I grew up in Nova Scotia and spent years in Toronto before ending up in Vancouver. You don’t see the regional differences until you move further and further west. Victorian houses morph into open-concept spaces laden with glass and metal. My sense of tradition is challenged. I learned that there was more than one way to make a tea biscuit or ‘traditional’ tourtiere. Also, manners in the west are more laissez-faire. People are wearing yoga pants to the theatre, and an affirmative RSVP seemed to indicate that people ‘might’ attend a dinner party. Regional differences aside, I really take pride in knowing how to host a beautiful dinner party.
We arrived and my son was crying. Hard. His precious toy camera had been left on the beach the day before and we just discovered it had been swept away by the tide. I was torn between trying to teach a lesson in responsibility and wanting to comfort him. Colin the bellman saw the tears and took over with ease. Grateful, I was so distracted with the trauma of the tears as well as the transferring of the luggage that I hardly remembered to apologize to the valet about the broken lego and stale Cheerios strewn about the car. Colin was phenomenal. He took a loonie (a tip from a previous guest) and gave it to my son. He engaged the 2 boys with a visual magic trick using the coin. He gave them each a coin to keep, which each boy still keeps in a special place. Wow. I wish I could nab Colin away from the hotel to calm the kids all the time!
Our next adventure on the ‘Kids in the City’ program was the kitchen tour. Both of the boys love to set up tea parties and make elaborate dishes for the stuffed animals.
We met Executive Chef Craig Dryhurst, who went over some culinary principles and helped the kids dip organic strawberries in chocolate and adorn them with even better accoutrements – like candied pineapple, white chocolate and berries. My Jr. Chefs were given ‘power cookies’ from chef Ned Bell, an avid cyclist with a keen interest in sustainability. I’m sure he was the force behind the huge urban cultivator in the kitchen that provides fresh microgreens like kale and watercress to patrons of Yew restaurant.
The room made me laugh in a great way. One son is used to my hotel shenanigans, filming and photographing before anyone is allowed to touch a thing. When I ‘released the hounds’ they both made for the soft beds, and jumped, exclaiming ‘This is first class Mom!!’
The Playzone was a favourite of the kids, and not only did we play together as a family, but I gently encouraged the boys to ask the concierge desk for various controllers by themselves. Typically shy, they overcame the emotion and practiced their manners. We played fussball, guitar hero, ping pong, air hockey, wii and genesis. There was a movie area suitable for toddlers to teens, as well as books and a nap nook.
Dinner at Yew is always an experience, but never so much as when your kids don suits and ties. Megan, our server, paid close attention to the needs of the boys, and the food was spectacular. The Moscow Mule (discovered via the iPad menu on the table) has become our signature drink at the Four Seasons Vancouver, and I am still attempting to replicate the salmon crab fishcake served with mango salsa that we devoured to begin. A fruit and bunny-shaped cheese plate delighted the boys. At every stage of the meal, they were treated as special guests. The kids had buttermilk fried chicken, fish and chips (translated into gourmet terms as Cloud 9 gluten-free crispy halibut, kennebec fries, lime caper and scallion dip). My dish was perhaps the most interesting and special. No vegan dish has ever tasted so good. The gemelli pasta was mixed with sambal roasted cashews, chili, herbs, and woodland mushrooms to produce a creamy, earthy treasure of a meal. We finished with a block of neapolitan homemade ice cream, a twist on 1960’s ice cream parlor culture.
Full and happy, we ignored the special critters left in room for story time and headed to the pool area. Part of ‘Kids in the City’, the patio area looked like a high-end carnival. White towels and bottled water sat on lounge chairs with red cushions and traditional red and white-striped popcorn was served to each guest while we watched ‘Despicable Me’ with popcorn in hand. The boys wore their ‘tiny robes’ with the hotel’s signature tree logo, feeling very special.
Lauren runs the childrens’ programs and mentioned that the pool and spa area design are advantageous to parents, who can work out while watching kids in pool.
She was running kids activities the next morning, assisting little ones in playing with water balloons, painting Canadian flags on smooth rocks and instructing kids at shuffleboard. We were leaving the area on completion of the crafts, and all of a sudden my son ran back. He had forgotten his rock like he had done with the camera just one day before.
Perhaps precious family bonding time, along with a few magic tricks and learning how to politely ask for contollers or dessert had taught a much better lesson than any scolding I could have done. The city can teach many lessons, especially with the Four Seasons at the helm.
