Are your kids too bored and too hot? I know mine are, so we have been spending time at Maple Ridge Park in… Yes, Maple Ridge. The other side of the river.
Do you recall my latest post about being ‘frazzled in the Fraser Valley?’
If not, here’s a brief recap.
I was tired and frustrated from:
a. not being able to keep the house clean;
b. sibling rivalry;
c. not being able to pee alone (okay, I added that one this time, but it’s a luxury I still long for);
d. too many deadlines, too many distractions.
Last week I decided it was high-time I put my girls in a summer day camp, which turned out to be a great experience for all of us.
I was able to get stuff done(ish), and my wee Valley gals had the adventure of a lifetime going back in time at the Fort Langley National Historic Site.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you probably know we spend a lot of time throughout the year at the Fort.
Now we can add – enrolled our daughters in their summer day camp at Vancouver’s only real fort to that list.
Molly and Zoe spent the day getting hands on with history, discovering what life was like during the 19th century fur-trade at Camp Voyaguers . Each day was a new adventure of imagination, games and play.
Here’s what the website says about the camp:
Sign on for the adventure and spend a week as a Voyageur! Learn the skills you need to survive in the wild and live the experience of the legendary Voyageur. This fun-filled week will feature crafts, music, tasty bannock and butter and activities related to the French, Metis and First Nations cultures of the fur trade.
I didn’t stay to check it out (I had stuff to do), so I could only go by the word of what my wee Valley gals had to say. They tell it like it is.
What Molly said:
“I liked making friends, doing arts & crafts and the leaders — they were really nice and a lot of fun!”
What Zoe said:
“Stop bugging me while I’m trying to watch Goosebumps..I liked all of it Mommy!”
The day camps, which cost $44 per child, per day, are full for the season, however, we are very excited to have 1 spot to give away for one lucky VM fan and their child between the ages (6-12) to the Trades Camp. The winner will get to send their child to camp for 1 whole day (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) on Friday, Aug. 19th.
If your child has a sense of adventure, they’ll love playing a part in this 1800’s Hudson’s Bay Company fort. They’ll get to dress up as a Royal Engineer and take aim with an airsoft musket. There’s also a chance to learn how blacksmiths make tools out of metal, practice the art of barrel-making, pan for gold and pretend they are the manager at the Fort!
Note: They must be between the ages of 6 and 12!
Whether YOU want to get caught up on work, spend the day checking out the shops and a quiet lunch without the kids or get your hair done, it’s totally up to you.
To enter, simply tell us below what you’d do with your day off. This flash contest closes Wednesday, Aug. 17th at noon.
CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. Congrats to Shannon L – You are the winner!
Note: Keep watch for more camps coming to the fort next spring/summer.
Feeling very excited and a tad nervous to work a mini-shift at Dairy Queen tomorrow (Aug. 11th), making Blizzards for the 14th annual Miracle Treat Day.
There are so many different varieties – what if I make them wrong? What if someone yells at me for giving them a cookies and cream Blizzard when they really wanted strawberry banana? What if I can’t contain myself, so I eat all the toppings and pass out in an ice cream coma???
All kidding aside, I’m very excited and honoured to be asked to take part in this special day at the Willoughby DQ location.
All proceeds from every Blizzard® Treat sold will be donated to BC Children’s Hospital, one of 12 children’s hospitals across Canada supported by Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). The funds raised in British Columbia will support the urgent health needs of sick and injured children treated at BC Children’s Hospital.
Also helping out behind the counter will be Miss, Mrs. and Miss Teen BC Pageant, The Official Vancouver Giants, Vancouver Stealth, Langley Township Mayor, Langley Township Fire Department, Thrive Bootcamp and more!
It’s supposed to be a hot day tomorrow, so make sure to swing by your local Dairy Queen to beat the head with a delicious Blizzard treat.
Would really LOVE to see you at the new Willoughby Town Centre location – I’ll be there from noon to 1 p.m., but the event is an all-day party.
