Monthly Archives: March 2015

Disney On Ice presents “PRINCESSES & HEROES”!

By Nanica Brown Photos: Nanica Brown 

IMG_0879Do you have a Disney lover in your family? Of course you do, maybe even multiple people which means when Disney on Ice is in town it’s a must see.

We – my six-year-old son, my three-year-old daughter and I – had the opportunity to see Disney on Ice March 18, 2015. I was a little nervous my son can be very anti-princess, likely because my daughter is the queen of princesses, so I wasn’t sure how he would react to a two hour homage of Princesses and Heroes.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that wouldn’t be a problem. He was rapt for the entire show and even complained when the lights came up at intermission. My daughter was enthralled to see all her favourite princesses. They sang along with most of the songs and clapped through the whole performance. One thing I did realize is that my children have never seen some of the older movies. (During the Beauty and the Beast number my son asked why the forks were on skates and he thought Lumiere was a paper towel tube)

IMG_0825Because the show is made up of pared down scenes from the movie it occasionally causes confusion. Some of the scenes are changed around, or come out of order. It’s really noticeable during Frozen where they change the sequence of lines. If you have watched it one million times like my family it really stands out that Olaf sunbathing comes before Elsa’s ‘Let it Go’.

It also means the heroes don’t always have a chance to show their mettle because there are hardly any villains. In my mind Maleficent and her fantastical dragon alter-ego really stole the show. It was definitely darker and between the glowing paint and actual fire on ice it was easily my most memorable part. And when Ursula came on, her over the top personality overshadowed the diminutive skater playing Ariel.

If you didn’t have the chance to see this show you won’t understand the sheer scale of the production. Between costumes, choreography, moving set pieces and the number of skaters – which you don’t see until all eight couples come out for the finale – Disney on Ice is a magical experience.

So did you see Disney on Ice Princesses Heroes? If so what was your favourite part?

Disney on Ice – Princesses and Heroes has wrapped its run in Calgary but here are five tips to get through the next show:

  • Get if they are available, or bring your child a booster seat. Inevitably you will end up seated behind a family of giants and you will spend two hours with your child wiggling around on your lap and knocking over your $7 water.
  • Pin up the front hem of your little princess’ costume. The stairs at the Corral are steep and many kids were stumbling over the hems of their dresses as they climbed the stairs, especially after the lights went out.
  • Bring glow sticks and other glittery items to wave around. Ice shows make their money on selling merchandise. If purchasing a $40 Elsa wand isn’t part of your budget plan ahead; take a glow stick (or seven) from the dollar store with you.
  • Treat it like a slumber party. If your child’s bedtime happens to be during the show – most evening shows start at 7p.m. – don’t be discouraged. Put your child in close fitting pajamas before they put on their costume. Then at the end of the night before you put him or her in their car seat strip them down and they are ready to go right to bed when you get home.
  • Make it Last. Find out which movies will be featured in Disney on Ice ahead of time and take the time to watch them before you go. You may have seen Anna and Elsa one million time but likely you haven’t watched some of them in ages.
  • BONUS TIP: Get there a bit early to get settled, get food and go to the bathroom. It becomes a lot harder to find your seat when the house lights go down.

Fun with the Easter Bunny

by Krista Conrad Photo: PhotoXpress.com

From finding eggs to eating them, Calgary has a lot of fun events to keep families entertained this Easter

Pg74-RinginSpring[1]Families looking for some Easter fun this spring are in luck: Calgary is brimming with Easter-themed events and egg hunts to keep children of all ages—and even Mom, Dad, and Rover—entertained. There is something in Calgary to suit every budget, family size, and age group.

Many Calgary neighbourhoods and community associations are hosting Easter egg hunts for their residents between March 21 and Easter Sunday, April 5. The dates and times vary for age group, so community members are encouraged to check out their association websites and newsletters for event information.

Easter Eggstravaganza at the Calgary Zoo
in partnership with Calgary’s Child Magazine
Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4
9am to 3pm
Cost: Regular Zoo Admission
Hop on down to the Zoo to celebrate Easter with your favourite animals. Participants receive chocolate treats and can take part in a number of activities: cookie decorating, chocolate-making, crafts and colouring, a photo booth, seed-planting, an Easter Bunny hop, and face painting. For more information or to pre-purchase tickets and avoid the admission line, visit www.calgaryzoo.com.

