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Revisiting some old photos in my iPhone and thought I’d share this one taken on one of my many walks around Kitsilano where we lived in Vancouver. Miss Kits, it’s easily my favorite neighborhood ever; one I’d move to in a heartbeat. That, and Pasadena. 🙂

Thomas the librarian who does an amazing little babytime

Benji and I enjoying little babytime

Benji n Natalie

Three and a half more weeks left in Vancouver: we are so running out of time here just as the weather turned GORGEOUS! Though I’ve only been here a short time, Vancouver seems like a great place to raise kids. There are tons of activities for children from the time they are born; most shops and even public transportation (which is awesome, btw) are stroller and kid-friendly, making it really easy for moms and children to maneuver around town.

One of my favorite mom-baby activities is “Little Babytime” that most public libraries around the city host weekly. Little Babytime is a 30-minute storytime session for babies under 1 year old, and librarians who host this read baby books, and include lots of action songs and rhymes. We tried the storytime sessions at various libraries and the one that I enjoy most (and many other moms concur) is the one at the Firehall Branch on Granville and 10th street that runs Thursdays from 1115-1145am.

The librarian, Thomas, who runs these sessions at Firehall is animated, and his passion for doing these songs, rhymes, and stories to the babies shows in his delivery. He’s also a humorous n includes fun activities that give moms a workout at times!

Definitely gonna miss Thomas n Little Babytime when we leave!

Do you have a favorite parent-child activity? What does your city/community offer for parents and children? Is your city child friendly?

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We have, like many couples with newborns/kids, scheduled “date nights.” Keeping the marriage alive requires work and even more maintenance with new additions to the family.  After Benji was born, I did not want our relationship to take the back seat because it can happen all too easily once we get caught up with the hustle and bustle of looking after a newborn, and became really particular about having date nights. Truth is, too, our marriage suffered a huge setback about a year before we agreed to have a baby and since then, we have learned to never ever be cavalier about our relationship.

Since we don’t live close to our folks and don’t really have the confidence yet to leave Benji with a hired babysitter, our dates nights have been confined to the home. For the most part, it has worked out as we are mostly exhausted by the end of the day to even think about dressing up and going out somewhere. Most date nights consist of renting a movie or catching up on episodes of our favorite shoes. Sometimes, we just hang out on the couch and talk. The point is to simply spend time and reconnect with each other after Benji has slept, without the distractions of internet and the baby. 

So back to our date night: wow that my folks are in town visiting us, we made use of the opportunity to have our scheduled weekly date night outside the home, which was rather glorious. Okay, so it was a Tuesday night where the night scene around any town is pretty mellow, but when you are new parents, you welcome any time by yourselves. We hung out at George Ultralounge & Winebar in Yaletown, a bar with a quiet and relatively classy ambience. I got a virgin mojito (super fun and actually tastes like regular mojito!) and Bry got an old fashion (which he termed “the Don Draper drink.” You get the reference if you’re into Mad Men like we are).

Two short but super sweet hours went by in a hurry. I was surprisingly not that worried about Benji being a handful. And he was reportedly really well behaved the time we were gone (“slept like a baby!” said my folks). Thanks, mom, dad, and aunt, for keeping an eye on Benji and letting us enjoy a special date night.

Do you and your partner schedule date nights? What else do you do to keep the marriage alive? Do you find it even more necessary after having children?

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The Butchart Gardens is gorgeous. Having the sunny weather today created an even prettier atmosphere for this walk. I liked that the gardens had different styles of landscapes within and that they had their unique story. Take the sunken garden for example: it used to be a limestone quarry n Mrs Butchart decided to make a garden out of it. The result? A gorgeous layered garden with lovely aerial views of it.

Bry took Benji to hang out with his friend who lives on the island so it was just me, my dad, mom, and aunt at the gardens. Although the garden tour took just a couple hours, it was rather refreshing to spend time being the daughter/niece/baby with my folks. 🙂

That wrapped up our short but sweet trip to Victoria Island. On our way back to Vancouver!

Today, Benji and I participated in the Art Walks for Strollers activity organized by a community center in Vancouver. This was a guided tour around Yaletown, a hipster neighborhood rich in outdoor art near downtown Vancouver. The sunny weather today was an added bonus and certainly made all the art look even more attractive and inspiring. One of the things I love about guided art tours is the little information nuggets you get about the art pieces: the artists, contexts, and in the case of the outdoor art, also a bit about the neighborhood.

I learned today that the piece of land that is Yaletown was bought by property developer Li Ka Shing from Hong Kong, and that some percentage of their profits have to go into providing amenities for the public. Hence all the public features such as installation art, sculptures, beautifully landscaped gardens and parks.

The walk was thoroughly enjoyable. Got some good, intellectual stimulation that is refreshing, especially after all that baby talking almost the entire day with your infant. Since the walk was meant for parents with babies, it went at a slower pace and provided a good opportunity to meet other moms which is always fun.

The group of moms n strollers.

The Brush with Illumination: my favorite piece from the walk. The brush handle is actually made from solar panels that illuminate the tip in the night.

If any of you moms/parents reading this post lives in Vancouver or knows of parents with babies living here, the Stroller Art Walk takes place once a month and meets at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown. Drop-in/registration fee is CAD5. The resident guide, Catherine, is really nice, informative, and has a real passion for breaking down art for the masses and encouraging people to engage with art pieces around town.

