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Santa + Christmas At Chinook

Last Monday, we headed to Chinook Centre to finish up our Christmas shopping and more importantly, go visit Santa.  Visiting Chinook at Christmas time is one of my favourite holiday activities.  Every year there is something familiar and something fresh and new.  

We parked near the Old Navy entrance in the parkade and when we entered you could see the flying reindeer as soon we walked up the ramp and the girls were pumped and full of excitement.  It was gonna be a long few hours before it was our time to meet Santa.  Thankfully he was on his supper break and the girls couldn't sneak a peak and make it worse haha.

Finley was disappointed that they took away their Santa telescope this year but I think this tree more then made up for it.  The lights change and flash and is so tall and just completely amazing.  We saw a bunch of amazing trees when we were at Disneyland last holiday season but this is pretty close to how spectacular those were.  You can go up to the second level by the food court and see the top of the tree up close.  It was pretty fantastic. 

These ceramic like animals have become a holiday tradition at Chinook.  I don't know if they are always in the same spot but I am pretty sure they are.  These have always been a favourite of the girls.  

When we turned the corner and saw this, it reminded me of the light parade in Disneyworld back in 2008 and Cinderella's pumpkin float.  Cinderella is my favourite and so I very much loved this.  The girls did not make this connection at all.  They both loved this one though and it was definitely a photo opp favourite amongst the shoppers.  

I was very happy that we chose to visit Chinook Centre on a Monday night because it was super dead and we didn't have many people photobombing our photos.  This one is another new favourite and it is outside the old Target location on the lower level.  Seriously the light up animals are just ridiculously awesome.  

Finally it was time to go see Santa Claus!  We had booked an appointment online several weeks in advance to see him on a Monday night because Monday's are always are soccer free night and it worked well for our schedule.  Chinook still accepts walk up visits and when I asked about the ratio, one of the helpers told me that the majority of their visits are walk ups and that they only book 6 appointments per hour ahead of time.  She also told me that they see the same name numerous times over different dates and times because some didn't know when they could make it so took advantage of the system to take up multiple spots.  Even though this had been done, they still have to treat it like every reservation is coming and have to close the lines to people who do show up and wait.  I hate people like that.  They have a great waiting area once you check in.  They have colouring and lego for kids and "elves" to keep the kids happy while waiting. 

They also have an amazing seating area for parents and adults waiting to get their photos taken with Santa Claus.  Interestingly enough when we were there more adults waiting to see Santa then children haha.  We got into see Santa 4 minutes earlier then our appointment and there was no line up otherwise so Monday's might be the night to go if you don't want line ups.

They took a few photos of the girls and this is the one that I chose.  I wish it went the other way though because then it would have fit in my Christmas frame my aunt got me years ago.  I love the chair fabric and the rustic decor very much.  

After they took the Santa photos, the girls had a good chat with Santa about their christmas lists: Finley wants the ski lift lego friends set, a dream catcher and either emoji lego and a really cool science kit.  Santa said the first 2 were easy but man those last 2 are tough haha.  Emoji lego doesn't exist and "he" can't find a science kit that isn't junk.....send all ideas to Santa haha.  Penelope asked Santa for a size 5 pink nike soccer ball (she was precise haha), The Belle lego castle, and a poop emoji unicorn pillow.  Hers was much easier then her sisters haha. 

And instead of candy canes after their visit from Santa, they got these stuffy frozen things.  One is named Shiver and I don't remember the other ones name but the girls LOVED these so much.  I was hoping for a candy cane so I could steal a bite of it or 2.  

All in all, it was a successful night at Chinook Centre visiting with Santa and getting to see all of the Christmas displays without crazy crowds of people.  We also finished all of our christmas shopping...or at least I thought I did at the time hahaha. If you are around for the holidays, make sure you add check out the Chinook Centre displays to your list!

XC Skiing At Lake Louise's Great Divide

A few weeks ago Greg bought himself some cross country skis and boots and went skiing at Maple Ridge Golf Course a few times when we still had some snow and the girls were quite upset that they didn't get any skis for themselves.  So Greg started skewering kijiji and soon enough we found some skis and boots for both girls all for a combine $205.  Last it was just me without skis and Greg tried to find some locally or on kijiji but none was to be found or if we did they were way far north and sold pending pickup.  We did find a pair online at Sportchek but more on that later. 