National Service Dogs Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs and Kids
Calaway Park
Friday, April 3
10am to noon
Cost: $25 per family
Bring your pooch (on a leash) and be ready to have some Easter fun! Registrants are provided with two egg cartons to collect up to 24 dog-treat-filled eggs hidden at Calaway Park. Those who collect pledges in advance are rewarded with extra egg cartons to find more eggs, depending on the amount raised. Funds raised go toward the National Service Dogs. For more information visit www.nsd.on.ca.

The Great Legendary Easter Egg Hunt
Butterfield Acres
Saturday, March 28; Sunday, March 29; Friday, April 3; Saturday, April 4
10am to 2pm
Cost: Children – $11.99 + GST, Adults – $13.99 + GST (tickets must be purchased in advance)
This annual Easter egg hunt begins with the telling of the Legend of the Easter Bunny in the Birthday Barn. The Easter Bunny will then send children off on a special hunt to search the farm for items he will magically turn into Easter eggs. Meanwhile, the children are set to the task of planting seeds that they get to take home at the end of the day, along with their treats from the Easter Bunny. This is a ticketed event, and spaces fill fast. Visit www.butterfieldacres.com for more info or to purchase tickets.

Easter Sunday in Kensington
Sunday, April 5th
This celebration will include a Bucci Easter egg hunt, an ATB Butterfiled Acres petting zoo and live music concert, and a TELUS screening of The Lego Movie with complementary popcorn and soda pop at The Plaza Theatre (113 Kensington Road NW).

12 Noon to 4pm – Participants pick up their Easter baskets at the Bucci office (306 10th Street NW, 2nd Floor) and participate in a chocolatey, fun-filled Easter egg hunt. Exciting clues will be handed out that will direct participants to the local Kensington shops to get Easter treats!

1pm – Come and meet the Easter-Bunny himself along with many of his adorable furry friends at the Butterfield Acres petting zoo on Kensington Road. Enjoy live music by The Sadlier-Brown Band and an Easter craft table!

2:30pm – Have your picture taken with special guest Emmet of The Lego Movie in The Plaza Theatre lobby.

3:30pm– Enjoy the complementary screening of The Lego Movie with free pop and popcorn at the Plaza Theatre! Get your free tickets at The Naked Leaf (#4 1126 Kensington Rd NW) on or after March 30th – first come first serve.

Heritage Park Easter Brunch
Sunday, April 5
9am to 2pm
Cost: Children – $21.95, Adults – $31.95, Age 2 and under – Free
Families are invited to drive right into the historical village and enjoy brunch in the historic Wainwright Hotel and take part in activities such as traditional Easter egg decorating. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Visit www.heritagepark.ca for more information.

The Great Big Easter Egg Hunt
New Victory Church
Sunday April 5
1pm
Cost: Toonie BBQ
Join the New Victory Church for Easter service at 10:30 a.m., followed by lunch and an Easter festival. The carnival includes an Easter egg hunt with thousands of eggs, a bouncy house, games, crafts, and face painting. Fun for all ages! For more information visit www.newvictory.ca.

Easter Egg Hunt
Foster’s Garden Chapel
Sunday, March 29
10am to noon
Cost: Free
Geared toward ages seven and under, the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Foster’s Garden Chapel provides traditional Easter baskets for children to fill with treats, and refreshments for moms and dads. No registration is required and the event begins promptly at 10 a.m. on a first-come-first-served basis. Call 403-297-0888 for more information.

 3rd Annual Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt
Dogma Training & Pet Services Inc.
Saturday, March 28
11am to 2pm
Cost: $49.95 per dog/family, or $24.95 for current members
This Easter-themed Scavenger Hunt will take you and the family pet around Calgary on a mission to complete tasks and earn points, while searching for Easter eggs filled with treats and special prizes. Dogs will compete to win over $1,800 worth of prizes. For information or to register, visit www.dogmatraining.com.

Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Palliser
Sunday, April 5
1 to 3pm
Cost: $35 per person, or $45 per person with a glass of Chandon sparkling wine
Families looking for something a little more classy can dress in their springtime best and treat everyone to a traditional afternoon tea at the Fairmont Palliser on Easter Sunday. Reservations are required. Call 403-260-1219 for more information or to book a table for your family.

