Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

The other day we loaded up the car, headed out of the city and drove all the way out to theF farmland in the Fraser Valley. When we got to our destination, my city kids looked around the countryside and asked me where all of the sidewalks were. They were pretty shocked to learn there wasn’t any where we were!

We spent the day having a family adventure out at an apple orchard and pumpkin patch. Sure, we could have stayed home and ran through our to do list. We could have done that big grocery shop that we needed to do and we most definitely could have stayed home and prepped for the week ahead. Instead, we had a family outing and it was all kinds of awesome.

These are the moments that I hope my kids will remember when they’re grown. The feel good moments of childhood that they can lean on when they have to face life’s heaviness on their own.

Racing karts in the corn field with their daddy and picking apples with their mama. Meeting bunny rabbits and chatting to the goats. This is the unbridled happiness that only childhood can really hold.

When we meet the bad things in life, which feels particularly inevitable these days, my hope as a mother is that my children will be able to pull on these moments we’ve had together and let the sweetness be a reprieve from any  heaviness that may come their way.

I didn’t grow up going to pumpkin patches but I highly recommend that you find one if possible. There is something kind of magical about visiting one with your children and exploring the wide open spaces. These outdoor family outings just give you those feel good feelings that can last all week. We went to Taves Family Farm and all five of us recommend it for your next family adventure.

 

 

 

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Birthday Parties For Big Kids

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September 27, 2017 // Parenting

There is no denying it, I love planning birthday parties! I enjoy the whole process starting from picking out the theme, to working out all the details to make it come together. It doesn’t even need to be an elaborate Insta worthy party, it just has to be fun and enjoyed!

Recently my oldest turned nine and together we talked about some party ideas because we love throwing birthday parties over here. He had a few ideas and suggested a rock climbing party with some friends. So, we checked out what rock climbing places were nearby and which ones were kid friendly. This year we capped the number of friends that we invited. This helps keep the cost down and also makes it easier to watch a bunch of kids.

We had six kids including the birthday boy and it was the perfect amount of buddies for a party. Some kids were fearless when it came to trying out climbing and other kids were a bit timid, which was just fine. We left the littlest one home with my sister but the middle sister came along to try out rock climbing.

In the past we’ve often done big family birthday parties with out of town grandparents, aunties and cousins and every friend we knew but it can be a lot of work and cost to organize that many people for a party. Plus, as the kids get older their actual party often becomes about their immediate friend group.

Hosting a birthday party at an organized location, like a climbing gym, makes things a lot easier when it comes to party prep mode. However, one thing that we still opted for was the party favours. My kids love them and I enjoy putting them together and making it part of the theme! I don’t love a lot of fillers in a party bag and I love when party favours can be useful and even reusable.

I hunted down some basic water bottles and stuffed them full of bags filled with chocolate rocks and a packet of those fun old fashioned Pop Rocks. We found some sticky wall climbers which seemed to go perfectly with our rock climbing theme. To top it off we put colourful carabiners on each water bottle, these could be used as a key chain or on backpacks. These party favours were a huge hit and the parents coming to pick up their kids loved the water bottle.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of throwing parties for my kids or family! While I do love all the party planning my actual favourite part of the whole birthday celebration is putting those candles on the cake and bringing it out to the birthday kid while the whole family sings with gusto.

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Just a short drive out of downtown, over the bridge and you’re at Wesbrook Village. This village is a hidden gem with a great assortment of parks and a variety of shops for the whole family. Whenever we visit Wesbrook Village it almost feels like we’ve traveled further away from home than we actually did. The village ambience gives you that feeling like you have escaped the city and are exploring somewhere far away.

When planning fun family outings one constant that I always look for is walkability. What that means for us is once we arrive we can go grab a coffee, walk to a playground, check out a local event and finish at the splash pad. All without ever having to get back in the car to drive to another location or catch a bus.

Wesbrook Village has the walkability that we look for and the village is easy to navigate, plus parking throughout the village is free. Coming from downtown, free parking is huge for us! The village boasts so many great parks and water features that your kids will be excited to go and explore outside.

