{FAMILY} This Is How We Do Spring In Vancouver

May Quote

For me, May is the month of milestones. It’s the month I gave birth to both my first born, and my littlest bee. It’s the month we celebrate the birth of my mother, and the gift of motherhood. It signifies the start of my writing career, and the anniversary of our move to BC’s North Shore where we now call home.

May is not just about the flowers that bloom after April’s showers, it also marks the beginning of a slew of sunny days in Vancouver – and we plan to take full advantage.

Spring Vancouver

River dipping and berry picking in Peekaboo Beans – perfect for a day of outdoor play

This weekend, we did just that. We toddled along the tippy rocks that decorate the river’s edge. We dipped our toes in the icy cold water, and watched as river bugs and tiny fish splashed past our feet. We picked salmon berries from the bushes that line the river’s long and winding corridor, and we turned our faces to the sun and soaked up its warming rays.

Cloey's Outfit: Peekaboo Beans

Cloey’s Outfit: Peekaboo Beans

 

Spring Vancouver

Spring Vancouver

Gavin’s Outfit: Peekaboo Beans

After a quick lunch at home, we headed back outside for some old-school fun on our new trampoline. The weather was so warm that we decided to set the kids up with a fun cool-off-in-the-sun activity that we used to do in our childhood days – we set up the sprinkler under the trampoline, put the kids in their bathing suits, and hours of fun ensued.

Springfree Vancouver

Springfree Vancouver

 

As the day cooled off, we wound down with a little quiet time before heading in for dinner. My hubs and I sat back and sipped on ice cold beers while we watched our little ones bond – enjoying every moment of Spring in Vancouver.

Spring Vancouver

 

We had a full day outdoors – and it didn’t cost a thing.

I can’t wait to see what else May has in store for us. With this beautiful weather and so many more milestones on the horizon, May truly does make it seem as though all things are possible.

{TRAVEL} Springs RV Resort (Harrison Hot Springs)

Our family loves to explore local travel destinations, and Harrison Hot Springs has always been at the top of our list of family favourite getaways. And while we’ve always vacationed at the same resort in years past, this year we were invited to try something a little different – a weekend stay at Springs RV Resort.

I had never stayed in an RV, and had preconceived notions of what an RV park would have to offer as a travel destination, but I kept an open mind and was excited to explore my favourite BC spot from a new perspective.

When we arrived at the resort, I was in awe. As we drove into the gates, I realized that this wasn’t your average trailer park, this was a luxury retreat – complete with a plethora of kid-friendly amenities and family activities.

Harrison Hot Springs

When we pulled up to our site, I was impressed by the cleanliness of the grounds – each site was well cared for and carefully landscaped, and each featured its own unique, custom-built deck made of rough-cut timber, and cedar shake roofed gazebos with outdoor kitchens. Each site also featured a shabin (a shed-cabin!) with built-in bunk beds for the kids. The shabin was definitely a highlight for my little ones who spent hours playing in their own little fortress.

RV stay

While we had originally planned on spending most of our weekend enjoying the Sasquatch Festival in the lakeside village of Harrison Hot Springs, we found that there was just so much to do in our own little RV community, so we opted for outdoor activities that were a bit closer to home base.

Steps from our door were some lovely forested trails, perfect for a family stroll on a hot Summer’s day.

Harrison Hot Springs

With record-high temperatures, we also loved splashing in the beautiful pools.

Harrison Hot Springs

And after dinner, our kids loved playing on the treed playground, featuring an antique carousel (originally from The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, a true heritage piece).

Harrison Hot Springs

We quickly learned that there was so much more to do at Springs RV Resort than just glamping in an RV – it’s no wonder they’ve received recognition as one of the top RV resorts in North America!

Harrison Hot Springs

There were so many great things to love about this resort, including:

  • Brand new three-storey clubhouse
  • New adult pool and over-sized hot tub
  • Large heated family pool with hot tub
  • Spa-like bathrooms with heated tile floors
  • 5 outdoor community fireplaces
  • Two big screen TV areas
  • Library with fireplace
  • Games room – darts, pool, ping pong, foosball
  • Stone and cedar social pavilion for BBQ’s and dances
  • Laundry Room
  • Large treed playground
  • 1930’s Antique Carousel
  • Walking trails & dog walk
  • Free Wi-Fi & Shaw Hotspots

But what I loved most of all was the sense of community that I felt while living amongst the people who call this unique and special place their Summer home. People waved as we passed them by, and there were many family-friendly events and activities designed to unite the people of Springs RV Resort, including outdoor movies, community BBQs, and kids’ crafts.