Whether it’s Easter Sunday brunch, traditional Easter egg hunts, or events for your pets, Calgary has a lot to offer your family this Easter. With the beautiful spring weather we’re enjoying, scavenger hunts and Easter carnival events promise provide families with exciting opportunities to get outdoors and play with the Easter Bunny.

Krista is interning with Calgary’s Child Magazine through SAIT’s Journalism Program. 

Planning a Holiday Staycation

By Amy Williams Photo: Prairie View Trail, Courtesy of Tanya Koob

Pg10-BowValleyPark[1]Have you had the pleasure of riding in a towtruck? Our family spent a fascinating few hours crammed in a truck as we bounced across the countryside on our last family vacation. Right after we crossed the border, our trip deviated from our planned itinerary. Instead of the mountains, we were experiencing blinking engine lights and sputtering gaskets.

We soon found ourselves stranded in a strange town, without wheels or a plan. It resulted in a two-day layover that was filled with anxiety about car parts or when a new rental would be available. We were completely at the mercy of pure luck and the dealership.

After last year’s fiasco, our family has decided to forgo the endless hours of road-tripping and living out of suitcases. We had tempted and survived the vacation fates once too many and decided we weren’t up for that kind of adventure again.

Like countless other families, we have decided to enjoy a staycation this year.

A holiday at home

While our sore bums were the main reason for a staycation, here is a quick rundown of just a few of the benefits of choosing to vacation at home this year:

  • We won’t be unpacking and repacking suitcases. We will have access to our entire wardrobe without having to roll or scrunch everything into a 2×4 piece of burlap on wheels.
  • Our heads will rest on our own pillows, and there will be no surprise lumpy mattresses.
  • Our pets won’t need to be kenneled, and we can keep an eye on our house while we enjoy some quality time together.
  • Staying within a two-hour radius will cut down our costs on fuel and lodging. That means less time sitting in a car and more to splurge with – if we want to!
  • We will get to learn about our hometown and surrounding areas. We are taking this opportunity to foster a little local pride in our family and take the time to do the things we’ve always known about but never experienced firsthand.

Eight strategies to make the most of your staycation

Here are eight tips to enjoy your time and avoid any breakdowns:

  1. Take advantage of Groupons and local coupons for events, spas, eateries and concerts.
  2. Embrace nature. Go camping, take a hike, explore natural habitats. (see Explore Family-Friendly Bow Valley Provincial Park by Tanya Koob for some great ideas!)
  3. Wait for off-season discounts. Amusement parks, zoos and other venues might offer reduced admissions during the week or between school breaks.
  4. Plan your dinners in advance to save on cooking and costs. We are planning to eat out for most meals, but you can implement freezer cooking to keep you out of the kitchen.
  5. Load up your queue on Netflix and enjoy a quiet night in as a family.
  6. Avoid doing chores. The point of a staycation is to relax and connect with the family. If you need to clean, plan to complete it before your vacation starts.
  7. Stay at a local hotel, cabin or bed & breakfast if you want the luxury of not having to make beds. Keep an eye out for discounts during the week or special promotions.
  8. Unplug from your devices. Avoid work calls, emails, texting and social media too! Always check your caller ID and let it go to message.

Relaxing local

Staycations can be very fulfilling but like any vacations, they require a little planning. Our plan is to get to know the backroads and undiscovered spots in our neck of the woods. We hope to take in the local National parks, museums, zoos and eat at the newest restaurants we are always too busy to visit.

Properly thinking ahead and maximizing the local areas will hopefully put our family vacations back on track.

Amy is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be. You can follow her on @AmyKWilliams1, https://twitter.com/AmyKWilliams1

National Napping Day!

by Amy Lage  Photo: PhotoXpress.com

pg81-AskElizabeth[1]Today is one of my favorite holidays: National Napping Day! After losing an hour of sleep due to DST time, we are all probably in need. While you and I may celebrate this day with the rare indulgence, napping should be a daily occurrence for your little one. Here are 5 tips to ensure that your children are getting in the quality naps that they need.

  1. ‘When’ your child naps is much more important than you think!