The girls were anxious to use their skis but unfortunately we still have no snow in Calgary or in Bragg Creek.  Banff also has none but somehow, Lake Louise has a lot of snow.  It is kinda funny driving down the highway because Banff is like Calgary and then about 15km out of it, we suddenly hit winter.  The trees and everything looked so pretty but I am glad it is there and not here.  I don't like snow and as far as I am concerned, the snow is right where it is supposed to be - in the mountains!

Greg had done some research online and decided that we would do the Great Divide Trail that was the turnoff right by the hotel and actual lake.  If you have been to Lake Louise in the winter and have driven by where all the dog sleds are and remember their location, that is where the trail begins.  The girls were a little nervous but were excited to give it a try. 

When Greg was trying to get the girls going, Finley did the splits and Penelope was doing ok.  I assumed this would be the case because Penelope is just more naturally athletic then basically all of us haha but Finley was the far more superiors xc skier. 

Penelope was way ahead of us for most of the trek.  I only ever caught up to her when she fell.  Which was about 20 - 30 times.  I lost count haha. I was able to keep close enough to her so I could keep an eye on her since there was a bear warning in the area, believe it or not.  It is a very busy xc ski trail so that alone should keep the bears away for the most part.  I ended up renting a pair of skis because the pair we ordered online from Sportchek came used.  The skis were so used that the pale yellow color on the one side had completely worn off so they looked like 2 different skis and then the bottom of the skis were so damaged.  It was awful.  Greg was not happy and so he emailed them and told them that they arrived damaged.  I think they thought that they were damaged in the delivery of them so they just sent Greg a return slip for free returns.  Given the condition of the skis, he was not happy with this and took photos to send to the customer service rep.  They replied back later the next day and were horrified with what they saw and told us to return the skis for a full return plus they would give us a credit at sportchek for the full amount to put towards a new pair of skis.  They were very apologetic and were going to do a full investigation to why the store that shipped these skis would do so in that condition.  They have finally arrived as I write out this post and will use them on Friday ( the day you are reading this) when we go back out to the mountains for some more skiing.  The new ones are very pretty hahah

Finley really liked xc skiing even if she fell so many times.  The reason she fell so many times was because she wouldn't pay attention to her skis and then they would get tangled up in front of her and then she would fall.  One time she fell in front of a season skier who taught her how to get back easily and after that she was able to get back up in no time. 

Whenever we go hiking or skiing or biking we go to the bulk section of Superstore and get to pick out a treat.  Finley's favourite is blue whales  but she hasn't had any in more then 6 months because of her braces but she got those off the previous Monday and was so excited to eat these.  I bet it was then highlight of her day haha. 

Most of the time, Finley and I were way ahead of Greg and Penelope.  Every once in awhile I could hear Penelope but not see her.  Finally I made Finley stop and wait for me so that we could let Greg and Penelope catch up with us.  I wasn't sure if we were going to go all the way to the lake and Great Divide hotel or not.  For reasons I don't quite understand, Penelope kept crouching down like this.  I think she really wants to be a downhill skier haha. In fact I know she does because when we finished she told us so haha. 

Penelope also had fallen a lot and shockingly more then Finley did.  Her problem was that she got going too fast and then lost all form and control and fell.  She liked skiing in the grooves while Finley and I didn't really like that.  We preferred skiing in the middle.  

Round trip from the parking lot to the lake and back is just under 10km.  We finished at about 6.04km  out and back.  Greg and the girls stopped at one point with the backpacking stove and had hot tang but I just kept skiing back to the car because my boots were starting to rub on my ankles a lot and it hurt a tremendous amount.  I couldn't wait to get back to the car and get the boots off.  About 30 minutes later, they showed up and we headed to Starbucks in Banff before going back home.  We definitely overdressed for the occasion but it felt so cold when we got there.  I would definitely dress differently next time.  Less layers haha.  If you ever get the opportunity to go xc skiing, give it a go!

The Florizone Family Christmas Tree - Take 2

So you may have remembered last week a post about the christmas tree that we cut down and then decorated and how much I hated it.  If you don't or didn't read it, you can check it out here.  

This is (or was) our main floor christmas tree.  But I hated it so much.  Mostly the lights I hated which is weird since pink is my favourite color.  Greg thinks that if our walls weren't red that it would look better.  Perhaps he is right but we won't know for sure until Christmas 2019 because we are painting in the new year and in 2018 we will have our fake tree haha. 

