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#MyGlampingStyle: Rondalyn Resort Review

Both my hubby and I grew up camping, and I mean bare bones tent camping. The term glamping hadn’t even be invented yet and if it had, we wouldn’t have known what it was. We wanted our girls to have this experience too, but the one attempt we made, when our oldest was just 8 months old ended in disaster just a few hours after it started. Given that history, I jumped at the chance to try again when we were invited to check out Rondalyn Resort - one of the extensive network of Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities that stretch across Canada.

Nestled in the woods between Nanaimo and Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, Rondalyn Resort is a full service Campground and RV Park that also has a fully furnished cabin and brand new camping cabin options! It has a surprising number of awesome features and amenities that I have never seen in a campground before including a huge, well maintained playground, a beautiful golf course, a heated salt water pool (no word of a lie, the cleanest pool I have even encountered), a stocked fishing pond, video arcade and more.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect before we arrived because campground standards can range wildly and there really is no way of knowing (unless you stumble upon an awesome and helpful blog post like this)! I was pleasantly surprised to discover a beautiful, clean and well maintained site. Everywhere! The cabin was cozy, comfortable, clean and fully equipped with heat and air conditioning plus a kitchenette and bathroom with a shower. There was no garbage littering the campground, and despite the awesome number of dogs (not to mention wild bunnies), everyone cleaned up after themselves. The pool was immaculate as was the playground. This was such a big deal to this mama of 2 young’ins. I never felt uncomfortable or had to restrict my kids play in any way. They were safe and free to roam, which they did from sun up to sun down. We were never bored and yet there was still lots of time for the adults to relax too. Everyone was so friendly and welcomed the girls as they wandered around looking to meet new people and pets.

Because Rondalyn is so well situated, there is lots to explore within a short drive of the cabin. We took a trip into Ladysmith for their annual Kids Pirate Day which delighted the girls with face painting, bouncy castles and a petting zoo. The convenient location also means that the ferry to the mainland is only a short 20 minute drive away, making it an easy trip for all Lower Mainlanders including our 2 car hating kids.

So if glamping is on your summer bucket list, check it off at Rondalyn Resort. You can find the super reasonable rates for the camping and furnished cabins here, and the tent and RV sites here. Parkbridge really does have something for everyone from young families to retiree’s, boaters to landlubbers and you can find the full listing of community styles and locations here. Search #glamping and #myglampingstyle on Twitter and Instagram to see more of our amazing stay as well as other reviews across Canada too! I would highly recommend Rondalyn Resort of a relaxing family getaway at an unbeatable price.

All on the table disclaimer: While I did receive free or discounted products/services, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers.

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*GIVEAWAY* Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp from M Acadamy

M Acadamy's Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp

For the last month, we have been hit over the head repeatedly with message after message about enrolling our kids in day camp. There are a million and one day camps out there now, literally anything you can imagine is a day camp for kids. Music. Cooking. Circus. Parkour. Swordfighting (I kid you not). Marketing. Hey now…….that sounds like something I can get behind! Its about time there was a day camp for grown ups! From the brilliant minds that brought you MWorkLab comes M Acadamy and their awesome line up of workshops and day camps. We are especially excited about the upcoming Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp!

Covering everything from social media to alternate revenue streams to fresh and exciting marketing ideas, you will walk in with your laptop and a business idea, and walk out with a 6 month marketing plan, a handful of new connections, a head full of inspiration and a belly full of yummy lunch and refreshments (yes that’s all included)! If that wasn’t enough, M Acadamy students have access to community partners, discounts and other great perks.

Guy Kawasaki (Apple Co-Founder) said “If you have more money than brains you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing {and M Acadamy’s Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp}”. Ok, I may have taken some creative license with that last bit, but the sentiment is true. So let’s roll up our sleeves, set some goals, make some money and learn how to give our businesses the marketing jump start they need! M Acadamy’s Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp is competitively priced at $97 for the entire 6 hour program, lunch and refreshments, wifi and parking – the works! And because we know you love giveaways, one lucky reader will join me for free, so we can kick ass together.

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*Giveaway* Hyak White Water Rafting Review

YVR Bloggers Hyak Rafting Group Photo (bus) on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Did you know that there is no official term for a fear of boats? There is the fear of the ocean (thalassophobia), fear of water (hydrophobia), and fear of dying (thanatophobia) but nothing coined for a fear of boats. Whatever they end up naming it, I have it. For as long as I can remember, I have hated boats. Big or small, I loathe them all. So when Ricky Shetty put out the invitation to join a YVR Bloggers white water rafting trip with Hyak Rafting, I didn’t hesitate to say yes! Wait. What?

