The ActiveMama Summer Bucket List for 2015

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!

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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).
  4. 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
  5. 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 ;)
  6. 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.
  7. Revisit favourite splash parks, including those in North Vancouver, as well as favourites close by: John Lawson ParkRocky Point Park, and Confederation Park
  8. 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 NovaQueenston Park, Empire Fields, Queens Park
  9. Test out some bike parks, like the Inter-River Bike Park or even the Seymour Demonstration Forest trails
  10. 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!
  11. 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?
  12. Go to the bouncy castles in West Van, an item high on Aiden’s bucket list
  13. Set up a lemonade stand, which was a lot of fun last year
  14. Go camping as a family, a first for us and already booked!
  15. 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??

Splashing Outside the West Van Community Centre

Did you know that the fountains outside of the West Vancouver Community Centre are kid friendly?! Since as parents we often have to tell our kids “No” whenever we encounter fountains and water features, it is so nice to be able to say “Yes” sometimes! Whether you’re in the Rec Centre for another activity (swimming, skating, bouncy castles in the summer – our destination last year), or want to enjoy a coffee while your kids cool off, consider this as an option!

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You might say, why would I go here instead of a spray park or beach? Well, if your kids are like my kids, spray parks are too overwhelming. Water always gets in their faces and too many things move around unexpectedly. Wading pools, which we grew up with, do not exist in North or West Vancouver anymore. This is the closest you can get!!

Checking Off My Summer Bucket List

I’m kind of in denial that Summer is almost over. It’s been a beautiful summer, filled with an uncharacteristic number of hot and sunny days. Earlier this summer, I shared with you my Bucket List for a Very Active Summer… now that it’s coming to a close, I’m looking back and feeling pretty good about our summer.

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  1. Take another weekend family trip – done! We went to Springs RV Resort in Harrison Hot Springs. I had another weekend planned, but it will have to wait for next summer. Maybe I’ll throw together a girls night away or something instead!
  2. Spend a day on Bowen Island – not done :(
  3. Hike at least once per week, check! Sadly, Aiden’s getting kind of tired of it, but not Damien! I’ll need to branch out to new hiking areas to keep it fresh. Check out my list of the best hikes in North Vancouver with kids, followed up by Jen’s guest post on Intermediate Hikes for Kids
  4. Spend a day at the pool – done! We’ve been there 3 or 4 times already!
  5. Spend whole days at the beach – not done :(
  6. Visit Rocky Point Park – done! It was so much fun!
  7. Go to Playland / the PNE – hoping to go next week?
  8. Go berry picking! – not done. May end up apple picking instead?
  9. Get ice cream in the middle of the day, just because! Done!
  10. Set up a lemonade stand – not done, high on my priority list… just, so much to co-ordinate! ;)
  11. Hit up the bouncy castles in West Van on a rainy day – done, twice!
  12. Spend more lazy afternoons playing in the pool and sprinkler – many times done!
  13. Always have homemade popsicles ready – check! Our latest are watermelon with coconut water and maple syrup. Yum!!
  14. Plan an early Fall trip without the kids – high on my to-do list ;)
  15. Spend more time with family and friends – I feel like we’ve had some amazing adventures with our friends and I just put together a last-minute BBQ open house… because, why not?!
  16. Plan a family week-long vacation, not planned, but it WILL get done!
So, that’s 10 out of 16? Not bad!!

As for Aiden’s personal bucket list, we have had trips to all of the places he wanted to go! Fun 4 KidzBearfoot Playground and Science World!! I think he wishes we could go to the outdoor pool every day, and for sure going to Playland is high on his priorities, but I feel like he’s had a fantastic summer.

I still wish we had time for more weekend trips, but we’ll have to make those up with some fun trips in September perhaps. Plus, our trip will still happen, maybe in November? Maybe over the holidays? We’ll make it happen. I’m kind of glad we’ve been here while it’s been so beautiful – who knew Summer in Vancouver could be so amazing?!

Why I’m Withdrawing Aiden from Summer Camp

As soon as Summer registrations opened, I signed Aiden up for 3 summer camps. I spent hours researching what would be most fun for him and where it was located and how it would fit in with our schedule. I decided on one week of Pedalheads, one week at a sports class (focused on the ‘ball’ related sports) and one week of a preschool-ish class whose theme for the week was “science,” which seemed fun. 

