Jenn

Aug 262016
 
ice age

photos fournies par la production

I realized, after making plans to see Ice Age on Ice at the Bell Centre, that I hadn’t ever even seen the Ice Age movies. My kids, however, seem to be very familiar with them. According to 5yo Babe, the Ice Age on Ice production is original, and not a live, on-ice enactment of the movie (which was the case for Frozen on Ice). But as I poke around the Internet a little, I think it’s possible my kids have only seen the sequel, and the show is based on the first Ice Age movie. I will have to do some deeper digging, probably on Netflix…  Like last time, at Disney on Ice, we brought one of our very good friends and babysitters, Tatiana, who also happens to be a figure skater.

Here’s what we got from a super fun night out last night.

iceage3It is the story of a volcano that begins to wake up, threatening to destroy the home of the Ice Age herd. Remembering a lullaby from years ago, Sid the sloth and friends embark on a journey to find the magical Froozleberry, whose juice freezes what it touches. They hunt for the berry, planning to throw it into the mouth of the volcano and save their home. (Is this familiar to you?)

Tatiana and I were delighted by the music, it’s especially enchanting in the snowy scenes. The enchanted forest, vivid colours, was beautiful. They brought in some circusy elements that reminded me a little of the last Cirque show I saw— ice dancers suspended in the sky.

The cutest, funniest act for me, was the acorn scene. Undoubtedly the best day of Skratch’s life. It’s this scene that Papa heard most about at the breakfast table this morning.

As I was looking around the Bell Centre, quietly remarking that my kids had never been to an NHL game, a hockey game broke out between athe Ice Age herd and the foxes. Another highlight!

ice age1

photos fournies par la production

At 5.5, Babe was the perfect age for this show. Bug, who is 3, sat through it and was pretty fixated. He was thrilled to realize that there were people inside costumes on the ice. That was his focus. There are TWO people inside the mamoth costume. He also clapped along to some of the catchier tunes. At three, or younger, I think it depends on you child’s personality and attention span. Can he or she sit through a movie?

By the time the show was over, I had two very tired, but very happy kids on my hands. Bug fell asleep on my back on the metro ride home, and Babe was KOed the second her teeth were clean. The next morning, recounting again and again, the evening to Papa who had been at work, Babe’s conclusion was that the herd found the Froozleberry for nothin’. It was a waste of time. (You see, in the end, Manny’s lemur brother’s ate the berry and did not freeze to death.) They found another brilliant solution to extinguishing the volcano, however. But I won’t spoil every single detail. But I love when she says these intense blanket statements because it’s such a good opportunity to talk. Of course the journey wasn’t a waste of time! The herd learned so much about eachother and themselves. they made a new friend.

It’s about the journey, not the destination. She stared at me when I threw this quote at her. But I know that look. It’s the look of my little guru, who got exactly what I was saying.

There’s another show tonight (Friday) and three performances on saturday. You can get tickets here.

 

Aug 232016
 

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But the days still seem the same

-David Bowie

 

 Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License


Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Next week, Babe starts kindergarten.

It’s not as though it will be her fist time away from me, she’s been babysat many times and going to daycare for a long while. But somehow, this is different. Her new big girl school is not in the neighbourhood. It’s so far that she and Papa will be taking the metro to get there. I’ll continue to drive Bug to his daycare which is slightly closer.

Babe will be at a big girl school. Bug will spend the days without his sister for the first time in his life.

Changes.

Already the leaves are changing.

September is coming so fast and I’ve had so much to prepare, with a blessedly busy work schedule, and just getting back from vacation, that I haven’t had much of a chance to process this. So it will come out, as it does, on the yoga mat. It will come out, as it does, in the classes I teach this week.

And the thing is, it doesn’t matter if you have kids or not. It doesn’t matter if your single. It don’t matter if you’re black or white (Thanks, MJ). Change is universal and it is constant.

And stress, is our inability to adapt to change.

Sometimes change happens way faster than we want it to. Sometimes you wake up and you don’t recognize yourself or your life. Sometimes we get hit with a surprise or tragedy. What can we do to cope? We can breathe.

We

Can

Slow

The

Breath.

