Holiday Traditions: The Nutcracker (Giveaway)

I remember going to my very first professional production of The Nutcracker when I was 6 years old. I had been dancing for 3 years by then, and dreamed of one day dancing the lead role of Clara in the beautiful holiday classic. I wore a poofy party dress over a crinoline, shiny black shoes, and a long petticoat, and my hair was curled in ringlets that twirled down my back. It had been a dream of my mother’s to take her little girl to The Nutcracker, and now, many years later, I will be living out the same dream with my own 6-year-old little girl.

Since my first time, I’ve been to The Nutcracker over 20 times – each performance equally as magical and memorable as the last. It has become a mother-daughter tradition, and a special holiday treat that I look forward to each year. For the last 3 years my daughter has performed in her dance school’s production of The Nutcracker, but this year, she will have the opportunity to experience the  famous Christmas ballet as a spectator, performed by professional ballerinas from the renowned Alberta Ballet.

Ballet BC - Alberta Ballet The Nutcracker

Photo by Darren Makoivichuk

With a million dollar selection of stunning set and costume designs by Emmy award winning designer Zack Brown, and choreography by Edmund Stripe, I know this year’s production will not disappoint. Not only will the performance be visually pleasing, but the dancers will be accompanied by musical scores performed live by the enchanting Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Ballet BC - Alberta Ballet The Nutcracker

Photo by Darren Makoivichuk

My daughter has always loved dance, but I know her eyes will widen in awe when she sees the talented professional dancers of Alberta Ballet as they pirouette and arabesque en pointe across the stage before her eyes. I am so excited for my mother-daughter night, and hope that this will be the start of our own holiday tradition that will carry on for years to come.

WIN TICKETS TO THE NUTCRACKER!

In true holiday spirit, I’m happy to announce that I will be giving away a pair of tickets to the magical production of The Nutcracker to one of my readers, valued at $200! Enter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ballet BC Presents Alberta Ballet’s The Nutcracker

QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE
Vancouver, BC

Performances:
December 28/29/30 • 7:30pm
December 29/31 • 2pm

Family packs and child prices available.

Buy Tickets

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? 

Top 5 Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails on the North Shore

I’m a big fan of Jessica from North Shore Mama – both as a fabulous person and an awesome fellow blogger, so I was thrilled when she asked me to write a guest post for her blog!

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After reading a recent article in the Vancouver Sun about a child plummeting down a mountainside on a hiking trip with his parents, many NorthShoreresidents may be second-guessing their desire to trek up the trails with their little ones.
I’ve always loved hiking – it’s the only physical activity that I can enjoy without it feeling like gruelling exercise – so I feel fortunate to live in North Vancouver where we’re blessed with so many great hiking destinations.

 

While some spots may be more geared towards the hard-core, avid hikers (Grouse Grinders, I envy your passion and determination), we are also graced with a plethora of trails that are scenic, family-friendly, and a great way to keep the kids (and parents) active in an outdoor setting. Here’s a list of my top 5 favourite (suitable for under 5’s) hiking spots on the NorthShore…

My Love Affair With Granville Island

I’m one of the fortunate few who was born and raised right in the centre of the most beautiful city in the world, Vancouver BC. Even more fortunate, I was able to spend the majority of my childhood living amongst the lovely scenery of Graville Island, a small community and main tourist attraction near the centre of the city.
Now that I’ve moved away, I try to visit Granville Island with my children as often as possible. There’s so much to do there, and in every direction you turn, you’re faced with breathtaking scenery.
I had the kids to myself today, and it was a rare occassion where we didn’t have any pre-scheduled plans. So off to my favourite place we went! We perused the toy shops and play centres within the Kids Market, a two-story  mini mall filled with rides, puppets, toys and activities. We popped in for some play, and made the last-minute decision to take Emma for her very first hair cut (at almost 5). Although she got to sit in a pink car and watch Dora, she was less than impressed.

Once finished, we headed back outside where there is a great wooden boat for kids to play on, right on the edge of a little duck pond.
We then headed over to the world-reknowned Granville Island Market. Packed with fresh flowers, rainbows of organic fruits and veggies, and fresh fish, meats and cheeses, the market is a one-stop shop for any cravings you may have. We picked up some lunch and headed out front where there are rows of benches facing the ocean. Live musicians set the mood, and swarms of pigeons and seagulls keep you company as you bask in the sun.
Once we finished our lunches, we headed down to the water and climbed onto a small Aquabus. A short boat ride across the ocean and back was a great little adventure for my little ones, who enjoy the ocean almost as much as their mama.
Then off we went to one of several playgrounds in the area. The kids played on the swings and teeter totters, and ran around on the bright green grass. With only an hour left (thanks to the tight parking restrictions), there was one more stop I wanted to make before we headed home.




We enjoyed a quick little snack on a big green hill beside the ocean. Sitting under a canopy of trees, we nibbled on some fruit and enjoyed the view. We took the long way back to the car and admired a small community of floating houses lining the shore. We fantasized about living in one of those floating houses, and talked about all the things we would do if we lived right on the ocean in the centre of Granville Island.

The kids fell asleep in minutes on the drive home, and I reminisced on the day’s events. A perfect day with my favourite little people, who could ask for anything more?