‘Kids in the City’ runs each summer and during the winter holidays at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.
Disclosure: We were hosted for a night at the hotel in order to complete our story and experience the magic.
When Crystal Symphony got a makeover, we knew it would be spectacular. We were given the chance to tour Crystal Cruises‘ new $15 million renovation of the Symphony and we were blown away. Crystal offers an all-inclusive experience, helping guests to be able to truly relax without worrying about tips and beverage charges. The recipient of the Conde Nast award for best cruise line 20 years in a row, Crystal has adapted to changing demographics and passenger needs (the average passenger age is 47) by relaxing the dress code, though you will still see loads of tuxes. Menus have also undergone a fresh makeover, with modern cuisine left side of and the traditional on the right. The only luxury cruise line to offer children and teen areas, I found the design of these spaces fresh and innovative.
Onboard there are 2 specialty restaurants – the Silk Road Sushi bar and Italian and guests can reserve these spaces twice per trip. The gym has been refit with new equipment by techno gym (the same machines that World Cup teams use to train.)
Edie Rodriguez, President and CEO of Crystal Cruises, started with the company in 2013 but loved ships so much that she came aboard a cruise anonymously prior to her tenure. The staff wowed her with their memory of guest names and their attention to her unique breakfast desires. In time she heard stories of one staff member ordering a recliner for a guest to fulfil a need, and many crew members who have accompanied passengers ashore for medical treatment. Aspiring to be across the globe, Rodriguez has big plans for the company, adding a third ship in 2018 and gearing up to celebrate Crystal’s anniversary in July.
The unique tours for late risers, bespoke adventures and voluntourism opportunities while aboard were very exciting and it was clear that innovation with a perfect balance of tradition flood from every Crystal experience.
Computer University @ Sea began 20 years ago and allows passengers to create websites, hone their computer skills and share details of their journey with loved ones back home. Every computer can run a PC or Mac interface. They also offer iPad and iMovie classes.
The “teens only” hang-out Waves features new Casalina chairs and Marimekko-patterned Fatboy bean bags, and Fantasia has been redesigned for younger kids. All enjoy Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, Kinect, wide-screen TVs, and supervised age-specific activities.
I certainly would love to cruise with my family on this ship – perhaps my son can use the gym equipment and fulfill his dream of being in a World Cup one day!
The large oval Springfree trampoline arrived and one by one, the neighbours came around with a mixture of curiosity and excitement in their smiles. A few friendly dogs wandered by as eagles peeked out of their high nests. I could have been living in the Cinderella movie.
As a child I never had a trampoline. My dad was a physical education teacher and he shared scary statistics about accidents and injuries. When we moved into our current neighbourhood and had children, the local trampoline was both wonderous and daunting. I firmly believe in kids exercising through play, but the huge rectangular mat held by metal springs and rods felt very unsafe. Wanting them to take advantage of all of the cardio benefits of trampoling, I tried rules… ‘only in the middle’. ‘One at a time’. ‘Only when an adult is watching’. But none of these solutions made me feel safe, and it was increasingly hard to clean the house or make dinner when I was standing stressfully watching the kids jump and wondering what I would possibly do if they broke something – or worse. When my son got with a cut due to jamming his bare foot in one of the springs, I’d had enough.
Fast forward to the sunny day when our Springfree arrived. The kids were out at a friend’s and as I watched the crew set it up, my mind raced. I could jump on it every day and eliminate the need for a cardio machine that would hurt my back! The kids could be zipped in one at a time and I could spend time making a healthy dinner without supervising them. OOOH – the neighbour’s toddler could come and use it like a giant playpen! Maybe I could fill it with beachballs…. On and on the ideas streamed. The boys returned home and I didn’t hear whining for three hours. I had to keep going to check on them and the giggles were endless. They wanted their dinner served inside their new ‘fort’.
The Kids’ Perspective on the Springfree Trampoline (in their words):
– You Bounce high – higher than the other trampoline that has rusty springs that cut our feet last time.
– There’s a basketball net and you can do slam dunks without breaking it.
– The nets around the outside help you to play soccer because the ball bounces right back to you and there are no metal rods holding them up to hurt ourselves on.
– The kitten loves to play on it and we chase him around and around while we giggle. He thinks the nets are fun to claw, and they don’t break.
– The mat on the bottom is really cushy and feels good to jump on.
