You just might be a true Vancouverite if you know that we are imminently approaching Vancouver’s famous cherry blossom season. It’s that time of year where the trees swell with gorgeous hues of pink buds and soon canopies of blossom pop up everywhere in the city and in your Instagram feed. In fact, in some neighbourhoods in the city the blossoms are in full bloom.
There are truly many fantastic spots to go and enjoy Vancouver’s cherry blossoms but my favourite spot is the open green spaces in Stanley Park at the formal rose garden. Years ago we went for a walk downtown and ended up in the rose garden and captured these photos. The blossoms were not yet in full bloom but they were still so gorgeous, that pink against the blue sky is my favourite. You can also check out cherry blossoms at Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Gardens and Granville Island.
Vancouver loves their cherry blossoms so much that we hold an annual Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom Festival. This annual festival runs from April 3 to 29th this year and there are multiple locations to check out and enjoy some outdoor events and the perfect opportunity for a photo. An official Cherry Jam kicks off the festival with a lively noon hour concert right under the Burrard Station cherry blossom canopy.
The saddest part of Vancouver’s cherry blossoms season is just how short it is. It almost seems that just as the gorgeous shades of pink start to appear it all floats away. I have many happy memories walking with my children through Vancouver’s ‘pink snow’ and we once got caught in an epic cherry blossom snow storm. If there are windy days ahead you can guarantee that the cherry blossoms will be taken away.
While the festival occurs through out the month of April you can find cherry blossoms popping up through the city right now. Once a cherry blossom treat starts to bloom there is about two weeks of glorious pink before the blooms start to fall off or get swept away with the wind. This is your cue to stop and take that photo because there’s no guarantee the blossoms will be around when you swing by again.
Cherry blossoms on your mind? Check out the Vancouver history of this blooming tree right here.
I grew up in a house where we all had our own bedrooms and there was a basement with a big car garage and backyard. When I was about 20 years old I moved out and into my first apartment while I went to university. After nearly eighteen years of living in different apartments, almost ten of them as an apartment mama, big things recently changed for us and we just moved into a townhouse. I adore apartment living and have always loved the feel of all of us together on one level. Living up high in the sky was a perk and I never minded the smallness of our home.
The condo we were in for the last five years was two bedrooms, one den and a total of about 12oo square feet. This meant that bedrooms were shared, seasonal things were stored off site in a rented storage locker and we didn’t accumulate a lot of extra stuff. We lived this way as a family of five and my husband also worked from home in the den. Oh, and we also have a dog!
I can’t even tell you how many times people would ask us when we were moving. This question ramped up when the third apartment baby joined our family. People just couldn’t believe that we would willingly live in a two bedroom condo and be happy. The condo life worked for us and I have zero regrets about living that lifestyle for as long as we did. The truth is, you don’t need a basement to be happy as a family.
A couple of months ago a rare opportunity came up for us to move to a townhouse around the block from our condo. This new home offered us three bedrooms and a den with more living space than we were used to. We decided to pack up our apartment and move homes. This move would give our oldest boy a bedroom of his own and allowed our two little girls to share a bedroom together. Meaning, the ‘baby’ of the family was finally out of the master bedroom.
Do you know what happened when we told the kids that we were moving out of our apartment and they would have new bedroom arrangements? Well, first they all cheered and then they told each other that they could have sleepovers together every night in each others room. This totally squeezed my mama heart big time. My kids actually really liked sharing a bedroom and we have no regrets about them sharing as long as they did.
The first night in our townhouse all of the things that I absolutely adored about living in a condo bubbled up and I started feeling this odd sense of regret about moving. I couldn’t help but wonder if we should have stayed put in our condo as life there really was working out just fine. I know that it was so silly to feel this way as most people would kill for more living space, especially when it was still in the community you loved.
When I went to bed on our first night in the new place with the kids sleeping upstairs from my bedroom and not in the room right next to us I felt really off and kept waking up all night long wondering if they were doing okay up there. When I was coming home from work and unlocked the front door it seemed so novel to me.
We aren’t permanent in this townhouse. It’s kind of the bridge between making more of a permeant move but also allowing us to have more space. We might even be back to condo living in a year or two but right now this apartment mama and her apartment babies are taking the stairs one at a time. All three levels of them.
