Monday, November 28, 2016

Capilano Suspension Bridge: Canyon Lights

One of our family's traditional Christmas activities is to look at lights. We love wandering our neighbourhood and picking our favourite decorated homes and returning home for some hot chocolate. Over the years we have gone to various venues to see their Christmas lights and this year we were finally able to experience Capilano Suspension Bridge's Canyon Lights in North Vancouver.

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge

Friday, November 25, 2016

Enchant Christmas: What to Know

Last night we experienced the opening night of Enchant Christmas–the world's largest light maze.  It is located in Vancouver, by the Cambie Street Bridge, and open until New Years Eve as I've written about here.  Included on the grounds is the 55,000 square foot maze, Christmas market, food trucks, and a giant fire pit.  

If you are going to Enchant Christmas, these are the things that I would recommend to you:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

If you've been following along with me for the past year, you know I've been watching Gilmore Girls for the first time!  I love having it playing while editing photos or running on the treadmill.  I feel like it's been there with me through so many hard times this year.  The show isn't edge-of-your-seat action, it's just witty banter with some great pop culture references thrown in there (which is funny because my pop culture knowledge is really lacking).  This Friday, Netflix is releasing a revival of four seasons set ten years after the finale of the original series and is called Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

Kaboodles Toy Drive

Kaboodles is an award-winning independent toy store with three locations in Vancouver and one in Victoria.  The atmosphere is fun and unique and the toys they carry are great quality and good value–your kids will get a lot of play time out of them!  From Playmobil to Lego to wooden toys, they have something for everyone (even those Pokemon cards that my boys "have" to have).   Right now they have eight different advent calendars to choose from and we love our Playmobil one.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Choosing Your Values

One of the overwhelming feelings I have is this: I should do more. When I brought this up with my counsellor she asked me "Would you prefer to do more?" No way. I don't want to do anything else; I'm exhausted. I feel like there is this strong sense of "Be the perfect wife!" "Be the ever-present best mom!" "Give every opportunity to your foster child!" "Keep your house clean and the food healthy and homemade!" "Make more money!" There's so much more I could be doing but do I need to? No.

She recommended coming up with five values and focusing my energy on those things.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, check in and see if it fits with your list.

Monday, November 21, 2016

CozyBag™ Inflatable Hammock {Review}

When I first heard about the CozyBag™ I thought it looked so comfortable but couldn't imagine where I would store it.  I quickly learned that it only takes 10 seconds to inflate–without a pump–and is just 2.5 lbs and can be stored in a small bag.  Problem solved.  This inflatable hammock is a product that we can leave in our van for our day hikes and adventures as it is suitable for all terrain–it even floats!  We bring our regular hammock with us when we go camping every time but it's completely dependent on the presence of trees at a decent distance apart in our campsite so this is a great alternative and we can bring both so even more people can relax. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Five Must Haves When Travelling With Kids

We have done a variety of travelling with our three young kids; from backpacking to road trips to flying to SE Asia, our kids are pretty experienced travellers. Our youngest was just 14 months when we flew to the Philippines and Thailand and she was four years old when doing her first overnight hike. We have road tripped to places like Oregon, Tofino, Drummheller and Barkerville–there's always somewhere new to explore! Our kids are currently aged 4-10 and I'm so thankful for the adventures we've had and all that is to come.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Essential Adventure Jacket for Kids

When looking for a jacket, whether for myself or my kids, there are a few key components that are a must: waterproof, breathable, and comfortable.  The Helly Hansen award winning Jr Loke Packable Jacket was tried out by two of my kids who each have different concerns over what they would like in a jacket–it was a win!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Enchant Christmas Light Maze + Market {Giveaway}

If you live in the Lower Mainland, B.C., I am sure you have heard of the world's largest Christmas light maze coming to Vancouver November 24th: Enchant Vancouver.  This family-friendly festival will take place until New Year's Eve (with fireworks!) and contains a 55,000 square foot light maze, 64 foot Christmas tree, live performances and a marketplace–what an incredible way to get into the Christmas spirit!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

A Simple Discipline Tool: The Behaviour and Conseqence List

What do you do when your child is hitting his sibling in the back of the van and using words that he knows he is not allowed to?  You tell him to stop. Nothing. You yell at him to stop. Nothing.  You throw out consequence after consequence and suddenly he's never going to another birthday party again and there are no electronics for the next year and everyone is stressed.  Clearly there is a lot going on that needs to be dealt with (and we need an extra row in our van).

