Archive for the ‘five things’ Category

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.


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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!

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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!

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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!

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Five Things

Happy Friday!

Don’t forget to enter our Facebook contest to win tickets to our Modern Bump Brunch on November 27th (contest ends today). And don’t forget that our early bird ticket price of $29 is on until November 20th. Get your tickets.

This week’s 5 things features some of our favourite things…and they’re all being given away at our Modern Bump Brunch!

1. Comfortable breastfeeding. I gave birth to my baby one year ago and how I wish I knew about Au Fait Mama, Ta Ta Tents, and Coverboo Couture – Au Fait Mama has gorgeous nursing tops and scarves while Ta Ta Tents and Coverboo Couture are unique nursing covers for you to feed that baby in public, privately.

2. Stylish and practical baby. Let’s be honest, a baby is cute is anything! What I love are products that are cute, but also practical for mom. Peekinz Baby makes high quality baby clothes with a genius “pocket” for you to check baby’s diaper. Bambina Sky makes these gorgeous bandana style bibs and great tag blankets. The bibs look great, and they’re extra long to catch those extra long drools. Apricot Culotte sells used and new European baby clothes that are high quality and a great price. Apricot Culotte is putting together a great “newborn” package for a lucky winner at our brunch on the 27th.

3. Basic resources for mom. I can’t think of a better book than the Survival Guide for Rookie Moms by Vancouver Mamas Erica Wells and Lorraine Regel. And you absolutely need a solid diaper bag for getting around town. Fulton Sales is providing a gorgeous one by the ultimate diaper bag makers, Petunia Pickle Bottom

4. Starting your baby’s education plan. Yes, we start early saving up for our little ones. Children’s Education Funds is giving one lucky mama-to-be a $500 RESP to jump start their savings.

5. Mama needs a break. When you’re ready for a break, go get pampered at the spa. Le Petit Spa is offering a spa treatment to a lucky mama AND giving all brunch attendees a gift certificate for the spa. Le Petit Spa offers mom & baby spa day on Wednesday too, so you can go with or without baby.

And these are just SOME of our prizes. I haven’t even mentioned that we’re introducing AND giving away our top 10 must-have items for newborns with West Coast Kids. West Coast Kids is also offering amazing prizes (like over $1000 in great prizes!) at our Edmonton Brunch this Sunday.

We’re looking forward to giving away all these amazing prizes. There’s too many to list now and and more coming in every day, so we’ll keep updating the list!

To get access to all these prizes, please join us for a great brunch celebrating all our pregnant mamas on November 27th.

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Five things

Five great things to check out:

1. I just love The Laundress – they make beautiful, natural washing detergents and give you the tools and instructions to wash delicates properly with out dry cleaning! You can get their products at Lark in Vancouver. Products include a formula for washing baby clothes. One of the owners had a baby girl 5 months ago and she’s got a couple great top 10 lists. Her top 10 baby registry items, and top 10 items she wants when her daughter turns 1. Both have great ideas!

2. I attended the Mamas in the City event at Saf & Benjamin this past week and it was a great shopping night! One of my new faves: Tawna Hill Baby Products – some lovely and natural baby wash products. After reading this article, good quality products are even more important.

3. I have apparently been living under a rock because I had never heard of Pintrest until this week! Some mamas at a baby shower I hosted professed to spending way too much time on the site. Now I know why – it’s like a virtual, visual cork board of cool things that you can organize by category. Love it! If you’ve been under the rock with me, check it out.

4. It’s neighbourhood toy store day on Nov. 12th, across Canada! A few shops in Vancouver are partying it up, including Granville Island Toy Company. They’ll be celebrating with some discounts and giveaways – call the store for details.

5. The Vancouver Winter Farmers Market is now on by Nat Bailey Stadium, 10am-2pm every Saturday. – I’m a volunterr food juror for the market and just finished sampling many upcoming offerings coming to a market soon. My top fave so far: white truffle potato chips. Amazing.

Have a great week!

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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five things

Happy Friday!
1 | Are you a modern mama thinking about starting your own business? Attend the Mom Inc. Movement Tradeshow this Sunday, November 6th and get inspired. This tradeshow is all about empowering, informing and inspiring women to take the leap into entrepreneurship, to show women what opportunities exist, and what businesses are there to support them on their journey. The tradeshow also features over 15 hours of FREE workshops on everything from social media, to websites, to personal success stories. The first 250 attendees receive swag bags worth $250. And the best part? It’s completely free!
2 | Mums at Le Petit Spa – Every Wednesday, Le Petit Spa is transformed into a mommy & baby friendly spa. Have a man/pedi while cuddling up with your baby (10 months or younger) in a relaxing, breastfeeding friendly environment. Or, do the “Mummy & Me” Package, which includes a mini reflexology session for baby!  More information at Le Petit Spa.
3 | Take advantage of a couple great baby item sales this weekend! Local retailer Parade Organic Clothing Company is having a sample sale at their Gastown location.   Plus, it’s the final few days of  online boutique Toots n’ Tots’ closing sale. Get 40% off before they close up shop and re-open as Maxwell Designs.
4 | Stock-up on kitchen essentials this weekend too. Williams-Sonoma is offering 15% off cooks tools and Cookworks is offering 20% for VIP members
5 | If you missed the baby & family fair last weekend, here are a few of our favourites: Simply Merino for all natural wool sleepers. The UBC Early Development Research Group is always looking for moms and babies to join their studies – a great way to help out a research project while learning something about your baby’s development. And Mothering Transitions is a University of Toronto Study looking for Chinese mothers/expecting mothers.
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Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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