Where to go – Canada. Travelling with kids.

There are so many choices when it comes to travelling. You could be forgiven for thinking that these choices would be diminished when travelling with tiny humans – but you would be wrong. One of the best destinations to visit as a family is Canada and fortunately there are lots of flights to Canada from the UK that you can book

With so many destinations to choose from it can be a little overwhelming. No matter what you love to do during your time away, we have put together a few ideas to help you plan your next trip!

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Ontario

With more than 15000 animals including sea turtles (my personal favourite), Jellyfish, Sharks and Stingrays. Ripley’s Aquarium is the largest in all of Canada. This place is a must see for sea life fans of all ages!

CN Tower

Right next door to Ripley’s Aquarium is the CN Tower. Holding the title of the world’s tallest freestanding structure for 30 years, this is a great way to get a wonderful view of Toronto!

The queues to get into the CN Tower can be pretty long but don’t worry, there is plenty to do along the way including a great big Moose! As well as the Moose there is the Skyquest cinema and even a magician to entertain those waiting to see the stunning views over Toronto from the top of the tower.

Niagara Falls

Top of the list of must see’s for a lot of visitors to Canada. Known for it’s waterfalls of the same name, Niagara Falls is a city with lots to offer. See the falls from a different angle by taking the Journey Behind The Falls or if you have older kids do The White Water Walk. Go and check out the Butterfly Conservatory or have fun on the Cosmic coaster at Clifton Hills Amusement park!

West Edmonton Mall, Alberta

The biggest mall in North America (spanning the size of 48 city blocks), West Edmonton Mall is a destination in itself. As well as a plethora of shops, the space also features an indoor amusement park, waterpark, bowling alley, mini golf course and ice rink, on top of the over 800 stores and services found on site. With more attractions than you could enjoy in one day, a stay at one of the two on-site hotels makes this an ideal weekend destination for families looking for a range of fun to be enjoyed all in one spot – without ever having to step outside.

Did I mention there is also a zoo!

Stanley Park, Vancouver

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s premier spot to get up close and personal with nature and animals. The grassy expanse offers outdoor teahouses and stunning views, beachfront hideaways and splash parks. It is a typical getaway spot for friends and families, especially as it is home to Vancouver’s aquarium, and some of its best equestrian outlets.

Something to know, before you go

Children who are traveling to Canada without both parents need authorization from the non-accompanying parent. Sometimes this is enforced and other times not, but to play it safe you’re better off with a notarized letter. Divorced parents should carry copies of legal custody documents. Find out more about the rules here.

Love it or list it – Is this our forever home?

MrG has had to work away for the past couple of weeks. He has returned home at the weekends though and we seem to have developed a possibly slightly unhealthy obsession with watching A Place In The Sun (Scarlette is by far my favourite, in case you were wondering). It got me to thinking about what happens next and whether we would ever consider buying another property abroad to use as a holiday home once the children have all flown the nest – especially now that I have health concerns.

Aside from how sad it makes me feel to think of them all leaving home – not least because I would then a) have to do their chores myself, but also b) there would be only MrG and I left. We might actually have to spend some time together. Jesus. Maybe 10 years wasn’t long enough to really consider the implications of this whole marriage thing.. There is also the issue of what we would do with a 4bed house and only the 2 of us in it?

Don’t get me wrong, it would be good to keep a bedroom free for guests and MrG has already nabbed the fourth room for his home office. So, we would easily use the space. But by then we will hopefully have paid off the lions share of our mortgage and it would be nice to change it up a little. A quaint little Spanish villa that we could jet off to for the winter would be lovely!

Shifting my focus

Or perhaps we ought to be thinking less about what we will do and more about how Bess will manage. After all, university isn’t cheap and accommodation costs could be huge.

According to a recent article from Age Uk Mobility about how Uk homeowners have changed their home during lockdown, lots of people have made some really positive adaptations to their property lately. Maybe now is a good time to be looking for a little place to let to her and a maybe a couple of housemates?

At least that would be an investment of sorts and would kill 2 birds with 1 stone by giving her a helping hand at the same time.

Even though she is only 15, Bess is already researching the universities she would like to apply to. It would make total sense to buy somewhere to do up ourselves over the course of the next few years but I’m not totally convinced that we could manage that on top of both of us working full time too.

Love where you live

At the moment we love it here. We have lived in this house for 12 years and in that time we have added a kitchen/diner extension and a shower room downstairs which has created a space for me to be able to use to work from home as well as a bedroom upstairs and remodelling the old separate WC and tiny bathroom to create a decent sized family bathroom and an airing cupboard. You never realise how useful an airing cupboard is until you move into a house without one!

