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Hello Convenience: A HelloFresh review.

Anyone who knows me knows that with three boys and everything else that goes on in my life, I am extremely busy. I also have some incredibly picky eaters. Which means that in addition to looking for ways to save time I am also struggling to find ways to make healthy tasty meals. Enter HelloFresh, a type of subscription box that delivers weekly recipes and fresh ingredients to your doorstep you can cook delicious, quick, and healthy meals at home. When I was offered to opportunity to try this product I obviously jumped at the chance.

I did, however, have my concerns about how exactly they kept their products at a safe temperature while being shipped. As soon as it arrived I tore open the box. I was pleased to find that due to the packaging made up of an insulated box, a separate section for the meat, and multiple still frozen ice packs, that the meat was definitely cold. I took everything out and packed it in my fridge and closed the box up again. The packs didn’t even begin to melt for another 24 hours so I’m confident that they would hold the ingredients at a safe temperature for much longer.

After flipping through the recipes and looking at the pictures I was excited to get started. I opted for the Garlic-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa and Mexican Street Corn to try the first night. I was surprised to find even the chicken was already chopped. All I had to do was the vegetables. The directions were simple and the recipe was easy to make. The avocado was a little under ripe, which probably would have been avoided if I had made it later in the week, and I used a touch too much lime juice but the flavours were perfect for each other. If I had to choose a favourite part of the meal it would be corn but the chicken is a close second.

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The second meal we tried was the Honey-Mustard Glazed Pork with Apple-Lentil Green Salad. I was most apprehensive about this meal because It is far from our usual meals. We tend to only have Ceaser salads and usually as a side instead of the largest portion of the meal. The only prep work I had to do with this recipe was chopping an apple. The recipe again was simple to follow and the flavours were powerful. I would even go so far as to say that this was my favourite meal I prepared from the box. The pork was of the highest quality and I would not hesitate to make this recipe again.

The next, and sadly the last, meal to cook was the Tandoori Meatball Curry with Saag Aloo. I’m a huge curry fan and I have never been able to make it at home and enjoy it as much as I have in restaurants so I was excited about this recipe. This had slightly more prep work involved, making the meat balls and chopping up a few things. Still negligible in the grand scene of things. It also was a little more work to prepare from start to finish. The end result was mostly worth it. We LOVED the curry meatballs and rice. The potatoes were good but the least favours item out of the whole box and all three meals.

The biggest thing I noticed about HelloFresh is the quality of the ingredients. From the meat to the herbs to the vegetables everything is of the highest of quality and therefore the highest of taste. That added to the fact that you are getting quick and healthy meals that the whole family will love makes this a no brainer for me. The HelloFresh box lets me take the thinking out of my meal planning allowing me to focus more getting my boys ready for the upcoming school year; and will be a blessing when the hockey season starts.

Try HelloFresh out for yourself with my discount code HELLOJEN8 and get 3 FREE MEALS!

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**Opinions expressed are simply mine and/or my families. This was a sponsored post with conjunction with a HelloFresh campaign, powered by brandbacker.**

Top 5 places to visit in Jasper: With the family.

Living only two short hours away from Jasper we try to get there as often as we can. Hunter lives for the mountains, not that Levi doesn’t but it’s on a completely different level. We still don’t get there nearly as often as we would like, but in the trips, we do manage we have been able to pick some of our favourite places to visit as a family.

Maligne Canyon

(A place I apparently have no pictures of!)

Maligne Canyon is easily considered one of the most interesting canyons in the Rockies. They have a walking path set up so you can walk from the top of the canyon and falls, all the way to the bottom. Or vice-versa. There is a total of 6 bridges the crisscross over and each offers a uniquely magnificent view. The walk does consist of thousands (I’m estimating) of stairs so it can be quite physical but you can park at the top or bottom and do as much or as little as you want. There is also a picnic area available at either end. Maligne Canyon is a place we have visited many times over the years.

Annette Lake

 

 

This is one of our most recent discoveries, we were initially out to find a short hike to do with the boys that was also stroller friendly ish, and as you can imagine the stroller part is difficult, to say the least. Then we stumbled upon this beauty. Not only is the 2.5km path around the lake fully paved so that is both stroller friendly and wheelchair accessible, there are also benches all along the way so people of any fitness level can do it and have plenty of places to rest as well as enjoy the beautiful views. There is also a gorgeous sand beach perfect for playing in the water and laying in the sun. We will be visiting this lake many times in the future.

Sunwapita Falls

 

 

This is a unique set of falls. There is a viewing area which offers a spectacular view of the main falls. There is also a 1km trail that leads to a viewing point of the lower falls. We have only made this trip once, but I highly recommend doing this short hike to see the second falls.