Interested in checking it out for yourself?

The Springs RV Resort offers overnight rental, seasonal leases and sites for purchase, making the resort dream within reach. Ownership provides a home base in a resort community of friends and family. Yet, an RV’er is still free to go travel and explore where their time and interests carry them. 

Come by anytime for a tour and see why the Springs RV Resort was rated one of the top RV Resorts in North America. Phase two is now completed and there are 62 new RV lots available with 50 amp service. 

Learn More

We are so thankful to the owners for allowing us to enjoy this unique experience, and hope to return for another visit again soon.

{FAMILY} Creativ Music Centre: Piano Lessons For Kids

I have always had a love for music. Growing up, musical lessons were always a part of my life – from violin lessons, to singing lessons, to piano lessons – which I stuck with for almost a decade. Listening to music was an inherent part of my everyday life – I awoke each morning to a music-blasting alarm clock, I listened to music in my headphones as I walked to school, and as soon as I arrived home, my music was playing as I did my homework and played with my toys. At night, I couldn’t fall asleep without some quiet background music to lull me to dreamland.

Now that I’m a parent myself, I not only share my love for music with my children, but I see great value in having them engaged in some sort of musical lessons. I believe that learning how to play a musical instrument teaches children patience, discipline, and coordination, while enhancing their motor skills and boosting their self esteem.

I had been wanting to sign my daughter up for piano lessons for quite some time, but was unsure as to where to send her that would be fun, engaging, and effective. I wanted to find a music school that offered an array of musical options, but that was close to home and affordable. When Creativ Music Centre reached out to me to see if I would be interested in having my daughter try out their lessons, I couldn’t wait for her to get started!

2015-02-24 18.15.17

I had heard about Creativ Music Centre from fellow parents, but didn’t realize how expansive their musical offerings would be. Housed in a state-of-the-art facility in North Vancouver, Creativ offers a variety of music-related services including: pop star parties, music lessons (drum, guitar, piano, vocal), and music clubs (acapella, jam sessions, ultimate glee camp). Creativ’s motto is to create Music With Imagination, striving to provide opportunities for people of all ages to experience music – through learning music, recording music, performing music, or just having fun!

After reviewing the options together, my daughter decided that she wanted to try piano lessons, and we signed her up for the Jump Start Package, which includes:

  • 6 weeks of lessons (30 minutes per lesson)
  • 6 weeks of instrument rentals 
  • choice between piano, guitar, vocals, or drum lessons
  • Cost: $149

As we arrived for her first lesson, the first thing that caught our eye was a sign that read “Please Touch The Instruments”. When I read this, I knew that we had come to the right place.

Creative Music

Creativ Music

2015-02-24 18.19.38

Immediately my daughter weaved through the instrument displays, tapping on drums, fingering piano keys, and strumming guitar strings – all while wearing a huge grin on her face.

Creativ Music

When her piano instructor called her name, she hopped into his classroom, eager to get started.

When we returned home from her first lesson, we immediately set up her rental piano so she could show us what she had learned. After only one class, she was already playing a recognizable tune – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and oozing with excitement and self confidence, she practiced and practiced.

Creativ Music

Her enthusiasm was contagious, and she soon had my husband sitting by her side on the piano bench, eager to mimic the same tune. With her guidance, he mastered the song as well, and they both couldn’t wait to learn more.

After her second lesson, she was learning a second tune, and starting to learn how to play a song using both hands.  I was surprised at how quickly she was progressing, and she was loving the variety of the music that she was learning.

By the end of week 4, she was reading music – able to identify the notes on paper and on the keyboard.

2015-02-24 18.30.22

We’ve just finished our sixth week and my daughter is now familiar with the basics of music. She can read the notes, and can play 4 songs (some with both hands). I asked her what she thought of her piano lessons and here’s what she had to say in her own words:

The place where they teach me piano is really cool. I like that I can touch all of the instruments, and my teacher is really fun and nice. Next time, I hope I can also try singing lessons! – Emma, 7 years old

If you’re looking for a fantastic place for your children to participate in an all-inclusive, interactive and engaging musical experience, Creativ Music Centre has it all. We are so thankful to have had the chance to experience their lessons, and look forward to continuing on in the Spring.

