Spring Break Staycation

Ahhhh, Spring Break.  It's like a love/hate relationship, right?  It always starts out feeling like a vacation and by the start of the second week, you're wishing you could drop your kids off at school, haha!

All kidding aside, I actually long for the days off I get with the kids because hubby and I usually work for the majority of the break.  This year, we took off the last couple days of the second week and decided to make the most of our 'staycation'.

First on our list?  One of our favourite attractions on the west coast:  Science World!

Being at Science World brings back so many memories of my childhood and, while its been renovated since then, a few of the original exhibits are still being featured (remember those science demonstrations on the main floor, or that majestic treehouse on the upper level, or that structure that takes photos of your shadow?).  It's such an amazing feeling to be able to share those experiences with my own children and also see first-hand how Science World has evolved since then.

I'd say you could typically get through all of the exhibits and shows within 3-4 hours.  However, if you're a visitor to the city, you may want to spend an entire day there to make sure you have ample time to get the full Science World experience - which will probably include a showing at the largest OMNIMAX dome screen in the world (tickets available here)!

Our favourite part of Science World?  The feature exhibition never fails to impress - the Science of Ripley's Believe It or Not! was pretty amazing in a weird/gross/cool way that you'd expect from Ripley's Believe It or Not!  Can you believe there was a man that was nearly 9 feet tall??!  It was pretty insane to see "him" in person and Zoë was more than willing to take advantage of a quick photo op:

The other galleries that were amazing (not to mention informative) was BodyWorks and the Wonder Gallery, which is geared towards ages 0-5.  You should also be prepared to spend a majority of time in Eureka! - an interactive playground that's seriously fun for all ages.

Next up on our staycation intinerary was Western Canada's largest indoor carnival, PlayDome at BC Place!

As the kids get older, this place seems to get more and more fun.  Both of them are at the age where they truly enjoy the rides and the joy on their faces.....well, we all live for that, right?  Fast forward to a week later and Jadon is still talking about his "exhilarating" experience on the Hellavator (I think he used the words "scary" and "terrifying", which means it was that good!) and how he couldn't stop shaking afterwards (see it was that good!).

PlayDome is a fun Spring Break event for the entire family that is geared more towards school-aged kids (in my opinion).

We also checked out the Vancouver International Auto Show, which turned out to be Jadon's "best day ever".  I'll post more about that on the blog later, but for now, here's a little sneak peak:

Finally, we ended our Spring-cation at the Vancouver Aquarium.  It seems every time we go to the aquarium, we end up discovering something new!

My tips for the aquarium?  Be prepared to spend time at each exhibit and gallery searching for those little and big fish, mammals and creatures.  You never know where they might be hiding!

Our favourite galleries would have to be the Graham Amazon Gallery (where you actually feel like you've stepped into an Amazon rainforest) and Treasures of the BC Coast.  For kids 0-8 years old, make sure you check out Clownfish Cove - an interactive play area which explores the oceans around us.  Speaking of Clownfish Cove, don't forget to check out the Canaccord Financial Exploration Gallery which houses the informative 4-D Theatre that's suitable for all ages!

While we initially didn't plan much for Spring Break this year, it's obvious that we didn't waste any time either!  A lot of our daily activities were last minute decisions - just the way we've always lived our lives.   I've always been a huge believer that spontaneity keeps life interesting and definitely not boring at all.  Oh, and we managed to squeeze in a birthday party, Easter egg hunts and a trip to the movie theatre.  Needless to say, I may need a vacation from our Spring-cation, haha!

What was the most memorable moment of your kids' Spring Break?  I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Disclosure:  Our family received complimentary entrance tickets to Science World, PlayDome and the Vancouver Aquarium in exchange for this blog review post and social media posts.  All opinions are my own and do not reflect the views or opinions of Science World, PlayDome, BC Place or the Vancouver Aquarium and/or their associates.  