So on Saturday after Penelope's soccer game, we stopped at Home Depot (they had the best price on lights according to the internet) and bought some warm white lights. 

Nobody wanted to help undecorated the tree even though nobody really liked the pink lights so I did it all by myself. 

It took a long time to get all of the lights and ornaments off the tree but I finally got it done with the help of my trusty kitchen stool that has clearly seen better days haha. 

I got the lights on the tree and it took way longer then i thought it would.  It was a lot of work getting them all around the tree.  My arms are only so long haha. 

Finally I got the whole tree decorated - just in time to head to Finley's soccer game haha.  I still don't love the tree but the lights make a huge improvement for sure. 

And the tree looks so much better in the dark then the pink tree did.  There was no glow with the pink lights.  The lights are still not perfect as you can see from this photo.  I would love them to be consistent throughout the tree but stringing lights on a tree is hard and the  branches are not consistent like a fake tree is.  I still think that I prefer a fake tree to a real tree any day of the year.  And even if this tree dies before xmas, I am not undecorating and redecorating another tree this year haha. 


November By The Numbers - Sweat Edition

I had high hopes for November and started out really strong but my achilles injury reared its ugly face again and I didn't get the numbers I wanted.....but that being said, they are still better then October!

36.56 - km ran in November
30.16 - more km ran this month then October
9 - days ran
700 - km was my goal for 2017
832.57 - is the amount of km ran so far 
132.57 - the amount above my goal!!  (so mad that i injured my achilles)

1 - new pair of shoes broken in 
680 - approximate number of km on my previous shoes
3 - half marathons in the old shoes
8 - th pair of runners purchased since I started running back in November 2013

1 - half marathon registered for in October
2 - half marathons registered for in 2018
23 - days between the two half marathons 

5 - bootcamps attended 
3 - missed because of orthodontal + doctor appointment for Finley 
1  - missed because I was just being lazy

6 - days biked 
5 - on the bike trainer
125 - minutes on bike trainer

1 - early morning bike ride 
15 - minutes long

4 - core workouts 
5 - home workouts

14 - days stretched 
11 - days of strengthening 

Although I didn't meet all my goals for November and my achilles started hurting again the last week of the month, I am still pretty happy with what I accomplished.  December is a busy month with so many christmas parties, concerts, soccer and the holidays so it will definitely be a challenge to get all my workouts and runs in but I am just going to work hard and focus on getting 100% healthy and ready for 2018.  

Do you have any last minute goals for 2017??

Friday Favorites #9: Christmas Edition

Christmas is my favourite season of the year.  I love decorating for it, I love buying presents for others, I love hosting people in my home, I love seeing how excited my girls get for it too!!  It is just such a fun time of the year for everybody!!  The first Christmas edition of Friday Favorites is dedicated to some of my random favourites.  The only theme is Christmas!!!

1.  I was so happy to finally have a good selection of all kinds of glasses.  I had a great selection of wine glasses and coffee mugs but no drinking glasses.  Last year, I found 4 tall and 4 small ones from Walmart for $5 each.  You can't see them because they are behind the super cool ones I bought at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon last Christmas.  These ones were a bit more expensive and cost me $5 per glass and that was at half price too!!  I was so excited to pull them out this season and use them.  Well Greg and the girls used 2 tall ones and a small one for some egg nog and I looked at them and the only sticker on the bottom was the price so I stuck them in the dishwasher.  When I went to unload my dishwasher, I couldn't figure out what the red sticky stuff was stuck in the filter of my dishwasher and in the cutlery section.  And then I pulled out those glasses and there was literally nothing left of the wording on them.  I was gutted but at least I have one left that says Merry Christmas Eh and of course the Walmart ones that are dishwasher friendly!!

2.  I bought this mug last October from Chapters online and I used it religiously for cold walks to school and early morning soccer games and technical sessions.  It was simple and pretty and just my favourite to use.  But on the day we were driving back to Saskatoon, I was carrying it to the car and it somehow dropped out of my hand and landed on the floor of my garage and dumped tea everywhere and even worse it had cracked my travel mug.  Greg thought we would be able to fix it so I left it and sadly made my way to Saskatoon without it.  When we returned home a few days later, it was determined that it could not be fixed and I was so sad.  A quick search online showed me that it was no longer available on the chapters website which made me sad again.  I had to return a gift to Chapters and as I was walking to the till, they had one left all by itself on a shelf.  It had been reduced down to $15 and I was happy and even better was that when I went to pay for it, it had been reduced even further to $9.  It was an after christmas miracle. 

