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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  • Monday, September 24, 2018 11:00 AM | YJ

    Come




    Morning Zumba fitness in Joylandbeach community center!

    Drop ins always welcome!!

    Let it move you!!

  • Saturday, September 15, 2018 2:50 PM | Julie (Administrator)

    This summer our goal was to keep things as simple as possible. Our kids learned to fill their school free hours with creative play and sometimes complaining of boredom. "It's ok!" I told my husband, "in their boredom they will find something new to do" (dear god I'd silently pray, I hope the internet was right!)  And you know? they actually did. Minus some squabbles, flopping around on the floor, picking at their toes kind of moments - they eventually did find new things to create, play, explore and do!


    As the summer wore on we wanted to take advantage of having time together as a whole family and explore. Short on time and funds we elected to see what was around us we hadn't yet tried. In my "research" (read insta-stalking) I found a great Instagram poster called @littleadventuresgta  A local mom posting about cool parks, play spaces and outdoor areas around the Greater Toronto Area that she enjoyed with her family. Perfect! I can just do what she is doing, I mean look at her cute pics I thought to myself. I shared the idea with hubby and off we went. Of course, as most moms know a simple trip to a park is not just as simple as grab the keys to the car and go. With three kids under 7 I usually still require a bag or two of essentials.  Here is my park date packing list


    • blanket for lounging, snacking or toddler tantrums

    • balls, frisbee, bubbles or chalk for additional fun

    • sunscreen and lots of it

    • hats

    • water

    • snacks (enough to feed 3 times your actual amount of children)

    • a couple of books or coloring items

    • first aid bag (band-aids, polysporin, bug bite cream, and epi pen)

    • optional - bikes or scooters with helmet


    **I bring additional activities because I fully intend to park it with my book and coffee on said blanket for at least 3 hours!


    Here is the list of parks and our favorite parts.


    The first park we explored was the area of Newmarket, Ontario known as Fairy Lake. It's basically a small lake system along the downtown Newmarket district. It has walking trails, bike paths, playgrounds, splash pad, lots of ducks to watch, a dam, beautiful flowers everywhere and the cutest take a book/leave a book library you have ever seen. The location of this park/path system is perfectly nestled in their main street area with ample parking, restaurants, and cute little shops to grab an ice cream or coffee. While this was more of a walking adventure the kids (7,5 and 1.5) all enjoyed it.  Their favorite spot was the branch of Muskoka chairs spelling out "KINDNESS" because as my oldest put it "that is so important"


    IMG_0260 (2) IMG_0259                                                                IMG_0257

    Next, we moved on to what the kids call "Ninja park" but is actually called Rouge Crest Park in Richmond Hill. The affectionate title from my little ones is a perfect description of our morning. They were ninjas for hours. Climbing up, down, in, out, around, over and jumping off of all things climbable in a 40ft cage type structure. It also had hammocks, splash pad, toddler climber, work out equipment, basketball courts, bike paths and a large field for us to throw the frisbee. The grounds are gorgeously maintained and again ample parking. While my kids vote the climbing cage as their fav I know hubby and I never really left the hammock swings.

    Because we had been exploring outside of our town we decided to check out a new park in Stouffville. Most of our parks are the basic red and blue stairs and slide structure. I am not complaining, as I am happy that Stouffville has so many park spaces for families. But my kids need to climb, crawl, stretch and explore in creative ways to burn energy. The basic climbers encourage up and down play. But the new park on Boadway Crescent is the exact opposite. Its tucked in a new development area just as you enter the town. Its quiet and has a large green space for running and playing soccer etc. The kids call this "Spider park" because of the large spider web-like rope climber. We brought along a few friends (another essential on my packing list whenever possible) and enjoyed a few timbits since the Tim Hortons is just next door.



