baby's first camping trip!

Jul 25, 2014

Ryan and I love camping. The fresh air, beautiful mountain scenery, and vast array of foods cooked over a campfire used to have us pitching a tent nearly every weekend of the summer.  Somewhere between full time jobs, pregnancy, and a baby, life has gotten in the way over the last few years.
When we (finally) found ourselves with a free weekend in which Ryan was off of work and in the city, we loaded the car (no exaggeration... it was full!) and headed to Banff.
Camping with a baby sounds like a lot of work, but to be honest it's really not much different than being home. Babies are simple creatures. They eat, play, and sleep... regardless of their surroundings.  We are fortunate that Aaralee sleeps well away from home and can cope with being away from her crib.  I accepted the fact that she would inevitably get dirty and let her play outside to her heart's content.  Her personal favourite activities were climbing the dirty, dusty trailer tires and attempting to eat tiny rocks before I grabbed them from her. Kids are gross.

The first day of our trip was a long one as we made the drive from Edmonton.  We got a campsite and set up the tent while we waited for Ryan's parents to join us. They are expert campers and we usually go along with them as they are always up for a weekend in the mountains.  Having four extra legs to chase our busy baby was an added bonus. 

 Once they arrived we ate dinner and sat outside on a beautiful, warm summer evening.  I bundled Aaralee up for her first night sleeping in a tent.  It wasn't long after she was asleep that I retreated to the tent myself. It had been a long day and I was exhausted!  
A couple weeks back we'd visited the Glacier Skywalk with my family. After posting a photo and tagging it on Instagram, I'd won a photo contest thanks to Brewster Canada! As part of my prize, I had tickets to the Banff lake cruise, so on Saturday Ryan, Aaralee and myself drove to Lake Minnewanka and enjoyed the views from the boat. We've been to the lake many times, but it was my first time on the cruise.  It was a bit rainy, but we were fortunate that some of the smoke from the wildfires further north had cleared.  We spotted a bald eagle, played with Ryan's new tilt shift lens, and Aaralee even got to sit in the captain's seat and drive the boat!

It was a rainy afternoon, so once we returned to the campsite we piled into Ryan's dad's truck to go for a scenic drive.  Aaralee fell into a car ride induced nap while we took in the gorgeous views. I love the Rockies and the fact that we are fortunate enough to live so close by.  

The skies cleared as we returned towards the campground, stopping along the way for some ice cream in Banff! We cooked up some delicious food, ate supper, and had another quiet night.... until 2 am rolled around and we awoke to the sound of our rowdy campsite neighbours.  Nobody in our tent got much sleep, but that unfortunately didn't convince Aaralee that she should sleep in the next morning. 
Sunday had rolled around and it was time to pack up camp and make the journey home. Our first camping trip with a baby had been a success, and I'm pretty sure that Aaralee loved it as well! That's a good thing... she's got a lot more camping in her future! I can't wait for her to grow up spending her summers by the campfire. 

visiting with the ontario family!

Jul 12, 2014

To say that the past month has been busy would be putting it mildly. Non-stop, jam-packed, and a little bit exhausting would more accurately describe it.  After two weeks in Oklahoma and a week in St Lucia, I returned home and prepared for another week away.  This destination was slightly less exotic but exciting nonetheless.  I packed up the baby, the dog, and myself and we set off for my hometown of Red Deer for a week's stay at my mom's house.  My grandparents were in town from Ontario for the first time in a few years, so we decided to stay in Red Deer for the duration of their visit.

The last time that they'd seen Aaralee, she was just 2 months old and spent the majority of the day napping and nursing.  Nearly 8 months later, she is a crazy busy little girl who never sits still for longer than a few seconds.  They were reunited on bad timing, with a sleepy baby wanting cuddles from nobody other than her mommy. Fortunately, she warmed up to them as the week went on.  
It was a busy week jam packed with adventures. First things first, we wanted to take our guests to the best place that Alberta has to offer... the Rocky Mountains!  We left early in the morning bound for the Columbia Icefields. Ryan and I left early, stopping a few times to keep the baby fed, changed, and happy.  Our group was traveling in 3 separate vehicles and we were all fortunate enough to make it through just in time before the highway was closed due to a wildfire. Once we'd met up we headed for a bus to take us to the brand new Glacier Skywalk.  Stretching out above the valley sits a glass floored observation deck.

 When you look down, all that you can see beneath your toes is a 918 foot drop.  It was surprisingly less scary than I'd anticipated, but a cool experience nonetheless.  Once we'd finished with the Skywalk it was onward to Jasper where we arrived at our awesome chalet for the evening.  It was a cozy log cabin big enough for the whole family! 

