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This week’s 5 things Friday is a guest post from fellow mama Isa Szeto.

I first met Isa and her adorable son at a mommy/toddler group at the Pacific Spirit Health Office. Like many of us, she’s a working mama trying to fit everything in. Fitness is very important to her and she graciously offered to write about the best places she’s found to workout with childcare available. I’ve also added a couple options after her write-up to give you an even 5 options.

Hot (and Sweaty) Mama
by Isa Szeto

Plenty of options for new Moms to get their sweat on and get fit again

As a new Mom of a 15 month old boy, one of the biggest changes in my routine was the challenge of how to stay as active as I was before I had a child.  The sponteneity that I had before (like taking off for an afternoon bike ride with friends or a run in the rain) suddenly was not possible with a newborn if my husband was at work or unavailable due to travel.  But after doing some research, I discovered there are lots of great options in Vancouver for new Moms to keep fit.

While some Moms keep fit while walking with their babies in strollers or doing fitness classes together with their babies, I sought facilities that had quality childminding, so that I could have a hard workout and a precious one or two hours of “me” time, while my toddler was safe and enjoying some new toys and playmates and change of scenery from home.

So here are some fitness places in Vancouver that have childminding onsite.  A healthy, reduced-stress Mom is a happy Mom!  (Please note, you must stay in each facility for the childminding staff to reach you in case of emergency.  Rarely happens but just in case! )

Richmond Oval
My personal favourite place to work out, maybe because Apolo Ohno skated there during the 2010 Winter Olympics!  Their fitness centre is 23,000 sq. ft. of the world’s best strength and cardio equipment. More than 50 fitness classes every week to choose from, so you can do a hard spin class, yoga, interval training, guided weight lifting, on top of using their indoor 2 km running track, free weights, climbing wall or hitting the stairmaster and watching TV from their 200 channels.  Plus there are basketball and volleyball courts and an ice rink. Large spacious change rooms with the “tall” lockers (but you can use the stubby “half” height lockers, too) with no need for coins to lock them up.  Free covered parking for members.  (This means a lot when it’s pouring outside and you’re struggling with a infant/toddler and all his or her stuff.)

The childminding area has one wall of windows so there is plenty of natural light, plus it feels bigger than it is.  A large variety of toys plus a climbing area in one corner, plus a crafts table and pint-sized toilet facilities for the little ones.  The staff in childminding are very professional and caring.

The childminding hours are the best – most morning and evenings so you’ve got the flexibility to hit up the gym when it suits your busy schedule!

Childminding hours:
Monday – Friday: 9AM – 1PM
Monday – Thursday: 5PM – 8PM
Saturday: 9AM – 12PM

Cost: $4/hour
Other details: $2 for 1/2 hour; 10 hour and 100 hour punch cards with reduced rates available at Guest Services

More info:

Dunbar Community Center
Gym equipment, drop-in fitness classes and drop-in spin classes await you.  Or you can skip the workout and just enjoy some sauna and whirlpool time and enjoy a hour or two of relaxation. Woman, you deserve it!

Large sauna: You could invite 10 of your BFF’s and you’d still have room to spare in their large sauna.  More than likely, though, you’ll have the entire sauna all to yourself to enjoy the heat and quiet time.
Whirlpool: Hot bubbling action to release the tension away.

The childminding area has plenty of toys, plus exersaucers for pre-mobile babies.

Childminding hours:
Monday – Friday: 8:45AM – 12PM

Cost: $6/hour
Other details: 10 hour punch cards with reduced rates available at the front desk

More info:

Hillcrest Centre

Hillcrest Centre was the Olympic Curling venue during the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Following The 2010 Games, the facility was converted to a legacy facility that currently houses a new community centre, ice rink, aquatic centre, preschool, library and curling rink.

