September 29, 2015

Explore Waterton: A Weekend Getaway

This past weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to be included in a bloggers retreat to Waterton, Alberta. Myself, along with seven other amazing women, and two small kiddos, packed our bags and took over the small town for a weekend of adventure, food and some good ol' soul cleansing. There is something magical and healing about being in the mountains and my weekend in Waterton was no exception. We only had two full days there and while I could have easily stayed for a week, I arrived home Sunday evening feeling rejuvenated, grateful, lighter and happy.

explore waterton

My original plan had been to capture the trip and experience into three posts, one for each day we were there. But after I got home and started going through the hundreds of photos I had taken, I immediately felt overwhelmed at how to perfectly capture the magnificence of the retreat. Instead of rushing to get a post out for Monday, I decided to sleep on it, hoping to wake up with a clear head and heart on just how to execute my posts.

I've decided that the best way is to quickly recap the entire weekend in a 'snapshot', and then I will have specific posts dedicated to the main events: hiking, boat cruise and food. Get ready for a week of Waterton my friends! I promise you won't be disappointed. And if you don't find yourselves wanting to go to Waterton after I'm done, then my photos and words have failed you. Also, in the meantime, you can always check out my instagram feed to see the many photos I posted while in Waterton.



On Friday, I packed up my car, kissed my boys goodbye, and headed south to Waterton around 2 p.m. I knew it was approximately a three hour drive from my house and I wanted to take my time getting there, arriving in the day light. Becky and I actually crossed paths in our vehicles en route to Waterton somewhere around Claresholm, Alberta and followed each other the rest of the way.

We arrived at our hotel, the Waterton Lakes Lodge Resort just after 5 p.m., ate dinner, checked into our rooms and then grabbed ice cream before heading down to the water to throw rocks and take selfies. 

waterton, alberta waterton, alberta waterton, alberta waterton selfie

By this time, all the bloggers had arrived so we all met up in town, wandered around a bit more, before heading back to the hotel. Our hotel was actually comprised of eleven separate buildings with approximately eight suites in each. Unfortunately, we were scattered about the different buildings, but luckily the walk between each wasn't too far. Danielle had the biggest suite, with a separate living room area, so we all congregated there for wine and girl talk before calling it a night at 10 p.m.

The rooms are older and the decor is outdated, but they were clean and well maintained. My bed was pretty comfy, but I regretted not bringing my own pillow. I liked the chalet style feel and that there was a door leading directly outside, rather than always having to go into a hallway to exit. Wifi was a bit of a nightmare, but first world problems. The coolest thing about our hotel was how the deer roamed freely all over the grounds, grazing on grass and leaves without a care in the world. 

Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta


We woke up early on Saturday, met up for breakfast and then made our way down to the dock for our boat cruise which took us to Goats Haunt, Montana. It was a two-hour cruise, and even though the weather was less than desirable, it was an amazing experience and something I would highly recommend doing. 

Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta

After the boat ride, we ate lunch and then Jo, Kris, Ashley and I set out to hike to Bertha Falls. The hike took us about four hours and once we were done, we quickly freshened up so we could meet with the rest of the group for dinner. This was followed by more ice cream and another stroll down to the lake. We got in some more girl talk back at the hotel before calling it a night shortly after 9 p.m.

Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta


We ate our last breakfast as a group and then hiked The Bear's Hump, kids in tow! A short, but challenging hike, with the most satisfying views at the top! After the hike, most of us said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. I sat with Danielle and Kaella while they had lunch and then I wandered about the town on my own. I wanted to take some time to reflect on the weekend, and absorb as much of the positive energy and vibes the little mountain town was giving me. I missed my boys dearly, but I also wasn't ready to go home. Had it not been so windy on Sunday, I definitely would have enjoyed a book and a hot cup of coffee in one of the red Adirondack chairs by the water. 

Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta

On my drive home, about 13 km after you leave Waterton, I did the loop through the Bison Paddock. It's a short, 3 km loop through a large, scenic park, where, if you're lucky, you'll get a good view of the herd of bison living in there. The views of the mountains and grasslands looking back towards Waterton are worth the short detour. The bison were a little far from me to get a good look at them, but I still enjoyed the glimpse I got. It was definitely a beautiful end to my weekend. 

Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta Waterton, Alberta


So, in a nutshell, that's how my weekend went! I'll be spreading out my next posts over the following week, so be sure to check back for those! You can also catch the recaps from the other bloggers on the retreat from the link-up below. 

**The #ABBloggersRetreat was funded and sponsored by Chinook Country Tourism in partnership with the Town of Waterton and Travel Alberta in exchange for posts sharing our stories. Accommodations, food and activities were provided to the bloggers. A huge thank-you to Kris and Candace for organizing the trip! All opinions and writing are my own. 

September 24, 2015

Thinking Out Loud {3}: Halloween Costumes, Passports & Jeans

It's Thursday, and once again, I'm sharing the random thoughts and happenings in my life with you lucky folks!

1. Yesterday, I bought Sully his Halloween costume. I'm still on the lookout for something I might like better, but I didn't want to be scrambling last minute come Halloween. Part of me feels a little guilty that I bought him a costume. I so desperately would love to be one of those mom's who can make and create some fabulous homemade costume, but I'm really not. The most creative I think I ever got was the year I was pregnant. I also feel like there are only a few short years where you have total control over what you dress your child as before they choose themselves, and let's be honest, any puffy, fuzzy costume is adorable on a baby or toddler. There's always next year for something creative, right?

Halloween Bat Costume
{throw back to last year's cutest little bat ever!}

2. My mom spent all of last week with us and it was so great to have her here. Jim had to go away at the beginning of the week for work so for a few nights, it was just me and my mom. We stayed up late watching bad movies on Netflix, didn't get to any of the projects around the house that I wanted her help with, and drank way too much coffee. It's so hard not having your mom in the same city so I pushed her to stay as long as she could. I'm grateful we are only a three hour drive apart though.

3. Last week we booked flights to visit Jim's parents in Florida in November and I cannot wait! We even lucked out and got direct flights both ways, which, when you're travelling with a toddler, are like gold. Then there was the whole obtaining of a passport for Sully issue. I was dreading having to take him to get his photo taken and dreading the possibility of sitting at the passport office for hours. Luck was on my side this week, friends. Yesterday, Sully nailed his passport photo on the first shot! Then today, I loaded up my diaper bag with snacks galore and mentally prepared myself to set up camp at the passport office. We literally arrived, were given our queue ticket and before I could even sit down, our number was called. We were in and out in FIVE MINUTES!

Toddler Passport Photos
{nailed it on the first shot!}

4. I've expressed my love for fall before, it's no secret, and one of my favourite things about it is the wardrobe. I love sweaters and socks and leggings and boots and layers. Unfortunately, my wardrobe is in a serious need of sprucing up and updating. I purged a good 75% of my closet back when we moved to Calgary and it's showing. Ok, maybe this is a good problem to have? I really don't like shopping though. It frustrates me, I have a hard time finding clothes that fit properly (hello strong thighs and big boobs!), and I just wish I could afford to hire a personal shopper. I read this post today by Kris about the impossible task of finding jeans that fit athletic builds and I nodded my head to every point she made. Pants, more specifically, jeans, are by far, the hardest article of clothing to shop for when you aren't tall and lean.

5. And now the best for last: this upcoming weekend, me and a handful of other fabulous Alberta bloggers, are packing our bags and heading down to Waterton for a blogger's retreat! I feel incredibly lucky to be included in this adventure and I cannot wait to have a fun-filled weekend away. Be sure to follow along with me on instagram!

As always, I'm linking up with Amanda this week for Thinking Out Loud.

Parents: Do you make your own kid's costumes, or go store-bought?

Jean shopping: hate it or love it? 

September 21, 2015

Weekending: Farms, Zoos, & Lakes

September is flying by, and I'm pretty sure it's because our weekends have been jam-packed full of fun. This past one was no exception. This is also why this is coming to you late, since we didn't arrive home last night until 10:30 p.m. and we literally went straight to bed.

But let's back up!

On Friday, I had plans to meet up with my best friend Karen and her three kiddos at Kraay Family Farm in Lacombe. We had been planning this for a few weeks - we hadn't seen each other in awhile and we'd both been wanting to check out the farm - but on Thursday night, I almost cancelled. I was tired and the thought of driving two hours one way to get there wasn't appealing at all. I woke up Friday morning rested and didn't end up cancelling, and I'm so glad we went! (Plus, if Karen can get herself and her three kids there, then surely I can get my butt together to go, right? Right.).

