This blog is about life with a baby. It's not always what 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.

We encourage you to share your experiences - by sharing your experiences and commenting on other posts, you may be helping other moms.
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  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019 2:59 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    We've been getting requests for more weekend events and we are happy to have some upcoming events on the weekends that the whole family can enjoy!  There are events across various areas. We hope you can join the event in your area. 


    On Saturday, March 30th, we'll be celebrating 11 years of Life With A Baby Programming. We have two featured events at just $10/per person for the whole family to enjoy.  

    First, at 11am, we have a family dance party with Monkey Rock Music! Kids under 1 are free.

     This event is perfect for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.  Get your dancing shoes on and join us for the ultimate family dance party with Monkey Rock Music.

    Register & Learn more at https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3318810



    Then, at 1:30pm we have a family magic & Illusion show with Magic Dan. We are very very excited to be bring Magic Dan out for a special LWAB event.  This March it's 11 years of LWAB programming and we'd love to celebrate with you! 

    You'll see a child LEVITATES in mid-air!!! (will it be yours?)

    Dan will magically make a table fly around the room and much more!!!

    Just $10/Per ticket.  This event is appropriate for children 3 and up (Kids under 2 are free)
    Register & learn more at https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3306412



    Join us in Toronto on Sunday March 31st for a Toddler Time at SkyZone 


    Toddler Time is a great shared experience for child and parent. A time for your little ones to discover the joy of being active, bouncing under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids.

    9-10 am Jumping

    10-11am Snacks are provided,(juice, cookies, fruit platter, yogurt) but you are welcome to bring your own. 

    Register & Learn more at https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3306492


    On Saturday, April 6th, we have our annual mom to mom sale & Fun Day. This is a free event. Register and learn more here https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3213926




    On Sunday, April 21st in Vaughan, we are hosting the Spring Fling & Easter Brunch. Limited spots. Register and learn more at  https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3260558



    Also, on Sunday, April 21st in Newmarket we are hosting an Easter Brunch. Register and learn more about the Newmarket event at  https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3167715



    Join us in Aurora on Saturday, April 27th for a Music & Movement Class (Fee for kids only, adults are free). Register & Learn more at  https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3303404



    We hope to see you sat our weekend events.

    LWAB Team


  • Thursday, February 21, 2019 10:57 PM | Cassandra (Administrator)

    I am a stay at home mom and have been for a little more than 6 years now. Love my kids (boys aged 6, 4 and 2), really do, but I have to admit that I have been feeling the pull to get away for some quiet time for a while now. I follow a few spa resorts on Facebook because a girl can dream right? And then the best thing happened – Grail Springs Wellness Retreat popped up in my newsfeed with a “Bring A Friend For FREE” special. As luck would have it I convinced my mother that we needed a mother-daughter weekend away so she booked herself a room for 2 nights and I got to tag along completely FREE to renew my sense of sanity away from the little people.

    I even booked a few spa treatments for the Saturday of our stay and told the hubby that was my “Christmas present” so he was off the hook. I’ll admit I was a little anxious about leaving my boys, having never been away for more than a night, but I also knew that my husband was more than capable of holding down the fort so I could take off. We left on Friday morning for the 3 hour drive to Bancroft in hopes of arriving in time for lunch and, although it was super snowy, the drive was beautiful!


    When we walked into Grail Springs it was like walking into a little castle and I was struck by how quiet and serene it was. Although our room wasn’t ready yet, because we arrived before check in, the staff were so friendly and allowed us to keep our things behind the front desk until things were ready. After our tour we settled into the Great Room to relax until lunch was ready and it was so beautiful, so peaceful and comfy, that I fell asleep almost instantly snuggled up on the huge couch with a cozy blanket wrapped around me. We then had lunch in the intimate dining room – this is not a huge resort, I think I counted just 24 seats in the room. I’ll preface with this; I am not a healthy eater. I am a vegetarian and have been for many years now but I’ll admit I’m more of a “junk food vegetarian” than one that eats a lot of veggies and good stuff. I wasn’t sure how I would like the vegan meals – which are not selected by you, each meal is planned in advance and everyone gets the same thing (minus adjustments for allergies of course). I cannot even adequately describe how good that first lunch was. It was served with an herbal tea (again, not usually a fan) that was refreshing and delicious and I cleaned my plate of my salad and falafel wrap.

    After lunch we had a “bonding ceremony for two” that, truthfully, was strange and awkward but oddly enough left me emotional and thanking my mom for the role that she plays in my kid’s lives and my own. Having not had at all a great relationship growing up, this was kinda huge for me and felt like a good “opening” for the weekend. Then we had free time to check out the hot tub which overlooks the lake and I had no idea how gorgeous Bancroft is in winter. Fluffy snow sitting on all the trees, the view was spectacular and again just peacefully quiet while soaking away our troubles in the tub!


    The days at Grail Springs are somewhat scheduled but it’s up to the individual what you’d like to participate in and what’s not for you. In the evenings there was motivational speaking and meditation, the mornings had snowshoe hikes through the incredible acreage that’s all part of Grail Springs followed by yoga. And then throughout the day (depending on what you’ve booked) your spa treatments are scheduled in too. I decided to try something different for my treatments so I booked a Colour Therapy Bath with Reiki, a CranioSacral Therapy and also an RMT massage. There were honestly so many choices for different spa treatments that I wanted to choose one of everything just to experience them all BUT the time (and obviously budget) didn't allow for that!


