{FAMILY} Monster Trucks Aren’t Just For Boys

Monster Jam

I’ll confess, each year when I see that the Monster Jam® event is coming to town, I suggest that my husband take my son for a boys night out. Foolishly, the thought of taking the girls hadn’t ever crossed my mind.

Not only does Monster Jam® offer fun for the whole family, but it features highly-skilled athletes – some of which happen to be talented women, going head-to-head in adrenaline-pumping, engine-revving races.

This year, Canadian contender Cynthia Gauthier will be behind the wheel of the Mutt Dalmatian monster truck. Raised by a mechanic father, Gauthier grew up with a passion for anything with an engine, competing in dirt bike races, and eventually joining the Bad Habit team that went on to the Monster Jam World Finals in 2015. With a female Canadian contender in the race this year, now’s a better time than ever to show your girls that extreme sports aren’t just for boys!

Monster Jam

Cynthia Gauthier | Mutt Dalmatian Monster Truck Driver

Enter below for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the opening night of the Monster Jam® Triple Threat Series, coming to the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver on April 7th at 7pm ($100 value):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest runs from Monday, March 20th to Sunday, March 26th. Entrants must be able to attend the April 7th event at 7pm in Vancouver, BC. Winners will be contacted by email once the contest closes. 

Click on the image below to learn more about what you can expect from this rip-roaring event! Monster Jam

{FAMILY} When It Comes To Active Play, Technology Isn’t The Bad Guy

When I first heard about the launch of Tgoma – an integrated, interactive, digital gaming system for trampolines, I confess, I was skeptical. I thought: Why would I want to add technology to an outdoor activity that my kids already enjoy?

My kids and I were invited to try out the new Tgoma for Springfree gaming system in person, and after trying it out and talking to the Springfree team about their new partnership with Tgoma, my skepticism was replaced by support.

I quickly realized the motive behind the development of Tgoma – that it wasn’t designed to replace active play time with screen time. Instead of fighting technology, Tgoma was about leveraging technology to transform “screen time” from an isolating, sedentary activity, to a healthy, engaging experience.

Essentially, they were adding the trampoline to the technology, not the other way around. 

 

Tgoma 2

My family is generally an active family. We enjoy spending time outside, and are fortunate to have nature’s playground steps from our door. We can play by the river, hike beautiful trails, and visit local parks and beaches – all only minutes from our house.

But according to the ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Youth and Children, while children aged 5-17 should be engaging in at least 60 minutes a day of outdoor active play, only 9% of the children in Canada within this age range are meeting this target.

This was a shocking discovery for me as a born-and-raised Canadian.

The truth is, screen time has become an ongoing battle for most parents. Many struggle on a daily basis with monitoring screen time, and encouraging outdoor play in the face of tech-addicted children and teens. Instead of turning that love for technology in a negative experience, why not redirect that screen time to an engaging, interactive outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family?

I don’t see anything wrong with spending the designated allowance of screen time jumping on a trampoline outside instead of slumped solo on the sofa.

Some parents think tech-integrated trampolines are a bad idea. Here are 5 reasons why I beg to differ:

1) It’s optional.

Parents don’t have to purchase the system, and those who do can easily monitor its use.

2) It’s interactive.

The Tgoma system comes with 7 games (including some educational games and games geared towards getting adults active through fitness games – which I love).

3) It provides a new way to play.

How many families do you know who have an unused trampoline in their backyard. The novelty of bouncing can wear off over time, with kids redirecting their time to indoor play. This new system provides something new to get them excited about their trampolines again.

4) It encourages healthy competition.

I’ve recently started wearing a Fitbit, and what drives me to move more is the “challenge” function. Seeing that my friends are clocking more steps than I am fuels my competitive side and encourages me to move more often. Playing an interactive game on the trampoline can provide that same motivation for kids who like to compete. And there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition.

5) It gets kids moving – outside.

Kids love trying to stomp out mutant melons, use their imaginations, and even enjoy educational games while bouncing.

Tgoma stands for “Take Gaming Outside And Make it Active.” For many parents, it’s an innovative solution to an unavoidable problem.

I’ll be sharing more thoughts on how to balance play and technology with an expert on educational gaming for kids on Roundhouse Radio tomorrow morning at 10am (PST). Turn your dial to 98.3 FM and follow the conversation.

Related Posts:

Why It Took Me So Long To Get A Trampoline

This Is How We Do Spring In Vancouver

Spring Came Early Thanks To Peekaboo Beans

Tgoma

To learn more about Tgoma, watch this short video:

Disclosure: I was not paid to promote Tgoma, nor do I own the gaming system. I am however an ambassador for Springfree Trampoline and a big supporter of play. The thoughts and ideas in this post are my own.

