Monday, June 29, 2009

Calgary Stampede Tips and Tricks Part III

Click on the photo above to find out what's new for 2009 at the Calgary Stampede. Some of the highlights include the new Midway Circus featuring celebrity racing pigs, a high dive show and freestyle extreme motocross. On the Saddledome Plaza stage check out Recycled Percussion for some exuberant high energy beats performed on plastic buckets, ladders and recycled containers. Band member Justin Spencer is apparently the world's fastest drummer.

If you plan on enjoying the midway rides and are in Calgary before the Stampede starts, head to a Mac's convenience store (there are 20 locations around Calgary) to purchase a book of advance tickets. This is the best deal in town.

Here's a link to a coupon for 20% off merchandise at the Calgary Stampede Store. Click on the Calgary Stampede.

July 5 is Family Day and July 8 is Kids' Day. Enjoy free admission both days from 6 til 9 am and a free pancake breakfast for the first 20,000 people. Arrive early to avoid the line-ups.

If you haven't already done so, check out more tips Part I and Part II or request a Stampede with Kids Cheat Sheet from Little Traveller. Have a fantastic time!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The scoop on Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop

Like all celebrities, Gwyneth Paltrow has done more than her fair share of travelling. To share her knowledge and insider tips, she publishes a weekly newsletter that features her personal travel tips but also recipes, crafts, fashion and much more.

If you want your children to experience life in the celebrity fast lane next time you're in New York, LA, London or Chicago check out this newsletter on kid-friendly restaurants. For something more wallet-friendly, bake some of Gwyneth's favourite cookies with your little ones this weekend.

You can sign up for her newsletter through her web portal

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Calgary Stampede Tips and Tricks Part II

When I am out for the day with my children I tend to get a little stressed about what we're going to eat. I find the day is so much more enjoyable if we can manage regular snacks, drink plenty of water and eat a decent lunch with a chance to sit down.

If you get to the Stampede early (before 8am) on Family Day July 5 or Kids Day July 8 then you'll hopefully get to sample the free pancake breakfast that is served to the first 20,000 people. Head to the grandstand to take advatange of the free food and a show.

Although the Stampede is supposed to be a trans-fat-free zone this year, there is still plenty of junk food around. If you want to avoid it for lunch or dinner, try The Range food court on the lower level of the Big Four Building for a selection of fast food. It's open from 11 am to 11 pm.

While I don't believe there are any sliced grapes or peeled apple slices in these packs, the souvenir Stampede Packs do contain a juice box, bag of Munchies, sunflower seeds and more. In other words, you probably won't need to hunt for snacks. For $12 you get a colourful kids backpack filled with goodies. There are several pack options for older kids. To get yours, head to the BMO centre Hall A.

For more insider tips to the Stampede, email a request to Little Traveller for our 2009 cheat sheet.

Top 5 Kids' Music CDs

I spent most of my free time in April and May listening to kids' music CDs. Whenever we drove anywhere, I'd quiz my daughter on the relative merits of the latest batch of CDs we were listening to. She was my captive audience and I got some straight-talking, highly opinionated 4-year-old feedback.

Check out the results of our joint efforts in my article on and this month's Savvy Five on Kids' Music CDs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bathroom breaks

My husband and daughter went to see UP at the movie theatre this weekend. Inevitably, little L needed a bathroom break half way through. If I'd found this site on Friday, I could have given my husband a heads-up on when to time the trip to the loo. gives suggestions for pee breaks so that you don't have to miss key plot turns or the funniest bits of a movie. It's great for parents with little ones or pregnant ladies. Print out the suggested break times and bring them along with you so that you can read up on what is happening while you pee!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Calgary Stampede Tips & Tricks, part I

It's only 2 weeks until the start of the 2009 Calgary Stampede. And I am ready. I found an old leather vest at a flea market the other day that will help me look the part, although it doesn't smell quite as fresh as I'd like it to. We always take our children to the Stampede parade. My 4 year old loves to watch the horses and other farm animals wander down 5th Ave (especially if they poop which she finds hilarious). I'll keep my 16-month old strapped into a backpack carrier again this year. (There's no room for a stroller among the crowds lining the route.) She loves music so she'll enjoy the marching bands.