The key to helping your baby achieve their best nap is having them nap at the correct time of day by following their biological clock. We all have internal clocks called circadian rhythms that make us feel drowsy at certain times of the day. It is easiest during these windows to fall asleep and they provide the most restorative sleep. As crazy as this sounds, a one-hour nap at the correct biological time is more restful than a two-hour nap that is not. The timing of these “sleep waves” changes as we age, but they are a constant for all children of the same age, varying only slightly from person to person. While it is sometimes daunting to follow a schedule, it will provide you the confidence to know exactly when your child will need to sleep and that he is getting the sleep that he needs. For more information on the appropriate timing of naps please see the WRB site.

  1. Different Naps Serve a Different Purpose

If your child is taking two naps a day, the morning and afternoon nap serve two different purposes. The morning nap is mentally restorative and the afternoon nap is physically restorative. Before you consider skipping one or the other, think about which part of your child’s development is worth jeopardizing!

  1. It Takes An Hour

In order for a nap to be effective, it must be an hour or more in duration. A nap under an hour isn’t long enough to be beneficial to your child’s body, so try to keep catnaps to a minimum. Additionally, if your child wakes up before an hour has passed, consider leaving him in his crib until the hour has elapsed.  This is a great way to teach self-soothing skills and lengthen a nap, and who knows – he may surprise you and fall back to sleep!

  1. Your Baby Needs to Nap in His Crib

Life would be much easier if we could tote our kids anywhere and expect that they will get the sleep they need, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Babies and toddlers will achieve their very best sleep at home in their bassinet, crib, or bed. This is for two reasons: 1. Sleeping at home in their own, darkened, quiet room free of distractions ensures that your child will have an easy time falling asleep and staying asleep. 2. Babies and toddlers have better quality, more restorative sleep when they are sleeping in a stationary location – like their own bed.  Vibrations or motion during sleep (think strollers and car seats) force the brain into a lighter sleep state and reduce the restorative power of the nap. It’s similar in comparison to the sleep that you get on an airplane: ok, but not really restful. An occasional nap on-the-go is fine, but most naps should be taken in your child’s bed.

  1. Don’t Give up On Naps Too Quickly

Before you decide your child doesn’t need to nap anymore, consider this stat: According to Dr. Weissbluth, a nationally renowned pediatrician and child sleep expert, at age 4 years, 57% of children are napping one nap/day about 5 naps/week. At age 3, 92% of children are still napping! And 80% of children who nap are napping between 1.5-2.5 hours. Napping is less influenced by genetics than parenting practices.

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 4 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook too more great sleep tips!

Tick Tock, Tick Tock – How to Reset Your Child’s Clock for Daylight Saving Time

P82_Sleep%20tight[1]by Amy Lage

Daylight saving time starts this coming Sunday, March 8th. We look forward to this day each year as it means spring is not far behind. The buds will soon be appearing on the arms of the tree branches and flower bulbs will soon be poking their way out of the cold soil. However, with all of this we turn our clocks forward and miss out on an hour of precious sleep. Fear not, while we do actually lose an hour of sleep that first night – this change is nothing to lose sleep over. It tends to be less problematic for most little ones than the end of Daylight Saving in the fall (and may even help parents of early risers finally establish a later wake time). Child sleep consultant and founder of Well Rested Baby, Amy Lage, shares some tips to get through the time change with minimal sleep loss:

  • If your child is generally adaptable to schedule changes or is taking only one nap or no naps a day, your best bet is to switch everything (wake-time, nap, bedtime, meals, etc.) to the new clock “cold turkey.” Note that you may have to rouse your child at his/her normal wake-time for a few days because of the loss of one hour of sleep. Exposing your child to light in the morning and continuing with all of your normal activities will help reinforce the new wake time.
  • If your child is napping multiple times during the day (or you are concerned that moving to the new time “cold turkey” will be too stressful for both of you), you can make the switch gradually over a few days by only making each nap and bedtime a half hour later. For example: if your normal schedule is Nap 1: 9am, Nap 2: 12pm, Nap 3: 3pm, bedtime 7pm, it will change to Nap 1: 9:30, Nap 2: 12:30, Nap 3: 3:30pm and bedtime 7:30pm.  After a day or two you can add the additional 30 minutes to bring your child all the way to he new clock time. This will help your child ease into the time change more smoothly.
  • Whichever way you choose to handle adjusting your child’s schedule, it is very important to stay consistent in your regular daily routine. For example, if you always have breakfast before Nap 1, lunch before Nap 2, snack before Nap 3, and dinner, bath and a book before Bedtime – make sure this is still your routine. These regular parts of your child’s day actually act as “cues” telling their brain that sleep is coming next.  Keeping them consistent will help their bodies adjust even more quickly.