{TRAVEL} Dashing Off To Disneyland

Our family has just returned from a whirlwind adventure to the world’s most magical destination, and I’m still buzzing with excitement about all that we were able to see and do over the 4 days that we were there.

Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier | California Adventure Park

I’m not going to lie, my expectations were moderately mediocre. It had been 30 years since my last visit to Disneyland, so I only had my faint childhood memories to help gage my level of excitement. I had loved every moment spent in Disneyland during my last visit, but I was only 7 years old at the time, and I knew that the experience would be much different as an adult – and especially as a parent.

The topic of travelling to Disneyland had come up off and on between my husband and I over the years, but we had always settled for “later”, justifying the postponement with the costs, timing, and inconvenience of everyday demands associated with taking time off for a family trip abroad.

This year Disneyland is celebrating its 60th Diamond Anniversary – honouring the year that Walt Disney himself opened the doors to his dreamland in July of 1955. To commemorate this momentous occasion, I was included in a group of media guests invited to experience the celebratory offerings of Disneyland Resort and write about my experiences.

This was the push I had needed to turn my “later” into a “right now”, and our trip was booked.

I wanted to wait until the last minute to tell the kids about our exciting excursion, and the anticipation almost killed me. When departure day finally arrived, we had our kids pack up their backpacks, convinced that we were headed for school as usual. Here’s how they reacted when we revealed our real destination…

(click on the image for the video)

The Reveal

It felt so good to let the secret out, and we couldn’t wait to see what Disneyland had in store for our family. Here’s a little snippet of our travels once the kids knew where we were headed…

(click on the image for the video)

The Journey

When we arrived at Disneyland Hotel, we had the kids wait in the hallway while we dimmed the lights, turned on the headboards (adorned with fireworks), and switched on the music which played “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” – a tip I had been given by our gracious host. It was the perfect way to kick off our magical weekend.

After a quick costume change, we hit the parks! The next four days were jam-packed with awe-inspiring shows, riveting rides, fanciful foods and of course, one very magical mouse. Here’s a snippet of all the fun that was had:

(click on the image for the video)

The Rides

While I had left for our trip thinking that Disneyland would be all about the kids, the experience was just as magical (if not more) for us adults. Yes, the experience was very different from my last visit, but it was perhaps filled with more excitement, emotion, and enchantment than during my childhood days, because as a parent, I was able to appreciate all the details and history behind every ride, show, and character that crossed our path.

I’ll be sharing more details about all there is to see and do in Disneyland surrounding the 60th Diamond Anniversary Celebration on BC Living very soon, but here are some highlights to pique your interest until then…

live-at-the-hyperion-00

Frozen – Live At The Hyperion Theater 

I’ve been to my share of Broadway shows, but this one was on a whole new level. The costumes, set design, talented actors and high-tech tidbits had the crowd laughing, crying, and cheering for more – and I’m not just talking about the kids. This epic production is well worth the wait.

 

world-of-color-diamond

World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney

I had expected a fabulous fountain show similar to the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but this nighttime spectacular was so much more! Featuring soaring fountains, fire and laser effects, and towering screens  that came to life with Disney imagery and musical performances by the virtual host – Neil Patrick Harris, this amazing experience was a show stopper.

We’ve only been home for 2 days and we’re already dreaming up our next Disney vacation – next time with our youngest who didn’t get to join us this time around. Memories were made as we bonded as a family in the most magical place on Earth, and I can’t wait to go back.

13315257_10154118390666955_912273909408727261_n

Have you been to Disneyland yet this year? If so I’d love to hear what you loved most about your visit! Please share your comments below.

 

{FAMILY} Why It Took Me So Long To Get A Trampoline

I grew up in a small apartment in Granville Island. No backyard, and definitely no trampoline to call my own.

I had friends who had trampolines in their backyards, and I did everything I could do to have playdates with those friends, just so I could feel the rush of bouncing high into the air – doing bum drops and summersaults as I reached for the sky on each ascent towards the clouds.

When I became a parent, fear and hesitation replaced my enthusiasm for trampolines. Having young children made me privy to the downfalls of trampoline play. Everyone seemed to have a story about a broken leg, an injured knee, a head injury or a chipped tooth that resulted from trampoline falls. I swore I would never get one, no matter how much my children begged and pleaded.

Now that my oldest children are in school, my resistance has started to subside, replaced with curiosity and a whole lot of research.

One night my husband and I were discussing the options, and came across the Springfree Trampoline. We watched their safety video, and this unique story about how a Springfree trampoline saved a family’s house, and thought it sounded like a safe and feasible option for consideration – so we bookmarked their website for future reference.

