5 Travel Favourites for Kids

 
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Traveling is our family’s favourite. Over the years, between packing up the van for road trips and our luggage for flights, we have definitely established travel favourites for our kids. Below are the top five things we don’t start a travel adventure without.

5 Travel Favourites for Kids

1. MiFold

 
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We have used MiFolds for the boys for the last several vacations. They are a travel must! Without compromising safety, MiFolds are portable (as in they fit in my purse) booster seats that instead of raising the child up to meet the seatbelt, they bring the seatbelt down to the child’s shoulder height. Traveling with our MiFolds has reduced carrying the bulk of extra boosters, allowed us to reserve any size rental vehicle and conveniently travel by taxi. Our MiFolds aren’t just a favourite of ours, we have loaned them out to friends and family who reported being just as thrilled as us!

2. LeapPad

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LeapPad tablets have been such a help for long haul travel! They have proven entertaining for all three of our children. Compared to other similar devices, LeapPads are designed specifically for children and are priced well. The games and activities are kid friendly, appropriate and educational. LeapPads are also built more durable. We’ve had a couple of stumbles and drops where any other tablet would have been broken on impact, not our LeapPads! I also appreciate that the battery lasts a decent amount of time and the kids can tote them around in their own backpacks. Our kids have also enjoyed capturing their own trip photos with the built-in camera.

3. Thermos FunTainer Water bottle

 
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Each of our kids have had the same Thermos Funtainer water bottle for the last three years. It shows on the exterior - the print is faded and there’s definitely some wear and tear; but they function every bit as well as they did on the first use. I love these water bottles for everyday, but they have worked especially well when traveling. Funtainers keep drinks cold for 12 hours. While traveling we have the kids top up on water during flights, at restaurants and pretty much anywhere we can. Using Funtainers ensures their drinks are always cold and fresh. Traveling with a water bottle in general also saves on extra cost!

4. Phil & Teds Navigator (Dot) Stroller

 
 

Our days of lugging a stroller with us for trips is winding down fast. In fact, we don’t even take one unless we’re going to a park of some kind. When we are going to a park, it’s essential we have our Phil & Teds Navigator. Our kids are still young enough that they tire quickly. This doesn’t work out well when so much walking is required for most (if not all) parks. During our trip to Florida last month, all three kids rotated sitting between the two seats of the Navigator. The stroller itself is narrow and manoeuvrable enough to easily move through big crowds, yet is still roomy enough for our eight year old to sit in the upper seat. The Navigator packs easily and is light enough to conveniently store in any trunk we have encountered. Having a stroller also works wonders as a shuttle for bags, coolers, etc.
Note, the Navigator model appears to have been replaced by either the Dot or Sport style.

5. So Young Backpack

 
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In the world of kids backpacks (or any backpack for that matter), you get what you pay for. I know this firsthand. Over the last eight years or so, I have replaced at least six or more backpacks, because I spent approx. $30 and they didn’t last (some not even a couple of months). Spending a bit more on a So Young backpack is a wise move if wasting money isn’t your thing. For travel specifically, each of our children are responsible for their own backpack during our trip. What they can comfortably fit inside is theirs for the trip. Snacks, LeapPad, small toys and drawing items are all toted along. This means they have a reasonable amount of entertainment at their disposal, but as parents we don’t have to organize this. So Young backpacks come in two sizes for different ages/heights, have padded shoulder straps, a chest clip, an interior zippered compartment and two exterior water bottle holders. All of these make them the perfect trip backpack!

We love talking travel with kids and would love to know your must-haves for keeping things simple and easy! Please share your favourites in the comments.

Kalea Bag Review + Giveaway

Kalea Bag Review + Giveaway

In keeping with my KonMari practice and mindfulness, when investing in the purchase of anything new I have definite criteria that need to be met. Among these, does it meet a need/want, is it made of quality and will it serve a continued purpose? The Kalea has not only met, but exceeded all my expectations. Read about what makes it so uniquely special.

