Ancient Forest and Pickleball
Today was the last day for my Uncle being in town, so we wanted to take him to view one of the “things to see” near Prince George. The “thing to see” was the Ancient Forest (Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park), and despite living in Prince George my entire life I had never been there. I’ve driven by the park plenty of times; just never had the time to stop. As I said in a previous post – now that I have little children I am taking the time to explore close to home, those big trips can wait until they are older.
Not only did we (my sister and I) take our Uncle, we also brought the two youngest ones with us . . . pretty much little weighted training vests . . . I was reading up about the trail and it sounded like there was a nice boardwalk with wheel chair access; so I figured I would take the stroller. Thankfully I mentioned this out-loud and was told by two people that would be a terrible idea, and that while there are boards to walk on it is 100% not stroller accessible. This lead to a bit of a “what the hell am I going to do” moment this morning. My Dad suggested I stop in at the baby store on the way out to get a carrier, and I was quite loathe to spend that kind of money on probably his one and only hike haha. I put in a call to my sister hoping she had not left the house yet and asked if she had her baby wrap handy. She did! So we lashed Cedric to my back.
“Lashed Cedric” is the best description I can come up with because he was quite literally tied on. He is nearly at the max weight for this wrap, and I am pretty sure no one intended people to carry a toddler up and down a fairly steep hike over a few kilometers with said wrap. Needless to say I spent the entire hike with my hands hooked under his bum behind my back. My legs really got a good work out phew (didn’t help that I did legs and played pickleball yesterday); and my shoulders are feeling it too.
The mosquitos were kind enough to pretty much stay away, only my sister got a bite. I used the baby bug spray on myself and Cedric, and that worked really well. Since we had spent a good hour driving out the Ancient Forest we wanted to make it worth our while, so we took the waterfall hike. This time of year was perfect for seeing the waterfall, it still had a lot of power and was giving off a lovely cooling mist. The weather was so nice, but definitely warmer than comfort when you have a child strapped to your back. We were going to the do the “big tree” loop as well, but my sister’s little one was starting to get pretty hungry, so we just did the regular trail back.
After getting back to the parking lot we fed the little boys . . . not that Cedric had not already drank two water bottles and eaten two fruit pouches while I was carrying him through the gorgeous trees. Cedric was very happy to be on the ground stretching his legs, and shoveling handfuls of goldfish crackers into his mouth. We met a few different travelers from various countries on our walk and in the parking lot. I would say this is definitely a place to stop if you are heading East, or have a free weekend to go. Don’t wait 37 years to see it!
Last thoughts of the night . . . Pickleball! What a delightful sport! My Uncle plays extensively down on the Island and always travels with his Pickleball gear. So my sister and I accompanied him to the Northern Sports Centre yesterday to learn how to play. If you have a tennis or badminton background you pick it up pretty quickly, and since it is drop in you make teams out of who is there.
The first group I was with were very patient as I missed almost every ball that came my way (and smacked my teammate in the back with the wiffle type ball). By the time we had our second match I was in the swing of things, just breaking rules. After a break I joined with another group, and this time I had it figured out and we had some nice rallies (the 4th game it looked liked I had been playing for much longer than 1 hour). I have to say I was really impressed with how welcoming everyone was, they were more than happy to show a novice the ropes. So if you want something a bit different for exercise definitely try out Pickleball. It’s not just for old people, I can feel my bum muscles today!
Mud Kitchen and Tattoo
We had a very very busy Saturday with Amelia and Cedric. It should have been a swimming lesson day, but I signed them up for the Mud Kitchen workshop hosted by the CCRR through the YMCA of Northern British Columbia (see end of blog for more CCRR). I was a bit worried looking at the weather over the last few days, but Mr. Sun gave us plenty of sunshine this morning. Throughout the week it was threatening thunderstorms all day today. The staff were worried about rain, so instead of starting with edible mud (chocolate playdough) we started off going straight outside.
Not that I am going to complain about having a small group of children, but it was too bad more people did not attend. I hope in the future more people sign up so they continue these awesome activities. Cedric and Amelia had a little kitchen stand to themselves, but also shared nicely with another two children at another station. The children were very keen on making soup and having everyone ‘taste’ it. The teachers had a huge variety of pots, pans, spoons, buckets and textured elements to use. Amelia added flower petals to her mud soup. Speaking of flowers Neil was also able to acquire a tiger lily for our garden. Part of the workshop was the option to plant flowers.
