The Long Game and Exercise DVDs

It’s been a busy week for contributing at other sites.

Moms Magazine just published The Long Game.  Parenting doesn’t get easier, it just changes. Moving on from the baby years and raising kids with the long game in mind.

For those who want to get fit, but gradually start plotting an elaborate plan to “take out” the instructor on home workout dvds, fear not. My recent post A Workout DVD for the Rest of Us was shared at What the Flicka (while you’re there, check out some other funny posts from some pretty witty ladies).

Thanks for reading – you guys are the best.

Riding the Waves in Winter

A Weekend Warm Up at Niagara Falls’ Americana

It’s been a long, cold winter here. So cold that as we left the house for our most recent road trip I was asked, “if your penis falls off from frostbite, can you grow a new one?”

Yes, it was that cold.

What is a good, hearty-ish Canadian family to do (on a budget) to get a break from the constant indoor recesses and mad dashes to and from the van? Any more long days stuck together enjoying each other’s company could start to turn ugly.

A short trip out of town to an indoor waterpark is just what the meteorologist / Travel Bureau of Ontario ordered. And so we did.

Destination: Americana, Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls has several indoor waterpark resorts from which to choose. They vary in accommodations, amenities, and price range. A few years ago we took our then six and four-year-old sons to the Americana Resort. We were expecting our fourth son and wanted to get away for some special time with the oldest two. Do not feel badly for the third-born, he had Grandma and Grandpa exclusively to himself all weekend.

We had a great time back then, so when we decided to take the whole family, the choice to return there was easy. It is a great entry-level park. They have a variety of features including a wave pool, four slides, splash pad for water play, and a wading pool spot for the younger family members. There’s a hot tub, but unfortunately I did not get to try it out because the first visit I was pregnant and this time there were too many kids to track. Towels and lifejackets are readily available, so no need to pack those extras.

More Than Just a Pool

Our room had two queen-size beds and a pull-out couch so all six of us could sleep in comfort. The boys pleaded their cases as to why Mom and Dad should get the couch but we pulled rank, so at least four of us were happy (my apologies to the youngest two, but they were the least likely to appreciate a comfy bed, and yes, they slept just fine. Mostly).

Must be broken, weird.

Must be broken, weird.

Standard in every room are the usual coffee maker, mini-fridge, hair dryer, etc. The fridge and microwave came in handy since we brought food for a lunch, breakfast, and snacks. This also helped us with our bottom line (kids eat a lot).

The entrance to the waterpark is through the arcade. Yes, it is very much like Las Vegas for kids. The trick it to never start putting the coins in the machines.

Anticipation, Amenities, and TV Angst

Everyone had a great time, and as usual, the excitement began well before we even left the driveway. The boys all had their bags packed two days prior to departure. When he spotted juice boxes in the cooler, the five-year-old cried out, “this is the best day EVER!” We all agreed it was going to be one of our favourite experiences, that is until the same five-year-old began reading all the house numbers out loud. After we shut that down, he thought we’d all appreciate a constant update on the speedometer, “120…117…121…”

As we pulled into Niagara Falls, the oldest two read aloud various signs: “Oh, heart-shaped jacuzzies,” “heeeey, efficiency sweeties,” “are we staying in a sweetie?” “It’s pronounced “suite” and no, we’re not millionaires.

Shhh...we're busy watching the security camera channel.

Shhh…we’re busy watching the security camera channel.

The hotel TV did not function like Netflix which caused much angst for our youngest son, “WHY CAN’T YOU SKIP THIS? SKIP. IT.” He also couldn’t understand why the TV didn’t cater to his personal viewing needs, “I said I want to watch ’Sponge Bob’”. Once he realized he had to deal with commercials or we would turn it to the French-only channel, he simmered down.

But Wait, There’s More

Staying overnight in a hotel is very educational. Did you know there is no escaping a fart in a hotel room? Truth. Also, no one will own up to it, but many a finger will be pointed.

Fun fact: if a five-year-old says he packed extra underwear, he’s lying. Related note: hotel room heaters dry clothing remarkably quick. And yes, your mom is a genius.

Maybe not all hotels have this feature, but apparently the dresser in our room smelled exactly like Grandma and Grandpa. It remains unclear if they meant that my parents smell like a bureau or their house does, I was too busy trying to brew a tiny pot of coffee to seek clarification.