– The staff from Springfree brought over all of the cartons, set up the whole trampoline, tested it by jumping (too cute), and left two hours later with all of the garbage.
– I feel safe and comfortable leaving the kids to jump without my constant supervision.
– Because there are no springs – just flexible rods located underneath and there is netting around the perimeter, my typical concerns about trampolines have been put to rest.
“This post was sponsored by Springfree Trampoline. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.”
Kiss and Makeup isn’t your typical beauty store. An apothecary with a focus on local products and natural beauty regimes, this is one of the hottest beauty experiences around. I’ve heard that celebrities make special jaunts to the new Londsale location while filming in Vancouver, and with the new venue opening in Olympic Village in July, it’s now skytrain accessible. But don’t fret if you can’t come to YVR in person. That’s what the web shop is for.
- Scarves and perfect-for-Coachella ponchos by Jackson Rowe
- Bags by Lloyd and Wolf
- Happy Spritz
- Everything Rahua
- Verso and Rouge Bunny Rouge (exclusive to Kiss and Makeup)
- Sjal Beauty (The Canadian version of Creme de la Mer)
- Blind barber from NYC
- Ilya beauty, CV Skinlabs and rms beauty – (local brands and have exploded into the celebrity market)
I bought some Creme Ancienne by Fresh that was hand-mixed by Monks in France – (I couldn’t make that up). After using it a month the compliments just keep rolling in. But more are always better so feel free to keep them coming. Or you can tell me in person when we bump into each other at Kiss and Makeup.
Always top of mind when you are pregnant is the stroller. This year we’ve put together our top strollers for 2015 with luxury in mind.
1. The Cadillac of strollers. The Silver Cross was beloved by our own mothers while walking on bustling urban streets and it’s back with a vengeance in partnership with Aston Martin. And kick-ass wheels (of course). Oh, and it includes a 100% cashmere baby blanket.
2. Young Versace makes a beautiful carseat/bassinete/stroller system for a child from 0-3 years. The medusa logo is embroidered on the bedding, and the handle features a latte holder. Which you will absolutely need.
3. The Fendi Inglesina stroller line features a shock-absorbing pram and also a versatile foldable toddler stroller adorned with the signature ‘Double F’ fabric. There’s a gorgeous baby carrier as well.
4. One of the North American preferred brands has been Bugaboo. Easy to shift, sexy to push and with tons of accessories like umbrellas and jogging extensions, this is a well-priced, durable model. Special editions by Diesel, Andy Warhol and Kaviar Gauche are also available.
5. The Stokke line takes ergonimics very seriously, and the strollers are super easy to adjust. We love the design and how they look as if they are hovering on one bar with your tiny one floating!
6. iCandy is another UK brand who stands behid innovation. Soon they will launch a custom line, and even if you don’t want to design your own, the vibrant colours in the existing roster are spectacular. iCandy also offers limited editions.
What mother doesn’t dream of reading to her baby in a stunningly beautiful space like this luxury nursery by Savio Fermino? The canopy above the crib softens the lines of the room, and classic cream is used both to soothe and promote gender neutrality.
Savio Firmino was established in Florence in 1941 by Mr Firmino Savio. The Company has been operating for 70 years. And lucky us.. there is now a store in the US located in Coral Gables. Petit Tresor is the exclusive dealer and ships worldwide.
We sourced these images while on a jaunt to Harrod’s in London and the trip certainly rekindled my true love for everything baby!
It’s taken me an awfully long time to write about Half Moon Resort, Jamaica. It’s like part of me wanted to hold it inside because once it’s out there, it’s gone. This property is by far the most wonderful family destination I had ever had the honour to visit. A private dolphin cove, a kids club with villas specializing in certain skills, an equestrian centre and countless pools, I was shocked that I’d been invited to a place where British royalty has stayed.
In my own ocean-side villa, one memory replays in my head. After long days that one experiences on press trips that garner little sympathy from friends watching on facebook, I dropped my camera, laptop and bags on my doorstep, followed by my clothes. I did have a bikini on, but I would have done the same without. I ran into the warm ocean while the sun nodded into the water and I am not sure I have ever been so relaxed in my life. Going back into my room I smiled at the furniture made on property, covered in rich upholstery and called my kids from the sitting room. The bedroom smelled of jasmine and fresh Blue Mountain coffee that the resort had left as a gift. Could tomorrow be more magical?
