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Jen Robbins

Squeeze out the last days of summer!

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Just 6 weeks ago we were so excited to set off on our 2018 summer journey and now it is creeping to a close.

It’s hard not to get a wee bit excited at the thought of a crisp fall morning, a cozy sweater, and fall fashion.  In my head it’s all cozy sunsets and cute foggy mornings, but the reality of fall and winter in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley is a wee bit less romantic.  More raincoats, less sweaters.

It’s sad that the last few summers seem to wind up with a nasty haze over our beautiful province.  The heat waves seem to be getting hotter and longer each year.  But the magic of summer is still here.  Long days, summer nights, you don’t need socks or sweaters and splashing in a lake replaces wrangling a slippery child in a bath.

And as previously pointed out on ALL my social media, you only get 18 of these summers with your kids so try to slow down time and soak it all in.

-Jen
#ThatSurreyMom

Teething pains…

By | Community, Jen Robbins

I think very few people actually enjoy the dentist.  However, we know it is a necessary task, and especially if we have the means and access – a privilege.

When it comes to my kids, I’m happy to schedule them in as often as my insurance will allow.  Before I had kids, I absolutely knew that I would dutifully brush their teeth every morning and evening, while singing happy birthday three times (or whatever the current recommended amount of time might be).

Fast forward a few years and I’ll admit that extensively detailed oral maintenance isn’t exactly at the top of my list during the witching hours (the two hours before school and before bedtime).  Show me evidence of a wet toothbrush and I’ll buy the entire pack of lies when it comes to my precious twenty minutes of “me time”.

And here’s a #truthbomb that no one tells you.  Cavities and dental work aren’t necessarily preventable.   I discovered this way back in the day, in my moms’ group when another mom broke down in tears when her son had to get a number of fillings as a toddler.  “I swear… the dentist said that some kids just have softer enamel!”

Now that I have 13 years’ of dentists appointments under my belt, I can confirm this is absolutely true.  One of my kids is super meticulous when it comes to his tooth brushing and yes, even flossing.  At our last appointment he did not join the cavity-free club while the more carefree types earned a place on the wall by only occasionally brushing for more than 10 seconds, supplemented with the weekly events when I get involved and wrangle them into a more thorough cleaning (after which we are both left in tears).

So, of course parents and caregivers should do our best at enforcing good hygiene habits… whether that involves stickers or the struggle of parent-involved brushing or throwing them a stick of sugar free gym every now and then for good measure, but don’t feel like you’ve lost a battle if they come up with a cavity or any other concern.  It’s not (always) your fault!

-Jen
#ThatSurreyMom

Paws to Read Program

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Surrey Animal Resource Centre has a fun program called Paws to Read.  The program lets kids come and read books to the shelter animals.

It’s open to children in grades K-6 and runs daily from 11-6:40 PM. Just call them at 604-574-6622 or drop them an e-mail at animalinfo@surrey.ca and register and you can book a 15 minute slot to hang with the animals!  They have a selection of books and bunnies, kitties, birds and other four-legged-creatures you can read to.

Of course after we were done reading we had to hang around and make sure every little fella in there got their pets in.  And, it’s air conditioned as well, so not a bad way to spend some time!

-Jen
#ThatSurreyMom

Camping Hacks

By | Community, Jen Robbins

I think most of us realized in the last week that we are in the last half of summer vacation.

Some of us may be soooooooooo excited about the return to school and some of us may be in a panic mode at all the things we wanted to do this magical summer!  (It’s okay to be both!)

If a last-minute camping trip is on your bucket list, here are some tips to make it a hit!

Since campfire bans are likely on for the rest of the summer, don’t forget to bring or rent a portable propane fire pit which are still okay to use (check local regulations, of course).

Roasting marshmallows and making s’mores is a camping tradition.  (Remind your kids when roasting marshmallows that if their marshmallow catches fire to never fling it around to stop the fire.)   I personally struggle with finding all the ingredients – yeah, I KNOW there’s only 3 – so I like the little Hershey’s kits.  They typically don’t cost that much more and you have the exact amounts of everything for s’mores.  Done!