Assist Your Child by Controlling Their Environment

  • As we are shifting our internal clocks to wake an hour earlier in the morning, exposing your child to natural light in the morning hours is key. Throw open all blinds upon waking and make sure to get out for some fresh air and natural light in the first half of the day. Still too cold to play outside, spending time in a sun drenched room will work too.
  • In the evening, we need to adjust our bodies to be ready for bed an hour. Keep your house dim in the hour or so leading up to bedtime – closing the blinds, shutting off any unnecessary lights and keeping the activity level in your home as calm as possible will ease your child into a sleepy frame of mind even if there is still daylight outside.
  • As the days grow longer and it stays brighter out well into the evening, it is crucial to ensure that your child’s room is as dark as possible so that it is conducive to sleep. One suggestion is to invest in room darkening or “blackout” curtains, which are readily available at many stores and online, and do a great job of keeping light out of little ones’ rooms. Amy shares, “My favorites are from Redi Shade, they are quick, easy, economical and block out light better than most pricey shades.”

No matter how you choose to handle DST, your well-rested child will easily adjust in a just a few days. Enjoy the extra hour of sunlight and have a happy spring!

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 4 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts.  Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions.  Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook & Twitter for more great sleep tips! 

photo:  PhotoXpress.com

The boy holds many books in handsHelping Kids Learn Their Family History

by Suzie Kolber Photo: PhotoXpress.com

A fun project for families is to study the family history. It is a project that parents can do with their kids, no matter how young they are. It makes an interesting learning experience and can even turn into a gift for a grandparent or other relative.

Be Visual
The first thing to do is to decide how you will organize the information you collect. Since most kids are visually focused, a family tree template can be helpful. This is a great way to organize names and dates for easy access and to keep things from getting confusing.

Choose a template that works for the age of the children you are working with. Young kids need a basic template that only contains basic information such as names. It can even be a good idea to select one that provides room for pictures. If you don’t have photos, you can have the kids draw pictures. This is an especially fun idea if the family tree will be given as a gift.

Choose a Starting Point
For the very young, you may want to stick with an actual tree as your template. Choose a three-generation wide or tall tree to keep things simple. You can decide if you want the child to be the beginning point and include his or her parents and grandparents or if you want to begin with a different generation. For the littlest kids, it is best to start with them to help them understand about genealogy. For kids that are slightly older, it is easy enough to begin with yourself or your parents.

As kids get older, they are able to do more research and can go back farther into their history. In this case, you may want to make the oldest generation the starting point. Write down a grandparent’s or great-grandparent’s name at the bottom of the tree. Have the child talk to the living relative and ask the person about their parents and grandparents. Write that information in on the family tree template.

For kids just getting started in genealogy, a three-generation family tree template is the ideal choice. It is easy enough to find that information without being too overwhelming. You can decide ahead of time how much information you will try to collect on each person before moving on.

Advanced Researchers
As your kids get older or learn more about researching family history, you can move onto more complex family trees. For instance, a four- or five-generation family tree may be a good choice. You may also want to continue with the three-generation template but branch out in a different area.

No matter which family tree template you choose, make sure it is visually pleasing for the kids to work with and easy to understand. Some kids will gravitate towards templates that look like actual trees while others may prefer a different format. The right template will make studying family history more fun and easier to understand for even the very young.

Suzie Kolber created http://obituarieshelp.org/free_printable_blank_family_tree.html to be the complete online resource for “do it yourself” genealogy projects.  The site offers the largest offering of <a href=”http://obituarieshelp.org/free_printable_blank_family_tree.html”>family trees</a> online. The site is a not for profit website dedicated to offering free resources for those that are trying to trace their family history.