I’m not totally sure I am finished being an apartment mama just yet. However, I’d love for you to follow along on our townhouse adventures in the city.
It turns out that once you have kids they will become your social life and they also love spending time with you. Go ahead and claim the title of ‘fun mum’ and incorporate your kids into your social life. It’s a win win for everyone. We’ve rounded up five fun things to do with your kids.
- Go to the movies. Before I had kids I went to the movies on a somewhat regular basis and loved the whole experience. Now that I’m a mum I love taking my big kids to a show, while it’s all family friendly flicks I still really enjoy going with and they love going with me. Parenting pro tip: ask family and friends for movie passes for your kids birthday gifts, this is a great way to help cut cost.
- Bake me a cake as fast as you can. It takes A LOT of parenting patience to be in the kitchen with kids but there’s just so many rewards that it really is worth trying. My husband is the pro when it comes to cooking with kids and they love being able to crack eggs and mix ingredients together. We start to include the kids in the kitchen when they are old enough to stand on a stool, which is about 18 months. Parenting pro tip: make a mug cake if you are wanting to keep things tasty but low key.
- Get in the pool! Kids love going to the pool and playing with you. Whether you pretend to be a shark family or bring some toys and have an impromptu tea party, an afternoon at the pool is a great activity and promotes movement. Perfect for a rainy day in the Winter.
- Take it to the coffee shop. If you’re a family in the city you will have multiple coffee shops to walk to but I’m sure every parent out there will know a coffee shop that is nearest to them. Get your coffee in a proper mug and order up a feel good treat to share. Sit and chat and play eye spy while sipping warm beverages from proper mugs. Also a great add on post pool fun.
- Get in some screen time (together). I did not grow up being an avid video game player but I try my hardest when Mario Kart comes on. Some evenings we have ‘Family Racing Night’ and we all sit together trying our hardest to win the race. Extra points if your kids are actually better than you. They will love seeing mum or dad trying to keep up with them.
I’m not a parenting expert but I do like to have fun with my three kids. I find that those long days go much smoother when a little fun is booked into them.
Before I had kids I knew that I would breastfeed, I hadn’t really given too much thought about how it would look to actually nurse a baby full time but I was ready. I had seen my sister nurse her daughter and it looked somewhat easy and I had friends who would breastfeed when we got together or went out for lunch. I thought that breastfeeding was something that would just happen if I tried a little. Have baby, nurse baby. The end.
Then I had my first baby at 36 weeks and he was born after a marathon labour and an assisted delivery. Feeding him was so incredibly difficult and we battled sleepiness from jaundice and his irritability from the assisted delivery made it even more difficult to feed him. Like so many new mothers I doubted myself, I didn’t trust my instincts but at the same time I just wanted to feed my baby.
In the early days of jaundice and slow preterm feeding, we did a mix of at the breast, formula top ups, breast pumping and repeat. It was a semi gong show of sore lady parts and felt like I was walking through thick knee deep sand trying to get to an ever moving target. I was getting nowhere and somewhere all at the same time and it was bloody hard.
At around three weeks old we turned a big corner and this babe of mine was exclusively breastfeeding and the pump sat collecting dust. Fast forward three years and my sweet chubby full term Josephine was born and my ease of being a second time mother and the high of a straight forward birth meant she was gaining weight at just a few days old.
When I was in the hospital with her I had so much milk that I could feed her and at the same time collect passively from the other side and nearly have a full feed for next time without doing any work. I felt like I had this magical milk making power and I was the queen of of the milkyway. Over the next several months I chose to pump in the mornings to build a freezer stash just in case I wanted a rare evening out or a morning sleep in on the weekend. I ended up being able to pump a decent supply and ended up donating my stash to a friend who needed more food for her newborn twins.
When I had my third baby I expected nothing different than the laid-back experience I had with my second baby. Turns out no breastfeeding relationship is the same. This baby was born a lot smaller and had a tongue and lip tie that wasn’t diagnosed till she was two and a half months old. Feeding her was the biggest challenge and it took so much work and time.
