This blog is about life with a baby. It's not always you you expect and there is definitely no job description. Every baby is different and unique which is why motherhood can be so scary, fun, terrifying, exciting and rewarding all at the same time.

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  • Thursday, August 04, 2016 10:45 PM | Sandy (Administrator)

    By now, if you haven’t heard of Pokemon Go, you are definitely living off-grid.

     

    Pokemon Go, is an augmented reality game based on the Pokemon concept. If you are my generation, then you are mostly familiar with the animated series with the famous line “I Choose You, Pikachu!”. The Pokemon mega franchise ranges from games, animated series, manga, trading cards, to even the All Nippon Airways Pokemon Jet.

     

    Without getting into too much details of how to play Pokemon Go, because there are lots and lots of “for dummies” pages online you can get a crash course for, I’m simply here to say that we liked the game, for 2 weeks.

     

    The game itself, in my opinion, is for pretty much all ages…ok, so maybe 3/4 and up.

     

    Consider that it’s for all ages, you can pretty much make it as simple as you want it to be, or as complicated as you want it to be. You can geek out like my PhD brother and his equally academically brilliant girlfriend and spend the entire weekend unleashing your cyber wrath at Pokegyms, you can use it as a great promotional tool to attract people to your retail business, or you can just simply go out, and catch some Pokemons with your child, like what I did with my 5 year old.

     

    When the game first came out, I saw two distinct sides of reactions. I heard the Debbie Downers, rolling their eyes saying “whatever”, I also heard the other side, folks that were squealing excitement aplenty. Here’s the thing, I’m a nerd at heart, so when I heard about it, I was very curious, but at the same time, I was wary about actually participating…because I know me, I like stuff like this, and I’d want to spend time playing the game, and I’m not sure I want to spend time playing, when I really should be doing boring things like vacuuming the house, and steam mopping the floors…

     

    I finally caved, when the game released in Canada, I downloaded it. Of course I had to download it at midnight (sarcasm), when the game loaded up on my screen, I sat there, paused for a moment, and actually contemplated on going for a walk to my local park to check out what this “Pokestop” was all about, because it’s a short 2 minute walk from me. Luckily, I didn’t, I chose sleep instead.

     

    6 hours later, upon waking up, getting my 2 daughters dressed, we dashed off to drop my older one to summer camp. On my way home, you guessed it, I stopped by 1of my 2 locals parks with this Pokestop. Here I was, stopped on the side of the curb, vehicle appropriately parked, looking at my phone, discovering this Pokestop. I quickly figure out what it does, collect my goodies, then put my phone away. I look up at my rearview mirror, about to drive off, I see a very nice SUV creeping up behind me, pulling to a complete stop. I wait to observe this vehicle behind me. Within 10 seconds, this vehicle slowly pulls away from the curb and drives off, but not without making eye contact with me, holding up his phone smiling at me, and giving me the big thumbs up! Apparently, we were all on the same page!

     

    Afterwards, I spent about 30 minutes exploring the game, and catching a few Pokemon that popped up on my phone as I navigate through it.

     

    When my older daughter came home from camp, I decided I would show her this game. Her mind was completely blown! What? You catch invisible animals that only your cell phone can see?!

     

    So I made her a deal: we would go out hunting for Pokemon after I’d put my younger daughter to bed, but only if she was properly showered, teeth brushed, etc. The deal would be to go for about 30-60 minutes, depending on time, and when she came back, go straight to bed.

     

    We did this for a few days straight, and she loved it in the beginning, and I enjoyed it as well, because it was a harmless little game in my opinion, and when we were hunting, she walked very briskly and I found that the exercise helped get her energy out of her system before bedtime.


    Here's the interesting part, many people say they see people walking around with their head glued to their phones and aren't watching where they're going, the statement is half true in my opinion. Yes, once you have to do stuff on your phone to catch a Pokemon, grab goodies, or fight at a gym, you do look at your phone, but you are not really obliged to be walking around with your head stuck to your phone all the time. We walked around, looking at parts of our neighbourhood, and when a Pokemon pops up, the phone vibrates, we stop, make sure we're in a safe spot before proceeding with any catching of Pokemons. As you are probably wondering what that silly orange bib is for on my 5 year old, that was her being imaginative and we collected and assigned different types of tree leaves, flowers, and pine cones for the different Pokemons that we caught.

    In total, we played avidly for almost 2 weeks.

     

    Then came the kicker...the more Pokemons you catch, and the more time you spend on it, the higher the level you reach, and the higher the level, the tougher it became to catch each of these Pokemons…sure enough, it became tough enough that each Pokemon required more than a handful of balls thrown at these virtual animals (mostly pigeons, rats of worms anyways), and when you have to spend an extended period of time to catch these critters, well, your 5 year old starts to lose interest and patience. Quite frankly, it wasn’t just my daughter that was losing interest, I was as well…

     

    After 2 weeks, going on the third week, I asked her routinely on one night whether she wanted to go out, and her respond was “Not really, mommy.” I asked the second night, same response, so I stopped asking on the third night. It’s been 4 days and she’s stopped asking for it, and I haven’t mentioned it either.

     

    Overall, it was fun while it lasted, and frankly, I was worried about my own possible addiction for nothing.

