Sunwing’s 5 Fun Family Vacations (with Kids)


I came across an email which was entitled; “Creating Back to School Memories NOW!” and I’m a huge fan of anything which creates fond memories for us, as parents, and especially for the kids.

Since we’re never really sure when an opportunity for vacation might pop up, I thought I would re-post this fun list from Sunwing.ca, just in case it could inspire us in the future or inspire one of you.

If you’re looking to take a family vacation this summer that won’t break the bank, grab the kids and Join the Club!

From slime to surfing, Sunwing has rounded up some amazing experiences that are bound to make your little one’s friends jealous come back to school this September. Plus, Kids Clubs are free and part of your all-inclusive package, and the best part, they’ll ensure the kiddies are occupied all week long, you are voted “the best parent ever,” and that you get in some time to relax under the sun.

Here are five extraordinary experiences in the Caribbean to check out this summer:

Get Slimed at Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Punta Cana

1

Prepare to get slimed and partake in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle slime-making classes! Kids can get up close and personal with their favourite Nickelodeon characters including SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer. The resort’s Kids Club also features a mega-ball pit and two-storey slide. When the children are not at the Kids Club, the whole family can join in on the Nickelodeon experience: from breakfast with Dora the Explorer, to meeting the splash mob of characters at Aqua Nick water park, to grabbing a selfie with all your favourite characters at Character Central.

Be a Zookeeper for a Day at Memories Holguin Beach Resort
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Kids can look forward to Zoo Day Tuesdays at this resort in Holguin, Cuba. Hop on a fun carriage ride to the petting zoo as part of the daily Kids Club program. Other highlights include a Friday talent show for kiddies to express their creativity, water games and meet-and-greets with favourite characters, Toopy and Binoo. While the kids are being entertained, parents can look forward to sipping on tropical cocktails on the beach or trying out some exciting water sports such as windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling.

 

Splash-tastic Fun at Grand Riviera Princess All Suites Spa and Resort

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Get ready for some fun in the sun in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico! Boasting its own pool and waterslide, the Mini and Teen Club at the Family Club section has everything needed for endless water fun. The property’s daily program of activities run until the evening so parents can take advantage of the many onsite, à la carte dining restaurants with options that include Italian classics, sumptuous seafood dishes, authentic Mexican dishes and more.

 

Live like a Cowboy at Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort

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Visit the Red Ruby Ranch in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, where little ones can pretend they’re in the Wild West with activities that range from horse grooming lessons and hay rides to bonfires and laser tag. After dropping off the kids at this Kids Club, parents can work on their swing at the Championship golf course (green fees are complimentary) or enjoy a game of tennis. Afterwards the whole family can cool off in the onsite water park, the largest in Montego Bay.

 

Surf it Up at Royalton Bavaro Resort and Spa + Big Kid Fun

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Surf’s up in Punta Cana! At this newly opened resort, the entire family can experience the ultimate surf machine ‘FlowRider’ and practice catching waves. When the family has dried off, enjoy meet and greets with favourite characters Max & Ruby™. For the teens, a hangout club includes all the latest video games, flat screen TVs, snooker tables and more. A phone charging station makes sure they won’t miss a beat posting their fabulous vacation pics on social and making their friends jealous. They can even call their friends for free with the Royalton app and access to free Wi-Fi. While taking a break from the kids, parents also enjoy their own downtime, relaxing as they float down the resort’s lazy river or savouring a cocktail at one of the eight bars.

 

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Travel With Kids! Yeah! As Much As Possible, Please!


I opened my Twitter feed this morning (I’m @urbandaddyblog if you’re not following me yet – and if you’re not… SHAME!) and the first tweet that greeted me was this one;

“Up next with on Travel Edition. Are healthy eating and traveling even possible with hotel stays and security restrictions? Tune in to hear more…

Then I thought about all of the travel we have done over the years with the kids and food, make that nutritious food, has never been an issue… anywhere!

By “travel”, I’m not just referring to East York, Mississauga, or GASP, Richmond Hill – which if you live in or near the Greater Toronto Area, you will know take 40 minutes to an hour no matter what time of day, and literally used to take “5-minutes” when I was younger…

Here are some of the places we’ve taken the kids (current ages are 8-13);

  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • PEI
  • England
  • France
    • Paris 3 times
    • Drove the country heading south
  • Spain
    • Barcelona
    • Madrid
    • Seville
    • Drove the country / took trains
  • Italy
    • Venice
    • Rome
    • Amalfi Coast
    • Florence
    • Drove the country / took trains
    • Tuscany
  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Ireland
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Holland
    • Amsterdam
    • Ghent
    • Edam
  • Florida

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some…

We’re big into the experience, so I’m not including cruises, but we backpack – take the least amount possible, and when we look for places to stay, there are no hotels.  We want to experience our destination as the locals would, which is why Air BnB is great for us.

