Saturday, July 4, 2015

Our Calypso Adventure!

Summer is finally here. The kids and I have started our summer routine of swimming lessons, swim team, day trips and weekends at the cottage. To kick off the summer of 2015,  we decided to head over to Calypso water park. Calypso is North America's biggest water park and has something for every age group. When you arrive at Calypso the parking fee is $8, are many turnstiles to pay the fee, I suggest bringing cash to make the transaction faster. 

We have arrived. 
We entered the park with high hopes of water adventure, speedy slides and a welcoming lazy river. Renting a VIP Cabana was first step in the right direction. The Cabana was our home base and meeting place. The Cabana's come with a fridge, free wifi and most importantly a quiet spot to rest and reconnect with all of our group members. On this trip we had two preteens, a nine year old and a 6 year old.

Checking out the slides. 

The park actually opens an hour before the slides open. This is a wonderful tidbit of information for families looking to claim a picnic table as a home base for the day. We arrived at 9:30 am and had the opportunity to look around the park area, change into our swimsuits, find the water fountains and look in the gift shops. 

Our team loaded up for a day of adventure. 

By the time the gates to the slides opened the kids were already running to be the first on the water slides. Check out the calendar on the Calypso site to plan your day of fun at the park.

Our VIP Cabana staff. 

I am trying to "let it go" a bit more as a parent, meaning I'm trying to be less of a helicopter parent. KT brought her BFF with her to Calypso. The two girls spend the day running from slide to slide independently. They would come back to the Cabana to check in periodically or when they were hungry. With close to 600 staff members, 120 lifeguards and 55 slide attendants I felt that KT and her friend would be safe and their well-being was a priority for the staff. Calypso also has a nurse on site at all times at the first aid station if medical attention was ever necessary. It was not easy to just let her go, but by showing KT I trust her and have confidence in her ability to take care of herself, I am helping shape the person she will become. 

I feel the need for speed! 
Beckett, AndiePandie and I spent most of our time in the  Jungle Run (lazy river) just outside our cabana and in the Pirate's AquaPlay area. There were many primary aged participants on the pirate ship during our visit with older siblings and parents trailing along. One of the best parts of the magnificent ship is the huge bucket that completely soaks the participants with hundreds of liters of water.  Zoo Lagoon is a preschoolers paradise. There are perfectly sized slides, water sprayers and splashy pools for the under 5 set. This area was filled with running toddlers and happy parents the day we visited. 

Just my speed, the Jungle Run. 

There are many options for lunches and snacks at Calypso, there is more than the regular park fare. We found the chicken Caesar salad to be the perfect side dish for the sandwiches and fruit tray we brought from home. You are able to bring in coolers of food and drinks to the park. However, there are no glass containers or alcohol allowed in the park for obvious safety reasons. Each bag and cooler is inspected upon entry so be ready to show what you have brought with you. 

Are we tall enough Mom? 
The five of us decided to complete the Jungle Challenge together. There are ropes of all sizes, abilities and strengths. We walked over alligators, logs, huge leaves and made our way across the obstacle course laughing at each. It was not an easy feat to cross the more challenging ropes course, I may need more time in the gym before I go again. 

Beckett relaxing with his Minions! 

Safety is the number one concern for the staff at Calypso. If you are interested in learning more about the rides and how to ride them safely, I strongly suggest watching the videos on the website before you go. One final money saving tip, when you enter the park and pick up your tickets for the day, you will be asked if you would like a $10 return ticket. The return ticket can be used up to 6 days after your first visit. 

Front office staff!

My family and I were compensated for our visit, however the opinions are our own. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Canada Day Food Frenzy!

Canada Day is a big deal in our house. We invite people into our home and celebrate the anniversary of our country's confederation. This year was a bit of an exception. The rain, thunder, wind and frequent downpours may have dampened the day and our party but not our spirit!

We started the day with matching tattoos and our favourite family activity, swimming. Our pool offered free public swimming, lifeguard games (think of reindeer games) and a family swim to end the afternoon. Despite the weather our community's recreation committee had free family friendly activities, games and crafts prepped for all the proud little Canadians in our town. 

Several times during our swim the thunder rumbled and we had to exit the pool for safety reasons. That was when the mini-me's began to hear their own tummies rumbling! AndiePandie wanted something with chocolate and bananas, white Beckett wanted puffy chicken. I like to let the kids be as creative as possible in the kitchen however, I have no idea what we needed to create puffy chicken. When are arrived home and were slightly hangry we quickly figured out what his favorite ingredients were and started creating some puffy chicken. 

Beckett's Puffy Chicken is a modified Chicken Empanada recipe. If I called this dish Chicken Empanada there is no way he would eat it. Beckett loves chicken, cheese and colourful peppers. Last month on a Beavers camping trip he discovered he also really enjoys pastry crust cooked over a campfire. There was no campfire today due to the rain, so we improvised. 

Beckett's Puffy Chicken 
2 cups cooked separated chicken
1 package herb & garlic cream cheese 
2 cups shredded marble cheese 
2 cups chopped red, orange & yellow peppers
2 large Tenderflake Pie shells (thawed) 
2 tsp garlic powder 
salt & pepper to taste 

We started by thawing our two Tenderflake pie shells and creating medium circles with a small glass container as a mold.