Last year I went to a presentation by Vanessa LaPointe where she talked about the importance of boundaries and likened it to the guard rails on the Pattullo Bridge.  If you are familiar that bridge, you KNOW how important the railings on the bridge are to making you feel safe.  Kids need to know the rules of the home just like I need to know the rules of my workplace.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

What We Learn Through Failing

The day I failed my driver's test was a huge wake-up call for me. I was used to succeeding in all that I did; to do my best and have it not be enough was something I couldn't handle. I did not have skills or perspective in place to deal with the failure and disappointment and my visceral response surprised me. My self-esteem took a huge tumble. Sure, I was 16 which means there are wild emotions already but this was so out of the norm for me that I wish I had experienced failure earlier – if not going through it, at least considered or taught how to approach it.

What we learn through failing

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Family Fun with Kidsworld Passes

Do you like to discover new educational and recreational experiences in the Lower Mainland with your family?  Kidsworld Vancouver has passes for $52.50 that allow your family adventures ranging from the Capilano Suspension Bridge to the Healthy Family Expo to Castle Fun Park from September to June on specific days.  The passes are for children aged 4-12 and includes an adult entry with each child.

Capilano Suspension Bridge was already one of our favourite places and we look forward to trying out many new ones over the year like Maan Farms, the Ecodairy, and Enchant Vancouver!  The Capilano Suspension Bridge is $13.95/per child (and 39.95/adult) so even after visiting the bridge alone, your pass has paid for itself. (*Note that this event took place in October already).

Friday, November 04, 2016

Investing in Yourself Through Self-Care

Self-care is taking the time and putting in the effort to work on our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. This concept is not something that I grew up with other than being encouraged to stay away from various substances for my overall health. One very important distinction made in Pyschology Today by Christine Mienecke Ph.D. is that self-care is not self-pampering or self-indulgence because that is just a temporary fix and doesn't work on the root of the matter. That new purse or manicure isn't going to make you feel better long-term.

I am not a health care professional or counselor but I am a 38-year-old type A mom of three biological kids and one foster child who has struggled with an autoimmune disease. I know the impact that stress can have on my life and have learned various ways to deal with it.

Here are 10 ways to take care of yourself in order to help have an optimal state of health:

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Thankful Thursday

Every Thursday I choose ten things to be thankful for.  To be honest, it's not always easy but I need it.  It helps to keep me focused.  The older I get the harder life seems to be sometimes.  My kids keep saying "attitude of gratitude" because I'm pretty sure SpongeBob said it recently but it's true, I want to have an attitude of gratitude while keeping it real. So, for this week I am thankful for:

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

My First Mammogram

Most women will have their first mammogram at the age of 40 but there are some cases in which it is recommended earlier. My mom was diagnosed at the age of 48 and therefore I was encouraged to have one 10 years prior to the age she was when diagnosed: 38. I put it off for a few months because it seemed a bit scary to me as both of my parents have had cancer but yesterday was the big day.

All women should be doing breast self-exams and I'll be honest that I'm terrible at them. I feel like there's so many other things I should be doing and just seem to forget. I'm thankful for the availability of mammograms and that it is free to us Canadians.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

What is Situational Depression?

This year was exhausting mentally, emotionally and physically. Adding another child to our home through the foster system with less support and higher needs than expected was harder than I thought–that doesn't mean it isn't worth it, it's just that it used up most of my energy that I had. Several months ago we received some information that affected our family and meant that even more would be required in regards to my time and attention. I felt that my energy reserves were depleted and although I knew I could advocate and learn and do all I needed to do, I didn't want to. I felt like I had nothing left in the tank to give. My body responded accordingly and shut down. I wanted to just stay in bed but I was able to still parent– anything beyond that felt like too much.

What is situational depression? What does it look and feel like?