IAHP Trip- Free Day #1- New York City


IAHP Trip Free Day: New Year City, here we come… 

Walmart shenanigans


Early Morning Walmart Trip

Morning came painfully early. Regardless we didn’t want to miss any of our precious free time. When traveling to the IAHP, Free Days are limited. There was so much to see and do within driving distance, we got up and started our day. We knew we were going to meet a friend of mine at the Maryland Zoo on Sunday, so we decided to head the other direction. We drove to Coney Island. Before we hit the highway made another trip to Walmart to grab some supplies and snacks. Little Z had a blast playing with the over sized mascot heads.



Elastic Man Meets Houdini

About to head out on our road trip!

We left Pennsylvania, drove through New Jersey. Suddenly Zakari became a mixture of Elastic Man and Houdini. I look behind me and he has managed to weasel his upper body out of his car seat and he is trying to open up the back door. While we are on the interstate doing speeds that would have your license revoked in Canada.

Honestly I’m not sure how this happened. I’m what some might refer to as a “Carseat Nazi”. I’m very careful to make sure that my son is buckled up properly. But I guess he discovered how to unbuckle the chest clip and was able to get his arms out. This was a new car seat we bought specifically for the trip. I do not recommend traveling with a car seat your not use to using.

Needless to say it’s not as easy to pull over on the interstate in New Jersey as it is to on a Manitoba highway. I had to unbuckle myself and climb into the back to fix his seatbelt. Slightly scary since the car was traveling nearly the speed of light while Z and I were not properly restrained. Let alone the fact he was trying to open the door. Not my idea of fun.

New York City!!

Crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

An hour and a half later we arrived in New York City. There was that iconic bridge you see in the movies. Except in the movies, they usually don’t mention the $15US toll to drive over that bridge. Now that’s something I was not use to, tolls. Where I’m from you don’t have to pay to drive on a road. I feared what my credit card statement was going to reveal when I got the EZ Pass bill. It seems like everywhere we went there was a new toll to pay for. I’m glad that we figured out there was an option in our GPS to avoid toll roads.

Of course Zakari was not done living dangerously. He was demanding we pull over so he could “go swimming” in the Ocean.  I had to keep a close eye on him, because I was worried he was going to pull Houdini and try and jump out again. Thank god for child locks on the back doors and the fact he could not undo the lower clip/buckle.


Visiting The New York Aquarium

New York Aquarium with Daddy

Little Z loves sea creatures especially penguins. When we went to Alberta we spent so much time watching the penguins at the Calgary Zoo and the Aquarium exhibit in the West Edmonton Mall. So we were pretty sure we wanted to take him to the New York Aquarium. It is the oldest Aquarium in the United States that is still open. After doing a little research, we were aware that they were under construction. From what I read online there was mixed reviews whether it was worth the money or not.

The aquarium was damaged in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy. Staff members had to work tirelessly after the storm to help save as many of the aquatic residents as possible. According to many people on facebook the aquarium as never been the same and some exhibits are still under construction.

However for the $12 a person we paid, we were happy with our visit. We were quite proud with how Z was able to handle the crowds. I love to see the wonder in his eyes when he gets the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures. However just like on the plane the day before, Z had his own ideas how things should go. He got quite upset with us when we would not allow him to swim with the sea lions. The idea this kid gets sometimes cracks me up.

I’d say we spent 45 mins to an hour there exploring. I loved that we were able to buy our tickets on my phone and avoid the ticket lines. We just walked up to the advance tickets door and they scanned my phone and let us in.

Exploring Coney Island

When we were done at the aquarium, I really wanted to check out Coney Island. Since we had already paid for parking at the Aquarium, we just walked down the boardwalk. However we were not able to spend much time here because we seemed to have reached Little Z’s sensory limit. I would have loved to walk down through the midway or let him get his feet wet in the Atlantic Ocean. But now we have another place to add to our bucket list to visit and experience.