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A Visit to Mabel Murple's Book Shoppe and Dreamery

A Visit to Mabel Murple's Book Shoppe and Dreamery

Nova Scotia is a treasure of hidden gems, with Mabel Murple's being one of the sweetest. Tucked away, down a lane straight out of a fairytale is the most picturesque place to relax, explore and be creative. Whether you're there to pick up a new title from the quaint bookstore, enjoy a slow-paced stroll around the property, or peek in on Mabel's home there is something for everyone to make a memory from. 

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Planning for Disney

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Family Disney Planning

Continuing with the "wish I was at Disney this year, but I'm not so I'll blog about it" theme, I thought it would be fun to share how I plan for Disney.

On the off chance you're not familiar, I'm a planner to a fault (if such a thing exists) and being able to plan for an upcoming Disney trip proves nearly as exciting for me as actually going on the trip (I know, I'm freak). However, all planner obsession aside, mapping out ones trip in terms of: a schedule (including dining options, entertainment, etc) really does make a significant difference. The reality is, you're never going to be able to take it all in while at Disney (that's why you go back!), but establishing a gameplan in advance of the trip, will at least ensure you are able to enjoy all of the must-do things on your family's list! 

The key things I plan for (in my Disney binder no less) are:

1. Park days - You'll likely have to do this anyway with your ticket purchasing, unless you have a hopper pass. However, even with a hopper pass, it's nice to plan so you can make sure you're able to see a lot of the highlights (parades, fireworks, etc) at each park during your trip. Not all parks offer their shows on a daily basis.

2. Dining options - Again something you're almost forced to do if you want to enjoy some of the noteworthy restaurants (especially the Character Dinners). When we have stayed off property (aka didn't have a dining plan), I still made a point to map out where we were going to eat for each day we were at a park. I did this because otherwise, I knew we would spend far too long trying to decide where to eat and waste valuable park time (not happenin' on my watch). So, I spend time in advance of the trip looking over menus (and let's be honest, prices) to find the most convenient option.

3. Spending allowance - It is SO easy to get carried away with all the beautiful things there are to buy at Disney, especially when you have little ones who want it all. For this reason, I set aside a certain amount of money each day for: spending allowance for each child, meals and incidentals. We also ensure that, despite their young ages, our children understand that they only have a certain amount of money for each day. We also provide them with a little lesson on saving up a couple of day's worth of money to buy one big thing. Establishing a budget, ensures that we are able to enjoy spending money each day without coming back to a huge Visa bill.

4. Highlights - In advance of the trip, we ask each member of the family what they really want to make sure they're able to see or do while at Disney. We make sure that we schedule and prioritize these things as close to the beginning of our park day as possible. The reasoning for this is, should something happen where we don't stay at the park for as long as we hoped or someone has a meltdown, etc. at least we know we already took in the main highlights and everything else is just a bonus. 5. My Disney park bag - Oh, yes... I'm one of those who wear a "hip" (aka fanny) pack at Disney and let me tell you, it's the best. In fact, it's so practical that you'll see as many people sporting one as not. For reference, this is the one I have. A hip pouch allows me to carry the essentials separate from the inconvenience and bulk of a purse or backpack. Before we leave for our trip, I make sure to pack everything (except my phone) in this bag, which often means I travel with duplicate items, but because it's just a few things, I'm okay with it. I would rather know I have everything I need than be disappointed at the park (side story: I learned this through not having packed ahead of time once and forgot sunblock... which cost nearly $25USD at the park). The essentials include: phone (with MyDisney app), money, sunblock, sunglasses and a hair elastic. Everything else is in our main bag (which I will do a blog post on in the future).

If you also plan well in advance for your Disney vacations, I'd love to hear about it! Please leave a comment and share your tips!