 

Athabasca Falls

 

This is one of the only places I remember visiting as a child and one I continue to visit nearly every time we visit the park. Athabasca falls are the most powerful falls in the Rockies. The water roars and thunders as it falls and if you stand in the right place (or wrong) you’ll be soaked with the spray from the falls. It is truly an experience. The rocks are wet and therefore slippery so do not venture outside o the designated areas.

Whistlers Campground

 

 

The one and only time we actually camped in Jasper this is where we stayed. It is an extremely large campground but is laid out wonderfully and you would never know its size without driving through it. The bathrooms are clean and well kept and just a short walk from wherever your campsite is. There is plenty of wildlife in the area and if you’re lucky you will be able to spot some from your campsite.

The sites and activities to do in Jasper National Park are limitless. I honestly don’t think we will ever have time to see and do it all. These are just the tip of the iceberg and the ones that we have all enjoyed as a family, some on more than one occasion.

What is your favourite thing to do in Jasper?

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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

4 Reasons I put my son in T-Ball.

When I was growing up we didn’t do sports. I remember swimming lessons, a year of gymnastics, and my brothers played a bit of hockey or football. My husband was much the same, a little bit but nothing to carry forward, and nothing to encourage him to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. We are, determined that would not be the case with our own children. So when Levi was three we registered him into soccer, the only sport available for that age. He loved it for the first year, after that he quickly lost interest. At that point, we put him in T-Ball.

 

T-Ball was the way to this boys heart. From the very first time, he hit the ball off the tee he was sold. There was no looking back. All last winter he was checking to see if the snow had melted because he knew that when spring came that was when he got to play ball again.

He recently just completed year two of T-ball and he will be moving up a division onto Mosquito next year. While I am not sure what the coaching or skill level difference there will be between the two here is what we loved about T-Ball:

 

TEAM ENVIRONMENT

Working together to achieve a common goal is a skill that everyone needs to have. While at the T-Ball there is no score keeping it is still a team sport. They work together, and there is the “no man left behind” spirit when they make sure everyone gets a chance at each position.

LEARNING THE BASICS

They are going to learn how to play regardless of what age they start playing, but in T-Ball they learn how to hit a ball without it flying at their face. Fear of getting hit in the face is exactly why I still flinch and often cower when a ball is flying my direction. Towards the end of his second year, they started to try it without the tee, which will be an advantage to next season.

The very first time Levi hit the ball off the tee he didn’t have a clue what to do, when he finally started running he brought the bat with him. This was a similar story for nearly every kid on his team. By the end of the season, you would never know they were the same kids because their skill level and knowledge had increased so much.

TOURNAMENT

We have one local minor ball tournament a year, each team plays the other local teams in the same division, in one jam-packed baseball filled day. Even without score keeping the tournament still, gives them a great idea of what to expect when they move on to the next divisions where they do keep score. While I am not a huge fan of “participation medals” I am a huge fan of anything to keeps kids interested. I really enjoy the tactics they utilized in T-Ball where they do not know everyone gets a medal and they feel like they really earned it.

Last but the most important:

ENJOYMENT

Finding a sport they love is all you probably need to keep them involved in it. while it took a couple attempts before we landed on baseball it seems to be the sport that he loves and wants to keep playing year after year. That being said if the time comes in which he wants t try something else he will absolutely be given the chance.

At the end of the day, the only thing I really care about is that my children are happy. Baseball makes him happy and is one of the few things that can him smile like this:

 

 


What age did you put your kids into organized sports?

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Naptime NatterWhat Katy Said

Baby H: Month 10 & 11

I can’t really wrap my mind around the fact that I have an almost 1-year-old. I am already planning his first birthday party and trying to emotionally accept that my baby will be one. I’ll be fine.

Sleeping: He is going through a phase ( I hope it’s a phase anyway) where he goes to bed at 7 and then just talks to himself for an hour or so before falling asleep. This leads to only about 10 hours worth of sleep a night, and he has also dropped his afternoon nap. The nap is what I am most hoping to get back.

Feeding: Eating is a non-issue with him, he will eat pretty much anything I give to him. He is down to one bottle a day at bed time, and I can see the bottle free days quickly approaching. Hunter was off the bottle at 1 year, and I hope HD will follow suit.

Development:  Well, he is crawling, and sitting, and standing, and taking a few steps around furniture. Once he flattens his got out when he stands he will be on his way to a full run. However, he was so close to crawling for so long before he actually did it so only time will tell. He talks, a lot, and clearly says about 8 words and makes an effort with another half a dozen.

