Get Back To Nature: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

Mill Creek Ravine North and South (north and south trail off of 82 Ave) are fairly well know Edmonton trails, but do you know of the lesser know Upper Mill Creek Ravine tucked away in the Minchau neighbourhood, in the Mill Woods area of Edmonton? 

Get Back To Nature: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

Adjacent to Minchau Park, a large green space and playground, and Barbara Danelesko Park, Upper Mill Creek Ravine is a granular trail that runs from about 34 Street and 34B Ave to around 40 Ave and 50 Street and also doubles as an off leash dog park. I parked in a mini cul de sac at the SE corner of the trail. 

Full Google Maps version here (click off satellite and zoom in to view the trail system better).

In researching the area (thanks YEG Parks!), I learned about two Edmontonians that the neighborhood and parks were named after.  August Minchau was a Polish immigrant that settled in the Mill Woods area around 1894.  Barbara Danelesko was a mother and well respected community member that tragically passed away during a random home invasion in 1994. 

Get Back To Nature: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

Minchau Park

Upper Mill Creek Ravine is definitely one or the more challenging trails that I have encountered so far in Edmonton.  The dirt path has many steep hills which would make it especially challenging for young children or strollers, although I saw a few jogging strollers along the trail.  I did the whole trail with a return trip, but a smaller portion of the trail would work well for younger kids, as there are many entrances along the path, and a few set of wooden stairs leading down to the ravine trail. Bikers also use this trail frequently for its challenging nature.

Get Back To Nature: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

It took me 45 minutes to walk each way, with a few short breaks for pictures and water along the way.  With kids, I would definitely allow for more time, for breaks and exploring. There are many spots to take a break along the way – resting on stairs, fallen logs, and even a picnic table. Pack a few snacks or a picnic lunch, and lots of water and find a nice log by the creek to have a bite and enjoy the scenery. 

Get Back To Nature: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

It’s a pretty secluded spot with not much city noise.  Mill Creek trickles along side the trail with wooden bridges scattered throughout the ravine. While is it fairly open to the sun in the springtime, I’m sure there was be an excellent tree cover in the summer with lots of shady areas. I can’t wait to check it out later in the year and see it as the seasons change. 

Get Back To Nature: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

Get Back To Nature: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

So if you’re up for a challenging trail that is sure to break a sweat, Upper Mill Creek Ravine is an excellent place to explore! 

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25 Activities For Screen-Free Week

May 1-7 is Screen-Free Week, and as we finally emerge from a long winter and the gloominess of a mixed up spring, I have to admit the kid’s tablet time has been on the rise lately.  With extended screen time comes moody kids and sleep issues. It’s time to detox for a week and get things back on track.  

Working from home and being with the girls all day everyday means I tend to use screen time as crutch to get caught up on work or a bit of quiet time to recharge and get through the day.  So I have to be prepared this week with activities to do together and ones they can do on their own to fill the time.  Here’s a list of activities to get us through the week.

  1. Coloring
  2. Biking
  3. Yoga
  4. Nature Walks
  5. Beauty and the Beast with SCA Fine Arts
  6. Painting
  7. Lego
  8. Gardening
  9. Library Visits
  10. Crafts
  11. Canadian Road Trip at the Winspear
  12. Discover a New Playground
  13. Reading Aloud
  14. Crystals Growing Kit
  15. Skating
  16. Puzzles
  17. Rollerblading
  18. Visit a Recreation Centre
  19. Poetry Tea Time
  20. Pretend Play
  21. Baking Together
  22. Spring Cleanup of a Green Space
  23. Board Games 
  24. Meditation and Breathing Exercises
  25. Dance Parties

25 Activities For Screen-Free Week

There may be the occasional tv show or hockey game watched (go Oilers!) but hopefully we will be able to put the tablets away and reconnect more.  Do you plan on taking part in screen free week?  What activities do you have planned?

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Five Reasons to see the Movie Ballerina (Especially if you Homeschool)

Beauty and the Beast has been taking over the box office since it opened. While it does look amazing, and my girls want to see it, I think we might wait till it is available to rent so we can watch it with the lights on and fast forward any frightening scenes.

But there is another movie currently in theatres that hasn’t received a lot of promotion but it is totally worth watching, especially if you have young ones that might not be ready for Beauty and the Beast just yet.  My youngest stumbled upon the trailer for Ballerina back in December and had been anxiously awaiting it’s release.  Initially, we weren’t sure when it was coming out, as it was released internationally first, but it opened February 24 in Quebec and March 3 in the rest of Canada and we were able to see it last week. 