***

Disclosure: I was provided with lessons in exchange for providing my honest review of our experience. The words and opinions are completely my own.

Big Topics, Little Kids: 4 Books That Got My Kids Through Hard Times

Children are often faced with larger-than-life experiences that can be difficult for parents to explain to them in a comprehensible way. Through the art of storytelling, parents can explain big topics to their children using words and events that they can relate to. When my children are faced with new challenges, I look for books that cover the topics in a relatable way, and read to them regularly so that they can feel comfortable with the big topics that they are faced with. Here are 4 books from our collection that have helped us to explain big topics to our little kids:

Boy Soup (Canadian)

by Loris Lesynski

illustrated by Michael MartchenkoTD Reads

Boy Soup is a book about a Giant who has fallen ill, who discovers in his “Home Medical Guide” that the only way to cure his sickness is to eat “boy soup”. Eager to regain his health, the Giant seeks out a group of boys (and happens to capture a girl as well), and plans to use them as the main ingredients in his soup. Through clever plans and imaginative adventures, Kate and the boys convince the Giant that the soup is actually to be made by boys, not with boys in it. The group of kids work together, and in the end, become friends with the Giant.

We received this book last year as part of the TD Grade One Book Giveaway, and the detailed, colourful graphics and comical, yet meaningful moral of the story were a great way to engage my children in a book about the benefits of working together as a team. While most of the time they are the best of friends, my two eldest children often butt heads, fighting over who is in charge, what games to play, and how things should be done. This book encourages children to use their imaginations, and to work together to resolve problems.


Luna Chip & Inkie in Which Way Back? (Canadian)

by Michael Mayes

illustrated by Rory O’SullivanTD Reads

Another book that has been great for encouraging the message of teamwork and the benefits of working together is Which Way Back? – a Luna,Chip & Inkie Adventure. The three critters get lost in the forest and fear they will never find their way out. Through working together and contributing each of their unique talents, they manage to find their way home. Created by BC’s Knowledge Network, this action-packed and colourful story encourages children to hone in on their own unique talents while recognizing the talents of their friends, and how to  find a solution to a problem while working as a team. A great lessons for duelling siblings.


Welcome to Kindergarten

by Anne RockwellTD Reads

Transitioning to full-day Kindergarten can be an intimidating experience for young children. Welcome to Kindergartenis a great story about a boy who spends a day walking through what is soon to be his new Kindergarten class on student orientation day. As he strolls through the school, his mom explains to him everything that he can expect – from the large clock on the wall, to the reading centre, to the other children and how they will be experiencing the same things as he will.

The story provides a comforting, yet detailed explanation on the importance of school and all of the fun things that children can look forward to experiencing while they’re there – in simple words that kids can understand. Reading this book helped to smooth the transition to school for my eldest, and I plan on reading it to my second child as he approaches his first day of Kindergarten soon too.


Baby on the Way

by William Sears, Martha Sears and Christie Watts Kelly

illustrated by Renee AndrianiTD Reads

Welcoming a new baby into the family can be one of the most overwhelming, confusing, and intimidating experiences a young child can face.Equipped with fears of the unknown, children can fear the arrival of their new little sibling instead of anticipating the fun that comes with welcoming a new little baby into their lives.

Baby on the Way is a great story about two children – a brother and sister – who are expecting a new little sibling to join their family. The book not only explains the exciting adventures to expect when welcoming a new baby into the family, but it covers all of the things to expect while living with a pregnant mommy as well. Filled with clever similes (“mommy’s feet will hurt, just like your feet feel when you try to squeeze them into last year’s shoes”), and detailed “Answers for the very curious” and “What you can do” calls to action, this book covers it all, and reassures your children that this new change to the family will be a fun and exciting one!


Reading with your children is a great way to bond, educate, and encourage them to explore and imagine new things. It’s a great way to open up conversations about life’s issues in a relatable way, and to foster a love of reading – an important life skill that they can carry through a lifetime.

What are some of your favourite books to read with your children?

