Category Archives: Travel

Vote for the Change Islands Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary

Just hoppin’ on the blog quickly today to let everyone know about this fantastic little place called Change Islands tucked away in Newfoundland (my mother and husband are from there). The island is a beautiful spot full of history and wonderful people…and the Change Islands Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary.

And right now, you can vote (quick registration required) for the Pony Sanctuary in the Aviva Community Fund to help them get funding for a new barn to house the ponies and continue the work that they have been doing to maintain the Newfoundland pony population and revitalize the community of Change Islands, Newfoundland.

Did you know that Elizabeth Taylor owned a Newfoundland pony as a young girl?

And that the Governor General of Canada visited the ponies and his wife named one of the ponies “Kate” after the Duchess of Cambridge?

“Kate” still lives at the Sanctuary.

The woman who runs the sanctuary and cares for the ponies is my husband’s aunt (shown below with my daughter).

VOTE FOR THE CHANGE ISLANDS NEWFOUNDLAND PONY SANCTUARY!

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That’s my daughter when she was two with her grandfather and her great aunt (the lady who cares for the ponies).

The Changes Islands Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary has made it to the Aviva Community Fund Semi-Finals.

Please VOTE and help them win!

Newfoundland pony

Big Sister getting to know a Newfoundland Pony with her Poppy on Change Islands.

If you ever have a chance to visit Newfoundland, a visit to the ponies on Change Islands is something you won’t want to miss!

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October is National Crime Prevention Month

I see ADT signs all over my neighbourhood and often wonder if I’m doing enough to protect my family. Well, October is National Crime Prevention Month, a good time for me to take into account the importance of home security and to assess how safe my family is.

Here are some tips offered by ADT to help homeowners with crime prevention and safety:

Crime Prevention and Safety Tips

  • Lock All Doors and Windows: Lock your doors and windows, including garage doors, with heavy duty locks even when you are at home. Secure windows and sliding doors with secondary blocking devices (e.g., a wood block or dowel) for added protection.
  • Crime-Proof Outside Areas: Use motion sensor lights around the exterior of your home that can be seen from the street. Good lighting makes it harder for criminals to hide under the cover of darkness. In addition, design and maintain landscaping with security in mind—hedges should be trimmed away from windows so owners have a good view of their property.
  • Enlist a Team of Monitoring Experts: A professionally installed security system with 24/7 monitoring can create an added layer of security to help guard against home invasion and keep an eye out for your home when you are unable to do so. Home security systems like ADT Pulse can immediately call for help in the event of a burglary, fire or carbon monoxide leak. Citizens can protect their personal property and keep their families safe year round and around the clock.
  • Get to Know Your Neighbours: A friendly relationship with your neighbors can be beneficial for your home’s security. Neighbours who can pick up mail and park in your driveway to give the appearance of occupancy while you’re on vacation may help to deter burglars.
  • Establish an Emergency Plan: Have important phone numbers listed near the phone and establish a meeting place for family members—one near your home and one outside your neighborhood. If you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call the police.

Better safe than sorry.

Carrying a Heavy Load

It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.

Isn’t it funny how some days we can handle what life throws at us and other days we hang on by a thread and no matter what we do, we just can’t pull through? Continue reading

Fun at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

Fun, fun and more fun. That about sums up our day spent at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre just north of Toronto.

I wasn’t sure my daughter would be impressed because she hasn’t been exposed to much in the way of LEGO in her life. But I had forgotten her penchant for building (she has a wooden block set handed down to her from a cousin that she drags out regularly, even if I put it away where she can’t find it).

So she was indeed impressed!

Girl at Legoland, Toronto

She spent so much time at this ramp, running LEGO wheels and LEGO cars down it for me to catch or to see if the cars she built would crash and fall apart or if they would stay together. After what seemed like hours, she ran down the steps and exclaimed, “Mommy, Mommy! Can you buy me boy LEGO? It’s so cool! It has wheels!” So now we are putting “boy” LEGO on her wish list for birthdays and Christmas. Continue reading

A family trip with the Ford C-MAX

I’m just back from a wonderful week away with my kids (unfortunately hubby had to stay behind to work) and from a wonderful week driving a new Ford C-MAX.

2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid

Ford C-MAX Hybrid

My daughter hadn’t started camp yet, so I took a few days off to take her and her brother to the cottage for some R&R. (Anyone who vacations with kids will tell you that there is nothing resting or relaxing when you’ve got kids around, so there was no real R&R for me. It was go-go-go from sun up until sun down; and then sometimes after sun down. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying.)