Thumbs up selfie at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

You heard me right, I said yes. And immediately regretted it. I’m sure you’re wondering why I volunteered, and it boils down to one word (well one acronym). FOMO. Even more than I fear boats, I have an unrelenting fear of missing out. I want to be involved in as much as possible, get out there and join in! Additionally, I’ve been working hard over the last year or so not to let fear make decisions for me (FOMO aside, it doesn’t count), so instead of reneging on my sign up, I packed my gear and drove myself out to Chilliwack on a breezy, cool morning and prayed for the best!

Instructions at Hyak Rafting on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

How Not To Kill Yourself

Once everyone arrived, and the requisite group photos and selfies were taken, we were given an agenda overview and safety chat from one of the Hyak guides. I firmly believe that they chose the cute Aussie with the gorgeous accent to give the terrifying instructions so it doesn’t sink in exactly what you are getting yourself into. Which turned out to be a super unflattering wet suit! Following a 20 minute bus ride out to the river, further training on how not to die, it was time to get in the water.

YVR Bloggers in wetsuits at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Everyone looks good in wetsuits! (and a photo bomb from Jess)

This is where the rubber hit the road, or perhaps the paddle hits the water. This is where I lie in the bottom of the boat praying for land. This is where I hang over the side of the raft losing what little breakfast I managed to swallow. This is where…… I have the time of my life? IT WAS AWESOME!!!!! And not just because of the super cute guides with amazing accents. I honestly wasn’t scared once from the start to the finish. It was at times relaxing, thrilling, hilarious, challenging and so much more. They eased us into it with a 30 minute paddle before we stopped off for a beautiful hike up to a waterfall and hot spring. We followed that with another 45 minutes of rafting before stopping for a much-needed buffet lunch with a riverside backdrop.

YVR Bloggers Rafting Collage at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Our Trip Begins!

Riverside Lunch at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Lunch tastes so much better after risking life and limb

The last 90 minutes of rafting gave us the biggest rapids, all grade 4+, and in all honesty, when it was over, I just wanted to go back and do it all over again! I was so proud of myself, and so grateful for the guide who put me at ease, made me feel safe, and my fellow rafters who had me in stitches and made the trip so much fun!

Rapids Up Close at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Rapids Up Close (Photo Credit hellovancity.com)

So whether you are an adrenaline junkie or a scaredy cat like me, you will love Hyak rafting. And lucky for you, you have an opportunity to win your very own river rafting trip with Hyak Rafting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

These are the awesome bloggers who joined me on the trip; show them some love and read what they thought of their Hyak experience! (missing links coming shortly):

1) Artiden – Grace Miles

2) Butterfly Networking – Carla McNeil

3) Explore – Ryan McKenzie

4) Girl in the World – Kristin Warkentin

5) Global Optimist – Robin Wong

6) Hello Vancity – James Chung

7) In Your Pocket Media – Jessica Hugh

8) Labyrinth Lady – Diana Ng

9) Daddy Blogger – Ricky Shetty

10) Miss Leslie Santos – Leslie Santos

11) More Than Your Average Mom – Sarah Kertcher

12) Seasonal Leaf Design – Reena Venkatesh

13) She’s a Valley Mom – Kristyl Clark

14) The Motherpreneur – Christina Waschko

 

You can also check out this awesome video from fellow blogger/rafter Ryan McKenzie of Explore Mag

YouTube Preview Image

All on the table disclaimer: While I did receive free or discounted products/services, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers. 

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Top 20 Father’s Day Songs

In celebration of Father’s Day, I put together a playlist of some of my favourite songs about Daddies. Some are happy, many are sad (what is it about Dads that brings out the tears??), so grab your kleenex and enjoy! The entire playlist can be found here on my brand spankin’ new YouTube channel.

Father’s Day Playlist

  1. Brian McFadden – Sorry, Love Daddy
  2. Luther Vandross – Dance With My Father Again
  3. Peter Cetera – Apple Of Your Daddy’s Eye
  4. Steven Curtis Chapman – Cinderella
  5. John Mayer – Daughters
  6. Crystal Shawanda – You Can Let Go
  7. Eric Clapton – My Father’s Eyes
  8. Darius Rucker – It Won’t Be Like This For Long
  9. Billy Joel – Lullabye
  10. Jon Barker – Thank-you For Being My Dad
  11. Queen – Father to Son
  12. Lonestar – Let Them Be Little
  13. Paul Simon – Father and Daughter
  14. Harry Chapin – Cats In The Cradle
  15. Keith Urban – Song For Dad
  16. Colin Hay – Dear Father
  17. Steve Earle – Remember Me
  18. Peter Gabriel – Father, Son
  19. Martin Sexton – Friends Again
  20. Sanctus Real – Lead Me

What is your favourite song on the list? What would you add?

Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome Dads out there!

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Dirty Thirty

Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play Dirty Thirty

I’ve been ruminating on what turning 30 means to me, not because I fear or dread it, but I do seem disconnected from it. It doesn’t resonate with me, I don’t feel like it represents me, but I’m not sure why. Maybe I have a warped definition of what being 30 is, although, superficially I do match up to those parameters. I’m my (super old fashioned) mind a typical 30 year old has a few kids, maybe a job or a career, spends lots of time ferrying said kids between activities and school and friends, spends waaaay too much time on the mundane tasks of daily life and too little time on the fun indulgences. 30 means clothes that don’t quite fit the same way anymore and are perhaps a little behind the times (read: mom jeans). All of these things are a part of my daily grind, yet somehow it doesn’t feel like me. Maybe the disconnect is that that conjures an image of a faded Polaroid of a woman with feathered hair and jeans up to her rib cage with a kid in each hip and one around her ankle. Maybe the disconnect is that there is so much more to me then those superficial definitions allow for. Perhaps it’s time that I bring my definition of 30 into the 21st century! With that in mind, here’s an idea of what my redefined definition of 30 is in my world.

Life Love and the Pursuit of Play - 30 is stretch marks

Original photo source https://flic.kr/p/jcvGz4

30 is…..
Approximate Number of stretch marks on my body
Average hours of sleep I get in a week
Number of times I pull my 14 month old out of a life threatening situation in a day
Number of minutes I SHOULD be exercising each day
Blog post ideas running through my head at any given moment
Number of dirty dishes piled up in the kitchen sink
Minimum number of pounds I’d ideally like to drop
Answers to the question “Why” hourly
Number I should count to in an effort to control my temper
Number of times I have moved in my life (it feels like)
Boxes of junk lugged through each of the above mentioned moves that we DO NOT NEED
Renditions of “Let it Go” sung at top volume daily (by my girls)
Number of different email addresses I manage
Email notifications that pop up on my mobile each minute
Number of days it would take me to go through them all (current tally is 928, and unlike above, that’s no exaggeration)
Number of boo-boo’s I kiss better each day
Snuggles, hugs and kisses I get smothered with daily
Number of years I have had to become stronger, wiser, kinder, braver, more gentle, loving and understanding
What does 30 meant to you?
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And the winner is…….

Vancouver Mom Top 30 Mom Blogger Life Love and the Pursuit of Play Heather van Mil

 

When I first started blogging, I wrote that much of the impetus came from the awesome community of bloggers out there that I wanted to join. Imagine my total surprise when – just 9 short months later – I had the honour of being nominated as one of Vancouver Mom’s Top 30 Bloggers! While I’m not planning my acceptance speech anytime soon, it is especially meaningful when I consider the company of amazing bloggers that I have been nominated with. It’s hard to say that without sounding like an insincere suck up, but it’s so true! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of these women away from the screen, and they are a hilarious, inspiring, encouraging group! I continue to learn from them and be supported by them each and every day and am so glad I decided to give ‘this blogging thing’ a shot!

So while you’re busy voting for me here (and you need to do so quickly – voting closes Friday, June 6th!), show some love to these incredible ladies too, you won’t be sorry you did!

Vote Now for Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play as Vancouver Mom's Top 30 Blogger

Vote Now! You know you wanna…..

Blogging has opened doors I could never have imagined, kept me sane from the edge of mental breakdown and so much more! I’m looking forward to reading more of these Top 30 blogs, and meeting new friends/celebrating with the old at the party!

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About Face

golden naturals skincare life love and the pursuit of play product review

Like many other parts of my body, I have had a love/hate relationship with my skin. I loath my big pores and redness, and am endlessly frustrated with dry patches that flake and oily patches that break out, all at the same time! I’ve tried product after product in a fruitless search for “the one” with little success. To complicate matters, we are in the process of detoxifying our household, and that includes my personal care routine.

