Shopping with Ford's Active Park Assist

Pinch me because I refuse to admit that the holiday season is amongst us!  A couple weeks ago, I had the honour of partnering up with Ford again to drive their Explorer for the week while navigating the busy Black Friday crowds searching for their holiday bargains.  I remember telling myself that I had to get out and do the craziness in person - not only because I live for chaos, but because I just HAD to try out Ford's Active Park Assist feature.

What Is Active Park Assist?

Active Park Assist is basically an assistant for parallel parking.  As a seasoned driver, I wasn't sure how I felt about the feature at first and it felt a little weird letting a computer do the driving for me.  My first attempt went smoothly until the car was in the process of straightening itself out.  My natural reaction was to reach for the steering wheel to position the SUV in place, but my Active Park Assist(ant) wanted nothing to do with that!  You see, as soon as you touch the steering wheel, it disables Active Park Assist and you're basically on your own again and have to park it "old school".

I love the idea of using Active Park Assist for the purpose of maneuvering the Explorer into cramped parking spots - especially during the holiday season when parking is a premium!  It takes away the stress of the trip to the mall with two young kids knowing that my trusty assistant is looking out for me and my car, haha!  Also, I normally drive a standard sized sedan, so having the piece of mind that I could use this feature with the Explorer if I need to squeeze it into a tight spot.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to capture a video of myself using Active Park Assist (it was a busy week!), but feel free to watch the Ford video below for an inside look at how you can use Active Park Assist to back into a parking spot!

Have you tried Ford's Active Park Assist feature?  I'd love to know what you think about it in the comments below!

xo Kristina


Back to School

Back to school.

It was almost as if it wasn't really happening.  I've been pushing this day to the back of my mind for over a year now - not only because my youngest is entering Kindergarten, but because it's been a loooonnnng ride getting there.

To make a long story short, the past year has been riddled with anxiety for me just thinking about Zoë going to the big school.  I know I'm in the same boat as most parents with kids going to Kindergarten, but this was a first for me.  With Jadon, I was like "bye, see ya" (and that's pretty much how the drop-off went with him this morning LOL).  With Zoë, it was "will she have support?", "how will she be able to keep up with her classmates?" and "what will her mode of transportation be when the entire class ventures to the local park?".

I've spent close to a year gathering Zoë's doctors' and therapists' reports, and submitting them to her school.  Out of pure luck, our Vice Principal is also our learning assistance coordinator and very well versed with cases of muscular dystrophy.  When she told me this, it was as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could really concentrate on the other little things of getting a child prepared for their first big day.  Of course, the preparation would still be different from my experience when Jadon was entering Kindergarten, but at least I had that piece of mind that Zoë was going to have the support she requires and the understanding that I so desperately hoped for.

I could go on and on about the rollercoaster of emotions that's plagued me in the past year, but that can wait until a later post.  Let's get right into the part where Zoë is Zoë and she's been waiting over two years to join her big bro and his friends at the big school!

With the help of Sport Chek, the kids were absolutely spoiled with back-to-school gear for their first day (insert raised hand emojis):

Honestly, Sport Chek has always been my go-to, one-stop shop for all things sports, fitness, back-to-school, Father's Day... you name it!  As a working mom, it's extremely convenient for me to stop at one store (especially when I have that long ride home ahead of me!) and be able to grab whatever the kids need for back-to-school shopping gear, as well as pick up anything that hubby and I may need.

A huge thanks to my Sport Chek fam for spoiling me AND the kids with back-to-school gear!  Jadon can't get enough of his never-ending Under Amour backpack - that thing is like a bottomless pit and perfect for our newly-minted grade three-er!


Disclosure:  All opinions in this review remain my own and do not reflect the opinions or views of Sport Chek and/or their affiliates.  We received a form of compensation from Sport Chek in order to complete this review. 



As the kids grow older and our house becomes more saturated with stuff, I've come to the conclusion that experiences are far more valuable than material items.  The anxiety that plagues me on a daily basis when I get home after a long day of work and see the overwhelming sea of toys and junk the kids have collected over the years is almost unbearable.  I'm so tired, I don't even bother with it.  And then by the end of the week, it's OUT. OF. CONTROL.

And repeat.

Okay, so this post may sound like it's leading into a 'how to organize your life' post or a 'DIY toy storage' post but, no, it's none of the above.  This post is all about experiences - one that we took our kids to last weekend that has been a yearly tradition dating as far back as I can remember!

Whenever our kids are given the chance to experience something, I've found that the need for conversation opens up and they end up learning (and retaining!) from their experience and using those tools towards their daily realities.  It also makes for some very interesting morning commute debates!

Last weekend, we had the chance to take Jadon and Zoë to the first Honda Celebration of Light fireworks show of the year and watch it in style from the amazing (and very convenient) YVR Observation Deck.  Compared to last year where we arrived early and were able to take in the pre-firework festivities, this year we were running late due to some home renovation work.  Thankfully for us, it didn't really matter what time we got to the beach - our seats were reserved!  The only drawback was that it was dusk and I missed out on the natural light (photo wise).  Ah, the life of a blogger!