    I had heard great things about the new Aanin Community Centre and park in Markham and so, of course, added it to the list. To say this was our favorite park ever would be an understatement. My kids still ask to go almost a month later. Whoever designed this park, I applaud you! The park has everything you would want in a play structure. Astroturf ground cover, picnic tables (that also double as checkerboards) basketball courts, soccer field, beautiful climbing structures for toddlers and of course an active circuit to cause even the most agile of big kids some mental and physical exertion. Because it is beside a community center you also have the benefit of washrooms, library with a cute kids zone, indoor playground and nursing area.  We were so happy to stay and play that my friend and I joked we should order pizza to the park and really stretch out our time. I later called and found out that several major pizza chains offer this delivery service! MOM WIN!

    While summer has come to an end and we are all back to school and fall routines there is still plenty of time to get out and explore new communities and areas. It doesn't have to cost a lot financially but the experience of trying something new, getting outdoors and appreciating all that our communities have to offer is rich in memories.

    Cheers,

    Julie


  • Friday, September 14, 2018 9:08 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    I was recently introduced to Zapped Outfitters which focuses on lighting kids up so they can be seen.

    I love the story of how this brand came to be. As a Canadian Mom Scarlet was inspired to create clothing that would help her then 10-year-old son be more visible. Most of us at some point have had the thought "I wish there was clothing I can put them in that would make them more visible." The difference is that Scarlet acted on her inspiration and Zapped was born.


    There is reflective wear of adults and youth so why not school aged children? Zapped recognized the gap in the market for kids aged 6-12 and set out to fill that gap. For most of the year, it gets dark early and this means kids are not as visible when they are leaving after-school programs or just out enjoying the outdoors. Let's face it. Kids are completely oblivious to their own safety which makes us parents even more anxious about their safety. Reflective clothing makes sense and that why I was thrilled to partner with this brand to bring awareness to their products.


    Often times functional items are not very stylish and I am thrilled that the clothing is both functional and looks great. Kids will want to wear these items.



    When I was given the choice of what to get, I went with the jacket because I liked that it can be worn in three seasons. Zapped offers a range of clothing and accessories for school-aged children including hats, backpacks, shoes, and jackets. And new this year toques.



    I'm a philanthropist and I created Life With A Baby to give back and support the cause that I champion so that part of me LOVES that Zapped is giving back and helping light up other children around the globe. Zapped encourages others to “share their light” by helping other kids PLAY HARD. To celebrate their launch, they have partnered with backpackbuddies.ca, which helps fill children’s backpacks with food items for the weekend, when other food programs are unavailable. The second is rubensshoes.com, which donates shoes to kids in developing countries who might otherwise miss school due to a lack of footwear. ZAPPED has an ongoing relationship with both organizations to donate proceeds from shoe and backpack sales. How amazing is that?


    The best part? We have a link with a 20% discount just use DROPOFGOLDENSUN20 at checkout. Not only will you be lighting up your kids so they can be seen, you'll be a light for others across the globe through Zapped's commitment to giving back. http://vlt.me/.2sxi7

    Kudos to Scarlet for helping all our kids be more visible.

    While I was provided and item and compensated for partnering with this brand, all views are my own. 


  • Thursday, August 30, 2018 6:22 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    A few years ago I met with The Home Depot at a blogging conference and they had a campaign for a faucet. I jumped on it because I wanted to a change to the kitchen and sometimes even the smallest change gives our space a new feel. Shortly after I was looking at all workshops they offer for kids and the variety of workshops for adults.  I love the DO IT HERSELF workshops because I personally have felt intimidated in DIY classes where it was primarily men and I also like that they recognize that there are women doing DIY projects. It's a great way to be encourage women to try DIY projects.



    Naturally when we scammed and decided to do the interlocking in our driveway ourselves  and it was back to home depot for rental equipment and majority of what we needed for the project.


    Most people who’ve met me in real life knows I’m a minimalist, nothing comes into our come that we don’t need. Denys thinks this should include my shoes but I maintain that I need all those pairs.


    In the spring I was travelling a lot for work and one day I walked into our home and saw a giant mess at the front of the house. The kids stuff was all over the ground and everything was beginning to pile up in the hallway. I was frustrated. I asked the kids why they didn’t put their things away and they said because they would need it again soon and they didn’t want to bring their things to the laundry room and back everyday. I realized the the system we had was unrealistic for busy times and was setting them up for failure.