Cedric spent as much time wandering around touching everything as he did actually playing. He adores water, so once he saw me playing with the hose he hightailed it over and stayed put. Once the little ones were playing well on their own I made them up a batch of edible playdough. They used cocoa powered to make it mud like. . . . however my husband thought it was a cup of real mud and dumped it out into the grass . . . .whoops. So we came home without playdough. After some snacks that the Y provided we headed home; the kids had long naps, then we headed over to Gramma’s house for a BBQ.
Amelia and Cedric were delighted to find out that Gramma had bought a sandbox for her house, and it did not take long for both of them to really get into digging. Amelia also remembered there had been a boat attached to our truck yesterday, so she was also excited to see the boat parked next to the sandbox. She asked to be put in the boat, and pretended to drive it around the yard The other tried and true BBQ activity was bubbles! They had so much fun with Dad blowing bubbles on the front deck.
In other news, I added some filler to my latest tattoo (I love tattoos and have two sleeves, and some large leg pieces, and a little one on my foot). I went with birth flowers to represent my little family. Cedric and I are both Daisies, Amelia is Larkspur and Neil is Snowdrops. I have one more sitting to add a peony in my elbow ditch, then it will be complete. Hard to get a good photo of my lower arm, but you can see the work in process:
Back to the first part of my blog today. The CCRR is a fabulous resource that doesn’t seem to be very well known by non-daycare providers. I rented their climbing structures multiple times before buying my own. They also have dress up, sensory bins, puppets, games, construction, puzzles, active play and so much more. These items can be rented for two weeks at a time, and are absolutely perfect to use as a toy rotation without having to pay anything. So if you didn’t know about it before, now you do and I recommend checking out their website that has their entire catalogue.
Dinos, Bad Batteries and Cabins
So I was supposed to be updating my site and Facebook page with the latest card options, but I was excited to be asked to make a dinosaur image for my old personal trainer’s son. She told me he loved velociraptors, tyrannosaurus rex and pterodactyls. I have a fairly extensive supply of dinosaur stock, and decided to go with the smaller velociraptors so that I could keep the little boy a larger size. I love that he was wearing a red jacket in his photo, really helped highlight him in the photo.
Speaking of personal trainers – I am so happy to be back in the gym full time! I don’t usually talk about my weight, because weight is a number and doesn’t define a person, but after having my son I felt like I was living in the wrong body. So I worked hard on my diet over the last few months, and lost the 40lbs I gained and lost 7 inches off my stomach area. Now that my body fat is reduced I feel athletic enough to really enjoy the gym again. I am focusing on building my lost muscles, but I’m not striving to go back and do a fitness competition anytime soon (yes, I did compete in a body building competition as one of my past adventures).
Today I was finally able to get out to the family ‘island’ on Davie Lake – and my Uncle visiting from Vancouver Island was able to come too. My husband’s family owns some land out on the lake, so we are building our cabin on one of the sections. I haven’t been out to the spot in almost 3 years because I was either super pregnant, just given birth, or had just returned to work from maternity leave, so it was great to see all the hard work that has gone into clearing the land and building the structure. Keep in mind there is no road access to the Island, so everything from cement, to plywood, to roofing all has to be floated across on a barge. We did have a bit of a hiccup right at the start of the launch though….
The first launch of the year never seems to go smoothly, this year we all hopped in the boat and tried to turn the motor over only to hear a winding down rawr rawr rawwwrrrr . . . the battery somehow died overnight and now there are four of us in a boat floating away from shore. Thankfully we are prepared boaters and did have oars to paddle back to shore. After some checking of the connections it was determined that yes the battery was dead, and yes the jumper cables were too short to run from the truck to the battery in the boat.
My husband is an electrician though, so uninstalled the battery from his truck and jimmy-rigged up the sketchiest jumper connection ever. (we are in a metal boat, in the water and the battery is literally next to the gasoline tank). The jumper cables were not able to get a good connection to the terminals and he states that “this could go bad” while fiddling with something – and I know his workaround wasn’t the way a layperson should do things. At this point I had my back turned living in blissful ignorance of the potential boom, zap or arc. I tentatively turned the key and the motor purred to life. . . . and nothing exploded! Hurrah, our children still have parents.