While we didn't get any blog worthy photos of ourselves on the YVR Observation Deck this year, we definitely had the time of our lives (hopefully you were able to catch the action on my Instastories - @swankmama!).  The kids slept SO good that night and recounted their experience multiple times the following day and during our Monday morning drive in the city.  There's nothing like a little bit of firework magic to spark that imagination!

On your way to the fireworks tomorrow?  There's still some 'save your spot' options to watch the show in style!


Disclosure:  The opinions and views in this post are my own and does not reflect that of Honda Celebration of Light or the YVR Observation Deck and/or their affiliates.  We received complimentary tickets to the YVR Observation Deck in exchange for a review post.


Celebration of Lights from the YVR Observation Deck

Just when you thought summer couldn't get any better, Vancouver's much-loved yearly tradition is just around the corner!  I have many memories of watching the Celebration of Light over the years - from when I was a young child making my way through the crowds with my parents to my teenage years when I made the trek downtown via the SkyTrain with my first cup of spiked Slurpee from 7-Eleven (don't tell me you've never tried it!) to enjoying the show with my own kids and creating new memories of the magical "fire in the sky" show.

Last year we had the time of our lives of watching the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks show from the (very) family-friendly YVR Observation Deck:

I can't rave enough about how amazing our experience was watching the show from the YVR Observation Deck and, next weekend, we get to do it all over again!  Everything about it was geared towards families and people who want to watch the fireworks up close and personal, but also have their personal space.  Here are some of the amenities you have to look forward to when you snag your exclusive tickets to the observation deck:

  • reserved seating (perfect if you have younger kids or are running late!)
  • access to a cash bar and food service (yaassssss!!)
  • dedicated washroom facilities
  • all-ages licensed area, with an alcohol-free zone upon request (we definitely won't be requesting that, haha!)
  • background music and fireworks soundtrack broadcast during the show
  • wheelchair accessible
Tickets are $49 plus applicable fees and are available for purchase via TicketLeader for the July 29th, August 2nd and August 5th shows.  

Hope to see you there!



Roughin' It

You guys!!  I just did something that I haven't done since I was 18, maybe 19.


Or maybe it was more like GLAMPING, but that's okay.  At first when I was asked by my good friend and her hubby if I wanted to go camping with them, my first reaction was nope.  There was no way I was going to spend my summer with the very bugs I despised, in the woods completely cut off from the world and the possibility of (gasp!) no showers.

Welcome to #firstworldproblems.

In the end, it didn't take long for them to convince me that it would be an amazing experience for my kids, and then my kids chimed in, "Let's go, let's go!" and that was the end of that.  We were going camping!

All I had to do was sit back and wait of the start of summer.  My friends were taking care of everything - booking the campsite, getting the food and drinks, and making sure the kids would be entertained for four days.  Jadon had been excitedly talking about our camping trip for the most part of June (his teacher said that's all he talked about for the last two weeks of school) and Zoë just couldn't wait to sleep in a tent.

Okay, so we did have a few things that we needed to round up for our camping trip.  First things first, I secured an amazing ride from Ford Canada (we loved our experience last year!) - a Ford Edge Titanium.  It has all the bells and whistles that a busy parent, like myself, needs with a growing family.  There's enough room in the trunk for hockey gear, camping gear, everyday gear and everything gear, as well as many safety features that give this busy mama a piece of mind.

Last year I raved about the Intelligent Access key fob - as long as the key is in your pocket or purse and you're within a couple feet from the car, the door unlocks by itself (I repeat, BY ITSELF!!), leaving you with two hands to wrangle your active toddler or the 500 bags of groceries.  The MyKey® Safety System is also a great feature for those of you with older kids that are just learning how to drive and allows for owners to restrict certain features to promote better driving habits.

For those of you that have travelled the Sea to Sky Highway, you probably know that the stretch of road from Vancouver to Squamish (and Whistler) is full of twists and turns.  This is where the Driver Assist features come into play, including Enhanced Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control (I didn't have a chance to try this because, buttons, but perhaps next time), Lane-Keeping System (the best!), Adaptive Steering (also the best!) and Intelligent All-Wheel Drive.  Just to feel these features being activated while driving the Sea to Sky gave me the extra piece of mind that my family would be safe and sound should anything happen.

Back to camping prep.  While we did have everything planned for us, I did end up spending the day before searching for camping gear over the course of 7-8 hours (a huge thanks to my bro who tagged along and helped entertain the kids while I wandered aimlessly from store to store LOL).  I just wanted to make sure I didn't forget anything.  Must be that Type A personality or something.  I swear I'm half Type A and half Type B (yes, I totally just Googled it).

Fast forward to the actual days we were camping and I felt like I was in a dream.  A good one.  I had a few chefs on one side and a few babysitters on the other.  The beers were flowing and once the kids went to bed, so did the shots.  We roasted marshmallows nightly, had gourmet meals (and even maybe a BBQ fire LOL), attempted a failed beach day (even at 35 degrees Celsius, the wind made it seem more like 20 degrees), braved the cold showers and fought off an endless army of mosquitoes.

And repeat.

And repeat.

This was pretty much my life for the next four days and I was loving it.  I was relaxed with no care in the world (Type B), but was also intent on making sure the kids went to bed (sort of) on time (Type A).



kristina xo

Photo credit (partial):  Modern Fort