Last year I created my first ever Bucket List for the Summer, focusing my attention on the things we as a family really wanted to do during the Summer. This way, whenever we had a free day, I could easily look at my list and say “Hey, let’s go do one of these activities!” – in the end, we checked off nearly all of the items on our list!! I feel like Summer is just going to fly by this year, and it hasn’t even started!
- Spend as many weekends as possible at our cottage on Keats Island, bringing friends when we can! We also plan to spend 2 full weeks there (one in July, one in August), if the weather is nice
- Catch our own food! The kids both want to learn how to fish, us adults want to learn how to set up crab traps and prawn traps
- Take more family bike trips, including around Stanley Park and a trip over to the Rocky Point Park area. I’d also like to do more biking locally, to get to parks with both kids on my own, and use my bike more to achieve my personal fitness goals (with or without the kids).
- Spend the day at Playland, which should be easy! The kids both love rides now, which is great. I am thinking this year we will go before the PNE, which limits the number of rides but does make it less insanely busy
- Spend more time at the pool, particularly New Brighton which is so close to us! Aiden is eager to continue practicing his new swimming skills. He may even convince me to get him a snorkel ;)
- Take more mid-week day trips, which I tend to shy away from, being so much work with 2 kids. My top new places to visit are Jericho Beach, Bunzten Lake, Belcarra, and Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby, but I also want to spend the day at Granville Island enjoying the water park and some good food. I doubt I’ll make it to them all, but those are my top choices.
- Revisit favourite splash parks, including those in North Vancouver, as well as favourites close by: John Lawson Park, Rocky Point Park, and Confederation Park
- Visit more new playgrounds, which is so much fun for the kids. My goal is to expand my North Vancouver Playground reviews by another 10 playgrounds, plus make day trips to others that are on my radar: Terra Nova, Queenston Park, Empire Fields, Queens Park
- Test out some bike parks, like the Inter-River Bike Park or even the Seymour Demonstration Forest trails
- Set up lots of playdates, which will be key to keeping Aiden sane this summer! He’s made so many good friends, I know he’ll miss them!
- Add more hikes into rotation, though we’ll still keep up with our Favourite Hikes in North Vancouver! Maybe we’ll try Quarry Rock or more in the Seymour Conservation Park?
- Go to the bouncy castles in West Van, an item high on Aiden’s bucket list
- Set up a lemonade stand, which was a lot of fun last year
- Go camping as a family, a first for us and already booked!
- Visit Splashdown park, thanks to a lovely coupon! I am super psyched for this. Aiden is great with waterslides now (a few months later for our Hawaii trip, oh well!), and is very excited for this! Splashdown Park this year, Cultus Lake perhaps next year? Unless I can somehow squeeze a weekend trip into our already insanely packed summer…. hmm…
What’s on YOUR bucket list for this summer??
After Aiden spent two nights away at his Babby’s house during Winter Break, we met mid-way at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver. I hadn’t been to the Conservatory since Ianiv and I were dating, so we’re talking more than 10 years ago. Though it isn’t the best time of year to explore the surrounding gardens of Queen Elizabeth Park, the Conservatory is open all year and was still decorated with lights and poinsettias of all varieties for Christmas.
Bloedel Conservatory has more than 200 free-flying birds and 500 plants in its domed building. The building isn’t huge, but we spent about an hour or so there with our boys. Damien was less interested in looking at the birds and more interested in running the path… 10 times. I don’t have kids that stop to observe things in new environments, they have too much energy for that!
Putting on my creative hat, we were able to slow the boys down for a little while by handing them our phones and encouraging them to take photos. Damien took many wonderful photos of his feet, and a few of flowers, while Aiden was able to take more time and care in his selections. Cameras (or phones) are a great option to get kids engaged when otherwise they would be distracted.
The best part of the visit? How happy my boys were to see each other after being apart for 2 days.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
I was very proud of my Christmas tree this year. I absolutely love Christmas. In years past, I have been known to handmade and mail out all our Christmas cards and to hand-stamp or decorate my own wrapping paper. Of course, with kids, that’s not my reality right now. Still, I have a great double-sided wrapping paper (Costco!) that I use to co-ordinate my wrapping and I take extra time to add bows and small ornaments as special decor on some gifts. I love laying out the presents and arranging the stockings.
I know I’m crazy, but it makes me happy.
Last year, we were very excited about Christmas morning. Aiden was getting the cliche most-awesome-Christmas-morning-present ever, a new bike. We found one in his absolute favourite colour (turquoise) and had it ready for Christmas morning. Everyone was very excited. We had co-ordinated with my mom (Oma) to come over as soon as the kids woke, so she could witness their Christmas morning excitement and Aiden’s reaction to the bike.
Cue Christmas morning and Aiden bounded out of bed and was ready to fly down the stairs when we said WAIT and asked him to wait until Oma came. He was restless and excited, but he waited. Then we had him wait until we got the cameras ready and tried to record his reaction to the bike. So of course this happened:
Aiden came down the stairs wary and nervous, shying away from the camera. He barely looked at the bike, barely registered a reaction.
We robbed him of his Christmas-morning joy. It’s a mistake I will never ever make again. This year, the cameras go away and instead we will have to remember these precious moments. We can record other parts of Christmas, but this moment? This excitement? It’s so fleeting and so precious.
So, here’s my advice to you – let your child have their moment of joy. Remember it. Photograph them when they are having fun, but never force them to check their emotions just so you can record it for posterity.
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.
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!
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!!
Top photo courtesy of Capilano Suspension Bridge