We spent almost five hours at Kraay Farm and the kids (and us moms!), had a blast! I even took my big camera with me and got some great photos and since I want to talk more about this place and all the things we did while there, I'm going to do a whole blog post just on our visit later this week. Here's a few iPhone shots in the meantime:

Kraay Family Farm Kraay Family Farm Kraay Family Farm Kraay Family Farm Kraay Family Farm

On Saturday morning, after much research and several test drives, we finally bought a new vehicle to replace my old car! Woohoo! The only bad part is we have to wait until November for the vehicle to come in. I will be sure to share photos of my new ride once she arrives.

Calgary Honda
{ringing the new vehicle owner bell! only slightly embarrassing}

Shortly after that, I met up with Ange, Jen and Sam at the Calgary Zoo. Sam is leaving us behind to go back to Ontario and we couldn't let her leave without first visiting the zoo! It's a very relaxing experience going to the zoo without children, haha! No strollers, no constant flow of snacks and I could move on to the next animal as quickly or as slowly as I wanted.

Calgary Zoo

When I got home, Jim even had a beautiful roast dinner all cooked, so Saturday was clearly a very good day. We ended the night by watching the movie The Way Back on Netflix with my mom, which we all really enjoyed.

Sunday, after a slow start to our morning, we packed up and headed out to our friend's new trailer at Glennifer lake. It was hot when we left Calgary, but cold and rainy when we arrived, which put a bit of a damper in our plans, but we still had a quiet, relaxing day. We took the boys to the park and then to see the lake before heading back to the trailer for wine and snacks. I had even remembered to bring my big camera along, but when I went to pull it out at the park, I realized I had left my memory card in my computer! I was so disappointed as it's just beautiful out at the lake. I love my phone for taking photos, but I was hoping to get some practice in with my other camera. The older boys took off for a round of golf while Lisa and I visited with the kids. We stayed for a delicious homemade supper and left the lake around 8:30 p.m. in the pouring rain. Luckily, Sully slept the whole way home and when we pulled into our driveway just before 10:30 p.m. he easily transferred to his crib and slept the whole night. Jim and I were equally exhausted and went straight to bed.

Glennifer Lake Glennifer Lake Glennifer Lake Glennifer Lake Glennifer Lake Glennifer Lake Glennifer Lake Glennifer Lake Glennifer Lake Glennifer Lake

Now it's Monday and I'm feeling like I need a weekend to recover from my weekend! I guess that's a sign of good time?! ;)

Hope you all had a great weekend too!

September 15, 2015

Hold On Tight

I remember so clearly, in those first few months of my son's life, how terrifying it was to take a newborn grocery shopping. Babies are like ticking time bombs, ready to go off in a split second.  Except, in this case, you don't have the countdown clock to let you know how many minutes or seconds you have left before you're stuck in the checkout aisle with a baby screaming in his car seat. I get anxious just thinking about those days.

I made sure my mom accompanied me the first time I ever went into a store with Sully. I can't even remember which store it was - probably Target, I'm thinking. I miss Target. That was a great store to walk around in with a ticking time bomb. Anyway. Two sets of hands at the store are always better than one, but the moral support and confidence from your own mother when you venture out of the house for the first time or two as a new mom is priceless.

Luckily, I have never had to abandon a cart full or groceries, although I feel like that stunt could be in my near future thanks to toddler temper tantrums. But right now, and it's been this way for a long, long time, grocery shopping with Sully is a heck of a lot of fun.

I come armed with a few snacks because it doesn't matter if we just ate breakfast or lunch, that kid always wants a snack at the store. He's still perfectly happy to sit in a cart - strapped in! - which makes the whole ordeal that much more pleasant.

And then it starts. It takes him a few minutes to warm up to the strangers and bright lights, but then it's gibber-jabber at an outdoor-voice-level, non-stop the entire grocery trip. Sully interacts with every single person who walks by, and when there is no one in close vicinity, he just continues to jabber loudly to himself. Usually he makes a big show out of whatever snack he might be eating, showing anyone who will look, what is scrunched up in his hand, and then proceeds to exclaim loudly how yummy each bite of food is.

Today, it was grapes. He saw them as soon as we walked in and frantically signed "more", so I put a clamshell in the cart within his reaching distance, and he helped himself to grapes the whole hour we were there.* Each grape was lifted high up into the air, and some praise was given to it as if he was blessing each one before popping it into his mouth. He put on quite the show, which is how our grocery trips go these days.