We can watch the breath. We can be curious about it and about the changes it brings to our feelings of tension. Watch how it allows us to relax. To release. To embrace and accept. It’s not possible to panic when we’re breathing properly.

If you get to a yoga class this week, notice the more subtle changes as they’re happening.  The breath, yes, so much about the breath. How does the quality of the breath change? Does it change on its own or with your effort. What changes in the body? Where does tension land? What changes are present in our mental state? What are the effects of a particular posture on the body, breath, emotions, thoughts…

One of the most obvious times we can witness change is in pregnancy. Our bodies are changing before our eyes. Hormones, emotions, sleep.

Another obvious time is once the baby is born. A new person lives in our house. A new person is depending on us to survive.

And that baby, that baby changes in the first year, faster than we can believe.

And before we know it, that baby is headed to kindergarten!

I’m not scared. I don’t think Babe is. What I am, is curious. To see how we all settle into this new rhythm. Just in time for something else to change!

 

Aug 212016
 

IMG_3584 The sand is not red, but this beach is still magical.

The last day of our trip was spent at Greenwich, and it was a highlight for all of us. We were fortunate to meet up with friends who know the island like the back of their hands. If it wasn’t for them, we’d have missed the best part of this place. I’m going to explain it so you don’t miss it either!

We arrived to the area and went to the first indication for Greenwich Beach. There is a newly constructed boardwalk brings you to the beach. But first, a trip to the composting toilet. It’s very rare to see this kind of thing and it made me so, so happy. I don’t fully understand the system, any composting toilets I’ve used have needed the user to put sawdust in afterward, but this system seems more mechanical. Anyway, it was very cool.

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Our merman

Like Basin Head, Greenwich Beach is supervised and has soft, white sand and lots of waves. It’s part of the Prince Edward Island National Park, which also includes Cavendish and Brackley beach complexes.

I didn’t know that Greenwich Beach and the Greenwich Dunes trail are separate. Close by, but separate. It’s the latter that we’d have missed if it wasn’t for my friend, Robyn. To access the hiking trails, you’ll want to drive to the Greenwich Interpretation Centre. There is a charge to enter this part of the trail and beach, but it’s totally worth it. It’s part of your PEI National Park pass. You can just pay to enter the park for the day (it cost us about $15), pick up a 7-Day pass, which also gets you into Green Gables Heritage Place, a season pass (Pro Tip from Robyn: “For anyone planning way ahead, in the spring a family pass for the parks that is good for the whole summer goes on sale for 50$, which is a pretty good price if you plan to go to the beach more than 2 times”, or a year-long Discovery Pass, which allows you unlimited access all year to parks, museums, historic sites and marine conservation areas across the country.

IMG_3591

Walking over Bowley Pond

There are a few hiking trails here. We did one of the longer ones, which was 4.8km, return. There’s a bit of everything on this walk– forest, a floating boardwalk over Bowley Pond towards the beautiful, magical Greenwich Dunes. You eventually end up at the beach (the same beach we visited at the start of the day).

A few considerations for parents:

The Greenwich Dune and Tlaqatik trails are “moderate,” not “easy.” The Greenwich one is quite easy, but with kids, it’s way longer than you’d think.

So, you want to bring the bare minimum with you. Probably not chairs and the umbrella if you’re planning on staying at the beach.

There is nowhere to get water on the entire hike, and the only water on the beach is salty ocean water. It can get very, very hot on this long walk in the summer. Please bring lots of water and snacks. Hats, too.

bug This is the first trip we’ve ever taken without a baby carrier. True, we no longer have babies, but we carried the kids on our backs or shoulders for a good part of the time, which is way harder than if we’d had the Chimparoo or Ergo. A stroller would be okay for most of the way, but maybe something like a City Mini that folds up easily and is light, because there’s a little incline just before you get to the stairs for the beach.

There are waves at the beach, as well as rip currents. Again, it’s a supervised beach and the currents are marked to their best ability, but it’s not the place I’d let my really young kids wander around alone. Morrison’s Beach was perfect for that.

bug2The dunes here, truly are majestic. I felt like I was back in Scotland. These dunes exist because sand from the beach is blown inland, and blades of marram grass trap the sand, creating the dunes. I saw a couple teenaged girls off the paths, which is a really great way to destroy this beautiful area. I was going to give them a hard time, but we decided to bury Papa in the sand.

