The idea of going into the final week before Christmas without one gift being purchased yet would cause most folks insane anxiety. Rightfully so, if you expect to be picking up all the gifts on your list from *gasp* the MALL! I have learned from years of unnecessary panicking that last minute mall shopping is not the way to go if you want to enjoy the holidays without getting high blood pressure by December 24th. My motto has simply become this…No mall. No lines. No stress. It’s really just that simple and it means I get to chill and actually enjoy the holidays.
There are a handful of online retailers that I rely on during this time of the year, but I swear, Best Buy is the move for last minute shoppers. Why? Their “Reserve + Pick-Up” service is the ultimate destination for all the tech-obsessed people on your list, even the youngest ones. It’s actually brilliant and so incredibly efficient. A couple of days ago I reserved some items online and seriously within 20 minutes, I had received a confirmation notifying me that they were not only set aside at the store but also ready to be picked up at the Best Buy location closest to my house.
I got a chance to test out the service earlier this week when I ordered a special little pre-holiday surprise for my little girl that was delivered to our home by a Best Buy Blue Shirt employee. I partnered with Best Buy to add an extra-special step to this already awesome service – even though this is a service they don’t offer, we had the opportunity to have the gift delivered to our home by a Best Buy Blue Shirt employee to capture the full-effect of the surprise. It was actually really cute. We cruised the website until she found something that made her squeal and giggle. Not surprisingly, it was the Spin Master Zoomer Playful Pup. A bit of a mature toy for her but the kid is obsessed with dogs and a toy robot dog that can roll over, bark and answer to commands is the coolest gift ever, so I could never say no.
Reserve + Pick-Up is available all the way until December 24th, so Best Buy has you covered down to the wire. Just find the items you want, click the “Reserve in Store” icon and choose a location nearest you for pickup. An email confirmation is sent shortly after notifying you that everything is good to go for pick-up and will be kept on hold for you to pick up within 24 hours.
Ok guys, its probably time to stop reading about how to shop stress free this season. Let’s get you actually shopping and crossing items of your gift giving list right now by heading to BestBuy.ca.
So much has changed in the last 14 months and there have been plenty of transitions. Clothing, sleep cycles and moving from pureed to big girl foods. I feel as though Maxwell went from crawling to full on running in the blink of an eye. Time is moving way too quickly I’m afraid and I am doing my best to savour every single second. There has been one thing that has remained constant since day one. Huggies Little Snugglers and Natural Care Wipes.
Making a decision on the right diaper for your baby is an interesting one because you make that choice usually long before your bundle of joy arrives. I did a lot of research online and turned to my friends who have babies to help me decide, because who better to turn to than your mama tribe, right? My mom also used Huggies with us growing up so I knew it was a brand I could trust.
Let’s face it, every choice you make for your child is an important one but I place diapers and wipes super high on the list simply because they will be in contact with your baby’s skin all day, every single day for years. If you’re an expectant mother, what makes Little Snugglers so amazing for newborns is the GentleAbsorb® Liner that’s made up of these teeny tiny soft pillows that provides a cushiony layer between your kiddo’s skin and the mess. I actually have memories from my childhood watching my mother fold down the top of the diaper when she was changing my brother in an effort to protect his healing belly button but today, Little Snugglers brilliantly integrated an umbilical cord cut out to help facilitate the healing. And trust me, it may not seem like a lot but it means one less thing for a new mom to think about. Our midwives were blown away at how well (and quick may I add) Maxwell’s belly button healed and I credit that to her diapers.
Over a year later and here we are. One super active baby with a giant personality, who gives me a run for my money every single day. She’s moving, like NON-STOP, so we really rely on her diaper’s pocketed waistband to keep messes trapped inside where they belong while she plays, dances and runs circles around this place. The wetness indicator strip gives me the heads up when it’s time for a diaper change. No need for the sniff test my mom used to do on us, which is the best when we are out and about or traveling. And not only are they functional, they are really darn cute too with adorable Disney and Winnie the Pooh designs.
So here’s the thing about me, I get really attached to products that that work well for me and my family. The brilliant thing about Huggies Little Snugglers is that they come in a wide range of sizes that has transitioned so well with Max from day one until now. There’s no reason to switch diapers (or brands) after every single growth stage. Instead, Huggies will be with our family for years to come.
To learn more about Huggies or to find a diaper and wipes to fit your baby’s needs, visit www.huggies.com/en-ca/
This post has been created in partnership with Huggies for monetary compensation and/or product. However all views and opinions are my own!
Shopping used to be my number one favourite pastime. That is, until Maxwell came into the picture. I know some mamas love passing the time there with their hub but the thought of fighting for one of two designated family parking spots, struggling to find somewhere to breastfeed or warm up a bottle and don’t get me started on changing diaper full of poo in a busy washroom with no privacy. Yeah, no thank you!
I had been hearing rumours about a mall mecca for mommies that promises to make the shopping experience with a baby on board not only manageable and actually convenient. I was intrigued. So much so, I was willing to compromise Max’s nap schedule to make the trek 35 minutes outside of the city to Richmond Hill to see this with my own eyes. Quite a few of you mamas that happen to live in the area have told me after seeing my IG stories that Hillcrest has been around for an eternity and had no idea about this major renovation they recently went through. Guys, the glow up is REAL! This project includes a refresh of both interior/exterior with a whole new north wing, tons of new retailers and yes some very much needed conveniences for the whole family, specifically mommy shoppers.
