Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

Back when we first became parents to our first, circa 2008, we decided we weren’t going to do the whole Santa Claus thing. We wanted all of the gifts to be from us and decided we wanted to skip the whole concept of Santa as an actual person. A person who sneaks into our home while we are sleeping. 

When You Don’t Do Santa 

It turned out that not including Santa Claus in our Christmas was actually a very unpopular opinion amongst some friends and family. In fact, one friend didn’t want to hang out with us during the month of December in case we slip out that Santa wasn’t real.

Obviously, we wouldn’t go around crushing childhood dreams but these friends were still worried! I mean our first kid was only three years old but I guess you never know when truth bombs might be dropped

Changing Ideas Around Santa

Fast forward to child number two and we started to relax our ideas around the whole Santa thing. The kids really loved the idea of Santa and the magic that went with it. So, we allowed our views to change and did our first Santa visit when our oldest was four years old.

Two girls reading a story with Santa in a red suit.
Story time with Santa himself. 

While we don’t pump up Santa to be a magical man who flies around the world in one night visiting all the worlds children, we still love the idea of Santa as a character. That’s the beauty of parenting, we get to choose the parts that works the best for us and our family.

For the past seven years we have loved talking about Santa and embracing the idea that he is part of the magic of the holiday season. We have done a few Santa visits and we have occasionally left out a plate of cookies and glass of milk.

Curious Children Ask Big Questions

My kids are currently 10, almost 7 and 3 years old. The ten year old knows that Santa is a make believe character. A few years ago he asked us if Santa was real and we asked him what he thought. He said, ‘Mum, I’m pretty sure that he isn’t real…but do I still get presents if I think he isn’t real?’. In that moment we told him he had now graduated the ranks and he would now become our special elf that night.

He loves helping fill his two sisters stockings with treats and toys while they are off sleeping. The last year he was absolutely thrilled seeing the magic the next morning and being part of it too. Even when all three of my children are grown I hope we still do the magical stockings. The ones that are empty at night and filled up with treats in the morning.

Santa does stop at our home and the kids do get small gifts and treats from him.  He doesn’t give the big gifts, those always come from us. We felt comfortable changing how we did things as parents and we love talking about Santa Claus coming to visit. 

In our home Santa is still a character. We don’t pretend that he is a real person that visits our home while we sleep. Back when we were an apartment dwelling family it was always tricky to explain how Santa got up to our tenth floor condo. Especially as there was a secured elevator access and no chimney or front door!

The six year old is starting to get curious about Santa and I suspect she actually knows he is not real but is going along with the whole thing because of the magic feeling. When she is ready to ask we will ask her what she thinks and let her lead the conversation.

Letting The Magic Of Santa Exist

If my kids want to believe in Santa, we go with it. One thing I know for sure is that these young years of childhood are quite short in the scheme of things. There is so much magic everyday in childhood and sadly it does eventually disappear. If the idea of Santa Claus makes them feel happy, I am all for it.

Believing in Santa will look differently for each family and I love that. There will be families on either side of the Santa Claus debate and lots in the middle. I am glad that we changed our parenting views around Santa and I get some of my own joy out of doing the behind the scenes Santa stuff.

The Big Santa Visit

We don’t do Santa photos every year. I think we’ve maybe done about three different sessions over the years. However, the other week I took my two girls to go and have a private visit with Santa. It would be our three year old’s first time doing a visit one on one.

We sang Christmas songs together and read a few holiday themed books with him. Of course there was milk and cookies and the girls gave him their Christmas wish lists. It was a special visit for sure and one I’m glad I got to share in this magical part of their childhood.

Tell me, what do you do about Santa in your home? 

Want to read some more holiday inspiration? Check out our other posts!

The Best Christmas Cookies 

Do You Send Out Christmas Cards?h

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It’s here. Rainy day after rainy day has officially arrived. We’ve dug out all of the boots, raincoats and umbrellas and have moved them to the front of the coat closet. For many parents rainy days inevitably encourage more time at home. Having to venture out in the rain can make every day activities feel like a huge hassle. Especially with kids in tow and the potential of being wet and cold at the same time.