And we got to do all that going in a Ford C-MAX Hybrid. A sweet little ride with a ton of mommy-must-have features.

Size and Comfort

The C-MAX is about the same size as my Toyota Matrix. It’s a hatchback like the Matrix and it seats five people comfortably. But the C-MAX has more leg room in the front and back seats. Even though I was only toting tots around and leg room wasn’t really valued by my second row passengers, I appreciated the space because it provided me with extra room to stash our bags for our cottage trip. Not that we really needed the space since the trunk was very roomy.

Packed trunk of a Ford C-Max

Packed and ready for the cottage. Lots of space here!

The cockpit of the C-MAX lends itself nicely to a mommy driver (although my husband loved it, too, so it’s probably better described as lending itself nicely to parent drivers).

Fantastic Features

All the functionality for remaining safely in control of the vehicle and its features while driving were within easy arms reach. And because this isn’t a big family car, the kids were within arms reach right behind me. Plus there was the voice command operation of just about everything you could need during your drive. Very handy. And very intuitive. This was the first time I had driven a car with voice activated features, and I found it to be easy to use, straightforward and very helpful while driving. And the Bluetooth was phenomenal. I have Bluetooth in one of my other cars, but it’s choppy at best when I’m trying to have a conversation with someone. I can hear them well, but they can’t hear me. Not so with Ford’s Bluetooth. It was clear on both ends. And so easy to sync my phone to.

The Auto Climate Control was another feature I especially loved. In my own car, I’m forever turning the AC on because it’s hot, then turning the AC off five minutes later because it has gotten too cold. Then turning it back on again in short order when things heat up. With the Auto Climate Control, I set the temperature I want for the driver’s side and the passenger’s side and then, based on my settings, the fan and the cooling system cut in to keep the temperature in the car regulated. This meant that I could stop fussing with the dials and buttons and enjoy my drive at a comfortable temperature. And the kids didn’t complain either because no one in the car got too hot or too cold.

Another feature I really liked was the hands-free liftgate (a must for packing the car with no help from the hubby and two kids running around). This feature alone is enough to make me want to buy this car. I consider it the ultimate mommy feature. Grocery shopping, cottaging, baby on one hip, diaper bag in one hand, sippy cup, toys, etc. in the other. There is no better way to open a tailgate and dump your stuff (not the baby, though) than the hands-free liftgate. Just kick your foot under the back bumper and let the system do the rest. Up comes the tailgate and in goes your stuff. (The remote-entry key must be on you near the back end of the car for this to work.)

Hands-free liftgate

This was me every time I went anywhere with the kids at the cottage; loaded down but still able to open the liftgate…HANDS-FREE!

Performance and Fuel Efficiency

The C-MAX is a nice sized car; not too big, not too small. It’s very roomy with ample compartments to tuck stuff into for long trips. For its size, I was impressed with its handling on the highway. A long drive up Highway 400 in rush-hour traffic meant contending with a lot of transport trucks and tons of anxious commuters trying to get home at the end of the day. The C-MAX had the kick and power to easily overtake other cars and trucks and get me and my kids out of the city and into the peaceful countryside. It was a smooth ride, too; very quiet and comfortable.

And fuel efficient. I drove 200 Kms up north, spent my days driving in and out of the town near our cottage and day tripping to various activities and tourist destinations with the kids, and then 200 Kms back at the end of the week and I barely used half a tank of gas. In my own car, all that driving would’ve been a tank of gas and then some.

Around the city, the Ford C-MAX was even better (as it’s meant to be). I drove my daughter to camp and then I drove to work and back the last couple of days that I had the car and the gas gauge didn’t move at all. Again, in either of my cars that amount of driving would have cost me a quarter tank of gas. And with today’s gas prices, I’d rather be driving a Ford C-MAX!

Kids beside a Ford C-MAX

All ready for camp and another ride in the Ford C-MAX

I can honestly say that, when it comes time to buy a new car, my family will be considering the Ford C-MAX Hybrid.

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The Ford C-MAX was provided on review. The opinions stated above are my own. No compensation was received for this article.

Family Adventure at Horseshoe Resort

So, what did you do this weekend?

We headed up to Barrie, Ontario for a day at Horseshoe Resort’s Adventure Park, and man was it AWESOME!

Family going to Horseshoe Resort Adventure Park

My kids are young (5 and 3), which means that these kinds of theme parks often don’t work out for our family because of height, weight and age restrictions. But Horseshoe Resort’s Adventure Park promised to have something for everyone as long as we brought along our sense of adventure.

And that we did!