Wondering if Hillcrest should be destination for your next family shopping haul? Here’s the lowdown on how it measures up based on our experience:
Location. If you live Newmarket, Markham, Thornhill or Richmond Hill, this is basically a stone’s throw away for you and I am a bit jealous of your proximity. For you downtown folk that consider anything north of Bloor St unchartered territory, if you’re are located close to one of the major highway arteries in the city, the drive to Hillcrest can be surprisingly easy as it’s a straight shot up the 404 north. Your best bet is to strategically plan to travel outside of high traffic times. I left the city around 10:20am and comfortably made it there at 11am. We left to head back to the city around 3pm (and yes we actually stayed that long) and missed most of the afternoon traffic. It isn’t located close to the highway exit and is about a 9-minute drive for the DVP still once you exit so in rush hour it could add on to your transit time.
Parking. SO. MUCH. FAMILY. PARKING. I was actually really impressed. Where you normally see anywhere from 1-4 spots allocated for family designated parking total. Hillcrest is setting the bar damn high with several…and I mean several at each of their main entrances.
Shopping Experience/Retailers. Hillcrest doesn’t claim to be anything they are not so if you’re looking for solely high end shopping across the board, this is not the place for you. However, if you’re looking for a collection of retailers to appease the everyday shopping needs for everyone in your family, you will not be disappointed. They have the all the regular mall retailers everyone knows and loves; The Gap, H&M, Mendocino, Hudson’s Bay, SportChek, Aldo, Old Navy, Aritzia, Sephora and Indigo (opening here soon) but I think people will want to go for the stores they can’t find just anywhere like SportingLife, Miniso – a really cool Japanese specialty store that I’ve never seen before, Okaïdi, West Coast Kids and their newly opened HomeSense/Marshalls. I am always looking for decor items for the house and can never go wrong with that store. The HomeSense at Hillcrest is actually incredible. So is Marshalls. Kid you not, I spent over an hour in there picking up stuff for Max and other miscellaneous stuff that I have convinced Réjean we absolutely need. Do you remember Maxwell in this unicorn suit from my stories? I don’t know if it’s for Halloween or for everyday wear but she looked irresistible in it. If she wanted to wear just that every single day, I would totally let her.
I spent the rest of my time powering shopping. I passed through Artizia like a Tornado and copped a super cute skirt and classic tee that I plan to wear next week to an event with Maxwell. There was a quick stop in at Sephora to quickly stock up on some Tatcha products and I was even able to find some great pieces to create a couple fall looks for Réj at SportingLife before dedicating the rest of my time to all things baby.
We also found a super cool store named Okaïdi. It’s a French brand that has recently landed here in Canada, with only a couple locations to date. The baby girl collection is quite adorable and super affordable so Maxie got to take home some new outerwear and dresses to take her through the season. The newborn and baby collections remind me of clothing that I found in boutiques when we were in Barcelona but the prices are more aligned with Zara Kids and H&M. But truthfully friends, the mall’s piéce de resistance is West Coast Kids. I think there is one other location, but it pales in comparison to the one you will find at Hillcrest. Hands down the best and largest collection of merchandise for kiddos from newborn to teens. Every square inch of the of the space has speciality items ranging from books and apparel inspired by our city of Toronto, super fun accessories, high end outerwear – Mackage parka’s for toddlers if you can believe, tees inspired by hip hop, the cutest footwear to keep your mini in style through all of Canada’s seasons, the coolest strollers and nursery items that will have you rethinking your decorating choices. I wanted everything in the store for Max. EVERYTHING. And tried to justify she needed it all too, plus a new nursery LOL. I did exercise some restraint and left with a couple of cute dresses, some new books for her reading collection and the YYZ sweatshirt you guys have seen her rocking on my stories from Canadian brand Posh & Cozy.
Food. You will find the regular food court restos here and even a Panera Bread location, however it’s not actually connected to the mall. There are some tasty speciality spots like Uncle Tetsu’s for those who are obsessed with the Japanese cheesecakes that people line up for year round at the downtown location, Bake Code and Chatime (hello, my fave!) for the bubble tea aficionados. After all the cardio I did shopping for hours my last stop of the day was actually at Chatime for a Mango bubble tea and a matcha croissant – and yes both were they are insanely delish.
Mommy/Family Amenities. The extra family designated parking spots are one thing but Hillcrest really knocked it out of park with some of the extra conveniences they thought of for families. The mall is actually all one level so it makes navigating with a stroller and young toddlers simple. Both men’s and women’s washrooms have baby change stations so the dad’s need not worry when they venture to this alone with the kids. For the mamas who are still breastfeeding, you’re going to love this…they have a nursing room so you can feed your bub quietly in private and wait for it, the Guest Experience Kiosk offers complimentary diaper kits plus baby bottle warming. It’s located a bit away from where the nursing room and washrooms, but it’s nice to not have to run around a food court asking for milk to be heated. I actually used the service when we were finished shopping so Max could have a bottle for the ride back home.
HILLCREST FINAL ROUNDUP
Was it worth the drive to Hillcrest? Yes. Would I return to shop? 100%. I’m already planning our next visit and will probably do it with a few girlfriends and their kids. I am in need of a little refresh on our holiday décor so that is the perfect excuse to go back and the Homesense there is bound to have everything I need. Plus, there are loads of things I still want to get for Maxie at Okaïdi and West Coast Kids.
Intrigued? Head over to HillcrestMall.cafor allthe details on the renovation, new store openings, promos, and upcoming events.
This post is in formal partnership with Hillcrest for either monetary compensation or product however all opinions are my own.
