Later this afternoon my youngest sister and her family are coming over for a little festive fun at our condo. We’re going to enjoy appetizers and adult beverages while the cousins do a present exchange. I’ve already made the spread and am busy keeping tiny hands away from sampling it before the guests arrive. We will have four adults and five kids (and our silly dog) in our condo and the space will feel just perfect.
I’ve always loved Christmastime in Vancouver, with the lights and the festivities that are all around. It’s hard to pick just a few things to do because there are so many to potentially choose from. While we didn’t hit up every single attraction the city has to offer, we did do the perfect amount. I’m crossing my fingers that the weather holds out and we can make it to VanDusen Botanical Gardens on Christmas Eve for their annual Festival of Lights. Bringing the kids to see lights in possible freezing rain just doesn’t have the same feeling of joy.
This year I actually did about 80% of my Christmas shopping on line. While I do love walking the city to shop, I just didn’t have the kid free time this year. Shopping from home while the kids played or were sleeping was ultimately the best decision for me. It’s also getting kind of tricky to buy secret presents with my tiny crew along with me. My packages get delivered to our concierge and then I get a little email telling me that I have packages downstairs! So simple and I love that part of condo living.
I’m really feeling aware of what actually makes Christmas special. Being together as a family comes out on top and this is something that I want my children to feel as well. Sure it’s amazing to get the coolest new toy but that’s not the feeling of Christmas that I want them to take away. So, tonight we will start our family time of being together and starting the spark of Christmastime.
The weeks leading up to Christmas I find myself reflecting back on memories from my own childhood and remembering the things that were special to me as a girl. This reflection always gets me thinking about Christmas baking, specifically the Christmas cookie.
I think traditions, of all sorts, have a way of holding space in our usual every day life. Which is why I love how celebrating the holidays give me that reason to spend some time in the kitchen baking with my kids.
For the last half dozen years I’ve had holiday baking blitzes with my three kids. The moment with them doesn’t even need to be fancy or glitzy. Just being together baking cookies helps to create these annual traditions within our family.
One thing I remember from my own childhood was the annual sugar cookies my mum baked for us each Christmas. I remember my mum making the dough ahead of time and then there’d be these balls of buttery yellow dough wrapped in plastic wrap waiting in the fridge to be rolled out and cut.
I often spend mindless hours looking through baking cookbook and on line through recipes. My favourite might just be the Martha Stewart website for all things Christmas cookie related, especially the classic recipes. I love trying to decide which recipe will be the perfect one to bake. If I’m baking with my kids the recipe needs to be simple without a lot of complex steps or fiddly parts and equally tasty.
In past years my mum has come for a visit in late November or in December and it’s almost guaranteed that she will roll out the sugar cookie dough with my kids. Keeping that cookie tradition alive. Of course, as soon as the New Year rings in I will be swapping all things cookie for salads. I’m always looking forward to the next year and the next batch of memories.
What is your absolute favourite cookie to bake at Christmas?
Recently we went on our annual trip to the United States for Thanksgiving. Having a US born husband means that we get a few perks, like celebrating two different Thanksgivings every year and traveling out of the country to go see family.
It’s safe to say that this specific trip was our best air travel as a family ever and I’m sure that is one of the things that made a huge difference with how I felt when we got home. Especially in comparison to years we had a tiny baby and then a toddler to fly with.
I think the ease came from knowing the ropes of navigating a family of five on an international flight (pro tip: always ask to go in the family lines even if one isn’t flagged) and the kids being that much older. At 9, 5 and 2.5 years old it was easier to physically move through the airport and easier to keep them occupied without a ton of tricks.
We traded in the wet cool rainy days of Vancouver for the desert sun and heat of Scottsdale, Arizona. There’s just something about cruising down a legit dusty desert road that makes you feel like you’re truly out of the concrete jungle. Sometimes it is just a simple change of routine that gives you the boost to recharge.
The kids were happy riding horses and being with their cousins and our short time away past effortlessly. It was the fourth year that Josie rode this sweet horse named Buck and this year she really fell in love with the idea of riding horses. Since we’ve back in the city she talks daily about taking care of these amazing animals.
Isn’t it wondrous to see your child become enamoured with something, to see them find that thing that creates a spark inside of them? Since we’ve been home from the desert we’ve talked endlessly about horses and are currently in talks about planning a horse themed birthday party for next month.
Today I was puttering around at home and realized I’ve been having this amazing energy boost the past week. I really think it was from the sunshine, the family time and the low stress that helped me to feel this way. I firmly believe that sunshine is really the best medicine.
A great perk of living in downtown Vancouver is all of the exciting activities and events that go on in this city through out the year. Christmastime is definitely one of my favourite times of the year to live so close to so many great attractions and we try to make it to as many as we can.
- Glühwein. Sipping this festive warm beverage while walking outside in the crisp air definitely makes me feel like I’m celebrating something special. On my last visit I tried the white glühwein for the first time and I actually preferred the lightness of the white over the more traditional red wine.
- The lights. There is just something about twinkling lights at dusk that gets me every single time. Each artisan hut is adorned by lights and there is enough decorated Christmas trees to add some serious magic.
