Friday, March 27, 2015

Disney World, Here We Come!!!

As you may know, I enter contests for about 30 minutes every single morning because someone has to win!  I treat it like a part time job and I've generally won smaller prizes.  Yesterday we found out that we were in the running to win the HUGE Disney World prize through Breakfast Television and West Jet.  They wanted to make sure the winner would be home in the morning for the announcement.  We were so nervous this morning watching it live, and suddenly, we saw our street with Thor coming to surprise us!!!




The trip includes West Jet airfare, 5 nights at a Disney World Resort hotel, 6 day Hopper Pass and $600 USD for a family of 4!  I'm really hoping that we can just pay for Nya to join us or she will have to stay behind (I'm not leaving her behind!!).  We'll use our Disneyland Bottle Fund to pay for Nya's airplane ticket.  The total value of the trip?  $8600.00.  There is no way we could ever do a trip like this!   


The trip is in 3 weeks!  I don't know any other details yet but we are so excited.  The timing of this is amazing.  We really wanted to go to Disneyland this year, but with us starting fostering likely in May, we weren't sure how it would happen.  Here's hoping Gary's work is cool with him having a few days off....


I'll include the video here once it's posted online, I think you can reach it here.


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I'm off to go buy some Disney themed T-shirts!

Love,
Louise

Thursday, March 26, 2015

FlyOver Canada {Review}

Thursday morning we went to Canada Place to experience FlyOver Canada.  It is a flight simulation ride complete with wind, mist and scents!  Children need to be at least 40" to ride so we went in two shifts so that Gary and I could take turns watching Nya.


The nice thing is that the show is year round, 10 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week.  You can just show up at any time and expect to get in within about half an hour.  There was even a covered heated waiting area for comfort.


I was worried that the boys might be a bit scared during the ride but they both handled it really well and enjoyed themselves.  It's a thirty minute experience with about 10 minutes of it in `flight'.  We did AboveUSA first and it was so cool to see the Las Vegas strip as we were there just last week!  AboveUSA  will be playing alongside FlyOver Canada until April 12th.  We then  stayed in our seats for the feature presentation; FlyOver Canada.
  

 As a person who has been all the way to the East Coast twice, it was cool to recognize different parks and cities as we flew over them.  I did not see much (or anything?!) from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or PEI, but Newfoundland and Gros Morne National Park were gorgeous.


Kai and Koen enjoyed waving to the kayakers and fishermen as we flew over the rivers.  You could even smell the forest and feel the spray of Niagara Falls!


{I wasn't allowed to take a photo from inside so here is one from FlyOverCanada.com}


It's cheaper to book online and right now there is a Spring Break special of 25% off for students and youth until April 3rd.  Kai gave it an 8/10 and Koen gave it an V/Z.  Yes, V out of Z.  If you didn't get a chance to travel this Spring Break, you might want to check it out to get the travel experience!  Kai was pretty pumped to say that he has now seen an iceberg.  Gary and I enjoyed it but it was definitely more exciting for the kids.

If you've been, I'd love to hear your feedback!  

Love, 
Louise

*Disclaimer: We were provided with tickets to review FlyOver Canada and opinions are our own. *

Thankful Thursday



You guys!!  Did you notice I missed my `Thankful Thursday' last week? That day was crazy as we returned for Las Vegas and packed immediately for Green Lake.  So, do not fear, I am back!

This week, I am thankful for:

1. Safe travels to Green Lake. The kids had a blast together and I think I was able to relax (I usually have a really hard time doing very little).


2.  A wonderful trip with Gary.  I didn't realize how much my day to day is filled with parenting.  It was so good to spend time doing what WE wanted.  This might sound silly but I was thankful that we really wanted to spend time together.


3. Antibiotics.  I don't like them for what they do to the kids' digestive systems but I'm thankful that we were able to get some for Nya and her chest infection.  Her dimples are almost back on her face...she's been a bit of a sick grumpy pants.


