Day 1: Nature Walks

Nature walks are probably in my top 3 of favorite homeschool activities.  They can be whatever you want them to be.  A short trip, a long walk or hike, an excursion with a specific purpose or just a stroll to reconnect and clear the mind.  

Day 1: 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

We were fortunate to have beautiful weather for the end of September and we were able to get out on a few different trails to take in the beauty of the season.  Edmonton is known for it’s gorgeous river valley and extensive trail system, and although I’ve lived here for almost 13 years, I’m still exploring new trails. 

Day 1 -31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Kennedale Ravine, Edmonton

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Kennedale Ravine, Edmonton

On nature walks you have a chance to discuss trees, vegetation, fungi, animals, birds, the weather, and even human interactions with nature such as construction and littering. We have spotted wood peckers, squirrels, chickadees, porcupines, beavers and even moose on our adventures within city limits and within nature areas around the edge of the city.  

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Beaumaris Lake, Edmonton

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

MacKinnon Ravine, Edmonton

It can be nice to just find a quiet trail to yourself, with the kids collecting rocks and other treasures or coming up with stories along the way.  But homeschool meet ups for nature walks are also a fun time, with children working together to build shelters in the woods, playing together and often coming home dirty and happy.  Plus the moms usually have a chance to hang behind and catch up (when we’re not scooping the kids up out of shallow creeks and deep puddles). 

Day 1 - 231 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

A favorite rock garden play are at Beaumaris Lake, Edmonton

Nature walks can also be experienced year round, giving you the chance to look at a familiar area in a whole new light. In the winter you can discuss how the animals have prepared for the cold or investigate what creatures have left a track across the snow. One of my favorite memories from this past winter involved a warm winter day, snowshoes and a visit to Elk Island National Park.  We snowshoed across Astotin Lake to a small island, had a picnic then explored and climbed around the trees before heading back. 

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Astotin Lake, Elk Island National Park

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

If the kids are climbing the walls, you’re feeling a little stressed out or you’re looking for some inspiration, head out on a nature walk.  If you’re in the Edmonton area, check out my blog series Get Back to Nature for beautiful nature trails around the city and beyond. 

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Write 31 Days Challenge 2017: 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

It’s that time of year again, time for the month long writing challenge I’ve been a part of the past two years.  September started off quickly and the fall hasn’t slowed down a bit.  With both girls registered in classes and activities this year and myself entering my second year as a homeschooling, working from home, single parent, we haven’t had a lot of down time in the past month.  

I was reminded of the challenge mid September, and although I was initially excited, my thoughts quickly turned to, “would I be able to fit it all in?” 

I’ve had a few blog post ideas floating around in my head all month, but I haven’t been able to find the time to write them down or edit pictures. I was unsure if I would find the time to complete the challenge and end up stressing out more over it. 

But I realized that one of the biggest challenges with being a mama wearing so many hats is finding the time to focus on yourself and things that interest you. I was fortunate enough to have some me time last weekend and enjoyed a long acupuncture session and a Moon Energy workshop, and this writing challenge is also something I enjoy.  

So I’m going to give it a go! In the past I have done 31 Days to Get Outside and Explore and 31 Days of learning Through Unschooling (snapshots of learning through our daily life). This year’s topic is 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities – all the fun, cool, unique things that keep up busy and running from here to there! 

This will be my landing page.  Everyday, the new daily post will be added to the list (a link will be added once the post is live).  You can also find them through the 31 Days tab on the menu. Feel free to comment on the blog or Facebook posts and let me know your favorite homeschooling or family activities.   

Day 1: Nature Walks

Day 2: Puzzles

Day 3: Festivals

Day 4: Music

Day 5: Arts and Crafts

Day 6: Imaginary Playtime

Day 7: Playgrounds

Day 8: Poetry Tea Time

Day 9: LEGO

Day 10: Learning Apps and Websites

Be sure to check out the Write 31 Days website to see all the topics covered and links to fabulous bloggers. Below are a few topics and bloggers that I will be following this month. 

fullsizeoutput_62c1 A Life of AuthenticitySo Not OrganizedNichelle Renee

Amy Hoogervorst

write31days

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Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

There’s a new area in the river valley that’s been getting a lot of buzz lately.  I first found out about it from coffee_and baileys’ Instagram post and decided to check it out for myself this past week.

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

Located in the Cloverdale neighbourhood, close to the Muttart Conservatory, is a large sandy area that has developed due to construction further up river. I parked on 98A Ave, adjacent to George F. Hustler Memorial Plaza. From here, I headed east on the trails that run along the river, and once the beach came into view (around the 5-6 minute mark), we made our way down a small bank to the sand.

