Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Burnaby Mountain Bike Skills Park

Bike skills parks are super cool. We watched experienced bikers jump the big bumps when we were in Whistler. It was fun to watch. Tristan was only 2 years old at the time and totally fascinated as well. We are fortunate to have a bike skills park that is a 15 minute walk from our home. It's a small one and we bring Tristan there often. He loves it there and we love watching him ride.

This past weekend, we went to a new bike park. It's not new but it's one we haven't explored yet :) Compared to the one by our house, this was HUGE. It was the mountain air bike skills park at the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. Areas were marked as easy, intermediate, and advanced skill levels for biking. At 3.5 years old, Tristan is intermediate on his strider running bike. He had his bike since 17 months old, although he probably didn't start really riding it outside until he was at least two. We actually bought him a pedal bike a few months ago since we think he is ready for it. We haven't taken it out yet though. The strider is good until his is five so I don't mind him riding that a bit longer. He is so confident on it right now.

The bike skills park at Burnaby Mountain was super cool. The area could use some maintenance but the wooden parts were all in good condition. Tristan had fun, despite falling twice. On the last fall, we went home. Sigh. Before the unfortunate incident, we took plenty of happy pictures above and this small video :)

Biking at Bike Skills Facility at Burnaby Mountain

The slope he rode a few times before finally falling.
I know why he fell. He was overly tired since he only slept maybe 8 1/2 hours the night before (for those who don't know, that's 1 1/2 hours less than what he normally gets) and he didn't nap yet. It was around 4:30PM when he fell. His body was getting tired since he had already biked maybe 1 hour and he was going down a steep slope and was scared. He did it many times already but this time he was scared. When you are physically tired and scared, THAT is when accidents will occur. Sadly, I was right. It must have hurt a lot since he cried for a long time. He bit his tongue on the fall as well so it bled a bit. Jean-Louis warned him about that one. He has a dark blue bruise under his chin now and it will probably be there for at least another week:( Poor little dude.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our first ever garage sale at the Highgate Village community garage sale

On Saturday July 21st, we took part in Highgate Village's first community garage sale. Proceeds from the table and parking stall rentals went towards the BC Children's Hospital. We are always in need of decluttering our house so this seemed like a good chance to do it. Community garage sales seem more attractive to those who are looking for good garage sales and since Save-On Foods was hosting it, we figured they would do all the publicizing and advertising for us. We registered and got 1 table to sell our goods.

The morning of the event it rained:( The organizers decided at the last minute to move the setup from the outside parking lot next to the shopping center down to the dark underground parking. We had to setup our tables by 9:30AM because the event started at 10AM. They decided to tuck us all near the back of the parking lot maybe because we wouldn't be so intrusive(??). Very few people came by to check us out. To make matters worst, I only saw one sign that was written on the white board in a faint marker near the entrance to Save-On Foods. Most of the people shopping at Highgate Village just didn't know there was a garage sale taking place underneath. That would be my guess since there were barely anyone walking around.

When the decision was made to setup underground, a very upset vendor told the organizer that no one was going to know we were down here. The vendor tried to get the organizer to allow us to setup upstairs. He said that the weather was predicting sunshine later in the day. The organizer didn't believe it and said it didn't look that way. The organizer was wrong. Shortly after 10AM, the rain stopped and by 10:30AM the sun came out. The sun stayed out the rest of the day. We were already all setup and there was no way we were going to move. Too bad:( The garage sale ended at 2PM and it was a beautiful day when we went outside. Doh!

This was the first year Save-On Foods has hosted a community garage sale to fund-raise. They didn't really know what they were doing but they could have definitely helped out the vendors a bit more. The weather cannot be controlled obviously but they could have helped publicize the event a bit more. Where were the big signs ready to place by all the entrances to the parking lot? Where was the big sign by the hot dog stand at the top they were using to fund-raise? Where was the big banner by the Highgate Village entrance? Why the heck was it not even advertised on their website? Why were we tucked so far back in the dark in the underground parking? The underground parking area by the entrance upstairs got way more traffic than the underground parking further away. Sadly for us we were one of the tables further away:(

