Have you seen the PNE lately?

The PNE is an annual tradition in our family. Every year we pick a date in the last two weeks of summer and make the trek to Renfrew and Hastings for our big day. We do it all… rides, barns, shows, corn dogs, cotton candy, and superdogs too. We’ve kinda been on autopilot the last few years, knowing exactly what we want to do and where we’ll go.

Change has been happening every year at the PNE, but this time it really stood out.

 

Walking in the main gates, we found the Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit. With three little hockey players in tow (including two girls), this was our first stop. Even with the excitement of the rides to come, the kids loved it. We saw Wayne Gretzky’s first pair of skates, Hayley Wickenheiser’s uniform, photos of days and games gone by, and lots of trophies and cups too. IMG_1882

As we strolled past the amazing food trucks, we came across a stand that clearly stated “BEER WINE”. Out in the open, without fenced in areas where kids aren’t allowed! I had to stop and clarify that this was actually true. Well, YES it was. You can now purchase a beer or wine to walk around the PNE as you please (exceptions: Marketplace, Coliseum, and Playland ride area). What a fantastic addition for adults visiting!

IMG_1900Before we get too far in, a priority for us is the Guest Services kiosk near the main gate (there’s another at the Playland entrance) where you can register your kids for their “If I am Lost” sticker. Slap it on their back and if they do get lost, they just show it to a PNE employee and they have all your contact information on hand for reuniting. IMG_1891

The barns are the next stop. We can always count on the baby animals for a good hour of entertainment… piglets, chicks just hatching, calfs, bunnies and more. This year there was the local products store, the beehive, and the country farm kids activites. This area never gets old.

The kids were so excited for the rides, so off we went. The Corkscrew, Atmosfear (I can’t watch), 1000 Nachts (one of our favourites), and the new family-friendly rides like Dizzy Drop and FlutterBye.  Saving the rides for later in the day helps in three ways: first, the lineups are IMG_1951significantly shorter after dinner, especially for the kids’ rides. Second, you IMG_1971don’t have the intense heat of summer making you sweat. Third, the rides light up at night with colours and neon, and it’s a whole new experience. Save the daytime for the shows and exhibits where you are in shaded comfort!

Don’t forget to bring your own refillable water bottles. You can stop at any of the food kiosks and they’ll gladly refill for you. We refilled three times, saving us a lot of money and wasted plastic bottles.

The food is exciting at the PNE! There’s the old stand-by’s like cotton candy, corn dogs, and perogies. But some of the newer additions included ANYthing deep-fried, like chicken feet, coffee, cheesecake just to name a few. We love the sweet corn dipped in butter, and the award-winning barbecue trailers in Celebration Plaza, which has become a great gathering spot for music and food lovers.

After the rides, you can take in one of the Summer Night Concerts. This year it was acts like Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top, B-52’s, and Rick Springfield that stole the stage. They’ve made this IMG_2002super easy too: If you haven’t already bought a reserved ticket online, grab a wristband in Playland starting at 2pm, at the red tent near the Revelation ride. The wristband gives you an entry time – they start allowing entry at 6:30pm and times are staggered every half hour. If you still miss out on the wristbands, there are two giant screens to watch: in Celebration Plaza, and at Festival Park near the main entrance.

Tired kids in tow, we finally headed out of the park at 10pm. Exhausted, but with so many stories of laughter, fear, and fun. That is, after all, what the PNE is all about.

Will we see you there next time?!

Time to Write

Where do stories come from?

What shape can a story take?

Does your little one love to create? Summer camp is coming soon, so with the help of Word Wrestlers, a creative writing camp at UBC, kids explore the questions above through excursions and experiments. Writing with play in mind – using rhyme, repetition, metaphor, story-telling and the expression of sensory experiences – actively connects kids with language in fresh and unexpected ways.

