Wednesday, May 25, 2016

No Mess Summer Pudding Popsicles

Summer memories of our childhood include making home-made popsicles from juice, or fruits
and enjoying them in the backyard. All I can think of as an adult is sticky, drippy, mess! (Don’t
get me wrong, I let my kids get all kinds of dirty, but sometimes you just need a popsicle inside
and don’t want sticky fingerprints all over!)

This simple idea makes dripless popsicles for your little ones to enjoy!

Instead of using juice or fruits, try a package of pudding mix. Make it as per the instructions on
the container and pour into your popsicle mould. Allow to freeze and voilá! In a few hours, you
will have tasty homemade popsicles for your little ones!

My kids love helping out with the mixing, and there is usually enough left over for a few
spoonful’s of pudding to hold them over until it is frozen!

Another reason why we love this option, is so that we can make dairy free popsicles. Check the ingredients on your favorite pudding and you will find that some are dairy free! They are great for lactose intolerant kids like ours! Just add your non-dairy milk (we like almond milk here) as per the package directions. This batch was made with the Tupperware popsicle moulds and Epicure’s chocolate pudding. On our next batch we are going to try vanilla pudding with mashed raspberries swirled in!

Don’t have popsicle moulds? No problem! Get some popsicle sticks and some small plastic or
paper cups. Pour your pudding into the cups and insert your stick! Once frozen, run a bit of hot
water on the cups to loosen or peel off the paper cup.

There are so many pudding flavors out there from chocolate to vanilla to butterscotch and more! What is your favorite pudding flavor? Consider vanilla with crushed Oreo bits, or vanilla with a ripe banana. Want a little less sugar? Try using yogurt instead of pudding.

Happy popsicle making!

Lindsay is a wife, a mom to two little boys, a soccer player, a lifetime traveler and a lover of
learning. She resides in Langley and is currently searching out new ways to enjoy every minute
she can with her family, while balancing the pressures of living in our fast-paced society. Check
out Lindsay’s blog at www.carpediemourway.com

Monday, May 23, 2016

Getting Ready for Summer Camp: Emily Press Labels

Emily Press Labels are designed with moms and tots in mind and offer stylish, durable labels that are perfect for camps, school and keeping your child’s stuff “getting lost." As soon as your child is old enough to participate in programs you realize the value of personalizing their items. With trendy color palettes, playful characters and fashionable designs, Emily Press Labels appeal to every child’s personality. 

The labels not only look great, they are extremely durable and stand-up to regular washing, microwaves, wear-and-tear and continued use. Perfect for labelling sippy cups, shoes, backpacks, clothing, swim wear and much more.  

Perfect for the summer Emily Press Camp Labels pack is up to the task. The pack contains 122 labels in different shapes that are appropriate for everything your child can possibly need. Dishwasher-safe labels for water bottles and food containers, slim labels for toiletries and flashlights, shoe labels for hiking boots, sneakers and water shoes, large waterproof labels for sleeping bags and backpacks, medium-size slim labels for books and electronics. 

Just for the organizing Mom – Household labels help keep your home organized too! They have labels for spice jars, food containers, tools, books, file folders, craft supplies and beauty products. 

Emily Press label line continues to grow with new designs. Check out their full collection online at www.emilypress.com

Monday, May 16, 2016

Perfect for Whole Family: Kids Playce at Playland!

Saturday May 5th 2016 was a perfect day to go to Playland - especially since it was the fun filled playpark’s opening weekend of the season! The sun was shining, the weather was perfect - warm and sweetly fragrant with cherry blossoms and lilac, so reminiscent of a perfect Spring Vancouver day. And what a great day to hit up playland for opening day. We headed downtown early and immediately spotted the classic coaster on the horizon, which we excitedly pointed out to the kids as we cruised up Hastings towards the park gates. My kids and I had been counting down the days until Playland for several weeks, so as we approached the front gates, to say they were excited is an understatement.

We arrived around 11am and walked right through the front gates, pleasantly surprised that there weren’t many people there yet. In fact, we walked onto almost every ride!! What a concept with 2 kids under 5 that don’t always have the utmost of patience. Once we were in the front gates we excitedly headed to the Kids Playce where the kids chose their first ride of the day – the Cool Cruzers!


My girls immediately chose the “pink sparkly car” to ride in. They loved it so much that they actually went on the ride 3 times consecutively. KC’s Raceway, which is another car ride that winds along a real race track!

This is such a great ride for the young ones because it makes the kiddies think that they’re actually steering and driving a real car! There are shiny punch buggies, cool jeeps and glittery convertibles, all chasing each other around the track. My girls had such a blast on the Cool Cruzers that they next had to try out their skills on KC's Raceway, which is another car ride that winds along a real race track!  



Our next choice was the Teacups Ride. I’m pretty certain that my kids thought we were in Disneyland for this one! This is a fairly new ride at Playland – Est 2013 – and it’s just as dizzy and fantastic as the one in California! The cups spin around fast or slow depending on how you steer the wheel in the middle of the cup, and I couldn’t help but laugh at my 2 year old’s face as the cup gathered speed around the corners!

Next up – the Honeybee Express! This is a great little train for kids and families of all ages. My girls immediately headed to the caboose and were all smiles as we wound around the enchanted forest. After the choo choo ride of the Honeybee Express, we headed over to KC’s Explorers, which are super cute pirate ships that float along in water. I loved the striped pirate flags and my girls loved the fact that they thought they were actually sailing on the open sea.

Since my little ones are still a bit timid, we opted out of the Kettle Creek Mine Coaster and the Balloon Explorers, but these two rides are by far two of the coolest looking rides in the Kids Playce – and the bonus is that you only have to be 42” and 36” tall to ride them (respectively). And let’s not forget my fave as a kid – the Choppers, a fun motorcycle ride under a flame-decorated awning – and the Merry Go Round, a traditional family fave.

At this point we had really worked up an appetite so we headed on over to White Spot, the traditional and most popular place to grab a burger and fries in the park, and we filled up before heading to get some yummy cotton candy and to try our luck at the midway! Midway was the highlight of the day. Daddy showed off his skills and immediately popped 3 balloons, winning both girls a shopkins plush - what a success! After several fun filled hours of rides, treats and fun, we headed back to our car with our bellies full of cotton candy and smiles on our faces. What a wonderful day at Playland!

Playland is now open from May 7th - June 26th (Saturdays & Sundays till June 17) from 10am-6pm. For general information and ticket prices check out PlayLand at the PNE.  Reminder: Children 3 & under receive free admission to Playland.  For information and height requirements on all rides check out Kids Playce at Playland.

Contest Time: Enter to win 1 set of 4 Family Packs of One-Day Playpass tickets (valued at $144.00). Prize includes gate admission and unlimited access to 30 rides and attractions excluding Revelation, Drop Zone, Haunted Mansion and Pacific Adventure Golf. Enter at www.urbanbaby.ca 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Celebrating You with Mother’s Day High Tea

I can’t think of a more divine and elegant memory than of the time that my mother and I enjoyed high tea together in Salisbury, England. It was right before we visited the historic site of Stonehenge, and it was summer time, so the air was sweet with honeysuckle and freshly mowed lawns, and the Devonshire cream and jam on the freshly baked scones were a delightful addition to the authentic English Tea.


What a lovely idea to gather up your mother/grandmother/children and recreate the elegance and enjoyment of an English High Tea this mother’s day? Here is a list of some of the wonderful options that High Tea has to offer in the Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island. Remember to make reservations early, as these fabulous events tend to book up early!

Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Head up to the 15th floor of the iconic Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and enjoy classic English-inspired tea service as you overlook the stunning skyline of Downtown Vancouver. Called Tea at the Top, you will have your choice of a fine assortment of teas, panna cotta with fresh berries, finger sandwiches, scones and sweet treats from the in-house Pastry Shop. If you have little ones, check out the Children's Bubblegum Tea where your little prince or princess will get to have their tea and treats in a real castle!

Finally, get ready to channel your inner Titanic-themed garb (think Rose dressed to the nines for dinner) and visit the famous Fairmont Sunday Best!  Every Sunday, Tea at the Top encourages you to come dressed to impress in your best fascinator or bowtie, and the table selected as ‘best tea attire’ during the 12:30pm & 3:30pm seatings will get a complimentary glass of champagne. Don’t forget to tag @fairmontvan #teaatthetop to share your best outfit.

900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
Contact: 604-684-3131


Victorian Tea and the Fairmont Empress 
The pastry chef at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria crafts treats like no other, and the beloved ritual of afternoon tea in the lobby will leave you feeling like the Queen herself! Set against the beautiful scenery of Victoria’s inner harbor, the lobby of the Empress brings to into a scene reminiscent of an old English castle – the décor is lush with rich chintz fabrics, antiqued tapestries and rugs, elegant wing back chairs, vintage furnishings and hand-carved tables. Indulge in an assortment of delightful, high quality teas, coffees and goodies, all served on beautiful William Edwards china. The experience will leave you feeling like royalty for sure!

721 Government St, Victoria 
250-384-8111


The Little White House 
La vie est belle at the Little White House café in historic Fort Langley. Modelled after a Parisian Salon Café which mixed café au lait with delectable pastries, The Little White House is a heritage building that offers delicious brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. You will be served a beverage of your choice and can order off the menu (be sure to try their savory crepes) or enjoy a three-tiered platter of in-house made “sweet petits” - macrons, scones, petit sandwiches, tarts and more. Be sure to save some time to browse the local and artisan crafts in the Salon Shoppe after your tea, and don’t forget to wander through historic Fort Langley after, in search of an antique treasure or just to window shop!

9090 Glover Rd. Fort Langley
604-888-8386


Truffles High Tea at Van Dusen Gardens 
May is a beautiful month for gardens – fragrant flowers, beautiful bushes and blooming trees adorn all of Vancouver’s streets and boroughs. What better way than to enjoy mother’s day than to do high tea in one of the city’s most beautiful gardens? Visit Truffles on mother’s day for a lovely afternoon tea which includes: French macarons, coconut macaroons, shortbread, petit fours, chocolate truffles, scones, croissants, a daily sandwich, raspberry jam, honey and clotted cream. Take a stroll through Van Dusen’s gorgeous botanical gardens afterwards and enjoy the scenery.

5151 Oak Street Vancouver
604-505-4961

Secret Garden Tea Company 
The Secret Garden Tea Company is one of Kerrisdale’s local favorites. All the goodies are fresh, seasonal and made in-house, and served on gleaming china and linen napkins, and the specially blended Secret Garden Tea makes the High Tea experience a lovely time. Seatings are at 12noon, 2:15 and 4:30pm daily.

5559 West Boulevard, Vancouver
604-261-3070



Neverland Tea Salon 
This Peter Pan-themed tea salon goes beyond the traditional High Tea menu – in fact, get ready to try the most delicious tea-infused cocktails, such as Peter’s Broken Promise and Tinkerbell’s Lost Kiss (available at the Lost Boys Bar inside the salon)! Their high tea provides the highest quality ingredients, full of creativity and culinary adventure. They also offer gluten and dairy free options for those with allergies. This year, they are offering a special mother’s day menu that offers a champagne high tea option as well as the usual high tea. They go beyond the usual pastries and offer crab cakes and an asparagus and prosciutto croissant that I’ve heard is a delight! Book now to avoid disappointment.

3066 W Broadway, Vancouver
604-428-3066


Tracycakes High Tea
Tracycakes is a favorite stop for Fraser Valley dwellers who love homemade sweets and treats, and their high tea is no different – not to mention a great deal at only $18.50 per person. Even better, if you want to enjoy all those petit treats, finger sandwiches, goodies and teas in the comfort of your own home, Tracycakes does High Tea to go! Check out their website for more information.
Prices and events are subject to availability and change. Please contact the location of your choice to make reservations.

Abbotsford Cafe
101 2636 Montrose Ave, Abbotsford
604-852-1904

Murrayville Cafe
5 Corners
21594 48th Ave, Langley

Prices and events are subject to availability and change. Please contact the location of your choice to make reservations.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

BC Transplant: A Second Chance at Life

Each year, BC Transplant dedicates the month of April to sharing stories and raising awareness about the benefits of organ donation and the life-saving effects of transplantation.  Elaine Young shares her story with her daughter Addison.

My very first Mother’s Day was just days away and I wasn’t even sure I’d have any reason to celebrate. My newborn daughter Addison was in the ICU at BC Children’s Hospital struggling for every beat of her tiny heart. We had already been told the grim news – her only chance for survival was a heart transplant. Try digesting that shocking conversation, especially as first-time parents already reeling from our baby’s sudden heart failure and ensuing diagnosis of a rare congenital heart defect.

Just three weeks prior, we had been sent home from the hospital with a perfectly healthy child after a perfectly normal pregnancy. Now we had a baby who was being kept alive by a heart-lung machine and waging a full-out war against time. It was terrifying and surreal. I knew the odds were not in our favour. At that time, the wait list for organs in BC was especially dismal and Addison’s condition was so precarious it was an hour-by-hour situation.

On Monday morning, we were walking around the shopping mall. Eight hours later, we were at the ER at BC Children’s Hospital. By midnight, Addison’s heart was in failure. On Wednesday the doctors told us her only hope was a new heart. She got listed for transplant on Thursday. Our medical team started making plans to get Addison stable enough for surgery to implant a Berlin Heart – a mechanical heart pump that would hopefully keep her alive long enough for the wait. They told us to prepare for up to a year, or even longer.

Then on Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day and five days after our arrival in the ER, our surgeon called us in the ICU. He wanted to speak to me so my husband Aaron handed the phone over. “I have a Mother’s Day present for you,” said Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi. I kind of scoffed thinking to myself,
“What? Did our surgeon buy me chocolates or flowers???”


“I have a new heart for you.” Those magic words that changed everything. I couldn’t even process it and I just started shaking and repeating, “Are you sure? Is this a joke?”
Late that evening, we kissed our baby girl good-bye as she was wheeled into the operating room. We were so scared yet so hopeful. This was her chance. She had already showed us she was a fighter and she wasn’t ready to give up.

On Mother’s Day, Addison got her new heart.

Of course the story doesn’t end there with a “happily ever after”. Transplant is not a cure. It’s simply exchanging one deadly condition with another chronic condition that is more easily managed. The current survival rate at 10 years post transplant is still only around 50-60%. Addison has had her fair share of ups and downs on this transplant roller coaster ride. Before she even left the OR, her new heart stopped working, also known as primary graft failure. Many patients don’t survive this devastating setback. She had to go back on ECMO in the hopes her new heart just needed a rest. Amazingly that’s just what happened and we were able to take her home from the hospital three weeks later.

Addison has also dealt with a couple of nasty infections that sent us back to hospital, plus the usual crazy schedule of blood work, appointments, ECHOs, ECGs, scans and tests means we have spent far too many hours at our ‘second home’.

But there is so much we have learned along this journey. Not only have we grown stronger together, we have such deep appreciation for the time we do have with Addison. She has taught us to revel in the moment. We have also found a new passion, dedicating our spare time to raising awareness about organ donation through BC Transplant and fundraising for transplant research through the Transplant Research Foundation of BC. Along the way, we have met so many wonderful recipients, donors, doctors, nurses and researchers. And we have made deep and meaningful friendships, which ease the burden of this “new normal”.