Serendipity was on my side as I finished up yet another disappointing sample, when I was given the opportunity to test and review Golden Naturals, a carcinogen-free, anti-ageing, natural skincare line. The locally owned and made Pristine line is a fine blend of anti-aging natural and organic ingredients that help nourish and replenish the skin, without causing any side effects or damage to your health. Marinella Nicolosi, the Chartered Herbalist, Face Specialist Esthetician (specializing in advanced noninvasive natural esthetic treatments) took the time to do a consultation with me, before recommending which products would best suit my skin type and problem areas. She also outlined the routine I should follow for maximum results. This was a particularly beneficial step for me as in the past – in an effort to banish the flakes – I would exfoliate every other day, and use a facecloth to scrub away the dead skin when I cleansed each morning. Marinella recommended giving my poor skin a break and washing just using my fingertips, and exfoliating once a week. I will admit I was skeptical!

When the little box arrived on my doorstep a few days later, I was anxious to dive in! I unpackaged everything and lined it up on my sink like my own personal skin care army. After wetting my face with warm water, I started with the exfoliator (another thing I had been doing wrong, previously I always cleansed first). It was very gentle, and smelled gorgeous! Cleanser, toner and moisturizer all followed and then I leaned in for my close up. No word of a lie, my skin glowed. That amazing, serene, ‘from-deep-inside’ glow that I was promised during pregnancy but never materialized was radiating back at me in the mirror. I was amazed! As I continued on with my very light make up routine, I noticed that I still had some dry, flaky patches, and was disappointed but not surprised. I had never found a product that had banished them. I was so happy with the glow though, that I was determine to stick with the test and see how it went. I am thrilled to report that after about a week of following my new routine, not only did my awesome glow shine on each week when I exfoliated, but the flakes disappeared! My skin simply needed some time to adjust to the new routine and – 6 weeks in –  has been happily moisturized ever since.

I would highly recommend these products to anyone looking to not only green up their beauty routine, but discover great skin all at the same time! Luckily, all my awesome readers can do this for less! Click Here before Friday, May 23rd and pick your own favourites then enter promo code GOLDEN-1HVM for a 10% discount!

You can bet that as the countdown to the big 3-0 gets closer to single digits, I will be heavily investing in their amazing age-defying products!

All on the table disclaimer: While I did receive free or discounted products/services, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers.

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The Many Faces of Motherhood

honouring all mothers, whether the babies are in their arms, in their memories or a yearning in their hearts. Infertility, miscarriage, infant and child death

Copyright SarahJane Photography

Over the past few weeks we have been inundated with articles, commercials, advertisements and the like presenting us with “The Top 10 Gifts for Mom” and urging us Dads to “Make This Mother’s Day Special” (read: don’t screw this up!). I love having the opportunity to celebrate my mother and, in the last 6 years, the joy of being pampered by my husband and daughters but there is always a sad note amongst it all.

While Mother’s Day is a celebration of love for many, it is a day of pain and grief for so many more. There are many faces of motherhood, some less obvious then others. There are mothers whose arms are empty; suffering from infertility, miscarriages or the death of a child. The world doesn’t recognize them as mothers but they are and always will be. There are mothers whose families are bigger than the number of place settings on the table would suggest, having the bittersweet situation of having both earth and angel babies. I am one of the fortunate ones, never having experienced this first hand, but I have witnessed the suffering of too many close family and friends, and wanted to recognize and honour them this Mother’s Day, and hopefully encourage others to do the same by raising awareness with these words.

I count myself among the ignorant, the awkward, who didn’t know what to say or how to react so instead was silent and did nothing. I am so sorry to the people I hurt and the feelings I discounted through my lack of maturity and courage. Truthfully, I felt guilty. Guilty that it was easy for me to conceive. Guilty that I was able to carry both of my pregnancies to term. Guilty that, despite some big scares and close calls, I still have 2 healthy girls in my arms. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I don’t want to use guilt as an excuse so I reached out to people to educate me and the rest of the world on what to say and do for those around us who are hurting in this most painful of ways. Here are just a few of the responses.

“The only thing that makes us happy is the acknowledgement that our child existed… and still exists! That our child is remembered. Speak their name. Tell us how beautiful they were. Saying their name brings joy to our broken hearts! And there is no greater satisfaction then keeping their memory alive even after they are physically gone. Let’s remember them, each and every one of them. Forever.”