It’s quite a long stretch of sand, perfect for a picnic with kids or an evening stroll. We made our way through the soft, dry sand to the more western area of the beach. Although extra silty / slimy in some areas by the water (more so the east end), we found a soft, sandy, clear area along the shore and spent the next two hours having fun! 

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

The river does have a strong current, and the depth can be unpredictable, so swimming isn’t advised, but we enjoyed the refreshing water as we waded along the edge. The girls had a great time making up mermaid tales, playing with driftwood, and collecting cool rocks and pieces of coal. 

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

While we were there, only a few people had come down to explore the sandy area, although several biked past on the trails. We watched various boaters go by – speed boats that created small waves that the kids loved, canoes, kayaks and even dragon boat teams practicing before the big races. 

As the sun was reaching the downtown and preparing to set, we cleaned up, dried off and packed up to make our way back to the trail. It’s a beautiful spot and we will definitely be back to explore and play.  But due to how it was developed, it might not last once construction is completed! 

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

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Kid’s Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

My 8 year old is cat OBSESSED! She greets her kitty as soon as we walk through the door, wants to make a cat tower with her grandpa and if she touches anything soft, it’s as soft as “5000 cuddly cats!” When I heard that there was a Cat Cafe coming to Edmonton, I knew we would have to visit.  

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

I was initially disappointed to hear that the cafe would be for adults and children 10 and up. I totally understood though – you don’t want the kitties to be overwhelmed and stressed out from little ones chasing them and pulling their tails all day long.  But I was really happy when they announced a weekly kid’s event Sunday mornings for children under 10. 

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

It is only for an hour, and there are only so many spots available so you need to sign up in advance. Rules are clearly addressed before you enter the cafe as well. We have been there twice so far and parents are pretty great at watching their children closely.  But if the kitty just isn’t into it, they can always escape up high or through their kitty door to the back room. 

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

They have activities for kids as well. Coloring pages and face painting have been offered during our visits. It is free for children and parents to visit during the hour but food and snacks are extra.  

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

We wait and grab our goodies on the way out so we’re able to give our undivided attention to all the gorgeous felines.  Plus little kids and kitties are notorious for knocking things over! All the drinks are cat inspired, my favorite being the Chai Catte! The girls enjoy the jumbo cookies for $1.50

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

As it is an awesome free event for kids, it is often booked a few weeks in advance. But you can find a Sunday that works and sign up on their website. Another great thing about the Cat Cafe on Whyte is all the kitties are available for adoption! When we were there last week, the sign said there were currently 10 cats there and 33 had been adopted since they opened in the spring!  

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

So take the kids down to the Cat Cafe on Whyte on Sunday Morning, and then go for a stroll down Whyte Ave if you have the time. 

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The Goats Have Arrived!

There’s a new pilot project on right now in one city park that will help combat noxious weeds.  A herd of 170 goats is being introduced to Rundle Park between July and September and they have been specially trained to munch on Canada thistle, leafy spurge, common tansy, common burdock, yellow toadflax as well as the occasional dandelion. 

This pilot project comes after the city voted in 2015 to reduce it’s use of herbicides.  Goats are known for their iron stomachs.  They are able to consume plants that may be toxic to other animals due to special stomach enzymes. The plan is to have the goats consume the weeds before they go to seed, with less chance of future germination after the seeds pass through the goat’s digestive track.

The Goats Have Arrived!

The Goats Have Arrived!

Rundle Park is a wonderful place to explore on it’s own – full of nature trails and recreational activities.  If you’re out exploring this area, be sure to check to see if the goats are at work.  I stopped by for a visit on Saturday, parking in the parking lot adjacent to the tennis courts and taking the trail in front to the left.  The goat enclosure was set up to the north of the pedestrian bridge connecting to Strathcona Science Park. When I first viewed them, they were in the tall grass just off the paved path once I passed the bridge.  Since it was a hot afternoon, they were being herded down to the wooded area for some shade. I took the dirt path pointing to Hermitage Park that goes under the bridge and viewed them through the trees, hopping over rocks and munching on tree leaves. 

The Goats Have Arrived!

The Goats Have Arrived!

The goats (and herding dogs) have a job to do, so it’s best to view them from a distance. Also, there  is an electric fence to keep the goats from roaming, so watch young children when you’re in the area.  Do not feed the animals and keep dogs on leash in the area.  For more information on the goats and viewing them, visit the City of Edmonton website. 

 

The goats are only here for a short stay this time, until Wednesday July 19 (according to YEG Parks), but they will return mid August and mid September. There will also be public meet and greet events planned for August and September, so be sure to follow YEG Parks for up to date goat information and FAQs. 

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YEG’s Favorite Summer Festivals

Edmonton is nicknamed the Festival City and for good reason.  Summertime in Edmonton means non-stop festivals and fun. Here’s a list of some of the great festivals and cultural experiences YEG has to offer.  

