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Doing the school run by bike – not quite yet

Doing the school run by bike – not quite yet

elBodaBoda-side_595

The thing with cycling with small children is they grow.

You think you’ve got the set-up organized, the rear seat works and everyone is happy, then suddenly they are too tall to fit.

I’m still struggling with the journey to school problem. We’re at the bottom end of a significant 12-block hill, with all routes being on roads shared with light traffic. What I would dearly love is a Yuba ElBoda Boda with my son sitting on the back hanging on. While I would love to make the switch to a cargo bike for most of our trips, that’s just not within our budget. As well as nearly impossible to find in Canada it seems.

Which brings me to our current family cycling solution. I bought an Adams Trail-a-Bike off craigslist for $100, and for longer, mostly flat trips than my son can manage on his own bike, it’s a good solution. It’s heavy, and I miss the rear seat for the lack of added weight (other than the 40-pound kindergartener of course). However when he’s pedalling as well, I can feel the propulsion. I like that he’s doing some work too, which takes the edge off his boundless energy when we arrive home and I’m knackered.

Further downside is I can’t fit a rear rack on my bike when the Trail-a-Bike is attached, and so my cargo is limited by what fits in the front basket.

So until my piggy bank is bursting, and then magically replicates a few times, I’m not sure I’ll be doing the school run by bike for a bit. Though, we have been walking up the Big Hill, and that seems to be working for now. The 25-minute journey one way, though, means I spend nearly 2 hours in transit doing the school run. Not ideal when I’m also trying to get some work done.

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Whistler Children’s Festival + Giveaway

Whistler Children’s Festival + Giveaway

Whistler is probably not top of mind for a summer holiday destination, but I can tell you from experience, it should be.

Stunningly beautiful lake beaches, paved bike paths, and a great playground surrounded by pedestrianized paths and many coffee shops. And on the 12th and 13th of July, there’s also the Whistler Children’s Festival.

The Children’s Festival is returning to the Whistler Olympic Plaza, right in the heart of Whistler Village, with performances by Will Stroet, Charlotte Diamond, Fresh Groove, and the Vancouver Circus School to name a few. There’s face-painting, a toddler free play tent, Vancouver Aquarium touch tanks, and balloon creatures. Keep an eye out for giveaways from Lovechild Organics and Yumm Brownies, as well popsicles and fruit leathers.

One of my favourite aspects of this festival are their creative workshops. Register online ahead of time, and your little one can make soap-stone carvings, bear-paw t-shirts, birdhouses, cereal box jet-packs, or learn circus skills. The creative workshops are all under $20 each, and many less than $10 – that’s impressive, as supplies are included.

And because I’d love for you to get a chance to go, enter the giveaway below to win this incredible package:

– 2 nights’ stay (nights of July 11 & 12) at Whistler Hilton hotel
– VIP family entrance pass to Whistler Children’s Festival
– $200 gift certificate to The Keg restaurant in Whistler
– Family trip for 4 on the River of Golden Dreams
– 4 hours of babysitting in Whistler for 1 to 2 kids
– $50 gift certificate to 21 Steps restaurant
– Pizza delivered to the Hilton for one meal

Now that would be fun, wouldn’t it?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Camp stove charging station. Seriously.

Camp stove charging station. Seriously.

biolite campstove biolite campstove with grill

I don’t know if there’s a more Vancouveresque piece of camping kit than the BioLite CampStove System. What? You say it was developed in Brooklyn? Oh well. I think they all should move here, don’t you?

This sleek little unit is a portable wood-burning stove with optional kettle or folding grill, that can also charge your phone.

What I love about this whole project is it’s not just a neato 1% camping gadget, the people behind BioLite also develop the HomeStove, a properly useful stove for the half of the planet that still does most of their cooking over open fires. The HomeStove uses fuel more efficiently, reduces smoke and the related health problems, and allows for charging mobile phones and LED lights. This is critical in countries like Africa where the main access to the Internet services, and in some countries banking, is via mobile phones.

When we buy a CampStove (and we will), we’ll be helping BioLite build and refine HomeStoves.

And if you’re super quick, you can get one of their BaseCamp giant CampStoves through their Kickstarter campaign.

All images courtesy of BioLite.

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Our favourite homemade bubble mixture

Our favourite homemade bubble mixture

blowing bubbles

The internet is full of homemade bubble mixture recipes, and to be honest, they are all very similar. It irks me to pay for this stuff in a store, and I don’t want to be more annoyed when the container gets knocked over (because it always gets knocked over). So we make it at home.

This recipe is the most reliable I’ve found so far, but still requires some sitting time, so make it the night before you’d like to use it.

2 cups warm tap water
2 tbsp Dawn dishwashing soap
2 tbsp glycerin (available in the pharmacy, look for the shelf by the rubbing alcohol)
1 tbsp sugar

Mix gently, and then leave to sit in an open container overnight. Sugar makes the mixture a bit more robust, but also stickier. Our house is always vaguely sticky due to beekeeping activities, but if yours is cleaner, you might want to stick to outside bubble blowing with this one.

 

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Five tips for geocaching with kids

Five tips for geocaching with kids

geocaching with kids

Like many preschoolers, my son seems to have an unusual attachment to the Newtonian laws of motion. Getting him outside can be hard, but then getting him dressed is hard. Once he’s rolling out the door, however, he can’t stop jumping up and down.

This spring we’ve taken to geocaching, or as my son calls it, treasure hunting.

After downloading an app on your phone, you can view the treasures (or caches) around your neighbourhood. Suddenly there’s all these little things hidden everywhere and you had no idea. It’s one of my favourite things about geocaching, revealing that other layer.

Generally, a cache is a small tupperware box with little toys and things in it, as well as a small pad for writing your name and the date on it. Some caches are tiny and only have the logbook, or a tightly rolled piece of paper to record your name.

Here are some things we’ve found that makes going on a geocache treasure hunt a bit easier:

1. Bring something to trade. Caching etiquette is to take something and leave something of equal or greater value behind – so best to have a stash of dollar store cars, marbles, and whatnot with you. Also bring a pen or a pencil for writing your entry in a nanocache, as they don’t usually have anything in there but the log sheet.

2. Research before you go. Caches can take awhile to find, as they’re ingeniously hidden. Before we head out as a family, we (meaning the parents, often the night before) research the caches we’re going to look for, which includes reading all the hints, and checking all the photos. This isn’t strictly the way you’re supposed to do it – but when you’ve got small people jumping up and down next to you, 20 minutes of nuanced searching is not really going to happen. Sometimes, too, you’re required to climb to a less-than-safe spot, or duck under fences, not particularly things I want to encourage in a 4-and-a-half year old. Obviously, you will know best what your kids are up for, and tailor this one to their ages.

3. Have a talk about failure. A conversation about the possibility of not finding any treasure is well worth having before you leave. Nothing like a meltdown in the middle of a busy area because there’s nothing there. That brings us to the next tip…

4. Pick an area with a few caches close together. If your first attempt doesn’t yield any treasure, having a back-up (or two) close by makes success more likely. And your smaller treasure hunting mates more keen on the outing the next time.

5. Just buy the app. There’s a website you can search, but the official $10 app is the best bet. Easy to use, clear and map-enabled, the app helps you keep track of caches you’ve already found. It may seem steep, but think about paying for a movie for the family, or a visit to a museum.

Do you look for geocaches with kids? What are your tips?

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