    So clearly this was an incredibly relaxing weekend away and I highly HIGHLY recommend putting this one on your bucket list. From the moment we arrived until we sadly had to leave everything was taken care of. My body felt completely re-energized after a weekend of truly taking care of it with exercise, pampering and amazing food. My favourite part of the weekend was the food – I can’t say enough good things about each and every meal. I can still taste those incredible flavours and, although I generally crave nothing but sweets, I seriously CRAVE those healthy vegan meals still, several months later!

    One day I plan on dragging my husband along for a weekend away because although yoga and meditation is not his thing – massages and out of this world food is definitely something he would enjoy too! Maybe I can convince him that this would be a great anniversary trip…

    -Cassandra


  • Saturday, February 09, 2019 3:05 PM | Julie (Administrator)

    Chapter 1 - Why and How To Road Trip

    Travel is an important aspect of my life. In my single years I kept a change jar on the ready for whatever crazy plans my friends and I would make. Whether an all-inclusive we couldn’t afford or a jump in the car and return Sunday sun kissed and weary road trip. In our dating years I think my husband used travel to woo me and I used it to show how adventurous I could be. From ski weekends to camping, wine tours or Mexican getaways, the excitement of packing up and trying new things was thrilling. We learned more about each other in those miles travelled then any expensive dinner at a restaurant whose name we would never remember. As life changed (insert 3 kids, a dog, a mortgage and more responsibilities then passport stamps) we adapted our travel dreams to match reality. How do we keep the wanderlust alive when our budget is meager?  How do we explore without plane tickets? We load into our minivan and hit the road. Sometimes the destination is more theme park hotel versus remote rugged landscape but we see value in adventures with our kids and the memories we create instead of checking off bucket list items.

    7 years of road trips with1, then 2 and now 3 children means we have compiled a ton of information that make our trips faster to prepare for, more affordable and further distance. We have made mistakes (do not park next to a cow field to nurse your baby!) but our kids are more resilient and we have all learned to adapt and be flexible.

     Roadtrip 2017 Florida

    Here are our tips to prepare for your family road trip.

    #1 Manage Your Expectations

    Each trip you take, every mile you drive will not be the same. You might experience the Mecca of road trips, the one that all tripping families long for.  The elusive road trip where children are happy, quiet and occupy their time with books and magazines, coloring and car games. Full of perfect family selfies and every member will smile with joy at each new experience you tirelessly planned.  You will return rested and euphoric that you plan your next trip just weeks later, but this time further away, why not? Then you have the most common of road trips. Tantrum filled, garbage everywhere, “I’m bored” sung at the top of lungs, fast food and video game fuelled miles of family fun. This trip while not as restful or perfect will still amount to great family adventure its just wrapped up and packaged with crazy enroute. Both trips bring about closeness and new experiences but your expectation level will determine what you take away from the trip. You have to be ok with rain, forgotten items, getting lost and sick kids the same way you are ok with sunsets, picnics and late check outs. A roll with the punches type attitude at all times.

    #2 Pack For Anything

    The beauty of travelling in your car, van, truck or RV is not having luggage limits and weight restrictions. You can bring whatever your little ones require for their sanity and yours without having to make sacrifices. Personally I love to pack with a level of organization and thoughtfulness that borders on obsessive. “Everything has a home and everything in its home” is my motto. I prep our trips with lists and an idea of what each person will require for any of the activities planned and their regular daily living needs all according to the weather conditions that might apply. Categories like; hygiene, medicinal/first Aid, sleeping, bathing/swimming, clothing, outerwear, eating in/out, toileting, car activities and hotel/rental/outdoor activities. Of course this is all dependent on your destination. Packing for camping, for example, requires cooking materials, tents etc. With three kids there have been many trips where baby seats, playpens, jumparoos and nursing pillows were part of the list. There are no limits. My packing materials are a variety of vessels purchased or recycled over the years. I love Thirty31 Gifts - Utility totes in large and medium for loose items like beach supplies, oversized outerwear, food and even baby gear. They have a line of pouches that I use for packing snacks, storing all of our medicinal/First Aid needs and for smaller trips I have packed all our hygiene supplies in one. Costco has a great line of foldable crates that stack nicely and hold a ton. Reusable shopping bags are great for kids to carry their car activities or the variety of electronics and cords that come on most road trips.  We mostly pack our clothing in canvas duffel bags that are flexible and easy to over stuff and stack on top of one another in the van. I am not a fan of backpacks for the kids. They never seem to carry them and they are a pain to carry in bundles as an adult. The items never go back in the same way, the zipper is annoying to open and close and they get muddy/wet/food stained etc. I always pack a separate adult bag for the car. It contains our maps and travel book (we geek out and track mileage, timing and spending to see how we compare to previous trips, I know, I know insert face palm here) phone chargers, books, headphones for podcasts, first aid kit, pens, an envelope with some emergency money, camera, paper towel, Lysol wipes, empty shopping bags for garbage, gravol and gum. 

    #3 Make A Plan

    Trust me! I know it doesn’t sound like the spontaneous adventure you saw on those adorable car commercials. But you will thank me later.  Planning ahead doesn’t just mean booking an AirBnB or hotel at your destination. It means plan for the drive by looking into the rest areas, tourism, restaurant and gas options and a printed map with directions along the way. Look at your total travel time to the destination and then calculate the stops you will require and add that to your total travel time. For example for our drive to Lake Placid the driving time was estimated at 5hrs 46mins. With a departure time of 7am, a meal/gas stop and a planned 2hr tourism stop plus the border crossing it translated into an 8.5hr day.  Knowing the estimated travel time, where and what we want to do on the way makes it more enjoyable and less frantic.