3.  I love Christmas mugs and tend to rotate each year.  The filthy animal is been here for 3 christmases and has no chance of ever leaving unless I break it but all the others are new for this season.  I sold my old ones and purchased new ones.  I broke my disney christmas mug that I bought in disneyland so I was happy to find a vintage looking one at the disney store to replace it.  The red one I found at Chapters and it is currently $7 online and the Christmas Tree one is from Starbucks.  I searched high and low for this one and only found it at the safeway nearest to my house.  I did buy another one from Starbucks but it doesn't feel christmasy to me so i put it with my every day mugs.  The Bahumbug + Naughty ones are Rae Dunn mugs.  Naughty has nice on the other side so i ti super cute!  

4.  I really love my Christmas centrepiece.  Every year the girls and I go to Michaels and they pick out something to add to it.  This year we added the white puff ball thingy and a  blue one that is kinda pushed down.  They looked so cute and we were happy with our arrangement even if it does err on the side of tackiness.  However, it turns out Pizza also loves the puff balls and the white one was destroyed with in days.  The blue one is still kicking around but every time I put it back in the vase, Pizza manages to steal it and i find it in random places around my house. 

The Florizone Family Christmas Tree

Two years ago, we started a new tradition where we would finally stay in Calgary for the holidays and that when we were home, we would cut down a real tree and have that in our family room instead of an artificial tree.  Last time, we did it through the Junior Forest Ranger program which is a really good thing they have going on.  However, this year, we printed out a permit for $5, which is good for 3 trees, and headed down highway 22 and then 66 looking for that perfect Christmas tree.  We ended up parking in the parking lot for Moose Mountain and trying our luck there.

Despite having no snow back home, which was 20 minutes away, there was tons of snow in Elbow Valley.  It was really warm though and Finley was completely overdressed for the occasion haha. 

This was the first tree we came across and joked that it would be the perfect tree for Luci and Pizza haha. 

We came across a few almost good ones but they were either already turning brown or missing big chunks of tree.

So we kept looking and climbing.

Then came back down and looked some more 

But then we finally found it.  It actually didn't take that long to find it haha.   Like maybe 20 minutes from start to finish. 

So the girls watched as Greg started to saw the tree down.  He did make the girls + me  move for safety reasons of course.

But not before I took a photo of him taking the tree down haha. 

The girls were really excited to carry the tree back to the car, which ironically wasn't very far haha. We just took the long way to get it. 

If you follow me on any form of social media, you will have noticed that this year I bought Greg a christmas ornament of a car carrying a christmas tree.  It was a similar style car to his but it was yellow instead of green.  Canadian Tire didn't have any green but the yellow was close.  I thought it was perfect considering we were staying home this year and cutting down a tree.

We made it home and got it in the house after Greg trimmed it.  It turns out it was still too tall for our house so Greg had to do some more trimming.  If you are wondering why the tree looks so differently then the photo up above a bit, it's because it was kinda attached to another tree.  We should have cut both trees down haha.

yay the star fits!!

Greg trying to get the lights just right.  We didn't have any indoor lights so Greg found some random pink lights we bought at Target years ago just sitting in the garage so we used those instead haha.  It is a good thing that I switched out all of my ornaments last year for brightly coloured ones instead of my traditional red and natural looking ones because it definitely wouldn't have worked out.  

Penelope probably did the most decorating out of all of us.  She was really enjoying doing it all too. 

I don't think Pizza remembers all of this from last year but he seems to be staying away from the tree as far as i can see.  Both cats were playing around it Monday morning and a ornament fell of the tree and scared the crap out of her haha. Hopefully she stays out of the tree this year haha.

This is our tree in the daylight.  I hate it but I can't figure out how to make me not hate it.  I have no interest in restringing the lights and you can't find matching ones to add more and so it has been really frustrating.  I told Greg Sunday night that while I liked the idea of a real tree, i hated the idea of aesthetically.  I think when we do this again in 2 years, it will be the tree for upstairs and my fake tree will hang out down here where it all looks more cohesive and consistent.  There is no tree lit up in the dark photo because I hate it even more that way.  Despite my love for the color pink, I am hating on these pink lights.  But the girls and Greg love it and that's what matters most.  Right??