I have gone over thirty years knowing exactly how my body operates. It’s been a machine that has pretty much operated like clockwork. Until I got pregnant. Then shit hit the fan and my body became unpredictable overnight with one change and after another. Most unpleasant, if I can speak candidly. Post baby; things are still somewhat strange and unpredictable. Nine months later I still feel like I am renting out this shell I call for a body. Very few women speak about what they go through physically and emotionally postpartum, so I try to address the issues I experience here because I sure as hell know I am not the only one experiencing these things. Especially when it comes to issues relating to intimate health.
So the term intimate health sounds pretty vague if you ask me, so I am just going to avoid acting coy and get right to the point. The area “down there” or what I like to fondly refer to as the va-jay-jay, is an area that probably sees the most change in women postpartum and it all stems from the vagina’s pH level. Otherwise known as it’s acidity level. Yeast and bacteria play a major part in determining vagina health. Our bodies have limited resources so only so much bacteria and yeast can co-exist at any given time, sometimes causing them to compete. Ideally, for things to be running smoothly in that area the optimal vaginal pH should be anywhere around 3.5-4.5. This would indicate the perfect amount of good bacteria and no overgrowth of the bad kind, that can cause some irritation, odour or even infection. But there are so many factors that can affect this range and cause an elevated vaginal pH level like; pregnancy, intercourse, menstruation and even the use of tampons. Wipes, feminine washes and cleansers are probably the worst culprit because they usually mask the issue instead of treating or preventing them.
I personally noticed some changes after I started getting my period five months after having Maxwell and also noticed some mild symptoms after intercourse. I wouldn’t quite call it a yeast infection because there was no discharge but I definitely something a bit off down there, so that was the catalyst behind starting to do some research on the issue and figuring out how I was going to address it. I prefer to use natural remedies when possible and only turn to pharmaceutical medications when absolutely necessary. About a month and a half ago I started to test my vaginal pH with Hydrion test strips and decided it was time for me to find a solution address the mild va-jay-jay issues I was having. RepHresh Pro-B is a probiotic supplement made specifically for women. Just one capsule a day helps create healthy flora to balance unwanted yeast and bacteria. What makes it super effective is the two strains of beneficial bacterial it contains, called Lactobacillus, that helps keeps all the bad bacteria in check. And the best part, because it’s taken orally, it’s super convenient to use and doesn’t require refrigeration like most other probiotics. It can be taken at any point during the day but I like to stay in a routine with my supplements and prefer to take mine first thing in the morning before I start my day.
RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic is available now. I grab mine from my neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart for $37.99 but it can also be found at Wal-Mart and other retailers nationwide. Visit www.rephresh.ca to learn more about how you can keep your intimate health on point.
This post was created in partnership with RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic and Church & Dwight, however all views and opinions are my own.
Traveling can induce anxiety but throw a baby into the mix, and it takes it to a whole new level. I was a hot mess a week before we left for Spain, trying to convince myself that packing up Maxwell’s entire room was a logical idea. Thank god I had two good friends who advised me it wasn’t and made me ditch half the items I planned on bringing along. And you know what? It all worked out just fine. We are so over this cold here in Toronto, we actually just booked our next family vacation to Mexico for my birthday and Mother’s Day. Here’s a few tips for infant travel I learned when Maxie was a newborn that will be sure to help you when you’re ready to take your first adventure with your baby.
HOW AND WHAT TO PACK
Babies don’t really need as much as we think they do so don’t even think about paying extra to pack an additional suitcase for them. Everything should be able to fit in you and your partner’s suitcases and carry on; you just need to be strategic. To make sure all the babies belongings stay clean and uncontaminated, I suggest roll fold everything and put them into zip lock bags. These bags also can come in handy for the trip back home for any items that get soiled with spit up or poop.
When it comes to diapers and wipes, just like any other mum I am attached to a particular brand. Max has been wearing Huggies Little Snugglers since she was born and on a 9-hour flight to Barcelona and long days of sight seeing, these diapers provided extra protection that gave us the confidence we needed as new parents traveling as a family of three for the first time. While changes may be less frequent during travel, it’s important to have a diaper that provides a gentle layer between your baby’s skin and the mess. When your baby is still in the stages of poo explosions, Huggies Little Snugglers pocketed waistband and proven leak lock system helps to keep messes inside where they belong. While in transit though, it’s the wetness indicator that was the real MVP. There was no guessing game when it came figuring out if Maxie needed to be changed. The minute she got a bit fussy, we immediately checked the diaper’s wetness indicator for the blue line and made a beeline to the bathroom to change her.
As an infant, babies can go through approximately 12 diapers a day and to be honest, they can take up a considerable amount of room in your luggage. We packed the daily amount of diapers plus a travel pack of Huggies Natural Care wipes inside our carry-on luggage, just in case we got delayed or something and an additional 12 with another travel pack of wipes in our checked baggage for the return flight back. We stayed in an AirB&B in Barça so we actually shipped a pack of Max’s Snugglers down to the owner of the property so they were waiting upon our arrival. I know this is not realistic in every situation. You can also always check ahead of time to see if the diapers you use are sold in the city you are traveling to so you can buy them there.
Here’s a Sample Packing List For You To Use As a Guide
Navigating Through the Airport and Getting Through Security
While most airports have a separate security for those traveling with young children, I still advise to arrive a bit early to avoid any unnecessary stress. To be honest, we have been whisked through separate security when we’ve had Maxwell in tow and it’s like traveling VIP style so I no longer get stressed about her getting fussy waiting in line ups. There’s always the dilemma amongst new parents in regards to whether or not to check the stroller when traveling. We choose to gate check ours instead of checking it in with our luggage for convenience. If this is the route you go, just ensure to bring along a stroller that can fold down in one piece. Trust me! If your stroller has to be broken down into two separate pieces, you run the risk of something going missing while in transit. Some people fear that their stroller may get damaged if it’s gate checked but I would much prefer to know I have the stroller with me and available as soon as we deplane, than running the chance of it getting lost or delayed. It also makes getting around the airport until boarding time easier. That being said, it will have to go through the X-Ray machine when you go through security. Our goal is always to travel lean, with as little as possible. If a car seat isn’t going to be necessary during your travels, leave it at home. Renting a car seat at your destination is the best way to go if you’re going to need it.
