Vegetarian Pho

 

Vegetarian Pho

You know how in Friends the gang has Central Perk? Well in university, my friends and I had Golden Train Express II. We would gather there for pho at all hours of the day and enjoy delicious Vietnamese food while creating amazing memories and developing a special friendship.  We had our regular order and waitress (oh Helen!) and loved the tacky mix of Vietnam meets Greece meets a bit of everything else with a few TVs and a fish tank thrown in for good measure.

We would usually all order some variety and size of pho. Delicious, hot, comforting bowls of noodle soup would be slurped up as we chatted our way through some memorable meals.  Pho is still one of my favourite foods. If you have never tried pho before, let’s start with the pronunciation.  While we spent most of our time at Golden Train Express II pronouncing the dish “faux,” the correct pronunciation is actually “feu” (as in French for “fire,” from the French dish “pot au feu”).  It is commonly served in a beef or chicken broth with noodles, meat, and garnished with your choice of bean sprouts, mint, basil, chili peppers, cilantro, and lime. Continue reading

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Teaching Kids About Healthy Living

The act of finding balance needs to start with our children. While we may sometimes struggle to achieve balance, we need to create a generation to whom this comes naturally. And one key way to do this is to provide them with the tools needed to create a healthy lifestyle.

Where does a healthy lifestyle begin?  If you ask most people, they will start by listing diet and exercise. There may be other variables such as stress levels and amount of sleep, but it goes without question that without a balance of a healthy diet and a good amount of exercise, it becomes nearly impossible to have a healthy lifestyle.

Continue reading

September Books: Week Two

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september book club_jpgYep, it’s the middle of September, and the end of our When Autumn Falls week! Not that autumn is near over…it’s just beginning, which means that we can spread out the autumn crafts, songs, and learning all season!

Little Bear and I had a great week with this book.  Here are some of the things that we got up to…

(For a full rundown of the When Autumn Falls activities, check out our September books page.) Continue reading

Can You Do the Monkido too?

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Photo Credit: Christine Guillen Ferreira

A few weeks ago I joined a group of lucky YVR Bloggers that were invited for a treetop adventure at Wild Play Element Parks in Maple Ridge.  Never heard of Wild Play? Imagine a beautiful forested area with plenty of tall trees.  Now imagine the trees as a maze, connected with games, obstacles and zip lines, with you be in this adventure! If you think this sounds like a thrill, you’re spot on.

Wild Play Element Parks are located in five different cities: Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Victoria, Kelowna, Mt. Sima (in the Yukon), and Wood Buffalo.  Each park is a little different in how they are set up and what they offer.  At the Maple Ridge location, visitors are able to complete the Monkido (think of a jazzed up way of saying “monkey do”) tree top obstacle course and do the WTF (What’s To Fear) Jump. The Monkido course consists of zip lines, rope swings, wobbly bridges, tight ropes, and other obstacle I can’t even name!

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When I first got to Wild Play, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was a bit nervous about the thought of not being able to have the strength to complete even one leg of the four-leg Monkido course. Memories of the rope in grade 5 gym class came back to me and I visualized standing at the bottom of this rope not sure quite what to do.  Lucky for me, that is not really what Monkido is about.  The first part of this adventure was getting outfitted with our “monkey pants” and some hands-on training where our helpful ground guide Isaac showed us what basic safety rules we needed to keep in mind at all times.  It’s important to note that Wild Play has made this training visual (“monkey see, monkey do”), not verbal, so anyone can look and understand.  This is great for those who are hard of hearing or ESL, as language is not a barrier.  In order to pass the training and begin the Monkido course, all participants must complete a small training course that’s just a few feet off the ground.

Getting my "monkey pants" on!  Helping me out was the incomparable Wendy Mein - such a great leader who gave me wonderful encouragement when I was stuck at one point!

Getting my “monkey pants” on! Helping me out was the incomparable Wendy Mein – such a great leader who gave me wonderful encouragement when I was stuck at one point!

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Visual “Monkey See, Monkey Do” training with our helpful guide, Isaac. Photo Credit: James Chung at http://www.hellovancity.com

Once done the training, we all headed to the start of the Monkido course.  Much like ski slopes, the Monkido course is colour-coded (green, blue, red, and black) with difficulty increasing as you go on. I knew I wanted to complete the green and blue courses and hoped I’d complete red.  As soon as you get out on the course, you get right into guiding yourself, walking on tight-ropes, and zip lining to the next section.  There are first-aid certified guides on the ground, watching to make sure everyone is being safe and aware of their surroundings as well as to help people as needed.

Talk about an immediate adrenaline rush once you get up there! You don’t start off that high, but all the obstacles keep the course feeling like an amazing adventure and you slowly work your way higher into the trees.  Also, the fact that the course is self-guided makes it feel riskier and more exciting.  Take, for example, zip lining.  I had zip-lined once previously, and that time we had numerous guides helping us and securing us.  With the Monkido course, you are the one doing all the work, so you realize you need to be both cautious and aware while having this adventure.