- THE FOOD. If you go to the market you must go hungry. You will need to check out the Swiss booth ‘Cheese Me Raclette‘ for their amazing freshly scraped melted cheese. I am still dreaming of this amazing cheese dish that was served over potatoes. Other highlights include the very classic warmed pretzel from Pretzel Haus and the the spätzle from, where else, Spätzle Haus!
- Live music. When we arrived at the media night we were greeted by the lively group The Gingerbread Men singing all of the holiday classics. Entertainment schedule changes daily so there is always something fresh to go and enjoy.
- The classic, larger than life, Christmas Pyramid. This year the Christmas Pyramid has Vancouver’s first flying stage above! I grew up with a wooden Christmas pyramid and my dad would light the candles and the tiers would start to slowly turn and cast gorgeous light around our living room.
I’m already dreaming about going back for one more round of the cheese raclette and the lovely lights. You have until Christmas Eve to go and experience the Vancouver Christmas Market.
I was invited as a guest to go and experience all the great things that the Vancouver Christmas Market has to offer. However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Being a mum and a nurse means that I view many childhood ailments a little differently than a non medical mama. I tend to have a higher tolerance for sickness before taking them to the doctors or heading to an emergency department because I can do basic assessments on my own. My kids also can’t be ‘fake sick’ because I can see through that in a nano second. All you nurse mamas out there reading this are nodding your head right about now.
Last week my two year old was as happy as a clam. A wheezing clam that is, her doctor called her a ‘happy wheezer’. I debated for a long time before making the decision that she actually needed medication and to be seen by a doctor. Lizzy has never had any breathing issues before and her ridiculous zest for life made it a bit confusing about whether this was something or nothing. However, I always tell all of my family and friends that you don’t sit on breathing issues. So, at nine o’clock at night we packed up and headed to the Children’s hospital.
This isn’t my first rodeo so I knew exactly what to throw in my big purse before we headed to the ER. Even if this turned out to be nothing, we’d still be guaranteed some kind of wait and you never know when things will go south and you require an admission. It took me under five minutes to gather all these items together.
I grabbed my largest purse and tossed in the essentials. Here is what I purposefully brought for our hospital trip:
- Her health insurance card. I don’t keep these cards in my wallet, which was timely as I literally just lost it or had it stolen, and so I grabbed it from the storage bag I keep in one of our drawers at home.
- A credit card for all that parking you have to pay for. If your hospital has free parking, that is amazing. However, many hospitals require you to pay and scrambling for quarters at 1 AM when your mind is in mama overdrive can be hard.
- My phone charger. Thank goodness for mindless iPhone entertainment for my littlest patient and for keeping in contact with my support team! However, after awhile that use zaps your battery. Especially if it was running on empty before high tailing it to the ER. Funny enough, over the night a mom was frantically looking for someone with a phone charger and I was all, ‘Here! Use mine!’. I had brought my extra long one too so that you can actually sit away from the outlet and use your phone.
- Random pre packaged snacks. I grabbed some granola bars and other snacks that I knew my girl would enjoy. Turns out this was a good move as the ER department has very limited snacks. However, thank goodness for endless popsicles!
- An extra pair of contacts or your glasses. Something about being awake way past your bedtime, or like 48 hours in this case, and the dry hospital air makes you so thankful when you can replace your contacts.
- Your child’s special lovey or blanket. These items that bring your child comfort will be so helpful in the ER while you wait to figure out what is going on. Especially if you’re there over your child’ usual nap or bedtime.
Being a mama with type 1 diabetes means I can’t neglect myself either. So, I tossed in extra insulin and supplies for myself. We ended up staying in the ER until 3 PM the next day when they decided to admit us to the ward for more treatment. This is when I sent my husband a detailed list of the things that I wanted him to bring for us.
Insider tip: Really reinforce exactly which pants you want them to bring for you or you may end up with the fitted corduroy pants that you haven’t worn for over a year and your fancy bra that you had left out from a party you went to the day before.
After a couple of days we got Lizzy’s breathing issues under control and went home. However, before getting the all clear we did get two different chest X-rays to make sure she hadn’t accidentally inhaled a Lego or something that was the cause of the onset of breathing issues. Here is hoping we have a low key cold and flu season ahead of us!
Calling all Vancouverites who love attending a good Christmas market! We’ve got our annual visit for the Circle Craft Christmas Market coming up and we want you to come too!
Going to the Circle Craft Christmas Market has become a tradition for me and I look forward to it every single year. I love being able to see all the different artisans and do a bit of Christmas shopping too. Over the years I’ve found so many special gifts at the market and all exhibitors are Canadian and many are local to British Columbia. Over the last few years the market has also included distilleries and wineries.
This was my haul from the market last year and all gifts were very well received. That cute owl music toy is my absolute favourite and comes from Mimi, a local artisan in North Vancouver. I’ve bought a few of these over the years for new babies in my life. When you pull the string you get a two and a half minute soft lullaby. Such a great gift for a new baby’s nursery.
Enter to win two tickets to the Circle Craft Christmas Market happening this November 8-12, 2017 at Vancouver Convention Centre West. You can also buy tickets on line and get $2 off if you buy them before November 8th.
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