Five writing experiments to get your brain moving:

  1. Anagram: An anagram is a word or phrase that uses all the letters of another word or phrase in a different order. is an anagram of Word Wrestlers. Use your full name as a way to generate phrases or words. Use these words, and only these words, to make a poem. Add a drawing, if you like, to make it a poem comic!
  1. On Complaining: Set a timer for 2 minutes. Start the timer, and make a list of things you love to complain about. Try for at least 20 things. Green beans. Socks. Bullies. Bed time. Then, re-set your timer for 5 minutes. Choose one subject and write a list of everything you know about that subject. Congratulations! You have made a list poem. (Remember: complaints are even better shared.)
  1. Object. Find a funny or strange object, small enough to fit in a pocket: a felted bunny, a star stamp, a roll of washi tape. Imagine the person who would carry this object around, and write about this character in a notebook: What do they look like? Where do they live? What do they wear, eat, dream? Why do they carry this object with them? Once your character has taken shape, write a 500-word story from their point of view.
  1. Time Machine: Choose a day in the future (20 years, or 40 or maybe only 13). Make a list of 20 detailed events that occur on this very special day. Let your imagination run wild.
  1. Neighborhood Poem: Walk your neighborhood with a notebook in hand. For every block, write a sentence. Each sentence must contain something you’ve noticed that maybe no-one else has, e.g. a neon green pylon, ruby-throated hummingbird, rain gutter full of soft pink petals, deer-hoof imprints in the sidewalk, soap suds from the daily fire-truck hose down. By the time you arrive home, you have made a bonafide poem!

Word Wrestlers is a creative writing summer camp for kids 8 – 12.

 

Terry Fox Exhibit at the Royal BC Museum

Few Canadians are as iconic as Terry Fox. He set the stage for cancer awareness while sporting pride in his nation during his run across the country. The Royal BC Museum, in support of Canada’s 150th birthday, is launching a new exhibit, Running to the Heart of Canada, which opens April 12, 2017, precisely 37 years from the day Terry dipped his prosthetic leg in the ocean in Newfoundland. “Terry Fox lives in the hearts and minds of many people in Canada and indeed around the world,” said Prof. Jack Lohman, CEO of the Royal BC Museum. “These very personal items will evoke much emotion and respect, inspiring all of us and the good work that flows from it.” Terry Fox ran an incredible 5,373 kilometres, and his journey will be immortalized at the museum until October. The exhibit will offer unique insight into Terry’s life through his journals, the van that followed him during his run, and photographs and mementos. Learn more about the day-to-day operations of the run and look at the impressive impact he had on our nation and the world. Not to be missed are the touching cards and letters of support Terry received during his trip. Use the hashtag #RBCMTerryFox to get involved in the conversation. And it doesn’t stop there. Since Terry’s journey connected all of us with the importance of family, there is an extra exhibit titled Family, Bonds and Belonging. Explore our connections with one another in this exciting and engaging experience. www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

Release your kids into Coquitlam’s great outdoors

Children are naturally drawn to nature, mesmerized by hopping frogs, slow-moving insects and odd-shaped sticks. The forest is a source of wonder and amazement. If you’re looking for new parks to explore, pay a visit to Coquitlam, which is riddled with trails of varying terrain and offers a reprieve from the city hustle.

One must-visit is Minnekhada Regional Park, a 200-hectare park located just minutes from Coquitlam’s City Centre. Surrounded by old-growth forest and endless views of nature, it feels like you are miles away from civilization. The park is home to 150 species of birds as well as beaver, black bears and singing bullfrogs.

Hiking trails range from a flat path leading throughout the marsh (perfect for younger children) to an uphill climb to the Low or High Knolls, with mind-blowing views looking over the wilderness.

Another place to take a walk in the woods is the urban forest of Mundy Park, rated by TripAdvisor as the #1 thing to do in Coquitlam. Round up the kids for some geocaching (a real-world outdoor hunt using a GPS device in which you search for a hidden container), or play a game of Disc Golf on the free permanent course, or try out the bike skills park.

Looking for someplace to explore that’s just steps from the SkyTrain? A short walk from Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station, you can duck into the Hoy Creek Trail for a peaceful 2.8-kilometre gravel trail (you’ll spot salmon in the creek during fall).

If you’d prefer a flat, paved experience, take a walk around Lafarge Lake, also next to the SkyTrain station, which has a 1.2-kilometre loop – the perfect length for little legs.

Many of these trails and parks are easily accessed by public transit and also offer free parking. Share cars are also available in Coquitlam’s City Centre area. coquitlam.ca/driving

Car Seat Safety with BCAA

A new BCAA survey reveals many parents take risks when transporting their kids such as using a second-hand child car seat and not checking regularly for proper installation. The survey, by Insights West for BCAA, asks parents for their views and behaviours around driving with their kids. BCAA’s Community Impact Senior Manager, Shawn Pettipas, says everyday mistakes could put children at risk.