Summer Bucket List: 20 Things To Do With Kids

This Summer I will be home alone with all three of my kids. No Summer camps, no work, just Mama Bee plus three little honeys. And while I feel fortunate to have the Summer months off with my little ones this year, I’ve been dreading the daunting task of filling the approximately 40 weekdays with activities for the kids and I to enjoy. Activities that are affordable, engaging, and fun for all ages. With this task in mind, I’ve created a bucket list of 20 things for us to do.

Bucket List

1) Discover New Hobbies. My daughter has recently expressed an interest in skateboarding, and my son has just finished a Turf & Tots intro to soccer program. I’m hoping that with a little practice over the Summer, these new interests will evolve into lifelong hobbies.

2) Try Geocaching. I’ve been hearing about geocaching for a few years now but have yet to try it out. Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt involving a GPS-based App and hidden treasures which can be found in various locations all over the world. It sounds like a great way to engage the whole family in a fun outdoor adventure!

3) Test The Taste Buds. I’d like to try to cook one new recipe per week over the Summer months. I have a slow cooker that has never been used, and a pile of delicious dessert recipes that have been waiting to challenge my beginner-level baking skills.

4) Go On A Day Trip. While a vacation may not be within our family budget this Summer, I’d love to take the kids on a day trip to a fun local destination such as Harrison Hot Springs, Whistler or Cultus Lake.

5) Enjoy Fish & Chips in Steveston. My best friend lives in the quaint fishing village so you’d think I frequent the area often, however due to the distance from our home, my kids and I rarely make the trek. This Summer it’s a must do on our list.

6) Explore The Newly-Expanded Vancouver Aquarium. The Aquarium has been a construction zone for ages and is finally ready to share their biggest expansion ever. I can’t wait to check out their big reveal and see all the new additions and changes they’ve made.

7) Complete the Summer Reading Program. Thanks to the efforts of the BC Library Association, a great Summer reading program is in place, focused on encouraging young readers to keep reading during the Summer months. My daughter loved completing the program last Summer and can’t wait to do it again.

8) Enjoy Movies For Mommies. When I had my first baby, I was introduced to Movies for Mommies, a family-friendly movie theatre viewing experience created for the comfort and enjoyment of parents with little ones in tow. It has been years since my last visit, and this would be a great rainy-day activity for us to enjoy.

9) Visit The Lions, Tigers and Bears. It has been over 3 years since our last visit to the Greater Vancouver Zoo so I think we’re due to make the trek out there.

10) Master Swimming. Swimming has been a bit of a challenge in our family. My oldest has taken lessons since her baby years, but doesn’t seem to enjoy the life skill, and therefore has yet to make it past the Tiny Tots swimming levels. I’m hoping a few visits to Vancouver’s array of outdoor pools and nearby lakes will spark her interest.

11) Enjoy A Picnic Dinner In Deep Cove. This is definitely something we’d like to do more often this year. Only 5 minutes from our home, Deep Cove is the perfect setting for an early evening family picnic by the ocean.

12) Stroll Through Stanley Park. Recently ranked as the #1 park in the world, Stanley Park offers the perfect picturesque setting for a day of family fun outdoors.

13) Splash Around At The Granville Island Waterpark. A day in Granville Island, my favourite Vancouver destination, is a must-do on my annual Summer bucket list. Not only does Granville Island offer delicious food, beautiful scenery and fun shopping, but their waterpark is a fantastic way for the kids to cool off on a warm Summer’s day.

 14) Tour Vancouver By Boat. One of our family’s favourite things to do in the Summer is to ride around the shores of our beautiful city on our little boat. A full day of picnicking, dipping in the ocean, and zooming around on the water is the perfect way to enjoy a Summer day outdoors.

15) Go Fly A Kite. On a windy Summer’s day, we love to take our little kite to one of our local beaches for a little kite-flying fun. Our favourite spots on the North Shore to fly a kite are on the West Vancouver beaches of Ambleside and Dundarave.

16) Take A Hike. I plan on taking the kids for lots of little hiking jaunts around our neck of the woods – the stroller-friendly walking trails of the North Shore.

17) Visit With Family. With a new baby in our family, I’m hoping to visit our family in Gibsons, Victoria and Prince George this Summer.