So we have done a fair bit of work and I am just not sure we could actually find a house which could offer the same space outdoors as we have at the moment. The garden is narrowish but it’s pretty long and the front of the house has parking for 6 cars – if they aren’t huge and you have a skill for Tetris.

We have been really lucky in terms of the street we are on. It’s very quiet and our neighbours are, with one exception, lovely!

Everywhere I have looked at online seems to be full of compromises which frankly I don’t really want to make again.

The pull of that glass of red on a beautiful balcony overlooking a Spanish sunset is rather strong though..

Crystalina Positive Aura Fairy Dolls

Ad. We were sent this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions remain our own.

 

As well as having my own 3 children I am also Aunt to over a dozen nieces and nephews! It wasn’t difficult though to know which of my nieces would love to try out the Crystalina Fairy dolls.

Em is the same age as Moose and she and he have been inseparable since they were very small. Being really close in age (just shy of 3 weeks between them) they have grown up to be best friends and close cousins.

Em is the sort of child who very much believes in magic and is fascinated by the world around her. I knew right away that the Crystalina Fairy Dolls would be something she would absolutely adore.

What’s in the box?

The Crystalina Fairy dolls stand at approx 10cm tall and come in a range of 4 to choose from. Each one is supplied in clear, plastic packaging and includes a magical colour changing Sprite, who comes with a very special amulet necklace and display stand.

The Sprites all have their own positivity aura superpower. Rose Quartz is for love, Turquoise is for healing, Amethyst is for Wisdom and Aventurine is for luck.

Of course the amulets work with the Sprite Fairy dolls and I am happy to note that the clasp on the amulet is quick release which is a great plus point from a safety point of view.

Each Sprite Fairy doll has 10 auras to cycle through and then 1 special superpower which can be activated by simply shaking the doll.

Another cool aspect of play is that when 2 Crystalina Fairy dolls ‘meet’, they can bond and share an aura colour! The shared power is remembered by the doll until they meet another.

The Fairy Sprites also come with a cool moon shaped display stand which has a space in the back for the amulet and one in the front for the doll to stand. They look awesome lit up in the childs bedroom!

What did we think?

Em loved the concept of the magical crystals and Fairy Sprites and to be honest I thought they were kinda cool too. If there is one thing that kids can never have enough of it’s positive reinforcement of their feelings and emotions. I like that the Crystalina Fairy dolls offer exactly that

As well as helping the child to understand their emotions and helping them to feel empowered the Crystalina dolls also have a friendship aspect while being clear that each one has different and equally awesome gifts to bring. I like that about them.

The Crystalina Fairy dolls are marketed as being for girls aged 4+ but to be honest I think they are missing a trick because Moose loved the dolls too! I would say though that most 4 year olds might struggle to understand how to use the dolls – I am sure they would be fine with help and would most certainly love the colours!

Available from Tesco, B&M and other good toy retailers.

There I was, eating a biscuit… Guess who is diabetic

Last week Moose was invited to the birthday party of a good friend. Since it was in a soft play place which happened to be next to a garden centre and since he is of an age where I can drop and run… I arranged with my Mum to go for a coffee while M was busy with his friends.

Great plan? Right? Well, it would have been.

The cafe post covid has gone to crap. They used to sell lovely lunch options but nowadays not so much. All that was on offer were a few mediocre looking slices of cake which didn’t even come on proper plates. Sorry but if I am paying £3.50 for a cake I don’t want a polystyrene plate. I don’t know if it was polystyrene. Whatever, it looked flimsy.

So we got our teas and found our seats. I went off to the shop within the garden centre and grabbed a packet of biscuits for Mum and I to nibble while we drank our brew and had a chat.

20 minutes into this endeavour my phone rang. I say rang. It’s less of a ring and more of an alarming beeping. This way I have to answer my phone lest it terrifies those around me who might assume we are under some kind of attack. It works. Now I answer calls – for those who know me, you will be able to appreciate that this is a huge step for me.

I answer the phone and it was my GP. I had been to the docs the week before.

Just lately I had been really feeling like I ought to try to do something about my weight.

I am pretty heavy (understatement) but something had been niggling me and I made a visit to the nurse to get tested and make sure I was starting out on an even playing field. Basically I didn’t want to put the effort in for no return.

My bloods were taken the next day and I was told I would get a call in a few days. This was that call.

Now, what I was expecting was to be told I had low iron. Feeling tired all of the time is not new for me and I have had low iron levels a few times before.

Nope, the GP was quick to assure me that was all good. However, I was now diabetic. He said that a nurse would call me to make an appointment to come in and speak to me about my diagnosis.

I’m not stupid, I knew that type 2 was a real possibility with a high BMI like mine but I had had zero symptoms that would have jumped out as being related to diabetes.

