zoe's special day + a giveaway!

You know those weekends that feel so fulfilling and successful (is that the right word?) that when you look back at it, you actually feel like you got something done?  This was one of those weekends.

Yes, it helped that it was a long weekend and, yes, it also helped that it was a special one for our family.   I almost can't believe I'm saying this, but Zoe just turned four.  FOUR!!  It just feels weird saying that since she's my baby, and now I look at her and she's this little person.  My mind is just blown.

Since we celebrated Zoe's birthday a couple weeks ago at a joint party with her BFF, we decided to spend her actual birthday at the Vancouver Aquarium with the entire family.  The night before, Jadon couldn't contain his excitement about his baby sister's special day and even helped me bake her birthday cake (all caught on Snapchat: kristina.cross).

The best part about our visits to the aquarium is seeing the magic of discovery through my kids' eyes. Everything is so new and amazing to them, and I just love that.  Speaking of new, the recent upgrades to the aquarium will have visitors of all ages in awe!

If you haven't been to the Vancouver Aquarium lately, you have to go!  There is so much to discover, see and learn - from the new Discover Rays exhibit (which, unfortunately, we ran out of time and weren't able to see) to the ever-popular dolphin shows to the 4D movie feature.  I promise the locals that the new aquarium is nothing like you remember it to be and I promise tourists will not be disappointed.

When it's time to finally relax (and while you're waiting for the 4D movie to start), I would highly recommend visiting the "Animal Rescue Centre" with your kids.  It's basically an enclosed play/educational area for kids to freely roam, and for adults to sit down and take a break.  Zoe had a blast rescuing her animal friends, while Jadon ran wild:

celebrating 60 years

The Vancouver Aquarium is celebrating it's 60th anniversary this June!  They've launched a photo contest to celebrate this milestone and encourage visitors to post their favourite Vancouver Aquarium memory to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #vanaqua60.  Alternatively, entrants can upload their photos directly to their contest page.

{win it!}

Want to win your way in and see the new Discover Rays exhibit for yourself?  The Vancouver Aquarium is giving one of our lucky readers a chance to win a #DiscoverRays prize pack including two tickets to check out the exhibit!  To enter, please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is open to BC residents only and ends on Monday, May 30, 2016 at 9pm PST.


Spring Training is in Session!

Over the past couple months, Vancouver has been blessed with unbelievably gorgeous (and warm!) weather.  With the sun shining and summer just around the corner, it couldn't be a more perfect time to focus on my Spring training.

Over the last six years, life happened and I've been constantly struggling with how to include an exercise routine in my everyday life.  We grew to a family of five, I started a business and it seemed like there was less and less time to concentrate on anything remotely personal.  And as each year passed by, it seemed like I was setting unrealistic fitness goals with no concrete plans to reach them.

This year, I'm committing to a healthier self.  I've been more mindful of what I'm putting in my body (aside from falling off the wagon last night - oops!) and more motivated to simply recharge.  That means toning my muscles and kickstarting my cardio exercises with the help of Sport Chek.  With all of my new Spring training gear, I have no excuse but to get outside and get fit!

From my experience, most of my fitness gear fits true to size.  I've been a pretty loyal Nike fan over the years, but I'm loving my new Under Armour Run Qualifier Jacket.  It's made of a lightweight, wind and water resistant material that's perfect for those wet and rainy Spring days.  And have you seen my new Nike Free FlyKnit kicks? They couldn't be more perfect - also lightweight with a breathable construction, it has gold metallic accents that still have me drooling over its beauty.  I mean, gold looks good on anything, am I right?!


MicrosoftStore.ca March Break Scavenger Hunt

Although Jadon was back at school this week after two weeks of Spring Break, that didn't stop us from participating in the MicrosoftStore.ca March Break Scavenger Hunt!

We've partnered up with MicrosoftStore.ca to bring the magic of the Surface 3 into our home and along with us on our Spring Break adventures.  I had so much fun learning about the features of the Surface 3 that I had no idea about before we took on this challenge (truth: I didn't really know what the Surface 3 was!!).  Thankfully, we were loaned a Surface 3 device to complete the March Break Scavenger hunt and, I won't lie, it's a keeper!