Parting Wisdom

A word of advice if you stay at the Americana in Niagara Falls: take the roll pillows and hide them before you even let your kids in the room. I spent approximately 1/3 of our time there uttering threats through clenched teeth for them to “stooooop iiiiiiit” because:IMG_8247

Anything can be a weapon if you just try hard enough

Bottom line: this was better than camping and I almost have all the chlorine rinsed out of my hair.

More Oreo in Review

I like Oreos.

When Oreo Double Stuff was introduced, adrenaline coursed through my eight-year-old veins. When I learned that US Oreo fans have access to dozens of flavours that are not stocked on Canadian shelves, I was moved to write a letter to Mr. Christie himself. Sadly, I have not heard back from Mr. Christie nor an Oreo representative. I’d settle for a tweet.

Bubble wrapped to maintain cookie integrity

Bubble wrapped to maintain cookie integrity

Don’t worry, this has not stopped me from trying those cookie sandwich treats. Once friends caught wind of this injustice, packages of Oreos started flooding in. Some arrived via friends who had travelled across the border, while others were sent from new friends living in the states who shared my love of chocolate wafers hugging sweet filling. It was almost hard to keep up, but I managed and shared my thoughts on these exclusive-to-America cookies.

When Mr. Christie rolls out a new flavour, my twitter notifications start pinging. My inbox houses numerous pictures of Gingerbread Oreos, links to Fried Chicken Oreo (please tell me that’s a joke), and offers to pick up not-yet-tried varieties on an upcoming trip. Christmas brought me a special delivery of White Fudge Oreo. Recently, Red Velvet Oreos were launched and only a few weeks later, a package of them arrived in my mailbox. So this is a thing and it shows no sign of stopping.

My last review was one year ago, so it’s high time I updated with all the flavours we have tried within the past twelve months.

Coconut Fudge Cream Oreos 

Technically not a sandwich cookie, but who cares?

Technically not a sandwich cookie, but who cares?

These were a birthday gift and they delivered. My only negative criticism is that the package is deceptive. Although it looks like a regular size package of Oreos, they house this variety in a special plastic tray (likely to prevent them sticking together, but you won’t eat just one anyways, unless you’re a robot, or my husband). You only end up getting about half the amount of cookies.

I stand behind my decision to eat them alone in my locked bedroom. There is no point wasting fancy cookies on small children.

Rating: 5 out of 5 cups of coffee (and yes, they pair nicely with a cup of Joe).

Banana Split

Allegedly amazing

Allegedly amazing

Dropped off unexpectedly by a friend last summer, these were a huge hit with the children of the house. I maybe had one, the rest vanished while we were poolside. Even the son who detests bananas deemed this flavour “highly acceptable”.

Rating: probably a 4, can’t say for sure

White Fudge

Yes, please

Yes, please

Ho! Ho! Hold the phone! Even if you don’t like white chocolate, you will love these. Yes, you will. But you’ll have to wait until next Christmas or never, if you live in the Great White North (ahem, Nabisco Canada). These were a pleasant surprise included with a Christmas card from friends made via the internet. I have to learn not to open these packages in front of the boys because they get all “you always say we have to share”.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Red Velvet 

I'm a believer

I’m a believer

I admit, I had my doubts about this one since Red Velvet in general makes me punchy (I just don’t understand, Red Dye 40). The filling has a hint of cream cheese which contrasts well with the lighter chocolate taste of the cookie. Pairs well with apple juice, milk, coffee, okay, okay – anything. It pairs well with anything, especially more Oreos. This flavour was a very pleasant surprise and one I begrudingly shared with my offspring and few close friends. If you got one, you know I like you.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Dishonourable Mentions:

Gingerbread: meh.

Everyone has Oreo hiding spot, right? Well you should.

Everyone has Oreo hiding spot, right? Well you should.

Pumpkin Spice: yes, it tasted like a Yankee Candle.

Caramel Apple: also resembled a candle.

Candy Corn: still a firm no.


Not sure if you should indulge in your next Oreo? I’m here to help with a useful Oreo Flowchart. 

Happy Anniversary TB – a working title

Today marks two years of blogging. That’s kind of a milestone, right?

Thank you everyone who takes time out of their lives to read Tough Bananas, comment, and share. I never thought that blogging would introduce me to so many great people and new friends, but here we are. And aside from teaching, marriage, and parenting, I think this is longest I’ve stuck with anything. And coffee. And chocolate. You get the idea.

You can find me over at MomBabble where some of us moms share how we knew we were pregnant. Even though I did that four times, I only have one exciting backstory. Enjoy.

Pretty big for a single serving, but you can do anything if you believe.