     

    If you’re curious, go knock yourself out and give it a try, you might like it for a little bit, and like me, I imagine you’ll probably get bored quickly.

  • Saturday, July 16, 2016 2:37 PM | claire (Administrator)


    We traveled from coast to coast in February with our kids aged 3 and 7.  We really debated adding Tortuguero National Park to our itinerary because it seemed like it would be the hardest part of our trip.  I am so glad we made the decision to go, it was an amazing, surreal experience.  I read a ton of reviews before our trip because I wanted to be sure it wouldn’t be too difficult for the kids.  I realize now that most of the reviews must have been really old because they talked about parking your car in the field, and  there were tons of comments about the safety of the parking lot, the boat ride, and whether or not it was worth the stress.  Let me assure you that getting to Tortuguero was not at all stressful, and once you get to Tortuguero you won’t want to leave.  It feels untouched, pure, and gives you a real feel of what paradise is like.

    Pool

     

    Getting to Tortuguero

    There are three options to get to Tortuguero if you are not going with a tour operator.  There are no roads in Tortuguero so the options is either to take a plane or a boat.  If you choose the boat option you have two choices. You can take the public transit from San Jose which is not too bad, and cost $8 per person.  You can find all the details on taking public transit here.  It will take about 5 hours plus or minus time waiting for the bus and the boat.  You can rent a car like we did and park it at the very well operated parking lot in Cariari.   As you can see from the picture the parking lot is not a field in the middle of nowhere. 


    Parking lot


    It is supervised, covered, and has 24 hour security. The $10 per night is well worth it and actually quite reasonable.    Our trip was 3 hours in the car from San Jose and then a 1.5 boat ride.   If you fly in from San Jose, it’s a 30 minute flight.  If you are flying in, I would recommend taking the boat out as it gives you an opportunity to experience something like you’ve never experienced before.  If you have little ones like we did, the boat ride is an adventure for them. Both of kids were very excited and loved the experience.

    Tip: We took the public boat from Cariari to Tortuguero village because it was $3 per person and takes the exact same route as the private boats.

    If you do decide to go with a tour operator I recommend Costa Rica Expeditions.  They helped us out a lot with deciding what options were available to us so we could make the best decision for our family.

     

    Where to Stay in Tortuguero

    It really depends on the type of traveler that you are and whether or not you are travelling with kids whose stomachs may be a priority.  We chose and highly recommend Tortuga Lodge and Gardens.  Don’t let the name fool you, this is  an amazing resort.  It is #1 or 9 places to stay in the area, and has been  featured  in National Geographic Tours of a Lifetime.  


    Everything is done  in a way that is soothing and pleasing to the eyes, and the soul.  When you  get into Tortuguero village you just have someone from the information  centre contact the hotel and let them know you have arrived.  When called  we were told they can send a shuttle for you right away for $10 or they tell  you when to expect the next shuttle.   If you have the all inclusive package  the shuttle is included for free. We chose the option of being picked up  right away because it was a long trip and I was ready to put my feet up at  the pool.

     

    hiking


    Everything about Tortuga Lodge and Gardens is done for your extreme comfort and relaxation.  If you want to go into the trails they have boots for everyone in the whole family, they keep the boots, and walking sticks close to the entrance of the trails.  There is a sink for you to wash your hands and feet after coming back from the trails.   For kids, they have games, books, and activities at the lobby.  The property itself offers bird watching guided walk in the gardens in the morning.  There are quite a few trails where we saw a variety of wildlife including monkeys, snakes, and colourful frogs.

     

     

    They have one main restaurant that offers a la carte or buffet options.  The food is beyond delicious. There were lots of healthy options for everyone, and the serving sizes are quite large so we were fine to share some plates.  The prices are reasonable for this type of property. You are looking at about $8 for breakfast, $15 for lunch, and $15-20 for dinner.  If you will be having all your meals at the hotel then it makes sense to do the meal plan, if you are having some meals in the village like we did then go with the a la carte option.

    If you do go into the village to eat, you must stop at Wild Ginger –YUM!

     

    Things to do with Kids in Tortuguero

    It depends on the age of your kids, ours are 3 and 7 so we opted not to do the full three hour boat ride, we just didn’t  think they were up for it right now.  We plan to go back when they are  older and explore more.   There are still a lot to do outside of the tour options  listed, you can get a private guide and go out on your own with the guide to explore the waters.  Our favourite was the hikes into the  jungle, and visiting Tortuguero village.    The village is fun for kids, and  offers stunning sunset views.  You can also go check out the beach, which  is not for swimming (sharks, jellyfish, and strong current) but it is very  nice to walk along.  From June to October you can watch the turtles as  they come to shore to lay their eggs.


    Our three year old, who we were most worried about had a fantastic time at this property. We didn’t have to worry about cars since there are no cars in Tortuguero ,and he loved the freedom to walk around and explore.

    village and sunset


    We spent a lot of time at the pool because the kids were very happy to be in the salt water pool.   We went mid week, as we didn’t get a package and had the place to ourselves for two days before a tour came in. I would recommend going midweek if possible because it adds to the tranquility of the place.