Inside you’ll find a wide range of activities for health and fitness: a state-of-the-art 3,500 sq. ft. fitness centre, drop-in spin classes, leisure pool with water toys, sprays, jets, water cannons and lazy river, an outdoor pool open in the summer with sprays and bubble jets, a 70 person hot tub, plus Family and Adult change rooms, including 4 accessible showers, 10 accessible toilets, 2 accessible change cubicles, 8 universal shower cubicles.

Childminding hours:
Monday – Friday 9AM – 11AM

Cost: $7.50/2 hours

Other details: Maximum 2 infants and 8 kids at one time. First come first served

More info:


Thank you Isa for doing the research for all us mamas! The childminding hours and background are so useful so we can perfectly plan our workouts between naps, snacks, etc.

And, as mentioned, a couple more options if you want baby with you:

Fit 4 Two Classes, available around the Lower Mainland. These are primarily for moms with pre-mobile babies. The instructors are excellent and it’s a nice way to meet other mamas in your neighborhood.

Barefit and Pregnant Classes on W. Broadway @ Alma – join Susie for a workout while your kids of all ages play amongst the exercising mamas. If your little one is a bit fussy during your workout, Susie is right there to pick them up and comfort them, giving you a bit of relief while she puts you through the paces.

And, Modern Mama’s next Essential Series Topic is on Post-Natal Fitness and getting your body back, inside and out. Melanie Osmack from Fit 4 Two and Kim Vopni from Fitness Doula will be on hand to talk fitness strategies, core strength, and answer all your questions. Plus, they’re bringing some excellent prizes with them! REGISTER.

Happy New Year everyone!

We’ve been busy planning a diverse range of events for all you modern mamas. Here are details on our January and early February upcoming events. We also have spa, beauty, and additional essential series events in the works – stay tuned for details!

Mama Needs a Babysitter – January 18th, 7-9pm, Nesting Kids Junior Home Store, 2126 W 41st Ave.

We have part-time and occassional sitters from the West-side that are ready to meet you! Join us for an evening to come mix and mingle with other moms and babysitters from Vancouver’s West side. We provide wine and sweets, all the sitter’s information and encourage everyone to meet & chat in a casual environment.  Plus?  Shopping!  Nesting Kids is offering an exclusive shopping discount for the evening as well.  All sitters are over 17 years of age, can provide their own transportation (public transit included) and have experience.

Cost:  $40 ($35 members). Dads are welcome too. Nanny service is not available for this event, but we understand you’re trying to find a sitter, so your brood is still welcome to tag along!


Essential Series: Post-Natal Fitness and Pelvic Floor Wellness – January 24, 10am-11:30am, Cactus Club, 1530 W. Broadway (near Granville)

Our Essential Series is a collection of breakfast events for new moms. We cover many topics, all with expert speakers to provide the most up-to-date and relevant content for moms. Each event will be held with a light breakfast and nannies are available so that you can bring toddler along and still enjoy your morning for mama.

A chance to meet and mingle with some other mamas, get out of the house for the morning and learn something new!

This event is on post-natal fitness and core strength. Melanie Hall from Fit 4 Two and Kim Vopni from Fitness Doula will speak about how your body changes post-pregnancy and how you can safely regain your core strength and get your body back.

Mamas will be treated to refreshments and a light breakfast from the Cactus Club kitchen. The restaurant is closed in the mornings, but they’re opening their doors just for us!

Cost: $35 ($30 for members)


Mini-Mixer – Playgroup Formation Event – January 26, 10am-12pm, Kerrisdale Community Centre (West Blvd & 42nd Ave W. Vancouver), Room 221

Looking to find that special group of moms to get together with regularly?  Did you just move into a new community? Maybe you would like to meet other mature moms?  Perhaps you’re now a mom of two or three?

Whatever your circumstance, the goal of the Mini-Mixer is to introduce you to a playgroup of your very own and get you started on regular get togethers!

At this event, we create groups for you, set up some ice-breakers to help everyone get comfortable, help you determine the best day and time for your playgroup to continue to meet up, create suggestions and direction to keep the group going and then send you off on your own!

You’ll receive the Modern Mama Guide to your Playgroup booklet, contact information for the mamas in your group and fun social morning out!

Bonus fun:  we’ll have a sample music & movement class with Budding Beethovens, so be sure to bring your babe to join in the fun!  Budding Beethovens music classes is for 0-5yr olds, and can help them improve in math, science, language & social skills too!

Cost: $15 ($10 for members)


Infant & Child CPR -February 8, 10am-12pm, Vancouver Unitarian Church, 949 W. 49th Ave (@Oak), Vancouver .

Do you know what to do if your infant or child is choking? Not breathing? Maybe you have your First Aid certification from years ago and need a refresher? Knowing the basics in an emergency can save a life.

This 90 minute workshop is led by an instructor from First Aid Hero. Our instructor will cover infant (0-12mths) and child CPR, choking and prevention. First Aid Hero is a Red Cross certified partner.

Childcare room with Modern Mama nannies for up to two children up to age 6 ($10). Infants are welcome to stay with Mom during the workshop at no cost if you prefer.

Cost: $45 ($35 for members) or $60 for a couple.


When my son turned 6-months old I became obsessed with making sure he enjoyed eating all types of food. While we’ve had our ups and downs (we just went through the “throwing food when I don’t want it” stage), little Tommy is a pretty good eater so far. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

Here are the top 5 resources and tools I continue to use:

1. Weelicious.com! – I just LOVE this site. It is so useful and full of great ideas for baby food, toddler food, and family food. When I’m in a rut I go to this site for inspiration. Weelicious is about wholesome food that is still delicious. They make all their everyday recipes with no (or little) refined sugar and nothing artificial. In my fridge right now is the apple walnut puree (I stir it into oatmeal and yogurt for me too!) and the edamame hummus. I also love the banana wheat germ muffins and the pumpkin apple muffins. The recipes are always easy and not time consuming.

2. Baby Led Weaning – A friend introduced me to this “BLW” method of eating solids. I used it for Tommy and it’s been amazing to see how well a 6 or 7-month old can eat if you try it out! The premise is that babies were fed purees when it was recommended they start solids at 4 months. Now the general recommendation is 6-months and at this age babies don’t necessarily need purees. Baby Led Weaning is about giving your baby finger food options from the beginning and letting them feed themselves. The pros: your baby feeds themselves and you can eat with them, not after them. The cons: be prepared for a mess and some food waste.

3. The Baby’s Table and Start Fresh!: Two books I love and refer to often. The Baby’s Table is excellent as it’s updated to reflect the latest Canadian baby feeding recommendations, and there are some great recipes in there. Start Fresh! is by one of my favourite chefs, Tyler Florence. Some of his flavour combos are unique and so good. He has an avocado, banana, and pineapple pudding that could be dessert for me. Many of his recipes are also online.

4. Baby Bjorn bibs  and Silpats as placemats – I am all about bibs with a pocket to catch the food, especially if you are doing BLW. These bibs are my go-tos as they are washable and easy to put on. I had trouble finding a good placemat that would stay put and not distract Tommy from eating. I returned the first set of placemats I bought because they were so colourful he just attacked them! My husband suggested using my silicone baking mat and it was a great idea. It’s food safe, stays put, and I don’t mind buying extras as I know I can use them for baking for years to come.

5. Zoli products and Wean Green storage containers – For on the go meals and food storage, I get regular use out of my Zoli Snack Stacker, and wean green glass storage containers. The Zoli snack stacker lets me compactly bring multiple food items when we go out for a meal. You can get Zoli products at Hip Baby, Jack & Lola and Saf & Benjamin. The wean green containers are the perfect size for little snacks or purees. You can freeze them, heat them, travel with them, stack them…you get the idea. And they’re a Canadian company too!

Modern Mama will be hosting an Essential Series topic on Nutrition in 2012. Stay tuned for details!