Well, yes. Because after a day of touring I was writing by the bar and happened to meet Rohan Marley. Son of Bob. And owner of Marley coffee. We chatted. I was in awe. Spitting image-awe.
The next morning I experienced the spa. Yes, you may hate me. Gentle, skilled esthiticians recognized what I needed and even gifted me a bag of leaves to take home. The leaves were a tea for a foot bath that would drain out the toxins. I bought ergonomic flip flops and wanted never to leave.
Meals at the resort were taken in the main restauraunt or on the patio just outside while overlooking the ocean. Breakfast could have simply been the exquisite natural juices from fruits I’d never heard of, but they insisted on bringing more and more food, both traditional and Jamaican-inspired.
One evening we meandered on the property and attended an outdoor dinner that showcased local fare. WOW! I spoke to locals about spices, customs and regional flavours, and couldn’t stop eating. (No bikini photos from this point on).
The Sugar Mill restaurant is the jewel of Half Moon. And if you can manage it at all, try to connect with David Barber over dinner – the General Manager who exudes passion for travel and a true love of Jamaica. The food was subtle yet bursting with taste, and I learned from another travel writer (Laura Manske of Parade) how to properly light dishes for photography using the flashlight of a cellphone.
You must go. You may spot a royal. Or you may just have a life-changing moment in the ocean with the property’s dolphins after meeting one of Bob Marley’s sons.
Disclosure: UrbanMommies was hosted by Half Moon Resort on a media trip to Jamaica.
It’s one of those things you strive to do as a vacation, and yet so elusive that few manage. Sailing for a week on a catamaran in Bocas del Toro Panama with four cabins, a captain and a first mate was the pinnacle of relaxation. If it sounds like a dream to you, you’re right.
We flew to Panama with only carry-on and grabbed a puddle-jumper operated by Nature Air into Bocas del Toro. The heat was thick and local kids entertained themselves with checkerboards on their laps in puddle-filled playgrounds. The town was more rustic than Ambergris Caye, Belize, but also more economical and diverse in cuisine. The boat is moored in Red Frog Marina on the island of Bastimentos, and many water taxi operators were jumping at the chance to take us for $10 each.
Tradewinds Cruise Club is an all-inclusive vacation ownership sailing fleet with boats across the globe. RCI members can exchange once every four years to experience the yachts or individuals can purchase weeks within Tradewinds Cruise Club. There is a maintenance fee to be paid yearly to maintain the boats as well as an all-inclusive fee per week for the charters.
Our first time using the boat, we were greeted warmly by the crew and the manager and we happily paid our all-inclusive fee which covered food, drink, snorkelling, scuba diving (for Tradewinds members), housekeeping, mooring fees and water sports.
We boarded Jade, a 42 foot catamaran, and I began to relax. The forward cabins are spacious and each of the four rooms has an ensuite. Our double bed offered storage beneath, and a closet and dresser created ample space for our belongings. Shoes are not needed on the boat, and swimsuits, a sarong and a few light dresses were all that we needed. Clothes can dry on the deck with the clothespins supplied and devices can be charged when the generator is active. Toilet paper cannot be flushed, but water is not an issue like on many boats as Jade is equipped with a water maker that turns seawater to fresh.
Though I had purchased a Panamanian SIM card, my phone didn’t always work on the remote islands. Which marked the first time since starting UrbanMommies in 2006 that I was truly unplugged and ‘forced’ to relax. And it was pure magic.
So I read a book while swinging on the hammock on deck. We slept on the trampoline one night. I held a monkey. I bartered in Spanish with a local fisherman who approached our boat in a dugout canoe with lobsters he’d caught free diving. (We purchased enough for the guests and crew for $3 each and the first mate was happy to cook the tails!) We saw a nurse shark while diving and seahorses and squid snorkeling.
We toured Green Acres Organic chocolate farm (whose chocolate was featured on the series Naked Dating, filmed on location) and hiked the jungle rainforest with poison dart frogs at our feet and howler monkeys overhead. I found a stash of sea urchins and coral washed up on a beach and was devastated by the amounts of garbage left on a tiny island by tourists who arrive daily by water taxi to enjoy its beauty. We talked global politics with the others on the boat. Together we represented Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Sweden. Sharing one’s culture and opinions in such a close setting was powerful.
The end of the week was bittersweet. Three gourmet meals had been prepared for us daily and somehow I adjusted to not doing the dishes. Every afternoon brought a new blender drink while we floated on noodles in the ocean.
I’d had a couple of showers, but swimming in seawater multiple times per day allowed me to cross that chore off my list quite frequently. I was more relaxed that I had been in years and I am counting the days until I can get back on a boat – but next time I hope to share the experience with my boys.
Every year, we feature the top girls and boys’ baby names across Canada, and this year certainly didn’t disappoint! We use lists put forth by Vital Statistics departments from across Canada’s provinces and territories. Did your baby’s name make the top 100? Or maybe you read our Unique Baby Names article because you didn’t want your little one on this list! Tell us in the comments! Unique or popular?
Presenting… The Top Baby Names in Canada 2014
Top Names for Girls in 2014:
|1. Emma||26. Willa||51. Lydia||76. Grace|
|2. Olivia||27. Camille||52. Evelyn||77. Olive|
|3. Emily||28. Brooke||53. Hazel||78. Adelaide|
|4. Lily||29. Emmett||54. Everly||79. Louisa|
|5. Isabella||30. Ivy||55. Stella||80. Ada|
|6. Madison||31. Matilda||56. Ruby||81. Maisie|
|7. Lea||32. Amelia||57. Arabella||82. Rose|
|8. Abigail||33. Ellie||58. Esme||83. Evangeline|
|9. Ava||34. Maya||59. Willow||84. Caroline|
|10. Sophia||35. Gemma||60. Sadie||85. Kinsley|
|11. Harper||36. Scarlett||61. Luna||86. Lexi|
|12. Hannah||37. Aurora||62. Charlotte||87. Piper|
|13. Savannah||38. Avery||63. Seraphina||88. Mackenzie|
|14. Cora||39. Imogen||64. Violet||89. Clara|
|15. Elsa||40. Jade||65. Zoe||90. Eloise|
|16. Madeline||41. Hailey||66. Eleanor||91. Phoebe|
|17. Jane||42. Aubrey||67. Rosalie||92. Poppy|
|18. Ainsley||43. Lila||68. Claire||93. Aurelia|
|19. Genevieve||44. Chloe||69. Mia||94. Harlow|
|20. Lola||45. Maeve||70. Delilah||95. Eliza|
|21. Beatrice||46. Nora||71. Emmeline||96. Aria|
|22. Elizabeth||47. Josephine||72. Quinn||97. Mila|
|23. Mae||48. Audrey||73. Lucy||98. Iris|
|24. Peyton||49. Alice||74. Juliet||99. Ella|
|25. Cordelia||50. Penelope||75. Anabella||100. Zara|
Top Names for Boys in 2014:
|1. Liam||26. Nathan||51. Callum||76. Nathaniel|
|2. Ethan||27. Logan||52. Evan||77. Beckett|
|3. Mason||28. Felix||53. Landon||78. Zane|
|4. Benjamin||29. Atticus||54. Andrew||79. Oliver|
|5. Jacob||30. Kieran||55. Charles||80. Eli|
|6. Hunter||31. Nico||56. Lincoln||81. Micah|
|7. William||32. Grayson||57. Spencer||82. Emmett|
|8. Carter||33. Tristan||58. Gabriel||83. Levi|
|9. Aiden||34. Henry||59. Owen||84. Archer|
|10. Noah||35. Elijah||60. Ryder||85. Luca|
|11. Matthew||36. George||61. Bodhi||86. Elliot|
|12. Alexander||37. Jasper||62. Oscar||87. Charlie|
|13. Christian||38. Cameron||63. Luke||88. Leo|
|14. Theo||39. Quinn||64. James||89. Ezra|
|15. Blake||40. Simon||65. Miles||90. Zachary|
|16. August||41. Declan||66. Dylan||91. Rowan|
|17. Knox||42. Sebastian||67. Finn||92. Sawyer|
|18. Lucas||43. Milo||68. Rhys||93. Everett|
|19. Emerson||44. Hudson||69. Daniel||94. Avery|
|20. Caleb||45. Isaac||70. Finley||95. Wyatt|
|21. Jude||46. Hugo||71. Kai||96. Xavier|
|22. Harrison||47. Thomas||72. Arthur||97. Jackson|
|23. Connor||48. Nolan||73. Julian||98. Roman|
|24. Flynn||49. Jonah||74. Samuel||99. Axel|
|25. Asher||50. Max||75. Jack||100. Cooper|