If there’s one beach to make sure you get to in PEI, it’s this one.

 

Aug 212016
 

IMG_3576Once we’d decided to take our vacation out this way, I tried my best to introduce Anne of Green Gables to my kids. A friend gave us the French version of the Emily of New Moon books and admittedly, I couldn’t read the first few pages with any sort of ease. Another friend lent us the English Anne of Green Gables series and I’m a bit embarrassed to say they were no easier to get through. Babe had no idea what was going on and I’m not sure I did either. We’ll have to try again when we’re both a bit older.

YouTube didn’t have anything to watch. Then I discovered there were a couple of musicals about Anne that regularly run in Charlottetown. We didn’t make time for Anne & Gilbert, but Babe and I were blessed with a pair of tickets for Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, which everyone I know who’s seen it, has raved about. It did not disappoint.

It was a very special night, for Babe and I to spent time alone together. The boys went to Victoria Park, where Bug was free as a bird in the forest, on the play structures and the boardwalk. Babe and I went inside and got a raspberry cordial with two straws. What a treat.

anne2

photo by Louise Vessey

I felt like everything about the Anne musical was just perfect. Anne, played by PEI’s Jessica Gallant was absolutely charming. Matthew, played by Hank Stinson, was incredibly endearing. It’s possible I developed a crush on Glibert (Aaron Hastelow). The entire cast was phenomenal, but they were my personal faves.

The music, acting, dancing–everything was just flawless. No wonder Anne wins the Guinness World Record for longest running annual musical theatre production. Is it clear that we loved it?

Thanks to this musical, I finally get Anne. I imagine this musical, in its 52nd season, is pretty solid year after year, but I have a feeling there is something very special about this particular actor. I just feel like she is Anne Shirley.

I did spend some time explaining things to Babe. At five, there was so much she didn’t understand– as wholesome as this musical is. The scene where Diana (Katie Kerr) accidentally gets drunk, was lost on her. I guess that scores me points as a mom. She hadn’t ever really heard the term “orphan” either, which comes up often enough in this story.

The beginning of the story was very confusing for my kid. Even though Anne is a girl, why can’t she work on the farm? I asked myself the same thing and told her it was a different time, and they used to believe women couldn’t do hard jobs. She stared at me, wide-eyed. As Diana sings, “I had a taste of high-life in Charlottetown, they have electric lights that never burn down!”

We had lots of interesting conversations on the subject for the days following. Yes, there existed a world with no lights.

anne

photo by Louise Vessey

Some parts of the play were very familiar to me. I’m not sure when I read the Anne books, or maybe watched a movie or show, but the part in the play when she dyes her hair green was already a vivid memory for me. Incidentally, it was Babe’s favourite scene. She didn’t get that in Anne’s time green hair was not cool, but still thought she looked very funny. The egg race and the ice cream scene were also very entertaining. She had a gorgeous, engaged smile on her face the entire two hours.

My fascination with Ayurveda allows me to appreciate red-headed Anne’s fiery temper. And somewhat relate. Perhaps one of the most touching scenes for me was when Matthew teaches Anne the importance of humility. I’ve been in situations where I’ve regrettably lost my temper. I have thoughts of apologizing to the people I lost my patience with, even though I don’t feel I did anything wrong. When I saw the way Anne did it, after a pep talk from her adoptive father, I got lost in my own reverie. What would my over-exaggerated, melodramatic apology look like? For the moment, I’ll leave the humble pie to Anne and Matthew.

In the days after the musical I noticed Babe’s gestures were more and more pronounced. She gave me a gigantic curtsy. I laughed. She blushed.

There are numerous Anne of Green Gables shows and events in PEI. I’m glad this is the one we attended. The ending, however, left me very curious to follow up on what exactly happened between Anne and Gilbert. Maybe next year…

 

Aug 212016
 
IMG_3562

Who needs a swimsuit in the rain?