  • No peeing often

  • I wasn’t overly thirsty all the time

  • Blurry vision is pretty normal for me because of my Punctate Inner Choroidopathy

  • No frequent infections

  • Unexpected weight loss? I wish!

  • Increased hunger? Well maybe but I am pretty fat so that is to be expected

  • Fatigue – well, 3 kids and 7 stone extra in weight would make anyone tired, right?

  • No numbness or tingling

The GP seemed to expect a bigger reaction but it is VERY difficult to take a call like that and say you are surprised when you have your phone in one hand and a biscuit (lemon drizzle in case you were wondering) in the other hand.

I licked the icing off my biscuit, mouthed the word DIABETES at my Mum who was looking on with a puzzled expression and thanked the Doctor for calling to let me know.

Nobody likes bad news

My most immediate thought was “Shit, I should have asked my levels were”. I hadn’t and I was cross with myself for not doing so. I am pleased that my Mum was with me though. Mum is diabetic too and it really helped to have her there to bounce questions off. Obviously the moment I finished the call with the GP I had plenty of questions.

About 10 minutes later the nurse phoned me and she was a bit more forthcoming than the GP had been. Unfortunately I won’t get to see her for another few weeks for my initial appointment but I have Mum to ask and I have also googled some great websites such as https://www.dietdoctor.com which was recommended on lots of forums.

Mum takes medication called Metformin for her diabetes and I have seen over the last few years how the side effects have taken their toll on her. Yes they keep her blood sugar in check but they have caused other discomforts. The GP and nurse have both said that they want to put me on Metformin too.

My plan

Obviously the moment I got home I started to read up on the condition. I went through other peoples blogs and personal accounts of their journey with type 2 Diabetes and I think I have a plan.

It’s not set in stone by any means but I have decided that I want to try to avoid Metformin if I can (and as long as my Nurse approves) by eating less/better.

I have cut my carb intake to 100g per day initially and am trying to avoid refined carbs wherever possible. If I can lose some weight before my appointment with the Diabetes Nurse I am hoping it will demonstrate my commitment to getting my levels into the safe zone without the medication for now.

It’s going to be a challenge though. My relationship with spaghetti was pretty solid – albeit obviously toxic to my health. The shame of admitting that I have caused this – and make no mistake I absolutely have – is very really and very raw right now. On the upside though the treatment does not involve having a needle jabbed into my eyeball so that’s a nice change..

I will check in after my appointment and update you.

Fingers crossed?

5 pet care tips for parents

Pet ownership comes with a hefty task list.

But our furry friends bring so much joy into our lives in return.

Owning a pet is also a positive way to teach children about responsibility and can bring the family closer together.

With that in mind, these are five pet care tips for parents that will make your life easier, help your kids understand the importance of good pet care, and ensure your animal companions are well looked after.

 

  1. Prepare together

If your new pet is going to be a surprise for your child, you can skip this step

But if you’re planning in advance as a family, involve them in the early stages of preparation – from choosing your pet, to buying essentials like beds, cages, and toys.

Letting them help you with these decisions early on will help them feel involved, and the experience of that early excitement before adoption will only encourage them to play a hands-on role with their new best friend.

  1. Create a rota

Sharing chores is an excellent way for children to learn valuable life skills and master the art of responsibility.

And doling out pet-related tasks on a rota is a great way for them to enjoy the full pet ownership experience too! Family chores app Cozi is a favourite with many parents when it comes to task delegation.

  1. Know what to look for

We hate it when our pets suffer, and unlike us, they can’t explain what’s wrong.

That means that when something isn’t right, they rely on us to notice the warning signs, such as a lack of appetite, low mood and more obvious physical symptoms.

Some of these may indicate a serious underlying health condition. But just like humans, others may be more manageable, such as allergies. A good vet is a valuable ally, particularly one that pairs with experts like Avacta Animal Health to provide thorough and up-to-date treatment.

Teaching your kids to keep an eye on your pets helps them develop that caring role, and strengthens the bond between pet and young owner.

  1. Teach them training

Training a pet can be a surprisingly useful skill – we’ve all seen those Facebook videos of dogs who can fetch snacks from the fridge.

It also makes your life easier – there’s nothing worse than an animal who doesn’t heed the word ‘no.’

And involving your children in the house-training process is good for both you and your pet, who will learn authority form every individual in the house. It’s also rewarding for your children to be involved in this part of pet ownership.

  1. Make memories!

The most important part of childhood is the memories you make as a family, and pets will only add to the experience.

Be sure to take plenty of photographs together to remember those special times – your pets will make a hugely positive impact on your child’s treasured memories, and it’s a time in their life that you and they will always reflect upon fondly.

These are just five ways for parents to teach their children the importance of pet care and make the most of the experience together.