Together with my three Vancouver kids we compiled our favourite things to do on a rainy day. Vancouver didn’t earn its nickname of Raincouver for no reason. As a family living in Vancouver we are all well versed on this wet wet season. A season that seems to span November to April and beyond.

How To Make The Best Of A Rainy Day

When asking my ten year old his favourite part of staying home on a rainy day he piped up right away, ‘making an epic fort!’. We’ve done this for years and it’s popular with toddlers all the way through to big kids. The key is to not let the mess get you feeling overwhelmed.

Sometimes we bring out our old Ikea kid tent and fill it with piles of books. Other times we magically transform the kids bunkbed into a wondrous cave of  make believe. For extra fun turn off the lights and bring out some flashlights.

Dance Party! This is the absolute favourite of my two girls. Move the furniture out of the way and crank up your kids favourite tunes. Change things up with a round of freeze dance or dance like your favourite animal. Bonus points if you also get up and bust a move. Such a great way for kids to burn off extra energy from being cooped up inside.

Rummage through the cupboards and whip up some of this amazing no cook play dough. We love making this chocolate scented play dough and all three kids will sit and play with it. Plus this stuff smells amazing and keeps forever.

Be okay with not doing much. We don’t need to fill up every single day with kid focused activities. Getting lost in a moment of play can actually be a fabulous thing. I love Dr. Deborah McNamara and her thoughts on the importance of play and letting your kids really get inside that bubble of play.

It’s Okay To Get Wet

Suit up and escape to the outdoors for some fresh air and puddle jumping. In all of the years I’ve lived here in Vancouver there have been many times where I forwent holding an umbrella while pushing a kid in a stroller because I wanted to hold a coffee instead.

Fill up the bath and set up a kid friendly movie on the counter using your laptop or iPad. A perfect way to warm up after puddle jumping. We love doing this one and the kids will stay in the bath until they turn into wrinkly prunes. It’s funny how just changing up something so routine as a bath can become extra fun.

While I would much prefer sunshine over rain, I will always still prefer rain over snow!  Know a rainy day ideas that has been kid approved? Feel free to share them in the comments.

 

 

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Last week I had a single kid free/work free hour slotted into the afternoon for a very specific mission.  I had one hour to go and find a dress to wear to a dear friend’s wedding. An evening wedding that was just two days away. No pressure at all.  Looking through my closest revealed that the entire wardrobe selection lacked anything formal enough for the occasion or even remotely appropriate for the season. A new dress was completely justified.

I stepped into Nordstrom’s in downtown Vancouver and made my way up the escalator to the women’s department. The usual cheery saleswomen made contact but I felt more efficient going around on my own. Within several minutes I had found three different potential outfits including a fancy pantsuit.

The dress that I was the most excited to try on was a long sleeved, floor length gown in purple velvet that totally caught my eye. Sometimes a woman just knows! Off to the fitting room and the dress went on and it fit like a glove. It was totally love at first sight and I truly did say, ‘Wrap it up! I’ll take it!’.

The Dress

With the perfect combination of  soft velvet and a gorgeous neckline, the dress was sold. The saleswoman was being so helpful and offered to let me try on various other dresses but the clock was ticking and this purple number by Vince Camuto made me feel like a total Queen.

Even more success was that I didn’t need a strapless bra as the neckline allowed for straps. Which can be challenging for many formal dresses. I truly love those kind of details. Plus not having to spend more time or money on finding undergarments that work. Despite how form fitting the dress is it had a nice stretch to the material which leant itself to walking and dancing and moving around.

This dress is truly a gown and the timeless cut will allow it to be in my closet for years. It is such a comfortable gown that I am already looking forward to the next occasion to wear it.

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There is no shame in my Christmas game. Calling all Vancouverites who love attending a good market before the holiday season really starts up. We’ve got our annual visit for the Circle Craft Market coming up and we want you to come too!

