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Oh The Places We Go

The 5 Minute Project: The Swing

by admin on July 22, 2013

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Panorama

by admin on March 20, 2013

These are from a recent weekend in Panorama. Yes, we went there to ski, but the eurobungy was a big hit with the kids. A fun thing to try out and less than $10 ;) Panorama is hands down our kids favourite ski resort. It is truly set up for families and there is lots to do besides ski. It is a must do trip for us every year. We usually go in April–on one of their last weekends–but, this year, we went in March because our April travel schedule is pretty full.

A little fun in the snow before we head to the sand and the sun of Belize. The kids are arguing over who will blog. I am crossing my fingers that the wifi in the house we rented works :) Watch for a steady stream of travel pics starting Saturday ;)

~ Dana

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Postcard From Pughville: Flying Fish

by admin on March 3, 2013

Truth be told, one’s a killer whale and one’s a seal…so, not really fish at all. Actually, Icelandic mammals :) But, that didn’t have the same ring to it ;) From this weekend in Panorama.

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Wild Play, Victoria

by admin on August 1, 2012

While we were in Victoria, we decided to take the kids to Wild Play. We saw the flyer for it on the ferry from Vancouver and the kids begged us to take them there. And, you know what…it was pretty awesome. Georgia did have issue with it and it took her awhile to gather up her courage and face down her fears, but when she did she was so proud of herself. Jack begged us to go back…which we tried to the next day, but we misunderstood the rules…so to clarify for anyone who might find themselves with a small child wanting to go further than the kid route…you can be a minimum of 7 years old, BUT(and this is a very big but) you have to be able to reach higher than a certain spot. And, our very tall 9 year old son only reached a few inches above said spot. Soooo…my only complaint would be that I think they should change the minimum age to something a bit more realistic. I don’t know any 7 year olds who are reaching that high. Just saying…cause there were tears. Of course, that is only because they loved it sooo sooo sooo much. If you are in BC, check this place out. Worth the price of admission.

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Ucluelet Aquarium | Oh The Places We Go

by admin on July 16, 2012

I’m not gonna lie…I was all like ‘how good can this tiny Aquarium really be?’, but Georgia is in love with the sea and the creatures that live within, so we decided to go on in. It was very inexpensive and we had nothing else to do that evening. Major problem, we had arrived about half an hour before they closed and we were guaranteed by the extremely passionate curator that it would take at least an hour and a half. So, we promised Georgia we would come by first thing in the morning. And, I was now looking forward to it…any place that employs individuals who are THAT passionate about the facility has got to be good. And, we were not disappointed.

We spent over two hours there…we saw an amazingly cool and hands on prey and predator presentation. Plus, the kids got to feed the fish. And, they have a fabulous microscope set up and an individual eager to show you anything you like under it. To say we were completely blown out of the water would be a gross understatement. There are 14 hands on exhibits which we could not tear our kids away from. They could touch sea urchins and star fish and all sorts of other things I can’t remember the names of :) And then, when you FINALLY finish the touch tanks, you get to see the other larger tanks…you know…the one with the OCTOPUS and the odd Dr. Seuss like creatures.

It is no secret that our kids are huge science nerds, but I have to admit that this is amongst the best exhibit I have seen like this for kids. The beautiful, west coast styled building and the extremely helpful and passionate staff make it such an easy place to just hang out in and explore. Georgia left saying that one day she would like to work there. I made the prediction that despite her declaration that one day she will be a chef, I think that her heart is somewhere in the world of biology. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Here are some of my favourite images from the morning:


If you are in Ucluelet…or anywhere near by…with kids(or heck…even without them), get yourself to this place. You won’t regret it.

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Victoria Bug Zoo | Oh The Places We Go

by admin on July 13, 2012

I’ll admit it…I wasn’t too gung-ho about the Victoria Bug Zoo, but my kids begged and we relented. Boy, were we glad that we did. It was small(but so are bugs), but the staff were super duper knowledgable. AND, there were so many cool bugs. Bugs my kids had only read about in books or seen on websites. They were especially excited to hold so many of them. And, when you couldn’t hold one, the guide was quick to point out why so there was no complaining. Jack’s favourite thing was getting a Giant Millipede moustache. He says a close second was getting a close up look at a Giant Stag Beetle. Georgia was incredibly eager and held every single bug that was available for her to hold–and, that included a lot of bugs. Bob and I were pretty fascinated with their extremely large ant farm which was incredibly impressive. We also found a great deal of fun in trying to find the stick bugs hiding in the branches in their tank :) We would say that this is a must hit up spot for families with young kids visiting Victoria. It’s a nice thing to do on a hot afternoon…right before you hit the ice cream shop ;)

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The New Calgary Science Center

by admin on November 7, 2011

We are huge fans of the science center. Our kids are self proclaimed science geeks…so everyone has been itching to get out to see the new one. Well, everyone but me. I hate crowds. Hate them. And, knew it would be bad. It wasn’t soooo bad until we left(at 2:00pm)…then it was unbearable(do they have a maximum capacity? Do they ever enforce it?).