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Aiden did one week of Pedalheads in Lynn Valley, from 9:30 to 12 and one week of sports in Deep Cove from 9:30 to 11:30. He loved both of these summer camps. His teachers would tell me things like how enthusiastic he was, what a leader he was, how great he was at supporting the younger kids, how much he loved trying new things. Generally, stuff that made me feel pretty awesome about my won. 

BUT… I hated the summer camps. After rushing to drop Aiden off, I would have to drag Damien away from there, and take him somewhere to play. I could come home, but in both instances that was kind of far away and I wanted to minimize driving far, since I had to return for pick up and long drives put Damien to sleep. So, that meant I packed snack and lunch for Damien for all of these days and had to occupy him longer at parks when he was tired and grumpy. Then I had to ensure he didn’t fall asleep before we picked up Aiden. It was exhausting and I hated having my activities dictated by location. 

With preschool, I never had to worry about drop off and pick up (my husband did pick-up), and I had an extra 30-60 minutes when I could work. For summer camps, I didn’t get any of those benefits and the whole thing was more work for me, which is exactly the opposite of what I need right now.

So, I’m pulling Aiden out of his third summer camp. It was the furthest away and honestly the most inconvenient time. The kids have more fun when they are together, and more fun equals an easier time for me.

Next year, Damien will be old enough for solo summer camps. And Aiden will be old enough for some cooler camps he was too young for this year. So, I’m not anti-summer camp. But I am against putting only one kid in summer camp for no obvious reason. ;)

Top 7 Ice Cream Stores in North Vancouver

This week I put out the word, “What’s the best place to go for ice cream in North Vancouver?” asking in specific for family-friendly locations. Well, North Vancouver moms came to the rescue, and I’m compiling here a list of the Top 7 Ice Cream Shops in North Vancouver. 

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  1. Brazza Gelato & Coffee is the top favourite by many families. With 3 locations in North Vancouver, two off Lonsdale and one close to Capilano Mall, Brazza’s gelato is made fresh daily using natural ingredients, with no extra air whipped in. This gelato is more dense and loved by many in North Van.
  2. Marble Slab Creamery on Esplanade offers the mixins you have come to expect from a frozen yogurt store, but mixed into ice cream instead. Or rather, folded. There are 50 flavours of ice cream and 20 mixins with some great combinations suggested to create a delicious treat. Not the cheapest ice cream, but delicious. I can also vouch for the deliciousness of their ice cream cakes. 
  3. COCOfroyo in Edgemont offers frozen yogurt and sorbets made with products as locally sourced as possible. Toppings available too!
  4. Sugar & Co. in Lynn Valley is an amazing candy store serving ice cream from Birchwood Dairy in Abbotsford and frozen yogurt from Mario’s Gelati in Vancouver. We’ve been here several times for ice cream and are pleased with the quality. It’s also a great chance for me to snag a bag of sour candies, which I’m a sucker for. (Side note: we shop here a lot at Christmas and they are very helpful with specialty candies for parties!)
  5. Frux Frozen Yogurt at Lonsdale Quay makes organic frozen yogurt and smoothies from scratch. I believe they took over the corner stall from a previous store that sold ice cream, so don’t be confused. Frux is new and quite delicious, our family gave it a thumbs up. 
  6. Gelato Express is a Deep Cove institution, known mostly by its train tracks that circle the ceiling. If you tell people it’s the “ice cream place next to Honey’s,” they’ll know where you mean. This is not to be confused with the Deep Cove Ice Cream Café on the other side of Honey’s. Neither place has a website, but you can’t miss the train! 
  7. Yeti Yogurt on Esplanade, fairly new to the area, had a number of good reviews by parents for the frozen yogurt and toppings, but one mom had a bad experience there with employees complaining about parents changing diapers in their washroom. 

Note that not a single person I polled suggested the chains such as Dairy Queen or Baskin Robbins! An honorable mention was made for Pinkberry, which is available a short hop over at Park Royal Village in West Vancouver. Pinkberry is a large brand that specializes in frozen yogurt with fun toppings, and they’ve got it down to a science. The place is fun and fast and tasty. A great treat after all that hard work shopping. 

Where’s the Menchie’s? Although many people will suggest Menchie’s as a great option for frozen yogurt and fun toppings, I have been several times and think that the “fun” stops when you actually eat the frozen yogurt. If you’re looking for good not fun, skip it. 

If you are looking to buy good ice cream to take home, I also highly suggest Earnest Ice Cream. Though amazing in-store in Vancouver, you can also buy it by the pint from Nourish Market in Lynn Valley. We have been known to do this a few times. ;)