All Posts By

Jen Robbins

Are we nuts?

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Having a child with a life threatening allergy is terrifying.

Luckily, my son is 13 now and he is very safe about what he eats and reads labels and will politely decline anything that may contain nuts.

When I was young, I didn’t know anyone with allergies.  I mean, I told everyone I was allergic to bee stings just so no one would laugh at my completely over the top reaction when a bee comes near me, but we never heard about peanuts, gluten, eggs, dairy allergies.

These days many schools are completely nut free.  While I am not happy that so many of us have to squint to read labels so often, I am thankful that there are enough of us to warrant nut-free factories and nut-free schools which can help keep our minds at ease.

Every year in September or October as little ones start to go to school and families learn about all the things they can’t bring to school, the great debate comes up.  Someone always complains that peanut butter is the only thing their child likes and how grossly inconvenient it is for their family.  Why should an entire class, or worst, an entire school, have to accommodate ONE (or two, or three) child by punishing everyone else?  Shouldn’t the child learn to regulate themselves – isn’t that their responsibility?

I cannot participate in the discussion rationally, as my child’s life is at stake.  Therefore, no matter how completely irrational it is, if it makes my child’s life safer, I support it.

The good news about allergies is that at times they can be grown out of, and we are due for our next appointment in August (pediatric allergies are so widespread that it is at least a 6 month wait to see an allergist) and here’s hoping we get the all-clear, although I doubt after 13 years of steadfastly avoiding nuts that my kid will want to suddenly hit the JIF jar!


Weekend Getaway: Harrison Hot Springs!

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Harrison Hot Springs is a fun destination for a day or a weekend!

Since it’s only about just over an hour from Surrey, it makes a fast and easy getaway.   Harrison is a great place for families and while it can certainly be busy on summer weekends, it doesn’t seem to get as crowded as other locations.  There is pay parking and a free overflow lot with just a short walk.  (Life hack: the folding wagon is your friend when you want to tote all your gear to the beach).

The main lake is very cold and it can be dangerous, so we have our kids wear lifejackets at all times.  There’s a lagoon that’s very warm and perfect for kids.  The beaches are fairly sandy and clean, although there are a lot of geese that make their home in Harrison so at times, swimmer’s itch can come up.  There are quite a few outdoor showers available to rinse off along the strip.

Harrison is also a very dog friendly village with dogs allowed on the main beach.  If your children are a bit older or up for a challenge, there is a lovely hike up the Sandy Cove trail that you can take, my kids love it because there are parts that are pretty challenging where they really feel like they’re hiking and not just being dragged out on a walk.  The trail takes you to a gorgeous semi-secluded ultra-sandy beach.

While Harrison Hot Springs temperatures do rise up when it’s hot, there’s usually a nice breeze off the lake to take the edge off and great trails to walk through.  And of course, there are lots of places to eat and get a nice cold ice cream!


Seeing movies on the cheap

By | Community, Jen Robbins

So many movies come out in the summer!  Here are a few ways to see them all without breaking the bank.

A cheap and cheerful way to spend a morning – Landmark Cinemas offers a discount on movies showing before noon!  A great way to save a few bucks on a movie, especially for a family.  Getting out early is also a good way to stay on schedule for your day.

Cheap Tuesday is still a thing, so if you can go on Tuesdays, you’ll save a few bucks at Cineplex theatres.  Of course I LOVE points, so I highly recommend a SCENE cards to collect points and get free movie admission too.

In Surrey we have a few “cheap” theatres, the Hollywood 3 in Newton is my favourite for family movies and cheap concession treats too.  There’s always a good movie playing there!


Tweens are kids, too.

By | Community, Jen Robbins

I have a public service announcement to parents of the pre-school set: 11 & 12 year olds are still children.  They still like to cool off in a water park or even play in a playground. They still like to PLAY.  And we should allow that.

Hitting 11 years old seems to move you from being a child just having fun, to a tween requiring scrutiny from other parents, being under the suspicion of being “up to no good”.  Whether they are at a park or walking down the street, no one is smiling and saying “hello kids!”

Recently I visited Hazelgrove park with my kids.  There is a waterpark as well as a playground and a parkour park.  I had two 12 year old boys, a 10 year old boy and a 6 year old girl. The boys played in the parkour park and my daughter played in the water park, where it was mostly 3-5 year olds.

The boys came over to cool off in the park.  Seeing some of the young moms watching the boys warily, I did my due diligence of loudly yelling “don’t forget there are little kids around”.  Still, more than one mom got up to come and move their child over to another area, even though my kids had not been playing rough at all.

I don’t blame parents for being leery of “big kids”, but I do take it a bit personally as my eldest becomes a teenager and it seems that just being a teenaged boy is cause for concern from the general public.  Even from friends of mine who have literally told me they are “terrified of 13 year old boys” or “I have no idea what to say to a 13 year old boy”, as if they are somehow a different species.

Maybe if we were more inclusive of our big kids and young adults they would feel more included.  No, they’re not always perfect, they can be loud and they can certainly be obnoxious.  But as our kids enter adulthood, we want to prepare them to be – and expect them to be – kind, courteous members of society.  We can’t do that if we’re negatively pre-judging or profiling them.