With Air BnB not only do we save on accommodations because 5 people at hotels require an extra room, or extra charge, but we ensure we have WiFi, Air Conditioning and most importantly a kitchen!

With a kitchen, the food, especially healthy food, never becomes an issue.   We are so lucky to have a spouse who is almost certified as a nutritionist, and who is so incredibly organized that when we (read: she) plans our accommodations and itinerary around grocery stores so we can gather the food we need for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

Without having to rely on eating out all the time, we save money, and eat much better and much healthier, plus we have snacks available for taking with us on our excursions / day-trips.

That’s how we get to experience the world with children, while eating healthy, and having a ton of fun.

 

 

The Urban Daddy: Back from family vacation. Europe V4.0.


So we have returned from our annual family vacation – I’m back at work, the kids have one week left before school starts, and my wife has the absolute pleasure of coordinating the back to school festivities.  Dentist appointments, vaccinations, clothes, shoes, school supplies, and most importantly, scheduling!

Forget the programming of extra-curricular activities and sports programs, because that is just going to have to wait… So many commitments, and such little precious time.

You get it!

But normally, I do not like to speak publicly about personal matters, however this summer’s vacation is worth sharing not because of what we did, but because of how we did it.

This was our 4th summer in Europe.  As a family.  We plan the trips in October / November and in the summer we pack as little as possible into backpacks, and we go and explore the world.

Since we are a family of 5, staying in a hotel is not a viable option, so we resort to using Air BnB’s so we have choice of location, a kitchen and sometimes other exciting amenities, such as a pool.

With the kitchen we avoid the costly dinners out and instead hit up local grocery stores and eat breakfast and dinner we’ve made ourselves and if we decide not to pack lunch, we can eat out before heading back for a siesta.

This summer took us to Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Seville, and London with many stops along the way via the train, or the car we rented for a week.

We don’t have a home base for the entire trip, instead we stay in places for anywhere from 2-5 days before moving on.  Each new country, city, town bring a new experience and the excitement of a new place which might be better (or worse) than the previous one.

We’ve yet to be disappointed.

I’d say after 5-years of family travels, the one disappointing place we stayed at was in Rome 2-years ago which was in a fabulous location, but the Air Conditioning didn’t work and it was during a hot spell, where the average temperature was 45 degrees Celsius.

This year also represented the first year that our bags were lost during a transfer at airports, and our bags were lost twice, the final time, only 3 of our 5 bags made it home.  The final bag arrived 3 days after us.

Kudos to my wife for planting the seed of travel into our kids.  Imagine taking a 4-year-old back-packing as we did 3-years ago, through Paris, the south of France, Amsterdam and Belgium.  She was an absolute trooper.  No strollers, just walking, looking at art, and enjoying ourselves.

Now at the ripe age of 7, she’s a pro.

I encourage parents to explore travel with their children to introduce them to how the rest of the world lives.  Sure, we had gone on a family cruise before, and we took the kids to Disney, but before we headed overseas, we explored the East coast of Canada – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI – to see if we would do driving trips overseas and after that success, we took the plunge.

I love that my oldest can easily navigate the Paris Metro, or the London Underground.  Even the Seville Metro and Brussels subway pose no issues with him.  Our middle child has found an appreciation for art, museums, and the food and drink that other places have to offer.  He’s in his element wherever he is, and that warms my heart.

Our youngest, my daughter… Such a trooper, and with a strength in languages, she enjoys what we all enjoy… the sites, the food, the language… the experience.

As someone who had to find ways to cope with some significant undiagnosed anxiety in my life, the travel bug has bitten me and I look forward to the flights, train rides, and bus, tram and subway rides because of what they bring.  New experiences, new adventures and quality family time!

For those who knew of our travels, we appreciated the texts and messages as we were in Barcelona one week before that horrible murderous act by a group of criminals.  We were on the exact stop where the van came to rest.  We also were at Buckingham Palace in London a day before some mentally unstable resident showed up with a 4-foot sword there.

But it’s great to be back home, back in Canada, back to the greatest country in the world.

 

 

 

My kid’s got a ‘weird’ name – How I’ve helped him embrace it (read: how HE’S helped me learn to love it!)