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the opening of this facility. It’s too expensive–not good value…who can afford it? We’ve heard it all. But, our kids were blown away. Loved every second of the 3+ hours we spent there. We bought an annual pass(we have done this for the last few years). Yes, it was more expensive than in the past, but not that much more. So, I am going to give my honest to goodness review here. No holds barred.

Pros:

It is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing kid space in the city. This is huge for me. I know it won’t be for some, but it helps relax me in the sea of chaos that is hundreds of kids running amuck. I think I actually gasped when I entered the Creative Kids Museum…it was love at first site.  And, the outdoor space is not complete, but it looks like it will be equally pleasing. I love the idea of mixing science and learning with design and creativity. I think often kids who are more science leaning are not exposed to enough beauty and creativity and it is my belief that the two go hand in hand…a good scientist has to be creative. Has to be able to think outside the box.

It is an extremely hands on experience. Every exhibit offers the kids(and Bob) an opportunity to explore in some way or other. It is sure to keep them busy for quite a while. There is also a lovely mix of knowledge and life. Like right next to the display on your body and how a baby is made is an interactive experience about love. You can listen to people tell the stories of their first dates and then write down your own to share. You can leave a little note about the day you were born…similar displays occur in other spots–about memories. Which memories will you remember when you are 90? Which will you forget? I thought it was a lovely way to tie a scientific idea to each visitor’s life.

Cons:

You have to pay for parking and getting out of the parking lot on a busy weekend takes a long time. Yes, you had to pay at the last place, but it isn’t well set up this time around. Perhaps, they will adjust that.

They don’t have anything in the Featured Exhibit Gallery yet. So, it kind of felt like there was a big empty space. Ditto for the  movies. No movies yet…and the movies were always one of my kids favorite things about the last center(so if you only go once a year–wait for the movies to come out). Plus, when we were buying our annual pass, they didn’t even know how much the movies would be so it was impossible to make a decision between the base pass and the ‘gold’ pass. The lovely girl behind the counter tried to upsell us to the gold pass based on the parking expense but at $5/time and a $28 price difference for each kid and a $30 difference for the adults that adds up to a lot of parking. We could never make that many trips to the science center in one year. And, since I am on the topic of the pass and it has created the most controversy…I have to add–for the price difference, I think the movies should be included not simply discounted in the gold level. If that was the case, it would have been a no brainer for us. As it is, I am saddened that my family paid over $200 for the base annual pass and now every time I visit I will have to pay for parking and movies. I think the criticism that it is too expensive is not off base. I’m not sure what they were thinking with this one…I hope it changes because of the pressure. Also, I believe it is one of the only family attractions in the city that requires 4 visits for the pass to pay for itself.

The cafe is way too small. HUGELY too small for such a large space. We didn’t have a hope of getting a seat and the line up for something to eat was at least 20 minutes. We were going to eat there, but left.

It was way too crowded. Yes, it’s new, but I think they should manage the crowds a bit better. Of course, if they opened the movies I think that problem would be solved.

There were already a few things that were broken. Here’s the difficult thing…it is super duper high tech. Now, my kids LOVED the high tech displays. Georgia’s favorite thing was the digital painting with music. It was incredible. And, Jack spent a long time exploring the multiple animation displays at the Open Studio. But, call me a cynic…I fear that these types of gadgety things do not live up well to the abuse that thousands of kids using them a month will place upon it. I guess only time will tell, but if we see a lot of broken displays in the future, we will be hesitant to renew our pass. We are hoping that they are able to maintain so many gadgets :)

Bob felt that there could have been more information available at many of the displays. There were times when we were left asking ourselves, what is this about?

So, it is new. There are kinks to work out. I truly hope that Calgarians do not turn their backs on this space. From the crowds there this weekend, I don’t think the negative press has had too much of an impact. For our kids, it is love at first site. We can’t wait to see it evolve into one of the premier spaces for families to come together in the city. I truly think it has the potential…

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Be Still

by admin on October 20, 2011

Georgia at a park in Akranes, Iceland.

The work I create documenting my children is a love letter to them that needs no words. I hope that when they are adults, they will look back on the hundreds of thousands of images I have created for them and be reminded of how much I love them.