    That same week, I saw another opportunity with The Home Depot and I reached out about building something that would make it easier for the kids to manage and would be useful for the whole year.


    We built a bench with four storage units.  Each of us have our own box which is big enough to fit the school bag and other things they might need on a regular basis.



    I love that it adds perfectly to our space and we were able to stain it to match the floors.  It’s easy for the kids to put their things away and I love that when I walk into the house it’s neat and tidy.  


    Below is a summary of the steps and the materials you'll need. 


    Material list


    • Measuring tape and a pencil


    Steps to do it yourself

    • Cut the board and wood to your measurment





    • Use Jig kit to drill holes





    • Connect the boards to form a frame




    • Attached Top and Bottom shelves





      Finish edges





    • Sand

    • Apply wood conditioner to make staining even




    • Apply wood stain 2-3 coats

    • Apply wood lacquer to finish 2-3 coats,





      Here is a  looks again at our before :( 


      And After! 




    And we've already started o the next project! I’ve decided to create a simple storage unit for kids hats and mittens and their stuff.  But first, hubby refused to paint until our youngest was 6. He is now 7 and that means the next order of business is painting our walls. I cannot wait to get a fresh look on our space. 



  • Wednesday, August 29, 2018 1:38 PM | Debbi (Administrator)


    Our family got back from our annual trip to the fern resort this year was a little bit different in the past because now we are a blended family so we had some extra children in tow but the experience was the usual awesomeness!

    One of my favourite things for the kids that I love about Fern Resort is the activities!!  We have three active boys and the programming for children allows them to have an awesome time while as parents can also enjoy some downtime.  I always take a picture of the daily activities and keep it handy with me and the kids come and go as they please.  Our sons enjoyed zip lining for the first time and were able to take their time learning without having to be rushed.  As a family we enjoyed morning shuffle board.  It seems that around every corner there is something fun to be done!! 

    Food at Fern resort has greatly improved; although it has always been awesome in my opinion. The service staff was on point and even those in training made every best effort to attend to our needs.  We really enjoyed going to the children’s buffet and focussing on getting the kids fed and then we send them off to kids club so we can enjoy our adult dinner. Any special requests that were made were able to be accommodated.  I enjoyed being able to purchase a bottle of wine and have it safe for me to enjoy slowly at every dinner.  The poolside buffet is a great option for those wanting to remain casual mid day and enjoy poolside food.  

    As a blended family now with four children, we also thoroughly enjoyed the connecting rooms in the main inn. We were able to put the children and one side leave the door open and be connected to them on the opposite side giving us space and privacy and two bathrooms!! 

    My kids are already asking about our next trip to Fern - this is a family tradition that we hope to keep forever!! 


    --Connie Butera

  • Monday, August 27, 2018 9:59 PM | Julie (Administrator)

    Finding relaxation while traveling with 3 kids can be impossible. Usually, travel involves the same daily routines as home life just in a new location. When I book a vacation, additions like meals included and housekeeping service are not high on my list because these luxuries can also mark up the price. I gravitate to locations that provide as much entertainment for the kids with easy access to our room/home for the best price. Finding a spot with all that and more seems rare, especially close to home. We were grateful to experience Fern Resort, Ontario’s All Inclusive Resort, once again with the Life With A Baby Annual Conference. This year our kids were all that much older than Mommy had more free time available. This year I was able to take in all the little additions that truly make this resort a full family service resort. You likely have read all about the kids club, swimming pool and water sports. The great care and quality the resort staff put into making these activities inclusive, enjoyable and engaging for all ages are above top notch. No, this year I spent time enjoying services that made my life on vacation more enjoyable. Fresh, clean towels by the pool, daily afternoon refreshments at the main lobby, waterside Muskoka chairs each morning with hot coffee, courteous and kind staff who remembered me each morning and brought my coffee just right without asking. Tiny things that made me feel like I too was getting a vacation.