Five Reasons to see the Movie Ballerina (Especially if you Homeschool)

The story is of a young orphan girl named Felicie living in the French country side in the late 1800s.  She has a dream of making it to Paris and becoming a dancer! When I saw the trailer, I knew we had to see it.  One daughter loves dancing and the other loves Paris, so it was a perfect fit! But there are many reason why everyone should see it, especially homeschoolers, as it will provide a launching ground for further learning! 

Here are five reason why you should see Ballerina: 

  1. It’s Canadian! – Well actually a Canadian-France collaboration.  In a world where Disney and Pixar dominate, the fact that a Canadian produced (Montreal) feature film has been granted widespread international release is pretty awesome and should be supported. It will be released on April 21 in the United States under the alternate title Leap. The movie also features Canadian singer Carley Rae Jepsen as Odette, the caretaker. 
  2. Beautiful animation –  There are stunning views of historic Paris and the French countryside and the detail inside the Paris Opera Ballet (Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris) was excellent as well. Aurelie Dupont, a former principle dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet and their current director of dance, choreographed the dance sequences and animation of her and Jeremie Belingard’s dance moves helped create the elegant ballet scenes.
  3. Cultural and arts references – I grew up listening to Scottish and Irish jigs and reels and the Shannon Reel that is played in the tavern reminded me of Leahy’s Call to Dance. Since watching the movie, we have spent time browsing YouTube and listening to other examples of cultural music and dance. The Nutcracker is also a focus in the movie, as the girls are auditioning for the part of Clara. The girl that voices Camille is Maddie Zeigler, a dancer in real life, known for her performances in Dance Moms and most recently numerous Sia videos.
  4. Homeschool lessons abound – After we came home, we looked up the history of the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Paris Opera Ballet, and we even had a discussion on orphanages and adoption. 
  5. Ballerina is a movie about hard work and determination, standing up for yourself against bullies and proving you’re worth it.  A few not so great choices were made along the way but the characters persevered. 

Check out the official trailer for Ballerina on YouTube. If you have seen it already, what did you think?   

Feature photo credit
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Edmonton + Area Craft Shows, Spring Markets & More! March – June 2017

We’re in the middle of a deep freeze here in Edmonton, with the snow continuing to fall. My mind has been wandering to all the warmth of spring, the fresh scent of flowers in bloom and new beginnings .  

Easter, seasonal, and handmade markets and more are on the schedule for the next few months.  Click on the event name for further information on their social medial event page or website.


March 11-12 – Curated. Spring Market #YEG

March 11-12 – Mom, Pop & Tots Fair 

March 18 – Crafters to the Rafters Spring Market    

March 18 – Anniversary Faerie Market 

March 24-26 – Make It Edmonton

March 25 – Wholly Handmade March 2017

March 26 – Spring Edmonton Pop Culture Fair – March 26 2017


April 1 – Edmonton Easter Eggstravaganza Market!

April 1 – Spring Has Sprung/2nd Annual!

April 2 – 7th Annual Swing Into Spring

April 8 – Lovable Littles Market – Spring

April 22 – Edmonton Resilience Festival     

April 22-23 – The Witchery Market

April 29 – The Mom to Mom Shop and Swap                


May 5-May 7 – Butterdome Spring Craft Sale 

May 6 – Hand2Hand Mother’s Day Sale

May 13 – White Barn Market

May 27-28 – Nest in the City Spring 2017


June 3 – Joy It’s June – Vendor Event & Craft Sale

June 3 – Wholly Handmade June 2017

June 24 – The Original Edmonton Witches Market June

If you know of any shows to add, please add the information in the comments or email me the details. Happy shopping!

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Four Ways to Enjoy Winter in YEG

We’re crawling out of the deep freeze and temperatures are on the rise, maybe only briefly, but I’ll take it for now! Working from home and homeschooling means we have the luxury of staying inside on the coldest of days, but after a few days in, the kids are climbing the walls and cabin fever is setting in. Getting outside and soaking up the Vitamin D is the best thing you can do when the winter blues start to take hold.

Here are four fun, family oriented ways to be more active this winter.  