Hunter & Levi: HD thinks that Hunter is the funniest person in the world. Anything that Hunter does quickly invoke a fit of giggles from him. It is incredible to watch. He will copy, or try to, any noise that Levi makes.

Loves:

  • Food, it is his greatest motivator.
  • Water, of any sort, he will literally crawl into icy cold water and just sit there.
  • Walks, now that he can sit up and see everything.
  • Music, he loves to dance.

Hates:

  • Not being able to see what is going on. 
  • Peaches, he still doesn’t like them at all.

Somehow, someway, my baby will be turning one in just under a month. He is growing and learning before our eyes. This will be the last monthly update, while we work towards yearly or milestones. Just another sign my baby is growing.

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A trip to Drumheller: Day two.

If you missed day one you can find it here!

I think my favourite time of any trip is after the kids go to bed, and Blayne and I get to relax on our own, in the quiet. Doing it outdoors around the campfire is something special all on its own.

The next day we headed out early. The first place we headed for the day was the infamous hoodoos. My kids absolutely loved this place. Climbing and running around. Beautiful scenery too. It is much smaller than I had expected, but years of people and weather have led to that. They are still unique and wonderful though. Definitely not stroller friendly, not that we expected it. The “designated” area is quite small but once you venture past there you can spend hours exploring and climbing. We spend about an hour there and we didn’t even make it a fraction of the way to the top.

From there we checked out the Atlas Coal Mine. We actually went there just for the heck of it, we were told there was nothing that we could do with kids under six. While there are only certain things you can do if you’re under the age of 6, there is still a tonne to do here with the younger ones. The pony cart ride and the train ride were by far the most popular for us. We walked the around and viewed the old building, Me and Blayne enjoyed it from a more adult perspective and the boys loved seeing everything. The staff, especially the train conductor, were friendly and super informative. We were there for about 3 hours and would easily have spent more time if we had remembered a picnic, but we had to head back to the campsite for a much-needed lunch.

Because of our poor planning, we ended up backtracking to the Rosedale Suspension Bridge, but it was worth it. Not only is it free it gives you another glimpse into the past. I carried HD across, not something I would want to do on a windy day, and he loved looking at the water. Hunter and Levi would have easily spent all day going back and forth if we were to let them. At the other side, there is plenty of trails that you can hike, we didn’t because we seriously need to invest in a baby carrier of some sort, but I hear you can find smoulder piles that have been smoking for years, so keep an eye out for that!

We did some other general exploring around Drumheller, but our favourite store was easily The Fossil Shop. The items in the store are BEAUTIFUL, which grossly undersells it even. While there some incredibly large and expensive pieces there are plenty of small, gorgeous, unique pieces available as well for a very fair price. I’m confident that there is something there for everyone. The staff is helpful and encourages you to “touch the past.”

Our last stop before starting the 5-hour drive home was at WHIFS Flapjack House. We had breakfast here after being told by numerous people that it was the place to be. When we arrived we were seated quickly, without any wait, a definite plus considering it was quite busy. We all opted for the buffet, in the interest of time, and how we wanted to get headed home. Kids 5 and under are free so we only ended up paying for Blayne’s and mine, which is always a win in my opinion. The food was awesome, the only disappointment is that I took the last flapjack and it still hadn’t been refilled when I was ready for more. Oh well, I probably didn’t need it anyways. The only other con is that there is n change table in the bathroom, which means I ended up changing HD in the truck before hitting the road.

From there we ventured onward. Still talking about the memories we made and the wonderful vacation we had.

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A trip to Drumheller: day one.

Every year for May long weekend we always go camping, always with my brother. This year he was otherwise engaged and we were left to our own devices. It wasn’t until the beginning of May when we finally thought of making the journey to Drumheller, the Dinosaur Capital of the world.

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Surprisingly, with only a few short weeks until the long weekend, and knowing we wanted to camp our options were not as limited as we thought. We ended up making a reservation at Dinos Nest, which is located within the City limits. We stayed at the sister site Dino’s RV Nest. The location is awesome as it seems fairly central when you’re looking at tourist destinations. The lady who we dealt with was incredible and was full of tips and suggestions when we were planning our day. We had a good size green space at our campsite and my kids quickly made friends with the other campers. The playground was a definite hit. We did have to pay for firewood but that is the case in nearly all campgrounds these days and we found the price to be fair. The portable fire pits are ingenious and incredibly handy.