The rain started to sputter as our boat tour in Souris ended. But it was warm and the day was young. We were very close to the famous Basin Head provincial park, so we headed to it. We had the intention of walking around on the beach, but the second Bug saw sand, he took off his rubberboots. Then his rain jacket. He was in undies and a hoodie as we made it back to the car.

Basin Head is a big, beautiful beach with white sand. It is supervised, there are bathrooms, and a place to buy food. In my opinion, it’s way less exotic than the red sand beaches further south, but it’s a good beach to swim at. Also known as the Singing Sands, I loved the pretty, polished pebbles, white seaweed and purple jelly fish that had washed up on shore.

The provincial park is a place to spend the entire day. Unless it starts to pour rain and you didn’t bring your suimsuits. Although that’s some peoples’ beat. On a nice day, it’s the perfect place to just hang out.

We also spent a little while in the Fishing Museum. I found it old kind of boring. But the kids left super inspired to make their own dioramas of fishing villages. They recently started a by-donation Eco-tour here that would have been amazing to take if the timing had worked out.

IMG_3555

East Souris Lighthouse

Before driving into Charlottetown where Babe and I would see Anne of Green Gables, the Musical, we went to the Souris East Lighthouse, which we’d been able to see from Captain Jeff’s boat tour. There’s a fee to get in (there’s a fee to visit pretty much every attraction no matter how small on the island). It worked out that Bug was thrilled just playing in the sandbox, so Babe and I went in the impressive, three story lighthouse.

We were thrilled to see the sea glass exhibit on the second floor. They had a nice collection of glass from all over the place, as well as jars of sand. Who knew sand came in so many textures and colours? Sea glass was a new discovery for me. I collected it through the whole trip and at this exhibit, there was a little sandbox and whatever glass Babe found in it, she was able to keep. Beach combing is, apparently, our favourite family activity. I pick up glass and shells while Papa and the kids like to catch live hermit crabs and clams. Eek!

Aug 212016
 

IMG_3534 When we stopped in at the Cavendish visitor’s centre to collect a couple maps and pamphlets, I asked about whale watching on the island, something we’ve been wanting to do as a family for a long time, and was told there’s really only one guy that does it. He wrote down the name Capitan Jeff and a phone number.

I called Capitain Jeff, and by the time we hung up, I couldn’t wait to meet him. I’m not exactly comfortable on the water, but knew with all of his experience as a captain and coastguard, we’d all be in good hands. He is an active member of the Canadian Coast Guard in the role of Quarter Master for the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, as well as a valid first responder with CPR, marine and first aid training.

IMG_3553

I think he thought he was a shark

My family decided we wouldn’t set an alarm for this entire vacation but we were all happy to break the deal to make it to meet Captain Jeff at PEI Tuna Charters in North Lake, Souris, PE. On the hour-long car trip we guessed what The Captain looked like. We all agreed he had a big beard and disagreed about the colour. Turns out he’s clean-shaven!

Because of the early rise, we had two very tired and cranky kids on our hands. But we  made the most of the very cool 3-hour trip, as you do.

It was a calm, overcast day. Kevin, Jeff’s mate, said it usually wasn’t this calm. I was very glad for the weather. It got wavier later on and I felt anxious. I don’t know if it’s just my particular kids, or all five and three (especially three) year olds, but as a brother/sister duo, my kids were a little too young for this kind of trip. Most of my attention was on making sure they didn’t carelessly launch their own wiggly little bodies overboard.

The trip was divided into three sections. First we scopes out the seals– we saw quite a few. Then we happened upon a few porpoises. On porpoise! We learned dolphins are quite a bit bigger. I’d have assumed the animals we saw were dolphins if Jeff and Kevin didn’t set things straight.

We then spent some time searching for whales. No dice, so the third part of the trip, the deep sea fishing started. I didn’t realize this was going to happen, though I should have had a hint from the business’ name. If I knew if have prepared them the night before. My kids, often on the same team were very divided at this point.

IMG_3552

They caught a couple fish in no time

“I want a thing to fish with!” Yelled Bug. He was overjoyed, as he and Papa caught two herrings. He was so proud, and my city boy learned the term “Fishing Rod.” In some way I was also proud of my husband. I was also glad Bug didn’t drop the rod. I have memories of doing this with my own father’s expensive fishing rod as a young girl.

