The Zoo - Do Feed The Animals

With the big flood in Calgary last month and it's devastating effect on the Calgary Zoo, I thought I'd have to put my zoo summer plans on the back-burner  Then London happened


Darling Penguins

My SIL and I decided to pack our 5 kids and spend a day in the London zoo. It was hot and sweltering and between us, we probably lost 5lbs worth of water-weight and I gained a few nuggets to add to my Twin Parenting 101 Handbook on the topic of visiting the zoo with toddlers

  1. Numbers: Have a nice kid-to-adult ratio. 2 women + 5 kids just about worked. Any more and we'd probably have lost a kid
  2. Corral: There should be a means of corralling ALL kids under 4 - either a backpack harness or a stroller. We opted for strollers for the girls and their 3 year old cousin. The older boys could walk. TIP: Unless you have super-strong shoulder muscles, do not do this with a wagon. I tried the 50+lbs of children in a wagon dance and it was not a pretty experience. 
  3. Conveyance: To drive or not to drive? Depends on the size of the group and how much the zoo charges for parking (some charges are outrageous) vs the cost of a taxi
  4. $$$$: Y'all know I'm all about saving the Benjamins. DO NOT buy tickets at the gate. Check the zoo website for ticket deals and discounts and buy in advance. Just doing this step saved us $70 in admission costs and also meant we could bypass the ticket line-up
  5. Feed: Don't feed the animals. Do feed the kids every 45 minutes. The hungry kid-angry kid formula holds true for the zoo as well. Plan on a bag filled with favorite snacks plus at least a bottle of water per person. TIP: If you are the designated snack packer do confirm what ALL the kids like to eat. I packed a bag filled with all of the girls' favorites assuming their cousins would like the same foods. I was wrong!
Cousins enjoying the water thingie by the bird place
How did it go? The kids had too much fun.The girls are now at the age where they recognize a lot of animals and can actually be excited to see them. 

I'm making good progress with this summer list thingie. How about yourself? One month of summer's already gone!






The list!
  • Visit the Calgary zoo Went to the London Zoo instead
  • Find ducks to feed in Calgary
  • Visit Spruce Meadows and look at horses - Saw horses at the Calgary Stampede
  • Have weekly after-work/school dates with the girls - Ongoing
  • Go to Calgary Stampede grounds - Watched the chuck wagon races
  • Visit a water-park type place (anywhere the girls can wear swimsuits and have a splash)
  • Go to the top of the Calgary Tower
  • Watch a live show with the girls - Does the zoo penguin show count?
  • Have family outdoor photo shoot 
  • Have a barbecue on our patio
  • Go on a family roadtrip and vacation 
  • Visit or have a playdate with someone new - Do cousins we've never met before count?
  • Attend cycling classes and ride bicycles outside
  • Go for gym or dance class for tots
  • Eat ALL the veggies we get from our CSA - Not doing too shabby so far

Flying with the CARES harness

It seems like only yesterday that I packed myself, toddler twins, a double stroller, a bag filled with everything-but-kitchen-sink and bravely embarked on a 5 hour flight to New Jersey from Calgary. I learnt a lot on that trip. With the memory so fresh, you would think that a rational person with a fully functioning "church mind"* would not do that again. Well... I didn't.

I broke my own records. This time I embarked on a 9 hour flight from Calgary to London. I couldn't pass up on an opportunity for the girls to see their grandma (who last saw them when they were 5 months old) who was visiting London from Nigeria. To be honest, the 2 flights went way better than I expected and one of the things that made a difference compared to the New Jersey trip was that now the girls were big enough to use the CARES harness.

Without further ado, here's my comparison of flying with a car seat versus a CARES harness.


Was the trip worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? It all depends on where my church mind* is at.


*church mind: a Nigerian slang meaning common sense resulting in good behaviou. The kind that church-going people are supposed to show. An alternative slang is "good head"

Further Resources
-  Information on the CARES harness can be found on the manufacturer's website. 
-  I purchased the 2 CARES harnesses I used for the trip from Kacz Kids in Calgary. I believe the harness is available from most specialty baby stores and online from Amazon.com (read reviews to get other opinions)
- You can check out some other impressions on the carseat vs CARES harness on the parenting forums here and here

Flunking Out of Cycling Classes

"Attend cycling classes and ride bicycles outside"

That was one of my summer goals for the girls. I've had dreams of signing the girls up for a myriad of activities but my working hours and the challenge of 2 tots-to-1 adult ratio severely limited my options. With that, I was excited to see that I could actually sign the girls up for Pedalheads Cycling Course.