Going to the Circle Craft Market has become a bit of a tradition for me. In fact, I look forward to it every single year and have been going since 2009. I love being able to see all the different artisans and do a bit of  shopping. Over the years I’ve found so many special gifts at this market and all exhibitors are Canadian and many are local to British Columbia. The last few years the market has also included distilleries and wineries.

Pictures of curated items from the market

Enter to win two tickets to this years Circle Craft Market happening on November 7-11, 2018 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West.  You can also buy your tickets on line here , before November 7th you can get a $2 discount on each ticket.

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Vancouver has so many fun opportunities happening from now through the holiday season. Check out some our favourite things to do in the city.

Vancouver Christmas Market

Snow Day in the City

The Best Holiday Cookie

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Parenting can be a lot of fun, especially when there’s family friendly activities to go and check out. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite events happening in and around Vancouver this month. All of them are Mama in the City approved.

Richmond Country Farms Pumpkin Patch

Recently we attended opening day at  Country Farms Pumpkin Patch. We lucked out on some gorgeous dry weather and spent several hours at the farm. Families can enjoy live music and entertainment along with a proper ride on a hay wagon to the pumpkin patch.

The entry fee includes one pumpkin of your picking and a crisp apple to enjoy. For a small extra fee a train can take you for a tour around the farm. There’s an assortment of food stands are available and range from coffee,wood fired pizza, kettle corn and more.

Insider Tip: Even on a dry day wear your boots to the patch and pack a change of footwear for the ride back home.

Cost: $11-13 per person

FlyOver Canada Halloween

A twist on the usual Canadian Flyover Canada, this experience features special guest Broomelda. My big kids love checking out Halloween at FlyOver Canada and look forward to graduating from the Haunted Witch Academy. While there may be some spooky decorations and element of scare, as long as your child meets the height requirements it is a family friendly event.

Insider Tip: Make this a fun family excursion out by pairing it with the event listed below.

Cost: $19.55- 28.05 per person

Stanley Park Ghost Train

The train at Stanley Park is a Vancouver classic! While the train operates at various times throughout the year, during the month of October there is a Halloween themed railway adventure. This year from October 11-31 the train takes on the theme of Jack O’Lantern’s Journey Through The Dark Forest. With live performers to add to your 2 KM train ride.

Interesting to note that this railway only exists due to the forest ground that was previously cleared by Typhoon Freda back on October 12, 1962. A terrible devastating storm that had winds reported at 145 KM/HR.

Insider Tip: If you want to attend this event in the  daytime check out the matinee. Matinees are on Friday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm and during these times there are no spooky elements or live performers. Plus, new this year there are unlimited rides between 11am and 2pm. If you have a kid that loves things on repeat, this one is for you.
Cost: $6-12 and FREE for under two.

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Halloween Party For Families

Last year I took my three kids, in costume, to the family Halloween Party at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Kitsilano location. The kids made their own pizzas, enjoyed treats from the candy bar, made potions at the drink bar and had their face painted. It was a great way to enjoy some costumed fun and an also an evening out.This years party is on October 28 from 4:30 – 7:30 pm and is held at both Vancouver locations, Main Street and Kitsilano.  This family friendly event encourages parents to relax over dinner while the kids enjoy Halloween pizza making and other fun activities.Insider Tip: Reserve your spot ahead of time so you don’t miss out.

Cost: $15/per child and includes pizza, candy bar, drinks and face painting

We hope you and your family get out and about to enjoy some of these fun Vancouver activities. 

 

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Ten years ago I started my parenting journey and it totally rocked my world. It was not at all like I thought it would be. However, I have fond memories of that first year with a baby. While I’ve had many parenting successes, I’ve also had just as many parenting flops.

I don’t think it is possible to enter parenthood knowing everything about how to raise a baby and beyond. It’s truly a constant trial and error of life experience. Often getting close to reaching that potential expert level and then, just like that, it’s over and things change.

It turns out no matter how many books you have read you won’t ever be fully prepared for all aspects of raising a baby. Sure you can surround yourself with all the positives. You can have that village. All of us will still make some mistakes at some point. That is okay. That is normal.