The site needed a good tidy after the rush close up last year, thankfully we had a sort of burn barrel handy so all the cut off pieces and loads of leaves could get turned to ash. The tarps . . . so many tarps! . . . got folded up and I scoured the cabin floor and surrounding area for all the fallen nails, screws and other sharp metallic objects. Now that the site is all cleaned up, it is ready for more messes throughout the rest of the summer. To maximize building time this year my husband is going to spend at least 2 nights out there at a time, otherwise you loose so much time driving back and forth to town, as well as wasting time loading and unloading the boat. There is still much to do, but it is making leaps and bounds!
After letting the fire burn itself out it was time to come home, we would have stayed out longer but our tiny humans needed us. At this point Neil had too much sun making the couple of beers hit harder, so I drove the boat back! I had faith in my skills, but Neil has always been the captain, so this was my first practice run. I pretty much couldn’t see a thing because I am much shorter than all the guys, so could barely see around my father-in-law. However, I made it across, I did not ram the boat into shore, and I did not flood the boat with our back wake! Go me! Of course once we landed the guys needed to take the battery out and reinstall it into the truck, which was cute to watch. It is always a classic photo op when men gather around a vehicle engine.
Staycation – Woodhouse Cottages
There is a little treasure about 20 minutes away from Prince George called the Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch and they have an unique accommodation called the Bubble House. They also have three other cabins, but we went for the Bubble. The hospitality was spot on, and we were made to feel right at home the minute we got out of our truck. Maureen gave us the run down of the property about where we could stroll to stretch our legs, find outdoor games, some info on the swimming area, etc. Naturally she gave us the instructions about the bubble structure…..but more importantly she gave us Cinnamon Buns the size of our faces! Just as well we only had 1 each, I could easily have eaten every guest on the property’s cinnamon buns – A delicious and unexpected homecooked treat.
The bubble consists of an air lock where you remove your shoes, this area preserves the pressure in the domes. When you enter you step into the transparent bedroom bubble which is linked to the transparent living area bubble (which has the nice touch of a custom sign welcoming you by name), and ends with a opaque change room bubble. It was so neat to be outside…..but not….perfect for stargazing.
We were lucky that the rain had let up minutes before we arrived, so we were able to have warm bubbles without the heaters on (until bed anyway). The lack of rain also allowed us to explore the property with the friendliest dog. She was very happy to accompany us on our wander to meet the horses and just stretch our legs. Both Neil and I had done legs at the gym just before going out, so I think the walk actually helped us feel less sore.
Side note: another special touch was that Maureen left us carrots in the fridge so we could feed the horses a treat. If you missed my very first blog entry you won’t know that I am a horse fan – horses are literally a defining feature of who I am. So I was very happy to entice the big Percherons over.
After our walk we decided to cook our dinner on the BBQ. The bubble house has a private deck that it sits on, and it includes a gorgeous fire table, patio furniture, BBQ and all the comforts of home in terms of utensils, plates, paper towels etc. We actually had way more food than we thought because we wanted convivence – we had purchased two packages of marinated steaks at Save on Foods thinking that each package had one steak. Nope the packages had two steaks each and there was no way we were going to be able to eat 4 steaks after the snacks we had. Lucky for us there was also a mini fridge to store them until the next day.
While Neil cooked up the steaks I staked out the hummingbird feeder to get some shots of the little sassy birds. There were two birds of two different species and they were putting on quite the show chasing each other away from the feeder (and dive bombing me and my super bright jacket). Did you know hummingbirds sound like deranged little clowns? I had no idea what their chirping sounded like until yesterday. I was able to actually get some photos of them, but I haven’t had time to edit them up yet.
After dinner it was just the right time to catch the NHL hockey game (Battle Alberta) but the wi-fi was too weak where we were. I suggested we go have a fire at the communal fire pit by the swimming area, and we wound up spending at least 3 hrs there. No other guests came by, so we had a little private hockey viewing by firelight (and adorable light up trees). I was super happy that “my team” won – I put my team in quotation marks because I only watch hockey during the Stanley Cup playoffs, and then only if there is a Canadian team playing. I actually know diddlysquat about hockey.