Pretty big for a single serving, but you can do anything if you believe.

And thanks. Seriously.

Workout DVD For the Rest of Us

I own my share of workout DVDs. And I have actually used them. Yes, really. Multiple times. But eventually, I get tired of the program, find something different, or want to stab the trainer so I move on. Not one to give up entirely, I recently tried another series and so far so good. But it got me thinking. These workout DVDs don’t reflect real people. Everyone in them is already incredibly toned. If you can banter while doing burpees, then we are not even close to similar fitness levels. I cannot relate to you. What if there was a home workout DVD for the rest of us? A workout series that features a supporting cast with varying degrees of fitness, forget the uber-sculpted, picture perfect “after” people. I want to see Nancy who has a visible muffin top and is there strictly to make us all feel better about ourselves. Our new best friend, Nancy, keeps pausing to take giphydrinks and then just phones it in when she can be bothered to return. This DVD features one keener, let’s call her Sheila,  and the rest shoot her dirty looks and roll their eyes whenever the instructor singles her out for her exceptional stamina and skill. Sheila shows everyone up and likes it. Let’s see some people struggling with the coordination some moves require. And at some point someone needs to trip. At least once. Or just fall over for no reason. On to workout gear. No spandex. Alright, the top performer is allowed, but everyone else needs to wear an old t-shirt with loose shorts. Preferably, we’re going to see repeated clothing adjustments as the workout progresses. Top marks if there is a chronic wedgie issue for at least one person. There should be a counter at the bottom that let’s you know the amount of snack food you have burned off. “That’s ten M&M’s, not bad.” “Keep going, you’ve almost neutralized the spoonful of peanut butter you ate after lunch.” Hair. We all stop our workouts to redo our pony tail or clip or what-not. Minimum, someone in the background must have bangs that keep getting into their eyes. giphy-1When the instructor announces that the workout is halfway done, I’d like to see some defeated expressions, possibly gasp. The best would be a cast member moaning “come ON, that’s IT?”. Bonus if they walk off in a huff and give up altogether. Everyone else is still trying, but there’s that one woman keeled over, gasping for air and holding up a finger requesting a minute. During jumping jacks or a similar plyometrics-inspired segment, one of them stops, looks horrified, a rushes off stage only to return minutes later wearing new shorts (I think we all know what happened there). During the cool down, someone needs to pass gas. Preferably the most fit member in the group, yes, you, Sheila. The others quietly moves a little farther away, smirking. While everyone else is stretching, Nancy just waves it off with “nah, I’m good,” and slowly unwraps a Snickers. As they exit the studio, an especially exhausted participant hi-fives the instructor and then, barely audible, mutters “you’re dead to me.” That’s a DVD I would buy. __________ Looking for more thoughts and feelings on exercise? How about my views on doing organized sports?

Should We Be Friends Flowchart

We meet potential friends everywhere – work, school yard, the park, 7-11. The possibilities are limitless. But how do we know if a new acquaintance is a strong contender for the serious business of friendship?

Relax, just keep this simple flowchart handy and let it do all the work for you. The vetting process has never been so easy.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.27.18 PM

5 Free Valentines For Your Kids

Valentine’s Day is the holiday that helps you get through the bleak days of winter. And it’s also a great opportunity to eat chocolate let people know you care. But do your kids really need more candy or cute stuffed animals to grasp your love for them?


So, this year why not show your offspring how much you love them by your actions? It’s the sugar-free, budget-friendly way to let them know they will always be your special valentine. The possibilities are endless, but to get you started I present:

Five FREE Ways to Show Your Child You Love Them

  1. Announce in the school hallway that you won’t forget to buy your son new underwear, just like he asked. Kids need to know you’ll keep your promises, it helps them feel secure. 200-5
  2. Did your daughter miss a text while in the shower? Go ahead and reply for her. She’ll thank you. Be sure to include LOL at least twice to keep it authentic.200-3
  3. Wait to choose your outfit until after your child is dressed, then you can match. Disregard any eye rolls or protests, they secretly love it.unnamed
  4. If you don’t already have a cute pet name for your child, now’s the time to create one. Then use it loudly and frequently in public so all of “Poopsie’s” friends know his mom is the greatest. unnamed-1
  5. Start an after dinner family sing-along. Preferably with rounds. Music = togetherness.200-2

See? It’s that simple. Economical relationship-building is so rewarding. Make room on your mantle for all the “Mother of the Year” trophies that are coming (it’s okay to buy a few yourself, just to get started).


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