…..[as if our situation wasn't bad enough] we now have to put up with society’s way of “handling” our situation according to their comfort level. Due to their lack of knowledge on such a “taboo” subject, we, as grieving mothers, must endure some hard, ignorant comments. “You can have more,” “it was meant to be,” “he’s in a better place”… NO! What is a better place for a baby than a mother’s arms?! I feel that after these comments and living in such a clueless society, we deserve this one day. This day, Mother’s Day, where we should all be acknowledged; even if some don’t have a child to show for it.”Milena Iribarren

“Remember that a grieving mom is still a mom. You may not have held that child in your womb, but she did. You may not have had dreams and aspirations for that child, but she did. Be gentle, be courteous, be kind. A simple phone call or message to say that you are thinking of them would mean a lot. If a grieving mom goes on to have a rainbow baby {a baby born after the death of a child; the rainbow after the storm}, take the time to remember the lost child for subsequent mothers days too – grieving does not end when a new child arrives and new babies do not replace angel babies.” ~ Suzanne

So amidst your celebrations this Mother’s Day (and everyday), reach out to someone and say “I’m thinking of you. While I can never understand or take away your grief, your suffering, I am here. Tell me about your pain. I want to share it with you. Tell me how I can honour and recognize you today. I’m sorry I am awkward and don’t know what to say or how to say it, but I want to be there for you.” Realize that while some may not want to share, there will still be appreciation for the gesture you made, and doing something is always better then doing nothing.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, no matter what form you take. You are a mother in our eyes.

This post is dedicated to my 2 unbelievably strong sister-in-laws, and to Perrin Danner & Matteson Grey, the two most beautiful babies I never met. 


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Why you should attend WeCapella vol. 1

WeCapella Vol 1 on life, love and the pursuit of play

When I first started blogging, I wrote that one of my main reasons for jumping in was the incredible community of bloggers that I had found. Humourous, supportive, thought provoking, amazing men and women who both encouraged and challenged me. While we connect often online, between work, family and a million other commitments it is very rare that we all get a chance to meet up in person.

Thankfully the awesome people at Crisp Media and CanAccord have given us the opportunity with WeCapella vol. 1! They say:

Whether you’re a blogger, social media expert, digital documentarian, or if you’d simply like to promote your business online, WeCapella will inspire digital producers and content creators to create impactful, meaningful and innovative content for their audiences.

WeCapella is a live event showcasing the work of some of Vancouver’s best content producers and digital influencers. Using examples from their work and personal experience, our speakers will share with you their methods in creating meaningful and innovative content, with the intent to inspire you to create positive and impactful content for your audience. It is not a how-to. Rather, it’s a forum for you to hear case studies of some of Vancouver’s online content producers and writers.”

They have assembled an incredible line up of speakers including Manda Aufochs Gillespie, Jaeny Baik, Prem Gill, Heather Hawthorn-Doyle, Marc Smith and Linda Solomon Wood.

Given this fantastic content and amazing group of attendees, I know you are dying to join in the fun! Luckily there is still time! Tickets are still available here, and if you use the promo code “VMwecapella10″  you’ll get $10 off the General Admission Price!

Can’t wait to see you there!

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*Giveaway* The Birth of a Literary Critic

Any day that a box shows up on our doorstep is an exciting day, but when that box is full of books, it is an extra special event! We have far too many books for our tiny living space, but I’m only too happy to make the space to indulge our budding bibliophiles.

Raincoast Books graciously provided us with a package of children’s books from Chronicle Books including the titles “I Didn’t Do My Homework Because“, “Lately Lily“, “At the Same Moment Around the World“, “Here Comes Destructosaurus” and “Busy Bunny Days“.

The girls dove right in, enjoying each and every book over and over again (and over and over and over…..). Luckily for me, unlike some mind numbingly boring children’s books out there, all of these books are not only really engaging for both my 1 year old and my 5 year old, but entertaining for the adult reader too! My 13 month prefers the bright colours and shorter text of “Lately Lily” and “Here Come Destructosaurus” (as well as the silly voices Mommy makes when reading). My 5 year old has her own preferences, that she shares so eloquently here in her first video book review:

 

I love the quirky humour in “I Didn’t Do My Homework Because” and “Here Come Destructosaurus”, and the pull out map at the end of “At the Same Moment Around the World”. I appreciate how engaged my 5 year eld is in looking for all the different things in “Busy Bunny Days”, although we often make up our own things to find as, with so many different characters the author created, it is hard to remember who is who just by the name. We always remember that sneaky Benny Badger though!

Because I only share things I truly love, I’m so happy to be able to give away a full set of these awesome books to one lucky reader! Open to Canadians all across the country, enter before May 12th to win now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

All on the table disclaimer: While I did receive free or discounted products/services, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers.