Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hiking with kids in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, North Vancouver

Hiking with my kids is one of the most fun family activities we do. The kids love it, I love it, my husband loves it, and since we got our dog last year: the dog loves it, too.

Living just outside Vancouver on Canada's west coast means we have some spectacular mountains and forests, and parks that are just made for hiking and walking. One of our favourite places to go is on the North Shore, in North Vancouver's Lynn Headwaters Regional Park.

This place has some fantastic variety when it comes to trails. Our go-to trail with the kids and the dog is the lower trail along the river. This is the Lynn Loop/Cedar's Mill trail, and it is a wide, almost entirely flat trail that follows the river. It's very easy to walk: you can bring a stroller here without any problems, for example.

There's plenty of scenery: swirling green river water, giant trees, skunk cabbage, berry bushes and flowers, and all sorts of dogs running around. This part of the trail is leash-optional, and it's a popular place for dogs and people alike. There's easy access to the river in many places, so you can go check out the freezy cold waters on a hot day: our dog loves going for a dip in the water!

On the upper part of the Lynn Loop trail.
This past weekend we went for the full Lynn Loop trail for the first time in a while. For us, this involves starting things off with a steeper, rougher climb up into the higher forest area, eventually coming back down to the river using several sets of wooden stairs and snaking trails in the steep mountain side, and then returning to the exit and parking lot via the trail along the river. It's not a super tough hike for the kids, but that first climb can be a bit hard on kids' and grownup's legs, and the steep descent can also be a little challenging for small kids (or those nervous about slipping and falling).

Can't beat the forest scenery up here!
The trail is gorgeous throughout, and well kept. If you feel really adventurous you can head out on some of the more challenging side trails, like the one heading up to Lynn Peak, or keep going all the way to Norvan Falls. Norvan Falls is a rather long hike and can be rough depending on the weather and time of year, so make sure you have enough time to return safely before dark!

Up close and personal with an old log.
Both the easy trail along the river and the slightly more challenging, full Lynn Loop trail are fantastic to do with kids. They make for a grand day out with lots of fresh air, beautiful trees, and fun things to see in the woods, on and off the trail.

For more information about Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and the trails, check out:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

10 things my kids love about Sweden

Around this time of year my kids usually start dreaming about our annual summer-trip to Sweden. We've been traveling from Vancouver, Canada to Skellefteå, Sweden pretty much every summer since they were babies.

Even though they don't really look forward to the actual journey itself - we usually end up with 3 flights and about 20 hours total travel-time when all is said and done - they do love going to Sweden. Why? Well, here (in no particular order) are 10 things they love about Sweden:

The boat

Both my kids, but especially my son, are absolutely in love with my parents' motor-boat. Can't say that I blame them!

The beach

The small beach right outside my parents' cabin where we stay in the summers is a little bit of heaven on earth. Sand, water, rocks, sun. What more do you need?

Photo via Wikimedia.

Picking blueberries in the woods

We are usually lucky enough to be around for at least some of the summer crop of wild blueberries. The kids love heading into the wood with a pail (and mosquito repellent all over!) to pick the berries.

Piggelin popsicles

My daughter is obsessed with these green popsicles (flavour: tutti-frutti). It's a classic popsicle in a country that is pretty obsessed with ice-cream and popsicles: Piggelin has been around since 1972!

Leos Lekland

This indoor adventure playground with slides, trampolines, and all kinds of other games is a favourite with my kids. It's especially good for rainy days, or if we're visiting in the winter instead of the summer.

Gröna Lund

This huge amusement park in Stockholm was a big hit with my kids last summer. Read all about our visit here.


This old-time farm located in the interior of the county of Västerbotten is a lovely place to visit in summer. There are farm animals, old farm buildings, a small café, home-baked traditional bread for sale (if you're lucky), and best of all (according to my kids): kittens!

The baked goods

Visiting a "konditori", Swedish for patisserie or bakeshop, is a must if you're in Sweden. My kids love picking a treat from the shelves and trays filled with cakes, cookies, and glorious pastries. Lilla Mari in Skellefteå is a great "konditori" to visit if you happen to be in town.

View from Hotel Kung Carl in Stockholm.

 "Staying in a hotel"

We don't always stay in a hotel when we're visiting Sweden, but occasionally we do spend a night or two before heading home in a hotel in Stockholm. My kids seem to think this is a pretty cool thing. Buffet breakfast, and strange new beds with strange new bedding: awesome, right? Read about our stay at Hotel Kung Carl.

Mormor and morfar

Hanging out with grandma and grandpa are of course the biggest reason why my kids love Sweden. It tops my list, too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Air-travel with babies - 10 travel-gear picks

Maybe it's because of the recent birth of the royal baby in England, or maybe it's because some close family members recently had their first baby, but I have had babies on my mind lately. Flying with an infant can be a challenge, but it can also be a lot easier than you might think - if you're lucky, your baby might just eat and sleep their way through the flight. If you're not lucky... well, my mantra for those situations is: "This too shall pass".

Here are 10 travel-gear items that are great when you're traveling with a baby:

1. Pacifier clips & toy straps

Keeping track of all your travel gear is hard enough when you don't have a baby, and with a baby: help is good. A pacifier clip helps keep your baby's soother safe and reasonably clean, and the toy straps can be used to secure various toys to your clothes, a carrier, the baby's stroller, and so on.

2. A diaper bag

A good diaper bag will help you keep your items organized and within easy reach, even in a cramped airplane bathroom. It should also be easy to carry: a backpack model might be just the thing to look for.

3. A portable change pad

Some diaper bags and backpacks include a portable diaper change pad, but if not, it's a good item to pack. Change tables in airport bathrooms and on board might not include any padding at all, and they might also be rather unsanitary!

4. A nursing cover

Breastfeeding can be very convenient when you're traveling: no bottles to clean or formula to heat, and no need for clean water, for example. I'm a big supporter of babies being allowed to eat when and where and how they please - nursing cover or no nursing cover (full babies don't cry as much on board, for one thing). And for those who like using a nursing cover, there are some very nice ones out there.

5. A travel bassinet/bed for your room or the beach

I wish I'd had something like this when my kids were little. A portable bassinet makes it easy to put your baby down safely for a nap anywhere: in a hotel room, at an airport, wherever. And the portable bed with mesh cover is a great idea for the beach: it protects your baby from mosquitoes and the sun!

6. A baby carrier

Baby carriers are awesome when you're on a plane, and everywhere else. They make it easy to carry your baby comfortably, and many babies just love being close and snuggly with mom or dad. Pick the kind you find the most comfortable and easy to use.

7. Travel-friendly baby bottles

If you're not breastfeeding, it really helps to have some travel-friendly baby bottles along. There are many good ones on the market, including several brands with thermos-features, or ways of heating up the formula quickly and easily.

8. Comfortable baby pajamas

Comfortable clothing is a must on a plane, and that goes for babies too. Pick something that is comfortable and easy to change in and out of on board.

9. Fun travel toys

A few well-chosen, easy to bring-along toys can help soothe and entertain your baby. Avoid anything with lots of noise or music, since it will probably end up annoying somebody on board...

10. A bag for wet stuff

Sometimes, you can't avoid little accidents. And just in case you end up with some wet clothes on your trip, a waterproof bag is great to bring along. Of course, you can just use any plastic bag for this purpose, but a washable, reusable bag is not a bad choice either.
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