The last time we traveled I was breastfeeding exclusively but Max is now eating solids, drinking pumped milk and formula. Regulations that limit the amount of liquids you can bring through do not apply to breast milk or formula. Let the TSA Agents know you have breastmilk, and be careful of packing gel coolers they aren’t allowed through. A great suggestion that we were given is to pack your breastmilk in frozen peas for security when you travel. Don’t let them send your breastmilk through the x-ray machine.
Boarding and In-Flight
Boarding: Most airlines let families who are traveling with young kids board first, but this is a courtesy not a right. Check with the agent beforehand to let them know you are traveling with a young child and when you should board. As nice as it sounds to get situated early before everyone else gets on and not standing in line behind all the other passengers, once you are on that plane you don’t have anywhere to hide or much room to move around if they decide to start screaming. The best option is if you are traveling with your partner, have them go on early with your bags and get a seat, and then you can meet them on closer to take off.
Seat Selection: A baby under the age of 2 doesn’t require a seat, which means they travel for free – yay! We plan to travel as much as we can during this time. However, this means your little one will have to be in your arms or wrapped to you throughout the flight if you choose not to purchase an extra seat. A useful tip when booking your flight and selecting your seats, if you’re choosing two seats in a row of three, select the two end seats leaving the middle one empty. Chances are, if it’s not a full flight, nobody is going to willfully choose to sit in between two people, which will leave the middle seat empty. Huge win. On our flight down to Barcelona, we were seated in a bulk head row so I was able to request a Baby Bassinet (or Sky Cot). This was brilliant. A bassinet is secured to the wall panel for babies under 8 months in front of you so they can sleep peacefully and parents can rest, eat and drink with extra leg room. I also elected Réjean to be the designated diaper changer during the flight so I made sure he was the one sitting in the aisle seat.
Feeding: You can relieve pressure on your baby’s ears during takeoff and landing by feeding feeding them. It worked for us like a charm. However, I also advise that you have a bottle on hand as they may reject the boob on the plane. I don’t know why but it happens and I’ve heard it from plenty of other mom’s. I like to also book our flights during Maxie’s nap time so feeding during takeoff means she usually falls asleep shortly after.
Consider The Season
Before flying with your newborn or infant make sure to consider the season. You might want to avoid taking a young baby on a plane during flu season. If you must take them on a plane, bring sanitizer wipes to clean the hand rest and other areas around the seat that the baby will put their mouth on… because we all know babies will touch everything and somehow it will end up in their mouth!
If you’re headed somewhere warm, make sure to bring along a sun hat, child safe sunscreen, baby sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun and swimming diapers for the pool or beach – we have been using Huggies Little Swimmers for Max’s pool and beach time.
Don’t Be Afraid
Don’t be afraid of anything. If you need help, especially if you’re a mama traveling alone…ask a flight attendant for assistance. Also, forget the fear of what other passengers will say if your baby cries or gets fussy. You will always have your one grumpy passenger who is incredulous that babies cry and angry that it is ruining his business trip. Ignore him. Babies cry, and many people on the flight are parents and grandparents and they understand. So before you go apologizing to everyone on the plane, relax and don’t let a crying baby stop you from future travel!
“You can have it all. Just not all at once!” I’m not quite sure where I heard that for the first time. Could have been Oprah. Could have been someone’s Instagram caption. Who knows. Just kidding, it was definitely Lady O. But I never really understood what it meant until I became a mother. I am sure all you mama’s out there will agree with me, it’s bloody hard to keep it all together and I only have one baby. How the hell do y’all do it with multiples? I had delusions of grandeur that my modified mat leave was going to afford me time to do all of the things; hang with Max, learn how to edit videos, take cooking classes, host a mommy group for other new mother’s and periodically work on projects somewhere in between. Hahaha, well that has NOT been the case. A slew of amazing working opportunities have come my way and I’ve found it difficult to say no consequently creating a workload that has not only caused some anxiety but has also interrupted my ability to create a harmonious balance that I so desperately need. Taking on more than I probably should because…well, because life and bills need to be paid. But you know what? It’s f*cking tough when you’re self employed and your household requires two incomes to stay afloat. The blog and my branded partnerships comprise most of my time however, there’s also modelling gigs, consulting projects, guest speaking and commercial work also taking it’s share. So, full time hours. Full-time mommy. Struggling to somehow also fit in workouts, family time, a social life, and Réjean. Jesus, I just realized I typed out that list probably the way I am currently prioritizing them. Welp. Not intentional at all and yet another indication that I need to make a change.
That begin said, I will be going on a short hiatus for a bit, taking some much needed time to focus on my little nugget who seems to be growing at lightening speed right before my eyes. After my trip to Le Monastere des Augustines, I realized I need a proper re-set. My life and my brand is based on wellness and if I am going to talk the talk, I better be walking the walk. So, I have booked a vacation. Like, a real vacation not a press trip. I will be spending my first Mother’s Day away in México and will be drinking all of the margaritas. Our departure day cannot come soon enough, let me tell you. I also just really want to enjoy the rest of Maxwell’s first year, rather than having my head buried in a laptop or phone most of the day. Therefore, there won’t be as much action on my blog and social channels during the month of May. Unless it’s work I have already created prior or organic stuff I just feel like posting in the moment if I feel like it because exhaustion, weather inducing seasonal depression and lack of time has literally depleted my creativity. I chose a career change to be able to be my own boss and creative my own rules, so it’s about time I action a plan that let’s me have as close to everything at the same time as possible.