The next day (no lie), I received an email from my friends at Vancouver Mom. They had partnered with Springfree and were looking for some blog ambassadors to try out the trampolines and share their experiences. I applied and was selected as the North Vancouver ambassador (squee!), and my large oval trampoline was delivered and set up shortly afterwards.

Why did it take me so long to get a trampoline?

After hearing a slew of trampoline horror stories, I was afraid of the possible accidents that could occur. I didn’t want to put my children in harm’s way, and didn’t want to be held liable if their friends were to get hurt on my watch.

I’m still a little nervous about adding a trampoline to my family, but I feel safe knowing that the construction of the Springfree trampoline is far more advanced and safety-tested than the net-free, broken spring bouncers I used to play on when I was a kid.

Are they as safe as they say?

I guess I won’t know until I try it, and today, we tested it out for our very first time.

This afternoon two Springfree employees came to my home, and manually set up our brand new tramp. After each adult bounce-checked and gave it their thumbs-up of approval, I zoomed off to school to pick up my kids – I couldn’t wait to reveal the surprise that waiting for them at home! Here’s how it went:

They jumped on that trampoline until the sun set. Happy kids = happy mom.

Springfree trampoline

Springfree trampoline

Springfree trampoline

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes and will share my honest feedback on our Springfree trampoline along the way. I welcome any questions you may have as we embark on this jumping journey, and look forward to a whole lot of outdoor fun on our new toy this Summer!

{FAMILY} Spring Came Early Thanks To Peekaboo Beans

My family and I recently enjoyed a last-minute getaway to our favourite local destination – Harrison Hot Springs, and on the day before our departure, a colourful little package arrived from our favourite children’s fashion line – Peekaboo Beans.

While we were away, I thought I would snap some photos of my little beans enjoying their stylish new outfits while doing what they love most, exploring the outdoors. And just our luck, amidst a week’s worth of rainy days, the sun came out just for us. Here are some of my top snaps from our little midweek jaunt.

Harrison Hot SpringsHarrison Hot SpringsHarrison Hot SpringsHarrison Hot SpringsPeekaboo BeansHarrison Hot SpringsHarrison Hot Springs

We love it here so much, we’ll be back again during Spring Break! And I’m sure my kids will still be rocking their bright, funky Peekaboo Beans outfits then too.

A Week By The Lake – Unplugged

For the last week, I was (almost) completely disconnected from the digital world, and it was exactly what I needed.

Lake

Ruby Lake, BC

Our family rented a house on the beautiful, serene, hidden treasure that is Ruby Lake, located in the heart of BC’s Sunshine Coast. Joined by another family, we settled into our lakeside retreat and enjoyed 7 days of outdoor adventure – completely unplugged from technology.

Our days were filled with family fun on the water – boating, paddle boarding, swimming, and tubing, and our nights were spent eating on the sun-drenched deck, and stargazing under the moonlit skies.

At first I was nervous about the idea of a full week without Wifi. Due to the nature of my work, I am constantly plugged in – writing, checking in on social media, and responding to client emails. The thought of being completely disconnected from the digital world was daunting, and I was embarrassed by my distress.

But a week spent gazing at the breathtaking views of the lake, enjoying moments with family and friends and being physically active outdoors, left me feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready to return to reality.

I’m going to make more of an effort to unplug. While I love technology and the opportunities that have come to me through the online world, nothing compares to real-life, offline adventures.

Lake

Canuck Place Adventure Race {Giveaway}

The Canuck Place Adventure Race is a unique outdoor fundraising event that allows families of all ages to train and participate as a team. For many participants, this is a great way to fundraise for an important cause while honouring a loved one who has recently lost their life to a life-threatening and incurable illness.

Meet The Ross Family.

Last year, the Ross family raised over $3,000 through their participation in the race. Through competing as a family, the Ross’ were able to honour their late daughter, Gabrielle, who lost her life at the age of 3, to a terminal genetic disorder called I-Cell. Canuck Place offered care and support services for the family, and provided them with a comfortable space where they could enjoy their last days as a family with their beautiful daughter.

The Ross Family

Read more about The Ross Family and their experience at Canuck Place HERE.

Since 1995, Canuck Place has offered 24/7 world-class health services for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, in a home-like setting. Canuck Place has since become a global leader in pediatric palliative care, and has helped over 400 children and their families throughout BC.

How Can You Help?

On September 13, 2015, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice will be hosting their annual outdoor adventure race at Jericho Beach in Vancouver, BC. This fun, family-friendly day filled with outdoor adventure, will raise funds to provide children and their families with the respite care they need. Support Canuck Place by participating in the multi-sporting event which includes kayaking, mountain biking and trail running in a beautiful setting, and enjoy a community BBQ lunch. Unable to participate? Bring your family and friends and cheer on the race participants!