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Eastern Iceland

by admin on September 3, 2011

The day we arrived in Vik, we realized that we were unprepared to deal with the rain in Iceland. Iceland is a windy country for the most part–at least while we were there we were struck by that fact. Of course, we were maybe there in a particularly windy period, but I can only go with what we experienced. When it rained, the rain and the wind…and the low temperatures(even for us thick skinned Canadians) chilled us to the bone. We had rain coats of course, but we wish we had full rain suits with fleece pants and jackets underneath. And, maybe even mitts…and, this was in July.

We were a bit disappointed with the weather for the couple of days we spent in Eastern Iceland. There was so much fog, sideways rain and 8′C temperatures which meant spending a lot of time indoors which our kids don’t enjoy as much as exploring the great outdoors. It also meant that the views were a bit limited. BUT…what we realized was how this weather made the days feel…it felt otherworldly. Someone told us that there was a unique spiritual quality to the outdoors in this part of Iceland…and, well, I think the fog added to that. It made it more peaceful. And, given how incredibly peaceful that country already felt, that is saying something. We also realized that you cannot let the weather get to you and you just have to go outside and stand in the rain. We did skip the boat tour of Jokulsarlon which was something that we all were looking forward to immensely, but we made the choice that our kids would have hated to be outside in that weather for that long. We did get out for brief little runs here and there which made this a part of Iceland that we truly explored…taking every little side road just to see where it lead. Once driving through a field of lupines as they whipped against our car until they opened up into a vast nothingness of black pebbles and fog.

We stayed at the hostels in Hvoll and then again at Hofn. The hostel in Hvoll was fabulous. An old school that had been turned into a hostel. There were three seperate kitchens I think and a large meeting area. This was the first time we realized that we would be seeing the same faces at hostels along the road. Our kids became friendly with a family from San Francisco here who we saw at two other hostels later on. They chatted with an older couple from Isreal and learned a bit about their life there. A group of young people from Japan showed Jack the movie they were watching on their iPad. It was here that we truly realized how great hostels were going to be for our kids. In Hofn, we enjoyed some time with a Swiss family who we routinely saw at other hostels, but also at some of the bigger landmarks. We also went to the annual lobster festival there and felt like the only tourists :) We ate some more lobster soup which our kids still talk about. This time it was served in a bread bowl which Jack thought was super cool. We thought is was awesome how the entire town decorated their houses and their streets with orange balloons and lobsters made from whatever they had on hand :)

Just one picture…of Jack on a beach between Hvoll and Hofn. There were hundreds of little waterfalls on this beach…the kids loved it. No. Scratch that. We all loved it :)

~ Dana

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Iceland With Kids–The Golden Circle

by admin on August 15, 2011


I’m not gonna lie…doing the Golden Circle in one day with two kids was a bit ambitious. In part because we could not tear them away from the Geysirs ;) , but also because everything takes a great deal longer when you have to stop and tie shoes 10x’s an hour. In hindsight, I wish we would have done one of two things–taken a guided tour so we were rushed along and heard all of the history that I feel like we kind of missed out on OR taken a couple of days there. Staying somewhere along route perhaps. Alas, we did not which meant that we arrived at our hostel after 11:00pm. The lovely folk running they Selfoss hostel where we stayed held our room for us…which they did not have to. Keep in mind that if you are going to arrive late to a hostel, you should alert them so they are sure to hold your room. The other issue we had was occassionally when I booked online, I had some issues and had to purchase rental sheets. This was one of those hostels. I would say that if you find yourself with that situation online call the hostel directly instead of booking online. You will save yourself the cost of the sheets. I thought that we HAD to, but now that I’ve been there, I can see that was not the case. The Selfoss hostel was quite nice, but the common room was very untidy. This didn’t really bother us as we were hardly there given the time of our arrival and an early departure.

The day after our Golden Circle extravaganza was a beautiful day and we took it pretty easy meandering through some southern towns like Eyrarbakki. We stopped at their local folk museum(one of the buildings was a Norwegian kit house from the 1700′s) which we all adored and give two solid thumbs up. The staff there were lovely and suggested a walk out to see a lighthouse designed by Guðjón Samúelsson who also designed Halgrimmskirkja in Reykjavik. We also drove out to look at the landscape around Hekla–Iceland’s second most active volcano which was believed to be the entrance to hell during medieval times.

We then continued on our drive and stopped at Selandjafoss which is a magnificent waterfall where you can actually walk behind the water. It is incredibly spectacular and a not to be missed stop on anyone’s journey. You can read more about our time there in an article I wrote for Creative Mama here. Our last stop of the day was in Skogar. The hostel there is lovely and right at the famed waterfall. We quite enjoyed the view.

I am actually starting to get quite a number of emails regarding travelling to Iceland. I promise to slowly get out our recommendations here and lots of images over on my photography blog. I’ll try to answer the Iceland emails in a timely manner…

~ Dana

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