We still got to see the ocean, have fresh squeezed lemonade and get the Coney Island vibe. Spiderman came to pose for a picture, but Z was not having it. Maybe it had something to do with the fact it he had a Mexican accent instead of a Brooklyn accent and Z knew he was a fake.

Driving Around New York City

NYPD Parking Enforcement Vehicle

Ground Zero – 9/11











It was getting late, but we did not want to miss having a look around New York City. Z was content with his snack and drink, so we went for a drive. We were told we were crazy even to drive into New York City by other people who had visited the city, but we did just fine. We were able to see the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero from the comfort of our rental car. I know it’s not the same, but one day we will go back and experience the whole city the right way.

Homestyle Food – Bob Evans

On our way back to Philadelphia we decided to pre order some food online from Bob Evans. I remember when I went to Florida with my family when I was a kid that we loved this restaurant. Usually when we head out to the USA we visit North Dakota which does not have a Bob Evans. My friend from Baltimore had posted a photo of her take out from there on Facebook a few weeks before and I knew I had to eat their at least once. Isn’t technology amazing that you can order food online right from your phone and have it ready when you get there. I just pulled up the menu while Travis drove and selected everything I wanted.

Of course some where in New Jersey someone *cough*Zakari*cough* needed to stop and use the washroom. Driving down the interstate there is not an easy way to stop and find a washroom. We were luckily we able to find a turn off quite quickly that lead to a small town that had a Dunkin’ Donuts. And thank goodness for GPS which helped us find our way back onto the interstate. It was starting to get late and I had no interest in getting lost in a strange place.

Back in Philadelphia

Little Z after a full day of exploring

Finally we made it back to Philadelphia. Just in time to pick up our pot roast meal. I ran in and after a long day of exploring, the aroma of roast, mashed potatoes, veggies and yummy rolls were just what we all needed. I was so glad to be able to get a more home cooked meal while traveling.

Exhausted we went back to the hotel and ate. We all showered and changed into our pjs.  Of course since Z was out of his routine, it took us a while to get him to sleep. So we watched Netflix, and finally shortly after midnight we got him to sleep.

Our second day of our trip was in the books. We were in 3 different states, two of which I had never visited. What an amazing adventure.

If you missed my post about how we got to Philadelphia, be sure to read: IAHP Travel Day- Arriving in Philadelphia 


Overdue Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest Visit 2015

With Z having an afternoon tutor starting, so I should have no excuse not to update. Another motivation should also just recently paid for my domain and hosting fees. Yikes! But at least you know I’ll be around for another year.

20151024_193752545_iOSThe weekend before Halloween, we went back to Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest. I wrote about this place last year(Click Here to Read). Now this place is actually more of a fall experience instead of a Halloween experience. There are no witches, ghost, or goblins. This is a wholesome, place for parents to take their children for fall fun. (I’m not against Halloween activities by any means, but I know they are not for some families, and that’s cool too.) I was extra excited because Hubby and my step daughter were able to join us this year.

I think what I love most about Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest is the homemade feel. The slides, the corn box, the zipline, it’s all homemade. Some very handy people, turned their farm into a fun place for kids to experience country style play.



Myself and the kids got to go on the zipline. Even little Z got a chance. I don’t think he knew what he was getting into, but he had fun flying down the line with me. I really liked that it’s affordable. As I’m sure everyone knows it is usually super expensive to Zip Line. Here it only cost 1 $2 ticket per person.









While the big kids were running through the corn maze, little Z got to go for a pony ride. He loved it, but I think he would have prefered not to wear the helmet. With all the cases of lice going around, I also wish the kids did not need to share helmets with strangers. So as soon as we got home I rubbed a special essential oil blend our herbalist/aromatherapist made for us that repels lice in our hair. All was good.





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I want one of these in my backyard! Every year I can’t get over how cool the corn-box is, and how much fun it is to play in. Plus it’s not nearly as dirty as a regular sandbox.

Z was actually enjoying himself, just everytime I snapped a photo he looked like he was sad.





