one for me.  Holding a scared kid while simultaneously trying to balance them and keep them from crashing while also running alongside them is not something I can do for any real length of time.  But I did try, I swear it.

With Sarah the process went fairly well and we got her transitioned from training wheels to two wheels quick enough, but with Chloe things did not go so easily.  We tried, she tried, the neighbour girl tried, but we never really did manage to get Chloe up and rolling on her own.

For two summers we tried and then last night, in the middle of the third summer since we bid the training wheels adieu, I finally lost it and said that this was the night -- no more excuses.

No more listening to Sarah complain that Chloe on her scooter couldn't keep up.  No more dealing with Chloe whining that she got ditched because she was too slow.  No more burying the guilt of giving up on teaching my 10 year old who suffers from no physical, emotional or psychological issues how to ride a freaking bike.

So we half-dragged a half-sobbing and visibly shaking Chloe outside and sat her on that stupid bike and Gunther ran her up and down the street again and again until she could balance, until she could stop, until she could turn, until she could fly.

And today, after work, we came home to this:

That, my friends, is what freedom looks like.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Crabby Mommy

Gunther and I are not pet people.

When I first met him, I wanted us to have a dog when we were a family but he was dead set against it from the start.  I figured I could change his mind later.  7 years of changing dirty diapers and wiping little bums changed mine.

So no pets.  That's what we said and that's what we meant.

Sarah has always been an animal lover and has spent years trying to talk us out of this.  And for many years her breath was wasted.  She even went so far as to buy herself a habitat but we just made her use it as a bug box.  Then she bought herself an aquarium.  So, after much debate, we finally agreed to let my brother and sister-in-law give her a Pet Smart gift card for her birthday.  A gift card that came with the words "we have convinced your mom and dad to let you have fish."  And Sarah was so happy she cried.

She really did.

I have never seen her so excited and happy except maybe on the day we let her buy the fish along with a cute little aquatic frog and a snail.

All was lovely until the fish got ick.  The ick medicine was killing the frog so we had to put him in a bowl.  The fish died anyways.  Then the frog died.  And Sarah cried.

She really did.

So we caved again and let her get more frogs.  And things were fine and Sarah was happy.  Until we got new windows installed and the frogs got moved hither and tither into differently lit rooms at different temperatures and well... the frogs died.  And Sarah cried.

She really did.

So for months we said no more pets!  And we meant it.

We really did.

Until we caved and let her get hermit crabs which seem to be doing just fine.  So we let her get a bigger tank and a third crab and we let her give her smaller tank to Chloe so Chloe could have two crabs. 

And now we live with 5 crabs named Aster, Helix and Hercules in Sarah's tank and Cory and Elvis in Chloe's.  And everyone is happy for now because Sarah has her pets and Chloe has her pets and Sarah has kept them all alive. 

And me?  I'm happy because they like to hide under the sand so I don't have to see them.  So, I have become the grandmother of crabs.

I really did.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Many Colours of Chloe

(the first pic is a hair clip, the rest were permanent hair colour -- 1 year of colours)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Safari Zoo Camp

Sarah has come home from Zoo Camp.  Both times I sent my girls I worried and both times my girls had the times of their lives.  I'm so happy for them to have had these amazing experiences.  I've never been to a sleep away camp nor have they, so none of us was really sure what to expect.  What they got was an experience of a lifetime.

Both girls were initially nervous that
they would not make friends.  This proved to be a groundless fear.  The way this camp is set up is that everyone does everything together.  There are no groups so everyone interacts, shares, and bonds.  For Chloe's group that was a lot of kids.  For Sarah's a little less than half of that but in both cases friendships were forged quickly and cherished.

My girls got to play with bunnies, with ferrets, with fennec foxes and singing dogs.  They got to pet tigers, lions, wolves, leopards and black jaguars.  They did tree-top trekking, Sarah got to caving, Sarah climbed a 60 foot tall tree, Chloe gave a talk about hyenas and fed a lioness.  They also did regular camp stuff like talent shows, camp olympics and campfires.

Both girls have asked to go back next year (preferably for two weeks but we shall see.)

I stumbled across the camp website when I was looking for birthday party venues for Chloe.  From the pics I felt that the girls would love it.  They most certainly did.

So if you're anywhere near Orono, Ontario let me strongly recommend you sign your kids up for camp at Jungle Cat World.  They'll be thrilled you did.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Camp, Christmas, Crap and Coins

Chloe went to Safari Zoo Camp this year.  She loved it. Like over-the-top loved it.  Which is awesome and makes me so very happy but unfortunately also raises a problem:  she loved it SO much that next year she's asked to go for two weeks.

Now she's been going to day camp for years so in the past sending her for two weeks to the same camp wouldn't be a problem, but Zoo Camp is overnight camp and one week of Zoo Camp costs about the same as a month of day camps (please let me emphasize that of all the overnight camps considered Zoo Camp was the least expensive and from what Chloe's told me it was worth every penny and then some.)

So what's a mom to do?  Well first off I've told her that she could ask for gift cards from Jungle Cat World to pay for her second week of camp for Christmas.  Lord knows we have more then enough stuff and Chloe's getting to be an age where toys don't hold the magic they once did.  I know she really wants a new ipod as well but Santa can get her that and maybe family can help her out with camp.

And speaking of stuff -- I hate it.  We're bursting at the seems and some rooms in the house look like a possible episode of one of those crazy organizing shows where they toss all your stuff onto the lawn and then decorate your house with IKEA furniture.  Thing is, I'm not particularly hyped on the "stuff on the lawn" or the "cheap but colourful" furniture.  I just want to get rid of stuff.  And my apologies to the garage sale fans out there but the two times I've attempted one I've actually lost money paying more for advertising than I made in sales.

So again, what's a mom to do?  Well in this case I've managed to find a combination of free online selling groups and while the stuff isn't clearing out super quickly, it is clearing out. I began by posting on the local BUY/SELL group for my community on Facebook (I strongly recommend you find and join yours if you're on FB,) I joined Varage which is on online garage sales and I've posted on Kijiji.  Kijiji has been the last ditch option and I'd say 60-70% of my stuff went on Facebook or Varage.  Things that didn't sell on any of the three I've put aside to try again in a month or two.  If they still don't sell they will go to one of the many charities willing to pick stuff up at your house.

And we're doing fairly well.  Keep in mind that the biggest ticket item I've sold is a $10.00 blow up pool but Chloe's bank is up to $57.00.  If all goes well it'll be closer to $65.00 today.  I post the pics of what I'm selling, get an interested reply and then put the item out on the porch with a ziplock bag under the mat and the item disappears and coins show up in the bag.

Chloe loves coming home from day camp to check the magic Ziplock bag and I'm happy to see the stuff gone.  Best of all, is I'm one step closer to being able to send my baby to camp for another week without having to dip into our long-term savings or sacrifice our reno budget.  Oh yeah, and Chloe's learning about money and working for a long term goal.  AND I hopefully won't find baskets of new stuff to put away from Christmas time.

Any way I look at it.. it's a WIN!