We ventured into town for a bit of shopping and returned for dinner before calling it a night.  Ryan left at a ridiculously early hour in the morning, bound for the airport to depart on yet another trip down to Oklahoma. 
The next day brought us back to Jasper and Athabasca Falls before the long, long journey home. Because the highway was still closed due to the fire we were forced to take the slightly longer and far less scenic route back. It was a long day but we eventually made it back to Red Deer to rest up for another long day to follow. 

Once again we hit the road, this time bound for Calgary. It just so happened that the Stampede was on and I could not wait to indulge in all things deep fried.  It was a hot summer day filled with overeating and money wasted on games that nobody ever actually wins.  I tried my best to win a teddy bear for my baby, but I lost as per usual.  Among this year's snacks were deep fried pickles, Dippin' Dots ice cream, pulled chicken, deep fried oreos... and of course, a corn dog. It was so much easier last year, as I was pregnant and felt more entitled to indulge. Everyone had a great day taking in all of the fun that the grounds had to offer.  Another year, another successful Stampede! 

The next day was Wednesday and somehow an entire week had gone by and it was time to say goodbye to our Ontario visitors as they returned home.  It had been a great week and it was wonderful to be on maternity leave and have so much time to spend with them and the rest of the family... rather than being stuck at work or living abroad as I'd been on previous visits. It's hard to believe that the next time that we see them Aaralee will be a walking, talking, adorable little monster! 

spontaneous getaways!

Jul 3, 2014

It was Ryan's first day back to the office after weeks of working out of town.  Aaralee and I were back home and settling into our daily routine, happy to have all of the amenities of our own house. Two weeks of trying to entertain her in a hotel room was exhausting, and I was content to stay home for awhile after the chaos of travel.  I changed my mind within 5 minutes of my husband's return from work that evening.  He'd found himself with some rare downtime between the normal never-ending tasks at work.  He could spend it trying to keep busy in the office, or we could go somewhere on vacation.  As happy as I was to be back home, there is never a time in which I'll turn down the opportunity to go somewhere.  Travel is a part of me, an addiction for which there is no cure.  To justify the trip even more, we'd be gone for my birthday.  
We discussed our options and tried to decide where to go. A road trip? An all inclusive vacation? Camping?  After much contemplation we settled on a trip to beautiful St. Lucia.  Normally out of the realms of our budget, it was the low season and thus way more affordable.  Booking a trip four days before departure also helps when it comes to price reductions.  We splurged on the all inclusive package and prepared for a week of binge eating... my favourite! 

I took our clothes from the Oklahoma trip out of the suitcase just to wash them before packing them all over again.  We flew out on the red eye for a tiring start to our vacation, but the bonus to night flights is that my baby and husband actually sleep on planes. Myself, not so much.  After a connection in Toronto and a long day of travel we arrived... we were in St Lucia! This new destination brought Ryan and I to a grand total of 37 countries visited each, and it was number 4 for our miniature jet setter.  We rode the windy steep hills to our resort across the island and checked into our own little slice of paradise.  We had a one bedroom suite on the side of a mountain complete with a gorgeous ocean view.  I was giddy with excitement and eager to start vacationing!

The next week consisted of delicious meals (filet mignon being my personal favourite), playing in the pool, lazing on the beach, and of course fruity, yummy cocktails.  Although it had only been 2 months since our last beach vacation, the experience with a 9 month old baby was completely different than it had been with a 7 month old. On our last trip Aaralee couldn't crawl or stand. This time around, she was cruising down the beach and climbing everything in reach.  She loved splashing in the water and eating tropical fruit... and sand.  

I spent my 28th birthday cruising along the shores of St Lucia on a catamaran island tour. We took in the beauty of the majestic Piton mountains, walked in the crater of a volcano, and ate lunch at a cocoa plantation.  Ryan went snorkelling as I enjoyed snuggles with a sleeping baby.

  Upon returning to our resort we headed for dinner. Aaralee didn't grant me my wish of a peaceful meal, but the cake at the end made up for juggling a fussy baby. 
Later on in the week it dawned on me that we could enjoy every dinner with our baby if only she'd sleep through them.  I put her in her wrap, where she'd promptly fall asleep and Ryan and I would enjoy a peaceful meal... albeit a bit sweaty with a sleeping baby tied to me.  
The week came to an end far too soon, as it always does. We'd had a wonderful time in St Lucia and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to take a trip with my little family before Ryan's job picks up and takes him out of town yet again!