IAHP Trip- Free Day #1- New York City

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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 Halloween Adventure Update

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Halloween has come and gone for another year. Honestly it was always one of my favorite holidays. As a kid I loved dressing up and going out with my friends trick or treating. You can’t forget about the Halloween Slumber Parties. As I got older the Halloween Parties, dressing up and going to the bar. But then the kids came and things changed.

Now I have these little humans that I get to dress up in adorable costumes, that I wish was socially acceptable to always have them in.

20151029_135034407_iOSWe started off on the Thursday before Halloween with a duo daycare party. My good friend who also has a home daycare came over for a little daycare get together. We all got dressed up, and the kiddos spent the whole time playing. After lunch the kiddos got to indulged in some yummy chocolate cupcakes my friend made and some “worms and dirt” dessert one of my daycare families brought.

That night though, I somehow managed to slam my fingers in the driver’s side door of my van. And I don’t mean, just bounce the door off my fingers. I mean the darn thing latched closed. I cried the whole way home from 711. My friend finally convinced me to get my engagement ring off. As soon as I got it off the pain decreased. I guess the swelling was able to happen without the rings restriction.

The next day was Friday. I had 2 daycare kiddos, one was going to be leaving early and the other was going to be joining us at the mall Trick or Treating. During lunch, my daycare girl who suppose to be coming with us landed up having an asthma attack. Since this was her first full blown attack, her mom and I agreed she should be picked up and taken to the doctor. Then my other daycare kiddo was picked up and it was just Little Z, myself and my friend and her son.

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The local mall does trick or treating during the day on Halloween. If it falls on a weekend they do it Friday. They always make sure it’s during the week so the little kids can come early and not have to be trampled on by the big kids. Little Z did awesome, he walked about 3/4 of the mall snacking on suckers as we went.  After that he asked to be carried, my friend decided to see if her Little boy wanted to walk and do his trick or treating that way instead of in the stroller. So Z when in the stroller and promptly passed out. Sugar coma at its finest.

After we finished up there, we hurried and picked up Wes from school. I had seen someone had posted that Ikea does a safe halloween the night before Halloween. So we thought we would check it out. Wow… It was a bit on the lame side. No one seemed to know what was going on. At the end though, we stopped at the cafeteria and bought cinnamon buns. Mmmmmm…. Ikea cinnamon buns made it worth the trip.

20151031_015143737_iOSWes came home that day with a pumpkin they had carved at school. Then him and hubby wanted to carve some pumpkins and make pumpkin seeds. Think there was a single store that had pumpkins still. LOL NO! So I remembered that a friend of mine on facebook was selling them this year. I messaged her and sure enough she had some. So Wes and I when and grabbed some. We never actually carved them because it was so late. But we did get into some of them and make pumpkin seeds.

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Then it was the big day. I woke up and my eye was all messed up. I swear when I slammed my hand in the door it messed everything up. The nerves were shooting pain up my arm, into my neck. I felt ill and kept having headaches. I’m sure the shock did a number on my immune system, because after I visited the craniosacral therapist a few days later, I feel 100% better. I’m not sure if it was really pink eye, or a cold in my eye. But I didn’t have time to go to wait in a walk in clinic, so I went to the pharmacy and picked up some Polysporin drops. We lazied around most of the day, then I took the boys for slurpees. This was Little Z’s first slurpee. I’m sorry to say he didn’t enjoy it for long, as he also experienced his first brain freeze.

We were not sure how it was going to be in the evening. It had been raining all day, and just looked like it was going to be a miserable night. However, even though it was misting all night it was beautiful. The mist was refreshing, and we all left our coats in the van.

The only issue is, Z usually likes to go to bed around 7-730. He starts slowing down around 6. He didn’t understand that we are not there to visit people. He just ran into my friends auntie’s house. The whole going to everybody’s house, but not stay was very confusing to him. Eventually my friend and I just put the little boys in the stroller wagon and pushed them as close to the door as we could get and held out their buckets with their older brothers. They did enjoy the candy, and are able to eat it, just all the stairs to get to people’s doors was too much. Everyone was so sweet and no one made any rude comments.

Last year we were in my home town and so many people were so rude to Z. He had trouble walking in his costume, plus he looks a lot younger than he really is. So people didn’t want to give him candy. They told me I was just going to eat it. So rude. I’m really glad we choose to stay in our neighborhood this year.

