travel


We headed out one beautiful Sat morning to get our family Christmas tree. Before we went out we enjoyed our traditional pancake feast, and put on a pot of hamburger soup in the crock pot. Just like picking apples, we keep it local and support the local farmers. This is our third year going to this tree farm it is run by a husband and wife team, and they are very nice and friendly. We didn’t have any snow this year so not as feastive as other years, but luckily it wasn’t the blizzard that we had the year before. This year my boy chose the tree for us, helped to cut it down and carry it. For me, I think, this is one of the most fun and most memorable parts of the holidays. Below are some pictures of our adventure.

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punkins

This year we grew pumpkins in my top soil pile, we end up with 5 from that crop, but just like apple picking, visiting the local pumpkin patch is something that we do every year as a family. It was a nice day and a great family outing as it seems to be every year. Noah has over the years gotten more into the carving and taking the insides out. We also went to the dollar store and got some push in faces that we put into two of the pumpkins. Kind of like Mr Potato Head.

carving

An old picture and one of my favorites.

Here is what we bring and do when we travel with our son on an airplane. This is his second trip, he is 5, but his first plane ride he was 3. We bring a range of activities and things to occupy him. Please note he is very hard to feel out and his interests change rapidly and can range from colouring to dancing  so having options is critical.

We pack for him a small backpack  to carry on, not too heavy or big, something he can wear, or if we have to carry isn’t a big deal. This trip I added a carabiner to it and snap it onto a suitcase instead of trying to carry it.

 air travel5

We also try and find a seat that is out-of-the-way so he can make himself comfortable and a window to watch the plane is a good idea.

air travel3

So what is in the bag:

  • Sticker books
  • New crayons
  • Magnetic scene creator (this one was Calliou)
  • Colouring pages…Disney and Lego (taken from web sites)
  • blank paper for drawing
  • small notebook for writing
  • Lego magazines
  • stuffed animal
  • drink
  • playing cards (Old Maid, Go Fish)
  • Headphones (for the airplane and the iPod)

air travel2

Not in the bag but for him in my wife’s carry on:

  • Snacks
  • iPod with kids shows loaded on.
  • his small inexpensive digital camera

air travel4

This was a cute picture of him trying to familiarize himself with the plane and the emegency exits, enjoying a snack and watching the inflight entertainment system.

air travel

I decided not to go into a lot detail about WDW (rodent as Daddy Scratches calls him) most people have been there or know people who have. Instead I will pass on couple of things that worked for us.

What worked:

  • Free Dinning – I like this, it makes you feel that you have gotten some great value for your stay. This makes a trip much more budget friendly. I don’t think I would go without Free Dining.
  • Pop Century Resort – This is a value property at Disney. It is what it is, the room is smallish, beds are small, but let me tell you after the heat and all the walking, even my wife that can be a night owl was asleep fast. The resort is bright and maybe a little over the top but it is Disney and that is part of why you are here.  We have seen the moderates, not worth that extra $ in our opinion. We also experienced the bus service at a Deluxe resort, and let’s just say Pop has better service. Maybe the stops are further away, but people you have just walked all day, is a little farther going to hurt you?

pop

  • Quick silver car service – Who in their right mind would want to take the Magical Express after you do this? Sure cost a little more but it included a grocery stop (save money), and a quick trip to the resort and back to the airport. Also since I’m Canadian and Magical Express looks at us  as an international departure, we didn’t have to go to the airport 4 hours before our flight left.
  • Tour Guide Mike – This is an online service that will help to keep you away from the lines and make the most of your trip, we used him before and with this trip also. We got a taste of what happens when you don’t use his the advice on the last day. We had the longest lines and the busiest park in two trips, and guess what it, was a not recommended day… but my son needed to ride Splash one more time so we went with it.
  • Stroller – Okay this I agree, at 5 he should maybe have walked, but lets face it,  it is stinking hot, lots of walking and Daddy is on holiday and didn’t want the wining. We used our trusty Maclaren Volo that we got that last trip and used it again. Our son is now too big for it (height wise not weight wise) so we will pass it along. It was cheaper than a rental, smaller, lighter, and great to use it at the airport.

stroller

  • Advanced Dinner Reservation – ADR’s okay this is extremely important and a bit of a pain but you must make them for any meal that you want to sit down and eat inside (also called Table service). Yes it takes some of the fun out of the trip and takes away from being spontaneous,  but do you find getting turned away, or waiting 2 hrs to eat fun? Make the ADRs, save the frustration.

What didn’t work- not too much,  having a flexable nature and doing what we can so that we roll with changes and modifications to our plans. Sure there are things we wanted to do but didn’t, and there are things we didn’t plan to do but loved. Our son had his moments of being extremely frustrating but that happens at home also. And come on what 5 yr old doesn’t have these moments?

All in all it was a great family trip. The credit for most of the planning and getting things ready goes to my bride. 

So thank you sweet heart for another great family trip….. Where to next? “Windsor”….

Yesterday we returned from 8 days of holidays with our son. I really enjoyed the time we spent together as a family, it was a nice break. This year we headed to see Mickey Mouse. Even though we are not huge mouse fans it is a good vacation for a young child. This is our second trip there, we did the first when our little man was three.

It was free dinning and value season so also a good value for a trip. I will be back with more but wanted to post something so that people know that I’m still around.SplashMtnPhoto-reduced

We continued our getting local theme today, we packed a picnic and headed to the Bowmanville Zoo http://www.bowmanvillezoo.com/home.html. It is a small local Zoo. My wife and I visited here about 12-13 years ago,  shame on us since it is less then 20 min away. We have returned to show our son what it is like and to see some of our local animal stars, it is better than we remembered it to be. A lot of the zoo animals here are used for TV & movies so they are very well trained and cared for. They have also added a splash pad, and my son, once he warmed up to the idea, was having a blast. After the zoo and ice cream we headed back home to see our own family wild animal Chay. A couple of our favorite animals are below, also my wife was trying out a technique to remove bars when taking pictures that worked pretty cool for the first time.

How many of us feel we need to travel hours to get away and do something? Most of us I think, and I’m as guilty as the next person. With the purchase of our new camera my wife wanted to go out and take pictures some place. We talked about a hike, or driving to couple places I had heard about  an hour or so away. She didn’t want to drive that far and the hike with my son last time didn’t go great, unless you are working on your selective hearing, then it is a good idea. So then the idea of a place Oshawa came to mind called Parkwood,  http://www.parkwoodestate.com/ it is a beautiful old mansion and only a short ride away. It has lots of gardens and  paths and is very beautiful. With a 5 year old the idea of all that walking and only seeing flowers…well  I was worried. While doing some research into the place I noticed that there is a self guided tour,  Parkwood knowing the kids would be bored, created  a list of statues and that kids can look for while touring. http://www.parkwoodestate.com/html/auto.html?page_id=3&schild_id=19 When we  explained this to him the night before, that it is like Indiana Jones (thanks Lego) and he is exploring and needs to find these lost statues  and take photos of them, well needless to say he was up and dressed early the next morning and wanted to go. So we went and spent the morning wandering around hunting statues and taking pics.  The cost was ZERO! Also have to love that free parking and for a long weekend nobody was there, we basically had the place to ourselves. My son had a great time and we got some good pictures below are a couple of them.