Thursday, January 20, 2011

Caillou (& Hannah) Loves Winter

With forecasts for the weekend weather dropping way below zero, I'm already thinking about how to keep Hannah busy and warm.

While we seem to have made the most of Montreal's indoor family friendly activities (we finally tried Kidnasium last weekend), there is one I would definitely consider revisiting.

The Biodome.

We went on New Year's Day and Hannah and her best friend had an absolute ball. From walking through the different environments to enjoying their unique animals and entertainment (slides, egg seats & play areas) it was a morning of pure fun.

But best of all, they loved the Caillou Discovers Winter section. With a live daily storytelling session and a totally kid-friendly play area, this addition was truly the icing on the cake.

The play area had dress up penguin and bear costumes, an igloo tent, an icy slide and plenty of huge ice cube blocks for building. While we could have stayed all day, nap time quickly approached and the long drive home was a relaxing one for all of us.

Here's just a glimpse at some of the fun awaiting if you decide to head east this weekend, (btw, the exhibit ends February 6 so better hurry while it lasts):

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow is a Working Mom

I don't think I've mentioned this one before but I love Gwyneth Paltrow's newsletter Goop.

From recipes to travel tips, she covers everything in an easy to read format that any mom can relate to.
This week Gwyneth featured an article titled "A Day in the Life..."

She takes us through the daily routines of 2 moms and herself. There are some great tips and here are just a few that I've pulled from each of them:

Juliet de Baubigny: Ok, so maybe we can't all have a trainer knocking on our front door on Monday mornings to motivate our weekly exercise routine and a weekly blow out may not be in the budget but...
  • I love that she stresses the importance of family dinners (thanks to my FoodFun side)
  • Truly devoting an hour to your kids every night (no cell phone, no email, no distractions...)
  • Get your girlfriends together - so important, enough said.

Stella McCartney:
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (FoodFun again..)
  • Reading together is special bonding time.
Gwyneth Paltrow:
  • It's all about balance.
  • Multitasking is key: hair conditioner while doing stretches
Sure, these are some high power moms but just like the rest of us they are struggling to find a balance between work and family.

Some of my tips include preparing the week's meals on Sundays and making tons of to-do lists. My biggest dilemma at the moment is trying to squeeze exercise into my routine. Although 6am seems to be the only time slot to make it happen, getting up in the dark is making it most difficult.

What about you? How do you get it all done?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Orlando Redux

We arrived home from Orlando, late Friday night, having been indulged in being bumped to business class but passing up on all of the first class extras because of a sleepy child that was too wound up to get any shut eye.

That basically was the theme of our vacation. No, Hannah wasn't on a constant sugar rush or Minnie Mouse high but our trip seemed to be equal parts amazingness and exhaustion.

After 5 days and 4 nights in Orlando I came to the conclusion that travelling with a toddler is not a vacation but rather a trip. You go away, you enjoy, you make memories but you DO NOT rest. I guess that's what adult-only trips are for, not that I've had one in the past 2 years :)

So here's redux of our journey for those of you planning an upcoming trip to Orlando or the rest of you who just may be curious to hear how it went.

Hotel: We stayed at the amazing Sheraton Vistana Villas. We lucked out and got an amazing rate on a 1000 sq. ft. 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom villa with full kitchen. Definite luxury and convenience. The resort boasts about 7 pools, numerous play areas and tight security. In my opinion, its only shortcoming is a lack of decent restaurants, but I guess there are enough of those in Orlando to go around.

First stop, of course, was the Magic Kingdom. We had a full 11 hour day with a character breakfast (Minnie, Donald, Goofy) at the Cape May cafe. A bit on the pricey side but well worth it. Then off to the big D for a day full of rides (Hannah's favourites were A Small World & Jungle Cruise), parades, shows and being called a Princess (me and her) every which way we went.

Other activities that I'd highly recommend are:

On a rainy day: The Orlando Science Centre. KidsTown is GREAT for toddlers with live animals (alligators, turtles), a kitchen play area, orange picking production exhibit, dinosaur bones and so much more.
To get outdoors and into nature, without the huge crowds head to the Green Meadows Farm in Kissimmee. We rented a wagon and pulled Hannah around the farm during a 2.5 hour walking tour of all the animals. They had everything from ponies to zorses (a cross between a zebra & horse) to ostriches. Best part, was that we could actually walk into some of the pens and feed and hold the animals. I even got to milk a cow!

And lastly, here are some family-friendly, healthy & affordable restaurants that I would highly recommend:

So, like I started off saying, we had a ton of fun but I could use another getaway now. Maybe the trip was too short or we just packed in too much. Maybe the terrible twos are making meltdowns a bit more common. But I guess that's what family vacations are all about.

But one thing's for sure: there's no better place to make a kid happy than in Orlando!