As a follow-up to last week’s Christmas Shopping post, here are some more great & easy ideas to get your Christmas Shopping done in a snap! Get most of your shopping done earlier so you can get everything shipped to you, thereby skipping the need for line-ups, and all the last-minute mayhem that awaits! As a busy mom, this is my ideal method of shopping. I would not push it past December 15th to ensure everything arrives in time.

5 more great & easy Christmas ideas:

1. A box of gorgeous confections from Mink Chocolates. There’s giving chocolate and there’s giving chocolate. Mink is one of the best and they are a local company in downtown Vancouver. But you can also order online for shipping worldwide! I first discovered Mink via a friend, who gifted me an adorable Welcome Newborn Gift Box (complete with a onesie saying “If I’m crying, feed the nearest adult chocolate!”) when my son was born. Mink makes the most amazing chocolate bars with a great array of flavors and names. And be sure to peruse their gorgeous and colorful bonbons.

2. Spa gift certificates. You can give me a gift certficiate to a spa for $10 and I’ll love it. You know why? Because I’ll just HAVE to book an appointment to the spa as I have a gift certificate to use :-). And my favourite spas let you order gift certificates online or will mail them straight to you. Breathe Spa is home to the BEST facials and body scrub treatments in town. Truly. Go and you won’t regret it. Le Petit Spa offers excellent treatments and pedicures in a relaxing environment. They also have the best chocolate and cookie treats, amazing lavender tea, and wonderful staff. It makes for a perfect escape. Bloom Essentials is famous for their amazing Picasso Pedicures, painting your toes with the most beautiful designs. I have a Christmas holly painted on my red toes right now, courtesy of Bloom.

3. “Hoity Toity” Tea – The Urban Tea Merchant is home to some seriously amazing and high-end tea from France. The leaves are of the highest quality and taste and come in beautifully packaged tins. A special gift for any connoisseur of tea. Or, also consider the coveted Empress Tea Blend.  You can only have it high tea at the famous Empress Hotel in Victoria…or from the Fairmont Hotel Store online. You need to order a minimum of 3 boxes, but they make great little hostess gifts through the holiday season.

4. Theatre Tickets – Consider buying tickets to a local show – throwing in the babysitting makes it an event better gift! The Arts Club and Vancouver Playhouse both have a great selection of shows to choose from and it makes for a great night on the town for your gift recipient. Broadway show Jersey Boys is also coming to Vancouver in 2012 for the first time.

5. Museum/Activity Memberships – Gifting a year-long membership to a place like the Vancouver Aquarium or Science World makes for a gift that keeps giving and can appeal to a wide range of ages. My 30+ friend has a membership to the Aquarium and goes all the time  – it’s the place takes his nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Good luck with the last minute shopping!

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? If not, don’t fret. Here are our top tips and five places to get Christmas shopping done in a snap.

General rules for great gifts, easy:

  •  Make a list in advance. Write down all the people you want to buy a gift for, a budget per gift, and any ideas you have for them. If you know what you want you’ll spend less time wandering from store to store looking for “inspiration.”
  • Use the Internet. I regularly think of fun, random ideas for my husband and google them. In most cases, somebody sells my idea and I can order it online and get it shipped right to my door.
  • Edible gifts are always good. If I’m really stuck on ideas, I usually get something edible. Really, who doesn’t like a box of nice chocolates, cookies, or a box of tea? Just make sure you go somewhere special. No to Pot of Gold Chocolates, yes to Thomas Haas Chocolates, for example.
  • Shop in the morning or evening. Christmas crowds are building, but avoid the them by  shoping when there is less traffic. Go when stores first open in the morning, or later in the evening before they close (7:30pm is good for malls). Shopping quickly is difficult when there’s a 30 min. line-up to pay.
  • Ask for help. If you go to the right store (in my mind, local, small businesses), ask for ideas from the storekeepers. If you’re at a small business you’re often talking to the owner of the store, who is likely an expert in whatever they sell.
  • If you are really desperate – gift cards. If you find yourself on Christmas Eve with no gifts, the world of gift cards can be your savior. They’re not creative, but people like ’em. I like getting itunes gift cards as it opens up the options for what somebody can buy. 7-11 (open all the time!) now carries a great selection of gift cards.