The survey confirms most parents install their child car seats themselves but many don’t do regular checks and some have doubts:

  • Half (51%) don’t check regularly that their child’s seat is properly installed.
  • 21% are not certain that their child is properly installed in the child car seat.
  • 17% aren’t sure if the seat is correct for their child’s age and weight.
  • 66% install seats themselves.
  • 25% have their car seat checked by a certified expert.

While the survey also indicates many parents and caregivers feel certain they’re using the correct car seat correctly, Pettipas and his team of child car seat specialists see something different first-hand.

“We were surprised with the survey results because at every one of our car seat clinics, we find so many seats improperly installed, kids in the wrong type of seat, second-hand seats, and worried parents baffled after realizing how much they don’t know,” says Pettipas who manages child car seat programs for BCAA. The bottom line is that many parents simply don’t know what they don’t know and may be making mistakes.”

The survey also revealed that second-hand child car seats are an area of much uncertainty for parents:

  • Half (50%) believe it’s safe to use a second-hand seat as long as it’s in “good condition.”
  • Almost one in five (18%) use a second-hand seat (from friends, family or bought from sites like Craigslist)
  • 29% of parents who use a second-hand seat admit to not knowing the history of the seat.

“Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it’s safe. Not knowing the full history of a second-hand car seat means parents can’t be absolutely certain of the seat’s condition and this can put their kid at risk,” Pettipas says. “From using the wrong type of car seat to improper installation, we understand mistakes can happen and BCAA wants to help by raising awareness about common mistakes and offering support to help parents do even more to protect their children.”

BCAA’s child car seat website, bcaa.com/carseats offers a wealth of car seat information including step-by-step installation instructions with images and printable checklists to help parents and caregivers use child car seats and booster seats correctly.

BCAA’s key tips for child car seat safety include:

  1. Use correct child car seat for child’s age and size. Take note of weight and height limits for car seats.
  1. Ensure proper installation. Read vehicle and child car seat manuals before using child car seat. Proper installation includes the child car seat being placed on an appropriate vehicle seat, positioned correctly and properly secured.
  1. Find a local car seat clinicParents and caregivers can attend workshops, like ones offered by BCAA to learn more and receive hands-on installation education. If a car seat clinic is unavailable in your area or you have questions, contact BCAA’s Child Passenger Safety information line at 1-877-247-5551.
  1. Ensure your child is properly placed and secured in the car seat.
  • Adjust harness straps to the correct height: Rear-facing (below child’s shoulders) or forward-facing (above the shoulders)
  • Both harness strap latches should be fastened (both have been clicked into the buckle).
  • Harness straps are snug (only room for one finger or less between harness and child’s collar bone).
  • Chest clip positioned at the child’s armpit level.
  1. Regularly check car seat position and condition.
  • Wiggle test: Hold car seat at the belt path and give it a side-to-side wiggle. Car seat should not move sideways more than 2.5 cm (1 inch).
  • Look for signs of wear and tear such as frayed harnesses, torn padding, cracks in the shell. Clean out every day crumbs and dirt from around the straps and buckle.
  1. If a second-hand car seat must be used, be absolutely certain of its full history.Ensure the seat hasn’t been involved in any collision or dropped. Check for recalls and ensure it is within its expiry date.

BCAA is dedicated to the safe transportation of children. For the past four years BCAA, has donated more than 7,000 new child car seats to families in need across B.C. through the Community Child Car Seat Program, in partnership with United Way Lower Mainland. This June, BCAA will provide another thousand seats, bringing the total donation to 8,000 car seats.

Applications for the Community Child Car Seat Program are now being accepted from February 16 until March 6, 2017. Community programs offered by registered non-profit agencies throughout B.C. are eligible to apply and encouraged to visit bcaa.com/carseatprogram for program details and to apply online.

Help the SPCA with National Cupcake Day!

Looking to start the year by making a difference? By getting involved in National Cupcake Day™, animal lovers can help save the lives of animals in our communities simply by baking cupcakes and giving them away in exchange for a donation.

National Cupcake Day™ is cross-country event presented by the BC SPCA, the Ontario SPCA and participating humane societies.  This year, Cupcake Day falls on Monday, Feb. 27 (the last Monday of February), but animal lovers and bakers are encouraged to fundraise throughout January and February.