Having a community garage sale is a great idea. Unfortunately it wasn't well organized and it hurt both vendors and shoppers. Everything we were selling were $5 or under. I researched about garage sales beforehand to make sure I was setting prices right. Our prices were pretty much right since only one person asked for a lower price. Our main goal at the garage sale was to get rid of our things. If we could make a few dollars in the process, that would be great! This was our first garage sale so it was a bit of an adventure for us. I advertised our sale on craigslist and I tweeted often about it. That might have gotten us a few extra visitors. Things that sold well were children books, toys, and cupcakes. The cupcakes were made to lure people to our table but in the end, at least half our of profit came just from cupcakes! I heard cupcakes and bakes work wonders at garage sales and it's totally true :)

There were a ton of bargains everywhere. It would have been a bargain shopper paradise if people knew about it. We ended up buying a couple of things too:) I was actually joking with the girl next to me saying that we were "negative" since Jean-Louis walked around and bought something before we even made our first sale. There was a table selling lots of DVDs in great condition for just $1. There were also lots of books going for $0.25 to $1. There were over 20 tables and maybe 6 or more parking stalls worth of goods.

We still had an adventure and Tristan got to learn a thing or two about garage sales so there's that :) We explained to Tristan that we were playing store that day. His job was to greet people and ask them if they wanted to try some cupcakes. If someone bought something we would pass him the change and he would give it to them. Despite being in the dark underground for most of the 4 hours, Tristan was really well behaved and was even helpful. I made conversation with a lovely lady at the table next to me. She was by herself and she had a newborn with her. Tristan talked and played with the baby a bit too. To him the baby was like a live doll! So small and so adorable. If it wasn't for good company, I think the garage sale would have been very long and boring.

Most of what we didn't sell, which was maybe 70% of our stuff, ended up being dropped off at the nearby donation center at Value Village. We tested out the garage sale but that didn't work out well but at least we tried, right? Now we know. Maybe things would have been different if the weather was better or if there was more publicity. Weather is such a big factor in these events that I'm pretty sure it would have made a big difference. Unfortunately, we will never know because that was our first and probably last garage sale:(

I don't think garage sales are for us. It's not worth the organizing, time, or even baking. The table rental was $15 so when you consider that we only made $34.57. That's kind of pathetic. Lol. We did it for the experience but now that that is behind us, we don't really have any good reason to hold another garage sale. The big things can be sold on craigslist and the rest will be donated. Our biggest take away from all of this is that it is very hard to sell things, even for $0.25. We will definitely be more careful of what we buy now, especially toys and clothes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

3 year old does the Grouse Grind

I have to remind myself that it's Tristan's accomplishment and not mine but I can't help it and I'm totally going to brag here. Tristan doesn't really know how to brag yet and couldn't care less. As his mother, it's my duty to brag for him! :)

The Grouse Grind is a difficult hike. It's about 3km of stair climbing really. They have t-shirts at the gift shop at the top that reads "I survived the Grouse Grind." It is kind of a big deal to climb it.

We took Tristan to do the Grind with us this past weekend. As much as we wanted him to do it all on his own, we also agreed that we would not push him very much. Whenever he would be tired, we would take a break. We would even carry him a bit if he really wanted us to. We would take as long as he needed. We agreed on this because we have done the Grind before and we know it's hard.

Jean-Louis and I have not done the Grouse Grind in over four years. Back in our childless days, we used to do it almost every other weekend. This was Tristan's first Grouse Grind. The goal of any first is just to finish. That is exactly what he did :) In 2 hours 11 minutes.

It was all Tristan! We didn't carry him one bit. We had to lift him here and there since there were rocks bigger than him. In fact most of the steps he had to take were as high as his knee. If you think about how short he is, it really was an amazing accomplishment. When I say he has short legs, I mean he is SHORT. The other day he was wearing 24 month old shorts and they fit him perfectly! He's 3 1/2 years old. Imagine if you had to climb 3 kilometer of steps that were as high as your knee to as tall as you were. That's what it was like for him. He did whine on and off a bit saying "it's soooo long" but that was about it. He did great and he was quite entertained by all the hikers going up.

It was very busy on the Grind last weekend. We spotted a lot of small children going up as well. I think it's so great that families are going up with small children! Last year we would have probably had to carry Tristan up the Grind a bit. He was just 2 1/2 and was even shorter. To be honest, I wasn't sure if he was ready for the Grouse Grind this year. He sure proved us wrong! :)

The day after, he wasn't even sore. We asked him several times to make sure he was fine. I guess we didn't work him hard enough?! That kid just amazes me. Now that I think of it, he barely broke a sweat going up. I think I was sweating more because it was so hot! It was a beautiful day in Vancouver and we had a blast at the top as well. Tristan really enjoyed the bears, the lumber jack show and then afterwards, we stopped by Starbucks and the water park. It was a banner day!

