Vancouver Family Magazine Blog
The only magazine dedicated to SW Washington families.
Meet the Editor:
Nikki Klock is a married mother of two daughters and a lover of alternative rock music.She is an avid reader who hopes to one day coin a famous adage.

She has been the Editor of Vancouver Family Magazine since 2006.

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Goodbye, Steakburger

by Nikki Klock on 02/20/14

The Columbian is reporting that the iconic Hazel Dell fun spot, Steakburger, will be demolished this summer to make room for a new McDonald's, Fred Meyer fuel stations, and a Dutch Bros. Coffee kiosk along the 4 acre stretch of Highway 99. Also getting the ax is The Salvation Army building near Fred Meyer.

With the miniature golf course and restaurant gone, first dates, birthday parties, and family fun nights will now happen elsewhere. Where will you go instead?

Play Anyway

by Nikki Klock on 11/13/13

This past weekend, my family and I visited the North Clackamas Aquatic Park for the first time. Our kids are just the right ages (7 & 10) to enjoy the "big kid" stuff like a diving board and water slides. Aside from the attractions themselves, I also appreciated, as a parent, the layout of the facility--I could see my kids from just about anywhere in the water park. My husband and I even had the luxury of relaxing in the hot tub for a few minutes with our eyes on the kids.

The visibility of everything makes for great people watching, in addition to child supervision, and I couldn't help but notice the diversity of families attending the water park. Most ethnicities, genders, and ages were represented, but I found the most satisfaction in the fact that many of the women (presumably mothers) in attendance didn't have bodies that even remotely resembled the models on the glossy women's magazines. They were real women who refused to let body image stop them from a play day with their kids. How many times has an insecurity stopped you or me from participating in something that could have enriched your family? I say a big thanks to women who know they aren't perfect, and who play and participate anyway. It gives the rest of us courage to forget about the outward in order to cultivate the inward.

Ready to dive in? Check out a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for North Clackamas Aquatic Park in our November issue, out now. Find a copy at these locations and more:

Washington State Teacher of the Year

by Nikki Klock on 09/25/13

The State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has announced the 2014 Washington State Teacher of the Year, Katie Brown of Shuksan Middle School in Bellingham. Brown, a graduate of Fort Vancouver High School, has taught at Shuksan Middle School for 11 years as both a classroom teacher and and ELL Specialist. As a state award recipient, she will go on as a national award nominee, in hopes of following fellow Washington teacher and 2013 national teacher of the year, Jeffrey Charbonneau. Other national award recipients from Washington state include Andrea Peterson of Monte Cristo Elementary School in Granite Falls, and Johnnie T. Dennis of Walla Walla High School.

State teacher of the year nominations for 2014 are now closed, but nominations for 2015 will open in January 2014. Nominations are processed through Washington’s educational service districts and tribal schools, who each select a regional finalist. The state selection committee then reviews an application and interviews each finalist to make its decision. For information on contacting a regional coordinator about a nomination, visit

How NOT to have a fun river float

by Nikki Klock on 07/09/13

The one thing you don't want to hear when you're floating down the river in a sturdy inner tube with your 7-year-old daughter is a pop, followed by a pppppddddffffff-ish sound. It occurred to me, as my daughter panicked and I struggled, mid-rapid, to the riverbank with her and a quickly deflating tube in my arms, that there were a few things I could have done better to prepare for a fun float along the East Fork Lewisville River from Lewisville Park to Daybreak Park, both north of Battle Ground. 

My husband and older daughter enjoyed their float, while my younger daughter and I trudged back to the car (a short trudge, since the tube thankfully deflated just a few minutes after we'd entered the water) and drove back to Daybreak to meet them upon their arrival. 

To avoid mishaps, take these tips from someone who has learned the hard way.

The parks are just a short 10 minute drive from each other, or 4 miles by road or river, so it's easy to take two family cars to Daybreak, park one there, and drive the other car with all people, tubes, and lifevests in it to Lewisville Park to launch. Be sure to leave plenty of towels in the Daybreak car, and assume you'll get thoroughly wet along the 1.5-2-hour float. 

When you're ready to launch in the river at Lewisville Park, make sure all inner tubes are fully inflated, with no slow leaks, and that all children are wearing life vests. In case of "breakdowns," tow a spare inflated tube behind you with a rope. Watershoes are the best footwear, as the rocky river bottom can be harsh on feet. I learned that flip flops are likely to end up in a watery grave with all the slippery shifting of the water and rapids.

With lessons learned, I'm almost feeling ready for a river float do over. 

My Baby Sister Got Married

by Nikki Klock on 04/26/13

My dad mentioned Steve Martin in a speech he gave at my baby sister's wedding luncheon last week. He admitted that when I, his first child, got married 12 years ago, he behaved just a tad like Martin's character in "Father of the Bride." Thankfully no permanent family relationship damage was done, and we all laugh now about his grumpiness at the time. But in his speech last week, he talked about how this time around, due to a decade of extra parental seasoning (and three other sibling weddings between this sister and me), he has felt no reservations about giving his daughter away. He complimented her choice of spouse and wished them the best. And I feel exactly the same way about my new brother-in-law . . . now. Six months ago it was a different story altogether.

I, along with everyone else, absolutely adore my sister, and over the years I had subconsciously convinced myself that there was no one on earth who came close to deserving her. So I was content as she dated often but never got too serious, and continued to excel in her college studies. Then, last fall, I learned that she was dating someone seriously, and rather than feeling happy for her, my heart sank. Who was this chump who was presumptuous enough to think he was good enough for our Merilee? She told us of her plans to bring him home for Thanksgiving, and with Merilee's blessing, I prepared to grill her beau, with interview questions including:
  • What are your political leanings?
  • What are your thoughts on disciplining children? How did your parents discipline you?
  • What are you schooling and career plans?
  • Tell me about your latest relationship breakup, and how you contributed to the relationship's demise.
Not all the questions came out as written, but over an afternoon of talking with Derek about his life history, his faith, his story of meeting my sister, and much more, I fell in love with him too. In a non-romantic, non-awkward way. I gave him and my sister my full blessing and now have another brother to love.

Somewhere in the process of letting go of my sister, it occurred to me that this was great practice. Someday I will need to let go of my little ones and allow them to give themselves fully to a spouse that they will choose. My husband and I will be replaced. And I will have had the experience of letting go of just a little bit of my heart in preparation for parting with most of it. The good news? Grandchildren will no doubt fill the gap.

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