PS: I am devastated that we have only just over a month left here in Vancouver. I love this town so much! :-/

If you think traveling with another person is tricky, imagine traveling with 3 other adults and 3 children age 4.5 months, 18 months, and 5.5 years all packed in a mini-van.

That was us yesterday. Sure, we did not go very far: Grouse Mountain, one of the closest and biggest ski resorts in Vancouver only 25 minutes’ drive away. We had not been there before and needed to since the snow season is nearly over and our time here is almost up. And it is Grouse, THE peak of Vancouver, gotta go up there at least once! Another family we know here who are rather new in Vancouver and also from my hometown, Singapore, wanted to visit the mount, so it seemed logical to do a trip together. Because it was our first trip with another family, I was slightly anxious about how the day was going to eventuate. For starters, we didn’t have any real agenda. I would like to snowboard since I haven’t done it already here in Canada (what?!!!) (we snowshoed a couple months back at Mt Seymour but that was about it in terms of winter sports) but who will look after Benji if both Bry and I snowboarded? We couldn’t possibly place Benji in their care when they already have two kids to keep them occupied. Our friends don’t snowboard but would like to snowshoe: would I be able to do it with them and maybe sling Benji the entire snowshoe activity? What if I fall? What if Benji starts fussing throughout the day and screams the entire car ride? Will Bry get to snowboard? What are the other two kids going to do if they don’t snowshoe? Aagh.

But as the title already revealed: the day went better than fine; it was a success. Here are some of my observations from this successful trip and recommendations/things to remember for future travels with other families:

1) Have a loose agenda and be flexible: So I did not get to snowboard because I decided that, between Bry and me, Bry, a more seasoned snowboarder would have gotten way more out of snowboarding in one of Vancouver’s most popular ski resorts. Of course he did. Two hours of full-on snowboarding on slopes overlooking the Vancouver city on a Tuesday in spring was great for him, as far as I could tell. It also started snowing in the middle of his rides, sprinkling fresh powdery snow and maximizing his already enjoyable experience. Originally, my back up plan was to snowshoe, but because it was quite a slippery walk for me to get to the rental office with a baby carrier on, I did not feel safe and balanced enough to make it there without slipping and hurting myself so I bailed. But experiencing the snow fall on the mountains while gazing at the city from the peak with little Benji strapped on me was a beautiful enough experience. I had no complaints. I also got to hang out and watch my friends and their kids play in the snow which was incredibly enjoyable (they, too, did not rent snowshoes because they did not have appropriate waterproof footwear to begin with).

2) Be prepared to wait and give yourself lots of buffer time: God bless our friends who went with us who were soo patient to wait for Benji and me during nursing times. In return, we also hung out when they had to run around with their restless kids who insisted on looking at something different than what we adults agreed upon. At one point during the car ride, we had to pull over to stop for my friend’s daughter, who gets motion sickness easily, nearly threw up. Traveling with kids aint easy and we all need to remember that.

3) Pack snacks and remember to take them wherever you go: This will be more relevant to parents of older kids who are already on solids. My friend was armed with a variety of snacks for her kids during the car ride and when we were up in the mountains. I did a version of that, but forgot to take the snacks with us up, and resulted to purchasing some snacks for Bry and me (plus stealing some of theirs). Having said that, it is also important for nursing moms to be well fed and hydrated. Thankfully there was a cafe serving healthy snack options but it would have been so much easier had I remembered my bag of food! Adults will be fine if snacks are forgotten but little kids with their frontal lobes still developing have little control over inhibition and theory of mind, and will probably lose it and not be as forgiving gif they are not fed food the instant they want it.

4) Pack extra plastic bags and diapers: You really never know for how long you will be out and whether your kids are going to suddenly fall ill or be extra fussy with the slightest wet diaper. Plastic bags take up little space in your bag so carry them all if you can! LIke I mentioned earlier, my friend’s daughter nearly threw up in the car and while she had a bag prepared, she thought it had some holes and therefore needed another bag for buffer. As for me, Benji did some explosive poops up in the mountains (thinner air? Shrugs) and soiled his clothes, and therefore needed more bags than usual.

5) Bring along toys/entertainment for the car ride: The iPhone is a lifesaver for many parents of kids all ages. When the kids were getting restless in the car, my friends whipped out their iPhones – one for each child – and put on songs and cartoons for them. I did not have to use mine on Benji this trip, but when we drove around Seattle, I had my iPhone out as well to entertain him. With Benji en route home from Grouse, we discovered his new fascination with the noise made from shaking a bag of chips. It was a lifesaver because he was sufficiently entertained throughout the ride despite his exhaustion from the day (it was also slightly past his bedtime by then).

At the end of the day, Bry got to snowboard for a full 2 hours, I got to play a bit in the snow with Benji, my friends’ kids got to make little snowmen, snow angels, and hang out in the snow. My friends also got to enjoy their kids’ excitement from playing in the snow, which was fun enough for cityfolk like us who grew up in tropical climates.

Have you taken road trips with other families? DO you have any other suggestions for dealing with these travels?



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Exactly two more months left in Vancouver. !!! Where did all the time go? Someone once said this about motherhood “the days are long but the years are short.”

Couldn’t agree more even tho I’m only at month number four.

The photo above was taken outside UBC’s Museum of Anthropology that we visited last Sunday. When the weather is that amazing Vancouver certainly looks like a perfect place with the snow capped mountains n sea views . Hoping for more sunny days like that so we can enjoy this town a little more.