“I’m excited to test out some new cupcake recipes and decorating techniques this year,” says National Cupcake Day™ spokesperson and cupcake crusader, Kristina Matisic.

“What I love about this event is that it’s super easy to get involved and cupcakes are simple to make. Plus, who can say no to a delicious cupcake, especially when it’s for such a great cause?”

Last year, Canadians raised more than $615,000 through their baking and fundraising efforts. Since the campaign’s inception in 2013, $1.85 million has been raised, with proceeds going to participating SPCAs and Humane Societies across the country.

How you can get involved:

  1. Register for FREE at www.nationalcupcakeday.ca
  2. Receive for your Cupcake Host Kit to arrive in the mail or download it online.
  3. Customize your Personal Fundraising Centre online and ask your friends, family and colleagues to support your fundraising efforts.
  4. Send your friends and family an email through your participant centre, encouraging them to show their support by donating online.
  5. Plan your National Cupcake Day Party for home, work, school or wherever you think people would love to eat cupcakes.
  6. Hold your National Cupcake Day Party on Monday, Feb. 27or any day in January or February that works for you.
  7. Bake, decorate and eat!

Visit nationalcupcakeday.ca to register, bake and donate.

 

Happy Holidays from WCF

Each day, the staff here at WestCoast Families work hard to bring you the latest and greatest information for you and your families. We hunt local shops, we search online, and we live the west coast life. The reason we love what we do is that we are interested in what we deliver to you through our magazine. We know that if it matters to us, it will matter to you.

We consider ourselves a family too. We’re a small, tight knit group and we’re lucky to every day do what we love for a living.

So we wanted to take a moment to wish you, our readers, the merriest of holidays. No matter if you celebrate a holiday at this time of year or not, we should all pause to think of loved ones, give back to our community and be grateful for the many things we have to be thankful for.

We wish you all special time with your families, straight from ours.

Small Change, Big Hearts with Air Transat

For 90 minutes in the skies over Canada on December 7th, hundreds of children living with severe illnesses, and their families, were treated to an unforgettable experience, when they were greeted by Santa Claus on special flights organized by The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada and Air Transat. The flights, which took off from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, were part of Air Transat’s 12th annual Flights in Search of Santa, a joint effort in partnership with Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. And for the second year in a row, a flight from Paris carrying some 50 sick children and their families also took off in search of Santa.

Air Transat also used the flights as an opportunity to announce a further $98 975 donation to Children’s Wish, which represents the amounts collected over the past year as part of the air carrier’s Small Change, Big Hearts program and other initiatives, and is in addition to the over $5 million raised for Children’s Wish since the inception of the partnership between the two organizations.

“There is truly nothing better than seeing a child smile in wonderment, and we in turn are delighted to bring a little magic into the lives of hundreds of children across Canada and in France,” said Jean-Francois Lemay, President, Air Transat. “The Flights in Search of Santa is at the core of our partnership with The Children’s Wish Foundation and is the Air Transat family’s favourite event of the year.”

The memorable day began at the Air Transat check-in counter at Vancouver International airport, where some 250 passengers, including children living with severe illnesses, along with members of their families, received their boarding passes for the North Pole. They then made their way to the boarding lounge, where a number of festive activities awaited. Finally, they took their seats in the aircraft for a 90-minute flight during which Santa Claus made a surprise appearance and distributed presents to the wide-eyed children.

Chris Kotsopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Wish Foundation enthused: “Children’s Wish Foundation is very fortunate to be able to count on the support of Air Transat, a partner since 2004. This event is truly one of the greatest moments of the year for Children’s Wish and for the participating children. We are delighted that Air Transat is here to help us make this unique day possible for these kids, for whom illness is a daily reality.”

The annual Flights in Search of Santa are made possible thanks to the generous collaboration of several partners including Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto Pearson, Vancouver International airports and Roissy Charles de Gaules airport, and the volunteer efforts of Air Transat employees.

For more information, follow the #SantaFlight hashtag on social media.

Winter Driving Tips

By: Carl Nadeau, Michelin Driving Expert

With reports indicating that parts of British Columbia may be slated for a cold, snowy winter, residents across the province should be thinking about how to prepare their vehicles for the unpredictable season ahead. Michelin recently conducted a nationwide survey to gain insights into Canadians’ winter driving habits and found that one-third of Canadians do not own winter tires.