    If you only remember one thing make it this; Trying to find a hotel that will take more then 4 people with a reasonable nightly rate is difficult if you don’t do it in advance. Hotels charge premium rates for larger families and most often never have a sale or deal when you arrive. There are often limited rooms to handle more then 4 people as well. Trust me! 2 hours of night driving with three crying kids around North Carolina just to find a room for the night taught us a serious lesson.

     Splurge lunch enroute

    #3 Set a Budget

    Road Trips can be as cost saving or luxury as you make them. You can choose between gorgeous hotels, resorts, AirBnB’s, fancy places to eat or fast food chains, snacks you pack or snacks you buy on the road. Decide at the planning stage what you want to spend and make it happen. Take into account currency exchange, travel insurance, oil changes, tolls, gas, fluids, food, car activities, long distance and data usage, lodging, activities, impromptu purchases if you forgot, lost or had an emergency and of course souvenirs!

    #4 Plan Car Entertainment For Kids

    You might think an ipad and some movies will do it. For short distances (under 4 hrs) it might. But kids get bored, motion sick, anxious or just annoying (are we there yet?) because they’re as excited as you are, if not more. We have tried a variety of things depending on the ages and stages of our kids.

    Babies – puppets, blocks, flashlights, music, rattles, car/stroller toys, snacks, pacifiers, cause and effect toys, tissue paper for crinkling, bubble wrap for squeezing, rain sticks and time out bottles.

    Toddler/Preschool – any of the items in the baby sections plus touch and feel/pop up/busy books, glow sticks, stickers and paper, crayons and paper, bubbles (not as messy as you think), Melissa & Doug paint papers, aqua doodle, magnet boards, puppet making, post it notes, play doh, felt boards and pieces

    Kindergarten –this stage was about showing them how much time remained. I picked up toys or trinkets from the dollar store or the loot bag section of Mastermind toys based on my kids interests and had them individually wrapped. They got one every few hours. Or make a linking chain for each hour of the drive and every hour you take one of the links off. Kids love when they fall asleep and wake up to remove 3 chains. Also Ipads, books, books on tape, movies, glow sticks, coloring, with special markers, card games, car games like I spy/car bingo/I’m going camping etc.

     

    Stay tuned for  tips, guides and information specific to family friendly road trip destinations.

    Cheers,

    Julie


  • Thursday, January 31, 2019 2:33 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    Yesterday was Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada and I was really surprised by the number of comments I saw saying that we need to stop talking about mental health. It occurred to me that most people do not understand what stigma is.

    I’m going to give a breakdown of why we need to talk more about Maternal Mental Health.

    1. Not talking about it perpetuates the stigma about mental health and that it's a fluff illness.

    2. Because of stigma parents do not reach out for help.

    3. Without help and treatment, people suffer in silence which leads to making the situation worse.

    4. Maternal suicide is a leading cause of death in postpartum women. 

    So tell me again why we need to stop talking about this!

    What we need to do is do is talk more - not just on Bell Lets Talk Day. We need to talk about mental health honestly not just a text or social media posts. We need to speak openly with the people in our families. We need to talk to our friends and co-workers. We need to talk often and openly and more than one day of the year because we need to break down stigma.

    Did you know that none of the major mental health organizations have maternal mental health as a part of their mandate? We need these organization to come together and work with our provinces to create a national strategy for maternal mental health. We need to take the onus off of new mothers for reaching out for help when they may not even know they are ill. 

    We need a strategy that includes screening, referral pathways and treatment options for Canadian mothers and not just the lucky ones who have won the postal code lottery.

    All of this is why on Bell Lets Talk Day we talked. We talked a lot with the #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth hashtag. We reached over 5 million impressions with over 1000 people participating.

    But we did more than talk. We held in person events where parents were able to get together and talk about self-care and mental wellness. Over 150 mothers and their babies came out to Indigo stores across the country.



     



    I share my story a lot. I talked about maternal mental health a lot. I believe the storytelling saves lives and parents need to know that they’re not alone. But that’s not all I do - I run the Life With A Baby which chapters across the country where we focussed heavily on preventing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders through peer support.

    I advocate for mothers. Last year working with the Perinatal Mental Health Coalition Canada we submitted a letter to get Maternal Mental Health on the agenda for the National Health Ministers' meeting. I also submitted a brief for the Great Canadian Healthcare Debate to get more people aware of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders and push for screening. 

    To all the people who are saying we should talk less, I hope that you are doing something.

    I hope you are advocating for mental health.

    I hope you’re creating safe places.

    I hope you are sharing resources.

    I hope you are breaking down barriers.

    Because if all you are doing is calling out people who are trying to make a difference - we need less of that.


    I'm grateful to Bell for starting the Lets Talk campaign now it's up to each of us to push for me and create lasting change in our local communities and across Canada.


  • Tuesday, January 29, 2019 9:51 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    After my own experience with Postpartum Anxiety and Depression after the birth of my daughter, I became an advocate for Maternal Mental Health. In my journey, my main goal has been to help in pushing the need for a national strategy for mothers which includes screening, referral pathways and treatment options. 

    To this end, I participated in the 2018 Great Canadian Health Care Debate through the College of Health Leaders and the National Health Leaders Conference. My brief for Maternal Mental Health was in the top 8 and can be found here 

    It was at the National Health Leaders conference that I met with a few coaches and strategists who pointed me in the direction of the National Health Minister's Meeting which is when all the health ministers from the Provinces and Territories get together each year. Because Maternal Mental Health falls under the Provincial umbrella, our best chance of getting a national strategy for maternal mental health is getting it in front of all the health ministers at the same time.

    With a strategy in hand, I connected with some other advocates in Saskatchewan and asked to go together to meet with one of the health ministers in the province because the work Saskatchewan is doing for mothers is incredible and can be used as a model across the country. 


    It was in August of 2018 that we met with the Honourable Greg Ottenbreit Minister of Rural and Remote Health and asked him to become a champion for change.  We met on behalf of the Perinatal Mental Health Coalition Canada which is a grassroots group made up of over 150 advocates across Canada. 


    A letter was drafted and sent for a request for Maternal Mental Health to be added to the National Health Ministers' Meeting for 2019.  We are grateful for the opportunity to have submitted a letter on behalf of Canadian mothers. 


    This Bell Lets Talk, I wanted to bring awareness to both the work that is happening in Saskatchewan and also to someone who is championing this important cause in his province.  We submitted some questions for an interview with Minister Ottenbreit and his responses are below.  Every champion for Maternal Mental Health Matters. I hope we'll be able to have one in every province.

    In conversation with the Honourable Greg Ottenbreit Minister of Rural and Remote Health

    Maternal Mental Health isn’t part of the mandate of any major Canadian mental health institution - what compelled you to become a champion for change?

    Mental health, including maternal mental health, is an important issue to the residents of Saskatchewan, to our government, and to me personally. We know that 1 in 5 women in Saskatchewan experience either depression and/or anxiety during their pregnancy, or for up to one year after. We also know that there is always more work to do to help improve mental health supports for Saskatchewan residents. As part of our 10-Year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan highlights, maternal mental health was identified as an important determinant of future child and family mental and physical health and well-being. That is why our government continues to support ongoing efforts in this area.

     

    As a husband, father, and recent grandfather, I also personally know the importance of having supports in place for parents, especially mothers, during and after their pregnancy. For these reasons, that is why I am proud of our governments efforts in this area, which includes such initiatives as the Maternal Wellness Program as part of our HealthLine 811 service or Universal screening of pregnant and postpartum women using the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale, in helping improve overall maternal mental health and wellbeing.

     

    Advocates stress the importance of having political allies to champion maternal mental health. What advice can you share for those wanting to raise awareness and engage elected officials in their local jurisdiction or province?

    It is important to remain positive, committed, and passionate about the issue of maternal mental health. Sometimes, issues such as maternal mental health may not be on the radar of elected officials, and groups that help advocate for improved maternal mental health services can help improve awareness.

     

     Prescreening for PMAD via the eHealth platform is groundbreaking as the first of its kind in Canada. Tell us more about how it came about and expected outcomes.

    We will soon have two ways we screen expectant and new mothers who are at risk of developing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder to ensure they get the support they need and referrals to services if appropriate.

     

    HealthLine 811 launched the Maternal Wellness Program in 2013. This program provides easier access to help for women who struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety, or feelings of loss following a miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a newborn.

    In addition, we are in the process of updating the Saskatchewan Prenatal Record Form, which is used by medical practitioners to monitor a woman’s pregnancy, ensuring best care practices in diagnostic tests, monitoring and assessment.  The form accompanies a woman to her labour and delivery.  It also links the prenatal information to intrapartum and postpartum care for health care providers.

    The new form will prompt medical practitioners to complete the “Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale” (EPDS) twice over the course of the pregnancy.  As well, the accompanying Care Guide to the EPDS assists health practitioners in supporting pregnant women through appropriate referrals and interventions. Integrating the EPDS & Care Guide into the prenatal care process will ensure pregnant women in Saskatchewan are screened for depression and anxiety with appropriate referrals as required.

     

    You’ve met with a number of advocates for maternal mental health. Is there a particular account of lived experience that resonated with you?

    It’s tough to single out just one. The experiences that have been shared with me are all unique and different, but each of them speak to the need to continuing to work and improve maternal mental health services and supports.

     

    What do you envision as the future of maternal mental health in Saskatchewan and in Canada?

    As more jurisdictions and governments become increasingly aware of the need to improve mental health services, including our own, I believe you’ll see improvements in the care received from healthcare providers, but also in the level of supports provided. Services such as our Maternal Wellness Program are important tools to help those who may be suffering, especially in rural and remote areas, but increasing awareness will also help reduce the stigma, and hopefully lead to improvements in overall care.

     

    What are some ways you practice self-care and foster mental wellness in your own life?

    Trying to strike a healthy balance is difficult, but it is something I try to do. Self-care including regular exercise, a somewhat balanced diet, and taking care of your own mental wellness are important for everyone to practice, especially for someone involved in a stressful occupation, like being a politician! My strong Christian faith acts as a foundation for me to helping achieve these goals. Healthy, positive relationships, whether through faith, family, or friends, also help me in maintaining positive self-care and mental wellness. These pillars have helped me personally get through many difficult times in my life, whether those are the loss of our son to cancer, or my own cancer journey. My wife and I also founded, Brayden Ottenbreit Close Cuts for Cancer, which we founded shortly after our son was diagnosed in 1998. We continue with that work as well today, having raised over $800,000 for various local cancer initiatives.

    For me, it’s also important to have hobbies and interests that I’m passionate about. As one might expect, I am a political junkie, but I’m also a licensed pilot, and as my Twitter profile states, am a certified gear-head regardless if it rolls, floats, or flies! I find that having hobbies and interests are important in striking a healthy balance, and help me in practicing positive self-care and mental wellness.

    Thank you Minister Ottenbreit for your willingness to be a champion for mothers. 

    Claire 

  • Monday, January 28, 2019 12:03 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    A couple years ago I went to the Family Travel Association conference in the Bahamas. The conference was actually on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and it was my first trip on a cruise. As often happens at conferences, we were talking with different people and learning about lots of resources that are available for families and one that popped out at me because it was just so incredible, is the work that Margo Payton does with Kids Sea Camp. Kids Sea Camp is just one aspect of her Family Dive Adventures business but it was more than enough to capture my interest.



    I was initially hooked when she talked about working children with
    special needs and how she works hard to make sure every child in one of her programs thrives. If you give them enough notice, they can accommodate most special needs - which is amazing because the options for travelling with a special needs family member can be pretty slim. In talking with her further, I learned about the Kids Sea Camps and how they are really geared for kids to learn not only how to dive and snorkel, but they also function as a way for the kids to be in camp program so that the adults can have a vacation, too - Genius!



    At first, I was going to put just my daughter into the diving program and then I learned that they do full certification programs for adults too. So I thought that this could be a way for the whole family to learn to dive together while on vacation. The other reason I wanted to learn more is because my husband is a certified scuba diver. He loves diving and has always wanted to be able to drive with us but I've always been a bit nervous of deep water and I didn't even know that kids as young as 10 can get
    certified. I  always thought that scuba diving was just for adults. The whole family could learn together  which is a great fit for our.



    Our kids LOVE water. This is Ethan (then 6.5) snorkeling in Roatan and because of that the idea of a vacation that has a camp program, that teaches the children how to be safe in the water, and learn to scuba dive, that gives us adults a chance to also have time together, and where I can overcome my fear of deep water quickly became a bucket list trip for us.



    I'm very excited to be going with Kids Sea Camp to the Cayman Islands this April for my birthday.  What better present than going on vacation as a family and learning to scuba dive? Now the big thing for me is that I have an intense fear of deep water, so this trip is also about overcoming my fear and learning to enjoy deep water - (I will let you know how that goes when I come back from the trip ) I did an intro to diving class in Bermuda last October to prepare me for re-entry to the underwater world. I did go Scuba diving once before in Cuba before I had the kids and loved it but after kids safety became a big issue for me and I was worried so didn’t go again. I know all the PADI certified programs have to follow rigorous safety protocol and everyone is trained, but I loved that Family Divers is focussed specifically on families and Margo herself has received many awards.   



    I love that the younger siblings can participate whether that's through the Bubblemaker program or just learning to snorkel with the camp. Sometimes it can be difficult to find something that everyone can do together, where the parents can have fun, and where it feels like a vacation. My daughter is a bit older now so she isn't into kids club and this is a great fit because it's more of a camp - the kids can participate in their activities, and the adults can participate and have fun and then everyone can come back together at the end of the day and really connect. I’m really looking forward to this because it is basically a kids camp program where the parents can also participate and if they already know how to dive, they can go out on their own.


    The best thing about Kids Sea Camp is the choices of locations that you can do it at. We’re going to Caymans, but there are lots of other programs all over the world. Whether you are new to diving or you just want to go on that epic diving trip with your family they have lots of destinations and lots of choices so check them out at https://familydivers.com/kids-sea-camp/ and get your dive on!



  • Tuesday, January 22, 2019 4:58 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    My daughter is turning 12 this year, first of all, I cannot even believe where the time went it just flew by.  You know that saying “the days are long but the years are short”? So true. Over the holidays she asked for a big girl room. She made it known that she was over pink and purple for the walls and wanted a more mature room.

     

    The last time we painted her room and decorated it she was 4 so it was really saying goodbye to the little girl years. Once I got over my initial “this is the last year before she becomes a teenager” moment, I started looking around for options. We wanted something that could grow with her in the next two years and that was also cute. Mostly though we wanted something affordable. We decided to go with Giant Tiger. What I loved about getting the items from Giant Tiger, other than the price, was how fast we received them, a day after placing the order some items arrived. 

     

    The Before


     

    The In Between 


     





    And the after.

     



    She loves the bed because in her own words “she always wanted something a little fancy”.  Here is a list of what we chose to make this look

    BedMattressBedding 

    What you’ll need: You’ll need to purchase a box spring separately. We got ours at a local mattress store for $100.

     

    We had the kids do a quick video about the room. My son is a joker, as you can tell, but you might notice how much detail Katelyn gives about the vanity.  Ethan was happy this morning because Katelyn didn’t “hog’ their joint bathroom doing her hair.

     

     

    Get the Vanity here 


    This is a desk that can grow with her and loved the white detailing on side. From a practical aspect it’s good for storing all the supplies she needs to avoid cluttering the top.

     

     

     

    Katelyn is a bookworm and the night stands are already stocked with books.  I especially like that they are hidden away. Anything that helps to keep the look and feel of order is my friend. 

     

    To help keep her closet more organized, we purchased two of these Honey Can Do Drawer Chest.  One thing I’ve noticed is that her closet was becoming messy with things scattered everywhere. These will help to keep things organized.


    In the whole process of finding the look that we wanted and going through the Giant Tiger site, I realized that they have a lot more products than I even knew of.  We are extremely happy with the service, value, and quality of products.


    To brighten up the room we added a bouquet of flowers on the wall.



    To pull the room together we added a subtle blue rug to pick up the blues in the other pillows, nicknacks and bedding.  

    Here another look at the two rooms! I'm loving this soft clean look of her new room.  




    This post is sponsored by Giant Tiger but as always all opinions are my own.

  • Monday, January 21, 2019 11:21 AM | Claire (Administrator)

    Parenting.  It’s a joyful, hilarious, and rewarding experience. And one of the toughest. Sometimes we don’t talk about the hard parts because, well, it’s hard! We don’t always feel safe or accepted enough to open up, especially when it comes to our mental health.