What’s your favourite Blizzard? I’m a huge an of their new Royal Oreo.
This summer has been a magical time for our family. We’ve gone on picture-perfect outings, I’ve managed to keep my house spotless and have already completed our back-to-school shopping.
Okay, if Maury was to read this, he would determine all aforementioned points are big fat blatant lies.
Here’s the truth.
A. Many of our family outings have ended in bloody knees, sibling rivalry and a meltdown over:
to hold mom’s hand,
to play with the donut Shopkin,
to sit beside Dad,
to sit beside Mom,
to walk Tucker,
to use the red pencil crayon.
Catch my drift?
B. Our laundry situation is INSANE. We’d need at least three machines to catch up with this growing mountain of mildew and grass stains. Molly and Zoe love to play ‘garage sale’ in our hallway, which involves taking all the junk that has been put away in their room and leaving it strewn all through the hall. Tucker loves to steal their Shopkinz and poop said Shopkinz in our basement.
C. Back-to-school shopping? Say what? Didn’t summer just start? Was a list mailed out? Can I just wing it and grab a handful of pens from our junk drawer and call it a day? How the heck are we going to afford all the new clothes, shoes and supplies after our dishwasher just broke down?
I just want to scream, hide under some blankets and watch 90210 reruns all day. Adulting in the summer is hard stuff, but I’m not ready for it to end just yet…
Dear Summer, SLOW DOWN. Signed, Frazzled in the Fraser Valley.
You know what gives me the most anxiety this time of year? COSTCO. Seriously, I somewhat get having Halloween costumes, but Christmas Trees? Really?
If it wasn’t for their yoga pants and hot dogs, I wouldn’t dare visit this time of year. But I love hot dogs, which is probably why I need the stretchy yoga pants.
Quite the conundrum you see.
This summer seems to have flown by faster than any other year. We had so many big plans (see our family bucket list), but feels like we haven’t done as much as we had hoped.
I love being a freelancer, but it can be a struggle to work from home when the kids are out of school for summer. We figured we’d cut down on childcare costs by having me get up early to write. That way we’d have the whole day for fun and adventures, but it doesn’t always go that way.
We did the math and it wasn’t pretty. By the time we’d pay for childcare, I’d be making around $30 a day – wasn’t really worth it.
But we had a plan…I’d wake up bright and early to get a head start on work.
My girls and Tucker usually end up in our bed at one point in the night. The second I open my eyes, they seem to sense it. It could be 5 a.m. or 10 a.m., they really don’t discriminate.
The second I rise, so do they.
And trust me, I do my very best to be quiet.
I’ve even gone as far as to army crawl through the bedroom and hold off making coffee or breakfast. But no, they sense mom is awake, so they come running after me, one by one – even the dog.
“Where’d ya go Mom?” says Molly, rubbing her tired eyes.
“I’m hungry, I want breakfast,” demands Zoe.
“Woof – feed me, cuddle me and take me for a walk before I poop on your carpet,” says Tucker… well, at least that’s my translation of his puppy eyes and tail wag, while I fiddle with the coffee filter.
I’d love to be able to write once they’re in bed, but that’s when my brain goes completely blank.
After 8 p.m., I’m lucky if I muster up enough energy to watch my PVR’d Housewives and drown myself in
wine. No, remember I’m having a sober summer? Who’s big idea was that?
Nowadays, I think us parents have it a lot harder in the summer than our parents did. When I was Molly’s age (7), I’d take off on my bike all day, visit friends and play in the forest to build forts.
I don’t recall having my mom accompany us on most play dates. Were play dates even a thing in the 80s? She didn’t follow me to our complex part when I was 7 or park a chair in the driveway while I played with the neighbours to make sure I didn’t get run over by a car.
She was able to get stuff done.
I swear our house was always spotless and there was some sort of baked treat on the counter. And she was a single mom to boot. I still bow to this woman!
In our townhouse complex, there’s no way I’d let my girls play out in the street. Cars speed by at all hours, teenagers party around the clubhouse and needles have been found recently at the toddler playground nearby.
Recently, Jason confronted a homeless couple sleeping in that same clubhouse and called 9-1-1. This was just steps away from OUR front door.
I know it’s not our fault, but I can’t help but feel really guilty about my girls’ childhood.
I also feel bad about the growing list of emails I haven’t responded to yet, about having to rewash that same load of laundry because I forgot to put it in the dryer (again), for NOT visiting with friends as much as I had hoped (not sure if I have any left at this point), and for not updating my blog more consistently or attending blog-related events.
Okay, it’s not all doom and gloom at the home front. We’ve had some great days at the pool, picnics at the park, museum visits and BBQ’s. I’ve also gained some amazing new clients and really enjoy this blog – even after 3 years, it is my passion project that makes me feel connected to the community.
I love having all this on the go, but it’s tough to do it all at the same time. Something has to give. Usually it’s my sanity or waistline.
I think it was Oprah who said it best:
“You can have it all. Just not all at once.”
School will be here before we know it, so I’m doing my best to take everything in stride before the sun sets on summer.
And you know what? I’m writing this very post from the park while my girls play. I’m not sure if this makes me a terrible mom or a brilliant one, but I’m just going to go with the latter (don’t you dare tell me otherwise, my mom ego, mixed with some fierce PMS seriously could’t handle it right now.
In just a mere matter of weeks, both of my girls will be in school full-time, which makes me want to bawl like a baby. And I have.
For now, I’m going to accept that I’m frazzled, take whatever help I can get and not worry about having a spotless home. Who’s with me?
If someone had told me a few months ago that I’d embark on a sober summer, I would have thought they were nuts.
The truth is, I adore my wine, aka. ‘Mommy Juice’ – perhaps a little more than I should.
I would gladly drink it from a box. I enjoyed it while wearing polka-dot socks.
Pinot, chard or merlot, it can be hard to say no.
A glass of white pairs well with cheese, especially cheesy ‘reality’ shows like the Real Housewives of Orange County, but also goes hand-in-hand with baby showers, girls’ nights, date nights, camping, baseball games, hockey games, picnics, lunch dates, playdates and Netflix.
As you can see, this Valley Mom was in quite the fix.
It was shortly after I stopped nursing Zoe that wine went from a recreational activity to an alarming nightly habit.
Jason was working a string of late shifts and we were renting the top floor of a house out in Brookswood.
Back then, it seemed like I was the only young mom on the whole block. Come to think of it, I probably was. Most of the residents worked early shifts and disappeared during the day.
While we weren’t living out in the boonies, it felt like I was on a deserted island with a baby and a toddler at the time.
I’d finally get my girls to sleep around 7 p.m. and watch as all the lights on our street went out shortly after like clockwork. By 8 p.m., it would be complete darkness.
I felt so alone, so stuck and bored out of my mind. Wine offered a cheap, tasty solution to my little domestic dilemma.
Once my youngest finished her bottle and was sound asleep in a milk coma, out came mommy’s soothing bottle.
All of my worries and stress from the day — toddler meltdowns, a teething baby and mounding debt — all seemed to dissipate with every delicious sip.
Four years later and 10 lbs heavier, this occasional party for one began to blend into my own bedtime routine.
It doesn’t help matters that Jason’s days off are often mid-week.
“It’s my Saturday night tonight!!!,” he’d announce, while walking through the front door and cracking open a bottle on a Tuesday.
“Let’s watch a movie and have wine!”
But then there was also his ‘Friday, Sunday and then the real weekend.’
You’ve probably heard of #TastyTuesday, #WineWednesday or #ThirstyThursday, right? Nowadays, every day offers an excuse to indulge.
Growing up, I didn’t ever see my own mom drinking during the week. Sure, she loved to partake in some bevies on the weekend, but most nights stuck with herbal tea.
It has made me reflect on the message I have been sending to my two young, impressionable daughters.
With my 35th birthday on the very near horizon, I’ve been feeling more self aware of who I am today and who I’d like to be the next 35 years.
Judging by all the wine purses, wine funnels and other funny wine-fuelled anecdotes shared on my personal Facebook wall, it’s obvious I’ve garnered the reputation as being that ‘party mom.’
Now, I’m not talking about drinking in excess, flashing anyone, blacking out or dancing on tables. That was my roaring 20’s… okay, and one wild NYE in my early 30’s fuelled by Sambuca.
It is rare I have more than three drinks on a weeknight. Typically, the hubs and I would just share a bottle of wine. Even so, drinking was beginning to cause a dark cloud to hang overhead.
I was unproductive, rapidly gaining weight and feeling down.
And let’s be real, wine glasses are a lot bigger than they used to be. Who actually measures their pour unless they are on Weight Watchers?. FYI, it’s 4 points per glass.
The only relief came from another glass at 5 p.m., sharp, while cooking dinner to make that ‘witching hour’ more bearable.
You know what I’m talking about right? The “I’m hungries, the “Eww, I’m not eating that,” the “Tucker pooped in the basement!the “Can’t we just get sushi?”… and my personal favourite, the “That looks disgusting – if you make me eat that I’m just gonna sit there!”
I couldn’t wait to get my girls to bed so that I could plop myself on the couch with a bag of salt & vinegar chips, raid their stale Halloween candy and pour myself second big fat cold glass of chardonnay.
It my eyes, it was my well-deserved ‘me-time.’ What I didn’t realize was what a disservice I was doing my own body, mind and soul.
Over time, I began to panic and question my nighttime routine. Why was I continuing to do it when it was making me feel like garbage? Why won’t I stop? What happens if I can’t?
There’s recreational drinking and then there’s alcoholism – Like many of my fellow parents out there, I felt trapped somewhere in the grey area.
But with alcoholism in my family tree, I can’t pretend that the grey area could get smaller in time if I’m not careful.
Nobody really talks about it, but I know I can’t be the only one out there with this love-hate relationship with this mommy and whine- wine culture.
Most would and have said not to overthink it. Kristyl – go pour yourself a big glass of wine and calm down, they say.
For the past year, I’ve tried on and off to take a vacation from my vice, but failed — well, until recently.
I decided to challenge myself to a sober summer and am proud to say that I am on day 44!
Aside from my two pregnancies, I haven’t gone that long without drinking, even occasionally, since the age of 19.
I’ve had SO MANY people ask, “Are you nuts? or “Why do this in the summer?” “Are you sure you don’t want just one glass? How about a spritzer?” “Are you pregnant?”
Fair enough, I get it.
Part of the reason was pure vanity. I hated the bags under my tired orbs and the escalating number on the scale.
But it was mostly out of desire to live in the moment this summer with my two girls. My youngest is going to Kindergarten in the fall – I wanted this vacation to be extra special, even if we don’t go anywhere super exciting.
I didn’t want to wake up each morning feeling grumpy and groggy like last summer.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always sunshine and lollipops.
We had our annual family camping trip, bbq’s, family get togethers and date nights and concerts where I’ve felt left out or bored. But that feeling is always fleeting.
I’ve taken up meditation, drink water like a camel and find there’s more time in the day now to be productive.
Me time is now a hot bubble bath, a new book or magazine, trip to the gym or pedicure. With all that money we’re saving on wine, I don’t feel so guilty about the occasional splurge.
It also helps to focus on what I’ve gained, instead of what I’m giving up.
In just 44 days, I’m 8 lbs slimmer without dieting, my complexion has done a complete 180, the bloat is gone and I feel like I’m 16 again.
A real wakeup call is that my youngest, Zoe, 5, picked up on my challenge.
“Mommy, you aren’t drinking wine anymore are you?” she asked, while studying my face one morning at breakfast.
“Nope, mommy is on a break,” I replied.
“You look good, your teeth don’t look funny,” she said.
Truth be told, my teeth haven’t changed — I’m not really a red wine drinker. But I’m pretty sure I get where she was going with that remark.
I do look different these days. Yes, I have a new do, eyebrows and lashes, but my face is more refreshed.
So, for the big question. Will I go back to wine after the sun sets on my summer challenge?
For now, I’m enjoying living in the moment, taking it day by day.
Of course, if I do decide to go for an alcohol-free autumn, you’ll be the first to know. Maybe we can even do it together ;).
If you’re in the same boat and are worried that your alcohol consumption is becoming a habit, there are lots of online quizzes that can indicate if you’re in the danger zone.
Just keep in mind, an online test is only one measure – only you know deep down if it’s time to call it quits or give your liver a vacation.
Sometimes you just need a little break to reset your mind, body and soul.
Who knows, you might actually surprise yourself and enjoy the challenge. I know I sure am. Cheers!
Summer is always a hectic time for our family because we have back-to-back birthday parties for Molly and Zoe.
Coming up with an affordable and unique venue can be a big challenge, but not if you do a little digging…you never know, you might strike gold.
For Zoe’s 5th birthday in June, we wanted to do something a little different this year that wouldn’t require any entertaining on our part.
After doing some research online for birthday party options here in the Fraser Valley, we decided to book the Gold Fever Party at Fort Langley’s National Historic Site.
Our little red head and 10 of her closest friends were given the ultimate gold prospector experience within the palisade walls of the Fort.
The party started at 10:30 a.m. on a beautiful Sunday morning – our group had the entire site to ourselves that first hour.
After being led to our private party room, which we were given free range to decorate, our own personal historic interpreter arrived to greet the group of wee gold prospectors.
We put up lots of gold balloons, yellow streamers and cupcakes with gold coins and sprinkles to go with the theme. It was definitely a refreshing change from our typical princess parties of the past.
The first stop on the tour was the ‘Big House’ to sign a gold license using ink and a calligraphy pen.
Fortunately, there was also the option to use crayon to sign the document.
En route to the gold panning station, Zoe and her guests had the opportunity to visit and feed the animals, including goats, rabbits and chickens.
After washing their hands, the girls passed through the garden and were given permission to pick fresh berries straight from the vine.
There were plenty of giggles at the gold panning station, and plenty of “gold” nuggets to boot!
“Mommy, I’m rich!” screamed Zoe, showing us her bounty.
No trip to the fort, even a birthday party, would be complete without a visit to the blacksmith workshop.
The birthday girl was given her own piece of metal to take home after the demonstration.
After all that panning and exploring, our group was famished. We headed back to the party room for lunch, cake and presents. Speaking of lunch, party hosts are given free range to use the gas BBQ on site.
Did you know that if there isn’t a fire ban, they’ll let you have a camp fire? Good thing the group left room for roasted marshmellows.
We couldn’t be happier with Zoe’s Gold Fever birthday party at the Fort Langley National Historic Site. Both the kiddies and parents had a real blast to the past. If you’re planning a party for your son or daughter, I highly recommend booking a party at the fort. In addition to the Gold Fever party, there is also both a High Tea and a Royal Engineers theme to choose from.
What: Gold Fever Party at the Fort Langley National Historic Site
- Includes all-day site admission.
- One-hour party includes the following guided activities with Parks Canada interpreter:
- Try on old-fashioned dress up clothes.
- Watch a blacksmithing demonstration.
- Sign a gold license and pan for gold.
- Optional bonfire (roasting sticks provided; bring your own food)
- Download invitations (PDF, 575 KB)
- Weekends: 10:30 am or 1:30 pm
- $14.70 (including GST) per child, for a maximum of 15 children. Adult chaperones complimentary.
For more information, visit www.pc.gc.ca
We’re so excited you decided to pop by and learn all about us.
This is a ‘blogazine’ (half online magazine/ half blog) that highlights all the best things, places and people that the Fraser Valley has to offer. From amazing boutiques, picturesque parks and charming cafes to award-winning restaurants and mom n’ pop diners, our Valley family is here to be your official tour guide.