 

 

 

After getting a good nights sleep we started out for a full day of adventuring. First stop, The Worlds Largest Dinosaur! My family loved this. The little ones were thrilled to be “eaten by a dinosaur” and take some awesome pictures for a very reasonable price; 15% of which is donated back to the community. The dinosaur does sway a little in the wind, something Blayne wasn’t fond of, being afraid of heights, but he was still able to enjoy the view. With over 100 steps to the top is a treck, but the journey is worth it. You can also take some cool pictures from the outside absolutely free. There is a gift shop there, however, do yourself a favour and skip it. The Royal Tyrrell has a more reasonably priced one.

 

 

 

From there we headed along the North Dinosaur Trail. Our first stop was The Little Church. It is Little, as the name implied, so little in fact that we nearly drove passed it. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when it was called the little church. It is beautiful, and the history is wonderful. It seats only six people at a time, but it seats them comfortably.

 

 

 

Next up was Horsethief Canyon, another area rich with history and the view is incredible. I never ventured down the path as the were quite steep and I had the boys with me but staying at the top kept them entertained for a bit. I wish we had brought a picnic as it would have been a perfect spot. The boys made friends with some gophers and sat there watching them for a good amount of time. From there we carried onto to the Bleriot Ferry.

 

 

 

The ferry crosses the Red Deer River, and while we have a very similar to one at home so while it wasn’t anything new for us the kids do love it. It takes about 5 minutes or so to cross the river and then you’re on your way.

 

 

 

The next and last stop for us on the trail was the Orkney Viewpoint, just off the beaten path for another incredible lookout. It is gorgeous and I would love to catch is during a sunrise/sunset. The river snakes through beautifully.After the viewpoint we headed back to the campsite for a quick bite to eat; before heading to the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

 

 

 

Hunter and Levi loved the museum, so did we. There were a lot of interactive displays to keep the entertained while we read the information panels. Certainly informative. The staff throughout the museum were full of interesting fact and were happy to answer any questions my boys had to ask. They have an amazing fossil of a Nosodor, in near perfect condition. This is was my absolute favourite exhibit and I highly recommend you take some time here. The gift shop was reasonably priced which both shocked and pleased me. I expected otherwise. This is the gift shop I recommend you buy your souvenirs at.

After a day full of activities we were all ready to head back to the camper. We made a batch of Tacos in a Bag for dinner while the boys made friends with the other kids at the campsite. After dinner (and marshmallows of course) they headed off to bed and Blayne and I enjoyed the rest of our evening and planned what we would do the next day of our dinosaur filled weekend.

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Fat mommy gets fit: throwing away the scale.

I was so confident. I had drunk nothing but water for 6 weeks, I had done an exercise of some sort every single day, and I have tried to control my portions at meal times. I was going to step on that scale and see a big difference. At least 5 pounds. I was ready. I was wrong, I had actually gained 2 pounds.Luckily my grandmother was there to give me a tin of cookies to make me feel better (I never did eat those.)

It wasn’t until my husband, so kindly, reminded me that muscle weighs more than fat. Even though I was losing fat, I was gaining muscle,  specifically in my legs (thank you squats). That’s the moment I decided that I was doing away with the scale. It was only going to disappoint me. I knew I was losing weight, my clothes were a bit looser, and my profile had changed a little when I looked in the mirror. Little changes but still significant to me. But the scale did not reflect those changes. In the disappointment, I experienced it was harder and harder to stay on track with my changes.

I am going to throw away the scale (well not literally, because I don’t actually own one and I just use my uncles when I visit him) and buy myself a measuring tape. I am going to continue with my small and manageable changes so that I don’t fall off the wagon, and I am going to focus on what the tape and my clothes tell me, and not my scale.


So, while I have only lost 3.1 lbs in two months, I have lost the weight where it counts. I may have a long way to go, but already I feel better about myself and at the end of the day I will mark that in the win column.

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My Random MusingsKeep Calm and Carry On Linking SundayPink Pear Bear

Daily photo.

In April I decided to do a daily photo challenge on my Instagram. It was certainly a challenge to find things that suited each day’s themes, however, I powered through. Sometimes I used some “creative interpretation” of what the theme was, but nevertheless, I managed to complete all 30 days.

 

It was fun doing this, and it really was a challenge. However, it forced me to pay more attention to my surroundings in order to find the right picture. I think I will be doing more things like this in the future. You can follow me @madmommyblogger.

 

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Baby H: Month 8 & 9

 

 

9 months old. I missed his last update because I was sick so here is to hoping I can remember everything in this two-month recap.

Sleeping: 12 hours at night, and two 2 hour naps in the day. It is hard-working around his naps, and far top often I have to wake him up, or keep him awake, to get his brothers from school. But school is almost out for the summer and we will be able to plan more accordingly.