    If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you probably have a family member, friend, neighbour, or co-worker who has dealt with mental health struggles. Pregnancy and early motherhood is a vulnerable time, and 1 in 5 women will experience Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders such as depression and anxiety. Yet, as society improves how and how much we talk about mental health, the challenges faced specifically by moms are often left out of the conversation. We’ve made strides, but we’re still a long way from making sure the support we need is always available to anyone who needs it.


    Together,  we can change that. Life with a Baby literally exists to create a safe space for parents to talk about every aspect of parenting - even the hard bits. This year, we’ve been invited to partner with Bell for #BellLetsTalk Day onJanuary 30th  to help make sure mental wellness for moms is part of the conversation. We’ve also partnered with Indigo Books - and this part is especially for you  - to host Baby and Me Pajama Party events (toddlers are also welcome!) in select stores across the country. We’re all about exercising mental wellness in real life. Come out, and meet up with other parents in a safe, casual space (seriously just roll out in your PJs) to share ideas about how we can better take care of ourselves and each other as we take care of our kids.


    A  certified practitioner will lead a chat about self-care and mental wellness, followed by a fun song and story circle time lead by Indigo staff for babies and toddlers to enjoy. Afterwards, feel free to stay to enjoy some coffee and treats while you chat and relax with other parents.


    Let ’s make 2019 an even bigger year for maternal mental health. We’re
    strongest when we unite so we’re asking you to join us! On  January 30th let's say it loud and proud to create momentum to last throughout the year!


    Here  what’s you can do to both help the cause and your self-care goals:


    1. On  January 30, post on your social platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook,  and SnapChat are all eligible) throughout the day using both: #BellLetsTalk And #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth.  Share your stories, encouragement, perspective, and support to let everyone know maternal mental wellness deserves a seat at the table!

    2. While at it, check in on new or expecting parents in your life. A call, text, visit, or delivery from someone who cares about how you’re really doing can be the life raft on tough day or time.

    3. Visit lifewithababy.com/letstalk  to find and register for an Indigo event happening on January 30 in your province. If you can’t go, share it with your
      family and friends and encourage them to register and join in!




    Thanks to you, we’re a little closer every day to a world where we prevent Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders wherever possible, give support when inevitable, and maternal wellness is conventional. Canadian Mothers needs a national strategy for Maternal Mental Health. With your help, we can get there.


    Together Stronger,

    Claire


    Sample Social Media Posts

    @lifewithababy has joined forces with #BellLetsTalk to highlight the fight to support maternal mental health. Use #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth to show you care!


    • Today on #BellLetsTalk Day, we embrace those navigating Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. We’re in this together.


    #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth


    • Check in on a new or expecting mom today. Just  hearing your voice can mean make a difference to someone dealing with Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders including depression, insolation, or anxiety.


    #BellLetsTalk

    #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth


    • 1 in 5 women will experience Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Some won’t even know it. Let’s change that. @lifewithababy support network offers resources, events and activities near you.


    #BellLetsTalk

    #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth


    • Know a new parent? They might be dealing with more than sleepless nights. A call, a meal, an invite for coffee or a walk, or to watch the baby for an hour can go a long way to help.


    #BellLetsTalk

    #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth


    • It takes a village to raise great kids - and it starts with supporting parents. Check in, follow-up, offer help. We’re in this together.


    #BellLetsTalk

    #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth


    • What does maternal mental health mean to you? Have a story or advice to share?


    Share using #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth

    #BellLetsTalk


    • 1 in 5 women will experience Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders but may be too afraid to ask for help. Let’s change that.


    #BellLetsTalk

    #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth


    • Research shows peer support reduces social isolation. New parents often struggle with Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders in silence. Let’s change that. Check in, follow-up, offer help.


    #BellLetsTalk

    #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth



  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 5:55 PM | Jill (Administrator)

    I love to exercise! But this was not always the case. Still to this day I consider myself to be the least athletic athlete. When I was in elementary school I played on every sports team because no one ever got cut, but I was never any good at sports.

    In high school, I tried out for the track team and with the help of a friend to share rides with after practice and an amazing coach, something clicked – I loved running and I was actually good at it! From there I went on to earn a full scholarship to a NCAA division 1 university.


    I still run sometimes, but I haven’t competed in a race in ~5 years. But I still love the feeling I get after a good run. It took a while to find something that offered me the same ‘high’ as running does, but I finally found Weekend Warriors Bootcamp in Vaughan, Ontario and I’ll never look back.


    I started working out at Weekend Warriors Bootcamp when my second daughter was around 11 months old and it was the best decision I’ve made. Prior to that I had a gym membership which I thought was great because they had a daycare and I could have someone watch my daughter while I exercised. But, although I loved exercising I found myself wandering around the gym aimlessly trying out a few different pieces of cardio and resistance training equipment but with no real plan. Weekend Warriors Bootcamp takes the thought out of my workout and allows me just to show up and be confident that I am going to feel amazing after the 60-min full body high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout.



    Price – This is usually the number one thing on my mind for any purchase I make. I am not shy to admit that I am frugal!! While the monthly cost of small group training studios are typically higher than a gym, looking back at the number of times I utilized my gym membership in the last year vs. the classes I have done at Weekend Warriors Bootcamp, there is no question that the price per use is WAY lower at Weekend Warriors Bootcamp compared to the gym.

    Another thing to consider is that working out in a class with 6-12 people makes it feel like you are getting personal training without the cost of a personal trainer!