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Steppin' Out | Museum of Industry - Pirates, Parrots & Plunder

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We had the wonderful opportunity on Saturday to kick off March break with a visit to our local museum, The Museum of Industry. We're big fans of the museum and frequent it on almost a weekly basis for their Lego club (psst, it's awesome and free!), but it was a real treat to be able to enjoy this outing as a family and take in their current event, "Parrots, Pirates & Plunder!". 

Before we even got into the museum, the kids were beyond excited (they had been counting down their visit for a week) and once inside, it was obvious how much work and effort had been put into this attraction. The massive boat is what caught our attention first, the kids were able to raise the flags, try tying notes and climb up on the stern and go down the slide. Their excitement of the ship didn't last long though with everything else there was to do.

All of the prepared activities were hands on (major plus) and thoroughly facilitated by the amazing staff that were both helpful and really engaged with the children. Our little artist, Loic loved making his own pirate hat, the animal lover of the family, Mairi was captivated (from a distance) with the parrots and the performer of the three, Hudson made his big debut as part of the dress up performance. Other attractions include: walk the plank, cannon challenge, virtual sandbox, treasure hunt through the museum and lego table. They even considered the smaller pirates with a designated quiet area containing books and soft blocks.

It's always nice to be able to get out as a family and do something new and fun. We really enjoyed all of the museum's hard work and wonderful facilitation of this special event!

We highly recommend taking in the festivities. The "Pirates, Parrots & Plunder" event is continuing through Sunday, March 19. Additional information can be found on the museum's Facebook page and official website.

Sincere thanks to the museum for having us! *We were provided with tickets for this event. All opinions are my own.

Five Reasons Why I'm a Disney Mom.

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(Next trip, I'll be taking along the DSLR :P)

This month I have Disney on the brain. Okay, I always have Disney and Florida on the brain, but it's exceptionally the case lately because it's March and this is my favourite month and time of year to vacation. Since we're stayin' put this winter, I have been coping by way of reminiscing of our last few trips to the "happiest place of earth" and planning next year's reunion (hey, it's never too early). 

For the remainder of March, I thought it would be fun to post some Disney related content. To start, I thought it only made sense to share the reasons why I am definitely a self-proclaimed Disney Mom and why I love Disney as much as I do.

1. There's something for everyone to enjoy. As far as family vacations go, it's a safe bet that every member of the family is going to enjoy themselves for the entire time you are there. No matter the age, interest or how many times you've been, there is something for everyone to enjoy at all Disney parks and resorts. The options for enjoying yourself are pretty much endless: rides, parades, spectacular shows, shopping (hello, Disney Springs), character meet and greets, amazing dining options and general sightseeing. No matter how many times I've been, each visit still feels like the first and I expect it always will. 2. It's about family. As with all vacations, traveling to Florida provides a much needed recharge from our busy, everyday life. While we're on vacation our focus is solely on our family and seizing every memory making opportunity. When we return home, our time at Disney is often the most chatted about during family conversations. 3. Seeing the magic through my children's eyes. While everyone can truly enjoy the magic that only Disney can create, there is something especially incredible about watching your children experience it. I feel so fortunate every time we bring our kids back to Disney, because I know it will be some of their fondest memories of their growing up years. 4. We have to work hard to make a Disney trip happen. If you've followed me for any amount of time, you know we're a "budget family" and for luxury things like vacations, we have to save. Planning for a trip to the Sunshine State means we have to go without other things and really work to save so that we're able to make our vacations happen. For me, it makes our time away that much more special because I know the effort it took to get us there. 5. It's simply my "happy place". I talk non-stop about Florida and Disney for one simple reason, it's my happy place. I enjoy every single minute of being on vacation there. I love the magic, fun, upbeat atmosphere and making lifelong memories with the people who mean the most to me. I can guarantee that I'll always be a Disney Mom and in all likelihood, a Disney Grandma who will still be rockin' a blinged out fanny pack and Minnie ears.

If you're interested in planning your Disney family vacation, click here.