Family Vacation: Banff, Canada (+ tips for traveling with a toddler)

Banff, Canada. The most picturesque place I have ever visited. Hands down. I don’t even have a top three that compares. This place has views that make you wonder if I just stood in front of a picture and made someone hold my camera for a shot.

Seeing Lake Louise in front of us while my family and I did tea time at the Fairmont was the highlight of the trip. The views that just surrounded us on the daily made it tough to leave- there is just no place that compares. Lake Minnewanka, Grassi Lakes Trail, Johnston Canyon, and even a gondola ride up to the tree tops had us in awe.

You guys, you need to go- you just do. My sister said it best, this is her #happyplace. I can totally see why.

Banff is for real people, let me count the ways:

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Although traveling with a toddler was challenging, it helps to have family members that you trust that are willing to help so you can have a breather. I don’t know if I would recommend this particular trip for a 1-2 year old just because (1) they probably won’t remember it and (2) they aren’t at the age where you can do a trail or hike and have him/her walk with you.

Here are some basic tips to make it a bit easier:

  • Rent equipment so you don’t have to lug it from home. We rented a stroller from One Tiny Suitcase (which also came with a booster seat for restaurants and at the hotel) which totally helped. We thought about bringing an umbrella stroller and I’m pretty sure we would’ve thrown it out the first day.
  • If you can swing it, stay at a resort where there is a dining area and activities during the day. Unfortunately the place we looked at was booked for months so we stayed at a beautiful hotel that had its own kitchen. While it totally helped, room service, a dining room and activities inside the hotel would’ve made it easier.
  • Pack toys and comfort items for your little one. We brought her favorite stuffed animals, books, bath toys and extra blankets (the hotel has a pack ‘n play and the padding on it is a joke.
  • Bring more clothes than you need. Two outfits a day is what we did and we totally used them. Our little one was drinking so much water that she would leak through her diapers almost everyday. Wardrobe change!

She did get her passport stamped and is a world traveler now, so there’s something.

I am grateful for my parents that have built this family that is undeniably wonderful and thank them for such an incredible experience. Banff, Canada- I’ll see you soon.

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Happy Birthday Olivia!

 

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Our little one has made it a year. I can’t even believe it.

As much as I’d like to take the credit for keeping our little one alive, sick-free and happy for a whole 12 months, I didn’t do it alone. We are a team. We’ll always be a team.

So here’s what I have to say to you, my little one, on your first birthday:

I never, in a million years, felt my heart so full as when we brought you home. Your tiny hands trying to hold on to my finger, hanging on my every move and trusting your tiny, 3lb. body with me to protect, comfort and introduce you to this new scary world. I made it my job to be everything you needed and took the role of “Mama Bear” like it was the most important job.

When we would spend hours of the day together and I wondered whether you knew who I was, you gave me your first real smile. When you wanted to put a word together to communicate with us, you said “Mama”. When you discovered your hands and feet and wanted to show me, you touch your thumb and finger for “Itsy Bitsy Spider” as I had done with you since you were a couple months old. I’ll never forget that.

When you got excited and wanted to use your hands, you start to clap. You learned to roll over and crawl so you could explore the world at full speed. You try to make sounds into words to communicate with us. You take such great interest in little details of things that make me stop and admire them the way that you do.

Now that you’re crawling like crazy, blowing and giving kisses, waving and making all kinds of funny sounds, I feel more connected with you than ever. Although you’re growing up way too fast for my heart, the best part about that is that it’s only the beginning.

I’ll tell you again as I told you when you were born, I promise to be your advocate and protector. I still feel like the luckiest woman to be your mommy.

You make me so happy. Happy birthday little one.

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Baby Stations

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Before Kids: Master Bedroom, Living Room and Baby Room

After Kids: Station #1, Station #2, Baby Room (Station #3)

Walk into our house and there should be no question we have a kid. Our living room is packed with books, bead mazes and so many things that play music, sing songs and flash an obscene amount of lights. We know all the songs on the Playskool drum activity station (“yeah yeah!”) and VTech walker (“welcome to our learning farm, we have much to show you!”) it’s almost sad. But our little one loves it and it keeps her entertained without staring at a TV so we roll with it.

Our day consists of going from baby station to baby station, up and down the stairs, with 2 breaks for naps. I hear the songs when they aren’t playing and know the books by memory (Brown Bear, Brown Bear anyone?). With all of that, I’m still amazed of how much our little one learns everyday and how much more she can can do today than she did yesterday.

When she goes to sleep at night and I start winding down from the day, I look at these toys and look forward to what new skill she’ll figure out tomorrow. Until then, I enjoy the silent break.

 

Then I lay my head on the pillow and my mind says:

“welcome to our learning farm, we have much to show you…”