Bug spray… sigh.  Mosquito bites are the worst, aren’t they?  I haven’t yet found a completely foolproof repellant, and I hate putting chemicals on my kids.  There are some essential oil based repellants that I have heard good things about, but this is an area where I just give up and bring the calamine lotion.

Glow sticks are also super fun for kids of all ages when camping.  You can take some pretty cool pictures as well!

For your morning caffeine hit – if you’re not the type to break out the French press or own your own propane-powered camping coffee machine – Starbucks makes some decent little instant coffee packs.  Just add boiling water and you’re set.

Wipes… bring a few packs of diaper wipes.  They will help wipe off those sticky marshmallow remnants and you can wipe the sunscreen off your face and feel a bit less… sticky.  They’ll wash your hands or the picnic table – a very versatile tool!

It’s hard not to be wasteful when you’re camping.  Washing dishes can be a pain and we don’t necessarily bring back all the paper plates to compost them at home.  I do make my kids bring their re-useable water bottles and then just bring one big jug of water rather than the individual bottles.

Lastly, my kids have figured out this life hack: if you don’t change your clothes, you don’t have any laundry.  Happy camping!

-Jen
#ThatSurreyMom

Beat the Heat

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Another warm week is coming up in the Lower Mainland with highs in the 30’s!

Some great ways to beat the heat:

Hit up the mall.  It’s air conditioned, and you can catch some great deals on the end of the summer stock and maybe even do some (gasp) back-to-school shopping!

Libraries and community centres are air conditioned. Check out this link for lots of activities and events at Surrey’s libraries to keep your little ones occupied.

Outdoor pools in Surrey are FREE!  Usually nestled next to a playground, you can pack a picnic and spend a whole day there.

Water spray parks are always a great way to beat the heat and there are plenty of parks in Surrey to enjoy!

Of course, the beach is always a great choice to cool off – check out White Rock or Crescent Beach, or take a drive out to one of the lakes (just be sure to get there early to get a good spot!).

And be sure to check out the latest and greatest in summer splashing at the Aldergrove Community Pool & Otter Co-Op Outdoor Experience!

We’ll keep looking for more fun ways to spend summer South of the Fraser.  What’s your favourite way to beat the heat?  Let us know on social media @pulse1077!

-Jen
#ThatSurreyMom

Home Alone

By | Community, Jen Robbins

It’s a common question asked in parenting groups and among moms.  “How old does a child have to be to stay home alone?”

The answer is… It depends.

I recently read an article that cites a study where people’s opinion on the child’s safety changed depending on the “why” the child was being left alone.

For example, if the mother had to leave her child at home to go to work or to an emergency, it was deemed safer than if there was a morally questionable activity involved (if the mother had left the child alone to go to a bar or to carry on an affair).

The end result is that no matter what the parent is doing, the child would face the same level of safety.  However, as a society we feel the need to judge the parent’s intent.

With all that aside, there is no true legal answer or magic age to leaving your child on their own.  It will take some common sense – you are the best judge of your children’s maturity and ability to stay on their own.  I would leave each of my kids home at different ages and stages, and while one might be able to stay home on their own, walking home alone would present a new set of challenges.

It’s up to us parents to use our own judgment… imagine that!

-Jen
#ThatSurreyMom

Road Trip: Rope Runner Aerial Park

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Wow!  The new Rope Runner Aerial Park is tons of fun!

You’re completely safe wearing a harness that’s clipped to a series of wires as you navigate the park’s elements.  The elements are original and fun: you can run across a series of skateboards, ride a bike across a wire, traverse using hanging rings, climb walls and even just sit on a suspended bench way up in the sky! For us beginners or the faint of heart, crossing a simple balance beam 10 feet off the ground can be exhilarating!  There’s also a free fall drop that you can’t miss!