Also we can’t forget the mention the duck races. We each purchased a little rubber ducky for one ticket, then we were able to use him all day and race. Love these old fashioned water pumps.








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All three kids loved the homemade play structures what were all over the farm. We were able to measure Little Z on the height chart compared to last year. All three kids had fun playing with the homemade horse tire swing. Little Z needed a bit of help this year climbing the hay bail pyramid, but I’m sure next year he will be tall enough.

Simple outdoor country fun. Just what my city kids need. I can’t wait to visit Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow forest again next year.

Assiniboine Park Zoo visit with Little Z

walking around the zooThe weather got unseasonable warm a few weeks ago. So one Sunday when we had just Little Z we took him to the zoo.

I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Our zoo in the past was less than impressive. Lots of empty exhibits. They recently added the new Churchill exhibit where they take in orphaned polar bears. But since they added it the cost jumped 2.5x higher.

But I’m happy to report that we had a great time. While its not Calgary zoo, there has been some improvements.

Polar bear cubs eating at the zoo

Feeding time for the Polar Bear cub.

The weather was perfect. The animals were so active and we seem to get to several of the exhibits just at feeding time. The zoo keepers that were feeding the polar bears told us about the polar bears and answered several of our questions.

Lions at the zoo feeding timeAll of the staff were so helpful. Since the zoo has recently been changed we nearly walked right by the tiger and lion exhibit. The staff taking care of the camels redirected us and guess what, good thing too! IT was feeding time for them too.

seal swimming at the zoo

Little Z’s favorite animal at the zoo. The seal!

Now Little Z’s favorite exhibit was the seal area. If was like the seal knew too. As soon as we got there the seal started swimming and diving and putting on a little show. He was so happy to get to see his favorite animal in front of him.


Overall it was an awesome day! We enjoyed spending some time with just Little Z. The big kids have each had lots of time to spend with us alone, and while Little Z is usually with us alone on Sundays, we are usually just running errands.

We also took the time before we left to read about a few of the animals we might see at the zoo. And when we got home we read about others we didn’t know we would see. We used Firefly Encyclopedia of Animals to find what we wanted to know. I felt it had enough of select to find all the animals we needed to.

I think if you are able to visit a good quality zoo, that is respectful to the animals and supports conservation and research, it is enriching to your child’s life to go. It is so important to teach our children compassion for animals as well as respect. Its a lot harder to respect something you have never seen. But hands on experience at the zoo can help bridge this concept for your child.

New Years Goals/Bucket List

I do well when I set goals with powerful start dates. I’m not talking New Years Resolutions. I’m talking about solid written down goals or a bucket list.                                                                           I also don’t do well when my house is disorganized. After Christmas, my house was Chaos. I was nearly having anxiety attacks over it. So when you see goals that involve organizing my house, its because it is really important to my mental health. This is why they are on my list.

52 week check list. No particular order. Basically pick whatever I feel like doing that week.

I don’t want to let 2015 slip away. Hopefully with this I will get 52 projects or experiences done with my family. Wish me luck!

1) Clean and organize my bedroom closet and drawers.

2) Clean front entry closet and Linen Closet

3) Clean and organize all the kitchen cupboards

4) Create a clutter free kitchen.

5) Clean and organize laundry room and basement bathroom

6) Read 12 books. Children’s chapter books with my son does not count.

7) Clean out garage so we can park both cars in.

8) Donate 30 garbage bags worth of items to the Canadian Diabetes Clothesline.

9) Throw out or recycle 50 grocery bags worth of junk. (Day to day kitchen and bathroom waste do not count)

10) Organize all my bills and paperwork into binders

11) Finish my shutterfly photo book for 2014 and create as many books necessary to organize 2012 and 2013.

12) 52 week money challenge.

13) Banana island for one week.

14) Pay off $5000 on my line of credit

15) Get back on the Dave Ramsey Budget

16) Take my kids camping or to a cabin

17) Potty Train Z

18) Pay off and cancel my Sears Mastercard, after cashing out the points.

