Dec 13

Fizbee Sugarplum

Ok, so I definitely don’t win a Mother of the Year award this year. Why, you might ask? Well, each year as the month of December rolls around a happy little elf named Peppy Sparkle Toes pays us a visit. He stays with us all month as our guest. He watches by day and flits from room to room each night, reporting back to Santa—whether we’ve been bad or good.

This year, as December rolled around and the children were all snug in their beds, I crept into my closet and reached into the secret hiding spot to retrieve Peppy. To my utter shock and dismay, my hand felt… nothing! Nothing? Nothing! Oh where, oh where did he go?? I ripped by closet apart. Nothing. I honestly don’t know how I slept that night.

The next morning, December 1, the children came bounding down the stairs squealing: “Peppy!”

They searched high and low but did not find him anywhere. I had a huge knot in my stomach.

“Maybe Peppy got caught in a snow storm,” I tried to fake them out.

Imagining Peppy Sparkle Toes caught in a huge snow storm.

My youngest must have gone to check the mailbox at least 10 times that day. Nothing.

I sent my husband out to search three different stores for an elf that looked remotely similar to our Peppy. Nothing.

I frantically sent out texts to friends and family with a photo of Peppy asking if anyone had an elf that looked anything like our Peppy. To my utter amazement, my sister texted me a photo with the words “Will this do?” It wasn’t Peppy, but it could easily pass for a sibling or one of his kind! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Dianne!

Today, a few days into December, a happy little elf named Fizbee Sugarplum arrived!

The kids meet Fizbee Sugarplum for the very first time.

Fizbee Sugarplum was hanging around the mailbox with the following note attached:

Hi MacArthur Family!
I hope you had a good year. I had a very good year!
I have been given a new job. I am now an Elf Trainer! Yes, this is very happy and exciting news indeed!
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to watch over your family this year. But, do not worry, I have chosen the perfect little elf to watch over you all.
I would like to introduce you to Fizbee Sugarplum. Please be patient with him if he messes up here and there. He is one of our youngest elves. 22 Flowers Crescent is the first home he has ever been sent to watch over. You are his first family!
Wishing you all a very special Christmas.
Peppy Sparkle Toes

The children were so excited to find that an elf had arrived from the North Pole that they got over the fact that it wasn’t Peppy pretty quickly.

Fizbee Sugarplum is ready to report for duty.

Thank goodness for small miracles. Now, if only I could remember where I put Peppy… He’s bound to turn up sometime…

Thanks for stopping by,



Aug 12

Great Wolf Lodge: Not Just for Wee Ones

To squeeze the last few drops of fun out of summer, we surprised the kids with a two-night stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This indoor water park boasts over 100,000 square feet of water-packed fun, including scream-worthy slides for risk takers—not for the faint of heart!—and zero-depth entry areas for wee ones. Outside the water park, there are plenty of activities to keep everyone busy until nightfall.

Great Wolf Lodge Niagara

Our visit to this immense 84-degree indoor water park was the second for us in five years. I was a little worried that the lodge and all of its amenities might look a little tired or appear a bit rundown. Not so. And, with the kids being half a decade older since our last visit, I was worried they might not enjoy themselves as much (they are 7, 10, and 13). Again, not so.

Fun for all ages

We actually enjoyed ourselves more this time around. With the kids being that much older we, as parents, we were free to experience all the fun with our children without the incessant fear factors that come with having toddlers around water.

The kids LOVED the tipping bucket. Btw, my 13-yr old took this photo. Good job Campbell!

Check in and check out were a breeze. Parking availability was plentiful.

The staff, from reception to dining to housekeeping, was always pleasant and courteous. Lifeguards were impressively attentive. Even staff at the gift shop was friendly and helpful (usually a rarity when shopping with kids!).

Our room, with two queen beds and a pull-out couch, was clean and spacious. Movies were available on demand (always a bonus for our family). Our room came equipped with a microwave and mini fridge. So, we planned ahead and brought fruit, refreshments, bread, sandwich meat, and pizza. As such, we were able to cut down on meal costs by warming up pizza in the microwave for dinner the first night and making sandwiches for our lunch the next day—all done from the comfort and convenience of our room.

The view from our room

Thumbs down? Although many visitors seemed to enjoy MagiQuest, the “live-action adventure game” (new from five years ago), I give MagiQuest two thumbs down. The idea sounds magical, but the reality of it all is far from magical. With a “magic” wand in hand, children open treasure chests set up in hallways leading to hotel rooms, they also listen to a wizard, and do a few other “magical” things. Children were crying because the wands wouldn’t open all the treasure chests and parents were always on the hunt for misplaced wands—we’re talking about two-year olds carrying wands… Why wouldn’t they be misplaced? The least expensive wand cost $16.99 before tax.

Not a fan of MagiQuest

For families with more than one child, the cost of these wands adds up quickly. Some families tried buying one wand to share between siblings. Before even leaving the shop, siblings were having meltdowns over who got to hold the magic wand. I witnessed parents frantically handing over fists full of cash to purchase additional wands just to stop the madness that had ensued. Those wands are a total cash grab. Each wand is nothing more than a small piece of plastic that stops being “magical” the moment you leave the lodge. Blah! Okay, rant over.

Thumbs up? Dining at the Antler Shanty was definitely an improved experience. The food choices, served buffet style, have multiplied tenfold from five years ago. Salads, sides, main dishes, and desserts were plentiful, with lots of variety, and always fresh.

Two thumbs up for the Antler Shanty!

Also improved? The atmosphere as you walk into the lodge is more energized. How so? Five years ago, we entered the Grand Lobby to the sounds of nature with birds chirping, owls hooting, and wolves howling off in the distance. This time around, in addition to the nature sounds, there was current music pumped into this area, giving a fun, youthful, active vibe the moment you walk through the doors. Children were singing and dancing while parents were toe tapping to the music.

Furry friends in the Grand Lobby

Will we return? Absolutely. Will it be in five years time? Not if we can help it. For more information about Great Wolf Lodge Niagara, please visit .

Happy visitors: Ava (10), Campbell (13, and Hayden (7)

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Jul 12

The Heat of Summer

“‘Come with me,’ Mom says. ‘To the library. Books and summertime go together.’” ~ Lisa Schroeder, I Heart You, You Haunt Me

School is out and those lazy, hazy, and ever-so-hot days of summer have settled in.

The heat of the afternoon sun is scorching.

The early afternoons are filled with such intense heat that even the birds have fallen silent. The hum of the air conditioner working overtime can be heard… Please keep working… Please keep working… Even those annoying flies, the ones that always seem to somehow fly right at ear level, appear to be moving slower.

You know the birds feel the heat when they are silent during the day.

Poor flowers, they’re all wilted and droopy. The flowers have been watered yet they thirst… for shade. The only respite comes in the form of an ever-so-slight breeze that gently rustles the leaves every minute or so.

Ever sit by the shade of an old oak tree? Magnificent, isn't it?

On days like this, trying to stay cool with ice cream on a cone would be pointless. Ice cream in a cup would be no better for it would turn to soup in a cup within seconds. Watermelon, or cantaloupe, or honeydew melon might do the trick… Sigh. There’s none in the fridge.

Even this ice cream truck couldn't beat the heat!

I think I’ll make a point of stopping by the library with the kiddies today. The kids won’t overheat if they sit outside in the backyard and read. Then… I’ll pick up that melon!

Watermelon is a great way to stay cool on these hot summer days.

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