Tenderflake pie shell thawed and removed from the tin foil. 

With two pie shells I was able to make 10 circles for empanadas.

Glass container I used to create the circles for empanadas. 

Andie placed a heaping tablespoon of the chicken and cheese mixture, folded the circles into semi-circles and pinched the edges to close the them. 

Shredded cheese, cream cheese, cut chicken breast, colourful peppers, garlic powder for the filling. 

We baked the empanadas at 400 degrees for for 15 minutes, then turned them over and baked for another 10 minutes. The pastry was light and crispy while the filling was baked to cheesy chicken perfection.  

Perfect flaky pastry ! 

Since hearing about the new Minion movie, Andie Pandie has been a little obsessed with bananas. She is my little baker and wanted to create something with Tenderflake puff pastry.

We decided to be creative with what we could find in the house, Andie was happy as long as banana was the main ingredient. 

Chocolate Banana Minion Pastries 
1 square frozen puff pastry (unfolded) 
1/2 bag Ghirardelli chocolate chips
2 large bananas (sliced) 
Cinnamon Sugar 

We rolled out one of the thawed squares of puff pastry on our marble countertop. We pre-baked the puff pastry for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Andie spread out the chocolate chips and bananas evenly on the base of the pastry. She then sprinkled cinnamon sugar and nutmeg over the bananas and folded the pastry at the corners. 

This is the pastry before baking with the corners and ends slightly pinched. 
After picture! Lining the puff pastry with parchment paper was helpful when placing & removing the gooey goodness from the oven. 

We put the pastry back in the oven for 10 more minutes to melt the chocolate. The pastry edges turned golden brown and tasted like butter. 
Finished product! 

Andie felt it would be better with whip cream as a garnish, of course she was right. In order to help you have some fun in the kitchen with Tenderflake products,  I am giving away 5 product coupons to one of my readers. 

Please let me know in the comments below what you would create with Tenderflake. The winner will be emailed on Friday, July 10th 2015. You can enter everyday and for an extra entry follow me on Pinterest, then back and leave a comment with your Pinterest page so I can follow you back! 

Good Luck & Happy Canada Day! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Family Travel with TreehouseGo

This summer my family and I, will be exploring most of Eastern Canada. During July, we will go on overnight and weekend trips in Ontario & Quebec. In August we will travel 2731 kilometers, to Newfoundland and visit my husband's childhood summer home. This will be our first, long-distance driving adventure we have taken as a family. (send coffee) 

Each child has a travelling tablet that suits their needs and size. They also each have their own selection of apps, that keeps them entertained and usually contains some educational content to keep me happy. 

Just in time for our summer family travel adventure Treehouse has launched its TreehouseGO app for mobile devices and tablets. The beauty of this app is that Beckett can watch Treehouse shows anytime & anywhere without an internet connection. TreehouseGO gives Beckett on-the-go access in a safe and educational environment that I trust. Our experience with TreehouseGO app has been nothing but positive. Beckett has found the app easy to navigate, he has been able to find all of his favourite shows including Dora and Friends, Little Charmers, Octonauts, Toopy & Binoo, Bubble Guppies and Mike the Knight. I also like that the app, free to Treehouse TV subscribers, will be continually updated with the most popular and current Treehouse series.  There will be little chance of me hearing, "Mommy, I am BORED" on our long drive with this app. 

The TreehouseGO app features full -length episodes on demand and you can watch the channel live as it airs by clicking on the Live TV icon. Our favourite option is the offline "My Backpack" download to go option. By filling Beckett's "Backpack" before we embark on our journey, I save an data & internet roaming charges. 

You can visit the the TreehouseGo site for more information. Upon downloading and opening the TreehouseGO app, users will be able to submit their email to receive special promotions such as a discount code for tickets to Treehouse Big Day Out, the two day family festival taking place in Toronto on Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13.

One other small characteristics of the TreehouseGo app that we appreciate is the closed captioning option. As Beckett is still learning his blends and increasing his reading fluency we keep the closed captioning on. This gives Beckett the opportunity to read the words as he hears them which will contribute to his acquisition of basic literacy skills.

This is the first app is a suite of apps created by Corus. If this is any indication of the high  quality apps offered by Corus, we will be repeat customers!    

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Finding Our Happy Place

Moving to a small town from the Glebe was a huge social and emotional change for our family.  I had a one year old and was 8 months pregnant with my second child. I needed to find my cohort, others who were in the same stages of life. Somewhat exhausted and needing to cool down during the oppressive summer heat I headed to the local outdoor pool during a family swim session. Over the summer months, those family swim sessions became a welcomed source of socialization.  Each of us would all smile as we attempt to engage in conversation while our babies pulled at our swimsuit straps. Without hesitation I can say all of us enjoyed the refreshing cool water, but we were also thankful for the moments of connectedness. 

