November 21, 2014

Holiday Plans

Now that it’s mid-November, holiday decorations are starting to come out, and Christmas plans are starting to materialize. I wasn’t really a “Christmas Spirit” person until we moved to Montreal. Something about my first and only Orphan Christmas activated my holiday gene. Now I am so excited to get into all the fun, festive things this year.

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Last year, B’s first Christmas, was a pretty rotten Christmas. On top of several family losses, B and my mom got very very sick. We were pretty much housebound for the 2 weeks up to and after Christmas. I think part of being so excited this year is making up for how rotten last year was! I’ve got a pretty busy line up of events!

We’ll welcome the holiday season with TWU’s Christmas at the Chan Centre. We go every year, and even though we aren’t religious, the choir sings so beautifully, even the most entrenched atheist can get lost in the hymns. It’s the most festive way to open the season.

B and I will probably take one of our Fridays together and go to see Scuba Claus at the Vancouver Aquarium. Despite my new love of the holidays, I’m not crazy about the whole “Santa Claus” business. I can definitely get behind “Scuba Claus” though! There’s also other festive programming there that looks like fun.

As a family, we also want to go to the Stanley Park Christmas Train and the VanDusen Gardens Festival of Lights. My family always hopped in the car and toured the nebulous suburban developments near us to see which houses had the most spectacular Christmas light display. These two events feel like the urban equivalent of that.

We’ll be spending the week of Christmas in Seattle. Seattle lights up so beautifully at Christmas; despite the rain, it really is one of the best times to visit. I’m excited to go to the Winter Village at Westlake Park, which was always a treat when we were little. And B has never been on a carousel!

I would love to sneak in a trip to the mountains so B can have a bit of a White Christmas, but if that’s not in the cards, we’ll try and make one of the Snowtime showings at Pacific Place while we’re in Seattle. It could also be a convenient time for last-minute shopping!

Like I said, lots of festivities. Time to get out my calendar and pencil them all in!

November 2, 2014

Halloween

Happy Halloween!

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We had a very busy Halloween this year. I kind of felt like we were doing 2 years of Halloween in one. Last year, Breccan was 8 weeks old, we were still struggling with breastfeeding, and we were just recovering after a loss in our family. I was still learning where to shop for baby clothes (I’m still learning!), so costumes felt like so much work. B only even got this Halloween onesie because someone bought it for him:

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What a difference a year makes!

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We opted for a party with friends this year instead of trick or treating. B may be walking, but he’s pretty distractable, and getting even a few houses in would have taken forever. Next year, though, I’m not sure we’ll be able to escape it!

October 14, 2014

Road Trip: Long Beach, WA

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We took B on our annual trip to Long Beach, WA for the first time a few weeks ago. My family runs a charity golf tournament to benefit St. Judges Children’s Hospital. Usually, we drive to Seattle Friday evening, Long Beach early Saturday morning, play golf, hop in the car and drive back to Seattle, and then head home from there on Sunday. But now that B is along for the trips, we’ve decided to start spending more time in Long Beach itself.

My grandma used to take us to Long Beach when we visited her in the summer. It’s a sleepy beach town, with good candy shops, ice cream, and a bit of a run down carnival atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of it in the years to come.

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We mostly spent our time exploring the beach, as it was sunny and unseasonably hot. B hadn’t yet played in the ocean, and he was not a fan of the waves. There were a few terrified shrieks in there!

We also got chowder at Captain Bob’s Chowder House. I highly recommend it – we tried both the salmon chowder and the traditional claim chowder.

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I’m already excited for next year. There were some more restaurants I’m keen to test out, and next year B will be old enough to appreciate some of the rides!

September 15, 2014

Favorite Hikes – Baby-Carrying Edition

B and I spent our first year together getting out in the woods more than I have before. I find the woods calming – the air is clear, and you can get good exercise while not feeling like it’s a slog. We definitely found some favorites. Here are some of our recommendations:

Buntzen Lake – Best with Dogs

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I loved the Buntzen Lake hike we did this winter. It was foggy and moody by the lake, and the trail has nice short rolling inclines and descents. It’s long enough that energetic pooches will get worn out, but easy for those just looking for a low impact jaunt out of doors. Plus there are so many pooches, your furry family member is bound to make a friend or two!

Eagle Bluffs – Best Workout

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This is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is well worth the work! The start of the hike is a steep ascent for 45 minutes. It levels out at the top, but is also a fairly long distance. Once you get to your destination, the view is one of the most spectacular. You can see pretty much the entire Lower Mainland, from the Gulf Islands to the Fraser Valley to Semiahmoo Bay. You’ll definitely feel like Supermom after this one!

Nairn Falls – Best Getaway

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Nairn Falls in Pemberton is a good little hike if you feel like a scenic road trip. It’s a pretty short hike, but the river is lovely, and the waterfall is pretty majestic. The drive from Vancouver to Pemberton is so beautiful, the 3 hours pass by in no time. We were nursing Colds when we did this hike, so if you wanted more time in the woods, I’d pair it with Shadow Lake.

Capilano River – Best for Multi-Level

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I know I just wrote about it, but I’m still impressed with how much this hike offered for all ages and levels. You never go too long without a good viewpoint. The fish ladder at the Hatchery is lots of entertainment for young kids. And you still get some workout in with a few good hills.

