Always Come Back

There's always something to do in your own backyard, grab a Glass of Rose. I'll be here

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Beginning Advent Calendar Days

PHEW I made it.  Finished filling Little A’s special Advent Calendar just in time.

December 1 came up so quickly this year.  Times certainly does NOT stand still when you have a toddler.

My husband and I are now quietly reading while Little A sleeps, but I’m bursting inside wanting her to wake up and see the Advent Calendar.  It looks like the Advent and the Chair are ready to go too.

Advent Calendar

Advent and Chair – ready for Little A

Isn’t it beautiful.  My sister-in-law and her husband made it for Little A last year.  I was astonished when they brought it out and presented to her. I was beyond words thinking about all the time, and energy that would have gone into making this advent calendar.   Hand crafted and every box filled with homemade, personal gifts from my wonderful in-laws.  Little A’s cousins helped by making finger puppets and writing stories and other gifts.  Beyond thoughtful!  Aurora is so lucky to be loved by my extended family.  I was so very touched by this gift.

Advent Calendar

Auntie showing Little A how to look for goodies in the Advent Calendar

Little A with her cousin playing match 2 - pair of cards each a photo of family members

Little A with her cousin playing match 2 – pair of cards each a photo of family members

 Little A figuring out how to open her advent gift

Little A figuring out how to open her advent gift

Little A opening her animal flash cards

Princess Butterfly gets to open finger puppets (notice the hockey in the background. sigh)

Princess Butterfly gets to open finger puppets (notice the hockey in the background. sigh)

Quietly colouring in her handy dandy notebook after opening box number 18

I could go on and on because last year I was obsessed with taking a photo every day when Little A opened them.  This year I will still take pictures but I want to enjoy the moments not behind the lens but beside her.  With Christmases to come I hope to make better and better choices with the items I put in the advent Calendar  -the inaugural Advent Calendar bar was set very high.  While this year my gifts are all store bought, for me the point was that  I did it, I followed thru and continued the tradition, that was important to me.


Happy 60th Birthday – Little things to make the party unique

My mom and I are the best of friends and it was her 60th birthday this month.  My brother and I wanted to throw her a special party filled with love and little touches to make her happy.  It was amazingly hard to keep it a secret from her.  I’m the kind of person who gets super excited and wants to dance gangnam style over fun ideas.  But this was a surprise party.

After calming myself down and putting aside what “I” would like in a party; I came across a couple ideas that would speak for themselves and would be meaningful to my  mom.  My mom is an outdoor lover.  She loves hiking, walking, cross country skiing and being out in the sun.  She is also an amazing woman who has survived cancer more times than anyone should be allotted in life.

Life and Nature floated around my brain.

Idea #1 – Trail mix bar

My mom is always nibbling on trail mix .  You can always find – almonds, craisins  close at hand when my mom is around.

Trail Mix Bar

I found some clean white bowls to serve a variety of individual trail mix options.  I paired the bowls with some large white spoons for scooping.

What to serve trail mix in?  I took brown lunch bags and cut them down with some squiggly scissors.  Then I hand stamped them with some birthday themes and some cute flowers.    Everyone could pick and choose their own amounts of pretzels, almonds, sunflower seeds, wasabi peas, teddy grahams, mini marshmallows, dried apricots etc.

Individual Trail Mix Bags

Idea #2 – Tree of Life/Love

My brother and I worked together to create a memorable guest book and Tree of Life.  A friend drew a beautiful tree with bare branches.  As guests arrived we asked each of them to add a “leaf”  with their thumbprint and then to do the same in the guestbook with a wish or happy birthday comment.

Tree of Life and Love

Thumb Print Stamping

The party was a great surprise and my brother and I even managed to surprise my dad with a dear friends traveling from Ontario to attend the party that he didn’t even know were invited.

Just a couple touches we hoped would make the evening unique and special.

Happy Birthday Mom with lots of love from your kids and grandkids to you!

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Where are the tots gyms this fall?