    Ethan hammock  

    The grounds at this property is incredibly picturesque and we enjoyed walking the grounds, and taking part in the early morning activities provided by the resort. 


    gardensbird watching

     

    We spoke to a few people who were there for their honeymoon, overall this place had equal amount of couples without kids, and couples with kids.  Tortuga lodge found a way to make you feel like this place is just for couples if you are on your honeymoon or just for families if you are there for a family vacation.  It was absolutely lovely and I cannot wait to go back.


  • Friday, July 15, 2016 12:45 PM | claire (Administrator)

    We spent an entire day on the Fundy Trail and still didn’t see everything we had on our list.  The best thing to do before your visit is to contact the someone at the Interpretative centre and get amap so you can plan your visit, especially if like us you only have one day in the area.

    The Fundy Trail, a part of Fundy National Park is a wheelchair-friendly coastal access network which includes a low-speed auto parkway with scenic lookouts, a pedestrian and bicycle trail, footpaths to beaches , and an Interpretive Centre where you can schedule guided hikes and other activities.

    IMG_5500


    Located on the Bay of Fundy in St. Martins New Brunswick the park showcases the highest tides in the world, and more than 25 waterfalls.  On a clear day you can look across the bay and see parts of Nova Scotia.  It was an absolute joy to drive through the park, and stop at the many lookouts along the way.

    The park currently covers more than 207 kilometres and work is now being done to extend the trail which will include a 2 kilometre long beach, and additional look outs.  To say there is a lot to do on the trail almost feels like an understatement.  From family friendly trails, to more rugged trails along the Fundy Footpath, to swimming, to hiking you are sure to have an amazing day full of adventure here.

     
    IMG_20150811_173547

    At beginning or end of the trail, depending on where you start, you will be able to explore the ocean floor by foot. If you look closely you’ll be able to see some sea creatures chilling out on the seaweed waiting for the tide to come back in.  At high tide, the ocean floor disappears under 50ft of salt water.

    We started our day on the trail by stopping at the Interpretative centre where we met our guide Beverly.  First the kids learned how to call for moose, then we watch a video all about the inspiration for the trail, and the work that was done to create it.

     

     
    IMG_5449


    After the video, we were treated to some delicious homemade molasses cookies and  King Cole tea. The kids got to try real molasses, it was the first time for our 4 year old who loved it! He literally licked the spoon.  After our little snack we went for a guided hike that started near the interpretative centre.  We learned about plants, berries, and trees as we walked along the path.  Beverly was an amazing guide and showed us some of the best places to hike with kids along the way.

    Assuming that you have limited time and cannot explore the full trail our recommendations are : Suspension Bridge hike, Mitchell Franklin Bridge lookout, Long Beach Lookout, Fuller Falls, and Broadshaw lookout.

     

      

    IMG_20150811_175115



    We spent more time on the Fundy trail than we had expected and knew we were going to be late reaching our next destination and hotel.  Beverly was great and called ahead to the hotel for us so that they would know we were running late.

    On our way out of the trail we stopped by the caves as it was low tied and we were able to explore the caves by foot.  There are a few restaurants by the caves, or you can pack your own food and have a picnic.  If your goal is to explore the caves by foot, you must check the tide schedule as low tide is different from day to day.  You can check the tide schedule here

      

    Exploring the Fundy Trail is a must do if you are visiting New Brunswick.  If you have young children like we do, you can ask to get an activity guide for the kids.  Our 8 year old was able to keep herself entertained with finding the various items listed and answering questions.  At the end of after completely the activity she received a certificate and treat. Win/win for everyone


    IMG_5456


  • Tuesday, July 12, 2016 10:24 AM | Sandy (Administrator)

    Located on 1151 Denison St in Markham, Ontario, Queens Montessori Academy, a member of the Brightpath Early Learning Inc., is a Montessori education center for children ages 18 months to 6 years.

    Upon entering the academy, its neutral wall colours and simple entrance set up puts me into a pleasant mood as I’m warmly greeted by the academy’s vice principal, Ms. Sapu. She’s the one that gave me a thorough tour of the academy facility as well as an understanding of what QMA strives to accomplish with their students.

    As I’m touring the facility with Ms. Sapu while she also expresses very passionately about the students they have and the Montessori philosophy of teaching, I learn that she’s been with QMA since 1998, and the academy’s principal Ms. Mangos, has been with QMA since 1997; I’m very impressed with the length of their tenure.

    QMA is in a small plaza along with other professional businesses with plenty of parking, making it the type of plaza with lower vehicle traffic, which should put parents at ease with regards to drop off and pick up safety. The academy classrooms occupy two different buildings side by side. Each classroom is well organized, clean, and spacious. I also got a chance to meet with the students while they were in class, and each of them very curious and bright.

    What was most impressive was how incredibly quiet the academy was throughout the duration of my hour visit. For me, this is an indication of a well-run school, considering the number of young students there are, you’d expect somewhat consistent chaos, and not that there wasn’t any tantrums being thrown from a toddler or two, but that these chaotic moments were quickly and effectively resolved without much drama involved from the teachers.



    Outdoor playground at QMA is spacious with large mature trees providing much needed shade during bright hot summer days.

    The academy has a full size kitchen with a full-time chef that prepares well-balanced lunches and snacks for all students. Part of the Montessori philosophy of teaching encourages students to learn early on to use items that “adults” use, such as a drinking cup. Therefore, parents aren’t required to send their children to school with their personalized sippy cup. As a parent, I love the idea of the Montessori methodology, which will teach my child early on to learn practical everyday skills.

    Since the word Montessori is not trademarked, it is public domain, and therefore anyone wishing to open up an educational center and add in the word “Montessori” in their name can do so without any regulatory issues. However, there are certain criteria that a true Montessori academy must adhere to in order to be authentic. The Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators is such authorized organization and QMA is an accredited member in good standing.

     

    If you reside in Markham and you’re looking for a daycare center for your child, know that QMA will provide exceptional care with the added Montessori philosophy bonus. If you’re a parent that is specifically looking for a Montessori daycare, QMA follows the standardized Montessori philosophy that CCMA regulates.

    To schedule a tour or for more information, please call 905-944-0077 or email QMA: queensmontessori@brightpathkids.com  

  • Wednesday, July 06, 2016 9:36 PM | Sandy (Administrator)

    Part of what I love about being in the Greater Toronto Area is the many festivals that take place year round.

    As a person who has a great appreciation for the performing arts, it became a little bit of a challenge to be able to attend as many shows as I’d used to once I’d had our first child. When our first turned 3, we took a gamble and thought we’d start easy by bringing her to the movies, which she enjoyed, but had way too much ants in her pants to sit through the hour-and-a-half show. That Christmas, we went on a family trip, and had the opportunity to watch a couple of local live performances. All of these performances, my older child enjoyed tremendously. This was very exciting for me, I potentially had a buddy to go see shows with!

    But of course, I couldn’t take my child to The Tarragon Theatre, or maybe a fun Mirvish musical theatre production, because 1) I don’t think my child cares for awesome contemporary new plays just yet 2) Mirvish productions, as fun and beautiful as they can be, I’m not sure I want to invest in those ticket pricings quite just yet.

    Which is why, in my opinion, the Toronto Fringe Festival is a great way to expose your child to performing arts at a young age without breaking the bank.

    The Toronto Fringe Festival, in a nutshell, is an annual festival featuring over 150 productions in approximately 30 venues in Toronto. The productions itself, is extremely wide in range. Mounting a production at the Fringe Fest is purely by lottery only. If you get drawn, then you get to perform. Theatre space and time slots are also based on the lottery as well. Pretty much, you work with what you are given. Some shows are amazing, others, well, are, uhm, eyebrow-raising. Considering this is a festival featuring mostly new work, there’s bound to be some hits and misses. Some incredible hits in the past include Da’ Kink in My Hair, and the Tony Award winning The Drowsy Chaperone. Each year, as well as emerging artists, you’ll also find well known established performers participating in the festival. This year, Toronto Fringe Festival takes place from June 29 to July 10, so there’s still a few days left to catch a show if you like, either as a date night, or with your offspring(s).

    Under the umbrella of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is the Fringekids Festival. All Fringekids performances take place at one dedicated theatre, the George Ignatieff Theatre at 15 Devonshire Place. Next to the theatre building is a spacious courtyard which the festival turns into the Fringekids Club, where activities, special guests and performances take place daily during the festival. This year at the Fringekids Club, award winning face-painter and clown Empress Cherry Sunday is there to make your kids feel and look fabulous. Your child can also get a chance to get “into character” with the various costumes they can try on and prance around in the courtyard. There’s also arts & crafts stations. Entry to the Fringekids Club is free, although donations are very much appreciated.


    Fringekids shows are geared towards children anywhere between 3-12 years old. Program guide will have more specifics on the age it would be more suitable for.

    There are limited advance tickets for sale online, the rest can be purchased approximately an hour before the show at the theatre. Don’t be silly like me and forget that it’s CASH only. We went last Saturday and due to my aloofness (and you wonder why I wouldn’t have remembered, considering I’m a veteran Fringe audience participant…I blame it on overall loss of brain IQ due to lack of sleep from having two kids) we missed the show. The show starts on time, NO LATECOMERS will be admitted. The Fringe Fest is a stickler with the shows starting on time, and ending on time, because there are shows playing back-to-back. All Fringekids shows are no more than 60 mins.

    My older daughter and I went to the sketch comedy show Be More Pacific with Asiansploitation the following day instead. The show itself is for adults, but since the performers are long time friends, we’d discussed ahead of time whether the show content was PG enough for my 5 year old. There were a couple of swear words, but other than that, it was verbally very tame, and very enjoyable.

    We’re planning on spending the last day of the Fringe Festival back at the Fringekids Club, and catch a few more shows. Ticket prices are very reasonable, $5 for children, and $12 for adults, and George Ignatieff Theatre is walking distance from St George subway station. Street parking is fairly widely available as well.


    If you’re planning to leave the kids at home and go on a cool date night, there’s lots of choices. Along with Asiansploitation’s Be More Pacific which we watched, there are other worthy shows to checkout, such as All Kidding AsideTonight's Cancelled, and many more.

    Happy Fringing!

  • Tuesday, June 21, 2016 11:32 PM | Sandy (Administrator)

    Last week, my friend Samantha had requested me to send her a video of myself doing something. I shot the video with my smart phone, and then I tried sending it to her.

    At that very moment, my head went into a complete blank, I didn’t know how to send it. It had been a while since I’d sent a video that was longer than 15 seconds, and not through Instagram. This was a 3 minute video, therefore the file was larger, and I needed to send it via email.

