Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

Vancouver’s cherry blossom season is almost here and we are all just a little bit excited. Soon the trees will swell with gorgeous hues of pink buds and canopies of blossoms will cover the city. As the season ends and the wind comes and delicate pink snow falls over the city sidewalks. It is all kinds of breathtaking.

Where To Find The Best Cherry Blossom Trees

There are many fantastic spots in Vancouver to go and enjoy the city’s cherry blossoms. A favourite local spot for our family is quite possibly 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 an absolute favourite.

For all of your Insta needs and general gorgeousness check out the city’s blooming cherry blossoms at Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Gardens and Granville Island. David Lam Park in Yaletown blooms an amazing canopy right by the seawall, so you get that mix of pink blooms with blue water.

Cherry Blossom Festival

Vancouver loves cherry blossom season so much that we have an annual festival to celebrate the blossoms. This year you can participate in festival activities from April 4-28, 2019. A variety of events are happening through out the city, including the kick off event the Cherry Jam right downtown Vancouver.

Allergy Free Cherry Blossom Fun

If the thought of all those blossoms has you sneezing and rubbing your itchy eyes, head to the indoor installation Blossom at Metropolis. There you will find 250,000 curated blossoms on display without the sneeze effect. Don’t miss out on this beautiful indoor installation, it’s only showing until the end of March.

Enjoying the cherry blossoms at Blossom at Metropolis

Blossom Trivia

  • The pink blossoms you see in Vancouver are actually a mix of cherry and plum trees.
  • The Japanese cities Kobe and Yokohama gave the Vancouver park board 500 trees to plant at the Japanese cenotaph in Stanley Park. This was to honour the Japanese Canadians who served in the First World
  • Peak bloom time for Japanese cherry trees is actually only one week long and can be less if there is a lot of rain or wind.
  • In Japanese culture the cherry blossom trees represents fragility and beauty. An epic reminder for us as the blooms are so breath taking and then gone just like that.

As a family in the city we live in a high tourist area and will soon have bus loads of tourists brought to our door step to take in all that pink. Their ultimate mission is to view the blossoms at peak bloom and take photos with the cherry blossom trees. We have to admit, the blossoms do make for an amazing back drop for photos.

Check out another one of our posts about Vancouver life!

How To Tour Downtown Vancouver With KidsH

Comments

comments

The Bloedel Conservatory is just a short drive out of downtown Vancouver. Here you can expect a fun visit with kids of all ages. Once you enter the front doors of the conservatory a warm tropical atmosphere greets you along with the sounds of birds singing.

The Bloedel Conservatory is located at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park and gets credit for being the highest point in Vancouver. This makes for some amazing views of the city while walking out front of the conservatory.

There is a large pay lot just outside the conservatory and ample handicap spots. While there is some steps to go down in order to enter the building, there is also wheelchair/stroller accessibility just around the dome.

Planning Your Visit

The actual conservatory is on the smaller side so taking a little one under five is perfect! You can do multiple loops inside the Bloedel Conservatory and take in all that they have to offer. Kids will enjoy sitting and listening to the different parrots chat and whistle. Plus, there’s a small bridge that bounces as you walk! Kids four and under are free.

Older kids can take one of the complimentary bird guides and go on a seek and find. It turns out that our seven year old really got into matching up the birds that she saw in the conservatory to the ones on the guide.

What To Expect At The Bloedel Conservatory

There’s over one hundred free flying birds to spot and guests are provided with a laminated guide to learn more about each bird. The chirping birds and humidity almost made it feel like we were back in Hawaii, which was a welcomed feeling on a cold day.

Whether you are local or coming from afar we’d recommend a visit to The Bloedel Conservatory. Add on a visit to the beautiful Queen Elizabeth park and you’ve got yourself a morning or afternoon adventure with gorgeous scenery.

Find more Vancouver family fun right here:

How To Tour Downtown Vancouver With Kids

Summer Fun In Vancouver

Comments

comments

In honour of Bell Let’s Talk I am republishing this honest post on maternal mental health. While it is easy to share the joyful moments of motherhood and a new baby it is equally important to recognise the painful and raw parts too.

Check out Raw Beauty Talks for seven inspiring unfiltered stories about motherhood, sharing stories of post partum anxiety and depression.

************************************************************************

The first person to ever ask me if I had ever had any issue with post partum depression or anxiety was my hairdresser. It’s seems kind of unbelievable really, especially considering she asked me this question just this past weekend and my youngest is already two years old. How can it be that no one ever checked in or flat out asked me this before?

