Kent Fun Day: Carousels, Butterflies and Rainbows

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sounds divine, doesn't it?!

Today was our fourth Kent Family Fun Day. Even though we didn't make it to Puddicombe Farms last week, we decided to maintain the schedule and go to the planned destinations for today.

Port Dalhousie

We got away from home around 11-11:30 am. I had neglected to plan for bagged lunches, so we decided to hit a grocery store and get those Snack pack lunches the kids beg for every time we go grocery shopping. By the time we got to St. Catherines however, we decided it would probably be just as cheap/expensive to get lunch for them all at Subway which is where James and I had planned to pick up our own food.
Or probably NOT!

Oh well, lesson learned. It was yummy anyways.

So we took our lunch to Port Dalhousie and ate under a bird nest infested covered patio. Yeah, that was kinda gross, but there weren't any other picnic tables nearby and we found a spot the birds seemed to have boycotted. We'd just gotten the food divied up when I realized we'd forgotten the drinks I'd bought for James and I at the Subway. Fortunately it wasn't far, so James went back for them.

After lunch we headed across the field for the Carousel and bought our tickets which came to a grand total of 60 cents. Love that!

The kids had a ball at this and thoroughly enjoyed it. After a quick romp on the playpark next to the carousel, we got back in the van to head to....

The Butterfly Conservatory

This stop had been in my plan, but not on our poster, so the kids didn't really know about it. They impatiently made the drive asking that classic question "Are we there yet?", about 37 times.
I was a little disappointed at how many people there were; I'd hoped that going on a weekday would make it less busy. Pushing a bulky stroller through the paths didn't help. But the kids didn't really seem to notice; they were pretty amazed at all the butterflies flitting about. At first it was a little creepy really! They might be beautiful, but you know what? They're still BUGS! Jairus was downright scared and I had to talk him through it. After a few minutes he was fine.

We didn't stay terribly long because it was really warm in there (James was pouring sweat) and we did still have one more stop....

Niagara Falls

I prepped the kids on the drive to the falls about what exactly they were seeing with talk about the seven wonders of the world and how amazing it was that we could go see the falls. We were a little shocked at the parking: twice what we had budgeted at 20$, and it meant a bit of a walk which I was annoyed at. I knew that at about 5pm, the kids were getting tired and wouldn't take the walking. I was also annoyed that we had to follow signs saying pedestrians had to follow a certain walkway to get to the railings--which conveniently led right through a large souvenir shop. ( I hate souvenir shops with small kids!). But once we got within view of the falls I forgot all about my petty annoyances. What a great thing to see with your family!

Honour was suitably excited to learn that she had been on the Maid of the Mist when she was 1 year old (on a trip with Auntie Lauren and Auntie Tatum). They begged to go on any form of transportation they could see (boats, buses, trams, ferris wheels, etc) but we were already over budget for the day.

Afton woke up just long enough for us to get pics of her admiring the water and then we hit the road. I was very proud of myself that I didn't try to talk James into stopping somewhere for supper....nope, we got home and I whipped something up as planned.

Another successful Kent Fun Day!

Kent Family Fun Day: Discovery Centre and HMCS Haida

Friday, July 17, 2009

Today was Kent Family Fun Day #3, and again our plans were modified. I woke up this morning to hear the rain pouring down onto the veranda outside our window. Puddicombe Farms in the rain did not appeal, so we decided to backtrack and visit our choice for last Friday's outing, the Parks Canada Discovery Centre down on the waterfront here in Hamilton. This is a part of Hamilton I've not really seen much's quite nice!

We started the day out however with a trip to Ikea to purchase some new dishes. I've been becoming increasingly concerned with the safety of our use of the plastic Walmart dishes I bought probably 5+ years ago. Ikea was having a sale on a set of plain chinaware and their sets of small glasses are quite inexpensive so for about 20$, we replaced all the the plastic. The kids were especially pleased about the change when we couched it in terms of them being 'old enough' now to use glass and ceramic dishes.

They were also thrilled to play in the ballroom there at Ikea....although I was not as thrilled as I thought I would be. I was trying to explain it to James: you'd think as a mom I'd be excited to shop at a place that offers to take care of my kids for free in a fun, safe environment. But there's just something about the staff there that rubs me the wrong way. James pointed out that they have alot of liability to consider. This is true, but how sad is it that the concept of liability causes the employees of a company to have to be so...cranky. I think it's just that they have to 'pete and repeat' the same stuff so often that they lose perspective on how to be tactful about it.