    Then I did what I thought I would never needed to do, I asked her “Uhm, how do I send this video to your email?”


    At that very moment, the feeling I had felt perhaps best resembled that of our baby boomer parents asking us “How do you turn the computer on?”

    Up until about 5 years ago, I was a bit of a mobile phone savvy person. I’d tested out many phones, and was reasonably well versed with what was on the market at the time. My knowledge came from spending lots of time with my friend Andrew, a mobile phone guru. You have a mobile question, shoot him his way, and he’s got an answer. I was his little apprentice of mobile phones. I remember one day we were chatting, and we’d laughed about how corporate companies would spend a ridiculous amount of money to bring someone in just to teach their VP/Director/Some Big Shot how to use a Blackberry to write and send an email. I thought to myself “That’s so crazy, why not just take a little time and explore, and you’ll figure it out.”


    Then something happened to me. I popped a couple of kids out.

    Did you know that raising kids takes time? I did, or so I thought I did. I did because you hear about it, but I didn’t know it, at least of its full extent until it actually happened.

    When I had my first child, it was pretty hectic for the first year. I tried to keep up with my love of mobile phones, but the more you pay attention to a thing, the more your infant child wants it, so I had to hide my phone from her all the time, and would only take it out when she was sleeping. But when she went to bed, it was my time to go to bed shortly after. Well, I had about a 2 hour window, but that time went mostly into cleaning the house that the baby and I made during the day. When she was a toddler, things got a little bit easier. I slowly went back into my love for mobile phones, and still kept up with some of the gadgets on the market. Then our second kid happened, and this time around, I definitely had no more time.

    This explains why often times, when I was in my 20s, I would encounter from those that was then my slightly older generation of co-workers (which is where I am, and I think you as well presently), the ones that are higher up in the corporate ladder, with family, with very little time, that comes to me and ask “Do you know how to do such-and-such? Can you just quickly show it to me?”

    The word “quickly” was always used, because if it took more than a couple of minutes, it was too long. Time is precious, very precious.

    It’s not due to laziness. It’s not due to being not-the-sharpest-pencil-around. It’s not due to an unwillingness to learn. It’s not due to lack of patience either. It is because there’s not the time to learn it. The amount of time it took to learn something, that time was being used towards something that’s more of a priority for them.

    It makes sense.

    Now I understand why big corporate companies spend the few hundred bucks in bringing someone in to tutor their VP/Director/Some Big Shot on how to use what seems to be a very simple device.

    It’s only simple if you actually have the time to explore and test things out.

    Time is precious, time is money. It’s worth it to spend that tutor money, especially if the time it took for you to familiarize your phone, you lost out on a million dollar project. That loss could potentially affect your paycheck. Nowadays, instead of giggling, rolling my eyes, and being a snob, I agree that a couple of hundred bucks for the tutor is absolutely worth it.


    As for me, at the moment, I don’t have time either. Sorry, let me rephrase that, I don’t care to make the time for it, as it’s not my priority. Making sure that our two girls are growing up with food and shelter, and a little bit extra like arts, sports, and culture is a priority. I’m the one now approaching some young adult asking “Do you know how to do such-and-such? Can you just quickly show it to me?”

    Mobile phones, you lose for now. However, I do think when my girls are old enough to start experimenting with mobile technology, I’ll be back in the game with them, and perhaps I’ll introduce them to uncle Andrew, I’m sure he’ll have a few tricks up his sleeve.


  • Monday, June 06, 2016 3:36 PM | Bhavishree (Administrator)

    I am going to be solo parenting our three kids for the next two weeks.

    Hubby is leaving for a two week business trip. He does not go away on business trips often. Actually, in the past when he has gone away it has only been for a few days at the most a week. The thing is I think the last time he went away for a business trip was 5 or 6 years ago. At that time it was a little manageable as I had only two kids and my oldest was 4 years old and could do most things for himself. His brother was just a baby so it was fine but at the same time I was out numbered and a little nervous that nothing would happen with them like getting hurt or being sick. I was also on maternity leave so I was home and not working. And my oldest was at school during the day. Everything was fine.

    This time I will be solo parenting three kids all under the age of 9 – yikes! The two boys will be at school during the week and my daughter will be with me during the day which is normal as I work from home. Although I work from home I have the help of my husband to get things done and on time especially in the morning before school. Like, last week for some reason our youngest son did not want me to help him with anything in the morning. He just wanted Dada to help him get dressed and prepare his breakfast. (He is such a pain in the butt LOL) Husband also helps me save some time in my day by putting away the dishes from the night before and if there are any dirty dishes he will wash them. Hubby also helps me finish dinner once he is home if I have not finished with it depending on my day. Besides that, it is just very helpful to have a second pair of hands.

    Some things are a little easier with him around. When I take the boys for their swimming class he takes care of our daughter since she gets bored just waiting and watching the boys do their lesson. He helps me with the prep for our meals on Sundays so we have less to do during the week and I can make lunches quickly. Of course, the week my husband is leaving our youngest son will be starting his baseball season so just the thought of getting three kids ready and out the door is making me shake my head. I am going to have to be super organized and do things earlier and make sure I give them more time for everything.