    And each membership includes an unlimited number of classes, an individualized meal plan and one-on-one consultations to measure your weight, body fat, lean muscle mass and to make sure you are staying on track to what you want to achieve.

    Community – If you ask anyone who is a current or past member of Weekend Warriors Bootcamp I can almost guarantee that everyone will say the same thing – Weekend Warriors Bootcamp is truly unique. The staff here are caring, compassionate and make you feel important. Although the members may only see each other a few times a week during a workout, they act like they’ve known each other for years are and great friends. There is something special about pushing your body to limits greater than you knew you could and seeing the results that you and others around you are getting. It’s sort of an unspoken bond between the members that you’ll never really understand until you have experienced it yourself.

    Science – For those who don’t know me personally, I have a PhD in kinesiology which means exercise to me is way more than just the number of calories burnt. To ensure you are getting the most out of your workout there needs to be science behind it!!

    Studies have shown that participating in HIIT workouts are around 3 times more effective in burning fat than moderate cardio workouts – Get off that stair master and get into Weekend Warriors Bootcamp to see for yourself!

    At Weekend Warriors Bootcamp the members wear a heart rate monitor and each workout is designed to bring your heart rate into the different zones for a certain amount of time. Most people are intimidated by the word ‘bootcamp’ or ‘HITT’, but this system ensures that you are working at an appropriate level based on your individual level of fitness.


    Additionally, measuring your heart rate during exercise can help you determine if you're pushing your body too hard. If your resting heart rate is elevated or you see your heart rate higher than usual for the same amount of work then it is a good indication that the body needs some rest.

    Personal – And from a personal standpoint, I feel great. I feel strong, I feel healthy and I feel like I have found something that I love just as much as I love running and something that I know I can stick to – it’s addictive!!



  • Wednesday, November 14, 2018 1:25 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    As far as I’m concerned, a trip to California without visiting San Francisco is a missed opportunity. Accordingly, I'm going to share how to have the most epic California road trip with a 10-day-itinerary. You can take out some of the activities as needed to align with the length of time you have for your trip but starting or ending in San Francisco is a must.

    For this trip we decided to fly into San Francisco and fly out of Los Angeles but you can also switch this around and do the trip the other way.

    Day 1:

    Try to arrive mid-morning so that you can enjoy the afternoon and evening and not completely waste the day just travelling.  For the San Francisco part of the trip don't even bother with a rental car because it is effortless to get around on public transportation, called Muni, and you'll want to have an authentic cable car experience. San Francisco is a foodie paradise, many travellers go there for the food! Drop your luggage at your hotel, an excellent base in San Francisco is the Union Square Hilton.


    After checking into your hotel, get over to a Pier - any pier - there is something to do, see, or eat at all of them.  I'd suggest Pier 39 for your first evening as you can have dinner at Pier Market Restaurant after exploring all the activities, taking a ride on the carousel, or watching the seals who have taken over some areas of the wharf and made it their home.


    Day 2:

    Hop on Muni Transportation and make your way over to Pier 33 where you can buy your tickets for the Alcatraz tour. I recommend going in the morning before it gets too busy or too hot.  The first tour is at 9:30AM, and you'll take the ferry to get there. With kids, the tour will take 2-3 hours.  You'll be surprised by the beauty of the gardens, and be sure to check out the water birds. There is a lot to see here, and we would have missed a lot of things if not for the scavenger hunt activity that the kids participating in. If you have kids be sure to grab an activity book and they can get sworn in as Junior ranger at the end.

    Tip: Purchase your tickets online to confirm your spot and avoid the long lines


    After a busy morning, a good option is lunch at Fisherman's Wharf which is a very touristy place but has amazing street food! Grab some delicious sandwiches and snacks for lunch, walk around the area and take in the energy. 

    With kids, it is great to pair a busy morning with a calm afternoon and the Aquarium of the Bay is a perfect calm afternoon activity that's great for the whole family.   You can walk or hop on the Muni Transportation which is included for three days with your CityPass .



    The one mistake a lot of parents make on family trips is only doing things that are kid-oriented. Throw that idea out the window, especially when it comes to food.  A great stop for dinner is Palm House. This restaurant has a fun, casual feel and the food is divine! There are so many things to try here but the Chicken Roulade jumps to the top of the list.





    Day 3:

    San Francisco is a large city and quite diverse in offerings from one area of the city to the next.  A great base for a few days that gives an entirely different and a bit luxurious feel is the Presidio of San Francisco. The Presidio is where San Francisco began. Today it is a National Park site and a National Historic Landmark district located at the the centre of the Golden Gate National Recreation area. A fantastic choice for accommodation is the Inn at the Presidio.  A little bit of luxury in a National Park. They go all out to make your stay a unique experience, from 5-7PM daily they offer wine, cheese, and crackers.  This is a great way to either spend some time alone with your partner while the kids watch TV in the room or for the whole family to relax on the patio by the fire-pit while meeting other travellers.

    There is a lot to do in the Presidio from the Walt Disney Museum, to visiting the home of George Lucas (Creator of Star Wars). The kids will love geocaching or exploring with the explorer backpack. There is a convenient shuttle to take you around he Presidio if you didn't drive.



    You will want to visit the California Academy of Sciences, and you can just commit to spending the whole day in this area because There are quite a few things within walking distance including the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. Most of the activities at the California Academy of Sciences can be explored at your leisure, but some like the movies in the planetarium will need separate tickets.