And yes I know, life looks glossy and perfect sometimes on the gram…but it really isn’t. I try my best to share my experiences; the good, the bad and the ugly. Do y’all remember the dog eating Maxwell’s shit the other day? If you see me killing it at work, just know there’s other things that have fallen by the waist side that week in order for me to get shit done. I don’t even remember the last time I cooked a proper dinner for our family because I just don’t have the time. That’s sort of become Réjean’s job tbh and I have had someone come in bi-weekly to help with cleaning until until a few weeks ago but I’ve fired them and realized how tough it is to fit in cleaning 1200 sqft while trying to juggle admin work and a baby at the same time. If you see me taking extra time to do cool things with Maxie like Giggly’s Baby Spa in the middle of the week, best believe that something work related was sacrificed and depending on how the day went, may have even skipped my workout.
I am not really sure what direction I will take going into June but I have a vague idea. An update will be shared once I am back in full effect. Just wanted to thank you guys for all your support. Honest to goodness, it’s all your the comments and DM’s that have gotten me through.
*Special thank you to the amazing and talented Nicole Cohen (@BlondeCoffeeBean) and Elizabeth Phipps (@Somersette_) for creating these magical images that I will not only cherish forever but is making me seriously reconsider baby #2.
For those who have wanted to details on Maxwell’s gorgeous romper from Instagram, you can find it and shop more of our faves from ultimate online baby boutique, Poppy’s Collection. Insanely adorable, it’s almost impossible to not to want everything. If I feel up to it I will share Maxie’s Mexico wardrobe which will consist of Poppy’s summer pieces.
One very important and reoccurring discussion Réjean and I had when I was pregnant was around how we could maintain our lifestyle and continue to do the things we love like explore and travel as new parents. As much as we love our new role as mum and dad, we are still who we are as people and that shouldn’t stop just because we have a little one. With Maxwell more adjusted to traveling in the car, more specifically her car seat, we were finally ready to take on a short road trip last month. Now, Réjean being from a small town in eastern Canada, he loves being up north out of the city and has been begging me to go camping for as long as I can remember. As for me, I couldn’t be more of a city girl and my idea of camping is literally staying at a hotel without 5 star amenities. We truly couldn’t be more different in that sense but we promised each other we would take turns on choosing our family adventures and after a game of rock, paper, scissors; Réj won the right to choose the first one. And I am kinda glad he did because we had a ball and laughed our butts off the entire time.
So Algonquin bound we were with a newborn and probably way more camping equipment than we probably needed. I thought if I was going to try this camping thing out, I want to have everything on hand to make it a legit experience. But just let me be clear… instead of jumping into my camping experience two feet at a time, I decided it was best to just dip my proverbial big toe in first. With it nearing the end of November, a baby on board and me not knowing how I was going to handle the remote wilderness, it made sense to keep the trip short and sweet, LOL. I was pumped though. Not only was it our first family road trip. It was also the first time we did a long(ish) journey in our Buick Envision and I don’t feel like a vehicle really becomes part of you and your family until you’ve done a road trip in it.
The greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s the memories you make along the way with the ones you love!”
Now just to show you how little I know about camping, I had assumed that you just sort of roll up to a campsite and basically set up wherever you like but apparently it’s not much different than booking a hotel stay. This I didn’t discover until the day before we were set to leave. Large Provincial parks and sites like Algonquin Park, you are usually required to either book online or via phone for a camp plot on your lake of choice (and yes, there are multiple lakes to choose from). Your choice is based on whether you would like electricity or not, access to showers, car access or if you are REALLY into the outdoors; a walk-in site. The latter is where you have to hike for miles to the interior to set up shop. Yup, no thanks…I prefer to be on the perimeter where I still have access to cell reception. I imagine that availability could be tough during the summer high season. After October, all of Algonquin’s parks are closed for the season, with the exception of Mew Lake, which can be used for both day and overnight camping. Lucky for us, not many people wanted to be out there in 11 degrees so we basically had the site to ourselves minus another couple and a gentleman who clearly looked like it was not their first time to the rodeo.
Whenever I venture far north into cottage country, I always fear that I will get lost somehow, but, this time getting there was the least of my worries. Our Buick Envision is equipped with OnStar and it was a great opportunity to test out the service and request turn-by-turn directions directly to the car at the touch of a button. Accessible via the infotainment system home menu or the small blue button located on the rear view mirror, OnStar is literally acts as a safety net, providing drivers with access to a live advisor who can provide assistance for just about anything, around the clock. In our case – directions to Algonquin’s Mew Lake, so we could worry less about missing a turn and just take in the beautiful scenery around us. The best part, seeing as though we skipped town on a workday, I was able to check emails and get some work done, while Réjean was behind the wheel thanks to OnStar’s 4G LTE wifi hotspot.
So you’re probably wondering what does one pack for a day camping trip with a three month old baby right? We literally brought as much equipment as the car could fit, which turned out to be quite a lot of stuff. For a crossover SUV, the trunk has considerable cargo space. My friend and photographer Jess came along on the journey too and he had ample space in the backseat to relax and keep Maxie entertained on the drive. I am still amazed at how the Buick was able to design a mid-size crossover with the interior of a full-size SUV. The extra room in the backseat also came in handy as it was converted into a nursing and changing station for the baby throughout the day. I ran the car to keep it warm and toasty for her during these breaks.
