Treasured Traditions: Making Memories This Christmas {Disney Baby Giveaway}

Many families have special traditions around this time of year. Whether it’s hanging stockings, opening a gift on Christmas Eve that contains new Christmas themes pajamas, or having a massive turkey dinner together as a family. It’s the little details that make Christmas so wonderful. For our family, we like to make sure there is a good separation between Christmas, and our daughter’s birthday since it follows right after. We want both Christmas time, and her birthday to be special. The best part, is  that it is never too early to create magical memories with your little ones… you can start an Christmas season.d Disney Baby has put together some ideas for family traditions you can start today!

Create an advent calendar
Find a fun way to prepare for the big day! Whether it’s creating a homemade advent calendar filled with great goodies, or reading holiday books like Christmas Around the World in the evenings before the main event, you and your little one can share in the gleeful anticipation of the holiday magic to come.1931228_60706791302_1028_n

Trim the tree
I grew up decorating my parent’s, and my Grandparent’s tree together as a family. It was one of my favourite Christmas time get togethers besides dinner together on Christmas Day. Dedicate some family time to decorating your tree together. Giving your little ones their own ornaments that they are allowed to put on the tree, allows them to have special roles to play every year. If your family has special ornaments that go on the tree each year this is the perfect opportunity to talk about them and why they are special. As an adult, I love knowing where some of the ornaments have come from on my family’s tree.

Share holiday tunes
Embrace the holiday season with some merry music! Now my husband is normally a bit of a grinch and does not want to hear Christmas music until it’s practically Christmas Day. This year though it started to play early, and our toddler loves ever minute she gets to dance around and try to sing along to it. Teach your little one your favourite festive songs and practice together as a family. Sing them at the top of your lungs in the car, or while dancing around in the house. If you’re feeling really ambitious, why not put together a little concert? You and your baby can perform seasonal classics together for a group of family and friends. There may or may not be a photo of my sister’s and I doing this when we were kids.cats

Bake some sweet treats
What better time of year to introduce your wee one to the magic of the kitchen? Why not work together to bake sugar cookies or gingerbread men, and then let your little one loose with sprinkles, icing and other sweet toppings. Use cookie cutters to construct fun and festive shapes – you can even create your favourite Disney characters! If making a mess if of concern, put down a table cloth beneath your kid, and put on a little apron or smock on them. Both help for easier clean up.

Pose for a picture
Taking a family photo to share on our Christmas card each year is a huge part of our traditions. You could also keep a special holiday album that will grow as your children do. To keep things interesting, try choosing a fun theme: you can all wear holiday PJs or goofy reindeer ears – coming up with a new one every year is a great way to share some cheer together. If it’s your baby’s first holiday, why not preserve the memory of your little elf in a customizable photo frame?

What are some of your families holiday tradtions?

{DISNEY BABY GIVEAWAY}

Would you like to win a pair of cute, cozy Winnie the Pooh Gortex socks, Winnie the Pooh hand print set, Mike SoftPal night light, and a Mickey Mouse sippy cup? This is a great little gift bundle for a lucky little guy or girl. Enter through the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck, and Merry Christmas everyone!

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The Polar Express in Squamish

polarexpress1The Polar Express is a classic book that many read at Christmas time. It most recently became popular again when it became a movie. After some encouragement from my friend Tairalynn – because her family along with many friends were planning to go and well why not make it a group of almost 30 going – we decided to get tickets to go on an amazing railway adventure, and ride on The Polar Express. What sold us was that with Evie still being under 2, she was free to ride since she could be a lap child still. We were wavering about going before finding this out because the tickets are definitely a bit up there for cost… you do have to take into consideration that you are paying to help fuel a train, and the staff needed to run it. Neither Jason, or I had ever been on an actually train before, we were really excited to go! We knew Evie was going to love it because she loves all things train currently.

polarexpress2First things first after paying for parking, and finding a spot was to go and pick up our golden tickets. If you have never read The Polar Express, or seen the movie, it is about a little boy, who is doubtful of Santa, and he ends up on a magical train that is headed to the North Pole. He ends up on the journey with several other kids, all in pajamas because they were all in bed when they were invited on the train ride. Each child has a golden ticket they have to hold onto so that the conductor can punch it for their ride. The kids end up with letters punched into their ticket, these letters stand for something. I definitely recommend reading the book, as I have several memories of it being read to me when I was a kid.

The tickets are important, you do not want to misplace them. Evie was all about the tickets so we had to watch her to make sure she didn’t set it down somewhere. Thankfully with having bought “first class” seats, we also had smaller tickets for riding the little train in the roundhouse. She was happy with those, and we were able to put the golden tickets away for safe keeping.

polarexpress8We actually arrived very early, a bit over 2 hours early for our ride. I am so thankful we did because we got to see the train ride before us depart. We even got to take photos on the caboose of the train during daylight. We would have missed out on that if we arrived just before our train time. There was also lots to do in the roundhouse. Everything from writing letters to Santa, crafts, photos with Santa, decorating cookies, and much more. We had no problem filling up our time before our train ride. Evie happily went around and checked out everything there was, and we did not have to worry about big crowds since the train slot before us had just departed. We even got to see a few little areas others didn’t because Evie won the staff over with her charm. If you do go to The Polar Express next year, definitely arrive early.

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polarexpress4We weren’t entirely sure what to expect, but I was thrilled to see that the characters from the book all made appearances, either off or on the train. The conductor even came over to our large group at one point and visited all of the kids. Evie missed that moment as she was busy people watching out the window. Silly girl!

polarexpress7We headed back to the train station about 30 minutes before our ride and waited to get on the train. Jason, Evie, and I had a little row to ourselves since it was just the 3 of us. It was nice to have a little spot to ourselves, especially since it was a bit late and Evie hadn’t had a nap yet. Apparently we were seated on the perfect side, as several said that the seats marked A, B have the best view along the tracks. Good to know as seats are assigned for first class, so if you can call and request that side if you ever ride on The Polar Express.

polarexpress6The ride itself was wonderful. We saw lots of Squamish scenery, it really is a gorgeous part of British Columbia. During the ride some of the characters from the movie made appearances, and even lead us in Christmas carols. We were treated to cookies, and hot cocoa during the ride. My favourite part though was when the conductor came along and asked for everyone’s tickets. He punched the letters into the tickets and let the pieces fall onto the adults heads, this caused many kids to go into fits of giggles. Evie was simply over the moon to be getting to ride on a big train, her joy made us happy.

It was bed time by the end of our ride, and we headed to our car soon after our ride finished. The actors do come out and hang around the buildings which provides for some photo opportunities if you have major fans of this movie in your family. We loaded back up into the car and made the hour and a half drive back home. Evie went to bed a very happy girl that night, as she was talking away and giggling before falling asleep. I heard her say the word train several times over. I hope this adventure is a memory she always has.

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One Word Wednesday: Squamish Edition

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IMG_20141206_144218Snowfall
IMG_5631bSugar
IMG_5663Hyper
IMG_20141207_122607Caffeinated
Processed with VSCOcamGiggles
Processed with VSCOcamMcDreamy
Processed with VSCOcamImpatient
Processed with VSCOcamFashionista

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Places to See: Sea to Sky Gondola {Review}

IMG_5466Our license plates say it, we truly do live in “Beautiful British Columbia”. We were reminded why this weekend when we went on a little staycation and drove up to Squamish. We have driven through Squamish many times on our way to Whistler, it was nice to make this our destination. One of the best ways to see Squamish is by going up Mount Habrich on the new tourist attraction; The Sea to Sky Gondola.

My husband has done the hike up The Chief, I have attempted the hike but this is much more my style. The gondola provides a great opportunity for people of all ages to go up Mt. Habrich which is beside The Chief, and take in the sights. Tickets range from $13.95 to $34.95 depending on age. I suggest buying your tickets online if you do plan to visit because there is a bit of a discount offered. There are also season passes available, prices again range according to age. We are seriously considering getting the family pass because we would like to come back and do some of the hikes in nicer weather. IMG_5449

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The ride up was great. It was nice and smooth, but if you do not like heights I suggest you close your eyes. Even Evie was proclaiming “It’s a big mountain… don’t fall down!” as we went up, up, and up. With going during the winter season it was not overly crowded so we got a gondola all to ourselves. This allowed Evie to be able to take in all of the sights. We loved being able to point out the mountains, and the water to her. We even got to explain that we had traveled through a cloud.

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At the top there is lots to do, and see. We took off to the viewing platform just outside the cafe. While we were visiting there was a Santa Clause Breakfast happening, so there were many enjoying a pancake breakfast with Santa. If that is something you want to do, it was strongly recommended to reserve your spot well in advance. We however just wanted to adventure, and look around. Even Evie headed over to be able to look out across the horizon. I loved hearing her say “Oh wow!” several times. I can only imagine what all she was thinking. Soon it was off across the suspension bridge.

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My husband knows my fear of heights, and tried to encourage me that this bridge was incredibly well supported since it even had cables coming out the sides and down to the ground beneath us. Thanks for trying honey, but I was still a bit freaked out. Still, that did not prevent me from going across. Evie was definitely the braver one as she wanted to stop and look. We had the suspension bridge all to ourselves as we crossed so I did not have to worry about any pranksters trying to rock the bridge. Be sure to follow the rules for going across, keep a firm grasp on your child, and if you are carrying your little one across the bridge keep the well beneath the railing. Safety first right? The middle does sway a bit, but that’s typical for a suspension bridge.

On the other side there is a little trail that takes you round to the back side of the lodge that is at the top. I really loved that there were Christmas lights, and candy canes hung along the trail. I can only imagine how beautiful the lights are at night. Once we got to the other side of our little hiking trail, we found a sign that pointed out many other trails you can take. One leads to another viewing deck place. We are hoping to get a baby sitter some day in the spring, so that we can go and check out the trails without Evie, we just are not sure if she can do them at her age since she is not yet 2. She did love the little loop walk around, finding snow definitely was a highlight for her at the end of that little trail. We would love to do the Sea to Summit Trail.

Did you know that there is a tube park up there? It is scheduled to open mid-December weather permitting.

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We headed back inside the lodge to warm up. Inside there is a cafe, and a little shop with different things for sale. We were able to sit down at one of the many gorgeous wooden tables with benches and have some snacks. Downstairs in the lodge are the washrooms, there is a change table, and a large changing room area if needed in the women’s washroom. Thank you Sea to Sky for putting Kleenex boxes in the washroom, this was so helpful for this mama to battle her daughter’s ever leaking nose. Inside, thanks to the Santa Clause Breakfast, there were several activities for kids to do. Evie got to write a letter to Santa and put it in the mail box, which obviously translated to – doodle all over the postcard. She also got to scoop some reindeer snacks into a cute bag to take home. The lucky girl also got a candy cane to enjoy.

I loved the different Christmas touches around the lodge, it made visiting during the holiday season extra special. We are definitely looking forward to visiting again, and taking in more of the sights, as well as going for a nice long hike. It is gorgeous up at the top, if you cannot do the actual hike, I really recommend going up the gondola.

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Disclosure: We were provided with site entrance tickets in order to facilitate this review. The opinions shared here are completely my own.

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Santa Photos

Last year we ended up going to 2 different places to get a photo of Evie with Santa. We didn’t know what to expect, or what place we would like the most.

We went back to the mall where we really liked the photo from last year, and the Santa was the same and is spot on for being Santa. With the added bonus of him being wonderful with little kids.

We arrived early before Santa’s first photo time of the day, and joined the 2 other families in line. It soon got packed, and then we realized the mall has a fast pass prepay option this year. Those people were given priority, but they did a good job of going back and forth between the two lines. After about 15 or so minutes in line it was soon Evie’s turn. She walked right up and “chatted” away, but when it was time for the photo she wanted nothing to do with it. We have this amazing frowns face, and even Santa doesn’t look to overjoyed in the photo. We paid for the photo because we wanted to get one, and we were happy to find out all the packages were 50% off with it being Black Friday weekend. I don’t know if they do this every year, but if you want to save a little bit on these sorts of photos that may be a good thing to ask about. That made it a much better deal, as I always find these photos too over priced. We were a bit disappointed in the photo, but decided to shrug it off. santaphoto1

We didn’t think that we would attempt another photo, but we ended up out Metrotown direction and decided to give it another try. Different mall, Santa, and price. Why not give it a try?

Metrotown has their Santa photos done by donation, a minimum of $2. Those donations go to the local food bank in the area. If you do have your kids photo with Santa taken here, please consider how much you would normally spend at other malls. This year you enter your personal info, such as name and email, you also enter your phone number. You can than either join the line or ask to get a text for when to come back. We went with the text option as the line was apparently 30 minutes long. Evie and I headed off to go shopping and no more than 15 minutes later we got the text to come back for her photo. We took our items to the check out and headed back.

We entered on the other side, and I saw families still waiting who had been in the line when we left. I was asked how many poses I would like and I asked for just 1 or 2. Evie again went right up to Santa, but noticed the little candy canes. Thankfully Santa took note and quickly gave her one. Sure it’s in the photo but I didn’t mind. We didn’t get a smile this time either, I think it’s just the age she is at, but we were much more happy with these photos. Yes I said photos. Instead of printing the images, you get a digital copy sent to your email. We were surprised to find 3 photos in the email! With it being a digital copy we can go and print however many we would like of each photo. I was also thrilled to see that the color on the photo was much better and it was focused. santaphoto2

We’ve decided that if we do Santa photos again next year, we will be heading to Metrotown.

Do you get Santa photos done? Is it a 2 year old thing to not smile?

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