With my crew, the park was a huge hit for the 12- and 13-year-olds.  The session is 2 hours but they would have stayed all day even in the 30+ degree heat.  While my own younger children opted out, there were 7 -year-olds racing along the course.  (An adult must accompany those under 10, and a full refund is available for anyone who changes their mind within 15 minutes of the session start.)

The course is also lots of fun for adults and would be a great team builder or friends outing.  We saw adults of all ages enjoying the course.

For a fun, active outing your kids will talk about for days or even weeks – check out Rope Runner Aerial Park!

-Jen
#ThatSurreyMom

Study: Second-born kids are the “hardest”

By | Community, Jen Robbins

So I just read this article stating that second-born kids are the “hardest”, in particular boys.  Second-born children get into more trouble at school and with the courts according to studies which primarily focused on families with second-born boys.

In our home, my first son was textbook easy, but I didn’t know that until I had my second.  He gave us a little trouble with a health scare and spending time in the NICU.  He was “busier” than my first… or did he just seem that way because I had to manage and keep track of two all of a sudden?

As a 10 year old he is my sweetest, my quietest, the peacemaker, the clever one.  Sure he’s a little messy, and he might not always tell the truth about brushing his teeth, but I wouldn’t say he’s my “hardest”.   Like many “middle children”, he is smart and quirky.  I think maybe not being the oldest or youngest forces you to develop a bit of an extra personality.

As in any family, I think they take turns being the “good” one, the “challenging” one, the “sweet” one, etc… Ask me again in 10 years!

-Jen
#ThatSurreyMom

photo by Klutch Photography

For the Love of Books

By | Community, Jen Robbins

I spent a lot of time by myself as a child, and I learned to read  fairly early.  “No books at the table,” was my dad’s rant.  And much like my kids sneak their phones to the table, I used to sneak a book on my lap to the dinner table.  I used to think I was so clever, but of course now I now that sometimes my parents were just too tired to face another battle.

My daughter has inherited a similar appetite for reading.  She has a vision disorder and it wasn’t until a few months of learning support and a prescription for glasses in Grade 1 that the switch was flipped and she is now an extremely keen reader.  She even reads my texts over my shoulder at times which is tricky – let them read what they want, I say… but maybe not out loud.

One of her favourite things to do is hoard items and I only let her do this with books.  We like to visit thrift shops and garage sales to pick up some books to add to our collection.

We recently came across Stillman Books in White Rock (local hidden gem!).  Used bookstores are very rare these days.  Mr. Stillman definitely has a passion for books.  My daughter was quite enchanted by the entire room devoted to children’s books! New experiences involving books can be pretty magical.

Keeping children’s love of books alive, in my experience, means exposing them to lots of different styles of books.  So when we go to the library, I absolutely let her read whatever she wants (including the hideous Captain Underpants), but I also pick out lots of diverse picture books about people just like us – and people nothing like us.

We can’t force our kids to read, but reading along with them as well as providing exposure to all different kinds of books will keep things fresh and interesting.

-Jen
#ThatSurreyMom

Changes to Langley’s Municipal Recycling Program

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Changes are coming to recycling in the Township of Langley in order to comply with Recycle BC’s requirements, making recycling more efficient and keeping more materials out of landfills!  You can now recycle most materials together, while glass will now be separated.

Grey containers for glass recycling will be delivered to residents who receive curbside pickup in July and August.  Until the containers arrive, residents can set the glass containers aside, return them to a recycling depot or place them in a compact box  or their blue recycling bag for curbside pickup.

 Other changes to the recycling program mean that new items will now be welcome in blue boxes or carts for containers. Cardboard ice cream containers, beverage cups, and lids with straws removed – such as fountain drinks from fast food restaurants – are accepted for recycling.

A team of Township staff will visit residents door-to-door this summer to answer questions once the new grey containers for glass have arrived.  

 For more information, visit the Township of Langley’s website.