 

Feeding: Anything and everything will go into his mouth, not always the best choices, unfortunately. However, it is a huge help when it comes to eating. He will try pretty much anything. He still doesn’t like peaches, and new textures are a big thing for him but once he gets past them he doesn;t usually have an issue.

Development:  He is not technically crawling, but he is mobile. He is also able to pull himself to a stand and to sit himself up. However, he will only do them when nobody is going to see him.

Growth: His weight just over 20 lbs at 9 months old.  He is wearing 9M/6-9M clothing, although not for much longer.

Hunter & Levi: For some reason, he will only ever talk to Levi, real words anyways. He only says Hi to Levi and he will copy other sounds that Levi makes. He will allow Hunter anywhere though.

 

Loves:

  • Food, pretty much anything really.
  • His brothers, for different reasons.
  • Car rides.

Hates:

  • Getting his nose wiped
  • Being contained in any way.

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What the kids say.

I spent the last two weeks smothered with a cold. I’m a total baby when I am sick and I suffer from what most people refer to as a man-cold. I know I am not a man, but I assure you the symptoms are one and the same. With the man-cold came the blogging break and I wasn’t really sure how to get back into it. Until I found this.

I was on Facebook last night I came across a post. The post encouraged us to sit down with our child, ask questions without any prompting, and then to repost the questions and answers along with our child’s name and age. I’ve had a few friends do this and I have always been entertained by the answers so I decided that I would try it with Hunter and Levi. I sat down separately with my older two boys to find out their answers because Hunter tends to just repeat whatever Levi says and I wanted his own opinion.

Here’s how my Q & A went with my 6-year-old and 4-year-old sons

1. What is something I always say to you?
Levi: “Go play in your room.”

Hunter: “Don’t”

2. What makes me happy?
Levi: “When I listen.”

Hunter: “When we do what we’re supposed to do.”

3. What makes me sad?
Levi: “When I have to go somewhere else.”

Hunter: “Giving me trouble.”

4. How do I make you laugh?
Levi: “Tickle me.”

Hunter: “Tickle me.”

5. What was I like as a child?
Levi: “Really good.”

Hunter: “Everything.”

6. How old am I? (I am 27)
Levi: “17” Much better than the 50 he said when I asked him the other day.

Hunter: “7”

7. How tall am I? (I’m 5’ 7”)
Levi: “30 Feet”

Hunter: “50 Feet”

8. What is my favourite thing to do?
Levi: “Go fishing.”

Hunter: “Watch television.”

9. What do I do when you’re not around?
Levi: “Hang out with dad.”

Hunter: “I don’t know.”

10. What am I really good at?
Levi: “The Lego Batman game.”

Hunter: “Exercising.”

11. What is something I’m not good at?
Levi: “Zelda.”

Hunter: “Painting nails.”

12. What do I do for a job?
Levi: “Take care of me.”

Hunter: “Nothing.”

13. What is my favourite food?
Levi: “Ham.”

Hunter: “Everything.”

14. What do you enjoy doing with me?
Levi: “Having picnics.”

Hunter: “Going to get ice cream.”

While that was the end of the “official” list I decided to expand.

15. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Levi: “Like dad.” Awww.

Hunter: “Power Ranger.”

16.  If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Levi: “Flying.”

Hunter: “Power Rangers don’t have super powers.” Of course, they don’t,

17. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen?

Levi: “The chicken dance.”

Hunter: “All the dinosaurs together.”

18. Can you name one thing that scares you?

Levi: “Nothing.”

Hunter: “Ghosts.”

19. What do you do when you’re scared to make it less scary?

Levi: “Close my eyes.”

Hunter: “Tell people.”

20. Would you rather give up TV, chocolate or friends?

Levi: “Chocolate.”

Hunter: “My friends.”

 

21. What is the most disgusting thing you can think of?

Levi: “Brown beans”

Hunter: “Carrots and broccoli, and brussels sprouts, and salad.” As you can tell he’s not a fan of vegetables.

22. What is the first thing you can remember?

Levi: “When Sakira died.” Sakira is our dog that passed away 18 months ago, this was a huge moment in Levi’s life but it has more to do with other things that happened at the same time and this is what he is subconsciously holding on to. 

Hunter: “Going to the spray park.”

23. If you could change one rule, what would it be?

Levi: “not being able to watch a movie whenever I want.”

Hunter: “Having to clean up.”

24. What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard?

Levi: “There was a real bumblebee.”

Hunter: “Superman.” I feel like this was influenced by the fact the Supergirl was playing in the background.

 

At the end of this, I feel like I have a much better idea of what my kids think; not only of me but of myself. Have you ever done anything like this with your kids?

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