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Monday, May 13, 2013

Packing for the Beach - With Kids

As the summer weather starts to peak out from the endless winter that we have experienced here in southern Alberta, the kids are chomping at the bit to get out to the water. Water parks do not open in Calgary before May long so there are a couple weeks where there is intense heat and no reprieve!

Luckily for us we have friends that live in Lake Communities. For those not from around here, a lake community is a suburb that is built up around a man made lake. It usually costs between $200 - $500 a year in community fees (on top of your property taxes) to get to access these lakes. Only residents who are in good standing get to use these lakes. The residents are also allowed to invite guests - but the number of guests depends on the community.

Today we were lucky enough to have a friend invite us to her lake. The weather was beautiful, the water pristine, the sand divine! My kids would spend all day at the lake if they could and I make sure that I pack enough so that they can do just that.

The first couple of times that I went to the lake I failed miserably. Forgot towels even!! So now I have a very easy routine that I have worked the kinks out over the last year and here it is to share with you!

1. Buy a wagon. Seriously.
I never thought I would need a wagon, I mean just carry the baby or wear it in a carrier and put stuff on the stroller. A stroller should be good enough right? No.
A wagon is a must for the beach. You can still wear your baby with a good quality baby carrier, but all your junk and your kids junk....well that is what the wagon is for.
My favourite wagon is the Lee Valley Wagon. It has great big wheels that will have no problem going over grass, gravel or even sand. And with little kids you go where they are.

2. Buy a Beach Blanket.
This is a must. Sure you can sit on towels and what have you but the versatility of a blanket is great! As the kids get older you may want to switch to a a beach chair - but when they are little you will either be fighting with them over who gets to sit in the chair, or dealing with a wet bum when someone beats you to it! A nice blanket like this one is a great investment!

3. Think about an umbrella or something for shade.
Many lake communities are in newer suburbs so there are no trees that are big enough to help you out! Some of the communities do have trees so it is a real risk whether you want to take one or not. If you are going with a small baby I would suggest just throwing one in.

Now that we have the basics covered, lets get down to what goes into that wagon of mine.

4. Backpack.
In my backpack I have a change of clothes for every child, a towel for every child and extra swim bottoms for my potty training one. I also put the sunscreen and bug spray in the front pockets.

5. Little cooler.
I love this cooler by Traveler's Club. It is so well designed. We usually stay for lunch and bit beyond so I pack wraps for everyone, carrots (veggies), some strawberries and blueberries (fruit), some hummus and some cheese for the kids to snack on. I also pack avocados and a knife and spoon. Sometimes if we are staying longer I bring a bigger bag and pack much more!

5. Extra Bag.
This bag has the chips, cookies and crackers in it. It also has the wipes and a couple extra swim diapers. I leave it half empty as it is also where all the garbage goes and it is used if one of the kids has an accident.

6. The Toys.
The toy bag comes in two parts. First a good mesh bag like this one is a must. Secondly, buy some cheaper plastic toys as they are bound to go missing. A couple boats, some shovels, some buckets, a squirter or two, balls etc.  All the fun things that kids love to play with at the beach. A word of advice, use a sharpie and write your name or another distinguishable character on the plastic toys so that you know for sure if that green shovel that the kids are trying to take from another kid is actually theirs!!

7. Water Bottles.
You can never get enough water. I make sure that I bring a water bottle for each of the kids as well as an extra one if they run out. I also always have water in the car. Little kids can get dehydrated really fast so it's really just good practice to bring water wherever you go!

8. Last but not least...The life jackets.
I grew up in landlocked Alberta so I am not overly confident in the water. To be honest I have never really learned to swim. Even though my children are water babies I make sure that they have their life jackets on when they go near the water as you can never be too careful. Of course, life jackets don't mean you can turn your back..... ;)

 I hope this helps you plan your next trip to the beach! Is there anything else that you think is essential that I have missed?? Make sure you let me know in comments!!

Have Fun!!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Lost Dog: Learning From My Kids Style

As a responsible pet owner I make sure that my kids are aware of how to act when there are stray dogs around, or when we come across another dog when we are out with our German Shepard Rotti.

Of course, my kids are actually useless when this happens in real life as I found out today.

As we were coming home from walking to the grocery store, we noticed a man asking people about 2 bichons running around all over the place. He called over and asked if they were mine as we started to unload in front of my house. I said no, and continued to unpack my groceries.

The Lost Dog

When I was done I noticed that the two dogs were running in between my house and my neighbours. I also noticed that one had tags - so I called it over and grabbed a look at the tag. I called the number and got no answer. These poor dogs were sweltering and it was over 25' C. I was worried that they may get into medical trouble so I decided that I should try and help. I called our local city by-law to report them.

While I was on the phone on my front porch with by-law, my kids were in the house and had decided to get water for the dogs, but they had also let my big German Shepard cross in the house as well. So when she came to the sidelight at the front door, she lost it. Barking and barking at these little dogs.

The by-law man told me to put the dogs somewhere where I could keep them safe - so I went around to the side gate as I knew my dog was inside and pulled the latch - broken. Typical.

I brought the dogs back onto the porch and told my son through the door to put our dog in the library. (where she is usually crated). He couldn't decide what to do with the water dish in his hands and slowly took it back to the kitchen as I turned the handle of our front door.....locked.

Not Impressed to be Locked in the Library.

Seriously?!?! Now I am on the phone with by-law while my minor children have locked me out of the house. I calmly tell my son to unlock the door and put the dog in the library...he complies. (all the while asking WHY?!?!?!)

I open the door slowly and the two dogs RUN into my house. My dog can see them through the glass doors in the library and tries to eat through the door. Our cat who is more like a dog than a cat arches his back and hisses - thoroughly freaking out the skittish dog and it runs out of my house and down the street. I can't leave my kids to run after it - so I accept the loss. I tried at least.

I convince the other dog that my couch is not as nice as my backyard and take him outside. I shut the door and leave some water for it outside. My kids really want to see the dog so they open the door and it comes back in...again there is rounding up of a dog who would much rather be inside and shoo-ing of children that have no fear of a stray dog!

My "Helpers"

Finally, 45 mins later the by-law truck comes and takes the dog away - asking me where the other one went...I tried to explain what happened but by then I was just happy to see the dog go.

So Happy to see this Truck!!

That is my good samaritan deed for a couple months at least!!

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