We bought the bikes, got helmets, TwinDad and I made arrangements to leave work early and we were pumped for the first class. Ah ha! Missed the part where the class actually involves a young instructor getting a bunch of 2-3 year olds to follow instructions while on their bikes. That so did not happen! The girls did everything but follow the instructions. At the end of the day, the instructor(s) were frazzled and so was I. 

Next day, the girls were sorta napping and I decided to "skip" the cycling class. And the day after. And the day after that too. In the end, our one week of cycling classes ended up being one day of twin-parenting experience-to-remember for mama. 

Biker Tot practicing at home

Here's what I learnt from that  

  • 3 is the magic number. A lot of the classes I had looked at had 3 as the minimum age and I thought they were being unfair. Now I get it. I think when it comes to group activities, there's a world of difference between two and a half and three year olds. I'm going to wait until the girls are well beyond 3 years old before even thinking of swimming or dance classes
  • Divide and conquer: I think we would have got more out of the classes if we split the girls up and only one of them attended at a time. The lure of having their perpetual playmate with them was too irresistible. It was easy for the two of them to dream up mischief and dare each other to do things. Next time I sign them up for a class, I'll consider having just one of them in the class at any point in time
  • Practice  makes perfect: I realised I could have prepared the girls for what was going to happen by practicing with them at home and explaining the process in a way they could understand. We practiced wearing the helmets so that they were comfortable with them and knew to keep them on. Shoulda riding under instruction as well. It was a bit naive of me to expect that they would be in a new situation and just know how to fall in line. 

And with those lessons learnt, I crossed another item off the summer list. If you've ever had classes with 2+ year old twins, any nuggets of wisdom to share with me for next time we try this?

The Summer Fun List!
  • Visit the Calgary zoo
  • Find ducks to feed in Calgary
  • Visit Spruce Meadows and look at horses
  • Have weekly after-work/school dates with the girls - Ongoing
  • Go to Calgary Stampede grounds
  • Visit a water-park type place (anywhere the girls can wear swimsuits and have a splash)
  • Go to the top of the Calgary Tower
  • Watch a live show with the girls
  • Have family outdoor photo shoot 
  • Have a barbecue on our patio
  • Go on a family roadtrip and vacation 
  • Visit or have a playdate with someone new
  • Attend cycling classes and ride bicycles outside
  • Go for gym or dance class for tots
  • Eat ALL the veggies we get from our CSA (ok I'm totally dreading this one)

Outdoor Photo Shoot: Check!

Having an outdoor family photo session was one of my 2013 summer dreams and I booked one to coincide with the girls' half birthday. I got the pictures yesterday and I think I'm officially on my way to having a girl crush on Rosie of Little Laughs Photography - our photographer extraordinaire. 

Every session's photos are better than the last and she makes me appreciate the importance of capturing memories is a very pretty format. Thanks Rosie, you rock.

This is one of my favorites - check out the twin dynamics captured. 

Sugar: "I wuv you sista"
Spice: "Get your smackers off me girl!"




Outdoor photo shoot: Check!

The list!
  • Visit the Calgary zoo
  • Find ducks to feed in Calgary
  • Visit Spruce Meadows and look at horses
  • Have weekly after-work/school dates with the girls - Ongoing
  • Go to Calgary Stampede grounds
  • Visit a water-park type place (anywhere the girls can wear swimsuits and have a splash)
  • Go to the top of the Calgary Tower
  • Watch a live show with the girls
  • Have family outdoor photo shoot 
  • Have a barbecue on our patio
  • Go on a family roadtrip and vacation 
  • Visit or have a playdate with someone new
  • Attend cycling classes and ride bicycles outside
  • Go for gym or dance class for tots
  • Eat ALL the veggies we get from our CSA (ok I'm totally dreading this one)
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