June 20-July 16 – Freewill Shakespeare Festival

June 30-July 9 – Sand on Whyte

July 7-9 – Whyte Avenue’s Art Walk

July 7-16 – Edmonton International Street Performers Festival 

July 20-29 – Taste of Edmonton

July 21-23 – Interstellar Rodeo

July 21-30 – K-Days

August 5-7 – Servus Heritage Festival

August 10-13 – Edmonton Folk Music Festival

August 11-13 – Cariwest

August 12-13 – Edmonton Latin Festival

August 17-27 – Edmonton International Fringe™ Theatre Festival

August 18-19 – Edmonton Rock Music Festival – Rockfest

August 19-20 – Edmonton Airshow

August 25-27 – Edmonton Blues Festival

YEG's Favorite Summer Festivals

Servus Heritage Festival 2016

Some festivals may required ticket purchase in advance.  Be sure to visit their website for more information.  Which festivals are you looking forward to? 

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Celebrate Canada 150 With My Favorite Canadian Playlist

Summer’s here and it’s Canada’s 150th Anniversary! It’s the perfect time to celebrate great Canadian music and also share it with the kids.  I have spent hours at a time pouring over different genres and decades of music with the girls. Watching videos on You Tube and discussing the lyrics, we have had great talks about life in a different time. In honour of Canada’s 150th in 2017, below are 17 of my favorite Canadian songs, songs that I have enjoyed throughout my life and evoke great memories. 

1. Tragically Hip – Nautical Disaster

It’s almost impossible to choose your favorite Hip song.  But after a friend posed that question on Facebook recently, I spent an hour or two going through their extensive playlist, and decided on Nautical Disaster.  I love it for the memories it brings, the intro and the intensity it builds to.

 

2. Our Lady Peace – Automatic Flowers

Aside from the Hip, OLP was one of my favorite bands throughout my highschool years and it take me back to some good times.

 

3. City and Colour – Coming Home

Any song that mentions Nova Scotia will always be a favorite of mine.  City and Colour pulled me in again with Sleeping Sickness, a duet with Gord Downie.

 

4. Sloan – The Good In Everyone

Sloan helped put Halifax on the music scene in the 90’s and their music takes me back to growing up in Nova Scotia.

 

5. Sandbox – Cuious

A 90’s alt rock band from my home county in Nova Scotia who were unfortunately around for only a few years.  A couple of fun facts about Sandbox – the lead singer Paul Murray is a nephew of Anne Murray and many of you might recognize guitarist Mike Smith, as he went on to become the well known Canadian character Bubbles on Trailer Park Boys.

 

6. Spirit of the West – Home For a Rest

I’ve danced to this song in many pubs and kitchen parties and it never gets old!

 

7. Blue Rodeo – Till I Am Myself Again

A classic Canadian band that I grew up listening to, with so many good songs. Great memories of singing Blue Rodeo and the Hip around a campfire.

 

8. Great Big Sea – Ordinary Day

The bodhran and tin whistle, mixed with the band’s energy and traditional Newfoundland sound have had me hooked since they came out.

 

9. Jann Arden – Insensitive

Rock is my favorite music genre, but I like some lighter stuff from time to time. Growing up, I belted this song out in my room many times. 

 

10. Justin Bieber – As Long As You Love Me (Acoustic)

Yes, I admit it, I like Justin Bieber.  I actually think he is talented and has a great voice and I love his acoustic songs.

 

11. Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah

This has been covered all over the world, with two of my favorite being Killard House Special School and Pentatonix, but it was originally written and performed by Mr. Leonard Cohen.

 

12. Nickelback – Photograph

Nickelback is a band that everyone loves to hate but I’ve always liked their songs and they put on an awesome live show. After leaving the music scene of the East Coast and coming to Alberta,  it was nice to find another home grown band putting out good music.

 

13. The Original Caste – One Tin Soldier

Growing up, I listened to the oldies radio stations and this song has always been one of my favorites.

 

14. Moist – Push

There were lots of great Canadian rock bands of the 90s and Moist is another of my favorites. 

 

15. Classified – Inner Ninja

Classified often played the clubs in Halifax during my university days and he’s still putting out hits today, including Work Away that many Canadians relate to.

 

16. Big Sugar – All Hell For A Basement

A song that resonates with many Canadians, as they either know someone that moved to Alberta for work or went themselves.

 

17. illScarlet – One-A

Sublime has been favorite band of mine for a long time and illScarlet is the Sublime of the north. 

 

You can listen to all these songs and more on my Canada Day playlist on YouTube.

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Get Back To Nature: Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park

I’ve heard a lot of great things about Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park over the last few years so I thought it was about time I checked it out.  After an early May camping trip to Carson-Pegasus with other homeschool families didn’t pan out due to heavy rain, I made a reservation for the last week of May and luckily had great weather.

