A Wonderful Time at Wonderland

Summer break is almost over. It’s sad, but true. My youngest will be starting junior kindergarten in a few weeks, my oldest will be in grade four, my husband will be back to work, and I will be returning to teaching after four and a half years off. My mission this summer was to do a number of fun things with my family to make the most of our time together before the craziness begins.  Unfortunately when we’ve had the days off to go on adventures, the weather has been less than cooperative. So the number of fun activities we’ve done has been a lot less than I’d hoped. That said, we did get to go on an overnight trip to Niagara Falls, where my kids experienced the magnificence of the Falls for the first time, and where we all had a blast at Marineland, watching dolphins perform, feeding beluga whales, and going on some really fun rides. Last week we were able to go to Toronto, to an amusement park called Canada’s Wonderland, and spent nine hours riding rides and eating treats. Needless to say, it was so much fun.

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The park is gigantic and so being able to see all of it and do all there is to do there was impossible in nine hours. Because it was a hot and sunny day, and because I’d never been to that part of the park before (it’s relatively new), I wanted to go to Splash Works, which is the waterpark section of Canada’s Wonderland. However, in case it was packed (which it WAS because who doesn’t want to go on waterslides and swim in a lazy river when it’s over 30 degrees Celsius?), we went to Planet Snoopy and KidZville first. My reasoning was so that Zoey, our four year old, would be able to have some fun on age-appropriate rides for a bit, in case there wasn’t much she could do at Splash Works. Planet Snoopy has many rides that are perfect for the little ones Zoey’s age, and Zander, our eight year old, could join her too. There was Swan Lake, Snoopy’s Revolution, Snoopy vs Red Baron, Snoopy’s Space Race, The Pumpkin Patch, Sally’s Love Buggies, and the Character Carousel, all of which she loved. She even rode on a number of them more than once. The lines, despite the park being very busy that day, were not too long.

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There were even different Peanuts characters walking around Planet Snoopy, just like at Disney where you can see the princesses and princes, Mickey and Minnie, and other lovable movie characters. My kids are too young to know any of the Peanuts characters – much to my disappointment because I was IN a Peanuts musical in high school! – but I coaxed my son into getting a picture with me, Snoopy, and Lucy.

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While Zoey and I repeatedly went on the rides above, Zander and my husband tried Boo Blasters, which is a laser tag-type ride that was a little too scary for my boy. After that, they quickly went to ride the Ghoster Coaster, which I remember riding as a child (so it’s been there a long time). The two of them went on the Ghoster Coaster, a wooden roller coaster that is fairly tame, and therefore age-appropriate for young kids who are keen to have a thrill but not have the daylights scared out of them! They rode it three years ago when we went to Canada’s Wonderland, and loved it then and loved it again.

Next up was a visit to KidZville, which is right beside Planet Snoopy. The rides at KidZville are also for a younger age group, and so Zoey and Zander could go on anything there. Zander and I tried out the small but fast roller coaster Taxi Jam, which we had also gone on three years ago.  It’s totally my kind of roller coaster! Zoey took on Swing Time, Zander did Blast Off!, and both kids tried out the Launch Pad, which is just outside of KidZville. Though that one is rated a “high thrill ride” according to the park map, this one is as crazy or as tame as you want it to be. It’s like a Jolly Jumper for kids and adults. Participants are strapped into safety harnesses, which are then attached to rubber-band-type things. And then they just jump up and down on a trampoline under them. The kids really enjoyed it.

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Unfortunately, when we finally made it to Splash Works the place was insanely busy. There were so many people in the kiddie pool that we could barely see water. We just saw people. Although there are some very cool looking slides and rides in that area, we decided not to stay because my husband and I feared we’d lose sight of the kids. That’s definitely the place we’ll go first though when we go back to Canada’s Wonderland, and hope it’s not overridden with crowds.

Just outside of Planet Snoopy is the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit. My kids were very interested in it. You walk through a wilderness area with over 40 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs. They are scientifically accurate, based on the latest paleontological knowledge. They looked so real that I had to tell Zoey they were “plastic, pretend, dinosaur statues” so that she would continue moving along without fear!  Both of the kids loved seeing the dinosaurs and making them move (it’s interactive), and they also had a ball at the dinosaur digging area, digging up bones.