I pumped while she was in the NICU and I would sit at her bedside pumping in an awkward chair with my sore post partum body and staring at this tiny baby inside the incubator who needed my milk but would not latch. Everything ached and I’d sit in the hard hospital chair and stare at her soft round newborn face through the incubator window and wish that I could just latch her on instead of the plastic flange.
I used that pump like it was a life source and it became part of this rhythmic routine through our day. Eventually around five months old I decided that things were good and I chose not to pump any longer. She was breastfeeding, we had had the tongue tie and lip tie released and we were on the upward swing of our feeding journey.
There was this amazing moment while packing up that big rental pump and putting it back into its minty green container with the styrofoam innards that squeaked as I shoved the plastic back in. I felt this big relief when I was done with pumping and knew it was the end for sure. There was this moment of realizing how important pumping had been in keeping our breastfeeding relationship afloat during the rocky moments.
I’m celebrating World Breast Pumping Day with Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear and together with some other awesome moms I participated in a daily round up of moms who ‘Get Sh!T Done’. We all know that there is not just one way to feed your baby and one person’s experience can be completely different than your own. At the end of the day, we are all mothers who are just trying to get sh!t done!
Well, hello there! I’m Mama in the City.
I’m a mum to three kids, ages 9, 6 and 2.5 years old and together with my husband and our dog Lucy we live in a condo in downtown Vancouver. I work as a RN in labour and delivery and I absolutely love my job. The night shifts are not easy but I love holding space and being present with labouring moms and meeting fresh babies. My other passion is helping to give infant feeding support to new parents and also sharing the inside scoop when it comes to raising newborns.
I’ve lived downtown since I graduated with my nursing degree, which was about 15 years ago, at that time I had no plans to put down roots in the city but here we are, raising our family and thriving. I’m an apartment mama and that means I know every trick to make use of small spaces, shared bedrooms and also the perks of living with less overall.
I’ve always loved having a glimpse into the ordinary days of families and so I’m sharing a look into a typical day with my three kids. No shift work today, it’s just a regular day at home being a mama. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek into our world as a family living in the city.
700 Our youngest shares a room with us for now. We live in a two bedroom condo and she’s usually the last kid up for the day so having her with us makes it easier in the mornings. Right now the big kids are up early and they get right to making their own breakfast in the kitchen. I can hear them arguing and spilling cereal on the counter and floor at around 630 AM. I’m just so happy they’re getting ready for the day. I am seriously so slow in the morning and I always have to set an alarm so I don’t laze in bed. Definitely not a natural morning person at all.
710 It’s official. My phone alarm buzzes and I need to get the day started. There are lunches to be made, kids to get dressed and things to organize. This morning I’m feeling kind of relaxed as I make our usual french press coffee. My husband is already working and I always bring him a hot cup of coffee to his office. He works from home which has its advantages and disadvantages (I’m never ever alone, true story). Meanwhile, my cup sits mostly full on the counter till I make a whole new coffee later on. Daily occurrence.
815 Everyone is ready to go for the day and now I get 15 minutes to get myself together. Some days I just throw on whatever is nearby, brush my hair and go and some days I do my make up and pick out an outfit. Today I’m getting ready. Often if I’ve come off a night shift or a bunch of shifts in a row, I will often keep things more simple.
840 Right now I’m thinking ‘hurry up’ as we are trying to get out the door. Seriously, I always lose my cool this time of the morning. I just want to get to school on time and there is always some kind of kid related delay or sibling squabble. Maybe it’s time for me to reset the alarm clock for ten minutes earlier? Seriously. We often drive to school but sometimes take the bus or walk but today we drive.
920 The two big kids are off at school and two year old Lizzy and me are back home to start our day. Which includes taking this furry fuzz ball out for a walk. Funny thing is that despite being a Vancouver dog she refuses to set her paws in any sort of dampness or potential dampness.
Noon The littlest and I decide to do a few walking errands in our neighbourhood and fortunately for us it’s pretty decent outside today and we make the most of it and stay outside as long as we can. One of the things that I love most about living in the city is being able to walk to everything. It feels so good to live in a walkable neighbourhood. We walk to a local coffee shop and I grab my favourite coffee and then off we head to a local home decor/ gift shop to buy a birthday card for a friend. Then a stop at the local market for a few dinner items and lunch groceries for tomorrow.