    As a busy mom, I often spend my vacation time making sure my family has a memorable experience. Photo ops, belly-busting laughs and all the little things they express joy in (like an unlimited cereal bar at breakfast!). Providing these things means I can come last. Still drinking cold coffee, eating last or schlepping towels to the pool and back each day. At Fern, every member of the family can have the vacation they desire. My children enjoyed all the kids' activities and they certainly had more than enough to keep them happy. My son enjoyed horseback riding, my oldest had his face painted to his heart's content and my daughter swam all day so that her favorite new word was “pool”. My husband enjoyed the kid-free time at the gym, beachside with a coffee and his book or in the pool socializing with other dads.


    As for me, I loved our evening dinners without the kids, quiet early morning walks and waterside yoga (ok I went once but still it felt great!). I started and finished a terrific book with hot coffee and cold water poolside while my kids swam safely under the close supervision of lifeguards and Daddy. I kayaked with my kids and they built a huge trench on the beach splashing in the water while I listened to a podcast series I had stockpiled. While all this sounds more about me finding time versus Fern providing a service I should clarify that it only happens with the support of others. Fern provided the means to experience these great moments and with it, right at my fingertips, I had to take it all in.


    My very last tip/brag/plug is the poolside bbq. There is nothing better then when your kids get “hangry” after a morning of kids club or swimming, then throwing on a coverup and grabbing a few plates of hot and ready summer grub right next to your beach loungers. The kids loaded up on burgers, dogs, salad, fries, tacos, ice cream, freezies - you name it! A little rest in the shade and back in the pool. Easy for Mama, fun for kids - a true win-win.

    So if you need an idea on where to rest your head, relax and recharge while still enjoying your family - add Fern Resort to the list. 


    Cheer,

    Julie 


    (Julie is the Community Manager for the Stouffville and Durham Chapters of Life With A Baby. She has three children Jack (7) Ben (5) and Kate (2). You can read more of my writing at www.wordpress.com/BuiltWithJoy)


  • Thursday, August 23, 2018 11:48 AM | Debbi (Administrator)

    Check out Ramara Community Manager Mary's slideshow video blog!

    Thank you Fern Resort for an amazing weekend! It really is the ultimate all-inclusive family getaway close to home ❤️ Hopefully this video blog does it justice ☀️🌊🌮🏄🏼‍♂️👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 🏊‍♀️ #SummerAtFern 

  • Monday, August 20, 2018 11:34 PM | Debbi (Administrator)

    We got to Fern late Friday afternoon and checked in, which was fast and easy. Once we settled into our room we met up with friends and wondered around the resort for a little while until it was time for the kid’s dinner. The kid’s buffet was amazing and had everything that our very picky bunch would eat. They loved choosing whatever they wanted and I loved not having to cook. Win Win!

    One of the perks of Fern is that it’s got a kids club. This is something that we were a little apprehensive about at first, as this was our first time using anything like it. I’m usually really nervous about leaving the kids with anyone new. You know how it is...between the mom guilt and the worry that if you’re not with your kids something terrible might happen. It’s taken me almost 6 years to get up the nerve to hire a babysitter so that we can go out on a date night (which maybe only happens once a month at best).

    I sometimes feel annoyed at myself with how much fear or guilt I allow into my thoughts. I have to remind myself that it’s ok to want some time without them, but I felt guilty wanting them to go to kids club so that I could eat a meal in peace, read a book or go for a walk with my husband. I wasn’t going to let all that stop me so I brushed off those feelings, prepped the kids and off they would go. No Fear! No Guilt!

    As expected our 6 year old went without issue. She was excited and ready to run right in with her friends! Our 4 year old was hesitant but with a little coaxing and his sisters hand, off he went. Then came the baby (14 months) - she cried, but I expected that and it was only a little bit of tears. So off she went. I’ll admit that I kept checking my phone and made sure my ringer was all the way up just in case. When we picked them up they were excited to see us but not because they wanted to leave, but because they had so much to talk about in the 2 hours they spent in the kids club.