If you decide to come and check out Wesbrook village you’ll want to stop at a few of our favourite shops. Doughgirls Comfort Kitchen & Bake Shop is a must to stop at while you are exploring the village. Their sandwiches are so fresh and delicious you will be sad when you get to the last crumb, plus you just might want to take one of their fresh cookies home when you’re done exploring.  For a slow paced beer or dinner out, you’ll want to check out Biercraft. This is a favourite spot of my husband’s as he loves the selection of Belgian beers and the tasty eats.

Over the past year we’ve celebrated at a few different events at Wesbrook Village and every time we’ve left with happy kids. The last time we decided to go to Wesbrook Village we started at one of the water features at Nobel park and ended with a visit to the splash pad by the new community centre. As someone who is not local to this area, the community vibe here is so welcoming and inviting.

This Saturday September 9th Wesbrook Village is hosting a family friendly festival from 11 AM-4 PM and you are invited! You can expect an assortment of activities, a free BBQ and Will Stroet of Vancouver’s Will’s Jams will be taking the stage to entertain all the little movers and the shakers! Our family loves Will and his music will definitely make your kids get up and start dancing.

Put this fun family event on your calendar and you can expect lots of outdoor fun for your whole family. Bonus, while you are out and about enjoying all of the activities snap some photos and get friendly on social media. Add the tag @WesbrookVillage for a chance to WIN a $100 Wesbrook Village Shopping Spree!

Find more information about this free family event over on Discover Wesbrook and follow along on their Facebook page .

 

 

This post is sponsored by Wesbrook Village but all opinions are my own.

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We had just come back from a nice long weekend away with my whole family. I’m talking grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. We had time at the beach, pool time, adventures around town and we just enjoyed being away together for a long weekend.

The purpose of our trip was to celebrate my parents 45th wedding anniversary and it took months to arrange for all of us to be together in one spot together.  A little family holiday time at the beach seemed like the best gift to give and on our last night together we had a special dinner at a restaurant to celebrate our parents.

If you followed me on social media while we were away you would have seen smiley photos of us playing at the beach, sipping wine, and making lots of memories. What you did not see was the exchange of germs that is inevitable when you get a bunch of little kids together. Parents, am I right about this?

I think the biggest offending age group for sharing gross germs is the 1-4 year old age group. This is the age where everything goes into their mouths and there’s a total disregard for things like washing your hands and not licking the countertop at a shop.

We had heard the news that a tummy bug had hit one of the cousins and so they were quarantined and we continued on with the weekend of fun. After all, this kind of trip was a lot of work to plan and who knows when it will happen again.

Here is a classic scenario of why the 1-4 year old age group cannot be trusted:

Cousin #1 has been sick but is now feeling better and on the mend. Cousin #1 is playing with our iPad while the adults try to enjoy the celebratory anniversary dinner out. All of a sudden cousin #1 vomits all over the iPad causing cousin #2 (my kid of course!) to become freaked out and enraged that there is now vomit on the beloved iPad. Without hesitation she grabs that vomit covered iPad and yells in utter distress, ‘MY IPAD!!!’ all while getting her hands lathered up in cousin #1’s vomit.

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Fast forward to our arrival home. It was a long and sweaty trip back home which included a three hour wait for a ferry on a very hot afternoon but everyone appeared to be healthy. Hooray! By the time we got home we were so done with the day and it was a cereal for dinner and into bed kind of night. That is when the rumbling started happening and before we realized what was happening we were met face on with the cherished family memories of the traveling tummy bug.

Current vibes include two out of three kids have had the traveling tummy bug and we are now doing the waiting game to see if kid #3 gets it. I’m crossing my fingers that me and my hubby will be saved. When dealing with barf and kids it feels like you’ve already been sick, no need for personal experiences at this point.

There you have the tale of the traveling tummy bug and why you can’t trust kids to not share germs.

 

 

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Recently someone commented to me, ‘Andrea, I love reading your blog and it look like you guys are always having such a great time BUT…aren’t you just sharing the good stuff? Are you really that happy?’.