For instance, when we arrived and started to sign in, my kids were already getting their sandals off and socks on (the sock rule being one that I learned the hard way yesterday when Jairus and I went out to scope out the dishes) when the chick at the desk realizes that she's only got 2 slots left. It would be 20 minutes until there would be room for my three. So I agree to wait, but when I break the news to them, Verity is quite upset. They give me a pager to let me know when to come back and I hand it to her (it's got a lanyard attached to it) to placate her with the idea of getting to hold it and be the first to know when they can go back. The desk worker quite bluntly tells me that I need to hold onto it because "it's quite expensive" and she might drop it or lose it. I felt like a 10 year old.

And just the way they word the sign telling you that there's a 45 minute limit when it's busy. It doesn't ask nicely that you only leave your kids for 45 minutes when it's busy. It doesn't plainly ask or even state that the rules are that you only leave your kids for 45 minutes when it's busy. It tells you, yea orders you to only leave your kids for 45 minutes when it's busy. It irked me just to read that sign. At least now I can say that Jairus is toilet trained (they don't need to know that he has accidents, all kids do, right?). It downright angered me that they don't allow kids with pull-ups in the ballroom with no caveat for someone like Jairus. I've only let the kids in that playroom once before and it was quite a while ago. Back then I just let Jairus go in and didn't even tell them he was in pull-ups. They didn't suspect a kid his age so we didn't have any trouble, and let me tell you how ready I was to raise up a stink about discrimination towards a special needs child if they dared to.

Anyway, that's my gripe. Back to Kent Fun Day.

After we did our shopping, the kids talked James into staying for lunch at Ikea, so we then went straight to the Discovery Centre. I realized that I didn't have my camera so I had to make due with my cell phone. Some pics are not bad, but lots are kinda crappy....sorry! They'll do for the scrapbook, which we picked up tonight along with prints of the Storybook Garden pics. Can't wait to get started!

Though not in the plan, I should have known that if we were so close to the Haida, James would want to go see it. So for another 5$ added onto the Discovery Centre fee, we went over afterwards and romped around the old battleship.

Kent Family Summer of Fun: Week 2

Monday, July 13, 2009

So this past week brought more fun than we had originally planned.

As you can see from our calendar, this week we were supposed to visit the Discovery Centre. A number of weeks ago, James told me that he had to do a job in Parry Sound and that we could all come with him and visit Ryan and Jenn. This sounded great to me!

The trip was scheduled for this past Tuesday through Thursday. We had already made plans to visit Tim and Rhonda in Barrie for Saturday....and it didn't make sense to drive all the way back to Hamilton for Friday's Fun Day and back to Barrie on Saturday. So we adjusted the plan and made use of our Ontario Fun Pass which had a free admission coupon for Discovery Harbour in Penetanguishine.

Little did the kids know until Tuesday morning, that this was going to be Kent Fun Week!

We got into Parry Sound just after lunch on Tuesday and went to Ryan and Jenn's first. Jenn had gotten the afternoon off. Ryan and James headed over to the job and worked until supper. We were treated to an excellent dinner that evening of BBQ pork loin, corn on the cob and seasoned baked potato.

After ice cream cones for dessert (do they know their nieces and nephew or what!) we went to the hotel (the kids were over the moon about this). The Georgian Inn and Suites didn't look nearly as nice as the photos, but there was a separate room for the kids (with a TV!! They were thrilled!) which I would not truly realize how great that was until our next hotel in Midland.

We passed Wednesday with a trip to the SA thrift shop to pick up a belt for myself and a few things for the kids to round out the debit minimum (hate that), a good long play at a nearby playpark, and an afternoon swim with Auntie Jenn at the hotel pool. It turned out that we were the first to use the pool after it's closure and renovation. In our attempt to keep to the budget on this trip, we brought a cooler and made sure both out hotels had fridges to keep enough food for lunches and suppers: breakfasts were provided by both hotels. I just love that our kids are young enough to find eating cereal from teeny-tiny boxes in disposable bowls with plastic spoons, in a hotel foyer, exciting!

After supper in our hotel room, we went back over the Ryan and Jenns and took a walk down around the water with Jenn's family who had arrived that afternoon. The day ended pleasantly with yummy pie on their deck.

Thursday was check out day with unexpected bonus free time for James as he finished his job a little early. He took the kids for a swim in the pool while I packed up and we requested a late check out so that we could put together lunch from our supplies while still in the hotel.