And Babe? Babe completely lost her shit. She was totally devastated, not unlike her vegetarian mother. I was uncomfortable during the entire process. I was able, however, to not scream and cry while it was happening. Babe, bless her tender heart, reminded my of myself when, at a grade 8 outdoor camping trip, one of the teachers killed a pet shop bunny rabbit in front of us. He held it by the hind legs and smashed the life out of it against a tree. I screamed bloody murder as the majority of my classmates watched like no big deal. Maybe it’s not the time to recount it to Babe.

Some people, like Papa, let their fish go right away. Others saved them to throw to the ganets later. A few people brought fish home. I was very impressed at the way the Captain cleaned the fish right there as he talked about random stuff with passengers.

IMG_3542Then came the moment many of us had secretly been waiting for. A whale! It’s beauty was enough to get Babe mostly out of her funk. Nearly the length of the boat, we had a great time watching the minke whale come up for air. Divided again here, Bug was enthralled with the toggles on my hoodie.

It’s not the first time I’ve been whale watching and it won’t be my last. There’s something really special that happens when a group sees a whale. They point and smile, laugh and cry out. They ask the stranger beside them if they saw. It’s a moment when we can all connect. With each other, and realize there really is something bigger than us. For some it’s God. Others, a beautiful whale.

Aug 212016
 

IMG_3463We had two weeks booked off work and no solid plans. Everyone I spoke to said, “Have you been to PEI?” I hadn’t, and no time like the present!

Both kids hated the car for a very  long time. They screamed and cried driving around the block– we’d never have been able to take a 12+ hour car trip a couple years ago. We weren’t quite sure how the drive was going to pan out but it couldn’t have gone better.

We spent the first few nights in New Brunswick, about halfway between PEI and Montreal. The same people who urged us to go to PEI were shocked to learn we’d decided to stay near Edmunston on the way in. What were we thinking? It was pretty much exactly half way between home and the cottage we rented in Georgetown. And you know what? It was pretty much perfect.

IMG_3441 We stayed in the country in Drummond, near Grand Falls, in a really sweet air bnb run by a couple called Sam and Michelle that the kids tried adopting. Their loft was just big enough for the four of us, and they allowed the kids to play outside on their huge, beautiful property on the board of a stream. You’ve never seen more flowers outside of the government-run botanical gardens.

We took day trips from Drummond.

On the first day, we visited Grand Falls. Something about gigantic falls makes me uneasy (Niagara Falls is kind of my nightmare) but the falls were nonetheless impressive. We had a picnic lunch and watched some crazy kids zipline across Grand Salut.

IMG_3434After lunch, it was an impromptu trip to the Sabian cymbal factory in Meductic. Papa geeked right out. The place does tours, but you need to phone ahead. You can watch ovens melt metal. There are enough pieces of metal flying around that I’m not sure I’d want to bring the kids down, but we were all enthralled as we watched from the window upstairs. It’s the first thing we did on out vacation and I wasn’t sure we’d be able to top it for Papa. My husband is a professional drummer, and aside from the kids, music is his number one. However, I think this factory is as interesting as an episode of “How it’s Made,” even for non-musicians. I thought it was very cool.

IMG_3468Our second full day in New Brunswick was spend in Edmunston at the Botanical Gardens. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and the better part of it was spent here. There is a small indoor area where butterflies are free to fly. We’re admittedly a little “gâtée” with Montreal’s gardens, but the whole family was more than pleased with the New Brunswick Botanical Gardens.

I had two favourite places– first, the Herboriste section– in the garden, myriad of colourful healing plants. It was a moment when I realized how much I actually know about the subject. Smelling the plants, the kids knew which was peppermint, rosemary, thyme etc. Inside the building we were served fresh pink herbal tea and hot to peruse the collection of medicines harvested from the garden. Babe discovered Lamb’s Ear, which has become her new favourite thing in life.