All of us know just how taboo mental health topics can be. Especially talking openly about  mental health, too often we feel a bit uncomfortable asking people in our lives how they are actually coping. It’s easy to assume our friends and family would feel comfortable reaching out and asking for help. However, in real life, this is far from the truth.

My Experience With Post Partum Anxiety

Right after I had baby number three I sunk into a weird unexpected cycle of feeling anxious. I never had any post partum depression or anxiety with the other two babies. I had a healthy baby in my arms and I was a seasoned mother, so why was I feeling this way?

This third baby was a high risk pregnancy, a wild delivery and our families first NICU experience. In retrospect that all played a role in the post partum anxiety but it was never red flagged by anyone.

As soon as I got home from the hospital a hot prickly feeling of anxiety crept into my daily life. I should have been relieved that the high risk pregnancy was over and I was finally home with my new baby. Instead, the happiness and relief was not enough to carry me through all of the feelings of anxiousness.

Coping With Post Partum Anxiety

One of the ways that I felt more in control and safe was being with the baby in my bedroom. We set up camp in my bed and I could actually feel tiny moments of bliss and happiness, it was definitely how I coped and survived this time in my life. However, if you asked me to do something that required getting out of the apartment I turned into an uncertain sweaty anxious person with a whirlwind of spiralling thoughts.

When the baby was about five weeks old my sister took my older kids over to Victoria to see extended family. It was all great until it was time to arrange how to bring the kids back home. The plan was for me to meet up about 45 minutes from home so I could go get them and drive them back.

At first I faked it and thought if I pushed myself enough I would get over the fear of leaving my bedroom, leaving the city and driving with the tiny baby to go and pick up the other kids. It was about not a long drive but the thought of having to do it made me feel physically sick.

It’s a drive I’ve done many times before and logically it did not make sense why it made me feel as upset as it did. That’s anxiety for you, it is totally an illogical process. I was worried about putting our very tiny baby into a car seat. I was worried about driving while feeling so tired. I was worried she might cry the whole drive.

I convinced myself that she could stop breathing in her car seat and I even let myself ‘go there’ and envisioned getting out of the car and finding that she had stopped breathing while I was on the highway.

Eventually my sister offered to bring the kids back home to me and I went from feeling totally ridiculous with all of my thoughts to feeling a sense of calm. I could stay in my bedroom, on my bed, with my tiny baby and we would be okay.

I could stop having to constantly process the ‘what ifs’ that were totally illogical but still swarmed my mind. Things that I had done with my other kids when they were babies just felt like too much this time around. Everything felt scary.

It was even too much for me to make the six week post partum check up with my obstetrician. Instead, I just kept telling myself that I’d eventually book it. Months went by and I could never bring myself to make that appointment.

The thought of going to the appointment felt like like this huge amount of energy. So I let myself  decide that there was no way I could go. As expected, there was no call to check up on me or see if I was okay. Eventually I was totally off the office radar but not going didn’t help my feelings of anxiety. Instead, I’m sure it made it worse.

Support Through Post Partum Anxiety

Anxiety is a complex beast, it is completely controlling of your daily life. It steals your joy and your sense of self. The idea that something bad is about to happen all the time is utterly exhausting. Things that used to make you feel happy and satisfied were now coated with a new layer of uncertainty.

I wish that someone had flat out asked me if I was having any problems coping when I had this third baby. Just having someone to talk about these weird feelings would have been beneficial to my mental health.

Over time I started to feel less and less anxious. As my baby grew and I felt more in control of my daily life I had more anxiety free moments. It was not an over night transformation but a gradual continuous shift into feeling more steady. For me the feelings were the most intense for the first 3 to 4 months post partum and slowly eased off over the rest of the first year.

If this story resonates with you and you need more information, please check out AnxietyBC for more help. Check out Life With A Baby for more support.

Comments

comments

Recently we hosted a Vancouver Aquarium Birthday party for our middle girl. A few months back she decided she wanted to celebrate her seventh birthday at the Vancouver Aquarium. Which was doable as living in the city makes it easy to plan awesome birthday parties at some of Vancouver’s prime locations.

What Happens At A Vancouver Aquarium Birthday Party

As a parent the best part about having a Vancouver Aquarium birthday party is that you literally just have to show up. The party entrance is not overly obviously but the main aquarium staff are helpful in directing guests to the Aquaquest Reception, which is where party guests can be dropped off and picked up from.

The aquarium provides everything you need for the party. Including a personalised birthday cake, drinks, party decor and all of the aquarium fun. There was fresh hot coffee from local roaster Saltspring Coffee for parents. We put together our own party bags to hand out but there’s also the option to buy them through the aquarium gift shop.