Children need to climb and run and jump and did I say run… Sometimes Vancouver rain keeps us from being able to be outside for a longer period of time.  The community centres are a parents saving grace when the November rains hit.  What to do? What to do?

Most of you know I have moderate a facebook group called Families Against Boredom   I started the group to invite anyone to post family events in and around Vancouver.  Tonight I sat down and went through all the local community centres to find out when they had Tots Gyms (open playtime for children under 5)

So here is the list  of Community Centres that have tots playgyms  and a great consolidated document from VSOCC:

Champlain Heights Community centre has Sunday playgym ages 0-5 9:30-11:30

Coal Harbour has a variety of playgym times every day (9:30-11:30, 12:00-1:30, 3:30-5:30)

Creekside Community Centre (Olympic Village ) has playgym on every day of the week see link for times. (either 9:30-12:30 or 2:30-5:30)

Trout Lake Community Centre has a play gym on Sunday mornings from 9:30 am to 11:30 am.

Dunbar Community Centre has Tots gym Mon- Fri 11:00-12:30

False Creek Community Centrehas tots gym morning of Mon, Wed. Fri. Sun.

Hasting Community Centre has tots gym Tues, Fri. Sat. 11-1:15

Hillcrest Centre has tots gym Mon-Fri 10:45-12:15 and one on Sunday

Killarney has tots gym Tues. Fri, Sun mornings

Marpole-Oakridge has a Tues. Midday and Sat am tots gym

Mount Pleasant Community Centre Mon-Sat. tots gym 10:15-12:15

Renfrew Park Community Centre Monday family gym 9:40-11:30

Roundhouse Community Centre Tots gyms Mon-Thur and Sat. various times

Sunset Community Centre Playgym Mon, Wed-Fri 10-11:30

Trout Lake Community Community Centre Tots gym Mon-Fri 10:00-12:00

West Point Grey Community Centre Family playtime Sat. and Sun 10:30-12:00

West End Community Centre Playtime Mon-Sat various time

there’s a FREE drop-in for kids 0-5 at Kimount Boys & Girls Club at 395 East 6th Ave (at Prince Edward), Mondays & Tuesdays from 9.30 to 11.30am every week

VSOCC list of Services for Families in the Downtown Core

I hope this helps any reader when the rain makes us all a bit stir crazy.  Sometimes there’s even bouncy castles = Heaven to two year olds

Little A – last November (working mom doesn’t get much of a chance to enjoy the tots gyms these days)

Pumpkin Time: make hay while the sun shines


Wasn’t the the start of Fall fantastic!  We had warm temperatures and sunny days.  Perfect for the pumpkin patch.

This year we chose the closest pumpkin patch possible, because we are still in potty training mode and I didn’t want to venture too far in the car and risk an accident.

We went to Southlands Heritage Farm

So much to see at Southlands Heritage Farm

With four kids under 4 years Southlands it was not too big, not too small but juuusssst right for our mid morning adventure. We gathered our troops and ventured over to the barn to visit the horses.

This horse was so friendly…”A” was giddy meeting him

The girls loved the horses, they talked about their colours,  if the horses were hungry, and which horses were happy and which were not.  I’m rather nervous around horses so I did’t let them get to close to A, but one of the horses was gentle and friendly so I took a step back and watched.

It was time to go to the apple orchard to find the perfect pumpkin.  A and her little pals Isla, Sydney skipped along thru a path finding the loose chickens and looking for bunnies.  Brixton stayed close to his mommy, being a little shy at first.

Brixton watched the girls play but soon enough warmed up and joined in the fun

Isla and A have been friends since A was born.  This was the first time they truly played and interacted. I loved the way Isla would call for Roara (adorable).  They took turns climbing the trees and playing games like jump off the stump, twirl the sign and other adventure games I couldn’t quite hear.  We adults had actual conversations that is when I wasn’t chasing the kids with my camera.