    So far, since I knew that hubby was going away I started a little chore plan for myself and tried to get as much of the cleaning and tidying done in the hopes that when he is away I will just need to maintain it. I have created a list of things he has to get done before he leaves. We went grocery shopping for the next two weeks. I have already made my menu plans and have back up on hand just in case. I plan to keep the same routine and not steer off I hope that will make my life easier for the next two weeks. I also have created a daily to-do list for the kids and called it “Help Mommy.” It is just a list of all the things they have to do in the morning , after school and before bed. In the morning, to catch the bus on time ie. get dressed, brush teeth, eat breakfast etc. After school, ie. unpack school bag, play time, homework etc. Before bedtime, ie. shower, brush teeth, change into Pj’s etc. and I also added some bonus items they can help with. I am hoping this will make my two weeks easier and manageable.

    Do you have a husband who goes away for business trips from time to time and how do you manage it? 

    What are you tips and tricks?

    What are your challenges?


  • Friday, June 03, 2016 9:54 PM | Sandy (Administrator)

    When I gave birth to our first almost 5 years ago, I had the most difficult time in breastfeeding. I went through all sorts of struggles in trying to get my daughter to breastfeed. The only struggle I did not have was my milk supply. For the first 12 weeks, I pumped most of the time. At first, I didn’t know how much my daughter needed, it wasn’t until a few weeks in, when I got matched with a specialist lactation consultant that dealt with infant feeding issues that worked hand in hand with me on regulating the amount my daughter actually needed, which also helped with her reflux issues.

    All this pumping as a result yielded me an enormous surplus of milk…and down the drain it went, because I didn’t know what to do with it back then…

    Somewhere between my first and second child, I came across some reading on breastfeeding moms donating or selling their excess milk, and that got filed into the back of my head as “cool and interesting”.

    Then my second child came, again, we went through the same breastfeeding challenges, right away I’m pumping, and just like the first time, I had no struggles in producing an abundant supply of milk…but I’d forgotten about the “cool and interesting” information I’d read on donating or selling breast milk.

    While pregnant and postpartum, I was on anti-depressants, therefore, it warranted a home visit by a public health nurse to make sure I was ok.

    2 weeks after my return from the hospital, the nurse visited me and mostly chatted with me on how I was coping. During the conversation, the topic of breastfeeding came up, and I told her the amount of milk I was producing. She was in awe, and the words that came out of her mouth were “Oh my goodness, you produce enough to feed another child, you could have had twins and still had leftovers!” she then continued “You should donate your milk!”

    I was then reminded of the information I’d read previously. I like the idea that any excess milk I had wouldn’t go to waste, so I looked into donating my surplus to the hospital.

    I found the Milk Bank Ontario website and contacted them to get screened to become a milk donor. I’m denied due to the fact that I was still on anti-depressants. I wasn’t sure how long I would continue with the medication, my mental health was very important to me, and I wasn’t going to stop it for fear of postpartum kicking in.

    Upon being rejected as a donor, I felt a little disappointed. I took my emotions on to LWAB’s sister Facebook group Managing The Motherload, and a few mothers suggested that I post my offer to another Facebook group Human Milk For Human Babies.

    So I did.

    I posted the amount of supply I had, and I was also very transparent in that I was on anti-depressants. The amount of responses I’d received within a few hours after the post went live was overwhelming.

    Essentially, I pretty much responded to the first mom that contacted me, and worked my way down that list. The first 2 moms didn’t work out, first one was because of transportation challenges, and the second one would have been the recipient, but forfeited because they were adopting and there was a holdup, so it went to the third mom.

    Third mom came from Oshawa, she could not breastfeed because she simply couldn’t produce milk after medical surgery. The first time I met her, I did not really know what to expect. I know it wasn’t, but it kind of felt like a blind date. I remember for some odd reason, I felt the need to brush my hair, as if that made a difference whether my breast milk would make a better impression than if I left my hair the usual postpartum mess.


    My recipient mom showed up at my door and we hit it off, if I may say so myself, and for the next 6 months, I continued to pump as much as I could, and each time when I had no more room in my deep freezer, which usually is once every 3-4 weeks, I’d contact her and she would make arrangements to come and pick it up, and each time she would leave a handful of storage bags for me, which I really appreciated her replenishing. We also became friends, I think I can say that, considering we’ve chatted over messages regarding parenting woes and other things. We’ve even had a play date.

    Then came time when it was time for her to go back to work. She could no longer make the trek to come out and do her usual pick up, and her baby was hitting the 1 year mark as well, so she decided it was time to transition him.

    My last batch of milk, she forfeited and I gave to another mom.

    I didn’t think I’d have this type of feeling, but when she told me that she transitioned her baby, and that she no longer needed milk, I felt a sense of sadness, like the type of sadness you feel when your kid goes off to college (not that I know what that feels like yet, but I’m thinking that would be similar). But this sadness was also lined with a sense of content, because I know that I was able to contribute to a mom and her baby in achieving what they wanted to achieve. The couple of times I’d had a cold, or my own baby had a cold, my recipient mom would be very excited because her baby was also benefiting from the antibodies my body was making.  

    My own baby is 10 months old, and I’m also in transition with my own child in preparations for daycare. This means the end of my journey as a milk donor mom. I still chat with my recipient mom every so often, and I would love to continue our developing friendship.

