2022 Family-Friendly Christmas Outings around YVR

It is no secret that anything Christmas related is my JAM! I love the smells, the treats, the songs… I can even withstand an immense amount of cold if it means I get to walk around and look at twinkle lights. So because I love Vancouver Christmas (and you) I have compiled my list of favourite Family-Friendly Christmas Outings around YVR.

Capilano Suspension Bridge- Canyon Lights: 

Where: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver, BC

When: November 19, 2022 – January 22, 2023

Park Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Tickets: 

Adult tickets: $62.95

Senior tickets: $57.95

Student tickets (18+): $49.95

Youth tickets (13-17): $34.95

Child tickets (6-12): $24.95

Drink hot chocolate as you wander through the glowing rainforest that is Canyon Lights. There’s something for everyone (unless you’re not into heights… then I would suggest you skip this one). This is a must-see for visitors to Vancouver, and BC Residents enjoy admission for one full year from the date of purchase for the price of one day’s regular admission. 

Burnaby Village Museum- Heritage Christmas: 

Where: 6501 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby, BC 

When: November 26-December 18, 2022

Monday-Friday, 1-5:30 pm*

Saturday-Sunday, 1-9 pm

*December 5, 1-4 pm

December 19, 2022-January 2, 2023

Daily, 1-9 pm

Closed December 24 and 25

Tickets:

Gate admission is free. 

Burnaby Village Museum is the sweetest little step back in time, and its Christmas events are that much more special. Scavenger hunts, live music, and visits from Father Christmas, you don’t want to miss this FREE event. 

Museum of Surrey:

Where: 17710 56a Ave, Surrey, BC

When: November 26, 2022- December 18, 2022

Kick Off event: November 25, 2022 1:00-4:00pm

Tickets:

FREE Event

Donations Accepted: While admission is free, MOS is collecting new, unopened toys and non-perishable food donations for the Cloverdale Community Hamper. Leave yours at the front desk before touring the trees.

I always love events at the Museum of Surrey. They always have crafts for the kiddos, this event will have a visit from Santa, and of course a viewing of all the Christmas trees decorated by local Cloverdale businesses. 

Vandusen Gardens- Festival of Lights:

Where: 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver, British Columbia 

When: November 25, 2022- January 2, 2023

4:00 pm – 10:00 pm daily (Last entry 8:30 pm – 9:00 pm)

Tickets:

Tickets are not sold on sight:

Adult (19-64)- $21.00

Senior (65+): $15.50

Child (5-12): $11.00

Children 4 & under: FREE

This event always feels so magical. Make sure to bundle up for a beautiful stroll around 15 acres of over one million lights. And don’t worry, if you get chilly you can get cozy with warm beverages and snacks. This event is outdoors, rain or shine… I’d say snow but it’s Vancouver and rain feels far more likely.

Christmas Night Train:

Where: Bear Creek Park

When: December 1st-31st (6-9pm)

Tickets: $12.60 per person (children under 2 are free)

This event is super kiddo friendly; think, the kid version of Vandusen Gardens, with the added bonus of a Christmas train. Beautiful light displays, and pictures with Santa… who could ask for anything more? Santa Express happens as a separate event, so be sure to book tickets for the appropriate events. Check their website for more details.

Arts Nursery:

Where: 8940 192ST, Surrey, BC, Canada

When: Holiday Premiere- Saturday November 19th and November 20th 11am-4pm

Free Admission

Celebrate the Arts Nursery Seasonal Collections with hot chocolate in hand, live music, cookies, workshop demos, and of course shot holiday decor, gifts, greenery & plants. There will also be people and pet photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4th, 11am-4pm (by donation, proceeds going to Dhana Metta Animal Rescue.

Lights at Lafarge Lake : 

Where: Lafarge Lake

When: Kick-Off- Saturday, Nov. 26 from 5 – 8 p.m. at Town Centre Park

Tickets: Free Admission

This beautiful, free event is a great opportunity to take in the views at Lafarge Lake and of course, see all the light displays. I’ve only been once and I remember it being lovely and incredibly cold so bundle up.

Vancouver Christmas Market:

Where: Jack Poole Plaza-1055 Canada Place Vancouver, BC.

When: Nov 12 – 25: open 4 pm to 9:30 pm (Fr and Sat until 10:00 pm)

Nov 26 – Dec 23: open 11:30 am to 9:30 pm (Fr and Sat until 10:00 pm)

Dec 24: open 11:30 am to 6:00 pm

Tickets:

Kids 0-6: Free

Adult (18-64): $17.99-$21.99 (check dates online)

Youth (7-17): $9.99-$13.99 (check dates online)

Senior (65+): $14.99-$18.99 (check dates online)

Annual Pass: $35.99

Give me all the food and german drinks and sweets, the Vancouver Christmas Market will get you in all the feels! My fav is the carousel (I can’t wait to take little girl on it this year). Check out their website as they have more details about parking deals etc. 

Fly Over Christmas:

Where: 201 – 999 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC V6C 3E1

When: November 7, 2022- December 31, 2022

Tickets:

Adult: $25-$33 (check dates online)

Children 12 and under: $10 off the adult price

Mainland Winter Market: 

Where: West Coast Gardens- 1420 172 St, Surrey, BC

When: Weekends, Nov 12-Dec 18

9am-5pm Saturdays

10am– 5pm Sundays

Tickets: 

VIP Tickets- $12.95

Pictures with Santa- $29.95

Food & Toy Drive Donations encouraged

I am super excited for this market and privileged to be one of their social media ambassadors. Come check out this beautiful market filled with local creator booths, food trucks, Santa photos, gift wrapping and even some local children’s book authors joining the market for readings. Check them out on social media for updates as each weekend has unique, special features to enjoy.

Bright Nights in Stanley Park: 

Where: Pipeline Road in Stanley Park 

When: December 1, 2022 to January 1, 2023

4pm to 10pm

Monday, December 5, Tuesday, December 6, and Sunday December 25

Tickets: By Donation

Bright Nights has been my longest running Christmas Tradition. I have gone with friends, students and their families, church groups, and most recently my sweet baby girl and my hubs. Though this year the Christmas Train will not be running, they will still have tons of light displays, food, drinks, entertainment, with all of the proceeds going towards the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund. 

Are you going to be indulging in holiday events this year? Let me know if you have a favourite Christmas event in YVR that I need to check out. 

Top 5 Fall Family Activities (that aren’t scary & won’t break the bank) around YVR

I love all that Fall has to offer and I also love the cutesy side of Halloween. I also love not spending all of my money trying to show my kid a good time, can I get an amen?  If you are looking for fun (not scary and not super costly) activities for your family this October, I have got you covered. 

Loft Country Farms

We visited Loft Country Farms for the first time this year and it was SO much fun! Honestly, I didn’t expect there would be so much to do and see, but we probably could have spent the whole day there. Pony rides, panning for gems, petting zoo, gourmet hot dogs and desserts, a western shootout, wagon rides, tractor rides, and of course the pumpkin patch. As a mom with a potty training 3 year old, I also really appreciated the cleanliness of their washrooms (let’s be real: this is something I appreciate with or without a kid lol). 

Online Pricing:
General Admission (Ages 3 and up) – $13.50 
Family Admission (2 parents and their children) – $54

They also have season passes available. 

Location: 2640 248 St, Langley, BC V4W 2R2

Laity Pumpkin Patch

It’s been a couple years since we have visited Laity Pumpkin Patch so we’re really excited to check it out again this year. 

Public Admission Rates

Weekend/Holiday Rate: $12.00 each (ages 3 and up) – incl. GST & ticket fees

Weekday Rate: $9.00 each (ages 3 and up) – incl. GST
(please note: Mon, Oct 10th and Fri, Oct 21st are holiday rates)

Ages 2 and under – Free (with paying adult)

South location: 12725 Laity St, Maple Ridge, BC V4R 2P2

North location: 21145 128 Ave, Maple Ridge, BC V4R 2R9

Art Knapps Surrey:

This one was a cute little surprise! You can buy pumpkins, visit their candy story, ride their train, and even partake in some mini-golf! The train rides are only $3.50 a person, and run every half-hour. They do have some “scary-ish” decorations (my kiddo was not into the giant sparkly purple spider… but it was all pretty tame). 

Location: 4391 King George Blvd, Surrey, BC V3Z 1G6

Circus Osorio

Okay this is not fall specific, but a super fun outing around town this October. Tickets are $25 for adults, and each adult ticket comes with 2 free kids tickets (under 10). October 13, 2022 – October 17, 2022

Location: Coquitlam B.C. Coquitlam Centre – 2929 Barnet Highway, Coquitlam BC V3B 5R5

Arts Nursery Scarecrow Stroll

This is such a great FREE activity to enjoy with the kiddos (I mean, “Free” if you don’t buy yourself a ton of houseplants and pumpkins). 60+ Scarecrows to see, a pumpkin patch, and of course so many beautiful plants. We went during the week and there was an Ice Cream truck on site, but word on the street is the weekend has live music and food trucks. Open from 9:00am-6:00pm Mon-Sat, and 9am-5pm Sundays from Sep 24-Oct 31

Location: 8940 192nd Street, Surrey, BC, Canada, V4N 3W8

If you want to stay up to date on fun family activities around Greater Vancouver Area make sure to follow me on Instagram & TikTok @theashleyrhapsody

A Gentle Birth: Suubi’s Birth Story

“How has your ‘Gentle Project’ been going since the baby, Ashley?” I am condescendingly asked. “Are you up to your eyeballs in cloth diapers and compost?” Serves me right for being drawn to such smart ass friends. 

Yes, since having baby, my blogging for the Gentle Project has taken a bit of a back seat. I arrogantly thought babies just slept and ate all day so surely I would be able to commit to writing… but alas…

With that said, part of my Gentle Project was also about being gentle with myself; my heart, my emotions, and my body. The season of pregnancy, the experience of childbirth, and my survival through postpartum has indeed been a crash course in self-care and gentleness. In that spirit, I wanted to use my final Gentle Project post to share about my birth experience, what I have learned about self-care and the power of gentle thoughts.

Not-So-Gentle Birth Ideas

“Gentle” was never a word I associated with childbirth. In fact, I had never met anyone who, in my opinion, was more afraid of childbirth than me. Fear was a HUGE struggle for me long before I was even pregnant. Television, movies, and other people’s horror stories contributed to me believing that birth was a nightmare women had to survive, as opposed to a natural activity our bodies knew how to perform.

Fast forward to postpartum-me and I can confidently say I enjoyed my childbirth experience. I would even go as far as using the term “gentle.” My pregnancy wasn’t perfect, my birthing experience wasn’t perfect, but I did indeed enjoy it. 

My running joke during pregnancy was that I felt great until I visited a doctor and they told me all the things that were potentially wrong with me. With every doctors visit we would learn of something new detected in my blood or something seen in a sonogram, I would panic, and then the next appointment they would say they couldn’t find any problems… so I never knew what to expect, other than that I was expecting.

I started reading and researching about pregnancy and childbirth, even though my doctor told me never to Google anything ever. What can I say? I’m a rebel. A lot of what I read was SO negative and scary, I started understanding why my doctor discouraged me from my internet research, but in fairness, the doctors were just as scary. 

Hypnobirthing and Other Gentle Things

Somewhere around the 12 week mark, a dear friend of mine asked me if I had ever heard of hypnobirthing, and encouraged me to listen to a podcast from Russel Brand (yes, that Russel Brand) where he interviews a woman by the name of Katharine Graves about Hypnobirthing. 

There were three factors in me having a gentle pregnancy and birth: a supportive partner, my “doula” friend, and hypnobirthing! When I first heard about Hypnobirthing I summoned images of a stage performer hypnotizing audience members into clucking like chickens and embarrassing themselves. Then as I started learning more about it I summoned images of crunchy hippies lighting serenity candles, and braiding their armpit hair. I remained a skeptic for a long time, even when seeing it’s benefits during pregnancy, but after coming out on the other side of childbirth, I’m happy to report there was nothing crunchy, hippy, or stage performer about it. I could go on and on about what hypnobirthing is, but that would be a different (really long) blog post. If you want more info go to the experts here. 

Upon the discovery of hypnobirthing I immediately changed my approach to birth. Instead of being an experience I had to “endure,” I started looking at it as the amazing life-changing, life-starting experience it is. I started shutting people down when they’d see my swollen belly and feel inclined to tell me about their traumatic labour experience (everyone from the well meaning ladies at work, to random strangers in the grocery store. I also grabbed a stranger-woman’s boob in the grocery store when she grabbed my pregnant belly… but that’s a story for another time. Well, actually, that’s pretty much the whole story. I’m not into unsolicited touch. The end.) I stopped watching TV shows when birth was being depicted as a screaming, bloody, horror show, and I was also careful with how I spoke about pregnancy and birth. 

IMG_0787
The day before I went into labour (featuring cute pregnant belly: great to compliment, not recommended to touch without asking.)

Funny enough, I found a lot of people struggled with me speaking positively about birth. Many felt inclined to “take me down a peg” when I spoke about what I enjoyed about pregnancy or what I looked forward to in birth. I quickly learned that complaining was far more socially acceptable than being positive. 

Suubi’s birth was an amazing experience. It did not go as I planned, but I was prepared for my plans to change and to go with the flow… so in that way, it went according to plan. 

I planned and hoped for a short labour, no drugs, and natural delivery. That was the dream. I was hoping to be like those women who feel a sneeze coming on and then whoop, a baby.

IMG_2270
One’s high on gas, the other one is high on life.

IMG_2273
My birth team, clearly having a blast.

I laboured for a few more hours than expected (48 more hours actually), and after successfully dilating to seven centimetres, ended up having an “emergency” cesarian section (“emergency” is in quotes because it did not feel like an emergency; we calmly came to the conclusion that c-section was the best route, and 8 hours later, there we were). KmyXVl2BTqy1Mbk7oTJC2Q

Though Suubi’s birth turned out a lot different than I planned, anything I was able to have some control over went beautifully. My time labouring at home was peaceful and quiet. The people who surrounded me were positive, encouraging, and empowering. I listened to music, cracked jokes, and felt an absolute gentleness around the whole experience.

IMG_0744

Hypnobirthing helped me not only in pregnancy, and labour, it also helped me during postpartum. It taught me how to speak and think kindly about my body, my feelings, and my baby. It taught me to be  prepared with close friends to support me and check in on me. Most importantly, it assured me that I know what’s best for myself and my child, and that I am allowed to advocate for my own care.

Living Gently 

I recognize, statistically, that the experience of birth for many women can be quite scary and dangerous. I recognize the privilege I have to live where I do, with the medical care I have, in the skin I have. It is not lost on me the absolute blessing [miracle] it is to have a healthy baby and an incredibly supportive husband.

I wrote this post out probably about 14 times. I was meant to post this in December but kept second guessing myself. I didn’t want to feel like I was rubbing salt in the wound for anyone. I didn’t want to trigger those who have struggled. 

But I also think about pre-pregnancy me. I think about the YEARS I spent fearing something that turned out to be one of the best experiences I have ever had. I know how much I needed to hear from somebody that birth could be gentle and not terrifying. I know that not everyone’s experience can be guaranteed, but if I have learned anything from this year of The Gentle Project it’s that there is no harm in attempting to live more kindly, and more gently, no matter how imperfectly. 

How to Keep your Husband Alive

When I got married to my husband, Giddy, I had a lot of people volunteer relationship advice:

  • Never let the sun go down on your anger
  • Men want sex all the time; prepare yourself
  • Your first year of marriage is going to be hard 
  • Never say “you always,” or “you never” 

And then, of course, I got a ton of unsolicited advice about when, where, and how we were to have children. 

But of all the advice I received, no one warned me of what would be the greatest challenge my marriage would face. 

The dreaded question: “What are we going to eat for dinner?” 

I knew before we got married that Giddy had a very specific list of foods he would not eat:

  • Shepherd’s Pie 
  • Lasagna 
  • Sandwiches 
  • Soup
  • Pirogies
  • Macaroni and Cheese

In my mind that left me with: 

  • Chicken
  • Rice 
  • Potatoes
  • Left-over chicken, rice, and potatoes 

At first I thought he had merely had bad experiences with these foods but surely he would like my versions of them. 

Giddy would sit quietly at the dinner table looking at me as I devoured my handcrafted sandwich. 

Me: “What?”

G: “I don’t eat sandwiches”

Me: “But you haven’t tried THIS sandwich” 

G: “I don’t eat sandwiches” 

Me: “Why don’t you just try it before you decide it’s not for you.” 

G: “I have tried sandwiches. I don’t like them. I don’t need to try yours.” 

This would throw me into a fit of rage. 

Then I decided I would try to be tricky and rename the foods on the fated list in an attempt to broaden his pallet. This had a 50% success rate.

G: “What is this?”

Me: “Baked Pasta”

G: “It looks a lot like Lasagna.”

Me: “No, it’s baked pasta.” 

*Insert Gideon giving me a dubious look* 

My adventures and misfortunes of attempting to find foods my husband would eat only began to expand his “do not serve list”:

  • Lettuce Wraps
  • Anything with a cream sauce
  • Tacos 
  • Anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter (fine on their own but combined? Atrocious!)

I floated between being infuriated that Giddy wasn’t eating all of my cooking creations, to being panicked that I was going to unintentionally starve my husband within the first year of marriage. I could hear the voices of my critics/advice givers now, “The man could survive living in Uganda during the civil war, but his wife’s food killed him.” 

Well, isn’t that interesting

Almost immediately upon Gideon’s arrival to Canada, we were invited over to friend’s houses for dinner so they could meet Giddy. Friend’s would ask, “Does Giddy have any allergies?” The truthful answer is no, no he doesn’t have anything that physically keeps him from eating certain foods. “But should I mention Giddy’s list of aversions?” I’d think to myself. No, I determined that would be rude, and I could risk the purchase of McDonald’s on the way home to keep Giddy’s BMI up and keep down my wife-guilt about starving my husband. 

But then something interesting would happen. 

He would go to other people’s houses and eat every, dang, thing. He would even make proclamations across the dinner table like, “Ashley, why haven’t you ever made this for me?” 

OH, you mean this cream-based soup and grilled cheese sandwiches? Because it causes us to doubt the validity of our marriage, that’s why. 

And this was not a show for my friends, he would genuinely request these recipes after the fact. 

99 Problems But Food Ain’t One

I am happy to report after four years of marriage, our food saga has (mostly) ended. My husband is not malnourished, and I do not have an anxiety disorder over what to pack for lunch. I have at least 10 recipes I can throw into rotation (though many of those recipes are just chicken and rice cooked in a variety of ways) and Giddy even cooks a great deal of our meals. Self-high-five! 

Marriage Advice

Four years of marriage does not feel like enough time to become one of those people who hands out relationship advice. With that said, this was the only piece of advice I didn’t get when Giddy and I got married, and it would have been really helpful. 

So get ready for some unsolicited marriage advice:

Spend your pre-wedding date nights strolling the isles of Chapters Indigo in the cookbook isle, and scrolling through Pinterest. Have your significant other identify recipes that look appetizing; use force if necessary. 

If at any point your significant other mentions their mother, abort all plans, register for gift cards to major food chains, and call it a day. 

Now go in peace. 

How To Forget Where You Live

Hi.

My name is Ashley,

And I’m a stalker.

*Insert many other voices greeting me in unison*

Don’t worry; there is not some poor schmuck somewhere whose unrequited love has driven me into hysteria. No, the object of my stalking is actually a house, to be more specific, the house I grew up in.

My family moved into our house when I was about three years old, and we didn’t move again until I was ten. Almost every fond childhood memory I have took place in or around that house. I learned how to swing on the swing set in the backyard. I fell in love with the boy across the street. I had Christmas’, birthdays, and Easter egg hunts in that house. I did homework, playtime, family dinners, and jumping on the bed in that house. I loved that house. I don’t think we would have ever moved out if it hadn’t have been for my parents divorce, but that is neither here nor there. We moved and since then I have moved over 15 times.

So yes, on lonely days, lost days, cold days, or if I just happen to be in the neighborhood, I stalk my old house.

I say stalk because I always feel supremely creepy when I’m doing it. I don’t peek in the windows or sneak around the side or anything, I just drive by… really slowly. Like, imagine slow, and then go slower, that is how slowly I drive by the house. I do not mean to make it look as creepy as I imagine it looking, I just get lost in thought and can’t help but linger.

I envision what my adolescence would have looked like in my house. I scoff at how poorly the new owners have kept up the lawn, and can almost hear my father’s voice saying, “All the time I put in, and look at what a mess they’ve made.” My eyes drift across the street, and I think about the little boy I loved for so many years. I think of my summers with him jumping through sprinklers, and eating watermelon popsicles. I see the shed in the backyard I was convinced had monsters in it for an embarrassingly long time. I smell my mom’s cooking and remember her as did when I was little. I even drive down the back alley to peak at where my tree house use to stand, and am still flabbergasted as to why anyone would want to tear down such a magnificent structure. I see my mom and dad sitting on the patio on a sunny morning, my mom with a book, and my dad with his smokes.

And for just a moment, I feel like I am home. Then I drive back to real life.

In Between Addresses

“What do you mean you don’t know your address?” says a judgmental sounding voice on the other side of the phone from a bridge toll company that shall remain nameless.

“Well, I just moved, so I don’t know my new address.”

“Well, what was your last address?”

“I don’t think I ever got around to giving you my last address, so I think what you’re actually looking for is the address before last.”

“Fine, give me that address.”

“Yeah, I can’t remember that one.”

“Well isn’t that the address on your drivers license?”

“No, no, my drivers license has the address from before that on it. Do you want that one?”

*Insert stunned, frustrated silence*

This conversation and others like it are the reasons why, “Can I have your address?” has become a remarkably challenging question for me. Every short-term address I hand out is just another piece of mail I’ll have to redirect later, and it’s strangely exhausting. It makes me feel like I’m floating in between where I am, and some mysterious place I will be 6 to 12 months from now. With every piece of mail that gets lost in between addresses, it just reminds me that I’m wandering, and suddenly I become terribly unsettled.

Hopeless Wanderer

“I will learn to love the skies I’m under.”- Mumford and Sons

Life has changed a lot for me over the past few years. I have lived on another continent, I have adjusted back, I have gotten engaged, I have gotten married, I have been fired, I have been hired, I have lost old friends, gained new friends and, of course, I have moved.

With all of the changes, my biggest struggle has been to refrain from stalking my past. It is so easy to look back on what could have been, how I would have hoped to be treated by people, how I would have liked to end or start something, or the homes I wish I hadn’t moved out of, but there’s no use in dwelling on my shoulda, coulda, wouldas’. I can do a drive-by every now and again, but at the end of the day, it is just a waste of time and gas.

Instead I just need to learn to love the skies I’m under. Thank God for the lovely things I’ve had, the ridiculous crap I’ve endured, and the feet He has allowed me to keep wandering with.

A Prayer for the Hopeless Wanderers

I pray not that you stop moving, but that the Lord gives you sturdy shoes to travel in.

I know that when it rains, it pours, so I pray for umbrellas, rubber boots, and an internal knowing of how to clean up after a flood.

I pray that the Lord accompanies you on all your journeys, so that no matter how far away you go (and even if you’ve forgotten the address that gets you there), you always feel at home.