To ease you into the spirit of the Stampede, today is designated Get Your Head in a Hat day and free cowboys hats will be given out around the city. Make sure you dust off yours as volunteers will be giving out spot prizes to anyone seen sporting a cowboy hat during Stampede (July 3-12). Check out the Stampede blog for more.

Until June 30, enjoy 15% off all merchandise through the Stampede online store. Use promo code "stampede09" (no spaces). I love the little horse buckle for kids.

If you want more info, request a copy of the Little Traveller Calgary Stampede with kids "cheat sheat" by emailing us or commenting on this posting (we won't post your email address). We'll be posting more Stampede insider tips over the next two weeks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer in the Pass

Are you looking for a family friendly adventure this summer and want to try something new? Then head to the Crowsnest Pass -- I highly recommend it. My family has a cabin there and we escape south a couple of times a month to unwind away from the city.

I wrote about my top 10 favourite summer things to do in the Pass in the upcoming July/August edition of Calgary's Child. Here they are in short form. For the full text, pick up a Calgary's Child magazine.
- Tour the Bellevue Mine
- Visit the Hillcrest Mine disaster
- Walk the Frank Slide trail
- Hike the historic Miner's Path
- Cool off at the Flummerfelt water park
- Munch on a warm cinnamon bun at the Cinnamon Bear Cafe
- Go fly-fishing on the Crowsnest River
- Tour the Crowsnest Museum
- Picnic at Chinook Lake
- Enjoy Rum Runner Days from July 16 to 19

...and remember to pack the sunscreen!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A map of Calgary's Attractions

For a quick overview of Calgary's main attractions, click here to view an online map.

Click on the link at the top right for family friendly coupons.

Travel Alberta Family mag

If you are visiting Alberta this summer or live here and plan to take a vacation close to home, then take a peek at the new edition of Travel Alberta's STAY Family magazine. It's packed with great ideas for things to do with kids in southern Alberta.

Click here to download the pdf (it's a big file - about 11 mb - so may take a while).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CARES winner

Congratulations to Andrea Condron of Ontario who won the CARES airplane harness from Little Traveller this week! Thank you to everyone who entered the competition.

To read a recent review of the CARES harness from the author of Jet with Kids, visit the Kid's Fly Safe website here.

CARES are available to rent through Little Traveller in Calgary for $25 per trip or to purchase for $85.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Nanny Dish

Feeling creative? Have a funny nanny story to tell?

Nannies on Call and Fat Rock Productions have launched a mini-writing competition called "The Nanny Dish." To enter, write 300 words about a nanny situation from a mother's perspective (can be fact or fiction). The grand prize is a full-time nanny placement through Nannies on Call and registration in a Fat Rock online screenwriting workshop. The story will also be developed into a screenplay. There are numerous runner's up prizes, too. So start writing... the deadline is July 15.

For info and rules visit

Still dreaming of Tofino

My family and I just got back from a fabulous, sunny week in Tofino. We had such an amazing time there last June that we decided to head back there this year. We stay at the Crystal Cove Beach Resort on Mackenzie Beach -- a resort that is absolutely perfect for children. Our 2-bed log cabin was right on the beach -- a long, sheltered sandy beach that is almost deserted this time of year. There are loads of starfish-filled rock pools to discover and the waves are small, just right for toddlers and pre-schoolers to splash about in.

The resort has its own hand-hewn wood children's playground including an old boat to clamber on. The cabins come with a fully equipped kitchen, TV and a log fireplace with plenty of wood. The resort also caters to campers and RVs.

Tofino is a 5 hour drive from Victoria so we prefer to fly to Vancouver then take the ferry to Nanaimo. (We spotted a pod of orcas on the way there and dolphins on the way back.) From there it's a 2.5 to 3 hour scenic drive. We rented our baby gear from Wee Travel in Vancouver who delivered to the airport for us.

Highlights from our travels include:
- enjoying the views from the sun deck of the ferry
- exploring the rock pools on Mackenzie Beach
- making elaborate sand castles
- brunch at the Common Loaf bakery in Tofino
- exploring the Botanic Gardens
- hiking the Schooner Cove boardwalk
- boat trip to Meares Island
- massage at the Wikaninnish Inn (mum's special treat)

We'll be back next year for sure. If I can wait that long :o)