4. Sticks.  They make a walk through the forest a lot more interesting when you are two. Or six. Or eight.


5. The boys transitioning into their new room well.  They were totally fine leaving their comfy room and moving to a bare bones room.  We haven't really personalized it yet, and they just have old furniture in there, but they're excited about it.  I think I'm the one that is a bit sad as I don't love where their bedroom is and I have great memories from their old room. I'm glad they have each other. This means we can now get their old room ready for whoever joins our family!


6. Dandelions.  I love how the kids all loved picking them for me (or in this case, Nya likes to pick them for daddy).


7.  Fun family adventures.  Because of awesome readers like YOU, we get to do fun family activities and blog about it.  This week? Flyover Canada!  I'll be reviewing it in a post tomorrow.


8.  Cousins that get along.  It's so great that there was no fighting between them.  Yes, Kai and Koen fight but they don't have any problems with their cousins.  The youngest girls, Nya and Georgie, have their moments, but for the most part they get along well.


9.  Gary reading a marriage book.  Hot.  I'm serious.


{PS Cooking every meal on the weekends is also hot}


10.  Koen playing on his own.  Koen is just so different than anyone I've ever met.  He's so enthusiastic/eager/focused but he also loves and needs his alone time.  He can play for hours on his own and doesn't need direction.  He just makes up games with whatever he has.  He'll play Monopoly or Spoons with this stuffies and often prefers it over playing with real people.


I hope you are having a good day so far.  Please let me know what you are thankful for today!

Love,
Louise


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Eight Important Items for a Road Trip With Preschoolers

We always carry this bin in our van for comfort and safety.  Besides the usual books and toys on a road trip, these are some `must have' items that we keep stocked up.


1. Benadryl.  Please, please, please carry this on you.  Nya has had three allergic reactions in her 2.5 years.  The first time we were at a restaurant and had to rush out to buy some.  The last two times, we had it on hand.  We still don't know what she is allergic to.  If you do not have any in your vehicle or home, please get some today.

2.  Baby wipes.  We've always used the Kirkland brand ones and they are so great for messy hands and faces.

3.  Character bandaids.  Yes, we have a first aid kit in our van but these Tinkerbell ones make Nya feel a whole lot better than a regular one.

4.  Hand sanitizer.  I like to use this on the kids after school, church, or play date.  I know some germs are good for them but after the winter we've had with Nya, I think her immune system is working overtime already.

5.  Spare set of clothes.  We only carry a spare set for our youngest but it has come in handy many times over the years.

6.  Snack.  If you use it, replace it.  Road trips are always better when stomachs are happy.  Your wallet is also happier if you have snacks on hand.

7.  Pull ups.  Nya is potty trained, but when she gets sick, I don't want to worry about an accident in her car seat if she falls asleep.  This makes traveling less stressful.

8.  Sunscreen. Spring is here and summer is around the corner.  My kids are freckly and pale so any sun exposure is very noticeable.  Take care of your skin!

Are there any  items that I am missing?

Have a great week, friends!

Love
Louise


Monday, March 23, 2015

Green Lake 2015

Every Spring Break, we head up to my dad's `cabin' (house) at Green Lake near 100 Mile House.  We go with my sister Maria and her family which makes for 7 kids between the ages of 2.5-9 years old.  Gary and I had just come back from Las Vegas, and 24 hours later, we were already up at Green Lake!  Here's the post from last year, it's crazy to see how much Nya's hair has grown and how snowy it was last Spring Break.


The kids had a great time playing with their cousins and the adults just enjoyed some downtime.  Fortunately (for me!) the snow was gone so that it was a lot more comfortable to explore outside.  The kids usually love the snow for sledding but I think they enjoyed the quad just as much.


Our trip was cut short as the cold that Nya has had for the past 2 weeks turned into a chest infection with a high fever that didn't go away after three days (reached 40C/104F ).  I ended up taking her to the 100 Mile House hospital on the second day and they were so wonderful there.  Great nurse and doctor and there was no wait.  She was given a prescription for antibiotics but I asked if it was okay to wait a day or two to see if she could fight it on her own.  I just don't want to wipe out all the progress we've made on her digestive health.  Unfortunately, this has made for a grumpy/tired/sick Nya so we had to cancel the Williams Lake portion of our trip. I was so looking forward to visiting friends there but the good news is that they will be there for a while so I'm sure we'll have another chance to go visit!


{Throwing rocks on the ice, breaking up ice, making an ice castle...}



{Always someone to play with!}



{We went for a short hike up Mt. Begbie}






{Poor Nya not feeling so hot for movie night}



{I love that the house is right on the lake.  It's beautiful.}



{We also did a walk in 100 Mile House through Centennial Park}



{There's a great playground and hills to roll down too.}


{The benefit of having two families there is that you can escape with another adult.  I went on a run with Maria one morning and Gary and I went quad-ding on another day. Wish I could get video as we went through the bush but I didn't want to lose my phone.}


video






We had a great time together.  I love that our kids all get along so well.  Hopefully next year everyone is healthy!  By the way, if you are ever interested in renting Green Lake, it does get rented out and you can check it out here.

I hope you all had or are having a good Spring Break!  I look forward to checking a few things off the `To Do' list this week.  It's good to be home.

Love,
Louise

Friday, March 20, 2015

10 Year Anniversary in Vegas

When Gary and I were looking at places to go to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, our priorities were; 3 nights, affordable, warm, good food, and fun.  For our 5 year anniversary we did a relaxing getaway so this time we were ready for something different. Gary had never been to Las Vegas and I had only gone once 10 years ago. I'm sharing this as a review in case any of you decide to go to Vegas. I think I've realized that food is very important to us!

We stayed at the Monte Carlo, a 4 star hotel on the strip, and were really happy with it in regards to location, cleanliness, hospitality and smell (so much smoking in Vegas casinos!!).


We planned all of the restaurants that we wanted to eat at beforehand by asking for recommendations and checking out reviews.  Then, we could decide where we would eat each day due to their locations.  This might sound a bit extreme but that freed up so much time to just enjoy our time there. We also booked our shows ahead of time.  You can get two for ones once you arrive but I had no problem getting them online.

Day 1:
We arrived at about 6 pm and got settled in our room.  We went to 800 Degrees Pizza which was on the outside of our hotel.  Great food, fast, affordable.


Then, we walked all the way to Treasure Island (about 3 km's away) to go to our first show; Mystere.  We enjoyed the Bellagio fountains on the way there.


Mystere (Cirque Du Soleil) was beautiful and the high trapeze act had me sweating!   I had worn my nice dress and heels but packed a pair of sandals to walk back in.  I wish I could have taken pictures of the shows but believe me when I say that it was magical.


Day 2:
We went to Mon Ami Gabi for breakfast and were able to sit on the patio.  The ambiance, service and food were all great.  Definitely sit on the patio if you eat there, it's so fun to people watch.










{You can see the view in Gary's glasses}

We spent some time in the Lazy River at the hotel as well as the hot tub.  The weather was perfect in the upper 20's.  We each gambled $1.00.


Then we went to Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in Caesar's Palace for lunch.  I had a chicken skewer dish and Gary had Chili Relleno.  The atmosphere was really nice, my meal was good, but I think it was a tad overpriced.  Gary really loved his Chili Relleno. What I did love was the bread basket that they brought, it was a variation of cornbread, jalepeno bread and raisin bread.  Maybe it's because we haven't had white bread in months, but wow, yum.


We walked around and visited the M&M store (Gary has always collected dispensers) and walked through several of the hotels.


We just went to the Shake Shack for dinner as it was super close and affordable.  The burgers and shakes were really good!


We had tickets to go see  V The Ultimate Variety Show at Planet Hollywood which I had gotten through a Groupon.  It was entertaining and such a great variety of everything from extreme juggling to magic to rollerskating performers.  The only one I couldn't watch was Turf the contortionist, it is just too much for me.   For the price, I thought it was good.  After the show, we took the Deuce (double decker bus which costs $8 for 24 hours) to Fremont Street.