    In the morning they were pumped to go back. I've never seen my kids eat a meal so fast! It usually takes a lot of pleading and maybe some bribing but not at Fern. They gobbled down breakfast and were off to play.

    It seemed like there was a new activity every 15 minutes and the kids couldn't have been happier. Between pony rides, driving jeeps, jungle gym, sandbox, wagon rides and really I'm not sure what else, but needless to say the kids were in a rush after every meal to get back. Our baby didn't cry after the first day, but she insisted on bringing her lovey along (once a white unicorn but now its a funny shade of grey even after being washed). She also loved playing a game where she would toss her now grey unicorn into the sandy water and make the lovely girls caring for her pick it up. She thought this was hilarious! Even though she can walk, she prefered to be held most of the time and the wonderful staff was happy to oblige. The amount of staff they had on hand to take care of all the kids was amazing. There was no shortage of help and you always got the sense that the staff was happy to be there with all the kids. This really allowed my husband and I to enjoy some of the adult activities, things like boating, axe throwing, swimming, batting cages, zip lining etc!

    The kids loved every minute of our weekend at Fern Resort and we as parents loved how easy everything was. When friends and family ask us “how was your weekend”, the first thing that we tell them about is the kids club. We think it's one of the best reasons to go to Fern and was our favourite part. They have such a great setup for families and for someone like me that tends to worry about stuff like that, it quickly put my mind at ease allowing me to enjoy some time without them. The resort has lots of wonderful features, but the kids club is what made it great for us!


    This picture is so cute and also makes me laugh, because anyone that knows me knows how much I loathe sand. The kids came back everyday with shoes and pockets full. And that’s totally okay since they were having fun and I didn't need to see it happening.

     

    Lots of shade to play in.

     

    The pony rides were a huge hit.

      

    The basketball courts were a lot of fun for the kids and hubby. 




    The dinner crew. The waiting highchair with clean bib and cup were such a nice touch. I really appreciated not having to think about bringing that stuff with me.






    The grounds at Fern Resort are so beautiful it makes for the perfect spot for family pictures.








    The gorgeous sunsets from the beach. Is there anything better than sitting by the water and watching the sun set?!

    Thank you Fern Resort and Life With A Baby for having us we made some wonderful memories and can’t wait to return! #summeratfern


  • Friday, August 17, 2018 8:36 AM | Cassandra (Administrator)

    When I heard that our LWAB training retreat was headed back to Fern Resort I was THRILLED. Last year was our first experience at Fern and my kids had been talking about it ever since. We actually live in Oro-Medonte so it only takes about 15 minutes to get to Fern and that's just the best thing ever when you have 3 kids who all hate being in the car! 

    The ease of our trip began with booking, we just let them know of all our family's needs and they had it taken care of when we arrived. Our room had bed rails as requested, we had a booster seat waiting at our table for dinner, right down to already having a sippy cup ready for Lucas - it was perfect! From check-in to check-out we were met with courteous, helpful staff, and every need was met. Can't say enough good things about the service! 


    On the Friday of our stay we spent most of our time in the pools. I love that there are multiple swimming areas so you never feel crowded. The water slide was a huge hit, I loved going down multiple times myself! We also checked out the mini-golf, basketball courts, trampolines, and of course Play Village for the kids! Dinner was a special treat because the kids had their meal from the kid's buffet and then we dropped them off at Play Village so that we could go back and have an easy meal with no one hanging off of us, whining, or rushing us! Doesn't happen often! Friday evening I was able to meet up with the other LWAB ladies while my hubby took the kids to a magic show and they LOVED it! 

     

    Saturday was training day for the LWAB Community Managers and I was so impressed with the conference space allotted to us by Fern Resort again this year. The room was comfortable and spacious, the mini fridge was fully stocked with juice and pop and there was a Keurig for all those who wanted fresh coffee. I liked that the conference area was in a quiet area of the building so there were no interruptions but still beside the main building so checking in on the rest of my family was quick and easy and, most importantly, getting to lunch was no problem! 