But, please do some shopping in advance! Here are our five picks for great, all around great gift finds:

1. Chapters/Indigo, Kidsbooks, Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks – I love buying books for people. They are thoughtful gifts while still being easy to order, wrap, and give. Chapters/Indigo is of course a great source for all books (plus baby gifts, home decor, and cute things) and you can get a big chunk of your shopping list done on their website. However, if you have time, check out the local specialty bookstores. Kidsbooks on Broadway has an amazing selection of books and toys with a helpful staff. Similarly, Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks is a food lover’s heaven, stocked with every specialty cookbook imaginable.

2. Dilly Dally Toys – While there are many excellent toy stores in town, Dilly Dally on Commercial Drive is the one I love visiting over and over. It’s stocked high with amazing wooden toys for all ages. Even their business cards are designed for play! You can get gifts for all the kids (and a few adults) on your list here. The only drawback is that Dilly Dally does not have an online store. If you’re looking to shop online, I’ve been loving the wood toys at Pebble Baby lately.

3. The Regional Assembly of Text – If you’re looking for some beautiful, thoughtful gifts that won’t break the bank, check out this local stationary and gift store on Main St. The Regional Assembly of Text makes their gorgeous stationary and cards in Vancouver and celebrates the institution of letter writing and all things text-based. They also have a button-making station, and extensive stamp selection, and unique prints for tea towels, t-shirts, and onesies. There’s even a teeny kids section. Again, you’ll get multiple gifts in one stop at this charming store.

4. Williams-Sonoma – While this is a U.S. Chain (and I do love and recommend local shops Ming Wo and Cookworks), the thing about Williams-Sonoma is just how many silly things they have. Star Wars shaped cookie cutters and cake pans. 12 kinds of hot chocolate. Strange but kitschy kitchen gadgets. If you want to go for something you know your gift recipient would never buy, you’ll get some fun ideas here.

5. Front & Company – For the hipsters on your list, Front & Company on Main St. is a good stop. In addition to their affordable selection of new and consignment clothing, they have lots of accessories, topical books, and silly gifts (ie. bacon car freshener). Plus in addition to their main store, they’ve also got separate store fronts (right next door) for baby products, home decor, and gift items.

Enjoy shopping, have fun with it, and please do try and be done a little early. The best part of Christmas is wrapping the gifts (while drinking egg nog!), giving gifts, and celebrating the season. Not stressing about the shopping!

Time to meet our  Modern Bump Brunch sponsor and photographer, Anita Alberto from Portraits by Anita.

Anita will have a photo booth set-up at the event to snap some excellent maternity photos for all you mamas-to-be. A great memory to have of this special time in your life.

Anita has been a professional photographer for 10 years and started her business to channel her passion for people and passion for photography. Her favourite part of running her own business? “Meeting new people and making people happy. Since I’ve now been in business for 10 years, it’s been a blessing to photograph couples weddings, then their pregnancy and their children. My clients have become friends whom I care deeply about.”

Her overall business goal is simple – to make people happy. Anita wants to capture all the special people and moments in her clients’  lives and to provide them with quality photography and great customer service.

Anita’s photography services include pregnancy, newborn, family, headshots, events, boudoir and Top Model Parties. View her on line portfolio here: http://www.portraitsbyanita.com

Anita will see you at her photo booth on Sunday at our Modern Bump Brunch – get your best pose ready!

Modern Bump Brunch tickets are just $29 until the end of today! $39 regular price. Join us for a photo book, speakers, and loads of awesome prizes. And, don’t forget to enter our current facebook contest for free tickets.