I like to think of myself as a stay-at-home Mom who rarely stays at home. When we moved to East Van in the summer of 2012, I spent a month dragging my daughter from park to park, feeling a little lost. We walked for hours each day. I had five-minute conversations with other Moms by swingsets, but no real connections. It was a little lonely. I searched out as many family-friendly activities as I could on-line and found many Mom and Baby classes, but frankly, they’re expensive. We’re living on a single income, and taking her to a class would mean cutting out something from our already-tight budget.
Slowly, I started to build up a network of free, or nearly free, activities for kids under five. It felt like a victory every time I had something else to write on our fridge calendar. Now, I’ve found so much to do just in our neighbourhood that I have several options every day of the week. I started this blog as a way to share what I’ve found and, hopefully, connect with other parents who like to get out and do things too. I have a list of weekly programs in East Van and I’m working on reviewing activities so you’ll know what to expect if you go. Every Monday I post a list of events for the week for kids under 5. I keep it to free events as much as possible, but my rule is that it must cost under $5, so that I can keep living the thrifty stay-at-home-Mom lifestyle. I also stick to Vancouver proper, though I sometimes will post about an event elsewhere in the Lower Mainland if it seems particularly cool.
If you know about an event in Vancouver that would be suitable for kids under 5 and costs less than $5, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at vancouverunder5(at)yahoo(dot)com.
So where was I before East Van?
Once upon a time, I was a high school Biology teacher with a penchant for grossing out kids with facts about human body. Bodily functions are still part of the daily conversation, but they’ve become more personal. (How many times a day can one ask “Are you pooping?” Apparently, it’s a lot.) My husband is a teacher too and we taught overseas in Taiwan during the early days of our relationship. It was so rewarding living abroad that we decided to do it again and moved to the polar opposite of Asian culture: Latin America. My daughter was born in Colombia, in the heart of the Zona Cafetera, which is where your Colombian coffee comes from. It was a gorgeous place to have a baby. To say that Colombia has a family-centred culture doesn’t even cover the half of it. Baby-crazy would be a better description, because every stranger we passed on the street would squeal with glee at the baby and most would come over to coo at her and ask to hold her. I actually had to weigh how “cute” an outfit I put on her against how quickly I needed to get someplace. The community took it as their personal duty to make the baby smile. She once played peekaboo with every single person on a public bus during a ride downtown. No wonder she’s a charmer now. Blondes… ahem, natural blondes… do exist in Colombia, but they’re rare, so part of the attention was surely because she’s so fair. Her nickname, Monita, is slang for “blondie”, though it actually means “little (girl) monkey”. Both meanings seem appropriate.