IMG_3478The second thing I loved most about these gardens was Khronos installation. An amazingly thought out  stone circle. Stand in the centre and walk in the direction of any of the carvings in front of you. If you were to continue walking in a straight line, you’d eventually end up at England’s Stone Henge, Peru’s Nazca lines, or one of many others.

The kids admittedly found this part boring, so right after, we went to the park inside the gardens. Then we discovered a swimming pool just beside and hung out there til their skin was wrinkled and their lips were blue.

If we’d had more time we would probably gone to King’s Landing, which looks a little like Upper Canada Villiage. There’s also a tour of a potato chip factory nearby, but after watching cymbals get made, it was a tough sell.

 

Aug 212016
 

PEIVacations feel like a time warp, don’t they? We seemed to have all the time in the world ahead of us, and we woke up and it was over.

Before leaving for our 10-day trip to PEI, I came across this post about the difference between taking a trip and a vacation, largely depending on whether you’re going with kids or not. I will tell you now, this was a trip, not a vacation. There were some very, very difficult moments travelling with 5yo Babe and 3yo Bug. Especially in restaurants and markets. Thankfully there were also some good ones.

The kids were golden on the 15-hour drive, broken up over two days. We brought a new box of crayons, lots of colouring books, Babe learned how to make friendship bracelets and Bug had plasticine. We brought their favourite music (Tom Petty and Rush for Babe and Bob Marley and Rhianna for Bug) and we also finally got a DVD player for the car. I recommend all of the above for long car rides with kids.

I kept myself entertained by hand sewing a foot-long mermaid doll for Babe and writing blog posts. I had time to kill. We rented a cottage in Georgetown, which overlooks a calm, beautiful red sand beach.

We did our fair share of sight-seeing but skipped a lot of the things I was hoping to do, mostly because of rain. Overall, our best days were spent at the beach. And if there’s a reason to go to PEI, it’s the beaches. And maybe fish and chips, potatoes and Anne of Green Gables…

I’ll be sharing with you over the next few blog posts some stories of our family trip to Prince Edward Island. Including the beautiful beaches of Basin Head (Singing Sands), Greenwich Dunes, and the tiny gem of Morrison’s Beach.

We saw Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, went Deep Sea Fishing, to Cow’s, Shining Waters a lighthouse or two and to the Edmunston Botanical Gardens. And plenty more…

I’m hoping our travels might point you in the right direction or help you decide what to steer clear of if you’re going to make your way to the beautiful island.

 

Aug 042016
 

pereSanta’s Village (Le Village du Père Noël) is one of the coolest things we have done as a family. Last weekend was the second time we visited the village in the summer. (You can read about last year’s trip here.) Somehow, this time was even more fun.

We arrived and felt instantly at peace. There is a unity in the theme that allows the brain to understand exactly what to expect. It’s not chaotic. The place is very big, you can see most of it from the entrance. It’s very well laid out and thought out. Every detail is on purpose, and

santa

We were all in complete awe with Jeremy James’ magic!

it doesn’t go unnoticed. santa2 “Look at that candy cane,” said Papa, who doesn’t always but he himself about aesthetics. “That’s not just some generic thing you buy at Canadian Tire.” We were in the beautiful “jeux d’eau” area. Water was coming out of this gigantic crafted candy cane. Near the igloo and across from the massive Christmas Tree. The water is shallow enough that for some of the time, these relaxed parents just sat back and watched.

I can’t count the amount of times we went down the two water slides. The lines weren’t long at all and small enough santa3that 5yo Babe could do them both on her own or with her 3yo bro.

The kids were happy to go see the very real-looking Santa Clause. Somehow, they accepted to sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

A family favourite was the Jeremy James magic show, which happens daily at 1:30. I highly recommend you plan your activities around this show!

Sometimes we did the divide and conquer parenting method, Papa and Bug went to the big petting farm, where my little guy was in all his glory. I was with Babe, as she got harness up proudly at the climbing activities. These were a first for Babe. There were a few firsts for both of them, which meant that eventhough we were pretty much there from open to close, we didn’t have the chance to do the potato sack slides, bouncy castle, or go-carts. There’s always next year!

santa4I find the whole place very magical. This, coming from someone who kind of rolls her eyes about Christmas and has flat out told her kids Santa doesn’t exist. But when you visit this place, you believe in magic, even just for an afternoon and you might even be convinced the Santa up on the hill is the real deal.