In British Columbia, 56% of the survey respondents indicated they do not own winter tires because it does not snow enough or get cold enough to warrant them, opting to stick with their all-seasons instead.

With harsher conditions anticipated on the horizon, it might be helpful for drivers to review some misconceptions and better understand how winter tires can actually increase their road safety as the weather changes, sometimes abruptly so.

Myth: All-season tires are fine for the winter season.
While all-season tires are meant to keep you safe in occasional, transitional weather conditions, winter tires are recommended once the temperature dips below 7 degrees Celsius and consistently approaches freezing, particularly when precipitation gets added to the mix. Winter tires are manufactured with a specific tread and a rubber compound designed to maintain your vehicle’s grip, traction, and braking quality at lower temperatures. Below 7 degrees Celsius, rubber on non-winter tires begins to harden and lose effectiveness. The flexible, silica-rich rubber used for winter tires is more effective, particularly if you don’t want to slide around like a hockey puck.

Myth: Two winter tires on the front of your vehicle will suffice
Having only two winter tires installed on your vehicle can become a serious issue when braking or turning. The winter tires on the front axle will have stronger grip, meaning the rear tires could slide more easily, which could potentially send you into a spin.

Myth: Winter tires aren’t necessary on AWD vehicles
All-wheel drive is a performance feature that many behind the wheel enjoy, but it’s not a safety feature. Increased tread blocks, micro-pumps that absorb water, tridimensional sipes, and the tire compound all play a part in the overall performance of a vehicle’s tires in winter conditions; and tires are the only part of your vehicle that actually touch the road.

Winter can be an unpredictable season. Knowing the value of winter tires will increase your options for a safer, more reliable drive, helping to prepare you to weather the harshest of conditions.

Lions and Tigers and Bears…. oh my!

So I’ve heard about the Build-A-Bear Workshop for years as kids have spoken of them on the playground and in the classrooms, but we’ve never had one locally and it’s never really been something we’ve sought out. When the new Tsawwassen Mills mall opened up nearby recently, my daughter saw the sign for their new store and asked to go in. I didn’t see the attraction img_7347of stuffing a bear to bring home and add to the collection of other stuffies, but of course we took a stroll through and gazed at all the colours, the accessories, the costumes. Only to walk out again a few minutes later saying “wasn’t that cute?!”, but no real desire to go back.

By complete coincidence, someone from Build-A-Bear Workshop contacted me shortly after.  Good timing? Perhaps! They asked if we’d like to come down to the store for a Build-A-Bear experience. As much as I was cringing at the thought of adding more stuffies to our house, I thought I’d indulge my daughter and take her for a little surprise. img_7352

After school one Wednesday in November, we headed down to the store and was greeted by Jennifer, who couldn’t have been a more enthusiastic host. She had so much patience as Olivia carefully selected her “bear” to build… a black dog, just like the one she’d like to get in real life.

Olivia’s eyes lit up as the stuffing was added, along with a red satin heart kissed by Mama, of course. We opted for some special add-ins too: a scent, sound effects (barking by Olivia!), and a img_7372heartbeat. Then it was over to the accessories, which are endless.  And this is where things can get pretty special. Have a firefighter in your life? or a police man/woman? They’ve got you covered. Someone in a wheelchair, with a broken arm, or on crutches? Yup, they’ve got that too.  A toddler who likes pink and frilly, or one who likes hockey and football? It’s there! I had always thought of Build-A-Bear as girls looking for a cute bear to snuggle, but I realized it can go much further than that with all the options and accessories available.

img_7366Once you’re done building and accessorizing, the experience continues! You can name and register your new friend, print their birth certificate, take a special photo, and THEN you’re done. Almost.  Jennifer gave us a complimentary dog crate for “Midnight” to go home in and snuggle at night, and offered us half-price gift cards to come back anytime for more accessories.  I was thinking “Christmas” and added a couple to my tab.

Now Build-A-Bear Workshop isn’t always an inexpensive endeavour. By the time all was said and done, our total was just over $65, but we had added on some extras that we could have easily done without. A basic “bear” starts at just $29 and includes stuffing, satin heart, naming and registering, birth certificate and box.

They have birthday parties too, so your little one can bring a few friends down and enjoy watching their faces light up. It makes for great photo opps, and big smiles. Bring them back to your place or out for a nice lunch, with their new friends.

If you’re interested in learning more, go to www.buildabear.ca

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