It took almost an hour to get there with all of the stops and it was so busy.  Fremont Street is a 5 block covered area of pure party.  We were there St. Patrick's Day and took a quick walk through but it was a little beyond my comfort level in regards to the, uh, outfits (or lack thereof).  Taking the zipline overhead there would've been cool.

{This is my `I'm really tired  and want to go back to the hotel' face}

We stayed for maybe 30 minutes and went home.  That day, we had walked 20 km.









Day 3:
We got up early and got our rental car from the hotel at 7:30 am.  I had booked it ahead of time to save money.  We used this day to eat at restaurants outside of walking distance and went to EAT near Fremont.  It was super friendly and huge portions.


Then we drove 30 minutes to Red Rock Canyon.  It costs $7 to get into the park for the day and it was so worth it.  We picked up a map at the Visitor Center and a friend had advised us on what hikes to try out.


The park is a loop that takes about 30 minutes to drive through. It is just one way traffic and you can stop at parking lots along the way to hike.  We did the Calico Tanks Trail which was rated as moderate and 1.5-3 hours.


 I highly recommend this beautiful hike. Perfect distance, difficulty and view.


 I wish that we had brought our wide angle lens but we just did carry on baggage to save time and money so we were a little tight on room.  Next time, we'd ditch a pair of shoes and take the wide angle lens :)


If you need something easier, just stay in the Calico Trails.  This was such a highlight for me, I loved it!  It was a breath of fresh air in more ways than one.


 If you want a more difficult hike, Turtlehead Peak would also be beautiful.


 We then drove the rest of the loop and did a small walk (Willow Springs Loop-not very pretty) and then drove back into town.

We went to the Lotus of Siam for lunch directly after the hike (yes, I was a tad sweaty).  When you see the outside of the building, you'll wonder why I recommended it, but once inside, it makes sense.  They have amazing Thai food and have received so many awards.  It was highly recommended to us and we both really enjoyed it.  Gary had a duck curry dish and I had a Bangkok beef noodle one.









We went back to our hotel and got cleaned up and relaxed a bit.  We decided then to book tickets for the Blue Man Group which was playing at our hotel.


{I wore a cute dress to the show but didn't get a picture before or after as it was chaos around there.  This face is my `I really didn't get it' look.}

 We did a quick shopping stop at ROSS across the road, relaxed by the pool, and then went to the show.  You guys, something must be wrong with me.  I did not like the Blue Man Group.  I didn't smile or clap.  I don't like drawn out awkward humour.  If someone can tell a joke in 10 seconds or 10 minutes, I very much prefer 10 seconds. I love visual beauty but the effects seemed 10 years old.  I've seen many of those things before and maybe if I had as many drinks as everyone else I'd like it more?  I didn't even get a picture with them afterwards.  Gary liked it more than I did, but still not as much as the majority of people there.   We did one last walk to the Bellagio fountains and went and sat outside New York New York, at the Shake Shack, sharing a peanut butter milkshake while people watching.

Day 4:
We got up at 7am to head to the Hash House A Go Go as the last time we tried to get in it had an hour wait.  We got there before 8 am and had no line.  The servings are huge and we probably would have shared a dish had we known.


It was packed with so many men waiting for March Madness to start one hour later.  We liked it but I definitely couldn't eat a meal like that more than once in a trip! Then, we walked back, packed, and headed to the airport!

Gary and I had a great time together.  It's funny because we considered just taking it easy one night and Gary said, `We can relax when we get home!'.  Three kids is more relaxing than Vegas.   It took about 12 hours to get our groove of just being together without kids and on holidays.  It was our very first time flying together without kids and I've never been away from Nya for more than one night!   We are so thankful for Gary's parents who watched our kids and ensured that we could have a great time without worrying about them.  I'm glad we went to Vegas.  It was a different sort of vacation than we had done before and we definitely crammed in about 5 years worth of dates into the 4 days :)  We would not do this trip with our kids, although a lot of people did, so it was a good one for us as a couple.


I would love to hear your thoughts on Vegas!  Have you been? Would you?  Now I'm looking forward to our 15th wedding anniversary trip...wherever that may be!

Love,
Louise