Traditional Winter Fun 

Skating and sledding are my family’s favorite winter activities.  I’ve never been a skier but I hope to introduce snow boarding to the girls in the next few years (and get reintroduced myself).  Edmonton is home to many city maintained skating surfaces, sledding hills and cross county ski trails, so be sure to check out the City of Edmonton website for a location nearest you as well as their Winter Chalets for warming up and bathroom breaks. Edmonton Ski Club, Snow Valley, and Rabbit Hill all provide downhill skiing and snowboarding in and around Edmonton, with skiing in the Rockies only a few hours away.

Four Ways to Enjoy Winter in YEG

Skating at City Hall

Try a New Activity 

Have you always wanted to try snow shoeing or maybe even sledge hockey? Try a new winter activity this year and get inspiration from ParticipACTION and their 150 Paylist of activities. There’s even chances to win prizes if you register on their website.  

Winter Festivals

Edmonton is the Festival City and the fun doesn’t stop just because the temperature drops. Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival (Jan. 14-15, 2017), Ice on Whyte (Jan. 26-29 and Feb 2-5, 2017). Flying Canoe Volant (Feb. 3-4, 2017), Silver Skate Festival (February 10-20, 2017),  as well as numerous community winter celebrations and Edmonton Ice Castles (on daily till the ice melts) are fun, family friendly ways to experience the best of winter in Edmonton. 

Four Ways to Enjoy Winter in YEG

Ice Sculpture at the Flying Canoe Volant festival 2016

Four Ways to Enjoy Winter in YEG

Edmonton Ice Castle 2016

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

When the sun is shining and the air is crisp, bundle up and go for a walk on your favorite summer trail and see it in a different, glistening white, light.  If you have kids, talk about the change of environment and how animals and plants adapt to the changes. Or take part in Winter Walk Day, February 1, 2017. 

Four Ways to Enjoy Winter in YEG

Beaumaris Lake

What are your favorite winter activities? 

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A New Year, A New Routine

Since I’ve already gotten the jump on goal setting and intentions for this year, I though it was about time to shake up our routine a little too.  As unschoolers, we don’t have set subjects or curriculum we cover each day, but we do have certain activities and blocks of time that we do daily.  We read daily, spend time exercising or doing yoga, go outside for adventures or errands, and have quiet time / tablet time in the afternoon.

Little Sis spends most of her day asking Big Sis to play with her.  Big Sis usually will, but not always at the time Little Sis wants.  A few nights ago Big Sis agreed to play with her after supper, and although it started off great, after a while the excitement and silliness had built and it was hard bringing them down for bedtime.   So the next morning, I tried something different.  

Little Sis and I did a few stretches and exercises together when we first got up. She was happy to make the connection with me first thing so she went off on her own to play for a bit. When Big Sis woke up a little later, I did a few more stretches and jumps with her. Then we all sat down while I read two chapters from a book we never got around to before Christmas. When they started squirming, I suggested to have playtime then.  Their moods were relaxed and friendly and they played great for over an hour.  

Early afternoon is still the best time for outside activities, field trips and errands, and quiet time usually follows when we return home.  But I’m going to try and incorporate another connection moment in the late afternoon, before supper busyness takes over. Tuesday we had an afternoon cookies and poetry session that went over well! Other short activities to break up the afternoon include yoga, coloring together, puzzles, crafts, baking, etc.  

A New Year, A New Routine

Now that the playtime is taken care of in the morning, Little Sis isn’t asking Big Sis to play all day long, and calmer activities like coloring, Lego and reading can take place before bedtime and help prevent the big bedtime meltdowns. 

Another bonus to our change in routine is that I’m now fitting in more physical activity during the day with them, plus I have more time to myself for self care, blogging and to tidy up during the day when I don’t have to tend to “I want to play with you / I don’t want to play right now!” squabbles!

Have you though about switching your routine around? Has it helped at all? We’re only a few days in, but the added stretching and exercise has already help calm our moods and increase my patience! 


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A New Outlook for 2017: Setting Intentions and Vision Boards

2016 was a year that many found exceptionally hard, myself included.  But with the beginning of 2017 here now, I am eager to set out on a new journey and transform into a better version of myself. 

I am always full of big ideas and intentions but I don’t always have the best motivation and follow through.  For the past few months I have been reading more on setting intentions regularly and sending them out into the Universe.  For our household, full and new moons can occasionally cause havoc on our moods, attitudes and sleep, so I thought since we are so connected with the moon phases, the new moon at the end of December was a good place to start.  