The honest answer is, yes and no people! It turns out that I actually love having fun with my kids and we do have a lot of happiness in our daily lives. I’m actually that person who feels total sadness thinking our two months of summer vacation is coming to an end.  I’ve truly loved every field trip we’ve gone on this summer and I’m actually dismayed that I don’t have more time with my three kids to get to even more fun outings with the three of them.

I’m also human and I have three kids who wake up and are ridiculously hungry the second their feet hit the ground. There are your usual sibling fights and lots of, ‘who didn’t flush the toilet?!’. I get asked about Minecraft a bazillion times each day, from two different kids. I often don’t have enough time to wash my hair regularly and I’m notorious for wearing the same outfit multiple days in a row.

Sometimes I can’t wait for my three kids to go to sleep because I just want to be silent for a few hours. However, no matter what kind of daily irritations occur I still choose happiness. If you read this blog, follow me on Instagram or the Mama in the City Facebook page, I can assure you that what you see is what you get.

Here is how, as a mum of three, I make sure happiness soaks into our lives every day.

  • I schedule breaks into each month that are just about me and not just me as a ‘mum’ doing stuff for my kids. I book a babysitter and go get a pedicure/a massage/run errands for myself. This is not selfish and this is a big part of my overall happiness. These small outings give me something to look forward to and allow me to appreciate the time spent with my kids more.
  • We get out of the house (and by house I mean condo!). I find sibling fights, my own irritation level and everyones overall mood is totally effected by staying at home. It is so much easier to load up the stroller and get outside than it is to stay home and constantly be putting out fires. Even a short outing can instantly change all of our moods.
  • When it’s all feeling too much for me and I can feel my breath stuck in my chest and my shoulders are tensed up by my ears, I make frozen pizza for dinner. Funny enough, my kids love when this happens! While I’m busy trying to decompress from whatever it is, they are cheering about getting to have a frozen pizza for dinner. It’s a win win. Sometimes it is okay to just exist and get by.
  • My vice is good coffee and I’ve found that tiny rewards can truly make my day. Three kids is a lot of work and sometimes that short adult interaction at the coffee shop is what fuels my happiness. Holding that iced Americano or that warm (three shot!) latte in my hand as we trek to the park is what gets me through the day.

I am fully embracing this season in my life, the happy parts and the chaotic mind numbing parts. One day I hope to be that old wrinkly granny reminiscing about the glorious summer days I spent with my three little kids.

 

 

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If you’ve ever had the pleasure of walking down the Vancouver seawall to English Bay, you’ve probably seen the large Inukshuk monument near the waters edge. This structure definitely has some history and is a landmark in the city of Vancouver.

Constructed of grey granite by Alvin Kanak of Rankin Inlet, this monument was commissioned by the Government of the Northwest Territories for its Pavilion at EXPO 86 and later given to the City of Vancouver.  In 1987, the Inukshuk was moved to this site and sponsored as a gift to the City by Coast Hotels through the Vancouver Legacies Program – Read the Plaque 

Photo by Kevin Eng

My oldest has done different field trips to study this specific Inukshuk, including walking from school to sketch it and learn the history. Whenever we walk, bike or drive by this large stone structure we can’t help but check out this special landmark on the beach.

Today we did a big beach walk from our condo and passed this site like we always do. However, today was different as we stopped and climbed down a small rocky path, along with a bunch of other children, and took a look at all of the small Inukshuk made by different people that have stopped at the beach. One boy told us he stops by every other day to make a new one, sometimes his old ones are still there and other times they are gone.

An Inukshuk is a man made figure constructed out of piled stones or boulders. Each figure is used to communicate with other people throughout the Arctic and is large enough to be seen from afar. Inukshuks are used to signal where food might be or as navigational aids. They are basically communication centres used by people back in the day. Of course, nowadays these little figures on the beach are merely decoration, but I love the history behind it.

Have you ever visited the Inukshuk in English Bay or made your own tiny version?

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