Canuck Place Adventure Race

WIN A Canuck Place Adventure Race Prize Package!

Enter for a chance to win a prize package which includes 1 entry in the Canuck Place Adventure Race, and an 8 X 10 autographed photo of Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks (total prize package valued at $125).

ENTER HERE:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Fundraising Note:

The Canuck Place Adventure Race is a fundraising event. Funds raised support Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in providing critical clinical care and programs for BC’s children with life-threatening illnesses and their families who love them. Therefore, Canuck Place asks all participants to do their best in reaching the fundraising goals, and Canuck Place supports all participants in doing so through tips and tricks, and helpful newsletters (examples here: http://bit.ly/1rL418L). However, if the goal is not met, no penalty applies.

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Break: Exploring Our Favourite BC Destinations

Our original plan was to spend our 2 week Spring Break vacation checking off items on our infinitely long to-do list. Fix this, clean that, buy this, build that. Sounds exciting, right? But when the first day of vacation arrived, we thought we’d throw that plan out the window and enjoy what might be our last time off as a family before the arrival of baby #3. A few phone calls later and we were off on an adventure around our beautiful province.

Our first stop was Gibsons, BC. Nestled along the shoreline of BC’s Sunshine Coast, Gibsons is a quaint and serene little town built around a picturesque harbour. Gibsons also happens to be the hometown of my husband, who was born and raised in the wharf-side community. A quick 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver, Gibsons is a family-favourite local getaway.

 Gibsons BC

Our second stop was Victoria, BC, the capital of our beautiful province. Rich in history and offering a plethora of natural settings, the Vancouver Island gem is a favourite for many BC residents. For us, it’s also a favourite destination because we can visit with family members who call Victoria home.

 Victoria BC

Our third and final stop was Harrison Hot Springs, BC. The lakeside village has been a family-favourite Summer destination for years, but this was our first time visiting the resort during the Spring months. Surrounded by mountains and a glacier-fed lake, and featuring five pools warmed by the bubbling natural hot springs, the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa is the perfect getaway for families.

Harrison Hot Springs BC

We love local travel, and we love quality time outdoors as a family. The three destinations we’ve visited over the last two weeks have provided the perfect backdrop for a memorable family vacation – enjoying the natural beauty of our surroundings, and time with the ones we love most. Next year, we hope to do it again, with our new addition to the family in tow.

Spring Break

CHSC Family Concert Featuring Jennifer Gasoi (Giveaway)

Imagine giving birth to your beautiful baby, and finding out after a series of routine screening tests that your baby has been diagnosed with severe hearing loss in both ears.

Imagine finding out when your child turns one, that all of the I love you‘s you’ve whispered into their little ears have gone unheard.

Imagine wondering if the only way you will be able to communicate with your sweet child will be through sign language. For these families, as well as many others in BC and across the globe, these stories, worries and concerns became a reality when they received hearing test results for their little ones:

Thankfully, in 1963, The Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC (CHSC) was born – the first and still the only certified, licenced, independent school in Western Canada focused on providing hearing and speech programs for children and families who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“Deaf and hard of hearing children are learning to listen and to speak…we optimize children’s opportunities. We give hope words.” – Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC

To support these important programs and services, the CHSC will be hosting their 3rd annual Family Concert on April 12, 2014.

Featuring the 2014 Grammy award winner for Best Children’s Album, Jennifer Gasoi, the annual event will raise funds and bring awareness to the non-profit organization that is known for teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing children to speak and hear.

Jennifer Gasoi

Grammy winner, Jennifer Gasoi

Known for such jazz-infused children’s hits as “Throw A Penny In The Wishing Well”, Jennifer Gasoi will have your family dancing on their toes and singing along, all in support of a great cause!

You may wonder – how can children who are deaf or hard of hearing enjoy music? At CHSC, children who are deaf and hard of hearing are learning to listen and to speak. And while sign language was once considered the most common and visible option for deaf and hard of hearing children, today a deaf child may begin to wear a hearing device when he or she is in infancy. The combination of technology and listening and spoken language education makes this dynamic – a deaf child listening and speaking – a reality. – Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC

Want to see Jennifer Gasoi perform live at an intimate venue here in Vancouver? Spread the word about this fantastic initiative, and you could win 4 tickets to the show!

Event Date: April 12th, 2014
Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre, Jewish Community Centre
950 W 41st Ave, Vancouver

Buy Tickets

Enter to win a family pack of 4 tickets here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway