Pink Shirt Day 2021!

A common fear many parents share is their child being bullied. Bullying unfortunately happens in school and online. The affects of bullying are not only physical, but emotional and psychological. The longer a child is bullied the more traumatic it can be.

This was my third attempt to get photos with my kids for #PinkShirtDay

“Bullying can be devastating, leaving children withdrawn, shy, and insecure. Kids frequently suffer stomach aches, headaches, panic attacks, and nightmares.” BullyinginCanada.ca

February 24 is Pink Shirt Day. This is a day to wear pink to symbolize bullying will not be tolerated.

The official Pink Shirt Day shirts are actually white this year. This was done intentionally to focus on the pink rainbow which represents hope, opportunity and the pride of LGBTQ2+ youth who are vulnerable to bullying during childhood.

Sadly, bullying may be unavoidable, but there are many ways to help prevent your children from being a victim.

  1. Most importantly, talk to them about it. Let them know they can always come to you no matter what. Listen to them.
  2. Teach them about bullying and let them know it is unacceptable to be bullied or be a bully. Teach them how to stay safe if they feel uncomfortable – stay near an adult or in a group.
  3. Monitor their social media.
  4. Put this number for BullyingCanada in their phone: 877-352-4497. They can text it 24/7 for support, help or advice.
  5. Be as involved with your children’s school life as you can be. Know their friends. If they seem off or upset, don’t let it go.

Watch this video for tips and advice to stop bullying:

Please head to Pink Shirt Day to purchase your official #PinkShirtDay merchandise. Proceeds fund anti-bullying initiatives. And be sure to wear your pink (or official white shirt with the pink rainbow) shirts tomorrow.

I co-wrote an article about Pink Shirt Day with the editor of Vancouvermom.ca. Read it here:

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This is the year to make yourself a priority

2020 was a year none of us expected. It was tough on so many people, including myself. I focused all of my energy on my three kids and absolutely none on myself. My resolution this year is to make myself a priority! I noticed a lot of resolution posts this past weekend had a similar theme.

Moms need to take care of themselves and not feel guilty about it. I spoke with some local Vancouver moms and they gave me some awesome tips and ideas for what they plan to do this year to make themselves a priority.

Read my full story here on Vancouvermom.ca:

Local gifts for Christmas 2020

December is my absolute favourite month of the year! I am obsessed with all things festive – decorations, baking, Christmas tree farms and twinkling lights. This year was definitely different. We all felt it. Nothing was normal. But we still made the best of it.

I find it so easy to write about Christmas and the holidays because I am so obsessed with it. I have had quite a bit of work published by Vancouvermom.ca which is my absolute favourite resource for moms (and dads and all caregivers) for information about living in and around Vancouver, BC. Check it out if you haven’t.

Here is some of the work I’ve done recently:

I love supporting small businesses and searching for the best local businesses to feature. I am also a mom of 3 very young kids, so I love finding and sharing fun activities to do.

This was super fun to write – again I was looking for local small businesses to feature! But I was also trying to think of unique gifts mom would LOVE!

Our virtual Santa fun!

This December was the year for visiting Santa virtually. Almost all mall Santa visits were cancelled or you were able to see the big man in red behind a plexiglass barrier.

We had two in-person ‘distanced’ Santa visits booked – both were cancelled. We opted for several virtual Santa visits and they were all incredible!

Willowbrook Santa

Here are the three virtual Santa visits:

One – Willowbrook Shopping Centre

Willowbrook Shopping Centre offered FREE 5 minute visits with Santa. Five minutes seemed too short to me when I first heard about it, but it was perfect! Santa was incredible and I’m pretty sure he was the real Santa! My kids were on cloud-9 for days after the visit.

Two – Joyful Learning Academy

Joyful Learning Academy Santa

We had a Santa and Mrs. Claus visit through the Joyful Learning Academy. It was a group zoom experience where Santa and Mrs. Claus interacted with the kids, sang songs and read several Christmas stories. It was over an hour long. They had a wonderful time.

Three – Live Calls with Santa

Live Calls with Santa

3. The third Santa experience we had was through Live Calls with Santa. This was a VIP experience which was gifted to me. It was pretty amazing because before the visit an email was sent to me with some specific questions about my kids. Santa knew all sorts of things about them, such as their favourite sports and hobby’s and TV shows. My kids were blown away by this! My daughter was in complete shock when Santa knew so many things about her. I highly reccomended this experience.

All three of our Santa experiences were so special. We didn’t get to have traditional Santa photos taken, but we sure felt the magic of Santa more than ever. I would highly recommend these experiences for even non-pandemic Christmas years. They are perfect for moms who have a baby napping or for those who find it difficult to get out of the house with multiple kids. I hope these options are available next December when (hopefully) we are able to head back to the malls to see Santa in person again.

Link to my originally list of “Virtual Santa ops! “published on Vancouvermom.ca

Oh Christmas Tree!

My absolute favourite thing to do in December is go to a Christmas tree farm. This is a tradition I had growing up with my parents and something I love doing with my kids.

This year most Christmas activities were cancelled or “paused” due to pandemic restrictions in B.C.

Visiting a Christmas tree farm was one of our holiday highlights that’s for sure! We made it two of the lots on my list (see below) published on Vancouvermom.ca.

Dogwood Christmas Tree FarmAddress: 8589 252 St. Fort Langley

Dogwood Christmas Tree Farm was phenomenal! They had strict COVID-19 protocols in order. We wore masks throughout the farm (except to snap these photos, which were taken in one corner far from other people)! For many moms, including myself, it is SO important to be able to take a stroller on outings – this place was 100 per cent stroller friendly!

On the left we had a sweet moment. My wild 2-year-old is usually on the run when we go anywhere and ready to bolt.

On the right my kids wanted to buy the ONLY dead twig at the farm. “We found the perfect tree, mama!” They loved that it was red.

Art’s NurseryAddress: 8940 192nd Street, Surrey

Art’s Nursery was a great time – it was totally different than the typical outdoor Christmas tree farm. They had traditional cut trees, beautiful flocked trees, wreaths and a huge selection of festive decor. I absolutely loved visiting. It felt like a total festive experience. My kids had fun looking at the Christmas decor and we didn’t leave empty handed – I purchased little wooden ornaments for each of my kids.

Which Christmas farms did you visit in the Vancouver area? I am already planning my visits for next year!

Read the full of farms I wrote about on vancouvermom.ca

The Ultimate pumpkin patch – Taves Family Farm

With COVID-19 still going on there are very few activities I am able to do with three small kids. I have found visiting pumpkin patches to be the easiest thing to do to maintain distancing and get them outside. I have visited so many pumpkin patches this year.

And I am so happy I found this one — Taves Family Farms was phenomenal! There are so many fun things to do we didn’t even get to do it all. They have a corn maze, petting barn, peddle karts, jumping pillows (which we saw being heavily sanitized, which is important to me) a hayride and so much more.

For me and I’m sure a lot of other moms this is so important — it’s 100 per cent stroller friendly! I have a baby and a ton of stuff, so I need my stroller and can’t leave it behind. We skipped the tractor ride and walked to the pumpkin patch. There is a safe flat road that leads to the pumpkin patch. My two-year-old even thought the road was a perfect spot to stop for a little tantrum. 

We had the best time. On the way out we grabbed apple slushies, and WOW they are incredible! I highly recommend grabbing one. 

They are offering a fun and safe way for kids to trick-or-treat at the farm this year. Kids can dress up and visit 10 stations in a socially-distanced manner with staff wearing masks and gloves. 

How to create a mindful corner for your child on a budget

With school in session and the stress of COVID-19 on almost everyone’s mind, it’s more important than ever to have a calm space for your child to unwind in and relax when they get home from school. Here’s how!

There are many budget-friendly ways you can help your child deal with any worries they may have – create a mindful corner, play calming music or give them a massage.

Mindful Corner

You can create your own calm space for your child at home with things you already have.

“The mindful corner doesn’t need to cost anything to set up,” Jennie Abbot, founder of Harmony Kids Yoga, said. “Just dedicating a corner, chair, blanket or even spot on the floor as the space where your child can go and practice mindfulness when big feelings arise is enough.”

Abbot has created The Mindful You, Mindful Me Workshop to help parents establish their own simple mindful practices so they can teach them to their children and they can practice them together.

“The mindful corner is a place to feel all the big feelings and to express them in healthy ways,” she said.

Music 

Once you have your mindful corner set up you can find free music on YouTube or Spotify to help your child relax. Baby Einstein naptime music is a great option.

Massage

There are many immediate and long-term benefits for massaging your babies and children. It connects families and creates relaxation for both the child and the parents.

“Massage for babies and children is proven to increase the hormones that cause their body to shift to a more relaxed state,” Marie Arcand, CIMI (certified infant massage teacher by IAIM), said. “At the same time, it diminishes the hormones that are present with stress — it is beneficial for everyone to reduce and manage anxiety.”

It is very simple to learn how to give your children massages and incorporate it into your daily routine.

“Find someone who has knowledge about massages, find a book at the library or buy one,” Arcand said. “Start with ease and learn the basic simple passage movements, practice and your confidence will increase with daily practice,” she said. “It is not a chore, it is a special time in the day!”

Marie Arcand’s book suggestion – Infant Massage (Fourth Edition): A Handbook For Loving Parents, by Vimala McClure.

Most importantly, spending time with your child is the most important thing you can do. Lay with them in their calm space, listen to music together, talk and practice massages. This is a September none of us have ever experienced — the deeper connection you have with your child will make a huge impact in how they are dealing with any stress or fears they may have.

Originally published here.

Where to donate this holiday season

The past year has been very tough on a lot of people and a lot of organizations. I believe strongly in donating to charity and helping others. Giving back is so important if you are able to. There are so many deserving organizations in the Vancouver area, across Canada and all over the world. Here are a few local Vancouver charities that would be so grateful for your donations this holiday season – and they are all accepting donations virtually!

Screenshot taken from Vancouvermom.ca

The Greater Vancouver Foodbank

The Greater Vancouver Foodbank has created a Virtual Food Drive — it is a fun and secure way to fundraise online. This type of fundraising allows the food bank to purchase healthy and fresh food. This is a great way to connect with your family and friends and to give back to the community. You can register here.

The Vancouver Shoebox Project

The Vancouver Shoebox Project will not be collecting shoeboxes this year due in an effort to stop the spread COVID-19 and keep volunteers and communities healthy, but this organization needs your help more than ever. They have made the decision to go virtual this holiday season. Each shoe box is filled with thoughtful gifts valued at $50 and distributed to women impacted by homelessness. You can create a virtual shoebox here.

Covenant House Vancouver

Covenant House Vancouver helps homeless and at-risk street youth, ages 16 to 24 who have fled abuse or have aged out of foster care. Donations help this organization provide food, a space space, medical attention and so much more. Donate here.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army gives hope and support to the most vulnerable Canadians and to people all over the world. They offer assistance for children and families, shelter for the homeless and so much more. Donate here

YWCA Metro Vancouver

The pandemic has definitely affected the YWCA Metro Vancouver and they can use your help this holiday season. They are forecasting a deficit of over $640,000 as a result of the short-term closures of the YWCA Hotel and Fitness Centre. The hotel and fitness centre generate revenue which directly fund many of the programs they offer, which is very concerning for the 2021 programs. The YWCA Metro Vancouver does so much for the community, including helping single mothers with housing, support, employment programs and so much more.

You can donate directly or ‘Shop for a gift’ which means you can choose where your donation goes — the options include donating $50 for a safe home for the holidays for someone in need or $20 for groceries for a family in need. Donate here.

Lower Mainland Christmas Bureru

With less toy drives happening this year this Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau has made virtual donating easy to do. You are still able to drop off toys or make a monetary donation at the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau office (1870 Pandora St, Vancouver/604-253-7191) from now until Christmas! Donate online here.

BC Cancer Foundation

The BC Cancer Foundation is hosting a virtual event on Friday, November 27, 2020. It is a unique event that will rally the community together to break down women’s cancers. It is called Discovery 2020 and presented by BMO and Sentes Automotive. They are asking for donations in lieu of traditional attendance fees. Register here

Original article published by Vancouvermom.ca

Check it out here:

Buy these masks to support two important organizations

Remembrance Day is quickly approaching, and The Royal Canadian Legion is selling masks to support Canadian veterans. You can support our veterans now and get your mask later! These masks have been so popular they are totally sold out. The next mask shipment is scheduled for November 26, 2020.

There are other ways to support the Legion at The Poppy Store including getting a  a poppy bag or poppy scarf.

Order your mask and other poppy related items here at The Poppy Store.

Joey and Vancouver Aquarium

Another kind thing to do it to support Joey, a baby seat otter rescued by Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre this summer and is now living at the Vancouver Aquarium. 

These masks are produced by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC with proceeds going to the Vancouver Aquarium, which has been hugely affected by COVID-19.

They are a limited-edition and the absolute cutest mask around — it features a picture of sweet baby Joey on it. They became available a few days ago and are selling fast. Order yours quickly to get it in time for World Kindness Day, so you can show off your Joey mask.  

Read originally published version on Vancouermom.ca here:

Six creative ways to celebrate Halloween during a pandemic

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Halloween is going to look very different this year for many families. With COVID-19 numbers still high in B.C. many families will be looking for alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating. What are your plans for your kids this year? Check out this link to my latest article on Vancouvermom.ca for six creative ways to celebrate Halloween this year.