Hazelgrove Park Surrey

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Surrey really is the City of Parks!

One of the newer parks in Surrey is  Hazelgrove Park.  This is a great spot to visit this summer, located close to the Langley border at 7080 190 St, Surrey, BC.

This park is an example of amenities for all ages.  There is a waterpark, covered picnic tables, lots of grass to stretch out on, basketball and tennis courts, a playground, and best of all a parkour park! Parkour play can be someone challenging for us parents to wrap our heads around because it’s all jumping, risking, and concrete! Fear not as the surface at Hazelgrove park is the bouncy, rubbery stuff so it should keep injuries and scraped knees to a minimum while we let our kids engage in “risky play”.

Check out this fun park and join the City of Surrey Recreation team for Park Play here on Thursdays from 3-5 throughout the summer!


Park Play City of Surrey

By | Community, Jen Robbins

The City of Surrey’s Park Play is a fun, free program running at parks all over Surrey in various locations.

Park staff will be set up with games and fun things for kids of all ages.  Check out the closest location to you using the interactive map or discover a new to you park in Surrey and make it an adventure!  There is also a passport to keep the fun going all summer and your kids can collect stamps to make it even more fun.

Check out the schedule here!


Surrey Summer Fun Pass

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Keeping kids busy in the summer can get expensive.

Luckily, my oldest kids are finally at the age where they can go in the pool on their own (7+ in Surrey).

Since our “new” pools have opened in the past few years (anything that wasn’t around when I was a kid is new) my kids love going all of the facilities, especially the Grandview Heights and Guildford aquatic centres.

At $3.50 they are a good value, as the kids will swim for literally hours and bonus: no need to worry about sunscreen.  I recently bought my kids the Summer Fun Pass.  For $45 they can access any facility drop in program anytime all summer from June 30 to September 3 whether it’s swimming, skating or any of the child/youth drop-in programs being run all summer.

Check it out and see if it works for your family!



New Outdoor Water Park in Langley

By | Community, Jen Robbins

There is an exciting new place to cool off and splash around this summer South of the Fraser!

The Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre, located at 27032 Fraser Highway, features a six-lane, 25-metre competitive swimming pool with a deep end for diving, a shallower leisure pool, and a hot tub. Covered by a canopy, these pool areas will be open year-round and heated in part by using excess energy produced from cooling the ice at the arena.

In addition to the pools is the balance of the Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience, a seasonal water park with full sized-waterslides, a tidal pool, current channel, a children’s aquaplay structure, dry playground, and picnic area.

The pool will open to the public on July 16 – there are a limited amount of swim sessions available in the next few weeks if you register online here.

Can’t wait to check this place out this summer!


Things our kids won’t understand

By | Community, Jen Robbins

The other day we had the classic “Can you call my phone, I don’t know where it is” maneuver.    I happened to say, “Just hang it up,” which peaked my daughter’s curiosity.

“Why do you want to HANG the phone?” she asked.  You don’t see too many corded phones outside an office these days, and even then I guess it doesn’t make much sense.

She also corrects me when I say “tape”, meaning to record something (as a 6 year old crafty girl – tape only means one thing).

I’m sure these phrases will be obsolete and we will randomly use them with our grandchildren who will think we are crazy!

We’re FREE! Now what?

By | Community, Jen Robbins

We have been counting down the moments and here we are – officially the last day of school for me and my peeps!

No more lunches, no more having to race to school at the crack of 8AM.

We are envisioning our amazing, carefree, summer of long sunny days and warm summer nights.

Let’s get real.  Somewhere around mid-August we start to panic, thinking about all the things we wanted to do and haven’t done.  Day trips, a reading challenge, Playland, waterslides, hiking and enjoying nature, meeting up with friends…

Suddenly, you find yourself staying in your pajamas until 10 every day, spending way too much time surfing random Instagram of other people doing fun family stuff, or going down a Pinterest rabbit hole while you search “fun free summer activities”, meanwhile your kids set themselves up with packaged food for breakfast, playing video games all morning until it erupts in a huge fight and/or meltdown mid-afternoon.

The solution to enjoying being unscheduled all summer, is to set out just a few guardrails to keep yourself on track. Yep – a schedule.

If you want to hit a few key fun “summer bucket list” activities, look at your calendar and pick the days out.  Be flexible, of course.  But chances are your calendar isn’t as free as it seems, and you might not be able to fit it all in.

Make sure to go out once a day and set a time for it.  Get in your dentist appointments, your doctor appointments and your haircuts. And when you’re not scheduled, whether it’s to the park, the library, or something even more ambitious, make an appointment for yourself so that you don’t end up scrambling with zoned-out cranky, hungry  children .

Speaking of hungry, while you don’t have to pack a lunch, you will have to plan meals and snack prep.  Otherwise, it will be 2PM and you’ll be surrounded by a bunch of granola bar wrappers and some sugared up kids! So by setting out your mealtimes, you can avoid falling into the whoa we’re hungry and zoned the heck out.

So we can throw away the back-to-back  schedule, but set a few moments in your day to touch point, the last benefit is that it won’t be so hard to settle back in come September!