The birthday girl gets to go and feed the fish in a very large aquarium. Safety first with a life jacket.
Young birthday girl smiling while wearing a life jacket.
Watching the sea lions sing their nightly song.
The party is best for kids age four and over. However, this 3.5 year old little sister kept up with the big kids.

The first step to having your own Vancouver Aquarium birthday party is booking on line. Which makes organising things very easy for the parent. A bonus is our annual Vancouver Aquarium membership gave us a discount on the price of the party. Each party can accommodate up to 16 children and 4 adults, which made this an easy drop off party.

Two hosts guided the party from start to finish and both were full of knowledge and peppy energy that helped keep the kids engaged. Each party is two hours long and the time is well spent. There is a range of hands on activities and behind the scenes tours to keep all party guests engaged.

Top Party Moments

The biggest highlight of the Vancouver Aquarium birthday party was feeding the fish. Donned in a life jacket and disposable gloves, the birthday girl carried a container of fresh food to a private area of the aquarium tank. There she was able to feed an array of beautiful coloured fish. All while her guests cheered her on from across the tank. To be honest, as a parent this was also one of my highlights and made the party feel extra special.

Feeding the fish their fresh dinner.

With so much to see at the aquarium there was always something for us to do in the span of the two hours. We checked out the sharks and the sea lions and spent hands on time in the wet lab with our aquarium leaders.

The final moments of the birthday party were spent back in the nicely decorated party room. The party leaders served up birthday cake and aquarium punch and before we knew it the party was over.

For more Vancouver birthday party ideas check out some of our other posts.

Rock Climbing Birthday Fun For Big Kids

Jump Gymnastics

Princess Themed Party With Queen Elsa

Comments

comments

I received this product for free from Moms Meet. However, as always this post is my honest opinion. Compensation for this post was provided.

One thing we welcome in our home is kids books. Recently I decided to tackle my kids massive library and got rid of all the baby board books that were taking up space on the shelves. We needed to do this to help make room for all of the potential new kids books they are bound to collect this year.

Raising A Bookworm By Choosing Engaging Kids Books

All three of my kids are bookworms and we spend a lot of time reading together or independently. It wasn’t always this way but by bringing books into our every day life, reading has naturally become part of what we do. My oldest is ten and he will take a book with us anywhere we go. In fact, because of this our car also has accumulated a decent library too.

The current hot read in our family is National Geographic Weird But True!. These are the perfect books for young readers, ranging from the reluctant reader to the avid page turner. Each book is filled with captivating kid friendly facts that grabs their attention.

Each volume has 300 hundred facts and topics range from the outrageous to slimy, sticky, smelly facts. The latter is probably the most popular volume in our home. National Geographic Weird But True! just celebrated one decade of publishing and they updated volume 1-10 of Weird But True for your reader to explore. In Canada you can find these fun books at Indigo, Costco and independent book shops. You can also shop on line here.

The kids are quick to pull facts from the books and they love being able to throw out their new knowledge in family conversations. There’s a lot of, ‘Mom did you know …’. Which makes for great dinner conversation and also a screen free alternative to passing time when we are driving in the car as family.

This is what ten year old Ben had to say about the Weird But True! books.

I think every kid my age would love these books. The books have so many fun facts inside and it’s about all different kinds of topics too. I love learning about different things like, Australian wombats poop is cube shaped! I also think the pictures in each book is really well done.

Facts And Fun Just For You

These are a few of my kids favourite Weird but True! facts from National Geographic Kids.

  • An average adult pees enough every year to fill a 150 gallon home aquarium.
  • There was no ice in Antartica 55 million years ago.
  • The hearts of some hummingbirds can beat faster than 1,000 times a minute.
  • Apples are one- quarter air.
  • In Thailand people have water fights to celebrate New Years.

Weird But True! has a Canadian contest happening now. If you have a reader in your family aged 6–14 they can enter. Kids can submit their own
verifiably weird fact about their hometown, province, or country. Just click over to National Geographic and follow the steps. The contest is open until January 31,2019.

Growing A Young Reader

Not every kid will eagerly sit down and want to read a book . Which is why finding different types of books is key in engaging them. Giving kids the opportunity to flex that reading muscle is so beneficial for their confidence.

For new readers, books that are broken up with a mix of pictures and words can help pique interest. Picture books also gives the learner hints to what the topic is about and can help to cue them for similar words.

Books that can be picked up and put down lets a reluctant reader engage at their own speed without losing track of what is happening inside the book. Ultimately giving them self assurance with reading.I

Comments

comments

Three kids and city living means that we do our share of dining out with kids and supporting the restaurant industry. I’ve got zero mom guilt over that one! It’s just so simple for us to head out the door, walk a few blocks to a restaurant and have lunch or an early dinner. This also means that my kids are all pretty familiar with dining out and restaurant manners have been instilled into them from the very start.