My turn to jump this fancy move

And then we win ! That’s what it says

Climbing Trees

So many cute moments in this quiet little apple orchard.  We were the only ones there.  The girls decided to make a pile of broken “celery” for the bunnies (do they even have bunnies there, I’m not sure but I wasn’t about to ruin their fun).  One by one they broke the weeds up and left a pile so the bunnies could eat.   They were concerned for little animals they didn’t even see that day, nature lovers.

This is for the bunnies

The kids got to hunt for their own best pumpkin to take home.  The little explorers examined pumpkins: some were too big, some weren’t round enough and some were just not right. This was serious business.

Pumkin Hunting

Isla, Sydney and A proudly posed with their new perfect treasure, each happy with their choices.

Queens of Pumpkin Land

We finished our trip to Southlands Heritage Farm with some playtime in the Straw Pile.  Everyone got into the act of throwing hay high in the air and letting it fall down all over them.  I could do a flip book I took so many quick shutter shots.  Being still new to blogging I’m not sure how to do a collage of photos so I can only post a couple.

Brixton figured out how to get in the straw game

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

The day was fantastic.  They all shared and played well together, had imaginary adventures and the sun shone down on us in more ways than one.

This gallery contains 21 photos


PNE – Almost Missed a First

Although A is only 2 an a few months I don’t think I’ve missed a first.  First steps, first word, first smile, first fall down the stairs, first cupcake, I even caught her first roll over with my old blackberry video – I apologize for the bad quality , the Blue Rodeo blaring and me screaming (so you might want to turn down the volume for this, there’s a very slow build up so feel free to skip to about 1:45)

A’s First Rollover – video link

But wait I have missed A FIRST.

I went back to work full time when A was 10 months old, she wasn’t walking yet, to me she was still so little.  The contract was a year long and another like that wouldn’t come available to me for some time.  I felt I needed to work.  I was a going to be a working mom.


One of the hardest  days was the day I missed a FIRST. In the beginning a friend nannied  for us (we lost daycare  a week before going back to work).  She was great, sent daily photo updates to my phone and I had absolute faith in her.  I devoured every message she sent me.

But then she sent me THE MISSING FIRST VIDEO!

I had taken A to Strong Start several times and she’d never gathered the courage to go thru the tunnel.  But while I was working – She did it. I was happy for her, devastated for me.  I put my head down and didn’t talk to anyone the rest of the day.  I couldn’t speak, the tears were one breath away.  I rushed out the front doors at 6pm and burst into tears, my heart racing, the cold February air not cold enough to numb my feelings.  I wanted to quit work right there.  What if I missed her first full step, her first day of school, her first dance recital, her first soccer game, her first heart ache.  My brain ran wild with failure, missing everything for what- My own stubbornness to be a women who can do it all:  Career and Motherhood. I was raised to have a career, I could do both.

Missing A FIRST shattered all future paths I had laid out. I cried and cried in front of the my friend and her boyfriend (who I met that evening), I cried in my husbands arms and I cried to sleep.

I needed to work, but I needed flexibility if I was going to survive trying to have a Career and be a Mom.

Fast forward to this week.  Daycare was going to the PNE… I was going to miss a First.  I tried to put on a brave face, my husband saw thru it.  I needed to go.  It might be silly to most but I can’t miss a first.  It makes me physically sick.

I’m amazingly lucky to be working at Atomic Cartoons right now.  They walk the talk about family comes first; I was able to work till noon then meet daycare at the PNE, and go back to work in the evening when my husband was home.

Let me now bask in the glow of PNE FIRSTS.

My daughter won her FIRST PRIZE

She popped balloons and “won” a pink bear. She was proud of herself and cuddled her pink bear tight against her cheek  as if  it was actually soft and cuddly. Two nights later that prize has been added to her bedtime collection of stuffies.


The Carrousel – She picked the perfect horse, sat on it proudly watching the other kids around her, wondering what was going to happen. Then the carrousel started to turn and the horse went up and down.  She was amazed.  I watched her wonderment and fought back happy tears.  How lucky was I to share this moment with her. I tried to be quiet to let her soak it in. (not an easy feat for me)

She went on her FIRST RIDE BY HERSELF!

The little boat ride. An older girl who sat in the front of the boat with her own little brother asked her name and eased my daughters initial trepidation.  The ride started to move and with a big smile she grabbed the steering wheel and searched for me – she wanted to show me how much fun she was having!  I soaked up the visual and yelled her name every time she came around my way.

All I have left to say is thank you.  Thank you daycare for going, thank you Atomic Cartoons for being totally fine with my split shift, and thank you to my husband for knowing I needed to go and giving me just enough of a hand squeeze to help me feel I could go.

I have a Facebook group called Families Against Boredom (F.A.B) where I like to share Vancouver family events I think might be interesting.  My goal for F.A.B is for everyone to have a comfortable place to ask for advice, give advice – a sense of community even if we live in different municipalities. Check it out and join in the conversation.

We are all new to parenting at one point.  Regardless of the debate : living in the city vs. quieter suburbs or small towns. I say make the most of where you live.  I’m lucky to be living in Vancouver.  I can hike, sit at the beach, see great art, and music.  I have access to elite classes or  community courses for my daughter – wherever she ends up – I have access.

There’s so much in our own city to enjoy.  Searching can be overwhelming.  FAB takes a bit of the search out for you.  And you have opinions from other parents… how good is that.  Sometimes we don’t have time to read a whole blog review about an event or park.  F.A.B is quick- as a parent you need quick.

Somedays all I have time for is a quick scan of my Facebook updates on my phone.  I hope Families Against Boredom grows and more people add events they like, or upcoming festivals, great playgrounds.  Please join and lets see where it leads you and me. Families Against Boredom

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Sesame Street Live… Did I go for my daughter or me?

I’m always on the hunt for things to do as a family.  I don’t do this casually, I am quite obsessed. I started Families Against Boredom on Facebook to share my obsessive searching with others.  I am mulling around future plans to make it more.  I’ll save that for another post.  Feel free to check out the Facebook Group, join if you live in Vancouver, I’m sure you’ll benefit and enjoy.

Anyways I bought tickets to Sesame Street Live!  My daughter rarely watches is so this past week I tried to get her to watch the show so she’d be somewhat familiar.  We watched one full episode.  Oh well.  Its a concert and that usually gets her excited. But I grew up watching Sesame Street:

I learned to count to 12 with the pinball game song


Grover taught me about near and far 

And I learned to read by sounding out letters to make words like Hooootttt Doooogggg 

I could go on an on.  Sesame Street is forever engrained in my psyche.

I was excited about getting there early to hit the Playzone.  OVERRATED  or not at all what I expected – There were about a dozen cut out characters that you could take your photo beside.  I have no patience for pushy parents and seeing how my daughter wasn’t impressed with them either we went to our floor seats.

Great seats  Centre stage row 4.  I’ve rarely had such good seats for any adult concert.  Whoo hooo! The lights dim lightly and the show starts.  I thought this was a good way to help little ones adjust to a theatrical show.

And the show began!  I’m not going to lie, my heart rate increased the second I saw Bert and Ernie.  It was like I was 5 years old again at my cousins house in the basement on a Saturday morning – nothing else mattered.  There was Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Grover, the Count and Cookie Monster.  I wanted to jump up and wave and tell them they made life good.  I wanted to hug them  and thank them for making me feel safe – they were my childhood.

They were real, I mean really real

The show was cute , it had a good theme, and fun dance routines.  It might have been a little long because the last ten minutes of the show I was surrounded by chorus of meltdowns (although the cotton candy vendors made a killing at intermission so i’m sure there sugar crashes didn’t help the 2nd half of the show).  I would have liked more familiar songs but then maybe the songs I know are ..dare I say …OLD… I mean there were characters I didn’t know who they were (Abby, Rosita, Zoe and Baby Bear).  And I wanted to see Snuffleupagus (he’s real now you know!)

Overall – good times were had by all three of us.