At about 2 hours from Edmonton, Carson-Pegasus makes for a great weekend roadtrip, or even daytrip, and having Whitecourt 25 minutes away makes it easy to grab any forgotten items and provide additional activities.

The lady at the gate pulled my reservation quickly and I paid $8 for a bag of wood and picked it up just past the gate. I was only there for one night due to prior planned activities in the city, but I went through 2 bags of wood (which were a good size).  We had the fire going from 7-11 and then again in the morning for over an hour.

We stayed in Site 95 and had lake views through the trees.  There was an outhouse adjacent to us and a trail ran behind our site.  It made for a great area to walk before bed and watch the sunset.  There were several small boats out on the water and people fishing off the dock that was further down the trail.

Get Back To Nature: Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park

View from our site

Get Back To Nature: Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park

McLeod Lake

We arrived around 4:30 pm, I set up the tent and then we got ready for the beach. Kids seem to not mind the temperature of the water and will play in anything!  I found it chilly, but it didn’t seem so bad after a few minutes.  The girls played in it for about an hour. They also spent time playing in the sand and on the playground.

Get Back To Nature: Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park

Get Back To Nature: Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park

Saturday morning we checked out the playground within the campground. It was about a 5-10 minute walk from our site, uphill on the way there.  There’s a couple of benches there and the play area where the girls had fun with kids they introduced themselves to and played games with.

Get Back To Nature: Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park

We heard loons frequently at the beach and into the evening at our camp site. We also saw squirrels and ducks on our evening walk. We didn’t have any major issues with mosquitos, but we were fairly covered up at our site and our clothes sprayed with Deep Woods.  Ticks could be present since you’re in the woods and near tall grass near water. Always check your clothing after a walk. 

After we checked out, we went into Whitecourt for a visit to Rotary Park.  It’s a huge recreation area with soccer fields, playground, splash park, washrooms and river slides! The girls had a blast coming down on their tubes. We’ll definitely be coming back for a day trip to Rotary Park, and perhaps pay a visit to Hard Luck Canyon

Get Back To Nature: Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park

Rotary Park, Whitecourt

 

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Bacon & Egg Potato Salad

Potato salad is a favorite of mine and a summer staple, from picnics in the park to backyard BBQs. It’s a great dish to beat the heat and prepare earlier in the day, and leftovers make great lunches.  It’s so versatile too, add what you have in your fridge and change it up each time! 

I’m not a food blogger so don’t expect precise measurements – I’m a bit-of-this, couple-spoonfuls-of that type cook. But it’s tough to go wrong with a potato salad, as long as the potatoes are cooked that is!

The summer heat sometimes takes my appetite away, so while I was mildly hungry last night, I didn’t want something too filling.  Adding the protein of bacon and eggs gave this potato salad a boost and made a nice, cool supper.  

Bacon & Egg Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes, boiled and cooled – I prefer to use baby potatoes, easy to quarter them and I leave the skins on
  • Dressing – whatever you like.  I used a combination of Miracle Whip with a splash of Coleslaw and Bacon Ranch dressings
  • Red pepper, diced
  • Hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • Bacon, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Thyme, fresh is you have it
  • Chives, diced – I uses scissors for easy cutting, and with my chives in bloom right now, I also sprinkled some of the blossoms over it too (yes, they are edible!)

Chill until supper.  Enjoy on the side or have a larger portion as an entree. 

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PJ Masks LIVE! Time To Be A Hero

PJ Masks has been a favorite in our house since they debuted almost 2 years ago. The stories of young superheros Catboy, Gecko and Owlette have been replayed over and over and then carried over into pretend play.  

It was so popular in our house last year that it was the theme of Kai’s 4th birthday. Masks (thanks to the talented Cold Lipstick’s Garden), superhero training complete with an obstacle course, and a completion certificate rounded out the activities.

PJ Masks LIVE! Time To Be A Hero

PJ Masks LIVE! Time To Be A Hero

Just posted today was the announcement of the PJ Masks LIVE! tour coming to Edmonton on Monday, December 11, 2017 at 6pm.  According to the Facebook event, presale begins Thursday June 8, 2017 from 10am-10pm, password CATBOY, (although Winspear and tour website lists presale from Tuesday June 6 at 7am-Thursday at 10pm) with tickets on sale for the public on Friday June 9. This will be at the Winspear and I’m sure tickets will go fast!!   

You can follow along on the Facebook event page for the Edmonton show, buy tickets through the Winspear box office here, or visit the tour’s website for all tour locations and dates (Sorry, only Canadian shows are in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and BC). 

PJ Masks LIVE! Time To Be A Hero

Feature photo credit PJ Masks Live
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