I’ve taken my trio out for meals by myself many times. In fact, I can remember this sense of total accomplishment the first time I took the two big kids and my tiny newborn out to a chain restaurant for dinner. We were one mama and three kids and I didn’t sweat it at all. We’ve been dining out as a family since the first was little and I find it really fun to go out to eat with my kids.

I always choose wisely when we go out for a meal. If someone is overly grumpy or tired, we won’t be going to a sit down restaurant. However, sometimes you make lunch plans to meet up with someone and you have to take your crew no matter what. I can be go with the flow on this one, however, we never waiver from our restaurant manners.

The Game Plan

Before we even get to the restaurant we talk about what the kids are going to order, all the way to what drinks they’ll have. I find this makes things simpler and avoids potential meltdowns once we are at the table. As soon as the kids could speak in sentences I’ve gotten them to order their own meal, the younger they are the more help they get from me. Before we give our order we talk about how it will sound and I gently remind them about using their manners and the importance of saying thank you and making eye contact with the server.

We always pack a long a bunch of table friendly activities to keep my people occupied while we wait at the table.  I have a strict zero tolerance for making loud sounds, walking around the restaurant or general kid flopping that can happen to the best of us. My very favourite time passer is books for big kids and the reusable Water Wow colouring books by Melissa & Doug for the littles. Seriously, the latter is so great and portable and genuinely loved by our family.

We also play a variety of games to pass the time with hangman being a popular table top game with my kids. If my crew starts getting antsy for their food we play a game of eye spy and the golden prize is the one who spies the food coming. These things are so simple but seriously keeps the kids focused while we wait.

The Expectations

Over the years the kids have grown to know what it means when we gently remind them about using their, ‘restaurant manners‘. They know that we expect them to sit at the table, use please and thank you and not use playground behaviour (loud and big).

If there are two adults at the table we will most definitely take the antsy one for a walk around but I don’t let my kids walk off on their own by other tables or stand up on the seats. Same goes with the tiny peepers who peer over the back of the booth to the next table. That’s a big no. I might be the ‘strict one’ when it comes to kids and restaurant manners but we’ve so many successful meals out together that I’m going to keep rolling with it.

Dining Out Success!

It’s a successful meal out at a restaurant when we only have one spill. I feel like every meal out there is usually the inevitable spill, especially with the under three crowd but sometimes even with the older kids. Either  random sauce or ketchup splats across the table or the contents of their water glass accidentally splashes out.

The last meal out my two year old was served a glass of water and she spilt half of it all over herself and the table during the two seconds I looked away. Live and learn. Water cleans up easier than chocolate milk or other beverages and half filled glasses make less mess.

If someone has a ridiculous meltdown we will leave. This is not used as an empty threat at all, we will pack up our food and leave. I am pretty relaxed in my daily life but I will not tolerate poor behaviour in a restaurant. I’m not the only person that came to enjoy a meal out and I’m very aware of that. I’d rather eat my food cold back at home then tolerate crazy behaviour. Luckily, I’ve only had to pack up our entire meal once.

The Fine Print

I totally get it if your kid has sensory issues or autism or there’s something else happening that this style of parenting just might not fit with your family. I feel like as long as you’re actively parenting your child, you are doing an amazing job! You are your kids best expert and if you think your kids won’t be able to handle eating out in a restaurant then you make that choice.

Quick Tips To Dining Out With Kids

  • Dining out with kids is best done early! Don’t go at peak meal times if you don’t need to. Have lunch at 11:30 AM and dinner just before 5 PM. There will be less people around and the place will be quieter. Meaning your table service will be speedier too and you won’t have starving kids melting down.
  • Always have an exit plan. If you are dining with your partner take turns being the one that hauls the noisy one out for a quiet little reminder about restaurant manners.
  • Mama says relax. Truly take this one into consideration. If you’re feeling anxious about your kids being all kinds of crazy they will 100% pick up on it and be even crazier than you imagined. Soften your shoulders, make yourself smile and enjoy being out with your family (and not having to cook!).

If you are currently working on your kids restaurant manners always regroup with them once you leave the restaurant. Let them know what was awesome, they sat at the table and used please and thank you, and what did not work.

Remember, dining out with kids is meant to be enjoyable for everyone, even for the mamas! If your kids aren’t quite ready to do a sit down dining out experience start small and get take away to enjoy at a park.

Comments

comments