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The kids did really well, we were out for about 2-2.5 hours and they filled a pillowcase and about 1/3 of another pillow case. I have no pictures of Z by the candy once it was dumped out because he was out cold.

We had a blast. It was sad for me not to spend Halloween in my hometown because it’s so nostalgic for me. But I can see that it is easier for my kids to trick or treat in the city where the houses are closer together and people are less judgemental.

Good time with my kids and friends. No much more a mom can ask for.

How did you spend Halloween??

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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!

 

Penner’s Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest Experience.

So I had a date this past weekend with my favorite little boys. Its been a long time since I took them on my own somewheres to do something fun, just me and them. 

I’m not sure about you, but I love Halloween and Fall festivities! Ever since I was a kid it was one of my favorite time of the year. I loved dressing up, Halloween parties, Boo at the Zoo, and local haunted houses, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, and of course making pumpkin pies.

Back when my big kids were little, I took them to a nearby corn maze. We had fun, but over the years it has gotten pretty big, and in my opinion less little kid friendly. So I started to look for something different. 

Well I found it! 

Penner Pumpkins & The Scarecrow Forest

Penner’s is located on a farm northeast of Steinbach, Manitoba. What I loved about it is it is totally kid oriented. If you have a more sensitive child, I could find nothing really scary about this place. 

I think even families who do not celebrate Halloween could enjoy this farm. There were no ghost, monsters, witches, werewolves, zombies, vampires, or any other scary creatures. Just farm animals, pumpkins and scarecrows.

The first thing Wes ran to do when we arrived was to start playing on one of the huge homemade play structures. He enjoyed the crazy slippery slides, and exploring the tunnels.  


Make sure to make lots of time to spend at Penner Pumpkins and Scarecrow forest. There were so many fun homemade play structures, your kids are going to want to keep running around playing. You won’t find ANYTHING like this in the city. 

Then came the paintball target range. Well as you can image, Wes was all over this! Imagine, being 9 years old and being ALLOWED to shoot a car and its passengers(scarecrows mind you) with a paintball gun? Yep, he was in his glory. Apparently he has good aim too! He was able to peg the scarecrow driver in the head several times. This summer at camp he apparently got a Bulls Eye his first shoot during archery and several throughout the day. 



Next came the Duck Races. One ticket got you a cute little rubber ducky to race. You put your rubber ducky in a race track and at the sound of “Ready, Set, Go!” you start pumping the water pump as fast as you can. 

But the best part was, we got to keep the ducky and we could go back and race with it as often as we wanted. Then at the end of the day, the boys got to bring them home. 


Wes and I found 2 GIANT homemade Connect Four games. There was also a picnic table, converted to a giant Checkers board.  





Instead of a sandbox they had a Corn Box. Yes it was a giant sandbox filled with unpopped popcorn. Z loved playing in this. Ok I’m not going to lie, I love playing in the corn box too! All though I would recommend if you are wearing flip flop sandals to take them off before going in the corn box. It kind of reminds me of quicksand and it almost ate my sandals a few times before I took them off. 

Afterwards it was 2:30pm. Every hour there is a train ride the loads up and takes sightseers around the farm .

The driver introduced us to several of his animals, and took us through the Scarecrow Forest. 

Wes also got to experience ziplining for the first time! He was so excited when he saw it. The two best things about this for me as a parent was : a) It only cost me $1.75 for him to experience this, and b) if Zakari hadn’t fallen asleep while we were standing in line(in my new Toddler Tula carrier, in case anyone was wondering LOL) him and I could have put on a harness and ziplined together. The attraction is open to people 2-86 years old. 

Wes also got to shoot what they call the Corn Cannon. They load it up with tennis balls and then you get to fire them at a farm target range. Sadly I didn’t get any pictures of this because my camera died 🙁

I should mention, these are just the attractions we hit. There were a few more, but we ran out of time and Little Z fell asleep. 

At the end of the day I was so happy with our visit. The owners and staff are amazing. Everytime I saw the owner, he was greeting guest and welcoming them to his farm. This is was not a money grab attraction. I felt everything was fairly priced, and well worth the price of admission. One thing you will notice is this not a corporate and professionally made attraction. This is a down to earth, made with love, blood, sweat and tears operation. The owners are obviously very creative, and know what kids love. It has a homemade feeling, and that is what I love about it. I felt like I was having a fun day on the farm with my family, not a day at the amusement park being nickeled and dimed.  

Penner’s Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest, we will be back next year!