As promised, we took him to the water park afterwards.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Berry Picking at Emma Lea Farms

Last year we went to W&A Farms to pick strawberries. It was close to us and when we were there in June, there were a ton of strawberries. This year we decided to go to Emma Lea Farms. It was a bigger farm but it also took us around 35 or 40 minutes to get there. I heard good things about this farm and I liked that strawberries, raspberries, and tayberries were all in season right now. I had never picked raspberries or tayberries at a farm before.

July is actually a bit late for strawberry picking. This was actually their last weekend for u-pick. It totally showed! It took us much longer than last year to fill our two buckets. The berries were still very good but you had to work much harder to find them. We may have been a bit late coming out to pick strawberries this year but apparently we were too early for the raspberries and tayberries. It took even longer for me to fill my tray half way with raspberries. I would have to say that at least 80% of them were not ready to be picked. As for the tayberries, the ones I saw were not ready at all. I tried one and it was no good. Yuck. I wasn't sure because they looked quite red but they were SOUR! Maybe in a week or two they will be awesome. So even though their website advertised that raspberries and tayberries were ready for picking now, they really are not:(

Three eagles flying overhead.

I was bummed we didn't get any tayberries but look at all the raspberries and strawberries we got!

What the heck are we going to do with all this? In fact, we always find ourselves in the same situation year after year. We are so greedy that we absolutely have to pick berries until our buckets are full. It's silly because we can never eat or bake with this many. So far we have frozen some, ate lots and I made a raspberry tart. I also plan to make berry mousse, maybe freeze more, and the rest may just go into berry lemonade. Thank god for the freezer, eh?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Canada Day celebrations at Ron McLean Park

This year we considered going to Stevenston for their annual salmon festival. I heard their barbecue salmon was delicious but what we really wanted to do was to have Tristan take part in the children's bike parade. We just couldn't decide so we ended up not going. It would have been nice to dress Tristan up and decorate his bike but we couldn't do it at the last minute. Plus, we had to be there at 8:30AM, which is super early for us! Maybe we'll be more prepared next year.

We also considered Granville Island and Burnaby Village Museum. There were so many things happening everywhere for Canada Day. In the end, we just wanted to stay close to home and the closest festival to us was actually at Ron McLean Park. It was a 8-10 minute walk from our home and it was probably as good as anywhere else. The other nice thing about this park was that the celebration didn't start until 11AM. I got to sleep in until almost 9AM! Woohoo!

It's pretty crazy. We have been living in this neighborhood for years and we have never been to the Ron McLean Park Canada Day celebration. We ended up spending a couple hours at the park. There were lots of games for kids. I tried to get Tristan to swing the hockey stick at the goalie but he wasn't interested. He wasn't interested in any throwing game either. We sat and watched some entertainment on the stage. They had folk dancers, music, and people came out doing tai chi. There lots of food stands as well. All the food was a bargain and everything was for fundraising. I bought a smokie and pop for $3 and Tristan and I shared the smokie for lunch. Jean-Louis drank the pop. I also noticed watermelon slices were $0.25 each but Tristan didn't want any.

There was a playground and Tristan was more interested in that than the other activities. He saw one of his daycare friends there and was sort of following her around. He was too shy to say hello since she was playing with a group of other kids. We noticed so many kids were dressed in red and white for Canada Day!

There was a fire truck and Tristan got to look inside. There was a police car and all the kids were taking turns sitting inside. Some pretended to be criminals and sat in the back seat. Every now and then the police siren would go on. Lol. What can you expect when you let little curious kids sit inside a police car?

We lined up for the bouncy castle but Tristan was scared when he was inside. He tried to climb up but had trouble and we told him he didn't have to leave yet. Anyway, he cried a bit so we just removed him. We ended up lining up for the pirate ship bouncy castle. It was an open ship so he wasn't as scared. He could also see us too. After bouncing around, he wanted to go again but we ran out of time. It's funny because last year we went in a bouncy castle just like the enclosed one at this park and he wasn't scared at all.

We got home nice and early and started our little barbecue. Just the three of us. Hot dogs, veggie dogs, grilled bananas/mangoes, tomato salad, chips, and lemon/fruit tarts for dessert. By 6:30PM we were done eating and done cleaning up. That's an entire hour earlier than what we are used to! Hooray for celebrating Canada Day near home! :)

Hope all my Canadian readers had a fabulous Canada Day too!

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