I wrote down my intentions for January as well as my bigger goals for all of 2017. When I finally had a quiet moment late in the evening, I dimmed the lights, sat on the floor, took a few deep breaths and read all of my new intentions out loud. It felt odd to be talking out loud to myself but I could feel the confidence building as I read out my list. 

In the days that followed, I had so many positive images, goals, ideas, etc. floating around in my head! I picked up a few new journals to start the new year off fresh and the idea of a vision board flashed in my mind, so I took to Pinterest for inspiration.  

A New Outlook for 2017: Setting Intentions and Vision Boards


I have a couple of big goals for the coming year and early next, and if I don’t stay on track throughout the year, I won’t complete them.  I thought maybe the constant reminder and motivation of a vision board would keep me moving in the right direction. This article on Huffington Post seems to agree and really, how can staying positive and motivated be a bad thing?

I have been compiling pictures of places I want to visit, healthy habits I want to incorporate into my daily life and fun things I experienced with the girls last year that I want to continue doing with them like camping and exploring nature.   Interspersed with the pictures will be words and phrases that really resonate with me at this time in my life. 

A New Outlook for 2017: Setting Intentions and Vision Boards

I’ll spend a few more days compiling images and I hope to have my new vision board up and motivating us by the weekend.  Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see my finished product! 

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SCA Fine Arts Presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Strathcona Christian Academy Fine Arts put on a wonderful performance of the Little Mermaid back in February.  The girls and I enjoyed every moment, from the decorations throughout the hall, visits with princesses, and then the show itself!  


Stunning singing and great performances took me back to when I was young and rewound my VHS copy of the movie over and over just to hear the songs again. It was a great moment seeing it live with the girls. 


This year, SCA Fine Arts will be putting on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,  May 2-5, 2017. Tickets go on sale in the New Year and will be available on their website. In the meantime, be sure to check out video highlights of The Little Mermaid, also on their website. 


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Free & Frugal Learning Resources

Homeschooling families are experts at frugal learning experiences.  In this list, I have included some of our favorites, plus I enlisted the help of one of our fabulous local homeschooling support groups for added resources.  The links are for children of various ages and grades. 


Ace Online Schools – List of 25 virtual field trips

Crayola – Free printables, coloring and worksheets 

Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool – Free

Educents – Free to join, free (enter free in the search field for complete list) and paid resources

DK Find Out  – Free

Homeschool Share – Free

Ninja Plans – Free to join and free downloads, user contributed Alberta curriculum teaching materials and lesson plans

Pinterest – Free

Starfall – Free and membership

Teachers Pay Teacher – Free to join, free and paid products

YouTube Kids – Free app, learning category cover multiple subjects


Khan Academy – Free

LEGO Math – Free learning ideas and worksheets from Scholastic 

Prodigy – Free and Membership. Memberships can be billed monthly or yearly, or if you can find a group buy, it reduces the membership down to around $15 for the year


Duolingo – Free


Google Earth – Free

Google Maps – Free


Crash Course and Crash Course Kids – Free, You Tube

Magic School Bus – On Netflix or DVD (recently spotted at Costco), select episodes also found on You Tube for free, free corresponding worksheets here

Mystery Science – Free for first year of membership

National Geographic Kids – Free


Cosmic Kids Yoga – Free, You Tube

If you know of more links for free or frugal learning resources, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

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Tree Lightings & Light Displays 2016 – YEG + Area

Tree Lightings

Beaumont – Brighten Up Beaumont

Friday, November 25, 6pm-8pm, fireworks at 8:30pm  More info here

Edmonton – Holiday Light Up

November 12 4pm -7pm  More info here

Fort Saskatchewan – Holiday Lights Up Celebration

Friday, November 25, 5pm-7pm More info here

Sherwood Park – Celebration of Lights

Saturday, November 19, 3pm-5pm More info here

Spruce Grove – Christmas in Central Park

Saturday, November 26, 2:30pm-5:30pm  More info here

St. Albert – Snowflake Festival

Friday, November 25, 6:30pm-9pm  More info here 

Stony Plain – Christmas Light Up

Thursday, November 17, 6:30pm  More info here

Light Displays

Alberta Legislature Grounds – December 1 – 23  More info here

Candy Cane Lane – December 9 – January 1  More info here

Enchanted Forest, Fort Saskatchewan – November 25 – January 7  More info here

Leduc Country Lights – December 1 – January 1  More info here

Luminaria, Devon Botanical Gardens – December 2-4 More info here

Zoominescence, A Festival of Light, Edmonton Valley Zoo – December 9-18th More info here




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