    Human Milk For Human Babies is a great exchange resource for moms that are either in need of milk or would like to donate extra milk. There are different area chapter groups on Facebook, so pick the appropriate one that corresponds with your area. As a recipient, please do your due diligence and ask questions of your donor mom. In Canada, there’s very little selling of breast milk, therefore, there is generally less concerns. South of the border, there’s more selling than donating, and when money is part of the equation, some people can take unethical actions such as diluting it with water, which may not be a big deal for an older child, but in an infant, can be dangerous. As a courtesy, please replenish the storage bags for the mom, as the costs do add up. As a donor, treat it like you would with your own infant, what you donate to your recipient mom, you should feel just as comfortable in feeding it to your baby.

    To find your area chapter, please visit Human Milk For Human Babies: http://hm4hb.net/community-pages/

  • Wednesday, June 01, 2016 2:22 PM | claire (Administrator)

    Maybe your kids are younger, or maybe you just want to have a nice relaxing vacation. Well, this blog post will share some tips on how to chill, relax and make new memories that will fill up the nostalgia bucket for years to come.  Looking for more of a thrill? You may like my post on Thrills with kids at Blue Mountain Resort

    Here is our top 5 activities for filling up your nostalgia bucket:


    Paddle on the lake: Take a paddle boat, a kayak or a canoe and head out on this scenic lake for 30 minutes. The time will pass much faster than you expected and you won’t believe that 30 minutes is already up. Make sure to go over to the corner edges and looks for fish, and sea creatures (there aren’t real sea creatures, don’t worry – but the kids will love searching for monsters under the sea anyway). Our little guy was on the hunt for fish. For this activity, we let the kids be in charge and went where they wanted to go. It’s a small lake with very pretty views of the village, the Westin hotel, and the downhill trails.




    Mini Golf:
    Have you ever seen a kitten chasing a ball? And you laughed and was filled with joy at just the sight of it? Well, that’s how I felt watching my four-year-old playing mini golf at the Cascade putting course . The good thing about this course is it’s not flat, so it makes it more fun and challenging for adults. As its name implies it’s like a cascade with each level on top of each other. The course is very beautiful and designed with the natural surroundings of the Escarpment as inspiration.  My tip is to go either early morning or late afternoon if you go in the summer time because it gets hot quickly and there is no shade.




    Ice-cream in the Square: 
    Every morning the team at Blue Mountain Resort sets up chairs, umbrellas, and music, along with other activities in the square. We walked around the picturesque village, enjoying ice-cream in the square while listening to music and taking in the view of the mountains. Not an ice-cream fan? Grab a frozen yogurt from Menchie’s instead and relax at your leisure. For this activity, we let the kids be in charge and direct us as to where they wanted to go. There are no cars in the village and they loved the freedom or going from place to place. Their second favourite place to relax was at the base of Blue Mountain by Activity Central. A note about Hatley Scoops, I was pleasantly surprised by the price of the cones. That large two scope cone was only $3.69! I expected it to be a lot more, and honestly one of the best tasting ice-cream. 



    Hike or take a Gondola ride with a picnic at the top of Blue Mountain: 
    This is truly a wonderful way to spend a few hours at Blue Mountain, and I cannot think of a better way to fill up the nostalgia bucket. I got this idea from my friend Kathy who goes to Blue Mountain every year. Don’t worry about having to bring food from home. There is a mini grocery store in Blue Mountain Village, simply stop by on your way to the Gondola, take the Open-Air Gondola up or take one of the hiking trails and relax at the top. Once you are up there you can play Frisbee, card game, walk around and explore the trails, or simply sit down and enjoy your delicious picnic. You are welcome, I know you’ll be thanking me for sharing this little gem with you.



    Plunge! Aquatic Centre: 
    A visit to Blue Mountain Resort is not complete without a visit to Plunge! The difference between Plunge! And the other pools is it offers both indoor and outdoor fun. Great place to let the kids run around on a rainy day, or if it’s too hot outside. This place is pure joy if you have a water baby. Three hours will go by in a flash as the kids go back and forth between the waterslides, the splash park, and the deep pool. There are comfy deck chairs for when you want to take a break, and it’s not as busy as the other pools since there is a fee to get in. It is definitely worth the extra cost. Fair warning, you are going to have a hard time getting them to leave.


    On Saturday morning, Katelyn & I went for a walk around the village. On our way back we stopped and enjoyed the view of the village. The conversation went like this:

    Katelyn : "Now this is what Saturday mornings are supposed to be like!"

    Me: "Don't get too used to it"

    Katelyn : "too late mommy, it's easy to get used to this"

    Is she ever right! For us, being only an hour and a half away this is an ideal staycation destination.


    You may also be interested in our review of Blue Mountain In Winter

  • Wednesday, June 01, 2016 11:41 AM | claire (Administrator)

    We were lucky to be invited to Blue Mountain Resort for a preview of summer at Blue. As you can probably imagine we had an absolutely glorious time! Whether you go for the thrills or for the chance to relax, this place has got you covered.