I found the environment and staff welcoming. It was easy to go to the pool, effortless really. I never once felt judged by my ever morphing, baby producing body. If anything it became a point of laughter on many occasions by staff, commenting  how big my growing belly grew. As a result of our high frequency pool attendance and the professional staff,  the children began to swim early and build relationships with the staff that extended beyond the pool enclosure. 

At 5 years old, during one of her first swimming lessons, KT was asked by one of the guards to try out for the swim team. She was instantly welcomed by the swim team and began to have success in the water.  I met a group of parents who without pretension welcomed me and explained the nuances or swim team. Seven years later my oldest is a competitive swimmer, where she has flourished in her chosen sport, found a cohort of swimmers she calls friends and set her life on a path of athleticism.

My middle child, found the water to be therapeutic and calming. In a quiet moment, after a swimming lesson, she told me that she loved the water because it made everyone just like her, unable to hear properly. One chilly July morning, AndiePandie age 4, wearing a Dora the Explorer swim suit & her hair swept up in pigtails, asked the 18 year old male lifeguard if his penis shrunk in the pool like her new little brother's did in the bath tub. The lifeguard never even blinked, he just smiled. He gave me a quick glance and told Andie it was time to start the lesson. She took his hand, walked to the deep end and simply told her our bodies do all kinds of funny things when it was cold. It was all Andie needed to hear and began her lesson. Andie swims each summer with our swim team and loves her time in the water racing. 

Our youngest Beckett, has a slight fear of water. The staff over the past 5 years have encouraged and challenged him. This year, along with swimming lessons,  he will join the swim team and begin racing. That would never have been possible without the amazing staff our community recreation director hires and trains.

Our pool, our community hub opens today. There are many returning staff members and we have already made plans to be at the pool opening, attend swimming lessons and be part of the swim team. This is our happy place to be active as family, it has where I have met the most amazing cohort of swim team parents and I cannot wait for our seasonal ritual to begin. Where is your happy place? 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

At The End of The Day

This afternoon, I received a call from my father at school. A life-long family friend, had taken ill and he was worried how I might take the news.  When you live in a small town, your friends & neighbours become like an extended family. Through death, love, laughter and traumatic events you become close knit and protective of one another. The hardest part was listening to the angst in my Dad's voice knowing that this news was weighing heavily on his mind. Not to mention how my sister and mother were coping at the hospital. 

Tonight, as I am finishing up school reports & trolling the interwebs for positive videos,  I am reminded of my own mortality. When I leave this planet, my hope is that my children, family and friends will know that they were loved and appreciated by me. I begin each day with a positive thought and am thankful each evening for the time I have been given. 

Unbeknown to my family, I went to see my doctor this week for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, I am worried about my heart. My doctor agrees and next week I will be fitted for a heart monitor, and I will have a myriad of blood tests and other tests done.  Am I scared of the results? No, I truly am not. I am more fearful of leaving my family behind before my time. 

I am sharing this with you for several reasons. Selfishly, I want to know I am not alone. Secondly, at the end of the day, if I can encourage just one other person to have a courage conversation with themselves and their doctor about their heart & overall health then I have done something positive with my 200 words. 

I am sending love & light to our friend Tiona this evening, if you have some to spare please send it her way. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Who Loves Minions?

Last year, we embarked on our Guthrie Family Adventure to Universal Studios in Florida. One of the biggest attractions the kids wanted to see was Minion Mayhem. They laughed at the banana farts and their stomachs lurched as the ride raced us around Gur's secret lair. It was the highlight of their trip. This perfect Minion sized coffee mug was my souvenir of the trip.

You can now find new Minion toys inside specially marked Kinder Surprise  Classic Eggs. There are 11 to collect. Isn't it cool how the egg shape resembles a Minion? Our next arts and crafts time we are building Minions watch for our creations on my Twitter and Facebook pages! 

Who wants to win a Minion-themed prize pack worth $40.00, in preparation for the new Minions movie which is a prequel to the Despicable Me movie?


The winner will be emailed on Monday March 25th, 2015. Good Luck! 

PSSST! I have a secret to share with my readers. On Friday, May 22 join us for an extra-fun Kinder Canada Facebook page giveaway. For fans who’ve collected all 11 Minions toys, there’s a chance to win four tickets to see the Minions movie in theatres when it comes out this July. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Special Olympics Fundraiser Today in Kemptville!

Today at Staples in Kemptville, Ontario there will be a BBQ from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm benefiting the Special Olympics Ontario. The Kemptville Staples is located at 302 Colonnade Road beside Scotiabank. Special guest athlete Olympian Erin Arbuckle will kick off the BBQ with all proceeds going to support the Special Olympics Ontario. 

 "Special Olympics Ontario is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to providing year-round sports training and competition opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability. As part of the international Special Olympics movement, the Ottawa District Community of Special Olympics Ontario is committed to providing much needed physical education programs to more than 600 local athletes. Our programs are operated by over 250 dedicated volunteers."

This year there are three athletes from Saint Michael's High School competing in the Special Olympics. Jillian Simpson, Ben Sutherland and and Matthew Cadney will be competing in various Track & Field events including shot put, standing long jump, 50 m, 100 m and 200 m. 

Come out today and support your local athletes! You can follow our Kemptville location on Twitter. We will see you there!