Super Car Obsessed with the Vancouver International Auto Show + a Giveaway

I'm not sure what it is about eight year old boys, but are they all 'super car' obsessed?!  It seems the only conversations I have with my son nowadays is whether I prefer a Bugatti over a Lamborghini - literally from the moment we wake up to the minute he falls asleep.  Actually, I think this obsession started years ago now that I think of it:

What he doesn't know is that we're taking him to the Vancouver International Auto Show next week.  I can't wait to see his face when he finally sees all of his dream super cars under one roof!

The 98th Vancouver International Auto Show returns Wednesday, March 28 - Sunday, April 1, 2018 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.  Tickets are available here or you could win your way in with us!  (hint:  BCAA members get a special discount)

{Win It!}

The Vancouver International Auto Show is generously giving one of my readers a chance to win 4 entrance tickets to the Auto Show (valid any day from March 28 - April 1, 2018)!  To enter, please follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only and ends on Monday, March 26, 2018 at 9pm PST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  All opinions in this review remain my own and do not reflect the opinions or views of the Vancouver International Auto Show, Vancouver Convention Centre and/or their affiliates.  We received a tickets to the Auto Show in order to complete this announcement post.  Note that SwankMama does not accept responsibility for sponsors that do not fulfill their giveaway duties.  Winner will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to respond, otherwise, a new winner will be chosen at random.


Keeping Your Family Safe with BlackboxMyCar + a Giveaway!

And just like that, Christmas is another year away!  The kids are happy, multiple trips to the mall are a thing of the past, and I can finally put my feet up and binge watch Ray Donovan, haha!

Life is great.

Over the past few weeks, I've been testing out my new Thinkware F100 dash cam from BlackboxMyCar.  To be completely honest, I never thought I would be writing a post about a dash cam and initially struggled with how I would engage my readers about a car accessory that wasn't on the top of my Christmas list.  That thought quickly passed, as it become completely clear why I would need a dash cam in the first place - my kids!

As with any parent, my kids' safety is my number one priority and something that I would never compromise.  I don't know about you, but I've noticed over the years that other drivers seem to be taking risks and not paying attention like they used to.  I often wonder if the main factor of that is distracted driving and the need to be connected at all times via our smartphones and electronics.  The one thing that has really left me speechless lately is that people seem to be confused about what to do when an emergency vehicle is trying to pass!  All of these factors combined with the fact that my oldest child will be driving in about eight years (OMG!) is causing slight anxiety, but I feel that having a dash cam or equivalent would put my mind at ease when the time does come.

The fact that I now have added security with my Thinkware F100 dash cam gives me piece of mind that if anything should happen, I would have the evidence needed to prove my case.  It also enters parking mode when I'm away from my car and continues to film any incidents, such as potential break-ins or hit and runs, making my source of transportation safe and secure.

About Thinkware F100

The new Thinkware F100 is one of the most affordable Full HD/HD dual-channel dash cam systems on the market.  It features Full HD 1080P video recording with a 135 degree wide angle glass elements lens and a Sony Exmore CMOS Sensor, as well as option GPS, built-in parking mode and G-sensor, expandable memory size and loop recording.

My favourite feature?  Piece of mind that my vehicle and family are safe, plus the convenience of loop recording.  This means that I don't have to buy a bigger memory card and I can save any incidents in a separate folder with a touch of a button before uploading videos to my computer.

About BlackboxMyCar

BlackboxMyCar was founded in 2012 by Alex Jang, after he had a personal experience in a motor vehicle accident where the other party denied responsibility, and is now North America's leading dash cam supplier.  Aside from selling the top dash cams on the market, BlackboxMyCar also provides convenient installation services - something I highly recommend as their team is very knowledgeable and professional, and they'll have your dash cam installed within an hour.

{Win It!}

The generous team at BlackboxMyCar is giving one of my readers their very own Thinkware F100 dash cam (a $169.99 CAD value)!  To enter, please follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only and ends on January 31, 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  All opinions in this review remain my own and do not reflect the opinions or views of BlackboxMyCar and/or their affiliates.  We received a form of compensation from BlackboxMyCar in order to complete this review.  Note that SwankMama does not accept responsibility for sponsors that do not fulfill their giveaway duties.  Winner will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to respond, otherwise, a new winner will be chosen at random.

Photo credit:  JamPR


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.