Truth bomb, we love our kids and will do what it takes to do a good job at raising them into awesome humans but we will still make mistakes.

Five Things I Regret

  • Comparing every aspect of my baby to every other baby that I knew or saw. 

My first baby came out crying and did not stop for the first 12 months. He was a high needs fussy pants and it was a total shock. That whole first year I constantly thought I was doing something wrong. I looked at other new mothers out and about in the city, pushing their babies in strollers, and wondered what the heck was wrong with me. I had to do the fussy baby wearing dance while the fancy stroller was collecting dust in the corner because my baby screamed bloody murder if I tried to put him in it.

One regret I have is, instead of looking at the positives of baby wearing I felt like baby wearing was a negative chore. I felt like a failure for not being able to soothe my baby while he was laying quietly in a cot. With the second and third baby I quickly found the positive benefits of baby wearing. Baby wearing meant I had two hands free to take care of other kids and keep a baby quiet and sleeping!

  •  Spending way too many hours on line ‘researching’ how to get my baby to sleep. Then feeling like a failure when my baby would only sleep in a carrier or on me or for a short amount of time. 

First time parents this one is for you especially. The amount of energy, stress and worry that I spent on figuring out how to get my first baby to sleep is absolutely laughable now.  There is basics of infant sleep that are important, like establishing a bedtime routine. However, the truth is once you have baby #2 or #3 (or #4 !) you realize that being flexible and going with the flow is actually  your biggest win.

Ensuring that your baby sleeps somehow will often work the best. With the great lesson of, sleep begets sleep and a well rested baby is often easier to put down than an overtired baby. It turns out that napping on the go in a carrier is actually less of a burden than it felt like the first time around.

  • Bringing my sick kid out in public because I didn’t realize just how fast kids spread germs.

There are a few sentences that put total fear in me as a parent. ‘Mum, my tummy hurts‘ is one . These words make me want to go and grab the bleach and start dowsing down everything and anything. This is totally a learned behaviour after parenting for a decade. With three kids in the house, all who attend school/preschool, I am well versed in just how contagious vomit/diarrhea can be and I am ALL about the quarantine. I cringe when I hear that a school mate was up through the night vomiting but still showed up to class. CRINGE!

Read about our experience with the contagious Hand Foot and Mouth Disease 

  • Not traveling with my first baby because I was too concerned about him crying hysterically on a plane.

Baby #3 has been on way more air travel adventures compared to our first. It wasn’t until after a few kids that I realized how much easier traveling with one crying baby versus three would have been. I just did not know that at the time. Instead I kept thinking things would get easier. With our first baby the idea of traveling felt totally off limits. I regret this, especially as I had a full year off work that would have been ideal for travel. Things don’t necessarily get easier in parenting. Parenting changes and your personalized bag of tricks for survival gets bigger.

You have two choices when you have a baby and want to travel. You can put travel on a hiatus till your kids are old enough to schlep their own bags and sit in a confined space or you can  figure it out and go. Here’s the thing, your baby might cry bloody murder the whole flight. That could happen. It might be an uncomfortable sweaty journey filled with forced smiles. Here’s  the bottom line, you will never see these people again. If you are actively parenting a crying baby then you are doing everything you need to be doing. Just take that baby and travel.

  • Believing that I did not need a baby book to write down milestones because I would remember all of the firsts.

It sounds so ridiculous now but I really did believe that the love for my baby would ensure that I filed away every single important milestone forever and ever. It turns out that sleep deprivation and baby jiggling does NOT help make those memories stick around. First word? I think it was ball.  First tooth, let’s say 6 months! First steps, hmmm what’s the usual age?

I wish that something like locally made Mushy Books existed back when my first was born in 2008. As a lover of paper products and shopping local this modern day baby book looks like it would have been so lovely to write in. Even if the book ended up being just for me, it would have been all kinds of sentimental. That first year of parenthood has so many amazing milestones.

If you are a seasoned parent tell us what regret you would add to the list? That first year of parenting seriously can knock your socks off. To all of you awesome first timers surviving out there, you’ve got this.

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