Santa wants to give your family the opportunity to visit! Elf in Chief, Claude, is offering a family pass for 4 people to visit this summer ($80 value)

How to enter:

  1. Share this post on Facebook
  2. Like mamanaturale and Village Du Père Noël
  3. Leave a comment below this blog post telling us your favourite thing about the winter holidays (and let me know you did number 1 and 2)

The winner will be chosen Friday, August 12. Good luck!

We also visited Pays des Merveilles the same weekend, very close by. You can read about our trip here.

 

Aug 042016
 

pays2 Last weekend was a big weekend. We had a lot of big plans. But life gets busy and sometimes you drop the ball. Luckily, there’s always a way to get out of a funk and we found a way to have an action-packed weekend.

I’d originally wanted to plan a surprise 40th party for Papa. Weekends and weeks were busy and we got so close to the date, I was disorganized and cancelled what little plans I did make.

We decided instead, to go away to the Laurentians. There were two attractions, Pays des Merveilles and Santa’a Village, both very close to eachother, that we’d been wanting to visit. So I looked for accommodations. And I looked some more. Being Montreal’s construction holiday, any affordable hotel or air bnb, was taken. I was a little grumpy about it, but being only an hour away from these attractions, we decided to drive in and out each day on Saturday and Sunday.

pays 4Babe reasoned that because we went to Santa’a Village last year, we should hit up Pays first. How perfectly logical.

This post will mostly be about our Saturday trip to Pays des Merveilles, and this post will be about our Sunday trip to Village du Père Noël (GIVEAWAY!).

The weather on Saturday was pretty much perfect. Not too hot, with a slight breeze. We spent a good part of the day at Pays and only left because Bug wasn’t feeling well. He was happy to spend some time in the water. There are two separate water areas. One is a “jeux d’eau,” area and the other, a small pool.

The little haunted house at the very front is not scary, but seemingly too scary for this wimpy family.

Since Bug is newly out of diapers, I am very glad the coed bathrooms were never far. There is food on-site, but if you’re not into poutine and hotdogs, bring your own and use either of the huge picnic areas.

paysWe saw Disney princesses and other fairy tale characters. Cinderella and Snow White were Babe’s favourite. She loved Alice, the Queen of Hearts and Red Riding Hood too. Snow White was particularly talented– very kind and in character.

Speaking of character– there’s paid face painting on site. Clown Sabichou Binfou is very talented. Her paints are high quality and she will keep you entertained as she paints like four faces at once.

One of the things we didn’t find superbly entertaining, were the little houses with scenes from fairy tales behind plexi glass. Funnily enough, it’s probably one of the reasons we ended up there. When I was younger, my dad took me to a place in Renfrew, Ontario called Storyland. We recently drove by the huge bunny mascot on the side of the road. A quick Google search confirmed that Storyland closed in 2011. It had been there since the 60s, and like the scenes at Pays des Merveilles, probably weren’t updated in all that time! While adults might be put-off about the datedness of the park, it’s not something our kids even registered.

pays3A highlight for us though, was Alice’s maze. Both our kids tend to run–fast but each had to take an adult’s hand. The maze is so huge that getting last was a very real possibility!

The whole park is humongous. Just when you think you’re at the end of the amusement park, the white rabbit footprints lead you higher and higher, all the way up to the Queen of Hearts’ castle. The tickets don’t come cheap, children are charges the same as adults, but you could be there from open to close and still find stuff to do.

I wish, even though we no longer use it in the city, that we brought a stroller with us. By the end of the day, my legs were exhausted! I have no idea how the kids kept up. I really recommend bringing a stroller or renting a wagon when you get there.

Pays is a really good place to go if your young family enjoys a variety of amusement park rides. There are many. I’m not normally a huge fan of rides, but these were okay for me to not be too terrified! The Spinning Apples, however, made Papa and I queasy.

We unfortunately didn’t make time to do the roller coaster. Babe loved the mini pirate ship, while Bug and I sat and chilled in a second pirate ship–that doesn’t move. It suited us just fine!