    While I was in training my husband had no problem keeping the kids busy without me. They spent a lot of time in the pool and then he took them to Play Village where they had their faces painted and they even got to ride ponies and go for a motorized jeep ride! The activities are endless at Fern! 

     

    After dinner Saturday night we headed back to the pool for some swimming before getting ready for the evening show. The juggling show was so fun - the kids were completely amazed and paid attention through the whole show. It was so nice to have some family entertainment before bedtime and it made getting everyone to sleep a breeze - they were exhausted after a full day of activities! Sleeping in a hotel room with 3 kids is usually a huge pain and I typically get about 5 minutes of sleep the whole night but there's just so many activities at Fern that by the time everyone's head hit their pillows, they were out for the whole night and momma actually got to sleep too! I'd give a 5 star review just for that to be honest!! 


    Sunday morning we decided to fit in a whole bunch of activities - swimming of course and then back to mini-golf, trampolines, and then my 2 older boys got to try fishing for the first time. They had such a great time and the staff have endless patience for the amount of times they have to put new worms on the hooks for the kids (yay for me not having to do that too!). 

     

    I thought we fit so much into our weekend away and then I saw photos of all the fun things that the rest of the LWAB crew had gotten to do and I realized that we hadn't even done half of the activities that were available! And yet we were SO BUSY and loving every minute of it! I really can't wait to go back next year to cross off some more of the activities from their list! Water skiing perhaps? Axe throwing? Our 2019 #summeratFern can't come soon enough! 


     


  • Wednesday, August 08, 2018 10:48 AM | Debbi (Administrator)

    Ever since our first time at Fern Resort the boys have asked to go back each summer. We are extremely privileged to be invited again a third year in a row for the Life With A Baby training and retreat weekend. When they heard that we were returning to Fern they were so happy that we were able to bribe them with doing anything before the first day of arrival ;)

    It’s All About Family!

    For a family of five, it is often challenging to get a room that has enough space and beds for us. Since Fern is a family-friendly resort, some of their rooms are already equipped with in-room bedding. The pull-out loveseat in our room (still closed at the back corner in the photo) transformed into a single bed that accommodated us without having to bring in an extra cot or bed. How convenient!

    Variety of Foods Available

    Unlike most parents, we like to torture ourselves and insist that the kids eat and stay with us. Plus, every time I merely suggest that they eat first and go to the camps afterwards they freak out. I guess I should treasure these times when they still want to spend time with us. I know sooner than later they’re going to ditch us for their friends :)

    Parents who want to have a relaxing dinner can feed their kids first at the “early bird” kids buffet starting at 5:30 PM and then drop them off at the daycare or camps for various ages. Then they can enjoy their meal in peace and harmony with the adults.

    Keeping You Informed

    As a planner of all things, I love that Fern has newsletters for the young and old. I love that they provide so much information so that you are able to do whatever fits your family.


    Conference Facilities

    If you are thinking of treating your staff for a family getaway along with training, Fern Resort is a great choice. They provided meeting facilities for our group. While the moms had their training and meeting in the conference room, the kids could either go to camps or spend time with their dads. Fern Resort did go the extra mile to make our group feel special. They even put the Life With A Baby logo on the conference package they provided for us.

    Continuing to be the Best for the Guests

    I must say I was very impressed with all the new touches made this year: colourful newsletters, a personalized conference package, in room wine glasses and corker, and a large variety of menu items. (Our family does not have any allergy or dietary restrictions but I was very impressed that they added so many different options for families who do.) I believe they take all the comments from guests to heart and make their resort better and better each visit!

    Last but not least, it’s the staff that makes our stay so enjoyable every year. From the staff at the front desk to the dining room, every interaction has been pleasant and delightful. They have been friendly and helpful as always with my family and with our Life With A Baby group. Our family cannot wait to go back again soon!

    Read our family’s first experience at Fern Resort - The Ultimate Family Resort!

    About the Author:

    Winnie Ng is the Special Events Manager for Life With A Baby. She’s a busy mom of three who loves to plan events and cook. You can check out her website at www.gatherconnectinspire.com and food blog at www.memorabledishes.com.


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