Lighthouse Park – Best Quickie

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If you only have a short time for a hike, Lighthouse Park is the way to go. The drive out showcases some neat West Van mansions. The hike down to the Point Atkinson Lighthouse is quite short, and has a good area for little to romp around. Personally, I prefer the Juniper Point Trail, which has a wonderful view up Howe Sound. Bonus – there are some rock climbing routes here if your kids are old enough to mind the edge (definitely not safe for toddlers!)

Those were some of the standouts from the hikes we did this year. Winter brings snowshoe season, so I’m hoping the weather will allow for some more good outdoor adventures in the months to come!

September 13, 2014

Capilano Watershed

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We went on a hike around the Capilano Watershed today. It was a great hike, one that will grow well with B as he gets older and more mobile. It was flat enough that once he’s a bit better of a walker he’ll be able to tackle it, but with a short uphill section to give a bit of a workout. The Hatchery and the Cleveland Dam were good stopping points – the Hatchery had a fish ladder that was very entertaining, and the Dam had a nice park for picnicking. For a short hike, it sure had some gorgeous little nooks of scenery!

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September 12, 2014

Field Trip Fridays

We’ve been changing to a new schedule around here. I’m back in school four days a week, and B has a combination of days in daycare and with his Nana. It’s been a relatively smooth – only a few clingy evenings and I’m hopeful we’re getting through the restless nights soon!

I’m happy to be back in school – mat leave was great, but it’s nice to have some balance and external structure to my days. And I’m liking being a student – I was too restless in my 20s to be able to study, but I feel very happy to spend evenings with my textbook these days.

The best part about this new schedule, though, is that B and I still have Fridays together! I’ve signed us up for a morning class to keep us a bit on routine, and hopefully we’ll get some good afternoon outings in after that. Especially now that I have the student all-zone transit pass!

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This week we went to check out the Aquarium. They’ve reopened after a big remodel, and it looks great! With the teacher’s strike still ongoing, it was way more crowded than I was hoping for. I wasn’t able to let B test his walking out as much as I was hoping because he nearly got run over by kids camp after kids camp. But we still had a good time. The jellyfish are still by far his favorite!

August 28, 2014

B Turns One!

I can’t believe it, my little guy is turning one! What a year it’s been.

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A year ago, our little B came into the world. Right away he had a look of wisdom and a desire to see as much of the world as we are able to show him.

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He has developed into a social, cheerful little guy who knows how to bring the party. Which is why we’re still working on the sleep thing. But he’s a good cuddler when he does go to sleep, so it’s okay.

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He’s grown from an tiny little chicken into a  handsome monkey. I can’t believe the difference one year has made, and I can’t wait to see what the next one brings!

Happy Birthday Little B!

August 25, 2014

Grouse Grind

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B and I braved the Grouse Grind a few weeks ago. Had I done it before, I made not have attempted it with a baby. But a good mix of courage and stupidity made me decide to give it a go! It’s also one of those trails I feel okay going solo, since it’s such a tourist trap.

A few things I learned my first time:

1) Use a proper hiking pack. I love my Beco Gemini because it’s low profile and light weight. But proper hiking packs have somewhat better weight distribution, which will save your shoulders on a longer hike. They also usually double as chairs and have little pockets to stash things. Which brings up my second point…

2) Don’t bring the diaper bag. Literally pack 1-2 diapers, an extra onesie, and snacks. You likely won’t change a diaper on the way up, and if you need wipes, paper towels at the lodge will suffice.

3) Eat outside. It was quite crowded the day we went, and all the balcony seats in the cafeteria were taken. I intended to poke around afterward and check out the scenery, but I was in an endorphin and food coma and could barely navigate to the gondola down! I wish I could have enjoyed the view from the top a bit longer.

Now that I’ve learned my lesson, I think I’ll have a better trip if there’s a next time. I swore on the way up “Never Again”. But now that some time has passed, and some other moms have expressed interest, there might be a trip in my future. The feeling of accomplishment at the top is pretty incredible, and B was itching to try a few of the steps himself!

August 19, 2014

Trout Lake Fun

One of the best things about living on Commercial Drive is the proximity to Trout Lake. It’s perfect for feeling a bit tucked away from the busy city. From our house, it’s a pleasant little walk, mostly along the Central Valley Greenway. We had my baby shower there, and we will have B’s birthday party there.

B is just barely old enough for playgrounds, so we’ve just begun to explore the local parks to find our favorites. So far, even though we live very near a smaller, less crowded park, I like the experience of Trout Lake much better. There’s a little beach, two playgrounds (one with a very baby-friendly area), ample grassy sections, and there is always something going on to stop and watch.

We made a trip there a few weeks ago when it was super sunny out. I love being able to get out in the sunshine, but I wish B would tolerate a hat! He always looks a bit disheveled when he’s slathered in sunscreen!

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Enjoying a swing at the Eastside Playground

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Contemplating at the beach

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B thinks wheels are the coolest right now.

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The mud pit at the Westside Playground was the greatest, but marked the end of our visit!

August 19, 2014

Stanley Park Exploring

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