I turned to MEC (basically a camping and outdoor MECCA) for all of the family’s needs from apparel, sleeping solutions and even cooking supplies. I know this sounds quite extra for a day trip but you just never know. Trying anything new with a baby can cause some anxiety so getting everything we needed under one roof made life so much easier. We bundled up in layers – sweaters and lightweight vests underneath our down Patagonia jackets that kept us surprisingly warm. We wore thermal tights as a base layer underneath wind breaking pants that were also waterproof in case of rain, which it did not thank God! Maxie was in this snowsuit the entire time, with the exception of on the drive to and from. I know some of you were worried about Max being out there in the cold but funny enough, she was the warmest out of the four of us the entire day.
After obtaining our park permit and getting our plot assigned by the site attendant we decided it was best to start setting up the tent right away in case Maxie and I wanted to take a nap in there. One of the reasons why camping intimidated me so much in the past was because I always thought it would be such a chore to pitch a tent. I doubt I would have been able to do it without Réjean but it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. We used the MEC Cabin 4 Tent. It’s super spacious and has plenty of head room, so we didn’t have to crouch to get in and out, plus we were able to stand up to make changing our clothes easier. It sleeps four comfortably and has double doors allowing us to roll up one, so we could have a nice view of the lake. Our Mallard -5 Sleeping Bags were designed specifically for the weather conditions of November and were insulated with 650 duck down fill – #CozyAF!
I know it must look like we nailed this trip but if you happened to be following along on my IG stories, you would know that there were a couple mishaps along the way. But hey, it made for some very entertaining moments to say the least. I definitely was not going to be eating tuna out of a can during my first camping trip so we prepped a large container of vegetables with olive oil and seasoning to go along with fish and steak we planned to grill at the site for lunch and dinner. I went up there smug and very impressed with myself remembering to scoop up a cooking grill when getting our MEC Camp Together Cooler but once we decided to get a fire going we realized with had no lighter, no gas tank or lighter fluid for the grill to get things going. Hands down the BIGGEST fail. Réjean literally had to purchase firewood, steal some flames from a neighbouring site and run back to our plot with burning firewood in his hands (as I followed and creepily documented it for Instagram stories of course!) A whole two hours later and we finally got a pit going enough to cook all our food. The result. Slightly overcooked as it was hard to gauge cooking time over an open flame but having the meat and fish wrapped in foil paper somehow kept it moist. No word of a lie, it just as good as any BBQ steak I’ve ever had.
Very different from my type of adventure for sure but it was kind of nice being up there, away from the craziness of the city. Even the air smelled cleaner somehow. The campground actually prohibits music because sound travels so easily up there. Annoying at first because I had plans on using the car’s wifi to listen to the Spotify playlist I created specifically for the trip but in the end I was happy we couldn’t. It was just so peaceful and forced us to actually talk and connect – something that hasn’t been happening a lot lately due to our crazy busy schedules. Max was a total angel and made camping with a newborn easy for this mama bear. Clearly she won’t remember any of this but I am just so happy that we are able to do these things as a family and document it all so when she’s older she can look back at how much she did so early on in her life. My hope is that these experiences will set the foundation for a well rounded, well traveled little girl who will forever be curious, wanting to learn more about life.
SHOP OUR FAVE CAMPING CLOTHING GEAR
Interested in learning more about our spacious crossover? Head over to www.Buick.ca for more information.
This post was created in partnership with Buick Canada. All opinions and views are my own.
Whether you’re a first-time mom like me or a someone who has been blessed to be a mother more than once, I am sure you can all agree that EVERYONE thinks they are an expert when it comes to parenting. I have never in my life received more advice from friends and strangers alike until I gave birth to Maxwell. While some has been solicited, the majority has been unsolicited and I can’t say that it all works for us because let’s be honest, every baby is different. But as Maxwell and I near the end of what I like to call the “fourth trimester” I feel like I am slowly starting to get into my groove and things are feeling less chaotic. So many of you that follow me on social media have been super supportive and your “You’ve got this!” messages and comments really helped me on the days I wanted to throw in the towel. So, here’s the deal…I have taken some tips from my inner circle and have developed some of my own along the way during the last three months that has helped me navigate this new world of motherhood. Having a newborn by no means makes me an expert either but I wanted to share a few things that has worked so far with us and has kept both mama and baby happy and healthy.
Supplements for Newborns
Giving your bub supplements can significantly help ensure that they get what they need for healthy development. We have been giving Maxie a probiotic formulated for babies in addition to vitamin D3 drops since the day she was born. While probiotics are helpful to maintain balanced gut flora in your little one and to help with tummy troubles, vitamin D3 drops help their bodies absorb and use calcium plus phosphorus for strong bones and teeth.
At home we use PediaVit Vitamin D3 Drops for Maxwell and love it. It contains no sugar/sweeteners, corn, starch, gluten, wheat, yeast, artificial flavours or preservatives. PediaVit Vitamin D3 Drops also come in a gravity bottle specifically designed to release the appropriate dose of 400 IU (10 mcg) every single time, which is just one drop. This makes things super easy as there is no measuring. And as fussy as babies can be in regards to administering pretty much anything into their mouth that’s not breastmilk or formula, the drop can easily be taken during their feeding by placing it on your breast (or bottle) nipple and they don’t notice a thing!