In my culture, kids tend to be named after loved ones who have passed away after living long fulfilled lives. My husband’s tradition is to give the first born grandson the same name as the LIVING paternal grandfather. When hubby first told me this I’m pretty sure my word-for-word response was something along the lines of “Not a f@#%ing chance is that happening.”

Fast forward 6 years and I’m preggo with boy/girl twins. During those 6 years I went though a lot of heart break – I lost my grandmother, grandfather and uncle, all of whom basically helped raise me. So when I peed on that stick, later confirmed at the fertility clinic (another post for another time), I knew right away that my kids would be named after my dearly departed family… In pipes hubby reminding me about his family tradition.

My hubby’s traditions are important to me, but my feeling goes like this: if I’m the person growing these tiny humans inside me, puking my guts out for 3 months, not sleeping for 4 months and having major surgery to have said tiny humans removed then you better damn well believe I’m making the final decision on what I’m going to call the little monsters.

I spent the next 35 weeks and 6 days going back and forth about what I’d name my son. It was like mental tug-of-war. Who’s gonna be offended? Is it really a bad omen? Do I really want my kid going through life having his name mispronounced? Back and forth, back and forth.

D-day comes and I still haven’t made a final decision. We arrive at the hospital, still no decision. Prepped for my c-section, still no decision. Getting sewn up, still no decision. Puking my guts out in recovery and still no decision. Finally I get to the ward and hold my son for the first time. Instinctively I look at my hubby, who’s fighting back tears of love, joy and fear and behind all of it, I see pride, so much pride. In that split second I gave my little man the same name as his grandpa. When my father-in-law found out my son’s name he cried tears of joy and the same pride I saw in my husband – like father like son.

Even after naming him, I wasn’t so sure about my decision. I was worried he wouldn’t like his name as he got older and went to school and heard all the other kids with ‘normal’ names and decided he didn’t want his name. Mostly, I wasn’t sure how to instill pride about a name I was still iffy on.

At about 4am, after feeding the kids and wanting to scratch my eyes out I went online (because isn’t that the normal thing to do when you’re sleep deprived?) and saw an ad for a book called “The little boy who lost his name”. The books weren’t cheap but I figured it was worth a shot if it would help my son embrace his name, so I bought one for him and of course one for my daughter (twins and all). The books arrived and they were absolutely incredible, and worth every penny. The kids were too little for the books at that point but both loved their books when we first read it to them and still love them 2 years later! It’s not really a book they grow out of until much later, and then it becomes a keepsake.

So, when the company contacted me a couple months ago about their new book “Kingdom of You” I figured I’d give it shot (nothing to loose since they were sending the book free for me to review). My concern was that having twins meant needing 2 books, and while they offered to send 1 book for review, I couldn’t get one kid a book and not the other. Once they found out about the twin situation they graciously sent one book for each kid – now that’s great customer service! The Kingdom of You books are just as well written and beautifully illustrated as the Lost My Name books. The kids get lost in their own personal fairy tale – isn’t that what every kid wants? Anyway, back to my son’s name…

In the end, it isn’t a book that gives my son pride in his name, it’s the fact that our family takes such pride in the history of his name, we tell him about all of the men in the family with the same name and what incredible people they were and still are. Sharing a name with his grandpa gives my little man such pride, you should see the look on his face when he tells people “Me and Grandpa have a the same name!” I love his name because HE loves his name, its history and what it represents. It doesn’t hurt that he’s growing up to be quite an incredible little person.

What’s in a name? I guess that depends who you’re asking…

Until next time,

Your fav Urban Twin Mommy

P.S. Stay tuned for the company’s upcoming book which will feature the option of multiple kids in 1 book!

 

 

Disclosure: I was provided this product to share my honest opinion and believe me, I’m gonna tell you the truth, be it good, bad or ugly!

No Tres-Passing… Once, Twice or even Three Times…


It’s amazing what you get from a 6-year-old who blends the English language with another language and processes it using their special wit and humour.

While stopped at a red light, my daughter must have noticed a sign which read;

She asked me; “What does No Trespassing mean, Daddy?”

“It means you are not allowed on that property / land… Why? Where did you see that?” I asked.

“Oh, over there, in the construction site” she answered.

Then she continued… “But I thought “trespassing” meant you had to pass the place 3 times… Like Uno, Dues, Tres… you know, Daddy… Tres-passing…”

“Ah, I know dear… Very clever!”

I love it.