We decide that today is a great day to have a lunch date and the two of us stop by a restaurant and have lunch together. I love doing this with my kids! This two year old of mine is such a city kid and is great at walking everywhere which makes it easy to get around. We’ve already walked a few city blocks and it doesn’t even phase her. However, I still bring along our stroller mostly to put all my groceries and just in case she wants to hitch a ride. She doesn’t. She’s too independent.
2 PM We walk home and make a stop at the neighbourhood flower shop for some pink tulips that we spotted on our way out earlier. This girl insists on carrying some of the flowers home and loves on them so much that one of the tulip blooms pops right off! Cue the tears and toddler upset.
230 PM We get home and I do a bit of a mad dash to put the groceries away and pick up some random toys. I run a load of wash and start up the dishwasher. It’s almost time to head back out and go get the big kids from school! Lizzy gets so excited about going to pick up the kids from school. The reunion when all three kids meet up is priceless.
4 PM Big kids are home, let the craziness flow! I try and do some more things around the apartment before dinner time. It feels like there is always something to clean, tidy, sort or prepare! Am I right?
530 PM My husband is working late tonight, we can all see him in his office working as I bring dinner to the table. It’s just the kids eating together but I sit with the kids and we tell funny stories and talk about tomorrow. I’m in full mama of three mode and mentally prepping for day ahead.
As soon as dinner is done I get the kids in the bath and they do their night time routine. For me this includes getting their outfits out and ready for the next day and have them fill their backpacks with the things they’ll need. It feels like a hustle, and it is, but I always get to breathe a sigh of relief as the day winds down.
815 PM My kids are all in bed and fast asleep and their slumber is my cue to escape into the bath and let the day wash over me. There is definitely highs and lows to each day and today our definite high was getting outside and walking the city. I always feel like I’m constantly catching up with daily life and yet I try really hard to take the time to also have fun with my kids. I think this is the constant battle of motherhood.
I’ve teamed up with Carolyn of Moments of Mommyland and Tairalyn from Little Miss Mama. Together we each captured a ‘Day in the Life’ to share with you. Find out what a Country Mama and a Suburbia Mama do in their own daily grind. We’d love for you to follow along!
Last weekend our middle girl celebrated turning six and together we planned a fun active birthday party. Living in a condo in Vancouver limits how many friends we can have over to celebrate with. In the past, we’ve made at home parties work by limiting our guest list to just a couple of little cousins and friends. However, this year the birthday girl has new school friends and so we needed to find something local that would be fun, active and wasn’t hosted at our condo.
Unfortunately, downtown Vancouver lacks a lot of big kid focused venues like other cities have, which is why we were excited when Jump Gymnastics moved into the edge of Yaletown. We are longtime Jump Gymnastic fans and are proudly one of the original Jump families from when they first opened their doors in Yaletown. Focusing on movement and activity for babies up to seven year olds, Jump hosts scheduled classes, drop in play time and of course birthday parties!
Birthday parties at Jump are limited to 12 guests including the birthday girl and because of this we decided to invite just girl friends to the party. This is what happens when you are little and all the cousins under 7 are girls! For the actual party we just needed to bring the cake, party bags and literally everything else was taken care of. Including matches for the cake, instructors to keep the kids safe and, my favourite part, zero clean up! We were pleasantly surprised by the things that were provided for us to use in the party room.
The party room is located just off of the gym and has the perfect seating for young guests with kid sized table and chairs. Since the party time is quite short, 1.5 hours, we decided not to do food and only did cake. This worked out perfectly because it allowed for more time of running around and being active with friends.
This is our second time hosting a birthday party at Jump in Yaletown. We had Ben’s third birthday here back when I was pregnant with Josie. The ball pit has notoriously been a huge hit with all three of my kids over the years and of course my husband took no time hopping in there and having fun with the kids.
All of the kids that came left with rosy cheeks from running around and happy faces. The instructor led them in two different circle times and various games around the gym and the rest of our time was free play. Our family would most definitely recommend hosting a birthday party at Jump Gymnastics for your Vancouver kid (or toddler!). Just know you will need to book in advance to get the date you want and know that your guest list will need to be limited.