Most people smile, or speak back to him, or chuckle.  I like to think he's made someone's mediocre afternoon at the grocery store a little bit better, given them a sweet story to share to the next friend or family member they speak to…"you should have seen this adorable toddler at the grocery store…eating grapes like they were made out of the sweetest chocolate"…or something like that. I like to believe that even the coldest of hearts can be warmed up by the sight of my son blessing his grapes in the air.

I know there will be a time, soon, where indoor voices will be more appropriate and the smiles will turn into stares and looks of disapproval. My son won't always happily sit in a cart, snacking on grapes while we take our time perusing the aisles of the grocery store. We will cross that bridge when the time comes, but for now, I never want to forget the loud, happy gibberish, or the joy he finds in something as simple as grapes. I want to hold on tight to these little moments, I want to hold on tight to these simple times, where the days are long, but the memories are sweet.

Hold On Tight Hold On Tight Hold On Tight Hold On Tight Hold On Tight

*While I usually prefer to wash all my produce before we consume it, a few dirty grapes never killed anyone.

September 14, 2015

Weekending: Spartan Super & Spruce Meadows Fun

Another busy weekend for the books! Friday was a quiet day though and we didn't get up to much. And our evening followed suit as I had a big day to get ready for on Saturday. I even managed to get to bed at a reasonable time on Friday, although I did stay up late reading.

My plan Saturday morning was to be on the road by 7 a.m so that I could make it to Red Deer before 9 for the Spartan Super race. I don't know what happened, but I ended up waking up at 7 a.m., to no alarm going off, although my phone's screen clearly showed it had gone off. I had even set two alarms so this was so frustrating! I shot out of bed, quickly showered, ate breakfast, grabbed my bags and set out. Luckily, I had given myself extra time when planning my drive down there, so I still made it to Red Deer just after 9 a.m.. I picked up Becky and we headed down to the race area and met up with Lindsey and her husband Chad who were also running the Spartan.

I will recap the race in its entirety later this week, but I will say this: this race (which was 14km and 27 obstacles), was the toughest thing I have ever challenged my body to do! It tested every limit of my physical and mental being.

Spartan Super Red Deer

After the race, we cleaned up at Becky's place and then headed out to lunch at Brown's Socialhouse. It was part celebratory lunch, and part birthday lunch, as Saturday also happened to be Lindsey's birthday!

Lunch at Browns Socialhouse Crispy Chicken Burger @ Browns Socialhouse

After inhaling a chicken burger faster than I ever thought possible, I dropped Becky back at her place and then made the drive back to Calgary. It was a tough drive home - my legs were so sore from the race so sitting in one position for close to two hours sure didn't help the aches and pains! Once Sully was in bed I had a much needed epsom salts bath which I swear made all the difference in not being unbearably sore on Sunday.

Sunday we woke up to rain and grey skies. We didn't have any plans to leave the house, but then at the last minute we decided to head over to Spruce Meadows to check out the last day of their International 'Masters' tournament since we had free tickets from Jim's work. It was pretty chilly out, but I'm glad we went. Sully had a blast and there was so much to see and do - from the Prairie Dogs show, to bouncy castles, the horses, train rides, pony rides, face painting and exploring military tanks - I only wish we had gotten there sooner so we had more time to do everything.

Spruce Meadows Spruce Meadows The Little General & Puffer Belly Express Train Spruce Meadows Train Ride Spruce Meadows Train Ride British Tank @ Spruce Meadows Spruce Meadows 

The best part about going on the last day though was getting to take home some of the beautiful flowers from their flower arrangements they have out on their grounds for this 'Masters' weekend! Apparently, it's tradition for people to do this. What a great idea! Also, If you haven't been, and live in Calgary, Spruce Meadows is also a really beautiful place to visit and walk around. Their grounds are amazing and they even have playgrounds for kids that you can pop in and use for free during the day.

Flowers from Spruce Meadows

Sunday evening my mom arrived for a visit from Edmonton and Sully got crazy silly with excitement and wouldn't eat dinner. My mom hadn't seen our new house here in Calgary so it was nice to finally have her down and it will be great to have her here for a few days this week.

Hope you had a great weekend! 
Tell me something delicious you ate!