My daughter had her sight set on the Aqua Ogo, but on the way to the Ogo hill, both kids got sidetracked by the Climbing Wall and Euro Bungy! Awesome adventures to be sidetracked by, by the way.

Boy bouncing on the euro bungy at Horseshoe Resort Adventure Park, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Wall climbing at Horseshoe Resort Adventure Park, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

We were there first thing in the morning so the line-ups weren’t too bad, which allowed the kids to bounce away to their hearts content for a little longer and to climb the wall until their little arms and legs could no longer hold their weight. (I even climbed the wall!)

Then we headed for the Ogo hill. And that was just FUN, FUN, FUN!

Saturday was hot, even at 10 a.m., so cooling off in a giant ball of water while rolling down a hill at a thrill per minute was definitely in order!

Aqua Ogo at Horseshoe Resort Adventure Park, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Family leaving a water ball at Horseshoe Resort Adventure Park, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

My kids LOVED IT! So did I! We could have spent the whole day on the Ogo hill, but there were so many other things to do, we got dried off and headed to the next adventure.

Which took us back to the Climbing Wall. I didn’t know that my daughter was in training to scale Mount Everest. She’s quite the monkey!

Girl and boy wall climbing at Horeseshoe Resort Adventure Park

After a delicious lunch (the food was fabulous!—so was the break and the chance to sit down for a bit!), we headed off to Horseshoe Resort’s Hummer Tour.

Neither kid was enthused about this. My husband and I couldn’t wait for the tour to start, but both kids thought the idea of sitting in a truck and driving through the forest was less than thrilling.

Another family of four joined us in the modified Hummer and off we went. Not 10 minutes into the tour, camera in hand, bouncing all over the place, my daughter said, and I quote, “This is way better than I thought it was going to be!” proving that even my five-year-old can be impressed.

Family on a hummer tour at Horseshoe Resort, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Mike, our tour guide and Hummer driver, was incredible. He chatted about the history of the forest, about building the trails, and told us details about the Hummer, all while navigating seemingly insane ditches, slopes and hills. It was AWESOME and THRILLING! We climbed and clawed our way through that forest like we were inside the belly of some kind of beast. Mike took us up hills backwards, on slopes that other 4X4s would have toppled over on, through ruts and ditches and down hills until our hearts were in our throats and we didn’t know whether to laugh or gasp for breath.

Then he brought the beast up onto three wheels and let us get out to take pictures! I was amazed at the fun of it all but also at how comfortable and relaxed the whole experience was. Not once did I feel like this was some sterile experience where the participants were allowed only to sit in one spot, securely strapped in, unable to really appreciate the beauty of this beast. We got to get out and really see it! (In case you can’t tell from the picture, that front wheel is several feet in the air!)

Two kids on a hummer tour at Horseshoe Resort Adventure Park, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

After the Hummer tour, it was time for some zip lining on the 900 foot Big Zip. The kids weren’t heavy enough for this, so my husband and I went solo. I questioned my sanity as I rode the chairlift (alone) to the top of the hill where I would be fastened to a cable and sent zipping across Horseshoe Resort’s Adventure Park. What a rush! I highly recommend it. It actually wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. (But it was scary enough!)

Ready to zipline at Horseshoe Resort Adventure Park, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

To wind down our day, we checked out the gem mining and the kids panned their way to handfuls of beautiful gem stones.

Kids panning for gemsWe contemplated hitting the Ridgetop Mini Golf, but the kids were beat and so were we. It was a long and fantastic day of adventure and we were all ready to head back to Toronto with our heads full of memories of the great fun we had at Horseshoe Resort’s Adventure Park.

If you’re looking to rediscover fun this summer, I highly recommend checking out Horseshoe Resort’s Adventure Park.

Change Islands Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary

My mother and husband are from a small town on a small island in Newfoundland. The island is called Change Islands. It’s a beautiful spot full of history and wonderful people.

I didn’t appreciate it when I was young and had to spend my vacations there, away from my friends in the city. But as I get older, I can see the beauty and peacefulness that that rock in the middle of the ocean has to offer.

I can’t do it justice in my writing (at least not yet). So I will share with you an article about a pony sanctuary that has been built on the island to help increase the quickly dwindling  numbers of Newfoundland ponies. The woman who runs the sanctuary and cares for the ponies as if they were her children is my husband’s aunt.

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Big Sister visiting the ponies on Change Islands with her Poppy and Aunt Netta.

Newfoundland pony

Big Sister getting to know a Newfoundland Pony with her Poppy on Change Islands.

If you ever have a chance to visit that part of Newfoundland, a visit to the ponies on Change Islands is something you won’t want to miss.