**Tip: Picassa seems to be a little erratic with the slide show timing, so you might just want to click it forward yourself. Also, some captions don't show up unless you mouse over the picture.

A little after 1pm we hit the road and got to Midland about 2. We were staying in a brand new, VERY nice Super 8 motel and they were nice enough to let us check in early. It was a relief that we didn't have to try and get into our bathing suits in the van.

After loading stuff into the room, we got ready for the beach. 10 minutes down the road (pretty much exactly, Honour had me counting down) was a nice waterfront called Balm Beach. Again, kiddies were thrilled to bits and we spent a nice afternoon making sand castles and waterslides and venturing out into the very cold water only a bit.

Another highlight was a special dinner out. Since we took care of James meals, he was able to use his work food budget to take us all out instead. We went to Boston pizza and ate out on the patio. Very yummy!

We had picked up a brochure from the hotel about Discovery Harbour. In the same brochure was information about Sainte Marie among the Hurons. I'd known about this place but hadn't been particularly interested because it was a historic location, which I've mentioned we were skirting this summer because of the kids' ages. However, after looking at the brochure, we decided that Sainte Marie actually looked more interesting than Discovery Harbour so we opted to change the plan again. The beauty of never quite telling your kids what you're up to.

After a yummy breakfast in Super 8's very nice breakfast cafe (make your own waffles!), James took the kids swimming yet again, and I headed downtown to pick up some groceries and hit the scrapbook store. Midland has these wonderful murals all over the place and Afton and I walked down one side of the street right down to the waterfront and back up the other, snapping pics of all we could find.

Then we rustled up some lunch at the hotel, with gratitude for another late checkout, and left just after noon for Sainte Marie.

I was really pleased with how the kids enjoyed it. A couple times Verity started wailing that 'she wanted to go home', but for the most part, they were enthusiastic and interested in everything. They made their own dipping candles, wrote with feather quills and made little clay charms which will likely stay hidden....I rely on far stronger means for keeping evil spirits away from my kids, thanks much.

After a long but good afternoon at Sainte Marie, we headed south once more for Barrie, and James brother and SIL's house. James' parents were there that evening so we got some visiting in with them. Saturday had us taking in cousin Elijah playing baseball with his Rep team, a lazy afternoon playing in the sprinkler and on the neighbours trampoline and a witnessing a wicked storm/mini hurricane around supper. We ended up staying one more night in Barrie to get a chance to actually visit with Tim and Rhonda without 8 kids racing around.

Finally, Sunday was headin' home day...which was nice after such a whirlwind week.

The girls are right now enjoying a "Flower Camp" that a homeschooling friend is hosting....another event that I sprung at them just last night. I'm hoping my friend will document with pics that I can nab off her.

Hope you're enjoying some Family Fun this summer too!

Kent Family Fun Day: Storybook Gardens

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We had a great day today at Storybook Gardens. My parents took Ryan and I here when I was a little kid and I remember with vague snapshots in my head. I plan to scrapbook all the pictures we took between now and our next Kent Family Fun Day so that perhaps it won't be a vague memory for my kids.

Kent Family Summer of Fun!!

OK, so I'm not blogging again.

I've thought about it alot.....I may post a few things, but I don't think I could keep up with actually posting beyond the summer. I do feel like I have a bit more time right now, what with MountainKids, choirs (HCC and Strings Etc!) and homeschooling on hiatus.

So this is what our summer is looking like!!

I wanted to post an imbedded calendar that you could click on the links and go right to the site of what we're doing, but it would seem that neither Google nor Yahoo are capable of this. (Leave a comment if you know of one!) So here is a list of links to what we're doing this summer. We decided that instead of taking one or two weeks as a chunk, James would take his holidays one day per week, and that day would be Kent Family Fun Day! (KFFD on the calendar). Today was our first day (I'll post a Picasa show of the pics above!).

I also wanted to say that I got this idea from the Cheapskate lady, Mary Hunt. I looked specifically for activities that my kids would enjoy (not too many historical places, as they really wouldn't appreciate them yet) and things that weren't too expensive (so, Canada's Wonderland and even Ontario Place were out....another summer perhaps). I also got some Ontario Fun Passes sent out (learned of this through my homeschooling group) which has given us some good coupons. Perhaps later I'll post some of the budget I worked out so you can see what this whole summer is costing. Today's trip specifically I got a 10$ coupon just by signing up for their newsletter. Cool!