Diaper Bag Prep Like A Boss
So here’s the thing, in the first of couple weeks I got so accustomed to just staying inside with my little squish, not having to worry about having to prepare for the outside world, that I felt extremely overwhelmed when it was time for us to leave the house. I have a few diaper bag options and of course had all the necessary items that I would need on the go however I just got so stressed out trying to leave the house. It takes so much longer to get two people ready. I worried that I may leave something important behind. But the absolute worst part was that by the time I thought I got all our things together so we could leave the house, she would want to eat again which would be followed by another diaper/clothing change. I kid you not, the first handful of times it took me over two hours to leave and once I got so fed up I just decided it wasn’t worth going anymore.
But now all is good and we can be out of the house in an hour or less which seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. For the expecting mom’s – here’s how you can make this process a bit more seamless:
Start Small. Instead of packing up for a whole day out on the town, try just going for a long walk or a trip to the local coffee shop. This requires much less for you to have on hand. Once you have nailed the short outings, then you will have the confidence for longer ones.
Pack The Night Before. This is a gamechanger and saved my life. It totally eliminates the stress of accidentally forgetting something important. I had actually left the house twice without extra diapers and a change of clothes earlier on and just take a guess who had a poo explosion. When you’re not rushed to be anywhere you can take your time which significantly lowers your stress level.
Keep Separate Bags From Your Partner. Sounds selfish but trust me, it’s worth it. I had to learn the hard way. Réjean would often take my bag and when it was time for me to use it, I would open it up to find that he had not replaced the diapers he used or worse, I would find a soiled diaper hidden in there from when he was out and didn’t have a place to dispose of it. Not cool!
Do Weekly Inventory Checks. Babies grow FAST. If you like to keep extra changes of clothes in the bag, make sure to take look at the onesies and pants in there. You would be surprised, not swapping out these items for just two weeks can leave you stranded with clothes that no longer fit if you’re out and need to change your kid.
Simplify Bottle Making On-The-Go. If you are exclusive formula feeding your bub or use it occasionally for supplemental feedings, find one of those pre-portioned formula containers so you can easily make bottles on the go.
Swaddle for Non-Swaddlers
Some babies love to be swaddled and some HATE it. There are so many benefits to swaddling your child, and I was very keen to find any way to promote sleep because this mama needed her sleep too. But Maxie hated it. There was something about her arms being held down that drove her nuts. Apparently she’s not the only one. So many babies prefer to sleep with their hands up that there are now swaddle/sleep sacks that allow you to swaddle your baby with their hands up in their favourite position making them more comfortable at night which promotes sleep.
Car Travel Without Meltdowns
It is not uncommon for babies to have a meltdown when they are put in the car. I have assumed it has to do with the car seat as babies generally love motion. I knew Max would have to go with me to work and I wanted her accustomed to the car seat as soon as possible. We are now at the point where she is either so relaxed she’s sleeping or cooing away in the back.
What I would do is put her in the car seat at home for short periods of time, even if we had no plans of going anywhere. Started with 5 minutes, then 10 and then worked our way up to 15 minutes without crying.
A fed and changed baby will be able to tolerate a car ride much better than a hungry one with a soiled diaper. Try to time your departure so that your baby has already been fed and changed before leaving. Also, important to note the way babies are positioned in car seats actually promotes bowel movements. It took me a bit to figure it out but she would have massive poo explosions by the time we reached our destination on several occasions. Having them in the car seat earlier before leaving and then taking them out to help get those bowels moving is also a great idea…so hopefully you both can avoid any diaper disasters while on the road
We never put Maxwell into the car if she is crying. The meltdown will only increase once she’s in there and feels restricted by the car seat. I like to put the car seat bucket into her stroller and walk her around the condo or push the stroller back and forth gently. That motion tends to settle her down and by the time we get her wheeled to the car, she is good to go!
During the car ride we play soothing music or no music at all and little accessories like a mirror over her car seat also helps to keep her entertained. What can I say, the kid loves to look at herself and can do so for hours.
The learning curve with a newborn is steep and each week there are learnings as we discover new tricks. Products like PediaVit take the guess work out of keeping our littles healthy and happy. To learn more about Vitamin D3 Drops and the rest of their supplement family head to PediaVit.ca Make sure this product is right for your baby. Always read and follow label instructions.
Stay tuned for more of my newborn and baby tips and tricks by following the hashtag #YouveGotThis
This post was sponsored by PediaVit but all opinions are my own!
I guess you can say I had delusions of grandeur when I was pregnant about what my postnatal exercise routine would look like. I had actually assumed that soon as I got my six week clearance from the doctor to begin working out again, I would hit the ground running (literally) and back to my regularly scheduled HIIT workouts. Reality hit me pretty hard after giving birth and I’ve realized it will take some considerable time to ease back into the workouts I once enjoyed and to get back to feeling like my old self. But that didn’t mean I was going to stop moving. I soon figured out that finding alternative ways to stay active (like walking and hiking in Toronto’s High Park and in Hamilton’s beautiful conservation trails) meant that I would have more energy to tackle my crazy days with work and baby. The endorphin release would do wonders for my postpartum blues and most importantly it would help with the transition once it’s time that I can get back to more strenuous workouts.
And just because my ways of staying active are a little bit different these days, things have changed when it’s comes to my antiperspirant. Carrying around this little lady everywhere I go and postnatal hormone induced sweating, I need extra sweat protection these days more than ever. Degree Black + White Dry Spray Antiperspirant is what keeps me feeling fresh while keeping my clothes clear of those nasty white marks most deodorants leave behind. Engineered with Motionsense technology, it releases extra body odour protection the more you move and is formulated to provide 48 hour protection – music to any new mom’s ears.