19) Crazy glue the tracks to the train table downstairs in my daycare area to an elaborate town.

20) Clear all the NAET autism kit for both boys.

21) Exercise 160 time in 2015 for 20-30mins.

22) Lose 20lbs

23) Take an online course about blogging. (Started Jan 6th)

24) Blog 160 times in 2015

25) Create 100 YouTube Videos.

26) Read 12 Chapter books WITH Wesley.

27) Get 150 Facebook Likes on Early Learning Mom Page

28) Get 200 Twitter followers

29) Give up fast food for 6 months. (Hopefully forever) Subway and Pita Pit are OK.

30) Try the one photo a day challenge

31) Get Wesley back on the allowance system and teach him how to handle money.

32) Make it out to Hawaii to visit my Online Bestie.

33) Learn to cook 20 new dishes.

34) Babysit one night for my local Bestie so her and her hubby can go out.

35) Organize and clean out the laundry room.

36) Attend the Hi Neighbor Parade and check out the strip.

37) Take the kids Strawberry Picking

38) Visit Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest

39) Take a ride on the Steam Train at Assiniboine Park

40) Learn how to make my own blog banners

41) Take the kids to the Snake Pits

42) Visit the Steinbach Aquatic Centre

43) Take the kids bowling

44) Visit the Farmers Market at Birds Hill

45) Set up the window bird box

46) Donate Blood

47) Help the kids create Christmas Shoeboxes for the needy

48) Get a Family Photo taken

49) Take Wes to Skyzone

50) Take Wes to do Archery

51) Take Wes for Ice Cream for the first time at Dairy Queen

52) Visit the International Peace Garden

What is on your 2015 bucket list?

Watch for blog updates on how I’m doing!


Trip to Oak Hammack Marsh//Reading//Homeschooling Stuff

Wesley did something amazing yesterday! He took turns reading pages with his tutor. She said he did VERY well. Just needed help with names and really long words. I only wish he would read to me.
So last night I was suppose to go to a meeting, but Wes was off, he was real upset I was leaving. So half way to the meeting guilt took over me and I called and cancelled. I can home and we all jumped in the car and went to Oak Hammock Marsh. Wes was super excited because last time we were there a beaver ran up on shore and made Mommy scream and run away.
It was a really good experience. We got to see the beaver breifly(he stayed in the water this time), snails, and birds, as well as prarire dog wholes. Wes had a great time exploring and running around. Lucky for him, my bf is braver then I am and was willing to take him off the beaten trail and explore more interesting areas.







I experimented this part weekend and allowed Wesley to have a few hotdogs that contained milk and gluten. It seems to have been a no go. He seems extremely emotion and tempertantrums are up. So back to gluten free and dairy free for now. I find that he is ok if something may contain milk, but if it does for sure its not a good thing I guess.
I can’t wait for things to quiet down around here. We haven’t had time to do math in a week or so. Which is not terrible considering we are over 1/3 kindergarten math, I just like to make progress every week. But I have to learn to accept that this is the bonus of homeschooling. Some weeks we will get more done then others.
We started doing DadDude from Brillkids fleshcards, its introducing phonics. We did half of the first pack and he seems to be getting it. We turn it into a game. I lay 12 out and pick one, we sounds it out then he can put it in his complete pile. So far so good, the first pack he is use to because of Hooked on Phonics. So hopefully they will keep going well.
And we are still working on our reading challenge!
This week there is something every day except Friday. My bf has to work, so Wes and I are having a Mommy and Me day after “work”, we will do homeschool after the kids leave and then I want to take him for a nice walk to the park. Maybe we will relax and pop some popcorn and watch Kung Fu Panda or the Bee Movie.
After he is in bed, and the house is a little tidied, I want to just focus on making a game plan for Spetember. Right now we are just winging it, experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. But come September when he is offically in Kindergarten I want to have a nice path to follow.
Breath in and out and I hope to survive the week :)After this it should be a cake walk… Right??
Have a wonderful day!