    An easy and delicious option for lunch that is in walking distance from the Science centre is Pacific Catch. There is something for everyone in the family. The poke is delicious and they offer lots of healthy options for their kids meals. After lunch, you can make your way back to the Science Centre if you didn't finish exploring. Note that there is an amazing playground outside and a carousel where the rides are just $1.  Once you are done there, make your way to  San Francisco Botanical Gardens for a nice leisurely and stroll. You have to get in before closing but once in your can explore on your own and exit whenever you want.


    Here is a tip to make family vacations really fun and create some moments that will stay with you even after the trip is over. Pack at least one dress up outfit and spend one night at a fancy restaurant.  A  good option in San Francisco is The Dorian. They have two areas, ask for The Drawing Room at the back with the gorgeous chandelier. This is your family vacation so take some downtime to relax and enjoy a nice dinner and be fancy for a little.  The great thing about the Dorian is while it looks fancy and luxurious the prices are still reasonable.

    Day 4:

    When you think San Francisco you think Golden Gate Bridge and the Presidio offers some fantastic views.  A great hike right off the property will take you to the Inspiration Point lookout. Next, make your way over to Chrissy Field for some amazing views of the bridge. Finally, head over to the Golden Gate Welcome Center for the perfect Instagram photo and also the entrance to to walk across the bridge.


    A great stop for lunch is Gott’s Roadside a casual style restaurant where you can order a variety of things from their menu and then grab a seat and enjoy your lunch. If you like beer, they have some pretty good IPAs on tap.


    There are so many other things to explore in San Francisco, and you can really spend a whole week here exploring the various communities.  If you are up for it, a fun thing to do is quickly go through the rest of the things on your City Pass like the Exploratorium, hop on a cruise with Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, or head over to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art · SFMOMA

    Day 5:

    If you didn't do it already, now, it's time to pick up a rental car and settle in for one of the most beautiful drives and some stunning lookouts along the way.  Taking Highway 1, the next stop on your adventure is Monterey, an absolutely gorgeous picturesque town that you will fall in love with immediately upon arriving.  Walk the path along the water, relax at the beach, or grab lunch at one of the local restaurants.






    Once you've had your fill, drive towards Carmel by the Sea and spend the rest of the day and make sure to stop over for the night. The only way to describe Carmel is that someone in love painted their most romantic and beautiful images and then magic brought it to life.  I felt like someone picked me up and put me into a romantic fairy tale that had come alive.  Everywhere you look it's beauty all around, from the flowers along the street to the design of the homes and stores to the smell of the bakeries and restaurants.  Carmel by the Sea is pure relaxation and bliss.  The kids will love all the little alleyways to explore. This would be an ideal stop for a couples getaway.






    Day 6:

    You can do the full scenic drive all the way to Los Angeles, but if you want to speed things up, you can take the fastest route from Carmel and head directly to LA.

    A great base in Los Angeles in the Langham Pasadena. I loved loved loved Pasadena which is a stark contrast from downtown Los Angeles. If this is your first trip to LA let me warn you ahead of time that downtown LA might be different from what you are expecting and the Walk Of Fame is not what you are imagining in your head. The area is a bit dirty, and if you have kids, you definitely want to go during the daytime preferably mid-morning and not in the evening or night.  You will also want to hold onto their hands and keep a close eye on where they are walking.

    Could you skip a visit to the Walk of Fame? Yes, but you'll probably wish you didn't because it's such an iconic part of Hollywood.

    After you've done the Walk of Fame, another cool place to go is the Hollywood Bowl where you can see and get some good shots of the Hollywood Sign and see the city from a great vantage point.


    Day 7 - Universal Studios Hollywood

    You'll think you are doing this for the kids but let's be honest you love it just as much as they do. Universal Studios Hollywood did not disappoint from the Harry Potter rides to the photos with your favourite characters; this will be a day that's great for everyone in your family. I highly, highly recommend the Universal Express. Last time we went Universal Studios Orlando, we didn't get the express pass and regretted it because you are spending a lot of time in line. With little ones, this makes a big difference, and we were able to do all the rides we wanted and then explored the shops.  The highlight, of course, is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for any Potter heads in your house.  If you have costumes of your favourite characters at home, bring one with you and have the kids wear it. It will elevate the experience for them.  It's also a great way to make use of those expensive Halloween costumes.


    Day 8

    Make use of the many free things to do with the kids in LA as well including exploring a local park and playground or relaxing at the famous Venice Beach.




    After a day of relaxation, a great spot for dinner is Lemonade.  The mashed potatoes, grilled cheese sandwich, and the macaroni & cheese were a huge hit with the kids. I loved the jerk chicken.

     

    Day 9

    Chances are your kids are LEGO obsessed. If like me you are from Toronto and have only been to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, just tell your kids you are going to LEGOLAND without describing what it is and then watch their faces light up when you get there.

    It was about a 2-hour drive from Pasedena to LEGOLAND California, though it took less time on the way back and it was worth the drive. Get the multi-park pass because it offers better value and gives your kids access to the main waterpark (which they'll see and want to go to anyway).  The waterpark is huge and the themed splash pads were a big hit with the kids.  The SEA LIFE Aquarium is included in the multi-park pass and it's a great way to wind down after a busy day in the sun and before heading back in the car for the long drive.  Of course you can avoid the drive back by staying overnight in one of their hotels including the newly opened Castle Hotel







    Day 10:

    For your last day you’ll want to relax a bit before heading home. This is a busy itinerary and you’ll have lots of fun doing it but you want to make sure that you come home feeling rested especially if it’s back to routine the next day. I suggest relaxing at the pool, spend some downtime cuddling and watching TV in between packing. If you can manage it have arrange babysitting and go on an adult only lunch or dinner or spend some time alone at the spa as a treat for yourself.



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