Addison is now five years old and about to start kindergarten this September. She truly embraces life and loves to take on new challenges.  Her current obsessions include skiing, skating, gymnastics, colouring and constructing things with Lego and blocks.  She also became a big sister a few weeks ago, a role she has taken on with great enthusiasm (at least most of the time).
We live by the philosophy another 25+ year heart transplant recipient wisely shared with us – go and live the life you were supposed to live. For my husband and I, we live to travel and now we’ve introduced Addison to our world. So far, her passport stamps include Italy, France, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, and Hong Kong. Last summer, she added Argentina to her list too when we traveled to the World Transplant Games. Out of 800 athletes from around the world, all of them transplant recipients, Addison was the youngest competitor there. She proudly came home with two gold medals.

Every day we think of Audrey, the beautiful little girl who has made all of this possible. She was only six days old when her mom Felicia had to come to terms with the worst news a parent can ever face. Yet Felicia didn’t hesitate. She immediately said yes to organ donation, believing that saving lives was the reason Audrey had been born. We are so incredibly grateful, and this Mother’s Day we will celebrate a major milestone – five years of “bonus time” with our miracle girl.

To follow Addison’s story: Addisonmcarthur.wordpress.com
Support the Addison Fund for transplant research: www.trfbc.org/addison

More information
To register your decision or for more information on organ donation, visit BC Transplant’s website. You can also support the cause by downloading their #MakeIt1Million campaign toolkit and share this positive message on social media.


Monday, April 25, 2016

This Mother's Day forgo the Stuff!

As Mother’s Day approaches, Canadians are scouring the mall for unwanted and likely anticipated gifts; handheld vacuums, scented candles, flowers and kitchen supplies.

This Mother’s Day, War Child Canada is encouraging Canadians to forgo the typical closet bound junk and instead donate to others in need on behalf of their mother.

As part of the Mother’s Day Sacrifice campaign, mothers can visit WarChild.ca/Mothers-Day-Sacrifice/ and pledge to sacrifice their gift and instead, ask their families to make a donation to War Child on their behalf.

To help drive home the point that no gift is the best gift, funny and light gift cards are available to send to families to encourage them to donate.

About War Child Canada
War Child works with war-affected communities to help children reclaim their childhood through access to education, opportunity and justice. The organization is operational in Afghanistan, Jordan, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and The Democratic Republic of Congo. War Child also takes an active role in raising public awareness around the impact of war on communities and the shared responsibility to act.





Saturday, April 23, 2016

Product Review: Playtex® Diaper Genie® Elite with Carbon Filter

To be honest, I’d heart about Diaper Genie’s for quite some time leading up to my pregnancy but questioned whether or not it truly was a necessity. Fast-forward to when it came time to organizing my baby shower registry prior to welcoming my little boy last summer – and I neglected to add a Diaper Genie to my list.

Since then though there have admittedly been plenty of times where in I’ve cursed the fact that I chose to forego this neat little contraption as I’ve made trip after trip down to the garbage room in our building (oftentimes at rather inconvenient hours to boot!).

So, you can imagine how absolutely thrilled I was when asked to put  the new Playtex® Diaper Genie® Elite with Carbon Filter to the test a few weeks ago.

The trial couldn’t have come at a better time with my now 9 month-old having transitioned to eating semi-solid foods…and with that transition comes a whole new level of diaper stink.

First off, the Diaper Genie comes with easy-to-follow assembly instructions and very few parts to worry about (not to mention a nice box that is guaranteed to keep your little one happily amused for at least 30 minutes).

Once assembled and neatly tucked away next to the change table the slim silhouette of the Diaper Genie all but disappeared in my condo-sized bedroom – as did the scent of smelly diapers thanks to an added odor neutralizing charcoal filter.

The Elite is slightly taller than other Diaper Genie models (great given I am tall), and it features a convenient foot-pedal that activates the lid, allowing you to quickly get rid of soiled diapers in a snap.