If you’re a first time mom like me or expecting, it is important to be realistic and patient during this time until your body is 100% ready to take on the impact of regular exercise. Trust me, this is something that I still struggle with from time to time but Réjean does a great job of reminding me on the days I get frustrated. Remember, it takes about 40 weeks to prepare your body to give birth and it can take almost the same amount of time to return to your pre-pregnancy physical self.
Here’s 6 Steps For Easing Back into a Fitness Routine After Birth
Start Back Slowly. As a general rule, it’s best to not return to exercise until your bleeding has stopped and you have gotten the green light from your treating physician. If you push yourself too hard in the beginning, you can set yourself back – trust me! But that doesn’t mean you should be on house arrest by any means. A walk is a great start to getting back to your old routine in a slow and healthy way.
Pay Attention To Your Pelvic Floor. This is something I heard over and over again while I was pregnant and I am actually going to see a specialist this week about mine. If you’re pelvic floor is weak, doing crunches, Pilates or any other abdominal work can put too much pressure down there, drastically slowing down your healing or leading to organ prolapse.
Think Outside The “Studio Workout” Box. You don’t necessarily need to hit up for favourite cross training or boxing class to get back into a fitness routine. I’ve discovered that outdoor walks are a great place to start and the bonus – the little ones usually love the fresh air and scenery. Don’t discount walking like I did in the beginning. Especially when it’s in trails with varying elevations, it can be a great cardio workout with your baby in a carrier.
Loose and Wobbly Joints. Be careful of those wiggly, wobbly joints. Thanks to the hormone called Relaxin, a woman’s joints and ligaments loosen during pregnancy and childbirth and can stay in our body for up to six months. I am currently struggling with severe tendinitis in both of my wrists due to lifting the baby repeatedly with loose joints.
Stay Hydrated. Once you start ramping up your activity post baby, it’s important to stay hydrated especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Stay Fresh and White Mark Free. Make sure you have an antiperspirant like Degree Black + White Dry Spray to keep you dry and smelling fresh throughout the day.
This post was sponsored by Degree Canada but all opinions are my own
My knowledge of babies and giving birth was definitely not where it needed to be when I found out I was having Maxwell. To be honest, I didn’t even know how many centimetres I had to be dilated to give birth until I was almost at the end of my pregnancy. A fact that I am not proud of. So you can only imagine how little I knew about what’s hot and trending in the baby world. Since becoming a mom, I have been relying heavily on friends and the other mom’s in the IG community to help put me on to all the things I needed to get me through the initial stages of motherhood.
For those first time mom’s and dazed & confused dad’s, “The BabyTime Show” is the perfect place for you to discover the amazing products out there for prenatal, babies and tiny tots all under one roof. Presented by Babies R’ Us, the show lands in Toronto on November 10-12th and will feature more than 200 exhibitors showcasing new and innovative products. My girl and ET Canada Host Cheryl Hickey will also be on hand as a guest speaker with other experts, the Healthy Mom’s Fall Marketplace will be set up focusing on eco-friendly products for those families that are into living a green lifestyle and a “Mommy and Me” pre/post natal yoga session, plus much more. And if you’re not expecting and have already gone through the newborn and baby phase, there is still tons for you too. Kids can meet their favourite Paw Patrol and Hachimal friends, sing and dance on the Toddler Time Stage with Bob the Builder and crawling babies can enter the Diaper Derby for a chance to win prizes.
Those attending the show will have different things they are interested in learning more about and I am certain some may discover something new for themselves or their little one that they didn’t even know existed. For me, the show will be about finding products and services that will help make my life easier as a very busy mom on-the-go.
We all have our own feeding preferences for our bubs and there is no right or wrong way. My decision has been to breast feed, even though I had great difficulties with it in the beginning. Continuing to work and still wanting to feed her breast milk means that I have had to acquire an adequate breast pump. Making that step was important so I can pump out a substantial amount of milk to help Max get by while I am away at meetings and shoots. I had a manual hand pump for light expressing early on to relieve myself of breast engorgement or to pump small amounts of milk but I have just upgraded to the new Sonata by Medela who just happens to be one of the show’s exhibitors. This double electric pump is smart, quiet and SUPER responsive. The personalization features is what had originally piqued my interest. The Sonata (now available in Canada) connects to the MyMedela app, so I can do real-time tracking of Maxwell’s growth, my pumping sessions and access to tons of evidence based lactation info all on my personalized pumping dashboard. Went a little crazy with the accessories but we figured – go big or go home.
Shop My Fave Medela Products Here
And if it wasn’t for shows like this, I would have never discovered other great products like Sleepbelt, a hands free skin-to-skin system. Maxie and I LOVE it and it’s made right here in Canada. It’s the perfect thing for the 4th trimester to help make your baby feel safe and secure outside the womb during those first few months. Not only does it create a comfy place for your bub to sleep skin-to-skin (0-3 months), but as they get older, the Sleepbelt can be used forward facing while the baby sits on your lap (when baby has full head/neck control) and as a gentle chair support (when baby can sit unassisted).
JOIN ME FOR “MOMMY and ME” YOGA ON SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11TH
Maxie and I will be attending our very first yoga class together on the second day of the show, which will be lead by Laura Wood, Founder of & She Moves Yoga Studio. She will be sharing the importance of exercise during pre, during and post baby and lead the group through a gentle flow with our littles. Class is scheduled to take place before the doors open to the public on Saturday November 11th. Space is extremely limited and open on a first come, first serve basis and we hope to see you guys there. *Class participation allows for free attendance to the show that day.
The BabyTime Show Presented By Babies R’ Us at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Bldg. 225 Front St
Dates & Times: November 10-12th, 2017 from 10AM – 6PM
Cost: Parents/Friends ($17) Grandparents ($10) Children Under 10 FREE