After too many beers and wine (Northern Lights because it is our local winery) we were not quite ready for bed, so hung around the camp fire until 11ish then finished the night back up at our fire table playing Yahtzee – there are board games and a crib board provided – another nice touch.
At this point it was getting very chilly so we went into the bubble, turned on our heaters and fell soundly asleep on a very comfortable bed with the right number of layers to keep one comfortable.
We woke up to a down pour in the morning, but it was relaxing to listen to the rain fall off the bubble while we slept in – slept in being 8am because we are parents and our children never sleep in – We are a 7am household regardless of our preference of a later morning haha. Neil cooked us up the other two steaks, and then we headed back home after dawdling until 10am (check out is 11am).
I really enjoyed my time out there, and would recommend them to everyone. I feel rejuvenated after such a relaxing time! I look forward to going back sometime, but next year we have the Barkerville Cottages booked (for the whole family), and we will also be booking some cabins out near McBride just for Neil and myself. While we have small children we are taking the opportunity to explore close to home, and our little family is very fortunate to have extended family to watch the kids while we take off for a night or two for quality partner time.
Home for a Week – toys and a staycation
Ah, vacations are all well and good, but there is something special about coming home as well. Everyone fell back into routine quite well, and we finally had SUN! The little ones really enjoyed having more outside time, and we were able to bring out the water table. Cedric got so wet that he literally had water pouring out of his boots. Amelia enjoyed the outdoors by helping her grandparents plant their flowers, and I enjoyed it by lounging in the sun during their naps.
This last week has also been like Christmas – you know when you order online in the wee hours of the night and then kind of forget what you did, and wind up being equally surprised when a parcel arrives. That kind of Christmas.
For starters I am not sponsored in any way, everything I rave about is because I am literally just so impressed that I want to share….and if I can give you resources for deals than that is a bonus I am willing to give with no reward (but if you want to sponsor me I probably won’t say no haha)
I pitched the idea to the extended family that we should all contribute and order one of the giant play couches for the kids as a joint birthday present. I ordered in at the beginning of March but with shipping delays due to covid still making a muck of things it only arrived two days ago. It is positively better than I could have imagined. High quality foam with washable covers (thank goodness because my son is teething which means he pretty much exists as a giant saliva creature) that can be configured into many different structures. The little ones are o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d
We ordered from Kiico Play after researching a few companies. I chose them because they are a relatively small business in British Columbia and I try to support local. They do source out of China, but so do all the others.
As I mentioned in my last post I purchased a kinderfeets balance board for the children, and I loved the quality so much I purchased one of the rainbow arch sets from them too. It just arrived today, and it is so much more than a rainbow. We (more like I) spent quite a bit of time making different configurations and builds. My daughter quite enjoyed knocking down my creations….sigh….toddlers.
For those that do not know me, I used to be a teacher. While I was learning to be a teacher we were introduced to the Montessori teaching philosophy. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but I really feel their approach in early childhood is beneficial. Saying that, the balance board and rainbow arches are toys that follow the open play idea of Montessori.
** Hello husband, if you are reading this, I swear I don’t have a shopping problem, I was cleaning out the house and selling things on marketplace and as things sold I bought other things hahaha.
Ok little disclaimer out of the way!
Mastermind Toys was having a big birthday sale so I took advantage and bought these amazing Janod Stacking Stones. I am fairly frugal and love high quality toys, so often have trouble justifying full price – but a sale! YES!
Firstly they are beautiful to look at, and secondly they are delightful to touch. I can see why they are worth what they are. We’ve had fun stacking them into different towers, and using the balance board to make stacking more challenging.
Then there are the little stackable nesting stars that I also got on Vancouver Island. The box was damaged so they gave a massive discount. Who knew 5 nesting style stars could be so much fun. Amelia is constantly playing with them, or at least watching closely incase Cedric decided he may have wanted a turn. The toy store on the Island I recommended in the previous post is Buddies Toys and they have a section specifically for discounted damaged items. I am not too proud to buy something ‘damaged’ – most of the damage is completely superficial and the product is perfectly fine.