We managed to fit close to a weeks worth of diapers in our Elite Diaper Genie before I had to empty it, and even that was a cinch.  A push button pops open the plastic cover allowing for easy access to the bag with minimal exposure to odor. A quick snip, knot and repositioning has the Elite Diaper Genie back in business in minutes!

We’ve yet to cycle through the package of Diaper Genie Disposable System Refills that was included with the product itself, so I can’t truly attest to how having to replace them on the regular will become a factor in my level of adoration for this handy system (and how long we continue to use the Diaper Genie as a result).

I did reach out to a few other Mom’s using the Diaper Genie system to hear what their thoughts were on the maintenance matter and it was pretty clear that the only main complaint was the costliness of the refills. Apparently you can keep an eye out for the odd sale and there several tips listed out there offering up no name brand tricks to help you avoid the costly refills.

Given that the Elite system also calls for the periodic replacement of its carbon filter (that helps to contain smells), I would also factor that into matters if contemplating a purchase – but even then, a quick look online reveals that they are available at a reasonable price.

These two minor points aside I would still give this product a green light and simply wish I’d had one sooner.

For more information about Playtex® Diaper Genie® Elite with Carbon Filter or other Diaper Genie® products and accessories visit: www.playtexbaby.ca. Enter to win your very own Diaper Genie at www.urbanbaby.ca in the contest section. Good Luck!

Danica keeps herself busy as a solo-mom to a busy baby boy while running her own business and living coastal life to the fullest! She enjoys an active lifestyle (when not busy working on exciting projects or taking her tiny tot out on adventures).  See what she's up to at: www.dvinewrites.com

Flying with Baby and a Stroller

When you're traveling with a baby or young child, bringing a stroller can seem like a great idea. It can help out a lot: your child doesn't have to walk, which means you can get from gate A to gate B faster, and they might even fall asleep in the stroller, giving you a bit of a break and them some rest.

However, bringing a stroller on the plane does have some drawbacks. If you have to check your stroller with the luggage, it might get damaged (this is actually quite likely to happen), and you will have to wait for it to come out of the plane at your destination. Sometimes the airline will allow you to check a stroller at the gate, and will also bring it out for you at the gate when you arrive. Even with that help, it still means you have to wait around before heading off to your next flight or the luggage carousel.

When my kids were younger, my husband and I usually brought either a baby-carrier like the Snugli or Baby Bjorn when they were infants, or a back carrier when they were slightly bigger. These were allowed inside the cabin and when we needed to check the back carrier, it was a lot sturdier and less likely to be damaged than a large stroller.

We did bring a stroller along on one of our long-haul flights. It was a collapsible umbrella stroller, and on some airlines we were allowed to bring it in the cabin and stow it in the overhead bin. On another airline, we had to check it at the gate. We decided it was not worth the trouble after that trip. Too much work and not enough use out of it.

Ultimately of course, deciding whether to bring a stroller or not comes down to both what your needs are and what you preference is:

Tips for Traveling with a Stroller:

  • If you need the stroller to transport your infant or child quickly and comfortably at the airport, do consider the baby carrier option: it leaves your hands free and is a lot easier to handle on board and at the airport.
  • If you're bringing the stroller mainly to use at your destination, then consider other options such as renting a stroller when you arrive, or borrowing a stroller from friends and family. It saves you the hassle of dealing with a stroller before and after the flight and at the airport, and you won't risk the stroller getting damaged after it's checked in.
  • If you want to bring a stroller, bring the smallest kind of stroller you can get away with. Dealing with a collapsible umbrella stroller is definitely easier than a larger kind of stroller.

The policies and regulations for bringing a stroller on board vary from airline to airline.

Maria Haskins, is a freelance writer and translator, as well as a mother of two. She was born and grew up in Sweden, but moved to Canada in 1991. Currently, she lives outside Vancouver on the Pacific coast, and right now her home includes two kids, one husband, and one big dog. Check out her blog at www.traveling-kids.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html