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Photo Credit: James Chung at http://www.hellovancity.com

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Photo Credit: James Chung at http://www.hellovancity.com

While some parts of the course are physically challenging, others are a bit scary, and others are just fun.  It’s a great mix of all three elements, which makes for an interesting course.  At the end of each level you have an option to exit, but you must complete each leg that you are on.  In other words, there’s no escape route halfway between levels, although there is always help available to those who feel stuck.  And if you really get stuck, not to worry, because the staff is well-trained in performing rescues to those who need it!  I got a bit stuck at one point and realized I didn’t know the best way to get across the obstacle.  There I was, right in the middle of this series of swinging logs, realizing that I had started off on these logs in completely the wrong way, having started off with way too much momentum.  The guides were awesome (thank you Wendy!), and the manager talked me through the best way to complete the obstacle and provided me with the encouragement I needed to finish that obstacle!

In the end, I was able to complete the green, blue, and red levels.  I opted to exit at the end of red because I found that the first three levels were such a full-body workout that I was totally exhausted.  I would definitely love to come back and attempt to complete the whole thing another time.

After you complete the course, you have the option to do the WTF (What’s To Fear) Jump.  I didn’t do the jump, but some of my fellow YVR Bloggers did, and they said it was a fun thrill.  The WTF Jump is a bungee jump from atop of a 12 metre high platform in a tree, and can be done at the end of the Monkido course or on its own, without completing the course.

One of my fellow YVR Bloggers about to do the WTF Jump. Photo Credit: James Chung at www.hellovancity.com

One of my fellow YVR Bloggers about to do the WTF Jump.
Photo Credit: James Chung at http://www.hellovancity.com

My experience at Wild Play was definitely memorable.  I had a great time, challenged myself, made some new friends, and had a whole lot of fun.  I can’t wait until I can come back again.  Hmmm, who knows? Perhaps I’ll set a new record time to complete the course!

The bottom line:

Where is it?: 23485 Fern Crescent, Maple Ridge, BC

How much is it?: Monkido: Classic – $42.99, Buddy – $35.99 each, and Kids – $22.99 WTF Jump: Single jump – $19.99, Add-on – $14.99

What are their hours?: Changes seasonally.  For September they are open Thursday & Friday from 12 to 4 and Saturday & Sunday from 10 to 4.  Wild Play Maple Ridge closes on November 2.  Check the website for more detailed info.

What should I bring?: A water bottle, change for a locker, a small wallet, a snack for post-Monkido, and possibly a camera if you aren’t worried about the possibility of dropping it!  Make sure to wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing, good shoes, and, if you can, a small fanny pack like this one.  You won’t be able to wear a backpack or purse while doing the course, so don’t plan on taking a lot of stuff with you!

Who is this good for?: Anyone, 7 and older! Wild Play offers a kids course, a partnered course, and the adult Monkido course.

Fizzing and Foot Painting

Last week was all about The Foot Book for our Toddler Book Club!

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Between reading it, singing the hokey pokey, and tickling 10 little piggies, we managed to get some time to have fizzy fun and some stomp painting!

In our last book club post I mentioned a fun baking soda and vinegar activity that I found over on Toddler Approved. Little Bear had a blast with this activity and it was something he had never tried before!

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Materials needed:

  • large shallow dish or tray
  • baking soda (enough to cover the bottom of the dish)
  • vinegar in a spray bottle or eye droppers
  • food colouring (optional)
  • toys with feet

Directions:

  1. If using, combine water with colouring.  Put baking soda in dish.
  2. Invite your little one to play with the toys in the baking soda.  Point out the footprints and talk about the different sizes and shapes that they are.  Finish off with having all the toys standing up in the baking soda.

When ready, invite your little one to spray the vinegar on top of the feet of the toys.

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Another equally messy and fun activity that we did yesterday was our foot stomp painting! We got out some craft paper, some paints, and set ourselves up outside to make a foot painting! The aim of this is fun, nothing that you might necessarily frame as a keepsake.  Be prepared for lots of giggles when you paint your little one’s feet, paint everywhere, and lots of fun to be had.  Tip: Keep the dog away from the paint! Our dog secretly thinks he’s Picasso, but no one wants to clean paint off of paws!

 

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Here is our finished product:

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We also played our own version of Simon Says while painting this, with me giving commands and Little Bear following. Commands including marching, jumping, stomping, stepping with his left foot, standing on his right foot, etc.

If you have a nice flat driveway, this would be a great place to do this activity. It was a bit hard keeping the craft paper on the grass (we used painter’s tape, which worked for a bit, but didn’t hold up with our Simon Says activity).

Overall, the activities this week were a great way to practice different foot-based activities and left vs. right.

How do you like to practice left and right with your little one?