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My husband and daughter went back to KidZville to do a ride or two there, and my son and I went to Thunder Run. When I was younger, that was my favourite ride at Wonderland. I’m not a fan of roller coasters that have a giant drop or that go upside down (because I’m a scaredy-cat), and so Thunder Run was one I could handle. It’s called a “high thrill ride”, but it doesn’t do loops or drops. It simply goes fast, inside and outside the mountain, which is the “landmark” of the park. I knew my son would be just fine on it too, because when we went to Disney two years ago he went on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Mount Everest. I did not. Those were much too scary for me. Both Zander and I had so much fun on Thunder Run, and I was happy I could experience one coaster with my little guy.

One part of Canada’s Wonderland that I used to love as a kid was going to see the shows. They used to have groups of people singing and dancing in various closed locations. Because I’m a fan of live entertainment, it was something I looked forward to when I went to the park. Decades later, there are still theatres for shows, including A Cirque Experience (an acrobat show) at Wonderland Theatre, Charlie Brown’s Jungle Journey (the gang from Peanuts dance and sing their way through the jungle) at Playhouse Theatre, and a variety of entertainers at the International Showplace. We didn’t get the chance to see any of the shows when we were there. There’s just so much to do!

Of course it wouldn’t be a Canada’s Wonderland experience without funnel cakes. It’s the first place I ever heard of a funnel cake, and it’s still the place where you can get the best funnel cakes. Delicious.

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We all had so much fun on our little day trip to Canada’s Wonderland.  And I was so pleased that the kids enjoyed themselves.  I always looked forward to going there when I was a child, and again as a teenager, and I still do as an adult.  The entire atmosphere of the place is somewhat magical to me.  As soon as you walk in you see the big mountain – Wonder Mountain (where divers perform acrobatic dives throughout the day) – you smell funnel cakes, french fries, and other delectable dishes, and you see happy faces of people having a whole lot of fun.  It’s absolutely one of the best places to go at any age.  We’ll most definitely be back…and maybe even before this summer ends.

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Show Me the Ussies (for Ketchup With Us)

The lovely and talented hosts of the best blog hop out there, Ketchup With Us – Mel at According to Mags and Michele at ODNT – have asked participating bloggers to post an “ussie” – or a “selfie” with more than one person.  And because I am terrible at making up my mind, I’ve decided to post more than one.  I hope that’s allowed!! 😉  If you’d like to show the world your ussies – um, that sounded a little bit inappropriate! – all you need to do is go to Mel or Michele’s websites and link up.

The subject of my ussies, at least for this blog post, is the most important thing in my life:  my family.  They are the centre of my universe, and the centre of my ussies!  Here we go!

All of us on Christmas Eve last year – 2012 – and we were excited for Santa to come!

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And then a few weeks ago – July, 2014 – on a quick vacation to Great Wolf Lodge!

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My sweet babies taking an ussie a few weeks ago, during some cuddle time!  It’s incredible to believe that both my 7 year old and my 3 year old know how to use my phone to take selfies…and ussies.

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And me and my precious beings.

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These last ussies are of me and my husband.  We just went on a week-long vacation – just the two of us – to celebrate our 10th year anniversary and my 40th birthday.  It was a great time to relax and recharge our batteries, but we missed our kids. Still, we managed to have some fun in the sun and capture it on camera.  (The yummy drinks served in coconuts certainly helped!)

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Again, if you’d like to show off your ussies, why not do it, and then link up to Ketchup With Us?  It’s the blog hop that’s entertaining, exhilarating, and engaging!

 

Calling All Music Lovers, Kids, Moms, Dads, Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts, & Uncles

My friends know these facts about me: I love music, I love to sing, I love my kids, and I love spending quality time with my family. Put them all together, and it’s my idea of heaven! That is why I love the Imagination Movers. If you haven’t heard of them, you should check them out. They have their own TV show on Disney Junior (you can see them every day), and they also tour the world doing concerts. They are songwriters and talented musicians, who put on a heck of a show that is not only child-friendly, but fun for everyone in the crowd. If I’m being honest, my husband and I listen to their CDs even when our kids aren’t in the room. Seriously. Anyway, the Imagination Movers are coming to Ontario in the fall (my family is SOOOOO excited), and I talked to one of them, Rich Collins, about the tour the other day, for CKNX Radio.