    My kids are 8 and 4, at 4 years apart  there are activities that the older one will want to do, that the younger one can’t do. And there may be some activities that the younger one wants to do that the older one doesn’t want to do. In our case, there weren't any activities that our 8-year old didn’t want to do but there were certain activities that the 4-year-old couldn’t do because of the age limitations. The good news is, it is a great opportunity to have some quality time one on one for an hour or two with each child separately.

    There are so many activities to do at Blue Mountain Resort, all you have to do is a bit of research on their website and pick the ones you think best suits your family. There really is something for every type of traveler. We are thrill seekers, but this mama is a bit on the anxious side. I’ve been to Blue Mountain Resort 5 times, only two of them were sponsored, and I am beyond impressed with how much emphasis they put on safety.

    When we were getting ready for cycling there was a family with young kids who were going mountain biking at their bike park. What I learned is that if you are under 18 in order to go downhill biking at Blue, you must first be in full body protective gear (which they have for rent). Secondly, you must do and pass a cycling test before you can go on the downhill trails.  

    Another example of this was when Katelyn wanted to go on the woodlot ropes and we didn’t have the proper shoes, they did not let her on. No exceptions were made which made this Mama very, very happy. It also made me feel much more comfortable going on the Ridge Runner with my four years old. Because I know they take safety so seriously, I was able to relax and just enjoy all the thrills at Blue. Here are some the thrills we participated in:

    Cross Country Cycling at the top of Blue Mountain with daddy:


    This was the 8-year-old’s favourite activity, she especially liked this activity because it was just her and her dad and they got a chance to do something a bit wild together. She was really proud of the fact that she tried something new and that she was able to manage a dirt road with a bit of incline. This was her first time on a cross country trail and it filled up her excitement bucket.

    Hubby liked it because it was a good introduction to mountain biking and a nice transition before trying the downhill trails. The route was very scenic with different points along the way. From the top you can see spectacular views of Collingwood, Georgian Bay, and the resort.

    What to expect: Your little one must be a good at cycling. You can bring your own gear or rent a bike and helmet for $29 for one hour. Go to the activity centre to find out how you can join a tour. Since it was Katelyn’s first time on a cross country trail, we opted to do the one-hour scenic tour with a guide. The actual cycling time is about 30 minutes.

    Turn this activity into something for the whole family!

    Our 4 year old very badly wanted to go with daddy, but he is not yet skilled enough to go on this trail. We biked at the base of the mountain on the trails where he could use his training wheels, and then took Gondola up the top. We explored the trails, enjoyed the fresh breeze and met up with Katelyn and daddy after their tour was over. While at the top the four of us enjoyed a nice picnic. This is a great way to make it into something for the whole family without anyone feeling left out but also having a bit of one-on-one time with each child. I asked a friend of mine who goes to Blue Mountain everyone summer and she gave me this tip about the picnic. It truly is a wonderful way to spend a few hours. And it fills the nostalgia bucket for years to come.


    Adrenaline pumping Ridge Runner :



    This will prove to you that your kids are braver than you think, and also it is entertaining for them to hear you scream. For this activity we paired up again, I went with the 4-year old because I thought he would want to go slower, but alas he was screaming “faster, mommy, faster”! Don’t try to take pictures of yourself going down the ride, just enjoy the ride. You won’t forget your first time on the Ridge Runner.

    Katelyn wanted to go again right away, but my legs were still shaking so she tried to get Daddy to go with her instead. This was a great activity that we were all able to participate in.


    Woodlot Ropes: 
    This is a really fun low ropes course for your little thrill seekers. Your child must be 6 years old to participate in this and make sure you are wearing shoes that are closed at the front and back. It’s challenging but not too difficult for an active eight-year-old. If you find this one too easy, you can also check out the Timber Challenge High Ropes.




    Even thrill seekers need a bit of relaxation so after each activity, we would head to the pool area which is just perfect for families with young kids. We stayed at the Luxurious Westin Trillium House. It felt like we were at a 5-star resort in the Caribbean but it was even better because it was just an hour and a half from home



    The pools in Blue Mountain resort are only 4 feet deep. This is perfect for the little ones and if you are not a great swimmer yourself you don’t have to worry because most adults will be able to stand in the pool. If you want a bit of both, head over to Plunge where you can have your little one in a life jacket in the main pool and your big one can try diving or jump from the rope into the deep pool. In order to go into the deep pool at Plunge! everyone must do a swim test as this pool is 10 feet deep. Lifeguards are on duty at Plunge! But not at the other pools on the property.

     

    Need a bit of a break?   Located on the main floor of The Westin, the Kids Club is a great place to let the kids explore. There is a wall for building blocks, toys, books, and comfy seating for the adults to relax while the kids do their own things for a little. My kids spent 30 minutes in the Kids club building blocks and playing together while I read a book. Why not just go to the room? I don’t know about you, but I find my kids are so much better together when they are outside, and also this was another 30 minutes where they weren’t sitting in the room watching TV.

     


    This is just a preview of a few of the things we did over the three days at Blue Mountain Resort. There is so much more that we didn’t do on this trip but will be exploring next time. On our list of must try are Ziplining, High ropes, and rock climbing.

    We like the thrills but we are also big fans of relaxing so we did a bit of both, which I think is the best way to really experience Blue Mountain Resort. Some of the things that filled our buckets and made for some great photo opportunities are in our second post here.


    You may also be interested in our review of Blue Mountain In Winter






 

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