18) Take In A Parade. We will definitely attend the annual Canada Day parade in our neighbourhood, and hope to make it out to the Sea Cavalcade for more parade fun in Gibsons this Summer as well!

19) Go Tubing. With the river steps from our front door, tubing is a Summer must!

20) Visit An Ecology Centre. Our local Ecology Centre is a great place to spend a few hours indoors with the kids on a rainy day. Offering educational, interactive displays, and an array of toys for hands-on fun, the Ecology Centre is a great place to learn and play!

Do you have any fun activities for kids to add to my Summer bucket list?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Taste of the Country at Taves Family Farms

Born and raised in the heart of the city, my childhood was spent surrounded by tall buildings, traffic, and man-made parks. The country life was something that I had read about in childhood stories – a life that I thought was only lived far far away from my home. Places like Green Gables and Avonlea. I had never grown and harvested my own food, or even picked my own apples, and I certainly hadn’t walked amongst llamas, sheep, goats and pigs. But today, my family experienced a true taste of the country, and only an hour away from our home.

When I was invited to spend a day of family fun on a farm, visions of trudging around in muddy boots on acres of land lined with pumpkins crossed my mind, and I was convinced that it was going to be a short day full of whining (from both my kids and myself). But when we pulled up to Taves Family Farms, located in Abbotsford BC, my eyes widened. Before we even entered the parking lot, we were greeted by a smiling face, ushering us into a nearby parking spot. Everything was so clean, organized, professional.

The Taves Applebarn was so much more than your average pumpkin patch and apple orchard. The Disneyland of family farms – this family-run destination had a list of activities long enough to entertain our young family for over four hours. Below, I’ve listed our 6 favourite things to do at Taves Family Farms:

1) Activities for Kids

Taves Farm - Kid Activities

Our kids loved the two huge playgrounds, the real-life Mater, the jumping pillow (basically a bouncy castle on steroids), and the indoor zip-line. These activities alone were enough to leave them beaming, grinning from ear-to-ear.

2) The Petting Barn

Taves Farm - Animals

Not your average petting zoo – the farm was surrounded by various ramps and pulleys, enabling kids to lift feed to the goats on their various overhead platforms. The animals weren’t restricted to one group pen, but were instead allowed to graze at their own leisure (see the llamas in the photo above). Each area was well-supervised by friendly staff, who ensured that the children were being gentle, taking extra care to ensure the comfort of their beloved farm animals.

3) Pony Rides

Taves Farm - Pony Rides

Something we definitely don’t get to do often in the city – ride horses. My kids loved the pony rides, and I could tell that the horses were well cared-for. Instead of rushing the kids around a small circle in a parking lot (like I had seen at carnivals and events when I was growing up), these pony rides took the kids along the apple tree-lined farmland for a scenic ride.

4) The Apple Barn Country Store

Taves Farm - Store

This was my favourite destination on the farm. Filled with freshly picked fruits and vegetables, pies, honey, and homemade apple cider, the country store was the perfect destination for a foodie like me. We stopped here for lunch, and filled our bellies with freshly picked and roasted corn, hot dogs and apple cider slushies. The store also housed a live bee hive viewing window, and apple cider production demonstrations.

5) Apple Picking

Taves Farm - Apple Picking

I’m embarrassed to admit that in my mid-thirties, this was my very first time ever walking through an apple orchard, not to mention picking the fresh fruit from the limbs of the trees. Rows upon rows of Fuji, Gala, and Jonagold apple trees made for the perfect playground for my kids – and they munched on apples like they were candy! We picked a bag full of apples, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to go back to the store-bought ones now that I’ve sunk my teeth into the best of the best.

6) Pumpkin Patch

Taves Farm - Pumpkin Patch

Last but not least – the pumpkin patch! While we have visited pumpkin patches every year since becoming parents, this one was unique – an even more exciting destination as it was nestled amongst the apple trees and other attractions that the farm had to offer. The kids each picked their pumpkins, and our day was complete.

We left the farm completely exhausted, our arms full of treats and treasures from our day full of family fun.

Taves Farm - Purchases

A bag full of fresh Fuji apples, pumpkins, pumpkin pie, caramel apples, and fresh fudge

If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family this Fall, the Taves Family Farms is a must-visit destination.

Have you been?