Polar Express: Matching PJs Edition

We rode the Polar Express run by the West Coast Railway for our third time. This was, by far, our most enjoyable year, though that had as much to do with planning as with the age of our children. This year, we rode the train at 2pm, which allowed us to fully enjoy the activities in the Roundhouse after the train ride, while still preserving the illusion of “arriving” at the North Pole. 

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Though Aiden is not as obsessed with The Polar Express as he was in the two previous years, he did still enjoy the entire trip. His face lit up when the conductor came by and when the child actors came in pretending to be the children from the movie. Very nice addition to the experience and one we did not expect at all. Aiden literally glowed! He was also beside himself with excitement to tour the interior of the engine that mimics the real Polar Express:

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The next bonus was the child-led controls in the mini train area, which was a highlight for Aiden. He was mad we had to move on when Damien lost interest, but that was our only low point in the night. 

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Each year the experience gets better and I am so happy it’s a part of our holiday traditions! Damien also loved riding a moving train, even though he’s not as immersed in the Polar Express culture.

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This year, I managed to get both kids into their PJs (I wavered and gave them their Christmas Eve PJs early, since SO CUTE!) and planned it all better, to have two layers of PJs to avoid the cold. This year Aiden was interested in wearing his PJs, so that was a bonus. He didn’t want them last year and the previous year he only consented to wear the top. Finally, after years of struggling to find them matching PJs (who knew it was so hard), I purchased a matching set (2 months in advance, let me tell you). Huzzah!

Canyon Lights Welcomes Winter Pavilion

One of my favourite winter activities is to visit Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It’s become a yearly tradition for us to take photos in their sleigh and make some delicious gingerbread cookies. 

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Last Sunday was a beautiful (if cold) day, clear and crisp, so we layered up and went for a visit. Damien started to feel poorly again, so it wasn’t an “easy” visit, but it was beautiful! The lights are outstanding and the new Winter Pavilion is a great addition – a nice warm place to decorate gingerbread cookies, take photos, have a hot chocolate or make a holiday card!

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I also found a new hat and I love it! Ok, I will admit I purchased my jacket there too on my last visit. They have a surprisingly amazing gift shop, really you should check it out!!

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Top photo courtesy of Capilano Suspension Bridge

Celebrating BC Playthings with Charlotte Diamond

BC Playthings has been an anchor in North Vancouver’s Edgemont Village for the past 38 years. BC Playthings has always had a focus on quality toys for kids, not gimmicks or poor quality toys. The toys have always been the anchor toys that allow for open-ended play with kids. Though the physical store is small, you are always sure to find a gem in store or online. The store recently welcomed new ownership, after flying under the flag of Pat Gallaher for all of these past years.

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Today they celebrated their 38 years with a huge celebration in Edgemont featuring Charlotte Diamond, a children’s performer that I recall with fondness from my own childhood. I’ll need to revisit some of her songs with my own children! We had a great time at the concert and picked up some amazing toys for the kids for Christmas. 

I have been jotting down my wish list of toys and games for the kids all year (I use an app on my phone to jot down gift ideas for all of us – myself included – to simplify shopping for birthdays and holidays) and it was nice to mark others as ‘purchased’! I am so happy to see my list of items purchased growing, even before we hit December. I’m one of those ‘early’ shoppers, but it takes all the stress out of the holidays and lets me just enjoy the time we spend with family. 

Today you can get 10% off your purchases at BC Playthings. If you have items on your list, or are looking for inspiration, you have a couple hours to go shopping today!

If you are looking for gift inspiration, stay tuned for my series of Gift Guides for kids and adults alike!

Shipyards Christmas Market

As huge fans of the North Shore Green Market Night Market, we were very excited to check out the new Shipyards Christmas Market, held in the building directly North of the Shipyards stage / square. The market launched on Friday and is set to “ramp up” during the upcoming weekends (it runs Friday – Sunday) and includes local artisans and live music. 

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The original plan for the market was to include an outdoor ice skating rink, but the latest flyer doesn’t include these details, so I am guessing something put a stop to that. 

Our initial impression of the market was that it was a wonderful assortment of vendors, some with great gift options, but that it wasn’t in any way Christmas-related. There was a wreath up? None of the vendors had Christmas-related items, but definitely as a source for gifts, that would work.

For us, we went for the music. Exposing our kids, particularly Damien, to live music is a high priority for us. Hearing that the Adam Woodall was playing decided it for us, since the boys both enjoyed their performance so much during the summer. Indeed, they had so much fun again this past Friday. 

The venue is not large, and isn’t warm, but it has potential. Don’t expect it to be fancy. Don’t expect more than 1-2 food trucks at a time. And don’t expect indoor washrooms (you need to go outside to the washroom portable). But still, a great addition to North Vancouver and I look forward to returning. Especially for the Pocket Pies. 

The Wiggles in Concert

This past weekend, we took the kids to see The Wiggles live in concert. We have been fans of The Wiggles for some years now; their upbeat, original, catchy songs are great whether you listen to them or watch their videos. Aiden was never a fan of “kids music” as a young child, but for Damien, The Wiggles are his everything when it comes to video content. 

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We didn’t quite make it to age 2 before we started pulling out videos as a way to cope with the stupidly early mornings that toddlers of this age often go through. As with Aiden, we first cycled through short videos on YouTube, and music of course is a favourite. He went through some classic Elmo videos and a few others before getting hooked on The Wiggles. There’s been no turning back. It’s only recently, after 8-12 months now, that Damien has been ok sometimes watching something other than The Wiggles. 

Since Damien is obsessed with The Wiggles, Aiden has had a lot of exposure to them as well. Sometimes he hides his like of The Wiggles though, since I think he’s a little embarrassed of how much he likes them. When the kids pick songs to listen to, he’ll say something like “Damien, do you want to listen to Shimmie Shimmie?,” so that it’s not really him asking for it. 

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As with that, Aiden pretended that he wasn’t excited to go see The Wiggles, but he was. He passed up a birthday party offer to see them and all week he talked about it and how much “Damien” loves The Wiggles. At the concert, Aiden was beside himself excited and could even be seen doing some of the motions and songs. You know, as long as he thought we weren’t watching ;)

Damien was excited too. “We join’ a Wiggles!!” was heard all day. He napped for about 10 minutes on the way to The Wiggles concert in Surrey, and I was just about to transfer him to the Ergo when he woke up and yelled “We join’ a Wiggles now!!” the second his eyes were open. Quite hilarious. 

Damien was mesmerized for most of the show, completely zoned into their every move. He didn’t participate as much as I expected, but then again he was on my lap instead of on the floor with a guitar in his hand ;)

He clearly saw everything though, as he re-enacted their “Ralph Lauren” horse skit with his own giraffe and was singing some songs throughout the following days. 

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I was so incredibly happy to be able to provide this opportunity to my kids. How often do you get to see your idols in person? It completely melted me to be able to do that. After passing on Raffi tickets when Damien was in his Raffi-obsessed stage (because they seemed so incredibly expensive), this was an extra special experience to be a part of. 

As for the adults? Well, I have to say the current members of The Wiggles are incredibly talented. The show was done live with a lot of improv and there was enough comedy in the show, enough personality, to make the show that much more special. A very talented group of performers.