Here’s a snippet of the interview: https://soundcloud.com/radiochick74/rich-collins-promotes-upcoming-canadian-concerts

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Five Reasons I Like Summer Break – Guest Post by Zander (for Ketchup With Us)

Day 28 of the Ketchup With Us blog posts by number challenge (and you have a few days to get in on the action by going to Michele’s website – ODNT – or Mel’s website – According to Mags), and I finally got someone in my family to do a guest post for me!  Today it’s my son Zander who’s doing the list, and because yesterday was the last day of school and summer holidays start today, his list is…

Five Reasons I Like Summer Break

1)  There’s no school.

2)  You don’t have to do any work (see above).

3)  You can spend time with your family.

4)  You can sleep in (usually at least).

5)  You can walk around the house naked every day (of course I’m wearing underwear, but that’s it).

Dude, I totally get it.  When I was 7 I liked to run around my house naked.  And I’m perfectly normal now!

Why not join in on the fun? All you have to do is go to Mel or Michele’s websites – According to Mags and ODNT – for the details, and to link up your post.

Six Things We Did Yesterday (for Ketchup With Us)

Yesterday was a busy day for the Mercer family. There were a number of community events happening, and we wanted to get out and enjoy them. And enjoy them we did. There was Strawberry Summerfest in a nearby town called Lucknow, and there was also Teddy Bear Play Day in another nearby town called Listowel. There was no shortage of fun things to do, and we did as many as we could. Hey, why don’t I tell you about them? This blog post – for Ketchup With Us, hosted by Michele at ODNT and Mel at According to Mags – is…

Six Things We Did Yesterday

1) Ate our first fresh strawberries of the season.

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2) Took a horse-drawn wagon ride.

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3) Played on some fun inflatables.

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4) Pet a reptile’s back.

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5) Planted some marigolds.

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6) Saw “How to Train Your Dragon 2”.

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How about you? How has your weekend been? Why not write your own listy-type blog post for June’s blog posts by number challenge for Ketchup With Us? Just check out Mel or Michele’s websites for details.

 

Valentine Inspired Crafts (for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop)

Writing Prompt:  A Valentine inspired craft or recipe.

Let me start with this:  I am not a crafty person.  I aspire to be one of those people – who I am in awe of – but I really should accept that, at age 39, I am not going to improve much in the way of my craftiness.  That said, I do like to at least try, and I decided to go a little nuts this year for Valentine’s Day, with handmade gifts.  Maybe it’s because I am at home daily with my 2 year old daughter, and I feel like I should be doing things like this in my spare time (which is a few hours while my girl has an afternoon nap…some days).  I think about the “What do you do all day at home?” questions I get from my co-workers (at the job I haven’t yet returned to).  These are the same ones who, when my son was 9 months old and I hadn’t returned to work, told my husband (who also works there) that I need to “cut the apron strings and get back to work”.  I’m not kidding.  But that’s a whole other story…and perhaps fodder for a future blog.  Anyway, I decided to do a few Valentine inspired crafts, and I really hope my kids and my hubby will appreciate their gifts (in addition to the store-bought stuffed animals and chocolates, which I obviously can’t screw up!).  First, I decided to do a cute craft I saw on Pinterest.  I did some from me to my kids and hubby, but I also did some from my 2 year old to her daddy, her mommy, and her big brother, complete with what she told me to write, for the most part (!).

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I coaxed my son into doing handmade Valentines for his classmates this year (in grade 2), and then worried that he’d be teased for making them.  “Why did you make these?  Weird,” was what kept running through my head.  So, I caved and bought some “cool” Valentines for him to give out, and I decided to use some of the cards we already made as cards for each of my kids, with the addition of a picture of Mommy and child.

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Lastly, I saw something on “The View” last week when they were talking about Valentine’s Day gift ideas, and I thought it was really lovely.  Mine isn’t quite as fabulous as the ones shown on the program, but I love it because it’s my sweet little family.

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It’s my Valentine’s Day present to myself, and it hangs where I can see it every day, as a reminder of how lucky I am to have such love in my life.