Here are a few things you can expect from the Surface 3:

  1. Convenience:  Since you can use it as a tablet or laptop, the Surface 3 is the perfect device for a student, working professional or anyone on-the-go!  
  2. Style:  With its 10.8-inch full HD display and sleek design, it'll be the centre of attention while you work at the coffee shop.
  3. Personalization:  Accessorize your Surface 3 with an optional backlit keyboard (sold separately), which comes in a variety of colours to suit your style.
  4. Features:  The Surface 3 comes with a full-size USB 3.0 port and an integrated kickstand (one of my favourite features!), and has the ability to run desktop software with a fast Intel processor.  It also features a 5MP front-facing camera and 8MP autofocus rear-facing camera.
  5. Creativity:  The Surface Pen is AMAZING!  It's the absolute perfect babysitter for the kids - they can spend hours drawing and creating individualized artwork on OneNote.
Part of our challenge was to have the kids draw their favourite activity from Spring Break:

Loving the Surface 3 so far?  From now until March 27th, you can save up to $170 on your Surface 3 purchase at MicrosoftStore.ca.  

There's also some more amazing March Break deals happening at MicrosoftStore.ca, which starts today until March 29th, and includes sales on the Surface Pro 4 and X Box One!

Follow #MicrosoftMarchBreak for more details on our MicrosoftStore.ca March Break Scavenger Hunt challenge!


Getting Fit with Sport Chek

Every year I make a promise to myself to be more active and every year I feel like I could always do more.  Thankfully, I recently partnered up with Sport Chek to get my butt into gear (literally!).  They set me up with a Fitbit Charge, workout gear and a new pair of Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 running shoes, and it was exactly what I needed to start focusing on my fitness again.

Over the past couple weeks, I've been tracking my daily fitness activities with my new Fitbit Charge and it's addicting!  Believe it or not, I had no idea what a Fitbit was before this and it's almost hard to imagine life without one anymore, ha!  Not only does it track how many steps you've taken in a day, but also the calories you've burned, how many stories climbed, the distance you've travelled (walking distance, of course) and more.  Plus, I've been creating daily challenges with my fellow Fitbit-ers, which is definitely keeping me motivated.

{Win It!}

Sport Chek is generously offering one of our Canadian readers a chance to win a $100 gift card!  To enter, please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only and ends on Monday, February 22, 2016 at 9pm PST.


Treat Your Hair to Garnier Whole Blends

As parents to three children of various ages, there's not a day that goes by where we don't want what's best for our family - whether it be the food we serve to the clothes we buy, or just simply how we choose to live our everyday lives.  The same goes for the beauty products that we choose to use on our children.  Thankfully, Garnier has come out with a new line of hair care products aptly named Whole Blends, which is suitable for the entire family (excluding babies) including children that are old enough to use regular shampoos and conditioners. 

I love that Garnier Whole Blends products are Paraben Free, and contain Natural Extracts and gentle sulfates. Each blend focuses on a unique hair action too. Lately, my hair has been suffering from a dry spell, thanks to my love affair with my curling wand.  After using Whole Blends Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner infused with avocado oil and shea butter, my hair felt smoother and is easier to manage.  I can't wait to see what my hair will look (and feel!) like over the next couple weeks as I continue to treat it with Whole Blends.

 My kids (ages 3 and 6) were treated to Whole Blends Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner with coconut oil and cocoa butter.  The first thing my son commented on was the "yummy" smell of his new shampoo and conditioner - a win already!  Both my son and daughter have naturally curly hair and Whole Blends was able to tame their curls, while making them soft, smooth and frizz free.

Try It!

Garnier is giving SwankMama readers a chance to try a sample of Whole Blends!  Follow this link and join the Garnier movement today.

Spread The Word

Love to party?  Join the Garnier #WholeBlends Twitter party on Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 7pm EST for your chance to win some fabulous Whole Blends products!